Horace was not afraid when Chief Sandoval entered his office. In fact, he was still excited about the massive haul his boys had pulled in the morning before. He assumed he would need to entertain and send the Chief on his way. Such visits were rare after all.
"Sheriff Sandoval," greeted Horace, finishing up signing a document for the town in front of him, "Or is it Cheif? You tour types always do mess around with your titles."
Horace stood and walked over to Sandoval, reaching out his hand and giving him a firm handshake.
"I know what you mean, Mayor Wilcott" said Sandoval.
"Of course, tales have spread about another name," Horace's voice was dropped farther down before he winked, "The Judge Sandoval, haha."
"I cannot help what people chose to call me," said Sandoval, evenly, "However, the title of 'Honorable Judge' is not one that goes away while I am not performing those duties. It is appropriate."
Horace gestured to a seat in front of his desk, and he walked back around his desk and retrieved two tumbler glasses and a bottle of brandy.
"What brings you to this tiny town of Hideout, 'Your Honor'?" asked Horace.
"I've been doing my research and I have heard some disturbing reports from this area," said the Judge, sitting down in the indicated seat, "I am afraid the closer I came to your town the truer those reports became."
"Oh dear," said Horace, feigning concern, "So you are out this way looking for some bandits or an outlaw? I have to admit, Sandoval, my boys or myself would've sussed out any such fowl rogue if they had come through town. However if there is anything we could do to be helpful, I would jump at the chance."
"Oh, I am so glad you said that," smiled Sandoval, "And you are very perceptive. I am tracking a criminal. In fact, it is his brazen boldness and whit that caught my attention."
Horace paused, for a moment, before holding his smile and taking a seat.
"A drink?" asked Horace, to which Sandoval declined, "So, describe this rogue of which you seek, sir."
Sandoval gave a slight smile, staring into the middle-distance, "Well, how to describe someone such as he. What do you know of the series of robberies in the surrounding area?"
"I have yet to hear much about any robberies, good sir. Thankfully we have been blessed to be spared any such problems here."
"Yes, that does seem to be the case," said Sandoval, "Mayor Wilcott, here in your little town of 'Hideout'. How fortunate. Money stagecoaches have been robbed on the roads leading from this very town. Banks are robbed in the next town over. Men are killed for their Ciams."
"Horrible," said Horace, "People should really be careful. The Istoki is such an unforgiving place."
"So it would seem," said Sandoval, "We have spoken to many on our way here."
"I'm sure their stories are very touching."
"Their stories are surprisingly similar. A gang of outlaws having their way with this whole area. Hunting down lawmen. Threatening Bobbies on tour. Assaulting women. Robbing banks. Drinking. Smoking. Spitting."
"Egad," said Horace, "Unthinkable."
However, his monotonous delivery could barely hide his anxiety. His heart had begun to beat quicker. Horace looked to the door before returning his eyes to Sandoval.
"And, peculiarly, they all point me in one direction," said Sandoval, "The little old town of 'Hideout'. Smack dab in the middle of all of these stories."
"How jealous of them to accuse this town of harboring criminals," said Horace sternly, "It seems odd to blame a neighbor for your lack of locks on your door."
"Locks or not, if your neighbor's children are running amok, sometimes the law might need to stroll through the neighborhood. Horace, forced a smile. Sandoval just stared at him. Mouth still. Eyes unwavering. Hands at rest on the arms of the chair. Horace's eyes shot to the area of Sandoval's belt he assumed a gun was holstered, but he couldn't see it from where he was. "Well, Chief Sandoval," said Horace, "You can feel free to look around our little town looking for your lost money or jewels." "They aren't mine," said Sandoval. Horace reached down to a drawer. Opening it, he eyed his ivory-handled four shot revolver he kept inside. Beside it lay a sapphire necklace from the latest haul. However, his hand nimbly grabbed for the bottle of amber liquid he knew to be expensive brandy. He pulled it from the drawer, popping the topper and pouring himself a glass. "If you won't drink, I pray you won't mind if I do," said Horace. "Please do," smiled Sandoval, leaning back in his chair, "I am fine with that." "Well, you seem rather sure of yourself to come into this town you suspect of thievery," said Horace, the words coming out more venomous then he intended, "So brave. I am glad you came to me first. I have reliable men and can form a posse and turn this town over for any wanted thugs or criminals-" "Oh, hold it there," said Sandoval, "You are getting ahead of yourself. I know, for a fact, this little town is at fault. You misread our meeting here for one of informational exchange or asking for help." "I apologize," said Horace between sips of his drink, "Than I hope you will consider this permission for you to look around." "Oh, I wasn't asking for permission." Horace narrowed his eyes, "Alright, Sandoval. If you have business with me I feel it's time to air it out. No more games." "You are the ring leader of these bandits," said Sandoval, "In fact, a man matching your description is claimed to be the death of one Jonathan Walker." "Lies." "I believe most in this town are no better then brutes and thugs. In fact I recognized some wanted faces on our way in." "That is enough," said Horace, slamming his fists on his desk, "You believe yourself smart, Chief? You march out here with your seven men and think you'll just muscle your way in here?" "Ah, so we were spotted." "Yes, and your two backup men are probably dealt with by now. Or they will be." Horace stood up, swishing his glass of alcohol, "You think you can just walk into Hideout and start making demands of me? Who do you think you are messing with, boy?" Horace grabbed a crank on the wall, giving it three good cranks before turning to Chief Sandoval. Sandoval had retrieved the bottle of bourbon while is back was turned, and was looking it over with a grin. "What is your goal here? If I was some gang leader, why would I be publicly a Mayor? Why would I make a town my home? Why would you just walk in here knowing you are outgunned and out-manned?" "Out-manned," said Sandoval, "But I am not outgunned." "We'll see about that," said Horrace, "I am afraid I will have to ask you to leave and return with a court order or a wanted poster with my face on it, Chief. Until then you best pray I am not what you claim to be or you could run into trouble on your way out." "If you are eager for me to leave, fine," said Sandoval, standing to his feet and holding the bottle out to Horace, "However, I am afraid you are under arrest." "Ha!" "Just don't try anything," said Sandoval, his hand swishing back his coat. Horace got a good glimpse at his revolver. He grabbed the bottle from Sandoval and held in as a toast. "Good-bye, Chief. This was delightful. But my men are here to remove you, now." As if on cue, the large office double doors opened. However, Sandoval didn't move or give away anything as two masked Bobbies entered the room. They had black suits on with black masks. Their custodian helmets had a bright badge on them. They both held lever action rifles in their hands.
"I will take your look of surprise to mean my officers have overpowered your men in the lobby downstairs," said Sandoval, "And the rouse is lifted. You should consider yourself in my custody, now."
"You, insolent-" started the Mayor, his glass falling from his hand and spilling all over the floor, "What is your glorious plan, Tin Man? You going to drag me out of a town where you are surrounded by my men?"
"Pretty much," said Sandoval, "Because you should now consider yourself surrounded by my men, actually. You see, you received word of the two men I left behind for backup, which means your scouts following us took the bait and brought word of them to you before we arrived. However, since you didn't receive any word about the additional seven officers who backed up those two, I can assume they have done their job well."
Horace took a step back from Sandoval. His face was sweating, flashing from intense anger to horrified realization as his mind raced.
"Reach for your gun," said Sandoval, "And you won't see a trial."
"You can't do this," said Horace, "You have no proof."
"Actually, I do," said Sandoval, "You see, you stole jewels and Ciams and silver and laundered it into your banks, businesses, or straight up buried it. I could care less. But you kept the one thing you assumed would never be your undoing. A single bottle of high class bourbon."
Horace looked down to his hand. The bottle was sloshing in his shaking hand. Looking through the glass, he spotted writing on the back of the label. Turning the bottle, he could see in writing the word 'Got you'. Horace looked up to the Sheriff.
Sandoval had, at some point, drawn his pistol. He had it casually pointed at the mayor.
"Please, Mayor Wilcott. I need you to sing so I can bring down an entire town," Sandoval motioned his head vaguely behind him, "With your confession, I can take a whole nest of snakes out of my country. With you slain, however, they'll scatter."
Horace dropped the liquor bottle, this time it shattered on the floorboards. His hands awkwardly raised. With a glance from Sandoval, the two Bobbies walked forward to shackle Horace's hands and feet.
"Don't try anything, now," said Sandoval, holstering his pistol and beginning to walk to the door, "It would be a shame for someone to get hurt."