Jessie Maverick's Kin

Chapter 20 Spinning in Place

Beau didn't have any luck with Hiram Foster. The attorney didn't know anything that Bart hadn't already told his family. He left Foster's office baffled, not knowing where to turn next. Out of habit he started down the street towards the saloon, but when he passed Doc Washburn's office the good doctor pulled him inside and closed the door.

"Got to talk to you," Doc told him in a conspiratorial tone of voice. "Heard about Bart gettin' arrested. Damn shame, that, though there wasn't much worth to Edgar as a human being after Jessie died. Sorry about the way everything's gone down. Need to find out if Bart's still havin' those headaches and blackouts."

Beau sat down heavily into one of Doc's chairs. "What headaches and blackouts?"

The doctor looked Beau right in the eyes and asked "You mean he didn't tell you?"

Beau shook his head. "He didn't tell us anything. What's been going on?"

Doc sank into the chair next to Beau. He shook his head unhappily. "I knew he was keepin' everything to himself. Shouldn't 'a done that. You an Bret had a right to know. Now where's that gotten him?"

"Right to know what?" Beau asked with more than a tone of exasperation in his voice.

The doctor hesitated before answering. There was no reason to keep the secret now that it appeared Bart had cracked under the pressure and pain. "He's been havin' headaches and blackouts for a long time. Came in to see me weeks ago, you know, right before he collapsed that last time. Couldn't find anything wrong with him and gave him some aspirin in case. Haven't seen him since."

"Tell me more, Doctor. Explain the blackouts to me."

Dr. Washburn looked at Beau carefully. "You seem to be a bright young man. Remember when you came by and asked me about how long he'd been unconscious? What I didn't tell you was the longer he was out the more chance there was of him not comin' back exactly the same. Some weeks later it looked like that's just what happened. He had continuous ringing in his ears and bad headaches right before the blackouts started. He only talked to me about one of 'em but he could've had plenty more after that. He missed almost a whole night during that first one. Couldn't remember where he'd been or what he'd done. Seemed real determined not to let you or his brother in on what was happenin' to him. Said you both had enough worries of your own and he didn't wanna add to that."

'Bart,' Beau thought to himself, 'why didn't you tell us?' He turned to Doc Washburn and asked, "Is that all? Is there anything else he chose not to share with us?"

"Nope, not that he told me about. Does it put a different light on things? Help him out, maybe?"

Beau shook his head in despair. "No, Doctor, I'm afraid that it hurts more than it helps. We found Bart unconscious on the floor this morning, fully dressed, and he doesn't know how he got there."

"Doesn't know or can't remember?" Doc Washburn asked.

"Is there a difference?"

"Maybe," replied the doctor. "Let me know what he tells you when you see him. I might be able to help. In the meantime, what I told you is confidential. I'm not volunteerin' anything to Mort Bowman. He's too quick to make up his mind about things for my likin' anyway."

Beau shook Doc Washburn's hand and said "Thanks, Doc. I'll be around soon."

Bret and Beau met in Bret's hotel room. They didn't intend to share their acquired knowledge with anyone that might overhear and spread the informtion like wildfire.

Bret told Beau everything that he'd learned at Edgar's house, including his observations about the door being kicked in and the photo being gone. They tended to agree that Bart wasn't strong enough to do that kind of damage to the heavy wooden door Edgar had; they were more concerned with who might have done the damage. The photo had them both stumped.

"I'm telling you, Beau, there's no way that Bart would have been thinking straight enough to take that picture if he was crazy enough to kick in Pike's door. We're missing something here and I don't know what it is. Who hated Edgar enough to kill him? And kill him like that?"

"I don't know," Beau replied. "Here's the problem –" and Beau explained everything to Bret just the way Doc Washburn told him. Bret was hurt and disappointed that Bart had chosen not to share his ongoing pain with them but understood his brother's rationale. This life in Silver Creek was different than anything they'd ever experienced and there was no sense burdening the people you cared most about with things they couldn't change. Unfortunately, the news of Bart's blackouts brought another issue to light – could Bart have gone out to kill Pike?

The cousins sat for several minutes in silence, each with his own thoughts. Neither wanted to believe for a moment that Bart was capable of such an act of violence, and yet . . . . yet each had doubts. And neither wanted to admit to those doubts. Finally Bret broke the silence.

"This is crazy. I don't care what was happening to him – Bart couldn't have done this. We both know that. So let's find out who did and get this nightmare over."

"Good idea. You go back and talk to Bart. Tell him what Doc Washburn told me. Let him explain it. I'm going down to the saloon to see what I can find out down there. And to let Georgia know what's going on – or at least part of it. I'll not divulge what the good doctor told me. The less people who know about that, the better."

They parted company, Bret headed up to the jail and Beau headed down to the saloon, each determined to find something to clear Bart. Anything to clear Bart.

Rusty, Pete and Jack sat in 'The Three Mavericks' and two of the three felt quite pleased with themselves. True, they hadn't gotten any additional money out of Edgar. But he was gone and could no longer threaten to turn them over to the sheriff. They were in the clear for the murder, having successfully framed an innocent man. And the only man that could identify them was the one locked in a jail cell. So they were feeling pretty good about their chances of getting away with it all. So good that they sat in the Mavericks' very own saloon and drank. They saw Beau walk in and head for the manager's office. He became to topic of conversation.

"I'm tellin' ya, Rusty, we picked the wrong Maverick to try and kill. We shoulda picked that one. I bet ya he woulda stayed dead." Pete was feeling no pain as he prodded Rusty into admitting their failure at killing Bart.

"Yeah, you're probably right. He don't look near as tough as the other one. Ain't never seen no man take a beatin' like that and live. Think I'm losin' my touch, boys?" This was Rusty's response to Pete's remarks.

Jack Sanborn didn't have much to say. This whole thing had bothered him from the beginning. They'd pulled plenty of jobs before, but never one this vicious. And for what? A lousy two hundred dollars. They'd darn near beat a man to death, and now Rusty had killed another and framed the first man. And now they sat in another saloon plotting their next job. What kind of a life was this? Wondering if they'd picked the wrong man to kill?

"What's a matter, Jack?" asked his brother Pete. "Bet you think we picked the wrong Maverick too, don't ya? Ya wanna go after the pretty boy that just walked in? Maybe we'd have better luck?" Pete started laughing, a drunken laugh, and Jack couldn't take it anymore. He got up from the table and walked out of the saloon, out into the crisp night air. There had to be something better than this. He didn't know what or how, but he had to find a way out of this life.

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