The Shooting - Chapter 4
Dan opened the door to the Sheriff's office and allowed Brett to approach the cell with the food.
"Here's your supper. Is there anythin' else you need for the night?" He asked.
Seeing the other two men with the Kid the outlaws looked at each other and then shook their heads. "No…nothin'."
Brett nodded. "All right then, eat up and make yourselves comfortable."
Dan watched the two men and glanced at Brett. "If you need anythin', come get me."
Brett said, "All right Dan. Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'll be all right with these two."
Dan nodded. "All right. We'll let you know if we hear anythin' about the Sheriff and if you need anythin' in the mornin' let us know."
Brett gave Dan a small smile. All right Dan, thank you."
Cole put a hand on his friend's shoulder and squeezed. "You're doin' a good job Brett." He said quietly.
Brett smiled and said thanks."
Dan put his arm around Brett's shoulders and gave them a squeeze and said, "Remember you got help any time you need it Brett."
Brett looked up at the older man. "Thanks Dan, I'll remember."
Dan and Cole left the Sheriff's office.
Brett made sure the prisoners had what they needed and then put on his hat and coat and headed over to the doc's office to check once more on Jalen's condition. Mrs. Sanford again told the young man there had been no change, but as soon as there was she would have him notified. Brett thanked her and returned to the jail. He putout the lantern and the lamp he had lit and went into the
Back room to try to get some sleep.
Jalen had become very restless again. Nancy Sandford rearranged his pillows, even the ones beneath his bruised back and bottom and she kept cooling compresses to the lump on his head and his burning forehead and continued to force water and broth down him during the night. She periodically got Doc Mac and he'd check the Sheriff over and nod. "He's doin' about as well as I'd expect him to. Just keep doin' what you're doin'. Call me if you need me."
Nancy nodded. "Yes Doc Mac."
Toward dawn Jalen began to thrash and writhe as though he was in a lot of pain. When Nancy couldn't settle him she had to have Doc Mac come to restrain him so he wouldn't break open the wound on his chest.
When Doc Mac got Jalen settled once more he noticed that the young Sheriff was sweating profusely and said to Nancy, "It appears his fever has broken. It shouldn't be long now before he wakes if that head injury wasn't too serious."
Nancy nodded. "Yes Doctor…I believe you are correct." She wiped Jalen down with clean warm cloths and Doctor MacNamara changed the bandage once more. The wound didn't appear to have any infection and he cleaned the surgical area once more and covered it, wrapping the bandage around the man's chest with the help of Mrs. Sandford amidst groans and moans from the still unconscious patient.
Doc Mac said to Nancy, "I'll go over to the Sheriff's office and let Brett know that Jalen's fever has broken and that he may wake anytime now."
Nancy smiled at the doctor. "All right."
Doctor MacNamara knew Jalen wasn't completely out of the woods yet, but the fever breaking was a good sign as well as no infection setting in. The biggest challenge was going to be keeping him quiet and not allow him to overdo anything in order to heal properly. He went around to the back of the Sheriff's office and knocked softly on the back door.
Brett had awakened. He hadn't slept very well, but had dozed on and off. When he heard the knock at the back door he jumped out of bed, pulled on his jeans and went to open the door. When he saw it was the Doc he asked anxiously, "Is it Jalen? Is he all right?"
Doc Mac put a hand on the young man's arm and said, "He's doing as we expected. His fever has broken and he may be waking soon. I thought you'd like to know."
Brett nodded. "I'll finish getting dressed…come on in." He invited the doctor.
The doctor followed Brett into the back room where he had been sleeping while Brett washed his face and tried to do something with his unruly curls. Then he pulled on a clean shirt and put on socks and his boots. He put on the vest Jalen had given him for Valentine's day, his coat and hat and was ready to walk with the Doc over to his office.
As they walked Doc Mac said, "He's had a restless time of it. He seemed to be more restful when I left, so I'm hoping he will wake soon and then the fun will begin. Most young men aren't very good about following doctor's orders."
Brett said, "I'll make sure he does. I'm going to see if Mrs. Hawkins will be willin' to stay with him at our place. I have a feelin' she won't let him get away with much." Brett said with a small smile.
Doc Mac said, "I think that would be a very good idea and I'm sure she would make sure he did as he was told."
Brett nodded. "She seems to be the type."
Doc Mac chuckled at that.
Reaching his office Brett and Doc Mac went inside.
Brett peeked into the room where Jalen was and Mrs. Sandford smiled at him. "Come on in Brett…I don't bite and the Sheriff's in no condition to."
Brett smiled. "No, I don't think so…how's he doin' Mrs. Sandford?"
"He's restin' quiet now." She told him.
Brett approached the bed. Jalen looked rather pale and it concerned him, but he didn't say so. He placed a hand on Jalen's arm. "Hi Jalen." He said softly.
Jalen found himself cuddled close by Dallas and then found himself drifting again. He heard voices, and they were familiar and yet not. He heard a voice he did recognize immediately say, "Hi Jalen." He tried to open his eyes, then tried again and saw Brett standing next to him, his familiar touch with the young man's hand on his arm. He croaked, "Hi Kid."
Brett's bright blue eyes shone and he grinned. "Welcome back Sheriff…wondered where you went." He teased gently.
Jalen smiled, but then grimaced as he began to experience the physical pain.
Mrs. Sandford first gave Jalen some cool water, then mixed a headache powder and had him drink it down. She had warmed the willow bark tea and had him drink that too, Jalen making a face at the bitter taste.
"Now you just make sure you take all of this Sheriff. You've been shot and you're hurtin' not only from the wound, but from bruises from the fall."
Jalen nodded. "Yes Ma'am. I am hurtin'."
Brett bit his lip and began to experience a lot of guilt.
Jalen, seeing the action out of the corner of his eye said, "Brett, don't worry. We'll talk about everythin' later; I'm goin' to be okay."
Brett nodded and Nancy said, "The Sheriff needs his rest right now and you have prisoners to take care of. You may come back when you've taken care of things."
Brett nodded and said, "Yes Ma'am and squeezed Jalen's arm. "I'll come back later Jalen. I do have responsibilities I need to take care of."
Jalen smiled at Brett and Nancy. "All right."
Nancy and Brett left, Nancy to get Doc Mac now that their patient was awake and Brett headed back to the jail to care for his prisoners.
Later that morning after Brett had taken care of the prisoners he went over to Elizabeth Hawkins and arranged with her to stay at their place while Jalen was recuperating. She agreed to stay until the Sheriff was able to be out of bed and on his feet, which she suspected would be in a couple of weeks. Not too many men could be kept down for very long with a bullet wound or any other injury for that matter. She told the young man, "You go on now and I'll pack a few essentials and meet you at Doc Mac's."
Brett rode Spirit home and gathered the team and prepared the wagon by placing a mattress, pillows and blankets in the back. He'd see if Cole could come back with him so he could help get Jalen upstairs and in bed.
Elizabeth Hawkins went over to Doc Mac's office carrying her carpet bag. Nancy smiled as she stepped inside. "Hello Mrs. Hawkins." She said.
Elizabeth replied, "Hello Mrs. Sandford. I was asked by Brett to stay at Sheriff Brooks place to make sure he stayed in bed and followed the doctor's orders."
Nancy smiled. "Good. We were concerned about the Sheriff bein' at home all alone. That young man of his will need to continue to watch the prisoners in the jail."
Elizabeth nodded. "I'm glad they caught them…such a bad business, but at least their leader is dead."
Nancy nodded. "Yes. Sheriff Brooks is a young man and strong. Doc believes he will make a full recovery as long as he doesn't overdo anythin' and allows himself to heal properly."
"I'll see to it." Elizabeth told Nancy.
Doc MacNamara came in and smiled at Elizabeth. "Hello Mrs. Hawkins."
"Hello Doc. I'm goin' to be stayin' with the Sheriff at his home and makin' sure he behaves himself."
Doc Mac smiled and said, "I'm glad. Young men tend to push themselves too hard too fast."
"I'll be sure he follows your orders Doc."
"Thank you. Mrs. Hawkins." The doc went on to give her instructions about medication and pain dosing and cleaning the wound and exercises and the importance of keeping the Sheriff quiet.
"I understand it all Doc and I'll make certain he does what he's told."
Doc smiled. "Thank you Mrs. Hawkins.
Brett entered the office and the doctor smiled. "He's all ready to go and chompin' at the bit already."
Brett smiled. "Don't surprise me Doc. I don't think he's goin' to be a very good patient."
Doc smiled. "Well Mrs. Hawkins here appears to be able to handle anythin' that might come up."
Bret smiled at the older woman and ducked his head. "Yes Sir."
Dan Fairmont and Cole Tucker came in about then. "Hear the Sheriff's bein' released today Doc Mac."
Doctor MacNamara nodded. "Yes and a couple of strong lads is just what's needed to get our Sheriff on his way."
The other men smiled and nodded. "Can we take him now?"
"Yes, but be careful of his chest." Doc warned.
Dan nodded. Brett led the way, having brought a change of clothing for Jalen as the doctor had had to cut off his other clothing. Brett, Dan and Cole helped Jalen to dress despite his protests. He thought he could do it himself, but once when he protested a bit too much he felt a sharp twinge in his backside and grimaced. He then swore he had heard a low chuckle. When he looked around the men who were helping him were not chuckling and he realized Dallas was still with him and warning him to behave. "Not fair." He muttered under his breath and was rewarded with another twinge that made him jump and another low chuckle.
Brett looked at Jalen. "Sorry, we didn't mean to hurt you Jalen."
Jalen shook his head. "It's alright. I just seem to hurt all over it can't be helped." He told his young outlaw.
Once the men got Jalen dressed Dan put his arms around the Sheriff's back and under his knees and carried him out to the wagon like a child.
Jalen was surprised at the other man's strength. He found himself placed on a soft mattress, pillows cushioning his back and bottom as well as them being placed all around him and then blankets being tucked in tight around him.
"Thank you." He managed to say as Dan and Cole rode in the wagon with him and Brett took up the reins with Mrs. Hawkins perched on the seat next to him.
Doc MacNamara gave Jalen and the others last minute instructions and then Brett put the team in motion and headed for home.
Once they arrived Dan again carried Jalen up to his room, with Brett and Cole trailing behind. They got him settled in bed and Mrs. Hawkins prepared lunch for them all. They took it up to Jalen's room and ate together so he wouldn't feel alone.
Once the meal was finished Cole and Dan went downstairs to wait for Brett. Mrs. Hawkins had taken the trays with the now empty dishes downstairs to clean them and Brett and Jalen were alone for the first time since this had all happened.
Brett twisted his hands and said softly, "Jalen…I'm sorry, if it hadn't been for me you wouldn'ta got shot." The young outlaw ducked his head.
Jalen shook his head remembering his conversation very clearly with Dallas and said softly, "No kid, you saved my life. I went in there overmatched and over confident. You were right. Rory Hoffman was a very dangerous man and had you not stepped out when you did I might not be here havin' this conversation with you. I didn't take you seriously and that was my mistake in judgment." Jalen confessed.
Brett looked at Jalen in amazement. "I don't see how it was your fault." The younger man told his partner.
Jalen smiled. "Well like I just said, It was my fault for bein' overconfident and not really assessin' the enemy. By not doin' that I put both of us in unnecessary danger. it's very similar to an incident I once had with Dallas. We had just bought this bull…he seemed real mean to me and Dallas had warned me against goin' near that bull. One day he went to try to work with the bull…I disobeyed him and followed him. The bull did somethin' unexpected and charged Dallas, pushing him to the ground. I pulled Dallas out of the way of the animal. Instead of the bull gorin' him he stepped on his arm breakin' it, but that was all. He could've been killed, but I was there to save him by pulling him out of the way of the enraged bull." Jalen told Brett. "Later Dallas said he'd been foolish and had put both of us in unnecessary danger."
Brett's blue eyes widened at Jalen's story. "Was Dallas mad?"
Jalen shook his head. "No, he was more scared. We dealt with my being disobedient and putting myself in danger, but he was grateful I was there. I feel the same way about what happened out there at that abandoned homestead." Jalen pulled Brett closer by the arm and kissed his face, then gave him a light swat with his good arm and hand. "I still love you and nothing's changed between us understand? We'll deal with your guilt over not doin' what you were told and placin' yourself in danger and scarin' me half to death when I'm better. This is one time I was glad you didn't listen to me. You knew better. The rest we'll talk about later. Don't worry about anythin'. Dan said you were doin' a good job takin' care of the prisoners and the town while I'm down and I expect you to continue doin' that."
Brett nodded. "'Kay Jalen." Brett bent over and gave Jalen a passionate kiss and Jalen grinned realizing one part of him still had the ability to respond. "You better get back to town now and keep an eye on those prisoners."
"Yes Sir." Brett said with an impish grin and left the room. As he stopped downstairs he said, "Mrs. Hawkins. I'll need to stay in town, but if you need anythin' please don't hesitate to let me know…I'll come by tonight after I feed the prisoners to check on things, I plan to check on things a few times a day until the circuit judge comes to hear the case on those prisoners."
Mrs. Hawkins nodded. "Thank you and if there's anythin' I'll let you know."
Brett went back to the wagon and drove Dan and Cole back to town.
A week after the shooting of the Sheriff the men of Diamond Springs gathered to decide about protecting their town. Gabe Fairmont, the saloon owner, Jack Hillyard, the livery owner, Hugo O'Brian, the blacksmith, James Duncan, the general store owner, Bertram Fisher, the banker and Rolland Harrison, the town attorney all met at the Diamond Dust Saloon to make a decision regarding protecting their town. With their Sheriff unable to perform his duties until he was fully recovered from his wound, the town was left vulnerable. They were discussing making Brett Montgomery their deputy Sheriff. The young outlaw had proved himself capable of handling the job; having continued to make the rounds like the Sheriff had done and had been caring for two prisoners at the jail until the circuit court judge Albert Graham would come back through.
Gabe looked at Roland. "Roland, the young man is on this probation program…can he still be appointed deputy Sheriff?"
Roland said, "Well, he has no infractions of his probation since being placed on the program and this recent incident has been different. I think I can plead extenuating circumstances There's also nothing in the rules of probation that the young man can't have a job, and the only sticky point may be him being armed, although perhaps there may be a way of getting around that as well as it's needed for his job."
Jack Hillyard nodded as did Gabe Fairmont. "That would be good for the town if we can get around that part." Jack said.
The others murmured agreement.
Gabe said, "It appears we are all in agreement then that we would want Brett Montgomery as our temporary Deputy Sheriff then, and made our permanent one providing we can convince the judge to waive the gun issue."
All the others nodded.
Gabe asked, "What's our next step?"
Roland said, "Jalen will have to swear Brett in as our temporary Deputy, making him permanent if the judge agrees."
Jack Hillyard asked, "Is he well enough to do the swearin' in?"
Roland said, "There's really nothin' taxin' about it. Brett raises his right hand and Jalen reads the oath and it's done."
The other men nodded.
Gabe said, "All in favor of appointin' Brett Montgomery as temporary Deputy Sheriff of Diamond Springs signify by sayin' Aye."
The vote was unanimous. Gabe grinned. "Done. Now we'll need to inform Jalen."
Roland nodded. "Since you're the chair I think you should do it Gabe."
Gabe nodded. "All right. I'll ride on over to his place and let him know."
The other men gave Gabe murmurs of good luck and they all shook hands and then left the saloon.