The Saga of Miles Forrest

I don’t like it when Charlie has to go up to Telluride, especially at this time of year,” muttered Marta.
    It was a slow time of morning.  The rush was over at the diner with only two customers now sitting, nursing their coffee over at a corner table.
    “Marta, have you, uh, and Charlie ever thought of him resigning and becoming town marshal?” asked Molly.  Both of the ladies were sitting with me.  This was a rare occasion.  Emelda said she wasn’t able as she had to be getting food ready for the lunch crowd.  “Miles only agreed to serve as town marshal until the end of the year.”
    Marta took a sip of coffee, made an ugly face looking at me.  “I don’t think he’s thought of it; I know I haven’t.”  She dropped her gaze to her cup, then looked up again.  “But Miles, what if they still want him?”
    I pulled on my moustache a couple of times.  I had really not given much thought as to what I’d do for regular work after the first of the year.  I doubt if Foster would want me to continue in the capacity as town marshal.  It was nice not having to travel much, and I hadn’t been contacted in several months for a job in my position as Deputy U.S. Marshal.  As far as travel, that job was worse than county sheriff.  Truth is, I was becoming more of a homebody.
    “Listen, Marta, if Charlie wants that job, and the city councilmen will hire him, have him go for it.  It won’t phase me,” I assured her.
    Getting up I went grabbed the coffeepot on the little stove behind me motioning toward her.  Marta quickly covered her cup with her hand, which brought a giggle from Molly.  “Well, here’s the Parson,” I said watching him enter the diner, “he’ll have a cup with me.”
    He took off his hat as he approached the table.  “Ladies…Miles,” he greeted us with a smile.
    Molly, got up as I put the cup on the table for the preacher.  “It’s time for Marta and me to get back to work,” she explained.  “Reverend.”
    The parson and I watched as they got up and left the table.  “I didn’t mean to run them off, Miles.”  He sat down, then took a sip of coffee.  I got a grimace, but not like the one from Marta.  I pulled at my moustache again, thinking that perhaps I should clean the pot.
    Reverend Chapman had stepped right into the vacancy left by Rev. Robinson.  His wife, Betty, was not quite the social person that Lucy, the wife of Rev. Robinson was.  One thing for sure, the new Parson Chapman was around the town, checking on folks and he didn’t shy away from the Mexican section of town either.
    “Coffee’s a little stout this morning, Miles.  What did you do different?” he inquired after taking a long swallow.  He looked toward the large window in front of the diner.  “Starting to snow again,” he said taking another sip.
    There was already a little over a half foot of snow on the ground.  But again this is December at the base of the San Juans.  “I went out to see Mr. Keim yesterday,” he told me.
    Looking over the rim of my cup, I raised my eyebrows waiting for him to continue.  When he didn’t, I asked, “And?”
    “He’s moving around some,” he emptied his cup.  Lifting it he asked, “Mind if I fill it?”
    He was up heading for the pot before I could take it from him.  I hated to be a poor host, but then I thought; it couldn’t be that bad if he wanted a refill.
    Taking his seat, he countered with a question of his own.  “Think you’ll ever find Shaw?”
    This time I pulled at the other side of my moustache.  “My thinkin’ is that he’ll show up again.  He might hold up for the winter in Silverton.  It might depend on whether he has any money or not, or” I paused a moment, “if he has found any new friends.”
    I looked at the Parson, “Did Thompson say anything regardin’ Langston?”
    Shaking he head, then jerked as the door burst open, startling him to spilling his coffee.  It was Darnelle.
    “Miles!  You have to come quick, it’s Uncle Wil!” she was frantic.  “Go to the store, I’m going after the doctor!”
    The Parson and I looked at each other for a moment, then I grabbed my coat and shotgun and we both rushed out to Foster’s store.  Upon our arrival a few minutes later there was a few folks standing around with one kneeling by Foster.
    “Check on him,” I ordered, “while I move these people out of the way.”
    I was in the process of moving the little crowd to one side of the store when Doc Jones rushed in with Darnelle.  The man who was by Foster gave way to the doc who requested that he and the preacher help turn Foster on his back.  Doc first undid his collar and removed the tie, then began to exam him.
    Standing by Darnelle, I asked, “What happened?”
    She was frightened, “I don’t really know.  I was with Mrs. Yardley, helping her with some material when I heard a loud clunk, then a thud.”  I looked around to see if she was in the crowd, none of which had left.
    I could see Rev. Chapman praying with his hand on Foster’s shoulder, as Doc went through his preliminary exam.  “He’s breathing,” explained Doc.  “From that knot on his head, I think he must have knocked himself out as he hit the counter when he fell.  I need to get him to my office.”
    “Darnelle,” I said taking her by the arm.  “Why don’t you close up shop, go get Elizabeth and take her to Doc Jones’ office.”
    She nodded, then I turned to help shoo the onlookers out.  Two men had gone over over to help carry Foster to Doc’s office.  As they passed me, I saw Wilson open his eyes briefly, his eyes widened, then…