Broken Chapter thirty-one
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Broken Chapter thirty-one Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:29 pm|| |
Heyes was lying on his back in the summer grasses, the bright glorious sun shining down on him and warming him from the outside inwards. He couldn't believe how comfortable he was and how long it had been since he'd felt this good. There was a soft breeze whishing through the long green blades of grass and he could hear them rustling and feel them brushing against his ears. Flying insects were buzzing around him and occasionally he would take a lazy swat at them, but on the most part he just accepted them as part of this peaceful package.
He was smiling; his eyes half closed against the bright shafts of sunlight, his nose breathing in the soft fragrance of wild flowers that were growing all around him—and yes! The soothing sound of a creek gurgling by mingling with the sound of the leaves in the trees gently dancing to their own tune of this glorious summer day.
Then Heyes felt a slight disturbance in the air above him and he opened his eyes against the sunlight and could see the silhouette of a man standing over him and blocking out the orb of yellow light.
Heyes held up his right hand to his forehead, trying to shield his eyes from the sunlight in order to get a clearer view of this man. The voice sounded vaguely familiar but he just couldn't make out his features.
“Who is that?” Heyes asked him.
The man shifted a little bit so that the sun was not directly behind him and then Heyes grinned from dimple to dimple, pure happiness emanating from his very being.
“Doc!” Heyes greeted his friend. Then he looked confused. “But....I thought you were dead. What are you doing here?”
“I'm here to help you on your way, if needs be,” came the ambiguous answer.
“Help me on my way?” Heyes questioned. “I'm not going anywhere.”
Doc sat down beside Heyes in the grass, and Heyes propped himself up on his elbows. For the first time since he had arrived, Heyes took a quiet look around and realized that he didn't recognize the landscape, nor could he recall how he got here.
“What is this place?” he asked. “Where am I?”
“In between for now,” came back another non-informative answer. “I was sent here to help you if you need it. And to reassure you.”
Heyes' brow creased. “Reassure me about what?”
“That you have nothing to be afraid of.”
“What's there to be afraid of here?”
Heyes sighed in frustration; this conversation was going nowhere. Morin smiled.
“I suppose I should explain myself a little bit better than this.”
“Yeah Doc, that would help!” Heyes agreed with a dry edge to his tone.
“I was sent here to give you assurance and to help you on your journey,” the Doc repeated. “Death is nothing to fear Heyes—nothing bad is going to happen to you here.”
Heyes sat up completely now, suddenly feeling concerned.
“So....you are dead?”
“Yeah, shit!” Morin complained, his mortal personality suddenly bursting through . “I tried to deny it at first, couldn't believe that bastard actually did it! But yeah, I am what you call deceased.”
Heyes looked around again and then back to his friend with a creased brow, feeling some trepidation. “So does that mean that I'm....dead?”
“No,” came the flat response. “but you are dying. It won't be long now.”
“Oh...well....” Heyes looked around again with even more trepidation. “So...is this heaven, or....that other place?”
“Which do you want it to be?”
Heyes gave a dimpled smile and shrugged a little self-consciously.
“Well of course, I'd prefer heaven, but....”
“Then it's heaven.”
Heyes was confused again.
“Just like that?” he questioned. “That easy? But I thought....”
“I told you that you didn't have to fear death. There's no judgement here. We all go to live our lives out on Earth so that we can experience different things. We all make mistakes, it's expected. Actually we're supposed to make mistakes so that we can learn from them and grow and become better beings. You actually did very well Heyes. You made a lot of mistakes.”
“Oh. Yeah, ahh thanks.”
“Course I'm hardly in a position to comment,” Morin admitted, actually looking a little ashamed of his mortal behaviour. “Goodness knows I made plenty of mistakes myself.” Then he sighed, and continued on in a long suffering tone as though repeating a lesson that had been repeated to him over and over again. “The biggest thing ya' havta learn to do is not take things that happen on Earth very seriously, ya' can't take it personally, ya' know? Everybody has their lessons to learn and their own journey to travel so ya' can't hold grudges. But God dammit, that Carson! That fxxxing pxxxk—have I said that before?”
“Yeah Doc, ya' have.”
“Oh well....well, I still mean it!” Doc was starting to get a little riled now. “God damn that bastard! I still can't believe that he came into the infirmary and suffocated me! Fxxk! I know my life wasn't much—but it was mine, damn it! He had no right to come in there and take it!” Then Morin took a deep sigh and forced himself to calm down. “But, I'm not suppose to hold a grudge. Carson's got his own mistakes to make—his own lessons to learn so....But GOD DAMMIT! That fxxxing pxxxk....!
“Ah, Doc. Should you really be talking like that here?”
“Talking like what?”
“Oh. Never mind,” Heyes sat quietly for a moment, trying to take all this information in. “So Carson killed ya'? I thought it was Boeman.”
“Oh fxxk no,” Doc disclaimed. “That Boeman's useless. He couldn't even wipe his own butt without Carson giving him directions.”
“Oh.” Heyes sat quietly again, getting used to all these new concepts. “So I'm dying huh?”
“Oh yeah. You didn't really think that Mitchell was going to let you out did you?”
“Oh no,” Heyes answered flatly. “As soon as they dragged me into the dark cell I knew what Mitchell had in mind. I suppose I just thought that Kenny or Sister Julia or somebody would come and get me out. You know, the usual 'rescued in the nick of time', that sort of thing.”
“Hmmmm, not likely.”
“So...while we're sitting around waiting for your demise, is there anything you would like?”
“Anything I would like?” Heyes questioned. “What do ya' mean?”
“Ohh, they've got some real nice scotch whiskey here—top shelf! And what's better is that you can drink as much as you want and you'll only get as drunk as you like. Don't wake up with a hangover either. Course, we don't really sleep here so kinda hard to wake up with a hangover, but you know what I mean.”
“Yeah okay,” Heyes responded with just a touch of scepticism. “I don't really want any scotch...sorry.” This to the indignant look that was thrown his way. He smiled. “I sure wouldn't say 'no' to a nice cold glass of beer though.”
“There ya' go.”
Heyes was handed a large mug of frothy beer, so cold that even the glass was covered in frost. Heyes took a tentative sip and his brows went up in surprise. Then he snuggled in and closing his eyes appreciatively he took a long, deep draft. When he finally came up for air the glass was half empty and he sighed contentedly as he wiped a sleeve across his mouth to clean off the foam moustache.
It was then that he realized that he was wearing his dark blue shirt again. He looked closer and sure enough he was also wearing his tan trousers and boots. The last time he had seen these specific articles of clothing they had been covered in blood and being taken away to be burned. He smiled. It felt so good to be back in his familiar wardrobe.
Then he jumped, nearly dropping his mug of beer. It was full again—right to the brim! When did that happen? He glanced over to his companion who was watching Heyes and grinning at the young man's discomposure.
“Pretty neat, huh?”
“Yeah, I'll say!” Heyes agreed. “All I can drink, huh?”
“Yup! Anything else you'd like?”
Heyes became reflective, considering his options.
“I sure have missed real food.” he admitted. “I'd love a nice steak—medium rare. With whole boiled onions and—oh! Those wild mushrooms Kid always seemed to be able to find. Those were great, fried up with the steak. Yeah....”
Next thing Heyes knew he was still outside, in that meadow, but he was sitting at a table with a red and white checkered cloth draped over it. There was a pitcher of cold beer and a bottle of whiskey sitting in the center of it and he and the Doc each had a large plate of steak set before them.
Heyes grinned, his mouth starting to water in anticipation. He picked up the knife and fork and was about to dig into the steak when a thought suddenly occurred to him and he looked up, concerned.
“Ahh, shouldn't we say 'grace' or something?”
“Do you want to?”
“Well, I donno. Aren't we supposed to?”
“It's up to you.”
Heyes considered it for a moment and then grinned like a little boy who had gotten away with stealing a pie from a window ledge.
“I never did before unless I was forced to, so....no I don't want to.”
Doc smiled and with a shrug gestured over to Heyes' steak.
“Then dig in!”
Heyes' dimples deepened and he attacked his meal with an anticipation that was not disappointed.
Half an hour later, after apple pie and two cups of good strong coffee Heyes leaned back contentedly, feeling comfortably full but not stuffed.
“You can have another if you want,” the Doc offered.
“Oh no, I don't think I should eat another,” Heyes wisely decided. “I'm feeling just right now.”
“You can eat as much as you want to Heyes. You'll never feel fuller than you do right now,” He smiled with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “and you never have to worry about gaining weight either.”
Heyes laughed. “No, I'm fine,” he said. “I never was one to eat a lot anyways.”
“Suit yourself,” he commented as he reached for another piece of pie with ice-cream.
Heyes smiled lazily, his eyes half closed while he soaked in this wonderful place. This must be heaven, he thought to himself, because no other place could be this perfect. He felt as though he could just stay here forever. Yeah—death was good.
“How come you know so much about this place Doc?” Heyes asked, just out of mild curiosity. “I mean you only just got here yourself.”
Morin shook his head over a mouthful of pie. Then he swallowed before he could answer.
“No no,” he finally got out. “Time has no meaning here. As far as you're concerned, I just died the other day, but from my perspective I've been here for one of your lifetimes. I'm still having a hard time forgiving that son of a.....Oh! No, never mind. I'll be moving on soon, Heyes.”
But then he frowned as another thought came to him and he sat up again, suddenly filled with concern. Morin sent him a questioning look.
“What's the matter.”
“Kid,” Heyes announced, suddenly looking very worried. “Ohh, poor Kid—this is going to devastate him, Doc. He's tried so hard to get me released and now I'm just gonna up and die in the dark cell on him. Ohh no.” Heyes sat back again, not with contentment this time, but with remorse. “Is there some way I can get a message to him? Let him know not to feel bad—that this is what I wanted. That he doesn't have to spend the rest of his life wondering, and feeling guilty.”
Morin shook his head regretfully, feeling Heyes' concern and understanding his distress.
“No, Heyes. It's pretty hard to get a message through like that.”
“There's gotta be some way I can let him know,” Heyes insisted. “I hate to think of him carrying this regret with him for the rest of his life.”
Morin shrugged. “If that's a burden he has chosen to take on in this life then that's up to him,” he explained. “We all have burdens that we take on in our lives Heyes. Over coming them is what makes us stronger.”
“Yeah, I can understand that Doc, but....”
“Nope,” Morin shook his head. “If this is something he has chosen to take on, then it'll be up to him how he deals with it.”
Heyes slumped with a dejected sigh. “It's just not right. He shouldn't have to live with that.”
“There is no right or wrong Heyes,” Morin pointed out. “just learning and growing, or not. That's all.”
Heyes sat quietly then, not quite sure if he agreed with that or not. It all sounded very neat and tidy, but Heyes wondered if it was really that easy. Poor Kid; this was going to be so hard on him.
Then, quite unexpectedly he heard a horse whinnying out in the meadow. Heyes sat up straighter and looked around with keen interest. Then he gasped a breath and was on his feet in an instant as his lovely liver chestnut mare came trotting over to him.
“Karma!” he greeted her, grinning from ear to ear. “My God, it's Karma! Hello my beautiful girl!”
She nickered as she trotted to him, nodding her head in joyous greeting. His hands were instantly on her face, rubbing her forehead and scratching her ears. She tucked in to him, nibbling on the buttons on his shirt. He laughed—oh how he'd missed her!
She rubbed her forelock against his chest a couple of times and then draping her elegant neck over his shoulders, she tucked her head and pulled her favourite human into a horse hug. Heyes allowed himself to be pushed into her chest and he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and was swallowed up by her. He closed his eyes in ecstasy, and smiling gently he leaned his face against her warm soft hide and took in her wonderful horse scent.
“Karma, my beautiful girl.”
Then suddenly a thought struck him and a shiver of fear trickled down his spine. He pushed himself away from his mare and looked back at the Doc.
“But why is she here?” he asked, full of concern. “Is she dead? Did something happen to her?”
“No Heyes, she's not dead. The Karma you know and love is still at the Double J.”
“Well then, how could she be here if she's not dead?”
“This is your hallucination Heyes. You can have anyone here you want.”
“My folks?” It came out as a frightened whisper, as though saying it too loud might make it not be possible.
“Sure, eventually. But they've moved on Heyes, and remember we're still waiting for you. But once you're totally here and settled, then yeah you can see your folks.”
Then Heyes became more thoughtful and a question came to his mind that he was too afraid to ask, but the Doc seemed to know what it was anyways.
“Yes them too,” he assured his young friend.
Heyes looked over at him and smiled sadly. “They were both so young; just infants. Why did they have to die?”
“Every life, no matter how long or short has a purpose.”
Heyes snorted cynically. “What possible purpose could such short lives have? They barely had a chance to live.”
Morin shrugged. “They were there to teach—not learn.”
Heyes looked confused and shook his head. “Teach what?”
“How to love. How to lose love.” Then added quietly; “How to forgive. Not only others, but ourselves as well.”
Their eyes met for a moment, then Heyes smiled sadly and nodded in acquiescence.
Morin smiled and tried to lighten the mood a little bit. “It won't be long now,” he surmised. “I'm actually surprised that you're still alive down there—you must he quite strong. In the meantime, why don't you take Karma for a ride?”
Heyes perked up.
“What?! Oh!” Heyes looked back to his mare to find her suddenly all tacked up and ready to go for a gallop.
He grinned foolishly and gathering up the reins he moved towards the saddle. Then he saw his old black hat sitting there, hooked over the saddle horn. His dimples deepened even more as he picked up the piece of felt with silver trimming as though it were a priceless artifact that needed to be handled with care.
He lifted the hat with great reverence and brought it towards his head. By force of habit he pushed his long bangs back off of his forehead and placed the hat down upon his crown. Then suddenly he realized that he had actually pushed back his bangs! His hair was back! When did that happen!? He hadn't noticed! Death was getting better and better! Why had he fought against it for so long?
Still grinning, he put his foot in the stirrup and swung aboard his horse. Karma tossed her head in anticipation and started to prance a little dance. Heyes laughed out loud, and giving her neck a pat he turned her head towards the open meadow and touched his heel to her barrel! She bucked playfully and then they were off at a full gallop across the grasslands.
Ohh! This was wonderful, this was glorious! It was just as he had remembered it. The excitement of it, the thrill of just that little bit of danger! He could feel her muscles bunching and stretching, bunching and stretching, feel the power of her strides as she flew them across the land as though it were a green sky and she was an eagle.
They seemed to run on forever, as though Karma could never tire and they'd never have to stop. Never have to go back. Never go back. Never go back. Then suddenly there was a loud crack like thunder and the skies had suddenly turned to black and there were lights coming at him like torches in the night, burning his eyes and sending daggers of agony through his optic nerve and into his brain.
Karma was gone and Heyes was lying in the grass again, but it wasn't warm and pleasant this time. It was cold and the wind was roaring in his ears and his back was on fire and all he knew was pain!
“WHAT'S HAPPENING!?” he yelled in a panic.
“YOU'RE BEING PULLED BACK!”
“NO! NO! I don't want to go back! STOP THEM! PLEASE!”
“I can't stop them! They're pulling you back—you have to go! But don't worry; we'll be here when you're ready.”
“I'm ready now! I don't want to go back....I don't want to....”
And then he was spinning and the world where he had been so happy was crumbling and falling away or was he the one falling away? And the blackness surrounded him and those damn torches were burning daggers into his eyes and he was so cold and his back felt like someone was taking a knife and slicing gashes into it and the pain filled his mind and that's all he knew.
Then he was being dragged, his arms pulling his protesting body across a cold and hard surface and he shut his eyes tight against the torch light that was punching through the blackness and he groaned.
“No....don't want to...go back...”
“Don't worry Heyes,” he heard Kenny's voice coming from a great distance as though it were floating across a lake, a lake that was shrouded in blackness. “You'll never go back to the dark cell again if I have anything to do with it.”
“Jeez, look at his back!” came Pearson's voice from the opposite side of the lake. “What a mess! Mitchell really did a number on him this time—I'm surprised he's still alive.”
“No....Karma...don't want to....”
“Karma?” asked Kenny. “What's that?”
“I think that's the name of his horse.”
“His horse!?” Kenny exclaimed, then nodded knowingly. “That's right; she often got mentioned in the letters he received.”
“Yeah. And when those friends of his came to visit, they would often talk about her. Seems to be important to him.”
“Karma steaks?” Pearson questioned. “What, is he eating his horse now?”
“He's not making any sense,” Kenny surmised. “He's delirious. We're almost to the infirmary—hang on Heyes! We'll get ya' looked after. We'll pull ya' through this....”
Kenny hadn't wasted any time the next morning. He wasn't feeling his best after having drunk himself to sleep and then awakening in the wee hours, still sitting on the back porch and shivering. He'd quickly returned to bed and trying not to disturb his wife, but craving the warmth of her body none the less, he had settled in under the blankets and quickly fallen back to sleep.
He had caught the early morning train to Cheyenne, and upon reaching that thriving metropolis had instantly hired a cab and made his way to the government buildings. It had taken a couple of miss directions and some backtracking before he finally found his way to the Ministry of Penal Affairs. He began to recognize the hallways that he had traversed a few months back when he had been here for the Hearing and soon he made his way unerringly to the reception area for the offices.
“Good morning,” he addressed the secretary. “I'm Ken Reece. I'm hoping that Mr. Ludlow is expecting me.”
“Oh! Mr. Reece!” the secretary responded. “Yes, ah hum. Mr. Ludlow only just received your telegram. Would it be possible for you to come back later this afternoon?”
Kenny felt a twinge of irritation but forced himself to remain professional. “No, I'm afraid not,” he told the gentleman seated before him. “This is a matter of utmost importance. A man's life hangs in the balance. I need to see him immediately—it won't take long.”
“Hmm,” came the sceptical reply. “Well, just a moment. I'll see if he can fit you in. He's a busy man you know.”
The secretary stood up and moved to the closed door to the right of reception. He knocked discreetly and then upon hearing acknowledgement from inside he opened the door and slipped through, closing it again behind him.
Kenny sighed, partly in impatient irritation and partly to try and calm his nerves. He knew about handling bureaucrats and he knew that he couldn't go in there all angry and stressed out. He needed to calm down and be rational if he was to get the response that he was hoping for.
Despite his efforts he did start to pace just a little bit, but fortunately the secretary returned fairly quickly. He was looking a little put out at having his opinion overturned, however he showed the guard into the office anyways and shut the door as he left.
“Mr. Reece,” Ludlow stood up and shook his hand. “Please, have a seat. I realize your telegram did suggest that your visit was important, but really—is it so urgent that it could not have waited a few hours?”
“Yes Mr. Ludlow it is,” Kenny insisted. “In fact, if there had been a train coming this way last night I would have pulled you our of your bed in order to get action on this situation as soon as possible.”
“Ah,” Mr. Ludlow stated dryly. “Fortunately the train schedule is more accommodating for those of us who like to sleep through the night. So, what is so urgent Mr. Reece? Is it to do with our previous situation?”
“Yes sir it is,” Kenny admitted. “Warden Mitchell has basically sentenced Mr. Heyes to death without any real evidence to prove that he is actually guilty of anything. In fact I personally know that in at least one of the accusations, Mr. Heyes is not guilty and I strongly suspect that the same is true of the other accusation as well. Mr. Mitchell however is refusing to accept my word on this and Mr. Heyes was unduly punished and is, as we speak, locked up in the dark cell to die. I need you to overturn Mr. Mitchell's decision in this matter, at least until Mr. Heyes' guilt can be proved or disproved.”
Mr. Ludlow was sitting back with his fingers laced under his chin. He listened to this statement with some consternation and sat for a few moments to consider.
“Normally we do not interfere with a warden's decisions when it comes to punishing the inmates in their custody,” Ludlow commented. “Although in this case I am aware that Mr. Mitchell is already under review for his practices, especially—oddly enough, where Mr. Heyes is concerned. Still, this is not a decision to be made lightly. If you would please fill me in on the circumstances surrounding this new situation, perhaps that will assist me in making a decision about it.”
“Yes sir,” Kenny agreed. He sighed,collecting his thoughts and then began to relate his account of the prison break and its aftermath. “For me, it all started when I arrived at the infirmary to escort Heyes back to the main prison area for supper.....”
Throughout this narrative Mr. Ludlow continued to sit back in his chair and listen intently, occasionally stopping the guard and asking him to repeat or elaborate certain details, but on the most part simply nodded or grunted as he took in the narrative.
“.....so not only was Heyes just as much a hostage in this situation as I was, but he saved my life. And though I did not witness it, I know that Heyes liked and respected Dr. Morin and that he was no more likely to kill him as he would be to kill his own partner. Therefore, Mr. Ludlow I feel that it is imperative that this office intervene as soon as possible, before it is too late.” Then quietly, he added; “If it isn't already too late.”
Mr. Ludlow sat quietly for another few minutes, which seemed like an eternity to Kenny. Then he nodded his head and sat up straight again.
“Yes, Mr. Reece. I believe I agree with you,” Ludlow conceded. “I'm not saying I completely agree with you on Mr. Heyes' total innocence in this case, but there is enough of a doubt to warrant looking into it further before the man is arbitrarily executed.”
“Yes! Thank you sir.” Kenny felt weak with relief and was silently thankful that he was already sitting down. “That's all I ask; that this situation gets looked into more closely before anyone else ends up dying for nothing.”
“Hmm,” Ludlow nodded. “I cannot go myself, but I will inform Mr. Dalton to meet you at the station for the evening train heading back to Laramie.” Then he furrowed his brow in indecision. “It was my thought to send a telegram to Mr. Mitchell to inform him of Mr. Dalton's arrival and to strongly suggest that he remove Mr. Heyes from the dark cell until this matter can be resolved. But now it occurs to me that perhaps that would not be a good idea. My initial intent of course, was to get Mr. Heyes out of the dark cell as soon as possible and over to the infirmary for the medical attention he is obviously in need of. But now I fear that it might just have the exact opposite effect, that it might indeed hasten his demise instead.”
He sat and pondered this dilemma for a moment, knowing that either decision could prove fatal for the incarcerated man.
“No. I won't send a telegram,” Ludlow quickly decided. “No need to give Mr. Mitchell a heads up about this. Let us just hope that Mr. Heyes is still alive when you return.”
“Yes, Mr. Ludlow, let us hope so,” Kenny agreed. Then he stood up and the two men shook hands. “Thank you sir. I will be on the platform to meet Mr. Dalton when the train arrives. Again, thank you.”
“Uh huh. Understand that Mr. Mitchell is still warden of the prison, Mr. Reece,” Ludlow pointed out. “Until there can be a review of this whole situation, he will continue to hold that station and in all matters, be treated with respect. Do you understand? We cannot set a precedence here for guards ignoring protocol and running to the board over every little disagreement and expect instant restitution. The line of command must be respected. Do I make myself clear Mr. Reece?”
“Yes sir,” Reece accepted that with just a hint of disappointment. “I understand sir.”
“Fine. Good day.”
That same morning, Jed Curry had ridden the buckboard into town along with Sam and Todd Jefferies in order to help pick up supplies and tend to errands that had been running a little bit behind schedule.
Todd and Carol were settling in fairly well at their new home, although there had been the usual growing pains and stresses that could be expected of a situation such as this one. Carol had actually taken an instant liking to the matron of the household and had started referring to her as 'Grandma' much sooner than she was comfortable in calling her new parents 'Ma and Pa'. But it did eventually come together.
The younger Todd settled in right away and followed his 'father' around everywhere like a hound dog on a scent. So, that being the case, when it came time to make the supply run into town for the Double J, Todd had pleaded on being able to come along and 'help', especially if his Uncle Jed was going to be there as well.
So the new family gradually settled in and established the pecking order quickly enough. Carol soon established herself as an excellent artist and avid reader and had a connection to animals that went beyond the normal attraction that most children have for them. She and Beth, though quite different in ages, soon became good friends and often spent their summer days, after chores, riding the open countryside of the ranch, telling stories and comparing notes.
But that was still to come. On this particular day in mid-summer Carol and Beth were still just newly acquainted and Todd was still hungry for his new father's attention. Things were meshing though, and riding into town in the back of the buckboard, Todd sat on his knees excitedly drinking in all the noise and activity of the thriving Brookswood with a smile on his face that just wouldn't quit.
Sam pulled the horses up in front of the mercantile and the men parted company to pursue their own errands with intentions of meeting up again in an hour's time to head back to the ranch.
As luck would have it, Jed's first stop was at the telegraph office. This had become routine over the years since Jed had learned to be on the lookout of messages from various different people. Lom, Abi, Kenny, Steven and even Big Mac would often have news or requests or just sending enquiries themselves as to the state of events and Jed liked to try and at least stay on top of these things.
On this particular morning however, the telegram that was waiting for him from Kenny sent a chill down his spine and knocked the air from his lungs in less time than it took him to read it. Jed cursed under his breath and made a run for the door, leaving a rather surprised Clayt staring after him and wondering what the emergency was THIS time. Then he just shrugged his shoulders and went back to his own business. It was probably the same emergency as all the OTHER times and sooner or later he would know all the details anyways.
Sam looked up from helping Todd helping him just in time to see Jed go running down the street and heading towards what appeared to be the doctor's house. Sam looked around to see if there was anybody chasing Jed, which, when considering the man's history wasn't beyond the realm of possibility but no; nobody was. The street was actually fairly quiet. There was no crowd gathering to suggest an incident, no yelling or crying to indicate someone in trouble or in need of a doctor. All seemed normal. Hmm.
“What's the matter with Uncle Jed?” Todd asked with some concern.
“I donno,” his father answered him. “I wouldn't worry about it just yet though. Mr. Curry can be a bit flighty sometimes, I'm sure it will work itself out.”
“Why do you still call him Mr. Curry?”
Sam stopped loading the bags of grain and thought about that for a moment. “I donno,” he admitted. “I guess it just started out that way and I never thought to change it.”
“He calls you 'Sam',” came back a child's logic. “You should be calling him 'Jed'.”
This was Todd's new father, after all. Of course he would be on an equal level with the other man. He didn't seem to mind Todd calling him Uncle Jed. Of course, Todd had never asked permission, he'd just done it—it had seemed like the natural progression of things.
Sam looked down at his son and realized that the child was quite right. How could he expect Mr. Heyes or Mr. Curry to show him respect as an equal, if he kept them up on that pedestal? Hmm, it suddenly occurred to him that he and his wife weren't going to be the only ones doing the teaching here. They were going to be the students in this family unit just as much as their two new children were going to be.
Jed came running in to the Gibson's kitchen, all stressed out and breathless and instantly sent the household into an uproar. Tricia had Nathan in his high chair, trying to get him to eat just a few mouthful's of oatmeal when the front door had come flying open with a bang causing both the inhabitants to jump in surprise.
Nathan started crying, and then angry at being startled like that instantly began throwing oatmeal onto the floor and into his mother's lap. Tricia was standing up in an instant, trying to avoid most of the food coming her way and quickly grabbed for a wash cloth. Jed came up short, suddenly realizing his rude intrusion and began to apologize.
“Oh Tricia! I'm sorry. Here, ahh, can I help?”
“No Jed. I think you've done enough, thank you.”
Nathan was starting to calm down, but was sending Jed some nasty looks while he allowed his mother to wipe off his hands and face and then set him down on the floor to go about his business of playing with his toys.
“What's the matter Jed?” she asked in a long suffering tone while she began to clean up the mess on the table.
“Is David here?” Jed asked, starting to become agitated again.
“Well, no Jed,” she told him. “You know he does his morning rounds at this time. He's got to see Mr. Cowhig with the broken leg, and Tom Lancy who got into the poison ivy and then there's...”
“Yeah, yeah okay Trich. I get the point,” Jed cut her off, feeling frustrated. “It's just that I got this telegram from Kenny telling me to get over to the prison right away and bring a doctor with me! So you know what that means!”
Trisha stood up straight and looked at him. “No I don't. What does that mean?”
“Well it means that something has happened to Heyes!” he explained as though it should be the most obvious thing in the world. “and that he needs me to come and to bring a doctor with me!”
“Don't they have a doctor there already?” Trisha asked quite reasonably.
“So why do they need David?”
“Well, I don't know....but he just says....'Come now! Bring doctor!' I mean....what else could it mean!?”
“I don't know Jed,” she smiled though she was tired. “I suppose.”
“When will he be back?”
“He's usually back for lunch,” she said. “You know that.”
“Lunch!? That's two or three hours from now!”
“Yes it is.”
“But we've gotta go now!”
“Jed, calm down. Have a cup of coffee.”
“You know the next train for Laramie doesn't leave here until later tonight,” Tricia reminded him. “So you can't leave before then anyways.”
“Oh yeah.” Jed ran his hands through his curls and started to pace. “There's gotta be another way. I know! We'll ride in to Denver and catch the stagecoach from there!”
“And you'll arrive in Laramie twelve hours after the train does,” Trich calmly pointed out. “Try to relax Jed. Send a telegram to Kenny letting him know that you received the message and that you'll be there as soon as possible. Then you and David can catch the train this evening and be on your way. Now sit down and I'll join you in a cup of coffee. I'll let David know when he comes home for lunch so after you've calmed down a little bit you can just carry on with your day and be ready to go tonight.”
Jed sighed in frustration, but now that he had settled his mind a little bit, he realized that Tricia was right and that there was really nothing for it. He nodded acquiesce and sat down to accept the cup and try to settle his nerves.
Ten minutes into their visit there came a soft knocking on the front door and a woman's voice calling to them.
“Hello Tricia! Anybody home?”
“Oh yes! Randi, come in!” Tricia beckoned her.
Jed instantly stood up to greet the newcomer. A young woman, just a bit older than Tricia, but very similar in type and colouring came into the kitchen and then smiled in surprise at Tricia entertaining a man in her home, without her husband present. Tricia smiled at the look she got.
“Miranda,” she began, pointedly. “I would like you to meet mine and David's friend; Jed Curry.”
“Jed, this is my cousin Miranda.”
“How do you do Miss. I'm pleased to meet you.”
“Yes,” she smiled at him. “And it's Ma'am actually.”
“Well, I am a widow, so....”
“Randi, stop putting Jed on edge,” Tricia told her with a roll of her eyes. “I've had a hard enough time getting him to calm down as it is.”
Miranda smiled, her dark eyes sparkling. “Yes. I'm sorry Mr. Curry,” she apologized sincerely. “I do have a terrible habit of teasing people before they've even had the chance to get to know me.”
“Well that's alright Ma'am,” Jed answered her. “Actually I'm kinda used to that.”
“Join us for a coffee?” Tricia asked her cousin.
“Certainly,” she agreed and everyone sat down at the table again while Tricia poured her a cup and replenished the ones already on the table.
“So how long do you intend to stay in town Ma'am?” Jed asked by way of conversation.
“Oh, please call me Miranda....or Randi...or Randa...or Tricia's cousin, or that crazy woman down the road...or...”
“Randa! Stop it,” Tricia reprimanded her, but smiling all the same. “You're going to give Jed here the wrong impression.”
Jed was grinning. He wasn't quite sure yet, but he thought he liked her.
“Well you can call me Jed...or Jedidiah...or Curry, or Kid...or Thaddeus....or Jones....”
“Oh please!” Tricia complained.
“Anyway, to answer your question 'Jed'; I don't really know yet,” Randa answered him. “Certainly through the summer and then after that, well I'll see how I fit in here. It seems a nice enough town.”
“Yes, Miranda it is a nice town,” Jed assured her. “My partner and I came by for a visit five years ago and now I call the place 'home'.”
Miranda smiled. “That is reassuring,” she admitted. “Hopefully I'll find it just as welcoming.”
“Yes ma'am,” Then he smiled over at his friend and pushed the chair back to stand up. “Tricia, thank you for the coffee. I think I feel better now.”
“Good,” she said. “Don't worry Jed; I'll tell David as soon as I see him. Everything will be alright, you'll see.”
“Hmm,” Jed wasn't feeling quite as confident of that as Tricia seemed to be. “I best be gettin' on with the errands. Can't be leaving Sam to do it all. Miranda, it was nice to meet you. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again.”
“Yes Jed,” she smiled at him. “It was nice to meet you too. Goodbye.”
After Jed was well and truly gone, the two ladies locked eyes and then both broke up laughing.
“Oh my goodness!” Miranda exclaimed, putting one hand on her chest and theatrically fanning her face with the other. “He is far cuter than the pictures in the newspapers depict! What a waste if they'd actually hanged him!”
“Yes, Jed certainly can turn a lady's head,” Tricia agreed. “Half the time I don't even think he's aware of it.”
“It's those eyes,” Randa stated confidently. “A black and white photo just doesn't do them justice.”
“Well, you be careful,” Tricia warned her. “He's courting Beth Jordan and it would not be a good introduction for you in this town if you tried to break that up.”
“Oh no,” Miranda assured her cousin. “I don't mind looking, but I'm not ready for that yet. I need time to get my own life sorted out before trying to fit in with someone else's.”
“Yes I know,” Tricia sympathized. “This has been a difficult year for you. You're wise to give things time to settle.”
Miranda nodded. “Besides,” she mused. “an ex-outlaw? It sounds all very romantic and everything, from a dime novel point of view—but I don't need that kind of headache.”
The two cousins smiled at each other and Tricia replenished their coffee's.
Warden Mitchell was anything but pleased when his secretary knocked on the office door and announced that Mr. Dalton from the Prison Board was there to see him. Mitchell put on his best face and indicated to show the man in. The knot in his stomach was already starting to build, but he saw no other way out of this, so may as well get it over with and move on. This was getting ridiculous.
“Mr. Dalton!” Mitchell smiled pleasantly, shaking the official's hand. “What a surprise to see you again so soon. Please, have a seat.”
“Hmm,” Dalton retrieved his hand, fighting the impulse to wipe it against his trouser leg before sitting down.”
“To what do I owe this unexpected visit?” Mitchell asked innocently, even though he knew damn well what it was about.
“The Board has received word that you have once again indulged in unwarranted punishments, Mr. Mitchell,” Dalton informed him. “and upon Hannibal Heyes at that. You seem to have a vendetta against this particular inmate Mr. Mitchell. Why is that?”
Mitchell swallowed and tried to hold his smile. “A vendetta? I don't know what you mean.”
“Don't you?” Dalton pushed him. “We have no issue with you punishing a prisoner for attempting escape. Indeed, the lash is the accepted form of punishment for that transgression, although I must admit that the Board does have some doubt as to the inmate's actual involvement in this particular attempt. Still, one must set an example.
“However, we do take acceptation to you imposing the death penalty, even upon an inmate, when there is no real proof that he committed the crime in question.”
The smile left Mitchell's face and turned into a thin hard line.
“The murdered man himself gave Mr. Carson the name of his attacker,” Mitchell pointed out. “What more proof do we need?”
“Well, considering that Mr. Carson is also under suspicion of misconduct, I would have to say a lot more proof is needed before a man is put to death,” Then Dalton smiled coldly. “Don't you agree, Mr. Mitchell?”
“Good! I have given Officer Reece permission to remove the inmate from the dark cell and, providing he is still alive, to move him to the infirmary where hopefully he will get the treatment he requires. I realize, of course, that the prison is short a doctor and a new one will be provided as soon as possible. In the mean time, Sister Julia, whom I believe has some medical knowledge is on her way here as we speak.
“Also Mr. Curry has been informed of the situation and is also on his way here. I believe he is bringing a doctor with him who can be trusted to give the inmate the medical attention he will require to recover. As long as Mr. Heyes lives long enough for the doctor to get here, that is.
“These people will all be given total access to the inmate and to the infirmary until Mr. Heyes is recovered enough to give his own testimony as to what happened before, during and after this particular escape attempt.
“Now, you and Mr. Carson may of course continue on with your duties here until such time as it is shown that you are not worthy of them. But you are being assessed Mr. Mitchell and the running of this prison is being scrutinized and if anything suspicious or untoward were to happen to any of the people involved in this current situation, well....let's just say things might not be too pleasant for you in the office that you currently hold.
“Do we have an understanding, Mr. Mitchell?”
Throughout this monologue Mr. Mitchell's jaw had hardened into a tight fist and his complexion had run the gauntlet from a ghostly pale to a deep purple and then to a blotchy combination of both before settling back onto pale again.
“Good,” Dalton accepted the non-answer as conformation. “And I wouldn't be bothering your friend, the governor at this time,” the official continued as he stood up in preparation of leaving. “What with President Harrison newly elected, Mr. Moonlight has his own worries right now. Good day Mr. Mitchell.”
The train ride to Laramie was anything but relaxing. Jed had tried to work himself into exhaustion that day in the hopes of being able to sleep during the ride and thereby help the time to go by faster. No such luck. The trip was a nightmare. He just could not settle. Every minute seemed like an hour and every delay an eternity. He fussed and fretted and wouldn't shut up. David tried to sleep and probably would have too, except that every time he was just about to drop off, another question or statement would suddenly get thrown his way.
“Why do think Kenny asked me to bring a doctor?” Jed would ask for the umpteenth time. “They have their own doctor, why can't he take care of whatever is wrong?”
“I donno Jed. We'll find out when we get there.”
“Maybe Heyes is so sick this time that Doc Morin doesn't know what to do!”
“Maybe. But from what Hannibal has told me about him, he seems quite capable.”
“Yeah, but then why would he be asking me to bring a doctor with me?”
Heavy sigh. “I donno Jed. We'll find out when we get there.”
Silence reigned. David felt himself drifting off to sleep.
“I met Tricia's cousin today.”
David jumped, startled awake—again. “Oh yes? Quite the crackerjack isn't she?”
“Yeah. Seemed kinda fidgety—in a nice sorta way. She's a widow?”
“Yes. She married a much older man, lots of money. Very much involved with politics and that sort of thing. Trish insists she married for love though, and when he died last year she was quite devastated.”
“Ohm, that's too bad. So she's a rich widow then?”
“She better be careful—lots of gold-diggers around. She's pretty too. Yeah, she better be careful.”
“I don't think she's too interested in getting married again, at least not for awhile. Probably a good thing. She'll have her wits about her more once she's over this loss. Trish is trying to be supportive in that sense. She just needs some time to settle in.”
Silence again. David actually lost consciousness until a sudden movement woke him up.
Jed had slapped the arm of the chair in frustration and then was up on his feet and pacing the isle of the car, receiving some nasty looks from a few of the other passengers who were also trying to sleep.
“How come he asked me to bring a doctor? Geez, Heyes must really be sick. He was fine last time I saw him—good spirits even. I wonder what's happened. He must really be sick.”
Another heavy sigh from the good and patient doctor. He didn't bother to answer Jed this time since obviously it wasn't required, Jed just needed to talk and pace.
Odd that, David surmised through bleary eyes; it was always Hannibal who did the pacing when he was worried or trying to sort out a problem. Jed had always seemed to be able to relax and just wait things out. Was it different this time because it was his partner's welfare that was in question or was it something else?
David had noticed how Jed had become more and more independent over the years, stepping up and taking control of a situation instead of waiting for him or Jesse to lead the way. When Jed was with Hannibal, by his own admittance he'd always just sit back and trust his partner to do the thinking for them, now though Jed was the one doing the thinking and making the decisions for both of them. Gradually Jed had taken on the role of being the leader, of making the important decisions. Maybe that pacing was part of the package of being the one in charge.
David mulled that over in his brain for a few moments. Interesting concept, but still he wished that the new leader would simply go back to deferring the thinking to someone else and just go lite somewhere maybe!!
It turned in to a very long train ride.
Kenny met Jed and David at the train depot and once quick introductions were made, the three men headed straight out to the prison. Kenny rented a surrey and tied his own horse to the back of it so that he could fill the two men in on events while they were in transit. Jed sat silently, his teeth and fists getting tighter and tighter in frustrated anger with every word that Kenny spoke. David, though also upset by what he was hearing was able to remain detached and professional and to ask all the relevant questions at all the relevant times in order to be as medically informed as possible before even stepping foot inside the infirmary.
Driving into the prison yard was a daunting experience for David. Jed had been here enough times now that the atmosphere no longer bothered him. But even though it was a warm summer day, David felt a chill go through him when he found himself surrounded by those high grey walls. No wonder so many of Hannibal's letters had been filled with a feeling of hopelessness and despair. David could feel those emotions now and he was far from being a prisoner here.
Kenny pulled the horse up near the same door that the escaping inmates had used. One of the trustees came forward to hold the animal's head while the men disembarked, then he led the rig along with the saddle horse over to the stables to get them settled in. There was no telling how long the doctor was going to be here for. It might be for an hour, or it might be for a week. Word on the silent grape vine was that Hannibal Heyes was not likely to survive. Tough luck.
“This way gentlemen,” Kenny led them over to that door and pulled on the rope there. All three men heard a bell clanging inside the walls.
Within a couple of minutes they could hear someone on the inside unlocking the heavy door and then swinging it open. It was Pearson, he stepped aside to let the men enter into the hallway.
“How's he doing?” Kenny asked.
Pearson shrugged. “He's still breathing. Bloody miracle if you ask me.”
Jed and David exchanged a quick glance as Pearson shut and locked the door again and the four men carried on down the corridor towards the infirmary. They arrived at the last door and Pearson unlocked it and pushed it open, allowing the doctor to enter ahead of them.
Upon first entering, David was impressed with the infirmary; it was larger and better stocked then he had imagined it would be and appeared to be laid out in a very professional manner. It spoke well of the previous physician and David found himself fleetingly wishing that he could have met the man.
“Oh Thaddeus! Thank goodness!” Sister Julia instantly came over to her friend and hugged him which in itself made Jed even more worried. “We were so afraid you wouldn't get here in time.”
“Sister Julia,” Jed whispered to her as he returned her hug and then pulled away from her and introduced her to David. “This is David Gibson, Sister. He's about the best doctor I know.”
“Oh, thank the Lord,” she said, taking David's hand. “I've done the best that I know how, but I'm no doctor. Please, come and see what you can do.”
And, still not releasing David's hand she led the group across the ward and over to the only occupied bed in the infirmary. The young novice, Marilyn was sitting beside the patient and applying cold compresses to his head and neck in a futile attempt to keep the obvious fever at bay. Marilyn quickly stood up and stepped out of the way so that the doctor and his 'assistant' could get in to examine the patient
David put his bag down beside the bed while he stared at the inmate almost in disbelief.
“Oh my goodness!” he whispered, feeling a fear clutch at his heart. “Oh Hannibal. What have they done to you?”
Heyes was lying on his stomach, his head turned to the left, the side that David approached him on. His arms were lying straight down alongside his torso and he was covered by a sheet from the waist down. His back was covered by layers of gauze and drops and streaks of blood could be seen spaced sporadically across it. He was breathing in short shallow gasps and it was hard to tell if he was actually conscious or not.
Jed approached his friend on his right and gently touched the back of his bald head. He didn't say anything, he couldn't. There were just no words he could find that could express the anguish that was sucking the breath from his lungs and the strength from his legs. With his other hand he took hold of the gauze and started to lift it.
“No! Jed don't....”
But David was too late with his warning and Jed lifted the gauze and took a look at his friend's back. Jed sucked in a ragged gasp and taking a step back in his shock he sat down hard in the chair just recently vacated by Marilyn.
“Oh....God....” was all he could get out as the blood drained from his face, and with his right hand clutching his friend's shoulder, his left came up to cover his own mouth in an effort to keep down the bile. “Oh my God.” Jed sat there, gasping and trying to regain control of his stomach while he shut his eyes in a vain effort to block out the sight of what was left of his friend's back.
“It'll heal Jed,” David assured him quietly. “It'll take time and consistent effort, but it will heal.”
Jed gave a barely perceptible nod but continued to sit as he was for a few more minutes giving himself time to recover from the shock of what he had just seen. Anger was already beginning to build in him, but he pushed it aside to deal with later; he knew he was going to need to be focused if he was going to be able to help David help Heyes.
David gave Jed his time to recover, and pulling up another chair he sat down beside the bed and went about the business of examining the patient. He placed a cool hand against Heyes' forehead and cheeks and not surprisingly, felt heat. Despite the constant bathing with cold compresses, he was burning up. Heyes groaned and pulled away.
“It's alright,” David tried to reassure him. “It's alright Hannibal, just relax.”
David stroked his head, trying to calm him but Heyes lashed out with one of his arms and tried to push himself onto his side in an effort to get away. David stood up and pulled back, hoping to give his friend time to calm down; he was obviously delirious.
“Has he been like this all along?” David asked the Sister.
Sister Julia sighed and nodded regretfully and David suddenly noticed how exhausted both she and her novice were looking.
“Yes,” the Sister informed him quietly. “He's actually calmed down for the moment. Ever since he came in here yesterday he's been raving and fighting everything we've tried to do for him. Almost as though he doesn't want us to help him.”
David frowned, not sure what to make of that, and then all eyes turned to Heyes as he started to mumble something.
“No....” he whispered so softly that David and Jed had to lean into him to pick up the words. “Don't want to....no....no....sorry Kid....not your fault...don't want ta' go back....”
“He's been saying that over and over again,” Sister Julia informed them quietly, almost wringing her hands in her distress. “I don't know what he means. And then he starts to fight against us.”
David nodded and then moved towards the patient again. He put a hand on Heyes' shoulder, hoping that the touch would calm him, but it had the exact opposite effect. Heyes' breathing increased and he kicked out, forcing David to jump back or end up with a bruising. He very nearly cursed but then caught himself in time as he remembered whose company he was in.
He looked over at Jed. That young man was still looking somewhat pale from the bloody sight that had met his eyes, but concern over his friend had taken over and it seemed to David that he was pulling himself together.
“You alright now Jed?”
Jed nodded and gave a deep sigh. “Yeah. I think so. It's just.....”
“Yeah I know,” David assured him. “But I could use your help right now, if you're able. If you're not, there's no shame in that, just say so.”
“No, I can help you David. Just tell me what you need.”
“I have to examine him one way or another,” David explained. “Perhaps if you talk to him, your voice might calm him down.”
Jed nodded and moved in to stand beside the bed on the opposite side from the doctor. He placed a hand on Heyes' shoulder and another on his head, stroking him, hoping to keep him calm.
“Heyes, it's me; Kid,” Jed spoke softly. “Can ya' hear me Heyes?”
Heyes turned his head, his breathing heavy and painful. He opened his eyes to slits, but what shone through was frightening to behold as the fire from the fever burned and danced and consumed conscious thought. He tried to push himself onto his back, towards the sound of the distant but beloved voice and he cried out in pain.
“Shhhh, Heyes...no....” Jed knelt beside the bed, trying to take his cousin into his arms, but scared to death that the contact was going to hurt him even more than he was already hurting. “Heyes...it's alright. Ya' gotta let David take a look at ya'. Alright?”
“Yeah Heyes. It's me, I'm here.”
“Gotta tell ya'....”
“What Heyes? What do ya' havta tell me?”
Jed was understandably confused. He looked over to Kenny who was standing out of the way, but still tense with the drama being played out before him. He felt useless and out of place. He saw Jed send him that questioning look and he shook his head and shrugged.
“I donno Jed,” he admitted. “He was saying that when we brought him out of the cell and it just didn't make any sense. I was hoping you might know.”
Jed shook his head as well. “I don't....obviously I know the words, but what they're supposed to mean together like that.....”
“Kid....gotta tell ya'....”
“Yeah Heyes, I'm listening.”
“Don' feel bad....I wan' to.....no' y' fault.....”
“What's not my fault Heyes?”
Then Heyes became agitated again and began to fight, he pushed himself out of Jed's loose embrace and would have fallen right out of the bed if David hadn't been there to block him.
“NO!....no!.....don't want...to....go back....!”
Both Jed and David grabbed onto Heyes to try and keep him from falling onto the floor. Even Kenny got in to the fray and helped to hold him down. But delirium had taken control and Heyes was yelling and fighting for all he was worth. David tried to get the attention of the second guard.
“YOU! You there!” David called over to him. “Officer....?”
“OH! Ah, Pearson, sir.”
“Officer Pearson, get over here! Now!”
Pearson was instantly over by the doctor and David stepped out of the way for him to take over.
“Hold him down, as best you can! All three of you! Hold him!”
David grabbed his own medical bag and ran over to the supply cabinet. Sister Julia quickly joined him to assist and to help him find anything that he might need in this unfamiliar infirmary. Marilyn stood still, watching nervously, not quite sure what she was suppose to be doing.
Heyes continued to yell and fight like a man possessed. The gauze covering his back had long since been tossed to the floor, the sheet covering his nakedness was kicked to the foot of the cot. He was oblivious, he was fighting for his life—or more appropriately, for his death since life was no longer what he wanted.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Broken Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:34 pm|| |
Jed was practically in tears; this was ripping him apart, seeing his friend in such agony and having no idea where it was coming from or what it was about—let alone how to help him. He tried to whisper assurances to him but his words were drowned out by the nonsensical ravings of a madman! Then David was back, and holding a syringe out of harms way, he wasted no time in plunging the needle into the fleshy part of Heyes' buttock and shooting the strong sedative directly into his system.
He pulled the needle out and handed the empty syringe back to Sister Julia who instantly disposed of it and then he turned his attention back to the patient.
“Hold him steady,” David instructed, though somewhat needlessly since nobody was letting go. “Just wait until he relaxes.”
The ward was filled with a strained silence as everyone waited for the sedative to take effect. Even Heyes was no longer yelling. The volume had dropped down to a strangled murmuring and unintelligible mutterings until finally he coughed a couple of times and then released a heavy sigh. Everyone felt his muscles relax and go limp but were still hesitant in letting him go, just in case it was a ruse.
Finally David stood up and gave everyone the nod.
“Alright,” he said. “He's out.”
Everybody relaxed then and six pairs of lungs let go a large sigh of relief. Jed reached down and pulled the sheet back up to cover his friend again. David sighed, running his fingers through his hair.
“Is this how he has been behaving since you brought him in here?”
“Yes!” came four voices in one.
“Oh my goodness,” David moaned. “No wonder you're all so exhausted.”
Everyone waited for instructions and David brought both his hands up to rub his face while he organized his thoughts and put together a game plan.
After a few moments David went and retrieved his satchel and returned to the left side of the bed while Reece and Pearson both backed off to give him room. Jed stood where he was and continued to stroke his partner's head, looking a little shocky himself.
David pulled out his stethoscope and settled in to getting down to business.
“Alright Sister, if you and your novice could come and assist me please.”
The two ladies quickly came over to the bed and David rolled the patient onto his side.
“If you could all just hold him there while I examine him that would help.”
David started in, checking the heart rate, lifting an eye lid and checking the pupils, feeling his skin—all the simple little things that could tell a learned man so much about what was going on with a sick or injured person. Heyes unfortunately, was both. David put the stethoscope to work then and began listening to his chest, tapping here and there and moving it around the whole area until he was satisfied that he had all the information he could gather from that.
David ran his hands skillfully around Heyes’ head checking for any injuries there and then carefully tipped his head to the side and ran a finger along the jaw line.
“What’s this here?” he asked quietly. “That’s quite a deep cut but it wasn’t made by the bull whip.” David frowned and leaned in for a closer look. “Looks like a thin blade….or a scalpel?”
“Yeah,” Kenny conceded. “Boeman cut him with a scalpel just before the lawmen showed up.”
David nodded. “Hmm. It’s deep but it’s clean. It should heal, we’ll just keep an eye on it.”
Then David tilted Heyes’ chin up a little bit and noticed the pencil thin line running right across his throat, from ear to ear. The cut wasn’t deep and certainly not life threatening, but it would have been a cruel ‘joke’ none the less. He quietly shook his head, but didn’t comment on it; he figured that Jed had enough to deal with right now.
Next he gently ran a hand down the patient's arms, pulling them out one at a time and probing through the muscles and tendons all the way down through the wrists and into each finger. He pursed his lips as he put the arms back into place, but continued to caress the wrists.
“What are these burns here?” he asked no one in particular.
“Those are from the manacles,” Kenny informed him. “During that walk back to the prison, the sun heated the metal cuffs up so much that they burned his skin.”
David nodded, trying not to get angry, trying to stay professional. Then his fingers ran gently over the welts that were old but still very apparent.
“And these welts?” he asked, though he was sure he already knew the answer.
“That's from the—strappado,” Kenny admitted, feeling ashamed as though it was himself who had committed the act rather than trying to stop it. “They never did fully heal.”
“No,” David mumbled as he massaged the welts. “Probably never will now. The muscles in his shoulders are also still very tender. When he recovers from this we'll have to spend some time on that injury or he will be in pain for the rest of his life.”
Kenny just nodded again, still feeling guilty simply by association.
David sighed and moved on. He pushed the sheet back and checked the patient for any signs of bruising or other traumas along his buttocks and thighs but they seemed alright. He pulled the sheet back up and then uncovered his feet and ankles, then pursed his lips again as he discovered more injuries.
“These blisters on his feet....?”
“Again, from the walk back to the prison,” Kenny informed him. “Prison shoes aren't really made for cross-country trekking. I'm still amazed he made it at all.”
David nodded and then looked to the Sister.
“You've been soaking them haven't you?” he asked her.
David nodded again. “Good,” he voiced his approval. “Good. I can tell. Keep it up Sister; it will definitely help them to heal.” He covered the raw looking feet again and then looked to the novice.
“I'm sorry young lady—what's your name?”
David smiled. “Marilyn. Could you please gather up about three pillows and bring them here?”
Marilyn nodded and went about that errand. David looked over to the guards.
“Officer Reece, is there a tub available? And ice?”
“Yeah, well Doc Morin has a tub here all the time; I believe he keeps it in the other office when it's not in use. It actually has wheels so it can be placed where it's needed. As for ice, there is a place to store that right off the kitchen.”
David nodded. “Okay. I'm not sure if I'm going to need those items yet but it's good to know that they are available, just in case.” Then he looked over to Jed. “He is very weak. I'm amazed that he was able to fight us the way he did, but delirium can take over a body and give it strength it shouldn't normally have.” David paused, thinking about it. “His temperature is quite high and my biggest concern right now is that it could spike and then we'd really be in trouble. Sister, you and your novice have been using cold compresses to keep him cool?'
“Yes,” Sister Julia stated. “Ever since he came in here.”
“Good. Also, though it seems contradictory I want you to put warm compresses against his chest. That should help to break up the congestion in his lungs. It's a balancing act at this point. Heat to clear out the lungs, but cold to break the fever.”
“Well what's the tub and ice for then?” Jed asked, feeling confused. He'd had pneumonia a few times himself, but never woke up in a tub of ice.
“That's if things get really desperate,” David explained. “It would be a last ditched effort to break the fever if it spikes.”
“Why leave it to the last minute?” Jed asked reasonably. “If it'll break the fever why don't we just do it?”
“Because it would be dangerous,” David continued to explain. “He's so weak Jed. And with his temperature elevated the way it is the shock of being immersed in ice could stop his heart. I don't want to take that risk unless there is no other alternative.”
Jed paled just a touch. “Oh. Yeah, I guess not.”
“No,” Then David came around to the other side of the bed and Jed stepped out of his way. He looked more closely at the deep angry gashes made by the bull whip and shook his head in frustrated anger. “I'll also need you to keep these wounds hydrated.”
“Hydrated?” asked Jed. “What's that?”
“Oh, wet,” David explained. “I don't want those wounds to dry up so at least four times a day we'll need to use a cloth to squeeze water over the cuts. It'll keep them clean and free from infection and also seems to promote healing. It'll help to reduce the scar tissue build up as well.”
“Really?” Jed sounded sceptical.
“Dr. Morin never did anything like that,” Sister Julia put in, not sure she was completely comfortable with this young doctor experimenting with his radical treatments on the inmates. Especially an inmate who was also her friend.
David looked over at her and tried to give her a reassuring smile but he was getting tired of people questioning his capabilities.
“Sister, I realize that you worked with Dr. Morin for some time and that you are accustomed to the way he did things,” David rationalized. “You feel a certain amount of loyalty to him and I understand that but if you are going to assist me here I need you to trust that I know what I'm doing. Hannibal is my friend too and I promise you that I'm going to do everything that I can to pull him through this. Do I have your support here Sister?”
Sister Julia arched an eyebrow and sent him an almost challenging look but Jed was quick to intervene not wanting to see a clash of wills take over the situation when what they all needed was co-operation.
“Ahh, Sister Julia,” the Kid smiled at her and put a reassuring hand on her arm. “please believe me, Heyes could not be in better hands. I'm sure that Dr. Morin was very capable and I know that Heyes was fond of him too so he couldn't have been an idiot. But Dr. Gibson is more than capable Sister, actually I would have to say that he's gifted. If anyone can pull Heyes through this, he can and if Heyes was in his right mind I know that he would be assuring you of that himself.”
Sister Julia smiled up at her friend and relaxed her defensive stance.
“Yes, of course Thaddeus,” she agreed. “I'm just so afraid for Joshua right now but if you say that he's in good hands, then....” She nodded and looked over to David. “Yes Doctor, of course. You have my support. Whatever you need, just tell me.”
David smiled himself and nodded. “Thank you Sister. Oh, Marilyn! Yes, thank you. Just place the pillows here on the bed like so. Alright. You see, I don't want Hannibal laying on his back because those wounds need to be able to breathe, but nor do I want him laying on his chest because I want him to be able to breathe. So, if we place this pillow here at his chest so that he can rest against it, that's right. Now we move this leg up and bend the knee and place this pillow under the knee, so that supports his whole body and he can't roll onto his chest. Now this third pillow we place behind his back like this so that it will prevent him from rolling over that way.”
“Oh yes,” said Marilyn as she did what the doctor described. “I'd never thought of doing that.”
“Yes. It's very effective,” David commented. “Now, he'll need to be moved onto his other side every few hours, so at that time we should also change the bedding as it will probably be wet by then. This treatment does get messy, but it will work if we're consistent. Alright?”
Everybody nodded their willingness in this co-operative endeavour.
“Ahh Doc?” Kenny spoke up.
“If you don't need us, Mr. Pearson and I should return to our other duties,” the guard pointed out. “I can send over a trustee to assist you, if you like.”
David thought about that for a moment, then nodded. “Yes alright,” he agreed. “Just send someone to the kitchen to bring up some ground mustard, it'll help with the heat poultice.”
Kenny nodded and turned to go.
“Oh! Mr. Reece?” David stopped him with his voice. “How much risk is there of Mr. Mitchell trying to sabotage our efforts here?”
Kenny gave an almost wicked smile. “I don't think you need to worry about that Doc,” he commented. “Mitchell and Carson are still working their jobs, but they're being watched and they know it. I think both of them will back off of this situation for now.”
“Good! Thank you.”
Kenny nodded and then with a quick look to Pearson, both guards left the infirmary.
Jed had hardly noticed this interaction between David and the guards. He was so intent on his cousin that nothing else was penetrating his conscious thought at that time. He sat back down beside his partner again and took one of the hot clammy hands into both of his and just held on tight while he watched his friend sleep.
Even in sleep Heyes' breathing was shallow and ragged and his eyes darted back and forth under the lids reacting to some intense dream that had again taken hold. Jed had been shocked at how much his friend had changed in such a short time. They had just seen one another two weeks ago and Heyes had seemed in such good spirits; he had been turning his thinking around and settling in to things better, even to the point of being willing to apologize to Sam. A ghost of a smile passed over Jed's lips when he remembered how pleased he was that Heyes finally seemed to be coming around.
Now this had to happen. Heyes looked done in. Beaten. Broken in heart and soul and Kid feared for his sanity and for his lively spirit. Suddenly, now more than ever he wished he could see Heyes again as he used to be. With the ready smile—that dimpled cheeky grin and the mischievous glint in those dark eyes. Would he ever see that man again? He was so afraid of the answer that he blocked that thought from his mind and reaching a hand over, he caressed his friend's face with a touch as gentle as a summer's breeze.
Heyes was in the grass meadow again, laying on his back in the tall waving grasses. He knew that this was just a memory, that he wasn't really here this time but it still felt so good. He knew that Karma was near, he could hear her ripping at the grass and her teeth grinding away at the blades, her lips smacking with the pleasure of her intense grazing.
Heyes smiled. It was so peaceful here; he never wanted to be anywhere else. He lay in the coolness of the grass. He could smell the warm earth and the subtitles of the numerous wildflower scents floating round him. This was paradise and this was where he wanted to stay. He sighed deeply with contentment and then again with pleasure as he felt the cool touch on his face that was as gentle as the summer's breeze.....
David was about to get down to business when he stopped short and decided to give Jed a few moments to reconnect with his friend. The doctor watched quietly, surprised by the gentleness he was seeing in the ex-gunfighter but then again, not surprised by it either. He remembered back almost five years ago when it was Jed laying on the table and Hannibal was holding his friend's hand, terrified that he was going to lose him. There was that same look; that unconditional love that so many people seek for in their lives, but so few actually find.
It struck David as odd, at this point that he didn't know these two men within that partnership for which they were infamously remembered. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. The two most successful outlaws in the history of the west.... He considered both these men his friends, but the only time he'd seen them together was when one or the other of them was fighting for his life. He had no idea how they were together, how they reacted to each other under normal circumstances. He'd only known them as individuals and now he too, wondered if he would ever get the chance to know them within the structure of that partnership that had made them so successful.
Finally David felt that he couldn't wait any longer and he stepped forward and placed a quiet hand on the Kid's shoulder.
“Okay Jed, you can stay there with him if you like, but I need Marilyn to start working on his back, alright?”
“Oh, yeah. Alright.”
Marilyn and Sister Julia quickly got organized with wash basins and cloths and lots of water from the pump and the novice set about performing her task. Jed took the other wash cloth and continued to bath his partner's face and neck and chest with the second basin hoping that he was at least doing some good here. Sister Julia set about lighting up the stove to boil water in order to prepare the warm compresses that the doctor hoped would help to clear out the lungs.
Once the stove was lit and the water put on to boil, David called the Sister to him.
“Sister, do you know where Dr. Morin kept his records?”
“Oh, yes. There in his office. Here, I'll show you.”
The Sister headed off towards a side room and David, after one quick look back at his patient, turned and followed her.
She went directly over to a filing cabinet and pulled open the drawer.
“Here you are doctor, these are all his records,” then the Sister stepped back, a sadness settling over her that David understood only too well.
“I wish I could have had the chance to meet Dr. Morin,” he told her gently. “From what I understand he was quite the character.”
Sister Julia smiled. “Yes. His colourful antidotes caused quite a bit of consternation amongst a number of my novices. Even poor Beth found him a little bit too earthy for her tender ears. She got over it though and I know she did develop a fondness for him.” And then her smile dropped and she became reminiscent. “As did we all.”
“He was a fine doctor,” David agreed. “I can tell that just from the condition of his infirmary and the medications he has on hand. I just want to go over Hannibal's file and see whatever notes Dr. Morin made about his past treatments. There might be useful information in there.”
“Yes of course,” Julia agreed and then headed over to the table. “I actually pulled Joshua's file yesterday, intending to do that myself. But then things got hectic and I didn't have time. They're right there, on his desk.”
“Oh yes, thank you. Sister, I would like Marilyn to continue what she's doing for about ten minutes, but then why don't you both get something to eat and some rest. Things seem to be quieting down for now.”
“Ohhh yes,” Sister Julia agreed with an exhausted sigh. “that would be very much appreciated. We've been at it for some time now.”
“Yes I know,” David agreed. “And thank you, I know it wasn't easy. I'll call you if things get crazy again—and they very well might.”
“Well then, we'd best get some rest while we can!” the Sister gave him a tired smile and headed back into the ward to retrieve her novice.
David sat down at the desk, suddenly realizing that he was quite tired too since, as mentioned before neither he nor Jed got much sleep on the train ride here. Jed had finally calmed down a little bit, having eventually worn himself out with worrying and pacing but by then it had been too late to do anything more than doze. David now felt his fatigue catching up with him but there were still a few things he wanted to cover before taking any kind of a break.
He opened up the folder and began to browse through the paperwork. The more he read, the more frustrated he became.
The first entry was for pneumonia and it was quite the battle to bring the patient out of it. Dr. Morin gave much of the credit to Sister Julia as she had spent endless hours bathing the ill man with cool compresses and calming him in his delirium.
The second entry was for a cracked rib and extensive bruising.
The third entry was for a broken arm and concussion, numerous lacerations—and extensive bruising.
The forth entry was for a broken rib and two broken fingers—and extensive bruising.
The fifth entry was for (and David felt a chill go through him.) pulled muscles, torn tendons, deep lacerations around the wrists—and extensive bruising.
David read all the notes associated with each of the injuries and on the most part, nodded his approval, the only time he pursed his lips and looked pissed was when Dr. Morin went into details about the injuries and how they were incurred. He also noted how many times Dr. Morin mentioned Sister Julia and her endless energies when it came to administering aid and assistance with not only this inmate, but others as well. She was definitely a valued ally.
Then David picked up the pen, dipped it in the ink jar and began to make his own entry.
'July 16th, 1888. Attending physician; Dr. David Gibson.
Patient: Hannibal Heyes.
Symptoms: Deep lacerations on the back caused by bull whip.
Deep cut across left jaw bone caused by scalpel
Minor cut across throat caused by scalpel
Blisters on feet
Burns on wrists
Congestion in the lungs
Prognosis: Influenza developing into pneumonia.
Treatments: Hot mustard compresses to break up fluid in the lungs
Cold compresses to break the fever
Administer quinine for fever and pain relief
Hydration of the lacerations 4 x's daily, ten to fifteen minutes at a time.
As much fluids to drink as he'll take
David put the pen down and sat back rubbing his eyes with exhaustion. He really felt as though he should be doing more but he couldn't think of what else it could be. He almost felt helpless and that was not a feeling that he liked. He had gone into medicine so that he could be of use, but this just sitting back and waiting to see was torturous for him. Still, he knew that there was nothing more they could do right now, just carry on with the treatments and hope that it would be enough.
He pushed himself away from the table and standing up he returned to the ward. Everyone was busy with their own particular jobs. Marilyn was soaking the lacerations; Sister Julia had the heated compress ready and without waiting for the mustard powder to arrive was attempting to apply them to the patient’s chest. Heyes was protesting a little through the sedative, but he was so weak that his protestations were for not and the Sister managed to apply her treatment.
Jed was busy applying the cold compresses to every area of Heyes' body that he could think of. One was on his forehead, another on his neck. More were under the armpits, one on the groin, others behind the knees and even more on the feet. Jed was leaving no inch of available body parts left unattended. He was determined.
David went over to the medicine cabinet and found the supply of quinine powder. He mixed a dosage and poured it into a syringe and then attached the needle. He walked over to the patient and Jed got out of his way, but watching intently all the same He was so protective of his partner when he was this vulnerable that he was suspicious of everyone.
David just smiled at him, giving him reassurance and then pulled one of Heyes' arms out from the bed and began pressing his thumbs into the flesh in order to bring up a vein. Once he had one, he straightened the arm and inserted the needle in under the skin, releasing the medication into the bloodstream. He withdrew the needle and bent Heyes' elbow so that pressure was placed upon the entry location to stop any bleeding that may have been caused by the insertion.
“Here doctor,” Julia held out her hand. “I can take that if you like.”
David looked up, almost not seeing her, but then smiled and handed her the empty syringe.
“Thank you,” he said. “You ladies should go and get something to eat and some rest. We'll stay with him until you return. Actually when you get down to the kitchen could you ask them to send up coffee and sandwiches or something? That would help.”
“Certainly doctor,” the Sister smiled and then she and Marilyn headed out for some respite.
Twenty minutes later, Kyle arrived pushing a trolley with a coffee pot, a large container of hot soup and a pile of hefty sandwiches along with all the utensils required to enjoy it. Everyone settled in for lunch and a long shift. He had also brought the mustard powder, though he couldn't for the life of him understand why they would be wanting that with soup.
By the time the ladies returned from their break some hours later both Jed and David were stretched out on a couple of the other cots and Kyle was busy with the cold compresses. Heyes’ condition had not worsened nor improved and he was still laying on his right side and unresponsive to any and all of the activity around him.
Sister Julia smiled at Kyle as she approached the patient. “Mr. Murtry. Thank you. We can take over now, but perhaps first you can help us to roll him over onto his other side.”
Kyle gave her a toothy grin. “Yes Ma’am.”
Both David and Jed reacted to the voices and got up themselves to come over and assist with the move. And David, of course wanted to check on his patient—indeed he hadn’t meant to fall asleep and just hoped that he hadn’t missed any vital changes with the injured and sick man.
“Okay,” David mumbled sleepily as he approached the bed and began to check Heyes over for any changes in his condition. “Hmm, his temperature isn’t coming down, that’s odd; I would have thought….”
“Honest Doc, I been real diligent with the cloths….” Kyle was quick to defend himself, thinking that the doctor was perhaps blaming him for the patient’s lack of improvement.
“No no, Mr. Murtry,” David assured him with a tired smile. “you’ve done very well. We’ll just have to keep at it, that’s all.”
“Yeah, sure Doc.”
“Okay, so if we can just roll him over onto his other side.” Everybody had a hand in rolling the patient over and getting him re-organized. “Yes, that’s right. There we go. Okay, get those pillows around him again. There good. Sister, could you heat up some more compresses please?”
“Yes, of course.”
Sister Julia went off to do that and David checked Heyes’ pupils again not really understanding why his condition had not improved at all. It was frustrating; as though Heyes wasn’t even trying to fight the fever, as though he were just letting it take hold of him. David stood for a few moments, his hand resting on Heyes’ shoulder, looking at him and watching him sleep. He wished he could see inside his mind; get in behind those closed eye lids and understand what he was thinking, or dreaming and then maybe have a better idea as to how to help him.
Then the Sister arrived with the hot compresses smelling uncomfortably of mustard, and Marilyn was right behind her with the basin of cool water. Jed took over for Kyle and the treatments began all over again.
A few hours after that Heyes’ temperature did come down and he seemed to be resting easier. Everybody was hoping that they had turned the corner now and that the patient was on the upswing. Kyle was asleep, Marilyn was making tea for everyone and Jed was again sitting beside his partner, holding his hand and hoping that the coolness of it wasn’t just his imagination. Everyone was tired.
Jed rested his head on his arm on the cot beside where Heyes was laying. His eyes were burning with exhaustion and he just wanted to sleep, but his mind wouldn’t let him. He felt a touch on his shoulder and looked up to see David handing him a cup of tea.
“Drink this Jed,” the doctor ordered. “Maybe it’ll help you feel better.”
“Yeah,” Jed took the cup almost in a daze, but then found that sipping the hot liquid did seem to calm his stress a bit and relax his worries.
Still, he sat quietly, watching his cousin, holding his hand and sipping his tea and then it was that he started to notice some subtle changes. Heyes’ breathing began to quicken and his eyes behind the lids were active, darting back and forth as though in some wild dream. He groaned and tried to roll over onto his back but the pillow behind him stopped him from doing it. Jed watched him for a moment and then noticed that the hand he was holding was suddenly hot and clammy again—all the coolness that they had worked so hard to achieve was gone from it.
“David!” Jed called, the tension in his voice and body alerting the doctor to trouble without Jed having to say anything more.
David was over to the bedside in an instant, his hand to Heyes’ forehead and a couple of fingers on his pulse.
“Dammit! Dammit, dammit,” David was mumbling under his breath, no longer being concerned about his language in front of the Sister.
“What!?” Now Jed was alarmed. “What is it, what’s wrong?”
“His temperature is spiking!” David announced. “Dammit! I’d hoped we’d diverted this! Mr. Murtry. Mr. Murtry!”
“KYLE!” Kid yelled at him and Kyle awoke with a start and then was instantly on his feet.
“Get down to the kitchen!” David ordered him. “Get ice! Lots of it! And something to break it up with! Go! NOW!”
“I’ll go and help him.” Jed offered.
“NO! Jed I need you here!” David countered him. “Mr. Murtry, if you come across Officers Reece or Pearson, get them to help you—get anybody! But get that ice up here!”
“Yeah alright Doc!”
And Kyle was on the run, heading for the kitchen. Sister Julia and Marilyn were up and ready for orders and David did not disappoint them.
“Get that tub in here!” he told them. “And start pumping water into it—about a foot! GO!!”
“Jeez David! You said that doing this could kill him!” Jed pointed out, really worried now and not letting go of his partner’s hand. “Do you really think….?”
“Jed…” David tried to hold his temper and he clenched his jaw with the effort. “his fever is spiking—do you understand?! If we don’t get it down fast his brain will cook! And then he’s dead anyways! The ice might kill him—the fever will!! WHICH WAY DO YOU WANT TO GO HERE!?”
Jed paled and his respiration quickened to match that of his partner’s. “Oh God! Yeah…yeah, okay. Let’s get him into the tub.”
“Good! Thank you.”
The sheet was pulled back and all the pillows and compresses were tossed aside just as the Sister and Marilyn began to roll the tub into the ward and aim it awkwardly over to the patient’s bed. David got hold of Heyes under his arms and Jed grabbed his feet and together the two men easily lifted the light-weight man off the bed and over to the tub. They lowered him gently into the foot of cool water and settled him in so that he was leaning against the back of the tub.
Heyes gasped and his breathing became rapid and ragged. He fought against them, trying to get away from their ministrations, but he was so weak that his efforts were in vain. David held onto his shoulders, trying to settle him and then reached out for the cloths that were still on the bed. Jed grabbed them and brought them over and then both he and David began to wash the cool water over Heyes’ body hoping to at least slow the spiking down until the ice got there.
It seemed an eternity before they heard the squeak, squeak of a wheelbarrow being pushed in their direction. Everybody looked towards the open door of the ward and beheld quite the procession. Kyle was pushing the wheelbarrow but both Kenny and Pearson were walking along beside it, chipping away at the ice block with picks, trying to get it broken down into small pieces by the time they actually got it to the infirmary.
Kyle manoeuvred the barrow over beside the tub and then he, along with the two guards began to shovel the ice pieces into the tub with their bare hands until all was in the water. Heyes gasped again and his back arched with the drastic change of temperature. He punched out and kicked in his delirium but all he succeeded in doing was splashing water around and getting his cousin wet.
Kenny went back to chipping at what was left of the ice block while those that could fit in around the tub used cloths or just their bare hands to splash cold water and ice over the patient. Heyes tried to fight them every step of the way—yelling out in his angry delirium and trying to push them away from him. His skin was turning red with the cold, but he was still so hot to the touch. The ice in the tub was actually melting with the heat radiating off his body and he was gasping with the shock of it.
“Do you want us to get more ice Doc?” Kenny asked as he dumped the last of what they had into the tub.
“No thank you,” David answered. “This will either do it or it won’t.”
Everyone carried on with dousing the patient and when one person’s hands became too numb with the cold another would step in to take over for them. But David and Jed stayed diligent and neither of them backed off, splashing and running water over their friend’s naked body in a desperate effort to save his life.
David kept checking his pulse, his pupils, placing his hands on his forehead and face and neck, looking and praying and feeling for any changes at all in the vital signs. Heyes had stopped fighting them; he was just so weak he couldn’t keep it up. He was shivering, his teeth chattering with the cold but he still felt so hot to the touch. It was such a contradiction and Jed had never experienced anything like this before. Fortunately he was too busy and focused on what they were doing to realize just how scared he actually was.
Then finally, just when Jed was wondering how long they were going to be able to keep this up, David placed his hands against Heyes’ forehead again and then cupped his face and checked his pupils. He sighed, pressing his fingers against the pressure point in Heyes’ neck. He looked up to find Jed intently staring at him, waiting with baited breath for the doctor’s prognosis. David gave a slight, exhausted smile and nodded.
“I think we’ve done it,” he announced. “I think the fever’s broken.”
Everyone gave a sigh of relief and backed off.
“No, no! We’re not done yet!” David brought them all back to order. “We have to get him dried off now and warmed up. Sister! Towels and blankets please. Let’s go!”
Everyone was on the move instantly. Marilyn came back quickly with towels and as David and Jed lifted Heyes out of the tub, she and Kenny both began to wrap the towels around the patient’s body and rubbed him to not only dry him off but to warm him up. When those towels were wet, they grabbed fresh ones and carried on drying him off until they had him laying back down on the bed again. By that time Sister Julia had arrived back with an armful of thick blankets and these were grabbed and wrapped snugly around the patient until he was encased in a warm snug cocoon with only his eyes and nose and mouth peeking through.
Heyes had stopped shivering by this time and seemed to be resting peacefully but nobody else was. Jed continued to rub his arms through the blankets and Sister Julia and Kenny were doing the same with his legs. David continued to check his vital signs, making sure that everything was progressing in the right direction. Finally he sighed and straightened up. Again everyone was looking at him intently, waiting for the word. He looked back at them all and then nodded.
“Alright. I think we’ve done it,” he told them quietly. “We’ll have to still keep a close watch on him, and I want another mustard poultice prepared for him but I think we’ve turned the corner on this now.”
Everybody groaned with relief and backed off.
Two hours later, Kyle had returned to his cell for the night, Kenny and Pearson had both gone home and Sister Julia and Marilyn had retired to their room to get in a night’s sleep as well. Three days they had spent trying to get Heyes back from the edge and everybody was exhausted. The lights in the infirmary had been dimmed but not totally extinguished and David was asleep on one of the other cots. Jed had fallen asleep in the chair, sitting beside his partner, his head resting upon one arm while his other hand was laid upon Heyes’ shoulder.
Then Jed was instantly awake. Some instinct had told him that he was needed even though there had been no outward sign of distress or even awareness from his friend. But Jed was awake and he sat up straighter and looked into his cousin’s face. Nothing had changed. His breathing was slow and regular, his expression peaceful. He smelled like hot mustard.
Jed continued to watch and then, almost imperceptible; a soft sigh. Then a tip of the tongue came out, moistening the lips—a swallow, a heavier sigh and then movement under the eye lids. Jed gave a soft squeeze on the shoulder.
Another swallow and then the lips parted as a deep breath of air was taken into the lungs. A quiet cough and a groan and the head shifted, just a little bit.
And then the eyes opened, just to slits—but it was enough and Jed’s heart leapt with relief and he grinned.
“Hi ya’ Heyes,” he whispered.
Heyes' eyes shifted slightly in the direction of the voice and Jed’s smile broadened; the eyes were soft and warm—no sign of the fever that had burned in them for so long, but they were exhausted and then—what was that? Jed frowned. Was that—disappointment? No, that must have been a trick of the light. It was exhaustion that Jed saw in his cousin’s eyes, that was all. Everyone was tired. Jed rubbed his partner’s shoulder again.
“It’s alright Heyes,” he said. “We got ya’ back. You’re gonna be alright.”
Two hours later David woke up and stretched. He always knew, even when he was asleep that he had a patient to tend to so he never slept more than a few hours at a time. When there was no one under his care he could sleep the night away without stirring a muscle, but give him a patient and he was like a mother hen. Or, as his friends liked to say; a pest.
He sat up on the bed and rubbed his eyes and then looked over to the sick bed. Everybody was asleep. David got to his feet and moved over to the partners and then came up to the side of the bed opposite to where Jed was sleeping. He carefully pulled the blankets away from Heyes' face and placed his hand on the forehead and the cheeks and then his throat. He took his ever present stethoscope and pulling the blankets away even more, he did a quick check of his patient's heart beat and condition of his lungs.
When he looked up again he wasn't surprised to find those quiet dark eyes open to slits and looking at him. David smiled and cupped the side of his friend's face with a cool hand.
“Hi Hannibal,” he said quietly. “Good to have you back.”
Heyes just sighed; a whispering sigh—a ghost of a sigh. He closed his eyes again to sleep, and a tear, just the hint of a tear—a speck of a tear sneaked out from the corner of his eye and slid silently down his cheek. David frowned and with a thumb, gently wiped the little bit of moisture from his friend's face. It was nothing, he told himself. Just exhaustion. It had been a hard battle and everyone was tired.
Then Jed stirred and sleepily looked up at the doctor.
“Oh David,” he mumbled. “Is it morning?”
“No,” David assured him. “But I'm awake now so why don't you go lay down on the bed for a few hours? Get some real rest.”
Jed nodded and then looked down at Heyes.
“He woke up,” Jed said. “Just for a moment, but he woke up.”
“Yes. He just did again too. I think he's going to be fine now Jed—go get some sleep.”
Jed nodded and stiffly got to his feet. He ambled over to the recently vacated bed and settled on to it. Neither man mentioned to the other anything about their concerns over their friend's state of mind. It was just exhaustion, that was all. He'll be fine.
When the grey light of early morning finally did put in an appearance everyone was already up and wrapping themselves around their first cups of coffee. Kyle eventually showed up with the trolley again, delivering what might be referred to as scrambled eggs, bacon and oatmeal and not to mention; more coffee. The fair wasn't great, but it was food—sort of, and everyone tucked in.
Kyle went over to his fellow inmate and just stood looking down at the sleeping man.
“How's he doin' Kid?”
“He's a lot better Kyle,” Jed answered over a mouthful of eggs. “Fever's broke.”
Kyle grinned. “Yeah, I knew he'd pull through. Those bastards ain't gonna take out Hannibal Heyes—that's fur sure.”
Then Kyle turned back to the assembly, still smiling with his indelible good spirits.
“Wul, I better git back,” he stated and then grinned even more. “Bunch a' us is goin' over ta' paint the new school house. There's some reel purdy ladies come out ta give us lemonade and fried chicken!” Then a bit of a shadow crossed his face and he glanced back at his ex-leader. “Yeah, too bad Heyes don't feel up ta' it. He always liked them outings!”
“Well I'm sure he'll be more up to it next time,” Sister Julia assured the strange little man. “And you can tell him all about this one when he's feeling better.”
The grin returned to Kyle's face. “Yeah! Wul, I best be goin'. See ya' Kid!”
“See ya' later Kyle.”
Everyone watched the inmate leave and then attention returned to the group again.
“That is a most unusual man,” David commented. “Does nothing dampen his spirits?”
Kid smiled. “Not much.” Then he shrugged. “I've seen him get down a few times but he never stays down for long. Just tumbles through life without a care in the world.”
“Hmm,” David nodded. “He'll probably out-live us all.”
“Well,” Sister Julia announced as she put down her plate. “I best be getting some broth going here; sooner or later Joshua is going to be hungry. We'll be down in the kitchen if you gentlemen need anything.”
David and Jed nodded as the two ladies made their way out of the ward, they looked at each other and then in unison looked over at the patient.
“What's the plan for today?” Jed asked. “Just watch him sleep?”
“Pretty much,” David nodded. “We just have to keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't have a relapse but mostly what he needs right now is rest. We have to get back to hydrating those gashes though; they kind of got ignored with all the other things going on. Matter of fact, we may as well start in on that right now.”
Heyes was an easy patient to deal with that day. Almost too easy in Jed's opinion. He'd had to administer first aid to his friend on more than one occasion and the complaints and protests that generally accompanied that ordeal far surpassed anything that Jed had ever uttered—in Jed's opinion that is.
But on this day, Heyes never said a word. He would wake up periodically, but if they weren't looking right at his eyes they would never have known he was awake. He never protested at the prodding and the poking, never complained that the water was too hot or too cold. Never even groaned or sucked in his breath, and Jed knew that some of the things they had to do to him must have hurt. But nothing; no reaction, no response. They would talk to him but receive no answer.
By the time noon rolled around neither Jed nor David could hide their concern from each other any longer. But voicing their concerns did not do anything towards alleviating them, because neither of them could understand it. Even when Sister Julia and Marilyn returned early in the afternoon and tried to get him to take some soup, it ended in failure. He should have been feeling hungry, even just a little bit but short of forcing it down his throat they could not convince him to eat.
At 4:00 in the afternoon Heyes had just been returned to his bed after yet another session in a tub half filled with warm salted water to promote the healing of the gashes and blisters on his feet. The treatment even seemed to be having a positive effect on the burns on his wrists. But on his attitude and his appetite, nothing seemed to be improving it. He didn't even blush when Marilyn walked in on him stark naked in the tub, in fact he didn't react at all and for a man who was usually quite protective of his privacy it was really making Jed nervous.
David had just shrugged it off, reasoning that being in prison for coming on four years where privacy was non-existent probably squeezed the bashfulness right out of him. Jed didn't think so. Out-growing shyness in prison around other men was one thing, but in front of a young woman, who was a novice planning on entering into a convent at that? No—something was wrong. Heyes was not recovering as he should have been and it wasn't until Kenny stopped by to check on the progress of the patient that some light was shed on the mystery.
Sister Julia and Marilyn were busy organizing sheets and towels and other items for use the next day and were occupied in their own conversation. Heyes was asleep—well, as best as they could tell—so the three men felt free to relax over tea and discuss their concerns.
David and Jed got busy bantering back and forth with their own observations and hypothesis over what could be the reason for Heyes not recovering at the rate that was expected. Perhaps he still had a low grade infection in there that hadn't been detected—that would cause the continued lethargy and lack of appetite. Or maybe he was in mourning over the Doc, that could be. After all they had been good friends....
Then Jed noticed that Kenny who had been sitting quietly and listening to the two men compare notes had suddenly lost focus and was no longer paying attention to them.
“You went away there for a second,” Kid commented. “Where did you go?”
“Oh. Ahh....” Kenny sat up straighter and tried to organize his thoughts. “Well...” he began, but then hesitated again as the thoughts that came to him were hard for him to vocalize. The two other men waited patiently. “After we arrived back here at the prison and....Heyes realized that he was going to be punished again for....something.” Kenny hesitated then, his jaw tightening. This wasn't easy for him. “Heyes knew he was in trouble again, and he ahh.....” Kenny sighed and brought a hand up to his brow, swallowing down the knot in his throat.
“What happened, Kenny?” Jed asked, suddenly very concerned.
Kenny's look became distant—and painful. “He looked me straight in the eye and begged me to help him. He pleaded with me Jed. If he could have gotten down on his hands and knees, he would have. He was begging me to help him. And I.....”
The room was heavy with silence, even the two ladies had stopped chatting. Jed and David sat and watched the guard fighting with his own emotions and then saw the hard set to his jaw as he regained control and continued on.
“I'll never forget the look in his eyes as realization dawned on him that nothing was going to save him. He had just saved my life and there was nothing I could do for him!” Kenny coughed a little, and swallowed again. “I tried to help him, but the warden wouldn't listen.” Kenny shook his head. “I'm never going to forget the look in his eyes. It was as though—the light went out. Everything that made him who he was, died in his eyes right there in front of me. I knew then that he had been broken—mind and spirit, broken in two.
“I've had time to think about what he had been saying when he was delirious and...” Kenny bit his lower lip, forcing himself to go on and knowing that what he was saying was not only difficult for him, but also painful for the two men listening. “I don't think he meant that he didn't want to go back into the dark cell. I think he meant that he didn't want to come back to the living. I think he was calling out for Doc Morin because he wanted to go wherever he had gone.”
Jed sat silently for a moment, his mouth open and his heart pounding in his throat. The tea was forgotten about.
“No,” he finally whispered, then wet his lips to get his voice working again. “No! I don't accept that! You don't know him Kenny—he would never give up!”
“I do know him Jed,” Kenny countered. “I've spent the last four years getting to know him and I know what he has been through. You didn't see the look in his eyes Jed—I did. I've seen men give up before, but I've never seen a man broken in two like that, crushed body and soul. You didn't see it Jed. If you had, you....”
Kenny stopped talking, he couldn't say anymore. It was breaking his heart just to say as much as he had. Then to see the look coming back at him from Jed made it hard for him to meet that man's gaze and that wasn't usually something Kenny had a hard time doing.
Jed sat there shaking his head, refusing to accept even the remotest possibility that Kenny might be right.
“NO!” Jed's anger rose up and flared out. “You say you've known him for four years! I'VE KNOWN HIM ALL MY LIFE! HE WON'T GIVE UP!”
“Jed...” David tried to settle him.
“NO!!” Jed hit the top of the table with his palm sending out a loud slap that rattled the cups and nearly spilled the tea. “HE WON'T GIVE UP!”
“No Jed, I don't think Officer Reece is suggesting that....”
“What's with all the yelling over there?” came a rather feeble voice from the one and only occupied bed. “Can't a fella get any sleep around here?”
Silence in the ward as everyone's attention shifted from the altercation at the table to the patient laying in the bed. Then suddenly everyone was on the move at once. Not surprisingly Jed and David made it over to their friend first mainly because the other three people in the room deliberately held back to give them time.
Kid came over to the side that Heyes was facing, and taking hold of his hand, sat down in the chair that was waiting there for him.
“Hey Heyes,” he greeted his friend quietly, a soft smile on his face. “We were gettin' worried about ya'.”
“Yea, I could tell.” Heyes answered him, trying to smile but not quite making it. “The only other time you yell like that is when we're late for breakfast.”
Kid's soft smile turned into a grin and he stroked his friend's forehead, still feeling relieved that it felt cool even though the fever had been broken for over a day now.
“Speaking of food,” David quipped in. “will you take some soup now?”
Heyes shifted slightly and looked blearily up at the doctor.
“David,” came the slightly bemused acknowledgement. “what are you doing here?”
“Officer Reece asked me to come by and see if we could get you back on your feet.”
“Ohhh. Ya' still look the same as ya' did four years ago.”
David smiled. “You don't.”
“Yea' I know.”
“So, how about that soup?”
David turned to get that looked to and almost bumped into Sister Julia who was already on her way over to the patient with a cup of soup and a spoon.
“Oh! Sister, I'm sorry.”
“That's alright doctor. No harm,” she smiled at him and then stepped around to the bedside. “Now, come on Thaddeus, you men go off and do something else—let us tend to the patient.”
“Yes Ma'am,” Jed grinned and then cupped Heyes' face in his hand for a second. “Take it easy Heyes. I'll come back when you're done.”
David and Jed went back to the table and re-joined Kenny who had decided that his best choice was to stay out of the way. The two men sat back down with sighs of relief.
“Oh man! Thank goodness,” Jed stated. “He's going to be okay now, right David?”
“Well I hope so,” David gave the non-committal answer.
“Oh come on!” Jed snapped at him, frustrated with all this doom and gloom. “He's eating! He's talking! He's not broken!” That last with a sharp look to Kenny.
Kenny looked a tad contrite, but David just shook his head.
“I just don't know yet Jed,” the doctor admitted. “If he keeps eating and getting stronger, then hopefully we can get him going again. He's been through a lot and I know what Officer Reece means; there's just something about him that's not right.”
Jed sat back, feeling even more irritated now. He had thought that David at least would be on his side here.
“Neither one of you have known him as long as I have!” Jed pointed out defensively. “If he wasn't right, don't you think I would be the first to see it!?”
“Not necessarily,” David said quietly. “You're too close to him and you don't want to see it.”
“Aww jeez!” Jed ran a hand through his curls. “He's gonna be fine—you'll see! Hannibal Heyes does not give up! He's gonna be fine!”
“I hope you're right,” Kenny finally put in. “I'd love nothing more than for you and Heyes to prove me wrong.”
Silence settled in over the table again. In the background they could hear Sister Julia and Marilyn talking to Heyes and Marilyn even laughed a little bit. Heyes was probably flirting with her again, geesh! He was incorrigible! He was gonna be fine, Jed was certain of it. He was gonna be fine—he had to be.
“Well,” Kenny announced as he pushed himself to his feet. “I best be getting home. Sarah'll be waiting on me. I'll see you fellas in the morning.”
The next few days went well and Heyes progressed at a steady rate. It wasn't long before he graduated from soup up to more substantial meals and his strength was building up rapidly. The time that was spent in bed, he was on his chest or his stomach, his back still being too raw and painful for any weight to be pressed onto it. He still had to be put into the tub at least four times a day to promote the healing and he had indeed come back to his old self again by protesting quite proficiently about the state of his nakedness. Good heavens! It's not like he was five years old!
“Oh Joshua, really!” Sister Julia couldn't help but tease him a little. “We've been tending to your personal needs for over a week now. Besides, Marilyn has been in need of some experience in tending to a male patient and you were very helpful.”
Hannibal blushed and clutched the blanket more tightly around himself. He sent a suspicious look over to the young novice and she smiled sweetly back at him.
“How old are you?” he asked her.
“Ohhh....” Heyes groaned and actually hid his head under the blanket and then added a very muffled; “Go away.”
“Oh come on now Joshua,” the Sister laughed, trying to pull the blanket from over his head. “we're just teasing you. Of course you can wear a pair of trunks if that would make you more comfortable.”
“Yes! Of course! Dr. Gibson....”
But David, who had been eavesdropping with a subtle smile on his face at Hannibal's obvious theatrics, had already gone to the linen closet and found what was necessary.
“Here you go Sister,” he said as he handed them over. “Let me know when he's ready and I'll give you a hand.”
The Sister smiled and rolled her eyes at the silly bashfulness of a grown man. She tapped on the blanket in the general location of the patient's head.
“Here you are Joshua.”
The blanket came down just far enough for brown eyes to get a view of what was being offered.
“Oh,” he said, and then a hand snaked out and snatched the trunks and then the whole body disappeared under cover again. “Thank you,” came the muffled acknowledgement.
There was a fair amount of movement under the blanket as Heyes manoeuvred his feet into the leggings and then pulled the trunks up around his waist. This was not an easy task for the injured man, since despite the regular morphine doses, he was still in a great deal of pain from his wounds and the movement required to accomplish this simple necessity almost made him wonder if his dignity was worth the effort. But again, he was determined or perhaps to be more accurate; stubborn, and got the job done. Then he came up for air.
“Feeling better now?”
“Yes Sister. Thank you.”
“Alright, Doctor. We're ready.”
David came over just as the two ladies were helping Heyes to sit up and bring his legs down over the side of the bed.
“Okay, Han. Do you think you can stand today?”
“I'll give it a try,” Heyes offered. “Where's the Kid?”
“Oh,” Heyes was suddenly sceptical. “Can we do this?”
“I'm sure between the four of us we'll manage,” David assure him. “Just take hold of my arm to pull yourself up and Sister Julia is right there on your other side to support you if you need it. Alright?”
Heyes took hold of David's arm as instructed and then slid himself forward until his feet touched the floor. He wasn't feeling too secure so he looked up at Sister Julia and she needed no other prompting to take hold of his elbow to give him some added assurance. He smiled a little nervously and then slowly pulled himself to his feet.
They were still a little tender from the blistering and then he smiled to himself as he recalled one of Kid's sardonic comments relating to blisters. 'I'd say tender but you'd feel called upon to say somethin' clever and I'd havta kill ya'!' Heyes chuckled and all of his assistants sent him enquiring glances.
He shook his head. “Just remembering something the Kid said I don't know how many years ago.”
“Oh,” David nodded. “Okay, can you take a step?”
Heyes tentatively stepped forward, testing the weight and his balance and just how much it was going to hurt and he was surprised that it really wasn't too bad. Though he had no intentions of letting go of David's arm. He took another step, and another until they ended up beside the tub. There was already water in it, but now Marilyn came over and poured in a bucket of hot water from the stove and then waited to see if more would be needed.
Heyes stood still, staring at the tub and not feeling too confident about being able to step over the rim. Marilyn was getting good at reading the unspoken concerns and quickly came around to help Heyes lift up the one knee and then bring his foot over the edge and step into the water. He sucked his teeth upon first contact.
“Is it too hot?” Marilyn asked, suddenly concerned.
“No. It stings.”
“That's the salt,” David reminded him. “It'll sting for a bit, on your back too but then it will feel better. So just grin and bear it for a moment.”
They got him totally standing inside the tub and then David moved around behind him, with him and the Sister still holding his arms.
“Okay Han, just sit down,” David instructed. “You're not going to slip and we won't let you fall so just slowly—sit down.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Broken Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:37 pm|| |
Heyes hesitated, understandably nervous but then he remembered David's proficiency in assisting him in the past and decided to give himself over to trust. He bent his knees and slowly allowed himself to sink down into the water. David and the Sister held onto him and supported him all the way down so it ended up being a surprisingly easy transition.
Still, he tensed and sucked wind again as the salt water invaded the wounds on his back and he closed his eyes against the pain.
“Just try and relax Hannibal,” David advised him. “I know it stings right now, but it'll get better in a moment.”
It seemed like an awfully long moment to Heyes, but eventually the stinging did ease off and Heyes slid down until his back was fully submerged and then settled into the back of the tub. He closed his eyes with relief this time and then gave a huge sigh of contentment. This was actually feeling pretty good.
The two ladies, feeling confident that everything was under control went back to the small stove to heat up more water and David swung the chair around so that he could sit and keep his friend company.
He sat quietly for a while, leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and his hands clasped in front of him. He watched his patient, waiting for him to respond to the subtle pressure caused simply by another person's presence.
Finally Heyes opened one eye and squinted at the medical man. David smiled.
“What's on your mind David?”
“Just wondering when you're going to be ready to talk.”
Heyes opened both his eyes and gave a frustrated sigh.
“Who says I want to talk?” he asked.
“No one. In fact I don't think you do want to—but I think you should.”
“Okay David,” Heyes placated the man. “what do you want to talk about?”
“Kenny tells me that the new prison doctor should be arriving tomorrow,” David informed the inmate in a less than subtle effort to get the conversation going.
“Oh yeah,” was the non-committal response.
“I expect I'll stay on here a few more days just to make sure that he isn't completely wet behind the ears and then Jed and I will probably head for home.”
“You're doing well.” David pointed out. “Your fever is long gone and your lungs are clear. Sister Julia and Marilyn will continue to care for your injuries. Plus the new doctor will be here, and Officer Reece. So, I have no concerns about your physical well-being. It's the other things that I'm not so sure about.”
Heyes' jaw twitched
“What other things?” he asked.
Never being one to beat around the bush, David came right out with it. “I've been worried about you. Even before this last incident your letters were full of darkness and depression. I know what a good conman you are Hannibal; you can take on any persona you wish. You can hide your true feelings and fool everyone, even Jed. Especially if he wants to be fooled. But in the long run you won't be helping yourself at all. If you're feeling depressed you need to talk about it, alright?”
Heyes' expression went blank and he stared off into nothing.
“I'm fine David,” he insisted. “Why do you keep thinking that I'm bottling things up?”
David looked down at his hands and gave a sigh and then he looked back up at the man who was refusing to look at him.
“I know you were close to Dr. Morin,” David began quietly. “and yet you've said nothing about what happened.”
Heyes shifted uncomfortably, causing the water to ripple a little bit. This had started out to be such a soothing bath.
“What's there to say?” Heyes finally responded, still refusing to look David in the eye. “What happened, happened. Carson will get his one of these days.”
David frowned, confused. “Carson?” he asked. “It was my understanding that Boeman was the perpetrator.”
“Oh.” Heyes looked back at David then. “Oh yeah. Sorry. I meant Boeman.”
The two men locked gazes for a moment. David wasn't sure what was going on here, he just knew that something wasn't right.
“We've been worried about you,” David repeated. “Why can't you tell me what you're thinking about?”
Heyes allowed a flash of irritation to cross his face. Jed was right; David could be a real pest sometimes.
“I'm fine David,” Heyes insisted. “Just ask Kenny, he knows that I've been doing better lately.”
“Don't look for cover in that direction,” David cautioned him. “Officer Reece is the one who insists that you're in trouble. Jed doesn't agree. He thinks that if you were 'having problems' then he would be the first one to see it.”
“Well there ya' go!” Heyes shot back defensively and then saw the sceptical look that David sent him and he retreated a little bit and looked recalcitrant. “Well—what do you think?”
David sighed and thought about that for a moment. “I'm not sure,” he admitted. “Which is why I was hoping that you would talk to me. One thing I do know for sure is that you are a master at disguising what you think and what you feel, even to the point of fooling your cousin, if that is what you decided you wanted to do. Especially since Jed doesn't what to see what Officer Reece sees.”
“And what does 'Officer Reece' see?”
“Like I said; he thinks you're in trouble,” David reiterated. “You've been through a lot these past five years Hannibal—far more than anyone should have to deal with. I'm just afraid that you've lost sight of the goal here, that you've decided to let go.”
Heyes smiled and relaxed into the warm water. He settled into the back of the tub and closed his eyes, sighing with contentment.
“I've been doing a lot of soul-searching David,” he admitted quietly. “come to some decisions.” His smiled broadened, he opened his sparkling eyes and grinned at his friend. “You and Jed don't need to worry about me anymore. Everything is going to be fine.”
The next day when Kenny escorted Dr. Dale Miller over to the infirmary and introduced him to the group who had taken up residence there, David took one look and felt a dread settle over him. He was so young. Indeed, Dr. Miller had only just finished his training back east and wasn't at all sure about taking on the challenge of being a prison physician. But he convinced himself that the experience he would receive there would be invaluable and besides, it wasn't easy for a new doctor to build up a practice. So when the position was offered he decided to give it a try.
David shook his hand and tried to hide his concerns. Sister Julia did her best as well to cover her disappointment, but all she could see in front of her now was the added work load of having to train a new doctor. Jed felt instant relief that Heyes was on the mend and wasn't having to depend on this youngster to keep him alive. He also sent out a silent prayer that his partner would keep himself from getting hurt in the future, thereby avoiding having to return to the infirmary at all. Indeed, it seemed likely that if Heyes continued to be the doctor's assistant, then the inmate would probably be teaching the physician.
Dr. Miller himself could of course feel the slightly chilly reception and did his best to ignore it and try to put on an air of experience and self-confidence that he didn't really feel. It would only be fair to mention at this point that Dr. Miller was indeed very competent and although the first year in residence would prove to be quite the learning curve, he would rise to the challenge and eventually settle in as an honoured and respected medical man. At the moment however, he was the new kid on the block and everyone was viewing him with a sceptical eye.
Once introductions were completed David decided that there was no time like the present to introduce the new doctor to his one and only patient. Heyes had been laying on his stomach with a pillow supporting his chest and arms while he was reading some 'Get Well' letters from the orphans when the newbie arrived. He had frowned in irritation as the verbal introductions had interrupted his focus, then shuffled the letters aside with a loud rustling and rolled onto his side to glare irritated daggers at the group over by the counter.
This was Dr. Miller's first impression of the outlaw Hannibal Heyes and he was instantly intimidated. Of course, just like many young men of his generation, Dale Miller had grown up hearing all about the exploits of Heyes and Curry, even from back east. Or perhaps, especially from back east since many easterners have a fascination with anything to do with the 'wild west'. Stories of the numerous outlaw bands running roughshod over the law in the frontier territories tended to get blown out of proportion. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and The Devil's Hole Gang were hardly an exception to that rule.
“Dr. Miller, this is your patient, Hannibal Heyes,” David introduced them. “Hannibal, be nice.”
Heyes rolled his eyes and then glanced over at Kenny who was also giving him the eye to behave himself. Heyes sighed in resignation, then flashing his dimples turned on his indelible charm.
“Dr. Miller,” Heyes greeted him. “welcome to Hell.”
Jed snorted. Dr. Miller stared wide eyed and opened mouthed for an instant and realized that he better say something.
“Oh yes,” he mumbled. “It's nice to be....” And then the sentence trailed off as he realized that it was a totally inappropriate response. He smiled self-consciously. “Ahh, yes.”
“You better be nice to him Han,” David suggested. “I'm not going to be around much longer and you don't want to go biting the hand that's treating you.”
“Hmm,” was Heyes' only comment and then he shifted onto his stomach again and went back to his letters.
Two days later Kid pulled up a chair and sat down beside Heyes who was laying on his side on the bed and snoozing. He opened his eyes though as the Kid sat down facing him and the two friends smiled at each other.
“How you feelin' Heyes?”
“Didn't wake ya' up did I?”
“No,” Heyes sort of shook his head. “Just dozing.”
Jed nodded. “Listen, ah—I gotta get going.”
“Yeah I know,” Heyes mumbled. “That's alright. You and David have been here quite a while. I'm okay now.”
“Ya' sure Heyes?” Kid questioned him. “Cause Kenny thinks....”
“Aww, don't go listening to Kenny. I think he's just worked here too long. Starting to see ghosts in the cell blocks!”
Jed grinned. “Yeah. Just jumpin' at shadows. You're alright then?”
“Yeah, I'm good,” he smiled and took on a conspiratorial countenance. “We'll talk more about it the next time you come.” Then he glanced over at the doctors and the Sisters. “When we have a bit more privacy. I've been thinking about things, but I really need to talk to you about it before I do anything.” Then a hand came out and patted the Kid on the knee. “We'll talk next time you come.”
Kid creased his brow, not quite sure what to make of this; Heyes was acting a little strange.
“Yeah okay,” Kid answered, though a little hesitant. “Ahh, Lom's wedding is in a couple of weeks. I thought I would attend that and then stop by here on the way home. That way we can tell ya' all about it.”
“Hmm,” Heyes frowned. “Will Beth be with you?”
“Well yeah,” Jed admitted. “She and Clem are coming to the wedding. Why? Don't you want to see them?”
“No,” Heyes stated point blank. “I don't want them here. You come alone, alright?”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Jed agreed, though he was a little confused. “I mean, Clem and Beth can carry on home together and I can come in on my own. I just thought you would like to see them.”
“Not this trip Kid,” Heyes reiterated. “You come alone.”
“Alright,” Jed agreed as he stood up. “I'll see ya' in a couple of weeks.”
Then David came over and replaced the Kid on the chair. Heyes acknowledged him with a smile and a nod.
“Okay Hannibal, we're heading for home,” David announced the obvious. “You and Dr. Miller seem to be getting along alright.”
“Yeah, he's okay for a newbie.”
“You should be up and around here within the week,” David predicted. “Maybe you can carry on as his assistant. You already know your way around—you'd probably be very helpful to him.”
“Nah,” Heyes declined. “It's just not the same without old Doc Morin.”
David nodded. “I know. Maybe in time...”
Heyes reached out and took hold of David's right hand in his, effectively cutting the doctor off in mid sentence.
“You take care of yourself David,” Heyes said. “and look after my partner, will ya'?”
David mimicked Jed at this point, by creasing his brow and thinking the same thing. He took Heyes' hand in both of his then and looked his friend in the eye.
“Are you sure you're alright Hannibal?” he asked. “Sure you don't want to talk?”
“Aww, David! Stop being a mother hen!” Heyes reprimanded him. “I'm just sorry to be saying 'goodbye' to you. It was good to see ya' again.”
“Okay Han,” David smiled and stood up. “I'll keep an eye on Jed and you keep on writing to me, alright?”
Sixteen days later to be precise, Jed made his way back to the prison for the promised visit with his cousin. He hadn't received any emergency telegrams from Kenny so he assumed that everything was going alright and that Heyes was back on his feet and returning to his normal routine Jed had breathed a sigh of relief over the 'no news is good news' dictum and had become to feel comfortable with his own opinion that Heyes was fine and that Kenny had indeed been jumping at shadows.
The two ladies had been disappointed at Heyes' request that they not visit him this time around and Clementine had actually been somewhat incensed. But Jed had stood his ground and assured them that next time would be soon enough. Heyes probably just wasn't feeling quite up to snuff yet and needed a little bit more time before being able to handle a whole parcel of visitors. That being decided, Beth sent along her good wishes with assurances of a visit soon and she and Clem carried on into Colorado on their own.
Jed went through the usual routine of checking his gun in at the reception and then waited until he had the go-ahead to enter into the visiting room. Heyes was sitting at his usual spot with Murrey standing guard behind him. The inmate smiled as Jed came in and sat down and both men settled in for a visit.
“This all seems silly now,” Jed commented.
“What?” Heyes asked.
“Having a guard here, and you having to wear those shackles and everything,” Jed pointed out. “I mean, I just spent nearly two weeks with you in the infirmary, not to mention the visits at the orphanage. You weren't wearing shackles on those occasions, and nobody yelled at me if I touched ya'! Now here we are back to this nonsense again.”
“Yeah,” Heyes gave kind of a lopsided grin. “I does seem kinda silly doesn't it.”
“Yeah,” and Jed sent a rather resentful look back towards Murrey. Murrey just looked blandly back at him. “So,” Jed decided to ignore the guard. “how ya' doin' Heyes? Ya' back to work again?”
“Yeah,” Heyes answered. “I'm fine. Been doing a lot of thinking.”
“Oh yeah,” Jed's tone was a little defensive. Whenever Heyes starting thinking it usually meant trouble for somebody—and more often than not, it usually meant trouble for Jed. “What about?”
“Yeah,” Heyes gave a deep sigh and settled more into his chair. “This has gone on long enough Jed.” The Kid felt a slight chill at the use of his given name. “You and Beth should get married, start your family. You need to get on with your life.”
Now Kid got really defensive. “God dammit Heyes!” he snapped back at his cousin. “How many times do I havta tell ya'!? We're not getting married until we get you outa here!”
“Yeah, yeah I know,” Heyes admitted. “And I know that you're just stubborn enough to stick to that too.”
“Exactly! And you're not gonna talk me out of it!”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well then why even bring it up Heyes?” Kid felt exasperation. “We're not doing anything until you get outa here!”
“But that's just it Kid,” Heyes told him and then smiled with genuine warmth and Kid felt another chill go through him. There as an odd look to Heyes' eyes—one that Jed had never seen before and it scared him. Heyes leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially; “I've found a way out.”
“I've found a way out.”
“It was one of the other inmates,” Heyes explained quietly, his face alight with joy. “a young fella, way back when I was first incarcerated here. I don't even remember his name. But he showed me the way out.”
“But...” Kid was really confused now. “what about you saying that you wouldn't escape even if it was offered to ya'? That it wouldn't be worth all the running and hiding for the rest of your life—our lives! I mean—you tell me to get married and then say you're gonna break out?” Jed lowered his voice even more and sent a cautionary glance over to Murrey. That guard wasn't too concerned. “What am I supposed to be doing in all this—and how am I supposed to get married if we're running for the border!?”
“No, no Kid,” Heyes assured him, still smiling quietly. “You get married. I won't be running anywhere.”
“With the way out that he showed me, there's no need to run anymore—no need to hide,” Heyes' grin broadened. “There's no more pain, no more fear. Everything will be fine.”
“Yea mean, this fella...this other inmate. He got out?” Jed was sceptical.
Heyes nodded. “Yeah.”
“And he's living now—somewhere, happy and carefree?” Kid needed confirmation on this.
“Well no,” Heyes had to admit. “he's not actually living. The guards shot him dead before he even got half way up the wall.”
“He showed me the way out Kid,” Heyes explained. “The only way out that he could find.”
“Heyes, what the hell are you talking about!?”
But realization was beginning to dawn, and Jed felt a freezing chill go through him and take hold of his heart. He couldn't be hearing this right—he just couldn't be.
“Heyes....” It was barely more than a whisper.
“I didn't want to come back Kid,” Heyes continued to explain. “I wasn't going to, but you just wouldn't let me go. You and David and Sister Julia. And Kenny. You just wouldn't let me go.”
He stopped and became reflective then, pursing his lips as he considered his situation.
“But maybe it was for the best that I came back,” he continued philosophically. “cause I wanted to talk to you first anyways, and Doc Morin said that I wouldn't be able to get a message to ya' once I was totally there—not easily anyways. And I wanted to tell ya' Kid that you shouldn't feel bad. This isn't your fault. I know you've done everything you could have done, more than I ever would have expected. I just had to let you know Kid, that this is what I want so don't spend the rest of your life feeling guilty, okay? You and Beth need to get married, get on with your lives—be happy, okay?”
“What!? No....!” Jed's throat was tied in a knot, even he could hear his voice shaking. “What do ya' mean; get on with my life?! How the hell am I suppose to do that knowing that you....that you...NO! How can you expect me to do that? How am I suppose to be a good husband and a good father, how am I suppose to go on with my life and be happy, knowing that the only reason I have that life is because you did this!?”
“But this is what I want, Kid. Can't ya' see?” Heyes tried to be reasonable. “I just feel like I'm getting in your way, that I'm holding you back. I'm doing this for you.”
“NO!” The palm of Kid's hand slapped hard onto the table and then an accusing finger was pointed in Heyes' face. “DON'T YOU DARE LAY THIS ON ME! You're not doing this for me Heyes! You'd be killing me! Can't you see that!? You do this and you'd be KILLING ME TOO!!”
“No, no,” Heyes responded calmly. “I've been watching you Kid, you'll be fine. You've grown so much without me dragging you down. You're your own man now, you don't need me anymore. You'll see—you'll be fine.”
Kid took himself in hand and tried to calm down. He wasn't going to get anywhere with Heyes by yelling at him. Some instinct was telling him that he had to be rational here that he had to try and use common sense to get his partner to see reason. But he was so scared! This was a totally new situation for him and he had no idea how to deal with it.
Vaguely Kid was aware of Murrey quietly making his way to the door and knocking on it. He didn't like the way this visit was going and wanted to be sure he had back up in case things really got out of hand. Then Kid dismissed him as he desperately tried to come up with another line of logic.
“What about....what about our friends, Heyes? What about everyone who has been working so hard to get you out of here?” Kid was grasping at straws. “Lom and David and..and what about the Jordan's? C'mon Heyes! How do ya' think they would feel if you just.....I mean, Beth and Bridget—they love you Heyes! Think about what you would be doing to them!”
Heyes shrugged inconsequentially. “Bridget has Steven. Beth has you. They'll be fine.”
“Well, what about those orphans Heyes!?” Jed was amazing even himself with all these straws he was pulling out of the hat, but it would be all for not if none of them turned his cousin's thinking around. “Who have they got? They look up to you. You know what it was like being orphaned like that, and you have nobody you can turn to, nobody to use as a role model! That's not right Heyes, that you take that away from them!”
Heyes had the decency to look a little contrite at that, but then he shook his head and countered Jed's move.
“They don't even know me,” he reasoned. “They just have this idea of who I am from the stories they've read—that's not me. They're just admiring a product of their own imaginations.”
“SO WHAT!?” Kid yelled back at him. “What difference does that make?! So what if the person they think you are isn't the 'real' you!? They still look up to you! You'd still be breaking their hearts if you did this! They'd carry the hurt of it with them for the rest of their lives! How can you DO THAT!? How can you even think about DOING THAT!? Haven't they lost enough in their lives and now you're gonna take this away from them too!?”
Heyes quietly shook his head again.
“No Kid,” he responded. “You're reading more into it than is actually there. I'm just a diversion, that's all. They'll get over it, grow up and move on. Children are resilient, you'll see. And they have the Sisters there to help them on their way. We never had that Kid. They'll be fine.”
Jed sat quietly for a moment, His blood pounding in his ears, his mind spinning in an attempt to come up with something—anything that would sway his cousin's decision. Then, out of the blue it came to him, a last ditch effort. It was hard and it was cruel and it was hitting below the belt, but Kid was desperately fighting for his partner's life in a way that he never would have imagined. It was time for the 'kid' gloves to come off.
“What about your daughter, Heyes?” he asked quietly. “What about Anya?”
Heyes blinked as the gentle query passed through his defences and surrounded his heart. That quiet, infuriating smile left his face, and his jaw turned hard. Jed felt a thrill of hope that maybe, just maybe he'd hit on the right incentive.
“How old would she be now?” Kid asked quietly, not wanting to loose the edge. “Nine, ten?”
“Nine,” Heyes answered without hesitation.
“Nine,” Jed repeated. “Right around the same age when we lost our folks.”
Heyes pursed his lips, feeling irritation take over. Why did Kid have to bring her up?
“It's not the same thing,” Heyes insisted. “She doesn't even know who I am.”
“Course she does Heyes,” Kid said. “Every child who can read a book knows who you are.”
Heyes sat back, more than irritated now. He was getting angry. His well laid plan was being threatened. He'd had this all worked out! Why couldn't Kid just accept it and move on!?
“Fine!” he acquiescent with a snap. “She doesn't know that I'm her father.”
“Not yet,” Kid agreed. “but Abi's going to tell her, as soon as she's old enough to understand what a secret is. Abi's not going to keep that secret from her; she knows Anya has the right to know who her father is—she's going to tell her.”
Heyes sat quietly for a moment, sullen, sulky.
“Abi doesn't want me to be a part of Anya's life, she made that perfectly clear,” Heyes mumbled, feeling sorry for himself. “And I suppose she was right—after what happened.....” Heyes stopped in mid-sentence, his jaw tightening even more. Jed instantly felt sympathy for his partner, but hope too—hope that he was winning this battle. “Anya's never going to know who I am, so what I do isn't going to make any difference.”
“You don't know that Heyes,” Kid insisted, trying desperately to keep his partner off balance, to get him to see reason. “And you doing this....you'd be stealing away from her any possibility at all of her having a chance to know you! Jeez Heyes! We both know what that's like; to grow up without that connection! And here you are all ready to snatch that away from her! That's not right!”
“It's not the same,” Heyes threw back. “She has Abi. Abi's been a good mother to her, Anya doesn't need any more than that. She doesn't know any more than that.”
“Yeah!?” Kid was getting mad again. “And what about when Anya does find out that her father was Hannibal Heyes!? What then, huh!? What do ya' think that will do to her, huh!? Her father; the great Hannibal Heyes who ended up being such a coward that he killed himself in prison!”
Kid had hoped to get a rise out of Heyes with that insult, but the exact opposite happened. Heyes' mood instantly deflated along with Jed's hopes of pulling his partner out of this decree. Then Heyes' mood changed again and he relaxed and smiled back at the Kid.
“No,” he said, softly shaking his head. “It doesn't matter. You just don't understand. It doesn't matter. Anya will be fine—she has Abi. She's never needed me.”
Heyes sat back then and his eyes glazed over just a little as he looked off into the middle distance, seeing things that weren't there.
“It's cold,” he whispered. “The season's are changing—there's frost on the ground.”
Jed hesitated, fighting the fear that was threatening to overwhelm him and to choke away all logical thought.
“It's not cold Heyes,” he pointed out quietly. “It's still summer. It's hot out today.”
Heyes smiled sweetly, almost looking like a little boy. His eyes were calm again, calm and distant.
“It's cold,” he repeated. “The leaves are crunchy underfoot and they're lined with sparkling white. The sun is shinning, but it's not warm out is it Kid? It's cold. And such a brilliant blue sky. We could play in the leaves, like we used to—remember?”
Jed nodded, but he couldn't find his voice. He didn't know what to do with this, this was something new, so out of the realm of his experience that his mind felt like it was skipping, trying to process this information, but not wanting to accept it at the same time. It was as though this person sitting in front of him wasn't his cousin anymore; that Hannibal Heyes was no longer there, that he'd been replaced by the ghost of a child, his reasoning mind replaced by innocence.
“But there's blood all over them,” Heyes continued, his gentle expression changing to one of mild concern. “So much blood. The matron says we can't play in them anymore.” Then Heyes was back to smiling and looking relaxed. “The grass is nice though, it smells so fragrant. There's nothing like summertime, eh Kid? So soft and warm. They're all here you know. Doc says that I can see my folks again; wouldn't that be nice?”
“Doc?” Kid whispered, his heart in his throat. This was the second time Heyes had referred to his friend, the doctor. What the hell was going on? “Doc Morin, ya' mean?”
“Yeah,” Heyes nodded as though that should have been obvious. “I've been talking to Doc. He says that I can see anyone I like.” Then the soft smile turned into a dimpled grin and he looked directly at Kid, his brown eyes sparkling. “Even Jenny and little Rebecca—they're here, waiting for me. I want so much to be able to see them again.”
Jed was lost. Fear had his heart like a vice and he sent an imploring look back to the guard, hoping that Murrey might have some clue. Unfortunately that guard was just as much at a loss as Jed was, and even had a slight smirk on his face as though to say that Heyes must just be pulling his leg. This was just one of Heyes' cons. No help there. Jed looked back to his cousin again, trying to bring reason back into those dark eyes.
“Heyes, those people are all dead....you can't...”
“Yeah I know,” Heyes agreed. “They're waiting for me. Ohh, it was so nice there Jed. Really. If you could have seen it, you would understand why I didn't want to come back. I know you meant well, but I really wish you hadn't pulled me back. Still, it did give me the chance to talk to you; to let you know; Don't feel bad for me—it's what I want. Don't ya' see? We don't need to be afraid of death, it's not a bad thing. I don't know why we fought against it so hard and for so long. It's not a bad thing at all.”
“Heyes, don't do this,” Kid was begging him, his voice a breathless whisper. “Come back to me, please.”
Heyes just smiled and shook his head.
“No. I havta go,” he insisted. “But don't worry, I'll see ya' again. I'll wait for you and then you'll see what a wonderful place it is.”
“Heyes! No!” Jed was getting frustrated and angry and even more scared; he was loosing the battle and he knew it. “You can't do this!”
Heyes stood up then and Murrey was quick to take hold of an arm. Things had calmed down a little bit, but now Mr. Curry seemed to be getting agitated again and maybe it was time to call this visit to an end. Jed stood up as well, but it was an aggressive move, his face angry, his hands leaning on the table.
“Heyes! Promise me!” he was yelling now. “Promise me you won't do anything! PROMISE ME!”
Murrey quickly pulled Heyes back from the table and then knocked on the door to get it opened from the inside of the prison proper. The guard brought his rifle up and got between the inmate and the visitor, not quite sure what was going to happen here.
“MR. CURRY! BACK OFF!”
“NO!” Kid yelled back at him and then slammed his palm down on the table with a loud SMACK! “HEYES! PROMISE ME YOU WON'T DO ANYTHING! PROMISE ME!”
The door leading back into the prison ward had opened by that time and Davis, quickly assessing the situation, took Heyes by the arm and was pulling him back across the threshold. Heyes was totally unresisting, but continued to smile at his cousin as he was being pulled away.
“It'll be alright Kid, you'll see,” he repeated. “But don't come back here alright? Go get married, go have a life, but I don't want you coming back here again.”
“NO! HEYES! PROMISE ME!”
But Heyes was gone and the door closed between them. Curry found himself fighting against the guard, trying desperately to get to his partner, but Murrey wasn't letting him, indeed he was pushing the Kid back towards the exit.
“NO!” Kid was still yelling. “You gotta stop him!”
“Mr. Curry, calm down!” Murrey was getting mad himself. “We'll watch him.”
“NO! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!” Kid was desperate, his anger taking hold. “If Heyes says he's gonna do something—he'll do it! Ya' gotta stop him!!”
“Don't worry about it....”
Kid exploded! He'd had it with this idiot! Grabbing Murrey by the collar, he pushed the man off of him and had him up against the wall in an instant. Murrey reacted on trained instinct and Kid felt the business end of the rifle butt in his gut, pushing him back and knocking the wind out of him. Then the guard was on him and had him out the door and into the foyer before Jed had a chance to regain his balance, or his breath.
“BACK OFF AND CALM DOWN!” was the heated advise thrown at him. “I told ya'! We'll watch him!”
Kid stood against the counter, bent over and clutching his gut.
“No!” he gasped out. “No. Get Kenny! Now! I need to talk to Kenny!”
“Just back off a minute!” Murrey ordered him and then looked around at the guard behind the reception counter. “You watch him, alright.”
“You bet,” that guard agreed while giving the Kid an intimidating glare. “I'll make sure he doesn't go anywhere.”
“Good!” Murrey stated. “And whatever you do, don't give him back his gun!”
“Don't worry about that.”
Then Murrey turned back to the Kid.
“Alright, Mr. Curry,” he agreed. “I know that you and Officer Reece seem to have some kind of an understanding between you, so I'll go get him. But you behave yourself or you'll be getting an armed escort off the prison property, do you understand?”
“Yeah! Fine! Just go get him!”
Murrey disappeared back into the prison proper and Jed started to pace, totally ignoring the glare that he was receiving from the receptionist.
It seemed an eternity before the door opened again and Kenny stepped into the foyer. Without skipping a beat Jed came at him and had him by the collar in his desperation to get something happening. The receptionist was instantly on the move, coming to assist his boss and protect him from what he perceived as a physical attack.
“No, Mr. Grant!” Kenny assured him quickly. “It's alright—don't worry about it.”
Grant stopped in his tracks, his rifle ready and his expression doubtful.
“You sure? He's looking kinda wild to me.”
“No, it's alright,” Kenny reiterated. “Stand down.”
Jed still had hold of Kenny's lapels, desperation pouring from every aspect of his countenance.
“Kenny! I'm sorry! You were right—Jesus—you were so right!” Jed was in his face, pleading for help even before the words could find their way out. “How the hell could you see it and I couldn't!”
Kenny had his hands on Jed's shoulders, trying to calm him down.
“See what Jed?” he asked him quietly. “What are you talking about?”
“Dammit Kenny! He said it!” Kid explained. “He told me he was going to do it! HOW COULD HE SAY THAT TO ME! Dammit! You gotta stop him Kenny! You gotta stop him!”
“Jed, calm down! Who said what?” Kenny already suspected what Jed was talking about, but he needed to get the man to calm down and articulate, get him talking in a straight line.
“HEYES!” Jed explained as though Kenny should already know this. “Heyes told me—just now! He told me he was gonna do it—he was gonna....” But Jed choked on the words and he couldn't get it out.
“Alright, alright. Calm down,” Kenny assured him, having garnered enough from Jed's panicked outburst to now know for sure. “I already suspected this, you know that. I have been watching him but he hasn't done anything to warrant any further action. What triggered him?”
Jed was trying to calm down, but his heart was still pounding in his throat and he was having a hard time getting the words out.
“He said...he was waiting...to talk to me...first,” he explained between trying to breathe. “That he...didn't want me to feel...guilty. Jeez Kenny, he said he's been talking to dead people! That..... everything was gonna be fine and not to worry about him! You were right—he didn't want to come back; he didn't want us to save him! And all he wants now is to return to where he was—that it was so nice there that he hadn't wanted to leave it!”
“Alright,” Kenny patted the Kid's shoulder, trying to reassure him. “Did he say when he was going to try this—or how?”
“No,” Kid shook his head, taking one more deep cleansing breath as he started to relax. “No. He just started talking about some other inmate who showed him the way out. It would have been about four years ago I guess, and this fella made a run at the perimeter wall or something, and the guards shot him. That's all Heyes said about it.”
Kenny sighed and nodded. “Yeah, okay. I'll check the records, there'll be a report about it. I do recall something like that happening.” Then he smiled at Kid. “I'll keep an eye on him Jed. And I'll make sure the night guards know that he's at risk.”
“Keep an eye on him?” Jed repeated incredulously. “Is that all!? Can't you lock him in his cell!? Tie him up—or something! Anything!?”
“For how long?” Kenny asked reasonably. “We can't keep him tied up in his cell for the next seven years. If he's determined to do it then sooner or later he'll find a way. We just have to wait, and watch him and hopefully stop him if he does attempt anything, then maybe we can....”
But whatever Kenny was going to say was cut short by the muffled report of three rifle shots reaching their ears from the vicinity of the inner courtyard. Both men froze, blue eyes locking onto grey! Then, as though a starter's pistol had gone off, they both made a dash towards the access door to the prison proper.
Grant was also instantly on the move, getting in between the two men and effectively blocking the Kid from following the senior guard into the secured area. Kid fought against him, determined to go to his cousin's rescue.
“NO JED! WAIT HERE!” Kenny ordered him as he opened the door.
“WHAT DO YA' MEAN—WAIT HERE?” Jed was adamant. He had to get in there.
“You can't come in here Jed!” Kenny informed him. “Wait here! I'll be back!”
And with that Kenny was gone, the door closing and locking behind him. Jed seethed and glared at Grant, but saw no sympathy there. Grant pushed him back and let him know in no uncertain body language that he was to stay put and stay civil.
Kid had no choice but to comply, but he was in a state and began to pace around the alcove like a wild stallion in a paddock. What was going on? Had Heyes actually done it? Had he gone directly outside and made a run for it? Dammit! What was going on!?
Kid paced and waited. Waited and paced, and time stood still while the world held its breath.
TO BE CONTINUED
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Broken Chapter thirty-one Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:55 am|| |
Oh, my! He's suicidal now and I can understand why. Poor Jed feels so helpless and I can't leave it here. What are you doing to me, woman? I have things to do but I have to keep reading
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: Broken Chapter thirty-one Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:19 am|| |
Sorry. No wait a minute--no I'm not. LOL! Glad you're getting so wrapped up. You're almost there.
Posts : 7
Join date : 2020-08-10
|Subject: Re: Broken Chapter thirty-one Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:05 pm|| |
These chapters are so well written that I feel the hopelessness and frantic worry. Very hard to read but compelled to keep going
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: Broken Chapter thirty-one Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:14 am|| |
Thank you. It does seem like you're getting through these chapters quite quickly. Imagine what it was like when I was first writing them, one chapter at a time. Everyone had to wait two weeks for the next installment.
|Subject: Re: Broken Chapter thirty-one || |
Broken Chapter thirty-one