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 Utter

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PostSubject: Utter   Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:38 am

Your new prompt, should you accept the challenge, is to give us your best interpretation for the prompt 


safe  utter  Draw


That can not only mean something said, muttered, last words, declared in writing or by word of mouth, an oath, or anything which can be said or written, it can also mean to pass over money, forged or otherwise. Allthat gives you a very free hand to give us a story.


Don't forget to comment on last months story before starting on July's as comments are the only thanks our writers get.     
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Cal

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PostSubject: Re: Utter   Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:23 am

I'm in like greased racing snake this month.... Huge apologies ...to everyone.... Hope I don't get excommunicated...


Utter Drivel


“Hi love … What you doing?”

“Not much … Thought I’d make an early start on a challenge this month … Left it really late last month …. Nearly missed it!”

“And … How’s it going?”

“Utter drivel! Can’t think of anything … Huuuumph … Where’s a dimpled ex-outlaw when you need one?”

“Heyes?  Haven’t seen him ‘round …fer weeks … Thought you must have done something to upset him.”

“Me! Since when did I upset him … When’s the last time I shot him?  Or had him go back so young his voice went up three octaves?  I’m the nice one ...remember? … the kind, woosy one … I hardly ever hurt him.”

“Ok … Ok … Just thought … as how we hadn’t seen him for a bit… Can’t Kid help?”

“He’s gone… already.  Think I may have upset him …with a vegan lunch … He said something about heading out West fer a bit … I think he meant fer a steak… hehehe…. Anyway… This needs Heyes’ genius.  Its tricksy.”

“Ring ‘round the gang … Someone’s feeding him …you can be sure.”

“Yeah … yeah … OK … Good idea.”
 
BIRRRRP BIRRRP BEEP


Allo allo… I am so sorry … MoulinP can’t come to zee phone right now … Listen very carefully … I will say zis only once …. Leave a message after zer…


BEEEEP


“Hi… Moulin … It’s Cal …. I was wondering … is Heyes there? Could you get him to ring me … it’s about this utter drivel I’m writing … it needs some genius input … Well … If you do happen to…”

CLUNK


“Allo? Cal? Is zat you?”

“Oh…. Hi Moulin… Yeah … I’m looking for Heyes…”

“Oh… Zis is terrible … You ‘ave just missed ‘im … ‘e ‘as been…. ‘ow you say…. ‘elping me … wiz… um… zer crumpets… er… zer baking of zer crumpets….”

“Oh … That’s nice… Did he say where he was headed?”

“Well… He said ‘e thought …Kelpie …would like to share in zee crumpets…”

“Kelpie? Silver kelpie…. Ok …Thank you”

“Au revoir“

CLUNK




 
“Any luck love?”

“No … Moulin thinks he’s heading to Kelpie’s… for crumpets…”

“Crumpet with Kelpie … Yes… That sounds like Heyes.  I been thinking…”

“I thought we had a pretty fair arrangement about that…”

“Ha … ha … Save it for the page … I’ve been thinking … Didn’t you have Kid, give Heyes a pretty good thump, not so long ago?”

“Well …yes… It was necessary … for the story … Heyes knows I don’t just thump him for nothing.  You think he’s sulking?”

“Point is… you didn’t thump him … Kid did.”

“Huh?”

“Kid has a thump like a mule … I remember … “

“Oh, come on… I thought you were over that … You know Kid was just being gallant … He didn’t know you’d cut your head open, playing footie, the day of our first date … and it was your blood all over me, after we slow danced… He thought…”

“I know … I know … But I’m just saying… Kid’s got a hell of a thump and Heyes isn’t going to forget that in a hurry… And you wrote it.”

“Perhaps I should apologise?”

“Perhaps you should.”
 
BIRRRRP BIRRRP BEEP


Ouch eye …. Hallooo … I’m afraid Silver Kelpie can’t come to the phone just now… I’m away busy … wait for the…


BEEEP


“Oh … Hello … Kelpie ... it’s Cal… I’m looking for Heyes… I think I may owe him an apology… and I need his help with some utter drivel… I’m trying to write… Moulin said…”

CLUNK


“HALLLOOOOO…. Cal? Is that you, yourself there… looking for Heyes… What makes you…mmm….mmmm…. uum …..What makes you think …he’s been here, Dear?”

“Kelpie... Are you eating crumpet?”

“CRUMPET? … The very thought, Dear… What’s that Moulin been saying about me an’ Heyes?”

“Oh… nothing ... nothing at all … it’s just, I was just hoping to have a word with him…”

“Well… he was here, Dear…. Earlier … But he heard Distant Drums … and he said he had to fly… I’ve got to fly too Dear … sorry…. I just had this utterly fantastic idea for a story… pop right into my head… Goodbye Dear!”

CLUNK


“Oh … That’s nice … Oh … You’ve gone…”


 
“Any luck with Kelpie? Here… I’ve brought you a nice cup of tea… and a biscuit… vegan… just like you like it when you’re writing… Are you writing?”

“Not so you’d notice.  Oh … that’s so thoughtful of you… Don’t suppose you got any ideas this month? … You were brilliant helping me write Harry Briscoe Rides Again.”

“Yeah … it was my idea that the older partner in the law firm already investigated Crooke, wasn’t it?”

“Yes!”

“No.”

“No …. what?”

“No … no new ideas…. I’m utterly clueless… Why don’t you try NebraskaWildfire? … Got to be worth a try… Now Heyes ’as been East of the Mississippi … there’s no stopping him.”

“Guess you’re right…  I could really do with his help… What I’ve written so far … IS UTTERLY DREADFUL!”

 
BIRRRRP BIRRRP BEEP (Not another answer phone… Doesn’t anyone just pick up any more?)

Boom ba boom boom … Boom ba boom boom … Shucks… Hi … This is NBW’s phone… We’re kinda busy right now… um ….  DD and NBW out…


BEEEEEP


“Hello? … Hello? Is that Distant Drums… I thought I called Nebraska Wildfire… Sorry …. This is Cal …. I was wondering if either of you had seen Heyes?”

CLUNK


“Cal?... Cal?... Is that you Honey?... Hi…”

“Heyes?”

“Yeah… it’s me… I’m kinda… tied up right now… But I’ll ring you back… soon as I can … Bye!”

CLUNK


“Oh … Bye…”


 
“Well?”

“Says he’s tied up…”

“Really? Hahaha …. Did I hear drumming?”

“Yes… I think DD was there too…”

“Really??? Hahahahaha…”

“You’re really not helping you know… I need inspiration… it’s utterly maddening…”

“You know you can always rely on RosieAnnie…”

“OK… But I just may not be able to think of anything this month…”

 
BIRRRRP BIRRRP BIRRRRP BIRRRP… (Come on… come on… at least it didn’t go to answerphone)

“Hello… RosieAnnie here… Who’s that?”

“Hi Rosie… it’s Cal… I’m having a little trouble…”

“Excuse me Cal… Just one second… 
 
HEY KID… COULD YOU MAKE SURE EVERYONE HAS NIBBLES… I THINK YOU MISSED GIN16 and SKYKOMISH… THERE OVER BY THE DVD COLLECTION WITH HELENWEST AND GRINGA… AND KID… WILL YOU FIX KEAYS AND HANNAHEYES A DRINK… BOY… DID I KNOW YOU’D GET A KICK OUT OF THAT ONE…

Cal? …Cal? You still there?”

“Yeah… yeah… I’m still here… Kid’s with you then… and the whole gang?”

“Yeah… Plenty of room for the rest of you… If you got nothing better to do… get yourselves over here … I was just ringing Moulin and Kelpie… You got Heyes with you?”

“No…. no… but he’s ringing me back … soon I think… He’s with DistantDrums and NeBraskaWildfire.”

“Well… what you waiting fer… Round ‘em up …and get yourself over here… If we’re lucky … we might persuade Kid not to sing us a song…

HEY I HEARD THAT!

What do yer say?”

“I say… Thank you… that would be UTTERLY BRILLIANT… “

---oooOOOooo---


Last edited by Cal on Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Re: Utter   Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:23 am

   
Nothing as cute as Cal's effort, but just a sweet little tale I hope you enjoy, as much as I've been enjoying the wildflowers around here, that inspired it.
  
  
Blue


His eyes were bluer than the cornflowers in the field.  

They were the first thing she had noticed about him, all those years ago, when they first met at the Valparaiso Home for Waywards.  She remembered staring at him in utter amazement, being lost in those eyes.  

He, of course, had not really noticed her, since she was three years younger than he was, and at that age a few years mattered a great deal.  He had always been kind to her, in an older brother kind of way, scaring off any of the bullies who had operated below the notice of the Sisters at the Home.

She still remembered how lost she had felt when he and Han had run away.  

The Sisters had been good to her, eventually finding a teaching position out here.  Then there was the miracle of finding Sam, the love of her life to marry and start a family.

But there had always been that small hole in her heart, for her first love, her first crush.

Now, all these years later, he had come down her lane, with those blue, blue eyes seeing everything, but still not really seeing her.  Sam had gone into town, looking for a couple hands to help repair the corral, after the storm.  Back he had come, with Jed beside him, and with that dark shaggy hair and chocolate brown eyes, it could only be his cousin, Han.

Sam was in a good mood, smiling and laughing with the boys, glad to find a couple of able bodied men to help out.  She and the children walked out to meet them as they pulled up by the remnants of the corral.  Her husband turned to greet her, giving her a hug and kiss.

“Molly, this here is Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones.  Boys, this is my lovely wife, Molly.”

She smiled widely.  “Pleased to me you boys,” she replied, but her eyes were searching.  She locked gazes with Thaddeus Jones, but he only responded with a quizzical look.  

“Ma’am.”  He touched his hat.

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”  She turned to smile at Joshua Smith.  He met her eyes, and she realized that he knew they had met before.  She didn’t think he had quite figured out where, but knew he was working on it.


*****


Sam had come in to wash up before supper, after settling in with the boys and getting the chores done.

“You feeling okay today, sweetheart?” Sam asked with a question in his eyes.

“Yes, I’m doing fine.”  She smiled at him, but before he could ask more, Mary and Hiram came tumbling towards their father, needing more hugs and kisses since he had been gone to town for the day.

A slight knock came to the door, and the boys came through.

“Not meaning to bother you ma’am,” Thaddeus said softly, but Sam said supper’d probably be ready by the time we had cleaned up.”  

She knew he and Han had lived a hard life in the years since she had seen them, but his blue eyes still twinkled like they did when he was fifteen.  

“Yes, it is, boys.  Just sit on down with Sam here, and I’ll have the rest of it on the table by the time you’re all settled.”

She turned back to the stove, crossing gazes with Joshua.  He was still wary of her.  With his brain, she knew he’d figure it out eventually, but not quite yet.

By the time supper was eaten, with the Mary and Hiram behaving, but extracting attention from both Sam and the boys, Molly was happy to retreat afterwards to clean up, with Mary as a tired but willing helper, and all four boys out on the porch relaxing.


*****


By the time Molly made it to their bed, she had assumed Sam was fast asleep.  The children had taken some time to settle, after the excitement of the day.  She rested her head on the pillow and closed her eyes, but her mind was still whirling.

She remembered when she had first heard that they were wanted.  All she could remember were Han’s dimples and soft laugh, and Jed’s sweet smile and those blue, blue eyes.  She could never reconcile those images with the dangerous outlaws portrayed in all the tales she heard.  She knew they were known for never having shot anyone in all the trains and banks they robbed, but the stories still told of exploding safes, and torn up train tracks.

She remembered when she realized she had not heard of any recent exploits of theirs for quite a while, at least a couple years.  The hole in her heart had expanded just a bit.  She figured if they had been killed, it would have made it to the newspapers, but she had still wondered what had happened to them.

Then today, they sat here at her dinner table, teasing her children, complimenting her cooking, seeming like the Han and Jed of old, and not like desperate wanted men.  She wondered what the next couple days would bring.

“The little one bothering you?” Sam shifted and put his arm around her.  She started a bit, thinking back to see if she had actually said anything out loud as she has been thinking about the boys, but she settled into his arms, taking in their comfort.

“No.”  She ran her hand over her barely rounded belly.  “Maybe I’m just a bit tired.”

She knew Sam wasn’t really satisfied with her answer, as they knew each other too well, but he let it go, and they settled into sleep.


*****


To Molly’s surprise and delight the next few days passed as in a dream.  The boys worked diligently with Sam, not only repairing the corral, but also the roof and outbuildings.  

This day was hot and still.  Sam had gone into town to bring more supplies, since the repairs had been going so well.  Molly had banked the stove down as far as she could without losing the fire, but the house still was warm from its heat.  With her apron, she wiped sweat from her brow, as she went to check on the children who were down for a nap.  They were restless in the heat, but a breeze had started to pick up and was wafting in the bedroom window.  It should help the children sleep a while longer.

She picked up a plate of biscuits, leftover from breakfast, and a jug and cups, and headed towards the pump in the yard.  She filled the jug with water from the depths of the well, and headed over to the barn where the boys were finishing up some repairs to the doors.  

“I have some cool water for you, if you’re ready for a break from this sun,” she called to the boys as she continued and set up under a tree.

“We’d be mighty grateful, ma’am,” Joshua had answered, as the boys came to sit by her, and she poured them full cups.

Thaddeus took off his hat and leaned back against the tree, eyes closed, gratefully drinking.

“I have some biscuits and honey here, if you need something before supper.”  She passed the plate towards them.  Joshua took one, meeting her eyes with a wary glance.  

She then turned towards Thaddeus, and he opened his eyes, and the blue shone brightly, even in the shade of the tree.

He knew who she was.  He had remembered.

She turned back towards Han, and saw the knowledge in his eyes too.

She took a breath, and looked over the cornfield, giving herself a moment to compose her face.  She then met Jed’s eyes.

“It is Molly, isn’t it?” Han asked.  “From the Home?”

She nodded.  “How long have you known?”

“A couple days.”  Han held out his cup for a refill and she complied.

“When you and Mary were weeding the garden,” Jed said quietly.  “I remember you doing that at the Home, with Sally, wasn’t it?”

She nodded again.  “Sally lives in Texas now.”

“Mary looks so much like you did when you were young.”  Jed smiled, and Molly couldn’t help but return it.  She turned to look at Han, but he wasn’t smiling.

“When did you remember who we were?” he asked.

She smiled at him, and then met Jed’s blue eyes again.  “The moment Sam brought you down the lane.”

“So you don’t plan to turn us in?” Han asked.

“Of course not!” Molly felt anger rise.  “Why would you think that?”

“We don’t, Molly,” Jed replied.

Molly could see that Han was still wary.  “All these years I wondered about you two.  The reports in the papers just didn’t sound like the boys I knew.”

“Yeah, we made some choices the Sisters wouldna been proud of.”  The Kid looked down.

“We had to survive.”  Heyes’ voice was harsher than Curry’s.

Molly nodded and met his gaze.  It was easier than meeting Jed’s.  “And now what?  I’ve not heard much about you two lately."

“We’re tryin’ to go straight,” Jed replied.

“Really?  After all this time?”

“Yes,” Han said.  “We didn’t want to end up dead, or worse.”

“I’m glad.”  Molly smiled back at them, but then heard Mary call for her, and Hiram’s cry.  She gathered up the dishes and stood.

“And now, Molly?” Heyes asked.

“Now you two better get that door fixed before supper.  I’m making fried chicken.”

Jed smiled.


*****


It was two days later that the posse came through.  

They boys had left early the day before, hugging Molly and the kids, gratefully accepting what Sam could pay them for their work.

“If you ever need us, Molly, send a telegram to Sheriff Lom Trevors, in Porterville, Wyoming,” the Kid told her quietly, as Heyes had pulled Sam away to help fill their canteens.

“A sheriff?” she asked.

“Yeah, he’s an old friend, who’s helping us … go straight.”  Jed gave her one more brief but tight hug.  Then he turned and walked away towards their horses.

They both turned and waved before they rode back down her lane and out of her life.


*****


“We’re after two hardened criminals,” the sheriff leading the posse told Sam.  They had stopped at the homestead, and were offered drinks of cool water.  “We heard in town that you might have taken on a couple of hands recently.”  He looked around.

“Yeah, I did,” Sam said calmly.  “But they weren’t outlaws.  Just a couple of boys looking for work.  They did a good job for me.  Didn’t act like anyone dangerous.  Heck, one of them played hop scotch with Mary there.”

Molly was standing on the porch, keeping the children at her side.  She was close enough to hear Sam’s words, but not too close to the armed men.

“In any case, sheriff, they rode off a couple days ago, after the work was done.”

“Any idea which way they might have headed?”

“No.”  Sam seemed to ponder.  “Didn’t seem like something I needed to ask.”

“Well, thank you kindly for the water.”  The sheriff was back on his horse and gathered the posse to leave.  “If they do come on back, let Sheriff Stanton in town know.”

“Why?” Sam asked.  “Who do you think they were?”

“We’re chasing a tip about Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, so I’d suggest you be careful.”

Sam laughed.  “Well, if you think these boys were Heyes and Curry, I’d say you’re chasing a false lead.  Tweren’t anything dangerous about them, other than one who seemed able to eat us outta house and home with his appetite.”  He turned smiling still to look at Molly, but his eyes were questioning as he turned.  “But then that might just have been my wife’s good cookin’.”

“Just be careful, in any case,” the sheriff replied, and the posse rode back down their lane.


*****


It was cooler that night.  The children settled surprisingly well, after all the recent visitors.  Molly had undressed and was ready for bed in her light cotton gown.  The breeze felt refreshing on her skin.  

Sam was still out on the porch, smoking his pipe.  She came up quietly behind him, putting her hand on his shoulder and staring along with him out at the cornfield.  They could hear it grow on nights like this.

“When did you meet them?” Sam asked gently.

“It was at the Home."

“Oh.”  He turned to take her in his arms.  He smiled and his blue eyes glittered in the moonlight.
     
     
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Silverkelpie

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PostSubject: Re: Utter   Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:41 pm

Alter Ego - Part Three


"What's so fascinatin’ about those bank books, Heyes? You've been examinin’ them for almost a week."


 He sighed and shut the ledger with a snap.


 "Because they don't add up, Kid. They look real good but they aren’t right. Not against the amount of cash we took from the vault. The bank’s holdings are almost double those declared in the books. In any case I always get suspicious when there's another set of books. I took these from the vault after I saw a full set in Metcalf’s office. I think we got to the money before he did. "


 The Kid grinned. “He's a thief? As bad as us?"

 "Looks like it."


 "I guess that's what she's doin' there."


 Heyes shook his head. “She says she’s guarding someone."


 The Kid snorted with laughter. “And you believed her? Does she look like a bodyguard to you?"
 
Heyes sat back, his eyes glittering with amusement. "Nope, but she never struck me as looking like a sixty year old woman either."


Kid Curry flicked up a questioning eyebrow. "Do you think she can shoot?"
 
"I've no idea but I don't think we can dismiss it."


"I don't want you seein' her again, Heyes. It's too risky. I like her but I don't trust her an inch."
 Heyes smiled. "I'm with you there, partner, but have you ever been drawn by somebody who isn't good for you?"


The Kid’s eyes reflected the pensive memory of her; the girl from St Louis with the hair like gold, eyes like diamonds, and a heart of solid ice. “I guess, but you told me.  I didn't want to hear it."


Heyes eyes danced with mischief. "I'm gonna take her these books. Are you coming?"


“Why? Just leave it can’t you?” 


“I didn’t think I’d ever see her again,” Heyes collected his hat.  “I guess this is my last chance before she moves to another job.” 


"It's gotta be on my terms. I don't trust her.  I want to know more about what she’s doin’ here."
 Heyes sighed. "If you say so, Kid. There’s no point in arguing with you when you’re like this."


~


Kid Curry watched Mrs. MacPhee’s boarding house from the shrubbery for four hours noting everyone who came and went. He’d been a cautious man at the best of times, but when his cousin took stupid risks like this he would go the extra mile. He was able to place the people coming and going against the names he had extracted from the maid who’d been happy to talk to the tall handsome stranger who carried her basket back from the store.


He found her an irritating, shallow girl with a habit of giggling at nothing in particular but he personified charm itself, and by the time he handed over the basket of provisions at the back gate he knew the names of everyone in the boarding house along with a their descriptions and a rough idea of where their rooms were.


He had seen everyone except for the female Pinkerton, who occupied a room the upper floor and the ‘Frankie’ who populated the right hand back bedroom and who had business with Abigail.  His vigil paid off at last when a six foot man with cropped, white-blond hair stopped at the gate.  He tipped his hat to the woman who passed in the street, pushing her perambulator with her child out for the world to view.


The Kid’s breath stilled in horror.  He knew that man; Frank McCully was the bounty hunter who never brought anyone in alive. Carcasses could be transported without escape attempts. He only went after those wanted dead or alive. One shot through the head and it was money in the bank until the next job.


The cause of death also appeared to be strangely contagious for witnesses or anyone who got in the way.  A friend’s wife and children had been found killed by a single shot to the head after his body was turned in, while people in towns, farms and homesteads were found murdered in the same arbitrary fashion wherever he made arrests. Never had a more selfish, venal, and ruthless man worked in what passed for law enforcement and if Abigail had gotten involved with him she had serious questions to answer.


The Kid Conroy’s determination to get those answers hardened. His breathing increased and a familiar tingling feeling crept from his numb fingers until it branched out from his arms and into his chest.  Cold sweat pricked at his skin as a familiar ball of leaden nausea firmed in his belly. That poisoned prism now distorted the way he saw the neat, feminine figure who approached the boarding house.


"Jed?" Abigail's eyes darted around drinking in the surroundings, looking for danger. Why greet her openly on the street, near her gate.


"Abi, come with me. It's urgent."


Her dark eyes were pools of worry as she gazed into his blue lagoons, unaware of the danger lurking in their depths. "Why? What's happened?"


"It's Heyes. He needs you."


He watched her blanch as a delicate hand reached out to him. "Oh, my goodness! What happened? Is he hurt?"


He steered her towards the tethering post where he had left his mount, trying not to sneer at her concern as they walked.  "We need to ride two up. Time’s short."


Abigail's heart thumped in her chest as she followed him.  She couldn’t put her finger on why her survival instincts careened to the forefront of her consciousness, but she hung back, trusting them over his words. "Do we need a doctor? Or a lawyer maybe?"


"We ain't got time. We need to go." He checked the girth strap on his saddle and led the animal out.


"What do you mean we haven't got time? What’s wrong?"


He saw the determination in her face and snapped at her. "Are you comin’ or not?"


He threw his long leg over his mount and stretched out an arm to draw her up behind him.


Abigail paused, struck by his almost cavalier attitude to his cousin’s wellbeing. Heyes could only be hurt or in jail; in which case he needed professional help more than a visit from her. If it required sheer gun power why chose a woman who carried a Derringer.  Alarm bells rang and every nerve in her body tensed.


"Where is he?" She stepped back and she refused to take his hand, her breathing quickening.


"A cabin near here."


"Why me? Why would you bring me? Why not a doctor or a lawyer? You need real help."


The Kid snorted in impatience and leaned over wrapping a long arm around her waist. He lifted her, dropping her in front of him on the saddle as though she weighed next to nothing.


She bucked in his arms. "What are you doing?"


Abigail felt the hard, unmistakable butt of a gun barrel in her ribs as his rasping voice whispered in her ear. “Lady, I ain't got the patience for this. If you want to do it the hard way it'll be real hard. I'd keep my voice down if I were you unless want innocent bystanders involved in this."


She sat stung into silence as she sensed the jeopardy in his words, her breath coming in rapid, shallow gasps. "You wouldn't, Jed. It’s me. Tell me what’s wrong. I can help."


"You?" he uttered the accusation with a snarl. "What if I tell you who I saw at your boardin’ house? I know the murderin’ scum you brought lookin’ for us? Explain why I shouldn’t play by the same rules."


He felt her take a sharp intake of breath as his words landed. She knew. The certainty hardened his resolved. "Looks like you’re mixin’ with folks who don’t care much for our welfare, so I guess it works both ways."


"Jed -“


"Save it. I don't want to hear it. It’ll all be lies and manipulation," he kicked his horse into action. "You got time to think of somethin’ good before we get where we’re goin’. It's a shame for you I'm in no mood for listenin’."


~


The maid stopped halfway down the path, disappointed to see the attentive, handsome, blond man walk off with Miss Ansell. She thought he’d come to see her when he had loitered around the gate but she was nothing if not fickle and was mollified to see a stunning man with auburn highlights in his brown hair walk straight to her.


"Is Miss Ansell at home, miss?"


Why were all the men in town suddenly so handsome, and why did they all seem so interested in Miss Ansell?


"No.” She went that way. With the blond man. A Mr. Black."


Heyes smiled, recognising the alias the Kid sometimes used. "I know him. Are you sure?"


"Oh yes. We spoke earlier and he helped me with the shopping. I thought he called for me but it seems everyone loves Miss Ansell." She tossed a pale brown curl over her shoulder, miffed at being overlooked.


"Everyone?"


"Oh yes! Even Frankie-," she blushed at her indiscrete slip, hinting at a more intimate relationship, "Mr. McCully. He sent me out to see where she had gone."


Heyes’ blood ran cold. "Mr. McCully. Not Frank McCully?"


"Yes. Do you know him? Blond and as handsome as they come, but then everyone seems so good-looking today."


The maid bit back her words as old Clayton, the town drunk, doffed his battered hat to her. He gurned a toothless grin through his mobile grey stubble as he wove his way along the street like a mule performing dressage.


"And is Mr. McCully at home? Has he spoken to anyone? "


"Oh yes. Arrived home about half an hour before Miss Ansell,” her face fell. “Then she left with Mr. Black."


Heyes’s heart turned to lead as he understood the leap the Kid had made. If he had seen Frank McCully with Abi then only one thing could have happened, especially if he had also spoken to this maid.


"Does Miss Ansell know Mr. McCully?"


"Oh yes. I believe they are good friends. If she's not spending time with her fiancé, she's spending it with Mr. McCully. It doesn’t seem quite right, but rich folks seem to have different rules."


He stared off along the street. "What way did they go?"


"I saw her go off with him on his horse,” she pointed out of town as his stomach sank. “That way. All I can say is I wouldn’t stay engaged for long if I went off with as many men as she does."

~


 The horse battered out of town for about two miles, the Kid's arm like an iron band around her waist while the thumping echoed in her tight chest. Abigail fought to remain controlled and calm, but betrayal now drove the enraged man. She felt his hot breath pant in angry snorts against her neck as the countryside flashed by. The musky scent of horse drifted up as they pounded across the hard ground, mingling with the metallic taste of fear creeping from the hard lump of fear forming in her gullet.


The Kid’s raw protectiveness towards his cousin gave him a daunting fierceness. The certainty she’d betrayed them to a bullet in the head courtesy of Frank McCully was surely spinning around and around his addled mind. The gunman’s fury didn’t come as the explosive, hot, venting variety. It crept in as the cold, calculating, and circumspect type; as piercing as a stiletto. He didn’t explode; he’d begun to implode and wasn’t listening. The trust he’d given so grudgingly and began to unravel until he was entangled in a web of horrors. What would he do?  


He drew his sweating horse to a walk and started towards a copse of trees.  Her heart thumped and her breath came in ragged gasps of panic. She was in trouble and she knew it. She steeled herself to control her breathing, to breathe deep and slowly because hysteria would make the matter worse. Everyone in their world knew what McCully did, and anyone who would be prepared to hand them over to a man like him deserved no mercy.


Her mind debated the best course of action, wondering if she should try to talk to him or give in and beg. He’d never been a cruel man. Maybe she begging was a good idea?


He stopped the horse and dismounted before tethering it to a tree and glaring at her with chilling blue eyes. “Get down."


His hard hands still held the reigns and the pommel of the saddle, in complete control of the mount.


"Jed-"


"Get down or I’ll drag you off that damned animal."


Her stomach lurched as she looked into the arctic eyes and decided she should remain quiet. Pride was all she had left and she refused to plead just for the sake of it.  She slipped a leg over the horse and slid to the ground holding eye contact with him all the while, resigned to whatever she faced. A spark of surprise burned in the back of her mind that a man she considered a friend would deliver the final blow. 


"So, what have you got to say?"


She shook her head. "You've already said you're not going to listen. Just do what you're going to do and get it over with." Her voice broke with emotion. "You’re wrong, but you’ve decided. You’ll kill a friend, Jed."


His hands formed into fists, the knuckles showing hard and pale through the taught skin. "No defence? You were going to hand us over to Frank McCully. The man’s a murdering animal."
 Her eyes fixed on his, declaiming her denial. "I wouldn't. Not ever. Don’t you know me well enough by now?"


He leaned over and yelled right in her face. "I saw him!”


"Yes, but it's not what you think -”


"I suppose I ain't bright enough to work it out? Maybe I ain't as dim as you think?"


She backed off as he advanced on her, rattling her head from side to side. "I don't think you're dim. Far from it."


"He's a cold blooded killer and you were goin' to hand us over to him."


"No," she stepped back once more as he advanced on her.


"Enough!" He grasped her by the arm and dragged her into the clearing before swinging her into the centre of the copse. "You know who he is. You know what he does. Why else would you be so scared? Why wouldn’t you have warned Heyes McCully is here?"


“Because I wanted him to leave and he’d have stayed for my sake.” Abigail closed her eyes and sank to her knees. "I’d never hand anyone over to him. I -"


He reached out and grasped the scruff of her neck and dragged her to her feet, catching her hair, making shards of pain lance across her scalp.


"Stand up." He walked around her, looking at her from head to toe as her stomach churned in trepidation. Kid Curry would fight like a lion when he or his were threatened and life didn't get any more dangerous for a wanted outlaw than Frank McCully. "Just what am I supposed to do with you now?" he growled.


A worm of hope ate through her cold fear at his words. She expected a quick death as his temper took over but he was more controlled and considered than she expected. But was that a good thing or a bad thing?


"It's really not what you think."


"You expect me to believe that? That’s the best you could come up with?"


She dropped her head in resigned hopelessness. "Because it’s the truth. Please, take some time to think about this. I didn't even want to meet Mr. Heyes and I did my best to send him away. It's all a coincidence. I’m working on something here, and you turn up to rob the bank. That’s not my fault."


"I don’t believe in coincidences," He snarled, a spot of hot spittle hitting her face. His following whisper more intimidating than his yell. "You know McCully. You know what he does. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't do that to you."


She raised her head and looked straight into his eyes. "Because I’m doing everything in my power to stop that happening to you or anyone else."


"You expect me to believe you?" he bellowed


"Yes. It's the truth and deep down you know it. I’ve been here for months and I had nothing to do with you turning up. You know that. You know how you chose which bank to rob and I had no influence in your choice."


"I don't know anythin’ about you anymore."


"Kid!"


They both turned at the sound of the beating hooves as Heyes galloped into the clearing on a sweating, dun-coloured horse. He took in the scene and dropped from his horse before he walked over to them. "Kid, I know about McCully.”

Heyes frowned and drank in the furious man before him. He knew she was scared, but he also knew she’d be dead by now if the Kid meant to kill her.


His gaze turned to Abigail's before they returned to the Kid's. He raised his eyebrows in query. "Did she tell you she was handing us over to McCully?"


"She didn’t have to! She’s a damned killer, Heyes. I don't believe a word she utters. What are we gonna do with her?"

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb


Last edited by Silverkelpie on Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 57
Location : Norfolk, England

PostSubject: Re: Utter   Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:22 pm

This is my offering for this month. WARNING - one of our boys has died. Hope I don't ruin anyone's day.

Utter

I was already awake when the telephone rang. I had woken with the early morning sun some minutes before and I was lying there contemplating my day, busy with pre-semester lesson planning. The unsettled feeling I had been experiencing for the past few days hadn’t gone away overnight. If anything, this morning it was more intense. I had no idea what was causing it but I hoped it would go away soon. I was finding it hard to concentrate on my work. My wife, Anna, still curled asleep beside me, was well and our baby son snuffling in his bassinette across the room was thriving. If it wasn’t to do with my immediate family then what else could be causing it?


When the telephone tinkled, I knew immediately I had to answer it and that it wouldn’t be good news. I rose gently, trying not to wake Anna but she was already stirring. She slept lightly these days, like any new mother alert for her offspring’s cries.


“Who is it?” she sighed, sleepily rubbing an eye.


“I don’t know,” I said, knotting the tie of my robe securely before I started the long trek downstairs. “Go back to sleep. I’m sure it’s just a wrong number,” I said, more calmly than I felt. I gave her a weak smile.


I hurried to walk downstairs and answer the impatient telephone. Yet at the same time, I didn’t want to answer it. My hand hesitated over the receiver before I lifted it, summoning up the courage to put it to my ear.


“Hallo.” I didn’t give the number like I always did, like telephone etiquette said I should do. For some reason I knew I didn’t need to. This call was for me.


“Hallo Billy.”


A cold shiver ran down my spine. I knew the voice. He had never rung here. I don’t think I had EVER spoken to him on the telephone before. I leant my shoulder against wall, grateful for its support. I had an awful sinking feeling in my stomach. I was right. This was bad news. Why else would he ring?


“Uncle Kid,” I said in reply.


“Sorry to er … wake you,” he continued. I could tell by his voice that something was wrong. And then he uttered the words I knew he would. “I have some bad news, Billy. There’s … .” I heard his voice catch and shudder. I dropped to the chair, legs suddenly unable to hold me. I heard him swallow hard, take a deep breath and then summon up the courage. “There’s been an accident. I’m afraid your father’s dead,” he said, in a rush.


“Oh,” was all I could say. A totally, inadequate little word, I know. More like air escaping than a conscious attempt at a reply.


“Um … .” Uncle Kid didn’t know what to say either. I don’t think he could speak. Yet he needed something from me. Anything.


“How ….?” I couldn’t ask the question. I didn’t want the answer. This couldn’t be real. I put a hand over my eyes and gasped. Tears welled up. I hadn’t considered my father or siblings as the source of my unsettled feeling.


Relations between my father and me had been difficult for some years, since that woman had come into his life. We hadn’t long been reconciled and things were still a little awkward between us. I had declined the invitation to the garden party, held in his honour. That hadn’t endeared me to him by pleading pressure of work. Taking a week out just before the start of the academic year when there was so much to do in preparation was a non-starter. Yet I understood the importance of the occasion. The whole Heyes and Curry family, plus the great and the good of Porterville would be there. My sister had painted a portrait of Pappy, in secret and it would be unveiled at the party. It was destined to hang in Porterville Town Hall alongside other former Mayors. Instead, rather begrudgingly, as a sop, I had agreed we would come for Christmas.


But now … oh now … I really wished I’d gone. I had missed my chance. I would never see my father alive again. Uncle Kid was starting to talk again and I pulled my attention back to him.


“He um slipped on the stairs, Billy. He fell. Broke his neck,” Uncle Kid, managed to get out. I knew he was hurting. He’d known my father all his life. They were best friends, cousins, partners, as close as brothers can be. None of that closeness seemed to change even though they lived two thousand miles apart.


“How did he come to slip?” I asked, in a small voice. Perhaps one of those brat kids had left something on the stairs. No, not brat kids, my little half brother and sister, I told myself firmly.


Anna appeared beside me and I slipped my arm round her waist, grasping at her. She sank to her knees and rested her hands on my thigh, looking at me anxiously.


“Joshua?” Anna whispered, up at me. I nodded. “Oh, William, I’m so sorry.”


“We don’t know Bill. He and Tulsee went home when the party broke up. Harry stayed talking to my boys here at Pine Lake and er … well lets jus’ say they did a lot of damage to my good whiskey. He was very drunk when Chris’ valet took him home in the early hours.” He paused.

“Harry says your father and Tulsee were in bed but still awake. Heyes got up and went downstairs to check the front door was locked. He musta lost his footing. Couldn’t grab hold of anything and went down.” Uncle Kid paused. “It woulda been real quick. The Doc don’t think he suffered.”


“That’s something,” I gasped. “Um … what er … what er happens now?” Of course, I knew that there would be arrangements. Things to sort out. People to tell. A funeral to arrange. I wanted to keep the conversation going, hard as it was, for as long as I could. If I put the telephone down then it would be real. My father would be dead.


“Tulsee seems to think he’d been a little off all day. He seemed fine to me but er … well the Doc wants to carry out an autopsy. Jus’ to er … jus’ to check there was nothing wrong. Tulsee’s given her permission. Best to check.” He paused. “I think he’ll do it today. We’ll know later.”


“She has?” I cried, horrified that she was making such an important decision.


“She’s his wife, Bill,” Uncle Kid said, gently. He was all too aware of my dislike of … that woman.

Even now, I can’t bring myself to utter her name out loud. Now that she is … his widow. That word brought all sorts of thoughts to mind. Things I shouldn’t be thinking about right now and did me no credit at all. Money, house, property. All hers. I shook my head to clear those thoughts away and forced myself to carry on listening.


“Susan and Harry have agreed. Me too,” Uncle Kid was saying, trying to emphasise that it wasn’t just HER decision.


I frowned in pain and scrubbed at my forehead. “Yes, yes of course. I … yes we must know. He was fine you say? At the party?”


“I thought so. A little quiet perhaps but he was making conversation. Heyes can get like that at times. Didn’t think nothin’ of it. The party was going on around him and he was lost in thought. Chris has been helping him with his next book. Doing research an’ that. There’s still some more to write so I guess he was thinking ‘bout that.” He paused again. “I dunno.”


There was silence between us. Nothing to say. It was a lot to take in. I looked down at Anna and
saw her face was wet. She hadn’t know my father well but I know she liked him. Somehow, her sympathy broke the dam that was threatening to breach. She held me as I sobbed, one ear still clasped to the telephone.


“Billy, I’m sorry I had to break this news to ya over the telephone but you needed to know. I would rather have done it in person.” Uncle Kid was gentle but I could tell my sobbing was hurting and embarrassing him.


“No, no, I understand,” I sniffed. The initial shock was over now and I was trying to get a grip.

“Thank you for telling me. I um … I’ll let faculty know when they are in and I’ll  … be on a train by tonight.”


“Thank you. Susan and Harry will appreciate that.”


“How are they?”


“Susan is … well … y’know Susan. She … has some strength to her but I don’t think it’s hit her yet. Leo is staying close and they’ll have to break the news to Alfie of course.”


“And Harry?”


There was silence for a moment.


“I think Harry feels responsible.” I heard Kid lick his lips and continued quickly. “He says he doesn’t remember if he locked the front door when he came in. Hardly surprising considering the state he was in when he left here.”


“But he knows Pappy … ,” I started but I couldn’t continue. It would do no good. All of us kids from early childhood knew our pappy was particular about checking all the ground floor doors and windows were locked before turning in. As a child, Harry had even given it a name – “doing security”.


“Heyes would have gone down to check whether he had locked the door or not, Billy. You know how he … . You mustn’t blame ya brother. He was stone cold sober when I got there. The Doc was already there and Susan was on her way. He done everything he shoulda.”


“Yeah, I know,” I sniffed. “He must feel awful though.”


“Yeah,” he sighed. “Tulsee was hysterical of course. The Doc sedated her. She’ll need to get herself together this morning for the twins. They will have to be told and it won’t be easy. They’re so young. It’ll be better coming from their mother.”


“Yeah ‘xpect. Thanks for telling me, Uncle Kid. I know it wasn’t easy.”


“No well I best let you go. My boys don’t know yet and there are other folks to tell.” He sighed.

“Gonna be a busy day I think. See you soon, Billy.”

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


Who’s Who


Billy – Heyes and Mary’s younger son, William Heyes, Associate Professor of Mathematics at University of California.


After Mary was killed, Heyes married again, a much younger woman, Tulsee Murdoch. They had twins, Lilac and Loren who are four at this time.


Susan, Heyes and Mary’s daughter, married to Leo. Alfie is their son, although Susan had adopted him before her marriage.


Chris – the Kid’s second son.

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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