Written by Rosemarie
Thank you to Snarks for her beta help.
Author’s notes: The Rocky Mountain Boys gang is a fictitious gang created by the author for the purpose of this story. All characters are fictional and of the author’s creation. Any resemblance to any real life or other fictitious characters is purely coincidental.
Author’s note: There was very little information available in how law enforcement handled kidnapping in the 19th century. The actions taken are purely fictional and have no basis in real kidnapping cases of the time.
Author’s Note: The territory of Colorado became a state August 1, 1876.
Rocky spit a stream of tobacco juice into the grass at his feet. He looked at Slick. “We owe it ta Hawk to git Dead Eye. If it hadn’t been for that sheriff he’da been dead by now.”
Slick nodded and spit his own stream of tobacco. “Yeah. That little bastard was too sneaky Had that dumb sheriff hadn’ta gone and gotten himself shot we coulda had him.”
The other man replied, “Yeah, we coulda. Ya know…we should give it another try. I bet the others'd go for the plan.”
The second outlaw quirked an eyebrow. “Whatcha got in mind?”
Rocky gave Slick an evil grin “How ‘bout kidnappin’ the kid? He’s all high and mighty bein’ the new deputy of Diamond Springs and all…see just how much that Sheriff thinks he’s worth…see how much the town really wants him.”
The other man gave the first outlaw a look, contemplating the idea. “That just might work ya know?”
Rocky nodded. “How can we git the drop on him?”
Slick said, “We can watch him, his comings and goings. And like ya said, we kin figure a way ta get that little good for nothin' bastard then."
The first outlaw wrinkled his brow. “Maybe we’ll hog tie and gag him and then take him away.” He said with a grin. “Leave a note for the Sheriff to find and arrange a ransom…then kill him.”
The other man replied with a wicked grin, “Git the money and leave the town with a dead Deputy.”
Rocky agreed. “Yeah, but we gotta be real careful to guard him and keep him tied up so he can’t git loose or ta his gun or we’ll be the dead ones.”
Slick said, “Yeah, he ain’t called Dead Eye for nothin’.”
The outlaws went back to what was left of the Rocky Mountain Boys gang and made their pitch. Two of The other men nodded and grinned evilly. “It’ll be fun to git ol’ Dead Eye.” Pock said, “’Specially after he killed the boss.”
One of the other men, known as Catfoot frowned angrily. “It’ll be a pleasure to kill him, but not as quickly as he did the boss…we should make him suffer a bit.” he said with a sneer.
Slick replied, “It’d be justice if we got the Sheriff too and made him watch while we slowly kill Dead Eye.”
Rocky looked dubious, “I don’t think he’d make the same mistake twice though. He seems to be a pretty smart guy, look at what happened ta the Falcon gang at Mountain Grove.” He drawled.
Catfoot nodded. “Yeah, seems whenever he’s involved more of us die than any of them.”
Pock made a sour face. “Yeah, but his luck can’t hold out forever.”
Slick grinned and said, "Maybe luck'll be on our side 'stead of his this time."
Rocky looked at Slick. “Well, let’s get Dead Eye first and then we’ll see what we can do ‘bout the Sheriff.”
The others slowly, one after another agreed with the outlaw.
Rocky and Slick rode toward Diamond Springs, but kept to the trails that wound around it instead of directly through, taking a little used path into town.
Once they arrived at the Diamond Dust Saloon, looking like most of the clientele, scruffy with several days’ worth of beard, the outlaws sat in a dimly lit corner.
Knowing that the sheriff had a keen eye for trouble, the two outlaws set aside their hats and acted normally, ordering whisky and playing cards to while away the time while they scoped out the lawman’s comings and goings.
they made note of when the Sheriff made his rounds as well as when the young Deputy did. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to their visits. They became frustrated as they realized that the lawmen seemed to come around pretty much anytime and so there was no way of knowing when exactly they’d show up.
The two decided to hang out in the alley ways and boxes were piled up and where they could secret themselves.
Rocky let Slick go first with a whiskey salute and a grin, then several minutes later followed to join his friend, winking at and flirting with some of the girls as he left.
Once he'd joined his friend, they tried to observe the Sheriff’s office and realized that usually when one was making the rounds the other stayed behind. The Sheriff seemed to make the final rounds when it began to get dark, testing the locks on the shops that closed up. The Deputy seldom seemed to perform this chore and after dark they seemed to make the rounds together. They’d take turns walking into the saloon or other shops that may have stayed open. There were very few of these, usually the café, livery, the saddlery, the General Store, the hotel and the feed and seed. It looked like everything closed up tight for the night at seven o’clock, except the café which seemed to close around nine o’clock. The only places open until late were the hotel which never actually closed, as they had a night person who manned the desk, the livery, who’s owner seemed to always be there to take care of things and the saloon, the Diamond Dust.
Finishing with their observations, the two outlaws went back to their camp a little way out of town to discuss their next step
Sitting at the edge of the fire, Slick asked, “How d’ya think we can take him?”
Rocky said, “We kin buffalo him, knock him out or at least stun him and then tie him up and take him ta our camp. We can leave a note for the Sheriff.”
Slick shook his head. “A blow to the head might kill him right away, what ‘bout chloroform?”
The other man shook his head. “He'd have ta inhale for at least five minutes ta knock him out. By then someone might hear us so that ain't no good neither.”
The other suggested, “Maybe we kin throw a net over him.”
The first outlaw shook his head. “That ain’t no good either, cause he’d be able ta shout out fer help.”
The second outlaw said, “Four of us'll be able ta grab one little boy, we just gotta be faster'n him.”
Rocky said, “Well, that’ll be the way we’ll need ta do it then.”
Slick nodded “Sounds ‘bout right.”
The two continued to plan how they would lure their victim to their trap. Rocky said, “I think if we pretended ta be someone in trouble we could git the Deputy inta a alley, then gag him and truss him up and haul him away fast. We’d have to have horses nearby so we could get away quick. The Sheriff ain’t one to trifle with.”
Slick nodded. “Yeah, I agree with that one. I wouldn’t mind takin’ him ‘stead.”
The other outlaw said, “Yeah, but with Dead Eye on the loose we’d end up dead fer sure jus' like Hawk.”
Slick shivered a little. “True.” He said with distaste. "It’s better to get Dead Eye outta the way first.”
The first man nodded. “That’s my thinkin’ too.”
Sheriff Jalen Brooks and his Deputy Brett Montgomery were making the rounds through Diamond Springs. Brett had been rather jumpy the last few days and when Jalen caught him scanning the boardwalks he asked, “What’s wrong Brett? You’ve been jumpy lately.”
The young Deputy shrugged. “I can’t help it. I keep getting’ the feelin’ someone’s watchin’ me all the time. It’s eerie.”
The Sheriff said, “I haven’t seen any strangers around lately or those I have haven’t seemed at all threatenin’. You know with the railroad we get some interestin’ characters comin’ through.”
Brett cocked his head in thought. “Yeah, I know, but it’s somethin’ different from that, but I can’t tell you what it is. It’s just a feelin’.”
Jalen said quietly, “Then you’d best take extra care Deputy, you never know what’s out there sometimes.”
The younger man looked at his lover, frowning slightly. “Yeah I know.”
The Sheriff put a hand on his young deputy’s shoulder and squeezed. “We’ll both keep our wits about us then.”
Brett managed a weak smile and replied, “Yes Sir.”
Rocky and Slick returned to the rag tag Rocky Mountain Boys gang. They shared what they learned from their observations with the others. “It ain't gonna be easy, so we can't get careless.”
The others nodded in agreement. One of the men, a young man with Sandy colored hair that was longish and stringy from being unwashed and yellowed teeth from chewing tobacco spit and said, “I’d like to help.”
Rocky looked at the man and nodded. “Okay Catfoot. Ya’ll be good to have along. Ya know how ta be quiet.”
Catfoot grinned and replied. “Yeah, it’s my way.”
The other men talked among themselves and then another one spoke up. “I’ll go with ya.”
Slick exchanged a look with Rocky as the man they knew as Pock, because of all the pock marks on his face volunteered his services. He asked, “Ya sure ya wanna do this?”
The other man responded, “Yeah, I think I could imitate a woman’s voice real good.” He demonstrated. “Help me…someone please…help me!” He cried in a high falsetto.
The gang laughed and the two main outlaws grinned. “Yare in then Pock. You can be the bait.”
Catfoot laughed and said, “That’s pretty good. Too bad ya’d make a really ugly woman.”
The men all laughed good humoredly with Pock grinning as well.
Rocky said, “All right, Pock’ll be the bait and Catfoot can slip up behind him and grab his arms and put his hand over Dead Eye’s mouth to stifle any alarm he might try to give. I'll take his gun and hold my pistol to his head, Slick here'll gag him and Pock can blindfold him, and with the four of us workin' together we won't have no problem tyin' him up and gettin' away fore he realizes what’s happened to him.”
Pock said, “We shouldn’t do much rough stuff til we get to where we’re gonna hold him.
The rest of the men agreed and they continued to make their plans.
The blonde haired, blue eyed, forty-three-year-old, widowed livery owner, Jack Hillyard, observed the Sheriff and Deputy making their rounds. They were interacting with the townspeople. He watched them from the shadows of his establishment. Jack reflected on his past, having married at age 20, and then being blessed with a son. When he was thirty-seven he lost them both to Typhoid. He was living close to Chicago Illinois at the time. His son was seventeen. The loss had been especially hard, with his only son being on the brink of manhood. It was a very painful time in his life. The death of his wife who had been his soul-mate had been devastating. He had never had the heart to remarry. He hadn’t had any brothers and was the youngest child in his family. Both his parents and his two older sisters were also gone, having caught Typhoid the same year he’d lost his wife and son. He pushed those old disturbing memories behind him. He had moved here to Diamond Springs hoping the West would give him a new start and new lease on life about six-years ago. After burying his family in Illinois, running the livery had been a good living. He remembered when Jalen Brooks had come to town about five years ago, looking for something, but not quite knowing what it was. Jack could tell at the time the young man had been haunted by tragedy like himself. He hadn’t pried though and told him if he were interested the town had been looking for a Sheriff. The one they had, had grown too old and died about six months before. The young man had perked up and said he’d like to give it a try and so had taken on the job. The men of the town had gathered after about three months and officially installed him as the town Sheriff. Now there was a deputy as well and Jack was glad to see Jalen had taken the young man under his wing. Not only himself, but the whole town had seen how well the two worked together to keep Diamond Springs and their citizens safe. It was good to see how they drove off the riffraff.
Not too long after Brett had come to town and the Sheriff had taken him under his wing with the new program of probation, Jalen, their young Sheriff had ended up being involved in a shooting that had almost cost him his life. It would have been a loss for the town. He had made a foolish mistake. While Jalen was laid up the townspeople had seen how well Brett had taken care of things and officially installed the young man as the town Deputy. Jack was glad to have assisted, both when Brett brought the outlaws back with Jalen being hurt and again when the Sheriff had called for volunteers to be on the posse when the lawmen had taken care of the train robbery. They had all brought back the men responsible. The livery owner had been glad to see the Sheriff upset with the young Deputy for taking an unnecessary chance with his life during the ensuing shootout that occurred in Mountain Grove. Jack knew that the young lawmen were very capable in their jobs and although made some mistakes, overall did them very competently.
Jalen Brooks, the town Sheriff smiled and tipped his hat to Jack Hillyard as he made his rounds. “’Evenin’ Jack, how’s business?” the Sheriff asked.
“Not bad, there’s always some who need my services.” The older man said with a rueful grin.
Jalen nodded. “Yeah, but you should get a helper. You’re here all day and then most of the night. When do you get any sleep?” He asked.
The livery owner gave the young Sheriff a look and said, “I’d ask the same question of you, young man as you seem to keep the same hours as the Saloon and the livery.”
The young Sheriff was taken aback for a moment by the man’s demeanor and question, but then gave Jack a boyish grin. “Whenever I can and I’d say it’s probably the same with you…open by daylight and closed after the Saloon closes and it’s patrons collect their mounts.”
The older man’s teeth flashed white in the darkness as he grinned. “Yep, that’s our lives, early mornings and late nights. I suppose when a body doesn’t have a wife or children to care for, this is the life we lead.”
Jalen replied, “I suppose you’re right. At least I have Brett, but you don’t have anyone to relieve you for a bit here and there, you really should think about it Jack.”
The older man smiled to himself feeling a warmth inside that the younger man cared enough about his well-being to suggest such a thing. “I’ll think on it Sheriff.” He told Jalen with another smile
The lawman grinned back. “You do that Jack. I’ll be 'round again and check on you. Have a good night.”
“You too and be careful Sheriff.” He admonished.
With a final wave to his friend, Jalen said, “I’ll do that Jack. See you in a while.”
The livery owner watched their young Sheriff go about his rounds. He smiled to himself and shook his head before going back inside the livery. Things were going well in Diamond Springs and he was glad to be part of this community.
One dark Friday night at the end of the month when there was no moon, they knew the miners would be in town spending their pay. They thought it would be the time to make their move the two outlaws rode into town at dusk. They went to the saloon to have a few beers and some whiskey, playing poker for a while. They didn’t want to look conspicuous.
When darkness fell over Diamond Springs Catfoot and Pock approached the buildings along the main street from the rear of the line of stores, making their way to the agreed upon location. They walked their horses as they approached the dressmaker’s store at the back. There was an alleyway that ran between it and the land office. These establishments were far enough away from anything that showed signs of people that they believed it safe enough not to be heard if there was any noise. They had noticed that even though the saddlery next to the saloon wasn’t open there was usually light shining through a couple of windows in the back, but that didn’t concern them
They tethered all the horses nearby along with the one they would use to take the Deputy away to await their accomplices.
The Saloon was busy and the miners had come to live it up and raise a little hell. Music spilled out onto the street as the piano was playing lively tunes and some of the patrons along with the saloon girls were singing, some off key and drunk.
Jalen looked at Brett as they made their rounds. “Best to keep our eyes peeled tonight. Lots of people in town with it being the end of the month.”
Brett knew Jalen was referring to the miners who had come to town. He glanced over toward the livery where he could see a figure leading a horse inside. “Lots of business for Jack too” He observed.
The Sheriff nodded. “Yes, we’ll also need to be prepared to haul some of our visitors to jail to sleep it off as well.”
The Deputy grinned. “Hope we don’t get too crowded. Don’t know where we can put the extras.”
Jalen smiled, “Well there’s always the storage room at the general store I know James Duncan won’t mind if we use it. I’ve done it before. He leaves me the key just in case.”
Brett smiled. “Well that’s good, we might just need it tonight.” He stood and allowed his blue eyes to rove around the area and up and down the boardwalk.
The Sheriff seeing his Deputy scanning asked quietly, “Those feelings again?”
The younger man nodded “Yeah, but there doesn’t seem to be anythin’ out of place.”
Jalen nodded. “Just keep a sharp eye out. Anythin’ can happen tonight.”
Brett nodded in return and jumped a little as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder and gently squeezed. “It’ll be all right. Remember we’re a team and I love you so I’ll be lookin’ out for you as well as the rest of the townspeople.”
The younger man’s blue eyes smiled at his man, love shining. “I love you too Jalen.”
The two outlaws were in the poker game and Slick after a while left, saying, “I fold. Ya guys are too much for me tonight.”
Rocky pretended to not know him saying, “Too bad man. We would have liked to have picked up some more of your money.”
The other man shook his head. “Too rich for this poor man.”
The others at the table teased Slick a bit good naturedly as he got ready to leave.
Rocky gave him no further notice as he went, concentrating on the game.
As the outlaw worked his way through the crowd toward the door one of the Saloon girls, Ruby, put a soft hand on his arm “Yar not leavin’ so soon are ya sugar? The night’s still young. Why not buy a girl a drink and spend some time?”
Slick leered at her. “I’d love to honey, but this cowboy’s broke. Lost it all at the poker table tonight.”
The girl shook her head, smiling coyly. “Ya gotta leave some for other pursuits young fella.”
The man admired her and said, “Maybe next time sweet thing.”
Ruby gave him a disappointed pout. “All right big fella, I’ll look for ya next time.”
Slick left the Diamond Dust and made his way to where his accomplices were waiting.
Catfoot sighed as he and the other outlaw waited behind the lady’s dress shop. “I hope they get here soon. I’m tired of waitin’ around.” He said in a low voice.
Pock whispered back, “We gotta do this right. Rocky and Slick can’t attract any attention or look suspicious ya know.”
The first outlaw nodded. “True.”
Pock jumped as a shadow emerged and Slick said quietly, “You’re right Pock. No mistakes.”
The outlaw frowned “Ya can give a fella a little warnin’ ya know.” He whispered angrily
Slick grinned. “What fun is there in that?” He said softly.
Pock advanced on the other outlaw.
Catfoot stepped in between. “Hey, we can’t be fightin’ with each other. Now we just gotta wait for Rocky to show up. Then I’ll go look out for the deputy and give ya the signal to lure him in Pock.” He whispered to the two men urgently.
The two men separated and Pock said quietly, “Okay Catfoot.”
The three men talked softly among themselves waiting for the last member of their group to join them.
Jalen stopped in at the saloon just as Ruby had approached a man who sloughed her off politely enough and left the establishment. His green eyes looked around, ready to detect any trouble before it began. The poker table seemed calm enough, whiskey or beer at the elbow of each player and the girls working the tables. He caught Gabe’s eye and the bartender gave him a thumbs up. The Sheriff winked back.
The lawman walked slowly through the saloon listening as he went to the conversations at the tables. Most of it seemed to be about mining or just the newsworthy stories of the week as some who could read had taken the local newspaper and shared its contents with others. He put two fingers to his hat brim as he caught Gabe’s eye once again and left the saloon to finish his rounds. The night was still fairly young.
Deputy Brett Montgomery walked along the boardwalk checking the stores and kept one eye on the saloon doors waiting for the Sheriff to come out and he’d then head back to the office for a while to work on some of the paperwork. He frowned wishing that the man hadn’t insisted on him improving his reading and writing because now he had him filling out reports and filing papers that went along with the job.
Jalen came out of the saloon and smiled at Brett and waved to him, seeing his partner had noticed him. He caught up with the Deputy and walked the rest of the way to the office, stopping again at the livery to check on things there.
Jack shook his head. “Busy tonight.”
Brett smiled. “I’d bet. Poor lonely men and the only thing they can spend their money on is whisky and women.”
The livery owner chuckled. “True enough Deputy.”
Jalen put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder and smiled. “Well the night’s still young. I suspect there’ll be more action as the evening wears on and people become more drunk.”
Jack nodded. “It’s the usual pattern Sheriff. You and your Deputy keep your eyes peeled and take care.” The older man admonished.
The lawmen flashed the livery owner identical smiles and walked on to the jail.
Catfoot peeked out from the shadows of the alleyway and frowned as he saw the Sheriff and Deputy walking along together. Rocky hadn’t gotten there yet and he didn’t expect he’d come for some time yet. They had talked about taking action about the time others were leaving, drunken friends slung over a saddle as they made their way back to the mine so they wouldn’t look very suspicious when they hauled Dead Eye out of town.
Jalen stopped at the office and said, “Go on inside and get to the paperwork kid. I’ll be back in a bit to check on you and if everything’s quiet help you out for a while.”
Brett pouted. “I notice you don’t do much of the paperwork anymore since you made me improve my readin’ and writin’ skills.”
The older man grinned unrepentedly. “It’s good practice for you.”
The Deputy gave the Sheriff a friendly punch on the arm. “Says you.”
Jalen squeezed the young man’s shoulder and said, “Watch it mister,” with mock sternness, his green eyes twinkling.
Brett shook his head and smiled. “Yes Sir.” He replied giving the older man a mock salute.
Seeing there was no one about to notice, Jalen gave his young Deputy a light swat on his backside, sending him into the office.
Brett went inside and buckled down to the task of handling the paperwork.
The Sheriff continued to walk the streets of the town, lingering at the train station as the train pulled in and passengers disembarked. He directed some toward the hotel and others headed for the saloon, hearing the music coming out of the establishment. Jalen checked on the station master and waited until the man had settled everything and closed up the depot for the night as no other trains were due until morning.
The night grew late and the saloon more and more noisy and a few arguments broke out, but Gabe, the barkeep was able to intercede quickly and avoid an out and out brawl.
Jalen had also defused a couple of hot heads and had brought a few men to the jail to lock up so they could sleep it off for the night.
Rocky, seeing the Diamond Dust becoming crowded and the men rougher decided to fold at the poker table and call it a night. He excused himself from the men, collected his winnings and made his way slowly toward the dress shop where his companions were hiding in the alleyway.
The Saloon grew more rowdy and the Sheriff of Diamond Springs brought another couple of drunks to the jail.
Brett looked up as the door opened and he helped his partner with the men, getting them into the cells and making sure each had a cot and a pail next to it as well as pails for them to use for other necessary functions.
Jalen looked at Brett. “Why don’t you take a break and do the rounds. I can process these two and I’ll look after the others for a while.”
Brett smiled. “All right. It’s gettin’ close to the time when Gabe’ll be closin’ up anyway.”
The Sheriff nodded. “Yep, so there shouldn’t be much for you to do. Check on Jack and make sure no one gives him a hard time while they’re collectin’ their mounts.”
Brett nodded. “Okay, I’ll do that.” The young man left the Sheriff’s office and headed down the boardwalk watching and listening as he made his rounds.
Rocky kept to the shadows where he wouldn’t be seen and when he came to the land office went unnoticed down the alleyway that ran between it and the seamstress’s shop. He moved around back behind the dressmaker’s place where he came upon the others lounging around and looking bored. “It’s about time ya showed up.” Slick drawled softly as he saw the other man appear.
“Ya don’t want anyone to be suspicious of us haulin' Dead Eye out of town across a horse do ya?” The first outlaw questioned firmly and quietly.
Slick shook his head. “Nope. With others doin’ it, it won’t look out of place.” He stated softly.
Rocky grinned evilly. “Nope.” He looked at Catfoot. “All right Catfoot…watch out for the Deputy. When he’s alone, which I’m hopin’ he will be soon as I noticed the Sheriff hauling a couple of drunks off to jail. Then when it seems right, give Pock the signal and he can start his female in trouble act.” He whispered his instructions.
The man grinned and nodded. “All right.” He acknowledged softly and slipped quietly away, melting into the shadows as he made his way toward the entrance of the alleyway. Peeking out, he watched for the Deputy.
Brett walked along and was alert. He saw several drunken men stumble to their horses and with the aid of their fellow impaired friends mount up and ride out of town. Some ended up slinging their friends across their saddles and led the horse with their burden away quietly and without any rowdiness. Things were beginning to wind down for the night. He had made one circuit, stopping by the livery and checking on the owner as the Sheriff had instructed him to. It was on his second round that he stopped, listening as he thought he heard something.
Catfoot, watching the Deputy’s progress around the town gave a low whistle as he approached the alley, giving Pock the signal agreed upon.
The outlaw began to cry, “Stop! Let me go! Please! Stop that! Oh please!” in a high pitched falsetto, imitating a woman in trouble.
Brett, listened as he heard the woman’s pleas once again. He swore to himself as he believed one of the miners had pulled one of Gabe’s girls behind the building. Hand on his pistol handle he carefully went down the dark alley.
Catfoot and Slick had hidden in the shadows and when Brett passed them, jumped the unsuspecting young Deputy, wresting the gun away and holding his arms fast as he tried to fight them off. The other two quickly joined in securing the young man with ropes. Although he was almost able to get free of the two men who had attacked him first, Brett wasn’t able to fight off all four of them. Especially when one had gagged him, and then another placed a blindfold over his eyes. Two were holding him fast, while another one was tying him up and the one who had gagged him was holding a gun pressed to his temple growling that they’d just as soon shoot him as look at him.
Once they had Brett bound and gagged, Rocky couldn’t help but smack him a couple of times hard across the face and then tossed him over a waiting mount and with the others riding, led the Deputy away from town.
Slick hung back and tossed the note in the alley that they had written, with “Sherrif” on it, knowing the man would find it eventually when they searched for the Deputy and joined the others.
Jack Hillyard had been busy bringing out horses to his customers. He noticed a group of men leading a mount with another drunken miner he supposed out of town. He wondered why men put themselves through that. He glanced again at them. Something about this particular group struck him as a bit odd, but he was distracted by someone else demanding he bring his horse and turned away to care for his customer.
Jalen had completed the work on the men that had been arrested. He and Brett would stay in the back room tonight because they had prisoners to tend to. They would either have to keep them in jail or let them pay the fine, or if it were a repeated offense, post bail. If they had friends, they would come back for them to take care of that in the morning and would then be released. He pushed back his chair and glanced at his pocket watch and frowned. His Deputy should have been back from making the rounds by now. He wondered if there was some kind of trouble at the saloon and the Deputy was occupied in taking care of it. He put on his hat and headed that way to see if he could find out if anything was happening.
When the young lawman went to the saloon only to hear everything quiet, he asked, “Gabe, have you seen Brett?”
The barkeep said, “About a hour ago. I thought he went back to the jail and the two of you were done makin’ rounds since things were windin’ down around here for the night. Anythin’ wrong?”
The Sheriff frowned “I’m not sure. He hasn’t shown up back at the office yet and I was gettin’ worried.”
Gabe nodded. “Maybe he stopped to talk to someone and lost track of time.”
Jalen looked thoughtful. “Maybe. Thanks Gabe.”
“You’re welcome Sheriff. Good luck, I hope you find our Deputy soon.”
“Thanks, me too.” He replied. The lawman walked the town and didn’t spot Brett anywhere and frowned. He decided to stop at the livery and see if perhaps he was there and was talking to Jack.
When he arrived he again saw no sign of his Deputy. “Hello Jack, did Brett come and check on you?” He asked the man.
The livery owner looked up at the Sheriff and said, “Yep about an hour or so ago. Haven’t seen him since.” He lugged the saddle he had in his arms to the tack room. “Why?” He asked when he returned.
“I can’t find him. He hasn’t returned to the office, I haven’t seen him around town and no one has seen him for the past hour or so it seems.” He told Jack a concerned frown crossing the young man’s face. “It’s not like him to just disappear”
Jack frowned as well. “He has to be around somewhere, maybe he’s upstairs at Gabe’s?”
Jalen shook his head. “No, not likely, he doesn’t frequent the girls.”
The older man replied, “Well it was just a suggestion. When I’m finished puttin’ away the tack and the horses are settled I’ll come walk with you and help you look for him.”
The Sheriff nodded. He noticed the younger man’s mount still at the livery. “Well at least he didn’t ride off somewhere.”
The livery owner said, “Nope, he didn’t ask for his horse, so he can’t be far.”
Jalen replied, “All right Jack. Thanks.”
After Jack had settled his horses and all was in order at his establishment he walked the town with the Sheriff. No one had seen the young Deputy for quite some time and the two men were worried. They told others and everyone was out looking for Brett now. It was dark so no one saw the paper lying in the alley. They couldn’t believe that the young man had just disappeared into what seemed to be thin air.
Jalen sighed. “We’ll have to wait until daylight and try looking for him then. No one seems to have seen or heard anything and there are too many places to search for him in the dark.” The young lawman said. He and the others had attempted to search with lanterns, but had turned up no sign of the younger man.
A breeze caught the paper lying in the alley and pushed it up against the wall of the land office.