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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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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   Yesterday at 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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