Men On The Side (Part Two)

February 6, 1897
Sarah Waters

“Are you okay?” I asked.

I knew the answer was no, but I was at a loss for words to say. She is my friend.

“I’ll be fine.” She said.

Her eyes were still red and she winced with every move. It was no secret what had happened or why, but the details were a maze of contradictions. The only thing I am certain of is I was the reason.

“Why would you fight with someone over me?” I asked.

Anna looked at me and for a moment I thought she was going to cry again. She cried all through the night, quietly, as if she was ashamed of it. I wanted to provide some form of comfort but I knew I could only make it worse.

“It isn’t true is it?” She said.


“You would never kill anyone would you?” She asked.

I saw all their faces again. Angry, desperate men, but men with wives and children depending on them. They were dead because of me, some by my own hand and all with a terrifying question on their lips, “Why?” I closed my eyes, but they would not go away and then there was the one face which answered it all, but he is not dead, not yet.

“Why do you ask?” I said.

She fumbled in her pocket for a moment and then produced a folded clipping from the Denver Post. I did not need to read the words on the page, I knew the story well enough, I lived it.

“It’s all true.” I said.

My voice was hoarse and the words came out at barely a whisper, but she heard them just the same. The disappointment was obvious in her eyes and in her stance. She swallowed and said nothing at all. The weight of silence rested heavy in my chest.

“I’ll understand if you hate me.” I said.

“Why Sarah?” She asked.

The question echoed in my head with the voices of all those men. What answer can I give?

“I…I…” I said, trying to find something to say.

“It doesn’t matter. You are here now and all of that is behind you, in the past where it will remain.” She said.

I nodded, tears in my own eyes. She wrapped me in an embrace and together we shed tears of regret and pain. It was something we both needed to do. The shame and guilt will never slip away, but there is comfort in the sharing and in the knowing there are days ahead in which we might find the way to make right all our wrongs.


I never saw him coming. He grabbed my arm from behind and before I could even make a sound his other hand covered my mouth and nose. I struggled of course but he had me. Dragged from the street in broad daylight, he threw me against a wall in a shady alleyway. His hands released me and only then did I know him.

“Quiet or you’ll attract attention.” He said.

I considered my options and decided talking was the best.

“Why would I not want it?” I asked.

“Because then you’ll never know what I have to tell you.” He said.

“Are you certain I wish to know?”

“That’ll be your choice Miss Waters, but you don’t strike me as the kind of woman who prefers to remain ignorant.”

“You know my name.”

“When a woman shoots you and then saves your life, you make it a point of learning her name.”

I nodded.

“Are you going to kill me?” I asked.

“If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. I came to warn you.”


“Because I owe you and I don’t owe anyone anything, ever.”

“So what’s your warning?” I asked.

“The man who wants your friend, isn’t giving up. There’ll be men coming for her and no one can protect her all the time.”

“Who is he?”

“I can’t say.”

“That’s not very helpful.”

“Ask your friend, she probably knows. I’ve never met the man myself, he sends me work from time to time and goes by the name, Mr. S.” He said.

“What makes you think she knows?”

“The people he sends me for, they’ve always done something. She looks innocent enough but if he is after her, she most likely did something to him.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Nothing. I sent you a package, you’ll receive it next week and inside you’ll find information on the men that are coming. Maybe it will help you.”

“Why didn’t you just tell the sheriff? I can’t stop them on my own.”

“I did tell the sheriff and he’ll do what he can, but they aren’t coming just for your friend anymore. The contract includes me and you now, dead or alive.”

“And you? What are you going to do?”

“I on my way out of town and you’d be wise to do the same, but I reckon you won’t.”

“So you are just going to run like a coward?”

“Call it what you will, but I like living.”

“You men are all the same. You stay on the side and pretend you are not involved. Why should I believe a word you say?”

“Because I got no reason to lie and frankly, I don’t care if you do or don’t. I’m giving you the information that can save your life. What you do with it is up to you.”

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