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familiar to Emmett, who decided something that made him reply, "Yea, I seem t' know you, too. But I ain't gonna brag about it!"

"Hey, fellas, you know who this cat is? He's Emmett Grogan! The big, bad motherfucker himself! The Emmett Grogan--the fastest gun in San Francisco 'n probably in the whole wild West! Ain't that right? You supposed to be the baddest, ain't ya?!"

Emmett knew that it was Billy the Kid showdown time and that he was gonna get got anyway, so he grabbed the punk who was doing all the jawing and ran him backwards, bashed his skull open against the cast-iron fence and threw a punch at the one coming up on his left side. It never landed. The piece of lead pipe landed, though, on the top right side of his forehead, and Emmett went down, but not completely out, leaving him with enough sense to cover up his head and face with his arms to block the engineer boots that were kicking at his skull, fast and hard from every which way. One of the round steel toes rammed clean into his balls, taking all the mickey out of him and also any chance his body might have had to scramble up and get him away from the trouble he was now hopelessly in.

He was just about to go under when the pounding of the kicks stopped, and he heard a lot of shuffling noise. He didn't look up until his hearing told him they had all run away. The dude whose head he cracked was still slumped against the fence, but a pair of black shoes suddenly blocked his view, and the blue pants bent down at the knee and a voice he didn't look at asked him how bad he was hurt and what were they after.

"I'm okay, just a little sore, officer. They were after my money, I guess."

"All right, the ambulance'll be here in a moment to take you to the hospital where they'll fix you up. You wait here, understand? I'm going after my partner who's chasin' 'em down Ninth Street."

The cop handcuffed the guy who started it all to the cast-iron fence and ran back to his squad car, burning rubber up Ninth Street after everybody else. Emmett heard other sirens coming from a long way off, and he figured he'd better get the fuck up and out of there before they got to him and he ended up staying in New York City for a very long time. The way the dude was slumped against the fence over there told him that it might be more than just a hassle he was in for if he stayed. So he pulled himself up to his feet and hailed a cab going crosstown to the West Side. [end page 461]


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