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 Yuma - In four episodes - Episode Four (7,500 words)

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Cal

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Join date : 2016-10-21

PostSubject: Yuma - In four episodes - Episode Four (7,500 words)   Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:19 pm

---ooooooOoooooo---
Yuma
By Cal

(Part Two)

---ooooooOoooooo---
 
Episode four
 
Gela Flats
Cain isn’t answering to Cain, and Heyes and Curry, familiar with name changes, are going along with it for expediency.  Nathaniel is doing his best, but unlike the other two, he’s been calling Cain, Cain most of his life.

“Caleb you’re with me!” orders Heyes already in the saddle.

“Cai…Caleb thinks we should’ve took a train, and if we’re takin’ these horses for a fast get away from a posse…” Nathaniel patted Kids inauspicious mount.  “…I think he’s right.  What if we have to jump a yawning chasm or swim a raging torrent or outrun ‘em like the very devil was on our tails…”

“Nat!” Kid swinging onto his horse fixes both lads with a stare that could stop a clock.  ”Shut up, and get up here.  I don’t want to hear another word from you two till we’re clear of the posse…. now MOVE!”  

Kid and Heyes are just starting to realise what they’ve undertaken, breaking out of jail with two opinionated, independently-minded and anything but shy teens.  With huge sighs, and without sounding too much like one of Nathaniel’s dime novels, they finally get to …ride for the hills.


---ooooooOoooooo---

The Hills

They’re walking through a stony barren cut between high cliffs, allowing the horses to blow for the first time. The shadows are long at this early hour, and they’re keeping to them; seeking cover from their back trail where-ever possible, behind rocky outcrops.

“How did you do it?” Kid calls over to Heyes. “Get the lock picks back?” 

The boys hadn’t said a word since the livery, I suppose I could have said they were sulking, but truthfully, they’d spent most of their time and energy just trying to stay in the saddles as Heyes and Curry sped across difficult terrain at high speed.

“I saw them…” says Caleb, “…as soon as you came in; in the back of …Mr Heyes’ belt.” 

Cain …Oh, Caleb …looked warily at the outlaw in front of him.  The demonstration of temper from both men back in Gela had convinced the boys that these men were in fact dangerous outlaws.

“When he answered you spoutin’ Longfellow …well I just took his meaning …so I took ‘em …and hid ‘em.”

“I had spares …just had to get them knucklehead detectives distracted long enough to put them where Cai…Caleb could find them …he’s a smart kid” nodded Heyes.

“Is that what you were doing, Heyes; spoutin’ poetry…Hah!”  Curry shakes his head.

“You get used to it” said Nathaniel, laconically over Curry’s shoulder.  

Kid dropped his head to hide a snort of mirth.

“I think the horses have had long enough, don’t you Kid? Time to get movin’” orders Heyes, kicking his reluctant mount back to the gallop. 

A plaintive cry could just be heard from Nathaniel, “Ain’t we stoppin’ to eat?”


---ooooooOoooooo---

Back in Gela

Carl Grant was walking to the jailhouse, looking very distracted.  He’d made up his mind.  He would give it his best shot.  Fred was getting one last chance to play this straight.  He’d try and talk Fred out of this fool idea about keeping all the reward money.  Get a telegram to the Yuma Office first thing and maybe, they’d both keep their jobs ...and their wives ...and maybe even earn a sizable bonus.  
If not then... 
  ...if not then.... 
     ...well he’d have to report Fred!
          ...he liked Fred...
             ...but he liked his job too...
                 ...and he liked his wife
                    ...well he loved his wife... 

Suddenly a loud ferral wail came from the jailhouse.  Grant sort of recognised Fred’s voice in there somewhere...


“.....THEY’RE GONE!?!?....”

‘They’re gone!’ Grant was suddenly very much awake and staring at the office door.  Heyes and Curry had done it again! He didn’t have to face reporting Fred ...He was off the hook!  Carl Grant looked skywards thanking any and all deitys that had deighned to look kindly upon him, “Yes!” 

Carl put a concerned look on his face, as Fred came rushing out of the office Shouting about needing to round up a posse, closely followed by a hung over looking deputy.  Wade Sawyer was at the other end of the street greeting some early risers.  His face turned to shock, as he took in the comotion by the jailhouse, and he did a near record hundred yard dash in cowboy boots to join Fred in rousing the posse.


---ooooooOoooooo---
“Carl, will you git a move on! They’re getting away!” Fred shouts at his tardy partner.

Carl had been incredibly slow saddling their horses, and was now checking the horses’ feet.  “If they’re heading up into those hills, that’s mighty rough terrain up there Fred.  Full of rattlers and rougue indians. I think we should maybe go get us some more supplies and amunition.” he opined loudly for the benefit of the townsfolk, who didn’t look at all keen to chase two notorius outlaws into the hills, especially as one was the gunslinger, Kid Curry!

“Will you just mount up!  Trails getting cold...” Fred grabbed the reigns of his mount and nearly trampled Carl in his hurry to catch the sherriff and his deputy.  The towns folk waited for Carl, figuring this was more his job than theirs.

“Hope the Sheriff’s not planning to continue on after dark ...I wouldn’t want ‘The Kid’ to sneak up and ambush us while we slept.” Carl shakes his head at the stupidity of that idea, and the townsfolk start nodding agreement. A very sombre posse followed the three leaders out of Gela ... just as slowly  as  they  could  get  away  with.

Carl smiled, so far so good.  However his biggest problem was still his erstwhile best friend.  Flawed though he was, Fred had one un -arguable talent.  The man could out-track an apache!  If Carl was going to keep Fred from recapturing Heyes and Curry, and getting them both sacked ...and probably devorced ...maybe he couldn’t just leave it to fate, maybe fate was going to need a little help... 


---ooooooOoooooo---

On a high ridge at the end of a very long, hungry, thirsty, tiring, dusty first day on the dodge for two teenage boys

“There!” Kid is pointing.  Heyes swung the opera glasses in the direction of Kids pointing finger. “Yeah! …all still there, I count ten.” Heyes sighed heavily.  “That’s some tracker they got….  Wait …wait a minute …Yes! Seems like some of the good towns folk have had enough, they’re splitting …six heading back!  Only four coming on. Lights going fast and they can’t move around up here anymore than we can after dark.”

“Come on, we need to get outta here.” Kid held a hand to Nathaniel, the horse moving before the boy had even settled. “We can still put a few more miles between them and us before we have to stop.”

“Why?” questioned Caleb, but had to grab the saddle and hang on for dear life as Heyes’ horse did a stag leap in the air before tearing off again.

“How many more …miles?” Nathaniel sounded like he could sleep at full gallop.  He was exhausted and this was not living up to any dime novel posse chase he’d ever read.  ‘Why ain’t they layin’ an ambush; if there’s only four of ‘em left, why Kid Curry could…’ Nathaniel looked at the outlaw in front of him, ‘I don’t think the real Kid Curry would keep runnin’…’

Caleb looked ahead to his younger friend desperately hanging on behind Curry.  He dropped his head, Nat deserved better than this. 
This was all his fault
       …if only he hadn’t lost his temper and… Well that was Cain! 
              …From now on, Caleb Black was gonna do right by Nathaniel.


---ooooooOoooooo---

Fred was like a bear smelling honey.  He tracked their quarry over terrain where no other man could see a trace.  He showed the sheriff where there had been brief stops, where hooves had left marks on rocks as smooth as glass and where one of the horses had started to drag a rear hoof.  

They’d had to make stops themselves and always seemed to be delayed in setting off again.  This posse was having more than its fair share of bad luck, broken tack, water running out of canteens, Carl suddenly taken with a sickness, hurling his breakfast...

The remaining townsfolk of the posse left that first day as dusk was coming on. 

The Sheriff and the Deputy had stuck with them for second and third day, but now, decided to head back.  This high country was prime territory for ambush and they knew their quarry would be feeling desperate about now.  Wade knew Curry and Heyes weren’t wanted for murder ...but there was always that first time, when a man was just desperate enough. He told the detectives he was worrying about straying into the reservation land designated to the Navajo Nation, and left.  

Now there was just Carl and Fred.  The sherriff had advised them to quit.  Fred wouldn’t. 

Carl was getting more and more worried that they would catch up Heyes and Curry and the two lads.  Nothing he’d tried to put Fred off the scent, had worked so far.  Fred knew at least one of the horses was spent.  “They ain’t going any further ...not four ...on one horse.”


---ooooooOoooooo---

A non-descript ridge above a vast expanse of low ground covered in rough low scrubby vegetation and rocks.

Four very weary desperados bellied up to the rise of the ridge, Heyes has the opera glasses again.  The horses are blowing below, after another long gallop over too many rocks.  Kid had felt the difference in the off hind of his mount.  This horse didn’t have too many miles left in him.  Heyes’ mount was all but spent too.  He watched the ribs as the horses blew, the offending hoof was held off the ground.  He looked over to Heyes, who saw the worry.

“This is getting old Heyes! These horses haven’t got another mile in ‘em.” He didn’t add that he thought the two boys didn’t have another mile in them either, but Heyes could see that for himself.  Any glamour these boys thought they’d find in outlawing had been shook out of their heads and churned out of their empty bellies days ago.

Heyes lifts the glasses again, and scans …scans …stills …focusses… “There they are!  Same two … I bet that’s Grant and Gaines …Sheesh! Gaines must be part Apache.” Heyes sneered. “Come on, we’ll have to do something they’re not expecting…”


---ooooooOoooooo---

“Well you were sure right about one thing Heyes” Kid looked up at the impenetrable wall of rock at the end of the box canyon,” They sure won’t be expecting us to do something this stupid!” 

Heyes closes his eyes.  He’s exhausted too.

“Hide?” sneered Caleb, “That was your big genius idea?” He looked around the small canyon bottom.  “I don’t see no food, or water in here, do you? They just gotta starve us out…”

“You’ll die of thirst before you starve, that’s if I don’t… you little…” Heyes’ had been trying hard to keep a leash on his temper, but Caleb just knew how to push all his buttons.

“Heyes!” Curry slid his eyes to Nathaniel loosening the girths on the horses.  Nathaniel was barely holding himself together.  Heyes bit his tongue.  “If we’re lucky they’ll miss our tracks coming in here…” He tried to sound like he thought it was possible.

Kid sighed heavily instinctively taking out the Colt and checking the bullets in the chamber. He knew it wasn’t Heyes’ fault, but he was feeling so… Bad enough if it was just the two of them, they could fight their way out, two against two …but there were the boys. He knew they couldn’t risk that.

Caleb took Nathaniel and sat on some nearby rocks, “It’ll be fine.” Both boys eyed the outlaws warily. 
There hadn’t been any time for more than curt words for days.  They didn’t know any more about these two now than they did that first day in the cells. 

Caleb watched Heyes, as he talked to Curry. 

‘Them two old women had sent these two old …friends …outlaws …to find them. Of course they only had the word of Heyes and Curry on that, who according to Nathaniel’s dime novels, were supreme liars.’ He scowled in thought.  ‘Hannibal Heyes was supposed to be a genius; he did open the locks and crack the safe, and …Well he could be my… No!... He’d never believe that again! But surely if they were Heyes and Curry, they would have turned on that posse days ago. Shot it out. Kid Curry is meant to be the fastest gun in the West. There’s only two detectives after them now, how hard could it be?’

He broke the last piece of jerky in two, and tapped Nathaniel’s shoulder.  Nat’s attention was on Curry.  Caleb followed his gaze, and both the boy’s eyes widen, as they watch Kid Curry twirl the Colt back into its holster.


---ooooooOoooooo---

“We got ‘em Carl! We got ‘em. This here’s a box canyon.  Look at the map.  Hah …no water!  This is it we can’t miss, that twenty thousand is as good as ours.  Don’t think I didn’t see you working that posse …getting rid of all them others …that’s ten thousand each!” He wasn’t jumping up and down, but he might as well have been. The crowing continued…

Carl was looking to the sky for inspiration. How had it come to this? It was like Heyes and Curry wanted to be caught …taking just them two scrawny horses they rode in on …taking two green teenage boys with them on a jail break …not splitting up …weren’t Heyes and Curry supposed to be able to outrun the devil!

“..and we ain’t taking no chances this time.  They’re wanted dead or alive.  We can take a couple of rifles and pick them off easy…” 

Carl came back from his reverie of despair in time to hear enough of Fred’s ramblings to realise that his partner was not only planning to shoot Heyes and Curry in cold blood …but the two young lads too!

That was it…
     That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
           No more...

---ooooooOoooooo---
Back in the Canyon

“This here’s what’s called a no win situation.” Heyes is lecturing the boys. “So, no Nat, we won’t be shooting it out, like at the Alamo…” He fixed the younger boy with a withering look. 

“And I am not going to call out those two agents and gun them down with my fast draw” drawled Kid, sending an equally uncompromising look towards Caleb.

“We’re going to give ourselves up, by raising our hands and walking out of here on foot.” Heyes sighed, not a plan he’d care to be reminded of in the future, but he wasn’t going to risk these boys in a gun fight. 

For once, Caleb didn’t argue.  Nat took his lead.

“We’ll go first.” Sighed Curry “You come on down when you’re called.”  Heyes led the way. Curry followed with a last sad smile to Nat and Caleb. 

As soon as the partners were out of sight, Caleb grabbed Nat’s shirt sleeve and pulled him to his feet, “Come on Nat, for all we know their just fixin’ to dump us here …and take them two detectives horses…”


---ooooooOoooooo---

Half way along the box canyon
The partners look confused


“Errrm …we’re giving ourselves up…” Heyes calls.  He sounds dazed and almost speechless.  In front of him stand two horses.  Carl Grant sat on the first one …with his hands in the air.  Kids eyes search for weapons …or ambush …or something.  The second horse stands patiently under the weight of Fred Gaines, slung across the saddle seemingly unconscious.

“Did he fall off his horse Mister?” asked Nathaniel from behind Kid’s shoulder.

“We told you to stay back there!” Kid turned to yell at the boys, then letting his own hands drop turns back to Grant “Did he take a fall? …Snake bite?”

“No …I hit him with a rock …He ain’t dead, but he’s going to have the mother of all headaches when he wakes up.” Said Grant simply.

Heyes let his hands drop to his hips, “Well …Why? …What? …We was beat… I don’t…” ooooooh someone finally stumped Heyes’ silver tongue!

“He was planning on coming in here and murdering all of you, including the boys.  I couldn’t allow that.” Carl looked at the two young lads who were watching the adults like it was a floor show.  They had eyes as big as saucers at the revelation that the unconscious man had wanted to shoot them.  He could see them wondering what would happen next and he wanted to put their minds at rest.  “He’s not been himself lately …not since the gold train really.” Of course they wouldn’t know anything about that either, “Are you boys hungry? If you get a fire started, I got a side of bacon in my pack.”

At the mention of food, the two teenagers sprang into action; lighting fires and cooking bacon they could do!  Kid and Heyes looked at each other with wide disbelieving eyes but they knew enough, that when fate sends you a miracle, you do not question.  The man wanted a fire built! He wanted to cook bacon… they quickly plastered smiles on their faces and joined the boys looking for fire fixings.


---ooooooOoooooo---

A fire is lit, food has been eaten and Grant ...not Heyes …has made some coffee

Grant has filled Heyes and Curry in on the deterioration of his partner’s morals …and their part in his redemption.  In return Heyes and Curry have shared what they can about the worst kept secret in the West, namely their promise of amnesty from the governor of Wyoming …and its part in keeping them on an honest path.  

The boys have been forgotten.

“What’s amnesty Cai…Caleb?” asks Nathaniel quietly. 

The boys are sitting on the other side of the fire, screwing up their faces as they sip strong hot coffee from Kids previously empty canteen. They haven’t followed everything being said, but for some reason, this agent has come over to the outlaw’s side.  He’s probably a crook too.

“It’s something Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry could never git.” Caleb keeps his voice low for Nat’s ears only. “It’s pardon for small time crooks …not like them … how many people have they gunned down in their robberies… they’re probably fixin’ to double cross that crooked agent.  We’re going to have to be real careful Nat …we can’t trust none of ‘em.”

After the meal, Grant generously split his few provisions with the ex-outlaws and departs telling Heyes and Curry that unfortunately, he’ll have to tell Gaines that he was jumped by the outlaws, and that they’d only just managed to get away.  He was planning on riding South till he found somewhere they could lay up for a while and let Fred recuperate while he talked some sense into his mule head.

---ooooooOoooooo---
Next Morning

Things don’t look so grim; they’ve got a bit of food.  They’ve found water.  The horses weren’t ever going to recover but at least they’d had a rest. Kid announces that now no one’s trailing them they can go shoot some game …ok a rabbit or a sage hen, but both boys are keen to see Kid shoot …anything. 

Yes, the partners are feeling optimistic. The teenage boys, much more themselves again too… oh dear...

“Do you even know where we are?” asks Caleb, looking out across the vast, foreboding terrain laid out before them. 

“Not like on a map or nothin’” says Heyes with a strained smile. “But Kid ‘n me, we can normally find our way around.  Soon as the horses are sound again, we’ll get you and Nat to a town somewheres, and telegraph Louise, and she can come pick you up.”

Caleb drops his head; I don’t think that’s what he wanted to hear.  “I can’t go back to the home…” He starts.  “Wasn’t your fault…” comforts Nathaniel putting a protective arm on Caleb’s shoulder.

The partners look at each other with alarm.  How have they let this fourteen-year-old go on carrying the guilt of thinking he’s killed someone for all this time.  They look suitably chastened.  Kid scrubs a gloved hand over his face, squeezing his eyes shut.  “Cain …I mean Caleb, you never…” he starts.

“Caleb,” Heyes fixes the lad with his dark eyed stare.  “We was in Benton.  We heard how that creep Hotel owner attacked your friend Josephine.  You did the only thing a man could’ve done …Same thing any of us would’ve done!” He waves a hand between himself and Kid.  The Kid nods enthusiastically. “But …and I’m sorry to have to tell you this …that creep lived.  You didn’t kill him…”
Curry’s changed to head shaking.

“I didn’t…” The relief on Caleb’s face was threatening to turn to tears, but his face screws up into anger “And just how long have you known that posse weren’t fixin’ to hang me!” He spits into their faces.  They don’t have an answer.  Heyes tries “We been a little busy…” Kid shoots him a glare that says ‘just shut up!’

“That old bastard ain’t dead! Well ain’t that a crying shame!” says Nathaniel matter of factly, which broke the tension enough for Caleb to wander off on his own for a bit.


---ooooooOoooooo---
Days later breaking camp

“I don’t think we should have taken that last pass, we should’ve stuck to the ridge and headed west…” opined Curry with a shake of the curls, “I think we could end up going round in circles this way.  Maybe…” 

Nat, stood at his elbow and nodded. Nathaniel and Kid had been going off before breakfast to hunt together.  Nat was really enjoying this opportunity to hone his outdoor skills and Curry was a good teacher.  Caleb was happier sticking to camp and took great delight in baiting the genius.  

“Maybe …you should have said something earlier!” Heyes’ eyes narrowed and he was biting back what he would have liked to have said, if they weren’t in the company of the young’uns.  “All I said was this looked like it might be a decent trail…”

“Are we lost Mr Curry?” asked Caleb, enjoying winding Heyes up further.  

“No!…” Heyes starts.

“Yes…” Curry confirmed to a smiling Nathaniel.  “But it don’t mean much, this is more or less how me an’ Heyes get everywhere.  The Norths up that way, all we gotta do, is figure a way to get to there, from here.”

“Why we heading North, anyway? Don’t seem too bright to me.” Caleb opined staring up into Heyes’ face.  Kid and Nathaniel both raised questioning eyebrows to the genius scowling under the black hat.

“Oh really!” Heyes had had enough of being second guessed, bad enough when it was his partner but now it’s a half grown, know nothing, opinionated £$%^&**(&^%$£! kid questioning his every judgement. He grabs for Caleb by the shirt, but is knocked sideways by a flying Nathaniel come to his friend’s aid.  In a sprawling mass of arms and legs Heyes brawls on the floor with the two feral teens …while Curry watches, face wincing now and then …after several pretty good blows from a near out of control Caleb, Curry …slowly … takes out the Colt and shoots it into the sky.   

The combatants freeze.

“Glad you all got that outta yer systems…” opined the blue eyed one, taking in Heyes’ battered face and Nathaniel straining muscles, holding Caleb back.  He lifts the rim of his hat with the still smoking gun. 

“Boys …mount up …we’re gonna do this my way…” 


---ooooooOoooooo---
Several hours later 

“How many did you see?” Heyes looked to the top of the nearest peak, then off to the far horizon, not wanting to believe what the boy had said.

“Just the one.” Nathaniel’s eyes were big as saucers. He didn’t say it out loud but he was thrilled that the Indian had looked just like himself. “I think he wanted me to see him.  He just, sort of, stood up and looked at me for a second.  I looked over my shoulder, to call you two, and when I looked back he was gone.”

“Heyes,” Curry did a good job of hiding the worry that his partner had seen spring up in the blue eyes just a moment ago. “A word.” 

Kid jerked his head away from the two boys, back towards the bend they’d just rounded.  The partners walked back down the trail together, leaving the boys to hold their tired animals. 

Heyes and Curry had been riding the weary horses for the last hour, while the boys walked ahead, but their feet were still sore because they’d been on foot themselves before that.  In fact all their feet were sore, their bellies were getting empty again and until Nathaniel had piped up that he’d seen an Indian, words had been very sparse since the brawl.

Cain scowled.  ‘Jail, then a posse that included those two detectives, now Indians,’ he thought.  ‘Or at least, one Indian.  What could the outlaws possibly have to discuss in private?  Accept, probably, how quickly they could ditch their two encumbrances and high tail it.’  He gave Nathaniel a reassuring pat, even though he had to stretch a bit to reach the taller boys shoulder.  He was the oldest after all, and Nat relied on him to do their thinking.  He stared off to where Heyes and Curry had their heads together, plotting.  “It’ll be fine” he reassured the younger boy.

Kid brought Heyes to a halt just passed the bend where he could look back and keep an eye on the boys.  “We know that they only show themselves when they’re fixing to make some sort of contact.  Do you think it’s possible, if Nat just saw one brave, that he could be out here on his own?  Maybe he needs help, or food, or something, and thought Nat looked the friendliest of us, being half-Indian himself.”   Kid knew this was rubbish, but he wanted to try and put a better spin on their present circumstances, for himself as much as anyone. Indians always made him …nervous.

“It’s the ‘or something’ that bothers me, Kid.  If that Indian’s had a good look at us, he’s got to know that the horses are near dead.  They weren’t in any shape when we first bought them, and we haven’t exactly given them an easy ride. I Don’t think they’d even make good eating anymore...” Heyes looked at his partner in earnest. “When you got a look at that map, back in Benton, did you see any Indian reservation land?”

“Yeah …Navajo I think …but that was a long way North, we couldn’t have come that far North?” Kid looked around as if seeing this scruffy mountain range for the first time.  “Sure, we covered some ground losing that posse, but on those horses? Riding double?  No …we couldn’t be that far North, I’m sure of it.”  

Kid nodded.  

     Heyes nodded.  

           Maybe, if they nodded hard enough, they could make it true.

“Well, we’ll just ask the boys to keep an eye out for any more Indians, and hope that Nat has just seen some youngster wandering off the reservation…” 

Heyes had started back towards the boys, putting an optimistic smile on his battered face as he approached.  “Don’t think we got anything to worry about boys, probably just some young brave wandering off the reservation, looking to share a meal or something…” He nodded sagely at the boys, but the boys weren’t looking at him.

“You just let us know if you see any more Indians, Ok Nat?” Curry was on Heyes’ shoulder with a warm ‘I’m not worried at all’ smile plastered on his face.  “Not all Indians are savages you know; we’ve met some pretty decent ones…” 

Curry’s pep talk came to a faltering halt as he watched awe arising on the faces of the weary, teenagers.  They stood, with their mouths agape, eyes wide, frozen to the spot.  The two ex-outlaws studied the boys, wondering if their past Indian-related exploits had impressed them in some way, but then noticed that the boy’s attention was very much drawn, to something behind themselves.  

Nathaniel lifted a weak arm to point, but no words escaped his lips.  

The partners looked at each other for just a second.  A ‘maybe we were wrong’ message sent between blue eyes and brown, lumps in throats were swallowed. They turned in synchro, instinctively raising their hands as they came round to face what looked like a hundred Navajo braves, and maybe worse, a dozen pointing rifles.

Both ex-outlaw faces were a rictus of teeth, as huge smiles sprang up between their ears, in an effort to appear friendly. In short order they were prodded to the ground, their guns removed from their holsters and their hands tied behind their backs. 

Heyes started greeting their captors with friendly banter and polite enquiries as to the nature of their captivity.  This got him hit across the back of the head with the butt of a nearby rifle, and the swearing, issuing from the Kid at this ill treatment of his already battered partner, earned him a matching concussion.

Cain shook his head in disbelief. ‘Unbelievable. How had Heyes and Curry survived all these years?’ he thought.  He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders at Nathaniel. 

Nathaniel was smiling at the same brave he’d seen earlier.  Seemed Nat had made a friend, they were about the same age and looked very alike.
 
In perfect Spanish, fourteen-year-old Caleb greeted the band of braves and, after some initial introductions, rapidly ascertained if they could get help with directions, and whether or not they had any food or water to share.   

He also managed to convince the hunting party that, he and Nat, weren’t actually prisoners of Heyes and Curry…. whatever it looked like….

---ooooooOoooooo---

The next day on the Navajo Reservation

“I’d just like to remind you…” Heyes began to lecture Kid.  

“I know! It wasn’t your idea.  How was I supposed to know we were in Indian country?” Curry pulled at the bonds around his wrists as he sat back to back with Heyes in the tepee. They both sported bandages …well their own dirty bandanas …round their heads holding strong smelling poultices over the goose eggs that had come up while they were out cold.  “If they’ve harmed those boys…”

“You’ll what?  They got our guns…”  Heyes was feeling quite calm, even a little smug, because none of this was his fault.  “Anyway, Nathaniel’s practically one of them …they’re probably doing a better job of mindin’ the boys than we did.”

“What?!?” Kids eyes are wide in incredulity. ” Mindin’ the boys! Do you think this is what Jenny and Louise were thinkin’ when they sent us off after their boys?  Break them out of jail, get them chased by a posse, lost in the mountains and now captured by Indians! I’m beginning to think we should take the boys to Devils Hole to become outlaws, ‘cause when Jenny finds out how we been mindin’ her boys …no amnesty’s gonna save us!”

The flap of the tepee opened and the two lads walk in followed by two very impressive braves.  

“Turns out, Nathaniel’s mother was a chief’s daughter!” Caleb sounded excited and happy for once, first time in weeks.  “They recognised her in him, straight away.  He’s got loads of family here. We would have come and got you sooner, but Nat’s granddaddy wanted to do this greeting ritual thing, and there was dancing, and drumming and Nat had to say these Navajo words and I had to translate…”

The partners had never heard Caleb run off at the mouth like this.  Kid rolled his eyes. Seemed familiar.

“You speak Navajo?” asked Heyes.

“Not a lot …but my Mexican’s better …Anyway …they want Nathaniel to have this naming ceremony and take his place…”

“And truth is …we forgot you was still here…” said a beaming Nathaniel rather sheepishly, riding over Caleb’s words.  “But there’s plenty of food left …and the Chief wants to hear Cain’s Hiawatha-in’ again …so we gotta go...”

“Desatarse por favour” Cain called to the braves as he turned to leave.  The braves quickly untied the partners, who stood up stretching and rubbing at their wrists.

“Well, Nat’s the chief’s grandson,” beamed Heyes with ‘knew this would be fine’ smugness. 

“Funny that, ain’t it Heyes, how sometimes you can see a parent in a child that way?” Kids eyes went wide as he looked from Heyes to the flap just falling behind Caleb.

Heyes’ smug grin melts to worry.  Perhaps that was a conversation for another time.

---ooooooOoooooo---

On the reservation
Several days later


“Now you’re sure this is what you want, Nat?” Curry fixes this kid he’s become very fond of, with a fatherly gaze.  “I know this is exciting, but these people are very different from us.  It’s going to be hard for you to fit in and it’s going to be even harder for us to leave you here. Especially for Cain …Caleb”

“I don’t think he minds being called Cain again now Mr Curry.  Now he knows he ain’t a murderer like in the bible. But I ain’t Nat any more, I’m Bidziil.  It means ‘the strong one’, and it’s the name given to me by my grandfather, my family.” 

Nat can’t stop smiling.  

“And your wrong Mr Curry, these people are just like me.  They look like me, for the first time I won’t look different.  And here, I’m a grown up and a chief’s grandson.  Back there, I’m just another orphan.  You won’t understand this, but for an orphan, to suddenly find I got so much family.”  

Kid bit his lip, and swallowed the lump in his throat.  

“They came looking for me you know? …When my mother died …They were told I died too ...It near broke him that they put my mother in a hole in the ground…”  

Nathaniel’s smile faltered just a bit, but he caught himself and stood tall and proud.  He’d already adopted the Indian dress.  

“Now Bidziil, if you’re a grown up now, I think you can call me Jed, don’t you?” smiled Curry at the young man stood in front of him.  He offered a hand to shake.  

Bidziil grasped the hand of the fastest gun in the West and his childhood hero, and made a heartfelt request, “Jed.  Jed …will you see Cain gets back to Yuma.  He’s real smart …He could be a lawyer or a doctor or anything he puts that big brain o’ his to, but …he’s got this temper…gets him into trouble …and I won’t be there to watch his back…”

Kids head dropped, so he could hide the rueful smile.


---ooooooOoooooo---

A week later
Camp fire, out in the hills above a small town called Ratchet, a hundred miles north east of Yuma.


“Your very quiet Cale…Cain? You missing Nat…Bidziil?” Curry passes the biscuits.  Heyes has been into town on his own, to telegraph Jenny and Louise, and Lom, and has picked up some supplies. The fresh coffee and a few other comfits, have made this campfire gathering a more cheerful prospect than of late.

“Yeah …a little I guess.  I’m real glad he found his folks though.  And his granddaddy said I could go visit anytime…”  Cain’s head dropped again and his words drifted to nothing.   Kid kicked Heyes foot and sent him a ‘Go on, tell him!’ encouraging nod.

“Errm….Caleb … Cain? There’s something the Kid and me want to tell you…” Began the owner of a silver tongue, that looked like it had deserted him.  It’s about your father …from Wyoming…”

“It’s you ain’t it …and you’re never gonna own me …cause you’re Hannibal Heyes…” mumbled Cain to his own shoes.

“No!” spat out Heyes too eagerly. 

Cain’s head shot up, “No?” he shouted too relieved and smiling.

They both looked uncomfortable.

Kid rolled his eyes; his partner looked offended, and so did Cain!  “This Johansen that ran the home before Jenny and Louise, did he have a nick name …you know like me?” he asked.

Cain smirked “Yeah …We called him ‘Fancy Hanson’ …but only behind his back ‘course.” 

Heyes smiled and Kid laughed. “That’s him. Old Fancy.”

“When we first laid eyes on you in that cell in Gela… Well there weren’t any doubt in our minds.  You look the spit of your father.  You couldn’t be anyone else’s son.  And well now you told us about Fancy; we think we gotta be right.” Heyes is smiling at Cain too, seems he’s got over the sleight to his parenting. “See, your father had a partner called Fancy Hansen …we thought he’d been shot ‘cause this one time he didn’t come back to the Hole …oh this is long before we ran things …But seems he was in Yuma …running a Boys Home.” 

Curry shook his head at his silver-tongued partner.

“What Heyes is trying to tell you, Cain, is that we think your father is our friend Preacher.”  

Cain wasn’t saying anything; he was wide eyed listening carefully.  

“See it would fit, cause Preacher’s real name is Adam, Adam Donner.  See an Adam would name his sons Cain and Abel.  Especially the Preacher, why he can quote tracts from the bible, and he’s real smart like you, quotin’ all that poetry just the same …see…”

Heyes took over. 

“He’s a doctor of divinity, got himself a proper education.  He wasn’t always an outlaw.  Him and Fancy were fond of the drink…”  

Heyes stopped under a calming hand from Kid on his arm.  Cain needed a turn.  

“So that would make me Cain Donner? And Abel’s my brother? And Abel and this Preacher are my family?” Cain was looking happier now, almost had tears in his eyes, but no fourteen-year-old boy would want me to tell you that.

“Could be, could be…” Kid smiled. “’Course the only way to know for sure, is to ask the Preacher.”

“Yeah …I got me a lot of questions for this Preacher …like why he didn’t own me …us …if’n he’s supposed to be a man of the cloth…” Cain’s temper was starting to rise.

“You think about that for a minute Cain.” Heyes fixes the lad with a cool look, his voice a low rasp.  “Preacher is a known Outlaw and member of the Devils Hole Gang …what could he have offered you?  But he got you to Yuma, safe …had Fancy take care of you …from what I heard old Fancy looked after the boys up at the Hole like an old mother hen …even did their sewing!”  

Heyes and Kid laughed, lightening the mood. It worked.

“You liked Fancy didn’t yer?” said Kid. “Didn’t think much to his replacements, Huh!”

“Yeah Old Fancy was great …He didn’t mind if you didn’t wash too much…Never asked where you’d been…”  Cain laughed, “Oh, I knew Jenny and Louise weren’t all bad …and the food certainly improved …but Josephine’s dad was gonna send her back East, and she was real upset about it…”   

Thoughts of Josephine transformed Cain’s face into a puppy dogs.  He drifted into a private dream.  The two ex-outlaws dropped their heads to their coffees, trying to hide the broad smiles on their faces.


---ooooooOoooooo---

Next day: Ratchet

“You just keep smiling Heyes, I’ll just keep taking care of business.  The business of keeping both of us outta jail.”  Curry pushes Heyes and Cain against the side wall of the Hotel as he peers round the corner into the street. 

“Grant will have told the agency, that we were last seen heading North to Devils Hole, with our latest recruits.  All those Bannerman agents will be miles away from here by now!” Heyes is rolling his eyes at Cain, who is so used to the partners by now, he just shakes his head and smiles.

“If Gaines wired the Agency, that we were on the gold train, then every Bannerman agent that was on that train, now knows what we look like.  I got a pretty good look at all of them too, so just hush up and let me check…” Kid cranes his neck in the other direction.

“Get your hands up!” comes a commanding voice from behind Heyes and Cain, who are both so startled they fall into Kids back and they all fall into the street in a swarm of arms and legs.

Loud snorting laughter, punctuated with ‘hics‘ and porcine grunts, comes from the alley.  As the boys straighten themselves out and stand up, vaguely raising their hands, the laughter gets louder and louder, till a near doubled up Harry Briscoe, waving his two pistols, emerges from the alley.

“Harry!” shout the boys together.

Harry can’t speak, I don’t mind telling you he had tears in his eyes, he is poleaxed with laughter.  

Heyes drops his hands; they find his hips and he screws up his face in chagrin, “What are you doin’ here Harry.  And that was real stupid by the way …’cause the Kid here could ‘ve killed you!”  The Kid looked a bit sheepish, he’d been on the bottom of the pile.  

Cain was looking at the three men in turn; I think he’s wondering if he’s the grown up.  Kid takes charge and bundles them all into a saloon.  Cain can’t believe his luck, till a glass of milk is placed in front of him. The others get beer.

“I’m working for Josephine’s uncle again.” Explains Harry. “He sent me to look for young Cain here” Harry fixes the youngster with a smile he saves for babies and old ladies. “And here he is safe and sound.”

“Yeah! ‘Cause we found him!” Heyes waves a gloved finger between himself and Kid. “WE busted him out of jail, WE saved him from a posse, WE rescued him from Indians…”  Cain makes to protest, but is silenced by a Curry gloved hand placed heavily on his arm.  “And YOU wouldn’t be here now, if Louise hadn’t told you where to find us, because WE sent her a telegram would you Harry?”

“Well boys …shall we call it a hundred dollars’ finder’s fee?” Harry smiles.

“Two hundred” states Heyes.

“Apiece!” states Curry. 

Harry counts out the money.

Cain smiles, he’s catching on. “You’re a real detective …and you know who these two are?” asks Cain quietly. 

“Why these boys have helped crack some of my biggest cases…” started Harry.

“So the Governor really has promised you amnesty….” Cain finds Curry’s hand across his mouth. “Will you just shut up ….and drink yer milk!” he admonishes.

They all take a long drink.  

“Why does the uncle want you to find Cain, Harry?” asks Curry, lifting his beer to toast their earnings, with Heyes.

“Well, he heard what this fine young man did, coming to the rescue of his wife’s niece that way, saving her respectability, as it were …well I think he’s keen to thank him in some way.” Harry slaps Cain on the back and into his milk. 

Cain sputters, eyes watering …only a bit of course.

“Well now, Harry…” Heyes fishes into his jacket, “Why don’t you show him this, I saw it in a newspaper a week or so back.  It’s a scholarship to a fine school, not far from Carson City, might be a fitting thank you for a bright boy like our Cain here.”

“Carson City, Heyes,” smiled Curry “Isn’t that close to where Josephine was headed?”.

“OH …I think it just might be.” Confirmed Heyes with a twinkle in his dark eyes, dimple set to full.

Cain, wiping milk off his top lip, beams a huge joyful smile. 


---ooooooOoooooo---

Ratchet Train Station Platform
Harry and Cain are boarding a train to Yuma


Curry is shaking the youngsters hand.  Heyes pats him on the back and hands him a letter.

“Give this to Jenny for us.  I’ve tried to explain about Nat …Bidziil …but I wouldn’t be around when she opens it.”  Both partners shake their heads with ‘really, don’t be there’ looks in their eyes.

“You’re welcome any time in Carson City Boys” smiles Harry “Though, of course, I’m spending a lot of my time in Yuma …these days…” He’s just bursting to share his news with the boys.  Heyes keeps him hanging there for just a little while, enjoying the joke with Kid, till he sees the train start to move, then, raising his eyebrows he makes the smallest of enquiries towards Harry, “mmm?”

“Miss Louise Carson has agreed to walk out with me!” bursts Harry, eyes twinkling with pride.

“Hah!” explodes Kid “That’s just fine Harry …just fine!” 

Heyes beams his assent and the boys wave off the train as they see Harry and Cain slip inside the last carriage.


THE END
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Yuma - In four episodes - Episode Four (7,500 words)
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