As West rode along, heading for Rigby, he wondered if maybe he should just keep riding. He had everything with him that he owned, everything he needed. He could just keep riding, to Temperance, to anywhere, and never go back to Madison.
Riding fast, West got to Rigby in under an hour. He’d been to this town before, usually passing through on his way to or from Madison. He tied his horse in front of the saloon and went in first for a drink before getting on with his business.
The saloon had nothing on the Antelope back in Madison. It was small and dirty and boasted only a few patrons. The bartender, MacKenzie, was about as wide as he was tall and was the type of fella who’d had a falling out with a bar of soap once and never made up.
“Yeah?” He asked, like maybe West was there for something other than liquor.
“Whiskey, bottle.” He said, and laid his money on the bar. He took the bottle and the glass offered to a cracked table and sank heavily into a chair. He scrubbed the glass inside and out on his shirt, twice, before he poured himself a shot.
He thought about what he wanted. He knew what he really wanted – peace. Just a peaceful life of no more regrets, no more wondering what the next angry face was going to bring. But that was a far off pipe dream. He’d never have that.
So what he wanted now was to find his Pa and nail his guts to the wall. And if he did it while the snot was dead or was alive, it just didn’t matter.
He had three shots of whiskey, packed the bottle into his saddlebag, and headed for the jail.
“Help you?” The sheriff asked. West knew him by name, Ketchum, but he’d never worked with him. There’d never been a bounty needed bringing here and any other bounty close enough, West brought to Madison. Ketchum was gray haired and twisted some to his left, limping where he’d taken damage to his hip from a cannon shot during the war.
“You ever seen this fella?” West asked, pulling a wanted poster out of his jacket pocket.
The sheriff limped closer to have a look. He looked at the poster and up to West and to the poster again.
“You looking for him? You sure ‘bout that?”
“You seen him or not?”
“Sure, seen him not a week ago.”
“Where? What was he doing? What’d he say?”
The sheriff shook his head and backed away like suddenly West was dangerous.
“Sonny, I know better than to go trying to talk to that.” He jerked his head at the poster. “Wasn’t here in town, was about forty miles south. He was at a way station for the stage line, watering his horse, talking to some other fella. I stayed out of it.”
“What fella? What other fella? What were they talking about? What’d he say?”
The sheriff shrugged.
“Said he was heading to Temperance.”
West had never felt such a sensation of cold settle into his vitals as he did right then.
He swallowed down the bile that threatened to make an appearance.
“You got a telegraph in this town?”