The Saga of Miles Forrest

From time-to-time Billington would look our direction.  He looked very anxious and agitated, and often when asked a question by Billy, he would say something that sounded gruff as I couldn’t actually distinguish the words.  Probably better that way.
    Molly gave me a slight elbow.  “Notice anything strange about Mr. Billington and Billy?”
    “Nothing, except he seems a bit agitated,” I replied.
    “And you call yourself an officer of the law.  Hmpf, some investigator you are,” she said mockingly.  “Neither has a suitcase; only Mr. Billington has a valise that appears to be full.”
    “Maybe I should give you my badge.  Maybe he had it checked,” I quipped.  “We can still move up to the compartment cars, if you’d like.”
    “It might make for a more comfortable trip,” she said with a sigh, “but then I know you like to move about in the cars seeing who’s aboard.”
    I glanced over at Billington; he caught my eye.  With a sudden jerk he lifted his chin as if to indicate his position in life was higher than mine.  It made me shake my head.  There are poor people, then there are “poor” people.
    “Want a cup of coffee?  We could go up to the dinin’ car an’ sit a spell.  Might have a different atmosphere.”
    “I’m fine, Miles.  It’s only a couple of hours before supper.  You go ahead; I know you want some coffee,” Molly ventured with a smile.
    Standing up, I left the shotgun with Molly, and started down the aisle.  Billington’s foot was somewhat out in the aisle, and I was tempted.  I so desperately wanted to stomp on it, but I glanced back at Molly.  She smirked and shook her head “no.”
    There were two passenger cars; we were sitting in the last one.  I had to pass through one other car to get to the dining car.  In front of that was a Pullman sleeping car.  I had been tempted to secure berths, but decided I wanted to be closer to the gold, and with that I didn’t want Molly that far away from me.  Call it selfish or insecurity if you want; I like to call it proper caution.  Ahead of the Pullman car was one that that had several small rooms with berths, chairs and the like.
    There were not many passengers aboard, perhaps more would be joining as we ventured south to Santa Fe before turning back north toward Denver.  I sat down at a counter in the dining car and requested a cup of coffee.  Mercy!  I almost had to spit it out.  I’m sure the sinkwater back at the diner in Durango was stronger than this coffee.  I thought that they were trying to save money until they told me that it cost a dime.  That was extortion in its own right, and then the audacity to charge for something they called “coffee.”  I reckoned I would just hop off at one of the frequent stops along the route and grab a cup.
    I was sitting at the counter and began to ponder Molly’s observation about Billington and Denton traveling without any luggage.  I thought I heard Denton fussing about not having a change of clothes, but they were a couple of seats from me and I couldn’t make out what they were saying.  Billington was quite distraught at Billy though.
    The conductor walked by and I grabbed him by the arm.  “I’m Secret Service agent, Miles Forrest,” to introduce myself.  “Is there anywhere I can send a telegram from along the way?”
    “We’ll be stopping for about hour at Chama.  You can send one from there.”
    I nodded, then asked, “Won’t it be pretty late when we pull in?”
    He put in hand on my shoulder in a fatherly manner.  “Telegraph office stays open along the rail.  You’ll be able to get your message off.”
    Rubbing down my moustache, I asked, “Any chance there will be any good coffee at that station?”
    “Come with me, son,” and he started back toward my car.  Going through it I saw Billy dozing and Billington may have been sleeping with his chin resting on his chest.  Molly waved at me, and I mouthed to her, “Be right back.”
    We couldn’t go through the Express Car where the gold was located so the conductor started climbing up to the roof of that car.  I followed right behind him.  Walking on top of that car was an experience in itself.  I reckoned that was what it must be like to be in a small boat, rocking back and forth on the ocean.  At the end of the car we climbed back down and he opened the door to the caboose.  There were five men in that room; a couple sitting around a barrel playing checkers and three laying back on cots.  
    “Demetrius!” the conductor barked.  “Get this fine gentleman some of that coffee you’ve got brewing!” he looked over at me.  “I don’t want his innards to shrivel up inside.”
    The man he called Demetrius reached for a cup and poured some liquid that looked thick and black.  “Here ya go, Mister.”
    Now I had surely drank stronger coffee, but I couldn’t remember when or where.  I could see the men were waiting for some kind of response or expression.  “Ahhh, that’s fine coffee.  Couldn’t have made it better myself,” then I handed the cup back to Demetrius.  “How ’bout toppin’ it off?”
    He smiled, took the cup, and filled it to the brim.  “Greek coffee,” he declared, “half a can of coffee per pot.”
    I finished my cup, not wanting to appear rude then headed on back to where Molly was sitting.  She sort of snuggled close to me as it was a mite chilly in the car.  I convinced her that we should wait until we stopped at Chama to eat.
    The stopping at the station wakened both Molly and me.  We got off and the conductor said we would be leaving in an hour and he pointed toward the telegraph office.  “Any place to eat this time of night?” I inquired.
    “There’s a little shop in the station that sells sandwiches and coffee,” he replied.
    Molly went and ordered sandwiches for us while I went to send telegrams.  As I left the office I saw Billington standing not ten feet away, glaring at me with malice, then came a smile.  He took a couple of steps closer and said, “Miles, I’m sorry,” and started to reach his hand out to shake.