The Saga of Miles Forrest

I grabbed Hawk’s reins with my free hand and pulled him with me as close to the mountain wall as possible. My shoulder didn’t throb, but I couldn’t take the time to look at it right now. My eyes were roaming the hillside and ridge across from me. I have found that when shot at, it is best to be still, look hard, and be patient. Too much movement and you can easily be seen. Move too hastily and the next bullet may find its target.
Finally, I moved my hand upward to my shoulder. There was blood, but it was not coming from my chest. Slowly I moved my head and saw that the top of my coat had a tear. The bullet went through my coat and just creased the top of my shoulder. Close, but I’ll take close in a situation like that.
I decided to move easily south along the wall. Perhaps the shooter had left as this trail was traveled often. If he waited around too long, there could be other travelers along. I moved down to my knees, then laid down as I approached the edge of the wall. There was little to no chance of me seeing any reflection as it was darkening and snow was now beginning to fall.
It was maybe thirty minutes or a little longer that I heard a wagon coming up the trail. As they approached, I let them get to the corner and then helloed them. Sitting on top of the wagon were a couple of miners taking supplies up the trail. Their wagon looked was full.
“Howdy, mister,” came one of the riders who was holding a rifle.
Both of them surveyed the situation. They saw me standing, holding a rifle, blood on my shoulder, and my horse a few yards up the trail. “Have some trouble?” he asked.
“A mite,” I replied. “Seems like a piece of lead nicked me, and figured I’d just sit down on the trail for a spell.”
The snow was falling harder now; looking around the man spoke. “Want me to take a looksee at yur shoulder? Ifn not, we need to be gettin’ on up the trail before the storm hits. Ifn yur goin’ down, I’d start movin’.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” I replied, going over to pick up the reins.
Putting the Henry back in the scabbard, I mounted. The driver moved up the road toward me and stopped. “Yuh look familiar.”
“I’ve been ’round. Used to work for Wells Fargo. Traveled many a time up to Silverton.”
“Yeah, that’s it. Yur one of the men that cheatin’ judge put out the wanted posters on. I remember you.”
“That’s me. You didn’t happen to see anyone comin’ up?” I asked.
“Nope, but ifn he’s smart, he’s pulled leather.” He looked up at the sky. “We’ve got to be goin’. Snow’s goin’ to come in harder before we get there as it is.”
He snapped the reins and they moved on up the rugged road. Looking around I decided he was right and I started Hawk on down toward Silverton. He would enjoy a warm stable more than being caught out in the weather. I might even stay awake long enough to get a nice bed of coals in the fireplace in my room.
The snow was coming down pretty good when we arrived in Silverton an hour later and because of the storm, darkness was already setting in. The streets were already covered and it looked as if more was on the way. Looking down Blair Street, it didn’t seem as if snow was hampering its business much. If it continued and those miners ran out of money, the bouncers would throw them out in the street. There was little mercy on those without money.
I took Hawk on down to the livery and told the kid working to grain him a little. Being out in the cold weather, he needed some good feed. I looked around, carefully, upon leaving the livery and walking toward my hotel. Before getting there I stopped at the restaurant to get supper. Things were quiet, almost too quiet. Maybe it was the storm that made things so serene. Snow can sure be pretty when it’s falling.
The menu boasted of elk chops, so I ordered that. It came with biscuits, potatoes, and some other white tuber that didn’t suit my taste. “What is that?” I asked the waitress.
“Turnip,” she replied. She looked closer at me. “Hurt your shoulder?”
I reached up to touch my shoulder. “Just a little.” The meal was so-so, definitely not as good as Molly’s place. The biscuits were hard, the elk was over-cooked in my mind, and the potatoes were on the edge of being old. The coffee wasn’t half bad though. Of course half-bad coffee is better than no coffee.
The waitress walked by again and I stopped her. “Any pie?” I asked.
“Not this time of day,” she said in a matter-of-fact manner.
I was drinking my third cup of coffee when by the window, the man I had seen the day before walked by. Coincidence? I didn’t believe in them. I jumped up and ran to the door as the waitress hollered for me.
Opening the door I went outside and…