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 Eternal

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PostSubject: Eternal   Eternal EmptyWed May 01, 2019 5:30 am

We have a new topic for May, suggested by Nebraska Wildfire. It's a good time to remind members that they can suggest challenge prompts and chat topics at any time by sending a PM to Admin. So without further ado, your challenge for May is;


moon Eternal sun 1


Feel free to give us your best take on the prompt which can be philosophical or an actual thing like an eternity ring, or whatever else your inventive minds can come up with.  
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Nightwalker



Posts : 40
Join date : 2018-09-14

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PostSubject: Re: Eternal   Eternal EmptyTue May 14, 2019 7:15 am

It was dark when she woke up, probably still the middle of the night. She propped herself up, blinked twice to focus her eyes. The clock on the nightstand proved her right - 3:33 in the morning, far too early to get up. She moaned and sagged back onto the ruffled sheets.

But she couldn’t go back to sleep again. Something was wrong. A second time she opened her eyes. The room was a pattern of shadows and shades of grey. It was her bedroom, unmistakably, but something felt odd. The dream she had had still ghosted through her mind; reality and dream seemed to overlap.

No, that wasn’t the point, there was ... she rubbed her eyes, but the image wouldn’t disappear. There was a cowboy standing at the side of her bed - dark hat and shirt, light pants, his slender figure surrounded by a scent of horse, sweat and leather. It was the scent that made her suspicious. She never had an olfactory dream before.

The presence of a strange man in her bedroom was supposed to frighten her, yet she felt safe. Maybe she was still dreaming after all?

“Am I dreaming?” she asked the stranger, just to be sure.

“How would I know?” he answered in a soft, low voice.

“I mean, are you really here?”

“I guess, I am.”

“Is this cowboy times?”

“Nope, it doesn’t look like that to me,” he said, panning the room. “It’s mighty fancy round here, miss.”

“So, why are you here?”

“I just wish I knew,” he said, taking off his hat and running his long fingers through his thick, dark hair. “Have you seen my partner?”

“Partner? There’s more than one of you?” she asked, pulling the blanket a little higher up her chest.

“Well, I sure hope so. If he’s got lost anywhere else then we’re in big trouble,” he answered with a brief smile that revealed a dimple in his left cheek, but he sobered again instantly. “Bad things happen when we separate.”

She rubbed the palms of her hands over her face, trying to clear her mind. “So, what are you doing here? Besides looking for your partner, that is.”

He pushed the hat back on his head and shrugged. “I don’t know. One moment I’m trailing my partner out the back door of Miss Purdy’s B ... uhm ... out of a house of entertainment and the next moment I’m standing here. I guess he's around here too, as we took the same door and I was close behind him.”

It was only now that she noticed his clothes appeared somewhat disarranged and his shirt tail was hanging over his pants, both telling tales of a hasty departure from ... a sudden blush flushed her face.

His dark eyes followed her look. Immediately, he tucked his shirt back where it belonged and smoothed his clothes. “I’m sorry, miss, we left in a kind of hurry.”

When he had finished his task, his dark eyes panned the small room again, wandering over bookshelves, a desk - not overly tidy – and walls decorated with posters in bright colors, noticeable even in the faint light of the moon. His sharp and wary eyes took in every detail. The strange surroundings obviously confused him, but didn’t scare him, rather he appeared curious.

Studying his remarkable profile, she squinted her eyes. “Hey, wait a minute ... I know you! You are Hannibal Heyes!”

The dark-haired man twirled around, drew a step back and shook his head. “Oh, no, miss, you are mistaken. The name’s Smith, Joshua Smith.”

“Yeah, that’s what you always say...” she replied, popping up and combing her hair with her fingers. Heavens! Why do dreams come true in the middle of the night when you’re all messed up, and never when you are perfectly styled and well-dressed. A thought struck her and she froze. “Your partner...? You mean, Kid Curry is somewhere round here, too?” Her voice rose a full octave. Frantically she increased her efforts to make herself more presentable.

“No, he’s not. I mean, my partner. My partner’s name’s Jones, Thaddeus Jones and...” the cowboy replied, but she cut him off.

“Yes, yes, and he’s tall and strong and handsome and has the bluest eyes ever seen in a man’s face. He’s the fastest gun in the West, but he never killed anyone! He’s gentle and kind and always nice to the ladies.”

Her visitor, who’s name ostensibly wasn’t Heyes and definitely wasn’t Smith, rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air. “I can’t believe it! I don’t even know where we are – when we are - and his reputation was here even before us?”

Swiftly he spun around, noticed the door to the hallway and stopped his turn. His hand on the doorknob he hesitated just a moment before he opened it.

A blink later she was alone again, her room a pattern of shadows and shades of grey.

She stared at the door, unsure what had happened. Had anything happened at all? Should she just lay down again and try to sleep? Maybe she was still sleeping safe and sound but just not knowing it?

But one thing she knew for sure: if she wouldn’t try to find out and follow him, she would regret it for eternity.

- to be continued? -

Author's note: This little silliness was inspired by a cartoon someone shared in one of the ASJ Facebook groups.

Eternal 59785110

It was clear, it would turn out otherwise if it was Heyes or Curry standing there ;-)
More likely the instructions would read like this:

STEP ONE: Check to see if you have traveled back to cowboy times. This can easily be done by asking: “Is this cowboy times?”

STEP TWO: If they say, “yes, it is cowboy times,” then try to hide your excitement. Proceed with step four.

STEP THREE: If it is not cowboy times, then don’t show your disappointment. Proceed with step four.

STEP FOUR: Take a close look at the cowboy. Do you recognize him as Kid Curry or Hannibal Heyes?

STEP FIVE: If they are, make sure it is no mistake. You can do that by asking: “Is it really you, [Kid/Heyes]?”

STEP SIX: If they say, “yes, ma’am,” then hide your smile and proceed with step eight.

STEP SEVEN: If they say, “no, name’s [Thaddeus Jones/Joshua Smith], ma’am,” then answer with, “that’s fine to me, too,” and proceed with step eight.

STEP EIGHT: Grab him and never let him go again.

STEP NINE: If it is otherwise, just turn around and go back to sleep. Probably time will solve the problem for you.

I don't know if there will be more to it, but the prompts of the months might start a continuation.
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MoulinP

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PostSubject: Re: Eternal   Eternal EmptyWed May 22, 2019 4:04 am

Just a little silliness

Missing scene: Jailbreak at Junction City

“WheeAU!”


In the hotel room, a reforming outlaw shot up in bed. Moonlight reflecting off his white Henley, revealed a dark tousled head. Leaning back on his elbows, he panted, as his heart beat wildly. The bed’s other occupant startled awake, immediately retrieved his gun from its holster hung on the bedpost.


“Heyes?” he gasped, looking round for danger. “What’s the matter?”


“Nothing.”


Heyes lay back down still breathing heavily. “Sorry I woke you, Kid. Just go back to sleep.”


“Ya had a bad dream?”


“Ye-ah.”


The Kid released the hammer and returned his gun, satisfied that there was no immediate danger.


“It’s alright Heyes. Wanna talk about it?”


“Nope.”


The Kid settled again and waited.


“I was being chased,” came the hesitant explanation.


“Posse?”


“Nope something far worse.”


The Kid was intrigued now and turned over. “What can be worse than a posse? Y’know given our current wanted status.”


Heyes licked his lips. “It don’t matter, Kid. You’ll only laugh.”


“No I won’t. If some thing’s bothering ya then I need to know. C’mon.”


Heyes took a deep breath. He knew he was going to regret this.


“I was running downhill. No matter how fast I ran, I couldn’t get away. It was nearly catching me up.”


“Just to be clear. IT being this thing that isn’t a posse?”


“Yes.”


“Which is?”


Heyes sighed again. “If I tell, promise you won’t laugh?”


“I promise.” The Kid held up his hands in surrender.


Heyes licked his lips and sighed in resignation. “I was being chased by a giant boiled egg,” he said, softly. “It was about to run me over when I woke up.”


The Kid made a valiant attempt to keep a straight face. First, he bit his lip. Then he pressed them together. He could feel himself going red in the face. He tried choking back the giggles but all to no avail. Once the chortle started, there was no stopping it.


Heyes rolled his eyes at the ceiling. He hadn’t really expected anything different but turned away in a huff anyway.


“You promised not to laugh,” he grumped.


“I know but … .” The Kid swallowed another wave of hysteria. “Sorry Heyes but that’s jus’ … . You were chased by a giant BOILED EGG!”


“I coulda been killed y’know! It woulda flattened me if it ran me over!”


“By a boiled egg?”


“It was six feet tall and still had it’s shell on!” If Heyes thought that might convey how serious the situation had seemed, he was sadly mistaken. Another wave of chortling ensued. “Go to sleep!” He punched his pillow.


The shaking of the bed from the Kid’s laughter slowly subsided.


“Sorry Heyes. I’ve heard it all now.” He lay on his back grinning, feeling the waves of hurt coming at him from his partner’s back. “You’d best not do that egg trick again if ya gonna dream about eggs afterwards. But don’t worry you’re safe. I’ll save you from killer boiled eggs.”


A grunt from the other side of the bed.


“’Course if ya are gonna dream ‘bout eggs, can ya make ‘em giant fried ones?”


Heyes frowned. Then curious he raised his head and looked round. “Why?”


“’Cos I’m gonna dream about giant slices of bacon to go with ‘em,” the Kid grinned, preparing to turn over so they were back to back.


“Aaagh!” Heyes punched the pillow again and rested his head. “Go to sleep. I know you’re eternally hungry but dreaming about food will only make it worse. We’re on trail rations tomorrow don’t forget.”


“How’re ya gonna stop me?”


“By making MY boiled egg run YOU over. See how you like it,” Heyes grinned, smugly and settled his head for sleep.


From the other side of the bed came a disgruntled snort.

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

InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Eternal   Eternal EmptyTue May 28, 2019 1:07 pm

Thanks “Ple…ee…ase, c…can’t we slow down a little?”  Dr. Minner had a death grip around Kid Curry’s waist.  His eyes were clenched shut.  He couldn’t bear watching as the horse dodged one tree after another, shifting his direction before his hooves hit the ground at a speed that was shocking.  He knew if he fell off he’d be trampled by the second horse they were leading behind them.  His hold tightened even more.  He had no desire to go to his eternal resting place as a pulverized corpse.  His stomach roiled with fear and he swore repeatedly that he’d never sit a horse again as long as he lived; if he lived through this ride.


“Sorry, Doc, ain’t gonna happen.  Think you could ease up on the squeezin’?  It’s gettin’ kinda hard to breathe.”  A moment later, the Kid felt the arms bending his ribs through his chest loosen a tiny bit.  “Thanks.”  He was following his own tracks from this morning and it was taking all his concentration to make sure they didn’t get lost.  Fortunately, the dry, trampled grasses hadn’t recovered from his passing this morning and there was a faint trail stretching ahead of them.  “Won’t be much longer.”


XXX


Mac had reached for Heyes forgetting his legs were handcuffed around the post.  An abrupt jerk reminded him all too quickly how futile his actions were and he fell back gasping as a hot dagger of pain shot through his injured foot.  The hateful outlaw was watching him but he wasn’t about to give the grinning jackass the satisfaction of witnessing his weakness.   He got his breath under control and sat back against the table.  “You have no right to judge me, Heyes.  I ain’t breakin’  the law.”


A dimpled smirk cut into Heyes’ cheek.  “That depends whose law we’re talking about, don’t it?  You say you’re a god-fearing man, what do you think God will say come Judgment Day about how you go about doing your job?”


“You worried about my immortal soul?”


“I’ve just always wondered how people like you can thump their bibles and claim to be God’s chosen right before they do the most horrific things.  Gives truly good church-going folks a bad name.”  


“The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked,” said Mac with a triumphant smile.  “Psalm 58:10.”




“Sees the vengeance doesn’t mean the same as taking vengeance.”  Heyes shook his head.  “Romans 12:17-21.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


Mac’s mouth fell open at Heyes’ lengthy, detailed recitation.


Dancing brown eyes mocked him as Heyes added, “I kinda get the feeling that God wants you to leave the revenging to him, don’t you?”


XXX


Kid Curry slowed his horse as the trees began to thin and he spotted the old cabin nestled in the meadow.  He felt Minner behind him leaning to one side for a better view.


“Are we there?” asked the doctor hopefully.


“Yeah.”  Everything looked ominously quiet.  The Kid drew his gun.  He couldn’t hear any sounds except the rustling of the browned meadow grasses rippling in a slight breeze.  That worried him.  It was past dusk and the light was fading away.  He squinted towards the cabin looking for movement of any kind.  There was none.


“Why did you draw your weapon?”


“’Cause I’m a naturally cautious man, Doc.”  Curry sent his horse into a walk but kept his Colt trained on the cabin.


“Surely your friend won’t shoot us.”


“He won’t, but the fella with him wouldn’t hesitate.”


“He’s not alone?”


“Nope.  The man who shot him is in there, too.”


“You left him alone with him?!”  Minner couldn’t keep the surprise out of his voice.


“Had to; Joshua needed a doctor.  Mac’s tied up.  At least he was when I left.  I’m just makin’ sure things haven’t changed.”


The doctor shrank back behind the Kid, closed his eyes, and held his breath as they neared the shack.   The horse halted again and he felt Curry begin to dismount.  “Wait!”  The Kid froze.  “Just in case…what’s your name?”


“Jones.  Thaddeus Jones.  My friend is the dark-haired fellow.  Joshua Smith.  Cyrus Lamford’s the other guy.  Goes by Mac.  Watch out for him.  He’s mean as a rattler.”  The Kid slipped out of the saddle and handed the reins to Minner.  “Stay here ‘til you see me wave.  If all hell breaks loose, get outta here.  Contact Sheriff Lom Trevors in Porterville and let him know what happened.”


The doctor’s eyes widened.  “You work for a sheriff?”


“No.  He’s a good friend.” 


Greatly relieved to realize this fearful man was not some random outlaw, Minner smiled down at the blond.  “Be careful.”


The Kid nodded, “Always am,” and started towards the cabin using the scant trees for cover, zigzagging between them, his eyes on the front of the building.


XXX


Mac was still staring at Heyes with undisguised hatred when Kid Curry appeared in the doorway.


“Nice to see you two makin’ friends.”


Heyes beamed at his partner.  “Haha, I wouldn’t go that far.  Did you bring a doc?”


“Yep.  Hold on a sec and I’ll let him know it’s safe to come in.”  The Kid leaned out of the door and waved vigorously to Minner.  He chuckled as the doctor tried to persuade his horse to obey him then turned back to Heyes.  “He’ll be here in a minute.  You look better.”


“I think I am.  Mac, however, seems to have sprung a leak.”


Curry’s eyes shifted to the other man.  He noted the handcuffs around the ankles and the bloody rag wrapped around Mac’s foot.  “Nice shot.”


Heyes grinned.  “I’ve been practicing.”  


An alarmed cry followed by a muffled thud announced that the doctor had arrived.  Minner came through the door straightening his jacket with one hand and clutching his bag with the other.  His legs were rubbery from the ride and gave him the general appearance of a drunken sailor on shore leave.  His eyes met Heyes’.  “Yes, there, well, um, Mr. Smith, I’m Dr. Minner.”  


“Joshua,” nodded Heyes, “and that’s Mac Lamford.  He’s in need of your services, too.”


Minner acknowledged Mac and then turned back to Heyes as the Kid leaned over and whispered very softly to Mac.  “One word about us and you’re a dead man.”


Minner set his bag down on the bed and gently began to unwrap the rags from Heyes’ foot.  He whistled softly as he saw the ugly purple wound.  When he poked it slightly it oozed pus and some other substance. “What on earth did you put on this wound?”  He asked as he turned to look at the Kid.


“Pine tar.  It was all we had,” said Curry, sheepishly.


“Yes, well, there’s a nasty infection brewing in there and these rags didn’t help.  I’ll scrub it with some iodine and cut away the bad tissue but I’m afraid I’ll need to apply Bromine.  Let me have a look at Mr. Lamford first.”


“He’ll keep,” said the Kid, firmly.


“Nonsense,” replied Minner.  He walked over the bound man and knelt down.  “Mr. Lamford, may I have a look at your wound?”


“Well, since you asked so nicely…”  Mac gestured for him to proceed and watched as the doctor examined his foot.


“Fortunately, your wound appears clean, sir.  I’ll re-clean it with some iodine and we’ll have to keep an eye on it for a few days but I think you’ll be fine.”  Minner stood up and look at the Kid.  “I’ll need clean water.” He nodded towards the bucket.  “Can you start a fire?  Boil that for at least ten minutes.”


“It’s already been boiled.” 


“You’ll need to do it again, I’m afraid.”  Minner watched the Kid pick up the bucket and go through the door before he turned back to Heyes.  “Mr. Smith, I’m afraid this will be quite painful.  May I give you some laudanum to ease your suffering?”


“Let’s hold off until Thaddeus returns,” answered Heyes.  “As friendly as he looks, Mac’s a dangerous man; shot me for no good reason.”


Mac seethed.  “He’s lying.  He’s Hannibal Heyes and his partner is Kid Curry.  I was taking him in to collect the reward.  I shot him so he wouldn’t try getting away.”


Minner looked at the sheer ugliness on Mac’s face.  He could easily believe the man would shoot someone for his own convenience.  Jones had already warned him about this man, too.  “I don’t care who he is, he’s my patient.  Now, Mr. Smith, lay back and try to relax.”


“I’ll relax when Thaddeus is back.  Meanwhile, I’d like to keep my wits about me.”  Heyes’ hand rested on his gun tucked by his side.


Seeing the weapon, Minner nodded.  “Yes, well, perhaps prudence is best.  In the meantime, I will light the lantern and get my instruments out.” 


When the Kid returned with the steaming water, Dr. Minner prepared a heavy dose of laudanum for Heyes.  Heyes drank the bitter liquid.   All watched as the drug took effect and his eyes closed and his breathing slowed.  


“Mr. Jones, I’ll need your assistance.  This procedure will be quite painful and Mr. Smith must be adequately restrained.  If you could please position yourself by his hips, I’ll have you hold down his legs as I work on his foot.”


With practiced ease, Dr. Minner cleaned and debrided the entry and exit wounds.  Heyes twisted fitfully from time to time but the Kid’s grip held his foot firmly in place.  Once the task was completed, Minner lifted a portion of bromine-soaked lint from a small porcelain bowl with a pair of forceps and paused.  “You’ll need to hold tight, Mr. Jones.  This will burn.”  He waited until the Kid was ready then quickly plunged the lint into the open entry wound.  The effect was immediate.  Heyes screamed and sat up struggling with all his strength.  His hands beat at the Kid’s back and he yelled obscenities before finally weakening, falling back, and sobbingly begging them to stop.  Curry’s arms shook with the strain of holding his partner down but he didn’t let go.  His eyes were glued to Heyes’ face and the relief he felt when Heyes passed out was palpable.  


Dr. Minner quickly applied another wad of soaked lint to the exit wound for good measure and secured the lint in place with clean bandaging.  When he finished, he gave the Kid a kind smile and noted the grayish pallor of his assistant.  “Very well done, Mr. Jones, I know that was difficult for you.  Now, let’s see to Mr. Lamford.”


“You ain’t touchin’ me,” said Mac menacingly.


“No need to worry, Mr. Lamford.  Your wound will not require such extreme treatment.  I assure you it will be only be a little painful.  However, we must remove those handcuffs, they are cutting off the circulation.”


 “That ain’t safe, Doc,” began the Kid.


“Well, it’s not safe for Mr. Lamford to leave them on and I’m afraid it’s not up for discussion.  The cuffs must come off.”


“It’s a real bad idea, Doc.” 


“I would’ve thought you would agree that crippling a man for your own convenience was objectionable,” countered Minner thereby ending the argument.


Mac was careful to keep a neutral expression on his face as the Kid begrudgingly removed the cuffs but his mind was working overtime on the possibilities that had just opened up for him.


“Mr. Jones, may I request your services again?”  Minner handed Mac a small dose cup of laudanum.  “Drink up, sir.”


“I ain’t drinkin’ that.  Curry, keep your paws off me, I’ll handle it.”   Mac crossed his arms defiantly.


“Sir…”


“Do what you have to do,” snapped Mac.


“You heard him, Doc.”  The Kid was looking forward to delivering some pain of his own to Mac.


True to his word, Minner tried his best to avoid unnecessary discomfort and was soon wrapping Mac’s foot in clean bandages.  “There.  You were quite brave, Mr. Lamford.”  He put the foot down gently and turned away to wash up.


A surly grunt was all Mac could offer as a reply.  Beads of sweat were dotting his forehead but he had kept his teeth clenched throughout the treatment with only a small whine or two escaping through his lips.  


The Kid had been disappointed.


“Well, I’m famished.”  Minner rummaged around in his doctor’s bag and came up holding a sack.  “The wife prepared me a rather generous meal.  Would you and Mr. Lamford care to share? ”


“You go ahead, Doc.  I’ve lost my appetite,” replied Curry.  He went over and sat down on the edge of Heyes’ bed, tucking the covers securely around his partner and patting his shoulder protectively.


Minner watched him thoughtfully.  The fearsome man who had kidnapped was long gone and in his place was a kind and caring person.  Jones’ affection for his partner was heartwarming.


Mac smiled meanly.  “I’ll have some.  Listenin’ to Heyes scream has made me hungry.”


Minner frowned.  It was plain to him that Mr. Jones was not the frightening man he’d thought he was.  No, the only frightening man around here was Mr. Lamford.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“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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elleree

elleree

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PostSubject: Re: Eternal   Eternal EmptyWed May 29, 2019 9:07 pm

So this one is a stand alone story I had inspired by a weird conversation with Hanna Heyes. Silly me thought this had to be under 2000 words and cut a bunch of great scenes. Sadly I hadn't saved the longer version, buuuut I did rewrite the favorite bits I remembered and now I am at 3330 words just in time for the deadline. Thanks Remuda!



****

"Ire and Ipecac"

Kid Curry was carrying his partner and he practically kicked the door to the doctor's office open.
 
“I need a doc, now!” He wasn't trying for angry gunslinger, but he had a tendency to snap when he was worried, and he'd just carried his sick partner several blocks.
 
“Kid,” Heyes mumbled, chiding him with one word. His dark hair was plastered with sweat, his skin was clammy and he was shaking with chills. He'd vomited once, but although extremely nauseous, he hadn't been able to repeat the performance.
 
“I need the doctor now, please.” Kid reiterated.
 
The nurse came over and took one look at the two of them--angry and worried blonde gunslinger holding a green-tinted, dark haired man--and ushered them through the waiting area into a private room.
 
“Here, put him down in this bed.” She got a pan presumably for Heyes to puke in and put a few pillows behind him. “I'll make certain the doc is right in,” she soothed the brown eyed man. She eyed Kid, standing over the bed. “You shouldn't have moved him! We would have come to wherever you’re staying.”
 
Most days Kid would have replied with a more moderated tone, but he had about had it. He didn't yell, but his irritation was evident. “Well, ma'am, I would bear that in mind for next time, except not only did they refuse to call the doctor, they KICKED US OUT of the hotel. They threw our bags out, too, and I'm gonna guess they got stolen because I left them to lie there so I could find your office and get some help for my friend. So could you please get some help for him now?”
 
Instead of looking affronted or upset, the nurse's eyes softened. “Of course. I'll be right back. There's a pitcher on the side board if he needs water.”
 
She left and the two were left in the small room, which seemed like a bedroom instead of a room in a clinic. This was probably because the doctor’s office was in a house.
 
Heyes doubled over with cramping and made that horrible retching sound. Kid readied the pan for him, but again nothing came out.
 
“Did you... really...leave our stuff...in the street?” Heyes asked his partner who was watching him with worried blue eyes. He felt awful but knew how worried Kid was, and decided the best distraction for them both would be for him to pick at Kid a little.
 
“Yes, Heyes, I did.”
 
“What'd ya do...that for?”
 
Kid gave him an incredulous look. “I was a little preoccupied with carryin’ you at the time.”
 
“But our clothes and everything...will be gone,” Heyes replied.
 
“Tell ya what, next time I'll leave you in the street and just carry our stuff off, if that'll make you feel better.”
 
“At least you lost...that pink shirt…”
 
Kid gave him the Look. “Too bad your hat wasn't in there.”
 
Heyes laughed, then had to groan. “You're...just jealous.”
 
“Lie to yourself, then, if it makes ya feel better.”
 
“Don't think... anything will…”
 
Kid frowned at him, and stood to get a cloth from the side table and wet it down. He took off Heyes’ infamous hat and put the damp cloth on his partner's forehead. “You're burnin’ up.”
 
“Hadn't...noticed…” Heyes replied, shivering.
 
Kid gave a long suffering sigh. “Next time, just eat when I tell ya.”
 
Heyes let out a breath; the cool washcloth felt good against his burning brow. “How...would that...have helped?”
 
“Then you wouldn't have eaten a corned beef sandwich after it had cooked in your saddlebags all day!” It would've been a yell except that Heyes was sick, so it was more of a loud whisper. The finger pointing was only a little threatening, given the circumstances.
 
“Your fault,” Heyes replied, curling up in the fetal position on the bed.
 
Kid pulled off his boots. “How you figure that?”
 
“Y’ate too big…a breakfast.” Heyes muttered.
 
“What?” Kid dropped his partner’s boots next to the washstand.
 
“You were still full…so I took lunch…to go.” Heyes sat up and grabbed the vomit-pan.
 
Curry’s eyes widened. “You refused to eat breakfast. I TOLD you to eat.”
 
“No one besides you eats without a cup of decent coffee,” Heyes grumbled. He hovered over the pan but nothing happened.
 
“Like you’d know what a decent cup of coffee tastes like!” Kid retorted.
 
Despite the sick cast to his skin tone, Heyes sat up and narrowed his eyes. “Don’t you start on my coffee!”
 
The doctor walked in followed by the lady nurse. “Hello, I'm Dr. Sampson. I've heard you’ve had a rough day.”
 
“That’s for sure,” Kid Curry muttered.
 
“He meant me, Thaddeus. The one that’s actually sick.”
 
“I’m sick of dealin’ with ya,” his friend replied, but he made room for the doctor and watched his friend.
 
“This won’t fix everything, but don't worry about where you'll stay,” Dr. Sampson said. “This is my house as well as my office. You can stay here as long as necessary. The bottom floor has a couple of patient rooms.”
 
“Thanks,” Heyes said. “I'm Joshua Smith and my grumpy friend is Thaddeus Jones.”
 
“He's been real sick,” the 'grumpy friend’ said in a concerned tone. “Retchin’ but not gettin’ anythin’ up most of the time, fever, chills, bad cramps. The attitude’s just normal.”
 
“Ha ha,” Heyes said.
 
“Have you been able to drink anything?” Dr Sampson asked Heyes.
 
“No.”
 
“Were the symptoms sudden? Did you eat something that seemed bad?”
 
“He had a spoiled sandwich,” Kid replied.
 
The doctor took out his stethoscope and a thermometer, and did an examination. “Well, Mr. Smith, I am going to give you syrup of ipecac. You need to get the poison out of your system so we’ll force your body to cooperate. The nurse will set you up with a bedside commode as well, so you won't have far to go.”
 
“So y'think it's food poisoning?” Heyes asked.
 
“Yes, I don’t think it’s anything else. You should be fine in a day or possibly two. The nurse will give you the ipecac.” The doctor made to leave as the nurse went to Heyes.
 
“Be right back,” Kid told his friend, following the doctor into the hallway. “Sir, I have $15.00 and my partner has about the same. If that ain't enough, I can work-”
 
“That's more than enough. I would say the whole thing will be less than $5.00, unless there are complications.”
 
“But the room-”
 
“Don't worry about it for now. I don’t charge for that. The room is his and I can find you another-”
 
“I'll just stay with him,” Kid replied gratefully. “The armchair’s fine.”
 
“I’ll get you a cot to sleep on in there, but, Mr. Jones, it isn't going to be pleasant…”
 
“I know, but someone's got to keep him in line. He is the world's worst invalid, believe me,” Kid replied. “So you said he'll be alright?”
 
Dr. Sampson smiled at the man. “Yes, he’ll get better soon.”
 
“You said somethin’ about complications,” Kid said, not quite accusingly but definitely mistrusting.
 
“I can't imagine there will be any, son but I'm naturally cautious. Have you eaten anything?”
 
“Not since breakfast, but I'm fine.” Although it pained him to turn down food, Kid was too worried about Heyes to let it bother him much. Also, he really had gorged himself that morning and hadn’t needed lunch…but it wasn’t his fault Heyes refused to eat at normal times.
 
“I'll see if Miss Reed can find something.”
 
“Thanks Doc.” Kid went back inside and the nurse handed him the 'sick pan’ and said if he needed her, to call anytime. He was worried enough he barely noticed how pretty she was, and figured he could handle it, now that Heyes was at a doctor's office and getting taken care of and he knew it wasn't some terrible illness like the hotel staff had thought. It was better if he did because Heyes was feverish and liable to start telling everyone in listening distance about their past robberies.
 
“Where'd you go?” Heyes asked when the nurse left the room.
 
“Not far enough if I'm back just in time for your pukin’,” Kid said jokingly, pulling his chair next to the bed and readying the pan.
 
“We got enough money for this?”
 
“I got it covered, Heyes.”
 
 “Covered how?”
 
“We can afford it. I asked the doc,” Kid said, trying not to sound exasperated.
 
“Oh right, doctors never add last minute charges,” Heyes said sarcastically.
 
Kid sighed and kept his annoyance in check. “Heyes, I have it covered.”
 
“That’s debatable.”
 
Kid bit his tongue and sat down, managing not to throw the puke pan at his partner. This was going to be a long convalescence.
 
***
 
When the nurse came back in, Kid looked up gratefully. “Need a new pan, this one’s full!”
 
The nurse—Miss Reed, she said—hurried back out and traded pans. “Here, Mr. Smith, drink some water.”
 
She bathed the patient’s forehead and made sure he drank. She also looked at his partner who looked tired. “Mr. Jones, I have your friend for a minute. If you look behind the front desk, you’ll find a surprise.”
 
Thaddeus Jones looked at her in surprise and, at her flirtatious smile, smiled back, but stayed by the bed. Mr. Smith waved a hand to shoo his friend away.  Miss Reed watched the blonde saunter toward the front office, enjoying the view—and thus when Mr. Smith vomited, she didn’t move the pan in time and it ended up all over her shoes.
 
***
 
“So they didn’t take anything but our supplies?” Hannibal Heyes asked in rough voice. His throat was unhappy after all of the vomiting despite the tea he’d forced down.
 
Kid, looking haggard himself as he’d been up all night with Heyes, nodded. “Nope. They didn’t take nothin’ else, so you can get off my case about it.”
 
 
“Your clothes scared ‘em away,” Heyes said.
 
“I was thinking the same thing about yours,” Kid replied.
 
Miss Reed had sent an errand boy to check on their bags in front of the hotel and had peeked inside them curiously. She was unsurprised those two ugly suits hadn’t been stolen. She doubted even rag-pickers would want them.
 
“Time for some more medicine,” she said in a cheerful voice. She had to bite her lip not to smile at the look both cowboys leveled at her.
 
“Great,” Heyes replied. He and the nurse had not warmed to one another, although it could have been partially embarrassment on his part.
 
***
It was on the third day that Kid approached the nurse. “So the doc said there were a couple of rooms—“
 
“Oh, we’re full now.”
 
“Ah,” Kid said, trying not to look disappointed.
 
“It’s the smell, huh?” Miss Red asked sympathetically. There was nothing like the smell of food poisoning coming out of a body from all ends.
 
The blonde waved a hand. “It’s more that I think we might…benefit from some time apart.” Or I might, he thought to himself. “But since I’m here, can I get some more water?”
 
“Of course,” the nurse said. “And can I get anything for you? You’ve been such a dedicated friend.”
 
Kid glanced at her due to the tone and smiled at her. “I’m all right, ma’am, but-“
 
“Thaddeus!” Heyes’ voice called.
 
Kid counted to ten and walked back in the room. Ever since his friend had felt good enough to boss him around, Kid had been fighting annoyance. He walked inside. “Yes, Joshua? What was so urgent that I had to come right off? Need your pillow fluffed again?”
 
Heyes gave him his wounded expression. He’d been forbidden by the doctor to leave the bed and so when arguing to go hadn’t worked, he’d done a reversal and started ordering his partner around. “Kid, I’ve been horribly sick. Have I ever not helped you, when you were sick?”
 
Kid rolled his eyes. “And how did a book, playing cards, and the newspaper help you recover?”
 
“I’m not like you, Kid. I can’t go without mental stimulation. My brain needs activity.”
 
“Heyes,” Kid said in the voice of someone who’d had enough bed pans, puke pans, directions, and insults to last him a lifetime. “You keep this up and I will GIVE you some stimulation.”
 
***
 
“Here, you can keep the ipecac just in case, and I've also included a packet of stomach powder.”
 
“Thank you, Miss Reed,” Heyes said with a dimpled smile. “I only hope never to use either again.”
 
The dark-haired ex outlaw sounded as though he was back to his usual self, but to Kid's eye he was too thin in the face and still pale. They'd ride just an hour or so and then Kid would think of an excuse to stop. He hadn't been able to convince Heyes to take a train or a stagecoach or, heaven forbid, stay in town. He got the rap for being obstinate, but he wasn’t the only one.
 
“And here, Mr. Jones,” Miss Reed said shyly. “I got you some candy for the ride. You were an excellent help to me, thank you. If you ever decide to become a nurse, come back and I'll train you myself!”
 
Kid smiled at her broadly and she smiled back, blushing. “If you were training me, ma'am, I might take you up on that offer.”
 
She opened her mouth to speak.
 
“Well thanks, nurse,” Joshua interjected. “For everything.” He turned and headed outside.
 
Curry followed him, catching up in several strides. “Hey, what's the rush?”
 
“We already paid the doc. Why linger?”
 
“I was sayin’ goodbye-- oh I get it,” Kid said knowingly as he caught up with him. “You're jealous.”
 
Heyes snorted. “I am not. Just think it's unusual my nurse preferred to give you the sweet goodbye. Women are supposed to enjoy taking care of invalids. She should've been doting on me.”
 
“Well, Heyes, maybe she was...until you puked all over her shoes. Twice. And once on her frock. And then all over the curtains. Oh and the bedspread. Plus after cleanin’ your—”
 
“I get it, Kid,” Heyes said, striding off. “Let's just get our horses.”
Kid followed and after they'd mounted, he glanced at his friend. “You sure you're up to this?”
 
Heyes gave him a Look. “You worry about staying on your horse and I'll--”
 
“Worry about stayin’ on your horse, I know. Still.” Kid frowned at him.
 
“I’m fine. Quit mother-henning me.”
 
The two rode out of town together, keeping a slow pace.
 
***
 
An hour later and Kid wished he was back in the clinic’s tiny room with Heyes alternately puking and bossing him. The two were surrounded by four bounty hunters who appeared to have about 5 teeth between all of them and possibly one full set of brains. Getting caught by the toothless trackers was embarrassing. Although they didn’t seem to want to kill them, Kid felt he might die of embarrassment. The duo exchanged a glance.
 
“Hambull Hames,” the leader of the bunch said. “Git off da horsh an’ drop y’ gums.”
 
“I can say in all honesty I’m not sure who you are referring to,” Heyes said. “My name is Josh—“
 
The toothless rider clicked the hammer back on his gun. Kid edged his horse closer to Heyes’ and the man pointed the weapon at him instead.
 
Another man—he actually had teeth, although they were black colored, smiled widely at Heyes. “He said to get down and drop your gun, Heyes.”
 
“All right,” Heyes said as he slowly got off his horse and tossed his gun aside. “But my name is Joshua Smith and this is my partner, Thaddeus Jones. I know he has a common face-“
Kid shot him a look.  “But he can’t help it, he was born that way. I reckon he just looks troublesome so people figure we must be a pair of outlaws.”
 
“Shurrup,” another member of the hygiene-free league of bounty hunters spoke up, shooting a glob of tobacco juice right onto Heyes’ boot.
 
Heyes quieted. Kid glared, waiting for his turn.
 
“Okay Mr. Curry, off your horse slow like.”
Kid complied since one of the men had his gun directly pointed at Heyes’ temple.
 
“Now toss your gun in Jim’s direction,” Blackteeth directed, nodding at the tobacco mouthed man. “Usin’ your left hand.”
 
“Want me to send a couple of bullets in his direction, too?” Kid asked innocently, hands up. This wasn’t the kind of rest stop he’d had in mind. How had they managed to get bushwhacked by bounty hunters not 45 minutes into the ride?
 
Jim replied by hitting Curry with the butt of his rifle and Kid went down to his knees, world spinning.
 
“Hey! You didn't have to do that!” Heyes, already unarmed, yelled.
 
Kid felt his gun get grabbed and himself be tied up. He was shoved over next to Heyes, who had struggled upright and was bending over him as best as possible while he was trussed up.
 
“You okay?” Heyes asked.
 
“Never better,” Kid mumbled.
 
The one with the black teeth and silver spurs picked up Kid’s gun. “This sure is a pretty piece. Don’t see no notches on it though.”
 
He walked over and shoved Kid hard so that he fell back. The gunslinger merely narrowed his eyes and the man above him looked unnerved.
 
“You think you’re somethin’ special huh? Some kind of tough guy?”
 
Heyes knew where that was headed and decided to speak up. “Excuse me sir. I hate to tell you, but you’re mistaken on who we are. You won’t be able to afford the work after all.”
 
“Huh?”
 
“I assumed you wanted a bounty to take care of those teeth.”
 
Blackteeth scowled at Heyes and moved over toward him. “You think you’re funny?”
 
“Well, no. That wasn’t a joke. A joke would be if I asked, what time’s the best time to schedule a dentist visit?” Heyes said. “Give up?”
 
The man stared at Heyes, confused.
 
“Tooth hurty.”
For a minute there was a staring contest and finally the man walked over to his compatriots, keeping his gun on the duo.
 
The pair watched as the bounty hunters ransacked their saddlebags.
 
“I don’t think he got the joke,” Kid said.
 
“No, but our being captured by these guys is a joke. How’d it happen?”
 
“I blame you,” Kid said affably as he worked on the ropes around his wrists.
 
“Hey boys, looks like they're holdin’ out on us.” One of the hunters held up the bottle of ipecac.
 
“Whash it say?”
 
“Sometfin’ ‘bout eternal use only.”
 
“Internal,” Heyes muttered.
 
“Eternal use? Like one of them cure-alls?”
 
“Ippiekak,”
 
“Sounds foreign.”
 
“Hey them things’re mostly booze.”
 
“In that case, let's have some. It ain’t every day we catch Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes!”
 
“I wouldn't, if I were you,” Heyes warned.
 
“Nobody asked you, Heyes.”
 
Heyes exchanged a look with the Kid. They couldn't say he didn't try to warn them.
 



Twenty minutes later, Kid and Heyes were free, leaving the gunslingers trussed up and vomiting everywhere. Out of the kindness of his heart, Heyes left them the stomach powder.
 
The partners rode quickly in the opposite direction.
 
“You still doin’ okay?” Kid called over.
 
“I’m doing great!” Heyes replied. “Better than them. So tell me, was one of them named Ralph?”
 
“Oh ha ha, Heyes. Another pun.” There was a pause and then Kid grinned over at his friend. “I just can’t stomach that kind of humor.”
 
Heyes laughed as the two of them galloped off into the distance.
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