A Special Day Chapter twenty-three
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Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: A Special Day Chapter twenty-three Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:39 pm|| |
A SPECIAL DAY
“So, what do you think?” Jesse asked his wife.
Belle yawned and snuggled in deeper beside her husband.
“About what?” she asked.
“About Beth going back to the prison with Jed,” Jesse informed her. “I know she wants to go but I’m not so sure that Jed wants to take her.” He hesitated, staring into the darkness and then he smiled. “I’m not so sure I want Jed to take her.”
“Yes,” Belle agreed. “It would be asking quite a bit of Thaddeus I think. Not just the responsibility of having a young lady with him, but the time he has with Joshua is precious to him and he might resent having Beth along.”
“Hmmm,” came the comment back to her. “I hadn’t even thought of that aspect of it. I suppose that is a point.”
“What were you thinking?”
“Exactly the same thing all father’s think!” Jesse adamantly confessed. “I know they’re fond of each other and I know how emotions and desires can take over—especially if they’re off on their own like that! I’ve nothing against Jed, he’s shown himself to be a fine young man, but still; he’s a young man and ‘things’ can happen!”
“Yes they can,” Belle agreed. “I seem to recall another fine young man whisking a rather willing young lady off to the barn for some time alone! I sometimes wonder what would have happened if my father had walked in on us!”
Jesse laughed. “Oh my goodness! We probably wouldn’t have any children!” Then he tried to become serious again, “and that’s exactly what I’m talking about! I’d hate to have to shoot Jed.”
“Yes dear I know,” Belle teased him just a bit but then she too became serious. “Beth can be quite flirtatious sometimes,” she quietly conceded. “It might just be putting too much temptation into a young man’s path and that really wouldn’t be fair to Thaddeus.” Belle became quiet again while she considered the options. “What about your other suggestion? That Beth goes along with Steven and Bridget the next time that’s planned. I’m sure Miss Hale would be present as well so Thaddeus and Beth wouldn’t have much time to be alone together.”
“Yeah, I was thinking about that,” Jesse admitted. “My main concern is that it would be quite a party converging on the prison all at once and the warden may not appreciate it.”
“Well then perhaps Miss Hale would be willing to go along with them as Beth’s chaperone just for that one trip,” Belle suggested. “Three people have been in before to visit with Joshua so that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Yes, but Miss Hale is supposed to be Bridget’s chaperone!” Jesse pointed out. “She can’t very well be two places at once.”
“I know,” Belle admitted. “but Steven and Bridget are betrothed now and really, I can’t help but feel that their celibacy is no longer under our control. If they wanted to they could find time alone together.” Then she smiled and gave her husband’s arm a gentle squeeze. “We did.”
“Is this conversation supposed to be making me feel better?” Jesse asked. “You keep on reminding me of ‘us’ and I am going to lock both our daughters up until they reach thirty-five!”
Belle laughed. “We turned out alright.”
“Yes we did,” Jesse agreed and hugged his wife to him even closer. “It’s just that having two headstrong daughters is trying on a man’s nerves.”
“Well, let’s sleep on it dear,” Belle suggested. “We have agreed that Thaddeus and Beth cannot go to the prison without a chaperone, and we can sort the rest of the details out as the time comes closer. Goodness knows nobody is going anywhere in this weather! It’s probably a good thing that the appointment with the governor was postponed because I doubt that Thaddeus would have been able to get to it anyways.”
Two bedrooms over Beth was also lying awake and worrying about life in general this winter. First off Joshua was very much on her mind and she couldn’t help but be concerned about his safety in that awful place. She was thankful that he had friends there and Sister Julia had assured her that she would let her young friend know if anything else happened. Not that Beth could do anything about it anyways other than keep notes, but just knowing that she had contacts there at the prison made her feel a little less useless.
Then, the other thing occupying her thoughts was, of course, Thaddeus. They had been getting along very well since summer. Having once agreed to stay ‘just friends’ for now they had both relaxed and had actually started to enjoy one another’s company.
She knew Thaddeus had been angry with her for sneaking off to the prison but he seemed to get over that fairly quickly. Especially when Steven had pointed out that it might actually help their case. And anything that might help Joshua’s case was very quickly accepted by his partner as a good thing.
They were all frustrated by the inactivity that winter had enforced upon them and she knew that as soon as the weather allowed it, then Thaddeus would be on the train back to Wyoming to make sure his cousin was okay. Beth hoped that she would be able to go with him, but had her doubts that her parents would allow it. Include the fact that Thaddeus apparently wasn’t comfortable with her going with him either, well…it just didn’t seem likely to happen.
It was all just so silly! Thaddeus wouldn’t do anything! He was always such a gentleman. Why didn’t her parents trust him? She sighed in frustration. It seemed the only way they might even consider her going back to the prison would be if she went with a whole group of other people! Really…having her sister and future brother-in-law along for the ride would be just so—crowded! Oh well, better than not going at all.
Then she thought back with a mixture of pleasure and irritation to the New Year’s Eve party that was held in town the week before.
Steven and Bridget had not attended as they, along with Clementine had returned to Denver right after Christmas. But at least David and Trish had joined in on the festivities despite Trish’s obvious disadvantage. It was agreed that Jed and Beth would spend the night at their place after the fireworks show at midnight so that they would not be trying to drive the surrey home in the dark—or have to pay for two rooms at the hotel.
The party had been held in the community hall and it had been well lit and well attended by most of the young people who called Brookswood their home. Sheriff Jacobs had popped his head in a couple of times during the evening, but since everything seemed to be staying within reason, he was not too concerned about problems starting. All in the all the young adults of the town were pretty good citizens. There were also some older folk attending in order to keep an eye on things, and young Joe Morin would do his part to keep his peers in line. He was there to enjoy the festivities with his particular lady of interest, but he was also making sure nobody got too rowdy.
Sam and Maribelle were also in attendance and would spend the night at the hotel and make it a real holiday for themselves. It would probably be the last holiday for a while since the announcement had been made that Maribelle was already in the family way and would most likely be spending next New Year’s Eve at home!
The hall was busy and noisy, crowded with everyone in a festive spirit and wanting to dance the night away until the fireworks show at midnight. Therefore it was not until Jed was returning to the table where Beth was awaiting their fruit punch that he became aware that Miss Isabelle Baird was also in attendance. He shouldn’t have been surprised at her presence since she was of course part of this group of young adults, but he still was taken aback when she ‘inadvertently’ bumped into him and nearly caused him to spill the drinks.
“Oh, ah Miss Baird—I mean Isabell,.” Jed smiled at her. “I always seem to be bumping into you. My apologies.”
“Not at all Jed,” she assured him with a sweet smile. “How nice to see you here. We haven’t had much chance to visit since last summer. You always seem to be off somewhere!”
“Yes ma’am,” Jed agreed. “I have been busy. But it is nice to see you here tonight. Perhaps you would honour me with a dance later on.”
Isabelle smiled coyly. “Why of course Jed. I’d be pleased to.”
Jed smiled and nodding a polite acceptance, started to move off. Isabelle however, had other plans and she placed a hand on his arm and stopped him before he could even take a step. He looked back at her and then her eyes traveled upwards to the ceiling. Jed followed her gaze and his heart came to his throat. They were standing under the mistletoe! OH SXXX!
It just so happened that David was walking by them at that point, taking fruit drinks over for him and his wife.
“You walked right in to that one Jed,” he whispered on his way by. “Or should I say, right under…”
“Ahhh…” Jed looked back down and met Isabelle’s pleased and expectant gaze. He smiled, a little nervously. Oh dear. He could feel Beth’s eyes upon him. Oh well. “Yes ma’am, I mean Isabelle. Happy New Year.”
Fortunately he was holding a drink in both his hands so he didn’t have to worry about what to do with them, so he leaned forward to give Miss Isabelle a friendly kiss on the cheek. Isabelle however had other ideas again and at the last instant she turned her cheek aside and Jed felt his lips settle onto hers in a rather warm and pleasing connection. Much to his surprise, her lips parted a little and he felt the tip of her tongue caress his mouth in what could only be called a sensuous encounter.
Jed pulled back from her and gazed down into the dark pools of her eyes; he was breathing just a little bit too fast for his comfort. She smiled up at him.
“Happy New Year Jed,” she said softly. “until our dance.” And then she sashayed away across the floor to her table where she was sitting with her group of friends.
They were all smiles and giggles at watching her set the trap and successfully ensnare her quarry. She returned to her table and sat down with her friends again, with an air of satisfied superiority feeling quite confident that she had staked her claim and had won the night.
Jed returned to his table where David, Tricia and Beth were awaiting him, each wondering how he was going to handle this situation. Jed sat down beside a rather dejected looking Beth and putting the drinks onto the table he put an arm around his young friend’s shoulders and hugged her to him.
“I’m not quite as obtuse as some people would have you think,” he gently whispered to her. “I know exactly what she’s doing, and Beth darlin’—I’m not interested.”
At which point Beth smiled and she returned his hug and gave him her own kiss on the cheek. David laughed and raised his glass of punch.
“Well done Jed!” he said. “Happy New Year!”
Beth lay in her bed and smiled up at the ceiling. That had turned out to be a fun night after all, and though Isabelle did indeed get her one dance with Jed, he danced all the others with either Beth or with Tricia. Although dancing with Tricia at this time of her pregnancy does not really describe the awkward wallowing that her attempts on the floor came down to. She did her best, but after one dance with Jed and two with her husband she called it a night and was just as happy sitting at their table and watching the other’s have fun.
Of course this more pleasant pass time was regularly punctuated by her numerous waddles to the outhouse. David would accompany her on those jaunts to make sure she didn’t slip in the snow—and also because he was a doting husband and father-to-be! Poor Tricia was quite ready for the baby to put in an appearance. She was getting awfully tired of not being able to see her toes and the extra weight she was lugging around was extremely tiring!
The fireworks displayed had been loud and glorious and Tricia did very well staying up for it as by that time she was pretty much done in. But the walk back to the Gibson residence, with both David and Jed assisting the mother-to-be to keep her feet had been filled with laughter and jokes and a good time with good friends.
In the downstairs bedroom Jed also lay awake contemplating life as he knew it these days. As always, first and foremost Heyes was on his mind. No matter what else was going on his Jed’s life or in his moods, there was always with him an underlying fear or dread. It didn’t clutch at his heart or rise up to choke him or cause him to lose his appetite, but it was still there none the less. Just a dullness in the pit of his stomach and in the back of his mind. It was always there; What if something happened to Heyes before they could get him out?
What if he got sick again and he didn’t pull through it? What if Carson ended up beating him to death? What if he spiraled down into another depression and stopped eating again….what if….what if….
Curry groaned and ran a hand over his eyes and through his hair. Jeez, I thought Heyes was supposed to be the worrier. He was the one who always had to think everything to death. He was the one who went over all the ‘what if’s’. Jed would always just go on instinct and say what he thought without worrying the idea into the ground. ‘Yeah Heyes, that’s a good plan.’ Or ‘Ah no, Heyes, you’re just not thinkin’.’ And he’d let his partner worry about the details.
But….what if…? Jed felt that familiar fear creep through him again; the one he always felt when he got too close to thinking about this. What if…and he was almost afraid to think it out loud. ‘What if Heyes dies in there before we can get him out?’ It would be unbearable especially knowing that Jed was in a position to be able to break him out without having to put all that much planning into it. It’d be easy in the summertime when the inmates were outside the prison doing work for the townspeople. Just gather some of the boys from the Hole and make a raid. It would be so easy.
And yet here he sat, not doing a darn thing to organize it because he knew that Heyes wouldn’t approve. That Heyes wouldn’t go for it. Because Heyes wouldn’t want Curry to throw away his amnesty. So nothing was getting done and trying to do things the right way—the legal way, was taking forever! Yet here he sat, not doing anything. And what if Heyes died in there before they could get him out? Curry sighed again. He had a pretty good idea what he might do if that happened; he might just take his gun, turn it on himself and pull the trigger. ‘Cause he didn’t think he could live with that; knowing that Heyes had died in prison because Curry hadn’t done what he knew he could do, to get him out.
Oh, this was getting too morbid. Jed forced his mind away from that vicious circle and put it onto more pleasant thoughts. New Years had been fun. He’d actually come close to forgetting about his worries for a time while at that gathering. Everyone had a great time, the food had been good and plentiful, the fruit punch, though a bit ‘fruity’ had been refreshing and the company could not have been better.
Jed smiled at that thought; jeez he must be getting old! He thought back to some of the raucous New Year’s Eve parties he and Heyes had been to over the years—especially the ones up in Devil’s Hole, or even better, in the nearby town that had no problem with welcoming the outlaws and their money to celebrate the night away in their establishments. Wine, women and song! Or more appropriate; Whiskey, whores and tinny piano music. But they sure had fun! Curry smirked, boy—not too long ago he wouldn’t have hesitated to jump on a tasty invitation like the one Isabelle had given him that night. Curry shook his head in the dark. Young Miss Isabelle had no idea; she thought she was all worldly and seductive but compared to the women whom Jed had partaken of during his outlaw years, she was still innocent and pure. She had absolutely no idea.
Beth was innocent too, but at least she didn’t pretend to be otherwise. She was sweet and caring and wanted to be with Jed because she liked him and not because of whom he used to be. Beth came to know him as Thaddeus—an impecunious saddle tramp who didn’t even have enough money for a horse. And she didn’t care, she just liked him.
Isabelle was simply after the reputation—Jed knew that. She didn’t know Jed well enough to like him; she just wanted to be the one who seduced Kid Curry. Well, that wasn’t gonna happen. Oh she was certainly pretty enough and as Jed had already admitted, there was a time not long ago when he would not have hesitated to partake of her treasures. But not anymore.
He was approaching his thirty-forth birthday and was finally beginning to grow up. He’d spent all of the New Year’s Eve without having even one alcoholic drink and knew as well, that he would be going to bed alone. But because he had spent the evening in the company of friends and family, he hadn’t missed the boozing or even thought about hitting the whore house and he’d had a really good time. His life had changed, and so had his priorities.
Then his thoughts went back to Heyes again—always back to Heyes again. But this time it was more about what they were planning on doing, not what they weren’t planning on doing. Steven’s prediction had been correct in that it was Thomas Moonlight who had been sworn in as the new territorial governor of Wyoming. Just what that would mean for their particular concerns remained to be seen.
Moonlight had very little sympathy for outlaws and trying to use the Civil War as an excuse for their chosen lifestyle wasn’t going to get them very far. But they did have a new appointment set for the middle of April. Steven was working on a presentation that might convince the new governor that Hannibal Heyes had served enough time and was deserving of a pardon.
Just hang on Heyes, Jed thought quietly. Just hang on and lay low and stay outa trouble. Surely that wasn’t asking too much, was it? Oh, but what if….? NO! Let’s not go there again! Get some sleep—busy day coming up. Jed rolled over onto his side and snuggling deeper into his warm blankets he closed his eyes for real and tried to relax.
Upstairs in the third bedroom, Jay was sleeping like a baby.
January 9, 1887. By some accounts the worst blizzard to ever hit the western states swept in down from Montana, through Wyoming, over Colorado, into the Dakota's and even sending its bite as far south as Texas. It was devastation ten fold. Cattle died by the thousands. The large powerful ranchers were crippled and brought to their knees. No one escaped the freezing blow and cattle ranching as it had always been known would be changed forever.
After it was all over, ranchers sat and mulled about why such a thing had happened. In hindsight one could almost see how each step of each season had brought them all to that cruel week of ice and snow. The previous Spring and Summer had been exceptionally hot and dry with many cattle on the larger spreads not being able to find water and ultimately dying of thirst. Those that survived were weakened by the heat and lack of moisture. Everyone waited anxiously for the Autumn coolness and rainstorms.
But the storms hadn't come. Or if they did, they came as dry lightening and instead of bring precious water reigning down from the sky's all they sent was fire. Acres and acres of grasses, already scorched from the long hot summer, would burst into flame and run wild across the prairie, destroying everything in its wake.
The great herds of cattle were already weakening and many of the ranches were so vast that transporting feed and water to the dwindling herds was impossible. During a season when the range cattle should have been fat and healthy from the summer feeding and the autumn rains were instead already starving. And the winter hadn't even set in yet.
Then when moisture did come, instead of a blessing it arrived as a curse. Instead of light and dry, that blizzard of January 1887 blew down upon them wet and heavy. The cattle's heavy winter coats that were perfect for insulating and protecting the body from dry snow and freezing temperatures ended up being the bain of its host once it got wet.
And wet, heavy snow was the only way to describe what fell from the sky for those ten brutal days in January. Many of the range horses knew to find shelter under these conditions. Anything would do, under trees or outcroppings of rocks. They knew how to find it and to stand together to help keep themselves warm. They knew how to eat snow for moisture and to paw down through the layers of white to get to the sparse grasses underneath. But even then, most of the weaker ones; the older, the younger and the sick perished that winter.
But the cattle fared far worse. Their thick heavy coats got weighed down by the wet snow and when the freezing temperatures came many of the animals froze to death. Those that survived that died of thirst simply because they'd never learned that snow held moisture. Standing up to their bellies in the white precipitation and they died of thirst by the hundreds.
Whole herds would get hung up along a fence line and not have enough where with all to turn away from it. The leaders would stop but the ones coming up behind would continue to walk into them, piling up along the fence until the whole lot died from being trampled or from exposure.
Many of the larger ranches were done for. So vast that it was impossible to tend to their livestock, they lost such a large percentage of their cattle that they would never be able to recover from the blow. Oddly enough, it was the smaller ranches that fared better, tucked up beside mountains and in the woods the animals were more able to find shelter and grass to get them through but only just.
The one saving grace for the Double J was that Jesse had learned from past experience. The failure of their first ranch had felt like a crushing blow to Jesse at the time. Nobody wants to admit defeat. Nobody wants to admit that they'd made a foolish choice, buying a spread that had not lived up to its promise.
But Jesse had learned a valuable lesson. Don't buy a ranch at face value. Research it, study it. Find out what the water table was during the best and the worst seasons. Make sure there were valley's and hills for shelter during the winter months, and streams and rivers that would flow all year round. And he kept his range stock at home, not allowing them to spread out and mingle with his neighbor's herds. He'd done his homework before purchasing this second ranch and then made sure he didn't grow too big too fast. He never allowed the ranch to get so big, so vast that it was unmanageable.
Even at that, the Double J suffered. The following Spring when it came time for the round-ups and everyone accessed their loses, Jesse figured that 40% of his cattle had died over the winter. Staggering loses until he looked around at his neighbours. Those who had bought along the same range of hills that he had did better, but those who were further down on the open plains were done for.
Property that had been considered prime because of the wide open spaces with all that room for thousands of head of cattle had now turned into death traps. The day of wide open ranges with cattle merging together in great herds, not to be separated by ownership until the spring round-ups were gone. Fencing suddenly became acceptable. Keeping your own herd on your own property and therefore easier to manage.
Methods of getting hay out to them during particularly cold winters were being studied and the day of the great round-ups and cattle drives were over. Those ranches that did survive those devastating ten days in January, limped through to Spring and the cattle that did make it to market were in such bad shape it was hardly worth the effort.
Jesse helped out where he could. His own good planning, along with Beth's intuitive grasp of all things financial had kept the Double J in the black despite the terrible loses that he and his neighbor's had suffered. But he also knew that a lot of it had been luck in that the lay of his land had offered more shelter than what many of the other spreads had. He'd had the time to study this ranch before he bought it, unlike many others who had just been happy to buy a place.
So the Jordan's had helped out where they could and Jed had done his part to help as well. But to Jed, this whole situation was yet another reminder as to why he wasn’t in any hurry to buy himself a ranch. Even though right now he could probably get one just by showing up at the front door, the reality of being so much at the mercy of Mother Nature just didn't set well with him at all.
Even during a normal winter the biggest problem to keeping livestock of course, was making sure they had enough water and feed. The range livestock were left to care for themselves and usually, being of hardy stock most of them came through the winters alright. There was always some loss due to the harsh conditions and predators but most of those animals had been born on the open range and again, through a normal winter,were wise to the ways of surviving the colder weather. But add wet to the cold and animals already weakened by the unseasonably hot and dry summer and fall and it was game over.
The more pampered animals who had a warm barn to spend the nights in certainly had life a bit easier, but it was still a lot of work for the person tending to their needs. Usually that was Sam, but as stated, often times during the bad weather it was Jed. The hay that had been cut and baled and stored for the winter months wasn't as good or plentiful as usual because of the dryer growing season but they had enough for their own stock to get through.
They tried to help out some of their neighbours but they had to be careful. Give away too much feed and your own animals end up starving.
Keeping the water troughs from freezing up was also quite the chore—often needing an ax to break up the ice. Then using his bare hands to grab hold of the chunks, Jed would toss them out of the trough so the horses could drink.
He found that he could only do this for a few minutes at a time and then he would have to quickly dry his red and aching hands off and shove them under his armpits to warm them up again. And it’s not like he would only have to do this once a day, usually it needed to be done at every feeding as it only took an hour or two for the troughs to become closed in again with a solid lid of ice.
Cleaning stalls wasn’t too easy a job in the winter either as the manure would freeze and make the job twice as hard it was during the spring and summer. Of course, during the summer the horses didn’t even have to come in at night as they would stay much cooler and more comfortable out on pasture 24/7. Made things a whole lot easier for everyone! But winter was a true test of endurance, especially for someone who wasn’t too keen on ranch work anyways. But Jed knew he had things pretty good for now so he sure wasn’t gonna start complaining!
February rolled in and things didn’t seem all that much different from January. It was still cold, it was still white and nobody was going anywhere unless dire emergency required it. David was getting a little anxious as Tricia’s due date was fast approaching and he didn’t want them to get snowed in. Of course their neighbour Millie was over quite a bit to help Tricia with the daily chores and to lend moral support. Tricia’s mother tried to get in from their ranch as often as she could, but again the road conditions kept her at home more than she’d like. Fortunately the Hamilton’s were just a block away and on standby alert. John had done most of the doctorin’ in town before David had arrived and his wife Nancy was an experienced midwife, so both of them would be in attendance for Tricia’s delivery.
Jed wanted to write to Heyes for his birthday, but he also wanted to hold off on the letter until the baby had arrived. He wasn’t sure if Heyes was really all that interested in the arrival of new infants, but David was a friend, so he would probably appreciate some kind of an announcement. Chances were that any letter written to Heyes now would be late arriving anyways, so another week or two wasn’t going to make much difference.
As it turned out Tricia went in to labour in the middle of the afternoon of a clear and bright sunny day so Millie had no problem making her way over to the Hamilton’s home and let them know that the time was imminent. David was a nervous wreck—excited and scared all at the same time and he was actually very much relieved when John and Nancy showed up and took control. Delivering other people’s babies was one thing, but the prospect of having to deliver his own was proving to be more nerve racking than he would have ever imagined.
So David spent the afternoon and evening sitting beside his wife and holding her hand and in-between contractions she would speak quiet reassurances to him to help keep him calm. By the time late evening came upon them, both parents-to-be were getting quite worn out and just wished that this new little person would hurry up and put in an appearance. By the time the wee hours of February 16th came upon them, David was beyond being nervous and was just plain tired. Tricia was holding her own and soon the contractions were coming close together and everyone got busy.
“How are you doing David?” John asked his friend who was looking a little pale.
“I’m okay,” David answered as he wiped perspiration from his wife’s brow.
“How are you doing Trish?” John asked the wife.
Trisha simply nodded in between deep breaths and squeezed her husband’s hand even harder. David grimaced but held his ground.
Some hours earlier, word had gotten around the district that the new arrival was imminent and Jed had been good enough to hitch the little bay pacer, Monty up the surrey and take on the role of ‘cab driver’. Belle quickly got herself ready and organized Beth to carry on with Jay and the handling of the household for a while—hardly a difficult task since Beth was already doing these things anyway. Beth was just disappointed that she couldn’t come too! Belle pointed out to her that there were going to be more than enough mother hens in attendance as it was and that Beth could come in later to give her congratulations.
Another consideration that was in the back of Belle’s mind was that; even though there had been no indication of problems, this was Tricia’s first pregnancy and there was just no telling how it would go. Belle did not want Beth there to witness things if it went badly. Of course Beth had been in the other room when Jay had been born, but Belle had already had two children with no problems so chances were good that the third, even though Belle was older, would also go smoothly. This had made the tragic loss of Mrs. Robertson and her infant all the more shocking.
Even at that, bottom line; Beth was needed at home. So, Jed and Belle bundled themselves up in the surrey and they headed out at a quick pace over to the Baxter ranch to pick up Tricia’s mother, Jean. Then that done, with the two ladies chatting excitedly in the back seat, Jed had turned the horse’s nose towards town and they made quick work of the hard packed distance to the Gibson residence.
Jed dropped the ladies off and headed back out to the Double J, knowing that his attendance at this event was hardly necessary and that he probably would not be needed to take the ladies home again for some time. Once inside, Millie greeted them and while she and Belle settled in at the kitchen table, Jean went into the bedroom to add support to her daughter and to her son-in-law.
A couple of hours later Jean returned to the kitchen to join the other ladies. Tricia had noted that her mother, who wasn’t well at the best of times, was looking fatigued and assuring her that all was well, sent her off to relax with a cup of coffee. Belle and Millie had made sure that the coffee was always on and were also keeping warm water at the ready for the numerous cloths that Nancy and David were using to help Tricia deal with the pain of contractions. All three of those ladies had been through enough child birthings to know how things were going and that there was just no rushing it. Babies would be born when they were good and ready to be born.
But when they heard Tricia yell out in pain as a particularly strong contraction hit her, those wise ladies smiled across the table at one another and knew that birth was imminent. Jean was tempted to return to her daughter’s side, but decided that holding her hand was what David was there for—after all he was the one who had got her into this condition so he should have to at least suffer through the labour pains as well! Inside the bedroom, Nancy was in position to assist her husband and David was doing his best to be supportive of his wife. He ignore the pain in his hand as the contractions caused Tricia’s grip to become vice like in its intensity!
But David held true and caressed his wife and spoke encouragements to her even though she felt like punching him in the face and then another strong contraction and Tricia pushed with all her might and allowed a gasp of pain to escape her.
“Here we go,” John told her. “I can see the baby’s head now Tricia, just a few more good pushes and you’ll be done.”
Tricia didn’t answer but sent him a look indicating who else she’d like to be pushing right then. Damn men!! What do they know about this!? If David thinks he’s ever going to touch me again he is sadly mistaken!!! OH MY GOD!!! Another contraction and another push and—OH! When is this baby going to get out of me!?
“Just one more push, Tricia.”
“C’mon sweetheart,” David coaxed her. “we’re almost there.”
WE!? Where did this ‘we’ come into it?! Then another contraction and Tricia gasped again and then suddenly—finally—the pain released and everybody was on the move. Nancy came forward with the swaddling blanket while her husband set about his business to tie off the umbilical cord and get the infant breathing. David still held onto his wife’s hand, but was standing up to try and get a look at his new offspring.
John smiled over at him. “It’s a boy, David!” he announced. “A strong and healthy boy. Congratulations to both of you.”
David was grinning from ear to ear. Tricia was just relieved. But as soon as the infant was wrapped in a blanket and placed in the new mother’s waiting arms her tired face lit up with pleasure. David was already touching his new son’s head and laughed excitedly when the baby wrapped a tiny fist around his finger. Tricia instinctively put the baby to her breast, but he wasn’t showing much interest in nursing just yet—still too much in shock over that violent passage from warm darkness to cool air, and life was just beginning!
Nancy returned to the kitchen to get more warm water and wash cloths, and to bring the good news.
“It’s a boy!” she announced.
Belle and Millie were pleased as punch.
“Finally—a grandson!” Jean announced. “All my children seemed determined to keep having girls!”
“Is Tricia fine?” Belle asked. “Did everything go alright?”
“Yes,” Nancy assured them. “Baby and mother are doing fine. Father’s a bit scattered though.” Then she smiled. “Just give us a few minutes to get them cleaned up and then you can come in to meet the new arrival.”
Half an hour later everyone was in the bedroom and gathered around the new family. Both parents were smiling with pleasure through their exhaustion while the object of all the attention suckled for a few moments and then promptly fell asleep.
“He’s a beautiful baby,” Belle complimented them. “Congratulations, both of you. You’ve waited a long time for this.”
Both parents nodded emphatically.
“I have boxes of baby boy things just waiting to come over and be of use again,” Belle continued. “Jay outgrows everything so fast; it’ll be nice to be able to pass them along.”
“Well everyone!” John announced as he and his wife finished with the cleaning up. “The sun is rising and it looks like its going to be another real nice day. How about we all head over to the café for breakfast and leave this new family to get acquainted on their own.”
Everyone nodded ascent to this and began shuffling towards the bedroom door.
“You’re all going?!” David was almost in a panic. “But what do we do?”
“By the look of things, I’d say you’re all going to get some sleep,” John predicted then smiled at David’s paled complexion. “Don’t worry David; he’s not going to break. I’ll come back in about an hour to see how you’re doing. And I’m sure Jean will be staying on for a few days to help you adjust.”
“Of course I am!” Jean announced. “Somebody has to show these two what happens after the baby arrives!”
“Oh, alright,” David answered, though he still looked a little lost.
Tricia just sent them a tired smile. “Thank you John, Nancy,” she said. “I think I will just get some sleep.”
'….so there you have it Heyes.' Curry wrote. “They named the little fella ‘Nathanial’ after Trish’s father and ‘Charles’ after David’s father, so the little guy already has quite the lineage to live up to. Wonder if he’ll become a doctor too!
I haven’t met him yet. When I drove in to pick up Belle, Tricia and little Nathan were asleep so of course I didn’t want to disturb them. Plenty of time for introductions later.
Don’t be surprised if you get a letter from David as soon as his head comes down out of the clouds! I have no doubt that he will fill in all the details for you to the point where you will swear you were there yourself! Something for you to look forward to.
Well, again Heyes; ‘Happy Birthday’ seems kinda lame considering, but I wanted to drop you a line to acknowledge it anyways. Everyone else sends good wishes etc. I’m hoping to get in to see ya’ in late March, early April but as usual it all depends on the weather. In the mean time take care of yourself and I say again; stay outa trouble! It’s just not worth it, getting beat up all the time and even I can tell that Carson is getting harder and harder on ya’ each time you provoke him—so don’t do it!
Okay, enough lecturing. See ya’ soon.
Heyes settled back into his pillow and took a sip of coffee. So there it was; life goes on and there he sat, drinking coffee and staring at the walls of his cell. Well, he should be happy for David he supposed. Heyes couldn’t stop life from continuing on around him and without him so he may as well just accept it and try to be happy for the good things that were happening back home.
He supposed that the next grand event would be the arrival of Karma’s foal and he felt rest assured that he would be receiving a very detailed letter about that occasion as well. After that would be Steven and Bridget’s wedding—more letters. More ‘wish you could have been here’ and ‘thinking of you’ and ‘please take care of yourself’. Heyes sighed. Another sip of coffee. The most he had to look forward to was the coming of warm weather, then it’d be too hot and he’d be looking forward to autumn. Oh well.
So, February slid away and March roared in to take its place. Would the snow ever stop falling? What time Heyes did get to spend outside was usually made up of hard work, shoveling said snow away from the main gate and along the roadway in order to allow the provisions wagon access to the yard. By the time he and a few other ‘lucky’ inmates had spent the day doing that they were all cold and wet and exhausted. No need to listen to music in his head to fall asleep those nights!
He was dreaming about Abi again—a lot! But they were sad dreams. They’d start out happy enough; they would be together, sharing a home, building a life but then all of a sudden he would be inside the cell again and the door would clang shut and lock down and Abi would drift away. He could see her disappear down the isle and he’d want so much to go with her but he couldn’t get out of his cell. He would call to her to wait for him, but she wouldn’t answer and simply wave 'goodbye' and then be gone in a wisp of mist or smoke or cloud or…memory.
He'd wake up sad and lonely and melancholy, feeling like he was never going to get out of here. Then the morning buzzer would sound and the cell doors would all open and he’d be up and having to face another day.
Gradually though, the temperatures did begin to warm up a bit and the snows began to melt away. Heyes had sent a quick note off to Kid in acknowledgment of his birthday and also to send his congratulations to David. Jed had been right in that David had written a rather extended version of the Kid’s announcement of the new arrival. Though it was old news by then, David’s excitement and pleasure was addictive and Heyes even found himself smiling with amusement at some of his friends’ descriptive narrative. The good doctor just couldn’t be any more thrilled about being a new father.
Life goes on—even if it is dull and mundane. Then Heyes was hit with another surprise, one more thing that was going to make his life just a little bit better—one more thing that he could add on to his list of ‘things’ that he could look forward to. Although at first it did not appear that way to the convict, indeed at first he found himself feeling anxious about it and even a little resentful at being ‘roped’ into doing something he really didn’t want to do.
Sister Julia approached Heyes in the infirmary, smiling a smile that set off warning bells and almost caused him to glance around to look for an escape route.
“Good morning Joshua!” the Sister greeted him. “It’s nice to see you again, and it appears that you have come through the winter without any new injuries!”
“Yes Sister,” Heyes confirmed though his brow furrowed a bit with growing suspicion and never being one to beat around the bush, he came out and asked her point blank; “Is there something on your mind Sister?”
“Well yes there is!” the Sister responded with a big smile and a conspiratorial hand on his arm. “My orphans would like to meet you Joshua.”
“Ohhh, well now Sister, I don’t know….”
“Well why not?” she asked all feigning surprise at his reluctance. “They feel such a connection to you and it would do you good to talk with them.”
“It would do me good?” Heyes asked a little incredulously. “How do you figure that Sister?”
“For one thing you could get out of here for awhile,” she pointed out, but then stopped the teasing and became a little more serious. “You’d be surprised Joshua, how spending some time with children can brighten the heart and lighten the soul.”
“I don’t think so Sister,” Heyes tried to back out. “I’d have nothing to say to them.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that; they’ll do most of the talking,” then it was the Sister’s turn to furrow her brow in concern as she noticed the tightening around his mouth and the hard look in his eye. “What are you so afraid of Joshua?”
Heyes smiled awkwardly. “I’m not afraid,” he insisted as he dropped his gaze from hers and kinda-sorta shuffled his feet. “I mean—I just don’t know what I would say to them. They think I’m this ‘romantic hero’. How am I supposed to live up to that?”
“You don’t,” she told him. “Just be yourself.”
Heyes snorted derisively but then continued to look uncomfortable, almost to the point of defensive.
“That would be pretty disappointing,” he mumbled. “The ‘dashing, romantic hero’ being revealed as nothing more than a thief and a conman.”
“Joshua, you know there is a lot more to you than that,” the Sister pointed out, taking a hard line now. “As I mentioned to you before; you have a shared history with these children and I know that you would have a lot to offer them.” Then she smiled and squeezed his arm again. “C’mon, just come the one time at least and if you don’t want to come back again, then you don’t have to.”
“I don’t think the warden would approve….”
“I have already spoken with Warden Mitchell about this,” the Sister informed him. “he has given his approval, and Officers Reece and Pearson have agreed to accompany you.”
And this was where Heyes began to feel like he had been backed into a corner. All this conspiring going on around and about him and he was the last one to know. Well that was typical, he supposed! His shoulders slumped as he submitted to the inevitable and Sister Julia smiled knowing that she had won the day.
“Good!” she exclaimed and her smile broadened. “The children will be thrilled!”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: A Special Day Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:41 pm|| |
Heyes was in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Again, it was a situation where he had decided that he was going to be snarky and miserable because he hadn’t gotten his way and everyone else around him was going to pay for it.
“What the hell is your problem!?” Morin finally snapped at him. “You’re acting like a bear with a bee up its butt! If you’re gonna carry on like this why don’t you just go back to your cell and save me the misery of your company!”
“I don’t wanna go back to my cell.”
“Well I don’t want ya’ here if you’re gonna carry on like this!”
The two men stood and glared at each other, neither one showing any sign of backing down. Considering how stubborn both men could be there was no telling how long the stand-off would have continued if Officer Reece hadn’t chosen that moment to drop by the infirmary.
“What’s got you two at odds?” Reece asked as he approached the pair.
“How the hell should I know?” Morin growled. “Heyes is the one walkin’ around with his hackles up—ask him! But have your bully club ready Ken, he just might bite!” And then the doctor turned and started towards his office, mumbling. “Son of a bitch…!”
Kenny couldn’t help but smile at the doctor’s obvious irritation but then his expression turned serious as he looked over at the inmate. Heyes instantly dropped his gaze and relaxed his hostile stance.
“You looking for trouble today Heyes?” Kenny asked him.
“No sir Mr. Reece. No trouble.”
“Good,” Kenny responded. “because I need to ask something of you and I want you to answer me honestly.” Heyes continued to stare at the floor. “Has Sister Julia spoken to you about the proposed trip to the orphanage?”
“Good,” Kenny repeated. Then the guard took a deep breath and correlated his thoughts before expressing them. “I would not normally bother to ask an inmate this question because most of the inmates here I would not trust to give me an honest answer. On the other hand I know that you are a man of your word; that once you give it you will keep it.” A slight frown flashed across Heyes’ face as he continued to look at the floor. He was wondering where this was going. “Now, on the trip to the orphanage you will be transported in the prison wagon and you will be shackled hand and foot as usual. But I believe it would be more suitable that once we enter the building and you are presented to the children that the shackles should be removed.”
Here Kenny paused and sent the inmate a strong look. “Heyes, look at me. Look me in the eye.”
Heyes raised his gaze from the floor and looked straight and solid into Kenny’s gray eyes.
“I need your word that you will not, at any point during this venture, try to escape. Do I have your word on that Mr. Heyes?”
Heyes blinked and swallowed, feeling strangely honoured that Kenny would even ask him for that.
“Yessir, Mr. Reece,” Heyes answered him through a slightly tightened throat. “you have my word.”
“Good,” Kenny nodded and then a ghost of a smile tugged at his lips. “Because Warden Mitchell has given me strict instructions that he would rather I bring you back dead then not bring you back at all. And I must admit that having to shoot you down in front of the Sisters and a group of orphaned children would tend to ruin my day. Do we understand each other?”
It was Heyes’ turn to feel the tug of a smile, and he nodded. “Yessir, Mr. Reece. You have my word I will not try to escape.”
“Good,” Kenny said again. “Carry on Convict. I’ll see you in the morning.”
The next day Heyes was feeling decidedly nervous and he was kinda mad at himself for it. What was the big deal anyways? They were just a bunch of children—not like he was on trial again and his whole future hinged on the outcome! What did it matter? Just relax.
Still, as he pulled on his layers of clothing in preparation for heading outdoors he just couldn’t quiet the butterflies in his stomach; he just wasn’t very comfortable around children. Kid was better; yeah Kid should be the one doing this! Maybe he would suggest that to Sister Julia later on, yeah; ask Kid to do it. It would be easier to arrange too since he could just swing by the orphanage on his way to or from visiting with Heyes. No need for guards or transportation, he could just go on his own. Yeah, Heyes liked that idea. But in the meantime, he still had to get through today.
Kenny came to collect him shortly after breakfast and took him down to the room by the visitor’s area and got him ready for transport. Simply out of routine and the discipline of following the rules, Kenny put him up face first against the wall. He did a thorough patting down of his person and then buckling the belt around the inmate’s waist, turned him around and snapped his hands into the cuffs. The guard grabbed a set of leg irons, and taking Heyes by the arm, they headed out down the corridor to the next stop.
Pearson was already waiting for them at the door to the armory and gave his boss a nod of greeting as the two men approached. Pearson was armed already with a hand gun and a rifle and it didn’t take Kenny long to get himself organized with the same equipment. He strapped on the holster, put on a coat and hat and then quickly checked over his weapons to make sure they were both loaded and ready for use.
The three men then headed towards the exit out to the yard with Heyes feeling like all this was a bit of overkill. He’d already given his word that he wouldn’t try anything, but he supposed they had to follow orders and be prepared. Who knows? Maybe this was all a set up and the Devil’s Hole Gang was going to waylay them out on the road and abscond with the prisoner. Heyes allowed a pessimistic smirk to escape; yeah, like that was gonna happen. Kenny glanced at him and Heyes gave a slight shake of his head; he hadn’t meant anything by it.
Stepping outside Heyes could feel the damp chilliness in the air and was happy for his toque and sweater. It wasn’t raining at the moment, but it was a cold, overcast day and the melting slush and gray pools of standing water made it feel like January all over again instead of March. Even with his layers of clothing on Heyes shivered a little in the morning air and found himself hoping that it wouldn’t take too long to reach their destination, despite what waited for him there.
Pearson opened the back door of the armored coach and stepped up and in, then turned and waited for the inmate to do the same. Heyes certainly remembered his last journey in this coach, even though he had been out cold through a lot of the trip. He'd also been hurting pretty badly from his encounter with Mike for the rest of it.
The only times Heyes had been transported outside the prison had been during the summer months when he and some of the other inmates would make up a work gang and been put to work. On those occasions the armored coach wasn’t used since it would have been as hot as an oven for the convicts to be forced to ride in. Instead they had been transported in a converted buckboard that had metal rings embedded in the floor boards so the prisoners could be secured where they sat along a makeshift bench. Not particularly comfortable, but even Heyes could appreciate the difference between riding in an open buckboard and being cooped up inside an iron coach in the summer time!
So, with an eerie feeling of déjà vu Heyes stepped up into the coach and with Kenny coming in right behind him, he sat down on the side bench and waited. Reece handed his rifle over to Pearson, then knelt down at Heyes’ feet and snapped on the leg irons, then he ran the chain through the ring in the floor and pulled it up to attach to the belt around the inmate's waist. He stood up, took his rifle back from Pearson and sat himself down opposite the prisoner and gave a nod to the other guard.
“Okay Pearson,” he said. “let’s get this show on the road.”
“Yessir,” came the response.
Pearson exited the coach and closed the door. Heyes could hear the ominous sound of the bolt sliding across and the lock clicking into place. He shivered again, only this time it wasn’t from the cold. He always hated that sound and being in prison where he was hearing it on a regular basis hadn’t made it any easier to take. He gave a heavy sigh and inadvertently glanced over at the guard sitting across from him.
Kenny was smiling at him.
“C’mon Heyes,” he said. “Why don’t you just try and look at this as a break from the routine? I can think of plenty of other inmates who would jump at a chance like this.”
Heyes smirked as the coach gave a jolt and started moving towards the gates. Yeah, a break from the routine, he thought. So was having the dentist come and pull teeth without any painkiller. Oh, let’s just get this day over with so he could get back to his routine—what a nuisance!
As it happened, the convent and orphanage were on the other side of Laramie from the prison so naturally the fastest route to it was straight through town. Heyes’ spirits lifted a little bit as they came through the main street of the busy town. He shifted a little against his chains so that he could look out the barred window and watch the townsfolk moving about their business.
Heyes couldn’t help but envy them; there was a time when he would have thought of their lives as mundane, but now he just wished he could be a part of what they had. They had freedom. Sure they had worries too, making a living and raising families wasn’t always easy, but at least they had freedom of will, they could make choices and didn’t have to kowtow to anyone, unless it was their boss—or their wife!
Funny, Heyes mused, you just don’t appreciate that freedom until it’s taken from you. Then there you are, staring at it through the bars of a prison wishing you could just reach out and touch it and then it would be yours again. He smiled at two young boys running down the boardwalk, making pests of themselves where ever they went. And then that little girl, stamping her foot in anger because her mother was saying ‘no’. Reminded him of two other young girls he used to know.
Then a couple of more blocks down were the saloon and whore house, the section of town where the nice people didn’t go—and Heyes felt right at home. He smiled and actually yelled a greeting back at the pretty little thing in a corset and high heels that waved at him and showed a bit of leg despite the chill in the air. Oh what a tease! She knew darn well there was nothing he could do but she sent him a sweet smile and a kiss anyways.
Heyes laughed and then shook his head. Damn! What he could do with her! To hell with going to the convent and spending time with the orphans—he could just stay right here and fill in the time quite nicely! Oh well. The coach carried on through the back side of the town and headed down the road towards their destination and all the sights and sounds of activity were left behind them.
Heyes came around and settled back into position again and he noticed Kenny watching him. He looked away from those gray eyes, feeling slightly embarrassed that he had allowed a natural male lusting to take hold of him like that. But it had been so long since he’d had anything other than his own imagination to make love to that the sight of a young lady’s bare leg was more than enough to send him over the edge. If nothing else it at least confirmed again that Heyes was still quite capable and the only thing putting a damper on his libido was prison life!
Kenny just smiled. He wasn’t being judgmental, just observant. He knew that side of prison life was extremely hard on the younger inmates and that sexual frustration was most of what was behind a lot of the aggressive behavior exhibited by the more alpha of the inmates down on the work floor. Still, he didn’t have an answer for it; it’s not like they could bring women into the prison to fulfill that need—jeez talk about the makings of a brawl there!
The two men sat in silence, Kenny thankful that he had a wife to go home to and Heyes wishing that he did—or at least the equivalent. They continued on in that manner, each lost in their own thoughts until they were at the convent. Pearson pulled the horses to a halt up by the main gate and they could hear him asking directions from ole’ Bill as to how to best access the orphanage. Then Pearson clucked to the horses and they were on the move again.
Ten minutes the coach was stopped one more time and they heard Pearson pull the brakes on and then start to climb down from the driver’s seat. The hostler had come up to take hold of the near horse’s bridle and they could hear him and Pearson discussing the welfare of the horses and coach for the duration and then Pearson walked to the back of the coach and unlocked the door.
Opening up the back, he stepped up and into the coach and Kenny handed him his rifle and then knelt down by Heyes’ feet and released him from the ring in the floor. Then he unlocked the leg irons and leaving them on the bench, he took hold of Heyes’ arm and pulled him to his feet. He took back his rifle from Pearson and then all three men disembarked to land outside on the cold slushy ground.
Heyes found himself looking at a large white structure that looked somewhat similar to a southern plantation type of house. There were steps leading up to a large wrap around veranda where there was a solid double wide front door and lots of windows with green shutters now open to let in what little sunlight there was to be had. All in all it felt like a warm and inviting home and Heyes couldn’t help but feel a little envious when comparing this place to Valparaiso—well, there just was no comparison!
The three men started up the steps, Pearson in front then Heyes with Kenny still holding onto his arm—a subtle but non-threatening reminder to the inmate that he was still a prisoner and that certain rules still applied. Just as they were reaching the landing, Sister Julia who had been informed of their arrival, opened the front door and greeted them with her usual friendly smile.
“Gentlemen! How wonderful to see you!” she exclaimed as though it were a huge surprise. Then she smiled over at Heyes. “Hello Joshua.”
“Sister,” he returned her smile with a friendly nod.
“Sister Julia,” Reece greeted her. “I’ll trust you to lead the way.”
“Of course gentlemen. Do come in.”
Stepping into the alcove was like coming into a mansion when compared to what Heyes had become accustomed to. The carpeting and hard wood floors were old and had seen better days, but they were clean and well cared for. The walls were adorned with photographs and artwork, obviously created by the children of various ages and creative talent levels. But each one was given its special place without concern over technique or level of ability and went a long ways towards making visitors feel welcome.
There was also a big wood stove doing a good job of sending out a low steady burn that sent heat throughout the downstairs rooms and Heyes smiled as he felt the warmth of it settle into his fingers. The two that had been broken still tended to ache when they got cold so the heat coming to them was very much appreciated.
“This way, gentlemen,” Sister Julia directed them as she headed down the hallway. “The children are in class right now, but I’m sure they won’t mind this diversion.”
Oh boy—here we go. Heyes felt the butterflies attack his stomach again. He was going to have to tread lambently here. What was he going to say? How was he going to approach them? He hadn’t even been this nervous at his first bank robbery! He felt certain that if Kenny hadn’t had a hold of his arm, encouraging him to keep moving forward he would have broke and made a run back to the prison coach!
They reached the end of the hallway and Sister Julia smiled back at them, then knocked on the door, opened it, went inside and then closed it behind her.
“Okay Heyes, come here,” said Kenny as he turned the prisoner towards him. “Remember our agreement and behave yourself, alright?”
“Yeah,” Heyes croaked.
Kenny smiled as he unlocked the hand cuffs and removed the belt from around Heyes’ waist.
“Just relax Heyes,” he suggested. “Try to enjoy yourself. I’m the one with the rifle, not them.”
Then the door opened again and Sister Julia motioned for them to come in. Kenny checked his rifle to make sure the safety was on and then kept the weapon pointed down towards the floor. He nodded to Pearson, indicating for him to stand guard outside the door and then he gave Heyes a push, sending him into no man’s land.
Heyes thought for sure that he was going to throw up. This was just like walking into that courtroom again and knowing that all eyes were upon him. Sister Julia smiled at his discomfort and taking his arm, she pulled him forward to stand by the front desk where she introduced him to the older Sister who had been teaching the class.
“Joshua, this is Sister Cornelia,” Sister Julia stated. “She generally teaches the older children but today we brought all the children in to the one room so that they could all meet you.” Heyes smiled a little nervously. “Sister Cornelia, this is Hannibal Heyes.”
“Mr. Heyes,” the older Sister greeted him. “how nice to meet you. I dare say the children greatly appreciated the letter you sent them at Christmas.”
“Ahhh, thank you ma’am—ah Sister,” Heyes returned the greeting, remembering to remove his toque. “I really appreciated the cookies.”
This comment was met by some stifled giggling from the assembly and Heyes turned to survey his audience. Indeed the small classroom was filled with about twenty children, all ranging in age from four up to about fifteen and every one of them was looking with awe and excitement at their infamous visitor. Heyes took a deep cleansing breath and decided that if he was going to do this, he may as well do it right!
He smiled until his dimples shone through. “Good morning!” he greeted them all. “How are you all doing today?”
A loud chorus of ; 'Fine Mr. Heyes!' came cascading back at him and he knew from the dropped jaws and admiring looks from all the young ladies—irrelevant of age—that his dimples and dark brown eyes had already won them over.
“Now I was led to believe,” he began, while leaning back against the front desk. “that all you fine ladies and gentlemen pestered poor Sister Julia no end until she agreed to invite me here for this visit.”
This statement was met with some embarrassed giggling from the girls and rolling eyes from the boys—boys always were harder to impress.
“So what made you think that I would be willing to leave my tiny, cold, dark cell to come here to this fine warm and comfortable home to spent my time talking with you lot?”
This was met with some more giggling and then one young man in the back row raised his hand and stood up.
“We were hopin’ you could tell us about how you grew up, Mr. Heyes,” he stated matter-of-factly. “considerin’ you was raised in an orphanage too.”
“Yeah,” Heyes nodded and crossed his arms. “I could do that. What’s your name?”
“Good to meet ya’ Michael,” Heyes responded. “What would you like to know?”
“Well, was it much different from what we have here?”
“Ohhh yeah!” Heyes was emphatic. “As soon as I stepped into the front foyer here I knew it was different!” He paused here and became reflective. “As I mentioned in my letter to you; the Civil War was raging and nobody had time for orphans. Valparaiso was cold in the winter and hot in the summer and there was never enough to eat. I had to steal food in order to keep myself and my cousin from starving.” He smiled. “Looking at you lot I don’t think you have that problem here.”
“We get lots to eat!”
“That’s terrible! No wonder you ran away!”
Kenny smiled and settled himself against the wall by the classroom door. He wasn’t surprised to see Heyes rising to the occasion. His vocal dexterity and natural charm had taken over and now that he was on a roll chances were good they were going to be there for the rest of the morning.
“Was it fun robbing trains and banks?” came a little voice from the back
“What’s your name?”
“Sally. You asked me that in your letter didn’t you?”
Sally blushed but smiled, obviously pleased that he had actually remembered her.
“I don’t know if ‘fun’ is the right word for it,” Heyes explained. “It was exciting, but dangerous too. Especially the trains. Trains are like a moving building and forcing one to stop required precise timing and just a little bit of crazy.” Sadness crossed over his features, just for an instant. “I lost more than one man who misjudged his jump and ended up under the wheels.”
He looked out at his audience and was met by dropped jaws and wide eyes, everyone was entranced. He smiled again.
“Anyway—that’s just one of the reasons me and Kid decided to get out of the business.”
“Why else would you want to quit?” asked another boy. “You were so good at it!”
“Why thank you!” Heyes was genuinely pleased. “What’s your name?”
“Henry.” Heyes thought about it for a moment. “I didn’t get a letter from you did I?”
Henry looked embarrassed and kinda shuffled around in his chair.
“Well that’s alright Henry,” Heyes assured him. “A lot of young men don’t like to write letters.”
Again Heyes was saying all the right things and Henry smiled with pride at being referred to as a ‘young man’.
“I guess the main reason me and Kid decided to quit the business was because we began to realize how wrong it was,” Heyes explained. “We always prided ourselves in the fact that we never hurt anyone, but then we started to realize that there is more than one way to hurt another person. We always told ourselves that we were just stealing from the large corporations, so that made it alright. But the truth of it is we were stealing from every day folk too; people who had to work hard for their money and that wasn’t right. It also wasn’t right to hold innocent folk at gunpoint, which we did on a regular basis. That can be very frightening for people and even though we never hurt anyone, we still caused harm.”
Heyes paused here, feeling a little warm with the heat from the wood stove finally seeping into his bones. He automatically started to pull his tunic up over his sweater but then remembered his situation and sent a quick glance over to Kenny who was now sitting by the door. Kenny gave him a subtle nod of permission and Heyes completed the task of pulling off the tunic and laying it aside. He turned back to the class and instantly noticed a change in the atmosphere. The smiles were gone from the youthful faces and their glances were shifting back and forth between Heyes and Reece. The casual exchange between prisoner and guard and its meaning had not been lost on the assembly.
Heyes smiled, taking the opportunity to put in a bit of a tease.
“Oh, don’t worry about Officer Reece,” he commented. “I just like to let him feel like he’s doing his job.”
Reece rolled his eyes, but it broke the mood and the children giggled and returned their focus to the ex-outlaw. Another little boy stood up then, and having figured out the protocol, began his question with his name.
“My name is Charlie,” he said.
“Yes Charlie, what would you like to know?”
“How did you get a funny name like ‘Hannibal’?” he asked with a bit of a smirk. “I never heard of such a name before.”
Heyes smirked himself at that one—one thing about children; they aren’t bashful about asking the ‘silly’ questions.
“Well, Ahhh ha!” he laughed. “It’s kinda a long story, but my Great Grandfather was really interested in history. Apparently he had quite a library over in England and was always reading up on the great military battles from centuries ago. There was this one fella—well I guess he was a general or something, but he was a leader of men anyways. But his name was Hannibal and he apparently took his army that included elephants and horses and all sorts of hangers-on and he crossed the Alps with them.
“I’m not really sure what it was all about, it happened such a long time ago, but it is still considered to be one of the greatest military achievements of all time. So, my Great Grandpa was so impressed with this man that he named his eldest son after him. Now apparently my Grandpa wasn’t too thrilled with having been labeled with such a handle because he didn’t pass it on to any of his sons, so the name skipped a generation.
“Then my Pa decided to get sentimental about the old country and the family that he had left behind there by coming to the America’s and so he saddled me with the name and I’ve had to live with it ever since.”
“Ohhh,” came the unified and sympathetic response from the group.
“But I like that name,” came the quiet admittance from little Melanie sitting in the back corner. “It’s different. It makes you special.”
Heyes looked back at her and a warm smile settled onto his features. Maybe he should start appreciating his given name a little bit more. But then a full grin broke out over his face and a sparkle came to his eye.
“Well, if you like that one young lady, you’re going to love my second name,” he told her. “It seems my parents were really homesick by the time I came along and added Ellstrom to the damage they’d already done.”
“Ellstrom!!?” came the boisterous reply from most of the boys in the classroom.
“No wonder you became an outlaw!”
“Was that your Ma’s name before she married your Pa?” Carol asked. “That’s where my brother got his second name from; it was from my Ma’s family.”
At which point a particular little boy sent his sister a reprimanding look and then silently mouthed the decree; 'Don’t you dare tell him!!!'
Heyes smiled at the sibling conflict. “You’re close,” Heyes told her. “My Ma’s maiden name was ‘Curry’.”
“That’s right—Kid Curry’s your cousin.”
“I forgot about that.”
“Yeah,” Heyes confirmed. “But ‘Ellstrom’ was her mother’s maiden name. So they were really going back to make sure they gave me the worse name possible.”
Most of the boys laughed and hooted over that, but most of the girls seemed to think that there was nothing wrong with the name at all. Little Melanie especially thought that they were both quite nice names and were actually very romantic, in a heroic sort of way.
After a few minutes of boisterous teasing and joking with one another about various family names the group settled down again and then one of the older girls raised her hand and introduced herself.
“Mr. Heyes, my name is Gillian.”
Heyes smiled at her. “Hello Gillian. I remember your letter. Did you have another question for me?”
“Yes sir. Since your name is ‘Hannibal’ how come Sister Julia always calls you ‘Joshua’?”
“Well, you see, that was the name I was using when we first met Sister Julia,” Heyes explained. “Even though the Kid and I had gone straight the law was still looking for us so we had to go by aliases in order to stay discreet.”
“What’s an ‘alias’?”
“Oh, well that’s a name you go by when you don’t want people to know who you really are,” Heyes told her. “So Sister Julia first came to know me as Joshua Smith and I suppose she just prefers to continue using that name rather than switching over to my legal handle. I don’t mind—I like the name ‘Joshua’ which is I suppose, why I chose it for my alias in the first place.”
“Does everyone else call you ‘Hannibal’ now that you’re not wanted anymore?” came a question from the back of the room.
“Some do, even some who used to know me as ‘Joshua’ have switched over to ‘Hannibal’,” Heyes admitted. “But some still call me ‘Joshua’—most just call me Heyes.” Then he smiled in recollection. “There is one lady in particular though who so thoroughly despises my given name that she insists on calling me ‘Mr. Heyes’, even though we’ve been lov….ah, I mean good friends for some time now.”
A couple of the older boys picked up on the slip and smiled knowingly, but on the most part this admission was taken at face value and met with giggles and comments about how silly that was; she should appreciate his given name—it was special!
Then little Sally stood up again and raised her hand.
“Yes Sally,” Heyes acknowledged her.
“I read in one of the dime novels that you held up a stagecoach and took all their money,” she informed him. “But that’s not stealing from the large person, that’s stealing from the little people.”
“Yes it is,” Heyes agreed with her. “And you can’t believe everything you read in those dime novels. Actually,” and he smiled. “you can’t believe most of what you read in those dime novels. Kid and I never held up stagecoaches, mainly for that very reason. Coaches never carried anything of much value. They might occasionally have a payroll, but usually it was just mail and then whatever the passengers were carrying, so it really wasn’t worth our while. We focused on trains and banks, cause, well—that’s where the money was kept.”
Even Kenny got a bit of a chuckle out of that reasoning, but it was drowned out by the hoots and chortles coming from the children.
Then Heyes noticed two of the older boys in the back having a silent argument. The one was nudging his friend trying to get him to do something, but the other one obviously did not want to do it and kept slapping his friend’s nudges away and mouthing ‘no’ whenever it came up. Naturally this picked at Heyes’ curiosity.
“You fellas got something ya’ want to ask?” he sent back to them.
All heads turned and suddenly they were the focus of attention. They both looked a little embarrassed at being found out, but then the one who had been doing the nudging stood up and introduced himself.
“Ah, yessir Mr. Heyes,” he self-consciously admitted. “My name is William, sir. Ah, we was wondering; what’s it like in prison? If ya’ don’t mind sayin’, sir.”
Heyes leaned back and crossed his arms for a moment while he contemplated the questions.
“No, I don’t mind sayin’,” he admitted. “It’s a good question. Actually that was one of the things my cousin asked me the first time he came to visit. I mean, we’d always speculated about that. We both had a prison sentence hanging over our heads so of course you think about it from time to time. You know; what if…? That sort of thing. And like I told him; it’s worse than anything we had imagined.”
A few low groans came from his audience. Heyes was silent for a moment, contemplating his answer. Everyone in the room; children and adults alike, waited patiently for him to collect his thoughts and voice his opinion.
“It’s not that Kid and I didn’t have good imaginations, it’s just that living the reality of it is worse than any imaginings could possibly have been,” Heyes explained. “It’s not just that your freedom is gone—that’s obvious. But your freedom of speech is taken from you, your right to have an opinion, your individuality. You’re no longer allowed to be ‘a person’ you are now a ‘convict’ and convicts don’t have rights or opinions; you do what you’re told and if you don’t do it fast enough then you’re punished.”
The room was silent and all eyes were on him. Heyes felt an overwhelming sadness come over him as he was once again reminded of his true situation. But then, looking at the wide eyed audience sitting before him he decided it would be best not to dwell on his own personal feelings. He needed to focus on the situation as a whole and how it might relate to these youngsters who apparently thought that anything he had to say was important.
“So,” he continued with a big sigh. “my advice to you is to avoid prison at any cost. I’ve noticed some young fellas here who are just coming of age and I remember when I was fourteen, fifteen years old and how I felt about things.” Heyes’ eyes locked on to the older boys in the group. “I know you’re feeling restless, like you want to break out of here and go your own way.”
The older boys all nodded silently. They were feeling a little naked having this person whom they respected and admired for his audacity suddenly turn the tables on them—as though he could see into their very souls.
“But as I said in my letter; please don’t follow in my footsteps. For one thing, our situation was far different than yours is here. Jed and I were starving and Valparaiso had nothing for us. But even then I often wonder if we made the right choice to leave at that time. We had no skills and very little education to help us get legitimate work. The only choice we had in order to survive was to steal.
“I would hate to feel that any of you think that because that is the choice we made that it supports you doing the same thing. For one thing, Jed and I both regret the decisions we made although looking back, I don’t honestly know what else we could have done given the circumstances. But you young men—you have choices here.
“This is a good place. You’re well fed; you have people here who care about you. You’re getting an education. Believe me; nothing is more important than an education. You might be feeling restless, that you want to move on. But I’m standing here pleading with you to hang on until you have something to move on to. No one out there is going to care about you in the way that the Sisters here do. No one out there wants to see you succeed, because you’re all after the same jobs, the same opportunities—they’ll be knifing you in the back in order to get that job for themselves! All you are is someone standing in their way.
“The only way you can succeed out there now is with an education. Officer Reece here knows that,” and Heyes glanced back at a surprised Kenny. Heyes smiled and then turned back to his audience. “He works hard at a job that maybe he doesn’t always want to do because he wants to see his children get an education. I admire him for that. He knows the importance of that. Now Officer Reece and I, well we didn’t have the opportunity of the kind of schooling that you have right here. I guess the Civil War took that away from both of us. But he knows the importance of it and he works hard to send his children to collage.
“So, if I can instill anything in any of you today; it’s the importance of staying in school and learning as much as you possibly can. And if a trade is offered to you, then thank your lucky stars and grab it. If any of you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go to collage, again—grab it!
“You don’t want to end up like me and Kid. There is nothing romantic or honourable about what we did, we were simply thieves. We fell into that way of life out of desperation—just trying to stay alive, but we continued on in that way of life because it was easy money and good times. But good times earned that way don’t last and eventually you have to take responsibility and pay your dues. You don’t want to do what we did. You don’t want to end up in prison.”
The room was engulfed in silence again. Everyone was solemn and a little scared. Then another tiny arm was raised and a little voice came forth.
“Are the guards mean to you?” asked little Melanie. “Are they not very nice?”
“Ahhh,” Heyes glanced back at Kenny again and was met by a raised eyebrow. 'How are you going to answer this one, Buckwheat?' Heyes smiled. “Well, it depends,” he admitted. “Most of them are just doing their jobs and they treat us pretty fairly. Some of ‘em can be a little mean and I gotta watch my back around them.” Moans and groans from the audience. “But others, like Officer Reece here,” Heyes emphasized. “are very fair and only hit us when we deserve it.”
This statement was met with mixed reviews. Most of the children accepted this statement as fair treatment, but a few of the others creased their brows and sent Officer Reece some suspicious looks.
Heyes laughed. “No no,” he assured them. “Officer Reece is one of the ‘good guards’. No need for violence. You be nice to him and he’ll be nice to me.”
Then everyone smiled and Kenny was ‘accepted’ into the inner circle. Then a little bit of a lull in the conversation before another young boy raised his hand. Heyes acknowledged him.
“Yes, you have a question?”
“Yessir. My name is Todd.”
“Okay Todd, nice to meet you. What would you like to know?
“Yes sir. How come you got sent to prison and Kid Curry didn’t?” he asked. “Was he not as good an outlaw as you?”
Heyes grinned and then laughed out loud. Oh, Kid would love this!
“That’s always been my opinion!” he joked, but then he turned serious again and truly contemplated the question.
How was he supposed to answer that one? He considered just giving a simple pat answer and move on, but he remembered back to when he was this boy’s age and how much he hated it when adults were condescending towards him. It was a legitimate question; it deserved a legitimate answer.
“No, seriously; Jed Curry was and is my equal partner in all ways,” Heyes emphasized, and then he furrowed his brow and with pursed lips contemplated the best way to explain the politics of what had happened.
The children all waited with baited breath for Heyes’ answer, and Kenny had to admit that he was curious as well to hear what Heyes would have to say on that. Finally Heyes took a deep breath and began to put his thoughts and feelings into words.
“As I said before; the Kid and I had come to realize that what we were doing was wrong,” Heyes explained. “So we went to our friend, Sheriff Trevors and asked him if he would broker an amnesty for us with the Governor of Wyoming.”
“What does that mean?” came the question from the group.
“Ahhh, that means to arrange or to set up an agreement with the law that if we stopped robbing trains and banks that they would stop chasing us and shooting at us and we could just become ordinary law-biding citizens. Sounds kinda’ arrogant now that I think of it. Anyway, the governor wasn’t willing to just hand us over a pardon after all the things that we’d done, he wanted us to show that we were serious about it and to prove to him that we could stay outa trouble for a certain amount of time.
“Anyway, time went on and governor’s changed and none of them wanted to risk their political careers by granting us pardons, so it just never happened. Then one day, the inevitable came about and we were arrested and brought to trial. Now a good friend of ours told us that if we allowed ourselves to remain in custody and actually go to trial then he would stand by us and help in any way that he could. So that’s what we decided to do.”
Heyes stopped again and took a deep breath. He could feel a lot of the anger and resentment over his situation threaten to rise up and come forth again. He kept a lid on it though and was able to continue on with the narrative without his emotions tainting the words.
“Lots of people got involved then,” he explained. “Many were insisting that the Governor’s Office should honour it’s agreement and grant us the amnesty. After all we had held up our end of the deal and had shown that we could stay law-abiding so many people felt that we had earned it. But then on the other hand all the large corporations were pretty mad at us. They were putting pressure on the Governor’s Office to ignore the amnesty agreement and send us to prison.
“So, Governor Warren decided that to try and keep everyone happy he would play the middle ground. To keep the powerful and wealthy corporations satisfied he would send one of us to prison, and to keep the common folk, but tax payers—and voters—happy, he would grant the other the amnesty.
“So, it was just through a twist of fate, really that I ended up going to trial first and thereby being the one who was sent to prison and Jed Curry ended up receiving the amnesty.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: A Special Day Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:42 pm|| |
A heavy silence enveloped the classroom. Kenny wondered fleetingly if he was going to have a small riot on his hands. Fortunately the protests, when they came, were all of the verbal variety.
“That’s not fair!”
“How could he do that?”
“You both should have got it!”
“Yeah! We should let the governor know that he should do something about that!”
“We should all go to Cheyenne and let him know!”
“Yeah, we can all go!”
“Whoa!” Heyes held up his hands in mild pretest. “Hang on! I don’t think the Sisters would be too happy with you all heading off to Cheyenne!”
“No indeed,” Sister Cornelia piped in. “Perhaps you could write letters instead. How would that be?”
Heyes smiled. “There ya’ go,” he agreed. “I’m sure the governor would love to get a sack full of letters from the orphaned children in Laramie!”
This suggestion was met with a loud chorus of approval and instantly all the children were on their feet and chattering amongst themselves about the best way to tackle this new assignment. Heyes was thoroughly enjoying himself as he sat on the desk, watching the loud and animated conversation swirling on around him. Kenny just sighed and shook his head. He should have known that Heyes would find a way to get them riled up about something.
Then Sister Cornelia, who was not as accustomed to prison discipline as Sister Julia was, took up the yard stick in an attempt to bring the children back to order.
“Children! Children! Quiet down!” she insisted while at the same time bringing the stick down in three hard successive raps against the desk right next to where Heyes was sitting.
The inmate’s reaction was instantaneous! He was on his feet in a flash bringing his arm up to protect that side of his head from an expected blow and nearly loosing his balance in his attempt to avoid the assault. Kenny was also quick to his feet and over to the inmate’s side, grabbing his other arm to steady him and stop him from over-reacting.
“Easy Heyes!” Reece told him. “You’re alright. It was nothing.”
Heyes looked around at him, obviously shaken. “What?”
“You’re alright Heyes,” Kenny repeated. “Just relax.”
“Oh. Yeah,” Heyes did then relax a bit, but he could still feel himself shaking. Then he smiled, a little embarrassed by his reaction. “I’m sorry Sister—you just startled me.”
“Yes, I can see that,” Sister Cornelia observed, looking concerned. “I do apologize, I didn’t realize….”
The door to the classroom opened and Pearson stuck his head in.
“Everything alright in here?” he asked.
“Yes, Mr. Pearson,” Kenny assured him. “Everything is fine. We won’t be much longer.”
“Yes sir,” and he disappeared behind the closed door again.
Sister Julia came around and put a conciliatory hand on her companion’s arm.
“It’s alright, Sister Cornelia,” she said. “No harm done. Children—back to your seats now please.”
The whole group of children were standing with their mouths open and staring at the adults at the head of the classroom. Nobody moved. Then all of a sudden little Sally came running up to the front of the room and put her arms around Heyes’ waist—or at least as close as she could reach. Oh dear! This was totally unexpected. Now what was he suppose to do?
She looked up at him with her big brown eyes all serious and concerned, and he looked down at her, feeling Kenny’s grip on his arm tighten just a bit.
“Don’t worry Mr. Heyes, we’ll get you out,” she said, very intently. “We’ll all write to the governor and tell him that he has to let you go!”
Heyes grinned and then he knelt down to be on eye level with her. Kenny wasn’t going to let him do it at first, but then he released his grip and Heyes went down to her and stroked her auburn hair.
“Thank you darlin’,” he said to her. “I know you’ll do your best.”
She smiled at him and then quick as a wink she threw her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then she turned and ran back to her chair, looking very pleased with herself at having accomplished her mission. Heyes felt his throat tighten just a bit, but he swallowed it down and straightening up again he smiled over at Sister Julia.
“Oh Joshua, thank you for coming,” she said to him and quickly came in and gave him a hug before Kenny could say anything about it. “I hope you’ll come back.”
“I will if it’s permitted,” Heyes promised.
Then they both turned and looked at Kenny. The guard shrugged defensively.
“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s up to the warden. But thank you Sisters. I think we should probably be heading back now.”
This set off a chorus of disclaimers from the assembly.
“Aw no! Do you have to?”
“Can’t you stay just a while longer?”
“You can’t go yet!”
“Settle down children!” Sister Cornelia insisted and was just about to tap the desk with the yard stick again when she thought better of it and just raised her hand instead. “Settle down please. I’m sure Mr. Heyes will come back again.”
Good manners did prevail although there was a certain amount of grumbling to be heard from various undisclosed locations around the room. Heyes smiled at the group.
“Thank you for inviting me to come visit with you,” he said to them. “And I will come back again if I’m able.” Then he flashed his dimples as a thought struck him. “Perhaps next time Kid Curry and come as well!”
This suggestion was met with a loud chorus of approval. They were all up and talking at once again much to the dismay of the two Sisters who were trying to keep order in the classroom.
“Oh! Kid Curry! That would be great!”
“You mean we could talk to both of you!?”
“Wow! Maybe he’ll show us his fast draw!”
“Can we ask him to come? Where is he?”
“Well I’m sure friendly Officer Reece here would be more than happy to ask the Kid if he’d like to join us.”
Heyes sent a smile back over to Kenny as the flood of youthful enthusiasm changed course and washed over that official in total expectation of an answer right then and there. The look Kenny flashed at Heyes said it all; ‘You bastard…..’! But fortunately Kenny and Heyes were both saved from further high energy inquiries when the Sisters finally took back control.
“Children, children! Calm down, please!!” Sister Julia insisted. “I’m sure Officer Reece will do what he can to arrange that, but in the mean time why don’t you display your good manners and thank these gentlemen for their time and bid them a good day.”
The group became complacent again and everyone settled into their seats one more time.
“Thank you Mr. Heyes,” came the all in one recital. “Thank you Officer Reece.”
Heyes was grinning; this was fun. “Goodbye young ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I hope to see you all again soon.” Then he turned to the two ladies. “Sisters. Thank you.”
Kenny nodded his farewell and then with just the slightest of pressures on Heyes’ arm, he led the inmate back over to the door and then out into the hallway. Pearson stood up to meet them, quickly putting down and hopefully hiding his cup of tea.
“Everything go okay?” he asked. “It was sounding kinda wild in there at times.”
Kenny rolled his eyes. “I suppose it went okay. But you pushed it a couple of times in there Heyes. Now what the hell am I suppose to say to Jed next time he comes calling?”
“I believe that was a direct question, Convict!”
“OH!” Heyes was taken by surprise. “Ahhh, don’t worry about. I’ll mention it to him. I’m sure he’ll be real pleased to help out.”
“Uh huh,” was Kenny’s skeptical response. “Then I’ll have two of ya’ to worry about. Great!”
Just then Sister Julia joined them again in order to escort them back to the main foyer and to return Heyes’ tunic and toque which he had inadvertently left on the desk
“Gentlemen, again thank you so much,” she emphasized. “You have no idea how much this means to them. They’ll be talking about this for weeks. And you can be sure that the governor is going to be getting a stack of letters on his desk soon!”
“You’re welcome Sister,” Kenny said. “I’m glad it worked out.”
“Sister,” Heyes inquired. “will I be seeing you at the infirmary again next week?”
“I expect so Joshua, yes,” she assured him. “The weather is getting better now so I’m not having as much difficulty getting over there.” Then she smiled. “Hopefully Thaddeus will be coming to visit you again soon.”
“I certainly hope so,” Heyes commented while Kenny busied himself strapping the belt around the inmate’s waist again. “I know everyone has had a tough winter, but I do miss our visits.”
“Alright Heyes,” Kenny got his attention. “give me your hands.”
Then the cuffs were snapped back into place and the small group headed towards the front entrance. As is so often the case, what had begun as something Heyes had decided he wasn’t going to enjoy, ended up being a highlight of his time at the Territorial prison. He would always remember that first visit to the orphanage with pleasure and a sense of accomplishment; if he could stop just one young person from making the same mistakes he had then the visit had been more than just a ‘fun’ day out!
The ride back to the prison was quiet on the most part. Heyes didn’t even turn to watch the goings on of the town as they passed through it again—his mind was on other things. His talk with the orphans had definitely reasserted old emotions and past regrets and he couldn’t help but be contemplative of them during the chilly journey back ‘home’.
Kenny sat across from the inmate and watched him, knowing that Heyes was too deep into his own thoughts to even be aware of the scrutiny. Some of Heyes’ answers and comments had surprised the guard and in a way, pleased him. Somehow Heyes had locked into Kenny’s personal life and motivations and had been able to rise above his own situation to appreciate why Kenny Reece was doing what he did.
Again, Kenny had to marvel at the intelligence of the man—the intuitiveness. That he was able, even under these most dire of circumstances to look beyond the surface and see the true motivation. Then, probably due to the hardships of his own childhood he could see the sacrifices being made for the benefit of family and the worthiness of those sacrifices.
It was almost as though Heyes had a better understanding of Kenny then Kenny had of Heyes, and it made the guard realize that he needed to be paying more attention to the inmate. It almost made Kenny angry; not at Heyes, but at Carson and now Thompson. They were two men who had a certain amount of intelligence, but who seemed to be utterly missing the whole picture.
Carson was not an idiot, but he always had that need to squash any indication of intelligence or charisma in an inmate. He had to dominate, degrade and ultimately destroy the stronger personality and unfortunately the prison system was a conveniently legal outlet for that obsession. Now, there was Thompson. A much younger and weaker version of Carson, but moving quickly along the same track—naturally the two of them would be drawn together.
Kenny sighed to himself, feeling frustrated at his attempts to counter the negative effects of the abusive treatment handed out by his superior. Heyes had actually realized something that Kenny was only now becoming aware of himself. That Kenny was becoming disappointed in his job. He had enjoyed it at first—felt that he was doing something worthwhile; that he could be there to offer some support to the inmates, and life wasn’t all bully clubs and harsh orders. That once they found their footing they could make a place for themselves at the prison, learn something worthwhile and then move on.
But lately Kenny felt like he was fighting a losing battle. Carson was getting worse in his abusive manner and Warden Mitchell didn’t seem to care or think that there was anything wrong with that. As long as the prison ran smoothly that’s all that mattered. Indeed, as Heyes had surmised; Kenny was sticking it out at a job that was no longer satisfying because he had a family to care for. He had three sons who were growing fast and who would be looking for an education. Indeed, his eldest, Joseph was already back east and in collage, with the other two expecting the same opportunities.
Kenny already worried about how he was going to afford it all. Even his youngest, little Evelyn was making noises about furthering her own education. Use to be a girl was a safe bet to simply get married and provide grandchildren, but things were changing. Slowly but surely, more girls were wanting more from life than that and Eve was definitely one of them.
Kenny sighed again, not knowing where the money for all this was going to come from. Then he came back from his own musings to find that the tables had been turned and the inmate was scrutinizing him. Heyes instantly dropped his gaze and then looked out the back window just to give himself something else to focus on. Kenny smiled.
“You did good today Heyes,” Reece assured him.
Heyes just nodded.
“Do you want to go back again?”
“Yessir, Mr. Reece,” Heyes admitted. “If it can be arranged.”
Kenny nodded, surprised at the twinge of disappointed he felt. In the classroom Heyes had relaxed a little bit and had even been teasing the guard, just a touch—but having fun with it. Now he was back to the old protocol and it was painfully obvious how he was subjugating his own personality in order to avoid punishment. Kenny might be one of the ‘good guards’ but he was still a guard, and rules had to be followed.
“I’ll let the warden know that it went well.” Kenny conceded. “and perhaps we can set up another visit.”
Heyes smiled and then met the guard’s eyes for the briefest of an instant and dropped his gaze again. The rest of the trip back to the prison was passed in silence.
Jed Curry rode down the lane towards the ranch house on his way back from town where he had been visiting with David and his new family. He smiled as Karma came up and trotted heavily along the fence line, happy to see her friend returning to keep her company. The two equine buddies nickered at each other, but time for visiting would have to come later.
Jed kept ole’ Buck trotting forward and entered the yard to see Belle over by her vegetable garden, cleaning up the weeds to get it ready for spring planting. Jay was all bundled up in warm clothing and was sitting in the dirt and playing with some sticks and stones. Only he knew what the full intent of his game was and he seemed pretty focused on it. That was, of course until he spied his ‘Unc’a Tad’us’ come riding into the yard. Then, with a wild screech of delight, the toddler maneuvered himself to his feet and came at a fast waddle towards his friend.
Belle looked up from her weed pulling to watch the exchange between her son and his favorite uncle and couldn’t help but smile at the relationship that had developed between the two of them.
“Hey there little man!” Jed greeted him as Jay came up to his horse and Jed pulled Buck to a halt so as not to step on the little fella.
At this point, Jay promptly wrapped his arms around Buck’s near foreleg and looked up with eyes filled with admiration for the man on the horse. Buck tensed and started to blow a little at this object that had attached itself to his leg. He’d had to deal with miniature humans before, and though he was usually very patient with them, they still tended to cause him some distress as he never quite knew what they were going to do.
He stood stock still, but swung his head around and down in order to nuzzle in amongst the blond hair of the little creature and maybe get an idea of what it was up to.
Jed laughed and gave the big gelding a reassuring pat on the neck. Then he reached down and grabbing Jay by the suspenders on his pants pulled him up amongst shrieks of laughter to sit on his lap at the front of the saddle. Buck continued to stand still, but his head was up and his ears back, not so sure that he wanted this noisy little thing sitting on him.
“Gid up!” Jay ordered and started to swing his legs in an imitation of kicking a horse.
“Hey! Don’t you talk to Buck like that,” Jed admonished him teasingly. “Buck’s a good ole’ boy—show him some respect.”
“Gid up!” Jay ordered again and laughed.
Jed smiled and leaning forward just a touch, he pressed his lower leg against Buck’s side and the patient horse moved out at a walk. Jay sat there, all smiles and holding onto the saddle horn.
“Ya’ wanna go faster?”
“Okay, but Buck can go pretty fast ya’ know,” Jed cautioned him. “He used to be able to keep up with trains and outrun posses, so you better hang on!”
Then Jed touched the gelding with his heel and soon they were into a trot and moving around the yard to the accompaniment of laughter and demands to go faster. Buck tucked his head and shook it, not so sure he was appreciating his second passenger, but still trying to make the best of the situation. Karma watched placidity from her pasture; her only concern being when was her friend going to be turned out to keep her company. Or better yet; when was she going to be brought in for supper?
After about ten minutes of this new entertainment, Belle got up from her gardening and began brushing the dirt off her clothes and hands.
“Come on Jay,” she called out. “Time for you to get cleaned up for supper!”
Jed smiled as he brought Buck back down to a walk and then turned him towards the mother.
“You best listen to your Ma,” Jed told the youngster. “Besides, Buck has already had a busy day and he’s getting tired.”
Jed pulled up in front of Belle and hoisting Jay out of the saddle, he swung him over and handed him down to his mother’s waiting arms. Belle took him and settled him onto the ground, but held onto him long enough for him to get his balance and then straightened up with a groan.
“Oh my, he’s getting heavy!” she complained. “I’m getting too old for this.”
Jed smiled as he dismounted.
“I thought children were supposed to keep ya’ young,” he commented.
“Ha!” Belle laughed and waved an admonishing finger at him. “Just you wait—your time is coming!”
“Are you going to visit Joshua soon?” she asked him, all teasing aside.
“Yup,” Jed answered. “I thought I’d head over there this weekend if that’s alright with Jesse.”
“Oh I’m sure it will be,” Belle assured him. “He knows you’ve been itching to see him and make sure he’s okay.”
“Yup,” Jed repeated. “I want to see what Kenny has to say about our plans as well, and just how far he will be willing to go along with them. A lot of this is going to hinge on the support from both him and Dr. Morin.”
“Yes, I know,” Belle agreed. “I just hope we won’t need to push it that far. It would be so nice to have Joshua here for Bridget’s wedding.”
“Yeah. Well, we’ll see.” Jed didn’t sound too optimistic.
Belle smiled and put a hand on his arm.
“I know,” she said. “Well, help Sam get the horses settled in for the evening and then come on in for supper. Beth should have it ready here pretty soon.”
The weekend was upon them and though the temperatures were still chilly, and patches of snow still covered the ground, it was gradually melting away. The roads and rail lines were all clear and the risk of blizzards had certainly become very low to totally unlikely. Heyes was anticipating a visit from his cousin. For one thing he couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he discovered that he had been volunteered to put in a visit at the orphanage! But when Jed hadn’t shown up as expected, the anticipation turned to disappointment and then to some degree; a touch of worry.
It was odd he thought; that there had been no sign of him, since the last letter he had written had suggested an impatience on his own part to get out for a visit. Oh well, something may have come up, Heyes consoled himself, and he hadn’t been able to get away from the ranch. He hoped everything was alright and then tried to settle in to read his afternoon away.
Then on Monday, after supper when Heyes returned to his cell with his customary cup of coffee, he spotted a telegram lying on his cot. What was this about? Picking it up he read the short message;
' KR. Tell HH next week. JC.'
Oh, okay. Obviously there had been a delay of some sort and that Kid would be coming out to see him the following weekend. Well that was fine, and he was appreciative of the fact that his friend had thought to let him know. Now all he had to do was get through yet another mundane week without getting into any trouble.
The following Saturday, Jed Curry walked into the foyer of the prison and headed over to the reception counter to check in and go through the usual body search. He was looking strained—not at all like a man who was anticipating a happy re-union with his partner and it was obvious that something was on his mind.
He handed his holster and coat over to the guard and tried to smile politely when asked the usual questions. You’d think by now they would know who he was and who he was coming to see. This was all beyond getting old.
“Alright Mr. Curry,” the guard announced once the search had been completed. “if you would just take a seat for a few minutes. Officer Reece wants to talk to you before you go in for your visit.”
“Hmmm, yeah okay,” came the Kid’s non-committal response. Indeed, the fact that Kenny wanted to speak with him was hardly a surprise. Probably wanted to know what his intentions were.
Jed went over to the alcove and sat down to wait. About fifteen minutes later Kenny put in an appearance and joining the ex-outlaw, sat down opposite him. The two men contemplated each other for a moment. Finally Kenny sighed and asked the inevitable question.
“So—are you planning on telling him?”
“Yeah. I think I should,” Jed responded.
Kenny looked disappointed. “You sure?” he asked, even though he knew that Jed was probably right. “It’s just that he has been doing so well all winter and news like this could be all it takes to send him spiraling down again.”
Jed nodded sadly, looking down at his hands for a moment.
“Yeah, I know,” he conceded. “But he’s gonna find out about it sooner or later, you know that. I think it best if he hears it from me first.”
“Yeah, true enough,” Kenny agreed, but he didn’t look any happier about it than Jed did.
“I’m surprised that Officer Carson hasn’t already told him,” Jed commented. “This is exactly the kind of news I expect he would love to throw in Heyes’ face.”
“Hmmm,” came Kenny’s response. “I think the warden has told Mr. Carson to lay off of Heyes for awhile. Too many outsiders paying too close attention to what goes on here.”
“Oh,” Curry nodded. “Well, at least that’s one good thing. For now anyways; I hope it doesn’t blow up in our faces later.”
“Time will tell,” said Kenny. Then he took a deep breath and the two men stood up. “I’ll keep an eye on him over the next few days, try and stop him from doing anything stupid.”
Jed smiled and nodded. “Yeah, okay Kenny, thank you.”
“Alright. In the mean time we need to discuss that ‘other thing’,” Kenny pointed out. “You’re going to be in town tonight aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I’ll be at the hotel and catch the train in the morning.”
“Well why don’t you come over for supper tonight?” Kenny invited him. “I have to admit the kids would love to meet you and it would also give us a chance to talk with more privacy.”
“Oh,” Jed was taken by surprise. “Well, if it’s alright with your wife…”
“I already asked her,” Kenny admitted and then smiled. “Apparently she would like to meet you too.”
“Okay,” Jed accepted with a nod. “that’d be nice.”
“Good,” Kenny said. “Around 7:00 would be fine. You can ask Officer Dale over there for the directions when you’re done here. I have a feeling we’re going to have a lot to talk about.”
The two men parted company and Kenny went to carry on with his duties. Officer Dale motioned to the Kid that Heyes was ready to see him now so Jed headed over to the door to the visiting room. He stopped there for a moment, his hand on the knob, feeling like he just didn’t want to do this, but knowing that he had to. Then he took a deep breath, opened the door and went in.
Heyes was sitting at his usual place on the other side of the table, and a huge grin spread across his face when he saw his cousin step into the room. But by the time Jed had sat down himself, Heyes’ smile was gone and a look of concern crept across his features.
“Kid?” he asked, suddenly very worried. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Heyes, I…..” but then Jed’s throat tightened up on him and he had to clench his jaw to keep the emotion from rising up and taking control. He looked away from his cousin’s worried eyes, suddenly unable to meet them.
“Aww Kid, now you’re scarin’ me!” Heyes admitted a slight tremor in his voice. “Just spit it out—just tell me, will ya’?”
Jed took a deep breath and told himself; yeah, just spit it out—just say it! He forced himself to raise his eyes and look directly over at his cousin. He swallowed and then just spit it out.
“Heyes, I’m sorry. Devil’s Hole is gone.”
To Be Continued.
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: A Special Day Chapter twenty-three Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:06 am|| |
Wow, you really know how to hook us don't you? I was enjoying the lovely day with the orphans and then you hit us with that? Off to read the next part now.
|Subject: Re: A Special Day Chapter twenty-three || |
A Special Day Chapter twenty-three