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Al Goes Missing Again

When the last thing you see of a guy is a hand and a boot sticking out of a raging stream, it's kind of exciting. OK, OK, Al Miller only went missing down that Pecos stream for a few minutes. Dragged himself out after going around a bend or two. However, it made a tale to end all Al tales. Or so we had thought.

Sunday, Nov. 1, 1992, at the social hour after church, talk revolved once again around Al. He'd gone missing once more, but in a puzzling, complicated way.

According to his wife, Mary, a few days ago he'd said adios. He and his young son, he said, were going to Canada. A few days later someone at Rip Griffin's truck stop had seen Al and his kid asleep in their pickup. Next an Edgewood woman said she'd come home to find Al passed out drunk on her couch.

Nov. 5, less than a week after Dudley arrived at Rattlesnake Acres, I asked the Livestock Board for hauling papers for him and our two foals. Lo and behold, not one but two agents showed up. Normally only one will come out for this routine task. I recognized Ginger Brigg, a young, pretty blonde. She was the officer who had come out to inspect Coquetta when I'd asked for hauling papers for her.
Instead of getting right down to inspecting my horses and paperwork, Ginger and her companion invited themselves inside. We sat at our kitchen table.

Ginger said they were the gunslingers that had raided the McCoy place. I thanked her and showed them the contract Marcie and I had signed for boarding Dudley. Then I pulled out Lightfoot's receipt.
The man stared at the signature. "You know Al Miller?"

"Yes." I was thinking he must have heard a story or two about Al. "Whatever people may say about Al Miller, he sure knows a good horse when he sees one."

"Yeah. He sure knows a good horse when it comes time to steal one."

"Is Lightfoot stolen?"

"No. That one's OK." He reached inside his jacket. "I got a warrant for Miller's arrest here. Do you have any idea where I can find him?"

"Sunday his wife told me he'd gone to Canada with his son."

"Some of his employer's horses have gone missing. We think Al sold them."

Next Sunday at church I sidled up to Mary and whispered, "Did you know there's a warrant out for Al's arrest?"

Mary wasn't having any of this whispering business. She spoke right up. "Yes. It's the third time since we got married."

"Third time?"

"The first two times I believed Al. He told me it was a mistake. He said the county sheriff likes to pick on him. But three times?" Mary rolled her eyes. "That does it! I'm getting a divorce."

Our pastor was staring at us. He had always insisted that a woman has no right to divorce. Nada. Zilch. I evaded the pastor's eyes and clasped Mary's shoulder. "Good. You deserve a better life."

A better life. Something nagged at the back of my mind.

As it turned out, Al never made it to Canada. Torrance County Sheriff's Officer Ron Grist later told me he spent some time puzzling over Al and his escapades. He dug around until he knew Al's associations and habits almost better than Al himself. Grist finally found Al holed up in Las Vegas. He arrested him and transported him to the jail in Lincoln County. Billy the Kid country. Al plea-bargained down the charges. He got probation in exchange for making restitution to his victim, and left the state.

A little bit of Estancia Valley color and chaos had vanished.

# # #

Next chapter: Dudley's New Life --->

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© 2004 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.