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PostSubject: Fool   Fool EmptyMon Apr 01, 2019 5:23 am

Time for a new challenge and as it's April the first, the prompt just ahs to be;


jocolor Fool jocolor


That can be any kind of stupid act, dumb person, fool's gold, an act of deception, or just plain, funny stupidity. Feel free to add your own twist on the prompt too. Have fun with it!


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before carrying on to write for April, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Fool   Fool EmptyFri Apr 19, 2019 9:13 pm

Just a little excerpt from "Jedediah" that seems to fit the prompt.


What was left of sunlight through the kitchen windows filtered through the few cracks in the floor boards. The partners sat on hard ground in the root cellar, shadows above them further diffusing the illumination. They could not make out individual personages but could hear the voices.

"Ma'am, you're sure you've not seen anyone?"

"Sheriff, I do declare, don't you think I would have told you if I had? You and your men look tired. Might I offer you some coffee?"

"Thank you, ma'am, but no. My men are tired. We've been after Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry over a week now. They seem to have disappeared into thin air."

"Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry? They are dangerous men. From what I have heard, they do not come more notorious!"

"That's right, ma'am. You have to watch out especially for that Jed Curry. He's probably the fastest gun in the West."

"Jed? Is that short for Jedediah?"

"That's right, ma'am."

Curry grimaced.

The man's voice continued, "We had a good trail; were right behind them at one point. I even think we hit one of them. So we figure they'd have laid up somewhere. Have you heard anything from any of your neighbors?"

"No, I haven't, Sheriff. I certainly would take note of something like that. We are spread out up here, so I do not see my neighbors all that often. We are all busy with our own business, and we mind our own."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, I wish you gentlemen good luck in finding your prey, even if they are men."

"Ma'am, I think this might be the end of the line for us. We might keep on or not. I suppose it depends on whether we come across anything in the next day or so. We've been searching a long time, but we've all got families and businesses to get back to. We can't be running all over Kingdom Come looking for two outlaws when they haven't done a whole lot of anything lately."

"Whatever do you mean, Sheriff?"

"Ma'am, they're wanted but haven't been real active lately – well, it's been over a year now since anyone's heard of anything they've done."

"So why chase them?"

"Because they're wanted, ma'am. The men with me could use a share of that reward, and they're worth ten thousand apiece. Fool's fortune can tempt anyone, at any time, and better us than bounty hunters to bring them in. But there's nothing we can do when the trail goes cold. We tried our best for a good long time now, but …"

"Sheriff, I do declare I know full well what it's like to go a long time waiting for something, and when you think you've got it in hand, it may or may not be all that you expected."

Heyes and Curry held each other's gaze for a long few seconds. The dark-haired man raised an eyebrow. The blond silently blew out a breath.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, please do help yourself to water for your horses and canteens. Ride safely, Sheriff."


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elleree

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PostSubject: Re: Fool   Fool EmptySun Apr 21, 2019 12:19 pm

Reddish brown dust was everywhere; flying through the air, making the whole world tinted the same color. Kid Curry led the horses toward the mouth of the mine, barely able to see in the dust squall. He had a bandanna over his face and the horses had spare shirts over theirs. Heyes was already inside; he’d helped his partner in first, and then gone back for their mounts. At least the foul weather meant they could rest awhile and take care of Heyes’ wound.


The blonde sagged in relief once they got inside, relieved to be away from the buffeting winds. He took the blindfold off of his face and unwrapped the shirts from around the horses. All three of them shook off, utterly covered in dust and sand. Kid tended them and hobbled them quickly before he grabbed his saddlebags.


He planned on doctoring Heyes’ wound whether his partner wanted him to or not. Kid recalled the sheer panic when he’d seen Heyes fall off his horse and the way his cousin had laid there all crumpled and still. By the time he’d turned around, Heyes had been back on his feet but unsteady. Even though he’d remounted and said he was fine, Kid still worried. It had been a hard fall and he knew Heyes had been hit.


“Okay Heyes, time for me to see if it really was just a graze,” Kid said as he walked into the next chamber of the mine. He froze on seeing his partner being dangled over a mine shaft with a man looming over him. No, not just any man. Horace Whitaker. He’d run with Lobo back in the day but he’d been too erratic and bloodthirsty to stay with the Devil’s Hole Gang. Kid was instantly furious—Heyes was already hurt and it looked like Whitaker had done a number on him—but a fast draw wouldn’t matter if his friend fell.

“Come on up close to your partner, Kid. Drop the bags real slow. If you do it right, maybe I don’t drop your partner down this mine shaft.”


Kid complied. “Now what?”


“Well, Kid, here’re the choices I was givin’ your partner. I can drop him down this mine shaft and we can all hope it ain’t deep enough to kill him; you can hunker down with me in here after you give me your haul, or I can shoot you both right now. What’s your pick?”


Heyes glanced backwards and he and Curry exchanged glances. He tried to reassure his friend but knew he wasn’t fooling anyone when he smiled. “How about, ‘none of the above’?”


Whitaker leaned Heyes further out over the shaft, almost dropping him. Kid, not Heyes, winced. Heyes was too busy maintaining an unaffected, unafraid look that didn’t fool Kid in the slightest.


“We don’t have a haul, Horace,” Kid said. “The most we got between us is two hundred dollars. If you want to take that as the price of sharin’ a shelter, fine. I’ll get my half out of my coat if it won’t make you nervous. Just don’t drop him.”


Whitaker looked at the gunslinger who was giving him a cold look. “You tellin' the truth?”


“Yes.” Kid’s fist clenched. His fast draw wouldn’t do any good in this situation; if he shot Horace, he’d drop Heyes who was already injured and Curry wasn’t going to let him get hurt again, not even if he had to do something foolish to stop it.

Whitaker and the Kid stared at each other until finally Whitaker threw Heyes as hard as he could in Kid’s direction.


Kid caught his partner by instinct and Whitaker used the time to point the gun directly at them. Scowling, Kid looked at his partner and gently sat him down against the wall.


“You okay?” He asked, even though it was obvious he wasn’t.


“Wonderful,” Heyes muttered. The dark-haired man had blood running down from his dark hair, bruises on his jaw, a shiner, and his mouth was bleeding on top of the graze he’d already had on his side. Kid scowled.


“Curry, you can stand on up away from him,” Whitaker said.


Kid straightened up and eyed the man and the fact the gun was pointed directly at his partner. He stepped forward, subtly moving in front of Heyes.


“Don’t move,” Horace snapped. “I will shoot. I could use twenty thousand dollars.” 


Heyes grimaced. He’d heard the adage bad things came in threes, but it seemed to be doubled for them. They’d been spotted and chased by a posse, he’d been hit and knocked off his horse, and the dust storm which caused them to shelter in the mine had led them straight into Horace Whitaker. He wasn’t sure who’d been more surprised; him or Horace. The man was a cattle rustler and a dry-gulcher who unfortunately had already had his gun out and pistol whipped Heyes. Kid was clearly thinking of making a move, though, no doubt feeling overprotective. Heyes caught his eye.


I’m risking it. Kid’s expression said. Back me up.


Let’s come up with a plan first. Heyes replied silently, knowing his partner understood. They were close enough that words weren’t necessary.


Kid merely looked at Whitaker and Heyes knew the sole plan was for Kid to draw and risk a shot. He’d just have to back him up as best he could.


“There’s only one problem,” Heyes said loudly to their foe.


“Yeah?” Whitaker asked.


“You forgot about the price on your own head,” Heyes said sensibly.


With the man’s attention on his partner, Kid Curry whipped out his gun and fired and then tackled the man.


“Kid,” Heyes snapped, annoyed at the risk his partner had taken.


Horace Whitaker had turned toward Kid but only managed to get shot in the arm and knocked backward to the ground, hitting his head on a rock.


Kid got up and started feeling the man for more weapons, which he had in plenty. “What?” he asked Heyes, his own voice tinted with annoyance at his partner’s tone.


“Was that really necessary?”


Kid looked up at Heyes and grinned. “Which part? Me coming up with the plan or saving our skin?”


“That wasn’t a plan, that was…idiocy. He was already unarmed; did you have to tackle him?”


“As you can see, he had a whole lot of other weapons. I just wanted to make sure he was down,” Kid replied, turning the man over and tying him. He tied Whitaker’s bandanna around the arm injury and looked at the man’s head wound. It didn’t seem too bad.


To be honest, Kid hadn’t been thinking, he’d been reacting, and he didn’t regret it, since Heyes was alive to fuss at him. “Heyes, I’m going to carry him into one of the tunnels, think you can stay out of trouble for five minutes?”


The blonde didn’t stay around to hear his friend’s terse response; he just hauled the unconscious man down the next path and resisted the urge to drop him down a shaft. He saw a felled beam on the ground, though, and got an idea. He laid the man on top of it and then he tied a blindfold over his eyes. He finished just in time for the man to wake.


“Wha—?”


“Don’t move too much, Whitaker. You’re tied up and blindfolded on a beam over a mine shaft. I’d stay put if I were you.”

Whitaker swallowed. “I…I wasn’t really gonna drop Heyes, Kid.”


“I sure hope not, Horace. Well, have a good night.”


“You’re gonna leave me here??”


“Sure am,” Kid replied. “But I tell you what. If you stay quiet and don’t make a peep all night, I’ll come get you in the mornin’. Can you do that?”


Whitaker nodded.


“See you in a few hours.”


“Don’t leave me!”


“Whitaker, I said if you stay quiet I’d come back.”


The man closed his mouth and Kid smiled. After all, the man had no idea the beam was just safely on the floor. Maybe Heyes could still get some much needed sleep after all. He headed back to his partner and once again picked up the saddlebags so that he could take care of Heyes.


“He’s awful quiet,” Heyes said.


Kid smirked and told him the reason.


“Wow, Kid.”


“What? You think it’s too much?” Kid looked at his friend, feeling a little guilty.


“No. Just wish I’d thought of it,” Heyes replied with a smile. “That’s the kind of plan I approve of.”
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Fool   Fool EmptyMon Apr 29, 2019 6:16 pm

Didn't think an original bunny would hop this month, but it did.  


Birds of a Feather

Two riders rode along an old stage path through open country.  Hat brims pulled low against a too bright sun impaired the view of their surroundings, although the long expanses of distance in all directions disappeared into a hazy nothingness unappealing to sightseers.  Boredom and tedium wore on them, and time seemed to stand still.  Rocking in the saddles lulled them to doze.  Waking moments featured short conversations interspersed with nature’s call.
 
“Heyes?”

“Hmm?”

“Let’s stop.”

Hannibal Heyes pushed his hat up with one finger, squinting against the brightness of the day.  “Again?”

“Yep.  There’s some bushes over there.”

Heyes reined his horse to follow behind his partner’s.  “Too many beans last night?”

Kid Curry scowled.  “You had more than me – for once!”

“Guess I did.”

“No guessin’.  You just did.”

Heyes smiled.  “That’s what I said.”

“Fine.”

The pair halted near the bushes.  Curry dismounted and scrambled behind them.

Heyes kept to his saddle.  “Kid, you don’t have to be so proddy.  Do ya think this’ll be it?”

“How do I know?” came the moan in reply.

“Well, it’s been …” Heyes counted on his fingers, “… three, maybe four times we’ve stopped so you can …”

“Heyes, can I just do my business in peace?!”

The ex-outlaw leader shrugged.  “Sure.”  He jumped down and grabbed a canteen off his saddle before his mount joined Curry’s to graze a few yards away.  Taking a long swig, he wiped his mouth and draped the canteen over the pommel horn.  Turning his back to the road, he undid the buttons on his trousers and took care of his own business.  Redoing his jeans, he glanced at the bushes; all was quiet.

It being now several minutes since his partner, ahem, answered nature’s call (again!) – Heyes pursed his lips to suppress a chuckle – he cupped a hand over his brow to block the sun and look around.  Ground and atmosphere met in the far distance with no discernible demarcation.  Hmm …

“Kid, we’re gonna have to find somewhere to camp soon.”

“We got time.”

Heyes noted the sun’s position.  “We have maybe three hours to sunset.”

There was a pause before Curry replied, “More like four.”

With a sigh, Heyes knew he risked a threat of flattening, if not the real thing.  “In any case, we’ll have another hour before we have to stop, and the way we’re going – well, you, anyway – we might as well find a place near here.”

“Heyes, please …”

Heyes felt a pang of sympathy at Curry’s groan.  It really was not any fun feeling the way his partner did.  Scanning the surrounding country, he spied a promising spot.  “Kid, there’s a hill off the road behind you.  I’m gonna take a look.  Be right back.”

Indeed, the hill in this open space was more a rise just high enough to conceal anything behind it from the road.  Not ideal with no creek nearby, but the partners had three almost full canteens apiece, so good enough.

~~oo00oo~~

By the time Curry reappeared, Heyes had moved and tethered the horses, unpacked their camp supplies, and was clearing space for a fire.  He frowned.  “You know we could go another couple hours before stoppin’ to camp.”

Heyes continued his work, barely glancing at his partner.  “Maybe so, but the way you’re going today will just slow us down.  Anyway, in this country we might not find another decent place to stop before dark, so we might as well stay here.”

Curry sighed.  “Seems you got nothin’ better to do than remind me how bad my stomach is.”

Heyes shrugged.  “Well, staying in one place will let you get some rest.”

The blond man threw up his arms.  “But I ain’t tired!”

“No, but you are proddy.”  Heyes rose and smiled sweetly.  “You just don’t appreciate somebody looking out for you.”

“I do so,” Curry muttered under his breath.

“What did ya say?”

“Nothin’.  But no beans tonight.”

Heyes chuckled.  “Jerky and biscuits will do just fine.”

~~oo00oo~~

Our pair of ex-outlaws bedded down under a full moon, which brightened the clear expanse of sky but drowned out the constellations.

Curry yawned.  “No stars tonight.  Guess I’ll just close my eyes.”  He glanced at Heyes.  “Unless you want to read to me.”

“Nah, the fire’s getting too low to read.”  Heyes placed the book alongside his bedroll.  He was quiet for a moment until a thought struck him.  “With your stomach feeling better, we should be able to go further tomorrow.  You haven’t run for the bushes since we got here.”

“Heyes, enough with my stomach, okay?”

“Just saying, Kid.  Told ya we should stop.”

“Like I said – enough!”  A pause.  “Night, Heyes.”

“Night, Kid.”

~~oo00oo~~

An hour after dawn found our pair packing up after breakfast, with a promise of continued good weather on order.

Heyes secured his saddle bags and supply sack onto his saddle and stood back to take in his surroundings.  The morning sun behind them, he took a moment to look into the distance.  “Kid, didn’t notice it yesterday with the sun in our eyes, but it looks like hills up ahead.  If we don’t have to stop too much, we should reach them by sundown.”

“Heyes, I’m tired of hearin’ it!”  Visibly annoyed, Curry gave a mighty tug on his cinch strap.  His chestnut whinnied in protest.  “That’s really not helpin’ things.”

Heyes grinned, dimples on full display.  “Ah, Kid, just funning ya is all.  It’s a beautiful day.  Let’s enjoy it.”

“I’ll enjoy it a lot better if you keep your trap shut.” the blond man replied as he settled his horse.

Heyes considered what his partner had said.  “Okay, if that’s the way you feel.”  He mounted up.  “Tell ya what, ten dollars says I can be quiet until noon.”

Curry raised an eyebrow.  “You’re on.”  He mounted his horse.  “That’s the easiest money I’ll ever make.”

~~oo00oo~~

Several hours passed.  As with yesterday, the pair alternately watched their surroundings and dozed.  Unlike yesterday, though, they stopped only once when Heyes silently signalled the need to do so.  Both took care of business and stretched before continuing on their way.

The silence was deafening to a silver tongue used to expounding on profundities great and small, but, determined to win the bet, Heyes both watched the sun and checked his watch – only a half hour left.  He was going to make it!

Before long the quiet broke with a noise overhead.  Looking up, Heyes marveled at the perfect V formation of a flock of birds flying west.  He got Curry’s attention and pointed, smiling and giving a thumbs up.  Kid nodded in their shared appreciation of the wonders of nature.

As the birds cleared the space above, Heyes felt something hit his hand, and his shirt and saddle.  His bay bucked and threw him to the ground.  “What the hell?!”

In a second Curry reacted, reaching over and grabbing the flying reins from Heyes’ horse, struggling a moment before the animal calmed.  He jumped down and ran to his partner.  “You okay?”

Heyes sat where he had landed.  “Yeah.”  Shaking his head in disgust, he pulled himself up, grabbing the bandana from around his neck to wipe the slime from his hand and shirt.  “Damn birds.”

Curry laughed.  “They got ya good, Heyes.  Your hand, your shirt, even your hat and horse.”

“My hat?!”  Heyes removed the head covering.  Sure enough, bird droppings covered the crown.  He threw the hat in the dust.  “Damn it!”

“And I won the bet.”

Heyes was apoplectic.  “What do you mean, you won the bet?  You were talking to me.”

“Nope, you yelled first when the horse threw ya.”

Heyes took a deep breath.  “I was just reacting …”

Curry did everything he could to keep from laughing out loud.  “A bet’s a bet, Heyes.  You’d be the first one in line to collect if you won.”

“Fine.”  The dark-haired man reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten, and held it out to his partner.

Curry frowned and took a step back.  “Uh, I’ll wait until you have a chance to clean up proper first.  Your hand’s still dirty and ya got some droppin’s on the ten.”

Heyes wiped his hand on his pants.  He could not believe how bad his day had gotten.  “Fine.  First I have to stop all day yesterday because you’re not feeling good and today I have to lose a bet because …”

“Don’t be a sore loser, Heyes.  Next you’re gonna tell me none of the birds above us attacked you.”  Disgusted, Curry walked back to his horse and mounted.

As he turned to gallop away, Heyes shouted, “Kid, wait!”

Curry pulled back on the reins.  “What.”

Heyes appeared contrite.  “I’m sorry.”

“About what?”

This was difficult for Hannibal Heyes.  “About getting on you about your stomach yesterday.  I know you weren’t feeling good and … well, I should’ve just … you know …” he shrugged “… not joshed you so much about it.”

Curry rolled his eyes.  Was this really his partner?  Apologizing?  He knew better, but two could play this game.  “I know you better than that, Heyes.  What’s in it for you?”

The dark-haired partner wore a lop-sided, sheepish grin.  “Well, okay, you won the bet fair and square.”  He held up the still slightly slime-covered hand.  “But could you not mention this again?  It’s … embarrassing.”

Blue eyes twinkled.  Yes, it was embarrassing, especially for the great but vain Hannibal Heyes.  After the torment yesterday and too many other times when his partner made him feel like a fool, he knew Heyes deserved a comeuppance, and this time Curry did not have to threaten or lift a finger or a fist.  It took a flock of birds, of all things.  Revenge had rained down from heaven, just like that.  Life was sweet, indeed.

Curry smiled.  “What’re ya waitin’ for?  Finish cleanin’ up so we can get a move on.  I ain't gonna wait all day.”

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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Fool   Fool EmptyTue Apr 30, 2019 8:30 pm

Shocked, the pain roaring in, Mac dropped to the floor and clutched his injured appendage, and glared at Heyes.  “You shot me!”  


Heyes was as surprised as Mac.  He looked down at the gun in his hand as though he’d never seen it before then his gaze returned to the older man.  A slow, cruel smile appeared and he shrugged.  “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”


Hearing his own words mirrored, Mac let out a stream of invective as the blood seeped through his fingers and he began to rock in agony.  Small grunts and high pitched moans breached his clenched teeth.


“Hurts, don’t it?” asked Heyes, watching Mac until he stopped writhing and lay on his back panting with the pain.  


“Why…why didn’t you…?”  


“What?  Shoot you dead?  I could’ve shot you through the heart but you know what the Good Book says—an eye for an eye--or in this case, a foot for a foot.” Heyes tried to get to his feet, but he was too weak to stand.  Instead, he slid off the bed to the floor the gun still gripped tightly in his hand and crawled over to Mac.  Exhausted, he sat back and looked down at the man prostrated before him until he caught his breath.  “Despite what you think, I’m not a killer and neither is the Kid.”


Mac snorted derisively, “He’s killed.  He said as much.”  


“Only in a fair fight and only when he had to.”


 “Ain’t a fair fight when Kid Curry’s part of it.”


Heyes shook his head.  “You’re pretty judgmental for a fella who shot an unarmed man for no damn reason.”   Without hesitation, Heyes swung his gun hand wide and delivered a stunning blow to the side of Mac’s head knocking him unconscious.  




XXX


The Kid glanced back at Minner.  The doctor was gripping his saddle horn with both hands as he hunched over the horse’s neck thereby increasing each jarring bounce delivered to his backside.  They were almost to the turnoff where they’d have to leave the road and wind their way through the forest.  “Whoa,” said Curry, reining up to a walk.  Behind him, Heyes’ bay slid to a stop nearly sending his rider over his head.


Minner scrambled upright, sweat streaming down his face, his neat clothes now dusty and rumpled.   “Are we there?” he gasped.  “I…I…don’t think I can go much further.”  He flinched as disgusted blue eyes stared back at him.  


“How the hell have you not ridden a horse before?” snapped the Kid in frustration.  His heart was sinking with the realization that the trip back to the cabin would take far longer with this absolute tenderfoot.  


Minner looked away; he couldn’t look the fearsome man in the eyes.  “I grew up in Chicago.  I never needed to learn.”


“Let go of that horn and sit your tail in that saddle!  You lean over the horse’s neck like that and he’s gonna go faster.”  Reaching the flag he’d used to mark the forest trail, Curry turned onto it.  “We’ll walk from here; trot when we can.”


“Through the trees?” gulped Minner.


The Kid counted to ten before he answered.  “Lean back and you’ll do fine.  You fall off, you get back up, and we keep goin’.  My partner needs a doc and you’re the best I got.”


The doctor fell silent for a while as the horses ambled on then he timidly asked, “Are you gonna kill me?  I mean after I…I see to your friend?”  


“I ain’t gonna kill you at all!”  Exasperated, Curry sought for the patience to reassure Minner.  “I just didn’t have the time to argue with you.”  He took a deep breath and gently added, “Look, you take care of Joshua and I swear I’ll see you home safe.”


“You will?”


“You have my word.  Now can we stop jawin’ and start ridin’?”


Mollified by the answer, Minner gave his horse a tentative pat and leaned ridiculously far back in his saddle.


XXX


Heyes dipped his tin mug into the pail of water his partner had left and splashed the contents onto Mac’s face.  Mac jerked and his eyes flew open as his mouth sputtered.  It took him a moment to realize where he was but when he did he twisted around towards his captor only to be caught up by the handcuffs encircling his ankles and securing him to the post. 


“How?”


Holding up the lockpick from his browband, Heyes grinned, “Seems you missed one.  Came in handy, too; no pun intended.”


Mac groaned.  “My foot’s swellin’ up.  You’re gonna cut off the blood.”


“Technically, the cuffs are gonna do that.”  Heyes shifted back on the bed.  “I’m afraid I’ve got to admit, I’m less worried about your foot falling off than I am about you bashing my head in while I sleep.”  Picking up a bundle of rags, he threw them at Mac then used his foot to push the bucket within the other man’s reach.  “Clean your wound and quit bellyachin’, the doctor’s going to be here soon.”


“You don’t know there’s a doc within a hundred miles of here.”


“You’re right, I don’t, but I do know my partner.”


XXX


“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” sighed the Kid when he heard a tree branch snap followed by a crash as Minner was swept out of the saddle for the second time since leaving the road.  Swinging out of his saddle, he walked back to the downed man and extended his hand.


“I’m sorry.  I didn’t see it.  The sun was in my eyes.  I lost my balance.”  


Kid looked down at him.  “Which one was it?  Let me guess—none of the above.  You just can’t ride to save your life.”


Minner took the offered hand to be pulled to his feet.  Every muscle in his body screamed out from the unaccustomed abuse it had taken.  “Please I need a break before I get back on him.”


“Nope, ain’t gonna happen.”  Seizing the doctor by his elbow, Curry hauled him and Heyes’ horse towards his own animal.  “You and me are ridin’ double.”


“Double?”


“Yep, I figure it’ll take us less time than me pickin’ your sorry ass up off the ground a half dozen times before we get there.”


“Now, see here.  I’m doing the best I can!  There’s no need to be rude.”  The offended man shook off the Kid’s hand and indignantly straightened his sleeves.


“You’re right and I’m sorry, but we’re wastin’ time.”  Curry unceremoniously hoisted the doctor up into the saddle and climbed up behind him.  “Go ahead and slap leather, I’ll do the ridin’.”  He dug his heels into the sorrel and yelled, “Yee-haw.”  The doctor rocked back into his chest and yelled something a tad more colorful.


XXX


Heyes awoke as the sunlight was beginning to fade.  He pulled out his old pocket watch and noted the time.  The Kid should’ve been back by now, shouldn’t he?  He’d left sometime this morning but Heyes couldn’t remember exactly when.


“Maybe Curry saw the errors of his ways and kept goin’,” said Mac.  He was lying with his back propped up by the broken table and had been watching Heyes sleep.  He’d been hopin’ the thievin’ polecat was dead.


“He’ll be back.”


“You seem damn sure ‘bout that.”


“I am sure.”


“You two are pretty tight.  How’d you partner up?”  Mac was genuinely curious.  He wanted to know how someone like Heyes had gotten his hooks in a man like Curry.  Way he figured, Heyes must’ve been the one who turned Curry killer.


“We’ve known each other most of our lives,” answered Heyes before he knew what he was saying.  The fever must’ve lowered his inhibitions.  He rolled onto his side and sat up leaning against the wall.  His guard now up. 


“Really?  And here I was, thinkin’ it was you who showed Curry the ropes.  Your partner seems like a decent enough fella.”


“He’s a good man.”  Heyes softly huffed.  “He’s definitely a better man than me.”


Mac guffawed.  “You ain’t gonna get no argument from me!  So how’d you two end up on the wrong side of the law?”


“An apple.”


“What?”  


“We were hungry so I stole an apple.” Heyes’ eyes were glazed, remembering.  “It was Wichita.  We’d been looking for work but it was after the war and no one wanted to hire little kids when there were grown men tryin’ to feed their families.”


“You lost your kin to raiders, right?”  Mac saw the anger bloom on Heyes’ face and hastily added, “You said so when you were outta your head.”


“And you lost yours to outlaws.”


Mac reddened.  He wasn’t going to discuss his family with this man.  Bad enough he’d blabbed to Curry.  “So how’d an apple set you on the road to bank robbin’?”


“Grocer caught me red-handed.  Called the sheriff and had him throw me in jail.”


“Ain’t that a bit harsh for an apple?”


Heyes smiled, “I thought so, but the sheriff didn’t.  He arrested me for theft.  Said the judge was gonna fine me a hundred dollars.  I busted out that night while he was sleeping.”  Strangely enough, it felt kind of good to be telling this story after all these years.  What did it matter what he said?  Mac knew who they were.


Mac laughed out loud.  “Y’fool, didn’t it ever occur to you he was tryin’ to throw a scare into you?”


“It did later, but at the time all I could think about was Jed out there all alone with no one to look out for him.”


“Just how old were you?”


“I was thirteen.  Jed’s two years younger.”


“Hmpf, young and stupid.”  Mac rubbed his foot.  The wound had stopped bleeding under the rag he’d tied around it.  “How the heck did a kid like you bust outta a jail?”


A wide infectious smile creased the dimples in Heyes’ cheeks.  “I said I was hungry, didn’t I?  We’d been hungry a lot and I reckon the sheriff never thought about how skinny I was and how wide those bars on his cell were.  I slipped right through and snuck out under his dozing nose.  The Kid and I hopped the next train outta town.”


“So how’d you go from fruit theft to banks?”


The smile fell away and Heyes shrugged.  “The sheriff didn’t have a sense of humor when folks starting laughing at him behind his back about letting a brat like me give him the slip.  He put a $50 reward out on me.  Wasn’t much reason to go straight after that; besides, it was easier to steal than find a job.”


“So you decided the heck with the law?”


 “I think it was more like the law said the heck with me.” 


“Well, shame on you for takin’ your friend down with you.”


Heyes’ eyes narrowed.  “What about you, Mac?  You think losin’ your family justifies you hunting down and killing men?  Torturing them? You think the bible says, ‘Thou shall not kill, less’n it’s an outlaw?  You think you're better than us, don’t you, but you’re not.  You’re a killer.  And worse, you go outta your way to kill.” 


Mac lunged towards Heyes forgetting he was bound and his hands reached hungrily for the younger man as he strained against his restraints.  “You sonava… *&%$#!   I’ll see you in Hell, Heyes!”


“I’m sure you will, Mac, I’m sure you will.”

_________________
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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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