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 May

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PostSubject: May   Tue May 01, 2018 8:11 am

Time for a new challenge and the month has provided it for us. Your new story prompt is 
 

confused May  Bouquet


That can be a woman's name, the month, the spring blossom, the expression used to express possibility as well as for asking for permission.


So, what are you waiting for?


Get writing.
Writing


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before starting  on May. Comments are the only thanks our writers get. 
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Cal

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PostSubject: Re: May   Mon May 07, 2018 10:31 am

May


“Beautiful day for a wedding… isn’t it?”


Hannibal Heyes stepped out into the street, tipping his hat to the undertaker’s wife and brushing off the cuffs of his stylish brown suit.


“Sure is.  Beautiful sunshine. Music in the air. All these spring flowers. Scent on the breeze…”


Kid pulled at the front of his blue suit jacket, wishing it would feel just a little less tight. The suit had been tailored in leaner times. He pulled his hat forward to shade his eyes and grin at his partner.  Heyes gave him a quizzical look.  It wasn’t like Kid to wax lyrical on nature.


“… Martha is sure gonna make one beautiful June bride” finished Kid with a poetical flourish.


“It’s May” stated Heyes, raising his eyebrows to the poet. “And its Martha and Red, not Romeo and Juliette.”


“Do we know them … Did we go to their wedding too?” asked the gunslinger guilessly.


“No… I think we may have missed that one Kid… by a coupla hundred years or so” said Heyes, shaking his head in amusement.  “So… we better make the best of this one… What d’yer say?”


“Oh yes..” grinned Kid.  “We’re gonna be drinking, and eating, and dancing, and… everything! I say … we enjoy ourselves royally.  I’ve made sure we ain’t getting disturbed”


The small white church was just at the top of the street.  A parade of small children in their Sunday finest, each holding a small clutch of freshly plucked wildflowers, streamed passed Heyes and The Kid. The boys stopped to let them pass.


“The Murtry’s …sure know how to …multiply …don’t they” grinned Kid in wonder.


“Yeah…” agreed Heyes.  “Weird thing is… even the little girls have a look of Kyle about them. Kinda makes me worry … if any of them posies contain dynamite.”


“Hah! Don’t worry Heyes.” Reassured Kid.  “This here wedding may be Kyle’s idea… but its Martha calling the shots.  I never saw anything this complicated… get organised so quick…”


“Yeah… Anyone would think she’s been planning it for years” smiled Heyes ruefully.  “A plan like this …Kid… don’t just come together by itself… overnight.”


Kid’s face contorted in thought.


“Sure is strange.  Kyle being so dead set against Red ever marrying his youngest sister… and now…. this!”


They’d arrived at the beautifully arranged floral arbour at the front of the church.  Two fiddle players were funnelling the cheerful wedding attendees through to the pews beyond.


“Welcome Brethren” said Preacher solemnly, waving Kid in to take his place.


Kid tipped his hat to Heyes and left him outside, waiting for the bride. 


Kyle had asked the leader of the Devil’s Hole gang to stand in for an absent father of the bride.  Heyes had reluctantly agreed.  He was also footing the bill for this shindig, well technically, Wells and Fargo were. 


Heyes looked back up the street towards the only Hotel Harristown had to offer.  The bridal party was on its way. Martha, in lace bonnet and ribbons, Sunday best dress and enormous bouquet of Spring flowers was surrounded by an adoring entourage of her sisters and mother.


Heyes beamed in their direction.


“Hold up! Hold up! “cried Kyle, waving at them furiously to slow them down.
“We ain’t got the groom into the church yet! It’s gotta be done proper!”


He waved his shotgun about, earning him a scolding from his eldest sister, Rosalind.  


Kyle spat voluminously, straightened what looked like a floral cravat around his not-too-clean neck, and turned his back on the bridal party.


From the undertaker’s store room, the only place in Harristown that had ever been used as a jailhouse, Red was wheeled out into the street.  His leg was shuttered in planks, where Doc said he’d had to dig Kyle’s bullet out, and he looked like someone else had dressed him, in someone else’s clothes.
 
Heyes took a fair guess the clothes had once belonged to a certain absent father of the bride, from the look of the cut and stiff collar.


Red smiled over to Martha, and patted the flower in his lapel. Then seeing the cussed look on Kyle’s face cast his eyes down.


“Git moving!” ordered Kyle, thinking that everyone should just remember that he was running things today and that this wedding was out of necessity ...as he’d come across… well … never mind what he’d come across. Just the thought of what he’d come across, sent a bright crimson wave of colour up his body to the very tips of his ears.


“You are marrying Martha today… and…. I’m seeing its done right!”


Heyes stood aside to let the grooms party enter the church.
 
With just a slight readjustment of the floral arbour, resulting in Red’s lap being filled with petals and Kyle looking like he’d already been showered with confetti, the church was set to receive the bride.


Heyes extended an arm to Martha with a broad dimpled smile as her mother and sisters also took their places on the pews.


“Shall we?” he said impishly.


“At last!” smiled Martha conspiratorially.


She looked up at the beautiful flowers over the door and paused for just a second.


“And Heyes…. Thank you …. for figuring out how to bring Kyle round… I was beginning to think this day would never happen.”
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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: May   Sun May 13, 2018 10:10 pm

   
Years


The sun shone brightly in the brilliant, blue sky, bathing the rolling plains in pure, white light.  The thin, graying man put his hand in front of his eyes as he looked up, as if he had not seen the sun for a very long time.  He grimaced, but then let a genuine smile cover his face, probably for the first time in years, as the sun warmed him.

He had always made good use of the limited time they had been allowed in the yard, stretching, walking briskly, avoiding fights, to keep himself in as good of shape as possible.  It had saved his life a time or two, and even the Kid’s once.  In there, even the sun had a tinge to it that it did not seem to have here, outside.

He took a deep breath.  Even the air smelled different outside.  He grimaced again.  It had to, away from the sweat and misery of so many men.  He looked back towards the doors out of which he had just walked.  He swore never to pass through them again, unless it would result in the release of the Kid.

Heyes had almost refused to accept his parole, when he had learned that his partner would have to remain, working off extra days that had been added to his sentence, for disciplinary reasons.

Heyes briefly closed his eyes.  Some of those reprimands were for fights when Curry was keeping Heyes alive.  The warden had told Heyes if he wanted to be released at the same time as the Kid, he could remain in the prison, until Curry was eligible for parole too.  All that resulted from that was a glare from his cousin, which said everything Heyes needed to know.   He was still very worried about leaving the Kid alone, without someone to watch is back, but finally decided he might be more use to his cousin on the outside.  

Heyes thoughts turned inwards as he trudged down the dirt road towards Laramie.  When he had asked about a ride into town when he was released, the guards just laughed.  He had given them the glare that even now men noticed and walked out the door.  

With the Kid still inside, he felt so alone and adrift back in the world.  How he wished their old friend, Lom, was still alive.  Heyes shook his head sadly as he walked down the stairs of the prison onto the dirt road.  Lom had been killed by a mangy, dirty outlaw who had shot him in the back.  Heyes huffed.  For all he and the Kid had tried to keep above the general riffraff on the outlaw trail, and tell themselves there was honor among thieves, he was surprised that someone had not taken Trevors out years before.  Lom knew too much about too many outlaws, from his days on the other side.  Heyes smiled slightly.  Maybe it had been because they were worried that they would have to deal with Curry and Heyes.  He sighed again.  Sadly, for Lom, they had not been around when he really needed them.  They had already been in prison for armed robbery.  If not, Heyes knew they probably would have ended up in prison for murder.  Luckily for Heyes now, the law had caught up with the scum that had murdered Lom.  Luckily for that outlaw, they had simply hanged him.  If he had ended up in the Wyoming territorial prison, the boys would have made certain it would not have been for long.

Of course, that would have meant that one or the other of them, maybe both would have received either life imprisonment, or perhaps they would have made a trip to the gallows themselves.

Before all his years in prison, Heyes would not have thought about going after the man who had killed Lom.  He might have devised a scheme that would have resulted in the law catching up with the no-good scum, but he would not have plotted murder.  He sighed.  Even the Kid would not have purposely gone looking to kill him.  Prison changes a man.  Heyes sighed and straightened his shoulders.  Maybe he could again learn to think like they used to.  Maybe not.  It depended on what was all needed to get the Kid out of that awful place.

Heyes looked up and slowed as he came upon a farm wagon heading the same way he was.  It was loaded with hay and chickens.  As he started around it, he smiled at the farmer holding the reins, nodding, and touching the brim of the raggedy hat that they had given him to wear out of the prison.  Where his black and silver hat had gone, he had no idea.

“Morning,” Heyes smiled at the man, intending to walk on by.  He assumed the farmer was well aware from where he had come, given the ill-fitting clothes he now wore, and his gaunt physique.

“You’re more than welcome to ride in the back, mister,” the man said. “Long as you don’t pester the chickens.  Gotta be settled in order to be sold in town.”

Heyes paused, not ready to trust anyone after all these years.  Even before prison, it was only the Kid he had really trusted.

The man cleared his throat.  “Got me a boy up to the prison.  His name’s Thompson.  Sam Thompson.”

Heyes nodded.  “He works in the kitchen.”

The man’s eyes held a light they had not before.  He nodded.  “He was a good boy.”

“He’s being a good man now,” Heyes replied.

A smile might have washed over the man’s face, but then he just nodded towards the back.  “Should be comfy enough with all the hay back there.”

Heyes again touched the brim of his hat and nodded towards the back too.  “Thank you kindly, sir.”

“Just Thompson,” the man replied.  “And you?”

Heyes hesitated for a moment and made a decision.  “Smith.  Joshua Smith.”  He held his hand out to Thompson, before he turned to hop on the back of the wagon.

“What were you in for, Smith?” Thompson asked, as they started again towards town.

Heyes laughed roughly.  “Nothin’ that matters now, Mr. Thompson.”  He shook his head.  “Nothing at all.”

 
Heyes had slumbered as the wagon made its slow way into Laramie.  Thompson has quieted after Heyes continued to give answers that said nothing.  He leaned back into the fresh smelling hay and his eyes closed of their own accord.  It had been ten years since he had felt comfortable enough to let down his guard so completely.  He listened to the birdsong, the insects chirping, and he wagon wheels rumbling.

As they came into Laramie, he started to hear other voices, and his eyes fluttered open.  He was so tired, but could not trust anyone.  

“I’m going to Clarkson’s Feed Store,” Thompson offered.  “That’s by the train depot.  That do to drop you too?”

“That sounds mighty fine,” Heyes agreed.  He started to search his pockets, to offer the farmer something for the ride.  All he had was the twenty dollar gold piece that Wheat and Kyle had sent.  He was shocked that the warden had actually placed it in his hand.  He was surprised it had not made its way to one of the guards’ pockets.

“Don’t worry about it, son,” Thompson smiled at him as he eased down off the back of the wagon.  He did not remember getting so old and stiff in prison.  It must have happened while he was fighting to stay alive.  The farmer nodded towards a saloon across the street.  “May there will give you a free drink, if you ask politely.  She had a boy who didn’t make it out.”

Heyes looked up at Thompson, who had a worried look on his face, obviously thinking of his own son.

“Your boy’s learned how to follow the rules real well, Mr. Thompson.”  
Heyes drug up a brilliant smile.  “I’m certain he’ll get out for good behavior soon.”

“Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Smith.”  Thompson shook his head.  “Wisht he had learned that afore he ended up there.”

“Don’t we all, Mr. Thompson.”  Heyes nodded towards the saloon.  “May, you say?  I definitely could use me a drink.”

“You got any money, son?” Thompson asked, even though he couldn’t be much older than Heyes was now.  In spite of everything that had happened, there was still something of a boy in Heyes.  He was not certain if that was good or not.

He nodded and smiled wryly.  “My friends sent me enough to get me on the train, but not enough for a good drunk.”

Thompson laughed.  “Well, I doubt if May will put out for more than one shot, even with that smile of yours, but at least it will cut the dust.”

“And maybe a bit more.” Heyes still smiled, but something floated in his eyes as he touched his hat again.  “Many thanks, Thompson.”

“Good luck, Smith.”

Heyes nodded, took a breath, and headed toward the saloon.
 
May Jamieson was not quite as old as Heyes, but life had not treated her well either.  She was big, blonde, buxom, and had a sadness in her eyes that even her booming voice could not cover.  She saw Heyes for what he was the moment he walked into her saloon.

“Boys!” she hailed her customers.  “We got us another survivor of the modern penal system.”  Everyone in the bar clapped, bringing an angry blush to Heyes’ face.  When they then calmly went back to their own drinks and poker games, he took another deep breath and dredged up a dimpled smile for May.  He leaned against the bar, as he had not in years, but found old habits coming back.  He pulled out his gold coin, but May waved it away.

“I’ll spot you this first one,” she smiled back.  “Mister?”

“Smith,” Heyes replied smoothly.  He reached out for the shot, and as much as he wanted to down it in one gulp, he sipped.  It burned like he remembered and he chanced to close his eyes for a moment.  

May laughed lowly as his eyes reopened sooner than most men she had seen come out of the prison.  “I didn’t hear that any Smith was released today.”  

He tensed, meeting her gaze, but her eyes twinkled, and he relaxed again, as she said nothing further.  She left him in peace to finish his glass, and went to wait on a rancher and his foreman who had come walking into the saloon.

Heyes took the opportunity to observe the other patrons.  It was still light this time of the afternoon, but there was a poker game going in one corner.  He sighed.  It did not look high stakes, but if he played it right, he might have enough for buy in for the game, and still have enough left over for his ticket to Cheyenne, as well as a couple beers, and maybe something to eat.   If luck were with him tonight, he might come out with enough money for a room for the night.  If not, he would play poker as long as he could, and then catch a nap on the bench on the train depot platform.  He had done it before.  He smiled slightly.  He figured he would probably do it again.

May came back to his end of the bar just as he had tilted the glass to get the last drop to trickle down his throat.  

“Need another, Mr. Smith?” She smiled broadly.

“Not right now,” he smiled back.  “But I’d appreciate it if you could make change for this.”  He held out the twenty dollar gold piece again.

May gave it a good look, scrutinizing it like she wanted to bite into it.  Then she looked back at Heyes, and shook her head, taking it to the till.  She opened the drawer to get Heyes the change he needed.  “Better keep some for supper.  In spite of my friendly spirit towards you boys, I ain’t a charity.”

Heyes nodded. “Gotta keep some for a train ticket, but thought I could maybe sit in on a game or two.”

“Oh,” May became seriously interested.  “You leaving us soon?”

“Unless you have a job for me?” Heyes smiled shortly.

“Oh, honey,” May smiled broadly.  “I could think of a few things I could use you for, but I doubt if you’d want to stay here in Laramie.”

Heyes’ eyes actually twinkled for the first time since he entered the bar.  “You’d make it worthwhile, May, but I got friends with a place in Cheyenne.”

“Well, then, just watch out for Curly Jed.  He likes to cheat.”

A shadow flickered across Heyes’ face, but he plastered his smile back on.  “The others don’t?”

“Oh, sweetie, that was careless of me.”  She paused and touched his arm.  “Some of them know who you are.”

Heyes gaze became sharp.  “How?”

“It was big news, Mr. Smith.”  She looked at him fondly.  “They’ll be polite.  Just wondering if they’d get the chance to play with you.”

“I might be a bit rusty,” Heyes cleared his throat, and looked over to the table.  

“They’ll be right proud, no matter what.”  She smiled again, letting her eyes dance this time.  “Mr. Smith.”

“Howdy, boys.”  He smiled as he had sauntered over to the table.  “Got room for one more?”

 
It was as he had thought, just a small stakes, friendly poker game.  He enjoyed it more than any game he could remember.  He had smiled softly at that thought.  It had been so long.

May had been right.  The boys at the table who knew who he actually was, were just tickled to play with him.  He figured they would capitalize on bragging rights for some time to come.  They slipped now and again, forgetting to call him Smith, but they just all had a laugh and continued to play.

After he had won a couple hands, he succumbed to the luxury of a beer and a sandwich.  He almost enjoyed the ham sandwich more than the beer.  He had not had either in ten years.  As the table was filled by mainly local boys, they did not play until dawn, but later than he thought they might.  The saloon was quiet after they shook his hand and smiled, heading on to their homes, hardly able to wait to share their story.


Heyes calculated in his head once more, whether he had enough for a room.  He did, but if he just went to sit on the bench at the train station, he’d have enough to pay back Wheat and Kyle.  He figured he would end up owing them plenty before it was all said and done.

He had decided he did however have enough for one more beer.  May had been shooing a last few drunks out of the saloon, but came back up to the bar as Heyes approached.  She began pouring two shots, when Heyes started to object.  May waved him off and continued to pour.

“Darlin’, you need another whiskey.”  She smiled seductively at him.  He thought she must have been a beauty when she was young, as she was still a handsome woman, in spite of the hand life had dealt her in the years she had survived.  “For you, I’ll break a rule, or two, and offer you another free.”  She handed him the glass, and their hands touched.  She did not break eye contact.

“May,” he finally had to look down.  “I’m more flattered than I can tell you, but I might be out of practice on that too.”

“Seemed to remember how to play just fine.”  She downed her shot in one go.  “Let me close up.”  She held his eyes until he gave her the answer she wanted.  He sipped his whiskey, while she bustled around, finishing up only what was needed.  As she shot the bolt on the front doors, and turned towards him, he drained his whiskey, and a deep smile covered his face.  She walked slowly back towards him, until he could not stop himself and he reached out towards her, taking her in his arms.


He found that she was right.  He remembered just fine.
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chelseagirl



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PostSubject: Re: May   Fri May 18, 2018 9:05 am

A Brand-New Game

“May we go play outside?”  Thaddeus Curry asked his Auntie Ella.  

His younger brother Joshua (and Jed had had way too much fun naming his offspring after his and his partner’s former aliases, Ella reflected, not for the first time, or even the hundredth) tugged at her sleeve.  “May we?  Please?”

The Currys were raising their children to be polite, that was for certain, she reflected.  And she hadn’t been asked to watch them in a long while, and after all, Jed and Sandy deserved a romantic night at that lovely inn over in Roches Rouges for their anniversary, didn’t they?  The boys had been good as gold the first day, only getting a bit rambunctious in the evening.  But then, Heyes had been there, amusing them and keeping them in order.  When he wasn’t chasing them around the yard, and vice versa, that is.

But this morning, he’d surprised her with the announcement that he had forgotten all about promising Kyle Murtry that he’d go fishing with him this weekend, and after all, it wasn’t nice to poor Kyle to just abandon him like that.

Ella had suggested that he take the boys along, but he’d looked at her with horror.  He’d reminded her that he and Kyle were likely to get to reminiscing about the old days, and it just wasn’t right to expose the boys to that kind of talk.  And then he’d left quickly, before she could remind him that he and their father talked about those same old days with some frequency, right in front of the boys.

So here she was, and admittedly she was not at her best with a pair of vigorous young boys of six and seven years old.  She sighed and put her book down, again.

“Well . . . “ she hesitated, “it’s just that your sister and Bella are sound asleep and . . .”  She trailed off.  How parents had the energy to keep up with multiple children running in multiple directions was one of those things that constantly amazed her.  One was nice.  She liked having one.  “You may go outside, but is that really what you want to do?”

“Yes!” shouted both boys.

After all, how dangerous could it be to let them out on their own?  As long as they promised to stay on the property.

Let me count the ways . . . they could climb the apple trees and break their necks.  They could dash out onto the road and get run over by a passing wagon.  They could fall into the creek behind the house and drown.  They could catch the influenza like Rachel had, all those years ago, and never recovered.  She knew that wasn’t fair to the children, that she couldn’t keep them locked away.
 
Locked away.  Made it sound like she was keeping them in jail or something.  One of them could distract me for the moment, while the other made his escape.  She sighed.  Polite boys, but mischievous ones.  They were really growing up to be just like their father and their uncle Heyes.  Come to think of it, now there was an idea . . . .

So that afternoon, when Kid Curry and his wife returned to the Heyes’s house to fetch their children, they were treated to an unexpected sight.

The children were arrayed on the lawn, and various pieces of furniture had been brought down from the porch and set up almost as if . . . almost as if it were a courtroom.  Their eldest son appeared to be defending their younger.  He was cross-examining his baby sister, Sarah, asking her about his client’s whereabouts on the night of the twenty-third.  He didn’t pronounce whereabouts exactly correctly, but close enough.  

Meanwhile, little Arabella Heyes, clearly meant to be the judge, was seated on her mother’s lap, on the porch steps.  She was presiding over everything, waving a gavel aimlessly about and occasionally whispering to Ella.

An assortment of dolls, stuffed toys, a china dog and several potted plants made up the jury.

And Jed swore to Heyes later that Thaddeus, after simply nodding his greetings to his parents, was heard to say clearly and distinctly, “May it please the court--“

[author's note:  I ended this here because it just seemed to work best.  But I shared this coda with a couple of friends, who liked it, so . . . ]

Thad explained to his parents.  “Auntie Ella said we oughtn’t to play Cowboys and Indians, like the other boys do at school, because it’s disrespeck . . . disrespectful to mama and grampa.”

“So now we play Outlaws and Lawyers,” Joshua concluded.

Heyes, having overheard the conversation, whispered to Ella, “So after you get Bella to bed, what’s say we play some Outlaws and Lawyers ourselves?”

Ella gave him a stern glance.  “You left me.  On my own.  With four children under the age of eight.  Four very active children.”

“Who I spent all yesterday afternoon and evening with. While you sat there reading.  It was your turn, honey.”  And then he gave her that smile that always made her insides go all funny, even after all these years.

“Well,” she said, with a hint of reluctance.  “I suppose you have a point . . . Counsel will take it under advisement.“

He just looked at her, with his warm brown eyes.

"Counsel withdraws the charges."

He winked.  "See you upstairs in a little bit . . . "








*this one is dedicated to Nebraska Wildfire, who totally sparked this idea . . .


Last edited by chelseagirl on Sat May 19, 2018 7:16 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : expanded ending . . .)
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: May   Tue May 29, 2018 10:42 pm

No bunny hopped but this oldie came to mind. Spruced it up a bit to fit the prompt.

The March King

Hannibal Heyes sat at a table in his room at the boardinghouse, pen in hand and open journal in front of him. He put the nib to the page but nothing flowed. Frowning, he put the pen down on the desk.

A familiar knock on the door interrupted him. The dark-haired ex-outlaw rose and grabbed his pistol from the holster dangling from the bedpost. He took up sentinel at the threshold, asking in a low voice, “Yeah?”

A soft, “It’s me,” gained his partner entrance to the room.

Heyes uncocked the sidearm, re-holstered it, and settled back at the desk. “How’d it go?”

Jed “Kid” Curry proceeded to take off his sheepskin coat. “’Kay.”

“How much was it?”

“Two bits apiece, in advance, per night.”

Heyes sighed. “So far, so good. We don’t know the sheriff, and after spending two bits each for us and the horses, that’s a dollar. We’re only gonna be able to stay one night.”

Curry removed his holster. “Somehow it don’t seem too good a deal – the horses cost the same as we do.”

“Well, it IS a good deal, and you know it. Where else we gonna get a bed, bath, and three squares for two bits? The hotel’s too expensive.”

“I know, Heyes. So much for enjoyin’ ourselves a little bit. I mean, this is Denver. If only Clem was home.”

“She’s not, so no sense dwelling on it.”

Kid sat on the bed. “Okay, so we cleaned off the trail dust, we’ll have a good night’s sleep in a soft bed and three decent meals, and the horses’re taken care of. Not bad. But how do we enjoy ourselves with only seventy-three cents left between us? We won’t even be here long enough to be able to get our laundry done.” He got up, strode to the desk, and looked down at Heyes’ journal, beholding a blank page. “So you didn’t come up with a plan, either. Dang, Heyes!”

“Calm down, Kid. We’ll think of something. Even if we go for a walk, there’s plenty to see. Like you said, it IS Denver.”

“Sheesh, just throw it up in my face, won’t ya!”

Heyes chuckled. “Sure. Want me to do it again? That’ll keep ME entertained!”

Blue eyes glared.

“Look on the bright side. We were lucky enough to get here just before lunch, and it was pretty good and there was plenty. Dinner’s bound to be the same and breakfast tomorrow. You can have all you want – seconds and thirds even, and it won’t cost us an extra penny.”

Curry looked out the window. Seeing only a dark alley, he tossed the curtain aside in disgust. “So we won’t go hungry while we’re here.  What’re we gonna do with the rest of our fortune? Let’s not spend it all in one place.”

“Well, we need supplies…”

“I need a box of bullets. Two would be better.”

Heyes eyed both gun belts. Some of the bullet holders were empty. “How many rounds do we have between us?”

Kid took a minute to count to himself, then checked the chamber of each pistol. “Unless you’re holding out on me, we have thirty even – sixteen for you, fourteen for me.”

Heyes thought out loud. “And a small box costs another two bits.”

“Probably more here because it’s the big city.”

Heyes wrote. “Okay, figure thirty-five cents. That’s thirty-eight cents left. We’ll get a box and split it between us.”

“Okay.”

“Unless…”

“What?”

“Unless I play a couple of hands of penny ante poker. I should be able to at least double or triple what we have and entertain myself at the same time.” Heyes grinned. “That’s a right good plan, don’t ya think?”

Blue eyes rolled. “Maybe for you, Heyes. What about coffee, flour, beans…?”

“Yeah, I know – and don’t forget the hardtack, oats, and anything else.” Heyes sighed. “We just can’t afford everything right now, not without a job or poker winnings.”

“Not much chance of a job, either. The liveryman said with the recession there’s too many men and not enough work.”

Heyes’ brow furrowed. “Great. And we thought it might be different here, big town and all. So we’re back to square one.”

“Looks that way.” Curry paced. “What about seein’ if Lom knows of somethin’?”

“Fine idea, if we had the money to send a wire.”

“Dang! Heyes, that bank is lookin’ awfully good right now. If only…”

“I know what you mean. ‘If only’ is right.”

A bell rang.

Kid perked up. “Dinner.”

Heyes stood and reached for the key. “Here’s a plan to start with. Let’s eat our fill, go buy that box of bullets, price out a few more supplies, and see what else we can figure out.”

***

The partners strolled Larimer Street. All of the bullet holders in their gunbelts were now filled.

“Fate’s shining on us, Kid. I’m feeling lucky.”

“Why? We only have two bits left.”

Heyes smiled.  “Look on the bright side. We were able to get a box of bullets, coffee, beans, and flour for less than four bits. That’s a pretty good deal. You said so yourself.”

“Yeah, it is. But only because the bags were so small. That’s barely enough coffee or beans for a few days on the trail!”

“Then you’ll just have to find enough game to keep our bellies full and conserve bullets.”

“Heyes, don’t go tellin’ me how to shoot.”

“I’m not.” Brown eyes twinkled. "Now for my end of it. Let’s find a low stakes game.”

Blue eyes rolled yet again. “You mean a poor man’s game? You ain’t gonna find it in this part of town.”

Men and women in Eastern finery seemed to outnumber those in working garb, while the saloons and gambling halls where they walked looked a tad too grand.

Heyes nodded south. “Let’s try over that way.”

***

The dark-haired partner spied an open chair at a table. “Is there a buy-in?”

The man shuffling cards looked up briefly. “Nope. Penny to open and nickel limit. Call on the second raise.”

Heyes grinned and took a seat. “Sounds good. Deal me in.”

***

Kid Curry watched as his partner quickly won his first five hands to build up a little stake, calling it beginner’s luck, then eased off so as not to arouse suspicion. After a couple of hours, Heyes took a break, signalling Kid to join him at the bar.

“Two beers.”

“Joshua, we can’t afford that.”

“I say we can.” Heyes dropped a dime on the bar. “Besides, I’ll need a break every now and then.” He counted out some coins and handed them to Kid. “Here’s a dollar. Hold it so we can pay another night for us and the livery in advance. These guys are pretty good poker players. It’s gonna take a while to get any kind of stake. There’s gotta be a better way.”

“What about a higher stakes game?”

The dark-haired man took a swig. “I asked. Most low stakes games have a buy-in around these parts, so I’ll have to play here. It’ll keep me occupied most of the time, but I should be able to get us a couple dollars a day, maybe.”

“Not gonna get rich that way.”

Heyes grabbed his mug. “No, but it’ll keep us at the boardinghouse day to day and enough for more supplies. I gotta get back.” He stopped in mid-step. “You know, these guys are good players and kinda friendly, and this place is pretty quiet. I’ll be okay if you want to see what else is around.”

Kid raised an eyebrow. “You sure?”

“Me and my back are sure. Check in every hour or so if you want.”

Blue eyes scanned the saloon. “Okay. I’ll be back in a while.”

“Okay.”

“Joshua.”

Heyes looked behind him. “Huh?”

“Good luck.”

***

The pickings being slim in the area where Heyes was playing, Curry walked back to Larimer Street. Music caught his ear. Approaching the sound, he saw a crowd gathered around a makeshift band stand in the middle of the square, illuminated by gas lamps in the fading daylight. From his vantage point, he could see men in military uniform playing high-spirited, marching music. Several people around him nodded their heads in time to the tunes, and Kid couldn’t help but tap a foot.

The band played two more songs after he arrived. The conductor, whom Curry could barely see, spoke, but the applause drowned him out. Before the blond ex-outlaw left, he perused a flyer someone had handed him.

***

Hannibal Hayes was aghast.  “What are you thinking? You can’t do this. You know that!”

“I’m not gonna ask, ‘mother, may I?’ Heyes, just like you know when to go ahead and win and back off in poker, so do I with shootin’. It’ll be easy. And there’s cash prizes for the three top finishers, so I don’t even have to try to win to get somethin’.”

His face bright red, Heyes threw up an arm. “It’ll just draw attention to you…to us!”

“Keep your voice down, Heyes; we’re inside. Now who might be drawin’ attention to us?” Kid raised an eyebrow.

Heyes shook his head. “If Thaddeus Jones wins…”

“Who’s Thaddeus Jones? I’ll be somebody else.”

***

The next morning after breakfast, Kid Curry stood in the middle of their room at the boardinghouse, twirling his Colt. Practicing his fast draw, he stopped in mid-step at the familiar knock on the door. He approached the threshold and after the usual precautions, let his partner in.

Hannibal Heyes entered the room as Kid once again drew. The dark-haired man sighed.  “I don’t know how I let you talk me into this. We’re gonna live to regret it.”

Curry smiled. “Have some faith in me, will ya? It’s gonna be okay. It’s on the edge of town, I’ll be under a different name, and I’ll try not to win. And even if I did…”

“Kid…”

“Don’t worry, Heyes. You don’t have to come, you know.”

“I don’t? Somebody’s gotta watch your back, even if it takes me away from the easy money.”

“Ha! Sittin’ on your ass all day for a couple dollars is easy money?”

“It’s more or less guaranteed, and we’re flat broke otherwise.”

“Yeah, I know, Heyes. This is my way to save ya some of that sittin’. Let’s get the horses.”

***

The partners rode to the designated area. Scanning the crowd carefully, they saw no one with whom they might have struck up a recent acquaintance or who otherwise seemed interested in them. Satisfied, Curry approached the registration table.

“I’d like to enter the contest.”

A bearded man looked him over. “Name?”

“Thaddeus Hotchkiss.”

“Experience?”

“Huh?”

“What’s your shooting experience?”

Kid tried to hide a knowing smile. “Uh, I usually hit what I aim at.”

“Very good. Weapon?”

“Yup, right here.” The blond man indicated his Colt.

“Young man, where’s your shotgun?”

“Uh, shotgun?”

“Well, this is a trapshooting competition. I’ve never known anyone to compete with anything but a shotgun.”

“Oh, I…” Kid sighed.

“We have them for rent for the competition.”

“You do? Uh, how much?”

“A dollar.”

Curry gulped. “A, a dollar?”

“That’s right.”

“Umm, can you hold my place? I’ll be right back.”

***

The partners stood apart from the crowd.

“Come on, Heyes. It’s just a dollar.”

“That’s highway robbery! Since when is it ‘just a dollar’ when that’ll keep us in relative luxury another day?”

Curry sighed. “Forget it. We can’t afford it.”

“That’s right.”

The blond man turned to walk back to his horse.

“Wait, Kid.  This isn’t such a sure thing anymore, is it?”

Curry regarded his partner. “No. Not with shotguns.”

“But you should do okay.”

“I should…”

“Ya know, I still can’t say I’m thrilled with this, but…” Heyes withdrew a bill from his pocket. “My backside can use a rest.”

***

Several hours later, the five competitors in the lead entered the final round, Thaddeus Hotchkiss amongst them. Quiet beforehand, the spectators cheered after each shot as most of the platter-sized clay pigeons disintegrated to pieces. Even Heyes got into the spirit.

Each man shot from five different stations, the targets flying from the central trap in all directions. At the conclusion of the last round, the judge announced a tie between Mr. Hotchkiss and a man in a military uniform. After a break, there would be a shoot-off for first place.

***

Hannibal Heyes smiled. “That was some pretty good shooting.”

“It’s not over yet.”

Heyes sobered. “Kid, you’re guaranteed the second place prize. Let that be good enough.”

“I can’t. That guy’s a musician!”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Curry eyed his competitor from a distance. “Look at that fancy uniform. He’s a lucky shot.”

“I’ve been watching the whole thing, and it looks to me like he knows what he’s doing. He’s relaxed out there.”

“I’m not?”

Heyes raised an eyebrow. “To tell the truth, Kid, you looked a little…nervous at first. But just a little.”  He regarded his partner.  “But, that don’t matter. I’d appreciate it if you just settled for second place. Miss enough targets to let him win.”

Blue eyes pleaded. “Heyes, do you know what you’re askin’?”

“Yeah. I do.” The dark-haired man nodded. “And you know I do, and it’s not easy. But…”

***

The partners walked back to their horses.

Heyes noted, “Ten dollars. Not bad for a few hours of enjoying yourself.”

Curry was silent.

Heyes draped an arm around the blond man’s shoulders.  “Thanks, Kid.  I appreciate what you did. We still have enough for another night or two, and with this ten, I can buy into a bigger game and make enough so we won’t have to worry about money or finding work for a while.”

Kid sighed. “I could’ve won that, Heyes.”

“You sure? With that musician turning out to be an experienced trap shooter? He didn’t miss.”

“And I missed on purpose.”

Heyes smiled. “Then I guess we’ll never know.”

Curry shook his head in disbelief.  “And to think that guy’s job is playin’ marches.”

Heyes clapped him on the shoulder.  “And your job is stayin' out of trouble.”


Note: John Philip Sousa, the American “March King,” conducted the Marine Band from 1880-92. The band went on its first nationwide tour in 1891, but for purposes of this story, I’ve pulled that date back a decade.

Sousa was an avid trap shooter and headed and helped found various trap shooting and related organizations. He was inducted into the Trap Shooting Hall of Fame in 1985.


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Join date : 2015-11-29
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Location : Norfolk, England

PostSubject: Re: May   Wed May 30, 2018 9:31 am

This is part of the final instalment on my cheesy mystery. It is now posted in it's entirety on Fan Fiction.


May



Sometime later, a group of men crouched in the bushes outside The Bonnet. Heyes had his pocket watch open and by the light of the moon, was watching the seconds tick by. It was agreed they would wait until all the players had arrived and the game underway before they made their move.

The Kid shuffled next to him.

“Have you seen who’s in there?” he asked, in a low voice.

“Yep.”

“We know ‘em. Well two of ‘em anyway.”

“Three. I know the short, businessman too.”

“And we’re still going in?”

Heyes pulled a face. “Have to, K … Alphonse.” He pulled his shoulders back. “We’re here to do a job…. .” He paused and gulped. “So we’ve best get on with it.”

The Kid looked uneasy but Heyes had shut the watch with a snap, licked his lips and was nodding to the sheriff. He in turn nodded to the rest of the assembled men and they drew their guns.

A moment later, the sheriff, a nervous looking Elmo and the three men he had been able to muster burst into The Bonnet’s fancy parlour. Heyes and the Kid followed a little behind. They knew who was there. What they didn't know was how much trouble was going to come their way because of those men being there. They weren’t that anxious to find out.

Heyes took in the situation instantly. Chad Walker sat with his back to the door. The man to his left, Heyes didn’t know. Nor did he know the two men to Chad’s right. The three men opposite, facing him however, Heyes did know. All for very different reasons. None of them good.

Number One was a complication but Heyes' gaze passed over him quickly. He was the least of their worries.

Not so the man next to him. Number Two hissed a venomous snarl the moment the posse had burst in and was rising to his feet. “Heyes!” At the same time, he was going for his gun.

The Kid stepped from behind Heyes. “I wouldn’t if I was you, O’Neill,” the Kid cautioned.

He knew this man all too well. Seamus O’Neill, member of the notorious Red Sash Gang, bitter rivals to the Devil’s Hole Gang. The two Gangs had had several run-ins in the past and there was no love lost between them. And their leader hated the Kid and that made members of the Gang dangerous. All were extremely loyal. What the reason behind that was, the Kid couldn’t remember. He just knew he had to take no chances.

The Kid stood, seemingly at ease. Yet he was alert for any movement from O’Neill. “Don’t do it,” he growled, warningly, watching the indecision on O’Neill’s face. “Nor you!” he snapped a warning at the man next to O’Neill.

Number Three was Phil Bryant, known as Poker Phil and wanted for murder in Texas. Heyes and Curry had run into him earlier in the year, after leaving the McCreedy ranch. They weren’t sure but Poker Phil might just know who they were.

Seeing that the Kid had his attention on O’Neill, Bryant was reaching for the top pocket of his jacket.

“Take it out, Bryant. Slowly. Two fingers,” the Kid ordered. His gaze didn’t move from O’Neill but his words were directed at Bryant.

“Take what out?”

“The derringer, Bryant.” The Kid grinned. “In case ya didn’t know, I can see through coat pockets so I KNOW it’s there.”

Seeing his chance, O’Neill made his move. His reward, seeing the legendary Kid Curry fast draw in action. It was enough for him to concede. He withdrew his gun slowly with the requisite two fingers, laid it on the table before raising his hands in surrender.

Knowing he had no chance, Bryant gave a look of disgust, before picking out the derringer and laying it on the table. The sheriff and his men started to secure the men.

Heyes let out the breath he was holding, bent and hooked his hand under Chad’s arm.

“Doc, you’re coming with us.”

“I am?” Chad frowned. 

“Yes you are. On your feet, please.

With a grunt, Heyes hefted the good doctor to his feet. He hated what he did next but it was necessary for appearances. Chad was wide-eyed as Heyes put the gun to his head. The big seemingly pleasant smile on his face was terrifying and not in the least reassuring. Neither were his words.

“That’s it Doc. You and me have something to discuss.” Heyes spoke slow, deep and his words were full of venom. “In private.” The last sent a chill down Chad’s spine.

Number One had been watching Heyes curiously. Seeing him about to leave prompted him to speak up.

“Carlton? Carlton Balfour! What on earth is this all about?” he asked, obviously shocked. He had played poker with Carlton Balfour on at least three separate occasions and found him to be a formidable player and a likeable young man. Yet he had never seen him dressed as he was now, nor brandishing a gun in that dangerous fashion. He looked entirely different from the man he knew but he could also tell that the man was conducting himself with practised ease. This wasn’t an unfamiliar situation for him. Number One gulped. He obviously didn’t know “Carlton Balfour” as well as he thought.

Heyes glanced at him and flashed a weak smile of acknowledgement. Touching his gun to the brim of his hat, Heyes nodded to the room. “Gentlemen, were leaving now.”

Dragging a whimpering Chad with him, Heyes backed out of the room. The Kid lingered a moment longer until the deputies had secured all parties before following.

“Wha’ … what are ya going to do? HEYES! I’ve got a wife and family!” Chad was desperate. He had no doubt that Heyes had something bad and probably painful in mind for him.

“I know,” Heyes said, reassuringly. At the same time he let Chad go, which might have been a mistake as freed from Heyes firm grip on his arm, he wobbled alarmingly. “Oophs,” Heyes grinned and steadied him with both hands before holstering his gun. “That’s why we’re taking you home, Chad.”

Chad wasn’t convinced. “You are?”

“Yep,” Heyes nodded and pulled his gloves from his belt.

The Kid joined them outside.

“Really?” Chad looked nervously at the Colt in the Kid’s hand. That man twirled it with a flourish before returning it to its holster.

“That’s right Chad. We’re taking you home to your wife and family.”

“I … I don’t understand.” Chad looked from one to the other.

“Good.” Heyes smiled tight-lipped. Then seeing the posse were starting to come out with their prisoners. “Explain it all to you later,” he said, hurriedly, turning Chad away.

“Yes. Time to go,” the Kid agreed, catching Chad’s other arm.

           

ASJASJASJASJ

 

Back at the Walker house, all was quiet, Chad’s wife and children all abed. Heyes, unable to resist the smell of coffee, even lukewarm, poured himself a cup without asking. He turned from the range and looked at the two men sitting around the Walker kitchen table. It was obvious that Chad was still nervous by the way he was wringing his hands. The Kid looked expectant. He wasn’t sure what Heyes had in mind now.

Heyes contemplated them both as he sipped his coffee. He grimaced at its weakness but it was all there was. The plan for Chad was still forming itself in his mind. There remained some unanswered questions and they needed answering before he could formulate a complete masterplan of genius proportions. So HIS thoughts went anyway.

“How many members of The Syndicate were there tonight, Chad?” he asked, slowly.

Chad gulped. They were still talking. They weren’t DOING anything to him. So that was good.

“Er four. The two men to my right and the one on my left. And … .” he frowned at Heyes. “Harold. He knew you as Carlton Balfour.”

“Yep.” Heyes smacked his lip. “I’ve known Harold for some years. Told you Doc. Carlton Balfour is very well known in some circles.” Heyes smiled a smug smile around his cup and gave a short chortle.

The Kid rolled his eyes.

Heyes sobered and straightened up. He was back to business. “How many others are there, Chad?”

Chad looked wary. He was getting mixed messages from Heyes’ demeanour. “Three,” he said, reluctantly.

“And how long before word gets back to them about tonight’s events?”

Chad wobbled his head. “Not that long, Heyes. They have ears and eyes everywhere.”

“Ears? Eyes?” Heyes leaned forward, menacingly. Chad sat back. Yes, scary Heyes was definitely back. Chad gulped as Heyes deliberately set his cup aside and leaned on the table very close to him. “Chad,” he growled, slowly. “You’d better start levelling with me. And fast.” Chad flinched when Heyes pounded the table in front of him with his fist.

“Okay, okay.” Chad held his hands up in surrender. “I’ll tell you everything.”

Heyes retreated. “Good.” He went to pick up his cup again, and then stopped. He’d had enough of that coffee flavoured water. It wasn’t helping him think at all. Instead, he folded his arms and tapped his fingers on his lips.

“What ya thinking, Heyes?” the Kid asked, after several minutes of watching Heyes ponder. There was only so long he could manage to do that without knowing what was going on in his partner’s head.

“Not a lot Kid,” Heyes sighed. “It’s breathing. That’s all I can say right now.”

“Breathing?” Chad queried. He looked at the Kid, in panic. “Who’s breathing? Me? Yeah, I’m still breathing yeah,” he spluttered.

“Fine wine, Chad.”

“Huh?”

Before the Kid could explain, or even think how he might begin to, they heard footsteps in the hall. A woman in nightdress and robe entered the kitchen. Chad and the Kid scrapped to their feet.

“Chad? Are you … .” She looked uneasily at the two men she didn’t know. “Alright? I heard voices … angry … voices.”

Heyes shifted uncomfortably and straightened up. “No Ma’am. Not angry,” he said, with a tight-lipped smile.

“Boys this is my wife, May. May, meet Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones. Two friends of mine from way back.”

“Friends? You never mentioned … .” She broke off when she saw the expression on Chad’s face. Then her mouth formed an O and she nodded. “I see.” Her disapproval was obvious.

“Sorry to wake ya Ma’am. We ran into Chad on the road into town,” the Kid, grinned at her. “My partner and I are moving on in the morning and it’s been a while. This was our only chance to catch up.”

A slight smirk appeared on Heyes’ lips as May’s expression softened. The Curry charm never failed to hit the mark.

“If you’re sure everything is alright, Chad, why don’t I make some coffee while you talk?” May said, not completely convinced.

Chad nodded. “Thanks May but that’s not … .”

“Nonsense. If you wouldn’t mind Mr Smith?” She all but gave Heyes a push away from the range and in the direction of the table.

“Yes Ma’am,” he nodded, politely and looked amused at Chad as he took the seat opposite. Heyes laced his fingers on the table, looked over his shoulder at May, and his grin widened, echoed on the Kid’s face. “Sooo … Chad, you were just about to tell us about … .” Heyes started, wondering how he was going to find out what he needed with May there.

Chad came to his rescue. “May knows boys … .” He winced.

“’Bout ya problem?” the Kid, offered.

Chad nodded. “We’ve been wondering what to do about it for some time,” he confessed. “And it needs something doing. We can’t go on like this.”

Heyes pursed his lips thoughtfully.

“All that cheese corking ya up already?” the Kid, offered, helpfully.

When Chad glared at him, Heyes and the Kid swopped sniggers.

“Aw, come’n boys this is serious!”

“Yes, that was a serious lotta cheese!” the Kid said, wide-eyed, sending Heyes into giggles, which he felt he had to smother when May looked at him.

Heyes calmed his mirth with difficulty and applied himself to the problem once more. Clearing his throat he said, “Doc, think you need a vacation. How about it?”

“I do?”

“Probably for the best,” the Kid smiled. “Just for a little while. Until things calm down round here.” He looked at Heyes, who nodded in confirmation.

“But … I’ve got patients an’ … .”

“We could visit my sister in Durango,” May suggested. “She’d love to have us stay for a while.”

“There ya go, Chad.” The Kid slapped Chad on the back.

Chad looked as though he had eaten something that disagreed with him.

“But … I can’t just leave. Who … ?”

“I’m sure Dr Greerson over in Mazuma will handle any emergencies for a short time. We are just … .” She turned and looked straight at Heyes. “Talking about a short time aren’t we?”

Heyes gulped. “Yes Ma’am. I think everything will be cleared up in a few weeks.”

“And how is that Heyes?” Chad demanded, forgetting to be discrete with the partner’s identity. “Harold knows who you are.”

“He doesn’t know THAT me but Harold just may be your ticket outta this mess. Need to think on it a bit more.” Heyes put his hand to his mouth and adopted a thinking pose.

“Heyes? I thought you said his name was Joshua,” May frowned.

Chad and the Kid stiffened.

“Friends from WHEN Chad?”

“Er … .”

“DEVIL’S HOLE?”

“Er … .”

May drew herself up. “Heyes? Hannibal Heyes?” She waved a hand at the deep in thought Heyes, and then turned to glare at the Kid. “And I suppose you’re … .”

The Kid nodded slowly.

“Oh Chad,” May sighed, disappointment at her husband clear in her tone.

“May I swear … this is the first time I’ve seen ‘em since I left.”

“That’s true Ma’am,” the Kid confirmed. “We had no idea Chad was here. I guess we got talking … catchin’ up like we said an’ Chad told us about The Syndicate.”

“Why?”

Chad squirmed uncomfortably. “Er ‘cos … .” He glanced at the thinking Heyes meaningfully.

“Is he involved? Are both of you behind all this?” May looked fierce.

“No,” Chad denied, quickly.

“No Ma’am, we’re helpin’ out an old friend. My partner here will come up with something,” the Kid, smiled. He gave a lop-sided grin. “He’s good at that. Y’know thinkin’.” He wasn’t sure he was convincing the formidable May.

Heyes was tapping his fingers on the table, oblivious to the conversation, taking place around him. He gave a deep sigh and folded his arms.

“I think I’ve got it.”

May drew herself up and looked at him hard. Heyes frowned wondering why she was looking at him like that. He looked at the others for explanation.

The Kid rolled his eyes. How his partner could lock himself away from everything going on around him amazed him.

“What ya got Heyes?” he sighed.

Heyes stared at him wide-eyed. “H-Heyes?”

“Yeah, Heyes. May knows who you and the Kid are,” Chad admitted, reluctantly.

“And what is it you’ve got MR Heyes?” May demanded.

Heyes gulped. “Er well ma’am, it’s um … .” He pushed out a chair. “Have a seat ma’am and I’ll explain.”

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Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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May
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