As the ranger's eyes searched, his hands deftly opened the Colt, dropped the one empty cartridge to the dirt, replaced it and snapped the chamber shut.
He slipped the Colt into his tied-down holster, but loosely, knowing that he might suddenly require its use again. Some parts of hell even the devil didn't travel alone, he told himself. His gaze moved warily outward, through the raging swirl of white heat surrounding the town, out across the harsh Mexican badlands.
After a moment he took the folded piece of paper from inside his riding duster and opened it as he kept an eye on the empty dusty street. From between two adobe buildings a skinny hound slunk out through the dust, picked up something from the dirt and raced away with it.
"Dallas Fadden, you're marked off," the ranger murmured to himself under his breath. He looked at the list of names on the paper—thieves, rapists, arsonists, assassins, wanton murderers, degenerates all—the worst of the worst, his captain had proclaimed them. With a pencil stub that he pulled from under the brim of his pearl-gray sombrero, he drew a straight line through Fadden's name.
On the ground at his feet, Fadden lay at the end of a long streak of bloody dirt where his trail of lawlessness had ended. A bullet hole gaped in the center of his back. The thumb of his right hand had been clipped off by the same single bullet before it bored through his heart. Seeing the bloody stub, Sam looked off in the direction the skinny hound had taken, and realized what had caused the animal to venture out before the smoke and dust had even settled. Sam folded the paper and put it away.