Remember Gus, Call, and the gang? Well, forget 'em. We're moving to a new cast of characters.
Chapter 26 picks up in the town of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Jake Spoon has already shot Ben Johnson, the dentist/mayor (people have to pull double duty in these small towns), and Ben's bro, the sheriff, July Johnson, with his deputy Roscoe, need to hunt Spoon down.
July is being pressured to hang Jake by Peach, Ben's widow, but July doesn't want to leave Elmira, his wife.
All right, you're all caught up on Arkansas news. Here we go.
July returns home to his little cabin, which is filled with his complaining wife, Elmira, and his stepson, Joe.
Elmira's mind doesn't really care much for her husband. She pines for her ex, Das Boot. Wait, we mean Dee Boot. Is there anyone not named after a tool or a piece of clothing?
Elmira initially thinks it's stupid for July to go after Jake. She thinks everything July does is stupid, but then she realizes she can run away when he leaves. So she encourages him to go—and to take her son, Joe, with him.
In the morning, July and Joe saddle up. Elmira makes them breakfast, which is nice considering she doesn't really love either of them.
July leaves Roscoe in charge and tells him to look after Elmira. And off he goes.
For six days, Roscoe enjoys his time in charge. He enjoys it because he just takes naps in the jail all day.
But responsibility strikes: Elmira is missing.
Roscoe is visited by Peach and a man named Charlie Barnes, who just says, "We think she's gone" (29.31)—over and over again.
The guys think Elmira could have been taken by an animal or a man. Is there a difference?
But there's no sign of struggle in the cabin. Unless it was a very considerate bear, the animal theory is unlikely.
Peach suggests that Elmira was simply tired of July, and so she left. Probably took a whiskey boat clear outta town.
Charlie's only contribution is, "His wife's gone" (29.89). Very helpful.
Under pressure from Peach, Roscoe is forced to saddle up and find July to tell him of his missing wife.
"I hope nobody don't rob the bank while I'm gone" (29.96), Roscoe says, as if he could stop them.
Roscoe takes one last look at the town and then heads for Texas.
Speaking of Texas, we're back in Jake and Lorie's camp.
Jake had an accident—a poisonous splinter got in his hand, making him even more useless than usual.
Deets visits the camp and digs the splinter from Jake's hand with a hot needle.
Lorena worries that something worse will happen to Jake on the trip. Then where will she be?
Good thing Deets is there. He tells Lorie to do her cooking and then put out the fire. A bad wind and a storm are a-comin'.