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 Curry

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PostSubject: Curry   Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:14 am

Time for a new challenge and this one should be easy for all the lightsiders in our midst. Can you give us your best take on the promt in between 4,00 and 150 words?


Your topic for October is 


Curry
cowboy 5
Not only is that the name of an old Irish family, one of our favourite outlaws, but Curry is the name of the spicy Indian food comes from a Tamil word, kari. It was first used in English in the late 1600s. You can curry a horse with a currycomb, and you can also "curry a favour" which means to seek a favour by perhaps devious means or manipulative means. That should suit the Heyes girls in the gang too.


Don't forget to comment on September before moving on to October. Comments are the only thanks our writers get.  
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PostSubject: Re: Curry   Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:45 am

My current story arc was inspired by a discussion about what might keep the boys apart and not searching for each other.  My challenge entries the last two months told Heyes' side of the story.  I had promised a couple of fans of the Kid to post his side this month, so I was thrilled to see that the prompt fit perfectly.


Separation II

He was the last thing we had expected to find that day.

Frank and I had been riding down a game trail, looking for signs of the deer we had been tracking.  He was home from university for the summer.  We were enjoying time in the woods and looking forward to venison.  Father would be happy to have some, when he was home from this round of the circuit court.

The wildflowers were in full bloom.  Goldenrod and Indian paintbrush lined the trail.  We had been meandering, watching for tracks, but suddenly his horse shied.  We had noticed the vultures circling.  That did not bother us so much, since they had probably come upon a bear or wolf kill.  What had bothered us was the possibility that the wolf or bear was still lurking.  We were watchful, trying to calm our horses.  Frank already had his rifle handy, but decided to get down and tied off his mount.  There was a fall of boulders to one side of the trail.  I joined him on the rocks and we cautiously started to climb them, glancing everywhere, but did not notice any animal tracks.  Then off to one side, it looked like the ground might have been disturbed, as if brushed.  Something could have been drug through here, and the area that was disturbed was large.

Frank and I slowly crested the top of the boulders, and he aimed his rifle as we peered down.  There was something under an overhanging rock.  It did not look like a bear or wolf kill, unless they had attacked a man.

We took another look around for any predators, and did not see any signs.  Then and only then did we proceed down into the crevasse.  The man did not look like he had been attacked, other than the blood on his shirt, and some on his head.  It looked like he had been laid out, with a trail blanket over him.  It has been dislodged somewhat, and his hat also.  

We were not certain if it was from animals sniffing, or if the man was still alive.  We cautiously approached and crouched next to him.  He felt cold, but Frank put his hand on the man's carotid artery, as he had been taught at medical school.  There was a slight, barely detectable pulse.


His shaggy curls reminded me of the goldenrod that we had noticed on the trail where we found him.

Frank had tended to him with the help of the local doctor.  They had removed a bullet from his side and cleaned the scrapes on his head.  I had nursed him ever since.

He finally regained consciousness. He blinked some, but his vision probably remained blurred from his concussion.  

"Are you feeling better?" I asked.

"Depends on what I'm supposed to feel better than."  He closed his eyes again.  He turned a little green.

"Well, at least you're answering me."  I moved to the bedside table and softly placed a hand on his arm.  "Here, the doctor said this pain powder should help.  I mixed it in some apple cider, so it shouldn't be so bitter."  I put my arm behind him, helping to lift him enough so he could drink some of the elixir from the cup.

He rested a moment and then tried to open his eyes again.  He still seemed to have problems focusing.  

"Ma'am?" He closed his eyes again.  "Can you tell me where I am?"

"Cottonwood."

Confusion covered his face.  

"Ma'am.  I'm sorry but I don't remember your name."

I laughed softly.  "Considering the state you were in when Frank and I brought you here, I didn't bother to introduce myself.  I'm Bessie.  And you are?"

He looked like several names spun around in his head, but couldn't come up with just one.

"Don't strain.  With your head wound, and the bullet in your side, you are lucky to be alive."  I settled the covers back around him.  "I'm certain it will come back soon."

He was going to nod, but it looked like it hurt his head.  He drifted off to sleep instead.


When he woke next, his gaze was more focused.  

"Good morning!"  I walk over and sat gently on his bed.  "I'm Bessie.  Do you remember?"

"Yes."  It seemed easier for him to answer than to nod.

"You look much better this morning."  I smiled.  "Are you ready for some more pain powder, or some breakfast?"

"Maybe some of both."  He tried to smile, but it looked like everything still hurt.

I patted his arm, and came back in a few minutes with a tray.  He had fallen asleep again, but woke as I sat down.

"Let's get this pain powder into you first."  I helped him with the cup, and then turned to the eggs, feeding him slowly.

He seemed hungry at first, but after just a few bites, he was too tired to eat.

"That's wonderful."  I beamed.  He looked askance at me, but I still smiled.  "Small steps are better than none."  My face clouded.  "The doctor did not give us much hope when we brought him to look at you.  But I prayed and now you are doing very well.  Either God favors you or you have the constitution of a mule."

"I'm betting on the mule, ma'am.  Don't know for certain, but I'm thinkin' God probably doesn't bother with such as me."  He was able to return a shadow of my smile.

"God cares for the lilies in the field and the birds in the air.  He cares for you ..." I looked at him thoughtfully.  "Not to bother you, but do you still not remember your name?"

"No."  He closed his eyes, as they moistened, almost as if he thought it was wrong to let someone else see him cry.

"There were a couple names you muttered, but it sounded like you were calling out to a friend."

"What names?"  His face tensed.

"One was distinctly Joshua."  I tried to remember.  "You also said, hay, or hey, like you were calling for a friend, but it might have been Hayes.  Do any of those sound familiar?"

"Joshua."  He looked thoughtful.  "Yeah, that sounds right.  I have a friend named Joshua."  Suddenly his face was filled with panic.  "Is he here?  Was he hurt too?"

"You were alone when we found you."  I said soothingly.  "What about Hayes?"

Something passed on his face, like he recognized the name, but then he shook his head.

"No, I don't think I have a friend named Heyes."

"Well, that's some progress."  She smiled.  "Ready for breakfast?"

"Always."


He gained strength as the days progressed, but gained little in memory.

Frank and I managed to get him out on the veranda, to get some fresh air.  In the sun his curls glittered like gold, and his eyes were the deepest blue pools I had ever seen.

I took ahold of myself and bustled about, settling a quilt around him.  That only afforded me another look into those cerulean eyes.

“Would you like some water?  Or tea?”  I tried to get myself back into the proper, professional nursing demeanor, like I had been taught at school.

“Actually, Bessie, I’d love some coffee.”  He smiled up at me and I melted.  

“One cup shouldn’t hurt.” I turned and fled into the house.


Health slowly returned to our patient.  He always had a smile for me, and his blue eyes would follow me as I tidied up the room.  He had an appreciative appetite as he felt better, and once I learned he enjoyed “Tom Sawyer” we spent time in the afternoon reading.

I had just finished a chapter, when I looked over to see his eyes closed.  I put my finger in the book, and paused to look out of the window at the brilliant afternoon.

“I think my name is Jed.”

I turned to him, surprise and pleasure on my face.  “When did you remember?”

“I … I’m not certain.”  His blue eyes clouded.

“I’ve had a couple names floating around in my head, and I’m still not certain which is mine.”  He met my gaze.  “But I think I remember being called Jed when I was little.”

“What other names are in that … that head of yours?”  

“I think I’ve been called Thaddeus too.”

“Hmmm.”  I looked at him, evaluating.  “Jed?  Thaddeus?  I could see both.”

A light came into those lovely blue eyes.  “That’s it!  I’m Jedediah Thaddeus.”  He shrugged, but winced a bit.  “Guess I must have gone by my middle name sometimes.”

“Any thought on last name?”

His eyes clouded again.  “Just names swirling.”

“Don’t push yourself.  I’m certain you’ll remember by the time you’re healed.”  I paused.  

“That might be a while yet,” He smiled shyly into my eyes.

“No rush, Jed.”  I smiled back.

It was a few weeks before he was up and about the house.  Our reading sessions had moved out onto the porch and eventually into “Huckleberry Finn.”  Jed was still weak, but seemed like a man who needed to be busy.  Frank found him a knife and some scrap wood.  Jed became a favorite of all the children in the area, as he turned out an amazing number of cats, dogs, horses, and whatever else was requested.

The sheriff had come by a time or two, trying to get Jed to remember how he had come to be shot, but that memory had yet to return.  He was never comfortable around the sheriff.  I asked him why but he had no answer.

One day, as the summer slide into fall, it came time for Frank to return to his studies.  Father was often away on the circuit court, and a serious question arose.

“He’s not well enough to leave, and that’s my professional opinion!” I stated rather emphatically.

Father nodded, but captured my gaze.  “Doctor Samuels agrees, but Bessie, don’t you see, you and he cannot stay here in the house together, once Frank is back at school, and I’m gone.”

“I’ve stayed by myself before!”

“Bessie,” Father shook his head.  “You know that’s not the issue.”

We turned as Jed walked slowly into the room.  “I’m sorry I’ve had to be so beholdin’ to you all.  I can leave.”

“And go where?”  I asked in my fierce nurse voice.  “And do what?  You’d collapse doing any full day of work.  You’ve still not recovered from all the blood loss.”  I shook my head.  “You don’t even have enough money to purchase a train or stage ticket out of town.”

“Appears to be a room above your shed out back.”  Jed said quietly.

“Oh, but you’re much too unwell …”

“Shouldn’t be by the time your pa needs to leave for his next round of lawyering.”

I had to admit that Jed was recovering very quickly for a man who had been at death’s door when we found him.  He had been well enough to bathe himself lately, but the first couple of weeks, I had done that for him.  My nurse’s training had kept it on a professional level, but it did not keep me from noticing this was not the first time he had been shot.  I wondered anew who he really was.


In the end, he did move out into the room above the barn where we kept our horses.  He picked up odd jobs around town, from chopping the Widow Simpson’s winter supply of wood, to dealing at the saloon when their regular man was under the weather, to delivering documents as needed from the county courthouse.  As his strength returned, he tended to favor the last, often timing out of town trips, for when Father was gone, but not always.

I worried about him catching the grippe in some of the cold weather, but he assured me that he could remember being out in worse.

I also stopped asking him if he remembered more.  It always seemed to bother him, so I stopped.  He had settled into life in our town. 

Father was on his last circuit trip of the year, before the holidays came and it turned bitterly cold.  Jed had come in to share a dinner of beef stew and cornbread.  

“I think I’ve remembered my last name.”

“Oh, Jed, that’s wonderful!”  I smiled, but my eyes turned away from him.  There would be no reason for him to stay any longer, if he had another life waiting for him.

“I think it’s Jones.”

“Jones?”  I looked back at him.  “Are you certain?”  He was such a remarkable man, I could not see how he had such a simple name as Jones.

“Well, not really, but it’s the name that always keeps comin’ to mind.”  His blue eyes looked off into the distance.  “Thaddeus Jones.  That sounds right to me.”

“Not Jedediah Jones?”

“Nah, must have been going by Thaddeus.”

We both stopped pursuing that train of thought.  His gun belt fit him too well, and his gun, even now, was too well cleaned, for him to be just a drifter.

“So Jedediah Thaddeus Jones?”  I asked.  It sounded better that way.

“Yeah, I think so.”  He nodded and seemed happy to finally have a name.


I accompanied him to the sheriff’s office one crisp afternoon.  Jed was not happy.

“What if you have a wife and child waiting to hear word?”  A chill besides the cold December wind went down my back.

“Nah, I don’t remember no wife.  Or child.”  I could see thoughts swirling on his face.  “Just Joshua.”

“Do you remember Joshua’s last name?”

“I wanna say Smith, but that would just be silly, wouldn’t it?”  He looked at me with a half of a smile gracing that face and those blue eyes.

I smiled back, drinking in the sun glinting off the curls under his hat.  He really needed a haircut, but I loved those curls so had yet to suggest it.

The sheriff had not received any notice of any Jed Jones gone missing, but said he’d send a few telegraphs up and down the line.  

Jed took a deep breath of the fresh crisp air, after we left the sheriff’s office.

“Don’t know why, Bessie, but I just can’t take to that man.”  He shook his head and those wonderful curls swirled.  “Just don’t feel right to me.”

I put my hand in the crook of his arm as we walked down the street.  

“Sorry to take such a liberty, Jedediah, but this winter wind is biting, even with the sun out today.”  I huddled against him, telling myself it was because of the cold.

“Cain’t have you getting the grippe before Christmas, can we?”  He smiled down at me and put his arm around my shoulders.  I gladly put my arms around his waist.  

He was warm in his sheepskin coat.  I had gotten most of the blood out of it.  It was a good thing, since he had refused Father’s offer to purchase him a new coat.  Jed had said it was like an old friend, one he still remembered.  

Father and I thought about buying him a new coat for Christmas, but I settled for making him a couple of new shirts.

“Let’s stop into the mercantile.  I need some more embroidery floss to finish the handkerchiefs for Father.”

“Let me buy that,” he said as we entered the store.  “I need to help pay if they are supposed to be from both of us.”  He had been earning good wages delivering documents, so I nodded.

“I’ll need some almond extract too, for the baking I’ll be starting.”

He smiled.  “I’ll be more’n happy to buy that for you too.  Your bakin’ is some of the best I’ve ever tasted.”


I do not know how he managed it, but Jedediah sat next to me during Christmas Eve services.  Propriety dictated that I sit between Father and Frank, who was home for the Christmas break.  Father was on my left, with Frank beyond him, but Jedediah was to my right.  As the church was filled to bursting for the holiday service, Jedediah and I sat closer that night, than we had ever before.  The winter wind blew in snow that night, but I was warm next to him.


Father had pulled out the brandy after we arrived back home, to warm us up before we all headed off to our separate, cold beds.  Jedediah was once again sleeping in the spare bedroom.  With Father and Frank home, and the rooms above the barn impossible to keep warm in this winter weather, my reputation was not as important as Jed avoiding the grippe.

I had tried to read for a while, but I just couldn’t settle with the winds howling.  I put on my wrapper and slippers, thinking a warm cup of tea might help me finally find some sleep that night.  I crept quietly down to the parlor with its warm fireplace.  Father had banked it before we went up, but I thought I should be able to coax back enough fire for tea.

As I came in, I was surprised to see flames crackling.  Then I saw Jedediah ensconced in one of the wing chairs.  He looked up as I came in, the fire reflecting in his eyes, making them glow, with the smile on his face.

“I just came for some tea,” I said lamely, not confident standing in front of him in my night clothes.

“I have coffee warmin’ on the hearth, but I can go grab the tea kettle for you, Bessie.”  

He made to get up, but I stopped him with a hand against his chest.  Our eyes met in the flickering twilight.  He pulled me into his lap and kissed me.


That holiday season was the happiest I had known, at least since we had lost Mother.  I cooked up a storm for my three men.  We ate, laughed, played cards, sang.  We took the sleigh out on crisp, bright days.

I think both Father and Frank knew Jed and I did more than drink tea when we stayed up after the two of them retired for the night.  I know Father had hoped I would marry a doctor or lawyer.  After I had come home from Denver to keep house when Mother died, there were not many such choices in the town in which we lived.  They had come to admire and trust Jed, and I had come to love him.

January came.  Frank had gone back to school, and the bitter cold had settled.  Jed had continued to sleep in our spare room.  Occasionally during the frigid nights, after Father was fast asleep, one of us would creep into the other’s bed.  We would no longer feel the chill.

After one of the particularly bad storms, Jed had gone out to clear snow off of the roof.  I had offered to go out with him, but he insisted that he was fine, and it was too cold for both of us to be out.  

I was in the kitchen baking bread when I heard him slip and fall.  I grabbed my cloak and rushed out.  He was lying in the snowbank that had broken his fall, but was stunned after hitting his head on a patch of ice.  Father and I managed to get him back into bed, and I watched him like a hawk for the next two days.  He was disorientated and dazed for a day, but then his eyes cleared.

“Bessie, I’m fine.  You should go rest.”

“Let me see your eyes.”  I tested his responsiveness, and even to my critical review, he seemed fine.  

I didn’t notice how detached he had become.  

It came to me over the next couple days.  I tried to attribute his change of attitude to his recovery.  I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t come to my bed for the next couple of days.  I was tired, and assumed he was too.

Father had retired early after supper that night.  He had a touch of the grippe and I had encouraged him to get some extra rest.  

Jed had come in from a final check on the animals.  I got up from where I had been sitting by the hearth, to help him out of his coat.  I had worried that he would just head to his bedroom as he had the last couple of nights.

He turned to look at me, and I saw sorrow in his eyes.  It touched me so intently that I put my arms around him to hug him.  He was stiff at first in my embrace, but then let himself melt into my arms.  We stood that way for a couple of minutes.  As he started to pull away, a sigh escaped me.  I knew I needed to find out what had changed, but at the same time knew it would end the idyll we had enjoyed.

He looked into my face once more, seeing the sense of loss I was feeling, and I saw a decision come into his eyes.  He bent his head and kissed me.


It was a couple of hours later, when we were lying entwined under the comforters on my bed, that he shattered my dreams.

“Bessie.”

“Hmmm?”  I was as relaxed as I ever remembered being, not wanting the moment to end, knowing it had to soon, as dawn was coming.

“I remember who I really am.”

I raised my head off of his chest, and met his eyes in the glittering twilight of my room, the moonlight streaming in the window, glinting off the snow outside.

“It means I can’t stay.”

“Why?” My voice trembled a bit, even though I tried to control it.  “You said you didn’t remember a wife.”

“No, darlin’.  I ain’t got no wife.”

“Then why?”

“I have someone I have to find.”

“Who?”

“My partner.”

“Partner?  Law partner?”

He laughed that lovely low laugh, that even then gave me tingles down my spine.

“No, Bessie.  Kinda the opposite kind of partner.”

We were quiet for a while.

“So, you are an outlaw?”

“I was.”

“Was?”

“Kinda retired.”

“Oh.”  I put my head back down and snuggled against him.  He stretched against me.  “Then why can’t you stay?”

“I’m still wanted.”  He sighed.  “Cain’t bring that upon you and your family.  Not with your father being a lawyer and all.”

“Can’t Father help you?”  My mind whirled.  “I’ve heard of outlaws getting amnesties …”

“We’ve already tried that.  Been promised that for a couple years, if we went straight, but it’s never a good time to grant it.”  His sigh this time was deep.

“Who are you?”

I didn’t think he was going to answer me, but finally he said.  “My name really is Jed.”

“Jed?  That is your real name?  But you said …”

He stilled me.  “It’s not Jed Jones.”  He stroked my arm, and then continued.  “It’s Jedediah Thaddeus Curry.  Kid Curry.”

My intake of breath was sharp and I raised up to meet his eyes again.  There was knowledge in them I had not seen before.  I lay back down and started to cry silently.
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PostSubject: Re: Curry   Mon Oct 02, 2017 5:35 pm

I was also delighted to see the topic for this month. A gift!

Alter Ego - Part Six

"What do you want?" Abigail groaned as she stared into Heyes’ laughing eyes.


He watched the maid's departing back and took a seat in the parlor beside the huge fronds of the potted palm which filled the corner of the room with lush vegetation, making sure he spoke loud enough to be overheard by her.


"You've missed your publishing deadline. I called to see you yesterday but you were out."


"Deadline?"


He dropped his voice to a whisper. "Yes. You publish dime novels, remember? I’m your publisher."


She sat simmering at him as his face displayed his unconstrained amusement at her obvious annoyance. "This isn’t a game.”


"Get McCully in here. On some pretext or other."


"Why? I thought you weren't here for him?"


"The Kid isn’t. I never said anything of the sort."


Abigail glared at him. "Get out of here, right now."


"Nope. I need to speak to him. If he thinks a publishers around he might be less likely to get trigger happy. He may think he's being watched and written about."


"I'm warning you."


"Leave it out, Abi. What’s the harm in a little subterfuge?"


"When you're involved in it, the potential harm in unquantifiable."


Heyes chuckled as she stood and stormed towards the door.


"I think you'd better leave."


"Who should?"


Abigail's stomach sank as she saw the unmistakable cropped, blond hair of Frank McCully approach the parlor, his broad shoulders betraying his bullish body language.


"Meg said you had a visitor. I thought I'd come and see who was calling, this far from your home town."


He opened the door and looked around the room as Heyes stood and proffered a hand in greeting.


"Perceval Walter. Perceval. Miss Ansell promised me a draft of her story about her time with Heyes and Curry. It's late."


Frank McCully's eyes darted over to Abigail as he closed the door behind him and leaned on it, blocking the exit from the room. His chilling blue eyes transmitted an earnest warning. "My name’s Frank McCully and she’s workin’ for me. It ain't her real name, mister. Suppose you tell me the truth?"


The smile dropped from Heyes’ eyes but the grin remained as thought set in ice. "I know that. I wasn't aware anyone else did. Suppose you explain how you know it?"


"I’m payin’ her."


Heyes nodded and sat again, but Abigail noticed he concealed a Derringer in his right hand, crossing his legs casually before he glared at Abigail.


"What are you playing at, lady? You promised me the story; exclusive! Now I find you've been dealing with," he threw out a hand towards McCully, “Mr. McThing here."


"McCully. Frank McCully. And I ain't a publisher."


"No?" Heyes enquired, innocence oozing from every pore. "What are you and what business do you have with this woman? I have a contract and she has a legal obligation to fulfill it."


"That ain't none of your business," snapped McCully as his eyes narrowed. "What's her real name ? If you know her, you know it."


Heyes looked Abigail full in the face before he turned to McCully. “Her name’s Mackinnon and she's the only woman ever to be held by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. I want that story, mister and I'm prepared to fight dirty to get it. I have a female readership that’ll pay dearly for it."


"How’d you find her?" McCully demanded.


"Her mother. She writes to her. Now suppose you answer my questions. Who are you and what do you want with her? If you think for one second I'm about to lose out another prize to Street and Smith you got another thing coming."


McCully paused, sensing the anger simmering beneath the surface of a man so single-minded in pursuing the prize.


"I told you. I’m Frank McCully!"


Heyes snorted dismissively. "You keep saying that as though it’s supposed to mean something. Am I supposed to know who you are?" He tensed. "You work for the New York Daily Tribune maybe? The name’s vaguely familiar. I promise you, if you're planning on running a series I'll tie you up in court for years.”


“I’m McCully. You must have heard of me.” He turned puce, his starched collar looking tight and uncomfortable around his thick neck.

“You write books about men who’re either fantasists or liars. Do you really think all those tales are true?” He thrust a thumb towards his chest. “There are true heroes out there who face down the worst criminals in the West and you’re not interested? Men like me?”


Heyes shook his head and affected a slightly mystified air. "Nope. I can't place you. Are you a friend of her mother’s? She mentioned a florist called Mac -something. Or her hairdresser maybe?”


McCully glanced at Abigail, his annoyance growing. ”I did more’n a woman keeping company with a couple of outlaws. I’m a bounty hunter. The bounty hunter."


"Bounty hunter?" Heyes shook his head in confusion. "Nope. Never heard of you. Who are you after around here?"


McCully paced across the room and glared at the smiling man who refused to be intimidated by his bellicose demeanor.


"Surely if you were that good I'd have heard of you? Who’ve you brought in?" Heyes pressed, seemingly oblivious to McCully’s mounting ire.


McCully's hands formed into fists but Heyes was comfortable enough to push him.


"Some of the most dangerous men in the country."


"Yeah?" Heyes looked vaguely interested. "Like who?"
 


He opened his mouth to respond as Heyes’ head turned to face the opening parlor door. Kid Curry strolled casually into the room, a newspaper thrust under his arm. His blue eyes glittered around the room before he spoke. "I hope I ain't interruptin’ anythin'?"


"Nope. Just ready to leave Mr.?" Heyes stood and smiled at his cousin.


Kid Curry thrust out a hand. "Black. Jonathan Black"


Heyes’ eyes lit like a Christmas tree in recognition of the name. "Not the Jonathan Black."


The Kid adopted a coy look and dropped his head.  "Yes. Have we met?"


"No. But I'd like to," Heyes eyes sparkled as he strode ever to meet him. "The Jonathan Black. You are the type of man I want to speak to. Walter Perceval. Knight Percival Press. We're always interested in speaking to men like you. I'd like to publish your story."


"I've never heard of Jonathan Black. What's he done that's so all fired important?"


Heyes’ eyes glittered in McCully's direction. "Sir, if you knew anything about the West you'd know who he is."


He stood and put an arm around the Kid's shoulders as they wandered out to the hall, leaving Abigail with a seething McCully. Heyes’ voice drifted behind them as they walked away. "You have so many tales and I'd like to talk to you about a publishing deal. I can arrange a ghost writer -" He turned and looked straight at Abigail. "Miss Mackinnon, we have a contract. I need the first draft by Tuesday and no excuses."
 

                                                               ~~~~~  



Meg snapped open the leather valise, her eyes darting around as she realized she had made more noise than she had intended. She paused; sure her rasping breath could be heard even in the hallway. She was not an experienced malefactor but she was the most obvious choice of accomplice to search Jonathan Black’s bags as a maid had a ready excuse for being in anyone's room.


Frank McCully had worked his magic on the gullible girl until he had persuaded her she was the most bewitching creature he had ever laid eyes on and their fortunes were inextricably linked from this point on. She had to find out about the mysterious stranger attracting the publicity and money that should be going to her Frank so he could afford to marry her.


Her trembling hands raked through the clothing and paused on the battered notebook. She opened it and out dropped two folded documents. Wanted posters. There was nothing out of the ordinary about them as few bore more than a rudimentary description, as the cost of reproducing photographs was prohibitive. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were wanted dead or alive - everyone had heard of them, but why would he be carrying these around with him?


The notebook contained cryptic notes; lists of banks with an amount of money beside each one, trains and stagecoaches also had a price beside each one along with a place name. As she flicked through the pages she could see a few rudimentary maps one of which was labeled ‘D.H.’. The rest of the scribbling meant nothing to her so she tucked it back under the blue shirt and picked up the bank book.


She gasped as she saw the quantity of money in his account, every penny of it paid in sums of thousands of dollars .The most Meg had ever seen in one pile had been one hundred and seventy two dollars, so a total of over sixty thousand dollars was unimaginable to her. Jonathan Black was a rich man. Probably the richest man she had ever met.


"Lookin' for somethin'?" Kid Curry stood in the doorway staring at her with a furious glower.


Meg dropped his bank book and swirled round to face him, her heart thumping against the panic rising in her breast. "I'm sorry. I I was just  "


He strode over to her snapped the bag shut, towering over her as he stood inches from her face. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't get you sacked? Right now."


She shook her head furiously, her light-brown ringlets dancing against her shoulders as her blue eyes widened in entreaty. "Please, I need this job. I've never done anything like this before. I was- ”Her voice drifted off to a choked grizzle, unable to finish the sentence against the scrutiny of his chilling gaze.


He opened the bag and rifled through the contents before he closed it again, satisfied everything was still inside. He arched a threatening eyebrow.


"It looks like everythin's there, but you never know. Maybe I should search you?"


She gasped and backed off. "I never. I never stole anythin' in my life mister."

"No? Then you'd best tell me why you were in my bag. What were you lookin' for?"


His hot breath burned into her face as she stammered her reply. "I was curious. Search the bag. Nothin’s missin’. Honest!”


His eyes narrowed as he stared in to her eyes, appraising her before dismissing her with a curt twitch of his head. "Go. Get out of here, before I change my mind but if I find anythin's missin’ later I'll skin your hide."


"There's nothin’, honest,” she stammered as she made a bolt for the door. "Please don't tell Mrs. MacPhee."


Kid Curry watched her retreating back, his grim face brightening with a wry smile after the door was closed behind her. So, the first bite of
the bait had been taken. It would soon be time to play in earnest.


                                                       ~~~~~



"I don't understand. What was in the notebook?"


"Directions to a place called D.H. and lists, lots of lists of banks, railways and coaches with prices beside them. Huge prices."


"Prices or amounts? Amounts stolen perhaps?"


"I don't know." Tears welled in her eyes as she felt browbeaten and put upon." He caught me. He’s really scary when he's angry. I was lucky to get out of there alive."


"Why? What did he do? What did he say?"


She shook her head. "It wasn't what he said it was how he said it."


Frank McCully sneered, disingenuous about how frightening Kid Curry could be when he put his mind to it. Hardened criminals took pause at one glance, so it didn't take much to scare a simple farm girl.                                                 


"You stupid  ”he bit back his words, aware he may still need to use her. He strode over to the window and gazed out at the back garden, trying to ignore Mrs. MacPhee’s substantial bloomers fluttering on the line and using the moment to swallow his irritation at the girl. "I'm sorry. You ain't used to this life." He turned and smiled at her. "Only two wanted posters? Heyes and Curry, lists of what could be holdups and a map to various places, one called D.H.? You don't remember details?"


"No. why should I?"


"Hmmmm. He’s got a real interest in Heyes or Curry. He was probably listing all their jobs. D.H.? Devil’s Hole, maybe? They’re rumored to lie low there sometimes.” He turned to face her again." Did you see any other names?"


"No."


He paused, ruminating on her potential usefulness before he spoke again. "Can you bring me the book?"


"No! He’s dangerous. I'm not going near him. If you want that book do it yourself."


He glowered through narrowed eyes, realizing he had to string along an annoying, dim-witted woman even though she had outgrown her usefulness. It would be easy enough to avoid her though, as Mrs. MacPhee was determined to keep rigid social boundaries in place. He smiled. "I don't want to place you in any danger. Meg. Leave this to me."
 



                                                           ~~~~~




"Mr. Black?" Kid Curry looked up from his newspaper, into the crystal blue eyes of Frank McCully. "Do you have a moment?"


 The Kid dropped his paper, leaving it open at the page he had been reading, his newspaper was local and over a week out of date. McCully pretended not to notice as his eyes flicked back up to meet his.


"I can spare you five minutes. Is it to do with a commission, perhaps?"


McCully sat in the opposite chair. "I couldn't even discuss anythin' like that until I got a better idea about what you do."


"What then?"


"That publisher fella knew you real well. I can't say I've heard of you but he knew you."


The Kid gave him a wry smile.


"I guess that works both ways mister. I ain't never heard of you either."


McCully tugged at his collar, clearly irritated. "I've worked as a bounty hunter for the last eight years. There ain't nobody who can compare with my record."


"If you say so, sir."


McCully’s color rose. “So? What exactly do you do? What’s he know you for?"


Kid Curry delivered his best enigmatic smile. "You'd best ask him that, but I’d say it was discretion and success. I don't aim for fame. I get on with my work. The quieter the better in my mind. I’m not interested in his publishing deal."


McCully’s gaze dropped to the newspaper. "That's an old copy. It’s out of date."


"I know. I always like to get up to date in a new town."


"You're readin’ about the robbery. The Devil’s Hole Gang. Do they interest you?"


He folded the newspaper and tilted his head at McCully. "Robberies always interest me. They probably interest you too."


"Sure do. But why that one in particular?"


"I never said it was that one in particular. If you'd arrived five minutes ago you'd have seen me read about the town drunk doin' ten days for startin’ a fight with a horse. You think I'd have a specific interest in that?"


"I think you're interested in Heyes and Curry."


"You're welcome to your opinion, sir, as long as you know that’s all it is."


McCully leaned forward and fixed the Kid with determined eyes. "Look, if you're after them we could be conflictin’ with one another. I’m out for them too and we could get in each other’s way."


The Kid’s brow creased. "Why are you tellin’ me this? Surely if we're competin’ with each other it makes more sense for you to keep me in the dark?"


"Who else could you be here for? There ain't anyone else for miles around who's got a bigger bounty on their head and you turn up after the robbery."


The Kid sat back and began to tap the arm of the plump chair with his long fingers. "Are you suggestin’ a partnership?"


"Could be. If you're interested?"


The Kid nodded and leaned forward. "Or are you tryin' to find out what I'm doin' and what I know?"


"No. There ain't no point in competin’, standin’ on each other's toes while we both miss out it makes sense to pool our resources and get at least half each."


He sat back again and faced McCully with a grin. “Did you send the maid into my room?"


"No  ”


Kid Curry chuckled. "Yeah, right. If that's the standard of your work I don't want nothin' to do with you."


"I didn't."


"She don't look like she'd be too hard to break. Do you want to reconsider your answer?"


McCully paused, assessing the hard eyes and understanding for the first time why Meg had been so afraid of him. "I wanted to know what you were doin’ here."


The Kid’s mirthless laugh rang through the room. He stood, folding his newspaper and jamming it under his arm. "I guess that's the difference between a professional and a keen amateur. You ain't heard about me because I keep my head down and can blend in when I have to. Law enforcement and those in the know have heard all they need to about me. I don't care about anyone else and I’m not interested in bein’ famous. Is that clear?"


"Maybe you'll reconsider when you've had time to think. It’s bad enough tryin' to bring in Heyes and Curry without trying to duck each other as well."


He turned as he reached the door. "You don't have to worry about tryin' to duck me. I ain't interested in Heyes and Curry, leastways not at the moment. They’re all yours. I got bigger fish to fry."


"Bigger?"


"Too big for you, sonny. All you need to worry about is keepin' on the right side of the law so I ain't involved in lookin' for you too."


McCully's jaw firmed. "Some people might say that sounded like a threat."


Kid Curry opened the door, the ghost of a smile playing around his lips. "Really? I must have said it wrong. I didn’t want to leave you in any doubt."

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Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Join date : 2015-11-29
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PostSubject: Re: Curry   Today at 12:05 pm

This is an exert from near the end of Settling Wheat but I've amended it so it doesn't give anything away!

Curry

The Kid looked up as Heyes handed him a glass of his good whiskey. Nothing like a companionable drink after a satisfying meal. Even better when it was in Heyes’ study.


“Thanks,” he said, and watched Heyes settle himself in the opposite wing back chair and propped his recently liberated foot up on the pouffe.


“You’re looking more like your old self, Heyes. It’s good to see.”


Heyes pressed his lips together into a tight smile and nodded. “I’m feeling much better. Now I’ve got rid of that cast.” He widened his eyes at his foot.


The Kid nodded in understanding. It must have been difficult to drag that around while he was on crutches, especially as he had use of only one serviceable arm. Now Heyes just needed a walking stick to steady himself.


All the bruises and lacerations had healed, including the wound on his cheek. Despite Wheat declaring it would scar, it had faded to a faint discolouration. It was barely visible. His ribs only hurt now if he twisted awkwardly. He tried not to do that. The cast on his arm remained but Ben had trimmed it when he had removed the cast from his foot. He now had full use of his elbow and in another couple of weeks, the whole thing might be gone.


Heyes was looking like he wanting to say something but was hesitating, bouncing his fist on the arm of the chair and alternately putting it to his lips.


“Kid … ,” he began, then cleared his throat and laced his fingers over his stomach.


“Heyes?”


Heyes sighed. “Well now that I’m nearly recovered … .” He licked his lips. “Well … how much longer … can you stay?”


The Kid shifted in his seat. That was something he had been thinking about in the last few days. Before he could answer, Heyes spoke again.


“Gonna miss you.”


The Kid nodded. “Yeah Heyes I’m gonna miss you too but … .”


“I know … .” Heyes nodded in understanding.


“Caroline’s my wife Heyes. I need to get back and if I don’t go soon I might get stuck here for the Winter. I want to get back in time for the baby. And then there’s the boys. I bet they’ve grow. Hope they still recognise me.”


Heyes smiled faintly. “Yeah. I understand Kid. Really I do. I know I’d feel the same if the roles were reversed. You have to be there for the Curry family just as I have to be here for the Heyes family.” His grin widened and he rolled his eyes. “Or the Smith family, I should say.”


“You’ve got a good life here, Heyes. Thriving business, burgeoning …  .”


Heyes interrupted with a splutter. “Burgeoning!”


The Kid scowled. “Yeah it means developing, flourishing.” He gave Heyes the look. That man was trying to keep a straight face. “Heyes I live in a house with a library the size of a small town. It’s hard not to absorb some of the knowledge it contains. It’s right there!” he said, by way of explanation.


“Must permeate through the walls then,” Heyes muttered and smiled when he got the look again. He cleared his throat. “You were saying,” he said, casually taking a sip of his drink.


The Kid hesitated then continued. “You have a BUGEONING writing career, beautiful wife, who’s an excellent cook, good kids, nice home. You’re doing well, Heyes.”


Heyes looked a little embarrassed. “Thanks Kid. I have to admit, I am enjoying life right now.” His eyes drifted around the study. “This house is the icing though, Kid. If it wasn’t for Soapy leaving me that money, we could never afforded to buy this land and have this built. Came at the right time too. Dunno how we woulda coped trying to bring up three kids in Mary’s little house.” He sighed. “Here they’ve got space to run about and play. Y’know kinda like we did.” He looked thoughtful for a moment and then he started. “Say I almost forgot. Soapy left you something as well. Guess I haven’t had the chance to give it to you afore now.” He started to lever himself out of the chair with difficulty.


“For me?” The Kid was amazed. Soapy leaving Heyes something in his will didn’t surprise him at all. Heyes had known their old friend a lot longer. He had met him when they had separated as teenagers and Soapy had tutored him in the art of grifting. It was apparent from the Kid’s first meeting with Soapy that the old man had a soft spot for Heyes. His relationship with Soapy, however, although amicable was never so close. Soapy remembering the Kid in his will was somewhat puzzling.


“Yup.”


Heyes winced as he put his weight on his bad foot and limped over to the bookshelves.


The Kid raised his eyebrows as Heyes pulled several books off a lower shelf and then smirked when he realised they were only half books. Behind was a small safe. Of course, Heyes would have his own safe to play with! No need to cosy up and put his ear to his one, he knew the combination. The Kid watched fondly as Heyes had the safe open in a trice, rummaged around inside before taking out a couple of items.


“Here.” Heyes held out one of the items and beamed, both dimples cracked wide. “I kept it wound for ya,” he said, flopping back down.


“His pocket watch?” the Kid said, recognising it. He immediately thought it was an odd choice.


“Open it. There’s an inscription inside.”


The Kid nodded but his eyes washed over the other item Heyes held – a mysterious white envelope. Heyes gestured at him to do as he asked.


Knowing he wouldn’t learn the mystery of the envelope unless he did so, the Kid opened the watch.


Heyes made a fist, put it to his lips thoughtfully and watched him read the inscription. All sorts of emotions flickered over the Kid’s face until finally he looked at Heyes with a frown.


“I don’t understand,” the Kid said. “Is this … my Pa’s watch?”


The inscription read: To Thaddeus Curry on your 21st birthday. Your loving brother Jonathan.


Heyes took a deep breath, swallowed hard and then held out the envelope.


“I don’t know exactly what is in this but I suspect it’s an explanation.” Heyes nodded at the watch in the Kid’s hand. “For that.”


The Kid hesitated and slowly took the offered envelope. He dropped it into his lap and stared at it for several long minutes.


“I don’t think I wanna know,” he said, finally. He looked across at Heyes. “Do I?”


Heyes licked his lips nervously and nodded. “Yeah you do. Otherwise it’ll just eat at you.” He paused. “And I can’t tell you,” he said, quietly.


The Kid widened his eyes. There was all sorts of implications in that statement.


“Why not?”


Heyes looked reluctant to say, sucking in air through his teeth, licking his lips, bouncing his fist on the chair arm. Finally, he winced. “It’s not my secret. Read the letter,” he ground out before biting his thumbnail.


“Ya been keeping secrets from me?”


“Read the letter,” Heyes growled. “It’ll explain Soapy’s side of things.” He hesitated. “I’ll try and explain mine when you’ve read the letter,” he offered in further explanation. He motioned to the Kid to get on with it.


The Kid gave Heyes a lingering look before his thumb inserted itself under the lip of the envelope. He broke it open with a flourish.


Heyes watched nervously as the Kid took out the contents, and then checked to see there was nothing further inside. Then suffered another look from the Kid, before he watched him unfolding the single sheet of paper. Heyes swallowed nervously as the Kid’s eyes settled on the hand written page and began to read.


Dear Jed


I hope this letter doesn’t come as too much of a shock. As you read it, please keep in mind that you mustn’t blame Heyes for not telling you these things.


I expect you are wondering how I come to be in possession of your father’s watch. Well I have to tell you, Jed, that your father, Thaddeus Curry, was my younger brother. He and I, had an unfortunate differing of opinion before you were born, regarding how I chose to make my living. MY father, of course, agreed with him. With the exception of my sister, Susan, Heyes’ mother, I had no further contact with my family. As Heyes will tell you, I visited his folks when I could and I corresponded regularly with my sister. So, I have been aware of you since you were a small boy and I was delighted that I was able to know you as an adult.


Despite our estrangement, I was fond of my brother, your father. I stayed away because I wasn’t welcome by him or MY father, your Grampa Curry. Although I didn’t always agree with their philosophy on life, I respected their viewpoint. Sadly, I could understand it and it was out of respect for Thaddeus, not MY father, that I accepted it and stayed away. It is to my everlasting regret that Thaddeus and I didn’t get the chance to repair our relationship before he died so horribly. Perhaps in the next life things will be different.


When we first met, you had recently been living with that poisonous old toad of a father of mine. I don’t regret not reconciling with him! Knowing where you had received some of your upbringing, I doubted if you would have anything to do with me, had you known then who I was. Nor been willing to accept the truth had I divulged it at that time.


So please don’t blame Heyes. I swore him to secrecy and you know he’s a man who takes his promises seriously. It was my decision and mine alone not to tell you before now. Heyes was only abiding by my wishes. I knew how you felt about your folks but I also knew how your folks felt about me. It seemed a disastrous combination. I decided it wouldn’t do either of us any good for you to know that I was your uncle. And I have to confess that I liked getting to know my other nephew.


I can’t make up for keeping this knowledge from you all these years but I hope you can understand why I thought it necessary. Teaching you, in particular, the tricks of my trade was difficult for me, remembering as I did your father’s opposition to it. In a way, I felt as though I had let him down by drawing you into the criminal world. Yet by the time we met, you were already on the outlaw trail and I convinced myself that I was only imparting skills that would keep you ahead of the law. I soon had great confidence in your abilities to do that. In some respect, you picked up the nuances that I taught you better than Heyes. I am much relieved that those days are over for you both and that Hoyt, in his wisdom, saw fit to give you the opportunity to resume your lives. I’m glad to see that you are both back on the course your lives should have been from the beginning.


Heyes tells me that you have been fortunate to marry a wealthy woman and that you have fallen into a new career which holds great promise. So I have concluded that leaving you money would not be appropriate or necessary. Instead, I have left you your father’s watch. He was delighted when I bought it for him as a present for his twenty-first birthday. He had never had a watch of his own before and I could see that it meant a lot to him. When he threw it back at me on that terrible night when we last saw each other, I saw the pain in his eyes. Just for a moment. Before, the old man dragged him away. So I feel had things been so very different, it would be yours by rights. I wore that watch every day for the rest of my life and it reminded me that I had a brother, who despite it all, I loved. And he had a son who I’ve also loved. I have tried to keep my eye on Heyes and you as best as I could, in memory of my two lost siblings. It hasn’t always been easy and I suspect the amount of grey hair I have ended my days with has something to do with the two of you!


You may look like your mother, Jedidiah but there is a lot of your father in you too. And you should be gratified to know that, now the youthful impetuous ways are over, and speaking as one who knew him, that you are a man your father would be proud to call son.


I hope that Jedidiah Thaddeus Curry, my nephew, has a happy and successful life. Knowing what a stubborn and determined man you can be, I believe you will.


Don’t think too badly of me will you? Your loving uncle, Jonathan Curry.


(Although I won’t be too aggrieved if you prefer to remember me, as you have always known me, as Soapy Stevens.)


The Kid stared at the letter for the longest time and Heyes sat quietly, watching him carefully. Finally, the Kid looked up and he looked sad.


“You lied to me, Heyes.”


“No I didn’t,” Heyes said, firmly. “I told you I had found Uncle Jonathan and that he had introduced me to Soapy Stevens.” He paused. “What I didn’t tell you was that they were the same person. I didn’t lie to you.” He paused again. “I just couldn’t tell you the truth.”


“You couldn’t tell me?” he asked, in a whisper.


“No,” Heyes said, shaking his head. “It was Soapy’s decision and he made me promise. I had to respect his wises. You can see that, can’t you?”


“Yeah.” The Kid looked down at the letter and watch in his lap, his bottom lip trembling. “But why?” he burst out. “I kinda understand why he didn’t wanna tell me at first but surely later
… ?”


Heyes looked uncomfortable, swallowed hard and leant forward, resting his hand on the Kid’s arm. “That has a lot to do with Grampa Curry. The ole man shut his elder son out of his family. You lived with Grampa Curry after … .” He licked his lips and couldn’t finish. He didn’t need to. The Kid knew he meant after they had separated over the choice of destination, post Valparaiso. Heyes was determined to find Uncle Jonathan, the Kid just as adamant in finding Grampa Curry. Both had succeeded in their goals. “Well did he ever say anything good about Jonathan?” he almost snapped.


The Kid considered, finally shaking his head. “Naw! He didn’t mention him regular but when he did … no.” He shook his head. “No, nothing good.”


“Jonathan knew he could never overcome that, knowing how you felt about Grampa Curry and your Pa. He’s not saying they were wrong, Kid. Just that he wanted to have a relationship with you, that started with a blank sheet. So he couldn’t tell you who he was. It would never have worked.” Heyes hesitated. “And if he had told you it might have made things awkward between US and he didn’t want that. He didn’t want US falling out over something that wasn’t our argument.”


The Kid looked down and swallowed hard. He frowned and nodded. “It woulda been nice to know Heyes that I had another living relative ‘sides you all these years.”


“Yeah,” Heyes sighed, regretfully. “And for that reason I tried to persuade Soapy to tell you on several occasions.” He shook his head. “But he was always adamant. You weren’t to know until … .” He gestured at the letter. “Now,” he finished quietly.


The Kid looked at Heyes, tears in his eyes. “And ya couldn’t tell me?” he asked, almost a whisper.


Heyes shook his head, biting his lip. “No. I know it was selfish of me and I apologise.” He paused. This was difficult for him and his voice caught. “I nearly did on several occasions but the promise I made to Soapy always stopped me.” He put his head. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t.”


The Kid nodded in understanding. “That’s alright Heyes I understand.” He re-stuffed the envelope with fumbling hands. “You were in a difficult position.” He sat quietly for a moment. “I liked Soapy. He was a nice ole gentleman.”


Heyes smiled and nodded. “Yeah.”


The Kid sat quietly looking away from Heyes, who he knew was watching him. Finally, the Kid took a deep breath and looked back, a faint smile on his face.


“Wasn’t jus’ Soapy was it? I have ‘nother cousin, his daughter, Rose*.”
Heyes smiled. “Yeah. Rose.”


Now the Kid was smiling wider. “Now I understand why you always tried to shy me away from her. An’ there was me thinkin’ it was ‘cos YOU were sweet on her.”


Heyes laughed. “ME?” He shook his head. “No.” He smiled fondly. “No Kid she’s not my type.” He hesitated, a wry smile on his face. “She has too much Curry in her.”


Heyes received the look, pressed his lips together and nodded in acceptance.


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


*This is NOT the same Rose as Cowdry’s Rose in Settling Wheat. I just happened to call them by the same name at different times. This Rose featured in a previous challenge so as both stories are posted, I can’t backtrack!

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Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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