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 Making Hay

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PostSubject: Making Hay   Mon May 01, 2017 8:26 am

Time for a new challenge and it's a fine summery one for May Day. Your mission, if you choose to accept it is to give us your take on the topic


Making Hay
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Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before moving on to May as comments are the only thanks our writers get.  
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PostSubject: Re: Making Hay   Fri May 12, 2017 5:22 pm

       
The sky was brilliant blue, matching the eyes shaded by a floppy brown hat. Fluffy white clouds were scattered throughout.  The sky was unending, a large cerulean bowl overhead. The land was flat and covered by undulating waves of grass, running to the far horizon.


"Heyes, where are we?"
   
Brown eyes under a tattered black hat squinted. "I think Colorado still, Kid."


"Looks like Kansas to me."


"Yeah, me too, but I don't think we're that far east of Limon."


"Sure is a pretty day."


The scowl stayed under the black hat.


"Oh, come on, Heyes. It ain't too warm. It ain't raining. And I don't see a cyclone."


"Oh, well then. Ain't life going grand for us?" The black hat was pulled further down.


The two riders continued for some time in silence.


"You're just still upset about that riverboat gambler pulling a fast one on you."


"I was ahead two thousand dollars!"


"And you got cocky, didn'tcha, Heyes?"


The sun had started to settle in the west and the day was starting to cool off.  A few darker clouds had appeared on the horizon.


"What was that you were saying about a cyclone, Kid?  What's that dark thing on the horizon below the clouds?"


Blue eyes squinted. " Looks like a soddy to me."


"Out here?" Heyes put his hand to the brim of his hat.  "How can you see that?  It's too far."


"I can see it."  Curry glanced at his partner and a smug smile crossed his face. "I keep telling you, Heyes, you're getting old.  Your eyes must be going."


"What you wanna bet that's not a soddy?" Heyes challenged.


"Well, it's actually a soddy and probably a lean-to for animals."


"Oh, come on, Kid.  You cannot see that."  Heyes tipped his hat up and stared at his cousin, with a sarcastic smile on his face, then looked back to the horizon, where dark shapes were visible.


"Guess we'll see."  The Kid smiled.


A half an hour later, as the gloaming came upon them, they arrived at a tidy homestead, with what looked like a home, barn, and chicken coop beyond.  Kid Curry grinned at his partner, who gave him a sour look, but then turned his full smile upon the couple who greeted them as they approached.  The man held a shotgun and had a wary hound by his side, but the gun was pointed at the ground, and the dog was well behaved.


"Howdy, folks!"  Heyes began. " My partner and I have need of a place to sleep for the night.  You wouldn't have room in the barn, now would you?"


"What you boys doing way out here?" The man was cautious but not unfriendly.


"Just traveling through. Headed towards Lamar for a job."


"You boys ever do any haying?" 


"We're from Kansas originally, sir, so yes."  The Kid smiled and pushed his hat up with a finger, so his blue eyes sparked in the setting sunlight. 


"Well, we could use some help getting some hay in. If you can help us for a day or two, we'd be very happy to feed you and let you stay in the barn. Would let you stay in the soddy but...well there ain't much room.  Might even be able to pay you some."


As most of their funds had gone to the duplicitous gambler, Heyes and Curry had little choice.


"We'd be right grateful, folks." Heyes smiled.


"I'd ask for your guns, boys, but there's critters that come around at night at times, so you might need them.  We got your word you'll behave?"


"You've got mine." Heyes readily agreed.  


"And mine," Curry promised.


"Well, then. Come join us for supper. It ain't fancy but my wife does wonders with corn meal and beans."




*****


They boys stayed on with the Johnsons until the haying was finished.  The barn became tight quarters as it was stored, but the boys didn't mind. It was nice to spend time with such a kind family, after all their run ins with so many shady folks of the west.


The day before they were gonna leave, they were storing the last bales in the barn.  Clouds had gathered on the horizon during the afternoon, and the wind was picking up.


"Glad we finished in time."  Heyes looked out the door as the rain front swept across the yard.


"Glad we aren't out in that." The Kid stood in the doorway feeling the cooling breeze of the rain, and watching lightening flash in the sky, as the thunder rumbled.


"Guess this worked out best for all of us."  Heyes stood beside his partner.


"Maybe hard work is better than being cheated at playing cards?"


Heyes scowled.  "Kid, you know playing poker can be strenuous at times.  It takes a lot of concentration.   It can even be hard on the back if it goes on and you sit there too long."


Kid Curry just gave his partner a look.  "Heyes, you must really be getting old if you can't even sit at a poker game all night."


Hannibal Heyes tried to look offended, but then just smiled.  He stretched his back, and said, "Might not be a bad idea to let my scything muscles get a rest, and let my shuffling muscles get a work out again. Can't get too much out of practice."


Curry's attention shifted from his partner to the horizon outside.  He became still and Heyes picked up on his change of attitude.


"What, Kid?"  Heyes was immediately alert too.


"Over there." The Kid pointed.  "What do you see?"


"Besides rain?" Heyes peered through the wind.


"Yeah.  There." The Kid pointed.  " It's coming closer."


Heyes now saw the funnel cloud bearing down on them.


They looked at each other.  "The root cellar," Heyes said, and the Kid nodded.


They ran through the wind driven rain to the soddy and banged on the door. 


"There's a cyclone coming!" Heyes yelled and pointed. "We need to get into the root cellar!"


Heyes and Curry hurriedly herded the Johnsons down into the cave like room and pulled the door shut.  It took both of them to hold it until Mr. Johnson braced it with a broom handle.  They huddled in the dark, with the wind howling like a train running past the door.  It seemed like hours, but probably was only minutes.  Then all they heard was the rain.  Mrs. Johnson lit a lantern she kept there and they got the children to settle for the night.


At first light, they emerged to see what if anything was left.


The soddy roof was damaged, but it was mainly intact.  The chicken coop was nowhere to be found, but a couple of the chickens huddled in the doorway of the soddy. The barn looked to have been untouched.


Mr. Johnson shook his head and said, "Guess the Good Lord protected us for being industrious and making hay while the sun was shining."


*****


The boys stayed with the Johnsons long enough to help fix up the soddy and cobble up a coop for the remaining chickens.  As they were leaving Mr. Johnson insisted on paying them.


“Now, boys, you know you can use this cash,” Mr. Johnson handed them enough money for a poker stake in the next town, as long as the buy in wasn't too big.


“But Mr. Johnson, your family needs it more,” Heyes tried to hand it back.  “Heck, Thaddeus has eaten more than his share of Mrs. Johnson’s cornbread and beans, since they were as tasty as you promised.”


“The misses was just happy to have her good food appreciated.”  Mr. Johnson smiled, forcing Heyes to take the money.  “The Good Lord knows, if it weren’t for your warning about the cyclone, we might have all been gone.  What good would this money have done us then?”


Heyes graciously gave in, and the boys were soon on their way across the plains of waving grasses.


*****


A couple days later, the sky was again a brilliant blue, with fluffy clouds from horizon to horizon. The boys were both in a good mood.


“Kind of makes you wonder, don’t it, Kid?”  Heyes was smiling and enjoying the wind whispering through the grass.


“’Bout what, Heyes?”


“Why we were there, when they needed us.”


“We were there because I could see the soddy.”


Heyes turned to look at his cousin, his eyes narrowing.  “Here we were enjoying this wonderful day, and that’s what you bring up?”


“Well, Heyes, it’s somethin’ we have to be thinkin’ about.”


“And what is that?”


“If your sight is goin’, might eventually not be able to see the spots on a poker deck.”  The Kid grinned widely under the brim of his brown hat.


“Kid, the day I can’t see the cards in a poker deck, I promise to leave all the thinkin’ to you.”  Heyes turned to glare at his cousin, but Curry was staring at the horizon.  “Oh, what’ve you spotted now?  Cougars?  Prairie dogs?”


“No, I think Lamar.”  He smiled at his partner.  “As good as them beans and cornbread were, I need me a big juicy steak and a couple of beers.”


The boys spurred on their horses.


*****


The boys were relaxing in their room after a pleasant night at the saloon.  Heyes had done well at the poker table, and bought them both juicy steak dinners, and several beers.  


The Kid was cleaning his gun, and Heyes was reading the local newspaper.  He set it aside, with a thoughtful look.  Curry just waited.


“Kid.”


“Yeah, Heyes.”


“I won enough tonight, that I was thinkin’ of wiring some of it back to the Johnsons.  You see any problem with that?”


“No, no problem at all, Heyes.”


“Well, then, we’ll do that in the morning before we head out on that job.”


The Kid finished cleaning his gun, and started on Heyes’.


“You don’t need to do that, Kid.”


“I know.  Just making hay.”


“What?”


“Just like the saying, what Mr. Johnson said, making hay while the sun shines?  I’m taking advantage of the time to make certain your gun works when we need it, if we need it.”  He looked up at his cousin with a serious look.  “Just like the Johnsons made the best of two strangers showing up, to get their hay in.  Just like we took the money they gave us to make more, and pay them back.”  The Kid continued cleaning.


“And here I joked once, saying you were a people’s philosopher.”  Heyes smiled at his partner.  Curry glanced back at Heyes, not certain if he was serious or not.


“This going straight is really changing us, ain’t it, Kid?”  Heyes did look serious.



“Yeah, Heyes, I think it is.”
         
          
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PostSubject: Re: Making Hay   Yesterday at 6:18 am

I've shoe-horned this a bit to fit the prompt... If you already read this part... the additions are greyed out. Calx 


Making Hay
 
Along came a Spider #2

“Well… Did you find anything?” Heyes asked Kid, sourly.

Jamerson was now a black speck in the heat haze, crossing the bare expanse of desert scrub between this rocky outcrop they were trapped in, and the far away, linear horizon
.  That big sky reminded Heyes of the wide-open skies over the Kansan fields, where he’d helped his Pa bring in the hay as a boy.
 
Wasn’t a blade of grass out there.
 
The dust plume, thrown up by the horse’s feet, formed an ominous pointer to the Bounty Hunter’s position.  

Heyes hadn’t taken his eyes off their former captor’s approach.  He scowled out at Jamerson with cold loathing.

  
He’d told Kid that he had a plan, as they’d fought for control of their getaway horse.  Kid had wanted to keep going, put as many miles between them and the bounty hunter as they could.  But he’d acquiesced to Heyes’ insistence, to head for this lone island of rock, in a sea of desert.  

Heyes didn’t have a plan… 

Yet.


They needed to muster their resources. See what it was, they had to work with. 
 
It wasn’t much; a pen knife, some lock picks, the horse of course, but they’d found nothing useful in Kid’s saddle bags.  You travelled light when you were heading out to rob a train. 
 
Kid had gone to scout the rocks for… anything… they could find a use for.
 
Heyes wiped sweat from his brow. 
 
The sun was high and relentless.  The shadows were pinched up and mean. 
 
Heyes looked out to the horizon, and remembered an old maxim his Pa was want to say, when he straightened his back from the long scythe,
 
…you make hay when the sun shines… Son.
 
Well, the sun was definitely shining now, Heyes thought bitterly, but he didn’t have… many resources… to make hay with!
 
What he did have was a dry mouth, scolded feet, a bad stomach and not much else.  And he was carrying around a huge grudge against Jamerson, the agent from the Grand Union Pacific Railroad.  Jamerson had Heyes’ fastest horse, their take from the train robbery, their guns, their canteens, even their boots. 

But more than that, he’d made fools of them.

Letting them think they’d got away.  Think they were in the clear, before bushwhacking them on their way back to the Hole.

It was humiliating.

And that snake had laughed at them! 

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.

That had been too much for Heyes.

“I found the last poor sap, that crawled into these rocks to die” responded Kid, drily.  

“He wasn’t even lucky enough to have a partner to bury him… Looks like a soldier from the war… He had this… not much else… If we make the water tank at Wolfshead Rocks… well …may be …we’ll get to fill it…”

Kid Curry hadn’t liked taking the silver water bottle from the ancient corpse, and his face showed it.  The bony fingers of one hand had still been wrapped around the standard Army issue bottle.  

But it would hold water.  Shame there wasn’t a water tank in these rocks, he thought. 

“Did he have boots?” asked Heyes over his shoulder, reluctantly pulling his eyes away from Jamerson.

“Show me.”


---oooOOOooo---

“I think you were wrong, Kid” scowled Heyes, stood over the raggedy pile of bones and cloth of the, long ago, deceased soldier.

“I think he was buried …once.  The winds just decided …to unbury him again… and his boots…”

Kid sneered.

“If we get outta this… may be… we can cover him up again.”

“Yeah…” nodded Heyes non-committedly.

“But not right now, huh… We got us a storm blowing in, in the shape of one Grant Jamerson… and this old soldier ain’t gonna be needing his boots anytime soon… I’ll just be taking those.”

Kid grinned knowingly at his older cousin, the outlaw leader, too used to getting his own way.
 
They were partners. 

Heyes wasn’t pulling rank on him, and his feet were protesting just as loudly as Heyes’, at being asked to climb all over this hot outcrop of sharp rocks, with just the protection of thin, holy socks to call on.

“I think you’ll find …Heyes… they’re gonna fit me just fine… after all… Finders Keepers…”

“Finders Keepers!” barked Heyes incredulously. 

“What are you? … TEN!”

Kid ignored him and bent down to grasp the first boot.  Heyes quickly grabbed at his arm.

“We’ll toss for it” he said shrewdly.

He slipped a coin out of his vest pocket to show Kid both sides… very quickly. 

Kid humphed, shaking his head imperceptibly.  He took the coin out of Heyes hand and checked it carefully for two different faces.

“What?...” asked Heyes incredulously again. 

“Don’t you trust me?”

Kid’s eyebrows shot skywards.

“No …Heyes … I don’t…” he said flatly. 

“We’ll be using my coin” he said, producing another coin from his own vest pocket.

“I’ve seen you con Wheat and the boys too many times with that one Heyes.”

Kid shook his head. 

“Call it!”


---oooOOOooo---

Heyes’ mood had visibly darkened.  He silently snatched back his ‘favourite’ silver dollar from his smug younger cousin, and rammed it back into his vest pocket.

Kid smugly, reached for the soldier’s old army boots.

The dry old boots came apart in Kid’s hands.  Seemed, the stitching had perished long ago. 

Heyes held back a gleeful grunt of schadenfreude, covering his mouth and trying to look sympathetic to the winner of the toss.

Kid held up the soles, as if he was thinking of tying them on to his feet anyway.  Of course, he’d have to find something to tie them on with, first.  He groaned loudly, cursing their awful luck, empty water bottles and useless foot ware.  He kicked at the dust, around the skeletal feet, and a glint of rusted metal caught his eye.

“A gun” smiled Heyes, astonished.

“A relic…” groaned Kid, poking at it with his toe.

“No…no… Kid… This is it… Our lucks changing” smiled Heyes happily, reaching down to pick up the ancient hardware.
 
It ran with dust, and he gave it a good shake.  It felt long, wrong and awkward in his hands. But it was a gun. Not one that would ever fire again, or fit any of the bullets in their belt loops. But it was a gun.

“Ha ha… This is it… this is the break we needed, Kid…” enthused Heyes.

“With this …we can turn the tables on Jamerson.  Come on.  We got a plan to put together… and we haven’t got much time left to do it!”


---oooOOOooo---

Heyes crawled and slid, ran and fell his way from the tracks they’d made earlier, as they’d passed the rocks on the horse, back to the rocky outcrop.

“The tracks look great!” he enthused to his waiting, worrying partner.

“It’s like we planned it… like we knew …we were gonna need them tracks to look like …we were having a fight for the horse.  Did you get the horse hidden …and wipe out all our tracks?”

Kid nodded.  He still held the only bit of thorny brush he could find to do the job with. 

Heyes beamed.

Kid looked more worried.

“I don’t know Heyes… is he gonna fall for this?”

Heyes shook his head at his cautious partner, grinning.  Now he had a plan, he was feeling a lot better about their precarious situation. Kid would catch on.

“You just gotta have a little faith, Kid…  You said yourself… without seeing that blunderbuss… Just feeling it… between your shoulders… Even you’d believe it was a single shot derringer… if someone told you it was… You wouldn’t bet your life against it, least ways.”

Kid nodded slowly.  He had said that and it did feel the right size.  And cold steel, even ancient cold steel pressed in your back, focused the mind.

“Yep… it’s the right calibre for the 54… the later model… But if he sees it Heyes…”

“Then …You gotta make sure …he don’t see it…”

Heyes took Kid by the shoulders.

“I’ve seen you stalking a deer Kid… You’re silent… You’re practically Apache! I know you can do this.  You just gotta get close enough … so he can’t see what you’re holding.  I’ll get him so wrapped up …in crowing over finding me … all beat up and helpless… it’ll be easy for you… to ambush him… Just you wait and see.”

Heyes smartly slapped Kids shoulders drawing the look from the gunslinger.  

Then, he risked another look out to the approaching quarry.  He was covered from head to toe in the bleached-out rock dust of the surrounding desert, so he wasn’t that worried that Jamerson would be able to pick him out amongst the rocks.  

Not yet anyway.  

Not at this distance.

Kid followed his gaze.

Jamerson was distinguishable now, as a horse and rider distorted in the mirage of the high noon heat.  From his line, and his steady pace, they could see he was tracking them from the saddle.  His head lolled forward, studying the ground.  He held his rifle at the ready, pointing it up at the cloudless sky.

“Oww! What you doing Heyes?” protested Kid, loudly.

“Keep it down will yer” spat Heyes.  “I’m supposed to be on my own remember.  You’re supposed to have ridden off …and dumped me…”

“Well …that could still happen…” spat back Kid, pulling his bloody wrist out of Heyes’ hand.

It was bleeding a lot more since Heyes had squeezed it.  

Heyes, was dabbing drops of Kids blood on his face, in an attempt to look more beaten up.

“Hush up will yer…” he said casually. “I wasn’t bleeding anymore… And we need this to look good.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh… Well that’s different… You should have said.”

His voice was dripping sarcasm. 

“I didn’t realise …it was all that important... fer your plan…”

And with that, he punched Heyes in the mouth.

Heyes sprawled backwards, looking shocked.

“What did you do that fer?!” he spat through a thick, bleeding lip.

Kid shook his sore hand.  The one with the bleeding wrist.

“Just stepping up …and doing my share… Partner… fer the plan… Which by the way… You told me you already had… before I found the old soldier and this relic of a firearm.” he said, pushing Heyes back into the dust at the foot of the rock and arranging him to look all beaten up and abandoned.

“Your bleeding pretty good now Heyes… and… Your looking authentically beaten up and helpless.”

He walked backwards towards the far rocks, carefully obscuring his tracks as he went.  Heyes watched him go. The dark eyes simmered.  Scores were being counted, and stored up for later.

“Yeah? Well… thank you…” he said, much too politely, rubbing at his sore face and looking anything but grateful.

“You just be sure …to get out here …and stick that rusty canon between Jamerson’s shoulder blades… before …he decides it’s too much trouble…to try and take me in alive…. again.” 

Kid smiled.  His blue eyes twinkling.  

He could hear Heyes moaning, “Apache boy!” under his breath, all the way back to the rocks. When he reached hard ground he tipped his hat to Heyes, and disappeared between two huge boulders.


---oooOOOooo---
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