The River Runs Deep – Episode 45

The manager leaned back, hooking his thumbs into the pockets of his vest.

“When a feller’s scared and knows folks’ll be hunting for him, there’s no telling what he’ll do.

“Mayhap Caleb figured to hide out till he could get away from Deep River, but he got lost down there and ended up trapped.

“Mines are dangerous places.”

“My father was shot.”

William stared at Skinner, witnessing the flash of fear in his eyes and seeing the bob of his throat as he swallowed hard.

“My father was shot and buried in a disused tunnel, but you know that, don’t you?” William continued. “Because you murdered him.”

“No!” Skinner found his voice.

He leapt to his feet.

“You got that wrong –”

“My father discovered you were embezzling, and on a hot summer night nigh on ten years ago, he had proof – and now I have it!”

From his pocket he drew a document bearing the words Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency.

It had nothing to do with this case and William made sure Skinner didn’t see it closely enough to realise.

“You shot my father to silence him.”

“I didn’t!” Skinner cut in. “I swear I didn’t!”

“You’ve a wife and children; I’m giving you a chance here,” William reasoned, pushing a writing tablet and pen across the desk.

“You can take the fall for Caleb Robertson’s murder,” he continued, “or confess to the embezzlement and tell the truth about the day my father died.”

“Your pa was already dead,” Skinner mumbled, not raising his eyes from the tablet before him. “Caleb was already dead when Pearce showed up here.

“All I did was help hide the body in that old tunnel. We figured he’d never be found.”

“Why?” William strove to keep his voice steady. “Why did Wes Pearce kill him?”

“Caleb found out what me and Frank Leasowe were doing. He went to the sheriff and reported it.”

“That doesn’t explain why Pearce shot him.”

“Pearce is Leasowe’s man. He takes care of trouble.

“Pinning the theft on Caleb made a good reason for why he’d left town,” Skinner finished, glancing from the writing tablet to William. “If I turn him in, Pearce will kill me, too.”

William shook his head.

“He won’t get the chance. By tonight he’ll be in prison.”

Dipping the pen into the ink, William handed it to Skinner.

“Don’t leave anything out.”

The office clerk returned from lunch just in time to witness Ty Skinner’s signature.

With the statement in his breast pocket, William rode into town.

“Edgar should be arriving later,” Adelaide was saying.

She was in the office of “The Clarion”, helping Hal select pictures for that week’s newspaper, and had taken a selection over to the window to consider each one in natural light.

Catching sight of William riding along the street, she set the pictures aside.

“How went your interview with Ty Skinner?” Adelaide enquired the instant William entered. “Did he tell you what happened?”

“It’s all in there.” William passed Skinner’s statement to Hal, who’d had a distinguished career in law. “Signed and witnessed. I’m lodging it with you.”

Hal disappeared into an adjoining room, placing the statement in the safe.

“I had to tell him I’m a Pinkerton.”

“The cat’s well and truly out of the bag, then.” Adelaide smiled.

“Wes Pearce doesn’t know. That’s all that matters,” William replied, heading towards the door.

“I’m going to the sheriff’s office to lock him in his own jail,” he added. “We’ll take him over to Buckley County tonight.”

Adelaide looked horrified.

“Is that wise?”

“Adelaide’s right. Pearce may not be the fastest draw, but he hits what he aims at,” Hal cautioned. “You should be armed.”

“Going in wearing a gun would put Pearce on his guard. The first thing I learned in the army was take your enemy unaware.”

William glanced over his shoulder.

“You’d best call a meeting. Deep River will need a new sheriff.”

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.