Longarm 243: Longarm and the Debt of Honor

Table of Contents
 
 
“DON'T MOVE, YOU SON OF A BITCH,” HE WARNED”.
He hoped to hell the sound of his growl was menacing enough to freeze whoever was waiting in ambush.
Because the plain truth was that, taken unaware and thinking about the bed rather than any possible danger, he'd let his night vision be lost to the flare of the match.
At least for the next few treacherously long heartbeats, Longarm was bat-blind and defenseless.
He just hoped to hell he was the only one who realized it.
Off in the direction of Norm's parlor he heard the scrape of a shoe sole on wood. Longarm's heart jumped into his throat, and he blinked furiously in a useless attempt to force his eyes to readjust to the darkness.
“Try anything an' I'll shoot,” he snarled.
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THE GUNSMITH by J. R. Roberts
Clint Adams was a legend among lawmen, outlaws, and ladies. They called him ... the Gunsmith.
 
LONGARM by Tabor Evans
The popular long-running series about U.S. Deputy Marshal Long—his life, his loves, his fight for justice.
 
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Today's longest-running action Western. John Slocum rides a deadly trail of hot blood and cold steel.
 
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An action-packed series by the creators of Longarm! The rousing adventures of the most brutal gang of cutthroats ever assembled—Quantrill's Raiders.
LONGARM AND THE KANSAS JAILBIRD
 
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Jove edition / March 1999
 
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Chapter 1
Longarm was tired. Bone weary. He had been on the road, what, three weeks? A little more? Something like that. And he'd been rushing from hither to yon—wherever the hell Hither and Yon were—the whole damn time.
Still, it was worth it. The Baines boys were securely ensconced behind bars down at the Denver city jail waiting arraignment before a federal magistrate, and the postal officials in northeastern Wyoming were happy as hell to know that the mail had a pretty good chance of getting from one place to another again without the Brothers Baines first browsing through it all to see if there was anything they wanted for themselves.
So, yeah, the effort had been worthwhile. But now Longarm was worn down and ready for some rest. Which he intended to get starting right about... right about now, he thought.
After all, the United States marshal for the Denver district was gone for the day, busy doing the bullshit political stuff that seemed to be the bane of every administrative employee of the United States. Politics and paperwork. Between them it was a wonder they didn't drive Billy Vail crazy. For sure Longarm couldn't have put up with it. Good thing he didn't have to.
A little paperwork—as little as possible, actually—and that was more than enough for him.
And right now, dammit, his report on the Baines chase was done, signed, and in two shakes would be delivered. After that, he intended to disappear for the rest of the day. Maybe longer.
He stood, a sharp pain in his lower back from bending over the writing desk and a cramp in his fingers from holding a pen too long, and pushed the six pages of his report into a more or less tidy pile that he carried over to Billy Vail's clerk Henry. Longarm tossed the report onto Henry's desk and announced, “I'm gonna go get myself a haircut, Henry. Then a drink. And then I'm gonna crawl into a nice soft bed an' stay there for a couple, three days or so.”
“After which,” Henry said dryly, “you may find time to get some sleep, right?”
“This may amaze you, old son,” Longarm told him, “but right now I' m so damn tired I intend to sleep first. The ladies will just hafta wait an' suffer along without me.” He winked. “For a little while anyhow.”
Henry gave Longarm a look of open disbelief, but did not bother to comment. “Drop by tomorrow if you can find the time,” Henry said. “The boss may have something for you.”
“If you get the chance, pard, try an' talk him out of it. I need some serious rest.”
“I'll mention it,” Henry promised. “Not that I see anything for you to worry about. We aren't all that busy at the moment. In fact, I don't know of anything on the schedule that you would have to be involved in until the Baines arraignments. That hearing will be next Monday or Tuesday.”
“I might stagger in again by that time. If I sleep real fast,” Longarm said with a grin.
Henry smiled and told him good-bye, and Longarm headed for the street, grabbing his flat-crowned Stetson hat off the coat rack on his way out.
He paused at the top of the granite steps leading up to the handsomely massive front doors of Denver's Federal Building, cupping a match in his palm and lighting one of the slim, dark cheroots that he favored.
Marshal Billy Vail's best deputy was a tall man, standing in excess of six feet, with wide shoulders and a narrow waist. He had the born horseman's powerful legs and a carriage that conveyed self-assurance but that stopped short of being cocky. Custis Long had no need for displays of bravado, false or otherwise. He knew how good he was and was comfortable with the knowledge.
The one thing that he failed to fully appreciate about himself was why women so often found him of interest. Not that he minded it. Not hardly. But he did not really understand it. When he looked in the mirror to shave each morning, all he saw was an ordinary male countenance, a little too wrinkled and craggy if anything. He had brown hair, brown eyes, and a huge sweep of brown mustache that like his hair was overdue for some trimming.
At the moment he was wearing a tweed coat and calfskin vest, with a slim gold chain connecting the two watch pockets, one of which held the expected pocket watch, but with the other end of the chain attached to a .44-caliber derringer. He had on dark brown corduroy trousers tucked into a pair of tall, stovepipe cavalry boots, and a gunbelt snug at his waist with the butt of a double-action Colt revolver slanted for a cross draw and worn just to the left of his belt buckle.
All in all a rather ordinary appearance in Longarm's opinion, although a fair percentage of the female population tended to take exception to that modest viewpoint.
He drew deep of the pale, refreshing smoke from his cheroot, and exhaled slowly, then ambled down the stairs and turned west on Colfax Avenue toward Lloyd's Tonsorial Emporium, where he sometimes enjoyed stopping in for a haircut and shave. Lloyd charged more than most barbers, but he had a magician's deft touch with a razor, a litany of jokes that would keep a man in fresh material for a month of conversations with friends, and the best-smelling bay rum to be found anywhere in Denver. Maybe anywhere in Colorado, come to think of it. Anyway, this morning Longarm felt like treating himself to Lloyd's and the hell with saving a nickel.
Longarm enjoyed the stroll to the barbershop, feeling relaxed and unhurried now that he was out of the office and free for the rest of the day.
It was just short of noon when he reached Lloyd's. It was no particular surprise for him to see that there were five other customers waiting in line ahead of him. Obviously there were plenty of others who appreciated exceptional service and good company.
And anyway, Longarm was in no hurry for a change. He nodded to Lloyd and received a smile in return, then settled into one of the chairs to begin his wait. He crossed his legs, made sure there was an ashtray within easy reach, and bent forward to pick up the latest edition of the
Rocky Mountain News.
Even if it weren't the latest edition, Longarm wouldn't have cared, having been away from the city for the past several weeks.
He opened the newspaper in his lap, yawned without bothering to try to stifle the impulse, and began to read.
Less than a minute later Longarm was on his feet, sudden alarm creasing his forehead and bringing a frown to his lips.
He whirled and dashed out of the barbershop, the rumpled newspaper still in his hand. Once on the sidewalk he broke into a run, loping back the same way he had just come. His haircut, and his fatigue, were quite forgotten.
Chapter 2
“You're going
where?”
an incredulous Henry yelped.
“Kansas, dammit. I already told you that.”
“But ...”
“Crow's Point, Kansas, if it matters.”
“And just what is it I'm supposed to tell the marshal when he asks where you've flown off to and why you up and went there, Custis?”
“Tell him... shit, I dunno ... tell him I'm gone to see an ailing sister.”
“Custis, you don't have a sister. Not in Kansas or any other place. I know that. So does Marshal Vail.”
“So tell him anyway. Damn, Henry, I don't care. Tell him anything you like.”
“How about if I tell him the truth.”
“If you want to, go ahead.”
“It would help if I knew what the truth was in this case, Custis,” Henry said, belaboring the obvious.
Longarm sighed and rubbed nervously at the back of his neck. He hesitated. But only for a moment. Hell, if he couldn't trust Henry... and for that matter Billy Vail too... then he was in a lot of trouble. “Look, it's... you might say that I'm takin' personal time off. You know?”
“Tell me,” Henry prompted.
“It's this newspaper article that put a bee up my ass.” He waved the crumpled paper at Henry as if the man could tell from that what the problem was. “You ever hear of a man named Norman Wold, Henry?”

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