A Twist in the Tale
The child buried his face into his mother’s skirts before peeping at the outlaws with huge, blinking, fretful eyes. The blond man’s piercing gaze scanned the room above the level of the little ginger head, assessing each and every one of the customers cramming against the wall. He stepped back to let more men holding guns make the staff walk from behind the counter, one hunched teller scurrying past a gruff looking man with a moustache who stood beside a small man who was chewing something brown and squelchy.
The boy bit into his lip as a dark man with a dimpled smile instantly commanded everyone’s attention simply by walking into the room. He was the only one not pointing a gun, but he transmitted an air of danger dressed in charm. The boy snuggled further into his mother’s legs. He didn’t like this. Not at all. It wasn’t like the games he played when he pointed wood whittled to look like a handgun at his brother and shouted ‘pchewou’ to let the victims know they’d been ‘gotten.’ His mummy was here and everyone knew that you didn’t point guns at mothers, preachers, or school teachers – well, maybe, it was okay to point them at teachers - as long as you didn’t get caught, but nobody should point one at his mother. He sniffed and wiped his nose on the skirt for courage. Heroes never had runny noses and he had to be prepared. It just wouldn’t do to be laughed at.
The blond gunman shared a look with the dimpled man, who nodded and headed off behind the counter. This was it – his chance to teach the gunman a lesson, but his stomach turned over, churning in fear and anticipation at the daring act he was about to undertake.
He swallowed down his fear and darted forward, ignoring his mother’s cry, and launched an attack on the lean, muscular leg, delivering a mighty kick before grabbing the thigh and sinking his teeth into it as hard as he could.
The blond gunman let out a cry and stepped back, shaking his leg furiously and pushing at the child’s shoulder with his left hand, trying to detach the champing limpet. “In the name of...! Kyle, Wheat! Don’t just stand there laughin’, get over here and get this brat off me.”
The small, masticating man scuttled forward and grabbed the struggling child around the waist. “Is this yours, Ma’am?” he chortled.
The ashen woman nodded furiously. “Don’t hurt him, please! He’s only five.”
“Hurt him?” the little outlaw snickered, “he’s the only one doin’ any hurtin’ around here. Done got Kid in the leg. Ain’t he trained yet?”
The boy found himself ushered back to his mother’s smothering arms, but took a heart stopping gulp as the blond gunman crouched down in front of him and fixed him with eyes of blue fire. “What’s your name?”
The only response was the silent blinking of the boy’s enormous blue globes set in a face speckled with freckles. The gunman narrowed his eyes. “You do know that was a very stupid thing to do, don’t you?” His face softened. “What’s your name?”
“James,” the child stuttered. “Jimmy,”
The man nodded, the smile twitching at his mouth moderating his stern tone. “Well, Jimmy. There are some very bad men around. You should never, EVER do than to a man who has a gun again. We don’t hurt people, so you’re okay this time, but next time you might not be so lucky.”
Jimmy’s chin set in challenge and stood defensively. “You pointed the gun at my ma,” he snapped back. “I won’t let you shoot her.”
Kid’s eyes widened. “I ain’t gonna shoot your ma,” he shook his head. “I ain’t gonna shoot anyone as long as they behave.”
Jimmy pursed his lips. “Why you got a gun then?”
“To make sure people do as they’re told.”
“Hah!” the child snorted, shaking his head. “See!? My ma never does as she’s told. My pa says that all the time. Leave her alone!”
There was a ripple of uncertain amusement in the bank before Kid stood and ruffled the boy’s red hair. “Son, just promise me that you’ll never attack another man who’s holdin’ a gun, and I’ll promise you I’ll keep your ma safe. Deal?”
Uncertainty rumbled in the freckled face, but Jimmy nodded firmly, staring straight into Kid’s clear blue eyes. “Deal.”
In a television studio -1974
“What age are you, Mr. Nicholas?”
“I’m 97,” croaked the elderly man glancing nervously around the television studio.
“So, you’ve met famous people? They are now dead, and we have established that they weren’t royalty, movie stars or entertainers? We’re stumped.”
Jimmy looked into the glare of the studio lights, his forehead beaded with sweat. This questioning was taking much longer than he thought. He was beginning to wish he’d never agreed to take part in this TV show. As though reading his mind, the presenter stepped in to bolster the flagging guest. “So, it looks as though the panel can’t guess your secret Mr. Nicholas. They’ve used their twenty questions. Would you care to enlighten us?”
He nodded. “I’m the last man alive to be in a bank which was held up by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”
Gasps echoed around the television set before the fashionable woman with her hair set as solidly as a helmet spoke up. “My goodness! Were they frightening? I bet they weren’t really as handsome as the actors who played them.”
The old man laughed lightly. “Handsome? I guess they were. I was five and bit Kid Curry in the leg for pointing a gun at my ma. He was real mad, but now I’m grown I know he tried to get me to be sensible and keep safe.”
“You bit him in the leg?” The audience rang with laughter. “No wonder he was angry.”
“Yeah, he sure was,” the old man frowned pensively, “but it bothered him... A little kid scared to death for his ma. I could see it in his eyes. I can see it now. That was the last bank job the Devil’s Hole Gang ever pulled. They robbed one train after that... Then they went for amnesty. I’ve always wondered if I had anythin’ to do with that. I knew Kid Curry didn’t like me looking at him as though he was some kind of bum.”
This story was inspired by a newstory announcing that the video of Samuel J Seymour appearing on 'I've got a secret' in 1956, had been uploaded on to youtube. At that time he was the last person alive who had seen President Lincoln be assassinated.