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 The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals

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PostSubject: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:51 am

It's the start of another month and the year's halfway over already?  Where has it gone?  We have a doozy for you this month.  Chosen by InsideOutlaw, we have a great one which is bound to prod bunnies.   albino  We invite you to give us your take on:


  Embarassed  The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   affraid  




Your story can be about loving a bad boy (and who doesn't?), fallen women, crooked worthies, or even cheating married folks.  I'm sure you can come up with even more twists on that too.


Don't forget we have many late entries last month, so don't forget to finish up your comments as they are the ony thanks our writers get.      
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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:15 am

This one fits the prompt, so I thought I'd use it to kick off the month

Denver Is A Likeable Town


'Oh, Hilary!  It was just the most romantic night of my life!'

The young woman leaned closer to her friend.  'Tell me everything, Emmeline; I want to hear every detail.'

Emmeline clasped her hands and held them to her chest as she cast wistful blue eyes skywards.

'He was so raw and manly.  The strong, silent type with amazing blue eyes... I've never met a better listener.  Not ever.  He hung on my every word.'

Hilary clattered her teacup in the saucer.  'Oh, you're so lucky.  I know that my Bill just pretends to listen to me half the time.  What did you talk about?'

'Just about everything.  The books I like to read, my favourite dresses, my watercolours...  He adored my poems.  He sat back with his eyes closed and drank them right in.  He even agreed with me about the seating plan for the wedding.  I knew that I was right!  I'm going to put my foot down when Robert gets back.  If I'm moving to Denver with him I have to let him know that I won't be pushed around.'

Hilary looked deeply into her teacup.  'You're so lucky.  What about your Robert though?  Didn't you feel guilty?'

Emmeline pouted prettily.  'I didn't do any harm.  Robert chose to take a business trip with my father instead of staying here with me.  I wanted him to help me choose the wedding stationary.  I was lonely and it's his fault that I needed to be comforted.  I was terribly upset and little he cared about it.  What’s a girl to do?'

Hilary gave a little moue to mask the judgmental frown that crept across her alabaster face.  'So, what did you do with the staff?'

'I gave them the night off.  With Father away on business with Robert, Jed and I had the place to ourselves,' she smiled triumphantly.  'I made dinner.'

'You cooked for him?' a look of amazement swept across Hilary's face.  'You?'

'Yes.  It was wonderful!  He took one bite and he swept me up in his arms.  My cooking and the candlelight drove him mad with passion.  Oh Hilary, I've never met anyone like him.'

'Emmeline....?  I have to ask you this.  Did he stay the night?'

Emmeline bridled slightly.  'We went out for a long moonlight walk.  We talked, we kissed, we laughed... we wandered until dawn.  The night just flew by.  It was so special.  I'll remember him for the rest of my life.'

'So?' Hillary asked archly.  'Are you going to see him again?'

Emmeline sat bolt upright and clipped the table crisply with bottom her teacup.  'Don't be ridiculous, Hillary; he's a saddle tramp!  He was a diversion, nothing more!  His income couldn't keep me in lace handkerchiefs.'

oooOOOooo

'Quit it,' snapped the Kid.

Heyes returned to his book and scanned a few pages before he tilted his head to the side, made an exaggerated gesture and stretched out an arm before pulling a shiny quarter from his partner's ear.

A hand shot out in a flash, grasping Heyes' fingers in an iron fist.  'I said, quit it!' the Kid dropped the hand, fixing a pair of menacing blue eyes on Heyes.  'You know, for a man clever enough to have outsmarted most of the lawmen he's ever met, you don't seem to be able to see that if you pull another coin out of any part of my body you'll end up with it rammed into one of yours.'

'Don't get proddy.  I'm just trying to keep myself occupied.  This is an interesting book.  You never know when sleight of hand could come in handy.'

The Kid gave a stretching yawn.  'Yeah?  Well I'm tired.  Real tired.  That was NOT my idea of a fun night.  When I got back to Devil's Hole I got only three hours sleep before the boys started havin' a shootin' competition.'

'I came back with you.  I never got any more sleep than you did,' Heyes replied innocently.

The Kid raised his eyebrows in disbelief.  'You didn't spend the night with no food, no rest and no peace, more to the point I had to entertain the most borin' woman on earth.  I ain't never met anyone so selfish in my life... and that’s sayin’ something.  I know you!'

'Kid, that's unfair.  She was keen on you and she was pretty... really pretty.'

'What's that saying about beauty bein' skin only deep?  If her personality was anythin' to go by she'd have a face like rusty doorknobs dropped into creamed corn.'

Heyes shook his head.  'Poor you.  You had dinner with a lovely woman, followed by a romantic walk in the moonlight, even a spot of fooling around.  I did the real work.  I had to break into the safe.'

'Dinner?  Yeah.  Real tasty.  She cooked it herself because she gave all the servants the night off.  She told me that it was only burned at the bottom.  Not that I could see it with all the lamps off.  What is it with rich women and candles?  Cushions and candles... I don't get it.  Do they like fires?'

'It couldn't have been that bad. Not if it was only burned at the bottom?'

The Kid ran a hand through his tousled hair.  'Burned at the bottom, raw on the top and potatoes like bullets.  I had a choice; eat it or kiss her.  At least kissin' her shut her up too, so I took the coward's way out.'


Heyes dropped his book on the table.  'She had to be kept busy so I could get into the safe.  It had to be done, Kid.  Maybe I should get someone else to romance the girl next time?'

Blue eyes glittered with determination.  'Yeah?  I could see her fallin' for Lobo. or Kyle!  She'd have loved Kyle.  Get him to do it next time.'

Heyes scowled, knowing that the Kid had called his bluff.  'It'll be worth it.  You kept her out of the house long enough for me to copy all the scheduled payrolls and their security arrangements for the next six months.  Rich picking's Kid, a good night's work.  Everything's back in the safe just the way it was so no-one even knows that we've seen it.'

'I deserve a bigger share, Heyes.  I did most of the work.'

Heyes stood up and swirled the coffee pot to test how much was still left inside.  'You'll get your reward in heaven, Kid.  Most crooks would have gone in there heavy handed.  You sweet-talked her into playin' along so doesn't even know what happened.  You gave her a real nice evening.'

'She's gettin' married.  Someone should warn the poor sap,' mused the Kid.  'But rich folks tend to get a bit surly if you tell them that you were sparkin' their women folk and found them wantin'.'

oooOOOooo

Heyes sucked in a great breath of Cripple Creek as he watched the Kid follow him out of the hotel into the caustic morning sunshine.  It had been quite a night; very entertaining, very drunken and very, very exhausting.  Nevertheless, they hauled their dehydrated frames out of bed and went in search of sustenance to fill their hollow bellies and caffeine to kick their misfiring synapses back into life.

'One hundred dollars apiece, eh, Heyes?  Was it worth it?'

‘The most high-class house in the state?  The girls sure don’t come cheap.’  Heyes gave an enigmatic grin.  'Sure was.  Didn't you think so?'

The Kid shook his head.  'I ain't sure that it was, but you gotta try everythin' in life once, I suppose.'

'Maybe even twice, just to be sure,' laughed Heyes, 'but we were celebrating.  We had to do something different.  It's been good times, Kid.  Real good times.  Lot of successful jobs.'   

'Breakfast!' announced the Kid.  'My stomach thinks my throat's been cut.'

'Yup.'

oooOOOooo

They arrived at the restaurant and glanced around in dismay at the crowded tables.  'Looks like everyone else had the same idea.'

The Kid gave a groan as his mouth watered and the savoury aromas tortured his squawking tummy. 'Is there anywhere else? 


I don't think I can wait, the smell of that bacon is drivin' me mad!' 

A harassed looking waitress bustled up to them and gave them a sympathetic look.  'We're full I'm afraid.  You can wait, but we're always like this on a Sunday Morning.  Folks come in after church,' she paused and eyed the two men up and down judgementally, 'or after a night out.'

'Where else is there? Kid had a hint of desperation in his voice. 

'Down the street,' she shook her head.  'It's not as good though.  That's why we're so busy.'

Heyes turned to go.  'Well, beggars can't be choosers, can they?'

'Well... there is one table.  You'd have to share.  No-one else wanted to, because of the smell.'

'Smell?' demanded the Kid.

'He's had a rough night.  Nobody else wants to share with him.  He's on his own, but at a table that would sit four,' she flicked up an eyebrow in enquiry.  'If you're desperate enough...?'

'That depends,' enquired Heyes.  'Just what do you mean by a 'rough night'?'

'Whiskey.  He positively reeks of it.  But I could serve almost right away.'

'Whiskey?  Nothin' else?' the Kid asked warily.

The waitress looked miffed.  'Gentlemen, if it was anything else we wouldn't let him in here!'

Their smiling eyes met in agreement before the nodded in unison.  Heaven knows they'd eaten around worse than a bad hangover over the years.

oooOOOooo


The man's face twitched slightly in welcome to the two strangers who approached the table.  The waitress certainly hadn't exaggerated the odour drifting from the man as he shovelled scrambled eggs on top of a biscuit and took a huge bite. 

The man's suit was unkempt, dusty and wrinkled but he had obviously seen better days from the good fabric and fine cut of his garments.

He nodded a rumpled head at them as he blinked red-rimmed, rheumy eyes at them.

The waitress started to hand out menus but stopped as the Kid held up a hand.  'The works and coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.'

'Good Morning,' the man said uncertainly, almost in question.

The partners nodded.  'Sure is,' Heyes threw him a knowing smile.  'Good night too.'

The man gave him a watery smile and blinked heavily shadowed eyes which he fought to keep open.  'Sorry for the mess gents.  I've been through a rough time recently.  This suit's seen better days.'

'Sorry to hear that,' Heyes replied and instantly regretted it as the stranger took it as an invitation to talk.

'Yeah,' the man shook his head ruefully.  'Money troubles, women troubles; you name it.  It's been hard times, real hard.'

'Well, at least you got a good breakfast to set you up for the day, eh?' Heyes added, cheerfully.  'That's got to be a good start.'

The man nodded in agreement.  'A real good breakfast.  You came to the right place gents.'

'So, what happened?  You sound like you've got quite a story,' The Kid jerked slightly and glared at Heyes in answer to the kick that found its mark under the table as the coffee arrived.

'Oooh, it's the old story.  Getting mixed up with the wrong woman; it can ruin a man.'


Kid poured out the coffee as he ignored Heyes' subtle cough.  He was interested even if Heyes wasn't. 

'Well, some women can be a lot of trouble.  A man's gotta be careful who he gets mixed up with,' the Kid pronounced wisely as Heyes gave a subtle snort of cynicism.

'Physician heal thyself,' Heyes muttered.

'What's that supposed to mean?' demanded the Kid.

'It means that you've had your fair share of tricky women yourself!' he gave the stranger a gentle smile.  'She rob you then?'

'Good heavens. No.  She was rich; very respectable in most ways, but she was flighty, spoiled and kind of selfish, I suppose.  I forgave her time after time but it just got too bad.  I was getting a name as a fool and a cuckold.  The last straw was one night when I was out of town on business with her father.  She packed off the servants so that she could be alone in the house with a man.  She thought that she could get away with it but servants talk. It was all over town.  I had to do something but when I challenged her, she went mad, throwing things, yelling and well... just behaving like a child really.  I told her the engagement was off and that's where my troubles really started.  Man, I really regretted moving to Denver then.

''Yeah?' the Kid asked guiltily.

'I worked for her father and had lodgings tied to my job.  Before the end of that week I was homeless, unemployed and facing a Breach of Promise action.'

The partners darted a look at one another.  'What did her father do?  For a living I mean?' asked Heyes hesitantly.

'He was the head of security of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway.  I was his assistant.'

Both men dropped their heads, suddenly unduly fascinated by the undulating mounds of their scrambled eggs.

'I'm sorry... real sorry.  I'm sure that there's a future for you,' the Kid tilted his head as his eyes glittered in empathy.

'Sorry? I've met the best girl I ever met in my life.  Margaret-Mary is stunning!  Raven, Irish hair and the bluest eyes you've ever seen in your life.  Poor as a church mouse but even on her worst day she's worth ten of Emmeline.'


Heyes smacked the Kid's back as he choked on his eggs at the mention of the name.

'Emmeline?  That was her name?  Quite unusual, huh?’ the Kid croaked.

'Yup.  If I could meet the man who was seen sneaking out of her house that night, I'd shake him by the hand!'

'That's remarkably gracious of you,' Heyes exclaimed in surprise, 'considering everything else that happened.'

'Oh, you don't know the half of it.  The legal case was a nightmare.  Breach of Promise can ruin a man.  No respectable family would let a man like that near their daughter. '

'I'm real sorry,' the Kid murmured.  'I'm sure that if you can get off the drink you can have a future with Margaret-Mary.'

'Drink?' the man shook his head in confusion as he started to laugh.  'I'm sorry; I think you've got the wrong end of the stick.  I don't have a drink habit.  I've been celebrating... and in style!'

The Kid looked almost afraid to ask.  'Celebrating?'

‘Yes.  The railroad has been hit by a whole spate of thefts over the last six months.  Emmeline's father has been unable to do anything about them so he's been sacked.  I've been offered his job.'

The stranger stood, wiping down the crumbs from his rumpled, slept-in suit before he tossed notes onto the table in payment.  'I'm now the head of security, Emmeline's family have dropped the legal case as they can't afford to pursue it and I've got the most wonderful woman in the world.  I can now treat her the way she deserves and I'll always know that she's with me, for me... and not my money or position.'  A grin spread over his newly invigorated features as the meal began to feed into his bloodstream.  'I regretted moving to Denver six months ago, but I met Margaret-Mary, I've got a great job and I have a much better life than I would have had if I'd married Emmeline and lived under her father's thumb.  All in all I think that Denver's going to be a likeable town... a very likeable town indeed.'

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:52 pm

Well last month's bunny collapsed from heat prostration and, although, the poor thing is reviving, it just won't fit this month's prompt.  But this oldie will -- so I'll post it in the meantime.

The… with a heart of gold


Prologue


As I joined the other girls heading into the bar for the night, I took a deep breath.  How had I reached this state, I wondered.  Me, a school teacher – probably the most respected profession for a woman in the west – fallen to the least respected profession.  But what can an unwed mother do – we have to eat after all, although I know there are those who think the world would be better off if we starved.  Even if I had made myself a widow, they still wouldn’t hire me to teach anywhere – mothers are supposed to stay home with their children.  But the world doesn’t always work that way.


I drew another deep breath.  It was lively out there.  Two different gangs were hoorahing the town tonight, I’d heard.  That frightened some of the girls; those outlaws can get too rambunctious.  I, on the other hand, preferred these nights.  Whatever the indignities offered, outlaws hoorahing tended to be free with their money.  Maybe someday, enough hoorahs would let me send Johnny away, where he wouldn’t be shamed by me.


I stepped out with the other girls as a cheer went up in the room.  I looked at the men hooting and calling to us, the usual riff raff.  But, then I saw them, two men, discrete from the rest.  Something about them pulled me towards them emotionally, in a way I hadn’t experienced in a long time.  I had eyes for no one but those two.  The blond looked over and saw me walking towards them.  He said a quick word to his dark companion, then smiled and walked towards me.


When we met in the middle of the room, I knew the night would be good.  As to what happened… Well I can be discreet.


Forgiven, Montana


The sun shone down on Forgiven, Montana.  The sky was blue with only a few wispy clouds and a slight breeze kept the day cool.  Heyes and the Kid strolled amiably down the sidewalk, tipping their hats and smiling at passersby.


“You know, Kid, life is good.”


“Sure is.  We have money in our pocket, a quiet town where no one knows us.  What could be better?”


Suddenly, a golden-haired woman erupted from the millinery shop they were passing and hugged the Kid fiercely.


“It’s so good to see you again,” she exclaimed loudly.


The Kid rooted in place and Heyes stared, his eyebrows raised as he watched, a rueful grin on his face.


“Quick, which of you is Thaddeus Jones?” the woman whispered as she continued to hug the Kid.


“Uh, um, I am.”


“Oh, Thaddeus, it’s been so long since I last saw you.  You, too, Mr. Smith,” the woman exclaimed, once again raising her voice several decibels.


She released the Kid from her hold but tugged on his arm, whispering again “Come in, come in.  We only have a few seconds.”


She pulled the Kid into the shop.  The Kid looked over his shoulder at Heyes as he was tugged along.  Heyes shook his head and followed, closing the door behind them as they entered the shop.


The woman released the Kid.  “I’m so sorry, but I haven’t time to explain.  They’re waiting to ambush you at the next alley. They’ll come looking any second.  Just remember, I’m Alice, Alice Jones, your widowed sister-in-law.  My son is Johnny, Johnny Jones.  He’s seven and the last time you saw him was at my husband’s funeral five years ago.  We’re all from Little Rock, and John and I moved to Wyoming to farm before he died.”


“Ma’am…” Heyes began, but before he could finish the door was flung open by three men brandishing guns.


“Hands up you two!  Get their guns, Sol.  The blond first; that one’s Kid Curry.”


Heyes and the Kid looked at each other and resignedly raised their hands.  Sol reached over carefully and relieved them of their weapons.


Alice Jones exclaimed, “Hank!  Sol!  Jim! What are you doing?  This is my brother-in-law, Thaddeus Jones.  He’s John’s younger brother.  That’s his partner, Joshua Smith.”


Heyes spoke up.  “I know we must resemble those two despicable outlaws, but, like she said, I’m Joshua Smith and he’s Thaddeus Jones.  Lots of folks can vouch for us.  Alice here, Sheriff Lom Trevors in Wyoming…”


Hank looked at the two men with him doubtfully.  Jim’s face reddened.  “I tell you that’s Hannibal Heyes, and the other one is Kid Curry.  I rode in a posse after them seven years ago.  I saw them; I can’t be mistaken,” he stated stubbornly


“Look, we’ve had this problem before.  Every time we’ve been cleared, but it takes a long time.  I’m telling you, I’m Joshua Smith and he’s Thaddeus Jones.  We were just coming by to see how Alice here was doing and to give her Thaddeus’ news.  We’re on our way back to Little Rock.  Thaddeus here is getting married…”


“Do you always talk so much?”


“He does,” the Kid confirmed, lowering his arms and smiling brightly at their captors.


Before anyone could speak again, the door burst open and a young, blond, blue-eyed dynamo burst in.  “Mom, mom!” he shouted, dropping his book bag.  He stopped suddenly and hastened to his mother’s side, staring wide-eyed at the men standing before her.


“Johnny,” she cried, stooping to hug him.  “Johnny, your Uncle Thaddeus came to say hello.  You won’t remember him, but you met him at your father’s funeral.  Say hello.”


Johnny stared at the Kid.  “Hello,” he said shyly.  “Are you my father’s brother? I don’t remember him either.”


The Kid shrugged uncomfortably.  “I am.  Your father was a good man.  We miss him.”


“Yeah,” Johnny sighed.


Their captors watched this interchange then looked back and forth at each other and at Heyes and the Kid.


“Johnny, you look just like your father,” Heyes contributed.


“Yeah, that’s what my mom says.  Mom, mom, I’m gonna go to Frankie’s, okay?”
Alice smiled and gave him a hug, which he shrugged off, embarrassed.  “That’s fine, Johnny.  I’ll come get you when I close the shop and we can have a special supper tonight.”


Johnny smiled and headed out the door.  He stopped and came back, holding out his hand to the Kid.  “Pleased to meet you, sir.  Will you be staying long?”


The Kid smiled.  “No, we have to be headin’ to Little Rock.  I’m gettin’ married,” he added dryly.


The adults watched Johnny race back out the door.


Hank, Sol, and Jim stared at each other.  Jim shrugged, his brow furrowing.  “I could’ve sworn they were Heyes and Curry.”


“Just how well did you see them on that posse, Jim?”


“We got within a few hundred yards, I guess.  I thought I got a good look, but now… Well, now I just don’t know.”


Hank pondered for a few minutes.


“Alice, how long have you known these two?”


“Hank Smathers, I told you, Thaddeus here is my brother-in-law.  I’ve known him for more than ten years.  He’s no more Kid Curry than you are Billy-the-Kid.  And I’ve met Mr. Smith here several times as well.”  Alice stood hands on her hips, glaring at Hank and his companions.


Hank pursed his lips and pondered some more.  Finally, “Sorry, gentlemen.  You understand, I hope.  No offense meant.”


“None taken,” Heyes assured them.  The Kid smiled and reached to take back his gun, settling it in its holster and then handing Heyes his.


Heyes, the Kid, and Alice watched the men leave.


As the door shut behind them and they watched the men turn down the sidewalk, Heyes and the Kid let out a big breath and their backs relaxed.


As one they turned back to Alice, puzzlement now showing in their faces.


“Ma’am, Mrs. Jones, thank you,” Heyes started.  “I have no idea why you did that, but we surely do appreciate it.”


“Yes, thank you, ma’am,” the Kid echoed.


Alice smiled at them.  “You don’t remember me.”


Heyes and the Kid looked blankly at each other.  “Uh, no, ma’am,” the Kid admitted.


“I wouldn’t expect you to.  My name wasn’t Jones back then, and I wasn’t a widow.”  She sighed and looked at them her chin lifting slightly.  “It still isn’t Jones, and I’m still not a widow.  I never was married.”


Heyes and the Kid exchanged uncomfortable glances.  “Uh, ma’am, miss?”


“I met you when you were hoorahing a town a few years ago.”  She blushed.  “I spent several hours with you that night, Mr. Curry.”


She watched the implication of what she had said sink in, and nodded.  “Yes, I worked the line in those days.”  She stopped smiling.  “No one here knows about that.  They think I’m a respectable widow.”  She glared at them.


“You don’t need to worry, we won’t be tellin’ anyone anythin’ different,” the Kid assured her.  He paused, his eyes widened and he turned and looked out the door, then frowned and turned back to her.  “Your son, Johnny…”


“Yeah, there is a resemblance…,” Heyes confirmed slowly.


Alice looked at the two of them puzzled.  Suddenly she laughed.  “No, no.  Johnny’s not yours.”  She looked embarrassed.  “Of course, his father’s not John Jones either. I made him up, along with the farm and the funeral.  It helps that in my old line of work you learn to lie convincingly.  Johnny’s too young to remember his life before we came here, which makes this easier.” 


“Ma’am?”


She sighed, folding and refolding pleats in her skirt.  “I really was a respectable woman once – a school teacher, if you can believe that.  I was young, foolish, and alone.  I made the mistake of falling in love with the wrong man.  When I told him I was with child, he not only refused to marry me, but he refused to acknowledge that Johnny was his.  Turns out he was married.  His wife was still back east, but she was coming out to join him.  So, I had become an inconvenience.”  She paused and gulped, before resuming her tale.  “I was ruined but didn’t have enough money to get very far, just to the next town.”  She turned away from them and paced slowly as she spoke.


Heyes and the Kid made indeterminate sounds, which she ignored, caught up in her tale.


“Well, I grew up fast.  I had to provide for Johnny and me, so I did what I had to do.  One day, the Devil’s Hole Gang hoorahed in our town, in my gaming house.”
She turned back and looked at them, tears in her eyes.  “You have no idea what despair I was in by then.  The only thing that kept me going was Johnny.  It was bad enough that he would grow up the son of a fallen woman, I couldn’t let him grow up an orphan, could I?”


Heyes and the Kid looked at each other then away.  Finally, the Kid spoke gently.  “No, Alice.  No one should grow up an orphan.”


She wiped her eyes and took a deep breath.  “Anyway, as I said the Devil’s Hole Gang hoorahed us.  That’s when I met you, both of you.”


“Both of us?” Heyes asked, eyebrows raised.


“Yes, although I never spoke to you, Mr. Heyes.”


“You spent some time with me, Mr. Curry.”  She flushed and looked away again. 
 “Paid me very well, too, better than I had hoped.  Then, as you were getting dressed, the door to the wardrobe fell open and exposed Johnny sleeping in his basket on the floor.”


She turned back and smiled at the Kid, who looked back at her uncomfortably.  “Well, you saw that and turned back and gave me ten dollars more, told me to buy some things for my boy.”


Heyes and the Kid looked at each other, uncertain what to say.  


“You treated me with dignity and kindness, Mr. Curry – something that hadn’t happened in a long time.  It gave me hope.  It heartened me, and that very night I began to save money and to plan.  It took more than a year, but finally I had enough money, and we moved.  Moved here to where no one knew us, where I could be a widow with a little boy.  The name of this town seemed to be a good omen.  I was able to start this shop…  I never thought I’d see you again.”


She smiled ruefully at them, “Actually, I hoped I’d never see any of my customers again.  But when I heard those men talking about ambushing a Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones because they were really Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry…  Well, I just had to do something.”


Heyes and the Kid looked at each other out of the corner of their eyes.  


Heyes took a deep breath.  “Well, we’re grateful you did come forward, Alice, and we wish you the best of luck.  We have to be going before those men reconsider…  Kid, you coming?”


“Uh, yeah, comin’.”  The Kid turned to follow Heyes who was hustling out the front door, then paused and turned back.  “Alice…  Alice, I’m glad we met, and I understand that you never want to see me again.  I’ll try to make sure that happens.”  He smiled briefly before  walking out to join Heyes.


Alice watched them leave then turned, walked behind the counter, sat deliberately, and dropped her head into her hands and sobbed.


~~~000~~~


Heyes was uncharacteristically quiet as they checked out of the hotel, saddled the horses, and headed out of town.  The Kid kept looking at him, opening his mouth, then closing it and shaking his head without saying anything.


After riding for an hour the Kid finally had had enough.  “Heyes, what?”


“What do you mean, what?”


“You ain’t been quiet this long since you got sick at the Hole that time and lost your voice.  If you got somethin’ to say, just say it.”


Heyes looked over at him for some time, finally his eyes lit and a smile tugged on the corners of his mouth.  “I was just wondering, Kid.”


The Kid looked at him warily.  “Yeah, about what?”


“I've learned the secret to your success.  So, tell me, just how much do you have to pay to get women to spend time with you?”  Heyes spurred his horse and rode ahead laughing.


The Kid growled and raced after him.
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skykomish

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:07 pm

Here's an oldie that I felt fit this month's prompt



Needy Experience




          Two soggy drifters plodded their horses through swirling fog into the town of Kingsburg.  Hunched in their saddles with coats secured against the damp, they arrived just as true darkness seeped out of the alleys into the streets.  Cowboy hats and gray plumes of breath obscured their faces. 

         “Sheriff Mitch Snider.  Ever heard of ‘em?”  The question came from the heap in a sheepskin jacket and topped with a floppy brown hat.

          “Nope.  Can’t say I ever heard of a lawman by that name,” escaped from beneath the black hat decorated with bits of silver.

          “Hotel?”

          “Yup.  Can’t deliver the documents at this hour.  It’ll have to wait ‘til morning.”

          “How much money ya’ got, Heyes.  Enough for the hotel and livery?”

           “I got five dollars.  You?”

           “I got seven dollars and fifty-three cents.”

          “That’ll be enough until we get paid.”

          Suddenly, a small woman with a large shawl swaddling her head and shoulders hurried from between two buildings and nearly barreled into the Kid’s mount. 

          “Whoa!” he cautioned his horse, pulling back on the reins and trying to avoid the girl. 

          She skidded to a halt inches from the sorrel and looked up at the shrouded figure in the dark mist. 

          “Sorry,” she murmured.

          Lack of light and lots of fog blurred the woman’s face.  Tendrils of hair escaped from the knitted wrap and were twisted into dark ringlets by the mist.  Glittering beads of dew splattered across the shawl like tiny gems woven into the yarn. 

          Teased by something familiar about the woman, Curry leaned forward to see her face.  Before he could get a clear view, she clutched her wrap closer, hurried around his horse, and disappeared into the hotel across the street.

__________


           “Heyes, do you remember Annabelle?”  Perched on a chair next to the window in their hotel room, the Kid cleaned his gun.  The soft cloth glided expertly along the gleaming metal guided by deft fingers.

         Heyes folded his newspaper and set it on the bed.  “Sure.  Small girl with long dark hair and a wide-eyed attitude.  One of your needy folk.”  He started reading again.

          “My needy folk!  Not Michelle.  She’s French.  I mean Annabelle Considine.  Her Pa lived here in Kingsburg.”

          “I remember, Kid.  Michelle was the French Needy Folk.  Sister Grace was the Godly Needy Folk.  Lorraine was the Scary-Crazy-Just-Pretending-to-be-Needy, Needy fold, and Annabelle was the Very-Young-Running-Away-from-Marriage Needy Folk.  I pay attention and keep track.”

          Curry shot him a sour glare and resumed polishing his Colt.  He had finished and was returning the tools to his saddlebag before the silence got to Heyes.   “What about her?”

          “About who?”

          “You know who.  Annabelle.  What made you ask about her?”

          “Not sure.  Somethin’ about that girl tonight reminded me.  Maybe it’s bein’ in Kingsburg.  Ya’ think her Pa still lives here?”

          “No idea, Kid.  But the needy folk find you just fine without you looking ‘em up.  Let’s not go searching for some lady in distress.”

__________


          The watery morning sun did little to dispel the fog slinking through Kingsburg’s streets.  Heyes paused on the boardwalk, pulled on his leather gloves, and closed his heavy coat against the damp chill.  Pushing his hat back on his head, he welcomed the scant warmth from the winter sun.  He stepped into the street, whistling a cheery tune, and headed back to the hotel to meet the Kid for breakfast.

         A tall, spare man with receding hair and a thin mustache, fussed with the display in the window of a milliner’s shop.   He fumbled several hats after catching sight of the dark-haired cowboy leaving the lawyer’s office.  His eyes narrowed and his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down his stretched neck.  Standing motionless in the window, his eyes tracked the outlaw’s progress.  After Heyes disappeared into the hotel, the man looked down at his trembling hands.  Within minutes, he had locked the door of the millinery and jogged to the sheriff’s office.


__________

          The Kid was waiting for Heyes in the hotel lobby.  “Did you get it, Joshua?”

          His partner grinned and handed him a bundle of folded bills.  “Your half,” he announced with satisfaction.

          “Breakfast?” suggested the Kid.

          The restaurant was mostly empty, so they had their pick of tables. 

          “Coffee?” asked the waitress.

          Curry looked up and his mouth fell open.  He quickly clamped his lips together and leaned forward.  “Annabelle?  Is that really you?” he asked.

          She was wearing a black skirt, covered by a blue apron, and a white shirtwaist.  Her mass of dark hair was gathered in a loose knot, twisted and looped at the nape of the neck.   Her face lit with a welcoming smile. 

          “Mr. Jones.  What are you doing in Kingsburg?”

          “Deliverin’ papers.  What are you doin’ here?  Ever marry that wheat farmer?”

          Her smile grew brittle, and then faded altogether.  “It’s a long story.  If you really want to hear it, I’m done working until lunch.  I could join you for breakfast.”  She studied Heyes.  “If that would be all right with you, Mr. Smith?”

          “We’d love to have yer company, Annabelle,” the Kid assured her.

          “But could we get that coffee and some breakfast first?” added Heyes.  When she disappeared into the kitchen he smirked at Curry.  “Runaway Needy Folk,” he concluded.

          Annabelle returned with a platter heaped with scrambled eggs, sausages, and hotcakes.  With a flourish, she laid out warm syrup, butter, two coffee cups, and a pot of tea before melting into a chair at the table. 

          They filled their plates from the platter.  Curry crammed several heaping bites into his mouth before speaking.

          “I’m not used to ya’ bein’ this quiet, Annabelle.  Ya’ gonna tell us how you ended up here in Kingsburg?”

          “I’m living with my father.”

          “Really?  Mr. De Courcey Considine, the gentleman financier?”

          She pursed her lips and glowered at him. 

          Heyes pretended to cough, hiding his mouth behind his coffee cup.  “Wrong way,” he croaked.

          Curry rolled his eyes. 

          “I’m staying with my father, Deke Considine, the professional gambler.  He’s not quite a gentleman, but he’s not a bad man.  And I was right.  He does live differently than the folk I grew up around.  Mostly he’s less responsible, but he’s kind and funny too.  It’s all right for now.”

          “But why are ya’ livin’ here?”

          “After you two saw me to the train, I went home.  For a while I refused to get married.  But about 6 months later, my mother died.  I wasn’t doing well on my own, but Matt, he’s the wheat farmer, helped me through it.”

          She chewed in silence.  Curry waited patiently for her to continue.

          “Marriage with Matt wasn’t what I thought it would be at all.  Sure we had to talk to the neighbors about boring things like wheat and the weather, but Matt was sweet and kind, and he read books and talked to me about them.  He listened to my dreams and didn’t think I was crazy.  I guess I grew to love him, or realized that I had loved him all along.  We were happy.”

          “Were?  What happened?”

          “Not quite a year ago, there was an accident with our buggy.  A bad accident.  Matt died, and I was hurt and lost the baby I was carrying.  I just couldn’t stay there after that.  I sold the farm and moved here, so I could become acquainted with my father.”

          “We’re real sorry to hear all that, Annabelle,” said Heyes softly.

          Curry briefly pressed her hand.

          Heyes cleared his throat.  “You said that your father is a gambler.  He doesn’t have access to the money from the sale of your farm, does he?”

          “No, Mr. Smith.  I keep that money in the bank.  Someday we’ll move to San Francisco or New Orleans.  I’ll use that money as a stake for a new life.  Until then, I leave it in the bank.  I’ve grown up since I met you two.  I know better than to let my father gamble with our life savings.” 

          She turned to Curry and looked directly into his blue eyes.  “I’ve learned the difference between truly authentic experiences and a girl’s day dreams, Mr. Jones.  You don’t need to worry about me anymore.”

__________


          Later in the day, Heyes and Curry were playing poker and drinking beer in the saloon.  Curry kept staring at a man at their table who looked like he was in his mid-forties.  He wore a frayed black coat and a faded vest.  His dark hair was thick and shot with grey.  An old black derby sat perched on his head.  He played poker well, and Heyes was enjoying the challenge.   The glass in front of him was empty.

          “Sarah,” the man called to a passing saloon girl. 

          “Another Brandy, Deke?”

          “Please, Sarah.  Does anyone else need a refill?”  he asked around the table.

          Heyes lifted his nearly empty glass in a silent request.

          “Are you Deke Considine?” Curry asked.

          “I am, sir.  Do I know you?”

          “Not me.  But I know your daughter, Annabelle.”

          “Do you?”” he asked suspiciously.

          “Yep.  Name’s Thaddeus Jones.  Met her three years ago.  She ran away because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to get married.”

          “You’re that Mr. Jones.  Annie can’t say enough good things about you.  I've wanted to meet you and thank you for what you and your friend did for my little girl.”

          The fourth player at the table frowned.  “Are ya’ gonna keep jawin’ or are we gonna play poker?”

          Curry looked a question at Heyes.  Before they could respond the fourth man scooped his cash into his hat and pushed away from the table. 

          “Never mind.  I’m losin’ anyway.  Nice to meet ya’ boys.  See ya’ later, Deke.”

          “Sorry, Mr. Considine.  We didn’t mean to break up the game,” Heyes apologized while sending an annoyed glare at his partner.

          “Not a problem.  He’ll be back tomorrow, and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep even with you, Mr. Smith.  You’re a helluva poker player, sir.”

          Heyes smiled like a satisfied cat. 

          “So Annabelle told ya’ about comin’ here three years ago?” Curry probed. 

          “She did.  I’m just glad she came back, so we could become acquainted.”

          “Maybe if ya’ had stayed with her and her ma, she wouldn’t have had to come lookin’.”

          “Thaddeus!  It’s not our business,” Heyes reprimanded.

          “No it’s all right, Mr. Smith.  Your partner is correct.  I should have done better by my wife and daughter, but I was a fool.”

          “How do ya’ mean?” asked Kid.

          “I was in prison, Mr. Jones.  I lost heavily at cards and thought that I had discovered the perfect way out of my financial difficulties.  I became involved in robberies.  Instead of helping my wife and young daughter, I spent eight years in the California State Prison.  When I was released, my wife wanted nothing to do with me.  I respected her wishes and stayed away from Annabelle.”

          Blue eyes met brown.  Both ex-outlaws shifted in their seats, but didn’t reply.

          “I don’t blame you gents for being shocked.  Fine, upright citizens like yourselves should be offended by my actions.  But I assure you that I have learned my lesson, and Annabelle needn’t be afraid that I will go back to my thieving ways.”

          “That’s real good to hear, Mr. Considine.  We don’t believe in holding a man’s past against him.  Not when he’s seen his errors and changed his ways,” said Heyes with a touch too much enthusiasm.

          “That’s true, Mr. Considine.  When a man makes mistakes, and then changes his evil ways, that’s a real fine thing.  Maybe even better than doin’ right in the first place.  No, We sure wouldn’t hold doin’ wrong against ya, after…well…ya’ …repented.” 

          Curry petered to a stop.  Heyes glowered.

          “It’s very kind of you gents to say that.  I can see why Annabelle speaks so high—" Deke Considine focused on someone behind Kid Curry.  “Sheriff, what brings you here with your guns drawn and pointed?”  

          “Put both hands where I can see ‘em, Curry.  You too, Heyes.” 

          As soon as the sheriff spoke, two deputies entered through the batwing doors with their guns ready.  Heyes flashed the Kid a question with his eyes.  The blond shook his head and slowly laid both hands on the table in front of him.

          “That’s real good, Curry.  Now you do just the same as your partner, Heyes.  Move real slow and put both your hands on the table.  We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
 
          As soon as Heyes’ hands were flat on the table, the sheriff walked closer.  “Don’t move, Heyes!” he warned.

          The lawman grabbed the Kid’s Colt and then pulled Heyes’ Schofield from its holster. 

          “Sheriff, I don’t know what you think these two have done, but their names are Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith.  They are friends of my daughter.”

          “Sorry, Deke, but this is Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  Jefferson over at the hat shop used to work in a bank out near Cheyenne.  The Devil’s Hole gang robbed it, and he got a real good look at both of ‘em.  He recognized ‘em right off and came and told me.”

          “Sheriff, he must be confused,” Heyes began.  “My name is Smith and my friend here is Thaddeus Jones.  We’ve been mistaken for those two notorious bandits before, but Mr. Considine—"

          “Tell it to the Wyoming officials, Heyes.  I don’t wanna hear it.”

          “But, Sheriff, we just delivered important documents for Colonel Harper.  Now we–"

          “Sam, if he opens his mouth again, gag him!”
     
__________


          Four steps and turn.  Four steps and turn.  Heyes was wearing a path in the cell floor while Curry stretched out on a lumpy mattress.  Suddenly, Heyes froze and brown eyes peered down the hallway to the main part of the jail.  The Kid peeked from under his hat when Heyes stopped pacing.

          “What is it?”

          “Shh!  I hear something.”

          “Ya’ gotta visitor, boys,” announced the deputy.  “We’ll be jest down the hall, Annie.  If they give ya’ any trouble, ya jest holler.”

          Annabelle stood stiffly, pulling her dignity around her like a mantle.  “I’ll be fine, deputy.  Please go.”

          The Kid sat up and swung his long legs over the edge of the narrow bed.  He walked over to the bars where Annabelle stood nervously twirling the fringe on her shawl.

          “Are you really Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes?” she asked in a small voice.

          Heyes joined Kid at the edge of the cell.  “Annabelle, if we were bank and train robbers, would we have been trusted to deliver fifty thousand dollars.  That’s what we were doing when we first met you.  It’s all a mistake.”

          “That’s what I told the sheriff, but he said that there’s a rumor that Heyes and Curry are trying to go straight, and that’s why they might be doing a delivery job.”

          “We heard that rumor too,” said Curry, carefully.

          “I guess even notorious outlaws like Heyes and Curry can mend their wicked ways,” Heyes added.  “Maybe those two fellas have become real law-abiding—same as me and Thaddeus have always been.”

          Annabelle studied her feet and continued to punish the fringe on her shawl.  “I want to believe you’re not them…”

          “We want you to believe that, too,” said Heyes.  “Cuz this is as sincere as we can get.”

          Blue and brown eyes radiated as much good faith as they could muster.  Two appealing smiles met Annabelle’s searching gaze.

          “But, if you’re not them—there’s no problem, is there?  As soon as the official from Wyoming arrives in a day or two—you’ll be freed.  It’s not so long to wait.”

          Neither man spoke.  A look was exchanged.  

          Annabelle’s shoulder slumped.  “I see.”  A long moment passed.  With a catch in her voice she asked, “Will they hang you?”

          “Not admitting we’re Heyes and Curry,” said Heyes, “but they never shot anyone.  They won’t hang, just be put away for twenty years.”

          “Twenty years!” She looked horrified.  “Isn’t that an awful long time?”

          “Seems like a long time to me,” replied Kid.

          “Twenty years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison.  Two hundred and forty long, lonely months,” milked Heyes.  “Sweltering heat in summer, icy cold in winter.  Youth ebbing away, day by day.”  A sigh.  “You’d have to feel even for Heyes and Curry locked up in there.”

          Brown eyes slid sideways, checking if he’d overplayed it.  Curry just glared at him.

          A very small voice, “Do you really believe they’ve gone straight?”

          “Sure do,” Heyes affirmed.

          An eager nod from his partner.   “S’what we heard.

          “Because,” Annabelle gulped before raising her chin and meeting Kid’s eyes.  “Everything I have is in the Kingsburg Bank.  If Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes robbed it, I could lose everything.”

          “We aren’t here to rob the bank.  We’re just delivering legal papers.  You got my word on that.”

          “Do you always keep your word?”

          “Not always, but I usually try.”

           Maybe the honesty of that response reassured her.  After a several heart beats, Annabelle blew out the breath she was holding, and smiled at him. 

          “Is there anything I can do to help?”

          “Keys to the cell would be nice,” quipped Heyes.
__________

          The next evening, Annabelle brought the supper from the restaurant for the deputies and the prisoners.  Heyes and the Kid heard her delivering the food, but she did not ask to see them.

          A couple of hours later, she was in the office again.  After chatting with the deputies, she approached their cell. 

          “Don’t stay too long, Annie.  These boys are notorious, and a nice respectable widow like yourself shouldn’t be spending time with their kind.”

          “I’ll be fine, Deputy Benson.  You and Sam just enjoy that pie I brought.  My father and I are leaving for San Francisco on the train tonight, so I just want to say good-bye to the prisoners.”

          Heyes and Curry came over to the bars, but didn’t speak until the deputy had settled in the other room.

          “Are ya’ really goin’ to San Francisco?” asked the blond.

          “We’ve got our train tickets and are all packed, Mr. Jones.  We would have loved to stay until you are released, but the next train is in a week.  We didn’t want to wait.”

          “I’m sorry if we’ve caused ya’ trouble, Annabelle.  We didn’t mean to.”

          “No, Mr. Jones.  You and Mr. Smith haven’t been any trouble.  In fact, I want to thank you for everything you did for me.  If I hadn’t met you on that boxcar, I might have gotten into real trouble.  I wish there was some way to repay your kindness, but Father and I need to go.”

          As she spoke, Annabelle fussed with the intricate knot of hair pinned to the back of her head.  Once she had secured it to her satisfaction, she reached through the bars and placed her gloved hand on the Kid’s cheek.

           “Good bye, Thaddeus,” she whispered as she kissed him.  “Whenever I see you, I have the most interesting experiences.”

           She extended her hand to Heyes.  “Good bye, Mr. Smith.  Thank you for everything, and take care of Thaddeus,” she instructed as she shook his hand. 

          Heyes’ brows drew together as she pulled away.  He formed a fist and then jammed it into his pocket and frowned as she left the jail. 

          “What is it?” whispered the Kid.

          “Nothing,” he replied and sat down on the bed, facing away from the bars.  He placed his hand back in his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper folded very long and slender

          “What is it?” Curry repeated.

          “It’s a note.”

          “I figured that.  What’s it say?”

          A huge grin spread across Heyes’ face and sparkled in his brown eyes. 

          “There’s a lock pick in it,” he mouthed the words and showed the Kid the small tool before slipping it inside the mattress.  He read the note and then handed it to the Kid.

          “They’re goin’ to Denver not San Francisco.”  Curry sounded puzzled.

           “Yep, that’s what it says.”

          “And she drugged the guards with a pie.”  His mouth gaped as he met his partner’s laughing eyes.

          “Uh huh.”

          “We’re gettin’ out?”

          “Looks like it.  And Kid, forget I said anything about helping the needy folk.”

_________________
When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.
- Leonardo DaVinci
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:50 pm

Hannibal felt uneasy, stepping out onto the wharf that would take them to the tourist craft awaiting their arrival. He had been on boats before, but they had all been larger ferries or the floating hotels of the paddle wheel variety. As a child, he and Jed had sometimes gone out with Yannack and his father, but those days were long gone, and he'd lost his youthful sea legs ages ago. The wharfs he was accustomed to now were solid structures that didn't float and flutter with every lapping wave that splashed against it.


This undulating walkway took some getting used to. Being balanced and nimble on solid ground as well as on horseback was one thing, but this constantly shifting deck took all of his focus to navigate with any form of grace or dignity. Miranda watched him while trying to hide her smile. She was just as unaccustomed to moving pathways as he was, but for some reason she seemed better able to navigate the pitfalls.


By the time they had walked the distance to where the boat awaited them, Hannibal was beginning to feel his balance adjusting to the shifting circumstances. Their craft, the Caballito de Mar, was a 12-foot-long steamboat that was open from bow to stern, and though tricky for a landlubber to navigate boarding her, once that feat was accomplished, she was a comfortable and reliable craft. There were benches positioned all around the inner deck, surrounding a six by two-foot glass bottom, that would give all the passengers a stunning view of the underwater life that thrived in the warm waters off the Santa Marta coast.


Hannibal and Miranda both sat down with sighs of relief at having achieved their goal without incident. They smiled at one another and held hands.


“This is exciting,” Miranda commented. “I've never done anything like this before. And such a beautiful day. I hope the water is clear further out. It seems rather murky here. I do so want to see what's out there.”


Si, Senora,” one of the two crew members answered her. “El aqua, ah, the water. She is always oscuro here. You see, we get out there,” and he waved his arm to indicate the large bay, “and the water, she be claro como el cristal.


“Thank you,” she told him. “This is going to be fun.”


Si.”


Miranda's smile intensified, and her eyes were so full of excitement and anticipation that Hannibal couldn't help but laugh out loud. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and he was finding his own heart beating a little faster as the two Mexicans hurried back and forth along the length of the vessel in preparation of departure.


“Come along Elspeth,” a large man dressed in a suit and tie was encouraging his wife in her efforts to stumble over to the waiting craft. “We don't want to miss the dang thing, now that we're this close to it.”


Elspeth, who was just as thin and tight as her husband was rotund, did share with him the one aspect of being overdressed for the occasion. Her narrow skirted dress and high heeled, latched up boots were hardly appropriate attire for an outing on the ocean.


“I am coming, Freddie!” she exclaimed. “My heels keep getting hung up in the spaces between the boards. You would think that these people could at least build a decent wharf! Oh! Oh my!”


This exclamation came as the result of one of those heels slipping in between the boards and becoming thoroughly stuck. Elspeth's arms flailed out in front of her as she dropped her parasol and clattered ungracefully to her backside.


“Oh oh,” Hannibal commented with a smile, but was still quick to jump up and come to the lady's assistance.


Having quickly regained his natural grace and agility, Heyes stepped through the open half door in the hull of the boat and was on the wharf in an instant. Freddie had returned to his wife, and having taken hold of one of her arms, was trying to haul the poor woman to her feet.


“Wait, wait,” Heyes told him, as he knelt down beside Elspeth. “She's stuck.”


“That much is apparent, young man!” Elspeth snapped at him as she rolled herself over from her knees and onto her butt. “Kindly get me unstuck!”


“Yes ma'am.” Heyes sent her a reassuring smile, then frowned as he surveyed the trapped boot heel. He would have to take hold of her ankle in order to get the boot freed. “Umm...?” he enquired, and indicated the entrapped foot. “Do you mind?”


“No, no,” she waved him onwards. “Just do it.”


“Perhaps I should...” Freddie harrumphed, his sense of decency being threatened by this young man laying hands upon his wife's person.


But before his indignation could truly take hold, Heyes had given the ankle a slight twist and then a sharp tug. The heel came free, and despite a few miniscule scrapes from the wood, was none the worse for wear.


“Thank goodness!” Elspeth exclaimed. “I feared I would be stuck there all afternoon!”


“I hardly think your husband would have permitted that, ma'am,” Heyes assured her as he and Freddie helped her back to her feet. “It was a simple matter to free it up.”


“Yes, my dear,” Freddie took over, using his bulk to pressure Heyes away. “It was easy enough to deal with. Now let's get you on board.”


Heyes allowed himself to be backed off, but stepping back onto the boat, he turned to offer assistance again, just in case the obstacle proved too much for Freddie to deal with.


“Oh my,” Elspeth complained as she eyed the step across open water. “I'm not sure this is a wise idea. What if I fall through?”


“You won't fall through, my dear,” Freddie assured her, with a touch of impatience. It's a simple step across and then down into the boat. Come, come. Just do it.”


“Oh...”


Heyes smiled and offered his hand to the lady. Elspeth grasped it, and hung on so tightly, the ex-outlaw was almost brought to tears. He was brave though, and wouldn't allow the pain to show.


“There you go,” Heyes assured her. “Just step across. We've got you.”


Elspeth took a deep breath and made the leap of twelve inches. As is so often the case when one overcompensates, the lady put too much oomph into her approach and ended up in Heyes' arms, with him having to take a quick step backwards to avoid being bowled over.


“Oh my,” she flustered. “I'm so sorry.”


“That's quite alright,” Heyes assured her and flashed his dimples.


Her eyes drifted up to meet his, and her knees went weak with the contact. 'How unfair it was for a man to have such beautiful eyes.' she thought as the soft sea breeze played seductively with her hair, and the birds on wing cried out their playful song as they dove and circled, looking for tidbits. The smell of the ocean was strong in her nostrils, and her senses disappeared into remembered romantic stories of dashing pirates stealing away the damsel in distress. Time slowed down, and the blinking of those lovely dark lashes took an eternity as the lady felt herself swooning. She was lost in those eyes. They were like warm chocolate, with just the right hint of mischief to lure a lady to sink into their depth, no matter what her age.


“Elspeth!” Freddie pulled his wife away. “Leave the man alone. He has better things to do than doddle over some silly old hen.”


“Oh yes,” she smiled at her rescuer, suddenly aware of how tight the collar of her dress had become “I do apologize.”


“That's quite alright,” Heyes assured her.


The three people settled onto the benches and introductions began.


“I must say, ah...Senor,” Elspeth began. “that you speak wonderful English for a Mexican.”


“Oh, we're not Mexican,” Heyes corrected her. “We're Americans, like yourself. My name is Han and this is my wife, Miranda.”


“A pleasure to meet you,” Miranda greeted them. “We're here on...”


“You're not a Mexican?” Freddie asked.


“Ah, no.” Heyes was slightly taken aback by the rudeness shown to his wife. He was beginning to regret assisting these people at all.


“Oh dear,” Elspeth sputtered and began to fan herself with her overly large sun hat. “I assumed by your clothing...”


“Didn't take you long to go native, did it?” Freddie harrumphed.


“Aren't the colors beautiful?” Miranda stepped in, choosing to take the high road. “And the material is so light and comfortable. Just perfect for an outing such as this.”


The older couple sat, and with arched brows, scrutinized the pair sitting across from them. At first glance, they might have appeared, from a distance, to be light-skinned Mexicans. Both had the dark hair and eyes, and both had exchanged their heavier 'western' clothing for that of the more breathable cotton worn by the locals. They had even set aside their restricting boots and shoes, for the more comfortable sandals to complete their casual attire.


Still, upon closer acquaintanceship, it should have been obvious that neither Hannibal, nor his wife were indigenous to Mexico. They smiled back at the laced up and restricted couple, with their inappropriate footwear, and waited for an acknowledgement of Miranda's comment.


The strained silence might have lasted throughout the whole venture if not for the timely arrival of one more couple, hurrying to make it to the boat on time. Indeed, they had cut it close. One of the crew was busy coaxing the small steam engine into action, while the other was getting ready to cast off the ropes just as the newcomers put in a boisterous appearance.


“We made it!” the young woman exclaimed as she and her man jumped on board.


“I told you we would, if we made a run for it,” her escort teased. “Just in the nick of time too.”


The newest arrivals sat down and worked at catching their breath after the mad dash along the wharf. Heyes and Miranda both grinned at their enthusiasm and Heyes leaned forward to offer his hand.


“Hello,” he said. “I'm Han and this is my wife, Miranda.”


The young man grasped his hand and grinned even more.


“Hello,” he greeted back. “I'm Paul. This is my wife, Connie.”


“Hello,” Miranda greeted them, instantly liking their youthful excitement for the adventure ahead.


Heyes nodded to Paul and then his wife, from whom he quickly averted his eyes. She was very pretty, with the light blonde hair and blue eyes that often accompanies the peaches and cream complexion that so many men find attractive. But it was not her physical beauty that had caused Heyes discomfort, but her coloring. Looking into those blue eyes, he had instantly been reminded of Amy.


It was like a knife going through his heart. Not because of any love lost, but because of the pain that that woman had brought into their lives. He had been taken by surprise by these emotions and he'd had to look away from her to be able to compose himself. Other than her coloring, this young woman was nothing like Amy, and Heyes resolved himself to refrain from the comparison.


Fortunately, his indiscretion was covered up by the continuation of introductions as Paul and Connie turned their attentions to the other couple on board.


“Hello sir,” Paul greeted Freddie with respect and extended his hand. “I'm Paul and this is my wife, Connie.”


“Humph,” Freddie clasped the hand and gave it a hearty shake. “Hello young man. I'm Mr. Carmichael, and this is my wife, Mrs. Carmichael.”


The young couple's enthusiasm waned a touch at the formal introduction, but they accepted it, and nodded their hellos.


The boat gave a slight jerk, accompanied by a little squeak from Elspeth, and with the little engine chugging away, the excursion headed away from the dock and out towards deeper water.
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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:31 pm

Posting this now as I'm driving hubby mad fiddling with it! The fuller version will be on my thread at end of month with more detail of the story Heyes heard.






The Hypocrisy of Victorian Morals

Kid Curry picked up the book from the desk of Hannibal Heyes and looked at the title in surprise. He pursed his lips and opened it at the front to read the synopsis. Having read he grunted, pulled a face and dropped it back on the desk.


“Ah! Ya found it,” said Hannibal Heyes, holding the door open.


Kid Curry gave him the look and grunted. The fingertips of his left hand tucked into the waistcoat pocket of his expensively tailored bespoke suit.


“Who is this Nial H Benshaye fella?”


A smug grin appeared on the face of Hannibal Heyes as he crossed the room to stand on the other side of the desk. He too was dressed in a suit, although not as expensive looking as the Kid’s suit. He stood hands on hips and chuckled.


“Can’t ya guess?”


The Kid picked up the book again and sniffed. He read, “The Hypocrisy of Victorian Morals”. He grunted.

“Sounds like one of those European phi-los-o-fers to me,” he muttered. “Writing a load of mumbo jumbo nobody normal, understands.”


Heyes chuckled again and teased the book from the Kid’s hands. “Nial H Benshaye is a nom de plume!”


“What’s one of them?”


“Kinda like an alias.”


The Kid sniffed. “Not surprised this Nial H Benshaye wants to keep his identify a secret if he goes ‘round writtin’ stuff like this.”


“Now Kid, ya haven’t read it. Ya can’t make a judgement call like that when ya don’t know what this is about.”

Heyes waved the book at him.


“I reckon I can. Ya read it?”


Heyes smiled knowingly. “Sorta. Come over an’ I’ll tell ya all about it.”


Heyes turned and made his way over to the two comfortable looking red leather wingback armchairs in front of the fireplace. He looked back when the Kid didn’t follow him.


“C’mon. It ain’t what ya think.” Heyes reached down and took the stopper off a lead crystal decanter. “I’ll pour us a couple of drinks an’ we’ll get settled for the evening. We get to spend some time alone, catching up, jus’ the two of us. How often do we get the chance to do that these days?”


Suspiciously, the Kid walked round the side of the desk and made his way over. “Not often that’s for sure. What with you here in Porterville and me in Boston. So why’d ya want to spend it telling me about that dang book?”


“’Cos you’re in it!” Heyes settled himself in a chair, crossing one leg over the other and raising a glass to his lips. He smiled knowingly again as he looked round.


“I’m in it?” The Kid came over.


“Yep.” Heyes watched the Kid heading for the other chair.


“What d’ya mean I’m in it?” the Kid demanded, flopping down irritably.


Heyes sniffed, narrowed his eyes and looked at the ceiling.


“The story begins ‘bout thirty years ago. Kid Curry rides into town …”


“Do I have a chiselled jaw?”


Heyes hesitated, wondering what he meant. The Kid was a picture of innocence as he stroked said jaw, now relaxed into middle age, and Heyes caught on.


“No,” he said, firmly and turned back to the book.


“Eyes the colour of blue ice?” Eyes now softened by laughter creases.


“No.”


“Steely blue?” Eyes now widened in amusement.


“No!” Heyes was louder with each no. He cleared his throat to begin again.


“Do I have blond curly hair the colour of summer corn?” Hair still with a hint of a curl but now with varying shades of grey.


Heyes leant his head back and closed his eyes in despair.


“This ain’t a dime novel, Kid. It’s a serious book,” Heyes said, wearily.


The Kid received the look and he chuckled. Then he was serious, motioning for Heyes to start.


Through gritted teeth, Heyes continued. “Kid Curry rode into town to meet up with his partner. They had separated to take on different jobs and had agreed to meet up here in the town of Moncrieff.”


“So he let that other fella go off on his own?”


“Yes. That OTHER fella can take care of himself,” Heyes said, firmly.


A grunt of disbelief from the Kid and the look received again.


“The Kid’s first stop was the saloon. Three days of eating trail dust had stirred up a powerful thirst. With luck, he might find his partner there. Before he could stop …”


“See. I told ya. That other fella’s in trouble.” The Kid shook his head in resignation.


“He ain’t in trouble! He’s jus’ not THERE!” Heyes grunted. “Yet!” He cleared his throat again. “An’ this ain’t a story about HIM, it’s about YOU!”


The Kid grinned in pleasure. “Oh well in that case carry on. I might like this after all.”


The Kid settled back and laced his fingers over his stomach.


“Before he could stop, a young woman ran into the street in front of him, causing his horse to shy away. As he brought his horse under control, she grabbed the reins.


“Please sir you have to help me!” she begged. “Please say you will.”


Heyes glanced over at the Kid and smiled mischievously. “Our hero, Kid Curry, immediately leaped to the fair damsel’s assistance …”


“It don’t really say that? Do it?” the Kid was incredulous.


“Naw! I made it up.” Heyes said followed by his deep rich chortle.


The Kid rolled his eyes and growled.


Still smirking Heyes turned back to the book. “It says: the Kid could see by the look on her face just how terrified and desperate the woman was.”


“Ma’am?” he frowned, bringing his horse under control and patting its neck reassuringly.


“Please sir! You must help me!”


“Alright ma’am. I’ll help ya if I can,” the Kid said, calmly and dismounted. He lead his horse over to the nearest hitching rail and tied off. “How can I be of assistance ma’am?”


Real life Kid tutted. “I wouldn’t of said it like that,”


Heyes looked across, his eyes wide.


The Kid twitched his head. “Awh! I might I guess,” he conceded.


With a smile, Heyes turned back to the book. “It’s my sister and cousin. They’re being held against their will. I need to get them away. Please, oh please come with me sir!”


Heyes stopped and looked over at the Kid. “Instead of jus’ readin’ this, I can do the voices as well if ya like?” he said, eagerly.


“Jus’ read it Heyes!” the Kid growled. “Ya obviously gotta reason. Jus’ get on with it.”


With a nod, Heyes got on with it.


“She took hold of his arm and tried to pull him.


“Whoa! Ma’am. Who’s holdin’ ‘em? Ain’t ya been to the sheriff?”


“My father and brother and I can’t go to the sheriff.” She started to sob. “Most folks in town won’t believe me and daren’t get involved. I just thought as you were a stranger …” She dissolved into uncontrollable weeping.


The Kid hesitated. He held her upper arms and shook her gently. “Hey, ma’am, now don’t take on so.”


Real life Kid shifted uneasily in his chair. “I would NOT of said that! Don’t take on so! What sorta language is that?”


Heyes grinned. “I think they call it creative license.”


The Kid looked at him doubtfully. “Still not sure I woulda said it,” he mumbled and motioned for Heyes to continue.


“What’s ya name ma’am?”


“Emily Blondell,” she sobbed.


“Blondell? I heard of a fella by the name of Blondell*. Banker over at Touchrock*.”


She nodded. “Yes Henry Blondell, my uncle. My father Ewan is his younger brother.” She looked at the Kid in horror. “Do you know Uncle Henry well?”


“No ma’am. Me an’ my partner were able to clear something up for him a while or two ago.” The Kid hesitated.

“He seemed a right upstandin’ man, a deacon in the Baptist church I believe.”


Emily went off into fresh floods of tears. “But that’s jus’ the problem,” she wailed. “Father’s on the church committee here. The Board of Bank Trustees. The Town Council. This town might as well be called Blondell
Town. He practically runs it.”


“It ain’t is it?” real life Kid, queried.


“Nope.”


“Blondell City?”


“NO! Quit interrupting. There’s a little more before ya er …” Heyes smacked his lips to hide a smirk. “Swing into action,” he mumbled.


“Then what’s the problem, ma’am?” the Kid, asked, hooking his thumbs in his gun belt.


Emily looked up and down the street. There was nobody on the street close to them. She caught him by the arm and led him into an alleyway nonetheless.


“Father gives the impression of respectability but he’s keeping my sister and me and now my cousin, hostage in the house. He makes us do all the cooking, cleaning, fetching and carrying. While he and my brother just lord it up. They treat us like servants. We’re not allowed out socially. We can’t have friends over. Ha! Not that we’ve got any friends! The only time we go out is to church. Then, we’re not allowed to speak to anyone, apart from exchanging the pleasantries. It can’t go on, Mr … Mr…?”


“Jones. Thaddeus Jones.”


“It can’t go on, Mr Jones. He beats us if we do the slightest thing that isn’t to his satisfaction. Sarah, my sister, is of a delicate constitution and I’m afraid that if he beats her again … well I’m really afraid …,” More sobbing.

“That he’ll kill her.”


The Kid stiffened when he heard that. There was one thing he couldn’t abide. Men abusing women.


“This ain’t true is it, Heyes?” The Kid was hard, entirely in keeping with the legendary gunman of old.


“No it’s all made-y up-y.” Heyes hesitated. “Although … .” He sighed. “I’ll carry on for now,” he growled.


“Ma’am, I really think ya oughta go to the sheriff …”


“I thought I explained. I can’t. He WON’T do anything. Not against Father. Here, Mr Jones, look at this.” She fumbled with the buttons of her bodice.


The Kid looked horrified. “No really ma’am …”


Before he could protest anymore, she was wriggling her arms out of her bodice and lowering it. She turned her back and showed him.


Even for the hardened gunman the sight he saw chilled him to the bone. Her back above the top of her chemise was a mass of scarred, bloodied and bruised stripes.


“Ma’am I’m sure if …”


“No! Mr Jones, I can’t!” She spun round and looked at him imploringly. “I just need to get my sister and my cousin out of that house as soon as possible. I can’t wait for the sheriff to decide if he’ll do anything. It has to be
done NOW!”


“Alright! Alright, ma’am I’ll help ya!” The Kid held up his hands in surrender. When he saw she was calmer, he nodded. “That’s better. Now get yaself dressed. I don’t wanna be caught with ya looking like that.”


She nodded.


“How did ya get away?”


As she dressed, she told him. The Kid gentlemanly turned his back. “Father or Eric check that all the windows and doors are locked before they go to sleep and they keep the keys. I discovered they didn’t know about the window in the pantry. No reason to go in there. I managed to crawl out in the middle of the night. It was small and a struggle but I managed. But Sarah and Clara won’t fit through. Clara came to live with us only a few months ago. She’s Uncle Henry’s daughter. Her husband was murdered. In the bank, can you believe? Some crazy woman just marched in and shot him! Dead! There was a scandal and Uncle Henry thought it would be best if Clara wasn’t around so he sent her here.”


Still with his back turned, the Kid folded his arms. “Yes ma’am I heard about that,” he murmured. It would do no good right now to say anything further.


“You can turn round now. Thank you.”


When the Kid turned round, she was almost composed. The dabbing at the corners of her eyes the only thing that anything was amiss.


“So ya gotta plan? Apart from bustin’ ‘em out?”


Emily looked suitably embarrassed. “No. I hadn’t thought any further than asking for help. Can you think of something?” She looked at him eagerly.


The Kid hesitated. “I might but first we’d better get you outta town and somewhere safe. There’s an old cabin ‘bout two miles outta town. Saw it on my way in. Reckon ya’ll be safe there for a while. Can ya ride ma’am?”


She nodded. “But only side-saddle. Never astride. Father said it isn’t healthy for a young woman.”


The Kid took a step back and looked at her. “Well my horse is tired but ya don’t look as though there’s too much to ya so I reckon he can manage us both for a few miles.”


Emily gave him her first real smile. “Thank you, Mr Jones.”


“Thaddeus ma’am. It’s gonna get real cosy on that horse an’ I reckon we should be on first name terms.”


Real life Kid groaned. “Sheesh!”


“What?” Heyes demanded.


“Who writes this stuff? Now THAT is right outta a dime novel if ever I heard it!”


Heyes sniffed. “I think it’s called giving the public what they want.”


“How’s that?”


“The hero is supposed to be all gentlemanly and er … heroic.” The Kid looked doubtfully. “I’m telling ya Kid, that’s what sells novels these days.”


“Yeah but I never noticed ya writing cheesy stuff like that in your books an’ you ain’t done too bad.”


“That’s ‘cos I write about real folks,” Heyes said, tongue in cheek and cleared his throat. He flicked through a few pages. “Anyway I’ll skip ahead over the plottin’ an’ plannin’. All ya need to know is that ya managed quite well without that other fella’s help an’ advice.”


Heyes didn’t see the look. He just felt it.


“It was two days before the Kid had a plan he hoped would work. The plan involved a distraction. The Kid would contrive to fall off his horse outside the Blondell house. Emily would hide in the bushes opposite. The accident, timed to coincide with Eric the brother arriving home and opening the front door. While he is distracted helping the Kid up from the inconveniently placed muddy puddle, Emily scoots in unseen and looks for her sister and cousin. They are prepared for rescue and are ready to go.


Outside, the Kid hams it up, mud in the eye, possible broken ankle etc, etc, etc.  As soon as the girls leave the house he keeps Eric occupied for a little longer, and then whistles for his horse. A miraculous recovery!


“Heyes, that’s a terrible plan!”


“It was your plan!” Heyes said, indignantly.


“I wasn’t even there!”


“Yes ya were. It says so right here in this book.” Heyes false smiled at the Kid. “Let me read ya the ending.

You’re a gen-u-ine hero!”


“Emily was waiting around the corner with a wagon. Sarah sat up beside her and Clara in the back. All three grinned broadly, as he came in sight.


“Mr Jones! You were wonderful!”


“Let’s save the thanks ‘till we get back to the cabin. Probably best to put some distance between us and your family.”


“Yes of course. Didn’t I tell you he was wonderful? He thought this whole plan up all on his own.”


Real life Kid rolled his eyes.


Later, the Kid rode back into town. Sitting on the front porch of the hotel was his partner, Hannibal Heyes.


“Well it’s ‘bout time you showed up. I was expecting ya two days ago!”


Heyes tilted his head this way and that, taking in his partner’s mud splattered clothing. He took the cigar out of his mouth to say, “Looks like you er had an interesting two days, while ya were waiting.”


The look Heyes received should have frozen him solid.


“Don’t talk to me Heyes. Not until I’ve had me a hot bath, a decent meal and six or seven whiskies.”


Heyes shrugged and sucked on the cigar. “I’ll join ya for the meal an’ the six or seven whiskies.” He gave the Kid the full double dimple. “I like a good story while I eat.” He paused. “I reckon this’ll be a good ‘un, looking at the state of ya.”
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Once the Kid had related the tale, Heyes realised the seriousness of the situation. He dug his hand into his pocket, pulling out some folded bills.


“How much money ya got Kid?”


“I got paid for my job so I reckon I gotta oh a hundred, mebbe a hun’red an’ thirty.”


Heyes growled. “Well keep the thirty. There’s two hundred. I reckon three hundred will be enough to get ‘em to Denver.”


“More’n enough. Why Denver?”


“’Cos I reckon Soapy owes us a favour for springin’ him from jail that time in Nevada. I’m calling it in. He can put ‘em up for a few days, introduce ‘em around, get ‘em settled. They need to get a fresh start and Denver is jus’ far enough away not to have heard about the Blondell family.”


The Kid smiled at Heyes. “You’re all heart Heyes.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Heyes shut the book with a snap and looked across at the Kid, who sat silently for a moment.


“I know that was only a made up story but er how many other women do ya think don’t have a Kid Curry ridin’ to the rescue?”


The Kid was sombre and Heyes shook his head and sobered with him. “I dunno, Kid. I jus’ know it goes on an’ it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. The authorities need to do something about it an’ the only way they will is if public opinion puts enough pressure on ‘em.”


“Why did ya read me this, Heyes?”


“Well I was keen to know what ya thought. As you are in it.” Heyes looked down at the fingers. “But that ain’t the only reason.”


The Kid instantly picked up Heyes’ change of tone.


Heyes swallowed. He licked his lips, visibly composing himself. “A few months ago, I went to the Wyoming Mayor’s Convention, an’ I heard a real shocking story. I came home an’ kept looking round at folks an’ wondering. Folks I’ve known for years. Folks I’ve trusted my kids with. I suddenly felt suspicious of everybody. Ya never know what goes on behind closed doors do ya? Then I got to thinking was it going on in Porterville, right under my nose? Should I, as Mayor, know about it? Try an’ stop it? Investigate? Start poking into folk’s privacy?” He shook his head and frowned. “I didn’t sleep for days.” He started into space. “Mary made me tell her in the end. I didn’t want to tell her all the details of course but she wheedled it out.” He shook his head.
“Women are far stronger than us Kid, really they are.”


The Kid nodded.


“Mary reminded me that I’m also a writer. So …” Heyes sighed. “I decided the world needed to know ‘bout things like this. The story from the Convention was in confidence so I wrote a fictional account. Lightened it, left out loads of the horrific stuff … jus’ gently easing the reader in.”



The Kid widened his eyes. “You wrote this?”


Heyes looked embarrassed. “Yeah. In case ya ain’t figured it yet, Nial H Benshaye is me.”


He sighed and took up the book again, separating off part of it. “The Kid Curry story only accounts for the first third of the book. I figured if the reader was still with me after that then they might read a little more, so I wrote an essay. In a very neutral, matter of fact kinda way, didn’t go into any specific details, jus’ gradually winding the reader up to expect something shockin’ but makin’ ‘em wanna read on an’ not shut the book in horror. Weren’t easy Kid. Then I wrote the tale I’d heard, anonymously, in all its gory detail. If the reader makes it to the end then I reckon I’ve opened a few eyes.” He paused and looked at the Kid. “What d’ya reckon?”


The Kid took a while to say anything. He went through numerous facial expressions and several puffs before he said, “Why use a different name?”
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Two weeks later at the offices of the Crime Writers Journal, Boston, Heyes interviews for a forthcoming article and we are listening to a recording.


“So turning now to your new book “The Hypocrisy of Victorian Morals”, this is quite a departure from the genre we normally expect from you. You’ve used a nom de plume as well. What is the reasoning behind that?”


“Readers know what to expect when they pick up a Hannibal Heyes book. This ain’t a mystery or a thriller, in my usual style so I thought it deserved a different name.” There is a distinctive Hannibal Heyes laugh. “Except of course Nial H Benshaye IS an anagram of Hannibal Heyes. An’ I’m making no secret that’s it’s really me. I jus’ wanted the reader to expect something a little different that’s all.”


“And could that reason also be that this book may prove to be controversial?”


“Well yes I’ve every reason to hope it will be. Y’know we’re eight years into a brand new century and there are new ways of thinking all around us. It’s about time that some of the things, once considered social norms are now discussed openly. As a society, we shouldn’t tolerate this behaviour anymore and … I think … we should try an’ expose it wherever we find it. I’m hoping my book can shine a small spotlight and ultimately do some good.”


“So you see this book more as a social commentary?”


“Yeah I suppose so. That really wasn’t my first intention but as I got more an’ more into it, I guess that’s what it became. But there’s still a few mysteries to solve and certainly, in the first part everybody lives happily ever after. That part is jus’ a short story.” There was a chuckle. “But I hope the rest is a little more thought provoking. Although I’m aware that not everyone will agree with me. I’m prepared for criticism.”


“So what was the motivation?”


There was pause and then we hear a sigh.


“I was told a story a while back. ‘Cept it wasn’t a story. It left such a powerful impression on me that I felt compelled to put pen to paper and tell it. But I needed to do it in a way that keep the reader, reading so … hooking ‘em with the Kid Curry story first seemed an appropriate way to do it.”


“Kid Curry is the hero of the first part and it is written very much in the style of a dime novel. You haven’t written about your old partner for years. Why bring him back now for this?”


“Although that part of the book is fictional, it was just the kinda thing I could see him involving himself with. I wanted to tell the story an’ I didn’t wanna waste time developing a character from scratch. I knew exactly what the Kid would say an’ do in any given situation so it helped me concentrate on jus’ telling the story. That’s jus’ a story. It’s the rest that’s true.”


“Well, I’ve no doubt “The Hypocrisy of Victorian Morals” will receive an interesting reception when it’s released.”


“I hope so too. I’m looking forward to it.”


There was a pause. “Is there a new Hannibal Heyes book in the pipeline?”


We hear a laugh. “Yeah it’s comin’ along. It’s gonna be called “The Blindfolded Man”. But I am NOT gonna say anymore. You’re jus’ gonna havta wait an’ see.”

__________________________________________________________________________________

*Blondell and Touchrock is referring to Blodgett, the bank president of Touchstone. In Heyes’ autobiographic novels, (alluded to) he always changes the names slightly to ones that sound similar.

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:46 pm

A/N--This is from a character that originated in Chapter 12 of 'Thrown For A Loop' if you want to read the original text that inspired this. I don't think you would have to read the whole story to understand this particular character's actions, you could just look at that chapter. It just happened one day, if that makes any sense whatsoever. Again, it's nuts.. I'm sorry  Rolling Eyes

oooooasjoooo

The Journal

October 13th, 1883
Dear Diary,

Today was wonderful! I'm STILL excited over it! I'm tired, but I can't sleep for thinking about it!

It started out very boring, like almost every other day in this town. I fixed myself my usual four eggs and toast then left for work. On the way to the library, I picked up the latest paper to read. I know the library has books, but I've already read most of them, especially the dime novels. I love the dime novels! Why can't I ever have any adventures like those outlaws and sheriffs get to have? Oh well, I just enjoy reading about outlaws. I would love to have an outlaw for a boyfriend! A nice one. That would make me sooo happy! My nice, bad boy outlaw boyfriend. He could rob a bank and we could take all the money and live a life of luxury. Oh well, enough wishing for now. Seems the only way I can get a man is to come on to them myself. They all seem to run away from me. I wonder if it's my height that scares them away? I can't help that I'm six foot three. My cat just killed a mouse.

Anyway, I opened up the building, went in, checked everything like I do everyday, then sat myself down at the desk. That desk is little. I think I wrote that about the desk on some day last week, but I can't remember if I did or not so I wrote it again. I'm too tired to go back and check.

It was getting to be about time for lunch when HE walked into the library. Oh my gosh, was he the most handsome thing I've ever laid my eyes on! He had dark hair pushed up in under a black hat, brown eyes that looked like they just oozed mischief, and when he came over to the desk and smiled at me, my knees went weak. He had the cutest dimples! He said his name was Joshua Smith. 'Judy and Joshua Smith',... sounds like a good match to me! I decided right then, I had to have this man.

I don't remember exactly what he asked me. I was lost looking into those dark chocolate eyes. Whatever the question was, I must've answered because he turned to walk off. I grabbed him by the shoulder and told him I'd help him any way I could. Then I let go and he walked to the back shelf. And what a walk! I could watch that backside all day, even if it was partly covered by a jacket!

He found his books and sat down with his back to me at one of the tables. I held my paper up like I was reading, but I was really just watching him. He seemed to be searching for something in the book he had, so I walked up behind him and grabbed him by the shoulder again. I must've scared him because he jumped like he'd been shot.
I asked him if he was finding what he wanted. I had certainly found what I wanted! I looked down at him sitting in that chair and it was all I could do not to attack him right then and there. He said he was fine, (and he certainly was), so I went back to the desk.

He read for a little bit, then put the books back and looked at another for a minute or two, then he started to leave. But I couldn't just let him leave. You don't see men like him everyday. So I hurried over and blocked the door. It was so cute, the way his head just barely came above my shoulders! I asked him was he leaving so soon and he said he had found what he was looking for and had to go. Well, I told him I'D found what I was looking for too. I actually made him blush! It was adorable!

He said he had to get back to Destiny Loop to his partner. I grabbed him by the arm and asked if his partner was a woman. He said no, but he had to meet his partner at a certain time and didn't want him him to worry. No! He can't leave yet! So I put my other hand on his shoulder and was firmly holding him in place. I suggested he send his friend a telegraph telling him he'd be late, but he told me the lines to Destiny Loop were down.

All of a sudden, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to kiss those lips. I jerked him forward and gave him the best kiss of his life. He started playing hard to get, struggling to lean back from me. That just made me want him more.

I finally released him and he stepped back. He said something and then I grabbed the lapels of his jacket. I could tell deep down he wanted me, but didn't want to show it.

Then, a wonderful thing happened. He told me his name was really Hannibal Heyes! Hannibal Heyes, the outlaw leader! I had hit the jackpot! There was no way I was letting him go now! I had my outlaw boyfriend! Ahh, Mrs. Hannibal Heyes...sounds sooo good!

I looked straight into his eyes and knew he was telling the truth. They looked all dark and dangerous. But that didn't bother me none. He grabbed my wrists and I knew what he wanted. So I lunged forward and we ended up in the floor together!

I fell on top of him and he would NOT be still. I don't know how he expected me to kiss him when he was moving every which way. But I managed to do it anyway. I sat on his chest, got ahold of his head, and started kissing away.

He was STILL playing hard to get though for some reason. He was yelling for me to get off him, that ladies didn't act that way, and asked me was I crazy. But I knew he didn't really mean it. Suddenly, he pushed my shoulders and I lost my balance for a second and he turned and I fell onto my side on the floor. He tried to get up as fast as he could, but I was faster! His hat had fallen down on his back, so I grabbed the stampede string and jerked him back down to his knees. I might have choked him a little bit because he coughed. I grabbed hold of his shoulders and tried to pull him to the floor. But I only had ahold of his jacket and he started acting like he was trying to take it off. Now we were getting somewhere! Then I caught hold of his shirt collar and that got him back down to the floor. He was still telling me I was crazy so I said, "Yeah, and you're dangerous so we're a perfect match!"

I finally made it around to where I could sit on his legs. So I did and then I grabbed his arms and tried holding him down. This was a dream come true! But I couldn't hold him there. No wonder the law can't catch him and hold onto him. He's more slippery than a greased pig. I let go of his arms and grabbed his lapels again. He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed again. This time when I lost my balance, I held on to him so we both fell over on our sides.

He scrambled back to his hands and knees and was about to get up, but again, I moved quicker so I jumped and sat on his back. That pushed him back to the floor. I don't know why he kept playing so hard to get. We both knew what we wanted. I ran my hands through his dark hair and held his head once more to the side. He kept trying to raise back up on his knees, but I wasn't having none of that. He was right where I wanted him.

I told him to take me back to his hideout while I held onto him and kissed some more. At last, he quit fighting me and said, "Okay", he would take me away to live with him at Devil's Hole and that I should let him up so I could get my things and we could get going.

So I let go, and as soon as he stood up, he bolted out the door and jumped on his horse. I ran out to get him back, but he took off. I yelled that I loved him. He said something as he rode past the sheriff. I bet he was saying he loved me too and he'd be back. I understood. Of course he had to run, the sheriff was coming.

But as I stood in the street and watched him gallop off with my heart, I told him I would find him again someday. The sheriff came up to me and asked me if that was really Hannibal Heyes and I said yes while smiling real big and trying to push my hair out of my face. I figured he would go get a posse and go after my love. But then, the sheriff asked me the strangest question. He asked me what did I do to the poor boy. I looked completely innocent and said, "Nothing". Just because three men have tried to file assault charges on me, now I get this question all the time.

The sheriff just shook his head and left. I walked back into the library and sat down, thinking about my outlaw love. I was starting to get sad, but then I remembered he said he was meeting Kid Curry in Destiny Loop. Hmmm... why settle for one outlaw when I could have TWO! And not just any two, the two best outlaws there was! So I hurried and closed the library up and ran home to get ready.

I stopped at the cafe first though because it was past lunch time and I was hungry. I wished I hadn't though because the school teacher came in and asked me to open the library back up so she could get a book she needed for class. So I had to go back over there after I ate.

By the time I got everything settled and got home to get my horse ready, I was frantic with worry. What if they left without me? So as soon as I could change clothes, get my hair fixed, and my makeup back on, I fixed up my horse and rode as fast as I could to Destiny Loop. I wondered where two outlaws would be staying in town. Then I remembered Hannibal had used the name 'Joshua Smith', so I went to the hotel and asked if someone by that name was there. The clerk said yes and I found out which room was theirs and quietly climbed the stairs.

I knocked and a voice asked who was it. I wanted to surprise Hannibal so I said I had a message for Mr. Smith. But he didn't answer the door.

The man that did though, WOO! He was just as handsome as Hannibal! Dark blond, curly hair under a floppy brown hat and eyes the color of sapphires. He was just a tiny bit bigger than Hannibal and then it hit me,...he wasn't just an outlaw, he was also a gunslinger! This was Kid Curry!

Once again, I couldn't control myself. My heart jumped for joy and I jumped on him. Hannibal looked down as we fell to the floor. But I'm afraid, dear diary, I must stop here tonight. Kid Curry's a whole other story and I'm too tired to write anymore.

Love, Judy

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:19 pm

Heat Stroke  Part II

A massive explosion rent the air, showering rocks and stones down on the men taking shelter beside the dam.  The Kid raised his head above their hiding place and nodded towards the cloud of dust scurrying towards them.  “That didn’t take long.  It’s only the third blast.”

They watched the cloud grow bigger until the three men at its core came into view.  Heyes and Curry emerged from their concealment and sat on a nearby rock waiting for their new employer to make his feelings about the incendiary improvements to the landscape clear.  It didn’t take long for Roseburn to pull his horse to a halt in front of them.  “What the hell is going on here?”


Heyes pulled off his hat to wipe his brow and peered at his employer through eyes slanted against the intense sun.  “It’s the men over at the Martin place.  They’re dynamiting.”


“Right next to my land?  What are they up to?”


“Who knows?” shrugged the fair-headed ex-outlaw.  “You paid us to make sure they don’t knock down your dam.”  He cast out a hand over to the devastation on the other side of the blockage.  “Well they ain’t.  If anthin’ they made it a whole lot stronger.  They added most of the hillside to it.”


“We made sure your dam wasn’t damaged at all, Mr. Roseburn,” Heyes twinkled a gleaming smile at his employer.  “They were warned to be real careful and they were.”


The Kid cast a gloved hand out towards the now-distant figures on the Martin land.  “They’re now blastin’ out near the house.  I thought the little fella was pretty skilled with explosives, missin’ your dam so close and all, but I’m not so sure now.”


Roseburn leaped down from his mount and strode over to the border of his land.  The other side of the dam was a scene of complete devastation, with most of the nearby incline now tumbled across the dried up riverbed.  “Why didn’t you come and get me?” 


“We were gonna, until we saw the dust you raised,” the Kid replied.  “It was obvious you were already on your way.”


Smart stumbled across the stones and rumble thrown across the border into Roseburn’s land.  “Why would they add to the dam?  This makes no sense.” 

“Yeah, they’ve move over to blast near the well.  We spoke to them.  They said they heard tell of some old spring somewhere and they’re blockin’ the river to guide the spring along the original riverbed.”  The tousled head shook.  “A fool’s errand if you ask me.   They’re blastin’ the Martin place to bits.  I feel kinda sorry for that poor woman. But it ain’t my business.”

Everyone flinched as another detonation rent the bright summer sky, but this one was further off in the distance, so nobody sought cover.  They merely gazed off at the cloud of debris blossoming against the bright blue sky with frowns of curiosity.  “And she’s paying these men to blow up her entire spread?” Martin shook his head.  “That’s just plain loco.  What’s she looking for?”


“No idea,” Heyes shrugged.  “So what do you want us to do now, Mr. Roseburn?  You paid us to guard the dam and it’s going nowhere, not with half the hillside brought down on the other side of it.”


Their employer paused and glanced at his charge hand.  “Head back to the bunkhouse.  Martin will find something for you to do.”


oooOOOooo                                   


“You want me to deliver, what to where?  The schoolhouse?” The Kid propped his hands on his hips.  “Why do they want a case of brandy?”


“That ain’t none of your business,” A secretive smile played over Martin’s lips, “but the school teacher can’t be seen buying hooch, and the boss is none too keen on visitin’ places where the strongest thing being served is tea.   The teacher’s name is Mamie Kelly.  She’ll know what’s in the box.”


The blue eyes twinkled with mischief.  “Visitin’?  The teacher?  Need help with his readin’, does he?”


“Don’t get me started on what he needs help with.”  Martin shook his head ruefully.  “Mrs. Roseburn calls the shots around here.  It’s her money that runs the place.  If she finds out about this it’ll mean my job.  I’ll get the blame because he’s got me sorting things out for him.”


“She’s rich is she?”


“Rich?  Her folks own half the county.”  Martin loaded a jingling box on the wagon.  “They own the spread next to here, and it makes this place look like a homestead in comparison.”


“A man’s gotta be real dumb to play around on his wife right under her nose,” the Kid replied climbing up on the vehicle.  “Especially a rich one with powerful folks.”


“Yeah, there’s a crowd who all cover for each other.  You know how it goes.  They claim there’s a poker game.”  Martin paused.  “Are you married?”


“Nope,” the fair man gathered the reins in his hands.  “Never stood still long enough to get caught.  I intend to keep it that way too,” he snapped the leather straps to urge the horses into motion. “For a long, long time.  See you in a bit.”


oooOOOooo


She moved with a quiet grace, her serenity standing out like the eye of the storm in the midst of the hollering, scampering children in the schoolyard.  The ex-gunman smiled to himself as the children streamed passed the wagon, hooting with joy at their release from a day’s incarceration, letting them pass before stepping down from the wagon, jerking back suddenly to avoid the little boy who suddenly ran off in a tangent.  “Hey there, little man.  Where’re you goin’ in such a rush?”


A pair of puppy-dog eyes blinked from the face of an urchin.  “Sorry, mister.”  The lad’s face split into a freckled grin before he ran off after his accomplices.  The Kid was still smiling as he turned to face the teacher.  “Miss Kelly?”


Her hazel eyes widened in surprise.  “Yes.  How can I help you?”


“Mr. Martin sent me.  From Roseburn’s place?  I’ve got a delivery for you.”


“Oh.”  He could have sworn that her face clouded with disappointment.  “Please, follow me.”


He heaved the crate from the bed of the wagon and strolled behind her, taking time to fully appreciate the allure of her sway and the glimpse of her slim ankles as she grasped her skirts to bustle up the porch steps.  She held open the door and pointed over to the table.  “Just put it there, please.”  He nodded and did as he was bid, tipping the brow of his hat as he turned to leave.  “Oh, wait.”


“Ma’am?”


“I have some empty…,” she blushed.  “Mr. Martin asked me to make sure that I returned any rubbish to him.” 


He contained any reaction, guessing that signs of expensive brandy bottles in the schoolteacher’s garbage would be certain to get tongues wagging.  “Sure.  Where is it?”


She pulled back the curtain masking off the bottom of a dresser.  “In here.”


He reached down, the contents making incriminating chinks and clinks as he raised it.  Mamie blushed an even deeper puce.  “You must think I’m terrible.”


“I ain’t much of a thinker, ma’am, or so my partner always tells me.  I’m more of a doer.”


“I don’t drink heavily.  I really don’t,” she sniffed.  “It’s for entertaining guests and members of the school committee.  I don’t even like the stuff, but Mr. Roseburn insists I entertain.  It comes with the position.”


“Well, we’ve all got to do things we don’t like sometimes,” he replied as reassuringly as he could as he quietly appraised her.  Whatever she was getting out of this relationship with Roseburn it wasn’t money.  The small cabin was pristine but poorly-furnished and her neatly pressed clothes were obviously home made, but she was pretty enough to make anything she wore seem like the height of elegance, especially with her caramel-colored curls piled high on her head.  He pushed for more information.  “Have you been here long?”


“About a year.  The Roseburns know my family.  When my father died Mr. Roseburn suggested this post to help out my mother.”  She paused with downcast eyes.  “It’s been a lonely year.  All I do is teach, clean the schoolhouse, and go to church.  I only see people when I go to choir practice.”  She paused.  “You’re new here?”

            
”Passin’ through,” he shrugged.  “I guess we’ll pass through everywhere until we have a reason to stay put.  In the meantime we keep lookin.’”


“We?”


He nodded.  “Me and my partner.  We’ve worked together since we were nippers.  With his book smarts and my practical turn we can find somethin’ that pays most places we go.  Two heads are better’n one.”


“And what are you looking for, Mr….?”


“Jones.  Thaddeus Jones.”  He shifted his weight from one leg to the other as he considered the question.  “I guess I’m looking for pretty much the same as everyone else.  It’s just that some of us don’t have it leap into our hands.”


“We certainly don’t,” she agreed.  “And do you think this town will offer any of that, Mr. Jones?”


He watched her eyes gleam with desperation.  “Who knows?  What do you think, Miss Kelly?  What does a town like Comfort have to offer folks like us?”


She paused, her pout slanting off to the side as she thought.  “It’s a growing town.”


The Kid raised his brows in surprise.  “It is?  It seems like a one horse town to me.”


“It is, but it’s going to grow soon.”


“How do you know that?” 


She tensed, sensing she had said too much.  “Roseburn says so.  He has some kind of deal coming.”  She nodded over to the box he held.  “You’d better go.  It won’t do my reputation any good to have young handsome men loitering in my home.”


“You think I’m handsome, Miss Kelly?” grinned the Kid.  He watched her pale face color from the neck up once more, amused at how readily she blushed.  “I’m flattered that a lady as pretty as you could waste more’n on glance at me, let alone pay me such a pretty compliment.  Are you walkin’ out with anyone?  Could I take you to dinner, or maybe a picnic somewhere?”


“No,” she blurted, before she realized the vehemence.  “I…I can’t.  I’m not allowed until I’ve been here two years, and even then I need permission.” 


“That’s a cryin’ shame, Miss Kelly,” he touched the brow of his hat.  “Maybe rules like that will keep a man movin’ on?  Goodbye.  Maybe we’ll meet somewhere else?”


She pouted as her downcast eyes underscored a deep malaise.  “Very possibly, Mr. Jones.  Very possibly.”


oooOOOooo


The small man squinted through the darkness.  “They’re comin’.”


“How’d you know?” muttered the baritone voice beside him.


“I pissed them.”


Heavy brows met in bewilderment.  “Huh?”


The small one craned into the night.  “I went, ‘pssst’.” 


The crunch of booted feet on the arid soil confirmed the little fella’s suspicions.  People were approaching.  A chocolate-brown voice drifted through the night air.  “Kyle?  Where are you?”


The little man stood.  “Over here, Heyes.  We’s behind this big rock.”


Two figures moved towards the boundary between the Martin and Roseburn places.  “So, what’ve you found out?”             


“Not much,” Wheat replied.  “They all know we work here so folks ain’t talkin’.”


Heyes sighed deeply.  “Yes, we had the same problem for a bit there.  So you haven’t heard anything at all?”


“Well, I heard the man who runs the telegraph office call me a sneaky, low-down, no-good saddle tramp,” Kyle asserted.  “If I hadn’t been hidin’ under the window I’d have swung for him.  This ain’t a friendly town.”


The light of the moon caught the grins of the other men as they sought out convenient rocks to perch on for their surreptitious meeting.  Wheat pulled off his hat, the oppressive heat making his hair matte and cling to his sweaty forehead.  “So what’ve you found out?”   


“Roseburn has political ambitions and is determined to make this town grow,” the Kid fanned himself with his own hat. 


“There’s been surveying work done in the area and Roseburn is determined that the town is going to grow,” Heyes nodded.  “The West is full of towns competing to survive, and it can get real cut-throat.  People sink their whole lives into a place, only for it to turn into a ghost town where you can’t sell up and your life’s work is worth no more than a hill of beans.  Roseburn isn’t going to let that happen, no matter what it takes.”


“Even if it means starvin’ out Hank’s wife and kid out of house and home,” mused the Kid.  “We had no idea who they were until you two turned up.  We’re always happy to help the families of ex- gang members.  Mrs. Martin and her son sure have it tough.”


“Yeah, it’s either railway or mining,” Heyes agreed.  “I don’t know which yet, so I’ve gotta get into his office to see what he’s up to.  One thing’s for sure, we’ve confused him by taking away control of the dam.  That bought us time.”


“We managed to get some water  flowin’ by blastin’ around the well,” Kyle spat out a tobacco-stained wad.  “There’s a spring that’s flowin’real good now.  Too late for this year’s crops, but enough to water a vegetable garden.  They might survive with a little help.”


“Just like Hank and his wife,” the Kid retorted bitterly.  “He wanted to go straight and start a family.  Is that really too much to ask?”


“No,” Heyes stood.  “It’s not.  And if this town’s growing, Hank and his folks are gonna get a piece of it.  I’ll make sure of it.”    

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:06 pm

By Appointment to Her Majesty

“Heyes, it’s amazin’ these suits don’t wrinkle so much when we’re on the trail.”

Hannibal Heyes raised a brow. “Yeah, you’d think we had magic saddlebags or something.” He smiled. “What’s amazing is the prices here in the big city for a room, bath, and the livery. Barely had any left over for the pressing. If Soapy can’t help us out …”

“Well, he’s never left us high and dry.” Jed “Kid” Curry fidgeted. “This suit is itchy. Could probably use a new one.”

“Not with seventy two cents between us.”

Both men glanced at each other in shared realization before taking in their surroundings. The stark contrast between their meager accommodations at a local boardinghouse and the drawing room of their friend’s San Francisco mansion was palpable: One could aspire to something grand, but that took sums to accomplish, and first they needed a job.

Their gaze landed on a cigar box, the mahogany carved in a decorative pattern. At another time they might have helped themselves to a stogie, knowing their friend and mentor would not mind; but now, knowing beggars could not be choosers, propriety seemed the best route. If Soapy had summoned them, perhaps they would, but they had gotten in touch with him.

“Boys, boys, so good to see you.” Soapy, a man of slight stature, greeted them warmly. “It has been a long time.”

Their reverie broken, the partners stood straight. Both extended their hands.

“It has,” Heyes replied. “We don’t get this way very often.”

They shook hands all around, and Soapy bade them sit. A houseboy appeared and offered cigars from the chest. When Soapy waved a no, the partners did as well.

“Boys, it’s not like you to refuse a cigar. Please, help yourselves. I’m just over a touch of indigestion, so none for me, but no need for you to do without.” Soapy motioned for them to partake, and they did. “And, Laszlo, I will join my friends in a sip of brandy, please.” The three exchanged pleasantries while the houseboy served and left the room.

Relaxed in his chair, Soapy crossed a leg and set his snifter aside. “So you boys are in need of a job, is that correct?” Before they could answer, he continued, “These are desperate times. I’m glad I’m retired, except to repay favors when necessary, of course.”

Heyes paused. “These are hard times. We haven’t had any luck getting work for two months. We were hoping you’d know of something.” He looked at his partner. “Kid can always shoot something, but he’s getting tired of rabbit and low on ammunition.” Curry rolled his eyes.

“You boys will never go hungry when I’m around. You will join me for supper this evening. In the meantime, I’ve been asking around since I got your wire, and you’re in luck. A restauranteur friend of mine needs specialized hunters. The work’s not too hard and pays well, things I know you boys prefer.” He smiled and withdrew a piece of paper from his vest pocket. “Here’s his name and address. He’s expecting you this afternoon.”

--000—

Alighting from the cab Laszlo had hailed for them, the partners stood in front of a grand entrance arrayed in classic but stylish architectural accoutrement. The large window to the left of the entrance bore two lines painted in gold lettering – Estelle’s, Frisco’s Fabulous Food Emporium.

As they approached, the doorman stopped them. “Sorry, gents, we’re closed until dinnertime.”

Kid Curry narrowed an eye. “Closed? What kind of restaurant closes in the middle of the day?”

Heyes quipped, “The fancy kind, Thaddeus.” Addressing the doorman, he wore his best smile. “Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones to see Mr. Applegate, at the behest of Mr. Soapy Saunders. I believe he’s expecting us.” Heyes handed him Soapy’s calling card.

“Ah, now why didn’t you say so sooner? Of course, of course. Anything for Mr. Soapy. Wait here.” He entered the restaurant, returning before Kid could complain again about the itchy suit. Holding the door open, he waved them in. “Mr. Applegate will have the pleasure of your company.”

Squinting as they entered, they marveled at the grandiosity of the establishment – leather-banqueted booths situated beneath individual chandeliers, all already set for dinner with starched white linens and the finest china and silver plate polished to a gleaming shine. Kid Curry whistled in amazement, and Heyes imagined a great gambling hall in the middle of it all.

A well-dressed man approached. “Gentlemen, gentlemen, I’m Ambrose Applegate. Soapy speaks highly of you. Please have a seat.” They shook hands and slid into the booth he indicated. “I will cut right to the chase. I’m in need of specialized hunters, and Soapy said you two fit the bill.”

“Well, yes, we have been employed as hunters,” Heyes answered. “Large cats mostly.”

Curry chimed in, “That’s right. I imagine you need lots of fresh game for this place.”

Applegate grinned. “Oh no, no, no, not that kind of hunting. No guns necessary.”

The partners glanced at each other in confusion.

“You see, I’m in need of morel hunters.”

“You mean, ethical?” Heyes asked.

“We do have scruples, Mr. Applegate. We don’t go shootin’ somethin’ just for fun. I mean, we hunt to eat.” Curry paused. “But wait, did I hear you right – no guns needed?”

“You heard right indeed, Mr. Jones. I need morels, the bigger and more abundant the better. You need baskets only, for gathering, and maybe a knife for the tough ones.”

“A knife? I don’t see how it’s more moral to slit their throats than to just shoot ‘em. Makes ‘em hard to catch.” Kid shook his head as he explained. “And a basket’s not a good trap; you need good, spring-loaded ones.”

Heyes’ face scrunched. “Mr. Applegate, my partner knows what he’s talking about. But what type of game do you mean, exactly? I don’t think you mentioned that.”

Applegate’s hands gestured to make his point. “Morels, Mr. Smith. As I said, I’m in need of morel hunters.”

“Morals?” Heyes and Curry asked in unison. Kid continued, “Mr. Applegate, like I said, we got scruples …”

The restauranteur laughed. “Oh no, not scruples … Morels …”

“Uh, scruples, morals … they’re the same thing.” Curry’s voice rose slightly. He paused and glanced at his partner. Heyes put a calming hand on his shoulder.

“Mr. Applegate, if I understand you right, you’re looking for moral hunters?” Heyes asked.

“Not moral. Morels.”

“Morals,” Heyes repeated.

“Yes, morels.”

Heyes opened his mouth but nothing came out.

“Fungi.”

“Fungi?” Heyes sighed.

“That’s correct.”

Both partners shrugged and shook their heads. Heyes spoke. “Soapy did say you needed specialized hunters. I’m sorry, but we’re not that specialized.”

“Have you ever picked berries, gentlemen?” Applegate asked.

Curry answered, “Sure, as kids, for ma’s pies, but …”

“Well, that’s all there is to it. A basket and a knife for the tough ones.”

“You want us to berry pick? A kid could do that.” Kid paused. “You don’t need us.”

“Oh, but I do. This is most definitely not a job for children, Mr. Jones. Around here, morels are found far in the woods and can be difficult to find. We need to keep up our standards and serve only the best.” Applegate paled and pursed his lips. “And the truth be told, gentlemen, I need a steady supply and will pay top dollar for them. They’re a cash crop and a delicacy …”

Heyes sighed. “That’s all well and good, Mr. Applegate, but we can’t hunt what we don’t know. I’m sorry.” With that, the partners started to slide out of the booth.

“Wait!” Applegate rose. “Give me just a minute.” He hurried to the back and returned with pencil and paper, drawing quickly. “There – a morel.”

Curry observed, “A tree? We have to climb a tree to find this critter?

“No, no.” Applegate drew again as he explained, “It’s a fungi, a morel. Sometimes wrongly pronounced ‘mor-relle.’ Um … a mushroom!”

“That’s a funny lookin’ mushroom,” Curry noted.

Understanding hit Heyes. “Wait, you want us to hunt … mushrooms?”

“Yes. Mushrooms.” Applegate sighed in glee. “But not just any mushroom. Only morels.”

Curry paraphrased. “A morel is a mushroom?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” Kid asked.

“I did. But now that we understand each other, that’s neither here nor there. Truth be told, an upstart restaurant has opened, and the owner is doing quite a business selling morels by Appointment to the Queen. And our business is suffering as a result. Sour grapes and all that, you know.”

Heyes’ eyes narrowed. “By Appointment to the Queen? I presume you mean Queen Victoria?”

“Indeed, Mr. Smith.”

“But how?” Heyes scratched his head. “Whether they came around the Horn or across the Atlantic and by train cross-country, they’d be rotten by the time they got here.”

“They’re dried in England before shipping. As long as they didn’t get wet, they’d be fine.”

Curry made a face. “They’d taste like leather.”

“Oh no, Mr. Jones. On the contrary, drying retains their delicate flavor and meaty texture. They are actually quite delicious. And the cachet of being by Appointment to the Queen just adds to their appeal. The only way I can compete with that is to find the best around here.”

Heyes added, “And that’s where we come in.”

Applegate smiled. “Yes, gentlemen. That is where you come in.”

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PostSubject: Re: The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals   Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:38 pm

Sorry.  I only seem to be able to do poems. 


Cheating?


They're all hypocrites


Hunting for thieves.


It's not Monday to Friday,


that interests me,


it's how you choose to spend


your Saturday nights.


And more times than not,


you'll find the preachers


spanked up in a brothel


or the mayor in the neighbor’s bed


when the one who placed


that ring upon their finger


thought they were walking the dog.


Wear the gold cross,


around the family home


and go to church on Sundays,


but everyone knows


they ignore the prostitute they pass in the street


though they know her oh so well.


And she him.


It doesn't fool anyone.


They only carry on with the act


While the scent of her cheap perfume


still lingers on his clothes


We're all hypocrites


Even me.


Here I am welcoming back the posse


and changing the bed sheets with a smile.


I suppose that’s easy to do


when I know Heyes and Curry never left town,


I know where they’ve been watching, waiting, and sleeping.


And they pay me for their room.


At least they’re honest crooks

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The Hypocrisy Of Victorian Morals
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