Chapter 11, Breakfast
Carlton stretched and yawned in the boarding house bed. He rolled over and looked at the sunlight streaming through the window. The sun was fully up, but it was just so. He could hear a few others moving around in the boarding house, getting ready for the day. Breakfast would soon be served. He could barely make out the smells of its preparation along with ever-present aroma of coffee. The quiet clanking of cooking going on in the kitchen was comforting. It was nice to sleep in a real bed again and not be directing everyone on every little detail of the day.
Breakfast and the concerns of the day could wait for a bit. Donni was locked up and safe. Kelvin had been playing cards, so he should have kept his head about him, and Luke, well he might have gotten into some trouble but doubtful. It would be nice to have a the early morning getting ready for the day ritual before he had to go check on his messages and see about getting Donni out of jail.
He reviewed his activities after leaving the bar the night before. There were a few shop owners and others that had gotten to the scene of the gunfight first. Carlton had gone and talked to them and gotten to hear the rumors about the shooting. That let him plant some of his own rumors and correct their stories to a more favorable outcome for Donni. Luckily there wasn’t much to worry about from what he heard. He also ran across three townsfolk who had witnessed the shootout, abet from a distance. Their accounts matched up fairly well with Donni and Phoebe’s and he helped to correct any minor discrepancies. He got them all to promise to go to the sheriff and give their statements. He would need to touch base with them again this morning, verify their stories again, and make sure they were still going to go to the sheriff. Besides that it should be an easy day, exploring the area, and figuring out what was really going on here.
He got up and splashed some water out of the basin onto his face. He pulled out his straight razor and carefully shaved off the few days of growth he had acquired. He trimmed his mustache as best he could, maybe he could take a little time to see the barber in town before heading to the jail. Of course he would have to drag Luke and Kelvin along and make them all get cleaned up. Donni would complain about it when he saw them. He smiled at the thought. It would be good for him to see them enjoying the freedoms outside of the jail. Anything to get him to think before acting.
As he dressed he realized how much he enjoyed the feeling of clean clothes… Mrs. Bisby was an exceptional concierge. He thought fondly of the times that he’d spent in New Orleans; a real city, with real amenities. A place with gentlemen that knew what it meant to enjoy the finer things in life could live. To be able to take the time out of a day and enjoy a morning ritual without having to scramble about, either leaving a dirt speck of a town or closing up a camp. He strapped on his gun-belt and tied off the holster, then picked up his revolver from the nightstand and slid it into the holster. After tieing his string-tie, he pulled on his best frock coat and carefully adjusted the lapels. He picked up his hat and smoothed the brim as he reviewed himself in the mirror.
Yep, he did enjoy staying in a town. Maybe it was time to think about getting off the road. It would take some time to get things settled with the rest of the men they had picked up along the way. Then again most of them were not long-term with any group. They were all good men, four others besides his family, that had their loyalties right and could be counted on in a scrap. That was for sure and proven and why it would be hard to part ways with them. He should consider each one and what their future would hold. They were all diverse and had their own strengths. Some might be good to keep around.
There was Dan Greene, 29. At first you would just see a cowpoke, average height & build, plain face with brown hair. He might actually be slower of whit than Donni, but like Donni he didn’t miss what he shot at. Hell with a rifle he had proven a better shot than Donni. He wouldn’t talk about where he learned to shoot like that. So close out of the war most men wouldn’t talk about where they learned things. He wasn’t very fast with a pistol though, actually damn slow, even though he would hit what he shot at. He was good with cards too. He had been taking Kelvin, to Kelvin’s chagrin, more than 50% of the time when they sat down at a table. That was how they had met him in Las Vegas, NM, at the card table cleaning out Kelvin. Dan was a guy that would be good to keep around in the long run. If he would stay.
Then there was Sam “Bear” Weaver, around 40. A short barrel chested man who you would not want to get into a physical match with. He had a long wild black beard but kept his hair short. If anyone looked to be wild and uncivilized it would be Bear. He looked like he just came off a mountain, mostly wearing skins. That was where they had first run into him too, up in Colorado, a true Mountain Man. He had gone up into the back country and been there for years. Probably spent some time living with the Indians. He was a gentile giant when it came to women, kids, and animals. Every time they passed a new mountain range he would pause and stare at it for the longest time. He was going to just be gone someday. So nothing to worry about there. It was good to know him, he was always welcome, but he was not of the temperament to stick around long-term.
Finally Joe Stokes and Pierre LaForte, they had been with them the least amount of time. They had joined up with them right before traveling down to Tombstone. Joe, 33, blond hair and a little pudgy, was a displaced farmer out of Georgia, who had fought on the wrong side of the war. Carlton expected he would find himself a farm again someday and settle back down. A good hand to have when things needed to get done, but not cut out to live the life of riding around the country side. Pierre, 36, black hair and a bit thin, of body and hair, was a trapper out of the Northeast. How he ended up with Joe was a bit unclear. Either way about it they had both proven very steady and helpful in tracking down those bank robbers. Carlton was sure that Pierre would go back up north once Joe settled. There was a debt between them that went unsaid. Maybe someday they would tell their tale.
It was a bit concerning to Carlton, that the four had not gotten into town yet. When they split up outside of Tombstone it was decided they would camp for a day and then make their way here to meet up with the Holts. None of them were men that wouldn’t come and say goodbye. They should have arrived at least by yesterday. With all the stuff going on with Donni he hadn’t had much time to think about it. He would need to go out riding the country side to see if he ran into them. Maybe find them some real work with the supposed range war that was about to start in this area. Visiting the spreads around and getting information on them would be good. Picking the right side was important. He just hoped that Donni hadn’t already picked a side for them.
Then there was Luke. He was not long for the west. This was a nice diversion for him and he was learning a lot of things that would provide for him once he went back east, but he was not one that was going to last out here. At least not in the small broken down prospecting/cow-towns they had hit for a while. He might be able to survive in a place like Kansas City or San Francisco, but not out here for long.
The smell of breakfast; bacon, biscuits and coffee finally broke Carlton out of his thoughts and his stomach sent him downstairs to partake. He had heard some of the other boarding house patrons making their way down also. Luke and Kelvin should be waiting for him by now.
Luke was sitting there, already on what looked to be his second plate of eggs and bacon. Mrs. Bisby smiled at Carlton as she started to prepare him a plate, “Good morning, Mr. Holt. And how was your sleep?”
“Very good, thank you,” he smiled and sat down. Luke nodded to him and kept horsing down his food. Carlton poured a cup of coffee and looked Luke over. He’d obviously been drinking. “Where’s Kelvin?” Carlton asked, a nagging suspicion beginning to form at the back of his mind.
Luke looked at him, “I don’t know.”
Carlton sighed and set his coffee down as the plate from Mrs. Bisby arrived, “Where did he end up last night?”
Luke shrugged and forked another mouthful of eggs up. “He said something about going over to see Donni.”
Carlton blinked slowly, not good, “And did he come back?” He asked with a bit of shock to his voice.
Luke glanced at him, “I don’t know, I guess not. He wasn’t in his room this morning.”
Definitely not good. Carlton closed his eyes and took a deep breath, keep calm. “Get your coat,” Carlton said as he stood up.
Luke protested, “I haven’t finished breakfast yet!”
Carlton said shortly, “I haven’t started,” as he reviewed the plate in front of him. “Let’s go now!” Luke got up and pulled on his coat, settling his hat on his head. Carlton quickly made a sandwich of what food he could with a biscuit from a plate in the center of the table. Nodding to Mrs. Bisby they rushed out of the dining room.