Alias Smith and Jones Fun and Fanfiction
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PostSubject: Coffee   Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:41 am

So, are you all ready for a new month and a new challenge? We have a topic which I know will stimulate, invigorate and energize. It'll also be close to at least one member's heart. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is:


 coffee Coffee
It can be a colour, beans, drink, drug of choice, subject of an argument or any other creative spin your devilishly cunning minds can come up with.

Oh, and don't forget to finish up your comments for last month! Our late babies need just as much love as our early ones!
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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:15 pm

Dear Map, who can I thank for having the good taste to select this glorious subject for this month? 
Whoever you are, well done!!
 jump face 

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:38 pm

It's the birthday girl, Remuda, you have to thank.  coffee  Yes, I did think of you immediately!


Now...how can I get this switched to tea?
 Tea  
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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:14 pm

You did good, Remuda! 
 applause 

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:26 pm

Mere Words Part 3




The Kid raised his head from the bunk and peered at Tibby’s scrubbed figure being carried into the cell next to theirs.  He was starting to come round, probably prompted by the buckets of water they had heard sloshing about in the backyard, and the vigorous swabbing, removing every trace of the blood and gore from his corpulent little frame.  It was a pink, polished, and punch-drunk hobo who was deposited on the bunk on the other side of the bars from the partners.  He had been dressed in a shabby shirt and dungarees from the church welfare’s box of cast-off clothes, his stubby feet buried in clothing far too long for him.  




“Why have we been locked up?” Heyes fixed the lawman with his most angelic look.  “We were only paid to find a tramp for a lady who said her father had taken to the road.  We’re innocent bystanders.  We called you.”




“I ain’t never seen anythin’ like it,” snarled the grizzled lawman.  “The place was a bloodbath.  Nobody’s goin’ anywhere until I find out what’s goin’ on.”  He narrowed his eyes suspiciously.  “Sheriff’s still over there with the doc.  I’m the deputy.”




“His deputy?” The Kid raised quizzical eyebrows.  “Ain’t they usually young fellas startin’ their career?  You’re a bit long in the tooth for this job, ain’t you?”




He shook his grey head.  “I’ve been the deputy here for nigh on thirty years, son.  I ain’t got no wish to be sheriff; they get shot at, have punches thrown at them, and the last I saw of the latest, he was pickin’ up intestines and puttin’ them into a bucket.  Now why d’you think I’d want to do a damn fool job like that?”




The Kid chuckled.  “I see.  I guess you’re lucky you got a boss who doesn’t make you do the dirty work.”




The deputy gave a cunning glint.  “What?  With my back?  He could try, I guess, but Gus Tallmadge has forgotten more wrinkles than he’ll ever know.”




The door opened and the sheriff walked in carrying a galvanized bucket.  “Offal!” he announced, dropping it on the desk with a clatter.




“It sure is awful,” Gus nodded.  “I ain’t ever seen the likes of it in my life.”




A man in a black suit closed the door to the sheriff’s office behind him.  “No; it’s offal.  It came from a pig.”




Gus gave the growth of stubble on his chin a rasping scratch.  “That ain’t no way to talk about that poor woman, Doc!”




The doctor dropped his hat on the desk and perched beside the bucket.  “No.  It’s offal, the innards of a pig.  It’s not human.  It looks fairly close, but I’ve dissected enough of them to know the difference.”  He arched his eyebrows in query, scrutinizing the men in the cells.  “There’s no body either.  Would any of you care to tell us what the Sam Hill is goin’ on here?”




Heyes grasped the bars and pressed his face between them.  “No body, but what about the pile of clothes in the corner?”




“That’s exactly what it was, son.”  The sheriff folded his arms.  “A pile of clothes, covered in intestines, blood, bits of pig’s innards; then at least a bucketful was thrown around the room for good measure.  It was a set up.  Now; I got an angry hotel owner who wants someone to pay for the damage, and I also got you three.  Start talkin’.  What’s goin’ on?”




Heyes threw up his hands in resignation.  “We have no idea.  A Mrs. Fox said her father had some kind of breakdown and was living as a tramp.”  He pointed at Tibby.  “She wanted us to persuade him to meet her so she could talk sense into him.  That’s all we know.  We went to the room after a while and found him unconscious; we found the mess too.  We’re innocent bystanders.  We are the ones who called for the law.”




“The old man’s not injured,” the doctor murmured.  “I think he’s been drugged, judging by his pupils, his pulse rate, and the fact that his snoring sounds like a rutting boar stuck down a well.  Let’s see what he’s got to say when he wakes up.”   




***********




Tibby’s consciousness ebbed and flowed until he was more in the land of the living than the land of Nod.  His bloodshot eyes flickered open, only to find himself staring into a pair of hostile dark eyes.  He would have preferred the intense dark eyes to be much further away than the next cell, but right now the convenient barrier of a set of bars would have to do.  Tibby shook his head but the throbbing pain moving in his head like the clapper of a dissonant bell, convinced him that staying still was a better idea.  




“Tibby!” Heyes hissed.  “I don’t take kindly to being thrown in a prison cell for no good reason.  Have you got that?”  Tibby groaned and pulled the thin pillow over his face, only to find it dragged through the bars to the next cell.  “Tibby, we took you to that hotel room, and stayed to make sure you got out of there, because I gave you my word.  The next thing we knew, Mrs. Fox had disappeared, and the place was like an abattoir.”




The Kid’s voice drifted in from behind Heyes.  “You can’t hide in there forever, Tibby.  The sheriff wants’ answers too.”  Tibby closed his eyes, only opening them at the simultaneously unsettling and comforting words from the Kid.  “Mrs. Fox has gone, so we’ll have to look after you now.  My friend here will confirm that we ain’t never used fake blood.  Isn’t that right, Joshua?”




“Never, we’re sticklers for realism,” Heyes agreed.  “So, what are you going to tell the sheriff?”




Tibby took a deep breath.  “Can you two keep a secret?”




Heyes narrowed his eyes.  “Yes, but in your case we’ll make an exception.  You’re trouble, Tibby, and the sooner we can put some distance between us and you the better I’ll like it.”




“You got paid, didn’t you?” Tibby whined.




Heyes turned and leaned his back against the bars.  “We want to know what you’re going to do to make this up to us.”  He paused letting his words sink in.  “And make no mistake; you will.”




“I didn’t do this.  Callie did,” Tibby protested, weakly.




“Callie?  Mrs. Fox?”  Heyes shrugged.  “You know her well, and you knew what was going on, but did you warn us?”




“I warned you over and over again, but it didn’t make any difference.  You wanted the money!”




“That ain’t what we want any more,” muttered the Kid, joining Heyes on the bed and pressing his back on the bars towards Tibby’s helpless frame. 




Gus wandered over, alerted by the voices.  “So, you’re up?  You want some coffee and then you can maybe tell us what’s goin’ on?”




Tibby nodded meekly.




The lawman’s eyes narrowed, glancing at the couple in the next cell.  “Have they been givin’ you a hard time?”  Hurt glittered in the innocent brown and blues in the next cell, clearly miffed at such an unjust accusation.  Gus grinned at the partners.  “I wouldn’t blame them if they did.  You ain’t a part of this or you wouldn’t have called the law.  You’d better come up with some good answers, old man.  The manager of the hotel ain’t pleased at the mess in his room.”




Heyes gave their jailer his most innocent smile.  “Any chance we could get some of that coffee too?”




**********




Tibby sat in his cell cradling the coffee, having been fully appraised of what had happened after he had lapsed into unconsciousness.  “Tell the manager of the hotel, the damages will be paid for.”




Gus gave a mighty guffaw.  “Oh yeah?  Do you expect us to release you on that?  A vagrant says he’s got the money to redecorate a room, so we just accept that?”




“I’m not a vagrant.”  Tibby raised the cup drinking deeply.  “I’m a writer, posing as a tramp for a story; what it’s like to be a knight of the road, how folks treat you; that sort of thing.”




The deputy frowned.  “You got anyone who can back that up?”




“My editor.  Send a telegram to Charles Miller in New York.  He’ll confirm and pick up the bill.”




“So what was all that about?  Why were all those pig innards spilled all over the place,” demanded Heyes, leaning on the bars of his cell.




“I’m working on a story, and so is Callie; the same one, and she’ll to anything to get there first.  She had been travelling dressed as a boy, and obviously thought she could beat me to publication if I was locked up.”  Tibby shook his grey head.  “She’s ruthless and known for it.  I didn’t want to see her, but you boys had been kind to me and she was paying you to bring me to her.  I thought it was a good way to repay your goodness.”




Heyes and Curry exchanged a glance, knowing that kindness played little or no part in Tibby’s decision to see Mrs. Fox.        




“It would seem that she drugged me and messed up the room, hoping that I’d be inconvenienced in custody for long enough to give her enough advantage to scoop the story.”  Tibby twinkled as engagingly as he could, raising his little, turtle head.  “She’s a mad-woman, but there’s no real damage done, not if the room’s paid for.”




Heyes folded his arms.  “And why should we accept your word for this?”  




“Nobody was hurt and the damage will be rectified.”




Gus scratched his face.  “What is this story?”




Tibby turned oval, grey eyes on the group.  “Hey, she hasn’t published yet, and needed information from me; so she isn’t doing so great.  If you think I’m putting the story out there to let someone else get it, you’ve got another thing coming.”




“So that’s why she wanted to see you?  To check what information you had?”  Heyes frowned.  “Something doesn’t add up here.  She must have known you wouldn’t tell her; not if you’re rivals.” 




Tibby scowled at him.  “She mostly wanted to do something to get me locked up, and stop me from continuing my work.  It would seem that she achieved her end; for now.”




Heyes folded his arms. “Who do you write for?  I’ve never heard Tiberius Dunbar; with or without an ‘F.’”




“I write under a pseudonym.  Have you ever heard of ‘Dogberry?’?”




Heyes’ jaw dropped open.  “I sure have!  You’re Dogberry?”




Gus and the Kid exchanged a glance.  “Dogberry?  That sounds more like a mongrels leavin’s than some fine writer,” the deputy grinned at Tibby.  “What d’you write about?”




“Social injustice, mostly,” Tibby bridled at the lawman, “and Dogberry is a Shakespearean character from ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”




“Much Ado About Nothin’, is it?”  Gus chortled.  “That kinda sums up what’s gone on today; somethin’ and nuthin’.  We all thought a mad axe man was on the loose, now it seems more like a pair of prissy writers havin’ a hissy fit.”  The deputy shook his head.  “Well, we’d better get that telegram sent, so we can get you all outta here.  I’ve got a woman comin’ round.”




“Chloroform wearing off, deputy?” muttered Tibby.




“Huh?”




“Ignore him, Gus.  He could cause a fight in an empty house.”  The Kid glared at Tibby.  “And you; try to keep out of trouble, at least until we get outta here.”




**********




Heyes and Tibby sat back to back in their respective cells, leaning on the bars separating the ex-outlaw leader from his current source of irritation; but what annoyed him most was the curiosity worming through his anger.  There was a lot more to this story, and he wanted to know what that was in spite of himself.  He picked at the meal on the tin plate, before setting it aside, his mind gyrating with speculation.  The Kid picked up what looked like a piece of leather, eyeing it with disdain.  “This is the toughest chicken I’ve ever had in my life.  I’m expectin’ it to call me out for a fight.” 




Heyes cleared his throat.  “Let’s have it, Tibby.  What’s really going on?”




“I don’t know what you mean.”




“Tibby, We’re going to get out of here sometime, probably very soon.  You haven’t told the half of it.  Are you really Dogberry?”




“Yup.”




“The man who wrote the exposé on corruption in the orphanages?” 




“You mean, the children being forced to do piece-work for money which went straight into the staff’s pockets, as well as the substandard food served?”




Heyes nodded.  “What else have you written?”




“Don’t get me started.  There were the mental hospitals, the building contracts for sale, the bridge in New York which collapsed  after the officials took a cut to keep quiet about cheap materials being used, children being sold like livestock; you name it.”




“Well, I’ve got to admit; you seem to know Dogberry’s work.”  Heyes turned to look at the little man.  “So who’s Callie?  I’ve never heard of Mrs. Fox.”




Tibby flicked his head round to give an impish glint.  “You don’t think either of us can post those stories under our real names, do you?  We’d never be able to infiltrate anywhere again.  Callie, Mrs. Fox, writes under the name of Calliope, the name of the goddess of epic poetry.”  Tubby gave a sigh.  “If you ask me she should write under the name of Nemesis, the Greek goddess of revenge.  That’d be nearer the mark.  She’s a real tough lady.”




Heyes tilted his head back, staring at the ceiling while he processed this information.  Calliope and Dogberry were certainly rivals, and their respective newspapers played that up in order to whip up a following, and show that each had a bigger social conscience than the other.  “So, just why was Calliope, Callie, chasing you, and why did she have men out to get you?”




“Mr. Smith, do you really think I’m going to share everything with a man who has already been employed by my biggest rival?”




Heyes’ voice became serious.  “Yes, Tibby, I do.  Let me remind you, we’ll be out of here soon and I want answer as to why I’ve been locked up.  You can tell me here, or you can tell me out there somewhere; but make no mistake.  I want to know what you got us mixed up in.  Neither you, nor your writing buddy, seem to care too much what you have to do; results are all that matter.  I’m a quick learner and I can sure do that too.”




“Yeah, he’s known for it.”  The Kid nodded.  




“For being a fast learner or doing what it takes to get results?” asked Tibby.




“Take your pick,” the blue eyes sparkled mischievously.  “We like results.”   




Tibby placed his plate on the floor of the cell.  “Yes, I get results, thanks.”




“I’m not complimenting you; I’m threatening you.” Heyes turned fixing the small man with a harsh glare.  “This is nothing to do with a ‘Knight of the Road’ piece.  What did you, and your arch enemy, get us mixed up in?”




Tibby smiled, glad yet again that there were bars between him and these imposing men.  “You’re a smart man, Mr. Smith.  It’s just a shame you weren’t smart enough to pick a better alias.”




Heyes stood, facing Tibby through the bars.  “The world’s full of people called Smith.  It’s a common name for a reason.”  He folded his arms.  “The truth, Tibby; Dogberry doesn’t do quaint, folksy tales.  He does cutting exposés and investigations, and in order to do that you have to get down and dirty.  What did you get us mixed up in?”




Tibby sighed, glancing surreptitiously at the deputy, reading a dime novel with his feet up in the desk.  He stuck his face through the bars and faced the ex-outlaws.  “I don’t suppose there’s any harm in telling you.  There are men going missing in droves around here, and the authorities just don’t seem to care.  That’s why I was pretending to be a tramp, the men who disappeared were homeless drifters,” Tibby smiled, his eyebrows arching with sudden inspiration.  “Like you two...”  A pair of cornflower-blue eyes slid slyly from one partner to the other.  “My cover’s blown here, but you two could work for me.  You could mess up, grow beards.  You could make great tramps, and no one would recognize you.  Are you looking for easy money, boys?”




“What do you mean?  I ain’t a tramp.  I’m real careful with my appearance,” the Kid blustered, pointing at Heyes.  “Look at my hat, then look at the state of his.  If anyone should play a tramp it should be him.  We got these at the same time and all I’ve changed was the band.  He had those holes within months.”




Tibby snickered.  “I’ll pay real good money, how about it, boys?  Once my editor gets the hotel bill sorted you’ll know I’m who I really say I am.  I’ll pay real good money, boys.  With a pair who can handle themselves on board we stand a good chance of saving some lives.”     




The partners exchanged a glance.  “Yeah?  So, we look like the kind of folks who’re disappearin’ and work with two of the slipperiest weasels we ever met.”  The Kid folded his arms.  “Danger on all sides.  What could go wrong?”




“Weasels?” Heyes shook his head.  “That’s unfair to the beasts.  I’ve read about this new journalism, and the people who are involved in it; as virtuous as a buzz saw in a kindergarten.  We all know how much your word’s worth, don’t we, Tibby?  How can we possibly work with you?”     




********** 

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:58 am

Okay, I admit, I couldn't help it. Yet again this little snippit from Twist of Fate fit in so nicely with this month's prompt that I just had to post it. On top of that, with all the talk about favorite characters who only had bit parts in the series, my little waitress, Lisa really became a favorite even though we only see her very occasionally. Again it is going to be a busy month for me but I will try to come up with something original once my practicum is over with. Hope you enjoy reading this again.



The two cousins walked into a pleasant cafe that Jed had become well acquainted with over the past four or so years and Heyes' mood instantly brightened up. He grinned as the enticing aromas of home cooking filled his senses and he could almost feel his mouth start to water in anticipation.

“Oh yeah, I am hungry,” he happily admitted.

“Good!” Jed laughed. “That makes two of us.”

They seated themselves down at an empty table that gave them an open view of the street and the people passing by. Heyes settled back in the chair and grinned. Slowly but surely he was beginning to believe that this was really happening, that he was really a free man. He was feeling good. Blue eyes locked onto brown and the Kid smiled.

“How ya' doin' Heyes?”

“Good. Let's eat!”

Then, as if on cue the waitress came over to their table with some menu's and a smile.

“Well, good afternoon Jed!” she greeted her repetitive customer. “Kinda surprised to see you here in the middle of the week.”

“This is sorta a special occasion,” Jed informed her. “This here is my partner, Hannibal Heyes. Heyes, this is Lisa.”

Heyes stood up, removing his hat and sent Lisa his most charming smile.

“Ma'am.”

“So I finally get to meet ya'!” she greeted him, taking note of his dark brown eyes. “You're about all Jed would talk about whenever he'd come in here for vittles.” Then a thought occurred to her and she put on a slight pout. “Now that your partner's been released, does this mean we won't be seein' ya' around these parts no more, Jed?”

“Yeah, well Lisa I am sorry to say that that just might be the way of it,” Jed admitted. “but I surely will miss your smilin' face and your wonderful cooking!”

“Oh what a charmer you are!” she teased him. “Here ya' go. Take a look at the menu's—see what ya' want.”

“Oh I don't need a menu,” Heyes stated with a glint in his eye. “I know what I want. A nice thick beef steak, medium rare—that's what I want!”

Kid grinned. “Yeah, sounds good.”

But Lisa frowned and shook her head.

“Oh no, you don't want that,” she said, looking directly at Heyes.

Heyes frowned back at her. He might be having difficulty with making some choices, but this wasn't one of them. “Yes, I do want that.” he insisted.

“You're just new released from the prison, ain't ya'?” Lisa challenged him.

“Yeah, but what's that got to.....”

“Aww, sweetie,” she tutted, shaking her head. “with the gruel they've been feedin' ya' up there, your innards wouldn't know what to do with a beef steak.”

“But....” Heyes looked totally devastated. “I've been craving a beef steak for years! I've been looking forward to having a beef steak! That's what I want.”

Kid looked distraught just seeing how disappointed Heyes was. The waitress shook her head again.

“Take my word for it darlin',” she insisted. “you order a beef steak and you won't get a quarter of the way through it before you'll be runnin' for the back alley. Then it'll all be wasted anyways.” She leaned forward and put a consoling hand on Heyes' shoulder. “Now we got some real nice chicken stew simmering back there—how about I bring ya' a bowl of that, with some fresh baked bread?”

Heyes looked at the Kid, almost pleading for help.

“Chicken stew?” he repeated, not even trying to hide his disappointment.

“Believe me sweetie,” she continued. “your innards wouldn't be able to handle a beef steak just yet. Ya' gotta work your way up to that. It's real good stew—lots of vegetables. You'll like it.”

“Oh well,” Heyes submitted. “I guess I'm having chicken stew.”

“There ya' go! You won't be sorry,” she smiled at him and then turned to the Kid. “And how about you? What will you be having?”

“Ahh....” Kid really had his heart set on a juicy steak himself, but seeing Heyes staring down at the table, looking so dejected, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. “You know, that chicken stew sounds pretty good—I think I'll have me a bowl of that too.”

Heyes looked across the table at his cousin, and smiled.

Lisa smiled at him as well, knowing full well that he always ordered a steak when he was in town, but she didn't let on—not one little bit. “Mighty fine!” she agreed. “You fellas like some coffee to start off with?”

“Sure.”

She went off to place their orders and then returned quickly with two cups of steaming coffee.

“There ya' go!” she announced as she placed a cup down in front of each man. “I'll be right back with your stews.”

And off she went to deal with that. Both Heyes and Kid picked up their cups and blew the steam away. Heyes was looking forward to this almost as much as he had been to the steak. Finally, real coffee! And he could tell, just by the aroma that it was the real thing—not that watered down dish water they called 'coffee' up at the prison.
Both men took a sip. Then suddenly both men grimaced with disgust.

“Eeww!” they both verbally complained. “That's so strong/weak!”

They stopped and looked across the table at each other in disbelief and then both of them spoke again at the same time.

“You think this is weak/strong!?”

“Heyes, this coffee tastes like dishwater!”

“I was thinking it tasted more like ground up mud.”

Just then Lisa headed over their way again bringing with her two bowls of steaming stew.

“What's the matter?” she asked, noticing their expressions. “The coffee not good?”

Heyes just looked up at her with his mouth open, not quite knowing what to say.

“What did you do to it?” Kid asked, not being hindered by a tied tongue. “The coffee here has always been real good!”

“Oh, did I get them mixed up? I'm sorry,” she apologized and then smiled at Heyes. “You see, after years of drinkin' that coloured water they call coffee up at the prison your taste buds wouldn't know what to make of real coffee anymore. So I always water down the coffee for you fellas who are new out of there.” Then she switched, and smiled at the Kid. “I probably gave you a cup of the watered down coffee by mistake and your friend the full strength brew. Just do a trade and then see what ya' think.”

The partners looked at each other across the table. This was strange. Oh well. They switched cups and each took a tentative sip and then both men smiled.

“There ya' go!” Lisa rejoiced. “Better ain't it?”

“That's more like it!” Kid agreed.

Heyes looked a little put out. “You mean I'm drinking watered down coffee?”

“Don't ya' like it?” Lisa asked him a little concerned again. “I do make it a little stronger than what the prison does, but is it too strong?”

“NO!” Heyes was adamant. “It's just right. That's what worries me.”

Lisa smiled and put a reassuring hand on Heyes' arm. “Oh don't you go worryin' about that! It'll just take ya' some time and you'll be right back ta' drinkin' the strong stuff!”

“Oh, okay.”

“Go on fellas!” she told them. “Dig in! Enjoy your suppers.”

They both looked down at their bowls of stew, almost afraid to dip into them. Finally Heyes picked up the spoon and sampled a bit of it. His brows went up in pleasant surprise and he smiled.

“Yeah, it's good,” he said over a mouthful, and then took some more.

Kid took courage from his partner and sampled the wares himself.

“Hmm yeah,” he agreed. “it is good.”

“Mighty fine!” Lisa stated, then disappeared only to return lickidy split with a plate full of warm freshly baked bread with butter. Both men looked up and smiled. This meal was turning out pretty good after all.

Ten minutes later Kid had finished off his bowlful and was soaking up the gravy with some warm bread when Heyes gave a sigh and leaned back in his chair. Jed was busy chewing on a mouthful but still looked over at him and sent him a garbled inquirery.

“Wa's madder?”

Heyes took a deep breath and put down his spoon.

“I think Lisa was right,” he admitted regretfully. “I'm even finding this kinda rich. It's good but I don't think I can eat anymore.”

“Really?” Kid almost looked stunned—and hopeful. “Ya' hardly ate any of it Heyes. You sure you're full?”

“Yeah,” Heyes nodded and pushed the bowl away. “You wanna finish it up?'

“Yeah!” Jed reached over and started pulling the bowl towards himself, but then stopped and cocked a brow at his partner. “You sure though? You had enough?”

“Oh yeah! I'm sure.”

“Great!” and Jed pulled the bowl the rest of the way to replace his now empty one. “Ah, pass me some more of that bread, will ya'?”

Lisa made her way over to their table again and smiled at Jed helping his partner to finish his dinner.

“You boys like any dessert?” she asked them.

“You got anymore of that blackberry pie?” Jed asked her.

“Sure do,” she told him. “That's our best seller.”

“I'm not surprised about that,” Jed agreed. “You gotta try this pie Heyes! I swear it's the best I ever et'!”

“I donno Kid, I'm really fu.....”

“We'll take two slices,” Jed ordered with a grin up a Lisa. “What he don't eat, I'll finish up.”

“Fine,” Lisa smiled at him. Jed always had shown a good appetite. “More coffee?”

This was met with enthusiastic acceptance from both men and she went off to get the two different coffee pots. And the pie.
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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:06 pm

Right. Surprise, I guess.

When I joined here not long ago, I said that I was purely a reader. Well, you guys are a bad influence, with your creativity, kindness, support and encouragement! As soon as I saw this month's challenge theme something happened for the first time in my life: I immediately had a mad bunny jumping around in my head. The result is my first ever finished story. So, please be kind, but honest.



Coffee

They had made camp early that evening.  It was time to talk it out, make a decision before they rode into town tomorrow.  They just could not go on like this.


Long habit let them do the usual tasks easily.  The horses were untacked, rubbed down, watered and then staked out to allow them to graze.  Some stones from the nearby creek and quickly collected dry wood from a windfall provided all they needed for a fire.  Saddles, shaken out groundsheets and blankets would be their beds.  The last of their beans had been used up to cook their meal which had been over far too quickly.  They needed new provisions if they wanted to continue on to the destination where a job could be waiting for them.


But now was the time.  The most important part of the evening ritual was almost done.  They waited in silence, eagerly watched by a pair of eyes from the undergrowth.  Once the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the evening air the dark-haired man filled their cups and handed one to his partner.  After a few appreciative sips, and a slight grimace on one face, brown eyes sought out blue.


“Come on, Kid.  You can’t pretend you still carry a grudge.  I’ve seen you give him some jerky when you thought I wasn’t looking.”


“Alright,” came the slightly disgruntled reply.  “I reckon he’s not so bad after all, but givin’ him a name – that’s sayin’ he’s ours.  Just don’t feel right.”


“Uh huh,” was the patient reply from under floppy brown hair.  After a few more sips of coffee it was followed up with, “but when we get into town tomorrow and a pretty girl asks for his name, you’ll be really embarrassed.  Or what if you say one thing and I say something else.  That would look real suspicious- two men not knowing their own dog’s name.”


A shrug was the only reply but the dark-haired man was not about to give up so easily.  He could see his friend mulling it over.  They drank from their cups in silence, no sense to hasten this along.  After a questioning glance at his partner’s blue eyes he refilled their cups.  The dark liquid would help.


The eyes still watching from beyond the flickering flames seemed to encourage him to keep going.  “We can’t keep on calling him ‘Come here’.  We’re better than that.”


Blue eyes looked up resignedly.  His partner was on a roll, he would obviously not let it go.  Might as well get it over with quickly.  “What about ‘Boy’? Short, to the point, easy to remember.”


Dark eyes sparkled.  His partner was getting into the game.  “That’s all you can come up with?  He deserves a name with a little more character.  Something that describes him.”


The curious eyes which had followed the exchange with interest came a little closer, a shape started to emerge from the bushes.  Obviously the watcher thought it was time to make an appearance at this point, to remind the men what he looked like exactly and who he was.  It would surely help them to make the right decision.  He didn’t want to get stuck with a moniker like ‘Jake’ or ‘Butch’.  He grinned encouragement at the blond man and sat down expectantly not far from the men.


The blue eyes turned his way at the soft thump, thump, thump sound of a wagging tail hitting the ground.  “We could call him ‘Rover’.  It’s a good solid name and he’s sure done some rovin’ around.”


The thumping stopped.


“Nope.  Looks like our friend doesn’t approve.”


Thump, thump, thump.  A happy look was directed at the brown haired man.  Finally someone who understood him.


The blond man addressed his reply firmly to his partner, he was not arguing with a dog.  No way.  “Maybe we could go with traditional names like ‘Old Yeller’ or ‘Spot’?”


“But his coat is not exactly yellow or spotty.”


Blue and chocolate eyes examined the evenly colored dark-brown coat of the dog who was curious as to where this might be going.  The suggestions so far were not promising.  He cocked his head hopefully.



“I said like those names.  He’s brown – so ‘Brownie’.”

The dog’s head slumped down in defeat.  This was not looking good.


“You’re always thinking of food, Kid.  Didn’t know you thought he was that sweet.  Quite the change from complaining about his breath or calling him ‘Hellhound’ at first.”


“Well, he was howlin’ just like one!  And we spent two days and nights runnin’ from the howlin’ and barkin’ when YOU thought he was a posse with a bloodhound trackin’ us.”


A big, proud doggy grin shone their way and tan-coloured eyebrows waggled in memory of this exciting game.  He had won, of course, even though they had given him good sport with their false trails and riding for long stretches in riverbeds.


A sheepish look from dark eyes accompanied the answer.  “I’d rather be careful than get caught again by another posse or bounty hunter, but you must admit he stopped howling as soon as we let him join us.”


More sips of coffee.  They would need another refill before this was over, maybe even two.


A wicked glint appeared in the blue eyes.  “We could call him ‘Spooky’ – remember how he made your horse jump and you ended up soaked in that stream?”


Ears that had valiantly tried to stand up expectantly during the lull in conversation suddenly flopped down in embarrassment.  A little whine escaped his throat as he looked apologetically at the dark-haired human.  As hoped for, said human rose to his defense.


“He didn’t mean to.  And he was really sorry for it.  Still is – just look at him.”


Whine, thump, thump.  Ears pricked up again, but could not quite manage to stand all the way; the upper halves insisted on flopping down.  He didn’t mind too much.  Humans seemed to like it, thought it looked comical and he had learned how to use it to his advantage; nobody can scold you while they are laughing.


“And he did all he could to warm me up again afterwards, curling up on my feet and then sleeping under my blanket.”


“Yeah.  Good fer ya’ Heyes.  You remember what he did the next mornin’ before the sun was fully up?  I don’t take too kindly to gettin’ slobbered all over my face and my blanket stolen while ninety pound of dog is jumpin’ up and down on me!”


“Yeaah, he got you up and fully awake quickly, didn’t he?” came the happy reply that made dimples appear on the face looking fondly at the dog.  “And it was just in time before our horses wandered off to join the mustangs.  Still don’t know how they got free that night or where the rawhide hobbles disappeared to.”


More sips of coffee.  The dog decided this could take a while yet and flopped to the ground.  It might also be a good idea to make himself appear small and not draw attention his way just now.  Rawhide did taste nice…


“Hum, but we ain’t gonna name him ‘Alarm’ because he’s good at waking up people.  Just imagine the reaction when we call him in town,” a cool blue look was directed at the still grinning man,“ and don’t even think I’ll let ya’ call him ‘Buddy’ just because you’re so chummy with him.”


“Wouldn’t dream of it,” came the assurance accompanied by an innocent chocolatey look with still one dimple showing.


“And I reckon’ ya’ won’t let me call him ‘Fleabag’.”


“Nope.”  A “woof” could be heard simultaneously; well, it had not been a serious suggestion, judging by the expression on the blue eyed man who drank from his cup once more.


“I can’t hear you makin’ any suggestions, Heyes.  Dog got your silver tongue?”


The dark haired man looked assessingly at his blond partner.  Yes, he was firmly caught up in the naming game now, no longer thinking about ignoring or denying their new comrade.  He himself already knew the dog’s name of course.  Now it was only a question of making the Kid see.  “The way I see it a name has to fit.  We’ve never seen a dog like him and he deserves a special name, no ‘Buster’, ‘Digger’, ‘Lucky’ or ‘Scruff’.  A name that is HIM.  Don’t you agree?”


Reluctantly the blond head nodded.  He quite liked ‘Lucky’ and they sure could do with some luck on their side for a change.  “Still don’t hear ya’ sayin’ what we SHOULD call him.”


“It’s not a question of what we should or want to call him, Kid, but I can tell you what his name IS.”


A furry head perked up again, ears as erect as they would allow, eyes shimmering hopefully.  He knew he was right to have put his trust in this brown haired human.


“It’s ‘Coffee’.”


The dog jumped to his feet, wagging his tail happily.  “Woof, woof”.  He liked the sound of that.


“See?  He agrees.”


This revelation was met with an incredulous look from blue eyes.  “But that’s not even a name!  How on earth did ya’ ever come up with this idiotic idea.  I thought ya’ were supposed to be a geeenius.”


“Kid,” his dark eyed partner started patiently, “just think about it.  It fits him perfectly.  He’s dark brown, almost black – just like coffee.”


Blue eyes remained cold.  He would not be swayed so easily; that name was stupid.


“He has proved that he can keep us awake and alert all night, or help us to wake up quickly in the morning.  You said so yourself.  Just like coffee.”


Quick blue eye roll and a quiet groan; yes, he had walked right into that one.


“And you have to agree he’s an acquired taste.  First we were not too happy about him, you sure took some time warming up but he has grown on you.  Don’t try to deny it – I saw you giving him our last jerky, remember?  Just like coffee took a little getting used to.  When you were still a boy you couldn’t understand why the grown-ups would drink the stuff.  And look at us now - we wouldn’t want to be without it.”


Blue eyes blinked, trying to refute the logic, still not quite willing to concede.  He drank once more from his cup while his partner went on relentlessly, driving home his advantage with the dog looking on full of approval.  It was unfair, the two of them ganging up on him like this.


“And when I was cold and frozen after that dunking in the river you so kindly mentioned, he warmed me up nicely – just like a good cup of coffee would.  Don’t you see?  He IS ‘Coffee’.”


A small smile appeared for a moment and blue eyes started to crinkle, almost against his will.  His partner had done it again and he couldn’t help but admire the masterly set-up.


“Just think about it, Kid – when we are in town and call him, he’ll be the only dog to come running with that name.  You wouldn’t want to ride out of town trailed by a pack all called ‘Jack’ or ‘Fido’.”



At this, simultaneous shudders went through the blond man and the dark dog.

Quick dark eyes noticed it was time for positive arguments now.  “A dog called ‘Coffee’ is also a great conversation topic.  The ladies will be all curious why he’s named that.  They’ll never have heard anything like it before.”


Blue eyes looked definitely happier thinking about what opportunities such curiosity might provide. Not that he needed a dog for help, but still...


“And he is the perfect cover for us.  Ever seen a wanted poster mentioning Hannibal Heyes or Kid Curry having a dog?  Especially one with a name that stands out like his?  We’ll look just like ordinary, harmless people with a quirky sense of humor.”


A nod from a blond head, even if the dog’s name didn’t really add much to the cover the animal’s presence alone could provide; but he did not want to disappoint his partner who was obviously enjoying himself.  So he let him continue.


“And in a way it is even traditional – coffee-brown is a color and YOU were all for a traditional name about coat color before.  Hey, he could be ‘Mr. Coffee Brown’.  Goes really well with ‘Smith’ and ‘Jones’.  It could be his alias.”


A big grin and then laughter would no longer be repressed under merry blue eyes and blond curls.


“Alright.  Ya’ got me.  ‘Coffee’ it is.  Just how long have ya’ been plannin’ this?”


The only answer was an innocent shrug under a beautiful, dimpled, chocolatey smile and twinkling dark eyes.  The owner of the dimples re-filled their cups once more.  So it had only taken three cups after all.


Turning to the newly christened Mr. Brown the still chuckling blue eyed man called, “‘Coffee’, come over here.  We have to celebrate.”


The canine, on hearing his name, was glad to oblige and bounded to the command with alacrity, throwing himself happily on the ground between his adopted humans and rolled over on his back to give them access for a good wiggly tummy rub.  His tongue lolled out of his laughing mouth, and the fluid amber eyes sparkled.  This was going to be fun.

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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riders57

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:52 pm

Coffee


She was drifting in an endless cobalt sea.  The blue ice boat rocked her, keeping her comforted and warm.  Despite waves crashing around her, the boat remained steady, holding her safe.  She looked to the horizon where the endless sea merged with the limitless cerulean sky.  Where one ended and the other began she didn’t know, and she didn’t care.  The sea was a brilliant, sparkling sapphire.  She thought back, had she ever seen anything that blue.  Yes, before they moved out here to this endless desert, her family had visited mamma’s parents in Mobile.  Grams and Gramps had brought them to the Gulf and there they had taken an excursion boat on a beautiful day, sailing, watching the dolphins leaping around them.  She saw no dolphins now, yet the same excitement and the sense of anticipation lingered as she floated in blue – surrounded and cradled in blue.


The scene shifted and she was swimming in a vast pool of molten chocolate, cool, yet liquid, lifting her, exciting her.  She longed to reach down and fill herself with brown, to dive into the deep amber swirls.  Yet something held her back, the glimmering cocoa warned her, not yet, not now.  Soon.  Coffee!  Yes, deep, rich, umber coffee, that would enable it.  She remembered the first time she’d tasted it; for so long it had been denied her because she was too young.  The day she was old enough to enjoy the decadence of the rich, smooth blend, was a day of triumph.  Chocolate and coffee warred for her attention, her love.


“Jayce! For the last time!”


A hand shook her roughly.  Startled, she leapt from the heavenly coffee, swam through the azure sea, back to wakefulness.  “What?  Why?” she wailed.


“Jayce, wake up.  We have to serve breakfast; you know we do.”  Her sister ruthlessly stripped off the bedclothes and yanked the pillow from beneath her head.


Jayce sat up blinking, her mind still back in her dreams.


“Come on, Jayce!  Get moving,” her sister urged.


Yawning and stretching Jayce reluctantly began to rise.  “What’s the hurry?”


“Come on.  I want to be down there if they come, when they come.  Do you think they’ll come?  This morning?”


“Who?”


“Those men.  They’ve breakfasted here the last two days.  Do you think they’ll be here today?”  Her sister babbled as she darted around dressing and brushing her hair.  “Which one do you like better?  The blond or the dark, dangerous one?”


“Blond?  Dark and dangerous?”  Jayce stopped braiding her hair and stared at her little sister (after all, Jayce was ten minutes older).  “What are you talking about?”


“Those two strangers.  The men.  Aren’t they the most exciting, gorgeous things you’ve ever seen?”


“Those drifters?”


“How can you call them drifters?  They’re real men, not like the boys around here.”


As Jayce opened the door and whisked herself out of the room to be the first one in the café, she called over her shoulder, “I hadn’t noticed.”
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Keays

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PostSubject: Coffee   Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:09 pm

"Heyes?"



"Hmm?"



"What are ya' thinkin' about?"



"What makes you think I'm thinking about anything?"



"Considering our situation, what else would you be doing?"



"Oh. Good point."



Silence.



"Well?"



"Coffee."



"Coffee!?"



"You asked--I told you."



"Yeah but--coffee? I have to admit I figured you'd be thinkin' about something a little more helpful right about now."



"Don't you think coffee would be helpful right about now?"



Heyes felt his cousin's body shiver next to him.



"Yeah. I suppose ya' have a point."



Heyes sighed. "Dark, hot and strong. Yeah."



"Sure you're not just describing yourself now? In your own fantasies I mean."



Heyes chuckled just as a strong spasm of shivering took over his own body. "Nothing wrong with that."



"Hmm. I kinda prefer my coffee a little on the lighter side, ya' know? A little milder, with just a hint of sweet. But still hot, yeah. You're right Heyes; coffee would go down real good about now."



Both men sighed as they each imagined a steaming cup of their own preferred brew warming their hands and their bodies with caffeinated richness. Two sets of nostrils began to twitch as the cold wet dawn gradually brought light to the rain sodden duo. Both men shivered again.



"I must be losing my mind," Kid grumbled. "I swear I can smell coffee brewin'. Wish you'd never brought it up."



"You did ask," Heyes pointed out. "And you're not losing your mind. They're making coffee down there."



Kid groaned. "Oh now that's just not right," he complained. "They keep us pinned down all night where we got no protection from the elements, where we can't even make a fire cause of the rain and then they have the gall to sit down there and start makin' coffee? That ain't playin' fair."



"Whoever said the law played fair?"



"Well I'm just sayin'! Alright!? It ain't fair!"



"Geez, you're awfully grouchy this morning. You need a cup of coffee."



"Heyes, I swear...."



"Shhh!" Heyes placed a sopping wet gloved hand on his partner's arm. "Something's going on down there."



"Yeah, they're makin' coffee."



Both men peered over the rocks of their sanctuary just as a bullet clipped the edge of the granite and sent chips flying.
The two ex-outlaws ducked back down behind cover while trying to convince their cold fingers to grab hold of wet guns.



"Hey, you two fellas up there!" came a voice from down below. "we got an offer for ya'!"



Heyes' brow creased. The Kid looked suspicious. The partners locked eyes.



"What do you think?" Heyes whispered as though the man down below would actually hear him.



Jed tried to shrug but his soaked sheepskin made it difficult. "I donno. Could be a trap just to get us to stick our heads out."



Heyes' brows went up as he nodded. "Yeah." Lips tightened into a frown as he tried to think. Unfortunately he was so numb with cold nothing was working properly. Another shiver ran down his body as the light drizzle of rain increased to a chilling shower. He frowned even more and glanced up at the offending heavens as though to curse the weather gods for their unfortunate timing. His teeth started to chatter. "On the other hand we can't spend another day out here like this. We're both soaked to the skin."



"You think we should find out what he wants?"



"Yeah," Heyes nodded with regret. "I mean we can always say no."



"Heyes, Kid! You hear me?"



Heyes sent a questioning look to his partner. Jed hesitated then nodded.



"Yeah!" Heyes yelled back. "What kind of offer?!"



"Why don't ya' stand up so we can see ya'!"



"I don't think so!" Heyes declined. "We can hear you fine from here!"



"Well, we know you've spent a miserable night up there. You must be feeling pretty cold and wet and hungry right about now!"



"What's your point!?"



"Point is; we got a real good shelter down here, nicely shielded from the rain and that biting wind. It's the wind that does it, ain't it boys? That cold, wet wind just gets right into your bones until your whole body feels like it's gonna freeze up and shatter into a million pieces."



The two partners sighed simultaneously as both were racked with more shivering.



"We got some dry cloths and extra blankets," the posse man continued. "I bet you could do with those right about now, couldn't ya'?" Silence from above. "We got a good fire burnin' and I bet you can smell the bacon startin' ta' fry. How about it boys? You got no way out anyways. How about you make it easy on all of us?"



Constant shivering had taken hold of the partners by this time and teeth were chattering for real. Two sets of eyes, one like iced espresso and the other a cold mint cappuccino froze on to each other.



"What do ya' say Kid? Ready to call it quits?"



"I donno Heyes. I hear prison can be awful cold too."



"Yeah."



"Sure you ain't got no ideas?"



Heyes looked around at their wet surroundings and grimaced. "Not a one."



"We could always make a run for it. Shoot our way out."



"I don't think my legs can move that fast."



"I doubt we'd have to worry about that for long."



Heyes thought about their options. He shifted over onto his left frozen hip and broke apart his schofield. He tried to load up more bullets but his fingers were so numb he simply ended up dropping the bullets onto the wet ground instead. He sighed in frustration.



"Dammit!"



Kid watched his partner with sympathy. "Again Heyes, I kinda doubt it's gonna matter."



"Hey fellas!" came the voice again. "what do ya' say? I'm getting wet standing out here in the rain!"



"I don't think so!" Heyes yelled back as the enticing aroma of sizzling bacon caught his nose. Rain dripped from the brim of his hat and splattered onto that same nose. "Dammit," he mumbled.



"Hey fellas!" came the annoying summons yet again. "Why don't ya' take a lookie here?"



"Yeah right!" Heyes yelled back. "So you can just shoot us as soon as we break cover?"



"If you're thinkin' about makin' a run for it anyway, what do ya' have to lose?"



The partners exchanged looks again.



"He does have a point," Kid commented.



"Yeah."



Both men shifted slowly and painfully, willing their cold stiff muscles to move just that little bit that would push their heads up above the cover of the rain splattered boulder. The sight that met their eyes was more than they could stand and they knew that they were done for. There was just no getting away from this. The sheriff stood below them, a coffee pot in one hand and a tin cup in the other. As soon as he knew he had the outlaws' attention he poured the rich steaming liquid into the mug and held it up towards them as an offering.



Whether it was simply the power of suggestion, or if the aroma was truly that strong it didn't matter. Nostrils twitched again as the heavenly waves attacked their olfactory senses and two sets of shoulders slumped in defeat.



They slid back down behind the boulder to confer.



"We could always find a way to escape later," Kid pointed out.



"I'm sure I could come up with a plan once my brain thaws out," Heyes agreed.



"I have every confidence in your abilities."



"Thank you Kid. That means a lot to me."



Both men sighed and gave quick affirmations to each other.



"Okay you win!" Heyes called down. "We're coming out!"



"Thought you might," the sheriff mumbled, he smiled in triumph and called up to them. "Wise choice! Stand up with your hands raised. I want to see those guns!"



Slowly pushing themselves up to their hands and knees, the two men used the boulder in front of them to assist them to get to their feet. With deep resignation they raised their hands and had to trust that they wouldn't drop their guns because they sure couldn't feel them anymore. They looked down the hill and found four lawmen with rifles awaiting their approach. The coffee pot was no where to be seen.



"Come on down fellas," the sheriff directed them. "Nice and slowly."



"Yeah, like we have a choice," Kid mumbled.



Heyes smiled. "We could always just roll down. Might be easier."



The two men slowly and stiffly made their way down the hill to the waiting lawmen. Once arrived, their guns were quickly confiscated and each man was given a quick patting down.



"Man, you boys are soaked through," commented one of the deputies. "You're like to catch your death runnin' around out here like this."



"Just point us in the direction of the coffee pot," Heyes told him.






Twenty minutes later our two ex-outlaws sat bundled up in layers of blankets while their soaked clothing sizzled over the fire that shared the dry, makeshift shelter with them. They hunched over the fire, their shivering slowly abating as the warmth steadily penetrated past the dampness and the wind. Clasped within red fingers were two steaming cups of strong coffee as senses were lulled into contentedness by the aroma of caffeine and rum warming their innards.



Tomorrow was another day.
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:23 pm

Grasshoppers leapt from the trail, rustling noisily as they landed in the dried grasses, but the horses plodded on.  Tired, they kept their attention on the rocky path leading up a steep south-facing slope.  Flies buzzed around their heads and one of the two laden mules swished its tail and kicked out angrily.  Saddles and packs alike creaked softly, lulling the two men astride the horses.  The day had grown steadily hotter despite its chilly beginnings and the men wore patches of sweat staining their shirts.  A magpie flew across the trail twenty or thirty yards ahead of them, chattering loudly, alarming his flock in a nearby aspen grove.  


The smaller rider dallied the lead to his pack mule around his saddle horn and freed up his hands to lift his hat and wipe his brow with a dirty bandana he fished from his pocket.  His lank, blond hair was pasted to his skull and his jaws bulged with a large plug of tobacco.  When he spoke, his words were muffled.


“Sure is hot for September, ain’t it, Heyes?”  A stream of tobacco spewed from Kyle’s face and landed in the grass further terrifying the hoppers.  He kept one eye on the broad back ahead of him; the other followed the path of his spit.


“Unh.”  


Hannibal Heyes was distracted thinking about last night’s poker game.   He’d had fun disguising himself as a greenhorn; wearing an old, frayed suit and horn-rimmed glasses.  No one took him for a notorious outlaw leader and he’d been courted by every table in the gambling den once he’d pulled that wad of bills from his pocket.  


Now that wad rested in his left saddlebag, having grown too large for a pocket.  He’d been surprised that the evening had ended without any untidy incidents.  Three of the men at his table had looked as though they were going to stir up trouble.  Not that he’d been worried.  He’d been packing his derringer and Kyle had lingered at the bar, keeping an eye on his boss like he’d promised the Kid he would do.  No, the evening had passed without trouble.  


“Heyes?  You ain’t fallin’ asleep, are ya?”


“No, I’m not.  I’m thinking.”


“Oh.  Good, I guess.”  Kyle was used to Heyes’ thinking and knew not to ask any more questions.  He un-dallied his mule, and rode on in silence.   They weren’t too far from the Devil’s Hole gang’s camp and would reach it well before nightfall.  To amuse himself, he kept his eyes peeled for mushrooms along the side of the trail.  He loved mushrooms.


The animals humped their backs and grunted as they shouldered their burdens up a particularly steep section of trail passing through a thick grove of trees.  The aspens swayed gently as a sudden breeze arose and their brittle, golden leaves sighed softly, but the sturdy spruce and firs withstood the gust.  Daylight was filtered here and a cool shadow crept over the small pack train, providing relief from the sun.


Heyes started to nod off; his late night beginning to be felt again.  Kyle’s eyes combed the ground for the curly, orange caps of the mushrooms he was seeking.  They grew in the shady, high altitude forests.  He couldn’t remember what they were called.  Gully’d told him once; shanty-somethings.  He didn’t notice the three men who emerged on foot from the small copse of spruce to their left.


“Hold it right there!  Hands up nice and easy,” warned a grizzled man with blackened teeth.   The other two men stood slightly behind him, their guns drawn and aimed at their hearts.


Heyes jerked to attention at the sound of the man’s voice.  Fortunately, his hands were occupied with his horse’s reins and the mule’s lead, otherwise he might’ve made a reflexive reach for his gun.  Instead he sat still, lifted his hands, and glared at the men before him.  


Kyle nearly fell off his horse, both of them startled by the intrusion.  He righted himself, steadied his beast, raised his hands, and waited calmly.  He appeared slightly bored and unafraid, but he was simply waiting to see how Heyes wanted to handle this.


“My, my, lookie who it is boys!” sneered the first outlaw, gesturing to Heyes.  The other two men looked baffled.  “It’s the rube with the run of luck from last night’s game.”


“Sure is, Will.  Looks diff’rent, don’t he?” said a shorter, long greasy-haired man, finally recognizing Heyes.  The third man, no, boy; smiled and laughed.


“I guess your name ain’t George neither.  You know, mister, last night I was willin’ to let my money go, figurin’ you was a tenderfoot havin’ a run of luck and some other fella could hang for killin’ ya.  I can see now that that weren’t no run of luck, you look just like the cardsharp you is,” said Will.  His eyes took in the silver-trimmed hat band, the expensive cut of Heye’s shirt, and came to rest on the strapped down, black leather, concha-embellished gun belt.  “Lucky for you, I ain’t no killer.  Why, I’m just an honest man lookin’ to right a wrong.  Ain’t that right, fellas?”


Laughter floated in the air, loud against the sounds of the forest.  Heyes knew it was useless to try to sweet talk these three and he waited silently like a coiled rattler.  


“Carl, get that little fella’s gun.  Hal, keep me covered,” said Will, walking up to Heyes and reaching up.  Dark, furious eyes drilled into him as he unbuckled the fancy gun belt.  He laughed.  “Don’t feel as good gettin’ robbed as it does robbin’, does it?  I’ll take that hat, too, and empty your pockets.”


Heyes glared at him, but eventually lifted the hat from his head and dropped it onto the dusty trail.  He fished out the few dollars he had in his chest pocket along with his silver pocket watch.  With a chuckle, Will took the cash and watch before he bent down and picked up the hat, knocking the dust off against his grimy pant leg.  He took off his sweat-stained, misshapen felt bowler and tossed it to Carl, who caught it easily despite holding Kyle’s gun belt in his left hand.  Glancing up at the smaller man sitting above him, Carl decided his had no use for the soiled hat he wore.  Instead, he walked over to Will.  


Will’s filthy grin belied his angry command, “Dismount!”


Without a word, Heyes and Kyle dismounted.  Carl grabbed the reins to Heyes’ sorrel mare and tied off the pack mule to the horse’s saddle.  He led the two animals away to where Kyle stood, his small mare standing obediently next to him, ground-tied.  His mule had wandered a few steps away and was contentedly eating the dried grasses at its feet.  Roughly, Carl snatched up the mule’s lead causing it to balk and Carl to cuss.  He tied the second mule to the pack of the first mule and then retrieved Kyle’s mare.


“Well, I’d say we’re even now,” said Will.  “Have a nice walk.”  He started to turn away, but froze at the chilling, baritone voice so unlike the twangy, nasal sounds he’d heard last night from the dark-haired man he'd just robbed.


“See you around, Will,” said Heyes.  The threat was unmistakable.


Will spun around.  “You know, I plumb forgot that the boys could use some new boots.  Why don’t you two have a seat right there and pull yours off?”  He gestured to a downed tree.


“You can’t leave us out here on foot without water,” protested Kyle as he sat down on the log next to Heyes.


“Sure I can,” Will laughed.  “’Sides, there’s plenty of streams to drink from.  If you get real lucky maybe you can find one the beavers ain’t crapped in.”  He scooped up the discarded boots and tucked them all under his arm.  Leaning close to Heyes, he dropped his friendly act and hissed out fetid breath.  “I see you again, boy, I’ll kill ya.”


Heyes showed no fear.  “Likewise.”


Straightening, Will wondered if maybe he should kill them and be done with it, but he was only wanted for robbing, not a hanging offense, and he didn’t want to do anything to change that.  Who knew who might be waiting on these two and come looking for them?  No, better to let them get to where they were going.  


He and Carl took their prizes, loaded them onto the two mules, and mounted.  Will and Carl drew and kept their guns trained on their victims while Hal fetched their own horses.  Soon all that was left of them was the faint sound of their laughter wafting up from down the trail.


OOOOOOOOOO


“You were robbed?”  exclaimed Kid Curry, standing over his partner.  His agitation had grown as dusk had turned to darkness and there’d been no sign of Heyes or Kyle.  He’d been ready to go out looking for them when he’d heard the sounds of someone approaching on foot.


Heyes sat by the fire examining his blistered feet.  He and Kyle had straggled into camp a few minutes ago and, without a word, Heyes had gone to the Kid’s saddlebags and pulled out the bottle of whiskey he’d known his partner had stashed there.  He’d uncorked it with his teeth, taken a long slug of it, and he and the whiskey had settled by the warmth of the fire.  It was going to be a cold night.  He and Kyle had no bedrolls.  


The Kid had taken one look at the two men emerging from the shadows and figured he’d get more out of Kyle than Heyes.  He’d been right.  Kyle had spilled the whole story in front of the entire gang who still clustered around him.  Their laughter had yet to die down.  


Curry waited, but his partner said nothing.  He dropped down next to Heyes and reached for the bottle.  “What happened?” he asked softly.  


Furious brown eyes shot up to his.  “You know what happened.  It was just like Kyle said.  Go ahead.  Laugh.”


“Heyes,” the Kid said carefully, “I ain’t laughin’.  How’d those yahoots get the drop on you?”


Seeing no derision in Curry’s eyes, Heyes’ anger dissipated.   “I don’t know.  I was tired.”  


“You can’t be tired, Heyes, not if you want to keep breathin’.  Dammit!” exploded the Kid, “I should’ve gone with you; this wouldn’t have happened.  I could’ve disguised myself.  The sheriff wouldn’t have recognized me.”


“We couldn’t risk it.”


“We should’ve risked it.  You know things always go wrong when we separate.”


“I don’t need a damned nursemaid!” shouted Heyes, drawing his gang’s attention to him.  He grabbed the bottle from the Kid’s hand.  “Leave me alone.”


Curry stood up and walked over to the men who stood looking at their angry dark-haired leader.  “All right, boys, show’s over.  Hank, Lobo, build us another fire over there.  Preacher, if you still have that old deck of cards, now’d be a good time to pull it out.  I got another bottle of whiskey I’ll fetch.  Wheat, Kyle’s gonna need a saddle blanket or two for the night.”  The outlaws scurried off to do his bidding.  They were soon settled down in front of a new fire and passed the evening quietly, each of them occasionally casting a glance in Heyes’ direction.  


The boys had taken the cancellation of the job pretty well considering the time and effort they’d all made with the preparations.  Curry was grateful and generous with his whiskey.  They kept their voices low, but Wheat couldn’t resist having Kyle repeat his story several times.  The soft sound of muted laughter filled the night.


Finally, the Kid looked over and saw that Heyes had passed out on his side, the empty bottle still clasped to his chest.  He turned back to his gang.  “Time to hit the sack, boys.”  


“How come?  It ain’t like we can pull the job tomorrow.  We ain’t got the gear,” observed Lobo.


“It’s time, ‘cause I say it’s time.  Any arguments to that?”  The Kid’s face warned them.  The outlaws reluctantly settled up their bets and shuffled off to retrieve their bedrolls.  


Wheat laid a saddle blanket on the ground near the new fire and settled his open bedroll over him and Kyle.


The sleepy, little outlaw grumbled a thank you and rolled over.


Curry picked up his own bedroll and tossed it over Heyes, keeping the canvas fabric well away from the fire.  He threw some more logs on the fire and settled down across the flames from his partner, his own saddle blanket clutched tightly around him.  He felt chilled; but more by Kyle’s story than by the night’s coldness.


OOOOOOOOOO


When he woke, his partner was still crumpled in the position he’d last seen him.  Curry stood up stiffly and threw another log on the fire, poking at it with a stick until the flames appeared.  He walked over to each of his sleeping men and thumped their feet with his boot.  “Rise and shine,” he said to each man softly, adding, “and you’ll be quiet about it if you know what’s good for you.”  


By the time the morning’s ablutions had been completed, and breakfast had been consumed, the Kid turned his attention to Heyes.  Walking quietly over to the snoring lump, he gently shoved his partner’s feet.  Nothing.  He reached down to push a shoulder, but was stopped short by the sound of Heyes’ rasping, whiskey-soaked voice.  “Touch me again and I’ll kill you.”


Grinning, Curry stood up.  “C’mon, Heyes, time to get up.  We gotta hit the trail.”


“Go…away,” growled the bedroll.


“Get a move on; it ain’t safe for us to linger here.”


No response.


The Kid glanced over his shoulder at his men.  They were still tacking up their mounts, nearly ready to go.  It was going to be a long, slow trip back to the Hole.  Heyes and Kyle were going to have to double up with him and Wheat.  He shook his head, discouraged.  They’d all started out from home with big expectations.  The job was going to be piece of cake according to Heyes.   He, on the other hand, had been pensive ever since he’d heard those words slip from his partner’s lips, ‘What could go wrong?’  Well, it had gone wrong, and there were lots of ways it could’ve gone a whole lot more wrong.  


Making a decision, he walked back to the other fire ring and poured a mugful of the coffee from a pot that had been left to stay warm by the fire.  He flinched slightly at the acrid odor that wafted from the mug.  It smelled like it could peel paint from a wall; just the way Heyes liked it.  He stood and carried the mug back over to his partner setting it down on the ground far enough away that Heyes couldn’t reach it without crawling out from under the bedroll, but near enough for him to smell it.


Curry waited.  He knew Heyes.  First the bedroll shifted slightly.  Then a hand appeared and clawed its way towards the coffee only to fall a couple of feet short of the enticing brew.  A groan rose to his ears.  He stood still.  The covers moved again and a tousled head poked out.  The effort was too much and the head flopped sideways into the dirt.  One bloodshot eye, rolled open, and stared up at him, trying its damnedest to focus.


“Ugh.  Hand me the mug,” mewled Heyes pitifully.


“Get it yourself,” said the Kid.  Somehow, Heyes managed to glare at him from his flattened point-of-view.  He chuckled softly and waited.


With another groan, Heyes stretched out from under the bedroll and dragged himself to within reach of the coffee.  Curry seized the bedroll and snatched it away just as his partner’s fist closed around the mug.  


“Hey!” yelled Heyes before moaning at the sound of his own, raised voice.  Curry swept the bedroll away and rolled it up, securing it to the back of his saddled gelding.  He kept his eye on Heyes who had dragged the coffee to his lips and was sipping it gingerly, still prone on the ground, his head only raised far enough to ingest the needed elixir.  The Kid walked past him to the other fire ring and returned with the pot, re-filling Heyes’ mug, and setting the pot down next to him.  


The gang finished packing up, the two fires were extinguished, and the boys were mounted before Curry returned to stand over his partner.  Heyes looked terrible.  Bits of leaves were stuck in his hair and his face was worn and puffy, but he already looked better than he had and it was plain to see that his disposition was improving.


“You ready?” asked the Kid.


“For what?” 


“To go home.  What did you think?”


“I was thinking maybe you and I could hang around for a day or so.  Maybe let Wheat take the boys home.”  Heyes didn’t look at him as he spoke and Curry understood exactly what he was getting at.


“You want to go after those three?”


A small, nearly imperceptible nod from Heyes confirmed his intentions.  


“Why?” asked the Kid.


Heyes looked up at him.  The Kid found it almost painful looking into those mournful, red-streaked eyes.  “They took my gun, my horse, my pride, and my hat.  I’ve gotta go after them.”


“No, you don’t.  You can buy another horse, hat, and gun.  And you’ve got more pride than a man has need for.”


“They took my watch, too.  If I don’t go after them, the boys will lose respect for me.  I can’t let that happen.”  


Curry hated it when Heyes was right. He sighed, and capitulated.  “Let me go tell Wheat.  Finish up that coffee.  You’re gonna need it.”  


“Thanks.”


Taking pity on his battered friend, the Kid smiled, “Hey, what are partners for?”

_________________
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“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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Javabee

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Posts : 789
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 61
Location : Seattle

PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:15 pm

This story is best enjoyed if you first read:  “Cowboys, Coffee, and a Connoisseur “ under the April challenge stories. Another silly piece of fluff, that makes no attempt to line up with an accurate timeline related to available coffee technology. 

“The Best Shot In the West”

San Francisco: The Dancing Goats Café


Two little boys scampered up to the counter of the Dancing Goats Café just as the last of the evening patrons were leaving. The brown haired boy jumped up on the stool like he owned the place, and began to beg with the precocious familiarity that only a grandchild can. 


“Please, Papaw Heyes,” the youngster begged, “Please Papaw Curry, tell us one of your stories!” 


The two older gents behind the counter fondly looked the boys, knowing there wasn’t much they would likely refuse these two grandsons.  Flecks of chocolate brown could still be seen in the grey hair of the older of the two men, who motioned to the blonde youngster to join his older cousin up on one of the stools. 


“Alright, hop on up here, and I’ll make you some of my famous hot chocolate. Which story do you want us to tell this time?” 


Papaw Heyes began expertly steaming the milk into a velvety foam with the wand of his espresso machine, as Papaw Curry set up two mugs complete with homemade chocolate syrup.


“Can we get marshmallows too, Papaw? And cookies?” The little blonde boy, much like his Papaw Curry, seemed more interested in getting treats than stories. But they all knew that once the tale began, he would be just as spellbound as his brown haired older cousin. 


When his partner was done filling the mugs with steamed milk, Papaw Curry gave them each a stir, and with a wink topped them with white fluffy marshmallows. Papaw Heyes selected two big sugar cookies out of his case, and with a dimpled grin placed them on the boys napkins.


“Thank you, Papaw!” The boys said in unison. 


“Just don’t tell your mothers.” Papaw Heyes said conspiratorially  “They’ll be fit to be tied if this spoils your supper.”  He stepped back to his machine and began his nightly cleaning ritual.


“We could tell the one about how we got our amnesty, fellas.“ The once blonde, now white haired ex-outlaw was gearing up to recount the story once again.


The older boy took a big sip of his cocoa, and seriously looked up at his elders with big, curious brown eyes. “We already heard all your old outlaw stories, Papaw. We wanna hear somethin’ brand new. Like who‘s that in the big painting up there?” He pointed to the mysterious portrait hung prominently over the focal point of the café, a large ornate espresso machine.


“Yeah!” the younger boy with the milky mustache exclaimed. “We wanna know how Papaw Heyes learned to make the best coffee in the west!” He licked his lips and half of his mustache disappeared.


The two older men looked up at the painting and then at each other in amusement. Leave it to their grandsons to want to hear about their coffee shop, instead of their “exciting outlaw past“. But in a way it did make sense. After all, the time the youngsters spent with their Papaws at the Dancing Goats Café had become the highlight of their day.


With a twinkle in his eye, Papaw Heyes began his tale. “Alright. boys, I reckon it’s time for you to know the truth about my coffee makin‘ past. But you must keep it a secret. If word gets out it might hurt my reputation.”


Papaw Curry somberly looked at his partner. “Are you sure ya want to tell ‘em? It could ruin us.”


The boys leaned in. “Really, Papaw? A secret?” What could be more shocking than their elder’s famous outlaw days? They couldn’t wait to hear what their Papaws had to say.


“Yeah. You see, my coffee makin’ past ain’t exactly somethin’ I’m proud of, boys.  Before we got the amnesty, while we was still on the run, well, “ Papaw Heyes hesitated “my coffee was ….”


“….bad, boys, real bad,” Papaw Curry interrupted. The children’s eyes got as big as saucers. “As a matter of fact, I’d say it tasted a might like tar. Yeah, that’s it. Black, thick, tar.”


Heyes frowned. “Well, don’t hold back, Kid. Tell us how you really liked it.”


“I ain’t one to mince words, boys. It was so black and thick, you could tar a roof with it. It tasted like…”


“Tar. Yeah, we heard ya the first time.” Heyes gave his partner a scowl. “ I think you get the idea, boys.”


“But Papaw…” The two boys looked at each other in dismay. Papaw Heyes reputation for fine coffee, tea, and chocolate had been legendary around those parts for years.


“ I hate to disappoint, but I reckon your Papaw Curry is tellin‘ the truth.“ He looked at the boys somber faces and sadly shook his head.  “I’ll admit it, I used to make bad coffee. I didn’t know any better.” 


He paused and looked seriously at each child. “You can see why this can’t ever get out, can’t ya boys?”


“Oh yes, Papaw. We won’t tell a soul!“ The boys knew that folks came from miles around to sample Papaw Heyes coffee. Being an ex-outlaw was one thing, but if the word ever got out about his embarrassing coffee  past, his local competitors would never let him live it down. 


“So what happened, Papaw? How did you change your bad coffee makin’ ways?” 


“Well, first I had to admit, you know, that my coffee was bad. That was hard enough to do, alright.” Heyes sadly shook his head. “ But the worst of it was givin’ up my pot.”


“Your what? “


“My pot. I used to make coffee in a good old tin pot instead of an espresso machine.  That pot sure came in handy at times.” 


Heyes sighed, recounting all the times his pot and the brew within it had revived them during harrowing times.


“I don‘t think I recollect the memory of that pot quite the way you do, Heyes.” The Kid was tenacious about keeping his partner honest about his coffee. He had no intention of repeating their inglorious coffee past.


Heyes took on a far away look, as he remembered. “Yeah, well anyways, it all happened a very long time ago, back when me and your Papaw Curry was still young men with a whole lot left to learn. I reckon this story starts with my pot, and of course, a woman...”


Denver: 30 years earlier…..The Lesson


“Ain’t you forgettin’ somethin’?” The Kid eyed his partner suspiciously as they prepared to leave their hotel room for their morning appointment with Java Sue.


“Nope” the chocolate haired ex-outlaw unceremoniously fastened his gun belt, slapped on his black hat and quickly strode towards the door.


“ Hold on, Heyes, you made a deal. You even shook on it.” The Kid pointedly checked his gun and twirled it into his holster with a flair.


Heyes turned, clearly annoyed with his partner. “Kid, I promised her I’d taste her coffee, and that’s what I aim to do. No more, no less.”


“Yeah, but if you like it, you gotta give up your  pot, Heyes. You better bring it with ya, just in case.”


“Kid, I ain’t gonna like her coffee.”


“You already know that, do ya?”


“Yeah. I like my coffee like my women: hot, strong, and steamy.  ”


The Kid rolled his eyes. “You like it strong, all right. So strong it snarls when it lurches outa the pot.”


“You’re one to talk. That swill you make is so flat and weak, drinkin’ it is like kissin’ your sister. I’d bet my last dollar that’s how she makes it too.”


“You bet your pot, Heyes, not your last dollar. You know better than to show up to a poker table without your bettin’ money, don’t ya? You’d best not show up to this wager without your pot. That’s all I’m sayin’. It ain’t gentlemanly.”


Heyes eyed his partner for a sign of weakness and couldn’t find one. He decided he wasn’t in the mood to argue with a stubborn Kid Curry, and acquiesced.


“Oh, all right.” Irritated, he stomped over to his magic saddlebag and pulled out his coffee pot. “But I ain’t gonna give it up cause I ain’t gonna like her coffee!”


“Whatever you say, partner. Just so long as you don’t squelch on the deal. Now hurry up, or we’ll be late.”


Java Sue was just starting to think they had run out on her, when she looked out the door of the café and spotted them. She remembered what Silky had said about Joshua’s silver tongue and Thaddeus’ fast draw, and began to wonder about these two.  She watched with interest as they swaggered down the boardwalk, each with their own particular kind of charm.


“Good morning, ma’am.” The one with the caramel curls greeted her politely. Both men tipped their hats, but the one with the deep espresso eyes looked like he had something serious to say. She was right.


“Now before we start, ma’am, let me get this straight. You agreed to pack up and go if I don’t like your coffee.  No lessons, and nobody takes my pot, right?” Heyes crossed his arms, his pot dangling dangerously from one finger.


“Yes, of course. Silky bragged about the two of you being honest, upright men of impeccable moral values,“ she exaggerated. “I’m sure you would never consider falsifying your true opinion of my brew just to get out of lessons. Would you, Joshua?” She looked at him innocently enough, but Heyes suddenly felt like he was being put on the spot.


It was the Kid’s turn to cross his arms. ”Well, would you, Joshua?” They both stared at Heyes, expectantly waiting for his answer. Heyes didn’t know how the tables had gotten turned on him so fast; he was the one that had been asking the questions just a minute ago.


“Yes. I mean no! I mean, of course I’ll answer truthfully! Geesh!” 


“Of course you will. Now lets stop wasting time. Follow me, boys.” Java turned and led them into the café.


The back of the house at the Silver Spoon Café was well equipped and neat and tidy. Her huge trunk was sitting on the floor next to the table and it appeared she had already set up her supplies.


Java didn‘t waste any time. “We are very fortunate to have the very latest coffee invention, the espresso machine. The first thing I would like you to try is a beautiful shot with hot water added.” 


“Shots, ma’am? Before breakfast?” The Kid gave Heyes a confused look. “Ain’t it a little early? I thought we was tastin‘ coffee.”


Heyes tried to clarify his cousins concerns. “Java, we only know of two kinda shots. One comes from the barrel of a gun and the other comes from a whiskey bottle. We don’t take kindly to havin’ hot water with either of ‘em.”


It took Java a moment for their confusion to register with her. “Oh no, boys, these are espresso shots. Beautiful, aromatic, shots of espresso coffee. Many folks drink it straight, but I’m guessing the two of you would prefer it with hot water to dilute the strength.”


Heyes looked at the Kid with a smirk, amused at the idea of anyone thinking he might want his coffee watered down. “I don’t need no extra water, ma’am. Believe me Java, I like it strong.“ 


“I’m afraid Joshua might be right ma’am. He likes his mornin’ coffee so strong, it wakes up the neighbors.”  The Kid appeared worried that Java’s coffee might fail the test.


“Alright, but be careful what you ask for, Joshua.” Always up for a challenge, Java resolved to make the most potent shot of coffee imaginable, because, after all, that’s what this cocky cowboy said he wanted.  


It only took Java a few seconds to pull a lovely, albeit strong, shot. She extended the offering to the cowboy and asked, “Your sure you can handle it straight up?”


With an arrogant smile, Heyes rolled his eyes at the Kid. He did think it was a bit peculiar when she actually served it in a shot glass instead of a cup, but he confidently took a big gulp of it anyway. 


His mistake became immediately apparent. His eyes bugged out of his head and he swallowed hard. The Kid slapped him on the back to help him catch his breath.


Java smiled sweetly. “I take it that was strong enough?“


“Yes! Damn it, yes!“ Heyes was still gasping. He grabbed a glass of water and downed it fast. “I said I liked it strong“, he croaked, “not lethal!”


Java suppressed a chuckle. It appeared her coffee had finally earned some well deserved respect. “Alright, let’s see how you like it with just the right amount of hot water added. It should taste rich, and smooth.“


“Yes, ma‘am.” Heyes took the brew and sniffed it warily. This time he was going to take it slow. He braved a generous sip, rolled it around in his mouth, and slowly broke into a reluctant, but clearly dimpled smile. 


“Well, Joshua, what’s that silver tongue tellin’ you this time?” The Kid, eager to know the results of the taste test, was hoping for the best.


 Heyes closed his eyes and thoughtfully savored the brew. “Well, this don’t have the bite I’m used to…”


“Your coffee ain’t supposed ta bite ya, partner. It ain‘t a rattler.” The Kid was quick to remind him.


“Yeah, and the flavor ain’t screamin’ like a banshee at me neither. It’s plenty strong, but it ain’t bitter. It don’t seem burnt…”


“Yeah?”


“Like she said, rich and smooth, and yet somehow it still has the kick I’m lookin’ for. I don’t know how she done it, but…”


“Here, give me that.” The Kid impatiently grabbed the cup and took a sip.


Heyes intently studied his partners reaction. “It’s still mighty strong, partner. Do you think you could drink it if I made it like this?”


The blonde cowboy‘s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Aww, Hey.., I mean Joshua. It’s heaven in a cup!  If you could learn to pull coffee shots like this, I’d still be the fastest shot, but you’d be the best!”


Resigned, Heyes slowly reached over to the table where he‘d placed his pot. Gently grabbing it by the handle, he fondly held it one last time. 


“This pot has a lot a fine memories, “ he sighed.


“And a lot of bad ones, too, partner. Hand over the pot.”


“Yeah. I reckon you won the wager, ma‘am.” Heyes had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but he couldn’t deny he liked Java’s coffee better than his. He slowly reached out and handed Java his pot.


“Oh my,” she somberly sighed. What appeared was an old dented, tarnished piece of tin in the vague shape of a coffee pot. The bottom was scorched and worn thin from sitting on what she surmised had been years of endless campfires. The interior, coated with the residue of eons of burnt grounds, emitted a distinctly acrid odor.  Inside she found a cloth bandana. Placing it on the table, she carefully unwrapped it to find a sad collection of old, grey, and unaromatic coffee beans that she would have hesitated to fertilize her garden with, let alone imbibe.


She looked up at Heyes who had his eyes uneasily, but firmly planted on his boots and the Kid, who gazed at her with what looked like a frantic appeal for help. She pulled herself together and attempted to be upbeat. 


“Don’t you worry, boys. I’ll soon have Joshua making coffee that would give my most experienced barista a run for his money. Stick with me, Joshua, and you’ll soon be pulling the best shots in the west.”


“I’m grateful, ma’am, but I think you meant “barist-o.” Heyes saw a chance to salvage a little self respect with his self proclaimed expertise in language. He was convinced that he finally knew something about coffee that even Java didn’t know.


“Excuse me?” Java wasn’t sure she had heard him properly. She knew she had used the Italian word accurately.


“Sorry, ma’am, but the proper word for a man who makes coffee has got to be “barist-o”, not “barist-a”. I know all about them foreigners and their male and female words. I’ve been to Mexico, you see. ”  Feeling a little better about himself, he smugly smiled as only a well traveled, knowledgeable, man of the world such as himself could smile.


Seeing as how Joshua had just gone through the humiliation of losing both his wager and his pot, Java decided not to press the issue. 


“Fine. Back to your pot. From the looks of this pot it appears you are on the trail a lot. Why is that, boys?”


“Well, you see we move around a lot. You know, from job to job.“ The Kid tried to explain. “We need to learn how to make good coffee while we’re on the run…, I mean travelin‘, ma’am.”


“I see.” Java did indeed think she was beginning to understand.


“Yup” sighed Heyes. “But I don’t think you can help. We have a knack for gettin’ almost anythin’ into our saddlebags, but I don’t think that espresso machine will fit.” He eyed the huge metal contraption with just a little awe.


“Don’t worry Joshua, I have just the thing. I’d like to replace your pot with a nice, clean percolator.  It’s a portable coffee pot that separates the grounds from the fluid.”


“If you use that new pot, Joshua, maybe I won‘t need to chew my coffee no more.” The Kid grimaced at the not-so distant memory. He sadly looked at Java. “Joshua thinks it ain’t strong enough until the spoon can stand up on its own, ma‘am.“ 


“Never mind, partner. Let her talk, I‘m tryin‘ to learn somethin’ here!” Heyes had finally realized he had been making bad coffee, and was hanging onto her every word.


Java continued. “And I believe I have the answer to stale, poorly ground camp coffee, Joshua. Watch.” Java opened a can of ground coffee. The intoxicating aroma came rushing out,  filling the room with the essence of gloriously fresh coffee.


“Well, don‘t that beat all. A can of coffee already ground up just right. Next thing ya know they‘ll be sellin’ sliced bread!.” Heyes was duly impressed.


“Yes, and I can show you how to make “toddy coffee”. You won’t need to start a fire, so folks can’t follow the smoke to your camp any more. Would that ever come in handy, boys?” She gave them a knowing look.


“How did you know….” the Kid asked incredulously, as Heyes gave him an elbow to the ribs. 


“And I can even teach you to make “bullet proof “ coffee. Would that be of interest to either of you?” By this time Java had a twinkle in her eye.


Heyes mouth dropped open in amazement. “Just a moment ma’am. Can I have a word with my partner?” The two young men turned their backs to Java for a private talk. 


While they conversed, Java took a step back to give them some space and get a better view. It occurred to her that these two cowboys reminded her of light and dark sugar, two versions of the same sweet condiment, but as different as night and day. She always did have a hard time deciding which way to sweeten her coffee, and trying to choose between these two was no exception.  She finally determined she would handle them the same way she handled her sugars, and try a little pinch of each. Yes, that was it, a pinch of each. Pleased with her conclusion, Java smiled. Now if only she could get them to stay awhile…


The Kid leaned in and whispered, “Heyes, she’s a coffee makin’ genius! We gotta hang around and learn everythin‘ we can from her.”


“Kid, when your right, your right. We’ll stay as long as it takes, partner. Lets tell ‘er the good news.”


San Francisco: The Dancing Goats Café, 30 years later


“And that’s how I turned over a new leaf, boys, and became the best shot in the west! I owe it all to Java Sue, and of course our good friend Silky for sending her to us,” Papaw Heyes concluded his story by ruffling the hair of each of the boys.


“But Papaw, you still havn’t told us how you got the Dancing Goats. Did you win it in a poker game?”
The brown haired boy wanted to hear more.


“Yeah, and what’s “bullet proof “coffee, Papaw? Can you really make camp coffee without a fire?” The younger blonde boy could have listened to his Papaw all night.


“Well, now, that’s another story, boys. We can’t tell all our secrets at once. It’s enough to know that Java Sue taught us all we needed to know, and then some.” Papaw Heyes pointed. “That’s her portrait up there on the wall. If it wasn’t for her, we woulda never got into the coffee biz and I woulda never give up my bad coffee makin’ ways.”


Papaw Curry grabbed their empty mugs. “Now, I think it’s about time for you two youngins to get on home.” 


“Awww, Papaw.” They chimed with disappointment.


“Go on. Your mothers are waitin’. We’ll tell ya more stories tomorrow.” The two older ex-outlaws watched affectionately as their little grandsons jumped down from their stools and high tailed it home. 


After they’d gone, the Kid looked thoughtfully at his partner. “You know, Heyes, all this reminiscin’ brings to mind a few things I’ve always wondered about.  I’m startin’ to think that maybe Java was sweet...”


Heyes interrupted, “You don‘t have to wonder, Kid. She was the sweetest lady we ever did meet. I was rightly fond of her.” The two older gents turned and gazed up at her portrait with affection.


The Kid continued, “She was sweet alright, partner, but that ain‘t what I mean. Like I was sayin’, I think maybe she was sweet on me.”


The aging Heyes started to remember a few things himself, and shook his head.  “Nah, that ain’t possible. Why would you think such a thing?” 


“Well, she kept pourin’ hearts, you know, on my coffee. With that frilly Latte Art she could do, you remember? I think it meant she was sweet on me, Heyes. After all these years, I‘m startin’ to put two and two together. I think she might have fancied me.” A small smile crept onto his face at the thought.


Perplexed, Heyes studied his younger cousin. “I hate to burst your bubble there, Kid, but she put hearts on my coffee too. I thought she only did it for me, but...”


“Are you sayin’ that she fancied us both?” The Kid lost his smile and started to appear a little disgruntled. “That just don’t seem right, partner. She should a flipped a coin.” 


Heyes thought for a moment. “Nah, I think ya got it all wrong, Kid. She was probably just bein’ artistic with those hearts. She was a connoisseur, after all.”


“Yeah, but Heyes…,“ the Kid actually appeared to blush. “…did she ever pinch ya, Heyes? You know, where the sun don‘t shine?”


Heyes took off his black apron, richly embroidered with “Barist-o Heyes”, and hung it up for the night. “Now that really is another story, Kid. And I ain’t about to tell it, not even to you.”





If you would like to know what “Bullet Proof” and “Toddy” coffee is, along with the significance of “Dancing Goats” as it pertains to coffee history, I will post it when I get back into town along with some other coffee info under Historical Research on this site. Some of the info isn’t really historical, but I don't know where else to put it.

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"If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning." Mae West
coffee 


Last edited by Javabee on Mon Sep 01, 2014 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gringa

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:33 pm

This story was written by my 13 year old son who wanted to practice his English, (with a little help from Silverkelpie and his proud Mama) so I suppose that this story is by Gringo instead of Grnga.          


Coffee


“Would you like some coffee?”  


Kid Curry smiled up at the pretty waitress.  “We’re finished,” he gestured towards his empty plate.  “We asked for the check.”


“Yes, I know,” she smiled.  “My manager is putting it together.  I wondered if you’d like some coffee while you’re waiting?”


“Nah, I’m good thanks,” questioning blue eyes twinkled at his partner.  “How about you, Joshua?”


Heyes shook his head.  “No, thanks.  We just want to pay.”


The waitress hesitated, her smile twitching nervously.  “Are you sure?  It’s on the house.”


The partners shared a glance.  “Positive.”  The dark eyes narrowed.  “We just want to know how much we owe you for the meal.”


“I’ll, erm...” she shuffled, uncomfortably, “I’ll go and find out for you.”


The Kid scratched his chin pensively as he watched the girl return to the kitchen.  He glanced around the empty restaurant and sighed heavily.   “She seems kinda nervous.”               


“Yeah,” Heyes agreed.  She seemed real fixed on us having coffee.  She seems to want to delay us.”


The Kid sat back and glanced around the room.  “The man who greeted us when we came in, how long is it since you saw him?”


“Dunno, ten maybe fifteen minutes.”


The Kid nodded.  “That’s what I thought.”  He looked deeply into the dark eyes.  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”


“Sure am.  Back door?”


“Right behind you partner.”


Both men stood, tossing down a few dollars for their meal.  They weren’t about to take the risk of being accused of running out on the bill.  They slid on the hats and headed straight towards the kitchen, but the waitress stepped between them and the door.  “I’m sorry, but that is for staff only.”


The iciness of the pair of deep-blue eyes belied the warmth of the smile.  “Yeah, it’s staff we want to see.  I reckon your manager is in there.”


She frowned, but still didn’t step aside.  “Was there something wrong with the food?    


“The food was just fine, ma’am.  We left money for it.  You might want to get that before somebody takes it.”


She glanced over at the table but still did not move.  “Thank you, but there’s nobody else here.”


Blue eyes met brown.  “That’s what we figured, are you going to get out of our way, ma’am?” the Kid demanded.


“Staff only.  You can’t go into the kitchen.”


“Can I speak to the manager?” Heyes asked.


“He’s not here.”  The waitress flushed.  “Did I do something wrong?”


There was no time for an answer.  The front door to the shop clattered shut and there was a metallic click behind them.  They all turned at the sound of the door opening, the men’s hands dropping down to their guns.  A very young, male voice barked out an order.  “Put your hands up, nobody move.”


The waitress dropped her metal tray on the floor with a clatter and thrust her hands straight up, but the Kid’s gun appeared in his hand as though by magic.  The young criminal’s eyes widened and the gun started to tremble in his hand.  


“Drop it,” hissed the Kid.


“You’ll shoot me,” sniffed the youth.


“I will if you don’t drop it.”  Ice blue eyes fixed on the young gunman pushing him to do as he was told.  “Drop it right now.”


“You saw how fast he drew, son.  He could shoot you before you finished wondering where to aim,” Heyes’ voice was calm and reassuring; but had an edge of hard steel to it.  “Drop it now.  This was a real stupid idea, but so far there’s no real harm done.”


The fingers started to loosen on the weapon and the young gunman reluctantly allowed the weapon to drop to the floor.  The Kid stepped forward to pick it up but was pushed aside by the waitress rushing to stand defensively in front of the youth with her arms spread wide to hide him.  “No, don’t send him to jail.  He didn’t mean it.  It was all my fault.  This was my idea to rob the place.  We needed the money”


The Kid straightened up after collecting the gun.  “Your idea?”


Heyes strode over to the boy and pulled him out from behind his protector.  “Hiding behind a woman?  What kind of man are you?”


“I ain’t so sure he’s a man at all.  He’s more of a boy, Joshua.”


Heyes patted the slight figure down, digging into pockets and checking for concealed weapons.  “You two are in this together?  A set-up robbery?  So that’s why you wanted to delay us?  You needed us as witnesses?”


The waitress started to sob.  “Yes.  The manager had gone out and you’re strangers in town, so you wouldn’t be able to identify Jake.  He’d just be a drifter.”


“Five dollars, a pocket-knife,” Heyes pulled out a long trail of hairy string, “what’s this for?”


Jake gulped heavily.  “I wasn’t sure if I’d have to tie anyone up.  It ain’t like it’s hard to rob,” he dropped his head, “at least I thought it wasn’t.”


Heyes wound it around his hands and pulled at it hard, his professional standards insulted.  “With this?  It stretches, boy.  This wouldn’t hold a puppy for any length of time.  You go around pulling guns on people as an amateur and you’re gonna get yourself killed.  Who taught you how to hold up a place?”


“Nobody,” Jake gulped.  “I’ve never even seen one.  I read about it in a dime novel.  That one you gave me, Maggie,” he nodded over to the waitress, “the one with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”


The Kid closed his eyes slowly and released a soft groan.  “How old are you, boy?”


“Seventeen.”


“And you?” Heyes turned to the waitress.  


“Sixteen,” a tear slid down her face.  “I only wanted to have a future with Jake.  Ma and Pa don’t approve so we wanted to run away together.”


The Kid strode over to the cash drawer and pulled it open.  “There are four dollars and a few coins in here.  What kind of fresh start do you think you’ll make with that?”  He gave the waitress a long, hard look.  “Either it’s been real quiet in here or your boss has gone to the bank with the takin’s.  Ya know timing’s important when you’re pullin’ a job.  It’s real stupid to just walk in and expect it to work without plannin’ things.”      


“We’re sorry, please don’t turn us in,” the waitress pleaded.


The door handle rattled and all heads turned to see the disgruntled manager rapping at the door.  


Maggie turned glittering eyes on the partners.  “What are you going to do?” 


“You two are the stupidest criminals I’ve ever met.”  Heyes glared at both young people in turn.  “Do I have your word you’ll never do anything this dumb again?”


The handle rattled again.  The manager was not pleased to be locked out of his own establishment.  “He wants in.  It’ll be hard to explain if we delay much longer,” Heyes glowered at the couple.


“Yes!” both youngsters cried in unison.


The Kid rolled his eyes and strode over to the door.  “What’s this, we were locked in?”  He gave the lad a theatrical glare.  “Ya locked the door after you, boy.”


“Sorry, sir,” Jake squeaked.  “Force of habit I guess.”


The angry manager glowered at the waitress.  “Were you wastin’ time talking to Jake?  I don’t pay you to do that.”


“She was just collecting our payment,” Heyes  grinned, nodding towards the crumpled cash on the table.  “Weren’t you?”


“Yes,” the girl simpered.


“There’s somethin’ goin’ on.  I can tell.”  The manager looked around suspiciously.  “What are you up to, Maggie?  Your pa told me to let him know if I saw Jake around here.”


The Kid examined each of the young people in turn.  “Nothin’ to do with me.”


“Me neither,” Heyes strolled to the door.  He stopped and gave Jake a long, hard stare before following the Kid from the restaurant.    


The pair strode off, down the sidewalk.  “I really thought we were bein’ turned in, Joshua.”


“Me too.”  Heyes turned silent.


“Young folks, huh?”    


Heyes nodded.  “D’you ever wish somebody had stopped us when we pulled our first job?”


“But they didn’t, did they?  If only he knew he’d not only have lost that girl, he’d have lost the chance to settle down with any girl ever again, huh?”
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Stormr

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:13 am

It was a cool fall night, the wind picked up as the sun set. The men sat around the campfire leaning in to get the warmth from the flickering flames.  The brown haired leader picked the coffee pot up and poured himself another cup.  He then held it up, offering it to the rest of the gang. No one took him up on his offer except for the blond man sitting next to him and that was just for the warmth of holding the cup, not actually drinking the liquid inside it.  
 
Heyes looked at his partner sideways, “Aren’t you going to drink it?”


“I’m good.”


“I’m good?  What’s that supposed to mean?”


“Means, I’m good.”


“You didn’t drink the coffee.”


“That’s why I’m good,” his partner dead panned. 


“Hrmpft!”  Draining the last of his coffee from the cup, he tossed it aside.  “Fine don’t drink the coffee!  If you don’t like my coffee, you can make it next time!” Brown eyes glared at the gang before he turned and stomped off.


Tramping through the underbrush, he muttered to himself.   “Nothings wrong with my coffee.  It tastes good.  If they have such a problem with it, why doesn’t anyone else make the coffee.”  He stopped in an opening and looked up at the stars.  He was still so steamed you could see, well, steam coming from his head.  “There is nothing wrong with my coffee!”  he bellowed as he started to pace.


“Um...Heyes,”  a voice from the stars called out.


“Huh?”


“Heyes.”


The voice sounded familiar, but being in such a foul mood, he just didn’t think.  “Yeah, who wants to know?”


“Nice gentlemanly greeting you got there Hannibal Heyes.”


“Outlaws, aren’t…” then the realization of whom he was talking to set in.  He blushed with embarrassment, “Oh...hi...Storm.  I’m sorry, I…”


“I know, you’re in a very bad mood.”


“Yeah, you would be too with all the grief I get for my coffee!  My coffee is just fine.  In fact, it’s better than fine, it’s darn right good!”


“Um...Heyes…”


“What?” he barked.  “Sorry,” he winced. “You had something to say?” he said so disarmingly charming.


“Ah….”  Storm lost her train of thought as she got lost in his voice.


“You were saying something?”


“I was...oh yes, I was.”


“Well?”


“Oh, your coffee…hmm...how do I put it?”


“Put it!!  Put it!!!” he repeated.  “You have to ‘put it’?”


“Well, yeah,” she swallowed a little hard.


“So how do you have to ‘put it’?”  he spit out.


“It sucks!”  she clasped her hand over her mouth, that was not how she had wanted to say it but with him yelling at her, it just came out.  


“Excuse me?”  he said quietly.


“I’m sorry Heyes.  Your coffee just isn’t good.”


“You don’t like my coffee?”


Oh, he sounded so hurt.  “I’m sorry,” she apologized.


“No, that’s okay,”  he looked away.


“I didn’t mean it to come out that way.”


“What way did you mean it to come out?  That you liked my coffee?”


“No, that wouldn’t be it but I was trying to be a little softer not quite so…”


“Blunt?”


She winced.  “Yeah,” she nodded, “blunt.”  She studied the man who once again started to pace.  


“I guess you make real good coffee,” he sneared.


“Sure, it’s real easy.  Just pop a k-cup in the keurig and 30 seconds later, a nice hot cup of good coffee is done.”


“How do you drink out of a cup shaped like a K and what the heck is a keurig?”


“It’s not the shape of the cup, its the pod the coffee comes in.”


“Pod, don’t you have roasted beans or do you have to roast them in the pan first?  Guess you have to take them out of the pods and then roast them.  Maybe if I did that...I can’t do that.  Pods take up too much space in a saddlebag and then to get the beans and roast them, that’s just too much time.  We have to watch out for posses!”


“Pods are not pods of beans, it’s what holds the ground coffee...ooohh...forget it.  That’s not important.  It’s not my coffee in question - it’s yours and you don’t have those things.  You can’t even use a percolator on the stove to make coffee.  Though I understand that hasn’t helped you either.”


“You can leave now.”


“Excuse me?”


“You can leave.  If I want to get criticized on my coffee, I can go back to the gang.”


“Heyes…”


“Really, I’m good.”


“You’re good.  Where did you hear that from?”  


“Kid.  He told me he was good.”


“Kid?  Where did he hear that from.”


“How the heck do I know?”  his voice began to rise.


“Okay...okay.  I get it.  I was just trying to help.”


“By telling my coffee…”  he gritted his teeth.


“Stunk.”


“That’s not how you ‘put it’.”


“No, that’s not how I put it and I’m sorry.  I understand you have it hard, and its not easy making coffee where you are but maybe you could try a few different things to make it better.”


“Like what?”  he sneered.


“Like maybe use a little less coffee and a little more water.”


He glared at the sky.


She rolled her eyes.  “Heyes, have you ever heard of the saying “It will put hair on your chest?”


“No.”


“Well, your coffee...it’s like...well…”


“Yes…” he snarked.


“Okay, one cup you get a little furry, two and you are a full fledged wolfman!”


His jaw dropped.  “What’s the point in making coffee if its not strong?”


“Strong is one thing, being able to stand a spoon up in your coffee is another.”


“You just don’t appreciate a good cup of coffee.”


“Excuuuuussse me!  Do not ever say I don’t appreciate my coffee.  And that isn’t all tobacco in Kyles teeth!” 


“Well you have it easy!”


“I know but still…”


“Well, until you make coffee over an open fire, while on the run from a posse, I don’t want to hear my coffee is bad!”  He stomped around.  “And Kyle likes my coffee!”


“You win.”


Heyes smiled, his eyes twinkled.


“Still, you could do things to make it better.”


“Like what?”  he groaned.


“Well to start with, I hope you don’t put an egg shell in the coffee.”


“Seriously, where am I going to get an egg shell?”


“Good.  Eel skin?”


“No.”


“Well, right there it’s better,”  she smiled.  “I think you should use a little less coffee and more water.  After its boiled a few minutes, swirl the pot a little and then let it sit for a minute or two so the ground set on the bottom.  Then carefully pour the coffee without tipping the pot too much.”


He sighed.


“And make sure Wheat gets the last cup.”


He arched his eyebrows.


“The grounds have to go somewhere.  When you tip that pot, they’ll all slide into his cup!”


Heyes’ eyes sparkled, he turned his head towards the sound of someone approaching.


Kid walked into the clearing and held his hand out.  “Coffee?”


“Thanks,”  Heyes took the cup and lifted it to his lips.  He sighed, yeah, a little gritty, maybe he would think about Storm’s suggestions.


Kid took a sip from the cup he was holding.  “Not bad.”


Heyes looked at his partner.


“I know you get a lot of grief about your coffee, but heck, its cowboy coffee.  It ain’t supposed to be good.”  He took another sip, “And besides, what would girls write if everyone loved your coffee.”


Heyes shrugged, “Guess it ain’t my fault then.”  He raised his cup in salute and then drained it.  “Have some new ideas.  Think I’ll make another pot”


“Whatever you want, Heyes.”


“Make sure Wheat gets the last cup,”  he smiled.


Kid had no idea what his partner was thinking, but he was sure he didn’t want to be Wheat or anyone who drank the last cup.  He patted his partner on the back as they started to walk back towards the gang.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Coffee   Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:08 am

Musings on a Midnight

I sit here with coffee -- black, strong.  Perhaps much too strong.  It is needed to keep me awake whilst I ponder my next piece.

I hold pen to paper.  A much too old-fashioned quill reminds me of my humble beginnings, but a trip to the local general store brought my writing instrument into the modern age -- a Waterman, complete with the new ink feed.  I stare at my desk tableau:  still life with fountain pen.

The tablet before me is also fresh from the mercantile.  Its blank surface beckons pen to page, with a necessary dip in the well.  Black, inky cursive to a willing, virginal leaf.  The lines will keep my too flowing hand even and legible.

What to scribe?  The confessions of a once notorious outlaw pair?  If so, where to begin?  At the beginning?  A once happy childhood blasted to pieces by war?  Surely the papers were rife with them post-conflict.  A memoir of a childhood lost?  Well, as one of them might say, it wasn't lost, just shot to pieces.  (Hmm, I must not repeat myself, but their phrasings are difficult to resist.)  Skip forward then ... institutionalized adolescence.  That of itself might find an audience, but I fear Miss Addams is exhausting the collective consciousness on it far more than I could add my own uninformed jots.  Ah, anew -- good youth led down the wrong road by vicious grifters ready to pounce, their soon-to-be young accomplices taken under their wing with promises of easy riches, charmingly disarming doughy dowagers and other dubious and disastrous enterprises performed under duress, or perhaps they were all too willing.  (Note:  Check that last statement; will change the whole narrative.)

Now we arrive mostly at the age of consent, contractual and otherwise.  They were lost by then, surely -- wanted by the law for nigh on the next decade, almost.  Astonishingly clever, good-hearted but bad, until they found their way back.  Perhaps tellings of the time away, prodigals finding their way home, or to the right side of the law.  Not being able to convince their robbing brethren to join them on the greener side of the fence.  Wait, this is not a sermon, but sounds as if any preacher worth his stripes could gather the flock with such a message on any sundry Sunday morning.  No, this must be along the lines of something exciting:  outlawry, thievery, hold-ups, the glory and glamour of a genius and a fast draw.  Sadly, the real story is anti-climactic compared to the dime novels, and that is not my calling.

Numerous ideas have come and gone, discarded or filed away for another time.  A fresh slant on overexposed characters is difficult, hyped as they have been of late in the rags. 

Amnesty.  That in itself should provide new angles but only conjures up rehashment of legend, derring-do of alleged gentlemen bandits, but no Robin Hoods they.  That they shot no one in their thieving heyday says loads, but boils down to supreme contradiction:  kind-hearted bad men?  Were we to believe such a thing, we would have victims of circumstance on our hands.  I presume even they would knock that on its head as mere speculation (if they knew what it meant).

Deadlines loom at midnight, and it is far too close on to the witching hour to start anything expansive.  Something short will have to suffice.  Perhaps another set of characters.  I wonder what Mr. Twain is up to these days.

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Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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