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 Healing Chapter thirty-three

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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty
PostSubject: Healing Chapter thirty-three   Healing    Chapter thirty-three EmptyTue Nov 12, 2013 11:02 pm

Healing


It was cold on the morning when Steven made his way into the Wyoming Territorial Prison. He was on his own during this visit since he didn't want Bridget coming on a trip like this during the crucial early months of her pregnancy, especially in this cold! There wasn't actually any snow on the ground yet, but it was definitely threatening and Steven just hoped that he could accomplish the numerous things he had to do here before he got snowed in.

He entered into the prison and went through the usual routine of getting in to see an inmate and then went to sit in the alcove to wait until the inmate was ready to receive him. A number of things were going through his mind while he waited. He really didn't know what to expect when it came to speaking with Mr. Heyes. Jed had told him that Heyes was calmer now; that he had turned away from that self-destructive course and therefore should be able to give an accurate accounting of that day in the infirmary. But Steven felt sceptical; he'd just have to wait and see, see how responsive Heyes was—and how credible.

“Mr. Granger. You can enter now.”

Steven looked up to see that the receptionist, Mr. Grant had approached him unnoticed and now stood waiting expectantly for the lawyer to respond to the summons. Steven did not disappoint and he got to his feet and made the move towards the visitor room door.

“Thank you Officer,” Steven then took a deep breath and entered the room

Heyes was sitting at the desk as usual. He looked up as Steven entered and sent the lawyer a ghost of a smile before dropping both his gaze and his smile once again and stared listlessly down at his hands. Officer Reece was in attendance as well and he greeted and acknowledged the lawyer with a little bit more animation than the inmate.

“Officer Reece,” Steven greeted him. “good to see you again.”

“Good morning Mr. Granger. Glad you could make it before the snows came.”

Steven nodded emphatically. “Hmm—me too!”

He sent the inmate a speculative glance and then sitting down, he opened his brief case and set out his pad of paper, a pen and an ink jar. All the while he was keeping an eye on his client, trying to get any indication of the man's fragile state of mind. Finally it was Heyes himself who broke the silence.

“Bridget not with you today?” he asked quietly.

“No,” Steven answered him. “I didn't think it would be wise, given her condition.”

Heyes frowned. “Her condition?”

“Bridget is in the family way Mr. Heyes,” Steven explained. “We're expecting.”

“Oh,” was the only response he got.

Steven sent a quick speculative glance to Kenny then looked back to the inmate again.

“Are you comfortable with Officer Reece being here?” he asked. “You are entitled to complete confidentiality if you would prefer.”

Heyes sighed and he and Kenny locked eyes for an instant. Then Heyes looked back to his lawyer again.

“No no,” he said. “I would actually prefer that Kenny stay. He is a part of this, after all.”

“Fine,” Steven agreed and inwardly he was actually relieved. Though Steven was well acquainted with his client he could tell that there had been some significant changes in his demeanour and the presence of the guard would probably make this whole interview go a lot smoother.

“Alright Mr. Heyes,” Steven continued as he dunked his pen into the ink. “if you would just go ahead and tell me what you remember about that day in the infirmary.”

Heyes nodded and then, his voice a quiet monotone he related those events that led up to the Doctor being stabbed. At that point Heyes' throat tightened up on him and he had to stop to collect himself. The memory of those events were so painful to the inmate that both men witnessing the recital found it difficult to listen to and neither of them could meet the others' eye. Heyes took a deep breath and continued on until such time as the escaping inmates were leaving the actual prison and then Steven stopped him and looked to the guard.

“Is this how you recall these events, Officer Reece?” he asked. “Is there anything here that you wish to elaborate on?”

“No Mr. Granger,” Kenny answered. “that's pretty much how it happened. Though I didn't actually witness the assault upon Dr. Morin, what Heyes says happened fits the circumstances. For one thing, Doc wouldn't have been trying to console Heyes, if Heyes was the one who had knifed him.”

Steven nodded. Heyes was hanging his head, the memories of that day cutting him to the quick yet again.

“So both of you are pretty much in agreement that it was Hank Boeman who inflicted the fatal wound upon Dr. Morin,” Steven asked for confirmation.

Kenny nodded. “Yes,” he stated.

Heyes continued to stare at the table in front of him and gave no indication of response. Kenny and Steven both looked at him.

“Are we in agreement, Mr. Heyes?” Steven finally asked again.

Heyes slowly looked up, a dull pain clouding his eyes. He looked over at Kenny, as though asking for help but Kenny didn't know what was wanted of him. Then Heyes looked back to Steven.

“I don't know,” he admitted in a whisper.

“You don't know?” Both Steven and Kenny were taken by surprise. They had thought that this was the one aspect of the case that was a shoe in. “You just stated yourself that you saw Hank Boeman stab Dr. Morin in the side with the scalpel. Do you wish to retract that statement?”

“No,” Heyes assured him. “I'm just not sure that it was the knife wound that killed him.”

There was a stunned silence for a moment, the pen in Steven's hand held poised above the paper and the ink drying on its tip.

“I see,” said Steven, trying to buy a moment to collect his thoughts. “What do you think killed him then—if not the blood loss from that wound?”

Heyes sat silent for a moment again, his lips parted to answer but his countenance weighed down with uncertainty. He looked up at Kenny again, seeking reassurance and Kenny met his gaze and nodded for him to carry on. Heyes looked back to his lawyer.

Steven sat and watched this exchange, shocked at the change in this man. All the confidence was gone from him. The cocky arrogance that had gotten him into so much trouble during his trial had been so totally beaten out of him that the lawyer would never have recognized him as the same man. A submissive younger brother perhaps, but certainly not the man who had once led the Devil's Hole gang to such infamy.

“I don't know if I should say,” Heyes confessed.

“If you have any doubts about what happened that day then now is the time to bring them up,” Steven assured him.

Heyes bit his lower lip, a picture of child-like consternation. “At one point there, I was certain of what I knew, but now....I'm not so sure.”

Steven put his dry pen down on the table. “You may speak freely of any doubts you have,” he assured his client. “I won't write any of it down and it will not be taken as your final testimony. Nor will anything you say at this meeting be held against you. I want you to feel free to voice your concerns.”

Heyes still hesitated. He was no longer delusional which actually made what he had to say even more difficult; he was aware now more than ever how it was going to sound to the other men here. He knew that he could be blowing his credibility altogether with this one statement, but he had to have his say, if for no one else, then for the Doc.

“I have reason to believe that it was Mr. Carson who actually killed the Doc,” he finally forced out and then he waited with baited breath for the reaction.

The reaction was stunned silence. Steven recovered quickly and looked over at a confused Kenny.

“Was Officer Carson in the infirmary with you?” he asked the guard.

“No,” Kenny was positive. “I left Carson back in the cell block. He was no where near the infirmary at the time of the escape.”

“It was afterwards,” Heyes explained and then looked up at Kenny. “Remember, Doc told me not to worry because someone would come looking for us soon enough and they'd help him—remember?”

“Yeah,” Kenny nodded. “I figured that he was right. If we didn't show up back in the cell block within a certain amount of time, Carson would have sent someone to check up on us.”

“Well he didn't send anyone,” Heyes informed them. “he came himself. But instead of helping Doc, Carson took one of the pillows and suffocated him. Then he told Warden Mitchell that I killed the Doc.”

“Why would he do that?” Steven asked.

“He and Doc never liked each other,” Heyes reasoned. “He may have seen it as an opportunity to get rid of a thorn in his side. I donno.” He shrugged. “He knew that Doc had supplied some pretty damning written testimony for my hearing—maybe it was revenge.”

“Yes, but so did I Heyes,” Kenny pointed out. “and I actually testified in person. Why didn't he come after me too then?”

“I donno,” Heyes admitted, his mind still in a fog. “Maybe he didn't want to go after another guard. I donno. But why else would he say that I did it, when I know I didn't?”

Kenny and Steven exchanged sceptical looks. Heyes looked and felt dejected.

“Do you have any proof to support this accusation Mr. Heyes?” Steven asked him.

“Doc told me.”

“Excuse me?” Steven asked, not sure he'd heard right. “Ahhmm, what do you mean?”

Kenny groaned; Heyes' delusional rantings instantly coming back to mind.

“I know it sounds crazy!” Heyes suddenly spoke up, defending himself. “And I know you'll probably think that I'm a candidate for the lunatic asylum—hell, sometimes I think I'm a candidate for the lunatic asylum! I just.....it's just that it seemed so real! At least it did at the time.” Heyes slumped again, feeling dejected and no longer certain of what he thought he knew. “I was so certain that I was with Doc and that I was talking to him just as surely as I'm here talking to you. But now; I just don't know anymore.”

“Heyes, you nearly died in that dark cell,” Kenny pointed out. “When we pulled you out of there you were raving, you were delusional. I know when a person is that close to death, the hallucinations you have seem real, but.....”

“I know,” Heyes admitted. Then he smiled with just a hint of his old cockiness flashing through “So not really admissible in court then, huh.”

Steven smiled. “No. I'm afraid not.”

Heyes nodded acceptance and then sat silent again for a moment. Finally he sighed and looked up.

“Then 'yes' Mr. Granger,” he said. “I am in agreement that Hank Boeman inflicted the fatal wound that killed Dr. Morin.”


An hour later found Steven with his next appointment for that day, no matter how distasteful he might find that task to be. He sat in the warden's office, contemplating the man who was contemplating him and trying very hard to hide the unpleasant taste in his mouth.

“Mr. Curry has informed me of some interesting statements made by you that I feel need to be substantiated,” Steven finally announced. “I'm very interested to hear what you have to say about that Mr. Mitchell.”

“I believe that Mr. Curry has wasted your time Mr. Granger,” Mitchell countered with a rather condescending smile. “He would say anything to try and divert guilt from his friend.”

“Hmm,” was Steven's calculated response. “You do realize that you are in a rather haphazard position with your accusation.”

“No Mr. Granger, I don't realize that at all,” Mitchell countered. “On the contrary, a statement made by the dying man to my senior guard presents a very solid case against Mr. Heyes. It is only natural that the inmate would deny it.”

“I believe it was Mr. Dalton was it not, who pointed out the flaw in that reasoning?” Steven reminded him. “And now with the statements you made to Mr. Curry, well.....” Steven shrugged theatrically and then smiled. “Am I right in assuming that the escaped inmate, Mr. Harris has not been re-captured at this time?”

Mitchell shifted a little uncomfortably. “Unfortunately that is correct,” the warden admitted. “But rest assured he will be re-captured—one way or another.”

“I certainly hope so,” Steven stated. “And if Mr. Carson is speaking the truth then I'm assuming that you will do everything possible to assure that Mr. Harris is captured alive since at this point, he is the only one capable of breaking the stalemate that we seem to find ourselves in.”

Mitchell's colouring deepened in indignant anger. “Are you suggesting that I would have the escapee deliberately killed in order to prevent him from testifying?”

“Only if his testimony would contradict what Mr. Carson has stated,” Steven specified. “He would be a totally unbiased eyewitness to what actually happened that day in the infirmary. So until Mr. Harris can be re-captured and brought forward to testify all we have is hearsay that is questionable at best. Hardly enough to convict a man of murder especially when there are such strong conflicting opinions of what actually transpired that day.
“At this point it would seem to me that it would be in your best interests that Mr. Harris be re-captured alive. That way he could support your accusations beyond any doubt and this matter could finally be put to rest. On the other hand if Mr. Harris is unfortunately killed while trying to elude re-capture, well it could appear suspicious that his testimony would not support what Mr. Carson has stated. That the poor hapless convict was simply 'gotten rid of' to prevent the truth from coming to light. And yet, the man's death would still be for not, since I hardly expect that Mr. Heyes could be convicted of murder on such flimsy evidence that you have presented.”

“I have my senior guard's word on a dying man's accusation!” Mitchell pointed out. “That is hardly flimsy evidence!”

“It is hearsay!” Steven threw back at him. “There is no proof that Dr. Morin made such a statement! It is Mr. Carson's word against Mr Heyes' and Mr. Reece's! And given the relationship that Mr. Heyes had with Dr. Morin it is highly doubtful that Mr. Heyes would have killed him! I also have Mr. Curry's statement that you openly admitted to him that you know that Mr. Heyes is innocent of these charges but that you intend to push it forward out of some misguided need for revenge!
“So, again Mr. Mitchell; unless you are able to re-capture Mr. Harris and present him to testify in this case I would strongly recommend that you drop it for lack of any real proof!”

Mr. Mitchell was doing his best to keep his own tempter under control and the effort was making itself very apparent.

“We shall see who's word carries the most weight, Mr. Granger.”

“It is my understanding that Mr. Dalton has already indicated which way the Board of Directors will lean in this matter Mr. Mitchell,” Steven pointed out. “It is you who is walking on thin ice here and I suggest that you turn around and head for safer ground before you drown yourself.”

End of discussion.


After Steven had left the visitor's room Kenny removed the shackles from Heyes' extremities and then escorted him through the work area and onwards in the direction of the infirmary. Heyes was mildly surprised since he had given no indication of wanting to continue on as the medical assistant, in fact when asked he had stated otherwise. It seemed that as usual, his opinion did not matter. His jaw set in an irritated line.

“C'mon Heyes, don't be like that,” Kenny reprimanded him. “You'll thank me in a minute.”

Heyes highly doubted that. The infirmary held too many bad memories for the inmate at this time and he had no desire to spend more time there than necessary. But he was still too well aware of the rules to openly complain to the guard and allowed himself to be led over to that haunted department.
Kenny opened the access door and ushered Heyes inside, then followed in himself and they continued on over to the main counter.

“Hey Doc,” Kenny greeted the new doctor. “Here he is, by your request.”

Miller looked over and smiled. “Ah yes, thank you Officer Reece.” Then he looked at Heyes who was still looking slightly pissed off. “I want to give you a quick physical Mr. Heyes, just to make sure your condition is still picking up. You're looking much better.”

Heyes groaned. 'Yeah, thanks Kenny!'

“Just have a seat over there and I'll be with you in a minute,” Miller indicated.

Heyes sighed and went over to the cot in question and sat down while Miller and Kenny continued on with their own discussion for a few minutes. Then Heyes creased his brow when he saw Kyle come walking out of the small office to head over and sit beside him on the cot. Heyes thought that this was odd behaviour but decided not to mention it.

“Hey ya Kyle,” he mumbled quietly.

“Howdy Heyes!” Kyle responded with a big toothy grin. “You lookin' good!”

“Hmm. What are you doing here? You the Doc's new assistant or something?”

“Wul—no,” Kyle admitted a little shame-faced. “I'm not like you Heyes; I ain't smart enough fer that.”

“Sure ya' are Kyle,” Heyes told him. “You'd do fine. Maybe I should recommend ya.”

Kyle's smile dropped. “Oh! No, don't do that Heyes.”

“Why not? You'd do fine.”

“Wul, it's jest—I'm leavin' today.”

Heyes perked up and swung around to look at him full in the face.

“You're leaving?” he asked with a hint of incredulity. “But you've got another nine or ten months to go!”

“Ya, but—remember I told ya' Heyes; The warden was gonna let me go early cause I've been real good.”

“Oh yeah,” Heyes nodded. “That's right, you did tell me.” Then Heyes was surprised to feel a touch of sadness settle over him. It'd been good to have one of his 'boys' in here with him and Heyes was going to miss his companionship. Then he gave a sigh and smiled over at the little man. “Yeah, that's good Kyle. Any ideas as to what you're going to do?”

“Wul yeah,” Kyle answered as though it should have been obvious. “Your memory really is on a slow horse these days. You better eat somethin' Heyes. I told ya' that rich rancher fella that Kid is workin' fer has offered me a job watchin' stock over the winter.”

“Oh yeah,” Heyes conceded again, then he frowned. “I also remember you saying something stupid about going back to robbing trains instead!”

Kyle looked a little shame-faced. “Oh wul—no,” Kyle retracted that while sending a quick look over to the guard. “I wus jest needling ya' Heyes. Tryin' ta get ya' to talk to me. That's all that was.”

“Oh. Good,” Heyes nodded. “I'd hate to see you throw this second chance away. Remember Big Jim. And if Jesse's offered you a job then you could do a lot worse for yourself than to take it. He's a good man, Kyle; he'll treat ya' fair.”

Kyle gave a lopsided grin. “Yup, I know! That's what the Kid says too.”

“Good,” Heyes repeated. “Sooo....you're not going to go and hook up with Wheat and start robbing trains again, now are you?”

“Shoot Heyes! Wheat's dead,” Kyle reminded him. “How could I go meetin' up with a dead man?”

Heyes sent Kyle a suspicious look. Kyle smiled back at him and started chawing on his tobacco.

Kenny put in an appearance then and interrupted them.

“Alright Mr. Murtry,” he said. “best you finish up here. I do believe that Mr. Granger is waiting on you and you do have a train to catch. And we still have to get you processed out of this place.”

“Oh yeah,” Kyle sounded disappointed. “Wul Heyes, I guess I gotta go. I feel kinda bad leavin' ya here all on yer own like this.”

“Naw Kyle,” Heyes tried to cover up his own disappointment with a grin. “I'm fine now—you just get on out there and get on with your life. I'm glad you're getting out.”

“Yeah,” Then Kyle smiled again and standing up he offered Heyes his hand.

Heyes was startled for a second, but then stood up himself and grasping the offered hand, the two friends said their good-bye's. Kenny took Kyle's arm then and the two men walked away, leaving Heyes suddenly feeling very lonely. He just hoped that Kyle wasn't going to go and do something stupid out there; he'd lost enough friends these past five years and he didn't want to lose any more.

He sat back down on the cot with a little bit of a heavy heart just as Dr. Miller pulled up a chair opposite him, stethoscope in hand.

“Alright Mr. Heyes. Off with the tunic.”

Heyes' shoulders slumped and he groaned.


The following morning the south-bound train pulled in to Brookswood Colorado. Amongst a number of other disembarking passengers a couple of men stood out from the norm simply because of their conflicting attire and demeanour even though they were obviously travelling together. The first; a young and handsome gentleman dressed in a tailored suit and carrying a brief case just didn't fit in with the older, smaller vagabond with chewing tobacco who seemed to have latched on to the former's coat tails.

Steven strode along the station platform with all the confidence in the world while Kyle scampered along behind wondering why they were heading in the opposite direction from the livery stable. Surely they would be renting horses or perhaps a surrey to continue on with the journey. But no; the lawyer was actually leading them away from that establishment, and doing it with a purpose in mind.

But then Kyle's face lit up with a genuine grin when he spotted a friend striding along the platform towards them.

“Hey Kid!” Kyle called out a greeting. “Whatcha doin' here? Gonna escort me the rest of the way to the ranch?”

“Hiya Kyle,” Jed answered him, obviously pleased to see him. “Nope, got something else to discuss.” Then he smiled at his friend. “How does it feel to be a free man?”

Kyle gave a lopsided grin. “Good—I guess. Weren't so bad in prison though. Three meals a day and a bed at night—don't havta share with nobody either!”

“Yeah well, obviously some find it easier than others,” Jed prophisized. “Come on over to the saloon for a beer. We want to talk to ya'.”

The smile dropped from Kyle's face and was replaced by suspicion. “What fer?”

“Nothing bad,” Jed assured him and then placing a friendly arm across the smaller man's shoulders, began to encourage him across the street towards the drinking establishment. “Bet you could really do with a beer about now.”

“Wul, yeah....”

The three men made their way over to the welcoming building and were much relieved though not surprised to find the inside relatively quiet being the middle of a week day as it was. Jed and Kyle made their way over to an empty table that was conveniently situated close to the wood stove while Steven angled over to the bar to order their beers.

It was warm and comfortable by the stove, and pretty soon everyone's coats were coming off and the three men were relaxing and enjoying their beer although Kyle was still a little concerned as to what this little meeting was all about.

“So Kyle,” Jed finally got around to starting the real conversation. “What are your plans for the winter?”

“Wul, I thought I was gonna go work fer yer boss Kid,” Kyle answered, suddenly feeling as though he was being backed into a corner. “Ain't that what I'm doin'?”

“Well, I donno Kyle,” Jed responded. “That's what was offered and that's what you said you were going to do, but what are you really planning on doing?”

“Whatcha gettin' at?”

“It's just that I can't see you spending a winter all alone up at a line cabin,” Jed explained. “That just isn't you. Now when you have some of your buddies with you, you do fine sitting out the winters. You know, some card playin' and story tellin'--stuff to blow up, that sort of thing. But all on your lonesome? Just isn't you.”

Kyle was looking worried now and he sent a look from one man to the other and then took a swallow of beer.

“A man's gotta do what he's gotta do, Kid. You know that.”

“Yeah, yeah I know,” Jed nodded, but then he leaned towards the other man with a sly smile on his face. “but c'mon Kyle, you were planning on meeting up with Wheat, weren't ya'?”

Kyle smiled nervously. “What makes ya' think that Kid?” he said, his voice a touch higher in its tone. “You know how many bullets Wheat done took. How could any man survive that?”

Jed leaned back again, shrugging his shoulders. “I donno. But one thing I do know is that whenever anybody asks you about Wheat you find a way to scurry around the question and answer it without really answering it.”

“Whatcha mean?”

“Is Wheat still alive?”

“If them bullets didn't kill 'im than he's more n' likely drowned in the river.”

“Kyle!” Jed leaned forward again, his temper starting to show just a bit. “Yes or no! Is Wheat still alive?”

Kyle took another swallow of beer and then a self-satisfied grin spread across his face as blue eyes met blue. Both Steven and Jed sat back in their chairs and grinned with relief.

“Ha ha!” Kid laughed. “I knew it!”

“What's ya' gonna do?” Kyle asked, suddenly afraid for his partner now.

“It's not what we're going to do Mr. Murtry,” Steven pointed out. “but what you are going to do.”

“Me?”

“What were your 'real' plans for this winter, Kyle?” Jed asked him.

Kyle sent slightly concerned looks back and forth between the two men again.

“It's alright Mr. Murtry,” Steven assured him. “anything you say will be held in confidence.”

“What do that mean?”

“It means that we won't tell anyone else what you say,” Steven explained. “It'll just be between us three here. It also means that whatever you say cannot be used against you, ahh—to send you back to prison, things like that.”

“Oh,” he still hesitated.

“C'mon Kyle,” Kid encouraged him. “we know you're planning on meeting up with Wheat, we just need to know when and where.”

“Why?”

“KYLE...!”

“No no Jed,” Steven put a placating hand on his friend's arm and then turned to the little ex-con. “You needn't worry about your partner's safety Mr. Murtry. We're not trying to entrap you or him. We were hoping that you would be interested in helping out Mr. Heyes and for you to be able to do that, we need to know what you and Mr. Carlson are planning.”

“Oh!” Kyle perked up and smiled. “Yeah—I'd like ta' help out Heyes. Why didn't ya' say so?”

Jed sent an exasperated sigh over to Steven, but the lawyer simply smiled.

“We need to know what your plans are for this winter,” Steven reiterated.

“Wul...” Kyle began, looking a little sheepish. “I was gonna go do that job fer Mr. Jordan. At least until I'd saved up enough money fer a stake then get a horse and supplies and meet up with Wheat over by the Montana border.”

“Is it possible for you to get in touch with Mr. Carlson?” Steven asked him. “Let him know that you've come in to some money and that you can meet up with him now?”

Kyle frowned. “Yeah—but, I ain't got no money though.”

Steven brought his briefcase up onto the table and clicking it open, he produced a wad of bills that made Kyle's eyes light up like a stick of freshly thrown dynamite.

“Oooeeee!” he exclaimed. “Where you done get all that....!”

“Shhhh!”

Steven quickly closed the briefcase on the money and did a quick look around. He wasn't used to this covert stuff. Jed and Kyle smiled at each other.

“It's alright Steven,” Jed assured him through a quiet laugh. “Nobody else is around.”

“Oh, okay. Right.” Then he smiled sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“So what are ya' wantin' me ta do?” Kyle asked, getting down to business. “Ain't too dangerous is it?”

“No no,” Steven assured him though he thought that an odd question from a man who liked to play with dynamite. “We just want you to meet up with your friend and do whatever you usually do to get through a winter.”

“Wul, Kid'll tell ya',” Kyle explained. “We just hunker down in the hideout and keep ourselves occupied until spring.”

“So Mr. Carlson has a place to stay for the winter?”

“Yeah, sure!” Kyle was adamant. “Ya' gotta have a place to hole up fer the winter! He's got hisself in with one of them Montana gangs and if I showed up packin' a stake like that, wul they sure ta' let me join in too.”

“Good,” Steven smiled. “That's what we were hoping.”

“Yeah, but—whatcha want me ta' do?”

“Just settle in with the gang and keep your ears and eyes open,” Steven explained.

“Huh?”

Jed smiled and leaned forward again. “You know Heyes has been accused of killing Dr. Morin, right?”

“Of course!” Kyle almost sounded insulted that Kid would think he didn't know about that. “I also know that Heyes didn't do it!”

“No, of course he didn't!” Jed agreed. “But the warden and Mr. Carson are still trying to stick it on him and right now it's just their word against his.”

“Yeah.”

“There's only one person who can break that stalemate,” Jed continued to explain. “and that's the escaped inmate, Carl Harris. He was in the infirmary when it happened—he could clear Heyes.”

“Yeah,” Kyle was getting suspicious again. “but nobody knows where he is.”

“That's where you come in,” Jed told him. “You can get into places and talk to people that the law wouldn't have a chance in hell of even getting close to. All you need to do is watch and listen and whenever you hear about anything that might lead us to Harris, well all you have to do is send us a telegram. We'll do the rest. You don't have to do nothing else.”

“I donno,” Kyle was looking a little stressed. “That sounds kinda dangerous to me. That Harris struck me as bein' kinda not right—if'n ya' know what I mean.”

“It won't be dangerous if you're careful,” Jed assured him. “And we don't want you to approach him yourself, just find out where he is and let us know.”

“Wul.....”

Steven opened the briefcase again, just enough so that Kyle could see the wad of money hidden in there. Kyle grinned.

“I'll do it!”


The morning klaxon sounded loud and annoying and Heyes was startled out of a deep, dream filled sleep. He had been dreaming about the Doc and it had seemed so real that he was sure that it had all been a big mistake and that Doc was alive and well and they were sitting in the infirmary and sharing a pot of tea—just like always. Heyes even remembered that while he had still been in the dream he was saying to himself; 'No, this is too real, this can't be a dream. Doc is back and all is fine.'

Then the klaxon had sounded and he had awakened and the reality of the dream had been pulled away and Heyes knew that his mind had been playing tricks on him again. The prison cell was the reality and Doc was dead and Heyes felt hurt and disappointment wash over him as that truth was brought home one more time.

He yawned and stretched and then instinctively tucked his feet back again when he felt the warm lump at the foot of the bed. The cell was instantly filled with contented purring. Heyes opened his eyes and looked down the length of the cot. Sure enough he was met with green slitted eyes and a feline smile that radiated 'good morning!'

Heyes groaned and shifting his feet to the other side of the cot he stretched again and then tried to convince himself that it was time to get up and start the day. Mouse had no problem with greeting the morning; she lay on her side and stretched out her four paws, extending all her toes as far as they could possibly go. Then she gave a huge yawn that ended with a subtle 'aack' and sitting up she commenced to perform her morning toilette.

Then Heyes jumped again as a bully club hit the bars of his cell door and he felt the weight of his depression settle over him once again.

“C'mon Heyes—outa bed!” came Davis' voice. “Now that you're back to the land of the living, it's time to get up!”

Heyes groaned for the second time but he did get himself sitting up and then pulling the blanket out from under a protesting Mouse, he wrapped it around himself for the warmth before standing up to approach the cell door for the morning roll call. The cat jumped off the cot and trotted out of the cell to go in search of her own breakfast.

Heyes got up and stood bleary eyed and shivering at the door of the cell until roll call was finished with and then commenced to make his bed and tidy up his cell before they all headed down to the mess hall for breakfast. It was cold in the prison that morning and Heyes, along with other inmates who had the extra clothing, quickly pulled on sweaters and extra socks before heading out to start their day. Snow would be coming soon.

Breakfast was gotten over with fairly quickly. The oatmeal was okay and the coffee actually tasted pretty good, and then everyone headed back out to the work floor to commence making brooms or candles or cigars—whatever. Heyes was still in a bit of a fog about what he was supposed to be doing. As far as he was concerned he wasn't even supposed to be here—he should have been gone. Gone to wherever Doc was, if that was even a real place and not just some product of his own hallucinations.

He didn't care anymore. He had been convinced to go on living for the sake of others if not for himself and he had been willing to do that. But life itself still had no real meaning to him, no real attraction. He was just putting in time. Making a sacrifice. He mechanically went to his work station and went about his duties as though in a trance. Now that Kyle was gone as well he just simply did not acknowledge anyone else other than with a simple 'yessir—no sir' when asked a question by the guards.

He was nothing. He was nobody and Gunther began to blossom in his role as the new dominate, until such time as somebody else would come in and challenge him. Heyes didn't care. Gunther tried to push him into a confrontation at one point but Heyes just submitted and backed off—he wasn't interested anymore. Who cares.

Finally Kenny had had about enough of this and he approached the inmate out on the work floor and interrupted his all important cigar stuffing.

“Convict. Follow me.”

Heyes groaned. What now? Still, Heyes had no choice but to obey the command and follow the guard to wherever he chose to lead. It didn't take Heyes long to realize that they were heading back over the infirmary again. This was not exactly Heyes' favourite place to be anymore and Kenny knew that and he found himself resenting the guard for dragging him over there; what was the point after all?

“Dr. Miller has been expressing his desire for an assistant,” Kenny informed the inmate. “He has heard good things about your abilities in that capacity and has requested that you recommence with those duties.”

Heyes didn't say anything—he wasn't permitted to anyways since there was no direct question in there, so he kept his mouth shut despite his growing apprehension.

“Personally I think it's a good idea,” Kenny continued. “You need to get back to it again Heyes. You need to get interested in something again. Just give it a try. Miller's okay—you might even find that you like him and I'm sure you can show him a thing or two. Just give it some time Heyes. If, after a month you still don't want to do it well, then we can re-consider. But I think it'll be good for you to get back at it again. Okay?”

Hmm, a direct question. “Yeah, I suppose,” was the non-committal response.

Kenny sighed. “Jed has been in touch,” he changed subjects. “He would like to come out to see you before the weather gets too nasty. What shall I tell him?”

Heyes shrugged. “Whatever.”

Kenny stopped and turned towards the inmate, blocking his path.

“That's not good enough Heyes,” he said. “C'mon, talk to me. Do you want to see him or not?”

Heyes looked down at the floor. He shrugged. “I guess.”

“HEYES! Do you want to see him or not!?”

Heyes continued to look at the floor. “Does he want to see me?”

“I just told you that he did,” Kenny reminded him. “He's worried about you. He wants to see you before the snows really set in. How about it?”

Heyes sighed and still wouldn't meet the guard's eye. “I expect he's pretty mad at me,” Heyes surmised. “I pushed his patience to the limit I think.”

“You did that to all of us,” Kenny stated point blank. “But he understands what you were going through. How about it? Shall I tell him to come out?”

“Yeah,” Heyes nodded, still looking at the floor. “I guess. It would be good to see him.”

Kenny nodded emphatically. “Good! I'll let him know.”

Then the guard turned and carried on down the hallway. Heyes followed.

Once in the infirmary, Miller was happy to see them and quickly put Heyes to work doing inventory and getting him back in to the swing of things. Kenny left them to it and returned to the work floor with assurances that he would be back at supper time. Heyes sighed and accepted his fate. Dr. Miller tried to make friends.

“You know more about how this infirmary is laid out Heyes,” he stated. “why don't you show me around?”

Heyes just smirked.

“You've been here long enough,” he pointed out. “I think you probably have it down by now.”

“Well, what were your duties while you were here?”

Heyes shrugged. “Just clean up, inventory and help the Doc with whatever he needed help with. Sister Julia did a lot of that too though.”

“Yes I know,” Miller admitted. “She is very helpful around here. But still, she isn't here all the time and having you come in once a week will certainly help. Especially now that the colder weather is setting in and we can expect some colds and flues to take hold.”

“Hmm.”

And so it went that first day. Dr. Miller tried to make a connection but Heyes basically rebuffed him at every opportunity; he just wasn't interested in making friends. When Kenny came to get him that evening, the atmosphere in the infirmary was strained to say the least, but Miller wasn't prepared to give up on it yet and insisted that the inmate return the following week. It might take some time, but the doctor was determined to get Heyes engaging again and he was willing to put up with the cold shoulder in order to meet that goal.

A few days later, Heyes was still sullen and moody. He spent most of his leisure time sitting in his cell and reading his books. Letters had arrived for him from Clem and from Bridget but he wasn't terribly interested in receiving even more reprimands from those two ladies so he basically left them to lay unopened on his table.

Mouse continued to keep him company. She knew her job wasn't completed yet and she stayed close, rubbing against him and demanding attention, or simply curling up on his lap and going to sleep as he reclined on his cot and read his books. Heyes was becoming accustomed to her presence and was actually beginning to find some comfort in her company. But as for anyone else? Well, he still just wished they would all leave him alone.


“Convict. Follow me.”

Heyes groaned. What now? It's not that stuffing cigars was such an enterprising occupation, but Heyes was getting tired of all this special attention he was getting from this particular guard. Kenny was becoming just as much a nuisance as David was when it came to being a pest.

The inmate found himself heading over towards the infirmary again which didn't really make much sense, since Heyes had put in his day there and nothing much was happening so why were they heading back there again? Besides, as far as Heyes knew, the Sister and her novice were at the prison this day so really, there was no need for Heyes to be putting in an extra day—nothing was going on.

Kenny wasn't being helpful either. He didn't say a word, or give the inmate any excuse to ask questions but just kept on walking over towards the infirmary with an irritated Heyes in tow. When they reached the medical ward, Kenny ushered the prisoner in and closed the door behind them, apparently intending to stay and officiate whatever was going to be happening here.

Heyes viewed the other occupants of the ward, and as expected along with Dr. Miller, Sister Julia and Marilyn were also in attendance, each busy with their own duties and other than a smile or two in greeting, not terribly interested in the new arrivals. Heyes looked around at Kenny but got nothing other than a blank expression. He faced forwards again and found himself looking into the brilliant blue eyes of his partner. Heyes felt a slight chill of guilt go through him as those blue daggers bore into him and he swallowed just a little nervously and looked away.

“Heyes,” Curry acknowledged him.

“Hey Kid,” Heyes tried to be light.

“Heyes, I swear; if you ever put me through something like that again I'm gonna shoot ya' myself.”

Heyes smiled cockily. “Well, it's not too late.” And then instantly regretted his snide remark when the ice daggers turned to steel.

Three people were on the move almost simultaneously. Jed made an angry rush at his partner and then Kenny, taken by surprise at this totally unexpected hostile move on Jed's part was a split second later in leaving his mark. Heyes on the other hand who was not hindered by any misjudgement of character, reacted instinctively and was on the run the same instant as his partner.

But again, Heyes had no where to run to and found himself with his back up against the wall and his partner's hands grabbing the front of his tunic and leaning into him for all he was worth. Kenny was there trying to get Jed to back off, but then realized that his best option at this point was simply to mediate and give the two men the opportunity to work this out themselves.

Jed bore into his partner, anger emanating from every pore and Heyes submitted, knowing darn well that he had overstepped his boundaries and was feeling squeamish with the onslaught.

“Do you have any idea what you put me through!?” Jed demanded through a tight jaw. “DO YOU!?”

“Kid, I....”

“DON'T YOU EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN! DO YOU HEAR ME!?”

“Yeah....Kid—I'm sorry....”

Kid shook him roughly like a pitt bull with a rag doll. The tension in the infirmary was palpable and Kenny wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not, still he was willing to let it play out but stood ready to break it up if the confrontation turned bloody.

“PROMISE ME HEYES! GODDAMMIT! PROMISE ME YOU'LL NEVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN!”

“Yeah...I'm sorry. I won't....”

Another rough shaking. “PROMISE ME!”

“YEAH! I PROMISE! I won't Kid—I promise; I won't ever do that to you again! I'm sorry, I'm sorry....I'm sorry....”

Silence filled the room. Tensions were still high and nobody moved for what seemed like an eternity. Heyes was holding on to his partner's wrists, but was not fighting against him in any way and just looked to the floor, unable to meet those angry blue eyes. Jed was still furious but he knew that it was the memory of over-whelming terror that drove it so gradually his anger dissipated and his ragged breathing began to settle down.
Heyes looked lost and totally dejected and was still whispering; “I'm sorry....I'm sorry....I'm sorry....” until every heart in the room couldn't help but go out to him. Even Jed eventually sighed and released Heyes from his intense glare, and then he almost looked repentant and his angry stance relaxed and he sighed. He cupped Heyes' face in one of his hands.

“Jesus Heyes, you scared me to death,” Jed admitted quietly. “Don't ever do that to me again.”

Heyes still couldn't look up to meet Jed's eyes, but he subtly shook his head in compliance and swallowed down his regret.

“No Kid,” he whispered, his voice shaking. “I promise. I'm sorry. I won't.”

Then everybody in the room felt a knot in their throat as Jed took his partner into an embrace and rocked him gently as he would a small child. Heyes submitted completely and though he would later deny it if asked, at this moment in time he felt protected and loved and the safest he'd ever been since further back than he could remember.

The inmate sighed deeply, partly in contentment and partly in shame and regret over his previous behaviour. Then Jed surprised even himself when he impulsively kissed his cousin on the forehead and then pushed him up to stand straight again. Then the two friends did look one another directly in the eye and Jed smiled.

“Good ta' have ya' back again Heyes.”

Heyes smiled himself. A soft, gentle, almost embarrassed smile—and he nodded. “Yeah.”

There was a collective sigh of relief from the onlookers and Kenny backed off the two men and walked over to the counter. He went to stand beside Dr. Miller who was still standing like a statue with his mouth partly open in disbelief and complete uncertainty. Fortunately Sister Julia had no such qualms and she quickly smiled and approached her friend.

“Come Joshua!” she encouraged him. “Come and sit. Thank the Lord you've come back to us! You had us all scared to death.”

“Yeah, I'm sorry,” Heyes' voice was small and uncertain, but he allowed the Sister to come in and give him a heartfelt hug. It was then that he noticed David in amongst the onlookers and his shoulders slumped. What was this? Hometown reunion week?

“Hey David,” Heyes acknowledged him as the Sister stepped away. “You here to ream me out too?”

“No, I think Jed did a good enough job of that for all of us,” David assured him with a smile. “No, I wanted to take a look at your shoulders and since Jed was coming out to visit anyways, well....thought it best to get it done before the snows fly.”

“My shoulders?” Heyes questioned. “They're fine.”

“Oh I'm willing to bet that David will find something to poke and prod at,” Jed predicted with an evil smile. “You're gonna really appreciate this Heyes.”

“Come on, take a seat over here,” David motioned him over to one of the stools.

“What for?” Heyes was instantly suspicious.

“I just want to examine you.”

“What for?”

David smiled again. “I can see why you and Jed are partners. Please, just sit down and pull off your tunic.”

“I'm fine David. What's all....”

“Heyes,” Kenny interrupted the protest. “just do it.”

Heyes' mouth set into a hard line and his expression turned sulky. “Yessir,” he snarked and obediently sat down on the indicated stool. Kenny rolled his eyes; somebody was in a mood—again.

“Your tunic Hannibal,” David reminded him. “Please, remove it.”

Heyes sighed but did as requested, flinching just a bit with the movement of his arms that was necessary for the completion of the task. He pulled the tunic over his head and then looked around the ward to find that all eyes were on him. He frowned.

“What?” he asked of everyone and no one in particular.

“It hurts doesn't it?” David said. “Stretching your arms up like that.”

“I donno. I don't really notice it,” Heyes lied and he heard Jed give a snort.

“Huh hmm,” David wasn't fooled either. “It's been close to a year and it's still causing you pain, isn't it.”

Heyes looked away. “Well I suppose,” he grudgingly admitted. “Occasionally.”

This warranted quite a loud and universal response of disbelief from the other people in the ward. Even Kenny wasn't buying it.

“Really Joshua!” Sister Julia brought him to task. “We both saw you flinch when you stooped to pick up that pan that had fallen to the floor!”

“And just the other day when I asked you to put the towels up on the top shelf over there, you could barely manage it,” Miller pointed out.

Heyes was seething now, his submissive stance with Jed having totally dissipated. He was being backed into a corner and he knew it.

“Fine!” he conceded sarcastically. “You're all ganging up on me—again! What choice do I have but to go along with it!” Then he turned to Kenny. “And you...!” Kenny turned an inquisitive look towards him, but Heyes quickly thought better of antagonizing that particular guard and quickly cut off whatever accusation he'd been about to throw at him. “Fine!” he mumbled.

“Good! I'm glad we're in agreement!” David announced. But then his expression turned professional and he stepped in closer to his friend. “Let me see your hands.”

Heyes lifted his hands up and David took hold of them and gave the wrists a quick examination.

“Hmm yeah,” he mumbled quietly. “Not too much we can do about the scaring there.” Then he let one arm drop back down again but turned the other hand over, palm up and began to slowly work his way up the lower arm, pressing his thumbs into the flesh and the muscles until he reached the elbow.

Heyes' expression tightened just a little at this intrusion but it didn't really hurt too much and he sat quietly while David continued on. Then David started to apply pressure to the upper arm, working his way towards the shoulder and Heyes was becoming a little distressed.

“Is that hurting?” David asked.

“Well a little,” Heyes reluctantly admitted.

Then David quite deliberately pushed his thumb into the muscle in the front of the shoulder, just above the armpit. Heyes instantly tensed up and sucked his teeth.

“Oh! There he goes,” Jed mumbled.

“Yeah alright!” Heyes conceded. “Now that hurt!”

“Yes, I thought it might,” David admitted.

Then he picked up the other arm and began to give it the same treatment he had given the first and got pretty much the same result. Heyes was getting a little resentful of this. Why did David have to keep on prodding him when he'd already confessed that it hurt!?

In the mean time the remaining people in the ward had quietly made their way over to the examination and were watching intently to see what Dr. Gibson was doing. Heyes began to feel like a guinea pig and he didn't much care for the way his physical situation was being exposed for all to see. But David seemed oblivious to the scrutiny and continued on with his examination.

He moved around behind the patient then and ran his hands along the scars on Heyes' back. Heyes tensed again.

“Does that hurt?” David asked him.

“No,” Heyes said. “It's just...no, never mind. It doesn't hurt.”

David nodded. “I don't mean to be putting you on the spot,” he assured his friend. “but I think that it's important that you get the care you need even if I'm not here to do it. Dr. Miller and the Sister need to know what the problems are and how to treat them if you want to get better.”

“I'm fine,” Heyes insisted, but without quite the same level of conviction as earlier on.

“Really,” David stated with just a touch of irony. “Do you want to be in pain for the rest of your life?”

“It's not that bad.”

“And it's only going to get worse as you get older,” David continued. “so stop being a hero and let me get on with this.”

“Give it up Heyes,” Jed advised him. “He's not going to back off—believe me; I know!”

Heyes sighed and accepted defeat. Dr. Miller joined David behind the patient and looked approvingly at the scars left behind from the whipping.
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty
PostSubject: Healing   Healing    Chapter thirty-three EmptyTue Nov 12, 2013 11:06 pm

“I'm amazed at how well this has healed,” he stated. “You can barely feel any welting. I would say that eventually all that will be left of that injury will be the white lines, there should hardly be any scar tissue build up at all.”

David nodded. “Yes. Hydration, Dr. Miller. If you keep water running over the injury, and soaking the wounds in salt water, it will not only prevent infection but promotes healing and keeps the scar tissue to a minimum.” Then he sighed regretfully. “I just wish I could have been here to do something with those wrists. I'm afraid those scars are there for good now.”

“Doc Morin did the best he could,” Heyes protested, feeling the need to defend his friend.

“Oh no. I meant nothing against Dr. Morin, Han,” David assured him. “I know he did very well under difficult conditions. And there's always so many new ideas coming along in medicine, it's impossible to keep up with it all.

“Yes,” Miller agreed. “I still feel as though I've just barely scratched the surface.”

David smiled. “That's because that's all you have done,” he commented. “Hopefully what I can show you today will help you to scratch a little deeper.”

Miller nodded, willing to accept the slight reprimand from the more experienced doctor and turned his focus back towards the patient. David began to work his way across the back of Heyes' shoulders, again pressing in with his thumbs and causing the inmate to tighten up and gasp in pain with almost every touch.

“Jeez, David!” Heyes protested. “Have you ever considered becoming a prison guard? You sure wouldn't need a bully club to get the job done. OUCH!”

David ignored the protests and brought the younger doctor in closer.

“Okay, Dr. Miller. Press your thumb into the muscle here, right where I am. Feel that knot in there?”

“Oh, yes!” Miller actually looked pleased. “There is definitely a hard ball in there—right in the muscle!”

Heyes sat with clenched teeth. He couldn't believe how much this was hurting.

“Huh huh. And now, over here. Feel that?”

“Oh my goodness! Yes, they're all through the muscles in his shoulders!”

“Yes,” David agreed. “It's those knots that we have to work on. That's old scar tissue that has built up and is preventing the muscles from stretching out and doing their job. That's why there's so much pain whenever he tried to reach for anything, either downwards or up. The muscles have very little elasticity in them so they were fighting against the movement rather than assisting it.”

“That's incredible,” Miller was actually ecstatic at the opportunity to be learning new things. “Come, Sister, come feel this.”

Sister Julia came over and took her turn at poking and prodding the patient.

“Oh yes,” she commented. “yes, I can feel that. Here Marilyn, come feel this.”

“Oh c'mon!” Heyes finally protested, he'd about had enough. But then he regretted his outburst as soon as he saw the disappointed look flash across Marilyn's face. Her curiosity had been aroused as well and she also wanted to have a turn. “Oh alright,” Heyes relented. “since we're all here, you may as well have a go too.”

Marilyn's expression brightened up and she quickly came around to join the group at Heyes' back before he had a chance to change his mind. At least her touch was a little bit gentler than the others had been and Heyes finally accepted his role as the class project for the day.

He glanced over at Kenny. “How about you?” he asked with a hint of resignation. “If you want revenge, now's the time.”

Kenny smiled. “No, that's alright Heyes. Thanks for the offer though.”

“How do we go about breaking these down?” Miller finally asked.

Heyes groaned. He didn't need to be an expert to know that this was going to hurt. No wonder the Kid had complained so much about the treatment he had received from David, but then again; Kid did get his shooting arm back, so.....

“OUCH!” came the unbidden protest and Heyes tensed up again.

“Try to keep breathing Hannibal,” David told him.

“I didn't know I'd stopped.”

“Yes,” David informed him. “Just try to relax and keep breathing normally. Now raise your right arm up as high as you can. Okay. That's as far as you can go?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Dr. Miller put your thumb right in here where mine is. Can you feel that? Good. Now apply pressure to it.” Heyes sucked wind. “Good, that's right. Now Han, slowly bring your arm down—and keep breathing, try to relax the muscle.”

Heyes brought his arm down again and tried to keep breathing but he couldn't believe the pain. It made him feel light headed, almost to the point of passing out.

“Okay good,” David complimented both doctor and patient. “Now, bring your arm up again.”

“Oh no,” Heyes protested.

“Come on Hannibal,” David encouraged him. “I know it hurts but the more we do it, the easier it will get.”

“It'll be worth it Heyes,” Jed quietly encouraged him and then smiled. “Trust me.”

Heyes laughed a little sardonically but then allowed the treatment to continue with as little protesting as he could manage.

And so it went. David showing Dr. Miller the way and between the two of them, with Sister Julia and Marilyn standing by to assist, they worked every muscle in the upper arms and shoulders, front and back until Heyes felt totally wrung out and reaching the threshold of how much pain he was willing to take.

Finally, just as he was about to start screaming his protests, David called it quits for the day.

“Alright, that's enough for now,” he said and Heyes just about fainted with relief. “Sister, if you could rub some of that salve on those muscles it'll help them to calm down.”

“Of course, doctor.”

Marilyn went and got the jar of ointment and the two ladies have Heyes a rather pleasant massage. Now this, he could handle. The more they rubbed the warming salve into his muscles the more heat was generated in his shoulders and before he knew it he was practically falling asleep where he sat.

“How often should we be doing this, Dr. Gibson?” Miller asked. “Every day?”

“No, no. That would be too hard on him,” David explained. “If he can stand it three times a week that would be great. But no less than twice a week. And he'll be tired after these treatments so don't expect too much work out of him when you're done.” Here he turned to the guard. “Would it be possible for him to just stay quiet for the rest of the day? Either here or in his cell.”

“I'll make sure of it Doc,” Kenny agreed.

“Good. Alright Dr. Miller. I will leave you some books that you can glance through whenever you get the chance. Hopefully any questions you have can be answered in them. And as for myself, I'd better be heading home before my wife's weather predictions turn out to be true.” Then he turned to Heyes and put a hand on his shoulder. Heyes looked up at him through sleepy eyes. “I'm off for home Han,” he said. “Keep up the stretches, alright? It's important.”

“Yeah, okay David. I know,” Heyes agreed.

“Good,” Then David sighed and stood for a moment, just looking at his friend and trying to get any kind of a reading from him as to his state of mind. He just looked tired. “Are you alright now Hannibal?” he finally asked. “Are you going to make it?”

Heyes gave him a quiet smile. “Yeah David, I'm alright. And I mean it the way you want me to mean it this time. I'm not gonna try anything.”

David grinned and gave the shoulder a gentle squeeze. “That's good to hear,” he assured him. “Just stay with us. We're all still here for you, okay—don't forget that.”

Heyes nodded. “Yeah, okay. Thanks David.”

“Alright,” David accepted that. Then he turned to Jed. “I have some things to talk over with Dr. Miller and Sister Julia so if you want to have a visit with Hannibal, now would be the best time, but make it short. He's going to be tired after all that and we don't want to miss that train!” He smiled a little whimsically. “Tricia would have my hide if we got snowed in here.”

“Ohh, that's for sure!” Jed agreed. “Alright David. I won't be long.”

So the medical staff retired to their end of the infirmary while Kenny retreated to sit quietly by the door and let the two friends have some privacy for their visit. He was still watching them though. Apparently even Jed could be unpredictable.

Curry pulled up another stool and sat down facing his cousin. Heyes was looking a bit dejected again, his mood dipping down into melancholy as the tiredness of his body took over his thoughts. Jed smiled and tried to lighten the mood. He knew that this was probably the last visit before winter really set in and he didn't want it to end with Heyes feeling depressed.

“You should see Ned,” the Kid began. “He's turning into a real fine colt. Jesse couldn't be more pleased with him.”

“Ned?” Heyes asked rather nonchalantly.

“Karma's colt from last spring,” Jed informed him. “He's turning out to be a real looker. Just like his ma.”

“Oh.”

“Daisy's coming along fine too,” Jed continued. “Beth is really looking forward to this spring so that they can start her breaking out. That filly is going to be a real nice horse for Beth.”

“Hmm.”

Jed sighed. Heyes' moods were such a roller coaster ride; submissive and repentant, then moody and snarky and now, sullen and depressed.

“You going to services again?” he finally asked, hoping to get Heyes engaging with more than just one word answers.

“No.”

“Maybe you should,” Jed suggested. “You used to enjoy listening to them. Listening to the music and getting your new words every week. Don't you want to do that anymore?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Now it was Heyes' turn to sigh. “It's not really important is it.”

“I thought it was,” Jed insisted. “I kinda enjoyed getting those new words from you all the time. I kinda miss it. Don't you miss it Heyes?”

“No.”

Jed sighed again. “C'mon Heyes, talk to me!” He was practically pleading with him. “I know damn well that your mind is going full speed ahead, you're just not letting it out. Talk to me! I'm not mad at ya'! Well, I guess I was, maybe a little.” Heyes snorted. “But I'm not mad anymore—ya' just scared me is all! I'm kinda frustrated too, cause I just don't know what to do with this.” He sat quietly for a moment then, scrutinizing his cousin and Heyes sat, allowing himself to be scrutinized. “I'm just glad you're still with us,” Jed finally admitted. “So just—talk to me.”

Heyes continued to stare at nothing and silence settled over the ward. Kenny, who could overhear this conversation waited in anticipation for it to continue on. He was interested as well as to what the inmate was thinking these days—Heyes had not made it easy to fathom where he was at.

“I don't want to be here,” Heyes finally stated. “I feel like I've been tricked and I'm kinda angry about it.”

“Tricked?” Jed asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Heyes nodded, still staring at nothing. “It's like you all conspired against me—even Abi; using my daughter to force me to go on living.”

“We weren't conspiring against ya' Heyes,” Jed pointed out. “we were conspiring with ya'. Don't you think that Anya is a good enough reason to go on living?”

“Yeah,” Heyes admitted. “that's just it. I was all ready to go, wanted to go until everybody threw my daughter in my face. Now it's impossible for me to do anything but go on living, whether I want to or not. And I kinda resent that.”

Jed sat back and contemplated his cousin. As usual Heyes was offering up a whole new slant on things.

“We did what we had to do Heyes,” Jed finally commented. “I make no apologies for it.”

Finally Heyes looked up and met Jed's eye. “I know. And I know I put you through a real hard time. I just wish....I wish there was some way I could....” But then he dropped his eyes and shook his head, feeling defeated.

“What Heyes? You wish you could what?” Jed encouraged him to open up. “C'mon. It's not like you to get tongue tied. You wish you could what...”

Heyes shook his head again. “No. It doesn't make any sense.”

“So what Heyes? Just say it,” Jed pushed a little, remembering back to a similar conversation he'd had with David oh so long ago. “So what if it doesn't make any sense. Just tell me what you're thinking.”

“I just wish....that I could go to where Doc is. I know! I know it's not a real place—that it was just part of my delirium and that it doesn't really exist. But still....I wish I could go there but at the same time not hurt anybody by going. Can you understand that Kid?”

“Yeah I guess,” Jed admitted. “If it was that nice a place.” Heyes nodded. “But ya' can't. You know that Heyes, don't ya'? You can't go there without hurting the people you leave behind.”

“I know that Kid. I do,” Heyes assured him. “And I should be thanking you too, but....I just don't feel very grateful yet. Can you understand that Jed?”

“Yeah I guess,” Jed admitted again. “I know things aren't that pleasant for you here and I can certainly understand you not wanting to stay—especially if what Doc Morin seemed to be offering was as nice as you described. But it's not real Heyes. We're trying to get ya' back to a good life that is real. We had a good life before, didn't we?”

“Yeah,” Heyes nodded.

“Well, then you know it's out there,” Jed reasoned. “Just don't you go giving up again! Cause we're not going to give up—ya hear me!?”

Heyes nodded. “Yeah, I hear ya.” Then he looked up and he smiled. A sad smile, but a smile none the less.

Jed grinned back, and taking whatever he could get at this point, decided that it was time to change the subject.

“Did you know that Steven and Bridget are expecting?”

“Yeah,” Heyes admitted. “Steven kinda let the cat out of the bag when he was here.”

“Oh.”

Silence.

“How's Jay?”

“Good,” Jed responded. “He's on the move a lot now, and talking real well. He just loves ole' Buck to pieces and I was taking him for rides away from the yard quite a bit this past summer.”

“Yeah?” Heyes continued. “And you and Beth? Still courting?”

“Yeah,” Jed answered. “Everything is fine there.”

“Hmm.”

“Met Tricia's cousin a while back,” Jed commented. “Geesh! She sure is a fire cracker! A little spinney if ya' ask me—but in a nice way.”

“Oh yeah?” Heyes asked, trying to be interested. “I suppose it takes all types.”

“I suppose.”

“Any word from Lom?”

“No,” Kid shook his head and then smiled. “I guess married life is agreeing with him!”

“I suppose,” Again, another valiant effort. “How's Kyle doing?”

“Oh,” Jed sat up a little straighter then. “ahh, he decided to head over to Montana after all. I guess he figured that working a line cabin all on his lonesome wasn't for him.”

“Oh,” came Heyes' response, laced with a bit of bitterness. “Going to just fall back into outlawing is he? Even with a clean slate behind him now?”

“I donno Heyes,” Jed admitted. “I hope not.”

“Well, if he didn't take up Jesse's offer, what else has he got?” Heyes reasoned. “Especially if Wheat is still alive then of course Kyle's gonna run straight back to him.”

“Isn't that what you and I would do?” Kid pointed out. “They're partners after all.”

“I suppose.”

“Isn't that what you're gonna do?” Jed needed some reassurance. “Once you get outa here, we're still partners aren't we?”

Heyes met Jed's eye for the second time.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Yeah, Kid. We're still partners.”

Jed smiled, feeling some relief. “Then you're not that mad at me?”

Heyes grinned until his dimples shone through. Jed suddenly reminded him of that yellow haired, blued eyed younger cousin who so much wanted Hannibal's friendship and approval. How could he resist?

“No Kid,” he admitted. “I'm not really mad at ya'. I guess it was just my ego telling me I was supposed to be mad. You know how I hate it when other people thrash one of my well laid out plans.”

Jed's smile turned into a grin. “Yeah, I know Heyes. But even with your brains, sometimes your plans just have too many holes in them to be feasible.”

“I donno Kid!” Heyes continued to grin allowing a little bit of cheekiness to sneak into it. “If it's a 'Hannibal Heyes' plan it's gotta be good!”

Kid snorted. “Yeah? What about the Ansleyburg Plan where we only got $10 a piece outa that safe. And what about the Handford plan, where I got shot in the leg? And what about....'

“Alright, alright!” Heyes admitted defeat. “You're never gonna let me forget about that one are ya'?”

Jed smiled at his partner. “Anything to keep ya' humble Heyes.”


That evening when Kenny was doing his final walk by before heading home himself, he stopped at the door to Heyes' cell and couldn't help but smile.

The inmate had bundled himself up in warm sweaters and socks, his scarf and a togue not to mention wrapping himself in as many blankets as he could find. Then he had settled into this warm cocoon and had instantly fallen asleep. And even though Kenny couldn't see Mouse anywhere on the cot, from somewhere within those layered depths there emitted a contented purring that reverberated throughout the cell.


It was a good thing that Jed and David got that visit in while they still could. Three days later the sky clouded over into a steel gray and the first snows started to fall. Everyone hunkered down for yet another winter and travel was instantly limited to local visiting or only if it was vitally important to be somewhere.

Belle as usual was busy getting Christmas presents ready although the ones for Joshua had already been delivered by Thaddeus even though Joshua himself would not be receiving them until the day. But, of course with all the extra necessities that come with holidays, there's still all of her usual chores to be done and she was very thankful that Beth was still living at home and could help out.

Jay was getting to be quite the mischievous little boy and was now at an age where snow meant fun and hadn't progressed into hard work yet. He was constantly pestering any of the adults to come outside to play.

Even when the Gibson's would come to visit, it was hard for Jay to be patient with his younger friend and even though Nathan did his best to keep up he still just wasn't quite as quick on his feet as Jay was. Jed felt some sympathy for the youngster and watching the toddler trying so hard to please his older friend brought back a flood of memories for the ex-outlaw. Life just seems to travel in circles sometimes.

Thanksgiving was pleasant enough with the Gibson's coming out for the day and everyone helping out with the meal preparations and clean-up—not to mention consuming of. After the noontime meal, the two boys went outside to play in the yard, much the the enjoyment of Ellie, the new hound dog. Her excited barking mingling in with the high pitched laughter of the boys just seemed to make this particular Thanksgiving special for Jed. It brought back the memories of him and Han playing out in the yard in the snow, on the holidays. He could not help but hope that soon, maybe Heyes would be with them again and he would be able to find some pleasure in this world like they used to.

“Hello Jed!” Miranda called out to him. “You're long ago and far away! What were you thinking about?”

“Oh! No, sorry. Nothing,” Jed lied.

“He was thinking about Hannibal again,” Beth informed the room. “Whenever he gets that far-away look you know he's thinking about Hannibal.”

“Oh,” Jed stated again, a little sheepishly this time. He hadn't realized that he was that transparent. “Sorry. It's just days like this, when we're all sitting around the table after a nice dinner with good company—yeah, it does get me thinking about Heyes and how much he would enjoy this.”

Belle smiled. “Well hopefully he will be able to join us here soon. I'm just so relieved that he's found a way to hold on now and that's what I'm giving thanks for on this day of thanksgiving!”

“I'll drink to that,” Jed agreed and everybody raised their glasses of hot cider to toast the fact that Heyes was actually still alive. Heyes himself would probably be quite embarrassed if he realized all this sentiment being spread around the table on his account.

“It's a good thing he's back to helping out at the infirmary,” David commented. “I know it's hard for him right now—full of sad memories, I'm sure. But that will pass and he'll begin to feel better for it. Feel useful again.”

“Yup,” Jed confirmed. “Kenny had to push him into it, but like you say; at least he's doing it again. Hopefully he'll settle into the routine and start to get something out of it. Miller seems like an okay fella.”

“Yes,” David showed some enthusiasm. “he's very bright and learns quickly. The only down side to that is that he may eventually find the prison infirmary too limiting and move on to open his own practice elsewhere. Still, you can't blame a young man for wanting to move ahead.”

“I suppose,” Jed agreed. “As long as he gets Heyes on the mend first.”

David smiled at Jed's limited focus; Hannibal Heyes was the only one that mattered to Jed Curry. After Heyes was doing better, Jed didn't really care what Miller did.

“He will,” the doctor assure his friend.

“Is Joshua going to services again?” Belle asked.

“Ahh, I don't think so,” Jed told her. “He's still not himself. He's really depressed. Says he's just hanging on now for the sake of others because he just doesn't care anymore.”

“Oh that's sad,” Miranda sympathized. “I mean, I do realize how depression can take hold, goodness knows when I lost my husband it just seemed as though there was nothing left anymore. But if he can just hold on—life could get good again.”

“It's pretty hard from inside a prison,” Jed commented. “Not much hope to hold on to. Everything we've done to try and get him released just hasn't worked and it's getting harder and harder to stay positive. For him and for me.”

“Don't you go giving up on us Jed,” Jesse gave him a slight reprimand. “I just finished giving Hannibal a pep talk, do I need to broker one for you too?”

Jed smiled. “No Jesse, I'm still in the game.”

“So am I!” Beth announced as she gave her man a smile and held his hand under the table. Jed grinned.

“Well I'm certainly still sending out prayers for him,” Belle assured everyone. “even if he doesn't want to acknowledge them himself.”

“I'm still in the game,” David put in his support. “I'd like to see him released just so that I can start working on those damaged muscles of his. Dr. Miller is certainly going to be doing a lot for him but I would still feel better if I were doing it.”

Tricia rolled here eyes. “There you go again,” she jokingly accused her husband. “You have to do everything yourself, don't you. Just can't leave one of your patients in the care of another doctor. You just finished saying that Dr. Miller is quite competent and yet you won't trust him.”

Her husband smiled in recognition of his own trait. “Yes okay!” he conceded. “I suppose even I can't be everywhere at once.”

“Very true Dear,” Tricia praised him for actually accepting that. “Besides, you left him your book on the matter, didn't you?”

“Yes. I just hope he'll have time to read it.”

“Your book?” Jed asked. “You mean, one you bought or one you wrote?”

“Oh, it's one I wrote,” David admitted. “Most of the treatments I've done on you and now on Hannibal are quite new. There just isn't much documented about it, so yes; I wrote a manual describing the technique.”

Tricia snorted at her husband's modesty.

“Not much documented!” she repeated with a touch of disdain. “David there was nothing documented! You developed that technique all on your own! Take some credit for goodness sakes!”

Everyone at the table looked incredulous.

“That was all your own technique?!” Jed asked.

David nodded. “Well, to some degree. I read up on what other physicians wrote about damaged muscle tissue and then just took the treatments a couple of steps further.”

“Geesh!” Jed exclaimed. “No wonder none of the other doctors who treated me knew what I was talking about! And calling you a looney!”

“Yes well,” David smiled a little self-consciously. “when you developed new ideas there are always going to be those who disagree, or don't understand it. I've received both praise and criticism for that book I left with Dr. Miller. Still; I know it works—so....”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Miranda offered. “I don't even know the man, but I'm feeling somewhat at loose ends here and he sounds like someone who is worth helping.”

“You can help me send out more fliers,” Beth suggested. “and letters to the governor—it worked before. I'm sure that if we just keep at it, they're going to get fed up and start paying attention. Bridget was helping me, but I suppose she has other things on her mind now.”

There was general amusement around the table on that comment.

“I do think that is a fair assumption Missy,” Belle agreed with her younger daughter. “Having a husband and a household, and now a little one on the way....” Then Belle stopped smiling and she became contemplative herself. “I do wish she was here and not in Denver. I worry about her being there on her own.”

“She's not on her own,” Jesse reminded his wife. “Steven is with her and though David here is the best doctor in the whole territory, I do believe they have some fine medical men in Denver as well.”

David laughed. “Thanks for your vote of confidence,” he said. “but yes, you're right. There are some fine doctors and midwives in Denver. Try not to worry too much about her Belle; she's young and healthy. She'll do fine.”

Belle smiled and nodded, but was still going to worry none the less. Then the front door burst open and two exhilarated but cold boys tumbled into the front room and demanded attention.

Half an hour later the two boys were drinking hot cider and the three men were settled in the living room to discuss ranch business and plans for the spring sales while the four women visited in the kitchen while doing the cleaning up. It did seem that four pairs of hands were a bit superfluous but it was the discussion that was taking presidence and the cleaning up was just an excuse to compare notes.

“So what is Mr. Heyes like?” Miranda was asking the group in general. “I remember reading about the trials of course and I thought that he sounded like quite a scoundrel and probably deserved to go to prison—despite those rather entrancing dark eyes. But now, hearing the way you all talk about him—is there more to it than that?”

“Well, I never met him,” Tricia admitted. “but I know I was very sceptical of Jed at first. You know, his reputation as a gunman and all that. I really wasn't comfortable at all with David befriending him the way he did. But once I got to know him, well—he's actually very different from what you would expect. Is that what one could expect from Mr. Heyes as well Belle? After all they are partners.”

Belle became contemplative, thinking about the best way to answer that question.

“Yes, they are partners,” she conceded. “but I would say that the similarities between the two men end there. Considering Thaddeus' background, it seems contradictory to describe him as gentle, but for a man—he is. He's quiet, keeps to himself and is usually quite level headed—though he can show a temper at times.” She looked up from the dishes then and thought about the dark haired enigma. “Now Joshua—there's nothing quiet about him. He walks into a room and you know he's there, he doesn't even have to do anything; he has such a powerful presence. But he can be kind too and gentle. Still, he's a natural leader and will take control of a situation without even realizing he's doing it. That's probably why he and Thaddeus had such a successful partnership! It's certainly not that Thaddeus defers to Joshua, I think it's more that they each acknowledge and respect the others abilities and they simply complement one another.”

“Well if Joshua—Hannibal...what should I call him?” Miranda sounded frustrated. “You all refer to both men by different names! How in the world do you keep it straight!?”

Mother and daughter exchanged humorous looks and Belle laughed.

“I know!” she sympathized. “I suppose it would be confusing to someone who hasn't known them long. I got to know them first as Joshua and Thaddeus who were just two drifters who brought some light into our lives, so I suppose I like to think of them in that way. I know everyone else has switched over to their legal names, but—well, I don't think either of them mind which ones you use. Which ever one you're most comfortable with.”

“I know the Sister out at the prison still calls them Joshua and Thaddeus,” Beth piped in. “I think they kind of like it. And Clementine refers to them as Heyes and Kid, which I think is a little strange since she has known them since they were children, but...” Beth shrugged. “I guess it's just what she's used to.”

“When I first met Jed, he gave me a whole list of names I could call him by,” Randa recalled with a smile. “But I suppose I've settled onto 'Jed'. But 'Hannibal'! I don't know. I remember looking at his picture in the newspaper and thinking that his name was such a mouthful and well...too big for him, if that makes any sense.”

Belle laughed again. “Wait until you meet him! You might change your mind. Like I said, he takes over a room simply by entering it. He may be average in stature but he's large in personality.” Then she became quiet again, and a little sad. “Still, I don't know what prison has done to him. I know Thaddeus says that he's changed, that they broke him. I hope not. I hope that once we get him home again we can help him to heal.”

“For a man who is used to being in control like that, prison must have been very hard for him to adjust to,” Miranda surmised. “I hope we can bring about his release soon.” Then she smiled. “You'll note I said 'we'! I guess I'm committed to the cause now! Besides, you all have my curiosity aroused and I'm just going to have to meet this man!”

Beth liked the sound of that.


Kyle took the train into Montana. He usually couldn't afford such luxury but the retainer that the lawyer had handed over to him was more than enough to allow some splurging. On top of that, if he was going to meet up with Wheat before the snows began to fall then he would have to be quick about it and the train was a lot faster than coach or horseback.

He arrived at the small town of West Bend, Montana just in time for the first snow flakes to start falling and hoped that he hadn't left things too late. Still, the first snow didn't usually pile up to be too much so he should still be able to meet up with his partner and get settled into the hideout before the weather got too inconvenient.

He booked himself into the hotel, almost using an alias out of habit, but then realized that he wasn't a wanted man anymore so could use his real name without cause for concern. It felt weird but kinda nice too and he gave a toothy grin as made his mark. Truth be known, anyone reading the ledger wouldn't have been able to make heads or tails out of Kyle's so called writing anyways so it really wouldn't have matter what he wrote. But to his mind, it was his name.

The next morning he bought himself some breakfast and then headed over to the livery to look into buying a horse and then supplies for the ride into the hills. It was cold as he bundled himself up and stepped out of doors and decided to head over the the mercantile first to buy himself a winter coat and some gloves before going to stand around a cold barn looking at horses.

He'd just finished that task and was comfortably settled into his new lined coat when a rather scruffy looking individual approached him and stopped him on the street corner.

“You Murtry?” the man asked.

“Yeah, what of it?” Kyle asked, suddenly suspicious.

“Nothin'!” rhe stranger snarled back. “But a friend a' yours sent me ta meet up with ya'! If ya' don't wanna come—well that's yer business.”

“A friend a' mine?” Kyle asked, wondering who this tramp was.

“Yeah,” he answered, then leaned in close and lowered his voice. “You know—Carlson.”

“Oh! Wul why didn't ya say so!” Kyle shot back at him. “An' why didn't he come hisself?”

“He ain't up to it,” the man answered. “Cold weather an' all—you know.”

“Whaddaya mean? Ain't up to it?” Kyle asked suddenly concerned. “What's wrong with 'im?”

“He just don't feel good!” the man snarled, getting irritated. “You comin' or not?”

“Wul yeah I'm comin',” Kyle answered, feeling a little put out that this stranger was yellin' at him. “I still gotta git me a horse though.”

“Fine, let's go.”

The ride up into the hills wasn't exactly the most pleasant since Kyle's companion was not exactly the socializing type. He volunteer that his name was Harold but that's about as far as it went and most of that cold trip was made in silence.

When they finally did make it to the hideout, even the horses were relieved to have arrived—somewhere. They were hungry and cold too and there was the definite warning of more snow in the air so the sooner they all got under cover the better.

The hideout itself didn't look too bad. It was laid out pretty similar to what Devil's Hole had been, just not quite as many outbuildings as the Hole had sported. Still, the buildings that were there were a good size and appeared quite solid so wintering here shouldn't be too much of a hardship so long as there were enough supplies.

The two saddle horses and one pack horse all made a bee line for the barn just as more snow began to fall and the two men made haste to stiffly dismount and get everybody all under cover. Harold pushed open the barn door and they were met with the welcoming nickers from a number of horses who were already settled in for the evening. The barn smelled of hay and horses, and surprisingly enough for an outlaw residence, it smelled clean as well. Kyle hoped that bode good things and happily led his horse into the allotted stall and began to untack him. Harold did the same with his animals and then threw everybody some hay and a bit of grain after their hard ride, and then began to stack the supplies he'd brought back with them over in the corner to be put away in the morning.

Both men then headed outdoors again and Harold motioned Kyle over towards the leader's cabin. Night was closing in on them and the snow was beginning to come down in earnest now and everything smelled clean and fresh, but after their long ride all Kyle wanted to do was get settled somewhere and have something hot to eat. The leader's cabin looked very inviting though Kyle doubted he would be spending very much time in there. Probably just going to meet the boss.

Sure enough, the two men stepped up onto the porch and Harold knocked a couple of times on the front door and waited for the response to come in. Once they stepped inside they got hit with a wave of warmth coming from the wood stove over in the cooking area followed by the enticing aroma of simmering beans and fried bacon, not to mention coffee.

A middle aged man got up from the table where he'd been reading a paper and came over to greet the newcomers.

“Mr. Roberts, this here is Kyle Murtry,” Harold introduced him.

“Mr. Murtry! Glad you could make it,” Roberts greeted him and shook his hand. “Welcome to 'Robert's Roost!” he added, with a grin at what he thought was an amusing name for their hideout. “You hungry?”

“Wul yeah,” Kyle admitted, but feeling a little dubious. “but war's Wheat?”

“He's just laying down,” Roberts explained. “He'll be out in a minute. C'mon, take off your coat, have a seat.”

“If that's all Mr. Roberts, I'll be headin' over to the bunk house,” Harold said. “Supplies are in the barn. Put 'em away tomorra'.”

“That's fine Harold. Thank you for your help.”

“Yeah.”

“Come Mr. Murtry, have a seat,” Roberts guided Kyle over to the table and encouraged him to settle in. “How was prison life? You don't seem to be much the worse for wear.”

“Naw, it was okay,” Kyle commented, still looking around and feeling a little awkward. “Nice place ya' got here.”

“It does,” Roberts agreed. “Nothing like Devil's Hole though—or so I've been told.”

“Yeah.”

“Too bad about all that.”

“Yeah.”

“How's Heyes?”

“Alive.”

“Oh yes. Well, that's good. So....Carlson tells me you've got a bit of a stake with ya'.”

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded as he sat down and started to tuck into the beans and bacon. “Enough ta pay for my keep.”

“Plus a bit more. Or so I understand.”

“Yeah, a bit more.”

Roberts smiled. “Good. It could be a tough winter, and with two more people to feed, well every little bit helps. Not to mention your partner's medical expenses tended to add up.”

Kyle frowned. “Whatcha mean?”

Just then one of the doors to a side bedroom creaked open and Wheat put in an appearance, slowly making his way over to the table. Kyle's face lit up with pleasure at seeing his partner and he got to his feet to greet him.

“Hey Wheat!” But then the grin on Kyle's face dropped back to the frown and he furrowed his brow with concern. “Jeez Wheat, you don't look so good.”

Indeed, Wheat Carlson was not quite the same man whom Kyle remembered from eighteen months ago. He had dropped weight and his complexion was pale and tired looking. He had a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and was walking with a limp so he was using a cane in order to assist him in getting over to the table. He pulled out a chair and sat down before returning his friend's greeting.

“Howdy Kyle,” he mumbled. “Glad you could make it.”

“Yeah,” Kyle answered as he sat back down himself. “You doin' okay Wheat?”

“Better than I was,” Wheat answered him. “How about you? Don't look like prison was too hard on ya'.”

“No, it was alright,” Kyle told him. “Looks like you mighta done better there yourself. You gonna be alright?”

“Yeah,” Wheat assured him. “Just need a little more time is all. Take it easy through the winter and next spring I'll be right as rain.”

“Uh huh,” Kyle didn't sound too convinced. “Dang Wheat! What all happened to ya'!?”

Roberts put a plate of beans in front of Wheat and passed out coffee to the two men and then one for himself.

“I'll leave you two fellas to get caught up,” he offered. “I got some reading to do anyways.” Then he grabbed the newspaper and got himself settled into one of the armchairs to let the two friends get reacquainted.

“Well, I'll tell ya' Kyle,” Wheat began. “I thought for sure that I was dead. The last thing I remember was sinking down into that river and the darkness overtaking me—and I was just fine with that. I hadn't expected anything else so....that was okay. But then sometimes life just don't go the way you expect.....
“You remember that youngster; Quint Redmond?”

Kyle looked blank.

“C'mon—ya' gotta remember him!” Wheat prodded. “We all thought that his name was a joke cause he was so covered in freckles and red hair; we all called him 'Red Man'!”

“OH Yeah!” Kyle grinned, pleased with himself that he actually remembered the fella. “Yeah! He was during Big Jim's time.”

“Yeah, that's him,” Wheat agreed. “Remember he quit—decided that outlawing wasn't for him and he up and got married and settled down there along the Colorado River,”

“Wul, yeah—sorta. Lost track of 'im though. Thought he moved on.”

“Well, he did,” Wheat informed his partner. “but then he and his family ended up settling on some land not too far from Devil's Hole. And wouldn't ya' know; that's who found me looking like a drowned rat and all hung up in some dead fall in that river. He drug me outa there and then went for help. He's got two sons now and a daughter and they came back for me with the buckboard and got me back to there place.
“They remembered me from the old days and of course had heard all about that bastard Morrison and what he done to our little hideaway!” Kyle nodded regretfully. “So when they come acrost me all full of holes and near drowned, well they thought nothin' a haulin' me home and patchin' me up! They didn't feel inclined to report anything to the local sheriff either.”

“Wul that sure was lucky!” Kyle stated the obvious. “We all thought you was done fer—until ya' got that message to me that is. I dang near fell over; gettin' a letter from ya' while I's in prison.” Then he chortled with amusement at how everybody else had been so hood winkled. “Ole' Heyes and Kid they both thought I should be greivin' more, but you know how I am at fakin' things!”

“Yeah I know,” Wheat practically cringed. “Fortunately we pulled it off anyways.”

The grin dropped from Kyle's face. “Wul, sorta,” he mumbled.

“Well now, what's that supposed to mean Kyle!?” Wheat demanded, then started to cough as his stress level rose. “You sayin' there's people know I'm still alive!?”

“Wul, yeah I guess,” Kyle squirmed uncomfortably. “I guess Kid did kinda figure it out.” Wheat groaned, but Kyle brightened up and started grinning again. “Yeah, but they ain't gonna tell nobody! They want it to stay quiet.”

“They?” Wheat questioned suspiciously. “Who else knows!?”

“Oh, well....I suppose Heyes knows if Kid does—ya' know that kinda goes hand in hand,” Kyle reasoned. “And wul, I suppose that lawyer fella knows....”

“Lawyer fella!?” Wheat's voice rose until he started coughing again. He took a swig of coffee and tried to calm down. “My whole plan was to stay dead. Rest up here for the winter and then maybe head to Canada. I don't need no lawyer fella knowin' I'm still alive!”

“Canada?” was all that Kyle had latched onto. “Watcha wanna go ta Canada fer, Wheat?”

“Cause I wanna disappear, that's what fer!” Wheat stated in a half whisper. “I was mainly hanging around until you got out—but if you don't wanna go....”

“Oh I didn't say that!” Kyle was quick to put in his denial, not wanting his partner to sneak off and leave him behind. “It's just that....”

“What?”

“Wul, Kid and that lawyer fella wanted me to hang around these parts fer awhile,” Kyle hesitantly explained, not sure if he was supposed to be telling anybody about this arrangement, even his partner. “They want me ta stay on the look out fer somebody.”

“Who?”

“Wul, it seems they need ta get hold of one of them inmates who broke outa the prison last summer,” Kyle explained. “On account a' he knows somethin' that could help Heyes.”

“What's that arrogant little blow-hard got hisself into this time!?” Wheat complained. “He's always gettin' hisself into trouble and we're always gettin' 'em outa it! What the hell he's gone and done now!?”

“Wul nothin'!” Kyle felt the need to defend his 'boss'. “That's jest the point. Seems the prison Doc got killed during that break-out and everybody's blamin' Heyes fer it! But this Harris fella was there and he seen what happened! He could clear Heyes, but he's disappeared so now Kid and this lawyer fella has asked me to settle in fer the winter and keep my ears open—that's all.”

“Harris? Carl Harris?” Wheat asked somewhat incredulously.

“Yeah, that's him.”

“Dang it Kyle! You don't havta go lookin' fer him—he's right here!”

“What!?”

“Yeah yeah,” Wheat reiterated. “He rode in a couple a weeks ago—lookin' ta' winter with us and since he had some supplies and money with him; well, the more the merrier sometimes. He's just over in the bunkhouse.”

“What!?” Kyle repeated. “Wul—I should go talk ta' him!”

“Naw, naw,” Wheat put out a hand to stop the little man from going off half cocked. “Let's just wait and see what the morning brings. We don't wanna spook 'im and have him go runnin' off before we can find out what he knows. Let's just wait until the weather gets too bad fer any long distance excursions and then we'll just see if we can get him talking.”

Kyle sat back down at the table and grinned.

“You sure is smart Wheat,” he praised his friend. “Yeah. We'll jest wait and find out what he knows later on—once he trusts us.”

“How about some more beans and bacon Kyle.”

This was met by a big toothy grin. “Sure!”


Heyes was back in the laundry room, once again taking over those duties whether he wanted to or not.
Although, truth be known he was kind of glad to be doing this job on this day. The temperatures inside the prison and out were dipping down to freezing and the snow that was already on the ground would soon be covered over by even more. Another winter had settled in, another Christmas just around the corner. Life went on.

Heyes didn't really know how he was feeling about things in general, he was still getting used to the idea that he was actually still here and carrying on. He had gotten his mind so conditioned to the idea of ending everything that his life now seemed almost surreal, that he was an interloper, treading on forbidden ground; as though he wasn't supposed to be here.

Sister Julia commented that he should see each new day as a gift now, considering how close he had come to not having anymore 'new days' but he found it hard to view living on in this place as a 'gift'. It was more like a penance—a price to be paid for having allowed his friends to break passed his defences and forcing him to acknowledge that his life was more than just about him. To accept that there was a whole network of people out there who would be devastated by his departure, especially in that way and that now, in finally realizing that fact, it had become impossible for him to carry on with his plan. But that didn't mean he had to like it.

On this particular chilly day in December, Heyes was busy folding sheets and allowing his mind to wander wherever it wanted to go. Mouse was in the corner busy grooming herself after a morning of hunting; she knew her pet project wasn't right yet so she was never far from him for long; she took pride in her responsibilities, after all. It was only when the feline's loud purring abruptly stopped that Heyes realized that she had been purring at all and he glanced over at her, wondering what had caused the cessation.

Heyes frowned when he saw that Mouse had taken on a defensive stance; her ears were back and her hackles were rising and Heyes could hear a quiet rumbling coming from deep in her throat—then she hissed. He followed the cat's antagonized glare over towards the door and then his own blood turned to ice and a knee weakening fear washed over him. Carson and Thompson were standing there and smiling at him, their bully clubs out and ready for use!

Oh no...what had he done? Heyes racked his brains to try and recall some transgression to somehow explain this new assault, but he couldn't think of anything. His eyes went to the broom that was resting in the corning, but almost as quickly as the thought of using it as a weapon came into his mind, it was vetoed as being inappropriate. Any aggressive move on his part would only make the beating worse—oh Jeez! They might even hang him again! OH NO! Be submissive—don't look at them, don't provoke them in any way.

Carson smiled, seeing the range of emotions flash across Heyes' face before finally settling on surrender.

“Morning Heyes,” the senior guard acknowledged him with a bit of a condescending edge to his voice. “Just thought I would take this opportunity to come and have a word with you. Had to wait until Officer Reece had a day off; that man has been getting a little bit above himself these days.”

Heyes didn't respond but this wasn't sounding good. He took note of Thompson moving around to block him from making any move towards the door and he had been effectively backed into a corner. He could still hear Mouse growling and her tail had begun to lash back and forth, but the two guards ignored her.

“I seem to recall you accusing me of cold-blooded murder Heyes,” Carson pointed out. “So I couldn't help but be curious as to whether or not we're going to have a little problem with this. Are we going to have a problem with this Heyes?”

“No sir.”

“No sir,” Carson mimicked with a touch of scorn. “And why not? Are you going to accept responsibility for it in order to help you on your way to the other side? It would be most convenient if you did.”

“No sir,” Heyes answered again and then took the chance that he had permission to elaborate; Carson had asked 'why not?' after all. “I didn't do it. Boeman did it. It's as simple as that.”

“It's as simple as that,” Carson again repeated Heyes' words. “Then why in tarnation did you start yelling accusations at me? Those were dangerous words Heyes, words that could get me into trouble.”

“Yessir,” Heyes admitted, still staring at the floor. “I was wrong to do that and I apologize. I was confused sir—not in my right mind. I know now that it wasn't you, it was Boeman.”

“Well alright then,” Carson relented. “Glad you're back to seeing reason. The warden and I have discussed this situation and we have decided to back off the accusation that it was you who did the deed so long as we are agreeable that Boeman committed the crime and that he did it on his own—no inside help. Are we agreed?”

Heyes hesitated. He knew darn well that the prison break had been an inside job. For some reason or other Carson had set it up and Boeman had simply been the puppet, the stooge. And obviously the plan, whatever that had been, ended up backfiring and Boeman had simply been gotten out of the way. Heyes felt stuck. He knew there was more going on here than met the eye, but to make a stand about it now would only result in punishment and he just wasn't up to taking any more of that. He did the smart thing and he relented.

“Yes sir,” he whispered quietly, though it stuck in his craw. “we are agreed.”

“Good,” came the response. Then Carson smiled again. “Glad to see you've finally learned the rules around here Heyes. It took some doing, but we finally got ya' to understand. Just keep on remembering who's boss and you'll do fine.”

“Yessir.”
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty
PostSubject: Healing   Healing    Chapter thirty-three EmptyTue Nov 12, 2013 11:10 pm

Then, much to Heyes relief, Carson and Thompson backed out of the laundry room and went about their daily routine. Heyes sighed and leaned back against the wall. His knees felt like melted butter and he was bathed in a cold sweat. He hated feeling so afraid, so helpless but there was nothing else for it. He had finally come to realize that if he was going to survive in here then he was going to have to submit because fighting back was only going to get him killed—or crippled. And all of a sudden, he realized that he really didn't want either of those things to happen.

His knees finally gave out on him and he sank down to the floor to recover from the scare, and taking deep breaths he gradually was able to calm down the shaking and convince his stomach to stay settled and not turn over on him. Mouse came over and with her purr in full swing once again, she rubbed against his legs and then stepped onto his lap and leaned into him until he unconsciously began to stroke her and he started to calm down.


Christmas came and went and Heyes took some pleasure in the services and in receiving his gifts, not only from home but from the orphans and the convent as well. Many of the warm articles of clothing that he had received his first year here had begun to wear out so it was greatly appreciated to be given replacements for them. And of course Belle's homemade cookies and Christmas cake was always a treat. Heyes even managed to sneak some over to Kenny this time around.

Things seemed to have settled down again for the deep freeze. The warden had backed off of his line of offence, deciding that the pressure on him to produce proof of Heyes' guilt was getting too hot to make it worthwhile. If the plan had gone smoothly then Heyes would have been dead himself and therefore nobody around to contradict—except Harris that is. Damn! How could a man just so totally disappear from the landscape?

Again, it would have been so easy if all of those escapees had been disposed of, but no; one of them just had to get away on them—and then disappear! Now he was a loose cannon and if the wrong people got hold of him first, well then everything would get shot out of the water and Mitchell would be exposed as a liar! Besides, Mitchell had no idea how much Harris actually knew—how much did Boeman actually tell him?

If Mitchell continued to press this issue then Heyes' friends would work that much harder to find the escapee and then goodness knows what that man would say to save his own skin! Can't have that! Better to cut the losses now and get onto the winning side. Why not agree that Boeman had done the killing? Two people who were still alive saw him stick the doctor and since Boeman was dead himself and couldn't raise a protest, well, it seemed the logical thing to do.

The weather was cold and crisp when 1889 made its appearance. Heyes had been in the prison now for over four years and he was coming up on his thirty-ninth birthday. He felt old and decrepit and useless and he had given up any hope of ever finding a way out of this misery called a life. And though he knew that he didn't really want to die anymore, the alternative to go on living was proving to be just as difficult as initially expected.

He tried to make the best of it. He put in his time at the infirmary, did his day in the laundry room and even tried going to services again on a regular basis. He'd read his books, respond to his letters and even let Dr. Miller and associates poke and prod his shoulders, but his depression was acute and overwhelming. It's not that he wanted to feel that way; he didn't want to. He was tired of feeling lethargic and useless, that every day was just one more day that he had to drag himself through, but he just didn't know how to bring himself out of it.

Mouse was about the only one who could bring a smile to his face these days and she did everything she could to keep him entertained. She had introduced a new game for them to play together simply by snatching up a pair of balled up socks and batting it around the cell floor. Heyes would watch her and laugh at her antics and then he picked the ball up and threw it into the air and she'd jump up and grab it in mid leap.

Then upon landing she would trot over to her project and drop the socks as his feet, like a dog waiting for the ball to be tossed again, and Heyes would comply. He marvelled at her dexterity as she'd leap into the air and grab the socks with her front paws, twisting and turning in aerial acrobatics and then landing with a loud 'thump' and trot over to him and ask him to throw it again—and he would.

He'd even gotten into the habit of bringing his supper back to his cell in the evenings rather than stay in the mess hall. This way he not only had the dinner companion of his choice, but he liked to be able to share whatever was on the menu and Mouse was more than happy to oblige him.

He never would have thought it possible but that little non-discript gray tabby cat had become his life-line. The one thing that gave him a sense of purpose, gave him something to look after and who would give her affection unconditionally and without any expectation of him having to conform to any rules. The fact that as far as Mouse was concerned, she was the one looking after him never came up between them. Of all the things they discussed, that was not one of them. He was quite content to have something to look after and she was quite content to let him believe that he was.

And so the winter crept by. Heyes' birthday came and went along with some birthday parcels from home that actually made it to the prison albeit a little late. Still it was nice to get the letters from everyone; to hear about how the various youngsters were doing and Bridget's joy and frustration with her familial condition. He'd laugh over the described antics of the horses out playing in the snow and Karma chasing her children around like they were still foals with ole' Buck, the quintessential uncle, doing his best to keep up.

He appreciated the replenished supply of writing paper and pens and ink (well wrapped up against breakage, of course.) and more cookies and more sweaters and hats to replace those that were wearing out. Kid even sent him a new deck of cards, rightly assuming that the initial deck would also be worn out by now.

Yes, Heyes appreciated these things being sent to him, but it also made him melancholy. How many more times would he need to have writing paper replenished, sweaters and socks and mitts to be replaced? How many more children were going to be born that he would never see grow up? How many more lifetimes would pass him by while he sat in here and wasted away?

And he'd lay on his cot and munch his cookies and read his letters and pat 'his' cat and he'd feel old and decrepit and useless. And the winter crept on.


Spring finally put in a wet appearance and Jed was anticipating his first trip of the year back into Wyoming to visit his cousin. Kenny had sent the occasional telegram just to let them all know that the situation was status qua. Heyes was no longer suicidal and was settling back into his normal routine, but he was anything but 'fine'. A depression still lingered and was showing no signs of abating, in fact the only one to really get more than a one word response from him was the cat.

Jed would get a bit of a chuckle out of that last bit because Heyes had always kind of disliked cats, but any port in a storm at this point. If Heyes was finding some comfort in the company of a feline then Jed certainly wasn't going to argue it.

Then two communications came to him that were disappointing, almost to the extent where he wanted to go out and get drunk again. But then he would remember the lecture he got from Jesse on that account and decided to go vent to David instead.

The first communication was from Kyle, though it was written by Wheat since Kyle couldn't write so I suppose it would be fair to say that it was from both of them.

'Kid;

Harris was here threw most of the winter, but done took off as soon as the snow started ta' melt. Dont knew where's to. Mabe Canada?
We tried talkin' ta' him about prison an' all that, but he would just clam up and say nothin' much. Whenever Heyes' name got mentioned he d just snarl and call 'em an a**hole. Especially if'en we was sayin' good things about 'em.
If ya' do find 'em and get 'em ta be of help to ya—it shore ain't gonna be willin'.

Kyle'

Then the telegram from Lom came and Jed found himself instantly deflated and feeling about as hopeless as ever in this rollercoaster ride of a rescue mission.

Kid. P. Harrison re-instated F. Warren as Gov. of Why. Have appointment for Apr. 10th. BE THERE! Lom.

Jed groaned and scrunched up the paper in disgust and threw it in the waste basket. Of all the bad rotten luck! Warren again! What bloody good was he gonna be to them!? He was just gonna throw them out of his office yet again and have nothing to do with any of them! And how long was he going to be governor now? He could hold the office for years! Dammit!

Clayt stood behind his desk and watched this theatrical performance of anger and frustration play out in front of him, but he knew better than to ask what was up when this particular man was in a mood. He'd hear all about it sooner or later; he always did.

Jed ignored Clayt and stomped out of the office, thinking that he needed a drink but then as mentioned before he thought better of it and headed over to David's place instead. It was Saturday—maybe he'd be home.


Knock, knock knock! “Hello! Anybody home?”

“Yes Jed!” came Tricia's voice. “Come on in!”

Jed followed instructions and entered into the kitchen area to find Tricia in the middle of giving Nathan his mid-morning bath. Nathan was having a great time splashing water everywhere and wiggling and squirming and trying to stand up in the wash tub as though his mother had nothing better to do than try to keep him from falling onto the floor.

Miranda was sitting at the table enjoying the spectacle and at the same time feeling somewhat relieved that she and her husband had never had children. She turned sparkling eyes and a bright smile towards the visitor while Tricia's greeting was somewhat more bedraggled.


“Good morning ladies,” Jed greeted them.

“Morning Jed,” came the unified feminine response.

“Unka Ed!” came from the wash tub.

Jed smiled at the boy's attempt to articulate. “Hey there young man! I think you've got more water outside the tub than ya' do in!”

“YEAH!” came the joyous response followed by some more boisterous splashing and flying water.

Trish sent Jed a look and Miranda found the whole situation quite amusing.

“Is David home?” Jed finally asked.

“Yes, he's in the study,” Tricia informed him. “Go on in.”

Jed nodded to them and then made his way down the hall to the study and knocked on the door.

“Hi Jed, come on in!”

Jed opened the door and went inside.

“Morning David. How did you know it was me?” Jed asked as he headed over to one of the chairs.

David stretched and pushed himself away from his paperwork.

“I heard your voice,” he informed his friend. “What's up? Any more news from the prison?”

“No,” Jed admitted with a frustrated sigh. “But I did get a telegram from Lom.”

“Oh oh,” David mumbled, having taken note of the scowl on his friend's face. “Not good news I take it.”

“That's for sure,” Jed complained. “Jeez! Things just keep going from bad to worse! No wonder Heyes is depressed! I don't blame him! And he doesn't even know about this yet!”

“What?”

“Frances Warren, that's what!” Jed told him. “That bastard's been re-instated as governor of Wyoming! I mean—that's it; we're done for!” And Jed slapped the arms of his chair and then stood up and started pacing. “That's the same bastard who sent Heyes to prison in the first place! 'One of you had to be thrown to the wolves Mr. Curry—just be thankful it wasn't you!' Goddammit! We're done for! He's not even gonna want to see us let alone listen to reason!
“I don't know what else to do David! All this talk about a new President and how he's probably going to be replacing a number of the territorial governors, so just hang on. 'There's bound to be someone new coming into office who might be willing to see things our way.' Yeah right! Now with all this talk of Wyoming moving into statehood the last thing Warren's gonna want to do is give Hannibal Heyes a pardon!” Then Jed threw up his hands in frustration and sat down again with a humph and snarl. “We're done for!” he repeated.

David sat quietly throughout this verbal barrage and allowed his friend time to vent and get everything out that he needed to get out.

“So what does Sheriff Trevor's say?” he asked once he was sure Jed was done. “Does he have a plan?”

“Yeah,” Jed sighed. “he's already set up an appointment for us to meet with Warren next month—for all the good it's gonna do.”

“Well, obviously Sheriff Trevor's hasn't given up, sooo.....”

“It's grasping at straws,” Jed mumbled.

“Still, what else are you going to do?” David reasoned. “You may as well try. What's the worse that can happen?”

“Just throw us out of his office,” Jed snapped. “Refuse to see us!”

“If he was going to do that, why would he have agreed to an appointment in the first place?” David continued to be reasonable. He knew Jed well enough to know that sometimes all his friend needed was someone to haul him back down to earth. “I think it's safe to say that the governor knows what the meeting is going to be about. If he wasn't willing to even discuss it then it's likely that he would not have agreed to meet with you in the first place. Why would he waste his time?”

“Yeah,” Jed conceded that there might be some truth in that. “I suppose.”

“C'mon,” said David as he pushed himself to his feet. “I could do with some coffee and it's almost lunch time. Why don't you stay and have a bite to eat before you head back?”

“Oh. I donno, I told Sam I'd help him with some fence mending this afternoon,” Jed commented.

“We won't take long,” David persisted. “Besides, Miranda is riding out there to help Beth put together some fliers and I for one would feel better if she had a chaperone.”

“Oh,” Jed responded, not sure if he was comfortable with that arrangement, but still it was a reasonable request. “Yeah, alright.”

So that is how it came about that Miranda got the opportunity to get to know Jed Curry a little bit better and though it was a damp and chilly ride out to the Jordan ranch, it turned out to be pleasant enough.

“When do you and Beth plan on marrying?” Miranda asked as they were heading out of town. “Or are you even betrothed yet?”

“What? OH! Ahh,” Jed hesitated, feeling a little uncomfortable, like maybe everyone thought they were taking too long about it. “No, we're still just courting.”

“Oh,” then she smiled. “I'm sorry, I've done it again haven't I?”

“What?”

“Oh, speaking out of turn,” Randa explained, with a little bit of lighthearted frustration. “Everyone's always telling me that I ask 'inappropriate' questions at 'inappropriate' times! And I can tell by your reaction that I've done it again.”

“Oh, no. You just took me by surprise is all,” Jed assured her. “I'd rather people ask what they want to know rather then gossiping about it behind my back.”

“That's my thinking exactly!” Randa agreed. “If you want to know—just ask! So; do you plan on getting married?”

Jed laughed out loud. Well, he had given her permission after all!

“Yes, we do plan on it,” he informed her. “But we both agreed to wait until Heyes got released from prison first.”

“Eeww,” Miranda frowned. “That could be another seven years couldn't it?”

Jed sighed, his earlier smile dropping and again Miranda felt that she had over-stepped.

“It's looking more and more like it could be,” Jed finally admitted. “I donno. Everybody keeps dangling carrots under our noses! 'Just wait until there's a new warden' or 'President Harrison will be replacing some of the Territorial governors so that should go in our favour'! Yeah, and then everything just turns against us again. It's getting pretty frustrating.”

“Yes, I can see where it would be,” Miranda conceded quietly. “So you don't think the new governor in Wyoming will be of much help?”

“No! It's the same damn governor who sentenced Heyes to life in prison in the first place! Or at least he supported that sentence and wouldn't back off of it.” Jed shook his head, looking dejected and Miranda felt some sympathy towards him. “I don't see him changing his mind about it now, especially with all the hoop-laa going on about statehood.”

“Oh. Do you think that you and Beth can hold out for another seven years?”

“I think the more pressing question is; can Heyes hold out another seven years,” Jed corrected her. “We almost lost him last year.”

“Yes I know,” Miranda again sympathized. “That was frightening—and I don't even know him!”

“Hmm.”

“Well, I'm quite determined to help Beth with the fliers and letters again,” she emphasized her commitment. “Beth said that it made quite a bit of difference in your case and she's not giving up—she's very tenacious!”

That got Jed laughing again. “Oh boy! You can say that again!” he agreed. “Still, I think that's one of the things I love about her. She doesn't give up.”

“Yes. And you do love her don't you,” Randa stated with a knowing smile.

“That's an odd thing to say,” Jed frowned. “I'm courting her aren't I?”

“Oh yes,” Miranda agreed. “but many people court and marry even if they're not in love. Sometimes it's for money, sometimes it's just to get married because of family pressure. But that's not the way it is between you and Beth. You love her—I can tell.”

“Oh you can tell can you?” Jed teased her.

“Yes,” Randa reiterated, quite seriously. “It's in the way you look at her, the way you talk to her. The way you assist her down from the surrey, or off her horse. It's respectful, but loving and protective as well. And all you have to see is the way she smiles at you—the way her eyes light up when she looks at you...” Miranda smiled knowingly again. “Yes, you two will marry for love and you'll do fine.”

Jed smiled over at her. “And you don't think the age difference is a big deal?”

“Oh good heavens, no!” Miranda sent back. “My husband was much older than me and I loved him dearly—he was one of the kindest men I'd ever known.” But then her smile faded and a gentle sadness washed over her. “I miss him so much,” she admitted and then sighed. “I mean, I was twenty years younger than him so I always assumed that I would out-live him, but I didn't think I would lose him quite that quickly.”

Jed nodded. “How long were you married?”

“Twelve years,” she smiled brightly in remembrance. “Twelve glorious years! Oh we had so much fun together—he was my best friend!”

“I'm sorry,” Jed commiserated, and meant it. “To find someone that special and then to lose them so soon. That's hard.”

“Yes,” Randa agreed. “It's been a year and I still expect him to come walking around the corner.” Then she smiled and reached over to put a gentle hand on Jed's arm. “I think Beth feels a little bit of jealousy over me.”

“Oh?” asked the oblivious male. “Why would you think that?”

“She's young and feeling a little insecure I think,” Randa explained. “She loves you so much that she can't imagine other women not feeling the same way, so she feels, perhaps a little threatened—that I might have designs on you myself.”

“Oh,” Jed frowned. “And do you?”

“No!” Miranda was adamant. “Not that you're an unattractive man by any means! But I'm still in mourning—I know I am. I still miss my husband so much. I'm not interested in any new relationships just yet. I just thought I would let you know that so you can reassure Beth that she has nothing to worry about from me. And I suppose that's another reason I'm willing to help her with the fliers. If we can become friends then maybe she'll relax and know for herself that I'm not interested.”

Jed nodded agreement. “Thank you,” he said with a smile. “I suppose I hadn't really thought about that.”

“Well, you've had other things on your mind,” Miranda assured him. “But rest assured! I am on board 100% in our mission to get....Oh dear...” She hesitated and frowned again. “There I go stumbling over that again! I have no idea what to call your friend! It's just not fair—most people have two names and you refer to them with one or the other depending on your level of familiarity. But you two have so many different names and I really have no idea...”

Jed laughed again. This conversation really was going in ups and downs and Jed was getting the definite impression that this was typical of this particular young woman.

“Well...” Jed contemplated the answer. “I know more and more people are calling him 'Hannibal' lately, but that's not really his favourite handle. He accepts it from certain people because he knows that they care about him and they have earned the right. He prefers 'Heyes'—not 'Mr. Heyes' from his friends, just 'Heyes'. But he'll also accept 'Han'. That was my childhood name for him and I suppose it's like an endearment for someone close to him to use it now. He likes 'Joshua'. He doesn't mind at all that there are certain friends who still prefer to call him that.”

He was interrupted by a heavy sigh. “That's exactly what I'm talking about!” Miranda pointed out in frustration. “He has so many names! I'm not his friend—good heavens we don't even know one another! But I'm surrounded by people who are his friends and who love him dearly! But you all call him something different! It's so frustrating!”

“Well I have just as many names as he does—more even!” Jed pointed out. “but you didn't have any trouble settling on one.”

“But I'd met you,” she explained. “Once I'd met you 'Jed' just came naturally.”

“Okay,” Jed conceded. “So why don't you just refer to him as 'Heyes' for now and then if another name starts to feel more comfortable, then switch. Besides that, if you do ever meet him—and hopefully you will, the name that fits will come to you then.”

“Yes,” she found that she had to accept that. “That's kind of what Belle said. Once I meet him I'll know what name fits. So 'Heyes' it is, for now!”

“Yup! And here we are,” Jed needlessly announced as they trotted their horses into the Jordan barnyard with Ellie and the two small dogs charging out with their raucous greetings. “I hope you and Beth have a very productive afternoon.”

“I'm sure we will Jed,” she agreed. “Thank you for your company.”

“Yes ma'am.”


Jed's first visit with his cousin after the winter hiatus seemed a little strained for both of them. Heyes was still feeling the depression holding him down and he felt guilty about it whereas Jed wanted to bring good news but didn't feel it was the right time to tell his friend who it was that was back in office. All in all it was an awkward hour, dispersed with silent intervals and filled in with forced casual chatting that meant nothing and went nowhere.

By the time it was over and they each went their separate ways Jed felt just as depressed and hopeless as the inmate and Heyes simply returned to his cell to take commune with the cat.


Finally April 10th rolled around and Jed found himself once again wearing his finest suit and sitting in the plush and opulent waiting room in order to be received by yet another governor. Or perhaps more appropriately, one who had come full circle just so Jed could be ridiculed and made to feel inconsequential yet again. The only up side to this whole frustrating affair was that both Steven and Lom were there with him and feeling just as uncomfortable and dismal as Jed was himself.

Finally the secretary opened the door leading into the office area and gestured for the three men to come forward.

“Governor Warren is ready to see you now,” he announced somewhat unnecessarily. “Please follow me.”

Jed, Steven and Lom all stood up and followed the secretary out of the waiting room, even though all three of the visitors were quite familiar enough with this routine and with the layout to be able to escort themselves to the Governor's office. Still, one must follow protocol.

Mr. Higgins opened the office door and ushered the three gentlemen in to the large and plush room and indicated the three chairs that had been conveniently placed in a semi-circle around the front of the large cherry wood desk that accentuated the familiar countenance of Governor Frances Warren.

The three men seated themselves down and waited, not quite as patiently as they tried to appear, for the governor to look up from his paperwork and actually acknowledge them. Mr. Warren however seemed to be quite engrossed with said paperwork and continued to occupy himself with reading over various passages to himself and then finally scratching his signature onto one, two and then three of the pages. Only then did he bother to glance up and smile a slightly irritated smile at the three men who awaited him.

“Well gentlemen,” Warren began. “I must admit that one of the redeeming factors of my previous exit from this office was the fact that I would no longer have to be dealing with you and your rather persistent followers! Indeed, during the three years when I did not hold this office I had blessedly forgotten all about you. And yet I'm back in this chair for hardly two weeks when—what do you know!? Sheriff Trevors is once again back to harass my secretary into granting you yet another audience with me! I mean really gentlemen! I'm not even back in office a month and you're right back to hounding me on this matter!?
“Not only that but now I am again finding my office being swarmed with mail! Letters, fliers, telegrams! I would have thought that damn rancher in Texas would have died by now! This won't do gentlemen! No, no, no, this just won't do!”

Jed felt his heart sinking even further, if that could have been possible and even Lom and Steven sat sullen and silent in the dread that the meeting was going to be over before it had even begun. Warren sat at his desk, shaking his head and muttering to himself and then yet again going through the small pile of papers set before him. Finally he motioned Mr. Higgins to approach the desk and handed him the whole pile and instructed him to pass them over to Steven.

“If you would please read these documents over carefully,” Warren requested. “Feel free to discuss them with your associates and then PLEASE sign them!”

Mr. Higgins handed the documents over to Steven who took them with some consternation and then with a quick glance over to both Jed and Lom, he slowly began to brows over the printed pages. As he read down the first page his mouth slowly opened and his brow creased and then he flipped over to the second page and quickly browsed through that. He then stared up at the governor with his mouth open in disbelief and actually quite speechless.

“Is that to your satisfaction, Mr. Granger?” Warren asked him with a slightly irritated edge to his voice.

“Ah, well....I would need some time to discuss this with Mr. Curry and Sheriff Trevors, but ah....”

“What?” Jed couldn't stand the suspense anymore. “What's it say?”

Steven looked over at Jed still appearing to be somewhat in shock.

“It's a parole,” he stated, his voice still edged with disbelief. “A parole for Hannibal Heyes. Effective immediately.”

“WHAT!?”

“WHAT!?”

Steven got hit on both sides with the same expletive.

“As I stated,” Warren interjected. “I've had it up to here with you people! You were a thorn in my side during my last tenure and with all the extra hubbub of trying to bring this territory into statehood the last thing I need is a repeat of the circus you and your friends created four years ago! Take note; it is NOT a full pardon, but a conditional parole! Please read it over carefully and then let me know if it is to your satisfaction! But I tell you right now it is the best YOU ARE GOING TO GET!”

Jed couldn't believe it and he sent the governor the most incredulous of looks.

“You mean this is all it took!?” he demanded. “Make up a few documents, sign it and there you go!? You could have done this four years ago! You could have saved Heyes four years of LIVING IN HELL!”

“Like you say Mr. Curry,” Warren seethed. “all it is are a few documents. Quite easy to rip up and throw away if you'd rather.”

“Oh!....No,” Jed instantly backed off. “No sir, Governor Warren. Ahh, thank you. We'll just take some time to look these over and then let you know.”

“Fine!” Warren snapped. “I'm going to go for lunch. I'm hoping that half an hour is all you gentlemen will need to come to a decision.”

“Thank you Governor Warren,” Lom stood up as the governor moved around his large desk and made a hasty exit from his office, followed by the trusty Mr. Higgins.

The three gentlemen left behind stood or sat in stunned silence for close on to thirty seconds and then, as though by some hidden cue, pure pandemonium broke out and all three were laughing and hollering and slapping each other on the back!

“I can't believe it!”

“We did it!”

“Finally! I can't wait to see Heyes' face!”

“This is cause for celebration!”

“I just don't believe it!”

“This is Beth's doing! She and Bridget and now Miranda! They're the ones who did this! Oh! I havta let Uncle Mac know! Having a friend as big as him comes in handy when you need to start throwing some weight around! Ha ha! I don't believe it!”

“Okay, okay, settle down!” Steven, though still breathing heavy with excitement himself was the first to try and bring the meeting to order. “Like the governor said, this is a conditional parole. We better read the conditions before we start celebrating too much.”

“So long as Heyes gets out of that prison, what difference does it make?” Jed asked, but starting to calm down as well.

“I know, but let's just make sure,” Steven suggested.

“Steven's right,” Lom backed him up. “we need to go over the documents and make sure that everything is straight forward and that you think Heyes would be agreeable to.”

“Lom at this point I can't see Heyes being disagreeable to anything that will get him out of there,” Jed reasoned, but then he nodded and agreed. “But yeah, you're right. We need to know what it says. Okay Steven, let's get down to business.”

So all three men pulled their chairs up to the desk and then sat down in a huddle to go over the document one point at a time.

“Okay,” Steven began as he took up page number one. “As official Governor of the Territory of Wyoming, I; Frances Emroy Warren hereby authorize a conditional parole to Hannibal Ellstrom Heyes to become effective immediately on this date of April 10th, 1889.
Conditions of parole are as follows;

1.Parolee must have a permanent place of residence.
2.Parolee must have a permanent place of employment.”

“Well that's no problem,” Jed interjected. “Jesse will take care of that part of it.”

“Yes I'm sure he will,” Steven agreed. “but we'll probably need to get a written statement from him concerning that in any case. Ahh, anyway, let's see....

3.Parolee must report to local law enforcement on a weekly basis.
4.Parolee must inform local law enforcement of any plans to leave county of residence and to provide reason for leaving, intended destination, date of departure and intended date of return.
5.Parolee must report to local law enforcement at town of destination, must explain his reasons for being there, how long he intends to stay and where he will be lodging during the visit.
6.If for any reason the Parolee is delayed in returning to county of residence he must inform the primary law enforcement by telegram the reason for his delay and a new date of return.
7.Parolee must not have any contact with any known criminals or associate with persons known to be outside the law.
8.Parolee must obey the laws in this or any other Territory or State bound by the borders of the United States of America.
9.If, for any reason any of the above conditions are broken the Territory of Wyoming holds the right to secure the Parolee back into custody and to return him without benefit of trial or legal council to the Territorial Prison where he will then serve out the remainder of his sentence without opportunity for a further parole.
10. Conditions of the parole will remain in place for the duration of the remaining sentence. Once the sentence has reached its conclusion, the Parolee will present himself to the Wyoming Penal Board and a decision will be made at that time as to the ability of the Parolee to maintain a lawful lifestyle and whether or not he is eligible to be released from above conditions.”

Steven stopped reading and sighed. Lom whistled. Jed didn't say anything.

“Well, they're certainly going to be keeping him on a short leash,” Lom finally commented. “I hope he can stick to that.”

“He better,” Steven cautioned. “because if he doesn't this document gives the law the right to grab him off the street and throw him back in prison without any recourse open to us to fight it.”

“Geesh!” Jed ran his hand through his curls. “and what about that 'no associating with known criminals'? That doesn't mean me does it?”

“No no,” Steven assured him. “No, you're not a criminal anymore Jed. The same for Mr. Murtry—so long as that gentleman doesn't commit any crimes while he's doing his little undercover job for us.”

“Kind of hard for him not to,” Jed pointed out. “I mean, he's back in with Wheat and we told him to go there. If the gang he's with is going to be robbing trains you can bet he'll be right in there with them.”

“Yes I know,” Steven admitted. “I don't know. If it comes down to it we can say that Mr. Murtry was working for us. It certainly wouldn't be a lie.”

“What in the world are you two talking about?” Lom demanded, feeling like he'd been left out of the loop—again!

“Well, when Kyle got out of prison, he was already planning to go meet up with Wheat again,” Jed explained. “So we simply agreed that he should and to keep an eye and ear open for that Harris fellow who might be able to clear Heyes of killing Dr. Morin. Course now it looks like Mitchell is dropping that charge anyways—well obviously, or Heyes sure wouldn't be getting a parole, no matter how strict it is.”

“What do you mean 'planning to meet up with Wheat again'?” Lom asked incredulously. “Do you mean to tell me that Carlson is still alive!?”

Steven and Jed exchanged guilty glances.

“Oh yeah,” Jed mumbled. “we kinda forgot to tell ya' that, didn't we.”

“Goddammit Kid!” Lom complained. “Don't ya' think that mighta been worth telling me!?”

Jed looked sheepish, but then Steven interjected.

“Don't blame Jed, Sheriff,” the lawyer offered. “It was my fault just as much as his. It wasn't an intentional omission, believe me. There's just been so much going on. And really, the fewer people who know of Mr. Carlson's continued existence, the better at least for now.”

“Yeah, I'm sorry Lom,” Jed apologized. “I shoulda told ya'. I just didn't think.”

“Well okay,” Lom accepted that. “but from now on, you fellas better keep me informed of what's going on. Especially with this parole laid out the way it is! You better be letting me know what Heyes is doing every minute of every bloody day—do you hear me!?”

“Yeah I will Lom,” Jed agreed. “For sure.”

“Of course,” Steven also agreed. “But for now, well Jed, what do you think? Will your partner be agreeable to these terms? They are very strict.”

“Yeah, but what choice does he have?” Jed reasoned. “It's either agree to them or stay in prison. I think he'll agree. And then we'll just have to do everything we can to help him stick to them.”

“Agreed,” said Steven.

“Agreed,” Lom reiterated.

When Governor Warren returned to his office after lunch he was much relieved to find everyone in agreement. Thank goodness this whole mess was finally going to be cleared away!

“Fine Mr. Granger,” Warren commented. “So if you would sign here, and here. Good. And Sheriff Trevors if you would witness those signatures. Good. Thank you gentlemen. Now, once you have discussed these conditions with Mr. Heyes and that he will hopefully also be in agreement, he will need to sign here. Then the warden will need to sign here and then of course, Mr. Granger you and one other witness will need to sign this section as well.”

Jed groaned. “Oh dammit,” he complained. “I was hoping we could avoid Warden Mitchell in this. I doubt he is going to be very happy about the turn of events.”

“Mr. Mitchell no longer has any say in these events,” the governor informed them. “He was encouraged to take early retirement and a new warden has been appointed by the board. I expect you will find him to be more accommodating in this matter. He has already made some staff changes at the prison that may prove to be interesting.”

Everybody brightened up at that news.

“This day just keeps getting better and better!” Jed grinned. “Hopefully the new warden isn't going to be just another stuffy bureaucrat like the last!”

“I certainly hope not,” Warren agreed. “Finally, once Mr Heyes is released into your keeping, the first thing he must do even before settling in, is to report to the local Sheriff's office and let that man know where he will be residing and what job he has procured. It is my understanding that there is already something along those lines set up for him?”

“Yes Mr. Warren,” Steven informed him. “there is.”

“GOOD!” Warren expostulated. “So, gentlemen if we are concluded here, I will bid you a good afternoon!”

“Indeed Governor Warren,” Steven said. “Good afternoon.”

“Governor thank you,” Lom bid farewell.

“Yeah same here,” Jed sent him a nod.

Then all four men, simply as a matter of protocol shook hands and much to the governor's relief, the three major thorns in his side took their leave.


To Be Continued.
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Gringa

Gringa

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Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid

Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty
PostSubject: Re: Healing Chapter thirty-three   Healing    Chapter thirty-three EmptySun Mar 23, 2014 9:14 am

Finally!  There is a future for Heyes and I can see where all this fits into 'Ghosts'  These are tough restrictions, but he'll be out!  Fantastic writing!  I loved the scene where the Kid ended up cradling Heyes in his arms.
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Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty
PostSubject: Re: Healing Chapter thirty-three   Healing    Chapter thirty-three Empty

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Healing Chapter thirty-three
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