Slade’s childhood home was just as he remembered it. Small and cozy, not entirely sturdy. The floorboards creaked as he and Miss Bonnie followed Tobias inside and took seats around a table.
Tobias rummaged around in a drawer for awhile, then pulled out a dusty scrapbook and set it in front of Slade.
Miss Bonnie looked over Slade’s shoulder as he turned the pages. They were filled with yellow, weathered newspaper articles.
“Marshal Slade Foils Stage Coach Heist”
“Scooter Givens Brought to Justice Thanks to Marshal Slade.”
“Governor Credits Marshal Slade in Ending Bank Robbery Spree”
It went on and on.
“Kinda starts to add up when you see it all together,” Slade said.
“You’ve been through some shit,” Miss Bonnie noted.
Tobias looked over Slade’s other shoulder and rattled off the cities mentioned in the articles. “Denver, Carson City, Omaha, Dodge City, boy howdy, the Marshal’s Service sent you everywhere!”
“Why’d they send you to Highwater?” Miss Bonnie asked. “Were they punishing you for something?”
“I asked for the post,” Slade said. “Thought it’d be quiet.”
Slade flipped through the pages. “Who made this?”
“Pa,” Tobias said.
“Don’t recall him being much of a reader,” Slade said.
“No he doesn’t know his letters,” Tobias said. “But my Ma used to read the paper to him and then when the fever got her I started reading it to him.”
Slade grunted. “Hmm.”
Tobias grunted back, but his was more in the form of a question. “Hmm?”
“Did you write letters to me for him?” Slade asked.
“I sure did,” Tobias said. “Every time there was an article about you in the paper, he was so proud he’d tell me what he wanted to say and I’d write it down and clean it up and send it to the Marshal’s office in the city you were in.”
Slade grunted again. “Hmm. I knew he must have had some help. Those letters seemed way too…”
“Poetic?” Tobias asked. “Flowery?”
“I was going to say intelligent.”
“Hmm,” Tobias grunted.
These grunts were not lost on Miss Bonnie. She reached over and grabbed Tobias’ fancy Mayor hat.
“Can I just…” She slid it off to reveal that like Slade, Tobias had a thick mane of brown hair.
“Oh my God,” Miss Bonnie said as she yanked Slade’s hat off to reveal his hair. “It’s like I’m seeing double.”
Slade and Tobias eyeballed each other and grunted in unison, “Hmm.”
“The old man never mentioned you in those letters,” Slade said.
“No,” Tobias replied. “I asked him to but he was worried you’d be sore if you found out he remarried. He…”
Slade closed the scrapbook.
“He told me about what happened,” Tobias said. “What he did. Hell, he never let on but I heard him up late crying about it most nights.”
“Where is he?” Slade asked.
Tobias said as he sprang out of his chair. “Come on! You got to see him.”
Slade looked at Miss Bonnie. “Go on,” she said. “Get reacquainted first then I’ll say hello.”
Tobias led the way upstairs. The rickety stairs creaked all the way.
They reached a door and Tobias put his hand on the knob.
“Wait,” he said. “There’s something I ought to tell you first.”