Monday, January 16, 2012

Now Playing: Full Moon
New to these parts? To start at the beginning of the story,
click Full Moon 1

Episode Five of Full Moon

Episode Four concluded with:

Bradford lit another cigar and began to pace the room. He didn’t know where the girl was staying. That letter to Will that he had found just 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.

Episode Five:


“Look mister, I take care of horses here. You wanna jaw ‘bout people, go somewheres else.” The hostler was an elderly man who appeared strong for his years and equally as stubborn. “I don’t cotton to spendin’ time with a man who makes a livin’ by his gun. And don’t try tellin’ me different. I know your kind.”
            Rance inhaled and looked around the large building that housed the livery. He had, as matter of habit, been withholding information from the owner of Riley’s Stables and Blacksmith.
            The detective decided on a more forthright approach. “You’re right, Mr. Riley. Last night I killed a hardcase named Curt Tatum. Tatum was trying to get to a shack where a girl named Leona is staying with a baby. She asked me to look up Del Burgess; said he worked here.”
            The expression on Horatio Riley’s face changed from suspicion to admiration. “So, you’re the man that brought down Curt Tatum.”
            “You gettin’ any of the money they’ll be makin’ tonight showin’ the body and all?”
            “That don’t seem right. You might make a livin’ with your gun, but you seem to be callin’ it right ‘bout who you plug. I say you deserve a cut of the profits.”
            “It’s a side issue. Can you take me to Del Burgess?”
            “Reckon so.”  Riley began to amble across the stable, passing three rows of stalls. “The boy will be pleasured to meet the man who killed Curt Tatum.” Horace turned at the fourth row and opened the second stall. “Del, you got company.”
            Del Burgess fit the description Leona had given of him, only both of his green eyes were swollen and cradled by purple cheeks. He was lying on a bed of hay and appeared to have been awake for only a few minutes. “Heard you jawin’ with Horace. Pleased to meet the man who shot Tatum.” Del began to stand up. “That jasper got me good, but it weren’t fair.”
            “What exactly happened, Del?” Rance asked.
            Now on his feet, the young man placed a hand against the side of the stall, to help maintain balance. “Last night, I was workin’ here by myself.”
            Del Burgess paused and inhaled. He dropped his arm, though he still looked a bit unsure on his feet.  “That hardcase Tatum came in to fetch his horse. Of course, at the time I didn’t know who he was.”
            “Would you like some water, Del?” Horatio asked.
            “Yeah, thanks.”
            Riley hurried off. Del Burgess continued to speak. “Tatum came for his horse. He was nice enough at first. Started asking directions. As he jawed on, I caught on to the fact that he was lookin’ for the fastest way to get to that shack where Leona is holed up.”
            The sound of a pump could be heard coming from behind the livery. “What did you do, Del?”
            “I asked him what business he had out there at the shack. He tole me to just never mind. Can’t remember exactly what happened next. But he pistol whipped me before I saw him draw his iron.”
            “You’re lucky.”
            Del looked askance at Dehner. “How’s that?”
            “Tatum thought he only needed to take you out of the action for a few hours. He tried to take me out for longer than that when we crossed paths in Denver. Would have shot me in the back if we hadn’t been close by the local law.”
            Horace Riley returned with a cup of water for Del. The young man drank it slowly and did seem to be feeling better.  Rance decided to move his questions into a difficult territory.
            “How long have you known Leona, Del?”
            “Since we was kids.” The young man stared into his tin cup, and continued, “We were gettin’ serious for a while, then this guy shows up…” Del Burgess took another sip of water, then looked at Rance and Horace. “This Will guy started showin’ off how rich he was. Talked about takin’ her to Denver. Got her all confused.”
            There was no discreet way to ask the question. Dehner spoke in a monotone. “Did Leona have the baby with Will?”
            Del nodded his head.
            “Do you know Will’s last name?”
            “Maltin. Will Maltin.” Del made the name sound like a profanity.
            Horace noticed Rance’s scowl. “You know this Maltin fellow, 
Mr. Dehner?”
            “Well, there is a very wealthy Maltin family in Denver,” Rance answered. “The Lowrie agency did some work for them a year back or so, I wasn’t involved in it. The Maltins could certainly afford to hire a top gunhand like Tatum, but why would they do it?”
            Determination filled Del Burgess’ eyes. “All I know is Leona is out there in that shack with just her baby. I’m going to her.”
            “You should rest more, boy,” Horace said.
            “I’m okay.”
            “I’ll go with you,” Rance spoke hurriedly. “First we have to pick up some food and supplies for her.”
            “Let’s make it quick,” Del snapped. “It ain’t right her being out there by herself. I’m afraid somethin’ bad will happen.
            “So am I,” Rance Dehner said.
            Rance and Del had bought the supplies and ridden out of town when Horace Riley began to reflect on the events of earlier that day. A very well dressed gent had come in and rented a buckboard from him. Later on, a boy around Del’s age, also well dressed, had rented a horse. The boy looked familiar. Horace thought he had seen the kid in town, but not recently.
            The liveryman wished he had told the detective and Del about all this, it could be important. “That’s the trouble with gettin’ old,” Horace said to a strawberry roan, “you’re always thinkin’ of stuff too late.”

Tomorrow: Episode Six of Full Moon