The Saga of Miles Forrest

We were sitting at the diner, enjoying coffee and pie.  Judge Klaser had fined each of the cowboys, Bill Farmer and Dakota Norris by name, twenty dollars for fighting and disorderly conduct.  Their boss, Cecil Thompson, was fined fifty dollars for inciting the fight and resisting arrest.  The Judge also gave them a stern warning that this will not be tolerated in Durango.
     Mateo was just picking at his pie.  “I will tell Luciana that you toy with your food,” warned Marta. 
     The diner was empty, it being around 10:30, however, the lunch group would start coming in shortly.  Marta had been sitting with us, along with her husband Sheriff Gold, Molly, and Doc.  She got up to go to the kitchen.  Her aunt, Emelda our regular cook, was not feeling well so Marta was doing the main cooking duties today.  When the rush started Edith Jones would be coming to help wait the tables.
     “So what’s wrong, Mateo?” I asked.
     “I worry that I did not handle the situation so well,” he replied softly.
     That sort of stunned me.  I thought he took care of those two cowboys quite well.  “How’s that?  I thought you handled yourself admirably.”
     “Admirably?  What does that mean?” Mateo inquired.
     “With honor,” piped in Doc Jones.  “It means you did a good job.”
     “But,” he began to reply looking first at Doc then over at Charlie and me.  “But I let them fool me.  I was fortunate.”
     I pulled on the left side of my moustache then wiped my hand down over my mouth and chin.  “Yes, you were fortunate.  But, Mateo, no matter how alert we are we can’t see everythin’.  You had no idea that you were goin’ to be pushed.”
     “You think we’ll have any more problems with them?” he asked.
     “New rancher in the area.  He might just be feelin’ out how we handle things in Durango, or he might have some personal issues.  Either way, he knows we’ll not put up with any shenanigans.”
     “Shenanigan, what does that mean?” inquired Mateo.  “You use strange words.”
     Again Doc to the rescue, “It means misbehavior, deception to do harm.”
     “Well, we’ll see if he wants to continue the argument.  Look who just came through the doorway,” said Charlie nodding in the direction of the entrance.
     In walked Cecil Thompson, the two cowboys, and a fourth man that I hadn’t seen before.  He was dressed similar to the cowboys, but that’s where it ended.  He wasn’t the normal working cowhand, and his gun was holstered low on his hips.  “Gunman?” I wondered.  But I hadn’t heard of any big outfits buying up land, nor of any men with their names on wanted posters in the area.
     The two cowboys went on to sit at a table while Thompson and the other man stood for a moment looking toward our table.  Thompson went on to join his hands while the stare from the stranger lingered on for a few more seconds. 
     When the man joined the others, Molly rose to go get their order.  The cowboys smiled at her, they were just doing what their boss told them, but there was a stare from Thompson and a lewd look from the stranger that brought a tinge of concern to my mind.
     “Do you think it is trouble?” asked Mateo.
     “No, not here,” they’ve come in to eat.  The city wouldn’t feed them breakfast since the hearing was early.  I found myself pulling on my moustache again while contemplating.  “I would like to know who that stranger is.”
     “I’ll find out,” proclaimed Charlie who proceeded to get up.  As he approached their table he reached for a chair and sat down between the stranger and Thompson.
     I was just able to make out the introduction.  “Howdy, I’m Sheriff Gold,” he said reaching out his hand to Thompson.  “Always like to meet new residents in the county.  I heard you have a ranch over toward Hesperus; that’s in my jurisdiction.”
     Thompson hesitated, then shook Charlie’s hand.  “Been here near two months.  I needed to get rid of a few cows, but found the stock manager trying to fill his own pockets with the prices he was charging.”
     “That so?” questioned Charlie.  “Why I’ve always known Pete Simmons to be an honest man.  I’m sure he’s not charging more than what are reasonable rates.  This is a mining region you know.”
     Then he turned his attention to the stranger.  “And you, do you work for Mr. Thompson?”  The man didn’t reply.  “Do you have a name?” asked Charlie.