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Thread: TG Lambert, Bounty Hunter: Oklahoma Reckoning

  1. #16
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
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    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    CHAPTER FIFTEEN of 20 or so

    Sheriff Anderson jumped to his feet when Zeeb returned to the parlor. The corner of Zeeb’s mouth was turned up in a nervous grin, his brow was raised an inch or more, and his eyes were as wide as saucers. Lambert slowly stood.

    “What’s the mystery, Zeeb?” the sheriff asked.

    “Can’t say,” he said, relaxing his facial muscles and glancing at the floor. “But Doc wants ta see ya both.” Zeeb licked his dry lips and fixed his eyes on the sheriff. “He’ll tell ya hisself, I reckon.”

    “Did he discover something significant?” Suza asked, sliding to the edge of his seat.

    Zeeb was puzzled. “Don’t know’d ‘bout 'see niffy can’t,' but Doc’s got sumthin’ mighty important ta say just the same.” Then an impish grin formed on his lips. “So never ya mind, Doctor Suza. When the time’s right, ya’ll find out.”

    On hearing that, Suza hopped to his feet.

    “What the hell do you mean by that, sir?” Suza asked. He took a step toward Zeeb, but Sheriff Anderson blocked his way.

    “Sit down!” the sheriff said. “Until Doc tells us what he’s found, remain calm... And don’t leave...” The sheriff waved his hand at all of them. “None of ya. Ya hear?”

    Suza returned to his chair, and the twins nodded. Zeeb led the sheriff and Lambert to the examination room.


    “Whatcha find, Doc?” the sheriff asked as soon as he stepped into the room.

    “Actually, Zeeb found it... A fetus...”

    “Fetus?” the sheriff asked. “What’s a—”

    “An unborn baby,” Winston said.

    “I’ll be...,” Lambert said. “She was pregnant.”

    The wheels in Lambert’s mind were turning, and the puzzle pieces were falling into place. The deceased woman was young. Her long, midnight-black hair and kanzashi sticks suggested she was Japanese. Since the woman was pregnant, that ruled out Mika as the corpse's identity, at least according to Miss Lilly, so that pointed to Sakura, the only other Japanese woman in the picture. But as neatly as the puzzle was fitting together, Lambert had lingering doubts. Mika had the opportunity, but he could not fathom why she would murder Sakura.

    Then the sound of Doctor Winston’s voice redirected Lambert’s attention.

    “...And as near as I can determine—her being a China woman and all—she was about five to six months along.”

    “That throws a new light on the situation,” the sheriff said.

    “How’s that?” Lambert asked.

    “Motive. Now we gotta motive fer her murder.”

    “Don’t drive your herd up a box canyon, Sheriff,” Lambert said, shaking his head.

    “What ya mean?”

    “Opportunity: when he do it?” Lambert asked.

    Winston and Zeeb swapped glances.

    “Miss Lilly and Jeb said Mika and Sakura were together on a buggy ride until about seven-thirty,” he continued. “If the medicine show started at six, and Suza was on stage, hawking his elixir, he couldn’t have done it.”

    “That’s not how I sees it,” the sheriff said, sweeping his hand toward the door. “The prime suspect’s sittin’ right out in that there parlor, Lambert, plain and simple. He got angry ‘cause she missed the show, they fought, and he killed her—on purpose or by accident; it don’t matter a hill of beans, one way or the other. He’s guilty just the same.” The sheriff turned to leave. “And I’ll get ta the truth, with or without yer help.”

    “Sheriff... Wait. Wouldn’t the twins know what—”

    But Lambert’s plea fell on deaf ears. Sheriff Anderson was already through the door.


    “Will you tell us what’s going on?” Susa said, getting to his feet when Sheriff Anderson entered the room. Lambert, Winston, and Zeeb followed close behind him.

    The sheriff leveled his gun on Suza.

    “I’m arrestin’ ya fer the murder of yer China woman, so hand over yer gun.”

    “What?” Suza said, waving his hands. “I—I didn’t kill anyone.”

    “I said ta hand over yer gun.”

    “I don’t have one, Sheriff.”

    “You’re making a big mistake, Sheriff,” Lambert said, stepping toward Suza.

    “Stand aside, Lambert. I’ll handle this.”

    “Before you do something you’ll regret, may I question Doctor Suza?”

    “Don’t sees how it’ll hurt none. He ain’t a-goin’ nowheres.”

    “Why don’t you and Doctor Suza have a seat.”

    “Lambert...” the sheriff said.

    “Humor me, Sheriff.”

    Sheriff Anderson waved his gun toward the sofa, and Suza sat next to Chyou and Daiyu. Anderson holstered his weapon, found a chair, and sat. Winston and Zeeb backed against the wall.

    Lambert moved a chair to face Suza and the twins and sat. He wrung his hands and glanced at Winston.

    “Doc Winston discovered that the woman murdered in Prescott Woods was pregnant—possibly five or six months along. That right, Doc?”

    “That’s right, son,” Winston said, nodding. “As near as I can figure.”

    “Pregnant!” Suza said, jumping to his feet. “Sakura was pregnant?”

    “You’ve got your herd in a stampede, Doctor,” Lambert said. “We don’t know for sure the identity of the woman.”

    When Sheriff Anderson heard that, he started to stand, but Lambert motioned for him to remain sitting with a wave of his hand.

    Suza ignored Lambert and turned to the twins.

    “Did either of you know Sakura was going to have a baby?”

    Chyou and Daiyu chattered in Chinese to each other.

    “Chyou... Did you know?”

    Chyou looked at the floor.


    Daiyu looked at the floor as well.

    “Why didn’t you—she tell me?”

    Neither woman answered.

    “All right. All right, Suza,” the sheriff said, getting to his feet. “This family intrigue don’t change nuthin’. Yer still my—"

    “Unsaddle your horses, Sheriff,” Lambert interrupted. “I’m not done yet.”

    Sheriff Anderson sat and shook his head.

    “There’s more going on than a rancher and hired-hand relationship, more than a business arrangement to sell elixir. Am I right, Doctor?”

    Suza shifted positions in his seat and looked at the twins. He adjusted his tie and licked his lips.

    “Is Sakura your wife?” Lambert asked.

    Suza sat stone-faced.

    “This ain’t gettin’ us nowheres, Lambert,” the sheriff said, standing again. “I’m fer lockin’ him up till we’s can figger the truth of the matter.”

    “Sit down, Sheriff,” Lambert said, “and let me finish.”

    Sheriff Anderson plopped in his chair.

    “Was Sakura Doctor Suza’s wife?” Lambert asked the twins.

    They chattered in Chinese and then nodded.

    “I can only think of one reason for your silence, Doctor Suza. Chyou and Daiyu are your wives as well, aren’t they?”

    Suza looked at the floor.

    “Might as lay your cards on the table, Doctor,” Lambert said. “The truth’s coming out with or without your help.”

    Suza squirmed in his seat and wiped his brow.

    “You won’t understand...”

    “What’s ta understand?” the sheriff shouted, jumping to his feet and unholstering his gun. “Ya got three wives and killed one of them ‘cause she were carryin’ yer baby.”

    “No... No... You got this all wrong, Sheriff. When I bought them from the orphanage, I had no matrimonial intentions, just their freedom, and a business arrangement. But after a year or so, I developed strong feelings for them. When they reached marrying age, I asked them if... Having three wives was legal at the time, and I couldn’t give any of them up when the law was passed.”

    “But that don’t explain the baby,” the sheriff said.

    “I tried... We all tried... But I’d given up hope on being able to father a child,” Suza said with a tear in his eye. “So you see, Sheriff, we wanted a child more than anything, and I couldn’t kill my wife because she was pregnant. On the contrary, I’d be the happiest man on Earth.”

    “Then the twins done it out of jealousy,” the sheriff said, pointing his weapon at them.

    “Sheriff...” Lambert said. “Your herd’s stampeding in circles.”

    “Take no offense, Lambert, but ya Injuns talk in riddles,” the sheriff said. “Spit it out, plain and simple like.”

    “For one thing, how’d they do it? When’d they do it? Sakura and Mrs. Prescott left on their buggy ride between two and three. Jeb said the buggy was returned at sundown or about seven-thirty. The medicine show started before then. So the twins couldn’t have killed Sakura. That leaves Mrs. Prescott...”

    “Ole Reginald ain’ta gonna like yer insinuation, son,” the sheriff said, shaking his head.

    “Would explain her sudden departure on the northbound train, which from all accounts, was unusual even for Mrs. Prescott’s sometimes unpredictable behavior.”

    “Where ya get yer schoolin’, Lambert?” the sheriff asked. “Half the time, I don’t knows what yer sayin’.”

    Lambert ignored him.

    “What time does the train to St. Louis stop tomorrow?” Lambert asked.

    “Don’t know fer sure... Just what ya up ta, Lambert?” the sheriff asked.

    “Looking for answers. Meanwhile, I’d turn them loose but keep them in town until I return.”

    End Chapter Fifteen

  2. #17
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    CHAPTER SIXTEEN of 20 or so

    Lambert left Doctor Winston’s house and headed to the depot to check the train schedule for St. Louis and buy a ticket. The depot was a one-story building with clapboard siding, cornice brackets painted yellowish-gold; window trim, door trim, fascia painted dark brown; and a roof covered with black shingles. The main double-wide doors opened from the loading platform into the middle of the building.

    The interior was three times as long as its width, and its walls were dark-stained, with vertical tongue and groove planking above light-stained wainscotting. A potbelly stove divided the waiting room on the left, with church-pew-like seating from an open area and ticket sales right side of the building. A framed, walk-up height, arched opening with ornate metal bars in the wall served as the ticket window. To its right was a chalkboard with train schedules, but it had not been updated in several days. To the left was a door to the ticket office.

    The ticket agent was a young man barely out of his teens with curly brown hair, a narrow face, and a pointed jaw, sitting on a stool with an elbow on the counter and his hand cradling his head. He wielded a fly swatter in his other hand, whacking any unfortunate insect landing within arm’s length.

    “...Twelve,” the agent said, whacking another fly. Soon, another landed nearby. “Thirteen... That beats my record, Joey.”

    “Yer plumb loco, Billy,” Joey answered from the office behind the ticket counter.

    Lambert approached the window. Billy raised his lazy eyelids but managed to swat another fly without missing a beat.

    “Fourteen, Joey... What ya want, mister?”

    Lambert suppressed the urge to rip the bar off the ticket window, drag the insolent youngster through the opening, and teach him a few manners. Instead, he took a deep breath and slowly let it out while counting to ten to himself.

    “Didn’t ya hear me, mister? I said—”

    “I heard you the first time, sonny,” Lambert said, glaring at him. “When’s the next train to St. Louis?”

    “Saturday,” Billy said while swatting at another fly and missing. He threw the swatter on the floor. “See what ya done, mister?”

    Lambert did not respond; he just glared at him.

    “Made me miss that there fly. Now, I’m gonna havta start countin’ all over again.”

    “What time does it leave? Lambert said through his clenched jaw.

    “Oh, yeah... The train to St. Louie... The Saturday Limited... I reckon it arrives somewheres ‘round six and leaves ‘bout six-twenty in the morning. Wanna ticket?”

    “Yes. And some information.”

    Billy sat straight on the stool, leaned forward, and took a slow gander at Lambert from toe to head.

    “Uh...” Billy sucked air through the corner of his mouth. “What kinda information, mister?” he asked, cocking his head backward and looking down his long nose at Lambert.

    “Did you sell a ticket to a China woman about two weeks ago? She would’ve been going to St. Louis.”

    “Who wants to know? We don’t up and revel them kinda particulars to every trail bum, waltzin’ in here, thinkin’ he’s somebody. Especially, ta no Injun Chief.”

    “Billy,” Joey yelled. “That mouth of yers is gonna get ya inta trouble sumday.”

    “Seys, you,” Billy said, turning his head toward Joey.

    Lambert’s anger flared. He stepped backward and pushed his coat aside, revealing his sidearms.

    “These want to know, sonny.”

    Billy whipped his head around. He took one look at the Pearl-handled guns strapped to Lambert’s hips and dove under the counter.

    “He’s gotta gun, Joey! Hide!”

    “Yer gonna get us kilt, fer sure, ya idiot.”

    Lambert tried opening the door to the ticket office, but it was locked. Undeterred, he kicked it in and found Billy cowering under the counter. Joey was nowhere to be seen.

    “Don’t shoot, mister,” Billy whimpered, hunched over against the wall and shielding his head with his hands.

    Lambert approached Billy and stopped, hands on his guns. He loomed tall over the trembling young man. Tears trickled down Billy’s cheeks, and his jaw and lips quivered.

    “Ple—Please, mister,” Billy pleaded. “I didn’t mean nothin’.” He shook his head. “Just don’t shoot me.”

    “Lord knows I’d like to,” Lambert said, putting his hands on his hips, “but I’m not gonna waste good lead on the likes of you. Now stand up, you sorry dump of horse muck.”

    “Yes, sir,” Billy said, hopping to his feet. Whatcha wanna know, mister? Anything. Just ask.”

    Billy stood ridged, hands at his side. His brow was raised an inch or more, his eyes were as wide as saucers—focused on Lambert’s guns—his mouth was agape.

    “Did a China woman purchase a ticket to St. Louis about two weeks ago?”

    “Not that I can remember. Honest, mister,” Billy said, shaking his head without moving his body. He cocked his head toward Joey. “You remember a China woman, Joey?”

    “Yeah,” he answered from under his desk. “She bought a ticket and left on the northbound local at eight-thirty.”

    “Is she the same China woman who always purchased a ticket to Vinita?”

    “She got tickets from Billy,” Joey said, getting to his feet. “Sorry, we can’t help ya, mister.”

    “Obliqued, anyway,” Lambert said. He turned to Billy. “Wasn’t that much easier?”

    “Yea—Yeah, I guess so,” Billy stammered, and then he opened the counter’s drawer and offered Lambert a ticket. “Oneway or roundtrip, mister?”


    After purchasing a roundtrip ticket, Lambert started for the saloon to get a bite and some suds to wet his whistle. Before he was halfway there, a horse-drawn coach rolled into town.

    There was no mistaking who the coach belonged to. Only Reginald Prescott could be that audacious. It looked as outlandish as his bank, all painted sage green with hunter-green trim. Gilded scrollwork outlined the coach's top, bottom, and side edges. Its wheels matched the color scheme all the way to the ground. The calligraphy letter RP on the coach’s door was 24-caret gold, and shiny brass edge protectors were freshly polished to mirror-like perfection.

    The horses were a matched team of four of the finest stock Lambert had ever laid eyes on. And they were hitched to the coach with harness leather that looked brand new, never been used before. A driver and “shotgun” wore matching uniforms akin to toy soldiers.

    They stopped at the livery, and the “shotgun” hopped down to open the coach’s door for its passenger. Prescott put his hand on the window frame, leaned forward, and surveyed the town. A few townsfolk turned toward the livery to see what the commotion was all about.

    Prescott climbed down and tipped his hat to the onlookers, but they turned and went about their business. When he saw Lambert, he waved his hat above his head to get Lambert’s attention.

    Lambert was not at all pleased to see Prescott. The mystery of two missing Japanese women had too many open-ended questions for anyone to step in and muddy the waters, and having Prescott in town would do just that. But Lambert cordially acknowledged him and walked toward the livery.

    When he was in earshot, Lambert asked, “What brings you to Wyandotte, Mr. Prescott?”

    “Well... Your telegram, for one thing, and my curiosity, for another. It’s been years since my last visit to this fine metropolis, and I’d wanted to—”

    “We both know bull when we see it, so let’s not waste each other’s time.”

    “All right, Lambert... I’ve had my eye on a plot of land for quite a spell, and I got wind it might be for sale, so I—”

    “Then, you’re not one bit concerned about the corpse Doc Winston has in his office and that it just might be your wife, Mika.”

    “Hell, no, Lambert. You read her telegram; besides, Mika never had a broken bone in her body.”

    “Perhaps after you met her, but what about before, in her youth?”

    Prescott leaned against the coach, his face drooped.

    “Was her left arm deformed in any way?” Lambert asked. Near her wrist, maybe?”

    Prescott wagged his head without speaking.

    “Now, hold on to your hat, Mr. Prescott. Are you confident Mika was not pregnant?”

    Prescott stood upright, feet firmly planted on the ground, face fiery red, and jaw tightly clenched. “How dare you, Lambert. You’ve no right to suggest—”

    “Come down off your high horse, Mr. Prescott. For one thing, I’m not suggesting anything we both don’t already know about your wife. For another, this isn’t the place to discuss anything about her. Wouldn’t you agree?”

    Prescott nodded in agreement and turned to Samuel, the “shotgun.”

    “See to the horses, Samuel, while Mr. Lambert and I stop by the saloon. Afterward, you and Hank can get something to eat and drink.”

    “You stayin’ in town for the night, Mr. Prescott?” Samuel asked.

    “We’ll be more welcomed on the farm.”

    Lambert’s mouth curled up into a slight grin. He was not so sure Mary and Henry would be glad to see Prescott’s entourage come a-rollin’ down the road. He doubted Prescott would be as welcome as he thought he would be.

    End Chapter Sixteen

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