Statler's story was short and simple. He caught him digging through his pack in the tent he shared with his current woman when they both had the time. Thompson? He turned on the charm, flashed the grin, and started talking shit. Watching him I have to admit I liked it when he realized it wasn't going to cut it with the crowd. I saw the flash of amazement but he just switched gears to contriteness and, "I'm really, really sorry." He paused after uttering that and checked the crowd. I saw the first bit of uncertainty when he realized he wasn't getting the reaction he expected. I checked the crowd too, the handful of faces I saw nodding like a bunch of bobble heads with forgiveness I filed away under, "will eat shit if the spoon is pretty enough."
He looked around. For the first time I saw fear. Only for a micro-second, You had to be standing next to him and focused on his eyes to see it as it was gone that fast. Just as fast was the blink of animal cunning I saw followed by his dropping to his knees, stretching out his arms, and with tears running down his face he sobbed, "Please! In the name of Jesus! Forgive me!" I waited a couple of beats, than I reached down, grabbed him by the collar, pulled him to his feet, and told him, "Wrong church Slick."
Max told him, "Look at me Thompson."
I assisted Tompson with his reorientation and told him "Hey. You got snot running out of your nose."
He muttered, "Fuck you Gardener" and wiped some of it away with the back of his hand. I cuffed him lightly on the back of his head and stepped back.
Max told everyone while he stared at Thompson, "Your guilt is obvious. Your groveling is a disgrace. As was your calling..."
Thompson was back on his knees again. I was beginning to wonder if he was really gay. "Please Freya! Spare me!'
Freya looked at him than looked at Max. "It is customary where I come from for a thief to get his hand cut off and then be banished from the people."
Max contemplated what she said. At the same time Thompson yelled "I'll take it!"
I was thinking if this went on much longer I was going to cut his fucking head off myself when Max stepped away from Freya. He looked at the crowd and then Thompson. I took two steps away from him. All Max said was "No." I was glad I had moved when I heard that.
Max drew his .45, shot him in the head, stepped back again and told us, "Donate his weapons and belongings to the common fund." He stood there for a couple of beats while nobody moved or said anything.
"Get back to work. Winter is coming."
I watched him walk away while Cruz began yelling at people to get moving. I headed off in the opposite direction. I know I didn't look back and I was sure Max didn't either.