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 Revenge

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PostSubject: Revenge   Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:18 am

Time for a new challenge, and this one should really whet your artistic appetites. Your mission is to give us your best take on the challenge topic between 4,000 and 150 words. Your topic for October is


Draw Revenge cowboy 12


So time to get writing, but don't forget to comment on September's stories before starting, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.     
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PostSubject: Re: Revenge   Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:18 pm

A Matter of Faith and Trust... continued


The Governor hadn’t moved.  He sat quietly, watching the outlaw leader’s Scofield pistol as it wavered to and fro, in time with the cogs whirring inside Heyes’ head.  Heyes stared back for what felt like a very long few seconds, as he tried to get the measure of the other man’s character.

This Governor, Governor Valentine K. Johnson, was not an easy man to read.  But there was something Heyes recognised, something in the man’s manner and bearing that brought to mind, a certain, fair minded Judge of their acquaintance.  A Judge whose word could be trusted.

Slowly, Heyes lifted and holstered his gun.

“It’s… Heyes … just Heyes.”

Kid, still stood with the door knob in his hand.  He stared at Heyes as he trained his Colt on the seated Governor.  He looked confused.  What was this? They were leaving. It had all been a lie. A trap, to get them to the prison.  No way, was he holstering his gun.

“Well … just … Heyes …” said the Governor ignoring the gunman’s pistol, “You … may call me Johnson … if you wish … for now.”

A small smile of satisfaction crossed his face, or was it relief, as Heyes placed a hand over Kid’s gun and lowered it to point at the floor.

“HEYES … You’re not gonna listen to this snake… ARE YOU? He just admitted it’s all been a pack o’ lies! He’s just stallin’ us … till his guard comes back … COME ON HEYES … WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!”

Heyes’ gaze hadn’t left the seated man.

“I wanna hear what he has to say Kid … You can keep him covered while we talk … if it makes you feel better… but … I don’t think we should leave without hearing what he has to say.”

Kid stared at his cousin in disbelief.  Saw that Heyes was in earnest, and wouldn’t be swayed. So, with a scrape of more dirt from his face to the floor and a frustrated growl of anger, Kid resumed his vigil at the door, whilst keeping his Colt trained on Johnson’s middle.

Heyes sat, crossing his legs and clasping his hands in his lap, all ears.  Johnson eyed Kid Curry behind the seated Heyes in question.  Heyes merely smiled.  He wasn’t surprised, their reputations were such, that many a man believed Kid merely did Heyes’ bidding.

“He can hear you well enough from there” he assured the Governor.

“Well … Gentlemen …” Johnson seemed to accept that this was the best he could expect from his august company, just at present. 

“I presume you would like to know why, your friend Trevors, had you turn up a day early for a meeting with the Territorial Governor?”

Heyes’ eyebrows did his answering.

“Yes… Governor Thomas Moonlight himself … is coming here tomorrow morning.  And I presume you’d like to know why he had you come to this… “

Johnson waved a hand towards the window and the parade ground beyond.  It was filling up with a bedraggled bunch of half-starved looking men, whose hair looked recently shorn and who were all wearing the same striped uniform. They were overseen by more of the mammoth guards wielding rifles.  Kid watched as the men were directed to move boulders, the size of small doggies, from one side of the yard to the other.  He was not impressed.

Heyes wasn’t distracted however, he was listening to every word Johnson was saying.

“To this … facility … this great bastion … of penal reform?”

‘Ah, that was it,’ thought Heyes.  ‘That was the angle.’
 
---oooOOOooo---


Lom Trevors had had a long day.  Governor Moonlight was not good travelling company in Lom’s book.  Good travelling company eased a journey, with a little tall-tale telling now and then, a round of cards, if the train car had a table, and accompanied you in the quest for sustenance.  Good travelling company didn’t near talk your ear off all the way from Cheyenne to Laramie!  

He sat heavily on the bed, pulling off the tight dress boots, he wished he’d never spent good money on, and loosening the fool silk thing at his neck.  One of the best reasons Lom could think of just then, for never going into politics himself, was the blame monkey-dress get up he and Moonlight had been trussed up in all day.  Moonlight said it added gravitas to his Office.  It added nothing but tight muscles and pinched-up feet as far as Lom was concerned.

Lom launched the expensive silk cravat, to the other side of the considerable bed chamber, with venom. 

He lay back on the bed and stared up at the ornate ceiling. 

This Cornel Harvest friend of Moonlight’s, must have family money, thought Lom.  He didn’t build a fancy pile like this, on Army pay that’s for sure.  Moonlight had been a little un-forthcoming about his time here in the Army.  It was the only thing the man had been un-forthcoming about.

Moonlight was in the next room.  

Unbelievably, the man was still talking to himself, strutting back and forth across the room spouting the next speech he had to make, Lom supposed, or he might just like the sound of his own voice.  

The man hadn’t given up talking once.  Not even when Cornel Harvest had brought out the good cigars after dinner. The whole experience had left Lom with a disturbed digestion and a sour mood. 

He stood and pulled off a few more clothes. He found the warm water, left for him to freshen up. He dabbed at his neck.  Shaving could wait till morning.  He’d need a little time then, to bolster himself, before facing breakfast with the garrulous Governor.  

And then.

Then.

Lom closed his eyes.  

He’d been staring at himself in the mirror above the wash stand, but suddenly, he couldn’t meet his own gaze. He turned away from the glass and sent the towel flying across the room to join the odious cravat on the floor. 
 
If Moonlight hadn’t been in the next room he would have liked to vent his frustration with a few, well-chosen, Anglo Saxon expletives. As it was, he banged his white-knuckled fist into the marble, making the ornate jug and basin bounce, soap-suds skitting about in all directions.

Moonlight was a menace! 

The man had tied Lom up in knots. Twisting his intentions. Seeming to say one thing, then claiming to have said another.  Agreeing with Lom, that the boys had done enough. Wanting to mark the occasion, he said. Suggesting they invite the press to witness the granting of the amnesty one minute, and then insisting he’d told Lom it had to be at the prison the next, so it looked like they’d been persuaded to reform.  Made it out like it was all Lom’s idea and he was just agreeing to it.

The man never said anything straight.  The way Lom liked it.

Oh no! 

Somehow, he had Lom cook up that cock and bull story about collecting a prisoner.  Then, just when Lom was thinking the boys may just go along with the idea, Moonlight went and shifted the date, to get the boys to the prison a day early, when he knew it was too late for Lom to call them back to Porterville.  Then tried to tell Lom that was his idea too.

As if Heyes… HEYES… would ever agree to spending the night in the cells, just to make the Governor look good for the press.  As if Kid… KID… would agree to shave his head and get dressed up in one of those prison uniforms.  Did Moonlight really think they would just meekly sit in a prison cell overnight!

The man could talk, but he wouldn’t listen. 

The whole thing was a mess!

Lom walked despondently back to the bed lost in thought.

And what was Moonlight’s genius suggestion, if the boys didn’t go along with it and just turned-tail and headed out for Canada? 

Well that’s alright, he’ll just grant amnesty to two other high profile prisoners. Like it wasn’t important at all, which two he granted amnesty to, just as long as the press got the message, that the prison was a place of reform: Not the bumbling den of incompetence last month’s escapes made it out to be.

Lom pulled back the counterpane and climbed wearily into bed, raising his eyes to the ceiling once more, this time in silent prayerful apology, to any omniscient deity, for all of man’s folly. He felt the weight, heavy on his shoulders, tonight.

And, what were the names of those other two prisoners Moonlight had cited as worthy candidates for his amnesty?  Clitterhouse, a former Sheriff, who had succumbed to greed, after a more or less blameless career, till then at least.  And Chester E. Powers, a banker, who had similarly surrendered to that terrible sin, after an unblemished life, mostly spent supporting many politicians of Moonlight’s acquaintance, apparently.

Lom’s eyes suddenly widened in recognition.  That was the banker that had set the boys up, to take the fall, when he robbed his own bank. 

Lom’s eyes rolled, as he groaned under the extra weight of guilt.  Heyes and Kid would never understand that he, Lom, had no real part in this mess. 

The ends of the copious moustache were chewed. 

Kid might even take exception to the fact that the Governor had reneged on Warren’s promise. He might seek revenge for all the wasted years of honesty.  And, what will Heyes do, when he finds out that on the day after Lom sent them to the prison, on a fool’s errand, Clitterhouse and Power were granted amnesty in their stead.

Lom closed his eyes and fell into a fitful, disturbed sleep.  In his dreams the boys, thin as whips and gaunt in their striped prison uniforms, haunted his every thought, clanking their chained wrists and taunting him at every turn. 
Demanding, what he thought he was doing, sending them to the Wyoming Territorial Prison, all those long, long years ago.  What was he thinking?

“What were you thinking?!” demanded Heyes in a hoarse whisper.

Groggily, Lom opened his eyes.  A shuttered lamp swam in the darkness very close to his face.  It lit the end of a Scofield pistol, that loomed large towards him, and behind that, Lom saw the penetrating, angry, dark-eyed glare of Hannibal Heyes.



---oooOOOooo---



                                  ...Ok ...left you hanging again... If its any comfort... I'm hanging too!

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PostSubject: McCord   Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:18 pm



Angus McCord was the last person Hannibal Heyes expected to see in the saloon in Centennial.  

Perhaps not the very last person, but a chill went down his spine.  There was no good reason for McCord to be in their new hometown.

McCord had caught Heyes’ eye, as if he had been sitting at that poker table, just waiting for Heyes or the Kid to walk into the place.

Heyes broke eye contact and casually strolled to the bar, intending to get a beer, and wait for the Kid to arrive, which was his original reason for entering the saloon.  They had come to town to complete some needed errands, and had planned to have a beer or two, and maybe play a game or two of poker before they returned to the ranch.

He scrubbed his face, while he waited for Ed, the bartender, to finish with one of the other local ranchers at the far end of the bar.  Heyes hazarded a glance at McCord, and was rewarded with an intense stare back, and a slowly spreading smile.  This worried him even further.

“Why Mr. Heyes,” Ed smiled as he poured the beer.  “How are you doing today?”

“Good, as ever, Ed,” Heyes returned the smile.   “Got the best wife in the world.”

“Mr. Curry might disagree with you,” Ed laughed.  “Heck, I better or Martha will tan my hide.”

Heyes smiled wider, and nodded.  “Ain’t that the truth, Ed.  Luckily we all have wonderful wives.”

Ed shook his head, but then nodded.  He started to go back to washing his glasses, but Heyes nodded towards the poker game.

“The new guy over there, with the red hair, he been here long?”

“Came in yesterday,” Ed paused.  “Was asking about you and the Kid.  Seemed to know you.”  Ed did not look happy.

Heyes sighed.  “Can’t say as he’s a friend, but yeah, we know him.”

“Glad to know he ain’t a friend exactly,” Ed replied.  “Not the type we’d want around Centennial.”  He smiled again at Heyes.  “We’re kind of particular.”

“So I’ve heard, Ed.”  Heyes smiled back, but then looked over towards McCord.  “Old Angus probably won’t cause problems, for the town, but I best go see why he’s here.”  Heyes took a deep drink of his beer, and was about to walk over to the poker table, when he looked over to see who was entering the batwing doors.  Old habits die hard, but this time he relaxed, just a bit.

Jedediah “Kid” Curry came strolling in with the mayor.  They had been discussing plans for a new school, but again old habits die hard.  Curry had done an automatic sweep of the saloon, looking for threats.  He acknowledged Heyes at the bar with a nod of his head, while continuing to listen to the Mayor. He also immediately came alert, after seeing the look in Heyes’ eyes, and glanced over towards the poker table.  His eyes became still when he saw McCord.

“Here Mayor, let me buy you a drink,” Curry said affably, steering the mayor towards the bar and away from the stranger at the poker table.

“Well, it’s a bit early for me,” Mayor Jefferson protested, but just as eagerly took the mug that Ed offered.

“You and Mr. Curry get the planning for the school all sorted out?” Ed asked, wiping down the bar.  “My Martha is all excited.  She’s hoping a new school might encourage Ed Junior to do better with his studies, so he don’t end up tending bar like his pa.”

“Now this is a fine, upstanding establishment, Ed,” Mayor Jefferson countered.  As the bartender and the mayor continued in their conversation, Heyes excused himself and headed towards the poker table.

“You boys have an open spot?” Heyes asked with a smile that did not reach his eyes.

“For you, Heyes, always,” Charlie Summers drawled.  He was another of the local ranchers, who played poker well enough to learn to enjoy playing with Hannibal Heyes.  He had come up from the south after the war, but was now a fierce, loyal citizen of Wyoming, as most of the locals were.

“Why, if it ain’t Angus McCord?” Heyes’ smile was brittle, but he extended his hand out to McCord, who had no choice but to shake it.

“Been a long time, Heyes,” McCord answered, warily looking from him, and then over to Curry.  “See you got the Kid with you.”

“As always, McCord.”  Heyes’ eyes took on a hard sheen, but then he visibly relaxed, and smiled at the other players.  “But enough talkin’.  I’m ready to play.”

A collective breath came from the other players, and Billy, one of the hands from the livery stable, laughed briefly.  “Sounds good, Heyes.”  As the townsfolk had found out, it was always interesting playing poker with Hannibal Heyes, and not always in the same way.


The game proceeded quietly enough for several hands.  Eventually Billy had to leave for his shift at the livery, and the Kid sat down to join them.

“Right nice to see you, too, Kid,” McCord smiled widely at Curry, who did not smile back.

“What brings you to town, McCord?” the Kid asked.

“Come to visit with you two.”  Angus McCord’s eyes danced.  “Got some business to discuss.”

Ears pricked up around the table, as everyone was wondering exactly how Angus McCord knew Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  A few drifters came through town occasionally, asking for the former leaders of the Devil’s Hole gang.  Most were harmless, like the pair that usually looked a bit worse for the wear, a tall, stocky man with a mustache who was always accompanied by a shorter, slighter dishwater blonde, who enjoyed his chew a bit too much.  

Some of these individuals wandered back out of town after a glimpse of the sheriff.  Some left after a word from Heyes or the Kid.  Some were simply men who had wanted to meet the famous former outlaws.

It was usually those who had a rough look and wore tied down guns that worried the townsfolk, but not always.  Wheat and Kyle, as many had learned were the names of the duo who had visited more than once, seemed harmless enough, even with their six guns always visible.  Angus McCord did not wear his gun tied low, but stuffed in his jacket pocket.  It had been visible a few times as he shifted during the poker game, but it did not seem to occur to him that it might bother some of the other players.

At the table, it was only Heyes and Curry who wore their guns tied down.  Some old habits die hard.  The townsfolk had chosen to ignore this habit of the boys, figuring they might still need those guns, depending on who exactly did come through town.

Eventually, the rest of the players had drifted away to other pursuits, after no interesting conversation had occurred between the boys and this new stranger in town.  When it was just Heyes, Curry, and McCord at the table, Heyes signaled Ed to bring out a bottle and three glasses.  After an initial shot, Heyes set down his glass and looked at McCord.

“So, why are you here?”  Heyes’ eyes were hard.

“No, it’s great to see you?  Come on out to the house?”  McCord laughed softly.  Then his gaze turned towards Curry.  “What about you, Kid?  Not even a hello?”

“I thought we told you years ago that it would be best if we never saw you again.”  The Kid’s eyes were glacial.

McCord’s laugh was louder this time, attracting some attention from Ed, who looked over briefly, until he met the Kid’s gaze.  Then he became very busy cleaning glasses.

“But that was back when we were all at the Hole still.”  McCord’s eyes became as still as the Kid’s.  “Before you two kicked me out.”

“When you blew that safe at Gillette,” Heyes paused, controlling himself.  

“And injured Hank and Lobo,” the Kid continued.

“Not to mention the townsfolk, that little girl and her mother.”  Heyes eyes glittered.  “What choice did we have?”

McCord simply continued to smile.  “Never knew how you two held onto control at Devil’s Hole, as squeamish as you were about hurting folks.”  He looked from one to the other.  “Never believed the rumors about you two either.  Yet here you are, together, even after getting married.”

Instinctually the Kid’s right arm started to move until Heyes grabbed it.  

“That’s all past history.”  Heyes’ voice was low and harsh.  “Tell me why you are here now.”

“Why to meet your nice families.  You don’t seem very inclined to introduce me,” McCord’s eyes glittered.  “But I’ve seen them around town already.”

Heyes took his hand away from the Kid, who settled into an all too familiar stance.

“Is that why you’ve come here then?” Heyes laugh was dry, and scary.  “To threaten us?”

“You know, that was my first thought,” McCord was not fazed by the dark looks from either of the former outlaws.  “But I came up with a better idea.”

“What?” Heyes’ voice sharpened further.

“I want you to teach me to open a Pierce and Hamilton 1878.”  McCord’s smile became a bit sharp itself.

“Can’t do it,” Heyes shook his head.  “It would jeopardize our amnesty.”

“No, Heyes, I don’t want you to come with me,” McCord shook his head.  “I just want you to tell me how.”

Heyes was silent for a moment.

“You do know how dangerous it is,” Curry interjected.  “It’s one of the reasons we left the business.  I figured eventually Heyes would blow us both up.”

McCord shook his head.  “Obviously not, since you did it more than once.”

“Not by choice,” Heyes replied.

“Not by either of our choices,” the Kid reiterated.

“But you still did.” McCord insisted.  “Knowing you, Heyes, you had to have it figured out perfectly.”

Heyes paused again, but then nodded.  “Yes, had to, or we would have indeed blown up.”  He smiled briefly at the Kid, but then focused back on McCord.  “You just want a supply list?”

“And detailed instructions.”  McCord’s face was covered by a gleaming smile.

“If I give you what you want, what guarantee do I have that you won’t be back here again?” Heyes asked.

“You don’t,” McCord said shortly.  “But at least I’ll leave for now.”

Heyes was again still.  Then he nodded.

“Heyes, you sure about this?”  The Kid looked towards Heyes.

“Don’t appear to have much of a choice, do I?” A brief smile crossed his face, but his eyes were hard.

“No, you don’t,” McCord laughed dryly.

“I have one condition.” Heyes captured McCord’s gaze.

“You aren’t in much of a position to bargain, Heyes.”  McCord’s voice hardened.

“It’s the only way I’ll do this,” Heyes stated.

“Well, what is it?”  McCord sounded impatient.

“I’ll dictate the steps, but you have to write them down.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want any evidence that I gave you this information.”

“Heyes, I always heard you were a cautious SOB,” McCord shook his head.  “Sure, you tell me, and
I’ll write it down.”  He pulled out a notebook and pencil.  “Ready?”

Heyes scrubbed his face and sighed.

“Always.”


“Here, let me double-check what you wrote down,” Heyes reached for the notebook, but McCord hesitated.  “Don’t want to you blow yourself up,” he said harshly.  “Be bad for my reputation.”  His hand was still out.  Eventually McCord handed over the book.

“Uh huh, uh huh,” Heyes read down the list.  “Oh, see here,” he pointed to the amount of nitro needed.  “You wrote down too much.”  Heyes smiled at McCord, but there was something in his eyes that seemed to bother the other man.  “Hand me your pencil and I’ll fix it.”  Again, Heyes held out his hand.  He crossed out and corrected the figure, and then snapped the book shut, giving it back to McCord.  There was a brilliantly sharp smile on Heyes’ face.

McCord opened the notebook to the instructions.  “No, I’m certain I wrote down exactly what you told me.”  He looked up at Heyes. “You trying to change something so this doesn’t work?”

“Wouldn’t I have increased the amount if I wanted to give you wrong information?” Heyes said blandly.

McCord looked down now, uncertainty on his face.

“I told you, McCord, this scheme of Heyes’ always made me worry.”  The Kid shook his head.  “I know he’s smart but there’s always a first time.”

McCord glared at the partners.  “If this doesn’t blow the safe, I’ll be back.”  He smiled harshly.  “With friends.”

“It’ll work,” Heyes assured him.  “Just follow what I corrected.”

McCord put away the book.  “I certainly will, Heyes.”


Curry and Heyes were on their way back to the ranch, after seeing McCord off on the four o’clock train.  It had been a quiet ride.

“The amount you told him at first was wrong,” the Kid said, looking over at the person he trusted the most in the world.

“No, Kid,” Heyes paused, and then looked Curry in the eye.  “He wrote it down wrong.”

The Kid looked away, but shook his head.  “No, I remember what you told him.”  He caught Heyes’ eyes again.  “I do listen to you, you know.”

Heyes just kept his gaze for a moment and then looked off into the hills approaching their home.  “Well, he has it right now.”

“And that amount is the only thing written in your hand.”  The Kid continued to look at his cousin, but then looked down the road when he did not receive a return glance.

“When did you ever get so smart, Kid?”  Heyes laughed dryly.

“Always been this smart, Heyes.  Couldn’t have kept up with you otherwise.”

Heyes just nodded.

They rode quietly for a while longer.

“You thought that was necessary?” the Kid finally asked.

“Yes.”  It was quiet for a few minutes, but Heyes finally had to respond.  “He’d just be back, Kid.  One way or another, he’d come back.”

“We ever gonna be able to live a normal life?” the Kid asked shaking his head.

Heyes looked off into the setting sun.  “I seriously doubt it, Kid, but I’m trying my best to keep us all safe.”

They paused at the rise before the valley leading into the ranch, relishing all the activity they could see below.

“Me too, Heyes.”

It was almost two months later, when Heyes read the article in the Cheyenne newspaper.  It was the first known catastrophic failure of a Pierce and Hamilton 1878.  There were theories that either the safecracker had used an excessive amount of nitroglycerin or the seals on the safe had failed.  The ‘78s were getting older, so even with the sealing putty the safecracker had used, remnants of which were found in the rubble, excess nitro may have leaked out.

Of the actual safecracker, there were also a few remnants.  An engraved watch had been flung out of the window at the time of the blast, or his identity might never had been determined.  Angus McCord was known to quite a few lawmen across the West, many who were surprised that he had attempted a P&H ’78, even as long as they had been in use.

The identification of the attempted thief did silence those that had insisted it had to be one of the remaining members of the Devil’s Hole gang, if not Hannibal Heyes himself coming out of retirement.  Others had scoffed at this, saying if it were Heyes, he would not have blown himself up, as McCord had.

After Heyes had finished reading the article twice, he folded the newspaper and slipped it under a stack of books in their library.  The Kid had read it before he had given it to Heyes.  He had given Heyes a stoic look as he handed him the paper.  So many words had silently passed between them in that instant.

Heyes had wandered out onto the back porch of their home, looking over the peaceful hills.  It was there that his wife had found him.  Their son, Little Jed, had gone down for a nap, so she came to see how her other boy was doing.  She came to his side, and put her arm around his waist.  He started, as if just realizing she was there.  It was not a reaction she had ever seen from him before.  He was usually hypersensitive to his surroundings.

“It wasn’t your fault.”  She stared out at the darkening hills.

Heyes turned to look at her.

“Jedediah’s wife told me that McCord had been in town but had left after a talk with you two.”

He turned to embrace her, gathering her into his arms.  “Are you so certain?”

“Did you give him the correct instructions?”

“Yes, but,” he started.

She shook her head, placing her hand on his cheek.

“I played with his mind.”

She laughed harshly.   “Hannibal Heyes, if you are going to blame yourself for every idiot who you could out think...”

“No,” Heyes resolutely shook his head.  “I purposely played with the amount of nitroglycerin I told him.  And I didn’t mention that the seals might be drying out by now.”

“Did he ask?”

“He wouldn’t know to ask.”  Heyes tried to pull away from her arms, but she wouldn’t let him.  “I purposely did not tell him.”  He looked out into the hills.  “I wanted him gone, away from you, and our little Jedediah, and the Kid and his family.”

She folded herself into his arms, and Heyes did finally relax, but only a bit.




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