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 Her

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Join date : 2013-08-24

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PostSubject: Her   Her EmptyFri May 01, 2020 5:45 am

Time for a new prompt, and it's another one word challenge. Your challenge is;
puppy kiss
 Her
cowboy 6


 It can be about a female of any species, she can be loved, hated, influential in some way, a memory, a dream or anything else your imaginative minds can conjure up.




Don't forget to comment on uk_Rachel74's story, as comments are the only thanks our writers get. Now time to start writing!     
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uk_rachel74

uk_rachel74

Posts : 52
Join date : 2019-09-15
Age : 46
Location : United Kingdom

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PostSubject: Re: Her   Her EmptyFri May 01, 2020 7:21 am

HER
This is a bit of a wallow, so apologies.


Curry remembered that when they were children, often the only way anyone could convince young Han to sleep was with the promise of dreams. The Kid on occasion felt the battle wasn't that much different now. Before, Han used to talk excitedly to his best friend about what he'd seen in his dreams, painting pictures of a future filled with amazing things. After, it seemed his dreams were more full of memory than future plans. These days Kid knew, he dreamt a mixture of both and when the mood took them, Kid could still listen happily to the sound of his partner recounting colourful stories of their past or be entertained by the exciting tales he spun of their possible future.

Curry didn't think he dreamt that often, least if he did , he couldn't remember them. Usually it was only in times of great stress that the dreams stayed with him and he rarely welcomed the pictures his mind conjured up.

The only time he really understood the pull of dreams was when he was gifted the memory of her. Awake he sometimes struggled to recall exactly what she'd looked like, she was there in his mind, but always in shadow, as if she were frightened of his other darker, more recent memories, although in life, he remembered she had rarely been afraid of anything. But in these occasional dreams,  his sleeping mind would allow him to remember her with almost perfect clarity.

In these dreams he could hear again her warm laugh, see her cornflower blue eyes dancing when she smiled, listen to her voice which held an echo of her father's lilt, still feel the soothing touch that had comforted his younger self, when another escapade had led to bruised knees and a sore backside. In the safety of sleep he remembered her in bright colour, with no shadow in front. He felt again in awe  of her fiery stubborn streak, that outstripped even his Pa's. It was as if in these dreams she were by his side and he always found waking difficult after, his mind and body reluctant to leave the vividness of his memories behind.

Heyes always seemed to know and usually on the day after one of those dreams, he was at his most silver tongued, painting pictures with his voice of the Kansas plains, their small homesteads, the huge fish in the creek that had run not far from their houses. It was on these days that Curry hung avidly onto his every word as they helped him keep  the crystal clear image of her with him for just a little while longer.
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington

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PostSubject: Re: Her   Her EmptyMon May 18, 2020 9:23 am

Denver, Colorado. Spring 1874


Hannibal Heyes entered the hat shop next to the bank.

Mrs. Durant noticed him as soon as he stepped into her establishment, since it wasn’t often that a man dared to enter this women’s domain on his own.

“Excuse me, ladies,” she whispered to the mother and daughter with whom she had been attending. “I better see to this gentleman, before he turns tail and runs for the safety of the saloon.”

Three sets of feminine eyes showed appreciation, not only for the comment, but for the gentleman in question.

“Who is he?” Mrs. Markham queried. “He is quite handsome, and the perfect age for Elspeth.  What do you think, dear? Is he worth pursuing?”

“Oh, mother, please,” Elspeth averted her gaze, as a pink blush rose in her face. “Why must you see every man as a possible suitor? You know Mr. Conroy has been showing interest.”

A maternal sigh followed this statement. “Mr. Conroy. You can do much better than him, my dear.”

Elspeth rolled her eyes and returned to scrutinizing her image in the mirror, wishing her complexion would return to normal.

Mrs. Durant brushed her hand on Mrs. Markham’s arm. “I’ll be right back. Feel free to try on any of the hats.”

“Of course. No hurry. We have all afternoon.”

Mrs. Durant took her leave and approached the hapless gentleman, who gazed about the shop with a look of confusion. “Sir.” She smiled her professionalism. “Welcome. May I be of assistance?”

The dimples that responded to her made Mrs. Durant wished she was twenty years younger.

“Oh yes, thank you,” came the baritone response, and three feminine hearts were set a fluttering. “I do feel out of my depth.”

“Quite understandable,” Mrs. Durant assured him. “Are you looking for a hat for your wife?”

“No, no. I’m not married.” Three sets of feminine ears perked. “I have two lovely sisters, and their birthdays are coming up. I thought, perhaps . . .”

“A hat?” Mrs. Durant responded. “Of course. What a lovely gift. Their birthdays are close together?”

“Very close,” Heyes smiled his charm. “They’re twins.”

“Oh my. Well then, yes. You must get them both a hat. How old are they?”

“Eighteen.”

“Ah, yes. A lovely age.” Mrs. Durant gestured toward the section that had attracted Elspeth’s attention. “We have a fine collection of hats for younger ladies right down here.”

The bell over the door announced the arrival of more potential customers, and Mrs. Durant found her attention diverted. “Good afternoon, ladies. I’ll be right with you.”

“Oh, what a shame,” Mrs. Clark complained. “You do appear to be busy. We can come back.”

“Oh, no, no,” Heyes was quick to assure since keeping the shop owner occupied suited his nefarious intentions. “No need for that. I’m in no hurry. I’ll browse around on my own, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh.” Mrs. Durant was relieved and concerned at the same time. She didn’t like leaving new customers unattended, but she was getting over-whelmed, and she knew that men often preferred to do their own shopping. “Yes, of course, Mister?”

“Harden,” Heyes informed her, his wide smile appearing again.

“Mr. Harden,” Mrs. Durant confirmed. “Of course. Feel free to look around. Let me know when you need assistance.”

Heyes nodded. “Ma’am.”

He sauntered off to case the back of the store.

Mrs. Durant turned to her new customers.

Ten minutes later, she was still busy with the six women, who all were having trouble deciding what hats would go best with what outfit. They chattered back and forth, trying on various colors and styles, while Mrs. Durant assisted with suggestions and compliments.

The gentleman in her shop had been pushed from her thoughts, until a niggling in her business owner’s sense sprung him back to mind again.

Where has that gentleman gone?

“Excuse me, ladies,” she interrupted her group. “I should go check on—” Her comment was drowned out by the front doorbell, and two more ladies entered the shop. Oh dear. It never rains but it pours.

And again, the gentleman was forgotten about.

***
The cash register sent out a continuous dinging and ringing, as all the ladies converged upon the front counter in one cluster.

“Oh, Elspeth, what a lovely hat you have chosen.”

“It is pretty, isn’t it? It’ll be perfect to wear with my frock at the picnic lunch tomorrow.”

“Indeed, it will,” Mrs. Clark agreed. “And, I’m sure Mr. Conroy will approve.”

“We hardly need to impress Mr. Conroy,” Mrs. Markham commented. “Elspeth could show up at the picnic wearing an oat sack on her head, and he’d think it was the latest fashion.”

Tinkering laughter made the rounds.

The cash register ca’chinged.

“You have a lovely hat there, yourself, Mrs. Arlo. Oh! And you’re getting the handbag and gloves to go with it. Just right for Sunday services.”

“Yes, I thought so, as well.”

Ca’ching, ca’ching.

“I have a thought, ladies. Let’s all meet at Florence’s Soda Shop for an afternoon treat. It’s the perfect day for it.”

“What a lovely idea. Yes, let’s do.”

“We can catch up on all the gossip. Let’s do.”

Ca’ching, ca’ching.

Finally, the bell over the front door signaled the departure of the horde, and Mrs. Durant breathed a sigh of relief. It’s wonderful when business is good, but it would be easier if it spread itself out a bit.

She frowned. Now, where is he? Surely, I would have heard him, if he’d left. She came around the counter and started toward the back. “Mr. Harden? Are you back there?”

“Yes,” came the lovely baritone, followed by the gentleman himself. “I believe I have found just what I wanted.” He proved the statement by holding up two frilly hats with matching handbags. “What do you think of my selection?”

“Very nice, indeed, Mr. Harden. And they say men have no taste.”

Heyes smiled and came forward to pay. “I certainly hope my sisters will like these. Young ladies can be so difficult to buy for.”

“You have the knack. I’m sure they’ll be pleased. Would you like them in one big box, or two small ones?”

“Oh, two small ones, please. That way, they can each open a parcel.”

“Of course. What a very considerate brother you are, Mr. Harden.”

“Thank you. I do try.”

The sale was completed, and Heyes headed for the exit, the layout of this shop, and how it pertained to the bank next door, perfectly embedded in his photographic memory.

Mrs. Durant sighed, as she watched the broad shoulders and slender hips walking away. Oh my. Oh, to be a young maiden again.
***
Heyes returned to drop off his purchases at the hotel room.

The Kid was just getting ready to leave on his own errands, and he frowned upon seeing the two hat boxes. “What are they for?”

“Just a diversion,” Heyes tossed them on the bed. “That hat shop will be a lot easier to break into than the bank. Safer too, since there’s no night light over the entrance. The back door opens right onto the alley, same as the bank’s. We’ll have no problem getting in that way.”

“Good. As long as we don’t trip over ourselves in the dark. I still don’t like the idea of using nitro.”

Heyes sighed; they’d been over this so many times. “How are your plans going?”

“Goin’ ta meet up with Wheat, right now. They’re all eager ta get this done.”

“I hope so. This is important. I don’t want them knee-walking drunk right when we need them to be alert.”

“I know,” Kid said. “Give ‘em some credit, will ya? I know they ain’t the brightest bunch, but they know this is a big haul. They ain’t gonna mess that up.”

“Hmm, I suppose. Okay, I’m off. See you at supper.”

“Yup.”
***
Heyes entered the mercantile and made a point of studying the list of supplies that were written out upon a ragged slip of paper. He permitted a confused expression to mask his face, as he stopped, frowned and scratched his head. Glancing up, he noticed the clerk watching him, so he approached the counter to discuss business.

“Howdy,” he greeted the merchant, adopting a down-home, good-ole’-boy, accent.

“Howdy, young fella. Can I help you find some things?”

“Ah, yeah, ya sure can. I just got hired up at the mine, and the boss, he sent me inta town ta pick up a few things.”

“Oh yes? Which mine?”

Heyes’ expression went blank. He shrugged. “I donno. There’s more’n one?”

The clerk smiled. Obviously, his customer wasn’t too bright. “Yes sir. There are a number of mines in operation in those mountains. Do you remember your boss’ name?”

Another shrug. “Boss.”

“This could be a problem,” the clerk commented. “All the mines have a running tab here, and I bill them at the end of the month. If you don’t know which mine you’re working at, how will I know which company to bill for the goods?”

“Huh?”

“Who’s going to pay for this?”

“Oh. No worries. The boss, he gave me money. I hope it’s enough.”

“Ah. Fine. What supplies do you need?”

Heyes looked at the list and scratched his head again. “I donno. I can’t read. Can you read?”

“Yes, I can read.” The clerk offered to take the list. “Let me help you find these items.”

Heyes frowned and held the list close. “Oh, I donno if I should hand this over to ya.” He lowered his voice. “I think the boss is testin’ me, seein’ if I can be trusted ta do the job. I mean, look it at this here list. There’s only,” he frowned again, scrutinizing the symbols on the paper, “well, there ain’t many things on it.”

The clerk glanced at the list. “There’s five items on this list.”

“Five?”

“Yes.”

“How many is that?”

“Ahh . . . not many.”

Heyes brightened, a grin splitting his face. “See? Now why would he send me all the way inta town fer not many things? Oh, unless these not many things are in large amounts.” Panic threatened to take over. “But he didn’t give me no wagon. Just my horse. How am I suppose ta get this stuff back to the mine if there’s lots of it?”

By this time, the clerk had slipped the list from Heyes’ fingers and was running a knowledgeable eye over it. “You’ll be fine. You’ll be able to pack these things in your saddlebags.” He frowned. “Hmm. Nitro. You ever handled nitro before?”

Heyes shrugged. “I donno. What is it?”

“It’s a liquid explosive.”

“Oh. There be such a thing?”

“Yes. Miners use it to clear away the larger rocks and such.”

“Oh. Is it dangerous?”

“It can be, if not handled properly.”

“Oh. I’ll be careful with it. I don’t wanna let my boss down. If’n he is testin’ me, then I’m gonna do a good job for ‘im.”

“Hmm.” The clerk cocked a brow. “All right. Wait here, and I’ll get these items for you.”

“Yes sir.”

The clerk moved off, and Heyes settled in to wait.

“That gentleman is correct,” said a feminine voice at Heyes’ elbow. “Nitro is dangerous for someone not accustomed to handling it.”

Heyes glanced to his left, and his heart skipped a beat.

Large green eyes looked up at him, and an eyebrow cocked from under thick, auburn bangs. The rest of her luxurious mane was appropriately scooped back in a bun, and a light blue hat with just the right amount of lace completed the enticing portrait. Perhaps there was a place in the world where her features and coloring were common, but surely not here, in the West.

Heyes was mesmerized.

“What is the matter, Monsieur? Are you incapable of speech?”

“What? Oh, no. I—”

“I truly think it would be unwise for you to handle nitro, Monsieur,” the goddess recommended. “Perhaps mining is not the right job for you?”

His smile widened. “I’ve handled nitro before, ma’am. It’s not a problem. You’re French? So am I—well, half, anyway. On my mother’s side.”

Her shoulders tightened along with her eyebrow. “I am not French. My family comes from Scotland and Ireland.”

Heyes frowned. “Oh. I thought the accent—”

“You’re certainly nosy, for an errand boy. And speaking of accents, you seem to have lost yours.”

“Oh.” Heyes glanced around for the clerk and was relieved to see that he was still in the back room, collecting the supplies. “It comes and goes.”

“I see.” She cast a look to the clerk, then sighed with frustration. “Apparently the clerk is too busy dealing with your order. I’ll return later. Good day.”

Heyes felt panic hit him, as she turned and walked away. “Oh. But I won’t be much longer. No need to rush off.”

“I must. Busy day.”

“But . . . may I call on you? What is your name?”

She turned and gave him a haughty look. “Call on me? I should certainly say not. We have not even been introduced.”

“But . . . wait . . .”

She turned her back and left the store.

Heyes smiled, watching her petite figure disappearing out the doorway. What am I thinking? I don’t have time for this. Oh, but if I did, what a glorious chase that would be.

“Here you are, sir, everything on your list.”

Startled out of his fantasy, Heyes turned too quickly and brushed against the bottle of nitroglycerin.

The clerk sucked his teeth and snatched the bottle just as it tipped. “Careful. Let me get this wrapped in some baton and secured in a box. We don’t want to blow up my store now, do we?”

“Yeah. Sorry. It sure don’t look dangerous,” Heyes returned to the vernacular. “It could be a bottle ‘a water, fer all I know.”

“Hmm, yes.”

“Say, who was that lady that was just in here? The red-head?”

“Red-head?” the clerk asked, as he packaged up the order. “I don’t recall any red-heads living in the area.”

Heyes couldn’t help the disappointment.

“However,” the clerk continued with a hint of disdain in his tone, “I hear there is a theatrical troupe in town. Perhaps she’s one of them.”

Heyes’ interest piqued. Maybe she wasn’t too high above him, after all. “Theatrical troupe? They gonna be puttin’ on a show?”

“I would expect so. I don’t dally in such things. And if you were wise, you’d be more concerned with keeping your mind on the job at hand.”

Heyes smiled. Inadvertently, the clerk had reminded him of why he and his gang were in Denver in the first place.

“Yup, I suppose ya got a point there,” he agreed, as he paid for the goods. “Thanks.”

“Good day to you.”

Heyes gathered his supplies, including the box of nitro, and headed for the door. What would I do with a woman like that anyway? She would be a pointless conquest, and I have bigger plans for the night.

But the smile lingered as he headed for the hotel. But then again, why not? We'll have time, and it'll be a nice diversion. Help to settled the nerves. Besides, it's ages since I've been to the theater. Yeah, why not?
***
When she had walked into the Mercantile, the voice she heard was pleasant enough, but the uneducated accent had put her off. She was an intelligent woman, and she had always been attracted to that same trait in a man. His physical appearance didn’t matter, nor did the size of his pocketbook, but he better have some gray matter between the ears, or she was not interested.

She spoke to the man at the counter only out of courtesy. She had truly been concerned for his safety. He was obviously an uneducated lout. If he’d had any education at all, it was likely he had been pulled out of school to work his family farm or some such. He apparently had no idea how to handle nitroglycerin. She felt it was within her duty, as a concerned adult, to warn him of its dangers.

Then he had turned those chocolate eyes upon her, and his smile lit up his handsome face. It was all she could do to keep the breath in her body.

Then he spoke.

The uneducated lout was gone, to be replaced by a rich baritone smoldering with intelligence and sudden sex appeal.
She focused on keeping her composure. She wished her heart to slow its beating, her palms to stop sweating. Hopefully, her voice had not quivered.

He was beautiful, and he was looking at her. He was interested, she could tell. But she couldn’t go there, not now. It was too soon. Besides, they had not been formally introduced.

She removed herself from his presence as soon as it deemed civil.

And she walked away.
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chelseagirl



Posts : 42
Join date : 2018-03-02
Age : 58
Location : New York, NY

Her Empty
PostSubject: Re: Her   Her EmptyThu May 21, 2020 3:56 am

I haven't been doing much with fanfic lately, but when I saw this month's challenge, I couldn't help myself. I've been playing around with the idea of the spinster in the 19th century. They're so often mocked and derided, and I think part of that is that spinsters and widows were uncontained by men -- legally, a married woman was a "feme covert" -- a covered woman, whose existence was subsumed by her husband's. A woman who didn't need a man upset the order of things.

This is one of the Blue Sky stories, so it's post-amnesty; Heyes and Curry are both married and run a security services agency.  It's the first part of a mystery story I've set aside for far too long, and I'm hoping you all will encourage me to finish it!  The "Her" in the story is the eponymous character, Millicent.


Millicent


Kid Curry looked down the main street of Blue Sky, Montana – rather unimaginatively called Main Street – searching for something in the distance.  “So Sandy was tellin’ me Ella was meetin’ that friend of hers at the train this afternoon.  The other lady lawyer?  Looks like that’s them.”

Hannibal Heyes nodded.  “Yeah.  Her name’s Millicent something.  Practices law in Helena.  Guess she came along a couple of years ago, when we were living down in Colorado.  Now that Ella’s back in Montana, they’re both just thrilled to have the company.”

The Kid watched as two figures grew larger as they came nearer.  “If we hadn’t met Ella first, before we knew there was such a thing as a lady lawyer?  I think this Miss Millicent is what I would’ve imagined they looked like.”

The two women who drew closer to them were walking arm in arm, laughing as they came.  They were both tall and slim, but that was the extent of the resemblance.  Heyes’ wife Ella was gracefully slender and attractive, with prettily arranged fair hair and blue eyes that were darker than Kid Curry’s.  She wore a fashionable emerald green dress, which suited her very well, with a charming little hat, and carried a matching parasol.  Her friend, on the other hand, was skinny and awkward, with mouse brown hair pulled tightly back into a bun.  Her eyes, of no determinate color, were obscured by thick spectacles, and she wore a plain dark skirt and white shirtwaist which did nothing to flatter her meager figure. 

As they drew nearer, however, it was clear that she was smiling pleasantly.  Her eyes, behind their spectacles, glinted with intelligence and humor.  Heyes saw that his wife, never one to feign amusement she didn’t feel, was laughing. 

“Oh, Millie, that’s just too ridiculous.”  Ella put her hand to her mouth as if to stifle the outburst of mirth.  And then she met the eyes of the two former outlaws, with a defiant look that said I know you two and how much you value looks in women and don’t you dare even think what I know you’re thinking right now. “Darling, this is the friend I’ve been telling you about, Miss Millicent Bradley, Esquire.  Millie, this is my husband, Hannibal Heyes, and his partner, Jedediah Curry.”

“You both need no introduction, of course,” said Miss Bradley, in a pleasant alto voice. 

“And Ella’s been full of stories about you, lately,” said Heyes, turning his charm on to its fullest.  “Glad to finally meet you.”

“You’ll be joining us for dinner back at the house?” asked Jed, with a blinding smile, not letting his partner outshine him.  “My wife’s got something special planned, in your honor.”

“That would be delightful,” Miss Bradley said.  “I just need to get settled in the boardinghouse, and Ella has promised to come fetch me afterwards.”

“Where are you staying?” asked Jed, politely.

“It’s owned by two ladies called Betsy and Lou,” Miss Bradley said.

“Kyle lives there,” said Heyes. “One of our . . . well, he works for us.”

“It’s the only place that rents rooms in town,” Ella pointed out.  “Other than the Grand Hotel.  I keep telling Millie she should just stay with us, but she doesn’t want to make more work for Sandy.”

“Oh, Sandy wouldn’t mind,” Jed insisted.  “One more?  She’d hardly even notice.”

“And that,” said Miss Bradley, with just a touch of asperity to her voice, “is exactly why I don’t want to impose on her.  Besides, I’ve already wired the funds to pay for my week in advance.”

“Well, we wouldn’t want to disappoint Miss Betsy and Miss Lou, then, would we?” Heyes attempted to smooth things over.

Jed offered the visitor his arm, which she took, slightly awkwardly, and Heyes did the same with his wife.

“So what were you two talking about?” he asked her, as they walked behind the others. 

“Oh, women’s suffrage, what it’ll mean for the courts here now that Montana’s a state, married women’s property law reform.  You know -- girl talk.”  She winked. 

Heyes smiled fondly at his wife, and shook his head.  He’d always been afraid that settling down might be a bit of a bore. He’d joked, sometimes, that he’d kept things interesting by finding the least domestic woman west of the Mississippi.  Every day was a gamble -- he still wasn’t always sure where his next meal was coming from.  In truth, he was daily grateful that Kid Curry had been smart enough to marry a woman who was a marvelous cook and who considered the Heyeses as part of her own family.  He and Ella had had a deal from the very beginning – neither of them expected to change the other.

But Miss Millicent Bradley looked to be the undiluted version.  She was what Ella might have been, if she hadn’t fallen in love, when she was young.  And if she hadn’t given love a second chance, years later, with him, when neither of them were even looking.  If she hadn’t had a weakness for pretty dresses and novels and poetry, and had stuck only to her law books and to proving to men she could do anything they could do. 

Miss Bradley said something, over her shoulder, and Ella shook her head and let out an unladylike guffaw, this time.  That was when Heyes promised himself that he wouldn’t dismiss Millicent Bradley because of her unprepossessing appearance.  If she could make Ella laugh like that, then she was all right by him.

And then we discover there's been a bank robbery in town.  Half the town's residents expect Heyes and Curry Security Services to figure it out, and the other half think the ex-outlaws probably had something to do with it.  Millicent Bradley teams up with Heyes and Curry to find out who really did it.  Oh, and Kyle finally gets a sweetheart of his own -- not Millicent, though.
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Nebraska Wildfire

Nebraska Wildfire

Posts : 151
Join date : 2016-12-10
Location : The Sonoran Desert

Her Empty
PostSubject: Re: Her   Her EmptySun May 24, 2020 12:00 pm

It was on the train to Buena Agua that he first noticed her.  She was already seated in the car when they boarded at Black Rock.  He glanced around as usual when they entered, exchanging glances with his partner, but they saw no immediate threats.  

She certainly didn’t appear to be any concern, in her dark travel suit, with her severely pulled back hair, fastened tightly in a bun, and thick spectacles on her nose.  Teacher, he assumed, and gave her no more notice.  The Kid had given her even less, as she wasn’t overtly pretty.

It was warm on the train and they had dressed in their best suits, just purchased in Denver.  They were not as comfortable as their usual trail outfits, but it was necessary to look businesslike for their trip to case the bank to work.

As the temperatures rose, Heyes looked around.  Many of the businessmen were taking off their jackets, sitting in just shirtsleeves and vests, some with their ties loosened.  The Kid, noticing the same thing, gave him a look, and Heyes nodded, finally capitulating.  Fitting in was the purpose of this trip.  

Curry’s jacket was shrugged off, neatly folded and set on the overhead rack before his partner even stood.  He smiled and held his hand out to take the other coat, laying it on top of his as Heyes scowled.

“Oh, come on, Elijah.”  He paused as he emphasized the fact that he remembered the aliases they were sporting this time, Elijah Rembacker and Horace Miles.  He wasn’t very happy about the Horace, but was happier with the Miles than the Rembacker.  “It’s warm enough that few folks are keeping on their jackets.”

“Please excuse my partner, ma’am.”  Heyes noticed the woman grimace as Curry spoke.  Proper as she was, she still had her jacket tightly buttoned to her neck, even while keeping her ornate fan in constant motion. He nodded towards a couple of older women towards the end of the car, who had just removed their jackets too.  “But he might be right.”

She didn’t reply, but did smile back, first at him, then at Curry.  She also kept her fan moving, but didn’t remove her jacket.

Heyes shrugged and letting the wind from the open windows dry some of the sweat from his face, pulled out a book to read.  After a few pleasant minutes, the Kid stood.

“I’m going to get something cool to drink.”  He glanced down at his partner.  “You want anything?”

“Hm?”  Heyes came up from his reading.  “No, thanks, Horace.”  He smiled broadly as the Kid scowled.  “I’m fine without.”

As his partner walked away down the car, he glanced over at the teacher.  She had unbuttoned a few of the top buttons on her jacket, but still looked flushed.

“Do you need something cool to drink?”  He smiled at her and she timidly returned the smile, but shook her head.

“If you want to take off your jacket, I don’t think anyone will notice.”  He laughed.  “We’re all warm too.”

“Well.”  She looked around and decided she stood out because she hadn’t removed it yet.  “I suppose it would be cooler.”  

Heyes gave her a last smile and dropped his gaze to his book, so she wouldn’t be so self-conscious.  

She had just stood and stretched on tip toe to place her jacket on the overhead rack when the train lurched.  Heyes jumped up to steady her, hands going firmly around her corseted waist.

“Oh!”  She didn’t pull away, as the carriage was still swaying.  After a moment the track straightened again.  She took a deep breath and looked up into his dark eyes.  “I think you can let go of me now.”

“Oh.”  Heyes looked as surprised as she did that he still had ahold of her.  He backed away a step, but then smiled down at her, holding out his hand.  “Would you like me to set your jacket up on the rack?”

“Yes, please.”  She handed it to him.  He reached around her to neatly place it.  “Thank you.”  She sat back down, a bit flushed, but in control again.  “Mister?”

Heyes started to sit down, but stood back up as he answered.  “Rembacker.  Mr. Elijah Rembacker.  Miss?”  He smiled at her and a dimple come out.

“Miss Grace Morris.”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Morris.”

She smiled back, but then blushed, so he sat back down and was soon again absorbed in his book, until the Kid returned, looking refreshed after his cooling drink.

“Doing fine?”  Heyes asked their coded query to see if his partner noticed any lawmen on the train.

“Just fine.”  The Kid smiled broadly and his partner returned it with a wry grin, before he put his nose back into his book.


The Kid was sleeping, with his hat over his eyes, slouched in his seat, while Heyes continued his reading.  After finishing a chapter, he took a break, putting his finger in the book, as he looked out at the passing landscape.  After a moment he turned back to start on the next page, but his gaze continued on to the young woman sitting across from them.

She too had pulled out something to read.  The book was on her lap, ignored for the moment, as she rested her head against the back of the chair.  The hot wind made wisps of hair dance around her perspiring forehead.  She had taken off her thick spectacles, dangling them in her hand, as she rested, her eyes closed, long lashes resting against her rosy cheeks.  Heyes realized she was actually pretty, out from behind her glasses and with her severe hair loosing in the breeze.  Feeling his gaze upon her, she opened her eyes.  Admiration was still on his face, so she flushed a bit more if that was possible.  She dropped her eyes for a moment, but then returned his look.  Before it became uncomfortable, he smiled at her.

“What book are you reading?”

“Jane Eyre.”

“I’ve not read that.”
“No, I imagine not.”  She looked off wistfully, but then turned back returning his smile.  “What are you reading?”

He held it up.  “Life on the Mississippi.  I kind of like this author.”

“He does have a wisdom that cannot be denied.”  She settled her spectacles back on her nose and tucked her flyaway hair back into its bun.  “Have you been to the Mississippi?”

He nodded.  “A couple of times.”

“I just came across the river at one of the new railroad bridges.”  She flushed a bit again and even behind her glasses he could see her eyes sparkling.  “It was a bit frightening, but still thrilling.”

“That sounds interesting.”  His smile contained a dimple.  “Tell me about it.”


It was an hour later when the conductor announced their arrival at Buena Agua.  Heyes looked at his partner.  

“Hey.”  He nudged Curry, who lifted his hat with one finger, giving his partner a glare, before sitting up straight.  

“I heard.”  The Kid stretched, then stood to retrieve their jackets from the rack.  As he handed Heyes’ coat to him, he turned as Grace stood and stretched, trying to pull hers down too.  He reached easily around her and smiled as he handed it to her.

“Thank you.”

He also lifted down her carpet bag, smiling.  “My pleasure, miss.”  He then turned away from her, meeting Heyes’ look, ready for the work ahead.


After they settled into the hotel, they casually made their way down the street, looking like proper business men, considering the prosperity around them.

“Bank is in the next block.”  Curry murmured to his partner.

“Sheriff is back that way a block.”  Heyes nodded and touched his hat to a couple of passing matrons.

“Far enough?”  Curry glanced over.

“If we don’t make more noise than we should.”

“Gonna keep Kyle back at the Hole?”

“No, just gonna make certain he doesn’t bring any of the ‘good stuff.’”

“Good luck on that.  Last time he had a couple of sticks in his hat.”

A grimace crossed Heyes’ face, but was quickly replaced by a broad dimpled smile, as they approached the bank.  He winked at Curry as he turned the knob of the door and entered, in full confidence mode.  He boldly approached a teller, as the Kid followed closely, observing security measures from the corner of his gaze, while smiling broadly as they approached the wrought iron grates.

“Would the bank manager be available?”  He asked the young man behind the counter.

“What would this pertain to?”  It was evident that while the two men were obviously strangers to the teller, he was impressed by their dress and manner.

“We are looking to open a business here in Buena Agua and would like to see the security measures at the bank, to insure our deposits would be safe.”  Heyes stood up straight and tall.

“Of course, mister?”

“Rembacker.  Elijah Rembacker.”  He smiled over at the Kid.  “And my associate, Mr. Horace Miles.”

Curry did his best to just smile back at his partner and then at the clerk.

“Right this way.”  Heyes noticed that while the young man closed his money drawer, he did not lock it.  He gave the Kid a significant glance.  There might be hope here, even in this modern bank.


After a productive visit, the boys were more than ready for a good meal.

“This place looks good.”  The Kid nodded after glancing in the windows of a busy cafe.  “And what’s more important, it smells good.”

“Gotta learn to think with more than your stomach, Kid.”  Heyes shook his head, but led the way in to find a table.

“Not if it makes certain I get fed.”  He smiled at his partner.  “One of us has to remember that, even when we are planning our business ventures.”

They looked around as they entered the bustling cafe.  Heyes noticed the woman from the train sitting at a table with another woman, a lovely young blonde.

“Sorry, gentlemen, we don’t have an empty table right now.”  A pretty waitress hurried by, her arms full of plates.  “Hopefully we can get you a table soon, but its chicken pot pie day and we’re always busy.”

“Heyes, there’s your friend.”  The Kid’s eyes lit up.  “And it looks like she has a friend for me.  Maybe we can sit with them?”

“We can try.”  Heyes shrugged, but started toward their table, putting on his dimpled smile.  “Miss Morris?”  He touched his hat brim, removing it.  “How nice to see you again.”

“Mr. Rembacker.  Mr. Miles.”  She smiled up at both of them, but Curry’s attention was clearly on her pretty companion.  “May I introduce my friend, Miss Lily Green?”

The Kid swept his hat off and gave her with a brilliant smile.  “Glad to meet you Miss Green.”

“You know these gentlemen, Miss Green?” The harried waitress hurried over to their table, depositing two generous portions of chicken and dumplings.  “We’re full up today.   You willing to share your spot with them?”  She glared over at a table of older men.  “I was hoping some of these folks would be leaving soon, but all they seem to want is more coffee.”

“Well, it appears we do know them now, but...”  She glanced over towards a stuffy looking gentleman sitting with what was obviously his wife.

“I’ll tell that pompous head of the school board that I asked you to sit with them.”  She smiled wryly at the boys.  “Very handsome, young, and possible eligible young men.”  She aimed another dark glance across the room.  “Because people are not getting about their business and letting me serve other customers.”

“But aren’t they buying pie and other desserts?”  Miss Morris observed.  

“Well.”  She blew the loose wisps of her hair out of her face.  “True.  And I can’t annoy the regular customers.”

“We will be very happy to have these gentlemen join us for lunch.”  Miss Green smiled and indicated the free chairs at their table.

“Pot pie and coffee for you two?”  The waitress asked the boys.

“Sounds great!”  The Kid smiled gratefully at her as she hurried off.

“Are you certain we won’t be bothering you?”  Heyes glanced over at the school board president, who luckily was engrossed in the local newspaper.  “I take it you are a teacher too, like Miss Morris here?”

“Yes, and I can handle Mr. Grant on my own.”  She aimed a glance across the room, but then smiled up at first Heyes, then more coyly at the Kid.  “Now, I may need some help from Betty with Mrs. Grant, but yes, please sit before she brings back your lunch.”

The waitress came sailing by with a couple of cups and a coffee pot.  “I’ll bring you ladies some more hot water for your tea, when I bring out the dinners for these gentlemen.”

“Thank you, Miss Betty.”  Heyes smiled up at her, causing her to pause for a moment and flush, but then she dashed off to wait on another customer.

“You ladies are both school teachers?”  The Kid smiled brilliantly at both of the women.

“Yes, we went to teacher’s college together.”  Grace smiled at her friend.  “Lily was able to get a position in this prosperous town and I am working on the reservation. We’re taking advantage of the summer break to visit.”

“I thought you were meeting your brother here?”

Grace nodded, but Heyes noticed that Lily blushed.  The Kid only noticed the food coming.


After a pleasant lunch, the boys took their leave, spending the afternoon visiting other local businesses.  They were polite and courteous, seemed like they’d be a good addition to the business owners in Buena Agua, but after their visit, no one could remember what business they said they were starting.

“It sounds like everyone in town will be closed Saturday afternoon for the festival.”  Heyes glanced around, but no one was near them, as they crossed the street to the hotel and dinner.  “Do you think we’ll be able to hang around town for another day without attracting attention?”

“I’d be more worried about Wheat, Kyle and the boys not showing up early when they hear there will be food and fireworks.  Especially Kyle.”

“I’ll have Wheat tell him he can bring some of the good stuff, just a few, as a backup plan.”

“How are you going to put that in a telegraph?”

“I will tell our business partner, Snidley Bottoms, that prospects look excellent here and he should bring all needed employees and supplies, including some of the ‘high grade cylinders’.”

“You honestly think Wheat can figure that out?”

Heyes shrugged.  “If not, we probably liberate a couple of the bigger fire crackers, as another backup.”

“Will that be enough?”

“Definitely.”  He nodded decisively.  “You saw that safe.  If I can’t get it open in ten minutes, it won’t take much to blow it.  We want to keep as low key as possible, fireworks display or not.”

“So what do we do until then?”

“I would have said invite the friendly teachers for a buggy ride and picnic, but if I’m not mistaken, I think Miss Morris’ brother just arrived.”  He nodded towards Grace, walking from the train station in the company of a man who looked slightly older than she did, but shared enough of her dark coloring that his assumption was likely to be proven true.

“Good day, Miss Morris.”  He tipped his hat as they approached, smiling broadly, his dimple appearing.

“Mr. Rembacker, Mr. Miles, how nice to see you both.”  She returned Heyes’ smile.  “May I introduce my brother, Mr. Arvind Morris.”

Heyes held his hand out to forestall the question that appeared to be forming on her brother’s lips.  “Pleased to meet you, sir.”  The Kid followed suit, but the older man was not totally distracted.

“We were lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Miss Morris and Miss Green and were waiting to meet you when you arrived. I’d be very pleased if you would all be our guests at the hotel dining room tonight, say 7:00?”


Dinner was going well.  The boys were unfailingly polite to both the women as well as Arvind Morris.  Heyes might have paid a bit too much attention to Grace for Arvind’s peace of mind and the Kid might have smiled too much at Lily to sit well with him, but he couldn’t find a reason to deny the plans for a picnic the next day, since he was going to chaperone.

“What business exactly did you say you were in?” 

“A vastly growing market.”  Heyes smiled.  “Didn’t Grace say you worked in the steel industry?”

“Yes, also a growing field.”   He tried again.  “But what business are you thinking of opening here?”

“Now, Miss Lily, living here, I’m certain you’d know where we should go for a picnic tomorrow.”  Curry gave her a wide smile.

“Oh, yes.”  She returned his smile with a sweet one of her own.  Arvind did not look happy, but she wasn’t paying attention to him.  “Down by the creek, not too far out of town.  It’s a nice shady, cool spot.”

“Sounds lovely.”  The Kid’s eyes twinkled.


The Kid accompanied Lily down to the stream to wash up a few items before they packed up, and Arvind was forced to accompany them, to avoid being shut out of Lily’s attention.  He looked back at his sister but she and Heyes were simply sitting on the blanket that had been spread out, talking about her teaching.

“When do you go back to the reservation?”  Heyes leaned back against the tree.

“In August.  I want to have a couple of weeks before school starts to get organized.”  She sighed.  “Often the supplies don’t arrive as promised.”

“Then what do you do?”

“Try to get other funding.  It isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort to see the children learning.”

“Mr. Rembacker!”  Lily called as she and the Kid made their way back up the bank, Arvind trailing behind carrying the cleaned dishes.

“Yes, Miss Green?”  Heyes smiled up at her, as Arvind set the dishes down by his sister, who was packing up the basket.

“Mr. Miles said you won’t be able to attend the festival on Saturday?” Lily batted her eyes at the Kid, which annoyed Arvind even more.

“No, I’m afraid we have to be heading out in the morning to meet some of our business associates.”  Heyes kept a smile on his face.  He could tell that the ladies were disappointed, but Arvind’s face sported a smile.

“That is unfortunate.”  He patted his sister’s hand, trying to catch Lily’s gaze, but she deliberately turned away.

“It sounds like it would be a great time.”  The Kid smiled at Lily, trying to let her down easy.  She returned his smile wistfully, but then turned to refocus on Arvind.

“Will you be back soon?”  Grace’s voice had a bit of wistfulness in its tone.

“No, I’m afraid not before you’ll have to leave.”  Heyes caught her eyes, but then she turned away to finish packing.


The heist went flawlessly.  As Heyes predicted, it took him mere minutes to open the safe.  

“But, Heyes, I brung some of the good stuff, just like you told Wheat.”  Kyle looked crestfallen.

“That was a backup, Kyle.”  The Kid was trying to keep the boys corralled as Heyes and Wheat stuffed money into saddle bags.   “Why don’t we go get the horses ready?”

“I’ll buy you some extra dynamite with my cut of the haul.”  Wheat called to him, and he perked up enough to follow Curry and slink out of the back door of the bank.

“Gotta let him blow up something soon, Heyes, or we’ll all regret it.”

“Next train robbery, maybe.”  He sighed as he quietly shut the bank door behind him and followed Wheat down the dark alley.  “Just can’t plan as easily for all the outcomes when we use dynamite.  Messier too.”

When they met up with the rest of the gang, everyone else was already mounted.  Heyes threw a set of saddle bags up to the Kid.

“Start on out.”  He glanced up and met his partner’s gaze.  “I’ll wait until the end, to make certain we weren’t seen.  Curry nodded and the boys started to fade away into the night.

“Too bad we didn’t get to that party.”  Kyle’s eyes glittered as the Chinese rockets lit up the sky from the other end of the town.

“We can make our own party, with all this cash, Kyle.”  Wheat chuckled quietly as he followed the Kid and made sure Kyle did too.

This was the easiest getaway Heyes had ever planned.  He let the Kid carefully lead the boys away, while he brought up the rear.  Stopping at the edge of town, he turned to make certain there was no one following them.  The street was deserted when another rocket lit the sky, silhouetting his face in the multicolored blast.

Suddenly, he noticed a figure standing in the shadows playing on the porch of the hotel.  He was about to signal the Kid to stop, when she stepped into the light of the fireworks.  They both were still for a moment, Heyes’ horse settled for once, and she, not daring to come closer.    Finally, he held up his gloved hand, in the only farewell he could give.  Then he turned to follow the Kid and the rest of the gang into the ebony night away from the light of the town.


“But Mr. Greeley, the Agency promised me we’d have enough books for all the children this year.”

“I am sorry, Miss Morris.”  The Indian Agent did not seem overly concerned, let alone sorry.  “But the money had to go elsewhere.”

“Yet they were able to complete your new house?”  It was a beautiful place.  Mrs. Greeley had proudly showed it off to Grace, when she retuned to the reservation.

“Yes, with the addition coming to our family this fall, it was needed.”  He started to turn back to his paperwork, but sighed.  “Is there anything else?”

“No, I suppose not.”  She was just about to leave when the agent stopped her.

“Oh, here is all that has been received for you.”  He handed her a couple of letters and small packages, nowhere near what she needed to start the year.

“Thank you.”  Then She did leave.


Once more reviewing the books she had on hand, she huffed and sat at her desk.  She knew she survived with these supplies last year, but had hoped for so much more for the coming year.  She sighed and stared out the window.  It was nothing new, not getting what she wanted.  A remembrance of dark eyes crossed her thoughts.  She shook herself and turned to open the mail.

One letter was the denial of her request for more supplies from the agency headquarters.  She sighed as she opened one of the small packages.  It was heavy.  Perhaps the volume of fables she planned to read to the children. As she unwrapped it however, she could tell it was not a book but a bag of some smaller items that clinked when she shook it.  The gold coins glittered as they spilled across her desk.

A note fluttered to the floor and she bent to retrieve it with slightly shaking hands.

“Please use these for something good.  - Elijah.”

The fact that the bank in Buena Agua had been robbed by the Devil’s Hole Gang had filled the newspapers for weeks before she left.

She stared at the coins for a moment, then taking a shuddering breath, she gathered them up, and headed to the local store to order the books she needed
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HannaHeyes

HannaHeyes

Posts : 1358
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 45
Location : The Hideout

Her Empty
PostSubject: Re: Her   Her EmptySun May 31, 2020 12:31 am

(I managed to get this down to 3,999 words, minus the title.)

A Midsummer’s Night Nightmare

“Heyes. Heyes, wake up!” Kid Curry’s hand reached out and shook his cousin’s shoulder. “Wake up, Heyes!”

Brown, bloodshot eyes finally opened and looked up at the blond gunslinger. His voice was a husky, shushed tone as his hand came up to rub his head. “Not so loud, Kid. My head’s about to bust open.”

“Sorry, but you need to get up NOW.” Curry was adamant as he stood there looking down.

“What’s the problem? What’s so important that you can’t be quiet and leave me alone to sleep this hangover off?” The voice was now a little agitated.

The brow over the azure blue eyes furrowed. “Just how drunk did you get last night after that poker game finally ended and I came back to the hotel?! I thought you were just gonna spend some time upstairs. I told you to watch it since I wouldn’t be there.”

“I can watch myself you know!”

“Yeah. You watched yourself get dog drunk apparently.”

“Is that all you woke me up for?! To be proddy over me having a little fun?!”

“A ‘little’ fun?! Are you tellin’ me you don’t remember what you did?!”

“I apparently got DRUNK. I KNOW! NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!” Hannibal Heyes grabbed his head again as the increase in the volume of his voice sent sparks through his vision and intensified the throbbing of his head.

“That ain’t all you did!”

“Will you PLEASE quit being so cryptic? What the heck do you want? What did I do? Just say it so I can go back to sleep.”

Kid closed his eyes as he sighed to calm himself. Opening them, he leaned over to stare directly into his partner’s hungover eyes. “You. Got. MARRIED!”

Heyes shot upright in the bed nearly hitting his head on Curry’s. That statement had made him ignore the pain in his head. “What did you just say?”

Kid grabbed his apparently oblivious cousin’s shoulders and repeated himself. “YOU GOT MARRIED, HEYES! WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKIN’?!” Kid let go of him and walked away a bit before he turned and stormed back. “Nevermind. I KNOW what you thinkin’!” A finger poked the bare chest as each word syllable was spoken. “ABSOLUTELY NOTHIN’!”

Heyes ran a hand through his hair and over his face, his expression was horrified. “That is a cruel joke, Kid.”

“Oh...it’s no joke! Your ‘wife’ just left here a couple minutes ago to get breakfast!”

“No! All I did was share a bottle of whiskey with Ruby when we went upstairs after I had a couple of beers playing poker.”

“Well, I’m bettin’ she didn’t drink any and you HAD THE WHOLE DANG BOTTLE!”

Heyes tried to think back but it was nothing but a blur. He looked a little sheepish as he stared down at the quilt concentrating. “I don’t...I don’t remember.”

“Well that’s no surprise!” Kid sat down on the other bed still glaring at his partner. “So, Mister Married Genius, how are you gonna get out of this?! We can’t ride around with her with us! Does she know who you really are?”

Heyes looked at Kid and didn’t have to answer as his expression said it all. He had no idea.

Curry threw his hands up in the air. “This is just great! She could be gettin’ the sheriff right now!”

“What am I going to do?”

“I don’t know! You’re the one that does the thinkin’, remember?!”

Heyes thought for a minute. “Didn’t she call you anything when she left here? You obviously were awake.”

“No. She didn’t call me anythin’. She just looked at me all starry-eyed and said that she was goin’ to get me and her new husband some breakfast and she’d be back in a little bit.”

“And that’s it?”

“Yes that’s it! I wasn’t even out of bed at the time! I had just woke up and saw her sashayin’ around the room and kissin’ you on the forehead! I didn’t know what to do! So I just said hello and she turned with a big smile on her face.”

Heyes put a hand on his forehead. “Kid, I don’t know what to say or do.”

“Well, apparently last night you said “Okay” and “I do”!”

“Will you quit berating me?! That’s not helping anything!” Heyes started to get out of bed when he pushed the quilt back a bit and realized he wasn’t wearing anything at all. His eyes widened. 

“Heyes! My God! Put some dang clothes on!” Kid turned his head as his cousin hurriedly covered himself back up. Then a thought entered Kid’s mind and he turned back giving Heyes the ‘look’. “Did you...with her....surely you didn’t...did you?! With me in the room?!” Curry groaned at the thought.

“NO!” Heyes yelled indignantly. Then more quietly, “Least I don’t think so...”

Curry stood back up at that and leaned in to stare directly at brown eyes in close proximity, venom in his voice. “If I find out you did, I’m absolutely goin’ to kill you.”

Heyes’ eyes widened a bit again at that proclamation, then come up with his defense. “If I...’we’ did you would’ve heard something!”

“You know I sleep a lot more sound than you do! Especially after a few drinks!” Kid walked off to stare out the window. “For the love of God, will you PLEASE put some clothes on!”

Frowning, Heyes got up and, after getting his balance, quickly got dressed. “You can turn around now.”

Curry did so, but as soon as Heyes saw the look still on his face, wished he hadn’t. “Kid, there has to be a way out of this. It can’t be legal. I mean, who is going to be awake in the middle of the night to marry two people?”

“I don’t know!”

“Well, we just have to find out what happened and fix it.”

Kid walked back toward him. “WE?! Oh no, Heyes! YOU got yourself in this mess, YOU can get yourself out of it!”

“You’re not going to help me?!” Heyes was in disbelief.

Curry sighed, realizing he’d said that before he could think it through. “Yeah, I’ll help you. BUT, if you two start to have some lover’s quarrel, I’m walkin’ away and gettin’ out of it!”

There was a knock at the door and a singsong voice called out. “I’ve got breakfast honey!”

Kid walked over and sat at the table in the room. “Your wife is back,...honey.”

Heyes smirked at his cousin. His headache was threatening to melt his brain by now. Using his finger and thumb to wipe the sleep from his eyes, he walked to the door and opened it.

“Good morning, sweetheart!” Ruby planted a kiss on Heyes’ cheek. “I brought breakfast for us all!” She glided over to the table and sat the tray of food and coffee in front of Kid. “I figured you’d need lots of coffee this morning,” she said slyly looking at her new husband.

“You figured right.” Heyes closed the door and sat back down on his bed.

Curry snorted from his chair.

Ruby walked over and planted herself in Heyes’ lap. “Good morning, Joshua!”

‘Well’, Heyes thought, ‘at least she apparently doesn’t know who we really are’.

Kid had the same thought and was relieved. He got himself something to eat before everything got cold. Might as well. He certainly didn’t want to watch the two newlyweds sitting on the bed.

Heyes gently directed his new wife to sit beside him on the bed instead on top of him. “Ruby, I was just wondering, what did we do last night after we got back here?”

“Why nothing dearest.” Ruby cooed. “You said it wouldn’t be right to do anything with Thaddeus in the same room and then you passed out. So, I just undressed you and climbed in bed next to you.”

“Did you have to take ‘all’ his clothes off?” Kid asked with a mouthful of eggs.

“Thaddeus!”

“What? There’s just some things a man don’t wanna see. And you nekkid is one of them.”

Ruby laughed then looked seductively at Heyes. “Well, I didn’t mind.”

Heyes actually blushed. “OKAY. That’s enough on that particular subject.”

“You got that right.”

“Shut up, Thaddeus!”

Ruby laughed again. “You two are absolutely adorable!”

Heyes took Ruby’s hand and looked at her. “Ruby, I have to admit I don’t really remember last night. Would you care to enlighten me?”

“Certainly, Joshua. I didn’t think you’d remember much. Anyway, I watched you play poker for half the night, wishing with everything in me that you’d notice me. I even ran off potential customers! Well, after the game was over and Thaddeus left, you walked up to the bar where I was and smiled at me, offering to buy me a drink. And oh, what a smile! I just love those dimples!”

Kid sighed from where he sat eating. ‘Good God...’

Ruby continued. “I was absolutely thrilled when you talked to me! You bought me a drink, we talked some more, then you bought a bottle of whiskey and we went upstairs. I think you can imagine what we done up there.”

Heyes cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. No need to get into that.”

Kid chirped up again. “No. PLEASE don’t get into that.”

Ruby giggled. “So, I didn’t want anything else to drink because I wanted to remember my time with the most handsome man I’d ever laid eyes on.”

‘I think I’m gonna puke...’ Kid thought.

“Then you said that there was no need to let a perfectly good bottle of whiskey go to waste so you ended up drinking it throughout the night,” Ruby went on. “And what a night it was!”

“I’m tryin’ to eat over here if you don’t mind.” Curry poured a cup of coffee to hand to his partner.

“Sorry, Thaddeus.” She said it, but she didn’t look like she meant it completely.

Heyes took the coffee cup and sipped at it. “How did we end up married?”

Ruby smiled. “Well, I know it’s not really the right thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I asked you to marry me and you said okay!”

“Told you you said okay.”

“Shut. Up. Thaddeus.”

Kid shrugged.

“So,” Ruby replied happily, “I woke up my Pa and he married us!”

“Your Pa? How could your Pa marry us?”

“Because he’s the Sheriff. The judge won’t be back in town until later today and when he’s gone, my Pa has the legal right to marry folks because he’s considered the justice of the peace then.”

Kid almost choked. “Your Pa is the Sheriff?!”

“Yeah.”

Heyes had to swallow down the coffee that was threatening to come up. “And he was just fine with you getting married to somebody you just met?”

“Yeah! He’s been wanting me to get outta that saloon ever since I started working there. So he was happy to do it. Especially after you told him you worked in the banking industry.”

Again, Kid almost spit coffee out. This time though, it was from trying to stop a laugh.

Heyes glared over at him then turned back to Ruby. “And then we came here?”

“Yeah. We had to. You wanted to go back to the saloon, but the bartender said the rooms were for paying customers only. Not for married men. So you suggested we just come back to your hotel room that you were sharing with your partner, Thaddeus.”

Heyes closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead, sighing. “Ruby, there’s...”

“OH!” Ruby pulled a small watch from her ample cleavage and looked at it. “I’ve got to get over to the dress shop for a fitting. I gotta get some ‘decent’ dresses to wear now!” Pulling Heyes over to her by his collar, she kissed him on the lips and got up. “You don’t have to wait for me here. You told me you and Thaddeus had a job to do somewhere in town. I’ll meet you back here later.” One more kiss and she was out the door.

Heyes got up and locked it, looking at his partner.

“Don’t look at me, Heyes. I had nothin’ to do with this.”

Since Heyes was already standing, he started to pace, grabbing his cup and drinking the rest of the coffee. “This can’t be legal, Kid.” Another circuit was completed before Heyes stopped and wagged his finger. “It’s NOT legal! I was married under an alias. Therefore, technically, it’s not a binding contract, so to speak.”

“Well then, let’s just leave town,” Kid replied wiping his mouth.

Heyes stared at him like he was crazy. “We can’t do that! She thinks we’re legitimately married! And may I remind you that her Pa is the sheriff! She’d have him after me for the rest of my life!”

“Sheriffs are ALREADY after you. What’s one more?”

“I can’t believe you. That coming from a man that’s always helping the ladies.”

“Well this lady took advantage of my drunk as a skunk cousin and got him married to her!”

“I know!” Heyes resumed pacing. “But running off isn’t the answer. And there’s no way I can admit ‘Joshua Smith’ is an alias. They’d be demanding I give my real name. Although, I guess I could just give them another alias. But she’d probably have her Pa force me to marry her with THAT name. So I don’t think that is the way out of it.” 

“I don’t know what to tell you, Heyes. Either you stay here, settle down, and wait to be arrested, or we leave and have ‘Sheriff Pa’ hunt you down and bring you back with a rifle in your back for runnin’ out on his little girl.”

“Thanks, Kid. That was in no way helpful.” His pacing kept taking him past the window overlooking the town. He stopped when he reached the point in front of it again. Curry could tell by his expression he was deep in thought. “Does this town have a library or a lawyer’s office, Kid?”

“How the heck am I supposed to know?”

Heyes smirked at him. “Well, I need to find out. You coming with me?”

Kid stood and finished the last of his coffee. “Yeah. If I don’t, you might come back with two more wives and a bunch of adopted kids.”

Heyes glared at him. “Sometimes I hate you.”

Curry grinned at his partner. “No you don’t.”

Said partner sighed as he unlocked and went out the door.

^~^~^~^~^~^~^

After talking to the hotel clerk, they found out there was a lawyer’s office, but that the lawyer would be out of town for at least a week. So Heyes had to settle for the library.

They walked through town, carefully avoiding both the sheriff’s office and the dress shop, until they reached the library. Once inside, Heyes headed straight to any books he could find on law.

Curry sat down at a table and waited. After about five minutes, his partner finally joined him. Heyes pushed some books toward Kid.

“Here, you look through these.”

“What are you lookin’ for?”

Heyes looked at him exasperated. “Marriage laws, Thaddeus. What else?”

“With you, it could be anythin’.”

“Just check the books.”

After what seemed like an eternity, Heyes smiled as he found something promising. “I think I got it, Thaddeus.”

Kid pushed the umpteenth book he looked through shut and rubbed his face. “What?”

“A way out. A ‘legal’ way out. We just got to find Ruby and go see the judge coming into town.”

^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^

“So you gonna tell me what you found or keep it a secret until you see the judge?” Kid asked as they walked down the boardwalk looking for Ruby.

“It’s called an annulment. Means a marriage wasn’t legal from the beginning. It’s possible to get one for any of six reasons. And one of those reasons is mental incompetence, which includes incapacity caused by intoxication.”

“So it’s like a divorce.”

“Sort of. But an annulment means you were never married. So it won’t be on record anywhere.”

“Are you sure you want to go in front of a judge? What if he knows one or both of us?”

“We’ll just have to find out who he is before we go. If he knows us, we’ll just have to ride to the next town with Ruby.”

“Don’t think she’ll go if she knows what you’re wantin’ to see one for.”

“Well, she don’t have to know.”

^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^

After finding out who the judge was and that he had arrived in town, Heyes and Kid located Ruby going in the milliner’s shop.

“Ruby! Stop a minute,” Heyes called as he jogged up to her.

“Oh, hi honey! I was coming to find you after I bought a hat.” She took his arm and put it around her shoulders.

Heyes carefully removed it. “Can you put that on hold? We need to go see the judge. He got back a little while ago and is over in the courthouse.”

“Why? We’re already married. Don’t need to see no judge now.”

“Well, you see, I can’t really afford to be married right now. Me and Thaddeus move around a lot looking for work and you don’t want to do that do you? Riding in the saddle all day, out in the hot sun, getting all dirty and not knowing where your next meal is coming from? That’s no life for a nice, proper lady like yourself.”

Ruby eyed him. “But you told me and Pa that you worked in the banking business.”

“I was drunk, Ruby. I had no idea what I was saying. In fact, I don’t even remember all I said.”

“Well, that don’t matter. We’re married now and I’m keeping you!”

Kid sighed behind Heyes. 

Heyes sighed in unison. “Please listen to me, Ruby. I have two dollars to my name right now. I can’t take care of you the way a man should a woman. You’d have to sleep on the hard ground every night.”

“That’s not true. You have a hotel room to sleep in!”

“Well, yeah. Right now. But that’s because Thaddeus paid for it.”

Kid felt the urge to chime in. “That reminds me. You owe me for the room and the bath.”

Heyes looked around at his cousin with a disapproving smirk. “Really? You think NOW is the time to bring that up?!”

“It’s just that you reminded me and I wanted to remind you of that fact before I forgot it.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re not going to forget I owe you money.”

Kid gave him an annoying grin that he himself usually received.

Heyes shook his head and turned back to Ruby. “See? The hotel was a rare treat. Usually we’re sleeping outside on the ground.”

Ruby looked down at the boardwalk. After a moment, she looked up at Heyes. “No! I don’t care! I want to be married and I finally found a man with all his teeth and that cleans himself up! I refuse to get a divorce!”

Heyes sighed again, rubbing a hand over his face. “Well, actually, I can prove that the marriage isn’t actually legal.”

Ruby’s brows drew together in growing anger. “That’s not true! Pa married us!”

Heyes’ mouth crooked to one side. “Listen. Just come see the judge with me and we’ll let him decide.”

A feminine finger was pointed merely inches from Heyes’ face. “YOU go see the judge! I’ll be there in a minute with my PA!” Ruby stormed off down the street toward the sheriff’s office.

Watching her stomp away, both ex-outlaws sighed once more in unison. “Well, Kid. Guess we’re heading over to the courthouse.”

“Hope we get to head out of it too after this...”

^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^

Kid seated himself in the front row of the courtroom while Heyes chatted with the judge when the doors flew open and Ruby in all her fury charged in with her Pa behind her. Her voice rang out echoing in the room when she saw Heyes talking to the judge. “And just WHAT has he been telling you?! We are legally married! Ask my Pa here! He’s the one done hitched us!”

“Ma’am, he hasn’t been telling me anything about that other than he’s here about an annulment. Otherwise, we’ve been talking about things in the newspapers.” The judge fixed her with a look. “But now that you’re here, we can get down to business.”

“Your Honor,” Heyes began, “Last night...”

“LAST night, YOU MARRIED ME! You specifically said ‘I do’ when Pa asked you!”

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you not to interrupt.”

“But my sweet girl is right, your Honor! This boy agreed to marry her last night! And I performed the ceremony in your absence! He’s just not wanting the responsibility he agreed to!”

Despite himself, Kid was enjoying the show, kind of wishing he had some popcorn.

“Sheriff, I don’t doubt what you’re saying is true. But you two have to let Mister Smith tell his side of the story. Proceed, Mister Smith.”

“Like I started to say, your Honor, last night, I did indeed agree to wed Miss Ruby here. But, I can prove that the marriage isn’t legal or binding and therefore I’m requesting an annulment.”

“YOU CAN’T PROVE NO SUCH THING! AND I AIN’T GIVING YOU WHATEVER YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!” Ruby yelled.

The judge banged his gavel. “Ma’am, I know this isn’t a formal hearing, but I can still throw you out of here if you don’t quit interrupting. Continue, Mister Smith.”

“Yes, ‘Mister Smith’, go on and make a fool of yourself,” the sheriff sneered.

Heyes ignored the judge as he grabbed the book he’d carried out of the library and once more addressed the judge. “The lawyer is out of town so I had to research this on my own.”

“See?! He’s done making stuff up!” Sheriff ‘Pa’ interjected.

Another bang of the gavel. Heyes continued. “What I found proves we’re not legally wed. It says right here that an annulment terminates a marriage that was invalid in the beginning because of some defect present at the time it was established, where one spouse could show that the other was at the time of marriage, physically or mentally incapable of entering into the marriage state.”

Both Ruby and her Pa were staring daggers at Heyes but he was undeterred.

“And mental incapacity includes incapacity caused by intoxication. Ruby, the Sheriff, the Bartender, and half the saloon can attest that I was intoxicated beyond rational thought last night after a couple of beers and a whole bottle of whiskey. I don’t even remember last night. I had to be told what I’d done. So, I’m proving that I, myself, was not capable of making a sound decision last night about marriage or anything else.” Heyes handed over the book to let the judge examine it.

“Ruby, did Mister Smith consume a whole bottle of whiskey last night in your company?”

The dove squirmed a bit before finally blurting out, “Yes!”

“Well then, according to the law, if Mister Smith requests an annulment for the reason he stated, then I have no choice but to grant it. The marriage is null and void. In the eyes of the law, it never happened.”

Heyes smiled in celebration as Ruby snorted in anger and the sheriff glared at him muttering, “You’ll pay for hurting my girl, Smith.”

^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^

A very relieved Heyes and Curry hurried out of town as soon as they left the courtroom.

Kid looked over at his worn out looking cousin. “Well, Heyes, guess we can add another woman scorned to our growin’ list.”

“Along with another irate sheriff.”

“Next time you want some female company, don’t take a bottle with you.”

“I’m not making no promises, Kid,” Heyes grinned mischievously which earned him a roll of the blue eyes.

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