by DiVoran Lites
After what seemed like a long day, Aldon and Sheriff Oates arrived at the tumble-down cabin of Mrs. Stump Slater.
‘Hello the cabin,” Aldon shouted as the two men got down off their horses. Immediately the cabin door opened. A small, bent woman hobbled from the house, lifted an ancient rifle and shot at the Sheriff’s right foot. She only missed by an inch or so. Aldon put his hands in the air, but had to lower the right one to the Sheriff’s shoulder to keep him from picking the woman up and shaking her like a dog shakes a rat. Aldon got a small thrill from the fact that someone besides him had a bad temper, but he had to quickly attend to the sparrow-like woman in the brown, homespun dress.
“What you want?” she asked motioning for them to lower their hands.
“We’re looking for your sons, ma’am,” said Aldon.
“How do you know my sons?” Mrs. Slater asked.
“The law wants them for questioning.” said Oates.
“Them no-good stupid-heads ain’t here,” she said.
“Can you tell us where they are?” The sheriff had his hand on his sidearm, and Aldon knew it was in case the woman lost her temper and decided to shoot them after all.
““The last I saw ‘em they was riding downhill talking about bringing home some brides,” said Mrs. Slater.
“Who would those brides be, do you suppose?” Aldon sensed a letting down in the old woman as if she had carried the boys about as far as she wanted to.
Where did they go?” Oates asked yet again.
“Lastus done took a fancy to a dark-headed hussy, that’s all I know.” The woman’s mouth hung slack and she shook her head. “They don’t tell me nothing. All they do is eat, hunt, and fight.”
“I know where they are!” Aldon said with sudden inspiration. He got on Chief. Oates, as he always had, followed Aldon’s lead. “It’s not far.”
“Do you know what hussy she was talking about?” The sheriff’s horse set down its hooves carefully as they existed through the weedy pasture in front of the house.
“I do.” Aldon said. remembering a Sunday when the family had come back from church and Lia told about hurting her ankle and a stranger carrying her home. “If they took her, they’ll be anxious to give her back by now, she isn’t the easiest person in the world to be around.”
“Used to having her own way, is she?” Oates stopping talking then as Aldon urged Chief through the trees ahead of him.
After half an hour they came to a steep trail winding upward and Aldon knew Oates would remember the area where they’d ridden together with Paul and Bill when they were boys. “Hold up here.” Aldon said going around a bend and getting off his horse. “We’ve got to plan our maneuvers.”
“We ain’t had nothing to eat all day,” Oates complained.
“I’ve got the canned beans we bought at the store in Clifton before we left town.” Aldon reached his left hand back and patted the saddle bag.
“I ain’t eating no more canned beans if I have to starve.” Oates’s stomach rumbled as if it didn’t agree with his statement.
“Keep quiet. Let’s figure this thing out.” said Aldon.
“You’re not sweet on your boss’s wife are you?” Oates asked with raised eyebrows.
“Good Grief! Whatever ever gave you that lame-brained idea?”
“You’re in such an all-fired hurry, I thought you had a personal stake in the outcome of this here enterprise.”
“Maybe I do, but it’s not the boss’s wife. I can tell you that for certain sure. Signora Solano hardly ever goes anywhere without her sidekick, Ellie, and if Ellie’s there we have a better chance of collecting those women safely. Ellie’s got horse-sense.”
“That’s a relief. It wouldn’t do for you to be sweet on a girl with nothing horsy about her at all.” He grinned, but kept his distance. “I always knew once you fell in love that would be all she wrote.” Ignoring him, Aldon gave a loud, two note, bob white whistle that sounded like the real thing.
In a moment an answering call came winging over the hill.
“There now,” said Aldon, “I taught her that, isn’t she something?”
“Yeah, except this ain’t mating season.”
“We’ll sneak up and get them away from those Slater boys.” Aldon was the one grinning now.
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art