Graverobbers were the lowest of the low, a scourge on God’s green earth. And now look what they had wrought!
Deputy Randall Kroft shook his head and gazed down on his fallen friend and boss, Sheriff Blaze Bowman. Why, the stress of trying to catch the scoundrels who had plagued Whitlock all summer had finally taken its toll.
A man of 50 could only stand so many long, overnight vigils, so many disappointments. Poor old Blaze’s heart finally just gave out.
It was a real shame.
Of course, that big old ring on Bowman’s finger would help ease Randall’s pain. Along with whatever else the sheriff was hiding there in his coffin.
And it would be easier than ever for the deputy to collect his bounty, what with Bowman out of the picture. All he had to do was wait until nightfall.
Randall stifled a grin as he turned away from Blaze’s casket, but he couldn’t swallow the song in his heart, and his usual, “Oh! Susanna,” broke out as a soft hum.
Blaze Bowman could scarcely breathe, and the blackness was more complete than any he had known in his life. If it weren’t for the scratching of some varmint or other at the foot of his wooden box, the sheriff might have believed he really was dead.
He knew there wasn’t much longer to wait, though.
Judging by the way Randall Kroft had lingered over Blaze at the funeral that afternoon, the sheriff knew his suspicions were most likely correct — his own right-hand was the cowardly graverobber who had confounded the sheriff for months.
Somewhere above him, the whistled strains of “Oh! Susanna” muffled through the dirt, and hard metal struck the earth.
Blaze smiled ruefully in the darkness and clutched his six-shooter.
Randall’s reckoning was at hand.