Lin Garrett. In his time, he had become a legend as a lawman. He was referred to as "the other Garrett," a very different kind of lawman than Pat Garrett. He didn't track an outlaw so he could get in a position to shoot him from ambush. He had confronted the outlaw, Ollie Sinclair, at Colorado crossing. He gave him a chance. Leave Arizona Territory and never come back! Ollie had given his word. But then he broke it. After a daring robbery, he headed back to the crossing, and it was there that Lin Garrett captured him. What followed was a long stretch in Yuma Penitentiary. Those days vanished and age took its toll. Lin Garrett is no longer a lawman. He didn't save anything, buy a ranch, make provision. So when he wanted to travel, he took to riding the rods, but the physical ordeal has become too much. That's how he ends up at Coconino County Hospital for the Indignet, that and a little matter of threatening three toughs who were about to rob a dude. You don't go threatening people with sudden death when you aren't a lawman. It can get you in trouble.
Occasionally Randolph Corbett comes to the hospital to visit, Ol; Corb who used to be Lin's deputy. Ol' Corb always was windy while Lin Garrett tended to say very little, and that only when he had to. Ol' Corb had been in
on the capture of Ollie Sinclair. He, too, had been a good lawman. And so it might have gone until the end, except that Ollie Sinclair is released from prison. Sinclair defies the passage of time, organizes a gang, and commits a daring train robbery. Lawmen are after Sinclair and his gang in force, but they don't know where to look. Lin thinks he does know. He always could outthink Ollie Sinclair. Ol' Corb has an hororary badge. That is enough for the two old-timers to appoint themselves a posse of two, requisition gear including guns from the local store, and borrow mounts from the stable. It could just be that they'll be successful where everyone else has failed. Where might Sinclair go? Lin thinks he will stop to see Holly Grant Mossman, now a widow, but the woman Sinclair loved all those years when he was wild and free. Lin had loved her, too, but he was a man of few words, and said nothing. So the action begins, where the past will meet the present and the future will change for everyone.
An Excerpt from Walk Proud, Stand Tall
Well, Lin Garrett, you’ve come a long way. Stealing a horseless carriage to take some dude up to Mars Hill so you can buy crackers and a cup of coffee for supper.
A simple fact stopped him. Lin Garrett had no idea how to start the Chevrolet touring sedan parked at the depot - didn’t even know it was a Chevrolet till the dude told him - let alone keep it going or stop it. He had hoped to find a jerky or mud wagon. Horses or mules, those he knew, but this black box with gold trim, decorated with red, white and blue bunting and American flags ... well, that was as foreign to him as the heavy-accented scientist and all his speechifying about the canals on Mars, spectrographs, and Percival Lowell.
“That’s a fine-looking automobile,” the dude said. “Bet it’s a lot more comfortable on your backside than a saddle, too, eh, old-timer. How long have you had it? Can’t be long, being a Classic Six. High-priced, too, for a taxicab. And all decked out for Lincoln’s birthday. Or Washington’s, maybe. That your idea, or the taxicab company’s? No top, though, and cold as it is tonight ... you won’t be charging me full fare for that inconvenience, I take it.”
Lin Garrett grunted, about all this guy would let him get in. The man talked more than his pal Randolph Corbett, and Ol’ Corb could fill volumes of absolutely nothing. Or maybe it was just Lin Garrett, never much for words. In fact, Holly Grant - no, she was Holly Mossman, now, had been for decades - had once told him, “Having a conversation with you, Lin, is like pulling teeth.”
Impatient from the bite of the winter night, the dude gave him an odd stare. Waiting for me to throw his luggage in the back, Garrett thought. Garrett glanced at the grip parked beside his Cordovan Congress shoes, the fanciest, blackest shoes Garrett had ever seen, almost made Garrett ashamed of his fourteen-year-old, mud-stained boots
His empty stomach knotted, making up his mind for him, and Garrett reached for the door, but hesitated. Stealing. He had hanged horse thieves himself. Of course, that had been in a different century. He wondered what sentence Arizona jurists pronounced on automobile thieves in this day and age. Not a rope, for sure, not with civilization’s encroachment. Jail time, or the penitentiary. Prison, of course, had a few things in its favor. Three squares, a cot to sleep on, and not in that hellhole down in Yuma, either, but the new pen they had opened a couple of years back in Florence. In prison, he might relive old days with pals, and enemies, men like Ollie Sinclair and Jude Kincaid, if they were still breathing. Only ... well ... it was still stealing. Garrett had never stolen anything in his life, excepting a few cows when he was sowing his oats, and in those days lots of honest men threw a wide loop, and a piece of peppermint candy back in Missouri when he was just a boy. His pa had left welts on his buttocks with a razor strop for that misdemeanor.
“Old man,” the scientist said, no longer courteous. “It’s twenty degrees out here. I’d like to get to the observatory before daylight. It’s a perfect night for viewing, and Mister Lowell is expecting me.”
Garrett swore underneath his breath, and jerked the bag. Pain shot up from deep in his back, his legs cramping, and he staggered, grimacing, steadying himself by grabbing the freezing metal of the Chevrolet’s front door. The luggage wasn’t heavy, especially for a man who had often carried forty-pound saddles without breaking a sweat, yet lifting it had hurt like blazes.
The dude just stared, and Garrett threw the suitcase into the back seat. It bounced off the leather and onto the floor, and the dude muttered more than a few complaints. Another mistake, throwing the grip like that. That had hurt even more, and he bent over, trying to catch his breath. He hated being old, hurting in places he never knew existed as a young man. When he looked up, the dude was staring down the depot, probably hoping to find another hack to haul him over to Mars Hill.
Should have stayed on that train, Garrett thought.
Fact was, he wouldn’t have jumped out of the boxcar had he known this was Flagstaff, would have kept riding west to California, but the other hobos didn’t look friendly, and he figured it best not to push his luck with those tramps or some nightstick-wielding railroad dick.
He had leaped out when the locomotive had slowed, and a few minutes later had stumbled into the path of one Mr. Slipher, an Easterner who had come to study the planets using Mr. Lowell’s observatory. Slipher didn’t cotton to everything Professor Lowell espoused. For one, he didn’t believe those alleged canals on Mars proved there had once been life on the red planet, wasn’t even sure those canals existed, having never seen them himself, though he had savored Lowell’s books and respected the man as a scientist and an astronomer, and certainly believed, as did Lowell, in Spencerian evolution. No, Mr. Slipher was more interested in the entire solar system, not just Mars, and using the Brashear spectrograph to observe spiral nebulae. Not only that, but Lowell’s fascination with the theory of Planet X, a ninth planet, well, that intrigued Mr. Slipher, too.
It took Garrett all of about two minutes to decide that Mr. Slipher probably came from Mars, odd as that bird was.
Copyright 2006 by Johnny D. Boggs