We’ve got these Regulators broken up. Most of them have scattered from Lincoln County but are hiding out somewhere in New Mexico. I want them found,” trumpeted the normally cool Felix Wilcox.
I had gotten off the train and went immediately to see Marshal Wilcox. Blasco told me that he needed my help, but I didn’t know why. I know that he had a large territory to control with New Mexico and Arizona and outlaws tended to drift to these territories. I also knew of the Lincoln County War and since New Mexico was still a territory, that the marshal’s office was involved.
“There’s a new sheriff in Lincoln County, Pat Garret by name, and he is doing a good job of cleaning up the place. He told me that the state of this territory has attracted the lawless element to it from the other states around it. These people feel safe as long as all our attention is upon Lincoln County and Billy Bonney,” continued Wilcox. “I asked that Jens send you down to help on the fringe areas.”
I listened with interest. I had heard of Billy the Kid and knew of some of the issues behind the Lincoln County War. It normally would have been a state matter, but since New Mexico was still a territory the U.S. Marshal’s office became involved. The main problem being is that Wilcox only had a dozen deputies under him and some of them were in Arizona. Upon hearing his story I was surprised that I hadn’t been summoned earlier since I was a “deputy at-large.”
Wilcox was a short, stocky man. No fat on him by any means, but he gave that appearance. He was built more like a brick, was clean-shaven except for the finger moustache that he sported. He had dark hair that he kept well-groomed and slicked down. Walking over to a map, he started to point at it. “Most of the Kid’s gang have left him or been killed. Rudabaugh and J.J. Webb are still at large and seem to have left the area.”
Now he pointed to the map. I wasn’t real familiar with New Mexico. I had helped up in Raton and was familiar with the northwest corner but the rest of the territory was pretty much unknown to me. I was glad for the map. “There’s an outlaw, name of Franklin Moore working up near Las Vegas. I have Fred Martin working in that area; we know the Kid has been seen there. Miles, I want you to go down here to Socorro. There’s been some general havoc there, and the name Grady Stinson has come to our attention.”
“Who is the local sheriff?” I asked.
“Sheriff is Tony Vasquez, but don’t expect any help from him,” reported Wilcox. “From what I’ve heard, he allows the lawless element to roam freely as long as they don’t harm the citizens or businesses of Socorro.”
We stood looking at each other for a moment. “I don’t know much about Stinson, I don’t know how big a man he is, whether or not Vasquez could stop him if he tried,” he stated. “Miles, you’re in charge. Do what is needed. Take the train, but get off before you get to Socorro,” he commanded, then rubbed his moustache between his thumb and finger then smiled. “Here’s your ticket.”
* * * *
Alejo had taken over the jobs vacated by Lucas and was helped somewhat by his little brother Enrique. They cut wood, took it to the different vendors in town, and stacked it for them. They were hired to keep the streets clean of the horse droppings, and would help old Moses at the livery if he needed them.
They were walking along the boardwalk to the north of the jail. A new saloon had opened, a block down, Belle’s Place, and Enrique had stopped to look at something lying underneath the walk. Problem was, he was stooped over when Frank Connors and Cade Ryan came out of the saloon stumbling over Enrique. Ryan, who was quickly angered, grabbed the boy and threw him out into the street.
Alejo heard his brother yell when he hit the ground and began to run back. Ryan had walked out into the street to pick up the kid. “You pepper-pickers stay out of my way,” he snarled then tossed Enrique back to the ground. That’s when Alejo rushed him, trying to knock him down. Ryan barely budged, then he took hold of Alejo and slugged him square in the face. He dropped like a bag of potatoes.
He started to kick the boy, when a voice hollered, “Don’t!”
Ryan slowly turned his head toward the voice. “Well, lookee here, Frank. They must be draggin’ the bottom of the barrel, they even have one of them beaners wearin’ a badge.” He turned back to kick the boy who was now moving to his knees, Enrique was unconscious.
“You kick him, and you’ll be a cripple the rest of your life,” Mateo paused, “That is, if I don’t kill you.”
Both Ryan and Connors laughed, and now faced Mateo. Cade Ryan, big man, didn’t kick Alejo, instead he…