The Saga of Miles Forrest

Come by the Tivoli in the morning, before it opens for business,” suggested Masterson.  “I think Soapy would like to talk with you.”
    I saw him looking up the street and he added, “You might want to cross the street and move along.  I think the new police chief will be looking for you.”
    There, moving briskly up the street toward the Tivoli was a uniformed man, seeming as if he was on a mission.  I took Bat’s advice and moved away.  I didn’t need to waste my time with this man.
    Instead of walking around town, seeing the changes that had come, I decided to go back to the Albany and eat there.  I knew that Merker was still around.  After eating I went up to my room.  Sitting on the bed I pulled off my boots then cleaned and reloaded my pistol.  Laying down I was trying to remember the name of the person that was with Merker when I first met him.  It finally came to me…Myers.  If I saw Gilford in the morning I would pass that along to him.  I didn’t know if Merker and Myers were still working together or not.
    I ate breakfast the next morning in the Albany.  One thing for sure, it may be a fancy hotel, with all of the curtains, fancy dishes, and silverware, but the food couldn’t compare to Anihu’s and Molly’s.  Then, on top of that the prices were triple.  Yep, that’s progress in the big city for you.
    Around 9:00 I ambled on down to the Tivoli.  The door was open and as I walked in I saw three swampers cleaning up the place.  Bat was sitting at a table and motioned me over to him.  “Let me take you in to see Mr. Smith,” he said then smiled.  “I would think he’s up by now.”
    We went to an upstairs office and Bat knocked on the door.  A smallish, bearded man opened the door.  “Come in Bat, come in,” he chirped.  “Ah, this is the man you told me about, Miles Forrest is it?  Come in, and sit down.”
    Bat took up introductions.  “Miles this is Soapy Smith, owner of the Tivoli and Eagle Bar,” he smiled and continued.  “Businessman extraordinaire.”
    I continued to stand there until Masterson took a chair.  Smith went behind a large desk so I sat on a chair next to Masterson.
    “I’ll come right to the point, Forrest.  I’m looking for men to help me in my enterprise.  I am wanting to own a few more saloons and billiard halls.  I’m also looking at venturing up to Creede, where there are sounds of gold and silver being found.  What I need is good men to protect my interests, and I’m offering you a position with me.”
    Looking at Bat, I found his face very passive.  Smith was energetic, but I sensed something was wrong.  “Legitimate enterprise?” I queried.
    Smith smiled, “Ah, so you heard how I gained my nickname.  Well, all I have to tell you is don’t believe everything you’ve heard or read in the newspapers.  You won’t be involved in the business, just in protecting the payroll.  If you walk through Denver visit the orphanage or the Presbyterian church.  They’ll tell you of how I’ve helped the city.  Wintertime, can be rough, I make sure that no one is out in the cold or starving.”
    The thought hit me.  “Mister Smith, do you know someone named Merker?  He’s the one who sent those men who shot at me.”
    I saw his jaw jerk a little and a glint flicker through his eyes.  “I know Merker,” he said with exasperation.  “He is out for himself.  He hasn’t bothered me yet, but I try to know when he’s in town.”
    “Would you know where he is?” I prodded.
    “Not right now, but I do know he is leaving.  Purchased a train ticket,” he said stroking his beard.  “I do have a little problem with some young hoodlums trying to barge in on my business–the Blonger brothers.  They think they’re up-an’-comers.”  He paused for a minute.  “Listen, Forrest, you go to work for me and I can help you with Merker.”
    I stood up.  “Mister Smith, I have to get back to Durango!  I’ll think over your proposition.”  Looking at Masterson, who had also stood.  “Bat, good to meet you.  Thanks for your help last night.”
    Hurrying back to the Albany to get my gear, and then to the livery for Star, then I headed to the station.  There was a train pulling out in thirty minutes.  I had time to get my ticket and Star boarded.  My thoughts were bothering me, “was Merker heading back to Durango?”
    A couple of hours after changing trains in La Junta, I lowered my head to catch a few winks.  I felt him approach.  Not lifting my head I said,  “I’m not sleepin’…”