Chapter 32

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Sheriff Gil Turner pulled out his pocket watch to check the time. Noon, thank God, the morning had seemed to crawl by. He removed his feet from the top of his desk sitting all four legs of his chair on the floor then grabbed his hat and headed for the door. He hadn't taken two steps when he saw Sheriff Andy Helms and several other men pull up in front of his office.

"Can we borrow a few minutes of your time?" A young man asked as they all began to dismount. Turner nodded and headed back into his office.

"What can I do for you boys today?" The sheriff asked with a calm voice and a friendly smile on his face.

The same young man that had asked to talk with him stepped forward. "I'm US Marshall John Henson." Then he nodded towards his partner and continued the introductions. "This here is US Marshall Jinx Mahoney."

Fear gripped his insides, it was all he could do to stay calm. He smiled again and did his best to keep his voice level. "It must be something pretty serious to bring the Marshall's out." Gill drew his brows together as he continued to look at the Marshall he now knew to be John Henson. "You look familiar, you from around these parts?"

"As a matter of fact I am. I worked for Faith Matthew's on the Second Chance until about a year ago." John watched the other man like a hawk. He'd learned a lot this past year and he could easily see that the good Sheriff Turner was shaking in his boots, and with good reason.

Small beads of perspiration began to appear on Turner's forehead as he shifted uncomfortably. "Oh, well what brings you to the fair town of Woodland?" He was dying to wipe his forehead but knew it would be a dead giveaway.

"A murderer." Andy said calmly.

Turner's eyebrows shot up. "A murderer. Who are you looking for and I'll do my best to help you find him" He wanted to turn and run out the back door. He could feel the walls were closing in on him, and the collar of his shirt felt like it was choking him.

"We're looking for you." John said calmly. "Gil Turner, you're under arrest for the murder of Bartholomew Hurst."

"Wh – what the hell?" Turner sputtered taking a couple of steps back. His heart stopped and his ears began to ring. "I'm a sheriff! I protect people from killers like Cade Jacobs, or have you forgotten?" Turner sneered. If that stupid bitch had been more concerned about her reputation, none of this would be happening right now. Jacobs would have hung for killing Bart and he would no one would have ever questioned him about it. But no, she had to open her damn mouth to save the bastard and then he left her! So she ruined herself for nothing. And now he had to deal with this! Turner's eyes darted around the room. There was no way he was going to make it out the front door, at least not alive. No, he had to have a plan, think Turner, think!

"You may have sworn to protect this town but I have witnesses that will testify that you were the one the town needed to be protected against. Now are you going to come quietly or are you going to make this difficult?" John asked as he slowly moved his hand toward his pistol as he watched the other man like a hawk.

Sweat trickled down the side of Gil's face, soaking into the collar of his dingy white shirt. God it was hot! "And just who are these witnesses you have that are going to call me, a man that has dedicated his life to protecting innocent people, a murderer? They must be very upstanding citizens."

"You'll find out at your trial, if you make it that long." Andy said, not even bothering to hide his disgust with the man.

"You're wasting time, let's go." John took a step toward him. "You can't run! There are six of us, don't be stupid." A wild eyed look of fear crept into Turner's eyes as he realized that he was cornered. He attempted to take advantage of John's tender years and inexperience as the marshall let his guard down for just a second, and that's all it took.

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