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From the Wagon Train Diaires
The wagon train’s stopover near Valley Poet Junction had a strong Mormon influence, and the number of places that served alcoholic beverages was few. In fact there were only three of them and the Wagon Master and his scout White Deer stopped in each of them, twice.
Later that evening, Porter Hurst arrived at the chapel wagon in a state of great agitation and told Father Mason Richards he absolutely had to make a confession immediately. Hurst sat down in one of two chairs that were positioned inside the wagon train’s tent walls. A small table separated the chairs, and an old dirty cloth had been hung over the table to separate priest from parishioner.
“Anytime you’re ready, my son.”
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” Hurst said. His voice was high pitched and his words became erratic. He was a man with something heavy on his soul and the priest knew it.
“Calm down, my son.”
The wagon train’s new cook Linh Hi Lee was getting water and overheard the confession. She heard Porter Hurst talking about killing a man over a woman with oversized breasts during their brief stopover at Valley Poet Junction. He made it clear that he thought the man was hurting that woman and he wanted to come to her aide. It was a set-up, they were working together to rob him and they had almost succeeded. He told the priest that he was tossed to the ground in a back room and kicked several times. He then reached for his gun and fired several shots with his eyes closed. When he opened his eyes he saw the woman with the oversized breast standing over the man shouting, you killed him!
Lee knew that she had to tell Alastar Brown what she heard. She never understood the concept between priest and parishioner and confessions. All she understood was murder and death. This had to be reported to the Wagon Master.
When Hurst left the church wagon he looked around and saw a commotion down the line near Alastar’s wagon. He didn’t understand what was going on, but the Wagon Master was doing a great deal of shouting.
The passengers from the second wagon in were upset that Lee told Alastar everything she heard during the confession. They were trying to tell the Wagon Master that Hurst was cleansing his soul of sin and that was a private matter.
Father Richards came storming down when he got wind of what was happening to join the argument. The Wagon Master had no idea what to say. He just stared at the holy man and grimaced.
White Deer moved closer to Alastar Brown and told him to stand tall. There was a murder committed in a town on there trail and he had to make sure it got looked into.
“I know the confession was supposed to be a private thing father…”
“You’re damn right,” Shouted the priest. “I can’t do my job if I only offer liquid confessions. Who in God’s name would want to confess their sins?”
“There was a man killed over in Valley Poet Junction,” White Deer added. “The only thing you offer is a lousy ten Hail Marys! We need to go back there and clear the matter up. The wagon train’s reputation is at stake.”
There was a long pause, and Alastar could almost hear swear words coming from the holy man’s breath. “I can’t have your cook listening in on my confessions Alastar. I just won’t stand for it.”
Again a pause, then Porter Hurst pushed his way through with an admission in a voice tinged with fear and desperation. “I agree with the wagon master, I killed a man and I must own up to that fact.”
“Then it’s settled, we must go back and clear this thing up.”
“That’s Mormon country Alastar,” shouted the priest. “He won’t have a chance with them.”
“I don’t think that’ll be necessary Alastar,” said White Deer as he pointed to eight men on horses coming their way. “The sheriff from Valley Poet Junction is riding in.”
The sheriff hopped off his horse quickly and stood in front of the Wagon Master. He carried in his left hand a Bible and a hymnal. He also had a very intense stare.
“We were just going back to your town, sheriff.”
“We want Porter Hurst,” he demanded. “He is guilty of murder and must be judged in the eyes of the law.”
Father Richards and White Deer moved forward simultaneously. “He killed in self preservation.”
The sheriff removed his hat and placed the Bible in it. “The Lord has given us the wisdom to establish just laws. He will be judged by those laws and in His eyes.”
“What does that mean?” Linh Hi Lee asked as confusion attacked her tiny face.
“He will hang so that God will be the one judging.”
“That’s murder!” shouted the priest.
“It’s the law of our land,” said the sheriff as he looked down at the holy man. “Our God is the one and only true God.”
“You’re nuts,” said Alastar Brown.
The Mormon sheriff was obviously demented and to pursue his method of law only encourage him to give vent to his madness. “We come here solely to do out job. Find Porter Hurst and take him away.”
“This has gone far enough,” said the Wagon Master. “If you touch him, I’ll put a hole in you.”
The sheriff smiled for the first time. “A sinner amongst sinners; your threats will be heard by God.”
“God will also hear your body fall to the ground if you don’t get back on your horse and head for home,” threatened the Wagon Master. “Trust me; you’ll be dead amongst the dead.”
The sheriff’s eyebrows went up, and he moved closer to Alastar Brown. “Do you know what you’re doing?”
“White Deer,” Alastar said as he didn’t back down. “Count to ten, and if the sheriff and his deputies are not riding back to Valley Poet Junction, start shooting. I want to see and hear bodies falling and hitting the ground.”
“My pleasure,” White Deer replied.
“That’s murder,” shouted the sheriff.
“No, it’s our law,” said Alastar. “And I follow it to the letter!”
The scout raised his rifle along with over ten other passengers as the count continued. The sheriff bit his lower lip and ordered his men back onto the horses. He looked at Father Richards with disgust for permitting such an act, and then he turned his attention to Alastar Brown. “You have not seen the last of me!”
“Know this,” Alastar continued. “The next time we meet, I’m going to put you in a pine box.”
The Mormon sheriff gulped as he jumped onto his horse and rode off.
The holy man stood closer to the Wagon Master and whispered. “My son, would you have killed those men?”
“No, it was an empty threat.”
“But White Deer had reached eight.”
“Oh,” Linh Hi Lee chuckled. “White Deer can’t count as high as eight.”
“My son, you need to confess your sins,” said the priest.
“Liquid confessions,” said Lee. “Because I got to know all his dark little secrets.”
“Yeah me too,” White Deer added.
“No more liquid confessions!” Shouted the priest as he grimaced and stormed off.
© 2013 Frank Atanacio
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