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Hank the Cowdog # 4: Murder in the Middle Pasture Another Amazing Conclusion There's been a brutal murder on the ranch, and it's up to everyone's favorite cowdog to find the culprit. But in the course of his investigation, Hank is kidnapped by coyotes! He escapes, but soon finds himself face-to-face with a pack of vicious wild dogs. I was by George trapped, is what it amounted to, between a pack of murdering wild dogs and a pack of murdering wild coyotes.
Now, I could have whipped one group or the other. I mean, odds of four- or five-to-one were nothing out of the ordinary for me. In security work, we figger four-to-one is about a fair fight, five-to-one is a challenge, and six-to-one is a pretty good scrap.
"One riot, one cowdog," is the way we put it.
But I hadn't been training for seven-to-one, and the chances of me whipping and possibly annihilating both groups were pretty slim.
Out of the question.
Which made retreat an attractive option, except there was no place to go. I stopped. Buster stopped. Scraunch and Rip and Snort stopped. The coyotes glared at the dogs and the dogs glared back at the coyotes.
Scraunch broke the silence. "Hunk belong to us. We not need fight everybody, only want Hunk."
That gave me an ideathe only one I had left, as a matter of fact. "Did you hear that, Buster? He said you guys better pack up and get off this ranch. And in case you didn't know it, he's a very important official in the coyote tribeno less than the son of Chief Many-Rabbit-Gut-Eat-in-Full-Moon."
Muggsie started laughing. Within seconds, they were all laughing. "What kind of two-bit foreign name is that! Many-Rabbit-Gut! Har, har, har!"
I turned to the coyotes. "There's your answer, Scraunch. Buster says you guys are a joke and you'd better vanish before there's a big fight."
Rip and Snort might not have understood every word of this, but they did savvy the word fight. And all at once their eyes lit up and they started whispering.
Buster took a step toward me. "Why don't you shut up? I can talk my own fights without any help from a yellow-bellied cowdog!"
"Did you hear that, Snort? He told you to shut up, and then he called you a yellow-bellied cowdog!"
The hair went up on Snort's back, and he took two steps forward. "Snort not like big talk."
Buster's eyes moved from me to the coyote. "Oh yeah?" Well let me tell you something, pal. Me and my boys got some business to take care of, so why don't you just shove off?"
Snort and Buster glared at each other. Then Rip stepped out and swaggered up beside his brother.
Buster grinned. "Oh yeah?" Hey Muggs, come here." Muggs moved up beside Buster and curled his lip at the coyotes. "Give 'em a growl."
Muggs puffed himself up and let out a deep growl. Rip and Snort looked at each other and started laughing. I mean, those guys had been in so many fights the idea of running a bluff was a joke.
That didn't sit too well with Buster. "Wise guys, huh? Ho-kay, whatever you think." He looked back and jerked his head at the two other goons. "Come here, boys. We got a couple of wise guys here."
The two dogs came up and took their place in the line. Buster turned to Rip and Snort and grinned.
"Now, like I was saying, why don't you guys go chase a rabbit and we'll tend to our business, huh?"
It was a stand-off. Both sides bristled and glared and snarled and stared, but neither one made a move. Then Scraunch came up.
"Not need fight with many dog, only want?"
Buster's head shot around. "Yeah, I bet you don't want fight with many dog, Chief-Chicken-Guts-in-the-Moonshine."
Muggs broke up on that. "Har, har, har!
Snort's eyes bulged.
"Not laugh at Scraunch!"
"Oh yeah? Listen pal, we're taking over this ranch and my boys can laugh at anything they want, see? Go on, Muggsie."
"Har, har, h?"
That was one har too many for Snort. If you recall, he wasn't a real bubbly sort and had a lousy sense of humor. He piled into Muggsie, Scraunch lit into Buster, and Rip took on the other two. And fellers, the fight was on! Just what will the amazing conclusion be? Find out in Hank the Cowdog #4: Murder in the Middle Pasture (copyright © John R. Erickson).