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 Not Again!

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HelenWest

HelenWest

Posts : 1545
Join date : 2013-09-09
Age : 58
Location : West of the Mississippi

Not Again! Empty
PostSubject: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyTue Oct 08, 2013 8:31 pm

Would anybody be interested in my re-posting my existing chapters here? If so, I can try doing it. If not, it's way too much work for that amount of words. I can just wait and post some new material here when I have some. Just let me know how you feel about that.
HW
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HelenWest

HelenWest

Posts : 1545
Join date : 2013-09-09
Age : 58
Location : West of the Mississippi

Not Again! Empty
PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySat Nov 09, 2013 10:12 pm

I'm doing a slight revision of my story cycle from the beginning - make mild corrections of typos, adding in a few details, and correcting some dialog for style. Here is the first chapter that started on this craziness, the first chapter of Not Again!

A hurt/ comfort story plus. I have borrowed these characters with thanks and with no idea of violating copyright or making any money, but only to tell a story. The symptoms of the malady as portrayed are entirely fictional, arranged purely for creative purposes and not intended to hurt any sufferers. My apologies to those who wrote the original television scrip that inspired me to strike the victim with this malady. Let's just say that we know the actor in question could pull it off wonderfully! Most of the locations and institutions (not including bars or medical institutions) cited are real, but the people are invented. I have my own much darker story that replaces that pilot, as is reflected in this story. This story is dedicated to the teachers among our readers. You'll need to be very patient to find out why.

Two dusty horses in worn western rig, a tall claybank dun and a stocky dark bay with a black head, were stumbling with weariness as they clattered up a rocky slope in the Flatiron Mountains. The sun was setting beyond the mountains to their right; it was getting hard for their two exhausted riders to see the way. The dark haired young man on the dun pushed his battered black hat back for a better view as he and his partner with wavy honey blonde hair pulled up, listening and peering into the dim distance behind them. They heard the faint echoes of rapid hoof-beats on stone. "Ah shit, that posse's still coming! Don't they know it's gettin' too dark to track? And too cold?!" Kid Curry, shivering even in his heavy fleece coat, addressed his exasperated rhetorical question to his partner in crime, and now in the search for amnesty, Hannibal Heyes.

"Tonight we'll be in a nice, warm cell if we don't move on – now. Come on, Kid. One more push before we find someplace to get out of the cold," said Heyes wearily, pushing his black hat back down onto his head.

"And where'll that be?" muttered the Kid sarcastically as the two former outlaws turned their horses' heads to the south and spurred on again. There was surely no promise before them of anything but a long, cold, dangerous ride in the rugged mountains with a determined posse on their tails. No matter how straight they had gone in the past two years, they could never seem to avoid the unwanted attention brought by the price of $10,000 on each of their heads, dead or alive.

The way was rough, rocky, and icy. The horses had to wade through occasional drifts of snow. Not five minutes after their brief pause Heyes felt his worn out horse slip on a patch of ice and stumble. He leapt off as it went down to its knees. The tall gelding scrambled to stand, but held his left foreleg up limply, bleeding. Heyes bent over the leg, feeling it. The horse threw its head up and grunted in pain. Heyes looked up at Curry, stricken. He had gotten close to this horse as they rode into town after town, and too often out again when someone had recognized them or seemed likely to. But far more than the welfare of the horse was on his mind. "Clay's not going on, Kid, not with me in the saddle. It's too dark – I can't see proper, but it's not good . . ." Heyes' voice was low and desperate. The pursuing posse was so close now that the pair of reformed outlaws couldn't talk aloud without risking being overheard in the echoing mountains. "No way can beat that bunch back there if we got to ride double."

Curry looked around and pointed, eyebrows raised in question, to a rocky outcropping behind Heyes. There they could wait and be invisible from the trail. The Kid patted the gun tied down on his right hip. He asked, "What else can we do? When they catch up, if they come this way, we'll be waiting and we have more bullets than they have men. If we can get the jump on them . . . You know those guys'll take the first choice on 'wanted dead or alive.'"

Heyes hesitated for an instant, and then nodded reluctantly. Murder was, and had always been, absolutely the last thing they wanted to do. The two second cousins never wanted to have anyone feel about them the way they felt about the men who had murdered their families two decades before. Of course, the sentence of hanging was also deeply unappealing. But it looked like it might be murder or death. Even if Curry's estimate of their pursuer's plans was wrong, they were due to serve twenty years in prison per count of armed robbery – and that was a lot of counts. Kid had lost track of how many, though he suspected that Heyes knew precisely.

Curry dismounted and helped Heyes to coax his injured horse behind the outcropping. Then both men mounted up on Curry's gelding, ready to ride if they had to. Heyes was in front and Curry up behind where he would be free to use his deadly skill with a six-gun to shoot at pursuers. Both men had their pistols ready in their hands and the horse stood parallel to the path so they would both have a clear shot when they ambushed their pursuers. They just hoped it wouldn't come to that.
In the distance, they heard the posse getting closer. But their pursuers were moving more slowly over the rough, icy terrain in the fast fading light. It was so dark now that Curry and Heyes could hardly see anything. The red-brown rocks began to look black and the snow caught between the rocks turned dark grey. They could hear the approaching men more and more clearly. When the posse was only a couple of hundred yards away the horses stopped. There was a quiet but vehement argument going on, evidently between those in favor of continuing the pursuit and the ones who wanted to turn back for the night. Heyes and Curry froze and strained to hear what was said. But their pursuers kept their voices too low.

At last, the hoof beats of five horses echoed off the rocks again. Which way where they going? Without looking out from behind the rock where they were hidden, Heyes and Curry could not be sure. They listened tensely.

Eventually the two could hear that the hoof beats of the posse were getting softer. Their pursuers were going back toward the north where they had come from. Heyes and Curry exhaled with relief, but they remained hidden and quiet. It could easily be a trap, and they could be seen or heard if they emerged from their hiding place too soon. After they had waited for a while the guys were getting chilled and impatient in the growing darkness.

At last, Heyes urged their horse out from behind the rocks so they could see where the posse was. "There they go." He whispered, pointing across a valley toward where a faint glimmer of the setting sun caught the distant retreating figures riding over the distant rocks before they were swallowed by shadows. The partners began to relax – at least the immediate threat was gone. Now they would just have to find that place out of the cold that Heyes had spoken of. He was already looking south and thinking about their route. Curry gazed after the retreating posse, from whom they heard the soft echo of arguing voices. Some of the posse members weren't leaving the chase of their $20,000 prey willingly. The posse emerged from the shadows for a moment as they routed around a peak. Curry saw a tiny speck of light as the setting sun glinted off the barrel of a gun that was waving around randomly. The muzzle flashed and a shot rang out. It ricocheted loudly before the posse disappeared into the distant shadows again.

At nearly the same moment that he heard the shot, Curry felt Heyes' head jerk back against his own. "Heyes!" the Kid cried, but his partner didn't answer. Heyes was out cold. It was all Curry could do to keep his partner's dead weight balanced in the saddle. For a shot fired at random and bouncing off a rock, it had hit with uncanny accuracy. Curry steadied his partner with his left arm and felt around the man's head delicately with his right hand. It didn't take long for him to find the blood coursing from under the long dark hair on the left side of Heyes' face. The wound was a deep diagonal graze across the temple, about three inches long and plowed bloodily wide by the flattened bullet.

"Not again!" the Kid moaned. But yes, Heyes had been shot in the head, again. Curry felt sick to his stomach as he remembered the last time Heyes had caught a bullet in the head, more than a year before when they had been hunting mountain lions. Then they had been hunted themselves, by a serial murderer, outside a berg called Hollistown. This new wound seemed to be a bit deeper than the shallow but bruising graze Heyes has suffered before. Curry leaned his head against Heyes' back and listened. His partner's heartbeat was slow and faltering. If Jedediah Curry had ever prayed in his life, he prayed then. And slowly Heyes' heartbeat grew steadier and stronger. If he was going to die, it seemed that it wouldn't be right away. While keeping his unconscious partner balanced in the saddle, the Kid took off his bandana and clumsily bound up the wound. The improvised bandage didn't do much good. The long scalp wound was still bleeding all too much. The Kid was glad at least that he had been able to keep Heyes in the saddle – a fall onto the rocks would have been fatal and there was no way for Curry to dismount unaided without letting his partner fall.

The Kid's mind raced. Where could he go for help? They weren't too many miles from Boulder and Denver – he would have to be very careful where he went and who he met. Their Devil's Hole gang had struck the Merchants Bank in Denver only three years ago. There were some who would remember the gang and maybe even their faces. Heyes, as usual, had worked out the detailed plan of the Denver robbery. Curry didn't remember the exact routes Heyes had painstakingly mapped around these mountains. During this current scrambling ride away from a posse, the Kid had been counting on his partner to guide him. The only way out of this rocky place that Curry himself knew for sure led back to the north, where the boys had just come from and where the posse was now riding. If the boys met them, neither Curry nor Heyes would live out the night in freedom. No help lay that way. But going in any other direction would be just random wandering in the rocks.

There was one other option that Curry could think of. He looped his lariat around Heyes and himself a few times to help hold the unconscious man in the saddle. Then he held Heyes with his right arm and felt in front of his partner with his left hand, groping for the reins. "Come on Blackie!" he said urgently to the horse, "Take us home!" There was no home anywhere near, but horses were said to be able to find a good place, if you asked them. Curry and Heyes had called on horses to do this more than once and they had always come through. The dark gelding stood for a moment, sniffing the air. Then he began to walk, slowly and uncertainly, swinging his head back and forth. He stumbled on loose rocks, weary under the double load. Curry frantically fought to keep Heyes safely in the saddle. He worried as Blackie scrambled and paused and scrambled again. Soon the Kid could tell that his horse was as lost as he was. Blackie wasn't used to leading - he usually followed Heyes' horse, Clay.

Clay whickered softly in the dark. The claybank dun was limping heavily, but he headed confidently to the southeast, taking the lead just as he had done when Heyes was in the saddle. Clay evidently did know where he was going. It was a good thing, because the sun was gone now and the slender moon overhead was not enough for Curry to see anything beyond the wounded man in front of him. The night vision of the horses was all he had to go on.

Clay and Blackie walked slowly in tandem along narrow mountain trails. Pine boughs and stone outcroppings scraped past them in the dark. Curry held Heyes in his arms and now and then leaned forward to listen to his partner's heartbeat. It stayed too faint for comfort, but steady. After a few hours Curry was fighting sleep, struggling not to slide off his perch behind the saddle. He came back to himself to find that Clay had led them onto a dirt road. Soon Curry could see lights in the distance and they were in a town. The Kid heard a tinny piano playing and voices from a saloon that would be the only business still opened. "Thanks, boys." The Kid said softly to the horses. "I'll find someone to look after you guys as soon as I get a doctor for Heyes." Had Heyes been awake he might have teased the Kid for talking to the horses like they understood, but Heyes was far from conscious.

Curry rode down the dark street toward the lights and voices. Clay walked beside the Kid's horse, just as if he had had a rider in the saddle. The Kid leaned forward to check Heyes' heart beat just in time to hear it skip once, twice. "Christ, don't fail now! We're almost there." the Kid moaned. He didn't dare urge his horse to trot – if Heyes fell or was shaken around he was sure to die. Getting to the saloon was the longest, slowest ride Curry ever remembered. Gradually, Heyes' heart steadied again, but Curry didn't trust it.

As they reached the front of the saloon, Curry heard a man's slurred shout, "Hey, mister, you alright?"

The Kid leaned around Heyes' sagging form and shouted down to the inebriated cowboy in the street below. "No, he ain't! Is there a doctor in town? Man's shot bad – in the head."

The cowboy in the street shouted back into the saloon. A dozen poured out the swinging doors, knocking the stumbling drunk off his feet. Curry unwound the rope that had held Heyes in the saddle and soon the men from the saloon had gotten the injured man off the horse and were carrying him in the door as gently as they could. Curry wearily dragged his far leg over the saddle, dropped to the ground, tied up his horse, and followed the group carrying his partner. A slender blonde woman in a modest brown dress joined the crowd of men. They called to her - "Miss Christy, man's been shot! Shot in the head!" Someone shouted. "Jake's gone to get the doc."

The woman in brown seemed young, but she took charge. Her clear voice rang out as more revealingly dressed dance hall girls came to join the throng: "Here, get him into the back room, on the bed - there. Careful, don't drop him! Here, let's get these pillows under him and keep his head up. Peggy, bring me some clean water and a towel. Somebody get me some extra pillows from the store room. Now, you guys go back out front and leave us alone. Peggy and the doc and I can handle this." A petite brunette dance hall girl ran in with a basin and towel for Miss Christy, who bent over Heyes and blotted the bloody wound. Her gentle hands seemed at odds with her strong, confident voice. She looked up at the Kid. He was startled to see how sad her blue eyes looked.

Curry grabbed off his hat and introduced them with their standard aliases, "Miss, I'm Thaddeus Jones and this here's my partner, Joshua Smith, been shot. I'm mighty grateful to you for your kindness." Curry hoped desperately that she wouldn't ask how his partner had come to be shot. He had lies ready, but doubted she would believe them. Miss Christy seemed to have a good head on her shoulders – maybe too good.

Soon the doctor arrived at the run. The thin, graying man with a medical bag in his hand bent over Mr. Smith and looked grave. He cut away the hair around the wound so he could work, then cleaned the wound and pulled the skin together with some stitches. It was only the skin he could mend at all; the frightening damage below he couldn't touch. The doctor tied a heavy bandage around Joshua's head to keep the wound safely covered. The doctor said to Mr. Jones and Miss Christy, "I don't have to tell you this is a bad wound. It's a miracle you got him here alive, mister. He may not make it. That's up to God, not me. All we can do is to keep him warm and still and quiet and watch him carefully. Keep his head up just the way it is, braced with pillows. Let me know instantly if he moves or wakes. Don't let him get up or move around if he does wake. I wish we knew more about brain injuries, but we know too little!"

“Thank you, Doctor,” said Curry, “I’m Thaddeus Jones. I want to thank you for helpin’ out my partner – he’s Joshua Smith.”

“I’m glad to do what little I can, Mr. Jones,” said the doctor. “My name is Grauer. Don’t hesitate to call on me if anything changes or you have questions.”

As the doctor left, the young lady in the brown dress said, “Mr. Jones, I’m Catherine Christy. Folks call me Cat. I own this place and you’re both welcome to stay here. The doctor’s office is real close and he lives above the office, so we can get him right quick if we need him for your partner.”

Curry left Miss Christy in charge and went out to look after the horses. It took a while to rouse anyone, but eventually a man who slept in the hay loft responded to the Kid's shouts and bangs on the livery stable door. The sleepy-eyed man bandaged up Clay's leg and said he would look after both horses. Clay's leg was cut up and strained badly. A little extra tip helped the Kid feel sure that the horses would get good care. But he was nervous – he didn't have much cash and doubted that his partner had much in his pockets to pay for the hotel stay for them both and medical care for Heyes.

Back at Christy's Hotel and Saloon the Kid was glad to find that Miss Christy had warmed some stew for him and given him a room just up the stairs from where Heyes was. The injured man was installed in Miss Christy's own bed in a little back room next to the kitchen. She smiled at Jones bleakly. He could see in her eyes that she held out as little hope for Mr. Smith as Mr. Jones did, but she wouldn't say it. "I'll watch him, Mr. Jones. Your friend will be warm and comfortable here. Don't you worry. You go and get some sleep – I can see you've had a real hard time."

Heyes lay so still and looked so pale that Kid could hardly stand to look at him, yet he stood and gazed down for a while, as if hoping that somehow Heyes would wake up and be fine. Curry was glad to see that Miss Christy had had another bed brought into the room and put it by where Heyes' slept so she could be near if the wounded man needed help. He thanked her so many times that she finally told him to stop and again urged him to go to his room and get some sleep. At last the Kid stumbled up the stairs and hardly got his boots off before he was asleep.

But nightmares disturbed Curry's sleep. He was fleeing from someone – all alone. He kept calling for Heyes but he got no answer.
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HelenWest

HelenWest

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Not Again! Empty
PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyWed Nov 13, 2013 7:43 pm

Revised chapter 2

The next day the Kid felt awkward hanging around the hotel, watching over Heyes and trying to stay out of the way of Miss Christy and the other employees: fat blonde Joe the bar tender and skinny bald Ted the piano player and the saloon girls. Christy's was in Louisville, Colorado. It was a mining town not far from Denver and Boulder. The miners and others passing through town gave the establishment plenty of business.

When Heyes had been shot in the head before, he had moaned and tossed and talked in his sleep. In fact, he had given away their real names before he woke. Now Heyes breathed shallowly and lay far too still under Miss Christy's warm quilt. A purple bruise had spread over the left side of the wounded man's face. Finally Curry, finding nothing else he could usefully do, went and played a few hands of poker in the saloon. He couldn't concentrate very well but held his own. He wondered if the men, knowing about his wounded partner, were cutting him a break. If they were, they were the first Curry had ever known to do such a thing. Poker after all, was poker.

The next two days seemed to stretch on forever, dull and tense except when Thaddeus was with Cat Christy. The gunman went from the room where his partner was into the kitchen. “Here, Miss Christy,” said Jones. “let me help with the dishes. With all you’re doing for my partner and me, it’s the least I can do.”

“Thank you!” said the young woman saloon owner. “I sure can use a hand around here. But please, call me Cat.”

“Sure – if you call me Thaddeus.” He wished he could ask her to call him Jed instead of Thaddeus. He washed a glass and another while Cat dried. “How’d you come to own a saloon?”

Cat wiped glasses in silence for a minute. Finally she said. “My pa left it to me. He died just last June.”

The Kid looked fondly at his hostess, who was fast becoming his friend. “I surely am sorry to hear that, Cat. I know you’d be proud of how well you run the business.”

Cat smiled into the sink. “That’s nice of you, Thaddeus. We never have enough help. We get run  off our feet, seems like. I’m right glad to have you around to help. We’ve got more drinkers than stayers, just now. So, long as you can help out like you’ve been doing, we’ve got enough rooms for you and your partner.”

The Kid smiled gratefully at this formidable young woman.

Much as he was enjoying getting to know Cat Christy, the Kid was terribly worried and not only by Heyes' injury. That afternoon the local sheriff happened into the saloon. The Kid got a surreptitious look at him and his heart almost stopped. He recognized the tall, lean man wearing a battered tin star and leaning on the bar. He was sure he did. He couldn't remember where or how – although it couldn't have been good. The bar tender called him Sheriff Wilde. The name rang a faint bell for Curry. He thought the sheriff might have been just a deputy when the Kid had encountered him before. The Kid just couldn't remember where he could have seen Sheriff Wilde and what had happened. Maybe Wilde had been part of the Denver heist posse?

When the sheriff dropped into Christy's place again later in the afternoon, the Kid ducked out of the front room, breaking into a sweat. Would the sheriff recognize the Kid? Or what if that posse showed up? Or a bounty hunter? Or anyone who knew them? The whole town probably knew that a man was at Christy's who had shown up shot in the head. It would sure look suspicious. What could Curry do? He couldn't move Heyes and he couldn't leave him.

Curry fled to the back room where he watched over Heyes. The wounded man lay terribly still. His face was ghostly pale except where for a dark purple bruise across most the left side, extending down from the long bullet grazes. The Kid felt guilty about enjoying making friends with Cat Christy while Heyes hovered near death. Cat was very nice looking in an unglamorous way. She worked hard but enjoyed a good story. The Kid had a fund of adventures to tell about, although they required careful editing to keep from giving away his criminal past.

The second evening that Heyes had been lying in Cat Christy's bed, Curry bent over Heyes looking at him anxiously. He studied the dark circles under his partner's eyes and the massive bruise that was starting to fade to green and brown at the edges. The wounded man's breathing seemed stronger than it had been the day before. Heyes' hands and face twitched now and then. Without warning the brown eyes opened and blinked as Heyes took a hissing breath. It sounded like he was in pain, which the Kid didn't doubt. Heyes looked up at Curry and gave his partner a wry smile. Before the Kid could ask him how he felt, Heyes' eyes closed again and he fell deeply asleep.

Then the Kid remembered the doctor's directions. His boots pounded on the wooden floor as he ran to the kitchen where Cat Christy was fixing dinner. “Cat!” he cried, making her look up from rolling out biscuits. “Smith woke up for a minute. He went right back to sleep, but I’ll go get the doctor. He said to call him if anything changed.” The Kid dashed out the door, with his hostess looking after him with a look of hope in her anxious blue eyes.

The doctor came quickly and looked at Heyes while Cat and the Kid stood side by side near the bed. The Kid resisted the urge to put his arm around the slender young woman so near, the top of her sleek golden head just below the level of Curry's blue eyes.

Dr. Grauer stepped into the kitchen to report to Mr. Jones and Miss Christy, where his words couldn’t bother his sleeping patient. “His breathing seems better,” said the greying doctor softly. “But I sure do hope he wakes up soon. If he can’t get anything to eat and drink, he’ll be getting weak. If he does wake up, Cat, feed the man. But stay with liquids. Tea and broth, and not much of it at once. And don’t you let him get up or move much. If he wakes, call me fast.”

The doctor gave such a deep sigh as he left that it surprised the Kid. Surely it was clear that Heyes was better? Surely there wasn't any doubt that he would wake up? The doctor's face said what he wouldn't put into words – he wasn't at all sure about any of that.

The next evening the Kid was adjusting the covers on Cat's bed where his partner lay when Heyes opened his eyes again. This time they stayed opened and struggled to focus on the Kid's face. Curry smiled. "Heyes!" he said gladly, "How are you, partner?"

But this time Heyes didn't smile – his mouth was opened and his eyes were wide. He pulled back from the Kid, breathing hard. The Kid couldn't figure out what was going on – Heyes looked terrified. Heyes had known the Kid just the night before and now he seemed to be afraid of his own partner. The Kid spoke with growing anxiety "Heyes, it's just me, Jed. What's wrong? You caught a bullet in the head, again, but you're going to be fine. Don't you remember me? What's wrong? What's wrong!?" But every word seemed to make Heyes more terrified and confused. The wounded man looked around in a panic and tried to climb out of bed. When the Kid held him down, Heyes struggled, twisting and kicking. But he was too weak and dizzy to put up a serious fight. He let out a frightened yell as he fell back onto the bed, panting.

Cat heard the commotion and ran into the room. "What is it, Thaddeus?"

"I don't know, Cat. Joshua woke up acting real strange. He won't say a word. He's afraid of me! I don't understand." Heyes looked frightened of Cat, too, and dismayed to find out that he wasn't wearing anything except a nightshirt in front of this strange lady. He felt his head, discovering the bandage over the place that hurt. Heyes lay weakly on the bed. His wide eyes darted uneasily around the room.

“It’s alright, Mr. Smith,” said Cat softly. But Heyes only winced, as if her voice hurt him somehow.
Cat sent a saloon girl down the street with a message. In minutes, Doc Grauer was there. He shooed Cat and the man he knew as Mr. Jones out of the room. The doctor was with Joshua for what seemed a long time to Cat and Thaddeus. They stood in the kitchen waiting and wondering. They could hear the doctor's voice, but not Smith's. Then all was silent until they heard a sharp ping answered by a wordless cry from the wounded man. Then there was silence again for minute after minute.

Finally the doctor walked slowly into the kitchen. "What on earth did that bullet do to the man, Doc?" asked Cat.

The doctor shook his head sadly. "I don't know exactly, but he can't talk."

"He yelled like mad a minute ago," said Jones.

"It's not his voice – it's his mind. He can't talk and he can't understand a word said to him. His hearing is fine - I tested it. That bullet hit something vital." Cat and Thaddeus stood in shock. Without realizing it, their hands met.

"His mind? Has he gone crazy?" whispered Jones in dread.

The doctor sighed. "I guess it depends on what you call crazy. His mind isn't working like it should when it comes to talking and understanding, but he seems rational otherwise. Or he did once I got him calmed down a bit and stopped trying to talk to him. He's still very shaken up."

"Is he gonna get better? He'd better – Hey. . . he just lives to talk," Thaddeus said, almost forgetting to use his partner's alias in his concern.

"I don't know. I just don't know." The doctor sounded frustrated. "For the moment, don't say anything to him. Any talking agitates him dangerously. He knows he should understand, he used to understand, but now he can't. He's confused and frightened. He doesn't know what's happened or where he is or why he can't talk or understand. Just use gestures – he understands those. He's real weak and he's in pain, but if you go easy he should be alright, in time. Or his body should . . ."

"Can you help – help his mind, Doc?" asked the injured man's partner.

The doc shook his head. "I just don't know what we can do to help his mind get better, or if it can get better. Maybe he'll heal up on his own – or maybe not. I'm no neurologist. There has to be someone out there who knows more than an old country doctor like me. I'm going over to the telegraph office and send out some messages to doctors. I still have friends in hospitals back east – I studied in Boston. We'll find out what we can. Keep him still and give him something to eat and drink. You might try a shot of whiskey to help him sleep. But keep the alcohol to a minimum."

When the doctor left, Kid sat slumped at the kitchen table with his arms hanging limply. He was devastated. When they were on the run, for weeks in the wild plains and mountains, talking with Heyes and playing cards with him and singing old songs with him was about all that kept the Kid sane. Now all that was gone – at least for the moment. And he couldn't even talk to Heyes. He couldn't say anything to comfort his partner, who must be in real need of a kind word. What was going to happen to Heyes . . . and the Kid? "Cat," said Thaddeus, helplessly, "I don't know what to do. What do I do?"

"You'll do what makes sense to you, and that'll be fine," said Cat. She put a hand on her new friend's shoulder and stood there for a while comforting him. When Thaddeus had settled some, she went to fix some broth and tea. She gave Jones a cup of hot tea for himself and, and when he had sipped on it a while and settled down, she gave him another hot cup to take to his partner.
Curry steeled himself for the emotional blow of seeing Heyes the way he was now. He took the cup of tea into the room where Heyes lay. He leaned weakly against a stack of pillows. Heyes' brown eyes were very wide. The wounded man started and gasped when the Kid came in. Heyes recognized Curry - there was no doubt of it. Their eyes met and Kid saw his partner's fear and pain all too clearly. The Kid looked at him and wanted more than anything to say something that would help, but he knew that he couldn't. He just tried to put all his sympathy and support into his eyes. Heyes dropped his gaze and avoided the Kid's eyes for a while, embarrassed by his disability and by his previous panic. But in a few minutes he looked up at Curry again, his eyes filled with anxiety.

The Kid fought against talking to Heyes – it was almost impossible for him to keep silent when Heyes needed his response so desperately. The Kid put the tea down for a moment and put his arm around his partner's shoulders, a lot like Cat had just done for him. Heyes didn't pull away this time. He put his hand over the Kid's for a moment, then took it away in confusion. This wasn't how men were supposed to act together, but then men were supposed to be able to talk and to understand.
The Kid handed Heyes the cup of hot tea and the man took it gratefully, finding comfort in this modest action that he could do just like he could before. He glanced up at the Kid and bit his lip in frustration. He had always been polite. It went hard not to be able even to say thank you. He put his thanks into his gaze. Then the stricken Heyes looked down and concentrated on holding his tea and drinking it, covering his confusion.

The Kid watched Heyes closely as he drank his tea and took a little broth that Cat Christy brought in. When that was done, Curry brought his partner a shot glass of whiskey, which Heyes gulped down gratefully. Soon the anxious brown eyes drifted closed. The Kid stood for a long time, looking at his sleeping partner and wondering about what to do next. Then he turned out the lamp and walked back into the kitchen.

Cat reached out to Thaddeus. Before they knew it they were in each other's arms and in tears, each for his or her own loss and the echoing hurt of the other's loss. Cat tried to pull away, saying, "I need to go look after him. This is wrong."

"No," said Thaddeus. "It's right." Cat must have agreed, because she came back into his arms and stayed there.


Last edited by HelenWest on Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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HelenWest

HelenWest

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Not Again! Empty
PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyWed Nov 13, 2013 7:45 pm

Chapter 3 revised

Cat heard her patient moving restlessly in the night. She got up and Thaddeus helped her with Joshua. It wasn't hard to guess what he needed after tea and soup and whiskey. Heyes, his eyes dark blanks in the lamplight, tamely let the Kid help him.

That night the wind began to blow and snow began to fall. The hotel building shook in the grips of a western blizzard. By morning Christy's was so deep in snow that there was no hope of either customers or employees who didn't live there showing up.

While the blizzard continued, the Kid took breakfast up to the late waking Heyes. The wounded man looked up anxious as the door opened, but relaxed as he saw his partner with a tray of food. But it wasn’t a regular breakfast. Following the doctor’s directions, Cat had sent up tea, broth, and dry toast. Curry carefully helped his partner to sit up and put the tray in front of him. Heyes looked disappointed not to be able to get some of the biscuits, eggs, and sausage he had smelled earlier, but he sighed and ate what was in front of him The Kid didn’t dare to leave his partner while he ate. He watched Heyes thoughtfully, wondering what the future would bring the pair.

As Heyes finished his breakfast and the Kid turned to take the tray away, he heard an inarticulate grunt from behind him. He turned to see his partner looking at him in pleading desperation. Unable to speak, he still had questions. Curry felt the terrible blow of his partner’s disability. He put the tray down on the dresser in the hotel room and went to Heyes’ side. But how could the injured man ask a question or Curry answer it without words?

Heyes took into the Kid’s blue eyes to make sure that he had his partner’s attention. Then the shot man reached up and gently touched the bandage around his head. He looked the question at Curry. Curry made his right hand into the universal sign for a gun and pointed it at his partner’s head, jerking his second finger to suggest the pulling of the trigger. Heyes gasped softly and swallowed hard. He didn’t nod, but it was clear that he understood what had happened. The distress in the dull brown eyes was tragic to his partner.

Heyes looked around himself in fear. Where was the gunman? Where was Heyes, himself? Could men still be chasing the former outlaws?

Unable to stop himself, the Kid started to say “Heyes . . .” In answer his partner drew back as if he had been struck. It was agony to Curry to see how badly hearing even his own name hurt him.
The Kid though for a moment. How could he show his partner that there was nothing to worry about from their pursuers? Did Heyes even remember how they had been chased by the posse in the Flatiron Mountains?

The Kid boosted his partner to sit up more in bed, then gestured toward the window. Snow was still falling rapidly outside. Now and then the building shook in the grips of the wind that blew the blizzard. Heyes watched out of tired, bleary eyes. But the Kid saw the anxiety retreat from his partner’s eyes. He did not even nod. But he had understood. In this blizzard, there would be no posse on their heels.

Even in silence, the two long-time partners were able to communicate. Curry was not surprised that he and Heyes could share ideas without words – they had done it many times as children, as outlaws, and as men on the run in hopes of amnesty. But the dull, shamed look in Heyes' eyes hurt Curry more than any wound. He hadn't done anything to be ashamed of, but it seems to be human nature to be embarrassed when we need help with everyday things we can usually do on our own.
By the time the snow stopped the following day, four feet of solid white, with deeper drifts on the east side, had isolated Christy's. It made plenty of work for the Kid. He dug over to the stable to make sure the horses were safe and had food and water. And he dug out to the street in case anyone needed to come in for shelter. But the blizzard brought the Kid some peace of mind. No posse was going to be chasing anyone in the Flatiron Mountains in that weather. It would be days before anything moved for many miles around and even then all tracks would be covered. They might even be safe until spring. Or then again, they might not. The posse could be trapped in town rather than outside it.

The doctor was able to connect his own cleared path to the one the Kid had dug from the street to Christy's place. So the doctor was able to look in on his patient late in the afternoon after the storm ended.

Doc Grauer came in from the cold, stomping snow from his boots. He warmed himself by the hotel’s kitchen stove, then went to the room next door to see his patient. Grauer remained silent as he looked carefully at Heyes, and looked at the ugly stitches under the bandage on the wounded’ man’s head. The doctor stepped into the kitchen next door before he spoke to Mr. Jones and Cat Christy.

“He’s healing up well, I think. In body, anyhow. The mind, I just can’t know,” said the medical man in a soft, concerned voice.

“What can we do for him?” asked Miss Christy.

“I think he’ll be fine for solid food now, if you keep it light and not too much at once. I think you still don’t dare speak to him. You can try now and then and see how he reacts, but give it a day or two. Keep him still and quiet.”

It was no trouble to keep Heyes quiet. As the hours and then days went by, unable to speak and hearing no speech, with his partner and Miss Christy only able to sit silent with him, Heyes fell into bleak despair. He lay in bed by the hour, hardly moving except when he ate or relieved himself with his partner’s help. Heyes’ formerly sparkling brown eyes were dull and distant or closed. He never smiled. Curry sat by his partner often, but there was nothing to do in the back room but sit silently. More than anything, Curry wanted to tell Heyes not to give up, that he would get better. The Kid had never seen Heyes give up, but now he seemed to be on the verge of it.

The next day, with the doc's permission, Joshua was able to move cautiously to an easy chair for a little while. He walked slowly and clumsily, leaning on Thaddeus and Cat. The following day they helped him to get dressed. They moved Heyes to the Kid's upstairs room. Heyes needed lots of help from Thaddeus and Cat on the stairs. It was better for the patient to be away from the constant activity of the business end of the hotel and saloon as the town dug out of the blizzard and people began to turn up again. Heyes remained silent. As he and Cat helped Joshua Smith up the stairs, Jones felt his partner start to fall. “Partner . . .” he gasped. Heyes drew back in anguished confusion as Jed reached to grab him and keep him upright. Understanding, clearly, had not returned.

Peggy, the dark little dancehall girl who had helped care for Joshua when he first arrived, was a quiet soul herself. She took a special interest in their patient. Peggy was glad to bring him food and drink and help him in any way she could. She understood that she couldn't talk to the dark, silent man. She found other ways to reach Joshua. When Curry came into the upstairs room the second night that his partner was there with him, he wasn't surprised to find Joshua and Peggy gently kissing. The Kid smiled and withdrew quietly. He waited until he heard Peggy leave before he went back to the room. Heyes wasn't well enough to do much with a woman, but a little cuddling sure couldn't hurt him.

Curry was glad to know that something gave Heyes pleasure. The rest of his time was awful as the days went by. Heyes grew bored and restless, moaning in pain and frustration. When the doctor had tested to see if his patient could read the local paper, Joshua had just turned sadly away and handed the paper back. Offered a pencil and paper, he had seemed unsure what these things would even be used for.

When Curry woke up that first morning that Heyes was back in the bed next to his, it was kind of a relief to have his partner back with him as they had been in so many hotel rooms in so many little western towns. There was Heyes, in his scruffy long underwear, stretching and yawning just as the Kid had seen him on so many mornings. But when Curry said "good-morning" the way he had so many times, the awful look in his partner's eyes stopped him. Things weren't remotely the way they always had been before.

The Kid had never spent any time with anyone who couldn't talk, or understand speech before. He had to think about every smallest bit of routine or anything that needed to be communicated, so he could get it across to Heyes without words. He found himself miming things, like bringing breakfast up the steps to Heyes that first morning, when his partner looked at him looking hungry and not sure what to do about it. It eventually occurred to Curry that he had actually known people before who couldn't talk or understand – but only babies. They could at least cry when they wanted something. Heyes didn't even have that outlet. He looked like he wanted to cry sometimes. He just sat with his head in his hands, embarrassed and frustrated.

Too weak to do much physically, unable to talk or understand, read or write, Heyes found nothing to do with the hours of his days. He couldn't even play cards or gossip to pass the time. He just lay in bed staring at the ceiling or he sat up in a chair staring fixedly out the window at the snowy street. Something was going on in his partner's mind in those silent hours, Curry felt sure, but he had no clue what it was. Heyes was always thinking. Long rides had often hatched complex plans, in the past. Now, what could he be thinking of? Maybe Heyes was looking for the sheriff's office. It was in sight, but Curry guessed that Heyes didn't know it because there were no bars in the front windows and Heyes couldn't read the sign. It was terrible to see Heyes unable to read – it was something that had always given him such pleasure. Reading had always helped the curious outlaw in his eternal quest to learn. Now he was locked in his own mind as thoroughly as he was locked in the snow-bound Colorado town.

At night Curry heard Heyes tossing and turning and sometimes crying out in his sleep. During most of the daytime hours Heyes stayed in his hotel room or in the back room where he could be near Cat and the Kid without seeing any customers. It tortured Heyes to hear any speech at all, so he avoided any company other than the Kid and Cat and Peggy. He was reluctant to meet any stranger who would soon realize that he couldn't talk or even understand what was said to him. Without the comfort and connection of speech, Heyes became more despondent by the day. He knew all too well that he was nothing but a burden and a worry, and if the law or bounty hunters showed up, he would even be a danger to his partner. One morning the Kid found Heyes in their room stretched out on his bed, face down, crying hard. Curry crept away hoping that his partner would never know the Kid had seen him in such a shameful state, but Heyes looked up in time to see the man as close to him as a brother. The open agony in Heyes' tear-streaked face shook the Kid so badly that he ran down to the bar and poured himself a whiskey at 9:00 in the morning. It didn't help.

Cat tried to make friends with Joshua as best she could, with her sad smile and gentle touch. She learned all she could about him from his partner, trying to figure out what she could do to help. Thaddeus, of course, had to be very careful what he said about his partner and himself, even to Cat.

One afternoon when the town had dug out from the blizzard, Cat left the hotel while she went on some errand down the street. When she came back she had a new purchase to show to Thaddeus. He smiled dubiously and said, "I don't know. . ." But Cat knew what she was doing. She had had an idea of what might help to relieve Joshua's isolation and boredom. She found her silent patient in the back room petting the hotel's one-eared calico mouser.

Cat handed Joshua a battered dark wood parlor guitar she had seen in the window of a pawn shop. Thaddeus stood behind Cat and saw interest stir in his partner's eyes for the first time since he had been shot. Joshua gave Cat a look of thanks and touched her hand. He tuned up the guitar thoughtfully and then slowly picked out some chords. It had been a long time since he had played. When Heyes and the Kid had gone straight they had left Heyes' old guitar behind at Devil's Hole. It had been over a year since he had played at the Jordan family's place in Colorado where they had hidden out from yet another posse, and once he had borrowed a guitar from a girl they met in Mexico. Heyes slowly got back into practice on the instrument. Cat and Thaddeus left him to it.
As the blizzard passed and a few customers returned to Christy's place, Curry played poker and black jack with the local miners and townsfolk. He hoped to win some money to help with Heyes' medical and hotel bills. They must be mounting up, although the doctor and Cat hadn't mentioned it yet.

Curry could sometimes hear Heyes playing the guitar uncertainly in the back room. Gradually his skills were improving. One day Heyes played with the door open as if he wanted people to hear him finally making a coherent sound. Eventually, even Ted the irascible piano player stopped to listen. The Kid caught his breath. He knew the song that Heyes was playing - it was one he had heard Heyes' mother play when they were small, whenever there was real trouble at the farm. Heyes had played the same song on his guitar at Devil's Hole, right near the end when things were so bad, just before they had gone straight. The Kid guessed that people all over the country played that song for trouble. As Heyes played it through for a second time the girls and gamblers in the saloon looked up and one by one they started to sing, their soft voices standing in for that of the man who might never have a voice again.

The Kid joined in hoarsely:

". . . though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say, hard times come again no more.
Tis' the song, the sigh of the weary, hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door, oh hard times, come again no more."

Chapter revised

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HelenWest

HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyThu Nov 14, 2013 6:59 pm

Not Again! Chapter 4 revised.

Late one morning in the room upstairs, Heyes found himself alone and restless. There was nothing to do and he was feeling stronger than he had been. He heard the laughter and clinking glasses in the saloon and hotel downstairs. He wondered if he could help, or at least have some company. He didn't know their names, or his own, but he wanted to be with people. Maybe he could cuddle that nice dark-haired girl? Leaning on the bedstead and the dresser to steady himself, Heyes made his way to the door of his and the Kid's room and looked out. He didn't see any customers, so he started for the stairs.

Then he heard a rustle of stiff fabric behind him and the high, dignified voice of an elderly woman who had just emerged from one of the rooms. Heyes turned toward her. The polite man that he was, he couldn't ignore her even if he couldn't understand her or say anything to her. As he turned around, the lady screamed and stared at him. Heyes stood in shock – what had frightened her? He was a reasonably nice looking guy, he had always thought. Everything was so strange since he had been here; had he somehow become frightening looking?

With a rattle of heels, Cat was up the stairs in a moment, taking control of the situation. Heyes crept back to his room, where he took shelter, his heart racing. The old lady still sounded hysterical, her voice running on and on as she walked away with Cat. Heyes couldn't understand her and cringed in pained confusion.

The old lady said to Cat, "You know I didn't want to stop at this place, but when the snow was so deep and our stage broke down, we had to, and all these rough men and those floozies. I'm sorry, but I didn't trust anyone here – except you, of course, my dear. Then I saw that nice young man – he looked so nice – what happened to that nice young man?" Cat eventually got her away where her voice wouldn't bother Joshua.

Heyes looked at himself in the mirror. Now he understood what had happened. He had taken off his bandage earlier to comb his hair and had forgotten to put it back on. When he couldn't even think in words, it was hard to remember things. The wound did look pretty awful. It was still red and a little swollen, though much less than it had been. The bruising was mostly gone, but the ugly dark stitches were still there contrasting with his very pale skin where it had been shaded by his hair and his hat. With the hair around the left side of his head cut all short and ragged and that nasty wound, he guessed he had given the proper old lady a turn. He leaned close to the glass to look into the reflection of his own dark eyes. They looked a bit weird even to him – dull and blank as if there was something in his head that wasn't working right. That was true enough. Was he going crazy? He had been wondering that a lot lately, even though he didn't know the words for it. Heyes sat on the bed with his arms folded and faced the wall, head down.

Nearly an hour later, the Kid came back from fetching a load of groceries with the wagon. He found his partner still sitting there, aching with misery. Cat had told Thaddeus about the screaming lady. God, how Curry wished he could say something that would comfort Heyes and tell him that he was going to be alright – even if he wasn't sure that it was true. But anything the Kid said would upset his partner. He put a hand on his Heyes' shoulder. Heyes shrugged the hand away and tried to ignore his partner.

The Kid stared at Heyes’ back in silent grief. What on earth were they going to do? Finally, Curry got up and went down stairs. He motioned that Heyes could follow him, to come down where there was company, but his partner was still just staring into space, not seeing anything.

Later, the Kid was working in the back room stacking wood. He saw his partner walk by rapidly. He was heading for the back door into the snowy, freezing alley. He had no coat on. The Kid rushed out the door and grabbed his partner around the shoulder. He turned Heyes around and looked into his eyes. Curry forgot himself, “What are you trying to do Heyes? You’ll freeze to death out here!”
The Kid’s partner didn’t even cringe at the words. He just ignored them as Curry forcibly pulled him back in the door. The dark outlaw’s eyes were so blank that it was impossible to tell what he was thinking or trying to do. The Kid put Heyes in a chair by the stove and brought him some hot tea. The wounded man was shivering hard.

The Kid locked the back door before he stepped into the kitchen and found their hostess. “Cat, something’s wrong with Joshua. He tried to go outside without a coat. It must be 10 before out there. Can you watch him for me and make sure he doesn’t do anything like that again? I want to go ask the doc something.”

“Of course, Thaddeus,” said Cat, sounding very concerned. “Don’t freeze yourself. And please, let me know what the doc says, will you?”

Thaddeus Jones put on his shearling coat and his hat and hurried out into the Colorado cold. In a few minutes he was at the doctor’s office. The doctor himself let Thaddeus in and they gathered by the stove. “What is it, Mr. Jones? Are you having trouble with Smith?”

"Doc," asked Thaddeus, "Isn't there anything we can do? He just tried to go outside with no coat. I had to fight him to get him back inside. It's getting to where we have to watch him every minute. We don't know what he's going to do next. I found him in the kitchen yesterday, looking for God knows what. I can't hide all the dangerous things in a working kitchen. And I can't lock him away in his room." The Kid couldn't tell the doctor that Heyes could get out of any locked room within minutes. Even if he had forgotten how to talk, the Kid doubted that Heyes would have forgotten how to pick locks. He certainly still carried his collection of homemade pick locks.

The doc looked troubled, but not surprised. “Frankly, from what I’m hearing from folks who’ve treated people with Smith’s problem – inability to speak or understand after a head injury or a stroke – this isn’t unusual. It can cause problems with far more than talking. I haven't heard anything about a cure or even any treatment. I'm still asking around. There are rumors that there might be someone who knows something more about this, but I haven't found the man yet. There is one thing that I have heard about and that you need to think about, if he gets worse."

"Worse?" asked the Kid, frightened at the thought.

"Not being able to talk or understand is real hard on a man. You can see that." The doctor heaved a deep sigh. "If he gets worse, if you have a hard time dealing with him . . . you might have to think about committing him."

"About what?!" The Kid was badly shaken. "Committing him to what?"

"To a mental institution. An insane asylum. They are getting better these days, although I admit there's a long way to go." The doctor knew that what he was saying was the very last thing that Jones wanted to hear.

"He just can't talk. He's not crazy!" Thaddeus was appalled.

"You sure about that?" The doctor was deadly serious. "You just said you never know what he'll do next. I'm not saying you have to do anything right now. But you need to know that the longer he stays this way, the worse he may get. That is what a lot of people with very serious aphasia – what he has – the inability to speak or write or use language at all - that's what happens to many of them. If a man can't live in society and can't care for himself, and you can't trust him not to hurt himself, what else are you going to do?"

The Kid stared at the doctor, unable to answer. He pulled his coat around him and went out the door, numb more form what he had heard than from the cold. As he walked back down the boardwalk, dodging patches of ice, felt more and more desperate. He wasn't sure what he was going to do to support himself and to look after his injured partner. Thank goodness Cat wasn't pressing Thaddeus to pay her anything. In fact, the Kid had started doing some work for Cat Christy. Thaddeus kept an eye on the saloon, as he and Heyes had done at a saloon in Wickenburg almost two years before. He made sure there was no trouble and that everything ran smoothly. There were moments when it was undeniably helpful for Cat to have a man with a fast gun hand around the place, and Thaddeus wasn't too proud to deal cards or to help wash dishes and clear tables.

When he got back to Christy’s Place, Curry was more worried by the hour. The next morning, Cat heard Peggy shout, “Miss Christy, Joshua’s going out without his coat!” It took both Cat and Mr. Jones to get Smith back inside. He eyes remained utterly blank.

The Kid sat with his head in his hands by the stove, watching his partner. He couldn't commit Heyes! He wouldn't! It was much too much like the prison sentence they had been running away from for years. But what else could he do, in the end?

With Joshua was safely upstairs, Thaddeus sat in the kitchen and talked to Cat about what the doctor had said. "I can't do that to him, Cat! I can't! We're like brothers. He's looked after me since I was a baby! We've always, well almost always, been close. But we're asking so much of you and all your people. Can we keep him here, at least for a while longer?"

"Of course, Thaddeus! We'll deal with whatever we have to. We won't do what the doctor says." Cat was as appalled as Thaddeus had been at the idea of committing Joshua.

"But if he does get worse?" Thaddeus wasn't going to hide his head from that threat.

"We'll face that when it happens, if it happens" said Cat.

The Kid was back to the doctor the next day and the next, but the telegrams to the east had brought no additional news. Curry was starting to get as restless as Heyes was. He worried what they would do if they were caught by the law here, and what they would do when it was time to move on. Time to move on had always come wherever they had been since they went straight. It would be days before Heyes could possibly be strong enough to ride - if he could be trusted with a horse.

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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Not Again 5   Not Again! EmptySat Nov 16, 2013 5:10 pm

One morning soon after Louisville had dug out of the blizzard, a group of three surly, skinny saddle bums came to the bar at Christy's place. The three, a scrawny dirty blonde, a pimply teen-ager, and a tall grey-haired man, were all dirty and thirsty for liquor. But the men had little cash. When they tried to improve their situation by playing some poker with the locals, they did not fare well. Desperation does not help any man's poker game.

The trio of saddle bums got into a fierce argument with a trio of local miners. The Kid moved toward the table with his hand on his gun grip. His mouth was open to ask the strangers to leave when he saw a new figure coming in the door. It was Sheriff Wilde. The Kid closed his mouth. He slunk into the back room to avoid the man in the badge.

But Curry still kept his ears pricked for trouble. Sure enough, another loud argument was not long in coming. "Damn you, you're dealing from the bottom of the deck," the grey-haired stranger yelled.

"I'm dealing straight and you know it!" a local miner known as Buster answered. Yells came from the other two strangers. The sound of a struggle was obvious – punches being thrown and maybe some chairs as well. The Kid peered through the door into the front room in time to see the sheriff stand up and call for order. He pulled his six-gun before the grey-haired saddle bum could even touch his gun, but behind the sheriff the blonde stranger was sneaking up with a hachet, ready to strike. The sheriff didn't have a chance unless someone else helped.

The Kid was the one to do it. He drew and fired at the man with the hatchet. The man gave a yell – Curry had nicked him in the shoulder. The grey-eyed sheriff turned and looked the Kid full in the face for a long moment. Curry didn’t dare to flee – that would have sealed his guilt. The Kid was positive now that the sheriff recognized him. The man in the badge gave the Kid a silent salute and turned to deal with the drunk and disorderly saddle bums he had to take care of, including one who needed a doctor. Not a word was said between Wilde and the Kid.

The Kid kept his bag packed and prowled the back rooms of Christy's place waiting for the sheriff to come back for him. Cat said, “Thaddeus, what’s wrong? I haven’t seen you out front since yesterday. Are you afraid those guys will be back? I’ve never known you to be scared of anyone, ever.”

The Kid studied the floor in silence.

Cat looked concerned, but she didn’t press the matter. “Alright, Mr. Jones. If you don’t want to tell me, I can only draw my own conclusions. I’ll get someone else to clear tables, but I wish we had you out there to head off trouble.”

But a day passed and then another. The sheriff checked in at the bar as usual to make sure that everything was peaceful, but he never confronted the Kid or Heyes. "Now what?" wondered the Kid. But there was no one he could talk to about it. Cat didn't know who her new lover was and Heyes couldn't bear to hear any talk at all.

That night while Heyes slept, the Kid lay in the next bed in the dark. “I sure am stuck,” he whispered to himself. “And I can’t tell nobody a word about it. Not even you, Heyes. Whatever am I going to do?”

Revised chapter
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Keays

Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 7:08 pm

I'm certainly getting into this story now HW.  I'll continue to read them here as you revise them that way I'll still have time to do some of my own writing! 
Kid does seem to have an awful situation on his hands doesn't he?  Commit Heyes to an insane asylum?  I don't think so!  But what to do with him, and no one to talk to about it.
And what a frightening place for Heyes to be.  I think I'd be crying in the pillows too.  If a condition like this doesn't get better I suppose the only way to communicate would be through sign language.  At least Heyes as the hands for it!
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HelenWest

HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 7:24 pm

Thanks so much, Keays! I haven't been able to do any revisions in some time since I've been so busy with work. I really shouldn't have taken time for the chat today, but since it was about my own work, I thought I would. I'll try to get a revised chapter up on occasion. The originals of these were posted more than a year ago, so it really is nice to revisit it and have someone be interested. Yes, I've put our partners in a very difficult spot. I understand that the loss of communication really is devastating, and it would also be so for the person used to being communicated with. I feel cruel to do it to them! Thank you!
HW
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Keays

Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 7:27 pm

I know what you mean.  I had to push my Heyes beyond his limits as well and I was surprised at how difficult it was to do.  But it had to be done in order to get to where we needed to go.  I know where your stories are over on fanfiction.net.  If I feel that I can't wait for your revised chapters I will just go there.  But I would rather wait for the most current edition if you know what I mean.
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HelenWest

HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 7:37 pm

I do know what you mean. If you want to go in more detail, we could go to e-mail or private messaging. I really do feel like we have a lot to talk about.
HW
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HelenWest

HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 9:02 pm

Not Again, revised, chapter 6 The revisions are considerable in detail, but without changing the plot at all.



The next day, the Kid was helping his partner, who still got dizzy when he leaned over, to pull on his boots. Curry, as he sometimes did, accidently let a few words slip out. "Heyes, damn it, hold still!" Heyes' head went up suddenly, but he didn't cringe. Instead he turned to look at Curry keenly, his eyes narrowing in concentration.

Curry looked back at Heyes and asked slowly, in a low voice, "Heyes, did you understand what I said?" Heyes studied his partner and licked his lips nervously. He seemed to want terribly to say something. Curry asked again, very slowly, "Heyes, do you understand me? Do you know your name?" He nodded as if to urge his partner to do the same. Heyes hadn't nodded or shaken his head since the shooting. It was as if in his mind these gestures were the same as the words yes and no, to which his wounded mind gave him no access. But now, copying Curry, he nodded slowly and uncertainly. "You do? You know your name, Heyes, you understand?" The Kid strove to keep the excitement out of his voice and to speak very slowly and plainly. Heyes nodded again, with more certainty. "But you still can't say anything, can you?" Curry shook his own head to cue his partner, who tentatively shook his head. "But you can understand me! That's wonderful! You're getting better!" Heyes looked up at the Kid with what might have been hope, but then he looked at the floor in embarrassment. He was a proud man and being able to understand some just made his own inability to speak all the clearer to him.

Curry went to get Doc Grauer, who was delighted to find that Mr. Smith was improving. The hard question he had brought up before didn't seem so pressing. Heyes didn't try to leave the hotel in the cold again. The doctor could talk with his patient now and get nods and head shakes in answer to simple questions if he asked slowly. “Mr. Smith, does your head still hurt you? Where you were shot?” asked the doctor. Heyes nodded, but held up his hand with the thumb and finger close together to indicate that it didn't hurt too much. The doctor noticed that the bruise was rapidly disappearing from the wounded man's face and he thought that Mr. Smith's brain must be healing the same way. Maybe he would heal up and be talking soon. The Doc thought to check again to see if Mr. Smith could read – he showed him the latest issue of the town paper. Heyes just looked frustrated and shook his head. He handed the paper back to the doctor, all too calmly. Doc sighed and said "Not yet. But maybe soon, Mr. Smith. Maybe soon."

To Curry it was a tremendous relief to be able to talk to Heyes, even if his partner couldn't answer. The Kid went to Heyes when he was alone in their room after breakfast. Heyes sat on the bed, looking questions at Curry. The brown eyes were still terribly dull compared with their former sparkle, but there were new signs of life. Heyes was trying, without words, to find out what had happened to him. If he couldn’t ask very precisely at least his partner could answer. The Kid spoke slowly, studying his partner’s face to see if he was really understanding. “Heyes – partner – do you remember that posse chasing us out of that little town? I don’t even remember the name – that place in Colorado? Do you remember?”

Heyes stared at Curry with a slight grimace of frustrated concentration. Heyes shook his head. He didn’t remember. Or he couldn’t understand enough of what the Kid said to know.

Curry went on, trying to help his partner to find the memory. “We were playing poker in that little saloon made out of stone – little, dark place. You saw the guy watching us. The guy with the black mustache. It was some bounty hunter you remembered. Or it was two of them, you said - partners. Like us. We left the saloon and got the horses just in time. They took off after us with a bunch of guys. We rode out into the Flatirons. God, it was cold! It was just ten days ago. Do you remember? Heyes, do you understand what I’m saying? Do you remember at all?”

Heyes turned away and blinked. He put his hand to his head, panting with the effort of thought. The Kid watched his partner in anguish. Had he really forgotten? Heyes never used to forget anything! But a bullet in the head could take away a lot.

Finally, Heyes turned to the Kid again. He nodded. He remembered something. But he held up his hand as he had about the pain in his head, with his finger and thumb close together. He didn’t remember much.

Curry went on, unsure how much his partner was really following. “You remember that Clay pulled up lame?” Heyes reached up and caught the Kid’s wrist. He looked confused. The Kid tried again. “Your horse – Clay – he went lame.” Heyes nodded and some understanding seemed to dawn.

Later that afternoon, in the back room, the Kid told Cat about his first real conversation with his partner. “My God, Cat, he didn’t remember the name of his own horse! It kept happening. I had to keep saying things two or three times in different words. I had to go slowly, or he didn’t understand at all. I thought once Joshua started to understand speech again, he’d understand it all, just the way he used to. But he doesn’t.”

Cat looked sympathetically at her lover, as distressed as he was about his partner’s slow recovery. “Joshua doesn’t understand everything yet, Thaddeus. He will. Or I hope he will. Surely he will!”

Back in the upstairs room with Heyes that night, Curry was explained how many days they had been at Christy's place. He stumbled a bit over figuring up the number. Heyes held up all ten fingers and looked at Curry questioningly. Curry said "Yeah, Heyes, ten days ago. You been here ten days – three days out cold, two more days down stairs during that blizzard, and five days up here, counting today." Heyes held up three fingers on his right hand and then the other two fingers, and then all five fingers on the left hand. He seemed to find some satisfaction in being able to do a little calculation. Heyes had always loved math and had used it all the time when he had headed the Devil's Hole gang. Three plus two plus five wasn't much compared to the complex figuring Heyes had done before, when he was figuring up the time tables and logistics for plans, but it was something.


Last edited by HelenWest on Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Javabee

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 10:18 pm

HW, I have already read your original version and am looking forward to your next chapter. In the mean time I am also reading your revisions as they come. You have really chosen an especially effective way to create angst. Being unable to communicate would be terrible for anyone, but for Heyes it's especially hard. He is known for his silver tongue, and taking it away is like taking Kid's shooting arm. It's hard to see him like this. I am finding myself enjoying your story even more the second time around.  Very Happy 

Java

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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptySun Jan 19, 2014 10:25 pm

Thank you, JB! Angst, indeed. But more than that, I hope. I'm so glad you are enjoying it! When I first wrote it, I just didn't show all the scenes that I should have. It's so much more vivid to see it happening than to have it explained. I'm enjoying going back over it. I just wish I had more time for it.
HW
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 9:36 am

Nice to see Heyes beginning to heal and starting to understand a little bit.  Long road ahead though.  How frustrating for both of them.
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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 10:23 am

I too am really enjoying reading the revisions. Much more detail. Thanks for taking the time to do it :)
(And I must admit, I've read this story more than once already! It's one of my favorites.)

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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 11:37 am

Wow, it's such a complement to have you all - Keays, JB, and HannaHeyes and however many others - along for the ride -first time or second or more than that! Yes, in light of what came later, I just really feel these first, brief chapters are worth revising. You may notice that the later chapters of the cycle get more and more detailed and longer and longer as I warm into my characters and the larger story. I'm glad you agree with the revisions at the beginning! It is painful material, but to me that proves the characters all the more. By the way, one thing I am doing is taking out gratuitous exclamation marks. They are a positive plague. It is a natural outcome of my enthusiastic nature as a person, but it does no favors for the dark story. I'll keep revising as I can. Some of these take a lot of thought to bring out the specific stories, but others just flow. Thank you, all.
HW
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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 2:59 pm

Helen West - really enjoying this story and glad to see it posted here.  If you are reviewing and posting here I will catch each chapter here as you do it.  I have just re-done most of mine and I know I'd rather have people read the updated versions.  Looking forward to the next part!

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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 3:48 pm

Thanks, SK! Yes, I cringe at the typos and inconsistencies - some even in the edited versions. Sometimes I just got excited and posted too rapidly. I'm glad you are looking forward. I'm terribly busy, but try to fit this in as a refreshment between more serious work. Are your updated versions on this board as well, I assume? I'll have a look when I can.
HW
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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 4:48 pm

Just fixed a major typo in chapter 2. There really is no end to it, but I am trying.
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 6:33 pm

Hey, I've proof read my stories numerous times and I'm still find typo's.  You're right; it is never ending! I have a new respect for professional proof readers and editors.
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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 6:38 pm

Very funny putting a couple of typos in the remark! I just finished editing a book and couldn't have done it without plenty of help. Something always slips by just one pair of eyes.
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HelenWest

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PostSubject: Not Again! Revised chapter 7   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 10:27 pm

Here is the revision for Not Again! chapter 7. Again, I've spelled out some scenes only described previously, but not changed the plot at all.



The next morning the sun streaming in their frosty windows woke the pair of ex-outlaws. Curry happily greeted the stretching Heyes, “Good morning, partner!” It was great for the Kid to see Heyes look up brightly in answer rather than cringing at the words, even though he couldn’t give more answer than that. Heyes didn’t exactly smile, but he looked far less down than he had previously. Once the boys were dressed, the Kid asked his partner, slowly and clearly, “Heyes, would you like to eat breakfast with Cat – with Miss Christy – and me? Would you like to come downstairs?” The Kid made the gestures of eating, to make sure his partner had followed the question. Heyes had eaten his meals on a tray in bed until now, unable to endure the talk and bustle around breakfast in the hotel.

There was no confusion in Heyes’ face as he nodded his acceptance and headed for the door of the room. He had certainly understood the invitation. However, he looked uncertain. It has been so long since he had been in company. Whether or not he could understand what was said to him, he still couldn’t respond. So it was still a terribly awkward situation for the silent former outlaw. “You’ll be fine, Heyes,” said the Kid, clapping his partner on the shoulder. “Cat will make sure of that.”

As the pair appeared at the table in the larger of the two back rooms where they ate, Cat looked up with a smile and said, “Good morning, gentlemen! It’s a pleasure to have you come to the table, Joshua.”

Heyes looked a little confused for a moment, it seemed to his partner. It occurred to Curry that Heyes hadn’t heard, or understood, his own alias in so long that he might have momentarily forgotten it. In a way, it was a good thing that Heyes couldn’t talk yet. It would have been easy for him to say something dangerous when he was still a little uncertain with his vocabulary and memory. But the silent man was improving in his understanding. It was nice for him to be able to hear and respond to even simple things like a request that he pass the salt. When Cat asked if he wanted bacon or sausage, Heyes thought for a second and put up one finger. He wanted the first. The same method worked on biscuits or pancakes. Two fingers meant pancakes.

Curry laughed. “Joshua, trust you to find a way to talk using numbers.”

Cat and Thaddeus tried not to talk around Joshua, but it was hard to avoid doing this when they had practicalities to discuss and they weren’t things that involved the Kid’s partner. But Heyes listened carefully to all that was said. It was clear that he understood more and didn’t get confused so easily. His eyes moved to follow each speaker in turn. He seemed able to follow their talk about routine matters like stocking the bar. He particularly paid attention to anything with numbers involved, like how many cases of whiskey ordered, or how many decks of cards, or how much money the place brought in.

Heyes saw Sheriff Wilde in the saloon that afternoon and the Kid was there to see his partner turn pale and look at the tall law man with dread in his eyes. Had the sheriff noticed Heyes when the door to the back room had opened for a few moments? The two partners exchanged an uncertain glance. But now Heyes paced their room all the more, open fear added to his restlessness and frustration. The Kid hoped that the sheriff posed no danger after he had saved the man with the badge from an axe blow, but he could not be sure. He didn't dare to approach the sheriff himself to ask.

When Cat and Thaddeus were alone in the hotel office, she looked him hard in the eye and asked a series of questions that she knew were closely related, "Thaddeus, why didn't you even talk to Sheriff Wilde after that fight?” She paused. Thaddeus didn’t answer. So Cat asked again, “Who shot Joshua? Why'd they shoot him – and why didn't you go see the sheriff about it?" There was a long, painful silence. The Kid wouldn't meet his lover's eyes.

Jones's voice was low and strained, "Cat, I can't tell you any of that. I would if I could, but I just can't. You've got to trust me a little bit longer."

"Smith and Jones. I should of known. Guess I did know. You're wanted, aren't you? Those aren't real names." Cat didn't need to put any question into the phrase – the answer was clear. The Kid sighed and nodded. "Come on, honey, you know I wouldn't turn in you and Joshua, or whatever his name really is, for a couple hundred bucks. You mean an awful lot more to me than that." She took Thaddeus' hand and he kissed her gently.

Cat went on, with the Kid's arms around her, "But I've got to look after my people – the girls, the guys, the customers. I've got to know if some posse's gonna show up here looking for you, ready to shoot" Cat's voice stayed low and steady, but her deep blue eyes were troubled.

The Kid wondered how much he could tell her. He began, "We've gone straight – you know that. But yeah, it's possible. A posse shot Joshua – they were just chasing us for the money. We didn't do anything – anything new. The posse could show up. I don't think they will, after all this time, and all that snow, but they could," The Kid admitted. "But you know I can take care of it. You've seen me draw. I wouldn't put you in danger, not for anything." Curry held his breath. Was everything going to fall apart right now?

"Yeah, I've seen you draw. You're good. Too good. It isn't just a couple hundred on your heads, is it?" Cat looked hard into the Kid's blue eyes, to read the answers there. "It's more than that – a lot more - or you'd trust me. You know I stay up on the wanted posters. I've got to keep my place safe. I can look you two up real easy."

"But you won't, will you?" pleaded the Kid. "I can't stop you. But please, just don't ask. Not yet. When Joshua can ride steady and we can leave, we will. It won't be long now. We'll just vanish and we won't be back. But don't be trying names on us. I don't want to have to lie. Not to you."

Cat's eyes teared up. She reached for the Kid's hand. "No! Don't vanish! I've lost too many people! Like Pa – and Ma before that! And my kid brother . . . and . . . and . . . OK, I won't ask. I'll just trust you. Long as I can." The two blue-eyed worried people held each other close and tried to kiss their fears away.
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyMon Jan 20, 2014 11:05 pm

Ohhh, Cat's getting curious--and close.  She's going to figure this out on her own if Kid doesn't either tell her or leave.  Which is it going to be?
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PostSubject: Not Again revised chapter 8   Not Again! EmptyWed Jan 22, 2014 8:03 pm

“Joshua, I’d like you to meet Joe. He tends bar here,” said the Kid as his partner shook the pudgy bar-tender’s hand. Heyes nodded to Joe and looked uncertainly at the stranger. It was strange to Curry to think that Heyes had been living for more than two weeks at Christy’s place, where Joe worked, but the two men had never met. During his recovery, the wounded ex-outlaw had haunted the behind the scenes parts of the saloon and hotel. He had carefully avoided all of the customers and most of the employees when he could neither speak nor understand English. But now that he could understand speech as well as ever, he had dared to venture out with his partner protectively at his side. It was too early for the working girls and customers to have arrived, but Heyes’ eyes darted around the nearly empty bar, making sure that no strangers snuck up on him.

The dark-eyed silent man started and looked up uneasily as the saloon door swung opened and a slender bald man entered. The wounded man looked uneasily at his partner. The Kid smiled reassuringly. “Here’s Ted, the piano player. In fact, he does a lot of stuff around here for the girls and everybody,” said Curry. “Ted, come say hello to my partner, Joshua Smith. He’s doing a bunch better.”

Ted came over with a friendly smile to shake Joshua’s hand. “Hey there, Joshua. Ain’t it great he’s doing better, Thaddeus? I remember the night they brought him in all shot up and bloody . . .”


Joe jabbed his friend with his elbow. “Cut it out, Ted! Poor man don’t want to hear that. Smith, Cat said you might be up to helping me with washing some glasses. I’d be real grateful for some help. We were awful busy last night and I’ll never get it all clean before opening without help. That new boy Bruce is off buying some groceries for Cat, so he ain’t here to help like usual. Would you help me out?”

Joshua nodded. He would be glad to have something constructive to do. “Good, Joshua,” said Joe warmly. “The glassware is all back in the kitchen. Let’s go get at it. I’ll wash if you dry.”

Joshua nodded again. “And partner,” said Curry quietly, “if you get tired, just put the glass down and rest. The doc would have my head if I let you overdo it.” Heyes nodded shame-facedly. It was hard to cope with the fact that just washing glasses might be enough to tire him.

Joshua was happy to do some work alongside a new friend. They could hear Ted out front tuning the piano while Curry prepared the poker decks and chips and did other routine tasks to prepare for business. Joe washed glasses with practiced rapidity, while his unpracticed and slightly unsteady co-worker dried more slowly. So before he was done drying, Joe had some thank you and gone back out to get the bar ready for business. Before Joe had left, Heyes did start to feel tired. But he waited until he was alone before he pulled up a bar stool and sat down to rest for a few moments. From out in the bar, Heyes could hear Joe and Ted talking. Ted said in his piercing nasal voice, “Joshua Smith sure is shy.”

“Well, wouldn’t you be if you couldn’t talk?” replied Joe.

“I might at least smile at a man who smiles at me.”

“Aw, he just ain’t up for it yet, Ted. How’d you feel if you woke up and couldn’t say word one and didn’t know if you ever would? And why don’t you try talking to the man instead of past him? He might not be able to talk, but he’s still a man like any of us.”

The voices fell silent. Heyes put his hand to his head where he’d been shot, feeling the ache that came there sometimes. The wounded man didn’t have to hear Joe’s voice to know what he might be up against. And to doubt the last thing the bartender has said. He felt a gulf miles wide between himself and men with voices.

Curry walked in to the kitchen. He spoke softly, seeing the sore, weary look in his partner’s eyes and guessing that he had heard what had been said out front. “Let me finish that up, Heyes. You’ve made a good start, but you know what I said about the doc. I meant it. You go up to the room and rest a while. Ain’t that long you’ve been on your feet. You’ll be stronger soon.”

Heyes nodded, but wouldn’t meet his partner’s eyes. He walked into the bar because that was where the stairs were that led up to his room. He hated to pass the men he had heard talking about him.

As Heyes passed the men, head down, he heard Joe say, “Hey, Joshua, you hungry? Cat boiled me some good fresh eggs for the bar, just this morning. They’re still warm. You want one?”

Heyes looked up at the man and couldn’t keep the hurt out of his eyes. He shook his head and hurried up the stairs, holding tight to the handrail. As he reached the landing he could hear Ted saying softly to Joe, assuming the subject of their conversation couldn’t hear him, “See? The man just ain’t friendly.”

“You old music man, how do you know how he feels? Maybe somebody threw an egg at him once or something. I’ve heard some mighty sad stories over that bar. You can’t know what mighta’ happened to a man before he tells you. If he could talk, I’d be interested to know what kinda’ tale Joshua could tell. Might break your heart to hear it. I try to assume the best about folks, at least until I know better.”
The Kid came out of the kitchen to find the working girls starting to arrive. He sought out Peggy. “Honey, I got a feeling Joshua’s mighty lonely just now. You know?”

Peggy smiled sympathetically. She knew, so she climbed the stairs without a word.

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

The next morning, Joshua came back down to the bar at his partner’s side. He didn’t really want to, but he couldn’t hide away all his life. Ted walked up to him. “Morning, Smith!” Heyes nodded and started to turn away. He was starting to have a healthy dislike for the piano player. “Hey, Joshua. I was thinking – how’d you like to bring your guitar down and play with me some? I get sick of just playing the same old songs by myself all the time with folks ignoring me like I wasn’t there. I’d purely love to do some duets.”

Heyes shrugged. He wasn’t sure if he could figure out how to play a duet. He hadn’t ever tried. “Come on, Smith! If you don’t know how, I’ll teach you,” said Ted. Heyes nodded. What could it hurt?

Before long, Heyes and Ted were playing Old Kentucky Home together is decent harmony. Bruce the teenager helper sat on a chair near piano and listened while Thaddeus and Joe got the room ready for the day’s business. As the working girls started to come in, Heyes put down his guitar and walked toward the stairs. Bruce clapped. “That sure was pretty, boys! Hope you’ll give us another concert soon.” Heyes almost smiled, but not quite.

One day, when Joshua and Thaddeus were both in the back room sorting out decks of cards and piles of chips for the gaming that would go on later, Cat padded through the door silently and put her finger to her lips. She looked warningly at them and pointed out to the front room, where the boys could hear Joe the bartender talking loudly to someone saying, "No, we ain't had no such two men show up here. You seen a dark-haired man in a black hat and curly dark blonde in a brown hat, Ted?" No one there had seen Joshua in his black hat, but the identity of the two men had to be obvious to anyone who worked at or frequented Christy's Place. The boys looked out the back door and could saw someone moving stealthily in the alley behind the hotel. So there was no escape that way. The Kid's mouth flew open and he looked at Heyes in desperation.

Cat gestured for Thaddeus and Joshua to follow her. She led them through the kitchen door and reached inside a tall cabinet to move a couple of hinged pieces of wood. Then the whole cabinet swung aside. Behind it was a hidden spot where there was just space for the two men to hide in a crouch, pressed closely against one another. They guessed it might have been made for hiding bootleg liquor or hiding from Indians years before. The secret door was old and long disused. The hidden door creaked so loudly as Cat closed it that that they were afraid the men searching for them would hear it through the thin wall that separated them from the saloon.

The Kid and Heyes stood squashed together and bent over awkwardly in terrified silence, trying to hear what was going on. The employees and regular customers hadn't seen much of Joshua yet, but they had seen him and knew that he and Thaddeus were partners. If anyone, a single dance hall girl, a single customer, anyone at all, didn't keep up the pretense that the bar tender and piano player had started, it would be all over. Jail for the rest of their lives - at the very least. Maybe a shoot-out? And the people who had lied for them would be in deep trouble. That sure included Cat. Two hearts pounded, close enough for each to feel the other's. There was nothing they could do but wait and hope. They hoped that they hadn't accidentally irritated anyone, and that no one was enough in need of money to decide that they would turn the boys in. It was a good thing that no one seemed to know just how much money that might get them. The man questioning people didn’t reveal the amount of the reward or the names of the men he was seeking.

As they listened, it was hard to tell what was going on. Just a parade of voices, woman after woman and man after man. They must all being saying no, they didn't care what the guy down the street had said, they knew no such men. There was no commotion, no sudden opening of the hidden space behind the cabinet. Bruce, the skinny newly hired teen-ager who washed glasses, hardly knew the two men and sure could use the reward money. He answered in such a loud, nervous voice that the two hiding men could hear him clearly. They were afraid that he would give them away willingly or no. But he denied ever having seen such men. Somebody was mistaken. The searching men – the boys recognized their voices as men from the posse that had shot Heyes – came back to the back room and the kitchen. They hunted everywhere, opening cabinet doors, looking behind every flower bag, keg, and broom.

Then they were opening the door of the very cabinet in front of Heyes and Curry! It creaked and they braced themselves in absolute stillness and silence, not daring to breath, and praying that the catch that opened to the space where they hid would not open by accident, and that the men would not see the catches that opened the place behind the cabinet. It seemed like forever. The cabinet closed. The hostile voices faded. Minutes passed. Sweat dripped in the hidey hole.

After what seemed a long, long time, the door to the hidey hole opened and Cat led out the stiff, bent over men. Joshua stumbled and Cat had to keep him from falling. She helped him into a chair. He looked his thanks at Cat and hung his head. He knew that if it weren't for his wound, the Kid could have ridden away long ago without putting anyone in such danger, or offering such temptation. Thaddeus told Cat, "You sure have loyal folks, Cat! Every one of them! Not that it surprises me, but it pays tribute to the way you treat people. Including us. We are deeply beholden to you. And to all your people."

Cat gave a crooked smile and said, "After all that, I sure am curious about you two. You keep your secret as long as you like. I don't care how much money it is. I'm not turnin' you boys in. 'Cept for one thing. You ever murder anybody?"

Joshua and Thaddeus exhaled as one. "No!" said Jones firmly. "Neither one of us ever murdered anyone - or asked anyone to murder anyone. . . I admit I've put some bullets into guys in posses on our tails. And I shot a man to death. But it wasn't murder! The sheriff stood right there and saw that guy call me out and refuse to let me leave town without drawing on him. He was damn fast. I had to kill him."

Now it was Heyes' turn to sweat. He would never forgive himself for prodding Danny Bilson into gunning for the Kid. What if Danny had been the faster gun? It was Heyes who really felt that that blood was on his hands. That blood – and more from when he had led the Devil's Hole gang. It hadn't been murder, not by their hands, but it had been death. Hearing the Kid tell that story brought Heyes' guilt to the front of his mind, but it had been constantly in his thoughts all along after he had been shot. He couldn't escape the thought that his current troubles were a direct punishment for his dishonest past and the people who had suffered because of him – from dead gang members, to the people who had lost money in the gang's bank robberies, and most of all the Kid himself. And now Cat and her people could be added to the list of people Heyes saw as victims of his past. He had always tried to think of himself as a good guy, a nice person who had just been in a bad business, but that image made no sense to him now.

Now that Cat was asking the two hunted men about their dark pasts, they looked hard at each other. They could hardly keep their names a secret from Cat now. Heyes nodded at the Kid, who stopped for a minute to search his mind for all the reasons he shouldn't do this. Finally he nodded back. He said to Cat, "If you'll promise not to tell anyone, not anyone, until we give you permission, I think I can tell you our names. But you've got to promise! Your people held firm just now – but they didn't know how much money was on the line. If they knew, there would have to be one – at least one – who'd give way to an awful lot of temptation."

"Alright," Cat said evenly, "I promise. I'll keep it to myself. I've got an idea that I know. I do keep up on the wanted posters. But you tell me."

The Kid took a deep breath and came out with it, "I'm Kid Curry and this is Hannibal Heyes." She gasped at the famous names as her blue eyes looked in the blue eyes of the fastest gun in the West. But she wasn't really that shocked. She had been pretty sure that she had figured it out herself and she had been right.

"It was a good thing that no one in the saloon knew for sure who you were! With that amount of money at stake . . . Nice to meet you Mr. Curry, Mr. Heyes." She said in mock solemnity. "I thought it must be you – who else would be chased that hard and not have murdered anyone? Now we are in this together. What do you want me to call you?"

"I know you'll stick with Thaddeus and Joshua any time anybody else could hear," said the Kid. "But when it's safe you can call me Kid if you like. But - I really would rather you called me Jed – my real name is Jedediah. And my partner here prefers just plain Heyes."

"We've been straight about two years. There's a sheriff up in Porterville, Wyoming – Lom Trevors – who's trying to get the Governor of Wyoming to grant us an amnesty. But the governor's being real cagey. He's watching the political angles. He won't come out and give it to us. So we're still just as wanted as we ever were."

"How on earth do you guys get by with $20,000 on your heads?" Cat wanted to know.

"Well," said the Kid. "That's a lot of long stories. It ain't easy! We've had to leave behind a lot of good jobs and good people. Sometimes we've got close to starving – even with silver-tongued Heyes and his plans."

Heyes winced visibly at that unfortunate phrase. The Kid felt awful – he had slipped and brutally reminded Heyes of how far short he now fell of his brilliant reputation. "Oh Christ, I'm sorry, Heyes!" Heyes shook his head and waved the Kid's apologies away with one hand, but the pained look in his eyes belied the casual gesture. The Kid went on, a bit shakily, "Sometimes we've got close to splitting up. But here we are. Still watching each other's backs."

Cat leaned over and gave the Kid an encouraging kiss and called him "Jed" for the first time.

When the boys went out into the saloon again, everyone at Christy's was sneaking glimpses at the men the posse had been chasing. They wondered as much as Cat had who they really were. But they trusted Cat and no one asked any direct questions. Cat knew her people – they would go to her, not to Thaddeus and Joshua.

The Kid caught even Cat giving Heyes long looks that night at dinner. She felt for the silent Heyes even more than she had for Joshua. She now appreciated that he had gone from leading the most famous gang in the west to running from the law to being unable even to talk or look after himself. How he stayed sane, she didn't know. Maybe he didn't. Since he couldn't talk, it was hard to know.

It was a strange feeling for the Kid and Heyes to have someone who hadn't known them for long, yet whom they actually trusted enough to know who they were. They knew – or certainly hoped - that Cat wouldn't turn them in, but it was hard to trust anyone that much. They kept kind of looking over their shoulders a bit, sometimes physically as well as mentally.

And they were extra special sure to be very, very nice to the bar tender, the piano player, and the saloon girls. And Bruce!
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Not Again! Empty
PostSubject: Re: Not Again!   Not Again! EmptyWed Jan 22, 2014 8:57 pm

So they let the 'Cat' out of the bag!  Figured they would as she's just to smart a lady not to figure it out on her own, especially after the arrival of that posse.

Glad to see that Heyes is slowly getting better.  He'll have his silver tongue up and running again in no time and the Kid will be back to wishing he would just 'shut-up'!
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