New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:21 pm|| |
Beth disembarked from the train with bags in hand and feeling somewhat trepidatious. It was a cold and gray afternoon with snow falling lightly along with the temperatures and the promise in the air was of more snow to come. Lots of it. Beth had probably made it home just in time.
She walked nervously up and down the platform until she turned and finally, but anxiously saw her father. They started towards one another, but neither was smiling, indeed Jesse’s mouth was set in a hard line and Beth felt her stomach twist into an even bigger knot than it had already been in. Father and daughter stood facing one another and Beth put her bags down at her feet and then stood up straight and looked her father in the eye. She loved him dearly and it broke her heart to meet with his disapproval but she was adamant that she would not back down on this.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity of standing and staring at one another, Jesse broke the silence.
“Bethany,” he greeted her quietly.
Oh, she knew she was in trouble now.
But Jesse stepped forward to pick up her bags and then turned on his heel and walked back towards the waiting surrey. Beth hung her head for a second and then silently followed.
The ride back out to the Double J was anything but pleasant. Apparently Jesse didn’t have too much to say to his daughter and Beth felt that she would have much preferred it if he had spent the time yelling at her rather than sitting in stoic silence. All of her resolve to ‘not back down’ was being deflated by the simple fact that she was being given no obstacles to fight against. Kind of hard to self-righteously stand your ground when no one was challenging you.
Half way home all of Beth’s resolve to be right had dissolved into anxious repentance and she was overcome by the need to explain herself and to try and lessen some of the disapproval being silently heaped upon her.
“I’m sorry Papa,” she finally succumbed. “but I had to see him and nobody was willing to take me. I asked Thaddeus and he refused. I asked Clementine and she wouldn’t go for it either. Everybody kept on insisting that I was too young and that Joshua wouldn’t want me to come anyways! But I had to! I had to see for myself! Please understand.”
Silence ensued for a few more minutes as the horse trotted on through the snow. Beth sighed with hanging head and snuggled deeper into her blanket. She knew her father would be angry with her, but he had never before been so angry that he was not willing to talk. Finally though, Jesse relented and though he still would not look at her and his voice was tight, he did open up communication.
“Do you have any idea how worried we were?” he asked her. “When I arrived at the train station and you were not there all sorts of wild fears ran through my mind. And your mother…! You couldn’t even bother to send us a telegram!”
“I hadn’t planned on being gone that long,” Beth explained in a small voice. “and I didn’t realize that you would be meeting my train.”
“How else did you expect to get home?” her father demanded. “Were you planning to walk out to the ranch from town?”
“No! I just….I didn’t think.”
“You’re darn right you didn’t think!” Jesse agreed. “Your mother was beside herself with worry! Thank goodness Sister Julia had an address for Thaddeus and sent us a telegram to let us know where you were! I swear Beth! Right now I feel like locking you up in your bedroom and throwing away the key until you’re thirty-five! And I’m certainly going to have a thing or two to say to Bridget about this too—and don’t you dare deny that she had anything to do with this because I know darn well that she did!
“You two were always good at instigating things like this together! I swear, Steven is going to have his hands full marrying into this family—especially when he realizes that he’s going to be inheriting the younger sister as well! Poor man—I feel like I should warn him now that he would be much better off packing his bags and returning to Wyoming still single and worry-free!” Big sigh, shaking of the head. “Well, if this incident hasn’t opened his eyes, I guess nothing will. Young and stupid! By the time he figures it out it’ll be too late.”
Jesse finally quieted down and focused on keeping the horse on the road since the snow was getting deeper and the track was hard to distinguish. Beth sat silently and sent a furtive glance over to her father, hoping that the worst of the onslaught was over with.
Fortunately anything more that Jesse might have wanted to bestow upon his daughter would have to wait because they soon were pacing down the road towards the ranch and then into the yard and over to the far barn. Sam, who had been waiting for them to return, quickly stepped out to take hold of the horse’s bridle and allow the two people to step out of the surrey.
“I’m sure glad you folks made it back,” he stated as he patted the horse. “I was beginning to get worried.”
“Yeah, it’s falling pretty heavy now,” Jesse observed. “As soon as you get ole’ Monty unharnessed and put away, why don’t you just head for home. I’m sure Maribelle is getting worried herself by now.”
Sam smiled and nodded. “Yes sir, Mr. Jordan. Thank you.”
Then Sam clucked to the gelding and they moved into the barn. Once inside Sam quickly released the horse from the shafts and pushed the surrey back and out of the way. He unharnessed the animal and then gave him a quick rub down to brush away the snow and to make sure he was as dry as he could be before putting him into a stall and throwing him some hay.
Karma, Buck and Spike along with Sam’s own horse were all comfortably settled into their stalls by that time. They hardly gave the newcomer a second snort while they munched away at their own snack and feeling pretty content with their lot.
Being inside a sturdy barn filled with horses on a cold and snowy day brings with it its own kind of peaceful pleasure. It can still be chilly, but the warmth from the horses’ thickly coated bodies along with the sounds of munching and snorting and stamping of feet makes one feel cozy and welcomed. Therefore it was with some reluctance that Sam brought his own horse out into the isle and commenced to saddle her up so that he could himself head for home.
It was at times like these that he regretted that home was no longer just across the yard in the bunkhouse, with the good wood stove making the small room cozy and the coffee always ready to drink. Still, it was a payoff. Once he did get home he would be greeted by his wife who could also make their small home warm and cozy and he could be sure that the coffee would be on and ready for him as soon as he walked in the door. All he had to do was get there.
His little sorrel mare wasn’t all that pleased about being hauled out of her stall either and stood stoically and with her ears back throughout most of her tacking up. She had been nice and comfortable right where she was, and now she had to go out in that?! Life for a horse just wasn’t fair sometimes. But then it occurred to her that Mrs. Human would have a nice warm mash waiting for her in her own stall at her other home so perhaps a quick trot through the snow to receive that wasn’t too much of a sacrifice for her to make.
Sam got her saddled, made sure everything in the barn was put away and then bundling himself up in his coat, hat and gloves, he led his mare out into the whiteness. Actually now the temperatures didn’t seem that cold—it was quite pleasant out. The snow falling and leaving a thick white covering upon the ground made everything seem quiet and peaceful—almost serene. He smiled and giving his mare a pat on the neck, he mounted up and they headed at a trot out of the yard and towards his home and his wife.
Inside the ranch house Beth was getting hit with a chill of another kind. She really must have messed up big time for her mother to be giving her the cold shoulder. Even J.J. who was sitting on the floor and ‘colouring’ on some scrape paper looked up at the three adults with a very worried expression on his face. The atmosphere in the living room was oppressive even to him.
“Can I help you with dinner Mama?” Beth asked hopefully.
“No,” Belle answered over her shoulder. “Why don’t go upstairs and put your things away and then perhaps I’ll feel like talking to you after that.”
“Yes Mama,” Beth answered quietly and then with a quick sideways glance to her father she took her bags upstairs to unpack.
As soon as she was out of sight Belle turned to face her husband and they exchanged knowing smiles.
“Do you think its working?” Belle whispered.
Jesse nodded. “You should have seen her face while we were driving home,” he commented. “it was all I could do not to start laughing right then and there.”
“Ohhh, thank goodness I wasn’t with you!” his wife commented with a smile. “I don’t think I could have handled it.”
“Hmmm. All I had to do was remind myself how worried we were about her and that helped me a lot to keep a straight face,” Jesse admitted. “A little bit of the cold shoulder now should make her think twice about pulling something like that again.”
The downstairs bedroom door opened and Jed poked his head out.
“How did it go?” he asked quietly.
Jesse gave him the thumbs up sign and then Jed came out to replenish his coffee cup. He was over by the stove helping himself when Beth came downstairs, and seeing her friend, she sent him a warm smile.
“Hello Thaddeus!” she greeted him. “I really need to talk to you about….”
“Not right now Beth,” Jed interrupted her as he headed back to his bedroom. “I ah…I have some words I have to decipher.”
Then he was gone, the bedroom door closing firmly behind him. Beth looked confused; what did he mean? Words to decipher? She looked to her mother but Belle turned her back on her and continued on with supper preparations. Beth creased her brow and turned to her father.
“I’m busy with the books right now Beth,” he commented as he settled in at the dinning room table and started opening up the ledgers.
So then Beth smiled and turned to her little brother who had been watching the unfolding drama with intense interest. As soon as he locked eyes with his sister however, he quickly turned away and was once again enthralled with his artful masterpiece on the floor. Beth sighed dejectedly and with one last glance around at her family she turned and sulked her way back up to her room. Dinner was going to be an uncomfortable affair.
As it turned out, the first fifteen minutes of sparse and cold dinner conversation was very uncomfortable, but fortunately for Beth the youngest member of the Jordan family decided that the punishment of his older sister had gone on for long enough. He finally broke under the pressure and started to cry and then Beth, who was probably hurt more by his outburst than any of the other cold shoulders, was instantly on her feet and over to him.
“Oh no sweetie,” she begged him as she picked him up in her arms. “don’t cry. Please don’t cry. I’m sorry.”
She gave her brother a big hug and little J.J.; still crying lustily put his arms around his sister’s neck and returned the hug. He didn’t know why everybody was mad at his favorite sibling, but he’d had enough of it and decided that it was time to put the matter to rest.
Everybody else at the table all sat back with a sigh and an ‘oh well’ type of response and the atmosphere instantly improved. Beth continued to stand by the table hugging her brother and whispering assurances to him until his sobs gradually settle down. Then he pushed himself off of her shoulder and staring into her eyes he smiled through his tears. Beth smiled back at him and gave him a kiss. He giggled and leaned in for another hug and then kissed her on the cheek too.
Even Jed felt the ‘Aww’ factor come in to play and then everyone was smiling and Beth returned her brother to his chair and she did likewise. Silence ensued once again. Beth sighed and realized that she had better face the music.
“I am sorry that I worried you all so much,” she admitted. “I was just so intent on how to get out to see Joshua that I didn’t realize how selfish I was behaving. But I can certainly see it now and I truly am sorry. I’m not sorry that I saw him but I’m sorry for what I put you all through.”
Jesse and Belle exchanged looks and a quick silent conversation took place. Then Belle smiled.
“Alright,” Jesse said. “Apology accepted. But don’t you ever do anything like that again or I will lock you up and throw away the key until you’re thirty-five!”
Beth smiled. “Yes Papa.”
By the time coffee and pie had made its way to the table, the conversation was in full swing and Beth was in her glory relating the events she had witnessed while out at the prison.
“He got beat up again?!” Jed asked somewhat incredulously.
“Yes!” Beth was adamant. “And it was just for doing his job! He stopped one of the new guards from doing further damage to an injured man but that head guard—Carson?”
“Well, he didn’t think that was a good enough reason for Joshua to ‘break’ the rules and he came into the infirmary later and, well…he really hurt Joshua.”
“Ahhh, jeez!” Jed groaned. “And now I’m stuck here and can’t get out to see him! How badly was he hurt, do you know?”
“Oh yes!” Beth answered him and then added with a hint of pride. “I helped to patch him up! It was really interesting watching the doctor set that broken rib! And then with the fingers, he just took each one and gave it a quick yank to get them looking like fingers again! You could hear the bones crackling as they got forced back into place!”
“Oh dear,” said Belle. “I’m not sure if this is quite the proper supper conversation. And it must have hurt poor Joshua!”
“Oh no! Dr. Morin wouldn’t have done that to him while he was awake! He had put Joshua to sleep with morphine—I’m sure he didn’t feel a thing!” Jed cringed at the mention of that drug but only Jesse noticed and smiled. “And it was really interesting Mama,” Beth insisted. “Then Dr. Morin, he showed me how to splint the fingers and then tape them up to the other fingers so they wouldn’t be able to move and then we wrapped the whole hand in gauze. We also taped up the rib so that it wouldn’t be able to move as well, though I’m afraid Joshua is going to be awfully stiff for awhile.”
Then she creased her brow and reflected. “I wasn’t sure about that Dr. Morin at first—he can be awfully crude,” another quick look exchanged between mother and father. “but he’s actually a very nice man once you get passed his language.”
Jed snorted. “Yeah, I suppose that’s one way of describing Doc Morin. He is different, that’s for sure.”
“Morin?” Jesse asked. “any relation to our deputy?”
“Ah yeah,” Jed recalled. “Heyes said that Joe is the Doc’s nephew. I don’t know how much they keep in touch though.”
“Hmm. Small world.”
Jed nodded, and then turned back to Beth. “What about Officer Reece?” he asked her. “Wasn’t he around through any of this?”
“Yes,” Beth nodded emphatically. “He stopped the one guard from hitting Joshua with that club thing while Joshua was trying to help the injured man, and he escorted us back to the infirmary. But then he left, and I suppose now that I think about it, that’s probably what Mr. Carson was waiting for because he and the other guard showed up right after that.
“ Dr. Morin tried to stop them from hitting Joshua, but he just got pushed out of the way and Sister Julia tried to reason with them, but…..” Beth shrugged, indicating that no one was going to stop Carson once he got started. She wisely decided not to mention her part in stopping the onslaught, remembering the chewing out she had received the last time she had gotten in-between one of her friends and potential danger. “When Mr. Reece came by later, he was really mad,” she smiled. “Officer Reece seems like a very nice man.”
“Yeah,” Jed commented dryly. “for a prison guard.” He wisely decided not to mention the fact that it was Reece who had broken Heyes’ arm a while back. AND worked him into the ground out in the pouring rain for being drunk! Still, that all may have been justified—considering. So he’d just leave it alone. “He does seem to be willing to help out and he keeps me informed of what is going on there. I expect I’ll be hearing from him about this incident soon enough.”
“Oh,” Beth commented, hoping that Officer Reece wouldn’t mention her standing up to two guards with bully clubs. Then she looked over at her father, building up the courage to breech a new but related topic. “Papa, I really feel that I have to do something about this. The conditions at that prison are terrible. Joshua doesn’t even look like himself anymore!”
The two men at the table exchanged looks. Jesse had heard much the same concerns from Jed.
“Well,” Jesse sighed. “I suppose it’s a good thing that winter is setting in, because I don’t want you going back there.”
Jesse held up his hand to silence her. “Not yet, Beth,” he compromised. “Perhaps in the spring you can join Steven and Bridget, if he’s willing to take you.”
“I could go with Thaddeus!” Beth insisted.
“Ahhh….” Jed started to protest.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Jesse confirmed.
“But why not?” Beth protested. “Thaddeus would look after me.”
“I have no doubt about that,” her father commented. “but you are still a maiden Beth and it would not be proper.”
“Arrgg!” Beth was frustrated. “Thaddeus wouldn’t do anything Papa! You know that!”
“I’m actually more concerned about what you might do!” her father informed her. “You are a little bit too head strong for your own good sometimes. Still, we’ll wait until spring and then we’ll see. Besides, Hannibal may be out by then anyways,” then to Jed. “Don’t you have an appointment to see the new governor in January?”
“Ah yup,” Jed confirmed. “Me, Steven and Lom will be going to talk to him about all this.”
“Well, here’s hoping. In the meantime Beth, you can always carry on with your letter writing. Letting people know what you’re trying to accomplish is a step in the right direction.”
“That’s true,” Beth agreed. “And you’re right; there really isn’t much I can do through the winter anyways.” She sighed. “I think I will start writing some more letters.”
The other three adults at the table exchanged looks. Beth had agreed to that decree a little bit too easily for their liking. Then Jay started banging his cup and voicing his displeasure at still being entrapped in his chair. Dinner was over with! Why was everyone still just sitting around!?
“Mr. Thompson, a word if you would.”
“Oh. Mr. Reece. Umm, something wrong?”
“Just some words of caution,” Reece assured the younger man. “Being new here I realize that you are still trying to find your footing. Also, seeing as how Mr. Carson is the senior guard he would naturally be the best person for you to look to for instruction.” Thompson nodded. “However, Mr. Carson does have a tendency to lean towards the aggressive side when dealing with certain inmates.”
“Yeah,” Thompson agreed. “but from what I’ve seen some of ‘em ask for it.”
“Sometimes yes,” Kenny had to agree. “But these men are not ignorant savages; most of them know what is fair punishment and what isn’t.”
“Yeah,” Thompson was becoming suspicious.
“Now, again I realize that you’re new and you really haven’t had the chance to learn your way around yet or to know which of the inmates you can push and which ones you can’t.”
“Well I treat the inmates all the same Mr. Reece,” Thompson insisted. “and if one of ‘em pushes me, I’ll push ‘em back!”
“I certainly agree with the latter part of that statement,” Kenny told him. “but if you insist on treating the inmates all the same then you are going to get yourself into trouble.”
“But the rules are the rules,” Thompson was trying to understand where this was going. “If an inmate breaks a rule then he needs to be punished. They have to be kept in line.”
“Agreed,” Kenny confirmed. “But there are different ways of doing that. The majority of the inmates here are just young down on their luck fellas who ran into some hard times. They just want to serve their sentence and go home. They learn the rules and they obey them and they don’t generally give us much trouble.
“Then there are others like Harris and Johnston who aren’t too bright but tend to be mean. They learn the rules but will go out of their way to break them every chance they get, so those fellas, yeah; you gotta come down hard on them or they will just run you ragged.
“Then we have the others like Boeman and Heyes who aren’t stupid,” Here Thompson snorted. Kenny hesitated and sent him a hard look. “and that’s where you’re making your first real mistake—and it’s a mistake that could get you into trouble here.”
“What’s that?” Thompson asked feeling like he was already getting bored with this conversation.
“Somewhere along the line you’ve come to the conclusion that Heyes is stupid.”
“Yeah well,” Thompson shrugged. “Everyone says that Hannibal Heyes is such a brilliant man, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that. He seems kinda dim witted to me.”
“And that assumption is going to get you into trouble,” Kenny repeated. “Make no mistake about it; Heyes is a brilliant man—probably smarter than you and me put together.” Another derisive snort from Thompson which Kenny chooses to ignore. “He knows the rules inside out, upside down, backwards and forewords and he knows how to manipulate them. He knows how to use them to his advantage and he knows how to circumvent them. And most importantly of all he knows how to ignore them. If he feels justified in seeking retaliation he will do so—rules be damned.”
Thompson furrowed his brow.
“How can he ignore them?” Thompson asked. “If he breaks the rules then he will be punished.”
“Yes, and he knows that,” Kenny continued. “but he also knows what’s fair and what isn’t. Often the loss of privileges or a stint in the dark cell is enough to dissuade the inmates from breaking the rules again. Going after any of these men with the intent to do physical damage is usually a tactic that is not necessary to get the message across and only serves to create resentment. If you continue to abuse your privilege here and delve out unwarranted punishments, Heyes is the kind of man who will eventually retaliate. And he won’t care about the punishment for doing so; he’ll simply accept it as the price he has to pay.”
“So you’re telling me not to punish him for breaking the rules?”
“No, Mr. Thompson. I’m saying don’t punish him unfairly. Respect the inmates and on the most part they will respect you. Don’t back down from them and don’t ever assume anything. The best piece of advice I can give you for working in a prison Mr. Thompson, is always watch your back, treat the inmates with respect and always be fair when it comes to delving out punishment. If you can get through the day knowing that you’ve done that, then you’ve had a good day.”
“Yessir, Mr. Reece,” Thompson responded. “I’ll certainly keep that in mind.”
Then Thompson headed off to continue with his rounds. Kenny watched him go with some trepidation. He had the feeling that he hadn’t gotten through to the man at all.
Heyes was shivering. He was back in his cell though far from being healed up enough to return to his regular work schedule. He was stiff and sore and the two broken fingers on his right hand made it difficult for him to write any letters so he had to content himself with reading and deciphering new words. The latest new word was ‘Qualm’ and Heyes had already known the meaning of that one and in his present mood and condition he had come up with a sentence quite quickly; ‘Qualms!? Yeah! I have some qualms! I have qualms about spending another freezing winter in THIS DAMN PRISON!’ Oh groan, sigh—whimper. I just wanna go home! Why can’t I just go home! I’ll be good…I promise….
Jed hadn’t been able to make it out for his usual visit, and though it had been disappointing for Heyes, it hadn’t come as a surprise. Right after Beth had departed for Colorado the winter had taken hold with a vengeance and the first of many blizzards had closed roads and shut down the trains so that even the mail was having a hard time getting through.
It was a tough time of year for the inmates. Not only was Christmas now fast approaching—which tended to make lonely hearts even lonelier, but the dark days and darker nights only made the cold more penetrating and the loneliness more acute.
Heyes was more prepared for the cold weather this year but he still felt the chill and he wondered how he had even survived it last year when he’d had very little to stave off the freezing temperatures. Of course, come to think of it; he almost hadn’t survived it so things were already better this year. He tried to remind himself of that while he lay on his cot in his cell, in the dark, once again staring at a ceiling he couldn’t see; things were better.
He was warmer, he was eating and he had friends. Jed Curry was still his partner and that was certainly better than where they were this same time last year. A new governor was in office and though that wasn’t a guarantee of anything happening, it was certainly better than the same old dictate.
Ohh, let’s see; what else? Oh! The music! Yes that had been a life-saver. He’d turn that on in his mind again once he was ready to settle for the night. And Dr. Slosson with her lectures and the new words every week—he had to admit that this was sorta fun. Kenny was standing by him and Dr. Morin too. He wasn’t quite sure where he stood with the warden though; Heyes hadn’t been taken up to see him since he was injured. That could go either way; if Warden Mitchell clued in to the fact that Heyes had outright lied to him there could be hell to pay. And Heyes really wished that Carson would go fall off a ledge somewhere. He could handle Thompson on his own, but him backing up Carson was not a winning proposition—at least not for Heyes.
Heyes rolled over onto his side and snuggled into his warm socks and mittens and toque and sweater and long johns and blankets and thought that the worse thing about the colder nights is that he didn’t have a nice warm soft body to snuggle into as well. He no longer thought about sex all that often and this was both a relief and a concern for him. It was frustrating becoming aroused when there wasn’t anything he could do about it other than—what he could do about it.
Then, of course as a young and healthy male, the fact that he didn’t fantasize much about sex these days, even though it was far more comfortable to not, the fact that he didn’t caused him to worry. Was he going to forget how? What would happen the next time (if there was a next time) he found himself in the embrace of a warm and enticing feminine bed-mate? Would he still be able to, well—perform?
Oh the things a man would worry about when he has nothing else to do but stare into the darkness. Heyes sighed heavily and decided that it was late and time to try and sleep. He closed his eyes for real and settled even deeper into his warm cocoon. Who to listen to tonight, he thought. Something gentle and relaxing. Something that would calm his mind and relax his body—something soothing….Chopin, yeah. Something by Chopin.
Warden Mitchell was busy at his desk catching up with correspondence that had finally made its way to the prison. A series of nasty blizzards had slowed everything down from nunnery visits to supplies and to the mail service. But finally the clouds had departed, the temperatures dropped and the cold sun shone down on a white world of a winter wonderland. The access roads got cleared, the snow packed down and life started to move again.
Mitchell was not too pleased on this particular morning however. The rush of backed up mail had brought with it a number of letters that had not brought good news. Indeed the news was rather irritating to say the least. Who in the world were these people who seemed to keep coming out of the woodwork, thinking that they knew more about running a prison than he did?
Mr. Curry he was getting used to even though the man could be a pain in the assets and Sister Julia of course had lodged her verbal complaint of unnecessary abuse. Then there was the lawyer, Mr. Granger who just wouldn’t go away. What was that about? Usually once a case was settled and the convict incarcerated the lawyer would simply disappear; he was no longer being paid so why stick around? Indeed, Mr. Mitchell really had no contact with most of the lawyers who had handled the cases of the inmates. There was no point; the case was over and the defendant was simply handed over to the prison system and forgotten about.
But Mr. Granger had maintained contact. Not only with his client, but with Mr. Mitchell himself and seemed to be of the opinion that he had some say in the treatment of said client. Somehow or other, word of Heyes’ most recent punishment had gotten out (probably by the Sister) and the lawyer had been very quick to send out a letter of reprimand. Mitchell had dismissed it at first, after all what was the lawyer actually going to do about it now that winter had set in? There was really nothing he could do about it anyways; this was Mitchell’s prison and he would run it his way! Besides that, Heyes’ punishment had been legitimate—attacking a guard in the middle of the work floor right in front of the assembly of inmates, of course he’d have to be punished for that!
But now Mitchell was starting to get very irritated as he worked his way through the pile of letters on his desk. Mrs. Abigail Stewart from Topeka Kansas—who the hell was that? Of course Heyes was originally from Kansas so maybe she was a childhood friend or something? Someone else who seemed to think that she knew better! Her letter had been professional and to the point, but there had been an underlying threat suggesting that the warden was being watched and that steps would be taken if the unwarranted abuses continued. Unwarranted abuses!!? Did Heyes have his own telegraph office in his cell or something?
Now Mitchell found himself staring at yet another letter written by a woman—what was it with these women anyways? Didn’t they have enough to do looking after their households and their children and keeping their noses out of men’s affairs? This latest letter was from a Miss Beth Jordan, (well that explains it; she’s not married so has nothing better to do with her time) and she intimates that she somehow has first hand knowledge of excessive punishment being delved out and that this treatment of the inmates will not go unchallenged. Mr. Heyes has friends (obviously)! And his friends are not going to stand by and allow this to continue! Something is going to be done…etc. Etc….
Mitchell sighed in frustration. This was simply the rantings of a young and flighty female who needed a man in her life to take her in hand and teach her her proper place! Something was going to be done indeed! Mitchell snorted. But still, a nagging doubt was beginning to wiggle its way into his gut and his jaw tightened as he sat and considered his options.
Perhaps it would be better, for the time being, to back off of Mr. Heyes. Let things settle down somewhat and give his friends the opportunity to relax and direct their attentions elsewhere. Friends and family could be such a nuisance sometimes and fortunately most of the inmates didn’t have much in the way of outside support. But apparently Mr. Heyes did, so Mr. Mitchell decided that he was going to have to start dealing with that particular inmate in a different manner.
The warden decided; he would back off Heyes for a while and let the inmate relax; let him get back into his regular routine. He could keep his privileges, keep his contacts and they could both carry on pretending that they were pulling the wool over the other one’s eyes. But no low-life inmate and his friends—and lawyer—were going to tell him how to run his prison! Just let them try it and they’d see then what Warden Mitchell was truly capable of!
So, life for Heyes did tend to settle down again through the winter at least when it came to cause and effect, crime and punishment. The warden pretty much left Heyes alone and was no longer asking him for much of anything and Heyes was just as happy not being put in a position where he was having to make things up.
Christmas came and went without too much of a hubbub. He went to the special Christmas service at the chapel, but decided not to stay for the handing out of gifts by the Sisters. He felt that his relationship with Sister Julia was beyond that now and that he had already received so much more from her in the way of friendship and support than any of the other inmates. So let the others receive their gifts and Heyes would just discreetly depart.
Sister Julia had other intentions along those lines however and when she didn’t find Heyes in amongst the assembly in the chapel, she requested that a guard escort her to Heyes’ cell so that she could deliver his gifts to him in person. She was disappointed to find herself in the company of Officer Thompson for this endeavor as she was having a difficult time forgiving him for his part in the assault upon her friend. In any case she was civil and polite to him and kept her own personal dislike for the man under wraps.
“On your feet Heyes,” Thompson ordered. “you have company.”
Heyes glanced up irritably from ‘A Christmas Carol’ and then saw who his visitor was and very quickly put his book aside and got to his feet.
“Sister Julia,” he mumbled a little self-consciously, feeling embarrassed now that he had ‘ducked out’ on her in the chapel. But then he smiled. “Merry Christmas Sister.”
“And a Merry Christmas to you too Joshua,” the Sister returned his smile. “I realize that perhaps you feel that you are not deserving of any more gifts from the convent—or from me for that matter. But I must insist.”
“Oh no Sister. You really don’t need to,” Heyes protested. “You’ve already given me so much.”
“Nonsense! It’s Christmas,” the Sister responded in her usual jovial good spirits. “The children over at the orphanage made some cookies for you and they were very adamant that I be sure to give them to you—in person! So, here they are.”
Heyes accepted the small box that apparently was full of Christmas cookies and smiled a little abashedly. The children made cookies especially for him?
“Thank you,” he said. “But why…?”
The Sister smiled a little sadly. “They feel a connection to you Joshua,” she explained. “They all know that you and Thaddeus were orphaned at a young age, just as they’ve been. They all read the dime novels about you and the older ones have all the newspaper articles from your trial. Whenever I visit with them they insist on hearing all about how you’re doing and hoping that you’re well.” She sighed with a little bit of frustration. “I can’t count how many times I have retold the story of how we all met. They seem to like hearing that one over and over and over again.”
Now Heyes really felt embarrassed. He saw Thompson roll his eyes and was tempted to punch him in the face, but seeing as how it was Christmas and all, he refrained.
“They ask about me?”
“Oh,” he looked down at the box in his hands, not quite sure how to respond to that. “I hope I don’t disappoint them,” he finally commented.
“No, I don’t think you do,” she assured him and placed a gentle hand on his arm as reassurance.
Thompson shifted uncomfortably. He really didn’t like the Sister getting that close to this particular inmate. He knew that for some reason he and the Sister were friends, but he didn’t trust Heyes and Carson had warned him that the man could be unpredictable. Still, the Sister apparently knew what she was doing so Thompson let it go but remained very watchful.
He still couldn’t understand why she insisted on calling him ‘Joshua’!
“They admire you,” the Sister continued. “You give them hope.”
“Hope?” Heyes asked, incredulously. “I’ve been an outlaw most my life only to end up in prison—how does that give them hope?”
“I don’t know,” Sister Julia admitted. “All I do know is that they admire and respect you. I guess they see in you someone who had a hard beginning, yet rose up to make something of yourself.” Heyes snorted. “I know. In the eyes of the law you are a criminal, but in the eyes of those children you are a ‘gentleman bandit’ who is dashing, romantic and even honourable—not to mention; very handsome,” she smiled again. “in the eyes of a child.”
Heyes laughed. “Yes well, so long as they don’t go off to become thieves and bandits themselves. There’s not much romantic or honourable about that!”
“I don’t think they will,” she assured him. “Most of them give every indication of growing up into fine citizens. But in the meantime, a little innocent romanticism isn’t going to do them any harm. I will tell them that you very much appreciated the cookies.”
“Yes indeed!” Heyes agreed. “And wish them all a Merry Christmas from me.”
“I will,” the Sister told him. “And now this second parcel is of course from the kind ladies in our parish who wished to contribute. I hope you will find it useful.”
“Ah, yes ma’am,” Heyes accepted the second parcel, having given up any thoughts of refusing the gifts. If it was something he already had he could always pass it on. “Thank you.”
“Goodbye for now Joshua.”
Heyes was left alone in his cell once again and he sat down on his cot, holding his box of cookies and thinking what an odd circumstance this was. Eventually Heyes opened up the box and took a look at the assortment of oddly shaped pieces of baked dough each adorned with a different colourful design depicting little Christmas items. One was a tree, another looked like snowflakes, another was, well Heyes supposed it was a cross—and was that supposed to be a running horse? A sheriff’s badge?
The convict smiled and picking up the treat with the badge design on it he took a sampling nibble and had to admit that it wasn’t too bad. Quite tasty actually—not quite as good as Belle’s baking, but nobody’s baking was as good as Belle’s baking! He’d have to find a way to thank the children for this little pleasure, he didn’t know how, but hopefully something would come up somewhere down the line.
He finished the one cookie and then closed up the box and slipped them onto the floor under his table. Then he took the second parcel that Sister Julia had given him and ripped open the brown paper wrapping. Some woolen long johns! Yes, those will come in handy. And some more socks. Good. He smiled again and reprimanded himself for being too proud sometimes. He should be more willing to accept gifts when offered to him, especially at Christmas time and just be happy that people who didn’t even know him were willing to give. He would be in dire straits again this winter if not for unsolicited gifts!
He settled himself back into his cot and picked up his book again, all prepared to read the afternoon away. Then he furrowed his brow and sent a discerning look over towards the box of cookies. Oh well, it’s Christmas, why not! So he reached down and grabbing the box of cookies he brought them up to rest on his stomach and then commenced to read the afternoon away while munching on sweet treats. Better him than the rats.
Last edited by Keays on Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:25 pm|| |
Then it was that on the Saturday that fell between Christmas and New Years, Lom came to visit. But as soon as Heyes saw the look on his friends face he knew that this wasn’t just a social call. Something had happened.
“Hey Lom,” Heyes greeted him, trying to keep the atmosphere light. “Nice to see ya’. Did you have a good Christmas?”
“Yeah Heyes, not bad,” Lom answered as he sat down opposite him at the table. “Had a nice supper over there at the Widow Jenkins’ place. You remember her, don’t ya’? Husband died last year from influenza.”
“Ahhh, nope can’t say as I do Lom, sorry,” Heyes admitted, and then smiled. “Is she someone you been seeing lately?”
“Well, yeah a bit,” Lom said. “Nothing serious, you know. Just two people with nowhere else to be on the holidays.”
Then Lom sighed and sent his friend an apologetic look.
“I’m sorry to have to tell ya’ this Heyes,” he finally confessed. “but Governor Baxter has resigned his office.”
“What? Already?” Heyes hated to admit it but he was disappointed at this news. He had been trying not to put too much hope into the possibility that a new governor might be more willing to re-access his case. But secretly he had been looking forward to the meeting that his friends had booked to go and speak with Governor Baxter and he had allowed hope to sneak into his conscious musings.
“Yeah,” Lom confirmed. “He put in his resignation about ten days ago and all appointments that had been booked for hearings have been canceled—for now.”
“Well….” Heyes was almost speechless in his disappointment. “What do we do then? Can’t we just book an appointment with the next governor?”
“There isn’t a governor for the territory right now,” Lom explained. “President Cleveland has appointed the Secretary of the Territory, ahhh, a Mr. Elliott Morgan just to fill in the office until a new governor can be sworn in.”
“Oh,” Heyes mumbled. “Can’t we make an appointment to see Mr. Morgan? Considering he’s temporary he might be quite happy to give me a pardon.” Heyes knew he was grasping at straws here.
“No,” Lom told him. “The governor’s office isn’t taking any appointments right now. It seems that Mr. Morgan is just in there to tend to the necessary duties to keep the territory running. He’s not legally able to make decisions like granting pardons or instating new laws or anything like that. Basically he’s just a figure head until a new governor takes over the office.”
Heyes sighed and stared silently down at his shackled hands. This was hitting him hard; harder than he would have thought. He hadn’t realized how much he was holding on to each and every little hope until that hope got squashed and then he felt like he was set back right to the beginning again.
“I’m sorry Heyes,” Lom said. “We didn’t want to just tell ya’ that in a letter and since Steven and the Kid are kinda snowed in I offered to try and get to ya’, since I’m the closest. I would have got here sooner but, well the weather just wasn’t co-operating.”
Heyes nodded but didn’t say anything for a few moments. Lom sighed and quietly shook his head in frustration.
“I know we keep on sayin’ this Heyes, and it’s probably sounding pretty hollow to ya’ by now, but ya’ gotta just hang in there. We’re gonna keep on tryin’.”
Heyes nodded again, still looking down at his hands.
“How long?” he asked in a slightly strained voice. “How long before a new governor will be in office?”
“I donno,” Lom admitted. “Hopefully early in the new year. As soon as he can, Steven will be booking us a new appointment and we’ll get in there to plead your case. So, like I said; just hang in there okay?”
Heyes nodded. “Yeah, okay Lom,” then he smiled and tried to brighten up a little bit, after all it wasn’t often that Lom came to visit. “It is good to see ya’ Lom and I do appreciate you comin’ all this way in the winter in order to tell me this in person. That means a lot.”
“Well, I figured it was the least I could do,” Lom responded. “and I have to admit I wanted to check up on ya’, make sure you’re eatin’ again!”
Heyes rolled his eyes, but somewhat good-naturedly. “Yeah Lom, I’m eating. There’s nothing terribly appetizing here, but I sure don’t want to get sick again.”
“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said in awhile,” Lom commented. “And yeah, I guess you do look a little better than the last time I saw ya’. Things been going okay lately? You staying outa trouble? Kid wrote me a letter sayin’ that you got ‘punished’ again. What was that all about?”
Heyes shrugged. “I overstepped the boundaries,” he admitted. “But a man’s life was on the line so I still feel that I was justified.”
“No, I know Lom,” Heyes conceded and then sighed with some resignation. “I’m learnin’ my way around here better now; like who my friends are and who I need to watch out for. I’m still helping in the infirmary and I’m trying to stay away from the people who don’t like me. I’m also working hard at keeping my mouth shut (a bit of a snort from Pearson standing by the door) and doing what I’m told.” Then he smiled ironically. “I think it’s finally sinking in that if I just do what I’m told, and behave myself then I won’t get hit!”
Lom chuckled. “Yeah, well Heyes, you never were one for taking orders that’s for sure. But sometimes ya’ gotta bend a little, or you’re gonna break.”
Heyes grinned until his dimples showed through “Oh you know me Lom; go with the flow.”
“Yeah, mmm hmmm,” Lom didn’t sound too convinced. “Well, I’d better be heading back Heyes. Just do me a favour and stay outa trouble will ya’?”
“Yeah Lom, I’ll try,” Heyes agreed. “and thanks again for coming. It was good ta’ see ya’.”
Pearson escorted Heyes back to his cell after his visit with the sheriff and even the guard could tell that the inmate’s mood had once again dipped into melancholy. Of course Pearson couldn’t have helped but over-hear the conversation between the convict and his friend and it didn’t take a genius to know that the news had not been good.
Pearson didn’t say anything to his charge all throughout the removal of the shackles or during the walk back through the prison proper, but once they were approaching Heyes’ cell door, the guard put a hand on the convict’s shoulder and much to Heyes’ surprise gave him an encouraging comment.
“Not all’s bad Heyes,” Pearson said. “The recent influx of mail as brought you some letters. Maybe those will cheer ya’ up a bit.”
“Oh,” Heyes’ surprise at the comment caused him to speak out of turn, but the guard ignored it. He turned and simply walked away, leaving Heyes to stand outside his cell door and looking at what was indeed an influx of letters scattered over his cot.
Heyes furrowed his brow in consternation. He didn’t think he had that many friends out there to make that large a pile of letters. This was odd indeed. Heyes finally uprooted himself from the hallway and went over to his cot and gathered all the letters up together. Then he sat down on said cot with his back and pillow nestled up against the corner of the wall and began to ruffle through them to see who they were all from and which ones would have priority.
Well, there was one from the Kid; that wasn’t a surprise. But it was awfully thick so it probably contained letters from Belle and Beth as well so that one would certainly be on the top of the pile. Then there was one from Bridget, separate from the others but he would read that one fairly early on too. They were all probably going to be talking about the same things anyways; like Christmas and the fine dinner and how Karma is doing and sending him warm thoughts, etc. etc. But he still liked to read about those things, even if they did make him feel a bit homesick—it would be far worse if they didn’t bother to tell him about their holidays at all. That would be awful!
Then he started coming across little letters that weren’t in envelopes, they were just single sheets of paper folded two times over and with a person’s first name printed rather crudely on the outside. These had obviously not been mailed, but simply dropped off by someone who had access to the prison. Heyes’ curiosity was definitely aroused and he shuffled through them, mumbling the names out loud as he read them thinking that maybe he might recognize some of them.
‘Melanie, William, Todd, Carol, Joe, Sally, Peter, Gillian…’ Heyes was feeling even more confused; he didn’t know any of these people. From the style of printing these were obviously children, but why would a bunch of children be writing to him? He opened up one of the letters and began to read it, and a chill went through him that touched his heart. These were the orphans! The ones whom Sister Julia had mentioned!
Heyes swallowed and shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t know why receiving letters from those children would cause him some distress, would make him feel—vulnerable, but it did. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to read them; even though he didn’t want to admit it, he was afraid of what old emotions their words might stir up within him again. Did he really want to go down that path? What were these children to him, anyways? Didn’t he have enough heartache? Didn’t he have enough worries without including a bunch of orphans looking to him for words of encouragement?
His brain kept telling him to cast the letters aside and go on to reading the ones from his friends, from the real people in his life but for some reason his body would not respond. He just sat there staring at the letter in his hand and reading the crudely written words that were scribbled upon it.
‘Dear Mr. Heyes; I hope you have a fun Christmas. We had chicken and even pie. Did you have a good dinner to? I hope you got lots of presents, I got a new sweater, it’s to big for me but Sister Julia says that I will grow into it. I hope she’s right cause I really like it! Did Kid Curry come and have Christmas dinner with you?...’
Than another one;
Mr. Heyes; I’m sorry your in prison, that can’t be much fun. Do you get to go outside? I really like reading about you in the stories. I hope I can be like you when I grow up. I’m sorry you lost your mommy and daddy. I lost my mommy and daddy to so I know what that feels like. Do you have any friends at the prison? I have friends here and they’re important to have so I hope you have some there. Maybe Kid Curry can come and live with you, that way he can be your friend there too then you wouldn’t be so lonely…’
Once Heyes got started reading the letters he couldn’t stop. He found himself going from laughing out loud at some innocent but surprisingly accurate comment from one little girl, to fighting a tightening throat and having to swallow down emotion from another insightful comment from a youthful heart. By the time he had finished reading the ten or so letters from the children he found himself to be emotionally exhausted. He leaned back against his pillow with his knees drawn up and just stared straight ahead at nothing for the longest time. He had absolutely no idea how to respond to this!
Finally he sighed and began to gather the letters together in a neat pile and tried to pull his mind back from the past and to focus again on the here and now. His first option, he supposed, was to talk with Sister Julia. Obviously she was the one who had delivered these letters to his cell—or at least had someone deliver them. So, next time he ran in to her over at the infirmary there would be some explaining to do. Still, Heyes had to admit to himself that it had been sweet and he did after all, appreciate it.
So, he took the pile of loose letters and put them in his box under the table and then turned his attention back to the letters that had actually arrived with the post. There was the one from Kid and the one from Bridget and then…Oh! A third one that he hadn’t noticed earlier. He picked it up and then froze—again. It was from Abi. A smile flitted across his face and he settled back into his pillow and opened the envelope.
The letter had been posted some six weeks previously, but the bad weather across the country had of course delayed it. She hadn’t written with Christmas in mind, just feeling the need to touch base.
I do hope that my last letter wasn’t too upsetting for you. That really wasn’t my intention, but I felt compelled to write because of a telegram I got from Jed informing me that you had been neglecting your health and not eating enough. That has been preying on my mind as the winter has begun to close in again with a vengeance, and I do hope that you have taken heed of Jed’s advice and started being a little more careful.
For goodness sake! There are easier ways to kill yourself, Man. Why are you putting your body through illness and privation? Are you dumb? I thought you were supposed to be smart, or is worrying the people who care for you a matter of insouciance for you. Poor Jed is worried sick. If you can’t look after your health for yourself, then at least do it for him and the others who care about you. Just think about the feelings of helplessness sweeping through your friends and please don’t add to that. Besides, you will get out of there eventually and you surely don’t want to be a broken man and unable to live a rich, full life as a free man; do you? Try focusing on the space in between your ears and realize how much you are hurting people. If that doesn’t work, think how pleased some people would be to see you destroyed and broken, and resolve to rob them of that!’
Heyes couldn’t help but smile at this reprimand as he could so easily hear her lecturing tone and see the finger being wagged under his nose!
‘Yes mother,’ he mouthed silently through his grin.
His smile continued as warmth of happiness spread through him, knowing that she still thought of him and still, apparently, cared a great deal about him.
‘Well, nagging over, for now, but I can’t promise it’s completely over if I hear of any more nonsense from you.
I thought I’d update you on the efforts going on outside. Your friends are still working hard, lobbying, petitioning and making sure that every person of influence is fully aware that nobody is about to sit back and let you be forgotten. All the efforts continue and that should help you to realize that if they haven’t given up, then you shouldn’t either. You have a part to play in this too, you know.
For my own part, I have continued to apply my own particular skill set to your issues. You may be aware of a few minor successes, but the change in faces has been frustrating, especially as I am working very much in isolation. I have to start again to find some new leverage. I have no doubt that I will. It’s the nature of the beast, and I have dealt with politicians for a large part of my life, but obstacles have been placed in my way and doors, previously open to me, have been slammed in my face. Mind you, you know my philosophy; if people underestimate you it only makes it easier to get one over on them.
These men see a woman and seriously underestimate me, not realizing that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and I have to fall back on more than just my persuasive arguments. As you are no doubt aware, I am not able to be as mobile as I previously was, so I am finding progress slow. Make no mistake though, it does continue.
I am sorry to tell you, but you have probably already realized, that so far we have not been successful in doing anything other than ruffling a few feathers. We keep trying, though. Remember that, and support us as we continue in our battle to get you released. Water can cut through stone under the right circumstances, so we keep right on, drip, drip, dripping away at the resistance.
I wonder, are you thinking of me at night as I asked? Part of me was afraid that you would screw up my letter and throw it in the bin without even reading it. I know how angry you were, but I don’t know if that continues to burn in you. For my part, I set time aside and I have done as I promised. I will hold our best times in my heart again tonight. I do want to offer an olive branch and make some peace between us.
Then his smile grew into a dimpled grin as he noted that this time, Abi had included a return address!—an open invitation for him to respond back to her.
He sat for some time just staring at the letter, not wanting to put it down and move on—it was that precious to him. He re-read it numerous times and ran his fingers gently across the ink, as though touching the words was in a way, touching her. Finally, he sighed again for the umpteenth time and then set the letter aside for now. He wanted to respond to it right away, but his barely healed fingers were still aching from the short letter he had written to Bridget so he knew he’d have to hold off for a bit. In the long run that might be a good thing as it would force him to slow down and consider his response before putting pencil to paper.
He wanted it to be perfect.
He sat back, resting his head against his pillow and closing his eyes. What an exhausting afternoon this had become—what a rollercoaster ride! He was almost afraid to open up and read the remaining letters now as he wasn’t sure that his constitution could handle it all! Then he chuckled to himself at how silly he was being; of course he wanted to hear how Christmas had been for his family; that was important! And maybe, if he tried real hard, maybe in reading about it he could pretend that he had been there too.
So, with his eyes still closed he reached over to where he knew the letters were and picked one. Then bringing it up to his face he opened his eyes and saw that it was the letter from Bridget. He opened the envelope and removing the sheets of paper he discovered that there were two letters enclosed; one from Bridget and one from Clementine. Of course, how could he have forgotten about Clementine?
He picked up Bridget’s letter first and began to read;
What a marvelous Christmas this has been!! We were all able to make it out to the ranch for the big day and a good thing too since Steven and I (well, actually just Steven) had something very pressing to speak with Momma and Papa about! Of course, it was to ask Papa’s permission for us to become betrothed and to start thinking about marriage!!
This was hardly a surprise for me since Steven and I have been discussing the possibility for some time now, and I was certain that Papa would give his permission as I know that both he and Momma are quite fond of Steven. Still, there are always those nagging doubts that things won’t go the way we expect and all through the journey from Denver to the ranch my stomach was full of knots and butterflies!
All my worries were for not however, since Papa did indeed willingly give his permission and Momma was thrilled and couldn’t stop smiling all day. Beth seemed a little put out and I don’t really know where that was coming from, but Clem just laughed it off and stated that that was her problem! Fortunately by the time we all settled in for Christmas supper Beth had come round and seemed to be just as excited by the coming event as I was. Thaddeus didn’t say too much of anything.
Of course we were hoping to plan the wedding for sometime this coming summer as this would seem the logical course of action, and Momma declared that we must have the wedding out at the ranch, that way there would be lots or room for everybody. All of this is quite appropriate but I must admit there is one nagging issue that causes me to hesitate in setting a date.
That issue, my dearest friend—is you. In all the imaginings I’ve had of my wedding day you have always been there to share in the joy of it with me. It seems to me to be a betrayal to you and to our friendship if I were to go ahead and set the date of my wedding before knowing that you will be able to attend. We are all trying so hard to attain your release from that horrid place and it would bring me so much pleasure to have you with us on this special day that I find it impossible to commit to a date until I know that you are free!’
Here Heyes shook his head with some feeling of sadness and mumbled to himself. “Oh no, sweetheart. Don’t wait for me.”
‘I love you so much Joshua! I miss you so much. All my hopes and prayers are that you will be home with us again soon! Please take care of yourself and don’t you dare get sick again!!
Heyes quickly put the letter down and grabbed the tin box that had once held cookies from under the table and brought out his own stash of paper and a pencil. He knew he had to write down his answer to his friend before the thoughts and the emotions of her loving words were washed away by the news from others.
He took one of his many books to use as a support and began to write his response.
First off, of course; congratulations on your betrothal! I must admit that I too am not surprised at this news as it was obvious that you and Steven were very serious about one another. I was also aware of the high regard your parents hold him in, so I would actually have been far more surprised if permission had been withheld.
I am also touched and greatly honoured that you hold me in such esteem that you would be willing to postpone your wedding date in order to assure my attendance. But please don’t put off your special day on my account. I know everyone is working very hard to secure my release and for this I am very much indebted to you all but even I am under no illusions as to how long this could still take.
Please have your wedding day and enjoy it to its fullest. I may not be able to attend in my person, but I will be there in my mind and in my heart just as surely as I know that I will be there in yours.
I cannot help but think back to that gangly teenager I first met not so many years ago. Your mother dragging you and your sister out from under the front porch and doing her best to brush off the dirt and the spider webs from your face and hair. I knew in that instant that I liked you and you have continued to amaze and inspire me as you’ve grown from that gun-toting tomboy into this intelligent and beautiful young woman.
Steven is a lucky man and has shown great wisdom in that he apparently realizes this himself. That once having met you he would be willing to go to the ends of the earth (or at least to Denver) to ensure his continued attendance upon you. You are worth it! Be happy Bridget! Be happy for me and for yourself! And you had better write to me in great detail every moment of your special day—so take notes!
All my love; Joshua.’
Heyes settled back then and re-read his letter, hoping that he had expressed himself eloquently without coming across as too mushy. She was marrying Steven after all—not him! He smiled, feeling like he was all done in. What a day! And now he had to add aching fingers to the list of inconveniences; why couldn’t Carson have broken the fingers on his left hand, for goodness sakes!? Then the buzzer sounded, announcing that it was supper time—if that swill could actually be called ‘supper’!
Oh dear. He sighed and pushing the numerous letters off to the side, he swung his legs over to the floor and prepared to join the herd heading down to the mess hall. He knew he had to eat so he may as well get it over with. Perhaps once he had tended to that chore he would feel rejuvenated. He could bring a coffee back up to his cell with him and then be able to continue with his letter reading until the shadows of the evening and the tiredness of his eyes and spirit would settle him down for the night.
Heyes did indeed continue to read letters for the rest of the evening, but he was tired by this time and decided to focus on the lighter stuff and save the Kid’s letter for the next day. He settled back onto his cot and picked up the note from Clem.
If you haven’t already read the letter for Bridget then I suggest that you do so now because I have no intentions of going over it again!! She’s been sooo gushy and excited about the whole business that I’ve about had it with weddings and rings and happily every afters! What is it about young ladies thinking that marriage is the end all and be all and the only way to find happiness!? Anyway, enough of that! I’m sure she will be very happy, etc. etc. and let’s move on!
Christmas out at the Jordan’s place was certainly enjoyable even though I was surrounded by all the signs of domesticity. Not only was Bridget and Steven full of their happy plans for the summer, but the doctor, David Gibson and his wife were there as well, and she’s starting to show the bun in the oven I can tell you! I think Kid and I were both feeling a little out of place with all this ‘family’ stuff going on, but I guess that’s what Christmas is all about. So we put on brave faces.
Beth was a little out of sorts with her older sister basically taking over the conversation for the day. All attention was on Bridget and you know how sisters can get with that ‘sibling rivalry’ thing. Well, maybe you don’t, I don’t know—but it can get bad sometimes, believe me! Not that I’d know what a sister can be like, but I can imagine! Anyway, Beth settled down as the day wore on and actually seemed to be happy for her sister after all.
Dinner was wonderful! You’re right—Mrs. Jordan is a wonderful cook and of course everyone ate way too much! But it was Christmas after all so what better excuse to make a pig of yourself. After supper was cleared away, we ladies all adjourned to the sitting room and spent the evening talking about wedding plans and expected babies, and of course—you!
Beth told us all about her adventures at the prison and all the things that she had seen there and how she has been busy writing letters again! I certainly hope these things will all help in some way Heyes, although by now you must think it is all a waste of time. I know the men who were all sitting around the dinning room table with their brandies were spending most of the evening discussing you and the plans they were making seemed rather intense. I was not made privy to those plans however so I cannot relate them to you. Hopefully Kid will get around to that, and by ‘that’ I mean informing BOTH of us as to their plans! I do so hate being left out!
I have spent the night here at the ranch and the three of us will be heading back to Denver probably tomorrow if the weather holds. So I am writing this letter on the go—so to speak, as I hope to post it along with Bridget’s in the hopes that it will get to you quickly now that the weather does seem to have let up a bit. You’ll probably be getting a whole stack of letters all at once but I guess that’s okay.
I feel like I want to ask how your Christmas went, but considering where you are I can’t think that it was all that ‘Merry’. Still, I hope there was something of the holiday spirit to the day and that you got a decent meal out of it in any case. We all sent gifts to you in one big package, so if you don’t have it yet it should be arriving soon.
I hope you are healing up okay from your last encounter with the ‘mean’ guard, which is how Beth tends to refer to him. The ‘mean’ guard and the ‘nice’ guard tend to come in to her conversations a lot lately. Can’t imagine there being a ‘nice’ guard at a prison like that, but I suppose it’s all relative.
Anyway, bedtime now—must be off! Take care of yourself Heyes and don’t go getting sick again! We have enough to worry about with you without adding that to it! Hopefully we will all be out to see you once the weather becomes more agreeable and the next batch of news will be delivered in person.
Bye for now;
Heyes sat back with a sigh. Jeez, even reading her letters was exhausting! Where in the world does that woman get all her energy!? Still, having read it, her comments about the others sitting around the dinning room table and making plans concerning himself got his curiosity aroused. So even though he was quite tired by now, he eyed Jed’s letter with the intentions of reading it after all.
He opened up the thick envelope and sure enough there were letters from Jed, Belle and Beth all folded into a neat package. Heyes fingered through the papers and pulled out the ones from his cousin and settled in to read.
Well, if you’ve had a chance to read Bridget’s letter I suppose you can guess at what a commotion it made around here! If you haven’t read her letter yet, I suggest you do so now or I may end up ruinin’ her surprise for you—oh jeez, I hope you have it! Anyway, enough of that, I’ll leave it to the ladies to fill you in on all that stuff!
Beth did say that Carson—that bastard! Got you pretty good again, and this time just for doin’ your job! I sure would like to send Wheat and the boys in there to teach him a lesson, he might have a different view of his situation if he had the entire Devil’s Hole gang to contend with! Anyway, I hope you’re feelin’ better Heyes and I’m sure glad that you got that Doc and Kenny both watchin’ out for ya’.
Anyway, we all got to discussing things around the supper table after the dinner had been cleared away—funny how a lot of intense conversation happens at that time, kinda like us sittin’ around the camp fire after a long day of ridin’. I can’t remember how many serious talks we had just sitting there watchin’ the fire and drinkin’ coffee. Jeez, in some ways I kinda’ miss those days Heyes—well, not everything about those days, but parts of it.
Oh well, back to what I was talkin’ about. Steven has suggested another strategy that might have some merit but could take some time to work out (And Kenny; I know you read all of Heyes’ letters before he gets them, so first off, I hope you and your family had a nice Christmas and second; listen up here cause this just might involve you.).
Like I was sayin’ we were all sitting around the table and of course the conversation just naturally drifted over into talking about you (Heyes that is, not Kenny)……
“What’s happening with your appointment now that Governor Baxter has resigned?” Jesse asked the assembly. “Will you still be able to get in to present your case?”
Jed groaned, but Steven beat him to the answer.
“No,” he regretfully admitted. “All the appointments got canceled and apparently Mr. Morgan isn’t seeing anyone. I guess he has his hands full just getting the mess cleaned up that his two predecessors left behind.”
“Oh brother!” was Jesse’s somewhat sardonic reply. “And no idea who the next governor is going to be?”
“Well yes,” Steven answered. “There are a couple of contenders, but unfortunately the favorite so far is Thomas Moonlight.”
Jed perked up. “Moonlight?” he asked. “That name sounds very familiar—not that you’d ever forget that name once you heard it! But still, he did a lot during the war didn’t he?”
“Oh yes!” Steven was emphatic. “He’s originally from Kansas and rode with the Militia during the war and he had a great deal to do with bringing in Quantrill. He was also very active in the politics of Kansas after the war until he moved out this way. He would be a strong governor for Wyoming, but not too sympathetic to outlaws I’m afraid.”
Jed sighed. “Yeah, I remember him now. Like you say; he’d probably be good for Wyoming, but not so good for Heyes right now.”
“Still,” Steven tried to perk things up. “I will solicit an appointment with him and see where it goes—the worst he can do is throw us out of his office.”
The attitudes of the other three men at the table seemed somewhat downtrodden so Steven thought that he would put forth an idea that had been simmering on the back burner of his brain for a couple of months.
“I do have another suggestion,” he offered and was met with three expectant expressions. “It seems to me, as I’m sure you have all noticed that our current course of action has not resulted in much success.” Met here with numerous nods of agreement. “Yes. What I might suggest next, well, it could take some time and might even be dangerous for those who are working in the prison. But we might be able to set up a hearing to present our case. It would be similar to a court case, except that Heyes would not need to attend, but we would be expected to present evidence of ‘wrong doing’, or ‘miscarriage of justice’ that sort of thing. We would be presenting our case to high government officials, perhaps even to the governor himself.”
“You mean we can do that?” asked Jed. “Why didn’t you suggest this before?”
“Because, aside from an extremely hard sentence, there was no evidence of wrong doing,” Steven explained. “The length of sentence was at the Judge’s discretion and would not be enough in itself to warrant an official hearing. Also, up to this point any punishments Heyes has received have been justified…”
Here, Jed snorted in disgust.
“Yes, I know Jed,” Steven sympathized with him. “but according to the law, as long as the warden stays within the boundaries laid out by the penal system then any punishments he delves out are at his discretion.”
“Well then why would you think we could get a hearing now?” Jesse asked. “Nothing’s changed.”
“No, I disagree Jesse,” Steven pointed out. “a lot has changed. I know you were very angry at Beth for what she did in sneaking into the prison, but I for one am glad she did it. The fact that she is not an employee of the penal system and did witness first hand an unwarranted assault upon Heyes could be invaluable to us.”
“You mean all we have to do is take what Beth saw to a hearing and we could get Hannibal pardoned?” Jesse asked rather incredulously.
“Well, no. It’s not quite that simple,” Steven admitted. “Like I said; it could take some time. But it’s a beginning. What I suggest now is that we all start keeping notes. Especially you Jed, since you are in contact with Heyes more than the rest of us. You need to write down everything Heyes tells you of what is going on behind the scenes. Take note of the dates and the names of people involved. We need to build a foundation of wrong-doing so that we can walk into a hearing and present to the board a solid example of on-going abuses.”
Here Steven paused, knowing that his next suggestion might really cause some feathers to rustle.
“I am also of a mind to challenge the validity of the penal system itself. Many of the standing rules, to my mind, over a period of time could cause psychological damage to the inmates and this open standard towards corporal punishment just leaves too much room for abuse. Things that are considered legitimate punishments, well people behaving like that out here in the ‘real world’ would probably end up in prison themselves for assault! I really feel that it is time for this system to be challenged. I’m just not sure if we have the connections and the evidence to succeed in forcing changes to be made.”
Steven stopped again and looked around at his audience. Everyone was contemplating his words and trying to allow the enormity of his suggestion to sink in. Not wanting the conversation to end in stalemate Steven backtracked to his original plan and would give it some time for the larger picture to be accepted.
“So, in the meantime,” he continued. “just start keeping notes and we’ll just see where this whole thing takes us.”
“Can we include things that have already happened?” Jed asked.
“Yes! For sure!” Steven agreed. “Just put down the date as close as you can remember—anything you can remember, just jot it down. And we need to get as many testimonies as possible so that the board can compare notes, so to speak. Make sure that everything correlates.”
“So you would need more than just Jed’s statements then?” David asked. He had been sitting quietly throughout most of this exchange since he didn’t feel that he had any function in it but he was still willing to contribute when the thought struck him.
“Yes,” Steven again admitted. “we would need two or three corresponding statements of the same acts before we could have any hope at all of this working. Even then, all it might accomplish is that the warden gets a slap on the wrist and it may not help Heyes in the long run.”
“Still, getting the warden to back off of Heyes is something,” Jed commented. “as long as he doesn’t turn around and exact vengeance upon him later on. Warden Mitchell has left no doubt in my mind that he would be quite capable of doing just that.”
“That is also a risk,” Steven admitted.
Groans made their way around the table.
“I’m just suggesting this as an option,” Steven reiterated. “It’ll take time, it’ll take co-ordination and it’ll take co-operation—and it may not even work. But gentlemen, I am at a loss to suggest anything else.”
This time silence made its way about the table. Finally Jed broke the stalemate.
“Well, I can certainly keep notes about what goes on there, and I have no doubts about Beth being willing to write down her experience,” he offered, and then he sighed, contemplating the other options. “I know that Kenny and the Doc keep detailed records of everything that goes on in each of their jurisdictions, but I don’t know if they would want to present that information at a hearing. It could be dangerous for them.”
“Yes,” Steven agreed. “This is why I hesitated to suggest it. If we can develop a strong enough case I could present them with a court order, forcing them to make their records available, but I would rather they did it willingly.”
Jed contemplated this new dilemma. Both Kenny and Morin were trying to be supportive of Heyes within the prison system, but to ask them to go against their employer and their fellow guards might just be asking too much.
“I don’t know,” Jed admitted. “They could get into real trouble going against the doctrine and Officer Carson in particular can get pretty nasty, especially if he feels threatened. The only friends Heyes has in that place could at the very least end up losing their jobs and at the worst be found lying dead in an alley somewhere.”
Steven nodded but silence reigned again around the supper table. They could hear the ladies in the other room laughing about something and the jovial sound seemed out of place in the current mood of the gentlemen’s discussion.
“I don’t know,” Jed finally commented again. “I want to help Heyes—of course I do! But I hate to put Kenny at risk like that, and I know darn well that Heyes wouldn’t approve of it if it meant risking the lives of others. It’s a lot to ask.”
“Yes it is,” Steven agreed quietly. “but it’s all we have.”
“Jed, couldn’t you just ask Officer Reece?” Jesse suggested. “No pressure, just present the option to him and then let him decide.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Jed agreed, though he didn’t sound very enthused. “I could mention this in my next letter to Heyes, and I know Kenny reads all of Heyes’ mail before passing in on to him, so he’d get an idea that way of what we’re thinking about. Then, I suppose the next time I get out there he’ll have had some time to think about it. I guess I could do that.”
Everybody nodded; that sounded like a good plan of action.
“Well!” Jesse declared. “It’s Christmas night. Steven is newly engaged, David is an expectant father and it turns out to be my youngest daughter rather than my oldest who has become an undercover detective! Then on top of that it looks like we’re all planning to tackle the very foundations of the entire federal penal system to boot! Sounds like we’re in for a very interesting year!”
“Here! Here!” David agreed and everyone raised their glasses.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:26 pm|| |
“….so that’s where things stand now Heyes. I know it doesn’t sound too encouraging but we are working towards getting some things organized here. We are still planning on going in to see the next governor, whoever that ends up being but we are also going to get started in collecting that information if we end up having to take it to a hearing.
Try to stay out of trouble, okay? I know it’s almost like a contradiction to say that, since incidences of unwarranted abuse are what we need to challenge the powers that be, but I just don’t like to see you getting hurt. That Carson could end up killing you if you’re not careful—I’m sure he’s done it before! Hopefully the information we already have, along with what Beth witnessed will be enough and all you need to do from now on is just lay low!
Do you think Sister Julia would be willing to come foreword? I’m sure she has witnessed a lot of things there that would make a sailor’s toes curl. Anything at this point would be helpful.
Whatever you do Heyes, don’t antagonize or try to provoke a response from Carson or the warden. Steven figures that that would become apparent under scrutiny and would therefore be useless in a legal hearing, so, like I said; stay out of trouble!!
I’ll get out to see ya’ as soon as the weather permits. In the meantime, take care of yourself Heyes. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to you in there.
Again, Heyes sat back with a heavy sigh and tried to absorb all the information that the Kid had squeezed into this letter. Oddly enough, at this point the main thing that was sticking in Heyes’ mind was the way Kid had signed his name; ‘Jed’ rather than ‘Kid’. It seemed to Heyes then that ‘Jed’ was indeed growing in other directions and moving away from their previous lives as outlaws and transients. He had a new life now, new friends and new beginnings. He was becoming his own man.
Heyes felt a slight twinge of jealousy and resentment that his partner had been given the opportunity to let go of the past and move on and part of him was afraid that Jed would simply leave him behind. Then he admonished himself for being selfish and childish. Of course Jed was going to move on in his own personal growth—that was a good thing! He needed to rediscover who he was and to learn how to function now in society as a legal, law abiding citizen.
None of that meant that he was going to be leaving Heyes behind. On the contrary, Jed had made it clear on more than one occasion that he wasn’t going anywhere until Heyes was free to go with him. But still, Heyes being the cynic that he was, couldn’t help but wonder if that resolve would start to crumble if the years began to pile up and there was still no pardon in sight. How long could Jed remain true to the cause, and how long could Heyes rightfully expect him to?
By this time the light inside his cell was beginning to wan and though the lamps out in the isle way were still lit it wasn’t bright enough for him to continue reading. He sat for a long time just holding Jed’s letter and staring into the dimness and thinking about the plans they were making. He felt guilty in a way at the risks his friends had taken, and were apparently willing to take again in order to secure his release and this new endeavor seemed to be even riskier that all the others.
People could get hurt—himself included! And personally, he was getting tired of getting hurt. The real lessons here were finally beginning to sink in; indeed, Heyes was not the alpha wolf anymore, he was not the one in charge and it had taken a long time for him to finally concede to that. He always had to look for a way around the rules, a way to come out on top. He just couldn’t let go of being the one in control and all he’d gotten for his arrogance was battered and bruised—and broken.
Well, parts of him were broken but not his spirit; they hadn’t broken that yet though Carson sure was trying. But no, he still had his heart and his soul intact, and his hope. They were limping often enough, but still intact. He was just getting more cautious. More willing to bend rather than break—like Lom had said. Yeah, Lom was a pretty smart man and Heyes reflected that he would have done a lot better in his life if he had just listened to him more often. But Heyes was a hard head, just had to do things his own way and now look where it had gotten him!
Heyes smiled a little sardonically. Now those people closest to him were willing to risk everything to get him out of a jam that his own arrogance had gotten him into. He was uncomfortable with that scenario, but just selfish enough and homesick enough to sit back, lay low, and hang tight—and let them try.
That night he dreamt about Abi and he woke up in the wee hours of the morning out of breath and sweating, frustrated and relieved all at the same time. Thank goodness it was still a few hours before morning roll call so he didn’t have to worry about facing that particular dilemma again. He shifted and re-adjusted himself to try and get comfortable and then he smiled. At least this proved one thing for sure; he was still quite capable of ‘performing’ if and when the next time the need arose.
Having finally resolved that dilemma he closed his eyes and taking a deep cleansing breath he relaxed and listened to his pounding heart slowly drop back down to its normal rhythm. There was something comforting about the fact that it wasn’t yet time to get up and he settle himself back into a peaceful sleep.
The next day Heyes was back to work doing light duty in the laundry room. His broken rib and the two fingers were still all taped up but he was beginning to feel more mobile and not quite so sore so he knew he would be able to start responding to the rest of his letters soon. On the other hand, he was only allowed to post one letter per week and this week, of course, it had been Bridget’s, so there was no rush to get started on the next one.
He was already looking forward to reading the remaining letters that were still waiting for him, even though he knew they would just be reiterating what had already been said. Still, it’s often fun to get a number of different points of view. He also wondered how long it would take for the parcel of gifts to get to him and he hoped that there would be some more of Belle’s baking in there somewhere. Even if it was a bit stale, it would still be a treat!
And what was Kenny thinking? Heyes knew he would have read the letters—he had to, it was part of his job making sure that nothing covert was going on in the correspondences. So he’d know what Heyes’ friends had in mind. Would he approve and stay quiet about it, or would be give his boss the heads up? Would he agree to help or would he turn a blind eye?
Kenny was there that day, Heyes had seen him down on the work floor but the guard had given no indication that he wanted to talk. Indeed it seemed to Heyes that the man was actually trying to avoid him or was that just his imagination? Heyes sighed as he folded the sheets; maybe he should just stay quiet and let Kid, or should he say ‘Jed’ handle things from his end? That would probably be the best, but Heyes still had trouble relinquishing control—he still felt the need to be in charge. Old habits die hard.
In any case the day came to a close without Heyes catching the guard’s eye and he returned to his cell after supper with his evening coffee to settle in to reading his remaining letters. He even had a new word to decipher; ‘verisimilitude’ and he had actually laughed out loud and almost spilled his coffee when he read the definition. Jeez—he and Kid had been playing at that very thing for five years and didn’t even know there was a special word for it! Kid will get a kick out of this one.
Heyes settled into his usual position on his cot and got himself comfortable. He couldn’t believe how much difference it made having nice warm underclothing to wear. Though his fingers still got a bit chilly, he was on the most part somewhat more content with his lot this winter as compared to last year. He smiled as he pulled out Beth’s letter and began to read.
I hope you are feeling better by this time and that you haven’t gotten yourself into any more trouble!
As you predicted I was certainly ‘in for it’ when I got home after my undercover trip to the prison. Everybody was mad at me but it was worth it as far as I was concerned and now even Steven thinks it was a good idea and that what I witnessed there could be to our advantage. So there you go! I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable with my presence but in the long run it may turn out to be worth it!
Now, Christmas Day—OH BROTHER! Or maybe I should say; oh sister! Bridget just took over the whole gathering with her ‘wonderful’ news’! I just felt like the last horse to get away from the start in a race! Oh, but then Thaddeus pointed out to me that I shouldn’t think of life and marriage as a ‘race’, but still I really do feel like I have been left behind here.
Of course Momma took me aside and gave me a bit of a talking to. Going on about how I should be happy for my sister and share in her joy rather than be resentful of it, and of course Momma is right! So once again I was being selfish and thoughtless and I sort of knew it anyways, but having Momma point it out in her quiet way just made it all the more apparent. So I did change my attitude and we ended up having a pretty nice Christmas.
I suppose I do miss my sister quite a bit with her living in Denver now. We used to be such buddies but now she’s moving on and is beginning a whole new life for herself and I guess I’m just jealous. I think I’m also afraid that she’s going to forget about me, that her new job and new husband are going to take my place and she won’t have time for her younger sister anymore. I guess we all have to grow up sometime, but I do miss her.
On to other things now; I’m pleased to say that Karma is doing very well! I am so looking forward to early spring when her foal will finally arrive and hopefully all will go well with that. She is looking quite heavy naturally, though I suspect that some of that is her thick winter coat—all the horses look fat in the winter time. I wish you could see her though Joshua, she is such a pretty mare and I know she misses you. I do my best to fill in for you and I think she does like me as she often nickers when she sees me out in the yard, but you are still her ‘special person’ and she awaits your homecoming just as much as we all do.
The three dogs are doing fine, though Rufus is starting to show signs of aging. He is having a harder time getting up the steps and is looking rather stiff and sore when he walks across the yard. I’m hoping it’s just the cold weather getting to him, but he does tend to spend most of his time sleeping in the hay inside the barn. Pebbles and Peanut like to snuggle up to him for warmth now that Sam is no longer here to let them into the bunkhouse! But they’re doing fine and everyone is staying quite healthy this year.
I guess that is all for now and hopefully I will see you again once the weather improves. Please look after yourself Joshua; we all miss you and love you very much and I just don’t know what we’d do if anything were to happen to you in there!
Well, bye for now,
Again Heyes was left contemplating the letter and thought how odd it was that Beth was feeling much the same way about her sister moving on as he had about Jed moving on. He supposed then that feelings of being left behind, or abandoned must be quite universal with young and old alike and that he shouldn’t be so hard on himself for having those feelings. Everybody has the right to feel insecure once in awhile.
The news about Karma was both bitter and sweet. As with so many things that were happening at home, he wanted to hear about them but at the same time if often made him feel as though life were passing him by. He missed Karma too—a lot! He missed their wild gallops and her temper tantrums. He missed her nicker in the mornings and her demand for food or attention. He missed their arguments and her angry stamp of a foot when she wasn’t getting her way.
Then he smiled. Suddenly he was reminded of another lady in his life that had a very similar temperament. Funny; he’d never thought about how the personalities of both ladies were almost parallel and how much he was drawn to a fiery female! Then he chuckled out loud when he thought of what Abi would have to say about him comparing her to his horse! That wouldn’t be good—best to keep that observation to himself.
He came back from his musings to realize that he was still holding on to Beth’s letter, so he put that one down on the ‘already read’ pile and turned to the last sheet of paper awaiting his attention. Just the very act of picking up Belle’s letter and unfolding it was enough to suddenly make him feel safe and secure. She had such a very special place in his heart that the mere act of ‘coming home’ would not have the same emotional impact upon him if she were not there. She was everything he missed about ‘family’.
I’m sure the ladies have already filled you in on the big news of the day so I will not bore you with repeating it. On the other hand, I must say I got quite a chuckle out of Jesse giving poor Steven a very difficult time of it. Jesse can have such an evil sense of humour at times and he is just having way too much fun at Steven’s expense!.....
“Oh good!” Steven stated rather nervously. “I was hoping to catch you both alone for a moment.”
Jesse and Belle exchanged very quick glances. They both had a good idea of what was coming.
“That’s kind of a contradiction,” Jesse observed. “How can either of us be alone if we’re both here? Really Steven, as a lawyer you need to be aware of inconsistencies in your speech like that.”
“Oh, Ummm yes. Sorry,” Steven was already fumbling. “It’s just that I have something rather important I need to speak with you about, Mr. Jordan. OH! And Mrs. Jordan too of course, both of you.”
Two pairs of eyebrows went up at the sudden change over to their formal name; ‘Jesse’ and ‘Belle’ had long ago become the norm. Yes, this was definitely it.
“Really?” Jesse commented. “About Hannibal’s case? That is a shame about Governor Baxter resigning his office so soon. Now your appointment with him has been postponed or probably it would be more accurate to say that it has been canceled altogether. It is so frustrating, all this political red tape and I know its driving Jed crazy. It just seems to take forever to get anything done and nobody wants to listen to what anybody has to say so I can certainly understand why….”
“No, no Mr. Jordan,” Steven finally interrupted him. “that’s not it.”
“Oh?” Jesse feigned amazement. “What else could be so important on this Christmas Day?”
“Well, Ummm, Sir, I would like…oh and Ma’am, you as well, yes. I would like to ask permission for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”
“Oh yes?” Jesse asked. “Which one?”
“Well yes, Mr. Granger,” Jesse continued. “I have two daughters. I would hate to misinterpret your intentions—or are you saying that either one would do?”
Belle was trying very hard to keep a straight face throughout this exchange. This was cruel but fun all at the same time.
“NO!” Steven wasn’t saying that at all! “No, no. I mean, Beth is a very lovely young woman and I’m sure that she will make a fine partner for any young man who is fortunate enough to catch her eye! She really is very nice…”
“Now you’re sounding confused, Mr. Granger,” Jesse pointed out. “It would appear to me that Beth is the one that you are interested…”
“No, no!” Steven interrupted him again. “No, it’s Bridget…..” Then he stopped and sighed, his shoulders slumping. A slight smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “You’re just pulling my leg aren’t you?”
Jesse smiled. Belle finally broke down and laughed, but then she came forward and gave the beguiled young man a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“You really must forgive Jesse,” she said and then sent her husband a nasty look. “He really gets too much pleasure out of teasing the young men who gather around! I’m surprised he doesn’t scare off all the suitors!”
Jesse came forward then and extended his hand for shaking. Steven visibly relaxed and smiled too.
“I’m afraid my wife is right,” Jesse owned up. “But a man must take some fun where he can find it. Of course you have our blessings and I have no doubt that you will make a fine husband for Bridget.”
Steven was grinning now and Belle gave him another hug.
“I have no doubt about that myself,” she agreed. “Welcome to the family Steven and what a wonderful Christmas present this has been!”…..
Then Steven of course went to inform what I’m sure was a very anxious Bridget that we had given our permission for their union and within moments her excited and very un-lady like exclamations were vibrating throughout the household!
Beth felt a little put out about the whole affair, which I could understand from her youthful point of view, but still was unacceptable under the circumstances. Fortunately it only took a few words from me to help her see what she already knew herself and she brightened up then and was able to join in on the celebrations.
We had a lovely Christmas with most of the family all around us. I could not help but think of what an improvement it was over last year when Jed was going through such a difficult time. The girls had both been so disappointed when he didn’t show up for the holiday and then there was all that drama that came after that! Thank goodness things are so much improved this year.
The only thing now that I could wish for, for next year is that you will also be able to join us around the dinner table. You were terribly missed Joshua and I know that Thaddeus felt your absence more than any of us. He did enjoy himself on the most part, but occasionally when he thought that no one was looking, his expression would become very melancholy and it didn’t take a genius to know that he was thinking about you.
I know that he has written you a letter as well and that he has told you of the plans that Steven brought to the table. It all sounds so covert that I can’t help but feel a chill when I think of the risks that these plans might put you in. You are so very much at the mercy of the officials there and some of them have already proven to be quite brutal.
My goodness! I thought that Sheriff Morrison was bad, but the stories I’ve heard from Thaddeus over the past year, and now from my own daughters as well, makes me ashamed to think that we have men like that holding positions of such authority. Thankfully you seem to have a friend as such in this Officer Reece and I hope that Thaddeus and Beth have not over estimated his worth and support of you. Obviously you need friends in there and I pray every night that the ones you do have will help to keep you safe.
Goodbye for now Joshua. Know that you are always in my heart and in my thoughts. God be with you.
Well, that was it then, news and thoughts from all sides. He settled back with an arm behind his head and contemplated his letters, and what responses he was going to send back. He realized then, of course, that he could include a letter to Clem in with the one going to Bridget so two of them could be taken care of in one shot. Then Belle, Beth and Jed could all go in the same envelope as well. Yes, that’s more like it. Then it wouldn’t take so long to respond to everyone so long as his healing fingers didn’t lay in too much of a protest.
He would get started on that tomorrow; he was too tired now to give them justice. Then the buzzer sounded and Heyes sighed in irritation. For one thing he was nice and warm and comfortable right where he was and having to get up and stand at the door to his cell just for some stupid roll call when they already knew he was here! Well, it was just—irritating!
Oh well. Up he got, over to the cell door, to stand there and wait. Davis walked by doing the count, checking off names—everyone present and accounted for, like why wouldn’t they be? Then step back inside the cell, then slide, bang! As all the doors closed them in for the night—then a loud mechanical clang! As the locks slid into place, locking them in for the night.
Another sigh and then back to his cot to settle in and get comfortable. Maybe he would light a candle and read for awhile. He was still so full of all the news from home that he really didn’t think he would be able to settle into sleep any time soon. Yeah, he’d read for awhile and then listen to some music in his mind and hopefully be able to convince it to shut down and drift into the night.
Over the next couple of evenings Heyes managed to get letters written back to just about everyone who had sent him a note. It really wasn’t too time consuming since he really didn’t have very much to report—nothing changed at the prison, life was just the same old, same old. He mainly focused on assuring everyone that he was doing okay and that he was making himself eat more, even if he wasn’t hungry and he was certainly keeping warm. He also included in Jed’s letter the new word for the week. He smiled almost wickedly, wishing he could see the Kid’s expression when he learned the definition!
That done, he took a fresh sheet of paper from his diminishing pile and began to contemplate his next reply. This was a letter he had not originally intended to write, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed the proper thing to do. He just wasn’t sure how to do it. Well, just get started writing, he decided, and see where it goes.
'To the children at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage;
Thank you very much for thinking of me at Christmas time. It was a very pleasant surprise to receive your cookies and then all those kind letters as well. I greatly enjoyed all of it and it made this Christmas very special.
In answer to some of your questions: Yes, I do get to go outside, although these days it’s a little too cold for outdoor activities so I keep busy working indoors. I work in the laundry room, and the infirmary and I also work on the main floor making brooms and candles and cigars.
Kid Curry does come to visit me once a month but I don’t think he would want to come and live here as it really is not that much fun. I also have other friends who come to visit when they can and send letters when they can’t so I’m not really alone. Friends are important and I’m glad to hear that you value your friendships there at the orphanage.
Sister Julia is also a very good friend of mine and I’m pleased to hear that you value her kindness to you. You must also continue to study hard in school and realize how important it is to have an education and whatever you do, don’t follow in my footsteps!
Riding the outlaw trail may sound exciting and adventurous, but it’s not! I can’t count how many times me and the Kid had to sleep on the cold ground and be wet and miserable because we didn’t have money for a room, or we were on the run from some posse that just wouldn’t let up! And now I’ve ended up here in prison for goodness knows how long, and that’s no fun either.
You are far better off studying hard and growing up to be fine, law abiding citizens. Sister Julia has also assured me that you are all very good children and are well on your way to being successful adults.
I realize that we all share the same horrendous tragedy and that was to lose our parents at such a young age. I know that many of you must feel angry and resentful that life has handed you such a difficult path to tread. We cannot choose many of the things that happen in our lives, but we can choose how we deal with them and holding on to anger is not a good thing to do. It won’t help you in your lives and it certainly won’t bring your parents back. Nor would your parents want you to be angry and resentful; they would want you to grow up to be happy and productive adults and to have a good life.
When the Kid and I were orphaned, if was a different time than it is now. The Civil War was raging and the whole country was in turmoil. Nobody had time for orphans and the institution that did take us in was a hard and cruel place for children to have to grow up in. Both Jed Curry and I grew up angry and that anger clouded our judgment and caused us to make choices that were dangerous and self-defeating. Not that I am justifying the decisions that we made; Kid and I were wrong in what we did and we’ve both had to pay a heavy price for it. I guess what I am trying to say here is that you have a safe and caring home with people who treat you with kindness and respect. They are giving you every opportunity to excel and I just want to emphasize how important it is that you all take advantage of that.
Well, enough lecturing, I certainly don’t want to come across as just another boring adult! Thank you again for the gifts and the letters and I hope you all had a very nice Christmas. Take care, respect one another, study hard and above all else, have fun!
Heyes sat back and re-read the letter and decided that it was good to go—hardly a literary masterpiece, but writing to a group of children whom you don’t know isn’t exactly easy. Hopefully they would appreciate the note and maybe, he thought, it would actually be kinda nice if some of them decided to write to him again. So he folded the letter and put it aside, he would give to Sister Julia the next time he saw her so she could then pass it along to the children.
Then Heyes picked out the letter from Abi and read it again. He was actually feeling nervous about writing to her. What to say? It had been so long since he’d had any contact with her; it almost felt like writing to a complete stranger. But then he smiled and realized that this was the same old Abi whom he had known and loved all those years ago; he could tell that just from the letters she had written to him. Same old Abi!
So, out came another sheet of paper and he cleared his mind of any concern of saying ‘the wrong thing’ and simply started to write.
First off, let me assure you that my anger at our parting has long since dissipated, and indeed once my anger had calmed I came to realize that you were absolutely right in your decision. Trying to start a family while living the outlaw life is a disaster waiting to happen. I have seen a number of men try it and it has always ended badly! So you were right Abi and thank goodness that you had the strength of character to realize it.
I am doing better this winter and ‘yes!’ I am eating more now and staying healthy. It really was not my intentions to kill myself through starvation. As you pointed out; there are far faster and easier ways of doing that if that had been my design. Looking back on it now, I think it was all just stress at trying to find my footing here in this place and of course, facing the reality of actually being here! Not only was I not prepared for how cold it gets here in the winter, but Jed had shut me out and I didn’t know why so I must admit that I was very depressed. I just couldn’t eat.
Of course later on I became more aware of what Jed had been going through and why he hadn’t been in touch and so I had a better understanding of it all. Now of course he comes to see me every month when the weather allows him to do so. I know that he is doing everything he can to convince the powers that be to grant me a pardon, but (as you know) he keeps running into road blocks. He is finding this just as frustrating as I do, but he and our other friends still keep on trying so, as you say; I will do my part and keep hanging on here and doing my best to stay out of trouble. Right now visitors are few and far between simply because of the snow piling up outside! So I do get lonely. Still, I do have friends here (oddly enough) and I’m getting by.
But rest assured Abi; even though it’s hard to call what they serve here ‘food’, I am eating better and actually forcing myself to eat more than I want. I don’t need to get sick again. Especially since one young man who I was looking after got pneumonia and died right there with me holding his hand. That was a shock! I’m the great Hannibal Heyes! I was looking after him so he wasn’t supposed to die on me! Yeah right. Have I always been such an arrogant ass Abi?
I know that you are doing all you can at your end of things to try to help in procuring my release. I have no doubt that you have been faithful in that endeavor but I am also very much aware of your other commitments and that those do of course hinder what you are able to do. Your other responsibilities come first and foremost! You hold our future in your hands Abi! There is nothing more important than that.
Please know that I love you dearly and that far from causing me distress in writing to me, your letters bring me peace and pleasure, and hope for better things to come. Please don’t stop writing to me—your letters are a life-line!
I have been faithful in sending out our nightly thoughts and support to one another. It has become so much a part of my routine now that you come to me unbidden around the same time every evening and it always brings me a smile to know that you are thinking of me as well. I do miss you so much and I hope sincerely that once I have moved on from this place and from my previous life that you will be agreeable to seeing me again. But I leave that up to you and again, I will accept whatever you decide.
Love you always Abi;
There, done! Now he would have time too, to re-write anything that he might feel in hind-sight is perhaps inappropriate, some time to let things settle. He figured he would send Bridget’s letter first since he felt it was important for her to hear his view on things as soon as possible. So, of course, Clem’s letter would go along with that one. Then Abi’s would go next because that one would take the longest to arrive. Then he would send the one to the ranch last. He was hopeful that the parcel of gifts would arrive before then (It should, for goodness sakes!) and then he could also include a ‘thank you’.
He settled back into his pillow and reached under his cot to pick up his latest book. He had finished ‘A Christmas Carol’ and was now getting started on ‘Oliver Twist’ which was of course a story to which he could easily relate. He thought fleetingly that once he finished it, he would suggest that Kid read it as well. Then he snorted softly, yeah, like that was ever going to happen!
Next day over in the infirmary Heyes did a quick scan of the ward and was disappointed at only seeing Dr. Morin sitting over by his desk and absolutely no patients to tend to at all.
“Is Sister Julia going to be coming in any time soon?” Heyes asked hopefully.
“Not unless we get a rush of sniffles and stubbed toes,” Morin mumbled. “Why?”
“I wrote this letter for her to take back to the orphanage with her,” Heyes explained. “So I guess I was kinda hoping she would be in today.”
“Oh. Well, leave it with me and the next time she comes in I’ll be sure she gets it,” Then Doc looked up and sent a suspicious look over to his trustee. “What do ya’ mean you wrote a letter? What the hell you been doin’ Heyes?!”
Heyes was taken aback. “What?”
“I told you to give that hand a rest—give those fingers a chance to heal!” Doc reminded him. “It’s bad enough that Carson has you back working again, but you gotta start writing a letter in your spare time?!”
Heyes looked sheepish. “Well, they were important, Doc.”
“THEY!? How many did you write?!”
“Well, uummm, let’s see—there was one to Bridget and then Jed and to Belle and…..”
“OH FXXX! Get over here!”
“What? Why?” Heyes suddenly became suspicious, and actually took a step backwards thinking that he was going to get punished for misbehaving. It did not occur to him for a moment that he could easily over-power the doctor and he was feeling a little nervous about the fact that he was in trouble.
Morin saw the anxiety level rise up in the inmate and consciously calmed himself down. Goodness knows Heyes had been brutalized enough at the hands of prison employees and now his automatic response to any show of disapproval could easily create a defensive stance in the man.
“No, Heyes c'mon,’” Morin reassured him. “I just wanna take a look at those fingers and make sure they’re still healing properly.”
“Oh. Alright,” Heyes relaxed and approached the Doc.
They both sat down at the table and Morin carefully untaped the fingers and then very carefully began his own version of the poke and prod that Jed had become so familiar with from David. Heyes flinched a number of times but held his ground and soon Morin had finished with his exam and began to re-tape the fingers.
“Yeah okay,” he said. “They’re a bit more swollen than I would like to see at this point but they’re doing okay. But still—if you ever wanna crack open a safe again you better lay off the letter writing for now. Alright?!”
Heyes smiled. “Yeah Doc, alright.”
“Good! Now get to work.”
When Saturday finally rolled around again Heyes found himself confronted with the long awaited Christmas parcel sitting on his cot. It was two weeks late, but that didn’t matter one bit—it was here and Heyes eagerly settled in to opening the numerous re-wrapped items. One thing about Kenny, even though he had to unwrap any gifts that were sent, he always put some effort into restoring them to their original state so that the inmate who would ultimately receive them could have the pleasure of opening the gifts himself. Little things like that made a big difference in a convict’s life.
Heyes sat down and opened up the main box. He gazed in at the numerous items still wrapped in their brown paper and wondered who’s to open first. He decided that he wasn’t going to decide so he just grabbed one. It was from Bridget. He unwrapped the brown paper and discovered three sturdy candles and a handy tin candle holder. Candles he could use—that was good! Next one was from Belle. Sure enough it was more baked goods—a little broken up but still quite edible. She had enclosed a brief note;
'I know I already sent you your Christmas gifts with Thaddeus, but since everyone else was contributing to this box, I thought I would add in a little something again myself. I hear through the grapevine that you appreciated the cookies before so I’ve sent you some more. I hope they survive the journey intact! Belle. P.s. Jesse sends his regards—you know how men can be about writing letters!'
Heyes smiled and took a nibble. They may not be intact, but they still tasted good!
The next one he grabbed was from David and Trisha. This surprised him as he hadn’t really expected anything from them. He opened it up to find another pair of warm socks and a scarf. And another quick note;
'Hannibal; Trisha seems to be suffering from the ‘nesting syndrome’ and she has been knitting up a storm since autumn! Thank you for giving her one more person upon whom she can lavish the end results. Stay warm and well fed, and keep in touch. David.'
Okay. Heyes agreed. If Trish’s nesting syndrome resulted in him getting some of the finished results, well he had no difficulty with that! Onwards!
The next one was from Beth—writing paper and two pencils. Again, something he could use and to the point as well; if they wanted him to keep writing to them then he would need a stash of paper—more than what the prison supplied! This stash would do nicely.
Another reach into the box and a hold on another parcel. This one was heavy, probably a book, it felt like a book and indeed it was—from Clementine. It was a copy of short stories and poems by Edgar Allen Poe along with another note, short and to the point;
'Heyes; I don’t knit! Clem.'
Heyes smiled again. This was all making him feel so good. It was a funny thing actually, considering where he was, and maybe it was simply in comparison to last Christmas. But he had to admit that this was one of the nicest Christmas’s he’d had in a long time. His friends were all around him, perhaps not in person but certainly in spirit and he just didn’t feel quite so alone anymore.
He made one more reach into the box and fittingly enough, the last gift he pulled out was from Kid. It was a small box that fit comfortably into Heyes’ hand and it was wrapped, like the other gifts, in plan brown paper and had printed across it, simply; 'From Jed.'
Heyes smiled again, quietly. The box felt so familiar to him, almost comforting to the point where he was afraid to open it in case the actual item itself would destroy that feeling of camaraderie that had settled down upon him. Finally he did the inevitable and unwrapped the paper. His smile broadened. Trust the Kid to know exactly what he needed. It was a deck of cards.
A disturbing thought flashed across his mind and he held the deck close to his chest and sent a furtive glance out into the isle. Maybe he wasn’t allowed to have a deck of cards in here, maybe the guards would take them away from him. But then he relaxed a bit. Kenny had already inspected the gifts. If Heyes wasn’t allowed to have any of these items they would never had made it to his cell.
His smile returned. Then, despite his minor handicap he opened up the box and slid the deck out into the palm of his right hand. His heart rate picked up just a little and he felt an excitement come into his chest. He placed the deck onto his little table and spread the cards out with his left hand and then deftly brought them all back into a deck again. He picked up one card and weaved it in and out through the fingers of his left hand, then slid it across the back of his hand and into his palm and then through his fingers again. His smile had turned into a dimpled grin.
He shuffled them as best he could with his two fingers still taped up and then dealt out twenty-five cards. He sighed and considered his options, then went about making the five pat hands that had gotten him in and out of so many scrapes throughout the years that it felt like shaking hands with an old friend.
Heyes spent the rest of the afternoon playing with his new toy and the only time his smile left his face was when he was so focused in concentrating on the solitary game that his brow would crease for a moment and the smile would disappear. But only for an instant, and then it would be back again and he would shuffle the cards and deal them out and start all over.
Yes. It had been a good Christmas. And now they were in to a new year. It was January, 1887 and near the end of the following month Heyes would be thirty-six years old.
There had been a lot of new beginnings this Christmas—some disappointments but still, a lot of new hope. Heyes knew he was lucky—so very lucky with the friends and family that he had and as Abi had pointed out; they were all working towards that one goal and Heyes had a responsibility to them. He had to stay safe, stay healthy and stay alive! He had to surrender control of his life and trust to others to pick up the reins and steer the way.
Could he do it? He wondered. Could he relinquish control? Step down and stop trying to always be the man in charge? If he wanted to stay alive in this place he would have to do just that. Even to his hard head and tenacious temperament he had finally figured it out; he either complied with the doctrine or end up beaten and broken and what would be the good of a release from this place then?
Oh Abi was right—so right! Again! Time for a change in attitude. It was a new year and a new beginning and Hannibal Heyes had just made a gigantic leap of faith.
To Be Continued.
Author’s note; The letter from Abi was graciously contributed by SilverKelpie.
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:56 am|| |
Oh, what a lovely series of letters and it's good to see Heyes realising that his self-worth has changed and that people still care for him. A wonderful Christmas interlude
|Subject: Re: New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two || |
New Beginnings Chaper twenty-two