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 The Leap (2300 words) ....very early outlaw days

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Cal

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Join date : 2016-10-21

PostSubject: The Leap (2300 words) ....very early outlaw days   Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:58 am

---oooOOOooo---
The Leap
by Cal


---oooOOOooo---

Two sweaty horses danced at the edge of a deep ravine, their desperate riders searching the horizon for hope of escape from a seemingly tireless, tenacious posse. 

“What?!? …You’ve got to be kidding me……HEYES…. There’s no way …. AW COME ON … You can’t mean it… I mean… IT CAN’T BE DONE!  That’s not possible. These are good horses… sure… well … were good horses… till we near run them to death… But that’s gotta be… I don’t know… at least…“ 

Jed Curry swung his arm expansively across the void, failing to calculate its width in his head.  He looked back over his shoulder, hardly able to believe what his partner, and older cousin had just suggested.  Then his partner’s actions cut him off, short.

“HEYES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”

Hannibal Heyes was out of the saddle, flinging his possessions at the far side of the yawning chasm.  First his bedroll flew, then his rope, then his canteen.

“Lightening the load! Come on Kid …we don’t have too much time…”

“What?!? Are you crazy?!? We can’t jump that.  That’s… that’s… That’d be like suicide …A few pounds ain’t gonna make no difference… HAN ...HEYES! … WILL YOU JUST WAIT A MINUTE?!?”

Heyes had his saddle un-cinched and was swinging it to and fro, to get enough momentum to fling the heavy leather over the precipice.  Kid leapt from his own saddle, and grabbed at the flying stirrups to prevent the throw.

“This is crazy… you know this is crazy…”

Heyes glared into Kid’s face, shaking the saddle loose from Kid’s grip, and flinging it, with all his temper and strength, to the other side of the ravine.  He knew it was crazy; he just didn’t see they had a choice. Kid would see it too, but by then it may be too late.  The saddle landed heavily on the rim of the far side.  They both watched, with held breaths, as it slipped further towards the edge and came to rest, snagged on an out crop of rock, half hanging over the long drop. 

Heyes snorted, satisfied it wouldn’t fall further.  Then he turned on his reticent cousin. Jed was as tall as him now, but whip thin.

“Alright Kid…. What do you want to do?  Wait here …and shoot it out? OR .. Give ourselves up …and may be …spend the rest of our lives in prison?  BUT I ASK YOU ... YOU GOTTA THINK… they’ll probably decide the bounty’s safer if they just shoot us … ‘cause dead men don’t escape so easy… I didn’t want to tell you this yet Kid …but there’s new dodgers out on us now… They say $2,000 dead or alive!”

“Why? We ain’t killed no one” shouted a shocked Kid, getting up in Heyes’ face like it was his fault.

Heyes pushed Kid away from him.

“Well we sure wave guns around like we mean to shoot someone, don’t you think, Kid … HUH?! Maybe the Law’s just assumed we already used them.  NOW COME ON.  We both know there’s only one way this ends…What you waitin’ fer? A bridge …to magically appear for us? …Or a path may be…. down there …to suddenly open up… and invite us for coffee!“ 

He pointed down the ravine, just feet away from his boots.

“YOU THINK I WANT TO MAKE THAT LEAP?!?”

Heyes turned away, gathering up the mare’s reins.

“BUT… but …there’s gotta be another way…” grunted Kid, more to himself than Heyes.

Kid looked confused and panicked.  He looked up and down the ridge.  This here was the narrowest point.  The ravine opened up wider, both ways.  He looked over the edge, and shook his head at the long drop onto sharp rocks.  Looked at the far side, which was higher than this side, and groaned. There didn’t seem to be no soft-landing place either.  He tried one last appeal to Heyes.

“It’s just not possible… They just can’t make that jump…” he said flinging an arm towards the horses, whose sides were wheezing like bellows.   

“There’s just HAS TO BE another way…”

Heyes took his bulging saddle bag off his shoulder and pushed it up on the chestnut mare’s neck. His eyes closed as he steeled up all his resolve, turning back to his reticent partner.

“Well there ain’t! …There ain’t, OK Kid… There’s only one way this plays out if we don’t jump …and I for one… am not getting shot dead… and I sure ain’t going to prison anytime soon neither… “

Heyes looked at Kid, stood with one gloved hand covering his mouth, trying hard to hold in the panic.  Kid had never looked so out of place, so young.  Not since they’d quit Soapy’s outfit and started robbing for themselves.  Heyes had gotten fed up of playing the monkey; he was sure he should be the organ grinder.  What with all that they’d seen and done, it was easy for Heyes to forget that his younger cousin was still just a very young man, nothing at all like the trail-hardened outlaw described on their wanted dodgers. 

Kid didn’t deserve any of this.  None of it had been his idea. He was only here because Heyes had known, knew for certain, that he could open that safe, and then of course, he’d had to go and prove it to himself.  This was bigger than any of their previous raids.  There was more money in that bank than either of them had ever seen before.  

Heyes stroked the saddlebag of bank notes lovingly.  Well if he was gonna die, he was gonna die a rich man. He just had to get Kid mad enough at him, to follow him, first.

“I’m not saying YOU have to do this… YOU COULD TRY TELLING ‘EM YOU’RE YOUNGER THAN YOU ARE … YOU CERTAINLY LOOK IT! … TELL ‘EM I PUT YOU UP TO IT … THEY MIGHT EVEN BELIEVE YOU … I’m just sayin’ …I’m doing it…” 

He spat the words into Kid’s face.

“I …worked hard planning that raid… I …worked hard opening that safe… and now… I … intend to work hard …spending my money… I would leave you half …but its not like you’ll get spend it …not if you’re in prison …or dead….”

He patted the mares neck, then grabbed some mane and jumped back on board, bare back.

“She can do this… I got a lot of faith in her …I know she can do it… and times getting short…”

Kid growled with disapproval and frustration, balling up his fists.  He looked back down the steep bank they’d climbed.  He knew for certain the dogged posse would be turning up here to follow them anytime soon.

Heyes was slowly walking the mare back away from the edge to get a run up. 

“AGHHHH!” screamed Kid, at his infuriating cousin’s back.  Why did Heyes always have to be right!  

He untied his bed roll and flung it at the far side of the ravine to hit Heyes’, like a bizarre game of bar billiards.  The canteen went over next, then the rope and saddle bags.  The saddle fell to the floor, and Kid let out another huge feral scream as he launched it too, towards the far bank.

“AND YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH NO BETTER IDEA THAN THAT?!…” he shouted at Heyes’ back.  “You’re always tellin’ me how you’re some kind of genius …and all you can come up with is …suicide… THAT’S IT… THAT’S ALL YOU GOT… LET’S JUMP …A NEAR IMPOSSIBLE… THAT’S ALL YOU GOT!”

He smoothed the big blacks neck then flung himself onto the horse’s back, all the time muttering through clenched teeth.

“What’s the use of having a silver tongue or that big brain of yours …if you can’t come up with nothing better …than a blind leap of faith? … you’re sure she can do it … well that’s just dandy …coz I ain’t at all sure he can…”

He began walking the black towards Heyes. 

Heyes, with his back to Kid, was staring intently back down the way they’d come, trying to judge how long he could give the horses to blow before that posse got back within rifle range.

“You could always try growing some wings…” he growled distractedly without turning his head.  

As soon as he’d seen Kid start flinging his possessions, he knew he’d won the argument, he also knew the best thing to do was now was ignore to Kid’s grumbling and let him get it out of his system.  A small cloud of dust below got his attention.

“They’re coming.”

Kid came along side Heyes, and followed the pointing finger to the dust cloud at the bottom of the climb. 

“Humph!” he snorted, glaring at Heyes.

“We are going to be in range of their rifles in about five minutes… “said Heyes quietly.  “Well Kid …This is it …You been tellin’ me that horse could get you out of anything.  You ready to put that to the test?”

Heyes held Kid’s gaze for a second.  He saw the fear mixed with the resolve. He could see clearly that his younger cousin realised they’d run out of choices. 

There was no choice at all.  

There was a deafening silence.  Each rider could only hear the pounding of their own heart in their ears.

Kid returned Heyes’ stare.  He could see plain as day his older cousin was scared and desperate, but he could also see Heyes’d decided to do this thing, and nothing was gonna stop him. 

Slowly they wheeled the horse’s heads around to face the edge. 

Kid stared back to Heyes for just a second more, then, from deep within his belly a wordless cry started to rise and broke loose.  He dug in his spurs and strapped the reins on the black’s neck, his lips setting in a feral snarl as the horse leapt to full gallop towards the rim.  Heyes sprang to life beside him, whooping up his mare and sending her plunging towards the precipice at the black’s side. 

In just a few strides of dust and fury, the eerie silence returned, as the animals flew through the air in a desperate attempt to reach the far side.  

Kid’s eyes appeared to be shut, but Heyes glued his eyes open, watching in slow motion as the far bank slid underneath his mare’s front hooves and she sank almost to her knees on impact.  He twisted sideways and grabbed at the Blacks head behind him, barely snagging up a piece of thin leather of the horses’ bridle with his outstretched gloved fingers.  The mare’s momentum carried her forward climbing back up onto her feet, and the Black scrabbled his hind hooves behind him, just catching enough rock and ground to push himself up and onto the bank behind her.

Kid clung to the neck of his horse muttering every swear word he could think of into its mane.

“Of all the cock-eyed, ridiculous, half-brained…” was the gist of it.

Heyes was already on the ground, snatching up his belongings, throwing on the saddle.  There was no time to let Kid dwell on the near death experience.

“COME ON KID… MOVE!  NOW!” he barked. “We gotta clear outta here …They won’t follow …but that sure won’t stop them shooting at us!”

Kid fell off the black’s back and drunkenly mirrored his cousin, gathering all his Worldly possessions and attaching them back on the blessed animal that had just saved his life.  He was still muttering profanities, his head shaking, his eyes half closed, his hand’s shaking.  

Before he’d finished, Heyes was up on his mare again and already on the move towards the horizon.  A couple of distant rifle shots was all Kid needed to get him re-focussed, and rapidly on Heyes’ heels.

---oooOOOooo---

Later that evening

“How much money we got Heyes?” smiled a weary Jed Curry.

“You know money isn’t everything, Kid. There’s more to life than money” teased Heyes.  “Look at all this lovely nature we got all around us … The clouds up there …kissing the mountains so pretty…”

“How much!?” groaned a unbemused Kid. “Tell me again.”

“Four … thousand … nine … hundred … fifty-three … dollars …and … thirty-seven cents…” smiled Heyes.  “Sounds good, don’t it kid?”

“Sure does, Heyes … sure does… and it means we never have to rob another bank, do we? ...  That’s enough fer us to live on … fer ever, right Heyes? You were brilliant opening that safe… No more robbing … and no more leaps of faith! …right? I couldn’t do that again…” said Jed dreamily.

His eyes were closing in the saddle. 

Heyes pulled up and stared back at him. 

Time to make camp.

He dropped his head with a huge sigh, Kid wasn’t cut out for this kind of life.  He’d have to find him a place; somewhere with a job maybe. 

Somewhere safe. 

Heyes knew, with more certainty than even Kid himself, that Kid’s life had hung on the width of a pair of worn-out, old leather gloves that afternoon.  If he hadn’t of snagged up the black’s bridle and pulled when he did, that big horse would never have made it up that bank. 

Kid would be gone.  

And for what? Just shy of five thousand dollars. 

No. 

It wasn’t worth it. The risks were too high. 

What he needed to do was ...join a much bigger gang …of real outlaws, and go after the really big pots! …Mine pay rolls!... Silver and Gold bullion! 

Heyes’ eyes danced with the possibilities.

But most importantly…
                  ….he’d be leaving Kid out of it.

---oooOOOooo---
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