Author Topic: At Wit's End  (Read 58156 times)

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2010, 11:57:16 AM »
Co-effort of Fritz & Scarlet

“You know you are some kinda woman but Fritz is right. I prefer Scarlet too.” He said with a blush.

“I do too Wireman.” She replied with a chuckle.

Ruby climbed the stairs to the rooms and unlocked the door. It had been a rather long day and a hot bath sounded very inviting. It seemed like it took her forever to take off the make up and take down her hair. She then separated the money and notes that had been given to her.

Glancing at the papers she made a mental note of telling Tinker somebody was using Jim Hoss’s name, the man had been dead for a long spell now. He’d died by her hand and somebody was using his reputation. She had already thanked him for sending information to Patches earlier.

Scarlet hung up the outfit she had been wearing and closed the false wall between the rooms that connected hers with Becca’s, then glanced in the mirror. Ruby was gone except for the stockings that she tossed on her bed.

Scarlet picked up her pistol and towel, went into the private bath, which connected the two rooms, and neatly placed them within reach of the bath tub before sliding into the hot water.

She leaned back and let the hot water attempt to relax her muscles. She had her doubts about Houston but Tinker was a different story. They had learned over the years to trust each other with more than their lives. She had wondered why Tinker had called on Ruby instead of Scarlet, but now knowing what she was finding out about Phillips made him more than just a pain in the butt. He was an enemy, one she would not underestimate.    

Her mind went back to the men in Houston. Why she just didn’t stuff that badge down someone’s throat was beginning to play with her mind. She figured between the ranch, the Ace and bounty hunting she could probably make a better income than taking orders from Houston and wondering who was going to stab her in the back next.

________________

He hadn’t been dressed down in awhile, particularly not by a person who was younger than he was by several years.  But like a good Soldier, he stood there and took it.  He stared at a spot just above Marshal Phillips’s head, rigidly at attention.

“How long have you been Marshalling, King?”

“On and off for the last three years, sir.”

Phillips looked up from the dime novel he was reading.  “So you’re not very experienced, are you?”

“I have a great deal of experience, sir…but not as a Marshal.”

“Your arrest of those two men shows me just how inexperienced you are.”

Fritz sighed.  “As I indicated, sir, I did not arrest those men.  I detained them until I could determine who and what they were.”

“Based upon what…your hunch?”

“No sir.  I had information based on eyewitness testimony…”

Phillips cut him off.  “From who?”

“An employee of the Ace named Ruby.”

“A bar whore?  You made a judgment call based on the word of a bar whore?”

Fritz was getting angry, and chose his words carefully.  “I have no knowledge or information indicating that Miss Ruby is a whore, sir”

“They’re all whores,” Phillips replied.  “They should find a proper man and make babies.”

Phillips turned back to his novel.  “You’ve got a lot to learn, King.  It’s a good thing I’m here.  That’s all.”

Realizing he’d been dismissed, Fritz took a step back, executed an about face, and left the office.

He fumed as he walked back to the Ace.  All he wanted was a bourbon, a bath, and a cigar; not necessarily in that order.  He walked past the bar and headed for the stairs.  

Hank yelled after him.  “You might want to wait until…”

“Unless the building is on fire, don’t bother me Hank.  I’m having a very bad day.”

Hank just shook his head and laughed wondering what would take place once inside the room.

Fritz unlocked the door to the room he and Scarlet shared while in town.  He went straight to the bedside table and poured a glass of the good stuff.  As the first hint of warmth passed his throat, he noticed Ruby’s stockings on his bed.  Nearly gagging, he put the glass down.

“Oh God…Oh no.  NoNoNoNo…”

This wasn’t good.  Did he send the wrong signals?  Did Ruby get the wrong idea about him?  This did not bode well, particularly after losing the bet with Bo.  He went to the bathroom and knocked on the door.

“Miss Ruby?  Are you in there?”

Scarlet’s head jerked up.  “What…ah, yes.  What do you want?”

“Ah…ma’am?  I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me.”  Fritz held his slouch in his hands, turning it by the brim.  “I’m married…happily married.  Have been for a couple of years now.  Don’t get me wrong; you’re a beautiful lady.  Any man would be proud to have you on his arm.  Bo maybe…?”

“Damn,” Fritz thought.  This was getting worse all the time.    

Scarlet listened for a minute. She was pretty sure Fritz had come in alone, she grinned, it was so wrong but she just couldn’t help herself.

“Yer so very sweet and Ruby doesn’t have the wrong idea about you lawman.” She responded in the sweet drawl she’d been using all day. “Ruby knows you’re a married man and she knows yer wife tells you at least once a day she loves you.”

Fritz let out a sigh of relief thinking perhaps she did understand and would leave without saying much more.

“Ruby likes Bo very much, but she likes you sooo much better. There’s things Ruby would like to do with you she has no interest in doing with Bo.” She said standing up as quietly as she could and wrapping the towel around herself wondering if Fritz was blushing or making a hasty retreat for the door. Perhaps he was looking for the key to lock the door, but it was with her.

It was getting worse, much much worse Fritz thought as he contemplated his next move, her next statement caught his attention.

“Ruby wonders if yer wife ever lets you know how very lucky she thinks she is to have you.”

Scarlet stepped quickly and lightly to the door. She knew he was standing on the other side, she could feel his presence and from the sound of his voice she knew he was trying to figure out how to politely get rid of her or if he should just leave.

 “Ruby thinks yer wife was a very naughty girl not telling you about Ruby, but hopes you will not be to mad at Scarlet.”

Scarlet grabbed the door knob and yanked the door open.

“I am so very lucky Fritz.” She said standing in the doorway looking at him.

Fritz had heard the word before, but really had no opportunity to use it.  It fit the circumstances now.  The word was, 'flabbergasted.'

"Sc-scarlet???"

She smiled sweetly at her husband, the towel beginning to slip.

"You're not mad at me, are you darlin'?"

"Ah...no...confused is more like it."

The towel dropped away, revealing her all.  She reached forward and grabbed him by the lapels.

"Then come on in here and I'll explain it to ya," Scarlet whispered huskily, pulling him in the bathroom.

Fritz looked suspiciously around the room as he slipped out of his clothes. Maybe Ruby had just slipped out the door into Becca’s room and Scarlet was still teasing him.

“I’d show you but it takes a bit to slip back into Ruby’s clothes.” Scarlet said. “but trust me when I tell you lawman lil ol’ Ruby’s sittin’ right her.” She said using Ruby’s voice making Fritz’s head spin as he looked over his shoulder making sure it was just Scarlet in the room.

Frit looked at her. Scarlet gave him an innocent look and motioned for him to join her back in the bath.

Fritz slid in and leaned against her. Scarlet rubbed his neck and shoulders as she spoke.

“When I started bounty hunting and got a reputation only certain people would talk to me, but a working girl Sugar. You would be surprised what people tell the working girls the more alcohol they drink and the more they think you want them, the more most of them will talk. Then there was trying to stay ahead of the law, getting information I didn’t want him knowing I had and keeping my friends out of trouble.”

Fritz was quiet. Scarlet knew just how to work the tension out of him and he enjoyed it, but he was thinking back; he’d not really watched Ruby that close, but she had avoided men well and when she landed in Bo’s lap, the movement was something that had been practiced. There were a lot of things about her past he’d never asked, he didn’t care then and he didn’t care now. He knew where her heart lied; he laced his fingers between hers and kissed the back of her hand.

“There’s a lady down in Louisiana that was very sad when Travis took a wife that didn’t turn her head when her husband wanted to wander, but she’s got a good heart.” She began as if knowing he was wondering where a girl would learn such things. ‘When I wanted to get information from places that would turn quiet when I showed up, I figured I needed to learn a new way of getting that information. She taught me a whole lot on working the floor of a saloon. Becca has helped fine tune some of that from time to time. The makeup and the fake hair and ah…enhancements, well my mother is very sweet, but she has taught me about more than just cooking and horses. What I didn’t learn from them I learned from some of the servants when I was young. Mom would have her proper parties but the fun dancing was down behind the servant’s quarters” Scarlet chuckled thinking of some of those times.

“Ruby has only ever been seen going upstairs with Bo, Tinker, Ricky and sometimes Hank, men who know who she really is, who I trust won’t pass on any information, that I can count on to get me out of a mess if I need help, men who don’t expect anything when the door closes behind us. My mother and father know about her, Becca knows and now you.”
 
“There were a handful of men from the Starr and some from our place in here tonight. They don’t know?” Fritz asked.

“No, and as far as I know they never will. It won’t come from the people that do.
While I’m on the subject let me show you something.”

Scarlet got up, wrapped the towel back around her and picked up her pistol. “Come with me Sugar.” She said going into their room.

Fritz dried off and followed her. Scarlet handed him the glass from the table, laid down her pistol then went to closet. She pushed on the wall next to it and it gave way revealing a room.

He inspected it closely, the decorative mounding on the walls hid the seams of the opening cleverly. It would explain why Scarlet looked at rooms closer than some others. The house she grew up in had similar hidden passages and one had to know the right pressure points to open them; if you didn’t the walls felt very solid and stood fast.

She had stepped in and was telling him the information Tinker had passed to her earlier that evening about Phillips.

“Tinker also found out Phillips is the youngest of six children and the only boy, two of his sisters are married to doctors, one to a lawyer, and one to an accountant. Then there’s the one married to the current marshal of Houston.” Scarlet rolled her eyes at the last statement. “He attended a fancy boys' boarding school in New York, and then Columbia University. He didn't get a college degree, but did get enough education to enter the Navy as an Ensign. He did not re-enlist.”

“He thinks a great deal of himself.” Fritz replied also including the incident from earlier that evening while he looked around the inside of the room. It had to be the back have of the bathroom judging from the placement and size. There was enough room for clothing and a dresser.

There were clothes that were obviously Ruby’s, including the long auburn hair. Clothes he didn’t think went with Ruby’s character; they could have been Scarlet’s though.

Fritz stopped short there was something more interesting than clothes in this room. He looked at Scarlet like a someone who had just found a pretty wrapped gift with their name on it and back at the wall.

“Go ahead Darlin’.” She said with a smile.

Fritz ran his fingers along the chocolate brown leather then took the pistol bandoleer and matching belt from its spot to inspect it. It showed some wear but was well cared for. A fighting knife hung high on the back were it could be easily reached.

“I can’t envision Ruby serving drinks in this. Is it from your bounty hunting days?” he asked.

Scarlet grinned “yes, it belongs to Carmen, the woman that used to ride strictly with my brother Jimmy or my father. She’s got brown black hair, right over there.” She said pointing at another wig as a wicked thought bounced through her mind.

“How many different looks have you had?” Fritz half teased hanging the leather back in its place.

“Mostly those two and then the real me.” She said following Fritz from the room.

She closed the entrance behind them. “The one you’ve known up until tonight is the real me Fritz. The sweet, the bad temper, all the good all the bad, just things of mine I enhance when one of them makes an appearance. But I assure you the one that wants to be with you” she said letting the towel drop to the floor “is the real person.”

“That would be why none of them hold a candle to my wife.” he said sweeping her up and carrying her to the bed.
"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 #21 on: February 21, 2010, 01:26:27 PM »
Early Monday afternoon, Ella and Bella were almost done with their shopping, and Eddie was almost completely loaded down with parcels. When seven horsemen turned onto the street from the direction of the river, Ella's instincts screamed an alarm. As soon as she recognized one of the riders, she pulled her party into the nearest storefront, the barber shop across from the bank. She hoped that Perry White hadn't recognized her in town dress and bonnet.

"Good morning, Mister Reynolds," she greeted the barber. "Could you let Eddie out the back, please? Eddie, run to the Marshals office to say that seven men are robbing the El Paso National Trust, then run to the telegraph office and have Mr. Tinker wire that same information to Mrs. King, and answer her questions. Then come back here, carefully."

"But, Mrs. Coatsworth, we've got our pistols. We can take these bank robbers by ourselves!" protested Eddie.

"You have been reading far too many dime novels. We are NOT going to start a shootout in the middle of town against seven gunmen! Now run!" ordered Ella.

Eddie followed Mr. Reynolds to the back door while Bella and Ella sat on the bench in front of the window, Ella using the barber's hand mirror to watch the suspected robbers. One of the robbers did look carefully at the barber shop window and should have seen only the two women sitting with their backs to the window. Anyway, he went into the bank with five of the others. One stayed outside to hold the horses. Ella wrote down descriptions of the men and their horses. She did not see Archie.
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1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2010, 11:22:44 AM »
“A staff meeting…a Staff Meeting?”  Fritz was incredulous.

“That’s what he said boss,” Jimmy replied.

“We’ve had the highest arrest record and the highest conviction record in the state since Tensleep was running the office,” Fritz said, shaking his head.  

They entered the office to find Marshall Phillips sitting at the booking desk.  “You’re late,” he said coldly.

“I beg your pardon sir,” Fritz answered.  “I usually take my coffee at the Ace, then patrol around the town first thing.”

“I was plain in my meaning, Deputy King,” Phillips said.  Nine A.M. sharp.”

Fritz walked to the stove and picked up the coffee pot.  It was cold; the fire long dead.

“Somebody should tend to that,” Phillips said.  Apparently, he was too good to do something so menial.  Fritz put the pot down and returned to the desk.  

“Now, where are the other Deputies?”  

“I don’t know,” Jimmy said.  “Isn’t Miss Scarlet out at the Starr?”

“She’s running down leads,” Fritz said, cutting the boy off.  

“I’ve been reviewing the cases for the past year.  Damned sloppy if you ask me.”

“What are you talking about?” Fritz said, rising from his chair.  “Those were good arrests!”

“Perhaps,” Phillips replied, “but the spelling, grammar and punctuation are atrocious.”  Fritz noticed that the errors had been circled in red ink, as if a teacher were grading a test.

This was almost as bad as the Army.  Fritz gave a fleeting thought to pulling off his badge, and letting this fool fall to his own devices.  

“I need you to account for your time,” Phillips continued.  “Here…I’ve prepared ledgers.  Document how many hours per week you spend on patrol, paperwork and so forth.”  The marshal slid a small bound book across the table.  

“Sir,” Fritz said, “I have a town to protect.  Please excuse me.”

Phillips nodded.  “See to the fire before you go.  And brew a fresh pot of coffee.  That one’s cold.”

Jimmy hadn’t seen Fritz angry before.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  Fritz stripped off his gunbelt and jacket, and tossed them on the booking table.  He opened the potbelly and stirred the remaining coals together.  Opening the ledger, he tore the back page out and crumpled it up.

“See here now,” Phillips began.  Fritz silenced him with a glance.  He placed the balled paper atop the coals and blew on it until a small flame emerged.  Once done, he piled small twigs on the fire, feeding steadily larger pieces in.  Grabbing the pot, he removed the lid and heaved the contents into the street.  He rinsed the pot in the horse troth out front, and filled the pot with the pump.  Fritz slammed the pot on the stove top, and waited for it to boil.  When the water was bubbling, he threw a handful of grounds into the pot.  When they sunk the coffee was ready.

Fritz grabbed his jacket and gunbelt.  “Get your own damned cup, sir” he said as he headed for the door.  

“You’ll owe me for that ledger” Phillips said at Fritz’s back.                    

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2010, 11:38:41 PM »
Eddie flung open the door of the office, interrupting the "staff meeting". He shouted, "Mrs. Coatsworth says seven men are robbing the bank."

Simultaneously Fritz and Jimmy asked, "Where is she?" and "Is she safe?"

Eddie answered, "She's watching from the barber shop across the street", then ran off.

Phillips snorted, "If she's watching from across the street, what makes her think the bank is being robbed? Just like a woman to get hysterical and panic at the sight of strangers."
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1stSgt Fritz King

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2010, 11:31:22 AM »
"That's enough!!!" Fritz bellowed.  "I've known Ella since Cold Harbor.  I've seen her heatsore, overjoyed and boiling mad.  But I've never seen her red-faced with hysteria!"

"Deputy," Phillips began, "you're out of line!"

"So are you, sir!" Fritz replied.  "You may know the job, but I know these people.  If what Eddie says is true, we have very little time.  Fritz grabbed his Berdan from the rack and headed towards the door.

Phillips asked “What are you doing?”

“You never know when a long-range rifle may come in handy,” Fritz replied.

“You don’t know a thing about marshalling,” the Phillips replied.  “Put it back.”

Fritz replaced the Berdan and pulled his shotgun from the rack.  Checking to see it was loaded, he snapped the barrels closed with a flick of his wrist.

“Now what are you doing?”

“Marshal,” Fritz replied, “we’ve just received a report of an armed robbery in progress at the bank.  We should go down there with more than our pistols.”

“You carry two of those,” the marshal replied, pointing at Fritz’s rig.  “You should carry a man-size pistol, not those conversions.  Put the scattergun back.  You’ll scare the townsfolk.”

Fritz stood his ground.  “No.  I served 20 years in the Army.  You don’t go into a firefight outgunned.”

“You got a lot to learn, King.  Soldiering isn’t marshalling you know.”

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #25 on: Today at 09:30:16 PM »

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #25 on: February 27, 2010, 12:17:54 AM »
Scarlet had been going through wanted posters off and on since she’d come back from town. She had gone through the posters she’d kept from bounty hunting to find the one on Jim Hoss. She’d marked on them the day the men, mostly just the heads, had been brought in for positive identification and to collect the bounty. Then there were the ones she’d kept when she rode with Hart, confirmed arrests, done by the book, all of them had been tired and found guilty.

Scarlet had three neat stacks, men she’d hunted before becoming a deputy, men after and those that had been ridden with Hoss from time to time, most of them small time criminals that hadn’t been worth her time as a bounty hunter, after Hoss died they had all ridden the wind in different directions.

She eyed the stacks trying to be objective judging herself. This person had a good arrest record; before pinning on a badge had been ruthless, picking mostly those you could bring back dead, and walked a thin line just inside the law, as far as the law knew. After she’d been difficult to control and strong willed, but the arrests always held water and those that had died had died from firing upon the posse.

Scarlet glared at the telegram that she had tossed on the desk saying Phillips was coming. Houston had seen fit to replace this person with someone who had very little experience as a deputy and none as a marshal. She was losing respect for Thompson every time she thought of it.

She flipped through the posters of the men that had been arrested while she’d worn her badge. Houston didn’t seem to care about her abilities, maybe she should just tell them to piss off she thought. A stack of letters among the posters caught her eye. Without looking she knew there were a couple of letters of commendation, one from Wheeler and one from Hart, of all people. There was also letters from Pete Sutherland, the deputy who had almost lost his life to one of her oldest enemies. She pulled it out but didn’t have to open it and read it to know what it said.

Dear Angelina,

Would you believe I have accepted a position as a Marshal? Most thought I would quit after we made it back alive, but I kept thinking if it wasn’t for deputies like you and Sonny what might have happened to me.

I will be passing through El Paso in a week. Be prepared for me to do anything short of begging to get you away from Hart. I need a good team that includes you.

When times are tough I think of you staying and holding my hand instead of riding off and leaving me.

I have not forgotten the frog jump. When are we going?

Haha. Love Pete.

There were more inside of it asking her to join him as part of his team. One telling her he was sorry to hear of Hart’s death and asking her to ride with him, one congratulating her on her upcoming marriage to Fritz and looking forward to being at the wedding. That one ended with “He must be some kinda special to you.” Scarlet smiled he sure is she thought.

She looked at the small pile of letters stacked neatly on the desk that had recently come and reached for them, pulling out an envelope she opened it and read the letter again.

Dear Scarlet,

I am very sad you never joined my team, but so happy that John Ross has passed the Marshal’s badge to you. Houston should have done that years ago. I would still like us to bring in some outlaws together.

You would be impressed at how good of a Marshal I have become, maybe as good as Ross, or even Wheeler was, I learned much from Hart but more from you and Sonny. Houston is lucky you have stayed on. I am lucky to have another Marshal I could reach out to and trust to know would help.

Next time you’re in Galveston make sure y’all look me up.

Looking forward to the next time our trails cross.

Your friend Pete. 

She scooped up the letters and put them back with the posters from bounty hunting and tucked all but the one on Hoss and the man she had seen in the Ace in the file that was her private file.

She leaned back in the chair and thought of Pete and Sonny.

“Scarlet!” Lily yelled running towards the office. “Scarlet!  Ella says the bank is being robbed!”

Scarlet leveled her gaze at Lily, if Lil had been five minutes earlier Scarlet might have told her to let Phillips deal with it, but the thoughts of Pete and Sonny had made her decide if they were going to remove her they were going to have to do it face to face and if she ended up in Houston to get that meeting folks back here would probably hear her yelling if for nothing more than the pure satisfaction.

“What else?” Scarlet asked standing up reaching for her rifle.

“Patches sent me to fetch you to come back, more details were coming in.” Lily replied running next to her back to the office Patches sat in.

“Seven riders, in the bank.” Patches said as the other two came in the door.

Scarlet cursed under her breath.

Patches sent and received the information as fast as Scarlet could talk.

“Where are Fritz and Jimmy?”

“Last seen Marshal’s office. Nobody on street.”

Scarlet cursed again, they were at least 30 minutes hard ride from town, even if she did cut across the property and not stay on the roads.

“Come on.” She said to Lily. “I’ll be right back and tell Eddie to get all exits out of town covered tell him…”

Patches finished her sentence “to get men from the Ace if need be.”

Scarlet ran for the corral with Lily on her heels. “Saddle your horse, and cut a fast one out to ride now, we’re cutting across the Starr.” Scarlet said as she put her gear on Lucky.

“What’s going on?” Jimmy asked riding in.

“Bank robbery going on now.” Scarlet replied to the man she called her brother.

Jimmy slid off his horse and ran for the house. By the time Scarlet and Lil had their horses ready and got back to Patches Jimmy was there with Bo and her father, Johnny, was headed towards her.

“If they come this way they won’t make it far.” Johnny said rallying some of his men and riding out.

The group was mounted when Patches yelled out of the door. “Riders headed out east on main road, no sign of Phillips or the deputies.

“See if you can pick up a trail Jimmy.” Scarlet said before turning her horse towards town.
"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 #26 on: February 27, 2010, 09:56:10 AM »
It seemed longer, but fewer than ten minutes passed before the robbers calmly left the bank, looking like a rancher and his hands finished with routine business. Eddie hadn't come back yet. Ella hoped that was because Tink was transmitting questions from Scarlet and Patches and answers from Eddie. She doubted that Marshal Phillips had asked any questions. Actually, she doubted that Marshal Phillips had listened to Eddie at all. Otherwise, some lawmen ought to have shown up before the robbers left, or blocked off the exits from the stret.

She hadn't heard any shots fired, but there still might be injuries in the bank. Ella left Bella with the parcels and went across to offer her aid. The door was shut, the blinds were drawn, and the sign said "Closed". It being siesta time, most people would believe the sign and come back later. Ella pushed the door, and it opened. Ella used her boot knife to release the guard, Joshua Evans, and sent him to the Marshals office. She released a male customer, and he helped her release everyone else. As the gags were removed, everyone started talking at once.

"It was terrible!"
"They held guns on me and made me tie up other people, then they tied me up."
"There were 10 of them!"
"No, there were 20!"
"They took my watch and chain."
"They took my reticule."

Ella took the bank president, John Corning, and the teller, Suzanne Johnson, into the president's office, leaving the customers to chatter. "What did the robbers take?" she asked.

"They got about $5,000 in gold coin," replied Corning. "I'm so glad they didn't come last week, when I had the Army payroll here, and that they were here today instead of next week, when I'll be holding the payment for a cattle shipment."

"Can you describe any of them?"

"They had their bandanas up over their mouths and noses. The boss was dark-haired, tall and skinny. Two of them were Mexican. There was one real carrot-top, another dark-haired and one blond."

Ella quickly sketched a portrait of Perry White and showed it to him. "Was he the boss?"

"No, but that could have been the other dark-haired one. How did you get here so soon after they left?"

"I was inside the barber shop and saw them ride away." Ella didn't know why she didn't tell him that she had seen the robbers enter the bank as well. Since the barber knew when she had sent a message to the Marshal, half the town would know it soon enough.
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Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2010, 10:44:45 AM »
Lily had to wonder where they were headed as they cut across the land at a speed that made her eyes water. Scarlet had been teaching her to be very aware of her surroundings, she made a mental note to question Scarlet on the two sets of riders that had seemed to parallel them for a while. Scarlet and Bo paid them no attention, they probably knew who they were.

 Scarlet finally slowed her horse to a canter and began watching her surroundings.

“Is your horse tired?” Lilly asked riding up next to her. “You’ve finally slowed.”

“He’s tired but we’ll make town with out a problem.” Scarlet replied “we’ve left the Starr, we’re on our own if something happens.”

It dawned  on Lily the riders had been escorting them in a sense. She felt her heart pick up few beats but they seemed to be the only ones on earth.
"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 #28 on: February 28, 2010, 06:53:25 AM »
It had taken some doing, but Fritz finally convinced Marshal Phillips that the best option was to actually go down to the bank and check out Eddie's story.  Fritz carried the 12-gauge, and Eddie carried his '66.  Both of them stayed on opposite sides of the street, under the boardwalk, using cover as much as possible.  Phillips walked down the center of the street, as if nothing had happended.  "Either he has sand" Fritz thought, "or he's spent too much time reading those dime novels."  The truth however was far less romantic; the bank robbers were already gone.  The trio arrived at the bank to a cachaphony of voices describing the scene.  Miss Ella was in the midst of it.   

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2010, 12:12:32 PM »
Louder talk in front announced the arrival of Marshal Phillips. "It sounds like time for the official investigation to start. I suggest that you do not mention the Army payroll and cattle payment that the robbers missed. He's not going to be happy that I was questioning you already."

"What questioning? You took me back here to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack," replied Corning with a conspiratorial grin that was echoed by Suzanne.

When Marshal Phillips with Jimmy and Fritz came into the president's office, John Corning was reclining in his chair with his feet raised, Ella was checking his pulse and Mrs. Johnson was holding a glass of water.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Marshal Phillips of Ella.

"Checking on my husband's patient." She released Corning's wrist, and left the bank, after whispering to Fritz, "I'll have Bella pack food for the posse. Eddie will bring his and Jimmy's horses to meet you at the Ace."

Eddie was back at the barber shop when Ella got there, with Bobby Corbin. The boys divided up the parcels for the walk home.

Eddie announced, "We know which way they went! Mrs. King told me to get people to watch the different ways out of town. I went to Mrs. Wilson's school and borrowed all the bigger boys. I figured robbers weren't going to pay any mind to boys playing."

Bobby interrupted, "And I'm the one who saw them. They left on the stage road, going east."

"Not across the river?" asked Ella. "They came from the direction of the river."

"Nope. And then I went to Mr. Tinker and he wired to Cousin Scarlet so the posse knows, too."

"Did you get a good look at any of the men, Bobby?"

"I saw a couple of faces clear."

"How about you, Eddie?"

"I only had a glimpse before you sent me off."

By now, they had reached the Coatsworth house. After the parcels were all put down in the kitchen, Ella asked Bobby, "Would you please go ask your mother if you can go with me out to the Marshals office at the Starr? We want to look through the wanted posters to see if we recognize any of the robbers. We should be back by your bedtime. I'll call for you in a half hour."

Bobby nodded and ran off.

"Eddie, please get the carriage ready, then saddle up the other horses. You and Jimmy will need yours for the posse. Put Dr. Alan's saddle on Aaron and take him as a spare. Take my field hospital saddlebags. I think your job will be to take care of the horses and do field medicine, but do whatever Mr. or Mrs. King tell you."

Ella told Bella to pack food for the posse, then went in to Alan's office to let him know about her day and her plans. The habit of secrecy was still strong, so she didn't mention Perry White's name. Then Alan surprised her, "I'll ride out with the posse."
Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #30 on: Today at 09:30:16 PM »

Offline Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2010, 12:32:16 PM »
Scarlet dropped her hand, signaling the others to slow, when she saw the carriage on the road. She was glad to recognize Ella and stopped.

"What's going on? Where are Fritz, Jimmy and Phillips? Did Phillips do anything useful before the robbers left town?" she demanded.

"The robbers took $5000 in gold coin and took personal belongings from customers. Bobby and I saw faces of some of the robbers, so we're going out to the Starr to put names on the faces. I saw one of the folks we met at Fort Fetterman, but not the other."

Scarlet asked, "No sign of Archie?"

"None. Between the faces I saw and the physical description of the leader from the bank president, I think the robbers were six members of the Beanpole Gang. Our acquaintance did not act like the one in charge. Phillips came to the bank with Fritz and Jimmy. I went home when Phillips started to interview witnesses."

"Did Phillips interview you?"

Ella laughed, "He was hardly going to ask, in front of the bank president, why I sent a message in time for him to have caught the robbers at the bank! At home, I had Bella pack food for the posse and Eddie saddle the horses. He and Dr. Alan will meet you at the Ace."

"I'd rather have you along, Ella." Scarlet reviewed what she knew about the Beanpole Gang. It had shown up with a dozen men when it robbed the bank in Santa Fe four months before. Most reports of its activities mentioned around a dozen men. It might have been the Beanpole Gang robbing the bank in Pleasanton month before last, but no good identification was reported.

"I think it's important to get Bobby's identifications down soon. Dr. Alan on Aaron will be able to keep up with the posse. He won't use a gun, but he can hold horses. You'll like him fine once you get to know him better."
Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2010, 10:55:46 PM »
“I trust I’ll like him fine Ella, tell me this though and I don’t mean any disrespect to Alan. If he has to defend himself is he sufficient with one?” She asked quietly so the others would not overhear.
"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 #32 on: March 02, 2010, 11:29:29 PM »
"He can defend himself with a pistol, if need be," replied Ella. "He's gone with me to the range for practice several times."
Elegant Ella

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #33 on: March 03, 2010, 10:35:06 PM »
Scarlet smiled at Ella “You two be very careful ask someone to escort you home. You and Bobby are both good shots but if someone thinks you may be a threat having seen them it may not be safe.”

The townspeople were jumpy by the time Scarlet and the others arrived, six horses coming down the center of town looked threatening until folks recognized the riders.

Suzanne came out into the street. “Did you hear our bank has been robbed?” She said looking at Scarlet. “Do you know how long it’s been since there’s even been an attempted robbery here? Scarlet that Yankee Marshal is having us all interviewed by all the law in there, you’re not going to interview us to are you?”

Scarlet rolled her eyes and slid off of her horse. “Been a long time since somebody tried this place Suzanne, longer since they were successful. Where’s Marshal Phillips?

“Interviewing people in Mr. Corning’s office.” Suzanne replied.

Scarlet half smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as she tied her horse to the hitching rail. She turned to Bo who heard her softly say “One damn week he’s here and look what happens, he’s not the only one that only answers to Houston.”

Bo slid off his horse, he felt her mood shift. The air had some how gotten colder when Suzanne mentioned the last time there was an attempt on the bank. Scarlet had been waiting for some kind of a reason to pick a fight and have a good reason. He knew her comment regarding Houston meant she was about done recognizing Phillips as any authority.

Scarlet spotted Fritz when she walked in. She could tell by his look he shared her feelings.

“I saw Ella, she filled me in on a few things. Is there any more use in interviewing people?” She said quietly stepping up next to him.
"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 #34 on: March 04, 2010, 08:19:12 AM »
Fritz opened the action of his shotgun and cradled it in the crook of his arm.  The sound frightened some of the customers, but there was no concern.

“No…they’re all saying pretty much the same thing.  If Phillips were a smart man,” Fritz said, “he’d have segregated there people, rather than let them sit together.  The stories get homogenized real quick.”

Scarlet suppressed a giggle at the ‘smart’ comment.  “There’s a posse forming up outside.  We know the direction the robbers took off in.  Buddy is saddled and ready.  Your ’66 is in the scabbard.”

Fritz squeezed Scarlet’s hand.  “You are SUCH a good wife,” he whispered.  Scarlet’s cheeks warmed.  The color looked good on her.

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2010, 10:35:04 PM »
“I’m trusting you and Deputy Jimmy have gathered descriptions.” Scarlet replied walking towards Corning’s office.

She knocked as she opened up the door. Marshal Phillips glared at her.

“I’m in the middle of business here. If you were in the bank I’ll get to you, if not you have no business here.” He said in a tone that told Scarlet she had been dismissed.

“Ma’am, thank you for your time answering Marshal Phillips questions.” She said to the lady who he had been interviewing “we’ll call on you again if we have any more questions.”

“Oh thank you dear.” She said leaving the office.

Scarlet smiled sweetly at her as the lady left closing the door behind her, the smile left as she turned to face Phillips.

“The posse is ready to ride.” She said flatly.

“Posse? What posse? I have not ordered a posse and again I’ll say you have no business here. Go home.” Phillips replied.

“What do you intend to do? Interview these people until the bank robbers get away free and clear?”

"There are six ways out of town. Half of them lead into Mexico, where you can't go. What's the point of riding around aimlessly?"

Scarlet shook her head and rolled her eyes as she turned on her heal and went out the door.

Phillips smiled thinking he had successfully dismissed her. “Next!” he yelled out the door.

Scarlet walked past Deputy Jimmy “I will be riding out very shortly with a posse.” She said never stopping. Jimmy looked to Fritz who had turned to follow. He looked back towards Marshal Phillips who seemed caught up in his own little world and followed after Scarlet and Fritz.


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 #36 on: March 05, 2010, 10:52:39 PM »
“I guess she couldn’t convince Marshal Phillips to go with us. I don’t know why we would want him along anyway.” Jimmy said to Bo as the group followed Scarlet to the stables at the Ace.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer Jimmy” Scarlet replied overhearing him “and never under estimate me, we haven’t left town yet.” She said with a smirk

Dr. Alan and Eddie were waiting with food and the horses just like Ella had said. Scarlet took a deep breath looking over the group, Bo and Fritz were the only ones she was used to riding with and knew what to expect from. Lily looked nervous and excited at the same time as did Jimmy and Eddie, Dr. Alan looked confident, yet a little nervous. She would have preferred more experienced riders and fewer green ones than what she was looking at.

“If anybody is not up for a long, hard ride followed by a long cold night with little or no sleep and probably cold food you should ride out of leave now. We’ll be following men who prefer to see you dead and won’t think twice about trying to see you get that way. If you are going turn tail and run when the gunfire starts you should leave now. I will not hold anything against you if you decide to stay behind.”

Nobody moved, they didn’t even exchange glances. Scarlet looked at Jimmy. She didn’t have to say anything he’d caught her look plain as day. He followed her to the door.

She spoke softly as she stepped out looking towards the bank “Jimmy, you know Tensleep didn’t hire Eddie because he thought he was too young. I know he rode with you a long time too, so I imagine he’s seen some things in his life, perhaps had to make decisions he shouldn’t have had to make.” Scarlet looked him in the eyes ”Age only makes up part of a man, experience and heart makes up the other parts. Eddie is your brother, I’m asking you as his older brother do you think he should be out there with us. This is no game and I would be a fool to think the there’s no possibility of someone getting hurt or killed. I will ask him to stay behind if I feel it’s the right thing to do and I’m trying to make that decision.” 

"Eddie is good to take along. He's better at using cover than I am - I think he learned that last summer. He's been studying hard with the Coatsworths, so that he can be a good medic." Jimmy said.

“Very well. Please go to the livery tell them we’d like use the dark bay, they call him Whiskers. Meet us in front of the bank.”

“Yes ma’am.” Jimmy replied going towards the livery at a fast walk.

“Mount up!” Scarlet said swinging onto Lucky and riding out leading Jimmy’s horse.  She listened to the sound of hoof beats behind her. Nobody had chosen to stay.

Scarlet pulled her horse to a stop in front of the bank. “Marshal Phillips. Your horse is ready and the posse is waiting on you!” She yelled loud enough for half the town to hear.

Phillips came bursting out of the bank doors. “What are you doing?!” He demanded.

Scarlet looked down at him “Do you know how to ride Phillips? Buggies don’t go where we’re headed.”

Phillips bristled “Of course I can ride.”

“I can do it but I prefer not to track in the dark. Mount up.” She said pointing at the horse Jimmy was standing next to.

“I’m in charge here.” He hissed “you have no authority here.”

Scarlet shifted in her saddle “My orders come directly from Houston, Texas Carpetbagger. If you don’t got the sand to ride with a Texas posse you stay right here, explain to these folks while you held us up waitin’ for you to take statements when you had no intention of riding with us to put them to good use.”

Phillips didn’t have to look to know she had drawn a crowd, and if he didn’t go she’d just made a fool of him in front of them.

“I must send a wire to Houston. It is imperative.” He stated.

“Hurry Marshal we’re waitin’ on ya!” Scarlet replied.

Phillips spun on his heel and made a hasty retreat to Tinker’s office. Tinker had heard the entire thing but kept a straight face as Phillips entered.

Bo waited for Phillips to go before he said “Why Miss Scarlet you are an EVIL woman.”

Scarlet smiled and blew a kiss his way.


"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 #37 on: March 05, 2010, 11:24:56 PM »
"May I help you, Marshal?" asked Tink.

"I require you to tell me if anyone has you send a telegram to the Houston Marshals office."

"I could do that," allowed Tink, mentally adding, "but won't until Hell freezes over."

"I'll have a report for you to send to Houston in a minute." Phillips took the message form and pencil and composed a short report in marshals code, then thrust it at Tink. "Send that to Marshal Thompson."

Tink took it to send, reading the code as easily as he would have read a message written out plain.

TO LUTHER THOMPSON
US MARSHALS OFFICE
HOUSTON
FROM ISAIAH PHILLIPS
EL PASO
LARGE BAND OF MASKED MEN ROBBED EL PASO NATIONAL TRUST STOP
POSSE IN PURSUIT STOP

Tink sent it, and added a postscript after glancing out the window at Scarlet:
PETTICOAT POSSE IN PURSUIT
Elegant Ella

Offline Scarlet Angel

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Re: At Wit's End
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2010, 09:00:18 PM »
It seemed like it took Phillips forever to do what he needed to do. There was very little urgency about the man. Scarlet had seen this once in a deputy that was afraid to face outlaws. His career with the law was short lived. Scott Hart had kindly suggested he find a new line of work, which he did and now ran a very successful mercantile in another town.

“Take point Bo.” Scarlet said seeing Phillips finally headed back out.

Bo looked at her, he knew she didn’t trust Phillips and intended to ride behind him and watch him closely. He touched the brim of his hat and turned his horse down the main road out of town.

They had not even ridden far enough to pick up Jimmy’s trail but the posse was out ahead of Phillips and Scarlet, too far for Scarlet.

“If you stopped hanging on his mouth he’d keep up with the other horses. He can keep up with them just fine.” Scarlet said.

Phillips chose to ignore her comment.

Scarlet rode faster hoping Whiskers would pick up the pace, which he did until Phillips gave good yank on the reins making Whiskers toss his head in the air; which in turn made Phillips yank on the reins more.

“What the hell are you doing?” Scarlet yelled coming to a stop.

“Like you this horse needs to learn some respect for men.” Phillips hissed.

Scarlet took Whiskers by the bridle and rubbed his face. “Respect hell man, you got to earn that out here. I don’t think a lot of you, or any of the skills I’ve seen from you thus far.”

“Let go of my horse and go home where you belong!” Phillips growled.

Scarlet touched the brim of her hat, spun Lucky around and said “Come on Whiskers!” as Lucky took off at a gallop, followed closely by the Whiskers.

Phillips bounced terribly in the saddle, Scarlet figured he did it on purpose to try and get the horse to stop to relieve the bouncing, it made Whiskers go faster. Phillips pulled on the reins but Whiskers ignored him now.

Bo had stopped; the posse had watched nearly the entire exchange.

When Scarlet and Phillips stopped he jumped off his horse. “What did you do? He said looking at the horse “besides try and get me killed?”

“Don’t give me any ideas.” She said tossing the horse’s chinstrap she had swiped off the bridle at him.

“You are trying to get me killed! This horse could have run off with me and I wouldn’t have been able to stop him at all.” He said buckling the strap back on the bit.

“I could only hope the horse that is rented out for the kids to ride would run off and dump you someplace. Get back on him, keep off his mouth, and try to stay up with two girls.” She said as Lucky moved off again.

“Don’t let me get shot in the back.” She said passing Bo.

Lily grinned at Scarlet’s comment about Phillips trying to keep up with two girls as she let her horse move out at a fast clip.

"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 #39 on: March 08, 2010, 08:30:52 AM »
Fritz was riding the right flank, his '66 facing outboard.  He'd watched the whole exchange between Scarlet and Phillips.  It was clear who was ramrod in this outfit.  A the last comment about getting shot, Fritz fell back a bit, so he could keep a better eye on Phillips.  The man made eye contact with him, and Fritz stared back until he turned away.  At this rate, Fritz doubted he'd be a Deputy for long, but he'd be a husband for far longer.

He smiled.

 

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