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11900269Things came to a head in the town of Cottonwood springs when Marshal Frank Patch killed Luke Mills. Mills was a drunk, but when that challenging voice yelled out of the dark alley and a couple of shots followed, instinct took over and a man was dead.

The town had been trying to get Patch to quit for a few years now. They thought it was time for a uniformed police force. He was an anachronism these days. But Patch always refused. When he’d taken the job, it was a wild town and his type was needed.

But that was twenty years ago. The shots from Mills were the first fired Patch’s way in four years.

The town was afraid of Patch. He had a manner about him. Take his girl friend. In the last five yers, he’d never hit her, threatened her, looked crosswise at her, or raised his voice to her. Yet she was afraid of him.

Patch got away with refusing to quit because, after twenty years, he knew stuff about the important people in town, things they wouldn’t want advertised. Threats to not pay didn’t work either. His answer was he had money put away and it didn’t cost him much to live.

But something had to be done. Businesses had passed on locating in town when they saw the big gunfighter type riding through town.. They thought it was still rough. Growth had stagnated.

Patch had his own insecurities as well. The big, gruff man that frightened everybody was afraid himself. What would he do if he wasn’t Marshal. He knew nothing else.

So the town decided what they were going to do.

The novel was made into a film starring Richard Widmark as Patch and Lena Horne as his girl friend.

Final note. Heath Lowrance had this in a post and attracted my attention. He says he got it from Cullen Gallagher.