How it Began. . .
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: How it Began. . . Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:32 am|| |
So time for a new topic for July, and we have a big one. As usual, it's one which could have many meanings. I challenge you to give us your best take on:
How it Began. . .
That could be how the boys got into a life of crime, how the amnesty started, how they were as children, how a new relationship started, or even the technology which made life a whole lot harder for the boys to continue to live a life of crime, a new year, or any new start. It can be anything your fertile brains come up with!
So what are you waiting for?
Don't forget to comment on June's stories before you start on July, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.
Posts : 51
Join date : 2019-09-15
Age : 46
Location : United Kingdom
|Subject: Re: How it Began. . . Sat Jul 04, 2020 1:42 pm|| |
The first meeting between Heyes and Santana. The future has just begun. I wasn't going to do a story this month, but I changed my mind.
Heyes groaned as another blow caught him square on the jaw. He fell to the ground, using the momentum to roll away from the man hitting him, but instead of this helping, he merely ended up back at the feet of the rest of his attackers who yanked him up, only to let him sprawl heavily back onto the dusty sidewalk, laughing loudly as he landed with a thud.
The ring leader of the group put his foot on Heyes's already bruised hands and pressed down, before leaning in to Heyes's face, the smell of cheap liquor making his victim's stomach churn, “I'm sure you was cheating. Ain't natural what you was winning. I can play poker mighty well, don't need no little shit telling where I'm going wrong.”
Heyes had rolled into Cedar Ridge three days ago, desperate for money and tired of sleeping in the open air. He'd found winning so easy against the regular players that he'd slipped into overconfidence and was now paying the price. It seemed grossly unfair that this was there it ended, in a dead-end town, killed by idiots who didn't know when to fold. He closed his eyes and waited for the final blow, not thinking of much, except wishing he'd got to say goodbye to Jed. Suddenly a loud yell and a flurry of well-placed shots sent his attackers fleeing, leaving him lying on the dusty ground. Before he could even attempt to scramble up and try to run, he was surprisingly carefully, with a welcome, but unexpected gentleness, pulled to his feet and stood up against the wall as he tried desperately to catch his breath. Heyes straightened his clothes and attempted to brush the dust off, trying to play for time. He eventually looked up at his rescuer, a smile planted firmly on his face and his eyes were met by a large, well muscled man with an amused expression. He recognised the man from the saloon, he'd been there the last two nights watching the games. Heyes wondered what the cost of his rescue might be, but kept his smile in place as his mind worked through a dozen different scenarios.
He rubbed his jaw carefully and nodded a thank-you. The man's face split into a smile.
“Not so clever, winning too much.”
Heyes couldn't help but agree and nodded carefully. “I wasn't cheating, they were just real bad at poker.”
“I think telling them so was also a slight error of judgement. “ Heyes couldn't disagree with him and thought about all the times Jed had said the same.
Jim held out his hand and Heyes took it a little warily.
Santana's grip was firm, but not painful and he seemed to be doing his best not to be intimidating. Something tickled at the back of Heyes's memory at the name, but he was so sore and weary that he couldn't keep hold of the thought.
Santana looked amused and his voice held a hint of mocking humour, but no scorn as he said, “Hannibal is a big name for one so small. I like it. “
Heyes in no position to be annoyed at the man's amusement, shrugged and smiled. “ I usually go by Heyes.”
“Ah, but I think I prefer Hannibal.”
“Sir, I don't mean to be rude...”
“You want to know the 'bottom line' as it were?”
Heyes nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed at how ungrateful he probably seemed, but his jaw was throbbing and sharp pain was spreading through his body, he just wanted a whisky and his bed. “I don't want you to think I ain't grateful.”
Santana waved that away and fixing Heyes with a piercing look, said “I have a proposal for you. I'm short on people for a big job. I think you are a person I could use.”
“Again, I don't mean to seem ungrateful.”
“But what advantage would this have for you, yes? Well, if it all goes well, I believe you would find a place at Devil's Hole.”
Heyes eyes widened at the name, feeling suddenly less sore and more interested. The Plummer gang had scattered only a few weeks after he'd joined and without Jed around, he'd been very lonely, lurching from one dicey situation to the next,with only luck and his silver tongue keeping him safe. However badly his first experience at outlawing had ended, he still believed joining a gang provided his best chance of success, so he willingly grasped the chance Santana was offering.
Jim led his new recruit back into the busy saloon and finding a quieter table away from prying eyes and ears laid the plan out to him. It wasn't exactly a bad plan, although Heyes could see some major flaws, but he was unsure how to suggest the changes without losing his chance of being accepted. Jim looked at him taking in the poorly hidden doubt on his face.
“You do not approve of my plan, Hannibal, huh?”
“I do, I do, just a couple of tweaks might be good.”
“Tweaks? Do explain these tweaks you suggest."
Heyes ignored the obvious sarcasm in both Jim's expression and tone, mentally crossing his fingers as he took a chance, “You could do with more men on the outside, just in case. Timing is everything. You oughta think about doing it on a Saturday rather than a Monday, towns busier, so the sheriff might get more tied up. You've a coupla spots on your bank plan that ain't exact. You oughta' see that's corrected. You gotta have a more precise routine for the Sheriff's rounds.”
Heyes trailed off, aware his criticism might just have cost him his future in the gang, but Santana was looking at him with an expression of irritated respect.
“I think you will go far, Hannibal, but you must start somewhere huh?”
Santana took on board his ideas and the robbery went without a hitch and the take was pretty impressive even shared amongst them all. Most of the gang were fairly accepting of Jim's decision, except a couple who resented his confidence and the way he'd caught their leader's eye. A man named Wheat seemed especially unhappy and kept looking over at him, with what was meant to be an intimidating expression, but Heyes was unimpressed as he knew the man wouldn't go against Santana. Heyes surveyed his surroundings and thought he might finally have found a place he belonged, but despite his newborn hope of a bright future, he could not shake the lonely feeling of something missing and his mind strayed to Jed despite his best efforts to accept they were never likely to meet again.
Last edited by uk_rachel74 on Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:43 am; edited 8 times in total
Posts : 64
Join date : 2018-09-14
|Subject: Re: How it Began. . . Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:45 am|| |
I’m sitting at the poker table, panning the room. A place just opened and I’m checking out who’s up to join our game.
The seat beside me is empty now. My partner is gone. He went upstairs with his chosen lady of the night. The other players think I’m easy prey now. It’s just too obvious. I would love to laugh out loud, but I keep my face straight and innocent, my talk nice and easy.
Isn’t it funny how folks are always trying to put people in boxes? They look, but they don’t see, and still they judge the world from their limited point of view.
I heard them calling Kid Curry my pet, my tamed gunman, living only to back me up, giving him no more value than the speed and accuracy of his gun.
How wrong they are.
Usually I do the talking, the thinking, but that doesn’t mean the Kid has shortcomings in that department, neither am I unskilled in shooting. We just made an agreement; one we both are comfortable with, using our respective talents to our mutual advantage.
Kid Curry is a keen man, wise, wiser than me some people would say, if they knew him as well as I know him. I would have met my maker a hundred times without him or ended up in prison. Maybe he has more common sense than me. He grounds me. Would I ever tell him? Hell, no! He would never grow tired of throwing it back to me with a straight face or a smug smile depending on his mood. He knows what he has to know. That I trust him. Always.
He would never talk back in front of others, that is, unless I really get carried away and things get dangerous. In that case he would never hold back with his opinion. He’ll always back me up if things get out of hand, but if it was my fault, he’d be sure to make me regret it as soon as we are alone. He has a way to make me pay over and over again. Never get fooled by those innocent blue eyes of his.
Some folks see his strength, his iron will. They would never underestimate him. They tend to take me as foolhardy - as his pet - a leader by his grace. They call me his puppet who interacts with the world for him, he who likes to keep his thoughts to himself and rather observes inconspicuously from the background.
Does he play me? No. He’s frank and as straight forward as a man can be. He would never trick me.
Would I manipulate him? Well, I’ve got to admit, I’ve tried. Did it work? Rarely. Did he notice it? Often. Did I regret it? You bet!
Has it always been that way? Of course, not. Perfection doesn’t grow on trees; you’ve got to earn it. In the beginning we had our fair share of disagreements and fights, both of us strong-headed and born to lead. We had our lessons to learn, but now we have reached a point where we are hard to match.
We complete each other; step in whenever it is needed, knowing the other one better than ourselves - heart and soul. Together we are more than the sum of our skills; so much more. We don’t own one another. We’re friends, a team, equal partners. Never cross one of us. You never will deal with one of us alone. And together we’re unbeatable.
Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: After Valparaiso Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:51 am|| |
Pitch black and Jed shivered under his blankets. So thin they might as well not have been there. No warmth in them. He was awake and listening to the sounds of sleeping all around him. Lucas snoring and snuffling. Collins whimpering. Garcia talking. Then someone's farts. He sure hoped he did not make any of those noises. He lay there wondering how long before...
Jed felt a hand close round his ankle and give it a shake. He was not afraid. He had been expecting this. Fully clothed underneath the covers, he threw his legs over the side of the bed, trying not to make a noise. The hand now groped up his arm to grip his shoulder, reassuringly. Jed nodded and patted the hand before it fell away.
They would break out tonight. Him and Han. Nope, not right. Should be him and Heyes. Three years ago, Heyes asked him to stop calling him Han, Jed still thought of his cousin as Han, short for Hannibal. He tried to remember but it was difficult.
Heyes would be fifteen in a few weeks' time. The age he had to leave Valparaiso and make his own way in the world. Heyes vowed he would not leave without his younger cousin. That is why they were breaking out. Tonight. Any closer to his fifteenth birthday and the staff would be on alert for such an attempt. The War Between the States forced them to stay there, but that had been over for some months. Time to leave this awful place and Heyes now declared it safe to go.
Safe was relative, though. Valparaiso had not been that safe. Just not so much danger than being alone outside with soldiers and raiders roaming the countryside. Brutal though Valparaiso was, it had kept them alive.
Valparaiso was a School for Wayward children. In reality, a prison. Not much schooling beyond letters and numbers. Heyes already knew them. The lack of knowledge available to learn frustrated his agile mind. One master tried to help, but beyond lending Heyes books on mathematics and physics, the boy had to school himself. Unfortunately, the master left to take up a post back East. His replacement showed little appetite to deviate from the strict curriculum.
It had been different for Jed. Struggled with reading and writing before Valparaiso. The teacher back home in Kansas gave him extra lessons to catch him up with his classmates. The one-to-one tuition worked well for him. When the War crashed into their insignificant town, that ended. Subsequent teachers at Valparaiso thought him slow and dim, not worthy of their attention. Heyes tried to tell them about the special lessons, but they did not have either the time or the interest. Instead, Heyes managed Jed's schooling as best as he could.
Now, after three years in this place, Jed was wise beyond his years. Valparaiso turned the innocent ten-year-old into an embittered thirteen-year-old, resentful of authority and those who handed it out. He could be sullen, moody and stubborn. Oh, so stubborn. Stubbornness getting him into trouble many a time. Then Heyes would feel called upon to defend him, try to protect him, and they would both ended up in trouble. Each beating more severe than the last.
For his cousin, Heyes, two years his senior, the time at Valparaiso left more than a physical mark. Bored by the lack of academic stimulus, Heyes used his time learning things that are more practical. This was a school for wayward children after all. Children with specialist skills abounded. Skills that Heyes considered may come in useful in the future. Locks soon proved no barrier. This allowed him to wander the corridors at night and pry into the school's secrets. Sleight of hand perfected over three years of continual use meant nothing was safe if he decided he wanted it. Food and books were at the top of the list. The art of the card shark played to his natural dexterity and talent with numbers. He learnt how to use his radiant smile to its best effect in the subtle art of persuasion, easily charming the kitchen and infirmary staff.
From that point of view, neither child wasted their time at Valparaiso. Both learnt skills that would prove invaluable in later life. They survived the beatings, the cruelty and the poor quality food. They were survivors, but now time to leave and resume the plan they had been working on before their lock up in here. Strike out on their own.
Heyes still kept the address of the mysterious uncle that Jed never met, but Heyes had. Jed vaguely remembered Jonathan Curry discussed in hushed whispers, but he had been too young to understand or take much notice. It would appear that Jonathan Curry, the elder brother of Jed's father and Heyes' mother, did something bad. This resulted in most of his family shunning him, apart from Heyes' mother, who still welcomed him into her home.
Jed wanted to know if their mutual grandfather, Grandpa Curry, was still alive, a hard, taciturn man from Northern Ireland. He was uncompromising, but Jed's father respected him. Not so Heyes' mother. Relieved to leave the strict religious and harsh Curry family home, marrying an Englishman to boot. Despite her estrangement from her father, her brother lived near enough to socialize and their boys to play together. Yet they rarely invited Grandpa Curry to the Heyes home. The elder grandson viewed Grandpa Curry as a fleeting presence in his life rather than as a guiding hand.
This difference of opinion between Heyes and Jed and their indecision about where to go had been festering before they entered Valparaiso. They had put the conversion on hold, but this would come back once outside. Wasn't something Jed looked forward to because he knew the direction Heyes wanted. It just wasn't the way he wanted to go. The thought of what that may mean held no comfort for Jed. Heyes had been a reassuring presence during their time in Valparaiso, and the thought of losing that ... well ... he would face it when the time came. For now, he had to concentrate on getting out of here.
The hand patted Jed's arm three times and pulled. How could Heyes see in the dark? Jed barely made out his hand in front of his face. Yet Heyes guided them between the beds containing sleeping boys without a hitch or a collision. Neither boy had more than their pockets would carry. What they were leaving behind was precious little and easily given up.
Jed stood by the door. The faint clicking told him Heyes picked the lock to let them out. He "heard" Heyes' broad grin as the last part of the mechanism yielded. Slowly the door opened. Outside, the corridor was dim, but light enough to see. Staff patrolled the corridors at night, so they had to be quiet. Heyes stood ready to shut the door again if footsteps sounded.
Nothing. Heyes opened the door wider, and he slipped through. The door was in a recess, so he had to lean right out. He checked the corridor in both directions and nodded to Jed to follow him. Jed slipped out too and closed the door behind him.
The staff would guard the quickest way out. Instead, the boys took a circuitous route, less likely to run into staff going that way.
Heyes pointed down and mouthed, "Boots off." They soon became barefoot and with boots in hand, they set off through the corridors. First left and then right, left, right, or was that left? Jed soon lost track and if it wasn't for Heyes leading the way, he would soon lose his bearings. Through his exploration of all the corridors from his nightly wanderings, Heyes was aware of the staff routes.
They reached the top of the stairs without a hitch. Getting down the stairs was the risky bit. This was the main staircase leading to the public part of the building. There would be nowhere to hide if somebody came. Once down on the ground floor, a short crossing of the hall and through a door. Then they would be in an unfamiliar world. A fiction that did not exist anywhere else in the building.
The boys crouched behind the bannister and listened for any sounds emanating from down below. As they listened, they glanced at each other. Heyes mouthed "Slowly" and stood up. He kept to the wall, as he made his way downstairs, testing each step for creaking boards before he put his full weight on it. Jed followed carefully in his footsteps.
“Well, I don't think we can take anymore. We're over capacity as it is."
The voice was ominously close and coming their way. The boys froze.
"There's twelve more coming. Guess we can top 'n' tail 'em. The smaller ones don't take up an entire bed anyway," another voice said.
The two voices came from the other side of the door Heyes and Jed wanted to go through. Heyes made the ground floor just as the door opened. However, Jed was still on the stairs. Surely, this was it? Caught. The game up. Both inwardly groaned at the thought of the beating that would follow.
Then the boys got a lucky break. Yes, the door opened a crack. From where Heyes stood, he saw a man holding it open. However, he turned back to the owner of the other voice.
"How many of each sex? So we can make plans," the man holding the door said.
Heyes, hidden in the shadows, beckoned to Jed, frozen on the stairs. "Hurry," Heyes mouthed. Jed trembled in fear, and Heyes beckoned again. Now Jed moved and made the shadows beside Heyes just in time as the two men came through the door.
"Awh! They can't say. Only that it's twelve."
"They had to count 'em, didn't they? Boys and girls look different!"
Heyes and Jed observed the two men walking off down the corridor, their focus on the conversation rather than what was around them. As they turned the corner and out of sight, the boys let out their breath.
If the men had caught them, the beating would have been severe. Jed didn't think he would survive another intense beating, and Heyes wouldn't. Too soon after the last time. He hadn't recovered properly and still winced in pain from his hip sometimes when he walked. If he took another just yet, the chances are it would cripple him for life.
Heyes fumbled for the door handle. Wincing when the door creaked open. He stuck his head through and satisfied himself nobody else was about; he motioned Jed through. And into the unfamiliar world of Valparaiso's public face.
The public entrance hall of Valparaiso was nothing like the rest of the building. No whitewashed walls and bare floorboards here. This was all mahogany doors and rugs; elegant furniture, paintings on the wall, flowers in a vase on the center table, and other homely touches.
Heyes turned and shut the door. He grinned in devilment as he crouched to "lock" the door. If he could unlock a door, he could darn well lock one. That should delay any pursuit.
"Put your boots on Jed. Once we get outta the window we've gotta run like blazes."
"Which window we going out Heyes?"
Jed struggled with his boots.
Heyes grinned. "The only one not barred. The warden's."
By rights, the official title was headmaster, but all the boys and staff thought of him as the warden.
Jed's mouth fell open. "Ya ain't serious?"
"Sure I am. What? Did you think we were walking out the front door? Naw!" Heyes shook his head. "Come on."
The warden's office was to the right of the front door. Heyes tried the handle. Locked, but thirty seconds later, no longer. The boys entered, Jed in wonder. Heyes stopped to relock the door.
The Warden handed out punishments here. The deeds themselves took place in a squalid little room, far from anywhere that the public ventured. Away from prying eyes and any interference.
Heyes crossed to the window and was already checking the lock. The bottom of the window raised in an instant.
Jed still explored around the room, jumping when Heyes hissed his name.
"We're gonna climb out this window. Keep to the edge of the building and then run straight across the drive and into the trees. We've gotta keep going no matter what. D'you hear?"
"Now it'll seem like a long run. There isn't much cover, but we're in luck. No moon yet."
Heyes gave him a long look.
"Okay, I'll go first and then I'll help you."
Heyes climbed over the windowsill. Ground floor for sure, but with the window high in the wall and the ground dropping away sharply, it was a long drop. Heyes hoped the drop wasn't too long. He let go and let out a relieved sigh when his feet soon hit the ground. Jed being shorter would have to let go on trust. Jed lowered himself slowly. He felt Heyes touch his legs.
Jed did, but Heyes hadn't prepared himself for the extra weight landing on top of him. They both grunted as the momentum tipped them both into the flowerbed. Jed moved, but Heyes held him firm. He put his finger over his lips. What was that? They lay on their backs listening for sounds of discovery. No, probably creatures of the night moving about. When satisfied, there was nothing amiss, Heyes tapped Jed's arm, and they moved, taking refuge behind a large shrub. Oh, so good to be out in the fresh air. Valparaiso wasn't warm, but neither was it fresh.
Heyes pointed down the length of the building. Keeping low, they made their way to the corner. Heyes poked his head round. A long way to the trees. The drive was wide and laid to lawn on both sides. There would be nowhere to hide if spotted.
"Long way Heyes." The younger boy voiced both their concerns.
"Yep. We don't get a choice though Jed. That's the way to go. Once we're in the trees, no one will see us."
"What 'bout we go down the flower border and along the fence? We'll only need to cross the drive itself."
"You ain't thinking Jed. The gate has a guard, and he's gotta light. It's dark here. That'll hide us."
Jed appeared doubtful.
"I'm telling you, Jed. If we go that way they'll catch us for sure."
Jed still contemplated the border. That seemed the better way to him. Crossing the wider part of the garden seemed awfully risky.
"We don't have time to debate, Jed. I'm going this way. Are you with me?"
Jed didn't answer.
"Well I'm going." Heyes hesitated. "See ya." Then Heyes took off across the lawn, running fast.
Jed watched him go. They would have a conversation later. Right now Jed needed Heyes to get out of here. Jed hesitated only for a second, before deciding sticking with Heyes was the best thing.
Heyes knew Jed followed by the time he'd crossed the drive. Halfway across the second lawn, a cry came from behind him. Heyes skidded to a halt and looked back. Jed was picking himself up. At that moment, the hand-cranked siren went off. Someone had spotted they were missing. How, neither of them cared.
Heyes raced back and helped Jed to his feet. The younger boy had turned his ankle when he hit the change from lawn to drive. Heyes half carried him across the drive, Jed hopping like mad to keep up. He couldn't put any weight on his injured foot.
Lights flickered on all over the house now and soon adults would spill out into the grounds. The boys had to make the trees. Otherwise, they would both suffer a severe beating or even death. Nobody would care.
"Come on, Jed. We've made it this far. We've gotta." Heyes gasped. Supporting Jed was awkward, and his hip ached.
Jed recognized the desperation in Heyes' voice. Jed tried to hurry, using his hurt foot as a lever to propel himself along.
They reached the second lawn as staff spilled out of the house. The adults shouted encouragements like:
"They can'ta gone far. I'll go round this side. You got round there. That Heyes boy again. He’s in for the biggest beating of his life when I catch him."
The boys sobbed now with effort and desperation. They had to make it. Had to.
The trees came closer, painfully slowly. Heyes risked a glance over his shoulder. No one was coming up the drive but ...
"This way! I seen 'em!"
Heyes groaned. "Keep going, Jed."
"I am Heyes."
Footsteps sounded in their direction. Any minute Heyes expected the staff to surround them. He sobbed at the thought of the cruelty to come. Wasn't fair. They had so nearly made it. If Jed hadn't fallen ... Heyes shook his head. He mustn't think like that. Not Jed's fault. The only thing he focused on now was how close the trees were. Getting closer. Just not, close enough.
Heyes risked another glance. Figures came in their direction now. He gasped and urged Jed faster. Jed struggled to keep up. If he tried going faster, he would fall again, taking Heyes with him. Then it would be over.
The silhouette of a man appeared in front of them, coming from the trees. Was he waiting for them? Both boys gasped in horror and stopped. So. This was it. Caught.
"Boys. Over here."
The man gesturing at them.
Was this out of the frying pan into the fire? This man wasn't staff. At least his silhouette didn't fit any of the staff they knew.
Could this be a trick? He'd come from the wrong direction. Had he been trying to head them off? A distinct possibility. Not unheard of for boys, especially boys, attempting escape.
This man might help them get away. Heyes was all too aware of what was behind them with frightening certainty. Ahead lay a chance. Only a slim chance, but still a chance.
The man was upon them. Seeing the condition of the younger child, his gruff voice urged, "Give him to me, boy."
"No time to argue. 'Lessen ya wanna go back in there. You know what they'll do to you."
Heyes made a snap decision.
"Heyes!" Jed yelled and struggled.
Heyes surrendered him to the mystery man.
The man swept Jed up into his arms. He ran. Heyes followed close behind, a hand on his hip. He limped now, but freed from supporting Jed, he managed better. Into the trees at last. They kept going. It was a narrow curtain of trees, just dense enough to hide the house from the lane that lay beyond.
They burst out into the lane now. A few yards down stood a horse and cart. They headed for them. The man dumped Jed none too gently in the back, boosted Heyes in beside him, and pulling the canvas sacking over the pair of them.
Horse and cart were disappearing at a fast trot when the first of the staff ran into the lane. The first had caught sight of the horse and cart before it turned the corner.
"Ya see 'em? Who was that?" the others asked when they had caught up.
Spent, the first bent over, hands on thighs. He shook his head.
"Too dark to tell."
"Was it Crowther?"
"I couldn't tell. Possibly."
"Best tell the warden. He ain't gonna like this."
The first stood up. "No, he ain't."
Few boys attempted to escape, even fewer succeeded. Two more on the list would not please the warden, especially if they had help. In addition, from Crowther. The man had been a thorn in the warden's side for months. Never missing an opportunity to discredit the warden's reputation and standing in the local community. Often turning up at events where the warden would be present and heckling him as he gave a speech. Now it looked like he had helped two runaways, boys who no doubt would not pass up the chance to paint a less than rosy picture of life at Valparaiso. No, this development would definitely not please the warden. Funding for the home was per child, not for empty chairs.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
|Subject: Re: How it Began. . . || |
How it Began. . .