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 The Devil's Due - Chapter 14

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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1438
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

PostSubject: The Devil's Due - Chapter 14   Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:32 am

Heyes swung his leg over his mare and dismounted.  He nodded over to one of the gang to take his mount as the men clustered around to see the reaction as much as to see the female prisoners.  His brows gathered, watching the women being helped down before Gabe.  “Wait!”  All faces turned to the leader.  “Have you searched them, Ike?”  

   
“Well, I searched him,” Ike replied.  “What’s the point in searchin’ women?”


Heyes shook his head.  “Kid, do it.  I won’t have any prisoners who haven’t been searched.” 
  

“Searched!” Charlotte’s voice rose in outrage.  “By you men?  No.  I won’t allow it.”


Heyes nodded over to the Kid who walked purposefully towards the women.  “Let’s get something straight.  You’re in no position to forbid anything; something you should have thought about before you started drawing pictures of outlaws.  The Kid’ll use the back of his hands and be as delicate as he can, but I don’t take silly risks.  I need to make sure you aren’t in a position to shoot any of us in the back.”


“Kid?”  Charlotte held her breath and stood trembling as the gunman drew the backs of his hands down her arms, back, hips, thighs and finished off by lifting her skirts to investigate her ankles.


“She’s clean,” he announced, turning to the older sister.


“Kid?” Charlotte repeated.  “You’re Kid Curry?”  The only reply was an unseen flash of blue as a glance was flicked at her bagged head while Carlotta got the same treatment.  The girl’s shoulders heaved with deep sobs.  “Lottie,” her voice was heavy with sobs.  “No...it can’t be him.”


Carlotta’s voice was laden with disdain.  “This is about the level I expect of a man like Kid Curry, lifting the skirts of a bound woman.  You’re an animal!”


A curt nod from his partner told Heyes the search was complete.  “Fine.  Ike, take them to...”


He was cut off by the sight of Charlotte’s covered head rolling back and her knees crumpling before she face-planted on the hard ground.


“Charlotte!  What’s going on?”  Carlotta demanded. 


“What’s wrong with her?” Heyes strode over and crouched by the patient’s side.  He glanced over at the Kid, noting that he hung back with gun drawn and scanned the scene, wary of diversion tactics.


“I think she’s fainted, Heyes,” Kyle knelt by Charlotte’s side.  “Ya want me to have a look?  She’s seen me anyway.” 


“Fainted?  Untie me.  Let me help her.”  Carlotta demanded.  “She’s frightened.  She’s fainted from sheer terror.  Speak to me, Charlotte.  Speak to me.”


“I heard ya should loosen her clothes.”


Carlotta was clearly not impressed by Kyle’s ministrations.  “If you put that grubby paw near my sister’s clothing, I’ll break it in half the minute I’m untied.”


“Easy, Miz Carlotta.  These are outlaws.  You don’t want to rile them,” murmured Gabe.


“It’s a bit late for that advice, Gabe,” Heyes frowned down at the unconscious girl.  “Has she ever done anything like this before?”


“No, but she’s never been held at gun point and manhandled by criminals before,” retorted Carlotta.  “Maybe if she had, she’d be more used to it by now.  Are you proud of yourself?  Do you like frightening people?  Untie me.  She needs me.”


“You’re the one who brought her out here, ma’am,” Heyes growled.  “You told me that yourself in the hotel, remember?  This could be a trick.  Fetch Preacher and get that bag off her head.”  Heyes frowned and the unconscious face of the younger sister was revealed.  “That cheek’s going to bruise.  It looks genuine.” 


“Of course it’s genuine.”  Carlotta yelled.  “Someone get me my carpet bag.  There are some smelling salts in it.”


“There ain’t no need for that,” Preacher stepped forward.  “I I’ve heard about this.  I think I can help.”  The group parted to allow the Preacher through.  He bent over and scooped up the girl by circling her waist in a thin arm.  She hung there, bent at the waist with her head tipped down to the ground, as he began to swing her backwards and forwards like a rag doll.  “They needs a good shake.  Upsides down is best.”  He ignored the horrified cries from the outraged sister and continued to waggle her about.  “Wanderin’ womb, they calls it.  Ya just gotta rattle it back into place.”        


“Put her down immediately!” Carlotta demanded.


Charlotte groaned as the oxygenated blood flooded back to her brain, more through accident than design.  Preacher gave a satisfied smile before depositing the girl back on the ground.   “Told ya.  wanderin’ womb.  Them’s tricky things, wombs.”


Kyle whistled through his teeth.  “Sheesh, ain’t book learnin’ great?” He shook his head at Wheat’s questioning gaze.  “’T’ain’t for me, but it’s still great.  I had a book once but I couldn’t get on with it.”    


“She’s real pale,” murmured Kyle.  “Poor thing’s as scared as a baby bird, Heyes.”  


Heyes stood and propped his hands on his hips.  “Kid, can you find those smelling salts?”  He nodded over to the Kid, who replaced his weapon in his holster and walked over to the sisters’ belongings.  He flipped opened Carlotta’s bag and began to search.


“She’s coming ‘round.”  Charlotte suspiciously blinked up at Wheat, who proffered a canteen.  “It’s water.  It looks like you could do with some,” he frowned at her mistrustful stare.  “It ain’t poison.  Take it.”  He opened the canister and held it up to her lips, tentatively urging her to drink.


“It’s a bit of an over-reaction, isn’t it?”  Heyes looked at both women in turn.  “I’ve held up plenty of places and never seen anybody act like this.”


Carlotta huffed futilely under the burlap.  “She’s the baby of the family.  She’s been very protected, up until now.”


The dark brows arched in question.  “What did you think would happen?  You got her mixed up in this.” 


“In what?”  Carlotta gulped heavily.  “I’ve only drawn a few pictures...”  She dropped her head.  “I’m sorry.  I promise I’ll never do another one.  Honestly.” 


Booted feet crunched in the dirt beside Heyes as Hank handed him a portfolio.  “The Kid told me to give you this.  He says he’s still lookin’.” 


He flicked it open, examining each page, before turning to the next.  Even though Ike had warned him what to expect, these were worse than he anticipated.  A muscle tightened in his jaw as he stared down at a page containing a number of attempts at his own image, but his mouth firmed into a line when he came to the Kid’s drawing.  That one was good; too good.  A very gifted hand had even captured the small chicken pox scar above his right eyebrow.  There was enough here to condemn the pair of them to a bullet in the back by any man seeking Burdon’s bounty.  He paused, trying to control his temper, but it smouldered in the blackness darkening in his glare.  “Who drew these?”


“I did,” Carlotta quickly replied: too quickly.  She slumped in defeat.  “I’ll never do it again.”


“And there’s my problem right there, Miss Durbin.  I can see these were drawn by two different hands, and that one is more skilful than the other.”  His eyes burned into her.  “So how am I supposed to believe you when you tell me that you’ll never do it again?”


“Fine, we both did them.  I was just trying to protect Charlotte.  She didn’t even want to come, but I persuaded her.   She’s the youngest of the family, and this is my fault.  We have money in the leather saddlebags, just take it and leave us alone.”


Heyes shook his head.  “This isn’t about money.  I need to stop these pictures.  How do you suggest I do that, ma’am?  Kill you?  Maim you so you can’t draw again?  I don’t have too many options.”


Carlotta swallowed back the caustic fear gathering at the back of her throat.  “She hasn’t done a thing.  I promise you we’ll never, ever draw you again.  Do whatever you like to me.  Just let my sister go.”


Heyes tilted his head.  “That’s quite the offer.  Not one I’d recommend you make to criminals though.”  He flicked through the folder.  “You don’t appear to have done anything but draw pictures of me and my men.  Just what do you think I’m supposed to make of that?”


Carlotta’s mouth opened to reply but nothing came out.  “I’m...I’ll beg.  Just let my sister go.”


“Yeah.”  He smiled grimly.  “You see my situation.  Right now it’s you or me.”  He flicked up an eyebrow.  “It sure as hell isn’t going to be me.”


“Heyes,” the Kid strode up and grabbed the outlaw leader by the arm.  Charlotte gasped as he crossed her field of vision, but he ignored her and thrust a book with a marbled cover into his partner’s hands.  “You’ve gotta see this.”

 
Heyes flicked it open and stared at the inside cover for the longest time.  The dark eyes rose to stare at the women before meeting the blue eyes of his partner.  The Kid nodded.  “Yup, there are other papers too.  Bank books, letters, you name it....”


“The same?”


The Kid gave one curt nod of confirmation before both men turned to stare at the sisters.  “Burdon,” Heyes held up the book, his face like stone.  “Your real names are Charlotte and Carlotta Burdon.”


Carlotta simply shook her head dumbly from side to side. 


“You’re denying it?” barked Heyes, “even though I’m holding your journal?”  Charlotte bawled and buried her face in the sack while shuddering breaths showed that Carlotta had also began to cry.  “Your father was Ernest Burdon?” 


“They used a false name,” asked Gabe.  “What difference does that make?”


“He’s going to kill us, Lottie!  Just like Kid Curry murdered William,” wailed Charlotte.


“William?”  Heyes glared at each girl in turn.


“He was our brother,” sniffed Carlotta. “Now do you see why she was so afraid?  The man who shot him was laying his hands on her while you held us prisoner.  Who wouldn’t find that overwhelming?”   


“You didn’t.”  Heyes gave a sigh of resignation.  “Well, I guess that answers that.”  He threw down the book and bellowed at Wheat who lingered nearby.   “Help Ike get them inside, and get that sack back over that one’s head.  I need to think.”


He walked over to the luggage and crouched over the tumbled contents.  He rooted through the bundled clothes and paperwork and picked up item after item, looking at each before throwing them angrily aside.  He stood, kicking furiously at the offending paperwork and stalked off over to the rocks.  The Kid followed.


Heyes raised a dismissive arm.  “Leave me be!”


“Who do you think you’re talkin’ to?” demanded the gunman.  “I’m in this as deep as you are.  Deeper, in some ways.  I’m the one who killed their brother.  If you want to go off on your own on this, I’ll make it easy for you and ride out of here right now.”


Heyes turned, the drop of his chin showing that he was chastened behind the anger tightening his face.  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I’m just used to running things on my own.  Will that bastard Burdon never die?  He’s using his daughters from beyond the grave.  What the hell are we supposed to do with a pair of girls?”


“They don’t look like their worm of a brother, that’s for sure.”  The Kid pulled off his hat and ran a hand through his hair.  “They came all this way to get us on their own.  They’re determined, even if they’re none too bright.” 


“The whole idea was that we take any pictures they’d drawn, but this is a whole other problem.”  Heyes started to pace.  “This is a measured vendetta, and even if we deal with them, who else is going to follow?”


“We leave, Heyes.  It’s all we can do.  We split up and leave the country.  The reward is dead or alive, so as soon as those pictures get out there we’re dead men.  We grow beards and get as far away as I can.  Nobody’s goin’ to take the chance of bringin’ us in alive when you get the same for a corpse.”


“I know...” Heyes continued to pace.


“So?  We ride outta here and leave them to it.  There can’t be much in the way of skill left in the family if they sent a pair of girls.”


Heyes shook his head pensively.  “Nooo, girls grow into women, and women with money can pay men to do their dirty work for them.  It looks like they either haven’t figured that out yet, or they haven’t got control of the money.”  He beat his palm against his forehead, knocking his hat back.  “Think, dammit!”  Heyes continued to stride back and forth, caged in by circumstance and irritation.  “Yeah, they’re on their own all right.  This can’t be sanctioned by the family.  Even Burdon hired gunnies.”  He glanced over at the leader’s cabin and began to tread the dirt again.  “So if they’re on their own we have something work with...”


“Work with?”  An outraged Kid pointed at the building.  “I ain’t doin’ a thing to those women, Heyes, and I ain’t lettin’ you do anythin’ either.  What kind of man do you think I am?  We let them go and we head for the hills, that’s all there is to it.  What’s got into you?  We don’t do stuff like this.”


“No.”  Heyes stopped.  “At the very least we question them and find out what we’re dealing with and what more is coming up behind.”  He held up a hand to stop the Kid’s protests.  “Think about it.  We’ve already got them, and if we’re going to disappear it might as well be with enough money to live quietly for a good long time.  We’ll let them go once we know as much as they can tell us.  We’re going to finish the job we’re working on too.  We’re going to need the money.”


“I’m no kidnapper, Heyes,” growled the Kid. 


“Yeah, well I remember when you weren’t a thief or a gunman either.  It’s a greasy pole and we’re both climbing as fast as we can to stop hitting the bottom.  We’d be dumb to let them go without getting as much information as we can.  Besides, the Burdons want us, but we’ve got something they want even more.  Maybe we can end this thing once and for all?” 


“You ain’t serious...”


Keen brown eyes fixed on his cousin.  “I don’t like this any better than you do, but we face a straight choice between disappearing without knowing just how far the Burdons are prepared to go; or finding out more and leaving with some money.  It’s not much of a choice, but you know I’ll always choose knowing more over ignorance.”


The Kid shook his head.  “I don’t like this.  They’re scared to death.  She collapsed.”


“Yeah, they are.  I know that feeling too well.”  Heyes folded his arms and stood next to his partner, “mostly because of their pa.  The difference is that they’re safe.  Burdon paid to make sure we weren’t.  Have you forgotten what William did to Jen?”


“Of course I haven’t.  I’ll never forget that as long as I have a breath in my body.”


Heyes stared into the doubtful blue eyes, waiting to see which side the decision was going to land.  The Kid gazed off aimlessly at the horizon as his mind ran through the options and potential consequences.  “I guess we need to try to find out as much as we can before we let them go.  We stand a better chance that way.”


“So we agree.”  He gestured with his head.  He turned at hearing a shot ring through the Hole.  “The guards?  They’ve seen someone else?  What now?”     


It wasn’t long before Hank rounded the curve in the road.  He was leading a stout gray mare mounted by an older, blindfolded woman.   Heyes immediately recognized Scarlet McGinty and muttered under his breath.


“Heyes, ain’t that….?”


“#$%&!!”


“Yep, thought so.”  The Kid shook his head.  No wonder Heyes had been desperate to find him.  He was surrounded by idiots.


The frustrated dark-haired leader of the Devil’s Hole strode out to meet his latest visitor.   His partner stood back with his arms crossed and a bemused smirk on his face.  This was gonna be good.


“Hank, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” demanded Heyes as the riders pulled up in front of him.


“Weren’t nothin’ else I could do, boss.  This here lady followed Ike’s trail in and she weren’t about to turn around.  She put up one helluva fight.  You oughta see Lobo.”


“You could’ve tied her up and left her where you found her,” offered Heyes angrily.  “You could’ve shot her.  You could’ve done damn well anything ‘sides bringing her into the Hole.”


“You always tell us not to hurt anyone, Heyes.  ‘Specially the ladies.”



“Mr. Heyes, untie me and take me to my son and the Durbin girls right this minute!”  Scarlet McGinty thrust her arms out in the direction of Hank.  The shrill tone and lack of fear in her voice cowed the outlaw and his eyes begged Heyes to comply.   The buxom matron hadn’t finished.  “I knew it was you all along.  That mealy-mouthed cur you sent had outlaw written all over him and when he left town on my boy’s trail I knew damned well you’d sent him.  I want to know why and, let me tell you, Beauregard knows where I’ve gone and if you’ve harmed those girls in any way the authorities won’t rest until you’re hangin’ from a branch!”


“Untie her and take the blindfold off,” snapped Heyes.  This day had gone from bad to downright awful in a big hurry.  He walked to Mrs. McGinty’s near side, and waited for her to be free from her restraints before offering a hand up to help her dismount.  Regally, she accepted his help. 


Once her feet touched the ground, she took a moment and composed herself, straightening her skirt.  One sleeve of her jacket was torn and several long strands of hair had escaped from under her jaunty cap, but she was otherwise unharmed.  The deep scratches and bruises on Hank’s face indicated he was not.   “That’s better.  Where’s Gabe and the girls?”


“He’s in the bunkhouse.  The girls are in my cabin.”


Anger flushed Scarlet’s face.  “If you’ve harmed those innocent little gals…”


“No one’s been harmed and those girls are far from innocent.  They’ve been lying to you.”


Relieved they were untouched, she smiled.  “Hell, I knew that.  I just don’t know what they was lyin’ about.” 


“Their name is Burdon, not Durbin, and they aren’t on vacation.  They’re on a vendetta against me and my partner.”


“Well, that sure ‘nuff explains why you’d be so foolish as to bring ‘em here.”


Heyes growled, “I didn’t…, oh never mind.”


“Mr. Heyes, why don’t we go somewhere private so you can start at the beginnin’ and explain why you think a coupla little bitty gals are a danger to you.  Shall we?”  Scarlet extended her hand and Heyes automatically crooked his arm to accept it.  With great dignity, Mrs. McGinty allowed herself to be led away.  The Kid fell into step on her other side, and she cast a sidelong glance at him.  “My, you sure are a handsome one.  Tell me, boys, how’d a good-lookin’ pair like you end up as dirty, low-down outlaws?”


“It’s a long story, ma’am,” answered Curry.


“I’m lookin’ forward to hearin’ it.”


Heyes paused before a smallish building and fished a key out of his pocket.  He fit it in the lock and swung the door open.  Inside, a small work table and two chairs dominated the room.  Various tools and implements hung from the walls and boxes and crates littered the rest of the open space.  Heyes indicated one of the chairs for his guest and settled himself in another.  The Kid left the door open a crack and kept watch in case someone decided to get nosy.


“So, you gonna tell me what’s goin’ on or am I gonna have to leap to conclusions?” queried Scarlet.  


Dark eyes met blue eyes and an unspoken agreement was reached.  Heyes nodded.  “It started in Denver…”


oooOOOooo


“and when Burdon died, we figured it was over and done with.  Until now,” concluded Heyes.


Scarlet was quiet for several minutes before softly saying, “That’s some story, Mr. Heyes.”


“Call me Heyes.”


“All right, Heyes.  I guess you can call me Scarlet now that we’re all friendly-like.  I don’t reckon you’re lyin’ neither.  I can smell a liar a mile off and I knew those two were up to somethin’.  Still, it’s my duty as a decent woman to see that they’re returned to their family in one piece.  I got a reputation to maintain and, my guess is, so do you.”  These two were thieves but they weren’t killers.  If they were, Gabe and the girls would already be dead, as would she.


“We can’t just let them go.”


Scarlet’s eyes twinkled with merriment.  “No, you can’t.  You sure are in a pickle, ain’t you?”


Leaning back, Heyes sighed.  “I have to keep you all here until I can figure out how to solve this.”


“Well now, maybe I can help you with that,” she replied conspiratorially.  “You see, I’m a real resourceful lady.”


Interested despite himself, Heyes asked, “What do you have in mind?”


“Well, the way I see it, you gotta figure a way to get these gals home real soon.  It ain’t gonna be long before the rest of their family starts lookin’ for them and Beauregard sure ain’t gonna sit on his hands for long if Gabe and me don’t return right quick.  Don’t forget it weren’t that hard for me to find ‘em.”


Curry turned from the door, smiling.  “Yes, ma’am, but not many ladies can track like an Apache.”


Scarlet grinned, “My late husband was a mountain man up in Montana; he figured a woman should earn her keep so he taught me to track and trap real well.”  She turned her attention back to Heyes.  “So what’re you thinkin’?  Ransomin’ ‘em would be my choice.  That’s a win/win for everybody.”


Heyes grin dimpled his cheeks.  Scarlet was a spitfire for an old girl.  “I was thinking along those lines myself.”


“Heyes,” said the Kid, warningly.


“Un huh, I just bet you were,” winked Scarlet, “and I hope you were already thinkin’ I can help you with that.”


“How?”


“Heyes!”


“Shh, Kid, can’t you see the lady’s talking?”


“What you need is a go between.  Someone who can approach the family, let ‘em know the girls are still safe and sound; someone who can be trusted; someone like me.”


Heyes leaned back in his chair and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  “How do I know you won’t turn on us?”


Snorting, Scarlet said, “That’s an easy one.  You just keep Gabe and the girls right here ‘til I come back with the cash.  Then we split it fifty-fifty.”


“We are not ransomin’ anyone!!”  The Kid banged his fist down on the table to punctuate his statement.


“Now hold on, Kid.  I’m not planning on ransoming them, Scarlet is.”


“It’s still kidnappin’ and I won’t have no part of it.”  Icy blue eyes shifted from one face to another until Heyes stood up and grabbed his partner’s forearm leading him away from the table.


“Calm down, will ya?” he whispered, “We’re not ransoming anyone, but I’ve got her number now.  Mrs. McGinty’s not the paragon of virtue she likes to pretend to be and we can use that.”


Curry searched his eyes and relaxed.  “You know, Heyes, you’re a whole lot sneakier than you used to be.”


“Thank you.” 


“It ain’t a compliment!”


Heyes returned to sit across from Scarlet.  “Ma’am, ransoming won’t work for us.  Those girls can draw us from memory and, if I send them home, that’s exactly what they’re gonna do.”


Scarlet conceded his point.  “So what’s your plan?”


“I’m not ready to tell you that.  Let’s get to know each other better before we go sharing secrets,” said Heyes as he gave her a rakish wink.


“Don’t forget I ain’t lettin’ either of you ruin those two little gals.”


“I’m not planning on ruining them, but I am planning on getting leverage.”


“Leverage?” Scarlet murmured thoughtfully.  “Heyes, you sound an awful lot like my dear, late husband.  He was a mortgage banker, God rest his soul.  All right then, I guess I can wait ‘til you’re ready to tell me what you’ve plannin’.”


“I thought you said he was a mountain man?” said a confused Curry.


“A girl like me’s entitled to more’n one, you know.”  Scarlet smiled.  “Count me in.  You’re gonna need someone to wrangle those girls and I’m your woman.  A word of caution, it’s best we don’t let Gabe in on your plan, though, he’s a good boy; sometimes a little too good if you catch my meanin’.”


“Yes, ma’am,” said Heyes with a broad smile.


“Now, if’n you’ll show me to your cabin.  I’ll get myself settled in.”  She rose, and with a swish of fabric, swept towards the door.


“Not so fast, Mrs. McGinty,” Heyes beamed his most charming smile.  “All prisoners need to be searched.”


“Searched?” the growl of her anger rumbled in the expansive chest.  “You would dare...?”


“I’m afraid I’ve got to,” Heyes nodded, regretfully.  “We’ll do it the same way as we did the girls, just using the backs of the hands and no more than a slight look at the ankle.  I’m real particular that women be treated well, but I’m just as scrupulous about making sure that none of us gets shot.”


Her chin tilted in challenge.  “No.”


“Ma’am, I want to make this as easy as I can.  It can be done privately and by one man, or we can use as many as it will take to hold you down.  It’s your call.  Please,” the brown eyes widened, “let’s get it out of the way without any unpleasantness.”


“Who does this search?”


Heyes cast out a hand towards his partner.  “Well the Kid searched the girls, but I’m happy to oblige if you prefer.”  He held up both arms in a mock surrender.  “I’ll be as proper as I can; you have my word of honor.”


“Honor?” She let out a gravelly, and supremely suggestive, laugh.  “This ain’t called The Devil’s Hole for nuthin.’  I guess some things are necessary, but if’n I gotta have a search I want it like I like my men: short enough to cover the essentials, but long enough to hold the attention.”  She cast a hungry glance at the blond gunman, lowering both her voice and her lashes.  “Him.”


“Me?”


Was it Heyes’ imagination or did the Kid’s voice just rise an octave?


“Yeah,” she purred.  “You.”


Heyes folded his arms, dropping his head to hide his chuckles.  “You heard the lady, Kid.  She wants you.  It’s the least we can do after holding her against her will.”


The Kid shrugged himself back into professional mode and advanced on her.  “Can you stretch your arms out, please?”


“Sure can, honey,” her eyes followed every stroke and caress, a feline smile reaching into the grey eyes.  “I’m real limber.” 


“I’m just gonna raise your skirts a little.”


“You want some help?  There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a masterful man, every now and again, but sometimes a lady’s got to take charge.”


The Kid gave an exasperated gasp.  “Stop rubbin’ up against me.  Can’t you keep still?”


“No, I can’t.  I was raised real religious, so everythin’ is suggestive to me.”


The gunman stood, shooting a glare at his highly amused cousin.  “Fine.  You can go.”


Mrs. McGinty patted her hair and raised her nose.  “Thanks, just remember that if you make things uncomfortable for me, I’ll return the favour.”  She turned on her heel and headed for the leaders cabin.


“She enjoyed that too much.  I feel dirty, Heyes.”


“Yeah, so does she, I reckon,” Heyes chuckled.  “I ain’t leaving you two alone.”                         


“Heyes, are you out of your mind?  She’s makin’ herself at home here.”


“Kid, we’ve got a job to plan.  Scarlet’s going to come in handy while we do that, unless you wanna nursemaid the Burdons.”


Curry nodded, “You gotta point there, Heyes.”


oooOOOooo

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

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1438
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due - Chapter 14   Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:32 am

Charlotte twisted her bound hands behind her back and continued to sob under her hood.  She stopped, holding her breath, at the sound of the door opening.

    
A familiar female voice gasped.  “What the...?”


The hood was whipped off and the girl blinked big, blue eyes against the caustic light.  “Mrs. McGinty!?”


The hood was pulled from her sister’s head before the matron worked at the rope to untie the prisoners, cursing and mumbling all the way. 


“What are you doing here?” 


The grey eyes burned into both sisters.  “Savin’ your lily-white butts, that’s what.  You lied to me.  How dumb do you have to be to get yourself kidnapped by the men you’re tryin’ to catch?”


“You know?” Carlotta murmured.


“Sure I know.  They told me everythin’, from your real names, to the poor gal whose throat your brother slit.  What the hell were you thinkin’?”


“What?”  Carlotta’s eyes widened.  “Who slit whose throat?”


“Your brother raped and murdered a poor girl and left her in a pool of her own blood in the garden at The Grand Inauguration Ball in Denver in ’71.  I remember readin’ about that in the papers too.  It was big news.”  Mrs. McGinty folded her arms.  “Poor lamb, that was a terrible business.  I ain’t got no time for that sort worm of a man.”


“Our brother never killed anyone.  They’re lying to you,” Carlotta flexed her newly released hands to bring them back to life.  “They cheated my father and my brother before killing William in cold blood.  How do you know all of this anyway?  How did you get in here?  Where is the gang?”


“One question at a time,” Scarlet McGinty scowled at the huge bruise on Charlotte’s cheek, holding her face with surprisingly gentle hands.  “Who did that to you?  Tell me and I’ll skin him alive.”


“I fainted,” squeaked Charlotte, intimidated by such a formidable ally.  “I think I hit it when I fell.”


“Ya better have.  If’n a man did this....”  She launched into a tirade of curses and turned to the other girl.  “Did you see this, Carlotta?”


“I was blindfolded, but I heard it.  She fainted.”


“So nobody’s meddled with you?”  Gimlet eyes darted from one woman to the other, checking for lies.  “You can tell me if they did.  I’ll have his guts for garters.”


“Meddled?”  Charlotte’s disingenuous gaze betrayed her hapless confusion.  “They tied us up.  Is that what you mean?”


The matron gave up on Charlotte, apparently satisfied.  “And you?  I know you lied to me and put my boy in danger, but we’ll deal with that later.  Have these lot been telling the truth?  Have they done anything to ya?”


“Mrs. McGinty...”


“None of your soft soap.  It won’t work on me.  I warned you in Sweatless, now tell me the truth.”


Carlotta swallowed hard.  “I’m sorry.  These men played a confidence trick on our family.  My brother was shot, my mother then died of the shock.  I’m sure they’ve given you a sob story, but they destroyed our family.  I can’t believe our brother was what you say he was.  He liked to party and socialize, but he was no killer.”  She backhanded away a tear.  “I just wanted to make things right in my mother’s name.”


The greying brows gathered in thought.  “I’ve gotta mind; a darned good one.”  She tapped her temple.  “Little in the way of schoolin’, but I remember things.  That killin’ was in the news all over the state, but I also met all kinds of men.  If‘n they were as bad as you say, we’d all be the way of that poor woman by now.  They’re tryin’ their best not to kill you when that would be the easiest thing to do.  They ain’t a danger to you, but you’re a threat to them, and they sure don’t know how to deal with you.”  She rubbed her chin.  “I fought my way in here, and I’d do it again.  I need on check on Gabe, but by the time I get back from seein’ my boy, I want the truth from you.  And don’t tell me these men are killers or rapists. They sent me in here to look after you.  Do you think Kid Curry needs me to do his dirty work for him?  Don’t push me too far or I’ll walk away and leave you two look after yourselves,” she paused, reconsidering, “well, maybe I’ll just walk away from one of ya.  I got no problem with schemin’, but I got a huge problem with devious.”  She glanced at Carlotta.  “If there’s any schemin’ to be done, I’ll be the one doin’ it.  Got that?”  


oooOOOooo


 The Kid plonked down a mug of coffee in front of Heyes.  “It’s been quite a day.”


Incredulous brown eyes blinked back at him.  “That’s like saying the Grand Canyon’s quite a hole.  In one day we’ve become kidnappers, proof-read our future wanted posters, and recruited our first female gang member.  I don’t mind telling you I don’t trust Scarlet McGinty as far as I can throw her.”


The blue eyes crinkled at the corners as the Kid smiled.  “Yeah, me neither.  She fits right in.”  He pulled out a chair and sat astride it.  “So what now?”


Heyes gestured towards the Kid’s bedroom with a nod.  “I guess at some point we were going to have to find a better way to keep them.  We can’t keep ‘em tied up and blindfolded forever, besides the damage is already done.”


“We could keep them locked in the cabin,” the Kid shrugged.  “It’ll be easy enough to board up the window from the outside to stop them memorizing everyone in the Hole from the window.”


“We can’t leave them in there twenty four hours a day,” Heyes shook his head.  “Even in prison you get time in the exercise yard, although I’m getting the feeling that’s the best option we’ve got to look forward to.” 


“So, we’ll tell the boys to lay low for an hour a day and let them give them a walk about.  They’ve seen us, so we don’t have to hide.”  The Kid lifted his own mug of coffee.  “We can stick to one end of the Hole and the gang can stick to the other.”  


“And there are...,” Heyes winced, “well, practicalities...to consider with women.”


“Like what?  They’ve got a room to themselves with a double bed and Miz McGinty to look after ‘em.  They can even have their bags once I’ve searched them properly.  They’ll be fine.  Gabe can take the bunkhouse until his ma follows through on her promise and we’ll take her in a cot.  You even got your own outhouse so they don’t need to use the bunkhouse latrines.  What more could they want?  It ain’t like they shave or chew tobacco.”


“I guess,” Heyes rubbed his chin distractedly.  “I had this whole job planned so carefully and now I’ve got this to worry about too.”


“And Ike?”


“Huh?”


“What are you going to do with Ike for bringin’ female prisoners here?  If he gets away with it, they’ll all start doin’ it.  Look at Hank.  We’ve got three of ‘em now.”


“Yeah, Ike.  I can’t send him away.  I need him.  He’s got a skill I need.”  Heyes toyed with his cup.  “I can’t take the risk of getting in someone new at this stage of the game.”


“Skill?” The Kid snorted.  “He brought three people into Devil’s Hole!  If he keeps this up we can start our own cat house.”  He paused.  “Nah, the way our luck’s goin’ it’ll be a sewin’ bee.”


“Cat house?” Heyes brows arched.  “Kid, those women are off limits.  To everyone.  You and me included.”


“I know that.  Sheesh, I don’t like them so scared of me they forget to keep breathin’ in any case,” he shook his head ruefully.  “She thinks I’m a complete monster.”


“Yeah, well in my experience bitterness is the easiest lesson learned.”


“Bitter?  Yeah, there’s the other one too.  I ain’t seen her without a bag over her head but I can tell from the snideness she ain’t my sort either.”  He grinned.  “She’s more your type.”


Heyes smiled and folded his hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair.  “She’s real pretty.  They both are, but they’re off bounds.” 


“Anyway, what’s this special skill Ike’s got?  Not walking into trees?  The ability to round up the nearest town and herd them into the hideout for a guided tour?”


The cheeks dimpled.  “He used to work on the railroad.”


“So?  How’s that going to help us rob a train?”


Heyes brought his chair back to the floor with a jolt.  “He’s not going to help us to rob a train, Kid.  He’s going to help us steal one.  He’s the only one in the gang who knows how to drive one.”


oooOOOooo


Scarlet strode over to the door and slammed it behind her, nodding to a surprised Heyes and Curry as she stomped out of the leader’s cabin and headed for the bunk house.  The Kid was the first to reach her, jogging through the thick dust she kicked up in her wake.  He grabbed her arm.  “Where d’ya think you’re goin’, ma’am?  You’re a prisoner.  You can’t just run around the place as you please.” 


“I’m goin’ to see my son.”  The Kid found himself pinned by the steely grey eyes of a determined mother, before the gaze dropped to glare at the hand which had the effrontery to grasp her wrist.  “I’ve checked on the girls, now I want to see my Gabe.”


Heyes walked up to them and gave the woman his most charming smile.  “Of course you want to see him.  That’s perfectly reasonable but we need you to understand that you have to run things past us first.  We’re criminals and there might be things we don’t want you to see.”


She nodded.  “And is one of them things the damage you’ve done to my boy?”


“Of course not.  He’s fine.”


She swung her arm outwards in a circle and broke the hold on her wrist with an ease which took the Kid by surprise.  “Good, but as you’re as dishonest as a fox raking through the trash, I’m sure you won’t mind if I check that out for myself.”


Heyes took in the imperious tilt of the chin as visions of Hank’s scratched face drifted through his mind’s eye.  “Fine, but let me get the men in order first.  You’re a lady and they could be doing anything in there, and when we’re talking about my men - I really mean anything.”


“Good.  Come on.”  She headed off once more, but was headed off by Heyes.  “Before you go in there, I’ve been thinking.  How do you feel about Gabe leaving the hole?”


“Huh?  Leave?”  She frowned suspiciously.  “Why?  What’s in it for you?”


“We’d keep you here, to make sure the women have a chaperone, of course.  But I think I’ve thought of a way we can eventually send them back out into the world.”


“How?”  Her brows knotted.  “But don’t think you’re foolin’ me for a minute.  You’re keepin’ me here to make sure Gabe does what you want, not to look after the girls.”


“Let’s just say it’s a little of both,” Heyes smiled.  “It struck me that if there were two blondes going around the county, checking into hotels and telling people they were the Durbin sisters drawing the West, it’d be easier to poke holes in any story of them being held here at Devil’s hole.  I want to discredit them, so it’s much harder to take any pictures they draw seriously.”  He gestured with his head towards the bunkhouse where Gabe was being held.  “Of course, Gabe would have to agree to it.  He’d have to lead the party around just like the Burdon women’s original plan.”       


“It all sounds kinda far-fetched to me.” 


Heyes nodded.  “Yeah, that’s the beauty of it.  It’s so ridiculous nobody will believe it, but if we get arrested we’ve got a whole army of people we can call to say the ‘Durbin girls’ were somewhere else.”


The woman’s grey eyes narrowed to slits.  “And what if you just get shot because of one of their pictures?  It’s not much of a plan.”


Heyes arched a brow.  “I can’t cover everything, Mrs. McGinty.  It’s better than killing them.  If you’ve any better ideas I’m willing to hear them.”


She tapped a toe in the gritty dirt.  “But Gabe would get out?”


The Kid shrugged.  “If he agrees to help us?  Sure.  We’d want him to go back to Beauregard to tell him that you’ve decided to join the party though.  We don’t want him calling out reinforcements.”


“Where do we get these women from?” she asked, doubt playing in her eyes.


“You leave that to us.  We know a couple of saloon girls who’ll fit the bill.  Kid’ll go back with Gabe, nobody knows him in Sweatless.”


“And then what?”  She shook her head.  “This is dumb.”


Maybe, maybe not, but your boy’ll be out and safe,” smile Heyes.


“I guess it’s better’n nothin’,” she shook her head.  “This is a trick.  I know it is.”


“A trick?”  Heyes looked wounded.  “Look, I can’t kill those women.  My plan is to pull off one more job and then head for the hills with some money to live off.  The gang don’t know that, in fact they can’t.  I’m trusting you with that information.  The best hope I’ve got is in changing my appearance enough to make anything they draw useless, and if anyone does use it, I’ll call witnesses in court to prove that the ‘Durbin gals’ were nowhere near Devil’s Hole.  I aim to try to make it look like foolish female fancy.”  He folded his arms.  “I thought you said you’d help us.”


The matron paused, scratching aimlessly at her throat and playing with the frills on her substantial bodice in the way some people played with worry beads.  “You’re right.  You’ve no hope.  Discreditin’ them is all you’ve got.  Yeah.  I’ll help.”    


“Good, then you have wonderful news for your son,” grinned Heyes.  “He’s no longer a prisoner.” 


She marched off towards the bunkhouse and mounted the porch.  “Gabe!  You in there?”


Heyes brushed by her and battered on the door, shaking the building to the shingles.  “Make yourselves decent.  There’s a lady here.”


“Ma!?”  Gabe’s astonished voice drifted through the door behind Kyle’s astonished face.  The features rearranged themselves into a gawping grin.  


“Miz McGinty.  What’s you doing here?”  His eyes twinkled blue devilment.  “Ya just couldn’t keep away. Could ya?”  He stepped back, grandly waving his arm to usher her inside.  “It’s my animal attraction, ain’t it?”


“Is that what it is?”  She sniffed at the air.  “I thought it was the drains.”


Kyle shook his head proudly.  “Nope, we ain’t got no drains.  It’s all natural.”


“Ma?  Gabe pushed his way through the gathering henchmen.  “What are you doin’ here?  And why is your sleeve torn.”  He turned with clenched fists.  “Who did it?  Who dared to lay a hand on my ma?”


“Easy there, Gabe,” Heyes held up a hand.  “It was your ma who laid hands on my men.  They did nothing but defend themselves against her.  You should see the state of them.  They look like they’ve been courting a bear.”


“What did you call her?” barked the outraged son.


“He never called me anythin’,” his mother responded.  “He’s treated me like a lady and he’s right.  You know how I get about anyone hurtin’ my boy.  When I saw you taken in here wild horses weren’t gonna keep me out.  How are you?”


“I’m fine, Ma, but they took the ladies.  I couldn’t do nothin’...,” his blue eyes became great pools of worry.


“They’re fine, Gabe.  I checked on ‘em first.  There was somethin’ about this lot that told me they wasn’t gonna hurt you.”


“They ain’t done nothin’ to them?”  Gabe bit into his lip.  “They ain’t...”


“Nope, poor Charlotte’s got a bruise where she fell.  They’re not only fine, but the gang’s agreed to let me chaperone ‘em, too.  These ain’t that kind of criminal.  I can see that.  How’ve they treated you?”


“They’ve been good enough, Ma.  They’ve been teachin’ me a game called Chuck a Lizard, but my mind ain’t on it.”


She nodded, breathing deeply, her substantial cleavage quivering with emotion.  “If they’d harmed you, my boy, there wouldn’t be a place on earth they could hide.  I’d bring this place down around their ears.”  She held out her arms, “I need a hug.”  She scowled at Kyle walking towards her with widespread arms.  “Not you!  My boy.  Come out and sit with me on the porch, Gabe.  We need to talk.”  


The outlaws watched the little family sit on the porch step, a maternal arm stretched around her huge son’s broad shoulders.  Heyes turned back to the gang in the bunkhouse.  “Now I’ve got you all together, it’s a good time to tell you that I’ve made a new rule.  Strictly no women in The Devil’s Hole.  None!  Once we get rid of this lot I’ll personally deal with the next man who brings a female in here.  Have you got that?”


He gazed around the room at the blinking eyes, gaping mouths, and nodding heads.  He scowled at the glazed lunkheads and battered his hand on the table.  “I asked if you’d got that!  The next man who even considers bringing a woman in here is out.”


A chorus of shocked affirmation floated in the air.  Heyes stared intently at Ike and Hank.  “And you two haven’t gotten off scott free either.  Come and see me after dinner,” his lips twitched into a cold smile.  “I’ve got a special job for you.”


He turned and strode from the room, the Kid pausing to drink in the reaction like a panther choosing the weakest gazelle before following him.  They walked back to the leader’s cabin side by side.


“Do you think they got the message, Heyes?”


“If they want to stay in this gang they’d damn well better listen,” muttered Heyes.


“So that’s all you’ve got?” asked the Kid, “that two girls fitting their description make it look as though they made the whole thing up?”


“Nope, I’ve got bigger plans than that.  I’m gonna need your support, Kid.”


“As long as it gets those women outta here, but what’s the point in plans when they can draw us whenever they like?”


“That’s why we’ve gotta make their drawings completely pointless.”  Heyes smiled at his cousin.  “The man who taught me how to pick locks always had four on his door, but only ever locked two.  He figured that anyone standing there picking his locks would always be locking the other two at the very least.  He taught me a lot about being a step ahead.  We can’t stop them from drawing pictures; we can only make people less interesting in seeing them.”


“How?”


Secretive devilment played in the dark eyes.  “Come with me, Kid.  I’ve got a lot to go over with you before you leave in the morning.”


The Kid nodded, a sardonic smile playing in his eyes.  “Yeah, get the facts straight so you can twist them?  You’ve always been good at that.  I’m sure when they invent a new way of lyin’ your face’ll be on the poster.”

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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The Devil's Due - Chapter 14
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