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 Lindy

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InsideOutlaw

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Posts : 480
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 61
Location : Colorado

PostSubject: Lindy   Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:28 pm

This is my first long, multiple chapter story and I'm re-posting it here after giving it a bit of a face-lift.  I hope you enjoy it.


LINDY


Chapter One


Leaning back into the broad chest behind her, Lindy sighed happily.  There weren’t many moments in her line of work where she could claim contentment, but this was one of them.  Across the table sat her friend Paulina whose real name was Madge, snuggled into the arms of the handsome, blue-eyed cowboy, Thaddeus Jones.  Smith and Jones—what a joke!   Did they think she was a green girl who wouldn’t know an alias when she heard one?  

Joshua nuzzled her neck in the sensitive spot she favored and she wiggled delightedly.  Turning into him, she threw her arms around his neck and whispered into his ear.  “Let’s go upstairs now, cowboy, I can’t wait any longer.” 

“Thaddeus, Paulina, will you excuse us?” said Joshua, rising and gently setting Lindy on her feet.  

She looked up and admired him.  He was so handsome with soft brown eyes completely focused on her.  Not her usual client at all.  Smiling seductively, she led him up the stairs and into her room.  This was going to be a pleasant evening.  Tomorrow was soon enough to telegraph her brother, the bounty hunter.  He’d figure out right quick how much these two were worth.  

OOOOOOOOOO

Responding to his sister’s telegraph, Jake Hawkins got to Gunnison in record time.  If those two were who he thought they were; he and his sister had just struck it rich.  Riding into town late in the morning, Hawkins stopped to visit Lindy at the dance hall.  Together they sat down at a corner table and she began to enthusiastically describe Smith with downright embarrassing detail.  Her excitement at a possible windfall showed all over her face and drew the attention of Paulina who moved closer to the two siblings while pretending to clear tables.  She kept herself out of their line of sight, but kept them within earshot.

“I knew he was someone special.  Those two were not your average cowpokes.  They had dangerous written all over them in a sexy kind of way,” Lindy confided to Jake.  “How much do you think they’re worth?  What’s your plan to take them in?”

Paulina had heard enough.  That little schemer was setting her Thaddeus up.  She was half in love with him and had to warn him.    Setting down the tray of dirty glasses on the bar, she checked to see if anyone was looking at her and slipped quietly out the back door, hurrying down the boardwalk to the hotel.  She knew enough not to try for the front entrance so she slipped down the alleyway to the kitchen door.  It took her some money and some fast talking, but the cook eventually told her what room Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones were staying in.  She crept up the servant’s stairway to the second floor and, keeping watch for the decent customers, tapped quietly on the door to Room 203.  There was no answer.  Trying the knob, the door opened easily, and Paulina glanced inside.   The beds were made and the room was ready for the next customers.  He’d left without saying goodbye and it hurt her.  Had they known what Lindy was up to?

OOOOOOOOOO

“You ever get the feelin’ we’re gonna spend the rest of our days ridin’ from place to place until one day we just dry up and blow away?” asked the Kid, looking over at his partner of many years riding alongside him.

“Now, don’t start.  I’m not any happier than you to clear out of Gunnison, but it had to be done,” growled Heyes.  He refused to look at the Kid; instead focusing his attention on a trail that appeared to leave the open rangeland they had been riding through.  It branched off to the left for as far as he could see and led towards a deep forest of Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pines.  Wanting to lessen their visibility to any pursuers, he gently nudged his horse onto the path.

They had left late in the evening with no time to replenish their meager supplies and, after a long night in the saddle with no breakfast or lunch, they were both feeling proddy. 
 
Curry was upset with being forced to move on before he was ready and doubted Heyes’ reasons for leaving in a hurry.  Thinking back to Gunnison and the lovely Paulina, he said, “Do you think maybe you’re gettin’ a little paranoid leavin’ town ‘cause you woke up and saw Lindy going through your pockets?  She’s a prostitute.  What’d you expect?  It ain’t exactly the first time you got rolled by a dove.”

“That wasn’t it, Kid.  I forgave her for that. It was the look in her eye when she tried to get me to stay.  Look, I had a feeling something was wrong and I didn’t want to find out if I was right.  It isn’t like it hasn’t happened to you.  We’ve got to pay attention to our instincts or we aren’t making it to our amnesty, right?”  Heyes was angry he had let his guard down and it stung him to think the lovely Lindy might find his bounty sexier than his body. 
 
“Couldn’t we have at least had breakfast?” replied the Kid.

OOOOOOOOOO

Days later, they rode into yet another dusty cow town with a small mercantile, livery, two saloons and a seedy looking hotel adjacent to the pungent stockyards.  The Kid wasn’t pleased by what he saw.  Rather than heading to the hotel, he chose instead to check out a saloon in hopes of a cold beer and a late lunch.  

Pulling up in front of the liveliest bar, Heyes wearily dismounted his sorrel gelding and patted him gently.  Turning his back on his horse and his partner, he trudged up the rickety wooden steps and through the bat wing doors without so much as a glance at the Kid.

Curry sat his horse for a moment becoming irritated with his partner for silently walking away.  He briefly considered moving onto the next saloon to make a point, but decided he was too tired.  Shaking his head, he swung stiffly out of the saddle and entered the saloon.

Squinting as the bright lights of the saloon momentarily blinded his eyes, the Kid saw his partner moving intently to a poker table across from the bar that ran the length of the building.  Heyes hadn’t looked back at him.

“You boys have room for one more?” the dark-haired ex-outlaw asked the table of players while looking from one face to the next.

“Have a seat and get your money out,” was the gruff reply from the rancher seated to his left.  “This here’s Ray and the fellow across from me is my foreman, Don.  I’m Bill.  We’re from the Lazy Elk up the road a ways.  Over there is Mel from the Triple J south of here.  And you are….?”

“Joshua Smith from Porterville,” said Heyes as he reached out and shook Bill’s hand.  He slipped into the open chair.  “Thanks for letting me sit in.”  The barkeep arrived a moment later and delivered the beer and sandwich he had ordered on his way in.  He took a moment to glance over his shoulder at the Kid who was standing midway down the bar chatting up one of the gals.  Curry looked back at him without interest.  They were tired, broke and heartily sick of each other’s company.  The closer they had gotten to town, the grumpier the Kid had become despite Heyes’ attempts to draw him out of his bad mood.  He’d been talking about some of the more amusing parts of the book he was reading to try and lighten things up.  After finishing a description of one of the more risqué chapters, he’d laughed and turned to his best friend with a broad grin.  “You know, if you don’t shut up and stop being so damn cheerful, I might shoot you,” the Kid had nastily said.  The light in Heyes’ eyes had died and his smile vanished.  Curry had seen Heyes’ reaction and looked away guiltily.  Those had been the last words they had exchanged over five hours ago.

Now the Kid broke eye contact and turned back to the bar.  He knew it wasn’t fair to take out his surliness on Heyes, but he hadn’t been able to stop himself earlier.  He was too tired to pretend to be cheerful.  Irritated with himself and his partner, he stood at the bar and began drinking uncharacteristically heavily.  Despite having eaten a sandwich, the alcohol began to have an effect on him and he failed to notice the dark stranger who entered the saloon an hour after their own arrival.

Heyes, however, had spotted him straight away; noticing his tied down gun and his restless eyes.  He watched the stranger survey the room and move past the Kid but do a brief double take.  Though the new man went to the back of the room and settled with a beer, Heyes had no doubts he’d recognized his partner.  Waiting a while, he quietly excused himself from the game and casually went to the bar and stood next to Curry.  Whispering without turning his head, Heyes had laid a hand on his cousin’s arm and said, “Time to go, fellow in the back recognized you.”

“So, now you’re talkin’ to me?” 

“Kid, c’mon,” chided Heyes gently, but Curry had turned his back and stomped out the door.  He glanced back at the stranger, but he was blocked from view by the barkeeper who had stopped at the man’s table.  Tugging down his battered black hat, he swiftly followed in the Kid’s footsteps.

Curry was nearly back to the hotel before Heyes caught up to him and pulled into a side alley, hissing, “What the hell’s the matter with you?” 


The Kid wheeled on him viciously, “I’m tired!  I’m tired of bein’ on the move, I’m tired of eatin’ bad food, sleepin’ on the hard ground….I’m so damned tired of lookin’ over my shoulder and watchin’ your back.  Most of all, I am tired of you!” 

Clamping his jaw tight, Heyes drew himself up, put his hands on his hips, and stared with angry eyes.  “Are you done yet?” he asked scathingly.  “Because if you are, I think it might be a good idea if I found out who was looking at you as if you were his own personal pot of gold.”

Sighing, his anger spent, the Kid quietly said, “You do that, Heyes.  I’ll get us packed up and bring the horses ‘round back.”

“Good,” Heyes spit out before turning on his heels and heading back up the alleyway and out of sight.

A half hour later, the Kid came downstairs with their saddlebags over his shoulder.  Through the front window, he saw Heyes sitting on the porch staring intently up the street.  After paying their bill, he stepped out front and sat in the empty chair next to his partner with his hat pulled down low and asked, “Anything?”

“Yeah, our friend just left the telegraph office.  I’m gonna stroll over there and see if I can find out what he’s up to.” 

“How’re you gonna do that?” 

“With these,” said Heyes holding out his open hand and showing Kid the firecrackers he’d paid a young boy a nickel to buy at the mercantile.

Curry smiled for the first time in days. “Guess I could help.  I’ll get the horses.”

OOOOOOOOOO

The sound of gunfire had exploded up the street.  Doors opened and people poured out onto the sidewalks curious for a closer look.  Up and down the street voices rose.  Kid heard a familiar voice yell, “It’s the bank, they’re robbing the bank!”  

As Heyes watched from the shadow of a doorway next door, the telegraph operator came out of his office and rushed up the street to see what was happening.  Heyes saw the stranger from the saloon hurrying in the same direction as the operator.  The dark-haired man had his gun drawn.  Moving quickly, Heyes slipped around the corner and into the telegraph office.  He stepped through the gate and over to the littered desk.  Rifling through slips of paper, he snatched one up and swiftly left the building.

OOOOOOOOOO

The Kid was waiting in the alley behind the hotel mounted on his bay gelding and holding the lead to his partner’s sorrel.  He saw Heyes rounding the corner up a ways.  Arms pumping and legs flailing, he was running full out towards him with a huge, maniacal grin splitting his face.  Flinging himself onto his horse, and laughing breathlessly, Heyes wheeled his mount around.  Reaching out, the Kid grabbed a rein, stopping him.  “So?” asked the Kid.

“Jake Hawkins, bounty hunter.  Sending a telegram to his sister, Lindy.” Shocked blue eyes met brown.  “Yes, that Lindy.  They’re looking to make twenty grand,” Heyes gasped out as he dug his heels in and set his gelding in flight with Curry following close behind.

“You’re crazy, you know that don’t you?” yelled Kid at his partner’s back.

OOOOOOOOOO

Once again, they had ridden on through the night and now, in the middle of the afternoon, they were headed up an overgrown trail leading into the high country.  They had made efforts to hide their tracks and it didn’t look as if they were being followed but it paid to be careful.

“I’m hungry,” Kid said.

“Didn’t I see you eating a sandwich at the bar?” 

“THAT WAS YESTERDAY!  I’m hungry today,” was the shocked reply. 
 
Heyes smiled and rode on.

“You know, I’m not like you.  I can’t go without food.  It ain’t natural!” 

“I’m hungry, too, Kid.  I don’t dwell on it, ‘cause it makes it worse.  Here, maybe this’ll help.”  Reaching into his pocket, Heyes pulled out two beautiful, red apples.  “Seems I back slid a bit as I passed the produce stand.” 

“I take back everything I ever thought about you!” Kid said as he reached out for an apple and took a bite.  It was delicious.  “Sure is pretty up here,” he said eating, his most immediate concern having been met.

Looking back at his partner, he saw Heyes pull a dog-eared book from his saddlebag, tie up his reins and rest the book on the horn, taking a bite of his apple and reading contentedly.

This made the Kid smile.  Somehow, Heyes had a way of finding small comforts no matter what situations they found themselves in.  Like it was some sort of challenge for him to land on his feet no matter what happened.  Waving away the bees attracted by the sweet scent of the apples, Curry took another bite of fruit.  Too late, he realized he’d ridden across a yellow-jacket nest.  “Bees,” he yelled, startling Heyes.  

The sorrel was stung severely and instantly leapt into the air, pulling his head down and bucking like a rodeo bronc.  Heyes scrambled for the reins; juggled and dropped both apple and book; and tried to hang on.  By the third buck, his gelding sprang off the ground, twisted his hind end hard to the right and his forehand to the left.  Flying out of the saddle, he hit the ground hard and rolled down the hillside.  Colliding with a tree he came to a halt and lay unmoving.

“Heyes,” yelled Kid.  He vaulted out of his own saddle and ran to his partner’s side feeling like this was all too familiar.  Gently grabbing a shoulder, he rolled Heyes over onto his back.  A large purplish bruise was already forming on his left temple where he had been shot only a few months ago.  The doctor had warned them to be careful, saying a re-injury was likely to be serious.  Looking down at his cousin’s ashen face, Curry felt his anxiety leaping to life.

He reached under Heyes’ arms and carefully dragged him back into the heavy underbrush nearby.  After retrieving their gear from the horses, he knelt by his partner’s side trying to make him as comfortable as he could on his bedroll and tucking his own bedroll under Heyes’ head.  It took him a while to hobble the horses near a small brook where they could graze.  Returning, he set up camp for the night and built a small fire.  Fixing to brew coffee, he kept an eye on Heyes who had not moved.  The Kid placed the pot on the fire, stared at the flames, and thought back to yesterday.  The sight of his best friend gleefully running towards him, laughing like a delighted child, stealing apples; a Heyes he hadn’t seen in a long time.  Not since before trying for the amnesty.  When had Heyes changed? The Kid studied him.  When had those lines around his eyes gotten so deep?  Why hadn’t he noticed before?  Heyes looked careworn.  It’s what his Ma would’ve said.  

He couldn’t help wondering if the amnesty was a good idea.  The past months had been hard on both of them, but he hadn’t noticed the toll it was taking on his partner.  Heyes was always so positive about it, but did he really feel that way?  Moving closer to his unconscious cousin, the Kid looked closely at the face he knew so well.  The dark brown eyes were closed now and there was nothing to draw his attention away from his scrutiny of his closest friend.  Was that gray he saw in Heyes’ hair?  Long dark lashes rested against pale cheeks.  The bruise on his forehead had formed a goose egg in ugly shades of purple and brown.  His mouth was tight as though, even unconscious, he was uneasy.  Reaching out, Curry gently brushed the long brown hair off Heyes’ face.  “I’m sorry for being so proddy lately.  You always make it look so easy I guess I didn’t realize how hard it really was on you.”  Heyes moved his head slightly towards the sound of his voice.  “C’mon, Heyes, open your eyes.”  The eyes opened but were unfocused.  “Can you hear me?” said the Kid, leaning in closer.

“Of course I can hear you,” said Heyes groggily.  

The Kid rocked back on his heels and broke out in a huge grin, “Heyes!”

“Ugh, keep it down will ya?  My head feels like hell.”  Moaning, Heyes rolled over and a sick expression crossed his face.  Leaning to the side on his elbow, he retched violently.  The Kid grasped his cousin’s shoulders to support him until the spasm passed.  Easing him back, Curry felt him shudder.  Heyes wiped a grimy sleeve across his mouth.  “I’m a mess.”  Trying to rise again, he failed.   Closing his eyes with the pain, he sank back to the bedroll and passed out.

Curry was scared.  It was obvious to him Heyes had a concussion and he knew that was trouble.

OOOOOOOOOO

It was late the next morning when Heyes really came round.  The Kid had kept him up as best he could during the night.  Finally in the early hours of the morning, his own exhaustion had caught up with him and he, too, had fallen asleep.  When he awoke this morning, he had roused Heyes once again and then allowed him to fall back to sleep.  

Heyes now opened his eyes carefully and turned his head away from the sunlight.  His mouth was dry and sour tasting and his head was pounding painfully.  He remembered waking during the night.  He had vomited until there was nothing left to bring up.  Slowly rising by inches so as not to upset his queasy stomach, he sat up and looked about the camp seeing Curry brushing his horse across the clearing.  “Kid,” he croaked.

“Heyes, how’re you feelin’?”

“Better.” 

Fetching a canteen and plucking a biscuit from the edge of the fire ring, the Kid came over.  “Here, nibble on this.  It might settle your stomach.  Don’t drink too much.  You damned near puked up your stomach last night.”

Taking the water, Heyes sipped it slowly and reached for the biscuit. “Thanks.”

They sat together companionably for a while.  Not speaking, sitting quietly.  Heyes spoke first.  “We ought to think about moving on.”  Curry started to argue but he rightfully pointed out he would be better off getting to the next town and seeing a doctor there and ended the discussion. The Kid knew if Heyes wanted to see a doctor he had to be feeling awful.  He quickly set about packing up camp while furtively judging his partner’s condition. 

OOOOOOOOOO

The ride into Dolores was slow and easy.  The Kid took the lead and the sorrel followed behind with little guidance from his rider.  Arriving before dusk, Curry carefully checked out the town as they rode in.  Stopping in front of the hotel, he dismounted and told Heyes to stay put on his horse as he went inside.  He returned a few minutes later and helped his partner from his saddle.  Leading Heyes into the hotel with a firm grip on his arm, the Kid guided him up the stairs to the door of their room.  Propping the injured man against the wall with one hand, he used his other to insert the key to the door.  Together, the two ex-outlaws rolled through the doorway and over to one of the beds.

“Home away from home,” said Heyes goofily, collapsing onto the bed.

“Now I know you’re addled.  There ain’t nothing homey about this place.” The room was shabbily furnished and spoke of poor housekeeping.  The dirty window looked out over the street as promised, but seeing out of it was another story.  The Kid pulled the tattered comforter at the foot of the bed up over his cousin.  “You rest, Heyes.  I’ll fetch the doctor.”

Heyes nodded and closed his eyes.

OOOOOOOOOO

“Your partner has a serious head injury.  Could be a fracture, but it’s hard to know.  When he wakes up, fetch me again and we’ll see what kind of symptoms he has,” said the doctor as he finished his examination of Heyes and straightened up.

“Symptoms?” asked the Kid, “what kind of symptoms are we talkin’ about, Doc?”

“He might have blurry vision, speech problems, trouble with his coordination, that kind of thing.  He could be irritable.  He might seem different,” answered the Doctor.

“Different?  How do you mean?” 

Not answering, the doctor went on, “He needs complete bed rest for at least a week or so.  Keep the room dark and quiet.  He may not feel hungry but see if you can get him to eat a little.  He may vomit some more when he does eat.”  He began packing up his bag as though to leave.

“Keep him quiet and make him eat, huh?  Doc, you have no idea what you’re asking for,” snorted the Kid.

“Mr. Jones, this is not humorous.  You must keep your friend quiet or his brain could swell,” said the doctor sternly.

Alarmed, the Kid asked, “What happens if his brain swells?”

“He’ll most likely die,” said the doctor snatching up his bag and leaving a shocked Kid Curry behind.

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes woke the next morning while the Kid was eating breakfast.  Looking over at his partner, he’d seen the brown eyes open but had stayed quiet until he turned and looked at him.

“Hey, where are we?”

“Dolores.  You got thrown.  Do you remember?” 

 “The last thing I remember is riding hard out of Creede two steps in front of the posse.”

“Creede!  Heyes, that was two years ago.” 

“Hah, very funny.” 

“No.  I’m serious.  Creede was two years ago.  You stay right where you are.  I’m going for the doctor,”said the Kid, jumping up and heading for the door.

“Stop,” Heyes commanded, “Give me a second.  I just woke up.  Is it any wonder I’m confused?”

“Heyes…” 

“Let’s not draw attention to ourselves.  Last thing we need is folks remembering us if Hawkins comes looking.” 

“You remember Hawkins?” 

“Yeah, I guess I do.” 

“All right, that’s good.  You rest a bit more and then we’ll talk,” said the Kid firmly as he returned to sit beside the bed.

OOOOOOOOOO

The doctor had returned, at his insistence, to examine Heyes thoroughly.  He quickly ruled out a skull fracture, but warned the Kid again it was imperative Heyes stayed quiet.  By the second day, Curry was at his wit’s end.  He’d managed to keep the patient quiet easily enough the first day because he was feeling so poorly, but now Heyes was feeling better.   He’d been fussy all morning, insisting he was well enough to get up, so the Kid had let him try.  Heyes hadn’t lasted more than five seconds before he sank gratefully back into the bed.  He was dozing now.

Curry picked up his hat and slipped out the door.  For the first time this week, he felt comfortable enough to leave his partner and nose around town.  The saloon would be the best place to start.

Entering the cool building, he saw it was nearly empty.  The barkeeper was polishing the wooden bar top and a tired-looking barmaid was washing up the floor.  It was early for a beer, but he’d been deprived so he bellied up to the bar and ordered.  

He spent the afternoon wandering about town and chatting idly with whoever was willing to pass the time with him.  Dolores was a quiet little town sharing a sheriff with the next town over.   Luckily for the partners, the sheriff was not in residence this week.  Curry had learned he would be in by the weekend, but Heyes was improving quickly and they should be gone by then.  

He picked up a light meal from the café near the bank and returned to spend the evening in with Heyes.

The next morning, the Kid awoke to the bright sunlight forcing its way through the grimy window.  He rolled over onto his back and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.  Looking to his left, he saw his cousin was fast asleep with one arm dangling over the edge of the bed, snoring softly.  It reassured him to see Heyes resting peacefully.  Rising quietly from his bed, he walked to the dresser and examined his two-day old beard.  Deciding a shave could wait until after breakfast; he reached for his hat on the hook by the door and put it on then retrieved his gun belt from the bedpost and strapped it on tying down the holster. With a glance at his partner who was sawing logs, he pulled open the door and headed down to the dining room. 

In the lobby, he saw the clerk at the front desk waving him over.  “Mr. Jones, someone was looking for you earlier.” 

The Kid stiffened.  “Who?” 
 
“He didn’t leave his name and he didn’t ask for you or Mr. Smith by name, but he sure could describe you both.” 

“What’d you tell him?” 

“I told him I hadn’t seen anyone like he was describing,” said the clerk looking at Kid expectantly.

Tossing a five dollar coin on the counter, Kid headed for the stairs and said, “Thanks.  Fix up our bill, we’re checkin’ out.”

He couldn’t believe their luck.  How did this guy keep finding them?  They were being careful but it didn’t seem to do any good.  Opening the door to their room quietly, he found Heyes awake.

“What’s wrong?” asked Heyes, seeing the look on his partner’s face.

“It’s Hawkins.  He’s here.” 

Heyes reached for his gun belt lying on the chair next to him and stood up slowly, wobbling slightly.  “I’m ready.  You go get the horses.  I’ll pack and meet you outside.  Take the back stairs,” he said.

Nodding, the Kid left.

OOOOOOOOOO

It was late in the day when they neared the rocky country before the Southern Utah desert’s edge.  Heyes was swaying in the saddle in rhythm to his horse’s motion.  His head had dropped onto his chest and he seemed to be sleeping.  Leading Heyes’ horse, Curry kept one eye on the dozing rider and one on their back trail.  There had been no sign of Hawkins, but he now knew that meant nothing.  The man must be half apache.  He was worried.  The doctor had said Heyes had to rest.  Well, this wasn’t very restful.  So far, he’d seen no symptoms of anything unusual, but he watched his friend closely.  They had to somehow shake the bounty hunter and find a place to hole up until Heyes was better. Up ahead he saw a grouping of large boulders had tumbled down the hillside from the top of a mesa.  The stones had come to rest mid-way up the hill and seemed to form a natural enclosure.  He headed for them.  It would be a good place to camp for the night and offered him good view both up and down the trail.

OOOOOOOOOO

It had been a peaceful evening.  Heyes had barely been awake long enough to eat a small bit of stew and then he had fallen soundly asleep with the plate sitting across his lap.  The Kid had covered him with a light blanket and left him where he was propped up against his saddle.  No sense in disturbing him.

The sound of horse hooves clattering across the rocky ground brought the Kid instantly awake and to his feet.  He gently shook Heyes’ shoulder until his cousin looked up at him.  Holding one finger to his lips and nodding towards the trail, he hooked Heyes’ rifle out of its scabbard and placed it in his friend’s hand.  Heyes nodded back.  Creeping silently to the largest boulder and carefully edging around it, Curry was ready for trouble.  He looked back at his partner who had rolled over onto his stomach and was peering over the top of a fallen rock nearby.  

OOOOOOOOOO

"Hold it right there. Put your hands up, nice and easy-like," said the commanding voice from the rocks above the narrow trail.

Sighing, the dark-haired man raised his hands over his head slowly. "Mister, I don't know who you think I am, but...."

"I know who you are. You've been doggin’ me and my partner for days now. You're Jake Hawkins, bounty hunter."  Kid Curry held his gun steady on the rider below him. Rising, he stepped out from behind the cluster of red rocks. "Toss your gun over there and your rifle, too," he said, gesturing to Hawkin's left.

The man did as he was told using two fingers on his left hand. He knew Curry could shoot the wings off a fly at thirty yards and there was no way he'd provoke him now. 

Curry slid noisily down the slope scattering loose shale as he descended.  He walked carefully up to the mounted rider and removed his lariat all the while keeping his gun trained on him.

"Where's your partner?" asked Hawkins looking about. He saw a rifle barrel trained on him above and to the left of where Curry had hidden.

"I'm up here covering you," yelled Heyes.

The Kid reached up and dragged him from the saddle.  After tying him up securely, he hauled him roughly up the slope to where his partner waited. As they approached, Hawkins could see something was ailing Heyes. He was ashen and his hands on the rifle looked none too steady. Curry shoved him down hard and he dropped to the ground sitting a few feet from where Heyes sat propped against a boulder with his legs stretched out. Looking each other over like two stray dogs, Heyes finally spoke, "You're a persistent cuss, ain't you? I thought we'd lost you out of Dolores."

"Not everyday a man has a chance to make twenty thousand dollars. You look sick, Heyes, are you dying?" said Hawkins smugly while he eyed the frowning Kid Curry carefully.

Heyes snorted and with a smile underscoring hard, dark eyes, said, "Hoping I'll make your job easier? How's your lovely sister, Lindy? I have unfinished business with her."

Hawkin’s eyes narrowed as he angrily regarded the sick man. "I'll kill you, if you..."

"I know you'll try," said Heyes waving his arm dismissively. Even this small gesture took its toll on him and his face whitened further. Closing his eyes, he said, "What are we gonna do with him, Kid? He's not going to stop. This guy won’t give up."

"Yep, he's got to be crazy to trail us like that with no backup," said the Kid.

Heyes laughed briefly. He said, "Let's tie him to that tree over there. If you use some latigo, it ought to take him all day to work the leather loose. Leave him his canteen and we'll take his horse."

"Good idea, that oughta slow him down a bit," said the Kid, roughly pulling Hawkins up and leading him to the large pine tree a few yards away.

Sighing, Heyes unsteadily levered himself up off the ground. He reached up and pulled his hat down tight to shade his eyes from the noon sun. Hawkins might be tireless, but he sure felt like he could sleep for a week. Moving slowly, Heyes wearily prepared to break camp.

OOOOOOOOOO

“Which way d’you want to head?  We could go east to Durango or north to Grand Junction,” suggested Curry.  He looked at Heyes who was gray-faced and obviously in pain.  They needed to find a safe place fast.  He didn’t look like he could go on much longer, but the Kid knew his partner would never say so.

“West.  We go west.”

“West!  There ain’t nothin’ west of here but the desert.  Are you crazy?” 

“You’re wrong, Kid.  Robber’s Roost is west of here.  We’d be welcomed there.  No one knows we’ve gone straight yet.”

“It’s a hard ride over some of the worst land known to man.  You’re in no condition to try it.”  Reining up, he looked at Heyes whose face was drawn and his eyes narrowed.  The sun was obviously painful to him.

 “We have no choice, Kid.  Hawkins’ll be loose soon and he knows I’m hurt.  He’ll figure we’ll head to the nearest town.  He could easily walk back into Dolores and wire ahead to the sheriffs.  We’ve got to do the unexpected and he won’t be expecting us to head west.”  His head throbbed with his pulse and his vision had been bothering him since yesterday; everything looked blurry to him.   Without waiting for an argument, he spurred his horse into a lope.

OOOOOOOOOO

“Heyes?” The two partners were sitting quietly in a thick grove of Pinyon and Juniper trees watching the last rays of the sun settle on the western horizon.  The sky was turning dark; the last of the colorful sunset leaching to shades of gray.  Their horses were concealed in another cluster of the stumpy, scraggly trees.  They had eaten a cold dinner and made do with wrapping themselves in their saddle blankets for warmth against the chill of a desert night.  There would be no campfires for the foreseeable future.  They couldn’t take the chance in this open country of having the light from a fire spotted.  The bounty hunter was not likely to seek them in this direction, but he might and they had to take every precaution.

“Hmmm?” answered Heyes.  The Kid had been right, he really was in no condition to ride this arid land, but they had to.  This was only the third day and already he was exhausted.  The exposure to the hot, drying wind during the day and the cold nights had left him drained of all energy and his head pounded miserably.  He couldn’t let on to his cousin how bad he really felt or he’d be in for an argument he knew he wouldn’t win.  They’d left Hawkins two days ago.  No telling where he was now.  The stress was wearing him down quickly and he’d give anything for a warm bed and a hot meal.

“How d’you think Hawkins keeps findin’ us?” asked Kid.

Heyes looked over at him and smiled.  Leave it to his partner to read his thoughts.  “All I can figure is he’s working with Lindy.  We know he telegraphed her from that cow town.  My bet is he lets her know where he is and she telegraphs ahead to all the surrounding towns in any direction.  There ain’t many towns on the Western Slope.  Someone has to be keeping an eye out for us and letting him know where we are.  There’s no other way for him to keep showing up.   ‘Less, of course, he really is half Apache.”

“Huh,” said the Kid, “Kind of like Lom does when he’s trying to find us.   But why would they let the sheriffs know?  Hawkins and Lindy don’t seem like they’d be interested in sharin’ the reward money.”

“Don’t have to wire the sheriff.  They could be wiring the telegraph operator; or a bartender.  It just needs to be someone likely to notice strangers in town.  They don’t have to offer much either,” said Heyes.

“How do you figure?” asked the Kid.

“Well, if I were them I’d make up a story.  Something like Lindy’s no good husband took off with all her hard earned money and left her poor and hungry with six kids and no mortgage money.  Now he’s whooping it up with his pal and playing poker every night while his poor kids starve.  Her brother is paying good money to bring her low-life spouse back.  Something like that,” said Heyes as he winced from the pain in his head.

“You’re spooky how easily you make that shit up, you know that?  You ever think amnesty would be this hard?  I mean, I guess I knew it’d be tough tryin’ to make an honest living and be wanted, but I never dreamed our luck would go so far south.  Did you?”

 “I don’t know it’s gone all that south.  I mean we’ve got the chance for amnesty, that’s more hope than we’ve had in a long time.  Sure, we’ve been in some tight spots, but we’ve made it out of each of ‘em.  We’ll make it out of this one, too.  What’s got you talking this way?”

“Maybe I just see how much things have changed and I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off going back to robbin’.  I had fun.  You had fun; didn’t you?” 

“I did, but I’m not sure it was much fun near the end of our run.  We always say the safes were getting harder and the posse faster, but I think, for me, I felt like we were heading for a fall.  It was only a matter of time before things went wrong. You can’t be the best forever, and we were for a long time.”

“We were always real careful.”

“Yes, we were careful, but you can’t foresee everything.  You know that.  Sooner or later, we’d have been caught or worse.” 

“I guess.” 

“Kid, we’ve been all over this before.  Why are you bringing it up now?” 

“I don’t know.”  But he did know.  They wouldn’t be in this fix if they hadn’t gone for the amnesty.  Just like Heyes wouldn’t have been shot a few months ago.  He was worried about his cousin who was trying to hide how bad he felt, but he could tell.  This was the second time in a few months Heyes had been concussed.  He kept thinking about what the doctor had told him while Heyes had been out cold.  He needed rest and he wasn’t getting it.  Was his brain swelling?  Is that why he was feeling worse?  Heyes didn’t know what the doctor had told the Kid and he didn’t want him to.  If he did, he’d hide his pain so well Curry would never be able to tell what he was feeling.  It was better this way. He looked over at Heyes.  His eyes were closed now and the Kid could see he was sick.  Real sick.  He thought back to what Hawkins had said and wondered if Heyes really was dying.  The Kid wished with all his heart they’d never heard of amnesty.

“Heyes, do you really want to try for the Roost?  We don’t know who’s there now.  It could be Cap, but it could be somebody not quite as friendly.”

“Cap Brown ain’t exactly friendly.  He’s a horse thief and a cheat, but I think it’s our only choice.  I’m willing to try,” said Heyes, rolling over and pulling his blanket across his shoulders.  He looked at his partner.  He knew the Kid was worried about him; heck, he was worried too.  His headache was getting worse and his vision wasn’t improving.  It was blurry and even now, he could really only make out the shape of his partner.  Well, it had taken a few weeks before when he’d been shot to have his head stop hurting and no double vision.  It’d probably be a few weeks this time, too.  He could tough it out. He had no intention of being plucked to feather Lindy’s nest.  

“If you’re sure you want to.  Good night, Heyes,” said the Kid as he yawned and settled back into his bedroll.

“Night, Kid.”

OOOOOOOOOO

The next morning, Curry rose early to pack up the gear before waking Heyes.  Tying off the last latigo around his bedroll, he turned and walked over to the sleeping man.  Nudging his boots, he said, “Rise and shine, time to go.”  There was no response and his stomach turned over as he reached down and shook an exposed shoulder, “Heyes!”  Still nothing.  Flipping Heyes onto his back, and thoroughly panicked, he listened for a heartbeat.  It was there and it was steady.  What the hell?  He started patting Heyes’ face.  Finally, eyelids flickered open, but the eyes were unfocused.  “Wake up.  C’mon, wake up, dammit.” 

“Uhnn,” moaned Heyes, not completely conscious.

The Kid quickly fetched a canteen and returned to his partner.  He splashed some water onto Heyes’ face and his cousin sputtered.  “Stop. Stop.  What’re you doing?!” 

“Geez, you wouldn’t wake up.  You scared the hell out of me,” yelled Curry.  “That’s it!  We’re headin’ to Moab.  This ain’t right.  There’s somethin’ really wrong with you.”

“Yeah, my partner’s trying to drown me,” snapped Heyes as he sat up and wiped at his face.  He rose carefully to his feet but he was dizzy.  Seeing the terrified look on his friend’s face, he softened his tone, “I’m up, see, and I’m all right.”

“Heyes….,” began Kid.

“Really, I’m fine.  Let’s get going.  We’re less than a day or so from the Roost, and I want to get a move on.  It’s going to get hot soon.”  He brushed past the Kid and went to his horse and mounted easily enough.  “Are you coming?” 

“Damn stubborn jackass…..” mumbled the Kid.

“I heard that.”

OOOOOOOOOO

The day warmed quickly and by noon the sun was brutally beating down on them.  They’d passed out of the high desert Pinyon/Juniper country and were now riding through a canyon area populated by jack rabbits and sagebrush.   There was no cover anywhere and the horses were feeling it and refused to move much faster than a slow crawl.  The riders were tired, too.  Once again, Heyes’ head was down on his chest.  He was doing all right, though, and hadn’t complained.  .  He’s tough, thought Kid.  Riding on, an hour or so later, Curry heard a thud and whipped his head around.  Heyes lay sprawled out in the sand face up.  “Shit!” He jumped off his horse and ran back to the inert form, sliding to a stop on his knees.  Heyes was out cold again.  This was not good. 

He looked about wildly for some sort of shade.  They’d ridden into the mouth of a large arroyo.  The sides had gradually steepened and now towered over them.  There wasn’t any shade this time of day with the sun directly overhead.  Further ahead, he could see the canyon forked and there might be some shade.  With effort, he hauled Heyes up and across his shoulders.  Grabbing the reins to the riderless horse, Kid stepped on them to hold the gelding in place.  The animal was not cooperative and kept swinging his hind end away.  “Whoa,” yelled Kid; but it only made things worse.  Finally, he lost his temper and turned the horse loose.  Walking to his own gelding standing quietly, he shouldered Heyes across the saddle and tied him on securely.  He led his horse over to the other gelding and snatched the reins roughly causing Heyes’ horse to step back.  “Dogmeat, you’re dogmeat,” he grumbled, leading the two horses further into the canyon.

In a few minutes, he reached the fork.  There was no shelter from the sun.  Sighing, he took the right fork and plodded on leading the two horses while keeping a hand on his partner’s leg.  He walked for another hour as the canyon snaked and turned growing ever more closed in until he could see the end looming ahead.  He’d walked himself into a dead end.  Good thing Heyes was out or he’d never hear the end of this one.  What could he do now?  Disgusted, he stopped and looked up the rocky walls on either side hoping for a trail out.  What he saw shocked him.  There on a ledge about thirty feet off the canyon floor was a stone house!  The roof was gone, but it looked to be two, maybe three stories tall.  He couldn’t believe it until he saw another one further along the same side. That one was completely ruined but had obviously been built by men; men from a very long time ago.  Swinging in a circle, he counted several more buildings all reduced to not much more than rubble, but the first building had shade.  He could see it inside the T-shaped doorway facing out to the canyon.  The Kid looked harder and saw the overgrown outline of a game trail leading towards the house.  He whooped and slapped his partner’s legs.  Grabbing Heyes’ horse, he climbed on and urged the horses up the trail; small rocks clattering down the hillside as they climbed.

The building seemed taller as the Kid approached and he could see it was easily three stories tall and built of finely fitted stones.  It was a nearly perfect square.  There was only the one door but up higher in the second and third stories there were small windows.  It was a fortress-like tower and easily defendable.  Looking closely at the rock work, he saw there were small stones fitted between the layers of larger stones.  Almost like the chinking in a log house.  The craftsmanship was amazing and he marveled someone could build something so beautiful in such a god-forsaken place.  

There were some bushes and brush that had grown in the shadows cast by the building.  Curry dismounted and led the horses to the shrubs, tying them both off on the sturdiest branches and untying Heyes from his horse.  Gently easing him off the saddle, he lifted him onto his shoulder again and carried him into the shelter of the building.  It was cooler and darker inside and it was surprisingly roomy.  Setting Heyes down against the back wall, he went out to unsaddle the horses and bring in the gear.  They’d camp here tonight and he’d see how Heyes was in the morning.

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes was awake and sitting with his back against the stone wall staring at the Kid as he rolled over opening his eyes.  With a smile, Curry said, “How are you feelin’?”

Heyes continued to stare back unspeaking.  “Are you okay?  C’mon.  You’re not bein’ funny,” said the Kid.

“I’m not trying to be funny,” said Heyes.  
 
The Kid bolted upright when he saw the gun drawn and pointed at his chest.  “Heyes, what’re you doin’?!!” 

“I’m sitting here waiting for you to wake up and tell me how I got here,” said Heyes coldly.

Curry kept a close eye on Heyes’ shaky gun hand as he said, “Heyes, you passed out.  I had to toss you over the saddle and lead the horses here.  You have a concussion and you’ve been sick for days.  Don’t you remember anything?”

Blinking now, confusion spread across Heyes’ face, “Yeah, I do.  Kid…”  He looked down at the gun in his hand and dropped it as though it were hot metal.  “Why was I holding a gun on you?!!” he yelled. Heyes sprang to his feet, swaying alarmingly.

“I don’t know, Heyes.  Why were you holding a gun on me?”  The Kid snatched the gun off the floor and tucked it into his own gun belt.  “I’ll hang onto this for you, all right?”

Heyes looked stunned as the Kid reached out and placed his hand on his shoulder.  “It’s fine.  You’re fine.  Just take it easy,” he said gently.  

Heyes stared at him, “I pulled a gun on you!”  Heyes looked like hell.  His eyes were bloodshot, his hands were shaking and he had a nervous tic in the corner of his mouth.

“What’s wrong with me?” whispered the injured man.

“You have a concussion and I think it might be more.  It could be your brain might be swellin’,” said Kid carefully.

“What…what are you talking about?” said Heyes, his voice ratcheting higher.

“Take it easy.  The doc said this could happen.  I didn’t want to tell you.” 

“Why not?  Don’t you think I oughta know I might pull a gun on you?!” said Heyes sarcastically.

“I didn’t want you hidin’ the symptoms, that’s all.  I didn’t want you pretendin’everything was fine,” said Kid.

“Oh, it’s not fine.  It is so very not fine,” said Heyes shakily.

“You set back down and rest.  We’re gonna stay here ‘til you feel better.”  The Kid gently pressed Heyes back down into a sitting position onto his bedroll.  Heyes look deflated.  He didn’t protest at all and simply sat back; exhausted.

“How’re we gonna do that?  What about water, food?” asked Heyes, looking up at his cousin.

“Well, as long as you don’t mind eatin’ jack rabbit, we won’t starve.  There are cottonwoods at the head of the canyon so there might be a spring nearby.  I’ll go check if you promise to lay low.”  He adjusted Heyes’ gun in his belt and picked up his hat before turning towards the door.  “Just you rest, Heyes.  That’s all you need to do.” He slipped out the small doorway.

Heyes couldn’t believe what he’d done.  He’d wanted to shoot the Kid and had been ready to.  He couldn’t ever say that out loud; it was too hard for him to believe.    He was dangerous to the person most important to him.  Feeling the panic building in him, he closed his eyes against the pain from the slight light filtering in through the small doorway.  Brain swelling.  He’d read about it somewhere.  It could cause a man to go crazy.  Maybe it was happening to him.  He was slowly going crazy and he was going to hurt the Kid.  His panic fueled his blood pressure and as it built, Heyes’ thoughts spun swiftly out of control.  He had to get out of here.  Go off on his own.  That’s what he’d do.  He’d leave the first chance he got.  He had to get free.  He was a prisoner.  He had to get free.  Exhausted, he let the broken thoughts chase around his mind until he drifted off into an uneasy doze.

He awoke a few hours later to the sound of gunshots.  Startled, he scrambled up reaching wildly for the gun that was no longer by his side.  For a few long moments, he stood listening.  Heart and head pounding in rhythm, he ran out the T-shaped doorway.   The light stopped him in his tracks and pain sliced through his head and dropped him to his knees.  

The Kid was starting up the trail with a brace of dead jack rabbits in hand carrying both canteens strung across his shoulder and a pleased grin on his face.  As he neared the stone house, he saw Heyes kneeling, bent over with his head in his hands.  Dropping the game, he ran towards his partner. 

Heyes lifted his head as he stopped in front of him and, roaring, drove upwards into the Kid’s chest.  Grunting, the Kid stumbled backwards and he was on him in an instant.  Dazed, Curry failed to raise his fists to fend off the crazy attack.   Heyes, both hands gripped tightly together, swung his arms in an arc and struck him soundly; knocking him out.   He collapsed and lay still.

Heyes grabbed his gun from the Kid’s belt, took a canteen, and ran to the horses.  He was breathing hard, the pain in his head was unbearable and it was driving him mad.  Grappling with the reins, he tore off branches in his haste to free the animals. He had to hurry; he had to get away.  He’d been imprisoned but he was free now. He swung up onto his horse and, hanging onto both sets of reins, galloped wildly down the narrow trail leading the other horse behind him.

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


Last edited by InsideOutlaw on Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:04 pm

This was always one of my favorite stories you've written.

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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:08 pm

LINDY


Chapter Two


Heyes’ wild ride down the rocky hillside terrorized the two horses.  It was difficult for them to find traction on the shifting shale and they scrambled to stay upright, their horseshoes sparking and clattering against the sharp stones.  He drove his mount on relentlessly, blinded by his desperation to get away.  Reaching the canyon floor, the animals picked up speed in the soft sand and flew down valley.
 

OOOOOOOOOO
 

The Kid awoke to the sun burning his face.  Moaning, he rolled over onto his knees and rocked back into a semi-upright position.  It took him a minute to remember his partner’s attack and, when he did, he jumped to his feet and wildly looked around.   The horses were gone.  He saw a canteen nearby and snatched it up.  Running back into the stone house, he quickly gathered up their meager belongings.  He had to catch up with Heyes fast and he was going to have to do it on foot.  He hurried down the footpath, past the half-trampled brace of rabbits, and onto the valley floor.  Picking up a slow but sustainable dogtrot, he followed the tracks leading down valley. 

 
OOOOOOOOOO


The horses pounded on but they were tiring fast.  It had been too many days in the hot sun with too little feed. The Kid’s horse slowed first without a rider to spur him on.  He began to pull heavily against the reins Heyes held.  Yanking and cussing, the agitated man tried to draw him on until finally he dropped the reins and allowed the animal to drop to a walk.  His own horse slowed, but Heyes spurred him roughly and slapped him with the reins.  Unused to such rough treatment from his rider, it frightened him.  Despite the beast’s exhaustion, he plunged ahead fearfully, leaving his friend behind.  

 
OOOOOOOOOO


Curry had slowed his pace to a walk a while ago and now determinedly plodded along.  The sun had climbed directly overhead and it was taxing his strength.  He had found a few small spots of shade in this branch of the canyon and had stopped frequently to rest and cool his overheated system.  Despite conserving his water as best he could, it was nearly gone and he knew he had a long walk ahead of him.  Rounding another twist in the arroyo, he spotted an island of cottonwoods.  He quickened his pace hoping to find the underground spring the trees would require for survival.  Upon reaching the shady shelter, he closed his eyes in relief.  A horse snorted nearby and his eyes shot open to see his gelding looking back at him across an expanse of low shrubs.  He spoke softly as he crept forward, “Hey, boy.  It’s real good to see you.  Easy now.”  His horse was equally glad to see him and strode eagerly towards him.  He picked up the reins and patted the animal, noting the dried sweat on his body. He looked around in vain for Heyes.  “Easy, son.  Let’s get you some water.”  The Kid led his horse to a tree and tied him off.  Turning away, he saw a dried streambed snaking through the cottonwoods.  It was common in the desert for the rains to create channels for the runoff.  These, however, had dried quickly after the rains ceased and had all but disappeared leaving only the carved sand behind.  Knowing all he had to do was dig deep enough at the roots of the cottonwoods and there would be water, he dropped to his knees and using his hands, began to dig.

 
OOOOOOOOOO
 

Heyes’ strength gave out before his horse did.  He could no longer urge the animal on.  He gripped the saddle horn, instinctively hanging on.  The horse had all but stopped and staggered along with his head down, lathered in sweat and blowing hard.  When his rider lost consciousness and pitched forward onto his neck, he stopped to begin nibbling at what little foliage he could find.


OOOOOOOOOO
 

Refreshed by the cool water, the Kid’s horse perked up considerably as he filled his canteen with the water he found and ate a small portion of jerky he’d found in Heyes’ bags.  Both horse and rider were much improved.  He mounted and picked up a slow but steady pace, once again trailing his partner.  He could tell by the tracks Heyes was slowing down and he would catch up with him soon.  It was hard to believe the man had the strength left to flee and Curry hoped he’d find him before it was too late.  
 

After only a few more bends in the canyon, he spotted Heyes still mounted but listing off to one side of his horse, obviously out cold again.  The animal nickered a greeting and walked up to the Kid with his rider bouncing dangerously low across his neck.  Quickly dismounting, Curry grabbed the dangling reins with one hand and reached up to steady Heyes with the other.  He looked terrible; wet with sweat and trembling but the Kid knew they couldn’t stay here, it was too exposed.  It was better for him to keep Heyes on his horse and continue on until they found some sort of shelter.  He pushed the unconscious man back into the saddle until he was centered.  Using the latigo straps by the pommel, he tied his partner’s arms securely on either side of the horn and did the same with the back straps, binding his legs in the same manner.  That ought to keep him in the saddle, thought Curry, and it ought to keep him from swinging at me again.


OOOOOOOOOO


It had taken the rest of the day and part of the next to reach the mouth of the Dirty Devil River.  At the slow speed they were moving, the Kid knew they wouldn’t make the Roost until late that night.  Heyes was still passing in and out of consciousness and had not really been coherent at all.  He’d kept him tied up, even last night, just in case he tried to make a run for it again in his confused state.  Periodically, his cousin would awaken and struggle against his bonds cussing heartily; but mostly he talked in nonsensical sentences and stared vacantly at the ground.  It was painful to see him this way and the Kid was afraid of permanent damage to Heyes’ brilliant mind but he pushed the thought aside without lingering on it.  There was nothing he could do but press on.  He had to get Heyes to shelter and a place to rest.  

 
It had been years since they’d had ridden this way.  The gang had once pulled a profitable job in Price, Utah, and had fled south with a posse hot on their heels.  Heyes had known the location of the Roost having holed up there before with the Plummer gang after a robbery had gone bad.  He’d led his gang through the twisting trail following the banks of the river.  


Cap Brown had been at the Roost when the Devil’s Hole boys arrived.  He’d used it for years as a hideout to run stolen horses.  Other outlaws would drift in and out from time to time.  Cap would delight in roping them into all-night, whiskey-fueled poker games which often ended in violence since he was a terrible cheat.  There were quite a few graves behind the rough cabin that served as the saloon.  


Brown had welcomed the gang with open arms figuring some of the stolen money would be coming his way soon.  What he hadn’t counted on was the young upstart leader of the gang was well-versed at poker and could spot a cheat a mile away.  Heyes had caught onto Cap immediately and knowing most of the ways to cheat at poker had shut him down.  The result was the gang won a handsome set of remounts and made record time on their return to the Hole.  Brown had not been a gracious loser, but he knew when he was out-manned and out-gunned so he had given in without too much fuss.  Curry wondered if he was still there, and if not, who was.  

 
OOOOOOOOOO


Robbers Roost was Utah’s version of Devil’s Hole.  The law had tried and failed for years to penetrate the canyon.  The only access was a narrow slot canyon easily guarded.  The rest of the land surrounding it was simply too rough and open to pass through undetected.  Once through the narrows, the canyon widened out into a meadow area dotted with old cabins.  Cows and horses grazed placidly and chickens ran to and fro across the trail and under the Kid’s horse as they were escorted by two of the six guards who had spotted them on the way in.  


He’d learned Cap Brown was long gone from the Roost and, in his place, was a two-bit outlaw by the name of “Poke” Morgan.   Morgan led a small gang of misfits who had made a name for themselves robbing stagecoaches and highway travelers along the route west.  When questioned, the Kid had said they were Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones, horse thieves.  He desperately hoped they wouldn’t be turned away, but he hadn’t been willing to reveal who they really were; not with twenty thousand dollars on their heads.  He’d also gotten an earful on the way in.  The guards had told him Morgan was easy going, lazy really, and spent most of his time drunk between jobs leaving security up to his men.  This suited Curry just fine. 

 
Pulling up to a small cabin, the guards dismounted and nodded to the Kid to do the same.  With their help, he untied Heyes and slid him off the horse.  The three of them carried him inside.  It was dark and cool and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the lack of light.  He heard the click of a gun hammer ahead of him and stopped tensely.  Heyes was half draped across him and he couldn’t reach for his gun.  Just as well, he was already covered by the slovenly-looking man seated at the rough table.  

 
“Now, boys, just who do we have here?” asked the man. The Kid looked him over.  He was small and wiry with muscular arms.  Not quite the lazy man who had been described to him.  His hair was a dirty blond color as much from lack of hygiene as from genetics.  He had a broken nose and was missing several of his front teeth.  
 

“Poke, this here’s Thaddeus Jones and the other fella is Joshua Smith,” said the guard. 


Poke smirked, “Smith and Jones, huh?  Not too bright, are you?  What’s wrong with ‘im?”

 
“He’s got a head wound. We need a place to rest up.”  The Kid was struggling to hold up his partner’s dead weight.
 

“Why’d I want to help you?” 
 

“They’s outlaws!  Same as you and me,”interjected the stunned guard.  He couldn’t believe Poke was even considering turning away two fellow bandits.   The Roost had long been a haven for those beyond the law.  There was an unwritten code that all outlaws would be welcomed.  


Ignoring them all, the Kid hauled Heyes’ over to a bed in the corner and laid him down.  Gently, he lifted his legs onto the bed and covered him with a dirty blanket.  Straightening up, he turned back to Poke who was watching him closely. 


“I’d be much obliged if we could stay a while.  We’ve been on the road for days.” 
 

“So how come you been on the road?  Who’s chasing you?”
 

“A bounty hunter.” 


“Who?  I know a few,” said Poke blandly.


“Jake Hawkins.” 


“Hawkins, I heard of him.  He’s pretty good from what I’ve heard,” said Poke, thinking Hawkins wouldn’t bother with two penny-ante horse thieves.  He was a fairly big time bounty hunter.  Something was off here.
 

“Good enough.  So, what’s it going to be?”  Curry had seen the flicker of interest at Hawkins’ name and realized his mistake.
 

“Ah, hell, you can stay.  Use this cabin, I’ll sleep across the way,” offered Poke, rising but keeping his eyes on the blond-haired stranger.  There was something about him that seemed familiar, but he was having a hard time figuring it out what it was.
 

“Thanks,” said the Kid as he stared coldly at the three of them.  The other men quickly got the message and left him alone with his unconscious partner.  Looking down at Heyes, he examined him carefully for the first time in days.  He had kept focused on the task of finding shelter and hadn’t allowed himself to think too hard about his cousin’s injuries.  Heyes’ face was chalky white, gaunt, and beaded with sweat.  The bruise on his forehead had faded to a sickly yellow-brown color.  Curry felt his brow.  It was hot.  Never a heavy man, Heyes had lost weight since his accident.  Was it any wonder? They’d been chased out of one town or another without a break.  It was only Heyes’ stubborn decision to try for the Roost that had saved them from being caught; but at what cost?  


If Heyes died, it was all over for the Kid.  He’d been the one who’d first suggested trying for the amnesty.  Heyes had laughed at him when he said it; only warming to the idea after thinking it over.  Curry wondered why he’d ever thought they could do it.  He knew now the price was too high to pay and he’d never forgive himself if the quest for amnesty caused the death of his best friend.  If they got out of this mess, he was ready to give it up and go back to outlawing.


He spent the next two days cleaning.  He cleaned his gun, he cleaned their clothes, and he cleaned the cabin from top to bottom much to the amusement of the Morgan gang.  He fixed the roof and fetched fresh grasses for bedding the horses.  He was going crazy waiting for Heyes to show some sign, any sign, of awakening but Heyes lay deathly still.  He’d tried banging pans and yelling out his partner’s name all in a vain attempt to wake him.  By late the second evening, he was completely demoralized and simply sat in a broken rocker on the small porch staring at the canyon walls and rocking absently.  He knew there was a possibility Heyes might never wake up.  He’d already been out of it for the better part of a week.  The Kid didn’t want to think that way, but the longer his cousin was unconscious, the more often the thought would creep into his mind.

 
Poke put his head around the door from time to time to see how his guests were doing.  Tonight he’d brought by a bottle of whiskey and left it for the Kid feeling sorry for the young outlaw.  Once, he’d had a good partner of his own, and the future had seemed a bright and colorful place; but he’d been gunned down by a trigger-happy deputy over a stinking fifty dollar robbery.  That’s when Poke had taken to the bottle so he’d figured Jones might like that option, too.  “Besides, a condemned man ought to have a last drink or two,” Poke had told his men with a short laugh.  Jones didn’t know it, but Poke was friends with a crooked sheriff in Green River and had sent a rider out with a description of the two men.  He was sure they were wanted for more than just horse thieving.  He knew he’d seen Jones somewhere, but it just wouldn’t come to him.

 
The Kid fell asleep early that night relaxed by the whiskey.  In the very early hours of the next morning, he was awakened by a thumping noise next to him.  He reached over in the dark and felt Heyes’ arm moving jerkily about.   Jumping up, he quickly lit a lantern and holding it up to cast a weak light, he saw Heyes’ eyes were open, but he seemed unaware of his flailing about.  Curry set the lantern down on a small side table and grabbed his cousin’s arm.  Heyes struggled to free himself while the Kid talked soothingly to him.  Heyes’ face was a mask of pain.  His jaw was clenched and his head was whipping back and forth.  He gazed at nothing until he shuddered hard then looked into Curry’s eyes.  “Kid…,” he whispered, instantly relaxing.  Brushing the hair out of his friends eyes, the Kid smiled.  “Hey, it’s about time you woke up.”



“Wha…?”  Heyes shifted his weight on the bed looking about the shabby cabin.  Bringing his brown eyes back to his partner, he said, “Where are we?”


“We’re at the Roost.  We came in a few days ago.  Cap’s gone and there’s some small-time crook named Morgan running the place.  He seems okay.  He’s pretty much left us alone,” said the Kid reassuringly, not wanting to let on that he didn’t trust Poke.  Heyes didn’t need to worry, he needed to rest.  


“Does he know who we are?” 


“I told him we were Smith and Jones.”


“Did he buy it?” 


“I think he did.  Don’t worry about it.  I’ll keep an eye out.”


Heyes looked strained and his eyes were constantly shifting about.  The tic in the corner of his mouth was tugging at his cheek uncontrollably.  It was clear that he was still pretty bad off.  “How long have I been out?” He was still groggy and trying to clarify his thoughts as his partner tucked the covers tightly around him, trying to keep him warm and still.  


Finished, Curry eased back down onto the bed lying on top of the covers.  He doubted he could fall back to sleep.  “Better part of five days.  You had me worried.  How’s the head?  Does it still hurt?”
 

“Not too bad.  Five days?” Heyes closed his eyes again and mumbled, “How can I still be so tired?”  He slowly drifted off to sleep as his partner watched.


“You ain’t the only one, Heyes,” said the Kid softly.


OOOOOOOOOO


Progress was slow the first day.  Heyes was having trouble controlling his arm and leg movements and seemed short-tempered because of it.  The tic in the corner of his mouth was still there, just not as pronounced.  He wasn’t usually a man who cursed often, but it seemed like foul words were spilling easily from his mouth.  


Curry was patient and ignored the outbursts figuring his partner was frustrated, but as the day wore on he started to realize it was something more.  Heyes seemed odd somehow.  The Kid would catch him watching him speculatively from the bed as he moved about the cabin.  It was creepy.  Almost as though Heyes was sizing him up so he found himself keeping one eye on his partner at all times.  He hadn’t forgotten Heyes’ attack the other day or the doctor’s warning that his cousin might seem “different”.  Whatever it was, he’d be careful.  Not just for his sake, but for Heyes’, too.   He was determined to see his friend get the rest he needed and he was not about to let him hurt himself in any way.


By the next day, Heyes seemed more normal.  While he was still on a short fuse, he was controlling his temper better.  The spastic movements had quieted down, too.  The Kid had reminded him of what the doctor had said, and he’d been a fairly cooperative patient.  He got up about midday and the Kid helped him out to the rocker on the porch.  For the next couple of hours, the two partners sat quietly and watched the day pass.  Heyes dozed on and off while the Kid cleaned his gun and mended some of their tack.  That evening, he sat down at the dinner table and declared himself healed.  The Kid snorted and received an angry glare.  Holding his hands up in surrender, Curry laughed and apologized but Heyes had already risen from the table and went to lay down with his back to the room.  He quickly fell asleep.  


OOOOOOOOOO


Heyes was stronger and better each day.  He spent hours prowling around the walls of the Roost looking at the rock art left by former residents.  He was fascinated by these traces of ancient travelers and spent hours contemplating them.  There were drawings of hunting parties, deer and bighorn sheep.  He found drawings and etchings of stylized people, families, and tribes.   There were other stranger etchings pecked into the stone.  These were odd, devil-like creatures or shapes.  What he liked most were the multitudes of hand prints in all sizes and colors.  It was as though each tribesman, young and old, male or female, had left a mark for Heyes to find.  He wondered who they were and where they’d gone.


He also spent time poking into some of the smaller side canyons.  He still tired easily, but the throbbing in his head had lessened significantly.  He tinkered with the irrigation system which had been sadly neglected in the past few years and soon had it working smoothly.  The other outlaws tried to befriend him, but he wasn’t interested in making friends and they eventually left him alone.  He still found himself feeling spontaneously angry for no reason and it was difficult for him to be civil.  It worried him and made him withdrawn.  He knew the Kid saw it, but thankfully his partner was giving him the space he needed. 

 
Curry kept watch from a distance.  He knew Heyes was struggling with anger and he didn’t want to add to his stress.  He was careful to monitor his interactions with the other people in the valley and so far everything had been fine.  He’d step in quickly if that changed.   He took pains to keep Heyes calm and not irritate him.  It was like walking on eggshells, but the Kid was just grateful his friend was on the mend. 

 
Poke still stopped by, but he took care to avoid Smith.   The man was a strange one and made him uncomfortable when he stared at him with those cold, knowing eyes.   He’d be glad when the sheriff took these two off his hands.  He knew he’d have to pay for the service, but there was no way he’d try to take them in on his own.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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


Last edited by InsideOutlaw on Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Fri Dec 30, 2016 6:00 pm

Thanks so much for posting the chapters here. Being new to the game, I hadn't read this before. After finding chapter one here, I have to admit I went to find the rest last night and had to read it until I finished, to see how the boys fared.  Loved that you brought in Robber's Roost and Canyonlands. I had read about the Roost and Canyonlands is one of the parks I still need to visit in Utah, along with Bryce. I've visited Mesa Verde more than once so having the boys stop at the cliff dwellings was interesting too.
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:29 pm

Glad you enjoyed it, NE.  I live about 3 hours from that part of Utah and spend a few weeks most springs and falls exploring the area.  It's amazing country!

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“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:31 pm

LINDY


Chapter Three


Sheriff Marley Walker hoisted another beer to his good luck.  He’d downed quite a few and wasn’t feeling any pain.  The saloon was beginning to fill up around him.  The stage was late so some of the more masculine passengers had sought a cool place to wait for it.   This would have to be his last beer.  It was part of his dull job to greet the stage.  Well, he wouldn’t have to do it much longer.  Marley couldn’t believe how abruptly his life had improved and who would’ve believed Poke Morgan would be the instrument of change?  He and Poke went way back to their early days when Marley had been on the more profitable side of the law.  He’d been there when Poke’s partner had been killed, what a shame that was, and he’d ridden with Poke for a while after.   They did okay together until Poke lost his ambition and gained a drinking problem.  Not long after, Marley had met his wife.  Annie had been a pretty little thing in those days, all fresh-faced and round-cheeked.  Now it wasn’t only her cheeks that were round and the last thing fresh about her was her mouth.  She spent most of her time these days making his life a living hell.  Once, he’d been anxious to please her and had quit the outlawing life to settle down and start a family.  Well, their kids were grown and gone now, tired of their bickering parents.  They’d lit out as far from Green River as they could get.  Now he lived in the sheriff’s office most nights and the saloon most days and it suited both him and Annie just fine.

He’d been dozing at his desk when Clem Watkins had ridden in from the Roost saying Poke had sent him into town to put the finger on two outlaws who’d shown up a few days earlier.  They had an agreement Poke paid nicely for.  When needed, Marley would provide services to Poke.  Sometimes it was as simple as looking the other way when his men came to town but other services were more complicated.  A lawman was usually one of the first to know of any monetary opportunities to be had in his territory.  This information was worth some extra income and Marley worked hard for Poke so when his man came in asking questions, Marley listened carefully.  At first, when he heard the descriptions, he hadn’t thought much about it one way or another.  Young fellows, dark or light hair, in their late 20’s drifting about the west weren’t nothing uncommon and there wasn’t much detail there.  He sent Clem over to the bar to wet his whistle while he started looking through some wanted posters.  Then he remembered the telegram the operator had shown him last week about the poor little pregnant lady looking for her husband and his low-life partner.  There’d been promise of a reward there.  

Marley had sent back a telegram to Gunnison, saying he’d seen the stray husband and he’d gotten word of a sizable reward, if it all panned out, to be wired back.  But afterwards, he’d begun thinking on it.  The reward was a bit too sizable for the circumstances.  It was an awful lot of trouble to go through to drag back a man who didn’t want to stay around in the first place.  Why would any woman, especially one left in the family way, put so much money out on a skunk who’d leave her again first chance he got?  Marley wired the Gunnison sheriff and asked if he’d seen two strangers matching the description of Poke’s outlaws.   The reply he received stunned him.  Seems there was a rumor going around Heyes and Curry had been through Gunnison recently and, sure enough, they matched the descriptions pretty well.  The other sheriff cautioned him to be careful.  Oh, he’d be careful all right; he’d be damnedcareful with twenty grand at stake.   

OOOOOOOOOO 

Jake Hawkins waited impatiently for the stage to arrive in Green River, Utah.  It was already late and he was getting impatient.  His sister, Lindy, had insisted on meeting him here and he was irritated at having to wait for her.  He knew she didn’t trust him, but he didn’t trust her either but after numerous telegrams to every one-horse town on this side of the Rockies, Lindy had finally hit pay dirt.  She’d received a telegram from Green River describing her “husband”.  Lindy had sent Jake a telegram in Dolores, Colorado, about the big news but he’d already left town hot on the trail of the two outlaws.  He would’ve missed it all together if the two hadn’t tied him to a tree and taken his horse.  The long walk back to Dolores had pissed him off, though, and they would pay for his humiliation when he caught up to them.   When he left Dolores a second time, he’d travelled to Green River as quickly as possible.  He’d expected them to head to a major city not a backwater town like this one.   Heyes was injured and Hawkins knew it was serious. He had figured Curry would be anxious to get to a doctor. Maybe Heyes was already dead.  If so, he’d force Curry lead him to the body.  

OOOOOOOOOO

The stage rolled into town almost three hours late.  He was at the door before the horses came to a halt  and yanked it open, looking up to see only his sister, Lindy, gathering her reticule and preparing to step down.  She reached out for his hand, but he didn’t offer it. 

“Hurry up, will you?  I’ve been waiting for the damn stage for hours!” said Hawkins impatiently.

“What a fine greeting, dear brother; I’m delighted to see you, too,” purred Lindy stepping down without 
his assistance.  She was dressed for travelling and actually gave the appearance of a decent woman.  Jake was surprised.  She usually favored bright colors and low cut gowns.  Maybe she was practicing for when she had some money to back up those uppity fake manners of hers.

The driver tossed down her bag and it landed in a puff of dust at Jake’s feet.  He grabbed it and his sister’s elbow hauling both towards the hotel.  “I haven’t seen any sign of them yet.  I’ve been all over this town and they ain’t here,” he said peevishly.

“Well, maybe they’ve already moved on.”  Lindy wrenched her arm from her brother’s hard grasp and stepped onto the boardwalk to enter the hotel.   The lobby was hot and cluttered.  The oversized Victorian furniture looked to be shoehorned into the small, stuffy room and the front desk looked abandoned.  “They couldn’t be moving too fast if Joshua is hurt,” she said.  The thought of him brought a ghost of a smile to the corner of her soft lips.  What a shame he was worth so much.

“No.  They haven’t been here and no one’s seen them.  I found out it was the sheriff who’d sent that message to Gunnison.  I’m trying to figure out how to find out what he knows without letting on to him who I’m looking for,” said Jake.


Lindy gave a happy little laugh.  “Jake, you’ve got to be the kidding me.  What do you think I’m here for?”

For the first time since her arrival, Jake smiled, and rang the bell for the desk clerk.

OOOOOOOOOO

That night, Lindy made a special effort to dress seductively and, on the arm of her brother, went in search of the sheriff.  The desk clerk had told them the sheriff was in the habit of dining at the café three doors down.  The two siblings made a handsome couple and when they swept into the small restaurant the patrons took notice including Marley who was sitting at his regular table having his regular steak.  He’d never seen a woman so luscious, yet elegant.  He could tell she was no innocent girl.  This was a woman of the world.  Too bad, she’d already found her man or he’d show her what was what.

Lindy and Jake sat down at a table next to his and once they’d received their menus, began to squabble with each other.

“My dear brother, you really are a bore.  You would think you would be grateful to squire your loving sister on a stroll about town!  Poker really isn’t a gentleman’s game, you know.”

“It’s game enough for me.  You’ll be fine in the room.  You can needlepoint or something,” said Jake shortly.  His sister really was much better at this play-acting stuff.  She’d spent most of their childhood pretending she wasn’t the daughter of a poor dirt farmer.

“I am so disappointed in you.”  She pouted prettily and glanced toward the sheriff with lowered lashes.  He wasn’t a bad-looking man in a sort of bloated, coarse way.  He had his hair, though it was gray, and all his teeth were still in his head. He was tall and clean and it was enough for her.

Overhearing her plight and, realizing the man with her was her brother, Marley patted his mouth with his napkin.  Standing up, he crossed to their table.  “Sir, ma’am, I’m Sheriff Walker and I’d like to welcome you both to our little town,” he said with a small bow.

Looking up, Lindy fluttered her eyelashes at him.  “Enchanted, Sheriff.”  Surreptitiously, she kicked her brother under the table.   

Reminded of his role, Jake jumped up and held out his hand.  “Er.  Fine town you have here, Sheriff.”

“Ma’am, I couldn’t help overhearing you’d like to see our burg.  It would be my honor if you’d allow me to escort you about this evening.”

“Why, Sheriff, that would be just lovely,” simpered Lindy.  “Won’t you please join us for dinner, so we might get better acquainted?”

“Ma’am,” said Marley grabbing his plate off the other table and hastily pulling out a chair.

OOOOOOOOOO

It turned out Lindy and Jake didn’t learn much that night.  Marley was no fool and knew better than to shoot his mouth off.  They did learn, however, the sheriff expected to be out of town for the next week or so.  This was enough.

Jake went down to the livery early the next morning and bought two horses and all the gear they’d need.  She kept an eye on the sheriff’s office from the window of her room.  The sheriff had made it plain to her he no longer slept at home.  Lucky wife, thought Lindy.

About nine in the morning, the door to the sheriff’s office opened and a disheveled Marley appear.  He scratched himself once or twice and wiped a hand across his eyes before stepping off the sidewalk and crossing to the saloon.  He reappeared about twenty minutes later with four men in tow including Clem; all were looking a bit worse for the wear.  Jake and Lindy hastily gathered their things and made for the livery.  They would trail the posse, but not too close.  It wouldn’t be hard to pick up their trail.

OOOOOOOOOO

Normally, Kid Curry had no problem reading his partner, but things hadn’t been normal for a while.  Once Heyes was on his feet, he’d had seen very little of him.  Heyes was avoiding him and, when he had to be in his company, he was quiet.  Eerily quiet.  Curry went out of his way to try to draw him out, but Heyes kept his thoughts locked up tight.  It was like he’d woken up somebody else.  The Kid kept thinking each day it would be better, but it wasn’t.  There was a wall around Heyes keeping him out.  It was like he’d been judged those first couple of days and found wanting.  He’d tried to make excuses for his behavior, but he was hurt and he was starting to get annoyed.  This morning, he came around the corner of the cabin after using the outhouse and saw Heyes sitting on the porch scribbling on a piece of paper.  

“What’re you workin’ on?” he asked.  Heyes was startled and fumbled badly in his haste to conceal the note.  

“Dammit, are you trying to scare me to death?!” snapped Heyes, tucking the crumpled paper into his pocket while waving his other hand to distract the Kid who knew what he was doing and let him know it.

“What’re you up to?  And don’t say nothin’ I know that look.”

“Can’t a man get any privacy around here?”  Heyes avoided the Kid’s eyes and stood up looking out across the meadow. 

“I said what’re you up to?” 

“It’s none of your damned business!”  Heyes stepped off the other end of the porch and angrily walked away.  By dusk he’d moved out his belongings.  

Curry was out practicing his fast draw far from the sight of the other outlaws and didn’t return until nearly dark.  He wouldn’t say it, even to himself, but he was starting to avoid Heyes.  It was just too hard to be around him and be treated that way.  He walked into the cabin and immediately saw Heyes was gone.   Stepping outside, he looked up and down the dirt path serving as a street and saw a glow from a cabin three doors down that not been lit before.  Pissed, he strode to the other shack and threw the door open.   Heyes was stretched out on his bedroll on the floor with a book in hand, reading by the light of a large candle.  The book he’d been reading when he’d been thrown.  He looked up insolently at his partner.  “Nice of you to knock.”

“That’s it!” yelled the Kid.  “I’ve had it.  You’re gonna tell me what the hell is goin’ on or I ain’t leavin’!”

“There’s nothing going on.  I just want to be alone,” said Heyes bluntly, returning his attention to his book and dismissing him.

Crossing the few short steps to Heyes, Curry snatched the book out of his hands and threw it across the empty room.   “I’ve had it, Heyes.  I really have.  You’re gonna talk to me whether you want to or not!” 

“Yeah?  How’re going to make me do that?  You won’t hit me, I’m still healing.  You plan on yakking me to death?” said Heyes.  “Why don’t you yell a little louder?  I don’t think everyone’s heard who we are yet.”

Furious, the Kid turned and walked out slamming the door behind him.

OOOOOOOOOO

He’d noticed Heyes was beginning to spend a lot of time with the other outlaws.  When he first woke up, he had avoided them but now it seemed to the Kid he would often find Heyes in deep conversations with one or another of Poke’s gang.  He knew he was up to something and he knew how to find out what it was.  

Deke Chesney was a friendly sort but none too bright.  He’d been one of the guards the day the Kid and Heyes rode in and had made an effort to be friendly and make them both feel welcomed.  Curry cornered Deke down by the river that afternoon.  He’d seen him go by with an armful of dirty clothes and had followed him.

“Thaddeus, how’s it going?” said Deke, seeing him walking up the trail towards him.  He bent over and began to sort through his laundry.

“Real good.  Say, have you seen Smith lately?”  The Kid stopped and casually leaned against the tree behind him.  

“Yeah, I saw him a couple of hours ago talking to Wade.”  Deke started dunking his shirt in the cold water.  He pulled it out and began soaping it up with the bar he’d brought with him.

“Is he bendin’ you boys’ ears with all those tall tales he likes to tell?”  He watched the man dip his soapy shirt into the river.  

Deke was distracted for a moment as the current pulled at the garment and scoured the soapy residue from it.  “Tales?  No sir.  You’re partner’s a real smart man.  He’s got good ideas.” 

“Like what?” 

“I probably shouldn’t say if’n he hasn’t told you.”  Uncertain, Deke paused his chore and looked at the Kid as if he wasn’t sure where this was going.

“He tells me everything.  I just ain’t sure which idea you’re talking about.” 

“Oh.  The one about robbing the First National Bank of Moab next week.  Says he knows how to blow a safe.  Does he?” 

“Sure.  He’s blown a few.  So are you boys thinking about riding with Smith and me?  What about Poke?”

“We’re tired of robbing stages.  It don’t pay.  Poke don’t think big enough, not like Smith.” 

“Well, glad you’re thinking of joining us.  We’d be right pleased to ride with you,” said the Kid, holding out his hand.

Deke shook it firmly and nodded before returning to his wash.  Curry went in search of his cousin.  He had a thing or two to tell him.

OOOOOOOOOO


So Heyes was planning a job.  He should’ve read the signs, but it’d been a long time and, in those days, he was usually the first person to know.  The Kid wondered just how much the injury had changed Heyes.  Had he decided to go back to robbing?  Why was he cutting the Kid out?  Whatever the reason, it meant he still wasn’t thinking right.  There was no way he’d let Heyes ride out on a job without him.  Not the way he was acting.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:20 pm

LINDY


Chapter Four

What the Kid didn’t know was Heyes did know what he was doing.  He was distancing him as much as he could; trying to anger him and drive him away.  Heyes knew there was something terribly wrong with him, but he didn’t know what.  While he was able to physically control the outwards signs such as the twitching and jerky spasms, he couldn’t control his mind.  Feelings of extreme anger would wash over him and he would literally go blind with rage.  When it passed he would often find, in his fury, he had ripped at bushes or torn branches off of trees, broken whatever he had at hand.  So far, it had always started slowly.  He would feel the tenseness and then the rage building.  These were the times he took off exploring the canyon and disappeared for hours.  

Heyes was becoming afraid of himself.  He was scared he would do something crazy to the Kid.  He’d already pulled a gun on him and beat him unconscious.  What was next?  He didn’t want to be near him at all and he knew the only way to keep him away was to force a break with his lifelong partner.  He was pretty sure he could do it.

He was also sure he was going crazy.  Curry had told him his brain was injured and by now Heyes had figured it was likely permanent.  He’d had concussions before but not like this.  This was real different.  Sometimes, he would have difficulty pulling his thoughts together and they would become entangled in his mind.  He would open his mouth to speak, but nothing would come out.   It had happened a few times in front of the Kid, and it had been awful.  Heyes had frozen up, afraid his partner would see he was struggling to speak.  Heyes would sit silent for long periods waiting for the spell to pass.  He saw the way Curry looked at him; as if he were strange; crazy maybe.  Heyes couldn’t bear the thought of losing his mind.  

Heyes knew he had to plan ahead while he could.  He knew, too, if he told him his fears his partner would never leave him and that was not what Heyes wanted.  He didn’t want to saddle him with a burden to care for the rest of his life.  Heyes would take care of himself. He had to run the Kid off first and he figured he was well on the way to doing it.  He needed money, though, to be able to disappear properly.  He’d pull one last job and then he would be gone forever.

Heyes had been busy.  He had spent a lot of time planting the seeds of discontentment into Morgan’s men.  He hated to drag anyone along with him, but he knew he had to get out of the Roost and he would need them with him to do it.  Poke kept the hideout well-guarded and controlled all traffic in or out.  Heyes had explored the entire canyon and all the side canyons.  The only way out was the way he’d come in.  Heyes was leaving tonight.  The other outlaws were joining up with him as their new leader in the hopes of striking it rich; they would abandon their posts and follow him.  It would leave the Roost unguarded but Poke and the Kid would know they had left when they woke in the morning.  He knew they would be on his trail in an instant and a large gang would be easy to follow.  Heyes had a plan to use to his advantage.   He did have a plan for a robbery but it didn’t include any partners.  He wanted a stake for himself and it needed to be a big one.   He was going to leave the country if he lived long enough.  The Kid wouldn’t be expecting it.  In all the times they discussed going to Mexico, it was always Heyes who resisted the idea.  He loved the West and had never wanted to leave it; until now.  Now it didn’t matter anymore where he ended up.  

Heyes could feel the tension starting to seep into his muscles.  It was another seizure coming on.  Dammit!  Heyes put down his book and blew out the candle in his cabin.  He silently crept out into the night to get well away from the tiny settlement before all hell broke loose.

OOOOOOOOOO

The first thing Curry was aware of the next morning was Poke Morgan yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs.  He couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he sounded awful mad.  He crawled out of his bedroll and went to the door.  He saw Poke in the middle of the dusty pathway turning in circles and screaming like a banshee.  The Kid whistled to get his attention.

“Poke, what the hell are you yellin’ about this early in the mornin’?  You’re gonna wake the whole place up.” 

“There ain’t nobody to wake up, ‘sides you!”  Poke grabbed his hat off his head and threw it down.

It took the Kid a moment before he realized Heyes had pulled a fast one on him.  He’d snuck out in the middle of the night and taken the whole gang with him.  He’d set him up knowing he’d pump the men for information and had fooled him into thinking the robbery was a ways off.  He went back inside and threw his gear together angrily, emerging a few minutes later with his saddlebags over his shoulder and his bedroll under his arm.  

Poke watched him, stunned by the desertion of his men.  “Where’re you going, Jones?  Your partner rode off and left you behind.   Hell, he took everybody but you.”

“He only thinks he left me behind.  I’ll catch up with him,” said the Kid as he headed to his horse.  He tacked him up quickly and rode out past Poke never even looking at him.

Poke picked up his hat, threw it down again, and screamed and cursed some more.

OOOOOOOOOO

Mid-morning, Marley Walker and his men rode up the trail into the Roost.  He was surprised to see the guards weren’t posted in their usual places.  Of course, they’d seen the signs of a large group of riders having come down the trail.  Maybe Poke was out on a job.  Still, he usually left some guards behind to keep the Roost secure.  No matter, this lapse of security suited Marley just fine.  He’d been a bit concerned about riding in with a show of force and had spent a good part of the ride down from Green River trying to figure out a way to explain to Poke why the heavily-armed men accompanied him.  This would work out well.  He’d make himself comfortable and wait for the boys to return.

OOOOOOOOOO

Jake and Lindy weren’t far behind the posse.  They too had entered the narrow canyon and were trailing the posse at a distance keeping out of sight.  It was a shock to them both when they rounded the last bend and saw Marley and his men surrounding only one outlaw.  Pulling up, they backtracked down the trail out of sight, concealed their horses and crept to within earshot.

“Gone?  What the hell d’you mean they’re gone?” yelled Marley.

“You heard me.  Smith took my men during the night and rode out.  I knew by looking at him, he was a sneaky, low-down bas….,” Poke began only to be interrupted by Marley.

“Damn straight, he is.  Don’t you know who he is, you idiot?” screamed Marley.  “That was Hannibal Heyes who rode off with your gang right under your nose!  Jones is Kid Curry.”

Poke stared at him in disbelief and then he remembered.  He remembered where he’d seen Jones before.  It was in Abilene.  In a saloon.  There had been dispute at a card table.  Some stupid cowboy saying he’d been cheated.  The cowboy had drawn on the cardsharp across from him only to have the gun shot out of his hand by the fastest shootist Poke had ever seen.  It had been Jones and, now he remembered, Smith had been the cardsharp.  Damn his drinking.  He should’ve figured it out.  He knew he had pickled his brain, but not this bad. Heyes and Curry were worth a mint and he’d let them slip right through his fingers.  Good thing, his ol’ buddy Marley had been smart enough to show up with a few good men.  Poke was catching those two if it was the last thing he did.

“Well, what are you waiting for?  Let’s go after them,” roared Poke as he ran for his horse.

OOOOOOOOOO

Lindy and Jake watched the angry mob gallop down the trail past them.  Once the sound of hoof beats died down, they too, ran to their horses, mounted, and followed in the posse’s wake.

“What are we going to do, Jake?  There are too many of them.  What’s our plan?”

“We don’t have a plan.  We’re gonna follow them.  We’re gonna let them round up Heyes and Curry for us and then we’re gonna wait for them to make a mistake.” 

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes led his new gang out of the mouth of the Dirty Devil and cut due east towards Moab.  There was some grumbling from the men who were hesitant to follow him into the rugged territory.  They had thought they would be heading north to the town of Green River and then south again along the banks of the actual Green River.  None of them had been this route before but had heard it was deadly country.  There were dry, winding canyons with hoodoos and strange rock formations.  Places where a man could be lost forever.   Misgivings about their new leader’s decision were already being felt.  Heyes had planned it that way.  He had been through this country and knew it was dangerous, but he had a perfect recall of trails which always served him well.  Once he’d ridden a trail he never forgot it.  Of course, his mind was causing him fits right now, but Heyes wasn’t worried.  He didn’t plan on the men accompanying him the whole way and, if he got lost…..well, it was another way of disappearing, wasn’t it?  He was more concerned with shaking the Kid.

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes’ pursuers were shocked when they discovered he was leading his men east towards the mazes of the canyon country between Robber’s Roost and Moab. The Kid, of course, knew of his uncanny ability to remember long ago traveled trails, but Heyes was sick and his mind was not functioning correctly.  The others had no idea Heyes was capable of surviving such a shortcut and thought the man was leading his gang to a mass suicide.  The pursuers ruefully continued trailing the gang.

Curry was a few hours behind the gang, but he had no trouble following the churned up tracks of the large group of men.  Heyes had seven men with him.  That worried Kid.  How could he convince him to quit this mad plan if he had seven with him who were hankering for a big payday?  Well, if he couldn’t get him to quit, he’d join him.   He decided a long time ago he would stick with his partner no matter what and watch his back.  He wasn’t about to stop now when Heyes needed him more than ever.  He was angry he’d been fooled.  He’d known Heyes was up to something and it was never his style to simply double-cross someone.  Nope.  Nothing was ever simple with him.  He should’ve known he was being played, but Heyes was so foreign to him now; he hadn’t seen it.  Kid had chalked his odd behavior up to his injuries.  He’d be more careful when he caught up with him.

OOOOOOOOOO

The sheriff and Poke trailed the Kid by only an hour but they were falling further and further behind which also held up Jake’s and Lindy’s progress as they didn’t want their presence revealed until it served their plans.

OOOOOOOOOO

About a day past the banks of the Green River, the outlaws had had enough.  Heyes laid awake that night and listened to the whisperings of his men.  He’d known they’d lose heart right about here.  It was an easy ride for them back to the banks of the Green where trails cut both north and south to civilization, but Heyes had led them to the mouth of the maze of canyons before them.  He had wanted to throw a scare into them.  They were camped six hundred feet above the valley floor and were to make the descent tomorrow morning into the hellish landscape spread out before them as far as the eye could see.   Heyes had watched all evening as the men, one by one, would stop what they were doing to gaze out across the barren expanse beneath them.

The men drank whiskey and talked in hushed whispers late into the night.  Smith was crazy if he thought they’d follow him out there, they’d die for sure.  They’d all heard enough of Smith’s plan to try for the Moab Bank on their own.  What’d they need him for?  Any fool could dynamite a safe.  The decision was made.  They would leave Smith here.  It was obvious to them he was still a very sick man.  He tried to hide it, but they saw how shaky and tired he was.  He wouldn’t last long on his own.

The outlaws rode out in the early hours of the morning.  Heyes heard them go despite their best efforts to be quiet.  He had stayed awake listening to them talk in case they had decided they were better off killing him.  Heyes knew these men weren’t killers, but he wasn’t taking any chances.  He had his pistol and another he’d lifted from Poke’s storeroom tucked into his bedroll, loaded and ready for use.  It was ironic to think on.  Here he was likely dying, but he was still trying hard to live.  Heyes smiled into the darkness as he sprang out of his bedroll and made his own preparations to leave. The gang, in their haste to be away, rode abreast tearing up their own back trail.  It was impossible to untangle the prints leading in from the prints leading out.

Heyes took a heavy wool blanket he’d brought and cut it into four squares.  He folded each square several times until he had the thickness he wanted and tied each square onto a hoof of his horse securing it with the bits of latigo he always carried for a quick tack repair.  Tucking the rest of the leather into his saddlebag, he was ready to go.  The gang had camped last night on a big stretch of flat rock and tied the horses to the Pinyon and Juniper trees scattered at the far edges.  Heyes now carefully led his muffled horse onto the rock face and using a branch he’d torn off, he swept away the animal’s prints from the base of the trees.  He mounted his gelding, and rode him on padded hooves across the rock face and down the rocky trail leaving no trace of their passing.

_________________
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“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:08 am

LINDY


Chapter Five

The Kid arrived at the abandoned camp by mid-morning.  He’d crossed the Green a few hours ago and now stood on the edge of the cliff.  He’d seen the hoof prints headed both ways and he figured the outlaws had changed plans and instead of going down into the canyon they had turned north to go around.  Dismounting from his horse, he walked to the edge of the cliff and gazed out over the maze of canyons.  It was a daunting, though impressive, sight.  He could understand the decision to avoid crossing it.  

That’s when he realized what was bothering him.  Heyes had been here before; he wouldn’t have forgotten the trail no matter how sick he was.  Heyes would have known where they were headed and what they would see.  What he might’ve forgotten was he had told his partner about his earlier ride with the Plummer gang through the confusing labyrinths of canyons.  He knew Heyes had been this way before.  He knew he would never have brought the men this far from the Green only to turn back.  But why would he have brought them here at all?  He stood and looked about the camp noting the broken branches where the horses had been tied and the broad face of the flat rock.  He was a far better tracker than Heyes and he knew his wily partner.  He and Heyes had used rocky ground to hide their tracks before, but the gang had obviously crossed their own back trail. They’d left the way they’d come in.  What did it mean?
  
He had it!  

Heyes had no intention of staying with the gang.  He was using them as a decoy.  If he’d never ridden with Heyes, he might’ve fallen for it.   His partner was a master of deception.  The Kid knew Heyes had set a false trail using the outlaws, but why? Whipping his eyes back to the maze, he looked out across the rocky terrain.  “What the hell are you up to, Heyes?”

Curry swung up into his saddle and started down the rocky steep trail into the maze.    Not expecting to be followed, he made no effort to conceal his own tracks.

OOOOOOOOOO

When Sheriff Marley arrived with his men, he saw signs Curry had ridden alone down into the canyon.  Only one set of tracks was visible.  The outlaw gang had doubled back and turned north.  Maybe Curry was planning on a short cut to head off his double-crossing partner.  Poke had told him Heyes had been hurt real bad and wasn’t recovered from it yet.  He’d said he was shocked the man was even capable of a long ride.  It ought to make it easier to bring him in but he had four men with him.    The sheriff wished he’d raised a larger posse.   Making a decision, he sent his men north after the gang, and he started down the canyon trail.  Poke followed him.  

OOOOOOOOOO

Lindy and Jake saw four of the posse’s men heading north along the Green River.  The siblings were on the far bank and had concealed themselves in the heavy willows when they had spotted the men coming towards them down a steep trail on the other side of the river.  What the hell was going on?  After the riders disappeared from view to the north, Jake and his sister crossed the river and stopped at a jumbled crossroad of tracks.  The gang must’ve split up.  That’s all it could be.  They bickered over it for a moment or two, but Jake finally convinced Lindy their best bet lay with following the greedy lawman.  He wasn’t the type to lose a meal ticket.

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes reached the bottom of the canyon and paused briefly to remove the padding from his horse’s hooves.  Hiding his tracks didn’t matter now.  If the Kid figured out what he had done and followed him down the trail, he wanted him to be able to follow.  Better he caught up with him than risk his partner riding to his death in the confusing maze of dead ends.  If Curry was on his trail, he only hoped he would last long enough to lead him to safety.

Heyes well remembered his first trip through this land.  Jim Plummer had laid low for several weeks after the robbery that had driven them to the Roost before deciding to risk the ride out.  It hadn’t been long enough.  The problem with a hideout with only one entrance is that you risked a siege.  The posse had been large enough to spare a few men to re-supply them on a regular basis so it had hunkered down and waited patiently for the gang of outlaws to emerge from the safety of Robber’s Roost.  When they did, the outlaws soon found the trail out to Green River was blocked.   Plummer had panicked and had led the outlaws east with the posse in hot pursuit.  Instead of following the Green north or south he had continued east driving his men to the edge of the maze in an error of judgment.   Upon seeing the trap he had drawn his men into, Plummer had simply given up to await their capture.  Heyes had seen the defeat in the eyes of his leader and had prowled up and down the cliff looking for an escape.  He’d found it.  There was a small, little used game trail appearing to carve its way down.  Returning to his gang, Heyes declared he was going to try it.  They had left the Roost well-rested and heavily provisioned for the ride home so food and water were not an issue. Reluctantly, the others had followed him.

It had taken the better part of a week and many wrong turns, but luck had been on their side.  Just when it looked as though the men might turn on him, Heyes had led them around a bend and into an open expanse of land stretching to the base of the Manti-La Sal Mountains.  This was the moment when Jim Plummer began to formulate his plan for retirement.  He could see it was only a matter of time before Heyes rose to leader despite his youth and relative inexperience.  

 OOOOOOOOOO

Curry reached the bottom of the canyon and found the spot where Heyes had discarded the padding.  He smiled when he saw the torn bits of blanket.   Heyes had used the trick many times to shake a posse and it always worked well.  Obviously he was getting sloppy, because the Kid could easily follow his trail.

 OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes was tiring.  He had held it together pretty well with his new gang, but he couldn’t much longer.  He’d had a couple of spells leading the gang, but had covered them easily by declaring a rest when he felt the now familiar tension building.  He would then ride ahead as their leader to ‘scout’ out the route.  They had no idea he was hiding his unstable mental state from them.  The men had found him irritable and poor company so they’d been happy to be relieved of his company from time to time.  

Heyes doggedly rode on.  It would only be a few more hours before the temperatures in the canyons soared making progress impossible.  He would need to find some secluded, shady spot to hole up with his horse and rest until the day began to cool then he would ride on as long as the daylight allowed. 

 OOOOOOOOOO

The rest of Heyes’ pursuers were making good progress.  The Kid was not far behind.   The sheriff and Poke trailed him by a couple of hours.  They’d seen Heyes’ tracks at the bottom of the canyon and knew Curry was tailing his partner.  Jake and Lindy were right behind the sheriff only staying far enough back to be out of sight and earshot.  

The Kid was looking forward to seeing his partner and making sure he was okay.  Marley and Poke were not really looking forward to confronting Curry, but they were looking forward to the bounty.  Jake and Lindy were looking forward to a big payday.  Heyes wasn’t looking forward to much of anything and was back to trying to hang on to his horse.

 OOOOOOOOOO

Jake figured the ideal time to spring his trap was at the moment the sheriff made his arrest.  That’s when the man was likely to let his guard down and Jake wanted to be there.  He would not underestimate this lawman’s intelligence.  A crooked sheriff didn’t keep his job for 20 years or so by being stupid.   Jake had no qualms about what he’d have to do to seize the prisoners.  Marley was as much of a crook as the other outlaws.  He might not be wanted, but he was a criminal just the same and Jake figured it was his right to take him out.  His outlaw buddy, too.  

Lindy was looking forward to seeing Heyes again.  She couldn’t believe she’d spent the night with Hannibal Heyes and hadn’t known it!  As she rode along trailing Jake, she started daydreaming about him and wondering if maybe she had made a mistake putting Jake on his trail.  He sure was easy on the eyes and fun in the sack.  Sure he had a big reward on him, as did Curry, but he was a money-making gold mine.  The man had pulled off some of the most lucrative robberies the West had ever seen.  With him by her side, she’d never have to work again.  Being with Heyes was no work at all; why, she quite liked the idea.  He’d seemed fond of her during the time they’d spent together and had even been tolerant of her nature when he’d found her rifling his pockets.  If she could make him believe she’d followed him because she cared about him, she might set herself up for life.  She knew he was injured and she thought she might be able to use it to ingratiate herself to him.  Too bad she would have to double-cross her brother but a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do! 

 Jake was making his own plans to cut out his sister.  He felt no obligation to her at all.  He had paid her anything he might’ve owed her for raising him the day he’d pulled his father off her and killed him.  Of course, the old man had been beating him senseless for years so Jake had gone crazy on him, but he let Lindy think he’d been rescuing her.  She had been grateful and over the years it was the bits of money she’d sent him here and there that had kept him alive.  Her whoring had sure come in handy for him until he’d turned to bounty hunting.  Jake had finally learned what he was good at.  His pappy had taught him to shoot straight. He couldn’t track worth a damn, but he’d learned to compensate for it by using his natural craftiness.  Once Jake was old enough to handle a gun, it was his job to hunt and provision so his pappy had more time for his bottle and Lindy.  That’s when Jake had discovered he enjoyed killing.  It gave him a feeling of power and control.    He’d become damn good at it and now he made a good living bringing in the outlaw scum.  It made him feel superior to capture these crooks and it made him feel alive to bring them in dead.   He was looking forward to getting his hands on Curry and Heyes.  He’d be famous!

 OOOOOOOOOO

 Marley and Poke were making plans, too.  They knew they needed each other and were putting their heads together on how best to catch Kid Curry.  Their plan was to catch him before he caught up with his partner.  They would have to be awful careful to get the drop on him.  Poke was a fair shot and suggested maybe his rifle would be best.  No man could go up against Curry at pistol range.  Marley agreed and thought it might work to have him go in and distract the outlaw while Poke set up the shot.  He knew the Kid was not a murderer and figured he wouldn’t shoot him in cold blood.  He planned on being real careful not to give him a reason to.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:08 am

LINDY


Chapter Six

Blackness crept in from the corners of his vision; a black curtain eclipsed the unrelenting sun overhead.  Heyes fought against the spell.  He held it at bay with sheer determination, but he was tired and it was so very hot.  He tried to focus on the sounds around him.  The twittering of small cliff swallows as they darted in and out of their precarious hanging nests glued to the rocky walls closing in on him; the shuffling of his exhausted horse’s hooves in the blistering sand; the creaking of the saddle; anything would help distract him from his misery. 


He thought about the Kid.  He wondered if he’d ever be forgiven for riding off and leaving.  He hated to think of what he was putting his partner through, but even more he hated the idea of him witnessing his descent into madness.  The Kid had always teased him about being a genius; had always poked fun at his grandiose ideas; but he’d always been proud of him, too.  Heyes was sure he was losing his mind.   Even now, his thoughts were becoming cloudy. 


He lost track of time until he came to a drop in the canyon floor.  He remembered this big hill of sand; not too far from here there was an area of seeps.  Moist spots, not springs, but moist enough for small puddles of cool, stagnant water.  His horse perked up a bit having sensed the water ahead.  It was a funny thing about animals how they could do that, but a person couldn’t.  Most parts of the year there was water to be found in the desert, but you had to know where to look; and he did.  He sent his horse slipping and sliding down the soft sand dune.  

 

OOOOOOOOOO

 

It had taken the better part of two days, but the Kid was gaining on Heyes.  He could tell from the hoof prints Heyes’ horse was taking smaller and smaller strides.  The animal was tiring from the heat and lack of water.  His horse was, too, but it appeared from Heyes’ trail he was carrying a fair amount of weight; likely water.  More weight than he was, though he had enough water for a while longer being as how he was only sipping at it once in a great while.  Heyes had planned this trip and Kid figured he’d brought plenty of water with him to make it at least part way through.  He also knew Heyes was real good, as was he, at finding water when he needed it.  Over the years, the two of them had learned every trick in the book about survival and those tricks had served them well many times.  


OOOOOOOOOO

 

“God damn this miserable heat,” swore Lindy.  “I am ruining my skin in this God awful hellhole.  How much longer do you think, afore we catch ‘em, Jake?” 


Jake smiled. His sister’s fine ways were taking a beating in the harsh climate and she was sounding more and more like the saloon gal she was.  “I reckon we can’t be more than an hour or so behind them now,” he said.

 
“Behind who?  The Sheriff or Heyes and Curry?” asked Lindy.  She was sick of this place.  Her arms and face were burning and her lips had cracked with the desert dryness.  Lindy wanted to finish this business as quickly as possible and get back to civilization before she lost her looks completely.

 
“All of them,” said Jake.  He looked about him at the dry, arid desert brush.  There was greasewood and saltbrush, yucca and cacti, but not much else.  It looked barren and it looked real dry.  He hadn’t planned on this and he knew they’d be out of water soon; especially with the way Lindy was guzzling it.  They’d have to find more somewhere, but where?  Jake didn’t know this land, but he’d crossed the desert a time or two and knew what to look for.  Only problem was, he wasn’t seeing it.


OOOOOOOOOO
 

Neither were Marley and Poke.  They, too, were getting low on water and getting real worried about it.  Being old hands at traveling the desert, they were each sucking on small handfuls of pebbles to keep their mouths moist and stave off the need to sip at their remaining supply of water.  It’d be real serious if they didn’t find water soon.  Damn Curry and Heyes for leading them into this deathtrap.


OOOOOOOOOO

 
Heyes found the seeps easily enough.  They were soft mossy patches concealed in a jumble of rocks tucked under an overhanging ledge.  There was enough shade for one man but not enough for his horse; and Heyes’ horse needed shade and a rest.  Heyes smiled through dry, cracked lips as he pressed down on the moss hard.  He watched as the depression made from his hands slowly filled with water.  He tore apart some of the moss and created a small pool of water.  It took a while for him to refill his canteens.  He forced his thirsty horse to sip small amounts of water at a time and took pains to walk him around in between drinks.  He knew a hot horse drinking cold water was a recipe for colic which could kill a horse.  Heyes was tiring and starting to feel shaky.  He needed to find a place where they could both rest and he’d be safe from the seizure he felt coming on.    Once watered and partially refreshed, Heyes remounted and continued on in search of shade.

 
The trail narrowed as it wound its way through the abundance of desert shrubbery growing around the seeps attempting to poach what precious water was there.  If his horse hadn’t of stumbled through some sagebrush, he would have missed the slight shadow of a crevice in the canyon wall to his right.  His pounding headache and spotty vision were making it difficult for him to see.  The noon light was hitting it right to highlight it, and in a few more minutes it would be hidden.  Heyes rode his horse up the rocky hillside to the crevice.  It was a large vertical cut in the rock wall wide enough to pass a horse through.  Peering in, Heyes could see it widened out a bit and was big enough to turn his horse around in and still have space for him.  It was cool and shady inside, and his horse eagerly followed him in.  

 
Heyes pulled the saddle from the sweaty animal and tossed it down.  The horse sighed in relief as Heyes tied the reins around the horn.  The animal was thankful to stop and had no intention of wandering away.  Heyes left the crevice and walked down to the seeps again.  There was enough shade here for him to rest and he could watch his back trail from here.  He didn’t know if he was being followed, but caution was so ingrained in him; he never questioned his need to keep watch.  He sat with his back to the rock wall and set his right hand on the moss to help cool him faster.  The spell hit him unawares.  He came to lying on his side covered in sand and staring crazily at a tilted landscape.  It took a moment to clear his head and sit up.  Heyes thought he saw movement up the back trail.  He did.  Scrambling like an animal, not really capable of walking yet, he crawled a distance away from the moss and into a knot of tangled bushes.  He had to pull himself together real quick.  Peering out, Heyes watched the trail.

 
Kid Curry’s horse, too, had sensed the water ahead and both horse and rider anticipated it eagerly.  He followed in Heyes’ footstep, smiling now.  He’d been following in Heyes’ footsteps for a long time now and only prayed he’d have the chance to follow some more.  The tracks broke off to the left and then doubled back and crossed to the right.  His horse pulled to the left hand trail and he gave him his head knowing he had found the water source.

 
The Kid pulled up at the mossy pool Heyes had created and dismounted.  He let his horse sip, watching the thirsty animal push at the moss and slurp at the water.  Without turning around, he casually said, “You okay, Heyes?”

 
Heyes sat up and irritably said, “How the hell did you know I was here?!”

 
“You ain’t yourself, Heyes; you left a trail a mile wide when you dragged your ass into those bushes.  Are you hurt?”  He turned around to look at his partner.  Heyes was pale and wobbly.  This ride hadn’t done him any good.  He walked his horse over to his cousin.

 

“Just my pride,” said Heyes lying.  “Kid, what are you doing here?  I figured you’d get the message I didn’t want you riding with me when I up and rode off.”  Standing up, he started to dust the sand and bits of brush off his clothes.  The strain of standing too fast caused his head to spin and he started to fall.  Curry caught him as he went down and kept him from pitching face first into the sand.  Half-conscious, he swatted at his hands.  “Let me go.  I said, let me go,” said Heyes, his voice rising in a familiar squeaky tone.  The Kid didn’t let him go.

 
“If I let you go, you’ll fall flat on your goddamn, stubborn, double-crossin’ face and I’d have to pick you up again.  Just sit here a minute and catch your fool breath.” 

 
Heyes looked at him wide-eyed and said, “Sheesh, no need to get proddy.”  He smiled broadly, unable to keep his delight at seeing his partner hidden any longer.  Curry helped him up again and led him to the shady patch next to the pool.  The Kid’s horse followed them and greedily dropped his head to suck water as quickly as he could.  “Pull his head up, he’ll get sick,” fussed Heyes.  The Kid yanked his horse up and walked over to tie him to some sagebrush.  Walking back towards his cousin, he looked him over.  Heyes’ hands were shaking and he was blinking repeatedly.  He noticed there was no sun shining on Heyes to cause the squinting and realized his partner was having trouble seeing.

 
“Heyes, can you see me?” he asked softly.  When he didn’t receive an answer, he exploded, “Dammit!  Is that what this is all about?  You figured to crawl off and go blind all alone?!”  Seeing the guilt on Heyes’ face, he roared on, “Of all the stupid, self-centered things to do…”  

 
Heyes bristled, “Self-centered!  How d’you figure that for self-centered?”  He was trying desperately to pick a fight, change the subject.  He did not want his cousin to know how sick he was.  It was better for the Kid to think he was going blind.  He didn’t want him to realize it was far worse.

 
Curry glared at him astonished his genius partner could be so ridiculously stupid some times.  Shaking his head, he said, “Well, whatever you were thinkin’, you ain’t getting’ rid of me now; and don’t get any ideas.  I need you to lead me out of this mess you’ve led me into.”

 
“Help me up, will you?  I ain’t feeling too good.”  Heyes reached out his hand and the Kid grasped it tightly, pulling him to his feet, and steadying him until the dizziness passed.
 

“Where’s your horse?” Curry scanned the area around them.  There was nowhere to hide something as big as a horse.  

 
“Haa!  You’ll never find him.  Here let me show you.”  Heyes led them away from the water and across to the other side of the canyon.  Curry watched his partner walking slowly and cautiously.  He could tell Heyes was having trouble knowing where to put his feet. They were walking straight at the crevice, but the Kid couldn’t see it.  He worried Heyes had lost his mind, hoping against hope that he’d be able to lead them out of the mess they were in, but he followed willingly.  They were only ten feet away before he realized there was a crack in the face of the cliff.


“Give me your horse.  I’ll tie him out.  There’s not enough room in there for two horses, but he can have a rest in a bit.”  Heyes led Kid’s horse about fifty feet away and tied him to some sagebrush where he could nibble on the sparse grasses around him.

 
“How the heck did you find this with your eyes so messed up?”  Curry peered into the slit and saw Heyes’ horse dozing peacefully with his lowered nose resting on top of the saddle lying in the sand.

 
“It was a miracle, Kid!  One like Sister Julia talked about.  The light hit it just right as I was happening by,” answered Heyes walking past his friend and gesturing for him to follow him in.  “There’s room enough for us and my horse.  We can rest a spell.”

 
They settled tightly into the small space, but the Kid had to admit it was comfortable and cool.  Heyes had sat down facing him and closed his eyes.  He could tell he was exhausted so he sat quietly allowing Heyes to fall into a deep sleep.  There’d be time later to confront him about his injuries.  He got up and gently eased his partner down onto his side to rest then he slipped quietly out of the cave and walked over to his horse.


“Hey fella, don’t worry you’ll get your turn soon.”  He patting the animal’s neck then pulled the two canteens he had brought from the saddle and walked over to the seep to refill them.  He sat down on the cool moss as Heyes had, refilled the canteens, and dozed off for a while. He awoke feeling more rested and got up to check on his partner. 
 

He hadn’t gotten very far on the way back to the crevice, when he heard a gun cock behind him.  “Hold it right there, Curry,” said a voice he didn’t recognize.  He put his hands up and very slowly turned around as the man holding the gun reached forward and disarmed him.  “There now; wasn’t so hard, now was it?” asked the big, graying man before him.  The Kid looked at his chest, saw the gold star pinned to it, and groaned.


OOOOOOOOOO

 
Poke was well hidden up the trail but still within rifle range.  He was covering Curry for Marley.  They weren’t taking any chances.  If Marley could take Curry on his own, fine.  If there was trouble Poke would be ready.   They’d talked a lot on the trail in and had come to an understanding.  Marley hated his life and needed a change.  Poke realized how much he’d missed having a partner.  They’d agreed to share the reward.  There was more to having a good life than money.  Twenty thousand could go a long way if they supplemented it with a few robberies along the way.  Things were looking up for both of them. 

 
OOOOOOOOOO


“Can I put my arms down, Sheriff?   Thanks,” said the Kid as he risked a glance towards the crevice.  The Sheriff caught the quick shifting of his eyes and turned to stare at the wall.  All he saw was Curry’s horse contently nibbling the grasses.  Upon arriving, Poke and Marley had watched for a long time to make sure he was alone.  There was no sign of Heyes and only one horse.  They’d decided now was the time to take Kid Curry before he met up with his partner.  Poke had ridden back up the trail to hide the horses and find a high spot to cover the camp.  One man would have an easier time sneaking into the camp than two. Looking back at the Kid, Marley said, “You get down on your belly and put your hands behind your back so I can tie you up.”


Kid knelt down and prayed Heyes was still asleep.  Lying down on the hot sand, he flinched from the heat for a moment and put his hands behind his back.


Heyes woke up aware the Kid was gone.  This brought him awake more quickly and he sat up stretching.  He heard the sound of a strange voice outside but couldn’t make out what was being said.  It didn’t matter; anyone else down here was likely to be trouble.  Creeping to the crevice entrance, Heyes peered around the edge, one hand dropping to the gun at his side.  It was blurry and hard to see but he could make out someone big leaning over what he thought was the Kid.  Heyes crept quietly out of the rock cut and circled widely behind the two figures, keeping low to the ground and tucked behind bushes.   It was the Kid.  As he got closer, he squinted hard and saw the big man haul him to his feet roughly and push him down the trail; he also saw a bright flash of sunlight up the trail and high on the side of the canyon that stabbed at his eyes.  It was a reflection off of metal.  Heyes flew from his cover tackling his partner as a shot rang out.  The Sheriff grunted and grabbed at his arm falling to the ground.  The two ex-outlaws rolled into a slight depression behind some greasewood and stopped with Heyes crouched over the Kid.  “Get down. You’re too high.  Get the hell down,” whispered Curry urgently.  Heyes flattened next to him in the sand, but reached over and scrambled to untie his hands.

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

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Posts : 480
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 61
Location : Colorado

PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:14 pm

LINDY


Chapter Seven

Marley lay immobile in the sand.  He was conscious but he knew he had to play dead or risk becoming dead for real.  He kept his one hand on his pistol and fought to stay conscious.  Using the other hand, which was laying on top of him, he slowly smeared his blood from the arm wound across his chest.  Where had Heyes come from?   

Poke couldn’t believe he’d missed the shot.  It was an easy two hundred yarder and he’d missed!  Worse, he’d shot Marley.  Where had Heyes come from?


Like Poke and Marley, Lindy and Jake had left their horses around the last bend of the canyon.  They’d seen the two horses already tied to the small cluster of stunted trees and had known their time had come.  Dismounting and securing their own animals, the two had crept quietly forward.  They had managed to escape Poke’s notice as he had been so focused on Marley’s ambush of Curry he wasn’t expecting company from the rear.  


Lindy and Jake watched it all from a jumble of fallen rock across and below Poke’s vantage point.  They’d been unaware he was up there and when they heard his shot both of them had shrunk back into the safety of their meager shelter.  Lindy had seen Heyes for a second as he pulled his partner to the ground.  He was alive so there was hope for her plan, but she wondered where had he come from?  


Heyes finally loosened up the ties enough the Kid could slip his hands free.  After clenching and unclenching his fists to work the blood back to his hands, Curry drew his gun and looked at him.  “Are you okay?”  Heyes was looking at him strangely.  He saw him open his mouth to answer and shut it abruptly.  A wave of confusion crossed his partner’s face and he knew something was very wrong.   He made a decision.  He grabbed the gun from Heyes’ holster and slipped it into his own empty holster.


“What did you do that for?”  


“I ain’t getting shot in the back because you can’t see straight, Heyes.” 


“We’re outnumbered!  Give me my gun, I can see enough.”


“Don’t matter.  I ain’t giving you your gun.”  The Kid did not to explain it wasn’t Heyes’ sight he was worried about.  He turned away from his partner who angrily glared at him.


“Fine!”  Heyes rolled over onto his stomach and began to crawl away.


“Where are you going?” 


“If I can’t shoot anyone, there’s no point in me hanging around to get shot at.” Heyes started winding his way on his belly through the scratchy brushes.  He had a plan.


The Kid turned his attention back to the sniper.  He knew the shot had come from up valley maybe two to three hundred yards away and from thirty to forty feet above the canyon floor.  He had a rough idea where the shooter was and he knew he was probably not visible to him from that angle.   Putting his head down he crawled slowly towards the left wall of the canyon keeping below the slight rise of sand and shrubs he was hidden behind.  He stopped at one point and looked back over his shoulder for his partner, but couldn’t see him.  What was Heyes up to now?


Heyes was belly crawling, too, but back to the crevice.  He was only fifteen feet or so from the entrance and could almost see it.  Slowly drawing up into a crouch he looked around as best he could.  Hell, it was all so blurry he might as well make a run for it.  He sprang forward and ran for the entrance hunched over and zigzagging to make a more difficult target.  


Jake had seen him and curbed his desire to shoot.  He had an advantage because no one knew he and Lindy had arrived and wasn’t ready to give it up.  He didn’t notice his sister reaching for the large rock next to her and drawing it into the folds of her skirt.


Poke saw Heyes and fired off a shot, but it ricocheted off the rocks above Heyes’ head as he slipped through the crack and into the crevice.  Poke rose and, carefully keeping an eye out for Kid Curry, he made his way down the rocky ledge towards Marley.  He kept an eye on the spot where he saw Heyes disappear.  Poke was a man who hated surprises.


The Kid hadn’t made it very far.  The cover he was using ran out a good twenty feet from the side wall and he didn’t think the odds were good he could cover it without being shot.  He might have risked it another time, but not with Heyes so sick.  He didn’t know what was going on with his cousin, but it was obvious Heyes shouldn’t be left on his own.   He couldn’t believe the damn fool had ridden off and left him behind and he wanted to live to hear why.


Jake had his back to Lindy watching for more signs of the shooter.  She was slowly slipping the rock out of her skirt and steeling herself for what she had planned.  She’d killed men before.   The thought of it wasn’t what was bothering her.  They had been drunken, cruel cowboys who’d used her roughly and then tried to stiff her for payment.  No.  She was worried the heat had so sapped her strength she wouldn’t strike hard enough to kill Jake with the first blow.  


Lindy had no illusions about her brother.  He was cut from the same cloth as their Pa.  Sure, she’d supported him a bit in those early years but it was to keep Jake from turning up on her doorstep unexpectedly.   Lindy remembered the avid look on her brother’s face as their mangled father lay dying at his feet.  She’d known then he was never to be trusted.  Like an animal who had drawn first blood, she’d known he would kill again for the sheer joy of it and she’d planned to never give him the opportunity to kill her.  He wasn’t as smart as he thought he was, trusting her, or maybe he had plans for her, too.  He’d always treated her as a possession like his gun or his horse, protective only as long as she was of use to him.  Fortunately, Lindy had prepared for this trip.  She had slipped a knife into her garter, hidden by her skirt, but she couldn’t get to it without Jake knowing.  Not when he was sticking so close to her.  For her new plan to work, she needed him to die silently.


Marley strained to hear the sounds around him and to interpret what they meant.  He’d heard the outlaws split up and move away from each other and now he heard Poke coming down the trail.  He didn’t believe his old partner had turned on him, but he wasn’t about to take any chances.  He stayed still.


Heyes had hastily saddled his gelding. He reached into his saddlebags and pulled out a stick of dynamite and the extra gun he’d taken from Poke’s storeroom.  He slipped the gun into his holster and hung onto the stick of dynamite.  Reaching into the other saddle bag, he pulled out a blasting cap and a roll of fuse.  Heyes used the knife he kept tucked in his bootleg to cut a suitable length of it and carefully pushed the blasting cap into the end of the stick before tying on the fuse.  He was ready now.   


He’d discovered the other night one of his new gang members had decided to bring some explosives with him in case they couldn’t get what they needed in Moab.  The night the gang had ridden off, Heyes had listened to their drunken talk before they’d left.  He’d heard Deke’s friend, Wade, boasting they didn’t need Smith as he’d brought enough dynamite to blow any safe sky high.  Heyes had decided at that moment dynamite might come in handy to block his exit from his past life.  He had slid silently out of his bedroll late at night and crept to the picket line where he lifted a stick from Wade’s saddlebags.  The man would never miss one stick and Hannibal Heyes was a big believer in being prepared.


The Kid was right; a gun was useless to him right now, but a stick of dynamite didn’t need to be aimed.  He could see well enough to know where his partner was.   He wasn’t really planning on killing anyone, only creating enough dust and confusion to get them away.  He mounted inside of the crevice and fished in his shirt pocket pulling out a cigar he’d bought in Gunnison and had been keeping until he felt good enough to smoke it. Striking a match along the rough wall,  he lit the cigar being careful to keep it well away from the dynamite he’d tucked under his arm to free his hands.  Cigar lit and in his mouth, he took the stick of explosive in one hand, the reins in the other, and spurred his horse from a standstill into a gallop plunging through the narrow entrance banging his shoulders and knees on the rocky walls.


Just before Heyes’ mad dash, Poke appeared through a break in the shrubs and Jake leapt out from his hiding place.  Lindy was caught by surprise at Jake’s sudden move and dropped her arm to her side but keeping the rock held tightly in her hand.  Poke saw Jake just before the bounty hunter shot him in the face.  He was dead before he hit the ground.  Jake smiled triumphantly and headed towards the sheriff using shrubs for cover and keeping an eye out for Curry and Heyes.  He’d seen Curry crawl to the left and Heyes had disappeared somewhere to the right.  Jake was keeping his gun trained between the two.  


The Kid had seen Jake shoot Poke and he was waiting for a clear shot when Heyes flew out of the rock wall startling everyone as he madly galloped across the canyon towards his partner.  Geez, the crazy fool had a lit stick of dynamite!   Heyes swung his arm up and released the stick as Jake shot his horse from under him.  The dynamite flew through the air and landed, igniting a sandy, dusty explosion.  Kid couldn’t see Heyes anymore.  He could barely make out the dead horse but he couldn’t tell if Heyes was dead or alive as he ran through the cover of dust in the direction of his partner.


Jake also ran towards Heyes stopping only long enough to scoop up Marley’s gun and give the apparently dead sheriff a quick appraisal.  


Lindy chased after her brother.  She wasn’t letting her meal ticket go up in smoke.


Heyes was lying face up in the sand on the far side of his horse.  The Kid could see him now, sprawled in the dirt, and his gut twisted at the sight.  He was a ways away when the smoke cleared and he saw Jake coming, too, so he dropped to the sand instantly.  Jake had just reached Heyes as he sat up and swung his gun up stopping the bounty hunter in his tracks.


“Uh, Uh,” said Heyes swaying dangerously.  “There might be two of you, but I’ve got six bullets.”  He was grinning crazily.  Jake raised his hands.  Behind him, the ex-outlaw leader saw a blurry sight that truly shocked him.  Lindy was running towards him with a smile of relief on her face.  He had to strongly resist the temptation to shoot a woman.


Curry rose out of hiding and discovered the sheriff was gone.  He must’ve been playing possum.  He looked around and saw a horse and rider galloping away up the back trail.  He ran to Heyes keeping his gun trained on Lindy.  He wanted to shoot her, too.


Reaching his cousin’s side he stopped, relieved to see Heyes wasn’t bleeding anywhere.  “You okay?  Damn, I’m getting sick of asking you that!” 


Heyes goofily smiled at him and passed out.


As Heyes fell back to the ground, Lindy threw herself down next to him with a strangled cry.  She gripped his shoulders, shaking him, and began to cry.  The Kid was stunned.  Wasn’t this the two-timing whore who’d turned them over to her bounty hunter brother?  She was carrying on as though Heyes was the love of her life.  Maybe they had it all wrong.  Maybe something else was going on here.  Ever the soft touch for a pretty girl, he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt but he wasn’t going to trust her.  He looked over at Hawkins, who appeared equally stunned.


Lindy was crying for the love of her life, money.  If Heyes died, she’d lose all hope of him making her a fortune.  What was she going to do?  At least she hadn’t killed Jake.  That could work in her favor if Heyes died.  After all, Heyes was worth ten thousand dollars dead.  Pulling herself together, she wiped the tears from her eyes.  She’d do everything in her power to see he pulled through, because she stood the best chance of making the most money if he lived.  Standing up, she begged the Kid pitifully, “Please, we’ve got to help him.”


Curry’s anger melted away, but the suspicion remained.


OOOOOOOOOO


Heyes came to lying on his bedroll near a small camp fire. The flames cast strange, flickering shadows across his strained visage.  Lindy was crouched over the fire stirring something in a small pot.  He saw Hawkins sitting down tied to a tree with his arms pulled behind it and the Kid crouched in front of him giving him a drink from a canteen.   Heyes was confused and didn’t move giving his vision a few minutes to clear a bit.  


Finished with his prisoner, Curry rose and headed back to the fire.  He glanced at Heyes and saw he was awake.   “Hey there, partner.”


Lindy heard him and swung her head around.  Seeing Heyes awake, she dropped her spoon into the stew and hurried to him cutting off the Kid’s path.  He stopped and stared at her.


“Darling!  Oh, thank God you’re awake.  I was praying for you,” Lindy gushed, throwing herself across Heyes’ chest and hugging him tightly.  Over her shoulder, he looked at Curry with raised eyebrows and received a shrug.


“Praying for what?  I’d die?” 


“Silly man, why would I pray for that?  I’m so glad you’re all right.  I came all this way to find you and I thought I was too late.”


“Too late for what?”


She gazed at him adoringly.  “Too late to tell you I love you.”  She watched Heyes’ reaction carefully through her lowered lashes.  He laughed.  The bastard actually laughed at her.

 
“Sweetheart, there are only two things you love in this whole world:  you and cold hard cash but I’m not at all sure which you love more.”  Heyes pushed her off him and sat up slowly.  “You trusting her now, Kid?” 


“Nope, but she’s takin’ good care of you.  Don’t worry, I patted her down.  She’s unarmed.”  


He’d patted her down, but Lindy was smart and had known he would.  While the Kid was settling Heyes, she’d reached under her skirt and pulled out the knife, concealing it in the rocks around the fire ring.  After he’d searched her, she returned to tending the fire and discreetly slipped it back into her garter.  Jake had watched her do it, realizing her game and smiling at his sister’s craftiness.  


Looking over at the bounty hunter, Heyes asked, “Where the hell did you come from?”  Jake didn’t answer; he was wondering the same thing.


Lindy was angry at Heyes’ rejection.  She stood up and stomped back to the fire.  Stirring the tinned stew, she began to calm a little and started working on another ‘new’ plan.  She’d seen the softening in Curry.  He was a good-looking man, too.  If she couldn’t win Heyes’ trust, maybe she could win Curry’s.  Everyone knew Heyes and Curry were tight, as tight as two partners could be.  If she nursed Heyes back to health, Curry would be grateful to her.  And, if it didn’t work, Jake was alive to do the dirty work for her.  She got up, carried the warmed stew to her brother, and squatted down in front of him to spoon it into his mouth.


“You okay, Kid?”  Heyes smiled up at his partner


“I’m fine, apart from you tryin’ to scare me to death.  What were you thinkin’?”
 

“You took my gun, what else could I do?”


“Lay low, maybe?”  Heyes was a risk taker and regularly scared the crap out of him.  He sat down cross-legged next to his cousin and gently pushed him back down onto the bedroll.  “You rest a bit, Heyes, but I want you to tell me what’s going on with you and I want the truth.”  He looked over his shoulder at Lindy.  She was too far away to hear.  Good.  Heyes would never talk openly in front of her. 


The Kid’s eyes grew wide and his stomach knotted as Heyes quietly began telling him why he’d decided to leave.  He described his blackouts and his moments of speechlessness and confusion.  When he got to the part about leaving the country, Curry grew angry.


“Now you’re talkin’ crazy!  What on earth made you think it’d be easier on me if you rode off sick and hurt?  Did you think I’d shrug it off and go on about my life?  Don’t you know I’d have come lookin’ for you, worryin’ the whole time over not knowin’ what happened to you?”  He glared at Heyes, but his partner looked so lost and forlorn he couldn’t sustain his anger.  “Hell, I thought you were going crazy, too, ridin’ off like that.  Somethin’s wrong in your head, but think about it, Heyes, you’re makin’ decisions, comin’ up with plans, thinkin’ things through.  You ain’t nuts.  You’ve for sure brained yourself, but that don’t mean you’re gonna die.  These things take time and rest and you haven’t given yourself either.”


“Kid, I’m almost blind.  My thoughts tangle up like a derailed train and my body feels like it’s disconnected from my brain.  Do you really believe this is all gonna go away?”  He didn’t want to get it, thought Heyes.  More gently, he continued, “C’mon, what kind of a life do I have to look forward to?  I can’t go back to our old life, outlawing.   I can’t read anymore.  You know how I love to read.  I won’t be able to hold a job and what woman would have me?”


“Dammit, Heyes, I’ve never known you to feel sorry for yourself.  You’ve got to stop lookin’ at the dark side of things and start lookin’ at the good.  You don’t know this is permanent and you are gettin’ better.  You ain’t sick to your stomach anymore.  The twitchin’ has all but stopped and your vision hasn’t gotten any worse despite you tryin’ to blow yourself up.  You’ve been ramblin’ around these canyons for nearly three days and that’s killed healthier men.  You’re doin’ better than you think.” 


“What about the blackouts?  Did you forget about those?  I do things when I’m out.  I don’t know what.  I could hurt you or someone else.”


“Hey, I’m here and I’m not leaving you alone.  Let’s wait and see if you have any more.  I’ll be right here the whole way keeping watch.”


Heyes pulled himself up and snuggled back into the fleece-lined skirt of the upended saddle behind him and considered his partner’s words before softly saying, “Thanks, Kid.  I owe you.”


“You don’t owe me anything, except not running off and leaving me behind again.  Got it?” 


“Got it.”  Heyes gave him a broad, dimpled grin.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:30 pm

LINDY


Chapter Eight

The Kid had left Heyes sleeping and Lindy tied to the same small scrub tree as Jake.   He had gagged the two of them to keep them from talking together, but mostly to keep them from waking Heyes.  He was now headed down the trail back to the camp after burying Poke Morgan’s body.  Poke had been good to Heyes and him when they’d needed it and he’d wanted to see him properly buried despite him coming after them for the reward.  After all, it was easy money and he’d had the law on his side.  The Kid had done his best.  For lack of a headstone or wood for a cross, he’d pulled Poke’s saddle from his horse and set it at the head of the grave.  He’d left a note in one of the saddlebags identifying the body.  It was all he could do.  


His next task was even worse.  He’d have to butcher Heyes’ horse.  He hated to do it and knew it would upset Heyes, but they needed the meat.  He knew he should’ve gutted the animal right away but by the time he got Lindy and Jake settled Heyes had awakened.  There was no way he’d do it in front of him.  Heyes needed to be kept as calm as he could manage.  It worried the Kid he believed his situation was permanent.  It wasn’t like him, he was not the kind of man who gave up and that’s what it seemed like he was doing.  The Kid hoped it was all part of the strange behavior he’d displayed since his accident but time would tell.  He’d meant it when he said he was sticking by his partner.


OOOOOOOOOO


When Heyes awoke that evening, he saw the neat strips of meat arranged over the smoke of the fire and knew what had been done.  The Kid saw him glancing over at his dead gelding.  Walking over to his partner, he patted him on the shoulder and said, “He didn’t feel a thing.  A clean head shot took ‘im down.  I checked.”


“I know, but he didn’t deserve to end that way.  He was a good horse and I owed him better.”  He hadn’t had the gelding long, but it didn’t matter.  He thought of his sorrel mare he’d ridden for a good part of their outlaw days.  Lord, he missed her.  Nowadays, they didn’t keep a horse long enough to get to know it.  


“I don’t recall you had much say in the matter,” observed the Kid.  “Heyes, it had to be done.  We aren’t in the position to pass up food.  He may save us all.”


Heyes smiled sadly at him then looked over at Jake as his eyes hardened.  “It tells me all I need to know about Hawkins, doesn’t it?  What’d he have to gain by killing him?”  He’d always taken it hard when they lost a man or horse, but he knew the men of the Devil’s Hole gang had chosen the outlaw life and the risks that went with it.  The horses had no choice.


OOOOOOOOOO


The next morning, Heyes had rested while Curry had spent the last hour watering their horses, filling canteens, and preparing to break camp.  Heyes wanted to get a move on while the day was cool but the Kid had pushed him to stay another night where they were.   Heyes rightfully pointed out to him they had no idea what was going to happen to his vision and he was the only one who knew the way out of the confusing maze of canyons.  

While Heyes was sleeping, the Kid untied Lindy from the tree where she had spent the night and had her to lead him to the other horses.  He’d made sure Jake was securely tied to the tree before leaving his partner alone.  Lindy was irritated at having to make the trek, but she was also smart enough to use the opportunity to endear herself to Curry and try to pump him for information about Heyes.    She had watched him check on his sleeping friend.  He’d been kind and it surprised her, but kindness was not something that impressed her.  She was drawn to the sly, cunning types like Heyes.  Curry was cute, but she was looking for financial security.


After exhausting the subject of her feelings for Heyes and her intentions to stand by him, she changed the topic.  “So how did you and Heyes meet?”  The Kid was walking slightly behind her and she had to look over her shoulder to be sure he was listening.  He was listening and he was enjoying the view, too.  Of course, he was also making sure she didn’t pull a fast one.  Nobody’s fool, it suited him to let her chat on and ply him with questions.  Her concern for Heyes was nice to see, but he wasn’t ready to trust her.


He wasn’t about to tell her he and Heyes were blood cousins; it wasn’t common knowledge and it was better that way.  Even their gang hadn’t known.  Everyone thought they were great friends from their kid days.  Early on, Heyes had warned him that sort of information could be used against them so it was better kept quiet.  Instead of answering her question in full, he gave her a partially true answer.


“Well, we started riding together a little while after Heyes took over the Devil’s Hole gang.  Been riding together ever since.”


“How exciting it must’ve been; riding with outlaws and robbing banks and such.  Did you steal a lot of money?” 


“Yep, stole it and spent it.”  He hated to think about how much money had passed through his and Heyes’ hands.  He’d give anything to have some of it now.


“All of it?!  You don’t have anything left?”


“It takes a lot of money to run a big gang.  It’s not all wine, women, and song.” 


“I bet you didn’t spend much on women; a big, handsome man like you,” said Lindy slyly.  She was sure he was warming to her.


“I spent all of it as fast as I could.” 


“Well, I guess you and Heyes can rob a little old bank anytime you need more.” 


“Nope.  We quit the life a while back.  We don’t steal anymore.” 


This shocked her into silence.


An hour later, the two of them led the horses into camp.  


OOOOOOOOOO


Jake and Lindy were mounted on their horses while the Kid tied their hands to their saddle horns.  She put up a fuss but couldn’t sway him to leave her hands untied.  Heyes was putting his saddlebags and bedroll onto Poke’s horse.  


Heyes checked his cinch one last time and pulled up into his saddle as the Kid walked up to him and patted his leg.  They’d ride until it was too dark to go any further.  Then they’d stop for the night.  Curry mounted and rode up to his partner.  “You lead, Heyes.”


“Kid, there’s something I need to tell you right now in case something happens to me.  See the part of the wall over there with all the desert varnish on it?” 


“Yeah.” 


“Keep an eye out for those big, black spots of varnish.  Check them all out real carefully,” said Heyes urgently.


“For what?”  


“Handprints.  The ancient travelers marked their way with pictures and handprints.  If you find those, you’ll know you’re heading in the right direction.”  


“Handprints, huh?  All right, I’ll keep an eye out, but I’m expectin’ you to lead the way.”  The Kid rode over to Jake and Lindy and yanked their horses’ reins loose to lead them away.


OOOOOOOOOO


They stopped before dark.  Heyes was wearing down fast.  He’d done pretty well most of the day, but the Kid could tell he was exhausted again.  Heyes protested he could go on, but they’d gone far enough and he wanted enough light to make sure the prisoners were settled securely and set up camp.  


Lindy was annoyed to hear herself referred to as a prisoner despite having ridden all afternoon with her hands tied to the saddle.  She was having difficulty facing the reality here were two men she couldn’t wrap around her finger.


Jake had ridden sullenly alongside of her all day.  He hadn’t said much at all.  He’d spent most of the ride trying to stretch the latigo tying his hands.  He’d only succeeded in making a bloody mess of his wrists.


Heyes was tired and his head was pounding hard.  He was dehydrated and it wasn’t helping.  The Kid took one look at him and sent him to start the fire and set the coffee to brewing.  It was all Heyes could manage.   By the time they turned in, he couldn’t keep his eyes open a moment longer.


Curry woke up in the dead of the night to the feeling something was wrong then heard sounds coming from Heyes next to him.  Growling, clicking sounds; the sounds of a struggle.  He couldn’t see much so he reached out to the edge of the fire and set a piece of kindling to burning.  Holding the flaming stick close to Heyes, he saw a sight he’d never forget.  His partner’s eyes were open and rolled back into his head.  His face was frozen into a snarling grimace.  The cords of his neck stood out and he was thrashing his head from side to side.  His hands were tearing at his shirt, pulling handfuls of fabric away from his skin.  Every muscle in his body was taut and straining.  His back was impossibly arched.


“What the hell’s wrong with him?” said Jake, startling the Kid who over at him and Lindy, fear and confusion in his face.


“He’s crazy.  Heyes is crazy, Jake,” she cried, all her hopes now dashed.  There was no way she’d tie herself to a wild animal.


The Kid looked back at Heyes who’d suddenly gone still.  His face had slackened and his mouth hung open, drooling.  He’d had a seizure; a bad one, from the looks of it.  Curry had no idea what to do.  He was staring at him when Heyes opened his eyes.  It took a few moments before Heyes knew where he was.  When he did, he saw the shocked look on the Kid’s face and knew what had happened.


“Heyes…..” the Kid was at a loss as to what to say.


“What happened?  What’d I do?” asked Heyes weakly. 


“You went nuts.  We all saw it.  You’re like a rabid dog.  Someone needs to put you down,” said Jake.  


“Shut up, Hawkins, shut up or I’ll kill you,” screamed the Kid.  


Heyes looked at Jake and saw Lindy next to him.  She was looking at him with revulsion and he felt humiliated to have witnesses to his spell.  Especially these two, he loathed them both.


“What’s the matter, darling?  Am I not so loveable now?” he asked sarcastically.  For the first time in her life, Lindy was speechless.


OOOOOOOOOO


The next morning, Heyes was pale and shaky, but he insisted on riding on.  “I ain’t feeling any better and I’d like to get out of here while I’m breathing, all right?”  The Kid swiftly packed up the gear and saddled up the horses.  He was having a hard time coping with the memory of the seizure.  His partner had quickly dropped into an exhausted sleep, but he’d sat up most of the night staring at his best friend.


What would they do if Heyes didn’t get better?  How long could he live like this?  He looked at his cousin now, noting how thin and diminished he looked.  He watched as he struggled to get on his horse.  He could see how worn out he was, but they couldn’t stay here.  They had to find their way out or they would be finished.  


They mounted and got ready to head out.  The Kid had earlier warned both Lindy and Jake if he heard one word out of them about last night it’d be the last word either of them ever spoke.  They’d both seen the truth of this statement reflected in his eyes and didn’t say anything at all.  

The small group rode on quietly, each lost in his own thoughts.


OOOOOOOOOO


Marley hadn’t gone far.  He needed water or he wouldn’t last long.  When the others had left, he’d ridden back to the seep.  He couldn’t believe how far wrong it had all gone.  Heyes had a reputation as a genius, but he had him pegged as a madman.  


He’d passed Poke’s corpse as he fled  the ambush.  If he hadn’t of known it was Poke, he never would have guessed.  His old friend had deserved better.  At least Curry had given him a decent burial.  Marley had watched from where he’d hidden up the trail.  Poke had been his closest friend and his partner.  He’d stuck by him when his other outlaw companions had shunned him for going straight.  They’d known each most of their lives and now he was gone, and his dream of a new life was fading fast.  He had nothing left; there was no way he was going back to Green River and Annie.  He’d tasted freedom these last few days and he’d loved it.  

Jake had shot Poke!  Why was Lindy here?  He was pretty sure those two had caused all of this.  The heavy graze to his arm was painful, but not life threatening.  He might have lost his gun, but he had his rifle in his scabbard and full canteens.  Pulling up onto his horse, he paused.  There was twenty thousand dollars waiting for him to come and get it.  He figured he had a score to settle for old Poke, too. He turned his horse around, and started after the others.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:24 pm

LINDY


Chapter Nine

Around noon, Heyes stopped at a crossroads in the canyon.  He couldn’t figure out which way to go.  None of it looked familiar and it shook him.  He always remembered a trail and he wondered whether he was forgetting because of his injuries or if he’d misjudged his abilities and led them into the wrong canyon somewhere along the way.  He looked to the right, then the left and the right again.  The confusion grew in his mind and he froze up not wanting the others to see.  The Kid, Jake and Lindy each watched him deliberating.  

Curry’s heart was breaking at the pitiful look on Heyes’ face.  He waited patiently not wanting to embarrass his partner in front of these two. 

 Jake and Lindy were sure they were lost and she started whining she had to stop and relieve herself.  The Kid was tempted to ignore her but Heyes had been hanging onto his saddle horn a lot and he’d noticed.  Now might be a good time for a rest and a chance to save his partner from admitting his was lost.  Heyes was stubborn and would ride himself into the ground if he let him.   Lindy kept whining so he said, “We’ll stop here for a couple of hours and have a bite to eat.  Not too long, though.”   

Heyes nodded his agreement and the riders dismounted.  Tired and confused, he couldn’t think straight and was worried another seizure was coming on.  He went to sit down on a flat rock off the side of the trail.

Lindy had avoided him altogether since the other night.  He spooked her now, and she wanted nothing to do with him so she turned to his partner.   “Kid, I need to go.  Please, I can’t do it with my hands tied.” 

Curry’s eyes were cold and he took her roughly by the arm, leading her into some tall saltbrush and sage.  Holding onto her arm, he reached down and pulled up her skirt.  She wasn’t wearing panties, and it shocked him.  She smiled seductively at him and licked her lower lips.  Irritated, he shook hard and snarled, “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole.  Now pee.”  

Lindy was furious at his rejection.  She squatted and did her business only to be jerked to her feet by him once she was finished.  He dragged her back to where Jake was sitting.  Heyes smiled at her obvious discomfort which only made her angrier.  She’d kill these two if it was the last thing she ever did.  

Curry pushed her down roughly next to her brother and walked over to sit down next to Heyes.  “I don’t know what you saw in that hussy.” 

“Seriously?  I’d have thought you just saw it.” Heyes gave him a sly grin making him roar with laughter.

Jake leaned over and whispered to Lindy, “Do you still have your pig-sticker?  Now might be a good time to slip it out.  Lay down behind me.”

Lindy slid to the ground and carefully pulled the knife out using her tied hands while Jake slipped in front of her hiding her from the laughing partners.  She hesitated a moment, weighing her choices, and then slipped the knife into Jake’s hands.  She needed him.  She couldn’t take these two without him.

Jake hastily began to saw at the leather binding his hands.  Once he was free, he’d wait for his moment.

OOOOOOOOOO

Marley was making up ground on them.  The trail was easy to follow and it looked as if Heyes and Curry were slowing up.  He could tell they were stopping frequently to rest and he was looking forward to catching up with them and those two children of hell riding with them.  He had plans for them all, but special plans for Lindy.  He felt like an old fool falling for her charms. Hard to believe he’d thought her a lady.

OOOOOOOOOO

The Kid had passed out some of the jerky for lunch.  Heyes had difficulty eating much of it, but he’d made sure he’d had enough to keep his strength up.  They were now preparing to move on.  He was tightening cinches and checking the gear when the Kid came over and pulled a canteen off his horse.  

“How’re you doing, Heyes?”  Heyes looked strained, but not confused anymore.

“Better.  The rest helped.” 

Smiling, Curry squeezed his shoulder before heading back to the Hawkins.   He gave Jake a sip of water  unaware his hands were no longer tied and then turned his attention to Lindy.   Jake lunged for him and grabbed him around the neck pulling him to his feet with the knife at his throat.  

Heyes saw the commotion and started to run towards them.  “Hold it right there or your partner’s a dead man,” snarled Jake.  He pressed the knife into the Kid’s neck enough to draw blood.  Lindy rose to her feet as Heyes skidded to a stop, his hand on his gun.  “Lindy, get Curry’s gun,” said Jake.  She reached around him and pulled the gun out of the holster, handing  it out to Jake by the muzzle.  

Heyes stood frozen in place.  Jake seized the gun with his other hand swinging it towards Heyes and squeezing the trigger as his captive pushed back hard into his chest throwing off his aim. The Kid felt the knife slice lightly across his skin as Jake stumbled backwards, his arms swinging open.  Curry dove for the ground as Heyes jumped sideways into a rolling fall and drew his gun, firing off a shot.  He aimed by instinct and hit Jake squarely in the chest before coming to a stop, his head spinning wildly. The Kid was struggling with Jake for the gun.

Lindy used the confusion to scoop up her knife and run for a horse.  Heyes saw her go and drew down on her, but he didn’t pull his trigger.  He fell back against the hot sand and was still lying on his back gathering his wits as he watched ride off.  The Kid wrestled away the gun as Jake collapsed, mumbling,  “Heyes ain’t no gunnie, everybody knows he’s no gunnie.”  He was bleeding heavily.  

“You ain’t the first person to make that mistake,” said Curry kneeling next to him and pulling off his bandanna to try and staunch the bleeding.  It looked like the bullet might have hit an artery.

Heyes staggered upright and walked over to stand by his partner.  He could see Jake was a lost cause.  The man lay with his eyes closed and the blood pooling beneath him.   His attention shifted to the blood pouring down the Kid’s throat.  “You all right?”  

 “I’m fine.  Lindy got away, huh?”  

Heyes shrugged.  “I couldn’t shoot a woman.  If I could’ve, it would’ve been her.”

“Well, one of us ought to go after her and lookin’ at you, I’d guess that’d be me.”  The Kid eyed his cousin’s white face while pressing down hard on Jake’s chest.  He felt Hawkins shudder and grow still.  He eased back onto his heels.  “She ran off and left her brother dyin’ in the dirt. What kind of woman would do such a thing?” 

“The kind not worth going after.  Let the desert have her.  C’mon, we need to get going.”  

“Okay, I’ll bury Jake if you finish with the gear.” 

“Leave him.   Take a look at the sky, there’s a front moving in.  I don’t want to be in these canyons if a storm hits.” Sure enough, there were big, dark cumulous clouds forming to the west and the wind was picking up and beginning to blow in their direction.  

“D’you remember which way to go?”.  

“Don’t need to.  Look over there.”   On the rock face, not thirty feet away down the right fork, were a multitude of handprints, yellow, red and brown.  Small and large.  All in a row.  As thought the ancient travelers were pointing the way out.   

OOOOOOOOOO

Marley arrived at the crossroads two hours later.  The wind was blowing down through the canyons driving the sand in front of it.  He found Jake’s body and rode around him in ever widening circles to try to get a feel for what had happened here.  It was obvious there’d been gunplay and a struggle.  Jake had ended up the loser.  What a stupid fool going up against Heyes and Curry alone.  Of course, Hawkins’s sister had been there and she was a she-devil.  He reined up in the center of the crossroads and stared at the tracks he saw.  The wind was rapidly scouring them away.  Soon they would be gone.  He could make out three sets of tracks leading east.  One was a horse being led by the looks of its hoof prints, probably Jake’s.  He figured the other two were Heyes and Curry.  Turning to the left, he saw one set of tracks.  Lindy.  He stood for a moment much as Heyes had earlier before following Lindy’s trail to the left, the wind blowing his tracks away behind him.  There were some things more important than money and a good partner was one of them.  He owed this to Poke.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:46 pm

LINDY

Chapter Ten

The Kid and Heyes rode away each lost in his own thoughts.  The silence stretched into several hours as stormy sky darkened with ominous clouds.  The heat from earlier in the day was radiating off the red rock walls on either side of them and the two took pains to ride down the center of the canyon keeping an eye out for familiar signs on the way.  The brush was becoming thicker and less stunted indicating they were probably rising a bit in altitude. Their horses carefully picked their way through the vegetation.  It was slow going.


Heyes was wondering if someday he would feel guilt over killing Jake.  Right now, he only felt relief his partner was safe and they had one less Hawkins to worry about.  It was taking all his strength to put one foot in front of the other and he had no energy to mourn his passing.  As for Lindy, Heyes figured they’d be seeing her sooner or later.  That woman was a mistake he never wished to repeat.


The Kid wondered if Heyes’ silence was due to remorse or illness.  He was glad to have his partner at his side where he could keep a close eye on his condition.  He was scared Heyes was right and the damage to his brain might be permanent.  He’d been confused again today, but it had passed quickly.   It was clear his head pained him and his eyes were bad, but a lot of the other symptoms had disappeared.  He remembered the delusions and anger Heyes had suffered from immediately after the accident.  Thankfully, those were gone.  The seizures were the most frightening symptom and he swore he’d get his partner to a doctor as quickly as possible.  Reaching up and feeling the raw wound on his neck, he marveled Heyes had managed to kill Jake.  As bad as his eyes were it had taken a lot of guts to risk the shot.  He was grateful he had.

 
Heyes saw Kid touch his neck.  He had thought he’d led him to his death when Jake Hawkins had held the knife to his neck and drawn blood.  He was beginning to realize how stupid he’d been riding off and leaving his partner.  What had he been thinking?  They were always better off together; always had been.  They’d learned the hard way.  He’d realized when the Kid had shown up at the seeps how relieved his was to have his partner with him again.  He was frightened, more than he’d ever admit.  He sighed and shifted in his saddle, his head was throbbing and his knees were sore.  The wind was starting to push at their backs whipping grit and sand about the canyon floor.  From the looks of the sky, they needed to find shelter soon.  Heyes had seen some wind holes further back, but no caves.  Wind holes were formed by the wind driving grit into the soft sandstone over millions of years eventually scouring out a cave-like depression and Heyes knew they provided poor shelter.  


Soon, the wind began howling.  Bits of sage and debris took to the air, whipped up by the strengthening gusts.  Curry pulled his bandanna  over his nose and tightened his stampede string to secure his hat.  The sting of the sand reddened his face.  He looked over at his partner.  Heyes had tipped his head forward and the brim of his tied-down black hat was shielding his eyes.  The horses had lowered their heads almost to the ground to avoid the worst of the storm.  They had to find shelter.  He yelled over the wind only to have his words snatched away, but Heyes looked out from under his hat and nodded.


Heyes led them to the left hand wall of the canyon hoping the rough contours of the rock would provide some respite from the wind.  They stumbled on this way for quite a while until Heyes tipped his head forward onto his chest, and his hands clutched the horn.  


The Kid was pretty sure he was dozing.  He quietly reached out and caught up the bay gelding’s right rein.  Leading his partner and the rider-less horse, he rode on until he came to a small side canyon.  It cut off the main canyon they were now in and would provide a windbreak of sorts.   He led the way in.


He’d found the perfect spot.  Two boulders had fissured from the canyon wall and tumbled down onto the sandy hillside tucked up against the rock face.  One stood tilted on its smaller end with the top resting against the wall behind it. The other one had fallen down on the first and slid down the face of it to lie on its side providing a windbreak on two sides.  It was enough.  Over the centuries since the rocks calved off the canyon wall small trees and shrubs had grown in the shade provided by the large boulders.  Sand had caught and backfilled the empty spaces.  It would block most of the wind nicely and provide a dry spot should it rain.  


The Kid rode into the partial enclosure and dismounted.  He tied his horse and Jake’s horse to one of the trees where they could nibble for forage then led Heyes’ horse to the most sheltered spot and reached up to help his partner to the ground.  Heyes was asleep with his fingers tightly curled around the horn.  He had to pry his hands open, but Heyes hardly stirred.  Pulling him by the arm, he slid him off his horse.  Damn, he was light!  He couldn’t believe how light.  He settled his cousin in a sitting position, half-awake, and pulled the saddle from the horse before leading it over to the others and unsaddling and hobbling each of them before turning them loose one at a time.  There was no telling how bad this storm would be and the horses needed to be free to fend for themselves.  He already had his hands full with Heyes.  He dragged the two saddles and gear back over to his partner who was sound asleep sitting up with his head bowed.  He gently wrapped a saddle blanket around him and tipped him back against his saddle.


The wind was howling through the canyon now.  The rocks around them deflected the worst of it, but the sand was flying.  The Kid sat and leaned against the rock at his back.  He watched Heyes sleeping several feet away and let his thoughts wander.  

 

Was Lindy following them?  He’d been keeping an eye out for her, but had seen no sign of her.  There would no longer be any tracks for her to follow.  The wind was wiping them away.  A good tracker would know to look for other signs such as a crushed plant or broken branch, maybe a scrape on a rock from a horse shoe, and could probably follow a trail in this weather, but he doubted Lindy would have the skill.  She was probably lost by now and he had a hard time feeling sorry for her.  His Ma had always said you reap what you sow and he figured Lindy was getting what she deserved.  


Is that what had happened to him and Heyes?  His Ma would probably think so.  They’d done plenty of wrong things for a very long time.  Is that what this was all about?  The amnesty was punishment for their life of crime?  It sure would explain all the suffering they’d gone through since they’d quit outlawing.  Was Heyes paying for his brilliant robberies by losing his mind?   If so, what would be his punishment?   Maybe it was watching his partner suffer and not being able to help much.  


He closed his eyes at the morbid thoughts chasing around in his head and when he opened them he noticed Heyes was stirring.  No.  Not stirring, he was having another seizure.  Kid saw him arch his back and begin to flail his arms.  Kid crawled the few feet to Heyes and grabbed at his arms worried he would get hurt.   The reaction was instant.  Heyes went berserk, growling and screaming, fighting him.  He was shocked by his strength.  He could barely hang on, but was too afraid for his partner to let go.  He could feel the incredible strain in Heyes’ muscles.  His jaw was snapping open and closed and he worried he might bite his tongue.  He shoved a bit of the horse blanket into Heyes’ mouth to stop the gnashing and hoped the seizure would pass.  It seemed to last forever and then it was over.  Heyes collapsed in his arms and lay still.

 
He was so shaken by the whole thing he sat back and held onto Heyes, not wanting to let him go. His partner was drenched in sweat and trembling.  He pulled the horse blanket out of his mouth and tucked the blanket tightly around him.  Without conscious thought, he began to sway as though rocking a child to sleep.  He rocked for a very long time.


He must have dozed off.  He felt Heyes move and he opened his eyes.  Heyes was looking up at him.  


 “I had another one, right?”


“Yep.”.



Heyes pushed away from him and rolled over onto his back with the blanket falling open underneath him.  He stared up at the darkening sky for a long time and then said, “Still think you want to ride with me, Kid?”  Turning, he looked at the him wanting to see his answer more than hear it.
 

“Always, partner, you know that.”
 

“I don’t know how long I can take this, Kid.  I’m so tired I want to lie down and die.”


“I don’t want to hear that kind of talk from you, you hear?”  The Kid saw it was true, though.   Heyes was spent.  He’d never heard his partner talking about giving up before, even at his worst.  “You’re tired.  We’ll stay here a day or two and you’ll feel better.”.  


“It’s more than that.  I’m scared.  This scares me worse than anything ever has.  I know it’s happening.  I can feel my mind slipping away and I can’t do anything about it.  I always thought if I worked hard enough and thought long enough I could do anything, but I can’t do anything about this.”


“We don’t know what’s happenin’.  We need to get you rested and then we need to get you to a doctor.  We’ll be out of this damned maze soon.  Promise me you won’t give up..


“I can’t promise.  I don’t have any control over this.” Heyes was so tired.  “Let me rest now.”  He closed his eyes.

“No!  No, dammit, you’re not going to sleep on me again.  We’re going to talk this through right here and now.”
 

Shocked by the outburst, Heyes struggled to sit up.  The Kid pulled him up against his saddle and sat down next to him.  “Heyes, I’ve watched you do amazin’ things all my life.  You take pleasure in defyin’ the odds and I don’t see why you’d be givin’ up now.  Look at what you’ve done.  You took a snot-nosed kid under your wing when you were a child yourself and you took care of me despite the odds, Heyes.  We couldn’t find work, so you taught us to steal, but being able to survive wasn’t enough for you.  We had to be the best.   We had to be the best ever and we were.” 


Heyes chuckled, “We were, weren’t we?”


“Yes, and now we’re doing somethin’ no other big-time outlaws have ever done.  We’re gonna get amnesties.”  He held up a hand.  “Shut up, Heyes.  I know I started this whole amnesty thing and I know you went along with it because I wanted it and you saw it as a way out of gunslingin’ for me.  Well, I wanted it for you, too, but I see how hard this last year has been on you and I want it to be done.  If you want to go back to outlawin’, I’ll go with you.  We don’t need to rob banks and trains, there’s lots of other ways to steal, we can pull cons and you’re a great cardsharp.   I know you chose to go after the amnesty for me and it’s been hell on you.”

 
“Kid, I didn’t……,” began Heyes only to be cut off.

 
“Shut up, for once in your yakkin’ life please shut up and listen to me.  I’m only sayin’ this to you once and if you tell anyone I swear I’ll kill you.   I love you.  I will carry you out of here on my back if I have to. You are my best friend in the whole world and I will follow you anywhere, anytime but you have to promise to give me the chance to.” 

 
Heyes blinked a few times and opened and shut his mouth.  The Kid began to be afraid he’d brought on another spell when he finally said, “I promise, okay?  Now shut up and let me sleep.”  He closed his eyes.

 
Kid stared at him a second and yelled, “That’s it?  I pour my heart out to you and all you have to say is shut up and let me go to sleep?  That’s it?”


“Yep.”  


OOOOOOOOOO


The next day, the boys woke to a different landscape.  The wind had piled drifts of sand covering much of their gear and the surrounding shrubs.  The Kid spent quite a bit of time shaking out blankets, opening and upending saddlebags, and generally knocking sand out of every place it sought to hide.  


Heyes was moving slowly so his job was breakfast.  They had long since run out of coffee so he wandered up the canyon to look for squaw tea.  He knew since they were at a higher altitude it should be easy to find.  He also collected some cactus pads.  He and Kid were not in a hurry to pack up so he had some time to make a real breakfast.  A while later he returned to their camp with full hands.  He washed out the tea pot with some of their precious water and set a pot of the medicinal tea to brewing.  Maybe it would make him feel better.  Taking the cactus, he used his knife to scrape off the prickers and chop the pads into bite sized chunks.  He took the horse meat, cut it up and tossed it all together in their old frypan over the fire.   He wished he had some eggs or seasonings to go with it, but at least they’d have a hot breakfast.  It had been a very long time since the last one and they were allowing themselves the luxury of a leisurely morning.  He’d agreed with his partner they no longer needed to worry about being followed.  There wasn’t much chance of anyone finding them after last night’s windstorm.   


The two men enjoyed their meal and then took the time to sit together for a while to watch the soft glow of dawn melt into a bright sunny morning.  The red rocks of the canyon glowed in the early light.


“Heyes, you never said last night whether you wanted to quit tryin’ for the amnesty.


Heyes smiled and sipped at his tea.  It was steaming hot, the way he liked it, and the steam rose from the cup in the coolness of the morning.  “Kid, you didn’t give me a chance to say much of anything.   I seem to recall a lot of ‘shut ups.”


“Well, do you?” 


“We talked about this on the ride out of Dolores, or am I confused?”  Heyes quipped.


“Yeah, but a lot’s happened since then.  What do you want to do now?”  


“I don’t feel much like making future plans.” 


“You said you wouldn’t give up.”


“I’m not.  You were right last night-- about everything.  I’m not going to give up on it, but I may help if you’re still offering.”


“Good, Heyes.  That’s all I need to know.”  For Heyes to admit he needed help was a huge step in the right direction.  It really was enough.  Curry took a sip of tea and let his gaze roam about the small side canyon they had camped in.


“Look!”  The Kid pointed to the opposite side of the canyon and up a ways.   There on a small ledge of rock, two thirds up the wall, was a small stone structure.  It was the size of a large steamer trunk and tucked back under the shadows of a slight overhang.  Curry could see it was not natural and had been man made.  It reminded him of the stone house he and Heyes had stayed in that awful night a couple of weeks ago.  


“I can’t see it, Kid.  My eyes are too blurry.  What is it?”


“It looks like one of those ruins only smaller.”


“Is it far?  Can we walk to it?


The Kid could tell Heyes wanted to see it bad, so he set down his tea, took Heyes’ from his and led the way over to the side of the canyon.  It was an easy climb to the small structure and they were there in minutes.  They had to crouch way over to fit under the overhang and the Kid crawled in first in case there were rattlers about.  Snakes hid from the heat of the day in cool places and it paid to be careful even early in the day.   


“What do you see?” said Heyes, pushing at his back.  “C’mon, move over so I can see.”


Smiling at his partner’s curiosity, he moved aside and Heyes crawled to the stacked stones.  “There’s no door.  It must some kind of storage.  Look, that stone, there, it’s different from the others.”  Heyes reached up and tugged at the stone and it came out easily.  Grinning at him, he went to reach in, but stopped suddenly and scooped up a handful of pebbles and tossed them in.  Listening for a rattle, neither partner heard a sound.


“No snakes.  That’s good.”  Curry watched him pull down several more stones.  It was good to see Heyes excited.  Last night, he’ been lower than he’d had ever seen him.  If Heyes was going to be impaired, it would take all of his resourcefulness to keep his cousin’s spirits up.  This was a good start.  


Heyes had made an opening large enough to poke his head into. “There’s an old crock in here!  It’s got a lid on it.  Help me pull away more of these stones,” said Heyes happily.  Side by side, the two worked away enough stones so they could pull out the crock.  The Kid reached in and carefully helped Heyes drag the old stoneware out.  It was big, almost two feet in diameter and height and was sealed with what looked like pitch.  Pressed into the pitch was a bundle of long colored feathers and bits of stone and turquoise.  Neither man had ever seen anything like it.  The feathers were from a large bird judging by the length of the, and were in faded colors of blue, gold and red.   “There aren’t any birds like these in the West and it’s old, real old.”  It was plain Heyes was thoroughly intrigued.  “Should we open it?”


“May as well, I’m pretty sure the owner is long gone,” said Curry with a grin.  “You do it.”


With a huge smile, Heyes gently pulled at the pitchy substance sealing the lid to the pot.  He carefully pried at it, not wanting to break the pottery.  It was a work of art.  The vessel was made by hand using coils of clay.  Pressed into the ropey layers were little tiny impressions as decorations sealing the layers together.  He chuckled happily.  Lifting the pot, the two partners peered in heads together.  “Corn.  It’s corn!” said the Kid.  “It’s somebody’s cache.”


Heyes, reached into the corn gingerly.  Pulling out a handful, he smelled it.  “It’s real old and dusty, but it’s corn!”  He laughed and kicked his feet in pleasure.  


“Is it edible?” asked the Kid which sent Heyes into gales of laughter.


OOOOOOOOOOO


Heyes set the last of the stones back in place and crawled out to where the Kid was waiting.  He had used a couple of matches to reseal the pitch as best he could and had carefully tucked the crock back into the cache.  They had all the food they needed.  Heyes wouldn’t risk eating something so old as this corn, despite loathing horsemeat, but he knew someday it might mean the difference between life and death for someone else so he had carefully rebuilt the stone cache.  


Curry had sat back to relax.  He enjoyed watching Heyes at work on a task.  This is what drove Heyes, learning something new or figuring out a plan.  As he had this thought he realized what had been so hard on his cousin, so much of their quest for amnesty was an endless grind of riding from town to town trying to drum up enough work to eat.  When they’d had the gang, Heyes had always had something to work on; a new plan, fixing up the Hole or keeping the boys from killing each other.   There wasn’t much he could do about it, but it made him feel better to think Heyes was more bored than regretting the amnesty.


Heyes came over and sat next to him with a grin on his face.  “There must’ve been people living here, or at least passing through these canyons a lot, a real long time ago.  I wonder if it was this dry or different.   I wonder if the people who stored the corn were the folks who left the hand prints.  It’s like they’re here, helping us through.” 


“Yep, and I bet they didn’t have an easy time of it either, but it looks like they kept at it.”


Heyes nodded at the gentle rebuke, “I can’t promise I won’t get low from time to time, but I do promise to let you know when I’m getting there.  All right?”


“Works for me.”


“I never saw anything like this on my last trip through--just the handprints.  I wonder how many more caches there are in these canyons?” 


His enthusiasm was music to Curry’s ears.  He knew if his partner’s mind was busy all was well.  Rising, he extended a hand and helped Heyes up.   “C’mon, partner, the only way to find out is to ride on out of here.  The day’s heatin’ up, we’d better get goin'.”

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:29 pm

LINDY


Chapter Eleven

It had taken longer than planned to round up the hobbled horses sheltering further up the side canyon.  They’d obstinately refused to leave having found some succulent young grasses.  Curry loaded up the rider-less horse with most of their gear to give their own horses a break.  He carefully centered the load on either side of the saddle.  Finally, they were mounted and ready to move on.  Heyes led the way out of the canyon with him following behind and leading their ‘new’ pack horse.   He wanted to keep an eye on Heyes from where he wouldn’t see what he was doing.

The topography was changing and they were leaving the classic desert environment of cacti, yucca and sage.  The vegetation was giving way to a more barren, rocky vista.  The canyon was not only broadening out but it was becoming drier and more forbidding.  The Kid asked Heyes about this, concerned at the changing landscape but he assured him they would find water and insisted they were going the right way.  This didn’t reassure him much as he knew his partner was struggling with periodic confusion.  

Heyes remembered a spring-fed pond beyond the exit from the canyons.  It wasn’t much, a puddle really, but it was water in a barren land.  They couldn’t be far now.  He sure hoped they weren’t.  He had to keep urging his horse to go on, spurring it gently but almost constantly.  The animal was tired, hot, and underfed.  It was starting to resent the endless wandering and swished its tail constantly in a show of irritation.  

Noon passed, but the day continued to get hotter.  Heyes pulled his watch from his pocket, but he couldn’t see the hands even holding it within inches of his nose.  “Kid, I can’t see this damn thing, what time is it?”  The Kid leaned over to read the watch he held out.  “It’s 2:20.  Why do you ask?” 

“Just curious.”  Heyes was more than curious, he was tired again and feeling the heat.  He knew this was often the hottest part of the day in these parts and didn’t really expect it to start to cool until after suppertime.  He needed to stop.  God, he hated being so fragile, but he hated the seizures more and he could feel his muscles tightening.  Maybe he could tough this one out?  No, the last thing he needed was falling off his horse again and it was likely to happen.  “I’ve got to stop.  I feel a spell coming on.”

Kid’s stomach dropped but he nodded and smiled at Heyes.  “Sure, there’s a small spot of shade over there,” and he led the way knowing Heyes wouldn’t be able to spot it.  They were nearly to the slight outcropping when he heard Heyes pull up and jump off his horse.  He turned back and saw Heyes backing away from the alarmed animal.  He was wind-milling his arms and moving jerkily.  Curry leapt out of his saddle and ran back to him, but stopped short.  He now knew it was better not to try to hold him down.  Heyes looked at him desperately, abject fear in his eyes, but then it was gone and blankness took over.  Heyes fell to the ground and rolled, tearing at his clothes, the sage, and anything within grasp of his hands.  The Kid had to look away, he couldn’t bear to watch.  

It was over quickly, much faster than the last one, and Curry sent a silent word of thanks to a God he wasn’t sure he believed in anymore.  Heyes lay still, panting in the hot sand.  His eyes were closed and he appeared unconscious.  Pulling a canteen from his saddle, the Kid grabbed the horses’ reins led them both close to where Heyes lay.  He tied them to opposite shrubs creating a bit of intermittent shade.  Kneeling at his partner’s side, he gently rolled him onto his back.  He was semi-conscious.  He lifted him up and held the canteen to his lips but couldn’t get him to swallow.  The Kid tried to take a swig from the canteen and realized it was empty.  He stood and went to his horse.  All of his canteens were empty.  He knew Heyes had one with a little water left in it, so reaching over to his horse he shook the first canteen and then pulled it off.  This time he successfully managed to get a few swallows into his partner.  Heyes coughed and moaned but kept his eyes closed.  “Heyes, wake up.  I’ve got to get you to some shade.  Wake up.”  Heyes groaned and twisted his head away, but he didn’t wake.  

Setting the canteen aside, Curry stood up and grabbed Heyes’ legs.  He dragged him to the shade of a rock outcropping.  There was enough room for the two of them, but the horses would have to stand out in the sun.  He noticed the animals were so tired they stood with their heads down, uninterested in feeding, miserably enduring the heat.  They had all lost weight, as had he and Heyes, and their coats were dulled with dehydration and the bleaching of the sun.  He wondered listlessly if they would make it, if any of them would.  

Heyes stirred a while later and opened his eyes.  He didn’t move, just opened his eyes and stared. The blankness was still in his eyes.  The Kid reached out and waved a hand in front of him.  Nothing.  Worried, he rolled onto his knees and shook Heyes.  Still nothing.  It wasn’t as though he was blind.  If he were only blind, he would’ve reacted to the slight breeze he’d created waving his hand.  This was like the morning he couldn’t wake Heyes.  He wondered whether it had been a seizure, too, but they hadn’t known it at the time.  Sitting back, he sat and waited.  Eventually, he saw Heyes blink and begin to focus.  He let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding and quietly said, “Hey.  C’mon, time to wake up.”  

Heyes didn’t say anything.  He had no strength to so he sighed deeply.  He wanted to keep up a good attitude; he knew he needed to for both their sakes, but it was so hard.  He felt like a freak.  How was he going to deal with this?  It was bad enough having the Kid see him in this state he didn’t want anyone else to see him like this.

Curry could see the sadness and loneliness in his cousin’s eyes.  Heyes was a proud man and this was an awful trial for him.  “We’re almost out of water.  We’ve got to keep moving.  I’m going to put you up on your horse and tie you on.”

Heyes nodded, but stayed silent.

“I’ll get the horses.”

It was a struggle, but he got Heyes mounted.  Since he was too weak to be un-cooperative, Kid was taking no chances and he tied Heyes on.   He hated doing it, but he had to.  Heyes’ sub-consciousness couldn’t be relied on to keep him upright and another fall could do him in.  Grasping the reins, Kid led the horses on foot, in a line, one tied to the other.  He knew this wasn’t safe, but he was too tired to hang onto three horses.  He was exhausted, too, but he knew the animals would last longer if he used them wisely.  

He plodded on for hours until he stumbled and nearly fell to the ground.  He realized he had been literally asleep on his feet and had traveled some distance without knowing it.  Had he missed a turn?  He looked up at Heyes who was leaning over the front of his horse, held only by the ties holding him on.  He reached up and pushed him back into his saddle.  Gazing around, he saw they were at the mouth of the canyons.  Somehow he’d managed to stay on track.  Maybe Heyes had been right.  Maybe they had a spirit guide like the Indians believe.  Whatever it was, he was grateful.  They couldn’t rely on Heyes’ instincts anymore.

Beyond them the canyon gave way to a broad, barren expanse of land punctuated by several huge monoliths of slickrock rising from the ground.  It was an amazing sight.  He scanned the horizon trying to decide on a direction when he saw movement in the distance.  He headed in that way leading his partner and the horses behind him.

It seemed to take forever, but eventually he could make out a scraggly herd of cows on the horizon.  He knew cows on the desert would hang out at a water source never getting too far away from it.  It soon became apparent the horses smelled water and he mustered enough strength to pull at their reins.  Heyes was still out cold and bounced around with the movement of his horse.  

The waterhole was a muddy mess.  The cattle wallowed around the edges and lay in the murky water.  Their hooves had churned up the edges and they’d polluted the water with their droppings.  No matter, it was the most beautiful sight he’d had ever seen.  He held onto Heyes’ horse and let the other two rush into the water on their own.  They sank and struggled in the mud, but the horses were soon drinking.  He tugged at the reins and rushed into the cool mud himself, keeping one hand on Heyes to steady him as the horse struggled in the quagmire.  Reaching the edge of the water, he fell down and allowed the water to soak his clothes.  He lay there for quite a while gathering his remaining strength before standing and untying Heyes.  He pulled him off dunking him under the water.  Heyes came up sputtering and waving his arms, wide-eyed and looking at Kid.  Without a word, he started laughing and splashing water.  The Kid splashed back and for a few minutes they played like the children they’d once been.  Tired, they finally crawled out of the muddy water and lay in the sun drying.  The mud on their clothes stiffened as they fell asleep.  

The Kid awoke to the sound of a gun hammer clicking back.  His eyes shot opened as his hand reached for his gun but the holster was empty and he was looking into the mouth of a .45 aimed at his face.  On the other end of the gun was a smiling man.  “Easy now, partner, no need to get nervous, I’m a real cautious type.”  The sandy-haired cowboy looked down on him.  Behind him, Curry saw two other cowboys tensely backing up their friend.  

He slid his hands up slowly and nudged Heyes with his foot.  “You startled me.  No harm done.  Joshua?  Wake up, we’ve got company.”  

Heyes moaned and rolled over, “What?  Huh?” Opening his eyes, he too, got a close up view of the cowpoke’s weapon.  “Great, just great.”  He closed his eyes again.  

The cowboy laughed at his reaction and holstered his gun.  He held his hand out to help the Kid up. “I’m Mike Conroy and this here’s Walter Kent and Vance Randall.  We’re from the Lazy Bar C.  I gotta say, we were surprised to find the two of you wallowing with our herd.” 

The Kid grinned back at him. “We can’t afford to be picky about the company we keep, we’ve been wanderin’ those canyons for almost a week now.”  

The cowboys stared at him in shock.  Vance said, “You came through the canyons?  Brother, you’re a lucky man.  Not many people make it out of there alive.”  

Walter spoke up suspiciously, “What were you doing in there in the first place?”  He’d noticed the tied down guns and was leery.  Outlaws were known to frequent the maze of canyons from time to time.

Heyes spoke up, his eyes closed against the sun beating down on him.  “We were chasing a couple of heifers; made the stupid mistake of following ‘em down a game trail.  They lost us soon enough and, after a couple of turns, we were lost ourselves.  Luck was on our side, I guess.”

“What about the third horse?” 

“Our buddy didn’t make it.”  Heyes’ poker face gave nothing away.
 
“You don’t look so good.  You hurt?” asked Walt.  

The Kid answered, “My partner took a nasty fall.  He’s got a bad concussion.”

They relaxed.  They could handle one gunnie, if that’s what they were, and the other sure looked like he’d be no trouble at all.  You couldn’t fake that white of a face.  “Well, come on then.  We set up camp while you two were dozing.  Coffee’s on and there’s enough stew if you’re hungry.”

Curry’s smile broadened.  “Oh, we’re hungry all right.”

“You wouldn’t have a little extra feed for our horses, would you?  We’ve pushed them hard, and I’d be much obliged if you could spare some,” said Heyes, rousing.

Walt approved of the question.   A man who worried about his stock, was a decent man in his eyes.  He nodded.  “We’ve already seen to your horses.  They’re dozing over there.” He gestured to where the three exhausted horses were standing with their heads down.

Heyes stood up with Kid’s help and swayed slightly before smiling at the three cowboys.  “Let’s eat.  I don’t ever want to see another piece of jerky as long as I live!” 

OOOOOOOOOO

Almost immediately after finishing his stew, Heyes had moved away from the fire and fallen into a deep sleep.  His snores were now interrupting the conversation at regular intervals.  The Kid told the three men about their trip through the canyon.  Heyes had always said when you made up a story use as much of the truth as you can so he them about the handprints, finding the granary, everything he could think of to distract them from the truth.  The cowboys had peppered him with questions about the canyons.  They’d lived their whole lives on this side of them and had learned at an early age to avoid them.  He was tired now as were his companions and the conversation was winding down.  “Guess I’ll join Joshua in some shut-eye.  Thanks, boys, for a great meal.  You have no idea how good that tasted.”  He stood up and the cowboys wished him a good night.

OOOOOOOOOO

At dawn, the cowboys were ready to leave.  They’d only ridden out to check on the herd and were due back at the ranch around noon.  The Kid and Heyes woke early with the activity stirring around them, and whispered quietly together.  “Heyes, we could ride back to the ranch with them.  Walt already offered.  You could rest up a bit.” 

“No.  Tell them I feel too sick to go any further.”  He could have ridden on, but he didn’t want to be around strangers.  He was too self-conscious about his spells and wanted to be alone with his partner.  

“All right, if that’s what you want.  Maybe they’ll leave us a bit of stew.”  

The cowboys did more than that.  They generously supplied the partners with a small tent they carried in case of rain so Heyes could have shade as well as feed for their horses and some stew for the two men.  The Kid thanked them profusely, but Mike told him the story he’d told last night was payment enough.  They wished Joshua well, said their goodbyes to Thaddeus, and mounting their horses rode away.  Curry watched them disappear from sight.  Heyes was dozing again.  Just as well, he thought as he stoked the fire to begin purifying water for their canteens. 

When Heyes woke a half an hour later, he said he was ready to go. 

“Feelin’ better?” 

“Yep, that little extra bit of sleep must’ve put me right.  I think we should head for Dolores.  I’d like to see the same doctor.  He seemed pretty good.”  He knew the Kid would take him up on his willingness to see a doctor since he usually avoided them like a plague.  He wanted to cut off any talk about following the cowboys’ trail to the ranch.  It worked.

“I’m almost done filling the canteens.  You start packing up and we’ll head to Dolores.

He grinned at his partner feeling slightly guilty for the deception.  There was no need for guilt, the Kid knew exactly what he’d done.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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PostSubject: Re: Lindy   Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:43 pm

LINDY


Chapter Twelve

Heyes snugged down his bedroll and tucked their old dented coffee pot into his saddlebag and tightened the straps.  There, that was the last of it.  He was ready to head to Dolores.  He looked over at the Kid who was dousing the fire with muddy water.  

“What are you doing that for?” 

“I always douse the flames.” 

“But there isn’t anything to burn here.  Look around, we’re in the middle of nowhere.” 

“Don’t matter, I always douse the fire.”

Heyes shook his head and mounted his horse as the Kid stood and wiped his hand on his pants and folded up the canvas bucket he’d hauled the water to the fire in.  He then tucked it between his bedroll and the skirt of his saddle, tying the backstraps down tightly.  Patting his horse on the shoulder, he reached for a hank of mane and stepped down on his stirrup to swing up into his saddle.

“All right, let’s go.”

Heyes nudged his horse into a slow jog and headed south.  The Kid held his horse back and watched him jog away a few hundred yards and then yelled, “We’re not going that way, Heyes.”

He saw his partner slide his horse to a stop and he could tell by the set of Heyes’ shoulders he was surprised.  The Kid smiled.  This was going to be fun.

Loping back, Heyes stopped.  “What are you talking about?  Dolores is that way.”  He pointed south.

“Yep, it is.” 

“So, we’re headed that way.” 

“Nope.  We’re headed that way.”  Curry pointed north.

“Kid, Dolores is to the south.”  Heyes was getting irritated.

“Yep, it is.”

Heyes turned his horse and walked south.

“You’re going the wrong way.” 

Heyes wheeled his horse around and came back.

“Are you soft in the head?” 

“Nope.  That’d be you.” 

“Ha, very funny.  Now let’s go,” said Heyes turning the poor horse again.

“I ain’t going that way, Heyes, and neither are you.”

“What the hell are you talking about?  We’re going to Dolores.  You agreed Dolores is that way and now you say you’re going north?” challenged Heyes angrily.

“Yep.” 

“Might I ask why?” asked Heyes scathingly.

“Sure.” 

Gritting his teeth until his jaw popped, Heyes ground out, “Why?”

“’Cause we’re going that way.”  Curry pointed north again.

“We agreed to go to Dolores,” yelled Heyes.  He was getting a bit red in the face.

“Yep.  We did.” 

“Cut it out!”  

Yep, definitely red in the face.  Curry knew he shouldn’t take this much further since his friend really wasn’t well, but it was wear Heyes down or an all-out fight and, truthfully, he simply couldn’t resist.

“Cut what out?” 

“You know what--agreeing with me.”

“You want me to disagree with you?”

“I want you to shut up and follow me to Dolores.” 

“Nope.  I can’t do that, because we’re not going that way.”

“We’re not?” said Heyes, realizing this was not going to go well for him.

“Nope, we’re going this way to Moab.” 

“Moab.  I don’t want to go to Moab.  I told you I wanted to see the doctor in Dolores.” 

“Yeah, you want to go to Dolores because it’s four days away and not a day or so away, right?” 

Heyes was silent. 

 “You knew if you agreed to go to the doctor, I wouldn’t push you to go to the ranch and rest up, right?”

Heyes wasn’t going to admit it.  “Fine.  You want to ride into Moab, we’ll ride into Moab.  All you had to do was say so, Kid.”  He headed north at a jog, and Kid fell in behind him with a wide grin.

About an hour later, they were riding side by side when Heyes spoke up.  “I was thinking.  Maybe we should pass by Moab and ride on up to Ouray.  You know, there’s a chance Lindy made her way out and Moab’s the first place she’d go.  The sheriff worries me, too.  We don’t know who he is or where he’s from, could be Moab.   Could be all the sheriffs around here have heard we’re in these parts.” 

Kid looked at Heyes and saw the unspoken desperation in his eyes. “You and I have to talk.”

Heyes had been expecting an argument so he was ready, “Talk?  We’ve been talking for a week now, Kid, I’m all talked out.”

“Well, I ain’t, so you listen.  I know what you’re doing.  You don’t want to go into town in case you have another spell and you don’t want to see a doctor, because you ain’t sure you’re going to like what he tells you.  So you figured if you got me to ride to Dolores, you’d have three more days to weasel your way out of getting there.”

“That’s not true, Kid.  I think it’s too risky…” Heyes began.

“Risky?  Are you kidding me?  Now you’re worried about risks?  What about riding off into the desert alone, sick and not thinking right?  Wasn’t that risky?  Oh right, I forgot, you didn’t care about whether or not you died.  So why are you worried about risks now?” 

Heyes’ jaw was clenched again.  He was looking straight ahead off in the distance towards Moab.  

“Like it or not, you’re seeing the doctor tomorrow and I ain’t taking no for an answer, do you hear me?” 

“Don’t try to tell me…”

“I said I wasn’t taking no for answer!”

“All right!  Geez, you can be so damned pig-headed sometimes.” 

“We’ll go in early before anyone is up and we’ll get a hotel room.  I have a little money left and so do you, enough for a couple of nights.  We can order up baths and we’ll order in food.  I’ll wire Lom and ask for a loan.  He’ll help us out.  You don’t have to see anyone until you’re ready.”  

“Fine.  What else can I say?  If I say no you’re going to flatten me, right?” 

“Yep, and don’t get any ideas about riding off again.  I’m watching for it now and I’ll tie you up if I have to and haul you into town across your horse.”

Heyes glared at him, furious the Kid had known what he was thinking.

The partners rode on until late afternoon, when Curry declared he was hungry and they were going to stop for the night.  It was important Heyes didn’t overtax himself and he could tell he was tiring.  He had noticed the seizures occurred most often after Heyes had pushed himself too hard, so he planned for this to be a real easy trip.  Heyes started sass him about being so bossy, but he gave him the stink-eye and he quickly shut up.

That night, they had a hot meal of tinned stew from the supplies the cowboys had given them and sat out under the stars sipping coffee.  Heyes savored the taste of it.  He was nervous about tomorrow, but knew he had no choice.  He had to get it over with or he’d be avoiding towns and doctors for the rest of his life.  He leaned back onto his saddle and stared at the night sky wishing he could clearly see the multitude of stars overhead, but he couldn’t.  It was a clear night and a bit chilly. The nights were cooler here as the elevation was much higher than the canyons had been.  He sighed deeply.

The Kid wasn’t unsympathetic to his fears, but he knew he had to push, drag or pull his partner to a doctor.  Whatever the outcome, they both needed to know what was going to happen.  

“I’m sorry for trying to fool you earlier.” 

“It’s okay, Heyes.  I know this is hard on you.” 

Heyes snorted at the understatement.

“Look, whatever the doc says, I’ll be there for you.”

“Yeah, I know and I appreciate it.  You’re the best partner I could ask for.  It’s just…..Kid.  I….damn it!  I don’t want to be dependent on anyone.  I’ve stood on my own two feet my whole life and I can’t stand the idea I might be this weak and pathetic for the rest of it.”

He looked at Heyes in amazement.  “You’ve been riding around all over hell and back with a head injury.  You were supposed to be lying in a bed and resting, yet you’ve ridden through the ugliest, most god-forbidden land in this country.  You led all of us on a wild goose chase some of us didn’t survive and, yet, here you are telling me you’re weak?  You might be crazy, but you ain’t weak, Heyes!” 

Heyes took his eyes off the stars for a second and looked at his best friend with a sad smile.  He reached out and squeezed Kid’s shoulder and said, “Thanks.  I’m just not looking forward to this.”

“I know you’re not, but it’s got to be done.” 

OOOOOOOOOO

During the night,  Heyes suffered another seizure.  The Kid woke up and saw him thrashing about.  The seizure was brief and milder than the previous ones and Heyes didn’t wake up so he let him sleep.  If he didn’t know, he wasn’t about to tell him.  It looked to him like maybe the spells were lessening, but he was too afraid he might be wrong to say anything.  He didn’t want to get his partner’s hopes up.  He thought back to their conversation last night.  He knew Heyes was afraid, more afraid than he’d ever seen him, and so was he.  He couldn’t imagine going through what Heyes had been through in the last couple of weeks.  He wasn’t at all sure, if it had been him, he would’ve have made it.  He hated to see his partner suffering and he hated not being able to do anything about it.  He was worried about the future, too, but knew he’d stand by Heyes, he was sure of it.  

Heyes wasn’t even aware the seizure had happened.  He simply woke up in the morning more tired than he’d been when he went to bed.   It was after dawn and the Kid wanted to get a move on and so did he.  It was time to get this over with, so he dragged himself out of his bedroll and went to help his partner break camp.

OOOOOOOOOO

Kid Curry stepped out of the telegraph office folding a bundle of money he slipped into his wallet.  Good old Lom had wired him enough money for Heyes to rest up for quite a while and had sent a note to tell them to stay as long as necessary and to wire for more if they needed it.  Lom was going to wire the sheriff and let him know Smith and Jones worked for him.  The Kid had thoroughly checked out the town for signs of Lindy or the big sheriff.  There weren’t any.  

Heyes was now sleeping in the hotel room and had been all day.  They’d ridden in at dawn and awakened the desk clerk at the hotel.  At their request and, a dollar tip, he’d given them a corner front room and promised them a bath within the next hour. Heyes had soaked for a long time.  He’d sat nearby cleaning his gun and making sure his partner didn’t fall asleep in the tub.  He’d thought it would be like Heyes to survive all the odds against a brain injury and being lost in the desert only to drown in a bathtub.

Kid crossed the street and walked down the boardwalk to the doctor’s office.  A small bell over the door rang as he entered, and the doctor emerged from the back room.    

“Good day, sir, can I help you?  I’m Dr. Hutchins” said the kindly gray-haired man.

“My partner’s laid up at the hotel.  He has a head injury and we’ve been out on the trail for a week or so.  Can you take a look at him?” 

The doctor agreed and quickly packed up his medical bag and followed him to the hotel.

OOOOOOOOOO

“C’mon, Joshua, wake up.  The Doc’s here.  That’s it, c’mon.”  Curry gently shook him but he was having a hard time waking up and the doctor observed him closely as he began to stir.

“Has he been hard to awaken?  Has he had any trouble with his vision, headaches, confusion?” 
“Yes.”.

“Yes, what?  Which symptoms?” 

“All of them.  A few others, too,”

“Like what?” asked the doctor, shocked by the Kid’s answer.

“He got pretty irritable for a while and he had trouble with his muscles but it passed.  He’s having seizures, though, pretty regularly when he’s tired.  What’s it mean, Doc?”

Heyes opened his eyes, having heard this part of the conversation and interested in the answer.

“It means he’s a very lucky man.” 

“Lucky, how do you figure that?” asked Heyes, drawing their attention to him.

“You’re lucky to be alive, Mr. Smith.  With all those symptoms you most certainly should be dead if you rode around with a severe concussion.”

“My partner’s too stubborn to let me die, Doc.  Believe me, I tried hard to,” said Heyes with a grin.

Curry smiled back at his cousin and patted his shoulder.  “What about now, Do?.  Will he keep having the seizures?  And what about his eyes?” 

“Time will tell.  I really don’t know if the damage is permanent.  Since you’ve been improving there’s a very good chance you will continue to improve but I can’t promise you it will all go away completely.  You must rest.  No excuses, I don’t want him to get out of this bed for at least a week.  Do you both understand?” 

“Yes, I’ll see he stays put if I have to chain him to the bed,” vowed Kid Curry.

“Good.  Mr. Smith, I am leaving you some laudanum for the pain.  Take it twice a day, three times if the headache gets worse.  It will make you sleepy, but sleep is what you need.  I will be back to check on you tomorrow.  Good day, sirs.”

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes refused to take the prescribed laudanum the first day.  Dr. Hutchins came to check on him after breakfast the next morning and asked him if the laudanum had helped.   He told the doctor it was helping a lot, right in front of the Kid who raised his eyebrows at the bald-faced lie.  

The doctor was nobody’s fool and simply picked up the bottle and said, “I think not.  You can take it now while I’m here.”  Heyes stubbornly refused saying it made him sick.  “Suit yourself.  If you don’t want to follow medical advice it’s your problem.”

That night, he suffered another seizure.  The Kid woke and waited silently for it to pass.  Once it was over, he got up without saying a word, poured out a dose of laudanum for his partner and handed it to him.  Heyes took it without hesitation.

The rest of the week passed uneventfully for the partners.  The doctor returned twice after the Kid the assured him Joshua had learned his lesson and was now regularly taking the medication.  It had been a godsend as Heyes was kept too sleepy to fuss about his confinement.  By Friday morning, he was much improved and had been given the go ahead by to get up and try short jaunts around town.  The doctor warned him not to drink alcohol for at least another week and to turn in early and get plenty of rest.  Heyes didn’t suffer another seizure and began cutting back on the laudanum.   

This morning, he begged the Kid to go to the town’s only saloon for a couple of hours.  He was bored and he knew the saloon was likely to be the liveliest place in town.  Curry agreed, pleased his partner wanted to be out in public, but he made Heyes promise to listen when he called it a day.  

Moab had first been settled at the direction of the Mormon Church.  It had been abandoned for a while and recently re-settled by a more diverse group of folks.  The saloon was tolerated as necessary entertainment for the less pious part of the population.

Curry entered the saloon first and checked out the room.  He was extra protective of Heyes right now and wasn’t taking any chances with him.  Heyes followed him in and they went to stand at the bar.  The Kid ordered a beer and a sarsaparilla for Heyes.  This drew a laugh from the barkeep, who asked, “What, ain’t he old enough to drink?”  Heyes reddened but Curry stared coldly at the barkeep who felt a chill go down his spine.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it.  Here, this round’s on the house.   The name’s Dan.  Are you two new in town?” 

Kid nodded and passed Heyes his drink. “We’ve been here for a little over a week, but my partner’s been laid up over at the hotel.”  Heyes had turned around, ignoring the barkeep, and was studying the action at the poker tables.

“Gee.  I’m really sorry I was so smart-mouthed; I didn’t know.”  

Heyes turned back and said, “It’s all right.  There’s nothing I’d like better than a cold beer, but doctor’s orders.”  

“Have you fellas met the sheriff yet?” asked Dan.  Kid gulped in the middle of a sip.  

Heyes’ full attention was on the bartender now.  “Why would the sheriff want to meet us?” 

“He’s been making a point of introducing himself to all the strangers in town because of the bank robbery a few weeks ago.”

Crap, thought Heyes.  His erstwhile gang had gone through with it.  He quickly realized it was probably to his advantage.  The outlaws would be long gone by now.  “The sheriff already knows we’re here.  We work for a sheriff out of Porterville who sent an introduction to him.  Tell me about the robbery.  Who did it?” His head was starting to hurt with all the tenseness he was feeling.  His face paled and the Kid noticed.  He was ending this little outing as soon as he finished his beer.

“No one knows.  A bunch of unknown outlaws most likely from Robber’s Roost is the sheriff’s best guess.  It was the most excitement we’ve had around here in a long time.  There were seven of them.  The idiots put too much dynamite under the safe and blew the whole thing through the back wall of the bank, killed two of their own men waiting in the alley!  The other robbers panicked and left town without a dime.”  Dan laughed as he wiped the counter.

Heyes paled even further now.  The Kid put down his beer and tossed down a dollar down on the bar.  “Keep the change, Dan.  Joshua’s not looking too good.  I think it’s time for him to go back and lie down.  We’ll see you around town.” 

OOOOOOOOOOOO

The boys stayed in Moab for two more weeks.  Heyes got the rest he needed.  He had headaches from time to time and had a bit of trouble seeing those poker cards if he got too tired, but the seizures had stopped after his first week of rest and he knew he’d be fine.

They’d kept in touch with Lom and he had wired them yesterday about a possible job in Denver delivering some legal papers for a prominent lawyer who was a friend of the Wyoming governor.  It would be an easy job for Heyes so they took it.  The Kid packing up the room and checking them out of the hotel while Heyes went and saddled up the horses.  

Heyes was finishing up when his partner arrived with their saddlebags slung over his shoulder.  Curry tossed his up behind his saddle and tied it down tightly before handing Heyes his bags.  He took them, opened one pocket, and dug into it. “Did you get my book?  It was sitting on the side table.”

“I got it, Heyes, but we’ve got a new rule.”

Heyes looked up at him.

“No more reading and riding.”


The End

Notes:  The canyons described are real and are called the Maze.  They are located in the west side of Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah.  The entire area is littered with old Ancient Puebloan ruins.  The Maze was frequented from time to time by outlaws many of whom disappeared in the canyons never to be seen again.  The Waterhole is still there, too.

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