The Saga of Miles Forrest

Where do all these people come from?”, questioned Charlie Gold as she lugged a bucket full of cups back to the kitchen.  Molly’s Thanksgiving dinner had turned into quite the occasion.  It was originally for the miners who were laid off from the big mines during the winter months, but had grown into doings for the entire town.
    Sheriff Gold has been relegated to carrying clean dishes back to the kitchen; he was joined by the new preacher in town, the reverend Chapman.  I asked him to come as a guest, but he ended up clearing the tables and going outside to pick up dishes as we didn’t have room enough to seat everyone.  It had fallen my task to be the lowly dishwasher.
    I was glad to see that Mateo and his family came.  He wasn’t quite up to walking around much so he was sitting with a pair of old boots at the doorway.  They were for donations.  Some paid, some did not, but Mateo was there to make sure that none of the sots had sticky fingers.  Molly and Marta were busy along with Emelda and Edith Jones.  I was happy to see that Mrs. Blackstone and Betty Chapman had volunteered.  She had the job of dishing out the stew or chili.  
    Molly meandered through the tables making her way to me.  “Miles, what are we going to do next year?”
    “Give them broth,” I replied along with my biggest grin.
    “Oh, you’re terrible!” she exclaimed.  “But isn’t it wonderful.”
    Nodding at her, I inquired, “How many pies did you and Emelda make?”
    “Thirty-six, and we cut them into slivers to dish out,” came her reply, then added, “I don’t know how many gallons of stew and chili we ladled out.”
    “Good thing ol’ Grizz came by with that bear and elk.  Yuh know, I think that’s my first taste of bear chili.”
    Molly noticed when my smile dropped and my face became somber.  “What’s wrong?”
    “The newly elected, or should I say re-elected councilman and leader of the humbug committee is approaching,” I stated, then did my best to reapply my smile.  “Did you get plenty to eat Wilson?”
    “I didn’t come to eat,” he gruffly replied.
    “Oh, that’s a shame, Mr. Foster, surely you want a piece of pie.  I think there’s some chocolate left,” said Molly turning on the charm.
    He brusquely turned from her, “Who’s making sure the town is safe?  Why ruffians could rob us blind!”
    “This is all the dishes I could find outside,” interrupted Rev. Chapman.  “Oh, hello Mr. Foster.”
    Foster turned beet red.  One of these days, he’s going to explode.  “Good job, Parson.  Why don’t you join your wife.  Grab a piece of pie before it’s  all gone.”
    He nodded at Foster when he turned to leave.  “Have a good day, Mr. Foster.”
    “As I was saying before being rudely interrupted by that new minister, who is protecting our town?”
    Flinging a dishcloth over my shoulder, I dropped my rag with a plop in the basin; some of the water splashed up on Foster.  That didn’t make him happy, but I did smile.  “Well, Wilson, it is Thanksgiving, and if I’m not mistaken, every store in town is closed.  The saloons agreed not to open until this evening, so I reckon most everything is safe.  Probably safer than if you were in your store.”
    “‘Cuse me, oh, I didn’t notice it was you, Mr. Foster,” uttered Charlie then looked at me.  “Finished with this bunch?”
    “Take them, Charlie.  All I have left at the moment are those the Parson brought.”  I then turned my attention to Wilson Foster who again had turned red with the new interruption.  I glared at him, “Wilson, why don’t you go home to the missus and Darnelle.”  It wasn’t a question, but a strong suggestion.  “It is Thanksgiving.  Gather them together and count your blessin’s.”
    “Bah!  How you became a marshal I’ll never know,” he steamed.
    I gave a big smile, “If I remember right, the first time it was because of your suggestion.  Oh, don’t be frettin’ so much.  I’ll be out of your hair come the first of the year.  Then we’ll see who protects Wilson’s Mercantile when Sheriff Gold is out of town.”
    “I’ll not be talked to that way!” he yelled.
    Coming from around the washtub, I poked my finger in his face.  “You’re not worth a thump,” I said with disgust.  “Get out, I’ll not have you spoilin’ this get-together.”
    He started to huff, “Don’t, just git!” I ordered.
    A couple of hours later, the doors were shut, the place was cleaned.  The group of us: Doc and Edith, Charlie and Marta, Mateo and Luciana, Parson Chapman and his wife, even Emelda was there.  We were a tired, but satisfied group.  A thankful bunch.  We were drinking coffee…but there was no pie.