The Saga of Miles Forrest

I hesitated thinking I should go back and check the house.  Looking back once, I decided to make a visit to the jail and have a little chat with Billy Denton.
     It was a hot summer day and by the time I walked the few blocks to the jail I was sweating.  The streets were full of activity with customers moving about.  Unemployed, out-of-luck, or just plain lazy miners were lounging around on benches or sitting on the edge of the board walks.  Most people who worked the mines understood the hard work that was involved, but there were always those dreamers of gold just thinking they could pick up lumps like fresh potatoes; just hoe them up, reach down, pick them up and you’d be rich.  Fools!  
     Charlie Gold had returned from the diner, and was sitting at the desk going over some new wanted posters.  Looking up as I entered, he greeted me.  “Howdy, Miles.”
     I pointed back out the door.  “They need to get a marshal.  There’s a bunch of loafers out there an’ mixed in with them are some scum waitin’ for their chance.”
     “I’m doing what I can, Miles,” he replied in defense with a tone of being hurt.
     “Oh, I’m not onto you, Charlie.  Those city-fathers need to get movin’ an’ appoint a marshal.”
     I knew Charlie was busy with his duties as sheriff.  He was very diligent in traveling through the county.  There were twenty-five counties in Colorado; why, until just recently Durango went by the name of Animas City.  In a month he would visit all the major settlements and mining camps, visiting Silverton a couple of times.  The county was large and he didn’t have a deputy or the funds to hire one.  No, I wasn’t going to blame Charlie Gold.
     “When I’m in town, I try to make sure I do the rounds of a marshal,” then he paused and smiled.  “Want some coffee?”
     He didn’t wait for an answer, but got up and went to the pot sitting on top of the stove.  Bringing me a cup, he continued to talk.  “The council is afraid to act since Billington died.  But what can I do for you?  I know you didn’t come to hear my woes.”
     “I’d like a few words with Denton.”
     “Let’s go see young Billy.”
     There were three cells in the jail.  One against the back wall and two that were across from each other.  It was stuffy with a stale odor left over from unwashed bodies that spent the night.  There also lingered the aroma of booze from the drunks who would sleep it off in one of the cells.
     “Denton!  I brought you a visitor.”
     Billy was laying on the cot.  He turned, saw it was me, and rolled toward the wall.
     “Not very sociable is he,” remarked Charlie making a statement, not a question.
     “Billy, do you know your cousin Lillian is in town?” I asked.
     With that, he rolled over and sat up.  “Lillian, here?”
     “Billy, who were the men that grabbed your uncle?”
     His eyes widened, then a scowl appeared on his face.  “What men?” he answered with agitation.
     “We know that Billington had taken money from the bank and you were traveling with him.  What was going on?” asked Charlie.
     He sat there, putting his face in his hands.  “Are those men with your cousin?”  I asked.
     “Men!” he said acting startled.  Groaning, he faced the wall, curling up on the cot.  Charlie looked at me and shrugged.
     Back out in the main office I told Charlie about what I saw and suspected when I walked Lillian to Billington’s house.  I also told him of my little encounter with the barrel of a gun.
     “I don’t know exactly what’s goin’ on, but you stay alert, Charlie.  Oh, an’ I expect you’ll be seein’ Lillian soon…she thinks Billy is still the marshal.”
     I wandered around town a bit then went back to see Molly.  Taking my normal seat, Marta came over and poured a cup of coffee for me.
     Sipping on the coffee, I pondered, rolling the thoughts around in my head.  Molly came over and sat down for a few minutes and we discussed the situation together.  It had been a couple of hours since I left the jail.
     I had taken a sip and was pulling on my moustache.  This time I was not a bit surprised at who burst through the front door.  It was…