Monday, February 27, 2012

Now Playing: Last Job
 New to these parts? To start the story from the beginning, click

Episode Fifteen of Last Job

Episode Fourteen concluded with:

            Penelope nodded her head. “Our sheriff, Rush Hunter, is a good man. I’m afraid I’ve been too harsh on him. So has much of the town. Rush has to uphold the law.  A jury found Lon Westlake guilty of robbing the bank. What could a lawman do?!”
“I’ll talk with the sheriff first thing in the morning. I’ll let you know the moment I come up with anything significant, Miss Castle. Meanwhile, allow me to walk you home.”
            “That’s very kind of you. Thanks.”
            “Propriety demands that I wish both of you good night, despite the fact that you both are oblivious to my presence!” Stacey Hooper turned and marched into the hotel.
            “Oh, dear!” Penelope put a hand to her cheek.
            “Don’t worry about my friend. He’s temperamental, but harmless.”

            Rush Hunter watched the couple walk up the street and vanish into the night. George Conklin would not be happy when he learned the gambler was still alive. Hunter would have to come up with a new scheme. Fast.

Episode Fifteen

Rance Dehner knocked on the door of Stacey Hooper’s room.  The “Come in” he received was laced with irritation.
            The gambler stood in front of a pine bureau where an open whiskey flask had been placed beside the wash basin. Hooper rolled a cigarette as he looked up at his friend.
            “Breakfast,” he said.
            “I thought you smoked cigars,” Dehner replied.
            “Cigars are for the evening. What time is it anyway?”
            “About ten in the morning.”
            Stacey ignited a match on his thumbnail and set the flame to his handiwork. “When the game is good, I’m usually turning in about now. How did things go with dear Penelope last night?”
            “Okay. I walked her home.”
            “Is that all?”
            Stacey inhaled on his cigarette and let out a cloud of smoke. “I swear, Rance, you must be descended from those wretched puritans that came over from England. The old country was happy to be rid of them,--a bunch of pious sticks.”
            “This isn’t the time to discuss history.”
            “Then what do you want to discuss?”
            “George Conklin.” Dehner told the gambler Tully Brooks’ story about being paid by Conklin to help fake a bank robbery.
            Hooper let out a harsh laugh. “Doesn’t surprise me.”
            “Why not?”
            “Conklin gambled a lot in Denver. But he didn’t gamble wisely.”
            “He got himself in serious debt?”
            Stacey Hooper grinned mischievously.  “Serious indeed. But Mr. Conklin did pay up. Late, but not too late.”
            “Didn’t it impress you as a bit suspicious that a man who had gotten himself so deep in the hole could suddenly pay off all his debts?”
            “Nothing suspicious about it, Rance! Of course he scrounged up the money in some ill gotten manner! But that’s his business. The only important thing is, he paid off all his creditors.” 
            “Have you seen Conklin since arriving in Hard Stone?”
            “Briefly. At the restaurant. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. Nothing more.”
            Rance Dehner fell silent for a few minutes. Stacey puffed on his cigarette nervously, and growled at his companion. “I hate these silent spells of yours. They always end with you concocting some wild scheme. A scheme that always involves me.”
            “You’re right, Stacey.”
            “My worst fears, confirmed.”

Tomorrow: Episode Sixteen of Last Job