Chapter 21

Howdy!  Old West days are here again… oh, how I wish they could stay, or at least show up more often.  Hmm, maybe if I can ever get around to finishing this book I can see about posting these more than once a week.  I’ve got some work to do.  In the meantime, enjoy this new chapter and if you need to catch up, you can find the previous 20 chapters here.

……….

The rest of his morning passed without incident.  When his shift was up he roused Dan and went to see Sheriff Brown.  It’s better if it comes from me.  He was worried he might miss Emmalou if he didn’t head straight to Mrs. Sorensen’s but he had a feeling she wouldn’t show up for awhile if she showed up at all.  Besides, this is going to be a short conversation.  He either won’t care and I can go about my business, or he will care and he’ll escort me to the edge of town.

He found Cole at his desk, leaned back in his chair, boots propped up on the desk, and his hat pulled down over his eyes.  “Afternoon,” he said without moving.  He didn’t have to, who knew who it was, as we’ve covered before.

“Afternoon Sheriff, something I wanted to discuss with you if you’ve got a minute.”

“Not doing anything right now so you are in luck, take a seat, what can I do for you?”  The sheriff took his feet off the desk, repositioned his hat, sat up straight in his chair, and motioned to the chair across the desk from him.  “It’s not like I was sleeping anyway.”

Brig smiled, “You aren’t going to make me feel guilty about waking you. I know you weren’t sleeping.  I’m not sure you ever sleep.”

“I reckon you may be right about that.”  He had a mischievous grin.  “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, I wanted you to get the truth from me before you heard it from someone else and there isn’t really a good way to sugar coat this anyway so I’ll just come out with it.  I’m Brig Coyle.”

Cole leaned forward in his seat, elbows down on the desk, palms pressed together, eyebrows bunched together, “The Brig Coyle?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you were dead?”

“Obviously, those rumors aren’t true.”

“And the rest of the rumors about you?”

“Some are true, others aren’t.”

“I reckon so,” he leaned back into his chair and studied the man seated across from him.  Brig Coyle, the one-eyed gunslinger, the greatest pistolero since Wild Bill, murderer and scourge of the earth in my town, how do I feel about that?  Or, is he just el borracho, another rehabilitating drunk?  He hasn’t shown any hint that he is the man the stories speak of.  Perhaps the booze changed him?  Perhaps whatever led him to the booze in the first place changed him?

“Well, thank you for telling me.  You haven’t done anything to make me want to run you out of town yet, and I hope that doesn’t change.  He kicked his boots back up on the desk and lowered his hat over his eyes again.  “Now, you got anything else for me or can I get back to my nap?”

“Well, I’m going to be meeting with Emmalou Marsch this afternoon.  She recognized me and called me out this morning.”

The sheriff tilted his hat back and lifted an eyebrow, suddenly very interested.

“I’m going to try and convince her I’m not the man from the stories anymore, if I ever was completely, and I’m just trying to start a peaceful life here.  If I can’t convince her to give me a chance to prove myself, I promised her I would move on before the trouble my name attracts comes calling.”

“You’ll probably have a better chance of getting her to listen to you if you aren’t wearing that sidearm.”

“It’s coming off the second I get back to Mrs. Sorensen’s.  Do you have any news on the Ed front?”

“I sent a rider out there last night as promised.  I haven’t heard back yet.  I should hear something by this evening and I’ll swing by Mrs. Sorensen’s and fill you in on my rounds later.”

Brig got up to leave and then stopped himself.  He rested his hand on the butt of the revolver at his hip and briefly considered what to do before making up his mind.  “You better hang on to this for me for the time being.  I don’t think I’ll need it right now.  I’ve made it a few years now without carrying a gun.  One more afternoon won’t see the end of me.  I’ll swing back by tomorrow on my way to work and pick it up.”

He unstrapped the tie-downs and unbuckled the belt, coiled it neatly, and handed it across the desk to the sheriff.  There was a moment as it traded hands where the sheriff sensed that Brig wasn’t going to in fact let go and then he was holding them alone.

Brig turned and was to the door when the sheriff chimed in again, “You better be careful with Emmalou, she’s a firecracker.”

The one-eyed gunslinger paused in the doorway, without turning back he said, “Thanks for the warning sheriff.  She did make quite the impression.”  Then the door was swinging shut and he had disappeared into the afternoon sun.

Sheriff Brown stared at the shut door.  Then he shut his eyes, re-positioned his hat pulling it down low to cover his eyes, leaned back into his seat into his resting position, and said “I reckon so.”

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