Friday, March 2, 2012


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Episode Nineteen of Last Job

Episode Eighteen concluded with:

      George Conklin stood up and yelled at the sheriff. “What kind of lawdog are you? Act now!”
            Hunter cursed loudly, then drew his gun and sent a red flame into Conklin’s shoulder. The banker spun and fell. The crowd in the saloon began to scatter.
            “I’ll kill you!” The sheriff kicked over an empty chair, shoved the table aside, and made determined strides toward Conklin.
            Stacey Hooper sprang from his chair and yanked out his gun but was unsure of who, if anyone, to shoot. Rance buoyed to his feet, jumped on the table and, using it as a springboard, jumped on the sheriff. The two men went down, Hunter’s curses now becoming more desperate. Dehner wrestled the Colt away from the sheriff, then stood up and saw his friend, pistol in hand, standing with the customary amused expression on his face.
            “Like I said earlier, good friend,” Stacey was chuckling, “life never seems to be dull when you are around.”


Episode Nineteen


***

             Rance Dehner and Stacey Hooper stepped out of the restaurant where they had  enjoyed an early breakfast. Keeping with his normal morning habit, Stacey began to roll a cigarette. “You’re sure you won’t stay in town for a few more days, Rance? I plan on lightening the burden of filthy lucre from these miners before departing.”  
            “No need for me to hang around,” Dehner untied his horse from the hitch rail in front of the restaurant. “Both Conklin and Hunter have confessed. Emery Brown has wired the territorial prison. Lon Westlake will be released soon.”
            Stacey licked the cigarette paper before speaking. “You’re leaving now to avoid Penelope Castle. You know she’ll try to pay you for helping her fianc√©. Good heavens, you should at least give her a chance to apologize for convincing you Rush Hunter could be trusted. That little faux pas might have cost both of us our lives!”
            The detective glanced in the direction of the sheriff’s office. Brown came out, gave both men a quick wave, and turned in the opposite direction to begin his morning round. “Emery Brown seems to be an honest man. He’ll make this town a good sheriff.”
            “That depends.” Stacey watched his first puff of smoke dissipate into the air.  “Have you read John Stuart Mill’s book Utilitarianism?”
            “No.”
            “Mill contends that the best actions are always those which bring the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Now, an honest sheriff can be helpful at times. But, a sheriff who will accept a reasonable bribe and conduct himself accordingly, there is a lawman of tremendous utilitarian value. So, your statement--”
            “I’ll read the book Stacey, then we can have a more profitable discussion.” Dehner mounted his horse. Sitting on his bay, he gave the gambler a two finger salute. “So long. I’ve got a feeling our paths will cross again soon.”
            Later that day, as he rode through mountainous country, Rance thought about Tully Brooks. He found himself hoping that wherever Tully was now, the outlaw was satisfied with the way things had turned out in Hard Stone.
            A strange thought suddenly struck the detective. He would miss Tully Brooks: a man who had tried to kill him and who he had killed.
            The notion made Dehner give an involuntary laugh. The mountains returned his laughter in a loud, defiant act of mockery. 

Monday: Rance Dehner returns in an unusual western adventure,
The Witch of Cooper, Arizona. Don’t Miss It!