The Saga of Miles Forrest

Smith, if that’s your name, you can’t win.  If you do happen to kill me, I’ll be up sittin’ on the porch of the mansion the Lord has made for me.  But when you’re lyin’ here in the street, well, you’ve lost everything–life and soul,” I said, staring him in the eyes.
    “Your crazy,” he hissed, moving his hand a little closer to his gun.
    “I hope you’re ready to die, because in the next few seconds one of my bullets is goin’ to burst into your heart, smashin’ it to smithereens,” I said with complete confidence.  “My time hasn’t come, but if you move your hand toward that gun, yours has.”
    Then I saw it, a question flickered through his eyes, they blinked.  Too late for him to think he drew–faster than me.  I took a step to my right, something I had learned as a Texas Ranger,  and drew. I felt the bullet tug on my side.  My gun came out smoothly and I fired, the bullet hitting him in the chest.  His eyes widened.  He tried to get off another shot, but my second bullet hit him high in the shoulder as he was falling.
    His eyes were open and he was looking at me in surprise.  I walked toward him, deliberately putting the gun in my holster letting him know that he was finished.  Standing over him, uttered, “Be a shame to die with no one knowin’ your right name.”
    The lips moved, he was trying to speak.  Finally, I heard him sputter, “I didn’t believe…Utley,” he moaned and the light went out of his eyes.
    I wasn’t aware of what took place when I fired at Smith or Utley, but I saw the other Tom laid out cold in the dirt.  Charlie, when the first shot was fired, swung around and hit Tom Johnson in the face and then again across the head with his gun.
    Molly rushed up and grabbed hold of me, then withdrew her hand.  “You’ve been shot!” she exclaimed looking at the blood on her hand where she had touched my side.
    “Nothing to worry about,” I replied.  It wasn’t the first time, but one never really gets used to someone trying to kill you.  It’s not just the physical pain, but there are strains on the soul.
    She put her head on my shoulder and looked up at me.  “Straight to the doctor with you,” she barked and tugged on my arm.
    “Okay, folks, the excitement’s over.  Go long ’bout your business,” I heard Charlie giving orders to the crowd.  Before I left with Molly I looked again at the man “Smith,” or maybe “Utley,” then over at Charlie.  He had volunteered a couple of men to carry the other Tom down to where the jail was.  “Just lay him on the boardwalk outside,” Charlie instructed them as they picked the man up.
    He looked my way and shrugged.  “I’ll be over to see you after I get this baggage taken care of.”
    Doc Jones was standing outside the diner and when he saw us walking toward his office he went and opened the door.  “Sit him down over there, Molly.  On the table.  Help get his shirt off,” he was giving orders right and left.  “How about the other man?  Are they bringing him over here?”
    “No Doc, he’s a job for Parker,” I replied.
    “Figured,” he muttered.  “All the way, Molly.  Pull that undershirt off as well.”
    I gave out a yelp as some of the blood had dried.  Molly just let out a giggle.
    Doc continued to give orders.  “There’s a pan over there and some water heating on the stove.  Go fetch some.”
    He turned to a table and grabbed a towel.  Molly was back and Doc dabbed the towel in the hot water and began to wipe at the blood.  “My goodness, Miles, there’s not even a hole,” he muttered then looked up at me and wiped his mouth.  “A nice little gouge, but no hole.  That bullet hit your ribs and went right back out the flesh.  Must have been the angle it hit you.  Let me look close and make sure there’s no cloth in there then clean you up.”
    “The Lord,” I asserted.
    “What?” muttered Doc.
    “Not a glancing blow, Doc.  It was the hand of the Lord that deflected it,” I paused gasping a little while he cleaned with some alcohol, probed and cleaned again.  “He was fast.  Fastest I’ve ever seen.”
    I gasped, as he pushed a little.  “Uh huh…think He let you have a cracked rib just to remember this little venture.”
    Molly was wide-eyed as he worked and then she saw me looking at her.  Picking up my shirt she held it out examining it.  “Miles, another ruined shirt,” she said with a heavy sigh.  I knew it was to cover how scared and nervous she was.  
    “Give it to me,” I commanded as Doc had just finished his work and was wrapping a bandage around me.  I began to put the shirt on.
    “Come back tomorrow so I can clean it again.”
    “Doc, tell Edith I’ll need her today,” she informed him then said to me.  “Come on, let’s go up to the cabin and get you a clean shirt.  That is if you have one that doesn’t have a hole in it.”
    We were about halfway there, when I stopped suddenly in the middle of the street and looked around.  “Molly,” I whispered.  “I heard it, a  cackling laughter, faint and echoing off to the distance valley.”
    She just looked at me before…