Friday, August 17, 2012
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Episode Six concluded with:
The questioning continued for a while, but it was hopeless and Bret Carson knew it. The marshall’s voice was deep and angry when he and Dehner stepped back into the office. “I used to think Tully was a harmless drunk. Harmless! He’ll allow an entire town to be ravaged and its people killed because…because… I don’t know the because!”
Dehner nodded his head in sympathy. He then stepped out of the office and did a quick survey of the town. People remained scattered about on the boardwalk, their eyes focused on the hill to the east. They appeared scared and the detective didn’t blame them. As Dehner looked at the Indians on the hill, they looked as if they hadn’t moved at all since he originally spotted them. They looked stoic and patient, waiting for the moment when they would destroy the town and everyone in it.
Dehner stepped back into the Marshall’s office wondering what he could do to prevent a massacre, or if he could do anything at all.
The evening service at the Hardin Methodist Church was getting off to a solemn start. Despite the fine accompaniment on the piano, the singing of Amazing Grace was limp. The mind of the congregation was on the threat of killers, not the power of the Almighty.
When the singing concluded, Reverend Nate spoke from beside the pulpit. “All of you know what happened in this church this morning and the challenge that faces us as a town. Tonight’s service will be devoted entirely to worship through singing and prayer. To start our time of prayer--”
A middle-aged man stood up and began to speak loudly. “Reverent, I got something to say!”
Rance Dehner was sitting with Bret Carson in a front pew. Looking backward, the detective recognized the man who had interrupted the service. It was Henry Willford, the barber and one of the men who had tried to abduct Deputy Rip Gowdy.
Willford looked pale and his hands were shaking but his voice boomed with anger. “A lot of us have been talkin’ together, Reverent!”
Reverend Nate smiled in an almost mischievous manner. “That’s good, Henry. I always encourage fellowship in the congregation. What was the result of this conversation you had with ‘a lot of us’?”
The pastor’s humor was lost on Henry, whose voice remained angry. “Reverent, we think you should go talk to Akando.”
“And what should I say to him?”
“Beg Akando to give us more time! Tell him that this town is at the mercy of a fool lawman. But we’ll get that drunkard away from the marshall and turn him over. You’re one of his people! Akando will listen to you, you can even talk injun, so get out to that hill--”
“Sit down, Henry. You have spoken your piece.”
“That savage might listen to you, Reverent--”
“Sit down, Henry!”
Henry Willford sat down. Reverend Nate’s eyes flashed anger. He took a deep breath before speaking. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. Those words were spoken by Jesus and echoed by Abraham Lincoln. We must never surrender to evil. We must stand firmly behind Marshall Carson against this band of killers. And that’s what they are, vicious killers.”
A large boned woman stood up and yelled in a shrill voice. “But they’re injuns! And you’re an injun. They’ll listen to you. This town has been good to you, Reverend Nate. It’s high time you repaid us!”
A loud explosion filled the small church. A rash of startled cries was followed by a shout of, “That was the piano!”
Angie Brighton stood up at the piano whose keys she had just pounded. She shot an intimidating look at the woman with the shrill voice, who immediately sat down. Angie then glared at the rest of the congregation. “It’s bad enough you are all behaving like despicable cowards! But you expect our pastor to crawl like a worm too. Reverend Nate owes us nothing but to proclaim the truth. And he just did tell you the truth as he spoke the truth to Akando this morning. It is the truth that will set us free, not a lot of sniveling nonsense.”
A quiet fell over the church. Reverend Nate looked at the pianist. His smile was one of gratitude.
He turned back to the congregation. “I think we’re ready to pray now.”
Monday: Episode Eight of Ultimatum