Dylan blew off the dust from the cabinet. It seemed the book of records was nothing more than an antique; it had hardly been touched by what seemed years. Dawes. The name sounded so familiar and yet he couldn’t pinpoint it. His memory of life before getting sent away to London was very opaque, and yet this name had a very peculiar ring to it. Grabbing a bunch of papers and a few book of records, it was like Dylan was back in school. Every turn of the pages only added a greater whirlwind of dust into the room. The room hardly was adequate for living purposes, which was why Dylan chose to live at his father’s house.
Looking through the provided evidence he found, he landed upon the last name with good luck on his side. Robert Dawes. That’s it! Mayor from 1850-1880…his term ended by the result of his death. Death was a result of unknown causes. So he was the old mayor, the one before his own father. It seemed the name just kept getting more and more familiar. Why though? Yes, this was no doubt the father of this ‘estranged’ criminal everyone was talking about, but there was something more than this. Death by unknown causes? That hardly ever happened anymore and it did not seem like this man was killed by old age.
These answers just kept giving him more questions. Were there any pictures of this man? Dylan kept digging, moving the book to the side before thrashing the papers around before coming upon some pictures. It wasn’t the perfect quality he was expecting, but the table of men did give him a flashback. His mother, his mother spent a lot of time with this man. Dylan remembered it, how often he would make her laugh, how father would get jealous. Dawes.
Dawes. Robert Dawes.
Dylan went back to the book, going to Moore, his mother’s maiden name. Looking upon there, it said death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds, found at Dawes Manor by her husband. Now it was starting to make sense. He could fit some pieces together but some of it was not making sense. They enjoyed each other’s company, so why would he kill her? Why is his daughter threatening the town?
It seemed books and scribbles couldn’t give him any more answers, so he knew he had to do it on foot.
Marshall Dylan Jones walked out of the Sheriff's office into the dirt that was blowing around, worse than inside the room. His put a big black cowboy hat on to protect his hair and covered his neck with a black bandana, protecting his skin. A few people gave him welcome, the women a fine hand gesture, and the men often did a little tip of the hat. It seemed a lot of people were both weary and happy he was here. Supposedly there had not been a Marshall or Sheriff for three weeks, seeing as nobody wanted to have the position. Sure, it seemed a lot of people wanted to help capture this criminal, but none of them were willing to let their hands get dirty. He looked up and saw Carter wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, the normal attire for men now. So strange how the attire differed from London, but then again, this was not a very rich and cultural place. People wore whatever they could find.
The one thing that did stand out about his outfit was the rather large shotgun he was holding in his hand. A lot of people walked around him with caution, seeing both the tight grip on the barrel and the scowl on his face.
“Carter,” Dylan cleared his throat, approaching him with caution, afraid frightening him might mean a bunch of scattered metal in his stomach.
“Marshall,” Carter was caught by his attention and stopped walking to look at the Dylan, the scowl slowly fading as soon as he realized he had one.
“Carter, you were there at the bank robbery, weren’t you?” Dylan whispered. There was something off about the blonde man’s behavior, both now and before when they had first met. There was a deeper anger than most people had for Miss Dawes, and certainly just as a banker’s apprentice there was something more than just a patriotic want for justice for him feeling this way.
There was a slight pause of hesitation, “Yes, I was.” It seemed he didn’t want this being revealed, but why?
“I got some evidence that you were one of the men chasing Ms. Dawes," he crossed his arms and felt his muscles tense up with anticipation. It was a guess, a speculation, but it seemed Carter knew more about that night than anyone else. Obviously he knew something, something that he wanted to keep a secret.
“I was sir,” he gulped. Dylan was relieved. It would have been a stupid question if he had been wrong. Carter probably would have questioned who gave him such evidence, but luckily there was no need to spill off random names.
“Okay, who else was with you?” The Marshall asked, hoping these questions wouldn’t seem like an interrogation. He didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, he simply wanted answers, answers that would help him.
“I-I don’t remember, maybe four guys...” Carter stumbled in his words, as if he was trying to recall a dream from the night before. It was just last night. Either he was trying to avoid answering, or in reality something terrible happened.
“Mhm, keep going.”
“One of them was my brother,” he said and gripped the gun. Dylan noticed his intensity and was weary. So that is what it was. His brother was among the ones killed, which gave him every reason to be angry, but it was not a good reason to carry a shotgun like that around town.
“Is that why you carry that around, hoping if you spot her, you’ll blast her head off?” The Marshall asked slowly with caution. The last thing he wanted to do was get him even angrier. Carter was already doing so well in telling him a few things, perhaps there was more he could say. Obviously he knew what she looked like, perhaps they could work something out.
“Maybe,” he grunted, knowing he was caught. So the truth spills. Well, hopefully Dylan could take that gun away before he hurts anyone. Dylan felt bad for anyone who looked like this Irene Dawes, they’d probably get decapitated within seconds.
“You were the only survivor huh?” He asked again. If there were more survivors, wouldn’t more people stand out and come talk to the new Marshall? Carter was the only one who said anything, even though Dylan was poking and prodding for information.
“Ye,” Carter didn’t look him in the eye.
“Have you ever seen Ms. Dawes? Carter?” Dylan was hoping he had.
“Maybe, what’s it to you?” He spat at the ground, moistening his mouth from the dry air.
“I’m curious as to what she looks like, and maybe we can set up some actual wanted signs up, just to give some of the townspeople some sort of warning she’s out there,” the Marshall shrugged. It seemed like the town had heard of her, but how are they supposed to report anything if they have nothing to look for? They needed a face, a face to blame and a face to catch. Dylan was going to need all the details he could get.
“I can’t draw well,” Carter said, frowning about it actually. It was a good idea, but how on earth would they get some good signs without a picture or even a good artist? Good thing Dylan knew of someone in town who would do just fine.
“That’s ok. I got an artist in the office. Just come with me and maybe we can see what she looks like,” Dylan carefully grabbed the shotgun, gripping the muzzle with caution but also a firm grip.
Carter pulled it out of his grip, “What’s in it for me then?”
“When we catch her, we’ll make sure you can be the first to talk to her,” he smiled, hoping that would be enough to get this all under control and situated. Dylan now felt even more nervous about the gun in his hands.
“I don’t want to chat with her, I want to kill her,” he said firmly, not wanting to give him something and not receiving anything in return. Carter believed he had every right to kill her, but Dylan on the other hand did not.
“That’s not the way justice is done mate,” Dylan almost grinned, hoping that Carter’s patriotic sense would kick in. Dylan would see this woman be properly trialed and hung, not shot in the head or left on the street to die. Nobody deserved it, no matter how cruel they were.
“Fine, but I ain’t giving you my shotgun,” Carter grunted again and headed to the office. Dylan kicked at dirt for a minute and sighed, looking down as the front of his boots were now covered in dirt. New boots, already ruined. Well, what did he expect, this was not London anymore. This place was dreary, not in the more natural sense, but the entertainment sense. Surely it would lighten up soon. It had to.
Irene grabbed her hat as she walked out the door. Her stylish waistcoat and very tight jeans matched her personality: masculine and fit. Just the way she liked it. Blending in was what she needed, and sometimes looking like a man could help with that. At first glance they’d think so, but at a deeper look they would see the curved jaw, the rosy cheeks, the curls of her hair, and well, probably her breasts. There wasn’t much she could do about those. She looked to her left and saw Blackie sleeping on the dirt, so she whistled and the wolf-look-alike dog (who actually might be a wolf, she wasn’t sure) rose up and wagged his thin tail as he walked towards her. His nickname was “circus dog” because he somehow understood Irene’s thought process. Whatever she told him to do, Blackie would do it. Maybe she was just plain crazy like everyone thought.
Irene was not the best at fitting in, personality wise.
“Shall we take a walk to town? I feel like taking a visit to the bar, maybe visit some old friends,” she smiled and walked towards the path that lead to town. Blackie just panted and waltzed ahead of her, occasionally looking back to see if his Master could handle the long walk. The dog ceased to amaze her, but it also had done some stupid things in the past, like run straight into Maroni. God, Irene was ready to kill that dog as soon as it returned. However, he returned with a piece of Maroni’s nice cotton pants and Irene certainly could not get mad about that.
Not many people stared at her as she walked in. To them, she was some normal “cowboy”. Besides, if anyone did see her, they thought she was one of those trash women who wanted to either hook a man up or kill him. Women scoffed at her with a few laughs, wondering how she could ever find the comfort of a man wearing that. Men seemed to only chuckle as well, curious as to why she would ever dress the part of a man. Most didn’t even recognize her, which was a major benefit of working in the night.
Blackie just panted behind her, ready to pounce on someone if necessary, he was always ready for such surprises. The market was up, fresh vegetables and fruit lined up, the crowd bustling for the latest deals from the freshest products in the East. New fashions always came in, and the richer women in the area seemed to jump on those faster than a handsome bachelor. She hid her face from the horizon and looked down to say hello at the dirt. She heard the occasional chatter about a bank robbery and it made her smile. It was good to be proud of one’s work.
But bragging about it was just a wrong thing to do.
She passed by all the annoying folks and headed to the bar, one of her favorite places to hear the daily gossip, get some inside information and maybe just enjoy being out in public. It wasn’t every day she stepped outside her home. She walked down a narrow alley and turned left, to get behind the bar. It was behind the normal saloon, what people would call underground bars, and literally. Most if not all people didn’t know they existed. Only the people who knew it was there, knew where it was. There was a basement opening in the ground, in which she jumped in and was full of good welcomes.
It was silent, the smokers stopped smoking, drinkers stopped drinking, and chatters stopped chatting.
“Mornin’ gents,” she waved, a wide smile on her lips as she walked by.
A couple of gentlemen left the underground bar, hoping to not get in trouble. A lot of them tended to do that. She ignored them and walked to the bar. This was the outlaw bar, a place where the same kind of bad people decided to chill, only she liked to be alone most of the time. A lot of people wouldn’t dare talk to her anyways, not without getting a warning glare and then a warning shot.
“Ms. Dawes, what can I get for you?” the bartender asked, wiping down the wet counter. He was never a cheerful sorts. Well, who would be when running an illegal bar full of illegal people?
“I’d ask for tea,” she frowned, “but you never seem to have my liking.” When would this place finally establish some tea, or a sarsaparilla for crying out loud? Alcohol certainly was not the most pleasant drink, but it was the one that made this man money.
He ignored her and kept wiping the beer off the counter, not even glancing up at her.
“I’ll just have water,” she grunted. He grabbed an iced glass and poured a few ounces of water from a pitcher, still avoiding her gaze as she left a coin on the bar. Well, so much for hospitality. This was some good quality service!
“Thank you,” she bowed and went to the corner of the building. She sat in her favorite chair, stuck her feet on the table, and enjoyed the smell of smoke and criminals. Hopefully nothing too terrible would happen. This day started out perfectly fine, despite last night’s argument, and she wanted it to end the same way. Perfectly fine.
“That’s her, this picture looks almost identical,” Carter said. The Marshall got out of his chair to look at the picture, his lower body sore from the constant sitting. Half the day already wasted on a picture. Carter stared at it, his face getting tighter every second, as if he was staring into a void of demons. Surely she couldn’t be that bad?
“Now,” Dylan grabbed the paper, “let’s not have you rip it before I get to see it.”
He was shocked at her face. It was thin, her nose was cute, her eyes... almost innocent looking. Everything about her was extremely perfect. Every detail, freckle, glare of the eyes, and this was just a picture! The artist had drawn the hat she always wore, an almost bowler hat with feathers coming out. Her curly hair made him jump in excitement, his soul getting lost in eyes set by ink. He had never seen such a gorgeous woman before, not even in London. Internally Dylan started feeling warm, his heart rate spiking and his fingers shaking with the papers grasp.
“This... beautiful woman... is a feared criminal?” Dylan sounded almost aghast, shocked that this gorgeous person could bring so much fear to a town. She could certainly put her looks to better use than this.
“That’s what we all thought. ‘Till one by one, all the men started disappearing, and later showing up on our doorstep dead or without memory. It wasn’t right. The funny thing was, they only disappeared when they said they ‘got a date with her. Strange, don’t you think?” he asked.
“Not really,” Dylan sighed, scratching the stubble on his cheek. It wasn’t strange at all. She was extracting information from these men. So she did put those looks to good use, just not in the way he had hoped. Not only was she deadly, but she obviously charmed a lot of men. Dylan certainly had to prepare for something like this. Male criminals: no problem. A good looking female with an intention for sex: a very very bad problem.
“I think she never was loved, and probably never will be, she’s just a criminal looking for attention,” Carter said and walked out, knowing there was nothing further to say. Besides, he had some work to do.
Dylan stared at the picture for a long time, finally realizing that this girl looked afraid, and more innocent than the simplest murderer. She was not looking for attention, at least, the kind of attention she was receiving. She looked like she needed help but she was just asking it the wrong way.
Her eyes opened as she heard a blood-churning scream. It was a woman’s scream, and most screams were like that in this town. Miss Dawes was not the only one who did what she wanted and broke the law. Irene jumped out of her seat, as many of the folk stared and sat lazily in their chairs. This didn’t seem like something to take lightly. Blackie jumped with her, following her as she jumped out into the bright sunlight and looked in the alleyway. A man was on top a young woman and not in the safest way.
The man grabbed a knife from his pants, instantly cutting the deerskin dress. An Indian. She was an Indian. Any other man would have walked right by, maybe even watch with excitement as this man would take advantage of a woman. Irene wouldn’t have one bit of it. This woman was completely terrified for her life for the moment, but she was putting up a fight, clawing her way to get out of his grasp.
“Hey!” Irene yelled. The man looked up, his face was full of hate, but yet full of love for this woman, which in reality was probably a deep lust. She immediately kicked him where it hurt, but he only gripped her by her red hair, a scream leaving her lips. Irene immediately withdrew her revolver, pointing it straight at the man.
“I’m just havin’ some fun Ms. Dawes. Mind your own business!” he said. So he knew who she was, and yet he was still stupid enough to stand there and continue his busywork. Irene was more pissed off than anything. What a disgrace this man was.
“Help! Please!” the young girl squealed. Irene put her gun away and ran towards the guy, knowing that shooting him would only make the situation worse for the girl. He started to run for it, realizing this was no longer a game. Rape was a crime, and Irene was going to make sure he would pay for it. While running at top speed, Irene had spilled into a man as she turned the corner, and he was no skinny man. They both hit the ground with a thud before she rolled, getting herself back onto her feet. Her hat fell from her head, resting on the ground along with a black cowboy hat.
“Sorry!” she yelled as she was still chasing the man. Irene knew that man was probably hurting. She wasn’t the strongest person, but running at full speed into a person simply walking probably was harmful. The man she chased occasionally looked back at her and ran faster every time, knowing she was catching his tail. He turned left at the corner by the market, he was trying to get lost in the crowd, and this crowd was big.
Irene groaned and jumped up on the building that connected the market, making sure the ground she was running on was steady. Sure, it would attract a lot of people but she didn’t care. She could see him clearly now, and had a good advantage against him. She caught his pace and ran faster. She saw Blackie close behind him, catching his tail. By the end of sprinting past, she jumped down and landed directly on him. He was shaking in fear as she dragged her out of the way. Many people gasped and ran out of the way, opening a path as she pushed him down an alley. Nobody would bother her now. Once she had pulled him into a safe zone behind the bakery, she threw him against the brick wall harshly, hearing his bones break with just one thrust. Serves him right.
“What do you think you were doing?!” she yelled in his face, letting him learn his lesson. If he certainly didn’t learn from this new Marshall once she dropped him off at his office, then surely he’d get a good ass-whooping from her.
“I was just-”
“Just what? Trying to kill an innocent girl?” she spat, disgusted with him entirely, her grip on his shoulders getting tighter and tighter.
“Oh like you don’t kill innocent lives?” he laughed, like that was so funny. She gripped his neck hard with her hand and squeezed, making sure he would learn from this.
“I’m giving you a chance to live. You are going to hang for this though, no doubt if the new Marshall was smart. Might want to start working on better complaints,” she spat at him and pushed his head against the wall. He was out cold immediately and she sighed, wiping the sweat from her forehead. It was a very humid day, and all this running around seemed to tire her for now. She dragged him across the dirt out of sight until she dumped him on the Marshall’s doorstep, easily escaping into the crowd as if nothing had ever happened.
The Marshall picked up his hat as he was so shocked that he heard such a scream and ran over here, only to be knocked over by some woman. It was literally like getting run over by a horse, and he only got a faint glimpse of dark hair before the figure escaped. The only thing that was left was a small bowler hat with two feathers, which was nothing like the fashion here.
Had he just run into Ms. Dawes?
Hearing the sobs of a young woman, he made his way towards her cautiously, showing her his badge. She nodded and had a look of relief on her face, not looking as bad as Dylan had wondered. The woman had just a few cuts from the man’s knife, seeing as it pierced both her fabric and fair skin.
“Are you alright?” he asked, covering her partially bare skin with the leftovers of her dress.
“Yes, please, I think a trip to the infirmary will be all I need,” she sighed. He nodded and grabbed her legs with one hand and the other to stabilize herself as he carried her. She obviously couldn’t walk, both from the pain and the shock. Dylan had no problem with being the hero and carrying her across the town back to his office.
“Who did this to you?” he asked curiously, looking at her as she continuously looked at him. He was the dreamiest man she had ever seen. Well, he was too old for her and Indians weren’t really his type. The Marshall really didn’t have a type.
“I don’t know, but knowing Ms. Dawes she caught the man for you,” she smiled faintly, fighting through the pain with the thought some criminal saved her life.
“Wait, Ms. Dawes did this to you?” Perhaps he misheard her. Did she say Miss Dawes would catch the man? Wasn’t she supposed to be the one finding shelter for this rapist? Perhaps there was more to her than he originally thought.
“No, she saved my life... she’s like... that criminal who does good; a hero." A hero? Hardly. No hero kills people just for money. She wasn’t a villain though. No villain would save a Native Americans life. Perhaps she just had a thing for women, in a more feminist sense.
“Ms. Dawes saved your life?” he asked, still shocked that Ms. Dawes was even here. So it was her who he ran into! His heart even got faster and he was eager to see her again, perhaps get some information out of her. Dylan was not so sure that he could simply arrest her. Yes, there were claims to her crimes, but the last Marshall had not legally written any of them down. Without those papers, there really was no way she could get a death sentence in court.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” She asked, a soft giggle escaping at the end of her sentence. Dylan’s head just kept spinning and spinning, and he didn’t know when it would ever stop.
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