Thursday, January 12, 2012
Now Playing: Full Moon
New to these parts? To start at the beginning of the story,
click Full Moon 1.
Conclusion of Episode Two:
Leona was sitting on the bed cradling the baby, who was now sleeping. She was singing “Jesus Loves Me” in a soft voice.
Rance Dehner felt very uncomfortable. “I’ll find Del Burgess for you, and I’ll be back in the morning with some more food.” He hastily left the cabin.
The detective knew the area well, and with the light from a full moon could ride at a steady gait. He glanced at the corpse on the horse behind him. Curt Tatum had been a gun for hire. Who had hired him to find Leona and for what reason? Was Tatum supposed to kill the girl?
Dehner laughed softly at his own plight. The detective had to take Tatum’s corpse into Colter, where he knew the sheriff could identify the killer and would agree to write a letter to the Lowrie Agency stating that yes, Curt Tatum was dead, his remains brought in by Rance Dehner. The agency could then collect its fee from a client whose brother Tatum had murdered.
After that, it should be over for the detective, but he knew he couldn’t leave it there. He had to investigate Leona’s plight. Dehner’s instincts told him the girl was in imminent danger.
His instincts were right.
As the stagecoach approached Colter, Colorado, Bradford Maltin felt uneasy. He hadn’t spoken to his son during the whole trip from Denver. Bradford spit tobacco particles out the window and decided it didn’t really matter. He had no interest in anything his son had to say.
Inhaling on his large cigar, the businessman realized that wasn’t quite true. One matter concerning his son interested him. But he couldn’t discuss it here. The third passenger in the stagecoach was a preacher. Bradford was certain of that. The man across from him was reading a Bible and would occasionally look up and give him and his son Will a saccharine smile.
Bradford was marooned in a stagecoach with his son beside him and a preacher across from him. Beelzebub himself couldn’t have arranged a more awful trip, the businessman mused. But it would be over soon, the clergyman would be out of his life forever and he could discuss that one important matter with Will.
His son, of course, would not be out of his life forever. Will was a permanent pebble in his shoe: a thin, pale boy of seventeen, spoiled rotten and good for nothing.
When the stagecoach arrived at Colter, Bradford Maltin was the first passenger out. He retrieved the two cowhide valises belonging to him and Will and looked about to get his bearings.
“You said the hotel is down this way,” He pointed to his left as he handed his son one of the valises.
The other passenger on the stage approached the two men. “It was a pleasure traveling with you gentlemen. We never got around to introducing ourselves. My name is Reverend--”
Bradford Maltin brushed by the pastor, his son trailing after him. At forty-one Maltin was in good shape for a man who spent most of his days behind a desk. The vibrant health was owed to a love of hunting in the mountains that surrounded Denver.
Maltin moved at a fast pace down the boardwalk and almost charged through the hotel doors, which were open. He stopped abruptly in the lobby of the hotel, his cigar almost dropping out of his mouth. A large sign was resting there on a tripod; the paint still looked wet.
Tonight Starting at 5:00 PM
View the dead body of Curt Tatum legendery Killer
120 Hilton Street
Cost: Ten Cents Children under 12: Five Cents
1 night onley!
Maltin almost ran to the hotel’s wide counter where a clerk with a wide girth and a wide smile greeted him. “Afternoon sir!”
Bradford Maltin pointed at the sign, “What’s--”
“Oh, that.” The clerk misinterpreted Maltin’s anger for outrage over the lack of propriety. “Joe Novak, the town undertaker, don’t make much money, so the sheriff allowed him to earn a little extra. He can only show the body for one night. The sheriff wants Colter to be a civilized town, and I guess this kinda thing ain’t too civilizin’”
Maltin calmed his anger and tried to act only casually interested. “How can they be sure the dead body is Curt Tatum?”
“No doubt about it! A detective brought the corpse in this morning. The sheriff tangled with Tatum a few years back and recognized that hardcase right off. Folks who go to see the body tonight won’t be swindled. They’ll get what they paid for.”
Bradford’s voice was resigned. “I’ll take a room.” He glanced at his son who, as always, looked sheepish and completely absorbed in his own thoughts. The businessman realized he wanted to spend as little time with Will as possible. “Make that two rooms.”
The rooms were both on the second floor. They arrived at Bradford’s room first. “Come in,” the businessman ordered his son, “I need to talk to you.”
Inside, the room was a bit nicer than expected for a small town like Colter, but Bradford Maltin didn’t notice. He put his valise down beside the bed and began to pace the room.
“Nothing’s going right,” he seemed to be addressing the gods, informing them that they were falling down on the job.
Bradford stopped pacing and faced his son. “Let’s start from the beginning. How’d you meet this Lena?”
“Leona.” Will dropped his valise onto the floor.
“Leona! How’d you meet her?”
Tomorrow: Episode Four of Full Moon