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No one knows better than the great showman William Cody what a burden fame can be, especially when he has to move quickly to narrowly dodge an assassin's bullet. Organizing a hunting party for himself and some would-be investors, Buffalo Bill knows he needs some professional protection, and the name Teddy Blue comes immediately to mind. The young Pinkerton agent with razor-edge instincts and dead-on aim once got Cody's pal Bill Hickok out of a lethal ...
No one knows better than the great showman William Cody what a burden fame can be, especially when he has to move quickly to narrowly dodge an assassin's bullet. Organizing a hunting party for himself and some would-be investors, Buffalo Bill knows he needs some professional protection, and the name Teddy Blue comes immediately to mind. The young Pinkerton agent with razor-edge instincts and dead-on aim once got Cody's pal Bill Hickok out of a lethal jam. But Teddy's got a personal obligation to see to first, namely the rescue of an old friend from the hangman's noose in New Mexico. And once he joins Cody and his entourage in the wild, Teddy's immediately caught in a deadly tangle that may be too much for one hired guardian -- trapped by the cruelty of unpredictable nature…and in the gunsights of hunters determined to get one last trophy.
The door ringer sounded like loose change in a cowboy's pocket and when Teddy Blue opened the front door of his mother's house, George Bangs stood there under a rain-spotted bowler.
"Come in before you drown," Teddy said and George stepped into the foyer and shucked off his overcoat and hung it on the hall tree and did the same with his hat.
"I guess you didn't come just to drink a whiskey with me," Teddy said, remembering how the detective was a teetotaler.
"No, sir, I didn't. I've some news for you on your brother's death, and this ... " George handed him a letter. It was postmarked: Las Vegas, N. M. territory.
"What about my brother?" Teddy said, leading Bangs into the large living room, where flames licked away at several chunks of oak in the fireplace.
George went and stood before the fire and warmed his hands.
"As I told you before, we've located the man who killed your brother. In fact, he confessed to the killing," George said.
Teddy was pouring himself two fingers of bourbon into a crystal tumbler. His father had good tastes in liquor, his mother in glassware.
"Go on with it, George ..."
Teddy felt the liquor burn in a pleasant way before it caught fire in his chest, then settled down to a nice warmth.
"The man's name is Carnahan, Ludlow Carnahan."
"He in jail now?"
"No, Teddy. He's dead now."
"What am I missing here, George?"
"The man gave a deathbed confession."
"How'd you learn of it?" Teddy poured two more fingers of bourbon.
"Allan still has his sources inside the police department."
"Pretty convenient, don't you think?"
"What is, Teddy?"
"That the man they're blaming Horace's murder on is himself now dead. Who was this man, exactly? What more do you know about him?"
"I'm still looking into," Bangs said. "But as I promised you before, we'll put all of our resources behind it. You're one of us, Teddy."
"I'm not a Pinkerton, George. Hell, you know I didn't do a good job with that Hickok situation."
"You did fine with it. You saved his life twice. It was his decision to go it alone up into that country and get himself killed. We can't save people from themselves."
"I need to find out more about this Carnahan,"
Teddy said, swallowing the last of the bourbon. "I need to know why this man shot Horace and who he was. I need to know everything about him so my brother can rest in peace. He stole a lot from my family, George."
"I know he did. We'll have all the answers soon enough, trust me."
Teddy watched the cold rain sliding down the windows and reflected on just how he'd come to this point in his still young life. Three years earlier he'd been a student in law school, if not a very enthusiastic one. He'd had a family -- a brother and father, as well as a mother. But now his brother was dead from assassination, and his father was dead as well -- from grief. His family had been shattered by this Carnahan that George had just spoken of. An unknown assassin with unknown reasons.
George Bangs, right-hand assistant to Allan Pinkerton, a soft-spoken but persuasive man, had recruited Teddy into becoming an operative in return for a promise to apply every last resource of the Pinkertons to find Horace's killer. His first assignment had been to protect Wild Bill Hickok. And just like that he'd gone from a rather naïve law student to guarding the West's most famed shootist. It seemed too impossible to be considered mere fate, but what else could he call it? He wondered, standing there looking at the rain, how much more his life would yet change, knew that if George had any say in the matter, it might change mightily and in ways he never counted on.
"They say that work is the best thing a man can do to keep his mind off his troubles," George Bangs said.
"I don't know, George. Everything seems so unfinished, as far as Horace's death is concerned."
"We could use a man down in Missouri," George said. "Governor wants us to send some operatives down there to help him catch this bank robber and his gang -- Jesse James. They are raising quite a bit of hell down there."
"Bank robber? That's unique," Teddy said.
"It's a wonder nobody's thought of it before," the detective said. "But this fellow has practically turned bank robbing into a specialty. His gang has been robbing banks all over Missouri and some of the surrounding states as well. You interested?"
It was then that Teddy remembered the telegram Bangs had given him, the one from his old friend, John Sears. He'd slipped it in his pocket when the detective mentioned the situation with his brother's killer. He took it out now and turned so that the muted light from the window would fall upon the page.
To the attention of Teddy Blue, Pinkertons, Chicago ... Well, old son, I'm up against it hard now. Am here in the calaboose in this hellforsaken place waiting to go on trial and sure to a hanging if they find me guilty. I got word through the grapevine you'd hired on with the Pinkertons and I figured was there any way to reach you itd be through them. I'm hoping I'm right and I ain't dead by time this reaches you, if it ever does. It's a lot of story to go into and my pencil is about wore down to the nub. Best save it all for when you get out here, if you get out here. You're about the only friend I got that's still yet alive that I know of ...Law for Hire: Defending Cody. Copyright © by Bill Brooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted September 27, 2013