The Saga of Miles Forrest

Shaw headed toward a table then angled over to where we were gathered.  He stood beside the chair occupied by Rev. Chapman’s cousin, Clyde Hoffner.  He didn’t so much glance at any of the rest of us.
    “Stand up!” he ordered Clyde.
    Clyde glimpsed at Rev. Chapman, shrugged his shoulders and stood.  Shaw scrutinized him carefully, then asked, “Ever been to Kansas?”
    “Phftt,” muttered Clyde as he sat back down, “you can’t get to Colorado from the east without going through Kansas.  Now, what’s this all about?”
    In a flash Shaw had pulled his gun.  “Get up, you’re coming with me, Keim.”
    “Keim?” uttered Clyde with puzzlement on his face.  “What are you talking about?”
    “Cut out the nonsense, you’re Conrad Keim, and you’ll either get up or I’ll pull you out by your boots,” stated Shaw with a sneer.
    “Easy, easy,” I muttered, then Shaw pointed the gun in my direction.  I glared at him, “You best not point that gun at me.”
    This time he did sneer, “Why not?  You’re hiding a criminal.”
    He was beginning to agitate me.  “This is Clyde Hoffner, the Rev. Chapman’s cousin.  The Reverend is our new pastor.”
    “I don’t have much shuck to do with a preacher,” hissed Shaw.  “Now I won’t tell you again!”
    Reverend Robinson looked up at Shaw, “I don’t understand.  We can all vouch for Clyde.”
    Shaw snarled at him, “Shut up!”  When he did Rev. Chapman reached to clasp Shaw’s arm in a vice grip.  I knew the preacher had a grip when I shook hands with him at the office.  Shaw tried to turn his arm so he could point the gun at the preacher.  It was enough; I had the Greener up and under Shaw’s chin.
    “Now, then…I don’t take kindly to havin’ a gun pointed at me for no reason.  Plus, I don’t take kindly to you questionin’ the Reverend.  I don’t reckon you’re goin’ to apologize, but if I find you’ve shot this man or taken him I’ll hunt you down.  Understand?” I responded, then gave a slight grin.
    There was no response so I prodded upward against the underside of his chin with the shotgun.  “Understand?”
    “I understand,” he spat.
    “Now go sit!” I commanded.  Shaw went over to the table adjacent to us and against the wall.  
    He hadn’t no more sat down when in through the door walked Cecil Thompson, a cowboy I didn’t recognize, and his foreman, Conrad.  “Hmmm,” I murmured quietly.  “Lord, help us now.”
    Glancing at Shaw, I saw that he noticed the man as well.  If I remember the poster right, he fit the description of Conrad Keim much better than Clyde.
    “Don’t!” I ordered then got up from my chair and walked to the table that Thompson had chosen.  “Mind if I sit a minute?”
    After receiving the nod from Mr. Thompson, I sat.  “Mister Thompson, we may have gotten started off on the wrong foot, but I need to talk straight with your foreman.  You have a problem with that?”
    “Go ahead, Conrad will answer what he wants; he’s a growed man,” remarked Thompson.
    Turning my full attention to the foreman I came right out with it.  “Are you Conrad Keim?”
    His right cheek twitched and his blinked his eyes.  “Why do you want to know?”
    When I get an answer like that I know I’m on the right track.  “It don’t mean much to me, but there’s a fellow in town looking for a Conrad Keim who is wanted in Kansas.  I was just askin’ ’cause it’s my job to keep the peace in this town.”
    He scratched the back of his head, then looked at Thompson.  “I’m Keim, but I’m not wanted for anything by the state of Kansas.”
    “Poster I saw says different,” I stated.
    “Are you after me?” he questioned then continued.  “That poster was put out by the Langford family.  It’s not a state poster.”
    “Conrad’s a good man, one of the best I’ve ever employed,” Thompson interceded, “I don’t want to lose him.”
    I sighed, then stood up.  “Thanks,” I said, “Don’t get yourself in trouble by doin’ something rash.”
    As I turned I could see Shaw glaring at me.  I went straight for him…