Thursday, June 14, 2012
Now Playing: The Songbird of the West
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Episode Twenty concluded with:
Dehner made his way to the fallen sheriff and hastily examined the body. He then shouted back to the stage. “This man plotted the kidnapping of Miss Whiting. I had to kill him, he--”
“Are we here for a show or some fool lecture!” The loud words came from somewhere in the crowd. A large number of voices were raised in agreement.
“I hear you, gentlemen!” Patten declared from the stage as he turned to Felix Murphy, who was sitting at a front row table. “Mr. Mayor, help Dehner lug that body out of here. We’ve got a big night ahead of us!”
Dehner stifled a laugh. Carrie Whiting was right: “The West is a tough, brutal land.”
“Okay, Miss Whiting,” Glenn Wilson shouted. “I want you to give our new sheriff a big kiss on his cheek!”
Carrie Whiting and Curt Weldon stood behind a round table in the Silver Crown Saloon. On top of the table was the money which had been found the previous night in the home of Tal Streeter. Wells Fargo was getting most of its stolen money returned.
Carrie held her lips against the cheek of Sheriff Curt Weldon whose right arm was in a sling from the bullet he had taken the previous night. Nobody witnessing this event realized it but this picture was to make Curt Weldon an almost legendary figure. The town may now be called Patten, Texas but Bruce Patten would not own the sheriff.
After the newspaper man had finished his task, Carrie smiled at the sheriff and wished him well. She then began to leave the saloon and head for the stage depot.
An entourage of people accompanied her including Rance Dehner. George McLeod walked beside the singer carrying her suitcase. McLeod had headed for Dry Creek or rather Patten, Texas when news of the kidnapping attempt reached Dallas. He had arrived on the morning stage.
Dehner admitted to himself that he was not happy to see McLeod. The detective had planned on volunteering his services to ensure that Miss Whiting arrived safely back in Dallas. McLeod made his altruism unnecessary.
Damn George McLeod, Dehner thought with both frustration and amusement.
It appeared that Rance wouldn’t even be able to say good-bye to Carrie. At the stage depot a circle of men formed around her. The detective could hear Carrie giving each one an exuberant thank you. It seemed foolish to barge into the circle and, like the others, demand the woman’s time.
As she stepped onto the coach, Carrie Whiting looked over the heads of her flock of followers and glanced directly at Rance as if she had known he was standing there. She gave the detective a playful smile and a wink, then she bent over and entered the coach. George McLeod got in beside her blocking any further significant view Dehner might have of the singer.
Later that night, sitting by a campfire and drinking his second cup of coffee, Dehner thought back on that brief farewell he received from Carrie Whiting. He tried to put it out of his mind or, at least, put it in perspective. The singer tried to be attentive and gracious to everyone. The recognition she gave him was a nice gesture which she had, no doubt, forgotten by now.
But the detective knew that he would never forget Carrie Whiting. That playful smile and the accompanying wink would come back to him during the many lonely hours spent trying to sleep under a vast, dark sky.
Tomorrow: Beginning a new Rance Dehner western adventure:
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