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 No Good Deed...

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Join date : 2013-08-24

No Good Deed... Empty
PostSubject: No Good Deed...   No Good Deed... EmptyThu Aug 01, 2019 4:19 am

It's August already, and it's time to face your latest challenge, which is;
cowboy 9
No Good Deed...
Jail
There are two famous versions of that saying. "No good deed goes unrewarded" and "no good deed goes unpunished". Feel free to choose either version, or update it with a spin of your own. It seems ready made to show us the kind of trouble the boys get into when they help out the needy folk.     
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HannaHeyes

HannaHeyes

Posts : 1323
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 43
Location : The Hideout

No Good Deed... Empty
PostSubject: Re: No Good Deed...   No Good Deed... EmptyWed Aug 21, 2019 1:18 pm

This is something I wrote about six years ago, but it fits the prompt and I’ve been missing joining in.


^_^_^_^_^_^_^_^_^


Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry had just left the town of Black Rock after finishing up a job they had gotten on a local ranch. "Don't know about you Heyes, but I sure am glad that's over." Kid looked exceptionally tired atop his black gelding.

"But, on the bright side, we got three hundred dollars out of it!" Heyes looked equally as tired.

"I still think we shoulda asked for more. Three hundred is pretty cheap for all the work we done, buildin’ a fence, repairin’ the old one, buildin’ new stalls in the barn, reroofin’ the house...they probably don't work a body that hard in prison."

"Well, at least we got enough to relax on for a little bit. You'll feel better once we get to the next town, get a soft bed, good meal, good poker game..." Heyes kept it up for a good five minutes straight.

"Why don't you relax your mouth a little." Kid knew he was proddy, but he just couldn't help it at the moment.

"Just trying to make you feel better." This was followed by another five minutes of nonstop chatter.

"Hey, look up there. What is that?" Kid pointed and was inwardly thankful for the distraction.

"Don't know. Kinda looks like a child."
A minute or two later, they had reached the youngster. "Hello there lil' miss," Kid smiled down at the girl who couldn't be no more than six. "What are you doin’ all the way out here by yourself?"

"I losted my way back to where my pa is camped," the child whimpered. "He telled me not to wander off, but I did and now I can't get back." Her bottom lip quivered ever so slightly.

"Kid, can I speak to you, privately, for a minute?" Heyes smiled at the young girl. "We'll be right back darling." They dismounted and stood with their horses blocking the girl's view of them. "Kid, something about this seems...I don't know...not right."
Kid regarded Heyes incredulously. "She's just a lost little kid, Heyes. What on earth do you find suspicious about that?"

"I can't really explain it. It’s just strange. Besides, don’t it seem logical that her Pa would be out looking for her, and in doing so, would be calling out her name? I haven't heard anybody hollering."

"Maybe he's too far away to be heard."

"Could be I guess."
"Heyes, you're not honestly thinkin’ about ridin’ off and not helpin’ this girl!? She can't be no older than five or six! We can't leave her out here. It'll be getting dark soon."

"NO, I don't want to just leave her here! But she can't come with us. Plus, what if we take her back to Black Rock and her Pa can't find her? Somebody could easily accuse us of kidnapping and I do believe the Governor might just look at that a little badly!"

"Well then, let's just try to find her Pa." Kid's simple answer was spoken with a tone that said his mind was made up. And as proddy as he'd been during the course of the day, Heyes didn't feel like getting into a heated argument with him. Besides, both he, and Kid, knew that neither one of them would leave this child to fend for herself.

"Alright, let's go." They walked back over to the wide-eyed, nervous little girl. "Honey, what's your name?"

"Emily."

"Well Emily, which way did you come from?" Heyes asked with huge dimples. Emily pointed back to a grove of trees. "Me and my partner here are gonna help you find your Pa, okay?" The girl was instantly excited. The trio headed off towards the trees, leading their horses behind them.

oooasjooo

About twenty minutes later, Kid brought their little group to a stop. Looking at Heyes he asked, "You smell that?"

Heyes tested the air for a second. "Yeah. Smells like a campfire. Suppose its Emily's Pa?"

"Could be." Kid bent down to Emily's level. "Sweetie, what's your Pa's name?"

"Pa."

"Okay." Kid looked up at Heyes who was suppressing a laugh. He stood up. "We can't just walk around here yellin’ 'Pa'. They'll think we're crazy."

"Let's let Emily do the hollering." It was Heyes turn to kneel down. "Emily, you think you could holler reeeal loud for your Pa to hear you?"

"Sure!" Heyes wasn't prepared for the ear-shattering noise that followed. "PAAAAAAAAAA!"

"My fault," he said standing up. "I shoulda moved first." Now it was Kid with the smile on his face. Heyes took a step or two back. "Go ahead and yell again Emily."

"PAAAAAAAA!" A second or two later, her call was returned.

"EMILY!"

"PA!" At that, Emily took off in a run towards her dad's voice with Heyes and Kid close behind. Eventually, they made it to a small campsite consisting of four men. "Hi Pa! I got's 'em!" Emily said happily. Upon hearing that, Heyes and Kid looked at each other confusedly.

"What'd you get Emily?" Heyes asked carefully.

Emily's Pa answered for her by pointing a rifle at the two ex-outlaws. "She got YOU."

"What do you mean?" Kid asked raising his hands.

Pa motioned for one of his companions to relieve the both of them of their six-guns. "I mean, I saw you too in the saloon last night and overheard you talking about leaving today, so I came out here to wait for you. I didn't want to chance you getting nervous and running when you saw me, so I got Emily to pretend she was lost. I told her what you, your horses, and your hats looked like so she'd know who to stop. That black hat's pretty easy to spot."

"How many times I told you to get rid of that antique hat of yours," Kid hissed. Heyes ignored him and looked at Pa.

"Mister, I don't know who you think we are, but..."

"Save your speech Mister HEYES. I know perfectly well who you and your partner are." Another of Pa's companions started tying their hands behind their back.

Heyes started to protest, but just managed to ask, "How? How do you know that for sure?" Those wanted poster descriptions could match half the population of the western part of the country."

"Because I seen you before. See, a while back, I lived in a little place named Junction City. And guess what. I saw two guys bring in some bank robbers. Then I found out, that they were really Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. And THEN, guess what. They just up and disappeared. I didn't never hear what happened to them. But I found out last night in that saloon. So, I figured to get me an easy twenty thousand dollars. Now, my boys here are gonna help you on your horses and then, we gonna take a ride back to Black Rock."

"You know mister. That was pretty low to use your daughter like that. How did you know we wouldn't just shoot our way out of here?" Kid spat out as he was helped into his saddle.

"Oh she was all for helping...after I told her all the toys and candy twenty thousand dollars could buy." Pa ignored the rest of Curry's statement. 
"Mount up boys. We got some money to collect!"

oooasjooo

The short ride back into town wasn't eventful. The opportunity never arose for an escape. They made it to the Sheriff's office right at sundown. "Alright you two. Get down. The rest of you boys stay out here and watch Emily." Pa then led Heyes and Kid into the jailhouse.

After they were safely confined in their cell, Heyes commenced to his usual pacing. "Didn't I tell you Kid? Didn't I tell you something wasn't right about that situation?"

"Well, you knew we couldn't just leave her. Her Pa figured on that too. That was one dirty, lowdown trick."

"Yeah. Well, it just goes to show you."

"What's that?"
"That no good deed goes unpunished."

oooasjooo

"You did WHAT?!" Madeline Walker paced angrily in front of her husband seated at the kitchen table.

"I captured Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry", Paul Walker said.

"THAT'S not the part I'm mad about", Madeline yelled, slamming her hands down on the table. "I'm mad because you used our DAUGHTER as BAIT! How could you do such a thing?! She coulda been hurt or killed! Those two are OUTLAWS!"

"Outlaws that never killed nobody. I knew they wouldn't hurt her. All the stories I've heard of their robberies, seems they're apparently pretty polite, especially to the ladies."

"You didn't know that for sure! There could always be a first time. What if they had just decided to take her with them, hold her for ransom?!"

"I tell you they just don't seem to be the type to do such things. I mean, you yourself, saw how they acted in Junction City."

"I still can't believe you had the gall to do such a thing just to get a little money."

"Its not 'just a little money'. Its twenty thousand dollars!"

"I don't care if its twenty MILLION! Its not worth putting our daughter in danger!

"Maddie..."

"Don't you 'Maddie' me, mister! I think it best you go find yourself something to do outside for a while!"

"Alright FINE! But I'll bet you'll be changing your tune when that twenty thousand dollars gets here!" Paul got up and left the house, headed for the barn.

Madeline turned to look out the window at Emily playing outside. Her little Emily, used like a pawn in a game of chess. If Madeline would admit it, she, herself, didn't think Curry or Heyes would've hurt a little girl. She'd heard the stories too, a few of them being of kindness the two outlaws had shown to people. She even heard a rumor or two that they were trying to go straight. But that wasn't the point she reminded herself. You don't use children, especially your own, for such purposes. She watched as Emily caught a butterfly, then seconds later, let it go free. Thoughts of retribution crept into her mind. 'Somebody needs to be taught a lesson', she thought as a slight smile played along her lips. 'And I know just what I'm gonna do'...

oooasjooo

Hannibal Heyes paced relentlessly inside the jail cell. 

"Heyes, will you PLEASE give the floor a rest?! You're gonna wear a groove straight to Hell if you don't sit down." Kid Curry was fast becoming a nervous wreck.

"We gotta get out of here Kid and you know I do my best scheming when I'm pacing." Heyes started yet another circuit.

"Why can't you do your best schemin’ sittin’ down being quiet?" Kid mumbled to himself pulling his hat further over his eyes. Heyes began his three hundredth lap.
"Alright. Let's see. Maybe if we could indulge the deputy..." Heyes' thought process was interrupted when someone burst into the sheriff's office.

"Sheriff, SHERIFF!" a high pitched female voice cried frantically.

"WHAT?!" the sheriff replied, nearly falling out of his chair. "What's wrong with you, Mrs. Walker?! You sound like you got the devil himself on your heels!"

"Haven't you heard?!" Madeline said breathlessly.

"Heard what?"

"That a bounty hunter is chasing Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry just south of here!"

"No he ain't. Heyes and Curry are sitting right back there in that cell."

"I don't think so Sheriff! You see, as I was on my way into town, this horse about ran me and my little mare over when it flew into the road from a side trail. The rider stopped to apologize, but said that he had to run. He was on the trail of Heyes and Curry and he was needing to get some help. I told him those two were already in jail and he said, 'no ma'am, that they just ran out of some town, and that he was going to get that bounty money, and that it was too bad I wasn't a man on account of he woulda split that reward money with me if I had helped him catch them."

"You don't say," the sheriff said looking back towards his two guests. "How far away you think he is now?"

"Well, I really can't say. But he did mention that he hated he had to stop to do...uh...his 'business'. I wasn't too far out of town when he ran into me."

"Hmm...," the sheriff appeared deep in thought. "Maybe I'll go check that out. If I catch up with him, maybe he'll split that money with me!"

"What about those two back there?"

"Well, I guess they should stay there for now, just in case that fellow was just telling you a big story. When I find him and come back, then I'll let them go, AFTER I find out for sure. If you'll excuse me, Mrs. Walker." The sheriff grabbed his hat and ran out the door.

When Madeline was satisfied he was gone, she started looking through his desk and around the office. Not finding what she was looking for, she hurried back to the cell area. "Uh, excuse me, Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry."

"Ma'am?" Heyes strolled over to the bars while Kid pushed himself off the board that passed as a bunk.

"Well, uh, I do know who you are since my husband is the one responsible for your current predicament. I'm Madeline"

"I'm sorry to hear that Ma'am." Kid punched Heyes in the arm upon hearing that response.

"Sorry?" she asked.

"Sorry that you're married to that, uh, particular person," Heyes tried to put it politely that he saw the man as scum for using his daughter in such a way.

"That's okay," Madeline smiled. "My mother tells me the same thing! Anyway, I was looking for the keys to the cell out there but I can't find them. Any idea where they might be?"

"I suppose you checked the desk and everywhere?" Kid asked.

"Yes, I checked all over."

"Well, Ma'am, if you would be so nice as to bring me my gun belt, I can get this door open without the key," Heyes grinned at her.

"Just bring both gun belts," Kid interjected.

Madeline retrieved the boys affects and returned to the cell. "Here."

Heyes immediately turned his gun belt over and retrieved the lock pick he had stuck to the underside of it.

"How long you had that there?" Kid asked, looking surprised.

"Since the last time we were 'mistakingly' arrested!" Heyes set to work on the door. A couple of minutes later, he had it open.

"Wow. That was quick," Madeline said somewhat impressed.

"Well, practice makes perfect," Heyes smiled. "Just one thing Ma'am. Why are you here helping us?"

"Mr. Heyes, is it?"

"Yes Ma'am. I'm Heyes, he's Curry."

"Well, Mr. Heyes, it  was an absolute DEPLORABLE thing my husband did in capturing you. I just couldn't, and still don't, believe that he would use our daughter in such a way. And even though I do believe that criminals should be punished for their crimes, no offense by the way, I don't think he deserves one penny of that reward money."

"No offense taken, Ma'am. And just for the record, we're trying to go straight. We haven't robbed in over a year now."

"I'm glad to hear that. I had heard rumors."

"Ma'am?" Kid started. "Won't you be gettin’ yourself in a mess of trouble by doin’ this? We don't want to be responsible for any punishment you might get."

"Don't worry, Mr. Curry. The sheriff is dense enough that he'll just think he lost the bounty hunter. And my husband won't do anything except get mad. He's too afraid of his father-in-law to hurt me physically in any way. Besides, you know what they say about good deeds."

"Yeah, they don't go unpunished," Heyes finished. "Ma'am, we sincerely appreciate what you're doing and someday, maybe we can repay you in some way."

"You're welcome, Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry." Madeline shook both their hands. "Now, you better get while the gettin's good."

"We won't forget this," Kid said as they made a swift exit out the back door.

"I won't either," Madeline replied softly as she watched them go with a smile. "I won't either."

_________________
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InsideOutlaw

InsideOutlaw

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

No Good Deed... Empty
PostSubject: Re: No Good Deed...   No Good Deed... EmptyFri Aug 23, 2019 10:00 am

“No good deed goes unpunished, Curry,” the sheriff sneered as he swung the heavy iron cell door shut with an oppressive clank.  He secured the lock and put the keys in his chest pocket with a flourish.


A resigned sigh escaped from the Kid’s lips despite his best efforts to ignore the taunt.  His eyes scanned the small cage noting the lumpy, stained mattress dressed with a thin, tattered blanket and no pillow before they came to rest on a none-too-clean pail tucked into one corner.  The cell next door was even worse.


“You would’ve gotten clean away if’n you hadn’t pulled up like that,” continued the portly lawman as he went to his desk and sat down.  Settling in comfortably, he leaned back and crossed his boots, resting them up on a corner of the scarred surface while studying his famed prisoner.  He and the missus sure were going to enjoy spending that ten grand.  They’d get themselves outta this hellhole backwater and maybe get them a place on the beach in San Francisco, watch the tall ships come in and out of the harbor.  He smiled contentedly and leaned further back.


Bedsprings squealed as Curry sat down on the protesting bunk facing his jailer, his penetrating blue eyes drilling into the sheriff’s pale gray ones.  “You sayin’ I shoulda run down that woman and her boy?”


“Why not?” shrugged the older man.  “Wouldn’t be the first time you killed in cold blood now would it?”  


There was no point in continuing the conversation as far as the Kid was concerned.  He lay down and stared at the cracked ceiling.  He’d never be able to convince the sheriff he had a strong moral code when it came to killing and had never killed except in self-defense. His widespread notoriety had destroyed any chance he’d ever had of explaining. 


“Guess you and Heyes ain’t as tight as folks say you are.  He never broke stride when you stopped.  Nosiree, left you in the dust, he did.”


The Kid ignored him.  He knew Heyes would circle back and bust him out.  All he had to do was be patient and keep his mouth shut.  Two things he was very, very good at.


“Ain’t no honor amongst thieves, that’s what my mama used to say.  Yep, Heyes is probably in some saloon by now whoopin’ it up with the rest of the gang.”  The gray eyes narrowed watching Curry and hoping for a reaction.  Not receiving one, the lawman prattled on.  “What does he care you might hang?”  He gloated at the tiny fraction of a flinch he detected.  “That’s right, boy, folks ‘round here work hard for their money.  Banks don’t print their own cash, you know, it’s the sweat of good people that fills their coffers and right now those same good people are thinkin’ up ways to break in here and stretch that skinny neck of yours.  Who knows, I just might let ‘em do it.”


“You mind piping down, Sheriff?  I’d like to get some shuteye.”


“Shuteye?  Ha.  You ain’t hearin’ what I’m sayin’, Curry.  You might just be gettin’ all the shuteye you need soon and your partner don’t give a damn.”


“I heard you.”  Heyes would be coming up with a scheme right now.  The Kid hoped he kept it simple.  The sooner the better if this chatty sheriff didn’t clam up.


“How’d you two partner up, anyways?” 


The Kid laced his hands behind his head and thought back to those hot, dusty days of his childhood.  He and Heyes had been normal kids, no different from the other farmers’ sons they’d grown up with in rural Kansas.  Full of mischief and high spirits.  Then the war had come along and none of them had been normal after that.  He and Heyes had ended up in an orphanage fighting to survive amongst a whole bunch of angry, deprived kids.  It had changed them a lot.  They’d learned how to fight back, how to win the upper hand  by force or by wit;  they’d learned that authority wasn’t always for the good of the many; they’d learned that you had to stand up for yourself and take what you needed.  
Little had they known they’d had it better than others with a roof over their heads and three squares.  Then they’d aged out of the orphanage and onto the street.  Everyone’d been starvin’ for food and work.  They’d tried begging at first but it hadn’t taken them long to figure out no one was gonna help two scrawny boys who could barely pull their weight.  At the time, it’d only seemed like one small step across the line between honesty and stealing.  Heck, it hadn’t been a step at all; he and Heyes had literally plunged headlong right over that line. 


“Ain’t talkin’, huh?  Well, I guess you’re right pissed Heyes rode off and left you.  I know I’d be.  All that time you bein’ his hired gun and keepin’ him safe and he ups and dumps your ass.”


Curry shifted onto his side, turning his back to the sheriff.  If only he could plug his ears like a schoolboy.  Heyes better hurry it up.


A light knock tapped on the door distracting both men.


“’Bout time that little gal brought my dinner,” the sheriff grumbled as he swung his feet off the desk and stood up, stretching his back.  He sniffed appreciatively as the fragrant scent of lamb stew permeated the planked door.  “Sorry, Curry, I didn’t have time to send out for somethin’ for you what with all the excitement of the robbery n’ all.”  He crossed to the door and paused with his hand on the butt of his six-gun.  “That you, Maisie?  What took you so long, girl?”


“Sick,” replied a strangely hoarse feminine voice.  


The hungry lawman pulled open the door as he said, “Well, come on in outta the cold and…,” only to find the barrel of Heyes’ own gun pointed right between his eyes.  


The dimpled, dark-haired man pushed through the entrance forcing the sheriff to step back quickly. “That’s right friendly of you, Sheriff!   Why don’t you have a seat and rest a spell?”


“What took you so long?” asked the Kid, standing up and grabbing the bars to his cell door.


Surprised, Heyes looked up and grinned, “I had to pick up dinner.”


Another, much shorter man stepped inside the office behind Heyes holding a bowl of stew.  “Howdy Kid. Heyes n’ me figured you’d be a might peaked by now.”  


“Thanks Kyle,” replied the Kid.  “Pass that through, will you?  We ain’t got much time.”


Kyle slid the bowl through the small opening in the bottom of the door and turned away to take over tying up the sheriff while Heyes searched the man for the keys to the cells.   Curry picked up his dinner and began to wolf it down, chewing quickly as he watched his friends.


“You ain’t gettin’ away with this, Heyes.  I’ll have a posse on you so fast your head’ll spin clear ‘round,” sputtered the lawman as his face grew redder and redder. Heyes plucked the keys from the sheriff’s shirt pocket and went to release his partner.


“I’m tellin’ you, you’re dead meat, Heyes.  You and that baby-faced partner of yours.”


Kyle chuckled at the threat.


“You too, you little…ow!”  


With a hard yank, Kyle finished securing the sheriff to his desk chair.  Satisfied with his handiwork, he seized the back of the chair and dragged it into the empty cell next to the Kid’s just as Heyes unlocked the iron door holding his partner captive.  Curry stepped out.  


“Hold on,” said the Kid to his friends as they crossed to the front door.  He reached up and untied the sweaty bandanna hanging around his neck.  Balling it up, he went into the other cell while the sheriff spewed a steady stream of profanities.  


“I’ll get you three, sure as my name is…agh, ugh…” the dingy cloth plugged up the lawman’s next words as the Kid shoved it into his mouth.


With a broad grin, Curry pulled the door to the cell shut.  “Thanks for the entertainment, Sheriff, but you know what they say…no good deed goes unpunished.” 

_________________
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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RosieAnnieUSA

RosieAnnieUSA

Posts : 431
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 100
Location : Chicago, Illinois, USA

No Good Deed... Empty
PostSubject: Re: No Good Deed...   No Good Deed... EmptyWed Aug 28, 2019 6:18 pm

“Your move.”

“I know. I’m thinking.”

Tom released an impatient sigh. “Well, think faster, will you? We ain’t got all day.”

His friend, Billy, scowled at him across the game board. “Chess is harder’n it looks. I still don’t see why you think we got to learn it. Ain’t checkers good enough for you?”

“Checkers is fine if’n all you want to do with your life is eat dust on a cattle drive.”

“I still don’t see how playing this high-falutin’ game is gonna help us be better lawman,” Billy complained. “Time’s better spent practicing your quick draw, if’n you’re gonna bring in the big-name outlaws.”

“Sheriff Trevors plays chess. He says it’s better’n checkers, because in chess, you got to think at least three moves ahead. He says you learn strategy and tactics, and that’s what you need to outthink the outlaws.” He looked at the board again. “So are you plannin’ to make a move today or not?”

Billy pushed his chair back and stood up. “Not. I’d sooner get on with all the filin’ than give myself a headache over this.” He waved his arm at the piles of paper on the desk. “Though I got to admit, I never knew being a deputy meant so much paperwork.”

“Let’s forget about this game then, alright?” At a nod from Billy, Tom started picking up the chess pieces and putting them neatly away. “We ought to get this paperwork done before the sheriff gets back from lunch with Miss Porter.”

“He’s having lunch with Miss Porter? We got plenty of time to finish up this paperwork then. She’s a looker.” He folded up the chess board and handed it over to his friend.

“You ain’t just whistlin’ dixie. Good-lookin’, rich, and not married.”

“Yeah, I guess – “ both young men turned when they heard the front door to the sheriff’s office open.
“Can I . . . “Tom gulped. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. “Can I help you . . . gentlemen?” He looked over to Billy, who was similarly taken aback.

Two men, weary and trail-worn, their clothes covered in dust and wearing six-guns tied down low on their thighs, stepped into the room.

“We’re looking for Sheriff Trevors,” the dark-haired one said.
 
“He ain’t here right now,” Tom said. The strangers looked at him curiously, and then looked around the office and jail area.

“So it seems. Where is he?”

“He went out for lunch.”

“Where?” the blue-eyed man asked. His stance was familiar to Tom from all the dime novels he’d read. The man was a gunfighter; Tom knew it. And he knew if a gunfighter was looking for the sheriff, then there was real trouble coming.

“To the restaurant.”

“The one two blocks over?” the gunfighter asked. “With the lace curtains?”

Tom nodded. 

The men turned to leave. At the door, the gunfighter looked back at the motionless young men.

“Where’s Deputy Harker?”

“I’m Deputy Harker,” Tom said.

“No. You’re not,” the dark one said. “Not by about 40 years.”

“That’s his grandfather,” Billy blurted. “He’s retired. Tom and me, we’re the deputies now.”

The strangers exchanged a quick glance. “Sheriff needs two deputies now, huh? Must be expecting trouble.”

“Town’s growing,” Tom said. “A lot. Sheriff Trevors, he needs help.”

“And you’re the help?” the gunman asked. He looked the two young men up and down, real slow-like, then shook his head. He opened the door to leave, and the dark-haired man followed him out.

“Sheesh,” Billy breathed out after the door closed. “Who are those two?” He fell back into his chair, as if he was exhausted. “That’s a mean pair.”

“I sure as hell don’t know, but we got to warn Sheriff Trevors.” Tom reached for his hat. “Grab a rifle. If we go out the back door and run down the alleys, we can get to the restaurant first. Them two are bad ‘uns, if I ever seen any.”

00000000000000

“Good heavens! What are they doing here?”

Lom Trevors turned away from his lunch companion to see his two new deputies barge into the restaurant, rifles in hand. He barely had time to scowl at them before they rushed to his table. 

“Sheriff Trevors!”

“Just what do you think you’re doing with those rifles? You expecting the James gang?”

Tom was out of breath. “There’s two gunnies come looking for you. They’re on their way here now. Me and Billy, we come to back you up.”

Caroline Porter put down her fork. 

“Gunmen, you say? Coming here?”

“How’d they know to come here?” Trevors demanded. 

Billy and Tom were at a sudden loss for words.

“You told them I was here?” His deputies’ silence spoke volumes.

“Who were . . .” Trevors was interrupted by Caroline Porter, who stood up and discreetly waved at the entrance.

“Mr. Smith! Mr. Jones! What a wonderful surprise to see you here!”

Trevors pointed at the new arrivals with his knife. “Are those two the gunnies you’re talking about?”

“Yes, sir, Sheriff,” came the simultaneous answer.

“You boys lower those weapons and go back to the office. I’m expecting the filing will be done when I get back. Clear?” Both deputies nodded vigorously and beat a hasty retreat. Smith and Jones approached the table, broad smiles illuminating their dirty faces.

“I hope we’re not interrupting anything, Lom,” Smith said. “Miss Porter.” He bowed from the waist. Caroline put her hand over her mouth and giggled. Trevors rolled his eyes. 

“Why don’t you two sit down before you fall down? You look done in.”

“Don’t mind if we do, Lom. We have been through a spell. And seeing you here, Miss Porter, is an unexpected pleasure. I apologize if we’re interrupting a personal conversation.”

“Caroline and I were discussing her bank. There’s nothing personal in that.” 

“Sorry we’re not real presentable,” Jones said. “We stopped in at your office to check in with you, Lom, and them deputies of yours told us where to find you. We figured to get a hotel room and some lunch after.”

“Not exactly in that order, if I know you, K – I mean, Jones,” Lom said. “That ain’t your reputation.”

“What is his reputation, Lom?” Miss Porter asked.

Trevors hemmed and hawed, to the barely-disguised amusement of Smith and Jones. Smith took pity on the tongue-tied sheriff.

“That he’s good at his job, Miss. And that his work always comes first, which is why we looked up Lom before taking care of private matters. I’m sure you realize that, after our initial acquaintance.”

“Indeed I do,” she said. “And you too, Mr. Smith. Your help and knowledge of security procedures was invaluable to me.” A thoughtful look crossed her face. “And it might be again. Lom, don’t you think their banking experience might be helpful in my current situation?”

Trevors stared at the two men, who only looked politely curious. “I don’t know about that.”

“Gentlemen, I may have a proposal for you, but I need to think about it more. Can we speak tomorrow?” She stood up, and all three men stood too.

“Of course, ma’am. We look forward to it.” Smith said, giving her a pleasant smile. “But we don’t want you to leave without having your lunch.”

“Oh. we’ve already eaten. Why don’t you stay and have lunch on me? I’m sure you’re hungry.” They started to protest, but she overruled them with a wave. “No, no. It’s a business expense. Please let me do a good deed for friends.” She took a few steps away, then turned back. “By the way, don’t bother going to any hotel. They’ve been sold out for weeks. Go to the men’s boarding house on 4th Street. It only accepts the highest class of pre-selected gentlemen. I should know, since I own it. Be sure to tell the clerk I sent you.” 

“Ma’am, you are a gem, and a constant surprise,” Heyes told her. “It ain’t often someone does us a good dead, and we appreciate it.”

The men sat down slowly after she left. Trevors signaled a waitress, who filled coffee cups.

“Those are some tough deputies you hired, Lom. Sure intimidated me.”

“Don’t be a jerk, Heyes,” Lom said. “This town’s growing a lot, and I need help, especially since Harker retired. They’ll do good once I finished training them.”

“Here’s hoping you live so long,” Jones said. “They’re awful wet behind the ears, if you ask me.”

“They’re smart enough to know you two are trouble, even if they didn’t know they was face to face with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. They don’t know you’re using Smith and Jones for your aliases.”

“You picked those names out for us, Lom. That’s why we use them.” He took a sip of the hot coffee. “Mmm mmm. I sure needed that.” He waved at the young waitress, who came over with the coffee pot. “Miss, whatever you recommend for lunch, bring two servings of it. And maybe one more for my friend.” 

“Is that all, sir?” Her look lingered on Curry’s blue eyes, visible through the coating of dust on his face.

“For now. Thanks.” She tore herself away reluctantly. 

“Don’t you ever stop, Kid?” Trevors asked. “You’ve been here five minutes, and you’ve already got some young girl swooning.” Curry only shrugged.

“If I might change the subject, Lom – you got any good news for us?” Trevors hesitated. Heyes and Curry put their cups down. Their shoulders sank and their smiles faded.

“Now don’t be like that, boys. No news is good news, right? The deal’s still on. Just keep walking the straight and narrow path like you been doing. One small step after another, that’s all it takes. You’ll get there.”

Heyes folded his hands on the table. “That’s what we’ve been doing for three years now. One small step, then another, then another, and every so often, what feels like a giant leap. But we still haven’t gotten anywhere. We’re where we were when we started. It’s a mite discouraging, that’s all.”

“I know it is, Heyes. I do know. But what’s the alternative? You ain’t going back on the owlhoot trail. Are you?”

Both men shook their heads. “No,” Heyes said. “This honest way of life, it’s kind of habit-forming. You learned that your own self.”

“I did.” Trevors looked at them, taking in their threadbare clothes and drawn faces. “Now that I’ve given you the news, what’re your plans?”

“Just to rest up a couple days. And to make a deposit in Miss Porter’s 404.”

Trevors’ eyes widened in surprise. “You’ve got money? Honest money?”

Heyes put one hand to his chest. “I’m hurt, Lom. Truly hurt. Yes, we do. Between so-called security jobs that no one in his right mind would take, and a profitable stay playing poker in a couple mining towns, we got ourselves a decent stake. And being the honest- hard-working citizens we are, we want to put that money in a bank.”

“Especially one that’s got a safe even Heyes couldn’t crack,” Curry added. 

“Hmmph.” Trevors considered. He looked at the earnest faces looking back at him. 

“Alright, boys. You want to stay in town a couple days, rest up, and clean up – at least, I  hope you want to clean up – I got no problem with that. Just stay out of trouble, alright? I got enough problems on my hands already. Town’s booming right now, what with all the cattlemen sending their herds to Wyoming for grazing. Lots of newcomers in town, and they ain’t all inclined to be peaceable.”

“Which is why you got two deputies now,” Curry said.

“Which is why I got two deputies. I could use more, but there ain’t enough experienced men. There’s more money working for the cattlemen. Law enforcement ain’t the way to making big money.”

“Not for an honest lawman anyway.” At Trevors’ hardened expression, Heyes hurried to apologize. “Of course, we’re not talking about you, Lom. You’re as honest as the day is long. Me and Kid, we’ve had a few run-ins with men who use their tin badge like it was a license to be a crook.”

“Sure have,” Kid agreed in a quiet voice. “A badge ain’t a guarantee that the man wearing it is honest.”

Trevors backed off. “Yeah. I’ve seen a few, I’m sorry to say. A few bad apples can ruin the whole barrel.”

“Getting back to what we were saying earlier, we’re going to check into Miss Porter’s boarding house, get clean, and maybe look for a little work.”

“Here? In Porterville?”

Heyes nodded. “Sure. Why not? Miss Porter might have something for us. You heard her say so, didn’t you? We can’t quit working, just because we’re beat.”

“Yeah.” Trevors didn’t look happy at the prospect but couldn’t find it in himself to object. His lunch companions looked worn out and discouraged, in a way he hadn’t seen before. And they had done everything he, and the governor, had asked them to do, no matter how hard or dangerous it was.
 
“Good. We’re all agreed then. And here comes lunch, just in time. Kid was about to eat his hat.”

“I guess so. We’re agreed,” Trevors said. He watched them dig into their meals as if neither had eaten for a week. Caroline Porter was right when she offered to do them a good deed. He could do the same. Even as he was getting used to the idea, an old saying came to mind – “no good deed goes unpunished.” He could only hope it wasn’t true.
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