Part 5

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Poe awoke to the smell of fresh brewed coffee.

Not the usual Arbuckle Ariosa that may have been found in the pot, but the unique Mexican special blend cut with peppercorn and other exotic mysteries - which meant he had a visitor - and he knew of only one man who could manage to have it smuggled up to him on a fairly consistent basis.

His old friend and long time partner, Franklin Tombs.

As he rolled from the bunk to his feet, he discovered just how stiff that he'd become from the previous day's exertions as he tried to stand.

He could only shake his head as he straightened up and tried loosen his muscles while he moved across the room; over the piss pot, where he fumbled with his trousers as he looked out the window through the bars.

It had become dark, which meant that he'd slept through the day.

Whatever Clementine and the others had planned must have already been in motion by now and he found that he still didn't want to know what was to become of his deputy.

They'd been through a lot together and now there wasn't a damned thing that he could do to return the favor.

With solemn regret at to what may become of her, he hitched his pants back together with clear resolve before he turned and limp stepped his way out of the cell.

"Been wondering when our sleeping beauty might wakeup, figured if anything could do it, the coffee just might."

The big man was seated at his desk; drawings of the bank along with several bullets were spread out as he'd examined them.

"Oddest damn thing happened earlier when I first arrived ..." his friend started, as he used the handle of the magnifying glass to point at the outer door, "... found some yokel caught up in the dangdest contraption right out of the g'dammed middle ages; something that he claimed one of your deputies not only built but chose to lock him up in it as well, along with several other complaints about baskets and fruit at which point I stopped listening as he just seemed to ramble on, and on, and on yet again."

Poe simply smiled, until he saw the desk Running-Deer had used; cleared of her belongings, where three deputy's badges now rested upon it.

Before he'd collapsed from near exhaustion in the cell, he'd carefully placed everything in boxes and set them by the door.

Now the badges where there and the boxes were gone; undoubtedly packed away by someone for storage somewhere else.

Yet more sign of a finality that did little to stem the feeling of loss and frustration that he still very much felt.

Tombs had picked up another bullet as he examined it in the light of the lamp.

"So ..." the big man mused without looking up, "... long story short, once I managed to find the damn key, I also found it necessary to give him a good dunking in the horse trough to properly clear his senses before I sent him on his way with a boot in the ass for good measure; seemed prudent at the time and he didn't complain ... all that much."

At the stove, Poe picked up a cup that he poured half full before he tried it as hot lava from within woke parts of his body that had long been in desperate need of attention.

"Care to fill me in?" Poe asked as he leaned back upon Deer's desk. He'd probably call it that until he got another full time deputy; that is if he ever got another full time deputy.

"Doc wired me about the attack, I came as fast as I could get away while LaRouchette stopped by earlier and dropped those off. He mentioned something else about his solicitors sending a man to manage their investments and other associates that would be tending the mansion for their witch."

"Their witch?"

"His words, not mine, obviously."

Poe reached down and pulled open a drawer, gently fishing out an unused bundle of journal books that he'd found and set on the desk before he carefully set the badges in their stead and closed the drawer.

"Did he share anything else of particular interest?"

He couldn't exactly remember when he'd purchased the journals or why, but their rediscovery had sparked an idea that would put them to good use.

Tombs frowned as he inspected the bullet. "No, except that they're just about packed up and set to head out in the morning. He said he's stop by and look in on you before they left unless you saw fit to see them off yourself. He also told me your Indian was pretty broken up and they were taking her to a specialist a long ways West of here; somewhere toward California if memory serves."

Poe sighed as he pulled out a chair and sat down to adjust his brace, with all the climbing he'd done, it would probably need oil.

He sat back and looked at his friend.

"Franklin, there is something serious going on. I pride myself with a good nose for trouble and it stinks to high heaven."

"Poe ..." the big man began as he put the bullet and glass down without turning, "... there are things that go on that just don't plum concern us as they used to."

"The attack on my deputy, would probably serve for an example now, wouldn't it."

"No, your deputy is a proper concern." Tombs replied evenly. "It's her care and handling that is paramount now. Whatever's going on seems to have put a buzz of worry in their bonnets, but they seem to have it under control - without our help."

"Did they tell you anything about what is really going on? You know how distasteful I find it to be left in the dark."

Tombs simply shook his head. "I didn't ask; if I had and they'd told me ... well, I took an oath to report it; and you know me and oaths."

"You can't report something that you don't know." Poe replied evenly.

The two men sat in silence.

Poe finished adjusting his brace and stood up to test it. "Do you trust them with her, I mean really trust them." he asked without looking up as he took several measured steps.

"Trust is a strong word when it comes to these people. Let's just say that I appreciate their efforts and hope that they succeed. I know they're gonna give it their damnedest, that's for sure."

Poe looked up to meet his eyes before he picked up the journals and headed to the door.

"Poe ..." Tombs stopped him as he stood in the threshold, "... just remember that you took that same oath that we all did. They aren't telling you what you don't need to know and it may be best for all concerned that you leave it at that."

Poe stood still for several moments as if balanced upon the barrier of the office and the street.

"I'm going to see them off and check on my town. There's an open bunk and an empty piss pot in the last cell - that is if you're planning on staying."

Tombs sat alone in the office watching as his friend moved up the street.

He wondered if it might be time to tell Poe the real reason that they contacted him.

One particular tricky bridge that he wasn't entirely sure, as of yet, if he really wanted cross or how well Poe would take to knowing exactly how much in the dark that he'd been all along for his own good.

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