The Saga of Miles Forrest

He stared at me for a few minutes.  I didn’t want to look at his disgusting face, but it was hard not to make eye-contact.  When I did, I saw that insidious smile.  I tried to focus on other things:  the job at hand, Molly’s apple pie, a soothing cup of coffee, I even said a few prayers.  When my eyes moved back to him, he was gone.
    This ride seemed much longer than the one down here with Molly.  The seat seemed harder, my shoulder ached, and I was anxious to get off.  There was an hour delay in Taos so I made the best of the opportunity and went to the Wells Fargo office.  Before leaving Durango I stopped by to see the Judge.  He was not working in his office yet, but doing paperwork and the like from his home.  He gave me a court order for the money that Billington had taken with him.  I told the clerks in the office that I had to go on down to Santa Fe, but would be back in a day or so for the money.
    Wherever I went my eyes would search for Billy Denton.  As soon as I get this money situation cleared up I would be on the trail for him.  He was one of the cowardly punks who thought himself grander than he was.  One of these days I would catch up to him.
    The car I was riding in was packed.  There were families, commotion, and the smells flowing from the people made my stomach churn.  Why, my goodness, I’d rather be riding the trail with a thousand head of cattle than to be packed in with thirty or so dirty humans.  Plus, I had to share my seat with a young kid.  His mother and other siblings were across from me.  
    She would stare and frown at me, letting me know that there was something about me that she disapproved of.  “Must you show that filthy gun in front of the child?” she questioned.
    I jerked my head up.  “Ma’am, I’ll have you know that this here shotgun is cleaner than anyone in this here train car.”  Then I turned to the kid.  “How old are you boy?”
    He shied away from me some then answered.  “Fifteen.”
    Looking back at his mother.  “He’s on the verge of manhood, ma’am.”
    “Hmmpf,” came her reply.
    “Ma’am,” I continued.  “This here Greener has saved more lives than you could count on your fingers and toes.  It’s almost like family to me.”
    “Well, I don’t like it.  Seems like the government should do something about ruffians like you carrying guns around.”
    “Ruffian,” I thought to myself.  Well, I’d been called a few names before, but never ruffian.  Wait until I tell Molly.  Just to be aggravating I took the shotgun from the side where the kid was sitting and put it across my lap.  Ooo-we, the daggers that flung from her eyes.  And she called me the “ruffian.”
    Finally, we pulled into Santa Fe.  I allowed my fellow-passengers to get off and even tipped my hat to the mother I had ruffled.  As I was stepping down I bumped into the young lady I had met earlier.  She smiled and greeted me.  “Hmmm, ruffian,” I thought to myself; she don’t seem to think so.
    I didn’t want to be in town that long even though Santa Fe is a mighty nice place.  They have some fine eateries here, but none can compare to Molly’s cooking, so I wanted to be getting on back to Durango.  I hurried on down to the hospital to see Billington.  As I walked to the nurse at the desk in front I saw the young lady from the train rushing out.
    “Nurse,” I said to get her attention, then showed her my badge.  “I’m Deputy U.S. Marshal Miles Forrest and I need to see one of your patients–a Mr. Billington.”
    “Sorry,” she replied.  “He’s no longer with us.”
    “Oh, he died?” there was not much sorrow in my voice.
    “No, just about an hour ago some men came and took him away,” she remarked.  “Here, let me take you to his doctor.”
    We walked down the hall to a room where there was a man at a desk.  “Doctor Lambert, this is Marshal Forrest.  He is asking about Mr. Billington.”  
    He reached out to shake my hand.  “Marshal, just as I told the young lady a few minutes before, he is no longer in the hospital.  There were several rough-looking characters who came to take him away.  I told them he could easily die, that he was not ready to be moved,” he sort of paused to catch his breath, then continued, “I had to amputate his leg from the hip, and some of the flesh from his side.  It could easily start to hemorrhage.”
    “Do you know where they took him?” I asked.
    “Sorry, but no.  When I told his daughter than she became very distraught.”