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 Harry Briscoe Rides Again ... 7,800 words

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Cal

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PostSubject: Harry Briscoe Rides Again ... 7,800 words   Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:47 am

This is pure slapstick ... I've always loved a Harry episode ...Calx

---ooooooOoooooo---

Harry Briscoe Rides Again
by Cal

---ooooooOoooooo---


A small cell in the backroom of a hick town jailhouse

"I really want to build me a cabin Heyes.” Kid had a faraway glint in his eyes.  "Out in the woods, by a good fishing lake, couple of corrals for horses..."

"These would be those rare tree climbing horses?" Heyes was feeling proddy, the small cell left no room for pacing.

Curry frowned, confused. 

"Well you’re in the woods Kid, not good horse country..."

"Couple of acres a good grazing,” continued the blond ex outlaw. "You know, break new ground like our daddies would a done..." He closes those oh so blue eyes, "I'd start with just two rooms but I'd get to a loft and add a few more rooms later."

"Yeah well you'd have a lot a timber hanging around — being as how you had to clear so many acres of trees to get land for grazing horses!"

Heyes looks across at the dreamer on the next cot, annoyed that his partner could close his eyes and escape so easily. "Hey, Daniel Boone, did you give any thought to how we're going to get outta here?"

Kid opened his eyes and blew out his cheeks, shaking his blond curls. Heyes wasn't going to quit riding him till he gave the dimpled one some attention.  He looked over to his older cousin.  Heyes couldn't just lay back and relax anywhere like he could.  Heyes had to keep that big brain of his occupied.  

Kid knew what was eating him.

"You’re just bored ‘cause you know you've already got this covered Heyes.  They didn't get all your lock picks.  This town barely big enough to have a jail and that old windbag of a sheriff ain’t got a deputy to cover the nights.  We're leaving after dark right?  Till then, just try think of something to do. I don't know count bricks or something. Me — I’m building me a cabin...in the woods..." The floppy brown hat plopped into place as Kid lay back.

Heyes mouthed, “…By a good fishing lake,” wagging his head back and forth and shooting a dirty look at the top of said hat. He looked around the tiny cell. Three walls were brick, a small window in one, one wall was bars. Twenty bricks in a row, more counting up, less the window — NO!  Heyes glared at his partner. Why did he have to put that stupid idea in his head? Heyes growled, shaking his head as though that might loosen the thought.

Kid's face split into a broad grin under his hat as he silently chuckled.


---ooooooOoooooo---


The old wind bag of a sheriff opened the door between his office and the cell, just the one cell that is, a tiny one, remember.


"Looks like you'll have to double up on those bunks boys, got me another crook to lock up, his one’s a real doozy, he can talk nearly as much as you Heyes, and he ain't been too friendly neither, insisting he's a Bannerman agent, I wasn't born yesterday, as if Bannerman would let his agents walk around looking like that and going around cheating at cards..."


The sheriff hadn't drawn breath but he's managed to pull the disheveled weaselly looking man, sporting two empty holsters over a dusty grey suit, into the room and had the door to the cell unlocked. He pushed the reluctant one into the small gap between the bunks.


"I'll have to waste good tax dollars on a telegram to Bannerman detectives, ain't going to tell me nothing I don't already know, caught red handed darn fool, five pat hands from twenty-five cards, lord knows that can't be done, as if a Bannerman man would..."


The sheriff got the cell door closed and had crossed the short distance to the adjoining door and had closed said door behind him. If you really wanted to you could still hear mumbled ranting through the door, but why would you want to?!


"Harry!" greeted the boys in unison. "Harry Briscoe."


"You were trying the five pat hands thing?" Curry is shaking his head like this was the stupidest thing he's ever heard of, like we'd never seen anyone else try that in desperation, right Kid? 


Heyes can't believe his luck. The brick counting thing is forgotten. He's got something much more interesting to keep him occupied. The dimples are set to full. The smile is reminiscent of a small boy relishing the thought of pulling the wings off a fly.


"Hello boys..." Harry looks extremely uncomfortable, his hands searching for the cigar he doesn't own.  "This is just a small misunderstanding.” Harry brushes down his suit causing dust to fly in the sitting ones faces and causing coughing fits.  


"Why don't you take a seat?” growls Curry, grabbing an arm forcing Harry to stop causing a dust storm and sit.


"Thank you,” winces Harry. "Don't mind if I do."  He pushes himself back so that he's sitting ram rod straight against the wall, legs pressed closely together, arms folded.  Heyes and Curry aren't sure if he isn't holding his breath.


“Relax Harry,” says Heyes, patting a knee heavily. "It's us. The ones that put you right with the agency the last time your larcenous streak got the better of you." Heyes' eyes are wide, his lips push together as though he's recalling happy times spent in Harry's company. "You're not going to tell us all that good faith we had in you was wasted, are you Harry?"


Harry looks like he's considering this as an option. His eyes close a little and open again independently. He smiles, but it’s a mean little smile that barely gets past his lips.


"You see boys, old Harry’s,” he paused as if searching for the right words before continuing, “well he's hit a few hard times, see. I decided to go freelance, work for myself for a while, put into practice all the skills I developed working for the agency but use them for myself.”


Heyes is enjoying Harry's discomfort as their rather annoying, if persistent, old friend is trying to put a good spin on his present circumstances.


"I did some investigating work for a top lawyer up in Carson county, but when my investigating didn’t throw up the result he was expectin…Well, he refused to pay me! Said I should try suing him for what he owed me! That I'd have a hard time proving he owed me anything as I hadn’t found out nothing he could use! And that was only if I could find a lawyer who’d take my case!"


Harry was getting louder and more high pitched with each statement.  The boys pulled back a bit like he was a powder keg about to blow.


"I’d worked for two weeks on that darn case and he owed me five hundred dollars!" squealed Harry.  


The boys looked as sympathetic as they could whilst not actually laughing. Heyes looked like he was holding in a lot of words but what he said was, "Harry if you'd have gone to the sheriff, the court would have had to appoint you a representative."


“No.” He paused. “No.” Paused again.  “You see,” he began, and stopped again. One more try.  “The case the lawyer had me working on, the one he didn't pay me for, well, that was involving the sheriffs,” he muttered.  “So, I couldn't tell the sheriff what I'd been doing. So, I couldn't go to the law about the law not paying me.” 


Harry looked delighted that he'd managed to explain that so clearly.


Curry looked baffled.


Heyes closed his eyes and shook his head. “Harry.” Another shake of the head. “So, you ran out of money. You had to leave town. You came here and you thought you'd try the five pat hands bet, but you couldn't cover your bet when you lost?"


"They didn't give me enough time...." started Harry.  


Heyes waved this aside, and looked his old friend in the face, "What do you want to do about it Harry?"


Harry looked confused, looking to Kid for help.  Kid just smiled.  Harry looked at the bars, then back to Heyes who was smiling smugly.  


The penny dropped.


"You mean; you can get us out of here?" Harry whispered.


"Does it snow in Wyoming in the winter? I’m Hannibal Heyes, its expected of me.  It would be rude to disappoint everyone." 


Heyes grins like the Cheshire cat.  


Harry looked to Curry for conformation.


Kid let a huge grin split his face slapping Harry on the back raising enough dust to set them all coughing again.




---ooooooOoooooo---


later that night


Harry is trying to behave in the way he's imagined desperados escape from jail. He's throwing himself into shadows, pointing both his guns in all directions.  At one point his arms are crossed covering both ends of the street whilst trying to walk in a low crouch.  


Curry, whose following Heyes to the horses looks back to see Harry falling behind, he sighs heavily and goes back to grab Harry's collar and pull him up. "Just get to the horses Harry quick and quiet,” he hisses in Harry's ear, pushing the detective to a march in front of him.


Heyes mounts.


Curry mounts.


They watch as Harry dances around on one foot, his getaway horse eager to get away. The boys share exasperated looks.  Eventually, Harry is seated, he adjusts the now holstered guns to a comfortable position, straightens his tie and pushes his hat more securely onto his head.


Heyes is incredulous.


Curry looks fit to explode.  


Harry waves with his arm in an after you gesture to show he's ready for his dash to freedom.


Kid shakes his head, turns his horses head to the trail and as he kicks his mount to the gallop he hollers, 


“Hah!"




---ooooooOoooooo---




After several hours’ flight


Heyes, Harry and Kid are hugging close to a small fire deep in a wood. Coffee has been brewed and now steams in the tin mugs in their hands.


Kid blows on his awhile then takes a sip. “Your coffee's good Harry." He sounds surprised, like he can't imagine Harry doing anything well.  Harry looks smug, acknowledging the compliment with a smart nod.  


Heyes looks annoyed by this exchange, he's taken it personally feeling Kid is really saying his coffee stinks.  "Good spot this for rearing rare horses,” he says looking about him. "Bet if we leveled say, this whole wood we could run quite a herd."


Curry's eyes close, shaking his head almost imperceptibly; his eyebrows say, ‘Very funny.’  


Harry is trying to work out if this is another brilliant Hannibal Heyes plan, the subtlety of which he is yet to grasp.  Heyes watches the cogs go round behind Harry's eyes. “Kid’s got really big plans for when the amnesty comes through Harry,” Heyes offers helpfully, completely dead pan.  


Harry smiles and nods first to Heyes, then turning to Kid, "Good plan, good plan. Fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Well done.” Harry favors Kid with his highest sign of approval, a wink.


"Grief!" Kid shakes his head in disbelief and gets up to go see to the horses.


Harry turns a confused look to Heyes. "Oh, he's just going off to figure out where he's going to build us a cabin Harry." Heyes directs this to his cousins retreating back.


Without turning Curry deadpans, “Didn't say you were ever moving in."




---ooooooOoooooo---




Next morning they're all keen to put as many miles between them and the loquacious sheriff as they can.  They appear to be heading in the direction of Carson County but they haven't actually discussed it.  They just haven't got any better plan at the moment.


Harry tries to break the ice, sensing that his presence has put a bit of a wedge between the partners.  They keep speaking to him whilst obviously scoring points off each other.  He's very confused.  "So you’re planning to buy that wood back there when the amnesty comes through Kid?" he tries. 


"Gee, well I don't know Harry it depends if there's any money left after Heyes gets through buying all the books in the West and opening a darn library!" shouts Curry at Heyes' back.  


"Books?  Well, yes...very educational. Can you make a living from a library?" Harry asks. Well, it doesn't matter which one he asks. Neither of them is paying him any attention anyway.


"We'll never have to find out Harry.  We'll be too busy trying to coax horses down from the treetops with apples!  Maybe we should buy us an apple orchard, hey Kid, kill two birds with one stone?" shouts Heyes without bothering to turn in his saddle.


Harry gives it up as a bad job.




---ooooooOoooooo---


later


A sign: “Welcome to Carson County”


"Harry you got an office or a room there?" asks Heyes pointing at the ‘Carson City 10 miles’ arrow nailed to the post underneath the sign.


"I rented a room with a desk, and a couch in Bleak Flats." Harry pointed to an arrow pointing in the opposite direction, ‘Bleak Flats 2miles.’  “But the rent’s up at the end of the month and I can't afford to renew it," Harry admitted. "I cleared it out when I left; they'll probably rent it to someone new soon." He looked very disappointed at the prospect.


“But, it’s yours till the end of the month," Heyes confirmed. Harry nodded.  "And this lawyer, he's got an office in Carson City


"Real big one, right on Main Street.  Fancy gold lettering on the window ‘Crooke and Blight.’” Harry waved his hands in an arc as if he were standing in front of that window.


"Crook and Blight!” laughed Curry. “And they're lawyers? Sounds like a pair of outlaws!" 


"Which one owes you the five hundred Harry?" asked Heyes.


"Crooke, Blight's dead, he was found dead beginning of July, freak accident.  A firework set his house on fire. They say there was only bones left.  Nasty business, but the window hasn't changed.  I guess he didn’t want to spoil that window,” Harry opined. " It’s not like he could just write Crooke on the window could he?"


They all laughed, and it felt really good, for the first time since the jail break they felt they were together in a purpose.  Together they were going to get Harry back his due.


Heyes got a faraway look in his eyes. Think he was smelling a rat.  “And this Crooke, he had you investigating sheriffs?” 


“Yes, two fine upstanding citizens and brothers too.  He said they was Italian, running protection rackets like them gangs back East. Said if I could get him proof then he’d write to the Marshal himself and put a stop to it.” Harry nodded for emphasis. 


“But, you couldn’t find any evidence,” continued Heyes.


“That’s ‘cause there weren’t any,” squealed Harry “Like I said, them boys were model citizens. I followed them for two weeks, barely stopping for rest.  Never saw one thing wrong.  Two weeks! And he refused to pay me! Put a crimp in my ability to pay the rent I can tell you.”


“Why would anyone want to dig up dirt on a sheriff if they ain’t dirty?” Heyes mused.


“Best defense is a good offense.” Offered Curry.


Harry was clueless.


“Mmmmmmm.” Heyes is deep in thought. “Let’s head into Bleak Flats.  We can let Lom know where we are from there too.” 




---ooooooOoooooo---




Hotel rooms in Bleak Flats


Two adjoining rooms that is, one with one bed, one with two beds. Much steam and soft singing through cigar clenched lips. General bathing sounds, splish, splosh.


A toe poking through a black sock on a bony foot resting on a green enameled tub. We follow the sock up attached suspenders to a thin white hairy leg that disappears beneath bubbles, copious bubbles, thank goodness. Pull back to a wider angle and we see pale pigeon chested Harry complete with cigar and hat, vigorously scrubbing something below the surface of the bubbles.  Just before we change channels in disgust, Harry lifts his now spotless tie for inspection. He nods in satisfaction at his handiwork.


“Don’t forget to clean your shoes too Harry,” shouts Heyes from the adjoining room.  “You got to look real prosperous next time you see Crooke, like you got yourself some real high rolling new client.”  


Sounds like a Hannibal Heyes plan might be hatching.


“Yeah and don’t forget your hat too Harry!” Kid’s voice, also from the adjoining room, sounds like he’s also grasping one of those short cigars between his teeth.


Harry, freezes, looks up at his hat brim, grasps the hat with his free hand and begins the disturbing scrubbing of said hat with his tie.


“Sure thing boys!” shouts Harry, his cigar dropping to the bubbles.


Fade out…what?


Yes, our boys are both in the other room, through the adjoining door, in two more green enameled baths, oh come on — you can write that bit yourself!


Ok, just a peek.


Heyes is using the hot tub to lay back and relax, cigar in hand, steam rising from the bubbles condensing on his yadda yadda yadda…


Kid is actually washing…his socks. You can see from his face he’s trying to set things straight in his mind. Oh, and the beautifully toned torso. Grief, I’m trying to concentrate here and write the story.


“Why we helping Harry, Heyes?” Kids eyes show us he needs to get that straight first.


“‘Cause I smell an opportunity, Kid.” Heyes realizes he hasn’t done any actual washing yet and puts his cigar aside, then gets distracted by the glass of whiskey he’s put on the table next to the tub and picks it up.  Before putting it to his lips, he shares this pearl of wisdom with the Kid.


“We know Crooke’s a crook right?  No upstanding respected lawyer’s going to refuse to pay for services rendered, and we know he’s nervous or why hire Harry to get dirt on the County sheriffs. We know his partner just died. Did you believe that hogwash about a firework Harry was spouting, ‘cause I sure didn’t?”  It was a rhetorical question. “If we were ever looking for a mark Kid…” Heyes closed his eyes and smiled dreamily.


“Yeah, but we’re not, are we, Heyes?” the blond curls are shaken.  “We’ve gone straight, remember?”  That one wasn’t rhetorical, but Kid didn’t get an answer.  Heyes was lying back in the tub again, a faraway look in his eyes.




---ooooooOoooooo---


At dinner


All spruced up and dandy in those suits and hats we all know so well, even Harry is looking presentable, our three amigos are plotting over steak dinners in the hotel dining room. Heyes is in full sway.


“So, Harry and me should go to Carson in a hired surrey.   Park it right outside Crooke’s office, but we don’t go in. No, we let him see us…” 


Like Kid, we don’t find out what Heyes’ original plan was for Curry, as at that moment two handsome, Italian looking brothers, each sporting black moustaches and a big tin star, stride into the dining room, make a bee line for our boys table, pull up two extra chairs and sit. 


The three amigos have frozen; the innocence on their faces could be used for choir boys on a Christmas card.  


“Evening gents,” the younger sheriff offers. “Evening,” starts Heyes, but even his silver tongue is having trouble in this situation. “Mr. Heyes,” interrupts the other Italian Adonis, “Perhaps we should take our conversation elsewhere.”  


Heyes’ face is a picture of affront. “There must be some mistake here gentlemen, my name is…”  


“…Joshua Smith,” finished the younger brother, Luigi.   


“And, the Kid here is Thaddeus Jones,” finished Mario. “Hello Harry.” 


“Hello Sheriff Vitale.” Harry tips his hat. “Er…Sheriff Vitale.” He takes in the second brother.  


“Come now Harry, you can call us Mario and Luigi, please. After all you were practically family for a few weeks back there,” mocks Mario, but not unkindly.


Kid has switched to gunslinger steel blue glare; his hand has dropped to his side. His mind is plotting all available escape routes.  He speaks for the first time. The temperature in the room seems to drop.  “I don’t know what you think you’re doing here boys.” They’ve got to know he’s got a Colt pointing at their bellies under the table.


“Like I said, let’s take this somewhere else,” says Mario, a bit flustered.  “Just follow us out.” He rises, pulls his brother to his feet and gets him started towards the door.  Turning back to the table he adds, “Please.” The sheriffs leave. 


The three amigos have no words. Kid looks to Heyes, his eyebrows ask, ‘Are we really going to meekly follow those two sheriffs to jail?’ 


Heyes looks like the brain’s got too many possibilities to compute. 


Harry’s trying to look like he’s got all of this under control, just another day at the office. 


They rise as one, Heyes shrugs at Kid, and throws the money for the meal onto the table (poker winnings, should have mentioned they’re not actually broke at the moment). 


They follow the two sheriffs through the door and find them waiting in the hotel lobby.  “Do you have rooms?” asks Mario.  


“Rooms, not jai…” starts Kid but Heyes quiets him with a look, turns to the two brothers, and sweeping his arm to the stairs says, “This way gentlemen.”




---ooooooOoooooo---


Last edited by Cal on Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:52 am; edited 2 times in total
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Cal

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PostSubject: Re: Harry Briscoe Rides Again ... 7,800 words   Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:48 am

They’ve seated themselves on various beds, stools and chairs in the boys’ room.  No one seems to want to start the conversation, the two sheriffs look a bit embarrassed.  Heyes, almost exploding with curiosity puts on his gang leaders voice and takes charge.

“Well, do either one of you two want to explain what the Sam Hill is going on here,” he looks to the two sheriffs for a response.  

Curry, catching the mood, adds, “In your own time, boys.” 

Mario, looks at his younger brother and takes the plunge, “You might not of read about it yet, the Guvnor’s helped keep it out the press, but a few weeks ago…”

“…Middle of June,” puts in Luigi helpfully.  

“Yeah, middle of June, well there was a kidnapping…” Mario continued.

“…And an attempted robbery.” Luigi is getting into this now.   

Mario gives his brother a look. “Let me tell it.” 

Luigi looks repentant. 

“The president of the First Consolidated Bank of Carson City was kidnapped and threatened at gun point to open the vaults in the bank on Main Street.  Seemed he must of held out, ‘cause when they opened the bank on Monday morning the vault was still secure, but old Shawcross, he was dead.  Brains all over the place.” Mario studied his audience to see if they were following.  

Harry was rooted with interest.   Kid and Heyes were looking like they may have to defend themselves against a murder charge. 

“We wasn’t…” began Kid, but Mario went right on over him.

“Any who, turns out old Shawcross was real particular about who knew the combination to the vault.  None of the staff were trusted.  No, he’d left the secret of the combination with his oldest and most trusted friend, Zeb Blight.”  

“The partner who died in the house fire,” states Heyes, I think he’s catching on.   

“Uh-huh,” nods Luigi. “Burnt to a crisp!” 

Another disapproving look from the older sibling.  

“Zeb has, had a safe in his study back at his house,” Mario resumes.  “Real nice safe, very safe.  Well, that’s where Zeb would have kept the combination on account that he didn’t trust that no good partner of his.” 

“Blight knew Crooke was a crook?” asked Curry.

“Suspected. He came to me and told me he had doubts.  I didn’t like to tell old Zeb that everyone who’d had dealings with young Crooke had doubts. Zeb was well respected in Carson City.  I’m sure that’s why young Crooke had Harry here following us round like a puppy dog.  Find out what we knew.”  

Harry was on the verge of spilling all his problems to this understanding sheriff, but Heyes beat him to it.  “What has any of this to do with Thaddeus and me?” He emphasized the name.

“Well I’m getting to that,” Mario looked over to Luigi, who nodded. “I told Zeb that in case anything happened to him, which it has, he should leave the combination to his safe with someone he trusted.  He said he trusted me.  But the safe in my office has been there since the flood, I think even our mama knows the combination, so I suggested an out of town location, like Luigi’s safe here in Bleak Flats.” 

Mario stopped, eyebrows raised at his brother, inviting him to take his turn. 

Luigi coughed, looked very sheepish, and took up the tale. 

“I didn’t want to let Mario down, so I thought I’d find an even more secure place for the envelope he gave me, seeing as how he threatened to kill me if I lost it!” He shot his brother a murderous look. “So I put it…” 

“…In the vault of the First Consolidated Bank of Carson City,” finished Heyes with a smile and a shake of his head.

“How did you know that!”  squealed Luigi.

“It’s the only thing that makes any sense! You and your brother know who we are and you haven’t arrested us.  You also seem to know our aliases, so, I presume the Governor told you how to contact us through Lom.”

Heyes pulled himself up to his full height (whilst sitting that is), “You want me to open the bank vault!”  he pronounced, and sat back with a big smug smile on his face, relishing the discomfort of the sheriffs. 

“No!” They chimed in unison. “With respect Mr Heyes, we don’t want you anywhere near the bank vault!” blustered Mario.  “Its full of valuables,” he explained unnecessarily.

Heyes looked really deflated and disappointed. “No? Then what do…” he muttered. 

“We want you to open old Zeb’s safe at the house. It was built into the walls; the house was pretty much destroyed but the walls is still standing,” explained Luigi to the top of Heyes’ hat.

Heyes looked up and smiled, but this time it didn’t reach his eyes. “And what makes you think we’d help you out? We done a lotta favors for the Governor this last coupla years, but by our reckoning, he ain’t done us many.” 

“We thought not arresting you for a start,” Mario offered.  

“Think again.” A cold voiced Curry.

“Well, the County will stand your room and board here at the hotel while you’re in town,” offered Luigi. 

“Obviously, as we’d be working for you, but I was thinking more in the way of a reward — from the bank.” stated Heyes coolly. 

Harry had been watching all these proceedings without a word, but seeing Heyes and Kid getting the upper hand felt obliged to align himself with his fellow gang members, “That’s only fair boys, the bank wouldn’t want it to get out that they couldn’t open their own vault!”  

Heyes and Kid liked that, good old Harry. 

All three stood as one.

“Why don’t you go think on it some more,” suggested Heyes. “See if your friends over at the Carson City bank can come up with a reward.  We’ll just be waiting for you here, tomorrow, you got our word on that.”

“And you can ask Lom or the Governor if our word is good.” Curry’s voice was cold and dismissive he indicated the door with a jerk of his head.  

The sheriffs stood and placing hats on their heads walked to the door.  

Mario, trying to regain some control over this precarious situation said, “Well, we’ll be looking for you gentlemen tomorrow,” trying to make it sound like a threat, but he couldn’t help but drop his gaze from the gunslinger’s stare.  

As soon as the door is shut behind the brothers, Heyes turns to Harry, “Do you know where this house of Blight’s is — was, Harry?”  
“Oh yes, it’s all part of the thorough background investigating…” Harry starts to lecture. 

“Good,” interrupts Heyes. “‘Cause you’re taking us there tonight.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

After dark at a burned out shell of a big isolated house on the outskirts of Carson City

“Remember, we can’t leave any trace for them Italian lawmen. They mustn’t know that we been here tonight,” Heyes is laboring this point because they have Harry along.  

Curry’s eyebrows rise in Harrys direction for emphasis.  Harry nods, and in his best conspiratorial whisper starts “A Bannerman man always…” 

“No need to whisper, Harry,” deadpans Curry. “There’s no one else here.”

Carefully, three dark shadows carrying a lantern each, move through the shell of the house and locate what would have been Zeb Blight’s study.  

Heyes walks over to a fallen empty frame and moves it aside to reveal the front of a blackened safe.  “Remember to put this back after we’re done, Kid, and grab some soot so we can cover my fingermarks,” instructs Heyes. 

Then by the light of the lantern Harry holds aloft, Heyes puts his ear to the door and begins to listen for the clicks, manipulating the dial with those long tapered fingers.  His eyes close, his lips move as he remembers the numbers he’s found and rehearses the combination.  

Twenty minutes later, the contents of the safe are swept into a carpet bag.  Heyes and Harry leave, and Kid, walking backwards through the house restages the scene as they’d found it.  

---ooooooOoooooo---

A shabby, small office…with a couch… in Bleak Flats a couple of hours later

The boys have spread the contents of Blight’s safe on the desk top. Curry is reading through some letters.  Heyes is studying a ledger, and Harry has some old photos for inspection.  

“This ledger alone show’s Blight suspected Crooke was embezzling from the firm. Look at all the question marks and red circles, I bet this is what got him killed, he must have confronted Crooke with the figures,” opined Heyes.  

“Could be,” nodded Curry “But, there was more to it than that.  This judge friend of Blight’s, the one that recommended Crooke and sent him west, he’s not even sure Crooke is the same man. Says he’s going to send photographs of the two of them on a fishing trip the summer before Crooke came West. They ain’t in here though.”

Harry quickly perused the photographs in his hands for signs of fish. Didn’t find any, though.  “So Crooke may be a ringer, an imposter!” he contributed, not wanting the boys to think he wasn’t pulling his weight.

“Ah, here’s the vault combination in First Consolidated Bank of Carson City stationery, just in case a thief thought it was the combination to a different vault.” Heyes rolled his eyes.  “Why didn’t we come across security this stupid when we were robbing banks!” 

Heyes scanned around the bleak little office. “You got any books in here Harry, real books?”

“Well no, like I said I cleared everything out, well, there’s a bible came with the office.” 

“That’s perfect,” beamed Heyes.

“I don’t think we got time for readin’, Heyes.”  Kid sounded concerned. He still wasn’t convinced that his partner’s interest in all this were purely an altruistic wish to get Harry paid his due. “When we going to put all this stuff back into the safe? It’s too late to get back there tonight.” 

“Relax Kid, we can do that tomorrow, when we go back to the house with the sheriffs, gotta take my safe cracking tools with me don’t I?”  Heyes lifted the carpet bag and waved it. “I’m sure you can distract the Italians long enough for me to re fill the safe.  Shush, now I gotta write me an encryption.” 

“A what?” Curry liked it when his cousin explained what fancy words meant, but Heyes had a pen and paper in his hand and was already deep in thought, studying the bible.  

Curry shook his head; sometimes he didn’t understand his cousin at all.  “Come on Harry, let’s have another look at that pile of letters see if old Zeb had any clue as to who Crooke was if he ain’t Crooke.”

An hour later, Heyes sealed his work in the bank envelope and placed it back on the pile of documents. “Had Blight found any clues?” he asked Kid and Harry with their heads together on the couch.

“Yes, he had,” started Harry. “Zeb Blight would have made a good Bannerman man…” 

Kid took over. “Yeah old Zeb had been sending letters back East for months, even had a detective looking at Crooke’s journey.  Seems young Crooke, the real one that is was taken ill around Springfield, a doctor there said he was in a lotta pain but refused to break his journey for treatment.  There was another passenger on the same stage, same age and coloring as Crooke, and the detective found out that this man, Henry Dawson, was a disbarred lawyer, that had embezzled from his employer back East. Sounds like our man Crooke.”

“There you go Harry; you’ve got enough evidence here to build a real case against Dawson. Embezzlement, murder, I would think that would really make your name in these parts.  Set you up as the go to detective in Carson City.  Wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t have an office on Main Street in a few years with big Gold Lettering on the window.” Heyes watched as Harry’s eyes got bigger and bigger visualizing the Harry Briscoe Detective Agency.  

“‘Cause that picture of young Crooke on the fishing trip with the judge would have clinched it,” Heyes finished, smugly.

Harry deflated a little.  

Kid was waving a small silver key.  “Well, it says here he’s put all the main evidence in his safety deposit box at the First Consolidated Bank of Carson City, and we got the combination.” A broad grin spread across his handsome face. Something tells me he’s catching on and has relaxed a bit. “I think old Zeb was ready to make his move.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Back at the fire damaged house the following day

“How much longer do you think you’re gonna be, Mr Heyes?” asks a very bored Luigi. 

It seems pretend safe cracking isn’t a good spectator sport.  

Heyes wipes a sweaty brow dramatically, “Just one more number. Try to stay silent for me.”  

“Well, I sure did think when the bank offered five hundred dollars reward they was getting gypped,” Mario shakes his head. “Sure is a lot more work than I thought it’d be.”  

“Maybe you boys could go brew a coffee or something, let my partner work so we can move this along,” puts in a laconic Curry, keeping watch through a window space out of pure habit. “I think we’re all getting hungry.” 

He aimed this at the back of Heyes head.  He felt that his partner had had far enough attention for one day.  His stomach growled in agreement, and Heyes smiled and gave his head an almost imperceptible nod.

As the sheriffs disappear from site, Heyes swings the door of the safe open and starts placing the documents that they’ve decided to share carefully into the cavity.  He places the envelope with the now encrypted vault combination on top. He swiftly closes the door and spins the dial.

“We’ll let them drink some coffee, then we’ll let them open it,” smirks Heyes.  

“Bout time,” grumps Curry. “I’m hungry.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

The three amigos are having a well-deserved dinner in the hotel dining room discussing how best to use the new evidence to Harry’s advantage.

“Me and Harry should go visit with our friend Dawson,” opines Curry.
“I think we could persuade him that Harry’s a better detective than he thought.  If Harry drops enough hints about what he knows, I think young Dawson be only too happy to pay Harry what he’s owed. Even a little bonus to keep it quiet maybe.” 

Heyes smiled. “Don’t tell him too much, don’t want our bird to fly before Harry can really show what a great detective he is. And ’course we got to keep it honest, right Kid?”  “Of course.” agreed Kid.  

Harry’s eyes shone with hope and pride, then they narrowed as he spotted the County sheriffs by the door.  There was a repeat performance from the Italian brothers coming to join the table.  They both looked very uncomfortable.  

“It’s OK for us to have dinner, isn’t it, sheriffs?” Heyes asked incredulously.  He is enjoying the two lawmen’s discomfit. “You weren’t going to run us out of town hungry were you?”

“No Mr Heyes, would you take a look at this?” Mario handed Heyes the Bank envelope. “Do you know what this is?” 

Heyes studied the paper with its numbers and letters in lists. He nodded appreciatively, “That’s a pretty good encryption, makes a lot of sense to have the vault combination encrypted like that, added security.” He returned the paper to the envelope and gave it back to Mario with a smile and a nod.

“Urm…Mr Heyes, can you read it?” Mario asked searching the genius’s face for signs of hope. 
 
“Read it?  Well no, that’s kinda the point,” pointed out Heyes helpfully. “You’d need to employ a code breaker, someone who’s read a great deal about these things, someone whose studied security systems…” He let this sink in.

“Could you break it?” Luigi thinks he’s the only one to have thought of this idea.  

“Well it would take a couple of days,” Heyes looked reluctant to take on such an arduous task, “and I’d have to charge a fee for my time.” 

“Would five hundred dollars cover it?” asked Mario.  There’s just a hint around Mario’s eyes that he suspects they’re being played. 

“Fine,” says a completely innocent Heyes reaching across the table and taking back the envelope.

Curry beams with pride at his cousin’s genius. 

---ooooooOoooooo---

The following morning

A hired surrey pulls up outside the offices of Crooke and Blight (deceased). 

Kid and Harry have Heyes’ words ringing in their ears.  

The dimpled one had settled himself on the bed with a new book, a glass of whiskey and a satisfied smile and waved them out the door with, “Remember, only hint that you know something’s up.  And Kid, remember to pipe that bank.”  

“Yes Heyes, enjoy your day encrypting,” Curry had nodded from the door. 

Harry gets down and straitens up his tie, brushes down his newly cleaned suit.  With Kid Curry at his back, Harry feels he can wrestle bears.  They enter the plush offices and head straight for the lovely redhead at reception.  

“Harry Bartholomew Briscoe to see Mr Crooke,” announces Harry. 

“Hello Harry, did you make an…” the girl looks up from her typewriter straight into the full baby blue gaze of the fastest gun in the West, “…appointment?” she melts.

“Is he so busy he can’t see a coupla old friends?” smiles Curry; yes, it’s that smile.  

A small giggle escapes the captivated one.  “Well, I’m sure I’ll have to go see,” she simpered.  

“Thankyou…urm?”  Kid leaned in a little closer. 

“It’s Trulie, Trulie Edwards,” she supplied touching her lips and giggling some more.  

Kid took her hand in his and brushed the back of it with his lips, “We’d be much obliged.”  

Trulie extracted her hand and, without breaking eye contact with the handsome cowboy at her desk, found her way back to Crooke’s office door. 

Flustered, she completely forgot about asking and announced, “Mr Harry Briscoe and …” 

The blue eyed one whispered Thaddeus Jones. 

“…and Mr Thaddeus Jones to see you Mr Crooke. Go right on in gentlemen.”  She stood with the door open as Harry and Kid entered the room, Kid tipping his hat, smiling as he took the door from her, and closed it firmly behind them. 

He set his features to gunslinger mode as he turned.

Jonathan Crooke, stood as they entered protesting at the interruption, then his eyes locked on Kid’s and he froze.  

Changing tack, he blustered at Harry, “What’s all this Harry?  You here to threaten me? I have witnesses who know you came in here; I don’t think we’ve got any more to say to each other.” 

‘Sheesh’ thought Kid, ‘this guy’s already on the edge, doesn’t need rattling.’  He walked to the front of the office and putting both hands flat on the desk, breathed “Why don’t we all stay calm and listen to what Mr Briscoe’s got to say. He tells me you got plenty to discuss.”

“Who are you?” Crooke shot back.  

“Well now, that’s a very interesting question,” drawled Curry. “Who someone is, that’s very important.” 

Crooke showed a slight discomfit. 

“For now, shall we just say I’m a witness for Mr Briscoe.  I believe you owe my boss five hundred dollars.”  The Kid stood straight and went to stand at Harry’s shoulder, hands on gun belt.

Harry was feeling ten feet high, “Now, when you refused to pay me for my investigations, well, that got me to thinking, that’s not any way for a reputable lawyer to behave.  Yes sir, got my investigative juices flowing so to speak.  Got me thinking maybe there was more to Jonathan Crooke than meets the eye.  Do we understand each other?”

Silence.

Harry and Kid stood straight and calmly looked Crooke in the eyes. 

The flustered lawyer looked at each of them in turn, and allowed the silence to drag a little further in case they had more to say.  Finally, unable to stay silent any longer he coughed out, “Well I may have been a little hasty not paying you Harry.  I was real disappointed you weren’t able to provide the evidence I needed but…” 

“I think Mr Briscoe’s got all the evidence he needs,” opined Kid, raising his eyebrows. 

Crooke looked very uncomfortable as he fumbled with the dial to his safe on the wall above his desk.  “Well, like I said, I may have been a bit hasty.  Did we say five hundred?” 

“We did, but as I said, I’ve had to do some more investigating on account of you not paying me last time.  So, we can call it an even thousand.” Harry’s voice was cool and low.  

Kid was impressed but he kept the poker face.

An unhappy Crooke counted out the thousand.  “Let’s hear no more about it then Harry,” he spat as he handed over the cash.  

Kid took it.  “OK boss?” 

Harry nodded.  

Kid opened the door and held it for Harry who walked through like he owned the whole building. 

“Nice doing business with you, Mr ...urm, Crooke,” Kid tipped his hat and left.

A smile for Trulie and he joined Harry in the surrey, took the reins and headed for the other end of the street.  “Wait here a minute Harry, I’ve got some business in the bank for Heyes, I’ll be right back.  

“Sure thing partner,” smiled Harry, which got him the look from Kid.

---ooooooOoooooo---

After dark, The First Consolidated Bank of Carson County vault

“Heyes,” Kid whispers “I found it, this is Blight’s deposit box. Heyes. Heyes! Stop mooning over the gold bars and come and open the darn deposit box!”  

“What? Oh, yes, but isn’t it pretty.” Heyes is visiting his larcenous place, cherishing a gold bar.  

“Put that down, get over here and get on with it. I told you we only have thirty-six minutes to clear out of here before the next patrol!”  Curry checks a pocket watch and glares at his partner.  

“OK. OK. Sheesh. No need to get proddy, Kid.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

The following evening at dinner

The three amigos have been joined by Mario and Luigi again.  

Heyes hands over the Bank envelope wiping his brow like he’s just finished digging the Erie canal.  

A grateful Mario thanks Heyes and smirks, “Guess you boys will be moving on out of Carson County soon then?”  

Heyes and Curry look at each other and laugh.

“You asking us to get outta town sheriff?” Heyes asks with wide eyed innocence.  

“Yes. Please. Mr Smith. Mr Jones.” 

“First thing in the morning,” nods Curry.  “After breakfast.”  

“Say, Sheriff Vitale…” 

Both Sheriffs look up. 

Heyes smiles, “…Did you find anything interesting in that safe I opened, besides the encrypted vault combination I mean?”  

The brothers exchanged a look, nodded to each other.  “Well, enough to throw doubt on Jonathan Crooke’s innocence, but not enough to convict. We’re going to be working on it though, I can assure you of that.” Mario looked more determined than hopeful.  

Heyes looked at Harry like he was the answer to all their problems.  “Well you’ll have to talk to our friend Harry here, see when Crooke had him chasing you two around looking for evidence of corruption…” 

The brothers both bristled. 

“…Oh, he didn’t find none, but it got old Harry’s brain thinking there must be more to it, especially when that snake refused to pay him for his work.” 

The two sheriffs looked at Harry who gave them his best Bannerman man face. 

“Well Harry used to work for Bannerman his self, so naturally he started investigating our friend Crooke. He’s been liaising with other detective friends of his from back East.  Harry’s very well connected. Well, I should let Harry tell you all about it. I think you’ll find it fascinating; I know we did. Let’s not spoil this lovely steak dinner discussing it now. Why don’t you boys go over to Harry’s office in the morning and he’ll fill you in.” 

Nods all round. Harry is practically bursting with pride. You’d think he’d actually done some of the leg work.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Next morning, after breakfast

Heyes and Curry are taking their leave of Harry. 

“Now remember boys, you’ve got a good friend in Carson City if either of you want jobs as detectives when the - ‘you know’ comes through, you just come look up old Harry.  Might be better than rare horses or libraries.” 

Harry shakes each by the hand heartily, gripping a fine new cigar between his teeth.

“We might take you up on that Harry,” smiles Heyes. “Don’t forget, when you’re taking the Vitale brothers through the evidence you’ve found, keep the photograph of the real Crooke with the judge and the big fish till last, OK? That’s the real clincher.” Heyes salutes Carson city’s soon to be premiere detective.  “See yer Harry.”  

“And Harry?” deadpans Kid, tipping his hat “Never attempt that five pat hands bet again!”

Our boys ride into the distance as Harry smiles and waves.



The End
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