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PostSubject: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptyFri Mar 01, 2019 5:01 am

Time for a spring challenge and this is your chance to give me your take on the prompt between in 150 and 4,000 words. Your topic is based on the name of the month, but rather than just make it about marching, I thought I'd make it about any method of transport or locomotion. So your prompt is


cowboy 13 Modes of Transport stage


Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before starting on March, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.  
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MoulinP

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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptyFri Mar 22, 2019 7:14 am

First out of the blocks, a continuation from last month.

Modes of Transport

The train had slowly significantly and they could hear and feel the engine struggle on its laborious climb. The time had come to jump off. Kat had decided that rather than ride the train into Hardy City and risk discovery, she would jump off with her fellow passengers. Her aunt owned a ranch a little way from the point the two men were proposing to jump.


The Kid went first. Kat watched him closely. Even though she knew what would happen she still gave a small scream when he stepped out into space, quickly silenced by a hand to her mouth. With Heyes’ hand on her arm, she leant out a little to see the Kid come to rest. She was relieved to see him struggle into a sitting position and wave to indicate he was unharmed.


“Okay?” Heyes queried.


Kat looked round at him. The wind from the open door tore at her hair, throwing locks over her face. She brushed them away.


“Yes I can do this,” she said, determinedly.


“Good girl. Now come and stand behind this yellow line.” He pulled her back a foot. She looked down in confusion.


“There isn’t a yellow line.”


“Just pretend there is and stand behind it. Now pick your spot. Look for somewhere clear.”

He pointed in the direction they were headed. The train had started to negotiate a wide uphill curve so they could see easily the terrain in front. To the side of the tracks,  the ground sloped away. Dotted here and there were shrubs and trees. “Got one?”


She nodded. “Yes.”


“Good now remember, tuck and roll and don’t bite your tongue.”


She nodded and then he pushed. “Go!”


Kat found herself screaming in mid-air. Her arms and legs whirling in panic, the ground hurtling towards her. Then she remembered the mantra. Tuck and roll. Tuck and roll, she recited. From the corner of her eye, she saw a pair of saddlebags fly followed by a blue/grey blur. Then her attention focused on hitting the ground. She landed to tuck and roll, tuck and roll blaring in her head.


The Kid winced as he ran up. Kat had hit the ground hard, rolling several times head over heels rather than to the side, as she should. She finally come to rest backside pointing down the slope, her legs up over her head, next week’s washing on full display. Her legs flopped down and she lay panting staring up at the sky.


“Okay ma’am?”


“Yes,” she gasped.


If the Kid expected her to be a crying wreak, he was disappointed. Accepting his hand to sit up, she looked at him wide eyed.


“That was so exciting! To think I’ll probably never do that again,” she laughed.


“Er yeah,” the Kid said, doubtfully. “Come on. Let’s go see how Joshua is.” He pulled her to her feet. She took a moment to brush herself down before taking his hand. They walked along hand in hand towards Heyes, the Kid snatching up that man’s saddlebags on the way.


Heyes had made a fundamental mistake. He had hesitated before jumping. Although he had picked his spot, it had moved by the time he arrived. He’d tucked and rolled as prescribed but the slope was much steeper where he’d landed. It had turned his roll into an out of control slither of arms and legs. He’d only come to rest when a delicate part of his anatomy and hip slammed against an unaccounted for tree.


When the Kid and Kat caught up, Heyes was groaning loudly.


“Joshua, are you okay?” the Kid asked in concern.


“Yeah, think so,” came the gasped reply, followed by another anguished groan.


The Kid leaned over and pulled Heyes gently onto his back. Heyes looked up at him wide-eyed from under his crumpled hat. “Thaddeus you promised me we’d never do that again,” he squeaked, accusingly.


“Nope. I promised we’d never jump ON a train again.” The Kid grinned.


“Yeah well I kinda figured jumping OFF was a given!” Heyes gave a groaned laugh.


“C’mon up y’get.” The Kid grabbed for Heyes’ hand and hauled him to his feet, where he remained doubled up, a comforting hand protecting his hurting parts. “You’re all right,” the Kid informed him brushing dust not too gently from Heyes’ shoulders.


With a loud grunt, Heyes attempted to straighten. He managed it by leaning against the out of position tree. “Ye-ah I might be but I doubt if my progeny will be,” he gasped. In later years, the Kid would take great delight in reminding Heyes of this incident when he had cause to complain about his daughter and elder son.


“Sheez! That hurt.” Heyes bent over double once more, remained there for a moment before straightening up again, with support from what he could swear was now a guilty looking tree.


“C’mon let’s go,” the Kid urged, moving off in the direction of Hardy City.


“Are you alright, Mr Smith?” Kat asked, in concern.


Heyes hitting his hat against the tree served two purposes. The first was punishment for being there, which was immensely satisfying, and secondly, it helped with expunging some of the dust from his hat. He sighed regretfully as he looked at it, attempting to mould it back into some recognisable shape. Giving up, he finger combed his hair back before slapping the sartorial disaster on his head and motioned for Kat to follow the Kid.


“I’ll do,” he nodded and started to walk with a noticeable limp.


It was a while before he could make more than a word in conversation. The longer they walked, the easier his stride became.


“So how did you find your first authentic experience of jumping from a moving train?”


Kat grinned at him. “It was so exhilarating. I’ve never done anything so thrilling before.”


Heyes grunted. “It’s dangerous Kat. You don’t wanna make a habit of it.”


“No I won’t. But I’ve done it and I can write with authority now. Which is what I wanted.”


“Glad we could help with investigative journalism.” Then a though struck him. “You won’t mention our names will you?” His voice had taken on a sudden hard note. The last thing he wanted was Heyes and Curry mentioned in close proximity to Smith and Jones.


Kat smiled. “No I’ll just refer to you as gentleman hobos.”


Heyes grinned. “Good. I don’t think his betrothed would understand.” He nodded at the Kid.


“Your secret is safe with me,” she assured him, linking her arm through his.


ASJASJASJASJ


The time soon came for them to part. With a short farewell, Kat was walking down the slope to the yard of her aunt’s ranch.


“She was a really likeable young lady,” the Kid said, wistfully as they watched Kat walking
away.


“Yes in a lethal sorta way,” Heyes said, slapping the Kid on the shoulder to get him moving again.


The Kid frowned the question at Heyes.


“She knows marital arts, y’know,” Heyes informed him, straight faced.


The Kid rolled his eyes and started moving.


“You don’t think we shoulda gone with her?”


Heyes looked back. “No I somehow think Slugger Mallory can take care of herself.”


“I dunno Heyes. Don’t seem too gentlemanly to me.” The Kid stopped and looked back. “We coulda gone with her and they might have sold us a couple of horses,” he mused. “Rented us a couple mebbe.”


Heyes shook his head. “Don’t think I could sit a horse right now Kid,” he winced at the thought.


“Still hurt huh?”


“A little tender,” came the reluctant answer, as he trudged on.


“Mebbe they coulda given us a lift inta town on a buggy?”


Heyes stopped and turned back. “Kid no. You heard what Lom said. We’re supposed to be incognito. Now come on. It’s not that far into Hardy City. If we get a shift on, we’ll be there in time for supper. I’ll buy you a roast dinner with all the trimmings. How’s that?”


The Kid nodded and the thought of food spurred him on. He trudged passed Heyes, who had waited to make sure he was moving. Heyes fell into step beside him.


“I suppose ya still got the package,” the Kid said, after a while.


“Oh not this again! You’re gonna drive me crazy d’you know that!”


“Well have ya? Simple enough question.”


Heyes gave a disgusted look, stopped and unbuttoned his coat. His hand went to the top inside pocket, where he’d placed the pouch before. He froze and his face took on a horrified expression.”


“What? No!” the Kid wailed.


Heyes frantically began patting and searching all his pockets.


“Ya can’ta lost ‘em Heyes. Ya always telling me that coat has poacher’s pockets. Whatever that means.”


“It does. I’m telling you Kid, I’ve got ‘em. I jus’ can’t put my hand … .” Heyes looked back and started in the direction they’d come from. “I had ‘em on the train. You know I did.”


The Kid groaned, resigned to help Heyes look. He kept his eyes fixed on the ground as he retraced his steps, grumbling about pearls, and walkin’ and poacher’s pockets as he went. He came to a stop when he realised Heyes had pulled up.


Heyes stood, grinning widely and holding up the velvet pouch.


“So you had ‘em all the time? You were jus’ funning me?”


“No Kid … well what I mean is … yes I did have ‘em but …,” Heyes spluttered.


The Kid threw up his hands and marched quickly away.


“They slipped down inside the lining. Musta happened when I landed,” Heyes said in justification, starting to run after him but winced and slowed. “I didn’t do it on purpose!” He sounded desperate.


The Kid turned, his face menacing. “Heyes I swear one of these days, I’m gonna flatten ya!”


Heyes frowned. “You’re gonna WHAT?”


“Flatten ya!”


“Now what sorta talks that? There’s no call … .” Heyes raised his hands in surrender and took a step back. “Alright, alright, I WAS having a joke with you,” he admitted.


Heyes looked so contrite the Kid was doubtful. Giving him the look, the Kid started again in the direction of Hardy City. “Let’s get this over with. These boots aren’t made for walking. Yet here I am, walking in ‘em,” he groused. “Again.”


“Oh hush up. Anyone would think you were the only one,” Heyes grumbled, as he followed slowly. “You’re not nearly as bad off as I am. An old man, grippe ridden, manhood damaged, hand burnt. Y’know … .”


“Will you stop bellyaching and come on!”


“Kid, it’s not my belly that aches … oops!”


The Kid had turned and was now in Heyes’ face. “Button it will ya. I’m in no mood.”


Heyes nodded and followed quietly behind.


“An’ by the way if ya tell that story of me marrying the mayor’s daughter one more time … .”


“What?” Heyes stood hands on hips and looking astonished. “Don’t you like the mayor’s daughter?”


“Heyes I don’t KNOW the mayor’s daughter!”


“Kid I just want the best for you y’know that.” Heyes eyes focussed on the fist in front of his nose. “Okay buttoned.” A movement behind the Kid diverted his attention. He smiled slowly. Then they both heard it, the rhythmic clip clop of a horse and the whoosh of a buckboard.


“Kid, d’you ever think about changing our mode of transport?”


“Funny that thought should occur to you as well. C’mon unless you don’t think you can manage a ride in a buggy?”


“Oh, I’ll manage, Kid. We’d better be Rembacker and Hotchkiss if he asks!” When the Kid looked the question. “Incognito remember?”



A moment later, they were running onto the road in front of the small buckboard, driven by a middle-aged man. He pulled up sharply to avoid running them over.


Heyes grinned and raised his hand.


“Howdy!”


“Howdy, what can I do for you … gentleman?” the man asked suspiciously, his hand straying to the rifle on the floor of the buckboard.


“Ah, we’re stranded out here in the middle of no-where. Could we trouble you for a ride into Hardy City? That is where you’re going isn’t it?”


“Yeah, that’s where I’m going. How d’ya come to be stranded out here?”


“Horse thieves,” Heyes said with aplomb.


“Horse thieves! I ain’t heard of no horse thieves round here.”


Heyes gave a deep sigh. “Well you have now.”


“There’s a ranch ‘bout half mile back. You might get some horses there,” the man suggested.
Heyes and Curry swopped glances.


“Yes sir but that’s half a mile an’ these boots aren’t made for walkin’. No guarantee they’d sell us some an’ then we’d havta walk back here again … ,” the Kid began.


“And as you’re going to Hardy City, which is where we’re going … ,” Heyes added.


The man stroked his chin. He was still doubtful but the two men looked innocent enough, despite the tied down guns.


“Waal, okay. Hop on the back. Jus’ leave the hardware with me.”


ASJASJASJASJ


Kid Curry pushed into the saloon and a familiar voice greeted him.


“Well its about time you got here!”


Looking round, Lom was coming towards him.


“Lom!” the Kid grinned. “What are you doing here?”


The two men shook hands briefly.


“Looking for you. How’d it go? And where’s Smith?”


“Joshua is over at the hotel, taking a nap.” Having arrived in time for supper, Heyes had
bought two roast dinners as promised. While the Kid had wolfed his down, Heyes had picked at his. Afterwards, the Kid had suggested the saloon, Heyes had declined saying something he’d eaten wasn’t agreeing with him and he’d head on back to their room. The Kid wasn’t ready for bed so had come to the saloon alone. “Buy you a beer and I’ll tell ya all about our trip.”


Lom grunted. “I’ve got one. Quiet table over there. You can tell me all, it should be interesting.”


The Kid bought his beer and joined Lom at the table indicated.


“I heard you had some trouble leaving Medicine Bow. That’s why I’m here. Figured you’d put in an appearance right about here.”


The Kid nodded. “Yeah, we were spotted. Had to jump a train.”


“Still got the package?”


“Heyes has it back at the hotel.”


Lom nodded. “Good.”


“So who’s upholding the law in Porterville, while you’re here?”


Lom scowled. “Harker,” he growled.


“He did a good job that time we were there,” the Kid said, lifting his mug to his lips to hide his smile.


“Good job? Huh! The bank was robbed! No. The bank was blown to smithereens! Could hear the explosion five miles away. All the windows, in all the buildings busted round the square. Money floating down all over like confetti. And I’m still not sure that you and Heyes didn’t have anything to do with it!”


“Lom, it was those transients you know that.” The Kid put on his best hurt face.


Lom grunted doubtfully. “Did you know ‘em?”


Under the table, the Kid crossed his fingers. “They didn’t give their names. On account of them being transients.”


Lom grunted again. “Well its all cleared up now. Kept finding bills in rose bushes for weeks but we got most of the money back eventually. Bank’s rebuilt strong as the Denver Mint.”


“Miss Porter back?” the Kid asked quickly. Too quickly and he had to cover up. “It was a
terrible experience for her.”


“No, after the explosion, she went to San Francisco where her parents were vacationing. She stayed when her father decided to retire. There’s a new manager in the bank now. Not to mention a brand new, fool proof safe.” Lom tapped the Kid’s arm. “Be sure to let Heyes know that.”


The Kid grinned. “Lom we’re honest law abiding citizens these days. Our only concern is that folk’s money is held in a safe and secure place.”


Lom still looked doubtful but decided to let it go. He drained his glass.


“Well now I know you’re here, I can go to my bed. You staying at the hotel?”


The Kid nodded. “Room number nineteen.”


Lom scrapped his chair back. “Okay I’ll come and get the package from you at seven tomorrow.”


“Before breakfast?” The Kid looked up in astonishment.


“Yeah, before breakfast. My train back to Porterville leaves at seven thirty. Can’t leave Harker on his own for another day. Who knows WHAT might happen!” With a growl and a nod, he walked away.


ASJASJASJASJ


Heyes and the Kid watched as Lom tipped out the pouch, counted the pearls and nodded.


“Well done. All looks in order.”


“Was this a test Lom?” Heyes asked, as Lom slid the pearls back into their pouch.


“Huh?”


“A test. To see if we’re law abiding and trustworthy enough to give an amnesty to.” He grinned.


Lom tightened the string around the top of the pouch slowly. He looked at Heyes. What he saw concerned him. When had Heyes started spotting such bushy and long side-whiskers and allowing his hair to grow that long? He was usually quite fastidious about his toilet. When had that man started to look so weary and strained? And why was he leaning so heavily against the foot rail of the bed? The closer Lom looked he could see desperation in his eyes. That was something Lom had never seen in Heyes before. He was always the pragmatist. Ever the optimist. Glancing at the Kid, he saw him through fresh eyes as well. He’d put on weight and there was a hounded look about his mien. Neither looked like the two fresh faced young men who had come to see him in hope and trepidation nearly two years before. Lom suddenly realised quite how hard the quest for amnesty had become on these boys. Now he could see it quite clearly. The thought that he was partially responsible didn’t sit too comfortable with him. He resolved to do more.


“I’ll see what I can do Heyes,” he said, softly, touching his arm reassuringly. “Don’t give up. Not now.”


Heyes licked his lips and nodded, resigned to that answer. The fact that he didn’t protest or say something snarky spoke volumes.


“Here.” Lom held out some folded dollar bills. Heyes was reluctant to take them. They’d already had payment for the delivery. He knew this was from Lom himself. Lom insisted until

Heyes sighed and tucked them away in the breast pocket of his shirt. He gave a nod of thanks.


Lom turned away and nodded for the Kid to join him outside.


“Me?” The Kid thumbed at his chest in surprise. The Kid glanced at Heyes, who frowned at this development and followed Lom outside.


When the door had closed, the Kid turned to Lom.


“What’s up?”


Lom hesitated. “You’d best get him to see a doctor. I think jumping from the train yesterday hurt him more than he’s letting on. Is that how you got that split lip?”


The Kid looked at the door in alarm. Guilt that he hadn’t noticed that Heyes was in real pain. Embarrassment that someone else had spotted it and he hadn’t.


“Er no that was something else,” he frowned, still pondering on how he could have missed Heyes' condition.


“I know this hasn’t been easy on either of you. I’m sorry its taking so long. I genuinely believe you two deserve a second chance and I’ll be telling the Governor that. In the strongest possible way. Look after yourself. And him.” He nodded to the room. “I’ll be in touch real soon. I promise.”


Lom gave the Kid’s shoulder a shake and walked away.


“Hope the Governor’s daughter likes her pearls,” the Kid called.


Lom paused and looked back, grappling with himself.


“The Governor doesn’t have a daughter,” he mumbled, with a guilty look, before walking quickly away.

_________________
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptyThu Mar 28, 2019 1:06 am

Hannibal Heyes was annoyed. And when he was annoyed, he was willing to give everyone their share. His mood was displayed on his face, obvious to everyone.

“You’re late,” Sam Curry stated, when Hieronymus Heyes and son arrived at the front yard of the Currys’ farm. Samson was already a young man, and supposed to drive his siblings and his cousin to school today.

“We were not late if that young man hadn’t been occupied with more important things than getting ready for school,” Heyes senior said.

“It was important! Ma will need the wagon when she’s going to town,” his son objected.

“And the wheels needed greasing in the morning when you’re already late!?”

“There was a lot of time and you wouldn’t have to wait if I had my own horse,” Hannibal countered as he slipped off his father’s horse and ran to the waiting wagon. Jed and Rebecca where already seated, Han’s younger cousin on the platform in the back, his older sister at the front bench beside the oldest Curry son.

“You were supposed to do it yesterday,” his father retorted.

“Yesterday, I was busy.”

“Do I want to know with what?”

“Probably not.”

“What did you say?” The dark-haired man knit his brows in a frown.

“I said, I’d love to tell you now, but we’re already late and have to get off for school. Bye, Pa!” Han said, displaying an innocent smile on his face, as he climbed the wagon and settled down beside the curly-haired youngster. He friendly bobbed his friend’s shoulder and received a bright smile from him.

The first lesson today was history and both of them were grateful for every minute that passed by without their presence, even though for different reasons. Young Jed wasn’t interested in people that lived in places he never heard of and were long gone anyway and Han thought that they never learned about the really interesting details of their lives. His question often started with ‘how’ or ‘why’ and earned him rarely a satisfying answer, but trouble.

“Can we eventually get started?” Rebecca asked aloof. “All of us will get a censure for we are late - again.”

“We can tell Miss Ledger the wagon was broke,” Han suggested. “Nobody can be punished for bad roads.”

Sam bite away a grin, Rebecca pouted and rolled her eyes and Heyes senior just shook his head as he turned his horse.

“You won’t be lying, son,” he said over his shoulder. “At least you should take responsibility for the choices you make.”

His son mimicked him behind his back, which made Jed chuckle.

“I’ll take care, that they get there just in time, Uncle Ron,” Sam said and lashed the horse. “Old Buck will have to hurry a mite, that’s all. See you later!”

“Thanks, Sam. I’m glad one here has enough common sense to level out his sense of mischief,” Hieronymus Heyes said and raised his hand, greeting. “I just wished he would model himself on you.”

The young Heyes smirked and exchanged a knowing glance with his friend. They both knew a lot more about Sam than their parents, and it was doubtful that they would agree with all of his actions, if they knew about them.

“Why doesn’t your father give you your own horse?” Jed asked his favorite cousin. “You’ve got plenty of them!”

“He says, I’m too young for the ride alone over here, our horses were too hot-tempered. And I won’t ride a pony! It’s degrading! A pony! That’s something for kids!”

“I’d be happy having my own pony,” Jed said and sighed. “If there was any chance for getting one.”

Han laid his hand compassionately on his shoulder. “That’s all right for you, Jed. You’re still a kid, but I have to think of my reputation. The mode of transportation makes a man. You can’t take someone serious, who accepts less than they deserve. Father’s breeding fine horses, having to go to school on a pony would be disgusting!”

Han leaned back against the side boards of the wagon and faced his friend. “Just saying, how far is it anyway? Just a few miles and if I ford the creek it’s even less. I’d be here in a blink!”

He paused and the expression on his face was already changing. His bad mood usually didn’t last long and now his mind shifted from annoyance to problem solving mode. “You know, what, Jed? I’ll find me a horse of my own. And when I’ve got it, I’ll come to pick you up and we’ll ride to school together! How’s that sound, huh?”

“That’d be fine, Han!”

“Yeah, and we would be much faster and had much more time for ... uhm ... doing our chores,” he said, throwing a glance towards the diver’s bench. “And a wider range and flexibility for ... uhm ... errands.”

“Flixi...what?”

“Fle-xi-bi-li-ty. We would be more independent and have more opportunities ... for everything,” Han explained and locked eyes with his friend, trying to will the meaning of his words on him, which wouldn’t be overheard by Jed’s older siblings.

A wide smile split the blond’s face, telling that he had received the message. Both of them leaned back with a dreamy look on their faces, imagining the possibilities for mischief and fun the new companion would mean for them, and sharing their thoughts via looks, facial expressions and subtle gestures.

There was no need of words for their exchange. They knew each other for as long as they could remember and the connection between them grew stronger day by day. Jed adored his older cousin and Han loved the support and devotion Jed meant for him. They could fight like dogs and cats when they were at odds, but it never lasted for long and rarely was one of them seen without the other. More mobility would enhance the opportunities for joint adventures enormously, and it was no question with whom Han would share.

Unimpressed by the matter that neither of them had any idea how to get a horse, the thought itself made the day much brighter for them, despite the fact, that they arrived at the school promptly as the bell called the pupils inside and they had to endure their history lesson in full length.

-o-o-o-

Neither Sam nor anyone else of the family was there when school ended. Rebecca had already left for choir practice, so the boys were on their own. They waited for a while before they started strolling through town, checking out the place for opportunities to pass their time.

They saw Billy Kendrick, the butcher, standing in front of his store, talking to one of their neighbors. Matthew O’Connell’s hand laid on the back of horse which was tied to the rear of his wagon. Gently his fingers run over the dark fur of the animal while he was talking.

“Howdy,” the boys greeted. “Hi, Mr. O’Connell.”

“Howdy, boys. What are you doing here all on your own?”

“Waiting for our folks to pick us up,” Han told the man he knew well from many visits while his eyes were trained on the horse. The animal’s fur looked a mite dull but it was well-built. It was standing still, but something in its stance seemed wrong. Every now an than it lifted one of its legs and shifted its weight.

“You like my old Raven, do you?” Mr. O’Connell asked.

“He’s a fine horse,” Han replied. “Why is he tied to the back?”

“I brought him here to sell him, but ...” he threw a look at the butcher.

“$2 is all I can offer,” Mr. Kendrick said. “Or you can just shoot ‘im yourself, which costs you a bullet.”

“Shoot him? That fine horse!?” Han was shocked with the news, his eyes wide in disbelief.

Matthew O’Connell sighed and shook hands with the butcher. Then he turned around and faced the boys. “See, Hannibal, he’s old now and can’t do his work anymore. And he’s in pain as you can see in his eyes.”

“But he looks good. Has he been hurt?”

“No, I guess he’s suffering with founder.”

“Founder? What’s that?” Jed asked, throwing a questioning glance at his cousin, who answered with a shrug.

“His hooves are hurting,” Mr. O’Connell explained. “Only carrying his own weight causes him pain. He’s always been a good horse, he has been Franky’s first mount, he shouldn’t have to stand that any longer.”

“But you can’t kill him for being old and sick,” Han objected.

“Sometimes death comes as a grace. You’ll learn that when you get older, son.”

“And he will fulfill a last duty,” Billy the butcher chimed in. “He will become fine dog food.”

They boys exchange a knowing glance. They knew much more about the butcher’s minced meat and sausages than others.

Meanwhile a buckboard pulled up behind them.

“Howdy, gentlemen,” the old man driving it greeted. “Boys, I’ve looked out for you for quite a while.”

Turning around in unison, the boys called, “Grandpa!”

“You came just in time, grandpa,” Han added. “They want to shoot that fine horse here!”

“Well, if it’s their horse, that’s their right. What do you want me to do about it?”

“They say it’s sick, but maybe it heals up. I could really use a fine horse like that!”

The old man sighed. “I saw that one coming. What do you want with a sick horse?”

“I bet we can heal him! He doesn’t look that bad.”

“Oh, boy, you can’t always judge by the looks. What’s he suffering from?”

“Founder, Mr. O’Connell says.”

Grandpa Curry pouted and climbed down the wagon. “Founder, huh? May I look ‘im up?”

Matthew O’Connell looked at the butcher, who shrugged.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Billy Kendrick said. “Just go on.”

Deliberately, the old man checked on the horse, lifted its hooves and looked in its ears, eyes and mouth. It stood still no matter how much he poked and teased it.

Eventually he straightened again, supporting his back with his left hand. “I’m getting old,” he admitted, earning a compassionate nod from the other men.

“You’re old and suffering and nobody’s gonna shoot you for that!” Han objected.

The jaws of the bystanders dropped, but the old man knew his grandson very well and knew how to take it. He laughed heartily and laid his arm around the young boy’s shoulders. “You’re right, Han, but I’m a man, not a horse. That makes a big difference.”

“Ain’t there no help for ‘im?” little Jed asked now, his blue eyes big and round and not ready to accept a wrong answer.

The old man studied his grandsons for a long while. Then he bent down and pulled them a little closer. “Well, there may be a way to get him well again. This old man here knows quite a few tricks, but there’s no guarantee. And it takes time and a lot of good care,” he murmured.

“Then you’ll help us?” Han asked him eagerly when the old man drew back.

The force of the twofold hopeful glance warmed his heart. The boys were such a beautiful pair one of them dark, one of them fair, but two of a kind, still filled with hope and trust and the belief in good. Good boys after all, besides all the pranks they played and the trouble they caused, something to be proud of. Nevertheless, he had to disappoint them today.

“I have to stay out of this, you know that, Han,” he said seriously. “You have to talk that over with your father.”

“But then it’s too late. Raven will be shot by then!” the older boy retorted with passion.

“There will be other horses,” the old man countered. “And he is already sold.”

Han’s eyes met his cousin’s before he searched for the look of the horse. It just felt so wrong. Within a blink he made a decision.

“I’ll take him. Would you sell him to me, Mr. Kendrick?” Han asked the butcher.

“Well, I’ll give him to you for $3.” He said and extended his hand.

“Now ... I don’t have $3 right now,” Han admitted. “But we can make another deal. I’ll give you 86 cents now and I’ll run errands and deliveries for you for a week, and take care that your sausages are safe from now on.”

The butcher frowned and looked up to the other men. “The devil will get me, if that wasn’t an admittance!”

Han showed his best willing smile. “I don’t admit anything, but I know about your little problem and can help you solving it. And nobody will ever hear talk about your sausages.”

“What talk?”

“About some special - ingredients.” Han looked at him intently.

The butcher bit his lip. Telltale redness crept out of his collar. Yet he pressed out, “Make it two weeks!”

“All right, but I can only start when the horse’s pain is ended.”

“One way or another?” the man asked.

“One way or another,” Han confirmed. “And if he won’t make it, you have the option-to-buy.”

The butcher smothered away a grin and nodded seriously. “All right, young man, then you’ve got yourself a deal!” He extended his hand and the dark-haired boy accepted with bright shining eyes and a full dimpled smile on his face.

-o-o-o-

The way home felt longer than ever. Raven’s walk was pretty slow and still the horse seemed to be in pain.

“He’s in a pitiful state,” Grandpa Curry explained. “And you’ll have to start the treatment soon, if you want to save him. He’s is only allowed to have light food – hay, no grass or grain – he has to walk even if it hurts him, and you have to cool his hooves as good and as long as you can.”

“His hooves? How? Do you think wet cloths will do?” Jed asked. “Like I got ‘em, when I was down with fever?”

“That won’t do it, little one,” the old man said and tousled his hair. “The horn is thick and it just wouldn’t do good enough. But maybe the creek will help us. There’s a place near the fallen tree where it ain’t too deep. It’s shady there and there’s good current, too. I guess the place will do just fine.”

Han’s father already waited for a while when they eventually arrived back at the farm. He wasn’t exited as he heard the news.

“You can’t just take another man’s horse!” he shot at his son in anger.

“I didn’t take him, I bought him,” the boy told him, standing his ground, with his younger cousin close to his side.

“How did you buy him? You don’t have the money to buy a horse!” Heyes senior frowned. One of his dark brows moved towards the hairline.

“I made a deposit and I’ll work.”

“You’ll work?” his father’s brow moved even higher.

“Yeah, I’ll run errands for Billy Kendrick after school for two weeks.”

“Did he talk you into that?”

“No, it was my idea.”

“Why?”

“Raven is a fine horse, and I really need one, and they would have killed him otherwise!”

“And you two back him up, I guess,” Heyes senior asked his nephew and father-in-law. Both of them nodded, the older Curry showing a proud smile on his face.

“You bet I do,” the old man said. “He asked for my opinion and I told him there’s a reasonable chance. He knew what he wanted and he is convinced that he’ll make it. It’s up to him to live up to it now.”

Thoughtfully, Heyes senior studied his offspring. The youngster had given all he owned and even offered his work: Hannibal Heyes, probably the laziest boy all around, and incredibly resourceful when it came to avoiding chores.

“Yet you had to ask me first,” he told his son.

“There was no time and it was my deal,” Han countered.

“But I have to feed him now.”

“He won’t cost you that much. And if you want me, I’ll work for his keeping, too.”

A brief smile lit up his father’s face. He extended his hand and patted Han’s shoulder. “I doubt, that will be necessary, my son. Let’s go home for now and tell me how you want to get him healed up again.”

“Well, yeah, I know it’s time to go home, but ... It would be easier we’d keep Raven here for a while. It’s easier for his treatment and I talked to uncle Zack and he allows me to sleep here for a while. It’ll save much time, time I need for the treatment and you won’t have to ride over all the time to bring me here. We have the weekend now anyway and we can care for him over two whole days and see how Raven’s doing. And I will help Jed doing his chores so we can take better care of the horse and Grandpa Curry will help us and look after him when we are back in school and...”

Hieronymus Heyes raised his hand and cut off the rapid fire of his son’s explanations. “You have already asked? And all agreed? And you thought of all that of your own?”

Heyes junior nodded. “All you have to do is give your permission – will you?”

“Yes, Hannibal, I will. Just bring my horse into the coral for a while, so I can talk it over with your aunt and uncle...and have a look at your purchase.”

While the boys took care of the horse, Han’s father scrutinized Raven with his father-in-law watching. As he was finished, they exchange a long glance, followed by a quiet smile and a nod. Heyes senior clapped the horse’s hindquarter before he strode at the side of the old man to the house to talk to his brother-in-law and his wife, but the decision was already made.

Han spent the next days at the Currys as it was planned. The boys and their grandpa took turns in caring for the horse, cooling the hooves in the creek for hours and hours, only interrupted when they walked it for a while.

Grandpa Curry added a mixture of herbs to the horse’s meager diet, and only a few days later it was clear that the animal was on the mend. It walked easier and its stance didn’t look so awkward anymore, the pain in its eyes had left. Yet it took weeks until it recovered enough to be ridden again.

Meanwhile Han fulfilled his obligations. It wasn’t easy for him to keep up his end of the bargain, but the he decided the goal was worth the effort.

Hannibal Heyes was full of pride when he showed up at the Currys’s farm for the first time to pick up his cousin to ride with him to school. He enjoyed the attention and envy the new horse earned them from their schoolmates. There were only a few days left before summer break though, but the boys were looking forward to a long summer, promising joy and new adventures.
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InsideOutlaw

InsideOutlaw

Posts : 529
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 63
Location : Colorado

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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptyFri Mar 29, 2019 2:18 pm

A Day Early, A Dollar Short - Chapter 7


Heyes sagged into the filthy cot.  His brain was still fuzzy with fever but he’d heard everything--Mac’s startling confession along with Jed’s stubborn refusal to take the papers and go.  The last of his strength slipped away and his mind spun with gruesome memories and imaginings, both his and Mac’s families horribly intertwined as their deaths played out in his nightmares.


Angered and shaken by how much he’d revealed to Curry, Mac brooded until the first light of the new day filtered in through a hole in the cabin’s chinking.  Soft snores emanated from the Kid, but Heyes was shifting about causing the bed to creak.  He’d spent the long night thinking about the two outlaws.  He’d always heard Heyes was the brains of the outfit, but he’d also heard Kid Curry was a stone-cold killer and as much as he hated to admit it, he knew it wasn’t true.  Curry was a man with his own code of honor just like him.  He respected that.  One other thing was crystal clear; the young gunman cared deeply for his leader.  Mac could use that. 


“Curry, psst!” he whispered.  “Hey, wake up.”


The Kid bolted upright, awake, his hand dropping to his sidearm and his eyes cutting to Heyes.  “What the…?!” 


“Don’t worry, he ain’t dead.”  Mac grinned.  Curry’s devotion to his partner was so painfully obvious.


Slumping with relief, the Kid rubbed his eyes wearily.  His lack of sleep and concern for Heyes was wearing him down.  Reacting without thinking was a dangerous place for him to be.  “What’d you wake me for?” he grumpily asked.


“You and me need to talk while your partner can’t hear us.”


“You and I don’t have anything to talk about.”


The smile slipped from Mac’s face.  “Sure we do.  You know as well as me, fevers burn a man up from the inside out and there ain’t enough of Heyes left to light a match.  If’n that fever don’t come down real soon, he’s gonna die.”


The Kid looked back at Heyes.  Dark hair lay matted on his forehead and his face was gaunt.  The fever had whittled away the little fat he’d carried.  Curry reached up and rested a hand against a bristled cheek.  The skin was hot but the fever had lessened overnight.  “He’s okay.”  


Mac smirked.  “For now.”  


The words pierced the Kid’s heart.  “What’re you sayin’?”
  
“He’s gettin’ weaker and you need to get ‘im a doctor.  By my calculations, we ain’t that far from Grand Lake.  There’ll be a doc there.  Can’t be more’n four, five hours at most.”


Blue eyes narrowed skeptically, “I ain’t leavin’ Heyes with you.”


“So take me with you.  Heyes’ is out of it.  He won’t know you left ‘im alone.”


“Like hell I will.  This place stunk of bear when we arrived.  You think I’m leavin’ my partner to get eaten by critters?”


“Then leave me with ‘im.  You got me tied up good.  I’ll keep watch.”


Not answering, the Kid considered Mac’s proposal.  He knew Heyes needed more care than he could provide.  Getting up, he tugged the bedding off Heyes’ leg then set about changing the dressing.  The ominous dilation of the veins had lessened but the wound was still producing pus.  The pine tar had done a good job of drawing out what it could, but there wasn’t much left.  What was going to happen when it ran out?  He carefully cleaned Heyes’ foot and bound it with more skunk cabbage leaves secured by a strip of torn cloth.  Intent on what he was doing, he’d failed to notice brown eyes following his every move.


“Kid,” said Heyes breathlessly.


“Hey. How’re y’doin’?”  Gently smiling, the Kid pulled the blankets up and shifted on the edge of the bed so that he was facing his friend.  Heyes looked better.  His eyes were still glazed but focused.


“Thirsty,” squeaked Heyes.


Curry dipped a mug into the pail of clean water and lifted Heyes’ head letting him take a few small sips.  “That’s enough.  Don’t want you gettin’ a bellyache.”  He lowered Heyes to the pile of rags serving as a pillow.  “Your fever’s down a bit.  You feelin’ any better?”  


“Feels like I’ve been trampled.”  


“Think you can eat somethin’?  I got porcupine dryin’.  Roasted it up last night.”


Heyes’ stomach lurched at the thought and his face grayed.  “No,…can’t.  I’ll pitch it up.”


Dissatisfied with that answer, the Kid’s fears intensified.  He wasn’t sure what he should do.  Cautiously he ventured, “I’m thinkin’ we’re pretty close to Grand Lake.”


Heyes nodded.  “Couple hours south.” Realization crept onto his face and his gaze sharpened, “You could get help.”


“Heyes…”


“No, listen, leave my gun.  Mac’s tied up.”


“What if he gets untied?”


“I’ll deal.  Please…go…I need a doctor.”  


Heyes never wanted to see doctors and the fact he was asking for one now terrified Kid Curry and dissolved the rest of his objections.


Having been listening to the two friends, Mac chimed in, “For God’s sake, Curry, you tryin’ to kill ‘im?  Man says he needs a doctor!”


The Kid rose, his fists clenched in fury, “Shut up!  We wouldn’t even be in this fix if’n it weren’t for you!”


“I din’t put you on a life of crime!” yelled Mac.  “You brought this on yourselves!  God’s punishin’ your wicked ways!”


Taking a step towards his prisoner, the Kid was caught short as Heyes grabbed his shirttail.  “Stop!”  Heyes coughed with the effort.  “Don’t matter how we got here.  Leave my pistol.  I’ll be fine.”


The Kid had swung back to his partner ready to argue but the waxy sheen on Heyes’ face caused the words to die on his lips.  He nodded curtly.  Furious about what he knew he had to do, he turned away from both men and started gathering up his gear.  “I’ll take both horses.  You won’t need ‘em and I can switch off, gallop the whole way.”


“Take my money, Mac’s too, if he has any.”


Curry roughly searched Mac’s pockets finding thirty-two dollars.  He pulled out the bills, a small key, and a folded knife, waving them in front of the other man’s face.  “Since I’m such a crook, guess I’ll take these.”  He turned to Mac’s saddle bags and dug through them, looking for weapons but finding a pair of handcuffs.  The key worked.  The Kid turned around and held the cuffs up enjoying the anger that flitted across Mac’s face.   “Let’s see you weasel your way outta these.”  He snapped them around Mac’s wrists and untying the rope to use as a lead.  “Guess I’m all right now with leavin’ you here.”  


“Take the papers,” croaked Heyes.  “Hire someone to ride to Denver.”


“Is that why you want me to go to Grand Lake?!” growled the Kid, searching his partner’s face for the truth.  It wasn’t beneath Heyes to manipulate the situation.  Even now.


“Look, there’s still time.”  Heyes shifted uncomfortably, but gave him a wan smile.  “It’ll give me peace knowing even if I don’t get it, you might.”    


“Damn it, Heyes!”  The Kid snatched up the torn envelope and shoved it into his jacket.  


“Use your compass…ride due south…don’t stray off course or you’ll never get back,” instructed Heyes as the Kid put the Schofield, a mug and pail of water, and a portion of dried porcupine by Heyes’ side.  Curry left another portion within Mac’s reach along with two full canteens, checked his prisoner’s bindings, gave a quick nod, and was gone.


Both Heyes and Mac listened to the sound of hoof beats fading away until silence fell.  Heyes rolled over and pointedly glared at Mac as he slipped his hand around the Schofield’s grip.  The two men watched each other.  Neither said a word and, after a while, Heyes’ eyes drooped.  Mac waited patiently until Heyes was sound asleep then began trying to work the cuffs loose.  He struggled purposely, chafing his wrists until they bled freely.  He’d tensed the muscles of his arm while keeping his hands relaxed as Curry had snapped on the cuffs.  It was an old trick he’d learned the hard way with one wily outlaw and he hoped now he could replicate it.


XXX


Recklessly driving the horses on, the Kid dangerously wove his way through the forest as fast as he dared concentrating on his path so the misgivings he had were driven from his mind.  Periodically, he fished out the compass, checking the direction--South.  


XXX


Heyes awoke to Mac sawing the chain of the cuffs against the wooden post.  Disoriented by his fever, he lay still and let the rhythmic noise wash over him.  The steady sound quickly lulled him back to sleep.


XXX


Bloodied, sore, and desperate, Mac continued working the cuffs around his wrists while they chewed through the old wood.  One way or another, he planned to be long gone by the time Curry returned but he’d see Heyes in hell before he went.


XXX


Several hours into his ride, the Kid intersected a wagon trail.  He pulled the horses up and checked the compass.  Using a sock from his saddlebag, he flagged a tree where he exited the forest so he could easily find it again.  Turning onto the road, he vaulted from the bay onto the sorrel and picked up a fast gallop tugging the now rider-less horse along beside him.


It wasn’t long before he passed a small ranch.  Split rail fencing lined the side of the road and delineated the property.  A long road branched off through a gate and disappeared into distant trees.  Soon, he came to more homesteads and the road became smoother, steadily dropping elevation.  Within another hour, he glimpsed the deep blue waters of Grand Lake.  Tall, heavily forested mountains rose sharply from the banks of the lake and he could see a settlement of buildings clustered on the eastern shore.  Heartened, he drove on.


Nearing the outskirts of town, the Kid saw a young man hanging laundry on a clothesline in a front yard.  As he approached he called out, “Howdy, is there a doctor in town?  My partner’s been hurt.”


The man turned slightly and pointed to a two-story building down the street, yelling back, “Dr. Minner’s office’s upstairs, the Ore Building.”


“Much obliged.”  The Kid took in the weathered, peeling paint on the house and the grayed, well-worn clothing hanging from the line.  His eyes came back to the man as he reined to a stop.  “I’ve got some papers that need deliverin’ to the governor’s office in Denver as fast as possible.  You know someone who might want to make a quick thirty bucks?”  It was an exorbitant sum, but it had the effect the Kid was hoping for.
 
“I could help you out with that,” replied the man.


The Kid handed over the envelope and the money.  After shaking on the deal, he hurried away.


XXX


A shaft of sunlight filtered through a grimy, broken window pane and fell across the bed.  Slowly as the day wore on, the beam shifted across Heyes’ sleeping form until it reached his face.  He squinted and turned away from the harsh light.


Seeing the outlaw stirring, Mac ceased his sawing and shifted around the pole until he was facing Heyes, his raw, torn hands concealed behind him.  He’d managed to squeeze a cuff midway down his left hand and the iron grip of it was cutting off the blood supply causing him great pain but there was no way he’d let on he was hurting.  Heyes’ gaze briefly fell on him as the outlaw grabbed the mug left next to him and dipped it into the pail next to the bed.  His hand shook crazily as he lifted the water to his mouth slopping some onto the bed before he managed a few swallows.  Mac watched him trying to steady his hand but he couldn’t.  


Heyes dropped the mug and looked up, seeing the other man’s speculation. He scowled.  “Don’t get any bright ideas.  I’ve got six bullets and six chances to shoot you.”


Grinning, Mac shook his head.  “I got all sorts of ideas, but ain’t none of ‘em gonna do me a lick of good with these cuffs on.”


“Hmpf.”  Heyes swung his legs off the bed and, struggling, managed to sit up leaning against the wall behind the bed.  He was breathing hard like he’d run a mile, but he’d managed it.  Pulling the Schofield into his lap, he watched Mac watching him.


XXX  


The Kid took the stairs to the Ore Building two at a time until he reached the portico. A door stood to his left ornately labeled, “Dr. Philip Minner, General Practitioner.”  It shook as he rapped firmly but there was no answer.  He shouted, “Open up” several times until a man’s bespectacled head poked out through the door to the next office.


“Stop that racket!  Can’t you see Dr. Minner’s not in?”


The Kid walked over and stood in front of the door.  “Where is he?”


The man looked him up and down before sniffing dismissively.  “He’s at the Wilson place,” he said as though the Kid should know where that was.


His temper rising and his eyes growing cold, Curry leaned in towards the man and bit off his next words.  “Where…exactly…is that?” 


The man swallowed dramatically, his Adam’s apple bobbing, and babbled, “Two miles outta town on the left.  Look for the lightnin’ struck tree and the swayback gray in the field.  Whitewashed…,” He inhaled to provide more detail but the intimidating stranger left before he could finish.


XXX


Heyes kept dozing off.  No matter how hard he fought it, he was too exhausted to keep watch.  In his dreams, he saw his father and Uncle working a two-handed crosscut saw making timbers for the barn they were building.  He was lying under the old oak tree by the creek with the noonday sun warming him.  Flies buzzed about his head as he struggled to stay awake.  In the distance, he could see Jed coming back with their lunch, a sack held in his hand.  Jed looked different.  Older maybe?  Before he could decide how or why, he saw the blond trip.  The sack sailed up into the air releasing scattered sheets.  A tornado appeared spiraling into the sky and drawing the papers and Jed upwards until they disappeared.  Heyes screamed in horror and jerked awake looking wildly about.  “Jed!”


Mac froze.  The pain in his hands was almost unbearable but he’d made no further progress getting the cuffs off.  Sawing through the wood was proving to be futile as well, the post was too thick.  He had one more trick up his sleeve but he had to wait for the right moment and act fast.  Not now.  Not while Heyes was alert.


Relieved it was all a dream, the outlaw sagged and closed his eyes.


XXX


Galloping towards town, the Kid saw a man in a bowler hat and a dark coat coming towards him on a bicycle.  Curry slowed to a walk hoping to avoid spooking the horses as they passed the unfamiliar conveyance.


Smiling, the man stopped and greeted him.  “Thank you, sir, for slowing.  Horses don’t seem to care for my mode of transportation.”
 
Curry noticed the black leather doctor’s bag tied to the back of the seat.  “Are you Dr. Minner?”  


“I am.”


The Kid swung out of his saddle.  “I need your help.  My partner’s sick.  He got shot in the foot a coupla days ago and infection’s set in.  He’s been spikin’ a fever.” 


“Well, that was careless of him,” said the doctor, assuming an accident.  The two horses before him were sweated up and winded from a long ride.  “How far away is he?”


“A few hours north of here.”  


The doctor stiffened and he started to protest, “I’m sorry, I can’t…”


“I’m sorry.  I ain’t got time for this,” the Kid’s Colt appeared in his hand like magic.  “Leave the bike.  You’re comin’ with me.”


Dr. Minner’s hands shot up.  “Please, don’t hurt me.  I have a family.”


“So do I Doc, and right now he needs your help.”  The Kid grabbed the doctor’s bag and gestured for the physician to mount Heyes’ horse.  


“I don’t know how to ride a horse!” protested Dr. Minner.


“You’re about to learn.”


XXX


It seemed liked he’d been waiting forever.  Heyes hadn’t made a peep in a long time and he was pretty sure the outlaw was sound asleep again, but Mac kept stalling.  He knew what he had to do.  He just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  The shadows in the cabin were getting longer.  He had to do it now so he could be well away before Curry returned.  He took several deep breaths.  It was now or never.


He bit his shirt collar to keep from crying out and, with a desperate sharp upwards yank of his left arm he dislocated his thumb, sliding his damaged hand easily through the cuff. The pain was terrible and he began to hyperventilate through his clenched teeth as tears streamed down his face but he didn’t hesitate.  Mac leapt to his feet, his nerves hurtling him across the cabin where he snatched up a table leg.  Turning, he swung it over his head and charged at the sleeping man on the bed.


Heyes’ eyes opened.  His hand rose as if by its own volition, gripping the Schofield, and it fired, the bullet hitting Mac’s hand.  The table leg clattered to the floor as the older man’s momentum carried him forward, his bloodied hands outstretched and his mouth screaming his rage despite the smoking gun aimed at his heart.  The gun’s muzzle shifted slightly, barked again, and a second slug found its mark.  


Mac wobbled, nearly fell, but recovered clumsily and came to a halt.  His hands dropped and he stared stupidly at the newly-formed hole in his right foot.

_________________
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
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HannaHeyes

HannaHeyes

Posts : 1323
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 43
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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptySat Mar 30, 2019 10:58 pm

This is rated PG-13. No young children need to read this nonsense. You'll figure out why. Sorry in advance, but the idea came to me and I just couldn't resist.
_______________


Two ex-outlaws rode lazily, but alertly, down a well-traveled road. It was a pleasant day, overcast with a light warm wind blowing from the southwest. It was definitely a nice day, but unfortunately for one of the pair, it wasn't a quiet day. 


The two rode side-by-side, one talking consistently about some weird book he'd just finished, along with anything else that entered his roaming mind; the second thinking that if the other shut his mouth for more than two minutes, his tongue would probably beat his brains out trying to speak. 


After a few more minutes of incessant chatter, to the blond partner's surprise, the talking, and his cousin's horse, stopped. Kid Curry was instantly on guard. "What's wrong?"


Hannibal Heyes stared intently ahead, his eyes squinted trying to make out something in the distance. "What is that?"


Curry looked at what Heyes was pointing out. There was certainly something moving beside the road up ahead. "I want to say some kind of animal, but it don't look like it's got a tail." He spent a minute studying the moving shape, letting his eyes adjust to the distance, then his eyebrows rose. "Heyes, I think that's a man crawlin' up there."


"A crawling man?" He glanced sideways at his cousin. "Well, we better go around another way then."


Kid looked up, a little confused and surprised. "Why? He might need help."


Heyes gave him a knowing look. "He also might be the bait for a trap. We stop to see if he needs help and his buddies come out and rob us, or maybe recognize us, might even kill us. No, it's safer to just go around. Besides, if he's legitimately hurt, somebody else will probably be by here soon. This looks like a decently traveled road. Come on." He started to turn his horse around.


Kid held his horse where he stood. "No, Heyes. That could be one of us up there. Has been before if'n I remember right. I say we go check on him."


Heyes pulled back on his reins and sighed. "You're really going to argue this point AGAIN, aren't you?"


Curry rested his arms on the saddle horn and kept staring ahead. "Yep."


"IT'S NOT EVEN A WOMAN THIS TIME!" A disgruntled look was thrown at the blond ex-outlaw as a chestnut gelding was turned back around. "Why don't you just move to England and become a knight in shining armor?"


"What?"


"Nothing. But if we end up in jail or dead, I'm going to spend the rest of eternity flattening you. Let's go, Lancelot." Heyes clicked his mount into a trot.


"WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?!"


________________________________________


The two cautiously approached the crawling man, both on high alert and scanning the surrounding area for others. There didn't seem to be anyone else around.


The man on the side of the road heard the horses coming and suddenly just rolled over onto his back, his hands gripping his undercarriage while he moaned.


Heyes pursed his lips and glanced over at Curry with an unbelieving, almost smiling, look on his face. He whispered, "You uh," he smacked his lips, "still want to stop? He might not be hurt. He might be just ... you know..."


Kid rolled his eyes and a half a minute later, stopped beside the man on the ground. Glancing down, he noticed blood on the man's pants.


Heyes pulled up his horse and saw the same thing. Trying his best to keep his poker face, he asked, "Sir, you look like you could use some help there."


The man spoke with a strained, slightly high-pitched voice. "I shore could." He continued to moan. "I's hurtin' like I never done hurt before."


Brown eyes once again glanced sideways. "Well sir, I don't really know what we could do for you except get you to a doctor or give you some whiskey. I think the next town's just a few miles down the road."


The man looked up through pain-filled eyes. "Yep. Next town up's where I's from."


Kid looked his cousin in the eyes. "Can I talk to you a minute?" He dismounted, walked a little distance away, and waited.


Heyes' brows dropped as his eyes went skyward right before he grinned down at the man. "Would you excuse us a minute?" Dismounting as well, he joined his partner who had a scowl on his face. "What?! I offered to help."


"You offered to get him a doctor or whiskey?! What if the bleedin' ain't stopped? What if he needs immediate attention to MAKE it to a doctor?"


"Well, I'M NOT touching his injured ... 'area'. If you want to poke around and see what's going on, feel free. I won't even watch."


Kid gritted his teeth. "That is NOT what I meant. You didn't even ask him what was goin' on with him or what had happened."


A dark brown gloved hand grabbed the bridge of the ex-outlaw leader's nose. "I don't NEED to ask! It's pretty self-explanatory when a man is grabbing his gear and blood's all over his pants. Besides, if he managed to do something to himself by ...", Heyes cleared his throat, "'polishing his gun handle' ... I for one DON'T want to hear about it!" 


"You're just plain impossible to talk to sometimes, do you know that?!"


"Well sorrrry, but this is NOT exactly a normal conversation!"


Kid glared at his partner before returning to the man on the ground. 


Heyes reluctantly followed, shaking his head and thinking, 'Can't we have just ONE semi-normal day, JUST ONE?!'


Kid bent down to speak to the man. "What's your name mister?"


The man's eyes were squeezed shut, in obvious pain. "It's ... Lloyd."


Curry continued. "What happened to ya, Lloyd?"


Lloyd's voice remained strained. "It was that ... that crazy Lurleene. She done ... stuck a knife in my gentiles and rode off on ma horse."


Heyes had to stifle a grin. "You mean your 'genitals', don't you?"


Lloyd gritted his teeth as he rolled back and forth. "That's what I said! Ma gentiles is broke!"


Heyes put a hand over his mouth to hide the now visible smile.


Kid threw him a look, then returned his attention back to the writhing man on the ground. "Who's Lurleene and how bad did she ... hurt you?"


Lloyd tried to slow down his breathing so he could talk without hesitation. "Lurleene's ma woman. She done follered me out here whist I's tryin' ta hunt and stabbed me in ma gentiles. OH GOD IT HURTS! All my man juice done leaked all over ma pants along with all ma blood."


At this, Heyes couldn't hardly hold in his laughter. He turned around and snorted, his shoulders shaking, then tried to hide it with a cough.


Kid squeezed his eyes shut, trying to control his rising temper. "Lloyd, will you excuse us again for a few seconds?" He stood up, grabbed Heyes by the arm, and pulled him away from the wounded man. "What the heck is WRONG with you?"


Heyes was still holding in laughter. "Ain't nothing wrong with me. MY gentiles are fine."


Kid's hand slowly formed a fist in front of his cousin's face. "That man is hurtin' and you're not doin' nothin' to help. Now quit actin' like a ten-year-old and come up with a plan or somethin'." He let go of his partner and walked back to Lloyd.


Heyes took a few seconds to compose himself. He hated to admit it, but the Kid was right. But the situation was just so ... absurb. Lloyd's grasp of the English language didn't help either. 


He returned to where Lloyd and Kid were and took over. "Well Lloyd, we can't let you crawl to the next town. If you'll let us help you, we'll quickly throw together a travois and attach it to my friend's horse and pull you into town. We'll go as slow as you need to try to keep you comfortable. I think you'll be okay until we get to a doctor. The blood stain on your pants doesn't look like it's grown any since we've been talking to you."


"It ain't?" Lloyd asked. "You shore?" His hands moved toward his pants button. "Mebbe we oughta look and make shore." 


"NO!" two voices yelled out in unison.


Lloyd's hands returned to their support position.


Kid turned and whispered, "Why do we have to attach that thing to MY horse?"


Heyes grinned. "You found the problem. Just seems right you be the frontrunner in fixing it. So, unless you have another magic mode of transportation hid in your saddlebags, this is what we need to do. He sure can't RIDE right now in any form, can he?" He walked off to look for some wood leaving the blond gunslinger to glare daggers at his back.


___________________________________


Since Lloyd apparently thought constantly holding his body's injured part helped, Heyes and Curry took him into town by way of the back streets. And in trying to keep what was left of the wounded man's pride intact, they also took him into the doctor's office the back way.


Neither of them wanted to stay and watch whatever the doctor had to end up doing, so they told Lloyd they'd visit him later and left. After double checking the sheriff's name over the jail, they stabled the horses at the livery and checked into the hotel.


"How would a doctor even fix an injury ... down there?" Kid asked as he put his saddlebags down next to his bed.


"I have no idea and I don't think I EVER care to know. Fix it with stitches I guess, like any other cut."


Curry unconsciously crossed his legs tightly as he sat down in a chair. "Can you imagine havin' to have somebody stitch you up ... down there? Not to mention havin' to clean it first."  


"Again, I don't WANT to imagine something like that." Heyes turned to face his cousin. "Look, I've heard enough about Lloyd and 'little Lloyd's' injury. I can honestly say that's one topic I could do without talking about ever again. Now, I could use a drink. You coming with me?" He headed for the room door.


Kid stood up, grabbed the room key from the dresser, and followed. "Yeah. I'm gettin' hungry too."


"Of course you are."


___________________________


Two ex-outlaws took a seat in the back of the semi-noisy saloon after ordering a drink and something to eat. A lovely young filly in a red satin dress that left nothing to the imagination soon brought over their order. After winking and trying to entice the handsome men to call on her later, she left them to their meal.


Heyes glanced up as he thought he heard somebody screaming outside. Becoming alert, he looked, but didn't see anything outside the saloon window across the room and nobody came in, so he picked up his glass and took a long drink of his beer. "I say we move on in the morning. Every minute I spend in this town reminds me of your friend Lloyd. And that's something that personally, I'd like to forget."


"Well, if you say so. I want to see how he's doin' before we leave though." Kid had also heard the sound of a loud voice and thoroughly checked the immediate vicinty. Not seeing, or sensing, any danger to them, he tore into a fried chicken leg.


"Fine. But I think I may take Ruby over there up on her offer. Be hard to think about recent events with a lady like that to spend the evening with." Heyes gave the lady in red a dimpled smile when he caught her looking back at them. His mind had finally started to let go of thoughts of Lloyd when a man loudly rushed through the saloon doors.


"The sheriff's tryin' to arrest Lurleene! Seems she stabbed Lloyd in his nether regions. He's over at the doc's right now and Lurleene's tryin' to drag him outside! She's throwin' one more of a fit!"


The town cryer then ran out of the saloon as fast as he had come in, no doubt to hit all the other businesses in the small town to spread the news, just in case they hadn't heard all the yelling down the street.


Heyes dropped his head and groaned. "Oh dear God. There's no getting away from it."


Everybody started hurrying through the saloon doors and down the boardwalk to watch the apparent show going on. Heyes and Curry shared a look. Heyes shrugged his shoulders, Kid grabbed some chicken, and they both followed the crowd, their curiosity getting the best of them.


__________________________________


"GIT YER HANDS OFF'N ME, WOMAN!" Lloyd screamed, one hand cradling his crotch, the other pushing the enraged said woman off his arm. "CAN'T YA SEE I'S HURTIN' HERE?!"


"I DON'T CARE HOW BAD YER HURTIN' YA CHEATIN' DOG!" Lurleene yelled back, catching her balance from Lloyd's resistance. By now, the doctor was helping Lloyd stand and trying to get him back to bed, while the sheriff was behind the crazed lady attempting to calm her and pull her away. "DON'T YA TOUCH ME AGIN, SHERIFF!" Lurleene jerked out of the lawman's grasp.


Sheriff Lowman blew a loud, exasperated sigh. "Lurleene, you have GOT to calm down! Now, I need to take you over to my office to try to get this straightened out."


Lurleene whirled around violently, glaring at Sheriff Lowman while holding up a knife. "I AIN'T a goin' NOWHERE with ya until I finish ma business with that sorry, slimy snake hidin' behind the doc there!"


Watching from the opposite boardwalk, both Heyes and Curry couldn't help but smile.


"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," Heyes recited.


Curry looked at him. "What?"


"Nothing..."


The sheriff was trying to keep his temper at bay. He really didn't want to pull a gun on a lady. It just didn't feel right. He'd only do it as a last resort. At least he'd gotten her out into the street some. "I promise you can finish it later, the legal way, in a courtroom, so just put down the knife and come on." He reached once more for her.


"I SAID NO!" She slapped his hand away and turned once more toward the cowering man in the doctor's office doorway. "GET OUT THE WAY, DOC!"


The doctor stood his ground in front of his patient, who was both trying to stand tall and keep the argument going. "I can't let you get to Lloyd, Lurleene. I don't care if he IS your husband, right now, he's my patient and I have an oath to keep him from harm."


Lurleene visibly bristled more. Her face was red enough to glow in the dark. "I ain't gonna harm him, I'MA JUST GONNA WHACK OFF HIS..."


"LURLEENE!" Sheriff Lowman yelled above her. "There might be children present. Watch your mouth."


The angry she-devil ignored him.


Lloyd decided to join in the heated 'conversation' once more. "WHY YA WANTIN' TO KILL ME?! WHY YA SO MAD? I'S THE ONE DONE GOTS INJURED AND YOU'S THE ONE DONE DID IT!"


Lurleene couldn't believe Lloyd's gall. "WHAT?! YA KNOW DARN WELL WHY I'S MAD!"


Lloyd pushed the doctor to the side, but just by a little bit. "I JUST WENT OUT THERE HUNTIN'. I TOLD YA'S THAT BEFORE I LEFT!"


Lurleened walked an exagerated circle while rolling her eyes. "Yeah, ya went huntin' alright ... BUT WHAT WERE YA HUNTIN', HUH?!"


"PRAIRIE CHICKENS!"


Lurleene started forward again, but the sheriff got his hands on her. Her focus was completely on her husband though so she didn't notice. "YOU WOULDN'T HUNTIN' NO PRAIRIE CHICKENS! YOU WAS HUNTIN' FER WESTERN FLOOZIES!"


"I WAS NOT!"


"YEAH YA WAS! I WENT TO THE MER-CAN-TILE RIGHT AFTER YA LEFT, LLOYD. DON'T THINK I DIDN'T SEE LULU FROM THE SALOON RIDE OUT YOUR WAY. I FOLLERED HER AND GUESS WHAT I FOUND?!"


Lloyd's expression went from defense to embarrassment.


Lulu, the western floozy, slid unnoticed down an alleyway to get back to the saloon before Lurleene decided to turn her rage from Lloyd to her.


"CAUGHT YA RIGHT THERE WITH YER PANTS DOWN!"


Lloyd tried to summon his courage back. He didn't want to look weak and whipped by a woman in front of the whole town. "WELL, YA DONE MADE ME PAY FER IT! I'S IN HERE WEARIN' A DIAPER 'CAUSE OF YOU!" On second thought, maybe he shouldn't have added that last part as he heard laughter ripple through the gathered onlookers.


"YA OUGHTA BE WEARIN' A NOOSE YA DIRTY-EYED, LOWDOWN, TWO-TIMIN' PIG!" She finally noticed the sheriff's hold on her and jerked loose once more, headed toward the doctor's office, her intent clear to everyone.


Lloyd's eyes searched for the lawman's and when they locked, his gaze begged for help. "COME ON, SHERIFF. GIT HER! SHE'S NUTTIER THAN A SQUIRREL TURD!" 


Sheriff Lowman had had enough. He nodded his head at a nearby deputy who had been observing the whole thing and trying to hide a grin. The deputy walked over and Lowman grabbed both of Lurleene's arms while his deputy wrestled the knife out of her hand.


Lurleene was definitely resisting arrest as she struggled to get loose. "I SAID NOT TA TOUCH ME!"


"I'm sorry, Lurleene," said the sheriff as he used as little force as he needed to move the woman along. "But you can't go around stabbing people in... you can't go around just stabbing people no matter what they done, unless it's in self defense."


"IT WAS IN DEFENSE! I'S DEFENDING WHAT WAS MINE ... AND MY RIGHT TO REMOVE IT!"


"That ain't what I meant and you know it. Now come on." The sheriff was finally starting to make some headway toward his office.


"THIS AIN'T OVER, LLOYD! I WANT'S A DE-VORCE!"


_______________________________________


A couple of minutes later, Lurleene was inside the sheriff's office and the doctor had put Lloyd back to bed. The crowd started dispersing and the two partners started the walk back to the saloon.


Heyes grinned over at his cousin. "How'd you like to be married to something like that?"


"I WOULDN'T be married to somethin' like that. Make her mad and you never know WHAT you might wake up without."


Heyes outright laughed. "True. Well, it finally happened. One of your 'needy folk' didn't really deserve the help after all. He'd already GOT what he deserved."


"Now how was I supposed to know he'd been out rolling in the grass and gotten caught by his wife? One thing's for sure ... Lurleene sure seemed to be a mean one when she's mad."


"Yeah, Lurleene looked to be a whole lot of mean in a little package. She also took care of a 'little package'." Heyes tried to keep a straight face, but a small giggle squeaked out.


Kid stopped walking and gave his cousin the look. "Okay, I can't believe I'm sayin' this, but you were right earlier when you said Lloyd's 'problem' had been talked about enough. This whole thing's made you act like you's back in third grade. Let's get out of this town ... after a good supper and a good night's sleep... and a good breakfast." He turned and resumed his walk to the saloon.


Heyes was still grinning at the gunslinger's back as he mimicked Lloyd's version of the English language. "Ya got's it partner."

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elleree

elleree

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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptySun Mar 31, 2019 12:35 pm

Hannibal Heyes tended to his new mount, picking the ice and compacted snow out of his hooves. The safe cracker wasn’t enjoying the cold; although recovered, he still felt it more keenly than usual. And his head hurt. But it had to be done.
 
Some people thought of horses merely as modes of transportation, but any good outlaw knew that your horse was one of your most important possessions. They eluded posses, kept secure footing on dangerous trails, and continued on when you were exhausted. Practicality wasn’t the only reason Heyes and Curry made sure theirs were in top shape, however. They both loved animals, even though it didn’t make sense to get attached as they had to switch mounts, sell them, and abandon them to jump onto train cars. He told the Kid that over and over again. Even so, Heyes missed his own horse and wished that Clyde Kaden hadn’t shot him.
 
In retaliation, he’d taken Clyde’s mount. They didn’t know each other yet, but Heyes had a deft hand and the horse nosed him gratefully as he finished. Some outlaws left the gear on their animals at all times when in a dangerous situations, but that was cruel unless it absolutely couldn’t be avoided. Kid’s dark gelding huffed at him and Heyes smiled.
 
“I’m getting there,” Heyes said. He went to tend to Kid’s horse, who nibbled at his coat.
 
“Sorry, don’t have anything,” he said apologetically as he stroked the velvety nose. “Kid’s hurt, but he’s getting better so he’ll be giving you treats out of his coat soon enough.”
 
He hoped. Tending to the horses should have been a temporary distraction from the worry he felt for his partner, but his brain wouldn’t stop. The bullet was out and they had shelter, but if they were discovered, Heyes wasn’t sure Kid could survive another long escape. He needed at least a few days recovery. And though Heyes had cleaned thoroughly, the bullet had been in there for some time. Infection was still a possibility. At least Ross Kaden had cleaned the injury.
 
After finishing with the horses, Heyes dumped out the old water and ice from the trough and picked up a bucket. The dark haired man trudged through the ever increasing snow to the creek, which was far enough in the woods the barn and cabin weren’t visible.
 
The tired ex-outlaw walked back and forth, filling the bucket and then taking it to pour into the trough. He’d just dipped the bucket into the sluggish spring for what he figured would be the last time, when he heard the crunch of hooves in snow. Heyes put down the container, unclipped his gun, and drew the Schofield.
 
He moved carefully under the cover of snow laden trees and saw Dustin Kaden riding in the general direction of the cabin. The bounty hunter hadn’t found it yet as he was clearly meandering and not set on a specific destination. No matter what, Heyes would NOT let the man get to the cabin and Kid.
 
Heyes moved quietly but quickly, taking a shortcut to get in front of the bounty hunter. He stopped just in front of the edge of the woods that opened into the cabin’s clearing, the last line of defense. He hadn’t raised his gun to aim yet, so the gunshot surprised him.
 
Dustin Kaden fell off his horse, hitting a tree trunk on the way down. Heyes blinked his brown eyes in confusion and he caught movement. Ross Kaden walked out from behind his brother and bent over him. Ross back shot his brother? The youngest Kaden brother knelt in the snow over his brother while the horse shook its head, flapping the reins.
 
“Easy,” Ross said to the horse.
 
Heyes debated on waiting to see if Ross headed in the wrong direction, but figured they didn’t have that kind of luck. If he didn’t have to reveal the fact that he was there, thus cementing the location of their hideout, he wouldn’t.
 
Ross looked up abruptly. “Wood smoke?”
 
That clinched it.
 
“Hello Ross,” Heyes said, moving into view with his gun carefully aimed. “Hands up.”
 
“Mr. Heyes, can I finish tending Dusty’s shoulder? I’ll toss my gun away first.”
 
Heyes nodded. “Just do it slowly.”
 
There was something about the way the man sounded… Was Ross injured, too?
 
Ross threw his gun away and went back to binding his brother’s shoulder awkwardly with his left hand only. Ross’ right arm didn’t move, proving he was indeed injured, and Dustin didn’t move either. He must have struck his head on the tree as he fell. After he finished, the youngest Kaden raised his left hand all the way but not the right.
 
When they made eye contact, Heyes saw that Ross had been beaten. One eye was swollen shut, his mouth was bruised and puffy, lips split and his jawline was swollen and bruised. Blood trickled from his nose down his lips, joined by the blood from his mouth.
 
“Right arm’s busted,” Ross said in explanation for not raising it.
 
“Mind explaining what just happened?”
 
Ross tried to smile, but grimaced. “I shot my brother.”
 
“I got that part,” Heyes said.
 
Ross laughed a bitter, sad laugh. “I convinced the others not to shoot you on sight. Well, I convinced Clyde and he convinced the rest.”


“Really.” Heyes was skeptical and didn’t hide it.
 
The youngest Kaden brother took a minute to sit there silently, trying to get his breath back. Heyes guessed he had broken ribs on top of everything. “They did agree not to automatically kill you both.”
 
“That doesn’t explain the shape you’re in or why you backshot your brother.”
 
“Dusty waited till we all split up and bushwhacked me. Shot me in the arm to knock me off my horse and told me he was going to kill you both before beating the tar out of me.” Ross sighed, which turned into a cough. “I pretended to black out—actually did for a while. I know he meant for me to lie there in the woods and freeze to death. After he left, I got to thinking I wasn’t going to let him get his way and followed him.”
 
“Did you have a plan in mind?” Heyes asked.
 
Again that wheezy, bitter laugh. “Just stopping him. Not killing—he isn’t dead, he just hit his head when he fell.”
 
“You weren’t trying to kill him?” Heyes asked.
 
“No. I wouldn’t do that to family, even if he would. I’m not a killer,” the man said earnestly. “And if it matters…I’m not here for you two.”
 
“You would say that when I have my gun aimed at you,” Hannibal Heyes countered. His tone wasn’t particularly nasty, though. Ross seemed, beyond the physical wounds, emotionally drained and injured. A brother bushwhacking you wouldn’t be something you recovered from easily. 
 
“I convinced my brothers not to kill you if they find you,” Ross reiterated with a wheeze.
 
“Not sure that I believe the Kaden family would be so forgiving,” Heyes said wryly. “Especially after we escaped and ruined your gear.”
 
He’d noticed the saddle was tied on with rope with satisfaction.
 
Ross looked at him steadily. “You’re right. They wanted your blood, but I didn’t give Clyde a choice.”
 
Heyes raised his eyebrows. “How so?”
 
“I made him choose between a gunfight with me and killing you.”
 
“You challenged your brother for us?” Heyes asked skeptically. “Thought you said you weren’t a killer.”
 
The bounty hunter laughed. “Oh, there was no chance I’d win. I knew I would lose and so did everyone else. I’d just had it. I didn’t ever want—” Ross’ voice changed to almost pleading. “I didn’t want any of this! I’m so sorry they… hurt you. I never agreed with how they do things but the way they treated you... The way I treated you... Couldn’t live with it. I hoped Clyde would pick mercy for you over murdering me. He did. Dusty wasn’t happy about it which just gave him an excuse to attack me. That and the fact we got blamed for your escape.”
 
“Clyde Kaden backed down?”
 
“He’s mean, but he does love me.”
 
Heyes ruminated on everything he had been told. “And what am I supposed to do with you now?”
 
“Let me throw Dusty over his saddle and leave with him?” Ross managed to have one side of his injured mouth quirk upward and Heyes realized if the circumstances had been different, he might have liked the man.
 
“Don’t think I can do that,” Heyes said soft, a trifle regretfully. He had to protect his partner. “There’s nothing to stop you from coming back after us.”
 
“Not with this arm and Dusty. Not soon.” Ross looked down. “I‘ll go straight down the mountain, I swear.”
 
Heyes frowned. “Are you even able to ride?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
Kid Curry would most likely point out that Ross had patched him up, but the gunman was sometimes too much of a soft touch. On the other hand, what was the alternative? Bringing them both back to the cabin so they’d know exactly where it was? Stowing them in the barn? Tying them up and leaving them in the snow? As angry as Heyes was about his partner, neither he nor Kid  condoned taking lives. They’d kill if they had no other choice for self-defense or for one another, but Ross Kaden wasn’t a bad man and Dustin was unconscious.
 
“I’m gonna get out of this business,” Ross swore. “Maybe you don’t believe me, but I agree with you—I’m in the wrong line of work. I’ll change that if I get a second chance.”
 
That sounded familiar.
 
“After I go down, leading Dusty, I’ll find my brothers and we’ll go home. Clyde loves money, but he does care about us and he’ll want to get us to a doctor. At the most, just one of my brothers will stay behind to hunt you and that isn’t any worse than what’s already happening. I don’t know exactly where your hideout is and I won’t tell them what I do know. Dustin hadn’t found it, either.”
 
“You’re really planning on taking your brother back to get help after he tried to kill you?” Heyes asked, although he knew the answer.
 
“He’s my brother.” The youngest Kaden gave a smile. “I’ll admit it’ll be nice to tie him over his horse after what he did to me, but I don’t want him dead. Clyde will make him wish he was after he finds out what happened, anyway.”
 
Heyes wished Kid was with him to weigh in. He was exhausted and just wanted to get back to his partner. “All right. Let’s get your brother on his horse.”                
 
He hoped he didn’t regret his decision.
                                                           
***


Heyes returned to the cabin and walked in to find Kid Curry on the ground by the front door. “Hey, where’d you think you were going??”


Kid gave him a relieved smile. “Heard shots. Thought they’d got you.”


“So what, you thought you’d crawl after us?” Heyes said as he heaved his partner back to his feet as gently as possible and led him to bed.


“If I had to,” Kid said, drowsily sincere, and Heyes throat tightened. He’d forgotten how wood smoke in a small cabin bothered him.


“Well you don’t. Try to stay in bed this time, will ya?” Heyes checked to make sure the dressing wasn’t spotted with blood and then tucked his partner in.


“What was the shootin’?”


Heyes frowned. Leave it to the Kid not to let anything go. “Nothing to worry about.”


Curry looked exhausted but stubbornly refused to succumb to sleep. “You let me worry if I should worry or not.”


“We’re fine for now. You’re lucky you didn’t reopen that wound, so no more getting up without assistance, you hear me?”


“Heyes.” Kid refused to be distracted.


“I'm telling you, we’re safe for now. Just rest. C’mon, Kid, don’t you trust me?” Heyes asked.


The partner’s eyes met.


“For some reason, yeah,” Kid muttered, finally closing his eyes. He’d let it go for now, but Heyes knew he’d revisit it later.


As soon as his partner was asleep, Heyes walked to the window and looked out. The snow was falling hard enough that it was the only thing visible against the dark sky. Good. Maybe all the Kadens would give up and head home. 


He glanced back at his partner, who was sleeping soundly and Heyes let out a breath. He'd fix supper before he sat down next to the bed. At least they were safe once again. For now.
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Remuda

Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Modes of Transport   Modes of Transport EmptySun Mar 31, 2019 9:22 pm

It’s All in the Rigging

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!

Jed Curry twirled the Colt, wincing just a mite. Bringing the barrel upright, he blew, sending the smoke away from him. It scattered in the breeze like a dandelion gone to seed before dissipating. Looking beyond the pistol, he focused on the fence thirty feet in the distance – no tin can targets remained. He breathed a sigh of relief and holstered the sidearm.

Brought back to the present, he rolled his eyes at the slow clapping behind him. “Enough, Heyes.”

“I didn’t think you’d lost your touch.” The darker partner was now at his side. “Satisfied?”

“I suppose.”

“You really thought you lost it after all that excitement.”

“Not really.”

“Oh, come on, Kid, you were just as worried as I was, but you wouldn’t admit it.”

“What’s the matter, Heyes? You lost confidence in me or somethin’?”

“No. I was the one who told ya it would be okay, didn’t I?”

“I knew it would be.” Kid flexed his right hand. It cramped a little. Perhaps his partner was right that he had held the grip too tightly right after the accident, before Heyes insisted he rest the injured part and not hold a gun nor handle the team. Nah. Curry smirked. But, maybe after all these years Heyes had learned something about shooting form. After all, he had certainly observed Curry enough and was not a bad shot himself. Or maybe he just made a good guess.

Heyes nodded toward the fence. “Then why the show?”

Curry shrugged. “Just needed the practice.”

“Uh huh.” Heyes put a hand on Kid’s shoulder. “You just can’t admit I know what I’m talking about.”

Curry pursed his lips to stop a smile from forming. It was like Heyes could read his mind sometimes.

“You’re off, though.”

“What?”

Heyes nodded at the Colt. “That empty gun in your holster’s not gonna do us much good without loading it.”

Dang, Heyes had caught him off balance. Curry’s tone had a hint of warning. “Heyes …”

“Just saying, Kid. Let’s hole up for a couple days so your hand can finish healing.”

“My hand doesn’t need healin’ …”

“Okay, then your attitude.”

Kid Curry was two degrees this side of apoplexy. “Heyes, I’ll flatten ya if ya don’t …”

The darker man held his hands palms up. “Now, now, Kid. That’ll just hurt your hand some more.”

Caught flat-footed yet again, Curry started to say something but nothing came out. A full bore of double dimples came in reply. Shaking his head in disgust, the blond man walked toward the fence. He could not believe he let Heyes get his goat – again!

Heyes watched Curry unholster the Colt and load it as he walked. Yes, his form and focus was off, even if his aim was still true. Even if Kid would not admit it, Heyes knew he was a little nervous. Understandable, Heyes reasoned, given Curry had somehow gotten his hand tangled in the rigging while harnessing horses to the teamster wagon on their last job a couple days ago. Kid had not seemed worried over a little bruising and swelling, but Heyes had made him rest the hand and this was his first time handling a gun since. Happily, the job had gone smoothly and nothing happened where Curry had to test it.

Letting a minute pass to cool things down, Heyes approached his cousin. Curry had finished loading the pistol and returned it to its proper place on his right hip and now leaned against the fence taking in the view. And, timing being everything, Heyes joined in the companionable, scene-gazing silence. Finally, he observed, “Sure is pretty.”

“Uh huh.”

Heyes put an arm across Curry’s shoulders. “So we’re flush. How about we ride into town and get that hotel room and steak dinner we’ve been talking about and then relax for a couple days and increase our stake?”

Curry thought a second. He might be mad at Heyes but his partner had a way of making it up to him. Sharing a glance, he said, “Sounds good.”

“Good.” Heyes pivoted them toward the horses. “A couple of peaceful days’ll do wonders for your hand ...”

Curry sighed. “Heyes …”

“And I’ll even take some time away from poker to show you the proper way to handle rigging. First, you don’t want to put the cart before the horse …”

Before he knew what happened, Heyes hit the ground with a thud.

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