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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Fourth Man - Chapter 9


The Deputies Were Just Hired Killers
 
A bad time for Jim

Jim had been working steadily for a month and I suggested he take a few days off and go to town for a break. He has so many friends in and around town I felt he needed to visit with some of them. He has several lady friends but Lily is the one he is close to. One evening he and Lily who works as a nurse for the doctor, were in the saloon talking when two men came over and started harassing Lily.

After trying to reason with the men Jim started to get up and found himself unsteady. He had consumed too much of the hard stuff. The men acted as if they were going to draw their guns so Jim reached for his but before he could get it out of his holster another man shot him in the back and then one of the other men shot him also.

I was in town and when I heard Jim had been shot I rushed to the saloon and found him in a critical condition. The doctor said he needed to get him to a hospital which was three hours away. A friend of Jim’s was a train dispatcher and he said, “Get Jim down to the station as soon as possible. He said there was an engine warmed up and getting ready for its next run. He said he could have a passenger car hooked to it in ten minutes and ready to go.”

Meanwhile the three men that shot Jim were drinking and laughing and flashing their badges. I knew them to be related to the sheriff and I guess he made them deputies. Apparently they thought it was a license to kill.

I didn’t have time to deal with them right now. We got Jim on a cot and as comfortable as we could. The dispatcher said there was a cattle train due later but he would have them pull it over on a siding until Jim’s train passed it.

He told the engineer to highball it all the way and he could cut the three hour trip down to two with a clear track ahead. Lily was with Jim and the doctor and they were off.

What goes around?

I went to the sheriff and asked what he was going to do about the attempted murder of Jim. He said, “The way he heard it Jim drew his gun on his deputies and they had to defend themselves.”

I said, “That wasn’t going satisfy Jim’s friends for they knew Jim wouldn’t instigate anything like that without cause.”

The Sheriff said, “I can take care of any friends that start trouble and that goes for you also.”

I realized it wouldn’t be smart to kill the sheriff with witnesses present for some of them believed his side of the story.

The same went for the deputies, because to kill them out in the open wouldn’t be so smart.

During the night it seems the deputies and the sheriff made a huge mistake. All of them were experienced riders but they allowed their horses to run- a- way and their lassoes had somehow caught them around their necks and they were all dragged to their deaths.

No one around here had ever seen such a thing happen before. And for it to happen to all four of them and the sheriff was a little strange.

Some suggested foul play but without a sheriff there was no one to investigate it. There were no witnesses to the event so it was written up as an unfortunate act of God.

Some good news

Later that morning (I slept in late for some reason) we received the word that Jim was going to make it through but it was going to take a while for his recuperation.

Lily stayed with him and watched over him like a mother hen. The doctor wanted her back at the office to help him but she said he would just have to wait. She requested a young nurse trainee from the hospital to take her place.  The doctor was pleased with the new girl for she was very comely and efficient.

After a month Jim was back on his feet and was ready to be released from the hospital. We were excited to have him coming home.
He let us know it would be a couple more weeks before he came back because he and Lily had just got married and were going to spend some time together alone before he returned.

He said, “Get me a house built or at least started so we can live on the ranch near my work.”  He added, “Don’t build it too near the barn.”

By the time they returned we had the walls up and the roof on and some of the inside finished. In another week it would be livable.  Meanwhile, we gave them a room in the large ranch house to stay in temporally.

While Jim was back I could see it would be six months before he was recovered enough to be his normal self.

He still could give orders it was he just couldn’t jump in and help do the work he wanted done.

He had been told about the misfortune of the sheriff and his deputies and said; “How careless of them,” and looked at me knowingly as to what had happened.

He said I still don’t know why this happened. He said I won’t ever let myself get in that condition again. They would never have gotten behind me as they did if I hadn’t been drinking.

I asked the sheriff why it happened the last time I saw him alive and he said it was to send me a message.

I asked him, “What message?”  

“He said that he was taking this county over and wanted me to know it.”

Jim said, “Maybe he overestimated his abilities a bit.”

I said, ‘Yeah, it looks that way doesn’t it?”

Jim said, “The folks in town are confused about what happened. They can’t figure out how four men and the sheriff could all do the same thing. Lasso yourself, fall off your horse, and then be dragged to death by your horse.”

Jim asked, “How do you figure that happened?”

“That’s an easy one,” I answered.  “You know they were hired killers so I figure someone hired them to kill themselves and they did a good job of it.”

Jim smiled and said, “Something’s are hard to figure.”

A couple weeks later Jim and Lily moved into their new home and things returned back to normal with a lot of dust being stirred up from all the activity.

To be Continued

 

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