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 Chapter seven Frustration

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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Chapter seven  Frustration Empty
PostSubject: Chapter seven Frustration   Chapter seven  Frustration EmptySat May 30, 2015 8:01 pm

Miranda felt relief wash over her as she stepped back out onto the street. What an oppressive atmosphere! Or was it simply that she hadn't felt comfortable with the questions being asked of her? It was silly, really. David would have insisted on the same information but it had caught her off guard and she resented the intrusion. No wonder Hannibal became so frustrated with his situation and was habitually guarded with what information he was willing to divulge.


Miranda hoped that she hadn't opened up another can of worms with her efforts to expedite matters. All they needed was more questions and yet another busybody trying to take control.


She hurried along, wanting to get to Hannibal and let him know what had transpired and also to assure him that the telegrams had been sent. Surely they would hear from someone today! She didn't think, not being from the criminal element, to cover her tracks or use an alternative route to the sheriff's office. It did not occur to her that she was being scrutinized.


Her attention was momentarily diverted by the sight of the coach preparing to leave for Santa Marta. Her heart sank as the realization hit her that they would not be making that trip. Not yet anyway. On the other hand, nor would they have to suffer the company of a certain offensive bore for the rest of the day either. She did a quick scan of the area and picked up her pace in the hopes of avoiding that particular couple as they prepared to continue with their journey.


Luck was with her and she got by without being noticed. Her anxiousness abated and she carried on towards the cool adobe building where her husband was being held and then nipped in the open doorway. She sighed with relief at having made the journey undeterred and smiled at the lawman currently in place.


“Good morning, Deputy,” she said. “Is Sheriff Nugent off duty?”


“He'll be back later,” the stalwart badge informed her. “You wanna set with yer husband fer a spell, that's fine. So long as ya' don't got nothin' on ya.”


Miranda heard her husband snort from inside his cell. She smiled indulgently at the deputy.


“I assure you I have plenty on me,” she told him. “but nothing that might constitute a weapon if that was your meaning.”


Miranda could see the blush beginning at the deputy's collar line and rise up to cover his whole face.


“Oh,” the deputy shuffled and looked anywhere but in her eyes. “Sorry ma'am. Didn't mean no disrespect.”


“I'm sure.”


She smiled and returned to her usual place outside the cell. Hannibal came up and took her hand.


“Everything alright?” he asked her, having noted her concerned expression.


“I think so,” she said. “I got the telegrams sent off with explicit instructions for Sheriff Nugent to be notified as soon as any responses come in.”


“Well good,” Heyes agreed. “So what's wrong?”


“Well...” Miranda hesitated.


“What?”


“I went over to see the town doctor,” she informed him. “I thought maybe he could re-fill your vial. But I got a really bad feeling about him and then he started asking questions, wanting to know why you needed the sedative and even saying that he needed to speak to you before he could give me anything. I just didn't like the situation, so I left. I don't know. He might not even give us anything now, even with David's approval. I think he thinks I was trying to get it for some underhanded mischief.”


Heyes started to laugh but stifled it when he got hit with his wife's indignant glare.


“I wouldn't worry about it,” he assured her. “If the doctor here won't give it to us then David can send the directions on to the doctor in Santa Marta. Might be better that way. The less complications the better.”


“Yes, I suppose. We've missed the coach anyway,” she informed him. “they were just packing up and getting ready to pull out as I was coming over here.”


“Oh,” Heyes seemed a little disappointed. “Well, I kind of figured we were out of luck where that was concerned. Probably better, considering the company we would have been keeping.”


“Yes!”


“Besides!” he declared with an impish grin. “You're rich; we can afford to hire our own coach!”


Randa laughed and gave him a punch on the arm.


“You scoundrel! But you're right. As soon as this mess is all cleared up, we'll hire our own coach and arrive in style!”


“Yes!”


“Well,” Miranda took a glance around the cell. “I see you finally decided to eat some breakfast. I, however, am hungry. I'm going to go to the cafe and get a nice cup of tea and a scone and perhaps some cheese if they have any. Can I bring you anything?”


“A book,” Heyes requested. “Doesn't matter which one. Either of the ones in my carpet bag will do.”


“Alright,” Miranda agreed. “I'll get you your book first and then I absolutely must get something to eat.”


Xxx


Miranda sat quietly in the cafe. There was a teapot on the table next to her and a plate showing the remnants of a scone with jam and soft cheese left over from her light brunch. She held the half full cup of tea in her hands and stared out the window at the people going by. She noted that many were Mexican and smiled to herself at the observation. Hardly surprising, considering how close they were to the international border. Close and yet so far.


This little held over had been an eye-opener for Miranda. A real glimpse into her husband's past and a forewarning of what his future was likely to be. Her future now too, as she was inexorably connected to him, not only in matrimony but in love as well. He was her life, and she hoped she was his. But what was this life going to be?


He had been an outlaw. Of course she had realized this right from the start, but what she hadn't realized was how that fact was going to stay with him, stay with them for the rest of their lives. Perhaps even for the rest of their children's lives.


If he'd been some two-bit outlaw who got fed up with the life and decided to go straight then it wouldn't have mattered. But no; he had to be the best at whatever he decided to do. He had to make a name for himself. And that name had travelled far. Much farther than the man himself. People knew his name on the East Coast; Philadelphia, New York. Just mention the name of Hannibal Heyes and ears perked up and eyes lit with recognition.


They didn't know the man himself. All they had to go on were the newspaper articles embellishing the daring train robberies of the infamous Devil's Hole Gang. The cunning bravado of the charismatic gang leader who had been able to break into the most secure safes ever made. The newspapers had lapped it up. They loved stories like that—stories that presented the Wild West as a dangerous and yet romantic place to be. Or rather; not to be! Papers and dime novels had sold like mad whenever Hannibal Heyes and the Devil's Hole Gang pulled off yet another daring robbery in the middle of the day!


Miranda smiled quietly to herself as she recalled her husband's indignation over the discount bin. This had been what he and Jed wanted these days—to be forgotten about, for the West and the East to move on to other things and not care anymore about Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. But actually seeing their popularity get chopped down to half price must have been deflating for someone who had grown accustomed to being on top.


Their current situation drifted back over her reminiscing, and now Miranda sat, suddenly understanding her husband's reluctance to disclose his personal information. Why his hackles went up when a nosey sheriff started asking questions. The same questions, over and over again. The mistrust in their eyes, the suspicion. His word wasn't good enough. He had more honour than most of the lawmen who came after him, yet his word wasn't good enough.


Miranda sighed and took a sip of her tea. Here she was, getting angry over the injustices shown to her husband. But were they really injustices? As his friend and mentor, Silky O'Sullivan had pointed out, Heyes had been the best of the up and comers. A master conman who could charm the gold out of a banker's pockets and, apparently, a lady out of her skirts and still sleep well that night after having done so.


And yet Miranda trusted him. She wouldn't have married him if she felt that she could not. All the people who knew him now, trusted him. They knew he was making good, that he was changing his life around. And he was living up to their trust. But people who didn't know him other than by reputation still saw only the outlaw. Still saw someone who had to be watched and suspected. Still someone to be questioned.


And now Miranda had had her first taste of being pressured for answers she didn't want to give. She knew Hannibal was uncomfortable with discussing his ailment. Again, people suspected its cause and effect. People looked at him suspiciously and were passing judgement. They weren't letting him start his life over again, they weren't letting him be his own man.


Miranda sighed again, took another sip of tea and decided that the pot was done. She came up out of her musings and was getting organized to leave when she spotted the tall, spindly doctor briskly walking towards the sheriff's office.


She frowned in a mixture of irritation and concern. What was he up to? Had the matter not been closed? She would wait for word from their own doctor, that is what she had told him and she had expected her decision to be respected.


She dug into her belt purse and extracted payment plus gratuity for the light brunch and then exited the cafe. Following the doctor towards the office, she was becoming more and more irritated by the man's audacity with each step she took. He better not be expecting payment for an unsolicited house call once all was said and done!


Miranda hurried through the alcove of the sheriff's office and quickly did a scan of the area. The deputy glanced up at her as she entered but he didn't even bother to remove his booted feet from the top of the desk to stand up for the lady. Randa ignored him and focused her attention on the tall, crooked form of the doctor standing over by her husband. She frowned her irritation.


“Why are you here?” she asked the medical man. “I told you that we would consult our own doctor.”


Dr. Shandal turned and sent her a condescending smile.


“I don't like to think that there is someone in pain when I am in a position to help them” he informed her. “I can see now why your husband could not come to me, so I thought it best that I come to him.”


Miranda met her husband's eyes and Heyes rolled them with his own mild irritation.


“Well it wasn't necessary,” Miranda persisted as she came to stand close to her husband. “As you can see he is not in any pain. We will wait until our own doctor can send the refill.”


“As I explained to you before ma'am,” Shandal continued. “I cannot supply any medication without first examining the patient. It could be days before your own doctor can contact me with the information. I'm right here. What is the harm in a few innocent questions?”


“Deputy!” Miranda turned to the lawman. “is there not something you can do about this? I do not wish this man in here, interrogating my husband. Do we not have any say in this matter?”


The deputy stretched and yawned, his boots still resting atop the desk. He seemed in no hurry to adjust his position.


“Nope,” he commented. “If'n the Doc wants ta' exam a prisoner then it's best let 'im do it. Especially if'n he thinks there might be some risk to the public health.”


“Risk to the public health!?” Miranda was incensed. “What...?”


“Never mind,” Hannibal told her. “You're the one who has been telling me that I should be more open about this. What's the harm? Let him ask his questions and be done with it.”


“There, you see?” The doctor smiled condescendingly at the wife. “Your husband is making sense. You would be wise to follow his lead.”


Miranda ignored the tone and stepped in closer to the bars and took her husband's hand in hers.


“No, Hannibal. I don't feel right about this. Let's just wait until David gets in touch.”


“But nobody's getting in touch!” Heyes' frustration was coming through in his tone. “What in the world is everybody up to back home? I might have to get something mild to help me sleep anyway. You know what it's like for me, being cooped up like this. I won't sleep.”


Miranda sighed and nodded agreement.


“Yes, I know. Alright.” She turned to the doctor. “Go ahead and ask your questions. But don't expect to get paid for this call. You were not requested to come here.”


“Indeed,” the doctor agreed. “Just a few short questions then. So, Mr...?”


“Heyes,” Hannibal informed him and noted with some relief that the penny hadn't dropped.


“Mr. Heyes. You wife stated that you have a problem with cramps, and your doctor gives you a sedative to relieve them, is that correct?”


Heyes smiled at his wife's obvious attempt at whitewashing the ailment.


“Not exactly, Dr. Shandal,” he admitted. “My regular doctor knows of my history with head injuries and he's concerned that I may start having seizures. It's just a precaution. I did have one bout with it but it's highly unlikely...” Heyes stopped in mid-sentence as he noticed the doctor's eyes widen with alarm and the medical man took an involuntary step backwards. “What?”


“Seizures? Your wife said muscle cramps.”


“Well yes, I suppose they are...”


“Mr. Heyes, there is a big difference between seizures and muscle cramps.” Dr. Shandal informed him. “If you have what I think you have, then it is a good thing you are already contained. This disease is highly contagious and must be treated accordingly.”


“Contagious?” Heyes repeated incredulously. “It's not contagious...”


“Has your doctor told you what you are suffering from?” Shandal asked haughtily.


Heyes hesitated. He was not liking the tone that this conversation was taking, and suddenly his wife's caution was making sense. His friends kept telling him to relax and to stop hiding in the shrubbery as though everyone was out to get him. And yet whenever he tried to take that advice, it seems that he ended up in trouble. There were times that he seriously considered bring Joshua Smith back into play when he was out and about on personal business.


Shandal sighed when he was met with a defensive look accompanied with silence.


“Is it Epilepsy?” he asked.


Heyes lips tightened as his suspicions grew. Still, it was all the answer the doctor needed.


“Deputy!” The doctor quickly retreated from the cell bars and made a beeline for the front door. “Where is Sheriff Nugent? I must speak with him immediately. This man is not to leave that cell, no matter what! I must get hold of the sanitarium and make arrangements...” and his voice faded away as he exited the office and hurried on his way towards his home.


Hannibal and Miranda exchanged alarmed looks.


“Sanitarium?” Heyes repeated as the colour drained from his face. “What the hell is that suppose to mean?”


Miranda's grip tightened on his arm.


“I've sent a telegram to David,” she assured him. “He and Steven have to get in touch soon. We'll get this sorted out. Deputy, where is Sheriff Nugent?”


The deputy finally lifted his feet off the desk and allowed the chair to fall forward. The front legs had barely touched down when he pulled out his battered pocket watch and checked the time.


“Should be here any minute,” the deputy informed them. “That is if the doc ain't ambushed 'im along the way.”


“What was he talking about?” Miranda demanded. “A sanitarium because of seizures? What does he mean?”


The deputy shrugged. “Beats me. All that medical mumbo jumbo goes right over my head. He did seem kind'a perturbed though, didn't he?”


Miranda turned back to her unusually quiet husband. Hannibal was looking concerned.


“What do I do?” she asked him.


Heyes took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair.


“I don't know,” he admitted and then began to pace. “Whatever you do, don't sign any papers.”


“No, of course not!”


He took another deep breath and stopped for a moment, his thoughts going inwards.


“I remember Kid and I helped Abi out once, years ago. A friend of hers had been committed to a sanitarium by her husband,” he informed his wife. “Abi suspected the husband's motives and asked us to go in undercover to see what we could find out.” He paled noticeably as he recalled the horrors he had witnessed in that hellish institution. “It was a nightmare,” he continued. “It'd be worse than prison. Just being there would drive a person insane.” *
He began to pace again as his mind got over the shock and kicked into full gear. He had already grasped hold of the problem and was beginning to think it through. “There are a few things in our favour here. A person has to be committed by someone, usually a family member and then that has to be seconded by a doctor's agreement. Now, not even a doctor can simply decide to commit someone on his own. He has to have at least one other doctor to also agree.”


He stopped pacing again and looked into his wife's worried eyes.


“That gives us some time,” he continued. “He can't simply decide he's going to commit someone. It's not that easy. But we do have to get in touch with David and Steven. Now more than ever. Why aren't they answering!?”


“I just sent the three telegrams to Brookswood,” she said. “Hopefully we will hear something by tonight.”


“But why hasn't Steven gotten in touch?” Heyes was rambling. He knew it was a rhetorical questions but it forced its way out despite that knowledge. “Maybe we should send one to Kenny as well, and Lom. Maybe Big Mac...”


Miranda sighed.


“Well, I can,” she agreed dubiously. “but honestly I don't see the point. If they're still in Brookswood then they'll get the messages along with Jed and David. If they've already left then neither of them would be home yet. Try to be patient.”


Heyes grumbled and paced. Miranda sat with him for the better part of the day, doing her best to keep his spirits up and his mind occupied. But the day dragged on and still no word from home.


Heyes felt panic begin to take over. Just how much power did this doctor have? Could he really have him committed to a sanitarium simply on his own cognisance? That didn't seem right, that couldn't be right. Why would David lie to him? If epilepsy was contagious, wouldn't David have told him so? But if it was contagious, then where did he get it from? He didn't know anyone who had these seizures. Not even in prison. And everybody knew everything about everybody in prison.


What was he going to do? He couldn't let himself be committed. No. It wasn't going to happen. David and Steven would not permit it, and Miranda would fight tooth and nail. She would never sign papers giving the doctor permission for this. It wasn't going to happen. He told himself this over and over again. It wasn't going to happen.


Heyes had been so preoccupied with pacing his cell and grappling with this problem that he hadn't noticed Sheriff Nugent return to the office and relieve his deputy. But he did notice that ten minutes after Miranda had left to get some supper, Dr. Shandal made a return visit with documents in hand.


“What's this?” Nugent asked as the doctor slapped the pages down on his desk.


“Just sign here, Sheriff,” Shandal instructed him. “This line and then this one. That's all you need to do.”


Heyes perked up and moved to the bars closest to the office. Nugent sat up straighter and picked up the sheets of paper.


“What do you mean; just sign here?” Nugent asked indignantly. “I'm not going to just sign something without reading it. What is this?”


“It's nothing you need to worry about, Sheriff,” Shandal persisted. “It's all medical jargon, you won't understand it anyway. All you need to do is sign it.”


“Don't do it, Sheriff!” Heyes called from his cell. “He's trying to get me locked up in a sanitarium, but he's got nothin' to go on. Don't do it. Wait until my own doctor can get down here and clarify things.”


Shandal pushed himself up to the full height of his twisted frame and bristled at the prisoner.


“There is nothing to clarify,” he insisted indignantly. “You have a contagious disease, and you must be contained.”


“Hang on just a minute,” Nugent demanded as he stood up and came around his desk. “What do you mean he has a contagious disease?”


“This man has epilepsy,” Shandal informed the lawman.


“I've never heard of that,” Nugent admitted. “Just what exactly is ep..i..lep..sy?”


“It is a highly infectious disease of the mind and body.” the doctor explained impatiently. “He cannot be permitted to roam freely. I'm surprised his wife hasn't contracted it by this time.” He turned his dark beady eyes towards the prisoner and stared at him accusingly. “Any respectable man would have sent his wife away to save her from the misery of the disease. As it stands, she will probably come down with it as well and that will be it. There is no cure and it will only get worse. It starts out by causing violent muscle spasms but that is just the beginning. The seizures will move up to the brain and very quickly cause insanity.
“Those sufferers who have been found in time and put into strict isolation all follow the same pattern. Why, it has been shown beyond a doubt that people suffering from this affliction only become worse after being incarcerated. And that's with treatment! They become extremely violent and some have even become murderous. It is insidious!”


“The only reason they become worse,” Heyes yelled back. “is because they've been thrown into that hellhole! That would drive anybody insane!”


“Those hospitals are very modern,” Shandal countered. “You should consider yourself lucky to be living in an enlightened age. Why, it used to be that people like you were considered to be possessed and were burned at the stake!”


“Enlightened!?” Heyes retorted with a snort. “The law gives a doctor the right to lock somebody up and throw away the key just because of some seizures! How is that enlightened!?”


“It's for your own welfare,” Shandal insisted. “You're not safe...”


“The only thing I'm not safe from is you!”


“STOP!” Nugent had had enough. “Nobody is doing anything or going anywhere until I get to the bottom of this.”


“If you'll just sign the paper, Sheriff,” Shandal pushed. “then all this can be taken care of simply and quickly, before he actually has the chance to infect any of us. If he hasn't already...”


Nugent held his hand up for silence.


“A couple of minutes to read this over, Doc,” he insisted. “Then I'll decide if I'm going to sign it or not.”


Shandal backed off with reluctance. He and Heyes stood silently and glared at each other until such time as the sheriff had completed his reading.


“Okay,” Nugent commented and Heyes' heart skipped a beat.


“No Sheriff, you can't!”


Again the hand came up to bring silence.


“Says here that you also need the signature of a family member,” Nugent pointed out. “and though I haven't known Mrs. Heyes for very long I doubt she would be willing to sign this.”


“A signature from yourself and a second doctor could override that clause,” Shandal countered. “But I'm sure that once I explain the situation to Mrs. Heyes she will be quite happy to sign.”


Heyes snorted. “Not on your life!”


“I'm sure once she realizes how ill you are, she will be relieved to have professionals taking things over,” Shandal predicted. “The womenfolk do have such a hard time understanding medical conditions.”


Even Nugent's brow went up at that comment. Heyes threw his hands up in the air in frustration.


“You're nuts!” he yelled back. “My wife will never sign that—especially not on your say-so alone. This is ridiculous. I'm not sick!”


Shandal turned his back on the prisoner and focused his attention on the only sane person in the office.


“I would appreciate it if you would respect my authority here and agree to sign the paper, Sheriff,” he attempted to persuade. “If the wife doesn't have the common sense to see wisdom, or is perhaps already afflicted by this disease and therefore not thinking clearly, then your signature and that of another doctor will see it done.”


“I'm sorry, Doc,” Nugent disappointed him. “I value your opinion in most things. But this is serious. We're talking about a man's life here. I'm going to have to get more than your opinion alone before I make any decision on this.”


Shandal frowned at his authority being questioned.


“Fine,” he snarked. “but be it on your head if this becomes an epidemic. If you're going to insist I can get in touch with Dr. Benson over in Gila Bend. He's usually very helpful and will appreciate that I know what I'm talking about.”


“All the more reason not to get him!” Heyes pointed out. “Come on! My own doctor knows me better than anybody. He knows my history. He can be here in two or three days. Why bring in another doctor who doesn't know anything about me!”


“Your own doctor is likely to be biased, Mr. Heyes,” Shandal pointed out. “And if he was giving you sedatives to treat this condition then I can only assume that he is a country bumpkin who has no clue what he is dealing with.”


Heyes growled, and clutching the bars he shook them until his knuckles turned white.


“Who's calling who a country bumpkin!” he exclaimed. “Dr. Gibson will put you to shame. He'll run you into the ground..!”


“Settle.” Nugent called order again. “We've been trying to get hold of your lawyer Mr. Heyes and we haven't had much luck. What are the chances of your doctor being any easier to track down?”


“These people are probably figments of his already diseased mind,” Shandal cut in with a sniff. “I doubt they even exist. See how this affliction works Sheriff? He believes his own illusion so completely...”


“Don't give me that!” Heyes retorted. “These people exist! Steven Granger is an established lawyer who lives in Denver—the sheriff can check up on that quite easily.”


“I already have,” Nugent assured him. “We had to verify we were sending the telegram to an actual lawyer and not just a ruse on your part to stall for time. I assure you Doc, Mr. Granger does exist and I'm willing to bet that his doctor does as well. The only question that remains is why are they not getting in touch?”


“I don't know!” Heyes threw up his hands again and began pacing. “My wife sent more telegrams this morning, I'm sure somebody will respond soon.”


“Uh huh,” Nugent sounded sceptical. “Well, if your doctor and your lawyer get in touch and can be down here quickly then fine, but in the meantime I think it best that we contact Dr. Benson just in case we can't get hold of Dr. Gibson.”


“I see no point in bringing a third doctor into this situation,” Shandal commented. “It would just be a waste of the man's time. Nor do we need some city slicker lawyer coming here and stirring up trouble. It's just a simple matter of...”


“But he is Mr. Heyes' regular doctor,” Nugent pointed out. “He would need to be informed of the situation in any case. And he has the right to have a lawyer represent him. I'd kind of like to get more information on this situation myself. This is a new one on me. If we cannot get in touch with him then Dr. Benson will have to do. But Mr. Heyes still has the right to legal council, even if it's not his own lawyer and even if he is not of sound mind! He has a right to a second medical opinion and I for one need some kind of legal advice before I'm signing anything! Are we agreeable to this?”


“Fine,” Shandal responded with tight lips. “If you insist on wasting time and putting this whole town at risk. I'm simply stating that the situation needs to be handled as quickly as possible and Dr. Benson can be here...”


“It's not fine with me!” Heyes countered. “I want my own doctor. I at least have that right!”


“If we can find him!” Nugent was becoming exasperated. “Are we agreed!?”


“Fine,” Shandal repeated and snatching up the documents from the desk, he stomped out the door.


Nugent sent a pointed look to Heyes. Heyes stood silently, his lips tightened in stubborn refusal.


“Are we agreed, Mr. Heyes?”


Heyes gave the bars one more shake and then once again, threw his hands up in sheer frustration.


“Fine!”


“Good.”


Heyes turned away and resumed his agitated pacing around the confines of his cell. Finally he stopped and hit the bars with his fist. The pain shot through his fingers and up into his wrist but he refused to acknowledge it. His anger exploded and lifting his eyes to the heavens, he shouted at the top of his lungs.


“DAVID!”


Xxx


David awoke with a start. He couldn't even remember coming to bed. He stretched and yawned, then rubbed his eyes, trying to further wake himself up. The first thing he noticed was that it was light out but not a morning light—it was full-blown daylight. And here he was, lazing around in bed? He groaned and glanced over to his right. He was also alone in bed.


What was going on? Was he sick or injured? He settled and did a quick inventory of all his body parts. Everything seemed fine, just tired. Boy, was he tired. He should get up, but he didn't want to. He knew that Jesse was still a patient here in his home, and he should be available to tend to him. This was odd. Usually, when he had a patient under his care, he slept very lightly and would be up every few hours to check on them. Why had he not done so this time? He was getting old. Forty loomed on the horizon...


He really should get up. He closed his eyes and drifted into a warm and comfortable doze.


“Papa! Get up!”


David jerked back to fully awake, when his son jumped onto the bed and began to shake him.


“C'mon Papa!” the exuberant child insisted. “You've been asleep for hours.”


David groaned and rubbed his eyes, but Nathan cuddled up against him and wanted a kiss. David smiled and hugged him close, kissing him on the forehead. Footsteps in the doorway let both men of the household know that the matron had arrived.


“Oh Nathan!” Tricia scolded the boy. “Leave your father alone. He was up all night.”


“No, it's alright,” David grumbled as he forced himself into a sitting position and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. “I should get up and check on everyone.”


“Everybody's fine, David,” Tricia assured him as she took her son's hand and ushered him towards the door. “Go back to sleep for awhile.”


As tempting as that suggestion was, David knew he couldn't do it. He was awake now, and his natural instincts as a healer came into play. He wouldn't be able to rest until he had checked up on his two resident patients. He stood up and pulling on some casual clothing, he took quick note of the bassinet at the foot of their bed. It was empty and he wondered if his daughter was still over at Heyes' place.

He smiled, almost wickedly. Poor Jed, stuck in a house full of children and women. Hopefully he got some sleep last night—or that would actually be today. Everyone had been up late, and then the arrival of the rain had given them all a temporary burst of energy, only to have them crash that much harder as the dawn light had forced its way through the heavy clouds.


Yawning again, he scratched his scalp. Coming into the hallway he quietly tapped on the first door he came to.


“Come in,” Bridget answered from inside.


David opened the door to his son's room and found Steven sitting up against a thick pile of pillows, while Bridget was tenderly feeding him stew. Both greeted him with open smiles, though Steven still looked a little pale and dreary around the gills.


“How are you this morning...ah—afternoon?” the doctor asked.


“I feel pretty good, David,” Steven assured him. “Good enough in fact, to head over to our own hotel room and let you get your house back. I sure wouldn't mind a real nice supper over at the restaurant either.”


“Something wrong with my wife's cooking?” David asked in mock indignation.


Bridget giggled. “I'm sure Tricia would like to get her kitchen back to normal, too,” she said. “So much excitement over the last few days. It seemed like it would never end. But Steven really is doing much better. He can rest just as comfortably in our hotel room.”


“Yes,” David agreed. “I'm sure you're right. But don't go anywhere until I have a chance to check you over. Alright?”


Bridged and Steven smiled and answered in unison.


“Yes David.”


David smiled in acceptance of the teasing, and with a quiet wave of his hand, he headed down the hallway towards the guest room. Approaching the kitchen, with all the enticing aromas that this room often held, he suddenly felt his own tummy gurgle in anticipation of food. Stepping in to the lighted and cozy space, he smiled at greeting to the occupants.


Belle was sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea and holding the sleeping Eleanor while Tricia was busy getting supper going. Nathan had run outside to join his friends playing in the rain puddles and Tricia had given up any efforts of keeping her son clean or dry.


David put a hand on Belle's shoulder in just as much a greeting as it was a quick exam. He could tell so much about a person's condition through this casual touch and it was so innocent, he didn't need to worry about permission or explanations. Belle sighed and smiled up at him through tired eyes.


“How is he?” the doctor asked.


“He's still asleep,” Belle told him. “but he does seem to be breathing a little easier today.”


“Good,” David responded. “Did you get any sleep today?”


“Not really,” she admitted. “Oddly enough, the sound of the rain kept me awake.”


David nodded, though he expected that it was more than just the sound of the rain.


“If Steven is better today, then he and Bridget can return to their hotel room,” David informed her. “You might be more comfortable sleeping in that room for now.”


Belle's expression almost turned to panic.


“Oh no,” she didn't like that. “I want to stay by his side, just in case.”


“There'll always be someone here, Belle,” he assured her. “I'm keeping him sedated now anyway. It's not likely he's going to wake up soon. You need your sleep too.”


Belle was about to protest further, when Tricia interrupted the discussion.


“Would you like some coffee, David?” she asked him. “Supper's going to be awhile.”


David sighed appreciatively. “Oh yes, I would like some. But give me a minute. I want to give my two patients a checking over and give myself a wash. Then coffee would be wonderful.”


Tricia nodded absently as she tended to the cooking. She had already known this would be her husband's response, and she left him to it.


David quietly entered the guest room where Jesse was sleeping and closed the door upon the working household. He went over to the chair beside the bed and settling into it, he took a few moments to scrutinize his patient. Once he picked up the ever ready stethoscope, he went through the normal procedure of checking the heart rate, listening to the ease of breathing as well as assessing skin temperature and texture.


Everything was well within the range David had expected. The broken bones had been set or taped up and the burns and cuts had been cleaned and treated and left open to the air to heal. Fortunately nothing had needed stitches, but his friend was still going to be very sore when he woke up. David smiled. Knowing Jesse, he wasn't going to be happy about being confined to bed, not with all the cleaning up that the ranch was going to be requiring.


That was too bad though. Jesse was just going to have to leave that job to the young bucks. Jed, well Jed wasn't going to be up for much, not for a few days, anyway. And Sam, well he was mostly just tired. David wouldn't be surprised if he had recovered enough and was heading home with his family. Sam was a pretty good foreman and was probably already thinking about getting the men organized out at the Double J in order to get the ranch up and running again. Ben would help.


Ben. David frowned. Where was Ben? David couldn't recall seeing him since the day the fire had started. His family did have their own ranch on the other side of Brookswood, perhaps he had gone there to help protect the property. But that section hadn't really been in jeopardy, and Ben hardly seemed like the type to shirk his duty when all hands were needed.


These last few days had been so confusing. It was difficult to keep track of where everybody was at any given moment. Ben would show up eventually, David was sure of it. There were still work crews out there, doing clean up and looking for people who might have been injured and stranded somewhere by the fire. It's very likely that the doctor's duties weren't done yet.


Jesse moaned slightly in his sleep, and David's thoughts were drawn back to his patient. He was looking tired and drawn these days, even before his serious injury. The stress of battling this fire and of the worry over possible damage it could do to his livestock and timber must have been weighing heavy on him. David knew that Jesse and Scott Medgar had plans to amalgamate their breeding programs, and a wild fire sweeping through the ranch lands might have destroyed more than just the property itself.


But the fates had been with them, in this regard in any case. Due to the efforts of most of the county pulling together and the last minute help from Mother Nature herself, the fire had been stopped before too much of the prime timber stands had been lost. How much livestock perished due to the blaze remained to be seen, but animals seems to know where to go to get away from a fire as long as they're free to go there and didn't get surrounded by it.


It would take time to get things up and running normally again, but would get done. Jesse was just going to have to accept the fact that even without his injuries, he was no longer a young man. Into his sixties now, David wondered how the tough rancher kept going. Yet he did. And not just dragging himself through the days either, but with a purposeful stride and an amused twinkle in his eye. Jesse would probably say it was his children who kept him young, that and a good woman by his side. You have family, you can overcome just about anything.
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Chapter seven  Frustration Empty
PostSubject: Re: Chapter seven Frustration   Chapter seven  Frustration EmptySat May 30, 2015 8:02 pm

David agreed that this probably was a good rule to live by, and Jesse certainly had proved it over and over again. The doctor could only hope he himself would have as much energy and enthusiasm when he got to be Jesse's age. Right now, he didn't feel too optimistic about it because he couldn't remember the last time his body ached this badly.


The bedroom door opened quietly, and Tricia poked her head in.


“I brought you your coffee,” she informed him quietly.


“Oh yes,” David sighed. “Thank you.”


Tricia stepped into the room and handed the steaming beverage to her husband.


“How is he?” she asked.


“As well as can be expect,” David assured her. “I think he'll come out of this alright. He's a fighter.”


“Yes, he is.”


“Now, if we can just get Belle to take some rest,” the doctor continued. “It wouldn't do to have her collapsing on us.”


Tricia gave David a gentle hug as he tried to sip his coffee.


“I think I can persuade her to go take a nap,” she offered. “She can go lie down in our room.”


David nodded agreement.


A sudden, almost frantic knocking pounded against their front door and the couple exchanged a frustrated look.


“What now?” David grumbled.


“I'll get it,” Tricia offered.


“No, no,” David stood up and headed out of the room. “It's probably for me anyway.”


Belle, still cradling the sleeping infant, had gone to open the front door and found herself encountering a young man whom she did not know yet. His bright blue eyes were wide with concern but also clouded by exhaustion. He was covered in dirt and soot, and to make matters worse, he was soaked through and through from the downpour that had started the previous night.


“Is the doc here, ma'am?” he asked as soon as the door was opened.


“Yes, just...”


“It's alright Belle,” David said from behind her. “I've got it. You go sit down and finish your tea. You look done in.” He turned his attention to the visitor. “What's happened?”


“We got a whole wagonload of injured fellas, Doc!” the messenger announced. “I donno, maybe some of 'em's dead. I donno. We took 'em into Little Mountain, but there ain't no doc there, so we came on here. I donno, it's pretty bad. They could all be dead by now, I donno...”


“Yes alright. Let me get my bag.”


“Hurry Doc!”


“Yes!” David snapped back, then instantly regretted his lapse. “Yes, I'm coming. Has the sheriff been informed?”


“Hell, I donno! I just come ta' get you.”


“I'll come to help,” Tricia offered as she retrieved her husband's emergency bag from the top shelf.


“No,” David declined. “I need you here to keep an eye on Jesse and...” he leaned in to give his wife a hug and whispered in her ear. “...give Belle some laudanum, see if you can get her to rest.” He pulled back as Tricia nodded her understanding. “Send Bridget over to John's place. If he or Mary aren't too tired, one of them can assist me. Perhaps Merle and Maribelle are still in town, and Martha will be at the hotel. Damn, even Isabelle, if push comes to shove!”


“Yes alright. Just go David. I'll see who I can find.”


Xxx


Jed felt consciousness gradually pulling him up from sleep. He groaned inside his head because he didn't want to wake up. He was warm and comfortable and would have happily stayed nestled under the blanket indefinitely. Then he swallowed, or at least tried to. He groaned for real as his throat burned and closed in around the saliva and, as much as he didn't want to, he automatically swallowed again and with more conviction this time, to insure that everything went down the right way.


“It's about time you woke up, Sleepy Head.”


Jed smiled at the sound of his wife's soft voice. He had yet to even try to open his eyes but he shifted slightly until he felt her warm body next to him on the bed. His hand searched for her to find that she was sitting on top of the comforter with her back resting against the headboard. He frowned and forced his itchy eyes open to see what was going on.


His frown turned into a smile, as his slightly blurry vision took in the smudged form of Beth smiling down at him. She was wearing the yellow summer frock he liked so much because, not only did the colour suit her long blonde hair, and bring out the rich darkness of her brown eyes, but the material was soft to the touch and it had a way of flowing over her figure that he found extremely enticing.


Beth liked it because it buttoned down the front and this made it easy for her to do exactly was she was doing at that moment. The buttons were undone to her waist along with the camisole underneath and both garments were pulled down off her one shoulder to enable her to nurse the baby. Thaddeus was suckling happily and making so much noise about it, Jed wondered briefly why he hadn't heard him before.


“Good morning,” he greeted his family.


“Morning?” Beth giggled. “It's late afternoon. You slept through the whole day.”


“What?”


“That's good though,” she assured him. “You needed it.”


“Ohhh.” Jed stretched and yawned, despite the soreness of his throat. “I feel like I've been through the wars.”


“You have been,” Beth agreed. “You were exhausted. Do you even remember coming to bed?”


“No.”


“I didn't think so.”


Jed sighed deeply and pushed himself and his pillow up so he could rest against the headboard beside his wife. He opened up his arm to her and she snuggled into his embrace. He brought his other arm around and joined his wife in cuddling their son. There were still times, and this was one of them, when he couldn't quite believe his good fortune. He stroked his son's head as the child contentedly suckled and kneaded the breast, so engrossed in his own dinner that he barely acknowledged his father's touch.


Beth snuggled in against him even more and he knew he was caught in that moment, that one special instant in time when contentment filled his heart and life was perfect. He savoured the moment for the short time it lasted, before the thoughts and concerns of real life drifted into his mind and the idyllic bubble liquefied and oozed away.


“How is your pa?”


“Resting,” Beth informed him. “I went by earlier to find out and to see how Mama was doing. David is confident that he will recover, it's just going to take time.”


“He won't like that,” Jed prophesized. “You know what your pa is like—he's gonna wanna be out there with everyone else ta' get the ranch put to rights.”


“Oh I know,” Beth chuckled. “He's not going to have any choice though. He will have to leave that to us. And you know David—he won't hesitate to knock Papa out if he gets stubborn about it.”


“Ha ha! Yes Beth, darlin'. You have that right.”


“Ah, here we go,” Beth commented as the baby began to squirm.


T.J. had pulled away from the teat and was beginning to whimper. His protesting was so adamant that he very nearly wiggled his way out of his mother's gentle cuddle.


“Oh my! He's such a strong boy,” she commented. “I best get up and walk him. Can you put that bib over my shoulder for me?”


Jed spied the cloth laying on the night stand and he was quick to snatch it up and drape it across his wife's shoulder. She readjusted the baby and then swinging her legs off the bed, she stood up and began to walk back and forth while patting the child on the back.


Jed settled back against his pillow, and with a sappy smile on his face, watched the procedure. Even the very basic act of burping a baby held wonder for him now. It was strangely satisfying and erotic all at once and he couldn't take his eyes off them. T.J. gurgled and burped and did his fair share of spitting up but the young mother took it all in stride. She continued to walk the length of the bed and back again while cooing softly and patting the baby's back.


“There you go,” she soothed him gently. “You ready to settle now?”


A big yawn was her answer and she laid him into the bassinet at the foot of the bed and made sure he was comfortable. Straightening up, she began to pull her sleeve back up on her shoulders when she heard an unmistakable groan from her husband.


“What?” she asked with a mischievous chuckle.


“That's cruel,” Jed responded. “You strut around here, half nekked, lettin' another man fondle ya' shamelessly, and as soon as he's had his way with ya', yer gonna cover up without givin' yer husband a second thought?”


Beth gave him a look of reproach and came to sit down on the bed again.


“I was only thinking of your welfare,” she teased him. “You must still be exhausted.

Jed quickly disproved her concerns by grabbing her around the waist and pulling her back into bed with him  Beth giggled with pleasure then covered her mouth as a reminder to be quiet.  There were other people in the house after all and they needed to be discreet.

Jed was shifted his weight and effortlessly slid his slender wife underneath him and then settled in for a loving kiss.  Beth encircled him with her arms and returned it whole-heartedly.


KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! “Hello! Anybody at home?!” KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!


All three occupants of the bedroom jumped with the sudden interruption and T.J. began to cry. Jed and Beth both groaned in disappointment as the proverbial bucket of ice water was dumped onto their lovemaking.


Running feet were heard charging down the hallway and J.J.'s voice called out at full volume.


“We're home!” he announced as he opened the front door to their visitor. “What do you want?”


“J.J.! That's no way to greet a guest,” came Merle's admonishment. “I apologize Bridget. Come in. You looked soaked.


“No, no, that's alright Merle. I want to get back to Steven,” Bridget's breathless voice informed them. “Another wagon just come into town with more injuries. David sent me over here to see if anyone can come help.”


“Oh dear!” Merle responded. “This isn't over yet is it?”


“No ma'am,” Bridget agreed as her retreating words were muffled by the rain. “Come as quick as you can...”


“What was that all about Mother?” Maribelle's voice now joined the discussion.


“More injuries,” Merle informed her. “We need to get over there to help.” A sudden knocking sounded against the bedroom door. “Beth! Jed! Are you two awake? Oh, I suppose that was a silly question, wasn't it? Considering T.J. is crying up a storm...”


“Yes Merle!” Beth responded, trying to hide her disappointment. “We're both awake. We'll be right out.” She met her husband's blue eyes and smiled sadly. “I better tend to T.J.”


Jed nodded but wasn't quite able to let her go.   He hugged her tightly to him and gave her another sweet kiss. She returned his hug, then pulled away from him and arose to attend to the crying infant. Jed groaned and dropped his face into the pillows. Now he really didn't want to get up.


Xxx


Clayt made his way back towards the telegraph office, holding the collar of his coat up over his head as he dodged fresh puddles in the road. A light rain was still falling, helping to turn the dusty streets of the town into a slippery thoroughfare. The top layer of dust had quickly turned into mud that floated upon the surface of the hard baked dirt underneath that refused to allow the water to penetrate. Dirty puddles had formed in the ruts from wagon wheels and it was all one could do to keep one's feet dry.


He was hurrying through the warm rain to get back to his office. He couldn't believe he had slept this long and he didn't fully trust young Wade to keep on top of the incoming telegrams. He truly had only meant to nap for a couple of hours but those good intentions had quickly dissolved into dreams as his own exhaustion took over. Awakening to see the afternoon light, made darker by the heavy cloud cover, misting in through his window, had set his heart to racing.


Coming in through the front door of his office, Clayt quickly shook off his coat and tried to wipe the wet dirt from his boots. On the other side of the counter, young Wade perked up with relief as his boss put in an appearance.


“Finally you're here,” Wade greeted him. “I can't seem to keep up with everything.”


“What is all this?” Clayt frowned as he came into the work area. “This is a mess! Haven't you been organizing everything the way I showed you?”


“They were all coming in so quickly!” Wade tried to defend himself. “I couldn't keep track of it. I have tried. I mean, these are for the sheriff, there's a couple here for the doc. But these others, I don't know! They're for people I ain't never heard of.”


“Were any of them important?” Clayt asked. “do they need to be delivered right away?”


“I donno!” Wade wailed. “I didn't read 'em! I just wrote 'em down as fast as I could.”


“Alright, alright,” Clayt noted the rising panic in his assistant and came forward to take over. “Let me see what we have here.”


He came up to the desk and surveyed the paper littered surface with some consternation. It all reminded him to strongly of his dream from the previous night. This was going to take forever to sort through. He gave a defeated sigh and sat down beside the now quiet telegraphy machine.


“Go over to the cafe and get me a pot of coffee,” he told the young man. Then get some rest. Be back here in a couple of hours. Hopefully I'll have all this sorted out by then and you can deliver them to the appropriate recipients.”


“Yeah okay,” Wade sounded relieved. “I'll be right back with your coffee.”


“Fine.”


Wade left the office as Clayt gave yet another sigh and set about organizing the muddle he'd been left with.


Most of the telegrams were from friends and family from other areas asking for information concerning loved ones. These, Clayt set aside as low priority, and he'd get them delivered once things started to settle down. There was a whole stack of telegrams for Sheriff Jacobs, and these were also set aside in their own pile to be delivered as soon as possible.


There was one for that warden fella, what was his name? Clayt read the addressee. Oh yeah, Reece. Looked like it was from his wife. Another one wanting reassurance that all was well. He set that aside with the low priority. Slowly he made his way through the pile, sorting them out as he saw fit. He was so focused on his task, he didn't noticed Wade returning with the coffee and setting a steaming cup down under his nose. Five minutes after Wade left, Clayt picked up the coffee cup and took a gulp and it never occurred to him to wonder how the cup had arrived there.


He jumped and let loose a curse when the machine began to clackety clack again. He set aside the notes he was sorting through and picked up a pencil to jot down the message. Odd, this one was being forwarded to Brookswood from Denver and it was for that lawyer fellow. Clayt wondered why the telegrapher in Denver had felt this important enough to send along to them. Couldn't it have waited until the Grangers got back home? Didn't he have enough to deal with, without someone's business mail adding to the pile?


He'd just finished sending back a confirmation when his machine went into action again. He wrote the message down quickly, shaking his head as he realized that this was also a re-directed message. This one was for Sheriff Trevors. Right after that, another one came in for Jed Curry and then another one again, for the doc. Jeez, as if Doc Gibson weren't busy enough!


Xxx


David sloshed his way out towards the wagon waiting for him in front of the sheriff's office. Jacobs was standing by the dropped tailgate and, even through the rain and increasing darkness of the heavy clouds, David could see that his expression was not one of hopefulness. Pulling his collar up and the tip of his hat down against the steady rain, the doctor gave up trying to avoid puddles and accepted the inevitable wet feet as he approached the rain-soaked vehicle.


The two men driving the wagon had done the best they could to stretch a tarp up across the bed in order to protect the passengers from getting wet, but the attempt was feeble at best.


Everyone was soaked, including the horses, who stood miserably by the hitching rail, their manes and tails slick against their wet hides. Water ran from their forelocks to travel down their long faces until reaching the noses and cascading off their whiskers to splatter into the mud. Eyes closed and ears flopped dripping to the side, they waited patiently for a warm dry stall and some hot mash.


“Carl,” David greeted the lawman. “What do we have here?”


Jacobs shook his head, sending more water dancing off his hat brim. “I ain't a doctor, but I think these fellas would do better with the undertaker than they will with you. I don't think any of 'em are still alive.”


David's heart sank as he pulled himself up into the bed of the wagon. There were eight men laid out with two of them completely covered over by blankets. The other six lay motionless, their pale faces shining through the bleakness of the weather and the mood. His heart and his hope sank even deeper as he pulled out his stethoscope and then carefully made his way to the furthest man and began the process of checking for vitals.


“I don't think I recognize any of these men,” David commented as he worked through the depressing line. “Are they from around here?”


“Nope,” Jacobs informed him. “There were work crews from all over fighting this fire.” He looked to the two young men who had brought the wagon in. “Where did you find them?”


“They were in an area between here and Castle Rock,” explained Bill, the teenager who was riding shotgun. “I guess the fire over took 'em. Them six was holed up in a cave, but the smoke still got 'em, I figure. At least a couple 'a them fellas was still alive when we found 'em. You sayin' they ain't now?”


David remained silent as he continued his examinations.


“There must have been other towns closer than us,” Jacobs pointed out. “Why'd ya' bring 'em all the way here?”


“It's like I told the Doc,” Frank, the young man who had come to fetch David in the first place, explained defensively, “There weren't no doctors in them other towns. We knew there was one here, so this is where we headed. What else was we suppose ta' do?”


“No, it's alright,” David assured them. “You did what you could. Best thing we can do now is get them under cover and try to find their families. Or, more likely, they'll find us. Are there still people missing from our area?”


“Sure are,” Jacobs admitted. “Things can't help but get confusing. It's goin' to take a while yet to track everybody down.”


David nodded and turned to the two men who were covered over.


“Ah, fair warnin, Doc,” Bill said. “Them two didn't make it to the cave, if'n ya' get my meanin'. Far as I can tell, one of 'em busted a leg and the other was tryin' ta' help 'im. The fire caught both of 'em.”


David nodded. “You may not want to see this, Carl.”


Carl snorted. “I've seen plenty in my day, Doc. And I've been through fires before too. I know what they can do to a man. You gotta take a look, so take it. I ain't squeamish.”


“Afternoon folks,” came a voice out of the gloom. “How is it looking?”


All four men turned to the sound, just as Doc Mullin solidified out of the rain.


“Oh, sorry to disturb you, John,” David greeted him. “Turns out, I don't think I'll need you.”


“Oh dear,” John mumbled. “Not one of them?”


David shook his head. “No.”


While David gently pulled the blanket back from the two bodies, nobody there was above feeling a sense of nausea to some degree or another. The two men were unrecognizable. The only areas that weren't charred black were where large red blisters had burst open and bits of unburned flesh and bone shone through the black. David covered them up again.


A moment of silence followed as the rain rattled a beat against the pointless tarp.


“No way to identify them here,” David quietly commented, feeling uncomfortable with the mood shift. “I could send them on to Denver. The hospital there has a forensics doctor on staff. He might be able to come up with something.”


“A foreign what?” Frank asked while he and his buddy shrugged at each other.


“Forensics,” David corrected them. “Someone who, well, specializes in dead bodies.”


“Ya' mean, there's actually doctors who do that?” asked Bill. “What's the point of bein' a doctor if'n all yer doin' is lookin' at dead bodies? It ain't like you can bring 'em back ta' life.”


David sighed, thinking that the answer should have been quite obvious.


“Isn't it worth something if we can identify who these poor men are, in order to give their families closure?” he pointed out. “Not to mention it can help to solve certain crimes in more ways than you could imagine. Mrs. Stewart was particularly skilled in this particular vocation as I recall.”


The two young men looked confused. Actually, so did Jacobs.


“Mrs. Stewart?”


“Yes. Hannibal's friend.”


“I know who you mean, Doc,” Jacobs commented with a touch of indignation. “I just don't know what you mean. She did a real fine job of solving that little mystery, but are you sayin' that little woman also spent her time pokin' around dead bodies?”


“I understand that she had been known to do so, yes,” David told him, and the ghost of a smile flitted across his face. “Not to mention that rather eccentric friend of hers, Dr. Betham. She was quite capable.”


“Well, then why don't we just get one of those ladies in here to take a look at these fellas?” Jacobs asked reasonably. “Might be easier than sending them on to Denver.”


“Mainly because I don't know where they are,” David pointed out. “I don't even think Hannibal knows that, and even if he did, I have no idea where he is! He's probably somewhere in Mexico by now.”


“I don't know about you fellas,” John cut in. “but I ain't a young fool no more. I'm goin' home and get outa this rain. Besides, I got a patient I'm still tendin' to.”


“Oh yes,” David acknowledged as he got down off the tail gate. “How is Kenny doing?”


“Better,” John informed them. “I don't want him up and about just yet, but he'll be on the mend in another day or two.”


“Ben! Ben!” a woman's beseeching voice called out from the boardwalk. “Is my Ben in that wagon!?”


“Oh damn,” Jacobs cursed under his breath, then turned to block the elderly lady from getting a close look at the grisly cargo. “Now Mrs. Bolton, this is no place for you to be. C'mon Dale, you and your wife shouldn't be out here!”


“Sheriff Jacobs is right Louise,” Mr. Bolton tried to distract his wife. “Let's get over to the hotel and out of this rain.”


“But I have to see...!”


“Here's not the place,” Jacobs insisted. “I know you're worried about your son, but these fellas come by Castle Rock way. I doubt that Ben is here. Did you see Ben in there, Doc?”


David sent Carl a quick frown for dragging him into this.


“Not with those fellas,” he assured the couple, quickly covering his irritation.


“But that's the way he went!” Mrs. Bolton insisted. “After he was though helping Mr. Jordan, he stayed with us on the ranch until we knew the fire wasn't coming our way, and then he took off to help up there. We haven't seen him since. What about those ones, under the blankets?”


She made a move to reach for the covering but both David and Carl were quick to stop her.


“No no, he's not there!” David insisted. “Give the undertaker a couple of hours to get these other fellas cleaned up, and then you can go over there and check them, alright?”


“Oh dear,” Mrs. Bolton didn't seem inclined to move. She gazed into the wagon at the men laid out on the bed and tried to get a clear view of their faces. Her hat was a sodden mess by this time as, what had initially started out as a light misty rain, turned into a downpour and the flowery material had finally given up its form and flopped wet and dripping over her crown. Rain drops splashed over her forehead and down her cheeks making it hard to tell if she were crying or not.


David felt for her and put an arm around her shoulders.


“I'm sure he's not in there, Mrs. Bolton,” he comforted her. “I got a good look at each of those young men and I didn't recognize any of them. I'm sure he'll show up soon. There's still plenty of fellas out there, cleaning up. Isn't that right Carl?”


“Oh!” Carl was taken by surprise. “Yes ma'am, that's right. This rain is coming down awfully heavy now Do you folks have a place to stay?


“Yes we do,” Mr. Bolton assured the sheriff. “A friend here in town is putting us up.”


“Good. I suggest you go back there and get yourselves warmed up. Some nice tea or something.”


“Yes Sheriff, that's a good idea,” Mr. Bolton agreed as he began to lead his wife back towards the boardwalk. “There's nothing we can do right now. Let's go get a nice cup of tea.”


“Yes, yes, I suppose you're right,” Louise muttered as the couple sloshed their way towards the hotel. “A nice cup of tea would go down very well right now.”


David and Jacobs both sighed with relief, and then together they looked at the blanket covering the burned bodies.


“You don't actually think...?” Carl asked hesitantly.


“I don't know,” David confessed. “I sure hope not.”


“You fellas done?” asked Bill as he hugged his sopping shoulders and shivered. “If they's all dead, I'd kinda like ta' get 'em over to the undertaker's and find ourselves a place for the night. Who'd a thought it could get this cold after bein' so dang hot fer so long.”


“Yeah, you fellas go on,” Jacobs told them. “The church is still offering up cots for folks who are from out of town. Probably got a good stew or something going, too.”


Bill and Frank nodded, and hauling themselves up into the driver's seat, they clucked the wet horses to attention and headed the wagon towards the undertaker's.


Jacobs sighed. “It's gettin' late, Doc. Go home and get some shut-eye.”


“I just got up,” David mumbled. “Still, I wouldn't mind...”


“Doc! Sheriff Jacobs!”


“Oh, what now,” Jacobs grumbled as water poured from his hat brim.


Both men turned to the ghostly form of a man struggling through the mire towards them. With the heavy rain and the darkening skies, the newcomer was almost to them before either man recognized who he was.


“Glad I found you two together,” Wade announced as he approached. “I got some telegrams for both of ya'. Hopefully they ain't too important 'cause everything has been kinda' confusin' at the office. Too much comin' in at once, ya' know?”


“Yeah, yeah Wade,” Jacobs answered him. “Just hand 'em over.”


“Yeah okay.” Wade dug into his slicker and pulled out four envelopes. He frowned as he scrutinized the names on the paper and then had even more trouble reading them as the rain beat upon the ink and sent it all running. “Ahh, yeah jeez. I think these two is for you, Doc, and then these are for you, Sheriff.” He shrugged. “I suppose if they's mixed up, you'll know who's got yers.”


“Uh huh,” Jacobs didn't sound too impressed as he accepted his messages.


“Thank you, Wade,” David was a little more accommodating. “I think I'll take these home and dry them out before I read them.”


“Good idea,” Jacobs agreed. “See ya' later, Doc.”


“Oh, but wait!” Wade stopped them in their tracks. “I got a couple here for Mr. Curry. One fer that lawyer fella and one fer the warden. Any idea where they are?”


Jacobs sent a pointed look to David. David nodded.


“Mr. Granger better still be at my place,” the doctor stated. “Mr. Reece is at John's place. Though I must warn you, he's most likely asleep. Jed Curry is...”


“Right here,” came Jed's voice from out of the gloom. “I would'a been here sooner, but I couldn't find ya'. I thought you were all over at David's place. What happened to the wagon full 'a injured men?”


“It turned out to be a wagon full of the dead,” David informed him cryptically. “You didn't get out of bed for this, did you?”


Jed scowled. “As a matter of fact I did, and then some.” He sighed resignedly. “Still, I'm up now. Might as well go see how Kenny is doing.”


“I got a telegram fer ya', Mr. Curry,” Wade announced as he waved the envelope through the rain drops. “One fer that sheriff friend of yer's, ah Travors? And one for Mr. Reece too. Maybe you could take it to 'im.”


“Yeah sure, why not. The one for Reece in any case,” Jed accepted as he snatched the waving paper out of mid swing. “Headin' there anyway. Lom and Martha should be at the hotel.”


“Okay,” Wade nodded, sending more water splashing about. “I'll make sure he gets it.”


“I got some looters I suppose I can kick loose,” Jacobs announced. “Serve 'em right to have to find their way home in the rain.” He smiled wickedly. “Then explain to their women folk where they've been all day. See you fellas in the morning.”


“Goodnight, Carl.”


“Yeah, goodnight, Sheriff.”


“'night.”


“How are you feeling, Jed?”


“Jeez, David, can't you ever let the doctor go?” Jed asked him. “It's dark, it's wet and it's actually cold out here. I'll see ya' in the morning, alright?”


David smiled and nodded through the rain. Somebody had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this afternoon.


“Yeah okay; you're right,” he agreed as a shiver went through him. Come see me in the morning.”


“Yeah.”


Jed followed along in John's tracks, not that he could see the tracks anymore. The whole street was awash, and if this rain didn't ease up soon they'd be having flash floods to worry about instead of the fire.


He bowed his head and hunched his shoulders against the rain, wishing he had his old reliable sheep skin coat with him right now. His nose wrinkled in reflection. That coat was warm, but boy, when it got wet it could really stink, and Heyes hadn't minded letting him know either. Too many years riding the trails and sitting around camp fires for the odours to be beaten out of that old piece of suede and wool. Still, as another shiver went through him, he conceded that it would be welcome right about now.


He wisely held on to the railing as he walked up the steps to the Mullins' front door. He knew how slippery these wooden boards could get, when a sudden rain storm hit them after days of hot sun. He was sore enough from his excursions without adding to the misery by taking a fall right here on the doctor's front porch.


Coming in under cover, he removed his hat and did the best he could to shake the water off it before pulling the bell and awaiting entrance. Nancy Mullin opened the door and Jed was hit full in the face by the enticing aroma of fresh baked bread and roasting chicken. His stomach growled. Hopefully the sound of the rain pounding on the wood covered it up.


“Howdy Ma'am,” Jed greeted her. “didn't mean to interrupt your supper. Just wonderin' if my friend was awake and up for a visit?”


“Oh Jed! Of course...umm...” Her expression turned to concern as she noted the steady dripping splattering from the sleeves and hem of the light jacket. “Just, yes come in. You can hang your jacket here in the mud room, and perhaps your boots...”


“Aw Ma'am, I think my boots are the only things keepin' the water in,” Jed informed her. “I best leave 'em on 'till I get home. Don't want to risk floodin' ya' outa house and home.”


“Oh.”


“That's alright, young man,” John's voice came from the sitting room, shortly followed by the man himself. He was dressed in his house coat and slippers and was contentedly smoking his pipe. “You go right on in and have a visit. Short one though, don't want to over-tax him.”


“Thanks Doc.”


“Very well.” Nancy smiled up at their dripping guest. “Watch your step. I'll just carry on getting supper ready.”


Nancy disappeared into the kitchen, and Jed felt a moment of uncertainty when John also threatened to retreat.


“Ah Doc, where is he?”


John turned back to the visitor with a crease upon his brow.


“What do you mean?” he asked. “You helped me carry him in there. Don't you remember doing that?”


Jed sighed and shook his head.


Last edited by Keays on Sat May 30, 2015 8:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Chapter seven  Frustration Empty
PostSubject: Re: Chapter seven Frustration   Chapter seven  Frustration EmptySat May 30, 2015 8:03 pm

“I was so tired at that point, I don't remember much 'a anything,” he admitted. “Just point me in the right direction, will ya'?”


John smiled and nodded.


“Of course. It's just that second door on the right. Still, if you find yourself not remembering other things, you let me know, alright? Or let David know.”


“Yeah right,” Jed mumbled sarcastically under his breath as he sloshed his way down the hall. “I tell David that he'll be gettin' me pokin' myself with needles.”


Jed tapped lightly on the appropriate door and opened it just a crack so he could peer in.


Kenny was lying on his back with his eyes closed but looking quite comfortable despite the bruising on his forehead and the sling holding his right arm in place.


“Kenny, you awake?”


Kenny opened his eyes to tired slits, turned toward the voice and then smiled.


“Yes Jed, I'm awake. Come in.”


Jed stepped in, and closing the door behind him, he walked over the to bed and pulled a chair around so he could sit down.


“You're squeaking,” Kenny noticed.


“Yeah, my boots are wet,” Jed explained. “Ain't ya' noticed? It's rainin' like mad out there.”


“It is?” Kenny asked, then lay quiet for a moment, trying to listen. “Ah, I was wondering what that rattling was.”


“You're lookin' better than ya' did last night,” Jed commented. “but you're still kinda' red around the edges. Your eyes are bloodshot.”


“I'm sure you're only seeing a reflection of your own.”


“And your voice is all raspy.”


“Heard yourself lately?”


The two men chuckled, and then both started to cough.


“Oh wow, sorry Ken,” Jed apologized as he cleared his throat. “You want some water?”


“Yeah.”


Jed poured water from the handy pitcher into the convenient glass and set the glass back down on the side table as Kenny struggled to sit up.


“Let me help ya',” Jed offered as he took hold of Kenny's good shoulder and helped to pull him up.


“Thanks,” Ken told him. “You have a polished bedside manner.”


“Yeah, well it comes from years a' nursemaidin' my partner,” Jed confided. “Heyes is no fun at all when he's hurtin'. Here, have a drink.”


Kenny smiled at Jed's griping but accepted the glass and indulged in a satisfying drink.


“Ah, that's better,” he said when he came up for air. “Throat's still awfully sore though.”


“Yeah, mine too.”


“You want some water?”


Their eyes met, and both started chuckling again.


“No, that's alright, Kenny,” Jed assured him as small water droplets danced playfully along the ends of his curls. “I think I've had enough water for now.”


Kenny nodded and placed the glass back on the nightstand. He put a hand to his chest and tentatively took in a couple of deep breaths.


“Ohh,” he complained. “I wonder if this is how Mr. Carlson feels all the time.”


“Never thought of that,” Jed admitted. “I might start treating him with a little more respect from now on.”


“Hmm.”


“Oh!” Jed dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the telegrams. “Got a message here for ya'. Wade figures it's from Sarah.”


Ken noticeably brightened up.


“Oh, what's it say?”


“Just a minute. Let me open it for ya' and then you can read it yourself.”


Jed tore open the seal and unfolded the damp piece of paper. Kenny took it and peered with some concern at the bleeding ink.


“Hmm.”


“Can you read it?”


“Well, let's see.” Kenny squinted and moved the paper closer then further away in the hopes of making the smudged writing more legible. “Umm. 'No answer.' No answer to what?” Jed shrugged. “Ah, and the next word...let's see...'how...ah...you', I think.”


“How are you?” Jed asked.


Kenny shrugged then cringed slightly with the pain it caused. “Yes, I guess.”


“Anything else?”


“Let's see. '...comb...no. Come.' Yes that's it. Next word, hmm...'home? Come over...?'”


“Coming here?” Jed tried to help.


Again, Kenny shrugged but used only one shoulder. Both men turned to the sound of the door bell and then the unmistakable tones of Kenny's soft-spoken wife introducing herself to the couple. There were sounds of recognition from her previous visits for various weddings, then consternation. She pushed through the protesting doctor, and making her way down the hall, instinctively found her way to her husband's room. The door opened and Sarah, dripping wet from her walk from the train station, stood upon the threshold and gazed upon her bedridden husband.


“What am I to do with you?” she asked as relief flooded into her eyes. “When I didn't hear back from you I was fearing the worst.”


“Come,” Kenny said as he held out his arm to her. She quickly came to the bed and sitting on the edge, carefully entered in to her husband's embrace. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you. This is the first telegram I've received.”


Sarah straightened up and took the wet piece of paper from her husband's hand.


“Oh dear,” she mumbled. “This is the third one I sent. The first one was when we got word of the fire. Then I didn't hear from you and...”


“Things have been really crazy here, Sarah,” Jed put in. “We were probably out on the line when the other's arrived. And then...”


“Oh hello Jed,” Sarah smiled at him. “I'm sorry. That was rude. I must have pushed right past you.”


“Yep.”


“What do you mean you were out on the line?” Sarah suddenly changed the subject. “You silly man! You were out there fighting a fire at your age?”


“Ah, I think I'll go now,” Jed interrupted. “I'll just leave you two ta'...well, anyway. I'll see you later, Ken.”


“Yeah, thanks, Jed.”


Jed grinned at the edge of sarcasm in the tone and made a hasty retreat. Suddenly, the two telegrams for him were burning a hole in his pocket. If those messages from Sarah had taken this long to get here, then what were his telegrams all about? And didn't Wade say there were others for Steven and David and Jacobs as well? And Lom too! Jeez! Lom too! They must be from Heyes. Who else could it be? They must be from him. Damn him, he was in trouble again! Fear took hold of him, and he broke into a run, splashing his way towards David's house




Xxx




Yuma Arizona




Sheriff Nugent casually walked the beat of his daily rounds, making sure he put in an appearance at the local trouble spots as a reminder to the troublemakers that he was paying attention. Not surprisingly, the day was hot and most who didn't need to be outside, were taking cover inside the cooler adobe buildings and saving their mischief for the darker hours.


Hearing the jingle of harness in symphony with the beating of cantering hooves on the hard-baked dirt, he turned to watch as the coach and four pulled up in front of the hotel. Hit with sudden inspiration, Nugent followed his eyes and walked over to the stage, noting that the temperature seemed to rise by 10 degrees as he walked past the steaming, lathered horses.


“Hey George,” he greeted the dirt encrusted driver. “Any mail?”


“Yeah, but just the usual,” George answered as he stepped down to the ground. He did the gentlemanly thing and opened the door of the coach for the few passengers he'd brought with him, but had most of his attention on the conversation. “Seems the outlawin' profession is going into a bit of a dip—howdy ma'am. Hotel's right there in front of ya'. Your annual delivery of new wanted posters is the thinnest I've seen yet.”


“I'd say that's a good thing, wouldn't you?” Nugent asked him.


“Might put ya' out of a job—yes sir, right that way. Your luggage will be in directly.”


Nugent snorted through his handlebar moustache.


“Not likely. Enough still goin' on to keep a man like me busy.” He almost rolled his eyes at the thought of what the last few days had been like. This kind of busy he didn't need. “Say George,” the sheriff continued. “You get around a lot,” snort from George. “and you hear things most of us don't. Anything different goin' on up Denver way?”


“Funny you should ask that, Mike,” George commented as he climbed back up onto his coach to throw down the few items of luggage he had strapped up there. “Seems there was quite a fire up that'a way. Ah, it didn't really get that close to Denver though, so might not be affectin' what you might have in mind.”


“Well it might,” Nugent told him. “How big was this fire? Enough to keep people busy?”


“Yeah, from what I hear it was a humdinger,” George informed him. He picked up the mail sack and threw in over the side to land with a dusty thump next to where Nugent was standing. “Folks from all over the outlaying towns and ranches were busy fighting that thing for a few days, if not more. Lots a' timber got lost. Some lives too, I suppose.”


“Really?”


“Yeah.” George jumped down again and hauled open the mail sack. “Here ya' go, Mike. They sure do make them envelopes all fancy and official lookin', don't they.”


“Well, it is from the Governor's Office,” Nugent pointed out as he scrutinized the seal. “So, do you know if a town called Brookswood was anywhere near that fire?”


“Hell, I donno,” George admitted as he heaved the mail sack onto his shoulder and began walking across the street to the mail room at the train station. “Could'a been. Why?”


“Just waiting to hear from some folks up that way!”


“Oh. Well, good luck.”


“Yeah, thanks.”


But George had disappeared into the station and the conversation was closed. He would be back in a few minutes to tend to his rig, but Nugent figured he had coaxed as much information out of him as he was going to. What he had learn was interesting enough. A fire up in that area could account for some of the mystery around Mr. Heyes' references, or lack there-of.


He was just turning to carry on to his office when he was stopped again, only this time it was somebody wanting to talk to him.


“Sheriff Nugent!” came the urgent call, and Nugent turned again to see the telegrapher making a rickety run in his direction. “Sheriff Nugent! Wait!”


“I'm waitin', Clarence,” the sheriff assured him. “don't be giving yourself a stroke, runnin' like that in this heat.”


Clarence came to a gasping stop in front of him and held up a small envelope in exaggerated triumph.


“That telegram you've been waitin' on has just arrived.”


“Oh good.” Nugent took the proffered paper. “But only one? What about the ones Mrs. Heyes sent?”


Clarence deflated. “How should I know? Dang, ain't nothin' good enough for you? You was waitin' to hear back from Brookswood, Colorado, and that's it! Take it or leave it!”


“Alright, alright,” Nugent waved him down a notch. “I was just wondering. Since we sent quite a number, I was expecting more than one response, that's all. I appreciate you bringing it to me.”


“Fine,” Clarence calmed down a bit. “I'll let ya' know if there's any more. Say, is there some kind of convention goin' on in town or something?”


“Convention?” Nugent frowned. “Not that I know of. Why?”


“Cause ole' Doc Shandal sent out a telegram to his good friend Mr. Benson, tellin' him to get hisself down here real quick. Needed him for some kind of a meetin' or something. He seemed real adamant about it too.”


“Really,” Nugent commented with a touch of irony. “I told him to hold off on that until...oh well, maybe it won't matter, now that this telegram has arrived. Besides Clarence, you shouldn't be spreading around what people send in their telegrams. What happened to discretion among telegraphers?”


“Ahhg.” Clarence waved it away. “Yer the law. On top of that, yer family owns half this town anyways. What ya' don't already know, ya' will soon enough. It ain't breakin' no code, tellin' you.”


“Yeah, alright,” Nugent dubiously accepted that; for one thing it was valuable information and he appreciated getting it. “Go get yourself a drink, Clarence. You look all done in.”


“Yeah, yeah,” Clarence grumbled as he pulled off his red bandana and began wiping his sweating brow. “Sure hope this heat breaks soon. All this runnin' around is gettin' hard on an old man.”


The two men parted company, and Nugent continued on his way to the office. He was looking forward to getting into the coolness of that building, where he could go through his mail in some level of comfort. He sighed. Hopefully, Mr. Heyes would be quiet for a change.




Stepping into his office, Nugent quickly looked around and felt a sense of relief wash over him. Heyes and his wife were sitting and talking quietly together. Good. When Mrs. Heyes was around, Mr. Heyes was a lot more manageable and the sheriff felt the need of some quiet for a change.


“Alright Charlie, you can head on out for awhile,” Nugent told his deputy. “Go get some lunch or something.”


This suggestion was followed by the now familiar bang of the front legs of the chair hitting the floor and the deputy took his feet off the desk and straightened up.


“Thanks Sheriff,” he responded. “It's about that time.”


Charlie ambled out of the office and Nugent dropped his official parcel off at his desk, then leaning his butt against that piece of furniture, he casually opened the telegram. He was very much aware of the scrutiny being sent his way by the two people at the cell. They were just finishing up their lunch that apparently the wife had brought over with her, and both had been enticed by the sound of ripping paper.


“I have just received some interesting news,” Nugent informed them as he casually glanced over the slip of paper. “Seems there has been quite a fire causing some havoc up in Arapahoe County. That is where you say you are living now, isn't it?”


Both Heyes and Miranda were on their feet instantly.


“A fire?” Heyes asked.


“On no,” Miranda felt fear clutch her heart. “How bad is it? Is everyone alright? Sally!”


Heyes started pacing, the relaxing lunch now forgotten.


“I don't know the details,” Nugent admitted. “but it might go a long way to explain why you haven't been hearing from anyone. Seems they've been a mite busy. Well, what do ya' know.” Nugent changed topic and smiled over the top of the telegram at the now frazzled couple. “Speak of the devil.”


“What?” asked Heyes.


Nugent stepped forward and handed Heyes the telegram. Heyes took it, and leaning against each other through the bars, he and his wife anxiously read the message.


“It's from the Kid,” Heyes informed the others. “Ahh, 'Sorry. Fire. Everyone fine. D and S on their way. Hold on. J.C.'”


Heyes' shoulders slumped in relief. Miranda smiled and ran an affectionate hand through his bangs.


“Finally,” she said. “And everyone's fine. That would certainly explain it, wouldn't it? If there was a fire, of course everybody would have been busy trying to save the ranches. No wonder we weren't hearing back from anyone. Oh, this is such a relief!”


“They're on their way,” Heyes chuckled, and his whole face relaxed with the relief.


“Still, Sally must be frightened,” Miranda surmised. “Perhaps I should head back.”


“No, no,” Heyes contradicted. “At least wait until David gets here. He can fill us in more on what's happening. Jed said everyone is fine. Besides, I don't want you to go.”


“I don't want you to go either,” Nugent interjected and was met with two slightly astonished looks. “I don't think you realize how hard you are to manage when your wife isn't around, Mr. Heyes,” Nugent explained. “At least when she's here, you stop that irritating pacing and I don't feel daggers stabbing me in the back. So I vote she stays.”


“Oh.”


Miranda smiled at the compliment.


Nugent stepped forward and retrieved the telegram to keep with his records. He had a feeling he might need to keep the paperwork on this strange situation and wanted to remain on top of things.


“Who are D and S?” he asked.


“David is my doctor and Steven is my lawyer,” Heyes informed him. “Both are friends.”


“Fine,” Nugent accepted that as he returned to his desk for the rest of his mail. “If they're lucky enough to get a fast train, they should be here in a couple of days.”


“Hmm, two more days in this place,” Heyes grumbled, yet his obvious relief was infectious.


“At least we know why we didn't hear from them,” Miranda pointed out. “and that they are one their way. Which means that we'll be on our way soon too. We might just make the next coach and not have to rent our own!”


“Ha! That would be convenient,” Heyes agreed. “Hopefully they won't charge us twice since we did miss the first one.”


“I'll make sure they don't,” Nugent commented as he scrutinized his new stack of wanted posters. His brow creased as he took a folded envelope from the pile and opened it up. “Well, what do ya' know about that?” he commented as he finished reading it over. “They actually got back to me.”


Heyes' natural curiosity couldn't help but take the bait. “What?”


Nugent smiled. “It's the document from Wyoming, all stamped and seal official. Despite what you might think of lawmen on the whole, I'm not a total idiot. Right after I detained you, I sent a telegram to the powers that be in Wyoming, informing them of the situation and requesting advice on what to do with you. I admit I'm surprised they got back this quickly.” He focused again on the document in his hand and began to read it out loud. 'Let it be known that Mr. Hannibal Ellstrom Heyes...' Ellstrom? Where'd that come from? Well, anyway...umm 'That Mr. Heyes has been granted a full pardon by the government of Wyoming and is to be considered a legal citizen of the United States. He is to be given full freedoms and is no longer bound by any restrictions other than the laws of the State of Wyoming and of The United States of America.' Well what do you know about that? Seems you were telling the truth after all.”


“Yeah, imagine that,” Heyes grumbled sarcastically. “Does this mean I can go now? That my friends don't have to come all the way down here?”


“Nope, it sure don't.” Nugent informed him. “It seems to me that you will still be in need of both your friends, Mr. Heyes. There is still the matter of your questionable medical condition.”


Heyes sighed and banged his forehead against the bars of his cell, then rested his head against his arm. Miranda reached a hand through and rubbed his shoulder.


“It's only a couple of more days,” she reasoned. “You should have a copy of your pardon on you anyway, and David is bringing your medication. And this time we will keep it with us, won't we Sweetheart?”


“Yes, Dear,” came the muffled baritone from his shirt sleeve.


Nugent chuckled. “Besides,” he commented. “I have word that Dr. Shandal has already summoned his friend Benson, and that worthy gentleman will likely be here by tomorrow. You're going to want to have both your professionals on hand for that.”


Nugent instantly regretted releasing this information as the atmosphere in the office darkened. The power of the ex-outlaw's charismatic personality came bursting from its seams and actually sent shock waves out from the cell to impact against the walls of the office. Even the experienced lawman felt an instant of apprehension as Heyes raised his head up from its resting position on his arm, his dark brown eyes turning to black.


“He's on his way?” Heyes reiterated. “He was suppose to wait until my own doctor could get here. I have that right! You said...”


“Hannibal...”


“I know, I know!” Nugent stood up and raised a placating hand. “Shandal did it behind my back. But he's not going to get away with it. You do have the right to your own doctor and your own legal council. No papers will get signed, and nobody is going anywhere until that happens.”


“Well why can't you just let me out?” Heyes demanded. “I won't go anywhere, I promise. I just need to get out of this damn cell!”


“Can't do it,” Nugent denied him. “It doesn't sound right to me, but what if ole' Doc Shandal is correct and what you got is contagious? I let out of there and you're walking around town, spreading that epa...whatever everywhere you go. I can't take that chance.”


“If it was contagious then you have already been exposed to it!” Heyes countered. “Your deputy too, as well as my wife, and you're all walking around town!”


“You're not helping your case here, Mr. Heyes,” Nugent warned him. “But you're right. The fact that your wife has been in your company for some time, and apparently hasn't shown any signs of the disease, makes me highly sceptical that it is contagious. But I have to do things by the book here. You will stay in that cell until your doctor can show that you are not a risk to yourself or to others.”


“Arrggg!” Heyes grabbed the bars in his frustration and tried to rattle them, though he wasn't too successful.


Nugent threw up his arms in defeat and returned to his desk to focus on his paperwork. He was quite content to let Mrs. Heyes deal with the bear now.


“Come on Hannibal, calm down,” Miranda soothed as she continued to rub his back. “Would you like me to get some good coffee from the restaurant? Actually some tea and scones would be nice right about now. It'd help you to relax.”


“Hmm.”


“Would you like me to bring you another book?” she continued. “How about a couple of those nickel novels you bought? Those might be good for a laugh. I might just sit here over tea and scones and read them with you. I always wanted to find out more about your life as an outlaw, and what better place to go?”


“Yeah, right.”


“I'm sure they must be quite accurate,” she continued, facetiously. “The authors wouldn't be able to publish them if they hadn't done their research, now would they?”


“Snort.”


“Those books are probably better than your own memories,” she insisted. “We all know how time can erode our recollections. Let me go get them. If nothing else, they'll help pass the time. Alright?”


“Yes, I suppose so.”


Miranda gave him one final shoulder rub and headed for the front door. She and Nugent locked eyes for a moment and she smiled at him. The sheriff felt relief wash over him and he snuck a glance towards the prisoner. Mr. Heyes did seem to calm down some and Nugent cocked a smile as it occurred to him that Mr. Heyes had indeed married the right woman.


Somewhere along the way, Mrs. Heyes had snared Charlie into helping her bring a bag full of dime novels and a fully laden tray from the hotel over to the office. Charlie had looked a bit awkward delivering that tea service and Nugent hoped he wouldn't trip over his own spurs and make a mess of things.


Fortunately, the clumsy deputy managed to handle the job and soon, Miranda was seated in her usual place by the bars and the couple were enjoying the company and their respite.


Nugent didn't want to leave the office until he was sure the prisoner had settled enough to not cause any problems. He sent Charlie out to do the afternoon rounds and settled in to read the newspaper and drink coffee.


It wasn't long before laughter from the cell began to disturb the seriousness of the daily news, and the sheriff found his curiosity piqued. He stood up, and trying not to be too intrusive, he intruded on the couple, who were hunched over and reading a small book.


“What do you have there?” the sheriff asked.


Miranda smiled up at him, he eyes twinkling with merriment.


“You won't believe how ridiculous these stories are!” she laughed. “How in the world do they get away with writing this stuff?”


“Let's see,” Nugent requested and held out a hand.


Heyes felt a momentary irritation, but Miranda instantly handed him a book, then stood up and began pointing out certain passages for him to read.


“Look at this!” she said with a giggle. “Can you imagine?”


“Oh good heavens.”


“And here!” she exclaimed, flipping the pages to another section. “They actually have Hannibal shaking hands with Marshal Morrison, and they become good buddies.”


“Even I know that's not likely,” Nugent commented.


Heyes chuckled, his irritation passing and he stood up with another book.


“Look here,” he instructed as he passed the book through the bars and pointed out the section. “This one claims I have a twin brother running around impersonating me and causing all sorts of trouble. Apparently my parents didn't die in the raid, they got divorced instead, and they each took one of us to raise. Imagine two of me running around!”


Nugent laughed. “That would explain a lot.”


“And where is that one you were looking at, Randa?” Heyes asked. “Where the Kid kidnapped the Mayor's daughter, and they actually fall in love. Of course, knowing the Kid that's not really too far-fetched, but the Mayor's daughter? That's supposed to be my story!”


“The mayor's daughter, huh?”


“Yeah!” Heyes nodded. “And in this one...” he reached to his cot and grabbing another book he waved it under the sheriff's nose. “Talk about blood and guts. Apparently I made a habit of running around and murdering deputies. Better tell Charlie to watch his step. No wonder I got twenty years to life.”


“It was your idea to go for the amnesty?” Nugent asked as he flipped through another book.


“Well...” Heyes looked a little sheepish. “Actually no. It was the Kid's. I didn't think we could get it. I didn't even want to try, but Kid, he kinda' talked me into it.”


“Hmm, says here it was the other way around,” Nugent commented as he read. “Says that he was constantly wanting to rob banks and trains and that you were always having to keep him on the straight and narrow.”


Heyes' brow creased in indignant irritation.


“What!?” he demanded as he snatched the book away from the sheriff.


Nugent cocked a brow at him but then pointed out the passage.


Heyes' lips tightened. “That's not right at all,” he refuted. “I mean, we both had our moments of weakness, but we tended to keep each other going. Damn, that's not right at all. Maybe I should hire Steven to sue this idiot. He's got no call to run the Kid down like that.”


“Hannibal, relax,” Miranda was trying not to laugh at her husband's indignation. “They're just silly novels. You can't take them seriously.”


“I suppose,” Heyes agreed. “Still, it would be nice if they could get some of the facts straight.”


“It says here that you were the mastermind,” Miranda pointed out. “They got that right.”


Heyes grinned. “Yeah, they did, didn't they?”


Before too long, Nugent was leaning against the bars of the cell, and the three of them were flipping through the books and laughing at all the different scenarios that make up the context of a typical dime novel. By the time Charlie returned to let the sheriff go get his own supper, the atmosphere in the office was one of joviality, and the deputy did a quick check to make sure he was in the right place.


“Ahh, Sheriff? You wanna go fer yer supper break?”


“Oh yes,” Nugent straightened up and returned to the front. “Yes, thank you, Charlie. I believe I'll do just that.”


“Okay. Ahh, ya want me ta' take the night shift?” he asked. “You been here most 'a the day.”


Nugent's expression became more serious, and he sent a quick glance to the cell. Heyes and Miranda had returned to their seated positions and were quietly talking to one another. Things were calmed down now, but Nugent wondered what the quieter night would bring, when Heyes' overactive mind would start to spin and he didn't have his wife for company.


“No,” he told his deputy. “I think I'll stay here tonight. I'll get some sleep in the other cell there, if I'm a mind to.”


“You sure?” Charlie asked hopefully; he hated night shift. “I don't mind stayin'.”


“I'm sure,” Nugent put his deputy's fears to rest. “I'll get some supper and be right back.”


“Okay.”


“Mrs. Heyes?”


Miranda looked over at them. “Yes?”


“I'm going to get my supper right now,” he informed her. “I'll be bringing your husband's meal back with me afterwards. Would you like me to bring you something as well?”


“Oh yes. Thank you Sheriff. I would appreciate that.”


“Fine.”


“I could do with a beer, Sheriff.”


“Ah huh. Charlie, I'll see you in an hour or so.”


“Yessir, Sheriff.”


Sheriff Nugent did decide to stretch the rules a little bit after all. With help from the barman, he included a beer for his prisoner and a glass of wine for his wife to have with their supper. Both were surprised and pleased with the addition and they got comfortable, settling in to eat.

The evening passed by pleasantly enough, considering the circumstances. The couple sat and spoke quietly together while the sheriff busied himself with the never-ending paperwork. By 10:00 Miranda was struggling to keep her eyes open, and as much as Heyes wanted his wife's company, he sent her off to the hotel to get some rest.


Watching her lovely figure walking away, he sighed with resignation and then settled himself onto his cot. He knew the night would pass slowly, they usually did under these circumstances. He glanced toward the sheriff who was still sitting at his desk, illuminated by the soft light that was never totally extinguished, and knew that the lawman would probably be up most of the night himself.


He knew that he was the cause of the sheriff's enforced lack of sleep, but he didn't care. Served him right, detaining innocent people who were only looking to enjoy their honeymoon. Heyes sighed again and rolled over, away from the light and tried to settle in to sleep.


Xxx


The following day started out quietly enough. Too quiet as far as Heyes was concerned. This day after day of pacing around his cell was beginning to feel too much like 'old home week', with Sheriff Turner as company. The main difference being that he wasn't getting even an hour a day relief from the confines of this cell. Nor did he have the pleasure of Mike's stimulating conversation.


'Was that a joke?', Heyes thought to himself. Things couldn't be too bad if he still had his sardonic sense of humour. But then again, it was when things got bad that his thoughts became more sardonic. He sighed and tried to relax.


At least his main visitor was far more appreciated than any he had received in Cheyenne. He wasn't sure how he would be getting through this if it wasn't for Miranda. He would have managed somehow, but having her standing by him made the situation far more tolerable than it would have been otherwise.


Then, just after Miranda had left to tend to lunch, the day took a turn for the worse. The apparent coincidental timing of the visit was not lost on the prisoner, and his hackles rose at the sound of the doctor's voice.


“Deputy,” Shandal greeted the lawman. “Good to see you so diligently attending to your duties.”


A loud snort emanated from the desk area, followed by the customary banging of chair legs on the wooden floor.


“What the hell!” Charlie grappled to his feet, whisking yesterday's paper into the atmosphere. “Oh Doc. Jeez, ya' shouldn't come sneakin' up on a body that'a way. I might'a shot ya' or something.”


“Yes, quite,” was the doctor's cryptic response. “This is Dr. Benson. He's here to examine the prisoner.”


Heyes had stopped his casual stroll as soon as he'd heard Shandal's irritating voice. Now on high alert as every muscle in his body tensed, like a cat ready to scramble for the nearest cover. The fact that here was no cover, created such intense energy within the confines of the cell that the other three men present looked his way with apprehension.


“Ah...yeah,” Charlie recovered himself. “Howdy there, Doc.”


“How do you do, Deputy,” Benson extended a hand. “Is this the patient in question?”


Without waiting for an answer, Benson stepped over to the cell, but made sure to stop well out of range of the man confined within it.


Where Shandal was tall and thin, and crooked in his stance, Benson was quite the opposite. A portly man, deprived of extensive height, he made up for it by adopting a straight posture with shoulders back and head held high.


It gave him a haughty look that implied good breeding and an even better education. It also gave him the appearance of looking down his nose at his subject even though Heyes stood two inches taller.


Last edited by Keays on Sun May 31, 2015 10:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

Keays

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Location : Camano Island Washington

Chapter seven  Frustration Empty
PostSubject: Re: Chapter seven Frustration   Chapter seven  Frustration EmptySun May 31, 2015 11:00 am

The two men stared at each other, neither one wavering from the intensity of the other. Silence and heat simmered through the office as one minute turned into two, and neither man moved.


Finally, Dr. Benson smiled and he stepped forward, offering his hand.


Heyes stepped back from this unexpected event. He had dealt with too many snakes in the grass to be taken in by a friendly smile and an extended hand.


“Oh come, come, Mr. Heyes,” Benson chided him. “No need for concern. I only wish to speak with you.”


“Ahh...” Charlie stepped between the prisoner and the two doctors. “I'm not so sure that's a good idee.”


“Why not?” Benson asked most innocently. “I'm merely here to have a visit. Is the prisoner not allowed visitors?”


“Well...”


“Don't listen to him, Deputy,” Heyes advised from his cell. “Now, you know my own doctor is on his way here, right?”


“Well, yeah.”


“And you also know that the sheriff said that I have the right to my own doctor and lawyer to be present before anything happened. Right!”


“Yeah, that's true.”


“What's going to happen?” Benson asked. “A simple exchange of information is all.”


“Yeah, I suppose.”


“Deputy!” Heyes was beginning to feel desperate. “Wait until the sheriff gets back!”


The deputy nodded, trying to look confident. “Yeah.”


“Where is the sheriff?” Shandal enquired.


“Aw, he's just gone out ta' the Miller place,” Charlie informed them. “Somethin' about a missing cow.”


“Will he be back soon?” Shandal continued.


“You know he won't be!” Heyes accused him. “That's why you waited before coming here. You knew he'd be gone for the afternoon!”


“Oh really, Mr. Heyes,” Shandal protested. “I can hardly predict a stolen cow. Besides, this is very much to our disadvantage that the sheriff is not here. Dr. Benson's time is valuable. He has his own practice to get back to.”


“Doubly disappointing then, since his services are not required,” Heyes pointed out. “As I said; my own doctor is on his way and will be here by morning.”


“All I need is to ask Dr. Shandal's patient a few easy questions,” Benson interjected. “What's the harm in that? Really. I'm sure Sheriff Nugent wouldn't mind.”


The deputy wavered again. “Yeah, I suppose.”


“But I mind!” Heyes felt like he was losing ground. “This was not what was agreed to—and you know it!”


Shandal tried to straighten up against the protest.


“I agreed that you could bring your own doctor all the way down here if you insisted,” he stated. “I also warned Sheriff Nugent that it would be a waste of time since I could get a second doctor here much faster. And here he is. It is your doctor whose services will not be required.”


“I'm not answering any of your questions without my lawyer here!” Heyes insisted. “Now who's wasting their time?”


“Apparently your lawyer,” Benson put in. “I can already see, even without asking you any questions, that you are an extremely unstable gentleman. Even if I did not know of your past history, Mr. Heyes, I can deduct that your illness has a firm hold upon your senses. We don't need a lawyer present to sign the papers.”


Heyes tried to force himself to calm down.


“Deputy,” he said pointedly. “You know you don't have the authority to make this kind of decision...”


“It's not his decision to make...”


“No it isn't!” Heyes cut Shandal off. “It's up to Sheriff Nugent. No prisoner can be released from his custody without his knowledge and consent. Isn't that right, Deputy?”


Charlie scratched his head. “Well, that sounds right.”


“That's because it is right,” Heyes pushed his point.


“Deputy,” Benson showed sympathy. “this man is playing you. You know who he is and what he is capable of. We're not asking you to release him into our custody. We simply wish to ask him a few simple questions. What is the harm in that?”


“Well, nothin'. I guess.”


“What in the world!?”


All four men turned in the direction of Miranda's voice. She stood in the frame of the open doorway, a small stack of books in her arms and a basket, presumably filled with light snacks for the afternoon, hanging off her arm. Her expression was one of thunder and dark clouds. She came in, preparing to do battle.


“Oh thank goodness,” Heyes mumbled.


“Oh damn!” Shandal let loose.


“Oh, Mrs. Heyes. Yeah.” Charlie almost wiped the sweat from his brow. “I sure am glad to see you.”


“Dr. Shandal! What are you doing here?” Miranda asked pointedly. “We had an agreement.”


“Ma'am,” Benson turned, giving her the same smile he had given to her husband. “I assure you we meant no disrespect...”


“Like hell you didn't!”


Benson blinked his surprise, while Heyes allowed his first smile of this encounter to play on his lips.


“Ma'am, there's no reason to become distraught,” Benson assured her patronizingly. “I can understand you suffering from the vapours, considering what you've had to deal with, but I assure you, we are here to take that concern from your mind.”


“Get out,” Miranda ordered dangerously.


“Ma'am, calm yourself.”


“Deputy!” Miranda strode purposefully towards the desk. “Remove these men from this office. Now!”


“Ma'am?” Charlie looked spooked.


“They have no right to be here,” Miranda continued with a vengeance. “They can return when my husband's lawyer arrives, but not before.” Seeing the hesitation in the deputy's eyes, she turned her wrath upon the two doctors and her hackles rose. “Get out!” she ordered with a finger pointed at the door. “I do not give you permission to speak with my husband. Leave!”


Benson began to retreat, with dignity.


“Ma'am, obviously you are distraught,” he observed discreetly. “Perhaps it would be better if we returned when the sheriff is present. Let's go, Angus. We wouldn't want Mrs. Heyes to have an episode.”


“Indeed not, Frederick,” Shandal agreed and the two men headed quickly for the front door. “I'm so sorry about this, but you know how women can get, especially when they have been exposed to an affliction of the brain such as this.”


“You're quite right, Angus. Not your fault,” Benson's voice faded away as the men disappeared. “We'll get this situation dealt with...”


Miranda sighed with relief and turned back to her husband.


“What presumption!” she declared. “They must have known we wouldn't allow that!”


Heyes sat down on his cot, his knees weak with the reaction to the stress.


“I guess they though it was worth a try,” he commented. dryly. “Thank goodness you came in when you did. An 'overwrought female' was probably more than they bargained for.”


“They seemed reasonable enough to me,” Charlie said as he went back to his chair. “What?”


Heyes and Miranda had both sent him astonished looks, but he was still oblivious to the problem.


“When is Sheriff Nugent due back?” Heyes asked.


Charlie shrugged. “I donno. Depends on the situation. You were here when he got the call, so you know just as much as I do. Before dark anyway.”


Heyes practically groaned. The deputy wasn't right about much, but he was right about that. Heyes had just been hoping for a different answer. Nightfall was still hours away.


“Don't worry about it, Hannibal,” Miranda soothed him. “I won't leave until the sheriff gets back. They won't dare return here while I'm standing guard.”


Heyes laughed out loud. “Yes, you're probably right about that!”


Fortunately Sheriff Nugent returned well before sundown and was brought up to date on the happenings of the day.


“Damn that man!” he cursed. “Trust him to try and pull something like that. Well, at least you didn't let him get away with it, Charlie. That was smart thinking on your part.”


“Yessir Sheriff,” Charlie accepted the praise. “My gut instincts let me know that somethin' weren't right about it. I chased 'em off, that's fer sure.”


“Good man.” Nugent took off his hat and ran a hand through his short cropped hair. “I could use some supper. You alright to stay on duty another hour or so? Then I'll relieve you for the night.”


“Yessir, Sheriff, that'll be fine.”


Nugent came over to the cell and leaned against the bars.


“I suppose you'll be wanting a beer with supper again tonight?”


Heyes grinned.


“Well, you know, that was a pretty harrowing experience this afternoon,” he played it up. “A beer or two sure would help to calm my nerves.”


“Oh, so now it's two is it?” Nugent noticed. “And how about you ma'am? Two glasses of wine?”


“Actually,” Miranda looked sheepish. “I already brought a bottle of wine with me to have with supper.”


Nugent's brows went up. “Really?” he commented. “You realize that smuggling alcohol in for the prisoners is against regulations.”


“But I didn't smuggle it in for the prisoner,” Miranda rationalized. “I brought it for me.”


“Uh huh,” Nugent shook his head but smiled. “Alright. After all this nonsense you've had to put up with, I suppose it can be overlooked. I'll be back in about an hour.”


“Thank you, Sheriff!” Heyes called after him as he left. “I really do appreciate that!”




Later that evening, Heyes was feeling a warm buzz, having downed two beers and then helped his wife polish off the bottle of wine. It was getting late, and the quiet of the evening permeated the interior of the building to the point where everyone was feeling a little sleepy.


“What do you think?” Miranda quietly asked as they sat with heads close together and hands holding through the bars. “Are you alright now? Will you sleep tonight?”


“I think so.” And to support his point, he yawned. “The beer is helping. And David and Steven should be here soon. That's good news.”


“Are you worried about Benson?”


Heyes nodded. “Yeah. That man is no idiot. We can handle Shandal on his own, but Benson just might be the man to get things done. That does have me worried.”


“The sheriff isn't going to let anything happen before David gets here,” Miranda reminded him. “He assured you of that.”


“Yeah. He also assured me that Shandal wouldn't bring his friend here unless there was no other recourse,” Heyes pointed out. “Yet, here he is.”


“They can't just sign the papers and have you committed,” Miranda insisted. “That can't be legal.”


“But it is!” Heyes protested. “If Shandal can get a second doctor to sign, then they can do it. I could be gone by the time David gets here.”


“I won't let them,” Miranda stated point-blank. “I'm your wife. Would I not have final say in this?”


“Not if they're convinced that you're affected as well.”


“Sheriff Nugent won't let them,” Miranda countered. “He still holds the keys to this cell. You're not going anywhere without his knowledge and consent.”


“He might be just as happy to be rid of me,” Heyes griped. “Grab any excuse.”


Miranda sent him the look.


“I don't get the impression that Sheriff Nugent is that type of lawman,” she reminded him. “I don't think that you do either, you're just looking for something to be negative about.”


“I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic,” Heyes insisted. “I know how things can go wrong. David and Steven could be delayed, and Nugent gets tired of waiting for them. Maybe they won't have the right paperwork with them. Maybe their train will get robbed or derailed—or both! Anything could happen.”


“Or maybe they'll get here on time and everything will work out,” Miranda suggested. “Then all your worrying will have been for nothing.” She smiled and gave his hand a pat. “Try to relax and get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning.”


“Easy for you to say.”


“That's not fair,” Miranda responded. “Do you really think this is easy on me? I've hardly slept a wink. I'm worried too, you know. I'm simply trying not to let it take over.” She squeezed his hand. “We'll get through this, just like we've gotten through everything else. I miss you.”


“How can you miss me?” he asked. “You're here with me all day. I would think you'd be getting bored with all this by now.”


Miranda gave him a wicked smile. “I didn't mean in that sense.”


Heyes grinned, his dimples wanting to play. He sent a quick look to the sheriff to make sure he was occupied, then leaned forward and gave his wife a kiss through the bars. Once he started, he couldn't stop. They quietly stood up, and Heyes' arm came through the bars and encircled her waist. He pulled her up against him until he could feel every curve of her body pressing through the barrier and squeezing up against him.


Their kisses became more passionate, and Heyes felt Miranda's hands slide down his back begin to caresses his buttocks. Her grip tightened and she pulled him in even closer to her and she could feel his erection. He knew he shouldn't, he knew there was no point, but his body began to thrust ever so gently. He missed her. He wanted her. He couldn't help himself.


A discreet cough coming from the front desk dumped cold water on the lovemaking. Both participants sighed regretfully and pulled away from one another.


“I better go,” Miranda whispered.


Heyes nodded and brought her hand up to his mouth and kissed it.


She caressed his face. “Soon,” she assured him.


She stepped back and subconsciously straightened her blouse, then with a final smile to her husband she made her way toward the front door.


“Goodnight, Sheriff.”


Nugent tipped his head. “Ma'am.”




It was getting on to 11:00 pm when the sheriff yawned and stretched. His final cup of coffee sat cold and barely touched on his desk. He considered warming it up a touch before getting some shut-eye but decided against it. He was coffeed out. He looked over towards the prisoner and was relieved to see the man apparently asleep. No snores were coming from the cot, but generally when Mr. Heyes was by himself, if he wasn't pacing or reading, then he was asleep.


Nugent sighed. This had been one hell of a week. Damn, it wasn't even a full week since he'd 'detained' Mr. Heyes, but it sure felt like it. Heyes was not a man who took well to confinement, and Nugent wondered how he'd managed to get through five years behind bars without going mad. It sure must have been hard time.


Nugent regretted having to detain him. The sheriff came from a well established family in these parts, and as a whole, they were always involved in the governing of the town to some degree or another. Two separate terms as sheriff had also given him experience and insight into the natures of mankind, and he was not easily fooled by slick talkers.


Hannibal Heyes' reputation had preceded him, but even at that, the sheriff knew the man had been telling the truth about his current circumstances. Unfortunately, the ex-convict had not had the proper paperwork on him, and the last correspondence the sheriff had received from the Wyoming officials was that Hannibal Heyes came with conditions. If he showed up in town without legal escort, or even worse, was attempting to leave the country, then he was to be detained and Wyoming immediately informed of the situation.


Nugent's hands had been tied. He was legally obliged to arrest him. Now that he had received official word from Wyoming, he would have liked nothing better than to unlock that cell door and let the couple carry on with their honeymoon. What an inconvenient state of affairs this was! Now, with this new situation brought on by Dr. Shandal, the sheriff was again put into a position where he had to stick to the law, rather than do what he felt was the right thing.


Shandal was a decent enough doctor for most things, but he could be a real pain sometimes, and once he got onto his high horse about something, it was almost impossible to unseat him. Nugent might have more respect for Shandal if the doctor had kept himself up to date on medical advances. But that wasn't the case, and Nugent knew it. The man had earned his medical degree 40 odd years ago and seemed to think that there was nothing new to add to that. What he knew 40 years ago was good enough then, so it should be good enough now.


Nugent had never heard of Epilepsy before and had no idea what caused it, but he had very strong doubts about it being a contagion. As far as he knew, Mr. Heyes had never been quarantined, not even in prison. He'd been living in the same town for nearly two years and had a friendship that spanned his entire lifetime. His doctor and lawyer had apparently both dropped everything to get down here to assist him, and that in itself spoke volumes. Not to mention, his wife came across as a very intelligent and levelheaded woman—thank goodness! No signs of madness there.


From what the sheriff could tell, nobody in Mr. Heyes' circle of friends, family or acquaintances had come down with this disease. It would not take much for another, perhaps more educated medical man, to convince the sheriff that Mr. Heyes was healthy and that the seizures were harmless to everyone but the man himself.


Well, hopefully all this would be sorted out in another couple of days. If Shandal thought that getting his friend over here quickly was going to be to his advantage, he was wrong. The sheriff had assured the prisoner that he was entitled to his own doctor and to legal representation, and Nugent was going to make damn sure he got it. Shandal and Benson were not even going to get near Mr. Heyes again until all parties were present.


Nugent yawned again. He pushed himself to his feet and stretched his full length until he heard his bones crack. Time to get some shut-eye. He picked up his coffee cup and went over to the stove, where he dumped the cup's remnants into the now cold coffee pot. He took the pot out through the back door and dumped those remains into the little garden back there that old lady McDonnell liked to keep. That old biddy could grow anything, and the fresh veggies in the Spring were a nice substitute for the canned variety.


He closed and locked the back door, returned the empty pot to the stove and went to check the front door. All was locked up and secure. He went around the office, turning out all the lamps but one, and then that one he took with him to the empty cell right next to Heyes' abode. He set the lamp down, pulled off his boots and turned down the wick to where it was just barely giving off light. He always kept a light burning low when there were prisoners in the jail, so he was used to sleeping in semi-darkness. He was tired anyway—it would take an awful lot to keep him awake tonight.
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