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 Encounters Chapter two

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Keays

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Posts : 1431
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 60
Location : Camano Island Washington

PostSubject: Encounters Chapter two   Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:14 pm

Encounters


 “I don't understand why we have to ride all the way to Montana,”  Joe mumbled again for the umpteenth time.  “It's going to take us all summer just to get there.”

 Heyes sighed with theatrical frustration.  “Like I told ya' before; I wanted to bring Karma with us in case somebody along the way recognizes her.  She does tend to stay in one's memory you know.”

 “Yes I know, but....”

 “Just trust me, alright,”  Heyes threw back at the young deputy.  “We know what we're going.”

 “I'm not saying you don't know what you're doing Heyes,”  Joe assured him.  “I'm just saying that it seems to me that.....”

 Joe's continued argument was cut short by the loud explosion of Kid Curry's colt 45.  Joe nearly jumped out of his skin and the young black mare he was riding went right along with him.

 “Jezzus!”  Joe complained as he pulled his horse back under control.  “What are ya' doing!?:

 Jed didn't answer him but booted Gov into a gallop and swept past the other two riders.  Joe followed him with his eyes and then locked gazes with Heyes.  Heyes just smiled sweetly and pushed Karma into a trot to follow along in the Kid's wake.
 A moment later Jed came walking out of the bushes with a triumphant smile on his face while he held up a large hare.

 “Supper!”  he announced.

 Heyes just snorted.  “For me,” he pointed out.  “What are you gonna eat?”

 “Right Heyes,”  Jed responded as he pulled a leather thong from his saddle bag and wrapping the strap around the hare's hind legs, hung the carcass from his saddle horn.  “If you're sayin' there's only enough here for one than I'm the one, since I shot it.  You and Joe can eat biscuits and jerky.”

 “No,”  Heyes continued to insist while Jed re-mounted.  “I'm the leader.  Jesse hired me and I hired you so that means I get first dibs.”

 “None of you would be doing this job if I wasn't along with you so that kind of makes me top dog,”  Joe pointed out.  “I'm the legal representative here, so I get pickings.”

 Heyes and Curry both looked at Joe for a moment, then without saying a word went back to their own argument.

 “Jesse didn't just hire you Heyes,”  Kid reminded him.  “he hired both of us.  Plus we're equal partners so you ain't the boss over me.  I shot the rabbit, so I eat it.”

 The two partners continued on their way with the culinary debate still going on between them.  Joe followed along behind feeling like the third man out.  He was resenting every minute of this.  Why had Sheriff Jacobs insist he come along?  Obviously these two men did not want him here and they were doing everything they could to let him know he was simply a thorn in their sides.

 Another shot rang out and Joe's mare, Black Betty, did another little song and dance while Joe, who was not as startled this time, tried to soothe her nerves.

 Jed jumped down from the saddle and trotted into the underbrush on his own this time, leaving his gelding to stand patiently by his companion.  Curry rummaged around in the bushes for a moment and then stood up with another triumphant grin.  He came out of the brush and back to his horse, holding up another much smaller rabbit.

 “There ya' go Heyes,”  Kid told him as he treated this rabbit the same way he had the first.  “you can have this one.”

 “What do ya' mean, I can have that one?”  Heyes snarked.  “It's half the size of the first!”

 “Yeah, but as we all know you only eat half as much as a normal person,”  Jed pointed out.  “so I get the first one and you can have this one.”

 Kid mounted up again and they carried on.

 “Seems to me there's enough there for all three of us,”  Joe observed.  “especially along with some biscuits and those apples we found.”

 Silence from the two men up in front.  Heyes nudged his mare into a trot, picking up the pace for a while.  Joe sighed and tried not to let his frustration show through.

 The next half hour went by in relative silence as the two partners kept up a steady pace while scanning the landscape for a suitable camp site.  Joe continued to nurse a slow burn and wondered what the evening around the campfire was going to bring.  Were they going to continue giving him the cold shoulder?  What did they think that was going to accomplish?  It wasn't as if Joe was going to get into a pout and turn around to go home.  But still, they were making things very uncomfortable for him, as though all of this was his fault and he just hoped the silent treatment wasn't going to last the whole trip.

 A movement caught the corner of his eye and almost on instinct, though not quite as fast as the Kid, Joe pulled his six-shooter and pulled the trigger.  The two horses ahead of him started and jumped forward, causing both riders to momentarily lose their balance.  They pulled their respective animals around and threw accusing stares back at the deputy.

 Joe smiled as he jumped to the ground and trotted over to the shrubbery.  He parted the leafy branches and reaching down grabbed hold of a handful of soft tawny fur.  Triumphantly, he held up the large hare and grinned at the other two men.

 “Looks like I'm eatin' better than either of ya',”  Joe crowed.  “This one's bigger than those other two put together.”

 The two men sent looks to one another as Joe returned to his mare and tied the rabbits hind feet to his saddle strings.  He was still grinning as he mounted up and pushed Betty into a trot.  He nudged his mare in between the two other horses and trotted on ahead of the partners, feeling quite pleased with himself.

 Heyes and Kid watched him go through and then looked at each other.

 “Hmm,”  was Heyes' first comment.  “I didn't know he could shoot like that.  Did you know he could shoot like that?”
 “Nope,”  Kid conceded.  “I had no idea he could shoot like that.”

 “Yeah,”  Heyes creased his brow as they followed after the deputy.  “we may have to watch our step around him.”

 “Hmm huh.”

 Later that afternoon, a decent camping spot had been found and everyone set about doing their part in getting everything organized for the evening meal.  Heyes got the wood and kindling gathered and set about building a fire.  Then got busy mixing up the biscuit batter and slicing the apples.  Joe un-tacked the horses and made sure they had access to grass and water as well as a small serving of grain for everyone.  That done he set about spreading out the various bedrolls and organizing the sleeping arrangements for everyone in the party.  Jed was busy skinning and dressing the three rabbits.

 Early evening, the first rabbit that Kid had shot was on a spit and was cooking along quite nicely.  Heyes was cutting up the other two rabbits in preparation of frying them while Curry had disappeared into the woods somewhere.  Joe sat back against his saddle and watched as the parolee busied himself getting dinner ready.

 For some reason it just struck Joe as odd that this man whom he had at one time found very intimidating was now sitting in front of him, cooking dinner as though it was the most natural thing in the world for him to be doing.  He had it down pat, automatically turning the roasting rabbit at timed intervals while alternating between frying up the other rabbits and pouring dollops of  batter into the greasy skillet to pan fry them as well.  Joe smiled and chuckled a little to himself.  Heyes glanced back as he took a bite of apple.

 “You want an apple?”  he asked the deputy.  “Dinner's gonna be a while yet.”

 “Oh,”  Joe was caught by surprise.  “yeah, okay.  Where'd Curry go?”

 “Finding the rest of dinner,”  Heyes informed him as he handed him some apple slices.

 “The rest of it?”  Joe was surprised.  “Looks to me like we  have enough already.  I mean if we're each going to be eating a whole rabbit apiece, plus....”

 “A whole rabbit apiece?”  Heyes was incredulous.  “Really Joe!  Just how much food do you need?  Just one of these coonies is enough to feed the three of us tonight.”  he shook his head with a reprimanding air.  “You really need to cut back on how much you eat or you'll be going to fat before you know it.  Oh here comes the Kid.”

 Joe was still staring at Heyes, open mouthed and indignant when Jed Curry came back into the camp site carrying a large gathering of wild onions.  He grinned as he dumped the offerings onto the grass beside Heyes and sat down with a satisfied 'humph'.

 “There ya' go Heyes,”  he smiled.  “your favourites.”

 “Yeah!”  Heyes grinned as he brushed the dirt off the onions and then sliced them up to fry in the rabbit grease.  “I haven't had these in years.  You always were good at finding them.”

 Jed shrugged.  “Just gotta know where to look.  The rabbit ready?”

 Heyes shrugged.  “I donno.  Test it.”

 Kid came forward with a sigh and taking out his knife he cut into the meat on the spit.  “No blood.  Looks good Heyes.  Let's eat.”

 “Yeah, yeah,”  Heyes grumbled.  “just wait a minute.  The onions aren't done yet.”

 “They'll be ready by the time I get the rabbit cut up,”  Kid pointed out.  “and the biscuits are done ain't they?”

 “Yeah.”

 “Okay.”  That was good enough for Jed and he reached for the three plates, and taking the spit off the fire began to split up the rabbit.

 “Gheesh,”  Heyes complained again.  “you're as bad as Joe.  He seemed to have the idea that we were going to be eating all three rabbits tonight.”

 “Really?”  Jed was incredulous.  “I don't think even I could eat one of these coonies all on my own.  Especially with all the fixin's we got as well.”

 “Oh c'mon!”  Joe finally spoke up.  “that's what you fellas said!”

 Heyes and Jed smiled at each other while Jed held up a plate full of roasted rabbit and Heyes plunked a biscuit onto it, followed by a serving of wild onions.

 “You gotta stop believing everything you hear, deputy,”  Jed suggested as he handed the plate over to the young man.  “I think you'll find this is plenty.”

 Joe accepted the offering but found himself with nothing to say.


 Heyes was slowly coming into consciousness and all he was aware of at first was just how uncomfortable he was.  The prison cots always were hard and lumpy but on this particular morning he was really feeling the aches and pains.  What was with that?  He tried to think back to the previous day and narrow down to what he had done to himself to cause such discomfort—or had Carson beat him up again?

 Coffee.  There was coffee brewing.  That's odd.  He shouldn't be able to smell that all the way up from the kitchen.  He sniffed.  Cool air touched his nostrils and a soft breeze ruffled the bangs of hair across his forehead.  Hair?  On his forehead?

 He pushed himself further into consciousness and stretched.  Ouch!  Damn he was sore.  He opened his eyes and he knew that what he had been thinking was simply a semi-dream.  He sighed with relief and contentment, then sat up in the chilly morning air, all prepared for a good cup of coffee.  His breath caught with pain and he gasped, suddenly frozen in space, momentarily unable to move.

 Joe glanced over at him.  “About time you're up,”  he admonished the great outlaw leader.  “You're getting soft Heyes.  Too many late nights playing poker.”

 Heyes finally got his breath back and sat up the rest of the way.  “Oh my goodness!”  he groaned.  “Why am I so sore?”

 “Not used to sleeping on the ground anymore, are ya'?”  Joe asked him as he offered Heyes a cup of coffee.

 Heyes reached for the cup and froze again.  Joe smiled and standing up from his fire where left-over rabbit and biscuits were warming, he took the extra step over to the semi-prone man and gave him the cup.  Heyes accepted it, looking a little sheepish as he attempted to work out the knots in his back.

 “About time you're awake Heyes,”  came Jed's voice from the camp parameter.  “How ya' feelin'?”

 The only response he got was another groan.  Kid smiled as he sat down by the fire and poured himself a coffee.

 “Yeah, I know,”  he agreed.  “My right shoulder seized up over night like you wouldn't believe.  I suppose we should be taking David's advice a little more to heart.”  

 “Don't talk to me about David right now,”  Heyes griped as he dragged himself to his feet.  “I'll be back in a minute.”

 “Uh huh.  Take your time.”

 Heyes stumbled off to tend to morning business while Joe smiled to himself and started dishing out breakfast.

 By the time breakfast was done and the horses fed, the spring sun was beginning to warm up the air nicely and everybody was in better spirits.  Karma was pawing the ground, eager to be off.  She was enjoying this new adventure and having to hang around and wait for everyone else to get ready was very trying on her patience.

 Heyes smiled and gave her a pat on the neck as he threw his bags and bedroll up behind the saddle and tied them down.  The other two men were doing the same and very soon the camp was broken and the group was once again underway.

 As usual Heyes was out in front, setting the pace while Kid brought up the rear in order to keep an eye on things.  Everything was pretty quiet and neither one of them expected any trouble, at least not while they were still in Colorado.  Once they crossed over the border into Wyoming it might be a different story.  Some people had long memories.

 The first three days of travel time did indeed go by uneventfully.  The weather stayed agreeable and the horses were in fine spirits.  Heyes and Jed learned their lesson that first night and took more time at the next camp to make themselves a softer 'mattress' to sleep on than just the hard ground.  Both of them tended to have old injuries stiffen up on them over night but it wasn't quite the same shock as the first time and they figured out ways to lessen the impact.  Whether they liked it or not, the suggestions that David had given to them about how to keep themselves from binding up always seemed to work the best.  Heyes couldn't help but wonder how Tricia stood it; being married to someone who was always right.

 On the morning of the third day, Joe quietly sat his horse and listened to the debate between his two travelling companions.  It was the same debate that had started up the evening before as they finished up the last of the rabbit stew and now was continuing on as they prepared to cross over into Wyoming.

 “I still don't feel comfortable going in to Cheyenne,”  Jed was saying.  “It's one thing to be visiting the governor with Lom or Steven along with me, but I didn't make myself too welcome last time I was in the saloon.”

 “There's more than one saloon in Cheyenne,”  Heyes pointed out.  “we'll just stay away from the one where they know ya'.  Besides, ya' know the business that needs to be taken care of has to be done in Cheyenne.”

 “You coulda' set it up just as easily in Laramie,”  Kid persisted.  

 Heyes frowned.  “And you know that Laramie is not my favourite town,”  he countered.  “If we're going there to visit Kenny or the orphanage, then fine but otherwise I don't want to go there.”

 “And I don't want to go to Cheyenne!”

 “Well I'm not going to Laramie!”

 Joe finally reached his limit.  “Why don't ya' toss a coin?”  he asked innocently.

 Both men stopped arguing and stared at him.  Joe looked from one to the other and shrugged.  

 “Well?”  he asked.

 “Cause like I said, 'I have business to attend to in Cheyenne,”  Heyes reminded him.  “so that's where we're going.”

 “Why don't you go on to Cheyenne and I'll meet ya' in Laramie?”  Kid suggested.

 “Split up?”  Heyes asked, almost mockingly.  “C'mon Kid, you know that never goes well.”

 “Well going to Cheyenne won't....”

 “Again, I suggest,”  Joe cut in.  “that you flip a coin.”

 Heyes and Jed both stared at Joe again.

 “Fine,”  Heyes agreed as he began digging into his vest pocket.  “we'll flip on it.  Tails we go to Laramie, heads we go to Cheyenne.”

 “Oh no Heyes,”  Jed stopped him.  “Joe's coin, and he flips it.”

 “Fine!”  Heyes snarked and waved Joe to proceed.  “Joe can flip it.”

 Joe smiled and digging into his own shirt pocket, pulled out an innocent looking coin.

 Four hours later the three men trotted their horses down one of the busier streets of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Heyes was looking pleased, Jed was looking nervous and Joe was wondering when this competitiveness was going to end. How in the world these two men had stayed partners for so many years was beyond the deputy's understanding.

 At least Heyes was being considerate enough of Jed's situation to lead the party to a section of town where neither of them were as likely to be recognized.  Heyes was banking on the fact that it had been over six years since their very public trials and that hopefully few if any of the locals would still remember what they looked like.  Unfortunately the side-long glances that were occasionally sent their way belied that assumption and Heyes silently regretted not taking the Kid's advice and go to Laramie instead.

 Too late now though; everything was already set so they would just have to make the best of it.  They all turned their horses in at a particular hitching rail and just sat there for a few moments, giving Heyes a chance to get his nerve up.

 “You want me to come in with you?”  Joe asked him.

 Heyes took a deep sigh.  “No, that's alright Joe,”  he assured him.  “You'd think I'd be used to this by now.  Oh well.”  He took another deep sigh and dismounting he handed Karma's reins up to the Kid.  “I shouldn't be too long.”

 “Yup.”

 Heyes stepped into the oh so familiar office and felt a fluttering of nerves go through his chest.  'This is silly.'  he reprimanded himself.  'You have nothing to be worried about.'   The next instant the man behind the desk glanced up and confirmed Heyes' own thinking.  He stood up and smiled, extending a hand in greeting.

 “Heyes,”  he said.  “you made it.  You're looking good.  Married life seems to agree with you.”

 Heyes smiled, relief shining through his dimples.  “Sheriff Turner,”  he returned the greeting and the hand shake.  “good to see you again.”

 “Uh huh,”  Turner sounded dubious as he pulled open his desk drawer and brought out the ledger.  “I received the telegram from Sheriff Jacobs letting me know you were on your way, so you know the routine.  Just sign here and don't forget to drop back in before you leave in the morning.”

 “Yes I know,”  Heyes sighed.  “I won't forget.”  He took the offered pen, signed his name and the time and then straightened up to leave.

 “Ah, Jed Curry with you?”  Turner asked, trying to be discreet.

 “Yes, Sheriff.  He is.”

 “I don't want any trouble,”  Turner pointed out.  “Just make sure you stay away from the south end of town, alright?”

 Heyes nodded.  “I know Sheriff,”  he assured the lawman.  “We don't want any trouble either.”

 “Fine.”

 Heyes returned to the men waiting for him on the street.  He took Karma's reins back and mounted up.

 “Everything go alright?”  Jed asked him.

 “Yeah, no problem,”  Heyes told him.  “But he did advise that we stay out of the south end of town.”

 Kid snorted as they turned their horses out onto the street.  “Yeah, like I don't already know that.”

 “Why?”  Joe asked.  “What's at the south end of town?”

 Neither partner conceded to answer.  Joe sighed.

 They got their horses stabled at the livery and made their way over to the closest hotel in order to get a room for the night.  All three men were aware that they smelled like a campfire and could probably do with a bath, but first things first.

 Heyes stepped up to the counter and smiled his winning smile at the clerk.

 “Howdy,” he greeted the man behind the register.  “we have a room with two beds and a cot reserved for tonight.  And a bath.”

 The clerk cocked an eyebrow at the three trail-dirty men.  Two of them looked familiar.  Scepticism dripped as he checked his register.

 “The name?”  he asked dubiously.

 “Morin,”  Heyes informed him.  “Deputy Joe Morin.”

 The clerks brows went up in surprise.  “Oh!  Yes, of course Mr. Morin.  If you could just sign here...”  He got another surprise as he rotated the registry book around and handed Heyes the pen.

 Heyes had quickly stepped back out of the way and Jed pushed a rather startled Joe front and center.  The clerk and the deputy locked wide eyes.

 “What?”  Joe finally stammered.  “You mean....?”

 “Just sign the book Joe,”  Heyes told him.  “all's good.”

 “Oh, yeah....”  Joe took the offered pen and scribbled his name on the allotted space.  “Okay.”

 The clerk got over his surprise quickly and smiled.  “That's fine gentlemen.  Would you like the bath sent up right away?”

 “Thank you,”  Heyes agreed.  “C'mon Joe.  Shut your mouth and lets go get cleaned up.”

 “But how did you....?”

 “Don't worry about it Joe,”  Kid clapped the younger man on the shoulder.  “just play along.  It'll make things a whole lot easier.”

 Half an hour later Heyes had won the coin toss for first dibs on the bath.  While he soaked and scrubbed the last few days of trail dust off his body, Jed busied himself with shaking and beating the same dust out of his partner's clothes.  By the time Heyes was out and dried off, at least one set of clothing was looking partially respectable and he quickly donned them in anticipation of his next errand.

 “Okay gentlemen,”  Heyes commented as he prepared to leave.  “Don't fight over the tub.  Joe has a pretty good coin there Kid, perhaps you should use one of your own this time.  Shall we meet over at our favourite cafe in a couple of hours?”

 “Sounds good Heyes,”  Jed agreed as he dug into his pants pocket for a coin.  “Good luck.”

 Heyes' smile turned to a doubtful frown.  “Yeah.”


 Heyes stood across the street from the large and imposing bank.  Again with the butterflies in his stomach.  Really, was life as an honest man that much different from life as an outlaw?  Used to be a bank like this would get Hannibal Heyes excited and charging headlong into the challenge.  Now it just made him nervous.

 Another deep sigh.  How many more times was he going to have to do that just to get himself over the next obstacle?  He stepped down off the plank way and headed across the street to the bank.  He opened the door, then stepped back and tipped his hat as two women came out.  They ignored him and carried on their way and Heyes frowned slightly at what he took to be a minor insult.  He wasn't used to having ladies ignore him no matter what their ages.  He must be getting old.

 He stopped just inside the doorway and surveyed his environment.  This was not at all like the little bank back in Brookswood.  This was a very impressive establishment with polished wooden floors and a high ceiling.  Paintings and photographs lined the walls while employees in fine suits did their jobs in hushed tones practically dripping with opulence.

 Heyes smiled.  Memory was coming back to him.  He and the gang had hit this place way back in the day and he remembered the layout of it now.  It had been a challenge but it had been well worth it as it had given the gang one of their better paydays.  He glanced over to the back door behind the counters, knowing that the vault probably still occupied that room.  His smile broadened.  He would give anything to be able to re-live that adventure.  'Well,'  he thought ruefully, 'almost anything.'

 Another deep sign and he looked over to the receptionist who was seated patiently behind his desk half way between the entrance and the tellers.  The man had one of those jobs where he must always look pleasant and always look busy even if neither were the case.

 Heyes approached him.  “Excuse me.”

 The man looked up from his pretend paperwork and smiled.  'Thank goodness—finally something to do!'  “Yes, may I help you.”

 “Yes,”  Heyes assured him.  “I need to see the manager concerning a transfer of funds.”

 “Coming or going?”

 “Coming.”

 “You don't need to see the manager for that,”  the receptionist insisted.  “one of our tellers will be happy to assist you.”

 “No,”  Heyes insisted.  “this is of an unusual nature.  I think it best I see the manager.”

 “Oh,” an eyebrow went up and a snooty expression threatened to take over the face.  “Fine.  If you would just take a seat over there, I will let him know you are here.  What name shall I give him?”

 “Hannibal Heyes.”

 Instantly the blood drained from the gentleman's face.  “Oh, ahh....Mr. Heyes....ah...”  the stammering was somewhat irritating but not unexpected.  “a transfer of funds....unusual nature.  Mr. Heyes are you sure....?   You'll go back to prison for this....you really shouldn't.....”

 Suddenly Heyes was feeling quite alarmed himself.  “Oh, no no no.”  he assured the flustered man.  “No, no, this isn't a robbery.  It's quite legit.  Sheriff Turner knows I'm here and your manager is expecting me....”  he laid a reassuring hand on the man's shoulder and took a quick glance around at the various patrons looking their way.  “Just let the manager know I'm here, alright?”

 “Oh yes.  Umm, yes, yes of course,”  the receptionist tried valiantly to get his act together.  “If..if you would just have a seat.  Yes.  I'll let him know you're here.  Yes.  I'll be right back.  Just have a seat....”

 Heyes smiled and nodded trying to subliminally send the man on his way.  Finally he did get the message and was able to convince his legs to take him to the manager's office.  Heyes went over to the chairs and sat down, sending his dimpled smile over to the various people still looking his way.  Most of them would not meet his eye and quickly returned to their own business once they felt his gaze upon them.  One young lady however, sent him a cheeky smile and Heyes grinned back.  Maybe he wasn't getting so old after all.

 “Mr. Heyes?”

 Heyes snapped back to the present.  “Yes.”

 “Mr. Beauregard will see you now,”  the receptionist informed him nervously.  “If you would be so kind as to follow me---sir.”

 Heyes smiled and stood up to follow the jittery banker.  'Beauregard—wonder if he's any relation...'

 “Mr.  Beauregard, sir!”  Heyes greeted him as they shook hands.  “A pleasure to meet you.”

 “Yes, of course Mr. Heyes.”  came the stoic response.  “Please, have a seat.  Thank you Howard.”

 “Yessir.”

 Both men waited quietly while Howard left the office and closed the door.  Heyes took that moment to scrutinize the banker and found to his disappointment that he resembled just about every other banker Heyes had ever come in contact with.  Fat, bald and wallowing in too much power to give a damn about the little people.

 Mr. Beauregard glanced over at the ex-outlaw and concluded that Hannibal Heyes was far too full of himself.  Apparently prison had not succeeded in knocking the stuffing out of him after all.

 Both men smiled across the desk and one another.


 “No worries, Mr. Heyes,”  Beauregard assured him.  “we received the money from Mr. Jordan the day before yesterday.  It's been here in our care, waiting for you.”

 Heyes simply nodded. Was that statement suppose to put him at his ease?  Of course, just because Heyes had been successful at robbing it doesn't mean than any two-bit outlaw in the state could do it, so perhaps he should take it as a compliment.

 “Were you wanting the full amount right now?”  Beauregard continued.

 “Oh, good heavens.  No.”  Heyes exclaimed.  “That's far too large an amount to be carrying around on my person.  Especially where we're going.  Far too many thieves and crooks out there for it to be safe to be doing that.”

 “Yes,”  Beauregard agreed dryly.  “far too many by half.”  He smiled again to lighten the mood.  “How would you like it then?  Half now and half later?”

 “No, no.”  Heyes corrected him.  “I would like the money spaced out.  I will take $200.00 in cash today and the rest sent forward to Sheridan.  I understand that you have holdings in the major bank in that city as well.”

 Beauregard puffed himself up.  “I certainly do,”  he confirmed.  “and a few others in Montana as well.”

 “Yes,”  Heyes grinned.  “I was counting on that.”

 “Good, good,”  the banker beamed, then frowned, suddenly thinking that there might have been an insult in there somewhere.  After a moments inner thinking, he couldn't come up with anything so smiled again and the two men shook hands.  “Just go the teller at the first booth outside my office and I will make sure he has your cash for you. The rest as you request, will be sent on ahead.”

 “Thank you Mr. Beauregard,”  Heyes said as he made his way towards the office door.  “it's been a pleasure doing business with you again.”

 “Again?”

 Heyes grinned impishly back at him.  “Yes.  Good day sir.”

 “Oh yes.  Ah....good day....”


 “Where are we going?”  Joe asked suspiciously.  “I thought the cafe was back that way.”

 “Yeah it is.”  Kid assured him.  “but we have one more errand to run before we meet Heyes for dinner.”

 The two men stepped across the train tracks and up onto the platform.  Kid seemed to know exactly where they were going and led the way unerringly across the empty planks and into the depot station office and waiting area. He went up to the cashier's window and waited patiently for the man behind the window to look up from his scheduling.
 Patience be damned.  Kid coughed.  The clerk looked up.

 “Oh!  I'm sorry gentlemen.  I didn't see you there.”

 “Yeah, obviously.”  Kid mumbled.

 “I'm afraid you've missed the train for today,” the clerk informed them.  “but there will be another one along in the morning.”

 “Yeah, I know,”  Jed concurred.  “we have reservations.”

 The clerks eyebrows went up.  “You do?”

 “We do?”  asked Joe.

 “Yeah,”  Jed assured both.  “Reservations for three men and three horses.  Northbound.  8:00 a.m.”

 “The name?”  asked the clerk.

 “Joe Morin,”  Kid answered.  Joe groaned.

 The clerk scanned down his reservation sheet for the following day and stopped a third of the way down.  “Oh yes,”  he commented rather incredulously.  “here they are.  All paid for in advance.”

 “Really,”  Joe commented dryly. “Isn't that interesting.”

 “Well here you are gentlemen....three tickets.”  the clerk handed them over to the deputy.  “Have a good trip.  If you have horses to load I suggest you be here an hour ahead of time.  Good day.”

 Jed and Joe headed back across the tracks towards their side of town.  Jed was hungry and looking forward to a real sit down supper after a number of nights in a row of eating rabbit.  Joe was fuming.

 “What the hell's the matter with your partner, anyways?”  the deputy snarked.  “We were getting along fine before this job came up, now he's treating me like I'm a idiot.”

 “What do ya' mean Joe?”

 “Come on!”  Joe was mad.  “I was sayin' all along we should be taking the train and Heyes slapped me down for it. Obviously both of ya' knew this is what we would be doing or ya' wouldn't have had any of these reservations all lined up.  Why can't you just let me in on what's happening?  Do you really think I'm so totally useless that I can't be trusted to know the plans?”

 “Oh no, that's not it at all deputy,”  Jed assured him.  “Heyes is just needling ya'.  He wouldn't do it if he didn't like ya'.”

 Joe snorted.  He was far from convinced.  “You're not helping,”  he continued to gripe.  “You know he's playing games with me and you're just going right along with it.”

 “Yeah I know, sorry about that,”  Kid agreed.  “but to be quite honest it's kinda fun watching him do it to somebody else for a change.  Kinda gives me a break, ya' know what I mean?”

 “Ya' mean he does this stuff to you?”  Joe was incredulous.

 Jed smiled.  “All the time.”

 Joe sighed and shook his head.  “How do you put up with him?”

 Jed's grin broadened as he carried on down the street towards supper.


Last edited by Keays on Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Keays

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Location : Camano Island Washington

PostSubject: Encounters Chapter two   Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:18 pm

Jed led the way down the street and into the next block looking like he knew exactly where he was going,  Joe followed along still feeling a little punchy over being played for a fool not once but twice.  It was getting old real fast. Suddenly Jed disappeared to the right and Joe had to think fast to make the turn rather than simply walk on by the establishment.  Then he nearly bumped into Jed's back since the older man had stopped in his tracks to survey the tidy eatery laid out before them.  He quickly found the table he wanted and led the way over to it.

 The two men sat down, Jed making sure he was facing the door and having an unobstructed view out both the large front and side windows.

 A young, rather heavy set woman came over to the table to serve them.  “What can I get you gentlemen?”

 “Just coffee for now,”  Jed told her.  “we're waitin' on a friend.”

 “Oh.  Okay.”

 She turned to leave.

 “Ah, miss...?”  Jed stopped her.

 “Yeah?”

 “Where's Betsy?”

 “Betsy?”  the waitress repeated.  Then the light dawned.  “Oh you mean Mrs. Turner.”

 Jed's eyebrows went up.  “Mrs. Turner?”

 “Yeah, she up and married the sheriff a while back,”  the young woman told them.  She smiled and leaned in conspiratorially.  “It started quite a scandal considering he's so much older than her.  Everyone figured she musta' been in the family way,”  she stood up and shrugged.  “but she weren't, not unless she lost it that is....”

 Jed held up his hands in surrender.  That was too much information as far as he was concerned.

 “Alright, alright!”  he said.  “But does she still own the place?”

 “Yeah, she still owns it, but she don't do waitressin' no more,”  came back the reply.  “that's why she hired me.”

 “Yeah, I can see you're a real attribute.”

 “Huh?”

  “Never mind,”  Jed waved it off.  “just bring us coffee's, Miss....ah...?”

 “Candy,”  she announced with some pride.

 “Candy?”  Jed asked again.

 “Yeah,”  she confirmed.  “Miss Cassandra Westinghouse.  Candy fer short 'cause I'm so sweet.”

 “Oh yeah.  Well of course,”  Jed agreed and smiled 'sweetly' at her.  It was all Joe could do to keep a straight face.

 “I'll go get your coffee's.”  she announced.  “Shall I bring three, one for your friend?”

 “Ah, you best wait until he gets here,”  Jed suggested.  “or it could be cold by that time.”

 “Oh yeah,”  Candy agreed.  “I never thought 'a that.”

 Candy disappeared into the back and Jed and Joe looked at each other and both of them broke up laughing.

 “I sure hope the place hasn't gone downhill,”  Jed commented.  “used to be real good food from what I remember.”

 “It better still be good food, or I'll know the reason why!”  came the comment from Jed's shoulder.

 “Betsy!”  Jed stood up and gave her a hug.  “It's good to see ya'.  This here is my friend, Joe Morin.”

 Joe quickly stood up and extended his hand.  “Howdy ma'am.”

 “Oh now, don't go 'ma'aming' me,”  she gave him a playful slap on the shoulder.  “Just because I'm married now doesn't mean I'm old.  Everyone calls me Betsy, so you go right ahead too.”

 Joe nodded his thanks, smiling a little awkwardly.

 “Candy!”  Betsy called out.  “Where in tarnation is that girl?  All she has to do is pour the coffee.”

 “Yes ma'am, I'm coming,”  Candy announced from the kitchen just as she put in an appearance with three cups of coffee on a tray.  She set the cups down and quickly retreated.

 “I hope you don't mind,”  Betsy said.  “but it's been so long since I've seen either of you I thought I'd join you for my break.”

 “We don't mind at all, ma'am,”  Joe assured her as they all sat down again.

 “So, you got married,”  Jed reiterated.  “and to the sheriff of all people.”

 Betsy smiled.  “Yes.  I know it caused quite a stir as we had kept our romance very quiet.  But he is such a kind man and I've never been happier.”

 “Well now that's good Betsy,”  Jed told her.  “That's good to hear.  He don't mind you still working for a living?”

 “He better not,”  Betsy laughed.  “He knows how much I've put into this place, and besides that, he's thinking he might retire soon so this cafe will bring us in a right tidy little income.”

 “Sounds like you got everything all worked out,”  Jed observed.

 “I sure do hope so,”  she commented, then sent a sly look over to Joe.  The deputy squirmed.  “You sure do keep some fine company here, Mr. Curry.  What's an up-right looking young man like you doing hanging around with an old reprobate like him?”

 “Hey!”  Jed piped up, feeling insulted.  “I ain't that old.  Heyes is older.”

 Betsy looked back at Jed.  Joe relaxed, relieved that the inquisition had been diverted from him.

 “How is Mr. Heyes doing?”  Betsy asked, suddenly all concerned.  “He didn't look too good last time I saw him.”

 “Naw, he's good Betsy,”  Jed assured her.  “He's married now, has a daughter.”

 “Really?”  Betsy was impressed.  “My but he moves fast, don't he?”

 “You're married now too Curry,”  Joe felt inclined to announce.

 “Really?”  Betsy commented again.  “My, my.  Everybody seems to be settling down.  You got any children.”

 Jed grinned with pride.  “We're expectin' our first later this year.”

 “Well that's just wonderful!”  she gave Jed a pat on the arm.  “I'm very pleased for you.  For both of you.  I'm glad things have worked out alright.  It was touch and go there for a while.”

 “Hey, hey Betsy!”  came Heyes' voice from the entrance way.  He was over to the table in a flash and Betsy stood up and gave him a hug.

 Jed felt an instant of irritation.  He should have seen Heyes coming.  Dammit, maybe he was getting old!

 “There you are!”  she stated the obvious.  “My but you do look fine.  Jed here tells me you're a family man now.”

 “That's right,”  Heyes grinned.  “Jed too.”

 “I know!”  she laughed.  “Me too.”

 Heyes' brows went up as he and Betsy sat down at the table.

 “She married Sheriff Turner,”  Kid informed him.

 Heyes expression fell blank.  “You married the sheriff?”

 “Oh now don't say it like that!”  she gave him a playful slap on the chest.  “He's a good man and a good husband.  We're both very happy.”

 Heyes smiled,  “Well that's good Betsy,”  he said.  “I'm happy for you.”

 “Good!”  she said.  “Now, you boys ready to order?”

 “You bet!”

 “Oh yeah!”

 “I'm starving.”

 “Great!”  she said as she stood up again.  “The special tonight is rabbit stew!”


 Next morning the three men were walking around in circles in an effort to keep themselves warm and the horses occupied.

 “Why in the world did he say to be here an hour early if the train wasn't even going to be here yet!?”  Heyes snarked.

 “Yeah, I know Heyes.”  Jed wasn't too happy about it either.  “Hopefully it will be along directly.”

 Then as though on cue they heard the whistle from not too far away and soon enough the train itself was putting in an appearance.  As is the nature of trains, this one chugged and clanged its way up to the platform of the depot, sending out steam and dust and noise just to make sure everybody knew the transportation had arrived.

 Karma stood quietly while the train pulled past them, and Gov gave it some attention as he was still not too comfortable with letting something that big get that close to him.  But on the most part those two behaved themselves rather well.  Black Betty on the other hand did not like the look, the sound or the smell of this things and she reared up and started to dance as the locomotive chugged past her.

 Joe had his hands full getting her calmed down.  Finally he did, but she stood there with her feet planted and a wild look to her eye.  She did not like this one little bit.  Joe scratched her neck and spoke reassurances to her but she insisted on being spooky.

 Finally the train came to a halt with the two freight cars coming up level with the loading dock.  The conductor put in an appearance shortly after things had calmed down and gave a nod to the men with their horses, waiting to get on board.

 “Howdy gents,”  he greeted them.  “I was told we had some horses this trip.  Just hold on to 'em a minute.”

 The conductor slid open the door to the first freight car and pulled out the ramp.  “There ya' go.”  he announced.  “this car is set up for horses.  Just get 'em in there and get 'em settled in the stalls.  We're movin' out in half an hour.  I suggest you be on board by then.”

 The three men watched the trainman walk away to tend to his other passengers.

 “Geesh,”  Heyes commented.  “they were more friendly when we were robbin' them.”

 “Yeah,”  Jed agreed.

 “Well, c'mon let's go,”  Heyes mumbled as he led Karma over to the ramp.

 The big mare took one look at the wooden planks leading up into the dark cave on wheels and trotted up the ramp behind her human without a moments hesitation.  The two men and two horses still outside could hear the hollow thump thump thump of Karma's hooves on the wooden floor of the freight car followed by silence.  Heyes showed up at the door again and frowned at the group still mingling around on the ground.

 “C'mon!”  he repeated.  “Let's go.  It's going to take long enough to get up to Montana without you two doing it on horseback.”

 “Yeah, yeah Heyes,”  Kid responded.  “we're comin'.  You know Gov's not used to travelling like this.”

 Joe simply grumbled as he walked his nervous mare around in circles.

 Kid led his gelding up to the ramp and gave him a moment to check things out.  Gov stopped as soon as his front foot hit the wooden plank.  He blew nervously and put his head down to sniff it.  Smelled like wood.  Still, he wasn't too sure about this; it looked awfully dark inside that cave.  He arched his neck and began to paw at the wood.

 From inside the boxcar, Karma sent out a loud whinny as she wondered what was keeping her buddies.  Gov's head shot up and he responded with a soft, throaty nicker.  Obviously whatever was in this dark cave hadn't eaten Karma and with a deep breath and a heaving of his hind legs, Gov lounged up the wooden ramp, his hooves scrambling on the wood to get a foothold.

 His toes caught on the cross planks and with his hind quarters trembling he made another lounge that brought him up into the boxcar.  He stopped there for a moment and looked around through the gloom, hoping to find his stable mate. Karma nickered softly and the young gelding noticeably relaxed.  He blew his stress out through his nostrils and gave his head a shaking while his eye sight grew accustomed to the lighting.

 Jed put his hat back on his head and got himself organized again after having been hauled unceremoniously up the ramp by his horse.  Heyes stood back in the gloom, grinning.

 “Don't you say a word Heyes,”  Kid cautioned him.  “He's still young, you know that.”

 “Sure, sure,”  Heyes agreed, but Jed could still see the smile on his face.  “C'mon, get him into a stall.  We're running out of time.”

 “Hm hmm.”

 Jed led his horse down to the end of the car and got him settled in next to his friend.  Now that the horse was in and saw that there was nothing unhealthy here, all was well.  Then, even better he discovered some hay waiting for him.  It wasn't the best quality hay, but in a pinch it would do.

 Heyes stood at the opening of the boxcar and stared down at the deputy doing his best to calm his anxious horse. Betty was trotting in circles around her human and looked like she was about to sprout wings and fly away.  She was in a dilemma; she was suddenly finding herself being left behind by her buddies but she was scared to death to step onto that plank and into that dark cave.  There were terrible things in dark caves; things that ate horses.

 Joe patted his mare and tried to sooth her.   “C'mon Betty, you're holding everything up here.  Your friends are both inside and nothin' happened to them.  C'mon.”

 But Betty was having none of it.  Joe would get her up to the planks but as soon as her hooves touched the wood she would rear up and pull back again.  Joe was at his wits end and Heyes was getting exasperated.

 To make matters worse, the engineer chose that moment to sound the whistle, probably as a warning to let late passengers know it was time to get on board.  Unfortunately the effect the loud noise had on the young mare was just the opposite.  All four legs went into a trembling crouch and she pivoted away from the noise and very nearly ran Joe over in the process.

 Heyes sighed and shook his head.  He walked down the ramp to the ground just as Jed showed up at the door to the car to see what the hold up was all about.

 “Here Joe, let me take her,”  Heyes suggested.  “She's kinda flighty ain't she?”

 “No, not normally,”  Joe insisted.  “I just don't think she's ever been on a train before.”  then added with a bit of heat.  “You said we would be riding to Montana!  If I'd known you were plannin' a train ride all along I would have brought another horse!”

 “Oh now Joe, calm down,”  Heyes told him as he took the mare's lead rope.  “No reason to get all upset.  You're scaring your horse.  Besides,”  he continued in a soft soothing voice.  “it'd be silly to ride all the way to Montana on horseback.  It'd take us all summer.”

 Already stressed out Joe looked like he was about to explode.

 “Calm down,”  Heyes repeated quietly, but who exactly he was talking to was unclear.  He stroked the mare's neck and rubbed her ears and scratched her along the crest under her mane until she gradually started to relax just a little bit.  “There, that's better.  C'mon, let's walk around.  C'mon, cluck cluck cluck...”

 Betty's head went up again and her eyes rolled with anxiety but Heyes stroked her forehead until she relaxed and then stepped forward.

 “That's a good girl,”  Heyes encouraged her.  “C'mon.”

 Betty walked around with him until he approached the ramp again and instantly her whole body tensed all over.  Her eyes rolled white and her head went up as she started to pull back.  Heyes didn't try to stop her but went back with her until she stopped.  He stepped towards her and rubbed her forehead again, cooing softly to her.
 Joe stood on the sidelines, his arms folded.  He was feeling exasperated.  How come Heyes could get his mare to respond like that when Joe himself couldn't?  It was almost embarrassing.  Jed stood leaning against the door of the freight car, smiling quietly.  He already knew how this was going to end.

 Heyes took a couple of more minutes to ease the mare's fears, rubbing her ears and whispering endearments.  He waited until she dropped her head and began playing with the lead shank, then he asked her to move forward again and they approached the ramp.  This time Betty hesitated a moment, dropped her nose to sniff the wood and then put one hesitating foot up onto it.  She tensed again for an instant but Heyes' soft words and steady hand on the rope reassured her.  With a final flaring of the nostrils she took another step and quickly walked up the ramp and into the car.  It should be noted that she did this with a lot more grace and dignity than Gov had managed in accomplishing this same task.

 Jed's smile turned into a full grin as Heyes walked the mare back to her own stall.  Joe came up the ramp looking pissed off and disheartened.

 “Don't take it personal Joe,”  Kid advised him.  “Heyes just has a way with horses—always has.”

 “Well, like I said,”  Joe grumbled.  “if I'd a known we were taking the train I would 'a brought a more experienced horse with me.”

 “Naw,”  Jed gave him a slap on the shoulder.  “This'll be good for her.  By the time we get back to Brookswood, she'll be a different horse.  I could tell you stories about Karma....”

 “Okay folks,”  came the conductor's voice from ground level.  “we're about to pull out, if you want to get yourselves settled.”

 “Just in time,”  Heyes announced as he approached the others.  “Let's go get our seats, shall we?”


 Everybody was bored, bored, bored, BORED!  Train travel might be a lot faster than horseback but it sure didn't offer the same kind of stimulation.

 Heyes had picked up a copy of 'Last of the Mohicans' in the hopes that it would help pass the time but listening to Jed and Joe bantering back and forth over nothing was more distracting than a good book was capable of over-coming.  He finally slammed the book shut and sent both of them an irritated scowl.
 Two sets of innocent eyes looked his way.

 “What?”  Kid asked him.

 “Can't you two go talk somewhere else?”  Heyes snarked.

 Jed shrugged.  “There is nowhere else,”  he told his partner.  “Instead of hiding inside a book why don't you join in on the conversation?  Joe's been telling me about some of the trips he used to take with his uncle.”

 Heyes' lips tightened slightly.  Without saying a word he turned to look out the window, pretending to watch the scenery go by.  

 Jed sighed.  “We're going to be going by Porterville tomorrow,”  he commented in the hopes of getting his cousin to engage.  “ya' wanna stop by and visit Lom and Martha?”

 “No,'  was Heyes' snap reply.

 “Well why not?”  Kid was getting exasperated.  “Ever since Lom got married you've been avoiding him.  You got along fine with him at our weddings and such, so what's the matter?”

 “Nothin'.”

 “Are ya' mad at him for somethin' Heyes?  You thinkin' he didn't stay in touch enough, or not do enough while you were in prison?”

 “No!”  Heyes was getting uncomfortable with this.  “Lom did a lot, I know that.  Just drop it will ya'?”

 “I just thought it would be nice to have a visit,”  Jed grumbled.  “We're comin' up on their wedding anniversary.”

 “Maybe on the way back,”  Heyes conceded.  “We don't have time now.”

 “Yeah, but we may not even be going through Porterville on our way back,”  Kid pointed out.  “Who knows where this trail is going to lead us.”

 No comment from the sulky one.  Joe sat quietly, not wanting to get involved with this disagreement between the two older men.  Usually their arguments were laced with humour and obviously just a game they played with each other, but this time it was different.  They weren't playing games and Jed wasn't backing off.  Heyes' irritation was growing.

 “Is it because he got married Heyes?”  Kid pushed.  “Don't ya' like Martha?”

 “Oh for goodness sakes!”  Heyes snapped abruptly, causing the two other men to jump slightly.  “I'm going to go find a place where I can read—quietly!”

 True to his word, he got to his feet and stomped down the isle and exited their particular car and carried on into the next one.

 Jed and Joe sat silently, watching him go.  They both looked slightly confused.

 “What was that all about?”  Joe finally enquired.

 Jed sighed.  “I donno.”  he admitted.  “He doesn't usually act like that unless I get close to something he doesn't want to talk about.  But what could he possibly have against Martha?”

 Joe shrugged.  “Will he be alright?”

 “Oh sure,”  Jed stated.  “he just needs something to do again.  Maybe he'll come across a poker game or something in one of the other cars.  That'll help him relax.”

 “So, is this Devil's Hole country?”  Joe asked, changing the subject.

 Jed stood up and took over Heyes' vacated seat so he and Joe could face each other.  He took a precursory glance out the window.

 “No, not yet,”  he said.  “It's too flat here, nowhere to put a hideout.  We'll be closer to it tomorrow.”

 “Oh.”

 “So...what else did you and your uncle get up to when you were a kid?”


 Heyes pushed his way through the door into the next car and took a moment to look around.  Many of the seats were occupied,  but there were no children running around and there was one lone seat back there that appeared to be unclaimed.  He walked down the isle, swaying slightly with the rocking of the train and settled himself in his little cubbyhole to read his book.

 Unfortunately he was now too distracted and stressed out to focus onto the book again.  He tried reading the same page over and over before he finally snapped the covers shut and sat to fume.  Why did Kid have to go and bring up Lom and Martha?  And, more to the point, why did Heyes get so defensive when he did?

 Martha was alright.  He'd gotten along fine with her at the various nuptials and Lom was obviously happy.  So what was the problem?  Heyes sighed and watched the scenery slide by the window.  Wyoming.  What was it about this landscape that drew him so strongly?  Especially the mountains surrounding Devil's Hole.  Many people found it bleak and desolate but Heyes had loved it.  That area where he and Kid had lived for so many years.  It was home.

 They had already travelled through the bleakest part of the state, that lonely, wind swept prairie that surrounded Laramie.  No wonder they put the prison there.  For one thing it made escape practically impossible as there was just nowhere to hide.  Harris had been extremely lucky to have gotten away and he was the only one out of that whole group who had attempted the escape.  It had just been luck.  Good luck for him, but bad luck for many of the people who came into contact with him before Wheat and Kyle had tracked him down.

 Heyes' lip curled in hate and disgust.  What a bastard.  He deserved the end he got.  It was actually kind of poetic, considering that he had tried to end Heyes in that very same way.  Guess Harris just wasn't quite fast enough—on either count.

 Heyes sighed again.  Why not stop in and visit Lom?  What was the problem?  It was as though his mind did not want to dwell there and he was easily distracted.  Now he pushed his thoughts in that direction and instantly felt uncomfortable.  Quiet sigh followed by a mild groan of irritation at himself now.
 
 Was he mad at Lom for not saving him from prison?  He didn't think so.  The only ones he was really mad at were the numerous governors who preferred to ignore his situation rather than risk their own careers. And then Mitchell and Carson of course. But they'd both got their just desserts in the end.  Carson was dead the Mitchell was serving time down in Arizona.  Heyes smiled.  The only thing sweeter would have been for Mitchell to end up back at his own prison but the powers that be decided that would be too volatile a situation to dump him into.

 Heyes pushed thoughts of those two bastards out of his mind.  It always got him worked up when he  thought about them so why bother?  They were no longer of any consequence.

 'See?'  he reprimanded himself.  Once again he had allowed himself to be distracted away from the issue at hand.  He knew he wasn't mad at Lom.  He felt gratitude towards him and Kid for sticking to it until finally succeeding in attaining his release.  If it hadn't been for their efforts he'd be dead today and he knew it.  How could he be mad at Lom?

 Martha then.  Well what?  He hardly knew her and when he was in her presence she was always kind and a little motherly, like Belle to some degree.  And there she was teaching Kyle how to read!  That was not an endeavour for the weak hearted.  She was a good woman.  Well, she'd have to be for Lom to have married her. He was no fool and wouldn't have given her the time of day if there was anything duplicitous in her nature.  And the fact that she was actually able to live with him further gave proof to her pending sainthood!  

 Another irritated growl.  Perhaps they should stop by for a visit. They would be travelling right through Porterville so why not take a couple of days?  It'd be good for the horses and for himself too, to get off this damn train for a while. They weren't that pressed for time and Kid was right, once they got going on this adventure there's no telling where it could lead them.

 Yeah, Heyes suddenly decided.  Next town he'd get off and send a telegram to let Lom know they were going to stop by.  The sheriff already knew they were coming this way and might even be expecting them anyways.  It would be good to see him again, him and Martha.....


 Getting the horses off the freight car in Porterville did not prove to be a problem.  All three of them, including Karma who should have known better, took one look at the great outdoors and basically leapt wildly from the boxcar to the ground without bothering much with the ramp in between.  The fact that all three men actually kept their feet during this procedure gives credit to their natural balance and dexterity.

 “I think we better take them for some exercise before we drop them at the livery,”  the Kid suggested as Gov danced around in a circle.  “I know the place down by Lom's office has the grass paddocks, but they're gonna need more than that.”

 “Good idea,”  Heyes agreed.  “If we don't burn some of this steam off, Karma'll jump the paddock fence and burn it off herself.”  he grimaced.  “and we all know what kind of trouble that can bring.”

 “Oh yeah.”

 “Don't you think you should let the sheriff know you're in town Heyes?”  Joe casually reminded him.

 Heyes shrugged as he tightened Karma's girth.  “Lom's a friend and he knows we're here,”  he reasoned.  “I don't think it's necessary.”  

 “I think it is,”  Joe persisted.  “Like you say, he knows you're due in on this train and he'll be expecting you.  Best just drop by the office on our way our of town and let him know what you're doing.”

 Heyes remained silent, giving Karma's girth an extra hard pull in his irritation.  Karma laid her ears back, tossing her head and then swinging it around to threaten a bite if he didn't smarten up.  Heyes took a swat at  her, not being in the mood now to accept her antics.  Kid just kept his mouth shut knowing that Heyes was still struggling with the invisible shackles.  He also knew his partner would come to the right decision without any further needling from him.

 “Fine,”  Heyes groused as he swung aboard.  “Let's go see Lom.”

 He booted Karma unnecessarily as she was already fighting at the bit to go, and they took off at a hand gallop towards the sheriff's office.  Jed and Joe exchanged looks and the Kid just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.  Gov reared in irritation at being left behind and they let the horses go to follow in Karma's dust.

 By the time the other two caught up with Heyes, Karma was tied up at the hitching rail looking very pissed off and Heyes was making his way into the office.  Joe and the Kid stepped down and without a word to each other, tied their own horses at the next hitching rail far out of reach of Karma's teeth and hind feet.  Hopefully both she and Heyes would be in better moods after a good gallop.

 Once inside the office, Joe was surprised to find Heyes all smiles and casual in his manner towards the sheriff.  Kid however was not surprised.  Far from it being a change in moods, it was a cover up and the foul temper would be showing itself again once they were done with this errand.  Lom wasn't particularly fooled either.

 “Hey there Kid,”  Lom greeted him.  “How was the train ride?”

 “Good,”  Jed answered as they shook hands.  “Nice to get off for a break though.”

 Lom turned to Joe and shook his hand.  “Deputy Morin,”  he said.  “good to see you again.”

 “Howdy Sheriff,”  Joe acknowledged him.

 “How are these two treating you?”  Lom asked him.

 “Pretty much as expected,”  Joe casually commented.

 Lom raised an eyebrow,  “yeah, I bet.”  he turned back to the ex-con.  “Alright Heyes, you know the drill.  Sign in here then you're free to get your horses out for a run.  I'm sure they need it.”

 Heyes stepped forward to write down his name in the ledger along with the time and date, then straightened up.

 “Good,”  Lom commented.  “I'm glad you came in here before riding out of town,”  he added.  “It tells me that you're not gettin' complacent with the restrictions.  That's a good thing Heyes, lets me know you're serious.”

 “Of course Lom,”  Heyes sent him an innocent grin.  “Wouldn't want to leave you in the lurch.”

 “I'm also glad you decided to take a break from your travels and stay over for a visit,”  Lom added.  “Martha is looking forward to seeing you both again and we have some things that need talking about.  When you're done exercising your horses come on up to our place for supper.  You're all welcome to stay with us while you're in town. It'll be a bit cramped but we'll manage.”

 “Yeah, thanks Lom,”  Kid accepted for the group.  “Lookin' forward to seein' Martha again too.”

 “Yeah,”  Heyes seconded.  “Sounds good.  We'll see ya' this evening.”

 “Fine.”

 Once outside again, Heyes didn't even look at his two companions.  He snapped Karma's rein loose from the hitching rail, mounted up and turned her head towards the outskirts.  Gov and Betty both started to dance and fight their restraints as they found themselves once again being left behind in Karma's dust.

 By this time even Kid was starting to feel some irritation at his cousin's snarky behaviour.  Just because he was pissed off, did he have to turn it onto everyone else?

 “Is he always like this?”  Joe asked as they mounted their own restless animals.  “How do you stand it?”

 Jed sighed.  “No, he's not,”  Kid told him.  “Just leave him alone, he'll come out of it.”

 “But what's the problem?”  Joe persisted.  “He's usually quite amiable.”

 “I'm not excusing his behaviour, ya' understand.”  Jed explained.  “but ya' gotta try and see it from his point of view.”

 “And what's that?”  Joe asked, his resentment at the ex-con's attitude increasing daily.

 “A grown man having to put up with being babysat,”  Jed pointed out.  “Nothin' against you Joe, but he didn't want ya' along.  On top of that you're not backing off of him and then you turn out to be right!  That was probably the biggest insult of all.”

 “I'm just trying to help him stay on the right side of things!”  Joe snapped back, his tone matching his mood.  “It's what Sheriff Jacobs told me to do.  Am I suppose to just ignore that and let Heyes run rough shod over me?”

 “No!” Jed was adamant.  “Do your job.  Like you say, that's why you're here.  You'll never earn Heyes' respect if you back down.  He's being hard on ya' I know, and deliberately.  He's testing ya' Joe, seeing how far he can push.  Just do what you're here to do and he'll back off.”

 Joe snorted.  “Yeah, if I don't kill 'em first.”

 Jed grinned.  “C'mon, let's give these horses a run.  I think we can all benefit from blowing off some steam.”

 True to his word, Jed gave Gov his head and the two young horses snatched the opportunity and power-housed into a full gallop.  Within seconds an impromptu race was in full swing as each youngster vied to be the first to catch up with the fleet-footed Karma Lou.

 Jed was proved to be right when both Heyes and Karma were in better spirits after a ten mile round trip had been put under the horses' girths.  Heading back towards town at a jog-trot to give them a chance to cool down, Heyes was suddenly quite talkative and even friendly in his manner.

 “That's quite a nice mare you got there Joe,”  he commented.  “Where'd ya' get her?”

 “She was part of our string at the ranch,”  the deputy answered after a brief hesitation of surprise.  “Most of the stock got sold with the ranch, but Pa offered me my pick of the young horses.  I wasn't really looking for a mare, but I donno, something about this little filly caught my eye.”

 Heyes smiled as he gave the filly a quick looking over again.  “You have a good eye,”  he was feeling particularly good after the gallop.  “She's fast too, I could see that right away.”

 “Not as fast as Karma.”  Joe acquiesced.

 Heyes' smile grew into pleased dimples.  “Nobody's as fast as Karma.”  then couldn't resist a little niggling.  “Your mare put the run on Gov, that's for sure.”

 “Hey!”  Kid came to his horse's defence.  “Gov was just being a gentleman; ladies first and all that.  He's got plenty of speed when he needs it.”

 “Sure Kid,”  Heyes teased.  “whatever you say.”

 “How old is she?”  Joe asked, not wanting to lose the rapport now that it was finally happening.  “You've had her for quite a while.”

 “Yeah,”  Heyes frowned.  “I don't know how old she was when I got her.  She was young though I could tell that just by her attitude.”  Distant snort from the Kid.  “Probably between two and five was my guess.  So I recon she's somewhere between ten and fifteen now.”

 Joe nodded.  “I know Mr. Jordan got some nice foals from her.  Do you think you might breed her again?”

 Heyes sat quietly for a moment, contemplating that question.

 “Funny you should mention that,”  he finally commented.  “I've been wondering the same thing myself.  Maybe do what Kid did and trade her to Jesse in exchange for one of his younger horses, or maybe for one of her foals, later.”

 “What do ya' mean Heyes?”  Kid asked him, suddenly concerned.  “Why would you wanna give up riding Karma?  Geesh, I've never seen a man love his horse so much—and visa-versa.  It could go down in the history books as the greatest love affair of all time....”

 “Yeah yeah yeah,”  Heyes stopped him before the comments got too suggestive.  “It's just that I know she's not happy living in town.  She got used to the good life out at the Double J and now living in a stall or a paddock just doesn't measure up.  I don't know though,”  he reached forward and gave his mare an affectionate stroke on the neck and pull of the mane.  “it'd be real hard to give her up.”

 “Yeah, I know what you mean,”  Jed agreed, going back in time to when he had to make that decision himself.  “but she's still in good shape, you got time.  Personally I think she'd be miserable without you, well because she was before until she forgot about ya' and Beth filled the gap.  I think if you were to ask her, I bet she'd say she'd rather live in town with ya' than out at the ranch without ya'.  That's just my take on it.”

 Heyes grinned over at his partner.  “Yeah, okay.”  Kid always did seem to know what he wanted to hear.  He didn't always say it, but he always knew.


Last edited by Keays on Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Keays

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PostSubject: Encounters Chapter two   Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:19 pm

Dinner at the Trevors' household went off without a hitch.  Roast chicken with potatoes and onions as well as the apple cobbler for dessert rounded out to be the best meal the travellers had had all week.

 “That was a real fine supper Mrs. Trevors,”  Joe was the first out with the compliments.  “A whole lot better than Heyes' rabbit stew for sure.”

 Heyes smiled as he patted his full tummy.  “I'd take offence, but it's the truth,”  he admitted.  “I think being married has spoiled us to the finer things in life, eh Kid?”

 “You could say that Heyes,”  Kid agreed over a mouthful of his second helping of cobbler.  “Now not only is your coffee unacceptable, but compared to the finer fare we're gettin' at home your rabbit stew also has a lot to be desired.”

 “Oh it's not that bad,”  Heyes took mock offence.

 He was instantly silenced by the other three men at the table verbally disagreeing with him.  Heyes grinned at the teasing; he was definitely in a better mood.

 “Yeah okay,”  he conceded.  “That was fine dinner Martha, thank you.”

 “Thank you,”  Martha accepted the compliments good-heartedly.  “Now, why don't you just take your leave to the sitting room and let me get on with the clearing up. I know you men have things to discuss.”

 “We do?”  Heyes asked, looking confused.

 “Yes Heyes, we do,”  Lom answered pointedly.  “Let's go have a seat and we'll talk about it.”

 Heyes sent Curry a look but Curry just shrugged.  He didn't know either.  Heyes couldn't help the knot of anxiety that started to gather in his already full tummy.

 “Would you like some help, ma'am?”  Joe offered as the men got to their feet.

 “That's very nice of you to offer,”  Martha smiled at him.  “but not tonight.  If you're still of a mind tomorrow, that would be welcomed.”

 Joe smiled.  “Yes ma'am.  I will be.”


 The four men settled into the various seating apparatus'  that were positioned strategically around the sitting room.  Lom handed out glasses of brandy to all and then sat himself down as well.  The three other men waited, almost patiently.

 “Well Lom, what is it?”  Kid finally asked.  “Something up with Heyes' parole?”

 “No, no not that,”  Lom put them all at ease.

 Heyes felt the wave of relief wash over him and then felt irritation.  Not at Lom, but at himself.  Was he never going to get over that fear?  That gnawing threat that lingered in the back of  his mind that his  'freedom' was just a game. That sooner or later one of the governor's was going to decide to rescind it and he would be arrested and hauled back to prison?

 Even though Steven and Kenny had reassured him that unless he gave reason for it, nobody could legally do that, he was still left with that nagging doubt.  What had happened in Joplin had put a real scare into him and it was going to take a while before he got over it.  He sighed and took a healthy gulp from the brandy glass.

 “Okay,” Jed continued after a quick glance at is partner.  “what is it then?  What's up.”

 “Devil's Hole is an active outlaw stronghold again.”

 Heyes' gulp of brandy went down the wrong way and he spluttered.

 “Really?”  Jed asked somewhat incredulously.  “Who's in there now?”

 “What do ya' mean...?”  Heyes croaked, then coughed, trying to get his voice back.

 “Ya' want some water Heyes?”  Lom asked him.

 “No,”  he answered, a little stronger this time.  He swallowed and tried again.  “What do ya' mean it's a stronghold again?  I thought Devil's Hole was burned to the ground.”

 “Well it was,”  Lom conceded.  “We're not quite sure when a new gang got in there but somebody decided it was worth re-building and starting up the business again.”

 “Didn't the law take steps to prevent that?”  Kid asked quite reasonably.

 “Yeah, they did at first,”  Lom admitted a little sheepishly.  “but I suppose they got complacent and then busy with other things and they let it go.  The real down side of it is, if they know the Hole's one weak spot because of Morrison getting in there, you can bet they're not gonna make that mistake again.  They're calling themselves the 'Devil's Hole' gang too, and have already made some raids on the trains going through.”

 “Who's running it?”  Heyes asked out of professional curiosity if nothing else.

 “We're not really sure yet who's in charge,”  Lom admitted.  “though we did get a positive I.D. on their explosive man.  A young fella by the name of 'Ames'.  I think you might know him Heyes.”

 Heyes nodded.  “Yeah, I do,”  he admitted.  “He was an okay kid.  A little twitchy though.  Him and Kyle buddied up, but I suppose that's not surprising.”

 “I know,”  Lom continued.  “and we're going to use that to our advantage.”

 “How so?”  asked the Kid.

 “Once Wheat and Kyle have finished up their current assignment, the governor has requested that they infiltrate the new gang and find out just how much trouble we might be in for.  Kyle already knowing this Ames fella will help them to get access.”

 “Wheat will have to watch himself though,”  Heyes pointed out.  “The leader up there might get to thinking that Wheat's there to challenge for leadership again.  Could get messy.”

 “I'm sure they'll handle it,”  Lom countered.  “Those two have proved that they are quite capable of looking after themselves Heyes.  They don't need you to be doing it for them.”

 “Oh, I know...I just....”  he stopped and looked around at the three gazes coming back at him.  “Fine.  I thought they were suppose to be working for me.”

 “You don't have enough to keep them busy, you know that,”  Lom pointed out.  “Something like this comes up, you better believe the governor is going to use them.  Wheat wasn't given that pardon for free.”

 “Don't I know it,”  Heyes grumbled, then realized that he was being snarky again.  “Yes alright.  It does seem to be a perfect fit for them.  I just hope that checking it out is all they're gonna do and not start trying to set up an arrest or somethin stupid like that.  Wheat tends to get kinda pushy when he's trying to prove himself.”

 “They'll be fine Heyes,'  Lom reiterated.  “I just wanted to let you know what was going on in case you run into them during your own wanderings.  I wouldn't want ya' thinkin' they had blown their new careers and had joined up with a gang again.”

 “Yeah, I can understand that Lom,”  Heyes admitted.  “Good thinking actually.  Are they that close to finishing their current assignment?”

 “Last I heard they were on their way back,”  Lom informed them.  “They didn't have much luck in retrieving the stolen money, or the wayward wife.  But at least the husband now knows for sure that she went with the outlaw willingly and wasn't coerced.  Kind of a bitter pill for him to swallow, but it does make you wonder what that marriage must have been like.”

 “Yeah,”  Kid commented.  “Doesn't put it into a good light if the lady would rather run off with an outlaw than stay home with her husband, does it?”

 “Oh I donno...”  Heyes countered with a cheeky grin.  “depends on how charming the outlaw!”

 Joe snorted and rolled his eyes.


 Sometime during the early hours of the next morning, the Trevors household was abruptly roused from sleep by heavy pounding on the front door.  Both Heyes and Curry made instant grabs for their strategically place hand guns only to stop before the action was completed and stare blearily at each other.
 
 Joe groaned himself awake and all three men sat up in their bedrolls on the living room floor as Lom, in his nightshirt grumbled his way to answer the door.  The thumping came again and the three guests began to pull on trousers and snatch guns in preparation of any event.

 “Yeah, yeah!”  Lom called out as more thumping abused the poor door.  “I'm coming.”  He reached the door, glanced back at the three men now standing a ways back but behind him and ready, then put a hand on the door knob.  “Who is it?”

 “It's Harker, Sheriff!”  came the booming voice from the other side of the door.  “You might say we've had an incident over at the bank.”

 “Oh what now....”  Lom mumbled as he opened the door.

 “Yeah, well...morning Sheriff..”  Harker greeted his boss as he stepped into the house.  He noticed the other three men standing in the hallway.  “Oh!  Well good, you're all up.”

 “Harker!”  Lom got the big man's attention.  “What's happened?”

 “Oh, well...they robbed the bank.”  Harker announced.  “Yessir.  About half an hour ago.  Blew the safe.  I'm surprised you didn't hear it.  But I suppose you are a ways from the bank here, and kind of protected by the other buildings from the noise....”

 “Harker!”  Lom brought the man back to the point.  “Who robbed the bank?”

 “Oh!  Well, I would assume it was the Devil's Hole Gang.  Yup.”  Harker surmised.  “They headed off in that direction anyways....”

 “And you're just standing here jawin' about it?”  Lom gripped as he started to gather his strategically placed clothing together.  “Why ain't ya' getting a posse together?”

 “Well I did,”  Harker defended himself.  “We swung by here on our way after them.  I knew these fellas were here visitin' so I brung all your horses along.  Best hurry or we'll lose their trail.”

 Lom cursed as he and his guests got busy getting dressed right then and there.  Instantly the front room was a flurry of activity as everyone pulled on boots and strapped on gun belts.  Harker suddenly looked suspicious and was beginning to have second thoughts about including these particular gents in on the posse.

 “Kind of a coincidence, don't you think that the very same night them fellas are in town, their old gang hits the bank?”

 “And that's all it is too, deputy,”  Kid threw back at him.  “a coincidence.”

 “Besides, it's not our old gang!”  Heyes pointed out.  “It's just a bunch of two-bit money-grubbing, chicken thieves tryin' to set themselves up on our good name.”

 “Humph,”  Harker wasn't convinced.  “Well they know what they're doing to some degree, cause they blowed that safe clean and proper.”

 Heyes and Curry exchanged glances.  

 “This is gonna be fun,”  Kid stated as he grabbed his jacket.  

 “Yeah, we'll teach them for tryin' to dirty our reputations.”
 
  “Not you Heyes,”  Lom ordered as the other three men got set to follow him out the door.  

 Heyes stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth hanging open in comedic surprise.

 “What do ya' mean, 'not me'?”  he groused.  “I got just as much....”

 “No!”  Lom repeated.  “Curry and Morin are coming, but you stay here.  And don't play all indignant with me!  You know why.”

 The men left the house and with Lom leading the way.  He clumped down the steps to where the four visiting horses were waiting, all tacked up and ready to go.  Heyes followed them out, complaining the whole time.

 “Lom, c'mon!  You can't leave me here.”

 “Yes I can, and I'm gonna.  And don't you dare follow us.”

 “But Lom!  I know all the short cuts to get into Devil's Hole...”

 “So does the Kid,”  Lom pointed out as he mounted his horse.  “and so do I!  Stop arguing about it Heyes.  You're not coming.”

 Heyes stood on the porch looking completely crestfallen.  Kid put a consoling hand on his shoulder.

 “Don't worry about it Heyes,”  he told his cousin.  “I'm sure Joe and I can handle it.  You just keep the home fires burning.”

 “But....”

 “See ya' later Heyes,”  Joe said as he mounted his mare.  “We'll tell ya' all about it when we get back.”

 “Yeah, but....”

 Kid smiled, gave Heyes' shoulder a couple of consoling pats and then followed everyone else, to mount up on Gov.  “See ya' later Heyes.”

 “Let's go!”  Lom commanded as he swung his horse away from the porch.

  The five other riders, including Harker, Curry and Morin swung around with him and the small posse galloped off just as the sun was coming up and bringing light to the quest.

 Karma who was still tied to the hitching rail was not pleased.  Her head shot up as she tried to pull away and join up with the other horses.  Her ears went back and a wild look came to her eyes as she realized that everyone else was heading out on what looked like great fun and she was still tied to the rail!  She danced and sidled trying to join in on the race, then frustrated she stood her ground and with head lowered, began to paw.

 “I know Karma,”  Heyes consoled her.  “Looks like we're being left out of this one.  NO....!”

 Harker could be forgiven for not tying the big mare very securely, after all he had no idea that this particular horse made a habit of untying knots.  Actually, he hadn't even tied a knot but simply wrapped the rein around the rail a couple of times in anticipation of a fast exit and figured that was good enough.  Heyes turned to placate his mare just in time to see her grab the rein in her teeth and give it a good yank.  

 “No Karma!  Whoa!”

  Heyes made a wild grab for the reins but the mare instantly knew she was free.  Pivoting away from the porch, she gave a playful squeal and with a buck she was off at a full gallop, determined to catch up with the others and win the race.

 Heyes ran after her,  “No!  Stop!  Dammit!”  He stopped after just a few steps, knowing there was no point.  “You BITCH!”  he yelled in frustration, and threw his hat on the ground.

 He stood there for a moment, hands on hips as he watched his horse quickly disappearing in a cloud of dust. “Goddammit!”  he shook his head in defeat, picked up his hat and turned back to the house.  Coming up the steps he suddenly came face to face with Martha.  “Oh....”  sheepish about sums it up.  “Oh, I'm sorry ma'am...umm...”

 Martha smiled.  “That's alright Hannibal,”  she assured him.  “since becoming the sheriff's wife I've heard much worse, believe me.”

 “Oh, yes ma'am.”

 “I don't mean that Lom curses, at least not in front of me,”  she was quick to point out.  “but some of the gentlemen who I take meals to over at the jailhouse, well sometimes they can be quite colourful.”

 Heyes smiled through his irritation, remember some of his own 'colourful' expletives while incarcerated in certain jailhouses.

 “Well, looks like we're up for the day,” Martha stated as she glanced at the rising sun.  “come along inside and we'll get some coffee going.  Hopefully they won't be too long.”

 Martha turned and went indoors while Heyes sent one more exasperated look after his long-gone mare.  He sighed and shook his head again, then followed Mrs. Trevors into the house.


 The posse galloped full speed ahead for the first few miles, knowing that they had to make up lost time.  If that gang had a chance to disappear into the hills, they'd never catch them.

 Fortunately the new gang was either cocky or stupid as they made no attempt to cover their tracks and once the lawmen were sure of the direction, Kid had no trouble leading the way.  They galloped along the dirt road leading into the hills until Jed pulled up and without hesitating, turned to lead the group off the main track and up a winding trail into the back country.  

 They were just about to leave the road when the sound of galloping hooves coming up behind them got everyone's attention and a few even pulled out their hand guns.

 “Dammit!”  Lom cursed.  “if Heyes has followed us, I'm gonna wring his neck.”

 Karma came barrelling around the corner, the reins flapping wildly out to the side as she ploughed into the small herd and got everybody into an uproar.  She danced around everyone, blowing and tossing her red mane while deftly avoiding one or two kicks that got aimed her way.

 “What in tarnation...?”  Lom was not pleased.

 Kid laughed.  “Looks like Karma wanted to come along just as much as Heyes did.”

 “Well this is just dandy,”  Harker complained.  “Now I suppose somebody's gonna havta' catch her up and take her back.”

 Groans were heard all around.

 “No, I don't think so.”  Jed countered as he quickly dismounted.  “I'll just tie up her reins so she don't trip over them and she'll be fine.  She won't leave the group.”

 Karma came up to Jed quite readily and gave him a nuzzling on the shirt in greeting.  Kid laughed again and patted her neck.

 “I bet ya' Heyes is cursing a blue streak right about now,'  he predicted.  “In a way though Lom, you should be thankin' her for taking off after us.  If she'd stayed behind it might have been too big a temptation for Heyes to do exactly what you were thinking he had done.”

 Lom gave a heavy sigh. “Fine,”  he grumbled.  “and who knows; we just might have need of an extra horse before this is over.”

 Jed nodded but made no comment.  He picked up the reins and criss-crossing them around the mare's neck, he tied them up securely so they wouldn't be dragging or create a loop that the mare could get her legs caught up in.

 “There ya' go,”  he assured her.  “just stay out of the way.”

 While he was on the ground, Jed took the opportunity to study the tracks just to make sure the group was going the way he thought they'd be going.  He nodded and smiled as he straightened up.

 “Yup, just as we thought Lom,”  he confirmed their thinking.  “they're heading straight up towards the Hole.  Using that old route we stopped using because too many people knew about it.”

 “Well, if they're taking that old route then if we hurry and go across 'Old Stump' mesa we just might cut 'em off.”  Lom surmised.

 “Yup,”  Kid agreed.  “that would be my plan.”

 “Let's get going then,”  Lom ordered.  “We didn't bring enough supplies to chase them all the way to Devil's Hole.  We either catch 'em at 'Old Stump' or we don't catch 'em.”

 Jed nodded agreement.  He re-mounted Gov and turning them off the road again, led the posse up into the hills.


 Heyes was sitting at the kitchen table, nursing a second cup of coffee and trying to write a letter to his wife. 'Trying' was the operative word here as he was still so irritated at the unexpected turn of events that he was having a hard time focusing on his narrative.

 This was not the idea at all.  Come and visit Lom and Martha.  Okay, that sounded safe enough and truth be known Heyes had been feeling quite relaxed in their company.  But now it was just him and Martha and he was no longer feeling relaxed.  What irked him even more was the fact that he couldn't figure out why.

 It was in the middle of these uncomfortable musings that the woman herself appeared in the entrance to the kitchen and with a smile to him, went to the stove for her own re-fill of caffeine.  She poured her cup and came to sit down at the table opposite Heyes and he tried very hard to be relaxed.

 “What are you doing?”  she asked by way of conversation.  “Writing your memoirs?”

 Heyes laughed, probably louder than needs be.  “Ah, no,”  he controlled himself.  “just trying to write a letter to my wife.”

 Martha smiled.  “Oh yes.  How is Miranda?  And your daughter—she is such a sweetheart.”

 Heyes smiled with genuine pride.  “Yes!”  he agreed.  “that little lady runs the household I do believe.”

 “Of course she does!”  Martha teased.  “But seriously, that was a lot for you to take on all at once.  Lom was proud of you, you know.”

 “He was?”

 “Yes.  He said that it showed you were finally beginning to grow up.”

 “Oh,”  Heyes' smile dropped and he looked back down at his letter.

 “Now don't let what happened this morning put you off,”  Martha assured him with a pat on his hand.  “Lom was trying to protect you, you know that.”

 “I suppose,”  Heyes mumbled.  “It's just maddening that he thinks I still need protecting.”

 Martha sat back and quietly contemplated this man who was sitting across the table from her.  My but he was handsome.  The face of an angel and eyes that were like pools of molten chocolate that could draw a lady in, thinking she had found the sweetest creature on God's earth.  But there was so much more to him than that.  Those eyes that appeared so warm and gentle had a depth to them that was unfathomable.  Those eyes had seen so many terrible things, things that had been drawn deep down into the soul and done damage there.  Damage that would remain throughout a lifetime.

 She had been so pleased when they received the invitation to join in the celebration of Hannibal and Miranda's wedding.  Then to witness them adopting young Sally right then and there was just icing on the wedding cake.  Lom had been pleased.  And so had Martha.  She had very much liked Miranda when she had met her at Jed's wedding and felt that she was a good match for Hannibal.

 There's nothing like marriage to the right person to give a fractured and lonely heart something to rejoice in. Both of them had been hurt from the demise of previous relationships and whether they admitted it or not, both had been searching for a safe harbour.

  Miranda and Sally would give Hannibal an anchor, something solid for him to hold onto while he sorted out his life and found his footing again.  Heyes would give Miranda love and security, the kind of security that went beyond the financial.  The kind of security that gave pleasure and joy to life.  Both of them would give Sally a home and a real family.  A chance to grow up the way a little girl should grow up; with a mother and a father who loved her dearly and grandparents who would spoil her endlessly.

 Martha could tell now that Hannibal was doing well.  Already she could see a calmness and a contentedness in him that had not been there before.  This is why she had encouraged her husband to give him some more room. Keep him tethered too tightly and he would rebel, exploding out of those bindings and ultimately self-destructing, never to be seen or heard from again.

 She knew the authorities were walking a fine line with him.  Being the sheriff's wife she was privy to much of what was said and thought about Hannibal Heyes from the legal point of view.  But also being the wife of an ex-outlaw who just happened to know most of Hannibal's deep, dark secrets and spoke of them from the outlaw stand point gave her enough insight to realize the tenuous ground they were walking on.

 Hannibal was struggling to prove himself.  He was a man used to being in control and rebelled against restraints put upon him.  Within himself he knew he had made the turn in his life; he was no longer an outlaw and never would be again.  He had learned self-control and was beginning to develop a strong grasp of his own judgement.  As far as he was concerned he no longer needed the guidelines helping him to decipher right from wrong.  He had already reached the point that Kenny had told him he needed to reach before he could strike out on his own, without the parole restrictions.  He knew he would be successful.

 Yet he was still years away from having those restrictions lifted from him.  He was frustrated by them and felt insulted that nobody seemed to think he was capable—not even his friends.  Every time he tried to step out and be a part of things again, he got pushed back down.  This morning's event had just been another example.

 But from the legal standpoint, Hannibal Heyes was lucky simply to be out of prison.  He had only served four and a half years of a twenty years to life sentence so he had no good reason to feel hard done by.  It would be foolish to give the man more freedoms than he was already getting.  It would be asking for trouble, like opening the gate and allowing a rogue stallion out before he'd had time to be tamed.  If he could be tamed.  That's really what the authorities were worried about and waiting to see; could Hannibal Heyes truly be tamed?

 Martha sighed and put a hand upon his again and gave it a gentle squeeze.  Heyes looked up and met her eyes.

 “Lom is your friend, Hannibal,”  she assured him.  “I know sometimes you become frustrated, but he's doing a balancing act between giving you the freedom you want to prove yourself, but keeping the government officials content that you are respecting your parole.”

 Heyes nodded but didn't answer.  He knew she was right, but was still feeling too put out to admit to it.

 “Do you resent me, Hannibal?”  Martha asked him out of the blue.

 Heyes felt a chill go through him.  Why would he resent her?  But if her question wasn't hitting close to the mark, why did it send shivers down his spine?

 He shrugged.  “I don't know,”  he admitted quite honestly.  “I don't see any reason why I should.”

 “Well Lom and I have already discussed this.”

 “Oh, you have, have you?”

 “Now there you go getting all defensive,”  Martha chided him.  “and this is exactly what we were talking about.  You don't like it, knowing that Lom discusses you and Jed with me, do you?”

 Heyes frowned, creasing his brow in irritation.  Then he realized that he was indeed, feeling defensive.

 “You don't have to worry about me passing judgement on you,”  Martha continued.  “Good heavens!  I'm married to an ex-outlaw and my first husband and I knew all about Lom's past long before you and Jed came into the picture.  There were very few people Lom trusted enough to discuss his previous life with so we were honoured that he did so with us.  Then when you and Jed came to him and asked him to approach the governor about an amnesty well, it just opened up a whole new level of stress for him.”

 “It did?”  Heyes asked, genuinely surprised.  He'd never really thought about it from Lom's side before.

 “Oh yes,”  Martha confirmed.  “Trying to keep tabs on your two, hoping you'd stay clean and true to the course.  Then at the same time knowing that as time and governor's went by the chances of you staying law abiding became less and less.  Then you were both arrested.  Oh my!  I thought he was going to explode.  Worry over Jed with that terrible injury, and worry over you and what it would do to you if Jed died.
 “Then the trials.  Those trials were hard on everyone!  On top of the worry over you being in prison, and Jed basically self-destructing he also felt a lot of guilt.  He had encouraged you and Jed to stay true to the cause, even as the years ticked by and then the governor turned around and basically stabbed you in the back.  He felt responsible.”

 “It wasn't his fault,”  Heyes said quietly.  “I never blamed him for it.”

 “I know that,”  Martha assured him.  “and I think Lom knew it too.  Yet he still couldn't help but blame himself.  He needed to have someone to talk Hannibal, or he would never have gotten through it.  The only way for us to truly understand what it was all about was for him to speak freely about his life as an outlaw and his relationships with you and Jed, and the others as well.
 “Then the terrible things that came out at your trials.  Those things were just as hard for him to hear as they had been for you and Jed to divulge.  They were hard for me to hear too; it broke my heart.  No child should have to witness the things that you and your cousin did, but hearing about them helped us all to understand you better and to stand by you all the more.
 “Then my husband took the fever and passed away,”  she sighed and a sadness settled over her countenance.

 Their roles reversed and Heyes gave her hand a gentle squeeze in support.

 “I was devastated.”  she admitted.  “if it hadn't been for my children and for Lom, I don't know how I would have gotten through that time.  But we were such good friends by then, I suppose it was only natural that we would turn to one another for support.  When it suddenly dawned on us that we were two lonely people who were great friends but continued to live apart, well we decided that no one would mind if we rectified that.
 “I was at first concerned that my children might take offence that I was considering marriage again so shortly after their father had passed.  But it turned out to not be the case.  They knew that Lom had been a good friend to both of us and that their father would not mind.  So they gave their blessings and Lom and I were wed.
 “And in a way it was you and Jed who made it possible.  If Lom hadn't needed someone to talk to, someone whom he could trust to be discreet, well, our friendship would never have happened.  So I don't want you to be feeling defensive because I know the things I know.  Lom is your friend and so am I.  We will both do everything we can to support you.”

 Heyes sat in a puddle of gratitude.  He just didn't know where to go with this.  He and Kid hadn't known any of this about Lom.  They had been so wrapped up in their own problems, their own self-interests that Lom's part in this had never gone beyond a convenient go-between.  When things were going badly they would grouse at him about it taking so long.  When they got into trouble with the law he was the first person they'd send a distress signal to. When things were going well, they conveniently forgot about him.

 Now, all of a sudden, Lom telling him to stay put wasn't quite to irritating after all.  He was just doing what he had always done; supporting them in their quest to lead law abiding lives.  Heyes was now slowly beginning to realize that he needed to lighten up on these things.  Again, all he had thought about were his own self-interests.  What he wanted, and the fact that he wanted them NOW.

 He leaned back, drawing in a deep cleansing breath and letting it out with a loud sigh.  He looked up, meeting Martha's eyes and he smiled.

 “Thank you,”  he said.  “Thank you for telling me this.  I never knew.  He never said.”

 Martha nodded.  “I know.”  She smiled as she patted his hand and then stood up.  “Come.  It's time for lunch.  Are you hungry?”

 Heyes laughed.  “Yes!”

 
 Just after high noon and everyone was getting rather warm.  Jed and Lom kept pushing them however as they knew too well the time constraints that they were up against.  They had to get to that mesa first or lose their opportunity and they were taking the long way around.

 Everyone was getting tired except for Karma; she was still of the opinion that this was all a big game and the faster Jed led them on, the more she was enjoying it.  Behind Jed's back numerous glances were being sent to the fleet-footed mare but most of them were laced with envy and resentment rather than honest admiration.  With their own horses starting to slow down and getting tired, watching the mare glide along beside or a bit ahead of everyone was just enough to set the teeth on edge.

 Finally, after a long up-hill push Jed brought them all to a halt at the edge of the open mesa.  The reason for the name of the place became quite apparent as a few miles off an old rotting stump could still be seen rising up above the grasses.  Once upon a time it had been a magnificent tree, stretching up to the heavens and defying everyone's challenge to it's right to be there.  

 Jed didn't know how long ago, it had always been a stump as far as he was concerned, but at some point way in the distant past Mother Nature had taken umbridge with the tree's arrogance and had sent a lightening strike its way. Now there was nothing left of its splendour, most of its body parts having long since rotted into the soil.  But the stump continued to stand, blackened and lonely but still basking in its former glory.

 Karma trotted out onto the grasses and dropped her head to graze while the other horses stood and panted, thankful for this long awaited reprieve.

 “What do ya' think?”  Lom asked Jed while they surveyed the open spaces before them.

 “If we stay hidden and go around we could miss them,”  Jed theorized.  “but if we cut across in the open they might see us and take a different route.  Or...”  he thought with a sudden realization.  “hit us in ambush and we'd be right out there in the open with no cover.”

 “But we're running out of time,”  Lom pointed out.  “chances are we got here ahead of them, but only just.  I sure would hate to get caught out in the open here.  That was one thing about our old gang, nobody shot to kill, both Jim and Heyes made sure of that.  But this group could be totally different, we don't know what they might do.”

 “Yup,”  Kid nodded agreement.  “Well, how about we split up?  Joe and I can stick to the cover and work our way around to where they'd be heading and see if they've already gone through.  Meanwhile the rest of you can wait here and if ya' see them break cover then I guess the chase is on.  Hopefully Joe and I will be able to cut them off.  In the meantime....”

 “Excuse me gents,”  Harker interrupted this impromptu battle plan.  “but it appears to be too late.”

 Every head in the posse, human and equine alike stopped what they were doing and looked to their right across the mesa.  Sure enough five horsemen had just broken cover and were loping across the open space, obviously confident in the assumption that they were alone.  That assumption was soon put to rest when two of the posse horses let out loud whinnies in greeting and everything came to an instant standstill.

 The first thing the outlaws spotted was the glistening hide of the dark copper mare standing on the edge of the clearing with ears up and nostrils flared.  That was an odd sight; a lone horse all tacked up but nobody with it?  That was too odd a coincidence to be true and all five outlaws reached that conclusion at the same time.  Spurs were put to flanks and the chase was on.

 The posse broke cover, pulling rifles and hand guns as they booted their already tired horses into a gallop. They had hoped to be able to cut the outlaws off but that opportunity had been lost so everyone was riding full out, yelling and pushing their horses to give more speed.  Karma was right in the thick of it, galloping easily along beside her herd and putting most of them to shame.

 The only one who showed any hope at all of keeping up with her was Black Betty and she was giving it all she had.  Joe continued to push her, galloping out ahead of the rest of the posse; his focus intent on the fleeing outlaws to their right and a little in front.  They were closing the gap and the distance between where the two groups would cross paths was coming up fast.  Betty and Karma began to compete with each other, lengthening their strides and flying across the open mesa.  Their focus was on each other, the other horses were a non-entity and the rider on Betty's back was inconsequential.  Of course it helped that Joe was also focused on the group ahead of them and was pushing Betty to give more even though she didn't need any prodding from him.

 Jed was yelling at him, trying to get him to slow down.  He had to stay with the group,  it would do him no good to catch up with the outlaws if he was on his own; one lawman against five outlaws equalled a deadly encounter.  But Joe couldn't hear him.  Between the excitement of the chase, the sounds of rifles and hand guns going off and the rushing of wind in his ears he was oblivious to everything but his purpose.  He yelled as the outlaws galloped past them, almost close enough it seemed that he could reach out and touch them.

 Joe had a flash of connection as faces filled with fear and hatred glared at him.  His eyes were filled with the sudden flashes from revolvers going off, aimed in his direction. The ground shook with the thundering of so many hooves as the wild-eyed horses grunted and struggled to out-run their riders' spurs.  The sound of yelling men, staccato gunfire, creaking leather and horses gasping for air filled Joe's ears and then they were gone—past him and heading for the tree line.

 More shots exploded behind Joe as the posse members became desperate to stop the outlaws but they had to be careful not to hit Joe by mistake.  He could see the gang members turning in their saddles and sending lead back there way, but fortunately trying to actually hit something from the back of a galloping horse was almost impossible.  The shots went wild and the attempt to intimidate was lost in the adrenaline rush.

 Karma and Betty flattened their ears and picked up the pace even more.  A new race was on.  Karma was no longer in front, leading the pack and though Betty was still putting a lot of pressure on her, the chestnut mare's focus switched to the new challenge.  How dare those horses cut in front of her!  Who did they think they were?

 Her breathing had started to labour but she was mad now and her determination to catch up to those usurpers over-ran her exhaustion.  She galloped on, flying across the ground and leaving Betty further and further behind with each stride.

 Both Jed and Lom were yelling at Joe to pull up!  It was too late.  The outlaws were going to make it to the cover of the trees and then it would be too easy for them to turn around and start shooting.  The posse was going to be at a disadvantage and they had to pull up!  Lom motioned for his deputies to do just that; pull up and get to cover or they would be sitting ducks and Harker made sure it happened.  But Lom and Jed kept going.

 More shots came from behind and one of the stationary posse members actually hit a mark.  Joe heard and felt, rather than saw a horse stumble and crumble to the ground.  The animal slid along the grass for a few yards, dragging its hapless rider along with it before finally coming to a halt.  The rider struggled to get away from the thrashing horse, but he was hung up underneath and couldn't get lose from it.

 Finally the horse got himself untangled from the reins and with an almighty heave, scrambled to its feet and took off after its herd mates. The outlaw tried to stand but went down in a heap as his one leg would not support him.  He was mad now, more than scared.  No only had his 'friends' left him behind, but so had his horse and he felt ready to do some damage.  His rifle was still in its sheath on the horse, but he had his hand gun and he started to put it to use.

 Joe had suddenly realized his predicament and had begun to haul brutally on his mare's mouth but she was beyond listening to him.  He reached down along one side of her neck and grabbed the rein closer down by her mouth and pulled back.  He hauled her head around to the side to try and stop her, but she galloped on, her head bent but her gallop taking her forward.  She fought with him while she galloped sideways, trying to get her head back.  He hauled on her even harder, feeling something inside his left hand suddenly release with a 'twang'!  But he ignored it, knowing he had to get his mare stopped.

 Finally he got her to slow down and forced her body to follow her head around into a circle.  She reared as Jed and Lom's horses came flying up behind her, but Lom got a head of her and put a full stop to her wild gallop.  Jed carried on past, still hoping to be able to stop Karma, but she was too far ahead of them by now, galloping full out to catch the horses ahead of her and totally oblivious to the horses behind.

 Rifle shots rang out from the tree line and a tuft of grass at Betty's feet flew into the air.   Another shot followed from the opposite direction and Jed felt the breeze of it fly past his ear. The injured outlaw still had his hand gun out and was taking pot shots at any target that was standing still, hoping to get in a lucky one before the rest of the posse could get to him.  Jed was so focused on trying to catch up with Karma that he didn't give the gunman an extra thought beyond seeing Harker gallop over top of him and send the hand gun flying out of his grasp.

 Finally though, the Kid had to admit when he was beat.  He shook his head with regret and gave up on Karma.  He knew he could never catch her anyways, but for Heyes' sake he knew he'd had to try.  But he gave it up as a lost cause and wheeled back to the two lawmen.

 More shots rang out from just inside the treeline and then answering fire came from the posse members who were really too far away to hit anything, but still felt the need to respond to the aggressive stance.  Another barrage came from the woods and Lom reacted to the shock of a hit.  He grabbed his right arm, dropping his reins and very nearly losing his seat as his horse plunged ahead without guidance.  Jed was quick to push Gov out in front and blocked the horse from taking off, then grabbed Lom while his friend found his seat and gathered up the reins again.

 More shots were being fired back and forth and the three lawmen booted their horses back towards the cover of distance.  They finally reined up at the far end of the mesa, then turned and surveyed the far tree line.  The shooting had stopped.  The outlaws, having won the day, aside from losing one gang member, had sheathed their rifles and carried on at a fast gallop towards their sanctuary.

 Karma was no where in sight.  The lawmen sat their horses, everyone gasping for air and shaking with the adrenaline, and some with injury.  Harker was heading back to the group,  and prodding along in front of him was a limping outlaw who was not too pleased at all at having been abandoned by his cohorts.

  Jed just sat, shaking his head in disbelief and regret.  How was he going to break the news to his cousin?  How was he going to tell Heyes that his beloved mare was gone?


To Be Continued.


Last edited by Keays on Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Silverkelpie

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PostSubject: Re: Encounters Chapter two   Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:36 pm

Ladies - Great chapter with the boys giving poor Joe a hard time and testing him to distraction. I loved the bit where Heyes visited the bank he'd robbed and found some memories stirring as well as the staff. I was interested to see what Heyes had against Martha and the conversation between them was very illuminating. Great to see them back at Devils Hole, this time on another side of the law, but poor Heyes felt left out. Karma certainly made up for his absence though! The scenes with her riding out on her own were great. Looking forward to more. cowboy 11 

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PostSubject: Re: Encounters Chapter two   Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:58 pm

Joe is certainly getting an education! Nice to see Heyes and Jed fall back into old behaviour. But Jed finally seems to have learned that he can never win a coin toss against Heyes. And good job that Heyes does not let them split up - who knows what murder Jed might get accused of otherwise... Joes' horse Black Betty seems promising for some more fun to come.
Great scene at the bank, how could Heyes have forgotten robbing a bank in a big city like Cheyenne? Loved his parting line "it's been a pleasure doing business with you again", and the banker not really understanding. Impish Heyes is just so cute.
Nice meeting Betsy again. And of course the special of the day had to be rabbit - I was laughing out loud.
Poor Heyes, feeling again the shackles of his parole and then being so cruelly excluded from the posse. I saw it coming, but it still felt like a slap in the face. But at least it forces him to talk it out with Martha. And through Martha we get interesting glimpses into Lom's point of view what it's like to be friends with Heyes and the Kid. I hope this conversation will help Heyes.
Dramatic chase after the new Devil's Hole gang - I wonder if we will be familiar with any other members but Ames - and Karma Lou insists on coming along and turning it into a race. What did Jed think, letting her run free. At least when they came to the mesa, he should have tied her to his saddle. Now it looks like she might be joining the outlaws... I wonder how Heyes is going to get her back. He can't not go after her, but doing it would endanger his parole.

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PostSubject: Re: Encounters Chapter two   Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:04 pm

Oh, you got ahead of me here! I thought you were taking a break from this trilogy and that I had some time LOL!

Try not to blame poor Jed for letting Karma get away from them. You know how she is, if Jed had tied her to Gov's saddle she probably would have just taken Gov along with her! Who would have thought she would turn it into a horse race?

Rushing off now to browse over chapter three!
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PostSubject: Re: Encounters Chapter two   Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:16 pm

I did take a break - long enough to catch up with HelenWest's latest chapters and to read InOut's story "Moving on" (and the 3 stories leading up to it).   Very Happy 
It is so Karma to turn it into a race, she sure loves to run and is proud of being the fastest...
I guess it will be hard enough for Jed to face Heyes, he does not need more grief from readers.

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PostSubject: Re: Encounters Chapter two   Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:02 pm

Lol! I forget how fast you are. You're going to get through The Lineage in no time!
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Encounters Chapter two
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