The Saga of Miles Forrest

After barging out the door I saw a body laying out in the street at the intersection.  There were a couple of men standing over it, and others were beginning to congregate.  I rushed down, wanting to get there before too many people showed up interfering with evidence there might be.
    I slowed down just before I reached the body and saw that the two men stooped down were the two that just left Foster’s store.  Quickly I pulled my pistol.  “All right, gents, slow and easy stand and keep your hands away from your guns.”
    They glanced at me in surprise, but they complied.  One of them, the one who wanted the cigars stated, “This wasn’t our doing!”
    Walking up to him, I put the barrel of my pistol just below his ear.  “Easy now, hand me your pistol.”
    He was trembling as he slowly reached and then handed me his gun.  I stepped back a couple of paces then checked the pistol over.  It hadn’t been fired.  Thrusting it in my waistband, I went to the man called “Red.”  He glared at me as if daring me to take his gun from him.
    “We can do this the easy way or I can lay you out in the street,” I warned him.  “Easy, does it.”
    Still glaring he complied.  His gun hadn’t been fired yet.  I still did not trust him, so I emptied the bullets out of his gun and handed it back, then did the same with the other gun.
    I looked at the first man.  “Did you see what happened?”
    Shaking his head, he answered.  “No, we had just turned down the street toward the seegar shop when we heard the shots.  When we turned this man was lyin’ in the street.”
    The crowd gathered closer.  Dead bodies might repulse people, but most often their curiosity takes over and they at least want a peek at the blood and gore.
    Foster and Darnelle, by that time, had walked up.  Darnelle whispered, “That looks like Mr. Winfield,” then grabbed hold of her uncle.  “She looked at me, “Why would anyone want to kill him?”
    I started to answer, when Red, asked, “Can we go now?”
    Nodding, they left and I turned back to Darnelle.  “Do you know his first name and anything else about him?”
    By this time, she had gained control of herself and released Wilson.  “I think it was Bert,” she paused lifting a hand to her mouth.  “He came in perhaps once a month.  He had a small ranch to the south, just over the ridge.”
    “Wilson, do you recognize him?” I questioned.
    “I don’t know him by name; Darnelle deals with most of the customers, but I do remember seeing him in the store.”
    Looking around, my eyes sought out two men.  “You two, carry him on down to Parkers.”  They grabbed him by the shoulders to drag him off.  “Don’t you be going through his pockets!  Tell Parker I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
    “Why, Miles?” Darnelle spoke again.  “Why would God allow this to happen?  I know he has a wife and some children.”
    Turning toward her, I took her by the arm to lead her from the scene.  “I don’t rightly know,” I replied.  “This is not of His doin’, but man has chosen to run with the devil and things like this are the results of that choice.  Why God allowed this to happen to Mr. Winfield, I don’t have an answer, but bad things happen to God-fearin’, good people.”
    I handed her over to Wilson and they started back to the store.  Since the body had been drug off the crowd was moving away going about whatever business they had before the shooting.  I started toward Parker’s place when stumbling across the street staggered Skinny Green.
    “Marshal Forrest,” he slurred.  “I saw it happen.”
    “Skinny, it’s still early and you’re already drunk!”
    He belched and gave a small smile.  “But I did see it.  A man from up the street shot him, then got on his horse and tore off to the north.”  He stumbled and fell against me.  “Honest, Marshal.”
    The word of a drunk, but he might have seen something.  Hurrying off I went to Star who I had saddled and had outside the diner.  Molly was standing outside the doorway.  I waved at her, “I’ll be back.”
    It was impossible to find a set of tracks as this road was well-traveled with horses and wagons.  I rode hard for close to thirty minutes.  I was hoping I might have caught up with the man, if there was one.  Slowing  Star to a trot, I looked at the hills to my left, when I heard a shot.  I was falling off…