It was not a normal day for the Sheriff.
|Heaving a sigh of relief as I felt the ground beneath me, I gave my horse a firm pat and tied the tether to the post outside the county jail.
As I stepped through the porch and into the foul smelling dark room I wrinkled my nose in disgust. No matter how many times I walk through that door, I will never be used to the smell. The smell of filth, and I am not talkin’ about the rats. No the rats are the pleasant part of my job.
I slowly trudged through the jail and I caught sight of a familiar pair of old worn boots.
“Sam” I sighed with slight irritation. Old Sam was the resident local thief and the only reason he wasn’t hung drawn and quartered was due to the fact that his daughter was married to the Major. Old Sam was always in the jail for some reason or another, usually for cheating at cards or gambling for more than he is worth.
“What you in for this time?” I ask coming to a halt in front of the rusty cell.
“Damn Joe, don’t ya have better things to do than pester me all day an’ night?”
I shook my head slightly, the same old response every time. I turned to head towards my small office when a new voice interrupted. His voice was smooth like cream but had a sharp bite to it that instantly had me on my guard.
“Pretty fine wife you have Sheriff, pretty fine indeed.”
I wiped around so fast my neck almost jarred and the man who was lounging against the rickety table grinned, a half tooth less grin.
“What did you say?” In a mockingly innocent way the man cocked an eyebrow.
“Why Sheriff, you don’t mind other mind admiring your wife’s talents do ya?” I turned abruptly from him and in a voice barely above a hiss snarled,
“Don’t mess with me prisoner; just remember who is behind the bars here.” I walked straight down between the cells and out into the clean fresh air. He was just messing with me, trying to provoke me I told myself over and over. I don’t know how long I stood their but the next thing I knew was that the county assistant blank clerk had run up to me and was waving frantically,
“THE BANKS BEING ROBBED!” It took me but an instant to mentally check that I had my gun holstered and to quickly saddle myself upon Lightning before I was off, leaving only a trail of dust in my wake.
I galloped through the wide and dusty roads, people scattered before me and carts skidded to a halt to escape my path. I could see the bank before me, a medium sized, unimposing building, which held no clue as to what it housed inside.
The major as a birthday present to his wife who had just given birth to their first child, a boy, had bought her a stunning diamond necklace and matching bracelet. The knowledge of such a present was supposed to be only privy for those who needed to know, and a robber on this day of all days was no coincidence.
I came to a halt in-front of the bank and jumped of Lighting. I took off at a run towards the bank, the adrenaline already cursing through my veins, a sense of foreboding overcame me, this was not a normal day, nor was it a normal robbery.
I flung the door back, and scanned the area quickly, just two of them both very slight in build, dressed head to foot in black with scarves and hats obscuring their faces. I relaxed slightly thinking them to be just adolescent fools, my first shock. One turned on me and tried to fire at me with his gun but I was too quick. I dived behind a desk but on my descent down towards the ground I found my target, aimed and fired. After my thump onto the ground a second thump followed along with the sound of something lighter but solid landing on the ground, the gun.
I quickly dashed out from behind the desk, my gun locked onto the second robber who was also making their way for the gun. I didn’t shoot, even as I had the second gun in my firm grasp. I hated killing them, and only did so when my own life was in danger.
In the robber’s hand, sparkling like a thousand stars was the diamond necklace.
“Drop it and slowly remove the hat and scarf.” I snarled
The robber hesitantly dropped the necklace and watched it fall and land with a soft thud. They then turned back to stare at me. I cocked the gun at their face,
“The hat and the scarf.” My gun followed the quick movements that my eyes made of her features.
The robber slowly bobbed their head and in a voice that didn’t belong to a robber whispered,
“I can’t” In my rage I didn’t recognise the soft voice but this time I took a step forward and spat,
“NOW! Or I will take them off for you and take your head with them.”
The robber slowly raised their hands, slender and delicate and I noticed a small band of gold wrapped firmly around one of them. The hat came of and with it a stumble of brown curls fell down about their shoulders. Brown eyes shone out at me and as the scarf fell away I recognised the ruby red lips.
With the gun still pointed at her head, my mouth dropped open but my eyes reflected the rage I felt. I glanced at the dead body of her comrade and saw an almost identical face to that of the one who tried to taunt me in the jail.
I heard a quick movement and I glanced back at my wife who had quickly shot to the back door to the bank.
“Don’t take another step or I will shoot.” To confirm my statement I realigned the gun to her chest.
With her brown eyes pleading she begged,
“I’m so sorry Joe, I didn’t mean for this to happen.” At her words I squared my jaw and set a determined look upon my face.
“I can’t let you go.” She stifled a cry with a sniff and hung her head, and in a voice I had to strain to hear,
“Why won’t you say my name Joe?” Mentally this shook me to the core but my face remained set.
“I don’t know who you are anymore.” By the time my statement had sunk in I could hear the hooves and shouts of my backup it was no or never. I would either let her go and give her a chance and betray my job, or I would forsake her to the law and give her up forever.
I know what I would do if she was anyone else, I would do my job and handcuff her and see justice done. But what would you do if the one in front of your gun, the one whose life you held in your hands was your wife?