Nick grabbed the microphone off his radio, pushing the talk button. “Dispatch repeat please.”
Federal Marshalls just released an all points for the counties of Tarrant, Jackson, and Milton. Be on the lookout for five escaped convicts. They broke out of Homesberg Prison approximately three hours ago. Marshalls are on their way, Midway Sherriff’s department has dispatched teams to the north side of the mountain.”
“10-4, dispatch, copy that.”
Nick replaced the microphone with a deep breath. So much for a quiet night, at least they are on the north side of the mountain.
“Dispatch to Eagle three.”
“This is Eagle three, go dispatch.”
“Have a report of a disturbance at the Merkle Farm.”
“Mariposa get out again?”
“Sounds like it.”
“10-4, ETA twenty dispatch.”
“Copy that Eagle three, I’ll update John.”
An hour later, Nick walked Mariposa back to the barn where John and Sandra Merkle were waiting. Normally this isn’t something he would do, but as the Merkles were not young chickens anymore. When Mariposa ever got out, which was at least once a week, Nick would rather round her up himself than risk one of the Merkle’s injured while tromping through the forest brush chasing after her in the dark. The mare was somewhat of a legend on the mountain having secured herself as the fastest horse this side of the Mississippi. That was until a few years before when she went lame. Most owners would have put her down but not John and Sandra, Mariposa was family, and you never give up on the family.
As a nod of thanks to him for his time and trouble, Mrs. Merkle always gave him a steaming cup of fresh coffee, and she made the best coffee this side of the mountain. John Merkle stood beside the barn door. He nodded slightly. H
“Doesn’t look like she did too much damage this time John, just need to remember she’s figured out how to untie the slip knot. You want me to take her inside?” The man nodded, and the hair on the back of Nick’s neck rose. He led Mariposa into the barn, discreetly scanning the area. There was no sign of Sandra and John continued to remain silent. Nick debated what he should do next. He walked Mariposa into her stall, closed the latch and moved back to the opening of the barn. His mind spun on a quick way to confirm he didn't imagine things. “All set, John. Looking forward to seeing her on the track next week, you still are offering up those box seats?”
The man looked confused for half a second and then responded. “Sure am, Nick. It is the least I can do.”
Well, that confirms it, something is up – play it cool Wall.
“Well, that’s just fine. I’ll see you next week, John. Tell Sandra I said hello and had a good evening.”
John Merkle tipped his baseball cap and nodded. “Will do, Sheriff.”
Nick waved before getting in the jeep. Once he was out of sight, he picked up the radio and then stopped remembering that John Merkle frequented the radio bans and that if the escaped felons were there, they would likely hear him call for back-up. Nick continued down the road before pulling off into the brush. He pulled his cell, dialing Tim’s direct line. It went to voicemail and Nick cursed under his breath. Loading his shotgun, Nick sent Tim a text message with his location before starting back to the Merkle Farm on foot.
Come Find Me!
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