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 Dancing

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PostSubject: Dancing   Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:02 am

Time for a new challenge. Give us your best challenge story in between 4,000 and 150 words on the prompt 


Dancing
Banana Dance


That can be any spin you put on it, dancing with the devil, dancing around a subject, literal dancing, lead the dance, dance to another tune, dance up a storm, dance to the tune, or even out of step; or any other version of any dancing idiom you can think up.


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before moving on to June as comments are the only thanks our writers get.
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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:04 am

Okay I'll be first out of the blocks this month. A story from later in The Kid's Thread (posted over on fanfiction) and not a Heyes in sight.

Dancing

The Kid and Caroline’s first wedding anniversary was fast approaching. They were going to New York with a group of friends, one of whom hailed from there. The visit would coincide with that friend’s sister’s engagement and they were all invited. The Kid would rather have spent the time alone with Caroline but she seemed eager to go. He had not been to New York yet and he was curious to see it so he had agreed. However, there was one thing he knew would come up while they were there. It wasn’t something that filled him with enthusiasm but it was something he knew she would like. He would need some assistance to be able to carry it off so he enlisted some help.


“Well Jed, I received your note and here I am. What is the great mystery?” Frances leaned in eagerly as the Kid sat down opposite her. He had enlisted the help of Caroline’s closest friend, Frances Joslin.


He had sent her a note asking her to meet him in a small out of the way teashop. The note had simply said that he had something to ask her but it was a secret. Frances had smelt intrigue and had immediately sent a note back agreeing to meet him.


“Well… .” He paused, hands tightly clasped on the table in front of him. “Me and Caroline have been married for nearly a year now …”


“Is it really only that long?” Frances laughed, interrupting him. “You seem to have been part of our little set for ever!”


“Yes ma’am.” He smiled and then cleared his throat. “Anyway as I was saying our anniversary will be on the 15th. The same day as the engagement do  …” He waved a hand casually. “They’ll be dancin’ won’t there?” He burst out. As Caroline’s closest friend and one of the New York party she would know.


“I expect so yes,” she confirmed, not sure where this was going.


“Yeah that’s what I was afraid of,” he sighed, looking a little green. Then he leaned in again. “See ma’am it’s like this … Caroline likes to dance don’t she?”


“Yes she does.”


He nodded. He knew it.


“Well … see … I don’t. Least ways I don’t know how,” he said slowly. Swallowing hard he continued. “Not proper dancin’. I can do-ce-do with the best of ‘em but that ain’t … Caroline’s thing.”


Frances smiled. “What are you trying to say Jed?”


The Kid took a deep breath. “Well I figgered it would be kinda nice for Caroline to dance with me … one time. As a surprise for our anniversary. What d’you think?”


Frances’ smile deepened. “I think she will be delighted.”


She could certainly see what Caroline saw in him. He was oh so handsome with those piercing blue eyes and curly blond hair that just ached to have fingers run through it. His boyish smile and quirky sense of humour. His charming and uneducated ways that were strangely attractive. The vulnerability he tried to hide that made one want to hold him, preferrably against one’s bosum. (Come back, Frances, come back.) Sadly but delightfully, it was plain to see that he was in love with his wife.


“So? Will ya?”


Frances shook her head from the distraction of his blue eyes.


“Will I what?”


“Teach me to dance. So I can twirl Caroline round the dancefloor. In New York.” He looked at her in anticipation.


Frances smiled. “Yes Jed I can teach you to dance.”


He nodded, relieved but still looked nervous. “Good. Thank you.”


“Which dance would you like to learn?”


“Huh?” Now he looked at her in horror. “There’s more than one?” His voice came out in a squeak.
He hadn’t considered that.


Frances laughed. “Yes Jed there is.”


The Kid looked shocked at that revelation and he swallowed. “Er … well er … which one is the best ma’am?”


“For what?” Frances raised an eyebrow amused. She couldn’t resist teasing him.


“Well er …” He looked away embarrassed but then it came to him. “For a first anniversary,” he said, grinning smugly.


“You won’t go far wrong with a waltz.”


“Okay.” He sat back spreading his arms wide on the table and swallowed with a nod. “A Waltz it is. An’ is that easy to learn?”


“Yes. It’s very simple foot work and you’ll soon get the hang of it.”


“Good. ‘Cos I ain’t much of a dancer. Two left feet my ma always used to say.”


“So you did learn as a boy then?”


A shadow crossed his face. Frances wished she hadn’t asked that question.


“No ma’am. Ma started to teach me … but … she was killed afore she could finish.” He swallowed the bad memory. “An’ I never had no call to learn proper dancin’ until now. So I would be beholden to you ma’am if you would teach me.”


“I will teach you Jed. You’ll do Caroline proud.”


“That’s good of you. An’ it’s a secret mind? I want to surprise her.”


“I understand.”



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


“So Jed you have really never danced formally before?” Frances asked when the Kid turned up for his first lesson. She wanted to know how much, if anything, he knew.


“No ma’am,” the Kid said, quietly. He was nervous and he didn’t think it was just the dancing. Frances may be Caroline’s closest friend and married herself but he could tell she found him attractive. She was not above flirting with him and that was making him nervous. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He swallowed hard.


“You look like you’re going to the gallows, Jed,” Frances laughed. “There is nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about. We all had to learn at some time.”


“Yes ma’am.”


He was perched on the edge of a chair looking very uncomfortable. He swallowed hard again.


Frances stood up suddenly and held out her arms to him. “Show me how you hold a woman.”


“Ma’am?” He got to his feet out of politeness, unsure what she was asking.


Frances looked amused at him.


“Jed, put your arms around me.”


“Ma’am!” Now he was looking at her wide-eyed.


“I won’t bite.” Then she sighed and set about arranging his arms round her. The right hand at the base and middle of her shoulder blades, the other she held out. She shuffled her feet so she was standing square to him. She smiled up at him. He really was impossibly handsome.

“Comfortable?”


“No ma’am,” he admitted hoarsely. “Feels kinda silly.”


Frances blinked. “I wouldn’t say that to Caroline.”


“No ma’am,” he said, suitably chasten.


“And stop ma’aming me. My name is Frances.”


“Yes m… Frances.”


“That’s better.” She smiled. “Now. This is how we start. Do you understand how your body is?”


The Kid nodded but couldn’t trust himself to speak. He was all too aware of how his body was. Far too close to this woman. He took a deep breath. “This close huh?”


Frances looked amused. “When you are dancing with your wife Jed you can be a little closer,” she purred. She raised an eyebrow pointedly.


The Kid cleared his throat. He was very embarrassed now.


“There’s more to dancing than just knowing how to hold each other correctly. We have to move. Ready?”


He nodded hesitantly.


“I want you to take a step forward with your left foot. Don’t worry. I’ll move back. And then move your right foot out to the right. Shall we try?”


He nodded. Nothing happened and Frances looked at him. “Is there a problem?”


“Er well how big a step?”


Frances took a deep breath. This was going to be more difficult than she thought.


“Well not a big stride or a little pigeon step. Just a normal walking step.”


“Okay.” The Kid composed himself and walked forward. She went back as promised and they transferred their weight to the other foot.


“Now close the left foot to the right. That’s it. Now we do the whole thing in reverse. Step back with your right foot, to the side with the left and then close right to left.”


She looked up at him and smiled when they were back at the beginning. “That’s it.”


He let out a deep sigh. “Well that ain’t so bad ma’am,” he grinned.


“That’s the basic steps. There’s a little more to it.” She saw his face fall. “But not a lot more,” she added quickly. “Now let’s put it all together.”


That first lesson they just danced the basic square. Frances had a metronome that she used to keep their rhythm.


The next lesson she taught him the rise and fall and the turn. He struggled with the rise and fall. He had even more problems with the turn, stomping on her feet several times. It took another two lessons before he had mastered both properly.


Frances engaged a violinist for the fifth lesson. The Kid was embarrassed at first having another person present as he waltzed Frances round the room. Yet he went home humming the music.


At the end of the sixth lesson, Frances declared he had it. All he needed now was to practise. She looked mischievously at him.


“Jed I know of a tea dance next week. We should go.”


“What’s one of them?”


“It’s a public event where you can pay to go and dance. It’s held in the afternoon, which is why it is called a tea dance. It will give us a chance to dance with other people in the room and with a proper orchestra.”


“I dunno.” The Kid winced, doubtfully. “Supposin’ word gets back to Caroline?”


Frances tucked her hand under his arm and led him back to the sofa. “It’ll be out of the way,” she whispered. “Nobody will know us.”


He continued looking doubtful.


“You’re ready Jed but you need to practise. And where better than at a proper dance?”


“If you say so.” He wasn’t entirely convinced.


“You mustn’t be embarrassed when you ask Caroline to dance. You’ll be nervous enough as it is. You’ll need to be confident that you know what you’re doing.” She patted his arm.


He nodded. She was right.

A week later, Frances took the Kid to the tea dance. For a long while, the Kid sat and watched but not the dancing. He was looking around to see if he might know anyone. Frances nudged him.


“Jed. There is no one here that we know,” she whispered. “That’s why I chose it.”


“I’m just making sure,” he whispered back.


“We’re here to dance so shall we?”


The Kid took a deep breath. “Yeah.” Beside him, Frances got up. “But ‘afore we do I’ve got a query.” She sat back down again and looked at him. “How … d’you avoid other folks?”


“You don’t stare into my eyes!”


“Ma’am?”
She laughed and took his hand. “Come on. You’ll understand as we do it.”


Frances manoeuvred him onto the dance floor. They settled but nothing happened. They just stood there.


“Well?” Frances asked. “People are looking.”


“Waiting for a break in traffic,” he murmured.


Frances put her head down to hide her smirk. She composed herself with some difficulty and then looked back up. “Very well. I’ll tell you when we can go.” She paused. “Now!”


Robotically he took a step forward and they were off. A few box steps later, they were heading for the wall.


“Turn! Thirty degrees,” she whispered.


They turned and headed back into the centre of the room.


“And again!”


With Frances whispering directions, they circled the room in a tacking formation.


“Jed. You can do this. Let’s go round again but you guide us this time.”


He nodded. He frowned hard in concentration all the way round. They didn’t bump into any body or anything, much to his amazement.


“Very good. Once more Jed and try smiling this time.”


He false smiled at her and held a rictus grin until Frances had seen enough.


“Jed! Relax! This is supposed to be fun not traumatic! Forget the smile. It’s creepy.”


The Kid set his features in neutral and they circled the room again. When they got back to their seat this time he had had enough. He took out his handkerchief and mopped his face, puffing hard.


“I don’t think I can do this ma’am.” He looked at Frances appealingly. “Remembering all those steps, deciding when to turn, avoiding stepping on your feet.” He looked out at the dancefloor.

“How do they make it look so easy?” He shook his head in disbelief.


“They’re relaxed and enjoying being with their partners. And they’ve practised until it becomes second nature.”


The Kid growled.


“Let’s give it a few minutes and then we’ll give it another go.”


He looked at her sadly. “Really?”


“You do want to dance with Caroline don’t you?”


“Yes ma’am,” he said, shyly.


“And you don’t want to step on her feet do you?”


“No ma’am.”


“Then you need to practise until you don’t have to think about it. So you can just enjoy holding her in your arms and being close with her.”


The Kid looked away embarrassed.


Frances sighed. She could tell he wasn’t convinced.


“That gun of yours?” she said, suddenly, inspiration striking. “The one with the fast draw?”


He looked back at her hard. He frowned not sure he’d heard right. “Er ma’am it’s not the gun that has the fast draw,” he explained, amazed that he was saying this. “It’s … me who has the fast draw.”


She shook her head dismissively. “Whatever. The point is how did you get it?”


He was unsure what she was saying and he frowned the question.


“Didn’t you have to practise?”


“Yes ma’am. Lots of practise.”


“You are very fast with it yes? So fast you’re considered one of the fastest guns in the West?”
She leant closer so that they weren’t overheard.


He inclined his head modestly. “Doubt that’s true now ma’am. Ain’t held a gun in months. Reckon even Heyes could beat me these days.”


She rolled her eyes. “Practise got you that accolade. Well isn’t this the same thing? You need to practise this.”


He sighed. “I don’t wanna be the fastest dancer in the East,” he muttered and then caught sight of her face. “Yes ma’am,” he added, contritely.


She smiled as a new waltz started up. She raised her eyebrows at him.


He sniffed and looked away. Some days it had been easier being an outlaw. At least outlaws didn’t dance. Well not regular anyway. Then he sighed and looked back with a smile. 


“Frances would you like to dance?”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




A month later, the Currys were in New York. The engagement party was a grand affair, held in one of the top hotels. The Kid rolled his eyes; there must be five hundred people there. Caroline had introduced him to congressmen, senators, bankers, railroad men and other wealthy and notable industrialists. Most of the men regarded him with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity. Their wives also showed interest but of an entirely different nature.


Inevitably, the Kid found himself separated from Caroline. Escaping the clutches of a posse (the way he would describe it later) of wealthy and determined women, he searched around for Caroline. He couldn’t see her and began to feel panicky that she wasn’t in sight. So he was relieved when he spotted her sitting with a group of their friends, Frances included. That was good. She was safe. He took the opportunity to go outside.


When he returned the orchestra was playing the beginning of a waltz he recognised. As he joined the Boston party, he glanced at Frances. She nodded and smiled.


The Kid sighed. He tugged at his collar before walking over to where Caroline sat. She was chatting with the other ladies, a glass of wine in her hand. She didn’t see him until he stopped in front of her.


“Excuse me ladies,” he smiled, stopping their conversation.


“Jed?” Caroline looked up and blinked in surprise when he removed the glass from her hand to the table beside her.


“Would you care to dance?” he purred, helping her to her feet.


Caroline looked at him stunned as he escorted her out to the dance floor.


“Jed!” she laughed as they prepared to dance.


“No stepping on my toes now y’hear?” he warned as they set off.


Caroline followed automatically looking at him in wonder. She finally found her voice half way round.


“You told me you didn’t dance?” It was a question.


“I didn’t,” he sniffed. “I learnt.”


“When …?” she laughed. “Who … taught you?” she spluttered. He had always been so adamant before.


“When? Fairly recently so don’t go expecting anything flash will ya?” He grinned at her. “Who? Well that’s my secret.”


“Jed, I don’t know what to say.” There were tears in her eyes.


“Happy anniversary, Caroline.” His grin broadened. “Ha! Ha! Bet you thought I’d forgotten!”


Caroline smiled. “Well our wedding was such a low key affair … I can hardly blame you.”


“Maybe it was but I do remember. It was a nice day.”


“Yes it was.” She was looking up at him with a mixture of pleasure and anxiousness.
"The sun was shining. It wasn’t too hot,” the Kid sniffed, remembering. “We had a nice meal afterwards.” He nodded. “It was a good day.”


Caroline laughed gently. “And here we are a year later. Dancing a waltz together in New York.”


“Yeah here we are.” He looked at her fondly for a moment. “Funny how life turns out isn’t it? I never thought for one minute I’d be doing this but here I am. Dancing with my wife.”


“And doing a very good job,” she complimented.


“Thanks. I wanted to surprise you.”


“You certainly did. Thank you Jed.”


“My pleasure.”


They completed several more circles of the ballroom before the Kid steered them outside.


“Now where are those two going?” Max Joslin, frowned. He took off to follow them.


“Max!” Frances hissed but he didn’t hear. She hurried after him and caught him just as he went out through the double doors that led onto the balcony.


The Kid and Caroline were content in each other’s arms. Max stopped and stared, an O on his lips.


“Come away, Max,” Frances said, catching his arm. She walked him back into the room.


“They really are in love, aren’t they?” he said, looking down at his wife on his arm.


Boston society was curious about the Currys. After the sensational story of their marriage and the subsequent court case, speculation had abounded that they would soon separate. Insiders wondered that too, although they were close enough to see what was happening between Mr and Mrs Curry. Max had just witnessed proof that the Curry’s marriage was anything but a sham and was indeed an intimate love match.


“Yes Max they really are,” Frances sighed.


Max sighed too and then looked at his wife. “Fancy a trot round the floor old girl?”


Frances rolled her eyes. There were better ways to be asked to dance. Unfortunately, Max didn’t seem to know them!


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The Kid lay on the bed in a hotel robe, smiling. Caroline had been his wife for a whole year now. How much longer would she continue to be so? Days? Weeks? Months? More years? No, he wouldn’t think on that tonight.


He looked down as he ran his finger around the rim of the champagne flute. Tonight was special. It was their wedding anniversary and he wanted things to go right. He was pleased. They already had so far. The dancing seemed to have gone down well.


His smile deepened. Frances had been right. He had danced a lot closer with Caroline. It had been wonderful. To hold her in his arms in public. To laugh with her. To watch her smile at him delighted at his simple gift. Then they had kissed on the balcony where the whole of New York could see. He hadn’t cared. Neither had she.


He leant his head back against the pillow and sighed. He was in love with her. He knew now that’s what it was. Even though he thought, he had been in love before those times had been nothing like this. Caroline was special. There was one thing that spoilt it for him. Not knowing if she loved him back. She accepted his kisses, his caresses, she responded passionately and fully to him. She must be in love with him mustn’t she? No one was that good, surely? He was afraid to tell her how he felt in case … All he could do was tell her with his body. Be the loving, romantic husband for as long as possible.


He looked up as she came through the connecting door. She was a vision. Her hair immaculately brushed. Her negligee expensive and elaborate. She had obviously made an effort. He caught a wave of her subtle perfume as she gracefully sat on the bed next to him. The perfume she only ever wore for him because he liked it.


Reaching over he handed her a glass of champagne. She smiled as she took it, tapping it against his.


“Champagne?” she queried.


“Of course. It’s our anniversary. This is from me. I paid for it separate.”


Caroline smiled impressed. “You have good taste in champagne Jed.”


“Well now I can’t say I’ve had much experience. I just liked the design on the label.”


Caroline laughed. “You know there are vast tomes written about the qualities of various types of champagne. There’s a whole hierarchy of labels and the prestige that goes with it.” She hesitated. “You cut through all that and chose the one whose label you liked best. Jed …” She put her head on her shoulder and looked at him fondly. For a moment, it looked like she was going to say more but she changed her mind, looking away.


He nodded. He had noted her hesitation. He wouldn’t dwell on what he thought it might mean. Not tonight. Leaning forward he eased the glass out of her hand slowly. He removed it to the nightstand with his. She was looking back now, wondering what he was doing.


The Kid hesitated and then touched her cheek as his other arm slipped round her shoulders, drawing her close.


“Happy anniversary,” he murmured.


When he kissed her, she melted.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


 “You taught Jed to dance didn’t you?” Caroline asked Frances the next time they were alone.
They were in a private compartment on the train back to Boston.


“I don’t know what you mean,” Frances said, flicking casually through the magazine she had bought for the journey back. The men had gone out to the viewing car for air, leaving the women alone.


“Yes you do. If you didn’t you know who did.”


Frances closed the magazine with a sigh. It was boring her anyway. “Yes I taught Jed how to dance. Is there a problem?”


Caroline smiled. “No.” She hesitated. “Who’s idea was it?”


Now Frances smiled. “His. He wanted to surprise you for your anniversary. I thought it was very romantic of him.”


“Yes it was.” Caroline looked away thoughtfully. “He doesn’t do things in a big or extravagant way. It’s small simple things.”


“He’s in love with you.” Frances was flicking through her magazine again.


Caroline looked at her sharply. “I don’t know,” she admitted quietly.


“Well I do.” Frances said firmly. “Caroline you simply must talk to him,” she pleaded. “You can’t keep dancing around this. It’s tearing you both apart not knowing how you feel about each other.”


Caroline looked away and out of the passing scenery. It was several minutes before she spoke again. “He might not and I don’t want to find that out.”


Frances tutted. “You two want your heads knocking together. I shall say no more!”

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:06 pm

  A little ditty from my story, Ghosts. Sorry, ladies, I have been busy lately, but I still like to join in when I can. For those who haven't read this before, The partners are staying with the Jordans, and are having fun at the 4th of July dance. Heyes is sort of, kind of, dating Miranda. He is newly released from prison and hasn't quite found his footing yet.


  The dancing got started right on time that evening and everyone, save one, were eager to get out onto the cleared away town square in order to get down to it.  Heyes was the one who only felt trepidation at the prospect and was beginning to regret his impetuousness in inviting Miranda to be his date.  This was all Kid's fault!  If he hadn't pushed...
 
  There was nothing for it now, so Heyes went along with the group and tried to relax and have a good time.  They were fortunate again to find a table that would accommodate their party and the ladies all settled in while the men trotted off to get punch for everyone.  Clementine instantly began scanning the floor—or more precisely—the field, knowing that she would have no trouble finding partners to dance with.  All the locals knew her and many of the young men in attendance were looking forward to adding her to their dance chart.
 
  Heyes offered to get Clem her punch along with his and Randa's, so he was taking a little bit more time to return to their table, trying to keep from spilling three glasses and to keep out of the way of the other party-goers.  Then, much to his chagrin it all became a moot point, when he was bumped into from behind, and all three glasses ended up losing at least half their contents.  Heyes fought down his irritation as he turned to confront the clumsy person, when he found himself staring down at a rather attractive young woman.
 
  She smiled up at him.  “I am so sorry,” she purred.  “Shall I help you to replenish them?”
 
  “Oh.  No ma'am, that's quite alright,” Heyes remembered how to be polite after all.  “It was my fault and no harm done.”
 
  “Oh please, call me Isabelle,” she informed him and held out her hand for shaking.
 
  “Oh, ahh...”  Heyes felt awkward, both his hands being occupied at that point in time.
 
  “Oh!  Yes of course,” she said with a smile.  “Consider our hands shaken.”
 
  “Yes, ma'am,” Heyes smiled.  “My name is Hannibal.”
 
  “Yes, I know,” she admitted.  “I think everyone in town knows who you are.”
 
  “Oh,” Heyes smiled, feeling a little embarrassed at this attention.
 
  “And might I say,” Isabelle continued,  “that we are all so pleased to have you returned to us, safe and sound.  Many of us stood behind Jed, and the Jordan's, in their efforts to get you released.  I know for myself personally, that I had many a talk with Jed when he was feeling like giving it up, and I'm sure, that what I had to say, was often all that kept him going.  So in that way, I like to think, I was able to contribute at least that little bit to the effort of securing your release.”
 
  “Oh yes,” Heyes nodded to her.  “Thank you... Isabelle.  I know I am beholden to many people who are here tonight.”
 
  “Well, if you wish to thank me properly,” she smiled up at him.  “perhaps you can offer me a dance later on.”
 
  “Oh,” Heyes commented, suddenly feeling cornered and uncomfortable.  “Ah, well... it does seem that my dances are all spoken for at the moment.  But if one opens up I will certainly keep you mind.”
 
  Disappointment flashed across Isabelle's eyes, but she quickly recovered.  “Of course,” she said.  “I'll look forward to it.”
 
  “Evenin', Isabelle,” came Jed's voice from behind them.  “On the prowl early, I see.”
 
  “Oh Jed!”  she said as she patted his arm.  “Don't be such a tease!”
 
  “Uh huh.  C'mon Heyes,” he said, taking a couple of the glasses out of his partner's grip,  “let's get these glasses re-filled.  Miranda was wonderin' what was keepin' ya'.”
 
  “Oh yeah.  Thanks,” Heyes sent a quick nod over to the lady.  “Good evening, Isabelle.  Nice to meet you.”
 
  “And you...”
 
  Then the two gentlemen had turned and were making their way back to the refreshment tables.  Isabelle sniffed rather indignantly and carried on back to her own table.
 
  “That was close,” Jed commented as they were re-filling the glasses.
 
  “Oh, she was just saying 'hello',” Heyes insisted.
 
  “Heyes, to that woman, saying 'hello' is a prelude to joinin' her at the church—and I don't mean for Sunday services either!”
 
  “Oh!  Ha ha,” Heyes grinned at his close call as they headed back to their own table, glasses replenished.
 
  “Just stay away from her until ya' find your footin' again,” Jed advised him.  “She might very well make an attempt to split you and Miranda up tonight, so just be careful, okay?”
 
  “Yeah, thanks for the heads up,” Then they were back to their table again.  “Here we are. Sorry for the delay, I had a run-in with one of the locals.”
 
  “That Isabelle, again!”  Clem rolled her eyes.  “Hasn't she found some dope to marry her yet?”
 
  “Apparently not,” Heyes commented.
 
  “That woman!”  Bridget snarked.  “She did everything she could to break up Jed and Beth!”  She leaned into Heyes, conspiratorially.  “She even tried to convince Jed to forget about getting you released from prison!  That you were a lost cause, and he should just marry her and get on with his life!”
 
  “Really?”  Heyes' brows went up.  “Isn't that interesting.”
 
  “Yeah,” Jed agreed.  “She insulted you and Beth all at the same time.  I was already gettin' annoyed with her, but that was the final straw, and I let her know, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn't interested.”  He smiled.  “That was the last time she tried any 'a that.”
 
  “Oh well,” Heyes smiled.  “I have been fore-warned.  Thank you.”
 
  Then he picked up Miranda's hand and gently kissed it.  Miranda went all warm and fuzzy inside.
 
  Isabelle spotted the affectionate exchange from across the dance area and grimaced with disgust.  Those Jordan's really were becoming a thorn in her side.   Then her thoughts got interrupted by a gentle inquiry.
 
  “Good evening, Miss Isabelle,” Floyd Rowlins greeted her,  “would you care to dance?”
 
  Isabelle smiled at him, then turning away for an instant, rolled her eyes.  Oh crap!
 
  A couple of hours later the dancing was in full swing and everyone was having a grand old time.  Everyone that is, except Heyes and Miranda.  Clementine had just breathlessly finished up a whirlwind of a dance with one of her local favourites and was making her way back to their table, when she spotted the new couple sitting there in conversation.  Miranda was engaged enough with what Heyes was saying, but the occasional whimsical glance out onto the dance area suggested that she would much rather be joining in on the festivities.
 
  Clem sighed, and shaking her head, she marched right over to the table and grabbed Heyes by the arm.
 
  “C'mon, Silly!”  she ordered him, as she hauled him up out of his chair. “it's time you got your feet wet!”
 
  “What!?  No!  We were just...!”
 
  “Yes, I know what you were just!  I could see it from way over there!”  Then she glanced down at the rather surprised Miranda.  “You just sit tight.  I'll bring him right back—I promise!”
 
  “No Clem, c'mon,” Heyes protested.  “I really don't wanna...”
 
  “Yes, I know you don't wanna,” Clem continued as she pushed him out onto the dance 'floor',  “but this is just getting ridiculous!  Miranda came here tonight to have fun, not just sit there and listen to you prattle on!  Now you get out here, and you start dancing!”
 
  “No Clem, c'mon!”  Heyes repeated, showing that he was at a loss for words.  “I just don't feel...”
 
  “Too bad!”  Clem threw back at him.  “C'mon, put your arms around me.  That's right.  Now start moving your feet!  My goodness, you'd think you were sixteen again, the way you're behaving!  Well, you can do better than that!  C'mon!  Stop shuffling—I know for a fact that you do not have two left feet!  Now put your arm around my waist and take the lead.  There!  That's better.  See?  You ninny, you haven't forgotten how to dance.”
 
  Heyes had suddenly started to grin.  The music took hold of his mood and before he knew it, he was floating Clem around the dance floor like an old pro, and he was actually starting to enjoy the event.  By the time the dance number was finished, his blood was up, and he was flushed and laughing and feeling a little bit more like his old, agile self again.
 
  As they headed back over to the table, Heyes was still grinning and Clem felt satisfied of a job well done, as she handed him back over to a smiling Miranda.  Heyes took his lady's hand and brought her to her feet.
 
  “I'm sorry,” he said to her.  “Clem is right; I've been behaving like an old stick in the mud.  Would you like to dance?”
 
  Miranda smiled, her dark blue eyes sparkling.  “Yes!  I would.”  And then, as Heyes led her out onto the dance floor, she turned to Clem and mouthed a silent 'thank you'. 
 
  Clem smiled and went off in search of a new partner for herself.
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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:41 pm

   
Dancing.


“Heyes, we need to stop or we’re gonna kill ourselves.”
 
The full moon bathed the trail in silvered light, but it made it hard to judge the shadows correctly.  Both Heyes and Curry already had near misses, but so far horses and men were still in one piece.
 
“I know, Kid, but if it’s this bright out, the posse might still be trying to track us.  They’ve gotta have an Apache with them, to still be on our tail.”
 
“Even Apaches can’t track in the dark.”
 
“I’m not ready to stake my life on that.  Are you?”
 
“I don’t know any more, Heyes.  Would it be so bad to give up?”
 
Hannibal Heyes pulled up on his horse and stopped in the trail.  “You’re ready to go to prison for twenty years?”
 
“No, not really.”  The Kid sighed.  He plucked his hat from his head, and scratched through his matted curls.  “But I don’t see how pushin’ ourselves through the night is gonna help.”  He squinted and tried to look through the dark down the trail.  It led into a grove of trees, so he was not very successful.
 
“I don’t see where we have any other choice, Kid.”  Heyes’ hat was firmly on his head, pulled low so it wouldn’t blow off in the breeze, but somehow the moonlight still made his eyes shimmer.  “I think I’d dance with the devil himself, if we could find some place to hole up.”
 
“What’s that?”  The Kid sniffed.  “A campfire?”  He looked around but saw nothing in the silvery moonlight.
 
“I don’t smell anything.  Or see anything.  Maybe you’re just getting tired.”
 
“Heck, yes, I’m tired, but that don’t mean I’m not smelling what I think I’m smelling.”  The Kid wrinkled his nose.  “Maybe it’s not a campfire.  Now it smells like…brimstone?”
 
“Now you’re just imagining things,” Heyes’ voice started to get testy.  “Let’s go a bit further down the trail.”
 
The boys clucked to their horses and they started down the hill into the trees.  It was dark, but the light from the full moon sent shafts of illumination through the wavering branches.
 
“Now this, Kid, this is not safe.  I can’t see three feet in front of me.”  Heyes pulled on his reins suddenly, looking to the right.
 
“Sheesh, Heyes!  What’d’ya doin’?”  The Kid definitely sounded testy, or more.
 
“Did you see that?”  Heyes pointed to the right.
 
“What?”  The Kid turned to look also, and the flicker of a fire showed momentarily through the trees.  He looked down.  “I think there’s a trail here.”
 
Heyes looked down the now obvious trail, and then back at his cousin.  His dark eyes looked wary.  “What do you think we should do?”
 
“You’re asking me, Heyes?”  The Kid scoffed.  Didn’t you say you were willing to sell your soul to the devil himself?”
 
“Um … I just said I’d dance with the devil.”  Heyes then laughed dryly.  “I figure, with our past, our souls already belong down there.”
 
“I dunno.”  The Kid mused.  “There’s worse fellers out there than us, Heyes.”
 
“Yeah, and we know most of them.”  Heyes looked once more down the path.  “Ready?”
 
“Always.”
 
They cautiously rode down the path.  They came to a circle of stone outcroppings.  Heyes indicated that the Kid should head one way, and he headed the other.  Half way around each side they stopped and dismounted.  Heyes crept through the rocks and saw a low, banked fire, with a few red and blue flames flickering still.  He saw the gleam of the Kid’s eyes across the clearing.  He had not yet decided how to proceed when a voice came from close to the fire.
 
“Howdy boys.  Come in and sit a spell.”
 
A shadowy figure rose from the dark around the fire.  He was wearing a cowboy hat, not unusual for the west.  It was pulled down, shadowing his face.  In the dark it was hard to tell what color it was.  It had looked black at first, but now looked a non-descript gray or brown.  The man was tall and slender, and wisps of hair were visible under that hat.  The might have been sandy blonde in a better light, but looked silver now.
 
Since they had lost any advantage to staying hidden, Heyes started towards the fire.  Curry waited a beat, and then did the same.
 
The man’s face stayed in shadow, even once the boys were standing by the fire.  He smiled.  “Been a while since we’ve seen each other.  You boys are still running.”  It didn’t sound like a question.
 
The voice did sound half-familiar to both Heyes and Curry, but it also had a low, whispery quality that sent shivers up their spins.
 
“We’re sorry, mister.  With the dark and all, I’m not certain we know you.”  Heyes’ mind was spinning, trying to gain control of the situation.  “We have faces that lots of folks think they’ve seen before.”
 
A laugh that sent a chill down their backs was his reply.  It sounded eerily familiar, but again it was not without a strangeness.
 
“Well, boys, might as well sit down.  We got some talkin’ to do.”
 
The figure sat close to the fire, leaning back against a rock.
 
Heyes looked around.  The rocks surrounded the clearing, seeming to gather all the light from the fire, and keep it from escaping.  “Ah, yeah, there might be some folks looking for us.”  He looked down at the fire, and then tried to peer into the shadow under the man’s hat.  “You think the fire is a good idea?”
 
“They won’t find you here.  That’s a promise.”  The figure laughed dryly again, but with a strange rattle in his voice.
 
Curry and Heyes sat on the other side of the fire.  There were no sounds other than the soft crackle of the flames.  The Kid wrinkled his nose again, like he smelled something bad, but he didn’t say anything.  He sat very still, his eyes reflecting the fire, like a pool of deep water.
 
“How much would you really give to lose that posse?”  The voice came from across circle.
 
Heyes hesitated.  Something was definitely not right here.  “Depends.”
 
“I have a load of dynamite here.  We could set a trap on the trail, and kill them all.”
 
“Don’t need to kill them,” the Kid said quietly.  “Just lose them.”
 
“I could lure them into this circle, just like I lured you.  Then we could tie them up and leave them to starve.”
 
“Now wait a minute...”  Heyes started to stand, and the Kid’s hand strayed to his gun.
 
The figure across the circle laughed again, almost cackling.  “Calm down boys.  Settle back down.  Cain’t do anything without your agreement.”  He relaxed more against the rock, and shook his head, muttering almost to himself.  “I told him you all wouldn’t go for anything like that.”  A quick glimmer of pale eyes showed under the hat across the circle, but then vanished.
 
“Why don’t you settle your horses and then get some rest.  You’ll be better able to face what comes.”
 
Curry glanced at Heyes, conveying that he didn’t think that was a good idea, but with it approaching midnight, there wasn’t much choice.
 
Heyes brewed some coffee and Curry dug out some jerky.  They offered both to the figure across the circle, but he declined.  Quiet settled around the campfire, and the boys drifted off to sleep.
 
In the dark of the night, they heard the posse ride by.  They were driving the horses at a gallop, something Heyes didn’t think was possible in the pitch dark of the early morning hours.
 
The fire was low and banked, but still glowing.  In the dim light, they could see another figure there, mounded under a blanket, not stirring.  Heyes caught the Kid’s eyes, but they remained silent, listening to the posse become more and more faint.  Sleep overtook them again.
 
Morning came with crisp, bright light, and birds trilling on the soft wind.
 
Heyes sat up from under his bedroll.  He saw the Kid’s eyes open, still lying under his blanket, next to him.  Across the fire there was still a mound under a blanket.
 
Thoughts had run through Heyes’ mind the night before, as to the identity of the man across the circle.  Now he wanted to see if he was right or not.  It wasn’t possible for him to be correct, but he still wanted to know, now that it was daylight.
 
He got up to prepare coffee, and the Kid started stirring the fire, feeding it more wood.
 
The bundle on the other side of the fire stirred.  Heyes’ and Curry’s eyes were riveted on it, as a head emerged.  Then surprise and confusion filled them.
 
The man across the fire was short and plump, with a tonsured mop of dark hair.  He wore a brown cassock, bound with rope, and sandals were on his feet.
 
“Good morning gentlemen!”  A beatific smile crossed his face.  “I’m Father Jesus Martinez.  I’m sorry I took advantage of your fire last night without your permission, but you were so sound asleep, I didn’t want to wake you.”
 
Heyes locked gazed with the Kid, and then they both looked back at Father Martinez.  “When did you arrive last night?”
 
“Oh, not long after that horrible posse drove me and my burro off the road.  I tried to stop them to ask for help, but they seemed possessed, so I just got out of the way.  You can’t imagine how happy I was to see your cheerful fire welcoming me.”  He looked at the boys.  “I was surprised to find the fire burning so brightly, with you both asleep, but I banked it down for the night before I laid down.”
 
“The posse went right by here?  With the fire burning brightly?” Curry asked.
 
“Oh, well, even I didn’t see the fire until they had passed by.”  Martinez looked thoughtful.  “It must have been hidden by these rocks.”  He smiled.  “In any case, they said they were looking for some desperate outlaws, and were going to catch up with them, even if they had to dance with the devil himself.”  He crossed himself.  “Such blasphemy from what should be law abiding men.  It was another reason I let them pass me.”
 
He picked up a basket that has been set to the side.  “Are you boys hungry?  The woman at last rancho gave me enough eggs and ham for all three of us.  I baptized her children and married her daughter to a nice young man, so she was very grateful.”
 
“We’d be right pleased to share your breakfast,” the Kid replied, as his stomach growled.
 
The padre laughed, “It sounds like you are as ready to embrace the bounty the Lord has provided for our breakfast, as I was grateful to have him provide a warm fire and peaceful company last night.  With all the dangerous and evil men about last night, I bless His name and thank Him for leading me to such good men as you.”
 
Heyes and Curry laughed softly.
 
“So are we, Father.  So are we.”
 
The boys accompanied Father Martinez to his pueblo and were treated to a wonderful feast.  They set out the next morning in bright sunlight, with a refreshing wind, and the azure sky kissed by white clouds.
 
They had ridden for a couple hours when they pulled up to give the horses a rest, and partake of the food the women had packed for them.
 
Kid Curry was gazing down from the high ridge where they had stopped into the valley below, while he was gratefully chewing.  Heyes was staring at nothing, trying to make sense of several thoughts swirling in his head.
 
“Heyes?”
 
“Yeah, Kid?”  Heyes turned towards his cousin, with a faint smile on his face, grabbing up a piece of cornbread before the Kid ate it all.
 
“You know who that was that night by the fire, don’t you?”
 
“Who?  Father Martinez?”  Heyes was trying to convince himself.
 
“No.  Before that.”  The Kid wasn’t letting him.  He locked his blue eyes on brown.
 
“You want me to believe we actually danced with the devil?”  Heyes laughed softly, and shook his head.
 
“No.”  The Kid shook his head too, but looked back at Heyes with a determined glance.  “I think it was a messenger.”
 
“What?  From Hell?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Kid you’re just tired.”
 
Curry shook his head firmly and waited until Heyes met his gaze again. 
 
“I sent him there.  I sure as heck know who he was.”
 
“Well, why would the devil have let him out?”
 
“To let him win after all.”
 
“Win what?”
 
“Our souls.”
 
“Heck, Kid, I think he’s already got them.”
 
Well, Heyes, I don’t.”  Curry gazed down and then met his cousin’s sharply glittering eyes.  “I think we was well on the way down that path, but never really made it all the way there.”
 
“The devil sent him back to accomplish that?”


“Yeah, but even he knew it wasn’t gonna happen.”
 
Heyes just stared at his cousin.  “Kid, you’ve got me worried.”
 
“Why, Heyes?”
 
“Because now, not only do we have bounty hunters, posses, and half the lawmen in the west after us,” Heyes paused and smiled a gleaming smile.  “We got the devil himself after us?”
 
“Oh, he’s been after us for a long time, Heyes.”  The Kid smiled smugly.  “But I think we just let him know we ain’t interested.”
 
Heyes looked at his cousin, and a genuine smile crossed his face.  Then he laughed.  “Only you, Kid, could come up with a bright side to dancing with the devil.”
 
“It was only a dance, Heyes.”  The Kid popped the last crumbs of cornbread into his mouth, brushed his hands on his jeans, and looked up at his cousin with still blue eyes.  “Ready?”
 
“Always.”
    
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Cal

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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:44 am

Dancing


Kid fidgeted on his blankets, humphed loudly and sighed deeply.  Two minutes later, he fidgeted again, rolling back to his original side.  A minute passed before he sat up and slapped at the dusty under cover of his saddle and settled his head for sleep again.


Heyes waited.


Less than a minute this time.  The shoulders tensed and the rolling began anew.


“Will you cut that out!” Heyes barked across the slow embers of the fire.


A loud humph, and another roll, were his only answer.


Heyes watched.


The tension in the red Henley covered shoulders, was palpable. 


Heyes could tell, just from the zinging vibrations in the air, Kid was trying hard not to move again.


This was useless.


On a good day, or rather night, Heyes would have difficulty sleeping.
 Oh, he could drop off in exhaustion at the beginning of a night.  Fall down tired, close his eyes, and melt into oblivion, especially since they’d decided to do something as stupid as work for a living.
 
But…


If he waked before the dawn, and doubt started gnawing at him, burrowing into his brain, getting itself good and lodged in behind his eyes, he knew sleep was vanquished for the night.  Nothing to do but embrace it.  Face his demons, and wrangle with them till dawn.


Kid lost the fight with the fidget, and rolled sighing heavily.


Heyes sighed too.


“What’s got you dancing in your blankets, Kid? Not like you to lose sleep over …anything!”


Heyes didn’t sound unkind. 


Concerned maybe.


Kid groaned.


“S’nothin’” he mumbled. “Go back to sleep… Heyes.”


“Chance would be a fine thing…” laughed Heyes. “How’s a body supposed to sleep … with his partner dancing a jig on the other side of the fire…”


Heyes sat up and stirred the embers to life.  He swirled the dregs in the coffee pot and set them in the most promising spot to warm. He sniffed at his whiskey soaked mug and nodded approvingly.


“Hear… pass me your mug Kid… there’s enough coffee in the pot …”


Kid’s shoulders slumped, defeated. 


With no words, he too sat up and found his rather battered mug.  The sniff detected only a fading promise of whiskey, and was met with a disapproving scowl from the blond gunslinger.


The mug was silently passed.


Heyes doubled up his gloves to get hold of the now scorching pot and divided the spoils.


The hot mug danced between Kid’s protesting fingers, as he touched it to his lips.  As the acidic, molten brown liquid entered his constricting throat, Kid managed to gasp out a thank you, eyes wincing up in shock and voice strangling to a soprano.


Heyes smiled, savouring his own gravy-thick brew.


“Come on… What are partners for… if not to keep you company on long cold nights… when yer can’t sleep … and make you the best coffee this side of Heaven’s gates.”


Kid couldn’t hold it in…


He barked out an explosive laugh, juggling his dancing mug, as at least half its contents warmed his chest and joined the myriad of other undefined stains on the front of the Henley.


All tension left his shoulders in an instant.


“I don’t know Heyes… guess I was just thinking…”


“I thought we had a pretty good arrangement about that…” smirked Heyes.


“Well… maybe… But once it started going ‘round… I couldn’t wrangle it outta my brain….”


“Let me guess…“


Heyes screwed up his face in feigned hard thinking, seeming to consider a possibility for a moment, then rejecting it, and then finding another possibility.


Kid watched the pantomime, Heyes’ expressive face reflected in the red embers.


“Are you fretting on leaving one …beautiful… red head from Old Sally’s stable… because… I told you… that Deputy… he…”


“No!”


Kid’s jackal grin spread from ear, to ear. 


“She sure was pretty though… and… accommodating… very accommodating…”


The sapphire blue eyes twinkled.


“Not her …huh?” said Sherlock.


“You …worried about finding work… in Carsdale?  Coz… you know… I got me enough fer a stake… to see us over a few days… till…”


“No.”


Kid looked sheepish.


“But we ain’t doing anymore fencing… not till my back comes back to the right shape… No more fencing… And no cows… We’ll get us something else… something easier this time… right?”


Heyes ignored the question.


“Not jobs then … either… huh?”


He sipped and savoured. 


Kid watched him disbelievingly.


“Not a woman... not a job… gotta be the amnesty… You worried we’re gonna get jipped by the Governor?”


The way Heyes said it, made Kid realise this was something that had kept Heyes awake many a night.


“Nope… Way I see… We either get it or we don’t… No use fretting on it… Ain’t gonna make the man make up his mind any sooner.”


Heyes scowled looking around their little camp. 


The horses, hearing the humans awake, thought grains might be in the offing.   Heyes’ mare whinnied loudly, and Kid’s gelding stomped at the ground.


Heyes’ eyes narrowed.


“You’re worried that if we get recognised …and have to make a run for it… you’ll have to ditch Ding-a-ling… coz his foots still sore” he proclaimed in triumph.


Kid watched his horse as he lifted the sore hoof and shifted his weight. 


The hoof was still sore.  He would have to replace the horse, if the liniment didn’t start working soon.  He was willing to give it a few more days.  It wasn’t keeping him awake at nights.


“Nar… He’ll be fine… It was that last chase… Those mountains were real hard on their feet… Nar ‘s not that… He’ll be fine. I could …just tell you…”


“No… No… I’ll get it… Not a woman, not a job, not amnesty… Not your horse… I know you’re not hungry… you ate near three rabbits!”


Heyes frowned over at Kid. 


What got Kid rattled?


“You ain’t fretting on…”


Heyes studied his feet.


“Killin’s…” he mumbled.


“Killin’s!” Kid spat back, the rest of the coffee dowsing the nearest flames.


“NO… I ain’t fretting on killin’s.  I ain’t sent one man to his maker… didn’t have cause …to get back there …early …and apologise!  … NOT ONE!”


Heyes swallowed. 


He’d been trying to get his cousin relaxed and sleepy, not all riled and angry.  It was just, he was running out of ideas and that was beginning to rile him too.


“OK…ok… It’s just …after Bilson… you had a little trouble sleeping…”


“I’ve made my peace with God …about Bilson…. I had me a talk with a Preist… in Loadstone…”


Kid saw Heyes’ brows rise in question; a quirk of a smile start to dance on his lips. He bit back his own smile.  Heyes often teased him, about being a people’s philosopher.


“It goes like this.  Every man has his purpose.  Seems… my purpose … is to return some of the worst … back to make their own peace… That’s why I’m here … in a time of lawlessness… and why He put a gun in my hand…”


Kid was nodding this through, like he’d rehearsed it many times in his head.


Heyes was speechless, for just a minute.


“A purpose?” he spluttered eventually, hiding his mirth by sipping at his coffee.


“Yeah… It was something like that…” said Kid defensively.


“Like… Why else would I be given a talent… with a gun… less there was a purpose in it…”


Kid looked confused with his own words.


“Well it made sense …when he said it!”


Heyes nodded as sincerely as he could manage.


“Well that don’t leave a lot…” he said.


“A lot …of what?” said Kid.


“To be keeping you awake … and dancing in your blankets…” 
answered Heyes.


“Oh that…”


Kid blew out a long breath.


“My back is protesting real hard… And my neck …won’t ever be straight again… Next time we get a price per post… not per mile…”


“That’s what’s bothering you?” said Heyes in bewilderment. 


“You think we were jipped on the price …fer the fencing…”


Heyes looked disappointed.


“No…“


Heyes smiled again.


“No… My back woke me up… and we were jipped… but …what I was thinking …was… Do you think we got much time left?”


Heyes scowled, confused.


“Time fer what?”


“Everything… Time to live… decent… like other people do.  What if we used it all up … You know …how close we’ve been livin’ it… What if that’s it …There ain’t much left?”


Heyes put down his mug to scrub at his eyes. He harrumphed loudly.


“Kid?”


“Yeah?”


“You know your trouble?”


“What?”


“You got too much time on your hands… When did you ever worry about how much time we’ve got left… before? We been too busy livin’ it …to worry how long it’ll last… I don’t think you’re too well suited… to livin’ decent Kid… Gives you too much time …to do something you just ain’t suited to… thinking!”


Kid chuckled and laid back in his blanket and yawned loudly.


“You asked… I didn’t say it made sense” he stated with another yawn. 


His eyes closed, and he rolled away from the fire.


Heyes sat and watched.


Kid’s shoulders soon began to rise and fall slowly in sleep.


“Purpose?” he whispered to himself.


“Every man …has a purpose?”


He frowned, in deep thought.


Heyes wasn’t getting any more sleep that night.
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Silverkelpie

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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:42 pm

Alter Ego - part 2

The heady scent of jasmine drifted in the warm night air as Abigail sat in the summer house at the end of the garden. It was a quaint, thatched, wooden affair and perfectly in keeping with the twee boarding house. Its clapboard and carved wooden fascias were carefully picked out in beige and brown until it looked like a giant gingerbread house. Mrs. MacPhee had a whimsical sense of the quaint and there was barely a surface or furniture leg unmolested by the doilies or embroidered leg curtains which she imagined inhabited the fine homes of the east.


It had been at least half an hour since Abigail thought she had heard the faint crack of a twig but she continued to sit, waiting patiently for her cautious tryst to be kept. A slight rustle of to her left finally seemed to indicate her visitor had arrived. “Good evening Mr. Heyes. I take it that you've finally ascertained that I'm on my own."


A shadowy figure in the darkness drifted forward through the gloom until it became close enough to morph into a human form.
Heyes stepped up into the summer house and leaned forward to drop a light kiss on the top of her head before he sat beside her.


"Where's Jed?"


"He's around," he replied enigmatically, the moonlight catching a flash of white as he grinned through the darkness. "So? How have you been?"


"I've been well, thanks. You?"


“Fine.” He shrugged. "How did you get on after our last meeting? What did Pinkerton say when you went back empty handed?"


"I didn't go back empty handed. I returned with two murderers. It was just fine."


"But not with Heyes and Curry. How did you explain that? What did you say to Pinkerton?"


"I told him the truth,” her soft laugh tinkled. “He's not the kind of man you lie to."


Heyes sucked in a breath. "The whole truth?"


He saw her head incline slightly in the gloom. "Most of it. You came out of it nobly enough, if that’s what you’re worried about." He laughed softly as she continued. “I told him I had been injured by the Pattersons and that you rescued me and nursed me through my fever."


"The truth, so far."


"Then I had to abandon the pursuit of Hannibal Heyes and Jed Curry as you now knew what I looked like, so I pursued a different case instead. That's also fundamentally true."


"And he was alright with that?"


"Yes. He already knew what I was doing as I had sent to Boston for information. It's good publicity for the agency and its motto, "We Never Sleep". I was unable to deal with one case so I went on and caught two murderers and acted in the public interest. I'll have to explain the robbery today though. He'll know that you would recognise me even if you aren't supposed to have found out that I'm a Pinkerton."


"What are you goin' to tell him?"


"Again, a version of the truth. You recognised me and I convinced you that I had become engaged. The fact that you kept me back to question me should corroborate that. You didn't have to know that I'm using another name."


"Abigail Ansell."


"How did you know?"


His voice chimed with humour. “You aren't the only one who can ask questions, Abi."


She mused on the fact that he knew that she was engaged to the bank manager so it took little skill to find out about who she was. “Yes, servants are always ready to talk to a handsome stranger.”  


“Handsome? You silver-tongued devil,” he lit up with delight.  “I’m at your disposal anytime, Abi.  All you’ve got to do is ask nicely.” 


"Stop that. How much do you know?"


"You're supposed to be the daughter of an Eastern gentleman. You came to the Midwest to research the dime novels you write. You’ve been here for four months and been engaged to Robert Metcalf for a month," he shook his head. “What are you playing at, Abi? That's just plain cruel if you're only playing a part. I hadn't marked you down as that kind of woman.  You don’t play those kind of games."


She slammed him with angry eyes. “How I conduct myself is none of your business."


"Does he already know?" Her eyes glittered in the moonlight, her refusal to answer telling him everything he needed to know.

"He cares for you, you know. He was worried sick about you in that bank. I felt real bad for him, especially knowing that you were in complete control."


"I know he does. He’s very sweet." Her voice was heavy with guilt as she dropped her head. “I hate it.”


"Abi, you could have refused him or put him off. You clearly don't return those feelings."


"I couldn't. I really couldn't. I had my reasons but I wouldn't go as far as saying that I was in complete control. Not with you two around. "


He sighed. “So? What now? You stick around and marry him?"


"Mr. Heyes, I can't see what difference it would make to you if I did."


"I'll take that as a no. At least you got the sense not to go that far." He sat back and folded his long legs at the ankle. "He has no idea? Your kisses must be the most potent lies you tell."


"I don't usually reveal myself and Mr. Metcalf doesn’t have your powers of persuasion," she snorted ironically remembering the night at the cabin, "but then not many men do."


"Mr. Metcalf. Is that what you call him?"


"I call him Robert. Why?"


He moved closer and slipped an arm through hers. "Good. I don't want you calling just anyone mister. That's our thing."
 

"Why are you here, Mr. Heyes? This is none of your business."
 

He turned his head and looked deep into her eyes. "I wanted to see you again. That's not a crime, is it?"


"That depends on what else you're doing whilst you're around."
 

She felt the rumble of his laughter against the arm he held. "I'm a bad man, Abi. Want to find out how bad? I wish I’d known how far you were prepared to go to get a job done back at that cabin. We’d have had a lot more fun. I’d like to see you try to lead me on a merry dance of seduction.”
 

“I do not lead men on for fun. It’s necessary.” She shrugged him off and stood. "What do you want? I have a job to do."
 

“It was a joke, Abi. I guess it says I’m different, since you didn’t play those games. You knew I found you attractive.” He sat back and folded his arms, his broad smile catching the moonlight. "I want to make sure you're safe. You tend to take risks I don't think are acceptable."
 

She closed her eyes as her stomach sank, guilt closing in. "I'm protecting someone's life. That's all you have to know. I have to stick around no matter what until I'm told otherwise and I’ll do what it takes to get it done," she paused. “To a point. There are lines I never cross.”
 

"A guard? You?"
 

She bristled at his disbelief. "Don’t start that. Just because I'm a woman."


"And what a woman," he leaned forward and fixed her with a determined stare, "but just how good are you with a gun?"


"That's none of your business Mr. Heyes. In any case I'm not that sort of bodyguard."
 

He shook his head and stood too. "Madness. I don't know what the world’s coming to. I need to go but can I see you again? Dinner perhaps? For old time’s sake?"

"I can't. I agreed to meet you once. That's it."


“No, it’s not.” He walked over and stroked her cheek softly as his intense eyes burned into her. "I'll be in touch."

Her eyes fixed on him, genuine desperation floating in the depths of the blackness. "Please. Don’t. I really mean this. You have to keep away. As far as possible. Go anywhere else and lie low for at least three months." He grinned at her, but she grabbed onto his arm. “Promise me. You must keep away! I’ve never been more serious in my life."


He gathered her face in both hands dropped a kiss lightly on her lips. "Goodnight, Abi.” He stared into her eyes before he sighed and stepped back. In less than a few seconds he was enveloped by the darkness.


                                                                ~~~

Abigail walked back into the house with a knot of angst forming in her stomach. She was doing her job and she had sworn to do it to the best of her ability, but she hated duplicity and double dealing.


"How did it go?"

She looked at the tall blond man who stood in the kitchen, his strange pale blue eyes appraising her hopefully. "Just as expected Frank. He wants to see me again."


He nodded and smiled. "Good. I guess Jed was there too but after a few dates neither of them will suspect what they're walking into. With men like Curry it's always better to catch them unawares and the longer they think you're involved with Heyes the more they'll be lulled into a false sense of security. This makes the whole plan even better."


She dropped her head. "I hate this. They saved my life you know."


He stepped forward and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.


"I know. You got a rotten job here. You have to string Metcalf and Heyes along at the same time, but if anyone can do it you can. I trust you."

"I'll do my job. Don't worry about that,” she answered.


"I know you will.  Are you sure they don't suspect?"


"Would you? All I've done is try to avoid them and put them off because I know they can't resist a challenge. There's no way they suspect that this whole thing's set up to entrap them. If you put it around that a successful bank has a large payroll coming in this close to The Devil’s Hole Gang’s main area of operation it's only a matter of time before Heyes and Curry walk into it."


Frank McCully drained the last of his coffee and put his cup down on the table with a characteristic clatter. He was not a gentle man.  "A good night's work. Not long now. I'm turning in."


Abigail smiled at him briefly before her face dropped into a blank expressionless mask, her eyes almost black in the lamp light "Yes. Not long now," she murmured.

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PostSubject: Re: Dancing   Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:19 am

Dancing With The Devil

I've been dancing with the devil for far too long,
Need to break this step,
Need to end this song,
My mind is finally opening,
To what I couldn't see,
The light that shines in heaven,
That darkness hid from me,
I need to leave the crime behind
I need to work to be free
So I drop the hands that keep me tied,
I look away from his eyes,
Its been so long since I've seen the light,
The freedom of love,
The meaning of life,
My final dance with the devil ends tonight.
Tonight I go for amnesty.

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