Sunday, July 20th, 1868 – The Becky-Lou Too, Morningstar Lines Double-Sidewheeler, Mississippi River, Louisiana
Only, there was nobody there but a still-skairt night clerk. The blood in the carpet was still there from where both Beau and Vincent had been, an’ the poor woman tol’ me that everybody had plum up an’ left, includin’ Vincent Black! I gave her D10 for the carpet, an’ then asked for directions ta the sheriff’s office.
A few minutes later, while I was contemplatin’ the benefits o’ workin’ alone out West, I heard the third loud gunshot of the night, an’ knew that someone, somewhere in town had prob’ly just been kilt by Mr. Black. A strange feelin’ took over me, an’ I almost succumbed ta it. I felt so … damned … frustrated. For a moment, I din’ care that one o’ my posse might be dead. Damn it ta Hell, I cautioned them, I warned them, an’ spirits help me if there was somethin’ short o’ tyin’ ‘em down like a steer I coulda done ta prevent ‘em from gettin’ shot. Hell, they deserved ta get shot!
I remembered that there were over a hundred people in the tourney, an’ Black likely though my posse dead, an’ felt deeply ashamed. I turned the shame best I could inta zeal, an’ walked a mite faster ta the sheriff’s office.
When I got there, I found a passel o’ idlin’ deputies. Confused, I asked ta see The Man hisself. I was tol’ he was still at home, asleep, as it was afore cock-crow. Somethin’ that had hurt when Annie died, and had been stretchin’ worse inside o’ me since I got that telegram … snapped. I very calmly asked for The Man’s home addresss.
Truth be told, I don’ remember what I said ta the (CENSORED) what was runnin’ the house when I got there. I know it was rude an’ involved my use of an iron. I wonder if Clara woulda still thought of me as a gentleman if she’d seen that. I remember bein’ glad none o’ my posse had seen it. I also remember resolvin’ ta stop medicatin’ and do my damn job.
The somnambulant law man din’ even kick on his boots. I explained that he had a number o’ murders in town, an’ it needed lookin’ inta. He tol’ me that the dead weren’t goin’ no-where 1 an’ he’d see to it in the mornin’. I tol’ him that the bodies were in cold storage, an’ he seemed ta think the job were done. Instead of feelin’ better, hurt turned ta rage. I got real polite an’ saw myself out.
In short order, I returned ta my posse’s muster point. It bein’ reasonably close ta the time for the ceremony, they were all actually there, as it served their interests ta do so. One can’t watch a woman accept more money than eight cattle drives would catch a baron in blood-spattered clothes. I ordered another pot o’ coffee an’ went through some of the papers the Padre 2 had gone through from Mr. Kane’s room. It turned out ta be some o’ the employment contracts for the four men representin’ Dr, Hellstromme at the tourney.
About the time I found the relevant clause, the screamin’ started as the bodies wuz discovered.
I walked upstairs without a word, travelled the halls ta a particular door, an’ then soberly informed my superior … that is, the now-clean General Beauregard… that he’d need ta inform his colleague of the phyrric cost of his successful mission.
Over eighty. The assassins had killed almost a hundred people, most of ‘em jus’ folks – people who’d been along ta watch, had been in the room with an intended victim, or had jus’ gotten in the way. It took all the sand I had in me ta go with the General ta inform the local law of the magnitude of the problem. I’m sure he assumed I was gloatin’, but I felt sick. Derelict. 3
The General then released me ta get some sleep – there was man’s work ta do, an’ I was in no condition. Instead, I went ta the local copy office an’ gave them an ‘exclusive’. I can only pray that everybody believes the story, ‘cause the truth is more horrifyin’ than I can stand.
I passed clean out at the copy office, an’ y’know what? Ev’rybody left me alone. Too busy, I guess.
But they din’ leave me alone. Rest, I got… but no sleep. It’s worse, now … known’ that I let ’em down…
1. If he only knew.
2. No, I din’ ask him where he got ‘em.
3. Oh, an’ I apologized for my earlier rudeness, too.