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 Story Of The Year 2015 January - April

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Which one of our wonderful writers wins your vote to go through for the finals of Story Of The Year?
1. Parenthood - Silverkelpie - The Devil's Hole gets a new cook, put he dertainly knows how to stir the pot.
Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_lcap33%Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_rcap
 33% [ 6 ]
2. True Blue - Remuda - A rusty rifle stands as a metaphor for a damaged human being. The Kid see the dignity beneath the damage.
Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_lcap44%Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_rcap
 44% [ 8 ]
3. A Shot In The Dark - Silverkelpie - The shot in the dark is putting a dying cat out of it's misery, but how will that make the Kid feel?
Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_lcap11%Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_rcap
 11% [ 2 ]
4. This Town Ain't Big Enough... - SheilaUK - How big does a town need to be to make it worth robbing? In a town without a sheriff, the Devil's Hole Gang manage to find one before he finds them.
Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_lcap11%Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Vote_rcap
 11% [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 18
 

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Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Empty
PostSubject: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyTue Sep 01, 2015 6:02 am

Time for us to vote on our next heat for Story Of The Year.  As usual the stories will be listed in the polling thread for your convenience.  We have January to April in this section, so to jog your memories we have the following winners for to revist:

January - Parenthood.  What's more challenging; raising children or running Devil's Hole?    Guntoot Guntoot 


Silverkelpie 




February - True Blue   Suspect


Remuda


March - A Shot In The Dark   shoot


Silverkelpie   


April - This Town Ain't Big Enough  Draw


SheilaUK


Last edited by Admin on Thu Oct 01, 2015 6:22 am; edited 2 times in total
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Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Empty
PostSubject: January - Parenthood - Silverkelpie   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyTue Sep 01, 2015 6:05 am

Chili Con Carnage




Appraising brown eyes smiled at the bleary-eyed gunman.  “Sleep well?”




“Ya know I didn’t,” the Kid dropped into a chair.  “Is there any coffee?”




“Yeah, in the pot.”  




A grimace flickered over the fair man’s face.  “I guess I’ll make some more.”




“I just told you there was some in the pot.”




“Yeah, but that means you made it, considerin’ there’s nobody else here. “  The Kid hauled himself to his feet.  “I’ve had a bad night, I ain’t gonna make it a bad start to the day too.  Who was caterwaulin’ at the top of his voice like that?  I’ll kill him.”




“I think that was our employer’s son.  He’s got a liking for songs about girls from Nantucket.”  




“Yeah, but only ones of ‘great renown.’  Those words are burned into my memory after hearing them over and over,” the Kid lifted the pot, “and over.  What’s so special about Nantucket anyway?”    


“Probably good as Bristol City for rhyming; judging by the amount of mentions that got too.  He used to be a sailor, so he likes his songs salty.”  Heyes smiled as the contents of the coffee pot were tipped away.   “Mrs. Malone made the coffee.”




Pained blue eyes hooked his partner.  “Why didn’t you tell me before I poured it away?”




“Because you were rude about my coffee again.  I thought you could wait,” Heyes tossed back the rest of his drink, “but I’ll have some if you’re making it.”




“How come you’re so bright anyway?  You must have heard it too.”




“I don’t need as much sleep as you,” Heyes retorted with an irritating grin.  “I do my best thinking at night.”




“Yeah?  I did some pretty good thinking myself, and if I see that idiot before I get some rest I’ll be tempted to follow through on it.”




“Mrs. Malone doesn’t seem to have much control of her son,” Heyes reflected.




“It’s gotta be hard for an older woman to stand up to a sailor returned from the sea without a man to back her up,” a smile tugged at the gunman’s lips.  “Kinda like a young ‘un runnin’ an outlaw gang without a quick gun.”  Heyes glanced around nervously.  “Relax, nobody’s about.  There sure were some fun times back then.  Runnin’ the Hole could be like baptizin’ cats at times.  Bringin’ up children has got to be easier.”




“I dunno,” Heyes swung pensively back on his chair.  “Remember Lazarus?”




Blue eyes danced with memories.  “Do I?  A one-legged cook?  What were you thinkin’?”




“He came recommended and needed a job,” Heyes shrugged, “and we needed a cook real bad.”




“Yeah, well real bad is just what we got.  I remember the day we met him.  What was the name of that town?  Ah, yes.  Trickle...”




Heyes shook his head.  “Nah, that was the name of the sheriff.  Walter Trickle.  He was pretty useless.  That’s why we went there to kick back.  The town was called Crumbling Butte.”




“Yeah, how could I forget that?  We were in the bar weren’t we...?”




Five Years Earlier




“Heyes?  I met up with an ole pal.  I thought you’d like ta meet him.”  




Hannibal Heyes looked up at the twinkling, puppy-dog eyes and joyful jowls of his explosives man.  “Ya did, Kyle?”




“Yeah, you’ll like him.  Well, what’s left of him, anyways.”




“Huh?”  Heyes turned, his interest piqued.  “Left of him?”




“Yeah, he was an explosives man in the war, then he rode with a few outfits.  I met him when I was in the Carter gang out Utah way.”  Kyle turned and whistled through uneven teeth.  “Hey, Lazarus.  Git over here!”




The Kid grinned.  “Lazarus?”  




They all turned to observe the remains of the man who stomped up to them on a wooden leg; which from the fluted gouges and rich turns had obviously been retrieved from a good piece of furniture.  He raised  a right arm which ended in a hook.  “Howdy, fellas.”




“Lazarus?”  Heyes repeated.




“The real name’s plain old Bob.  Bob Terry.  I get called Lazarus on account of risin’ from the dead after an explosion; well most of me, anyways.”  He waved his right arm.  “It took my leg and my arm, but I survived.”




The outlaw leader nodded sympathetically towards the eye patch over his right eye.  “And that too?”




“No.  That was an itch.”




“Some kind of infection?” queried the Kid.




“Nah,” the right arm was raised again.  “It was my first day with the hook.”




There was a brief silence before laughter drifted through the tobacco smoke clouding the bar.  “We’s lookin’ for a cook, Heyes and Lazarus is great at it.  It’s what he’s been doin’ since he lost them bits.  He’s the best one-legged cook in the whole territory.  Real trustworthy too.  He’s never seen a law he wouldn’t break.  How about it?”




Heyes swung back on his chair.  “Why’d you leave your last outfit?”




“I didn’t.  Most of ‘em left me.”  The mobile features arranged themselves into a grin which revealed that many of his teeth were also casualties of a life of hard knocks.  “They got caught; and them that didn’t has gone south.  ‘Tweren’t my cookin’ that’s for sure.”




Heyes nodded.  “And before them?”




“The Thompsons,” Lazarus shrugged.  “I might have helped them get caught.  They ate an awful lot of boggy-top and biscuits.  That mighta slowed ‘em down a bit.”




The Kid settled back in his chair.  “You just cook?  You even done any outlawin’?”




“Sure have.  I used to be a dynamite man,” Lazarus shuffled on his Sheraton style prosthetic.  “I didn’t get this lot from choppin’ too fast, did I?  I had to learn a new skill.  I make the best chili this side of the Pecos.”




Heyes glanced at his cousin for a second opinion, but the warmth in the twinkling blue glint already confirmed his own thoughts.  “You got yourself a chance, Lazarus.  Wheat’s over at the store getting supplies.  Go and see if you want to add anything to the order.”




Kyle backslapped his old friend, ducking quickly to avoid a hooked return.  “C’mon, Lazarus.  Let’s git goin’.  Welcome to the Devil’s Hole Gang.  I can’t wait ta sink my teeth into your huckdummies again.  There ain’t nobody cooks ‘em like you.”




oooOOOooo




The Kid sat on the porch of the leader’s cabin, swinging back on his chair.  Life was dreary at the hole in the winter because it was too easy to follow tracks in the snow and a horse could stumble on ice.  It wasn’t worth the risk, so they stayed close to home and bided their time.  Things could get rambunctious as the boys got more and more bored, but life was surprisingly smooth at the moment.   Lazarus was a great cook; the gang would play poker in the evenings after a day of odd jobs.  They seemed to sleep late and live quietly for the moment.  So far so good, but it was only early January.  Men forced together in close proximity would soon get on each other’s nerves.  




Sharp blue eyes scanned the men heading out to relieve the guards, but there was something in the way they wove towards the end of the valley which made the gunman stand.  “Heyes!  Git out here.”




“What is it?”




The Kid nodded towards the relief guards.  “Trouble.”




The brown eyes narrowed.  “Huh?  At this time in the morning?”




“Looks like it.”




The outlaw leader strode decisively from the porch and headed straight for Kyle and Wheat closely followed by his cousin.  “Hi.”  




Kyle stopped and spread his hands in question.  “Are you angry at me, Kid?”




“Why should I be angry at you, Kyle?”




The rumpled outlaw drew aimless circles with his toe.  “No reason, Kid.  Just wondered is all.”    




The partners exchanged a glance before Heyes spoke again.  “How are you two feeling this morning?”




“I’m good,” Wheat twitched his moustache before wiping his nose on his sleeve.  “We’re just going to relieve the watch.”




Heyes frowned, noting the glazed eyes and slurred speech.  “Do you think you’re fit for it?”




“Sure, we’s dressed real warm,” Kyle grinned and patted his chest.  




“That ain’t what we’re talkin’ about,” the Kid cut in.




“Something’s not right.”  Heyes walked over to Wheat and sniffed before doing the same to Kyle.  He grimaced and tuned back to his partner.  “I think it could be due to alcohol.”




Kyle guffawed and punched his leader lightly on the shoulder.  “That’s alright, Heyes.   I’ll come back when you’re sober.”  




“No, Kyle.  You!”  Heyes turned and glared at Wheat.  “And you.  You’re swaying from side to side.  How many of me do you see?”




“There are always too many, that’s for damn sure,” Wheat muttered.  “I’m fine.”




“No you ain’t,” the Kid snapped.  “I saw you winding your way from the bunkhouse like a horse on ryegrass.  Where’d you get it?”




“Get what?”  Kyle’s’ contrived innocence only served to underscore his guilt.  “We ain’t done nothin’”




“Nothing?” Heyes barked.  “You’re completely roostered!  How can you guard the place like that?”




“I’m fine, Heyes,” the sun caught the beads of perspiration on Wheat’s ruddy face.                              




“You know I allow one bottle of whiskey a day for the bunkhouse because we can’t afford to be caught drunk,” Heyes barked.  “Unless you two necked it between you there’s been more booze around than I allow.  What’s going on?”




“It ain’t no more than prairie dew,” Kyle protested.  “It’s just somethin’ Lazarus cooked up from old ‘taters.”  




“Potatoes?” the Kid demanded.  




“Yeah,” Wheat nodded.  “It ain’t whiskey.  It’s just a few vegetables.  What harm can that do?”




“It can get you shot because you’re too drunk to defend the place,” growled the Kid.  “Has everyone been drinkin’ this stuff?”




“Not everyone,” Kyle replied.  “Lazarus ain’t givin’ it away and some is too mean to pay knowin’ that you give us whiskey for free.”  




“Good!  Come with me,” Heyes turned on his heel and headed down towards the bunkhouse.




“We get off with guard duty?” chirped Kyle.




“You ain’t got off with anythin’,” the Kid retorted.  “Once you sober up you’re gonna face the consequences.”




“T’ain’t fair” Wheat protested.  “All we did was drink some ‘tater juice.”




“Yah, got sozzled when you should be on duty,” the Kid glowered.  “You’ll be doing extra shifts to make up for it.”




“And no whiskey for a month!” Heyes added.




“Aw, but...”




“No arguments,” Heyes called over his shoulder.  “I’m beginning to see how Lazarus’ last gang got themselves caught.  I’m going to nip this in the bud.”




“Potatoes ain’t got buds,” snickered Kyle.




“Ya ever heard the sayin’, ‘when you’re in a hole stop diggin’’?” demanded the Kid.  




Wheat and Kyle trotted behind Heyes as he strode towards the cookhouse.  “Yah ever heard the sayin’ ‘sleep with one eye open’?” the larger outlaw muttered.




“Keep talkin’, Wheat,” growled the Kid, “you ain’t exactly burned your bridges, but you’re sure loosenin’ the bolts.”    






oooOOOooo




Lazarus plunged his hook into the barrel and pulled out the joint of brined beef.  He slapped it onto the table and lifted the knife in his left hand.  Heyes paused at the door to the cookhouse.  “Hi, Lazarus.  Got a minute?”




One grey eye fixed on the speaker.  “For you, Boss?  Always.”




“Good,” Heyes strolled in glancing around the building.  “I’ve come to see you about your moonshine.”




The knife was thrown into the table with a ‘tduff’ before it waved back and forth like a menacing metronome.  “Moonshine?”




The dark eyes never left the cook’s face.  “Yeah.  The gut warmer you’ve been making from potatoes.”  Heyes folded his arms.  “I’ve just found two men drunk on their turn on watch.  I can’t have that, Lazarus.  In fact, let me be clearer; I won’t have it. ”




“I didn’t mean no harm by it.  I just like to keep folks happy.  What’s wrong with celebratin’ Tuesday?  There ain’t nuthin’ else to do around here.”




Lazarus shrugged.  “There’s plenty to do around here.  There’s making sure nobody can surprise us for starters, then there’s general fixing up the place... we don’t have time in summer.”




“Yeah, but men get bored of an evenin’.  I like something full of the strong stuff.  So do they.”




“I’ll fetch Wheat.  He’s about as full of the strong stuff as a man can be and still remain upright.  This place isn’t about what you like.  How come you kept this secret from me?”




“T’weren’t a secret, Boss.  I just thought you might... disapprove.”  




“You knew he’d skin your hide,” growled the Kid from the doorway.  “How much were you sellin’ this stuff for?”




“Two bits a bottle.”




Heyes propped his hands on his hips.  “And how many have you sold?”  He watched the cook’s eyes drop to the floor as he ‘ummed’ and ‘ooh’d’ evasively.  “Out with it!”




“Three or four...”




“Bottles?” the Kid demanded.




Lazarus shook his head.  “Gallons...”




Gallons!?” exclaimed Heyes and Curry in unison.  “How long has this been going on?”




“Not long.  Just a few weeks...”




Heyes raised his hand and rubbed his face, beating down the instinct to smack the grinning cook in the mouth.  “So there are a couple of gallons of hooch somewhere, waiting for you to sell it on?”




“Nope.  I sold it already.”  Lazarus widened his one good eye innocently.  “I’m makin’ a new batch now.”




“Stay where you are.   Kid, come with me.  We got gallons of gut warmer to find before the boys neck it.”




oooOOOooo




Wheat rolled off his bunk with a snarl.  “This ain’t fair.  First yah send me back to the bunk house. Then you hunt me out of bed ta look under the mattress?  ‘The man’ says drinkin’s wrong and we all stop it?  ‘The man’ forbids it so we don't do it.  ‘The man’ tells us what to do and we all jump to it!  Is that how it is?  It’s like bein’ in jail.”




Kyle frowned.  “Who are all these fellas?”




“They’re me!” barked Heyes, rolling back the bedding




Kyle nodded.  “Is you seein’ double too, Wheat?”  




The Kid rolled his eyes.  “Where’s everyone else?”




Wheat smirked while Kyle suddenly recognized the endlessly fascinating qualities of the ceiling.  “Dunno, Heyes.  They’s all gone out.”




“You know what this means, Heyes,” the Kid snapped closed the trunk he’d just rifled through without finding any contraband.  “They’re out hidin’ the hooch all over the hole!”




Heyes raised his eyes to the heavens and muttered as though in prayer.  “Give me strength.  Dealing with this lot is like trying to tie a knot in fog.  No wonder they call this The Devil’s Hole.  If I died and went to hell it’d take me a week to realize it.  I’m starting to feel sorry for the staff at Valparaiso.  Do you think we were this bad, Kid?”




“Worse,” came the chuckled reply, “but at least we think like the gang.  Criminals ain’t complicated, Heyes.  They’re always workin’ at bein’ either lazy or selfish.  Right now they’re bein’ selfish.  We got hit them with lazy as a reward to get them to work as a team.”




“Yeah?  Well there’s a huge ‘A’ in this team, if you catch my meaning.  I’m going to start by cutting off the source.” Heyes kicked the door back against the wall with a clatter.  “Where does Lazarus keep his still?”    




oooOOOooo




“So where is it, Lazarus?”  Heyes’ eyes glittered dangerously.  “And don’t even try to sell me any stories about there being no permanent set-up.  You don’t turn around that amount of hooch in a day or two.”




Lazarus nodded.  “I put it somewhere folks don’t go very often.”




“Yeah?  Where’s that?” the Kid demanded.


       
“You know the hut at the end o’ the place?”  Lazarus watched his bosses closely.  “The one with all the tools and creosote and fixin’ up stuff...?”




Heyes nodded.  “It’s in there?”  




“Nope.  You go passed there, ain’t nobody goes near the work stuff.”  The cook pegged his way to the door on his wooden leg and pointed outside.  “Ya can’t set up a still inside.  You’ll burn the place down.  It’s real stinky too.  You go passed the buildin’s and down towards the river.”




“The gang go down to the river all the time,” Heyes replied.  “So do we.  Why hasn’t anyone seen anything?”




“Not that way, they don’t,” a grin twitched beneath the eye patch.  “They go the easy way.  Mine is up near the rocks, where the trees get thick.  Ain’t nobody goes there.”




The Kid propped his hands on his hips.  “Show us.”  




They followed the cook across the well-worn paths.  They went passed the bunkhouse, the corrals, the latrines, the barns and the various shacks; then through the long grass which snagged the man’s old table leg.  The Kid kicked out at a snaring shrub.  “There ain’t a path.  How did you get a still down here with your leg?”




Lazarus turned and tapped the side of his nose with a hook.  “Bit by bit.  It don’t come as a machine, you know.  It’s tubes an’ stuff.”




“But still...it’s gonna be hard with just one hand.”




“I gotta hook, Kid.  You stick it all in a bathtub and drag it behind by the handle.  I used my smarts.  I mighta lost lots o’ bits, but I ain’t lost my mind.  Not yet anyways...”




“What about your patience?”  Heyes muttered.  “I’m right out of it.”




“We’re here.”  Lazarus stopped and cast his hook in the direction of a thicket where vapors wafted through the natural cover of foliage.  




Heyes frowned.  “There’s steam?  You have to keep a fire burning?”




“Sure.  It’s perfectly safe.  I’ve been doin’ this for years.  I feed it every two hours.”  Lazarus limped forward.  As they turned the bend the still came into view; a copper and rubber contraction which puffed, chugged and huffed great clouds of billowing steam.  




The cook raised a log to throw it back under the copper, but a yell from Heyes caused him to catch himself.  “I didn’t bring you here to feed the thing.  I want it dismantled!”




The log slipped from Lazarus’ left hand, already caught by the momentum of his attempt to toss it on the fire.  It bounced off the nearest tree and into the galvanized bucket sitting under the dripping tap which collected the dripping, filtered alcohol.  It tipped over, the clear liquid spilling into the fire which sat under the tun containing the potato mash being boiled for the first stage of the distillation.  The fire flashed up in excited fingers of blue flame, licking the grass and the dry winter branches with alcoholic zeal as the cook let out a cry.  “It’s spreadin’ too fast.”  He took off his jacket and started beating out the flames around him, appealing to his bosses for help.  “It ain’t rained.  These things’ll explode if we don’t stop this.”




The Kid nodded and took out his gun, shooting in the air to attract attention.  “They’d better stop hidin’ all that booze and come runnin’!”  




Heyes grabbed the bucket from amongst the flames and kicked it over to the river to cool it down enough to grab it and start throwing buckets of water over the cracking and spluttering grass.  The vicious hiss coming from the cloud of steam turned to an alarming squeal which made everyone pause and stare at it in concern.




“It’s gonna blow!” bellowed Lazarus, turning to run.  “Git outta here!”




Heyes and Curry ran, but the old man’s disability seemed to hit both men at the same time, and they turned on their heels and sprinted back the way they'd come.  Lazarus was a good fifty yards behind then and was stomping towards them, but he wasn’t quick enough.




There was an ear-shattering boom and flashes of blue and yellow flame ripped through the air, lifting the recalcitrant chef off his feet and sending him into the river with an enormous belly flop and the Sheraton style wooden-leg flying through the air in the opposite direction.        


     
The Kid jumped into the water, wading through the thigh-deep flow until he flipped Lazarus right way up.  “Are you hurt?  Speak to me.”




“My leg...,” he moaned.  “My leg....”


                             
Alert blue eyes quickly scanned the remaining limb for injury but found nothing obviously wrong.  “Where?  Tell me.”




“My leg!”




The gunman dragged him ashore where Heyes helped to pull the soggy cook onto the riverbank.  “He says he hurt his leg.”




“It looks fine to me.”  Heyes took the ankle and gingerly manipulated it.  “How does that feel?”




“It feels fine!  I’m talking about my other leg.”




“Your stump?”  the Kid queried.




“No!  My wooden leg.”  Lazarus sat up and blinked his one good eye at them.  “Where’s it gone?”  




“Oh, that!”  Heyes dragged off his hat in frustration.  “I dunno.  “It went flying.  I was more worried about you than some dumb bit of furniture.”




“But it’s got all my money in it.  My life’s savin’s.”




“In your leg?”




“Sure,” Lazarus blinked at them.  “There’s a high criminal element around here.  I ain’t leavin’ it lyin’ around.”  




The Kid turned at the arrival of the gang, here at last to help.  “Where’ve you lot been?  Heyes fired a warnin’ shot ages ago.”




“We ain’t bloodhounds, Kid,” sniffed the Preacher.  We had to find ya first.”  He nodded towards the still burning bushes.  “The fireworks sure helped.”




“Yeah,” Kyle leaned against a nearby tree.  “What you been doing?  Ain’t nobody told ya that fightin’ fire with fire is just an expression?”  He stood upright again, the shifting weight made the tree waver and jiggle.  He jumped back as a heavy object tumbled from the branches above, clunking the half-drowned cook firmly on the noggin.




“I guess Lazarus found his leg,” muttered the Kid.  


   
“Yeah.  That’s the end of your moonshine, boys,” Heyes stood and glared at each of the gang in turn.  “Now get that fire put out and we’ll get Lazarus back to the bunkhouse.  Peacher!  Come with us to check him out...”




oooOOOooo




Five years later – Mrs. Malone’s Guesthouse.      




“Yeah,” Heyes sat back with a smile, “they were a wild gang to manage but they weren’t bad at heart.”




The Kid arched a cynical brow.  “Bad?  They were more crooked than a dog’s hind leg.  Lazarus got his carved leg back, but he only got half his money.”




“And we never did find all those bottles of moonshine,” chuckled Heyes.  “They hid them all over the place; in the rafters of buildings, under bushes, in holes.  I bet there are rabbits bumping their heads on them to this day.”




There were the sounds of voices drifting down from the floor above.




“Sounds like Mrs. Malone’s trying to get the sailor outta bed,” the Kid observed.”




The female voice rose an octave to mezzo soprano.  




“It sounds like he ain’t too pleased at the notion,” Heyes replied.      




There was the clunk of something heavy against a wooden object.  “Sounds like a boot bein’ thrown.”




Heyes nodded, his gaze sliding cautiously over to his cousin.  “Yup.”  Muffled shouting blared through the ceiling, escalating into a cacophony of anger.  “He sure doesn’t like to be wakened, does he?”




“Who does,” growled the Kid with feeling.




The battle continued overhead, still hard to distinguish, with only the music of the words discernible as the volume rose.  There was another whump as the partner of the first projectile was reunited with its partner which provoked a female scream.




“It’s not our fight, Kid,” Heyes warned the twitchy gunman.  “Ya don’t want to get in between family.”




There was a shattering smash which brought the Kid to his feet.  “That’s it,” he declared.  “I’ve had enough.  He kept me awake all night and now he’s throwing things at his Ma.  He needs a lesson, but at least your story told me what I need to do here.”




“It did?” Heyes queried.




“Yeah, I’m gonna rip his leg off and beat him over the head with it.”
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Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Empty
PostSubject: February - True Blue - Remuda    Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyTue Sep 01, 2015 6:07 am

The Rifle

Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry rode into yet another dry, dusty town in their quest for a few days’ respite from a long, never-ending trail.  Pulling their hats forward to shield their faces from close view, they rode past the sheriff’s office and glanced over.  Imperceptibly smiling at each other at the unfamiliarity of the local constable’s posted name, they scanned the array of businesses and pulled up to a saloon.  Dismounting and tethering their mounts, they strode toward the entrance.

“Get outta here, you drunk!  Done told ya enough is enough!”

Two ex-outlaw pairs of eyes met with a mutual shrug, then started as a large body bowled through the door, knocking Kid Curry off his feet and almost sending Hannibal Heyes to the same fate.  Reaching an arm over the still thrashing ejected one to help his partner up finally pulled Heyes into the heap as the swirling eddy of humanity engulfed him.

Dazed for a moment, Heyes rolled free of the tangle, only to be hit in the shoulder by another missile – a rifle, which thudded to the boardwalk to his side.  He ducked to avoid any further projectiles, human or otherwise. 

“Take yer trash and stay out!”

Kid Curry grasped at the man pinning him.  One hand instinctively reached for his gun belt.  Satisfied his pistol still lay secure in its holster, he renewed his effort to free himself. 
 
“Now, Thaddeus!”

Seeking the split second of opportunity afforded by his partner’s lifting of one shoulder of the now slurred-shouting ejectee, Curry rolled free.  Picking himself up, he bent to his knees to catch his breath.
 
Heyes appeared alongside.  “Okay?”

Kid nodded.

Heyes squeezed his partner’s shoulder.  “Good.”  Shifting his attention to the now quiet, supine man, he stooped to lend a hand.  “Let’s get you up.”  The man did not move.  The ex-outlaw leader bent to one knee, pressing his hand flat against and lightly tapping the man’s cheek. 
“Mister?”

Several seconds later, one eye opened.  “Dammit.”

Heyes recoiled from the stench.

“Not again, Hanson!”

Regaining his breath, Kid straightened up as a man with a star on his shirt approached.  He warned in a low tone, “Heyes.”

“I see him.”

The sheriff reached them, surveying the scene.  “You two look a little worse for wear.  Tell Smitty the bartender inside your drinks’re on me.  Sorry for the trouble.”

The sheriff, though wiry and not as tall, effortlessly grabbed the now unconscious, floored man under the shoulders, dragging him toward the jail across the street and half a block down. 

Heyes and Curry dusted themselves off. 

“Sheriff’s strong,” noted Heyes.  “Wouldn’t expect that strength in a man his size.”

Kid glanced after them.  “Yeah.” 

“Let’s get that drink.  Nice of the sheriff.”  Heyes walked ahead.

“Um hm.”

The dark-haired partner held the door.  With no hand soon taking it, he glanced behind him to see Curry stooping.
“Thaddeus?”

Kid stood with the forgotten rifle in his hand, inspecting it.

Heyes rubbed his shoulder with his free hand.  “Not every day I get hit twice.”

Curry smiled briefly at his partner before eyeing the long gun again.  “Haven’t seen one of these since the war.  Hasn’t been taken care of, though.  It’s rustin’ up.”

Heyes stepped out of the entrance to let a customer exit, peacefully this time.  “Rusting?  Gotta take better care of guns than that.”

Kid smiled at his partner.  “My feelin’s exactly.  Where’d ya learn that?”

Heyes rolled his eyes before turning serious.  “Better leave that where you found it.”

Blue eyes twinkled.  “You know I can’t do that.  Blue this up and it’ll be good as new.”  He thought.  “Well, at least a good lookin’ relic.  Have it back to him before he wakes up.”

“You mean, go to the sheriff’s office?”

“Yup.”

Heyes’ eyes grew wide.  The “look” overshadowed his countenance.  “There you go again.”

“What?”  Curry sighed.  “It’ll be fine.  The sheriff’s obliged to us.”  He paused.  “At least he seems to be.”

Heyes shook his head and stepped inside, glancing behind to ensure his partner followed.

oooOOOooo

“You two look like ya tangled with a cat.  Sorry for the trouble, gents.  Some don’t know how to hold their liquor.  What’ll it be?”
Heyes placed two five-cent pieces on the bar.  “Two beers.”  Spying a jar of hard-boiled eggs, he asked, “These free.”

Smitty placed the pair of brews on the bar.  “Yup, with a drink.  And keep yer money.  Bet the sheriff said they’re on him.”

Heyes nodded.  Grabbing a mug, he asked, “How’d you know?”

“That’s what he does, ‘specially if strangers is involved.”

Heyes gulped half his drink.  “Ah, that’s good.”  He replaced the mug on the bar.  “Lotta trouble around here?”

“Not usually.  Sheriff keeps a tight rein on things ‘round these parts.”

“I see.” 

Spying his partner’s untouched beer, Heyes looked at him.  Curry stood two steps back from the bar, examining the rifle.

“That thing’s seen better days,” Smitty offered.

Heyes smirked at his partner’s lack of reaction.  “I think Thaddeus here would agree with you.”

Curry looked up.  “Huh?”

Heyes shook his head.  “That the rifle’s seen better days.  Your thirst leave you all of a sudden?”

“Um, no.”  Kid grabbed his mug and sipped before replacing it.  Indicating the rifle, he looked at Smitty.  “It has seen better days.  Just needs a little attention is all.”

The barkeeper started to turn to new customers.  “Don’t bother.  It’ll just encourage him more.”

Curry’s brow furrowed.  He glanced at Heyes, who shrugged.

Smitty returned.  “You gussy that thing up right, it’ll start all over again.  Do us and yourself a favor and burn it.  Maybe then he’ll move on.”

“What’d he do?”

Heyes stood aside, momentarily forgotten, watching the speakers, outwardly showing disinterest while his curiosity was as piqued as his partner’s.  He never could resist a good story.

Smitty related flatly, “He’s a no good drunk.  Arrived in town a few months ago and been hangin’ ‘round since.  Spends nights in the livery with his no good nag; glue factory’s best place for the sorry beast.  That’s when he’s not sleepin’ off a drunk in the alley or in jail when the sheriff gets feelin’ sorry for him.  Sorry lot of humanity he is.”

Curry reflected.  “There’s probably a good fella underneath.  Too many good men hide behind a bottle.  I’ve known a few.”  He indicated the rifle.  “What about this?”

Smitty continued.  “You get rid of that rusted piece of crap, you get rid o’ him.”

“Means a lot to him?”

“Yup.”

“It’s seen better days, but with a bit of bluin’ and cleanin’ up, it’ll look just fine.  Might even shoot good if the bore’s intact.”

Smitty’s dander rose.  “Young fella, you’re new ‘round these parts, and you’ll be movin’ on soon, I suppose.  Don’t go askin’ for trouble.”

Curry finally glanced at his partner.  Heyes’ eyes narrowed.  Turning back to Smitty, Kid continued.  “How’s it askin’ for trouble just to help a fella out?”

“Done told ya already.  I want him outta here.  He’s no good.  Trashin’ that piece of old metal’s best thing ya can do for the town.”

A cold, blue-eyed stare met the barkeep’s anger.  Curry turned and walked out.  Heyes opened his mouth to speak, but no words came.  He shook his head, glanced at Smitty, and followed after his partner.

oooOOOooo

After checking in and performing the usual routine of checking the street from their window, complete with full view of the sheriff’s office, the partners set about unpacking.  This hotel’s being more affordable than most, they took a larger room than usual with more furnishings.  As Heyes loaded his change of clothes into a drawer, Curry spread out his gun cleaning equipment on a table sized for the task, pulled out a chair, and got to work on the rusted rifle.

His partner crossed his arms and watched.  When Kid did not look up, he sighed; still, no reaction.  “Kid, you can’t be serious.  We could get in trouble.  Just because the sheriff doesn’t know us …”

“Put a trap on it, Heyes.  I’m gonna finish this.”  Curry continued his task without flinching.

“We’re gonna regret this.”

Kid ignored the comment.  He took the rifle apart, gently setting down each piece in turn.  Removing bluing accouterment from the kit, he fingered the rust on the barrel, picking at it lightly.  “It’s only just the surface.  It’ll be good as new.”

Heyes threw up his hands.  “Just what we need!”

Curry said flatly, “It’ll be fine, Heyes.  If ya don’t like it, go take a walk.”

“Can’t afford to do that without you to watch my back.”  He paused.  “Or, in this case, best be me who’s watching yours.”

oooOOOooo

The light through the window began to fade.  The silence of the room save his partner’s ministrations distracted Heyes.  He put down the book he had only half immersed himself in to gaze at Curry, whose attention had not left his task.  Heyes had to admit to himself he sometimes did not give Kid the credit for his tenacity for something in which he took interest.  Perhaps after amnesty his partner could become the gunsmith Heyes thought he might like to be – under a continuing alias, of course – because peace might never come to him using his own identity.  Too many young wannabes out for the glory of making a name for themselves, no matter how notoriously.  Out-drawing the fastest gun in the West, well, that would do it.  But there was Curry’s restless spirit …

“Done.” 

Heyes blinked. 

Curry stood, holding a nicely blued and oiled rifle.  Both the rust and several glare spots gone, the long gun no longer looked the relic of a seemingly ancient war – still remembered perhaps, but hopefully long past the common consciousness.

The dark-haired partner stood, striding over to examine the piece.  “Wouldn’t recognize it, Kid.  Damn, you’re good.”  He smiled.

“Change your mind?”

“No.”  Dark eyes saddened.  Heyes looked away.  “You know, that do-gooding is gonna get us in real trouble someday.”

“Lighten up, Heyes.  We always come out okay in the end.”

OooOOOooo

“You comin’?”

Hannibal Heyes hesitated outside the sheriff’s office.  Twilight waned, but no stars appeared.  He sighed and followed in step with his partner.

Curry opened the door.  The sheriff sat at his desk.  The rustle of papers stopped. 

The lawman stood, extending a hand but keeping an eye on the long gun in Kid Curry’s hand.  “Good seeing you again, gents.  Hope you’re not the worse for wear.”

Heyes spoke.  “Nope.  Just fine.”  He did not immediately notice the sweat that broke as he shook the sheriff’s hand.

Kid stepped forward to do the same.  “Sheriff.”

The lawman nodded.  “Any reason for the rifle?”

Kid offered it to the sheriff, who took it.  “Yup.  Belongs to that fella from this afternoon.”  At the lawman’s puzzled look, Curry continued, “I
just cleaned it up a bit.”

The sheriff examined it carefully.  “Yeah, I guess it is his.  Ya don’t see too many of these anymore.”

“Nope.”

“It’ll make him happy, I suppose.”  He looked at the door leading to the cells.  “If he ever wakes up.”

Heyes repeated, “If he ever wakes up?”

“Yeah.  I feel sorry for him, although sometimes I think he’d be better off dead, and he probably does, too.  Ever since he came to town a few months back, I don’t think I’ve seen him sober for more than a few hours, and from what I’ve been able to piece together when he is, Hanson was a hero in some battle back East – Cold Harbor, I think.  His one moment of glory, it seems.  Not sure what he did with all the killing around him.  Then the war ended, and he didn’t know what to do with himself.  Drifted around all these years because there was nothing to go back to.  Said he couldn’t find a place he felt comfortable, ‘cept maybe in the bottle.  Can’t figure.  True Union blue, I guess.  That rifle is his life.”

The partners glanced at each other with pursed lips. 

Curry turned to the lawman.  “That’s too bad, sheriff.”

“Yeah.  A big man like him.  Probably could’ve made something of himself.”

Heyes nodded.  The hour was getting late.

“What’s your name?  I’m sure he’ll wanna know.”

Kid caught the lawman’s eye.  “Just … a friend.”

The sheriff’s gaze narrowed, eyeing Heyes and Curry in turn.  “A friend?”

“Yeah.  That’s all he needs to know.”

The sheriff nodded.  “I’ll tell him.”

“Thanks.”

With a tip of hats, the partners turned, closing the door behind them.

__________

Notes: 

Bluing of guns:  http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/08/metal-treatments-browning-and-bluing.html

Cold Harbor:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cold_Harbor
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Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Empty
PostSubject: March - A Shot In The Dark - Silverkelpie   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyTue Sep 01, 2015 6:09 am

Jed Curry tossed another forkful of hay in to the stable.  He grasped the pitchfork with both hands and leaned on it, admiring the pile with the satisfaction of a hard day’s work done.  He rarely paused to muse; he had always been more of a doer, and hard work kept memories at bay.  The blue eyes turned upwards, gazing at the rafters.  The well-ordered barn and the nickering of the contented horses reflected his mood.  Life was good.




He was a free man.  Free to put his past behind him, free to put down roots, free to build a home.  He finally the ranch he’d dreamed of all his life, and a growing family.  He smiled in spite of himself at the memory of young Timothy being scolded for pilfering a cooling biscuit.  How many times had he been caught doing that when he was a nipper? 


       
Every now and again he found himself marveling at the realization that he was happy.   Mostly he was too busy to become a hayseed philosopher, but every now and again he would find an oasis of peace where his mind would reflect on the life he’d had and how far he’d come.  Man, a lot had happened; most of it, good, some of it great, and a little bit of it spectacular.  Maybe he should write it down sometime?  A lot of fellas were doin’ that now and they were makin’ some money.  A married man could always do with some money.  A face flashed across his mind’s eye, blue eyes contorted with pain as the man hit the dust.  No, it hadn’t all been good.  Maybe the memoirs weren’t such a good idea after all.          


   
The velvet touch of a slinky, sinuous body wound around his feet, the erect tail flicking over his shins.  He looked down at the pale-brown tabby with a smile.  “Hey there, Toffee.  How ya doin’?”




She replied with a long, slow, blink and throaty ‘murr’ before scampering over to the door.  She stopped and looked back at him.  When he didn’t move she trotted back and stood staring up at him.  “Murr.”




He frowned.  Toffee was the least sociable of the barn cats and this wasn’t like her.   “Yah hungry?  Ain’t there any rats left for you?  Maybe we’ll have a few scraps for you up at the house.”  He propped his pitchfork up in the corner and patted his thigh.  “Come on, girl.  Come.” 




He strode past her and closed the door behind him.  He turned on the path up to the house and raised his lantern.  She was now meowing loudly with her feet planted firmly; this cat wasn’t for going anywhere and was making a darned racket.  “What d’ya want, Toffee?”




She turned and walked over to the bushes, her upright tail shaking from side to side.  The gleaming green eyes fixed on him again.  “Mowww!”  




His brow creased.  “You want me to look in there?  What ya got?  A mouse?  A rat, maybe?”  He walked over, the cat now running back and forth between the human and her object of interest.  He put down his lamp parted the branches with a gloved hand and his heart sank.  “Oh, Ginger.  What happened to you?  Is this what you were tryin’ to tell me, Toffee?  Your sister is hurt? ” 




The rays from the lamp cast dappled shadows through the foliage and the light beamed from the chartreuse eyes blinking back at him.  Jed reached out a tentative hand and stroked the bloodied fur of the orange cat lying in concealment.  It panted and puffed in shock and pain.  There was no way of knowing how long she had lain there but the twisted back legs were testament to some terrible accident.  “Aw, Ginger.  What happened to you?  Was it a cart?  Did a horse kick you?”  His brows furrowed as he gently felt around the injury, provoking growls and yips from the animal.  His voice drifted in a low, calm murmur.  “I’m sorry, Ginger.  It’s real bad,” he dropped to a hoarse whisper as the realization sunk in just how bad.




He carefully withdrew his hand from the wound and softly stroked the matted fur around Ginger’s head.  “I’m real sorry, old girl.  So very, very sorry.  There ain’t much I can do for you.”  The verdant eyes caught the light as they peered up at her human.  “Why’d you hide like that?  Why didn’t you come and get help before you bled out like this, huh?”  He stared into the wide, questioning eyes, tickling Ginger under the chin ever so tenderly.  “You’re purring?  Aw, my little one?  You know I’m gonna help you, don’t you.”  The amazing eyes shone like emeralds as they caught the light and fixed on the only help available.  There was no doubt about the message they were communicating; make it stop.  Make all this end.     




The tiny beast allowed her lids to droop as the fragmented breath tore at his heart in little ragged pants.  “Yup, you and me.  We both know it.  I’ll help.”  He toyed with her chin once more, watching the light dim before him.  “I know… I’ll help you.”




oooOOOooo




Maggie jumped at the shot which ripped through the night air.  A gaggle of concerned children thrust their heads over the edge of their sleeping area in the rafters and chattered excitedly.  “Wassat?”  “Mommy?  Where’s daddy?”




“Get back into bed.  Don’t make me come up there,” she waved them away with one hand as the other reached for the rifle by the door.  “I mean it, bed!”




She opened the door but paused to glower up at tousled head creeping back over the edge.  “Timothy!  I said bed.”




She watched him dart back into the bedroom and strode out onto the porch with her weapon ready for anything.  “Jed?  Are you there Jed?”




A bubble of golden light punctured the blackness as her husband rounded the edge of the house.  “Jed!?  I heard a shot.  What happened?”




He climbed wearily into up beside her and hung the lantern on a hook.  “Ginger.  She was hurt real bad.  He whole back end was smashed…” he glanced at her before staring down at the floor.  “There was nothin’ else I could do.”




Her blue eyes melted with compassion.  “You did the right thing.  It was kindest.”  She reached out and stroked his arm.  “You wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the best.  How bad was she?  What happened?”




Jed slumped into a chair and rubbed his face with both hands.  “Who knows?  You know what cats do when they’re injured.  They run off to hide.  She’s been like that for a long time; there was nothin’ else to do.”




“It was a mercy, my love.  You did the right thing.”




 He stood abruptly, shrugging off her gentle touch.  “I gotta go bury the body.”




She nodded.  “Sure.  Let me help, I’ll bring the lamp.”




“No,” he barked, seizing an axe.  “I’ll do this alone.”




“What are you going to do with that?  You need a shovel.”




“I’ve gotta work.  There’s wood to be chopped.” 
 


Maggie’s porcelain brow wrinkled.  “It’s bed time.  You need to rest.  You’ve had a full day.”




Jed swung around, fire and ice in his eyes.  “Rest?  How can I rest after that?”




“But you’ve put down animals before.  What’s different about this?  It’s sad, yes, but you seem so…so…angry?”




“Sure I’m angry,” his taught shoulders rose and fell with his breath. 




“But why?”  She shook her head in confusion and grabbed his hand.  “I can see why you’d be sad, heartsick even; but angry?  We don’t even know what hurt her.”




His hard fist closed around her wrist.  “I’ve killed, Maggie.  You don’t know what that does to a man.  I’ve watched the light go out of their eyes, but I never had to shot anyone I knew for seven years and who purred with two broken legs.”  He dropped his hand and stared into his wife’s eyes.  “I reckon a man’s got a right to be angry about a thing like that.  Real angry.”




Maggie watched her husband strike out into the darkness the way he’d come.  He was a complicated man who worked his feelings into oblivion rather than work through them.  Those heartfelt words were as near to a speech as he ever got.  She opened the door and peered about.  The house was silent; it looked like her tired brood had heeded her orders and gone to sleep. 


She quietly closed the door and reached for the lantern.  Her husband had to work off his hot blood, but he had a partner and there was no need for him to do that alone.  The least she could do was light his way.
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Story Of The Year 2015  January - April Empty
PostSubject: April -This Town Ain't Big Enough... - SheilaUK    Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyTue Sep 01, 2015 6:12 am

“I’m telling ya, that town aint big enuf…”




“Wheat!”  The voice that interrupted Wheat Carlson, erstwhile member (and wishful leader) of the Devil’s Hole Gang, was sharp and edged with anger.  “Cut it out!”




“I’m jes sayin..”




“You’ve bin ‘jes saying’ for the last week!  We’ve been over and over it.  You say the bank won’t have anythin’ in it, Heyes says it will.  I’m with Heyes.  You can stay behind, if you want.”  The man looked belligerently at the rest of the group, “Any of you can!”




Five of the men studiously avoided the gaze and stared at the ground.  The sixth, at the front, continued to stare ahead, but raised his hand to his mouth and coughed, attracting a suspicious stare from the last speaker.




Kid Curry, joint leader of the aforementioned Devil’s Hole Gang, thought he detected a grin on the face of Hannibal Heyes, his partner and also leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang and the man riding at the front of the motley gang.  Annoyed, Kid turned his attention back to Wheat.




“So?” he demanded.




“So what?”, Wheat retorted.




“So, you goin’ back?”




Heyes struggled to ignore the conversation and stop a grin emerging again.  He knew, without looking, that Kid would be staring hard and Wheat and Wheat would eventually look away and back down.  He always did.  Wheat liked to push and he liked to grumble, but he also was fond of his own hide and would not push so hard that he faced the wrong end of Kid Curry’s gun.




The eight men were on their way to Scarboro, a small town in the hills.  Wheat had been there once and claimed that it wasn’t big enough to hold a general store, let alone a bank with a substantial sum in its safe.  Heyes knew differently.  Despite Wheat’s complaints, the others had gone along, nothing better to do, Kyle had claimed.




Wheat had continued to moan, which accounted for the Kid’s mood. 




“It’s fine with me if you want to waste time,” Wheat finally responded, petulantly.




“So, shut up!”  Curry demanded, the frustration and irritation clear in his voice.




The crew continued in silence.  The members of the Devil’s Hole Gang were not big on conversation, something that Heyes missed from the days with Big Jim.  Generally, Kid listened to him and commented but Wheat had soured his mood so he was also silent and Heyes didn’t try to engage him.  He sighed silently, it was another 48 hours to Scarboro!








The party finally crested a ridge and looked down onto the ‘small’ town of Scarboro.  It now sprawled through the valley – a vast collection of ramshackle huts, tents, cabins and more substantial buildings – several saloons, a general store, a hardware store, stables and a new bank.




With a shiny, new safe.  Heyes’ eyes glinted as he thought about the contents of that safe.




Wheat gave a low whistle.  “Town sure has growed.”




Heyes glanced at him, “Yep.”




The gang stared at the town for several minutes.  Fed up, Curry finally exploded, “Let’s get moving!”




Heyes shook his head silently, “Yep, split up and try to remember the plan!”




The men rode off in two’s and three’s so as to enter the town separately and from different directions, at different times.




Heyes and Curry rode in together, on the direct route.  They pulled up outside a saloon, which just happened to be diagonally opposite the bank.




Inside, they took seats at a back corner table, with a couple of beers.  Curry took a deep drink and then repeated an oft stated desire, “Do we really need to have Wheat with us?”




“Now, Kid, Wheat has the right to be with us, it’s really up to him to leave.”




“Which he won’t.”




“It is unlikely.”




Two of the gang came in and went up to the bar.  They looked around and tried rather too hard to not recognise Heyes and Curry.




Curry sighed.




Heyes smiled, “Relax.  No one’s paying any attention and remember, there’s no Sheriff or Marshall!”




“Yeah, why is that?  There’s gotta be some sort of law.”




“In a town growing as fast as this?  It’s every man for himself.  Sure, the saloons got muscle, but that’s all.  Six months ago the town was jus’ like Wheat remembers.  Then they found silver.  Guess they haven’t had time to appoint a Sheriff yet.”  Heyes grinned and, finally, so did Kid Curry.








Some hours later, Harvey was turning the handle of a bar spreader.  This implement was positioned between the bars of a small window at the rear of the bank.




Wheat was still complaining, “This is takin’ too long!  It’ll be light soon.”




“There’s plenty of time.  No one will be around at first light anyhow,” Heyes spoke soothingly.




“You’d better be right, Heyes.  Even if there is no law, I don’t think the folk will take too kindly to their bank being emptied!”




Curry stared at Wheat, “You want this to go faster, why don’t you take over from Harvey?”




Harvey looked up hopefully.




Wheat shook his head, “He’s doin’ okay.”




Regretfully, Harvey returned to his task.




The men watched silently and anxiously.  Finally, the gap was wide enough to allow the men through.




Curry went over to the front window, drew the blind down and then lit a lamp.  This he placed in front of the safe.  Heyes settled in front of the safe, his ear against the cool metal, and began to manipulate the dials. 




It did not take long.  Heyes grasped the handle, turned and pulled the door open.




“You sure is good at that!” Kyle opined.




Heyes grinned.




The men stared at the mountain of cash, stacked up on the shelves.




From over at the window, Curry spoke.  “You’d be better to start filling the sacks than staring at it.  It ain’t gonna get in there by itself!”




A number of gunny sacks were produced and Wheat and Kyle began to fill them and pass them back through the window to the Harvey and the other men still outside.  The sacks were then tied onto the saddles of the waiting horses.  








The early morning light was filtering through the windows.  Heyes blew out the lamp.




Gun in hand, Curry was stood by the front window still, peering round the blind, watching the street.  Even though none of the others expected trouble, no one had stopped him taking his usual place.  Argument would have been pointless.  He turned now to look at Heyes.




“Heyes.”




Heyes looked back at him.




“You said this town weren’t big enough fro a sheriff?”




Heyes nodded.




“So how come there’s a man walking toward the bank, with a star on his chest?”




“What!”




Heyes shot over to the window and peered out.  “Damn!”




“He don’t look like much…”




Heyes gave a slight shake of his head.




“Okay, that’s it.  Everyone out, now!”




“What about the rest of the money?”  Wheat complained.




“You rather lose the lot?  Be followed by a posse?”  As he spoke, Heyes was closing the safe door.




“Down!” Curry hissed.




The men remaining in the bank ducked down and held their breath.  Footsteps echoed on the sidewalk and the door knob rattled.




“Hey Wade!”




The man with the star turned away from the bank.  Curry signalled Heyes and Wheat and they crawled quickly to the rear window.




The front window blind suddenly shot up.




Wade turned back to the bank.




Heyes and Wheat froze.




Curry plastered himself against the wall under the window.




Wade peered in.  The interior was dark and he could make out very little.




“Something wrong?” the second man asked.




“Dunno.”




The second man looked in.  “Seems okay to me.”




“Yeah, looks quiet enough, jes seems like summat’s wrong.”




Both men peered in.




Curry prayed that none of the Devil’s Hole Gang appeared in the rear window and that the two men couldn’t see that the bars were no longer straight.




“Think I’ll check round the back.”




Curry swore softly under his breath.




Wade started down the street.  The second man remained standing just outside the front door.  Fortunately, he was looking the other way.  Unfortunately, movement in the bank could still attract his attention.  Curry felt trapped.




Across the other side of the room, Heyes’ mind raced through the options.  He could get the men outside to high tail it out of town, past the “Sheriff”, as a distraction, but that would alert more people and cause a posse to head out after his men and the money.  They could risk climbing out and hope neither man spotted them, but again, time was short and it would probably also result in a posse coming after them.  Nope, what they needed to do was to quietly delay the alarm being sounded.




Heyes exchanged a look with Curry.




Heyes raised his head and poked it out of the rear window.




“Kyle, you and the boys ride out, quietly.  That way.”  He pointed in the opposite direction to the one he expected the “Sheriff”, Wade, to come in.  “Leave our horses at the end of the alley and head for the meeting place.”




“What ‘bout you and Wheat and the Kid?”




“Don’t worry, we’ll be right behind you.  Get movin’!”




Heyes watched the men depart, no sign of Wade yet.  He pulled back inside.




“Wheat, you stand against the wall, that side of the window.”




Heyes went over to the front door, keeping low.  Curry kept an eye on the second man.  Heyes looked at him and Curry shook his head.  Heyes pulled a piece of think metal out of his boot, knelt in front of the door, by the lock and inserted the metal.  He jiggled it around and in seconds heard it click open.  He then returned to the rear window and stood against the wall on the other side to Wheat.




Curry moved to the front door and took hold of the handle.




It was so quiet inside the bank, you could’ve heard a fly land.  The three men were barely breathing.  A slight crunch outside alerted them to Wade’s arrival.




Wade came round the corner, seconds after the Devil’s Hole Gang disappeared at the far end.  He walked down toward the bank.  He was on top of the window when he noticed the bent bars.




A puzzled look came over his face, “What the…?”  He stuck his head in through the window.








Wade was never clear about what happened next.  One minute he was outside the bank looking in, the next he was inside, sat on the floor, tied up. Gagged and blindfolded.  He never saw who grabbed him and trussed him up, just that they came out of nowhere and disappeared as quickly.  For ever after, he maintained that they were more like ghosts than bank robbers, though afterwards, it was clear to Wade and the rest of the town, after Wade and Bert were found by the assistant bank manager on opening up the bank just before 9a.m., two hours later, that the bank had been robbed.  Bartenders remembered a number of strangers in town, but couldn’t really describe them.  The only clue was the way that the bank’s safe had been opened.








As Wade was hauled through the window by Heyes and Wheat, Curry opened the door of the bank and jabbed his gun into the small of the second man’s back.




“Don’t turn around and be quiet.”




The second man, Bert, froze.




“Now, back up, slowly.”




Bert walked backwards into the bank.




“Shut the door.”




Bert shut the front door.




“Pull your scarf up, over your eyes.  Tie it real tight behind you.”




Bert pulled up his scarf, over his eyes and tied it tightly.




“Put your hands behind your back.”




Bert put his hands behind his back.




Heyes appeared by Curry’s side and tied Bert’s hands tightly.  He then gagged the man and pulled him across the floor, near to where Wade was sitting.




“Sit down.”




Bert struggled to sit and was helped.  His feet were then tied together.




Heyes went back to the front door and locked it as Curry and Wheat climbed out.  He joined them and the three men ran down the alley.




Round the corner, Kyle was waiting with their horses.




“Thought I told you to get out of town.”




“Couldn’t leave without ya.”




“Well, let’s get out now.”




The four men hurried out of town.








Back out on the trail, and satisfied that no posse was chasing them, the men relaxed as they made their way to join up with the others.




“There’s one thing I gotta say,” Wheat began.




Curry looked at him, “Wheat,” he warned.




“It ain’t a complaint,” Wheat said hastily, “It’s a, it’s a, it’s an observation, yeah, that’s what it is.”




Intrigued, Heyes looked at him, “What observation?”




Wheat grinned, “That town may have growed, but it still ain’t big enough to hold the Devil’s Hole Gang!”
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptySat Sep 12, 2015 7:05 am

Don't forget, you have until the end of September to vote on the next heat of the story of the year.  Make your vote count. Computer smash
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptySat Sep 26, 2015 6:32 am

Just a reminder that you have until the end of this month to vote for the next heat of story of the year.  Make sure your voice is heard!
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:16 am

The votes are in and counted and the winner of this heat of 'Story Of The Year', for her wonderful tale of the old man who needed as much care as his rifle is,


Remuda!


Congratulations, Remuda.  A great story and a worthy winner. 


Congrats1 Congrats1 Congrats1  
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:19 am

Congratulations, Remuda.  Great story.  I really enjoyed it.

Congrats 3

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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 10:18 am

CONGRATULATIONS, REMUDA!!!
WONDERFUL STORY!!
sun 1 sun 1 sun 1

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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 11:38 am

Congrats Remuda! cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:10 pm

Congratulations on your win, Remuda

Congrats 2
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 8:02 pm

Congratulations, Remuda

clapping clapping clapping


Wonderful story.  Loved the subtle quietness of this tale.

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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 5:25 am

Congratulations, Remuda.  I think this was my favourite of all your stories.

Congrats 4
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 5:43 am

Many congratulations, on a great story, Remuda

Congrats 3
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 6:06 am

Congratulations, Remuda

applause
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 6:47 am

Loved your story, Remuda.  Very clever  applause
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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 7:11 am

Congratulations on your win, Remuda.  I love this story.  Congrats 2

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PostSubject: Re: Story Of The Year 2015 January - April   Story Of The Year 2015  January - April EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 7:13 am

Congrats 2   Great story Remuda, well deserved win.  Congrats 3
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