West sat up in bed, heart pounding. The voice had sounded so close, so clear, that he could almost believe Padre had been there. He had to look around his room and assure himself that he was alone.
Padre wasn’t there, West had left him back in San Augustine and all he’d heard was a memory inside a dream.
The sun was just looking over the bottom edge of the window into West’s room. Time to get up. Time to go to the jail and find out who he could kill.
He found Preacher Gaskell at the jail, talking with Sheriff Curran. There was a map on the desk between them. Tom was leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest.
“Did you hear something back?” West asked. He knew he could be on his horse and on the trail in five minutes if he had to.
“Nothing yet.” Sheriff Curran said. “We’re mapping out where he likely might’ve gone.”
West walked up to the desk and studied the map.
“How’re you doing this morning?” The preacher asked. West didn’t look up.
“Have you had breakfast? My Rachel –“
“I said I’m fine.”
West was dismayed when he realized he’d snapped at the Preacher, but the Preacher didn’t say anything, only gave him a questioning look.
“M’sorry.” West mumbled. “I gotta catch this fella. I’m riding out to Rigby. That’s eight miles, that’s the closest town.”
He turned to start out of the jail to go back to his room and get his saddlebags, but Tom stepped in front of him.
“West – wait.”
“You ain’t stopping me.”
“I ain’t asking you to stop, I’m asking you to wait.”
“Wait? Wait for what? I gotta get after him.”
“Get after who, West?” Tom asked. “You said yourself you got no face to put to that knife. You don’t know who you’re after. You’re going off on a wild goose chase.”
West paid him no mind, just tried to push past. Tom grabbed his arm and pulled him around and West only just kept himself from swinging a punch at him. He pulled out of Tom’s grip.
“I know what I’m doing.” He said angrily. “I been doing it a while, y’know. Without anybody’s help. I ain’t alive ‘cause I’m stupid.”
He tried to leave the jail again and Tom blocked him again. West had had about enough.
“I ain’t killed somebody in a while,” he snapped at Tom. “It’s getting so I ain’t feeling particular.”
“What are you gonna do, West? Chase shadows?”
“No – I’m gonna find that son of a bitch and I’m gonna make him eat his own liver.”
“Find him how?” Tom persisted. “You don’t even know who –“
“It’s my Pa, all right?” West shouted. He shoved Tom hard and slammed him against the wall. “It’s my Pa butchered Padre and God knows what else. Who else. It’s him I’m going after.”
“Wait – what? That was your Pa last night?” Tom demanded. “Why didn’t you tell us that last night?”
West was breathing hard, he wanted to run, but for the first time in he couldn’t think how long, he didn’t feel sick thinking about how he lost Padre. He looked around at all three men who were paying very close attention to him. Tom was angry, the Sheriff looked concerned, the Preacher’s expression West couldn’t read.
“No, that wasn’t Pa last night. But it’s his knife. I know his knife. So whoever had that knife last night, got it from him. I’m starting with him.”
“You know where he is?” the Sheriff asked and West laughed bitterly.
“If I knew that any day out of these last five years, I wouldn’t still be chasing him now.”
“West –“ That was the Preacher. He spoke slowly, like he was afraid of spooking West. “Why would your father kill a priest?”
“Hell if I know and damned if I care.” West said. Tom gave him a look like he knew West was lying and West looked away from him.
“What’s your Pa’s name?” The Sheriff asked.
“He’s got a lotta names. Least he did. Never knew the right one.”
The Sheriff sighed like maybe West was being difficult on purpose. He scrubbed his hand over the back of his neck.
“I need his name, whatever names you know he used. I need his haunts, his friends, his vices, anything you’ve used to chase him down all this time. All right?”
“Yeah. All right.” West agreed, grudgingly. “I’ll scribe ‘em down and bring ‘em to you. Will that do you?”
“Before or after you light out?” Tom asked. He still sounded angry.
“Before.” West said. He took a step but Tom was still in his way. “You lettin’ me outta here or what?”
It took a moment, but Tom stepped aside and West walked out of the jail.