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 Ice

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PostSubject: Ice   Ice EmptyThu Jan 31, 2019 6:03 am

Time for a new challenge, and let's face it. It's too cold to do anything other than sit indoors and write. So use this time to give me your best take on the prompt in 4,000 words or less. This month your challenge is


cold Ice cold


Apart from the obvious meaning, it can also relate to decorating a cake, diamonds, to kill, or to put something aside to be attended to later. 


You can also have any other spin you can bring on the prompt too.


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before moving on to February, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.    
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Ice   Ice EmptySun Feb 03, 2019 6:34 pm

OThe clattering of a fork on a tin plate caused Heyes to shift restlessly on the bed and mumble incoherently.  The Kid put his plate down and glared at the offending diner.  The little miner’s lantern he carried in his saddlebags sat on the counter and provided him scant light.  


Mac was oblivious to his scrutiny, all his attention was on wolfing down the roasted porcupine as fast as his throat allowed.  He’d been ravenous for what seemed like days; now his stomach stretched to the breaking point.  He didn’t even look up as Curry rose and went to his partner.  


The Kid felt Heyes’ forehead for the umpteenth time that evening.  It was still hot, but was it as hot as it had been?  He lifted a corner of the blanket and peered at the wounded foot.  The bleeding had stopped a long time ago and the swelling had gone down as the pus was drawn out.  It appeared the pine tar was working but he’d know more by morning.  Judging from Heyes’ ravings it was going to be a long night.


Curry dropped the blanket and adjusted the shaggy, dark head so it was centered on a folded saddle pad he was using for a pillow.  It pained him that he couldn’t provide better for Heyes.  He deserved more than this squalor.   Everything about this cabin reeked.  The odor of rodents warred with the rancid stink of bear and raccoon.  Somewhere along the line this place had become as wild as the land that surrounded it.


The Kid turned to the small cooking pot filled with cooling water and dipped a mug in it.  He slightly lifted Heyes’ head and held the mug to his lips; managing to get a few sips in his partner.   He soaked his bandana in the water then wrung out the sodden scarf and gently wiped the sweat from Heyes’ face, talking softly all the while.


“You’re doin’ great, Heyes.  You keep on fightin’.  You can beat this.  I know you can.”


Empty brown eyes flew open and searched his face without recognition.  “No!” cried Heyes.  With a moan his eyes slid shut and his head thrashed from side to side before his energy was spent once again and he started to drift away.


“Shh, partner.  I’m here.  Stay with me.”  


“Geez, Curry, you sound like his mama.  Folks say you two’re close but not that close,” Mac chuckled.  He’d finished his meal and was watching the blond outlaw’s gentle ministrations.


Deliberately, the Kid put the cloth back in the pot and straightened Heyes’ coverings.  He waited until he’d reined in his temper before turning around to face his irritating prisoner.  Having loosened one of Mac’s hands so he could eat with his plate awkwardly balanced on his lap, Curry now removed the plate and roughly secured Mac’s arm with the other one that was still tied to the post.  


He took the dishes outside and vigorously scrubbed them clean spending some of his pent up ire. He scattered the picked-clean bones, kicked dirt over the coals, and watched the smoke peter out as it reached for the stars.  The stars.  The night sky had cleared, the smoke had dissipated without him even realizing it, and a soft breeze caressed his face.  There was a sharp freshness in the air and it was noticeably cooler.  Looking up he stared at the Milky Way vividly splashed across a darkening background.  He could hear the peaceful jangle of the horses’ hobbles as the animals grazed the meadow.  Normally, he loved when the night moved in to sweep away the day.  But not now, not here.  


Absentmindedly, he scratched his chest and felt the thick envelope he’d tucked inside his shirt a couple of days ago.  What would happen with the amnesty?  There was still enough time to get it to the governor, but just barely.  It’d take some hard riding and good luck to make it.  The Kid shook his head, it didn’t matter, he couldn’t leave Heyes.  With a deep sigh, he faced the soft glow of the cabin’s open door and wondered what morning would bring.  If Heyes died…no, he couldn’t think about that.  He had to focus on the here and now.  Do what needed to be done.


Mac watched Curry come through the door towards him.  Was this it?  Had he’d eaten his last meal?    If so, it was a lousy one.  He’d been surprised and confused when Curry had fixed him a plate and untied his hand so he could eat.  Why bother feeding a condemned man?  He certainly hadn’t wasted food on Heyes.  Maybe Curry really was soft.  He grinned ruefully.  That kind of thinking would get him killed sooner rather than later.  


“What’re you smilin’ at?” snapped the Kid.  What was it with this guy?  He seemed amused by nearly everything, like he was literally trying to laugh himself into an early grave.


“Nothin’, just smilin’” Mac squirmed.  “I gotta go.  You gonna take me outside or should I add to the stink?”


The Kid untied him and shoved him through the door, following a few steps behind with his gun drawn.  “I’m coverin’ you so don’t try anything.” 


“Believe me, there’s only one thing on my mind right now,” said Mac, fumbling with his britches as he stepped off the porch.


“Well, get it done.  I’m not bringin’ you out again before daylight.”  


Turning his back to Curry, Mac asked, “You mind givin’ me some privacy?”


“Have I given you some reason to think I’m stupid?” asked the Kid sarcastically as he kept his gun trained squarely on Mac’s torso.


“A man can hope,” laughed Mac as he performed under watchful eyes.  “You know what the good book says ‘hope is the anchor of the soul’.”


“Just overflowin’ with pearls of wisdom, ain’t you?”  The Kid thought for a moment and asked, “Why’d you help Heyes with the pine tar?  You’d done everything you could to kill him up ‘til then.”


“Why’d you feed me?” countered Mac.


“Why wouldn’t I?” 


Mac studied the man before him and saw genuine perplexion.  Curry had never thought twice.  Mac felt a momentary bloom of shame over his own actions, but he quickly shook it off and considered why he’d helped Heyes.  


“Guess you’re right.  Don’t make much sense, does it?”  Mac jiggled and buttoned up.  “I suppose I feel different now than I did then.  I didn’t think he was gonna last long either way so why not make it easy on myself.”


“What d’you mean he wasn’t gonna last long?  We’re looking at twenty years not a death sentence,” challenged Curry.


“Well, Heyes has made more’n his fair share of enemies and I reckon some of ‘em are just waitin’ for ‘im to get caught.  Don’t matter much whether they’re on the right or the wrong side of the law, they’re gunnin’ for your partner…and you.  Heyes was on his way to prison or, if I turned ‘im into the wrong lawman, the noose.  Either way, he was a dead man walkin’.”


“So you figured you may as well shoot him in the foot and let him suffer?” Anger colored the Kid’s face.


Mac shrugged, “Like I said, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Of course, if’n I’d known he was gonna kill Dickey, I’d have put that bullet straight through his head.”


“Dickey?  Who’s Dickey?”  The Kid’s concern for his partner grew.  Had Heyes killed someone?  Was that why he was so restless?  


“Dickey was Andy’s horse,” said Mac, “and your partner killed him.”  He started to walk towards Curry but the unwavering Colt brought him up short.  “You lettin’ me back in or are we doin’ this out here?”


Gesturing with his gun, the Kid growled, “Get inside.”


Once Mac was tied up again, Curry checked Heyes one last time and blew out the lantern.  He settled down next to the bed resting his head on the seat of his saddle.  He could hear both men breathing.  Heyes’ breaths coming softly and erratically; Mac’s quiet but steady.


“Who was Andy?” asked the Kid into the absolute blackness.  Several minutes passed and he gave up on getting an answer.  


He was just getting drowsy when Mac softly said, “He’s my boy.  We trained that horse together, the two of us.  Dickey was his pride and joy.”


The raw pain in Mac’s voice touched a nerve.  This man had shown no emotion over his own possible death, or Heyes’, but he was broken up by the loss of a horse.  The Kid replied, “I’m sorry,” without really thinking too hard on whether or not he was.  Strangely feeling the need to defend his partner, he added, “Heyes loves animals, he’d never have harmed your horse if he didn’t think you were gonna kill him.”


A strangled growl arose.  “I know it’s my own damn fault he’s gone!  I don’t need you tellin’ me so!”  


Kid sat in uncomfortable silence.  He didn’t know what to say.  After a while, he offered, “Maybe you can tell Andy Dickey died in an accident.  You know, sorta take the edge off it.”


“I can’t tell him nothin’--he’s dead.  They’re all dead.  That horse was the last thing I had of ‘em.  It’s my fault.  Everythin’s my fault.  Carrie asked me not to go to huntin’.  She’d asked me to stay home and help her put up preserves but I’d gotten it into my darn fool head I needed some time alone.”  Mac wailed, “Well, I’m as alone as they come now!”


Horrified by what he’d unleashed, the Kid sat in stunned silence.  He didn’t want to feel anything for Mac—not rage nor the sympathy that was pushing its way into his heart.


Mac couldn’t stop now no matter how much he wanted to.  He’d never spoken of that day to anyone but he knew he was going to spill his guts to Curry and he hated him for it.  “I left early that afternoon.  I should’ve finished reapin’ the wheat but I had a powerful need to go, so I left with barely a kiss good-bye.  Gave little Elsie a squeeze and, God forgive me; I gave no mind to Andy when he begged to come with.  I wanted to be alone. 


I knew Carrie didn’t understand, but she never complained ‘bout it when the feeling came over me.  We had meat stored, she knew we did, there weren’t no reason for me to ride off but she let me go without a word like she always did.  She comes, came, from a big family.  Me, I was an only child.  Sometimes I’d feel like life was drownin’ me--the need to provide, the kids, the noise of it all, and I’d take myself off for a few days to go fishin’ or huntin’.”


The Kid felt the misery radiating from the other side of the room.  He was pretty sure what was coming next, but he was no more able to stop the flow of Mac’s words than Mac was.


“I came back two days later.  The place was burnt to the ground.  The stock gone.  I found Andy out by the corral gate shot through the heart.  He must’ve turned Dickey loose rather than let ‘em take ‘im.  That horse was grazing along the edge of the hay field, not a hair on his head harmed.”  The choking voice continued, horror dripping from every word, “I found little Elsie in a ditch, trampled.  Carrie….oh, Carrie…”  The man broke down completely, keening at the top of his lungs.  It was a long time before the cries died away.


After a respectful wait, the Kid quietly asked, “Indians?” 


“It was goddamn outlaws!” yelled Mac venomously.  “Like you and your partner!”


“Hold on a minute!” Curry yelled back.  “Heyes and I’ve never done nothing like that.  We went out of our way not to hurt folks!”


Mac sputtered.  “You hurt folks!  You’re lyin’ to yourself if’n you think you don’t!”


Humiliated by the truth of it, the Kid was tongue-tied, “We…I…not like that!  We took money, not lives!  And we didn’t steal from regular folks, just the banks and the railroads!” 


“Whose money do y’think is in them banks and trains?”  


Silence descended again, broken only by pitiful whimpers from Heyes.  The Kid wondered if he’d heard them talking and was as upset as he was.


Mac’s voice softened to a whisper.  “That’s what I thought.  You don’t give no thought to who you’re hurtin’, you just take the money and run.  Well, it’s my job to see crooks like you stop runnin’.”


“Kid,” moaned Heyes.


Anxious to end the conversation, Curry scrambled to his feet knocking over the lantern before picking it up and re-lighting it.  He held it up over his partner and the light reflected off brown eyes still clouded by fever but looking up at him.  “Heyes, can you hear me?”


Mac ignored the two outlaws.  The pain of his confession was unbearable.  He wished Curry would kill him and be done with it.  What was he waiting for?  It was beginning to dawn on him that Kid Curry considered himself a principled man.  No doubt he was a killer but he was a dang choosy one.


“C-c-cold,” stuttered Heyes, his body convulsing under the covers.


The Kid felt Heyes’ forehead.  It was still hot. 


“How…find?” asked Heyes.


The Kid smiled gently, “I’ll always find you, y’know that.”


“I lost it.”


Mac’s ears pricked up.  What had Heyes lost?


“Shh, it’s all right,” soothed the Kid.


Heyes gripped his partner’s wrists with surprising strength.  His hands felt like ice. “No, I lost the envelope.  Our amnesty.”


The Kid glanced back at Mac who didn’t appear to have heard.  “Shut up, Heyes,” he hissed as quietly as he could.  “We’ve got company.”  


“All those years… gone.”  Heyes’ face grayed even further and his voice instantly weaker, his cold hands let go.


The Kid gave up worrying about who heard what.  “It’s all right, buddy.  I found it.  It’s right here, see?”  His left hand unbuttoned, then reached into his shirt, and pulled out a corner of the manila envelope.  The relief on Heyes’ face was palpable.  Curry looked over his shoulder again.  The interest on Mac’s was equally clear.


“What day?” croaked Heyes.


“It’s Monday, why?”


“Go.  Take it.  Now.”  Heyes tried to wave him off, but the Kid wasn’t budging.


“Forget it, I ain’t leavin’ you.”


“Go!”  Heyes started to become agitated and struggled to sit up but didn’t have the strength.  He flopped back down and begged, “Please.”


“Heyes, I can’t.  Mac’s here.  I found him, too, and I ain’t givin’ ‘im another chance to kill you.”


Mac had heard every word.  So, Heyes and Curry were going for an amnesty?  What damned fool governor would offer amnesty to the West’s most famous outlaws?!  One committin’ political suicide, that’s who.  


“Please,” repeated Heyes weakly as he went limp.


“Sorry, partner, it ain’t happenin’,” whispered the Kid.


Mac remembered the envelope of papers he’d scattered on the ground after he’d shot Heyes.  He’d never made it past second grade and couldn’t read much of anything past three letters.  Those must’ve been the amnesty papers.  The thought pleased him that he, Mac Lamford, might be the only thing standing between prison and freedom for these two.

_________________
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“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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MoulinP

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Ice Empty
PostSubject: Re: Ice   Ice EmptyWed Feb 27, 2019 8:09 am

Shamelessly borrowing some of this from a challenge I wrote in January 2016 and amended. When I was done with the first draft I realised that I had used some quotes from the show. Not sure if this will go anywhere but I do need to get the boys OFF the train. Hope next month's challenge helps.

Ice

The train slowed as it climbed the incline. However, it wasn’t just the incline that was making it move slowly. Cattle were milling around by the side and over the line. Ranch hands were desperately trying to drive the cows away before there was a serious accident. Not easy in the dark, even with a full moon like tonight or with spooked cattle.


Inside one of the boxcars were two somnambulant ex outlaws. Jumping on the train had been difficult. Heyes nearly didn’t make it and only the Kid’s help had avoided a disaster. The effort had taken a toll on both and they were dead to the world.


Waiting in the bushes by the side of the line was another unauthorised passenger. In fact, responsibility for stampeding the herd close to the line was theirs, providing the perfect cover under which to steal aboard the train. Today however, the train was shorter than usual and limited the possibility of a successful stowaway. A fact not considered by the prospective passenger.


Inside the makeshift dormitory car, the door sliding open disturbed the Kid. The gentle rocking of the train, however, kept him in the in-between world between sleep and wakefulness. Heyes meanwhile was oblivious to any external stimulus. When nothing further untoward intruded, the Kid smacked his lips before settling once more.


Then a louder sound did startle him awake and he automatically went for his gun. At the same time, he nudged Heyes with his foot. He jumped. “Waaa!”


“We’re getting company,” the Kid hissed.


The noise of the cattle was receding and they heard the door shut with a bang. Then came a much gentler sigh of relief. The Kid cocked his gun.


“Is someone there?” a voice asked. A young female voice.


The two ex-outlaws didn’t move but the third occupant did, scrambling to her feet.


“Come on out! Show yourself!” she demanded.


Although they could barely see, Heyes and the Kid grinned at each other. Experience told them, the train was about to accelerate rapidly.


“Er ma’am if I were you …,” the Kid started.


As he predicted, the train gathered pace again. A cry of surprise and a thud followed. Inside the boxcar, there was groans of pain, considerable unladylike swearing, and some ungentlemanly sniggering.


“Are you alright, ma’am?” the Kid asked in concern, the first to sober.


“Where are you? What are you doing in my boxcar?” came the angry reply.


“YOUR boxcar?” Heyes and the Kid chorused.


“Excuse me ma’am but I believe we were here first,” Heyes said.


“Oh so there’s two of you is there? Great!” the voice said, followed by more muttering neither of them caught. “Just my luck I have to pick the most populated … Come on show yourselves! Haven’t you got a match?”


“Er ma’am awful lot of things in here that don’t take too kindly to matches if ya see what I mean,” the Kid explained.


“How can I see what you mean if there’s no light!”


“I reckon we’re going fast enough Thaddeus. A little light wouldn’t hurt if we’re careful.”


The Kid holstered his gun and struck a match. The resultant light revealed a young, slim woman sitting on her hip. She wore a divided black riding skirt, black boots, a tweed hacking jacket and a lilac blouse frilled at the neck and cuffs. She had light brown hair, piled up on top of her head in a large bun. At least that had been the intention. Several long clumps had escaped the confines of the bun. Over her body, she carried a bulging bag.


“Howdy, ma’am,” the Kid grinned.


“Harrumph,” she sniffed, casting critical eyes over her two fellow passengers. “Could have been worse I suppose.”


Heyes was still leaning back on his elbows. He raised his eyebrows.


“Did she just …?”


Heyes looked up at the Kid for confirmation. Had they been judged and found wanting in some way?


“Yeah, Joshua. I think she just did.”


“Should we do something about it? Heyes asked the Kid.


“I’m warning you! I know martial arts!” She raised her hands in front of her ready to defend or to attack.


“Marshall Arts? Is he the law in Hardy City these days?” the Kid frowned.


Heyes rolled his eyes. “Ma’am, I apologise for my friend here,” Heyes smiled pleasantly and then turned to the Kid. “Thaddeus she’s suggesting a fighting style from the East.”


“How’s that different from how we fight here? When I went to Philadelphia that one time, they fought same as we do. Still hurt.”


“No. Further east than that.” Heyes frowned in irritation.


“New York?”


“No! The Far East. China.”


“If you two are quite finished with the geography lesson … You haven’t answered my question. What are you doing in my car?”


The Kid lit another match from the embers of the first.


“Same as you I reckon ma’am,” he said. “Just hitching a ride.”


“You’re going to Hardy City?” she asked.


“No ma’am. Just outside,” Heyes explained. “We plan to take our leave of the train a mile or so before. The track bends quite sharply there and the train has to slow down to negotiate round.”


“I know where you mean,” she mused, and then looked up. “Hardy City is two hours away. How’d I know I’m gonna be safe in your company ‘till then?” she demanded, thrusting out her chin challengingly.


Heyes and the Kid swopped glances.


“How’d we know we’ll be safe with you ma’am?” Heyes queried with a frown. “After all, you know martial arts,” he added, tongue in cheek.


The Kid dropped the match. “Owh!” It had burnt right down and onto his fingers. He had to stamp on it quickly before the straw on the floor caught alight.


“There’s a lantern hanging on the hook over by the door,” Heyes said, not attempting to get up.


When the Kid struck another match, he was looking at Heyes hard. Heyes just looked back innocently.


Sighing the Kid got up and went for the lantern. The woman drew back as he passed her, hands at the ready.


“You haven’t answered my question,” she said, eyeing the Kid warily.


“You haven’t answered mine,” Heyes shot back.


She tutted and shook her head in disbelief at his audacity.


The Kid returned and set the lantern on top of the crate behind Heyes.


“Now ain’t that better. Now we can all see each other not answering questions,” he grinned, lighting the lantern.


Heyes smiled up at the Kid. She was not so amused.


“Just don’t try anything,” she warned. “My hands are lethal weapons.”


Heyes smacked his lips in amusement.


“If it makes you feel any better ma’am, neither my partner nor me are that desperate for female company right now,” he said, trying to reassure her.


She looked doubtful. “Well don’t say I didn’t warn you ‘cos I have”


“We’re well and truly warned ma’am,” the Kid nodded. He sat back down besides Heyes.


She settled back against the door, still regarding them warily.


Heyes and the Kid swopped glances and something passed between them.


“We’ve gotta long way to go. Why don’t we introduce ourselves?” Heyes smiled. “I’m Joshua Smith. This here’s my partner, Thaddeus Jones.”


“Kat,” she mumbled. “Kat Mallory.”


“So er what brings a lady like yourself to go jumpin’ onto a movin’ train? In the middle of the night an’ all?” the Kid asked.


Kat thrust out her chin. “That’s my business,” she said, haughtily.


Heyes and the Kid looked at each other. Okay they got it. She didn’t want to talk. Heyes lay down again and put his hat over his eyes. The Kid took out his gun and inspected it. He would like to clean it but his saddlebags with his cleaning equipment in were over by her. Somehow, he didn’t think she’d take too kindly if he moved. Yet the compulsion to idle away a few hours was too strong.


As soon as the Kid started to move, Kat was on alert.


“What are you doing?” she demanded.


“Jus’ going for my saddlebags, ma’am.” He pointed behind her.


Heyes had raised his head and his hat. From there, what happened next appeared to happen in slow motion. Yet somehow, he still didn’t have time to react. The Kid bent to reach his saddlebags. At the same time, Kat picked them up and swung them in his direction. The Kid didn’t have time to swerve away and something bulky hit him in the mouth.


“Aagh!”


The Kid fell back, holding his mouth, knocking into the crate on which the lantern was sitting. Now Heyes did react. He grabbed for the lantern to prevent it toppling over and risking a conflagration, but his hand touched the glass.


“Aagh!”


Somehow, Heyes managed to right the lantern before they all met a fiery end.


Kat gave a squeak and covered her mouth with her hand. She stared at the two men in pain. That she’d caused. Then she decided that she was only culpable for one injury and that was clearly the more serious.


“Oh, Mr Jones, are you okay?” She crawled over to him. “Here let me see.” She tried to remove his hand.


“No thank you ma’am,” the Kid said, eyeing her suspiciously. With one hand, he fished out a bandana from his saddlebags and held it to his bleeding lip.


Not before Kat had seen the damage, she’d done and she winced. “That lip looks like it needs some ice.”


“I could use some ice,” Heyes grumbled, shaking his stinging fingers.


“Well we don’t have any ice. It’s jus’ a little blood. It’ll soon stop.” I hope, the Kid’s expression added.


Kat was still trying to help. The Kid was fending her off as well as staunching the blood from his lip.


“Ma’am, Ma’am! If ya don’t mind I got this.” She sat back on her heels and pressed her lips together contritely. The Kid waved her away. “Jus’ go back over there.”


Kat crawled back to where she’d been. “I really am very sorry.”


“I’m good by the way,” Heyes grimaced. When he didn’t even receive a look, he groaned. The
Kid and ladies. Again! He sighed. “Well that was certainly one way to break the ice,” he said, philosophically. “Now how about you telling us why a young lady, such as yourself, is jumping onto trains in the middle of the night?”


Kat decided she now owed them an explanation. “I’m a journalist.” She paused. “Well trying to be. I’m writing a series of pieces on out of the ordinary experiences. I think they should be as authentic as possible. Don’t you think?” No reply. “So I’m researching the lives of hobos and I wanted to experience jumping onto trains. ‘Cos that’s what they do. I’m told.”


Heyes pursed his lips and nodded. “Mmmm.” He looked over at the Kid. “You can’t beat authentic experiences. Can you Mr Jones?”


The Kid ignored him and the reference to Annabelle. “Seems a little risky to me ma’am,” the Kid said, bandana still pressed to his lip. “You were lucky enough to run into us on this occasion. There’s a lot of bad people who ride the rails.”


“I think she’ll be alright. She knows martial arts y’know,” Heyes informed him.


Kat ignored Heyes and addressed the Kid. “I’m beginning to realise that, Mr Jones,” Kat said. “Women are breaking into journalism all over the world and I want to be one of them. I don’t want to spend my life covering the arts, domestic science and fashion!” She spat the last word with contempt. “I want to write interesting and thought provoking pieces but I can’t do that unless I’ve experienced some of these things for myself. I’d never to be taken seriously.”


Heyes nodded. He was all for women having the chance to do things traditionally only men did but he wasn’t too sure he liked the risks they would take to do them. He was working up to telling her that when she spoke again.


“So now I’ve told you why I’M here. Why are YOU here? Neither of you look like hobos.”


“Oh, that’s easy. We’re not.” Heyes pulled himself up to set his back against the crate that held the lantern, and stretched his legs out in front him, crossed at the ankle. “Exactly.”


The Kid gave a low groan. He could sense a story coming on. He wasn’t disappointed.


“See Thaddeus here is being married next week. To the mayor’s daughter as it happens. Lovely girl. We’re on our way back from Medicine Bow, where we were picking up our church suits for the wedding. They cost a little more than we figured and we didn’t have the money for a train back.”


Kat looked from one to the other. To Heyes smiling pleasantly and to the Kid, with his eyes closed, shaking his head slightly.


“You’re getting married? Next week?”


It was Heyes, who answered before the Kid could think of a reply.


“Yes ma’am. Although … .” He winced at the Kid. “Might have to be delayed for a day or two now. Until he heals up.” He put a hand to his mouth, pulled a face and shook his head. “Photographs.”


Kat whimpered. “Oh, Mr Jones I’m so sorry.”


The Kid nodded, graciously. At the same time, he gave Heyes a disgusted look.
Kat narrowed her eyes.


“If you were going to pick up your church suits, where are they?”


Heyes seemed unfazed by the question. “In our saddlebags of course. They don’t look that commodious but I can assure you they are. Quite magical you might say, spacewise. I reckon it musta been one of Thaddeus shoes that socked him in the mouth.” He smiled pleasantly and looked innocent.


The Kid reminded of his injury, winced. Magic saddlebags? He’d heard it all now.


Kat looked from one to the other again. “Mr Smith,” she began, checking their expressions again. “I think … you’re pulling my leg.”


Heyes gave her a dazzling smile. “Oh I can see not much gets passed you, Miss Mallory. Intuition like that will make you a fine journalist.”


Kat seemed pleased at the compliment. “So you’re not really getting married next week?” She was relieved and directed her question at the Kid.


“Oh no that parts true. We were only MEASURED for our church suits. They’re being delivered next week,” Heyes informed her. “So what was it that …? Oh I know. Musta been one of Thaddeus’ dirty socks. They can harden to small rocks if left too long.”


“Joshua,” the Kid sighed, with well-worn weariness. When Heyes looked over, he added. “Shut up.”


Heyes smirked and held up his hand in surrender.


“So if you were only being MEASURED for your church suits, you wouldn’t have to pay for them until they were ready so … .” Kat looked meaningfully at Heyes to explain why they still had a lack of funds.


“Er … .”


The Kid looked over with interest. How WAS Heyes going to explain that one? He waited and waited. Then he grinned, realisation dawning. Whoops, was the dark haired, silver-tongued ex outlaw ACTUALLY struggling?


“Gambling,” the Kid said, deciding it was down to him to help out. “Yes ma’am. See Joshua here thought he had a sure-fire double our money hand. In fact he didn’t. So here we are riding the rails. Like hobos.” He paused. “Gentleman hobos of course.”


“What Thaddeus means is that I have a wife and little baby boy waiting for me at home. And Thaddeus’ … .” Heyes chewed his lip. “Fiancée is from a god-fearing family and neither would understand … .”


“Joshua’s shameful slip-up,” the Kid interrupted, helping out again. He shook his head at the calamity of it. “So all things considered, ma’am, this is the best way.” He deliberately ignored the daggers he knew were coming his way.


Kat nodded. “I understand.” Kat took out a pencil and notepad from her bag. “Mr Smith, you said the two of you were planning to get off the train BEFORE it gets to Hardy City.”


“Yes ma’am.”


“Would you mind telling me how you propose to do that?” She opened the notepad and prepared to take notes.


Heyes glanced over at the Kid and licked his lips. After all, HE was doing their talking for them now. Nothing was forthcoming and he looked back at Kat.


“Well ma’am, we’re gonna have to jump off.”


“And just how does one do that?”


Heyes swallowed hard. After his experience getting on, he had been trying hard not to think about getting off until it was time to do so.


“With a great deal of care.”


“The secret is to tuck and roll ma’am,” the Kid said.


“Tuck and roll?”

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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elleree

elleree

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Join date : 2018-07-09

Ice Empty
PostSubject: Re: Ice   Ice EmptyThu Feb 28, 2019 6:03 am

Here is the next part of "Dam Shame." At least they're at the cabin..
***
Fire, Hannibal Heyes thought as he staggered inside and closed the door. He had to start a fire. Using hands he couldn’t feel, he put the bar in place over the door and stumbled toward the cast iron, pot-belly stove.


“Kid, I’m back,” Heyes muttered. “We made it.”


He flexed his hands several times and would have pulled off his gloves, but he couldn’t summon the dexterity. Instead, he grabbed the ash shovel and bucket in what seemed to be a molasses slow movement. Every thought and action was taking too long to connect.


Kid made a noise and Heyes turned.


“Kid?”


He waited, but his partner didn’t stir, so Heyes finished cleaning the firebox. His shaking hands ensured that a cloud of dust rose, making him cough.


“B-brilliant,” he murmured to himself as he covered the bottom of the stove with tinder.


Heyes paused as he finished his task and blinked his brown eyes. He’d started a fire thousands of times, but he was having difficulty thinking of the steps.  Difficulty thinking at all.


Dampers. Right. They needed adjusting, but though he tried, his hands couldn’t really manage it. Instead he put in the small branches then the larger ones, stacked sideways because… Because… It made better air flow for the flames, right.


Heyes swallowed. The awareness that his quick wits were dull was almost as disturbing as the situation they were in. But snow addled or not, Heyes knew he had to start the fire and thaw himself out so he could help Kid.  


“Lightin’ our own b-bonfire, Jed,” Heyes said as he fished for the nearby matches and fumbled with one. His fingers weren’t cooperating and he dropped it twice but finally, finally the match flared and he got the fire started. After a moment, Heyes closed the stove door.


He was exhausted and sat down on a chair next to the stove. Kid was on the cot, they were inside, and the fire was lit. Maybe now he could take a second to rest. His eyes closed.


Eventually Hannibal Heyes fell off the chair and into the wall.


*


Jed ‘Kid’ Curry was in a fog. Not awake, just semi aware. He heard Heyes talking and he tried to respond, but his mouth wouldn’t work. He didn’t know where they were or what was happening, but he breathed easier knowing his partner was there. The blonde slid back into insensibility.
A thump broke through the darkness and Jed ‘Kid’ Curry’s blue eyes opened to slits to see a wall. He was lying on his stomach on the pallet bed in the small trapper’s cabin. We made it. But where was Heyes? He’d been hurt, half frozen…


“Heyes?” Kid croaked. He cleared his throat and repeated himself.


No answer.


“Heyes?” Kid opened his eyes the rest of the way. Unfortunately, thanks to the position of the bed, he couldn’t see anything.


Gritting his teeth, Curry got up on his right elbow. He’d been hit on the left but the pain still intensified with movement. Ignoring the agony, Kid fought to roll over onto his side so he could sit up. It took far more effort than it should have and he was panting at the end of it. Dizzy and weak, Kid had just managed to get to a seated position when he saw his partner splayed out on the floor.


“Heyes!” Kid sprang off the cot to help his friend. He managed several steps through sheer will before the room spun and his eyes started to darken. The blonde dropped to his knees and stayed conscious despite the jar to his shoulder. Cursing under his breath, Curry kept his eyes closed and took deep breaths. He felt feeble and drained, but most of all he felt furious at himself for his weakness. He’d have to push through it.


Dizzy and unable to walk upright? Fine. Kid knee-walked to Heyes.


“Heyes?” Kid asked again as he got close, sitting down. Heyes was ice cold and crumpled up against the wall in what had to be an uncomfortable position. He gently turned his friend’s head to face him.


Heyes was pale and his lips were blue tinged. The blood trickling onto his face from his hair stood out in dark contrast against his skin. Kid fervently hoped Heyes had hit Dustin equally as hard and wished he’d tossed the man in the water.


“Heyes, I’m gonna have to move you a little,” Kid said to his friend. He wanted him away from the wall, which was cold, and actually in front of the stove. Not to mention in a more comfortable position.


Jaw clenched and face white, Curry took hold of his friend’s coat collar with his good arm and began tugging. Heyes barely moved and Kid knew it was his own lack of strength.


“Guess it’s good for once that you’re so skinny,” he muttered.


Gritting his teeth, the blonde called on his determination—what Heyes would call stubbornness—and kept pulling him forward. Heyes had come back for him and he’d got them to the cabin, and Kid was going to take care of him no matter what. It was what they did.


When he finally got him situated, the gunman knee-walked back to the cot and grabbed the blankets. He had to rest, palms on the cot, when he got there. Curry was trembling and felt faint, too, but he was mainly annoyed with his lack of strength.


As soon as he felt less woozy, Kid got Heyes out of the wet clothes and tucked the blankets around his cousin as best he could with one arm. The pain made him feel like he needed to vomit; or maybe it was the blood loss.


“Heyes?” Kid asked, lightly tapping his cheek. “C’mon, Heyes, y’can wake up anytime. Ya already died once today, don’t do it to me again...”


The dark haired man didn’t respond and Curry glanced around looking for their saddlebags. He needed to get Heyes into dry clothes and he needed to heat some water. A cursory glance only revealed the stove, the pantry shelves, the table with two chairs, and the bed.


Kid started to push himself upright and lost his balance again. “Great,” he muttered.


Good thing he was a stubborn sun of a gun. He knee-walked to get a kettle from the shelves and the bucket next to the front door, holding both handles in one hand. Using the bar securing it the entry as a handle, Kid pulled himself upright and when his vision blackened, he clung to it.


He had to get water. He had to get the saddlebags. He had to stay conscious.


Heyes needs me. Kid kept the mantra going in his head. Heyes needs me. He repeated it as he listed outside and dipped the kettle and bucket into the snow. Then he headed back, pausing to lean his right side carefully against the doorframe for a little rest. Exhaling, he finished the journey in and put the kettle of snow on the stove and the bucket on the floor. He sat for a moment next to his partner, just focusing on remaining conscious.


“C’mon Heyes, talk to me.” He gently shook his partner but didn’t get a response. “All right, keep on ignorin’ me like usual…just…” Kid’s voice got quieter. “Just wake up eventually.”


The younger man took in a long breath and let it out before forcing himself upright and outside to the barn to get the saddlebags. Curry was in front of the building when he doubled over and sank to his knees. He fisted his hands and waited for the nausea to pass before he forced himself upright.


Both horses looked at Kid expectantly as he entered; his black let out a soft whicker in greeting. No doubt the gelding had the expectation of a treat and was also eager for Kid to get the gear off him. The barn was small, the floor hard packed dirt covered with straw, with two stables plus hay storage, but it was surprisingly warm.


Kid tried to move his left arm experimentally but pain shot through him as if he’d been shot again and if he hadn’t grabbed onto a stall, he’d have gone down. So Curry couldn’t finish tending the horses, but he did manage to loosen the cinches and make sure they had access to hay. The hay was good, not moldy, and the stable had a trough of snow melt water, though it should be swapped with fresh water from the creek later after he knew Heyes was okay. Supposing he was conscious later.


“That’ll have to do for now, fellas,” he murmured.


Kid searched the saddlebags, found the one with medical supplies and alcohol, and debated between that and the one with Heyes’ clothes. Finally he shoved some of the clothes inside the medical saddlebags and carried the bag low to the ground, unable to lift it without it pulling on his shoulder. He paused at the entrance of the small barn to rest and focus on staying upright. Curry was exhausted enough that he already felt like he was sleepwalking.


The snow had continued to fall steadily and the ground was covered. The cabin looked warm and inviting with the smoke drifting up from the chimney. Kid frowned at the size of the smoke, hoping the snow would cover their tracks and they wouldn’t be discovered when he stepped on a patch of ice. His feet slid out from under him, he was unable to catch himself, so he fell. Pain seared through him, then nothingness. After he landed, Kid remained still, eyes closed, the snowflakes falling steadily on top of him.


Jedidiah Curry was home. Not his current version of home—wherever he and Heyes happened to be—but his first home with his family. He was in bed, snuggled up into the feather mattress, and underneath the quilt his grandmother had made. 

Something was wrong with this scenario, something he couldn’t put a finger on, but he was warm and comfortable. In fact, there was nothing as warm as a feather bed; he could make a nest in the middle of it and the down would bunch around him and keep him insulated. Of course, sometimes the feathers poked through and scratched or tickled, but they were so much nicer than straw mattresses, especially with a warm brick at the bottom.

His mother was stroking his blonde hair. “Time to get up,” she said.

He must have overslept. Was it time for breakfast? And how was it he’d forgotten how beautiful and kind her eyes were? Jed’s eyes were heavy. He was safe and warm and his family loved him.

He might have drifted back to sleep, but his mother looked at him and said in the tone that meant she was serious, “You need to get up this instant, Jedidiah.”

“But Ma—”he murmured.

“Now.”


Jed ‘Kid’ Curry opened his eyes and realized he was lying in the snow in view of the trapper’s cabin porch. He wasn’t with his mother… Not yet, anyway, though something warm and wet was dripping down his back. He was bleeding again.


Tending the shoulder would wait. Drawing on his diminishing strength, Kid pushed himself to his knees and grabbed the saddlebags. He had to get back inside the cabin.


Sometimes crawling without using his left arm and sometimes knee-walking, Kid made it onto the porch, dragging the bags with him. Sheer stubbornness had gotten him that far, although the doorknob looked ridiculously high. He reached for it, and missed, and sank down to a seated position.


Curry’s head dropped to his chest and his hat fell down onto his back. He remembered the feel of the feather bed in the dream he’d had while unconscious. Then he thought about his mother. ‘You need to get up this instant, Jedidiah.’ He hadn’t heard his mother’s voice that clearly in a long time and he agreed with her. He needed to get up. Summoning what he hoped wasn’t the last of his strength, Kid got the door open and moved inside.


“You awake?” Kid asked his friend, not noticing how his own words were faint.


After fetching the warm water from the stove, he carefully put some of it in Heyes’ mouth and then rubbed his throat to encourage swallowing. Heyes swallowed and Kid repeated the task.


“Sorry, want t’get ya warm an’ don’t have time for coffee,” he said to his partner. He hoped that Heyes heard his voice and that he would respond to it. Next Kid used a handkerchief to get the blood off Heyes’ face and wash his head wound. Lastly, with difficulty, he got his partner into dry pants, one leg at a time.
It took a lot of effort and Kid was just so tired. The room was blurred and spinning.


Maybe he’d lie down next to Heyes for a time. Add his body heat. Kid Curry lay down next to his partner, who finally had a little color back in his face.


“Y’ gonna keep sleepin’?” Kid mumbled, utterly exhausted.


There was no response and Curry slowly fell back into that twilight state of not being quite awake or entirely asleep.
 
*


After some time, Heyes stirred. “Kid?” Heyes tried to sit up and found himself cocooned in blankets with his partner next to him. “Hey, Kid.”


He fought out of the blankets and assessed himself. He was finally warm and felt alright except for a headache. But he had passed out and left the Kid—oh, his partner was right next to him.


“Kid, what’re you doin’ out of bed?” Heyes asked as he sat up.


Kid Curry stirred and then turned up a corner of his mouth. “Glad y’ ain’t dead, Heyes. Y’had me worried.”


“Return the favor, why don’t ya?” Heyes scowled. “You look half dead yourself. You’ve no doubt started bleeding again and—” He looked at the saddlebags. “Did you go outside?”


Kid smiled faintly but didn’t reply otherwise.


“What’re you, crazy? What were you thinking?”


“Thinkin’ I’d save your life, Heyes.”


“We have an agreement about that and anyway, it’s my turn.”


“To think?” Kid asked.


His humor was intact, at least. Heyes gave his partner a look as he moved the bedding back to the bed. “To save your life.”


Heyes went back to Kid and helped him sit up, glancing at the front of his chest. “Bullet didn’t go through, so it’s still in there.”


“Figured that out,” Kid said.


“I’m gonna have to get it out,” Heyes replied.


“You sure you’re well enough?”


“Asks the man bleeding all over. Let me help you up.” Heyes put his hand under his partner’s good arm and between the two of them, they managed to get him standing. They walked to the bed and Kid lowered himself down.


“I’m gonna take off your coat and shirt, Kid.”


Kid remained upright and Heyes took off the sheepskin jacket as slowly and carefully as he could. When he saw what was underneath, he gasped. Curry’s shirt was covered in blood, coated in it, as was the inside of his coat. Heyes didn’t know how his partner was conscious or even alive. It looked like he’d lost enough blood to kill some men, and his hands shook as he tugged off the jacket.


“Need help with the shirt?” Hannibal Heyes asked, trying to mask his worry but not succeeding with his best friend.


“No,” Kid said stubbornly even as he fumbled with one hand and his eyes were half closed. 


Heyes crossed his arms and waited. 


Finally, Kid admitted, “A little.”


Heyes got the remaining buttons open and Kid pretended not to notice how his hands were shaking. After the shirt was off, he had Kid lie down on his stomach while he busied himself looking in Ross’ bag.


“He has bandages, a scalpel, and pliers in here. He sure thought of everything. Let me wash your wound with alcohol and carbolic before I get started. It’s gonna burn. Why don’t you drink some of the whiskey first?”


“I’m dizzy ‘nough,” Kid said quietly. His voice sounded weak.


Scowling, Heyes started cleaning the wound and Kid flinched but didn’t make a sound. After Heyes started digging with the hemostats, Kid passed out.


Half an hour later and it was over. Heyes was still shaking but the bullet was removed, the wound cleaned again and sewn together as best as Heyes could manage. He finished bandaging Kid and covered him with the blankets.


The brown haired man drew a chair up next to the cot and sat down. Heyes took his cousin’s hand, willing his blue eyes to open. Don’t you die, he thought at him. This is my fault.


It felt like Kid squeezed his hand. “Kid? Kid? Can you hear me?”


No response.


“I’m gonna take care of the horses, Kid. No good leavin’ them with gear on in this weather. But…” His voice faltered and he cleared his throat. “But you best be here when I get back, y’hear me? Keep fightin’. Use that famous stubbornness; it ought to be good for something. Be back soon.”


He squeezed Curry’s hand, hoping that would convey everything else he wanted to say, but couldn’t.
Heyes bowed his head, resting his forehead on their joined hands for a moment before putting Kid’s hand gently back on the bed and walking outside.
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