Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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Episode Five of Ultimatum

Episode Four concluded with:

The four men quickly dispersed. Dehner told the deputy he’d meet him at the marshall’s office after stabling his horse.
As he rode to the livery, Dehner looked around at the citizens of Hardin. Most of them were now silently gazing eastward at the strange collection of Indians standing on a hill. The detective reckoned he would not be doing much fishing on this visit.

Episode Five


Marshall Bret Carson tried to keep the anger from his voice. “I want you to make another round, Deputy. And be careful! Don’t take anything for granted!”
“Yes, Marshall.” Rip Gowdy’s voice was contrite. He hastily turned and left the office.
Carson sighed and ran his hand through thick black hair that was too long and bushy. The lawman hadn’t had the time to stop at Henry’s Barber Shop. Carson was a burly, large boned man who had already absorbed two gunshot wounds while serving as a U.S. Marshall. At thirty-three he seemed totally consumed by his calling.
“Rip Gowdy not working out?” Dehner asked.
Bret opened a desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of sarsaparilla. He gave Dehner a crooked smile. “It’s too damned hot for coffee and I’m not allowed to drink on the job.” He yanked a cork from the bottle and took a long sip.
About a year had passed since Dehner had been in Hardin working on a case. He had established a friendship with Bret Carson and to a much lesser degree with Rip Gowdy and Reverend Nate. The rest of the people he had come to know well in Hardin were now in territorial prison.
Carson placed the bottle back in the drawer. “I don’t want to be too hard on Rip. He has his good days, but not enough of them. Right now, we can’t afford mistakes.” The lawman brought Dehner up on everything that had taken place at the church that morning.
 Dehner thought the situation over for a moment then asked, “Has there been any trouble with the tribes in this area?”
The marshall shook his head. “About a year ago there was a quick flare up. A moonshiner sold a few braves some bad whiskey. Two died of poisoning. Of course, their tribe demanded justice and I didn’t blame them. But the poisoning wasn’t intentional. Just a stupid jasper using old pipes for his still. I arrested the moonshiner. He got a long sentence. That seemed to satisfy everyone.”
“Do you have any idea why these renegades are so interested in a barfly?”
Carson rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “None. But I’m going to have another chit-chat with Mr. Tully Jones. Like to join the talk, Rance?”
“I always enjoy scintillating conversation.”
As the two men entered the jail area, Rance noticed that Tully Jones was a curious contrast. His face was that of a typical barfly: pale and glassy eyed. He had the thin, slightly emaciated look of a man who drank most of his meals. His movements as he got up from the cot in his cell and walked toward his two visitors were slow and jerky.
But he was wearing a new brown suit that would have looked appropriate on a banker. His shoes, though already appearing scuffed, were also new and matched the suit.
Tully pointed at Dehner. “Is this man here to help protect me? You’re gonna need lotsa help--”
“Take it easy Tully, we’re going to take care of you.” Carson gave his prisoner a hard stare. “Now that you’ve had some time to think it over, have you come up with any notions as to why Akando wants a pow-wow with you?”
Tully scrunched up his face and shook his head. “No! Who can ever say what goes on in the mind of that savage?”
Marshall Carson’s voice remained friendly and calm. “Those are fine duds you’re wearing.”
“Yeah, so?”
“Must have cost some money.”
“I paid for it, proper like. Ask Swanson over at his store, he’ll tell ya I paid--”
“I’ve already talked to him. Mr. Swanson tells me he was sort of curious as to where you got the money. I’m curious too. Where’d the loot come from, Tully?”

Tomorrow: Episode Six of Ultimatum