The Saga of Miles Forrest

Doc said I must have thumped the prisoner mighty hard, or just happened to hit the right place for he was out for two days.  Doc checked him out and said that his skull wasn’t cracked so with the help of a couple of men we struggled through the snow to put him in the jail.  Mateo was working primarily from the office so he said he would care for him until he came to and Charlie was able to question him.
    I was ordered, by Molly, and it was cordially accepted by Mateo that I was to bring him his meals while he was in the office and the snow was heavy on the ground.  Mateo was still using a crutch to get around, though in the office he might hobble from the stove for coffee or to throw some wood in to keep the place warm.
    Charlie’s arm was healing since Doc did that little surgery on it.  Doc told Charlie he was fortunate that he came in when he did.  Another day or so and he most likely would have had to cut the arm off.  But once he had it cleaned good, cut out all the infection, and actually pulled out a small piece of cloth, it began to heal.     
    When the fellow came to, he told us that his name was Sam Smith.  Now, ain’t that a good one.  Sure are a lot of Smiths running around in the West.  I happened to be in the office with Mateo and Charlie when the prisoner, Mr. Sam Smith woke up from the little nap I had induced.
    “Did you shoot Sheriff Gold for no reason?” I asked sternly.
    Smith put his hand to the top of his head where I thumped him, the slowly replied.  “Who said I shot him?”
    “When you saw Sheriff Gold in town you were surprised, and went to Doc’s office to finish the job,” I snapped at him.
    He slowly lifted his head to look at me.  Then he turned his head slightly to see Mateo and Charlie’s face he gave a little smile before answering.  “I’m sorry the Sheriff’s arm took a bullet, but it wasn’t me.  No witnesses to say it was.”
    I was starting to get a little agitated.  “I do have two witnesses that will testify that you went into Doc’s office to shoot Sheriff Gold!”  I paused a moment to pull and twist at my moustache and to let what I said sink into his thick skull.  It must be thick if that Greener I thumped him with didn’t crack it.  “Listen, Smith, that will get you at least twenty years at Canon City.  Since the Sheriff had been shot, I figured that the Judge will not be one bit lenient.”
    Smith was working his tongue around inside his mouth, I reckon that meant he was thinking.  Maybe I rattled his skull enough for him to get some sense.
    “There’s a bounty out on Gold’s head,” he stammered.
    “Bounty!” Charlie exclaimed.  “Who?”
    Smith took a deep sigh.  Now he was the one who was agitated.  I could see that he was nervous so I piped up.  “You’re as safe here as anywhere.  Marshal Ramirez is staying in the jail.”
    “Chalk Willard, owner of the Gilded Cage and a couple of other places, put it out.  He thinks the Sheriff is harassing him.”
    “How much?” I questioned.
    Smith felt his head again.  “I need to lie down, my head’s hurting.”
    “How much?” I questioned again, with more force in my voice.
    “Two hundred dollars,” he said as he lay   back and moaned.
    We all looked at each other as we left the cell area.  Charlie and Mateo each went to a desk; I put on a coat ready to walk out.  “I need some fresh air.”
    The snow had stopped falling but it was still piled up, almost two feet.  The temperature hadn’t reached twenty degrees so it was not melting, however, the store owners had their walks cleared and there was enough traffic on the main streets to pack it down.  
    As I stepped off the boardwalk into the snowy street I looked to see Rev. Chapman coming my direction.  “Howdy, Parson.  Walk with me and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”
    He was all bundled up, a muffler wrapped around his face so I couldn’t see if he smiled or not, but he nodded and we headed on down toward the diner.  We entered and headed straight for the table where I normally sit.  Doc and Edith, his wife, were sitting there along with Molly and Marta.  My chair was vacant so I naturally went to it.
    “I told the preacher here, that I’d buy him a cup of coffee.”  When I said that there was laughter from the four of them.  
    “Miles, when was the last time you bought a cup of coffee in this place?” inquired Doc.
    I took off my heavy sheep-skin coat and fumbled in my pocket finding a quarter and slapping it on the table.  “Right now, and I’ll pay for the rest of you as well.”
    “Miles,” spoke up Edith, “that still leaves you a nickel short.”  That brought the laughter again.
    Friends, it’s always nice to sit around a table with friends.  Too often we forget to thank the Lord for the good friends that we have.  I got cups for the preacher and myself, filled them, then refilled the others.  
    There came a sound from Molly of clearing her throat, then she asked, “Miles, have you told Rev. Chapman about giving Mateo’s pie to Solly Vendor?”  That brought another round of laughter.
    “Solly Vendor?” Rev. Chapman, questioned.  “The owner of the tobacco store?”
    “Don’t worry there none, Preacher.  Miles gave up the chaw several years back,” laughed Doc Jones which again brought the guffaws from the rest of the table.
    I glared at them, “My, such good friends…”
    Then stared at the door when John Newsome walked in.  Now what in the world could he want?  I was soon to find out…