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 Los Veintos Chapter twenty-seven

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Keays

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

PostSubject: Los Veintos Chapter twenty-seven   Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:43 am

This is the PG 13 version.  The un-edited version can be found in the Adult's only link at the bottom of the page.


Los Vientos
 
 
  Heyes was standing outside in the yard.  He was leaning against the hand railing for the stairs which led up to the second floor entrance.  There were other inmates milling about, getting some fresh air before supper time, and of course there were the ever present guards, ever presently watching.  But Heyes was alone.  He stood staring through the far wall that was just one of the walls that enclosed him.  He didn’t see it—he wasn’t seeing anything.  He was lost in his own world.

  He could feel the change in the air.  Funny how summer always went by so quickly, even in this God forsaken place.  Summer was one brief respite from the cold winds and the rain and the ice and snow of winter.  He could feel the wind now disguising itself as a soft summer breeze just waiting for the opportunity to turn mean, for the temperatures to drop and the leaves to change colour.  Just waiting, waiting….waiting.

  Kyle walked by, his jaws working on a plug of tobacco, his brown stained teeth showing in a wide grin as he greeted his friend and protector.  Heyes absently responded with a breath of a smile that disappeared as soon as the other man had passed by.  He was heading over to walk the perimeter with Ames, Heyes noted.  It seemed that Kyle and Ames had struck up a bit of a friendship somehow.  Hmmm, that could get interesting what with Ames’ inclination towards setting fires, and Kyle’s fascination with explosives.  Better keep an eye on those two.

  Lobo wasn’t out in the yard which didn’t surprise Heyes at all.  Lobo didn’t really socialize with anyone, lone wolf that he was.  Even up at the Hole it had taken Lobo a couple of years before he really settled in as part of the gang.  Heyes’ lips tightened in a show of irritation when he thought of his underling—oh, Lobo would hate being referred to as an ‘underling’!  A flash of a malicious smile loosened Heyes’ lips as he thought about how easy it was to get a rise out of that wolf.

  What was the matter with that old reprobate anyways?  Heyes’ expression turned furtively reflective and his brow tightened.  What made him think that he was so different from the rest of them?  Nobody liked being in here—well; exceptin’ Kyle, maybe—so why couldn’t he just accept his fate and stop acting like the whole world has done him a disservice?  ‘Any man who would accept this over an honourable death wasn’t worth the money posted on him’ indeed!  Heyes snorted.  And he thought Karma was a diva!

  Heyes took a deep breath and then let it out in a sigh.  His thoughts returned to the visitors he’d had earlier that afternoon and another smile played about his lips—only this time it was genuine and filled with affection.  Bridget had come by with her husband of one month in tow.  Officially it had been a visit with his lawyer, accompanied by his assistant, but in reality it had been a visit with his good friend, accompanied by her new husband!.....
 
 
  “….Oh Joshua!  It is so good to see you!  I had hoped to get out sooner, but as soon as we got back from San Francisco there were just so many things that had to be taken care of right away.  Steven had a number of cases on the go that needed some immediate attention since he’d been away from them for two weeks and our new home needed some organizing if we ever intend to feel comfortable living there…!”

  “That’s alright Bridget.  It’s good to see you….”

  “Oh, San Francisco was so fascinating!  And your friend, Mr. O’Sullivan was so kind and generous.  He took us out to some of the finest restaurants I’ve ever been in—ones that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams could even exist, they were so exquisite!  And they had music with live orchestras and even a singer who came out on the small stage to sing beautiful music while we had dinner—I’d never heard anything so beautiful before, I would never have believed that a woman could sing like that if I hadn’t heard it with my own ears!
  “And all the sights were just amazing!  Though Mr. O’Sullivan wasn’t able to spend every day with us he did have one of his employees take us around town and to all the different attractions that by the time we’d return to our hotel room in the evenings all I could do was sleep!—Oh well actually that’s not entirely true!  We still certainly had energy for—oh well…you know.”  Then she blushed sweetly and sent an embarrassed smile over to her husband.
 
  Heyes’ brows went up as his dimples peeked through and he sent a humourous glance over to Steven.  Steven was using all of his practice as a lawyer in the courtroom in order to maintain a straight face but then the two men exchanged knowing smiles and the young lady continued to prattle on.
 
  “And did you see my ring Joshua?  Isn’t it beautiful?”  she held out her left hand for her friend to see.
 
  Heyes leaned forward to admire the piece of jewelry and had to admit even to himself that it was an exquisite item.  The instincts of the thief in him were awakened briefly as he calculated the value of the stones and whether they would fetch more taken apart and sold separately or kept intact as it was and sold as a piece of art.  He smiled and then switched over to being just a friend, viewing it for what it was; a lovely ring, given as a symbol of committed love.
 
  “Yes Bridget,”  he agreed quietly.  “it is beautiful.”
 
  “And he gave me a lovely necklace and earrings as well as part of a matching set for the ring,”  she continued.  “Oh!  I should have thought to wear them today so you could have seen them—they are just so lovely!” 
 
  Heyes smiled, he brain again automatically calculating the value of such an exquisite collection of stones and gold.
 
  “It’s best you didn’t,”  he commented with an even deeper smile.  “Too many thieves around here for them to stay safe.”
 
  “I do wish you could have been at the ceremony Joshua!”  Bridget continued without skipping a beat.  “It was so lovely, and we do have photographs coming.  Mr. Hendricks, the photographer in town, you know—he’s getting them all developed and then he’ll be bringing them to us.  I will be sure to send you copies just as soon as I can.  Of course, seeing them in black and white is nothing compared to how everything looked first hand, but it’ll be better than nothing—give you an idea anyways of what a beautiful day it was!  Why are you looking at me like that Joshua?  What’s so funny?”
 
  “No, nothing’s funny.”  Heyes assured her, bringing his grin down a couple of notches.  “I was just thinking about something you wrote to me in your letter.”
 
  “What was that?”
 
  “Well, that you didn’t think you had changed,”  he explained.  “That you thought you should feel different now that you were married, but that you didn’t—that you were still just you.  But you have changed Bridget.  Right before my eyes.  You’ve blossomed into a beautiful young woman and part of me is happy and excited to see you all grown up and starting out on this new adventure.  But another part of me is sad.  Sad at having to say ‘goodbye’ to the little girl who had to be dragged out from under the porch to say ‘hello’.”  Then he laughed.  “The little girl who didn’t mind taking pot shots at a sheriff in order to help us get away!”
 
  Bridget sat quietly for a moment, scrutinizing her friend who was sitting across the table from her.  Their eyes met and locked and it seemed in that moment that a lifetime of love and understanding passed between them.  Heyes’ eyes took on a sadness that he could feel right down into the pit of his soul.  Bridget sent him a soft smile and then rules be damned, she got up from her chair and walking around the table, she gave him a warm hug and kissed him on the top of his shaved head.


  Heyes hadn’t expected that, and it took him by surprise how good it felt to receive such a genuine hug from a young lady who knew him for who he was and for what he was and yet still loved him dearly.  He closed his eyes as he leaned into her arms and she held him tight like that for a moment.
 
  Then she whispered.  “I’ll love you, Joshua.  You’ll always be my friend.”  she gave him another kiss and returned to her chair to sit back down beside her husband.
 
  Heyes grinned as he watched her.  His throat was burning and he could feel his eyes starting to mist a little bit, so he blinked them a few times and gave a little cough.  He settled back into his chair and didn’t say anything until he could be sure he was safe…
 
….Heyes brought himself back to reality and took a quick look around the yard.  He needed to pinpoint where Thompson was as he didn’t feel like receiving a punch in the gut for simply having a smile on his face.  There were so few pleasant memories from this place that the ones he did have he tended to cherish, but that didn’t mean he should let his guard down like that.

  He released a quiet sigh of relief when he didn’t spot Thompson anywhere around him, nor Carson either so maybe it was safe for him to dwell in the past for just a little while longer.  Davis was over there by MacKenzie and Murrey was casually walking around the parameter swinging his bully club and keeping a general eye over the outside populace.  Neither one of those guards made a habit of executing sneak attacks on the inmates so Heyes relaxed a little and allowed his eyes to close and to feel the soft summer breeze coax him back into his pleasant memories….
 
  …..Steven watched this whole exchange between his wife and his client, feeling a little bit of jealousy but also at the same time feeling like he was an intruder on a private moment.  He was accustomed to seeing his client taciturn and moody or angry and hostile or simply worried about his situation—and with good reason.  But now that the moment had passed, he was smiling inwardly at how the loving touch of a young woman could often soften the toughest of hearts.

  It reminded Steven of that day in the Cheyenne jailhouse when Bridget and snuck into the cell in order to comfort her friend after his ordeal while on the stand.  He had still been feeling shockie and vulnerable after those terrifying repressed memories had re-surfaced and hit him so hard over the head.  And then there was Bridget, rushing forward to hold and hug him, totally oblivious to the disapproving stares of the male authority figures that were in attendance.

  Though Steven had been pretty much in the background during that encounter, he can still remember smiling to himself at the pretty young woman’s audacity and spirit.  He admired her determination to be there for her friend even though her presence in a jail cell was not considered ‘proper behavior’ for a woman.  Steven suspected that he might have fallen in love with her right then and there—it just took his brain a little bit longer than his heart to figure it out!

  Heyes smiled warmly over at his friend and she sparkled back at him. Steven abruptly came back from his own reminiscing and felt that perhaps it was time to move things along to a more official visit.
 
  “Ahhmm, Mr. Heyes,”  Steven got his client’s attention.  “part of our visit here today is that I wanted to bring you up to date on what we have accomplished so far towards setting up a hearing.”
 
  “Oh,”  Heyes sat up straighter and sent his full attention to his lawyer.  “Yes, of course Mr. Granger, that’s reasonable.”
 
  “Good,”  Steven smiled.  “Now, I have been in touch with Mr. McCreedy again and he will try to attend if he is able.  If not he will send another character testimonial to be presented.  The time of year for the hearing will have a lot to do with his ability to attend so we are trying to get it set up for next spring.”
 
  Heyes face fell.  “Oh,”  he mumbled.  “that long?  I had hoped before Christmas.”
 
  “I know,”  Steven looked sympathetic.  “I’m afraid that these wheels do not turn quickly.  Besides, it will probably take that long just to get everybody’s testimonies organized.”
 
  “Yes.  I suppose.”
 
  “Also,”  Steven continued. “I’m afraid retired Judge Hanley passed away ten months ago.”
 
  “Oh,”  Heyes mumbled again, his shoulders sagging with disappointment.  “Yes, I am sorry to hear that.”  Then he glanced up suddenly realizing that he should clarify that comment.  “I mean—not just for myself,”  he explained.  “Judge Hanley was an honourable person and I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.”
 
  Steven nodded his understanding.  “Mr. Brubaker, whom I believe you are also familiar with, has agreed to come forward to present Mr. Hanley’s testimony if needs be.  Post-mortem as it were.”
 
  “Ah,”  Heyes nodded.
 
  “Of course, Sister Julia will come forward if we need her as well, though she is reluctant,”  Steven continued.  “She feels that her work here in the prison is important and that if she makes too strong a stand against the system then she may be blocked from continuing on with that work.  Still she admits to feeling concern about the way things are managed so…”
 
  “Yes,”  Heyes became more engaged with the conversation now, feeling that they were finally getting into an area where he had some input.  “I wouldn’t want the Sister to feel that she is obligated to come forward.  She’s right.  Her work here is very important—more important than just my situation alone.  I would prefer it if she were not called forward to testify.”
 
  Steven nodded.  “I can understand you feeling that way Mr. Heyes,” he said.  “but we are uncomfortably close to not having enough eye witnesses to the abuses here to make a hearing worth organizing.  I believe that Beth’s account of the unprovoked assault upon you by the senior guard will have a powerful effect, but if we could also have the Sister there to back it up and to give details of other such incidences that could just be what tips the scale.  I am still hopeful that Officer Reece will change his mind and come in person rather than simply sending a copy of his records, but I realize he also has other issues to consider.”  Heyes nodded agreement.  “Still, with what Officer Reece and Doctor Morin are going to be submitting, well, as many different statements I can get that all support the same accusations the better off our chances will be.”
 
  Heyes pursed his lips and nodded again.  “You’re right, of course,”  he agreed, though reluctantly.  “I just feel uncomfortable with these people taking chances on my account.  Even just sending copies of their records could still get Reece and the Doc into a fair bit of trouble.”
 
  “They would not be doing it just on your account Mr. Heyes,”  Steven pointed out.  “We are trying to set up an argument against the Auburn Prison System itself.  Showing through your case in particular and others in general that it is the system, the way it is set up now, that allows physical, emotional and psychological abuses to continue in the management of the inmates.  And to show the negative long term affect of those abuses upon the people who are unfortunate enough to be incarcerated within these walls.
  “Unfortunately in cases such as these, risks must be taken in order to bring forth the truth and to force a change within the system itself.  It could get dangerous, but those people who have shown a willingness to come forward in whatever capacity are already aware of this since we will be challenging people in authority who do not wish to see the system changed.”
 
   Steven stopped here and looked to his client for some indication of what he was thinking.  Heyes’ poker face was on and he sat quietly, staring into nothing.
 
  “We already discussed this Mr. Heyes and you agreed to go ahead with it,”  Steven finally pointed out, forcing the convict to engage again.  “Are you now having second thoughts?”
 
  “No!  No,”  Heyes was quick to defend.  “At least not for myself.  I understand and accept the risks for me.  I just don’t like to see others put at risk by trying to help me.”
 
  Steven sighed and sat back in his chair.  He folded his arms and scrutinized his client again.  Having defended Hannibal Heyes throughout his trial Steven had some insight into the man’s character, probably more than his wife did.  He knew that Heyes was very protective of his friends and that he tended to keep his cards close, not letting too many people get in passed his defenses. Not surprising really, considering the life he had led since the death of his family but still difficult to deal with under these circumstances.

   Bridget was feeling a little uncomfortable, sensing that her two favorite men on the planet (aside from her father, of course) were at odds with one another.
 
  “As I’ve just stated, Mr. Heyes,”  Steven reiterated.  “we are not doing this just for you.  There is a far greater cause here than just your sentence.  I realize that you are accustomed to being in charge of events—you are used to being in control.  You are a natural born leader, even I can see that and as such you are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with leadership.  You reap the benefits of success and you accept the consequences of failure.
  “But in this situation you need to accept the fact that you are not the leader, you are not in control of the events and you are not solely responsible for the outcome.  Others are picking up that role Mr. Heyes, and are willing to accept the consequences of their own choices. You have given the go ahead for us to put forth your situation as our prime example, but beyond that you have very little say over what is brought to light at the hearing.  Nor can you control who comes forward to testify.
  “Others are making those choices for themselves.  The outcome of this hearing and the consequences, good or bad that befall the other people involved here are completely out of your hands.  It is important that you understand this. That you accept the subordinate role in this situation and allow others to step up and take the lead.  You are surrounded by friends here—friends who are willing to risk everything in order to help you and to see changes made in a system that is archaic to say the least.  The question now is; are you still willing to accept your own risks by allowing them to do so?  The last time we discussed this you indicated that you were and to be quite honest, it’s a little late now to be changing your mind.”
 
  Heyes sat silently with his mouth half open and stared at the lawyer.  He couldn’t quite believe the reprimand he had just received, and that from a man who was at least ten years his junior.  Heyes smiled a little nervously, but for the life of him he couldn’t come up with a response.  Was he losing his edge?  Was time spent behind bars muddling up his brain?  Or could it simply be that, politically correct as the reprimand had been, the lawyer had managed to hit the nail on the head and had forced Heyes to see the whole picture.
  Once having realized that, Heyes relaxed his countenance and nodded.
 
  “Yes, you’re right Mr. Granger,”  he conceded.  “Kid often accuses me of being too full of myself sometimes.”  Then he smiled openly.  “And I guess he should know!”
 
  “Oh, Joshua!”  Bridget assured him.  “You’re not that—arrogant!”
 
  He laughed.  “Really?”
 
  “Well….”
 
  “Ah ha!”  Then he dropped the teasing and nodded back at his lawyer again.  “I have given the go ahead on this and I will not back down.  Of course there is more at stake here than just my own personal future and the people who want to see changes made should be able to step forward and contribute to it.  After all, if I’m willing to accept the risks, who am I to stand in the way of others doing the same?”
 
  “My point exactly,”  Steven agreed.
 
  Heyes smiled over at his friend.  “You made a fine choice for a husband, Bridget,”  he told her.  “I can already see that the two of you are going to do very well together.”
 
  Bridget beamed at her husband.  “Yes,”  she agreed.  “I think so too.”
 
 
….Once again Heyes came back from his musings and noticed a change in the dynamics of the prison yard.  Nothing extreme, just that people were starting to make their way back indoors.  Hmm, must be supper time.  Heyes pushed himself up from his leaning post and took one last look around before heading inside himself.

   Late August, almost September and there was a soft breeze whisping around the yard but there was a definite change in the feel of it.  Heyes lifted his head slightly and sniffed the air; yes, definitely a change.  There was a chill coming.
 
 
  Mid morning on a bright Autumn Saturday and Jed was in the barn saddling up his new gelding.  Sam and Deke had done a fine job of breaking the animal out and Deke had been right in his decree that the young horse would make a willing partner.  The more Jed became acquainted with the animal the more pleased he became with his choice and knew that all it needed now to make a great riding horse was just more miles under his girth.

  Every day Jed made a point of throwing a leg over the animal’s back and getting him out for a ride, even if it was only for half an hour or so.  He made a point of getting him out to different sections of the ranch, and also going into town to get him used to all the different noises and contraptions that went along with being a horse in a human’s world.  It was actually kind of fun and Jed was enjoying introducing the horse to all these new experiences and at the same time, building a good solid foundation of trust and camaraderie that would stay with them throughout their relationship.

  Today was going to be a little different though.  Jed and Beth were going to get out for one more picnic ride before the weather became too chilly to make such an excursion enjoyable.  Daisy was old enough to be left on her own for a while, since she wasn’t totally dependent upon mother’s milk anymore.  She also felt quite safe and happy in the company of her Uncle Buck, so taking Karma out for a ride wasn’t quite the issue that it once had been.

  Jed had just finished tightening up the girth when he heard the clop clop of horses’ hooves on the wooden floor of the isle and looked up to see Beth (in her very fetching riding habit) leading Karma into the barn for a quick brushing off and tacking up. There wasn’t even a nicker of protest coming from the pasture and Karma was totally unconcerned about her baby so obviously both were quite comfortable with the opportunity for some time apart!
 
  “Where would you like to go to this time Beth?”  Jed asked her.  “The north pasture again?”
 
  “No, we’ve been there so much lately,”  she commented.  “Why don’t we head over Maple Ridge way?  Papa is thinking about buying a parcel of land up there and it would be nice to take a look at it.  Papa might just buy it even if it isn't prime grazing just to help out the Johnston's.  So many of our neighbours are still hurting after last winter.  We were lucky.”
 
  “It was more than just luck, Beth,”  Jed commented, but then smiled.  “But I'm not surprised your Pa wants to help out where he can.  Maple Ridge it is.”
 
  Beth made short time of getting Karma ready and before too many minutes had passed the two friends were leading their horses out of the barn in preparation of heading out for the day.  The two little dogs had been hanging around in the barn with the humans and then followed them outside to see if anything more was going on that they could be a part of.  But once their humans had mounted up and were heading out of the yard, they knew that they weren’t going along, so they both settled in beside old Rufus who was stretched out in the sun and hadn’t moved a muscle all morning.  He made a really nice pillow.
 
  “So, have you come up with a name for him yet?”  Beth asked.  “You’ve had him for a while now, don’t you think it’s time you stopped referring to him as ‘the new horse’?”
 
  “Yeah, I know,”  Jed agreed with a bit of a grimace.  “I’m not good at picking names.  How about Buck the second?”
 
  “No!”  Beth responded with a bit of a face.  “That’s not fair to either one of them.  Buck is Buck.  You need to give this fellow his own name.”
 
  “Hmmm, I suppose,”  Jed mumbled.  “I guess I’m just waiting for something to come to mind.”
 
  “Don’t wait too long,”  Beth advised with a smile.  “or his name is going to be ‘Hey You’!”
 
  Jed grinned.  “Yup.”
 
  “Oh alright, I’ll drop it!”  Beth gave in with a laugh.  “Karma is fighting with me here, I think she’s ready for a gallop—shall we?”
 
  “After you.”
 
  Three hours later the two friends were casually sitting their horses and looking out over the afore mentioned land parcel and discussing the pros and cons of it becoming a part of the Double J.
 
  “What do you think?”  Beth asked.
 
  “I donno,”  Jed admitted.  “Just looks like land to me.  What would you need it for?”
 
  Beth shrugged.  “Land is money,”  she stated bluntly.  “We’d have the room to expand our cattle herd and try to build it back up. Then if we can improve the quality we already have with our horses we just might be able to get the ranch up and running at a good profit again.  The cattle used to bring in a good revenue but now, maybe horses are the way to go.”

  “Yeah, I suppose,”  Jed conceded.  “I guess I just don’t know enough about business and building up something like this to really be able to give an opinion.  All Heyes and I ever did was live one day at a time—even when we had money.”
 
  “Well, yes.  I can understand that,”  Beth commented while Karma stamped a back foot and swished at an annoying fly.  “You probably didn’t even think that you had a future, so what was the point of planning for it?”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  “But you have a future now,”  Beth pointed out to him with a smile.  “It’s not too late to start making plans.”
 
  “Oh, I know,”  Jed agreed, and then laughed.  “I actually have a bank account!  Can you believe that?  Kid Curry has a bank account!”
 
  “Of course you do!”  Beth said.  “You have a job, you get paid, and you have a bank account!  See—you’re already planning for your future, you just didn’t know it!”
 
  Jed stretched out his back and then leaned onto his saddle horn while the two horses grazed.
 
  “Yeah, I suppose,”  he commented, though not sounding too convinced.  “All I can see in my future right now is getting Heyes his pardon.  I can’t really focus on other plans until that gets taken care of.”
 
  “Yes I know,”  Beth agreed with him.  “That’s important and none of us are going to let that go.”  Jed nodded.  “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be setting the ground work for your life after that.  In fact, if you don’t mind my saying; it seems to me that you are already doing that.  Whether you are aware of it or not, you are already setting the groundwork for when it’s time to move on.”
 
  Jed tensed just a little bit.  He wasn’t so sure that he liked the sound of that.  Beth realized that she’d given the wrong impression and quickly back stepped.  She reached over and put a consoling hand on her friend’s arm.
 
  “Oh no, Thaddeus!”  she stated.  “I didn’t mean to say that you were going to turn your back on Joshua!  None of us are planning on doing that.  I just meant that you are settling into a new life now—a life that’s offering you a future.  And that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
 
  Jed relaxed again and gave a deep sigh.  “I don’t know.  I suppose,”  he mumbled.  “I just can’t imagine moving on into new ventures without Heyes with me.  We’ve always been partners, still are.  It just doesn’t seem right to be making plans for my future while he is still in there.”
 
  “But I’m not suggesting that that’s what you’re doing,”  Beth defended herself.  “Only that you are laying in the ground work for when that future becomes available to you.  And whether you agree with me or not, I still believe that is a good thing.”
 
  Jed smiled over at her.  “Okay.  I’ll grant you that much.”
 
  “Good!”  Beth stated.  “Now, how about we find a nice comfortable spot and settle in to some lunch?”
 
  “Sounds good to me!”
 
  It didn’t take long for a spot under a tree to make itself available, and stripping the horses of their tack, they sent them out to graze close to the small stream that gurgled past their chosen site.

  Short work was made of the sandwiches and lemonade and everyone just sat back and relaxed for a while, enjoying the warmth that the fall sun was still willing to give them before the afternoon turned the air chilly again.
 
  “So you think Karma is in foal again?”  Beth asked casually because she herself was already pretty sure of it.
 
  “I expect so,”  Jed concurred with her opinion.  “It’s been over a month since we bred her and no sign of her coming into season again.  So, I expect she is.”
 
  “Yes, I think so too,”  Beth admitted with a smile.  “Papa deserves to get his colt this time and if Daisy is anything to go by, this new blood is really going to bring our breeding program up a few notches.”
 
  “Well good,”  Jed nodded.  “I know Heyes is hoping so too.  I guess he’s feeling a little obligated to your Pa as well, for all he has done and is still doing, for us.”
 
  “You don’t owe him anything Thaddeus,”  Beth informed him.  “Actually, helping you and Joshua now is his way of paying you back.”
 
  “I know that’s what he says,”  Jed countered.  “But we didn’t really do anything, and besides even what he feels we did do for him, he’s more than paid us back for that.  I mean, it was those idiots from back east who were willing to pay big money for some so called history who gave Jesse the break, not us.”
 
  “Well, it was because of you,”  Beth pointed out.  “And even at that you both did a lot to try and help us.  That thousand dollars you left in the cookie jar just seemed to be the catalyst that put all the rest of it in motion.  If it wasn’t for you and Joshua we would never have been able to sell that old ranch and buy this place along with some good quality breeding stock.  And since then we’ve just grown in leaps and bounds.” 
 Then she smiled conspiratorially.  “I do all the books for the ranch now,”  she confided in her friend.  “So I know; Papa is a very wealthy man Thaddeus, even after last winter's devastation.  Whether it was your conscious intent or not, it was you and Joshua who gave this family the step up that we needed and all we’ve had to do is help it to grow.
  “So don’t you go feeling like you have to pay anything back, alright?  Papa is just thrilled to be able to use Karma to get our new foundation sire and that’s enough.”
 
  “Yeah alright,”  Jed smiled.  “Of course if Karma continues to produce fillies your papa’s enthusiasm might start to ware thin!”
 
  “She won’t,”  Beth was adamant.  “Her next foal will be a colt.”
 
  “Well now there you go—sounding just like your papa!”  Jed complained.  “How can you be so sure?”
 
  “I asked Papa that,”  Beth contemplated.  “because like you say; he was sounding pretty confident about that right from the start.”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  “And I have to admit,”  Beth continued.  “that once he had shown me the breeding records and pointed out some consistencies’ I had to agree with him.  Karma’s next foal is going to be a colt.”
 
  “But how do you know?!”  Jed was getting frustrated.  “There’s no way you can possibly predict that!”
 
  Beth sent him a self-satisfied smile.  “Yes there is,”  she told him.  Jed sent her a very reproachful and doubtful look, and then waited for the explanation. Beth’s expression turned thoughtful as she considered her answer.  “I don’t know why it happens.  I can’t explain it and neither can Papa.  We just know that it does happen because it’s right there in writing in the breeding records.  It seems that for some reason, if you take a mare and a stallion that have never been bred together before and then breed them for two successive years in a row, then the foals will be one of each gender.”
 
  “Oh, c'mon!”  Jed retorted skeptically.  “How is that possible?”
 
  Beth shrugged.  “Like I said; we can’t explain it, but we’re seeing it, time after time.  That’s what happens.  But it has to be two horses that have never been bred together before, and it has to be two years in a row.  If you skip a year and then breed back, it doesn’t work, and after the first two years it again no longer applies and it’s anybody’s guess what the gender of the foals will be.
  “But, if you stick to those guidelines, then if, as in our case here, the first breeding results in a filly, then the second breeding will give us the colt. And vice versa; if the first foal is a colt, then the second will be a filly. But the third breeding and all breedings after that, well it’s a crap shoot again, it’s anybody’s guess.”
 
  Jed was still looking very skeptical about this, it just didn’t make sense.  “I don’t know Beth.  That seems kinda far fetched to me.”
 
  Beth just smiled and shrugged.  “I know.  But I’ll show you the records when we get back if you like.  It’s right there, written down in black and white.  Now one could argue that it’s just coincidence, that it’s not a hundred percent guarantee but it happens often enough for me to be convinced; the next foal is going to be a colt.”
 
  “Well, okay Beth, if you say so,”  Jed conceded the point.  “I suppose time will tell.”
 
  “Yes it will,”   she shivered a little bit.  “I’m starting to get chilly.  Let’s say we head home okay?”
 
  “Yeah, it’s getting on to that time anyways,”  Jed agreed.  “I’ll go collect the horses if you want to start packing up here.”
 
  Jed got to his feet and offered his hand to Beth and then he turned and headed over the short distance to where the two horses were contentedly grazing.  He was still shaking his head and thinking about the rationalization that Beth had just presented to him when he was brought up short in his musings by the actions of the two horses.  Quite suddenly, and simultaneously both animals spooked on the spot and with heads and tails up they stared back towards Beth, wide eyed and flared nostrils’ blowing their agitation.

  Jed spun and pulling  his six shooter followed the intense gaze of the horses.  At first he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary; just Beth standing there and casually folding the ‘table cloth’ they had been using for their lunch.  Then a slight movement behind her caught his eye and fear tingled down his spine and numbed his fingers.

  A small cougar, old and hungry by the looks of it, but still quite lethal was into it’s hunting crouch and with head down and ears back, its green, intense eyes had zeroed in on Beth as easy prey and was getting ready to make its charge!  Jed looked to his rifle tucked into the scabbard on his saddle, but it was too far away for either of them to get to it in time.  Jed aimed his six shooter but then Beth moved and inadvertently placed herself between Jed and the cat, blocking his line of fire.
 
  “Beth!”  he called to her in a loud whisper.  “Beth, get down!”
 
  “What?”  she asked with creased brow.  “What do you mean?”
 
  Jed made a violent downward motion with his left hand.  “Get down!”
 
  Then the cat screamed and fear filled Beth’s eyes as she spun around just as the cougar started its charge.  Beth spun again and with heart racing she ran towards Jed just as he fired his gun into the air hoping that the loud noise would scare the cat off.  But the animal must have been famished because the report didn’t even cause it to hesitate and it left the ground with front paws reaching and talons extended with murderous intent.

  Jed had run to the side in the hopes of getting a clear shot at the cat, but even as he did so, he knew he was too late.  Terror grabbed his heart and he would have screamed out his rage and his anguish if his throat hadn’t been tied in a knot!

  Then out of nowhere there came a bellow of indignant rage and with a blur of dark chestnut horse hide, Karma came charging in from the side and knocking Beth out of the way she met the full force of the cat’s leap.  Amongst angry snarls and flailing legs the cougar did a complete somersault over the horse’s withers and landed on its back with an indignant grunt.  But it was on its feet again in an instant and screamed its anger at this foolish equine who had dared to interfere with its hunting.

  It charged at the horse and lashed out with claws ready to rip and shred the flesh from her bones and teeth aching to sink into the neck and tear out her throat.  But Karma jumped away from the lethal weapons and then she nimbly hopped over the angry feline and in one swift movement, she stretched her head down and grabbed hold of the end of the cats tail with her teeth.

  Jed held Beth in his arms, both of them shaking with fear and adrenaline and watched in disbelief as Karma began her deadly dance.  With the end of the tail clamped tight in her jaws, Karma started to spin on her hind quarters!  Faster and faster she spun, swinging the cat in the air around with her.  The cat was furious, screaming and snarling and trying for all it was worth to double itself over and get its front claws into that horse’s face!

  But the centrifugal force was too much for the cat to fight against and all of its indignant rage was for naught.  Then Karma started to drop her head as she spun, slamming the cats head into the ground, spinning and slamming, spinning and whacking the cat into the tree trunk, spinning and slamming it into the ground again.  The cat screamed and fought, its legs flailing until it encountered the tree trunk, at which point there was a loud crack as the cats skull exploded and then the next whap into the ground broke its neck and Karma was spinning and pounding a dead piece of meat.

  Karma began to slow her spin down and then stopped.  She released her grip on the tail and the dead cat flopped onto the ground, a broken and bloody mass of tawny hair and useless claws.  Karma reached down to sniff it; she pawed at it a couple of times to make sure and then snorted and shook her head.  She looked over at her two humans with pricked ears and eyes bright with pride and then with a toss of her dark chestnut mane she trotted over to the young gelding that was trembling and sweating with fear and in need of some reassurance.

  Jed and Beth stood in each others embrace and stared with open mouths over at the dead cat, neither one of them quite believing what they had just witnessed.  They were both still shaking with the fear and shock and were in no hurry to let go of one another.  Other than those two emotions, Jed wasn’t sure what he was feeling. In that instant when he thought that he had lost Beth, that he wasn’t going to be able to save her, he had felt such terror as he’d never known before.  Terror that he was going to lose her, terror that his own stubbornness had prevented a life of happiness with her before it had even begun.

  Now, Beth was safe in his arms, pressing up against him and the feel of her breasts pushing against his chest was sending electric impulses through his body.  He could feel her heart beating wildly and he held her tighter, not wanting to let her go as the realization of what he had almost lost came home to him full force.  He was still shaking and his breathing was heavy, but it wasn’t just from shock now, it was with excitement and arousal.
 
  “Oh, Thaddeus!”  her voice was just a shaking whisper as she clung onto him.  “that cat was going to kill me!  Did Karma really do that?  Thaddeus, did we actually see that?”
 
  Then Jed took her chin in his hand and tilted her face up until she was looking into his eyes.  Her breath caught and her heart was suddenly in her throat as she saw the passion in those blue depths gazing down at her.
 
  “Thaddeus….”  it was a whisper on the wind.
 
  “Beth,”  he breathed softly.
 
  “Yes.”
 
   “The name’s ‘Jed’.”
 


Last edited by Keays on Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

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Join date : 2013-08-24
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Location : Camano Island Washington

PostSubject: Los Veintos   Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:47 am

Jed glanced up from where they were laying  in the long grasses and surveyed the surrounding area.  The two horses were contentedly grazing and other than that there was not another living soul around.  He stood up and offered his hand to his lady.
 
  “I hate to say it Beth, because it’s going to be cold but we better go to the creek down there and wash off,”  he told her.  “otherwise your folks are gonna know instantly what went on up here.”
 
  “Oh!”  a look of alarm flashed across her face, and taking his hand she allowed him to pull her to her feet.
 
  But then he stopped her, and taking her naked body into his arms once more he pressed her against himself and caressed her hair.  He looked down into her eyes and smiled at her.
 
  “Are you alright?”  he asked her gently.
 
  She smiled.  “Yes.  I’m better than alright.  You’re wonderful.  I love you—I always have.”
 
  Jed smiled and pulled her into a deeper hug.  “I know.  I love you too,”  he admitted.  “I’m sorry it took me so long to be able to say it, or even to allow myself to feel it.  But I do Beth, I love you too.”
 
  They held each other for a few more minutes not wanting to let it go, but then they knew they had to and gingerly made their way down to the creek.  The water was indeed cold, but they braved the elements and amongst laughing and playful protesting they splashed each other down until they were thoroughly washed off.  Then Jed quickly trotted over to their picnic area and making a point of not looking at the dead cat, he snatched up the picnic cloth and returned to Beth so they could use it to dry themselves off with.

  After that it was a simple matter of quickly getting dressed before they chattered all their teeth out, getting the horses tacked up again and collecting all their picnic paraphernalia.  Then they mounted up and headed for home before darkness caught them still out on the trail.


  Over supper that evening all the excited talk was about the close call with the cougar and what an amazing thing that Karma had done to save her young mistress from certain death!  Jesse and Belle listened intently feeling both fear over the safety of their daughter and amazement over the actions of the mare.  Any sign of self-consciousness or anxiety between the two young people at the table was automatically accredited to the events of the day that involved a cat—and nothing more.
 
  “Do you want to ride up there again tomorrow and see if you can selvage the pelt?”  Jesse asked Jed.
 
  “Naw, no point,”  Jed informed him.  “That cat was old and malnourished, which was probably why it risked making such an attack in the first place.  The pelt was already in sorry shape even before the cat died.  I figured to just leave it up there for the scavengers.”
 
  “Hmm,”  Jesse nodded agreement.  Then he smiled.  “I guess we’re just going to have to buy that parcel of land now!  Can’t have a memorable event like that take place and not own the land where it happened!”
 
  “I’ll certainly drink to that!”  Jed agreed and sent a quick smile over to Beth.
 
  Next morning Beth came clomping down the stairs all bright and happy, with a twinkle in her eye and a skip in her step.  Her mother was in the kitchen getting breakfast going and keeping Jay occupied all at the same time.
 
  “Beth!”
 
  “Yes Momma?”
 
  “Could you please come in here and feed Jay his breakfast?”  Belle asked of her daughter.  “He’s just being a little hellion this morning.”
 
  Beth’ shoulders slumped in disappointment, but she tried not to show it.
 
  “Yes, Momma,”  she agreed, and quickly changed direction and headed into the kitchen rather than out to the barn where she knew Jed was feeding the livestock.
 
  In the kitchen, Jay was sitting in his highchair, banging the spoon and flinging what was left of his oatmeal onto the floor and onto his mother, and not to mention rubbing it into his hair as well.
 
  “You little monster,”  Beth accused him.
 
  Jay laughed at her.  “Mo’ster!”  he agreed.
 
  “Yes!  Monster—you!”
 
  He laughed again and threw another spoonful of oatmeal at his sister.  She snatched the spoon and bowl away from him and grabbing a wet cloth, set about cleaning him up.  Belle smiled as she dished out another serving of breakfast for him.
 
  “Try and get as much into him as you can Beth,”  she said.  “If he won’t eat it then he’ll just have to stay hungry until lunch.”
 
  “Yes Momma.”
 
  “That was some adventure you had yesterday,”  Belle commented.  “Gives me the shivers just thinking about what a close call you had.”
 
  “Yes!”  Beth agreed.  “It was very terrifying at first.  But then watching Karma attack that cat—I didn’t think horses would do that!”
 
  “It is unusual,”  Belle agreed.  “I’d say that becoming a mother has really awakened the protective instinct in her and she certainly is fond of you.”
 
  “Yes, I suppose so,”  Beth commented absently as she started trying to spoon oatmeal into her squirming brother.  “and poor Jed was absolutely terrified that cat was going to get me.”
 
  Belle stopped stirring the pot of oatmeal and looked over at her youngest daughter.
 
  “Jed?”  she asked.  “Not Thaddeus anymore?”
 
  “Oh!  Ummm,”  suddenly Beth was blushing.  “No, well…we were talking about things on the ride and he asked me to start calling him ‘Jed’ from now on.”  She shrugged self-consciously.  “I don’t really know why.”
 
  “Really,”  Belle stated dryly.  “You and Thaddeus both seemed awfully flustered when you got back here last night.  Now your Papa and I assumed it was because of the excitement with the cougar, but now…did something else happen?”
 
  “No of course not Momma!”  Beth insisted a little too quickly.
 
  Belle sent a knowing smile over to her daughter.  “Beth, is there something you want to tell me?”
 
  “No Momma,”  But someone was looking more and more guilty as the moments passed.
 
  “Well maybe I need to ask that question another way,”  Belle surmised.  “Is there something you need to tell me?”
 
  Beth stood quietly looking down at her brother and trying to think of a way out of this without actually lying to her mother.  Or at least, not lying any more than she already had.  Jay started to get impatient; it was one thing for him to refuse to eat, but quite another for his sister to stop feeding him!
 
  “Beth…?”
 
  “How’s breakfast coming along?”  Jesse asked as he poked his head into the kitchen.
 
  Both ladies jumped and Beth nearly dropped the bowl she was holding.
 
  “Oh Jesse!”  Belle admonished him.  “You startled us!”
 
  “Sorry,”  He apologized with a smile.  “Need any help?”
 
  “Well, if you want to take the coffee pot out to the table, I’ll dish out the oatmeal and we’ll bring it in.”
 
  “Okay.”
 
  Jesse took the pot and disappeared.
 
   Belle sent a stern look to her daughter.  “We’ll talk about this later, young lady.”
 
  “Yes Momma,”  Beth bit her lower lip.
 
 
  There wasn’t too much opportunity throughout the rest of that day for Belle to get the chance to speak with her daughter alone, but once her suspicions were aroused, she did spend a lot of time watching Thaddeus and Beth together.  To the casual observer there were no obvious differences in the manner of how the two young people interacted with each other.  Jesse was certainly oblivious.  But Belle was not just a casual observer, she was a mother and she knew her daughter very well.

  The quiet smiles the two of them exchanged, a hand on his arm, a caressing of her hair—a gentle kiss on her cheek when he thought no one was looking.  Yes.  By the time evening rolled around and Belle was knocking quietly on her daughter’s bedroom door there was no longer any doubt at all in her mind that the relationship had changed dramatically.
 
  “Beth, may I come in?”
 
  “Yes Momma,”  came the quiet and resigned response from inside.
 
  Belle entered the room and softly closed the door behind her.  Beth was sitting on the edge of her bed, with her hands folded in her lap and looking as guilty as a cat in butter.  Belle smiled at her daughter’s discomfort and sat down on the bed beside her,  putting an arm around her shoulders to give her a gentle hug.
 
  “I take it that your relationship with Thaddeus has gone through some changes?”
 
  Beth bit her lower lip again.  “Yes Momma,”  she admitted very quietly.
 
  “Are you happy about it?”  Belle asked her.  “Is it what you wanted?”
 
  Beth brightened up. “Oh yes Momma!”
 
  “Thaddeus didn’t pressure you, or force you in any way?”
 
  “OH!  No!”  Beth was adamant.  “Actually it was more….”
 
  “The other way around?”  Belle finished for her daughter.
 
  Beth looked guilty again.  “Yes.”
 
  Belle smiled and then let go a deep sigh.  “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,”  she reflected.  “You always were more outgoing than your sister.  Once you decide you want something…..”
 
  “Then you’re not mad?”  Beth asked with hope starting to rise up.
 
  “Well, I’m not mad, but that doesn’t mean I’m pleased about it either,”  Belle informed her.  “The proper thing would have been for you to wait for your wedding night, just as you sister did.  At least, I hope that’s what your sister did.”
 
  “Did you and Papa wait for your wedding night?”
 
  Belle sighed.  She had hoped that neither of her daughters would ever think to ask her that.  “No.  No we didn’t,”  she admitted.
 
  “Were you sorry you didn’t wait?”  Beth asked.  “Did it ruin your wedding night?”
 
  Belle smiled in fond remembrance.  “No it didn’t,” she said.  “Actually I have to admit that it took away the stress of the wedding night, so we were able to really enjoy our first time together as a married couple.”  Then she turned serious.  “But that doesn’t mean that this can carry on,”  she told her daughter.  “You took an awful chance but it’s done now and there’s nothing we can do about that.  I just hope you’re going to get away with it this one time—but no more!  Do you understand?”
 
  “Yes Momma,”  Beth agreed.  “Even Jed has said much the same thing.  We have to wait.”
 
  “Good!”  Belle was relieved, and then she sighed.  “I don’t like keeping secrets from your father, but in this case I think we will all be better off if he doesn’t know.  Oh, your father would skin Thaddeus alive!  But no more!  And I’ll say as much to Thaddeus too if needs be!”
 
  Beth smiled, relieved that she hadn’t been chastised more severely but in hind sight, she should have known that her mother would understand.
 
  “Thank you Momma.”
 
  Then mother and daughter hugged and Belle gave her daughter a kiss on the forehead.
 
  “Now, will you come down and join us for evening tea?”
 
  Beth nodded.  “Yes.”
 
 
  A couple of evenings later, Jed was out in the barn getting the horses settled in for the night.  It was about half an hour before the gloaming would set in and though there was a bit of a chill in the air, it was still pleasant enough for Belle and Jesse to be sitting out on the front porch with their cups of tea.

  Jed was trying to build up the nerve to go and speak with them.  Beth was occupied inside, giving her brother a bath and then getting him ready for bed; it was the opportune moment.  Now or never.  No guts no glory.  The early bird gets the worm—no that’s not right.  That one doesn’t really apply.  Oh, God he was nervous!  If it wasn’t for the knot in his stomach he was sure he’d be throwing up.  Even the palms of his hands were sweating—this was ridiculous!

  Finally he stepped out of the barn and looked over towards the house.  There they were, sitting casually on the porch, drinking their tea.  He should just go over and say his piece; now or never…his legs wouldn’t move.  He rubbed his palms on the seat of his pants.  They’re talking together—were they talking about him?  He heard Belle laugh—oh they’re laughing about him now, wasn’t that just great!  Oh brother!  It’s going to be dark soon, he needs to get over there and get this done!
 
  “There he is now Jesse,”  Belle commented, with a smile.  “I’m sure this is it.”
 
  “What makes you think he’s going to ask now, after all this time?”  Jesse asked her.
 
  Belle shrugged.  “Oh, just put it down to women’s intuition.”
 
  “Huh hu,”  was Jesse’s only comment to that.  “Well he certainly looks nervous enough.  Oh, he seems to have lost the ability to walk straight—he’s going in circles now.”
 
  “Poor man,”  Belle commiserated.  “We should put him out of his misery.”
 
  “I have a gun in the house,”  Jesse suggested.
 
  Belle laughed.  “Don’t you dare!”  she teased him.  “Well, if he doesn’t get over here soon under his own steam, I’ll call him over.  Otherwise Beth will be done with Jay and the opportunity will be lost and we’ll have to go through this all over again.”
 
  “Heaven forbid!”  Jesse exclaimed under his breath.  Then…”Oh, here he comes.”
 
  “Evenin’ folks,”  Jed greeted them nervously, again rubbing his palms on the seat of his pants.
 
  “Good evening Thaddeus.”
 
  “Evening Jed.  The horses all settled in?”
 
  “Ahh, yup.”
 
  Silence.
 
  “Something on your mind Jed?”
 
  “Ahh, yup.  Ahh, Yessir.”
 
  Silence.
 
  “Yes?”
 
  “Well, I was hoping that….Ahhmmm… I mean I’ve know Beth for a long time now and well….I know I’m a lot older than she is and I don’t really have much to offer her other than just me…..but I was thinking…..”
 
  ‘Oh brother.’  Jesse thought to himself. ‘This is worse than Steven.  Come on Jed, out with it!’
 
  “Ahhmmm,” Jed was stumbling.  “Well, I was hoping that you would let me see your daughter.”
 
  “You see her all the time Jed,”  Jesse pointed out.  “You hardly need my permission to do that.”
 
  Jed stood with his mouth open for a moment, looking at Jesse.  Oh, he was making a mess of this and he knew it.
 
  “No, I mean—I would like your permission to court her,”  Jed finally got out.
 
  “Ohhh!  To court her!”  Jesse repeated.  “Well this is a surprise.  We certainly didn’t see that coming.”
 
  “Jesse!”  Belle quietly reprimanded him.
 
  “Oh,”  Jed mumbled.  “Well, I know I don’t have much education, I mean not like Steven or David for that matter and I don’t really know yet what I’m going to do to provide for her, I mean, I haven’t really given that much thought yet what with Heyes still in prison and all.  I mean, I’m sure Beth could do much better than an old worn out saddle tramp like me…..”
 
  “Are you trying to talk your way into this family or out of it?”  Jesse asked him.
 
  “Well…into it.  I hope.”
 
  Silence.
 
  “Oh for heaven’s sakes!”  Belle broke under the strain.  “Of course you have our permission Thaddeus!”  Then she came down the steps to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  “And we’re pleased to give it!”
 
  Jed went weak in the knees with relief and then he was grinning foolishly and returned Belle’s hug.
 
  “Jeez!  You had me worried there for a minute!”
 
  “Only a minute?”  asked Jesse as he also approached Jed and then shook his hand and gave him a slap on the back.  “I must be losing my touch.  Of course you have our permission Jed.  We were beginning to wonder what was taking you so long to ask.”
 
  “Oh!  Well…”
 
  “C'mon!  This calls for something stronger than tea,”  Jesse announced.  “Let’s go inside and have a drink.  It’s getting dark out here anyways.”
 
  The small group made their way indoors and then Jesse went over to the cabinet and took out the bottle of brandy that was only poured for those ‘special occasions’ and then took out four shot glasses so that everyone could have a celebratory toast.
 
  “Where’s Beth?”  the father asked, looking around.
 
   Beth poked her head out from the kitchen.  “I’m here,”  she announced quietly, her whole body anxiously asking the question and awaiting the answer.
 
  “Yes,”  Jed told her with a huge grin.
 
  “Yes!?”  Then she bounced into the room and threw her arms around Jed’s neck.  “Oh!  I’m so happy!”
 
  Jed laughed and returned her hug.  “So am I—and relieved!  I don’t think I was that nervous at my trial!”
 
  Then Beth jumped around to her parents, hugging them and thanking them each in turn.
 
  “Oh Papa!  Thank you!....Momma!  Thank you!  I’m so happy!”
 
  “Good!”  said Jesse as he handed out the glasses.  “You’re supposed to be.”  Then he raised his glass in a toast.  “To my daughter; Bethany, sweetheart, you’ve grown into a fine young woman and I couldn’t be more proud of you.  I know that this is just the first step towards a more serious commitment, but it is a first step that I am very pleased to be able to condone.  May it be a joyful journey!”
 
  Everyone raised their glasses.
 
  “Thank you Jesse.”
 
  “Thank you Papa.”
 
  Glasses tapped and everyone took a drink.  Beth grimaced.
 
 
  Heyes’ whole face broke into a smile as Jed sat down at the table opposite him.
 
  “You did it, didn’t ya’!”  Heyes stated right off the bat.
 
  “Did what?”  Jed asked him.
 
  “Don’t give me that ‘did what’!”  Heyes threw back at him.  Then he sent a furtive glance back at Pearson and leaned forward with a whisper.  “Ya’ did Beth, didn’t ya’?”
 
  “Jeez Heyes!  Do ya’ havta put it like that?”  Jed sighed.  He should have known he wouldn’t have been able to hide it from Heyes.  His cousin could read him like one of those dang books he was always delving into.  “But yeah, we…got together.”
 
  “Yeah!  Ha ha!”  Heyes was so happy he was almost bouncing out of his chair.  “That’s great Kid!  It’s about time!  Was it good?”
 
  “Well yeah.”  Jed shifted a little uncomfortably.  “Course it was good.  We….well, you know….we…yeah, of course it was good!”
 
  “Aww, that’s great Kid,”  Heyes was still grinning.  “And Beth’s happy?  You didn’t hurt her did ya’?  You didn’t scare her off?”
 
  Jed sent his cousin an incredulous look.  “Of course I didn’t scare her off!  I was real gentle.  What is this?  You’ve never been overly interested in my love life before.”
 
  “Yeah, but this is different,”  Heyes defended himself.  “I mean, this is the real thing right?  This is the real thing, right?  You’re not just stringing her along?”

    “Of course it’s the real thing!”  Jed threw back at him, all indignant.  “What kinda guy do you think I am?”

  “Well,”  Heyes shrugged.  “A guy.”

  Kid sent him ‘the look’ X 2.  “You’re a fine one to talk!  How many broken hearts have you left in your wake?”

  “Well, it’s not like I’m getting any in here,”  Heyes mumbled with a disappointed frown.  “At least not the kind I want.”

 Kid paled slightly and looked uncomfortable.  “Oh.  I never thought....”

 “Naw, don't worry about it,”   Heyes told him with a shrug.  “One fella tried when I first got here but he didn't get very far,”  he smiled wickedly.  “And it probably took him a good month before he was able to try with anyone else too.  No—those fellas leave me alone now.”

 “Well that's good Heyes,”  Kid said and meant it.  “It just never occurred to me that stuff like that would go on in here, but I suppose....it does make sense....”

 “Oh yeah,”  Heyes agreed adamantly.  “Doesn't mean I gotta take it though.  No, the only excitement I can look forward to is getting second hand details from you.”

  “Yeah, well you’re not gonna be getting much of that anymore either,”  Jed informed him.  “Beth and I are officially courtin’ now so I won’t be visiting the brothels anymore.”

  “Really?”  Heyes asked a little incredulously.  “So….You staying celibate now, or are you and Beth gonna…..”

   “NO!  We’re not gonna!”  Jed insisted.  “That one time, well it just happened.  I respect Beth so no, we’re gonna wait until we get married.”
 
  “Ohhh, I see,”  Heyes sounded skeptical.  “You’re planning on getting married soon then?”
 
  “Just as soon as we get you outa here Heyes.”
 
  Heyes brows went up.  “Ahhh, jeez Kid.  I mean I really appreciate you wanting to wait for me, but that could be a while yet you know.  You really think you can hold out that long?”
 
  “Well, I’m just gonna have to,”  Jed insisted.  “Beth and I discussed it and neither one of us wants to get married until you can be there too.  And I promised Jesse that since Beth and I are now officially courting that I would stay away from the brothels.  That was the agreement.”
 
  Heyes continued to look skeptical.  “That’s a good deal?”
 
  “Yeah Heyes!  It is!”  Jed defended himself.  “A lot better than the last ‘deal’ we made!  I’m just gonna have to be strong.”
 
  “Uh huh,”  Heyes commented.  “You said that before, and look how long that lasted.”
 
  “Yeah well,”  Jed looked a little abashed.  “I’ll just have to try harder.”  Then he grinned.  “Look at it this way; it’ll give me even more incentive to get you outa here sooner!”
 
  Heyes grinned broadly.  “Yeah, there is that!”  Then he sat back and scrutinized his partner.  “Do Belle and Jesse know about your little ‘indiscretion’?”
 
  “Belle does,”  he admitted.  “Jesse doesn’t.  And we’re all gonna try to keep it that way.”
 
  “Hmmm, that’s wise,”  Heyes agreed.  “Still, how do you feel about that?”
 
  “I don’t know,”  Kid contemplated the question.  “I thought I would feel guilty about it, you know; going behind his back like that after everything he’s done for us and all.  But I don’t, but now I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.  You know what I mean?”
 
  “Knowing you, yeah, I know what you mean.”
 
  “What does that mean?”
 
  “Well…just that you feel obligated to Jesse—we both do,”  Heyes explained.  “and well, fathers are pretty protective of their daughters.”  Here Heyes allowed a whisper of a sardonic smile to touch his lips.  “Even I’m aware of that,”  he mumbled.
 
  “Yeah,”  Kid agreed quietly.
 
  “And you know that what you did was going against him,”  Heyes continued.  “so you think you should be feeling guilty about it.  One the other hand you and Beth are adults and your intentions are honourable, you’re not just using her and then throwing her aside—you’re planning on marrying her.  So, as adults there’s no reason for you to feel guilty.  You kinda put yourself into a no win situation there Kid.”
 
  “Yeah I know,”  Jed agreed.  “All the more reason why we can’t let it happen again.”
 
  “Hmmmm, yeah well.  Good luck with that one.”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  “So, how’s Karma doing?”  Heyes asked, sensing that it was time to change the subject.  “Is she in foal again?”
 
  Kid brightened up and grinned.  “Yeah, we’re pretty sure she is and at this point I’m tending to agree with Jesse that she’s gonna have a colt this time.”
 
  Heyes creased his brow.  “Everybody keeps saying that, but I don’t get it—how would you know?”
 
  “Well Beth explained it to me and then showed me the breeding records to back it up,”  Kid said and proceeded to repeat the hypothesis in much the same manner that Beth had.
 
  All the way through this monologue Heyes’ expression became more and more skeptical and by the time Curry was finished Heyes was looking at him as though the whole world had gone mad.  Even Pearson had given a cynical snort at the conclusion of this discourse and Curry felt himself at a bit of a disadvantage.
 
  “I know it sounds incredible,”  Curry conceded.
 
  “Uh huh,”  Heyes agreed, along with a disbelieving nod from Pearson.
 
  “But it’s all right there in the breeding records,”  Curry insisted.  “Over the years that Jesse has been breeding horses, this is the pattern that has emerged so I would have to agree that Karma is going to give Jesse a colt this time.”
 
  Heyes shrugged.  “Okay Kid,”  he relented.  “I guess time will tell.”
 
  “Yeah, that’s what I said,”  then Kid smiled and moved the conversation along.  “There’s something else that Karma did that totally amazed me—I just didn’t think horses would do such a thing.”
 
  “Oh yeah?”  Heyes face beamed with pride in his mare, even though he had no idea what she had done.
 
  Then as Kid proceeded to inform them of Karma’s encounter with the cougar, both inmate and guard listened with amazed intensity, neither one quite believing what they were hearing.
 
  “That’s incredible!”  Pearson commented.  “I’ve never heard of a horse doing that.”
 
  Both ex-outlaws glanced back at the guard and he just shrugged his shoulders in his own defense.
 
  “Well it is!”  he insisted.
 
  Heyes looked back at his cousin with a smile.  “He’s right.  That is incredible.”  Then he sat back and his expression turned reflective.  “I mean, I always knew that she was intelligent and loyal, but I never would have thought that a horse would do something like that.”  Then a hint of sadness drifted across his face.  “She and Beth must have a really close bond.”
 
  “Yeah Heyes, they do,”  Curry agreed.  “But Beth will be taking over Daisy for her riding horse because, even she knows that Karma is your horse.  She doesn’t want to move in on that. Belle thinks it’s more because Karma has become a mother and is in foal again, so her protective instincts are really high right now.  She recognized the cougar as a threat and acted accordingly.  Thank goodness she did too, cause I wouldn’t have been able to stop it.”
 
  “Wow, that’s amazing,”  Heyes reflected quietly.  Then he grinned.  “I always knew she was a good horse.”
 
  “Yeah Heyes, she’s a good horse,”  Curry conceded the point.  Then he turned serious again.  It was obvious to one who knew him so well that there was something else on his mind but that he was reluctant to bring it up.
 
  “What is it, Kid?”
 
  “What?  Oh…well, I was just thinkin’….”
 
  “What?”  Geesh, Heyes hated it when the Kid had something to say but was having a hard time getting it out.  All it did was add to the suspense.
 
  “Well, I was just thinkin’….”
 
  “Yes,”  like a teacher to a shy student.
 
  “Well, I know that we’re comin’ up on the second year anniversary of you bein’ in here, and I was just…..”
 
  Heyes smiled ironically.  “And you were just wondering how I was handling it.”
 
  “Yeah,”  Kid admitted.  “You took it kinda’ hard last year, so….”
 
  “Yeah I know,”  Heyes agreed and then he kind of shrugged his shoulders and looked away.  “I don’t really think about it anymore.  You know—whatever.”
 
  “What do ya’ mean ‘whatever’?”  Kid asked.  “I mean, I’m relieved that you’re not depressed like you were last year, but now you make it sound like it doesn’t matter—like ya’ don’t care anymore.  You’re not given’ up on us, are ya’ Heyes?”
 
  “No! No,”  Heyes insisted.  “I guess I’m just more accepting of things being the way they are now.  I look at Lobo and see how he’s fighting everything and everybody, every step of the way and looking at it from this end now I can see the futility of it.  Then you said that I was just as bad—worse, even when I first got here.”  He took a deep breath and shook his head.  “It’s just not worth it.  It’s like hitting your head against a brick wall.”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  Heyes grinned.  “Then I look at Kyle and there he is walking around with that same old grin on his face all the time.”  Then Heyes outright laughed.  “I’m thinking that he’s got it over all of us.  He’s just coasting through his sentence Kid, he’s gonna make it and he’s gonna get outa here and be none the worse for it.”
 
  “Yeah, well don’t forget that a lot of that is because you’re protecting him,”  Kid pointed out.  “If you weren’t in here with him I doubt he would be so easy goin’ about it all.”
 
  “Yeah good point,”  Heyes agreed.  “I just wish that Lobo would let me do the same for him, but you know Lobo.”
 
  “Yeah,”  Kid agreed emphatically.  “How’s he doin’ with that cough?”
 
  “Better,”  Heyes nodded.  “Doc Morin gave him a tonic to help ease it and I make sure he takes it.  But I’m still worried about him.  If he gets sick this winter it could easily be the end of him.”
 
  “Do you want me to ask Belle to knit him a sweater and stuff?”  Kid asked.  “I know she wouldn’t mind doing it.”
 
  “Yeah,”  Heyes agreed.  “Sister Julia has already brought over some winter things for them, but the more the better I suppose.  I don’t really need any more clothes,” he grinned again.  “Some of Belle’s home baking always goes over well.  Ahh, more candles oh and writing paper.  What they give me here hardly lasts a week.”
 
  “Okay, I’ll tell her,”  Kid assured him.  “I should be able to get in here a couple of more times, but here we go again—full steam into winter.”
 
  “The winters are hard alright,”  Heyes agreed.  “Not having any visitors is the worst of it, now that I have enough clothes to ward off the cold.  But then getting letters from everyone makes up for it a little bit.  It’s always kinda nice coming back to my cell to find parcels and letters sitting there waiting for me.”
 
  “Well, you know the girls will keep on writing,”  Kid assured him.  “David’s kinda busy now that he’s a family man but he does ask after ya’ Heyes and I know he’ll write if he can.”
 
  “Yeah, I know,”  Heyes agreed.  “I expect Bridget is going to have other things on her mind too now that she’s married.  Life goes on.”
 
  Pearson shifted and gave a little cough.  The partners’ didn’t even bother to acknowledge the signal—they both knew what it meant.
 
  “Okay Heyes,”  Kid said.  “I’ll try to get in again next month. Steven might come with me then too, bring you up to date on what’s going on.”
 
  “Sounds good.”
 
  “I’ll see ya’ Heyes,”  Kid said as he stood up.  “Take care of yourself.”
 
  “Yup,”  Heyes agreed, and then smiled.  “And you take care of that young lady of yours.”
 
  Curry grinned.  “Yeah, I will Heyes.  See ya’ later.”


Last edited by Keays on Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

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

PostSubject: Los Veintos   Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:51 am

  Winter hit hard and early that year.  One day Heyes was standing outside in the yard and smelling the cold freshness coming in on the late autumn breeze that blustered around him. Then the next day the prison was covered in a thick blanket of snow that didn’t look like it was going anywhere any time soon.  Everyone settled into the regular winter routine and prepared to wait out the cold months as best they could with what they had.

  As usual, Heyes kept a close eye on his two charges, making sure they stayed warm and were eating and drinking enough to keep healthy.  Lobo’s cough didn’t seem to be getting any worse from the colder temperatures and Heyes was beginning to relax and hope that the wolf was going to make it through his first winter okay.  Kyle continued to be Kyle and as long as he had a steady supply of chewing tobacco, he was content enough.

  There were still the usual tensions around the work floor area.  It just didn’t seem to matter who was coming and going or how long they were all in one another’s company.  There were always those silent little challenges making their way around the assembly and the pecking order was always in flux.

  Very few of the lower end inmates bothered Heyes, they all knew where he stood and by the same token, they didn’t bother Kyle much either, knowing that he was under Heyes’ protection.  They all kept a wary eye on Lobo though, just waiting for him to show some sign of weakness, but the ready snarl and hard stare from him was still keeping most of them at bay.

  Boeman and Harris and MacKenzie as well, though to a lesser degree were still circling the pack.  They were still hoping to get Heyes off by himself at some point, but now that winter had set in and everyone was confined to the indoors, that scenario was becoming less and less likely—there were just too many guards and other inmates around to single anyone out from the pack for any length of time.

  Ames had proved himself to be a thinking young man.  He figured it out along with everyone else that Kyle was being protected and decided early on to buddy up with that particular inmate.  His intentions were not totally narcissistic as he did like Kyle well enough and everyone needs a friend in here. But he was also hopeful that by sticking close to Kyle the reign of Heyes’ protection would fall onto him as well.  He had no illusions as to his place in the natural scheme of things.

  The winds continued to blow outside the prison walls and nobody wanted the work detail of heading outdoors to clear away the front gate or the road leading into the yard.  It was just too cold.  Then Christmas itself turned out to be a misery.

   On the 23rd of December a blizzard hit Colorado and Wyoming and it kept everybody locked down and indoors for close on to a week.  Those guards who happened to be on duty when the blizzard hit were not able to go home and shifts were set up so that everyone had enough down time to get through but still leave enough guards on duty to keep things quiet.  Even Doc Morin couldn’t get home for his customary few drinks at the end of yet another depressing day and that was making him downright sourly.

  Then to make matters worse, the Sisters of Charity could not get to the prison on Christmas day so even that small pleasure was deprived the inmates for the time being.  There were many assurances being put about that they would still come bearing gifts just as soon as the weather permitted, but it still made the actual day bleak and depressing.  Even Dr. Slosson was not able to get in to conduct services and everybody was snarky.

  Heyes spent the day in his cell, laying on his cot and all bundled up in numerous layers of warm clothing.  He was drinking coffee and trying to read ‘A Christmas Carol’—again. But on the most part he just ended up staring at the same page over and over and thinking about what a crappy Christmas this had turned out to be.  He didn’t even have any cookies!

  On top of that, the guards weren’t in the best of moods either.  Most of them had families at home celebrating the holiday as best they could, but of course, the guards were all stuck at the prison and couldn’t join them.  The attitude of the prisoners’ was hardly sympathetic.  Actually, it was more along the lines of; now you know what it’s like to be stuck in this hell hole day after day, night after night!  Suck it up!

  The next day, down on the work floor everybody was still in foul moods, inmates and guards alike so it didn’t take much to light the spark and set off the explosion.  The only question after the fact was; had it all been part of an elaborate plan, or was it simply certain individuals taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity?

   Heyes was working along side Kyle trying to attach some particularly coarse straw to the handle of a broom when a loud crash from over on the other side of the room caused everyone to jump and look over.  Heyes couldn’t really see what was going on at first, but he had seen the beginnings of enough fights by now to know the signs of an altercation.  Within seconds the dynamics on the work floor had changed and the inmates were beginning to cluster around a section of the floor where the two combatants were obviously getting after it.

  The code of silence was quickly broken as the onlookers began rooting for their favorite fighter and the guards were making a concentrated run towards the upheaval, bully clubs out and ready to break up the throng.  Yells of encouragement were coming from the onlookers while certain curses and grunts were emanating from the two combatants and the battle seemed to be escalating rather than abating with the arrival of the guards.

  Heyes had put his work tools down and was about to head over in the direction of the fight when he felt Kyle grab hold of his sleeve.   Heyes looked around to meet those stark blue eyes which on this occasion were expressing a little bit of fear and worry.  Kyle shook his head and mouthed the word ‘no’.  He obviously didn’t want Heyes to get involved in the altercation.

  Heyes put up his hand in a gesture to indicate that everything was alright. He was the medical assistant, after all and he felt that he should at least be in the vicinity just in case some of his abilities in that field were required.  With the bad weather he didn’t know if Morin was even at the prison so somebody needed to be on hand.  He had no intention of getting too close and certainly none of getting involved, but Kyle still didn’t like it.

  Heyes moved off, and Kyle stayed where he was, his back up against the work table.  He looked around him with an anxious expression, suddenly feeling quite vulnerable and then he brought his eyes around again to watch Heyes’ disappearing back.  Now Kyle enjoyed a good fist fight as much as the next outlaw—so long as he wasn’t in it—but the fights in the prison were violent and brutal, often resulting in a lot of blood letting and that was too much for him.  Now there was the best friend he had in this place heading right towards it and Kyle couldn’t help the knot of dread that was starting to take over his stomach.

  Heyes came up behind the wall of inmates, being very careful to keep his distance as everyone was fully focused on the center ring and none were too concerned as to where the surging sea of humanity took them.

  The fight was still going on as Heyes could hear the two men shouting at each other, not to mention the crash of splintering wood and of metal utensils clattering to the floor.  The guards were still trying to get their way in through the mass in order to break it up, but one of the challenges of a good fight was to keep it going.  The only way to keep it going was to keep the guards from getting to it and breaking it up.

  All of a sudden Heyes felt a tingle of fear shoot up his spine and then anger tightened his jaw as he heard some of the inmates yelling out encouragement to both of the combatants.  ‘C'mon Lobo—let em have it!’ and ‘Jeez Harris, you’re usually faster than that!’
 
  ‘Oh crap!’  Heyes thought.  ‘Lobo’s involved—what a surprise!  When is that idiot going to learn that he’s not up to a fight?!’
 
  Heyes started trying to actually push his way into the group in order to get to his friend, but wasn’t having any more luck than the four guards were.  This was getting frustrating and Heyes was getting madder.

  Then suddenly there was a loud, collective ‘Whoaaaa!’ from the group and then everybody had turned on their heels to make a fast get away before any of them could get singled out for punishment.  Heyes was fighting just to stay on his feet and not get swept away by the onrush of humanity and continued to push his way in towards the epicenter.

  The guards weren’t paying too much attention to Heyes and were more concerned with getting the larger group of inmates broken apart and heading back to their work stations before everybody ended up in a lockdown situation.  Tempers were high due to the enforced bad weather confinement and more than one inmate received bruises from bully clubs before the situation was settled into normal routine again.

  In the meantime, Heyes was ignoring the sounds of battle coming from behind him as he zeroed in on the prone figure of a man laying on the floor by a knocked over work table.  Heyes groaned in disappointment as he recognized Lobo, clutching his torso and gasping for air.  Heyes ran over to him and was down at his side in an instant.
 
  ‘Oh no, this isn’t good!’  Heyes thought as he leaned over his friend.  Lobo’s hands were covered in blood and he was grabbing at his sweater, trying to pull it away from the wound in his left side.

  Heyes grabbed his hands and held on.  Lobo was fighting to breath and fighting to talk at the same time.
 
  A very gurgled “Heyes!” made its way passed his lips but then that was followed by a very frightening rush of foamy blood and air bubbles.
 
  Heyes felt real fear clutch at him and he pulled Lobo’s sweater and tunic up and away from the gaping wound in the man’s side.  Harris had slid a knife in between Lobo’s ribs, puncturing his left lung and then had pulled the knife out, leaving him there to drown in his own blood.

  Bubbles were popping their way out of the wound as air was leaking from the injured lung and Heyes quickly pressed both of his hands over the open gash, trying to seal it off—trying to save his friend from suffocating.
 
  “Just hang on Lobo!”  Heyes encouraged him.  “They’ll have gone for the Doc—he’ll be here any minute.  You’ll be alright.”
 
  “No!”  came the harsh, gurgled response.
 
  “No, it’s alright Lobo!  Just….”
 
  Then Lobo started to fight.  He tried to roll away and was pushing Heyes’ hands off the gasping wound and the air began to bubble forth again.
 
  “No!  Lobo, what are you doing!?”  Heyes grabbed his friend and rolled him onto his back again and tried to re-establish his pressure hold over the wound, but Lobo was having none of it!
 
  The wolf showed his teeth in a bloody snarl and lashed out at Heyes, knocking him back and off balance and more precious air surged from the damaged lung.
 
  “No!”  It was more like a strangled gurgle than a word.  “Let’m die!”
 
  “What?!”  Heyes couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  “No!  Come on now!  You’re talking nonsense!  Doc Morin will be here any minute….”
 
  “NO!”
 
  Lobo tried to sit up, pushing Heyes away from him again, fighting with him with what little strength he had left.  Suddenly he fell back, gasping and then the harsh coughing hit him and he rolled onto his side and vomited frothy blood.  Heyes held onto him, feeling desperate, trying to get him to accept help.  Where was Morin?  Please let him be at the prison today!  Come on—let him be here!

  Lobo lay back again, relaxing and just for the briefest of moments Heyes thought that his friend had given up struggling and was going to accept help.  But one look into Lobo’s glazed over eyes crushed that hope and Heyes’ heart sank  Then another rush of foaming blood gushed from his mouth and Heyes heard the now too familiar sound of a gurgling death rattle in the throat, and his friend went limp and was quiet.

  Heyes was shaking and gasping for air himself.  He was in shock.  How could Lobo have done that?  He’d just…just let go!  He hadn’t even tried to fight for his life!  Just the opposite in fact—he’d fought to die!  How could he have done that!

  Heyes’ bloody hands grabbed on to Lobo’s and he held on tight.  He fought to keep his emotions down, to not allow the tears to come forth.  The last thing Lobo would want would be for Heyes to cry over him!  Heyes continued to gasp in lung full’s of air and then swallowing down the tightness in his throat, he sat back on his heels and stared down at the dead man as though he just couldn’t believe it.

  Then Morin was there, squatting down on the other side of the prone man and Heyes raised his sorrow filled eyes up to meet his.  Morin reached over and put a hand on Heyes’ shoulder and then looked down at the body lying between them.
 
  “Nasty wound,”  he commented quietly.  “and considering he was already weak in that area, it’s not surprising that he didn’t make it, Heyes.”
 
  “It’s not that,”  Heyes murmured, disbelief still mingling with his sorrow.  “He fought me Doc.  He didn’t even want me to help him.  He just…..”
 
  Morin nodded his understanding.  He gave Heyes’ shoulder a bit of a squeeze.
 
  “Yup,”  he said.  “Some of ‘em do that.  Decide they’d just rather be dead than be here.  He pretty much indicated that right from the start though, didn’t he?”
 
  Heyes dropped his eyes and nodded.  “Yeah, he did.”
 
  Morin patted Heyes’ shoulder a couple of times and sending his assistant a reassuring smile, started to stand up.
 
  Then from across the work floor, back where Heyes’ station had been there came the clatter and yelling of another fight breaking out.  Heyes couldn’t believe it!  What was with these people today?  Heyes showed no inclination of getting up to go investigate this time, figuring that since Morin was already here then he could deal with any medical issues that might arise.

  But that decision got turned around on him very quickly when he heard Kyle’s voice raised in a yell and then the crash of a table being pushed over.  The inmates began their whooping again and another fight was definitely on! 
  Heyes sighed, but stood up and turned to go investigate when he felt Morin grab his shirt sleeve.
 
  “No, Heyes.  Stay outa this one,”  the doctor suggested.  “This is too much of a coincidence.  You’re being set up.  Stay out of it!”
 
  Heyes shrugged.  “It’s one of my men,”  he stated bluntly, as though that should have been obvious and then turned again and headed over towards the sounds of the altercation.
 
  Heyes started the journey over to the other side of the floor at a reluctant walk, but as fear rose up in him that Kyle was going to end up the same way as Lobo, the walk became a run and the run became a charge!  He hit the back wall of men and started to force his way through using elbows and knees to jab and punch anybody who didn’t move aside fast enough.

  A quick scan of the assembly before him showed Murrey, Davis and Thompson doing their best to get this second insurrection shut down, but with Pearson and Reece busy dealing with some of the more unruly rebels from the first fight, they were having a hard time of it and not making much headway.  Heyes pushed through and found himself front row center of the second fight and his anger rose up another notch at the audacity of the assault.  MacKenzie was standing behind Kyle and was holding the smaller man in an arm lock rendering him practically harmless while Harris came at him with a broken table leg.

  Heyes had to hand it to Kyle though, because despite being ganged up on he was holding his own.  Smaller than Heyes and of a gentler nature, he was still wiry and tough and could move pretty fast when he had to.  Despite Mac trying to hold him still, Kyle still found a way to twist and turn and duck every time Harris took a swing at him.  The blood running from his nose indicated that he hadn’t been successful every time but it would seem that poor Mac was the recipient of the blows more often than not and he was starting to get pissed.

  Yelling out his indignant anger Heyes ducked his head and made his charge, aiming for MacKenzie.  He hit him with a full body check from the side, sending himself, Mac and Kyle all sprawling to the floor in amongst a tangle of arms and legs and prolific curses.  Harris was getting mad now and he came at the prone group, and swinging the table leg like a sledge hammer he came after Heyes with malicious intent.

  If it hadn’t been such a violent attack it would have been funny.  Kyle had quickly rolled under a work table to get out of the way while Heyes was on his back watching Harris and keeping his eyes on that club of wood.  He twisted and turned and rolled back and forth, using his legs to knock over chairs or move tables—anything to keep out of striking range of that table leg.  Harris was roaring with frustrated anger, looking very much like a man attempting to club to death a rat that was refusing to stay still!

   The three guards on the floor were still trying their best to get through the jeering jostling crowd but they really were fighting against the tide.  Carson was on the run from the warden’s office where he had been discussing scheduling when he’d gotten word of trouble down on the work floor.  Pearson and Reece had deposited their trouble makers into their cells and were also on the run back towards the scene of the crime. Morin was simply doing his best to stay out of the way, confident that his services would come in handy later.

  Meanwhile Mac had scrambled to his feet and was doing his best to stay out of swinging range of Harris as well when quite unexpectedly a hand nipped out from under a table and Mac had his leg snatched right out from under him.  Mac went down hard; taking a table and a whole box full of working utensils with him and then Kyle was out from his hiding place and sitting on Mac’s chest started punching him for all he was worth.

  Unfortunately Mac was a much larger, heavier man than Kyle and though the Devil’s Hole member got in a number of very effective blows it wasn’t long before Mac got fed up with it, and twisting his torso over was able to dislodge the smaller man and send him skidding.  Then Mac was up and grabbing Kyle by the front of his tunic hauled him to his feet and began punching him in the face.  Kyle started yelling and brought his arms up over his head to ward off the blows, but aside from that there wasn’t much else he could do to escape the assault.

  Heyes was seeing red, and hearing Kyle yell set his blood to boiling.  He knocked over yet another chair to block Harris’ attack and then was on his feet and charging before the other man had a chance to recover.  Heyes hit him full on with a shoulder block and both men were sent sprawling into the sidelines, taking four or five members of the spectators down with them.  Everybody scrambled out of their way and the two adversaries were on their feet again, but Harris decided that he’d had enough.  He’d been up against Heyes before and now that the odds were no longer in his favour he dropped the wooden table leg and turning tail, pushed his way through the crowd and out of the fight.

  Heyes grabbed the discarded club and made a run for MacKenzie and swinging the weapon low he rammed it full force into the back of that inmate’s knees, collapsing his legs out from under him.  Mac gasped with pain and surprise, and let go of Kyle. He then buckled and started to go down just as Heyes again swung the club and cold cocked him behind the ear, concussing him into the floor and out of the fight.

  Heyes looked up to meet Kyle’s eyes just in time to see those blue orbs suddenly widen with surprise and then Heyes felt someone grabbing his tunic from behind.  Thinking it was Harris coming back for more—or maybe even the oddly absent Boeman—Heyes swung around and brought the club down onto the top of Thompson's shoulder!  There was a loud crack as Thompson’s collar bone snapped and the guard went down to his knees with a shocked yell of pain.

  There was an instant heartbeat of silence as every inmate in the place stopped what they were doing.  Then as if in a collective agreement every one of them turned tail and headed at full speed back to their cells, the memory of their last all out riot still too fresh in their minds for any of them to be wanting a repeat.

  Heyes stepped back in surprise and dropped the wooden table leg to the floor with a loud clattered.  He knew he was in trouble now even before the first bully club landed its blow. Then the guards were onto him whacking and batting him as he went down and he curled himself into a ball, bringing his arms over his head, trying to protect himself.  But the blows and kicks kept coming until he thought his world was going to explode.

  He could hear Kyle yelling, and to that man’s credit he was doing his best to get between Heyes and guards, trying to shield him from the blows.  He hated the fact that his ‘boss’ was being beaten simply for trying to protect him.  Then fortunately, for the time being, Carson, Reece and Pearson arrived on the scene and quickly restored order to the chaos.
 
  “Murrey!  Davis!  Back off of ‘em!”  Carson yelled.  “God dammit!  Pearson!  Get that other one over to the infirmary—and take Thompson with you!”
 
  “Yessir,”  Pearson responded, and stepping around the detritus of the fight, he grabbed the still unconscious MacKenzie by the arm and hoisting him up started to drag him in the direction of the medical ward.
 
  Thompson was standing and holding his useless left arm, but he was swaying and looked as though he might just pass out at any moment.  Fortunately Morin was still in the vicinity so he came over to lend the guard a hand.  Turning he glanced down at Heyes and then looked to Kenny.  That guard simply shook his head and rolled his eyes—he wasn’t in charge here, it wasn’t up to him what happened next.
 
  Carson was till swearing.  “Jesus Christ!  Can’t I even go for a meeting with the damn warden without all hell breaking loose down here!?  And what a surprise!  Here’s Heyes right in the middle of it!”
 
  Carson stepped forward and glared down at the prone man who was still rolled in a ball and not moving.  Kyle was sitting on the floor between Heyes and the guards, a protective arm thrown back over his friend’s shoulder.  He was scared to death, looking up at all these men who were armed and bigger than him but was still reluctant to surrender his friend into their mercy.
 
  “Davis!”
 
  “Yessir.”
 
  “Get this one over to the infirmary as well.  I’ll decide on their punishments later,”  Carson ordered with a gesture towards Kyle.  “You tell Pearson to stay over there to guard them and then you get back here pronto—understand?”
 
  “Yessir.”
 
  Davis got hold of Kyle’s arm and started to haul him to his feet.
 
  “No!”  Kyle protested.  “No, I wanna….”
 
  “ARE YOU ACTUALLY TALKING BACK TO A GUARD, CONVICT!!?”  Carson yelled at him.
 
  Kyle cringed and shutting his mouth, instantly looked away.  There was nothing else for it; even he knew that, so with one final disparaging look back down at his friend he allowed himself to be led away.

  Carson then nudged his boot under Heyes’ torso and rolled him over onto his back.  Heyes groaned and opened his eyes; just about every inch of him was hurting.  Fortunately though, he was bruised but not bloody, battered but not broken.  He lay there doing his best just to find a way to breathe that didn’t hurt.

  Squatting down beside him, Carson grabbed Heyes by the front of his tunic and pulled him up into a sitting position.  Heyes gasped and then tried his best to support himself there and not look the senior guard in the eye.
 
  “I swear Heyes; you must be startin’ to like me,”  Carson said to him.  “cause you just gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmas.”  He smiled and gave the inmate a couple of slaps across the face just to make sure he was listening.  Heyes jumped and his eyes opened wider.  “I told you what I would do to you if you ever assaulted one of my guards again—and what do you do?  You go and assault the same guard!  Yep, you must really be startin’ to like me.”
 
  Heyes groaned while Carson stood up and looked over to Reece and Murrey.
 
  “Wait here with him until Davis gets back,”  he ordered.  “then get Heyes over to the hoist.  I’ll meet you there.”
 
  “Yessir.”
 
  Carson turned on his heel and walked away.  Kenny closed his eyes, letting out a dejected sigh.  This was not going to be pleasant.  He shook his head and then looked over to the inmate who was still sitting on the floor and trying not to fall over.
 
  “Aww Heyes, why’d ya’ do it?”  Kenny asked him.  “You assault a guard practically under Carson’s nose and there’s not a damn thing I can do to help you.  What the hell were you thinkin’?”
 
  “He’s one of my men,”  Heyes mumbled quietly.
 
  “Who?  Murtry?”  Kenny confirmed.  “I know that Heyes, but both him and Lobo being assaulted at the same time?  You must have realized it was a setup, and yet you just walked right into it.”
 
  “He’s one of my men.”
 
  Kenny stood silently for a moment and then sadly nodded in understanding.  Then he looked over to Murrey and to Davis, who had just returned and sent them a simple gesture to carry on with their duty.  The two guards each grabbed one of Heyes’ arms and hauling him to his feet, dragged him off to receive his punishment.
 
  Not too many minutes later Heyes found himself in a room that he’d never been in before and it didn’t take him long to know that he didn’t like it much.  It wasn’t a big room, quite small actually and as usual, there were no windows—and no heat.  The floor and walls were of cold concrete and there was a wooden beam stretched across the length of the room about a foot down from the ceiling.  On that beam there was attached a pulley system with a rope running through it with one end running straight down to the floor and the other end angling across to slide through a ring attached to the far wall.  The only furniture in the room was a bench and a bucket with water in it.

  Heyes started to feel a dread clutch in the pit of his stomach.  He was beginning to think that even the dark cell might be preferable over what was going to happen in here.  His teeth started to chatter but whether it was from fear or the cold in this dank ominous room he didn’t know and didn’t wish to scrutinize.

  Davis went over to the bench and picked up a leather strip then he returned to the inmate and pulling Heyes’ arms behind his back, snugly tied his hands together.  And there they stood, waiting with Davis standing beside Heyes and holding onto his left arm while Murrey stood in front so that Heyes had no choice but to just stand still, his eyes looking down.  The knot in his stomach was getting worse.

  Then he heard voices coming towards them; it was Carson and Reece.  Reece was speaking quietly, trying to sound reasonable, but he didn’t appear to be having too much impact.
 
  “Heyes didn’t intend to assault Thompson, you know that,”  Kenny was saying.  “It was a set up to get Heyes into trouble.”
 
  “Well it worked,”  Carson agreed.  “cause he sure as hell is in trouble.”
 
  “You’re letting Boeman play you,”  Kenny continued.  “He’s the bastard who should be in here for punishment.”
 
  “Boeman wasn’t anywhere near either of those fights.”
 
  “Yeah, what a surprise,”  was Kenny’s sardonic response.  “You know damn well that anything Harris does is because Boeman told him to do it.  Harris doesn’t have enough brain cells to think up any of this stuff.  He’s a lackey and you know it as well as I do.”
 
  “Yeah I know it,”  Carson responded as the two men entered the room.  “But if Heyes hadn’t been involved in the fight and holding a weapon then he wouldn’t have hit Thompson—end of discussion.”
 
  “Heyes was only protecting one of his men,”  Kenny didn’t agree that the discussion was ended.  “Murtry was getting ganged up on.”
 
  “The guards were on their way to break it up!”  Carson pointed out.  “The worst Murtry would have got would have been a busted nose or some cracked ribs.”
 
  “Or dead,”  Reece pointed out.
 
  “Lobinskie was already on death’s door!”  Carson was starting to get angry.  “Hardly a surprise—nobody expected him to last the winter anyways!”
 
  “All I’m saying is….”
 
  But Carson suddenly turned on his subordinate finally having had enough of this conversation.
 
  “I told Heyes what I would do to him if he assaulted one of my guards again—and now he has!”  Carson pointed out.  “How much respect would I warrant if I didn’t do what I said I’d do?”  Reece was getting ready to answer that when Carson cut him off.  “NO!  Don’t bother!  You’re a bleeding heart Reece!  If you want respect from these convicts ya gotta let them know who’s in charge!  You can’t expect these outlaws to change who they are!  I knew it would just be a matter of time before Heyes pulled something like this again because that’s who he is—it’s his nature!  The only way to get men like him to submit is to crush them and sooner or later he will submit because I’m not going to give him a choice!  That’s it!  End of discussion!”
 
  Heyes took an involuntary step back as Carson barreled down on him, but all he did was back into Davis and then Carson had him by the arm and was hauling him backwards to the dangling rope.
 
  “You two,”  Carson ordered his guards.  “get over there—get ready to haul.”
 
  Heyes had to admit that he was really getting scared now.  He didn’t know what was coming but he knew he wouldn’t like it, not with the way Carson was so eagerly looking forward to it.  Heyes looked over to Kenny while he felt Carson tie the loose end of the rope to his bound hands and Kenny met his eyes with a tight jaw and a slow burn rising.

  But Kenny was just as helpless as Heyes was in trying to stop this—there was nothing he could do about it.  But that didn’t mean there wasn’t something he could do to prevent it from happening again, and Kenny was just about mad enough now to be willing to take the chance.
 
  “Alright,”  Carson ordered.  “start hauling.”
 
  Davis and Murrey both had a hold on the other end of the rope and they started to pull down on it so that Heyes’ hands started to be pulled up towards the beam.  His breath was coming in gasps now as realization of what they were going to do to him really and truly came home.  He locked onto Kenny hoping that having him to focus on would help him to block out the pain—but it didn’t work.

  Heyes felt his arms being pulled up behind him and then they reached the limit that they could comfortably go, but Murrey and Davis continued to pull.  Heyes’ shoulders took the strain and he began to lean forward as he was slowly being hoisted up off his feet.  Every muscle in his body had tightened up and he closed his eyes and his mouth opened as he felt the strangling fear start in his lungs, force its way up his throat and then burst out in a yell of agony.  His shoulders were on fire!
 
  “NO!”  he was practically crying.  “STOP!  You’re gonna rip my arms out!”
 
  Carson sneered and grabbing Heyes’ chin shook it until the inmate, his breath coming in short ragged gasps forced his eyes open and looked into the guard’s sadistic face.
 
  “No we’re not Heyes,”  Carson jeered at him.  “We’re just gonna make it feel like we are—for the next five hours.”
 
  “No….”
 
  Reece felt sick.  He hadn’t been able to stop this from happening, but that didn’t mean he had to stand there and watch it.  He turned on his heel and walked out, still hearing Heyes gasping in pain until he turned a corner and re-entered the prison proper.

  Pearson spotted him and came over to ask him something, but one look at his boss’s expression caused him to stop in his tracks and head off in another direction.  Reece was beyond fuming; his jaw was tight and his gray eyes had turned to hard steel.  This was the final straw, he’d had enough and if he knew his wife as well as he hoped he did, then she would not only understand the actions he was about to take, but be right in there cheering him on.
 
  Heyes started to hear a buzzing in his head as the room began to spin and then to fade out into a black velvet backdrop with amazing colours shooting and swirling across his field of vision.  All he could hear was that buzzing in his ears becoming louder and louder as the searing pain in his shoulders began to diminish.  Then he felt the strangest of sensations starting in the pit of his stomach and making its way up towards his head like a huge wave of nothingness.

  He felt an overwhelming sense of relief because he knew that he was just on the verge of passing out—yes!  Sweet blackness!  Take him away where he wouldn’t feel the pain anymore, where he wouldn’t feel anything anymore.  Then Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto started dancing across the universe of his mind and the swirling colours were waltzing in sync with the melody; ebbing and flowing, bursting bright and then fading.  Then continuing to fade as the music and the colours were mixing in together and then spiraling away from him, both being sucked into the nothing that became total blessed blackness.

  Then Heyes was coughing, sputtering, fighting to breathe and the searing pain stabbed at his brain again and he was floating inside a gray well of concrete and he was cold and in agony and he just wanted to die.  He was spitting water out of his mouth and it was dripping down his chin as he forced his eyes open to see Davis standing in front of him, holding a tin cup that he’d just used to splash water into the inmate’s face.
 
  “Wake up Heyes!”  he ordered.  “How are you supposed to benefit from the punishment if you keep passing out?”
 
  Then Davis turned and plunking the cup back into the bucket, he sat down on the bench and returned to his watch duty.

  Heyes groaned.  He lost count as to how many times he passed out and how many times Davis hit him with the water.  He tried to hold on to his music but reality pushed through and turned the music into pain.  He tried to focus on his new words to decipher but they all ended up translating into pain.  He tried to think of Karma and their wild, joyous gallops but all the wind brought to him was pain.  Pain filled his world, his universe, his reality.  Pain was all he had; it was all he could ever remember having and it was all that he could foresee in his future.

  He passed out again for the umpteenth time and again was being forced back into wakefulness.  But it wasn’t with water this time, somebody was jostling him.  His head was draped over a shoulder and somebody was holding him and lifting him up, taking the strain off his shoulders.  Heyes’ whole awareness was filled with Kenny’s scent and then relief washed over him as Kenny’s soothing tone drifted through his consciousness and put his mind at ease.
 
  “Take it easy Heyes—I’ve got ya’.”
 
  Four hours into the punishment, the weather had finally cleared enough for Carson to decide it was time to head for home.  He’d been stuck at the prison for nearly three days and felt the need for a beer and a decent meal before grabbing some sack time in his own bed for a change.  Reece had been there just as long, but he had something else to attend to before heading home to his own wife and children and as soon as he was sure that Carson was well and truly gone, he headed back over to the ‘dungeon’.

  Collecting Pearson along the way, the two men entered the room and didn’t hesitate in going about their business.  Reece went straight over to Heyes and getting himself underneath the convict, he brought his shoulder up so that Heyes’ head draped over it and then wrapping his arms around the inmate’s waist, lifted the man up to bring slack into the rope.  Heyes groaned and shifted slightly.
 
  “Take it easy Heyes—I’ve got ya’,”  Kenny assured him and then looked over to Pearson who was standing by the ring embedded in the wall.  “Okay Pearson, untie him and then get over here and help me lower him down.”
 
  Meanwhile Davis had stood up and was looking a little concerned.
 
  “Ahh, Mr. Carson said to give him five hours,”  he commented, a little nervously.  “It’s only been four.”
 
  “Mr. Carson has gone home for the day and that makes me senior guard,”  Kenny pointed out.  “I say he’s had enough.  Do you have a problem with that?”
 
  “Ohm!  No sir Mr. Reece.”
 
  “Good!  You’re relieved of duty for the day Mr. Davis.  Go home.”
 
  “Oh!  Yes sir!  Thank you sir,”  and Davis made a bee line for the exit before his superior could have a chance to change his mind.
 
  Pearson had untied and freed the rope from the ring and then returned to the two men.  He placed his hands on Heyes’ back in order to steady him and Reece slowly bent his knees, taking all three of them carefully down to the floor.  They managed to get Heyes laid out flat on his stomach without jarring him too much and then took a look at his hands.

  His wrists were raw and bleeding from the leather bindings digging in and tearing the skin—and they were tight.  Kenny tried to untie the knots, but the leather was wet with blood and not giving in to the tugging.  Kenny sighed, his jaw tightening in anger again at this brutality.
 
  “You have your knife with you?”  he asked Pearson.
 
  “Yeah,”  and Pearson reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small flat blade that he kept hidden in a sheath under his right arm.
 
   Pearson wasn’t really supposed to carry a knife inside the prison proper in case an inmate overpowered him and got hold of it, but it had come in handy on more than one occasion, and Kenny decided to ignore the rules in this case.  And right now, he was glad that he did.

  Pearson carefully slid the knife between the binding and Heyes’ skin, but it was a tight fit and the skin was swollen so it was not an easy task.  Kenny used his fingers to try and push the skin down so that Pearson could get the point through without cutting into the flesh.  It took some persistence and a couple of close nicks, but they finally managed it and Pearson started to saw away at the leather.

  This part of it didn’t take long and Heyes groaned in pain as his hands came free and dropped to the floor by his side.  He tried to move, tried to get himself rolled over so he could sit up but any attempt to move his arms only resulted in shooting, nauseating pain assaulting his senses.
 
  Kenny put a hand on his shoulder.  “No Heyes stay still,”  he told him.  “The muscles and tendons in your shoulders are going to be badly damaged so don’t even try to move.”

  Heyes tried to answer, but all that came out was a strangled moan. He lay there and just tried to keep breathing.

  “Go over to the infirmary and get the stretcher,”  Reece ordered his guard.  “There’s no way we can walk him over there without pulling on his arms so we’ll have to carry him.”
 
  “Yeah okay,”  Pearson was on his feet and gone before he had even finished confirming the order.
 
  Kenny sat back in a more comfortable position, keeping his hand on Heyes’ shoulder.  He sighed again and a subtle ironic smile flitted across his lips as he shook his head.
 
  “I donno Heyes,”  he commented.  “we seem to find ourselves in this position a little bit too often.”
 
  Another soft moan from the convict. His lungs felt like they were on fire.
 
  Half an hour later, Heyes was stretched out on his back on a bed over in the infirmary.  Kyle was hovering.  He had been over earlier to get treated for his minor injuries from the fight but had pestered and cajoled the Doc so much over the welfare of his friend that Morin had allowed him to hang around until Heyes had been released from his punishment.  Now he had even less intention of leaving and Doc and Kenny both agreed that he could stay and sit with his friend for now if that’s what he wanted to do.
 
  “How are MacKenzie and Thompson doing?”  Kenny asked Morin while he was mixing up a batch of morphine for his new patient.
 
  “They’ll survive,”  Morin grumbled.  “Thompson can go home soon if someone can drive him and then he’ll get six weeks off while that bone heals.  MacKenzie can go back to his cell tomorrow.  I just want to keep an eye on him over night with that concussion and all.”
 
  “Yeah alright,”  Kenny nodded.  “What about Heyes?”
 
  Morin sighed and looked over to the newest patient.  “Jeez that Carson’s a fxxxing axxhole.  Have I said that before?”
 
   Kenny smiled.  “Yeah Doc, ya’ have.”
 
  “Well, it bears repeating!”  Morin snarked.  “Anyway, we’ll just have to wait and see.  I’ll clean up his wrists, but it’s going to take a while for his muscles to heal up.  I’m sure they’ve been pulled out of line pretty badly.  He can probably go back to his cell in a couple of days, but he won’t be doing any work for at least a month.”
 
  “Oh no,”  Kenny groaned.  “He’s gonna be driving everybody crazy.”
 
  “Oh yeah,”  Morin agreed.  “He won’t be able to do much writing either, but he’ll be able to read so, maybe Dr. Slosson can come up with something to keep him occupied for a while.”
 
  “I sure hope so,”  Kenny was emphatic.  “Heyes with nothing to do is like a bear coming out of hibernation.  Maybe we can pawn him off on the orphanage for a while.”
 
  “There’s a thought.”
 
  “Hmmm.  Well Doc, I’m gonna head for home.  I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
 
  “I’ll be here,”  came the fatalistic response.
 
  The two men went their separate ways and Morin went over to Heyes to give him the drug.
 
  “How are you doing Heyes?”  the doctor asked him just to get his attention.
 
  Heyes smiled weakly and looked at him through slitted eyes.  “Kyle’s been singin’ me lullabies.”
 
  Morin’s eyebrows went up and he glanced over at the other inmate.  Kyle looked down at the floor, feeling embarrassed.
 
  “Just some ole’ songs we’d git ta’ singin’ in the bunkhouse,”  he mumbled in his own defense.  “Ain’t what I’d call ‘lullabies.”
 
  “That’s fine,”  Morin told him.  “Keep ‘em coming.”
 
  Kyle grinned.
 
  “Here, help me to get him sitting up,”  Morin said.  “But don’t touch his arms!  Get a hand under his shoulder, like this and then we’ll push him up together.”
 
  “Yeah, okay Doc.”
 
  Once Heyes was sitting up Morin sat on the bed and supported him there with his shoulder and then put the cup up to his mouth.
 
  “Okay Heyes, you know the drill.”
 
  “Is it morphine?”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  “Oh, good.”
 
  Once Heyes had the draft down his throat, Morin went back to his supply cabinet and took out disinfectant, padding, gauze, tape and scissors.  Everything he knew he’d need to get those wrists cleaned up.  Then he returned to his patient, and with the help of his new assistant, got the job done.
 
  Kenny Reece, all bundled up in his coat, hat and scarf—not to mention gloves had retrieved his horse from the stable and was making his way towards town for some well deserved time off.  It was a clear night, the stars bright and sharp in the cold dark sky, but it wasn’t as late in the evening as Kenny would have thought.  One of the things about working three or four days straight without a break is that you tended to lose track of time.

  Quite a few people were still out and about that evening, taking advantage of the break in the weather to do some socializing or just get out for some fresh air.  He nodded greetings to more than one acquaintance as he trotted his horse down the snow packed roadway, heading in towards the main street of town.  He got into a bit of a battle of wills with his animal as they passed by the street leading to their home and he could understand the horse wanting to get back to his own stall and a good feeding, but Kenny had an errand to run before going home and it wasn’t one he felt that could wait.

  He carried on down the road, passed the saloon, passed the mercantile, passed the sheriff’s office and passed the café, and then turned in to the hitching rail in front of the telegraph office.  Much to Kenny’s relief the light was still burning inside, so he dismounted and carried on in to the warm interior in order to take care of business.

  George looked up from behind his counter and his coffee and smiled.
 
 “Hey there Kenny,”  he greeted the local man.  “How’s life behind bars?”
 
  Kenny rolled his eyes.  “Oh brother.  I don’t even want to go into it.”
 
  George smiled.  “Okay.  What can I do for ya’?  There’s nothing here for ya’.”
 
  “No, I know,”  Kenny answered.  “Actually I want to send two telegrams, both with the same message.”
 
  “Okay,”  George got his paper and pencil ready.  “Where are they going?”
 
  “One is going to Mr. Steven Granger, Lawyer.  Denver, Colorado.  And the other one to Mr. Jed Curry.  Brookswood, Colorado.  Both just to say ‘Count me in.’ and then, you know; K Reece.”
 
  “That’s it?”  George sounded a little disappointed.
 
  “Yup.  They’ll both know what it’s about.”
 
  “Okay Kenny.  I’ll get that sent off right away.”
 
  “Thanks.  Good night.”
 
  “’Night.”
 
  Then Kenny exited the office, re-mounted his horse and much to that animal’s relief, pointed his head towards home.
 
 
 
To Be Continued.
 
Authors note; the incident involving the cougar is based on an actual occurrence which took place a few years ago in Montana.  The only real difference being that the equine involved was a saddle mule and not a horse and mules do tend to have the reputation of being not only smarter than horses but also more loyal and protective of their people.  But we all know that Karma is special!
   
 

 
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PostSubject: Re: Los Veintos Chapter twenty-seven   Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:27 pm

Oh, the cougar and the horse was so vividly written!  I loved that.  I also love that you gave this a Spanish title.   So many ways in which things are changing, subtly and also more obviously.   Terrible torture.  Surely that was never legal!?
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PostSubject: Re: Los Veintos Chapter twenty-seven   

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Los Veintos Chapter twenty-seven
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