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 Chapter 2 Opportunities Part one

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Keays

Keays

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

Chapter 2  Opportunities  Part one Empty
PostSubject: Chapter 2 Opportunities Part one   Chapter 2  Opportunities  Part one EmptyThu Sep 05, 2013 4:39 pm

TWIST OF FATE

Chapter 2: Opportunities Part one

Sam Jefferies was eight years old the day his father died His family lived in a quaint little house in a quaint little town close to the Wyoming-Montana border. His father had been the Sheriff in that town. Sammy, with his mother and father had basked in the glow of friendship and respectability that had been theirs mainly due to his father’s firm but fair interpretation of his duties. Thomas Jefferies was indeed an honourable man and the residents of Quesnal Wyoming could not have asked for a better.
But then the unthinkable had happened. It had been a cold clear autumn day with just a small dusting of snow on the ground when a group of innocent looking men had quietly ridden into town and then brazenly robbed the small bank of $800.00. The outlaws would have been quite content to quietly ride out of town just as they had ridden in, but the assistant manager of the bank had different ideas and as the group of men had started on their way Mr. Jackson had come running out of the bank hollering and yelling and attracting the attention of everyone within earshot. The outlaws, true to their nature had kicked their horses into a gallop and headed for the outskirts of town by the shortest possible route.
Of course Sheriff Jefferies had become alerted by all the commotion. Responding to his call of duty he had hurried out into the street to assess the situation and was promptly mowed down and trampled into the hard ground by the pounding hooves of the stampeding horses.
The town had gone into shock. No one could quite believe that such a terrible thing had happened—not in their town! Sam and his mother were devastated Merle Jefferies was so grief-stricken at the loss of her husband that she became house bound and partially bedridden in her despair. Sam tried his best to tend to his mother, but he was much too young for that responsibility and it fell to their kind and supportive neighbours to tend to the young widow and her child.
In time the town recovered and carried on. A new Sheriff was appointed and he was a fine upstanding gentleman in his own right. Merle Jefferies also gradually got back on her feet and with the small pension she received as the widow of a law officer killed in the line of duty she was able to stay in their small home and raise her son. The outlaws were never captured, the money never returned and the death of a good man never vindicated
Sam Jefferies grew up with a mission burned into his heart and soul: That good honest folks should be able to live their lives and raise their families without having to fear being assaulted in their own homes. They should be able to work hard and be prosperous without fear of loosing their savings to thieves and con men. Indeed, by the time Sam had grown into his twenties he was determined to do everything within his power to see that every man who rode the outlaw trail would pay for the misery they had caused and that justice would be prevailed upon them.
So it was, when Sam came into his twenty-fifth year that the Wyoming Sheriff’s Department had offered Thomas Jefferies’ son the very opportunity he had been seeking to carry out his mission. The job was given to him to become friendly with the Jordan family, to become their employee and to gain their trust and possibly even their friendship then, simply to wait. Sheriff Morrison was certain that sooner or later those two most notorious of outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry would come calling. And when they did all Sam had to do was send a telegram and then sit tight.
Well Sam had done just that. While in town, waiting for the reply to his message Sam had carried on with his errands just as would be expected. He stocked up on the supplies that Mr. Jordan had requested and even went to spend some time with his convenient girl friend in order not to arouse any suspicions. When the expected telegram finally arrived it congratulated Sam on his good work and instructed him to carry on as he had been, just watching and listening. But also, if the need arose, to do whatever he had to do to keep the outlaws from leaving, that in itself was the most important task of all.
Driving back to the Double J Ranch that afternoon Sam felt a slight sense of guilt over his duplicity with the Jordan family. They seemed to be solid, hard working people and they had always treated him fairly and with respect. Not to mention the eldest daughter, Bridget was a fine looking young woman and Sam immensely enjoyed watching her figure walking away.
Still, they were friends with outlaws, even to the point of harbouring them from the law and that just was not acceptable. Sam was determined to see Heyes and Curry brought to justice and so he hardened his heart and stayed focused on his goals and he became just as smooth a liar and con man as the criminals he sought to bring down.

As the morning and afternoon wore on Heyes and Kid were enjoying the opportunity of doing absolutely nothing. Jessie spent most of the afternoon in his study getting lessons ready for the class he was to teach the next morning. Belle spent most of the time preparing meals and tending to the baby while the girls alternated between helping their mother and visiting with their guests out on the porch.
It was another warm sunny afternoon and Curry was taking full advantage of it. He was leaning back in his chair, his feet propped up on the porch railing and his hat pulled down over his eyes, apparently sound asleep. The three dogs were also taking advantage of the lazy day and were stretched out in various shady spots along the porch and Beth had gone inside to help her mother tend to Jay. Heyes decided that now was as good a time as any to ask Bridget to join him for a walk about the property. She was, of course, quite happy to accompany him.

“Where would you like to go first Joshua?” She had asked him as they walked across the yard, the two smaller dogs, not wanting to miss an opportunity for a walk jumped up to join them. Rufus, being an older gentleman decided to keep Kid company. “I could show you the creek where we go fishing, or we could saddle up a couple of horses and I could show you the new foals and calves up on the north pasture.”

“Well actually Bridget, I just wanted us to go for a walk and have a talk.” Heyes admitted. Then he smiled and offered her his arm, which she gladly albeit suspiciously accepted.

“Talk about what?” she asked with a sideways glance up at him.

“Well,” he began with a sigh, “I’ve been thinking about the conversation yesterday about your choice of careers and I admit I’m a little concerned about it.”

Bridget became defensive, “But Momma and Papa are supportive of it, and you said you would introduce me to your friend…!”

“I know, I know. And I will.” Heyes assured her. “But I just want to make sure you understand what you could be getting yourself into.”

“Oh I know.” Bridget answered him flippantly, “It’s dangerous. I would be associating with the criminal element. It’s no job for a woman…”

Heyes remained serious. “Yes, to all of the above.”

“But you know a woman who does it, you said so!” Bridget was once more becoming defensive.

He sighed again, knowing he was treading on treacherous ground here. He did not want to come across as preachy or condescending, but he still strongly felt the need to impress upon her the seriousness of her choice.

“In order to be a successful undercover detective you have to be able to look a person straight in the eye and lie to them. You have to, in all sense and purposes become what they are in order to fit into their lives and be convincing. In fact you have to be worse than the people you’re trying to bring down just in order to stay alive. Now do you think you would be willing to do that?”

“I suppose I might have to do those things Joshua, but it would be for the greater good wouldn’t it?” Bridget reasoned. “So wouldn’t that make it alright?”

“I’ve heard law officers, some of them anyways, justify their actions that way.” Heyes admitted. “They reason that because they have the law on their side that that condones the deceptions and brutalities they use to apprehend a criminal.” Then he smiled ruefully. “I suppose I could be prejudice in this matter, but I don’t swallow it. Injustice against another person is just that, whether the man behind the gun is wearing a badge or not.”

“But injustice is exactly what I want to stop.” Bridget argued. “Take you and Thaddeus for instance. It’s not justice at all that the law is still after you after all this time. You have been trying for so long to change your lives around and the law just won’t let you. Well I want to get in there and make things better because that’s just not right!”

Heyes smiled at her. “Well of course I’m going to agree with you on that. But there are other ways you can fight that battle without putting your own life in jeopardy.” Then his expression clouded for a moment and he gently squeezed her hand. “I care about you Bridget and I’d hate to see anything bad happen to you.”

It was Bridget’s turn to sigh heavily. Why couldn’t Joshua understand how important this was to her?

Heyes saw her frustration and decided it was time to change the subject. “What about the young men in your life? And don’t tell me that a pretty young lady like you doesn’t have any suitors.”

Bridget smiled shyly. “Oh yes, there have been some and I have certainly noticed Sam looking my way on occasion And I have to admit it has been fun to tease him a little.” But then she smiled broadly and put her other hand on Joshua’s arm. “But you know that you’re always going to be the first love of my life!”

Heyes laughed. “Oh Bridget, you’re really are turning into a little flirt!”

“Oh it’s all in fun,” She said, patting his arm. “You know that.” Then she rolled her eyes. “Not like Beth! It’s so embarrassing watching her swooning over…” Then she stopped herself and brought a hand quickly up to her mouth. She blushed brightly.

Heyes smiled down at her. “Swooning over Thaddeus, you were about to say?”

“Oh my goodness!” Bridget was mortified. “I can’t believe I said that! Oh, Beth will kill me if she finds out. Oh no, you won’t tell him will you? Beth would just be beside herself if he knew how she felt.” And then a terrible thought occurred to her. “You don’t think he already knows do you?”

“What? Thaddeus?” Asked Heyes incredulously. “Being able to tell when a young lady is sweet on him? I think even Thaddeus will pick up on that sooner or later.”

“Oh, now you’re teasing me!” Bridget accused him. “Please, don’t tell him, okay?”

Heyes smiled and then it was his turn to give her arm a pat. “Don’t worry, I won’t say a word.” Then he took her into his arms in a friendship hug and kissed her on the forehead.

Just then they heard and then saw Sam driving the buckboard into the yard with the supplies. All three dogs changed their plans for the moment and scrambled towards the wagon, full of tail wagging and excited barkings. Sam uncharacteristically ignored the dogs on this occasion because he had noticed the two people at the other end of the yard as soon as he had driven in. It took him unawares and he couldn’t prevent the slight scowl that flashed across his face at the sight of that outlaw hugging a decent woman. Heyes smiled at what he took to be a young man’s unnecessary jealousy then released Bridget and walked her back to the front porch.
Once there Bridget carried on into the house to help her mother get supper on the table. Heyes walked up beside Jed who was awake now and leaning against the porch post with a far-a-way look in his eyes.

“Whatcha thinking Kid?”

Curry came back to the present and smiled whimsically. “Oh, just how nice it would be to put down roots and stay here and be part of a family again.”

“Huh hu.” Answered Heyes. “Would be nice wouldn’t it?”

“Sure would.”

“But you know we can’t do that, right?”

“Oh yeah Heyes, I know. Course nothing to prevent us from coming back for a visit now and again.”

“That’s true.” Heyes agreed. “As long as it’s not too often.”

“No no, not often.” Said Curry. “Just on special occasions. Like the fourth of July.”

“Huh hu.”

“Then there’s Thanksgiving.”

“Yup.”

“Then Christmas, sure would be nice to spend Christmas with a family again.”

“Sure would.”

“Then, of course there’s Easter. Not to mention the girls’ birthdays and then we couldn’t miss Jay’s first birthday, that wouldn’t be right.”

“No, sure wouldn’t”.

“And then there’s my birthday, not to mention yours. I wonder when Belle’s and Jesse’s are. Oh, and of course their anniversary!”

“Kid?”

“Yeah.”

“I think supper’s about ready.”

“Ohhh!”


The evening meal was again an unqualified success. Both young men wondered out loud how Belle was able to consistently put together such wonderful meals with all the other things she had to tend to as well. She shrugged off their compliments, but smiled with pleasure all the same.
As everyone was settling into seconds of dessert and another round of coffee, Belle loaded up a tray with a full plate of dinner, dessert and coffee and handed it over to Bridget.

“Here Bridget, take this out to Sam please.” She requested of her eldest child. “He got back so late from town I guess he’s still out there putting the supplies away. I’m sure he must be quite hungry by now.”

“Yes Momma.” Bridget answered as she took the tray and headed for the front door. She flashed a smile in Joshua’s direction as she went and he smiled back at their private joke. Obviously poor Sam was in for some more teasing.

Belle returned to the kitchen and began the clean-up and since Beth had become busy tending to her young brother, Curry excused himself from the table and joined Belle in the kitchen to help out.

“Oh, Thaddeus. Thank you.”

“Well it’s the least I can do after the way you folks have made us feel so welcome.” He answered. “It’s been a real nice break for us, ma’am.”

“What’s with this “ma’am” stuff?” Belle laughed. “You’re family here you know that.”

“Yes ma’am…” Kid began, then he stopped himself and laughed. “Sorry, Belle. I guess my folks just taught me to do things a certain way and some of that learning went pretty deep.”

Belle stopped what she was doing and smiled up at the soft-spoken, handsome young man. Again, she found herself in conflict over what she felt for the person she had come to know and the outlaw she had heard so many bad things about.

“Your folks would be very proud of you Thaddeus.” She finally stated. “You’re a fine young man—and don’t you let anyone tell you any different.”

Curry smiled broadly “No ma’am—ah Belle. I surely won’t.”

At this point Beth came into the kitchen trying to hold onto a grumpy squiggly little wiggly worm named Jesse Jr. His older sister looked totally frustrated.

“Momma, I can’t get him to settle.” She whined. “He always goes down right away for you, what’s the matter with him?”

Belle turned from the dishes and began to dry her hands. “Well,” she answered. “Did you go over the list the way we discussed?”

Beth rolled her eyes “Yes!” And then her focus changed as she fought to hold onto her baby brother while he twisted and turned and screamed his protests. “What do I do with him? He won’t listen to reason! Tending to babies is a lot harder than it looks!”

Belle smiled through her son’s screaming and in her quiet, calm manner she took control of the situation.

“He’s been fed.”

“Yes”

“You’ve changed his nappy?”

“Yes”

“He’s all clean and dry, not cold?”

“Yes!” Beth was getting frustrated again. “I did all that!”

“What else is on that list that you’re supposed to do before you put him down after he’s eaten?”

“I don’t know!”

Belle sighed. A mother’s job is never done.

“Have you burped him?” She asked.

“Oh.” Beth’s response said it all. “No.”

Belle smiled.

“I think that’s the next thing you should try.”

“Yes Momma.” Beth looked totally dejected. “I am never going to get the hang of this! How did you manage it with two?”

“Just don’t worry about it.” Her mother suggested. “It’ll come in time.”

Jed, who had been leaning against the counter and watching this exchange with a certain amount of detached humour finally made a comment.

“Just think of it as an opportunity for practice Beth.” He said to her. “Then by the time you have your own family you’ll be a real pro.”

Beth instantly beamed with pleasure and hoisting her brother up onto her shoulder headed back into the nursery to continue with her practicing.

Belle turned back to Thaddeus with a large smile on her face. Thaddeus himself had closed his eyes and grimaced as soon as the words had left his mouth.

“I think I should have just kept quiet.” He mumbled. “I know I just said completely the wrong thing.”

“I think you just made Beth’s day.”

“Ohh no. I’m going to have Jesse after me with a shotgun pretty soon if I’m not careful.”

Belle laughed and gave him a pat on the arm.

“Don’t worry about it Thaddeus.” She assured him. “We’ve all had to suffer through teenage crushes and most of us survive them. Give her time, she’ll get over it.”

“I sure hope so.” He answered, then thinking that he might be giving the wrong impression he quickly started to back step. ”Not that Beth wouldn’t make some fella a fine wife! I just think she could do a lot better than an old ex-outlaw for a husband.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Belle said with another smile and then headed into the dinning room with the coffee pot, ready to sit down and have a cup herself.

Curry leaned back against the counter again and sighed heavily as he ran his hands over his face and through his curls. He knew Belle was just teasing him but this was a balancing act he was not used to playing. Then he pushed himself away from the counter and headed towards the other room to join the rest of the “adults”.


After Belle and Jed had left to go clean up Jesse and Heyes found themselves sitting at the table on their own. Both of them were relaxed and enjoying a second cup of coffee.

“You sure you have to leave tomorrow Joshua?” Jesse asked. “Me and Beth have to go to school in the morning, but Bridget and Belle will be here and you know you and Thaddeus are always welcome.”

“Yeah, I know Jesse.” Heyes answered him. “It’s been real nice visiting with you folks again,” then he smiled, “and I know Thaddeus would like to stay a while longer, but we can’t stay in one spot too long you know that.”

“Yeah, I guess I do.” Jesse admitted. “It must be real hard on you fellas having to stay on the move like that all the time. It must get lonely.”

Heyes nodded agreement. “Hmmm, yeah it does.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “We keep hoping that it won’t be for much longer, but, I don’t know Jesse.” He paused and sighed again. “It seems that each year just keeps flowing into the next and we don’t get any closer to the amnesty. It feels like the Governor is just playing games with us.”

“What else can you do?”

Heyes shrugged. “I donno. Just keep trying I guess. We do have friends with some clout who are putting pressure on the powers that be but in the mean time, every day is a risk. Every day without the amnesty is one more day that could be our last. We could end up in prison for twenty years—or worse.” Then he smiled ruefully. “If there is anything worse than twenty years in prison.”

Jesse knitted his brow and then leaned across the table towards Heyes as though getting in closer proximity to the young man would give his words more impact.

“Listen to me Joshua.” He said. “At least in prison you still have life, and as long as you have life there is hope. You just said yourself that there are people out here who care about you and Thaddeus and who know about the deal the Governor made with you. We will not just sit back and forget about you, do you understand? If you find yourself with a choice to make, do not chose death over prison. Do you hear me?”

Heyes felt a chill go through him. He suddenly felt like a small child again being reprimanded by his father for some misdeed.or selfish word, and yet at the same time his respect and affection for this older man grew ten fold. He swallowed down his emotion and smiled a little shamefacedly

“Yeah Jesse, I hear you. Thanks.”

“Good. Now would you like a shot of whiskey in your next cup of coffee?”


Out in the barn, Bridget had just walked in to the dusty structure with the tray of food.
She could hear Sam in the feed room stacking up the sacks of grain so she set the tray of food down on one of the hay bales then promptly sat down beside it and waited for Sam to finish what he was doing. The three dogs, instantly picking up the scent of food were suddenly all attentive, the two smaller ones, Peanut and Pebbles even went so far as to jump up on the hay bale beside their young mistress and did their best to look cute.
Then Sam came out of the feed room. He had taken his shirt off and was sweating with the exertion. He saw Bridget sitting there and was suddenly quite embarrassed.

“Oh! Miss Bridget.” He stammered, and quickly moved over to where he had hung his shirt and pulled it on over his head.
Bridget smiled shyly, but in reality she rather enjoyed the view and was sorry he had been so quick to cover it up.

“Momma thought you would be hungry by now so she asked me to bring this out to you.”

“Oh, yeah.” Sam answered and then smiled a little nervously. “Your Momma’s a fine woman and I sure am hungry. Thank you.” And he picked up the tray and looked around for another bale to sit on and eat. The dogs’ attentions followed the food.

Sam spied another bale close at hand and promptly sat down and began to eat. He broke up the biscuit, sopped it in some of the gravy and threw each dog a dripping piece relevant to their sizes.

“Well it’s no wonder the dogs are so fond of you if you keep throwing them table scarps.” Bridget observed. “You’re going to make them fat. And Poppa says you let them sleep in the bunk house with you too! You’re spoiling them.”

“Well it’s still cold out at night and they don’t have much fur on to stay warm, especially the two little ones. And a few treats here and there won’t hurt them.” Sam countered. “Besides, with all the running around they do here there’s not much chance of them getting fat!”

“Well, I certainly noticed the hard work is good for you.” Bridget mumbled coyly. But Sam still heard what she said and smiled with pleasure. She sure was pretty.

He took another mouthful of food and started chewing, looking down at his plate. He felt the need to say something to her but did not know how to start. Finally, he just—started.

“Are those two fellas going to be here much longer?” He asked.

Bridget frowned. “No.” She answered, sounding quite disappointed. “I think they’re going to be leaving in the morning.”

“Oh.” That certainly got Sam’s attention. “Do you think they will be coming back again?”

Bridget brightened up. “Oh yes!” She answered with a smile. “Joshua said he was going to introduce me to a detective he knows at Bannerman’s in Denver!”

Sam looked puzzled “He knows a detective at Bannerman’s?”

“Yes! Isn’t that wonderful?” Bridget was all excited. “Then I’ll be able to go right inside the agency and see how it all works, maybe even get a job there or something! Wouldn’t that be a great opportunity?”

Sam wasn’t smiling, things were not going to plan at all.

“Maybe it’s not my place to say.” Sam said cautiously. “But I think you should be a little more careful around those two.”

Now Bridget wasn’t smiling.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I saw Mr. Smith giving you a hug out there this afternoon and I just don’t think it was very appropriate is all.”

Bridget was instantly on her feet.

“Well you are definitely right about one thing!” She snapped at him, all rage and indignation. “It is certainly not your place to say! We’ve known Joshua and Thaddeus for years and I would trust either one of them with my life!”

Then with a huff she stomped out of the barn and back up to the house.

The dogs were feeling uneasy with the changed atmosphere and when Bridget left they were torn between going to support their mistress or staying where the food was. Peanut and Pebbles decided to keep their eyes on the gravy. Rufus, being older and wiser and not inclined to eat much anyways got up and padded after his distressed human.
Sam’s shoulders slumped as he continued to eat his supper.
He sure had messed that up.


Bridget came storming into the house just as Belle and Thaddeus were sitting down to relax with their own coffees and it became apparent that the drama of the evening was not over yet.

“I hate men!!” She was fuming as she headed for the staircase which would take her up to her room. “Men are so stupid—every single one of them! I’m never going to get married!”

The ranting along these lines continued as she stomped up the stairs, totally oblivious to the fact that JJ’s nursery was right under the staircase, and her stomping up it was echoing loudly in his room. Within seconds of Bridget entering the house Jay was once again screaming at the top of his lungs and Beth came bursting out of the nursery a picture of anger and frustration.

“Thanks a lot Bridget!” She yelled up the stairs “I just finally got him to sleep and then you go and wake him up! The only stupid one here is you!!”

Jesse and Belle both sighed and pushed themselves away from the table.

“Here we go again.” Said Jesse. “Girls! Settle down! What in the world started this off?”

But Beth was already up the stairs after her sister and the loud quarreling between the two of them reverberated throughout the household. Rufus had stopped at the front door knowing, and perhaps grateful that he wasn’t allowed inside. He turned and headed towards his favorite spot on the porch to lay down and soak up the last of the evening sunshine.

Belle was on her feet and, turning her back on her cup of coffee hurried into the nursery to work her magic on the youngest member of the Jordan family.

“Oh my goodness.” Jesse mumbled as he stood up and started to head for the stairs. “Welcome to family life boys.”

Heyes and Kid sat at the table nursing their coffees and listening to the sounds of battle emanating from various levels of the ranch house.

“Heyes.”

“Hmm?”

“I’m beginning to think it’s a good thing that we’re leaving in the morning.”

Heyes smiled and nodded agreement.


The next morning, Heyes and Kid were still in the room they had been sharing for the last couple of nights. It was a large airy room with a double bed and windows that opened out onto the pasture where their horses had been turned out during the day It was on the main floor, right next to the day nursery, but fortunately for our boys, Belle always took little Jay upstairs to their own room for the nights.
The fellas were busy packing up their saddle bags in preparation for leaving but Curry was dragging his heels and Heyes felt the need to nudge him a little or they would never get on the road.

“Come on Kid, you knew we couldn’t stay for long.”

“Yeah, I know Heyes, but its gonna be real hard having to eat your cooking again after Belle’s fine suppers.” Curry admitted as he punched an innocent pair of socks into his saddlebags.

Heyes smiled and nodded in silent agreement.

“What do you think Heyes?” Kid asked, changing the subject. ”Are we going to get in touch with Harry and ask him about Bridget?”

“I suppose.” Heyes answered. “I tried to talk Bridget out of it again, but she’s adamant that it’s what she wants. Maybe the best thing to do is just to let her see first hand what it’s all about.” Then he smiled. “And if anyone can deter anyone from becoming a detective, Harry can.”

Curry laughed.

“Heyes, has anyone ever told you, you have a devious mind?”

“Yeah Kid, I believe you have on a number of occasions.”

A quick survey of the room convinced them that they had everything and then they headed out to the porch. Once arriving there however it looked as though Curry may be getting his wish. Jesse and Sam were standing at the foot of the steps in quiet conversation and then Jesse noticing the boys coming out turned to Curry apologetically.

“Thaddeus, I’m sorry, but when Sam went into the stable to saddle up your horses he noticed that your gelding was lame. Maybe you should go in there and take a look at him.”

“Oh yeah thanks Jesse, I will.”

A few minutes later, inside the barn Kid was squatted down beside Buck’s off fore leg and feeling the swelling that was quite apparent in the tendons.

“I’ll say he’s lame.” Curry mumbled. “A lot of heat in there.” Then he straightened up with a sigh and gave Buck a pat on the neck. “He must have strained it running around out in the pasture.”

“I could always loan you one of our riding horses Thaddeus.” Jesse offered. “You boys expect to be back this way in a month or two anyways, you could always pick him up again then.”

Curry appreciated the offer, but didn’t feel right about leaving his trusted Buck behind. If he and Heyes got into a tight pinch he needed a horse under him that he knew and who knew him, his very life could depend upon it.

Heyes could see and understand his partner’s hesitation.

“How long do you think it’ll need to heal?” He asked Jesse.

“Well, it’s hard to say.” Jesse answered. “It depends on how bad the sprain is, it could take up to a couple of weeks.”

Both men groaned, knowing that they couldn’t hold off leaving for that long. Sam saw his opportunity slipping away. He had to keep these men here!

“Oh it shouldn’t take that long Mr. Jordan.” Sam ventured. “If we keep him quiet in a stall, and if I can get some ice from the icebox to wrap around that leg I’m sure I could have the swelling down in two to three days.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look.

“Well, what do you think Joshua?”

Heyes hesitated. He knew Kid didn’t want to leave Buck behind, just as he wouldn’t want to leave Karma but he was getting antsy and wanted to be on the move again. He was just about to diplomatically suggest that Kid take Jesse up on the offer of a borrowed horse when a voice from the barn door stopped him.

“Oh please stay.” It was Beth. “What harm could a couple of more days do?”

Heyes and Kid exchanged looks again. Oh boy. Jesse smiled at them.

“You know you’re welcome to stay boys.” He said. “And if you get really bored I can always put you work.”

They laughed.

“Alright.” Agreed Heyes conceding defeat. “I suppose a couple of more days won’t kill us.” Then he gave Kid a serious look. “But then we have to go, whether Buck’s better or not. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” Curry answered with a relieved smile. He gave Buck another affectionate pat on the neck and looked over at Sam. “You sure you can get that swelling down in a couple of days?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Jones.” Sam answered with a relieved smile of his own. “I’m positive.”
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Keays

Keays

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

Chapter 2  Opportunities  Part one Empty
PostSubject: Opportunities Part two   Chapter 2  Opportunities  Part one EmptyThu Sep 05, 2013 4:45 pm

Opportunities Part two.


As is so often the case, the day for Curry and Heyes turned out to be quite different than what they had intended when they got up that morning.

Jesse and Beth had gone into town together in the single horse dogcart, him to teach and her to learn—hopefully. Beth had put forth a brilliant argument that since their guests were going to be staying on a few more days, and who knew when they would all get together again, that it would make sense for her to stay home from school to help entertain. It had been a good effort and both her parents were impressed with the amount of thought that had gone into it, never the less, a disappointed Beth still ended up accompanying her father to school.

Belle and Bridget were busy with the daily household chores so Heyes and the Kid were left to their own devises to keep occupied throughout the day. This did not prove to be difficult. Curry was concerned about Buck’s welfare, and when he spied Sam packing ice from behind the house to inside the barn he made haste to go join him.

Inside the stall, Curry held on to Buck’s head, petting him and scratching him behind the ears which was a treat the big gelding particularly enjoyed while Sam did his best to wrap an ice filled burlap sack around the swollen tendon. Buck was not too pleased with this treatment and tossed his head and tried to pull away on more than one occasion.


“Whoa, easy old friend.” Kid would sooth him and continue to stroke his neck. “I know it’s not too pleasant, but it’ll feel better soon.”

“You’re really fond of this horse aren’t you?” Asked Sam from his position on the floor.

“You better believe it.” Curry answered. “This old boy and I have been through a lot together. Wouldn’t want to trade him in for nothing.”

“That’s good to have that.” Said Sam. “I notice your partner is awful fond of that mare too.”

Curry rolled his eyes as he often tended to do when Karma-Lou was mentioned and he glanced over at the mare as she was standing in her stall across the isle. Karma, who always seemed to know when she was being referred to and was in no doubt that the comments made were all complimentary pricked her ears and gave the two men her best countenance.

“I swear I can’t understand why.” Curry admitted. “That mare can be a real headache sometimes, even when she’s not in season!”

Sam smiled as he continued to massage the ice around Buck’s tendon.

“Yeah.” He agreed. “Mares can be like that sometimes. Me, I like dogs. Always have. I miss having my own dog.”

“Yeah?” Answered Kid. “Did you have a dog as a kid, growing up?”

“Sure did. Best friend a boy could ever have.”

Both men glanced out of the open stall door at the three dogs stretched out in the isle, overseeing the operation.

“Yeah, me too.” Curry mumbled, suddenly going back in time.

“Where did you grow up Mr. Jones? Around here somewhere’s?”

“Oh no.” Curry answered, jolted back to the present. “Josh and I both grew up in Kansas.”

“Really?” Said Sam, fringing surprise. “What brought you out this way?”

“Oh well, lots of things.” Answered Curry, stroking Buck’s forehead. There was something about standing in the stall spending time with his horse that made Curry relax, perhaps a little too much. “We both lost our folks in the Border Wars and then just started drifting and taking odd jobs until we found ourselves out here.”

“Oh.” Said Sam. “That’s a shame. About your folks I mean. I lost my Pa when I was quite young too. But I still had my Ma and we did alright.”

“Where do you call home Sam?”

“Wyoming.”

A slight chill went through Kid, but he pushed it down and ignored it. He was sure that it was just the mention of that name that sent his nerves to tingling. Besides, many people were from Wyoming, he was sure it didn’t mean anything. Still, he thought perhaps it might be best to change the subject.

“So, I hear you have a girlfriend in town.”

Sam smiled. “Yeah. Maribelle. She’s real pretty too. I’m going to go in to see her this evening for supper.”

“Yeah? You sound like you’re kinda serious about her.”

“Yeah, I suppose I am. Why you askin'?”

“Well,” Began the Kid. “It’s just that I noticed you spending a lot of time talking to Bridget. It just seems to me that if you’re courting one gal, you shouldn’t be thinking of courting another one at the same time.”

Sam froze. Damn! Had he blown it? Having a girlfriend in town was a convenient cover and Maribelle was pleasant enough company but nothing more. He hadn’t even thought that showing interest in Bridget might compromise his integrity in the eyes of these men. Did Curry suspect something? This being in the barn, tending to the horse had made him too relaxed and he stopped thinking about what he was saying! Well now it was time to start thinking again! Get back on track.

He smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“Well it’s not like Maribelle and me are betrothed or anything.” Sam was thinking on his feet, so to speak. “You can’t blame a fella for looking around before he makes his final choice can you?”

“No, I don’t suppose so.” Curry had to admit.

Damn, he could remember being twenty-five and hopping from one bed into another without any thought or concern about the feelings of his various bedmates. He had just assumed they were all in it for the fun too, no harm done. Geesh, he thought with a twinge of guilt, here he was well into his thirty’s and he was still doing the same thing! But now all of a sudden he was looking at the equation from the other side of the bed. This time it was Bridget who stood the chance of getting her feelings hurt.

Curry had a hard time digesting this new revelation. He had always felt the pull to protect a lady who was in need of a helping hand but it never occurred to him that they might need protecting from him! He felt an unreasonable desire to grab Sam by the scruff of the neck and shake some decency into him, but then, he mused, maybe it was himself he needed to slap some sense into instead. Oh this line of thought was getting him nowhere.

“I just don’t want to see Bridget get hurt is all.”

Sam looked up at him, suddenly all serious.

“No Mr. Jones. Neither do I.”

It was at this point that Heyes showed up at the barn door.

“Hey Thad, come outside. I want to talk to you a minute.”

“Oh yeah. Hang on a minute.”

“No, that’s alright Mr. Jones.” Sam told him. “I think that’s enough of a cold pack for now. I’ll come back and do it again after lunch. In the mean time I got chores to get to and Mr. Jordan wants me to take that stallion up to the south range to turn him out with the broodmares, so you’re good to go.”

“Alright Sam. Thanks for your help.” Curry answered as he removed Buck’s halter and then went to join his partner out in the sunshine.

“Joshua, what’s up?”

“Nothing really.” Heyes answered casually. “I was just thinking, since Buck is laid up and all that I just might ride on in to Brookswood on my own and send that telegram to Harry.”

“Yeah, okay. You want me to borrow one of the horses here and come with you?”

“No, that’s okay Kid.” Heyes said quietly. “To be quite honest I’m just feeling all pent up and restless. I just need to get out and blow off some of the cobwebs. You know how I get when we’re hole up in one place for too long and there’s no poker.”

Curry grinned

“Yeah, I know Heyes.” He agreed. “You go ahead. I got enough to do here with Buck and I’ll probably help Sam get caught up on his chores since its cause of my horse he’s gotten behind. Besides, I think Karma-Lou could do with a stretch of the legs too. She was getting kinda restless in there.”

“Okay, see you in a couple of hours. Stay out of trouble.”

“Yeah ,yeah.”

Then Heyes disappeared into the barn to saddle up his horse.



Half an hour later Heyes had left the main road into town and was flying at a full gallop across open country. Karma was feeling her oats and wanted to run so as soon as Heyes and turned her head towards freedom she had let loose with a small squeal of pleasure, gave Heyes a little buck just for the fun of it and then lit out full speed ahead for parts wherever.

After three years of riding this mare Heyes had never gotten over the thrill of her full out gallop. He was relieved that Kid hadn’t pressed coming with him as he had really felt the need of some time alone—a telegram to Harry being just a convenient excuse. Now all the restlessness and worry that had been building up inside of him just slipped away and he laughed into the full force of the wind.

Karma heard him laugh and snorted and flung her head in response. She loved it when her human let her go like this, just the two of them flying over the countryside together. Not to misunderstand her, she had become quite fond of Buck over the years and many a time it was his steadying presence that had helped to calm her nerves when unexpected things happened and they did seem to happen a lot in this new life of hers. But there were times when she found his patient understanding towards her and to all things around him just downright boring. Both man and horse had been in need of an adrenaline rush.

Eventually, as Heyes felt Karma start to slow down on her own accord, he settled back into the saddle and slowly brought her down to an easy lope, then a trot and finally to a nice walk. Karma mouthed the bit a couple of times, then set out on a loose rein at a comfortable swinging gait, looking around and taking in the scenery. Heyes had no idea where they were in relationship to the ranch, but that didn’t matter right now. He got his bearings and casually made his way in the general direction of town thinking that he should at least send the telegram, since that was his excuse for leaving the ranch in the first place.

Heyes was still worried, no doubt about it, but not the pent up stressful worry that had been building in him that morning. He hoped that by coming out here, just him and Karma that he could clear his mind and perhaps settle some of the nagging questions that had been taking hold.

Watching Kid that first day with the Jordan’s when he was holding their new son had affected Heyes more than he had realized at the time. It had re-arisen in him some of the doubts that had settled onto him soon after they had applied for the amnesty and, until now he had just pushed back out of the way and hoped they would simply disappear. No such luck.

That big question of what were they going to do with their lives if and when the amnesty came through? On the rare occasions when the subject would come up between them Curry would just laugh about it and proceed to list off a series of the most ridiculous and unlikely professions that two single men in their mid-thirty’s would ever consider doing.

But Heyes knew, first and foremost, that Curry wanted a family. He wanted to put down roots, have a home and a life he could call his own, and coming to visit the Jordan’s had brought that yearning to the surface again. Over the last few days Kid had snatched moments here and there to help with the care of JJ, assisting whoever with the bathing and the dressing. Playing with him when he was awake and rocking him to sleep when playtime was over. And always, he looked happy doing it, content even, and Heyes would worry.

Heyes didn’t think he could settle into that kind of life. He was hopeful, that one day he would find a woman who could put up with him well enough to consent to marry him, but children? A family life? He wasn’t so sure about that. He was consumed by a restlessness that he could not understand. Oh, he grew tired of the fugitive life for sure, always sleeping with one eye open, never knowing when a peaceful morning was going to blow up in his face, but two or three days in one place and he needed to get going again.

The only thing that seemed to calm him enough to stay put for a longer period was a good book or a good poker game because then his mind was kept busy. Sometimes he felt it was his mind that was his biggest enemy. Sure his ego loved it when he could out maneuver a posse or effortlessly rule over a poker game just for the fun of it. His flashes of genius that would dazzle everyone around him into awed submission were like candy to his psyche. It was like an addiction that he needed to keep feeding in order to feel alive, to feel that he was actually worth something. Without his incredible mind he was no different from any other worn out ex-outlaw with nothing to show and nothing to offer.

But he couldn’t turn the damn thing off! Constant impulses of information bombarding his senses, twisting and turning into schemes and plans and what if’s and why not’s. He’d learned how to settle his mind down to some degree at night so that usually he could at least sleep, but even that wasn’t a guarantee. How did Kid do it? Even in the middle of the day he could stretch out anywhere, pull his hat over his eyes and be asleep in minutes! And there would be Heyes up and pacing. Pace, pace pace. It drove Heyes nuts.

It seemed that the only way he could relax at all was to keep moving or to keep his mind focused and calculating on something. So far, Kid had been happy to just follow along whenever Heyes got restless and had to hit the trail again, but what if Kid got married and settled down? Would that be the end of their partnership, their friendship? Heyes’ throat involuntarily tightened at the thought. Could he go on? Could he face a life without Jed by his side? He needed Jed’s calming influence, his quiet down to earth common sense, just as Karma had come to depend on Buck’s steadying support in times of stress.

The possibility of Curry moving into another life, a life that Heyes could not emulate scared him more than death itself. So he simply chose not to think about it. Until they were sitting around the lunch table with the Jordan’s and Curry was sitting there holding a infant in his arms with a smile on his face that lit up the room.

Heyes was stressing himself out again. No questions answered, no doubts relieved. So again, he pushed these thoughts out of his mind and decided to just enjoy his day out with his favorite girl. He pushed Karma up into an easy lope as they headed towards the town. Maybe he’d even be able to find a poker game.


Curry watched his partner lope off up the road with a sense of relief. He could feel the stress in Heyes building, something was bugging him and Curry couldn’t for the life of him figure out what it was. Maybe some time on his own and the distraction of a good poker game would help Heyes sort out whatever it was that had him so worried. But Hannibal was just so “high octane.” It was no wonder the man was so skinny, he burned calories in his sleep!

Still, Curry did feel a tad guilty about the forced delay, not because he felt it was his fault really, but that he was secretly glad for it. He was sorry his horse was in pain, of course, but not sorry for some more time with the Jordans'.

He had surprised even himself with how much he was enjoying being here, to feel part of a family again, and to take part in the functioning of that family. And admittedly, the talk with Sam earlier about where they had grown up etc. had stirred some deeply buried memories and longings. Things that Curry usually didn’t want to think about and yet now, and in this place those thoughts had bubbled to the surface and weren’t going away any time soon.

Curry had to admit that he was getting tired. Tired of life on the run. Five years now, and still no sign of the amnesty coming their way. Just how long were they suppose to carry on like this? It wasn’t so bad when they had money and could stay in a decent hotel and actually sleep in a bed—two beds if possible! But being out in the elements, sleeping on the ground in all kinds of weather. Geesh, they’d both gotten sick doing that and as they got older, the more often it was going to happen until one time, maybe one of them just wouldn’t recover like he had before. Curry didn’t like being sick, and dagnabbit he just seemed to have a predisposition towards phenomena that he was none too comfortable with. Winters on the run were getting harder and harder to face.

Finally Curry sighed and ran his fingers through his curls. For the second time that morning he found himself caught up in a train of thought that was getting him absolutely nowhere. He went back into the barn to see if Sam needed help with the chores.

The rest of the day went by quickly, but uneventfully. Curry iced Buck’s leg a couple of more times throughout the afternoon and Kid was quite pleased with the progress Another day of rest and ice should bring the tendon back down to normal and then they could be off and gone.

Bridget had come out to the barn around noon with sandwiches and lemonade for both men. She smiled sweetly at Thaddeus and asked him how Buck was doing and if they were almost done chores etc., but she hardly glanced at Sam. Curry smiled to himself at how uncomfortable Sam was looking. Apparently their little tiff of the night before had not been forgotten.

Shortly after that Sam saddled up one of the riding horses and took JohnnyBoy out towards the open range. It wouldn’t take too long since all Sam had to do was get the stallion within reasonable range of the herd, point him in the right direction and turn him loose. Instinct and desire would lead that stud right to his mares without any further assistance from Sam.


By late afternoon Jesse and Beth had returned home from their day of education and Sam had completed the final chore of the day by cooling out and bedding down their harness horse before scurrying off towards town himself for his anticipated rendezvous.

Curry got himself cleaned up and had settled in to join the family around the large table for supper
Belle entered the room with the pot of stew and of course noticed that one place was still empty.

“Where’s Joshua?” She asked suddenly quite concerned.

“Oh he went into town to send a telegram to that detective friend of ours.” Curry answered her as he passed the fresh buns around to the ladies and Bridget smiled with anticipation of what the answer to it might be.

“Well I know that Thaddeus.” Belle said. “But that was this morning, he should have been back ages ago.”

“Oh well, I wouldn’t worry too much about him ma’am.” Belle flashed him a look. “I mean Belle. If he’s found himself a good poker game he may not be back till morning.”

“Really?” She asked. “He doesn’t stay up all night does he?”

“Yup. He’s been known to do so.”

“Well, he’ll definitely be hungry when he gets back then. I’ll save him some supper, or breakfast as the case may be.”

“Is Joshua really that good at poker?” Jesse asked. “I hear it is a very difficult game to master.”

“Yeah, it is a difficult game.” Curry agreed. “And there are an awful lot of bad players around who refuse to acknowledge that. I’m not too bad a player, but Joshua, now he is a natural. He just has a way of reading people and of keeping track of all the cards. Once the deck has been dealt out he never forgets the order of them and he knows what players should have what hands.” Curry smiled in admiration of his partner’s abilities. “It’s a real amazing thing to watch.”

Belle smiled, remembering a similar conversation she’d had with Joshua while they were out on the front porch watching Curry practice his fast draw.

“Isn’t it a rather dangerous pastime though,” Asked Jesse. “It doesn’t happen here in Brookswood too often, but we do sometimes hear of some of these games getting a bit out of control at times.”

“Yeah, it can.” Curry agreed. “There are too many sore losers who would rather accuse the winning player of being a cheat rather than just admit that they were beat fair and square. But Joshua is too good a player, he don’t have to cheat.”

“How does that help Joshua if somebody accuses him of cheating?” Asked Bridget, suddenly all concerned. “Couldn’t he get into trouble?”

“Well, usually I’m there to watch his back.” Curry confessed. “I know I’m not there tonight, but like you just said Jesse, there’s usually not too much trouble in Brookswood.”

“No, not usually.” Jesse agreed. “I would hardly think the small games we have here would interest Joshua that much. If he’s that good a player.”

“Joshua uses poker to relax just as much as he uses it for income.”

“Income?” Questioned Belle. “Rather risky way of earning your income isn’t it?”

Curry smiled. “Not for Joshua.” He stated. “His skill at the poker table has put food in our bellies and a pillow under our heads more times than I care to keep tally of. He’s just that good.”

Jesse and Belle exchanged glances. It still seemed rather risky to them.

“Do you think you could teach me to play poker Thaddeus?” Beth suddenly asked out of the blue.

This query was instantly met with an onslaught of negative responses from each adult present.

“Don’t you even think it young lady!”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Over my dead body.”

“Well, I just thought because I was so good a numbers…”Beth mumbled.

Bridget snickered into her stew and received a scathing look from her younger sister.


After supper Jesse and Kid were sitting out on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee when both Heyes and Sam returned from their entertainment in town. They rode up to the barn where the saddle and harness horses were kept and dismounted, each apparently pleased with the outcomes of their endeavors. Sam offered to take both horses in to feed and bed down and so Heyes came over to join the two men on the porch.

“Sam’s a pretty helpful young fella.” Heyes commented as he pulled a chair over to sit beside Jesse. “He’s a good hand with a horse anyway.”

“Yes he is.” Jesse agreed. “I think he’ll make a fine foreman on a large spread some day. Once he gets some more experience under his belt.”

“So, how did it go?” Kid asked “Did you send the telegram?”

“Oh yeah.” Answered Heyes, all smiles and good humour. “Didn’t receive an answer yet, but we can check again before we leave.”

Heyes pulled off his hat and ran his hands through his hair, pushing it back off his forehead. A slight frown flashed across Jesse's face when, for the first time, he noticed the white scar just below Heyes’ hairline. It was a solid scar, made by a deep bullet graze and Jesse wondered why he had never noticed it before. Then he reasoned that it was well hidden beneath Heyes’ long bangs and could only be seen when he pushed his hair back that way.

It’s odd how you can know something, but not really acknowledge it until it slaps you in the face, Jesse mused. Of course he was aware that these two young men were Hannibal Heyes and Jed Curry, but he had never really considered the dangerous lives they must have led, and were still leading. No wonder they were so cautious all the time, and loath to stay in one spot for too long. Joshua was lucky that bullet hadn’t killed him.

Jesse was still trying to process this new realization when Belle came out onto the porch carrying two cups of coffee.

“There you are Joshua” She said. “I thought I heard your voice out here. I brought you a cup of coffee.”

“Oh, thank you.” Said Heyes, and quickly got up to offer Belle his chair which she gladly accepted. Heyes dragged another one over and once seated, took the proffered beverage and took a moment to savor it’s aroma before indulging in a sip.

“There’s some supper for you in the kitchen if you would like something” Belle told him.

“Oh, yes.”Heyes smiled broadly “I will thank you. Just give me a minute to unwind.”

“You’re back early.” Commented Jesse. “Thaddeus here gave us to believe that you could be gone for the night.”

Heyes sent a smile over to the Kid “Did he?”

“Well, I know what you’re like when you get into a poker game Heyes.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” Heyes admitted.

“None to your liking this evening Joshua?” Asked Belle.

“Oh, to the contrary.” Answered Heyes, still wound up with the thrill of the game. ”I think I did quite well.” And he sent another huge smile over to his cousin. “I guess I would still be there, but the poker shuts down kinda early here and then, what do you know? I ran into Sam as he was coming out of the telegraph office so we decided to head on back here together.”

“Well that was fortuitous.” Commented Belle, though she fleetingly wondered who Sam would be sending a telegram to.

Then the two girls, having finished with the cleaning up came out to join the group on the porch. Heyes and the Kid instantly surrendered their chairs to the ladies and found comfortable perches on the porch railings or against the post.

“All sounds quiet in there Beth.” Belle observed. “Did you have more success with J.J. this evening?”

“Yes,” Beth beamed, and smiled over at Thaddeus. “I think I might be getting the hang of looking after babies.”

Heyes and Kid exchanged quick smiles, even they knew it wasn’t that easy.

“Did you get a telegram back from your friend Joshua?” Asked Bridget all eager for some news.

“No, not yet.” Heyes answered, but seeing her disappointment, quickly continued. “But that’s not too surprising. He’s probably out on some assignment or something. He knows how to get in touch with us. Don’t worry Bridget, I’ll set something up for you if I can.”

It was Bridget’s turn to beam.

Over at the barn, Sam stood in the doorway in the fading evening light, watching the group of people over on the porch and listening to the light banter and laughter coming from their direction.

He just couldn’t understand it. How could these good people be on such friendly terms with those outlaws? Didn’t they understand what those men were capable of, and indeed, the numerous crimes that they had already committed?

Riding back from town in the company of that slick con man, Sam had to muster all his self control to simply not draw his gun on the man and arrest him then and there. Heyes had been so elated, so sickeningly pleased with himself over card-sharping the hard working citizens of the town out of their week’s wages. Sam had been infuriated and it was all Sam could do to smile and laugh along with the outlaw, pretending to be happy for him. Sam felt frustrated at having to hold off and to have to stand there and listen to young Bridget laugh and talk with him as though he were actually entitled to her admiration.

But if there was one thing his father had taught him, it’s the importance of sticking to a plan. If you are a member of a group, and a junior member at that you did what you were told and you stuck to the plan. Well, that’s what Sam was doing to the best of his ability. He knew that Sheriff Morrison was getting everything in order, that all the paperwork and red tape would be taken care of and out of the way so that nothing would hinder bringing those to highwaymen to justice once they were arrested.

The trap was being set and Sam Jefferies was determined that he was going to be there to see it sprung.


Next morning, Curry was up bright and early and was dressed and just strapping on his gun belt when Heyes rolled over, stretched and peeked at his partner through sleep heavy eyes.

“Wha ya do’n?” He mumbled. “is early.”

“Yeah I know Heyes.” Curry replied. “Go back to sleep. I just want to check on Buck and see how the swelling is. If he’s looking good maybe we can head out this morning.”

“Hmmmm…” Heyes pulled the blanket over his head and rolled over again, fully intending on taking his partner’s advice.

Out in the kitchen Belle was already up and putting the coffee on.

“Well you’re up early.” She commented. “Breakfast will be a while, but the coffee will be ready soon.”

Curry smiled. “Sounds fine Belle. I won’t be long I just want to check on Buck.” And with that he stepped out into the crisp sunny morning and made his way over to the outhouse first, and then into the barn.

Upon opening the door he was met with numerous nickerings and stamping of feet and every horse head in the place turned towards him in anticipation. He must be early he mused, getting out here even before Sam for the morning feeding. So Curry went into the feed room first, piled up eight flakes of hay into the wheelbarrow and headed down the isle, dumping a flake into each stall. Everyone seemed content with that and instantly the barn was filled with the sounds of happy munching and contented snorting.

Curry replaced the wheelbarrow and then went into Buck’s stall to see how things were going.

He gave the big gelding a pat and a scratch on the neck “How you doing this morning old friend?” He asked him.

Buck snorted an acknowledgment but continued to munch. Curry knelt down by his leg and ran his hands down the tendon and then sighed in disappointment. The tendon was much improved, but there was still some heat and swelling in there so he knew they wouldn’t be going anywhere that day. Again.

“How’s he doing?”

Curry just about jumped out of his skin. And then Buck jumped in reaction to his human jumping, but then settled back to his hay again as Curry straightened and turned on his partner.

“Geesh Heyes! You should know better than to sneak up on me like that!”

“Oh, sorry.” Heyes responded with smile that suggested he wasn’t sorry at all.

Heyes'd had every intention of going back to sleep, but sounds of the household beginning to stir, and the aroma of coffee beginning to brew had succeeded in dragging him out of bed. His activities of the day before, though exhilarating at the time had left him burned out and exhausted and morning had come much too early for his liking. He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment in his long johns and undershirt and then yawned and stretched again and tried to rub the sleepiness out of his eyes. Oh well, nothing for it, he was up now.

For decency’s sake he pulled on his trousers, then his socks and boots and then headed out of the room. He said good morning to Belle as he headed for the front door, and she smiled at him over her first cup of coffee, thinking he looked like something the cat had dragged in—if cats were allowed in the house. She would take some coffee out to them in the barn if they didn’t come back in soon.

Like his partner before him, Heyes headed into the outhouse first and then made his way over to the barn. The coolness in the spring air helped to wake him up and he kind of regretted not pulling his shirt on over his undergarment. Oh well, they probably wouldn’t be outside for long anyways.

“So, is he fit to ride today?”

“Naw.” Curry answered. “It’s getting better, but it’s still swollen.”

Then Curry pulled out his revolver and began checking the chamber.

“Well, I really don’t think there’s any call to shoot him.” Heyes commented

“Ha ha, Heyes.” Curry answered sardonically. “I just thought I might get in a little target practice before breakfast is all.”

“Oh.” Heyes didn’t look too pleased with that. “Can’t that wait until after breakfast Kid? I don’t think my head could stand it before nourishment .”

Curry slipped his gun back into its holster and sent his partner a reprimanding look.

“Well who’s fault is that Heyes? Just how much did you drink yesterday?”

“I know, I know.” Heyes grumbled, still looking a bit bleary eyed. “It’s nothing that ten or twelve cups of coffee won’t cure.”

“Come on, let’s go get some food into you.” Curry suggested as he walked past Heyes towards the door of the barn.

Heyes smiled sheepishly. Then he hurried to catch up with the Kid and put a hand on his shoulder as they stepped out into the sunlight.

“Geesh Kid, you’re usually the one who’s gotta eat first.”

“Huh hu.”

And then the rifle shot shattered the early morning silence.


TO BE CONTINUED. (sorry)
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