Alias Smith and Jones Fun and Fanfiction
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Silverkelpie

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Posts : 1418
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 57
Location : Over the rainbow

PostSubject: Start   Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:20 pm

“Don’t start.”

“What d’ya mean, ‘don’t start’? You started it.”

Heyes turned a sour glare on the Kid. “I never. You started it. Or rather, you failed to start it. That’s the whole damned problem.”

“I wouldn’t have needed to start it if you hadn’t been so damned clumsy. You lost your temper and tore Mrs. Butterworth’s drapes. All you had to do was take down the pole, but you wouldn’t go get a ladder. You had to stand on a stool.” The Kid’s eyes narrowed. “I warned you, but you wouldn’t listen.”

“How was I to know the stool leg was about to break?”

“Oh, gee. I dunno. How about the weight of a great galoot bein’ too much for them spindly legs?” The Kid’s cold grin underscored his sarcasm. “And I’m talkin’ about the stool this time.”

“It was instinct to grab out at something.” Heyes held up the torn fabric. Look it’s a straight line along the top all we’ve gotta do is sew it up.” His foot fiddled with the treadle. “This sewing machine will match it up like a professional—if we ever get the damned thing started.”

“I don’t see how this is my fault,” The Kid peered underneath to check the machinery. “You tore it, you had the idea to fix it so it doesn’t come out of our wages, and you can’t get the thing goin’.”

“It looks real easy. If a woman can work out how to use one of these I must be able to.”

“Yeah, ‘cos everything a woman does is real easy,” muttered the Kid. “I can’t wait to see you produce milk when you’re done with this contraption.”

Heyes punched out at the machine in frustration. “I give up. I’ll never be able to get this darned thing going. We’re just gonna have to turn ourselves in and throw ourselves on her mercy. There’s not a switch or wheel I haven’t pulled, turned, or pushed. It’s broken.”

“No it ain’t. You just can’t work it.”

“Neither can you,” Heyes sat back with his arms folded.

“Yeah, but I don’t need to. I ain’t ripped anythin’. Why don’t you stick your head down and try listening to the wheel like a safe? You might hear somethin’ click. Inside or out of that skull of yours.”

The dark eyes hardened. “Why don’t you stick your head right up your—”

“No need to get proddy because you can’t manage women’s work, Heyes. Even a stone cold genius has to admit when he ain’t up to the job.”

“Maybe if I was one of your needy people you’d be more helpful? You’re head gets turned easier than an owl’s as soon as a woman appears.”

“It ain’t that I think women are better’n you,” the Kid grinned. “It’s more about me thinkin’ you’re way worse. After all, I’ve known you all my life.” He stood. “We’ve got no choice. You gotta own up.”

“Me? You wouldn’t get me the ladder. It’s your fault.”

“I was busy. Get your own damned ladder.”

“You’ve changed,” Heyes’ brow creased. “We don’t work like a team like we used to.”

“That’s because you mostly don’t work. You sat and read that newspaper while I dismantled the bed and moved it all by myself.”

The cheeks dimpled with mischief. “You’re better at that stuff than me.”

“Judgin’ by that sewing machine everyone’s better at stuff than you.” The gunman’s long finger prodded his cousin’s chest. “There ain’t a lot of call for safe crackin’ in the amnesty line, so you’d better pull your finger out and find a new skill. Preferably somethin’ that pays.”

“I suppose we could spend some time learning a new skill,” mused Heyes. “Then we won’t end up in trouble like this.”  

  “We?” The cynical blue eyes glittered with disdain. “What’s with the ‘we’? I ain’t done a thing.”

“Don’t I know it,” snapped Heyes. “We’re supposed to be clearing this room to decorate it. So far all that’s moved is the bed. This damned sewing machine is broken. I swear it is. All you’ve done is stand there and laugh.”

“I’m helpin’ you.”

Heyes’ mouth firmed into a line. “Not so anyone would notice.”

“You want help?” The Kid lifted his hat and jammed it on his head. “I’ll go break the bad news to Mrs. Butterworth. It was a dumb idea anyway. A blind man would see a line of your stitchin’ from the next ranch. It’ll look terrible, but I guess that’s fine with you.”

“What d’ya mean by that?”

“My good hat. That’s what I mean by it. You couldn’t sew to save your life. You’d better hope we ain’t on mail bags if we ever get caught.”

The door clattered behind him, leaving Heyes staring at the machine once more. His frustration now went way beyond rescuing the drapes. He resented being bested by a domestic machine he’d seen children operate. Why couldn’t he work out how to start the damn thing?

*****

   Heyes rose to his feet as the matron entered the room. “Mrs. Butterworth I’m real sorry. I just fell and caught the drapes on the way down. I’ll pay for them.”

Her grey eyes glittered with amusement as she pinned the ex-outlaw leader with the kind of hard stare which stripped away any man’s swagger and bravado. “So I hear. Don’t worry about those horrible old things. I’m making new ones anyway. They came with the house. They’re going in the rag bag for quilting. Just get them down and carry on.” She made to leave and turned at the door. “Can you put that sewing machine in the other bedroom please? I don’t want it damaged.”

“Sure,” Heyes paused. “Mrs. Butterworth, is this thing broken?”

“No,” she frowned. “Why do you ask?”

“Well I put my foot on the treadle and it didn’t work.”

“Did you release the clutch?”

The dimple dropped from the cheeks and the dark eyes crowded with confusion. “The clutch?”

“Yes.” She pointed to the big wheel set on the side of the machine. “See this here? The solid wheel in the centre of it is the clutch. You just turn it like this—” she deftly moved it, “—and there you go. It’s all set.”

“That’s it,” Heyes’ jaw dropped open. “I didn’t even know that was a wheel. It just looks like the centre of that big one.”

“That’s it. Yes, a lot of people make that mistake. They learn though.” She paused, her face alight with curiosity. “Do you do a lot of sewing, Mr. Smith?”

“Nope,” the Kid cut in. “He’s more interested in machines and gadgets. He can’t see one but he needs to know how it works. In fact he spends a lot of time watching work.” He grabbed the sewing machine. “Come on, Joshua. Lift it up at your end.”

“I’m efficient, Thaddeus. I spot the best ways to get things done,” Heyes hefted the sewing machine and found it to be surprisingly light.

Mr. Butterworth’s knowing smile assessed both men. “Well, Lom Trevors did say that the person who got you work for them would be very lucky. I guess that sentence could be read all kinds of ways.”

The men watched the woman’s skirts disappear around the corner before a pair of dark eye scowled at his grinning partner.

“Joshua, don’t start with me.”

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