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PostSubject: Start   Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:18 am

Time for the first topic of 2018 and as it's a fresh beginning the topic is 


Start
coboy 8


That can be either a noun or a verb with various meanings;


Verb
Begin or be reckoned from a particular point in time or space; come into being. Embark on a continuing action or a new venture. begin to move or travel. Cause to happen or begin. Cause (a machine) to begin to work. Jerk or give a small jump from surprise or alarm. Move or appear suddenly


Noun
The point in time or space at which something has its origin; the beginning. A person's position or circumstances at the beginning of their life. An advantage consisting in having set out in a race or on a journey earlier than one's rivals. A sudden movement of surprise or alarm.


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PostSubject: Re: Start   Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:49 pm

When Harry met Curry. And Heyes.
---------------------------------------


“Do you know what really gets my goat?”

The man in the fancy eastern-style suit looked up from his steno pad. “No, sir, Mr. Briscoe, I sure don’t. What?”

“It’s the misdirections about how I got to know Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”

He raised his eyebrows inquiringly but kept his face blank. The way westerners talked sometimes bore little relation to English, but it was his job to make sense of this story.

“Misdirections, sir? Or do you mean, misconceptions?”

Briscoe waved one arm in the air. The lit cigar he held in his fist left a curved trail of smoke around him.

“Yes. Exactly what I said.” He directed a squinty-eyed glare at the young man sitting opposite him.

“Where you from again?”

“New York.”

“Aren’t I being clear enough for you, son?”

“Oh yes sir, perfectly clear. It’s just . . . “ The squint directed at him somehow got squintier. “It’s just that Westerners use some colorful expressions that readers of The New York World may not have heard before.”

“Uh huh.” Briscoe sat up straight, making the chair squeak. “You sure you can get all of this? Your readers will want the whole story.”

“Yes, sir, do you want to check my notes as we go along?”

“You know I can’t read that dang fool shorthand you use."

“No sir, I guess not. May I remind you that you get final approval of this article, so you can review it for errors before publication.”

Briscoe settled back, reassured. “That’s alright then. We don’t want any misdirections going out into the world, do we?”

“No, we don’t. Mr. Pulitzer himself told me to make sure I get everything you say recorded accurately, without editing. From the horse’s mouth, if you’ll pardon the expression.” Briscoe flashed an amused smile at him, and the man released a quiet breath of relief. Too many reporters had tried to get the real story – well, at least a version of the real story – from Harry Briscoe and had failed. He’d been told that, if he didn’t, he might as well not return to New York.

“If we might get back to your story, Mr. Briscoe. Heyes and Curry have publicly acknowledged a debt of friendship to you going back ten years, but won’t elaborate. Why do you think that is?”

“It’s like this, Jenkins –"

“Johnson, sir.”

“What did you say?”

“My name is Johnson. Not Jenkins.”

“Right.” Briscoe directed his beady-eyed glare to the cigar, which had gone out. Johnson quickly rose and struck a match to light it. Briscoe took a few long, contented puffs and swiveled in his chair to look out the window. Johnson waited, looking out the window as well, trying to see what was so interesting. After a long moment, he cleared his throat.

“You need some water, Jenkins?”

“I’m good. And it’s Johnson, sir.”

“I knew that. Just testing you.”

“Of course. So, why do you think Heyes and Curry won’t talk about your friendship with them?”

“I figure it like this. They got their view, and I got mine, and neither of us can talk for the other without saying things that might be out of turn. We don’t want to start anything, not that we’re not able to finish things. A man of the world like you, you understand.” He brushed his nose with two fingers in a gesture Johnson didn’t recognize. “A word to the wise is efficient, as the saying goes.” Puffing on his cigar, he swiveled to look out of the window again. Johnson blinked several times as he tried to make sense of what he’d just heard.

“Why don’t we just get started, Mr. Briscoe. Tell me how a certified agent of the Bannerman Detective Agency became friends with the two most wanted outlaws west of the Mississippi.”

“You got it. But you know, I’m not quite sure where to start.”

Johnson gave him an encouraging smile. “Start at the beginning, Mr. Briscoe. How did you meet them?”

“Alright. Makes sense. The beginning’s a good place to start.” he pointed at the steno pad. “You ready?”

“Ready.”

“Very good.” Briscoe stubbed out his cigar in an overflowing ashtray, ignoring the ashes he knocked onto the desktop. Leaning back in his chair, he laced his fingers behind his head and looked at the ceiling.

“It all started when I was running a secret operation to trap the Devil’s Hole Gang, and especially Heyes and Curry. I remember it like it was yesterday. Hard to believe that it’s already been ten years.”

Late in the evening, Hiram Johnson staggered into his hotel room. He sank into the rocker and closed his eyes for a moment. It had been one hell of a day. Briscoe’s recollections would need a lot of editing, but Johnson didn’t mind. This story was dynamite. And today was only the first day of the scheduled interviews! He took his flask from his pocket and took a good long swallow of whiskey. The liquid soothed his dry throat with its gentle burn. He rocked back and forth a little, thinking how collaboration with Briscoe could bring fame and fortune to them both. But, he reminded himself, it would take some serious work. Might as well get started. Grinning, he took out his steno pad and started to review his notes.

----------------
I’d already been a Bannerman man for several years at that point. Working mainly out of the Denver office, but I’d been around. Got hired in Cincinnati after the war. Bet that surprises you, doesn’t it? The West fits me like a glove, but I was born and raised in Ohio. I fought with the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Army of the Cumberland, during the war. You look surprised, Jenkins. Don’t be. I was young when I joined up, mighty young, but I served. I saw the elephant.

During the war, I heard about the Pinkertons, how they guarded the President. Kept him safe, except that one night at Ford’s Theatre when there weren’t no Pinkertons around. Shouldn’t have taken that night off. Pinkertons claim they never sleep, but they sure as hell did that night.

But I digress. Stream of consciousness, that’s how I think. I’m linear that way. After the war ended, I was at loose ends. Tried a few different jobs, hated them all. Then I decided to follow my dream. I said to myself, detecting, now that’s some fine work for a man. Bodyguarding a President. Doing investigations. I wanted to protect honest citizens, solve crimes, track down criminals and maintain public order. It even sounded kind of noble to me.

I see what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I didn’t just become a policeman. I’ll tell you why. I got a taste for travelling during the war. Saw a lot of different places. These detectives, they worked all over the country. Lots of change, lots of challenge. A policeman is stuck in one place his whole career. I’d been through the war. There was no chance I’d settle down in Cincinnati and walk a beat. The Bannerman Agency was new, and they were hiring. I started in the detecting business just as the detecting business was getting started. Everything just fell into place natural-like.

Oh, right, Heyes and Curry. Sorry, I digressed a bit. Anyway, by 1881, I was a manager in the Denver office. Hiring new agents, training them, running bigger and bigger operations. I figure that’s why Daley came to me with his idea. I had a reputation, you see. Who’s Daley? I’m coming to that. Just hold your horses, son.

Even back east, you heard of the Devil’s Hole Gang. Gentleman robbers, famous for treating people decently and they had a policy, no gunplay. People like you, writers, putting out dime novels about them, calling them Robin Hoods. I can tell you, they weren’t no Robin Hoods. They took other people’s money, and they spent it on themselves. Wine, women, and song. Maybe not song. Maybe other people’s songs. I’ve heard Heyes sing, usually after a few beers, and believe you me, his singing is scarier than his gunplay. He could’ve sung to a train full of passengers, and that’d scare ‘em off the train faster than Wheat Carlsen pointing a gun at them.

The most successful outlaws in the West. That’s what people called them, and it was true.  The way Heyes could tickle the tumblers and empty a safe without raising a ruckus. . . they were bleeding the railroads and banks dry. That’s why the rewards on them were so big, $10,000 each, dead or alive.
So how’d I meet them. . . well, this agent from the Kansas City office, Jeremiah Daley – told you I’d get to him - he came to me with a plan. There was a regular gold shipment from Wash Valley Consolidated Mining Company that the Devil’s Hole Gang had stolen twice. Daley said, let’s set a trap. Put out the word to all the wrong people that there’d be a quarter million in gold bars on that train. Fill every passenger seat on that train with the best Bannerman men in the country. Arm them to the teeth, and when that gang took the bait and attacked the train, we’d finish them off.

And he had an ace in the hole, a woman who claimed she could identify Heyes and Curry. There were no pictures of the boys, you remember, nothing more than descriptions on wanted posters that could fit a thousand men. Daley reminded me, the rewards on those two alone would pay for the whole operation. And when we finally destroyed the Devil’s Hole Gang, once and for all, it’d be a feather in my cap, and for the whole Bannerman organization. We were competing pretty hard with the Pinkertons at that time. If we could make this operation a success, why, we’d make that Pinkerton eye black. That’s a joke, son. The eye, you know? We never sleep? Never mind.

Daley convinced me it could work. Not that I was so hard to persuade. I wanted to see the Devil’s Hole Gang put down real bad, same as every other lawman. I didn’t care if we took Heyes and Curry dead or alive. Dead would be easier, far as I was concerned. If you cut off the snake’s head, there’s nothing left to bite you.

I see that look you’re giving me, Johnson. I ain’t ashamed to admit that I’d be sitting pretty, if I could pull this off. To be the man who brought down Heyes and Curry and that infernal gang . . . it would do a lot for my reputation. I could write my own ticket in the agency. The plan sounded foolproof. I called on Mr. Bannerman himself and convinced him to go ahead with Daley’s plan. Which was now my plan, since I was in charge.

I organized it all. Recruited the best agents from offices all across the west. I went to Wash Valley and Midwest Railroad and told them their special gold train would be guarded with Bannerman agents, and that we were going to wipe out the Devil’s Hole Gang. They were mighty happy to hear that. It was Midwest that put up the reward money for Heyes and Curry, and it was Midwest that insisted on the “dead or alive” bit. They thought that’d encourage bounty hunters, and it did. Personally, I don’t like bounty hunters. I don’t like their methods.
S
Am I digressing again? Sorry, son. But you wanted the whole story, didn’t you? Starting when I met the boys? I got to include all the details. Harry Briscoe is a stickler for detail. That’s the secret to my success. One of the secrets. There’s more, but if I told you all of them, they wouldn’t be secrets no more. Got to keep some things to myself.

Heyes and Curry, right. I’m getting there.

Finally, the day came. The night, rather. Bannerman agents boarded the train. The payroll was already loaded and locked into a safe. And one more thing was loaded – a Gatling gun. Don’t look so shocked, son. When I told you before that we were just as happy to take that gang dead as alive, I wasn’t funning you.

The train pulled out of Bramberg exactly on time. Everyone on the train was a Bannerman man, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at them. Some of the toughest men you’ll ever know were dressed as ladies, wearing wigs and dresses. It sounds funny, but it was necessary. We all knew the Devil’s Hole Gang was smart. They had eyes everywhere. Now there you go, making a face again. I mean, they had spies. Anyone watching the passengers board the special gold train wouldn’t see anything unusual. It wasn’t until the train was under way that I got up and addressed everyone.

Here’s the thing nobody knew, including me. Heyes and Curry were on the train. Yes, you darn well should look surprised. I already told you, only Bannerman agents on the train, and now you know Heyes and Curry were there. In their thieving days, they might’ve boarded a train so’s to be on the inside. The rest of the gang, they’d stop the train, and there’d already be someone on that train to keep things going right for them. Pretty clever, right? Wish I’d thought of that. Maybe I did, in the back of my head, because I knew the passengers on that train had to look ordinary.

They’d just made the deal for amnesty, and they were supposed to stay out of trouble. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. Nobody did. They had to get out of Bramberg fast because the sheriff there knew them. They needed to be on that train, because the next one wouldn’t be for a couple days, and there was no chance they could lie low that long. Funny, ain’t it? A train full of Bannerman agents, planning to take down Heyes and Curry, and none of us knew Heyes and Curry were on the train with us. Well, maybe it ain’t funny. More pathetic than funny. But they’re smart, you know. Smart and lucky. You got to be lucky to be successful. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but that’s something I got in common with the boys. I’m lucky. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s best to be both, of course, and anyone who knows Harry Briscoe will tell you, he’s smart and he’s lucky. Trust me on that.

Why didn’t I notice them? Simple. Everyone on that train was a Bannerman man, but I hadn’t actually met most of them. I communicated with their office managers, but I didn’t meet them face to face until they boarded the train. Heyes said to me later, that was the only flaw in the original plan. I didn’t know the agents personally, and the agents didn’t know each other. That’s why Curry and Heyes weren’t recognized straight away.

He and Curry had bamboozled the real Grant and Gaines at the train station and stolen their tickets. They didn’t realize until they heard my briefing that they were surrounded by Bannermans. I tell you, it upset them some, and it sure as hell put them in a box. All they could do was sit tight and hope they wouldn’t get recognized.

You know the end of the story. Turned out that Daley and his ace in the hole, Sarah Blaine, were in cahoots with each other. Along with armed agents and a Gatling gun, Daley had suggested we pack up some fine whiskey so we could celebrate proper after we killed off the Devil’s Hole boys. Daley figured we’d wipe out that gang, get good and drunk on the whiskey, and then his gang – that’s right, his gang – would ambush the train and make off with the gold.

Thanks to some critical information provided by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, that evil plan was ruined. The Devil’s Hole Gang did stop the train, but some trigger-happy Bannerman started shooting too soon, and the gang got spooked. They ran off. Not before we took down two of them, but that wasn’t the plan. We wanted all of them.

We picked up the two bodies, feeling pretty low over the collapse of our plan. My plan, officially. I told you, it was me who sold it to George Bannerman. Then this Sarah Blaine came in and told us one of the dead men was Kid Curry. That cheered me up considerably. I was feeling pretty perky until Heyes gave me some information. He said, that ain’t Kid Curry. He had some cock-and-bull story about how he had sheltered with the gang, got to know all of them.

I didn’t believe a word of it. Then Heyes said, I can prove it. He knew that dead man wore a particular ring with his initials. Heyes could identify him. Turned out he was right. I knew that Blaine woman was a liar. But why? Me and Heyes talked about it. He’s a smart, smart man, you know. Would’ve made a good detective.

Like I said, you know the end of the story. I arrested Daley and Blaine, got my men ready to face their gang, and when we did, we wrecked ‘em. Totally wrecked them. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Not so much. Yeah, we saved the shipment, we took down a gang, but it wasn’t the Devil’s Hole Gang. Far as we knew, they were still out there, planning their next job. We didn’t know that Heyes and Curry had already left that gang. Remember what I said about cutting the head off the snake? Once Heyes and Curry left Devil’s Hole, that gang ran out of steam. Just ordinary crooks without smart leaders. The promise of amnesty wrecked that gang more than the Bannerman Agency or any bounty hunter.

The fact that Daley, a respected Bannerman man, turned out to be a crook didn’t help the agency either. What was supposed to be a feather in my cap turned out to be not so much. The agency did its best to hush up the whole thing. Until now, of course. Now you know what happened. That's only the start of what me and the boys done together. Oh year, there's lots more stories, lots more. We'll pick it up again tomorrow, Johnson. I still got a job here, you know. I'm still a Bannerman man through and through.
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