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PostSubject: Scrap   Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:32 am

Time for a new challenge. Your topic for April is


coboy 8 Scrap cowboy 12


That can mean leftover fabrics, metals, foods or anything else. It can also mean a fight or a quarrel, a tiny child, or any small thing, or something no longer of use. 
It is also a small paper collectible popular in the 19th century for making cards or decoration of children's rooms and cribs . See this link http://www.scrapalbum.com/pat1.htm  

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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Re: Scrap   Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:53 pm

   
Another bit about Heyes, Curry, Ellie, and Bessie, continued from last month and some challenges last fall.  Again, I think it can stand on its own, but a few references mean more in light of the earlier chapters of this story.


Separation VIII

In the end, I was so desperate, that I sent a telegraph to Lom.  Heyes, of course, did not think it would help.

“How’s Lom gonna know where she went?”  He had been grouchier than usual, ever since we had left Ellie and Dea.

“I had sent telegraphs to Lom, before I left to search for you.  I put his name and address on a scrap of paper for her.  Maybe she contacted him.”  I knew I was grasping at straws but it still annoyed me when Heyes rolled his eyes.

In the end, he was right, as usual.


We had been traveling for over a month, after Sheriff Newcomb had encouraged us to leave Ellie’s farm.  We had not seen hide nor hair of the bounty hunter he had mentioned.

“Probably made up that story, just to get us to leave,” Heyes groused.

“Now, Heyes, I think that sheriff was pretty accommodating.”  I glanced over at him.  “All things considered.”

“You do, do you?” His voice was raised a bit.  “Well, I don’t.  I think he had figured out who he actually had in his town, and just wanted us gone.”

“Well, I guess it don’t really matter.  We can’t go back there, can we?”  I didn’t want to needle Heyes further, but I had a reason.

He was quiet for a minute or two, but then slowly shook his head.

“You got any idea where we should head next?” I asked casually.

“No, not really, Kid.”  

We rode in silence for a while.

“We have the money from our last job, so we shouldn’t have to look for work any time soon.”

He shook his head but did not offer anything further.

“Maybe we should head north from here.  Nice quiet country up there.”  I waited for Heyes to absentmindedly agree.

“Ain’t Cottonwood up north of here?” he asked quietly.

“Yeah,” I said simply.  I should know better than to try to out think Heyes, even with him in as glum of a mood as he had been lately.

“I left her kind of badly, Heyes.”

“And what good would it do to go back?”  His voice got low and a bit harsh.

I did not have much of an answer to his question.  I just knew I wanted to go back.

“The sheriff isn’t anybody we know.”

“He didn’t figure out who you are?” Heyes asked bitingly.

I simply shook my head, knowing Heyes would come up with more very good reasons not to go to Cottonwood.  I considered myself lucky when he did not list them out for me, but just continued to ride west.

It was one of the great surprises of my life when he turned north at the next trail heading that way.


To say that Bessie’s father gave us a cold welcome, well, that was an understatement.

“You have the unmitigated gall to show up here again, after so long, and ask to see my daughter?” he stormed.  “My unmarried, pregnant daughter?  After you had abandoned her to ridicule?”

Bessie’s father effectively silenced me with that statement, but not Heyes, of course.

“Well, he’s back now, so we’d really appreciate it if we could talk to her.  Obviously, some decisions need to be made.”  Heyes tried to put on a pleasant smile.

“I take it you are the friend he had to go find.”  He looked Heyes up and down.  “Joshua, wasn’t it?  I doubt very much if she’d want to see you.”

“Please, sir,” I finally found my voice.  “I do love your daughter.”

Heyes started and gave me a look, which Bessie’s father noticed, but I ignored.

“My friend is correct.  I should talk to her.  It’s only right.”

Bessie’s father met my eyes, finally with a not unkind gaze.  “Son, you planning on marrying her?  Settling down?”  He then looked from me to Heyes and back, really seeing us for what we were.  We were not just another pair of drifters, not with our tied down holsters, and the gleaming Colt in mine.

“I just want to talk to her,” I tried again.

“And what good would that do?”  He shook his head.  “No, you made the right decision when you left.  Bessie saw that immediately, but it took me a while to realize it.”

“I didn’t know about the child,” I pleaded.  Heyes looked at me with still eyes, but then looked away before I saw something in his gaze.

“Would it have stopped you from leaving?” he asked quietly.

I did not have a good answer for that question.


Heyes and I eventually ended up in the hills at a mining town, Argent Gulch.  It was filled with desperate men trying to make their fortunes.  It fit our moods perfectly.  We had not heard recently from Lom, in spite of telegraphing to let him know where we were.  

The town was filled with establishments of all the vices you could imagine, leeching away much of the silver the miners actually found.  By silent agreement Heyes and I had stayed away from the bordellos, but we did become regulars at a couple of the gambling parlors.  Heyes was not as cautious as he usually was, so he won quite often, and quite a bit.  He was drinking heavily and it took a couple discussions with the proprietors, before they became comfortable just letting us be.  The Lucky Lady demanded five percent of his winnings every night we were there.  Luscious Lu’s only asked for two percent.  

We became rather fond of Lucelle.  She was a big, buxom woman, almost as tall as I was, with her hair a vivid henna red, and lips to match.  She was maybe five or ten years older than we were, and life had not been easy on her either, until one of the miners had died and left her his prosperous claim.  She had sold out to one of the big outfits and bought the gambling house.  I think she made more money than she ever would have with the mine.

She also let us keep our earnings in her safe.  It was a newer model than the one at the Lucky Lady.  Heyes of course could have opened it, eventually.  We had not seen anyone else come into town that was as talented, so we thanked Lu for her hospitality and kept drinking and playing poker.

A couple of times desperate men had tried to jump us, when we took our winnings from one of the other gambling halls back to Lu’s.  After one ended up with a broken nose, and another was shot in the hand, word got around just to leave us alone.  There were more interesting folks coming in and out of Argent Gulch, than a couple of drifters who happened to be better than most at poker.

Heyes was sleeping off a bad drunk, but I needed my breakfast, so I was up before noon actually, and heading over to the best café in town, when Harvey, the telegrapher’s son, found me as I was crossing the street.

“Mr. Jones!” he called.  “Mr. Jones!  Pa said this telegraph might be important.”  He held it out proudly.  I tipped him generously, and he ran off smiling.

TO JOSHUA SMITH AND THADDEUS JONES, ARGENT GULCH.  GOOD NEWS FROM OUR MUTUAL FRIEND IN CHEYENNE.  MEET AT THE NOLAN RANCH IN FIVE DAYS.  SHERIFF LOM TREVORS.  PORTERVILLE, WYOMING.


“Kid, you know how it turned out the last time.”  Heyes was still laying on the bed, his arm over his eyes, shutting out the, as he had moaned, blinding light coming in the windows.

“Heyes, we still gotta go.”  I stood over him, with my arms folded and waited until he looked up.

“Isn’t it usually me who’s dragging you there?” he said weakly.

I nodded and waited.

He closed his eyes again, but then took a deep breath, and slowly sat up.

“If I lose it in the stage, you have to clean it up.”  He put his feet on the floor but then waited a minute while the room stopped spinning.

I nodded again, when he finally looked up at me.  I’d never known Heyes to be sick after a night of overindulging.  In pain, yes, but not sick.  I think we both had alcohol permanently running in our veins, after all these years.

Heyes took a long time getting ready, enough that we almost missed the stage that day.  I kept my temper though.  All I could think of was eventually visiting Cottonwood again.
     
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PostSubject: Re: Scrap   Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:42 am

A little silliness for April. 
-------------
“Come here, handsome.” Sally took out the pins holding her upswept hair, letting rich chestnut waves tumble down around her bare shoulders. Some tendrils swept tantalizingly across her ample chest. Her breath was getting deeper; he saw her breasts straining against the low cut of her bodice. She hooked her fingers into his belt and pulled him close. He bent lower to kiss her, but he pulled back when he saw her frown.

“What is that noise?” she said.

“What noise?” He was so close, he could smell the rose water she wore.

“That tapping noise. What is it?”

Now he frowned, too. What was that sound? It sure was annoying.

Jed Curry sat up suddenly. What the hell was that crash? Where did Sally go? Where was he? He pushed himself into a sitting position, and the quilts covering him fell to his waist. The room was cold, and he was alone. He was in his bedroom in the leader’s cabin at Devil’s Hole. Light filtered under the bedroom door, along with that tapping sound. Curry jumped out of bed and opened the door.

In the main room, Hannibal Heyes was pacing, back and forth, back and forth. He was fully dressed, down to his boots. He held a book, and he was thwacking it against his thigh as he walked. The table held pen, inkwell, and paper was strewn across it. Scraps of torn paper littered the floor.

“Hi, Kid. What’re you doing up at this hour?”

“What’m I doing up? What’re you doing up? It’s got to be past midnight.”

Heyes glanced at the clock on the mantel. “More like two a.m.”

“Oh. Good. That makes me feel better.”

“Why aren’t you asleep? That’s your favorite activity, isn’t it?”

Curry’s face settled into hard lines. “This ain’t the time to push me. I heard something crash.”

Heyes looked apologetic. “Sorry, Kid. I stood up too fast, and the chair fell down on the floor.” He paused, turning to focus on his sleep-deprived partner. “Did I wake you?”

“Yeah, you woke me! I was dreaming about Sally.”

“Sally from Rawlins?” He smiled fondly. “She does inspire dreams, doesn’t she?”

 Curry ran a hand through his tangled hair. “Why aren’t you in bed, having some nice dreams of your own?”

“Too much on my mind. You know I do all my best thinking at night.”

Curry pulled a chair out from the table and sat down. “You know I do all my best sleeping at night. Unless you’re doing your damnedest to keep me awake.”

“I said I was sorry.”

“Yeah, you did. You want to tell me what’s on your mind? That way, maybe we both can get some sleep.”

“Have you seen this?”  He handed the book to Curry, who read the title out loud.

‘“Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry and the Posse That Wouldn’t Quit.’ No, I ain’t seen this one before, but I seen some other ones like it. What about it?”

“You know what that is?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard for me to focus my eyes when I’m this tired, but I think it’s a dime novel.”

“Of course, it is, but that’s not all it is.”

Heyes stood with his hands on his hips, looking like he was ready for a fight. The signs were clear; Heyes had a bee in his bonnet about something, and Curry would never get any sleep until he figured out what that bee was.

“Alright, I’ll bite, even though I know I’ll be sorry I asked. What is it besides what it is?”

“It’s exploitation, that’s what it is. And fraud. It’s fraud, too. We’re being used, Kid. All of us here, not just you and me. You and me get the worst of it because we’re famous.”

“And how are we being exploited so bad that we both are awake at 2:00am?”

“Because the people who wrote and published this book are using our names to make money for themselves! And we ain’t getting one red cent of it!”

“Is that it? That’s why I’m not dreaming of Sally anymore?”

“Yeah! We’re being used by the rich all over again, to make money for them and not for us. It’s not right.”

“I don’t see what we can do about it, Heyes. We can’t exactly go to a court of law and sue them. We’re wanted criminals, remember? Besides, we make our living doing things that aren’t right.”

Heyes slammed his fist onto the table. Curry grabbed the ink bottle to keep it from spilling. Several sheets of paper floated gently onto the wooden floor.

“Damnation! Settle down, will you? It ain’t that important!”

“You’re wrong, Kid. It’s important to me, and it ought to be to you. Anyway, I got a plan, and all this is part of it.” Heyes waved his arms at the table. Curry looked blearily at the mess.

“First things first. I need something to help me concentrate. Any of that Kentucky bourbon left?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“How about you pour us a couple drinks? Then you can sit down and tell me what you got in mind. I can see I ain’t going to get any rest until you do.”

Moments later, Curry and a calmer Heyes sat together at the table, each man holding a shot glass filled with bourbon.

“Here’s my plan. Instead of some idiot easterner making up lies about us, and him making money off us, I’m going to write my own books, and I’ll tell the truth. I’ll beat them at their own game, and all the money will go to us, like it should do by rights.”

Impressed, Curry raised a glass to his partner. “I like it, Heyes. After all, you know what really happened. That’d make better novels because you don’t have to make stuff up.” The men touched their glasses together in a toast and drank.

“Except . . .” Heyes paused. “Except it’s turning out to be harder than I thought. I don’t seem to be making any progress. I write a few lines, then I look at them, and I think, this ain’t going nowhere, or, no, I don’t like the way this sounds. Then I get frustrated and tear everything up and start all over again.”

“That’s what all these torn papers on the floor are?”

Heyes nodded vigorously. “Exactly. I’ve had to scrap one story idea after another.” He took a drink of the bourbon before continuing. “This writing thing’s harder’n it looks.”

“Uh huh.” Curry looked thoughtful. “Maybe you’re going about this the wrong way.”

“Wrong how?”

“Well,” Curry said, folding his hands on the tabletop. “You been trying to write one story after another, right? You get started, you don’t like what you wrote, you get frustrated, and you start again, doing the same thing all over again, the same thing that didn’t work the first time or the second or the third. Maybe you should plan your book like you plan a bank job. You work backwards.”

“Backwards?” Heyes sounded doubtful. “That don’t make sense.”

“Sure, it does,” Curry insisted. “See, you start with knowing how it ends. For instance, think about the First National Bank of Denver. There’s a payroll due on, say, the 15th, so we want to break in that night. We work backwards from that point. We need to be in Denver on the 15th. How long will it take to get there, five days? So on the 10th, we got to go. What and who do we need to take with us? It’s all got to be ready on the 10th, so we have to start organizing on the 5th. You see?”

Heyes leaned back in his chair, looking at the ceiling. Curry recognized the signs of serious thought. He reached for his glass for another drink, but it was empty. He took Heyes’ glass and drained it.

“I get it.” Heyes looked at his partner with appreciation. “Kid, you’re a genius.”

“Damn straight. A thirsty genius. Fill these glasses, barkeep.”

“Alright. I know how the story ends. Instead of starting at the beginning, I start at the end, and backtrack.”

“And you don’t have to do it all at once, or even do it in order,” Curry suggested. “Write bits and pieces, and then put them in order and all together later. It’ll be like a plan you make for a job, where you come up with an idea, then you review it and refine it and make changes. Maybe even a lot of changes before it’s finished. Take the time you need to do it right. After all, you ain’t on a schedule when you’re writing a book. It’s done when you say it’s done.”

Heyes tapped the dime novel on the desk with one finger. “This fool thing reads like somebody wrote it all in one night and never looked at it again. And somehow, it sells.”

“Yours will sell better because you won’t write it all in one night. You’ll take the time to make it perfect, same as you do with every job we go on.”

“I like the way you think.” He glanced at the torn-up scraps of paper on the floor. “I’m going to need more paper. A lot more. And ink.”

“I’m making a list of supplies for our next trip to town. I’ll put ink and paper at the top.”

“Wonder what old Wheat’s going to say when he sees that on the list?”

“If you feel you need to explain yourself, tell him you’re drawing out floor plans for our next job. Remember, he don’t need to know the reason for everything we do. He just needs to do what he’s told.”

“Another good point.” Heyes stood up, putting both hands on the table. “I don’t know about you, Kid, but I’m a little tired. I’m going to hit the hay.”

“That’s the best idea you’ve had yet. Think I’ll do the same. Oh, and partner? Promise me one thing. When you get an idea for your book, tell me about it after I’ve slept and had my coffee and breakfast. Not at 2:00a.m. Deal?”

“Deal.”
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PostSubject: Re: Scrap   Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:16 pm

This one has taken on a life of it's own. Continuation from last month. I have written the ending but will wait and see if next month's prompt is suitable. If not then I'll post the whole lot over on Fanfiction.

Scrap

Chad was back at sundown as he promised.


“How has my patient been?” he asked, as he came in.


The sheriff looked up from reading the newspaper. “Quiet mostly. Didn’t want no lunch and he hasn’t thrown up no more.”


Chad smiled. “Well that’s a good sign. Can you let me in?”


Heyes had slept most of the day, making up for his disturbed night’s sleep. He was still lying on his bunk.
He appeared to be asleep but in reality, he was thinking.


The Kid had slept, paced and finally in desperation read more of the book, which he was doing now.


“Hey Doc, I think my partner is feeling a little better.”


“I can speak for myself, Mr Jones,” Heyes growled, blinking his eyes open as if he had just woken. “Hey Doc, glad to see you.”


The Sheriff got up and unlocked the cell.


“Alright, Jones, let’s go.”


The Kid looked up, with a frown.


“Where?”


“Over there.” The sheriff nodded to the cell across the aisle. “Give the doc more room to examine your friend.”


The Kid growled, as he rolled off his bunk. “I was all comfortable and cosy,” he grumbled. “An’ I’ve jus’ got to one of the only good parts in this darn book as well.” He stabbed his finger on the open book.


“Ya can take it with you,” the sheriff sighed.


“’Tain’t the same,” continued the grumbling one. He was going anyway, whether he like it or not.


With the Kid safely locked in other cell, the Sheriff let the doc in with Heyes.


“Sure you’ll be alright Doc?” he asked, doubtfully.


“Yes of course, sheriff. I’ll call if I need you.”


Once the sheriff had gone, Chad sat down on the bunk vacated by the Kid. Heyes hadn’t moved but he was looking at him expectantly.


“Well?”


“I can’t do it Heyes. I’ve thought it over and I can’t risk it. I’m sorry.” He looked at Heyes anxiously, willing him to understand.


Heyes harrumphed. He’d been hoping but he wasn’t surprised.


“Okay Chad I understand,” he sighed. “But can you tell me anything that might help?”


“Yeah.” Chad swallowed and nodded. “The game is set for nine tonight … .”


Heyes glanced at the jailhouse clock. “That’s TWO hours from now!”


“I didn’t make the time,” Chad protested.


Heyes rolled his eyes. “No of course not. And? Where is it?”


“Out at The Bonnet.”


“Huh?”


“That’s the name of the place ‘bout three miles west of town. It’s called that ‘cos the rocks above are kinda shaped like a woman’s bonnet. It’s a … .” Chad looked uncomfortable saying that he knew such places existed. “Well it’s a … house of ill-repute. Miles from anywhere but it’s er done up right fancy. There’s a big parlour with a separate entrance. You wouldn’t know you were where you are ‘cept …. .!


“Except for what?” Heyes was suspicious.


Chad reddened. “Well er ‘cept for the half naked women that er float in and out occasionally.”


Heyes growled. “Hardly the venue for a serious poker game is it?” he hissed.


“The buy in is five thousand dollars. Attracts a better element but no one too high faluting who'll mind that sorta thing.”


“Sheesh! Five thousand dollars!” Heyes rubbed his cheek, in frustration. All his plans, of which there were many and varied, had now dissolved. “You didn’t tell me that!”


Chad looked suitably guilty. 


“And you’ve got five thousand dollars?” Heyes demanded. “As a doc in a small town like this?”


Chad looked disgruntled. “Weren’t always a doc in a small town,” he forced out, reluctantly.


At that point, Heyes sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bunk. Chad sat back suddenly wary. He hadn’t known Heyes long when they were together in Devil’s Hole. Yet he did remember the way that young man’s demeanour changed from smiling and affable to serious and menacing in an instance. Here it was again. Heyes was giving him a look that demanded an explanation and it had better be good.


“Played a lot of poker when I was at medical school. Helped with the fees and living expenses y’know? Managed to build up a sizeable stake. Only I er didn’t EXACTLY do it … um … STRICTLY according to Hoyle. If you know what I mean?”


“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Heyes growled, wringing his hands together. “So what are you saying, Doc?”


Chad ran a hand over his face. “Well when I had my qualifications, I decided that … discretion was the better part of valour … and I oughta find a nice small, quiet out of the way town to set up shop. Ludlow fitted the bill.”


Heyes pursed his lips. “How long before they found you?”


Chad looked at him in surprise and then grunted out two years. Why was he surprised? This was Hannibal Heyes, criminal mastermind and all round super schemer. That man now sat with a rueful smile on his face.


“So you’re between a rock and a hard place aren’t you? Was it you who stole the cheese wheel?”


Chad smacked his lips and nodded.


“Where is it?”


“In my cold store. I planned to cut it up. Probably have to live on cheese for the rest of the year,” he said, bitterly, shaking his head. “Just as well I gave my wife that fondue set for Christmas.”


Heyes gave a short husky laugh, and then looked round for any sign of the sheriff. Would look suspicious if he and the doctor were caught laughing.


He paused. “It’s the only way to smuggle cards into this town, Heyes!”


Heyes looked amused. “Really?”


“It ain’t just the sheriff, Heyes. The womenfolk in this town can sniff out a poker chip at a hundred yards. They have this sixth sense or somethin’.” He tossed his hands in the air. “Dunno how they do it,” he added, shaking his head. “So I have to be real inventive to get all the paraphernalia here.”


Heyes gave him a sympathetic look. “So how much do you still owe?”


Chad looked embarrassed. “Thirty.”


“Thousand!” Heyes’ eyes were out on stalks.


“Yeah.” Then spying the sheriff coming in. “Well Mr Smith I think you’ve made a remarkable recovery. Get some more rest and tomorrow you’ll be right as rain.”


“Thanks doc.” Heyes returned to a prone position on his bunk, although this time he put his hand behind his head. He now had a lot more to think on and not a lot of time to do it in.


“He alright doc?” the sheriff asked, unlocking the cell.


“Yes he’s fine. Nothing too heavy for supper tonight. Perhaps some soup and bread.”


On his bunk, Heyes wrinkled his nose. He didn’t like soup! And he WAS hungry now. Perhaps the Kid would share his dinner. Ha! Fat chance of that!


Once Chad had gone, the sheriff unlocked the cell containing the Kid.


“Back you go, Jones.”


“What?” The Kid looked up in horror. “First I’m here, and then I’m there. It’s not as if I WANT to take root but … what kinda jail do you call this? When a body can’t settle for five minutes.” He growled as he got up.


Still muttering under his breath, he trooped back to the other cell. “When’s supper?” he demanded, irritably as he resettled on his bunk. “I’ve worked up an appetite with all this movin’ about.”


“Half an hour. Maybe a bit more. Have to tell ‘em ‘bout Smith’s special diet but I can’t leave ‘til Elmo gets here.”


“Why not sheriff?” Heyes said, innocently. “You oughta know my partner here gets real cranky if he doesn’t eat regular. You can lock the outside doors. We aren’t going anywhere.”


The sheriff growled and glanced at the clock. “Elmo’s late. Suppose I could. Alright.” He reached for his hat and keys. “But I won’t be long and Elmo could turn up at any moment.”


“See ya sheriff,” chorused two innocent choirboys.


As the key turned in the lock, the pair sat up and looked at each other.


“So are we getting outta here now?” the Kid asked, hopefully.


“No, not yet.”


“Why not?”


“Things have got a little more complicated.”


“Complicated? It can’t GET any more complicated. I don’t even know why we’re still here!”


“Kid, Chad’s in trouble and needs our help.”


“What? We can’t even help ourselves at the moment.” He paused. “We had a plan Heyes!” The Kid looked doubtfully. “Didn’t we?”


“Yeah we did but I’ve had to scrap the Carlton Balfour part of that. Chad wouldn’t help me … us to get outta here so I’ve gotta come up with something else.”


“Like what?”


Heyes tapped his fingers on his lips thoughtfully. “Fine wine, Kid. Remember?” He swung his legs back on his bunk. “I’m letting it breath.”


The Kid rolled his eyes and shuddered.

ASJASJASJASJ


A little while later.


“Heyes I’ve been thinking.”


There was a grunt, a little between an uh-huh and a snort. When he received the look, Heyes sat up and swung his legs over the side of his bunk.


“Now Kid, you know … .”


“I know. I know. The arrangement. But this here book explains a few things ‘bout puzzling out mysteries. It’s got me thinkin’. The sheriff don’t seem too keen on investigating that missing cheese wheel does he? I mean he’s been here most of the time. Shouldn’t he be out asking questions, looking for clues, gathering evidence? That sorta thing?”


Heyes nodded. “Yes,” he agreed, thoughtfully. “He WAS keen to lock us up and finger us for the theft. Hmmm.”


“Didn’t ya think of that?” The Kid looked hopeful that he’d thought of something Heyes hadn’t.


“Yes,” Heyes nodded, firmly. “But I was kinda working on how to get us outta here instead. And I think I have.”


Before he could say any more they heard the key in the lock of the street door. In came the sheriff with a towel-draped tray. Supper had arrived. Shortly followed by a red-faced Elmo.


“Sorry Sheriff, I got caught up,” he apologised.


A few minutes, Ludlow jail would pass for a supper club, as the only sounds were those of mastication. Heyes drank his soup with a disgusted look on his face. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it. He just couldn’t abide soup! To make things worse, the Kid was tucking into a big roast dinner. Heyes spied an opportunity and deftly scooped up a roast potato before the Kid could stop him.


“Hey!”


Heyes grinned broadly, as he chewed the purloined potato.


“You can have a slurp of my soup if you like?” he offered in return.


“No thank you,” the Kid grumbled, and moved away so nothing else on his plate would be diverted away.


Heyes gave a deep sigh. He took one more spoonful of the soup and set the bowl aside. Looking across to the desk, Elmo looked to have the same as the Kid but the sheriff wasn't eating. In fact, he looked as though he was preparing to leave. Mind made up, Heyes wiped his hands on his thighs and got up.


“Er sheriff, can I ask a question before you go?” He stood expectantly, both hands on the bars.


“Yeah, what do you want?” the sheriff asked. He was hungry too and the smell of cooking was making his stomach gurgle. He knew his wife had dinner waiting for him at home.


“Well it's not so much what I want but more what I can do for you.” Heyes flashed his double dimple smile.

“How’d you like to be a hero?”


“Huh?”


The sheriff approached warily. Heyes waited until he was standing on the opposite side of the bars.


“Why haven’t you investigated the theft of the cheese wheel?”


“Waal I figured that's long gone by now. Won't find any evidence and if I did I couldn’t prove it came from that wheel.” The sheriff shook his head. “It'll have to remain one of life's unsolved mysteries.”


“Then why are you still holding us?”


The sheriff looked a little uncomfortable. “Insurance,” he mouthed.


“Insurance?” Heyes frowned.


“I had to keep you locked up until Jacob's claim was accepted. And it was this afternoon.”


“So how much longer were you figuring on keeping us?”


“Planning on letting you go in the morning.”


 “I see.” Heyes put his hands on his hips and looked stern. “You do realise Sheriff that we can sue for unlawful arrest.”


The sheriff rubbed his chin, a rueful grin on his face. “Well yeah ya could but I don’t figure ya will.”


“And why not?” Heyes demanded. His voice became noticeably harder.


“You’re drifters aren’t ya? You didn’t give me much money to look after when I arrested ya. Bed and full board for three nights for free oughta be compensation enough.”


Heyes twitched his nose. He didn’t have an answer to that because it was true. “That’s as maybe, Sheriff but letting us out in the morning will be too late.”


“Too late for what?”


“To make you a hero! My partner and I, haven’t exactly been entirely truthful with you either sheriff.”


“How’s that?”


The Kid looked up in interest. He was witnessing an embryonic Hannibal Heyes plan.


Heyes took a deep sigh. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this? But it seems I do.” He paused. “Our names aren’t Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith.”


“They aren’t?”


“No,” Heyes said, shaking his head.


The Kid stopped chewing. He had an awful feeling he knew what was coming. Especially when Heyes pointed his hand in his direction.


“This here is Alphonse Hodgekiss and I’m Stan Rembacker.” (The Kid rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Yep, Heyes had saddled him with an outrageous name again!) “And we work for the Bannerman Detective Agency. We’ve been sent here by Special Agent Harry Briscoe, himself. ‘Course you’ll have heard of him. Being one of their top agents and all.”


The sheriff frowned and slowly shook his head. “No,” he said, doubtfully.


Heyes laughed and turned back to the Kid. “Hey Alphonse, looks like we’ve found one of the few people who haven’t heard of ole Harry. What are the chances of that? Huh?”


The Kid grunted ambiguously.


Heyes turned back. “We’re working undercover sheriff. Investigating illegal gambling.”


“Illegal gambling? In this town? There’s nothing like that here. I’d know about it if there was.” The sheriff looked affronted.


“We had a tip off from Dr Walker. You know him. Nice fella. Was here earlier.”


“I know who Dr Walker is.”


Heyes sighed and stepped closer to the bars. He lowered his voice so that the sheriff had to come closer as well.


“This can’t go any further, Sheriff. I’m telling you this in confidence. You being an Officer of the Law and all. Same as us.” He gestured to himself and the Kid. “Dr Walker fell into a little trouble a few years ago and … well he’s being … blackmailed.” Inwardly, Heyes smiled. He could tell he’d hooked the sheriff. “Poor Doc Walker’s been arranging big time poker games.”


“You don’t say?” the sheriff found himself whispering as well.


“I do say and it so happens there’s a game tonight.”


“Where?”


“Uh.” Heyes held up a finger. “Now I can’t tell you that until you let Alphonse and me outta here. Y’see Alphonse (The Kid rolled his eyes again) and me, we’ve gotta be there when you break up the game.”


The sheriff looked doubtful but the possibility of some big arrests beckoned. He couldn’t pass that over.


“Why?”


Heyes had warmed to his story and was looking eager. “Word has it there’s gonna be some big time gamblers at the game tonight. There’ll never be a better chance for the law to get ‘em. It was Dr Walker who tipped Bannerman off in the hope we would do something about it. So here we are. But if it gets out that Doc Walker told on these guys then there could be … well let’s just say there could be reprisals. We need to spirit him away and keep him safe, while you and your … .” Heyes glanced over at Elmo, who was picking at bits of dinner he’d spilt down his shirt. He wrinkled his nose up in distaste as Elmo popped the bits into his mouth. “Er … men make the arrests.”


“Well I can … .”


“No sheriff that’s OUR job. That’s what Bannerman expects us to do. You can have the … prestige of making the arrests. Don’t matter any to us. We’ll look after Doc Walker. What d’you say?” Heyes leant his elbow on the bars, his other hand on his hip, as he watched the cogs of the sheriff’s mind turn in thought.

“We don’t have much time, sheriff,” he urged. “The game’s at nine and it’s outta town.”


The sheriff rubbed his chin as he considered. He glanced at Elmo who was now stretching and yawning.


“Need to round up a few men … .”


“Send Elmo to do that.” Heyes paused. “It’ll keep him awake if nothing else,” he smiled.

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



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PostSubject: Re: Scrap   Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:14 am

Curry Red and Blue


Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry studied the horses milling around the livery coral with discerning eyes. Kid elbowed his partner and pointed to a compact well-muscled sorrel gelding, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters, about 14 hands high. Heyes nodded his agreement and turned to the middle-aged woman standing beside him.


“How about that red one with the one white sock and wide blaze on the forehead, ma’am?”

The woman pulled her hat brim down to better shade her eyes and stepped closer to the sturdy fence only to shrink back when a large bay came barreling up to investigate and thrust his head at the onlookers.

“I don’t know, they all look so big to me. I haven’t ridden a horse in years.” She sidled closer and slightly behind the dark-haired man.

Curry dropped his foot from the bottom rail and turned to face the woman. He smiled his best reassuring smile. “I think he’ll do just fine for you ma’am. He’s compact, calm, agile and looks to have a lot of quarter horse in him, easy riding, should have good speed if we need it, and the endurance to make the trip.”

“My partner’s a good judge of horses Mrs. Clewell, I’d take his recommendation, besides I know they all look big if you’re not a regular rider but compare him to Thaddeus’ big black gelding, Blackjack, over there or even Clay, my chestnut, and the sorrel isn’t really big at all.” Heyes patiently pointed where the partners’ horses were saddled, loaded, and waiting.

Judith Clewell pushed a short dark blonde curl out of her eyes as she turned to follow Mr. Smith’s finger. She bit her lower lip nervously and her gaze traveled back and forth between the horses in indecisiveness.

“Ma’am, we were hired to protect and escort you to the Nolan Ranch, where Sheriff Trevors will meet us. Part of the instructions were to avoid public transportation like stagecoaches and trains so unless you want to walk from Utah to Wyoming you’re gonna have to get on the back of a horse or a mule. Take my word for it, you’ll be able to handle the horse easier than a mule.” Heyes pushed his black hat further back on his head before putting his hands on his slim hips as he bluntly laid out the situation for the partners’ charge.

Julia glanced around the dark-haired man to the blond who smiled encouragingly and tilted his head towards the sorrel.

“Joshua’s right ma’am. Now, we’re gonna have to pass through some mighty rough country and that sorrel looks almost as surefooted as a mule but probably a whole lot less stubborn and ornery.”

“And Thaddeus knows stubborn and ornery real well,” muttered Heyes under his breath so Judith had to strain to hear.

Kid shot Heyes a look of good-natured indignation.

Judith tentatively stepped back up to the corral fence, took another long look before turning back to her waiting escorts and acquiesced to their judgement. “Alright, gentlemen, the sorrel it is.”
Heyes nodded in satisfaction and strode off to complete the transaction with the livery owner while Curry prepared to tack up and load the gelding.

~~~~~~*~~~~~~

“Morning ma’am.” The Kid held out a steaming mug of Heyes’ fresh-brewed coffee as he squatted in front of a bleary-eyed, barely moving woman, who was clutching her blanket to her chin. “This is strong enough to wake the dead and it’ll get you up and moving no matter how sore you still are. My partner, over there, is getting the biscuits and bacon ready. He’ll bring one over in a minute. See breakfast in bed. Trail riding’s not so bad after all.”

Judith smiled when she held out a hand and accepted the cup, letting the blanket pool in her lap as she sat up. She tilted her head to look at the pink dawn. “The air is chilly, thanks for the warm cup, Thaddeus.”


“It’s warm but as you found out already, there’s no guarantee of it tasting any good.”

“Never mind him, Judy. He’s been complaining for years about my coffee but it can’t be too bad, he doesn’t get up early to make it and he still drinks it.” Heyes remarked as he passed biscuits around. “After we finish eating, Thaddeus and I are going to wash up. I suggest you do the same on the other side of that big boulder. You should have some privacy. We’ll be leaving the river in a few hours and climbing to the rim of the canyon.”

Heyes turned his brown eyes skyward, noticing a clear sky without a cloud in sight. “Enjoy the coolness while you can. We’ll most likely be in for days of hot, dry weather for the rest of the trip.”

~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~

Heyes led the small group up the steep, narrow trail, winding back and forth across the canyon wall. Judith Clewell rode in the middle position and Curry brought up the rear. The animals hugged the inside wall, occasionally scraping a rider’s leg against rocky protuberances. Clay placed an outside hoof against a loose small boulder, which sent stones and soil skittering off the side. Judith pulled hard on the reins and froze in the sorrel’s saddle. She sat motionless, staring down.

“Ma’am, don’t look down. Keep your eye and your attention on following Joshua,” the Kid advised in order to get her moving again.

The white-knuckled grip on the leather did not loosen and the woman’s gaze remained fixed in fright.
Heyes twisted to look behind him. “He’s right. The sorrel’s sure-footed and even though the trail’s narrow, it is solid. Believe me, Judy, the horse wants to get to the top as much as you do. There is not enough room to turn around so unless you want to stay here for the rest of your life you’re gonna have to trust in him.  We have a lot of money riding on getting you to Lom safe and sound, so rest assured we aren’t about to let you fall off the side of a cliff.”

Curry shot a glare of annoyance up at his partner, which Heyes shrugged off before kicking his horse once more into a slow walk up the steep incline.

The Kid talked soothingly as if he had all the time in the world, while bringing Blackjack up close to the sorrel. “Relax your grip on the reins, leave them loose in your hand and let the horse have his head.” He stood up in the stirrups, balancing on one foot and leaned off to the side in order to see around to the frightened woman in front of him. “That’s it, you’ve done well so far and we’re more than half way up. It was only a few rocks tumblin’ down, nothin’ to worry about.” Curry with a sure hand, guided his gelding to gently nudge the stationary animal into motion.


Several hours later of harrowing riding in the hot sun under a cloudless brilliant, blue sky the horses reached the flat ground of the canyon rim. Heyes called a halt several yards from the edge, taking advantage of a forlorn clump of windblown pines that offered the only substantial shade as far as the eye could see.

The men dismounted and grabbed their canteens. Heyes swept his black hat from his sweaty head and raked one hand through matted brown hair. He squinted into the distance, orienting himself in the monotonous landscape as a brisk dry wind swirled dust around them.

The Kid stepped up to the sorrel and handed a canteen to Judith. When he offered a helping hand to dismount, the grateful woman fell into his arms, her sun bonnet brim catching and then knocking Curry’s hat from his head.

“Oh my,” Judith exclaimed into the Kid’s chest as she steadied herself within his embrace.

The brown Stetson went somersaulting along the ground back towards the canyon edge as blue eyes watched with growing alarm over a calico clad shoulder. Curry let his charge go and scrambled after his hat. He hurriedly bent to reach for the brim when a sudden strong gust spiraled the headgear just beyond his grasp. A last-ditch dive was wasted effort as three pairs of eyes tracked the hat, it’s narrow pearl white band glinting in the sun, as it disappeared on its downward journey.

The Kid scooted back a few feet from his precarious position and rolled over onto his back, starring up at the cloudless sky for a few moments.

“I’m so sorry Thaddeus. I didn’t mean to knock your hat off.”

“It’s all right ma’am. I know you didn’t.”

Heyes ambled over, tightening the stampede strings of his own hat, and peered over the edge to the gorge below. He announced, “it’s gone.”

“Can you see it? Maybe I can go back down a way and get it?” Curry stood up and walked over to stand next to his partner.

“Nope, it’s gone for good. We don’t have the time to go back and besides we can’t even see it from here. You’ll have to get a new one.”

“You wouldn’t be saying that if it was your hat. I’m pretty darn sure you would come up with all sorts plans to get your ratty old hat back no matter how long it took,” Curry snapped back.

“But it’s not my hat, it’s yours and it was a boring hat with no panache, anyways.  You can easily replace it.”

“Panache, or no panache, whatever that is, it protected my head and face without saying look at this hat and while you’re lookin’ notice the fella under it.” Blue eyes met brown with unspoken truth but Heyes remained unrepentant.

“Thaddeus?”

Both men pivoted towards the forgotten female in their midst.
“Yes?”

“Well, it’s just us out here. And Joshua did say we have two or three more days until we reach the Nolan Ranch. I was thinking that I have a spare bonnet in my bag that you could use.”

Heyes started to smirk and struggled to hold in a chuckle from a vision Kid Curry is a woman’s sun bonnet.

Kid’s eyes widened and his mouth moved. “Ummm….”

A loud snort had both Judith and Curry glaring at the older man. Heyes covered his mouth and retreated to the horses, his shoulders shaking in silent laughter.

“Thank you, ma’am for the offer. Let me think on it but for now I’ll just tie my bandana around my head.”

~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~

Judith encouraged the sorrel to catch up to the lead horse and rider. She called out, words were exchanged and both riders turned in the saddle to study the trailing Curry.

“We’re making good time. We’ve crossed into Wyoming sooner than I expected. I have to compliment you, Judy, for keeping up with the pace I set. For an inexperienced rider, you’ve done well. Why don’t we stop earlier than usual tonight and get out of the hot sun why we can? We’ll make the Nolan Ranch with time to spare tomorrow,” Heyes suggested as his partner caught up with them.

Judy replied quickly, “I think that’s a very good idea and thank you for the compliment, Joshua.”

The nightly ritual of making camp was in full swing where Heyes and Curry had chosen a sheltered shaded spot alongside the Blacks Fork River. The Kid had groomed and settled the animals. He was now kneeling at the side of the small tributary of the Green River splashing cool water on the back of his neck and cooling his face with a wet bandana, a freshly cut fishing pole, string, and hook lay at his side.

Heyes and Judith were arranging camp and deciding on dinner, quietly conversing as they worked.  


“Do you think Thaddeus will be able to catch anything or should we use the last of the bacon with the beans?”

“If there’s fish in that pool, Thaddeus will catch them. He likes to eat and is very good at making sure we have fresh meat or in this case fish. We don’t starve on the trail. Let’s save the bacon.”

Judith replaced the bacon back into the grub sack. “You know he’s turning redder by the hour. It’s got to hurt. Thanks for stopping when we found shade.”

“I meant what I said, we did make good time and this is the best place to stop.”

At Judith’s knowing expression, Heyes relented. “All right, I’ve noticed the sunburn and I bet if we look close his nose might be starting to blister but he’ll never admit it.”

“We’ll tomorrow he’ll just have to wear my spare bonnet, whether he likes it or not. And you, Mr. Smith will not snicker, snort, laugh, or say one word making fun of him doing it.” declared the determined woman, shooting a stern look at her companion’s expression of false innocence.

The next morning the Kid saddled the horses and was leading them up from the river to where the two other travelers were waiting to load their gear. He glanced up the small incline, eyes narrowed, lips thinned, and he stopped in his tracks.

Heyes was bent over, fiddling with his saddle bags, surreptitious watching the coming confrontation.
“Here this is for you.” Judith Clewell lifted her arm straight out towards the badly sunburned younger man, a sunbonnet of a muslin print of bluebonnets and green leaves on a pale blue background dangled from her fingertips, the ties trailing down.

The ends of blonde curls under a loosely tied yellow bandana swayed as Curry stiffly shook his head slightly side to side.

Judith slowly stepped up to the Kid her hand drifted to gingerly touch his neck and cheek and winced sympathetically as Curry’s skin around his eyes tightened and his jaw set stubbornly.

“Please, Thaddeus, you’ve had way too much sun for your fair complexion and I need to make amends for losing your hat.”

Heyes came over. He scrutinized his partner’s face, and with all traces of lingering amusement wiped from his demeanor added his two cents, “she’s right. You have a bad case of sunburn, my friend, and unless you want those small blisters to become big blisters and completely obscure your boyish looks that the ladies seem to like, I advise you take her up on the offer. I solemnly promise not to laugh.”

The Kid stood there with boots planted firmly shoulder width apart and hands tucked into his belt, scrutinizing both his traveling companion’s faces.

Heyes shook his head at Curry’s semi-threatening pose.

Judith reached up to gently removed the bandana from the blonde curls and placed the sun bonnet on the Kid’s head. Curry’s hand shot up and lightly grabbed her wrist when the woman started to tie a bow under his chin.

“Thank you. I can do it,” Curry muttered as he loosely tied a knot in the bonnet’s fabric ties. He stood self-consciously, glaring at Heyes, daring him to make a comment at Heyes’ peril. The older man received the unspoken message loud and clear and for once held his tongue.

Judith stood back and eyed him critically. “You know, that’s my favorite sun bonnet even though I sewed it from left over dress scraps. The bluebonnet print always reminds me of Texas, where I’m originally from, they seemed to be in every meadow.” With a smile of appreciation, Judith turned back to retrieve her bags and added over her shoulder, “It also brings out the lovely blue of your eyes.”

~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~

Sheriff Lom Trevors rode up to the Nolan Ranch as stealthily as he could, despite running late, to assess the surroundings. He spotted Heyes leaving the ramshackle barn and waved a greeting. No one else was in sight. The two men met up on the porch.

Lom quickly peered in through a window. His eyes widened in surprise and he looked back at Heyes in confusion.

“Who’s the other woman? And where’s the Kid?”

Heyes bit the insides of his cheeks to keep from making a noise and peered over Lom’s shoulder. He could plainly see Judith Clewell sitting on the chair that faced the window. However, the second person was mostly obscured by a high-backed shabby sofa. All that could be seen was the back of blue sunbonnet, wisps of blonde curls sticking out from the sides.

“Oh, the Kid’s inside with Judy. Come on in Lom and see.”

The two men entered. The bonnet clad head rose up, the person wearing it turned around to greet the newcomer.

“Ki….er…Thaddeus?”

Heyes guffawed.

Lom joined in the laughter.

Judith looked at Heyes with amused disappointment.

The Kid glared.

Lom shut up, Heyes didn’t.

~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~

The partners rode into the first safe town on the way from the Nolan Ranch to Porterville, where they would meet back up with Lom Trevors after he delivered Judith Clewell safely to her final destination.

“Livery, hotel, or drink first?” Heyes rattled off the usual options.

“Neither, I have to buy a hat first. I mean it was nice of Lom to loan me his hat but I do have to give it back to him.”

Heyes leaned back in his saddle as the horses slowly walked down the busy main street. He studied his partner’s face and winced. Curry’s forehead and neck were still very red but now they were peeling and the tip of his nose was one big blister, yep a new hat was definitely in order.

“Don’t laugh but one thing that darn bonnet had going for it was the wide floppy brim, which did keep the sun off my face, although, I could do without that flap at the back and the cloth ties. I wonder if they have a hat with a brim kinda like the bonnet?” Kid fixed his reins on the hitching post and stepped up onto the boardwalk in front of the general mercantile.

 
 
Bluebonnet, Texas
Bluebonnet is a name given to any number of blue-flowered species of the genus Lupinus predominantly found in southwestern United States and is collectively the state flower of Texas. The shape of the petals on the flower resembles the bonnet worn by pioneer women to shield them from the sun.[1] Species often called bluebonnets include:
·        Lupinus texensis, Texas bluebonnet or Texas lupine
·        Lupinus havardii, Big Bend bluebonnet or Chisos bluebonnet
·        Lupinus argenteus, silvery lupine
·        Lupinus concinnus, Bajada lupine
·        Lupinus plattensis, Nebraska lupine
·        Lupinus subcarnosus, sandyland bluebonnet or buffalo clover
On March 7, 1901, Lupinus subcarnosus became the only species of bluebonnet recognized as the state flower of Texas;[2] however, Lupinus texensis emerged as the favorite of most Texans. So, in 1971, the Texas Legislature made any similar species of Lupinus that could be found in Texas the state flower.[3][4]
As an extension of Lady Bird Johnson's efforts at highway beautification in the United States (see Highway Beautification Act), she encouraged the planting of native plants along Texas highways after she left the White House.[Bluebonnet blooms are now a common sight along these highways in the springtime.[2] They serve as a popular backdrop for family photographs, and the Department of Public Safety issues safety recommendations with regard to drivers pulling off highways to take such pictures.[
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Scrap   Tue May 01, 2018 1:04 am

Coincidences

Jed “Kid” Curry lounged in the warm water.  He reflected on the day and how they wound up here. 

Arriving in town, they stopped at the local hotel and requested a room with a view and a bathtub, standard issue for them.  However, not finding one available when they arrived, they decided to move on to the boardinghouse down the street.  Coincidently, the clerk informed them, a room opened up just as they were leaving due to a last-minute cancellation; or so they were told.

“Let’s face it, Kid, they just don’t like the way we look.  Don’t they understand we know we’re filthy and that’s what the tub’s for?”

“Well, they did let us know where the bath house was.”  Curry’s tone turned sarcastic.  “That was nice and neighborly of them.”

Hannibal Heyes rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, real neighborly.  Our money’s not good unless we take a dark garret in the attic, or until we’re ready to walk out the door.  And then a ‘last-minute’ cancellation – ha!  But at least we can keep an eye on the sheriff’s office.”

Curry smiled.  “Or just a coincidence?”  He considered something his partner said.  “Heyes, what’s a garret?”

“Where poets write.  And us geniuses think.”

“Doesn’t sound like a good deal.  How can ya write, read, or even think in a place that’s so dark?”

A suddenly wistful Heyes responded, “Something about the mood, Kid.  Something about the mood.”

It was Curry’s turn to roll his eyes.

And so, garrets or sheriff’s offices aside, they had their room with a view, and a bathtub.

A flip of a coin – Curry’s this time – had him going first.  They ordered a bath drawn while they ate dinner – heartily, we might add, as the trail had our two goodhearted bad men longing for the comforts of civilization – and Kid wasted no time in shucking his trail clothes for the soothing effects of bath water. 

Heyes rummaged in his saddle bags for the good whiskey he had picked up at their last stop a week before and poured two good-sized shots.  Handing one to Curry, he sat and sipped, enjoying the pleasant burn snake down his throat.  “This is the life, Kid.  A soft bed, warm bath, and good whiskey.  Wherever we’ve been and whatever we’ve done, it’s always the same things that bring the most pleasure, don’t’cha think?”

“Ya mean creature comforts, Heyes?”

“Yup.  We’ve had women, money, and other stuff, but it doesn’t get much better than this.”  He finished his whiskey and set his glass on the floor beside the chair.  Putting his head back, he closed his eyes. 

The silence caused Curry to glance at his partner.  The whiskey passed its effects on him, too, and his lids soon drooped.

~~00oo00~~

Hoorahing gunshots outside the hotel soon had the main street erupting in a cacophony of gunfire and smoke.  A few small fireworks exploded, crescendoing in a finale sending sparks through the open window of the ex-outlaws’ room, lighting the darkness and waking both and sending Heyes to the floor to take cover.  The sleepily confused dark-haired ex-outlaw fumbled about for his sidearm, grasping only a handful of cloth from the floor.

He heard a voice – Kid’s – telling him to try to light the lamp.  His eyes adjusting to the dark, he followed a sliver of light from the crack at the bottom of the threshold from the oil sconces in the hallway, tracking it with his eyes to the carved feet of the dresser. Rising, he felt around and found the lamp, removed the globe, put something in his hand in his pocket, located the matchbox, and lit the lamp.  Replacing the globe, he adjusted the flame to its lowest possible setting so only a soft glow illuminated the room.  Keeping to one side of the window, he peered out through the sheer curtain panels, and saw throngs of cowhands celebrating.  They were quieter than he would have expected a bunch of men to be, but it was the calm after the storm, instead of before.

Kid Curry kept his voice low.  “All clear?”

“All clear,” Heyes said in relief.  He did not actually let out a breath until he pulled the shade all the way down.

The partners regarded each other in the dim shadows.  This town where they had stopped to rest from a never-ending trail was in fact a small railhead from which stock from local ranches started their journeys to slaughter.  The sudden din splitting the stillness had rattled them, evoking a feeling of a day and time so long ago … 

“What’s the name of this town again, Heyes?”

“Lawrence.”  A chill went up Heyes’ spine as he said it. 

They looked at each other.  This mutual feeling did not happen often, but it did from time to time.  Heyes turned up the lamp, eager to banish the memories.

“Heyes, throw me a towel.  It’s your turn.”

The ex-outlaw leader did as requested, and started unbuttoning his shirt.  As he tossed it on the bed, a slip of cloth dropped from his pocket.

Curry saw it.  “What’s that?”

Heyes shrugged as he continued to undress.  “Something I picked up from the floor, I guess.”

Dry now, Curry shucked the towel, grabbing and putting on his long johns, all the while mesmerized by the strip of fabric.

Heyes stepped in the bath.  The water had cooled.  “Kid, can you bring over those two pitchers of hot water they left?”

“Sure.”  With one eye not leaving the fabric scrap, Curry poured the pitchers’ contents into the tub.  He set the vessels aside and examined the scrap.  It was a dirty bit of blue and yellow calico, no more than a couple inches wide and thrice as long.  He studied it for a long while, until interrupted by Heyes’ asking for his book.  He found it in his partner’s saddlebags – David Copperfield – the very story his own father was reading at the time … He dimmed the lamp before handing the book to Heyes.

“What’d you do that for, Kid.  I wanted to read.”

“You can’t say ya didn’t feel it, Heyes.”

“Feel what?”

“Before.  You felt it, too.  I know you did.”  Curry’s voice grew almost ethereal in the shadows.  “I wanna remember for a minute.”

“Kid, stop it.  I’m getting a chill.”

“It’s not the water, Heyes.  I just put warm water in.  It’s the feelin’.”

“You and your feelings.  Turn up the light.  You’re giving me the creeps.”

“Don’t ya see, Heyes.  Lawrence, the noise, and my pa was reading this same book as you are … Somethin’s going on.”

“Just coincidences, Kid.”

“No, Heyes, hear me out.”  Kid turned up the lamp a little, but not enough to read by.  He fingered the scrap of fabric.  “This cloth is the same as my ma’s favorite bonnet.  It’s like this place is …”

“Don’t say it, Kid.  I’m gonna tell myself the chill up my spine is the water being cold, and you didn’t say anything before about me reading this book.  Some lady must’ve ripped her dress here in this room and forgot about the torn piece, so it got left behind.  And as for this place being Lawrence … well, it’s just another coincidence.” 

“You’re just as spooked as I am, Heyes, but tryin’ to explain it away.”

“It’s the whiskey.  We had too much of the good stuff.”

“That doesn’t explain everything.”  Curry imparted a sad smile.  “Let’s just figure that they’re watchin’ out for us and lettin’ us know we’re not alone.”  He held up the scrap before depositing it in his boot for safekeeping.  “We don’t remember as much as we should, so I’m gonna carry this with me so I don’t forget so much.”

The silver tongue quieted for several moments, and Kid could tell Heyes was deep in thought.  “Kid, turn up the lamp, will ya?”

The mood broken, Curry turned up the flame and watched Heyes leaf through the book.  “Here it is.  I read this part when I was waiting for you to come back from the livery.”  Heyes read, “It was a long and gloomy night that gathered on me, haunted by the ghosts of many hopes, of many dear remembrances, many errors, many unavailing sorrows and regrets.” 

They looked at each other and took it in.  Heyes shivered, then dipped his hand into the bathwater.  “It’s warm.”

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Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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