DARK TRAIL HOME

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CHAPTER FORTY

When Malone was gone, Donny started sniffling. “A fair trial? What good is that going to do? They’re going to hang us, Tyree.”

“No more than we deserve. Why’d I come back here? I should have stayed in Texas.” Tyree said. All the emotion felt like it had been sucked out of him.

“I hid the body. I dragged him off, and buried him, Tyree. I left and went to Canada. I got as far away as I could. Clem found me. I thought he was going to kill me or I wouldn’t have said a word. I swear I told him what happened, told him you had no choice. He didn’t care.”

“He found you in Canada?”

“No, he found me in Dakota territory. Months ago.”

“You bastard, you lied to me. You said you hadn’t seen him.”

“I tried to tell him, he just didn’t care.”

“You knew he wouldn’t care.” Tyree finally said. “You can shut the hell up now.”

Sleepless nights, morning coffee and brick walls staring back at him all blended together.

“Malone’s brother asked me to come see you. You know he’s a lawyer up in Colorado. Donovan Malone.” A man in a dark suit spoke from outside the cell. Tyree sat up in the top bunk and scooted back against the wall. “You Tyree Allison?” He asked, looking from Tyree to Donny. “I’m Tommy Hilfiger. I’ll be your attorney.” Tyree ignored him. “Son, if you got anything to say you need to talk to me. The judge will be here in a few days.”

“I got nothing to say.” Tyree answered none of the questions Hilfiger asked. He finally gave up and left. Tyree stared out the window. From the roof of the building across the street he saw some small movement.

“You ought to stand away from that window.” Sheriff Tinsley told him as he slid a tray of food under the door.

“I seen the fellow with the rifle on the roof yonder,” Tyree said.

“That’s Malone’s man.”

“Malone? He did that?”

“Yeah, said he didn’t want nobody takin’ pot shots at you boys. Don’t know why he’d care.”

“I need to talk to him. To Malone,” Tyree said.

“I’ll let him know if I see him.” Tinsley grunted.

It was three day before trial when Malone showed up. He brought tobacco and rolled him a smoke. “You need to eat, kid. Sheriff says you ain’t eating. I can see you’ve lost weight. You were already skinny as a barn cat,” he said through the bars. “I can bring you some sandwiches if you want.”

“I’m not hungry,” he said. “I just wanted to know how Mark is. Is he askin’ bout me? And Marcie, is she okay?”

“I told them to stay home. They are moping around, as you probably expected. They wanted to come see you, but I don’t want them here.”

Tyree turned his back, looking out the window. I only disliked you till now, Malone. Now I hate you.

“Trial’s Tuesday. All this will be over soon.” Malone said. Tyree shrugged and Malone left. Donny had devoured the food, leaving crumbs which Tyree didn’t want anyway.

“All be over soon, Donny,” Tyree said.

“I reckon so. You scared, kid? Cause I’m scared.”

“I’m scared, Donny. I can’t stop shaking.”

He found that funny, though he didn’t laugh. It had always been Donny who said, don’t ever show fear, or weakness. Just act like you got it all under control.

It was barely daylight the next morning he heard Marcie’s voice at the bars. He rolled off the bunk and rushed to her.

“I’m not supposed to be here. Joel forbid me come, but I had to talk to you before I left for Denver,” she said as he took her hands.

“Joel was right. You shouldn’t have come. But I’m glad you did.”

“I can’t come to the trial. I am going to Denver for Christmas, to my brother Donovan’s. Tell me what’s going to happen, Tyree?”

“I don’t want to talk about that. I just want you to know how much I think about you. I ain’t thought about nothing else.”

“Just tell me all they are saying isn’t true, Tyree. I will believe whatever you tell me.”

He held her hand against his lips and whispered. “I cain’t. I am everything they said, and more.”

“Tyree, that can’t be. They said you were an outlaw, that you are wanted. That you ride with rustlers.”

“All true, cept that last. I quit them long ago. I didn’t have nothing to do with killin’ John.”

She squeezed his hand. “All true? I was scared to hear that. I’m sorry, Tyree. I will be praying for you. I wish I could be here for you at your trial.”

He squeezed her hand a little tighter afraid she would pull away from him, but she didn’t. “Please don’t hate me, Marcie. I never cared about nobody before I met you.”

“I don’t hate you.”

She cain’t even look at me. “I hate that you found out like this. I wanted to tell you, just not like this. Thank you for coming to talk to me. It means a lot.”

She nodded. “Mark wanted to be here, too. I had to be here, I had to know.” She squeezed his hand and brushed his fingers across her face, wetting it with her tears.

“I’m sorry, Marcie.” He kissed her fingers and let go. “I’m glad you came to see me. It will help me get through this. Have a good Christmas at your brother’s.”

Her head was down as she left, a hand held over her mouth then swiping at her eyes as the sheriff let her out. Tyree clung to the bars for a long minute, before he climbed to the top bunk, and lay staring at the ceiling.

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