Lonesome on the Prairie
My old horse had just stepped into a gopher hole the poor girl now had a broken leg. I had had her, for a while now several years. She had been about 6 when I had gotten her. Sandy was a sorrel Tennessee Foxtrotted. I knew what I had to do. I didn’t want too. I took a piece of peppermint candy from my pocket and unwrapped it and gave it to her. She had always loved the candy. I pulled my Smith and Wesson revolver, and placed the barrel between her eyes, and eased the trigger back ending her pain forever.
I sat down there next to her, and I cried. I was heartbroken. Most people would think a man in my position would be heartless, but I was just the opposite of that. I hated to kill, although it was a necessary part of my profession. One I had chosen to help bring law and order to this country, and some money to my pockets.
I got up pulled off my saddle, and gear, and slung them over my shoulder. I had better start walking because no one would be by to check on me. From my best estimate I was ten miles from any town, and I didn’t know of any settlers out this way.
This met I would have to let the man go who I had been trailing. I didn’t want too, for he had a large bounty on his head. He was a bad one like so many. He was wanted for robbery, murder and rape. I never like to see that kind of filth get away. They were the worst kind of vermin.
It was midafternoon, and ten miles would take me a while to walk. These boots were not high heeled cowboy boots, but they still were not made for walking. When I had been in the War Between the States I had been in the infantry. I walked or marched everywhere I went. That had been years before. I swore then I would never walk any further than across the street again. This would be my first big walk in years, and I was walking into the setting sun. The sun was in my eyes, and I pulled my hat down to shade them. There was little wind, and the sun was hot.
The ground before me was clear, flat, and should be easier to travel then some places I had been. I was now in western Kansas west of Dodge City.
As I watched the sun slowly descend I knew that there would again be another beautiful sun set. As the sun reflected off the clouds it would paint the sky. The colors were something I never grew tired of. It was then that I caught the faint smell of smoke. There was only just the slightest breeze from the southwest. I turned in that direction to see the source rising from a small sod house. It sat there almost completely out of sight.
I hadn’t seen any sign of other people in hours. This was the first promising indication I had seen. If I could buy a horse here I wouldn’t have to walk all the way to town.
I just turned in that direction and kept walking once I could see the dugout I could tell that it had been that of a sod buster. However, the ground had not been turned over, but there was a small garden and chickens running around. I also saw a small shed, and corrals. In one corral was an old milk cow, and she looked to have been milked daily. In the other corral were two horses, and a big black mule.
There was a slender young woman at a clothesline. She was taking clothes from it and placing them in to a basket by her feet.
She wore a thin gown worn almost sheer she hid nothing. I couldn’t help, but to look closer.
A dog barked in the yard as I walked up I had gotten almost to the young woman before he noticed me. “Good evening ma’am,” I said, and she didn’t even blush, but turned to me.
“Good evening to you sir.”
“I’ve lost my horse, and I was wondering if I could buy one, is your man around?”
“Yep he is right there,” and she pointed to a small cross next to the house.
“I am sorry ma’am.”
“Indians got him. Killed him about a month ago. I hid under the porch and listen to them kill him. I don’t know why they left the stock. They just tortured him for hours and left.”
“Has anyone else been by here to help you?” “No, you’re the first man I’ve seen since then, come in.”
I picked up her basket of clothes and followed her into the house.
“Have a seat,” she said, and she poured me a cup of coffee. “I will fix you something to eat.”
I watched as the beautiful woman started fixing dinner. She moved elegantly, and I couldn’t help but stare at her. Her hips swayed as she busied herself in the kitchen. “You have been out here by yourself all this time?”
“Yes, and I’m getting a little low on supplies. I’ve been thinking of leaving now that Bill is dead, but what life would I have after this? I would have to be a whore just to get by.”
“Ma’am I don’t think you would need to be a whore do you realize how beautiful you are?”
“I know I am attractive.”
“What’s your name may I ask?”
Susan turned from the stove, and brought the dishes heaped with roast pork and beans. She bent over and sat them down. I could see her bosom, and had a difficult time remaining a gentleman. Susan sat there with me, and we ate dinner.
“I will give you a horse if you take me with you,” said Susan. “I won’t be any trouble, but I just can’t stay here any longer. I am lonely and being alone is making me crazy.”
I was interested in this beautiful woman that I had stumbled on to. She was very pretty and was making an offer that would be hard to resist. “My name is Robert Rossi. I am a U.S. Marshal stationed out of Denver. I will take you back to Denver with me, and we can see how we get along,” I said. Susan looked up at me, and for the first time I saw those emerald green eyes sparkle at me. They had a mischievous look that went along with her facial expressions.
“I tell you what cowboy you’re going to love me before this night is through.”
Susan sat a bucket of water on the stove to heat. “First thing Robert you’re getting a bath you smell like a goat.”
“Susan I’ve been walking in this hot sun for hours how would you expect me to smell?”
“Bill use to get to smelling like that after he had worked outside all day. I always had him a bath ready every night.”
There was a wash tub there by the stove, and she dumped the hot water in it, and said “Get in the tub cowboy. Let me have those clothes, and I will wash them.”
I shucked my clothes, and she took them setting them aside. Susan then took a scrub brush to me and was washing my back. The next thing I knew she was in the tub with me. We bathed each other, and dripping wet I carried her to the bed, and we made love.
I woke the next morning to the smell of biscuits hot out of the oven, but my thoughts were on the night before. She had been right by morning I would be in love with her. As I looked across the one room sod house Susan stood naked at the oven. She must have sensed me staring at her because she turned around and smiled. Seeing that I was a wake she came back to bed, and we made love once more.
The Ride to Denver
I had never met a woman like her. Susan was beautiful. After we made love that first morning we sat down together and had breakfast. Susan could cook too. I was completely taken in by her. It was as if I had come up on an oasis in this vast prairie.
“I will pack us some provisions for our ride and get dressed in some riding clothes. We can pack the supplies on the mule. If you want to go saddle the mule, and horses up there are two saddles out there. Saddle the mare for me and put the other on the mule so I can tie on our supplies. You can put your gear on the gelding he was Bill’s.”
“Alright I will go get them saddled.”
One thing I did notice is how clean everything looked. The house was clean, the barn was clean, the tack was cleaned, and oiled. Susan seemed to be obsessed with cleanliness. This was ok, but to an extreme it seemed unnatural. Many people dealt with grief differently. I’ve seen it before in some of the circumstances I had been in. I would rather take clean over those who became filthy, unclean, and uncaring. In most cases that’s what happened to those who had experienced loss.
After I saddled the two horses, and the mule I led them to the house. I looped the reins over the rail that stood before it. Susan came out dresses in brown pants that showed off the curve of her hips, a blue shirt unbuttoned half way down showing a hint of her breast, with black pointed toe riding boots. She had a wide brim straw hat on her head, and a red wild rag tied around her neck. She was gorgeous. She brought out several bags and I tied them to the mule.
“Here Robert could you please tie these bags on to Lester the mule for us.”
“Why yes I would be glad too. What do you want me to do with the cow?”
“She will follow us just turn her out she is like a pet.”
I walked out and open the corral, and let the jersey out, and she walked up behind the horses.
Susan had gone back in, and I waited on her. I didn’t wait long. She came out, turned around, and looked at the old sod house. She had some red ribbon and she walked over to her husband’s grave bent down on her knees and prayed. She took the ribbon and tied it to the cross.
Susan walked back to me with tears in her eyes “Bill had been my only lover my first love. We came out here together from St Louis.”
I helped her on to the mare, and we stated west towards Denver the cow followed along with the Blue tick hound. The chickens were left in the yard.
We rode along in silence, for hours I was waiting on her to talk. I knew she needed my comfort last night, for she had been lonely. I didn’t know if she loved me, or if this was just a part of her grief, and this would pass. I was going to treat her with kindness, and care.
We rode until dark at a steady walk. That night we camped along a creek. The water came from the Rocky Mountains, and was clear, and cold. Susan stripped off and bathed in the cold water insisting that I join her we both endured the cold water to wash off the trail dust. The cold water made her body have goose bumps. I enjoyed the effect the cold had on her appearance. Although I was cold we got out sooner than I would have wanted.
Susan looked over at the tall man she had taken up with. He was handsome with his dark hair, and mustache. He had dark brown eyes, and a dimple on his cheek when he smiled. He was kind to her, and a gentle lover.
Here along the creek trees had grown. There were tall cotton woods, and maples. I gather the dead fall, and soon had a fire started to cook our meal. I had earlier cared, for our stock. The care of your animals is always very important, and they respond well to a person who truly cared for them.
Susan unpacked as I made the fire, and we opened a can of beans, for our supper. She had brought a loaf of bread, and we had that and butter, although the butter was very soft and didn’t pack well. She had a jar of jam and we spread that on the bread, and dinner was pretty good.
I turned two saddles over for our pillows and took the thick sleeping rolls out rolling them out to sleep on. It was a warm night, and we poured the last of the coffee over the coals. I walked over to my bed roll and sat down pulling off my boots before I knew it Susan was naked by my side and we snuggled in, for another night of love making.
I could grow accustom to traveling like this I loved the company.
The next morning Susan was up before me I don’t know how she managed to get up, and around without me knowing, but I woke to the smell of breakfast. This morning we had milk to drink along with our coffee. Susan had already milked the cow.
“I could sure get use to this Susan.”
“I hope you do Bob because I think you were a gift to me in my time of need. I am very thankful that you came when you did. I was facing some hard decisions in which you have made much easier,” said Susan.
“Well Susan I have never met a woman like you. You are intelligent and beautiful. I have thought of you as an oasis on the vast prairie. You were also there, for me in a time of need. I have grown to love you. In the first night, together I knew you were something special.” I was hoping this was not a fling on Susan’s part a rebound from her lost husband.
“We better get saddled, dressed, and head out I want us to get back to Denver here in a couple of more days,” I said.
“I will pack up if you want to saddle the stock,” said Susan.
From that morning on our camp routine was formed. I walked over to the horses, and mule, and led them to the creek to water. I then tied them again brushing them and checking their hoofs. I saddled each animal with care and gave them each some peppermint candy that I still had. I had always kept it on hand, for my horse Sandy who I had just loss. I missed my old mare. We had ridden together many miles. I was now starting to develop a friendship with the animals that I took care of.
In a few days we were in Denver all too soon for I had enjoyed this week with Susan. I had never made love so often or bathed so much. We made love at night then again first thing in the morning. I loved the deeply passionate kisses that we shared. I had only been with whores before this. There was little kissing, and the love make was nothing like what Susan, and I had. I never knew love could be made in so many ways.
We rode into Denver in the late evening. We first stopped at the livery stable, and had our horses, mule, and the cow cared, for. We also left the dog. Picking up our belongings we headed to my room at the boarding house. I rented a room from Mrs. Tate. I knew I would soon need to find a house to rent. Mrs. Tate would not put up with Susan, and I being together long. She rent the rooms to single occupants. There were three other men who also rented rooms. Once we started to the boarding house I had a second thought. I turned away and we went straight to the Hotel. We checked in as Mr. and Mrs. Rossi.
We carried our belonging across the street to the hotel. The street was dusty as had been this whole trip, and we were both covered in dust, and dirt. We walked up the steps both of us tired, and through the large door with windows. It was painted white and the Hotel it’s self was covered with a white coat of paint. The hotel was well cared, for. Often the buildings were unpainted, and drab. This hotel was profitable and making every attempt to be elegant. In the old west elegance was all too rare.
The clerk stood behind the desk. Although I lived here I did not know him or he me. We looked like a couple of road bums, or drifters to him. He didn’t smile, and I believe he was about to turn us away. I could tell by the expression on his face. That is when I pulled my vest back, so he could see my badge. It was funny how his expression changed so suddenly. He smiled, and then said, “Welcome how many rooms would you like?”
“One nice room a suite please with a bath.”
“I have one empty at the top of the stairs,” said the clerk as he turned the register book around for me to sign.
The bellboy took our bags. We followed him up the stairs, and he showed us to our suite. “Sir I will be right in with your bath water.” I thanked the boy and handed him a quarter.
“I’m weary as heck Bob.”
“Me too it will be nice to sleep in a bed, for a change.” We waited on the boy to bring our water before we undressed. I was wondering if Susan would wait it seemed she was removing her clothing every chance she got. I had saw her naked more than I had seen her dressed over the last few days. I was glad to see that she did have some modesty in public, for a lot of the time on the trail she had been nude. I didn’t know her well but had learned a lot about her in the last few days. We had decided to marry once we got to Denver. On the way here, we had made plans and would get a small ranch or farm near town just a few acers.
The knock came. I answered it, and the bellboy followed by two Chinese women came into the room with the buckets of hot water. I recognized these women because they were also whores that I had visited. They did not indicate that they knew me, and I was relieved. The water was poured into the tub, and they left. I tipped them again 25 cent a piece.
By the time I turned from the door Susan stood naked. She stepped into the tub waving to me to follow. I undressed and poured us each a drink of whiskey that I had kept with my belongings. I sat them on the table by the tub. I lit a cigar then stepped in behind Susan. She leaned forward and I dropped the cigar into the ash tray. We soon were making love again. I had never made love so frequently, and I was really enjoying it this week.
I scrubbed Susan’s back, and she scrubbed mine, again as in the last time we were in the tub together. I carried her dripping wet to the bed. We made love again there. After a few minutes we then got up and dresses.
“I’m famished let go get something to eat,” said Susan as she pulled a dress I had never seen from her bag. It was green and brought out the color of her eyes. I got my clean change of clothes. The two of us headed down the stairs. I knew a place to eat because this was where I lived. I led her out the front door and down the street to Josephine’s place and Italian restaurant.
“I have never had Italian food before Robert.”
“That’s ok I will order for us if you don’t mind.” I ordered us lasagna and wine.
“This food is fabulous I love it.”
“I kind of thought you would” Josephine came out to talk to me, and to see who the young woman was that was with me. I introduced her to Susan and invited her to set down with us. She sat next to Susan and we unwound our tale to her. I could tell that Susan enjoyed having another woman to talk too. She hadn’t visited with another woman since they had left St. Louis a few years ago. Susan had told me that her, and her husband wouldn’t have come all that way if they had really known what it would be like. They were stuck out on the vast prairie alone. If I had my way the two of us would never be alone again.
As the women talked I went out front to have a smoke, and some fresh air. I took a glass of wine with me and stepped outside. I found the chair out there where it had always been and took a seat.
It had already grown dark, and it was late. The women were enjoying their visit. I now was enjoying my solitude. I hadn’t been in someone else’s company this long since the war. In the war I was constantly around other men. I didn’t miss that. I had grown used to being alone, but after this week I knew I preferred the company of a woman. I enjoyed Susan’s company more than I had ever thought I would.
I looked above at the sky and saw the stars they were a familiar comfort. The stars had been my constant companion on the many trails that I had been on. They were ever present. I could find my direction from the stars, and I knew every constellation. The Rocky Mountains were in my view as well. Tonight, the mountains too brought me comfort. This was my home, and nothing brought peace to a man more than being home and around those he loved.
I had been a U.S. Marshal five years now, and that was a long time to be a lawman in these parts. Many Lawmen had lost their lives in the Fort Smith Indian Territory south of here. Maybe it was time to give up being a law man. I believe that everything happens, for a reason and there had been a reason that Susan and I had met.
I had saved some money quite a bit. I had collect rewards on wanted men and saved. I would also sale any valuables they had so I had more than I would have if I was just drawing a Marshals wage. This was the way most of us lawmen did, we did so just to get by. Our wages were very skimpy for all we had to do.
Tomorrow I would turn in my resignation from the marshals. I would start a new life here with my new love. I was older now, but still young enough to make a go of it here with a small ranch. I had always loved animals. I knew from my travels across the United States where to get and sale horses. Not just grade horses, but well bred stock horses that would bring good money. Susan and I had talked about this as we rode to Denver these last few days. I never knew a man could fall so deeply in love. It had happened to me in just a few days. I had never felt this way about a woman, and I had no plans to ever give her up.
I finished my glass of wine, and my cigar, so I stood, and turn to walk back inside. The night had been quiet except for the saloon music. I had seen no others on the street, but I could hear the music coming down the road it Kind of called to me. I had spent way too much time in places like that. A lawman could get a lot of information from the whores, and the bar tender if he tipped well. Not only that if they thought that you offered some protection the drinks, and the women were many times on the house.
I stepped in to see the women still talking at the table and walked back to them. “I hear the two of you are getting married,” said Josephine.
“Yes, that’s our plan, and I am turning in my resignation to the U.S. Marshals too.”
“Very good,” said Josephine who was also my mother. “I know papa will be pleased.”
My dad came out from the kitchen, for he and mother owned and ran this restaurant together. “Papa Rossi we have wonderful news. Our son is giving up chasing the vermin of this god forsaken country. He is going to settle down with this beautiful woman.”
“Is this true sonny?”
“Yes, papa it is true. I have found true love on the vast prairie west of Dodge City I came up on an oasis. I found this beautiful woman who looked like an angel when I first saw her.” We would not tell anyone that she was nearly nude when I first saw her.
“Well son will you be raising your horses then, and maybe help us with the restaurant.”
“I believe I will father and I believe Susan will love to work here along with you and mama.”
“Yes, mama I want to help with the cooking and everything else,” said Susan.
“Awe wonderful,” said Josephine.
“Well son now maybe you can come live with us. Then if you want to you can build a place but as you know we have the room here and a place for your horses. That would get you out of the boarding house,” said papa.
I had taken the room at the boarding house because my folks would get so worried each time I left on assignment. “We are staying in the hotel tonight, but we can move in tomorrow after check out time,” I said.
“That settles it you kids will live with us.”
“I have never been so happy,” said Susan who had not like the farm in western Kansas, but she would stand by her man and never leave him whoever he would be.
Susan and I visited with my parents until late into the evening. It had gotten late, and we were ready to head to bed. Mama would get my room ready for the two of us. Susan and I would move in tomorrow. We said good bye. I took Susan’s hand, and we started walking casually towards the hotel. We looked up at the stars. “I will miss sleeping under these with you Robert. I had been praying for something to happen in my life when you came walking in.”
Just then I noticed the blue tick hound we had left her at the stable. She had come looking for us. We stopped, and I stroked her head. “We had better take her back to the stable tonight we can bring her to the folk’s place tomorrow,” I said.
We started down the road in the direction of the livery stable. It was past the saloon and on the other side of the street. As we approached the saloon the music grew loader and we crossed to the other side. The little blue tick hound followed on our heels. We walked on past the saloon and no one was outside. Inside the music still played and men still drank and played cards. Susan shuttered, “I’m so glad I won’t be going there to work,” she said.
“Me too,” and I patted her bottom. She turned her head up towards me and smiled. I kissed her then.
As we approached the liver staple I noticed the walk-through door was a jar. “That’s odd, that’s why she is out,” I took another step closed and the hound came before me and the door. She looked at the door and growled. The hair on her back was raised, and I knew something was defiantly wrong.
“Stay here Susan against the building don’t move unless I call you.” I slipped carefully through the door sliding my back against it. I moved into the darkness as quickly and as quietly as I could. There I stood waiting for my eyes to get accustom to the change, for it was far darker here. I could smell the smell of gun powder. I hadn’t heard the shot because of the music from the saloon, and the distance. As my eyes began to make out what was in here I could see a body on the floor. I could not make out anyone else.
I chanced lighting a match and could see no one hiding there. “Is any one in here I called out,” I received no reply. A lamp hung there by the door and I lit it. I took the lamp and could see the stable boy lying in a pool of blood close to my feet. I could smell it. I knew that smell all too well. With the lamp in my hand I walked through the barn checking on the contents, our animals were here, and I could see nothing out of place.
As I walked back to the body of the boy I could tell that his throat had been cut, and he had been shot through the back. It was a shame he was only about 12 years old. Now I would have to go get the sheriff. I decided then to take Susan back to my mama and papa’s place to wait, for me.
“What has happened?”
“Susan a person has been killed in there. I’m going to take you back to my folk’s place to wait on me while I go get the sheriff.”
“Okay.” And we walked back to Josephine’s café. I knocked on the door and my father answered, and I told him briefly what had happened. I left Susan with him.
I then hurried to the sheriff’s office and walked in waking the deputy who was waiting on the sheriff to complete his rounds. “Sheriff Roy should be right across the street now,” said the deputy as he glanced at the clock. They had regular rounds, and this gave them an idea where they should be at a certain time just in case they were needed. “I bet he saw you walk in Marshal. He will probably be right here.”
Sure, enough the door opened and the sheriff walked in. “Hello Roy, how are you?”
“I’m pretty good.”
“I saw that you brought a beautiful woman back with you.”
“Yes, I did Roy, but that’s not why I am here.”
“I didn’t think, so what is going on that you’re here at this hour, and not with that lady.”
“Our dog that we had left at the stable was out running around. When we took her back there I found the stable boy dead.” I had left our dog with Susan at my mama and papa’s place.
“We better get down there and look around did you see anything else?”
“No Roy just that that boy had been shot in the back and his throat had been cut, his head was almost cut clear.”
The three of us headed down to the stable I had closed the door when I left. We got there, and went in. I had left the lamb lit. I went over again what I had found, and all I had done. The three of us looked the barn over but it looked undisturbed.
“I better go get the undertaker. Then I got to go let his parents know,” said Sheriff Roy.
“I hate this he was so young. There are few clues here I doubt if we solve this one.”
The sheriff took off to take care of business, and the deputy stayed. He would watch the crime scene until morning when they could look it over better. I headed back to my parent’s place.
Once I got to mama and papa’s place they insisted that we spent the night. We didn’t argue with them. Susan and I were soon bedded down in my old room, and we both fell fast to sleep. It had been the first night we hadn’t made love since we had met, but that morning we both made up for it. I was a little embarrassed to come out of our room that morning because I knew we had made a lot of noise. Susan didn’t blush at all and slipped a robe on and headed out to the kitchen.
I joined them, but was dressed as were my parents. My mother had already cooked us breakfast and we sat down with them to eat. My father looked across the table at me and winked. I had a feeling I knew what he was thinking. Mom served scrambled eggs and Italian sausage. There was butter, milk and toasted bread, with blackberry jam to spread on it. We cleaned our plates and Susan said she would get dressed and help do the dishes. I followed her into our room to get my gun belt. I would be going to the office this morning and resigning. I also had to go by the sheriff’s office. I had to fill out a report on what happened last night.
I had told my folks, and Susan where I was going, and that I would be back with the bags from the hotel soon. I kissed my mother and Susan. I started out the door headed to the hotel. I would check us out first then bring our things home. Next on my list I would go by the sheriff’s office, and from there to the U.S. Marshal’s office.
The clerk at the hotel was surprised to see me walk in, and we said good morning to each other. I went up the stairs, gathered up our belongings and headed down the stairs. I stop and checked out. I had paid in advance the night before. I could tell he wanted to ask questions, but he didn’t. I wouldn’t have answered them anyway. I carried our things down the street to home. Going inside I could see that my mother and Susan were really enjoying each other’s company. The restaurant would soon be opening, for it was still early. We had gotten up at five a.m. I kissed the women good bye once more and told my father I would see him after a while. Then headed, for the sheriff’s office to fill the report from the night before.
I walked in and was greeted by the deputy, and Sheriff Roy. The both said, “Good morning Marshal Rossi.” They then pointed to the coffee pot.
“I believe I will,” and I poured a cup. As I stood there with my coffee I looked across the brim at the two men sitting there then took a sip. “That’s some good brew you boys have got there,” I said and walked over, and sat at one of the unoccupied desk. The paper work was already there, for me to start on, and I soon had it filled out. “Did you two find anything else of interest this morning?”
“No Marshal it’s as if someone just came up on the boy and cut his throat and shot him I don’t know which was done first. Nothing is missing, and I got the owner Jerry Owens to come down and go through everything. He says that boy didn’t have an enemy in the world. It was not a robbery, it was a murder.”
If they couldn’t find a motive it would be hard to find a suspect. Which made the killing much worse, for someone had just done it to see someone die.
As I sat there and visited with these men. I asked if they had heard of any Indian activity going on in the last month. I had been back east on assignment a month ago, and just recently gotten back. I hadn’t heard a word about any either. Now that I was away from Susan’s charms I was beginning to think there was something funny about her story. Why would Indians torture, and kill her husband, and not take the livestock. They always did or killed them. Hearing that there hadn’t been any Indian trouble, for quite some time also raised my suspensions, but now I felt guilty, for having questions about the woman I loved. Now that I had had this thought it would eat on me until I had an answer. The little farm there in western Kansas didn’t look as if it had been raided. Everything was there and clean, neat, and in order.
I had finished up my paper work there and headed to my office. My conversation with my too friends left me unsettled. I didn’t let on like anything was wrong, but things were just not adding up.
I wouldn’t be the first man to be taken in by a woman’s charms. I hoped that this gut feeling I was starting to have was wrong, but it usually hadn’t been. I said good bye to my friends and walked out into the street. I headed south towards my office. The men I left had no idea why I had asked about the Indians. All they knew is that I had run across Susan at a sod house where she lived by herself.
I stopped there in the street for a minute and lit a cigar. I wanted to pause and think, for a minute. I then decided I would head to the telegraph office and make some inquiries. I would first send one to St. Louis to get all the information I could on Susan and her husband. I would then make inquiries to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They would know if any Indians had jumped the reservations or had been out raiding. I would then send the same inquiry to all the forts, and last to any nearby towns close to Susan’s home in western Kansas. Hopefully this would help me find out what had happened out there. I prayed that Susan was not lying to me.
I told myself that I was making these investigative jesters in her behave to help her find some closure to the incident that had happened out there. I was also trying to figure out why I had this doubt and what I was going to do with the answers I found. I wasn’t ready to give up on the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I was sure there was a reason behind whatever I found out.
After the telegraph office I head to my office to let everyone know I was back, but, for some gnawing reason I wasn’t ready to turn over my badge.
I sat there in the marshal’s office at my desk with a cup of black coffee. That visit this morning with Sheriff Roy and his deputy Nat had felt good. It was good to be around some other men for a change. I sat here now going through my mail telling myself I was tidying up loss ends.
When I was with Susan on our travel back to Denver leaving the Marshal’s, service seemed like the thing to do, but now I wasn’t sure. I kept having this nagging feeling that something was not right with Susan.
As I sat with this desk full of paper work working through the stacks that always seem to be present and I was surprised when the sheriff stopped by.
“Hello again Bob. I just wanted to come by and tell you what the undertaker had found with the body. That poor boy this morning had not just been shot, and his throat cut, but he had been molested. His pants were pulled back up afterwards. The undertaker noticed this because he had seen it before, and had the Doc come by and look at him too, and Doc confirmed it.”
“Oh my, that is sad,” I said, but I had seen a lot of cruelty on this job.
“I was just wondering if you had any wanted posters or other information about someone like that. I looked through mine.”
“I just saw something like that here it is Roy,” I said. “It’s an outlaw named Jim Packard. The poster here has a description of him and says that he was last seen in western Kansas heading west. He had robbed a family out there and killed most of them, but the grandfather hid and saw who had done the killing. This guy has long black hair clean shaven. He’s a half-breed.”
“I think I will go get my deputy. Jean needs to learn some more about being a lawman. Then head over to the saloon and see what I can find out. Would you like to come along?”
“Sure, I will meet you there. If I see him I will go back outside and met, you.”
“Sounds like a good plan to me.”
I started out across the street and down the road. I was going to turn in my resignation. Why was I walking into trouble again? I was having some moments of indecision this morning maybe just last-minute jitters about getting married and quitting my job.
I was soon walking up the steps to the saloon and across the boardwalk. I swung the batwing doors aside, and stepped in. I looked around briefly. Then headed to the bar. I had saw the man first thing. I ordered a drink and one of the girls I knew came to me and started whispering into my ear about the man I had come looking, for. I ordered her a drink too. She told me that the man had been bragging about the incident I had read about from the wanted poster this morning. He said he had been the man in western Kansas that had done those things. He also said he had done another that had been out there. Where he had raped and tortured a sod bust while his wife watch scared to come out. I knew then it had to of been Susan’s husband and my questions were answered. Because Jim Packard looked a lot like an Indian. I wanted to question him and hoped I would get a chance too.
The woman went on to say he had had one of the girls upstairs and was talking about things he shouldn’t. He had said some sick things and it had sounded like what had happened to the boy. He said it reminded him of the night before. I finished my drink and headed out front swinging the doors open again.
I met Roy and Jean outside and I told them the man stood near the left side of the bar. “Why don’t you too go in and I will go around to the back. He has already seen me and would be suspicious if I came back in.”
“Okay are you ready jean?” Roy asked his deputy.
“Yep Sheriff I’m ready let’s go.” The two law men walked in and started towards the wanted man. Jim Packard must have felt threatened. He drew his gun and shot Roy knocking him to the floor Jean pulled his gun and pointed it at the killer. The killer knew he would be shot but jean paused. I had come in the back and saw what had happened and shot Jim Packard where he stood just in time to keep him from shooting the deputy.
“If you aim that dam gun pull the dam trigger," The Sheriff yelled over at Jean who stood there looking down at the dead man that had just tried to kill him.
I had saved his life with an accurately placed bullet between the killer’s ears. The smoke filled the room with gun powder from my Colt Peace keeper and that of Jim Packard’s Smith and Wesson 38. If I hadn't of acted just then Jean would be dead, and there would be three dead men lying on the dirt floor of the saloon. Jean, Roy and Jim Packard a wanted outlaw.
"If you're going to survive out here you’re going to have to learn to take care of yourself son. I don’t want to see you dead.”
The deputy and I looked down at Roy who had not been killed but was wounded. He had been shot in his left arm probably the outlaw had aimed, for the heart and missed. Roy was in pain, but he hadn’t called out. “Go get the Doc,” I yelled at the woman I had spoken with earlier. We helped Roy into a chair and poured him a glass of whiskey. One of the girls that worked there was in love with Roy and was tending to him until the doc got there.
I had a feeling this was the man who had killed Susan’s husband. I would have her look at him once he was taken to the undertakers.
The Final Details
After Roy had been cared, for and the body taken to the undertaker I went and got Susan. Walking from my office to home I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this. If this was the man I would have my answers. I first stopped by the telegraph office to see if I has received any answers to my inquiries, and I had. I read down through them quickly and it seems others had thought they had seen and Indian, but felt it was probably the wanted man Jim Packard. This gave me more supporting evidence to believe what Susan had told me. I was satisfied that following my lawman instincts had been a good idea. I felt assured this was the man that had visited Susan’s sod house out on the western Kansas prairie.
“Susan, I think that the man that killed your husband is at the undertakers. I would like to take you there and let you have a look. Do you feel up to it?”
“Yes, Bob lets go,” said Susan and we started out the door and towards the undertaker. She asked no questions and we walked silently down the street. She held tightly to my hand as we walked. I could feel the pent-up emotions running through her.
We stopped there in front of the under takers.” Are you ready baby,” I asked? She nodded her head. There were tears in her eyes. I led her up the steps and through the door to the back room and the man lay there under a sheet. I pulled back the cover and she gasped. Susan then started striking the corpse violently. I had my answer. I took her in my arms and held her. She regained her composure and we walked back home in silence.
When we got home we went in and sat down with mama and papa. Josephine brought us coffee and Susan told us what had happened that day. The man had known she was down there under the porch. Knowing this he molested and tortured her husband leaving his beaten body in the yard. It had taken her two days to finally come out from under the porch and burry her husband. She had felt dirty after that and had washed and cleaned everything. My mother seemed to know how to comfort her and took her into the front room where the women talked for hours.
Papa fixed supper and took it to them we ate separately. It had gotten late and I and papa went to our rooms to sleep. I lay there a wake, for a while and was about to fall asleep when Susan lifted the covers and snuggled in next to me as always, she was undressed and I was soon aroused to love making. After we made love she told me that my mother and she had made all the arrangements, for our wedding.
I told Susan then that I had second thoughts about leaving the Marshals office and she told me it didn’t matter if I worked there or started a ranch. That she loved me and would stay by me whatever I chose to do.
We were married the following week. I didn’t quit the Marshals but had cut back on the time I would work for them.
Susan and I had a nice wedding with maybe 30 guests. There were Roy, his deputy Jean, some men, and their wives that I worked with at the marshal’s office, and folks from the church.
For our honeymoon, we went back east and bought horses, for we had planned to. When we got back we would start raising thoroughbred colts. I took several weeks away from my work to enjoy some time with Susan. We had been making memories from the day we met and we were both very happy.