Friday, January 13, 2012
Now Playing: Full Moon
New to these parts? To start at the beginning of the story,
click Full Moon 1.
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?”
“Last spring when Mother sent me here to help Uncle Earl and Aunt Connie. That was right after Uncle Earl’s accident--”
“Yes, yes, how’d you meet the girl?”
“They let me come into town on Saturday night. Leona was a waitress at the restaurant.”
Bradford’s voice dripped sarcasm. “And you two became right cordial.”
“One night we took a walk and stopped under a tree outside of town…”
“Okay, okay. When did you find out she was pregnant?”
“She sent a letter to me in Denver.”
“Did you write her back?”
Will fell silent.
“Did you write her back?!”
“And the letter I found, the one about the baby being born, was the second and last one she sent you?”
“Yes. She named the baby Samuel.”
“I know that!”
Bradford looked about the room hurriedly, and for the first time noticed it was well kept and had an ashtray on a table beside the bed. He crushed the remaining stub of his cigar into the tray in a gesture of anger. “Nothing in all that to interest a detective. Why did a detective come to Colter and kill Curt Tatum?”
Will shrugged his shoulders. “Probably didn’t have anything to do with Colter. That sign called Tatum a killer. The detective could have been after him for something he did somewhere else.”
A surge of anger coursed through the businessman. His son was no doubt right. It was so obvious. Why didn’t he think of it?
“I just wasted five hundred dollars,” Bradford was talking primarily to himself. “At least I didn’t give him the whole thousand up front. Well, as the old saw goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.”
Will Bradford’s eyes flamed as he began to understand his father’s words. “Did you hire Curt Tatum to get Samuel?”
“Yes.” The older Bradford was consumed by private thoughts as he plotted his next move.
“What was Tatum supposed to do about Leona?” Will’s voice sounded incredulous.
His father didn’t notice. “Kill her. She could have caused trouble. Wasn’t worth taking a chance. Tatum was supposed to take the baby to your Aunt and Uncle’s place. They would keep it till your mother and I came for it. I would have made up some cockeyed story to explain it all. Would have worked. Your mother would love to have another child, and I own that ranch her brother and his wife work. They wouldn’t have asked questions.”
Will Bradford’s heart began to beat faster and he felt faint. He had always cherished the times he spent with his Aunt and Uncle. Their ranch was a special place for him. But there was nothing special about it,--just one more piece of land his father owned.
The young man inhaled deeply as if to maintain consciousness. His father had talked so casually about killing Leona, as if ordering her dead was like squashing one of his burnt out cigars.
“Why?!” Will’s voice sounded like something between a shout and a sob. “Why kill her? She never hurt you.”
Bradford took a few quick steps toward his son, then back handed him viciously across the face. The young man stumbled but managed to stay on his feet.
“I’ll tell you why,” Bradford Maltin spoke in a low rumble. “Because your older brother died rescuing you from drowning. You’re worthless. You might as well have been a girl. Your mother can’t have any more kids. I’ve worked like a dog all my life, and I want someone to leave my property to. I need a grandson. Samuel may be a stray, but he’s still my flesh and blood.”
Will slurred his words a bit, his father’s assault still had his head ringing, “I’ll marry someday, h...ave ch...ildren.”
“You’re going to Boston this fall to school. You’ll probably settle down there and marry some Eastern canary. Your kids will be as worthless as you are.”
Will was beginning to regain his balance and his speech. “You hate me.”
The statement seemed to make his father a bit whimsical. “Not really. There’s nothing to hate about you, Will, you’re just a weakling. Don’t worry. I’ll pay for your schooling. You can visit us for a few weeks every summer. We’ll have us a real nice family picnic.”
Bradford chuckled lightly; he seemed genuinely amused. Will’s body trembled.
“Go to your room and stay there.” The amusement was gone from the older man’s voice. “I brought you along because I thought I might need you. Things don’t seem to be going that way. Take supper in the dining room downstairs. I’ll come for you if need be.”
Will desperately wanted to disobey his father, or at least make a cutting remark as he left. He did none of that. He picked up his valise and walked out of the room, gently closing the door behind him.
Bradford lit another cigar and began to pace the room. He didn’t know where the girl was staying. That letter to Will he had found had the address of Colter’s post office station. He puffed on the cigar and remembered what his hired gun had told him. “Folks love to gossip. In a place like Colter there will be people who know where she’s keepin’ the kid. Won’t be hard to find out. A few hours in a saloon should do it.”
Bradford Maltin laughed as he left his room. His associates back in Denver didn’t think of him as a generous man. But on this day, he’d be the one setting up the drinks.
Monday: Episode Five of Full Moon