The Saga of Miles Forrest

The bullet whizzed by close enough for me to hear it, then instantly behind it I heard the shot.  Making as if the bullet struck me I fell off to my left.  The black-jack oak did more damage to me than the bullet as I fell headlong into it.  The branches scratched at my face and arms, but on the brighter side it softened my fall to the ground.  I only hit with a slight thud.  Quickly I removed my pistol and laid there, waiting.  Star had moved away down toward the river.
    If the man was smart, he would move slowly up on me then when he could spot me, fire again to finish me off.  I was hoping that he might walk right up to me, that would at least give me a chance.  I waited, staying still for several minutes when I finally heard the sound of a horse.  Was it the bushwacker riding away or was it someone else coming up the road?
    Taking a chance I crawled around the brush away from where the shot came from.  Then I slowly moved down toward where Star was feeding on some grass.  I led him on down to the river to drink while I thought over the situation.  I was inclined to continue following my assailant, but a voice inside kept whispering, “Go back to Molly.”  
    I took off my bandana and dipped it in the cold water of the Animas River.  Wiping my face the water slightly burned where the branches had tore at my face, but then the coolness began to soothe them.  Looking at the bandana I noticed a little blood, so I dipped it in the river again, this time holding the cloth tightly against my skin.
    “Molly,” came the thought again.
    Wringing out my bandana I tied it around my neck, then mounted Star.  Slowly I walked Star out of the brush to the road where I gave him a good kick to start him running back toward Durango.  He liked to run and within minutes the town was in sight.  Instead of going on down into town I went to the cabin and put Star in his stall.  After taking the tack off I rubbed him down quickly telling him that I’d send Lucas up to do a better job.
    Instead of going to the front of the diner, I went up the alley to the back door.  Molly just happened to be in the kitchen, her hands dipped in flour as she was making pie crusts.  I startled her slightly by coming in the back, but when she saw my face her floured hand flew to her face.  “What happened to you?”
    I started to laugh, I couldn’t help myself.  When she brought her hands down her face was white with flour, fingers extending up the side of her face.  She gave me a bewildered look, then stared at her hands.  “Ohhh, you,” she muttered reaching for the bottom of her apron to bring it up to wipe her face.  The problem was that the apron was damp and she just smeared the flour on her face.
    She looked at me, and must have thought I was a mirror for she ran over to the sink, found a cloth laying there and began to pump water.  After getting it wet enough she wiped the flour off her face, then turned to face me, hand on her hips.  “Now, would you tell me what happened?”
    “Some branches ran into me,” I replied.
    “Miles, be serious.”
    “I was shot at and fell off my horse, just so happened a shrub oak was in the way,” I told her as I felt one of the scratches.  “I just felt that I should head back to you and the diner.”
    “Well, go on to your table and get a cup of coffee,” she ordered.
    I went to her and put my hands on her shoulders.  “I need to stay in the kitchen, hidden out of the way until this thing plays out.  I’ll just go sit out of your way,” I replied and received a nod from her.  “Molly, don’t let anyone but Marta and Elena know, not even Charlie.  If you see Lucas, tell him to go take care of the horses, but in a way that he don’t know where I’m at.”
    Coffee, it was time for a cup.  I went to the big pot on the stove and poured a cup, then walked to a chair in a little corner where Molly and I had lived for a while.
    I must have fallen asleep for I felt someone shaking me telling me to wake up.  “Senor Miles, wake up.  There is someone out there I think I have seen before.  He looks different, but his eyes are the same,” Marta said quietly.  “He gives me, what you say, the creeps.”
    That made me chuckle a little.  “Let me know if he causes any problems.  Where is Molly?”