The Saga of Miles Forrest

It was beginning to snow as I entered the restaurant of the Grand Hotel.  Reverend Chapman was already seated, waiting for me.  I hadn’t seen Langston, but then again, we hadn’t made any plans to be with each other.  Langston went his way, I went mine.
    “I just arrived, Marshal,” said the preacher joyfully.  He seemed always to be that way, but reckon that’s the way all Christians should be, but we aren’t.
    The waiter was there before I was seated.  “You gentleman want coffee?”
    We both nodded yes, then I sat down.  “Parson, this supper’s on me.  Anything you want.”
    The menu boasted of beef steak, elk of various cuts, stews, venison, trout.  There was a variety of side dishes as it was early fall and the potatoes and other vegetables hadn’t gone bad yet.  There was a soup that I had once before when I was in Louisiana, French Onion.
    “I’m goin’ to have a porterhouse smothered with onion, fried potatoes, sweet potato, and try some of that soup,” I informed the preacher and the waiter as he was now standing beside me.  
    “Perhaps you would like some oysters?” he suggested.  “They arrived early in the week, came all the way from New Orleans.”
    Shaking my head, I muttered, “I’ll pass.  Parson what’ll you have?”
    Handing the menu to the waiter he responded, “Just give me the same as the Marshal.”
    “We have biscuits, cornbread, or I can bring a loaf of sourdough bread,” he offered.
    “Bread!” piped up the preacher, then he added, “If that’s all right with you.”
    Smiling I replied, “Bread it is,” then pointed to the empty coffee cup, “and keep the cup full, please.”
    After he left I began to tell Rev. Chapman of the situation with Dr. Webb, and then of the ordeal with Frank Black.  I did tell him that Black was indeed, Mrs. Blackstone’s husband.
    “So he’s a derelict?” inquired the Reverend.
    “Most certainly.  Shame a man get himself in that lifestyle.”
    “Marshal, man is bent to go to the devil.  That’s why it is our duty and responsibility to help as much as possible.  The liquor, shame, lack of self-respect, failure, greed, those are all reasons that despair and depression come into a man’s life.”
    I took a sip from a freshly poured cup.  “Not the best,” I uttered, “certainly not like Molly’s.”
    We had a nice time chatting over a good supper.  There was talk of Durango and what he would like to see accomplished there for the Lord.  He mentioned the need of missions work needed in Silverton.  I told him of Molly, how we met, then my job as an officer of the law.  I asked him what happened to his cousin, Clyde Hoffner and was told that he was working on a ranch over closer to Cortez.
    “Parson, I think it best that we leave tomorrow.  This time of year a snow could put us up here a few days.  Usually they can get the tracks clear, but it might be delayed a day or so this time of year.”
    “Oh, yes, I must be back before Sunday.  What do you suggest?” he asked.
    “Let’s plan on leaving on the afternoon train.  I’m goin’ to ask around in the mornin’ for Shaw’s whereabouts.  I don’t expect anyone to come forth, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, and who knows, I might come across him,” I stated.  “I’ll meet you at the station at 2:00.”
    The reverend got up to leave then the waiter brought my bill.  “Two dollars!” I exclaimed loud enough for those at nearby tables to hear me.  I’ll have to tell Molly to raise her prices.  I put two-bits on the table for a tip and I thought I heard a grumbling as I left.
    The next morning I began to check some of the boarding houses in the area.  The air was brisk and snow had accumulated a couple of inches overnight.  As I was riding up on Greene Street I saw the preacher coming out of a clothing store with a package.  I stopped Hawk so I could see where he was going for it looked as if he were on a mission.  He walked right into the Empty Diggings Saloon, so I dismounted out front and walked in.  As I went through the entrance Rev. Chapman was walking up the stairs to Black’s room.  Black opened the door and there was some discussion before the preacher went in and the door closed behind him.
    I went back out to continue my search.  It went just as I expected.  Most had not heard of an Upton Shaw, others, well, if they had they concealed it well.  Just before noon it began to snow harder.  I rode on down to the station to get tickets and for them to go ahead and load Hawk.  I decided to walk to the Wells Fargo office, chat with the boys, then grab a bite to eat before it was time to board the train.
    Just before entering, shot were fired.  That was unusual for this part of town.  I glanced toward the direction of the shots.  They were in the direction of Dr. Webb’s office.  Turning I started in that direction…