The Copperplate Killer
"Sheriff Roxborough, Deputies, on behalf of the federal government, I'd like to thank you for your assistance in capturing this man." Thyme indicated the unconscious Thomson, bandaged and strapped to a stretcher across three folded-down seats. "It's a damned shame about that poor girl in the saloon, but a mad dog like this has no respect for laws of common decency. Even to the last, he's nothing more than a heartless killer."
Roxborough let fly a stream of tobacco juice towards the spittoon in the corner. "Let him hang, I say. With the whore, how many does that make for him? Killed, I mean."
"A store keeper, a railroad inspector, a clerk in an assay office and that girl last night. Plus the two marshals. That's six that we know about. Plus thefts, arson, and his other crimes. He'll get his trial, Sheriff, and then he'll get his just reward. Oh, and speaking of rewards, I've already wired ahead about your assistance. You can expect a letter of credit for the five hundred dollars in reward money to arrive at the Farm and Seed Bank in a week or so."
"Aw, hell, Thyme," Jeremiah said, "all we did was come in after we heard the shooting. Since we didn't even hardly do anything, it wouldn't be right to -"
"That's right friendly of you, Justification, and we appreciate it." Roxborough placed a hand on Jeremiah's shoulder as he spoke over him. "A man like that, a desperate killer and all, the thing could have gone any number of ways. We were happy to be of assistance. The sooner you get him on back to face the hangman, the better off we'll all be."
Thyme smiled. "Sheriff, I couldn't agree more."
All four men climbed down from the coach. As they shook hands in farewell, Charlie gave Thyme an extra bottle of opium tincture. Doc Vincent had patched Thomson up well enough to survive the long trip to Washington D.C., but he'd agreed that the man would be easier to handle if he were sedated the entire time. Thomson came around when the doc was fishing the slugs out of his arm and leg. He'd been shouting like a demon, promising bribes in gold and silver if the doc were to let him go, and promising vengeance in fire and blood if not. Needless to say, the doctor was happy to be rid of him.
The engine whistle sounded. With a last wave, Thyme climbed back aboard the passenger coach. Attached as a special to the 7:05 freight train, it was going to be a bumpy and slow ride to Topeka.
He watched out the window as Highwater disappeared down the tracks. Then he turned to Thomson, drew back his fist and punched him hard, right on the massive wrapping of bandages that covered his upper arm. Thomson moaned and rolled his head.
"Still too far gone, huh?" He pulled out the bottle of opium tincture and regarded it for a bit before putting it away again. "We've got all day, you 'Copperplate Killer' son of a bitch. I can wait for you to come around."
At the end of the day, Thyme thought, after he's told me where he hid the gold, I'll give him a drop or two. It's gonna be worth listening to his screaming all day just for the look on his face when I tell him I'll get a promotion for finding the money.
He settled into one of the seats, arranging himself for a nap. It had been a long night. From under his hat, Thyme took one last look at his man, trussed up and bleeding afresh where he'd punched him. He snorted.
Play your cards right and I might even let you live to see Washington. Maybe.