Hopeless Chapter twenty-nine
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Hopeless Chapter twenty-nine Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:15 pm|| |
“You named him what?”
“Yeah. Short for Governor.”
“I know what it's short for Kid, I just don't get why you named him that.”
“I donno,” Curry shrugged. “I guess I was just thinkin' that if I named him that, then it might bring us some luck where the governor's are concerned. Maybe we'll get one in office that will actually be on our side.”
“Hmm maybe,” Heyes was very non-committal. “Don't count on it.”
“What do ya' mean 'don't count on it'? We gotta do something Heyes—this isn't over yet.”
“NO! Of course it isn't! What kinda talk is that?!”
The two partners sat and stared at each other for a moment.
“You're not giving up on us, are ya' Heyes?”
“Well....I know you're trying Kid. I know all of you are but where else can we go? The hearing was our last real chance and well, I guess it did help some, but....and I appreciate what all of you went through to get there. I know some of you put an awful lot on the line in order to be there and I really do appreciate that, but....I just don't see where else we can go.”
“Yeah, I know. But like Steven says; there is a presidential election coming early in the new year. A new president could mean a new governor for Wyoming, so just....”
Kid sighed. “What else is there?”
“Heyes that's not what I meant. Ya' gotta hold on to something and for right now, that's it. It's something, right? The hearing did lighten your sentence and there's going to be an investigation into the accusations of abuse so Mitchell will be held accountable. It's not all bad Heyes.”
“Hmm. Probably just make him mad,” Heyes gave a big sigh and decided to change the subject. “Besides, shouldn't you be getting on with your life Kid? You've got a real special lady out there just waiting to have your babies, don't you think it's time you made her a happy woman?”
Kid gave him an exasperated look. Prison life seemed to have robbed his cousin of the ability to be tactful.
“I already told ya' Heyes, if and when we do get married, it's gonna be with you there as my best man.”
“Aww Kid, c'mon! Bridget said the same thing! She wanted to wait until I was released so that I could be at their wedding. It's all very nice and I do appreciate the sentiment, but it's not very practical. Fortunately she listened to me and went ahead with their wedding and now they're both pleased as punch and staying true to the cause as well. No reason why you and Beth can't do the same.
“Get married Kid. Don't wait for me. I won't be insulted. I want you to get married, start a family, get on with your life. I know you'll still be there for me, I know you're not gonna give up even if I do. You're just too damn stubborn! But in the mean time, I just feel like I'm getting in your way—that I'm preventing you from moving forward. That's not right—that's not right at all.”
Throughout this lecture, Kid's jawline was getting tighter and tighter and the aforementioned stubborn streak was taking a firm hold.
“NO! I already told ya' Heyes! Beth and I discussed this and we are waiting until you get released—and that's the final word on that. Don't even bother bringing it up again!”
Heyes sat back, looking a little hurt.
“Jeez, you've gotten awfully masterful since you've had a chance to become your own man. Don't need a partner around anymore do ya'? Don't need your older cousin hanging around, watching your back.”
“GODDAMMIT HEYES! Jeez you piss me off sometimes! What the hell kinda talk is that!? You sound like you've just given up, like you're not even gonna try anymore!”
Then it was Kid's turn to sit back. He ran both his hands through his curls, which spoke of serious stress issues but then he took a deep breath and started to calm down. He glanced again at his cousin and Heyes was just sitting there, his eyes fixed on his own shackled hands and he was looking dejected, depressed—hopeless. Instantly Kid felt bad about having yelled at him and tried to back step a little bit.
“I know...you've had a hard time lately Heyes, what with Devil's Hole and then Lobo getting killed and...what happened after that.”
“I can't even imagine what that must have been like.”
“Ya' still going to services?”
“Had much of a chance to talk with Sister Julia?”
“Well, ya' haven't written to David in quite a while. I know ya' like him and he's been asking after you. Why don't ya' drop him a line?”
“C'mon Heyes! Don't do this to me. How the hell am I supposed to turn around and head for home knowing that I'm leaving you in this kind of mood? C'mon!”
Heyes took a deep breath and then smiled up at his cousin.
“Yeah Kid, you're right. I'm sorry. How's Karma doing?”
Kid smiled back at him. “Good Heyes. She sure is getting heavy again. Another month or so and we'll know if we're right. Colt or filly!”
“Yeah. Well that's worth hanging around for isn't it.”
“Yeah it is. And Daisy sure is growing! She's a typical yearling now—all legs and attitude!”
“Owww, Karma would not appreciate you calling her daughter 'typical'.”
“Yeah well. Sam's been working with her with a halter, you know teaching her ground manners and all that stuff. Boy! She sure gives him a hard time about it!” Jed laughed. “Then Beth comes along and that filly just follows her around like a dog—drives Sam nuts! Ohhh! That reminds me...”
Heyes perked up, his eyebrows asking the question.
“We got us a new hound dog out at the ranch now,” Jed laughed again as he remembered the antics of the new canine. “She's about four months old and all big paws and craziness. It's all the two little dogs can do just to stay out from underneath her! I can't count how many times she's tripped over them in her exuberance and then come crashing down in a heap of puppy wiggles and indignant yapping. Just wait until ya' meet her Heyes—what a hoot!”
Heyes grinned, a sparkle coming back to his eye. “Yeah, sounds like a circus.”
“Yeah. And Jay's getting big now too. He's talking real good and even rides Buck all by himself. He's getting to be quite the little man.”
“Hmm. Buck doesn't mind that?”
Kid shook his head. “Naw. I think he kinda likes the attention. And it's not like he's having to work hard. It's just around in the barnyard now mostly. Maybe later this summer we'll take Jay up to the north pasture to see the calves. He oughta enjoy that. And it shouldn't be too hard on Buck either.”
“Sounds good Kid.”
“Okay fellas, sorry.” Pearson broke in on their conversation. “Time to wrap it up. It's actually a bit over time, so....”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks. Take it easy Heyes, alright? I'll see ya' next month.”
“Sure thing Kid. Say 'hello' to everyone back home.”
“Yeah I will. And write to David, I know he'd like to hear from you.”
Heyes grinned. “Yeah, I will. Good idea.”
The cousins parted company yet again and Pearson led Heyes through the inner door and back to the 'pat down' room in order to remove the wrist and ankle cuffs that were still the normal attire for receiving company.
Pearson noticed instantly the change in Heyes' demeanour as soon as the door to the visitor's room closed behind them. The smile left Heyes' face and the sparkle died in his eyes. He stood placidly, totally subdued and stared at a spot on the floor. He moved when Pearson asked him to move, stood still when Pearson asked him to stand and began walking forward when Pearson indicated that it was time for them to leave.
The guard could have left Heyes as soon as they returned to the prison proper, but he didn't. He didn't like the look in Heyes' eye, not one little bit and he wanted to be sure that the inmate got to wherever he was going without incident. Heyes ignored him and even though it was a pleasant spring day outside, the inmate simply returned to his cell, lay down on his cot and commenced to stare at the ceiling.
Pearson stood outside the cell door for a few moments, watching the convict and did not get any response or even acknowledgement from the man lying on the cot. Then Pearson sighed and pushing himself away from the cell turned and went in search of Mr. Reece.
Warden Mitchell sat at his desk and re-read the letter that he had received from Governor Moonlight. He was not a happy man.
Well this is a fine pickle you've gotten us into—and just in time for the elections too! I know I said that you could have free reign when it came to handling your prisoners and your prison, but strappado George?! I thought you had more common sense than that! What's wrong with a good old fashion lashing? Worked wonders during the war and can't see any reason why it shouldn't work now.
I've even got that blow-hard of a Texas rancher on my case—still!! I'm almost tempted to send you a copy of the letter he wrote to me about this most recent incident. It's pages long, God Dammit!! He's even threatening to bring the Texas governor in on this case and really start being a thorn in my side! What is it with Texan's—they think they run the whole bloody country!!
Now my hands are tied, with that dang-blasted hearing and all those self-righteous 'officials' looking at me and wagging their heads! I have no choice but to bow to their decree and send in a committee to take a look at how you are running things over there!
Just show them around George—no need to go into details. They'll just take a look, talk to a couple of guards and maybe an inmate or two, just make sure they don't talk to that Heyes bastard! It's him and his cohorts who are responsible for this you know! Never would have thought that an outlaw could have so much power from inside a prison Goddammit!!
One of your more senior guards, Ken Reece was there at the hearing as well, along with some written testimonials from your prison doctor so I'd be keeping an eye on those two if I were you! Might even be better if you found a way to get rid of them altogether. Going on about unwarranted abuses etc.! Damn, Mr. Reece even had the audacity to suggest that the whole Auburn Prison system needed to be examined and adjusted to fit 'modern' times! Seems to be working fine as far as I'm concerned!
Anyway, sorry for the inconvenience George but like I said, my hands are tied and there is an election coming up so I have to keep these people happy. Just watch your back and be careful—and back off of the hard core stuff just for now, okay? Once the committee gets their snoot full and leave then you can do whatever you want so long as it gets the job done and I don't hear about it!
Mitchell ground his teeth and scrunched the letter up into a seething ball. That backstabbing bastard! First he says you have free reign to run the prison anyway you deem fit and now after a little bit of pressure from the bleeding hearts, he's running to his corner to hide! Close to an election, my ass! What a hypocrite!
And that Reece and Morin! What a surprise that they'd be involved in all this! Mitchell was going to have to do something about those two, but what? It couldn't be too obvious, right after the hearing and all. It would look awfully suspicious if two of the main antagonists of the system suddenly got fired from their jobs. No, that wouldn't do at all. It would just make Mitchell look all that more guilty of wrong doing and he wasn't guilty of anything other than running a prison the way it needed to be run!
Those people on the outside had no idea what it was like trying to keep order in this place. Thank goodness for people like Carson and now Thompson too; they knew how to do things around here. You can't mess around with these convicts! They're hard, vicious people who only respected hard and vicious treatment. They'd run totally amok if people like Reece were running the show!
Oh well, what's done is done. He would just have to do what the Governor suggested and play the toadie to those officials when they arrived. It would be nice to have a heads up as to when they were coming—give him time to make sure that Heyes and Reece and Morin were out of the way. Mitchell cringed. All he'd need was for Heyes to get mouthing off—that particular convict is more trouble than he's worth!
Hmmmm...what to do....what to do. This conundrum was going to take some thinking.
Heyes was in the dark cell. He lived in the dark cell. He never got out of the dark cell. He was cold and it was damp. He hugged his knees to his chest, shivering against the darkness. Jenny was calling out to him but he tried to shut her out, knowing that it was just a dream, knowing that she was long in her grave and had no power over him, but she still came to haunt him when his resistance was at a low ebb—like now.
Then suddenly the darkness began to fade back to a steel gray and he wasn't in the dark cell anymore, he was in the concrete room full of ropes and hoists and pain. He felt a scream strangle his throat and he tried to back out of the room—he needed to get out! But then he backed in to someone and spinning around he came face to face with Carson and the guard was laughing at him.
“What's the matter Heyes? Don't ya' wanna play anymore?”
“NO! Please! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! Please don't hurt me! Please!”
Carson laughed and grabbed his arm. Heyes fought against him—tossing and turning and trying to pull away but Carson had him in a vice and Heyes couldn't get loose. Then Carson was standing over by the far wall, and continuing to laugh at him and Heyes pleaded for mercy but the guard wasn't listening—he didn't care.
And Heyes' wrists were tied with ropes and his arms were being pulled out to the side and he fought and pleaded and tried to get away, but the ropes tightened and continued to pull and he could feel the muscles tearing. He screamed just as much in terror as in pain as the ropes pulled him apart and he could feel his tendons being pulled away and stretched beyond endurance and finally snapping. His skin tore apart and he could feel the joints dislocating as his arms were ripped from his body.
He screamed and screamed and screamed.....
“HEYES! Wake up! Goddammit! You're gonna get the whole prison in an uproar! WAKE UP!”
Heyes jumped awake! It was dark, except for the low lantern light in the isle way—it was night time. Heyes lay on his cot, gasping for air, his blood pounding in his ears. It was a warm night, but he was bathed in a cold sweat and he was shivering, his teeth chattering with fear and the cold.
“Dammit Heyes,” he heard Davis complaining on the other side of his cell door. “if you're gonna go mad do it in silence will ya'?” And the lantern and the footsteps moved on.
Heyes lay gasping in the semi-darkness, fear still holding him in its grip. He grabbed his blanket, and wrapping it around him he pushed himself into the corner of the wall and hugged his knees. He continued to shiver for some time while the numbness in his extremities slowly began to dissipate. His breathing continued to be ragged as he rubbed his eyes and held his head, trying to calm himself down.
He was going mad, he could feel it—the loss of control. He didn't even know who he was anymore! Everything that he thought he was was being challenged—everything that he had always thought to be the truth was being questioned. He had nothing left to hold on to; nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for. He held his head in his hands and would have wept if he could have remembered how to.
He sat like that for a long time. Holding himself, protecting himself within a ball of his own making until he finally fell back to sleep, still pushed into the corner of his cell—his back to the wall.
Jed Curry trotted his young horse down the lane towards the Double J. It was a warm spring day and everything was coming up green and fresh—new life was everywhere. He smiled as he glanced into the pasture on the right side of the lane and looked over at the ever-increasing herd that inhabited it.
When he and Heyes had first come to the ranch it had been set aside just for Karma and Buck. Now those two still occupied the greenery, but Daisy and Spade, along with his dam, Molly and Monty and Spike were also part of the group, along with Gov when Kid wasn't in need of him.
Kid's grin increased as he looked over at the two brood mares, both looking large and uncomfortable with their current pregnancies. They were keeping one another company under one of the willow trees, standing beside each other nose to tail and each swishing flies away from the others face. It was a lazy scene for sure and Gov looked over at them, obviously longing to join in on the group grazing. Jed gave him a pat on the neck.
“Patience young man,” he spoke softly. “You'll soon be out there with them.”
They jogged on in to the yard, Gov dancing a little bit as the two dogs and one large puppy came bouncing and barking out to greet them. Jed manoeuvred his horse around the canines and headed him over to the first barn to get him untacked and then settled out in the pasture for the rest of the afternoon.
That done, he strolled over towards the house and then noticed Belle sitting on the porch steps playing with Jay until that youngster noticed his Uncle Thaddeus and came to greet him on the run.
“Hey there Mr. Jay!” Jed greeted him. “How are you day?”
“Good!” Jay insisted as he grabbed Jed's hand and began pulling him towards the porch as though that wasn't where his uncle was headed in the first place. “C'mon! We're playin' a game called x's and o's!”
“Really? Well that sounds interesting,” came the non committal response. Jed could see that Belle was a little melancholy and his focus was instantly on her rather than on the three year old boy trying to get his attention. “Belle, is something wrong?”
Belle looked up. “Oh, Thaddeus,” she greeted him with a smile. “I'm sorry, I didn't really notice you.”
“Uh huh,” Jed came and sat down beside her on the step. Jay sensed that things were moving towards an 'adult' talk and he settled in to play x's and o's on his own. “What's wrong?”
“Oh well,” Belle watched her son playing with a wistful expression on her face. “David was by earlier. It seems that Maribelle has lost her baby again.”
“Oh,” Jed mumbled.
A tear rolled down Belle's cheek and Jed put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug.
“This is silly,” she said as she impatiently brushed the tear away.
“No it's not,” Jed assured her. “You more than any of us know what that loss means, and what Sam and Maribelle are going through.”
“Yes, I suppose,” and she absently reached out and brushed a lock of white blond hair from her son's eyes. Jay giggled up at her and then went back to his serious play. “It just reminds me how precious our children are. And I thank God everyday for the ones that I have.”
Jed tightened his hug and the two friends sat in silence for a few moments. Jed felt a little out of place, comforting his friend about something that should have been more of a woman's issue. But he did feel badly for Sam and Maribelle. He knew how much they wanted a family and how hopeful they had been.
“They can try again, can't they?” Jed asked softly. “They're still young.”
“No,” Belle answered sadly. “Maribelle had a very hard time of it—worse than the last one. David nearly lost her. He doesn't think she'll be able to get pregnant again and probably for the best, I suppose, since she really shouldn't go through this a third time. Still, it's so sad. They wanted a family so badly.”
Then Jed got hit with an idea that came to him completely out of the blue. He tensed up as one often does when they know that they've been hit with an epiphany.
“What?” Belle asked.
“Well, I just had a thought.”
“Don't keep me in suspense, Thaddeus. What is it?”
“Well, I've been to the orphanage in Laramie a couple of times now,” Jed commented. “and, you know; there are a lot of kids there who would love to have parents of their own. Maybe it's not the right time to mention it to Sam, kinda early I suppose, but....maybe. Give them time to get over this and maybe they'd be open to it.”
“Adopting?” Belle asked, suddenly interested.
“Yeah. I mean, why not?” Jed questioned. “I mean, Sam and Maribelle really want a family and those kids really want parents of their own. Why not?”
Belle was brightening up as the possibility of it took hold of her. “That's a wonderful idea Thaddeus. What would they have to do to arrange it?”
“I donno,” Jed admitted. “The next time I'm out there I could ask Sister Julia about it. Maybe Sam and Maribelle could come with me later in the summer and meet with the Sisters and the kids and see if any of them would fit.”
Belle smiled and patted Jed's knee.
“Thank you Thaddeus,” she said. “you've offered them some hope here. I can't see any reason why they wouldn't want to do this. It's a wonderful idea.”
Wheat Carlson was fed up with trying to convince Harry Barton to be careful of any job that came their way that seemed too good to be true—because it probably was! Wheat had indeed gone up and wintered with the Cripple Creek boys. He had no intentions of staying there permanent since having been the leader of his own gang, trying to take orders again just wasn't setting well with him.
Besides that, he wasn't all that much of an idiot and he knew that Kid had been right. There was no place in Wyoming that was safe for him now, actually there was no place in Wyoming that was safe for any outlaw now that 'Marshal' Morrison was on the hunt. But then knowing that, he still made his way back into that territory after leaving the Double J ranch mainly because he had no where else to go.
He did it smart though; he stayed out of the larger towns and only went in to the smaller ones when he needed supplies, buying when he could and stealing when he had to. Fortunately he knew all the back trails that 'law-biding' folks had no clue about, the ones that only outlaws and old Indians had any idea that they were there and where they led to. So he made it.
Cripple Creek had been happy to take him in. Everyone had heard about what had happened with Devil's Hole and were sympathetic to the ex-leader's plight. On top of that George Carmon, the only other member of that ill-fated gang to get away had also run to Cripple Creek looking for a safe haven to call home. He had been very descriptive of the events that had decimated Devil's Hole in as far as he knew them and everyone had listened in awed silence.
Unfortunately they were all in denial as to their own situation. Why would lawmen like that bother coming after the Cripple Creek boys? They were just small time bandits after all and everyone knew that Devil's Hole had been the most successful outlaw band in the history of the territory—of course nobody added; especially when Heyes had been running things (too bad about Heyes, by the way.). Even outlaws know when to be discreet—well, most of 'em anyways.
Wheat spent all of that winter trying to tell those boys about what was gonna be waiting for them come spring and how they'd better be careful. He'd even sit with Harry Barton up in the leader's cabin over a bottle of old corn whiskey and try to convince him of the danger they were in. But it was to no avail. Nobody believed him, or maybe they just didn't want to believe him because if that was true then nobody was gonna be safe anywhere.
Wheat commented that this was exactly the point he had been trying to make. But the boys would just laugh, albeit nervously and go back to their poker game.
So, when spring finally did put in an appearance after an extremely long and hard winter, Wheat bundled up his meagre belongings and made preparations to depart. He had no intentions of going through another ambush like the last one and he was gonna head west—as far west as he could go, maybe even to the coast. Surely Morrison wouldn't follow him all the way to the west coast, I mean really!
The boys all laughed at him. They told him he was a fool for leaving a fine hideout like Cripple Creek, sure it wasn't quite as lucrative as Devil's Hole but it was a living and they did alright. They told him he was over reacting, jumping at shadows, seeing problems that weren't there. And what about Kyle? They'd all say. Wasn't Kyle his partner? Wasn't Wheat gonna wait for him? What kinda partner was Wheat that he could just run away and leave his buddy stranded? Where's the loyalty in that?
But Wheat would just smile and shake his head.
“Don't you go worryin' about Kyle,” he'd say. “We got our arrangements. You boys should be worryin' about yourselves.” And then added as he mounted up on his horse. “I'll be seein' you boys—if-en you don't hang around too long.”
They all laughed, humorously and saw him on his way, thinking what a fool he was for headin' out on a long trek like that when there was still snow on the ground. Wheat was never gonna be seein' any one of those boys again.
Two weeks later as Wheat was approaching the Wyoming/Idaho border he took the chance of stopping in a small spit in the dirt little town to replenish his supplies and try to get a hot meal and a warm bed for a change. He put his horse up in the livery and then checked himself into the hotel. The clerk gave him a bit of a look and suggested that perhaps the gentleman would like a bath sent up.
To that clerk's relief, Wheat agreed. He was hungry but he also knew the effects of two weeks on the trail would have on the olfactory senses of the other cafe patrons. He didn't want to be calling attention to himself, and that last little heist he'd pulled had netted him $50.00 so he was well heeled for the time being. Might as well take advantage.
He had to admit, that bath felt real good! He hadn't realized how stiff and sore his muscles had become or how cold his feet had been until he got the chance to soak them in some hot water for a time. Now he was feeling like a super star! He'd even spent .50 to have his cloths laundered and patched up and he was quite content to stay soaking in that tub until the clerk returned his attire to his room.
Yessir, by the time Wheat had soaked, shaved and re-donned his newly laundered clothing he was looking and feeling like a new man. He headed over to the cafe secure in the knowledge that no one was gonna be looking at him twice and he settled in to a small table in the corner and ordered the first square meal he'd had since leaving Cripple Creek.
Venison steak with all the fixin's,two portions of apple pie and all the strong coffee he could drink went down real well. He was just settling in to his final cup of coffee before heading over to the saloon for a real drink when he noticed an old newspaper setting on the table next to him.
Now, if he'd been paying attention to the series, he'd had realized that no good news comes from a newspaper and that simply picking one up to casually brows through always led to trouble. It didn't take long either. Right on the front page and in big bold letters that even Kyle couldn't have missed even though he couldn't read, was the headline that sent a shiver down Wheat's spine and caused him to seriously consider changing his plans.
MORRISON PUTS AN END TO CRIPPLE CREEK
ANOTHER OUTLAW GANG BITES THE DUST!
Wheat's jaw tightened as he settled in to read the story that by the date on the paper was already one week old. Sure enough those idiots had ignored Wheat's warnings to them and had jumped at the first hint of a nice fat payroll delivery coming through their territory by stagecoach. What a surprise that the coach had been minus a payroll, but full to the brim with lawmen and rifles! Not to mention the whole posse of badges that had come charging out from cover as soon as the shooting had started and had trapped the outlaws in the deadly cross-fire!
Wheat cursed under his breath while reading the grisly details, causing the two ladies over at another table to send him disapproving glances from over their tea cups. Wheat practically snarled at them, but then realized he'd better behave himself if he didn't want to call attention, and went back to reading the paper—quietly.
Just like with Devil's Hole, the assault on Cripple Creek had been two fold. The first attack hitting the outlaws in an ambush, using the hefty payroll as bait and then the second attack infiltrating the hold out itself and taking out the few gang members who had stayed behind to guard it. The majority of the outlaws had been killed outright. Three had been wounded and taken prisoner, but one was not expected to pull through while the other two would of course be joining Hannibal Heyes and Kyle Murtry at the Wyoming Territorial Prison.
Amongst the dead was the leader, Harry Barton and ex-Devil's Hole member, George Carmon, making Wheat Carlson the only outlaw to have come up against Tom Morrison—twice and had managed to escape capture and still be alive! Wheat continued to read further and the more he read, the less he liked it—especially when it started to become personal.....
“......when asked about Wheat Carlson, the Marshall had noticeable bristled and then assured this reporter that he wasn't done with Carlson yet.
“I have no intentions of allowing Carlson to escape justice,” the marshall stated. “He might like to think that I'm going to just let him go—that I have bigger fish to fry, but he is sadly mistaken in that assumption. Wheat Carlson was the leader of the Devil's Hole gang and I fully intend to bring him down. He can run but he can't hide, as the saying goes. He's running out of places to hide and sooner or later I'm gonna get him and that's a promise!”
Now it was time for Wheat Carlson to bristle. This was getting to be too much! Was he supposed to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder, waiting for the bullet in the back that Morrison was promising him? No man could live like that, and no outlaw worth his salt would put up with it!
Wheat snarled to himself and crunched up the paper in his hands. The two ladies over at the other table tisked and then quickly got up and made their way out the door. It would seem that no place was suitable for the more cultured citizens of this spot in the dirt called a town.
Wheat watched them leave without really seeing them—he had other things on his mind. Finally he got up, paid his bill and headed over to the saloon for a whiskey or two. He needed to think and there was no place better for that than elbow up to a bar with a shot glass for company and nobody to bother him. By the time he headed back to his hotel room for the night, come hell or high water, he knew what he had to do and knowing that, he slept well.
It was a warm and sunny day in late spring when Heyes and the Kid came to have anther visit with the orphan children. Heyes was doing his best to be upbeat and what with his natural profound ability to pull the wool over a person's eyes, he was able to fool just about everyone. He was not fooling the Kid however and nor was he fooling young Sally who seemed to already have a natural affinity towards the infamous convict.
Most of the chatter during this visit had revolved around the previous Christmas and how everyone had had to buckle in and accept the confinements that the bad weather had dictated. But they also got going about what gifts they had received and how they had all still managed to have a nice supper and did Mr. Heyes have a nice Christmas too?
Heyes had just smiled and made some non-committal comments and Kid rolled his eyes and wished that his cousin would pull himself out of this slump that he was in. Then the next topic of conversation did tweak Heyes' attention and brought up his interest level an honest notch or two.
One of the older boys, Michael took advantage of a lull in the conversation and spoke up with some news of his own.
“Me and Henry are going to be leaving here next month,” he informed the visitors. “so we probably won't be here the next time you come for a visit.”
“Oh?” Heyes sat up a bit straighter. “Have you been offered something?”
“Yeah,” Michael stated. “Mr. Jackson, who owns the Two Blazes ranch just north of town here, well he needs a couple of wranglers to help with the livestock and he figures that me and Henry will do just fine.”
“Yeah!” Henry piped up. “I know it'll be hard work, but I love being around the horses and we're gonna have a place to live and get paid to boot! It'll be great!”
Heyes and Kid exchanged knowing smiles. It'll be hard work alright.
“Well now that's real good,” Kid complimented them. “Get out there and be your own men—start building something for yourselves.”
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. “Nothing like ranch work to keep you outa trouble. Right Kid?”
Kid snorted back at him. “Yeah. You fellas will be kept busy that's for sure.”
“Have you ever done any ranch work?” Michael asked both or either of their guests.
“Ohhh yeah! Lot's of ranch work,” Heyes admitted. “There've been a few cattle drives in our pasts haven't there Kid.”
“Yup,” Kid nodded. “Good honest work though.”
“Why didn't you stay with it?” Henry asked.
“Cause we weren't good honest people,” Heyes sniped dryly.
Kid sent him a reprimanding look. Over by the door Kenny knitted his brow, taking note of Heyes' cynicism during an occasion which usually brighten the inmate's mood. Their audience sat quietly and stared back at them, not quite sure how they were supposed to take that comment. Was he joking or was he...?
“What's the matter Mr. Heyes?” little Sally asked from the second row. “You don't seem very happy today.”
Kid sent him a 'now see what you've done.' kind of look and Heyes did have enough where with all to actually feel a little guilty.
“No, you're right Sally—I'm not feeling very happy today,” Heyes admitted. He had made a promise to himself that he was never going to lie to these children and he sure wasn't about to start now. “I'm sorry. It's not your fault and I shouldn't be taking it out on you lot. I lost a friend just after Christmas and I suppose I'm not quite over it yet.”
“Oh,” Melanie responded. “That's too bad.”
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed with some true feeling. “It's not nice to lose a friend.”
Then Sally, being the intuitive soul that she was, once again ran up to the front of the room and took her friend's hand in both of hers and looked up at him with her big brown eyes.
“We're sorry that you feel bad Mr. Heyes,” she commiserated. “Can't we make you feel better?”
Heyes smiled down at her, no longer surprised or uncomfortable with this particular child's display of uninhibited affection. He didn't answer her for a moment, he just looked into her eyes and stroked her soft hair.
“No, I don't think you can sweetheart,” he finally told her. “But I appreciate you wanting to try.”
Then he put his hands under her arms and lifted her up to sit beside him on the front desk. Kenny was a little unsure about that move and came in a little closer but Sister Julia caught his eye and gave a subtle shake of her head. It would be alright; let's allow this to play out. Kenny relaxed a little but still kept a close watch.
As soon as Sally was settled in, she leaned into Heyes and hugged his arm but then her brow creased as she noticed his wrists. The act of hugging his arm had pulled the cuff of his tonic sleeve up just a little bit—but far enough that the angry and still red welts from the tight, blood-soaked leather bindings used to tie his hands together were exposed for all to see.
Heyes suddenly felt self-conscious and was about to pull his sleeve down again, but Sally was too fast for him. She reached down and softly caressed the old partially healed injury and then leaned into him again, hugging his arm even tighter. She couldn't possibly know how deep her friend's pain went nor the full reasons for it but she knew he was hurting and in her own childish and innocent way she did manage to help him feel a little bit better.
“How did you get those?” asked the older William; sometimes boys just had no simpatico.
“Ahhh, well....” Heyes found himself in a dilemma again; how to tell the truth without being vindictive? “I...got into a fight and accidentally hit a guard. That's a big no-no in prison and I got punished for it.”
“You hit a guard!?”
Even the children knew what an extreme breech of protocol that was, relating it to being right up there with striking one of the Sisters. The alarmed eyes in the room shifted over to Kenny and then back to Heyes again, the silent question hanging in the air. Jed was wisely staying out of this one.
“No no!” Heyes assured them. “It wasn't Officer Reece.”
There was a collective sigh of relief at that assurance. Officer Reece had become just as much a part of these gatherings as Heyes and the Kid had done. Nobody would have like the idea of there being strife within the group. Heyes grinned, and pulling his arm out of Sally's embrace he draped it around her shoulders and hugged her to him. Sally was quite content to stay right there.
Fifteen minutes later found the group out in the hallway with Pearson once again getting Heyes ready for the ride back to the prison. Jed decided that this was as good a time any any to discuss a very important matter with Sister Julia.
“Ah, Sister, what is the procedure if a couple wanted to adopt one of the orphans here?”
Both Heyes and the Sister raised their eyebrows.
“Were you and Beth planning on getting married sooner than was thought and then adopting, Thaddeus?” Sister Julia asked him, rather incredulously.
“Oh! No! It's not for myself....although....I'd never thought of that....that's not a bad idea,” Jed stored that away for future use; Heyes' eyebrows went up even further. “But no, I'm not asking for myself at this point.”
“Oh, alright,” the Sister smiled. “It's quite simple actually. The couple in question will have to come for an interview first to make sure that they would be suitable. And of course if they are financially able to support a child. Then we would go from there. I always try to get a feel for a couple who wish to adopt so that I can make suggestions as to which child would best fit into their family. I take it you know this couple Thaddeus?”
“Yes Sister,” Jed assured her. “I've known them for about three and a half years now. They've tried to start a family of their own, but unfortunately both attempts ended sadly and our doctor has recommended that they not try again.”
“Oh dear, that is sad,” Sister Julia commiserated. “But, I'm sure that if you recommend them then we should be able fix them up with one of our children. The only unfortunate thing about that is that we can't find homes for them all—but we do what we can.”
“I know Sister,” Jed assured her. “I'll see if I can bring them out with me to meet you. Maybe next month.”
“That would be fine,” Sister Julia agreed with a smile. “What are their names?”
“Sam and Maribelle Jefferies.”
Heyes snorted derisively. Three of the other four adults present sent him questioning looks, Jed's look however was not questioning, it was irritated.
“GOD DAMMIT HEYES! Will you just get over it!!”
“NO! I've had enough of this from you!” Kid was seething. “Why can't you just let it go!? Even Bridget can't understand why you're still holding a grudge! Sam did nothing more than what you and I have done on occasion! And he had good reason for doing it! Or is your ego so badly bruised by the fact that he pulled one over on us and you didn't see it coming that you are never going to be able to forgive him!?”
Heyes was hurt. He stepped back as though Kid had hit him and he stood staring at his now shackled hands and didn't say a word. This was the second time that Kid had stepped up to the plate and chewed him out for selfish behaviour and it made him feel more and more as though he were loosing his grip on reality—loosing touch with that part of himself that made him who he was.
Was he so far out of the scheme of things now, so stagnated in his own growth and development that his younger cousin had moved ahead of him to take over the leadership role? Had he been right in his earlier assumption that Jed Curry no longer needed his older cousin to watch his back? Well, why should he? Heyes surmised. How could Heyes watch his cousin's back while he was stuck in this place? Jed had learned how to do that for himself—he had to or he wouldn't have survived, he wouldn't have been able to move ahead.
The tables had been turned. Somewhere, somehow when Heyes hadn't been looking, Jed had surged ahead and taken over the leadership role. Heyes felt lost.
“C'mon Heyes, God dammit; don't look like that,” Jed said quietly, feeling guilty again for having raised his voice to his cousin who was obviously already going through a hard time. “I didn't mean....”
“No Kid, you're right,” Heyes assured him. “You're not the first person lately to tell me that I take things too personally and that I have to learn how to let go.” Then he smiled over at the senior guard. “Isn't that right Officer Reece?”
Kenny just smiled and nodded.
“I'm sorry Sister,” Heyes continued. “Sam and Maribelle would make fine parents. Any one of those youngsters would be lucky to become part of their family.”
“Thank you Joshua,” she said, placing a hand on his arm. “I'll certainly keep that in mind.”
“Well Mr. Pearson,” Kenny spoke up. “I think it's time we got headed back. Is the wagon ready to go?”
“Alright. Let's go. Sister Julia, again thank you for your hospitality. Jed, are we going to see you tonight for supper?”
“Yeah Kenny, I'll be there,” Kid assured him. “Obviously there's more to discuss here than I thought.”
Kenny nodded and then took Heyes by the arm. “Come on Heyes, let's go.”
“Heyes....” Jed tried to get his cousin's attention; to apologize again and to say 'goodbye'.
However Heyes did not look up, but placidly allowed himself to be led away down the hall and out the front door. Kid's shoulders slumped in disappointment.
“God dammit,” he mumbled and then groaned. “Oh, I'm sorry Sister. It seems I've been blaspheming all over the place here. I apologize.”
“That's alright Thaddeus,” she assured him. “I understand your distress. Come and sit with me for a few moments. I'll get one of the novices to bring us some tea. We need to have a talk.”
Jed nodded, but inwardly he groaned. He suddenly felt like that child at Valparasio again who was about to receive a lecture on bad manners and undesirable behaviour. But much to his surprise, fifteen minutes later found him seated comfortably in an armchair with a nice warm cup of tea with honey soothing his nerves and relaxing his stress.
“I know that Joshua is making things difficult for you these days,” the Sister began. Jed snorted softly. The Sister smiled. “but please try to be patient with him.”
“I am trying Sister,” Jed insisted. “but he's not giving me much to work with. It's like he's given up on everything and everybody. I don't know—even Dr. Slosson can't get him to respond. He's been in slumps before and we were always able to pull him out of them, but not this time. It's like he won't even meet us half way.”
“Yes I know,” the Sister sighed. “I truly thought that spending some time with the children would brighten his spirits—it always did in the past. But obviously not this time. What happened to him last winter...” She shook her head regretfully. “I don't know Thaddeus. He may not ever fully recover from that ordeal. And if we can't even get him to go to services....”
“Yeah. I don't know what to do.”
“Just carry on doing what you've been doing. No one has done more for him than you Thaddeus. I'm still amazed at your loyalty and the support that you've shown him.” Again Jed snorted a little derisively. “No, Thaddeus I mean it. Many people claim to be friends to the end, but you and Joshua truly are.”
“Yeah well, I wish he'd remember that.”
“He will,” the Sister assured him with a smile. “You just keep on doing what you've been doing and we'll trust and pray that he will find his way back from this dark place he is in right now. He's a strong man Thaddeus—he'll come back to you.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Hopeless Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:20 pm|| |
The wagon ride back to the prison was tense and for the first half, silent. Kenny sat across the buckboard from the inmate and was watching him intently. Heyes was more than aware of the scrutiny and had to make a conscious effort to not let himself squirm.
Heyes was feeling antagonistic. Why was Jed going over to have dinner with Kenny and his family—again!? If Heyes had been willing to take a closer look at the emotions he was feeling, he would have realized that the primary one was petty jealousy. His best friend was moving on! Building new friendships, forging new loyalties and leaving Heyes behind to rot in prison.
The fact that this was what Heyes had been telling him he should do was totally irrelevant. Heyes telling him to do it, and Kid actually deciding for himself to do it were two very different things! Now here was Kenny sitting there, staring at him. Boring into him with those gray eyes, trying to break him—trying to make him crack!
Heyes was determined that he wasn't going to crack, that he wasn't going to give in, but as the ride continued on his resolve began to weaken. If it had been Carson playing the dominance game Heyes could have withstood it until hell froze over. He would never have given that guard the satisfaction of squirming under the assault.
But with Kenny it was different. Maybe it was because Heyes cared about what that particular guard thought of him that he finally began to unravel. Then his tense and hostile stance began to crumble and about half way back to the prison, it totally fell apart and Heyes submitted. Only then did Kenny avert his eyes, only then did he release the inmate from the scrutiny. Then Heyes really started to squirm.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He released a number of heavy sighs, coughed nervously and tried to look everywhere but at the guard. Kenny sat quietly, waiting. Dammit! Heyes started to feel angry again, then guilty, then contrite. Next came admittance, then apologetic and then downright shameful of his behaviour. Shoulders slumped—another heavy sigh. Kenny waited.
Finally—“Alright!” came the abrupt surrender.
Pearson started a bit up in the driver's seat. He for one had been totally unaware of the silent battle for supremacy that had been taking place behind him.
Kenny calmly turned his gray eyes back to the inmate. “Something on your mind Heyes?”
Heyes seethed, his jaw tightening in irritation. He was back to being angry again, but it was too late to retreat.
“I'm sorry, alright?!” Heyes threw at him. “Isn't that what you want to hear? Want me to apologize for behaving like an ass again! I always seem to end up apologizing to you and I don't even know what I'm doing wrong half the time! Well, no...okay! You're right; that's not entirely true! I usually know when I'm behaving like an ass—but what's it to you!? Why should I have to apologize to you for my behaviour? You don't hear me apologizing to Mr. Pearson here or to Thompson—or heaven forbid, to Carson! Like I would ever apologize to that bastard—oh and now I suppose I'm expected to apologize for calling Carson a bastard! Hell, I broke Thompson's collar bone and I never apologized to him—don't intend to either, dammit! He had it coming even if I didn't do it intentionally. Not that that mattered though did it? I still got hung out to dry!
“Hell, I may as well start planning to attack the guards—if I'm going to get punished for it anyways I may as well have the pleasure of anticipating the assault in the first place. Wouldn't that make life in the prison interesting!? Oh look! Heyes is on the rampage—again! Oh well, how many times can we hang him from the ceiling?! May as well just do it the one time and get it over with—just leave him there until he suffocates! One less uppity inmate to worry about!
“Oh hell, what's the point?” Heyes lowered the volume a little bit. “I keep on trying to do the right thing, trying to get by without getting into trouble and it just doesn't seem to work out. Why should I even bother continuing to try? I donno, I suppose it's better than sitting around doing nothing, I suppose.
“There's just nowhere in that entire prison where I can feel safe—ya know? Carson has come at me in the infirmary and the laundry room. Jeez, the laundry room wasn't even for something I had done, right or wrong; but for something he just suspected me of thinking of doing! How fair is that? How am I suppose to win with those odds? Course, I guess that's the point isn't it? I'm not supposed to win am I? The convicts loose every time—all the time.
“Well no, I guess that's not entirely true either. Dr. Slosson does what she can and Sister Julia helps a lot. Doc Morin is a good guy—we actually have fun together, sometimes. And you've always treated me fairly; yeah, you only beat me up with the club when I deserve it! Well no—you're right. That's not true, you're actually a pretty decent fella. What the hell are you doing working in a prison? You should be a mayor or something, not a bloody prison guard!
“Oh, but I sure would be in dire straights if you weren't a prison guard. Ohhh, I don't even want to go there! I've never even thought about that before—that's scary. Not planning on going anywhere are ya' Kenny? Oh! Ooops, sorry didn't mean to call ya' Kenny. I meant Mr. Reece. I mean, I guess it's just cause Kid calls ya' Kenny and I suppose I do too when we're talking about you, but I know I shouldn't call you that to your face. And it's not like we're saying anything bad about you when we're talking about you, ya' know. It's all good.
“Now I suppose you and Kid are gonna be talking about me tonight aren't ya'? What's up with Heyes? Why is Heyes being such as ass these days? What can we do to get him out of his slump? I know what you could do! You could get me the hell outa here, that's what you could do! I'd feel a whole lot better then—I can pretty much guarantee it! Oh, but I suppose Kid knows that. I know he's doing the best he can but he's fighting an up hill battle, that's for sure.
“I don't know what else he can do. I guess that's a lot of why I'm so down these days; I just don't see any more options open to us. I guess I'm just feeling like I'm going to be stuck in here forever, and seven years may as well be forever! I can't imagine seven years. I just....I can't see the end of that. Hmm, Jay will be ten years old then. Hmm, that's the same age I was when I lost my parents. I thought I was a grown man then and that I could take on the responsibility of the world. Ten years old, yeah right.”
Heyes paused for breath and then gave a big sigh. Kenny sat quietly, knowing that more was still to come.
“Jeez Kenny, I just don't know who I am anymore. Oh, there I go calling ya' 'Kenny' again.” Heyes continued, and then added sardonically. “Still, if you haven't hit me for it yet then I guess it's okay with you for right now. Still, can't be doing that in front of anybody else can I? Well, I guess I did it in front of Pearson here, but he doesn't really count.” Pearson turned his head slightly not so sure he liked that comment. “Do it in front of anybody else and you'll be after me with that bully club won't ya? I mean, why not? Everybody else hits me with the bloody thing, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you do it too. Just like in the infirmary—well, no. I suppose I had that one coming and you didn't actually hit me did you.”
Another heavy sigh.
“Even Kid's mad at me,” Heyes mumbled, feeling sorry for himself now. “I can't believe that he's sided with that little up-start of a backstabber over me!” Looks down at the floor of the buckboard, thinking. “But maybe he's right, maybe my ego was so bruised that I can't accept that some 'youngster' out-witted me, I mean; isn't that just the icing on the cake!”
Another stretch of silence. The buckboard continued to bounce and battle its way back towards the prison.
“I have been thinking about what you said to me,” Heyes finally continued. “About how I'm still behaving like an outlaw and that maybe I'm just not ready to be released. You know that really hit home. Cause, I mean, if you think that then how is the parole board gonna think any different?” Heyes became contemplative and then continued on quietly, almost as though he were talking to himself. “I feel like I'm loosing my grip here Kenny; I just don't know what to do. I used to like myself but now I don't even know who I am anymore.
“Now I look back at the person I used to be and I don't even like that person either! I mean—you're right! I've been making choices all my life just to satisfy the immediate need, without giving any serious thought to the long term consequences. Now here I am still doing the same thing!”
Another heavy sigh, another long term silence. Then Heyes gave a subtle nod to himself.
“I'm beginning to think that you and that judge are right,” he continued. “that I am beyond redemption, beyond reformation. I am who I am and I just get lost trying to be anything different. I'm never gonna get outa here. I'm gonna be stuck in here for the rest of my life.” Then he perked up and gave a little bit of a smile, “Of course, nobody says that the rest of my life has to be for much longer.”
Kenny cocked an eyebrow at that comment.
“I mean, that's kinda my choice, isn't it?” Heyes continued. “Nobody can force me to carry on if I decide that I don't want to, can they? Still, I don't suppose I'm ready to go down that road just yet. 'As long as you have life, you have hope.' That's what a friend of mine said to me an eternity ago. ' As long as you have life'.....” Heyes stared into nothing for a moment and then smiled and raised his eyes to meet Kenny's gaze. “When is the presidential election?”
“Ahhhmmm,” Kenny was taken by surprise with that question; it seemed so out of context. “Ahhh, early in the new year I think.”
Heyes nodded. “Early in the new year,” he repeated thoughtfully. “Well, I suppose I could wait around until then.”
Rather abruptly the wagon gave a slight lurch and Heyes glanced up to find that they had come to a halt inside the prison yard. Pearson started to climb down from the driver's seat and Kenny stood up in preparation of unloading the prisoner.
“Well Heyes,” he commented. “glad we could have this little talk.”
The arrival of the officials to the prison, when it came, could not have happened on a more opportune day than it did. When the secretary knocked on his office door to inform Warden Mitchell of his important guests, he sighed in disbelieving relief at the lucky coincidence. Mr. Reece and Hannibal Heyes had left for the orphanage only an hour ago and would be gone from the prison until mid-afternoon—plenty of time for these nosey intruders to be shown around and placated and then sent on their official way. The only one the warden had to keep an eye on now was Dr. Morin and that shouldn't be too difficult.
“Gentlemen! Gentlemen!” Mitchell greeted the three officials. “Please, do come in! Have a seat.”
The three men from the hearing board entered the office and settled in to the chairs that had been provided.
“Mr. Mitchell,” Mr. Simons greeted him. “may I introduce Mr. Douglas and Mr. Wilton. I do believe you know why we are here?”
“Yes yes, gentlemen. Of course,” Mitchell assured them with a smile. “Such nonsense really. I'm sure that once I show you around you will see that this prison is run extremely efficiently. All these accusations of unwarranted punishments—totally ridiculous!” He sighed and shook his head to emphasize how silly it all was. “But we must keep the governor happy I suppose. All part of playing politics I suppose.”
“Mr. Mitchell, this is hardly a game,” Simons pointed out, already not particularly liking the warden. “I expect you to take these accusations seriously.”
“Of course, Mr. Simons,” Mitchell assured him as he sobered up and tried to look contrite. “It's very serious. May I offer you gentlemen some brandy? I really do have some very nice....”
“That won't be necessary Mr. Mitchell,” Simons interjected. “I think it best that we get on with the reason for our visit.”
“Oh,” Mitchell seemed disappointed. “Yes, of course.”
Fifteen minutes later found the four gentlemen entering the prison proper and moving down onto the work floor where they were met by Officer Carson.
“Gentlemen,” Mitchell began. “this is our senior guard, Mr. Carson. He is obviously in charge of making sure that the prison runs smoothly and that the inmates all behave themselves. Mr. Carson, these gentlemen are from the prison board. They're here to make sure that everything is running properly and that the inmates are all treated fairly. Perhaps you could assist me in showing them around.”
“Yessir, Mr. Mitchell,” Carson agreed, though his expression was hardly supporting his agreement. “This is the work floor.”
“Yes, Mr. Carson. We can see that,” commented Mr. Simons dryly. “We are also well aware of what happens on the work floor. I believe we are more interested in the accusations of unwarranted punishments being handed down to the inmates by certain guards. Yourself in particular.”
“I assure you gentlemen that any punishments that have been handed down to the inmates have been warranted,” Carson sleezed. “Some of these convicts can get awfully aggressive and need to be handle in like manner or they don't get the message. If they behave themselves then they have nothing to worry about.”
“Hmm,” Simons wasn't convinced. “Perhaps if we could have a word with the inmate in question. Mr. Heyes, wasn't it?”
“I'm afraid that won't be possible today Mr. Simons,” Mitchell told him, again silently thanking the fates for this excellent timing.
“Why not, Mr. Mitchell. Is he being punished for something?”
“No no!” Mitchell laughed at the obvious snipe. “No, no. Mr. Heyes and Officer Reece are over at the orphanage today, speaking with the children.”
All three of the official gentlemen perked up at that. This was interesting.
“They're at the orphanage?” asked Mr. Douglas. “Is that a common occurrence?”
“Well yes,” Mitchell informed them. “Two or three times a year Officers Reece and Pearson escort Mr. Heyes over to the orphanage to spend the afternoon speaking with the children. They all seem to enjoy it quite a bit.”
There was a moment of stunned silence.
“Odd,” Mr. Douglas finally commented. “Mr. Reece said nothing of this at the hearing.”
“Really?” Mitchell fringed surprise. “I don't understand why not. Unless he was trying to paint as bleak a picture of life here at the prison as he possibly could. Just to try to win his case, such as it is.”
“Yes,” Mr. Simons mumbled. “Interesting.”
“Hmm. Well, shall we carry on to the dinning hall?” Mitchell suggested. “The inmates enjoy three squares a day there and I haven't heard any complaints about the food yet!”
“I believe we would rather take a look at your medical facility first, Mr. Mitchell,” Simons countered. “Perhaps have a word with your prison doctor. I believe he lodged some complaints himself.”
“If you insist,” Mitchell agreed. “Of course. I must warn you though that prisons don't attract the top of the line when it comes to doctors. It's hardly a prestigious position so the doctors that we do get are usually on the outer rim of their profession, if you get my meaning. You might want to take Dr. Morin's opinions with a grain of salt.”
“We will be the judge of that Mr. Mitchell,” Simons assured him. “Just lead the way.”
Over in the infirmary, the four men entered the ward to find the doctor nowhere in sight. The ward itself was clean and orderly and the three officials were impressed with how well maintained it appeared to be. There were no patients in the ward at this time, which wasn't too unusual for the time of the year, winter being the busy season. The officials occupied themselves by looking around and being impressed by the apparently well run facility.
Then a loud crash came from an adjoining office, followed instantly by a string of obscenities that would have made an old army Sargent blush.
“Jexxx fxxxing Chrxxx! Who the hell put that fxxxing tray there!?” the doctor made his appearance into the ward and continued swearing until he came face to face with the rather surprised looking officials. “Oh! Just who the fxxx are you and what are you doing in the middle of my infirmary!?”
“Dr. Morin,” Mitchell tried to sound discreet. “these gentlemen are from the prison board. They are here to follow up on the accusations of abuse presented to the board by Officer Reece—and yourself, if I'm not mistaken.”
“Oh,” Morin did look a tad contrite. “Sxxt!” He coughed with a little bit of embarrassment. “I apologize for my language. I didn't realize there was anyone else here.”
“Yes, of course Doctor,” Mr. Simons responded. “Ahhhmmm, I understand you had some complaints about the senior guard here?”
“OH! Carson! That fxxxing pxxxk!” Morin cringed and then sighed resignedly. “I'm sorry gentlemen—old habits. And that Carson just pisses me off....anyway...yeah, that guard is just a sadist, he should be fired as far as I'm concerned.”
“Oh really, Doctor,” Mitchell placated him. “That's a tad extreme don't you think? Mr. Carson is simply doing his job in keeping the inmates in line here.”
“Doing his job?!” Morin snarled. “He had no right coming in here and beating up on my assistant—and you damn well know it! That bastard!”
“Excuse me Dr. Morin,” Mr. Douglas intervened. “are you referring to the incident that happened last year, involving Mr. Heyes?”
“You bet your axx that's what I'm referring to!” Morin agreed. “Heyes was just doing his job, and he saved that young fellas life out there on the floor—he did nothing wrong! And that bastard Carson with his little lackey, Thompson came into MY INFIRMARY and beat the cxxp outa him! And that's just one incident! And Heyes isn't the only one who's been terrorized by that axxhole!” Here Morin pointed an accusing finger at Mitchell. “You know as well as I do that Carson beat Calhoun to death four years ago! Fell down the steps—my axx!”
“That could never be proven Dr. Morin,” Mitchell reminded him, barely keeping his temper in check. “You know that.”
“Yeah, nothing can ever be proven can it Mitchell?” Morin threw back at him. “And stuff that can't be covered up you find a way to justify!”
“Perhaps that is because the punishments handed out are justified!” Mitchell responded. “Being a doctor I can understand why you might not agree with that assessment! But being the warden here, the severity of punishments is left to my discretion and Mr. Carson has been well within his rights!”
“HE HAD NO RIGHT TO COME IN HERE AND....!”
“Gentlemen! Gentlemen, please!” Mr. Simons interjected. “Obviously there is a difference of opinion here! I believe we have heard enough Mr. Mitchell. If we could return to your office now to discuss this. Dr. Morin, thank you for your time.”
“Hmmmm,” Morin grumbled. “Fine! Good day to you too.”
Back up in Mitchell's office silence weighed heavy over the four men until Mr. Simons gave a discreet cough and broke the stalemate.
“Well, Mr. Mitchell,” he began. “there are certainly discrepancies here that need to be looked into. We will recommend to Governor Moonlight that we send a man in here to take a closer look at the situation. Perhaps next time Mr. Heyes will actually be available to answer some questions.”
“Yes, of course Mr. Simons,” Mitchell accepted that. “Whatever you think necessary.”
The three officials took their leave and Warden Mitchell sat at his desk and fumed. He was seething. Damn that Morin and his big mouth! Mitchell almost had those busybodies satisfied with the way he ran the prison and then Morin just had to put a wrench into the whole thing! Damn him! Something was going to have to be done about this!
Kenny had initially invited Jed for dinner again because his two boys would not stop pestering their father to get the ex-outlaw there to display his fast draw. It just wasn't fair—they bemoaned—that orphaned children were privileged enough to see it, actually privileged enough to meet both Heyes and Curry, when the sons of the (almost) senior guard were being so unfairly deprived of this honour!
If they couldn't meet Hannibal Heyes then at least Kid Curry could come out for a second visit and display his talents, after all he had promised that he would! Kenny had finally relented, especially when Evelyn, whom he could never resist, beseeched him with those soft gray eyes and asked very politely if Mr. Curry could please come to dinner again.
Kenny had sighed helplessly over at his wife who had smiled knowingly and set about planning dinner for a guest. Now, of course Kenny was glad of Jed's planned visit since as the ex-gunman had observed himself, there seemed to be a lot that needed discussing.
It was later that evening, after the long anticipated fast draw display and a very fine supper were completed that Jed and Kenny retired to the back porch for brandy and a cigar. It was a pleasant evening, still light out and warm enough to be comfortable to sit outdoors for their discussion until twilight would send them inside again.
Evelyn had actually managed to settled onto Jed's lap and much to her father's amusement had snuggled in to eventually fall asleep listening to her hero's heartbeat and his voice rumbling soothingly in her ears.
Sarah had offered to take her off his hands and put her to bed, but Jed had just smiled and declined, stating that she was no bother and seemed so comfortable that it would be a shame to disturb her. The two parents had exchanged quiet looks and then the mother returned indoors to pass the evening with her own endeavours.
“How was he today after we parted company?” Jed asked with a little trepidation.
Kenny sighed wearily and rolled his eyes. “Oh brother,” he complained. “I was beginning to question my stance on abolishing the 'no talking' rule.” Then he shook his head and smiled. “Has he always been like that? I mean it took him a while to break down and start talking, but once he did he just wouldn't shut up.”
Jed couldn't help but laugh, but it was partly out of relief.
“Yeah,” he assured the guard. “Like I told ya' before; it's when he won't talk that ya' gotta worry. If he's talking, then maybe he'll pull himself outa this.”
“He didn't want to at first,” Kenny admitted. “I really had to push him and he got pretty angry—he resented it.”
“Hmm,” Jed took a sip of brandy. “If I try pushing him when he doesn't want to talk he just turns nasty and then digs in even deeper. I'm kinda surprised he opened up to you like that.”
“Well, I have an advantage over him that you don't have.”
“I'm not his friend,” Kenny pointed out. “I don't have to worry about the aftermath. I can push him far harder than you ever would and he knows he's at a disadvantage with me because I won't let him get away with insolence. Sometimes it takes a person who's not as close to him as you are to get him off balance enough that the barriers break down.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Jed admitted with just a slight twinge of begrudgement. “I gotta disagreed on one of your points though; you are his friend Kenny—one of the few friends he has in that place. He respects you and Heyes doesn't give his respect easily.”
Kenny nodded. “I remember you commenting on that at the hearing. And I suppose I already know you're right about it. He's usually very respectful towards me, far more than to any of the other guards. Especially now.”
“What do ya' mean? Why now?”
“He's angry Jed,” Kenny informed him. “He's angry and bitter over what happened this past winter. It's just like what I told Thompson way back when he first hired on at the prison. I told him that if he treated Heyes fairly then they'd get along fine. I told him that Heyes is smart enough to know when he deserved punishment and smart enough to know what was fair and what wasn't.” Kenny sighed regretfully. “Thompson didn't listen. I'm afraid he'd already been too much influenced by Carson, so....anyway, of course Heyes knew that what they did to him was totally unjust and he is so very angry. He's been keeping it bottled up for the most part, although he did blow up at me just before the hearing about the injustice of it.”
“Oh, I'd pushed him,” Kenny admitted. “I was quite angry with him at the time myself and I pushed him into a corner in more ways than one.”
“Why were you angry with him?” Jed asked, feeling a little protective of his cousin. “What did he do?”
“He went after Boeman in retaliation for Lobinskie,” Kenny explained. “Hit him hard too, really hard. Laid him up for a good month or more. And I was just so pissed off with Heyes at that point. The hearing was just around the corner and we were all working hard towards it, and I thought; working together. Then Heyes went and reverted to type; did something that was so self-serving that I was about ready to strangle him!” Big sigh, contemplating what he wanted to say next. “I know you're not going to like this Jed, but I've felt for some time, and now more than ever that Heyes just isn't ready to be released from prison yet.”
Kenny was right about one thing; Jed did not like the sound of that. He tensed up and was instantly defensive.
“What?!” Jed demanded. “How can you say that? I thought you were on our side here!! How can you think that Heyes being in that place is helping him!?”
Evelyn stirred in her sleep, disturbed by the sudden antagonism in her pillow. Jed stroked her hair and gave her a gentle hug to calm her back to sleep, and in so doing calmed himself down as well. Kenny watched and waited until both his daughter and his guest had settled again.
“I didn't say that place was helping him, not the way its being run now.” Kenny explained. “That's why I was at the hearing; to try and bring some reform into the prison system and to have stricter guidelines on the uses and severity of punishments. I was not there trying to petition an instant release for Hannibal Heyes.”
“Well....but, why not?” Jed was still upset over this announcement, but doing a better job of containing it.
“Because up until quite recently, Heyes had never given me any indication that he had changed his perspective,” Kenny continued with his explanation. “If he had been released at the time of the hearing I am fairly confident that he would have, well 'reverted to type', just as he did with Boeman. And just as he did with Boeman, he would have felt totally justified in doing so. I mean, Jed, his whole trial was based on him justifying why he became a conman, an outlaw. He used the Civil War and the tragedies that befell both of you during that time as the reasons for his later conduct. By holding on to that self-righteousness he simply helped himself to justify those feelings of entitlement and therefore never truly accepted responsibility for his actions.”
“Yeah, but...those things happened Kenny,” Jed insisted, feeling the need to stand up for his cousin. “It's not like he made them up to use them as an excuse. They really happened.”
“I know,” Kenny conceded. “But they didn't just happen to you. I lost everything I had known and had accepted as my life because of that war. So many people lost their livelihoods, lost their families, lost their homes. You and Heyes were not the only ones. And you certainly weren't the only ones to end up in orphanages. Too many children lost families—too many children witnessed terrible things. But how many of them rose up to become the territories two most wanted outlaws?”
“Well then you must think that I got off easy,” Jed commented quietly. “That I didn't deserve the amnesty. That I should have been hanged just like DeFord and the Judge had wanted?”
“No,” Kenny shook his head. “No I don't believe that you deserved that Jed. I don't know if you deserved the amnesty or not, that's not for me to say. I do know that you've done better with it than what Heyes would have done. I don't know why. Maybe your temperament is more grounded—more solid. I know you've had problems with your tempter before, but you seem to have learned how to control it, and you've learned patience too, that much is obvious. You also accepted responsibility for your behaviour and you apologized for it, right there in court, right in front of the whole assembly. That couldn't have been easy to do, but you did it. Those are huge steps forward Jed, steps that Heyes has yet to take.”
“But he's the one who kept us on track for the amnesty,” Curry insisted. “He's the one who kept us true...”
“And he's the one who repeatedly lost his temper during his trial. He's the one who was found in contempt. He's the one who was convicted of running a scam!”
“I know Jed!” Kenny interrupted him. “I know all the excuses you're going to come back at me with. Miss Hale blackmailed you. You were just as much a part of it as Heyes was. He was being loyal to his friends! I know.”
Now Evelyn really woke up. The sounds of her father's angry tones invading her peaceful dreams. She stretched and moaned irritably while rubbing her eyes awake. Fortunately Sarah had also been disturbed by the raised voices out on the porch and had come out to investigate.
“Oh dear,” she commented when she saw her squirming daughter. “Come on sweetheart, let's get you to bed.”
Jed helped to lift the child up to her mother and both men looked a little contrite.
“Sorry ma'am—ah, Sarah,” Jed apologized. “I suppose we were getting a little heated there.”
Sarah smiled as she hoisted her groggy daughter onto her shoulder, but when she turned she sent a reprimanding look to her husband.
“Sorry,” he obediently responded.
“Fine,” Sarah accepted the apologies. “I have more coffee on. Would you gentlemen like some?”
“Yes, that's a good idea,” Kenny accepted. “I can get it if you like.”
“No, no,” Sarah declined the offer. “You sound like you're in the middle of an important debate here. Just let me get Eve put to bed and I'll bring it.”
The ladies left and Jed and Kenny looked across at one another, knowing that the interruption was probably fortuitous in that it gave both men the time to calm down.
“Anyway,” Kenny continued. “I suppose the point I'm trying to make here is that you have grown beyond the outlaw who you used to be and Heyes has not. You could argue that Heyes has been stuck in prison and hasn't had the chance to move on but I don't think I agree with that. Most of the problems Heyes has experienced since his incarceration have been brought on by his own self-serving attitude and decisions.”
Kenny paused again, thinking about how he was going to explain his next point.
“As I said earlier, I have been pushing Heyes lately,” Kenny reiterated. “I have been pushing him hard with the intention of getting a reaction from him. I've said things to him that hurt him and, I know, sacred him as well.”
“Scared him?” Jed questioned. What could Kenny have said that would scare him?
“Oh yes,” Kenny nodded. “I knew it was dangerous to push him that hard. But I had to make him stop and re-examine who he is and what his motivations are or he is never going to make parole. The danger with that, of course is pushing him too hard—pushing him right over the edge.”
“What do you mean?” Jed asked, not feeling too comfortable with this. “You mean his sanity?”
“No, not that,” Kenny reflected where he was trying to go with this. “Perhaps his confidence. His sense of self. Like I said; I had to make him stop and realize that he has simply been repeating the same behaviour that sent him to prison in the first place. If he doesn't come to realize that and start trying to change his behaviour then once he does get released he'll just go right back to being Hannibal Heyes; outlaw. Hannibal Heyes; conman. And feel that he is totally justified in doing so.”
Jed took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His brain was spinning.
“Jeez Kenny. How do you think up all this stuff?” he asked, rather incredulously. “How do you even recognize it?!”
Kenny sat back with a smile. “Well, like I said at the hearing; I've been a guard for a lot of years now and I've seen a lot of inmates come and go—and I've seen a lot of them come back. All a person has to do is pay attention and the patterns do start to show themselves. Once Heyes is released the last thing I want to see is him coming right back in again.”
“Ohhh,” Jed sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I never even thought of that. I've been so focused on just getting him out in the first place—it never even occurred to me that he might end up doing stuff that would get him sent back in again! Oh brother!”
Then Sarah arrived with the coffee and some hard fruit cake left over from Christmas.
“How is it going?” she asked as she placed the tray down on the table between them. “Making any progress?”
“I donno,” Jed admitted. “I feel like we're going backwards!”
“Oh no,” Kenny smiled as he picked up his coffee. “You're getting the jist of it.”
Jed picked up his coffee and sat back with a sigh. He was feeling very appreciative of the hot beverage right now and thanked Sarah for suggesting it.
She smiled and retreated, leaving the men to continue on with the obviously intense conversation.
“So,” Jed began again after a heavy sigh and a couple of sips of coffee. “is he beginning to see what it is that he's doing to himself?”
“Well, our conversation coming back from the orphanage today would suggest so, yes,” Kenny surmised. “But he's at a very vulnerable stage right now. He's scared. He's had the carpet pulled out from under him and he's questioning everything. He's hurting, inside and out—emotionally and physically. And his one remaining hope; the hearing, fell short of accomplishing what he wanted.
“As I said, and as you've noticed yourself, he's very angry and bitter over what happened at Christmas and I guess we can't fault him for that. But I'm concerned that he's not going to get over it this time, that with everything else that happened, that perhaps I pushed him too hard.” Here Kenny stopped and shook his head, realizing that he was second guessing himself. “But no, I had to push him. It's like in order to save his life, to force him to re-assess himself I had to push him right to the edge of the abyss and just hope and pray that he has the strength to step back from it.”
Jed felt a tingling of fear grip his heart as the full meaning of Kenny's words sunk in. The two men sat in silence for a few moments, sipping their coffees as the evening started to close in on them.
“I can't imagine Heyes giving up that way,” Jed finally admitted in hardly more than a whisper. “It's just not him Kenny. I know I've been accusing him of that myself lately, but Heyes has never given up. Even when we were kids, even when it seemed hopeless, he was the one who kept me going. No,” Jed shook his head adamantly. “That's not Heyes—he won't give up! He'll step back, you'll see!”
Kenny made no comment. He knew that Jed would have a hard time hearing that and probably would not be willing to accept it and maybe that was a good thing. Because if Jed refused to accept that possibility then maybe he just simply would not allow Heyes to accept it either.
Kenny had been around this block too many times and he recognized the signs but he still allowed himself the privilege of hoping. Heyes did have friends, inside the prison and out and perhaps if they all stuck together and kept at it they would be able to keep the inmate going. But Kenny's one real fear was that Heyes would end up getting hurt again; that he'd get pushed down that one more notch. Down to that final rung where the next step would be just be as simple as letting go into oblivion.
Wheat Carlson smiled to himself. It was a humourless smile though; hard and cold to match the look in his eye. This is what he had planned and it was satisfying to see everything all fall into place just as he hoped it would. He had turned his horse's head back into Wyoming after he had read that newspaper article, he had turned back because he didn't want to live a life of constantly looking over his shoulder. He didn't want to spend his life wondering when the bullet would come out of the dark and send him packing.
He had turned back, deliberately mapping out Morrison's movements, following every choice he made, begrudging every life he took. He'd sit at his campfire at night thinking about what that marshal had done over the past four years and he'd grind his teeth and curse the very ground that lawman walked upon. First it had been Curry and Heyes. Even Wheat knew how close Kid had come to dying at the hands of that bastard, and then what had happened to Heyes was even worse! Wheat hadn't always seen eye to eye with that young, arrogant little....but that didn't mean that Wheat would have wished life in prison onto him either.
Then Hank had been taken out just at the snap of the fingers—no warning, nothing! Just 'Bang!' and he was dead before he left the saddle. And then that ambush! Yeah, in hindsight Wheat berated himself for not seeing it coming—it had just been too good to be true, and too good to pass up. So, Charlie and Preacher and now Lobo had been added to the lengthening list of the deceased. Not to mention all those other fellas who hadn't been with the gang quite so long. And now the Cripple Creek boys! The list was just getting too damn long to ignore!
And then there was Kyle, his own partner, still stuck in that damn prison. He'd been there coming up on a year now and probably hating every minute of it—Wheat surmised, and he'd grind his teeth and strangle his coffee cup even more.
Now he knew that Morrison was on his trail. It hadn't been hard really. All Wheat had to do was predict the lawman's direction of travel and then simply put himself 'in harm's way'. Leaving a cold campfire, hidden but not too hidden, filing a notch into one of the shoes on his horse, using money he had snatched from the previous town to buy supplies in the next town. Yup, Wheat knew how to cover his tracks when he wanted to, so it stood to reason that he'd know how to lay a track when that became his goal.
Morrison had gotten cocky and he was following that track like an old hound dog on the scent. Wheat sat back against his saddle to have a smoke and didn't care that his campfire was shining out like a beacon in the night. Let that bastard come. Hell or high water, death or triumph; Wheat Carlson was going to put an end to it, one way or another.
The next morning Wheat turned his horse's nose towards a labyrinth of trails and gulleys. He knew it well since the gang had used it on numerous occasions to lose a posse or some persistent bounty hunter who had latched on to the tail of one of them. It was the perfect place for what Wheat had in mind and all he had to do was make sure that the posse following him didn't get lost.
Sure enough, within an hour of entering this confusing maze the seasoned outlaw had to turn back and leave fresh signs for the posse to latch onto. Left to their own devices they would have become hopelessly turned around long before the sun had reached its zenith. Wheat would just snort and shake his head—no wonder they'd all stayed actively thieving for so long. If this was the best the opposing side had to offer it stood to reason that they relied on ambushing their quarry in order to be successful.
Finally Wheat arrived at the spot that he had been aiming for. The trail was narrow, room for only one horse at a time to come along it and with rock faces rising up on either side which would make for good cover. Wheat was planning a little ambush of his own and he didn't care how many of those posse men he ended up killing, so long as Morrison was one of them.
Now Wheat got busy covering his tracks. He knew that posse was no more than half an hour behind him and that would give him just enough time to confuse the issue. The ground was hard here, almost like rock and Wheat turned back on his own trail, his horse's hooves leaving only an occasional scuffing, indicating that a horse had come this way but leaving the direction of travel totally ambiguous.
The posse would assume that the outlaw had kept on going straight and the only way it wouldn't work is if they had an Apache with them. Considering how easily this group had gotten lost already, Wheat highly doubted the possibility of an Apache!
Wheat continued to backtrack for about a hundred yards until he found that little side trail that would take him off the main track and up into the rocks where he would be able to settle into a hiding place with full view of the trail below him.
He turned his horse onto the narrow path, then dismounting he grabbed some loose scrub and quickly but thoroughly brushed away the tracks that would give away his movements. Then he remounted and booted his mount into a lope up the hill and into the rocky landscape that would offer such a natural cover for anyone who knew where to find it.
Once he did find the spot that he was looking for, he dismounted and leading his horse down into a small gulley where it would be well hidden from sight, he tied the animal to some scrub brush and went about the business of getting ready. He pulled his rifle from the scabbard and then digging into his saddle bags he found and pulled out two boxes of cartridges—one for the rifle and one for the six-shooter. Then he made his way up the side of the small gulley and over to the edge of the embankment.
He found the perfect spot to settle in to; a nice little dip in the ground with two large boulders for cover with just enough space between them for his rifle to set and his view of the trail below him unobstructed. He sat down, leaning against the boulders and began to load the rifle and then his six-shooter. Then he placed both boxes of cartridges onto the ground, out of the way but still within reach so that he could quickly re-load either weapon if needs be. He gave a little snort at that thought; he kinda doubted that he would be re-loading.
With all the preparations taken care of, Wheat took a deep breath, held it for a few seconds and then released it. He did one more quick check to be sure that his horse was out of sight and then settled in to await his pursuers. He was surprised at how calm he felt; he had expected to be dealing with cold sweats and a knotted gut by now, but he was unexpectedly relaxed. Maybe that was normal when you'd already made up your mind that you weren't going to survive the encounter anyways. Maybe it was the hope that you were going to get out alive that brought on the nervousness. If you already accepted that it was a one way trip, well then, what was there to be nervous about?
Wheat smiled and nodded his head; yeah, that made sense. Then he tensed just a bit and stared down along the trail below him. He'd heard something. A hoof striking a rock maybe? A horse snorting? He wasn't sure what, but he knew he'd heard something. He pulled the rifle up and rested the barrel between the two boulders, watching and waiting for the first of the riders to come around the bend and into his sights.
He listened and waited. What was taking them so long? They should be coming around that bend by now—jeez they didn't get lost again did they?! Then he caught his breath and got himself ready; he'd definitely heard it this time, the jingling of a bit, the snorting of a horse. They were coming. He sat up straighter and aiming his rifle towards the bend he settled into the stock and squinted along the barrel, waiting for the first rider to come in to view.
He knew he couldn't start shooting right away. He had to wait until the whole posse was on that stretch of trail and within his sights. He'd wait until they were all there and then he'd single out that bastard Morrison and blow him to kingdom come. After that he'd just keep shooting until he ran out of bullets or he was dead, he didn't care which and he didn't care how many others he took with him, so long as Morrison was one of them!
Wheat watched and waited. Then—there it was; a horse moving into sight. But then...what? There was nobody on it! It was just a lone horse plodding along the trail with it's reins wrapped around the saddle horn. What the hell? Then the outlaw heard a noise behind him, and lifting the rifle he swung it around to face the new threat, but he wasn't quite fast enough.
He got only the briefest glimpse of a man standing there and the loud report and flash of a rifle firing towards him and then at the same time, by instinct alone, his own rifle going off in self-defence! A burning like white lightening seared across his ribcage and he knew he'd been hit. He cocked the rifle, preparing for round two but then the gun smoke cleared and the lawman was sprawled on the ground and not moving.
In the next instant he heard another rifle shot coming from down below and he felt rock splinters dance up and attack the side of his face. He flinched away from it and then swung around again and prepared to return fire. But the scene below him was pandemonium and there was nothing for him to focus in on for a useful attack. Riderless horses were galloping in circles; they weren't panicked yet but nervous and hopeful of a way out but still causing enough confusion and dust to complicate matters.
Wheat was still trying to find a target when another rifle shot sounded and the bullet hit the rock face close enough to make the outlaw duck. He knew he had to get out of there! He didn't mind dying—his life as he'd known it was over anyways and he didn't have anything else. But he'd be damned if he died and didn't take Morrison with him! He might not have been able to save his gang, but he sure as hell was gonna avenge them!
He grabbed the boxes of cartridges, and bending low he made a run for his horse, snatching up the deputy's fallen rifle as he went. Once he was away from the edge he was out of the line of fire and was able to tuck the boxes back into the saddle bags, sheath one of the rifles and then swing aboard his nervous horse without interference. He booted the animal into a gallop and headed full speed down the other side of the ridge and out into the flat country, heading for the cover of the copse of trees.
He knew that posse would be coming after him, and that was a good thing. He'd draw them out in the open, out where he could see them coming and then he could take his time, find his target and end this game before it became a loosing one.
Wheat galloped on, sending up a trail of dust off the hard ground that could be seen for miles around. A quick check over his shoulder and he could see a larger billow of dust rising into the air and following his own track. They were coming after him for sure so he turned eyes forward and pushed his horse onwards until he came to that copse of trees and had to rein the animal back in order to manoeuvre in amongst the underbrush.
Once inside the cover of the trees, Wheat turned his horse to the left and pushed him onwards as quickly as he dared in this tangled footing. His horse responded gallantly, keeping the forward impulsion going, but still turning on a dime when asked to and not hesitating to jump over branches and dead-fall whenever such things were in their way.
Finally Wheat was satisfied with his position, and pulling the horse to a halt, he dismounted and tied the animal to the branch of a tree. He then grabbed the second rifle out from the sheath and got himself leaning up against another tree that was big enough to hide him, but still give him an excellent view of the open ground before him.
If the posse stayed following his trail then they would have to gallop right past Wheat's hiding place and that was exactly what he wanted. It didn't take long either. Within seconds of him getting set up, he could start making out individual horses and riders in amongst the cloud of dust. The pounding of the hooves and the snorting of heavily run horses filled the air and announced their arrival as the fugitive lifted the rifle and made ready.
Wheat was able to spot Morrison almost right away. He wasn't a hard man to spot, considering that the only other man in the group who was bigger than him was Mike, and Wheat wasn't interested in Mike. The outlaw cocked the hammer, got the marshal in his sights and pulled the trigger. But just as he did that another deputy moved forward and inadvertently took the bullet for his boss! He jerked slightly and fell from his horse and that animal, slightly panicked without any guidance now from above, bucked and veered away.
Fortunately the horses coming up behind had the presence of mind to jump over the fallen rider and that man was able to roll clear of the hooves and avoid being trampled. He stayed down though—he knew he was a sitting duck where he was and the closer he stayed to the ground the less likely he was of getting another bullet headed his way.
Wheat cursed his bad luck and quickly cocked the rifle again and took another shot before the posse had time to react! It was too quick though and his aim was off. Morrison's horse went down in a tangle of flailing hooves and loud bellows of protest while the marshal himself was thrown clear only to scramble back to use the downed animal as cover.
The remainder of the posse members pulled their horses around and in an instant every rifle was aimed at the trees and a barrage of bullets exploded into the foliage, zinging and pinging and thumping into the leaves and woods! Wheat's horse panicked and pulling back from its tethering began to buck and plunge in its effort to break free and run away from the deadly assault. Fortunately Wheat had tied him securely and the horse had been unable to pull away. Also fortunately, none of the bullets found a target and everyone continued to breath at least for the time being.
Wheat had wisely ducked in behind that big trunk while the bullets were coming at him and he could have sworn that he felt the tree shudder as the missiles thunked against it and became embedded in the wood. When he turned back around, rifle at the ready, he cursed again as he noticed four of the deputies had broken away from the group and splitting into pairs were manoeuvring around to out flank the outlaw and pin him down.
Wheat sent bullet after bullet firing towards the pair to his left, hitting one of the lawmen in the arm and then taking down his horse. The animal bellowed with indignation at being knocked off its feet and then as the rider kicked himself clear, it got its legs under itself again and scrambled up. Then with head and tail held high and reins flying out behind, it galloped off a few hundred yards before stopping and turning to see what was going to happen next!
In the meantime the de-horsed deputy was laying low, clutching his broken arm and looking for any kind of dip in the ground to roll into for cover. He needn't of worried though cause Wheat wasn't paying him any attention—he was firing more shots after the second horseman, hoping to bring him down before he reached the cover of the trees. No such luck. Horse and rider disappeared into the foliage and would soon be making their way back to where the outlaw was positioned.
Wheat then swung the rifle to his right, just on the outside chance that the other two were still in the open for easy targets. Wheat cursed again. They were gone from sight and Wheat knew that he had better move and move fast or he was going to be trapped. Then just as he was moving away from the tree he heard the rifle shot and then he got punched so hard in the left shoulder that he was sent sprawling face first into the greenery.
He began swearing a blue streak at this point, knowing that he had been hit again, but a lot worse this time. His collar bone was broken and the pain was so bad that his whole left arm was numb and on fire all at the same time. He forced himself to his feet and leaning awkwardly against the tree again, he swung the rifle up and supporting it along a branch, fired shot after shot towards Morrison and the two wounded deputies who had all taken refuge behind the marshals dead horse.
The rifle emptied and Wheat flung it aside, feeling like he was going to faint but knowing that he had to get out of there. He had to get to his horse before it was too late and they had him boxed in.
“Give it up Carlson!” he heard the marshal yelling at him. “You got nowhere else to go! You haven't actually killed anyone yet! Be smart! Give it up before ya' do something you could be hanged for!”
Wheat snarled at having to listen to that bastard's voice. The idiot still hadn't figured it out—that Wheat had no intentions of getting out of this alive. He only had one goal—one focus and he was not inclined to give up on that just yet.
He made another attempt to get to his jittery horse, and actually made it this time. Adrenaline was all that got the second rifle back into the boot and himself up into the saddle. Then he almost found himself back on the ground again as shots came at him from deeper inside the woods! The deputies had made it around to flank him and they had cut off any retreat he might have been able to make in that direction. He was beyond cursing now! With his left arm practically useless, he swung his horse's head towards the open landscape and booted him forward!
The pent up animal lunged forward and digging in with it's hind quarters, they burst clear of the foliage and headed at a full gallop straight towards the three men hiding behind the dead horse! Suddenly it was the three lawmen who were yelling and cursing and scrambling to meet this unexpected assault! By the time they got over the surprise and had their rifles ready to shoot, the horse was upon them and the three men instinctively ducked as the large animal rose up and tucking it's legs, leaped over the human obstacle. The horse landed with a grunt and then spraying the grounded men with dirt from its powering hind feet, took off at a gallop again to head off across open country.
By this time the three mounted deputies had come charging out from the copse of trees and were firing their rifles after the escaping outlaw. Fortunately for Wheat the chances of anybody firing a rifle at a moving target from the back of a moving horse and actually hitting the mark is practically nil and Wheat galloped on, his horse's hind feet leaving little puffs of dust behind him as they went.
The three horsemen reined in their horses by their boss, but by this time Morrison was fuming and with an angry gesture he yelled them on.
“GO GET 'EM!!” he was practically bellowing at them. “I want that son of a bitch's head on a spike! GO RUN 'EM DOWN!”
Well they didn't need any more encouragement then that, and with big Mike leading the way the three men took off at a gallop after the disappearing speck.
“DAMMIT!” Morrison cursed again in his frustration. “Who would have thought that some two bit dirt outlaw like Carlson would be giving us so much trouble! Damn him to hell!!”
Jack and Karl sitting in the dirt and nursing their wounds, made no comment.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Hopeless Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:23 pm|| |
Half an hour later there was still no sign of the depleted posse's return. Morrison had done his best to tend to the injuries of both his deputies, and fortunately neither man was wounded very badly, just hurting that was all. At this point the sun was high and getting pretty hot out there in the open, not to mention the flies buzzing around the dead horse were beginning to get irritating. To a man, all three decided it would be a lot more comfortable to move into the shade of the trees. So picking up what supplies they could from the dead animal they headed for cover.
It was close and muggy inside the woods, but it was still cooler than sitting out in the open sun and everyone settled in to await the return of their compatriots, hopefully with a prisoner or a corpse in tow.
Twenty minutes more of waiting and Morrison spotted a dust trail rising up into the air and hoped that it was the deputies returning, but as the cause of the dust got closer the marshal grunted in disappointment. It was only the two loose horses deciding that their best chances for survival lay with returning to the men who fed them, even if they did on occasion, get shot at.
Still, Morrison surmised with a sigh, they were going to need those horses so it was a good thing that they had decided to return. Leaving his rifle with the injured men, he walked back out towards the returning equines in order to catch them up and bring them over into the shade.
The marshal approached the horses slowly, not wanting to spook them off again and though they blew a little bit and tensed up at his arrival, they allowed the human to snatch up their trailing reins and be taken back in to servitude once again. But then both horses did spook and jumped away from him, trying to break loose and Morrison grabbed onto the reins even tighter. Next he heard Jack and Karl shouting at him and then gunfire from their six-shooters that caused the lawman to look around to see what all the fuss was about.
He just barely had time to see a third horse coming barrelling down on him at a full gallop and the angry, snarling expression on the face of the wounded outlaw before the horse ploughed into him and sent him sprawling! The two riderless horses jumped away from him and got themselves out of there—again, while Wheat hauled on his horses mouth to slow him down and turn him back around. Wheat wasn't finished yet.
He sent his horse back towards the marshal. Totally ignoring the bullets coming at him from the two wounded deputies, he charged the fallen man just as Morrison was scrambling back to his feet and pulling his revolver out for use. Wheat came on. He dropped the reins and pulled his own revolver and his horse stayed true to it's line and continued straight at the marshal. Both adversaries took their shots at the same time—point blank and neither one missed their mark.
Morrison took the bullet in the lung and went down again, coughing blood. Wheat took his to the right upper chest, ploughing through his shoulder and lodging itself against the inside of his shoulder blade. He dropped his revolver and grabbed onto the saddle horn as best he could, desperate to stay on while his horse, free from guidance joined up with the two loose animals and all three took off at a gallop across the open landscape.
The two deputies were running towards their boss, shooting their revolvers as they came. With their injuries neither one were capable of wielding the rifle so they did the best they could with what they had. Then at the same time, the small posse, that had trailed the outlaw in a full circle to end up right back where they'd started from, came bursting from the trees and went charging after the yet again escaping fugitive.
Wheat was hanging on for all he was worth. He had no control over where his horse was going, but a full gallop anywhere was better than the alternative. He couldn't hear the revolvers shooting at him, but logic told him that they were and he just hoped to goodness that they wouldn't find their mark. Then he did hear rifle fire joining in on the assault and then again, felt himself get punched in the back! He fell forward against his horse's neck but still managed to hold on despite the pain and the struggle now, to breath.
The rifle fire continued behind him and it wasn't fading away so Wheat knew that they were still trying to run him down. One of the loose horses beside him stumbled and went down in a jumble of kicking legs and flying dirt, but Wheat carried on knowing that the horses had smelled water and were actually heading for the river that he knew was out there just waiting for them.
The small posse continued on the outlaw's tail, determined to ride him down. After the first mile or so, they had stopped firing at him. It was just a waste of bullets anyways since they knew the man had been hit several times. All they really had to do now was stay with him and simply wait until he collapsed from blood loss.
Wheat carried on. He knew he was getting weaker, those last two hits were serious and he was losing blood at a dangerous rate but he was determined not to stop, not give in to those bastards. He knew where he was going, he knew this country like the back of his hand and he didn't even have to think about it.
He was able to keep his horse going true and the landscaped began to change to more rolling hills and greenery and soon he was hidden from sight and into the blessed coolness of the trees. He could practically smell the water on the breeze and the horses needed no encouragement to stay at a steady gait and headed towards it.
The loose horse was trotting on ahead, himself eager for a drink and knowing that they were getting close.
After what seemed an eternity and with his body getting weaker and his brain becoming fuzzier by the minute, the small group finally made it to the river's edge. Oh it was so nice here, so cool and refreshing. The gentle breeze was rustling the leaves and the peaceful river was gliding by, lapping up against the rocky shoreline and the outlaw felt so weak and dry and thirsty and the river was so inviting.
He wasn't really feeling pain anymore, just a quiet serenity, an acceptance of what was to come. He leaned forward against the horse's neck and with some effort managed to bring his right leg over the cantel of the saddle and then slid down to the ground. His legs couldn't support him though and he ended up on his knees and then before he knew it he was face first and flat out on the rocky flood plain of the river bank.
His horse nervously stepped away from him and then went to join his companion in a much needed drink from the river while Wheat stayed where he was for the moment, trying to convince himself to move. Then both horses, their mouths still full of water, shot their heads up and with pricked ears looked back the way they had come. Wheat knew the posse was catching up with him and would probably be there at any moment. That knowledge itself gave him incentive to move since there was no way he was going to give them the satisfaction of being able to take his body in for the reward.
Through a haze over his brain and a buzzing in his ears, he dragged himself up to his hands and knees and pulled his resisting body to the river's edge. He didn't even hesitate at that point and continued on into the water and it felt so cool and so nice and then the current took him and he relaxed in the embrace of the river and he drifted away.
“I suppose you've heard the news?” Curry asked his cousin.
Heyes nodded. “Yeah. Kenny left me the article in my cell the other day. The mood around here hasn't been too jovial I can tell you. Carson's constantly glaring at me like it was my fault.”
“Yeah well, any excuse I suppose,” Kid hypothesized.
“How's Kyle taking it?”
Heyes creased his brow and shrugged. “I don't know,” he admitted. “I'd have thought he'd be more cut up than he is. I mean, he's looking sad and going through all the motions, but it's like it's just an act. And you know Kyle never could hide what he was feeling. Kinda makes me wonder if he knows something we don't.”
“What? Ya' mean like maybe Wheat's still alive?” Kid asked incredulously.
Heyes shrugged again. “They never did find his body.”
“Yeah I know Heyes, but from the amount of blood that was on the horse and along the river bank, Mike figures he got shot up pretty bad,” Curry informed him. “It just don't seem too likely.”
“Hmmmm,” Heyes didn't sound totally convinced. “How's Morrison? Still breathin'?”
“Yeah he is,” Curry admitted with a slight tinge of regret in his tone. “But they weren't able to get the bullet out—too risky, you know.”
“Eventually he may cough it up on his own, but in the mean time he's sure not gonna be riding out after any more outlaws,” Curry predicted. “Wheat accomplished that much anyways. He took that bastard out of commission and that was no mean feat.”
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. Then he smiled. “Good ole' Wheat. Showed us all up didn't he. In the end he was the one who got the job done.”
Curry just nodded and they sat in quiet remembrance for a moment.
“I rode up to the spot,” Kid admitted. “The area by the river where Mike said they lost him. You know it Heyes, that spot where the river runs wide and there's that bit of a flood plain that gives easy access to the water at this time of year. We'd often stop to water the horses there on the way back from a job.”
“Oh yeah,” Heyes nodded. “Yeah, that's a nice spot.”
“So, I just went there to pay my respects, you know,” Kid continued a little self-consciously. “I just felt like I needed to and to thank him for doing what we hadn't been able to do. I guess I was there for about half an hour, just taking in the peacefulness of the place and then I heard that high pitched screech from up above. I looked up and saw five bald eagles way up there, you know—just casually circling the area. One of them let out that screech again and I felt a shiver go through me.
“It was like, well almost like a tribute ya' know? Hank, then Charlie and Preacher, then Lobo and now finally, Wheat. Then one of them broke away from the group and flew off in another direction and I kinda thought that was odd. But now after what you say about Kyle's reaction, it does kinda make me wonder.....”
Heyes was smiling at him. “Gee, are you starting to get all sentimental on me here, Cousin?” he asked. “Starting to believe in signs?”
Curry laughed. “Naw,” he declined. “I never did go for that sort of stuff. It always seemed to me to be an awful lot of pressure to put on a bird. I figure he just got hungry and went off hunting. But still....” he shrugged. “It was weird.”
“Hmm, coincidence,” stated the forever cynic. “Still, nice to see the eagles like that, circling over Devil's Hole. Kind of a nice send-off for the boys.”
“How's Mike doing?” Heyes asked. “I wonder about him sometimes; running with Morrison is gonna get him killed one of these days.”
“No, he's fine,” Jed assured him. “He wasn't one of the deputies who got injured.”
“That's kind of a surprise,” Heyes commented. “considering how big he is, you'd think he'd make an easy target.”
“Yeah, but Wheat wasn't after anyone other than Morrison,” Kid explained. “The three deputies who were wounded were just accidental, you know. Jack got hit though, but he's gonna be alright. Broken arm, but he'll survive.”
“Oh that's good,” Heyes seemed relieved. Aside from the fight at the Jordan's ranch the day of their arrest, Morrison's deputies had always treated Heyes fairly well and he would have hated to hear that Wheat had actually killed one of them. “Although,” Heyes continued as he contemplated the situation. “if Wheat is still alive he better remain 'dead' or the law is really going to be after him with a vengeance now. They'll up his reward and then every lawman and bounty hunter will be trying to collect on it.”
“Yeah, and we both know how much fun that is,” Curry commented dryly. “If Wheat is still alive I'm hoping he'll do what I told him to do in the first place; get out of the territory and stay out!”
“He's not gonna do that, at least not permanently,” Heyes predicted. “Kyle's gonna be getting out of here soon. If anybody deserves an early release it's going to be him. I'll bet you my lucky coin that Wheat's gonna hang around and wait for him—join up again.”
“You still got your lucky coin, Heyes?”
“Well, no,” Heyes conceded. “but that's beside the point. It's the thought that counts.”
Heyes smiled then conveniently changed the subject. “So...any news from home?” Heyes asked with a hopeful glint to his eye.
“OH! Yeah! Jeez, how could I forget that!?” Curry brightened up. “Yeah, Karma had her foal. Beth wrote ya' a letter all about it. I left it with the guard out front there and hopefully you'll get it this afternoon.”
Heyes grinned. “Good! I'll look forward to reading about it.”
“Yeah. I'll leave it for Beth to fill ya' in. All's good though, everybody's fine.”
Heyes was still grinning. “Good. How's everyone else doing? Belle and Jesse are alright? And the girls?”
“Yeah, everyone's fine,” Jed assured him. “Jesse and Belle send their regards. Even Jay says 'hello'.”
Heyes actually laughed a little at that. “That's good. I guess he's getting pretty big now isn't he?”
“Yeah, he's growing alright,” Jed confirmed. “He's gonna be out there riding drag before too much longer.”
Heyes laughed again. “Better him than me!”
It was a relief to see his cousin smiling again. Heyes had been down for so long this last time that Curry had wondered if they were going to be able to bring him out of it. But Heyes was nothing if not resilient and he seemed to be making his way back to the surface. He still wasn't his normal high energy self, but at least he wasn't wallowing in despair anymore.
Curry had been afraid that the news about Wheat would bring his friend down again, but it didn't seem to have done that. Of course if Heyes was thinking that Wheat was still alive somewhere, somehow then he wouldn't be mourning his loss just yet anyways. Curry hoped that Heyes was right. He did have a point, the outlaw's body had not been found and Kid knew from their own experiences that stranger things had happened. Still, he wasn't holding out too much hope.
Kyle was the one who would be taking it the hardest and it might just be that he couldn't accept the loss of his friend and partner, at least not yet. It was a hard thing to do, accept the loss of a partner. The Kid had faced that possibility more than once and it never got any easier. It had only been sheer luck that he'd never had to accept that event as fact—at least not yet. Curry sighed to himself. Again; time would tell.
“Anything else happening?” Heyes interrupted Kid's musings. “What about Sam and Maribelle? Have they come to see Sister Julia yet?”
Kid's jaw dropped in surprise and he found himself speechless for a moment. He hadn't even intended to mention Sam to Heyes for fear of what his cousin's reaction would be, but then to have Heyes actually bring it up himself was totally unexpected. Made him think that maybe Kenny was right about Heyes finally making some progress.
“Ah, yeah...” Kid stammered. “Yeah, actually they're over talking with the Sister right now. They seemed to be getting along quite well when I left them to it. I have a feeling it's all gonna work out fine.”
“Good,” Heyes nodded. “It'll be a good break for one of those youngsters and I suppose Sam and Maribelle will do alright as parents. I'm hardly the one to be judgemental about that.”
“Yeah, well—it's just the way things worked out Heyes,” Curry commented. “for both of us.”
“Yeah. I suppose.”
“I'll keep ya' up to date on what happens. OH, but then you see Sister Julia more often than I do,” Kid observed. “She'll probably let ya' know.”
Kid sensed Heyes' mood starting to dip again.
“Ya' going to services again Heyes?”
“What about those new words?” Kid asked hopefully. “I haven't gotten any from you lately. Are you still doing that?”
Curry sighed. This was going to be harder than he thought.
“Why not? I thought you were enjoying that.”
“Well, yeah I was,” Heyes shifted a little uncomfortably. “I guess, I just started getting bored with it.”
“Doc Morin's keeping me busy though.”
“Oh!” Curry perked up. This sounded promising.
“He's been giving me some of the higher end medical books to read now and some of them are pretty challenging.” Heyes showed some enthusiasm for his topic. “Looking at strange diseases and conditions of the brain and all that. I never would have thought that the human body was so fragile and could have so many things go wrong with it. It kinda gives ya' a different slant on things, ya' know?”
Curry grinned. “Yeah. That's good. Nothing like another point of view!”
Heyes nodded with raised eyebrows. Then he changed the subject.
“How are Belle and Jesse? They doing alright?”
“Yeah, they're fine.”
“And J.J.? He's okay?”
“Yeah, they're all fine Heyes. Why do ya' keep asking?”
Heyes shrugged. “Ah, I've just been having weird dreams lately,” he admitted. “People I care about being pulled apart by ropes, or trampled by horses. I even had a train run me down the other night. It was weird! It was like, no matter where I ran or how many twists and turns I made, the tracks followed me and of course the train was following the tracks until I finally got pulled down under the engine.”
Kid grimaced. “All those trains we robbed coming back to haunt ya'.”
“Hmm, and doing a good job of it too,” Heyes agreed. “Ole' Mr. Davis is getting fed up with me screaming in the night. Kinda gets the other inmates upset you know. Can't have that.”
Jed turned serious. “Jeez Heyes, you having nightmares like that on a regular basis?”
Heyes shrugged again and looked at the empty space just above the Kid's left shoulder. “Yeah, well. Comes with the territory I suppose.” Then he smiled and looked Jed in the eye. “Don't worry about it Kid, I shouldn't have mentioned it. The Doc is gonna give me something to help me sleep, so—all's good.”
“Yeah,” Kid commented somewhat dubiously. “Still, I....”
“No Kid! Listen, I told ya'...don't worry about it!” Heyes insisted rather forcefully. “Geesh! Now you're gonna turn into a mother hen, aren't ya'? I shouldn't have said anything.”
The two men sat quietly for a few moments. Yeah, Heyes was definitely in a mood again. What a bronco ride—up and down. Jed just never knew who he was gonna get when he came for his visits, or even who he was gonna get within the same visit! Case in point; Heyes was grinning at him now, that old sparkle back in his eye.
“You and Beth staying honest?” he asked mischievously. “It's been awhile since.....”
“Yeah Heyes we have!” Jed cut him off. “It's important, we have to.”
“Okay,” Heyes conceded. “That's good I guess.”
“Well yeah,” Curry looked a little embarrassed. “That first time, well it just happened—but it shouldn't have. I should have been more in control and I'm gonna make sure it doesn't happen again! I didn't feel guilty about it right away, but as time went on and it really sank in what we had done, then yeah, I started to feel bad. After all that Jesse and Belle have done for us and that's how I thank them?That wasn't right.
“I donno Heyes, I think you and I are just so used to taking whatever we want without giving any thought to the consequences or how our actions might end up hurting other people that we just don't even think beyond the act itself. But then I did start to think about how Jesse would feel if he found out about that. He would have felt betrayed. And he would be right—it was a betrayal. He was trusting me and I blew it.
“Then I started thinking about what happened between you and Abi and how all it took was the two of you up in Devil's Hole over that weekend, and.....I got real worried then Heyes, I gotta admit. I was walking on eggshells for a good couple of months there just waiting for Jesse to come after me with the shotgun! Thank goodness nothing happened—but I'm sure not gonna put either one of us through that again!”
“Yeah,” Heyes commented sadly, his expression and mood dropping down into the deepest depths again.
“Aww Heyes, I'm sorry,” Jed was truly contrite. “I didn't mean to bring that up and throw it in your face. It's just....my situation brought it to mind is all.”
“Yeah, I know Kid. It's alright,” Heyes tried to brighten himself up. “What happened, happened. Nothing we can do about it now.”
“I know, but still.....” Kid sighed. “Abi doesn't blame you, ya' know?”
“You know she doesn't,” Kid insisted. “There's a lot more to it than that.”
“Yeah Kid, I know. You're right,” Heyes conceded. “and you're right about you and Beth too. Best to play it safe.” Then Heyes grinned, his dimples putting in an honest appearance. “And you are right about another thing! She is awfully young. She might come to her senses and realize that she don't want you after all!”
Kid sent him 'the look', but it was backed up with relief. If Heyes was teasing him about that then he was at least trying to pull himself up and be in better spirits.
“Thanks for your support there Heyes,” Jed threw back at him. “Always knew I could count on you to back me up.”
“Uh huh!” came the cheeky response.
Then Kid couldn't help it and he broke out laughing.
Sure enough when Heyes got back to his cell there was a letter sitting on his pillow waiting for him. He smiled in anticipation, looking forward to hearing news about his favourite girl and of course to hear things from Beth's joyous descriptions was always a treat. It was too nice a day to sit inside though, so Heyes snatched up the letter and made his way outside and into the yard.
He paused for a moment when he reached the bottom of the steps and took a quick look around, taking note of who was there and who wasn't. Ames and Kyle were walking around the parameter and minding their own business. MacKenzie was over by the fence, but no sign of the other two so that was maybe a good thing. Ohhh, Thompson. Ever since Heyes had broken his collar bone he'd been looking for any excuse to make Heyes' life miserable. Oh well, since when was that new? Heyes would just keep an eye on him.
He looked around to the bench that was in the little alcove under the steps and was relieved to see it unoccupied. He went over and sat down, getting comfortable and leaning into the corner while bringing one knee up to support his arm while he read the letter. Yeah. News from home was always a welcome treat and news about Karma only made it better.
(Heyes felt a slight twinge of disappointment at that address. Ever since the hearing both Beth and Bridget had started calling him by his legal name and though he didn't really mind, it just seemed like it was one more thing that had disappeared from his life. One more innocence lost.)
I know that Jed is going to be bringing this letter to you, so I'm sure he has already told you that Karma's second foal is on the ground. He promised me that he wouldn't say anymore than that though so I am going to carry on here on the assumption that he kept his word!
Karma had an easy time of it this time, probably because she had already been through it once before and knew what was going on this time. It was almost as though she was looking forward to her new foal and couldn't wait to push him out into the world so that she could meet him!
Oh yes!! Papa was right! She did have a colt this time! And what a big beautiful boy he is! He's almost an exact copy of his mama! He's that same dark liver chestnut, which I know is not that common a colour because I sure don't see it very often—and he has her same lovely white socks on his back feet. The only real difference is that he has a full (but not too wide) blaze on his face, whereas, Karma has the star and snip.
He really is gorgeous, with all the quality that Daisy had promised and Oh! You should see Papa! He was so thrilled to finally get his colt! He hasn't stop grinning from that day to this! I can't wait for you to see him, Hannibal as I'm sure you'll be impressed—and with Daisy too of course! She is getting to be quite the handful and is really giving Sam a learning experience in getting her to mind her manners. It's not that she's mean, or stubborn and certainly not stupid! But she has a very ironic sense of humour and tries to pull one over on Sam whenever the opportunity presents itself!
Not to brag or anything (well, maybe a little) but she is totally different with me and will do anything I ask her to so long as I ask her in a way that she understands. That is so often the challenge, isn't it? With animals, it's not that they're stupid or that they don't want to please you, it's just that it's up to us to learn how to ask them and that's where things can get difficult.
Perhaps if Sam asked her differently, he might get a better response from her, but I have no idea what 'different' is. Hmm, I'll have to do some research on that! But then Daisy and I do have a special bond, much like you and Karma do. Karma will let others handle her and ride her and I know she does like me as well, but she will always be your horse.
Jed tells me that Sam and Maribelle are thinking of adopting one of the children at the orphanage and I think that is a wonderful idea. They were both so heartbroken over not being able to have children of their own and once Jed mentioned it, it seemed like such an obvious solution to their predicament. Jed even kind of hinted that once we get married that, as well as having our own (God willing) perhaps we could look into adopting a child as well. I suppose he kind of figures that since he grew up in an orphanage and knows what its like to not have family, well it would be giving something back, wouldn't it? I'm all for it. Why not?
Speaking of children, Jay is really becoming quite his own man now. He has somewhere gotten the idea that he runs things around here and is becoming more and more obstinate in demanding his own way! He's also very verbal! I have no idea where he gets that from! Since he has learned how to talk he just doesn't shut up! Of course Jed comments that it reminds him of someone else he knows and I suppose it doesn't take much of an imagination to guess to whom he is referring!!
Actually Jay and Nathan get along very well and I expect they will grow up to be very close friends. I mean they are very close in age after all and Momma has already given Tricia many of the cloths that Jay has grown out of. It's quite funny actually to see little Nathan trying so hard to keep up with Jay and wearing the same cute little outfits that Jay was wearing himself only a few months ago. A real reminder as to how quickly they grow up!
But then look at how quickly Daisy is growing up! It only seems like yesterday that she was a cute little cream puff, no bigger than our new colt and now she is almost as tall as her momma. I wish you could see them Joshua—I mean Hannibal; they both carry Karma's stamp on them which of course means that they are very impressive.
I do hope you can come home soon. Another seven years just seems like such a long time to wait—oh I mean for you to have to be in that horrid place for seven more years, not that seven years is a long time to wait for my wedding! Of course it is a long time to wait—but that's not what I meant—oh you know what I mean! We all just miss you so much and we want you to come home.
I better close off now. Momma sends her best and tells you to stay safe. I'm hoping that Jed will be agreeable to me and Clementine coming out for another visit soon. It would be so nice to see you again. Take care of yourself.
With much love,
Heyes sighed and leaned back against the wall. It was always bitter/sweet getting letters from home.
He looked forward to them and would be devastated if they stopped coming, but it still made him feel homesick—that life was just passing him by.
He looked around at his surroundings and wondered just how much longer he would be having to call this place 'home'. Oh damn! Thompson was looking at him. That guard took the broken collar bone incident far too personally and now, adding to that what had happened to Morrison, well Heyes couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive.
The inmate casually got to his feet and headed back indoors. The warm afternoon had suddenly turned quite chilly.
To Be Continued
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Hopeless Chapter twenty-nine Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:41 am|| |
Wow, you really showed a different side of Wheat, with his attack on Morrison. Heyes is really starting to implode. He has nothing to live for and his existence is miserable. I weas going to sto[p reading now, but I have to fit in another chapter.
|Subject: Re: Hopeless Chapter twenty-nine || |
Hopeless Chapter twenty-nine