Part 9

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By the end of the week, with Running-Deer off in search of herbs and Bracna tending to other patients, Poe looked up to find the ample bulk of his friend Sheriff Franklin Tombs had filled the doorway as he casually leaned against the door jam.

Arms crossed, Tombs smiled around the toothpick clenched in his teeth as he took stock of his old partner.

"When they tried to tell me that you were dead and gone, I simply told them that there was no god damned way some half baked vampire whore could have taken the legendary Marshal Augustus Poe off that mountain. Simply couldn't happen."

Poe couldn't help but smile at his friend's legendary sense of humor.

"She almost did, Franklin. If my horse hadn't gotten spooked and run off, she just might have."

Something that still unnerved Poe from their last meeting had been the apparent respect that bordered upon fear that the big man had shown the whore who had led the posse into such disaster as she apparently had.

Tombs spotted the bottle of whiskey and walked over to pour a glass. "Bracna mentioned something about medicine not mixing real well with this fire water or I'd offer you a share."

His head snapped back quick as he drained the glass.

"Damn trail and this heat can make a man awful god damned dry." he observed with appreciation as he put the glass down and pulled a chair over to straddle it in reverse; a practiced habit of most lawmen to leave their pistols exposed and ready if they were to suddenly find themselves in need of them.

Tombs reached into his pocket to pull out a bullet and tossed it over. Poe noticed the bullet had the balled appearance of a spent pistol round as he examined it.

"Your Indian friend gave that to Bracna, claimed that she found it in your saddle and probably did what that brace aims to fix."

Poe closed his eyes as he realized just how close he'd come to not making it off that damned mountain while he clenched his fist around the bullet.

"Where the hell did they go, Franklin? We might yet be able to catch them."

Tombs simply smiled and shook his head at the suggestion.

"Cannot be done and believe me when I say that we've tried on more than one occasion. They must have gone west through the mountains, but they're a damned sight better than the Indians are at covering their back trail. Hell, they may have even learned much of that practice from them directly, for all we know."

Poe put his head back against the wall in frustration. "So that's it then. They're just gone?"

"Afraid so; however, they do have a history of showing back up in areas where they've been seen before. We suspect they don't fully realize as of yet that there are people now who make sure that they are properly remembered."

"You mean this GSS group that I'm supposed to be transferring to."

Tombs nodded, as he rested his arms across the back of the chair.

"You remember old Pierre Beautouxe? Scrawny Frenchman that cheated cards better than he did trapping?"

"Among your last felons, if I recall ..." Poe offered, "... found him dead from a bear attack or something didn't you?"

When Tombs smiled without a word, Poe suddenly understood what must have happened.

"Wasn't no bear, was it."

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