The Saga of Miles Forrest

From my chair at the table I’ve seen many different types of people walk through the doors of the diner.  Some have been good, and there have been those who wanted to kill me.  I was very surprised at who just walked through–Lillian Billington.  She stopped just inside to find a table, so I stood up, waved at her to come join us.
     She wasn’t what a person would call a beautiful woman but she wasn’t hard on the eyes either.  She hesitated briefly when I invited her over, but then started out way.  One could tell by the wrinkles in a well-to-do dress that she had been traveling.  I guessed she had arrived on the train.
     I stayed standing as she approached to introduce her.  “This is my wife, Molly,” who nodded her greeting to Lillian. “This is Doctor Jones and the fellow next to you is our sheriff, Charlie Gold.  And I don’t know if I ever gave you my name when we met before, but I’m Miles Forrest.”  As I said that I thought I saw a glimmer of malice pass through her eyes.  “This is, Miss?” I said with a question, “Lillian Billington.”
     Charlie stood up and pulled out a chair for her.  She sat down, smoothed her dress and just nodded a greeting to those at the table.
     “I met her at the rail station on my way to Santa Fe,” Then looking at her I asked, “Coffee?”
     With, what I thought was a slightly forced smile, she replied, “Yes, please.”
     After pouring a cup for her, I set it down on the table.  “I’ve been looking for my father,” she said after taking a sip.  “I was told that he took the train to Santa Fe.  Oh, I don’t know why he didn’t wait for me,” frustration filling her voice.  “We were to take a trip to Denver together; a sort of mini-vacation.”
     “Where are you from, Lillian?” asked Molly politely.
     “When Father moved here, my mother and I moved on to Sacramento.  It seemed that they had a disagreement about his choice of location.  I had just turned 18 so I went with her as they both agreed that a mining town was no place for a young lady.”
     She looked over at Charlie and put her hand on his arm.  A move that was detected by Marta who was across the room waiting on a table.  “Do you know where my Father is?”
     Charlie looked at me, then Doc.  “Well…”
     “You do!  Good, tell me, I must see him.”
     I was watching her when my attention was drawn back to the entrance of the diner.  In walked two rough-looking characters.  They looked the room over carefully and they stiffened a mite when they saw Lillian.  They were miners and they sure weren’t cowboys, they were of a different sort that I had seen over the years, those who wore their guns tied low.
     After their initial observation they walked on over to a table and sat down.  Marta went over to take their order.  My eyes were watching them and one would glance my direction every so often.
     Charlie began to speak, but Doc interrupted.  “Miss Billington, I’m sorry to tell you that your Father is dead.”
     “No!” she exclaimed, then looked at me and this time the malice stayed in her eyes.  “I went to Santa Fe and was told he had been shot, but that he had been discharged from the hospital so I assumed he was all right.”
     “A man found him dead, lying on the road outside of Chama,” piped in Charlie.  “He brought him to Durango.  The burial will be today.”
     “May I see him?” she asked dabbing at her eyes.
     “Miss,” chimed in Doc.  “I really don’t think that would be a good idea,” he paused rubbing his face.  “He was found in pretty bad shape.”
     “Oh, but I must,” she said.
     Doc stood up, “Come with me,” and reached for her arm.
     They walked on out the door and I noticed that she looked over at the men who had come in, just briefly enough to nod her head at them.  A minute or so after she went out the door they got up to follow.
     “Hey!” exclaimed Marta.  “Here’s your food.”
     They didn’t pay her any mind and walked on out.