Monday, February 20, 2012

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Episode Ten of Last Job

Episode Nine concluded with:

            The banker continued, “I stole from the bank to pay my debts. The fake hold up covered that. The mining company accepts that Lon Westlake stole the money and hid it somewhere, hoping to get it when he’s released. The mining company needs a bank in Hard Stone. They helped me keep this operation on its feet. If those people find out what I did, I’d be ruined.”
“How can you be sure this Hooper fella will blab to them?”
“I can’t. Hooper just got into town a few hours ago. We ran into each other in the restaurant. He said, ‘We must get together to discuss old times.’ Sounded like a threat to me. Blackmail.”
“Maybe not.”
“I can’t take chances. I want that gambler dead. Tonight.”
“Mr. Conklin, I don’t think--”
“This isn’t Sunday school, Hunter. This is the real world, where you are one of the highest paid sheriffs in Colorado because the mining outfit pays your salary, not a bunch of townspeople. There are plenty of ways a sheriff can get rich in Hard Stone before the mines go dry. You’ve sat on the fence as long as you can. Now, are you going to follow orders?”


When the sheriff returned to his office, he found Deputy Emery Brown sitting at the office’s one desk. He was whistling happily as he cleaned a rifle. “What’s got into you, Brown? You’re acting like a school kid.”
Emery didn’t catch the anger in his boss’ voice. His response was cheerful. “Guess I am at that. I was thinking about yesterday. Molly and me, well, we didn’t quite talk about getting hitched direct like, but we talked around it, you know?”
Emery expected some kind of response from his boss. He didn’t get any. The deputy quickly looked over his handiwork and closed the rifle. Sensing that Rush Hunter wanted the desk, he rose and carried the Henry over to the rack.
His boss was in a bad mood. Emery understood that, or thought he did. The whole thing with Lon Westlake being found guilty had most of the town upset. The deputy thought Rush Hunter needed a distraction. “I’m thinking maybe it’s time to pop the question. Any suggestions?”
Rush Hunter was now sitting at the desk, but couldn’t think of anything to do. The sheriff didn’t look at his subordinate, but meaninglessly moved a few papers around. “Do you plan on raising a family with what you make here?”
Something was very wrong with his boss. Emery lowered his voice as he walked back to the desk. “The pay’s not so bad, and Molly is proud of me being a lawman.”
The word “proud” aroused anger in Rush Hunter. A lot of things had been making him angry of late. “Pride won’t put bread on the table!”
“Guess not.” Emery decided to change the subject. “You know, just ‘cause Lon has been found guilty doesn’t mean we have to give up. I’ve been thinking, maybe--”
“Don’t you have a round to do?” The words were as much a reprimand as they were a question.
“Sure.” Feeling hurt and a bit ridiculous, Emery retrieved a rifle from the rack and quickly exited the office.
Rush Hunter experienced a pang of regret for how he had treated Emery, but he fought it down. The world was a hard place and the sooner the kid found that out the better.
The sheriff sighed deeply and looked around him. His deputy had a point. It still wasn’t too late, he could…
“No” he said aloud. “The world is a hard place. A very hard place.”

Tomorrow: Episode eleven of Last Job