Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Weathering Storms Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:42 pm|| |
Weathering StormsSo here we are, under cover of a blanket of stars, some so bright and sparkly they almost penetrate shut eyelids. They’re pretty against the night sky and get a fella to thinkin’.
Hard ground we should be used to, but to tell the truth, it’s a let-down from what we had – a comfortable enough cabin with soft beds and a fire to keep us warm, food enough to keep us fed, whiskey to give a nice buzz, and cards to while away a night in the bunkhouse – the comforts of and a place to call home even if we were wanted men. Sure, we spent enough time sleepin’ in bed rolls, campin’ out with a fire to keep us warm, or not, dependin’ on who might be trailin’ us. But we’ll do what we have to.
We’re here now because the stage we’re waitin’ on was late, and the hotel full. We’d already sold our horses and tack, with only whatever personal stuff we could carry around in saddlebags and bedrolls left. Between us, we don’t have a lot, but maybe we really don’t need that much. We kept the rifles too because they can be dear to replace and might be needed to hunt dinner. We’ve only been at this less than a month and I’m already missin’ havin’ somebody cookin’ my meals; there was always somethin’ on the stove in the bunkhouse.
Between us we don’t have much money either. We’re already near the end of what Heyes won in that last poker game a few weeks ago. Might have to depend more on winnin’ at cards to provide for ourselves – Heyes sure is good at it and I’m no slouch. With this depression, good-payin’ jobs are hard to find. It won’t be easy but we’ll do the best we can.
We have an offer of a delivery job from somebody Lom’s friend knows, if we can get to Laramie in enough time and we’re already delayed. I’m not sure it’s safe to still be in Wyoming, but we have to go where the jobs are. Sooner or later we’ll have to leave. It has to be safer where we’re not wanted.
Over time, we watched the bounties on us go from fifty dollars when we first started to ten thousand apiece. We excelled at what we did. Between Heyes’ plannin’ and schemin’ and me backin’ him up, we were a great team. We still are. But, now we’re tryin’ a new direction, goin’ for amnesty.
We always tried to be the best at what we did, and they called us the most successful outlaws in the history of the West. We used to be proud of that, but now I’m not so sure. I mean, others were pretty successful, too, but what do they have to show for it? Most of them are dead, or at least in prison for what amounts to the rest of their lives – “life” or even twenty years does sound pretty final. We had our glory, but we’re getting’ older, too – makes you think differently. Maybe the success is in still bein’ alive and free.
We’re surprised the Governor even considered amnesty for us. We’re not exactly two-bit petty thieves after all. But Lom persuaded him somehow. He was second only to Heyes in talkin’ real smooth.
What’s different now is a resolve to put our past behind us. Make honest men of ourselves. What I do know is it won’t be easy. Sometimes I think Heyes has a better chance without me, and maybe we should consider breakin’ up so he’s able to get it. With my reputation as a gunny, it has to be easier for him if I’m not around.
But, Heyes says we’ll weather the storms together, find our way through the next year and keep on the straight and narrow so the Governor has to keep his word. With his silver tongue, he’s talked us out of bad situations, and we even ended up smellin’ like roses. Heyes sometimes sounds like a poet, usin’ lots of figurative language. I’m more straightforward than that and just say what I’m thinkin’.
Heyes is over there sleepin’ away. I’m glad one of us can. That’s funny because those roles are usually reversed. I have no trouble sleepin’ and it’s Heyes who’s up late at night thinkin’. I guess this whole pursuit of amnesty’s been weighin’ on my mind. It doesn’t seem fair the Governor would give it to us conditional-like but still keep the prices on our heads. But he said he needs to see if we can do it. Lom said it wasn’t politically expedient for him to do it in the first place, at least not right now. Lom was surprised the Governor went as far as he did. But, time will tell if we can stay out of trouble, and if the Governor will keep his word. I hope he does.
So here we are, still under cover of that blanket of stars, enough to keep a body awake. Hard ground we’re used to and we’ll be doin’ more of it now that we’re travelin’. Sure, it’s a step down from the comforts we had, and our reputations and wanted posters follow us wherever we go, but to tell the truth, it’s freein’ in a way, knowin’ we’re doin’ our best to stay inside the law. As Heyes says, it becomes a habit, and it won’t be easy, but we’re determined to see it through. I’m not much of a philosopher or anything like that, but the storms’ll pass and the sun will shine – more figurative stuff, but I thought of it myself.
So here we are, camping out behind the livery for lack of space after the stage was late and the hotel full. Or, to clarify, there was one room left but my partner felt compelled to let the ladies behind us have it. He sure does have an eye for the gentler sex and a soft spot for the needy. Hard ground aside, the stars sure are pretty tonight, though, all clustered and illuminating the night sky, like a canopy keeping watch over us. It’s pretty dark out these parts, so you can see all the way to the planets and beyond. Makes a body’s problems seem small in comparison.
In any case, I do my best thinking and planning at night, usually lying awake while Kid is in dreamland somewhere. He’s sleeping quiet tonight, like always. I think he’s smiling in his sleep, but it’s dark so maybe I’m just imagining it. We’re both pretty still at night, not too much tossing and turning, so we don’t wake each other up much, even when sharing a bed.
Sharing a bed … Who would have thought? But that’s as far as the money stretches these days. We did as kids at the home but had our own rooms back at the Hole. I miss our cabin and the boys, and the creature comforts we took for granted. But with technology getting better and better and safes harder to crack, it’s about time we left that business behind and set out on our course to amnesty. I really didn’t think the Governor would go for it at first, telling Kid it was for chicken thieves and such, not for the likes of us. We were too successful, but that’s what we strove for. Even wound up with ten thousand dollar bounties on our heads, wanted dead or alive. We’ve both wondered how we went the way we did. But, there’s a little larceny in all of us, some more than others. I have to smile at that.
We’ve only been at this about a month and times are bad, so jobs aren’t plentiful. And we’re pretty picky about what we do, too – nothing too hard on the back if we can help it. Robbing was pretty easy once we got the hang of it. It fed my thirst for challenges and learning new things, but with the safes getting harder to open and lawmen smarter, it was the right time for us to quit.
Although I grew up with a good grounding in the Good Book, I’m not a religious man; but when a little old lady from Boston just happened to have an amnesty notice at our last job, my partner seemed convinced it was the way to go. We weren’t at our best that day, probably even the worst we’d been in a long time. And for that Boston lady – Miss Birdie – to chide us like that, well, he took notice. I could tell from the tone of his voice maybe it was something we should do. Now I’m not saying it was a sign, but when my partner takes heed of something, I listen. He follows me without question most of the time, and I owe him the same consideration, although I hate to tell him that.
So far we’ve had employment which didn’t pay a lot, and we’re on our way now to Laramie for a delivery job; that is, if we get there on time. I don’t think Colonel Harper is going to wait too long on us. His matter is time sensitive. We gave ourselves an extra day to get there, but with the delay now, we’ll be lucky to make it. I hope we do. The pressure will be off me to win big at poker. I mean, I hardly ever lose and love the competition. It feeds something in me like a good book does that even food or a good looking woman doesn’t. But having to play to win, especially when I’m starting with a miniscule stake like we have now between us, can be annoying and take the fun out of it. I don’t want to let on to Kid about that. After all, it’s my winnings from last time that’s keeping us going, and we’re almost out of funds. Oh yeah, we do have money from the sale of the horses and gear, but that doesn’t count. We’ll have to buy new ones when we get to Laramie.
Kid wants to leave Wyoming. He says it’s safer to be where we’re not wanted. I know he’s right, but although hardly anyone knows what we look like, we’ve run into one or two people over the years who were present at jobs we pulled. I really don’t think there’s anywhere we’d be perfectly safe, unless we went all the way East. But I’ve never crossed the Mississippi, and although Kid was in Philadelphia once, he said it was dusty and crowded and didn’t like it. We’re both happy in the wide open spaces out here. Although we think of going to South America, neither of us speaks Spanish but for a word or two we picked up along the way. There’s always Australia but that’s too far away. Now crossing into Canada might be feasible. We could probably disappear pretty quick there and come back after the year is up with a spotless record so the Governor can make our conditional amnesty permanent, but neither of us likes the cold much. I figure if we don’t stay in one place too long, we should be okay. We’ll have to see.
We’ve resolved to get this amnesty. Besides technology and posses getting better and smarter, the truth is we’re getting too old for this. Robbing is a young man’s game. Sooner or later, we’d get caught, or worse yet, I’m afraid someone would come along who’s faster than my partner and would want to prove it. I’m not sure that wouldn’t happen anyway with amnesty, but it’s the chance we have to take. We’ll probably have to keep our aliases, too, at least until word of us not being wanted anymore gets out and people get used to the idea. We’ve gotten real used to calling ourselves Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones. I’m surprised by how second nature it’s become.
I have to reassure Kid sometimes. He says we should break up because the amnesty will be easier for me to get alone. Even though I kid him a lot, the honest truth is we’re a team. We’ll get it together or not at all. Never mind being family; he’s my best friend and partner – none better. He tells me the only reason I’m still alive is because of him. I hate to admit it, but he’s probably right.
So, with my genius and silver tongue leading the way, we’ll weather whatever storms cross our paths together; keep on the straight and narrow so the Governor has to keep his word. I just hope Kid never has to use his gun.
In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for ways to make money and keep ourselves going. Something I read from “Tom Sawyer” comes to mind, about always being willing to take part in any enterprise that offers entertainment and requires no money, and having an abundance of that sort of time that isn’t money. Even though we robbed for a living, I guess that describes the way it was as part of the gang, lolling around between jobs with all the time on our hands. But now we need to be employed.
Kid’s over there sleeping and it’s about time I got there too. Won’t get much rocking in a stagecoach all day tomorrow. Good thing I have a book to read, a novel by Walt Whitman. I’d read out loud if it’s only Kid and me on board, but given the ladies who’ll also be passengers, I’m afraid I’ll have to read to myself. From what I’ve heard, “Franklin Evans” isn’t appropriate for mixed company.
So here we are. Maybe if I close my eyes, that canopy of stars will lull me to sleep. The ground’s hard, sure, but I have my partner for company and we’re on our way to amnesty. We’ll do our best to stay inside the law, and if we have to resort to a little larceny to stay out of harm’s way, so be it. As long as Lom and the Governor don’t hear about it, we should be fine. We’ll keep moving and stay out of trouble. What was that Kid said earlier? Oh yeah, the storms will pass and the sun will shine. And he says he’s not a philosopher! He underestimates himself.
Sweet dreams, Kid. See you in the morning.