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 Sabbatical

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PostSubject: Sabbatical   Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:07 am

Time for a new challenge. Your mission is to give us your best take on the topic;


sun 1  Sabbatical  beachside  


For clarification a sabbatical is defined as taking leave from work in order to achieve something - so technically the boys are on sabbatical. The topic could relate to anyone or anything in your story though - a study break, a holiday, a career break, or even rest to recover health. I'm sure you ingenious lot can come up with some wonderful twists on that prompt.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Sabbatical   Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:54 am

Saddle Talk:  Blessings

Aaachooo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

Aaaachoooo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

The wind whipped up the dust.  The horses snorted.

Aaaaachhhhoooooo!!!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

“Geez, Kid, you’ve been sneezin’ nonstop since breakfast.  Next time put a finger under your nose.  It might save ya the sneeze.”

“I’ll remember that.”

They rode a ways in silence.

Aaaaaaachhhhhhoooooooooo!!!!

“That was a big one.  God bless you.”

Watery blue eyes glanced at Heyes.  Curry was miserable.  “I know.  Thanks.”

“You didn’t try the finger.”

“Forgot.  Next time.”

“Maybe try blowing your nose before another one starts.  Swallowing all that stuff can’t be good for ya.”

Curry fished a bandana out of his pocket and blew.  Folding the discharge inside, he blew again, and a third time.  Finally, he balled the cloth and returned it to his pocket.  

“That’s a lot of snot,” Heyes noted.  “Feeling better?”

“I guess.”

A few minutes passed.

“No more sneezing.”

Blue eyes rolled.  The tone was sarcastic.  “You’re an observant one, Heyes.”

“Nope, that’s your job, Kid.  I do the planning, you do the watching.”

Another gust kicked up the trail dust.  

Achoo!

Heyes waved a hand in front of him to clear the air around him.  Curry did the same.

Achooo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

“Kid, what is it with you today?”

“Nose itches.”

“No kidding.”

“So if you knew, why’d ya ask?”

“No reason.  Just making conversation.  You don’t have to get proddy, Kid.”

“I’m not gettin’ proddy!  Can’t we talk about somethin’ else besides my nose.”

“Okay.  How about the weather?  It’s kinda windy and dusty today.”

“No kiddin’!  Why don’tcha just rub it in.”

“I just did.”

Curry shook his head.  His partner sure could be annoying sometimes.

[Insert not-always-so-companionable silence where conversation might have been.]

“Kid?”

“What?”

“What do you think about heading north for a while?”  

“North where?”

Heyes shrugged.  “Where would you like to go?”

Curry thought a moment.  “Somewhere warmer and less dusty.”

The silver tongue went silent for a few moments while he pondered possibilities.  Finally, he suggested, “San Francisco?  We haven’t seen Soapy in a long time.”

“Not warm enough.”

“Texas?  It’s warmer.”

“Too dusty.”

“Denver?”

“Too crowded.”

“Crowded wasn’t a condition.”

“I just made it one.”

Heyes thought a moment.  “Hmm, there’s no place left.  Guess there’s no pleasing Goldilocks.”

Curry whined, “Don’t call me Goldilocks.”

“Wasn’t.  It’s just the storybook …”

“I know!”  

“Who’s getting proddy now?”

The blond man pleaded, “Heyes …”

“Sorry you’re not feeling so good, Kid.”

“Thanks.  It’s just this sneezin’ …”  Achoo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

“Maybe you’re just under the weather, Kid.  We can look up that fake doc to check you out.”

“That’ll be the day.  And I’m not under the weather!”

“Proddy’s not becoming.  Whatever it is, he can find out.”

Achoo!

“Bless you.”

Curry moaned, “Thanks.”

“Then what are you – sick?  It’s just another way of saying the same thing.”

“No.”

“Then what?”

A pause.  “Sneezy.”

Heyes spoke definitively.  “Yes, you are.”

Achoo!

“God bless you.”

“Thanks.”

“You know, Kid, Grandma Curry would be real proud of me today.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve asked the Good Lord to bless you a lot.”

“It’s a sayin’.”

“Yes, it is.  But I think Grandma Curry would still appreciate the blessings.”

“Maybe.  You were always her favorite.”  Achoo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks, but it’s not doin’ any good.”

“Blow again.”  

Curry did as instructed, once again pulling the balled up bandana from his pocket.  “Eww!”

“What?”

“It’s still wet from the last time.”

“Don’t you have another one?”

“Yeah, but I want that one to stay dry in case the dust gets any worse and I need it for a mask.”

“Mask would do you good now.”

With a frown and side-eye to his partner, the blond ex-outlaw carefully unfolded the discharge-riddled cloth.  Once again he put it to his nose and blew.  The frown lines deepened as he tried to find a dry spot.  Successful, again he blew.  And again.  Sighing, he returned it to his pocket, distastefully wiping his hands on his pants.

Achoo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”

Achoooo!

“Bless you.”

“Thanks.”   A beat.  “Heyes?”

“Yeah?”

“Next time don’t say anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“No blessin’.”

“You sure, Kid?  I don’t think the Good Lord or Grandma Curry would take kindly to that.”

“Blessin’s ain’t helped so far and Grandma Curry’s not here.  Trust me.”

“Okay.  We’ll try it your way.”

“Good.”  After a moment, Curry urged, “Talk about somethin’ else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.  You’re the one with the silver tongue!”

“Now, now, Kid.  You’re getting proddy again.”

“I’m not proddy – just frustrated!”

“Okay, tell you what I’m gonna do.”

“What?”

“Let me think …”

Time passed.  The dimpled one was deep in planning mode.

“Heyes?”

“Hmm?”

Acchoo!!

Silence.

Achoo!

More silence.

Achooooo!

The brown-eyed ex-outlaw whistled a jaunty tune.

“Heyes!?”

The dark-haired man continued to whistle softly to himself.

“Heyes??!!”  Curry turned red in the face.

Heyes smiled.  “Yes?”

“Why aren’t you answerin’ me?”

Heyes shrugged.  He whistled a different tune, louder this time.

“Enough with the whistlin’ already.  Next thing you know you’ll be whistlin’ Dixie.”

Heyes raised a brow, smiled, and started whistling Dixie.

“Heyes!”

The whistled strains of the unofficial anthem of the late Confederacy continued.

“Heyes!”

When he finished, Heyes smiled sweetly, dimples on full display.  “Uh huh?”

Curry still sported a crimson countenance.  “You didn’t have to take me so literal.”

“Of course I did.  It’s what you wanted.”

“Heyes, one of these days I swear I’m gonna …”

“Gonna what, Kid?”

“Flatten ya!”  After a moment, Curry calmed himself.  “Dang, Heyes!”

The ex-outlaw leader chuckled.

“It’s not funny!”

“Sure it is.”

“No, it ain’t.”

“Yup, it is.”

“Why?”

Heyes eyed his partner.  He thought Curry’s expression accusatory, or at least suspicious.  “Because.”

Kid glowered, but he appeared a bit calmer.  He would play this out.  Speaking deliberately, he asked, “Because, why?”

Heyes shrugged his shoulders, the silly smile plastered on his face.  “You know, just because.”

“Heyes!!”

The dark-haired one laughed.  Curry was caught off-guard.

“It’s not funny.”

“Yes, it is.  It’s hilarious!”

“What is?”

“How we cured you.”

“Cured …”  A thought struck Curry.  “What do you mean, ‘cured’?”

“Let’s just ride and you’ll find out soon enough.”

After a few minutes, Kid noted, “I’m not sneezin’.”

“Uh huh.”  Heyes lifted a brow.  “Yup, got ya good and mad and the sneezing stopped.  You can take a break from it and just ride.”

And they did.  Quietly.

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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Sabbatical   Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:19 pm

    
     


“What’s this word, Heyes?”  The Kid pointed to the shiny tablet in Heyes’ hands.

“Sabbatical, Kid.  It means a vacation, a pause in work, mainly for smart folks at universities.”  Heyes continued reading, flipping from page to page, laughing at some of the stories, shaking his head at others.

“These ladies, and any other folks, who write about us, they all teach at universities?”  The Kid looked confused.  “Some of the stories, well, I didn’t think college folks went in for that sort of stuff.”

“No, that’s just the topic they picked for this month,” Heyes said absentmindedly.

“Oh.”  The Kid paused.  “They got to have a prompt?  They can’t just keep writing nice stories about us?  They seem to like us well enough.”  He smiled fondly, remembering some of the stories.

“Just gets the bunnies hopping, Kid.”

“Bunnies?  Like rabbits?”  The Kid looked confused again.  “They need something for supper?”

Heyes sighed as he looked up at his partner.  “All I can tell you, Kid, is that they call ideas bunnies.  Don’t know why.”  He looked back down, obviously interested in what he was reading.

“Which story you reading now, Heyes?”  The Kid looked over his partner’s shoulder.  “Hey!  Those are schematics for safes!  New ones!”  He gave Heyes a harsh look.  "We promised Lom, not to mention the governor.”

“I’m just lookin’, Kid,” Heyes tried to soothe his cousin, as he hit the back button a couple times.  “Just for fun, to keep my mind occupied, during our sabbatical from work.”

“That’s still a funny word, Heyes.”  The Kid shook his head.  “Sounds like the Sabbath.”  He paused and then looked up again.  “That where the word comes from?  Like restin’ on the Sabbath?”

“When did you get so smart, Kid?” Heyes laughed, joking at first, but then stopped.  “Hey, you used the word schematics!”

“You ain’t the only one who likes to read, Heyes.  I just don’t get to so much, since you’re hoggin’ that tablet thing the ladies gave us, so we could keep up with them.”  He tried to look smug, but then laughed freely.  “’Sides, Heyes, you’ve used that word so much when looking at plans of safes, banks, whatever, that I kind of picked it up.”

“You had me worried there for a moment, Kid, that you were going to start doing the thinkin’.”  Heyes laughed at that, and the Kid looked a bit offended.  Then Heyes continued.  “So, what else you been readin’, besides the stories about us?”

If Heyes didn’t know better, he’d have said the Kid was blushing.

“Kid.”

“Yeah?”

“You been reading that one again?”

The Kid cleared his throat.  “Which one?”

“You know the one.”

“There’s lots of stories out there,” the Kid replied quickly.  “They really seem to like us, Heyes.”

“Yeah, sometimes a bit too much.”  Heyes went back to reading about the newest safes.

“You gonna be done anytime soon?” the Kid asked after a few minutes.

“Guess we might need to ask them for another one of these light up tablets?”

“Yeah, Heyes, maybe we do.”
     
     
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PostSubject: Re: Sabbatical   Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:49 pm

Sabbatical
 
Hannibal Heyes groaned, as a stream of cold water slewed down his back.  It must have found its way in, between his hat and his slicker.  Sneaked past the collar of his winter coat, pulled tight against his neck.  Wyoming rain.  There was nothing wetter, and nothing colder.


He raised his right hand and heard the gang, behind him, pulling their mounts to a stand, sending the message back that Heyes had called the halt. 


Heyes listened. 


He strained to hear above the rain and driving wind.  There it was, the slightest jangle of harness, coming from in front, not behind. 


Had to be The Kid. 


Heyes moved his slicker aside and put his hand on the butt of his Schofield. 
Kid had had one of his feelings, instincts, a thing neither of them took lightly.  He’d dropped back to see if they were still being trailed. It still had to be him.
 
“Single rider … coming in ahead!” he barked.


“It’s me” growled Kid from the gloom.


He rode in holding his pistol aloft.  Heyes watched the Colt with interest.  Why had his cousin felt the need to ride, gun in hand? 


“Well?”


Kid threw his chin back the way he’d come, and rode a few yards back.   Heyes pushed his mare to follow Kid. The gang grew restless.


“What is it?”


“Trouble” Kid looked anxiously back up the trail.


“Trouble? What kind of trouble?”


“Back-stabbing… bushwhacking… murdering… kinda trouble.  Tall Pete… his brothers ….and the whole Rooster outfit are sat back there… in the hills above Longdrop Point …waiting on us” spat Kid.  “That hogwash he sold us … falling out with his kin …joining Devils Hole… well… just wanted to get the drop on us …for our next big haul…. They’re waiting to shoot us down like dogs ….and they can’t miss in that narrow pass… even in this weather!”


Heyes saw the dangerous glint in Kid’s eyes.  It must have cost him a lot to leave Tall Pete back there, alive.  Betrayal was something Kid couldn’t countenance. He was poised to plunge back into the darkness, with murder on his mind.


“I guess we should take it as a complement really Kid” he said, calmly.  “They know I’m the only one could open that vault… So… they plan to rob US instead!...  You know… worryingly… that’s quite smart thinking. “


Kid looked confused, not understanding why Heyes wasn’t mad as Hell, like he was.


“Of course, it’s not all that smart” smiled Heyes. “They forgot …one …crucial …thing.”


“What's that?” prompted Curry, feeling calmer.


“This is Wyoming, Kid… and Winter’s coming on” said Heyes, catching a few snowflakes from the freezing rain.


“They’re as wet and cold as we are …. What difference is that gonna make?”


“Think about it Kid… We’re sitting here… with the biggest haul we ever made… heading back to Devils Hole… where we would divide the cash… and probably decide we got enough between us to see out Winter somewhere warmer.  Send the Boys off with …good pay in their pockets till Spring.”


A small smile played on the gunslinger’s lips.  The Colt was holstered.


“So…” he said, glee filling his blue eyes “….we just leave Tall Pete….and the Roosters in the snow… waiting on us…  and we…”


“Take ourselves a sabbatical ….somewhere warm… with all our lovely cash!” beamed Heyes.


“Take a what?”


“A sabbatical… it’s what you call it …when you take a sort of a…planned break…. from your day job… which for us is robbing banks.  We got us enough money here to see us clear through till spring.”


Kid looked over Heyes shoulder to the gang, obviously impatient, moving their horses around to stop them getting too cold, and bogged down. 


“How are they gonna take it, Heyes …knowing we’re running out on a scrap with the Roosters?  They’re not gonna like it …might reflect badly on our leadership.”


“You said yourself, Kid…it would be a slaughter… like shooting fish in a barrel! Be real stupid to…” Heyes looked back at the gang thoughtfully.   “But you’re right…”


Heyes’ eyes narrowed in thought, then a wicked smile crossed his lips.


“Kid … take out your pistol…wave it around like you were before….and try and get that mean, bloodthirsty look back on your face.”


Heyes’ face transformed to grim as he turned it back to face the gang.


“Wheat …. get up here!”


Wheat Carlson, the loudest of the complaining voices the boys could hear, reluctantly came forward.  He hadn’t seen the size of the haul, having stood in the freezing rain, on look out.  The job had been at 2am this morning. They’d been travelling all day.  He believed Heyes, when he said the job had gone well, but it hadn’t made him feel any dryer or warmer.  It didn’t help that, Wheat’s new slicker was wrapped around the haul, keeping it dry.  He’d lost a coin toss with Heyes. He was wearing Kyle’s spare.


“What’s the hold up? We can’t be more than a couple of hours out from the Hole“ he complained, loudly.  “Why we came this Godforsaken route …is beyond me.”


Heyes didn’t appear to notice the slight, he just rode straight on over Wheat's indignation. 


“Well …as it happens, Wheat… an opportunity has arisen… for you to go earn your pay…. Tall Pete… his three murderous brother’s ….and the entire Rooster gang ….are sitting up ahead… at Longdrop Point ….just waiting to take all our hard won money…. Now ….The Kid here …he’s just busting a gut to go show them lowlives …just who it is they’re planning to kil….er….BUSHWHACK!“


Kid growled, and Heyes had to look at the floor for just a second.


“Now…. I want you to go back there and ask for volunteers ….to go with Kid and show them thieving back-stabbers… just who they’re planning to double cross.”


Heyes nodded home his words and Kid glared madly, looking like his bloodlust was all fired up. 


“Go” ordered Heyes looking warily at Kid.


Wheat returned to the pack.


The two Leaders watched and waited.  There were cries of indignation.  Much waving of pistols.  After a couple of minutes of loud declarations of violence, the mood visibly altered.   They heard Lobo say something about the pass at Longdrop Point being extremely narrow, and Wheat reminding everyone that you couldn’t get up into the rocks behind the guns, unseen.  


Kid would have liked to argue that point.  


Then the clincher was, Kyle loudly asking, if he was amongst the dead, would someone send his share of the Haul to his sister, as it was the biggest day’s pay he’d ever had, and he hadn’t even got to hold it yet. 


The Leaders could wait no longer. They testily jogged their horses back to the main group.


“What seems to be the hold up here?” snarked Kid, fiercely. “We can’t let them get away with what they're planning!”


Heyes put up his hand, and placed it carefully on his blood thirsty cousins shoulder.


“Wait a minute Kid” he said, very calmly.  “I think we oughta hear …what the Boys have to say… after all …it’s their lives on the line.” He gave Kid a consolatory look.  “I feel the same as you… We can’t let them… just sit up there …in this…”   he caught a handful of sideways blowing sleet, and smiled.  “…SNOW.  Freezing themselves to death… waiting on us to bring them our money…”


Heyes saw a light go on in Wheat’s brain. The already tall outlaw, grew a few inches taller, and puffed out his chest.


“Seems to me…” he pronounced, “The smart thing to do… would be to leave them coyotes up there…. waiting till Hell freezes over… We divide the spoils right here… and take off …let Winter do our work for us… Get back to the Hole after the snows are over.”


Heyes saw the relieved nods of agreement. He looked mildly surprised and raised his eyebrows at Kid, who looked very sullen at the news.


“Well… I guess… if you’re sure that’s how you want to play it boys….”


This was met with lots of reluctant nodding of heads. Each man wanted the others to be aware that, he could see a smarter way to deal with Tall Pete and his cronies, otherwise nothing would have stopped him from riding at Kid’s side.


Heyes quickly, and as squarely as he could under the prevailing weather conditions, divided the haul.


When the last man had struck out, he turned to Kid with a smug smile.


“What are we waiting for…. We’re loaded… and we got all Winter to spend it!”


Kid, who had miraculously transformed from sullen to ecstatic in about a second, laughed and said


“Sometimes Heyes… when I see you handling the Boys, like that…. I get to thinking… are you handling me!?”


“Never!”


“…But ….we will be paying Tall Pete a visit ….Right?”


“Oh yes….”
---oooOOOooo---
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PostSubject: Re: Sabbatical   Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:26 am

Sabbatical

Harrison Winthrop III, Ph.D., dusted off his tweed jacket, and looked despairingly at the horizon.

He really ought to have made it a practice to start riding more regularly, before his sabbatical began, since he’d planned to spend it out West looking for fossils.  Now he was so uncomfortable that he was leading his horse around the Montana wilderness, and he thought it would be a few days more before he might attempt to ride again.

Well, Marianne had tried to warn him.  She’d been so disappointed not to be able to join him, but the doctor was insistent that she mustn’t take the risk in her condition.  So she’d stayed behind in Massachusetts, knitting up a storm to get ready for the new baby.

There’d been a few significant finds a few years back, in this general area, including a giant sabretooth cat and one of those ground sloths of similarly immense size. Though neither Othniel Marsh nor Edward Cope had spent much time this far north, there had been a lovely Allosaurus and quite an impressive array of Diplodocus bones discovered by one or the other right in this region.  Winthrop figured he’d be low key enough not to attract the attention of either man, and anyway, the Bone Wars had been calming down for years now.

It had been a few days since he’d seen anyone else.  He hadn’t hired a guide: he was fairly sure in his map reading skills, and anyway, the college hadn’t provided him with much in the way of funding for this expedition.  His mare was rather pleasant company, if he didn’t actually have to ride her, but she wasn’t much on conversation.

So it was with some relief that he saw two men riding towards him.  

As they drew closer, he saw that they were oddly assorted, one of them being an Indian, with a long braid flying behind him, and the other a blond in a brown cowboy hat.
  
They reigned in their horses, and the blond asked, “You havin’ any trouble?”

“No, I’m just a little . . . saddlesore.  Taking it easy for a few days.  But thank you for inquiring.”

The blond nodded.  “See by your tools as you might be a prospector?”

Harrison smiled and shook his head.  “I suppose I am prospecting, but not in the sense you mean.  I’m looking for prehistoric relics – bones and fossils.”

The Indian nodded.  “Like that unpleasant man, Marsh.”  He turned to the blond.  “Jed, you remember I told you about him?”  Harrison noticed that his English was perfect.

The other man looked disgusted. “Oh, right.  Insisted on diggin’ up in your ceremonial grounds, without so much as a by-your-leave.”

Now Harrison felt a little nervous.  He tried to hide it, but was fairly sure he failed entirely.  “Well, I . . . “

“So what’s your name?” asked the blond.

Harrison identified himself by name, and by institution, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

“And I’m Jed Curry, and this is my father-in-law, Albert Raintree, of the Blackfoot confederacy.”

Now Harrison saw that the Indian had a fair amount of silver in his braid.  Raintree looked back at him, and the professor could only imagine what he saw – the field clothes that were brand new two weeks ago, except for his beloved tweed jacket (which had all the right pockets), the sunburnt face and the uncomfortable gait as he walked his horse.  The man must have him pegged as the Eastern idiot he truly was.

“Well, I . . .” he stammered.  “I was wondering if your people might know of any sites where such things are found, and might be willing to work with me?”  He could see the blond nodding encouragingly, as if to say, that’s right.  Actually, it had never occurred to Harrison that he’d be working with the natives, but in the moment, it seemed the right thing to say.  The right thing to do, actually.

“Let me talk to my people,” said Raintree.  He turned his horse’s head, and in another moment he was gone.

“Thing is,” said Jed Curry, meditatively, “for a long time, my partner and me, we didn’t know much about Indians, neither.  We ended up in a kind of an awkward situation with some Chiricahuas, because of it.  So we kinda changed our attitude, after that.  Heyes figured—“

But Harrison cut him off.  “Wait.  Heyes and Curry?  Like in the dime novels?  You’re Kid Curry?”

Curry looked just the slightest bit exasperated.  “Well, I go by my real first name now, ‘cause Kid sounds a little too much like who I was, not who I aim to be, if you see what I mean.  Quit outlawin’ awhile back.  Not sure if the dime novels got around to talkin’ about that, though.”

“And your wife’s a Blackfoot?”

“Half.  Raised by her mother’s family, though.  Still learnin’ about them, herself, and teachin’ me and the kids.”

Kid Curry and his Curry kids, thought Harrison, slightly giddily.  Those dime novels had gotten him through some rough times during the pursuit of his doctorate.  He’d often imagined himself as the brave, tough Kid with his lightning reflexes or as clever Heyes, who’d have probably outfoxed his (Harrison’s, that is) entire dissertation committee.  Come to think of it, he thought he’d read something about a pardon or an amnesty or something.  He just couldn’t quite understand why they’d want to give up a life of adventure for something more mundane.

“We live in a town ‘bout a few hours ride away.  So we come up, spend some time with ‘em when we can.  Our two oldest, the boys, are gonna spend a month up here with their grandpa on their own, first time.”

Harrison looked down at his tweed jacket, and removed some imaginary dust from his lapels, not quite able to meet Curry’s eyes.  “And they don’t . . . you know . . . shoot bows and arrows?   Try and scare off folks like me?”

“Well, if you say stupid stuff like that, they might. And if you just start diggin’, without talkin’ to ‘em first, they really might.  Especially if you don’t bother to find out what land is sacred to them.  But you ain’t got a big expedition along with you, not like that Othniel Marsh that Albert was talkin’ about.   I guess you know all about him.”

“Uh-huh.  Men like him make things harder for a junior faculty member like me.  This is my first sabbatical – kind of like a working holiday.  Didn’t get much funding for it, but I thought I’d come poke around on my own, anyway.”

Curry nodded.  “Albert’ll see you right.  As long as you treat him and his with respect, they’ll be fine with you.  Might even find you some help with your excavating, if it catches anyone’s fancy.  If you don’t mind some rambunctious little boys, I’m guessin’ Thad and Joshua’d be real interested in hearin’ about your fossils, too.”

The professor nodded.  “Should start getting used to it.  Our first’s due in the fall – only thing that stopped my wife from coming along was doctor’s orders.”

“Got a wife like that, myself,” Jed Curry smiled.  “Well, then, come along back to camp.”

But Harrison only sighed, and gestured in the direction of his horse.

In response, Curry dismounted, took a look at the other man’s saddle and adjusted it.  “Try it now.”

Gingerly, reluctantly, Harrison mounted.  It was less uncomfortable, anyway, than it had been.

“Don’t they teach you anything, back East?” asked his companion, and then laughed at himself.  “Well, other than all that book learning, of course.  Come to think of it, Heyes’d really enjoy meetin’ you.  He’s plannin’ on riding out this way in a couple of days.”

Blackfoot Indians, Kid Curry and now Hannibal Heyes, too?  Marianne would be so delighted to hear.  Things were really looking up for this, his very first ever sabbatical.
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PostSubject: Re: Sabbatical   Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:25 pm

Sabbatical

The Kid rose early as usual. No matter what the time of year, creature of habit, he stirred from his bed at six o’clock. This morning it was still dark. For once, he thought about staying where he was for a little longer. Reluctantly, he decided against it. Today was the start of a new chapter in his life and he had mixed feelings about it. Sadness that Caroline was no longer with him, trepidation at being his own man after so long, freedom for perhaps the first time in his life to do what he wanted. All these things crashed in on him.


Cowdry had already been in and laid out a selection of his clothes to choose. Not that they needed much choosing. He knew what he wanted. What he felt most comfortable wearing. Jeans and a coloured shirt. It didn’t matter to him that perhaps he was a little too old for them, that even younger men no longer wore them, expect for working. He dressed quickly. He had a lot to do today.


Soon he was descending the stairs, into the dimly lit airy hall. Age had not dimmed his eyes but he still held firmly to the bannister. He was all too aware of what could happen on stairs if not enough attention was paid.


As he expected it would be, breakfast was ready for him and he took a seat at the table.


“Mornin’,” he said, cheerfully, to the figure sitting in a chair by the fire.


“Good morning,” the figure answered.


“You have YOUR breakfast I see,” the Kid said, dryly, nodding at the cup in the other’s hand.
A gentle chuckle answered.


“Sheesh! Still amazes me that’s all ya need in the mornin’.” The Kid shook his head. He prepared to do some damage to the large cooked breakfast waiting for him.


The pair were happy in silence while the Kid ate. Fast approaching seventy not much had changed for him appetite wise. He was still ravenously hungry in the morning, even after a large meal the night before. What HAD changed for him was that now he was eating alone. Partially his doing, he didn’t HAVE to come here but it was HIS choice.


As the Kid ate, he thought back to the difficult conversation with his sons the previous week. It was a while coming and he had been putting it off, until he could delay no longer.


They had found him leaning, arms folded, against one of the marble columns in the entrance hall of Fairfield Place, staring up at the beautifully ornate ceiling. He had been quiet over lunch. Never the most perceptive as far as he was concerned, this time his sons had recognised there was something amiss and followed him out.


“Father?”


He hadn’t realised they were there. His eyes flickered down and he was faintly surprised all three were there and looking concerned. There had been five Curry brothers once, now only these three remained. One dead by his own hand, a longed for release, the other dead to the family, banished, paid off. It was Jonathan, the middle one, who had spoken. The Kid smiled. Obviously pushed forward first as he was the doctor.


“Father, is something wrong?”


“No,” the Kid said, softly. “No nothing wrong.” He licked his lips. As good as time as any, he thought and pushed away from the column. “I’ve just made a decision that’s all.”


“A decision?” Joshua queried.


The Kid smiled faintly. Ever the lawyer. He trusted his eldest son with his legal and business affairs but personal decisions were still for him alone. Of course, Joshua thought different and they’d had some heated arguments in the past. The Kid suspected there might be one now. He didn’t want that to happen.


“Yes,” the Kid confirmed and turned his old gunslinger stare on them. It didn’t have the same impact now as it would have done in the past but he wanted to set out his stall first. The lawyer and the doctor held their ground. Only Charles, the youngest of the three, moved uncomfortably. As he expected, the Kid thought ruefully. “I’ve decided to leave Boston.”


“Leave?”


“To go where?


“Why?”


The Kid nodded, pensively. “Three good questions. I’ll try an’ answer them.” He gave the ceiling another look over. “I’m going to Pine Lake.”


The Curry brothers looked at each other. Perhaps they’d expected that.


“How long will you be gone?” Joshua asked.


“A holiday will do you good, Father,” Jonathan smiled.


“Sabbaticals are always useful,” Charles added, not to be outdone.


The Kid shook his head slowly and bit his bottom lip. “I won’t be coming back to Boston.”


“Father!”


“This is your home!”


“No. This was your mother’s home. I only lived here because she was here. Now she’s no longer … .” He swallowed hard. The grief was still too raw to put into words. “I never understood when Heyes said he had to move out of Amnesty after Mary was killed. I know what he means now ‘bout her being all around him. Your mother’s here, boys and … .” He shook his head. “It’s too much for me to bear. I’m going to Pine Lake. To MY home.”


“Father you can’t … .”


“Yes I can.” The Kid was firm and sent a glare towards Joshua, who put his head down. The

Kid took a moment’s satisfaction in knowing that he could still reduce the eminent lawyer to feeling like a small boy.


“Who will look after you?” Jonathan wanted to know.


“The Cowdrys are coming with me.”


That seemed to be acceptable but … . “You’ve already asked them? Before telling us?” Charles appeared angry.


“It’s been understood for some time.” The Kid had mentioned to the Cowdrys when Caroline first became ill what he would do in the event. It was a while coming, a long and painful decline. The Kid had rarely left Caroline’s side, wanting to keep their marriage alive until the inevitable.


“Not by us!”


The Kid sighed. “Then you don’t know me very well,” he said, regretfully.


“We thought you’d give it a little more time,” Joshua said, diplomatically.


“It’s only a matter of weeks since Mother passed. Surely … ,” Jonathan tried.


“I’ve made up my mind.” The Kid cut him off. “All my affairs are in order. You know that.” He looked at Joshua pointedly. “I’m going to Pine Lake, boys.” He still thought of them as boys, although they were all grown men. His boys. “In three days.”


“When will we see you?”


The Kid shrugged.


“You said you aren’t coming back to Boston to live. Surely you’ll … .” Joshua didn’t have to finish. He could read the expression on the Kid’s face. “Come and visit,” he tailed off anyway.


“You’re not expecting us to go THERE?” Charles was wide-eyed indignation.


A flicker of pain crossed the Kid’s face. He knew how much Charles loathed Pine Lake and the West in general. The Kid wished it could have been different. That just one of his five boys could have really appreciate the Kid’s love of the West. Only Chris, his second son, had come close. None of the remaining brothers had ever enthused about going to Pine Lake, even as children. He had to admit that being a husband and father hadn’t turned out for him how it thought it would. Perhaps if there had been a daughter. He and Caroline would’a liked a daughter. Yet somehow, he didn’t think that would have made much difference. Probably only made it worse.


“THAT’LL be up to you. You’ll know where I’ll be if you need me.” He doubted that they would need him. This was not his world and they were all experts in their own fields, none of them his.


“Father, you can’t be serious,” Joshua tried but the Kid walked passed him.


“Father we’ve already lost one parent. We can’t lose you as well.” Jonathan was more emotional, giving the Kid pause.


The Kid stopped and looked back. “You won’t lose me.” He gave all three a look. “Not unless you want to,” he added, before turning away and heading for his study. He shut the door firmly. End of discussion.


Now the Kid raised his coffee cup to his lips, in silent contemplation of what he’d done. The next three days had been difficult. All three brothers had tried to persuade him to stay in Boston, only two with any feeling. All three wives had made their play as well, only two with genuine affection. Five grandchildren had sat on his knee and told them they would miss him, all meant it in that moment. They were his regret. He would miss his grandchildren more than his own children. As a concession, they had wrung out of him a commitment to come back to Boston for Christmas. Perhaps the sabbatical Charles had meant.


He had family here in the West of course. Most of Heyes’ family with their little’uns. Susan’s Alfie, although he was nearly full grown, Harry’s five year old daughter, Franklyn and Heyes’ young twins of course, Lilac and Loren. How old were they now? Eleven? Twelve? Something like that. He would enjoy spoiling them instead of his own grandchildren. Ah but it wasn’t quite the same though.


“Have I done the right thing?”


Only when he received an answer did he realise he had spoken aloud.


“This is where you’ll be the most happy.”


“Yeah,” he laughed, humourlessly. “Away from my family.”


“You have family here.”


“Not mine. Not Caroline’s.” He looked round the room. “Not anymore. Not since Chris … . He was the only one. He was happy here, I think. Came to terms with his disability here, started to make a living here with Harry.” He grunted. “Heyes and Curry Investigations, who’d a thought it? They were doing well at it too.” He paused. “Did ya know Chris was engaged to be married?” He didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, his voice faded to a whisper. “He was getting his life back together but then it was all taken away from him.” The Kid sighed. “Y’know I can still feel him sometimes. In the study. In the drawing room. Hear the roll of his wheelchair on the floor.” He sighed again.


“Perhaps that’s why you’re happy here?”


The Kid shook his head. “No, I was happy here long before Chris came to live here. I like the West, its part of me.” He gave a deep sigh. “No I shall live out my days here. Alone.” He knew it was unlikely that a young girl would fling herself at him like Tulsee had at Heyes. The Kid didn’t want anyone else. Caroline had been the love of his life.


Heyes had said the same about Mary. Yet, when faced with overwhelming temptation, Heyes had given in. The Kid grunted. He couldn’t blame him; a scrubbed up Tulsee was gorgeous. He knew; he’d been there the night Tulsee had stunned Heyes into finally admitting that he loved her.


“Not alone. I’m here.”


“I know and I’m grateful. Two old men together huh?”


“Something like that,” the other chuckled. Then he sobered. “It isn’t … awkward coming
here?”


The Kid shook his head. “No, I had that end of the terrace remodelled afterwards. Caroline insisted on it and she was right.  Otherwise, it woulda been difficult to come here ever again and she wanted me to be able to come here again. Besides, it wasn’t here where he … .” He couldn’t finish but the other knew. It wasn’t at Pine Lake, where Christopher Curry had ended his life but it was where the second accident that precipitated it had occurred.


Ha! Daniel had said it was an accident. Perhaps it was but it was thoughtless of him all the same. That simple playful nudge, he said, had sent Chris, on crutches and unbalanced, plummeting to the bottom of the stone terrace steps. Legs, already fragile from the previous accident were shattered again and lost this time. Unable to live as a half man, he’d said, Chris had taken his own life. Daniel was full of remorse of course but the Kid couldn’t bear to look at him. In a previous life, he might have killed him. Long ago, a similar fate had befallen a man who had killed a friend of his. At times, the Kid could be judge, jury and executioner. Not this time. With Caroline’s agreement, he had banished their youngest son from the family forever. It was hard but necessary. As far as he knew, Daniel had no contact with any family member. If he had turned up for his mother’s funeral, the Kid hadn’t seen him. Daniel was as dead to him as Chris was.


The door opened interrupting his thoughts. Perhaps that was a good thing. They were too intense for a breakfast table so best interrupted. A head poked round.


“Have you finished, sir?” Cowdry asked.


“Yes Cowdry you can clear away now.” The Kid prepared to get up.


Cowdry smiled and came in.


“No more coffee?” the other said in surprise.


“No not today. Unless you do?”


“Dad?” Cowdry directed his question at the man by the fire. That man stood up and moved into the light.


“Tea sir,” he chuckled. “And no thank you, Philip. I’ve had sufficient.”


He smiled and put his empty cup and saucer on the offered tray.


The Kid grinned and nodded. “Of course.”


The Kid felt the familiar stab of pain he always did when Paul Cowdry smiled like that. So like his old partner in many respects. It was going on seven years since Heyes had died, falling down stairs and breaking his neck. That was the first thing he planned to do this morning. Visit his old partner’s grave and bring him up to date. Then see Tulsee.


Er no, perhaps he would see Susan first. Although impatient with Tulsee, Susan would know how she was these days and warn him what to expect. Things had changed for Tulsee after Heyes passed and not in a good way. Now the Kid would be living here permanently there could be more he could do. Not financially, Heyes had left Tulsee well provided for but perhaps emotionally. Too much drinking, too little support and the twins grating on her every nerve. The Kid owed it to Chris as well to try to help. Yes, Tulsee was Heyes’ widow but she had also been Chris’ fiancée.


Er well, perhaps Susan wasn’t the best place to start. She could be difficult at times. He wasn’t sure he was up to facing her first thing. Maybe he would start with Harry. Ah but he might not be here, often working away. Then he would have to deal with Van, Harry’s wife.


The Kid blinked. No not wife. He didn’t know what Van was to Harry. They lived together as man and wife, they had a child together but they weren’t married. Heyes would have thought their relationship scandalous of course but then again perhaps he might not, considering how he had carried on with Tulsee before their marriage. Porterville had accepted that and if Porterville knew or cared about Harry and Van, then it wasn’t given a thought. Van had respect in her own right, as the town’s doctor. A female, accepted in that role in this traditionally male-dominated country. Van had attended to Chris, went with him to hospital in Cheyenne, was the one to tell him the news he didn’t want to hear. Professional detachment finally letting go, she had telephoned the Kid and his wife so far away in Boston. Van was as much a part of his family as any blood relative.


The Kid shook his head. Why wasn’t life in these modern times simple? Had it been simple when he was in his prime? Not for him certainly. Such a deep question and far too early to contemplate right now. He brought his consciousness back to the present.


“You’ve taught him well, Paul,” the Kid, grinned, nodding at the junior Cowdry clearing the table. This relationship he did understand. Philip Cowdry had followed his father into service at Fairfield Place, spending several years as a footman, then trainee butler, before finally taking over as the Kid’s valet. Now, Philip Cowdry would preside over the entire domestic staff at Pine Lake, a housekeeper-cum-cook and a couple of part-time maids.


“Of course sir,” Paul said, in mock surprise.


“Now Paul, I told you.” The Kid shook a finger at him. “If you’re gonna be my gentleman’s
companion … .” He rolled his eyes and puffed out his cheeks that there was such a thing.

“You’ve gotta stop calling me sir.”


“Yes sir, I will most definitely try,” Paul assured him, with a tight-lipped smile.


The Kid gave him the look of doubt.

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