Posts : 96
Join date : 2013-08-28
|Subject: A Fork in the Road - Part Two Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:58 am|| |
A Fork in the Road
Part twoWalking into the General Store, Kid was almost run over by the first four unpleasant people he had met in Johnson City. The snarls and the sneers on the men's face made him take note. Stepping aside to let them by, he noticed the tied down guns on the scruffy men. Shaking his head he hoped they weren't there for trouble. He watched them for a moment as they walked down the boardwalk. Seeing no indication of trouble, he went into the store.
Momentarily blinded by the setting sun, Kid stopped as he left the General Store. As his eyes adjusted, he noticed the group of men being joined by two others. Squinting as he shielded the sun's rays with his hand he stared at the group. Sucking his breath in, he quickly stepped back into the shade and cover of the door. Peering at the gang from behind the door, his head dropped - his first instincts were right, they were trouble! The two men joining the four he had seen earlier were Sticks and Toby Burrows.
The Burrows brother's gang usually worked south of Devil's Hole, but had wandered up into their neck of the woods a few times, waiting for the heat to settle down. They stuck mostly with holding up stagecoaches but recently they had heard rumors that the gang were getting into bigger things. Kid watched as the group walked to the side alley of the bank. Groaning to himself he shook his head, Heyes was not going to like this at all. They were supposed to stay out of trouble and the Burrows brothers were nothing but trouble.
Grumbling and mumbling to himself, with purpose in his stride, he headed to the saloon to tell Heyes. Neither brother had ridden with the Devil's Hole Gang, but they had crossed paths enough times for both to recognize both he and Heyes on sight.
"There he is," exclaimed Toby, pointing towards Kid as the gang stood at the entrance way to the alley.
"You sure," Sticks replied skeptically as he could only see the man's back.
"I'm sure," his brother reiterated.
"Follow him," Sticks ordered. "I'll be there in a minute."
Toby nodded and quickly set off across the street to catch up with the man that just entered the saloon.
Stepping inside the saloon, Kid once again stopped to let his eyes adjust from the bright sunlight of the day to the dark and dank saloon. The smell of whiskey and cigars hung in the air. Scanning the interior, he checked out the few patrons that occupied the saloon at this hour. The bartender was busy moving glasses behind the bar. A lone man sat at the poker table playing solitaire. There were three men standing at the bar drinking beer and one man at the end of the bar having a hard time warding off the attentions of one of the working girls. Kid spotted Heyes sitting at a table in the back corner. Taking a step towards him, he felt a slap on the back and froze.
"Hey Kid, I thought that was you and Heyes I saw earlier," Toby said as he greeted the ex-outlaw with an enthusiastic slap.
"Sshh," Kid glared, looking to see if anyone overheard the use of their names.
"Oh oh," Toby stammered. "I'm sorry," he continued as he put his hands up in front of him apologetically.
"It's okay," Kid said quietly, trying to calm the man down. Turning he placed his arm over Toby's shoulder in a friendly manner. "Let's have a seat and I'll buy you a beer." Talking quietly, he ushered the man to where Heyes was sitting and out of earshot of the few patrons in the establishment.
"Hhhh," Toby caught himself. Swallowing hard, he looked into the penetrating brown eyes looking back at him.
Standing up, Heyes presented his hand to shake, "Joshua Smith."
Toby nervously looked down at the outstretched hand and then back up to the eyes that could bore a hole straight through him. "Toby Burrows," he gulped.
Never taking his eyes off of Toby's, Heyes indicated for him to have a seat. Toby slid into the chair across from Heyes. Kid walked around the table and sat next to his partner. Before anyone had a chance to say anything, Sticks walked into the saloon. He stopped and called out, "Toby."
Heyes rolled his eyes as he shook his head. Taking in a breath, he flexed his hand before settling it on his chin.
"Over he....re," Toby called out loudly only to have his voice fade away with Heyes' expression. Seeing his brother, Sticks headed to the back corner of the saloon.
"Well I'll be," Sticks called out loudly as he approached the three sitting men. "Dang if you weren't right."
Heyes clenched his jaw as he stood up. "Joshua Smith," he stated forcefully as he presented his hand. Slightly tilting his head toward Kid as he stared into Sticks' eyes, "This is my partner Thaddeus Jones."
Sticks looked between the two men. Neither showing any indication they knew him, or pleased to see him.
Kid pushed the chair next to Toby out with his foot as his ice blue eyes told the man to sit.
Sticks looked down at Toby, and then back at the two men before sitting down quietly.
Never taking his eyes off of Sticks, Heyes sat back down.
Confusion was apparent on Sticks face as he asked, "Smith and Jones?"
Kid gave a nod.
Heyes' eyes became darker as he focused on Sticks'. He barely moved his head side to side indicating no, but he got the full implication of the meaning.
Sticks swallowed hard.
Kid waved his hand at the bartender indicating three more beers. The four sat in silence waiting for the beer to arrive. Kid staring the two into submission, Heyes figuring out what to tell them since the deal with the governor was a secret. Toby and Sticks sat nervously waiting to know why their friends had turned on them.
The bartender handed the men their beer and headed back to the bar. Heyes leaned in quietly and asked, "What are you doing in town?"
"Shouldn't we be askin' you that?" Sticks replied. "This ain't Devil's Hole."
"Will ya keep it down," Heyes growled between gritted teeth. "I'm Smith, he's Jones and we don't know anything about Devil's Hole."
Sticks looked nervously around the saloon; looking for a sheriff, bounty hunter, someone that would get Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry to act this way. Seeing only the few patrons in the saloon and no one paying attention to them he turned his focus back on Heyes. "Riiiigggghhhht," he dragged out as he slowly nodded his head. He looked at Heyes and then at Kid, "Heat's on?"
Heyes figured it was as good an explanation as he could come up with, nodded his head once.
"Okay, Mr. Smith," Sticks announced loudly enough for the rest of the saloon to hear.
Heyes closed his eyes and scrunched his face; Kid rolled his eyes and leaned forward. "How ‘bout keepin' it down. We're just tryin' to blend in here," Kid stated firmly.
"Oh," Sticks and Toby said as they nodded their heads in unison.
Heyes looked at Kid; this wasn't going to be easy. Heyes leaned in, "We got chased by a posse for weeks. We kept loosing ‘em and then they would catch up with us."
"Apache?" Toby interrupted.
"Yeah," Kid replied quietly.
Sticks and Toby nodded their head in understanding.
"Anyway, Kk," Heyes caught himself and stopped. "Thaddeus and me decided we would come down here for a while. Relax, sit back and put the feet up." Heyes paused and looked at the two men. "So what's your story?"
Sticks looked around the saloon again. Leaning into the table he whispered, "We're gonna rob the bank."
Heyes pushed back from the table. He ran his hand across his face, he didn't hear that correctly. He looked at Kid's expression, he did. The Burrows brothers planned on robbing the bank in the town they were in. Thoughts flooded Heyes' brain. They travel all this way just to be in the same town as a bank robbery? How were he and Kid gonna explain this to Lom and the Governor? If they got up and left now, did anyone recognize them? Would they be blamed anyway? Heyes calmly leaned back in, "Come again?"
"We're," keeping his finger right in front of him, Sticks pointed back and forth between himself and Toby. Then very slowly continued, "Gonna rob the bank."
Toby shook his head enthusiastically, blurting out, "Wanna help?"
Heyes and Kid's eye bulged at the comment. "Didn't you just hear me say, we came to relax, let things cool down a bit?"
"There ain't nobody lookin' for ya down here," Sticks stated as he looked around the near empty saloon.
"And we'd like to keep it that way for a few days," Kid replied.
"Oh we ain't gonna rob it today," Toby informed them. Looking at both Kid and Heyes Toby's heart sank, "You won't even consider it?"
Sticks sneered at Toby. "We can do it without them."
"I know but I just thought how great it would be ridin' with Hhhh," Toby stopped when Heyes turned his gaze on him. "I just thought it would be great ridin' with the two of you," Toby stuttered.
"Appreciate the sentiment," Heyes stated as he softened his glare. "Think we'll sit this one out."
Feeling a little hurt being so abruptly turned down, Sticks stood up. "Well, we'll be seeing you. Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones." Sticks turned and started to stalk out the saloon. When he realized Toby wasn't following, he called over his shoulder for him. "Toby!" Toby jumped to his feet and quickly was at Sticks side as they left the saloon.
"Oh Heyes," Kid moaned.
"I know Kid, I know."
The ex-outlaw partners sat in silence as they nursed their beer. After finishing the first beer, they nursed the second. Kid looked at Heyes occasionally but didn't speak. He could see his partner deep in thought, desperately trying to figure out their next move. The saloon slowly began to fill as the sun set.
With one last swallow of his beer Heyes shook his head. "I just can't work it out Kid."
Curry looked at him but didn't speak. He knew Heyes wasn't done talking, in fact he knew he had just begun; just begun to verbalize the thoughts that he had been trying to reconcile. He waited quietly.
Brown eyes stared at the mug in front of him. "I just can't work it out," Heyes repeated himself. "Everything I come up with," he let the sentence hang in the air, exasperated as he was. "If we stay; we'll get blamed. If we leave; we'll get blamed." He ran his hand threw his hair and finally looked at Kid. "I even tried to figure out how to talk them out of robbing the bank, but why? Why should they listen to me? What do I have to offer?"
"Your expertise," Kid replied.
His partner listened intently.
"Toby was sure excited to work with you."
"Sticks wasn't," Heyes reminded Kid.
"Yeah, but maybe the rest of the gang is."
Heyes snickered, "I don't see how this is helping us. The idea is NOT to work with them."
"If you tell them it's dangerous, maybe they would listen."
Heyes chuckled. "Yeah, that's gonna work." His sarcasm apparent as he continued, "Boys, I don't think you should rob the bank, it's dangerous."
Kid scowled at his partner. "Not if you do it that way. Use your silvery tongue. Tell them you heard the Sheriff was all set up for a robbery. Something, I don't know, you're the one that thinks things up."
Heyes gave a small nod to Kid. "Yeah, that's what I'm worried about." He tapped the mug in front of him sighing as he looked around the saloon. Where did all these people come from he wondered. Hearing Kid's stomach rubble, he chuckled to himself. "It's getting late, let's get something to eat. Maybe I can come up with something then."
"I always think better with a full stomach," the blond man stated as he stood up.
Heyes chuckled again; he patted Kid's back as he followed in step.
They ate dinner in relative quiet. Well Kid ate as Heyes pushed his food around the plate taking a bite here and there but mostly just moving it around. Coffee was poured and Heyes instinctively raised it to his lips. Taking a sip he gasped as the heat hit his mouth.
Kid smiled, "Welcome back."
Confused, brown eyes stared at blue.
"Even you have to admit, you were a million miles away since we sat down."
His partner smiled and nodded. "That obvious?"
Kid returned the smile.
"Thaddeus," he stated placing his coffee cup on the table. "I think we've outstayed our welcome here. There are no jobs in the future so I think it's time to move on. I know you aren't too fond of cattle drives but the one forming up in Clearwater might be our best bet."
"When do you want to leave?"
"At first light."
Heyes looked at his partner. Seeing the displeasure on his face he leaned in. "Look Kid, I know it's not what we want to do but I think it's our best shot."
"We get out of town before anything happens. If people think back on it, they won't think of us. We're leaving for a cattle drive. Since when would Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry join a cattle drive and announce that's where they're going."
"Heyes what if someone does put us together. We'll be sittin' ducks on the cattle drive."
"We have to hope no one does," Heyes emphatically stated. "It certainly doesn't look like anyone knows now, so we just have to believe no one will when we leave." He paused for a second and then continued. "Sticks, Toby and the gang will still be here when we leave. None of them looks like our descriptions on the wanted posters."
Kid looked at his partner for a long minute. "Alright, but if they try to have me ride drag, I'm outta there."
Heyes smiled, "I'll be right behind you."
Leaving the café and entering the quiet street Kid stopped. "Heyes, no one said goin' straight was gonna be so hard on the back."
"We knew it wasn't gonna be easy."
"Yea, but I didn't realize I was gonna have to give up sleepin’ in beds and eatin' good food."
"It's character building."
Kid glared at his parnter.
Heyes' smile slipped some before returning bigger. "No one says we have to give up all the comforts tonight. Can I interest you in going to the saloon Mr. Jones?"
Kid smiled broadly, "Sounds like a plan Mr. Smith."
The partners stepped off the boardwalk just as their names were called out. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones."
Stopping they looked at each other before turning around. Seeing the tin star pinned to the man's vest Heyes pasted a smile on his face. "Good evening Sheriff. What can we do for you?"
"You Smith and Jones?" Sheriff Adamson inquired.
"Yes sir," the silver tongued partner replied in his best disarming voice. "I'm Joshua Smith. This is my partner Thaddeus Jones. Is there something we can help you with?"
"I'd like a few minutes of your time if you wouldn't mind."
"Don't mind at all," Heyes stated; smile still plastered on his face, hands resting on his belt buckle.
"Good," the Sheriff replied. "Why don't you just come to my office."
"We can't talk here?" Heyes meekly asked, the smile vanishing from his face.
"No. My office would be better."
"Oh," he gulped as he glanced at Kid. "After you Sheriff."
"I think after you, Mr. Smith," the lawman stated firmly.
Heyes nodded as he and Kid turned towards the jail and started walking.
Walking into the office, they startled the deputy sheriff who was sitting with his feet up on the desk nodding off. The young man jumped to his feet, fumbling as he tried to draw his gun. "Settle down Jimmy," the Sheriff bellowed. Seeing the Sheriff and the two men with him, Jimmy nodded. "I need a few minutes with Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. Why don't you get some fresh air and stretch you legs."
The young man stared at the Sheriff for a moment. "Oh, all right, Sheriff," he stammered as he tripped over his feet trying to leave the office. Stopping at the door he turned around, "Is it okay if I stop in on Melissa? She was making a pie when I came in today."
"Sure thing Jimmy. Just be back before its time for rounds." Jimmy nodded, bumping into the door before he left.
Sheriff Adamson shook his head and laughed. "He's a good boy. Just got two left feet." He chuckled some more before turning his attention back on Heyes and Kid. Pointing to the chairs by his desk, "Have a seat." The lawman made his way to the chair his deputy had just vacated.
Sitting down, Kid scanned the jail. Noting the wanted posters on the wall, he glanced at Heyes who had also seen their posters predominately posted in the middle of the wall right next to the Sheriff's desk. Confidently, Heyes sat up straight and looked the lawman in the eyes. "So Sheriff, what can my partner and me do for you?"
"Got some questions to ask you."
"About what?" Kid inquired.
Adamson looked at Kid. He was not the nice pleasant one of the two. The Sheriff studied the steel look in his eyes.
"What my partner means, Sheriff," Heyes smiled broadly as he talked in a soothing voice trying to remove the scrutinizing eyes from his partner, "Is what possible questions could you have of us? We've only been in town a few days and don't know anybody."
Taking his eyes off of Kid, the Sheriff turned towards Heyes. "You were seen in the saloon talking to two men earlier today."
"Yes sir," he replied wondering where the question was leading.
"Who were they?"
Heyes opened his mouth to speak then closed it, he was going to have to make this look and sound convincing. Confusion spread across his face. "I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"No. I don't think they ever told us." Heyes looked at Kid for confirmation, knowing his partner would follow his lead. "Thaddeus, did they tell us?"
"No, can't say they did."
"They didn't tell you their names but you were seen talking to them," the Sheriff said suspiciously.
"Yes sir. They heard we were looking for jobs," Heyes explained.
"Jobs, they were offering you jobs?"
"Hmm, that's the strange thing," Heyes stated. "Now that I think about it they didn't offer us any jobs."
The Sheriff creased his brow, totally confused.
"I mean when they sat down, first the one and then the other, they mentioned maybe having a job for us. We talked for a few minutes and then the one guy got up." Heyes sat pretending to contemplate the situation. "I guess they must not have liked us. When the first one got up, he seemed angry and yelled for the other one to follow. That's the last we've seen of them."
The Sheriff looked at Kid, "Is that how you remember it?"
"No sir." Heyes once again answered. "We're leaving in the morning for Clearwater. We hear there's a cattle drive forming in a few weeks."
Adamson nodded. Looking at Kid he asked, "Do you ever talk more than a word or two?"
Kid glanced at Heyes then back at the Sheriff, "Don't usually have the opportunity to."
The Sheriff looked at Kid and then at Heyes. "No, I guess you don't. So you haven't seen either men since then?"
"No sir," Heyes jumped in.
Kid smiled, the Sheriff gave a knowing nod.
"Well that's all boys, you can go."
Standing up, Heyes couldn't resist asking, "They do anything bad Sheriff?"
"Not yet, they just look the type."
Heyes nodded in agreement.
"I didn't think the two of you were involved with them, but I had to check you out. I hope you understand."
"Not a problem Sheriff," Heyes smiled. Tipping their hats they left closing the door behind them.
"You still think we should stay until mornin’?" Kid asked quietly.
"More than ever," Heyes stated. "I just told the Sheriff that’s when we were leaving."
"Think we should head back to the hotel?"
"No I think the saloon is the perfect place tonight. The more people that see us, the better and a whiskey sounds really good right now."
The saloon had filled up rather nicely since the two had left. The bar was lined completely with men leaning against it drinking beer or whiskey. There were three tables of poker going, and the lone saloon girl from earlier had been joined by four new girls. Heyes stopped as he walked through the batwing doors and smiled. "Think this is going to be a good night, Kid."
Eyeing a particularly pretty blonde saloon girl Kid smiled and agreed. "Yeah, Heyes I think you're right."
Seeing an opening at the end of the bar as one of the saloon girls took the attention of one of the men propped up against it, the partners grabbed the spot. Kid motioned to the bartender for two whiskeys. The bartender placed two glasses down and poured. They both downed the drinks in one swallow and nodded for another.
"That's all for now, Jack" Heyes told the bartender as he placed the money on the bar. Jack nodded and headed back down to the other end.
The ex-outlaws turned and leaned against the bar, whiskey glasses in hand as they watched the patrons of the establishment. "Do you really think we can do it?" Kid asked.
"Amnesty," he whispered. "Do you think we can do it?"
Heyes shrugged, his on focused on the poker game to the left. "I think we aught to give it a try. Why?"
Blue eyes followed his parnter's gaze to a large sum of money sitting in the middle of the poker table. "Did you see the bank?"
"You thinking of joining Sticks and Toby?"
Kid thought for a moment. "It's gotta be easy money. Just lookin’ at the outside, you can tell it's an easy hit."
Heyes chuckled lightly, "No, now that pot over there, that's easy money. The guy took two cards and was looking for an inside straight." Turning to look Kid in the eyes he stated, "No bank is that easy. We make it look easy cause of all the planning and precautions we take."
"You know I'm right."
"I know you're right but do you think we can make it as model citizens?"
"I think we can do anything we set our minds to." He turned his attention back to the poker table. "Right now I have my mind set on getting into that poker game." Seeing another large pot won with just a pair he stated, "Nothing can be that easy." As they looked on, one of the men pushed himself away from the table. "See, Thaddeus," he said as he walked to the table. "We just gotta set our minds on it and anything is possible." He smiled as he reached the table and sat down.
Kid grinned at his partner's pleasure and then at the pretty blonde who had just slinked next to him.
"I thought he would never leave," she whispered as she wrapped her arm around his. "How about buyin' a girl a drink?"
Kid smiled and motioned to Jack.
"Where have you been all my life?" she cooed as she leaned into him.
"Here and there," he responded. "But I'm here now." Staring into her blue eyes, he ran his thumb down the side of her face.
"Mmm," she practically moaned. "I think you have the bluest eyes I have ever seen." She leaned into him harder. "What's your name sugar?"
"Well Thaddeus, I'm sure glad you're here tonight."
"That makes two of us."
Heyes reached into the middle of the table and pulled the large pot towards him. He glanced up at Kid and smiled; guess we're both going to have good nights he thought to himself.
This was the place to be as the rest of the town shut down; the saloon was filled with patrons and noise. The drinks were flowing, the girls were flattering and cards were being played. Heyes and Kid were in their element and enjoying every minute of it.
As the night wore on, most of the people had found their way to the door and hopefully home. The saloon girls had called it a night and the last poker game ended about a half hour ago. Once again, there were only a handful of people in the saloon. Heyes and Kid sat at the back table sipping one last whiskey while the bartender cleaned up. It was a good night.
"Sure is a shame we have to leave tomorrow," Kid sighed.
"Had a good time tonight?" Heyes smiled.
Kid grinned ear to ear and took a sip of his whiskey.
"Yeah, we could make a good living here if they play cards like this every night."
"Big enough that we can forget about the cattle drive," Heyes replied with a sparkle in his eyes.
"Kid it was like taking candy from a baby. They bet like they had great hands and had nothing. I had to try hard not to win every hand," Heyes chuckled.
"What about the Sheriff?"
The sparkle left Heyes' eyes. "What about him?"
"You told him we were headed for the drive."
"Oh," Heyes relaxed and smiled as he raised his eyebrow. "That was before tonight." He took a sip of whiskey. "We'll still leave town heading in that direction, but I don't think once we leave he'll think about where we're going."
"Not even after the bank is robbed?"
"Ya had to bring that up."
"Nah, even after the banks robbed. We told the Sheriff we didn't know who they were and we told him we were leaving town. That should be enough," he explained trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince Kid.
Jimmy sat in the Sheriff's office drinking coffee. He had been stuck on the overnight shift ever since the other deputy sheriff went to visit his folks back east. He was getting tired of staying up all night alone; Johnson City just wasn't exciting and after dark it was downright boring. He couldn't remember the last time they actually had someone in the jail that wasn't there sleeping off a night at the saloon.
He took out his gun and twirled it a time or two then checked to make sure it was loaded. Chucking to himself, he wondered why. Getting up to stretch his legs, he looked out the window and then at his watch. He would do rounds in about fifteen minutes; he could stop by the saloon to see if anyone needed a bed to sleep it off. With any luck, he'd have company for a little while, well until the guy passed out. Jimmy sat back down at the Sheriff's desk, propped up his feet and took a sip of coffee.
"Do you think we should've told the Sheriff what they were plannin'?" Kid asked.
Heyes thought for a moment. "No. He would just wonder why they would be asking us."
"Cause we're lookin' for jobs."
"There's lots of folks looking for jobs. Only two people who got asked to rob a bank."
Kid nodded and took the last sip of his whiskey. He looked over at his partner; he was staring at the half filled shot glass. "What's wrong?"
"Hmm," Heyes responded, not really hearing or paying attention.
"Joshua," Kid said loudly enough for the bartender to look over towards them.
"What?" Heyes asked, having his concentration broken.
Heyes swirled the brown liquid in his glass, sighed and then swallowed it in one gulp. "Gotta a feeling."
"Oh," Kid groaned. "I hate when you gotta feelin'."
"But Sticks," Toby said sounding very confused. "You said we was gonna check the place out for a couple of days before we robbed the bank."
"That was before," Sticks replied sternly as he continued to lead the gang through the back of town.
"Before what?" Toby questioned.
Sticks didn't answer he just glared at his brother.
"But we told Heyes and Kid we wasn't gonna do nothin' tonight. What if they changed their minds and wanted in?"
"They had their chance," Sticks barked. He pulled his horse up and dismounted. "Okay, we'll tie the horses up here and then go down the side alley to the bank."
Jimmy looked at his watch again; time sure was slow when you were bored. Finally it was time; he put his coffee cup on the Sheriff's desk and stood up. Removing his gun from his holster, he checked it to make sure it was loaded. Why, he wasn't sure since he had already checked it several times, but that's what he always did before he did rounds.
He opened the door just as the large boom from the bank was heard, jolting him backwards as the walls rumbled. Realizing what must be happening, Jimmy bolted through the door.
Still sitting in the back of the saloon, Heyes and Kid heard the loud noise; a boom they knew all too well. "Damn," Heyes growled. "They said nothing was happening tonight!"
Time seemed to slow down and all noise except the gunfire ceased. Bang, bang, bang. Their eyes grew wide upon hearing the rapid gunfire. Pushing themselves back from the table, their chairs tumbled backwards as they stood; they heard it again. Bang, bang, bang. Jack grabbed his shotgun from behind the bar as he headed for the batwing doors. Bang, bang. Heyes and Kid reached the doors just as Jack lifted his shotgun and pointed it at a rider. The rider was pointing his gun at a man down on the boardwalk near the Sheriff's office. BOOM! The man arched his back and fell face forward off his horse as smoke rose from the shotgun. Then there was silence.
"Jimmy!!" a voice from past the bank yelled.
"Over here Sheriff," Jimmy yelled from the boardwalk. "I think I got'em all."
"Get the Doc!" the Sheriff yelled as he ran towards him.
Heyes and Kid stood at the batwing doors, guns in hand, stunned by the bodies littering the street. Sheriff Adamson looked their way as he ran towards his deputy. Then all of a sudden, things sped up and people were shouting. Men were running towards the street.
"This one's dead."
"So is this one."
"Yep. These two are gonners."
"Think this one’s alive, but it don't look like for much longer."
"Boy Jack, you made a mess of this one."
Six bodies; all but one dead, one injured deputy. Heyes and Kid holstered their guns and made their way to the street, to the lone survivor of the gang. They reached the steps of the bank. Toby lay in a pool of his own blood. They looked down at him; he smiled and then coughed his last breath.
"See you boys are still up," the Sheriff said as he walked up behind them.
"Huh?" a startled Heyes replied. Turning to see the Sheriff, Heyes replied, "Yeah." Moving his hand in the direction and pointing with his thumb he continued, "We were just finishing up at the saloon."
"Really?" Sheriff Adamson said in an accusatory tone.
"Really," Kid stated defensively. "We've been in there since we left your office. You can check with Jack or anyone else that was in there tonight."
Adamson put his hand up. "Whoa, son; I'm not accusing you of anything."
Heyes put his hand on Kid's arm. "I'm sure the Sheriff didn't mean anything Thaddeus." He turned to look the Sheriff in the eyes. "I guess nerves are a little on edge right now."
"That they are Mr. Smith." Looking down at Toby he asked, "Do you know him?"
"He's one of the men we talked to in the saloon," Heyes replied.
"Do you see the other?" Adamson asked.
Heyes looked around and finally spotted Sticks. "He's the one Jack shot."
"Do you recognize anyone else?"
Heyes shook his head.
"No Sheriff," Kid replied quietly.
Heyes sighed and looked around; the doctor was attending to Jimmy. "How's Jimmy?"
"Oh he'll be fine," the Sheriff visibly relaxed. "He got lucky; he just got grazed by a bullet."
"Did he?" Heyes asked looking around.
"Two left feet but the fastest draw I've ever seen. Accurate too," Sheriff Adamson stated.
Heyes looked at Kid. Adamson missed the look as the doctor called for him.
"Excuse me," he said, turning to walk away.
Heyes and Kid were left alone, standing next to Toby. They looked at the bodies strewn about. "Still wondering about the amnesty," Heyes asked glumly.
"No," Kid replied. "Sleepin’ on the ground doesn't sound too bad right now."
Heyes and Kid packed their bedrolls and saddlebags on their horses. They looked around the quiet town. A couple of men were washing down the stairs to the bank and the boardwalk, trying to remove some of the blood. They were both deep in their own thoughts.
"Leaving so early?"
Heyes looked up to see the Sheriff approach them. "Yes sir." He smiled tightly. "Didn't think we would be getting much sleep after last night so we might as well be moving on." Heyes paused, "How's Jimmy."
Sheriff Adamson chuckled. "He's doing fine. Got all the women in town up in arms, being so young and shot. Now he's the hero and they're lining up to bake him pies and take care of him."
"He deserves it," Kid replied.
"Yes he does but I think he's gonna have his hands full tryin’ to fend off some of those women," he chuckled.
Heyes smiled in agreement.
The Sheriff became serious, "I checked with Jack, your story pans out, says you were in the saloon all night." He paused for a moment, "Sure glad you weren't involved. You seem like nice fellows, I'd hate to have had Jimmy shoot you."
"That makes three of us," Heyes smiled, producing his hand to shake. "Sheriff."
"Mr Smith, Mr. Jones," Sheriff Adamson shook their hands.
The partners mounted their horses.
"Heading up to Clearwater for the cattle drive?"
Heyes smiled. "Not sure where we're heading Sheriff."
Adamson looked on with interest.
"Did pretty good last night, might be able to avoid the cattle drive."
The Sheriff nodded.
"Maybe the next town's got some work, not too hard on the back."
"Maybe," Sheriff Adamson chuckled. "Good luck boys." He tipped his hat to them.
Heyes and Kid tipped their hats at the Sheriff and rode out of town. Reaching the fork in the road they looked at each other. Heyes looked at Kid, "Red Rock or Devil's Hole?"
It was a long ride to Red Rock; Kid figured there was a glass or two of whiskey for him when he got there.