The sheriff told everyone that every hotel was provided with a complement of arms just in case of an emergency. Joleen thought how she could have used that information. Then Trip said, “dam Sheriff that would have been a good thing to know.” The sheriff said that the guns and ammo in the hotels are just for emergencies and are not replacements for your own guns. He said this to the room but he stared at Trip the whole time he said it. Joleen filed that stare away as something to consider later. The men had no sort of identification on them. They did however, have matching weapons. Two random gang members with pricy matching guns. This didn’t add up. It was clear there was something missing from the story. Joleen picked up the rifle from the first man. It was new. The man’s revolver from what she could tell had never been fired. She decided to see the dead men and see if they had any answers.
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With no identification or way to identify them the doctor that acted as the town undertaker was preparing the bodies for burial. Just in case someone comes looking for a missing person Doctor James Henson uses a camera the town purchased to take a closeup picture as well as a full body shot of the dead. Dr. Henson likes to say he has a collection of the dead in his office. Joleen spoke to the doctor about examining the bodies. He said, “I don’t care if you eat them as long as I don’t have to watch.” She replied, “actually I was hoping you would stay just in case I had any questions.” She checked their hands. They were ruff with the wear of men that worked with their hands but no telltale signs of people who handle a gun for a living. Whoever they were they were not gun fighters. Their clothes were new and ill-fitting. Dr. Henson found a Russian Orthodox Bible in one of the men’s bags. It was customary for the undertaker to keep anything found on the body to pay for the expense. Joleen gave him all the money she had on her about twenty dollars so she could take the belongings with her.
She went back to the office and sat at her desk. In the bag with the bible she found some unsigned letters in some foreign language. Giving that the bible was Russian than the letters must also be in Russian. There was a lock of hair and a little pink bow. Either he had a daughter or a girlfriend somewhere. Maybe both. No wedding ring but that doesn’t mean anything as far as she knows the Russian Orthodoxy might not trade rings. She would have to ask someone about that. She found a small tin box with two baby teeth. Giving the nature of the man, he most likely has a daughter somewhere that loved her father. What he didn’t have was they typical stuff a gunfighter would have. No knife, no gun oil and most of all no extra rounds. It was like someone else loaded his guns for him. She unknowingly said out loud, “just what was there plan after they ran out of ammunition?” From behind her she heard the sheriff ask, “what do you think it means?” She replied, “I think these guys were paid to go up there and intimidate people on the street.” Joleen told the sheriff what she found in the bags and on the bodies. He seemingly shifted in annoyance about the time she started in on the bodies. Joleen said, “if I am stepping past my position then please.” The Sheriff interrupted her saying, “I wanted you for this kind of insight so this is your position. It’s just now I have to go ant talk to Dr. Henson about him not saying anything about the money.” Joleen said, “make sure you find out what they were paid in and if paper currency where was the currency issued.”
Before she left Joleen signed out a rifle from the arms locker along with the 45-70 rounds. She wanted to take the rifle to a local that worked in leather so she could easily carry it on her back. In the morning, she would order a rifle for herself but for now this would do. She didn’t like the weight of the rifle but the distance and stopping power made it a good weapon to have for now. Back in her room she broke the rifle down and cleaned it. Then she reassembled and loaded it. In the morning, she would take it out and fire some rounds through it to check the sights and how accurate she could be with the rifle. She read enough on the Winchester 86 to say she would order one. When she was done with the rifle she did the same with her Colt. As she did all this she wondered about Sam and how he just was there. No sound such as a door opening or closing and there was no outside ladder. Sam was keeping way too many secrets.
Just outside of town in an old abandoned ranch Joleen measured out the distances she wanted to test. At 500 yards, she was hitting her targets but with a large flat plate she was grouping her shots about 9” apart. The discrepancy in the two results seemed to say it was easier to aim at a small target than at a generic large one. After she ran through her tests she searched the ranch. No one claims ownership of the land and house. The town uses it for storage but mostly the barn not the house. With a little work, it wouldn’t take much to fix it up. It already had a well that worked and a wood burning stove in the kitchen. Having her own house would establish herself as a real resident of Hope, but living outside of town by herself could be dangerous. She could see herself in the house cleaning her guns, cooking and making love to John. Even here she couldn’t stop thinking about John and her together.
These stories will be based in the old west and an attempt at a modern western (later on).
PDFs are on new Story PDF page
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