Friday, August 10, 2012
New to these parts? To start the story from the beginning, click
Episode One concluded with:
Bret Carson took a step forward. “Akando, as far as I am concerned you and your so called braves are nothing but a band of outlaws. You’re renegades. Your own tribes want nothing to do with you. I won’t hand over Tully or anyone else. And if you attack this town, you’ll have the U.S. Calvary to answer to.”
Now it was Akando’s turn to smile. “The soldiers will need two days to journey here from the nearest fort. If you do not do as I say, when the soldiers arrive they will find dead bodies and ashes.”
Akando turned and walked out the door, his band of outlaws following after him. The last one to depart fired a shot, shattering a window in the side wall of the church.
Deputy Rip Gowdy felt increasingly nervous as he continued his round. Everyone in the town of Hardin was on edge and it was easy to understand why. He slowed down his walk as he came to the church. Angie Brighton was standing on the church’s small porch. She was looking toward the hill east of town.
Gowdy put an index finger to his hat. “Good afternoon, Miss Brighton.”
A wave shot through the woman’s body. “Oh…Mr. Gowdy.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean--”
“My fault, Deputy. I guess I’m a bundle of nerves right now.”
As he stepped onto the porch, Gowdy observed that even when she was a bundle of nerves, Angie Brighton was a feast for a man’s eyes. She stood at about five and a half feet with blondish brown hair and green eyes.
Gowdy assumed the perfect posture needed to appear taller than Angie Brighton. He was about the same height as the young woman, and a few pounds overweight.
Angie’s eyes shifted back to the hill east of town. “Six Indians standing up there like statues,” the woman’s voice was close to a whisper. “They seem to be carefully observing everything in Hardin. I think there are three more braves sitting in the grove of trees. I wonder where the others are?”
“That’s exactly what they want you to wonder, Miss Brighton. Those Indians are tryin’ to spook the whole town.”
“Well, in my case at least, they are succeeding.” Angie gave the Deputy a weak smile. He still appreciated it. “One thing I don’t understand,” the young woman continued. “Why didn’t Akando and his men just grab Tully Jones themselves?”
“I’m afraid you gotta blame me for that.”
Angie’s eyebrows went up in a questioning look.
Gowdy explained: “Two days ago, Tully barged into Porter’s General Store and claimed he was gonna buy the place out. He started throwin’ things around and doin’ some serious damage. I had to arrest him.”
“Was he drunk?”
Angie Brighton sighed, and looked back at the Indians. “Tully Jones has been in jail for the last two days. That’s why Akando can’t get to him.”
“And Tully is stayin’ in jail. For his own protection. We don’t know why Akando wants a worthless barfly like Tully. Tully says he don’t know either, but Tully Jones has never been known for honesty.”
The young woman turned and put her hand on the church door. “I’d better get inside and start practicing for the evening service. I’ll be praying for you and Marshall Carson, Mr. Gowdy.”
“Thank you, Miss Brighton!”
As he continued his round, Rip Gowdy mused that Angie Brighton was as odd as she was beautiful. The town was threatened with destruction in less than twenty-four hours. What difference did it make what the piano playing at the evening church service sounded like?
For a moment the deputy got caught up in his private musings. He didn’t notice the crowd of men gathered outside the Half Moon Saloon. “Rip Gowdy, on your way to lick the marshall’s boots?”
The words sounded like they came from a barfly. Rip was surprised when he stopped, turned, and saw that Henry Willford, the town barber, was yelling at him. Henry was surrounded by three other men. All of them could be called solid citizens. All of them had been in church that morning. Now they were standing outside of a saloon, drinking and looking eastward at the people waiting to kill them.
Monday: Episode three of Ultimatum