The Saga of Miles Forrest

We arrived too late in the evening for me to send a telegram to Marta. The place hadn’t changed much since the last time I had traveled to Farmington. That was about four or five years ago. A couple new saloons, some signs changed, more Anglo than in the past.

     I sat in the saddle looking around pondering the situation. The region was pretty dry, so that would mean a dry camp, or we could spend the night in the hotel.

     “Senor, is there something wrong? You’ve been shaking your head,” inquired Lucas.

     “No,” I replied with a laugh. “Just thinkin’ how my Molly has spoiled me over the years.”

     Now he gave a laugh. “That is for sure. She makes you a pie almost every day .”

     That deserved a scowl, so I gave him one. “Not every day!”

     My reply only made him laugh harder.

     “Let’s get the horses put up. Remember not to call me ‘Marshal,'” I ordered. “I don’t want anyone to know who I am.”

     At the livery the hostler looked us over. “What yur doin’ with a Mex kid?” he asked.

     I didn’t care much for his attitude, but I didn’t want to make him mad and not take care of the horses so I simply replied, “Travelin’.”

     “He is my uncle,” spouted Lucas. “His brother married my mother. They are dead–Apaches. He now is taking care of me.”

     The look I gave Lucas, well I hoped the hostler didn’t see it. “Lucas, you can sure tell a whopper,” I thought to myself.

     “Tough kid,” responded the man taking the reins of Two-Bits. “Apaches are mean critters. I had a run in with them when I lived down at Lordsburg. One reason I moved up to this part of the Territory.”

     I took care of Hawk while Lucas began to unload the pack animal, the hostler already had the saddle off Two-Bits. “All right to leave my gear here?”

     “Shouldn’t be a problem, though I can’t guarantee it,” he stated. “I sleep here and keep the door locked so reckon it will be all right.”

     He looked at the shotgun in my hand. “Yuh always carries that thing around?”

     Looking in his direction, I replied. “Can’t hardly go to sleep without it by my side. It’s just reassurin’ company.”

     Nodding, I put my hand on Lucas’ shoulder to guide him out. “Cantina across the street serves good food,” came a holler from back in the stalls.

     We ate then went to get a room at the hotel. Lucas had never stayed in one before so it was an experience for him.

     The night went by slowly, but I noticed that Lucas didn’t have any trouble sleeping. That’s just not right; he should have a guilty conscience for running off and telling that big lie to the hostler. Morning came and I reckoned the bedbugs didn’t get me. I woke Lucas and we went out to eat breakfast at the cantina; I had huevos rancheros on my mind. Well, they had eggs–they must have been quail or from pullets they were so small. But the tortillas, fresh side, and beans were good.

     From there we went to the telegraph office. Lucas stayed outside while I went in to send a telegram to Marta. At least I wouldn’t have to hear her chew me out. “Marta–Lucas is with me–I take care of him–Miles.”

     I paid the operator and as I turned I heard, “Kid, get out of my way!” Then heard the sound of Lucas bouncing off the office wall.

     Sighing I went out…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

I was sipping on my coffee as I sat near the fire that evening. The days had faded when I relished to be riding out, looking for adventure and excitement. Guess my days with Molly had quenched for the most part that yearning. It was nice to be on the trail, riding Hawk, and I didn’t really miss the comforts of home, but my goodness I did miss her. The stars were so bright that night, each one of them had a special twinkle. Ha, maybe that was God’s way of winking His eyes at us. Each twinkle a statement that says, “I’m watching out for you.” At least it was a comforting thought.

     Blasco had sent me to aid Felix Wilcox, the U.S. Marshal of the New Mexico/Arizona Territory. There had been plenty problems in Lincoln County that kept him busy, and he needed help as there were rustlers stealing cattle and selling them in Mormon country. It seems that the recipients of the goods sort of blinked at them being stolen.

     Molly made several hand-pies for me to take along. I saved the ham sandwich she made and fried up some bacon for supper and ate one of those pies—apricot it was. Hmm, maybe that was one of the things I missed, those special ways that she treated me. Off in the distance I could hear the howl of coyotes. As long as it wasn’t an old lobo wolf I didn’t mind. It brought to mind that one winter up near Meeker; that long, cold winter, when I seem to be fighting the wolves all the time.

     I had just placed the now empty cup on a rock by the fire, pulled the pot off the coals and laid back on my saddle. The coyote continued his soothing cacophony, if there is such a thing, and I could hear the faint trickling of the little brook near where my camp was. I barely closed my eyes when I heard something out in the brush. It could be nothing, just an animal moving to the stream for a drink. Then again it could be a two-legged varmint. I didn’t think it was Indians for they were pretty tame this far north in New Mexico, and it made too much noise for an Indian. It could be some miscreant from justice, waiting for me to go to sleep.

     My gun was out of my holster and in my hand pointing at the area where I heard the sound. When I cocked it, the sound seems to break the quietness of the night, and I heard a muffled voice. “Please, Senor Marshal. Don’t shoot; it’s Lucas.”

     Jumping to my feet, I hollered, “Lucas! Get yourself in here!” When he entered the camp I saw that he was leading Two-Bits. “I could have shot you! What are you doin’ here?”

I reached down to add a couple of branches I had broken up to the fire so I could see him better. “Does Charlie or Marta know you’re here?”

     “No, well, Si, they do,” he mumbled.

     “Lucas!”

     “I did leave them a note, telling them I was goin’ to find you,” he confessed. “Did I do wrong again?”

     I was fit to be tied. Lucas, what could he have been thinking? “Tomorrow, you go back!” I said in a huff.

     He sort of gave a sniffle, “But Senor, you would send me out all alone in the wilderness that is full of bandits and ruffians? No, it is better if I stay with you.”

     “I’ll mull it over some in my mind. Unsaddle and get your bedroll out,” I growled.

     “Si, Senor Marshal,” he replied then went to the chore of taking care of Two-Bits and getting his belongings. I was leaning back on my saddle watching him.

     “You know your sister is goin’ to have my hide the next time I see her. If’n it wasn’t for Molly I wouldn’t dare go home,” I said in consternation.

     He chuckled, which I was in no mood for and said, “Si, it will be something to see.”

     I gave a deep sigh. “There’s a little coffee in the pot; it’ll still be warm. Grab a sandwich, and one of those pies from my bag there. I’m goin’ to sleep.”

     He fussed around getting a cup, banging the tin on a rock while getting the coffee. Then I could hear him rummaging through the bag. I wanted to ignore him and sleep, but I just laid there. What had I been thinking about the stars twinkling? Ha, twinkling with laughter I expect. Marta is going to have a hissy-fit.

The Saga of Miles Forrest

So you’ve got yourself a big mess on your hands,” stated Doc before sipping his coffee.
    I replied with a grim smile.  “Not yet, and it don’t have to be.”  I looked at Marta then over to Charlie who had returned yesterday from Silverton.
    Doc grunted, then took another sip.  “You know Ben Lowell ain’t going to let a horse thief get away.”
    “Well, I don’t blame him none for that.  I just don’t want to find they went out and hung a kid,” I remarked.
    The whole group was there this morning.  Business was slow in the diner so Molly and Marta were sitting with Doc Jones, Charlie and me. Lucas was there with us and he was part of my idea.
    Molly interrupted that last thought by asking Charlie if he had talked to Luciana.  “I went by there yesterday, as soon as I saw Marta to let her know that Mateo would be in Silverton at least two more weeks.  He’s doing a good job up there, and Mike Dewey up and left for parts unknown.  Big Bob Phillips is the new marshal.”
    That name perked up my ears.  “Bob Phillips!  I didn’t know he had any experience as a law officer.”
    A large grin appeared on Charlie’s face.  “Well, Marshal Forrest, we all have to learn sometime.”  That brought a laugh from all those sitting here.  I had hired Charlie and he had done quite well.  He had the knack for the job.  That’s part of it knowing what to do at the right time.  A person can’t go arresting everyone, but he can make his presence known.
    Bob had come to the region to make his fortune in gold or silver like so many of the other residents.  He didn’t like standing in the freezing water or digging through the frozen ground so he hired on as a freighter from Durango to Silverton, but the railroad had put most of that to a halt.  He did continue to haul freight to Telluride, but again the cold got to him.  I often wondered, since he wasn’t married why he just didn’t head off to Arizona Territory or California; It wasn’t cold there.
    “That’s one reason Mateo stayed.  Shy Williams is his deputy.  I don’t know much about him, but he seems to be working hard.  They really need a third man, but I don’t know if the town will pay for one.  The good Lord knows they have the money to do so,” said Charlie.  “Anyway, Luciana wasn’t real happy over the situation.”
    “She likes the money,” piped up Marta.  “But, he’s gone so much, she misses him as do the boys.  They are growing up so fast,” her eyes directed at Charlie.
    Doc grunted again, “Say Charlie, why don’t you put your name in for marshal here in Durango.  You know the town, and the people.”
    “One main reason–John Newsome.  He’s still on the city council.  Remember, he’s one of the two that wanted me out of the position before,” Charlie reminded him.
    Marta didn’t say anything, but got up taking her empty cup with her.  Molly must have sensed something so she got up as well.  “Doc, Charlie, would you like some pie?  How about you Lucas?” she said before following Marta.  
    The two men declined but Lucas’ eyes lit up, “Chocolate, please Senora.”
    “Chocolate it is.  You two sure you don’t want a piece?” she inquired again.
    I looked at her, “Say what about me?”
    Waving her hand at me she gave some kind of disgusted sound which I couldn’t quite make out.  “I know you want one!  No need to ask.”
    All I could do in response was to give a big smile.
    My attention went to Lucas.  “Do you know how old Fernando is?”
    He didn’t seem to hear me as his focus was on the large piece of pie in Molly’s hand.  She did bring me a piece, not quite so large.  Lucas and I looked at each other, both of us smiling.  He had chocolate, and I had a piece of apricot.  It was then I noticed my cup was empty so I pushed the chair back to get the pot.
    I filled my cup and then Charlie’s and Doc’s, then after putting the pot back on the stove.  “Lucas, you didn’t answer my question.”
    He kept eating, then looked up saying, “I would guess at least eighteen.”
    Forking a piece of pie in my mouth I began to chew.  When I swallowed, I asked Lucas, “Well, how old are you now, fifteen?”
    Turning his head suddenly in my direction, he blurted, “Sixteen almost seventeen!”
    “My, my, and you’ve had the experiences.  I’d like for you to go with me on a little trip.  I need some help in trackin’ down Fernando.”
    Charlie almost spluttered out his coffee.  “Miles, I don’t think Marta…”
    He didn’t finish for a big, solid man walked in the front of the diner.  He was wearing a worn brown vest, with brown pants that had little thin lines of white in them.  I noticed his gun, the holster was worn but well kept.  His face showed little emotion but it did have a determined look on it.  The big moustache on his face would rival mine.  
    Coming here meant trouble, it was U.S. Marshal Jeb Blasco.

The Saga of Miles Forrest

As I walked out of Foster’s I heard shouting, “Where’s my horse!” came the angry voice.  “If’n someone’s playin’ a trick I’m not carin’ much for it!”  He looked at his two compadres.
    He went out into the street and began looking up and down.  Throwing his hands on his hips the frustration was apparent.  Looking back at his friends, “Where’s the marshal’s office?”
    “There ain’t no marshal, Lefty, he was killed a few days back,” stated one of his friends as he walked back to the boardwalk.
    “Then the sheriff.  I need my horse!” he exclaimed.
    I walked up to him and started to speak, when he spotted my badge.  “You the sheriff?  I want my horse, what are you doin’ about it?”
    “Now just simmer yurself,” I said.  “I’m not the sheriff, he’s up to Silverton currently.”
    The three of them looked at me, but the one called Lefty was surely puzzled.  “You’re wearin’ a badge, can’t you do something?  I’ve got to get back to the ranch, and that horse wasn’t rightly mine.”
    The other two stood there nodding in agreement.  I turned my attention to them.  “You fellas got a name?”
    One of them backed up a step when asked, but his partner spoke right up.  “Jed Fountain.”
    “And you?”
    “Uhh,” he slurred something.
    “Listen friend, all I asked for is your name.  You runnin’?”
    He lifted his chin, and blurted, “No sir, I, well, I did some time, and I know what some of you lawmen think of former inmates.”
    I sighed, “Your name.”
    “Link Doyle.”
    Staring at him, I looked hard, “Listen Mister, I don’t care much for your past if you’ve paid your dues, I’m interested in the way your walkin’ now, so get that chip off your shoulder.”
    “What I want to know is, what are you goin’ to do about my horse?” asked Lefty impatiently.
    I could understand his frustration and anger.  A man wasn’t much good around here without a horse, and now he was probably going to be in trouble with his boss.  He may get fired, but if he’s a good hand, more then likely will take it out of his pay.
    “Lefty, you got a last name?” I questioned.
    “Monroe,” he blurted quickly the frustration showing.
    “Well, Lefty, I’m a Deputy U.S. Marshal, and right now it’s out of my jurisdiction.  So, I’m goin’ to wait for the sheriff to get back and hand it over to him.”
    I watched him clench his fist.  “Why, by that time he could be down in New Mexico, or, or anywhere.”
    “Mister Lowell, ain’t gonna like you losin’ one of his horses,” spoke out Fountain.
    Lefty uttered an oath, then slapped his hat against his leg.  I could see he was a mite concerned over the situation, that was a good sign.
    “Let me tell you one thing, Lefty, that kind of prayer won’t get you much.  You ought to be askin’ the good Lord what to do next instead of cussin’, plus there’s women and youngsters present,” I informed him.  
    His eyes widened in surprise that I had chided him that way.  It almost brought a smile to him.
    I knew Bill Lowell, he was a good man.  He had a nice spread on Yellowjacket Creek on toward Pagosa.  He did most of his trade in Pagosa Springs, but lately he had been coming to Durango.  Bill took care of his men, and I didn’t think Lefty would get fired, but I also knew that he wouldn’t take kindly to his horse being stolen.
    The three men just stood there, then Lefty caught eye of Lucas.  Anger rose in him again, “Say, Kid, did you see who took my horse?”
    He took a step toward Lucas and I cut him off.  “Leave him alone.  He has already told me what he knows.”  
    I knew Lefty was just frustrated and he didn’t know what to do.  I placed my hand on his shoulder, “Let’s go see Vexler.  I’m sure he’ll loan you a horse.  I’ll vouch for you to him and to Mr. Lowell.”
    Looking at me with wide eyes again, “You don’t know me.  I might just ride out of here.”
    I looked at him and smiled.  “I don’t think you will, plus if you do I’ll have to come after you.”
    He looked confused.  “You’d come after me, but you won’t go after who stole my horse?”
    “Didn’t say that, I said I was goin’ to wait until the sheriff comes back,” I responded then looked at Molly then down at Lucas.  My attention went to Fountain and Doyle.  “Why don’t you guys go down to the diner.  Molly, here, will get you a piece of pie, on me.”  I slapped Lucas on the shoulder.  “Your work is over for the day.  Molly be sure Lucas gets a piece as well.”
    I started to walk on, but Lefty lingered, his hat being rolled in his hands.  “Ma’am,” he pleaded, “I sorta would like a piece as well…”