He was a horse thief on speed dial.

Team roping is big in the arenas of West Texas.
Team roping is big in the arenas of West Texas.

Deputy Sheriff Leo Briggs has just arrived at Burl Branchwater’s barn to investigate the mysterious appearance of the stolen gunmetal stud.

Bobby Ray told the story to the deputy and pointed to the horse. Deputy Briggs examined all the horses, gathering his thoughts, before risking being kicked by slapping the sore gunmetal gelding on the hip.  “Well, guess you just gonna have to sue the feller what brought him out here.”

Burl, a county commissioner not unfamiliar with legal proceedings, raised from his shoeing.  “Sue?  What the hell you talkin’ about?  That’s a damn ten thousand dollar stud that was stolen and cut.  Any fool knows that’s criminal, not civil.”

The law officer backed up a few steps as Burl brandished his rasp.  “We called you out here to do something about a theft.  All you got to say is get us a lawyer and sue?  You get in your damn county car and get on back to the courthouse.  Finish your damn checker game.”

Bobby Ray watched Deputy Briggs drive away.  “What we gonna do now?”

“Better call Cole.  Maybe he can get somebody over in Hunt County to come look. Lillie thinks this Falwell feller lives over there, anyway. And the stud was probably in Hunt County when he was stolen.”

Cole Cunningham, part owner of the gray used-to-be stud, was there in ten minutes, eyes red with fury as he examined his stolen horse.   “I called the Hunt County Sheriff.”

The sheriff dispatched a deputy who brought along Bill Root, investigator for the District Attorney’s office and brother-in-law to Burl’s son, Jack.  Bill Root had called Jack to report that he was headed for his daddy’s place.  Curious, Jack arrived at about the same time Root and the Hunt County deputy drove up.

The investigator heard the story, made notes, then turned to Cole and Bobby Ray.   “If Burl will witness that this horse is yours and was stolen, then y’all have the right to take it back right now.”

Jack Branchwater asked the question everybody was thinking.  “What about the sumbitch that stole him?”

Investigator Root had his pencil and notebook ready as he spoke to Burl. “Did you get his name?”

Burl pointed in the general direction from which the thief had come. “Told me his name was Falwell.  Said everybody called him Frankie T.  Don’t know as I would believe anything the man said, though.”

Investigator Bill Root turned pale.

Jack spoke to his brother-in-law.  “That the same Frankie T. that’s your team roping partner at church ropings?”

Root whispered his reply.  “Couldn’t be.”

“What does he team rope on?”

Investigator Root coughed up the words.  “Lately, it’s been a gunmetal stud.”

“You mean to say you, a lawman yourself, been team-roping with a thief while he’s riding a stolen horse? That don’t even take into account that you’re on a church team.”

“Couldn’t be the same man. Frankie T.’s had some problems in the past, but he’s born again.”

Burl’s disgust boiled over.  “Well, is that the horse the man rides or not?”

The sheriff’s deputy walked over and put a hand on the gunmetal’s hip as if Bill Root still might not be able to tell which horse they were talking about. The horse flicked an ear in irritation. Chagrined, Bill nodded. “That’s him.”

Cole Cunningham, hands on hips, could not believe his ears. “There’s pictures of that damn stud all over the Sheriff’s office, the courthouse, every sale barn and vet’s office within a hundred miles of here. Me and Bobby Ray offered a five hundred dollar reward. Ever look at one of them pictures? There’s one pinned to a board not ten feet from your office.”

Bill Root was appropriately red-faced. “I never made the connection. Who would think a man would ride a stolen horse in church team ropings?  Hell, he even told me he was gonna have the stud cut so he would be safer around the kids.”

Bobby Ray’s face fell as he thought of five thousand dollar jewels being hauled off in a bucket.  “Who cut him?”

“Vet over at Sulphur Springs. Think his name is West.”

Cole’s eyes inflamed. “West?  Hell, that’s my vet. There’s pictures of this stud all over his office, too.  He gave the horse all his shots. Been seeing him since he was born. How could he not recognize a horse he’s castrating?”

Stunned now, Bill Root removed his cell phone from its belt holster.  He hit one button.  “Frankie T.?”

Jack looked at his father and laughed out loud. “Damn, Daddy. My brother-in-law, an officer of the court, has a horse thief on speed-dial.”

Next week: Frankie T. comes back for his horses.

51btA4jo0aL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX285_SY380_CR,0,0,285,380_SH20_OU01_Awesome!, June 25, 2012


RobinSee all my reviews

This review is from: Go Down Looking (Perfect Paperback)

From the first page to the last this book takes you on an emotional ride. I have enjoyed all the books Jim Ainsworth has written about the Rivers family. They are a must read! Can’t wait for his next book.

Please click the book cover to read more about Jim H. Ainsworth’s novels on Amazon.

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