In this excerpt, Fatemeh Karimi rides to Silver City, New Mexico along with a reporter named Luther Duncan. Ramon has been jailed unjustly in Socorro and Fatemeh and Duncan are trying to solicit the help of a deputy sheriff named Dan Tucker. While there, they meet a teenage troublemaker.
“Who’s your prisoner?” Duncan looked toward the cell.
“Calls himself Kid Antrim.” Tucker chuckled to himself. “He’s been making a real pain in the ass of himself over at Fort Grant in Arizona.” He blushed and tipped his hat at Fatemeh. “Pardon my language, ma’am. They say he keeps stealing their supplies out from under them. His mother lives here in Silver City and I finally caught him this morning.”
“You wouldn’t o’ caught me if it wasn’t for this ankle,” grumbled the kid.
Fatemeh stood and stepped over to the cell. “What happened to your ankle?”
“Sprained it, hopping onto a horse.” The kid looked as his feet, apparently embarrassed at the notion of being clumsy.
“A horse that he stole.” The deputy sheriff scratched the back of his head. “I’m taking him back to Arizona tomorrow so he can stand trial at the fort. Even if I wanted to, I’m not sure there’s anything I could do to help Búho Morales. What you need is a good attorney and a judge sympathetic to your case, not a deputy sheriff like me—no matter how much I admire his reputation.”
“Whacha really need is someone to break him outta jail,” said the kid.
Fatemeh ignored the comment and returned to her seat at Tucker’s desk.
“Is there anyone you know that could help us?” Duncan leaned forward.
Tucker dropped his feet back to the floor. “Not around here. You might try Albert Fountain in Mesilla. I hear he’s pretty good with difficult cases.”
Fatemeh looked at Duncan with narrowed eyes. He gave an apologetic shrug. She redirected her gaze to the deputy sheriff. “I’m sorry we’ve bothered you, Mr. Tucker.”
“No bother at all, ma’am.” Tucker smiled faintly. “May I ask what the bishop was going to lynch you for?”
“His brother-in-law, Randolph Dalton, accused me of running off his miners. I was a better curandera than the ones in his parish…” She began counting off items on her fingers.
Tucker held up his hand and smiled. “I get the idea. If you’ll excuse my language again, you were a pain in his ass.”
Fatemeh grinned at that. “I think that about sums it up.” She looked toward the cell. “I wonder if you would allow me to treat the young man’s sprained ankle?”
Tucker shrugged. “It would sure make getting him to Arizona a lot easier if he could walk on his own two feet.”
Fatemeh nodded, then stood and left the sheriff’s office. She tried to think if there was anything else she could say to persuade Dan Tucker to help them out. It was clear he admired Ramon’s good reputation as a lawman. However, he was right. They needed a lawyer to get Ramon out of jail, not a deputy sheriff. She approached her horse and patted it on the nose, then went to her saddlebag and retrieved a bottle and some bandages. A few minutes later, she returned to the sheriff’s office.
She took the chair from in front of Dan Tucker’s desk, placed it in front of the jail cell and sat down. “I have something to help your sprain,” she said.
“Much obliged, but these things heal themselves with time.” Kid Antrim looked at the bottle suspiciously.
“This will help. I promise.”
Kid Antrim limped over to the bars. Gingerly, he pulled off his boot, then stuck his foot through. Fatemeh uncorked the bottle and the kid quickly pulled his foot back. “What in the name of Hell is that?” he cried, wrinkling his nose.
“Horse liniment. It’s the best thing I know for sprains.”
“I ain’t no horse.”
“Stick your foot back through the bars.”
He complied and she massaged his ankle with the liniment. Then, she wrapped his ankle snugly with the bandages.
“Hey, that feels better already.”
“Sure you don’t want to help me get him over to Arizona?” asked Tucker. “He listens to you better than he listens to me.”
“I would consider it, if you could help me with my problem.” Fatemeh put the cork back in the bottle of horse liniment.
The deputy sheriff scratched the back of his head, as though giving it serious thought. “The problem is I just don’t see any way I can help you, short of breaking Morales out of jail. If I really thought he’d been wronged, I might even help you do that, but from what you tell me, he admitted he was guilty of running away from his duties. It sounds like he may be facing a bad situation in Socorro, but how do I know what you’re telling me is true?”
“If you can think of any way to help, send word to me at the Mesilla News,” offered Duncan.
“I’ll do that.” Tucker stood from the desk and showed the visitors to the door.
That evening, Fatemeh and Duncan ate dinner at the hotel. Afterwards, they planned to get some sleep and ride back to Mesilla the next day.
“So tell me, Mr. Duncan, why exactly did we ride all the way out here, when we could have just spoken to this Albert Fountain back in Mesilla?”
Duncan sighed. “Albert Fountain is a very high powered attorney. I thought his services would be more than you could afford.”
Fatemeh looked down at her plate and stirred the food around with her fork. “I suppose you’re right.” She looked back up into Duncan’s eyes. “So what exactly are we going to do?”
Just then, the hotel door flew open and the scrawny fifteen-year-old kid from the sheriff’s office appeared. He slammed the door behind him and looked around. Seeing Fatemeh and Duncan he made for the table.
“What are you doing here?” Duncan’s eyes were wide.
“My ankle felt better, so I broke out of jail.” The kid smiled. “I didn’t feel like waiting around to go back to Arizona, so I thought I’d come here and see if I could help you all.”
Owl Dance is now live at Amazon.com.