Part 4

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Augustus Poe slept overnight in his office.

While the lumpy mattress of his cot was worn thin, it had still managed to prove somewhat comfortable as he wanted to be ready when Running-Deer appeared or sent word that she'd found something.

It was still dark when he woke to Orson Dewitt as he stood in the open doorway of the office.

Thin and gaunt, the undertaker looked particularly pale under the flicker of the lamp light - his narrow chin dark with stubble while his tie hung loose over a white shirt that was wrinkled and stained, clearly telling in that it did not appear that he'd been to bed yet.

Poe turned and sat up as he rubbed the palms of his hands across his face.

"Is there something that I can help you with, Orson?" he finally asked, as the dark eyes of the undertaker took in the office.

By evidence of faint light that grew in the window, the sun was just on its way up.

Orson hesitantly moved forward to set a small, snubbed piece of lead upon the desk near the lamp on Poe's desk before he retreated back to the doorway while he watched Poe pick it up for closer inspection.

"Took us a bit, but we finally found the dang thing, Sheriff." Orson reported in a southern drawl filled with pride.

"Found it in her lower belly, yes'sir we did. Erwin says it looks like a pistol round of some sort. It busted her insides up good, it most certainly did. Traveled from her heart through her stomach as if she'd swallowed it herself, yes'sir it did, just like a pill from the apothecary."

Poe turned the small piece of lead in his fingers as he found it had bulged round from contact with bone.

He pulled open the center drawer of his desk and removed a magnifying glass to take a closer look before he retrieved the other rounds found in the walls of the bank and compared them.

If he were able to find enough difference or similarity between them, he might be able to show well beyond doubt what bullets had come from which gun when compared to those that he had test shot into the water barrel just outside his office.

"Erwin and I were both wondering who might be tending to Daisy's affairs now that she's dead. Shame such a pretty girl might have to rest untended like that for eternity; even if she had whored herself out like she did. Yes'sir, indeed it would."

"Nadia and Mikhail would be my guess." Poe offered after some thought. "They always take good care of their girls. Don't either of you worry none about that particular issue."

A look of discomfort passed over the undertaker as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the blue scarf that had been around the throat of Daisy May Wells.

"Leave that on the desk." Poe suggested. "I'll see to it that LaRouchette gets it back."

"Thank you, Sheriff. I find him and his people to be unsettling and folks like that just plain make Erwin nervous."

"Have a good day Orson, and thanks." Poe replied as he watched the undertaker turn and walk up the street.

He smiled and shook his head at the very thought of vampires making undertakers nervous.

Discovery that one of your clients might get up without warning was probably something that they preferred to avoid entirely, at all costs.

Poe took out the sheet of paper that he'd sketched the rough layout of the bank and the various positions of the dead as they'd been discovered.

It was clear well beyond doubt, from what he'd found so far, that the round that had killed Daisy Mae had not come from any of the guns that had been collected so far.

Neither had he found the bullet from the gun last held by the man found dead in the street just outside the bank.

As he tapped the end of his pencil against the desk, Poe decided to go by the bank once more before the street filled with traffic and people got curious.

Carefully folding the paper, he tucked it in his shirt.

He set the bullets into separate boxes in the drawer, each marked to show which gun that they appeared to have come from.

As he retrieved his hat, his thoughts turned towards Running-Deer as he wondered if she'd be back by nightfall.

The street appeared quiet as Poe made his way down the boardwalk.

As he passed the Long Branch, he noted the stage had been prepared for travel; while from the empty coach, there didn't appear to be any passengers on their way west this time around.

But then again, even cargo had paying customers.


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