The Saga of Miles Forrest

I could hear the whack, whack, whack as Queens was attacking Fernando.  Rushing in he turned on me smacking me alongside the neck driving me into the bars of the cell.  Charlie then jumped on his back, Queens roared swinging around trying to loosen him, but Charlie hung on.  After shaking my head, I drove a fist into Queens jaw causing his knees to stagger, then Charlie grabbed him throwing his arm around his neck choking him.  Finally, Queens succumbed and lay still, but not unconscious.
    My attention went to Fernando, who was still trying to cover himself up.  “Easy, boy, easy, I’m not goin’ to hurt you.”
    “Queens!” yelled Charlie, “What in the world are you trying to do?”
    There was no answer forthcoming as he pushed himself off the floor.  He pushed Charlie away and started out the cell.  I moved to my feet and grabbed him spinning him around.  As he was spinning I pushed him into one of the other cells and onto the cot.  With him face down on the cot, I pulled his gun from his holster.
    I moved out of the cell; he jumped up coming at me so I slammed the cell door catching him in the face.  A curse exploded from his mouth, “Forrest, I’ll get you for this!”
    “Lucas, get out in the office!” I ordered and pointed.  Then I glanced at Charlie and nodded toward Fernando.  He stooped to help him up on the cot while I went out to talk with Lucas.
    He was standing there, trembling, eyes wide.  “Okay, son, what went on in there?” I asked softly trying to settle him down.
    Lucas just shook his head.  “I’m not sure,” he said, almost whimpering.  “Fernando asked for a cup of water.  The marshal muttered something about him being a “beaner” but brought a cup.  As he was handing it to Fernando it hit the bars and spilled it on the marshal’s shirt.  That threw him into a rage.”
    He was beginning to settle down so I pulled out a chair.  “Why don’t you sit, and settle yourself.”  Then I half-sat on the corner of the desk.
    “The marshal, he opened the cell door then grabbed me hitting me and throwing me out of the cell.  Then he turned his anger on Fernando.  He had something in his hand, a quirt maybe and started hitting Fernando,” he paused to look up at me.  “That’s when you came in.”
    “Forrest!  Let me out of here!  You can’t hold me like this!  Forrest!” came the voice of Queens bellowing from his cell.  
    Charlie brought Fernando out to the office and tossed a quirt that he had picked up from the floor of the cell to the table where I was sitting.  “I need to take him over to Doc’s office.  Some of those cuts need tending to.”
    I nodded, “Get him tended to, and I’ll meet you at the diner.  I’ll have Lucas with me.  I’m not goin’ to subject him to Queen’s rantin’.”
    “Forrest!  You can’t leave me in here like this!” he ranted as Lucas and I left the office.  “You’ll pay for this!  Forrest!”
    We walked down the street toward the diner, Lucas rubbing the side of his head where Queens hit him.  “Has this happened before?” I asked as we continued down the street.
    “No, but he, what you say, stormed at us, always threatening,” replied Lucas.
    Walking in the entrance Molly saw us immediately.  She knew something must be wrong with Lucas being with me and rushed over.  Of course the first thing she saw was the bruise on the side of his head.  Putting her arm around him she hurried him over to the table.  Lucas sat down as Molly rushed off to the kitchen.  I pulled a cup off the shelf to pour coffee before sitting down.
    Molly had gone to the kitchen and returned with a piece of chocolate pie for Lucas.  I looked at her longingly, but she scarcely even noticed.  “There’s only one piece left, and that’s for Fernando,” she informed me.  
    Lucas had taken a couple of bites while Molly and I set there and watched him before Charlie came in with Fernando followed by Doc Jones.  As they were approaching the table Molly stood then went to the kitchen for Fernando’s pie.  Doc came straight to Lucas.
    “Put down that pie, I want to check the side of your head,” he stated brusquely.  
    I watched him, then had to ask.  “How does lookin’ in his eyes help you check the side of his head?”
    Doc gave me a glance then went back to his examination.  He gave a short grunt then looked at me.  “How about a cup of coffee?”  Then he asked Lucas if he was dizzy.
    Lucas shook his head, “Is it okay to eat my pie now, Senor Doc?” he asked.
    Scratching his chin, then he pulled at his eyebrow, then with a wink, “Go ahead, eat your pie.”  Sitting down he took a sip of coffee then turned his attention toward me.  “Something has to be done with that man strutting around as town marshal,” he snapped.  “Using a quirt like that he could have put the boy’s eye out.  As it was he cut him some.”
    Molly returned with Fernando’s piece of pie and Doc looked at it with hungry eyes.  She looked at him, then over at me, then up to Charlie.  “I suppose you all want a piece now?  Well, I have apple, buttermilk, and butterscotch left.  You first, Doc.”
    We gave our orders with a smile; Marta had come over to check on her brother then looked at me with concern.  “He’s not in any more trouble is he?”
    I started to answer when Charlie interrupted to informed me.  “I thought you might be interested that when I brought Fernando into the diner I saw Stanley Offut rushing down toward the jail.”
    Bringing the piece of the butterscotch pie to my mouth, I smiled…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Charlie Gold was sitting with me in the diner sharing coffee and looking over the telegrams I had received.  Queens was not known in New Mexico Territory, but Marshal Wilcox thanked me for taking care of “the Scorpion” Rafael Garcia.  He was not a big time outlaw, but was known for his recklessness and attitude.  Pepe was a known killer and the two of them were beginning to cause concern in northern New Mexico.
    Both Blasco, Colorado, and McCoy, Kansas, said that Queens was not known to have committed any crimes but had shot several men in fights.  I also received a note from Dave Cook, brought down by the train from Silverton.  Cook said that Queens was a dangerous man, quick to anger, and he thought malicious.  So far Stan Offut had not said anything to Queens, but I reckoned sooner or later he would.  At least Queens wouldn’t know about Cook’s telegram.
    “What do you think the Judge will do?” asked Charlie after wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve.
    Molly was walking up to the table, so I dared not do what Charlie did.  Instead I took another swallow as she sat down watching me closely.  I touched my mouth with the table linen and received a smile from Molly, then rubbed down my moustache with thumb and forefinger.
    “Don’t know, that’s why I want to talk with him before deciding whether or not to bring charges,” I responded.
    “Oh, Miles, you’re really not going to charge those children with horse-stealing, are you?” questioned Molly.  “And Lucas, he just got caught up in something.”
    I stood to take the coffeepot off the stove behind me, and refilled Charlie’s cup, then poured Molly a cup and topped mine off.  “That’s just it.  He’s got to know that he can’t be led around by the wrong crowd.  Remember also, Two-Bits was one of the horses he stole.”
    Charlie took over from there.  “If it had been some rancher’s horses, say Cecil Thompson for example, most likely we would have found Lucas and Fernando dangling from a tree.”
    “It’s bad enough that those boys have been sitting in that jail cell waiting for the Judge to return,” snapped Molly before tasting her coffee.
    Marta happened to hear what she said, “No, Molly.  If Lucas was not in the jail, I would have wringed his stupid neck!”
    That brought a chuckle from Charlie who lowered his head placed his forehead in his hand.  He’d already been caught.  “What?  You think this is funny, my husband?  It is not!”
    “No dear, I was just imagining you grabbing hold of Lucas, that’s all,” he said trying to be solemn.
    I reached out and took the telegrams from Charlie and handed them to Molly.  “Looks like Queens is not wanted for anything, but his reputation is not the best.”
    “Hmpf,” she muttered, “I could have told you that.  When are you to meet with Judge Klaser?”
    I looked up at the large banjo clock on the wall, one of the few things that Molly had from her mother.  “Fifteen minutes,” I stated, then swallowed the rest of my coffee.  “Let’s go Sheriff.”
    When we arrived at the Judge’s office, he was standing by his office door to greet us so his secretary wouldn’t have to ask why we were there.  He pointed at us and motioned us to follow him into the office.  Charlie shut the door behind him.
    “Sit down!” he ordered gruffly which was not his normal character.  “Now, explain this to me again.”
    I went through the scenario of what took place, to which I received a sort of a grunt from time to time from the Judge.  When I was finished, he asked, “Are you sure you want to place charges against them?  It would be at least five years in the pen.”
    Glancing over at Charlie, then back to the Judge with a frown on my face.  “I don’t want them to go to prison, but I do want to teach them a lesson.”
    Judge Klaser then began to stroke his beard and at the end of each stroke he muttered, “hmmm.”  After stroking his beard for several seconds, he scratched his head and cleared his throat with a cough.  “I can do this, Miles.  But understand this, they will have a record.  I can commute their sentence and put them on probation.  They will answer to you or Charlie, whoever is available.  For six months they will muck the streets or Durango, make sure the community troughs are filled, the wood at all public buildings is cut and stacked.  They will report to you at the end of every week, giving you a written report of their work.  They are to be available to do any other work that may be required by the community.  Oh, and they will attend church with you each Sunday,” he stopped to look at me, then over to Charlie.  “Any questions?  If not, court date is tomorrow morning.”
    “One more thing,” he offered as we started to leave.  “They’ll be charged with public mischief and endangerment to property.”
    Charlie opened the door and stepped out.  I was just about to do so when the Judge hollered, “Miles, hold on a minute.”
    I went back to the desk.  “Have you heard anything about Queens?”
    “Not wanted for anything,” I replied, “but thought to be a dangerous man.”
    He nodded then waved me away.  Charlie was waiting for me outside and we went down to the jail to tell the “criminals” of their court date.  When we walked in Lucas was standing outside the cell with his back against the adjacent one with a look of total fear on his face.  Mike Queens was in the cell with Fernando…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

I heard the voice behind me, but I saw movement in front of me.  That put a whole new light on the situation.  I reckoned that I could have handled the Scorpion, but with two of them and from what I see in front of me at least one of them was very unstable.  
    “Kill him, Raf!” yelled Ramon.
    I could hear Rafael moving up behind me.  “Patience little brother,” he suggested.  “A little pain, a little wonder, makes it all the more satisfying.”
    Rafael was beside me; he flicked at the edge of my collar with the knife he was holding.  I didn’t move, still holding the Greener trying to be patient, waiting for his friend to step out from behind the stone wall.
    “You did well, Ramon.  Those are fine horses,” congratulated Rafael as he moved from me to stand beside Hawk.
    I took a chance to move my eyes from the outlaw to look at Lucas.  He had his head bowed.  “Lucas,” I said softly.
    “Shut up, Gringo!” yelled the Scorpion or you’ll feel my sting early.
    “I’m sorry, Senor Miles,” whispered Lucas.
    A small smile appeared on my face.  Finally, the other man walked out, but I couldn’t take a chance with the Scorpion standing next to Hawk.  I had thought at first that between myself, Judge Klaser, and Charlie that we could put a good scare into the boys, but with the appearance of Ramon’s brother that changed things.
    The man that now appeared was odd-looking.  By that he was quite short, almost dwarfish.  He was very skinny, and I noticed that he had either been burned or scalped for one side of his head was severely scared.  
    Rafael must have seen me looking at him for he stated, “Meet your master, senor.”  A shrieking laugh came from Rafael, similar to one the Pale Rider would give.  “This is Pepe, and do not mind his appearance, but think of what he will do to you.  Maybe start with your eyes.  No, that would not be good, for then you could not see what he would be doing.”  
    I spit to the ground, then turned my attention to Rafael.  “He’ll never be my master.  I have only one Master–the Lord.”
    That brought another laugh.  “Ha, I was raised to believe, but found my desires to be, let me say, not in accordance with this Jesus.”
    “You still have a chance,” I suggested.
    He paused to look at Lucas.  “Ramon, the kid.  Can he cut it?”
    I had to do something.  First, to get him away from the horses.  I spit on the ground hopefully to anger him.  “Leave the kid alone!”
    “Git!” I hollered to which Hawk and Star responded by taking off.
    That did it; he rushed toward me.  I don’t know why he didn’t disarm me, especially after Pepe appeared.  When Rafael was a yard away I stepped in his direction,  which he was not expecting and swung the Greener catching him on the jaw stunning him and dropping him to the ground.  Both Ramon and Pepe charged me.  There was not much I could do.  I brought the Greener up and fired both barrels.  I wasn’t able to get it leveled and the shot hit them from the belly to the upper thighs cutting them down.  They lay there, bleeding and moaning.
    Immediately I dropped the shotgun then drew my pistol.  I was ready for Fernando to do something but I saw that Lucas had rushed him and they were grappling on the ground.  My movement toward them saved me.  I thought I’d hit Rafael hard enough but as I stepped he threw his knife at me.  That step caused the hilt of the knife to hit me not the blade, I fired at him, the bullet catching him in the middle of his breast.
    The older boy was on top of Lucas pounding him in the face.  Since my pistol was already out I gave him a curt thump over his ear knocking him out.  I reached down to pull Lucas out from under him.
    He was part scared, part angry and was bleeding from his nose and lips.  “Senor Miles, am I a kid?” he asked…
    I didn’t answer, but went to check on Ramon and Pepe.  Ramon had already bled out, but there was still life in Pepe.  Kneeling beside him, he tried to talk, but I could hear his voice it was so low and so weak.  Finally, I heard him ask, “Is it true?”
    “Yes, Jesus is…” was all I could get out before he gave up the ghost and crossed over to meet the judgment.  Did he have time to make it right–I don’t know.
    Going to the unconscious Fernando, I picked him up and tied him on Two-Bits.  “Go see if you can find their horses,” I ordered Lucas, then I whistled and soon Star and Hawk came back to the campsite.  Not long after Lucas came in with the outlaw’s horses.  Grabbing the bodies I tossed them over their horses, then added the body of Ramon with his brother.  I wasn’t about to taint Hawk or Star with one.
    “Mount up on Hawk,” I ordered brusquely.  A dilemma was still before me.  How could I keep Lucas from prison with Fernando still alive?  
    It was a long ride back to Durango…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Moses Vexler was just shaking his head when I asked to borrow a horse.  “Fool younguns!” he exclaimed, then proceeded to ask, “Are you payin’ fer this or the government?  That’s a good horse, made for endurance.  Don’t yuh be tryin’ to run it against that thoroughbred of yurs though.”
    Star could beat almost any horse around, I said most, because I haven’t seen all the horses, for a short distance.  However, Hawk would beat this horse hands down, anytime.  If I could get close enough to see them, I could get them to me.  Two-Bits, well, I haven’t trained him to be a law officer’s horse.
    After saying goodbye to Molly, and picking up the horse, I went to get my gear from the house.  I was half-hoping that the horses would be there and that the boys just took them out for a joy ride.  The weather was nice right now, jacket weather during the day, but it would be cold at night and there was a chance of spring snow.
    Mort Cooper said that he had seen them riding to the south.  There was only one road out of Durango to the south and it was traveled fairly well, but I knew the tracks of those horses, and reckoned I’d pick them up out on the road somewhere; that is, if they traveled the road.  I’d try that way first and if I didn’t come upon the tracks I’d take off cross country.
    Farmington was the only community of any size, but there were a small number of Indian or Mexican settlements in the area.  I’d head in that direction as there was a trading post in a place they were calling Aztec located near some ancient Indian ruins that were claimed to be built by the Aztecs of Mexico.  The boys might be there, or at least passed by.
    It was on top of the hill that came out of Durango that I first saw the tracks of Hawk.  I would keep close watch to make sure they didn’t turn off the road.  The land was covered with shrubs, mostly sagebrush, and sparse grass.  Here and there I could see patches of pinon pines and juniper.  I camped the first night in a grove of cottonwoods growing along the Animas River.
    After making camp I was sitting in camp drinking the last of the coffee.  The sky was clear and slowly stars began to emerge filling a vast canopy over me.  I guess I began getting nostalgic for a bit for to my mind came many other such nights around a lonely campfire, only at the time I didn’t realize I was lonely.  Molly surely had brought many changes to my life.  
    Sipping my coffee I remembered times I was visited by the Pale Rider.  Fear did not come to my mind, only disgust.  Looking at him, smelling him when he was near would make me nauseous.  I also remembered the times when  I had the heavenly Visitor in camp.  Strange times, mystical times, however, since I had more or less settled down some I had few of those visits.  I surely didn’t miss those by the Pale Rider.
    Looking up after I finished my coffee, the stars were bright and the coals from the fire were glowing.  Surely, I thought, no one could deny there was a Creator.  I whispered out loud, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Sobering, magnificent, awe-inspiring were emotions that went through my mind.  My last thoughts before sleep overtook my was that the great-God, the Creator, was at this point in time looking down at me.
    Back on the trail the next morning after a breakfast of day-old biscuits filled with bacon, and a pot of coffee I followed the tracks to where they turned off the road.  I could see the tracks clearly now of all three horses as they moved along the trail.  As I came up on a small rise, off in the distance I could see the ruins and the tracks seem to run in that direction.
    It was mid-afternoon when I came to a stand of pinons.  I was about a hundred yards from the ruins and figured that I might walk up to them in case the boys were in the ruins.  Dismounting I loosely tied the horse I was riding to a branch and began to move slowly trying to stay under cover as much as possible.  I’m not sure how much cover sagebrush gives, but it was all I had along with patches of cactus.
    I easily found the boys and standing behind a broken down wall I listened.  Lucas began to complain, “I’m hungry.  We should have taken the time to get some food.”
    “You are such a babee,” mocked one of the boys.  “We brought these fine horses to my brother, and all you’ve done is cry about it.  You want to be part of our gang you have to turn your back on that old life, right Nando?”
    Stepping out from behind the wall I spoke, “That’s right, and be ready to live in old ruins or worse in your new one.”
    One of the boys went for a gun he had stuck in his pants.  I drew and fired hitting the dirt in front of him.  “Not a good idea.  Now get those horses saddled up.  At least the jail in Durango serves better food.”
    “Jail!” exclaimed Lucas.
    “What did you think?” I responded.  “Horse-stealing is a hangin’ offense in Colorado.  But I’m sure Sheriff Gold will make sure you’re well fed before you’re hung.”
    “My brother, he weel keel you!” sneered the one that I figured was Ramon.  “You will never get away from the Scorpion.”
    I had heard of the Scorpion only in sketchy terms.  “And who is the Scorpion?” I asked.
    “Rafael Garcia,” he said then spitting at me.
    “Son, you do that again and I reckon I’ll have to spank you.”
    He laughed, then sneered answering me, “Come and try it.”
    I took a step toward him when I heard a voice, “Not another step, Gringo…”