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Everybody in town knows about the folly of Showdown Ranch, but only the old folks remember that it was my dad’s folly. It’s mine, too, even though we lost the land, lost all the workshops, lost everything except for what I’ve managed to salvage and stash away here in the barn. I’ve got the complete set of the Mech Gang now—all five of them—though they’re missing a bits and pieces. I’ve got Sheriff Poole, too. The only thing wrong with him is some scorching on the left side of his face, which makes him look more like one of the villains instead of the hero.

Nights I can’t sleep I leave the farm and walk to the next canyon over, the dog at my side. He sits and sifts through the night air for smells he likes while I sift through the ruins of Showdown Ranch. Developers were going to do something with the land but then the bottom fell out of the real estate market, and Linden is just far enough into the foothills of the Hierro Maderas to make the commute to Santo del Vado Viejo less attractive than those developers might have hoped. They’ve got the whole canyon boxed in with chain link fencing, but that’s not going to stop anybody. It sure doesn’t stop me.

One day I’ll buy the place back. Moon dreams, Mason tells me, trying to hide the worried look in her eyes, but I just smile. I know it’s not going to be tomorrow. Probably not for a whole mess of tomorrows. But I’m a patient man. And until then I’ll keep going through the rubble from the explosion and salvage what I can.

Tommy looks away from the poster. His gaze travels around the barn, but there’s not much to see. I’ve got the Mech Gang stashed under tarps in the old horse stalls. My workbench takes up the opposite length of the wall. The sheriff is lying there, except there’s a tarp over him as well, so unless you knew, you’d have no idea what I’m working on.

“So what did you want to show me?” Tommy asks, finally pulling his gaze away from the poster.

Tommy’s a picker, one of those guys who travels the countryside looking for deals on antiques and junk that they can buy cheap and sell for a profit. I met him at Sam’s Garage in town. I was getting gas for the truck; he was asking Sam’s widow if she’d mind him poking around the field of junked cars behind the garage. When I realized what he did for a living—when he told me his personal obsession was old carnie rides—I knew I had to invite him back here.

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