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How Legends Are Born

Part 1 of 9

A Compilation

Summer, 1874: Kasher Point, Wyoming

The light yellow haze from extended drought seemed to hang like soft fog over the town. Dust kicked up by boot, hoof, and wagon wheel alike caught in the back of the throat only to add suffrage to the already unbearable heat.

From the relative comfort of his saddle, Marshal Augustus Poe watched as two burly men bathed in sweat carried another dead body out through the open double doors of the Agarose.

The two-story clapboard tavern carried a reputation for rough trade, gambling and cheap liquor. To add to the surliness of the establishment, the owner had women on hand for the pleasures of the passing traveler and local alike, but only if they were willing to pay the price.

Poe took note of several other bodies that lay quiet in the dirt as he guided his palomino along the main street of Kasher Point, Wyoming.

Apparently, the town was in the middle of cleaning itself up as best it could under what remained of the late afternoon sun. The unrelenting stretch of heat and lack of rain would likely keep the local undertaker busy until winter. All it ever took was a spark to bring flared tempers with pistols drawn to lead to dire circumstances for all involved. Dirt was dirt and would really not care if you were right or wrong when it covered your coffin.

A lanky, dark-haired man dressed in a black coat and top hat with his face ravaged by pockmarks directed efforts of others that worked along the street. He had the look of the average undertaker: tall, thin and gaunt with the perpetual frown that came with the job. No one ever seemed to enjoy the thankless job that came with burial of the dead.

Dark eyes beneath the brim of the top hat measured Poe, as the tall, angular Marshal passed by. No undertaker worth his salt missed a new arrival that might be in need of his business sooner than later -— especially if the newcomer just happened to be wearing a badge as this one was.

Long hair bleached white by the sun with skin dark and creased from the soft caress of trail wind, Poe managed a wisp of beard that showed dark but red with a little gray mixed in for accent.

Unfortunately, the accent of his beard also served to give people the idea that he was older than he actually was. One look into the dark pearl gray of his eyes showed hard experience mixed with layered depths of grit and determination.

Hot lead from whatever it was that made work for the undertaker had vented holes haphazardly across the outer walls and tall doors of the Agarose. It looked to have been one hell of a gunfight, which made him glad that he had not been part of it.

Dismounting at the rail in front of the Sheriff’s office, Poe watched as several flatbed wagons rolled by on their way to collect the bodies. Each driver sat hunched over his reins as if already regretting what it was that they were tasked to do.

With his horse properly tied, Poe stepped up onto the boardwalk and walked toward the Sheriff’s open door.

“Well hell Poe, took you long enough. I just sent the g’ddamn telegraph a couple hours ago.” The familiar deep basso voice of Sheriff Franklin Tombs rumbled out to greet him from within. “You should have warned me that you were on your way. I have not had time to properly hide the whiskey or lock away the women folk.”

“Good to see you, too, Franklin,” Poe replied easily, as he stepped into the single room office with a smile. It felt good to shake the beefy hand of his old friend once again. “Though from what I hear of the women around here, they are no better than the weak lemon water you pass off as whisky to the common traveler or I might be offended by such a crude and callous remark.”

Franklin Tombs was the one responsible for Poe joining up as a Marshal, although Poe himself often referred to it more as a hard twist of the arm rather than simple conviction that caused him to wear a badge.

At six-foot-six, Tombs had the thick-muscled build of someone who could easily wrestle a bull to the ground barehanded. His ample bulk served as simple intimidation rather than the twin six-shooters he wore, easily used to solve most problems that appeared amongst the locals. Poe noticed his friend had lost much of his dark brown hair since he had last been out this way. Thinning remnants wrapped around the bald spot atop his head and showed hints of gray.

Tombs was finally settled and married a local woman with a couple of children to chase after them, last Poe had heard.

Never been one to waste time with idle conversation, Tombs pulled out a half-empty bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses, filled for several toasts of old friends and the badges they had worn.

When finished, Poe put his glass down and looked at his friend. “You mentioned something about the telegraph earlier. I hate to take credit for showing up to answer it, but truth be told, I just happened to be riding through the area and wanted to stop by to give my regards. Seems there are a lot of dead folks out there, care to tell me what happened?”

* * *


Copyright © 2011 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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