Revelation in the Light of Day
This story is intended for mature audiences due to language, violence, and the vivid depiction of a consensual adult relationship.
"What I've Become"
"Matt, what in the devil happened out there tonight?" Doc demanded. "I've never seen Kitty so distraught."
"It was bad, Doc," Matt grimaced. "I won't lie to you."
Doc and Matt had left Kitty sleeping in the next room as they talked quietly with Festus in the outer office.
Matt continued, "I thought I had it all under control, but then I was ambushed by several more men." He wearily rubbed his face, his expression desolate. "Doc, they were gonna make me watch them…hurt her."
Festus spoke, "Well, Matthew, how'd you manage to stop 'em?"
Doc interjected, "You mean you weren't there with Matt? How on earth did you stop all those men by yourself?"
"I'm not sure, Doc. I honestly don't remember a whole lot." Matt's eyes were distant as he tried to recollect the evening's exact events. "I just recall those bastards tearing at her clothes…" He turned his head and looked away as he murmured, "…touching her…and then…" His expression was bleak. "And then I was standing in front of an unarmed man, shot to death with a bullet from my gun."
Doc whispered hoarsely, "Good heavens…"
Festus clarified, "Doc, I was there after the dust'd settled. I saw what'd happened." His expression was dour. "Poor Miss Kitty was a'layin' there…clothes tore half off…" He shook his head miserably. "And all those men… Against just you, Matthew. You was a'fightin' for yer life. Yers and Miss Kitty's…"
Matt wretchedly argued, "But Festus, I saw that man. He was unarmed."
Doc countered, "Matt, don't you dare go beating yourself up over this. Those filthy animals got what they deserved as far as I'm concerned."
"But, Doc, I'm a U.S. Marshal." Matt's tone was anguished. "I'm sworn to uphold the law, but tonight I broke the law."
Firmly, Festus retorted, "Matthew, I don't keer. Them blame rascals was a'gonna' hurt Miss Kitty and you done what you had to do to pertect her. I don't keer if ya' had to kill ever last one of 'em." He harrumphed and shook his head. "Don'tcha' think she's worth it?"
Doc nodded sagely as he swiped a hand thoughtfully over his wiry mustache. "And that's what it boils down to, Matt. You can regret what happened tonight, but what matters at the end of the day is that little lady in the next room. She's safe and sound because of what you did."
Matt scrubbed a hand over his mouth and closed his eyes, but didn't know what to say. His head and his heart were clearly at war.
Festus awkwardly cleared his throat, then reminded Doc, "We got them three prisoners down ta' the jail Matthew done knocked the tar out of. I myself don't give a whipstitch if they don't get no doctor's help a'tall, but you kin go see 'em iffin ya' got the time."
"Alright, Festus. I'll go right now, if one of you will stay here in case Kitty needs something."
"I'll stay, Doc…" Matt quickly answered, "I'll stay. Festus, will you go back to the jail with Doc?"
"Shore, Matthew, I'd be glad to." While Doc grabbed his bag and headed out the door with Festus, Matt wearily groaned and lay back on Doc's examining table, his mind a whirl.
And on the other side of the bedroom door, a stricken Kitty sat on the floor against the door where she'd been listening quietly to the three men's conversation. She was so sorry, so sorry it'd come to this. That Matt had been forced to tarnish his beloved badge to protect her. She didn't know what she could do to make it right…