The Saga of Miles Forrest

I stayed pretty close to the diner during the day. I made it my custom to make a round of the town around ten o’clock at night and I wandered in and out of stores making myself visible during the day. Why? That’s a good question as it was not really my responsibility, but guess I was concerned about my friends and fellow citizens. If Billington and the council had any sense they’d rehire Charlie Gold for marshal, but that would go against their arrogant way of doing things.
The weather had gotten colder, down around freezing, but there was relatively little snowfall, maybe an inch or two. In a couple of weeks I had to make the trip to Silverton and oversee the transfer of ore from the train from Silverton to one that would be heading for Denver. Molly would make that trip with me.
I wouldn’t say we were tense, but we were definitely on the alert. Those three men, especially the one I cracked on the skull, Jasper Fletcher, would be making a move. I surely wished they would do it sooner than later. Get it done and over and let the good Lord be with us.
The U.S. Marshal’s office in Denver answered my telegraph stating that Fletcher was wanted in Kansas for murdering a man in Salina. Since he crossed state lines to escape being arrested, that brought him under my jurisdiction as well. I had no idea who the other two men were and the office in Denver didn’t know of any men who rode with him.
My morning round was just finished and I walked into the diner. Marta was back to her old self, which was a relief to us all. The morning rush was over and the three women were back in the kitchen cleaning up when I entered. As was my habit, I walked over to the stove, took my coat off and placed it on the back of my chair, then propped the shotgun up against the wall behind me to my right. Molly came in taking a seat beside me.
“Pour me a cup too,” she pleaded. “Please.”
I looked at her. “What is that all about?” I asked.
“What? Can’t a wife be nice to her husband?” she replied coyly.
Grabbing a couple of cups off the shelf, I then reached and filled one. Placing it on the table in front of her I said, “There you are dear,” with some playful sarcasm. “Should I get the cream and sugar for you too, my dear?”
As I turned back to the stove the front door opened. I had a cup in one hand, the coffeepot in the other and I half-turned to the sound of the door opening. It was time.
Three men walked in, Fletcher in the middle. As soon as they came in the door, they spread out. I finished pouring my coffee and turned toward them taking a sip. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that those who are full of evil and have rotting souls, dress like the scum they are. Oh, there are the exceptions, like the card-sharps and gunmen, and those who commit fraud and crimes such as that, but scum dress like scum. You can see it in their appearance and in their countenance. Evil just sort of clings to them. Quickly I thought, “out of the heart.”
“Go ahead,” came the bark from Fletcher. “Enjoy your last cup.”
I eyed the Greener, but it was too far away. He smiled and spoke again. “Not so tough without that shotgun.”
Several months back I remembered being in this situation, three men, spread out, here in the diner. “At least let my wife move back to the kitchen,” I requested.
He eyed her. I’m sure he wondered if there was a gun back there or not. “Don’t go too far,” he said with a leer. “We might have use for you later.” She scurried off to the kitchen.
“Take that last drink!” he ordered. Besides you crackin’ my skull, I’ve been paid good money. I’ll look forward to seein’ you lay on the floor like that drunk in the saloon.”
Somebody paid him? I had to do something before they were too spread out.
Breathing a deep sigh I brought the cup to my lips. For some reason the coffee turned awful bitter. Now was as good a time as any, I flung the cup…