Author Topic: At Wit's End  (Read 62641 times)

Offline Elegant Ella

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At Wit's End
« on: February 07, 2010, 04:08:38 PM »
Marshal John Ross, called Tensleep by his friends, looked over the letter he had just finished with satisfaction. He could have wired the contents to Houston, but he didn't want Patches to read it. As far as Tensleep knew, there was no code that Patches couldn't break and she was too curious to resist trying. It was easier to write it as a letter than to try to get Patches far enough away from the telegraph office so that she couldn't hear Lily sending it.

Tensleep was getting out of the Marshal business while he was still in one piece. He had a wife and John Junior to worry about now, and a ranch that was growing more appealing to him every day.

He called out, "Jimmy!" and was answered by Jimmy Washington coming in to the office.

"Take this to the Post Office, then get on home to the Coatsworths to get ready for the party."

"Yes, sir," replied the young man, taking the letter and leaving.

Tensleep thought Jimmy was making a good beginning. He was living with the Coatsworths in town, along with his younger brother Eddie and their neighbor Lily Jefferson. Lily had also made a good start on her duties as a Deputy Marshal. With Ella retired, Tensleep needed a second person trained on the telegraph. Lily had volunteered and Patches reported her learning well. A side-effect of Lily learning was that Jimmy was learning as well. Those two had quite a history from growing up together: Lily determined to be able to do anything the Washington boys could do, and Jimmy just as determined not to let her get ahead of him.
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Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 11:13:36 PM »

“What are you doin’ Darlin’?” Becca asked finding him in the building, sitting behind the desk he occasionally had used for business.

“Lookin’ round one more time.” Tensleep replied thinking of the letter that was mailed earlier.

“John, I don’t want you to do this just to appease me, if you are having second thoughts please tell me.” Becca replied softly.

Tensleep got up and crossed the room in three long strides taking the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his arms. “I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t looking forward to it too. You know that. I’ve been talkin’ ‘bout it since the day we started courtin’.”

“Then what is it?” She asked.

“It’s a strange feeling knowing I am leaving the team. We are close you know.”

Becca smiled understandingly “We are all close and you know they will understand.”

Tensleep detected something knowing in her voice. “You think so huh?”

“Well Patches and Bill have their own son now, I know Ella will understand and Scarlet, well maybe her most of all.”

Tensleep raised an eyebrow “Scarlet most of all, really?” he chuckled.

“She never held it against me when I stopped riddin’ with her, she understood.”  Becca replied tracing her fingers along his chest “sides, now that you’re retiring I’ll tell you a little secret about her.”

“Don’t think I want to know her secrets.” Tensleep teased.

Becca giggled and shook her head “Scarlet often hides her emotions well, but she does have them. That’s her secret.” Becca winked “I tell Scarlet a lot of things and maybe we’ve been talking about family and the loss of it for some time now. If anyone would understand that it’s Scarlet. Perhaps she is the one that helped me work up the courage to even discuss it with you.”

Tensleep shook his head in disbelief. “I should say the two of you conspiring comes as no surprise to me. Now… what have you done with our son?”

“Grandma Rose is spoiling John Jr. already.” She laughed.   

Tensleep smiled thinking of the people that called him family, especially his wife. “You look gorgeous.” He said making her dip her head and giggle.

Taking her hand he lead her back towards the rose garden at the Southern Starr, they listened to the laughter and watched their son being passed from one person to the next as they reentered the rose garden, where the party following their son’s christening was in full swing. Everyone was offering congratulations and having a good time. 

Tensleep cleared his throat. “Attention everyone, I have an announcement” he said getting the attention of only some of the guests.

He looked at Becca and cleared his throat again. She grinned at him and shook her head. “Darlin’ you got to know how to get the attention of a bunch of loud cowboys if you’re going to get the attention of this group.” With that Becca let out a whistle surprising some and getting the attention of the rest of guests.

Tensleep raised his glass “My friends and family, I want to thank you all for celebrating this day with us and for being a part of our lives. You shared our happiness the day we were married, you share in our happiness today and even though I am stepping down as Marshal I hope you will continue to share in our lives and the raising of our family.” He noticed the look of surprise on some of the faces of his friends as he continued “I have written Houston announcing my retirement and my recommendation of Scarlet as the new Marshal.” His eyes traveled over every one of the posse members “You all have been one of the best teams I have had the pleasure of working with and I know you will continue to be a great team.”

Tensleep’s eyes stopped on Scarlet and raised the glass towards her “I know you will do me and our team proud.” 

Scarlet didn’t know what to say. She and Becca had been talking about the fact that Becca was afraid Tensleep would never come home again and it had kept Becca up at nights. She had plenty of company at the Ace when she was up late before but with baby John here she wasn’t going to be running into the Ace every time she couldn’t sleep, and she couldn’t bare the thought of losing her husband. Becca had lost one family before she came to live in El Paso and she didn’t want to lose another.

Scarlet had spent hours down by the river with her talking about life, and the loss of it. She was the one that had told Becca if she was afraid Tensleep was going to die in the line of duty she should talk to him about it. So the announcement of his retirement didn’t surprise Scarlet much, it was the fact he had recommended her as the new Marshal.

Scarlet didn’t know if she really wanted the marshal’s position, course she hadn’t given it much thought since it was unheard of to have a woman marshal; deputy marshal no doubt was pushing somebody out of shape, but this would send them in a frenzy and she knew it.

Tensleep raised a brow. “First time I think you’ve ever been at a loss for words Scarlet.”

“Don’t know what to say.” She replied.

“It’s customary to say thank you.” Fritz whispered with a grin.

Tensleep stepped up to her and held out the Marshal’s badge. “Take this and say yes.”

Scarlet took the badge “I’ll do right by this team Tensleep.” She said.


"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2010, 09:38:28 AM »
They danced, moving as one.  He was so fortunate.  Scarlet was his equal in all ways, his better in some.  She was a great choice, but Fritz knew there would be resistance.  There always was.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he asked.

“Are you okay with this?” she asked.

“I’ve been a man under authority for many years.  Oftentimes, I had no choice as to who I served under.  I choose to serve with you.  Who gives the orders is immaterial.”  Fritz spun Scarlet, admiring the way her skirts unfurled.

“You do know,” Fritz smirked, “this promotion means you’ll have to follow the rules.”

She gave him a look that’d melt the star on his chest.

“…occasionally,” he added.

Scarlet laughed and pulled him close.

Yes…he was a fortunate man.         

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 11:17:33 AM »
"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Marshal Luther Thompson, throwing the papers he was reading on to his desk.

"What's ridiculous?" asked Deputy Marshal Ambrose Hayes, coming into the office with a couple cups of coffee.

"This letter from Marshal Ross. How can he expect us to appoint a woman as a US Marshal?"

"If you look at the summary he included on each of the deputies who report to him, and the old reports from the El Paso office, Mrs. King is obviously the best choice."

"Her husband is one of the other deputies. It's unnatural, unholy and illegal for a woman to be in a position of authority over her wedded husband."

Ambrose picked up the papers and started reading out loud.

"Angelina 'Scarlet' Longknife Corbin King - 6 years experience as Deputy Marshal after 4 years experience as bounty hunter. Outstanding rider, outstanding shot, natural leader.
"Patience 'Patches' Ann McDowell - 3 1/2 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding telegraph operator, excellent rider, excellent shot. Outstanding team member. Wrote most of the reports.
"Dr. William McDowell - 3 1/2 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding scientist, good rider, good shot. Outstanding team member.
"Ella Wiley Coatsworth - 3 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding medic, excellent rider, excellent telegraph operator, good shot. Wrote the rest of the reports. Resigned in favor of private medical practice. Supports team as needed.
"Frederick King - 6 months full-time as Deputy Marshal after retiring from US Army with rank of Captain. Had worked with Marshals office when available for three years.
"James Washington - 2 months in position as Deputy Marshal. Excellent rider, good shot. Good team member.
"Lily Jefferson - 2 months in position as Deputy Marshal. excellent rider, beginning telegraph operator, good shot. Good team member."

"Which of them did you meet last year?"

"Doctor and Mrs. McDowell in El Paso, Mrs. King and Mrs. Coatsworth at Fort Fetterman. I actually met James Washington on that trip as well, since he was one of the prisoners Mrs. King and Mrs. Coatsworth had for us to transport."

"Last survivor of Firehouse Charlie's gang, if I remember right."

"Yes, Deputy Oliver Mason and Deputy Harold Locke got to know him pretty well since they spent the next six months hauling him from courthouse to courthouse, so he could give testimony about Firehouse Charlie's crimes. None of the courts he talked to was interested in putting Washington on trial. The fact that he is credited with saving lives during Charlie's attack on a Barlow & Sanderson stage outside Kansas City was in his favor. By the middle of December, he was released and sent home."

"Apparently he showed up in El Paso the middle of January, with his younger brother and a neighbor woman. Marshal Ross hired James and the woman, Lily Jefferson. I'll appoint Isaiah Phillips as the Marshal there for three months. That should be long enough for him to decide whether Dr. McDowell or Mr. King should be the Marshal."

"Is Phillips really the best choice?"

"He's not going to exaggerate the abilities behind a pretty face."

"He's not going to accept any woman's abilities at all. "

"He's available."

Ambrose snorted, "He's available because the good people of Pleasanton ran him out of town on a rail last month."

"He lasted six months in Pleasanton, he ought to be able to do the job in El Paso for three."

Ambrose silently rolled his eyes.

Luther sighed, "Look, I really need to get him out of Houston. He's showing too much curiosity about the White Investigation. I'll find something else for my brother-in-law before he gets back from El Paso."

"I suggest a prison, as a guard. Athough that might constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the other guards as well as the prisoners."

"Please take care of letting El Paso know he is coming."

Ambrose left the office and went to the telegraph to send a wire.

Elegant Ella

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 11:22:02 PM »
Patches kept shaking her head back and forth as she walked the message to the building that Scarlet was now using as an office when she wasn’t in town. The door was open so Patches went in.

“Got a message from Deputy Hayes. Don’t like it much, so I think yer gonna like it less.” Patches said handing the message to Scarlet.

Scarlet tightened her jaw, took a deep breath and glared at the message.

“I know.” Patches remarked.

“It’s not like it comes as a total surprise, but they don’t even have the courtesy to send someone they trust, someone I might respect the decision of? Let’s see we don’t trust him and he’s a woman hater lets just send him to a team that’s half women…..oh and don’t forget to tell the women he only THINKS he can fire anyone.” Scarlet said getting louder as she growled it out. “That’s just great.” She said standing continuing her rant.

 “He’ll be here Monday. I already don’t like him” she said looking at Patches “…oh but let’s not forget we should at least pretend to tolerate him. They were courteous enough to say please.” She said rolling her eyes.

“Should I send anything back to Houston?” Patches asked stepping out of Scarlet’s way then following her out the door.

Scarlet turned and faced her, took a deep breath and replied. “If you think we should send something send message received. That’s all I can come up with in the mood they just put me in, but I’m of a mind to send nothing at all at this point.”

Patches looked over at the desk and back at Scarlet. Scarlet looked at her “That’s the Marshal’s job he can do it when he arrives. I’ll take it to the office in town, cuz he ain’t workin’ out here.” Scarlet hissed.

Patches half smiled. “I’ll let you think ‘bout a reply for a while.”

“Doubt it will be any nicer, probably will just get worse after I have time to think on it more.” Scarlet replied. “Tell Bill he’s going to have someone checking him out. I’ll let Fritz know and then I’ll pack up some of the stuff the new Marshal needs and take it into town and get some of my stuff out of that office.”

“Where’s Phillips going to stay?” Patches asked.

“I can tell you where he won’t be staying.” Scarlet said eyeing the message again with a snort.

“I knew she wasn’t going to be happy.” Patches said to herself as Scarlet walked off.

Scarlet found Fritz. It only took one glance from him to realize she was not pleased about something.

“What’s wrong?” He asked walking over and running his hand down her arm.

“Marshal Isaiah Phillips will be arriving on Monday for a three month assignment to decide if you or Dr. Bill will be our new Marshal.”

“I can’t say that comes as much of a surprise to me Fritz, and both of you are good choices but what has me irritated is they included a message saying not only is he a woman hater but he only THINKS he can fire anyone and to please tolerate him. What the hell kinda man are they sending out here to make any kind of decision when they include those kinda comments?” 
"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain


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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #5 on: Today at 12:20:07 PM »

1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 07:53:56 AM »
Fritz thought about it a moment.  "When I was in the Army, a problem Soldier could be dealt with.  A problem NCO or officer was a different matter.  If they had seniority, it got worse.  The Army invested lots of time and money in training him, and they wanted their money's worth.  Rather than a discharge, they would often transfer a problem child to another post, so the new C.O. could deal with him.  It's not a good practice, but it does happen.  I suppose it happens in the Marshal's service as well."

"I don't like it," Scarlet hissed.  "I don't like it one bit."

Fritz took her hands.  "Honey, this is a passing fancy.  They already have the right man for the job.  It so happens that the right man is a woman."

Scarlet giggled.  He enjoyed the sound.

"Are you sure you can work under me?" she asked.

Fritz smirked.  "Is that a trick question?"

Scarlet pushed his hands away. "You're terrible!"

"Nope...just truthful.  You've been a marshal far longer than I have.  You have experience, courage, leadership...all the traits of a good U.S. Marshal.  Besides, if they try to give it to me I'll turn it down."

"You'd do that?"

"In a minute," Fritz replied.  "Darlin', I've done my time in leadership billets.  I just want to live my life now.  Besides," he said, taking her hands again, "you giving me orders isn't half bad!"

This time they laughed together.        

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2010, 09:33:40 AM »
She slid her arms around her neck and kissed him deeply then smiled and looked into his eyes. “You would be a good choice because you know how to keep me in line, most of the time. Not something many have mastered Darlin’.” She grinned.

“It’s a never ending learning process, I’ve been lucky.” Fritz teased.

Scarlet laughed again. “You charmed me.” She teased back, and then got serious again “I’m smart enough to know if we had to take someone to trial a good lawyer could discredit me. It’s more of a problem for the marshal than it would be for a deputy. If it had been any other team I probably wouldn’t have bothered to try it.” 

She stepped back tilted her head to the side and looked him up and down with an impish grin, put her hand on her hip and took a deep breath. “I certainly hope you never turn down a request that would put me under you.”

Her look almost made him blush. “Oh who’s being terrible now?!” he asked.

Scarlet tried to look innocent and shrugged her shoulders as they both started to laugh again.

"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 10:22:16 PM »
Spending time with Fritz had definitely put her in a better mood. Scarlet decided she would try to tolerate the man; after all she’d dealt with many people that sounded just like him. She was still mad at the marshals in Houston, but it was not Phillips’ fault as far as she knew.

She packed the papers she had told Patches was the marshal’s job in her saddlebags. She would drop those by the office in town and go tell Ella and others the news.
"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2010, 07:39:12 AM »
Scarlet needed to work, and he knew that their behavior would lead to things other than work if he kept at it.  Though the thought made him smile, she was the Marshal now.  If she needed him she’d call.  He returned to their house so he could occupy himself with another of his favorite pastimes: shooting!

The holster sat slightly behind his left hip.  The grip came naturally to his hand as his arm came up.  Sights on the target and hammer back. Five loud cracks came in quick succession.

Fritz broke the pistol open.  Five casings ejected smartly from the cylinder.  He reloaded from the cap pouch on his prairie belt.  He’d removed the wool so they’d fit better.  Snapping the action closed, he fired five more rounds into the skillet.  Satisfied that it hit where he aimed at, Fritz ejected the empties and reloaded before holstering the piece.

The Schofield had been a retirement gift.  Scarlet and the boys presented it to him on the first “union suit” night back at the ranch.  He’d never handled one of these pistols while in the service, but found it to be superior in every way to the Colt, save one: ammunition.  Smith and Wesson had decided on a proprietary cartridge, the .45 Schofield round, which was shorter than the Colt round.  You could fire Schofield rounds in the Colt, but you could not fire Colt rounds in the Schofield.  This turned into a major problem with the supply systems of the Army.  Though it showed great promise, the Schofield revolver did not remain long in Army service.  His particular pistol was one that had been destined for Wells Fargo.  The barrel had been shortened to five and a half inches.  The stocks had been replaced with ivory, and a presentation case was fitted.   It was a fine gun…Fritz just wasn’t used to it yet.  He scooped up the empties headed for the barn.

Fritz lit the carbide lamp above his work bench, and dropped the empties into a bucket of sudsy water.  He pulled the spare set of reading glasses from the pegboard and set them on.  Fritz opened the action, dropping the live rounds on the padded surface.  He swept them up and replaced them in the cap pouch.  Fritz took a small screwdriver and removed the rear screw from the barrel latch.  Lifting up on the latch, he removed the cylinder and set the stripped revolver down.  Grabbing a bottle of solvent, he went to work scrubbing the bore. 

For the most part He enjoyed his retired life.  He did miss the camaraderie and Espirt de Corps of the service.  In compensation, Fritz threw himself headlong into marshalling.  When he wasn’t working, he threw himself headlong into the ranch.  Under Scarlet’s tutelage, he’d become a proficient horse trainer. 

Yet like a thunderstorm at the horizon, there was a nagging feeling at the base of his spine that something was coming.  He’d trained this instinct too long to ignore it.  Once finished, he’d reassembled the Schofield and slipped it back into its holster.  Fritz cleaned his work area, stowed his glasses, and blew out the lamp. 

He carried the rig into the house.  Fritz walked to the bedroom and stored the pistol in a gun cabinet.  Between the two of them, he and Scarlet filled three such cabinets.  Slung on the headboard of the bed was his working rig.  He’d used a garrison belt with the U.S. buckle as the base.  Left and right crossdraw holsters for his converted Navies had been added.  There were cartridge loops for both shotgun and revolver ammunition across the back.  A cartridge slide held five rounds for his Berdan.  Scarlet had the second Navy converted and stocked in American Holly.  The wood was similar to ivory in appearance and aged as well.  He could tell the difference by feel only.  Whereas ivory was cold and smooth, the Holly was warm. 

Strapping on his rig, Fritz grabbed his coat and slouch.  The crossed sabers were still mounted on front of his hat; he didn’t have the heart to take them off.  The silver badge was pinned to his lapel.  Satisfied, he walked to the barn and called Buddy over.  The horse nudged his jacket pocket.  Knowing what he wanted, Fritz pulled one of Ella’s horse cookies from a sack on the wall.  Buddy munched greedily as Fritz cinched on a working saddle. Once ready, they moved out smartly towards town.     

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2010, 02:52:18 PM »
Scarlet showed up in Ella's waiting room later that day. "New Marshal is coming Monday. He's not going to be staying at the Starr or at the Ace. We probably need to set up the house that Scott used to live in, if we're not sending him on the next stage out of town." asked Scarlet.

"He could board with me, like Jimmy and Lily do," replied Ella.

"Doubt that you would want him," said Scarlet, handing Ella the telegram.

After reading it, Ella laughed, "Oh, Marshal Hayes has been a naughty boy."

"Why do you say that?"

"Probably all he was supposed to send was that first line. But Marshal Hayes has met us, didn't agree with the decision to send Phillips, and doesn't like the man at all. So he thought we should be warned. I'm sure Bella has a cousin who can be his cook and housekeeper."

Monday, March 12, 1877

Isaiah Phillips stepped off the stage and into Purgatory, cursing his sister again for having married a Texas lawman instead of someone with Influence back in Civilization. None of his other sisters had done even that much for him. The men waiting stepped forward and one of them introduced himself, "I'm John Ross. I'd like you to meet some of my deputies, Frederick King, Dr. William McDowell, James Washington. The rest are waiting at the Marshal's office. James and Eddie will bring your luggage."

Phillips took his carpetbag, saying in a harsh New York accent, "I'll carry this", and left the Washingtons to bring his trunk.

At the office, Tensleep introduced, "Here are the rest of my deputies. Scarlet King, Patience McDowell, Lily Jefferson. Doctors Alan and Ella Coatsworth support the posse. Mrs. Coatsworth has gotten the marshal's house ready for you. I'll leave you all to get acquainted."

After Tensleep left the room, Phillips put down his carpetbag and announced, "Girls, it's past time for you to stop pretending to be deputy marshals. I suggest that you go back to taking care of your husbands," he looked at Lily, "or playing with dolls."

Only the warning they had received in the telegram kept Fritz from denouncing the man as an imposter.

Dr. Bill was the first to react, "I'll have you know, sir, that the only person in this room who MIGHT be able to outride and outshoot my wife is Scarlet King. If you have no respect for outstanding women, I have no respect for you." He took Patches by the hand and they left the office.

Scarlet eyed Phillips and his carpet bag. She had tried to forget the bad opinion she had of him before he arrived, but that had been nothing compared to what it was after the man opened his mouth.

"I suggest Houston send me a real marshal instead of some damn yankee carpetbagger wearin' a badge and that you go back to whatever hole they found you in," growled Scarlet with an icy look.

"Marshal Luther Thompson sent me here, and here I serve until I get a recall notice from him." Phillips looked at the men in the room, "Two deputies is a little short-handed." Looking at Eddie, he said, How old are you, son?"

"I'm 16, sir."

"A little young, but you can learn in the job. Do you want to be a Deputy Marshal?"

"Not yet, sir. I'm still learning how to be a medic for the posse from the Coatsworths."

Phillips hadn't heard of any other marshals who worried about having a medic in the posse. Sounded like the kind of thing a marshal who was soft enough to hire women would do.
Elegant Ella


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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:20:07 PM »

1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2010, 10:05:50 PM »
Both he and Scarlet knew that this man was no real threat.  However, he'd seen that look in his wife eyes before.  Normally, the person being looked at like that ended up dead by some particularly nasty means.  He touched Scarlet's shoulder; she looked at Fritz and nodded.

"Marshal, someone needs to be patrolling the town," Fritz said.  "You get settled.  Scarlet and I will take first watch."

They didin't wait for a response.  Scarlet and Fritz were out the door and down the boardwalk.     

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2010, 11:53:22 PM »
Marshal Phillips started to puff up, but before he could respond to Fritz, Ella spoke up, "We can take you to your house now, and introduce you to the cook/housekeeper. If she doesn't suit you, let me know and I'll see if I can find someone else. We would like to invite you to dinner at our house this evening."

Mention of "house" reminded Phillips that he had been in trains, stagecoaches and coaching stations for the past three days. He picked his carpetbag up again and led the way out the front door. Dr. Coatsworth followed him closely, and guided him around the corner, to the Marshal's house behind the office. Ella took a shortcut out the back door of the office, and into the kitchen door of the house.

"Hola, Catarina. Marshal Phillips viene a la puerta principal. Yo no sé si él seirá feliz o infeliz para usted hablar inglés, pero pienso que él prefeririá para usted hablar muy poco."
(Marshal Phillips is coming to the front door. I don't know if he would be happy or unhappy for you to speak English, but I think he would prefer for you to speak very little.)

Alan Coatsworth reached around Marshal Phillips and opened the front door. Ella, Bella and Catarina had worked hard since the message had come to clean and air the house that had been unoccupied ever since Marshal Hart's death three years before. Now the furniture was freshly polished, the cushions had been recovered, and a vase held a bouquet of herbs and flowers from Ella's garden that lightly scented the air. Anyone familiar with the language of flowers would recognize Juniper for 'Welcome to new home' and 'protection', Comfrey for 'Home Sweet Home', and Black-eyed susan for 'Justice'. Only someone familiar with Ella's notebooks would know that other elements in the bouquet were a charm encouraging calmness and courtesy. After meeting the man, Ella doubted that such a gentle charm would have any effect on him. She needed to get some of his hair.

Catarina came into the living room when the front door opened. Alan performed the introduction, "Catarina Mendez, Marshal Isaiah Phillips. Mrs. Mendez lives a few blocks away, and will come at whatever hours you prefer to cook and clean for you."
Elegant Ella

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2010, 12:08:24 AM »
Scarlet was quiet, to quiet for Fritz’s taste as she headed directly to the telegraph office.

Tinker looked up when she came in. He’d seen that look before and it was never good. “Bag fulla wet rattlesnakes would be safer to play with than who ever lit your fire.” He remarked.

She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. “There’s a new marshal in town.” She said flatly.

“You don’t like that Phillips fella much. I didn’t figure you would.” He said.

“Tink we go back a long time.” She said slowly as she thought about what she was doing and saying. “We’ve always done right by each other as friends.”

Tinker smiled at the thought. “Yes we have, I know we can always count on one another.”

Scarlet smiled. “Thank you.”

“I want you to get a message to Dad…..say new Marshal Isaiah Phillips. Not welcome on Starr. Bo’s choice.”
Tinker looked up at her shocked; he didn’t have to write down the message. “You sure? You think he’ll go out there?”

“I hope he does.” She retorted.

Tinker laughed under his breath. Thinking he’d like to be there the first time the new marshal rode onto the Southern Starr.

“Any message for your hands?” He asked.

“Phillips ain’t got no business there if Fritz isn’t there.” She replied and waited while Tinker sent the message.

Thinking about what Ella had said. "Probably all he was supposed to send was that first line. But Marshal Hayes has met us, didn't agree with the decision to send Phillips, and doesn't like the man at all. So he thought we should be warned.” So as far as Marshal Thompson thought she had only heard Phillips was coming.

“Send the next wire to Marshal Thompson, say according to Phillips female posse members told to stop pretending to be deputies, return to domestic chores or go play dolls.”  Scarlet tapped her fingers on his desk while she thought of what else to say then got an evil grin on her face. “Keep your carpetbagger off my playground.”

Tinker started to send the message. “That’s gonna make Thompson mad.” He said.

“Finding it kinda tough to care right now Tink. I doubt Phillips has enough experience to be a marshal. ‘Sides there’s something wrong with the man. I just don’t know what yet. Oh and let that wire slip on to the retired Marshal there too.”

“Ya just don’t like ‘im Scarlet, plain and simple.” Tinker said shaking his head back and forth.

“Dirty little secrets Tink, you seem to know them all.”

Tinker smiled. “Yes ma’am.”

He knew it was her way of asking him to find them all out about Phillips. Tinker used to enjoy when she was bounty hunting. Not only was it entertaining to drive Hart insane knowing she was one step ahead of him and wondering how, but it paid well and she never expected Tinker to take too much of a risk. Things were about to get interesting in El Paso again.

Scarlet was quiet for a short time when they stepped back onto the boardwalk. Finally she looked sideways at Fritz as they walked and said as a matter of fact “If Phillips comes to the Starr he will be disarmed and escorted while there. He will not be welcome to cross the land without permission.”

"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2010, 09:09:29 AM »
Jimmy and Eddie carried the trunk into the larger bedroom and put it down at the foot of the bed, then left through the front door. Jimmy returned to the office, and Eddie to the Coatsworth's residence.

Catarina extended the tray she had brought with her. In careful English, she said, "Good afternoon, Senor Phillips. Would you like a glass of lemonade?"

Marshal Phillips looked at her, considering. The woman was older than any of his sisters, and treating him with the respect he deserved. Her English sounded good enough that she should be able to receive orders easily. He took the glass, and asked, "Can you read and write?"

"A little, Senor. Enough to read American recipes that Mrs. Coatsworth gives me."

"Bring me breakfast at 7:00am, and dinner at 7:00pm. You can clean for a couple hours after each meal."

"Yes, Senor."

Phillips sipped at the lemonade, and decided it was good.

"Here are your keys, Marshal," said Alan, handing over a key ring. "This is for the house - front and back doors are keyed alike, and these are the keys to the Marshal's office, including the cellblock. Now it's time for me to get back to my practice. We'll expect you for dinner at 7:00pm. Jimmy will be able to show you the way."

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2010, 09:35:18 PM »
"Yes, Marshal!" Fritz replied.  He raised his hand in mock salute, and Scarlet hit him with the brim of her hat.

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 07:45:06 PM »
At the end of the work day, Jimmy and Marshal Phillips walked over to the Coatsworth's home for dinner. Lily had left earlier, to avoid walking with Phillips.

The dining table at the Coatsworths had seated twelve at dinners in the past, so there was a large gap on each side of the table with only six at dinner. Alan was at the head of the table with Phillips on his right and Ella on his left. Lily sat at the foot of the table with Jimmy on one side and Eddie on the other. The young ones talked quietly, and did not attract Phillips's attention.

Ella remembered how she had to behave to keep Doctor Abramson pleasant, and applied that memory to Phillips. He was willing to be good company with Alan, treating him with a reasonable degree of respect. Bella served pot roast, prepared without any spicy seasonings, the way Ella had taught her while Alan was acclimating to Texas cuisine.

Phillips drank heavily of the red wine, and talked more and more about his wonderful future. It wasn't clear to Ella exactly what Phillips meant, but something in her memory was resonating with his words, but she couldn't pin the memory down.
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Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2010, 10:36:48 PM »
Fritz had been pleasantly woken the last two mornings with smells of some of his favorite breakfast foods cooking.

Scarlet had been staying close to home and working with the horses while he went to town to work with Phillips. Dinner was ready when he got home at night and the house seemed to fill with different kinds of roses every time he came in. He had to admit to himself he was enjoying her being at home but would still have preferred her at his side in town.

He had told her that last night before falling to sleep. He also told her just because she was there it didn’t mean she needed to spend much time with Phillips. She only asked he give her a couple more days. His instincts told him it was more that just Phillips that was bothering her.

This morning seemed to be no different. The house was filled with wonderful smells as he heard Scarlet come into the room.

She leaned down and kissed his neck “You gonna get out of bed this morning Darlin’?” she said softly as she began to rub his shoulder.

He was about to respond when they heard a knock at the door. “Scarlet.” It was Bo’s voice.

“Seems you’re not the only one that enjoys a hot breakfast Darlin’, better get up before Bo eats your share too.” Scarlet said leaving the room to answer the door.

Fritz could hear the conversation as he pulled on his clothes.

“I thought I smelled something good.” Bo said coming in.

“Take a seat and a plate.” Scarlet said. “You are in some kinda happy mood. Certainly it’s not from finding me home cooking.”

“That’s always a pleasant surprise, but I bring some interesting news.” Bo replied.

“What is it?” Scarlet asked.

“This is just to entertaining for me not to wait for Fritz, I saw the horses in the corral, so I figured he was still home.”

“He’s here, should be out momentarily.” Scarlet replied dishing up Bo’s breakfast. “What has gotten into you?”

Fritz opened the door and came out. Scarlet smiled at him and put his breakfast on the table.

“Tell her she needs to go to work with me today.” Fritz said giving her a kiss.

“She’ll be going to town today.” Bo replied.

Scarlet sat down with her own plate. “Ok Bo, what’s got you all fired up so early in the morning?”

Bo grinned “Got a wire from Tinker.”

“You fellas sharing secrets now?” Scarlet teased.

“More like affection for the same girl.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow “Oh, anybody I know?”

Bo sat back and continued to grin, he was enjoying this. “Oh yeah Darlin’, someone we haven’t seen a long long time. Used to pass through El Paso now and then.” He looked over at Fritz. “You’ve got to come to the Ace tonight, this lady Fritz, you ain’t gonna believe, you just have to see her for yourself.”

Fritz chuckled “I don’t think I have seen you so happy to go see one of the girls that work at the Ace Bo, but you know where my heart lies. I have no interest going there unless Scarlet is going to be there.”

“Who is it Bo?” Scarlet asked looking at him suspiciously.

“We haven’t seen her since before Hart died.” Bo said watching Scarlet, who just didn’t seem to be making any connection to his references. “Tinker says Ruby is coming to town this afternoon. He’s got some kind of business with her.”

Scarlet nearly choked on her breakfast. “What?”

Bo’s grin widened. “Oh yeah, seems Ruby has been talking to Tinker recently. He says she ought to be in town this evening.” He looked from Scarlet to Fritz. “Long auburn hair, a real looker.” He looked back over at Scarlet “I hope she’s wearing that dark blue and black outfit she’s got. That one that’s short in the front shows off her legs.”

“You blue eyed devil.” Scarlet retorted.

Bo looked over at Fritz who seemed to not know who they were talking about. “You’ve never met Ruby have you?” He said surprised.

“Don’t recall the lady.” Fritz said.

Scarlet suppressed a grin. “I’m sure you will recognize her once you meet her Sugar.”

“Will you be there?”

“I have business with Ruby. I’ll see you at the Ace this evening. We can stay in town. Tomorrow I’ll stay and patrol with you if you’re nice to Ruby tonight.”

“I got business in town today Fritz I’ll ride in with you.” Bo said.

to be continued
"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2010, 11:00:16 PM »
Co-effort of Scarlet and Fritz

Bo had gone to the mercantile and picked out a dark blue shirt that matched his eyes. It was going to be a rather entertaining evening if Fritz really had no clue who Ruby was.

He wouldn't be the first though. Many men had sat next to and danced with Ruby never realizing she was more than a pretty face and long legs, including Marshal Hart. There were only a handful of men who knew what truly lied under the theatric makeup.

Bo met Fritz coming down the boardwalk.

“All dressed up.” Fritz said noticing the new shirt Bo wore.

“Ruby always liked me in this color.” Bo said with a smile. “I cannot believe Scarlet has never introduced you to her before. Watch her close Fritz she’s a handful this one.”

“He’s never met Ruby? Well I’ll be.” Tinker’s voice sounded from behind them.

Fritz hadn’t seen Bo this chipper since he’d been sleeping with Ella.  Well, they hadn’t really slept together, in the marital sense. 

Despite his initial misgivings, Dr. Alan Coatsworth had turned out to be a pretty nice guy.  So that meant Bo would be alone again.  He deserved someone nice.  Fritz wondered if this Ruby were the right one.

Bo was whistling, which usually annoyed Fritz.  But under the circumstances, he made an exception.

“She must be pretty special to get you all worked up like this.”

“I’m NOT worked up,” Bo replied.  “Besides, you haven’t been properly introduced to the lady.”

“I’ve got Scarlet, Bo.  And she’s all I want…all I need.”

“I know Scarlet as well as you do,” Bo said.  “And I know that Ruby could turn your head.”

“Not a chance,” Fritz replied.

“Care to wager on that?”

“Bo, you know I only gamble with my life, never with my money…”

“…because you don’t have enough money to wager,” Bo finished.  “I know you’ve put some money away.  You’re sure not spending it on clothes.”

The ribbing hit a nerve.  “All right wise guy,” Fritz replied.  “The price of that pretty new shirt of yours...”

Bo countered.  “How about the price of a whole new outfit?”

“As long as we’re going for broke here, how about the price of a new Colt?”

“Done,” Bo said, shaking his hand.

Both men walked the boardwalk.  Bo was smiling.  Fritz didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into.

Tinker went in first scanning the room. “Howdy Hank.”

“Gentlemen. There’s table in back there for ya.” Hank said pointing to one of the tables in the corner. “Tinker, how many people you been talking to today, there has been a steady stream of fellas coming in here for a few hours now.”

“I didn’t tell too many fellas that would mean I wouldn’t get as much attention.” Tinker replied.

 Bo tried to suppress the grin he’d been sporting all day long.

“It was you.” Hank said looking at Bo. “I should’ve known, few of these boys belong to the Starr. Your own foreman beat ya’ll out here.”

“Good back up never hurts.” Bo responded. “Besides, it’s good for business and it keeps Ruby out of trouble. Boy’s from our place are always respectable.”

Hank laughed. “Only when you’re sitting there Bo. Ruby is very skilled at avoiding being elusive when she wants to be but a few of your boys are giving her a run for the money.”

Bo laughed. “Ruby is a big girl and she could surely put them in their place if she chose to. How long has she been here?”

“A few hours.”

Fritz went to take a seat at the bar.

“Oh no you don’t.” Bo said “you’re sitting with us.”

The men took the seats at the table.

Ruby was not hard to spot. She was the one that no one had seen before, or for some time if you’d been a long time regular. She was serving drinks at another table and expertly avoiding pats on the rear from some of the cowboys. She moved gracefully through the room like she knew were every stick of furniture was and could have done it in the dark.

“She looks great.” Tinker remarked. “I always like Ruby. She surely gives Becca some competition.”

“To bad Becca’s not here, I always enjoyed watching the two entertain together. Member when they bet who could make the most tips and not leave the floor.” One of the hands remarked.

“I remember Becca won that because she is friendlier to more cowboys, Ruby is a bit more particular who she lets touch her.” Bo replied.

The woman had long auburn hair that hung in ringlets below her waist. Her face was painted expertly from the dark color on her eyelids to the ruby red lipstick and color on her cheeks.

The dress she wore had a midnight blue satin corset style top with black velvet insets and beaded embellishments. A black velvet drape front overskirt with beaded fringe just barley covered her thighs and gathered into a bustle in the back that sat over a midnight blue satin train that nearly hit the floor. She wore black and blue silk striped stockings that perfectly matched her dress, high heel lace up boots, long black satin fingerless gloves, red paint on her nails and a barrette in her hair with stones that matched the colors in her dress.

She had spotted the group when they came in and came over when they were seated.

“Well bless my heart blue eyes, how did you know lil’ ol’ Ruby’d be here tonight.”  She said landing in Bo’s lap and crossing her legs all in one perfect move, her back to Fritz so he couldn’t see her face.

Bo put his hand around her waist and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Oh and look you wore Ruby’s favorite color.” She said tracing her fingers along Bo’s chest.

“My gawd woman.” Was about all Bo could get out before she bounced up. He’d forgotten about the way Ruby smelled like warm vanilla.

She sashayed behind Tinker tracing her finger along his back. “You gonna dance with Ruby tonight Wireman?” she asked her thick southern accent dripped with honey.   

“Yes ma’am.” He said with a smile tuning his head to watch her walk by.

“Nice ta see you here Ricky.” She said caressing his cheek as she walked by.

She stopped between Fritz and Bo putting her hand on one hip and curving her leg so she stood on the ball of her foot. She put her arm across Bo’s shoulder.

“You men drinking the usual tonight?” She asked.

“I got first round.” Bo said handing her some money.

Ruby promptly tucked the money in her cleavage “Well alright then. Anything you men want that the Ace offers Ruby will take care of gettin’ for you.” She said then made her way to the bar.

“Bo how can we make Ruby stay on here?” Tinker asked.

“Ruby, my friend, is a free spirit. I don’t think there is a way to keep her here.” Bo replied enjoying watching her walk away.

He turned his attention back to Fritz. “I know you prefer blondes but she is a real looker ain’t she?”

Fritz pulled the flask from his vest pocket and took a short pull. 

"She doesn't hold a candle to Scarlet," he replied.

Bo laughed and looked at Ruby coming back towards them. “She is different looking than Scarlet.” He remarked wondering just how women made their breasts look bigger than they really were. It had to be more than just the outside clothing. The make up sure made ‘em look different too. Half of the painted ladies you could pass on the street when they weren’t made up and not know they spent their time in this place entertaining. Perhaps that was the idea.

Tinker and Ricky took a long look and shook their heads in agreement to Bo's comment.

 Ruby returned with one of the best bottles the Ace carried and enough glasses for the table. She stepped up next to Fritz turned her body towards him and landed one heel neatly right between his thighs, giving him one hell of a view of her leg and chest as she bent to put the glasses and bottle on the table.

“You gonna introduce Ruby to the law here blue eyes?” He said flashing a smile at Fritz then looking over her shoulder at Bo and removing her foot placing it back on the floor.

Fritz did his level best to cast his eyes away from the auburn haired beauty that placed herself right before him.  He waited until her leg moved far enough away to be decent, and he slid his chair back.  Bo made to reach for his chair but he wasn't quite fast enough.

"Gents," Fritz said, standing, "I think I've had more company than I can handle.  I think I'll go up to my room now."

Fritz tipped his hat to the lady, covering his blush.  "Ma'am."

Ruby’s eyes flashed and she smiled. “Not before you share a dance with Ruby lawman.” She said taking his hand stepping into him and very skillfully maneuvering him onto the floor to a slow sounding beat. Not only had she stepped close enough to make Fritz uncomfortable she was leading.

“Before you hightail it outta here lawman do me two favors. First relax a bit Fritz and at least humor Ruby so she can talk to you. She said as she moved him towards the darker corner of the room.

To be continued
"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2010, 09:22:54 PM »
Co-effort of Scarlet and Fritz

I want you to observe the two men in the corner. They been sittin’ in here nursing that bottle all afternoon. When you came in their eyes got wide and they moved to the darkest corner in the place and have been keeping a close eye on you. Before they were sittin’ by the window very interested in what was going on outside. Maybe it’s something maybe it’s not, but I think I’ve seen one of them on a poster someplace.” She said quickly before Fritz could think of a way to escape her hold.   

He'd been so intent on avoiding Ruby's charms that he'd ignored the obvious danger signs in the room.  He should've been more observant. 

Fritz switched hands, taking the lead.  He placed his right hand in the small of her back, and danced her back toward Tinker and Bo.  Ruby grabbed his hand and pulled it down to caress her butt.  Bo and Tinker busted out laughing.  Blushing, Fritz released Ruby and bowed at the waist.

"Thank you Ma' dance...divinely."

Ruby curtsied, batting her eyes.  "Thank you kind sir."

Fritz reached into his vest pocket, and pulled out a $20.00 gold coin.  Setting it in front of Bo, he leaned in and said "Take's yours."

As Bo reached for the coin Fritz whispered "two men in the corner.  Back my play."

Bo caught her disapproving glance as he stood to follow Fritz. He was going to pay for entertaining himself at Fritz’s expense later he was darn sure. He followed Fritz across the room.

Fritz walked to the bar and nodded to Hank.  Fritz pulled a cigar from the humidor, and Hank stuck a Lucifer to light him.  As Hank leaned in close, Fritz whispered “scattergun.”  Hank nodded and blew out the match.  Fritz took a long draw from the cigar, and transferred it to his right hand.  With one smooth motion, he stepped away from the bar and twist-drew his left pistol.  The hammer went back and the sights aligned on the two men in the corner.
“Hands on the table now…MOVE!”

The click of twin hammers being cocked was very loud in the room. 

“You boys best do as the deputy says,” Bo spat, cocking the hammer on his Colt.

They were pinned to the corner and they knew it.  They had three guns on them, one being the street howitzer Hank kept under the bar.  Fritz walked deliberately up to their table, keeping out of Bo and Hank’s angles. 

“Now, open your jackets…slowly.”

Both men did as they were bid.  Both wore holstered pistols on their right hips.

“I guess you didn’t see the sign outside,” Fritz said.  “All patrons, with the exception of those well known by the management, are required to surrender their firearms upon entrance to the premises.”

“We didn’t do nuthin…we’s just sittin here.”

“Can you read?” Fritz asked.  Both shook their heads.  He reached in with his right hand, taking their pistols and sliding them into his belt.

“You got paper on you?”  Again with the head shake.  “Okay…we’ll see.”

Bo and Tinker stood up.  Fritz stood back and ordered the men to their feet.  “Let’s take a walk.  The Marshal’s office is just down the street.  With Tinker’s help, we should be able to clear this up quickly.”

They walked solemnly to the Marshal’s office.  Once inside, Bo and Fritz patted the men down.  They found a motley assortment of hideout guns and skinning knives.  Once checked, the men were locked into separate cells.  The slamming of the cell doors drew the attention of Marshal Phillips. 

“What’s going on here King?” the Marshal asked.

“Two men in violation of a local ordinance,” Fritz replied.  “Tinker, would you be so kind as to take these men’s names and wire them to the county seat for verification?”

“Love to,” Tinker replied.

As Tinker wrote the men’s names on his notebook with a stubby pencil, the Marshal stepped in. 

“You can’t seize these men without probable cause.  What did they do to warrant an arrest?”

“I didn’t arrest them,” Fritz replied.  “I’m detaining them until I can figure out who and what they are.”

“You MUST let these men go…NOW.  Do you read me, DEPUTY?”

Fritz stared at the man in disbelief.  He stepped to the booking table and unloaded all of the guns.  Stowing the ammo in a cloth sack, he walked back and unlocked the cells.

“Take your weapons and go,” Fritz said.  “And don’t reload them until you leave town.”

The two curs walked to the table and picked up their gear. 

“We’ll remember you,” one said.

“And I’ll be watching you,” Fritz replied.         

Tinker had gone back to his office and sent off the names, Fred Rico and Jim Hoss. He doubted those were their real names and sent a couple more wires before going back across the street to the Ace.

Ruby was still on the floor when he came back.

“Ruby, next dance is mine and the next round is on me Darlin’.” Tinker said holding up what looked like a roll of cash. She took that and placed it with the rest of the money she’d been collecting and went to the bar as Tinker took his seat.

She came back and placed the bottle between him and Ricky, then held out her hand for Tinker to take her to the dance floor.

Tinker held her close “I’ve found out a couple of interesting things about Phillips since this morning.” He whispered “In spite of how he looks Phillips is only 25 years old. His only deputy marshal assignment was in the town of Pleasanton. The townspeople run him out of town. Interesting enough his oldest sister is Mrs. Luther Thompson.”

“That’s just perfect.” Ruby whispered then laughed like Tinker was entertaining her.

“The wad I handed you held the code that’s being sent. Deputy Jimmy keeps copies of the outgoing messages, it also has the names of the two men Fritz and Bo took out of here.”

“From that place called Castle you mentioned this afternoon when I saw you?” Ruby asked looking at him.

“The posse needs to be cautious of this man.” Tinker said with a worried look in his eyes.

Ruby put her hand on his cheek. “Get that look off yer face Wireman. Scarlet promised she would do right by the posse, you can trust she’ll do her best.”

Tinker instantly smiled. “That means she won’t lie down and let this man take over?”

Ruby laughed. “I’m certain Scarlet is looking for a way to hang this one out to dry. She just doesn’t know who she can trust in Houston any more. Make sure you don’t take any unnecessary chances will ya.”

“To be honest when I sent that wire to Bo this morning I wasn’t sure you’d really show up.”

“Coming here hasn’t crossed Ruby’s mind in some time, Scarlet was very surprised to see Ruby today too.” She replied.

The dance was over and Tinker kissed her cheek.

She smiled sweetly returned the kiss on his cheek.

to be continued
"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2010, 05:06:56 AM »
After the kitchen was cleaned up from supper, Jimmy led the other two into the parlor.

"Mrs. Coatsworth, please teach us about book code."

"Mrs. McDowell should get to that in her instructions in another couple months."

"We need to learn already."


"On Tuesday morning, Mr. Phillips came into the office with telegrams to be sent. He had me carry them over to Mr. Tinker. One of them was to the Marshals office in Houston. Mr. Phillips had already enciphered it, but it was just in the first Marshals cipher, so I could read it easy enough. The other message was to a place called Castle in New Mexico. Mr. Tinker said it's in Eddy County, almost straight north from here, and has been a telegraph station for about 5 years. I couldn't make that message out at all." Jimmy pulled out a piece of paper with the text CBTKZ DAAD DAAC DABT DABB DACA DACH DACC DACFZ to show her.
"On Wednesday, Mr. Phillips got a message in the morning and sent me with a reply after lunch, to Castle again."
Out came another piece of paper: HCFAZ IADFZ FCCCZ FBYEZ
"So this morning, I sent copies of both those messages with Lily up to Mrs. McDowell."

Lily picked up the story, "Mrs. McDowell worked on those messages all day. She said the letters A through Y stand for numbers 1 through 25, Z or 0 marks the end of a word, and it is a book code with a key book that has at least 3 columns per page. None of the books she has made sense out of the messages. So she told me to tell Jimmy to ask you for a lesson in book code, so that Jimmy can look for the key book."

Eddie spoke up now, "And I want to learn too, because maybe I can look for the book when Jimmy and Mr. Phillips are out of the office."

Ella nodded, and pulled a small book out of one pocket, and took a piece of paper and pencil from the desk. "Give me a couple minutes to compose a sample message."

She turned pages in her book, writing down sets of numbers as she went. When she was finished, she said, "In a book code, the set of numbers refers to the page number, column number, line number and word number. One category of book codes is Bible codes, where the key is a specific book of the Bible. Then the numbers refer to chapter and verse, then the word number. If the word you want to encode isn't in the book, then you can spell it out using the last number to point to a letter. You have to have some agreement about how to tell when you are counting letters instead of words. Mr. Phillips's code marks the end of each word. I used the book of Psalms as a key. Can you decode this?"

She pushed her piece of paper in front of Jimmy, and he saw
1 3 6 0
2 6 6 0
2 7 2 0
2 11 1 0
82 3 7 0
83 4 24 0
83 5 6  83 5 17 0
83 7 26  83 7 4  83 7 31  83 7 12 0

He took the pencil and the book, and started working.

"Almost. Count the words again for the first set of numbers, and don't ignore little words."

Jimmy looked again, pointing to each word in the verse with the pencil as he counted, "Oh, it should be 'a king will serve justice in el paso'."

"One clue that a book is being used as a key is pencil marks where someone touched the page while counting lines or words or letters."

Jimmy checked the line he had just counted, and was relieved to see that he hadn't left any marks.
Elegant Ella


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