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How Legends Are Born

Part 8 of 9

A Compilation

By the end of the week, with Running-Deer off in search of herbs and Bracna tending to other patients, Poe looked up to find the ample bulk of Sheriff Franklin Tombs filling the doorway as he casually leaned against the door jam.

Arms crossed, Tombs smiled around the toothpick clenched in his teeth as he took stock of his old partner.

“When they tried to tell me that you were dead, I simply told them that there was no g’ddamn way some half baked vampire whore would have taken the legendary Marshal Augustus Poe off that mountain.”

Poe could not help but smile at his friend’s sense of humor. “She almost did, Franklin. If my horse had not gotten spooked and run off, she just might have.”

Tombs spotted the bottle of whiskey and walked over to pour a shot. “Bracna mentioned something about medicine not mixing real well with this fire water or I would offer you a share.”

Snapping his head back, Tombs drained the glass. “Damn trail and this heat can make a man awful g’ddamned dry.” After he put the glass down, Tombs pulled a chair over and straddled it in reverse; a practiced habit of most lawmen to leave their pistols exposed and ready if they were suddenly in need of them.

Reaching into his pocket Tombs pulled out a bullet and tossed it to Poe. Looking at it, the bullet had the appearance of a pistol round. It was warped and bulged. “Your Indian friend gave that to Bracna. It was in your saddle and probably did what that brace aims to fix.”

Poe closed his eyes, realizing just how close he had come to not making it off that damned mountain as he clenched his fist around the bullet. “Where did they go, Franklin? We might yet be able to catch them.”

Tombs smiled and shook his head. “Not any time soon, not that we have not been trying. They must have gone West through the mountains, but they are a damned sight better than the Indians are at covering their back trail. Hell, they may have even learned that from them, for all we know.”

Poe put his head back against the wall in frustration. “So that is it then. They are just gone?”

“At the moment, however, they do have a history of reappearing in areas that they have been to before. We suspect they do not realize yet that there are people now making sure they are properly remembered.”

“This GSS group that I am supposedly being transferred to...”

Tombs nodded, resting his bulking arms on the back of the chair. “Remember old Pierre Beautouxe? Scrawny Frenchman who was a better cheat at cards than he was at trapping?”

“Among your last felons, if I recall. Found him dead from a bear attack or something did you not?” When Tombs looked at Poe without a word and a wry smile, Poe suddenly understood what had happened. “Was it not a bear?”

“No, it was a bear; just not a black, brown or grizzly. Chased that son of a bitch up onto the ridges and over to a cabin a lot like the one up on Tungsten Ridge, only much higher on the mountain. Poor Beautouxe had no idea a Lycan was waiting out the weather when he ran into him.”

“Did you get a shot off at him? The Lycan I mean.”

“Bit more than that, we tousled a bit after I found that bullets did not exactly work as well as I might have expected. Damned thing threw me off the back of that lodge into the valley below. The drop was quite the experience. If I had not landed on the branch of a big pine, it might have killed me. As it was I lay there for over a day before I figured my way down.”

Poe smiled picturing something getting the best of his friend.

“Poe, those things are as strong as ten men. Only thing that keeps them and vampires apart is they can whoop each other just about equally.”

“Did you track him?”

“After I found what he left of Beautouxe, I tried, but a storm came in and I lost him. Bonnet came calling a few days later with the same offer that he had for you.”

“You wired Danna to tell them about the attack, I take it?” Poe said evenly, finally understanding how this new group was keeping track of these creatures when and where they appeared.

“That is what they train us to do. Never knew why until then.”

“Franklin, the name Bracna seems familiar, ever run across it?”

“He has an Uncle in Texas with the Rangers. Andrew Bracna I believe. Somewhere in South Texas, last I heard. He came up looking for a couple men many years ago.”

Poe nodded when he remembered the name now. “Knew I had met a Bracna somewhere before.”

“Entire family goes way back in law enforcement. Matthew here tried to get into doctoring, but after treating a wounded Lycan, he made the mistake of sending a wire to Danna, and here he is wearing the badge he was trying so hard to avoid. I believe he often refers to it as either ironic or a family pox of sorts. You know doctors and those terms they use.”

Poe could only shake his head. “They have this figured out pretty damn good then. Why would they need me?”

“Not all lawmen are as clear about this problem as they would like them to be. Once you heal up, come spring they will find one and make him scarce for you to replace.”

Poe looked at his friend and raised a brow. “They would do something like that?”

The comment amused Tombs. “They are the g’ddamned government Poe. There are a lot of shady folks out there wearing badges that go missing all the time and no one gives a damn how they went gone.”

“Will it be in the territories or further West?”

Tombs thought about it. “Territories, most likely; seems the folks we are on the lookout for enjoy the comforts of city life, and for that they need money. But they do not like getting into trouble with crowds. When that happens, they need wide open spaces for quick getaways and mountains to hide in.”

“Does not sound like I am going to have much of a choice about this, am I?”

“I kinda doubt they will let you say no. They have a knack of making things interesting enough for any man to try for a while. It is all they ever ask.”

“Mary Jane,” Poe said with a resigned sigh.

Tombs actually laughed. “I met her after I settled in Poe, and it really was love at first sight. They are good, but not that good.”

Poe smiled. “Does she know?”

Tombs nodded. “Figured I had no choice, had to tell her; especially after the kids.”

“How did she take it?”

“I do not go running after those things any more, I just report them. Sort of a deal that we worked out between us. That squaw is awful easy on the eyes, you and her working things out?”

“Her spirits tell her to watch over me, and I am not as ready as you are to settle down quite yet.”

“Damned shame, you ask me. She would make a man a fine bride, dark skin or no. With her native ways, she ought to be capable of defending herself properly when called upon.”

It was time for Poe to laugh, even with the pain it brought. “Did you happen to notice a couple ne’er-do-wells when you came in?”

Tombs thought about it. “Scrawny, long brown hair, half pint tall on one over the other with the taller walking like he had been kicked by a mule one too many times?”

“She was the mule and it was only once.”

G’ddamn.

“He underestimated her once, and I doubt he will be back for seconds.”

Poe looked down at his brace and frowned as he tried to bend it. “So what do we do now?”

“Well, I brought a couple Spencer carbines along that you can use for target practice while you heal, or to learn that Indian how to shoot them.”

Poe had not thought about that until his friend mentioned it. “Suppose I might as well teach her how to handle a pistol as well.”

“That would be why Danna sent a couple new pearl-handled Colts as a welcome present; something about you having lost yours up in those woods. May as well have her break them in; might keep her from getting bored waiting for you to get up and around, old man.”

Poe sighed, realizing he had made his decision and was not entirely happy about having made it.

“I better talk to that woman at the store. She and Running-Deer do not exactly see eye to eye. If she is going to need clothes I doubt there is anyone else around that could fit her into some.”

“You leave that to me. Mary Jane is pretty handy at fashion and can still carry a needle with the best of them.”

Poe looked at his friend incredulously. “I thought she was a teacher?”

“If I told you that I married the local seamstress, I knew that I would never hear the end of it.”

Tombs stood and put the chair back. “Heal up and let me know if you need anything out here. Might even be able to rustle up some steaks for a proper meal and keep them cooked well enough not to attract vampires.”

“You are a funny man, you son of a bitch.” Poe replied with a painful chuckle.

As they shook hands, Tombs looked at him seriously. “Glad you are going to join us Poe.”

“You did not think you were going to get rid of me that easily did you?”

“People do underestimate that Indian, as poorly advised as that may be.” Tombs replied with a smile. “With the two of you together, they would be making a really big mistake.”

Alone in the room, Poe began to exercise his knee, knowing he had work to do if he was going to be up and around before winter arrived or the spring that would mark the beginning of his new career.

Maybe Running-Deer was right, the spirits knew what was coming and thought he would need her to help watch his back. With a smile, he wondered how the locals would take to an Indian deputy, let alone a woman.

Although the badge he had sworn to would change, his duty to the people of the territories would remain the same. What he had done as Marshal would not change much when they sent him to some distant town as sheriff. Like Tombs he would simply settle in and do what he had always done.

The law was the law, and the blood of a lawman ran thick in his veins. That was something that would never change.

No matter what kind of law-breaker he came across.

* * *

Conclusion


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

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