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New York, New York : Riverhead Books, 2014.
Description:
338 pages ; 24 cm
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"When Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, is released from prison in 1913, he is determined to find his wife, following her to New York City, where he confronts a changed world and enemies, old and new in this complex and involving historical novel"-- Provided by publisher.
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2013046245
ISBN:
9781594632457 (hardback)
1594632456 (hardback)
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866803642
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"When Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, is released from prison in 1913, he is determined to find his wife, following her to New York City, where he confronts a changed world and enemies, old and new in this complex and involving historical novel"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Imprisoned under a different name after being assumed killed in a Bolivian shootout, Harry Longbaugh, infamously known as the Sundance Kid, reenters a changed world in 1913 determined to reconnect with his beloved wife only to discover her violent nature. By the author of Sweetsmoke. - (Baker & Taylor)

Imprisoned under a different name after being assumed killed in a Bolivian shootout, Harry Longbaugh, infamously known as the Sundance Kid, reenters a changed world in 1913 determined to reconnect with his beloved wife. - (Baker & Taylor)

A gripping historical novel of love and vengeance starring Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid.

Legend has it that bank robber Harry Longbaugh and his partner Robert Parker were killed in a shootout in Bolivia. That was the supposed end of the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.

Sundance tells a different story. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Longbaugh is very much alive, though serving in a Wyoming prison under an alias.

When he is released in 1913, Longbaugh reenters a changed world. Horses are being replaced by automobiles. Gas lamps are giving way to electric lights. Workers fight for safety, and women for the vote. What hasn’t changed are Longbaugh’s ingenuity, his deadly aim, and his love for his wife, Etta Place.

It’s been two years since Etta stopped visiting him, and, determined to find her, Longbaugh follows her trail to New York City. Confounded by the city’s immensity, energy, chaos, and crowds, he learns that his wife was very different from the woman he thought he knew. Longbaugh finds himself in a tense game of cat and mouse, racing against time before the legend of the Sundance Kid catches up to destroy him.

By turns suspenseful, rollicking, and poignant, Sundance is the story of a man dogged by his own past, seeking his true place in this new world.
- (Penguin Putnam)

A gripping historical novel of love and vengeance starring Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid.

Legend has it that bank robber Harry Longbaugh and his partner Robert Parker were killed in a shootout in Bolivia. That was the supposed end of the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.

Sundance tells a different story. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Longbaugh is very much alive, though serving in a Wyoming prison under an alias.

When he is released in 1913, Longbaugh reenters a changed world. Horses are being replaced by automobiles. Gas lamps are giving way to electric lights. Workers fight for safety, and women for the vote. What hasn’t changed are Longbaugh’s ingenuity, his deadly aim, and his love for his wife, Etta Place.

It’s been two years since Etta stopped visiting him, and, determined to find her, Longbaugh follows her trail to New York City. Confounded by the city’s immensity, energy, chaos, and crowds, he learns that his wife was very different from the woman he thought he knew. Longbaugh finds himself in a tense game of cat and mouse, racing against time before the legend of the Sundance Kid catches up to destroy him.

By turns suspenseful, rollicking, and poignant, Sundance is the story of a man dogged by his own past, seeking his true place in this new world. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

David Fuller is a screenwriter and the author of Sweetsmoke. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and twin sons.
- (Penguin Putnam)

David Fuller is a screenwriter and the author of Sweetsmoke. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and twin sons. - (Random House, Inc.)

First Chapter or Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

Copyright © 2014 David Fuller

1

RAWLINS, WYOMING

1913—Late Spring

  

He stepped through the arched grillwork gate and into free sunlight for the first time in twelve years. The sun was a shock against his pale skin and his eyes watered against the brightness. He adjusted his saddle against his hip, then slowly crossed the small yard with the raked dirt and stooped saplings. When he reached the road, he stopped. The air carried smells of baked earth, sagebrush, horse manure. Crested wheatgrass at the roadside bent under a breeze that a moment later raised the hair on his arms.

He looked around, pretending to take in his surroundings. The town was much as it had been back in ’01, when he had gone in. A few more sun-warped, low-slung homes, a few more tall buildings in the downtown business area near the railway station. But through the dust and heat, he scanned the road with a different purpose. He was looking for her. It was that time of morning when people were at their jobs, and the road, which ran directly through town to the railroad tracks, was not busy. He fingered the faded olive-colored bandanna tucked under his shirt collar. He had worn it every day, even while in prison, ever since she’d given it to him before he’d been arrested. Finally he quit looking and turned away. She was not there. He was alone.

He set down his saddle and noted where the guard’s fingers had made clean marks in the dust. The fool had collected it from storage and carried it upside down. How could a man in the West not know how to carry a saddle? But then, what sort of fool was he, a man with a saddle and no horse? He reminded himself that the world was no longer his, a changed place he would need to relearn.

His gun belt was coiled around the pommel. He knew at a glance that the gun in the holster was not his and had never belonged to him. He didn’t bother to draw it, as he had already guessed what had happened. His own had been stolen inside while in storage, replaced with this cheap imitation, and there was not a thing to be done about that. He wondered why they hadn’t taken the saddle.

He bent to pick it up. His fingers felt for the stitching on the saddle’s underside. He touched the hard edge of coins he had sewn there almost fifteen years before, in case of emergencies. They had missed that, which meant he was not broke. He balanced the saddle on his hip and walked the six blocks through the town.

He knew little sense of time, as his mind was preoccupied. She might have stayed in any one of the boardinghouses he passed, but he had never been there, and did not know which one. She had lived there for years, visiting him each week. That had come to an end five years before, when he had sent her away, as he could no longer stand to see her wasting her life waiting for him to get out. For three of those years they had been in constant communication through letters. Until the day her letters stopped coming, bringing on a sudden, terrible, unexplained silence. He had held on to the small hope that she would surprise him, that she would be there when he was released. That she was not there meant that he would have to find her, track her down, if need be. He did not know how to start looking, but he would find her, he would find his wife and know one way or the other if she was dead or alive.

He walked until he was surrounded by the tall two-story buildings of downtown. He stopped when he saw a vehicle that moved with no visible source of power. This was something new and impossible, and at first he failed to understand it. His eye sought invisible horses that might be pulling it. After a moment he realized it had to be a motorcar. It came toward him making a metallic sound, and the cloud that trailed it was unlike the dust off the back of a wagon. He had heard of motorcars while inside, but seeing one in person made him keenly aware of the things he had missed. He was entering the world anew. He thought he heard the jingle of harness and clop of horseshoes as the motorcar passed, clearly his imagination, then was surprised when a horse and wagon came around from behind him. Surprised, but also relieved. The old world was not quite banished, but it had certainly eroded. In that moment he thought he understood why his saddle hadn’t been stolen. In this world, there seemed to be less need for a horse.

He reached Front Street. Every sprouting town alongside the Union Pacific railroad line had a Front Street that faced the tracks, with saloons, hotels, and brothels, shoulder to shoulder to shoulder. Because of the tracks, these towns grew more rapidly, and were more modern than the rest of the West. He passed a number of busy saloons until he chose one at the far end that was clean and empty. He walked into its cool, dark interior. He set saddle and gun belt on the rough wood floor and straightened to face a bar shining with varnish. He watched the saloonkeeper feign diligence, running a white cloth over an area already spotless. The saloon was unnaturally quiet, which put him on alert. Something was wrong, something not immediately evident. He listened, but rather than find something present, he discovered an absence. He concentrated on the distant whine in his ears and after a moment knew it was in his head and he was listening to silence. This was something new, as it meant the complete lack of hiss. He had lived with hiss for the last twelve years. He sniffed and there was no smell of gas. The room held still without the sporadic judder of gaslight. He looked at glass bulbs aglow with steady electricity.

He tucked the olive bandanna deeper under his shirt collar.

The saloonkeeper watched him out of the tail of his eye as if in recognition. Harry Longbaugh tightened, then shrugged it away. The saloonkeeper had almost certainly served any number of recently released convicts, probably every one of them geared up in Longbaugh’s haunted pallor and guarded eyes.

“Before you say a word,” the saloonkeeper stashed his rag behind the bar, “I seen plenty of you boys come on down here from the pen, and it’s always the same, ‘Years since my last drink,’ like it’s my job to stake you. Well, you got yourself put there and my liquor ain’t free, better to know that while you’re sober.”

Longbaugh dug out the coins the guards had returned when they brought his saddle, holster, clothes, hat, and boots. He set them on the polished bar. The saloonkeeper nodded, moved a glass under his nose, and poured. Longbaugh marveled at it—not the liquor but the glass. A real glass. Not a tomato can. A real glass in his hand.

“Guess you ain’t had it in a while. Word to the wise, maybe you ought go easy.” The saloonkeeper put the bottle back up on the shelf as if that would keep it out of reach.

“One day someone will listen to that good advice,” said Longbaugh.

He heard laughter from a table in back. “But not today!” said an older man’s voice through a cackle. Longbaugh had not noticed anyone else there, and wondered not for the first time if he had lost his touch.

“Got a name?” said the saloonkeeper.

Without thinking, Longbaugh spoke the name he had been using for the last twelve years: “Alonzo. Harry Alonzo.”

The older man snorted “Alonzo” as if in recognition, and Longbaugh knew he should be going. He drank his drink.

But he did not leave. He turned to consider the man he had failed to notice. The man’s eyes were off, and he realized the old man had a lazy eye that drifted aside to admire the electric lights. Three shot glasses were lined up in front of him, each one full, each one untouched. The old man kept them out of reach on the far edge of the table, where he considered them disdainfully.

“You know me?” said Longbaugh.

“I know what makes men crazy,” said the old man.

“Don’t mind Orley,” said the saloonkeeper, “he’s harmless. Most days he sits and keeps his thoughts to himself.” He meant to warn old man Orley by his emphasis.

“Most days nobody comes in. Not the smart ones, anyway,” said Orley.

“They all come in, Mr. Orley,” said Longbaugh, “smart, dim, ignorant.”

“That so?” said Orley, confused but curious.

“And they insult you.”

Olney sat straighter and smiled. “That they do, yessir, that they do.”

“Shut your mouth, old man.” The saloonkeeper wanted to keep his paying customer happy. “Really, mister. You don’t have to humor him, he’s a little light upstairs.”

“Wouldn’t be a bit surprised,” said Orley happily.

Longbaugh stared at the old man, then at the three full shot glasses. “You see drink for what it is,” said Longbaugh.

Orley nodded. “The Devil’s brew is what it is. Turns men evil.”

Longbaugh smiled and looked down at the bar. “Not much of an excuse.”

Orley’s wandering eye moved to Longbaugh so that he now saw him with both eyes. He grinned as if he had been waiting for a kindred soul. He came halfway out of his chair, leaned forward to take the middle shot glass, brought the glass to his lips, and drank the whiskey down. The saloonkeeper watched with openmouthed surprise.

“We had a drink together once, Old Scratch and I,” said Orley, setting the empty shot glass down in front of him as he sat back down.

“Good company, was he?”

“Best you could know.”

“Charming?”

“Polite. Good for a laugh.”

“Why not. He gets what he wants.”

“All he has to do is wait. We all get to him in time.”

“Some sooner than others.”

The saloonkeeper looked back and forth, from Longbaugh to Orley. “Orley? I never saw you drink before.”

Orley appeared calm now. “Waiting for someone to drink with.”

Longbaugh kept his eyes on the bar and spoke softly. “How long since she’s been gone?”

Orley answered without pause. “My wife has been dead ten years. Give or take a decade.”

“How?”

“Cholera, they said. Went fast. Not pretty.”

Longbaugh spoke almost to himself. “That is hell.” If Etta was dead, that could well be him in ten years.

Someone opened the door and Longbaugh saw a narrow silhouette cut the sunlight in two, gun belt strapped to his waist, holster hanging low by his hand. He could not make out his age. Longbaugh watched him duck his head to come in and the electric light revealed an awkward boy around seventeen. His hips were lean and struggled to hold up his jeans and gun belt, his shirt bloused around his reedy torso, while his neck stretched tall to reach his smooth chin and small head.

“Heard you was gettin’ out today, mister.” The very young man had a high voice, as if it had to rise to climb that neck. Dark fuzz was evident on his upper lip. Longbaugh saw something dried white along the edge of the boy’s mustache hair and thought it was milk.

“You the welcoming party?”

“I have a personal acquaintance with sheriff ’s deputies, mister, and sheriff ’s deputies have a personal acquaintance with prison guards at the Rawlins Penitentiary. They tell me everything they’d’a told my daddy.” The gun belt was a good one, well worn and comfortable, and obviously had originally belonged to an older man.

Longbaugh realized the young man had followed him from the penitentiary. He wasn’t fooled by the narrow frame and high voice. The truly dangerous were the young. They believed their dreams to be real and that they would live forever. A tongue of fear licked the nape of his neck, and it was not fear of the boy. A situation like this had come on him early in prison. When it was over, no one tested him a second time. He was not proud of what he had done.

Longbaugh turned his back on the very young man and leaned over the varnished bar. He looked at the reflection of his motionless fingers in the high polish. He was unnaturally still, as if blood no longer pulsed through his body, and that absolute lack of motion commanded the attention of the others.

The young man spoke louder to his back. “You’re why my father died.”

“I never killed another man.”

“You made his reputation, and you took it away.”

“I did not know your daddy.”

“The hell you say, mister, Bill Lorigan was his name, Sheriff William Lorigan, you remember him now? You do, you know that name, he arrested you and was bringing you in when you escaped and turned him into a joke.”

Orley chuckled. “Sheriff died of a punch line, one picked lock away from immortal fame.” Longbaugh grimaced, thinking, Please don’t help me. Orley aimed a finger at Longbaugh. “Now I got your name: Houdini.”

The saloonkeeper snapped, “Quiet, you,” then turned to the young man. “Leave my customer alone, Billy, he ain’t bothering you. Have a heart, boy.”

“Already got one. Once it stops, I don’t.”

Longbaugh didn’t care for the way the young man strove to sound dangerous. Then he wondered about this Houdini. The name sounded as if it had been made up. He watched the young man peripherally, aware of the itch in the boy’s smooth fingers that hovered near the heel of his revolver.

“My sheriff . . . my daddy, Sheriff Lorigan, he said the Kid was the fastest.”

At the sound of that nickname, Longbaugh turned to stone.

“This is Mr. Alonzo, and as long as you’re in my place, you would be well advised to leave him be.”

Longbaugh felt it coming.

“You’re the Kid,” said the young man.

And there it was.

“Don’t be a jackass, the Kid died in Bolivia,” said the saloonkeeper.

 “That’s the story,” said the young man, “but I know better.”

“This is Mr. Alonzo.”

“My daddy told me more things about you.”

“Daddy was wrong,” said Longbaugh.

“Said you was most affable, and that made you dangerous, and my daddy warn’t never wrong.”

Longbaugh was not amused. “Maybe not so affable,” thinking, Butch was the affable one.

“Asking you to leave, Billy,” said the saloonkeeper.

“You ain’t gonna trick me like you tricked him,” said the young man.

“No one could trick your daddy.” Longbaugh’s words were free of mockery.

“Asking you to leave. Nicely.”

“Let him say he’s the Kid.”

“Kid died in Argentina,” said the saloonkeeper.

“Bolivia,” said the young man. “And that had to be somebody else, ’cause I heard it from the deputies, who heard it from the guards that he was in jail the whole time.”

Longbaugh kept his eyes from looking at him. He hoped to wait him out, exhaust his patience, and get him to give it all up. Either that or just wait till the boy shot him then and there in the back and put all this to rest.

“You don’t got to say who you are, mister. I already know. I’ll meet you outside when you’re ready.”

The young man backed up, never taking his eyes from Longbaugh as he left the saloon.

Orley got up from his table and limped to the window. “He’s waiting, all right.”

“Time for another drink, then,” said Longbaugh.

The saloonkeeper was gravely serious. “Story he told you was true, his daddy was humiliated after the Kid got away, and, well, it sounds funny but it was like he died of a broken heart.”

“I’m paying for it,” said Longbaugh. After a moment he indicated that he meant the liquor for his empty glass. The saloonkeeper was solemn and troubled and still did not pour Longbaugh a second drink.

Longbaugh stopped waiting and bent over to lift the gun belt off the saddle horn. He pulled the piece from the holster and inspected it for the first time. An old revolver, single action, someone’s cheap imitation of the Colt Peacemaker. He’d used one like it when he himself had been a very young man and could afford nothing better. It was a standard tool, just as it had been back then, a standard dull tool.

Orley could not resist elbowing his thoughts into the room. “Heard about this incarcerated fella. Told ’em a fake name when they booked him so they didn’t know he was famous, and if they ever found out, they never got around to changin’ it. Too much bureaucracy or maybe just laziness. But everyone inside figured out who he was.

“Then in ’08 someone killed that famous fella down in South America, or so the papers said. Happened so far away, it were tough to prove one way or t’other, but that’s what came out and folks believed it. Got me thinkin’ about what it was like bein’ that famous fella, stuck in the pen, hearin’ everybody say he were dead. You figure maybe he wanted to let folks know? Wave his arms and say, ‘Hey, I ain’t dead, I’m right here, look over this way.’ Or you think he decided it were better if he just stayed dead?”

Longbaugh saw the saloonkeeper staring at him with a significant look of pain. Longbaugh pointed to his empty glass.

“That young fellow’s out there,” said the saloonkeeper. “I don’t know in all good conscience if I can serve you. One whiskey calms the nerves, mister, but a second might slow you down.”

“Just might,” said Longbaugh. “If there’s a God.”

Orley wasn’t finished. “Couple years back, I heard somethin’ else. Heard that after he died in Bolivia, this famous fella hurt some other prisoner when the prisoner said somethin’ bad to him. Nobody seems to know what, though.”

Longbaugh scowled. “Sounds like Tuesday morning in the pen.”

“No, sir, our boy, he were a model inmate, nobody got his goat. Whatever that prisoner said was particular.” Orley then leaned forward as if he could affect intimacy from across the room. “Maybe you tell me what it was made you hurt him. I promise, cross my heart, to carry it to my grave.”

Longbaugh let silence carry the moment. He looked directly at the saloonkeeper, who finally gave in and poured. Longbaugh let the full glass sit before him, reflected warmly in the bar’s shine. He leaned forward and plucked a rag from behind the counter, leaving the olive bandanna untouched under his shirt. He took apart the cheap revolver and laid it out. He took each piece in hand and cleaned it. No one spoke a word while he worked. He put it back together piece by piece. He tested the action. He scowled as he sighted down the barrel. He tested its weight in his hand. He stared into space for a moment. Then he loaded the gun and slid it back in the holster, finally bringing it out a fraction to test where it had to be so that the chamber could turn while still in the leather.

He lifted the glass to his lips and drank as if he’d never get another.

“There another way out?” said Longbaugh.

“Never took you to be a coward,” said Orley.

Longbaugh’s jaw clenched, but he waited on the saloonkeeper. The saloonkeeper angled his head to indicate a back door. Longbaugh stood, hoisted his saddle with the gun belt again hanging off the pommel, and went out that way.

He stepped into a quiet alley. An old dog with a skin condition lifted his head and stared at him through cataracts. When Longbaugh didn’t move, the dog put his head back down. Longbaugh thought he had won this round, thought he was clear. He was relieved and his mind instantly moved back to Etta, as he began to recalculate how he would go about finding her. She had a special music inside that he longed to hear again.

Then he heard the high voice from around the corner, and the young man stepped into his view.

“My daddy said you was affable, but he also said you was slippery.”

Longbaugh stood on packed soil in the back alley between buildings where the morning sun had been and was now gone. He kept the saddle resting on his hip. He had not had a chance to have his boots shined, to enjoy a shave, or soak in a hot bath. He had had two whiskeys. He had eaten nothing since breakfast. He grieved in that moment for the other things he would not get to do. Then he turned to face the very young man.

“My daddy said you was fast.”

“One last time. I did not know your daddy.”

“You still fast? Don’t matter. My daddy taught me afore he died. What’d your friend say in there? He died a punch line. Well, no, sir. Nobody’s gonna laugh when I make him a somebody, ’cause I got his name, and once they know mine, they’ll know his.”

“Heard a man say that the first one to draw always seems to lose,” said Longbaugh philosophically.

Young Billy Lorigan was confused by the man’s extraordinary calm. It made him uneasy.

“Got me to thinking,” said Longbaugh. “Does he draw first because he needs an edge? Or is it the second man’s reaction? One man draws, he acts. You draw second and you’re quicker.”

“How fast are you?”

Longbaugh stared at him. That was an unfortunate question, and he felt the old itch to show him. It appeared, however, that the young man was not going to give Longbaugh a chance to cinch on his gun belt. He shifted the saddle off his hip closer to his belt buckle so the holster was angled just so and in sudden reach.

“Maybe you’ll show me if I draw first,” said the young man.

“Haven’t fired a gun in years.” That was so, but he had stayed quick. A small voice reminded him that he was older now, and this wasn’t his gun.

“Not my problem, exactly. Unless you think I should let you warm up?”

“I’d rather be on my way.”

“My daddy told me what to expect.”

“If I were who you say, you’d have already drawn your last breath, and I still hear you talking.”

 “You’re him.”

“No one here to help you.”

Insulted. “Don’t need no goddamn help.”

The way the gun hung there, the leather sides of the holster would not hinder the revolution of the chamber, not for one shot.

He watched young Billy Lorigan’s twitchy fingers.

The cheap gun was in easy reach. He didn’t trust it, but this was the hand dealt, and if he had to he’d play it. He looked at the dried milk on the young man’s upper lip.

“I’m going to try once more. Walk away. Remember your daddy for the good man he was, and forget what anyone else says. Let your mama watch you grow up. No shame in not drawing down on a man you don’t know.”

The young man remained still, and Longbaugh saw the words had not moved him. He wondered if Billy Lorigan truly intended to draw on an unarmed man.

Longbaugh knew what it was like to run, and he told him. “Your life will change. They’ll come after you, you’ll have to hide in the hills, you’ll be hungry and cold. Your daddy ever teach you to find water? He teach you to hunt the badlands? It’s lonely, you can’t come back to visit your mama, and they’ll come after you hard, so you better be smart and you better be cagey.”

Confusion dimmed the young man’s eyes. But his confusion changed to a surprising resolve, and Longbaugh realized the boy had taken the wrong lesson from his words. The boy had heard a concession, that Longbaugh was trying to dissuade him because Longbaugh believed he couldn’t win. Longbaugh opened his mouth to warn him, then shut it because it was a waste of breath.

The young man smiled just before he moved. Longbaugh watched, and as quick as the young man was, and he was very quick, through Longbaugh’s eyes he moved at a measured pace that stretched the seconds, fingers digging through dry air to grab the handle, thumb webbing hitting the back of the hammer, hand direction changing to bring the piece up, lifting metal against gravity, clearing the leather, other hand sailing across to get above it, barrel swinging up, but the barrel never came level.

Longbaugh reacted, hand to gun, wrist-angle, trigger squeeze, midair smoke-splash, ear-slap bang, and the boy dropped, clothes off a clothesline, scarecrow off his cross, exhaling into a silent ground.

Longbaugh set the saddle down, dull pistol smoking in the holster still hanging off the pommel. He moved to stand over the boy’s body, feeling as if a frozen corkscrew had speared the top of his head and twisted down through his skull into his neck, back, and legs. Your Daddy was slow, too, Longbaugh thought from within his cold, pitiless heart. Taught you all he knew. And now look. Longbaugh was disgusted, furious at the boy for putting him in an alley full of the smoke of death. Furious at his thin-skinned daddy who fumed at the mockery and trained his boy to be his avenger.

Once again the old dog set his head back down on the ground.

They would come for him now. He had to run, and he wondered if he would bother. But a return to the Rawlins Pen was not an option. He was done with steel bars and seething men and entitled guards. Cold spread out from his spine to his fingers and toes. He was surprised to see the saloonkeeper standing at the head of the alley, then surprised again when Orley peered out from behind him.

“I saw it. You gave him every chance,” said the saloonkeeper.

“You saw it,” said Longbaugh skeptically.

“Saw the whole thing.”

“You saw it.”

“All right, I didn’t exactly see it.”

“No.”

“But I know what happened.”

“Did you see it happen?”

“Well, no . . .”

“No, you didn’t. And with my reputation, the truth will never hold its shape.”

Heads were poking out of back doors after the sound of the gunshot.

“Take the boy’s horse,” said the saloonkeeper. “He don’t need it now.” The saloonkeeper led him around to the front of the saloon, away from the peeking heads, to where the young man’s horse stood. Longbaugh tasted sour in the back of his throat, and tried to swallow it back down. His legs were shaking, not from fear but from the cold running under his skin.

Longbaugh set his concentration on the horse. He might once have been a decent animal but he had been mistreated. Longbaugh made a slow, wide approach to the horse’s side, watching out of the edge of his eye as it shifted, shying, assessing, blowing. Its large eye followed him, liquid and afraid. Longbaugh set a gentle hand on the horse’s neck. He felt the creature shiver, then after a long moment with his hand flat along the neck, the horse eased and settled down.

He removed the young man’s saddle from the horse’s back.

“Get this to his mother.”

The saloonkeeper took the saddle and held it awkwardly. Longbaugh scowled and rearranged it against the man’s hip.

“You know his name?”

“Billy Lorigan?”

“The horse. Do you know his name?”

“Heard him call it Felon one time . . .”

“Figures.”

“. . . but he could have just been insulting it, like calling it son of a bitch.”

“Felon it is.”

“Look, mister, now I look at him, he’s got a mean streak like his owner,” said the saloonkeeper. “Livery’s next door. We can trade this one, get you a new mount . . .”

Longbaugh did not move from aside the horse. There wasn’t time to make a good connection, so he had to make do. He pressed his open left hand against the horse’s broad cheek, slipped a rope around his neck, then removed the bit, a “spade,” from the horse’s mouth. He looked at the “spade,” an ugly thing, engineered for cruelty. He looked at the horse’s inner cheek and tongue where the bit had ripped flesh. The young man had ridden the horse hard on its mouth, and Longbaugh knew he would have to find time to let it heal. He experienced a furious dislike for the young man for mistreating his animal, then, with astonishing regret, he remembered he had just killed the boy and the two emotions wove into a taut mental braid that sizzled and sparked where they entwined. The horse sensed his tension, and Longbaugh moved his trembling palm away to regain control of himself. He blinked and stared into the street, seeking that inner sleeve where he could sheathe his emotions and safely reconnect with the beast.

Once calm, he walked the horse to the livery. The stable man pointed out a new bit, and Longbaugh threw away the spade. The horse came warily back to neutral, but he had expected no less. He had always been good with horses. The horse accepted the new bit. Longbaugh put his dusty saddle on the horse’s back and cinched the girth. He finally wiped down the saddle, revealing an old friend in good condition.

The saloonkeeper took a position at the corner of the livery where he could see up the alley to the spot where Billy Lorigan had fallen. The saloonkeeper shifted from foot to nervous foot on his heels. He watched townspeople gather, speaking loudly as if to reassure the dead body that they were doing all they could to avenge him. The saloonkeeper looked at Longbaugh and opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. The townspeople united in their outrage and raced to the lip of collective frenzy. Longbaugh saw the saloonkeeper lift his hands to urge him to move a little faster, an implicit please in his gesture.

“They’re talking posse,” said the saloonkeeper, balling up his apron in his hands.

“Talking about bringing rope.” The saloonkeeper released his apron, then balled it up again.

“Men going for their sidearms,” said the saloonkeeper, watching one of the men coming this way down the alley.

“Count twelve, no, fifteen of them.” The saloonkeeper backed up a step and the man ran past.

“You got to go now, Kid!”

Longbaugh glanced up as the nickname hovered in air.

“Ride out the south side of town, stay left through the stand of piñon, they won’t see you going into the dry creek.”

Finally Longbaugh placed his boot in the stirrup and came up without swinging his leg over. He stayed there, standing on the single stirrup and patting the horse’s side until he felt the horse accept him. He swung his leg over and sat. He was quiet for a moment, years since he rode, and knew he would have blisters as the calluses of the past were but a memory. He heard the familiar creak of leather under his buttocks and thighs, and continued to measure the state of mind of the horse. He was curious as to why the saloonkeeper and Orley had taken his side. The horse took a step and Longbaugh brought him back, steadied him, and when he felt the horse fully alert to him, directed him with a nudge of his knee.

He looked at Orley.

“You going to tell them?”

“You know I wouldn’t.”

Longbaugh knew that he would. The old man would not be able to stop himself, he had finally made a connection and it had brought him to life. They might not believe the old man, but they would come hard after him on the off chance that Orley was telling the truth about Longbaugh’s identity.

He nodded to the saloonkeeper and Orley, and he and the horse named Felon rode out of town.

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Booklist Reviews

In 1913, Harry Longbaugh, aka the Sundance Kid, gets out of prison in Wyoming and goes looking for the love of his life, Etta Place. No, he didn't die in Bolivia, and Sundance is Fuller's speculation on what might have happened. Sundance was devoted to Etta and visited her regularly while she lived. Then, two years earlier, she moved to New York City, and her letters mysteriously stopped. Sundance digs up old loot from a train robbery to fund his search and turns New York upside down. Etta left a curious trail, weaving among feminists, anarchists, and Wobblies—and more unsavory types as well. Sundance deduces that she fears for her life and is leaving a coded trail. As an alternative history, the novel isn't convincing; Sundance just seems too gentlemanly, smart, and cultured. However, as a man looking for a lost wife in early-twentieth-century New York, Fuller's version of Sundance is compelling. And Fuller's research, encompassing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, early feminism, and even New York's amazing subways, is exemplary. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

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2014

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