Thursday, February 16, 2012
Now Playing: Last Job
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Episode Seven concluded with:
Thorton Weaver smiled benignly at the lawman. “I’ll tell Mr.Conklin you’re here.”
He arose from his desk and walked in a ceremonious manner toward Conklin’s office, where he knocked twice and entered upon hearing Conklin shout, “Yes!” from inside.
Weaver closed the door, then reappeared a few moments later, closing the door behind him. He paraded back to his desk and announced, “Mr. Conklin is very busy with some important work right now. He will see you in a few minutes.” Thorton lifted an arm toward a bench by the front door. “Please take a seat.”
Rush Hunter sat down very carefully on what he figured had to be the most uncomfortable bench in Colorado. Thorton and the one teller on duty both looked away to hide their chuckles. For the second time in less than fifteen minutes, Rush Hunter was being laughed at.
The sheriff looked through the glass of the bank’s double doors. A scene from two nights ago played in his mind. The night he realized he was a coward.
Hunter woke up abruptly. The sound from the door of his office went from persistent tapping to loud pounding. Rush bolted from his cot and hurried to the door. Miners kept odd hours and the bars were always open. The town only allowed him one deputy, who could be in trouble right now.
He flung open the door to be greeted by Penelope Castle, a beautiful, brown haired girl of about twenty. The sheriff’s first response was embarrassment at being scraggly looking and in sock feet. He managed to quickly move his thoughts in a more practical direction. “Miss Castle, you shouldn’t be out at this time of night, you need--”
“I should be home in bed, asleep! How can I sleep?! An innocent man, the only man I could ever love, is now in territorial prison. You know he’s been railroaded!”
She stormed into the office. Rush made a slow production of closing the door and turning around. He really didn’t want to face the woman.
“You’re a lawman, Sheriff Hunter. Apparently, I need to remind you of that!”
“Miss Castle, the jury found Lon Westlake guilty--”
“The jury consisted of people beholden to George Conklin!”
Rush Hunter was tired, and being criticized by a lovely young woman had inflicted a wound. “The people on the jury aren’t the only ones beholden to Conklin! Your father hasn’t been able to work a day since that mine explosion six months ago. How is your family making ends meet? George Conklin is taking care of that, isn’t he, Miss Castle, and the whole town knows why!”
Penelope Castle began to cry. Rush felt like a monster. “I’m sorry, I never should have said--”
Penelope cut him off. “You spoke the truth. It’s awful. Mother makes me be…nice…to Conklin. It’s my fault Lon got framed for the robbery.”
“What do you mean?”
“George Conklin has supper at our home on Wednesday nights. He used to pretend he was happy Lon and I are engaged. He would ask me a lot of questions about Lon.”
“And you told him Lon slept alone in the back of his general store every night. That’s how the banker knew Lon Westlake wouldn’t have an alibi for the night of the robbery.”
The woman nodded her head. “Conklin has been playing the role of the comforter…pretending he is sympathetic. It won’t last long…my family has become dependent on him…I don’t know what to do…”
Sheriff Hunter spoke out loud a thought that had been on his mind for some time: “Lon is the real force behind the success of their family store. The business will be in trouble without him. George Conklin may be planning to seize Lon’s business as well as his girl.”
Hope flamed in Penelope Castle’s eyes. The lawman was on her side after all. “That’s right! What do you plan on doing, Sheriff?”
Rush Hunter shrugged his shoulders and looked at the floor. The young woman’s hope morphed into anger. She spoke in a low whisper. “George Conklin owns you, doesn’t he? Just like he owns everyone else in this town.”
“Miss Castle, I--”
“I’ve been very rude, Sheriff Hunter. I apologize for bothering you at this late hour. It was a very foolish thing to do.” The lawman could hear Penelope Castle begin to cry as she stepped out of his office. Her last hope had been Sheriff Rush Hunter and that hope had proved false.
The lawman was yanked from his thoughts. Looking up from the bench, he saw Thorton Weaver standing beside him. “Mr. Conklin will see you now, Sheriff.”
The sheriff wanted to say something snarky but settled for, “Thanks.” As he stood up and walked toward the office, Rush tried to convince himself that he had done nothing wrong. After all, George Conklin had identified Lon Westlake as the man who robbed the bank. Westlake had been found guilty by a jury of his peers.
“My hands are clean,” Hunter whispered to himself before entering the office.
Tomorrow: Episode Nine of Last Job