The Saga of Miles Forrest

Martin Olson was duly convicted by his peers and was sentenced to ten years at the penitentiary in Canon City.  It was deemed best that a deputy from the prison would come and pick up the prisoner.  I made sure that I didn’t even be one of Olson’s escorts to the train depot; this was done by Sheriff Gold and the prison guard.
      I really held no animosity toward Olson.  He was an arrogant, bombastic person who was interested in money and lording himself over others.  After the trial, Judge Klaser had Foster and Newsome come to his chambers to swear me in as city marshal.  He had a contract written up stating my various duties and that I would serve until the first of January after the election of mayor and the city council.
      While Olson was being given his farewell I rode Star down to Mexican town to the home of Mateo Ramirez.  Mateo was a well-known figure in that barrio.  In an unofficial capacity he made sure that things were kept clean and stopped any major conflict between the inhabitants.  He was about my height, a wiry body that reminded me of a gristle for he was tough and knew how to work.  He had dark hair which complimented his ethnicity with a thick moustache that had no curl to it.  His eyes were deep set, deep brown, and seemed to sparkle when he smiled.  I wanted him for my deputy.
      Riding Star up to his humble adobe, his wife, Luciana, was out from sweeping off the small wooden landing in front.  I didn’t dismount, but tipped my hat, “Buenos dias, senora,” I called in my limited Spanish.  “Is Mateo at home?”
      “Si, Marshal Forrest, get down.  I will go get him.”
      While she went in her home, I dismounted standing there holding the reins.  Mateo appeared with Luciana behind him.  “Marshal!” he exclaimed, his eyes showing that sparkle.  “What brings you to our humble home?”
      “I have a proposition for you,” I responded. 
      Before I could answer, Luciana spoke up.  “Come in, you can talk over some fresh chili and tortillas.”
      “Well, I don’t want…” I glanced at Mateo and he gave me a look that I should accept.  “I would be delighted.”
      She gave me a smile that lit up her face.  “It would bring honor to our home.  The Marshal has never stopped here before.”
      I followed her in with Mateo right behind me.  She took me to a small, yet sturdy table.  “You men sit,” she commanded, “I will go get your food.”
      Within minutes she brought back bowls for myself and Mateo then returned with one for herself along with a pile of tortillas.  When she was seated she looked at Mateo nodding.
      “Senor, Marshal, will you bless our sharing?” he asked.
      I said a short, but hopefully meaningful prayer asking the Lord to bless the Ramirez family and the hands that prepared the food.  I almost forgot to have the Lord bless the food.  When I finished, Mateo said, “Amen,” and Luciana gave that big smile of hers again.
      “The boys will be sorry they missed you.  They are attending school,” she informed me.  They had two young boys, Alejo and Enrique.  I knew them some as they were often with Lucas.
      They both watched, waiting for me to take the first bite.  Lifting my spoon I dipped it into the chili that had been thickened with refried beans.  I figured it would be well-spiced and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was quite savory, and I figured it would have goat meat, but I was delighted to taste the elk.  After I smiled and nodded at them they began to eat.
      After the first few bites, Mateo spoke, “What is it that you would venture down to see me, Marshal?”
      I swallowed a bite of tortilla before replying.  “I have a proposition for you.  I’d like for you to be my deputy.”
I gave a shortened version of what had happened and that I was authorized to choose a deputy.
      Mateo kept eating, seemingly in thought.  Luciana stopped to look at me, then her husband.  I could tell she wanted to speak, but she held her peace waiting for him.
      Wiping his moustache with his fingers, he stated.  “I am very honored.  But I have one question before I give an answer.  What will the Anglos think?”
      “I was authorized to find the best man for the job.  My first thought went to you.  I really don’t care what they will think,” I paused then continued, “they will know that I back you.”
      He leaned back in his chair, pulling at both ends of his moustache.  I waited, and waited some more.  He looked at Luciana as if trying to read her mind.
      “When would I start?” he asked.
      “Whenever you’re ready.  The sooner the better.”
      “I will take the job,” he stated.  “Luciana, get the Marshal another bowl of chili.”
      “The pay will be $40 a month,” I informed him.
      Luciana had just picked up my bowl and I thought she was going to drop it with that news.  She looked surprised, then embarrassed then hurried off to the kitchen.  I really didn’t want another helping but I also didn’t want to refuse her.
      Mateo grinned widely, his eyes sparkling.  “That will keep us in plenty of frijoles.”
      “Don’t smile too big; you’ll earn every penny,” I stated.
      Luciana came back placing to bowl in front of me.  “He will wear a badge like yours?” she inquired reaching over to touch mine.
      “Not quite exactly like this one,” referring to my Deputy U.S. Marshal’s badge, “but one similar.”
      “I will start tomorrow,” he stated.
      “Meet at the diner at 7:00 in the mornin’,” I responded.  “Senora, muchas gracias.  It was delicious.”