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 A Chicken in Every Pot

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Join date : 2013-08-24
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A Chicken in Every Pot Empty
PostSubject: A Chicken in Every Pot   A Chicken in Every Pot EmptySun May 25, 2014 5:58 pm

A Chicken in Every Pot



“Uh huh.”


Heyes’s head jerked up as he turned to look at an exasperated Kid standing by the door to the cabin, glaring at him.

“No need to yell, I’m right here.  What?”

“I said you needed to practice shootin’ too.”

“You can do it for both of us.  I’m busy.”

“You’re readin’ the paper.  A leader’s got to be able to hit the side of a barn if he tries, and the amount of time you spend practicin’ these days you’d probably miss it.”  The Kid glanced sideways at Heyes and the corners of his mouth turned up.  “Tell you what, we’ll draw for it.  If you outdraw me, you don’t need to practice.”

Heyes glared then looked away.  He snorted but stood up obediently and walked over to the door, knowing that the Kid would never leave him in peace.


Heyes took an absent sip of coffee while staring at the far wall of the cabin, the paper open on his lap.

The Kid stopped cleaning their guns.  “What is it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I know that look, you’re plannin’ somethin’.”

“Do you remember Culver City?”

“Culver City?  No…”  Curry pursed his lips and frowned.  “Wait, wasn’t that where that fella - what was his name - Boss Simmons - was?”

“Yeah.  Says here they’ve got a big mayoral election coming up in a few weeks.  Pierson’s getting pretty vocal about Simmons too.  Bet Simmons don’t much like that.  Pierson’d better watch out.”

“Didn’t you learn last time?  Nothin’ good will come from mixin’ in that town’s politics.”

Heyes’ grimace acknowledged the truth in the Kid’s comment.  “But we’re older now.  We’re honest to goodness outlaws now, not raw kids.  Why, we’re as crooked as Culver City politics have always been.”

The Kid snorted.  “Yeah, I’d like to see Simmons try to run us out of town, again.”

They stared at each other as both remembered that time:  two scared kids run over by the town’s powerful political machine.  Heyes’ eyes hardened as he remembered cleaning blood from their battered faces and wrapping the Kid’s bruised ribs.  The Kid’s eyes iced over as he remembered Heyes trying to hide the pain of his broken hand.


Culver City

“This seems too easy; somethin’ don’t feel right.”

“Look, Jed, we’re getting paid ten cents a ballot.  And think about it, these folks get a chicken, a sack o’ flour, and five dollars.  Why, they’re much better off.  All they gotta do is mark the ballot where we show them.”

“I thought folks chose who they voted for themselves.”

“Yeah, well, this is how politics really happens.  ‘Sides most these folks can’t read, so someone’d have to help them place a mark anyways.  Why not us?”

“I guess.  That Ol’ Boss Simmons is somethin’ else, ain’t he?”

Heyes rolled his eyes as he thought of Boss Simmons – the bombastic, rotund man who had hired them to bring in the ballots, properly marked of course.

“How many we got now, Jed?”  

Curry counted the ballots slowly, his fourteen-year old forehead wrinkling as he counted.  “… twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty!” he announced.  “That outta be enough, huh?  And that’s three dollars for us.”

Heyes nodded.  “Yeah.  Let’s get our money and get out of here.”

A cynical voice murmured behind them.  “Boys, boys, boys.  Have you no respect for the democratic process?”

They spun around and looked at the world-weary face of J. Boyden Pierson, the owner, editor, and sole reporter of the Culver City Sentinel.

Heyes answered, “We got respect for eating, Mr. Pierson, and this allows us to do that.  Besides the other fella is doing the same thing so it ain’t like it’s not a fair fight.”

“And if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you boys jump too?”

“Huh?” asked Jed.

Pierson frowned as he watched several of Simmons’ enforcers coming up the street.  “Never mind boys, just watch your backs.  I wouldn’t trust Simmons, if I were you.”  He moved away as the thugs walked up to the boys.


Devil’s Hole

Curry slowly picked up the rag and resumed polishing his six-shooter.  “What are you thinkin’, Heyes?  You’ve never been one for revenge.”

“Not revenge, Kid.  Pure business.  Old Simmons was paying five dollars a vote last time.”

“Yeah, plus a chicken and a sack of flour.  So?”

“Well, says here the population of Culver City has been growing, and they expect nearly four thousand voters this time around.  I figure in a couple of weeks, he’s going to need a lot of money, to make those payments and to buy those chickens and sacks of flour…”

“And where else would he keep that money but in his crony’s bank?”  The Kid smiled as he realized Heyes’ plan.

“Yeah, and I have an idea how to increase the take, too.”


Mr. Slattery and Mr. Barton requested the best suite available when they checked into the Culver City Plaza Hotel.

“Happy to be of service, gentlemen,” the desk clerk beamed.  “I must tell you that that room costs five dollars a day.  I hope that’s acceptable.”

Blue eyes studied brown.  Mr. Slattery turned his brown eyes on the desk clerk. “Certainly.  No problem.” He pulled out a twenty-dollar gold piece.  “Here’s four days in advance.” Then he pulled out a smaller coin.  “And here’s something for your help.”

The desk clerk beamed.  “Any time, Mr. Slattery.”

“Now, can you tell us where to buy the best cigars in town?”

“That would be the Emporium, right down the street.”

Mr. Barton turned his blue eyes on the clerk.  “Where’s the best steak in town?” he asked.

“That would be Mr. Simmons’ place, the ‘No Bull Gentleman’s Club.’”

“Well, Mr. Slattery, No Bull it is for dinner.”

Heyes laughed.  “No Bull indeed, Mr. Barton.”


Heyes leaned over and lit the Kid’s cigar.  

The Kid smiled his thanks, took a puff, and then picked up his snifter of brandy.  “I must say Mr. Slattery; this Mr. Simmons sure offers a fine steak.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” Heyes nodded in the direction of the corner where a portly gentleman held court with a number of sycophants and women of dubious repute.  “Seems to be in fine spirits, too.”

“Yeah, so how should we…” the Kid trailed off as a tall, patrician, grey-haired, stoop-shouldered man walked up to their table.

“Excuse me, gentlemen.  You’re new to our little burg, are you not?  Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Pierson, the owner of the local paper.  I always try to greet newcomers to this town.”  He held out his hand as they stood up to greet him.

Heyes shook and then gestured to the empty chair, “Please sit down, Mr. Pierson, our pleasure.”

“Can we get you some of this fine brandy?” the Kid offered.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

He waited until he had been served, observing them closely throughout.

“Is this your first time in Culver City, gentlemen?  I feel as if I’ve met you before.”

“I’m certain if Mr. Barton or I had ever met you before, Mr. Pierson, we’d remember you,” Heyes answered smoothly.

Pierson’s eyes narrowed, and he took a deep sip of the brandy. “May I ask why you’ve graced us with your presence?”  He held up the snifter and smiled.  “Not that I’m complaining, you understand.”

Heyes smiled and glanced at Curry.

“As the owner of the paper, I’m sure you know who the movers and shakers here are.  We are looking to make some investments in Culver City.  Can you point us to the men we need to meet?” the Kid asked.

“What kind of investments?”

“We’d prefer our interests weren’t spread across the front page of your newspaper at this time, Mr. Pierson, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t elucidate.”  Heyes responded.

Pierson grunted and finished his brandy.  Heyes signaled for another round for the three of them.


Pierson finished his third brandy and stood, swayed gently, then righted himself.  “Well, gentlemen, I’m glad to have met you, though sorry I can’t convince you to tell me your business here.”

“Mr. Pierson, we promise that if our business is successful we will let you know.”  Heyes shook his hand and sat back down with the Kid, watching Pierson make his way out of the room, but not before speaking briefly with Simmons.

The two looked at each other and smiled.  Heyes saluted the Kid with his brandy snifter.

“Gentlemen, you’re new to my club, and I wanted to make sure everything is to your satisfaction.”  The large man loomed over them.  “I’m Harvey Simmons; folks around here call me Boss Simmons.  Is there anything I can do for you while you’re here?”

“I saw you had a word with Mr. Pierson on his way out.  Was it in regard to us?” the Kid asked.

Simmons laughed. “I admit I like to know what’s happening in my town.”  His eyes hardened momentarily.  “You should be careful when you speak to Pierson though, he’s a born rabble rouser; he’s likely to give you the wrong impression of my town here.”

Heyes’ eyebrows rose.  “Your town?  You own it?”

“Let’s just say that I make sure things are run the way I want.”  Simmons laughed without humor.  “Now what can I do for you?  Pierson says you’re looking to make some investments here.”

The Kid spoke, “Mr. Simmons, it’s too fine a night to discuss business.  Maybe we could meet with you tomorrow morning to discuss a few matters.”

Simmons’ eyes narrowed; he was not used to being rebuffed.  His smile returned.  “Certainly.  Shall we say eleven o’clock?  Do you know where my office is?”

“I’m sure we can find it.  Good night, Mr. Simmons.”  Heyes and the Kid stood and left the club.  Simmons stared after them, frowning.


“Good morning, gentlemen.  Cigar?”  Simmons escorted Heyes and the Kid into his office, settling all in comfortable arm chairs and offering his humidor.

The partners sat, accepted the cigars, and smiled at Simmons.  “Mr. Simmons, Mr. Barton and I are business men. 
 We’ve been investigating different cities here in Colorado Territory.  Culver City may be just what we are looking for.”

“Yes,” Mr. Barton drawled.  “Culver City may suit our interests perfectly from all we hear.”

“And what are your interests, gentlemen?”

“Railroads,” Curry answered sitting forward.  His blue eyes looked candidly into Simmons’ own.  “Railroads, for now.”

“There is no rail line to Culver City I’m afraid, gentlemen,” Simmons responded with a dissatisfied look.

Heyes smiled, “We’re looking to build one, Mr. Simmons.”  He leaned forward conspiratorially.  “As you know, this territory is likely to become a state in the next few years.  Everyone assumes Denver will become the state capital.  We’d like to see somewhere else, somewhere where we could wield some influence, perhaps Culver City, claim that title.”

Simmons eyes widened and greed warred with incredulity as he considered the ramifications of his city becoming the new state capital.  “Could you manage that?” he breathed.

“First, we need to build a rail line so that businesses are attracted to the area.” Heyes explained.

“And the next step?” Simmons asked skeptically.

“Just a moment, Mr. Slattery is correct that the first step is to build the railroad, which we are prepared to do … but only if we can be certain that the political climate of the city is supportive of our interests,” the Kid cautioned.

“Mr. Barton, we have discussed this.  Culver City seems to have a very stable government.  The current mayor would certainly be supportive of our positions…”

“Yes, Mr. Slattery, but that’s the current mayor.  I’ve told you before that he faces fierce competition in the upcoming election, and the Sentinel supports his opponent.  I’m just not convinced Culver City is our best choice.”  Heyes and Curry baited the hook.

“Now, now, don’t be too hasty.  What if I could assure you that the mayor will be re-elected?” Simmons spoke, taking the bait.

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other.  “Well, if you can guarantee that the current mayor will be re-elected…” Heyes temporized.

“Oh, I can, Mr. Slattery.  I can.”

Blue eyes conferred with brown.

“Very well.  We are prepared to hand you one thousand dollars earnest money that you can hold in a bank of your choice here in town.  But in exchange, we would expect a ten thousand dollar investment in the railroad to be paid the day after the election.  That investment would entitle you to a fifteen percent share in the railroad.  We, of course, will hold the remainder of the shares.”

“Ten thousand dollars!?”

“Surely that isn’t a problem for you.  Don’t you want shares in the railroad line heading to the state capital, Mr. Simmons?”  Heyes looked at the Kid.  “Mr. Barton, perhaps you are right.  Sorry to have taken your time Mr. Simmons.”  He stood, as did the Kid, and held out his hand.

“Now just a minute, just a minute” Simmons blustered.  “Ten thousand the day after the election?  Yes, I can certainly manage that.  And you say you’ll leave one thousand here as earnest money?”

Heyes and the Kid smiled and sat back down.  “We can go to the bank together this afternoon to put it in a safety deposit box, if you wish.”


Heyes, the Kid, and Simmons stood on the steps of the Merchant’s Bank of Culver City.  

“It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Simmons.  We’ll be back for the election.  We’ll check with you a day or two before to make sure you were able to come up with your share, and, once the results are known, we can discuss the next steps.  We look forward to joining you in the new state capital.”


The Devil’s Hole gang paused beside a stream.

Heyes and the Kid examined at them.  “You all know your jobs.  Wheat, you and the boys wait here for two days then come on in.  Find a boy to bring a message to Mr. Barton, when you get to town.  Don’t be late.  We’ll take the bank that night.  Hank, you and Lobo stashed the spare horses safely, right?”

“Of course, Heyes.  Lobo’s with them now.”

“All right we’ll see you in Culver City in two days.”


Heyes and the Kid stepped off the stage and collected their bags.  The Kid nudged Heyes, directing his attention to a nearby building that had burnt down.  The remains were still smoldering.

“What happened?”  Heyes stared.

“Well, gentlemen, and I believe I use that term loosely.  Since you two left town, the politics have gotten worse in our little burg.  Boss Simmons stepped up his efforts, which I dutifully reported.”  A jaded, weary, soot-stained Pierson had walked up behind them.  “I don’t think three brandies will compensate me for the loss of my livelihood.”

“Mr. Pierson, was that the Sentinel office?”

“It was, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to you two.  In the past, Simmons had always ignored my campaigns against the political corruption in this town.  But for some reason this time, ever since you two left town, he’s been desperate to win.  No doubt that,” he pointed towards smoldering ruins, “is the work of his thugs.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the Kid stated.  “You’ll be able to rebuild, won’t you?”

“No, not this time.  The Merchant’s Bank holds my mortgage, and I haven’t the money to rebuild.”

“Well, don’t despair, Mr. Pierson.  Culver City needs its paper.  I’m sure something will provide.”


Three days before the election, the Devil’s Hole Gang came to town.  The Kid received a note as Barton and Slattery were sitting down to dinner with their new partner in the railroad venture, Mr. Simmons, after confirming that the ten thousand dollars were in the bank, awaiting the election results.  After dinner and drinks, the two returned to their hotel.

At one a.m., by prearrangement, they met the gang at the back of the Merchant’s Bank.

Wheat kept lookout at one end of the alley, and Hank at the other end.  Heyes picked the lock and they entered the building.  Heyes quickly walked to the safety deposit boxes and pulled out his, picked the lock for which he did not have the key and retrieved his one thousand dollars, before returning the box to its position.  He also took the time to look through the rest of the papers in the boxes, before grunting and extracting one.

He handed the money to the Kid and headed to the safe.  He bent down, placed his ear against the door and, within minutes extracted the money.  Closing the safe he nodded to Kyle to set up the charge and blow the main safe.

Kyle hesitated, his brow furrowed.  “Heyes, why are we blowing the safe when we already have the money?”

“So they don’t know we took it,” he explained patiently.  “Make sure it’s a long fuse.”

The three quickly exited the bank and joined Wheat and Hank.  

The town was shocked out of bed by the roar of the explosion.  The five men reached Jess holding the horses, mounted, and sped out of town.  

Hours later, as dawn was approaching, they pulled up to the old farmstead where Lobo was holding the spare horses.

“Okay, men, we’ll split the money here.”

“But, Heyes!   You and the Kid always hold the money till we get back to the hole.”

“Yeah, well, we have business to attend to.  We’ll meet you back at the Hole in a few days.”

The money was quickly divided, the tack changed, and the fresh horses mounted.

The two nodded to their men and took off.  


 “Now what, Heyes?”

“Now, we return to Culver City.  We have business to attend to.”


Election day J. Boyden Pierson walked into his front room and found an envelope on a side table.

He looked around and noticed one of his windows was open.  He frowned, certain that he had shut and latched it the night before.  Shaking his head, he opened the envelope and pulled out a note:

Mr. Pierson, we do believe in the democratic process, and no, we would not jump of a cliff just because everyone was doing it.  We hope this is sufficient to get you back into print.

He examined the remaining contents of the envelope – finding his mortgage and five hundred dollars.  He shook his head, puzzling over the note.  Suddenly, he remembered a long-forgotten conversation with two young boys.  He grinned and pocketed the money.


Heyes looked up from the paper he was reading to see an exasperated Kid glaring at him. 


“You need to practice.”

“In a minute, Kid; you’ll want to see this.”

“What is it?”

Heyes handed him the Culver City Sentinel.  “Look at that, first edition since the fire, says right here that the mayor lost the election.  Also, the new mayor is promising to clean up the corruption, starting with the arrest of Boss Simmons for ballot tampering.”

The Kid smiled.
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Join date : 2013-08-28

A Chicken in Every Pot Empty
PostSubject: Re: A Chicken in Every Pot   A Chicken in Every Pot EmptyMon May 26, 2014 5:40 am

Loved the story - the Hannibal Heyes plan to get back at Simmons.  Nicely done!!
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