The Saga of Miles Forrest

The explosion brought everybody out and running for the jail.  I glanced to my right and saw Merker step out of the tobacco shop, and while standing on the first step, light up a newly purchased cigar.  I slowed down briefly to look at him and Marta almost knocked me down.
    “Miles!  Hurry, we have to help Charlie!” she screamed.
    Turning my attention back to the jail and seeing the smoke billowing upward I hastened my step.  Just as I was getting to the corner Charlie came running from the side street.
    “Stay back, stay back!” he was yelling.  “Miles, you have to help me keep everyone away.  I moved Douster from the jail a while ago.  No one was in the jail, but I don’t want folk to know that.  I think he’ll talk now.  We just have to keep everyone away.”
    Charlie and I began to move people back from the jail.  Telling them that we needed to sort through the rubble, that there was a man in the jail at the time.  Marta found Charlie and was hugging him.  He had to push her away, and I could see she didn’t like that.  We had to make this look real.  I noticed him whispering something to her.
    “Molly,” I yelled through the noise of the crowd.  “As soon as you see Doc Jones send him to us.”
    Shouldn’t we seeing if that man is dead?” asked Wilson Foster as he came upon the scene.  
    “We’ve already found the body,” replied Charlie.  “Too gruesome, that’s why we’re waiting for Doc and Parker.
    “I’ll help,” he insisted.
    Grabbing him by the arm, I said as sincerely as possible, “Mister Foster, you really don’t want to look at the body.”  I got along with Foster alright, but he could be easily swayed.
    “What in the world happened here?” questioned Doc as he arrived on the scene.
    “I think that clear to see, Doc, there’s been an explosion,” replied Charlie.
    “Well, I can see that.  Was anyone in the jail?”
    “One prisoner, we’re waiting for Parker, the undertaker now.”
    It was hard to spot Paul Parker, as he was a small man.  He went about whatever he did in a very methodic manner, never hurrying, nor was he ever to be hurried.  He also made furniture, some of the finest I’ve seen out of Denver, but don’t rush him.  I wasn’t sure about how he would react to Charlie’s ruse over the body.  I reckoned he would go along with it, but didn’t know if he could keep him mouth shut, but then again he might be good at it, for I’ve hardly ever heard him say more than “hmmm.”
    The commotion was beginning to calm down.  Charlie had Foster, Newsome, and a couple of miners that always eat at the diner help keep people back away from the rubble.  Parker had sent for his litter while Molly and Marta went around assuring everyone that things were okay and to stay out of the way.  They were inviting people down to the diner for free coffee.
    As we waited for the litter Doc and Parker worked on a bundle that could, if a person would use their imagination, be a man.  We stuck an old boot on a broom stick, then tossed the other boot on top of the bundle to give the impression that it was completely blown off his foot, or maybe the foot was still in the boot.
    Undertaker Parker went out to get the litter and we put the form on it and covered it with a blanket.  Now to make sure we looked as if we were carrying something heavy over to his office.  People were still there and some wanted to help.  I grabbed one end and Doc the other as Charlie thanked those around and kept them from coming too close.  Sometimes a man’s curiosity can be a dangerous thing.
    I hadn’t had the time to ask Charlie where he had stashed Douster, but we were both fairly certain that he would give evidence as to who hung Curt in his cell.
    We had just made it to the morturary, simple as it was, a reinforced dugout on the hillside behind Parker’s furniture store.  I don’t know if it was first the start of a mine, but Parker had conformed it into an undertaker’s work room.  I glanced behind me just before going in to see if anyone was following us and saw Molly scurrying my way.
    I helped take the body on in, came out and met Molly.  “Miles, hurry, come with me.”
    We moved off back toward the diner.  I saw people milling around outside, not wanting to go in.  Marta and Anihu were inside as they had promised coffee to anyone.  Molly and I moved through the crowd.
    People were asking, “Is it safe?” and murmuring amongst each other.
    Walking inside, Molly stopped and pointed to writing on the wall, “Will you be next?”