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PostSubject: Bars   Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:25 am

Time for a new challenge for August.  This one was chosen by Remuda and it's a great one.  Your challenge prompt is:  


Bars
Jail


That can be any take on that you want; saloons, taverns, jails, prisons, gold or ilver bullion, a bar on entry, or any other imaginative take you can come up with.  


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before you start.  Late babies need as much love as new ones, and comments are the only thanks the writers get.     


Get writing!


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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:17 am

I didn't think I would be able to get a story for this month but then a bunny hopped.

Bars

The prisoner, surrounded by members of the newly formed Cheyenne City police department, entered slowly and hesitantly. The custody sergeant opened a cell door. With obvious reluctance, he gestured for the prisoner to enter.


The prisoner hesitated, swallowed hard, nodded and walked in slowly. The door clanged shut behind him and he visibly jumped, looking round. He sighed. Dropping his hat on the bunk, he ran a hand nervously through his straight brown hair, lightened with age and flecked with grey.


Conscious that eyes were watching him, he half turned his head so he could watch them back, through the corner of his eye. Perhaps ashamed that they had been staring, everyone moved at once. A few drifted away. Others found an excuse to stay and struck up low conversations, unwilling to leave the presence of the curiosity in the cell. It was not often they had such an infamous prisoner in their jail. Or a notable and respectable citizen. Certainly never, one who was the same person.


One man approached the cell. The most senior man present, the Captain. Gripping the bars tightly, he looked at the man inside the cell.


“I’m sorry I had to do this. Had to arrest you. No choice.” He sounded apologetic.


The prisoner nodded in acknowledgement. He sat down heavily on the bunk, facing away from his audience. He leant forward and dropped his head into his hands. He let out a deep sigh.


How had it come to this? He shook his head. He didn’t remember what had sparked it off. All he could see was a blur. Just hazy images of the Senator on the floor, Susan’s horrified face, blood. Then the Kid pressing a handkerchief to his knuckles.


He looked at these now. The grazes that still stung. The bruises that were beginning to colour. He flexed his fingers and winced at the discomfort. His shoulder ached too. He had probably strained it. He circled his shoulder, fingers prodding the socket to try to isolate where it hurt exactly.


He shook his head again, in disgust. He couldn’t believe it. What had he been thinking? How could he have done it? It was the most important evening of Susan’s life. His eyes watered. The one time his wayward daughter had done something he could be proud of and he … HE … had ruined it for her. He buried his face in his hands.


It just didn’t bear thinking about. Knowing how stubborn Susan was she probably would never speak to him again. He grunted humourlessly. He knew where she got THAT from. Oh she might come round if he was apologetic enough, ate enough humble pie for long enough. He sighed. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing her again anytime soon. And he certainly didn’t want to see her in his present circumstances.


Oh and then there was Mary. He groaned and rubbed his eyes. He had let her down too. He had promised her years ago, before they were married, THAT man had gone. And it wasn’t just Mary, the boys were there too. His whole family. He groaned again. It just got worse. The Kid and his family, civilised easterners, not used to the Wild West as they thought of it. Tonight’s events had done nothing to dispel that. Friends, clients, colleagues, the great and the good of Cheyenne society. Even Wheat turned up!


All witnesses to his shame. The punch he didn’t know he had. The punch fuelled by … what had fuelled it? He sighed. Sadly, he knew the answer. The dislike of a man he had crossed swords with politically on more than one occasion. And blind rage. Cold, calculating, uncontrollable blind rage.


He shuddered at the thought. The black temper he called Hannibal Heyes. The one he had used to keep the Gang in order. The one he thought he had under control but obviously not.


He raised his head and looked at the bars surrounding him. A slight smile crossed his face. It was ironic. The last time he had sat in a jail cell must be over twenty-five years ago. Back then he was either waiting for his partner to spring him or busy thinking up a plan to escape. But this time nobody was coming to rescue him. This time there would be no escape, except after due process. This time there would be a trial and a sentence for Hannibal Heyes. This time, the first and only time he hoped, Hannibal Heyes would, convicted, have a criminal record.


With a sigh, he stretched out on the bunk and stared at the ceiling. He would await his fate. Nothing he could do now. What would be will be.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Then ‘cos I know you’ll be wondering what he’s done.


Earlier in the evening at the soiree for the opening of a new art gallery.


“Wasn’t aware that you were interested in art, Joshua?” Senator Charles Grainger, asked seeing Heyes studying a painting.


Heyes straightened up slowly but didn’t turn to look at the man who stood beside him.


“I’m not particularly but I came to support my daughter,” he said, politely but through gritted teeth.


“Of course. It’s a wonderful thing she’s doing. By opening this art gallery, she’s bringing a touch of sorely needed culture to Cheyenne. And about time too. This is a state capitol, not a frontier town.”


Heyes nodded and false smiled at him.


“But she’s a talented artist in her own right of course. I haven’t looked at all the paintings here but I recognise her hand in a few,” Grainger went on.


“Yes,” Heyes forced out in agreement. “I understand you’ve already bought some of her work.”


“Yes. I always like to encourage talent when I see it. And I see it clearly in Susan.”


Heyes hesitated, licking his lips. “Is that because you like her work? Or because you wanted to seduce her?”
Heyes growled in a low voice.


Grainger laughed but not loudly enough to attract attention. “Straight to the point as ever, Joshua.” He said starting to walk away. He stopped. “Oh and just for the record. SHE seduced me. Took me completely by surprise. Didn’t see it coming at all.” He smiled, ruefully. “And I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying it.”


He swept away, leaving Heyes silently seething. The twitching muscle in his cheek the only sign of his mood.


Mary walked over and took Heyes’ arm.


“Don’t let him upset you, Josh. This evening is about Susan remember?” she hissed in his ear.


“Yeah,” he growled.


Mary patted his arm. “Another twenty minutes and we can reasonably leave. Come and talk to Harry. You haven’t said a word to him all evening.”


Heyes allowed Mary to pull him away to join the group that included their sons, Harry and Billy.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Susan was having a great evening. Anybody who was anybody in Cheyenne was here, she had sold paintings already, the wine was flowing and there wasn’t much left of the buffet. Laughing and flirting, she had charmed everyone. She had been on her feet all evening and a sudden lull in her hospitality allowed her to reflect on how much her feet now hurt.


“You’re glowing tonight,” Charles Grainger, purred in her ear behind her, his hands creeping around her waist.


Susan smiled and she hunched her shoulders as he kissed her neck.


“That’s because it’s been a good evening. I think it’s going very well. Don’t you think?”


“Yes. It is. And what happens afterwards, Susan?” he asked, pointedly, his chin resting on her shoulder.


“Oh,” she sighed. “Retire to bed exhausted, I expect.”


“With anybody in particular?”


She laughed. “Naughty man!” She looked at him over her shoulder. “If you must know I have a houseful. Two school friends of mine from Europe are visiting. And my parents and brothers are staying over. I really don’t think you will want to be in such close proximity to my father all night.”


“Perhaps you’re right,” he conceded. “Joshua and me have a hard enough time being civil to each other in public as it is. I’d hate to put too much strain on the old boy.”


Susan laughed. “Thanks for being so understanding, Mr Grainger. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”


Grainger smiled. “So if tonight’s out, can I see you tomorrow?” His hands tightened round her waist and he nosed her neck.


“Tomorrow will be wonderful, Mr Grainger.”


He kissed her cheek. “I can hardly wait,” he whispered in her ear and gave her a squeeze that made her gasp.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Across the room, the sound of a wine glass, slamming down, interrupted conversations of those who heard it. Guests turned to look as Heyes crossed the room, his face hard and purposeful.


“Kid!” Mary gasped a hand over her mouth. She looked fearful.


“I see it, Mary.”


The Kid followed Heyes across the room. He wasn’t in time. Like the rest of the room, he could only watch as

Heyes tapped Grainger on the shoulder.


The Kid knew what was coming.


“Heyes! No!”


But Heyes was lost. As Grainger turned, Heyes punched him square on the nose. The shock and the force knocked Grainger to the floor. There were gasps and confusion all around.


“Leave. My. Daughter. ALONE!”


Heyes stood over the fallen man, clenching and unclenching his fingers. He was shaking and breathing in short, jerky breaths. “I will NOT tell you again!”


“Pappy!” Susan cried.


Heyes glanced at her and she gasped at how hard he looked. Not her mild mannered father at all. This was the face of Hannibal Heyes, notorious outlaw leader, at his most menacing.


Yet seeing her anguish seemed to bring him back to himself. He frowned, looking dazed.


“I’m sorry,” he murmured. He looked round further when he felt a hand on his arm and saw the Kid.


“Heyes?”


Heyes nodded. He allowed the Kid to take him by the arm and lead him outside.


Susan watched them go, tears running down her cheeks. Mary went to her and held her arm. To comfort her daughter? Or to stop herself shaking?


“Susan?”


Susan composed herself. “I’m okay, Mama.” She smiled weakly at her guests.


“Please, carry on. There’s lots more wine and still some food. Please. Enjoy yourself.”


Susan crouched down with Grainger. He was holding a handkerchief to his nose, which was bleeding profusely.


“Charles are you alright?”


“Do I look alright?” he demanded, muffled by the handkerchief. “I think my nose is busted!”


Susan winced. “I’m sure he didn’t hit you that hard,” she said, trying to make light of the situation but failing miserably. Everybody had heard the sound.


Grainger growled. “He shouldn’t have hit me at all. The man is a menace. A … a loose cannon. I’ll have him arrested. Ah!” He grimaced in pain, and then looked round at the crowd still watching. “Somebody help me up!” he barked.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outside, the Kid sat a visibly shaking Heyes on a bench.


“Wanna tell me what all that was about?” he asked, softly, still holding Heyes’ arm to steady him.


Heyes shook his head and looked down. Then he lurched to one side and wretched.


“Oh, Heyes,” the Kid, sighed, rubbing his partner’s back.


When Heyes had finished he sat up straight and groaned.


“Oh, boy! Did I just do what I think I just did?”


The Kid knew he didn’t mean the mess on the ground.


“Yeah, you did.”


Heyes groaned again and shut his eyes. “I lost it Kid,” he breathed. “I haven’t done that in years.”


“Yeah. I recognised it. Guess you don’t remember, huh?”


Heyes put a hand to his forehead and shook his head. “Nope.”


“Ah! Well look here what ya done. Reckon ya’ll remember these for a while.”


Heyes looked down. He suddenly felt incredibly tired. He watched, almost with disinterest as the Kid took out a handkerchief and pressed it over the knuckles of his right hand. He winced.


“Ooh, yeah!”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two days later, finds Heyes stretched out on the chaise lounge in his study at home. One hand behind his head, he is catching up with the newspaper reports of his arrest. He sighed. Most of the headlines are in a similar vein.


Mayor of Porterville hits Senator

Senator and Mayor: Tensions finally boil over

Hannibal Heyes arrested at last

Art Gallery opening marred by unprovoked brawl

He tossed them all aside in disgust and then noticed Mary standing in the doorway.


“Come to gloat?”


“No. I’ve just come to see how you’re feeling,” she said, gently coming into the study. She went to sit down on the end of the chaise lounge and he moved his legs so she could. “You look tired.” She put out a hand and touched his cheek.


“Yeah well ya don’t get much sleep in jail,” he sighed, turning his head away from her, almost wincing at her touch.


“No I don’t suppose you do,” she agreed. She was hesitant. She wanted to be here to comfort him. She also knew right now that he would prefer she didn’t. But there were things to say. She took a deep breath. Better get on with it.


“Josh, it wasn’t your fault …”


“Yeah it was.” He cut her off, sharply. He felt for her hand and squeezed it. “Yes it was, Mary,” he said, more gently. He looked at the ceiling. “I should have been able to control it but I couldn’t … . I’m sorry. I jus’ … couldn’t.” He looked at her sadly. “It was … seeing him touch her like that. In public. It was so … familiar. So …”
He looked lost for words. “So … intimate.”


“They are lovers, Josh,” Mary said, quietly.


Heyes looked away. “I know! But she’s still my daughter an’ … he … had … no right to … manhandle … her … in that way … in front of … in front of everybody!” He was clearly upset and could hardly get his words out. He put a hand to his forehead and squeezed his eyes shut.


“You were only doing what any father would in that situation.”


“Ha! Then it’s a good thing that not every father has a daughter as fast and loose as our Susan, ay Mary?” he snapped. “Jails’d be burstin’ at the seams!”


They sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.


Mary shrugged. “Susan’s Susan, Josh. When was the last time she listened to anything that we said?”


“Are you saying this is all our fault? My fault?” he snapped. He looked away. “That I can’t control my daughter.”


This was an old conversation. There was no answer and Mary patted his arm in sympathy.


“She’s getting her life together now she has Alfie …”


“Who I’m still not convinced isn’t hers!”


“He’s not. There wouldn’t have been time. He’s too old.”


Heyes grunted and folded his arms. He knew perfectly well that the boy he called his grandson wasn’t Susan’s natural child. Alfie was the street urchin Susan had plucked from the Campo in Sienna, adopted and brought home, despite being unmarried.


“I think,” Mary pressed on. “Susan and John Henderson will make the art gallery a success. She has a good eye and they’re going to do mail order. You’ll see.”


"Broom cupboard man,” Heyes muttered.


Mary smiled. “You really must try and remember his name, darling.”


“I found them in a broom cupboard about to …” Heyes rolled his eyes and shuddered. He shook his head.


“She’s promiscuous Mary but it doesn’t excuse what I did,” he said, quietly. He looked at her sheepishly. “I owe you an apology. I promised you he would never come back. I’m sorry.”


Mary put her head on one side and looked at him, fondly. “That wasn’t a promise you could keep. Oh, I know you meant it but he was part of your life for so long. It’s not surprising he reappears from time to time.” She smiled and touched his cheek. “And it’s not very often is it?”


Heyes growled. He took a deep breath. “Apart from that one time when he appeared to you, I’ve kept him at bay but Susan has a habit of awakening him. It’s …” He hesitated and licked his lips. “It’s frightening me Mary.”


“I know.” She hesitated. “Is that why you ask to be arrested as Hannibal Heyes?”


“Yeah I guess. That’s who done it.” Heyes shook his head. “Not Joshua. I dunno, Mary. Maybe I thought … .”
He looked round, seeking inspiration from the ceiling, the walls, anything. He forced out a deep breath. “Maybe I thought by being charged as Heyes I could … keep Joshua outta it.” He shook his head. “I … dunno.”


“Not entirely.”


“No.”


“What’s going to happen now?”


Heyes sighed. “Well they’ll be a trial. I will have to go to court. He’s probably gonna get his lawyers to throw the book at me.” He looked at her sharply. “You know he had ‘em oppose my bail?”


“No!” Mary was shocked.


“Oh yes! That’s why it was so high! Apparently you can’t go round breaking senators’ noses even if they are … seeing more of your daughter than they should be.” He finished with a rueful smile.


Mary smiled too. She was glad his mood was lightening.


Heyes hesitated. “How was she?”


“Her father’s daughter.”


“What’s that mean?” he frowned.


“Pacing about, hands on hips, muttering to herself, calling you names, some I’ve never even heard of!”


Heyes grunted. “She probably learnt them in Europe.”


“She’s calmed down a little now but it’ll be a while before she can forgive you. But she will. Our daughter doesn’t bear grudges you know that.”


“Ha! Grudges are for people with bad stomachs … .” He shook his head.


Mary hesitated and was serious. “Josh, what do you think will happen? Will you … you won’t have to … go to prison?”


Heyes shrugged. “I dunno Mary. It’s possible. He’s a Senator. That’s like …” He shook his head again. “He’s a powerful man, Mary.”


“And so are you. You’re Mayor of Porterville and have been for years. Folks know about Susan’s reputation. They won’t be surprised. And Charles Grainger is not well liked here you know that.”


Heyes growled. “Don’t say his name, Mary! I can’t bear it!”


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A few weeks later. A long distance telephone call between Porterville and Boston.


“Well Kid, I’m still a free man. Just.”


“Heyes,” the Kid laughed, in delight. “That’s real good news.”


“Yeah. It didn’t look good at one point. His lawyers wanted a custodial sentence. Luckily, the judge though otherwise. Said in view of the length of my public service, my standing in the community etc, etc. it would serve no good to put me behind bars. So he gave me a two hundred dollar fine and a year’s suspended sentence.”


“But as Hannibal Heyes? Not as Joshua Smith?”


“Yeah. Good job the Governor’s condition on the amnesty was only for five years!” Heyes puffed.


The Kid hesitated. “How has the Town Council taken it?”


Heyes growled. “Better’n I had hoped. I had my resignation letter all written out but they won’t hear of it. Said as it wasn’t Joshua Smith who was on trial, they could live with it.”


“That was good of ‘em.”


“They like the way the town’s run. The thought of breaking in a new Mayor …” he said, dryly.


The Kid chuckled. “That was real clever of you Heyes. Being tried and convicted as Hannibal Heyes. Can’t hurt in other ways either.”


“Huh?”


“Publicity! For ya books! I bet they get reprinted. Think of the royalties!”


Heyes groaned. “Oh. I’m not so sure Kid. That wasn’t the reason an’ you know that.”


“Maybe But didn’t someone say once: any publicity is good publicity?”


“Not exactly. Think the quote was: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”


“Exactly!”


“Kid, if you weren’t so far away, I’d punch you!”


“Careful Heyes you might get a reputation. An’ if I recall, you once said: what’s the good of having a reputation if ya don’t live up to it.”


“Oh shut up! I’m hanging up now!” Heyes said, irritably.


There was chuckling from both ends of the line.

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:08 pm

Here's a spruced-up oldie.

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

It was difficult to leave Santa Marta. After all, it isn't every day a girl falls for a guy like that. So strong, so virile ... so ... good looking! Oh, excuse me, I must be blushing like a teenager!

Anyway, yes, the Alcalde was nice, but in the end it probably wouldn't have worked out. After all, I don't speak Spanish, I'd miss Denver, I'd miss my father, and certainly ... I'd miss my boys. Oh, you thought I was speaking about them? Well, yes, the description does fit both of them. And I do love them both ... more or less equally.

Now, mind you, it's not like I see Heyes and Kid much these days. Matter of fact, I'm lucky to see them once a year, if that. But I often think about them, and I do try to keep up with their travels. You see, they keep me informed every now and then by post, less often by wire. They're just about the best friends a girl could have.

Friends? Yes. Something more? I'm not sure. Maybe. But how would I choose? That's a question I've asked myself too many times, as you know from what's written here in these pages.

Let's see, I was sixteen when we first met. I was just growing out of my tomboy ways, but I don't think I'll ever totally outgrow them. Anyway, there was Heyes, looking all dapper in his new shirt and string tie for his first day of work at the general store. He was seventeen. He'd come a long way from that horrible place he and Kid had run away from; well, maybe not so horrible, just not home. And as I said, here I was, just an awkward thing around boys, just beginning to discover them – a real late bloomer, as my aunt called me. My father said one day I'd meet the right boy, and here I thought I just had!

Heyes was walking one way down the street, and I was walking the other way, toward him. I laid eyes on just about everyone I passed, as you do when you're out, but when I saw him, I just stopped! Yes, rooted to that very spot on the sidewalk. I was mesmerized! Good thing it wasn't too busy at that moment, or I'd have been bumped into to beat the band.

Then he caught up to me, and he smiled a little smile, as if to acknowledge someone. But my face must have been funny to behold, because he stopped, too.  There I was just standing there staring at him.  He just looked at me, a twinkle lighting up those dark brown eyes. And he SMILED! Not just a smile, but a huge grin that would probably light a Christmas tree all by itself. And those dimples lit up my whole world at that moment. I'd never seen anything like those dimples.

"May I help you with something, Miss?" he asked.

And I just stared. I'm sure I was blushing. And rooted to that one spot, just staring.

"Miss?"

And then it dawned on me, I'd better say something! He'd think me a real ninny if all I could do was gape at him. But that beautiful smile and those twinkling eyes said otherwise. At that moment, it was like he could see right through me – and might have liked what he saw.

I stammered, "Yes?"

And before I knew it, he introduced himself – he had the sweetest manners. "I'm Hannibal Heyes. Can I help you with something, Miss?"

"Well ..." I could not finish, so overtaken was I with embarrassment – and love (I thought).

"Miss ...?" He tipped his hat in greeting. No man had ever tipped his hat to me before.

"Umm ... Clementine Hale, I think."

(What?!  Did I say, "I think"?!! What kind of thing is that to say, "I think"!?)

His smile grew even broader, if that was possible.  He even chuckled a little.  "Ma'am, I presume, then, to have the pleasure of meeting Miss Clementine Hale?"

"Yes," I blurted out. "That's right. But most people call me 'Clem.'"

"Clem it is then." Then, he winked. At me! The shy, awkward, gangly tomboy from Parker Road in Denver.

I almost ... well ... well, suffice it to say this time I really was blushing!  I could feel it!  But, I'll keep those thoughts to myself in case you have delicate ears, Diary.

Well, I can go on, but that’s how a chance meeting on the street of two strangers led to this wonderful friendship. What was that, Diary? You want me to go on? All right.

You see, as I said previously, Hannibal (as he asked me to call him), was on his way to his first day at a new job. But, before that, he was dropping lunch off to his friend who was working at a tannery not too far away. He invited me to walk with him, as long as I did not think it improper. I did not. So, we walked, and talked, and walked some more, and talked some more. And then, it seemed all of a sudden, we stopped in front of a rickety looking building, and he asked me to wait there in front while he brought lunch to his friend in back.

"Why can't I go in with you?" I asked impulsively.  Then, I thought, I’m being too forward.

"Because it's no place for a lovely young lady."  His eyes twinkled as he said that.

He called me a "lovely young lady"?! Me?!

I stammered again, but I did not want to leave his side. Not at that moment. "I'd like to go,” I said.  After all, I was the curious type, if a little too rough and tumble sometimes for my father's liking.

"All right, then you shall. But be careful. It’s dirty and smelly back there. I make my friend wash up good in the trough out back before I let him into our room."

"Don't worry, I'll be careful." I was feeling a little more confident, but still awkward.

He then led the way through the alley to a very dirty, very smelly tent and open area in the back. There, a soot-covered young man in a full length leather apron turned when Hannibal called to Jed (that’s what we called Kid back then).

Well, Jed was dirty, to say the least! Black soot and grease covered him from top to bottom. But, beneath all that, a mop of dark curls covered his head and brushed down toward those eyes ... those bright blue eyes still shined through. I later found out those curls were actually golden, and he wore his hair much longer then than he does now. He was fifteen, almost sixteen. Yes, I'm between them in age.

Hannibal handed Jed his lunch and introduced us.

"Pleased to meet you, ma'am." He acknowledged my presence almost as warmly as Hannibal had, but maybe just a little awkward and shy.

"How sweet!" I said out loud what I'd meant to be only a thought. How embarrassing could I get!

"Ma'am?" Jed just focused his gaze on me, a little confused look on the soot-caked countenance with the wide grin.

How sweet, indeed! He couldn't have been any nicer! Actually, neither of them could have been.

Well, we spoke some to Jed while he took a short lunch break. I found out a lot about them, and them me. It became a daily ritual, me meeting up with Hannibal on the street, right at our spot, and walking together over to the tannery, talking through Jed's lunch break before Hannibal had to get to the general store and I had to go home.

This continued for a few months. Not long after we'd met, I introduced them to my father.  He liked the boys and was impressed by their industriousness, especially for their ages.  They even began to join us for Sunday dinner at our house.  Of course, he could never know them like I did.  We’d scheme about the future, the three of us.  And all the time, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

But, somewhere along the way, it became more than a friendship to me.  Yes, my initial infatuations had settled into something beyond that.  It was comfortable, but also confusing. They were like the best brothers anyone could have. But the feelings I started having for them were not the feelings you had for your brothers. I kept them hidden for fear of spoiling what we had. I did not want to lose it.

By the time we'd all turned over a year – Hannibal, eighteen, me seventeen, and Jed sixteen – things started to change a little. Something happened with the boys. They weren't quite so close any more. When I'd ask if everything was all right, they'd say, "Sure, everything is fine." But I knew it wasn't.

Hannibal left Denver with little more than a sweet kiss.  He said he'd stay in touch and asked me to keep an eye on Jed. And, of course, I said I would. And I did.

If Hannibal had been my original knight in shining armor, Jed was number two. Actually, I shouldn't call him a number two – it’s just that I met Hannibal first, by all of ten minutes.

Jed and I continued on for a time after that, a twosome now rather than three.  We slid into something even more comfortable, more companionable; maybe even a little romantic at times, but not really.  But, he was not happy at the tannery, and he said he needed to see something more of the world. I knew that was true, and respected it, but there was something of a sadness about him as well. I think he missed Hannibal.

Of course, I knew he was good with a gun. I'd occasionally ride with him out beyond the outskirts of town and watch him practice. He even tried to teach me a thing or two about shooting, and I did learn some, but I wouldn't let it show, not too much anyway. By then, I wanted Jed – as my man, so to speak, if I had one – to think he had a little something over me. After all, a girl can’t be as good at something as a man.  Not that he'd see it that way, though maybe he would. But, it's what I thought men needed, and I wanted to give that to him.

Well, Jed left about a month or so after Hannibal. They didn't meet up again for a long time.  They'd both write occasionally.  When they did, I’d write back if there was an address to reply to.  And after a while, a few years, they worked out whatever their differences were and have been together again ever since.

Of course, over time, I heard more and more about Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. And when I saw them next, after they had reconciled, it was now Heyes and Kid – Hannibal and Jed seemed to be lost to the past.  But, when we get together, those moments we can steal away or they find a way to visit, it's still the same old amiable, comfortable, companionable times they ever were, except now we're a bit more wary when others are around.  No bars on my heart, my feelings are still there, for both of them. And I think they still feel the same for me, both of them.  We’re still the same good, scheming friends we always were. 

Well, Diary, I'm going to close here. I'm feeling a bit sentimental about my boys. Perhaps another time I'll relate more.

Good night, and yours truly,
Clementine Hale


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Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:56 pm

An exert from The Lineage. The boys have teamed up with Deputy Joe Morin to track down the lineage of Heyes' beloved mare, Karma.


The town of Clearmont was even smaller than the previous town had been.  Riding down what must, by process of elimination, be the main street, the two seasoned travellers could not help but be reminded of Apache Springs.  Just as with that once visited town, Clearmont had no sheriff's office and the rest of the structures, though still housing businesses were shabby and run-down.  Not surprisingly, the local bar was constructed of canvas and wood, and the three men wondered it food was even served in there. The few people who were on the street noticed the three strangers right away, and even Joe began to feel uneasy.
 
  “Maybe we should just ride on through,” the deputy suggested as he watched the townsfolk watching them.
 
  “We don't have enough supplies to just ride on through,” Jed pointed out.
 
  “We'll lay low and be discreet,” Heyes told him.  “The place probably livens up a bit more on the weekend.”
 
  “Heyes.”
 
  “Hmm?”
 
  “It is the weekend.”
 
  “Oh.”
 
  The three men turned in at the livery stable and smiled a greeting at the dishevelled young man who obviously ran the place.  He stood leaning against the barn door with a strand of straw sticking out from between his teeth, and he smelled of manure.
 
  “Good afternoon, sir,” Heyes greeted the manager, his eyes watering at the pungent aroma wafting off the individual.  “we would like to put our horses up for the night, if there's room.”
 
  “Yea', there's room,” he drawled as he pushed himself off the door.  “Two bits a horse, and another five cents if ya' want 'em grained and rubbed down.”
 
  “That'll be fine,” Heyes agreed to the terms as they all dismounted.
 
  “Ya' want 'em in a stall or out here in the corral?”
 
  The three men went in to a silent conference.  If the place smelled this bad on the outside, none of them cared to speculate what the inside of the barn was like.  Betty snorted with disgust and settled the question.
 
  “Ah, I think they can stay outside,” Kid answered.  “I don't think it's gonna rain tonight.”
 
  “Fine.”
 
  The livery man strolled lazily over to the corral gate and swung it open.  “Just take 'em on in and I'll get their feed ready.”
 
  All three men smiled and nodded.  They stood watching the livery man stride past them into the barn, taking note of the five flies that continually circled about his head and shoulders as his constant escort.
 
  “You sure they're gonna be alright here?”  Joe asked sceptically.  “Doesn't seem like a very clean place to me.”
 
  Heyes and Jed led their horses into the corral though their expressions suggested that they felt much the same way.
 
  “I don't think we have much choice,” Heyes commented as he loosened Karma's girth.  “The horses need rest and we need supplies.”
 
  “Yeah but....”
 
  Joe's concerns were interrupted by the loft door sliding open from the second level, right above the corral.  All three horses spooked and pivoted around to face the new menace.
 
  “Heads up!” the stableman called down and then pushed half a bale of hay down into the corral.
 
  The heavy hay landed with a thump and broke apart, sending dust and horses flying everywhere.
 
  “Whoa, easy!” was the universal response as the men on the ground tried to settle the startled animals.
 
  “Sorry!”  the young man yelled down and slid the door shut before he could see the scowls that were sent up to him.
 
  The horses settled and were finally relieved of their bridles, though none of them seemed in too big a hurry to check out the pile of hay that had tried to attack them.  All three men went over to the feed, and picking up handfuls of it, took tentative sniffs at the foliage.
 
  “It's kinda dusty,” Jed commented.
 
  “Yeah,” Heyes agreed.  “But if we spread it out and dump a couple of buckets of water on it, it should be alright.  At least it's not moldy.”
 
  The young man emerged from the barn, carrying three buckets of grain while the five flies continued to buzz around him.  He seemed oblivious to them.
 
  “Oh here, let me help you with that,” Heyes offered.
 
  He stepped forward and took one of the buckets.  He ran his hand through the oats and pellets and gave the grain a quick sniff just to be sure.  The man looked at him, feeling insulted.
 
  “What you think?” he snarked  “I'm gonna give 'em bad grain?”
 
  “Oh, no no!”  Heyes assured him quickly.  “It's just, well that chestnut over there, she's kinda touchy, ya' know.  Colic's real easy.  The grain looks fine, but ah, on that note, do you mind if we wet the hay down a bit?  Any amount of dust, you know, and I could have a real sick horse on my hands.”
 
  “Go ahead,”  the stableman agreed.  “Well's at the back.
 
  “Thank you,” Heyes smiled.
 
  “Don't know why you'd bother with a horse like that,” the man gave his opinion.  “More nuisance than its worth, if it's gonna get sick on good hay.”
 
  “Oh well,” Heyes shrugged.  “I kinda got attached to her, you know.”
 
  The man snorted as Heyes disappeared into the barn to get to the well at the back.  He forgot to hold his breath before stepping into the building and just about passed out from the fumes before he made it to fresh air again.
 
  “So, ah what's your name?”  Kid asked the livery man.
 
  “Barney.”
 
  “Barney,” Kid repeated, “we're lookin' ta' buy some horses to take back with us.  Do you normally deal with anyone in particular?”
 
  “What do ya' mean?”  Barney asked as he spaced out the grain buckets.
 
  The three horses recognized what those were and soon came in to help themselves to the offering.
 
  “Does anyone come through here, sellin' horses on a regular basis?”  Jed clarified.
 
  “Oh no,” Barney answered and scratched his chin.  “we don't do much horse dealin' here.  Mostly just livery and boarding.  We don't get many visitors so most folks have their own horses.
 
  “You mean you actually have people pay you to keep their horses here?”  Joe asked incredulously.
 
  “Yeah!”  Barney sounded insulted again.  “What's the matter with the place?”
 
  “No, nothin'!”  Jed assured him with a big smile and pat on the shoulder, which he instantly regretted.  “Nothin' wrong with the place at all.  You run a fine establishment.”
 
  “Yeah.”
 
  Heyes returned through the barn doors, lugging two buckets filled with water.  His eyes were watering and he was choking and gasping for air as he made a bee line for the hay pile.
 
 Xxx

  Respite for the humans didn't turn out to be much better than it had for the horses.  There was no cafe, so the travelling companions settled in at a table, in the canvas bar and cafe combination, and tried to relax.  Heyes looked around, hoping to see a poker game going on, but nothing was happening.  He was slightly disappointed.  It's not like he needed the money, not with Jesse's retainer, but a low-stakes game could often settle his nerves and help his mind to focus.  This job was turning out to be more discouraging and elusive than any of them had thought.
 
  The barman came over to the table with a tray holding three mugs of beer.  He plunked them all down in front of his patrons and then, wiping his nose on his sleeve, he looked expectantly at the three men.  All three of those men were looking rather disgustedly at the beer mugs.  Not only had they not ordered any beer, but there appeared to be unidentified objects floating around in it.
 
  “We got beans and hocks,” the barman announced.  “Four bits a plate.”
 
  Heyes looked around at his two companions.  “How hungry are you?”
 
  Kid looked slightly pale.  “I hate to admit it,” he commented.  “but I'm real hungry.”
 
  “Yeah,” Joe seconded with a frown.  “me too.”
 
  “Hmm,” Heyes nodded and dug into his pockets for the money.  “Okay, three plates.”
 
  “Fine.”
 
  The barman walked away hocking up a phlegmy cough as he went. 
 
  Heyes swallowed with a grimace.
 
  “Well, look at it this way,” Jed suggested.  “at least his other customers are still alive, so the food can't be that bad.”
 
  “Maybe that's why the town is so small,” Joe stated.  “they're all dying off, one by one, from food poisoning.”
 
  Heyes and Kid looked over at the deputy, feeling concerned that he might have a point.  Heyes pulled his beer mug over closer to him and looked into the debris spattered liquid.  Somehow, he just couldn't bring himself to take a drink and pushed the glass away from him in disgust.
 
  All in all, their stay in Clearmont was anything but pleasant.  They spread out their own bedrolls and slept on the floor, not wanting to take a chance on the beds, and in the morning, even Jed was willing to skip breakfast.  They bought the items most needed from the small, under stocked mercantile and then got out of town just as quickly as they could get the horses saddled.
 
  An hour later they pulled up, set the horses out to graze and built a cooking fire.  Coffee was soon brewing, bacon was sliced up and set to frying, and flapjack batter was mixed and waited its turn to be fried up in the bacon grease.  Nothing needed to be discussed between the three men; they all set about with different chores of making breakfast, and soon they were sitting back against their saddles and smiling contentedly.  The coffee pot made the rounds for a top up, and life was good again.
 
  “Not very often do we come across a town that makes sleepin' and eatin' out on the trail preferable,” Jed commented.  “I think from now on, we should focus on the medium sized towns and leave the small towns alone.”
 
  Heyes nodded as he took another sip of coffee.  “I don't know what's happening to Wyoming; small towns used to be the way to go—for outlaws anyway.”
 
  “You're not outlaws anymore,” Joe pointed out.  “Maybe that's the problem; you've gotten used to a higher standard of living.”
 
  The two ex-outlaws stared across the fire at each other.
 
  “We didn't used to live like that, did we Heyes?”  Jed asked his cousin, worried now at what they once might have considered acceptable.
 
  Heyes' brows went up as he considered the possibility.  “I donno Kid.  I'm thinking maybe Joe has a point.  Maybe it's not the small towns that are getting worse, but us who are expecting better.”
 
  “Geesh!”  Jed looked disgusted as he poured himself more coffee and snatched another piece of bacon out of the pan. "I never thought there's come a day, when I'd walk inta' a bar, I didn't like. Just goes ta' show.
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Sun Aug 28, 2016 2:41 pm

The two lathered horses splashed into the water without hesitation, their hooves clumsily clattering across submerged rocks as they carefully picked their path through the swift current until they reached the deeper channels and began to swim.  The roan gelding drifted downstream with the flow towards a sand bar.  His front legs found purchased on the gravel island and he scrambled out of the river.  The stolid gray continued to the far bank, emerging and shaking off excess water.  His curly-haired rider dropped his legs from where they’d been hooked around the saddle’s cantle and turned to look at his partner.


“Heyes, let’s go!”


“Give us a second to catch our breath, will you?” snapped the panting dark-haired man atop the heaving roan.


“We don’t have a second less’n you wanna be on a first name basis with that posse.”


Muttering under his breath to his mount, Hannibal Heyes closed his legs against the tired animal’s sides and the roan reluctantly re-entered the water.  A few moments later, he was standing beside the gray, dripping wet.


Kid Curry’s horse leapt forward.  The roan hurried to catch up.


oooOOOooo



“See anything?” The Kid yelled up to Heyes who was lying on his belly atop a rise, a pair of battered field glasses held to his eyes.


“Not a thing.”  As Heyes spoke, his partner visibly slumped in his saddle. 


“’Bout time.”


Heyes slid down the hill and walked towards Curry.  He was covered in trail dust, his face grimy, and his blue shirt stained with several days’ sweat.  “Where d’you think we are?”


“I lost track of directions when the shootin’ started.”  The Kid pulled his brown hat off his head and stuck his forefinger through a large hole in the crown.  


“Better your hat then your head.”  Heyes rubbed his lower back and squinted up at the setting sun.  “Let’s head east.  We’ll hit a road sooner or later.”


“The moon’ll be up in a coupla hours, let’s rest up a spell then ride through the night.”  Curry’s gaze shifted from Heyes to the broad expanse of the high altitude valley as his partner nodded agreement.  Scrubby sage brush was the tallest thing for miles.  They’d stand out like sore thumbs.


oooOOOooo


A muffled tap of the hammer echoed loudly into the darkness as Heyes peered over Curry’s shoulder and hissed, “Hold it down, will you?”


“I’m tackin’ a shoe on, Heyes, it ain’t somethin’ that can be done quiet.”  The Kid shifted his grip on the haft, tightening his hold on the fabric wrapped around the head of the tool.


“Well, hurry it up then, I can almost smell that steak dinner.”  Heyes’ eyes turned south to where a soft glow against the night sky signaled civilization.


“Don’t rush me.  This bar shoe’s gotta be on just right or ol’ Barry here’s gonna come up lame again.  You know how ouchy he gets.”    


“Ol’ Barry ain’t the only one who’s gonna be ouchy if I don’t get some food in my belly soon.  Restaurants don’t stay open all night, you know.”


“Quit grousin’, Heyes.  I’m done.  You’ll be stuffin’ your pie hole in no time.”  Curry drove the last nail into the shoe, dropping the hoof and standing up to rub his stiffened back.  


Heyes mounted his roan and swung the horse around, impatient to be off.  The moon was bright eclipsing the twinkling stars that loomed overhead and illuminating the rutted wagon trail they’d picked up hours ago. 


oooOOOooo






The heavy, wooden door flew open with a bang and two trail-weary outlaws, their saddlebags slung over their shoulders, entered the poorly-constructed building standing alone by the side of the road a mile from town.  Wide gaps in the warped planked walls allowed a cool wind to whistle about the room creating undulating waves of visible smoke circulating around the few remaining patrons.  One man slid off his bar stool and onto the floor with a loud thud causing the sleeping barkeep to lift his head from where it, and his arms, had rested on the makeshift bar top stretched across a row of barrels.  He teetered alarmingly on his tall stool before recapturing his balance and pasting a smile on his face.


“Welcome, gents.  Don’t mind our local barfly, he hits the floor ‘least once a night.  What’ll it be?”


“Two beers, two steaks, rare, and one room for the night,” answered Heyes.  He pulled out a chair from a corner table, hooked his saddlebags on the ladder back, and flopped down into it.  The Kid had stopped inside the door and was peering into a large birdcage nestled between the front window and the planked bar.


“Sorry, kitchen closed half an hour ago.  Might be able to rustle up a couple of sandwiches; won’t be steak, though.”


Shooting his partner a venomous look, Heyes sighed, “Sandwiches will be fine, thanks.”


“Room 2, up the stairs and on the left,” said the portly man, fishing in his apron pocket and laying a brass key down on the bar. 


“Hey, Mister, your parrot’s dead.”  Curry was poking a finger through the bars prodding a brightly-colored, unresponsive form lying on the bottom of the cage.


“Naw, he ain’t dead, he’s restin’.”  The bartender set two beers down and disappeared into a back room.  A bemused Kid picked up the mugs and the key before crossing the floor to join Heyes who was studying a group of four men engrossed in a poker game.  The players weren’t bad and neither was the pile of money pooled in the center of the table.  


“My aches are achin’,” moaned Curry as he sat down and put his saddlebags on the chair next to him.  He lifted his beer and downed it without stopping for air.


The barkeep reappeared with a small tray bearing two sandwiches.  He plunked the food down in front of the hungry men, snatched up the Kid’s mug, and hurried off.  By the time he came back with a fresh beer, the food was gone and tiny crumbs littered the tray.  Heyes’ cheeks bulged with his hastily-eaten meal.  Unable to speak, he pointed at his now empty mug and the tray.  The bar man nodded his understanding and left again.


“Being chased to hell and back sure seems to stimulate your appetite, partner,” whispered Curry.


“Shh, someone might hear you.”  


“Ain’t nobody could hear over the sound of you smackin’ your lips.”


“Very funny.  You’ll be a big hit in the prison yard,” rejoined Heyes who was also whispering.   “This is no game.  That posse almost caught us. We could’ve been on our way to the Wyoming Territorial Prison right now.”


“Well, we ain’t and I don’t intend to waste my time worryin’ about what might’ve been.”  


Heyes nodded at the poker table.  “Couple of guys just bowed out.  Let’s see if we can get into the game.”


“You go on ahead, I’m gonna finish eatin’ and find myself a soft bed to hole up in, preferably with a soft woman in it,” smiled Curry, standing up and retrieving his saddlebags.


“You play your games, I’ll play mine,” chuckled Heyes, grabbing his sandwich and beer from the returning bartender’s tray and sauntering off to the poker table.


oooOOOooo


Rolling over, the Kid flung out an arm across the mattress.  His head was still spinning from the rotgut whiskey he’d consumed with the lovely Lila.  Too much whiskey.  He couldn’t remember a lot about the night before except that she’d been costly and worth every penny.  Somehow she’d managed to smooth out every kink in his exhausted body.  He pried open his bloodshot eyes and saw she’d left some time during the night.  Sighing, he closed his eyes again and spoke softly, “Coffee time, Heyes?”  His eyes opened again at the lack of a response.  He turned onto his other side and noted the neatly-made bed next to his.  Heyes hadn’t made it up to their room.  The game must’ve gone on all night.  


The Kid rose and picked up his shirt and trousers from the floor, his head pounding as he leaned over.  He tugged on his clothes and lifted his gun belt from the finial of the brass bed.  He could’ve sworn Heyes was too tired to spend the night in a poker game, but his partner was nothing if not unpredictable.  Buckling the belt around his waist, he pulled on his perforated hat, and went down the rickety stairs.


The early morning light did nothing to enhance the saloon.  A dark, wiry man was sweeping up the discarded cigar butts and detritus from the previous evening.  Chairs were upturned on all the tables and dirty glasses were lined up along the bar.  As Curry came down the stairs, the man looked up.


“Howdy,” said the Kid.  “I’m lookin’ for my partner.  My height, dark-haired.”


The man said nothing and returned to his chore.  Curry glared at him and caught his arm, his temper flaring along with his hangover.  “Maybe you didn’t hear me.”


A quick jerk freed the man’s arm.  Brandishing his broom like a weapon, he unleashed a torrent of Spanish upon the Kid.


“Easy now, I don’t speak Mexican and I’m guessin’ you don’t speak American.  Sorry.”  Curry turned away and strode out through the front door.  His gray and Heyes’ roan were still tied to the hitching rail and dozing in the warming sunlight.  Their heads popped up as he stepped out and four big, brown eyes watched him expectantly.  “I know you want breakfast.  So do I, but we’ve got to find our knuckle-headed friend first.”  He stood in the middle of the road and glanced in either direction.  No sign of Heyes.  Finally, he circled the building.  Coming around the front corner again, he saw the horses solemnly watching him.  The untied latigos on Heyes’ saddle reminded him that he hadn’t seen his partner’s gear in their room.  


Curry hurried back inside, running up the stairs as the swamper watched him warily clutching his broom.  Searching their room, the Kid found Heyes’ saddlebags on the floor half-hidden under the unslept-in bed. He seized them and quickly rifled through their contents.  Nothing was missing as far as he could tell.  There was even a small wad of dollar bills stuffed inside a spare sock.  Despite finding the bags, a bad feeling began to coalesce in his stomach.  Where was Heyes?  Had he strolled into town to look around?  Naw, Heyes wouldn’t have gone off and left his partner without letting the Kid know where he was going.  Not with a posse out looking for them.


oooOOOooo


The town was nothing much: a small store, a livery, a tiny jail, and a few ramshackle homes.  The weather-beaten buildings stood sentinel over the windswept street that bisected them.  White clouds cast darkened shadows on the sunbaked ground.  No one was out and about, nothing moved except the two horses plodding along.  Dust swirled about their hooves, but the light breeze stirred it away. The gray was mounted by his attentive rider, the other led by the reins, his saddle unoccupied.  


There were no side streets to ride down, no other places for the Kid to search.  He dismounted in front of the store and tied the horses to the rail out front.  Stepping onto the porch, he peered through the wavy glass window.  Nobody was inside.  Not even the shopkeeper.  He tried the door.  Locked.  Walking to the house next door, he knocked on the door and waited.  No answer.  He repeated his actions at each structure.  No knob turned, no knock was answered.  Finally, reluctantly, he crossed to jailhouse.  The door was also locked.  He gripped the bars on the window and tried to see inside but the glass was dirty and the only thing he could be sure of was this building was as vacant as the others.  Where the hell was everybody?  


He crossed back to the horses and untied them.  He first thought was to head toward the livery on the south end of town.  It was the only place big enough to accommodate all the citizens.  He could only assume that it was separate, apart from the small burg, in an attempt to keep the smells and flies at bay.  A small corral was attached to the west side and the Kid could see several horses contentedly eating hay. The double doors to the front of the large building were tightly shut and barred with a large plank slipped through iron handles.  Even from this distance, he could hear the muffled sound of raised voices.  


Heyes’ roan let out a hopeful nicker and both horses, eager to get their share of the food, tugged at the reins, but the Kid pulled them around.  Something didn’t feel right.  The first twinge of panic nibbled at Curry’s throat.  As nonchalantly as he could, the Kid mounted and rode away from the livery.


oooOOOooo


Curry stood in the dark shadow cast by the stacked bales of hay next to the corral.  He’d left the horses tied behind the store and, using whatever cover he could find, he’d worked his way past the backs of the other buildings on the east side of town until he reached the livery.  Whatever was going on inside, he’d need the element of surprise.  Stealthily, he crept closer until he was next to the barn and could lean his head against the thickly timbered wall.  The small window above him was tightly closed.  He couldn’t understand what was being said but he was sure he heard Heyes’ baritone responding to the swell of other voices. Was Heyes being interrogated?  Had someone figured out who they were?  Had word of the theft reached this forlorn place?  


They’d stolen a shipment of gold bars on its way to the Denver mint.  News would’ve travel fast, almost as fast as Wheat and the rest of the gang considering the heavy load they’d carried.  That’s why he and Heyes had chosen to draw off the posse; the boys had been entrusted with the loot and the gold should be safely tucked away in the Hole by now.  


Heyes sounded riled up even though the Kid couldn’t make out what was being said.  When he heard his partner shouting, his nerve broke.  His imagination seized control of his self-restraint and he envisioned Heyes falling victim to a lynch mob.  Drawing his gun, he ran to the front of the building and slid the plank out, unbarring the door.  If Heyes was going down, he’d go down with him.  Flinging open the door, he rushed inside, gun drawn, and stopped in his tracks.


Heyes stood at the front of a seated crowd and he was grasping a steel bar in his clenched fist waving it wildly until he spotted the Kid.  With his arm still raised, he stared in shock for a brief second at his younger partner before continuing in a booming voice that held his audience spellbound, “‘And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.’”


The crowd roared their approval and clapped with enthusiasm until, putting down the rod, Heyes stepped off the overturned water trough he’d been standing upon and bowed slightly.  “Thank you, thank you.  You’re too kind.”  Basking in the admiration, Heyes waited until the applause died down and the townsfolk dispersed before he walked over to a stunned Curry.  “Might want to put that gun away, partner.  Lord takes a dim view of firearms in church.”


The Kid holstered his gun.  “This ain’t a church and you ain’t a preacher.”


“Well, you know what they say, beggars can’t be choosers.  Town hasn’t got a preacher so I’m the next best thing.”  Heyes grinned, his dimples deeply carving his cheeks.


Curry watched the last of the crowd leave before he spoke again.  “What the hell, Heyes, I thought something bad had happened to you!  You damned near gave me a heart attack.”  


“Better watch that mouth.  Cursing in church ain’t too popular neither.”  Seeing the genuine angst on his partner’s face, Heyes eased up.  “Kid,” he said softly, “don’t you remember me waking you this morning and telling you I’d be here?”


“No.”


“Exactly how much whiskey did you drink last night?” asked Heyes, noting his young friend’s pallor.


The Kid groaned.  “Too much, I guess.” 


“Probably ain’t the smartest thing to do when you’re on the run.”  Frowning, Heyes had another thought as he started for the door.  “You didn’t say anything you shouldn’t have, did you?”


“I don’t remember.”


“You’re really gonna have to learn to be more careful if you plan on staying in your current line of work.  We’ll skip the church picnic and be on our way just in case you murmured more than sweet nothings in Lila’s ear.” 


“I’ll get the horses, but tell me one thing.  How’d you get pegged as a preacher?”


“I didn’t. I told the other players in the game I was a lawyer.  They figured I could read if I passed the bar.  Town hasn’t had a preacher or a schoolteacher for years; folks here are illiterate.  They’ve been relying on the kindness of strangers.”


“You volunteered to preach?”


“Naw, I took all their money so I didn’t have the heart to turn them down when they asked me to lead the service.” 


“How come all the windows and doors were shut?”


Heyes shrugged.  “Folks wanted to keep the flies out and the night air in, I suppose.  Maybe it gets hot during the day.” 


“Sheesh, I thought they were stringin’ you up.”


Chuckling, Heyes slung an arm across his partner’s shoulders.  “Thanks for the rescue, but I wasn’t in any danger.”


“I wouldn’t say that.”


“You wouldn’t?”


“With you thumpin’ the Good Book, you could’ve been struck by lightnin’,” smirked the Kid.


“Hey Kid, judge not, lest ye be judged.”

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:29 am

Continuing with my current story...


The man in the stiff white collar paused to gaze around the station until he caught the eye of the dimpled cowboy at the end of the platform.  The brown eyes drifted down to the stranger’s eclectic collection of bags sitting around his feet.  Heyes strode towards him.  “Mr. Pettifogger?”

“Pettigrew,” he glared.  “The name’s Pettigrew.”


“Sorry,” the outlaw grinned.  “Mr. Roseburn sent me to collect you.  He’s waiting for you at the hotel.  Let me grab those bags for you.”  He reached down and grabbed a carpet bag before sweeping up a long, thin canvas bag.  The dark brows gathered at the metallic rattle from the bag as he shook it from side to side.  “Metal bars?  Some kind of tools?”


“That’s delicate scientific equipment.  Stop shaking it.”


Heyes thrust the equipment under his arm and picked up the remaining suitcase.  “Right this way, Mr. Pettifogger.”


“Pettigrew!”


“Oh, right.”  Heyes led him out to a wagon and swung the baggage in the back. 


“Careful with that.  It’s fragile.”


Heyes laid the slender bag in the bed of the wagon delicately.  “Sure.  What is it?”


“That ain’t none of your business,” Pettigrew climbed up beside him.  “How far is it?


“Just a couple of streets.  Are you here for long?”


“About a week.  Is there much to do here?”


Heyes shrugged.  “The saloon on Main Street has a pretty good poker game and there’s music in the one near the hotel.  Is that your kind of thing?”


Pettigrew nodded.  “Could be.  How’s the hotel?”


“Grand, real grand.  They’ve got baths and a restaurant where they give you more than one set of cutlery,” Heyes shook his head innocently.  “Too rich for the like of me.  You’ll love it.  What line of business are you in?” 


The man’s brows narrowed suspiciously.  “Why?”


“Your bags.  We don’t get many scientists around here.”  Heyes paused, “except maybe for old Mac in the hills.  He brews up the best hooch for miles.  He uses tubes and the like.  Is that what you do?”


“No, it isn’t,” growled the visitor. 


“Well, here we are.  I told you it wasn’t far.”  Heyes leaped down and grabbed at the luggage once more.  He paused and smiled at his passenger before gingerly lifting the long sack and placing it under his arm.  “You go on in and I’ll bring these.”


“Pettigrew!” boomed Roseburn.  “I’ve already got you a room.  All you’ve got to do is sign the register and I’ll get them to take your bags up to your room.”  He patted the man on the back as he scratched out a signature.  “Hungry?  I bet you’d like a drink too.”


The hotel clerk turned the ledger around and squinted at the scribble.  “Pettigrowl?  Is that German?”


“Pettigrew,” the baritone voice drifted from behind.  The group turned to the smiling man bearing the visitor’s bags.  “His name’s Pettigrew.  Do you want me to take them up to your room for you, sir?”


Roseburn took the proffered key and slipped it into the hand still bearing the handles of the leather suitcase.   “Yeah, drop them off for him and then bring the key down to the bar.”


The smile widened and it was a very satisfied Hannibal Heyes who was uncharacteristically delighted to carry the bags up to room twenty three.  It took no more than a few moments to unlock the door and place them on the bed, but he made sure he returned to the door and locked it before he untied the knots holding the flaps on the long thin canvas bag.  The dimples deepened and the dark eyes widened as he gazed down on the long legged contraption.  “So, that’s what it’s all about?” he murmured under his breath.


oooOOOooo


The keys rattled on the table as they were deposited in front of the ex-outlaw leader’s current employer and his mysterious visitor.  “There you go.  I left them on the bed for you.  Do you want me to hang around and take you back to the ranch?” asked Heyes.


Roseburn shook his head.  “Nah.  Tell my wife I’ve decided to stay in town.  I’ll be back in the morning.”


Pettigrew frowned.  “I agreed to a meeting.  I didn’t say I’d make a night of it.  I’ve had a log journey.”


“I didn’t mean you, Pettigrew,” Roseburn smiled.  “I have another meeting after you.  I’m all about getting things done you know.  Maybe my man here could bring you out to my place tomorrow when he brings me back, say around eight?”


The man paused to consider.  “Eight sounds about right.  Yes.  That would be acceptable.”

     
Roseburn gave a curt nod to Heyes.  “Fine.  I’ll see you then.  Tell my wife and pick me up here at eight.  I’ll take breakfast here.”


oooOOOooo


Piercing blue eyes turned to Heyes through the gathering dusk.  “Overnight?  My guess is he’s seeing that pretty little teacher.”


“Yeah, mine too.  At least we now know what’s going on for sure.  I got a good look in Pettigrew’s bags.  It’s the railroad alright.  That was a theodolite.  If it was mining they wouldn’t need one of those.  They’re looking at where to lay the line.”


“You’re sure?”  The Kid watched his partner nod.  “Then I guess Roseburn wanted to buy up Hanks place cheap to make a killin’.”


“Yup, mine too.  So now we know what are we going to do about it?”


“I guess we wait for our plan to take its course, but it’s takin’ longer than we thought.”


“I know.  That’s why I thought we should help things along a little.”  Heyes arched a brow.  “It strikes me that nothing distracts a man from business more than an angry wife who holds all the purse strings?”


“Ha!” laughed the Kid.  “You ain’t gonna tell her are you?”


“Nothing so crude.  I thought maybe that half the town could.”


The gunman’s brow wrinkled.  “And how are you thinkin’ of pullin’ that off?”


“It’s been real hot and dry recently.  Has it occurred to you that things go on fire in this weather?”  The dimples deepened.  “Nothing gets the townsfolk gathering like a public building on fire.  Something like a school.”


“You aren’t serious.  Someone could get hurt.”


“It’s night time.  Nobody’ll be inside, and the teacher lives in a separate cabin.”


“But still, a school?  That ain’t exactly our style.”


Heyes shrugged.  “The railroad will help the town to take off.  They’ll be able to afford another; a larger better one.  Think of the bigger picture.  Hank’s got a wife and kid and Roseburn it trying to ride them out of town hungry.”


“I guess…”


“Fine.  I’ll go and see Smart.  I think it’s best we get permission to head to town for a drink.  That way it’ll be legitimate when we turn up in the crowd.  We can make sure everyone in the bar comes with us.”


“I don’t like this, Joshua.  It’s playin’ with fire.  Literally.”


“What could go wrong?  It’s an empty building. I want Roseburn’s plans to go up in smoke.”  Heyes eyes glittered with the kind of certainty he used when he needed to convince others.  “Literally.”  

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Distant Drums

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:58 pm

When I think of you, it hurts so much,


like a knife, draggin’ through my guts.


My soul calls for you, my voice goes unheard,


so I don't even bother now,


I just retreat to the bottom of a glass, tryin’ to numb the pain.


I pour a shot of bourbon, golden to my liking,


a passion for the drink I am thriving.


Each glass better than the last,


I am opening up slowly to talk about my past,


but only to a stranger. Never to anyone who knew you too.


Your presence goes un-noticed, with every glass I pour,


Until you burst into my heart and tear it to a million pieces


Every sip numbs, but the part I keep closed and secret stays heavy and sore


The hole you leave is all there is.


The  workin’ girl in the tawdry feathers lays a velvet hand on mine.


So I talk to free my mind from angst,


Knowing that tomorrow bring it back.


But what do I care? I have my freedom drink,


how much lower must I sink?


Into a stupor, I have sunk,


I can't even think straight, for I am drunk.


My mind begins to wander, back to that day 


I am growing tired now, aching for a slumber.


I'm out of hooch now, but I have no other reason to be awake.


I tell the gal how much my heart aches.


Your absence mixes with the drink to form words.


Slurred, sorry, and sore.


My old friend, my pal, my partner,


Shot in the back by an angry rival over a little butter-faced gal,


I watched the light go out in the blue eyes, the twinkle replaced by pain.


So many questions and twisted in agony.


There was a flash of anger.


He wasn’t ready to go.  We had plans and hopes.


We had laughs and adventures to come.


A whole future cut down in a moment, for nothin’.


I’m shaken back to the here and now, the gal’s feathers bob as she tilts her head.


“Wheat?  That ain’t a usual name.”


I drag my eyes up to meet hers, greedy and hard in their demands, but I got no one else.


“If you got a few dollars you can tell me about Kyle all night, sweetie.


Just a few dollars.”

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Cimarron

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:56 pm

I started this for last month but never got it finished.



His breathing increased along with his pulse as he followed her progress along the boardwalk, but to the casual observer he looked relaxed and amiable as he swung back on his chair and puffed on a cigar.  You’d have to take a special interest in the man to note the intensity of the hard stare and the muscle clenching and unclenching in his jaw.  The mouth appeared to smile in repose, with the ghost of a dimple fluttering briefly in the cheek as his lips parted to release a cloud of pungent smoke.  His feet were removed from the handrail and planted on the wooden floor as he stood.  It was time to follow Mrs. Roberta Bailey back home.

He kept a measured pace, pausing every now and again to gaze into a shop window or pat a horse on the neck, buying him enough time to hang back unobserved, without being too obvious in tracking his quarry.  He watched her leave the end of the sidewalk and turn up the path of a modest timber home.  It was well-tended and cozy.  He couldn’t help but concede she’d done well; it was no mansion, but it was a palace compared to the life she’d known last he’d seen of her.

The practiced brown eyes slid from side to side under the brim of the hat in a move designed to mislead anyone watching.  He looked for all the world like a man staring aimlessly ahead before he turned and strolled back up the street towards the bar.  Nobody noticed him duck into an alley, and no one saw him double back down towards the house...

oooOOOooo

She placed her basket on the table and began to put away the few groceries she had purchased.  The sugar needed to go in the jar, so she moved over to the dresser.  As she turned back her heart leaped into her mouth.  “Who are you?  What do you want?”  Her wide eyes drank in the dark man at the door, casually leaning on it as he closed it behind him.  Her fingers closed around the container.  Could she use it as a weapon?   “I’ve only got a few dollars.  Just take it and go.  Leave me alone.”

Heyes smiled.   “I don’t want your money.  I came to see you.”

She practically dropped the jar on the table with trembling hands.  “My husband will be back any moment.”

His brows knotted over twinkling eyes.  “No he won’t, Mrs. Bailey.  He works as a barman at the Golden Bear saloon.  He won’t be back here until gone midnight.  I watched you walk him to work.”

A chill gripped her heart.  “I’ll scream.”

The smile got wider.  “Now, why would you do that, Mrs. Bailey?  We’re old friends.  Or should I call you Lucy?  I always used to say it was short for Lucifer.”

Confusion crowded her face.  “Who ...?”  She paused.  “Only one person use to call me that.”

Heyes nodded.  “That’s right, Lucy.  You’re looking real good.  Got yourself a steady husband too.  I’m happy for you.  Really I am.  Nobody deserves it more.”

She blinked away her uncertainty.  “Who are you?”

“Don’t you recognize me, Lucy?  I’m all grown up now.”

She let out a gasp of delight.  “Hannibal?  Is it you?”

“The very same, Lucy,” he beamed.  “One of those little kids you hid when we ran away from Valparaiso.  I knew you right away.  You’re still real pretty.”

She flushed.  “No I’m not.  I had a hard life, but now I’m settled I appreciate it my life all the more.  I enjoy sitting by the fire, tending house and cooking.  My waist is thick and my skin is lined, but I’ve never been happier.”

Heyes’ eyes gleamed.  “You look happy, darlin’.  It shines from you like a beacon.  You light up everywhere you go.  You always could.  I was walking by the store when I heard a laugh drift through the door.  It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.”  The grin widened.  “Only you ever laughed like that.  It’s the single most dirty, rambunctious, bubbly, joyous sound I ever heard in my life.   It’s the laugh of someone who grabbed life by the throat and gave it a rummy kiss.  It’s burned into my memory so I had to check it out,” his forehead creased as he raised his brows, “and I wasn’t disappointed.”  He hooked his thumbs into his belt and leaned against the wall.  “How’ve ya been, Lucy?”

“I’m good, Han.  It was rough for a few years there, but it all came good in the end.  I met my Bert and he treats me like a queen.”  Her brows rose.  “How can a woman not love a man like that?”

“You deserve it, Lucy.  You’re Roberta now?  I asked around a bit.”

“My middle name, after my pa.  It always seemed more respectable than Lucy.  I swore I’d use it if I ever got a clean start.”  She shrugged.  “And I did.  I saved up enough to move two states away and pose as a widow looking for a mail order husband.”  She frowned at the darkness flickering in his eyes.  “Don’t look at me like that.  When you’ve spent your life dealing with men at their worst, I wasn’t going to take on a hopeless case.  Bert’s the best.  He’s gentle, kind, and works hard.  I cook, clean, and build the kind of home I could only dream of.”  She glanced around the one-roomed cabin; brass bed made up neatly and the dresser beside the range.  A colorful rag rug lit up the floor.  “It ain’t much, but it’s more home than I ever knew in my life.  He’s kind, Han.  He loves me.  He treats me like I was the reason to get up in the morning.  I love that.  I was always only ever a bit of fun before going home.”

He sighed, noting that she never said she loved him, but sex had always been a transaction for her; at least since she’d been farmed out from Valparaiso at fourteen.  “I hope he’s treating you well, Lucy.  You deserve it.”

“You have no idea, Han.  I get to run a home and cook.  Women smile and talk to me.  They invite me to their homes.  Can you imagine that? They like me?  An ex-whore.  Sometimes I laugh and wonder if they can tell.”

He strode forward and pulled out a chair.  “Why wouldn’t they like you?”  He sat.  “You’re the kindest person I ever met.”

A ghost of a smile twitched at her lips.  “Not if you get on the wrong side of me.”

The smile almost split his face.  “Yeah.  I remember that man searching for those two runaways from the home.” 
  
Her blue eyes sparkled.  “That farmer thought he as good as bought you.  He was angry when you ran off because once you were handed over Valparaiso didn’t have to replace his cheap labor.  He lost his slaves and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna hand you over to him.”

“Yeah, we sure picked the right bar to hide behind that day.  I owe you a lot, Lucy.  When you took us in and hid us until he gave up and left you gave us a fresh start in life.  We got the chance to be more than farm workers.”

A throaty laugh rang around the rafters.  “You sure did.  I saw the posters.  You took that freedom and ran with it until there wasn’t a bank or railroad you didn’t torment.”

“We had to make a living, Lucy,” his eyes twinkled innocently.  “You can’t blame us for aiming high.  We’re modern men.  We innovate and improve.”
“Is that what you’re calling it?” she giggled.  “And here’s me thinking it wasn’t about anything but the money at the end.”

“Well, that mattered too,” laughed Heyes.  “There’s a reason we went big-time.  I was never interested in small change.”

  “Are you still in touch with Jed?  It’s been a few years since I saw you in the newspapers.  What are you doing now?”        

He nodded.  “Yup.  I’m on my way to meet up with him now.  We’re still partners.  I’ve been trying to keep my nose clean and live quietly.  Telegrams and telephones make it too easy to get caught now.  I’ve been doing security work under another name.”

“Give him my love, won’t you?  He looked like an angel come to life with those golden curls and big blue eyes.  I bet he’s one handsome man.”

“Homely as a mule’s butt,” Heyes shook his head, “but I’m probably not the best person to ask.  He’s not my type.”

A raucous rang through the cabin.  “I don’t believe you.  You ain’t got any reason to compete with Jed.  You’re quite the looker yourself.  Damn, if you’d looked like that when I hid you in the store room nobody in that place would have let you go.  Who’da thunk a couple of scraggy runaways could grow up like you?”  She paused.  “Have you got a family?  Are you happy?”

The dark eyes clouded.  “Not yet.  Maybe soon?  There are tradeoffs with a life on the road,” his smile brightened.  “We aim to settle somewhere eventually.”  His eyes softened.  “It’s great to see you happy, Lucy.  You deserve it.  When I thought it was you I just had to look you up.  Nobody saw me come here and your secret is safe with me.”

She gazed at him with knowing eyes.  “Yes.  We know better than everyone else that we make our own paths as much as they make us.”

The dimple deepened.  “You always were smarter than the average saloon gal.”

“I was a whore, Han,” her matter-of-fact blue eyes bored into him.  “I was sold into that as sure as you were sold to till the fields.  It wasn’t a choice.  They said it was to cook and clean, but they know what they were doing.  I hope I helped to give you more choices than I had after I found you hiding in that back alley.  You might have made mistakes, but at least they’re your own.”

Their eyes met in a moment of mutual understanding.  “If you ever need anything, Lucy; anything at all, you can get us through Sheriff Lom Trevors in Porterville.  We owe you and we always pay our debts.”

“Pah, you don’t owe me squat.  I hid some runaways in a bar,” she smiled.  “But a sheriff?  You know a sheriff?”

“He used to ride with us but went straight.”

Her smile spread.  “He did?  Smart fella.  So are you for following his lead?”

“I can’t talk about that, Lucy, but he is smart. Real smart.  I often wish I’d done the same,” he shrugged, “but then I remember the fun I had wasting all that money and I come back to my senses.  Honesty is a good thing but you don’t want to get fanatical about it.”

Her delicious laugh rolled around the ex-outlaw leader once more.  “That’s the lad I remember hiding. I always said you’d either end up at the end of a rope or running the country.” 

“We did plenty of running, Lucy, so you were half right.”  Heyes strode forward and embraced her warmly.  “I’m glad you’re happy.   If the day ever comes when you’re not and we can help, contact Lom.  We’ll be there.”
She sucked in a deep breath, the scent of leather, cigars, and horses was mostly new but enough of the boy remained to trigger her maternal instincts.  “Take care.  I’m glad you chose our bar to hide behind.  You’re the one good thing I did in my life.” 

“Nope, looking after yourself was the best thing, Lucy.”  Heyes hugged her close.  “I have to go now but I want you to know I’ve never forgotten your kindness, and now I know where you are you’ll never be alone.”  He pulled back and stared into her eyes.  “You’re not alone, not now we know where you are.”

“Take care of yourself and give Jed my love.  If you ever get settled let me know.”  She watched the door close softly behind him, noting how empty the place suddenly felt.  “Yes, it was a real good thing I found them at the back of that saloon that night.  That life would have broke them.”  She paused staring down at the sugar jar before shaking herself back to the here and now.  “Yup, nobody knows better’n me how being forced into the wrong life can break a person.”  She pulled the lid from the jar, still muttering to herself.  “I might tell my Bert about them.  ‘Course I have to say they were hiding at the back of somewhere else.  A shop maybe?  Yeah, a shop.  No decent woman would ever be seen dead in a bar.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:06 pm

Cat and Mouse

“I’m sorry, gentlemen, but this is much too gamey.”

Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry glanced at each other with raised eyebrows.  Turning their attention back to one J. Bellamy Pierpont, Curry spoke.  “You said you wanted buffalo, so we brought you buffalo.  The bigger the game, the wilder the taste.”

“I’m sorry, but we’ll need something milder,” Pierpont huffed.

Heyes quipped, “Maybe the fox should raid the henhouse.”

“Or maybe the fox should be next.”  Pierpont brightened.

“Fox’ll be too gamey for you too.  When you figure out what you want, let me know,” Curry said before turning on his heel.

“Wait!”

Kid again faced Pierpont.  Heyes glanced at Curry and gestured he would respond.  “Mr. Pierpont, we’ve tasted most of what’s out there, and barring people being used to camping and the outdoors, there’s a reason they mostly eat farm animals.  The wilder tastes take some getting used to.  What’s the sense in supplying meat to a hunting camp anyway?”

J. Bellamy Pierpont rose.  “Ah, precisely the point, Mr. Smith.  Well-heeled Easterners will pay handsomely for a big game hunt here in the West, but I’m afraid most of them haven’t the stomach for what they’ll shoot.  They’re only interested in bagging trophies for bragging rights and probably do expect everything to taste like chicken, so therefore the need for something authentic but also suitable for their palates.  That’s how we’ll be different from other such hunting outfits.”  He regarded the partners.  “As you said, you gentlemen have had experience with various tastes in the wild.  What would you suggest?”

Curry scrunched his brow in thought.  He could suggest many things, but he also did not want himself and Heyes to find themselves on a wild goose chase.  Wait – goose?  Nah.  Other birds?  “How about turkey?” he heard himself say.

Heyes nodded.  “That might do it.  We saw a few in the area.”

Pierpont smirked.  “Turkey?  That sounds so … common!”

The dark-haired partner sighed.  “You’re right.  It’s more common than any game you’ve mentioned so far.  Tourists paying a lot of money want something different.  They can hunt turkey anywhere.  Now this whole thing really makes no sense.”

Pierpont was aghast.  “With insubordination like that, you’ll find your employment terminated quickly.  How dare you!”

Heyes continued.  “No, how dare you, Mr. Pierpont.  What you don’t know is we’re really here as a favor to Colonel Harper.  He wants to make sure any investment he makes in your operation would pay off.  So pardon me for saying so, but this won’t work.  You can’t have guides going in two directions – helping the paying customers find what they’re looking for and running off to feed them something else.  You lose the authenticity for them right there, never mind running us ragged. ”

“Ah, Mr. Smith, your argument loses validity when there are two of you – Mr. Jones to guide and you to hunt dinner.  It makes perfect sense.”  Pierpont’s smile had smug written all over it.

Curry rolled his eyes and pursed his lips.  He would leave this to his partner.

“Mr. Pierpont, I’m not going to argue the point.  We’ll let Colonel Harper know we don’t think you can make this work, so it isn’t worth his investment.  Your lack of experience shows in spades.”  He paused a moment to let the words sink in.  “With all due respect, Eastern dudes will pay big money for their trophies, yes, but they’ll want the whole experience of getting them, warts and all.”

Pierpont challenged him.  “What are you saying?”

Kid jumped in.  “If my partner wasn’t plain enough, they wanna eat what they shoot.  We have some experience leadin’ a hunt, and you have it all wrong.”

“Well!”

Heyes shot back, “Well water, no.  They’ll drink from the stream, same as everyone else.”

Pierpont’s voice rose.  “Stop twisting my words!  If you thought the premise was bad from the start, why did you go traipsing off after buffalo?”

Heyes shrugged.  “For the Colonel’s sake, we had to give you and the idea the benefit of the doubt.  You admitted you didn’t know what game tasted like, so we gave you that, but it sounded strange.  Your backers back East want in on a good idea, but they need someone tougher than you and who’s done this before to make it work.  Colonel Harper wants to invest in Western tourism, but not with the likes of someone so inexperienced running it.  Odds are it’ll fail right out of the gate.”

Pierpont’s countenance turned a bright shade of scarlet.  He stammered and opened his mouth, hemming and hawing to find the right words.  None came.

Curry stood with arms folded as Heyes continued.  “Face it, Mr. Pierpont, you might be able to fool your Eastern syndicate, but you’re really just a grifter trying to con your backers.  The Colonel’s smarter than that, and so are we.”  He winked.  “And remember, it takes one to know one.  Good day.”

Kid tipped his hat as he followed Heyes out.  

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:05 pm

Well, it was 11:59 when I finished this. But then I had to log on and this satellite internet isn't always the fastest thing. So I completely understand if this doesn't go in the poll. I just did it for the fun of it anyway cat

Judy's Journal #2
oooooasjooooo

October 13th, 1883,...again

Dear Diary,

I feel sooooo tired, but I just can't seem to get to sleep. Today was just too WONDERFUL! I was going to save my loving date with Kid Curry to write down  tomorrow, but I just can't wait! If I don't write it down, I feel like I'm going to explode! Glad I packed you with me when I came to Destiny Loop.

Now, where did I leave off at...? My head is so full of love and happiness, I can't hardly think straight! Hold on, I'll be right back. I gotta go check......

That's right. I had just jumped on Kid Curry when he had opened that door. I could tell he couldn't wait to be in my arms just as I couldn't wait to be in his as we tumbled to the floor. What is it with men though? They all want to play hard to get.

Hannibal laughed as we hit the floor. He was so happy that I could finally meet his partner.

Anyway, like I said, Kid was playing hard to get. Men must think it's sexy or something. They need to learn it just makes loving them harder. I told Kid he was adorable. He was trying to raise up, I think to hug me, but I had ahold of his head, giving him some of the best kisses of his life. He looked cute with my red lipstick on his face, just like Hannibal had.

Kid was talking really loud, but to tell the truth, I really don't know what he was saying. I was having too hard a time trying to hold him still for kissing. Why these outlaws can't lay still is something I just don't understand. Maybe they feel like the law has them held down or something. Well this time, it was true. I am the Sheriff of Sweetness after all.

Hannibal stepped over and around us and I heard him say for us to have fun. Don't worry my love! I plan on it! Kid tried once more to raise up and he got a little ways before I grabbed his collar and jerked him back down. I knew that was what he was REALLY wanting. I told him that I would stay with him while Hannibal went where ever he was going. I bet he was going after us all some wine for our new relationship.

I threw my arms around his neck as Hannibal closed the door. Woo! Now we were all alone! Kid got himself into a sitting position, so I took that as a cue he wanted me to kiss on the back of his neck. I happily obliged. He was pulling at my arms though. Maybe I was choking him hanging on his back like I was, so I slid around to lay in his lap. I kept my arms around his neck though. I told him not to fight it, but he still insisted on playing hard to get. Whew. Loving outlaws is hard work.

He was pushing on me a little, I guess I was still holding on too tight. So I took one hand off his neck and ran it through the part of his hair sticking out the back of his hat. That was when he put his arms between mine. He pushed my arms apart, (why...I don't know, you know men) and tried to stand up. He actually got to his feet this time, but just as he was about to straighten up, I grabbed the bottom of his jacket and pulled him back down. He was loving it, I could tell! He hit the floor hard enough that his hat came off his head. Somehow, it got scooted out of the way.

Anyway, as soon as he hit the floor, I grabbed that big pretty gun out of his holster. He said to give it back to him, but I held it to my chest and told him to come get it. He wanted too, but he resisted the urge by jumping up and running out of the room. I got up to go after him, but the door was stuck as I tried to pull it open. Then, I heard a locking sound. Oh my goodness! He wanted me to stay all night! Whoopee!

So I told him I was waiting. I ran over to the window and after a minute, saw my gunslinging love go into the saloon. No doubt to stand at the bar and have a drink while he got ready for the rest of the night. Hannibal was probably in there too.

I decided to make myself at home. After all, they were taking me to Devil's Hole to live with them. Maybe they'll let me help on one of their robberies! That would be wonderful!

So, like I said, I was going to get cozy. I saw their saddlebags and decided to look through them, you know, to get to know them better. I have NEVER seen saddlebags hold so much stuff before. There was the usual man stuff, and clothes, jackets, coffee stuff, little bit of food, books, even a whole suit! They can pack better and neater than any woman I've ever seen. I pulled out one of Hannibal's shirts. It was dark blue. I was going to try it on, but it was too little to fit me. So I just draped it across my shoulders. I picked out one of Hannibal's books too. He's so intellectual. Our children are going to be geniuses!

I looked back out the window and didn't see them coming back yet, so I put my other love's brown hat on and laid down on the bed on my stomach. I opened Hannibal's book and just started reading while I waited for them to get back. I was still holding that pretty gun too. I just patted it as it lay partially beneath my chest. I was keeping it warm for my darling Kid.

After a while, I heard some shouting out in the street. I went to the window, opened it, and leaned out to see what was going on. And guess what I saw! My two outlaw loves on the balcony! I bet they were going to surprise me by coming in the window.

But I couldn't wait any longer, so I climbed out the window. I caught a glimpse of Kid running around the corner while Hannibal yelled to somebody in the street. He started to turn and go somewhere, (don't know where or why,...and where did Kid get too?) so I jumped forward and caught one of his legs as he was trying to run. WHY do both of them INSIST on playing hard to get? Maybe it's a game they like to play, I don't know.

Anyway, Hannibal had fallen facedown on the balcony and I helped him to get turned over to face me. He was in such a hurry too. I told him 'hello' and that 'I'd been waiting', and tried to put my arms around his neck. He didn't want me to for some reason, so I grabbed the lapels of his jacket like I had earlier. He seemed to enjoy that. I bent down to kiss him and noticed he had a big bruise forming on his cheek. Wonder where that came from? He must've ran into something. But I told him I'd kiss it and make it better. He was holding me up off him by my shoulders. Ain't that sweet! He wanted to gaze into my eyes! After a couple of moments though, he slowly started to let me get closer and closer to those luscious lips. Why torture yourself Hannibal? Just let me fall into your arms!

He must've been uncomfortable laying on his back, so he flipped us over on our sides, which was much better! Now I could pull him forward to me! Then, from somewhere this voice said something and Hannibal said he been trying to tell somebody something. I didn't care for the conversation though. Talk later, kiss NOW!

Then this man took ahold of my wrist. I looked up at him and he had a gun pointed at us. When did this guy show up? I told him Hannibal was one of my boyfriends and he told me to let him up. I certainly didn't want to, but then I noticed the sheriff's badge on his vest. Oh no! My outlaw sweetheart had been captured! He should've ran before the law got up to us.

The sheriff made me let go of Hannibal and then helped me up on my feet. I didn't want HIS help! I told him we were going to go to Devil's Hole and he said we had to go to his office first. He might not've known it, but I knew what he was up to. He was going to lock my Hannibal up.

I still don't know where Kid had went to. Probably saw the law and ran off. That's good because I'll need him to help break Hannibal out of jail.

We walked down the stairs to the street and I just couldn't stand it. I HAD to have a goodnight kiss! So I quickened my pace to catch up with Hannibal who was walking a little ways in front of me and the stupid sheriff. But, all of a sudden, Hannibal took off running. Probably trying to escape the law. I chased after him so I could have my kiss whenever he decided to stop.

The sheriff started shooting so I ran faster. Then Hannibal ran faster. And then, Hannibal did the STRANGEST thing...he ran straight into the sheriff's office. Maybe he can't see good in the dark. I mean, why on Earth would he ever do that on purpose?

I heard his raised voice say something and by the time I got in the jailhouse, the deputy had Hannibal AND Kid behind bars! Now, I'll have to break both of them out. I always end up having to do everything...

I stood between their cells and blew them kisses. For some reason, they were back against the wall of the cell. Maybe the deputy had told them to stay there. I didn't know so I tried to talk them into coming up to the bars so we could kiss goodnight.

But before they could get there, the stupid sheriff came and dragged me back out front where his desk was. Then he started to interrogate me. I ignored him though and just kept giving sexy looks at my two, soon-to-be-free, outlaws.

I heard him ask where I was from so I told him. Then he said he was going to have his deputy escort me back to the hotel room, and home in the morning. No! I have to break my boyfriends out of jail! But then Hannibal said that that was their room, not mine, and Kid agreed by lying and saying he locked me in there. He's so sweet, lying to the law for me!

So now, here I lay, on a cot in the front jail cell, surrounded by cold bars on three sides. At least the sheriff didn't lock me in, and he went and got my stuff off my horse. Now if the dumb lawmen would just fall asleep, I could sneak and get the key. Then we'd be on our way to my new home!

My two sweeties looked frazzled everytime I looked back there. I guess getting arrested got them all worked up. They're asleep now, which is good. They need their rest since we're going to maybe have to outrun a posse tomorrow evening. Maybe I'll get my own wanted poster! If I do, I'm definitely getting a copy of it to keep!

So, I guess I'll finally quit writing for tonight. I'm REALLY tired. And my eyes are starting to get heavy. This is only the second time I've slept in a jail cell. The first time of course was because of that stupid mayor's son, saying I attacked him. Now ain't that just the craziest thing you've ever heard?! A gentle lady like myself attacking somebody... I still say to this day it wasn't an attack. I lovingly threw myself into the man's arms. Guess some men don't like independent women.

Well, goodnight for real this time dear diary. I should have another good story for you tomorrow about my outlaw boyfriends!

Love, Judy

A/N - For the ACTUAL account of what happened, instead of Judy's perspective, you can see Chapter 12 and 13 of Thrown For A Loop.

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PostSubject: Re: Bars   Thu Sep 01, 2016 4:48 am

This wasn't an elegant stumble, not a fragile little trip. Nope, it was the sort of fall that makes every woman sigh, 'There but for the grace of God...'  She planted her gloved hands on the sidewalk and raised her face from the wooden planks and sniffed back burgeoning tears, trying to decide if she was hurt or merely  mortified.  Her hat, a floral extravaganza, drooped over one eye and wobbled comically as she peered at the toes of the brown boots in front of her.          
Kid looked around as though it was somehow his fault.  Her extreme embarrassment seemed to be contagious.  “Are you alright?”

She took the proffered hand, blushing and shaking her fair head to shoo off the concerned crowd beginning to gather.  “Please.  I don’t want any fuss.  It was just a silly trip.  I’m fine.”

“Are you sure, ma’am?  That was quite a tumble.” 

She looked towards the smooth voice through eyes misting with mortification and caught her breath at the face of the angel smiling gently at her.  She blinked, clearing the clouds, but leaving just enough to make her sapphire eyes glitter winsomely.  “Yes, I’m sure, Mr…?”

“Jones. “  He tipped the brim of his hat with a long forefinger.  “Thaddeus Jones.”  He smiled away the twittering passers-by and helped her over to the chair outside the foot of the mercantile.  “You’re shaking.”

“Just shock.”  She glanced over to the sidewalk, where there was not so much as a knot of wood to account for her fall.  “I’ve no idea what I caught my toe on.  I could have sworn there was something there.”  She raised her hands to her heart-shaped face.  “I feel like such a fool.”
 
“There’s no need for that.”  The Kid looked around.  “Are you alone?  Some friends or family perhaps?”

“I’m quite alone.  My father is doing some business in town.  I thought I’d see the shops and get some air.”  She made to stand and winced in pain.  “I think I may have done some damage after all.  My ankle….” 

She pursed her cupid lips.  “Would you be so kind as to help me back to my hotel, Mr. Jones?   I may need a strong arm to lean on.”

“Sure, let me help you.”

Oh, and my name is Ina Barr.  My father is Jacob Barr the preacher.  Maybe you’ve heard of him?”

“I can’t say that I have.  Let’s get you back to your room and I’ll go find your pa for you…,” he was cut off by baritone voice behind him.

“Thaddeus?  What are you doing?”

They turned to face the dark scrutiny examining then from under the brim of the black hat. 

“I’m helping Miss Barr back to her hotel, Joshua.  She had a fall and hurt her ankle.”

“Is that right?  Are you hurt bad, Miss Barr?  Do you want to show me your limp?  Maybe perform a couple of cartwheels?”

Outrage crowded the Kid’s angry face.  “The lady is hurt, Joshua!”

Heyes shook his head.  “Nope the lady is a complete fraud and she was trying to get you back to the hotel room to draw you into the Badger Game.  Isn’t that right, Miss?”

The young woman’s face simmered with emotion as she pulled out a handkerchief.  “Fraud?  How could you?”

Heyes strode over to the chair and towered over her.  “Well, for one thing you seem to know that the badger game is a confidence trick where men are blackmailed after being caught in a compromising situation, and not many young women would know that.”  His hand shot out and grasped her wrist to prevent her for making the break for it her swift rise from then seat signaled.  “And secondly, I’ve just had a drink with your ‘father’ in that bar over there.  I watched the whole thing right along with him, including your pratfall.”  He nodded in professional appreciation.  “Real professional.  You can do that every time?  It looked real.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she hissed. 

“Relax,” grinned Heyes.  “I’m an old friend of Silky’s.  I used to work with him myself.”

“Silky’s in the bar?” the Kid demanded.

“Yup, all ready to give the mark enough time to get good and compromised with this little gal before he burst in.”  He shook his head ruefully.  “I didn’t expect it to be my partner though.  What have I told you about your needy people?”

Harsh blue eyes glittered down at the girl.  “What’s your real name?” 

“Maggie.”  She dropped her head in shame.  “I’m sorry.”

“Well, what’s it to be?”  The gunman’s face stretched into a grin.  “Do I go over to the bar and have a drink with your ‘pa’, or do we go back to your hotel and get you good and compromised?  Your call, Maggie.  The lady always gets to choose with a gentleman.”
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