by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Forty Eight
“When he heard that his old friend, Aldon, hadn’t eaten since supper the night before, the sheriff, Phil Oates, said, “Let’s get you some breakfast. I won’t ask you up to the apartment. Lily is feeding the kids, and company gets them too excited. Besides, today is wash day. Anyhow, she’d like to see you, but let’s give her a raincheck.” After they were seated in the hotel restaurant, and the waitress had taken their order, Aldon told his friend the reason for his visit.
“You could have caught them boys easy yourself, but I’m glad you came all the way down here for me,” Sheriff Oates replied.
“I want everything legal.” said Aldon.
“We’ll arrest them, all right, but there’s no hurry. They’ll never leave the mountain, they don’t know anything else.” Sheriff Oates took his star from the breast pocket of his vest, breathed on it, and polished it with the linen napkin from the table. He pinned the sliver-plated symbol on his vest. “There’s a shiny target for the bad guys,” he said patting it.
“So let’s get going.” Aldon mopped the last of the egg yolk off his plate with a piece of toast and stuffed it into his mouth.
“Yeah. I’ll take my horse, Sagebrush. He’s used to me, and we make a pretty good team.”
When the train arrived they loaded Sagebrush in the stock car and then walked through to a passenger car for the journey. Once the train left, Aldon made his way to the caboose and stepped out into the open air of the caboose balcony. He tried not to think about Ellie, but it was no use. He went back inside and threw himself down in the seat opposite Oates.
“What’s got into you, ole buddy?” Aldon’s friend asked.
“Ah, nothing’.” Aldon gritted his teeth and jammed his fist into his other hand as if into a baseball glove. He started to tell Oates what was bothering him, but at the last second, he changed his mind. “Those boys have no business stealing our cattle.”
“That’s what outlaws are for. You wouldn’t want me out of a job, would you?” Oates grinned, Aldon didn’t. “Maybe we’ll get these ones. A couple weeks ago, the butcher at the grocery store sent his boy for me. Some rustlers had brought a couple of beeves down the alley to the back of the store and asked to get them cut up. I hurried over there with the kid, but the thieves had left the carcasses and lit out of there. I had to confiscate it ‘cause I didn’t want them coming back for it. It’s in the town freezer till I find out who it belongs to. Maybe it’s yours. We’ll find out. Sounds like this would be a good time to catch them and put them away until the circuit judge comes here.”
“How did you and Lily meet, anyhow?” Aldon asked. As they went through the gorge sheer cliffs loomed a thousand feet overhead, casting gloom down the track.
“What do you want to know that for.” Oates asked. When Aldon sat and stared without answering, Oates said, “You know we been married since I came back from the Great War?”
“That was me standing next to you at the wedding,” Aldon said in a sarcastic tone.
“What are you being so gol-durned cantankerous about?” Oates said. What’s a-matter with you, you ain’t yourself today.”
“Get on with telling me about your wife,” Aldon growled.”
“Okay, but settle down, man. I didn’t do anything to you… Lily worked at the hotel, and so I went to eating my meals there every day. It cost me, but it was worth it…tasted better than my own cooking too. We’d talk and I’d leave her a good tip. She was a looker. We got along fine and we both wanted the same kind of life, so we decided to get married. And that’s that. Why are you asking?”
“Did you love her? “ Aldon asked. “Was she one of them flapper girls?” Nervous, he scratched a mosquito bite through his shirt.
“She was just a ranch girl come to town to make her fortune. One of the Johnsons, you know that family that had the mostly white appaloosa?”
“I met a flapper from Chicago,” Aldon broke in. “She was pretty and smart and I thought we liked each other.”
“Then what happened?” asked Oates. “Quit scratchin’ and get to talking before you rub a whole in your shirt.”
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art