Zeke stood with his back to Charlie as he tied the two ropes onto his saddle. Without looking at his nemesis he said, "Charlie, you're a ways off your range, ain't you?"
"This is Redboot range, and I work for Redboot."
"Why don't you work where you're sent?" Zeke turned to face him.
Charlie smirked. "I don't see what that matters to you. Why don't you do a job right when you're sent?"
Zeke didn't answer. He just spit on the ground.
Charlie's face seemed to glow with satisfaction as it waggled. The bruise from the last fight was gone, but not the inner rage and not the gloating confidence that he was the better man. Gene saw that in his right hand, on the off side of his horse, Charlie had the half a rope that had been dallied to Dodger's saddle. Gene knew it was his rope because he saw the frayed cut end sticking out at the top of the coils.
Zeke said, "When I get sent out I do my work, whether I botch it or not, but I go where I'm sent and do what I'm told."
"I can't help it if I hear a shot and see a horse runnin' loose. I thought maybe little brother here had fell off his horse and shot hisself in the foot."
"Seems like you might be handy at bein' close at hand when there's shots to be heard."
"What do you mean by that?"
Gene said, "Last Tuesday--"
"You just keep out of this, little brother." Charlie turned to Gene and pointed with the hand that held the rope. Gene saw that the rope hung in three or four long loops. "You already done your team-work for the day," he went on. "Why don't you take a rest and keep out of this."
"How about last Tuesday?" Zeke said.
"How 'bout it?" Charlie spit off to the right.
"Someone took two shots at me up in the breaks."
"And you think it was me."
"I think it was somebody who was where he wasn't supposed to be."
"Did he miss?"
"What do you think?"
"Must not have been me. Let me tell you two things, Zeke Hill. When I shoot to hit, I don't miss. And I don't need a rifle to take care of you."