The Holts… Chapter 8
Chapter 8 – Jail
As the sheriff and the two Holt brothers approached the jail all was quiet. Most of the townsfolk that ventured out had either stayed with the doc and the body or had wandered that way hoping to get a glimpse of poor Zeb. A few had given them some looks on their way to the jail, and fewer had followed several steps behind the three. As they arrived the door opened. Deputy Billy, who was waiting inside with Phoebe, stood in the doorway. Morgan motioned Donni inside the building before turning to scan the street. Carlton stepped up and into the sheriff’s office/jail right behind Donni. Billy pulled his gun from his holster as the second Holt entered the building. ‘The town seemed pretty quiet for just having had a killing,’ Morgan thought. No body was making much of a fuss yet. He hoped it would stay that way. “Now you folks go on about your business,” he said to the few people who had followed them, before he entered the building.
Morgan took Donni through a door to the back room where a jail cell was visible and locked him in first thing. He then hung the keys on the wall, well out of reach of the cell and came back out to the office, leaving the door open. Phoebe Gatlin sat in a chair next to the sheriff’s desk, her eyes red from crying. At least she had stopped that. She smiled at Donni as he pressed his face to the bars and waved at her. Carlton turned away to hide his smile. There was no getting Donni to understand the seriousness of this.
“Put away your gun Billy, and go walk the streets. Talk to as many citizens and shop owners as you can. Let them know things are taken care of around here,” time to show the presence of the law. Keep the good citizens calm. Don’t want them getting some idea about taking the law into their own hands. Taking Billy aside before he left he also told him, “Find out who else saw what went on. Get their names and tell them to come give me a statement. I want this handled peacefully. If you find anyone who knows what Zeb was doing today get them to come in too.” Billy quickly slipped out of the office.
Turning and seeing the exchange between Donni and Phoebe the sheriff looked annoyed, “Now Phoebe, I want you to tell me what happened.” Phoebe went into detail on how Donni had offered to carry her packages, then they walked down the street making small talk. The minor discussion they had with Donni’s brother. Carlton payed close attention to that. Finally it let up to them bumping into the two ranch hands.
“He was just protecting me sheriff. That ugly Zeb Barker said some very nasty things that a lady shouldn’t have to listen to. And when Donni… uh, when Mr. Holt, objected to his language, he said some more very nasty things about me and him. After which Donni moved me back out-of-the-way and talked with Zeb Barker very quietly. Then all of sudden Zeb went for and pulled his gun… and then Donni shot him.”
The sheriff watched her carefully, “And you’re sure that that’s the way it happened?”
She nodded,”I’m sure sheriff.”
“Did Zeb get a shot off?”
“I, I don’t know… I think so.”
“Do you know where Zeb was working these days?”
“No sir, he did say he and his boys were going to teach my family a lesson. That was part of what he was talking about before…,” Phoebe choked up and started crying again after thinking about the gunfight.
Carlton raised his eyebrows, “Any more questions, sheriff?”
Morgan frowned at him, “Just keep your nose out of the law’s business, Mr. Holt. I’m taking care of it. Phoebe you can go on home. If I have some more questions I will come see you. Don’t leave the territory until after the trial, OK?” Phoebe nodded.
Carlton stood and put his hat back on, “I’ll walk Miss Gatlin to wherever she’s going. I need to get back to the boarding house soon and look after my other brother and cousin.”
The sheriff nodded, “You can go Phoebe, but I might want to talk to you again.” Carlton opened the door and escorted her out into the fading daylight. She turned and smiled at Donni who was pacing around his cell looking it over with interest.
“Goodbye, Donni. I’ll bring you a meal.” getting his attention.
“Goodbye Phoebe,” he grinned and waved at her and Carlton. Carlton gave him a disgusted look and shut the door.
Carlton and Phoebe stopped and stared at the two men sitting on the boardwalk.
Luke grinned at Carlton, “I see you’re taking good care of my cousin, Cousin Carlton.”
Carlton snarled,”I thought I told you two to stay away.”
Kelvin grinned at Luke,”I told you that’s what he would say.”
Luke stood up and walked over to Phoebe. Tipping his hat to her and said, “Hello Miss Gatlin. I didn’t get the chance to introduce myself during all the ruckus. I’m Luke Holt.” Carlton shot Luke a disapproving look and took Phoebe’s arm and walked her away.
Kelvin grimaced, “You’d better leave her alone, Luke. Donni don’t care much about saloon girls, and what they do, but ladies are a different matter.” Kelvin grinned at him as they walked along behind.
Luke looked disgusted, “Shit,” he kicked a pebble into the street and glumly walked along behind.
Carlton left Phoebe at the general store where she said her father and brothers would be along to pick her up and then the three Holts headed towards the boarding house.