The Saga of Miles Forrest

You don’t look any worse for the wear, Langston,” I said when he finally came up to us.  “You know Mateo, he’s now deputy sheriff.”
    He grunted a laugh, “Yeah, and a how-do-you-do to you too, Forrest.”  He nodded at Mateo, “Coming up in the world.  What happened to the deputy marshal job?”
    Langston didn’t offer his hand to either of us, but we took it in stride.  His kind wasn’t a hand-shaking sort as he wanted to protect his fingers.
    “The new marshal and I didn’t get along,” came Mateo’s response causing Langston to raise an eyebrow.  
    “Who is this new marshal?” he inquired.  “Forrest, why don’t you buy us supper and I’ll listen to your story,” suggested Langston opening the door to the restaurant.
    I nodded my head at Mateo and went inside though we were a little early for the Parson.  “We were waiting for Parson Chapman, but it won’t hurt to start with some coffee.”
    We moseyed over to a table and after the waitress brought each of us coffee, Langston spoke, “The preacher-man will be along.  Though I have my thoughts about him as I saw him go into the Empty Diggings Saloon,” he paused.  “He’s not one of those who tear into saloons preaching from atop the bar?”
    I laughed, even Mateo smiled, “Nah, he’s tryin’ to get Frank Black, the owner straightened out.  He met him on a trip a few weeks back,” I informed him.
    “Saw you’re limping, how’s the leg, Deputy?” asked Langston with anger flashing through his eyes.
    “I’m making it, thank you for your concern.  I can at least walk without crutches now,” replied Mateo.  Mateo had been shot along with Conrad Keim who worked for Langston’s employer, Cecil Thompson.
    The waitress made her way back and gave each of us a refill.  I saw the anger on Langston’s face.  “Conrad is doin’ fine.  He’s up and ridin’, but not wranglin’ any broncs yet.  I take it you didn’t find Shaw?”
    Kyle Langston looked over the rim of his cup then after taking a deep swallow he answered.  “Forrest, he’s here, at least in the vicinity.  I thought that Doc Webb might tell me, but it was hard to find him sober,” he uttered, then finished his coffee.  “That’s right, you were here when the doctor killed himself.”  He wiped his unshaved face, “Of course you do know it wasn’t suicide.”
    I waved at the waitress to bring another refill, then continued the conversation regarding Doc Webb.  “I couldn’t stay around to investigate.  I thought that Marshal Stokes would do a thorough investigation.”
    Langston nodded and smiled at the waitress as she filled his cup.  “I thought you knew,” he muttered.
    “Knew what?”
    “Week or so after Webb’s suicide, some gunny shot the marshal from an alleyway.  Dewey is now marshal, and” he stopped to take a swallow, “he’s not worth much.  He’ll let the town run wild, or if he’ll run from trouble.  If he would happen to face it, well, let me say, he doesn’t have the gumption.”
    I glanced over at Mateo.  “Looks like either you or Charlie will be spending some time up here.
    Langston finished his cup.  I think he drinks more coffee than me. “Now, tell me about the new marshal in Durango,” he ordered.
    “Name’s Mike Queens, the…”
    “Queens!” exclaimed Langston.  “Why would they choose a hardcase like him?  He’s handy with a gun,” he said, then wiped his mouth.  
    “You know him?” asked Mateo.
    “Saw him shoot down a couple of miners in Leadville once.  Nice and legal it was; ha, those jaspers didn’t stand a chance.  Heard he had some trouble in Denver until Masterson ran him out of his place, sorta shamed him and he lit out of Denver sudden like.”
    That reminded me that as soon as I returned to Durango to check at the telegraph office.  In fact, I had a thought to send the same messages out of the office here just in case Offut was playing games with me.
    While I was thinking of those telegrams, Rev. Chapman came in the door.  “Gentlemen,” he said nodding at us, “I hope you don’t mind me bringing along a guest…”