The Saga of Miles Forrest

The trip to Canon City was uneventful, for which I was glad.  I watched my two prisoners while traveling on the train with them.  James had turned even more remorse than before.  If ever I had seen darkness in a face, that was James Lamb.  John, on the other hand, seemed to have a ray of hope in his countenance.  Perhaps it was the prayers of Lucas, one never knows how a prayer or a few words of encouragement might help a person.
    Upon arriving in Canon City I was surprised to see U.S. Marshal Jens Blasco waiting for me at the station.  “So, that’s the Lamb brothers?” he asked.  “Plus, you said that Glen Framm was dead and Ioway Jenks was in custody?”
    “Well, greetin’s to you too, Marshal,” I said sarcastically.  “But, yes to your questions.  The other miscreant, the one the Judge killed, was Sim Colburn.  Jenks identified him for us.”
    He continued to walk with me toward the prison.  “Any news of Fooy?” I asked on our trek.
    “No, Sam’s a smart one.  He’ll be in one of those big cities spending his money until it runs out.  They made quite a haul so who knows how long before he reappears.”
    I nodded with my head toward the Lambs.  “Others weren’t so smart.  Oh, by the way, according to Jenks, it was Teeter who shot the guard.”
    “We’ll put ‘wanted for murder’ on the next poster.  He’s running now, so he’ll begin to make mistakes.  It won’t be long before we have him,” stated Blasco.  “When you’re through with your business with the warden I want to see you.  I’ll be waiting in an office he’s provided for us.”
    With that he turned and walked toward the business area of the prison while I waited at the gate for a guard to take me to the warden.  The guard looked at my paperwork then led me to a room where we waited for the warden to appear.  
    It was all done within a few minutes.  I had the Lambs off my hands, signing them over to the warden and the Colorado State Penitentiary.  Neither of the Lambs said anything as two other guards appeared to take them away.  I did receive a goodbye sneer from James.
    A guard, standing in the hallway, directed me to the room where I would find Blasco.  He was sitting behind a table, in a little office, smoking a cigar.  For the life of me I don’t know how a man could breathe the smoke from one of those things into his lungs.  I imagined it was something like the smoke from the bottomless pit.
    “Have a seat, Forrest,” he commanded.  “I need for you to go with me to Raton.  Frank Reston and his gang have been spotted in the area.”
    It kind of took me by surprise.  I had been figuring on getting back and I told him so.  “I didn’t bring any traveling gear,” I informed him.
    “We’ll take the train to Trinidad; horses and gear will be waiting for us there.”
    I looked at him.  “How’s the pass?”
    All I received was a smile before he answered.  “Cold and some snow.  Unless a storm rolls in we’ll should be okay.  Miles, I really need your help.  Here’s our chance to nab Reston.”
    There was no way I could argue with that, plus the fact he was my boss.  Where’s Fred Martin?  I’d thought he’d meet you in Raton.”  Martin was the Deputy U.S. Marshal stationed in Santa Fe.
    “Martin’s on business down Las Cruces way, that’s why I need you.”
    “When do we leave?” I inquired.
    Blasco looked at the large clock, its pendulum swinging back and forth.  “Train pulls out in less than an hour,” he paused and stood giving me a large, toothy smile that was partially hidden by his moustache.  “Let’s go!”
    We made it to the train with time to spare and situated ourselves in the only coach car.  Blasco led us to the middle of the train to take our seats.  He motioned for me to sit, he then sat across from me, that way we could see both doors of the car, not that we were expecting anything to happen, but one never knows.
    I looked at Blasco.  I had never worked directly with him.  He was a man a little taller than me but not as broad in the shoulders.  His hair, eyebrows, and moustache were a dark brown, almost black.  With deep-set eyes he looked menacing.  
    He saw me looking over at him.  “Be sure you pick up a heavier coat when we get to Trinidad.  It’ll be cold going over the pass.”
    This time of year it was dumb of me not to be wearing my sheepskin coat.  I’d left it at home and instead was wearing a black and red plaid jacket.  I could get by with it most of the winter, but he was right, more then likely I would need a heavier coat.
    “I’m going to get some shut-eye before we reach Trinidad,” he told me then pulled his black Stetson down over his eyes and leaned back.  I happened to notice that he took the loop off the hammer of his pistol, just in case.
    I hadn’t had time to send a telegram to Molly.  I needed to make sure to do that when we reached Trinidad, otherwise…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

The situation was going to go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds if I didn’t act.  “James, don’t!” came the shout from John Lamb.
    James Lamb turned toward his brother; it was all the distraction I needed.  I slashed down as hard as I could with the barrel of the shotgun on the arm that had recently been amputated.  Lamb shrieked like a Comanche, his face going pale.  He fell to his knees then rolled over on his side, moaning, the pain etched deeply on his face.
    Before I could turn to face the other man two shots were fired from behind me.  I saw the man stagger and fall.  Judge Broomfield had fired from his position on the bench. I jumped down from the witness stand to level the Greener on the approaching John Lamb.
    Another shot rang out; my attention went to the front where Charlie Gold has just shot Glen Framm.  I turned just in time to glance at Micah Teeter running out the door.  Over to the left, the one called Ioway Jenks was standing, hands in the air.  
    I could hear his hollering, “Not me, not me!  I’m not in this!”
    Charlie went over to relieve him of his gun.  I reached down to pick up the guns from the fallen Lamb and his fallen companion then motioned with the shotgun for his brother to come check on him.
    The courtroom was abuzz with sound and filled with commotion.  Judge Broomfield was not about to have that.  “Sheriff Gold, secure your prisoner then clear the courtroom.  I want everyone out not directly involved in the trial at hand,” he paused and I watched him survey the room.  “Doctor Jones, come check on the wounded and downed men.”
    He was standing closest to the downed body of Glen Framm.  “He’s in bad shape, but breathing.  If I can get him to my office and work on him, he might live.”
    “Sheriff Gold, grab a couple of men to help carry him over to Doc’s office,” ordered the Judge.  “Stay there until other arrangements can be made.”
    Charlie looked my direction and I nodded.  I went to Marta and Lucas as Doc was coming up to check on the other two men.  As I escorted them out of the courtroom, I heard Doc tell the Judge.  “You sent this one to meet his Maker, Judge.”
    “Go on about your normal business, if that’s possible.  Molly will be concerned so tell her I’m alright,” I informed them of what to do.  Before leaving I put my hand on the shoulder of Lucas.  “You did a fine job up there on the witness stand.”
    He gave a half-hearted smile then headed down the street with Marta.
    When I came back in I saw Belford sitting at the table, seemingly in a daze.  In front of him, on the table was the form of James Lamb.  Brother John was standing beside the Doc as he checked James over.
    “Will he be all right, Doctor?” breathed John.
    “Should be,” responded Doc Jones.  “He passed out from the pain.  I’ll get him over to the office and check out his arm more thoroughly there.”
    Approaching them, Belford turned to look at me.  “You should be put away for causing all of this pain,” he muttered.
    I looked at the Judge and he just shook his head.  “The Bible says don’t try to argue with a fool,” stated the Judge giving me advice.
    Just then, the eyes of James Lamb blinked open then started to roaming, searching.  “I’m here James,” uttered John.  “Why did you try such a thing?”
    Groaning he muttered, “I had a score to settle, plus I had to check on you.”
    “James, that youngster, the one who shot me, has made me do some self-appraising.  He said he was praying for me, and came over almost every day to see how I was doing.  I can’t be mad at him for protecting his sister.”
    “Marshal Forrest, I order you to see that James Lamb makes it to the penitentiary in Canon City to serve his sentence.  I find that John Lamb will serve the same sentence,” he paused, “to be paroled in two years.”
    “Judge!  You can’t do that!  I protest, the trial isn’t over yet!” screamed Belford.
    “Mister Belford,” Judge Broomfield turned to face him.  “I can, and I did, this trial is over!”
    The Judge looked at me again.  “You’ll leave as soon as the doctor says that the prisoner is fit to travel.”
    I nodded, then saw Charlie Gold walk in the door.  “Judge…”

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Lucas looked so tiny on the witness chair, but he sat straight with his shoulders back.  He had grown up some in the past several weeks.
    “You said that the defendant, John Lamb, was trying to kidnap your sister without her permission?”, questioned the defense lawyer, Conrad Belford.
    Belford reminded me of a lizard, thin, cold flicking his tongue out as if he wanted a taste of Lucas.
    “This has happened before!  Her reputation proceeds her!” he shouted.
    “I object!” yelled Milt White.  “Mrs. Gold is not on trial.”
    It was all I could do but sit there.  I really wanted to thump Belford on the head.
    “So you shot him, thinking that he was trying to take your sister?”
    “Si, I mean yes, partly,” responded Lucas, now a little nervous with the outburst.
    “Oh, only partly?  Was there another motive in your shooting him?  Did you enjoy the feeling?”
    “He, was threatening my friends,” he said proudly, straightening up.
    “How old are you?” Belford barked.
    Lucas put his hand to his forehead.  “Fourteen.”
    “You’re one of those young scoundrels that run the streets causing havoc to the good folk of the community,” he accused.  “Do you go to school?  Do you work?”
    Lucas couldn’t answer, he was questioning too fast.  At last White objected, “Your Honor, he’s badgering the witness.”
    Judge Broomfield warned the tactics by Belford then turned to Lucas.  “Do you go to school?”
    “Si, Senor Judge,” replied Lucas.
    “Do you work?” the judge continued.
    “Si, I chop wood for the diner, and take care of, of Marshal Forrest’s horses,” he looked at me with a smile so I gave him a nod.
    “No more questions for this witness,” mumbled Belford.  “I now call Marshal Miles Forrest to the stand.”
    I was standing over by the jury box when summoned.  I walked the few steps to the witness stand and took the oath.
    Belford grabbed at the bottom of his throat.  “I’m aghast!  Judge, he is carrying a shotgun!” he garbled putting on a little show.  “I demand he put it away!”
    There came a sigh from the Judge.  “Marshal Forrest, is this really needed?  Only you and the Sheriff are carrying guns.  Do you really think you need to have the shotgun?”
    “Well,” I began pulling on my moustache.  “It’s like this…”  I had to smile when the back door opened and three men walked in.  “Judge, not everyone in this room is unarmed.  Why I even bet that Lawyer Belford has a derringer on his person.  And,” I pointed to the back of the room.  “Those three men are wearing guns, so I reckoned it was prudent that I keep my Greener handy.”
    “Sheriff Gold, go remove those men of their firearms!” commanded the Judge.
    Charlie stood and started down the far aisle toward them.  Two of the men began to span out away from the center.  The one I knew as Micah Teeter spoke up, “I’m afraid not Judge.”
    Then I heard steps from somewhere over to my right.  Two men walked through the doorway.  One of them spoke, “He’s right Judge, they’ll keep their guns.”
    There were two of them.  One man I didn’t know.  The other had one arm…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Brrr, that snow we received the other night sure brought in a cold spell.  Must be down near zero this morning.  I’d been helping Charlie do his rounds and took up some slack when he had to be out of town.  He wanted to hit the major towns before the end of the year; sort of take inventory.  He was supposed to be back from Silverton today, but with the snow the train might be delayed.
    I was warmly bundled as I walked the streets this morning.  The shops were just beginning to open.  Up the street I could see Darnelle out in front of her uncle’s store shoveling snow out into the street.  I decided to walk on up past the sheriff’s office and greet her.
    She looked up just as I got to her.  Tucking some strands of hair that had come out from under her scarf she gave me a warm smile for such a cold morning.  “You showed up just in time, Mr. Forrest, I just finished,” she said with a little laugh.  “Come on in, I have coffee warming on the stove all ready for this particular moment.  Join me.”
    I wasn’t about to turn down a cup of coffee.  In fact, weather like this makes a man hanker for it.  We stomped the snow off our boots on the little rug just inside the store.  I helped Darnelle with her coat and she proceeded down the main aisle toward the back.  I could feel the large room getting warmer as we neared the stove.  
    She handed me a cup, I didn’t bother to look in it for I knew it would be clean.  Pouring the coffee she asked, “How was your Christmas?”
    Fine, fine,” I responded, then took a sip.  Whew, it was hot!  Some women just have the knack of getting coffee, soup, and such hotter than others.  I wonder what it was?  “Glad you decided to come over to the diner for dinner.”
    Motioning to a chair I sat down and she took the one next to me scooting closer to the stove to warm her feet.  “Well, mother and father are out of town.  They went down to Santa Fe for Christmas.  They’ll be back this weekend if the weather holds.  I came to the diner to keep me from fixing a Christmas dinner.”
    “Wasn’t it lonely, here at Christmas?” I asked.
    She turned my way, looking at me solemnly and didn’t speak for a few seconds.  “In some ways you could say it was,” then a smile broke out on her face.  “In other ways, I’m never alone for the Lord is always with me.”
    I nodded at her; I could understand for I had spent many an hour on the trail by myself.  There were a few winters, that one up near Chugwater came quickly to mind when it was me, the wolves and the snowmen.
    Finishing my coffee I stood handing her the cup.  “Thanks,” then thought a minute.  “You have plenty of wood?”
    “I’m good.  Father had a couple of cords cut for us.  The upstairs doesn’t take much heat, except when that cold winds starts to howl,” she responded with a smile.
    I walked to the door and stood at the entry way looking up and down the street.  “You’re a cautious man,” I heard her say behind me.
    Turning my head I nodded to her.  “Pays to be cautious in my line of work.”
    “Do you think James Lamb will try to take his vengeance on you?” she questioned.
    I must have frowned for she continued.  “Oh, it’s all over town.  Some say you bring trouble to Durango,” she sighed and paused.  “Mister Forrest, don’t let people bother you with their talk.  Remember, you have been called to bring justice to this country wherever you are and right now you are in Durango.”
    Tipping my hat, I gave a smile.  “I’ll check back on you later.  I’m headin’ now to the station to see when they expect the train to be in.  Sheriff’s supposed to be on it.”
    Stepping out the cold wind came up the street.  That was one thing about going inside a warm room, a person had to come back out to the cold.  John Lamb’s trial was set for next week.  I reckoned that James and his cohorts would be here by then.
    I breathed a little prayer and I could almost imagine the words handing out with my frosted breath, “Lord, help me in the New Year.”