All Locked Up And No Place To Go

The handcuffs snapped tightly to his wrists. “Turn around,” the deputy ordered. Carnes complied. “Sheriff? Ya wanna talk to ‘im?”

“Just a minute,” the lawman raised a hand as he surveyed the scene. “Cassidy. Will that wagon roll?”

Another deputy, Cassidy, Jared presumed, dropped to one knee and peered at the oxcart’s undercarriage. “Well enough to git ‘er back to Lurvy’s, I conjure.”

“Shiny. Hitch up those oxen. We’ll use it to haul these poor sumbitches over to Hadley’s for autopsies and coffins. Sampson?” He cast an eye and a silent question toward the deputy who’d taken Carnes’ pistol and cortex. As he watched, she ejected a round from the chamber, then pulled the clip. Finding it to be full, she sniff tested the barrel, before meeting the sheriff's gaze with a shake of her head. He strode toward the prisoner. “So...Jared Carnes…” he studied a business card taken during the frisk, “I got four bodies on the ground, a boat hightailin’ it to the black, and a stranger caught fleein’ the scene. You wanna try to make sense of all this for me?”

Jared nodded. “Pretty simple, actually. Robbery gone bad, sir. The boat’s crew was attempting to make a delivery. They’d loaded their cargo onto the wagon and were making a repair when the outlaw band showed up and demanded they turn over the goods. The boat crew refused. Guns were drawn, shots were fired. Four robbers died. A fifth got away.”

The sheriff listened to his account, skepticism written upon his face. “What’s the boat’s name?”

The prisoner shook his head. “Sorry, I didn’t get it. I’d only been here a couple minutes, myself.”

“Uh huh. And what was your part in all this?”

“The seller was concerned. Rightly so, by the look of things,” Carnes tilted his head toward the corpses. “I was hired to verify that the transaction would be completed with the buyer.”

“What was the cargo?” the Sheriff asked.

“Couldn’t say.”

“Alright,” the lawman countered. “Let me try another one. “Who’s the buyer?”

“I wasn’t given that information,” Jared shrugged. “I’m sorry, Sheriff, but what I don’t know, I don’t…”

“Take him in,” the Sheriff interrupted. “Sampson, ride along. I’ll take that,” he reached for Carnes’ pistol.

“Yessir!” the first deputy nodded as he grabbed a few coils of rope. He tied one end firmly to his saddle horn before placing a snug loop around Carnes’ neck. “Best git used to that feelin’, the deputy leered. A moment later, they were off, two horses slowly walking side by side, deputies sitting tall as they led their prisoner into town.

The rope scratched as it dug into his neck. Jared kept his eyes forward, concentrating upon matching the pace of the horses. They’d just made it into town when he heard the first gunshot, the familiar report of his nine millimeter. After a pause there came a second, a third, and then a fourth gunblast. Now I know what the autopsies will turn up, Jared darkly mused as he was led through the streets.

< Prev : Unwelcome Wagon Part 14 Next > : Aftermath (Part 1)