The Farmer Part III - Frank Rogers
There wasn’t much I could do about Frank Rogers, there was no official warrant for his arrest, in the eyes of the law he was just another passenger on the train to Denver. Mayhap he was just minding his own business, but I knew better, Frank Rogers showing up on a train carrying cargo worth enough to pay me and Tuck three hundred dollars each to guard was no coincidence.
The brakeman was green, he pulled the brake hard enough to throw everyone in the car forward in their seats as the train slowed down on the approach to the Denver station. Frank Rogers used the distraction to slip into the next passenger car. There was no doubt in my mind that Frank and his gang were going to make a play for the contents of the safe and I sure wasn’t going to sit back and wait for them to make a move on me and Tuck.
“Tuck … did you see that?”
Tuck turned to me with a concerned look in his eyes. “Where’d Frank Rogers go?”
“Slipped into the next passenger car in the commotion. I’m going after him. No sense in letting him and his gang get organized before they come after the safe. I’ll see if I can break up their plan before it starts. Maybe they’ll give it up if they know we’re expectin’ their play on the safe.”
Tuck raised a half approving eyebrow. “If you think it’ll work, go ahead. I can hold things down here.”
I nodded. “Just remember the Wells Fargo man, short chubby man with spectacles …”
“And missing his right leg,” Tuck finished the description.
“Don’t leave the safe … no matter what happens,” I replied.
“I got it. Take care of Frank Rogers.”
Leaving Tuck alone to guard the safe didn’t sit well with me but leaving Frank Rogers and his gang alone to plan an attack on us was no better. If Frank knew that Tuck and I were guarding the safe and expecting trouble, it might be enough for them to hold off their plans. My concern for the contents of that safe ended when we arrived in Durango, what happened after I got my money for the job was someone else’s problem.
The train slowed to a stop at the Denver station. I moved through the passenger cars, no sign of Frank Rogers or his gang. Standing in the first passenger car at the front of the train, the farthest possible location from the express car and the safe, a jolt of panic shot through my body. What if Frank lured me away from Tuck and the safe on purpose? A river of sweat poured down the back of my neck.
I quickly moved back through the passenger cars, scanning the faces of passengers for Frank Rogers. The conductors began the last boarding calls. My pace quickened and my eyes darted from side to side.
The sight of Frank Rogers holding a baby stopped me cold. He stood not more than four feet in front of me, cradling a baby in his left arm and smiling. There was a younger woman with dark brown hair leaning over his shoulder and smiling at the baby in Frank’s arm.
“Frank?” The word involuntarily came out of my mouth as half question and the other half an abrupt statement.
He looked up at me. “Dave Woodward, how you doing old friend?”
I tipped my hat toward the woman with the dark brown hair standing next to Frank, “ma’am.”
The woman made a move toward me and I casually rested the palm of my left hand on the butt of my pistol.
She extended her hand toward me. “Alaina … Frank’s daughter. Nice to meet you Mr. Woodward.”
I shook her hand in a state of shock. The thought of Frank Rogers being a family man, or even having family had never occurred to me. “Nice to meet you ma’am. I’ve got two boys of my own. Been a while since they were that age. Almost wish I could go back to those days.”
Frank smiled at this daughter. “Sure do grow up fast.”
“Sure do … where are you headed?” I asked.
“We’re meeting my husband in Durango. Daddy was nice enough to ride up from Colorado Springs to make the whole trip with me and the little one,” replied Alaina.
“What brings you to the train, Dave? I saw you when I got on back in Colorado Springs but it was late at night, didn’t want to disturb you.” said Frank.
“Me and a friend are riding back in the express car. You two may have crossed paths, Tuck Parsons.” I didn’t have a fix on the situation and wasn’t sure how much Frank’s daughter knew about his past or current activities. Mentioning that we were riding in the express car was enough for Frank to know that we were riding security and guarding the safe.
Frank nodded. “Tuck and I have met before, good man …”
The baby began to fuss and Alaina took him from Frank’s arm. “I think he’s hungry,” said Alaina.
“I’d best be getting back to work. It was nice meeting you ma’am,” I locked eyes with Frank as I walked past, “Frank … good to see you as well.”
“We should bend an elbow in Durango, catch up on old times,” said Frank.
“No doubt I’ll need a shot of whiskey after this ride.” I continued toward the express car and the safe.
Tuck stood at the entrance to the express car talking to a short woman wearing a fancy blue dress with a white ribbon tied in her blond hair.
Tuck saw me walking toward him, “Thought I was going to have to come after ya.”
The blond woman took a quick look at me and turned back toward Tuck. “Thank you Mr. Parsons, I’ll collect my bag in Durango.” She flashed me a smile and walked back to her seat in the passenger car.
“Making some new friends?” I asked.
Tuck laughed. “Just being a gentleman. The lady was having trouble finding a place for her luggage. I put it in the room next to the safe. What happened with Frank Rogers?”
“You aren’t gonna believe me,” I replied.
“Give me a try.”
“I saw Frank Rogers. He was holding a baby, said it was his grandchild.”
“We’re talking about the same Frank Rogers?”
“Darndest thing I ever saw. According to him, he rode up from Colorado Springs to meet his daughter and grandchild in Denver. He’s escorting them back to Durango.”
“You don’t say … think he’s telling the truth?”
“If I didn’t know Frank, I’d say yes.” The train left the station headed back toward Durango. “Either way, we’ll find out soon enough.”
Tuck and I went back to our seats and stood watch for the rest of the ride back to Durango. After all the passengers exited at the Durango station, Marshall Riley boarded the train with a railroad representative in a suit.
“Any problems on the ride?” Marshall Riley asked.
“Brakeman could learn to be easier on the lever but other than that it was a smooth ride,” said Tuck.
I nodded in agreement. On the train station boardwalk, Frank Rogers and two tough men followed the blond woman who stored her luggage in the express car with Tuck’s help.
“Marshall Riley, have that man open up the safe, I think we have a problem,” I said.