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 Prequel to Barber of Sherville - #1 Devine Depression ...2,800 words

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Cal

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Join date : 2016-10-21

PostSubject: Prequel to Barber of Sherville - #1 Devine Depression ...2,800 words   Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:05 pm

This ones a bit different in that it arrived in three short sections....

---oooOOOooo---
DEVINE DEPRESSION
By Cal

---oooOOOooo---


Heyes sat with his back to the wall where he could see all the comings and goings from under the brim of his hat.  To the casual observer, he appeared to be sleeping.  When Kid Curry entered the stage waiting room, he knew better. 

” What’s the next town North?” he asked the rather distracted clerk behind the counter.  The clerk was preparing the mail for the stage’s imminent arrival.  Coughing from the corner, occupied by the sleeping one under the shabby black hat, gave Curry pause. 

“I mean South …next town South” he smiled without a twitch towards his partner.

“South’s Planesville, North would be Thelma Rocks. I can sell you a ticket to either one, but if you’re bound for Thelma, you’ll need to wait till Thursday!” 

“Planesville.” Kid said laconically “How much to Planesville?”

Kid scraped his coins together and handed them over.  He went to sit in the opposite corner to his partner, also facing the door.  He didn’t have long to wait, within the hour the stage could be heard pulling up outside, in the midmorning heat and dust.

Both ‘sleepers’ watched the disembarkation of four passengers.  Pulses remained slow and steady until the last passenger, sporting a big shiny star of the Marshals office, jumped down from the stage and made the couple of wooden steps to the ticket office in one easy movement.  

“Any telegrams for me Ralph… No… well if any come in for me, I’ll be over with Sheriff Louden.”

“Sure thing Marshal.  You gonna be in town long?”

“Not sure yet, Ralph.  No need to hold the stage on my account though, I’m sure these gentlemen wont thank me for any delay in their departure.” 

Slouching further and quiet snoring from Heyes, no movement at all from Curry, in fact he’s gone rigid. 

“Well …If what I’ve heard is correct, I could be riding out o’ here as part of a big posse.  You might consider joining us too Ralph.  Can’t say anything for sure yet, o’ course, but if the rumours are true, we’re talking very sizable rewards.”

The stage driver came in to collect the mail, tipping his hat to the Marshal at the door.  “Load up folks” he shouted into the room in general. “This all I got Ralph, just these two?  Well it’s sure gonna be a quiet hop to Planesville.” He shook his head at his seemingly fast asleep passengers. “Rise and shine gentlemen, time to load up …I’ve already stashed your gear up top.” 

The partners both stood up, very slowly, stretching and yawning and taking a sweet old time to cross the floor of the office, giving the Marshal time to turn on his heel and bound down the steps to head across the street.  Then, they quickly hopped down the couple of wooden steps to fling themselves into the back of the waiting coach.  They slumped back on the benches opposite each other, with their hats pulled so low, they were in danger of cutting off the blood supply to their brains.  

They each sat crossed everything, shoulders hunched, until finally they heard the driver rasstle up the team to a slow jog down main street.  They watched from under their hat brims, as they passed the sheriff’s office, where the Kid had already spotted two sheriffs and a deputy that new them, and headed South

Kid blew out a very long breath, removing his hat and running his fingers back through his blond curls.  “Marshall Munton as well! What was that! A law man’s convention! You wouldn’t see that much tin in a tin mine! Sheesh, what if we’d gone fer a drink before checking out the Sheriff’s office?”  His eyes closed as he shook his head.  “That was too close Heyes.”

“We ain’t out of the woods yet Kid.  You heard what that marshal said ‘very sizable rewards’.  Someone’s spotted us. They’re rounding up a big posse full of lawmen, probably get one of them apache trackers too…” Heyes swallows, looking out at the rough terrain rushing by, “We’re as good as…”

“Heyes?” Kid got his attention. “He might not have been talking about us.  There are other outlaws out there with big rewards on their heads, and we ain’t robbed anything in years. Could’o been talkin’ about anyone.”

“Didn’t you think it was kinda strange that four lawmen, who all know what we look like, should meet up in one place?” Heyes looked really shaken and down, he didn’t meet Kid’s eyes but went back to staring out at the scrubby vegetation rushing by. 

‘Heyes had gotten really twitchy lately, not sleeping …well that didn’t mean much on its own, not eating regular …ok…that didn’t mean much either, but he couldn’t settle, couldn’t relax …alright!’ thought Kid ‘There was just something different about Heyes that Kid couldn’t put his finger on …but it bothered him!’

“What do you think we should do Heyes?”

“Nothing …yet” Heyes stared up into the mountains rising up on the other side of the plain.  “Maybe it’s time we tried our hands at prospecting again.  We been spending an awful lot of time around people lately, not surprising really if someone recognises us, if we keep showing our faces round towns.  We’ll have to leave the stage at one of the way stations, I’ll think o’ something…”

Kid Curry followed Heyes gaze to the mountains, they looked inviting for once.  Heyes was right, they had been spending a lot of time in towns of late.  They’d got a couple of jobs on a ranch just the other side of Planesville that had earnt them the little that had fed them, and bought them beds for the last couple of months. But they’d had to leave those jobs suddenly, when a card cheat had caused trouble for Heyes, and Kid had had to stand up against him.

There weren’t any jobs to be had in the last three towns they’d tried and their funds had quickly diminished.  These two stage tickets had nearly wiped them out.  The horses had gone weeks ago.  They’d been hopping freight trains till they landed up at that last town, but, finding it crawling with law, they weren’t too willing to wait on another train coming through. A stage was leaving the same day, so here they were, heading back South towards Planesville.  One thing they knew for sure, there wouldn’t be a welcome nor any jobs to be had in Planesville.

---oooOOOooo---

“How are we going to afford horses, and panning gear and food and …everything, Heyes? We ain’t got no money.”

Heyes smiled, but even that smile looked sad to the Kid.  

Heyes liked it when Kid didn’t argue, it meant he’d figured out all the angles for himself and come to the same conclusion.  They had nowhere to go round here, best to high tail it to the hills and live off the land for a bit.  Hope that soon, opportunity would find them again. 

Heyes had been doing a lot of brooding of late.  

He was nearly half way through his thirties; half of his ‘three score years and ten’ were gone.  Going for the amnesty had robbed him of any achievements he felt he could still own.  Riding freight trains, between towns with no work, just like all the other nobodies, had left him feeling …numb.  And yet his face was still that of a notorious outlaw, his name one of legend …none of which made him feel any less …adrift.  He sighed heavily.  

“Don’t know yet Kid, I’m workin’ on it though.”  

Was he? What did he have to work with? No money, they couldn’t really show their faces back in Planesville.  He looked at the wide blue sky.  At least the weather looked to be on their side.  Is that what he had left to work with, the weather?

“I’ll think of something, Kid”

An old newspaper had fallen under the bench opposite him, and it caught his eye.  The banner headline read ‘Drought Stranglehold Continues.’ 

His brow furrowed …a tiny light dawned in the brain of the legendary criminal mastermind, and somewhere in that head of his, Hannibal Heyes, once great leader of the Devils Hole Gang and one of the most successful outlaws that the West had ever known, was desperately fanning the flame to reignite the genius’ self-confidence. 

---oooOOOooo---

PRESENT: Out on the plane, still on foot and a long, long way from the mountains

“Give it up Heyes” 

Curry purses his lips pushing away from the side of the barn. He takes another look at the falling sun, then back to his prancing partner and shakes his head.  Whatever Heyes has cooked up with the ranch owner, whilst he’d split logs, it mostly seemed to consist of a lot of walking and sighing, wasn’t working, and was real boring to watch.

“Just give it up Heyes …it’s never going to work. Whatever it is you thought you was doin’.”

Heyes has his eyes closed, he refuses to acknowledge that the Kid is even speaking.  

‘The book he’d read back in town, whilst laying low, waiting on that stage, said all he had to do was just hold these damned rods and walk in a straight line.  Well that’s what he’s doing; it’s what he’d been doing ever since noon, how hard could it be to hold two rods and walk in a straight line?  He was a near genius after all!  Closest thing here abouts, anyways.’  

Heyes’ newly-rediscovered, if fragile, self-confidence is in peril of shattering.  He pushes his eyes shut tighter.

‘What else did that book say? Two copper rods, straight line …Clear the mind of all thought.  Ahhh! …that’s a might trickier, especially for a near genius.’

Heyes lets out a long sigh and drops his aching arms. He’s been holding them rigid in front of himself, tramping up and down this field behind the ranch house    …thinking     …how this had better work out, or they were both going to be in for a very long walk across a dry dessert

‘That was enough to keep anyone’s mind occupied, accept…’

“Come here Kid, I want to ask you a question.”

Curry makes an ‘alright’ face and strides languidly over to his exasperating partner.  At least the genius had caught an interest in something at last …whatever it was? And seemed a lot more animated than of late...

“What?”

“When you’re in a gun fight, just before you have to make the fast draw…”

“Yeah?”

“What goes through your mind?” 

Heyes’ eyes are riveted on the blond gunslinger’s face, his interest wrapped.  Kid was gonna make a light quip, but can see the earnest in Heyes’ eyes.  He looks a little confused at first but then applys himself to the question.  He takes up the gunnie stance, his right hand hovering over the butt of the colt, while he considers the question.  His eyes move fractionally in thought, then open wider in enlightenment.  He nods to himself.

“Well?  What are you thinking about just before you fast draw on someone?” encourages Heyes eagerly, seeing his younger cousin has an answer.

“Nothin’.” Says Kid. “Absolutely nothin’. I shut everything out.  It’s all about me, him and the guns.”

“That’s it! That’s it! That’s what I been missin’. It ain’t me that’s a water witch, Kid …Its you!”

“A witch …What!?!” Kid looks really insulted. “You gonna find out real soon what you’re thinking when I fast draw, ‘less you take that back.”

Heyes laughs the threat off lightly.

“It’s a thing …errrm …a person …Do you remember our daddies callin’ in old Bert …the water witch …he was kinda wild and scary looking …when they needed a new well dug, in the far fields?”

“He was a witch!?! …He gave me the creeps …My brothers said he used small boy’s bones in death potions, and I believed them!  I hid.”

“Well I didn’t …and I watched him real close …he definitely called it witching …and I think you got a real talent for it.”

“Based on what exactly?”

“Years and years of practice …at not thinkin’!” Heyes proclaimed triumphantly.  “Kid, you’re practically an expert!”

“Hey! …I don’t claim to be no genius or nothin’…but I do my share o’ thinkin’ …”  Kid sets his jaw, daring Heyes to make a quip at that.

“But not when you’re in a gun fight …right? …And who do we know, been in more gun fights than soft beds? …Come on Kid …you’re like some sort of …master of not thinkin’ …That’s a real talent! …This could be as useful to us as your fast draw!” 

Heyes is obviously genuinely thrilled about something.  

Kid is confused, but a bit proud too, that his genius cousin thinks he may have a really useful talent, if only he can figure out what it is. “You think?” he manages.

“I do, I do!” Nods Heyes. “Now all we gotta figure out, is how to harness your talent and get it working for us.”

“Ok!” beams Kid, this sounds like Heyes has come up with a plan to get them out of the hole they’re in. “What do you want me to do?”

“Ok. You gotta take one of these rods in each hand, loosely, like this see.  Then you got to focus on that fencepost over there …and imagine it’s some no good punk …that’s just called you out.  All you got to do is, stop your thinking, and walk towards it.”

“What do I do with these?” asks Kid waving the rods.

“Well …that’s where I come in.  While you’re walking and not thinking, I’m watchin’ …and thinkin’ for both of us.” Heyes’ eyes are wide in revelation “It’s what I do best after all!” He has a huge dimpled beam on his face. “Go on, go on, …and remember, stop thinkin’.”

Kid regards the fence post across the field     …thinking.      His eyebrows are giving him away.

Heyes can see Kid thinking, just by looking at his face. He swallows the remark that has sprung to his silver tongue.  He closes his eyes, head shaking.

“Who do you think it is, Heyes?”

“I don’t know!” Heyes has been at this a long time already.  He looks at the rapidly sinking sun and reigns in his temper, covering his mouth with a gloved hand     …thinking.       “It’s that punk that called me out as a cheat in Planesville, last week. Remember him?  Real loud and real ugly.”

“I remember him…” Kid glares at the fence post.  With rods held like pointing pistols, he slowly walks towards his enemy.  I don’t know what the fence post was thinking, seeing the fastest gun in the west stalking across the field towards it.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

---oooOOOooo---
At the far side of the field

“Why did you stop?” asks Heyes, looking at his cousin stood stock still facing the chosen fence post.  

Kid pulled from his pseudo-gunfight, non-thinking trance, looks at Heyes confused for a second.  “Well this is the right range …to shoot from” he explains.

“Hah!” laughs Heyes, looking at Kid like he’s never seen him before much to Kid’s annoyance.  “No …no you did that really well.  I just never thought about how well you do that before …Kid, you’re remarkable…” 

“Do what, Heyes?” Kid is clueless.

Heyes chuckles.  “You really don’t know do you?” He’s smiling, his relief lighting up his face.  “Well I tell you what, why don’t we just walk you over here, and see if you can do it again…”

Heyes grabs Kid by the arm and drags him to the fence way off to their left.  He points at another fence post and sets the gunslinger off on a perpendicular path to the first.  Again, Heyes catches up as Kid comes to a halt, facing the second quailing post.  

Heyes is shaking his head and looking at his gunslinger partner and younger cousin with new eyes.  “Kid …you’re a real natural …You just might be the answer to all our problems …and we never even suspected.” He laughs heartily.

Kid’s eyebrows are set to maximum confusion.

“Tomorrow Kid …I’ll explain everything tomorrow ...but for now, we’re expected for supper over at the ranch house!”

As the boys walk towards the house in the fading light, Heyes with a proud arm slung across Kids shoulders, a small cairn of stones can be seen piled at the centre of a cross drawn in the dust.

---oooOOOooo---
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