It took him an hour of walking to get back into Mullins. There was no sign of activity. He stood in the trees near the railroad crossing where Sleep had left him, waiting a half hour or so to see if anything would come by—a bus, or even a horse cart—but the crossing lay breathless under the heat, and he listened dully to the frogs creaking in the railroad ditches and the dry whir of the insects back in the pines. Finally he decided to come out in the open, everything being perfectly still. There was really nothing else he could do, and he started up the road for the EATS establishment where he had last left the Mark Tanner hillbillies.
He walked slowly because of the heat. When he got to the rickety porch he stepped up quietly. From inside came a low murmur of voices. He pushed open the screen door. They can help me, he kept telling himself, they can flag down a car for me, if one should pass by, or lend me a mule, or at least get me pointed in the right direction so I can hike out of here.
At his entrance four heads looked up at the corner table from under their tall hats. Complete strangers. My God! he thought, the Reilly brothers, kinfolk to the Reilly he was supposed to have killed up in the north forty! And here they are waiting for him...Hugh, Eugene and one who doesn't even have a name!
He smiled. "Howdy, folks!"
All of them stood abruptly and, with grotesque efforts like puppets pulled up by string suspenders, they hauled out long pistols which they leveled at him.
"Whar you from, boy?"
"I come from Fairfield, Connecticut."
The four hillbillies stirred and looked at each other. "There's a mighty big rumor 'round these parts," one of them said, "that you're in from Memphis with that club of yourn and that you did in our brother Dan Reilly up in the nawth fawty."
"That's crazy," the golfer protested.
"The Mark Tanner folk, why they is hee-hawing an' carryin' on an talkin' 'bout this professional killer all duded up in blue, hired from Memphis to per-pet-u-ate this foul deed 'gin our brother Dan."