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 After Shock Chapter thirteen

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Keays

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Posts : 1433
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 60
Location : Camano Island Washington

PostSubject: After Shock Chapter thirteen   Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:26 pm

After shock-Part one   Note; The un-edited version of After Shock can be read on the 'Adults Only' link at the bottom of the site page.


 Jed couldn’t believe how nervous he was in that surrey ride up to the governor’s offices.  He would have thought that after the events of the two previous days, nothing would faze him again, but he was sure wrong about that.  Jeez, you’d think they were taking me on my last ride to the gallows instead of my first ride towards freedom!
 Lom pulled the horse up to the hitching post in front of the main building.  A livery man quickly stepped forward to hold the animal’s head while Lom, Steven and Jed stepped out and made their way up the steps and through the large front doors.  The receiving area was of course, luxurious with high ceilings and fine paintings on the walls not to mention the hardwood floors and plush carpeting that would have made any cat burglar tremble with anticipation.
 They were instantly met by another lackey who showed them the way into a spacious waiting room that was even more posh than the receiving area.  One noticeable difference was that this room included numerous cushy chairs that silently enticed the visitors to come and sit and relax and not worry about how much time they were being forced to wait for their audience.  In this particular case however, there was no waiting.  The three men didn’t even have a chance to indulge in the fine upholstery before the secretary, Mr. Higgins entered from another doorway and summoned them into the office.
 Jed felt uncomfortable, as he often did when finding himself in an atmosphere of obvious wealth and power.  Heyes had always been able to fit right in to this type of environment, almost as though he were born to it.  But not Curry; it always made him feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and the governor’s office was no exception.  The smell of fine wood and the feel of carpeting, like velvet spring grass under his feet, not to mention the book cases and more paintings all added to the Kid's feelings of uneasiness.  The large oak desk and last but not least, the previously elusive Governor Warren stepping forward to shake their hands all combined to make Curry feel insignificant.

 “Sheriff Trevors, how very good to see you again,”  Governor Warren lied through his teeth.  He shook hands with Lom and then turned to the other men.  “You must be Mr. Granger, Mr. Curry’s attorney.”

 “Yes sir,”  Steven answered, shaking his hand.  “Pleasure to meet you Governor.”

 “And now, the very elusive Kid Curry himself,”  Mr. Warren said as he offered his hand to the ex-outlaw.  “What a pleasure to finally meet you.”

 “Ahhh, thank you, Your Honour,”  Jed answered,  knowing he’d already probably said the wrong thing, and thinking how odd that the governor described him exactly the same way as the Kid had been thinking about Mr. Warren; ‘Elusive’.

 “Please gentlemen, be seated,”  Warren suggested, and the four men settled in around the desk in order to get down to business.  “Higgins!  Brandy’s all around.”

 “Yes sir.”

 “Well, gentlemen,”  Warren began, while Higgins went off to retrieve the drinks.  “I gave the papers right here and all ready to sign.  If you wish to look them over Mr. Granger I can certainly give you a few moments to do that.”

 At this point Higgins returned with four shot glasses of brandy on a tray and offered them around to the visitors before placing the fourth on the desk in front of his boss.  Then he picked up the papers and handed them to Steven.  The lawyer gladly accepted them, and placing his brandy on the small side table next to him, began to scrutinize the fine print.

 “Ahhh, Your Honour,”  Curry began.  “what about my partner, Hannibal Heyes?”

 Granger paused in his reading for a moment, not sure if this was the right time to be bringing that up, but it seems his client was not waiting for approval from him.

 “What about him?”  Mr. Warren asked innocently.

 “Well, the amnesty deal is supposed to include him as well,”  Curry reminded the honourable gentleman.

 “Mr. Heyes had his trial and was convicted,”  the Governor explained.  “That’s the end of it.”

 “No it’s not!”  Curry insisted.

 “Mr. Curry…” Granger warned him at the same times as Lom came out with his own; “Kid…”

 Curry ignored them.  “How can that be the end of it?!”  Jed demanded.  “Heyes deserves this more than I do!”

 Mr. Granger was about to say more to his client, but the Governor raised his hand to stop him and then he sighed and turned to his secretary.

 “Mr. Higgins,”  he summoned him.

 “Yes sir.”

 “Will you please bring in the ‘other’ paperwork that is associated with this case?”

 “I’ll need help with that sir.”

 “Use as much help as you need.”

 “Yes sir.”

 The four men waited quietly while Mr. Higgins went off to run his errand.  Steven continued to browse over the amnesty contract, but with the rising stress level in the office it was rather hard to concentrate.  Fortunately Higgins was not gone long, as suggested, he did not return alone.  He, along with two other assistants re-entered the office and then waddled over to the desk lugging large, bulging mail sacks obviously filled to the brim with correspondences.  The three men promptly plopped the large bags down on the carpet and opened them up just enough to reveal a variety of shapes, sizes and colours of envelopes, telegrams and even parcels which then began to spill out onto the floor.

 “This gentlemen,”  Governor Warren announced somewhat irritably. “is actually just a sample of the mail that has been inundating my office for the past month!  These are just the ones that we haven’t had time to OPEN AND READ YET!!  We don’t even have to open them to know what they say!  They’re all the same!  People insisting that this Office honour the supposed deal that was made with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!  I even had some boisterous rancher from Texas—TEXAS OF ALL PLACES!  Barge in here like he owned the place, demanding that I stop your trial and pardon Hannibal Heyes right this instant!  Continually expostulating about ‘what good boys they are—good boys—both of ‘em!  Etc. etc.”

 Both Lom and Steven had to cover their mouths to not appear rude with their responses to that.   Curry sent the Governor an exasperated look as though to say; ‘well then what’s the hold up?”.

 “The problem gentlemen,”  Mr. Warren continued.  “is that there are almost as many letters and telegrams demanding that I allow justice to take place!  That Kid Curry has to face whatever judgment is coming to him and Hannibal Heyes better just stay where he is!  Not to mention I had representatives from the Railroad Commission, the Banker’s Association and the Cattleman’s Association all in here practically threatening my life if I dared to give Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes an amnesty!
 Finally, in order to appease EVERYBODY it was agreed that since Hannibal Heyes had already gone to trial, been convicted and was incarcerated in the Territorial Prison that he could just bloody well stay there!  That took care of the Associations and their followers.  To hopefully quiet down the other side of the coin,”  and here he sent a disparaging look over to the sacks of mail.  “it was agreed to give the other partner the amnesty. One of you had to be thrown to the wolves Mr. Curry.  Perhaps you should just be thankful it wasn’t YOU!”

 Curry sat tight lipped with anger, the colour drained from his face and him just barely holding on to his self-control.  Lom, seeing the very real threat of the explosive temper that Mr. DeFord had been trying to ignite all morning, quickly stepped in to defuse the situation.

 “I think Mr. Granger and I need to take a few moments to discuss this with Mr. Curry, if you don’t mind Governor.”

 “Yes, yes of course,”  Mr. Warren agreed.  “but don’t take too long over it gentlemen.  I have a busy schedule and it’s the only deal you’re going to get.”

 Then the governor nodded to Mr. Higgins and the government official and lackey’s exited the office to give the attorney a moment of time with his client.

 “Kid, what do you think you’re doing?!”  Lom seethed.  “Now is not the time to get stubborn!”

 “It’s not right Lom!”  Curry argued back.  “How can I sign that agreement knowing that Heyes is the one paying for it!?”

 “Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor Mr. Curry,”  Mr. Granger pointed out. “You sign the agreement now you’ll be a free man and you can continue the fight along with the rest of us to get Mr. Heyes pardoned.  You dig in your heels and refuse it, you can bet that Governor Warren will throw you back to Judge Parsons and then what help will you be to your partner then?”

 “You best listen to him Kid,”  Lom strongly recommended.  “Ya' gotta look at the big picture here.”

 Curry sat back with a frustrated sigh, but at least his anger was defusing—thank goodness!  He was struggling with it, it went against his grain in every sense, but he knew that his friend and his attorney were right and eventually he nodded assent.
 Both Lom and Steven sighed with relief and then Steven went to the door leading out to the waiting room and announced their decision.

 “Governor Warren, my client has agreed to sign the papers.”


 Later that evening, Patrick McCreedy had reserved a private dinning room in one of the finest restaurants in Cheyenne and everyone had settled in for one of the more enjoyable experiences that city had so far offered them.
 Bridget and Beth had been quite elated at the prospect of being included in such a grand affair and giggled and laughed and spluttered a little at their first taste of champagne.  Jesse sat between his two girls in the hopes of keeping an eye on them, but they still managed to have their own way in the seating arrangements.  Bridget to his left had managed to maneuver a very co-operative Steven into the seat next to her.  Beth, to Jesse’s right had accomplished the same feat with Jed.  Both young ladies were having the time of their lives.  David was seated on the other side of Jed, then Lom and finally Clem with Big Mac beside her.
 Jed couldn’t help but smile a little, watching Clementine rejoice in her element.  Clem loved men.  She had never married because she had yet to meet a fella who would make it worth her while to forgo all others.  Even with Heyes and Curry, she was never able to say goodbye to one in order to commit to the other, so she remained free and flirted with all.  Big men, little men. Rich men, poor men; she didn’t care; she loved them all and flirted shamelessly with whoever would give her a free rein.
 She happily gave equal attention to both Lom and Big Mac and those gentlemen were each greatly enjoying her company.  Clem carried on an endless chatter about everything and anything, from boyfriends and girlfriends to her life in Denver.  Then when her escapades with Heyes and the Kid became the topic of the evening, well then everybody joined in to relate some of their own adventures with the incorrigible duo.  Yes, the great food the fine champagne and the stimulating conversation flowed freely and a good time was had by all—except one.
 Jed Curry tried hard to join in on the festivities.  He ate the food, drank the champagne and joined in on all the toasting and congratulating and the joking and all the spirited conversation, but his heart just wasn’t in it.  The one person of all of them who should have been there was locked away, shivering in a prison cell.  How could Jed enjoy this fine dinner, this fine champagne and this fine company, knowing that?  How could he be happy and content with his good fortune, knowing that?
 Occasionally he would catch Clem’s eye and through her happy conversation and giggling flirtations she would send him a soft compassionate hug across the table all encompassed in a warm look passing between them.  She knew what he was going through, indeed all of his friends knew it and they each, in their own way sought to bolster his spirits the only way they knew how—in the offer of good companionship.
 Gradually the evening began to wind down.  Despite moans and groans of belts being too tight, desserts still found their way around the table.  Then everyone still managed to find room to finishe off with coffee’s or brandy’s accompanied by more sedate conversation.  The topic of what Jed’s plans were now came up, and he had to admit to being totally at a loss.

 “Oh please come home for Christmas!”  Beth got in there before any other suggestions could be brought forth.

“Ahhh…”

 “Yes, Thaddeus,”  Bridget seconded it. “it would be wonderful to have you come for Christmas and why not Thanksgiving too?   Momma would love to have you come and stay!”

 Jed looked at them suspiciously. “Oh your Mother would love it would she?”  he questioned with a smile in his voice.

 The girls both looked a little ashamed of themselves.  They knew that he knew that they were just using that as added pressure.  Jesse smiled at his daughters’ strategies.

 “Still, they are right Jed,”  Jesse supported their suggestion.  “you’re more than welcome to stay at the ranch though the winter.  Maybe give you some time to find your footing, and decide what you want to do.  I seem to recall saying once before; if you get bored I can always put you to work.’”

 “Uh huh,”  Jed commented skeptically.  “I donno…”

 “It might be a good idea Kid,”  Lom mentioned.  “Maybe you should get out of Wyoming and lay low for a while.”

 “Why?”  Jed asked his friend, a little confused.

 “Well, it seems to me there were quite a few people in that courtroom this morning who were not too happy with the way things ended,”  Lom explained.  “Seeing you out and walking about might just encourage some of them to consider taking ‘justice’ into their own hands.  You don’t need that kind of trouble right now.”

 Jed sighed.  “Oh yeah.  I never thought about that,”  he admitted.  “and my shootin’ arm sure ain’t what it should be.”

 “If you come back to Brookswood for the winter we can certainly do some work with that,”  David offered.  “Goodness knows if you want to be there for Christmas, you’re going to be snowbound then anyways.”

 The two girls were looking more and more hopeful that their suggestion was actually going to be taken up, but Jed still hesitated.

 “Yeah, but…”

 “You can’t get in to see Heyes anyways Kid,”  Lom reminded him, suspecting that this was the reason for him not wanting to leave the territory.  “The three month ban on visitors won’t be up until after the holidays and even then the weather could make it difficult to get there, even from Porterville.  It’ll probably be spring before you can get up to the prison to see him the way things are going.”

 “Yeah, if he’ll even want to see me,”  Kid mumbled.

 Lom furrowed his brow.  “Of course he’ll want to see you!  Why wouldn’t he?”

 Kid just shrugged.  “I donno.”

 Lom thought it was rather an odd thing for Kid to say, but then he dismissed it.  David also thought it was an odd thing for Jed to say, but he didn’t dismiss it.
 Then, before anything more could be commented upon, the two youngest members of the dinner party yawned in unison and then began apologizing profusely, blaming the taste of champagne for their drowsiness.  Jesse laughed.

 “Yes!  Or it could also be the late hour,”  he pointed out.  “I think it’s time for some of us to be retiring.”

 “Ohh, Papa!!”

 “We don’t want to leave yet!”

 But Jesse had made up his mind and—believe it or not—the hour was getting on to midnight, so high time his two girls were in bed.  He started to get to his feet and his daughters, admitting to themselves that the decision was made, pushed themselves away from the table as well.  The gentlemen present all stood to say goodnight to the ladies.

 “Well, if Mr. Jordan is escorting his daughters back to the hotel, I believe I will join them,”  Clem announced.  “It’s getting late for me too, so I’ll just leave you gentlemen to your brandy’s”

 “Oh Miss Hale, must you take your leave?”  Mac complained.

 “Oh yes,”  Clem insisted.  “A lady must get her beauty sleep.”

 “Oh well, you have nothing to worry about there ma’am,”  Mac assured her.

 “Why, Mr. McCreedy,”  Clem flirted.  “you are such a gentleman!”

 Jed rolled his eyes.  Both of them were having fun playing their little game.  Oh well, why not?  Then he felt Beth’s warm hand slip into his and give it a tight squeeze.  Jed, surprising himself, felt a slight tingling of pleasure at her touch and smiled down at her.

 “Goodnight Beth.”

 “Goodnight Thaddeus.”  

 And then, finding himself taken by surprise again, she reached up and gave him a brushing of a kiss on his cheek.  Her brown eyes smiled at him once more and then she slipped away towards the door.  Jesse walked by, sending Jed ‘the look’ that all fathers send to prospective suitors to keep them remembering their place.  Then Jesse heard Bridget give Mr. Granger a sweet goodnight, and that gentleman's equally pleasant response.  The parental figure thought with a sigh that there was another young man he needed to have a word with!
 As Jesse and the ladies exited the dinning room David stood up and stretched.

“Gentlemen, I believe I will retire as well,”  he announced.  “Mr. McCreedy, thank you for a wonderful dinner.  Perhaps I’ll see you all in the morning, over breakfast.”

 “Certainly young man!”  McCreedy boomed.  “You just keep up the good doctorin’ you doin’ with Thaddeus there!  I might be needing him for a job or two in the future and I’d like to think that he can still look after himself!”

 David smiled acknowledgment as Jed rolled his eyes.  What did that mean?!

 As David sauntered over towards the doors he motioned for Curry to come with him, out of earshot of the other gentlemen.  Jed felt a slight twinge of irritation at this beckoning, but followed him over anyways.

 “What David?”  Curry asked him with a bit of an edge to his voice.

 “How are you feeling?”  David asked.

 Curry sighed, his irritation growing.

 “I’m fine!”  he answered in a frustrated whisper.  “Will you stop hovering over me like a mother hen?!”

 “Alright,”  David agreed, not taking offense.  “You have some laudanum, but if you find yourself feeling restless and still can’t sleep, don’t hesitate to knock on my door and we can talk for a bit.  Okay?”

 “David, you hardly got any sleep last night,”  Curry responded.  “I’m not going to bother you!”

 “It’s no bother,”  David insisted.  “I’d rather you wake me up than go out and do something—rash.  So if you can’t sleep and start feeling irritated, just let me know.”

 “Okay David!”  Jed threw back at him.  “I’m feeling irritated!  LEAVE ME ALONE!”

 David smiled.  “Okay, I’ll see you in the morning.”  Then he glanced over at the group still sitting and enjoying the last of their brandies.  “Gentlemen—goodnight.”

 Jesse and David passed each other on the boardwalk leading to the hotel and said their goodnights to one another at that point.  Jesse sighed in disappointment watching David continue on to retire for the evening, as Jesse would have like nothing better to do the same thing himself.  It was late and he was tired too.  But he was a man on a mission and one more thing had to be taken care of before they all went their separate ways for the evening.
 As soon as he returned to the dinning room and poured himself a final brandy, he pulled Steven Granger aside and prepared for the ‘father—suitor’ talk.

 “Mr. Granger,”  Jesse began.  “I know that I am paying your fees for these two cases, which I am quite happy to be able to do.  What I didn’t realize was that those fees would include my first born.”

 “Oh…ahhh,”  Mr. Granger found himself without words.  “yes, of course.  My apologies Mr. Jordan….I didn’t realize….Oh dear.”

 Jesse smiled inwardly.  Sometimes it could be fun putting these young bucks in their place.

 “I believe I have the right to know your intentions,”  the parental figure continued.  “after all Bridget is not yet twenty and hardly in a position to arrange things for herself.”

 “No, no of course not,”  Steven stammered.  “you are quite correct.  I should have spoken to you sooner, but it all came up rather quickly.”

 “Uh huh,”  Jesse commented and then waited.  Nothing was forthcoming.  “Mr. Granger, what are your intentions?”

 “OH!  Ahhmmm.  Well, over this past month Bridget and I have become very involved,”  Jesse raised his eyebrows.  “OH!  NO!  Not that way!”  For an articulate lawyer, poor Steven was having a very hard time.  “I mean with getting our strategy worked out and our assault on the governor’s office put into motion.”  he smiled at the memory of his visit to see the Governor earlier that afternoon.  “and we seem to have been quite successful too.”  he added.  “Still, we have a long ways to go.  I have been needing an assistant and at first I thought that Bridget would fit well into that position….”  Jesse’s eyebrows went up even more.  “No, but then I realized that that wasn’t going to wash.  A young woman like herself coming to live here on her own would certainly not be acceptable.”

 “You’re quite right there Mr. Granger, it would not,”  Jesse agreed, enjoying watching the young man squirm.

 “Then I thought, perhaps if I moved my practice to Denver…”  Steven tentatively suggested.

 Jesse found himself genuinely surprised at this offer.  “You would be willing to pack up and move to another territory in order to continue seeing Bridget?”

 “Well yes,”  Steven stated, as though that should be obvious.  Then he realized that he wasn’t really following proper protocol and taking a deep breath, he stood up straight and looked Mr. Jordan in the eye.  “Sir, I ask your permission to formally start courting you daughter.”

 “Really?”  Jesse responded.

 “Well, yes.”  Steven repeated.

 “And how does Bridget feel about this?”

 “Oh, well, I haven’t actually asked her,”  Steven admitted.  “I just assumed that she would want to.”

 Jesse smiled again and laid a hand on Steven’s shoulder.

 “One word of advice Mr. Granger,”  Jesse told him.  “when it comes to young ladies—don’t ever assume anything.”

 “Oh, ahhh.  I suppose I should…”  all of sudden Steven was again feeling very insecure.

 Jesse finally began to take pity on the young man and decided it was time to put him out of his misery.

 “Tell you what,”  Jesse suggested.  “I can’t really give permission for anyone to court one of my daughters without their mother also having a say in it.  And since she has yet to meet you, I’m afraid it’s a no go at this point.”

 “Oh, of course.”  

 “But,”  Jesse quickly continued.  “if you would like to join us for Thanksgiving next month so that you can be formally introduced to my wife, then we can discuss this matter further.”

 “OH!  Yes of course!”  Steven brightened up.  “Yes!  I’d certainly like to come out to your ranch and meet your wife!  Thanksgiving!  Yes, I’m sure I can manage that!”

 “Good, Mr. Granger.  Good,”  Jesse smiled and they shook hands. Then he addressed the group.  “Gentlemen, I’m exhausted!  It has been a very busy and unusual day and I’m going to call it a night.  Thank you Mr. McCreedy for a fine supper and I hope to see you all in the morning—or should I say, later in the morning since it is well past midnight.”

 Goodnights were said all round at that point, and everyone headed off to their various beds for what remained of the nighttime hours.


 Curry paced and fidgeted and grumbled and paced some more.  First time in how long that he actually had a real bed to sleep in and he couldn’t settle enough to enjoy it.  Damn that Warren!!  Who the hell did he think he was—playing with people’s lives like that!?  ‘One of you had to be thrown to the wolves Mr. Curry.  Perhaps you should just be thankful it wasn’t you!’  Damn him to Hell!  That wasn’t right!  It wasn’t fair!  If one of them had to go to prison then it should have been Kid!  Curry knew that!  He’s the one who had actually killed people; he’s the one who didn’t deserve to be the free man!  Heyes never hurt a fly—at least not intentionally!  And now there he was stuck in that bloody prison!  It just wasn’t right.  Curry would have stood a better chance of surviving in prison, but not Heyes; Heyes couldn’t stand being cooped up!  It’ll drive him mad, slowly but surely it’ll kill him!
 Curry felt ready to explode.  There was no way he was going to be able to settle; he had to get out of here, find an outlet.  He had to get out!
 Steven had stopped by the jailhouse earlier that day and retrieved all of the Kid’s meager belongings, and Curry grabbed them now. His gun and holster he strapped on, though he fleetingly wondered why he bothered since he’d probably just shoot off his own foot if he tried a fast draw—it was just habit to strap it on; made him feel complete.  Then he threw on his sheepskin coat and his hat, made sure he had money on him, since what he had in mind wasn’t free and then headed out the door, towards the nightlife side of town.
 It was actually a beautiful night, clear and crisp with the stars like Diamond Jim’s diamonds sparkling on black velvet, but Kid didn’t notice as he approached the bright lights and loud tinny music coming from one of the local saloons.  All he cared to notice about the night is that it was cold; he could see his breath and he blew into his hands to try and warm them.  He could almost smell snow on the air.  Winter was coming.
 He opened the doors of the saloon, closed against the Wyoming night chill and entered into the warm, inviting establishment, welcoming all those who would rather drink and whore and gamble rather than sleep through the night.  A few heads turned at the opening of the door, but quickly went back to their original focus as soon as the newcomer was recognized.  Kid Curry was feeling mean; and it showed.  Nobody wanted to tangle with him.
 With barely a glance at the other patrons, Kid headed for the bar where a couple of local customers quickly shuffled down to make lots of room for him.  He practically snarled at them in his irritation.  The barkeep approached him, feeling safe in the knowledge that he was probably expected to do so.

 “What’ll ya have Mr. Curry?”

 “Whiskey,”  Kid grumbled.  “bring the bottle.”

 “Yessir.”

 The barkeep went off to fill the order, returned very quickly with a bottle and a shot glass and poured the customer his first drink.  Curry tossed payment onto the counter.  He downed the first shot in one go, poured himself another and then finally turned to survey the room before him.  He scanned over the group of people who made up the evening crowd and very quickly his gaze picked out the one person he was looking for.  He caught the eye of the middle aged woman who was dressed like she owned the place and a subtle nod from him was all it took to get her headed in his direction.

 “Well, good evening Mr. Curry,”  she greeted him as she sidled up to the bar beside him.  “I hear you’ve had quite a day.  Are you looking for quite a night as well?”

 “Yes ma’am, I surely am,”  Kid agreed.

 “Oh don’t go ma’am-ing me,”  she said.  “Name’s Lucy honey, now you just tell me what it is you’re lookin’ for tonight and I’ll see what I can do for ya’.”

 “Well first off, can I interest you in a drink?”

 “You most certainly can.”

 Jed nodded to the barkeep to bring over another glass and he poured the lady a drink.

 “You know what I’m lookin’ for Lucy,”  Jed said to her as he downed his third shot.  “Who do you suggest?”

 Now Lucy, being the experienced and professional Madam that she was had noticed Curry the instant he’d walked into the establishment.  It was part of her responsibility to look after her girls, so being able to judge a man’s mood and temperament before sending him upstairs could make the difference between a mean drunk and a happy customer.  She read Kid’s mood right off the bat; he was antsy, seething almost and there was a slightly wild look to his eye, like a young stallion that’d been cooped up in a stall for too long.
 Lucy did a quick scan of the room until she lighted on one of her girls in particular and beckoned her over.  The lady in question smiled and made her way to them.  She was young, but not too young, with long blond hair and smoky brown eyes.  ‘That’s appropriate,’  Kid thought and his eyes traveled over her tightly corseted figure as she approached them.

 Mr. Curry, this is Caroline,”  Lucy introduced them.  “and I think you will find her quite to your liking.”  Then she leaned in a little and added in a conspiring tone; “Caroline don’t mind at all if you get a little—rough.”

 Kid smiled slightly at that, obviously Lucy did know what he needed.

 “Howdy Caroline,”  he greeted her, looking at her everywhere but in her eyes.  “How’d you like a drink before I take you?”  then his smile broadened.  “....upstairs.”

 Caroline and Lucy exchanged a look.  Caroline smiled back at her customer.

 “Why I’d like that fine, Mr. Curry.”

 “Awww, Sweetness,”  he said as he poured her a drink into a glass that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  “you best call me Jed, cause I intend to get real intimate before this night is done.”

 Caroline smiled at him and moved in close, accepting her drink and downing it in one swig.  Lucy discreetly departed and left the two to get on with ‘business’.  After a few more drinks and a little more small talk, Jed tossed more coins on the bar in payment for the upcoming services and then took Caroline around the waist and steered her towards the staircase, he’d about had enough of the preliminaries.  Lucy watched them head up to the second floor with a slightly concerned look on her face.
 As soon as the couple had disappeared into one of the rooms, Lucy called over to one of her other girls.

 “Suzy, sweetheart, do me a favour will ya?”

 “Sure Miss Lucy, what’s up?”

 “You go up and settle yourself into the room next to Caroline’s alright?”  Lucy instructed her.  “The customer she’s with right now is in a mean spirit tonight.  If she gives you the signal that it’s getting too much for her, you let me know right away.”

 Suzy looked a little confused.  “But what’s the problem?”  she asked.  “Caroline likes it rough.”

 “Yeah honey, but there’s rough and then there’s rape,”  Lucy told her.  “You just listen over her.  If she gives the signal, you let me know, ya hear?”

 “Yes, Miss Lucy,”  and Suzy trotted up the stairs to settle in to guard duty.


 Heyes and Kid were on the run—again!  Both their horses were going flat out but they just couldn’t seem to lose that posse that had picked up their trail an hour and thirty miles ago.   It was getting worrisome. It was flat open terrain so trying to hide anywhere was pointless and all the other tricks of the trade they had used to confuse their pursuers just weren’t working.
 The horses were getting tired, but Kid continued to push Buck as hard as he could.  He knew his stalwart gelding was getting a little long in the tooth and these kinds of frantic races were getting to be too much for him.  Buck was giving it his best, solid fellow that he was, but he just couldn’t match Karma-Lou’s speed.  Heyes was holding her back, Kid could tell.  Holding her back so as not to leave the Kid behind, so as not to get separated.

 “Let her go Heyes!”  Kid yelled at him over the sound of rushing wind and pounding hooves.  “Let her run!  GET OUT OF HERE!”

 “NO!”  Heyes called back over his shoulder.  “C'MON!  We’ll loose them at the gulley!”

 Kid kept on, pushing Buck as hard as he could while at the same time afraid that he was going to push his honest horse right into the ground.  He kept his eyes on Heyes’ back, following him at that breakneck gallop towards those gulleys up.  He was praying that Heyes was right; that they could lose this determined posse within those twisting winding trails.
 The posse was getting closer; Kid could hear the pounding of their hooves as they closed the gap between themselves and the outlaws.  He heard rifle fire and prayed that none would find their mark.  They kept going, Heyes holding Karma back, Kid pushing Buck as much as he dared!
 Then a different sound boomed out from behind them.  A Sharps rifle let fly and the Kid lets out a silent scream as he sees Heyes’ back violently arch over in an unnatural manner.  Then he plunges forward into Karma’s neck and tumbles to the ground.   Karma, panic stricken, keeps running.  Buck charges past the crumpled figure, but Kid hauls ruthlessly on his mouth, bringing him around and sending him back towards his partner!
 Kid doesn’t even attempt to slow Buck down, but bails off at the gallop to plow into the ground beside Heyes and then scramble to him, putting a hand on his shoulder.  Kid can’t see his face, he’s lying on his stomach, but his back is a solid mess of blood and broken bone and shredded cloth!  Kid screams!  Then the posse’s horses are surrounding them, galloping in a circle, encompassing them!
 Kid stands and pulls his gun; he’s in a fury and starts shooting! A horse goes down and then a man plunges to the ground and then another man screams and falls.  Kid just keeps shooting, fanning the hammer and screaming his rage until the gun clicks on empty.  Suddenly a horse plows into him from behind and he’s sent sprawling to the ground, his gun flying across the dirt to land well out of reach.
 The men are off their horses and diving towards the outlaw.  Rough hands grab the Kid from behind, hauling him to his feet and pinioning his arms behind him.  Another arm circles his throat and squeezes until he can barely breathe!  One of the lawmen approaches Heyes and with a toe under the outlaws shoulder, rolls him over onto his back. Kid groans and he can feel his throat and eyes burn as tears roll down his cheeks.  Those dark brown eyes that were so often glinting with mischief and good humour were now staring dull and sightless up to the skies.

 “He’s dead, that’s for sure,”  smirked the man who had rolled Heyes over.

 “Good!” the apparent leader responded.  “One less to worry about!”

 Kid groaned again, his yell of rage and torment strangled off by the squeezing hold on his throat.  He tried to struggle, to fight back but the men held him firm and laughed at him.  His sobs fought to come forth but all he could do was choke on them.

 “That’s $10,000 lying in the dirt there boys!”  the leader proclaimed.  “Talk about a good day’s work!”

 Then the jovial countenance dropped from his demeanor and he glared at the Kid and approaching the outlaw, he pulled his gun and brought the weapon down hard against the side of Curry’s head.  Kid gasped and would have fallen to his knees but for the men holding him up.

 “On the other hand,”  the leader snarled.  “you killed four of my men Curry!  And you’re gonna pay for that.  Hold out his right hand boys!  Hold it out there—let’s see it!”

 The men holding Kid started snickering and one of them grasped Curry’s right wrist and pulled his arm away from his body, holding his hand out in the clear.  Curry started to struggle, frantic to get away, knowing what was coming.  But even through his terror and his anguish, he also knew that there was nothing he could do to stop it!  He screamed silently, fighting against the unyielding hold but he couldn’t break away and he was held firmly in place while the leader pressed the muzzle of his six-shooter into the palm of the Kid’s trembling hand and pulled the trigger.
 The Kid screamed, loudly and rent with anguish this time as the men holding him had let him go and he dropped to the ground, clutching his right hand and writhing in agony!  He could hear their laughter, and voices in the distance, mocking him.

 “C'mon Jed!  What’s the matter?!”  

 “Hey Jed!  Settle down.  There’s nothin’ to get upset about!”

 And rough hands were shaking him and suddenly he awoke with a violent start and went for his gun that wasn’t there and David’s face came into definition.  The doctor was standing over him, a gentle hand on his shoulder and concern in his eyes.

 “Wake up Jed,”  David was saying.  “It’s alright; you’re just having a bad dream.”

 Curry lay there, propped up on his elbows, shaking and gasping for air, fear and confusion in his eyes while he stared at David and tried to let go of the nightmare and come back to reality.

 “It’s alright Jed,”  David repeated.  “You’re alright.  It was just a dream.”


Last edited by Keays on Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:02 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: After Shock Chapter thirteen   Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:28 pm

After-Shock,  Part two.


Jed let go with a huge sigh as his ragged breathing began to slow and the numb tingling gradually retreated from his extremities.  He was on a train, he could tell that by the rocking motion and the clackity clack of the wheels rumbling along the tracks.  He was lying on his back across two seats with his sheepskin coat draped over him and a makeshift pillow stuffed up against an armrest so he could sleep.
 
 He lay back down feeling weak.  It was daylight, but he couldn’t remember getting on the train, he couldn’t remember anything after leaving the supper party—the previous night?  David smiled and giving him a pat on the knee returned to his seat across from the Kid, facing him.  Jed looked over to him and then noticed Jesse sitting beside the doctor by the window, an odd expression on his face.  Kid couldn’t decide if it was concern, or anger.

 Jed could then hear Clem’s laughing voice coming from further down the car.  Apparently they had the whole area to themselves.  Beth and Bridget were sitting with her, delighting in hearing all her wild stories of her adventures with Heyes and the Kid, properly embellished, of course with damsels in distress and heroic heroes.  Once Beth realized that Clementine was no threat to her designs on Thaddeus all three young ladies had quickly become fast friends and the animated stories were doing a lot to help pass the travel time away.

 Clem had paused briefly in her narrative and all three had looked with concern over to where the three men where situated, the sounds of Jed’s frightened cries instantly drawing their attention.  But they soon returned to their discussion once they realized that it was just a dream and that Jesse wasn’t actually taking the young man apart limb by limb.

 “You alright now Jed?”  David asked him.

 “Yeah.”

 “Must have been some dream you were having.”

 “Yeah.”

 “Do you want anything?”

 “No.”  

 Then Jed pulled his coat up over himself some more and settled back into the seats to go back to sleep.
 Jesse and David sat quietly for a while, lost in their own thoughts.  Jesse watching the scenery go sliding by the windows and David watching the prone man across from him.  Both of their expressions were strained.
 When enough time had passed for Curry to have fallen back to sleep, Jesse picked up the conversation from where they had been interrupted by the violent dream.

 “I donno David,”  Jesse admitted quietly.  “I don’t know how I could have thought that I knew these two fellas just based on the few days’ acquaintance four years ago.”  He sighed and looked over at the sleeping man. “What the hell’s the matter with him?  I swear if he even thinks about treating Beth the way he treated that saloon girl last night, I’ll kill him.”

 “I know,”  David answered sadly.  “I can certainly understand your concerns about that, but try not to be too hard on him Jesse.  Don’t give up on him yet.”

 “Yeah, right,”  Jesse answered a little sardonically.  “With all that stuff that came out in his trial and him insisting that he was sorry and he knows better now.  That he has his temper under control now.  Then he goes and does that!  I’m beginning to think that rather than being under control, his temper has just been laying dormant, waiting for an opportunity to explode.  And I don’t want Beth anywhere around him when it does.”

 “Last night was totally out of character, you know that just as well as I do,”  David insisted.  “and what happened was just as much my fault as it was his.”

 “Oh now David.  How could it have been your fault?”

 “Because before I left the dinner party, I knew he was depressed.  I knew he was edgy.  I could see it,”  David explained.  “I tried to get him to talk to me but he just got angry and pushed me away.  But I shouldn’t have accepted that, I should have stayed up with him.”

 “You were exhausted,”  Jesse reminded him.  “you were up with him most of the previous night and then we were all up late last night.  Even now you look like you could use a few hours.”

 “Doesn’t matter,”  David insisted.  “I should have done something.  Even parking myself outside his room door might have helped.  I might have been able to stop him.”

 “Yeah, or he might have just flattened you and gone anyways,”  Jesse pointed out and shook his head, confused.  “What’s gotten into him?”

 “The last four months have been pretty hard on him,”  David mused.  “He’s very depressed over what’s happened to Hannibal plus, I believe he’s still going through a mild withdrawal from the morphine.”

 “Mild withdrawal?!”  Jesse exclaimed.  “You call that mild?!”

 “Yes!”  David was emphatic. “He wasn’t taking enough of the drug for long enough to really become addicted.  He was only just becoming a little dependent on it when I was finally able to cut him off,”  David shook his head with regret.  “I’m still peeved at Dr. Jackson for continuing to give Jed that drug after I told him not to—and why!  But he’s an old-time doctor and doesn’t really understand the dangers of these new drugs and he probably thought I was just being an old fuddy-duddy.”  
 David hesitated again, once more regretfully gazing over at his sleeping friend.  Then he continued to explain.  “Morphine is a wonder drug when it comes to sedation and pain management, but it’s insidious.  Over long term use a person will become addicted to it without even realizing it’s happening.  Until all of a sudden they can no longer get it, then, their whole world falls apart.  They’ll become stressed, agitated, abusive and often violent in their need for the drug.  In extreme withdrawal the addicted person suffers crippling headaches, seizures, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea—everything nasty under the sun.  Some so bad, they can actually die from it.  So, yes what Jed is going through right now, I’d call ‘mild’.”

 Jesse was looking over at David almost speechless with shock.  “Oh my God,”  he finally exclaimed in no more than a whisper.

 “Yes,”  David agreed.  “So, like I said; try not to be too hard on him.  He’ll come round.  I’m sure that by the time we get home you will have noticed a marked improvement. The holidays will be the hardest time for him.  If we can get through Christmas without a crisis then he’ll be well on his way to a full recovery.”

 “Yeah, well alright David,”  Jesse reluctantly agreed.  “I’ll give him some time.  But he’s got a long ways to go to redeem himself if he has any notions at all of courting my daughter!”

 Heyes was trying his best to get through each day without getting into trouble  This was not always an easy feat, since Carson or one of his lackey’s was often on the prowl, looking for a fight.  Not to mention Boeman.
Being on the work floor had proved to be very challenging and Heyes was constantly having to watch his back.

  He’d sometimes smirk at the memory of thinking that riding the outlaw trail was getting too dangerous—too many people out to get them.  But that existence was easy compared to what he had to deal with in here.  At least on the outside they had some measure of control over their lives, but in here?  He wasn’t even allowed to fight back; if a guard came at him with the bully club he just had to take it or end up in the dark cell—and that was worse than any beating he’d ever had.

 So, when one of the guards, Pearson he thought, approached him with the usual ‘Convict, follow me’, his initial trepidation over where he was being taken turned to guarded curiosity when he found himself in the laundry room.  Curiosity was quickly followed by relief when he was  informed that he would now spend one day a week on laundry duty.

 Heyes never thought he would ever look forward to washing sheets and ironing prison garb but that one work day a week that he could spend alone in the laundry room was just one more blessing that helped him to hang on.  He didn’t have to watch his back in there or not so much anyways and he could be alone with his thoughts.  

 When he first started this duty his thoughts were still very much on his partner and how the trial was going.  Carson’s attempt at emotional torture had been successful for the first day or two, but when nothing official came down the pike Heyes had started to relax a little and to take some comfort in the idiom that no news is good news.

 Then it came about that one evening after supper, Heyes was returning to his cell with a cup of coffee with the intention of reading the chapter ‘Drug Addictions and its Consequence’ when he noticed a paper lying on his cot.

 He set his coffee cup down on the small table, and picking the paper up, sat down to give it a browsing, and his heart was suddenly in his throat!  ‘THE CHEYNNE GAZETTE’ stared him in the face.  It was dated two days previous and was adorned with the headline; NOTORIOUS KILLER GRANTED AMNESTY!  Heyes furrowed his brow.
 Notorious killer?  What was that all about?  He settled in and started to read.

 He read it through quickly the first time, needing to find out all that he could as soon as he could and by the time he had got to the end of the article, he was feeling even more confused than at the beginning.  He read it a second time, more slowly, trying to take it all in.  He still was having a hard time digesting it.  Kid had killed?  Not once, not just Danny, but three others as well?  Why had he never said so?  Why hadn’t Kid told him this?  He settled in to read it a third time, his coffee cold and forgotten.

 Finally Heyes lay back on his cot staring up at the ceiling, one arm up behind his head.  He was a little hurt at first that Kid had chosen not to confide in him to tell him what had happened.  What a weight for him to have carried alone all those years.  Heyes finally surmised that Kid probably didn’t think Heyes would have understood that he would have turned away from the Kid if he’d known.  But Heyes would not have done that.  It would have been hard, but he understood.

  In fact it kind of made sense now that Heyes thought about it.  After the showdown with Danny Bilson, Kid had been upset at the killing, but not devastated and Heyes had often wondered about that.  Surely if that had been the first time that Curry had actually killed someone it would have been far more traumatic for him.  But it hadn’t been, actually Kid had seemed more—disappointed than traumatized by it and that had always struck Heyes as odd.  But Curry didn’t say and Heyes didn’t ask.  But now, it was all coming together and finally, it made sense.

 Even back at Valparaiso Han had known there was something insidious eating away at his younger cousin.  Those temper tantrums and ultimately the blind rages that would come on him, those weren’t coming from nothing.  What had happened to their folks had been hard on both of them but the way they each dealt with it had been in extreme opposites.  Young Han had simply forgotten the worst memories.  Buried them away in his subconscious mind not to be heard from again until they had been forced out of him at the trial.  Jed, not being able to forget, had acted out instead.  Releasing his anger the only way he knew how, by lashing out and then ultimately, by killing.

 Heyes sighed deeply.  ‘Poor Kid.’  he thought to himself.  It must have been traumatic to say the least to have to bring all that stuff up in court!  Oh, but at least he got the amnesty.  Finally!  Thank goodness for that!  At least one of them was able to avoid this hellhole!  Heyes wondered briefly how that had come about.  Why did Kid get it and not himself?  Heyes wasn’t angry, or resentful about that, just curious.  It was a good thing actually, cause now Kid would be doing everything he could to get Heyes out of here!  Yes, this was a good thing.

 Heyes tried to be patient as he waited for word from his cousin.  He knew that the first Saturday after reading the newspaper would probably be too soon to expect a letter.  Besides, the snow was starting to fall now so even letters and parcels would probably be delayed in getting to him.  He’d just have to wait, feeling confident that he would get word from Kid sooner or later.

 But as the weeks went by and letters from the Jordan girls and even one from Lom had made their way to him, and yet not a word from Curry, Heyes began to feel hurt.  Why had he not heard anything?  What was going on?  Was Kid mad at him—but for what?  Heyes couldn’t understand.  Why had his cousin not written to him?
 Finally Heyes got tired of waiting and sent a letter to Lom asking that very question.  The response he received back a couple of weeks later didn’t really help to clear things up.  Basically all Lom stated was that Curry was staying with the Jordan’s through the winter so Heyes best try to get in touch with him there.  He also mentioned, somewhat obscurely that Kid was going through a ‘hard time’.

 Well that kind of got Heyes’ gander up.  Kid was going through a hard time?  What about Heyes himself?  Talk about ‘hard time’! At least Kid was free!  Staying at the Jordan’s through the winter—how could that be considered ‘hard time’?  What the hell was going on?  Didn’t Kid know how much Heyes needed to hear from him?  All the questions about Curry’s trial, and what had gone on during their separation.  Maybe that was it, Heyes mused.  Maybe Kid was ashamed of what had happened and didn’t want to face Heyes with it.  Maybe.  But come on!  Heyes felt abandoned.  Like his best friend had decided to just hang him out to dry

 He became depressed and sullen to the point where even reading the medical journals weren’t helping to raise his spirits.  It was becoming too cold for the inmates to have much time outside and the wind and snows were blowing so he had also lost that relief from the mundane.  The weekly sermons in the chapel no longer brought light or hope into his heart and he practically stopped eating so his weight dropped dangerously low.

  He had thoughts of suicide.  HIM of all people!  But what was the point of hanging on?  he’d ask himself when his mood was at its lowest ebb.  His best friend had abandoned him; he was never going to get out of here!  Then he’d berate himself for allowing pity to cloud his mind and rob him of his courage and he’d pick himself up and carry on again.

 Christmas was coming; it was just around the corner.  Would that help to brighten his mood or just make it worse?  They did not have to work on that day and there would be a special Christmas sermon for those who wished to attend.  Heyes doubted that he would, why bother?   Of course, word was that the Sisters of Charity from a near by convent would be making an effort to come to the prison on Christmas day to distribute gifts to the inmates.  Usually sweaters and socks and mitts that had been knitted by caring citizens who felt a need to send help and hope to those less fortunate.  That might make it worthwhile showing up for, Heyes supposed.  Oh well, whatever.

 So, the days slowly sent by.  He continued to receive letters from Beth and Bridget and they delighted in telling him all about the goings on at the ranch.  Bridget even mentioned something about Mr. Granger coming for Thanksgiving.  Mr. Granger?  The lawyer?  What was that all about?  There was some talk of Thaddeus being there, helping out at the ranch doing odd jobs, but that he often would disappear into town and not come back for days.  Then they would make some comment about how Joshua must already be aware of that stuff, since surely Thaddeus was writing to him and keeping him up to date.  Then Heyes would sink deeper into a depression again and retreat into his cave, shutting out everything and everybody.

  Night time. December had come in white and cold.  Christmas was a bad time for people who are already lost and lonely and Heyes dreaded the coming of that day this year more than any before.  Even at Valparaiso Jed had been with him, but not this year.  This year he was as alone as alone could be in his heart and in his mind and in his soul.

  He lay on his back on his cot in his cell, staring at the ceiling he couldn’t see.  So many images had been fixed upon that surface—that surface that Heyes couldn’t see—that if it had been the pages of a book, the stories it would have told of its current resident would have been an epic tale of loss and loneliness and despair.

 Though there were no time pieces in the tiny cell, Heyes had developed a very keen sense of the passage of that line into the future.  So many nights he had spent lying on his back on his cot in his cell, staring at a ceiling he couldn’t see that he just seemed to know when he was at any given point during the night.  Now, for instance, it was coming up on midnight.  Midnight of Christmas Eve.....Christmas Eve.....

 Heavy sigh.  He was so lonely.  So lonely.  He missed his cousin, more than he ever would have thought possible.  But Jed wasn’t with him anymore just as surely as his own folks weren’t with him anymore and his sister wasn’t with him anymore. At least with his folks he knew that it wasn’t their choice to be away from him—death is kind of a one way trip after all. But the Kid.  Why had he shut Heyes out?  Try as he might he couldn’t understand it and the one letter that Heyes had sent to him remained unanswered. Curry retracting his support was the worse thing that had happened to Heyes throughout this whole miserable chapter of his life.  Jed Curry was lost to him and the thought of that loss and of that precious connection that had been severed threatened to break his heart all over again.

 He felt his throat tightening and the tears burning behind his eyes, threatening to spill out upon his cheeks.  He quickly wiped a shirt sleeve across his face and swallowed down the tightness because he knew he could not afford to allow that to happen.  Even here in the darkness and solitude of his cell he couldn’t allow himself to cry because he knew that once the tears started they would be unending.  If he allowed himself the luxury of tears here then he might not be able to stop them the next time they threatened, and the next time could be out on the work floor.

 He dreaded to think what would happen if Carson ever caught him crying.  He’d seen it happen before; one of the younger inmates who just didn’t have the fortitude to stand up to the bullying.  He had broken down and allowed the tears to come and had begged to be set free so he could go home.  Carson’s expression had turned to one of malicious glee and he had set upon the young man with brutal words and hard kicks until he had curled into a ball and begged for his mother.  Heyes shivered; that was never going to be him, he was never going to allow the tears to come.

 Heyes’ mood changed from self-pity to anger as he thought of Carson and the things that guard took pleasure in doing.  He was just another Morrison—no wait, Heyes retracted that thought.  He was worse than Morrison.  The sheriff at least was honest, and it wasn’t that he took pleasure in the things he did, it was just the only way he knew of to get the job done, and he did get it done there was no doubt about that.

 Heyes looked back at the time he had spent in the company of the sheriff and he had to admit to himself, that even if he had been trying to break custody, he would not have succeeded.  Morrison had been a step ahead of him all the way, blocking every move the outlaw might have even thought of making.  The only time Heyes might have succeeded in escaping was once he was in the Cheyenne jail and no longer in Morrison’s custody.  The fact that Heyes had decided not to leave then was a decision that he now regretted more than any other he’d ever made.  Promises be damned.

 Oh, he was heading back into self-pity again.  He had to get away from that line of thought; he was going there too often these days.  He rolled over onto his side and hugged his knees.  This was a position he had been taking up a lot recently.  He tried not to look too deeply at why he did it, he never used to want to sleep like that.  But lately—well, he told himself it was just to keep warm since the temperatures were indeed getting colder. And it did help, in fact that was the position he was usually in when he finally would fall asleep and often the one he was in when he woke up again as well.

  Snow was flying all across Wyoming and the temperatures were dipping below freezing.  Heyes’ three months of ‘settling in time’ would be over soon, but he came to realize that no one would be coming to visit during the winter months. Travel was almost impossible and downright dangerous for anyone foolish enough to attempt it.  It was going to be a long lonely winter—and cold too, with only the hope of a letter or a parcel actually making it through to him.

 He thought of the Jordan’s, naturally since they (and sometimes, Lom) were about the only ones to send him letters or parcels—the last one had been a nice warm sweater, thank goodness!!  And Kenny had made sure he got it too.  He was wearing it now, and feeling the warmth it was providing he sent out a wish to them that they would have a nice Christmas, and not have it be marred by worries of him.  Then he felt the pain suddenly hit him again as memories of one of the last conversations with Jed came back to him unbidden;

 ‘Then there’s Thanksgiving.’

 ‘Yup.’

 ‘Then, Christmas, sure would be nice to spend Christmas with a family again.’

 ‘Sure would.’


 Yeah, sure would.  Well, not this Christmas.  At least not for Heyes.  Kid was obviously going to be getting his wish; Christmas with a family.  Then Heyes thought back to the last Christmas he had actually spent with family, so, so many years ago.  It had been wonderful.  Little Jenny had been there, still sparkling brand new and Han remembered being so proud that he was now a ‘big brother’!

 It had been the Heyes’ turn to host the Christmas dinner that year and the Curry’s had come over in their sleigh in the early afternoon and everyone had been in such a festive mood.  Han and Jed had spent the whole afternoon outside building a ‘fort’ and engaging in snowball fights.  Then as the lighting had waned, coming inside to sit by the fire and drink hot apple cider until supper was ready. They’d all stayed up past midnight, laughing and telling stories and singing songs.  It had been a great Christmas, and then Heyes’ thoughts went back to his sister again.

 What would life have been for her now if she had lived?  Would she be married with children of her own?  Would she be celebrating Christmas with her family?  Would Heyes have even taken to the outlaw trail if he’d had a sister to look after?  But what was he thinking—it would never have been like that!  Han would never have known his sister once they ended up in the orphanage.  Girls and boys were segregated right from the start, families broken up; siblings separated some never to see one another again.

 Her life wouldn’t have been much better than his now that he thought about it.  Most of the girls went into arranged marriages right out of the orphanage and usually to a man who was much older than they were who was only looking for a vassal and a nanny.  Those who weren’t ‘fortunate’ enough to warrant an arranged marriage were left with two extreme options; the nunnery or the brothel.  Any way you looked at it, it would be a life of servitude.

 Heyes suddenly felt like a hypocrite.  How many times had he enjoyed the services of a prostitute?  Too many times to count really—and he had never thought anything of it.  Never thought about what their lives were like, where they had come from or what had landed them in that kind of life.  The only thing he could say for himself is that he didn’t look down on prostitutes; on the contrary, he honoured and respected them.  Maybe he viewed them as being from the same mold as himself—two lost and lonely souls taking comfort in each other.

 Then suddenly he thought of—what was her name?  Lorna?...Louise?....Linda?...No!  Lindy!  That was it!  Heyes hadn’t thought of her in years.  Oh, in his minds eye she had been so pretty…so exciting.   He had been sixteen when she had taken him into her bed.  She was so much older than him…well he figured…twenty.  But when you’re sixteen and inexperienced, twenty seems so much older and boy…was she ever experienced!
 She knew, of course she could tell right away that Han was new to this, but she treated him like a man and gently showed him the way.  She had taken his virginity, wrapped it up in sweet kisses and returned it to him in a warm and sensuous package.

  He sighed. Did memories of Lindy bring sweet happiness or lonely despair? It was well past midnight, he was sure of it.  Christmas morning.  It was Christmas morning and he was cold and alone and oh so very lonely.  It was Christmas morning and he drifted off into a restless, desperate sleep.

 The morning dawned cold and clear which bode well for the Sisters of Charity to actually be able to get to the prison that afternoon.  The inmates were allowed an extra hour of sleep that morning but it was still a dreary and chilly operation, climbing out of bed and standing at the cell door for roll call.  Everyone was hugging themselves and shivering.  Heyes was certain he could see his breath.

 Breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, well at least it was warm—sort of.  Then off to chapel for morning services.  Heyes wasn’t sure if he wanted to go or not, but in the end decided that the alternative was to sit in his cold cell and read medical journals and he just didn’t have the focus that morning to get anything out of that.  So, off he went.  If this was the Christmas he was going to have then he may as well make the best of it.

 The service turned out to be uplifting enough to help Heyes to feel a little better.  Then afterward, Warden Mitchell stepped onto the pulpit to make his grand announcement.  Basically letting everyone know that the Sisters of Charity had actually made it in to the prison and that they would be entering the chapel with gifts for the prisoners.  The prisoners themselves were to stand quietly and wait for a sister to come to them and each prisoner would accept the gift that was offered and then leave the chapel and return to their cell.  There was to be no talking.  Do not speak to the sisters unless spoken to directly and under no circumstances was an inmate permitted to touch any of the sisters.   Any infringement of these rules and the perpetrator would be spending the rest of the day in the dark cell.

 Heyes kind of felt that this was all rather cold and impersonal for a Christmas gathering, but what else could be expected, he thought.  Everything was cold and impersonal, may as well make Christmas that way too.

 After a few moments there was a bit of activity over by the entrance to the chapel and then five nuns entered the small auditorium and began to circulate, handing out parcels wrapped in brown paper to each of the inmates present.  The guards who had been unfortunate enough to draw duty for that day were very much in attendance and stayed close by each sister as she distributed her gifts.

 Heyes sighed.  He felt uncomfortable with this and was tempted to simply leave the chapel before receiving anything at all.  He didn’t like accepting charity; it made him feel—inadequate.  He was just about to turn on his heels and leave when the sister approaching him all of a sudden looked very familiar.  His heart skipped a beat and then fear shivered through him.  Oh no, it was Sister Julia!  Dagnabbit!  Of all the nuns in all the convents in all the west, how in the world did she end up here?!

 Heyes did a quick scan of the area, seeing if he could discreetly make an exit, but it was too late, she was almost level with him.  Hopefully she wouldn’t recognize him; maybe she wouldn’t even remember him.  He knew that his eyes were very distinguishable so he kept them looking down and away from her hoping she wouldn’t know him.  It was a typical stance for an inmate, to not make eye contact.  It would be expected.  It would be alright.

 Sister Julia gently touched his arm and handed him a soft parcel—probably a blanket or something.

 “Merry Christmas, young man,”  she said honestly.  “Please accept this, and I hope it will give some comfort through the winter for you.”

 Again, Heyes did not look up or meet her eyes, but he smiled slightly in thanks and took the offered package.  The Sister started to move away and Heyes breathed a sigh of relief, but then she stopped and looked at him more closely.  She touched his arm again.

 “Joshua?”  she asked, almost incredulously. “Joshua Smith?”

 Heyes groaned.  Then the guard, it was Murrey, spoke up.

 “No Sister, you’re mistaken,”  he informed her.  “this inmate’s name is Heyes, not Smith.”

 “No, it’s Mr. Smith,”  she insisted.  “I’m sure of it.  Joshua—please, look at me.”

 Heyes silently groaned again.  Could the degradation of his spirit plunge any farther?  Must he be humiliated like this?  Then he felt Murrey’s bully club give him a smack on his butt.

 “You heard the Sister Heyes, let her get a look at your ugly mug.”

 Heyes gave a quiet, resigned sigh and lifting his chin he looked her in the eye.  He smiled slightly in greeting as he saw recognition wash over her features.  She smiled openly back at him.

 “It is you!”  she exclaimed.  “I thought so.  But…Mr. Heyes?”

 “Yes Sister,”  Heyes admitted to her.

 Her expression changed to one of concern.

 “Of course we had heard of the capture of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry,”  she admitted.  “but we don’t get newspapers at the convent, so we never saw any pictures of them.  It never occurred to me that….does this mean that Thaddeus is really….?”

 “Yes ma’am,”  Heyes answered.  “Thaddeus is Kid Curry.”

 “Oh dear.  This is surprising news indeed,”  then she looked around, realizing that she was holding things up.  She squeezed Heyes’ arm and smiled at him again.  “I must carry on here, but I will speak to you later.”

 Then Sister Julia moved on and Heyes felt Murrey give him a slight shove in the direction of the exit.  With a final glance at the Sister’s retreating back, Heyes turned and left the auditorium and returned to his cell.

 Once there he settled back into his cot, and leaning with his pillow against the wall, he opened his Christmas present.  Indeed, it was a blanket and a pair of socks.  He smiled with pleasure and quickly removed his shoes and pulled the socks onto his cold feet.  Instantly he felt the warmth start to invade his toes and he closed his eyes and sighed with the ecstasy of it. He could not remember ever receiving such a welcomed gift!  He next took the blanket and wrapped it around his shoulders and settled back into the comfort of his pillow again to enjoy the sensation of actually feeling warm.

 After a few minutes of pure indulgence he turned to his table to retrieve the latest medical journal only to find himself staring at yet another parcel sitting there.  Hmm, who could that be from?  He’d already received the sweater from the Jordan’s and couldn’t think who else would be sending him a gift.  Lom maybe?
 He picked it up and looked at the writing on it—oh, it was from Clem!  He smiled and quickly tore off the paper wrapping to find himself staring at a book 'Around The World in 80 Days'.  Heyes had to smile again at that.  Trust Clementine to give him a book about traveling when he was stuck in a prison cell!  Oh well, it should be a good read anyway—might help him forget for a while that he was in a prison cell.

 He opened up the cover and a letter fell out.  Oh!  Finally—maybe some news!  He just started to tear open the envelope when he heard a rapping on his cell door and looked up to see Pearson standing there.  Heyes sighed in disappointment.  Dammit!  Now what?

 “Convict—follow me!”

 Heyes tucked the letter back inside the book and placed them both back on the table.  He swung his legs off the cot and quickly put his shoes back on before standing up and following the guard to where ever they were going.
 Heyes found himself being lead into an area that he hadn’t been in before.  Pearson unlocked a door and ushered Heyes into a small room where there was a bench and numerous sets of shackles and leg irons hanging on the wall.  The other guard, Murrey came in after them and stood to the side, holding a rifle and watching every move that Heyes made.  Heyes was starting to feel nervous; what was going on?

 “Up against the wall convict,”  Pearson instructed him. “hands above your head.”

 Heyes complied.  He felt Pearson put pressure between his shoulder blades, pushing him into the wall even more, and then whacking his legs apart with the bully club.  When Pearson was satisfied with the inmates positioning he then proceeded to give him a very thorough search.  Heyes was confused.  He hadn’t had a patting down like this since Morrison.  What were they looking for?  Did they think he had stolen something?  This was all very strange.
 Pearson was finished with the search quite quickly, but he hadn’t given any instruction so Heyes stayed where he was.  Then the guard wrapped that damn belt with the shackles attached to it around Heyes’ waist and snugly cinched it up.  Was he going somewhere?  In this weather?!  Oh crap!

 “Turn around.”

 Heyes did so and his hands were quickly snapped into the cuffs down at the belt.  Then Pearson squatted and clamped the leg irons around Heyes’ ankles, and then he stood up, bringing the length of chain with him and attaching it to the belt.  He grabbed Heyes’ arm, turned him towards another door and shuffled him off into the next room.

 The first thing Heyes noticed was a table in the center of the room with two chairs setting on either side of it.  The next thing he noticed was that this room was actually warm to the point where he would have considered pulling off the sweater he was wearing underneath his prison garb if his hands had been free to do so.

 He was then escorted over to the chair closest to him and indicated to sit down.  He did so and then Pearson turned and walked back the way they had come.  Heyes turned his head to watch him leave and close the door behind him.  But Murrey was still there, rifle in hand, standing by the door.  Hmmm.  Heyes turned forward again and stared at the empty chair setting across the table from him.  Was this to be another interview with the warden?  Heyes hoped he wouldn’t have to wait too long.

 Then another door directly across from him opened wide and Sister Julia walked in.  Ohhh, a visitor! That’s what this was all about.  All they had to do was say so!  The Sister met his eye and smiled openly.  Heyes smiled back, no longer feeling embarrassed by his predicament and actually looking forward to being able to have a real conversation with someone.  Sister Julia quickly walked over to the table and sat down in the second chair.  She had a book with her.

 “Joshua…”  she greeted him, and then hesitated.  “or I suppose I should call you Mr. Heyes now.”

 “It doesn’t matter Sister,”  Heyes told her.  “Whichever one you’re comfortable with.”

 “Well,”  she smiled.  “Joshua then.”

 Heyes grinned foolishly.  It was actually good to see her.  Proof that life still did exist ‘out there’.

 “I have brought you a gift,”  she said.

 “Another one Sister?”

 “The previous one was from the convent,”  Sister Julia explained.  “this one is a more personal gift, from me to you.  I seem to recall that you enjoyed reading, so I thought you might like this.  It’s not a new copy, but it is intact.”

  She presented him with the book she had been holding and waited for him to accept it.  The table blocked the view of his hands so she could not see that he was shackled.  He smiled a little self-consciously and then shook his hands, causing the chains to rattle a little.

 “I’m afraid I’m a little confined here Sister,”  he explained to her.  “If you could just put it down on the table I’ll be sure to pick it up when I leave.”

 “Oh of course!”  she said.  “I’m sorry, I should have realized.”

 Heyes shrugged politely, dismissing her apology; how could she have known?  She placed the book down on the table in front of him.  He leaned forward to read the title and smiled with pleasure.

 “Ohhh, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’!  Thank you.”

 “I wasn’t sure if you had already read it, but if you have, I always felt that a good book is worth visiting again.”

 “Yes, I have read it before,”  Heyes admitted.  “but I agree; it’s worth another visit.  Like going to see an old friend.”

 “Speaking of friends,”  Sister Julia asked.  “how is Thaddeus?”

 The smile dropped from Heyes’ face and the Sister was puzzled, seeing pain flicker through his eyes.

 “I don’t know how he is Sister,”  Heyes admitted softly, a slight, nearly imperceptible tremor in his voice.  “I haven’t heard from him.”

 “Really?”  she asked, surprised.  “I was under the impression that the two of you were close.”

 “Yeah.  So was I,”  he looked down at his shackled hands, avoiding her eyes.  There it was again; that tightness in his throat.  He really did need to toughen up!

 Sister Julia smiled sadly at him, his torment obvious to her.  She wanted so much to go to him, to take him in her arms and hug his loneliness away, but she had been informed that she was not permitted to approach the inmate.  There was to be no physical contact.  But even so, her compassion for his predicament won out and she reached out a hand towards him, trying to offer some solace.

 Instantly there was a discreet cough from the guard at the door and the Sister glanced over at him.  He shook his head.  Physical contact was not permitted.

 Still, the reminder from Murrey brought Heyes up out of his musings and he smiled, trying to brighten his mood.

 “It’s alright Sister,”  he told her.  “Thaddeus has a chance at a real life now.  I can’t blame him for wanting to go after that.”

 “Well, hopefully you will hear from him soon,”  the Sister said, encouragingly.  “But in the mean time, are you permitted to write letters?”

 “Yes Sister.  One a week.”

 “Good!”  she responded.  “I will send you a letter with the address to the convent in it.  I expect to hear from you Joshua—on a regular basis!”

 Heyes’ smile was genuine.  “Yes ma’am,”  he agreed.

 “Good!  Now, I had best be going,”  she announced.  “The other sisters are waiting for me.”

 “Oh.  Yes of course,”  Heyes accepted that.  “Thank you for coming Sister.  Thank you again for the gifts—and I will write!”

 “I’ll look forward to hearing from you,”  she said as she got to her feet.  “Goodbye for now Joshua.”

 Heyes started to get to his feet as well, as any gentleman would do, but was instantly reprimanded.

 “Stay where you are Heyes!”  Murrey ordered him.  “Don’t move.”

 Heyes settled back into the chair with a sigh and an apologetic smile to the Sister.  Sister Julia sent him an understanding nod and then she was gone.  Gone out the door, gone out of the prison, gone out to freedom and a life worth living.  Heyes was returned to his cell.

 He wrapped his new blanket around him again and settled back into his pillow in order to read Clem’s letter.  He smiled as he read it; she wrote just like she talked, high energy and all over the place.   A lot of what she said was repeat, talking about Kid’s trial but from a totally different slant than the narrative from Lom so it helped to fill in some more of the blanks.  He was surprised to learn that Patrick McCreedy had shown up and giving quite the boisterous statement—even putting the Judge in his place!  Well good for him, Heyes thought, nobody like good ole’ Uncle Mac to barge in there and stir things up!

 Heyes wondered fleetingly how things would have gone differently if their attempts at playing cupid had not worked out, if Mac ended up married to a shrew of a wife!  Geesh, Heyes and Kid probably would have both ended up swinging from the gallows!!  As it was it all worked out well for Kid and Clem was insisting that Mac wasn’t going to give up on Heyes either.  Heyes wasn’t to loose hope; nobody was going to be giving up on him.  Well, nobody but Kid, Heyes thought.

 He was also surprised to read that Clem and the Jordan girls (maybe he should be calling them ladies now) had struck up quite the friendship.  Apparently Bridget, who was contemplating taking a job in Denver come spring, was planning on moving in with Clem at first, until she could find her own footing.  Bridget’s parents were only persuaded to allow Bridget to take the job if she had a place to stay and would have a chaperone.  Heyes laughed at that.  Maybe he should write to Jesse to warn him about Clem.  She just might lead Bridget astray herself!  Oh well, those two ladies might be good for each other.

 Then Clem’s letter turned more serious and she began reprimanding, not Heyes, but Kid.  She just couldn’t understand why Kid was behaving the way he was!  Clem would  have thought that he would be happy, that  he’d be relieved, but instead he was sullen and miserable and going off and getting drunk all the time.  Dr. Gibson was at a total loss, Mr. Jordan was ready to wring his neck.  Jed Curry was turning into a regular bastard!

  He’d also been spending way too much time at the brothel in town.  This seems to have been very upsetting to Beth who apparently has designs on him herself and can’t understand what he could be getting from ‘those girls’ that he couldn’t get from her!  At which point Clem made the comment that if her parents hadn’t told her about the birds and the bees yet, then it was hardly Clem’s place to do it!

 Heyes sighed.  What was going on with his partner?  None of this sounded like him at all.  In one way the information worried Heyes, because it was so uncharacteristic of Kid to carry on in such a manner. So why was he doing it?  But in another way it actually made Heyes feel better.  Obviously there was something wrong and that Kid’s apparent abandonment had nothing to do with Kid not caring about him.  Probably just the opposite if anything.

 Again Heyes fretted over his own impotency to help his partner.  He had to count on others to step in and take over and none of them understood what was wrong either!  Heyes sat on his cot, propped up against his pillow, wrapped cozily in his new blanket and just stared into space—thinking and worrying and knowing that there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

 Finally he scooped up his worn down pencil and last sheet of paper for the week, and using one of his new books as a support, settled in to write a letter.  He wasn’t really sure how to start it, or what questions even to ask, he just knew that he had to make contact and to feel that he was a part of what was going on at home.

  He sat for a moment collecting his thoughts, pencil poised over the paper.  He coughed, made a decision and then began writing;

 ‘Dear David…….

   
To Be Continued.
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PostSubject: Re: After Shock Chapter thirteen   Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:47 am

I am so glad to see that Sister Julia is here and managing to bring some comfort to Heyes.  The poor boys both seem to be in purtgatory!
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PostSubject: Re: After Shock Chapter thirteen   

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After Shock Chapter thirteen
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