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"then he can be ignored, treated like zero."
"ok" kobo picked a remote up off mr zeto's desk and pressed it.
mr zeto turned and looked at the screen behind the desk. a couple of cowboys were crossing the desert.
"all these towns look the same," said the first cowboy.
"they don't look the same, they are the same."
the sun was at its zenith. they had left the last town hours ago.
"the sun is at its zenith,"said the first cowboy,who was quantrill, or maybe he was teddy roosevelt or amadis of gaul or ivan the terrible.
"zenith. that's a pretty big word for an ignorant mumblypegger like you.."
"don't these cowboys have names?" mr zeto asked. he picked up his cup of espresso and sipped it.
kobo stared straight ahead at the screen. "sure they have names - you have to watch the bottom the screen - the subtitles.'
"a man as busy as me shouldn't have to watch subtitles."
"just look - the guy on the left - with the brown hat - he's quantrill, or maybe he is teddy roosevelt or amadis of gaul or ivan the terrible. the other guy - in the yellow hat - he is frank james or maybe he is gavrilo princip or charlemagne or the red baron."
"i haven' t got time for this nonsense - they should be jake and buck."
"sure." kobo pressed the remote and the cowboys became jake and buck.
jake and buck continued across the desert. the sun began to set. a coyote began to howl.
" listen to that coyote howl," said jake.
"he don't sound too hungry to me," said buck. "must be a camp or a town around here for him to get some pickins."
sure enough there was a town over the next ridge. jake and buck rode into it.
there were a few people in the street. they all wore brown hats - no black, white, yellow or gray.
"looks like a brown hat town," said buck.
"it does that."
"you fellows looking to do some honest work?" said a voice behind them.
they turned to see a well fed man in a brown hat looking up at them.
"we don't do no other kind," jake answered.
"that we don't," added buck. "would this here be a mining town, a cattle town or what?" he looked around. it looked like just a town.
"it was a mining town," the man answered. "i'm the mayor of the town by the way, name's frank jenkins," he held his hand out to jake, then buck, shaking hands with both. "but we ran into a little trouble a while ago. seems some of the miners broke through the earth's crust to the fires of hades, and since then we've had a plague of demons." he squinted up at jake and buck. "you fellows got any experience fighting demons?"
"can't say i do," said jake. "some with vampires and zombies, but not with demons. name's dan quigley, by the way."
"and i'm sandy palgrave," said buck. "demons? nah. ghouls and rustlers, but no demons so far. i didn't realize these was demon-haunted parts."
"well, they ain't exactly haunting us." said frank jenkins, "we just got to get them back into the ground. four dollars a month, plus grub. how about it?"
"make it a dollar a week, instead of four a month."
'i see you are hard bargaining men. all right, you got yourselves a deal. come on, i 'll show to the bunkhouse and you can meet the other boys."
as dave and sandy were talking to jenkins, a hand pulled aside a curtain on a second story window across the street. mrs dandelion dupre, who owned the town, watched the trio as they rode back down the dusty street and out toward the mines.
"looks like that fool jenkins has hied some more human flotsam to try to fight the demons."
her daughter, dulcimer dupre, sat in a rocking chair in a shady corner deftly knitting a shawl. "i suppose it can't hurt for him to try. these fellows he hired, what did they look like? was they young, handsome? did they might be dukes or princes in disguise?"
"never you mind, missy, asking fool questions like that. how you think dukes and such going to be riding into town?"
"it's town, ain't it? if i could sit and look out the window myself i could see for myself couldn't i? wouldn't have to be asking you no questions."
"you just stay right in that corner and do your knitting. it's cool there ain't it? just be thankful you're not outside - in hell."