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Old Nick’s Garley 4

Small town kidnapping with British detective

Photo by alireza irajinia on Unsplash

I missed Old Nick that winter. In the spring he came to tell me the village was populated again.

Miss Poke Bonnet swung by to tell me Miss D had grown strong running wild. “Want to meet her?”


“She snuck around with her friends. She knows what you look like.”

“Ha! When?” Before she answered, I knew. “When Old Nick came. Mind she doesn’t get bit by a rattler now that it’s warmer.”

Whenever Nick visited, I knew Miss D was watching me. I didn’t tell my sons or the other men. Seemed the kid could skirt their guard well enough.


“Dust, pa.” Carlisle rode in.

Without Nick’s warning, we only had two days for visitor preparation.

The dust on the horizon was a pretty big cloud. Maybe the government man was making good on his promise of cattle. Wuai’nahk and his people would know and keep their heads down while the man was at my place.

I sat with my rifle across my knees on the porch. Rick and George were picking scorpions off the tie-up out front. We’d watched the riders getting bigger all day.

In a swirl of dust and dog tails they ranged up close to the bottom step. One dismounted.

“Where’s my wife?” slung the mounted man. Tassels and sparkles lit up his shirt and his hat was jammed too far over his face.

George spat the dirt beside him with a bullet and a rattler died.

“You better answer me straight. You got my wife here. You’re gonna give her back and no argument.”

No one moved.

The man standing by his horse took out his waterbag and tipped three drops on his tongue and spat them in the dust.

I nodded and Coolie brought out the can. The man gulped the contents.

“Mr. PWG Garley, my name is …”

I blinked. The sounds out of the man’s mouth belied his hat riding proper on his brow and his right-fitting chaps.

“I asked him.” The mounted man jerked the bit on his foam flecked horse. “Answer up, man. Where is my wife?”

“My name is John Lindsay. May I introduce Franklin ….”

“Would you get on with the answer? How come she’s not coming out?”

“Franklin F. Warbleyham.”

The Warbley guy spun his horse in a circle. “I don’t see her. Don’t tell me we rode out to this hell hole and she ain’t here. You hiding her? You killed her? I’ll get you up on a charge of murder. I’ll …”

“Please, Mr. Warbleyham,” Lindsay cut him off. “Let’s take care of the horses or we won’t be riding home.”

Warbley rode a pretty, townbred animal ruined by a desert ride. I didn’t have any fancy feed for it but Buck would do his best.

Warbley grunted, glanced at the dead rattler, and slithered down to the ground. His legs did a little dance at the knees. Lindsay went around back with Buck and the horses.

Warbley tottered up the steps. Rick brought a chair and the can of water which the man refused until Coolie filled the waterbag for him.

After supper, the grey-haired, mustachioed cowboy opened up, still speaking in a weird accent. “Thank you for receiving us, Mr. Garley. Mr. Warbleyham retained me to investigate a kidnapping. This man’s wife was last seen on your road with a young girl.”

The Warbley guy waved his finger at me. “You’re the one. You took her and you’re giving her back, see?”

Lindsay continued. “Mr. Garley, can you give us any information about Mrs. Warbleyham?”

Sometime soon, I was going to go out and laugh ‘till I’d watered the back 40 acres. Right now, I had to make sure Poke Bonnet got out safe from this wimpy Warbley spider. “I ain’t acquainted with the ‘she’.”

“You’re lying. She came out here with some kid that belonged to you. Dirty tricks!”

“Do you see any females?” I asked.

“What’cha do with them? Where’re you hiding them. I’ve got a court order on you buddy.”

Lindsay spoke up. “They were accompanied by a Jake Obeseedum. Can you give us any information about him?”

The way cleared before me. “I can take you to a place.


Long before the sun, Lindsay, Warbley, Buck and I visited the burned wagon. All signs of Miss D’s escort had been washed and bleached and hung out on the desert wind.

“Found this sometime last summer.” I told them.

Warbley climbed into the wagon remains and tore through the bed. It wobbled on its axles and he skittered out.

“Do you recognise the wagon, Mr. Warbleyham?” Lindsay took out a notebook.

“No. Why should I? I don’t see anything to do with her. Why did you bring us here?”

“Mr. Warbleyham,” Lindsay hesitated. “I believe we …”

“What? What’s this wagon got to do with my wife? This criminal has yet to give us anything or even hint at where she is.”

“Mr. Warbleyham. Frank …” Lindsay looked at me.

“She’s out in the desert,” I told him plain. “Out with the little girl and Jake.” I took off my hat and covered my heart.

“Wha …? Wha …?” Warbley seemed to be asking what I was talking about.

“An untimely and tragic demise.” Lindsay covered his heart with his hat.

Buck wiped a tear from his eye.

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Nicola MacCameron

Nicola MacCameron

Are you creative? Everything I touch turns to art. Visual art, written, aural, tactile, you name it, I love it! Author of Leoshine, Princess Oracle.