The Saga of Miles Forrest

As soon as those rough-looking characters left, I got up, grabbed my hat, and took one more swallow of coffee.  It was cold.  I started to reach for the Greener, but decided to leave it leaning against the wall.
     “Be back in a bit,” and I hurried on out the door.
     They were not in sight, but I continued to amble on down toward the undertaker.  Parker had a reputable business as a cabinet maker and served as the undertaker; oh, and on the side he made trunks.
     Lillian had said she was going down to see the mortified remains of her father, and I had the notion that the two men followed her.  I don’t know why exactly, and I didn’t know if there was a connection or not, but something in my gut said things were not as they seemed.
     I had just passed Jensen’s Hardware & Feed and was about half a block from Parker’s.  My eyes were focused on his place when….
     Groggedly I felt someone shaking my shoulder.  “Mr. Forrest, Mr. Forrest, are you all right?”
     “All but my head.  Someone thumped me good,” I replied.  I felt silly, sitting there in the alley-way with a knot on my head.  If was a mistake a tenderfoot might make.  He could as easily shot me as whacked me over the head.  I had no idea how long I was out, fifteen, twenty minutes maybe.
     Then I wondered, so I asked, “How’d you see me layin’ in the alley?”
     “I was walking from Mr. Parker’s and happened to glance in the alley as I passed by and saw a boot, so I went to examine who it might be.  Oh, Mr. Forrest, you were right, my Father looked frightful,” she cried and reached up to dab her eyes with a hankie.
     By that time I had struggled and was standing.  “Did you see two fellas outside here, maybe followin’ you?”
     “No, no, you said they were following me?” she gasped throwing her hands to the top of her chest.  “Do you think I have anything to worry about?”  She looked at me and continued, “Do you think it was one of them that hit you?”
     I started to shake my head, but that made it throb worse.  Looking at her I asked, “Do you have a place to stay?”
     “Yes, thank you for asking.  I’ll stay at my Father’s house.  I was just going that direction now.  I need to get his things in order.”
     “Let me walk you there, just in case,” I took a stumbling step.
     “Shouldn’t you just sit down?  I know where he lives and I’m sure I’ll be alright.”
     “Once I’ve taken a few steps I’ll be okay,” I paused.  “Could I trouble you to reach down an’ pick up my hat?”  I didn’t want to lean over and then fall flat on my face.
     She handed my hat to me and I gently placed it on my head.  Then we started walking.
     As we walked along she asked, “Did you know my Father?”
     “I did.  He was the banker so most of the folk in town knew him.”  I didn’t want to come out and say I was the one who blew off his leg.
     I hoped she didn’t ask more about him, but then she went off in a different direction.  “I heard my cousin was in town.  Do you know him–Billy Denton?”
     Now how do I answer that, I thought to myself?  “Our paths have crossed a time or two.”
     Her eyes seemed to light up.  “Do you know where I might find him?”
     “Most likely down at the jail.”
     “Wonderful!  I heard that he became marshal.”
     Should I tell her, I wondered?  Thankfully we were almost at Billington’s home.  For a man with his money, he didn’t take care of his place very well.  The fence needed repair and painting.  The porch need to be cleaned.  Then I glanced to the back of the house and thought I saw the tail of a horse swish.
     She interrupted my thoughts when she said, “Thank you for walking me.  I hope your head will feel better soon.  Oh, you don’t have to walk me to the door.”
     I turned to leave as she approached the door.  Then I turned back.  I wondered if she had a key.  I didn’t see her trying to unlock the door; it seemed that it just swung open.  I stood awhile and watched….