The Rescue 1
I don't own these characters; I just like to spend time with them. No other profit to be had.
(Set sometime between Seasons 10 and 11)
The day had been a long one and the night even longer. Though there was currently only one trail herd in town, one had proven to be plenty. Looking around at the three broken chairs, the table with only one leg and the too many bullet holes in the floor, Kitty guessed it could've been worse. At least they hadn't shot holes into her ceiling tonight.
Wearily stretching her back, she stood up from the table she'd been sitting at as she tallied up the day's receipts. If she was lucky she might've just made enough that night to pay for the broken furniture and to repair the floor. Looking up, she saw Sam had already done most of the cleaning and turned down the lamps. Anything else could wait till morning. All that was left was to lock up the money and lock the front door. A door, she'd been purposely leaving open for a certain lawman, who'd so far failed to appear.
'Oh, well.' She thought. 'He must have a couple of cowboys in the jail.' Looking over at her barkeeper she could see he was as exhausted as she was. "Sam," she called out to him. "What do you say, we call it a night. We can finish up in the morning."
Gratefully, Sam nodded in agreement. "Yes, Ma'am." He smiled. "You want me to lock up the cash for you?"
"No." She shook her head. "You go on. I'll lock it up."
"Well, alright then, Miss Kitty." Sam said as he took off his apron and reached for his hat and jacket. "You have a good evening and I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Sam." She smiled as she followed him to the front doors and then locked them behind him. Grabbing the cash box and her books, she took one more look around the saloon before putting out the light on the bar and heading into her office.
Opening the door and stepping inside was the last thing she remembered until she came to in Doc's office with a head ache. She never saw or knew of the events that took place afterwards.
When Kitty awoke, she looked around and saw Matt sitting beside her, intensely watching her. "Matt?" She questioned. "What… what happened?"
"How are you feeling?" He asked, deflecting her question for a moment.
"My head hurts." She gingerly rubbed the goose egg on the side of her head. "What happened? How'd I get here?"
"I carried you up here." He answered. "Sam and Tim Fulmer, the whiskey drummer, found you in the floor of your office this morning. You… uh apparently fell and hit your head." He avoided saying anything else, because he needed to hear her version of events first. "Do you remember anything?" He asked cautiously.
Kitty closed her eyes, trying to recall the events of the previous evening. The only thing she could remember was telling Sam goodnight, opening the door to her office and stepping inside. Nothing else. Opening her eyes she shook her head with a blank look at Matt. "I don't remember too much of anything, Matt." She told him. "I remember walking into my office but that's it. Why? Did something happen?" Matt's silence was scaring her a little.
"Do you remember seeing anyone in there as you walked in or maybe hearing a noise or something?" He wanted desperately to find a way out of this for her.
"No, I told you. I remember walking into my office and then nothing else." Her voice had risen in fear. Something seriously bad must've happened while she was unconscious. "Matt, please, you're scaring me. Tell me what this is all about."
Matt dropped his head with a sigh, unable to meet her gaze for a moment. Finally summoning up the courage, he raised his eyes to hers. "When Sam and Tim found you, you were on the floor of your office. You had a gun in your hand and an empty bottle of whiskey lying on the floor next to you."
Kitty looked at him in total confusion. "That doesn't make any sense." She said. "It can't be. I never had any whiskey or a gun when I went into the office. I had no reason to have those things. The only things I had were my books and the cash box."
Matt believed her, which made what he had to tell her next, all that much harder. Getting up from the chair, he paced over to the window, tucking his hands into his pockets so she wouldn't see the slight tremble in them.
"Matt?" Kitty was seriously worried now. "Please, tell me what this is all about." She pleaded.
Taking a deep breath, he turned back to her. "You weren't the only one found on your office floor, Kitty." He said softly, regretfully. "Vic Treager was found lying beside you, and he was dead. Shot. The gun in your hand looked like it had been fired and the bullets from it matched the one that killed Vic."
Kitty's eyes widened as he spoke and she shook her head. "No, Matt. That can't be."
"Kitty," he sighed hating to have to do this but seeing no other choice. "It looks like you killed Vic Treager and unless you can remember something or I can prove otherwise, I'd have to arrest you for murder."
Matt watched as the reality of his words slowly crept across her face and registered in her horrified mind. Swiftly, he crossed back over to the bed and took her hand, pulling her up into his arms. "Kitty, I don't want you to worry about this. Okay? There's got to be a logical explanation behind all of this and we'll find it."
Kitty silently digested what Matt had told her. Vic Treager was found dead, in her office, shot with a gun she was found holding. Raising her eyes to Matt's, she didn't like what she saw. Along with his love and concern, she saw worry and something else she hadn't seen since the night Cole Yankton had robbed the Dodge City bank and Chester had suggested she had helped Cole do it. On his ruggedly handsome face, she saw suspicion.
"You think I killed him, don't you?" She asked. It was not an accusation; it was a statement of fact.
"Kitty…" He nervously licked his lips.
"Don't you?" She asked again, her voice lower but more urgent and carrying a note of pain in it that he should believe something like that of her.
"What I think," Matt said slowly, deliberately, "is that I have to do a lot of investigating, before we'll have any idea of what happened. I admit, you being found with that gun in your hand and whiskey on your clothes, well that sounds incriminating. But you could've been defending yourself against Vic. He and Quaid Hill have been harassing you since they got to town so it's not inconceivable that he got drunk, broke into your office and attacked you and you killed him in self-defense."
"And the whiskey on my clothes?" She questioned. Matt was grasping at straws and she knew it.
"Maybe he had a bottle with him and it got spilled in the struggle." Matt suggested. But he could tell she was no more convinced than he was. Matt took her hand. "Honey, I don't have the answers right now. I don't know what happened or how or why. But I do know that you would not kill a man unless you had no other choice. And somehow, we'll find a way to prove that. Okay?"
Kitty nodded but Matt could tell she didn't really believe him. Pulling her back to him, he kissed the crown of her head and held her tightly. "It's going to be alright, Kitty." He told her. "It's going to be alright."
But as the next two weeks progressed, Matt had the sinking feeling that it wasn't going to be alright. It wasn't going to be near alright. He and Festus had done everything in their power to find proof of Kitty's innocence. But instead of clearing her, everything they found, seemed to damn her even more.
Although Doc, couldn't say with certainty that Vic or Kitty either one was drunk, they had both had whiskey on their clothes and on their breath. Of course, Kitty having liquor on her breath was proof of nothing by its self; she was a saloon owner after all. But it didn't help her case any either.
And although Kitty swore that she had not let Vic into the saloon that night, much less in her office, the fact remained that he was in there and neither the front, nor the back, door had been tampered with, at least as far as he could determine.
The cash box and books, she had entered with, were found on her desk and the money hadn't been touched, so the theory of Vic breaking into rob her, didn't have much going for it. Although Matt figured the reason the money wasn't touched was because Vic had been killed before he could do anything; but that could work against Kitty as well. It could mean that Kitty shot Vic in cold blood, before he could make a move towards her.
The gun, found in Kitty's hand, was hers. It was the one she kept in her desk drawer. Though there was no way to prove with certainty that it had been the murder weapon. It had been recently fired and the bullet found in Treager's body was of the same caliber and make as that found in the gun. And the murdered man was found with no weapons on him or near him, save the one in Kitty's hand.
There were a few things in her favor but they weren't much help. No one saw her shoot Treager, but as she was found with a gun in her hand, and Treager lying dead beside her, that helped very little.
She had a bump on the side of her head and was found by the door which suggested that someone hit her when she entered her office. But Doc couldn't say with any certainty that she hadn't fallen or maybe been pushed by a dying Treager and hit her head on the edge of her desk or cabinet.
Treager and his partner Quaid Hill, who'd come to Dodge about a year prior and set up a hide shop at the end of town, had been harassing Kitty and coming on to her since their first night in town. Kitty had more than once made it clear to everyone, within hearing, that she wanted nothing to do with them and would not accept their many crude proposals. She had even ordered them out of the Long Branch several times. But that only served to give her a reason to want to get rid of them permanently.
For a solid week, Matt, with help from everyone that loved Kitty, did everything in his power to find out what really happened in her office that night and prove that she hadn't killed Vic Treager.
But at the end of the week, amidst pressure from a large contingent of the 'respectable people' in Dodge, Quaid Hill and his 'friends' and a prosecutor sent by the governor specifically for the purpose of investigating this, Matt Dillon arrested Kitty Russell and took her to jail. The charge was Murder.
TBCrt writing here ...