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 The Devil's Due - Chapter 11

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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 Empty
PostSubject: The Devil's Due - Chapter 11   The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 7:06 am

Carlotta’s clear blue eyes flicked between her pad and the man scooping mashed potatoes into his mouth like silage through a funnel.   The teeth were better than she had expected, but supposed that was down to a lack of sugar in a poor rural upbringing.  She looked across the hotel dining room and reflected that it certainly wasn’t his fastidious hygiene; the chin was covered in rough stubble, and the lank, greasy hair flopped over a pair of cornflower blue eyes which intrigued her.  They could switch from innocently vacant to feral cunning in a flash, suddenly making the little nose look more like a polecat’s than a grubby choirboy’s.  She had no idea what her shooting instructors were talking about, and from the salacious hunger in her subject’s face she was sure she didn’t want to.  Whatever plans they had for that evening was not for the ears of well-brought up young ladies.

“What are you doing?  He’ll see you,” Charlotte whispered, glancing over at ‘Lyle.’

“We said we were here to draw pictures.  We have to have some,” she paused and stared at Kyle’s lopsided smile, “and he’s a very interesting subject.  He’s unusual.”

“You can say that again,” Charlotte glanced sideways at Wheat and Kyle.  “Everyone is around here, but he abuses the privilege.  And what about his big friend?  He seems to be part bear, at least he smells like one.”

“I guess you need to let some things go and put survival first in a place like this.”

The younger girl considered the two men at the table by the window.  “Exactly how much are you supposed to let go?  I don’t think I’ve got that much in me.”

“Are we all eccentric when the social niceties are stripped away do you think?”  Carlotta’s lips twitched with mischief.  “I think that without rules, you’d be quite devious.  You always find a way to get your own way even with them.”

Her sister’s eyes widened.  “What are you saying?  That I’m manipulative?”

“No more than the average snake oil salesman,” Carlotta laughed.  “It’s not a bad thing.  You know what you want and you go for it.  You aren’t cruel or selfish.  You’re just a female of the species and you’re good at it.”

“Maybe if people get hungry and cold often enough they get a lot more selfish,” Charlotte mused.  “I know it got harder to be too charitable by the time we got here.  I could have fallen asleep where I stood, if the hunger pangs hadn’t been eating me alive.  I’d have done anything for a warm bed and a meal.”

A slim brow arched in disapproval.  “That’s really not the kind of thing you should say in these parts, Charlotte.   Men like those two will take advantage.”

She shuddered.  “Not while I have a breath in my body.  Anyway, what do you think your eccentricity would be?  Let’s see if you agree with me.”

The older sister looked aimlessly up at the ceiling as she pondered the question.  “Being hard?  Cold?”

Charlotte gave a musical giggle.  “Hard?  Maybe to someone who doesn’t know you.  You’re not hard or cold, you’re just controlled.  It’s all going on inside, but you wear indifference like a shell. Without hiding behind politeness, I’d say your eccentricity would be, well...your dislike of men?”

Carlotta stiffened.  “I don’t dislike men.  I just don’t feel the need to trot around after one.  I dislike the way they treat us, all full of bluster about what’s best for us, even when they’re dumb.  Look at Angelique’s husband.   James’ nickname at school was Mallet because of his thick wooden head, yet he’s on the board of a bank because he married our sister and has a rich father.  We were both brighter than William ever was, but he was the one who was chosen to run the bank.  It’s not fair.”

“It’s God’s will,” Charlotte replied. 

“It’s men’s will,” Carlotta grumbled.  “Anyway, they’re not in charge of us now.”

“James is.  He could bring us home.”

“James is under Angelique’s thumb.  If we don’t find a way to run our own lives we’ll be under her rule until we can find husbands of our own.”  Carlotta sighed deeply.  “What if we just want to be independent and live quietly somewhere?  We’ll have even less chance of that if someone gets that reward and all we have is the house.  Angelique will never agree to sell it to give us our share.  We’ll either be prisoners there or have no dowry.”

Charlotte’s brows met in confusion.  “I like it there.   It’s a great, big, comfortable house, not a jail.”

“It might as well be,” Carlotta pouted.  “She’s going to do whatever she can to stop us getting married.  She won’t want our husbands pushing for our share in the house.  We’ll be trapped.”

“Angelique would never do that.”

“I’m not so sure.  You saw how it was before we left.  We were like servants.  She held court in the drawing room, and we were left to oversee the house like her staff.” 

Charlotte shifted in her chair uneasily.  “You never got on with Angelique, did you?”

“There are only two things I don’t like about her.  Her faces.”

“Oh, Carlotta.  That’s not fair.  She’s the eldest and had a lot more expected of her than us.  Father was determined that she make a good match.  We didn’t have half the pressure she had.”

“We didn’t get the chances either,” murmured Carlotta.  “She was pushed to find the son of the richest man in the area.  Once she got him, it was a wait to see which of us got married first so that the left-over would be the spinster who runs the house and looks after everyone.”

“And you were worried it would be you?”

“It was bound to be me.  Men don’t like me.”

“Men like you just fine.  You’re clever, kind, and practical,” Charlotte shook her head and giggled lightly, “and they find you every bit as pretty as they find me.  We look alike, so they must.”

“No they don’t, and you know it.  It’s you they all go for, and I’m just fine with that.  You’re the outgoing, flirty one.  I’ve never met a man who is even remotely special.  It’s my own fault, I guess.  I read too much.  Real men don’t measure up.”  Carlotta turned her eyes on her younger sister, now alight with passion and want.  “They’re all so ordinary and mundane.  Have you never dreamed of a man whose very presence excites you?  A man so extraordinary that you just know you’ll never meet anyone like him ever again?  I don’t want a life going through the motions for a man who only gives me more boring things to do for him.  I’d rather to build my own life and please myself, unless he adds something special.”

“And what would that ‘special’ thing be?”

“I don’t know until I see it.  All I know is that it doesn’t come along very often,” Carlotta huffed through her nose, “I don’t need a passenger along for the ride.”  Carlotta ran a stick of charcoal over her sketch before taking a finger and blurring some fine lines until they looked more like shadow.  “There.  What do you think?”

“It’s really good,” Charlotte nodded.  “You even caught the gravy dripped down his shirt.”

oooOOOooo

A cork floated lazily in the deep pool of water, drifting along with the slow current until it reached the end of its tether.  The stream slid noisily over a manmade dam of downed trees and continued its journey while the Kid lifted his willow branch and, with a deft flick of his wrist, snatched the bobber and its suspended hook and cast his tackle upstream.  It landed with a tiny splash.  Satisfied, he leaned back against a tall tree trunk.  “You know, Heyes, I can’t remember the last time you and me went fishin’ just for the fun of it.”

The dark form reclining next to him shifted slightly.  “It’s been awhile.”   One hand tipped back the black hat that had been shading Heyes’ eyes and the other gave a tug on his own line.

“Pretty nice havin’ the Hole all to ourselves.”  The Kid enjoyed the feel of the autumnal sun warming his face as he watched a trout come up and sip warily at the cork before disappearing beneath the water, leaving concentric ripples dispersing across its surface.  A slight breeze shook the aspen trees overhead and golden leaves wafted to the ground around the two men. 

“Don’t get used to it.  Lom, Clint, and Ike will be back tonight and the rest of them are due in tomorrow.  I reckon it’ll seem crowded again once they’re here.”   Heyes put down his branch and stood up.  Tossing his hat to the dirt, he started to unbutton his shirt and gave his partner a big, happy smile.  “Last one in is a rotten egg.”  Discarding his shirt, he turned away and began unbuttoning his pants.

Curry’s eyes widened at the sight of numerous old scars criss-crossing Heyes’ back just as his friend turned to him.  Heyes knew instantly what the Kid was staring at. 

“Guess I forgot to mention Burdon’s men had a bullwhip.”  Heyes’ smile was cold and he felt self-conscious for the first time in a long time.  He braced for the slew of questions he knew would follow.

“Burdon did that?” asked Curry, angrily.  Heyes had told him about the beating he’d received but, somehow, the sight of the scars made it more real.

“Well, his men did it, but I’m guessing he heard about it.” 

A small cloud cast a shadow that swept across the stream and engulfed the outlaws.  Curry felt the chill on his skin as well as in his blood.  Burdon had done his damnedest to make him suffer but he’d always believed he’d earned it for his part in William’s death and had never retaliated.  Maybe if he had, Heyes wouldn’t have suffered like he had.   No wonder his partner had gone into hiding for so long.  “Heyes…”

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore, Kid. “

“But…”

Heyes turned and dove into the pond ruining any chance of a discussion or a trout dinner.  With long, sure strokes he swam to the other side before stopping and floating on his back.    The sun came out again and illuminated his skin with a soft glow.  He felt the warmth seeping into him and the tension he’d been feeling begin to dissipate.  He glanced back at the Kid and saw that his friend’s attention had returned to his fishing.  Good.  After a while, he slowly swam back and crawled onto the bank, rolling over onto his back and staring up at the sky.  “What about you, Kid?  You haven’t said much about your time in Texas.”

Putting down his pole, Curry sighed.  Heyes had a right to know.  No one else did, but his cousin had earned it.   Settling back against the tree, he tore up a dried stalk of pipe grass and put it in the corner of his mouth, chewing thoughtfully while Heyes waited.  When he finally began talking, it was in a monotone as if he had carefully bled all emotion from his words.  “Like you already know, I went south to Texas figurin’ I’d miss the worst of winter before I drifted north again to look for you.” 

“You were gonna look for me?”

“I was until I got your telegram in Buffalo Gap tellin’ me to lay low.”

“You know, I always wanted to ask you how you ended up in the middle of nowhere.”

“Buffalo Gap is the only somewhere in that part of Texas, Heyes.  I was a kid.  I had the crazy idea that I could sign on as a buffalo hunter.” 

“Did you?”  Heyes tucked his arms up under his head and closed his eyes.

“Yeah, but I didn’t last but a day.  I couldn’t stomach the waste.  It wasn’t a hunt; it was extermination.  As it was, I got your telegram right around then.  How’d you find me there, anyways?”

“Like you said, there weren’t many places to choose from.  You’d sent Clem a telegram saying we’d split up and you were on your way to Texas from Colorado.  I just started in the north-western corner of the state and worked south sending a telegram to every office I could find.  There weren’t many.  I figured sooner or later you’d turn up and you did.  After that, you starting building your reputation and it wasn’t difficult to keep track of you.  Of course, you weren’t trying too hard to hide, were you?”

Curry blushed beet red.  He’d been so cocksure of himself in those days.  It was a wonder he could stand up under the weight of the chip he’d worn on his shoulder.  Picking fights and showing off his quick draw every chance he got, practically begging Burdon to come for him.  Or maybe it was Heyes he was begging; he could admit that now.  Picking up his story, he said, “I cleared out of town the next day thinkin’ if Burdon was lookin’ for me, I’d best keep movin’.  I signed on with a ranch further south and started punchin’ cows just like you.  Didn’t much care for the work.”

“Me neither.  Too hard on the back.”

The Kid chewed on his stalk and whistled his breath through the pipe grass while considering his story.  “A few months later I heard the army was lookin’ for help in goin’ after Quanah Parker and his Comanches so I signed up as a guide.  It paid well, room and board and thirteen a month.  Not bad for a kid.”

“Guide?  You’d never been in Texas before, how could you guide anyone?”

“Guide is the army’s way of sayin’ ‘hired gun’.  I reckon I fit that bill well enough.  I’d already been in a gunfight or two by then and word had spread.”  Curry could still remember the shame and heartbreak of that first fight.  He’d killed the man. Pushed beyond reason by the drunken bully, his temper and inexperience had gotten the better of him and, when the man pulled his gun, the Kid had instinctually drawn and fired.  He hadn’t aimed at all.  It was only afterwards that he’d realized he’d killed him.  The law had cleared him for the shooting, but his own conscience never would.  William’s death he’d been able to rationalize, but this second killing had broken his heart and blackened his soul. 

“I thought your first showdown was in Big Spring.”

“That was my first as Kid Curry.   The others were under an alias.  Remember--you told me to hide.”

“Keeping your gun in your holster might’ve helped some.”  Heyes sat up from the sand and drew his legs in.  Reaching for his shirt, he pulled it on.  “Why’d you switch back to your real name?” 

“I was angry.  Mad at you, mad at Burdon, and mad at the cards dealt me, but mostly I hated myself.  I reckon I wasn’t too worried about anyone catchin’ up to me and, when they did, it didn’t go well for them. ”

“So what happened when you quit the army?”

“That was when things got real interestin’.  Texas is full of itself, gettin’ readmitted to the Union.  The opportunists are rollin’ in and settlin’ all over the place.  First thing most of ‘em do is string up barbwire and stake out their place in the world.  That hasn’t set well with the folks who’ve been grazin’ their beeves on open land for generations.  Trust me, if you can handle a gun, you can make a helluva livin’ in Texas.  I was in demand.  That was, until I killed Two-toe Tim Griffin.”

“Yeah, I heard about that one; made the papers up here.”

“How the hell was I supposed to know his baby sister was married to one of the state’s newly-minted senators?  Griffin had drawn first so the law couldn’t hold me, but his brother-in-law sure can hold a grudge.  Kinda like Burdon.  Honest work dried up fast.”  Curry spit out the grass.  “That’s when I made my way up to Trinidad and saw your wanted poster; two hundred dollars for theft.  What the heck did you steal?”

Heyes grinned and said, “The sheriff’s gun.”

The Kid looked blankly at his new partner and then broke into a gale of laughter.  Recovering, he wiped his eyes and asked, “All right, Heyes, I’ll bite.  How’d you manage to steal a lawman’s gun?”

Heyes stood up and grabbed his trousers, slipping into them and buttoning up before answering.  He picked up his hat and dusted it off as he said, “We were in town after a successful job in New Mexico.  Big Jim decided to let the gang blow off a little steam and hurrah for a night.  Things got out of hand and someone called the sheriff to break it up.  I was upstairs at the time so I didn’t know he was there until I came downstairs and saw him holding his gun on Marty who was as drunk as a skunk.  Marty was just a kid.  He used to remind me of you.”  Heyes grew somber and Curry didn’t fail to catch the use of the past tense.  “Santana was sitting with Wheat and Kyle and they all had their right hands under the table.  I knew it was going to go bad real quick if I didn’t do something so I started sweet-talking that lawman as fast as I could.  Told him we were celebrating.  Our friend was getting married, to a fine girl, and we were having us a send-off.  I apologized up one side and down the other until the sheriff had finally had enough.  He holstered his gun and said he’d let us all go if we left town by morning.  After he left the saloon, Marty was so drunk and relieved he kept going on and on about his best friend, Hannibal Heyes.  Everyone in the place knew who I was.  I tried to shut him up but Big Jim ended up tapping him with the butt of his pistol and having Wheat and Kyle haul him out of there and take him back to camp.”

“So how’d you end up with the sheriff’s sidearm?” 

“The sheriff had apparently gone back to his office where he found a telegram on his desk from the sheriff of Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Word travels fast now that most places have a telegraph office and Big Jim hadn’t thought about cutting the lines.  We won’t make that mistake.  Anyway, that telegram contained a pretty good description of the gang. 

While Jim sent me to fetch our horses, he settled up the damages at the saloon.  I was walking up the street when I saw him come out of the saloon and step into the street.  It was real late by then, almost two in the morning and the town was deserted, but damned if that sheriff didn’t come out of his office and yell at Jim to hold up a minute.  Big Jim did as he was told.  I saw what was happening and hitched up the horses down the street.  While the sheriff was confronting Jim, I slipped up behind him and pulled his gun.  Surprised the hell out of both of us,” Heyes laughed.  “He swung around slapping leather, but his holster was empty.  Jim and I made a getaway and I got my Schofield.”

“Not to mention a wanted poster.  So your Schofield belonged to a lawman?” chuckled the Kid.  He stood up and dusted off the seat of his pants. “Ah, Heyes, you haven’t changed a bit.  Just as cocky and crazy as you ever were.”

“True, but I’m also better armed than I used to be,” said Heyes with a broad, dimpled grin. 

Both men turned as they heard horses galloping up the road into the Hole.  “We’d better get back to the cabin.  Sounds like Lom’s back,” said the Kid.

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due - Chapter 11   The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 EmptyFri Oct 02, 2015 7:06 am

OOOOOOOOOO

“What ya got?”  Mrs. McGinty’s voice drifted from behind the girls.  “Oh, that’s real good.  When you said you was artists I thought you was just blowin’ smoke, but you really got a gift.”  She leaned on the back of the chair and gazed between Kyle and the sketch to make a comparison.  “It makes ya look at him through new eyes.  He’s kinda handsome when ya don’t have to listen to him.”

The sisters shared an amused meeting of eyes.

“Who ya gonna do next?” the matron asked.

“We haven’t planned anything,” Carlotta replied.  “We just thought we’d let the muse move us.”

“The what do what now?”

“When we’re in the mood,” Charlotte replied.

The knotted brows underscored the disapproval in the woman’s steely eyes.  “You must be real rich if’n you only work when you’re in the mood, but keep it up and you ain’t gonna stay that way for long.  You’ll run through your money like soup through a basket”
     
“It’s not so much a case of when we’re in the mood.  It’s more a case of seeing the right subject,” Carlotta raised an inquisitive brow.  “Like you maybe?”

“Me?”  Mrs. McGinty patted coyly at the grey bun at the back of her head.  “You want to draw me?”

“No,” Carlotta smiled.  “We want to paint you.”

“Yes, we surely do.  In color.”  Charlotte chirped up, taking her sister’s lead.  “You made an impression right away.  We didn’t expect the strongest person we met to be a woman, but here you are in a man’s world and beating them in the world of business.  How could we miss you out?  You’re an inspiration.  You gave us the courage to continue with our plan.”

The heavy features rose slightly, lit up by the smile spreading from the seed of intelligence flickering discreetly in the grey eyes.  “Plan?”

“To draw the West,” Carlotta held the scrutiny without backing down.  “It seemed like a great idea sitting at home, but once we got out here we’d no idea it’d be so remote and, well...primitive.”

“Primitive?  We’s regular folks just like you.  We ain’t natives.”

“Oh, I know,” Carlotta cut in, quickly.  “It’s just that you do so much better than the women we are used to.  I don’t know any woman who runs any kind of business, let alone shoot like you.”

“Well, my first husband, Kurt, taught me.  He said a workin’ woman needed to be able to protect herself,” Mrs. McGinty gazed off wistfully.  “He were as handsome a man as I even laid eyes on, until my second one.  Polish, he was; Mieczysalw Wiatrowska, his name was.  Another blond.  I’m a sucker for ‘em.”

Charlotte’s confused smile lit up her face.  “How many times have you been married?”  

The woman’s jowls shook with indignation.  “Ya don’t ask a lady a question like that, but I’ll excuse ya this time ‘cos you’re tenderfeet.  It’s like askin’ a woman her age or the cost price of her whiskey.”  Mrs. McGinty growled.  “T’ain’t done.”

“Sorry,” the girl gave a smile of contrition.  “I didn’t mean to offend.”

“Don’t worry about it.  Ya just gotta be aware of how folk’ll take ya in these parts.  It’s like these fellas,” she gestured towards the outlaws with her head.  “You can’t tell them they shoot like a pig’s tail, but I can ‘cos I’m better’n ‘em.  That’s how it works.”  She turned at the sound of footsteps entering the dining room and her face lit up with the first glow of genuine warmth she’d shown since the Burdon girls had met her.  “Gabriel?  My Gabe!  What are you doin’ here?”

A shaft of sunlight glowed behind him, adding an angelic energy to the handsome young man with the fairest of hair gleaming with golden energy.  Chiselled cheekbones underscored the bluest of eyes either girl had ever seen.  He smiled, revealing a set of even white teeth, but the first words out of his mouth shattered the image with a resounding crash.  “Howdy, Ma.  I’s come home.  I can’t take it no more.  Old Dod got his arm ripped clean off.”

“Off?  Was it a bear?”

“Nope, one of the cables slipped on the donkey engine and he were in the wrong place at the wrong time.   I ain’t cut out to be a lumberjack.”  His eyes fixed on the sisters before gleaming.  “Ma, ain’t ya gonna introduce me to the ladies?”

Mrs. McGinty beamed proudly.  “Gabe, these is the Misses Carlotta and Charlotte Durbin.  They got a trust fund and they’re spendin’ it paintin’ and drawin’ the West. ”

“I’m pleased to meet you ladies,” Gabriel strode further into the room and towered over his mother who barely reached his shoulders.  “Look at you two, blonde hair, blue eyes, and pretty as twelve acres of pregnant red hogs.”

“I beg your pardon,” exclaimed Carlotta.

“Cute as a calico kitten, the pair of you.  Two of the prettiest peas from the samiest pod I ever did see.”  Gabriel grinned from one girl to the other.  “Which one’s which?”

“I’m Charlotte and this is Carlotta.  You can tell her by the scowl,” she giggled.

“Well, I’m right pleased to meet both of ya.  Now that I’m back I’ll be pleased to be of service to you ladies,” the man’s blue eyes slid sideways to assess the two outlaws sitting by the window.  “There are some real strange types about.  It’s best to be careful.”    

“Ain’t he just the most handsome thing you ever saw?”  Mrs. McGinty clutched at her son’s arm and beamed up at him.  “He’s the best thing I ever did in my life, and I should know.  I done a whole lot.”

“I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr...McGinty?”

“Sorenson.  Gabriel Sorenson, but my friends call me Gabe.”

“Sorenson?”  Charlotte did a quick count of the number of names now associated with their hostess.  Was this the fourth including her current name?  A warning glare from Carlotta told her that her sister had read her mind as the pert little mouth mouthed, “No.  Don’t ask...” across the table. 

“Yup.  Sorenson,” Gabriel nodded.  “It’s Norwegian, but I guess I’m not cut out to be a lumberjack like my pa.  Time to come home and help my ma.”

“And glad ta have ya back, son.”  She turned towards the kitchen and bellowed long and hard.  “Beau...regaaard!”

He appeared in the doorway wiping his hands on his apron.  “Yes?  Oh, Gabe.  You’re back?”

“He sure is.  Can you see to the clearin’ up if I go and have a catch up now my boy’s home?”

“Sure can.  Welcome home,” The Southerner’s eyes slid sideways towards the two men finishing their meal by the window.  “It’s good to have you here.”

Gabriel gave a discreet nod.  “Thanks, Beau.  I’ll look after her if you look after the ‘guests’. “

Beauregard grinned at the way the word dripped with meaning.  “I sure will.”  He strode over to Wheat and Kyle.  “Anything else for you folks?”

“Nope, we had our full.  We might be late in,” Wheat delivered a theatrical wink.  “If’n you catch my drift?”

“Just make sure you don’t cause a disturbance.  This is a respectable house and the lady’s son is back.  He’s real protective of his mama.”

“We’ll be quiet as a louse,” smirked Kyle.

“A louse?” 

“Well sure.  Ain’t nobody plans a crime out loud,” Kyle chuckled.

“Good one,” Wheat landed a playful punch on his partner’s shoulder.  “We’s only kiddin’.  We’s real gentlemen, right, Lyle?”

“We’s regular church mice,” guffawed Kyle.  “We’s God’s creatures.”

“Yeah, well, some are more creature than others.  Don’t even think about bothering the lady guests,” Beauregard scowled at Kyle, “And I’ve seen you making eyes at my girl.  She’s taken.  Scarlet and I got an understanding and I know what you’re up to.  I can see right through you.”

“Ya can?” Kyle chortled.  “Well, if you can see right through Mizz McGinty, you’s missin’ all the best bits.  Goodnight.  We’ll see ya later.”

“Much later,” Wheat added with a smirk.  “We’s off to the fun side of town, where the women are fast and the bartenders are faster.  Goodnight.”

They wandered off through the lobby and out into the street.  The growing darkness was punctuated by bursts of golden light gleaming from the windows and doorways onto the sidewalk, illuminating the weary men making their way to the jangling, smoking profanities being hawked on Doolin Street. 

“Maybe we’ll divert you from that old woman?  Scarlet McGinty?  You can tell just from her name she’s been kissed more than a court bible.”

“The women we’re gonna meet tonight ain’t gonna exactly be blushing maidens, Wheat.  Who wants that anyway?  They waste too much time bein’ all scared and fumbly.  Ya can’t beat experience when you’re drunk.”

“Experience?  She’s got that in spades.  What’s with all the husbands?”

“Folks die young out here if they ain’t careful.  It looks like they left her well provided for.  You stick to your type and I’ll stick to mine.  I saw you looking at them blonde girls, but we both know you ain’t got a chance.  I like ‘em big and feisty; and I keep wearin’ ‘em down until they stop lookin’ at me like I was made of spiders.  I’m patient.  I can wait,” Kyle snickered, quietly, “especially when I can dally in the cat house in the meantime.”

oooOOOOoo       

It was two happy, drunken brigands who supported one another out to the latrines at the back of the Painted Pony saloon.  They’d had their every appetite sated until they were physically spent and their taste buds dulled by cheap perfume, whiskey, and tobacco.  They wove their way to the outhouse, chuckling and snickering over faintly obscene boasts and amicable take-downs until they reached the ramshackle building.  They entered together looking at the long plank with five holes placed along its length over the cesspit below.  Kyle undid his breeches and sat.  “Woowee!  That’s been quite the night.  I’m too done in to even stand.”

He watched Wheat drop drunkenly onto the orifice next to him.  “It’s been a long time since I met gals like that.  They sure know how to give a man his money’s worth.”

“I dunno.  I think we shoulda got a discount.  Is it normal for the left nipple to be bigger than the other two?”

“Who cares?”  Wheat leaned back on the wooden planks and sighed.  “I had a good enough time to hold me for a while.  Them were talented ladies.  The memories’ll keep me warm on the long, cold nights back at Devil’s Hole.”

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded.  “We’d best get back there tomorrow.  Have we got everythin’ Heyes told us to get?”

“I left the list at the general store.  They said it’d be ready in the mornin’.  It’d better all be there or there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Yeah, we don’t want a proddy Kid Curry on our tail.  That’s for sure,” Kyle agreed.  “Mind you, if’n we forgot somethin’ we might have ta come back…we could stay at the hotel again...”

“I ain’t forgettin’ anythin’,” growled Wheat.  “I ain’t takin’ a roastin’ from Hannibal Heyes so you can come back and spark that old boot.  She’s got a face like winterkill persimmon.”

“Aw, but...”

“Aw, but nuthin’.  We’re goin’ back to Devil’s Hole tomorrow with everythin’ on that list or I ain’t goin’ back at all.  I ain’t taking the fall for another one of Hannibal Heyes’ plans failin’, but when this one does, I’ll be there ta take over from him.  He’s gettin’ too big for his boots.  It’s time we went back to basics.  What’s wrong with just sticking up a bank the old fashioned way?”

“Ya got a point, I guess.  It’s just that we’s promised a bigger share of the haul by Heyes,” Kyle admitted.

“He’s gettin’ too smart for his own good.  A bigger share of nuthin’ is still nuthin.’  Wheat climbed unsteadily to his feet and fastened his pants.  “Come on.  We gotta get back.  We’ve got an early start in the mornin.’”

The two outlaws exited the latrines and wove their way around the building to the main road.  A shadowy figure emerged from the murky darkness and ghosted into the walls until he reached the corner and was able to watch the men unobserved.  Beauregard le Grand‘s dark eyes narrowed above a satisfied smirk.  So these beef-headed saddle tramps were outlaws?  Everything was for sale in Sweatless, if you could meet the price; and the Southerner had not only stumbled on a way to find a way to dispose of his rival, he might just make a nice little earner at the same time... 

oooOOOooo

Beauregard had waited all night in the cold shadows of the alley running the length of the hotel.  His joints ached and the smell of brewing coffee leaking from the kitchen door was slowly driving him crazy, but he had his own plan and it all depended on getting those two raggedy outlaws out in the open.  He’d heard Scarlet hollering for him and he couldn’t miss the note of irritation that grew in her voice every time she bellowed.  Lord, that woman had a set of lungs on her.  There’d be hell to pay later, but it was worth her anger.  He’d make it up to her, all right.  He’d make her forget she’d ever laid eyes on that foul-mouthed pipsqueak. 

Despite his best efforts to recruit help, he was going to have to face down Carltree and Murton alone.  No one had ever heard of them or Devil’s Hole or Hannibal Heyes and he couldn’t convince even the town drunk to try to bring in two outlaws who might not even be wanted. 

The door to the General Store swung open and the big outlaw stepped out onto the sidewalk, his arms laden with packages.  Beau watched the smaller man, Lyle, emerge with several new pickaxes under one arm and dragging a crate marked explosives with his other hand.  The two men arranged their purchases in the panniers of a pack mule and then crossed the street towards the front door of the hotel.  Beauregard withdrew into the darkness and waited; his old muzzle loader a dead weight on his hip.

oooOOOooo

“Miz Scarlet, we’s come to say good-bye,” bellowed Kyle upon entering the lobby.  He could see the two Durbin gals seated at a center table in the dining room; two steaming plates of a hearty breakfast before them.  His stomach rumbled at the sight of it, but Wheat would have his head if they were late getting back to the Hole.  His partner was determined to prove his value to Heyes and the Kid.   

“I’ll get our saddlebags,” said Wheat, starting up the stairs.

“Oh, Mr. Murton, you’re leaving today?” called Carlotta, seeing the small man and dropping her homespun napkin next to her fork.  “We were hoping you’d be able to give us some more lessons.”

Charlotte smiled.  She didn’t know why, but she liked Mr. Murton despite his untidiness and lacked of education.  “Yes, please do stay a little longer.”

Kyle walked over to their table and tipped his hat.  “Misses.  I wish we could but we’s got to get back to our claim.”

“Why?” asked Carlotta.

“Why? Um…er..” Kyle was unprepared for being questioned.  “Well, uh, you don’t never know when some low-down, rotten claim jumper might try to horn in on your glory hole.”

Charlotte giggled and smiled up at him.  “I do so love to listen to you speak, Mr. Murton.”

“Er, Lyle, ma’am, and thank you.  My mama worked real hard to make sure I talked good.”  Kyle puffed up proudly.  “Is Miz Scarlet here?”

“Yes, she’s in the kitchen.  Beauregard is missing and I’m afraid she’s quite upset with him,” stated Carlotta.

“Well, that ain’t right leavin’ a sweet little gal doin’ all the work.  ‘Cuse me, ladies.”  Kyle pushed through the swinging door into the kitchen and found the object of his desire leaning over a pot, stirring furiously and cussing a blue streak.  He drank in the sight of her; from the strands of hair that had escaped a messy bun to the tattered apron straining against the bulk of her waistline.  He liked what he saw and, with a happy grin, he took the ladle from her hand and took over the stirring.  “I’ve come to say my good-byes, Miz Scarlet.”

“Well, say ‘em and be off with you.  Can’t you see I’m busy?  That shiftless, no-good man had the cojones to run out on me.  After all these years!” snapped Mrs. McGinty as she turned to lift a heavy tray laden with a coffee pot and sweet rolls.

“Here, let me help you with that.  Where’s your boy?”   Kyle hoisted the tray.

“Boiler went out last night, Gabe’s downstairs fixin’ it.  That’s Beauregard’s job, too.  I’m gonna scalp that shiftless sonova…”

“Don’t let him git you all riled up; he ain’t worth your trouble,” advised Kyle as he followed her out to the girl’s table, placing it on the edge of the table while only spilling a small amount of scalding liquid.  He saw Wheat in the lobby going out the door with the saddlebags slung over one shoulder.  Time was quickly running out, so he turned and seized Mrs. McGinty’s hand, bringing it to his tobacco-stained lips and boldly kissing it.  “Miz Scarlet, it has been my pleasure.  I surely hope to see you again soon.”

Surprised by the rough but courtly gesture, Mrs. McGinty felt warmth of a different kind suffusing her cheeks.  “Well, now, ain’t you the gentleman, Mr. Murton?  I reckon I’d be right pleased to see you again, too.  Leastways, you know how to treat a lady.”

“Ma’am, ladies,” with another tip of his hat, Kyle smiled and walked out the door with a spring in his step.

Carlotta watched as Mrs. McGinty’s eyes followed the diminutive man.  She could see the longing in the widow’s eyes.  She couldn’t resist encouraging her, “Go after him.  Let him know you care.” 

Faded gray eyes widened at her words, and rouged lips uttered, “Aw, hell, you’re right!”  Like a ship under full sail, Mrs. McGinty hurried after Kyle. 

oooOOOooo

Wheat was across the street, tying the saddlebags onto his horse, as Beauregard fumbled with the strap on his holster.  He withdrew his old pistol and waited.  Where was Murton?  His plan hinged on getting them both at the same time.  What happened to that little weasel?  He heard Kyle’s boots on the sidewalk and risked a glance around the corner only to be shocked to his core when he saw his Scarlet seize the pint-sized miscreant and soundly kiss him on the lips!  In broad daylight; in front of everyone!  It was more than he could bear and he nearly leapt from his hiding spot brandishing his pistol and waving it at Kyle.  “Get away from her or I swear I’ll shoot you dead right this second!”

Kyle flung his hands up to ward off the attack.  “Easy now, ain’t no need to git proddy.”  

“Beauregard!  Where in tarnation have you been and what the hell d’you think you’re doing?” snarled Mrs. McGinty.

“I’m saving you and I’m arresting him!  He’s an outlaw!”

Kyle kept his eyes on the barrel of the pistol that was wavering wildly in Beauregard’s hands.  He didn’t see Wheat hastily mount his horse nor did he see his partner ride off trailing the mule, but he could hear the retreating hoof beats.   Relieved that one of them had escaped capture, he smiled.  “I think you’re a mite confused there, Bow-ree-guard.  I’m just a prospector.”

“No you aren’t.  I heard you and your partner talking last night.”

Mrs. McGinty turned back to Kyle and gazed at him speculatively.  “Are you wanted?” 

“Only by you, my darlin’,” said Kyle smoothly.

“He’s lying!!” Beauregard’s grip on the pistol was tightening dangerously.

“What’s goin’ on here?” said Gabe, coming outside while wiping greasy hands on a white rag.  “What’s all the yellin’ about?”  He stopped short when he saw the gun and didn’t notice Carlotta and Charlotte nearly bumping into him.  The two girls retreated to the doorway to watch the drama.

“This filthy outlaw had his hands all over your mama!” screamed Beauregard.

“Is that true?” asked Gabe with a cold edge to his voice.  He pulled a pipe wrench from a back pocket and gripped it threateningly.

“Not ‘actly, more like she had her hands on me.”  Kyle was still grinning foolishly at Mrs. McGinty.

“Mama?” 

Throwing her hands in the air, Mrs. McGinty shrieked, “Men!  I hope you all kill each other!” and disappeared into the hotel with Carlotta and Charlotte trailing behind her as she wailed her fury. 

The women’s departure left Gabe, Kyle, and Beauregard staring at each other in confusion.  Gabe was the first to speak.  “I guess you’d best go with Beau, Mr. Murton, while I telegraph for the sheriff.  We’re gonna let him sort this mess out.  Put him in the smokehouse, Beau, and see that you don’t shoot him by accident less’n you want your own neck stretched.” 

Mention of the sheriff wiped the goofy smile off Kyle’s face.  “I din’t do nothin’.  He’s just jealous your mama likes me better.”

“That might be true, but Beau’s no liar and I don’t know you well enough to know if’n you are.  You’ll keep fine in the smokehouse while we wait for the sheriff.  Shouldn’t be more’n a week or two ‘fore he gits here.”

Kyle dropped his hands and let his shoulders droop.  A week or two?  Heyes was going to kill him.

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due - Chapter 11   The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 EmptySat Oct 03, 2015 5:14 pm

Another fun chapter ladies, and it seems that love is in the air.
Kyle and Scarlett make a very odd couple, but what the hay...if it works...

I loved the opening description of Kyle as Carlotta was drawing him.  Sweet and disgusting all at the same time.  Which is actually quite fitting now that one thinks about it.

I have a feeling that Carlotta is going to be falling hard for one of our boys.  That could really mess up their plans.  That, and Kyle going to jail for being kissed by an older woman.  Life just isn't fair sometimes!
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The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due - Chapter 11   The Devil's Due - Chapter 11 Empty

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