(My first attempt at a vs story)
THE MONEY’S ALL MINE
A lone figure slipped silently through the moonlight cast on the sleeping town. He fingered the tied down gun hanging off his hip. Stopping, he leaned against the wall of the livery. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Resting his head, he reached into his pocket and looked at the picture inside his pocketwatch. Returning the watch, he pulled out a folded piece of paper.
“Three thousand dollars for the Grimsley Gang. That ought to help matters at home.”
Then he stood, finishing his cigarette in the cool of the night, watching the streets of Leestown for any sign of the Grimsley Gang.
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry finished untacking their horses.
“You found a good place to bed down Kid. Those rocks should block us from anybody passing by. Want some coffee?" Heyes asked as he plopped down and leaned back against his saddle.
Curry collected the cup Heyes held out towards him. "Which way you want to go tomorrow when we reach that fork in the road?" Kid laid back himself, his hat drooping over his eyes.
"Kid, are you still mad at me over that nonsense?"
"It wasn't nonsense Heyes! You cheated me out of my last dollar!" Kid yelled raising back up.
"I did no such thing!"
"Yes you did! You suckered both that bartender AND ME into bettin’ with you!"
"I wasn't expecting YOU to bet! I mean, why would you!? You knew I was trying to get us some money!"
"Yeah, but you're supposed to do the egg trick! You ALWAYS do the egg trick! Why change a good thing!? You never said nothin' about a change! How the heck was I supposed to know you could get a broom to stand up on its own!?"
"Yeah and you were supposed to bet ME that HE was too chicken to make the bet! NOT bet me I couldn't do it!"
Curry blew out an exasperated sigh then slammed his brown hat back over his eyes.
"This is ridiculous Kid! Here! You can have your dollar back!"
The Kid raised his hat to glare at Heyes. A smile crept onto Heyes’ face that soon broke out into laughter.
"It ain't funny Heyes!" But the Kid soon found himself fighting back a smile. He gave Heyes a friendly nudge. "Alright, maybe it is funny...but I do want my dollar back."
They sat on their horses the next day at the intersection. "Well, which way?" Kid Curry enquired.
"Hmm...how about we flip a coin?" Heyes raised a brow at the Kid.
“Alright. Heads we go right.”
The coin flipped and landed heads up. Heyes turned his horse down the right fork. As the amber sun set behind the hills, they reached the outskirts of a town. The Kid, ever watchful, raised his hand to stop Heyes. He pointed towards down the street.
"Heyes, ain't that the Grimsley gang headed into the saloon?" Curry asked.
"Looks like them. Reckon they remember us? It’s been a few years."
"Don't know. Let's just try to stay out of sight of them. I'm lookin’ forward to a soft bed. Besides, they're wanted themselves. Doubtful they'll go strollin’ into the sheriff's office." The Kid urged his horse forward with Heyes beside him.
They cautiously rode into Leestown. Heyes dismounted and said, “I’ll go get us a hotel room if you’ll take care of the horses.”
Curry handed over his saddlebags then took the mare’s reins. “Sounds like a plan.”
Watching them from a seat by the window of the saloon, was Al Grimsley. “Well, I’ll be. If’n it ain’t Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Must be here ‘cause they heard the sheriff quit too.”
“Hey honey, want another drink?” a saloon girl asked. “Or you want something more?” She sat down on Grimsley’s lap as he smiled widely. He finished his drink, then went upstairs.
The Kid entered the hotel room to find Heyes laying on one of the beds. “Thought I’d get some food since we ain’t goin’ to the saloon with the Grimsleys over there.” He handed Heyes a sandwich.
“Just in time. I ordered up a nice, warm bath.”
“Good. I just wanna eat, take a hot bath, and go to bed. You still got that bottle of whiskey stashed in your saddlebag?”
“Yeah. It’s over there. I already got it out.” Heyes unwrapped his food. “I think I’m gonna read this book I found later tonight.”
Over in the saloon, Al Grimsley walked back downstairs and joined his brothers at a poker game. The lone bounty hunter watched them from under his hat at the bar.
“Alright boys,” the bartender started loudly, “time to close up shop.” A chorus of boos followed the announcement. As the last of the saloon patrons filed out drunkenly into the street, the Grimsley boys finished up their game. They were arguing amongst themselves as they left the establishment.
The bounty hunter followed them out into the night air, as they headed to the outskirts of town to their campsight. “I’ll wait ‘til first light, catch them by surprise as they sleep,” he mumbled to himself.
The next morning, Kid Curry glanced out the window at the rising sun. "Heyes." No movement from the bed next to him. "Heyes. Hey, wake up."
A moan emanated from underneath the quilt.
"I'm goin’ over for some breakfast. You wanna come?"
Kid heard another moan from the bed. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Alright, I’ll be back soon.” He buttoned up his shirt, put on his gunbelt and left the room. Heyes rolled over and prompty started to snore.
Outside of town, the bounty hunter had crept into the Grimsley's camp and gotten the drop on them. "Wake up boys and don't move." The three woke up to see a man standing before them holding a double barrel shotgun.
"What's this all about?" Al Grimsley growled.
"Name's Walter Foster. I'm a bounty hunter and I'm taking you in. Now you," he ordered pointing at Al, "tie up your buddies there good and tight. Nobody has to get hurt boys. Just do as you’re told."
"Why you wanna take us in? We ain't done nothin'."
"Well now, I happen to know you have. You're the Grimsley gang and your worth three thousand dollars. Now move it!"
The Kid returned to the hotel to find Heyes just getting out of bed. "I see you finally decided to get up today," he said dropping the key on the dresser. Heyes answered with a grunt. "Well, I got some good news. Over in the cafe, I got to talkin’ to one of the waitresses and she told me about a rancher not far from here who was needin’ someone to get rid of some coyotes on his property."
"How much does it pay?" Heyes asked, preparing to wash his face.
"Well, she didn't know. But she told me where the ranch was so I figured we could ride out there and check into it."
"I guess we could use the money. We only got about a dollar and a half left between us. But I didn't hardly sleep at all last night. Would you mind riding out there by yourself? I sure could use some rest today."
"Yeah, I guess so. You sure you don't want to come?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. I just want to get some breakfast and relax with my book for a little while."
"Alright then. I'll be back as soon as I can. And Heyes, stay out of trouble." Curry grinned at him as he left the room.
Al finished tying his companions up and turned to Walter. "Hey, how about we make a deal? I know where you can get alot more than three thousand dollars."
Walter tilted his head. “I’m not into law-breaking.”
"I ain't talking about breaking the law. I'm talking about legally gettin' TWENTY thousand dollars.”
Foster leaned forward. “Alright, I’m listening.”
"Back there in Leestown, there's two young fellas, one blond, one dark-headed. Well, I happen to know they're Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, each worth ten thousand dollars."
Walter Foster's eyes grew wide with anticipation. "You don't say. But how do I know you're tellin' the truth?"
"You'll just have to trust me. I give you my word that's who they are. We run into them once a few years ago. I seen ‘em ride into town last night."
Walter furrowed his brow. “Well, I sure could use that extra money…If you’re lying to me, I’ll hunt you down again. Mark my words. Now, describe them in detail to me.”
Heyes left the café and looked up and down the street. “Good, no Grimsley gang.” He walked over to the front porch of the hotel, leaned back in a chair, and opened his book.
Walter Foster’s eyes searched the town as he rode back in. As he neared the hotel, he smiled. “Looks like I have my man.” He casually rode up to the hotel and dismounted. He walked around the corner into the alleyway. After a moment, he came back around to the front.
"Say, would you mind helping me a minute?" he asked Heyes.
Heyes studied him a moment and seeing no tin star, nodded and followed Foster to the side of the hotel. He had just rounded the corner when he heard the click of a six-gun. He gave the man a smile. "Now, what's this all about?" he asked, a bead of sweat appearing on his forehead.
"Name's Walter Foster. I'm a bounty hunter. Does that answer your question?"
"Well, no, not exactly. You must have mistaken me for someone else."
"No, I don't think so Mr. Heyes. I got a real good description of you given to me."
"Sorry, but my name's Joshua Smith."
"I don't think it is. But no matter. If you're telling the truth, you won't mind me taking you in to check out your story." Heyes opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted. "You got a room at this hotel?" Heyes nodded. "Good. Now me and you are gonna walk in there and up to your room like old friends. Don't want your partner Curry getting the drop on me out here. You try to run or anything, and I'll shoot you. Now, hand over your gun...by the fingertips."
Heyes sighed and then complied with Foster's orders. He turned and started walking back to the front of the hotel with Foster close beside him, who was concealing the gun pointed at Heyes' side.
Once in the room, Foster tied Heyes to a chair. "Now that I got you all cozy, tell me where your partner is. I don't want no surprises."
Heyes shook his head. "I don't know."
Foster scowled at the answer. "TELL me where he is and you both might live."
"I said I didn't know."
Foster held up one bullet in front of Heyes. "You see this. This is meant for you if you don't cooperate with me." He emptied his gun, then loaded the lone bullet into his six-shooter and spun the chamber. He then aimed the gun at Heyes' head. "Now, tell me where your partner is."
Heyes stared down the barrel of the gun, then defiantly said "No."
Click. The trigger was pulled on one empty chamber.
"You got five or less chances to tell me what I want to know. WHERE IS HE?"
Heyes glared at him straight in the eyes. "Listen, I don’t have a partner. I travel alone.”
"You tell me NOW. The odds are not in your favor unless you TELL ME."
"I told you my name was Smith, Joshua Smith." Heyes had started to perspire. He knew there were only four chambers left, one of which contained the bullet.
"What makes you think my name is Heyes? I’m just an ordinary citizen named Smith."
"Al Grimsley described you in detail to me. Now, you got a fifty percent chance of dying in the next minute. You BETTER START TALKING."
Heyes hung his head. The man forced him to look up. "Do you NOT understand what is about to happen? I thought you were supposed to be smart. I WILL KILL YOU."
"You're probably going to anyway."
The enraged man stuck the gun's barrel directly to Heyes' forehead. "Look, I've given you a sporting chance of living here. All you have to do is give up the location of your gunslinging partner. You got one minute to spit it out."
Heyes hesitated. He saw Foster's finger tightened on the trigger. "ALRIGHT. My partner, Thaddeus Jones, left to take a job in Glendale, gonna be gone for a couple of weeks."
"Now, is that the truth or are you just lying to try and save his hide?"
"That's the truth. Check the room. You'll only find my saddlebags here."
Foster did just that. Finding only one pair of saddlebags, he sat back down in front of Heyes. "Well, looks like you might be telling the truth. So I tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna wait 'til dark, then we're gonna ride out and go to Glendale to find your partner. If you cooperate, you both might live to see prison."
"Well that's not much incentive..."
The Kid rode past the sign that said ‘Welcome to Leestown’ just as he noticed the first stars appearing in the sky. “Whew, ‘bout time. I’m gettin’ hungry.” As he rode into the outskirts, he saw two riders coming his way. He could barely make them out, but one of them looked like he had Heyes' hat on. The silver on the band glinted as they passed the last of the gas street lights. Curry frowned. “Now where’s Heyes goin’ and who’s that with him?”
It took just a few moments, then they passed by the Kid who’d hid behind a grove of trees. He could barely make it out in the dimming twilight, but it looked like Heyes' hands were tied to the saddlehorn. “No star…dang, a bounty hunter.” Curry frowned and sighed as he watched them ride off. He turned his horse to follow them at a safe distance.
"You want some water?" Foster asked Heyes after he'd set up camp for the night.
"Yeah, thanks," Heyes said. Foster had tied his hands behind his back and his ankles together, but hadn't gagged him, and he was giving him something to drink.
"Don't take that as me being soft Heyes. I'll still shoot you if you try to run. There's just no reason to be cruel though. I know I threatened your life earlier back in the hotel, but that had to be done. I needed to know where your partner was. It’s real important to me to collect this bounty."
"Yeah, most people find twenty thousand dollars real important..."
"Well, it’s not just important to me. It’s important for my family. If I don't get this money, they're gonna starve. So you see, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that don't happen, even if it means taking you in dead."
"Gonna starve? What happened? You lose your farm or something?" Heyes asked sincerely.
"No. But I lost my job to a two-timing mine owner. I couldn't find a job, so I started hunting for bounties. My wife didn't care for the idea, but that's what had to be done."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"The mine owner knew he was going under, but he kept telling us all that things were about to pick up. All we had to do was put up with not being paid for a couple of weeks. But that scheming rat just took our pay and left town. Everyone was left looking for work in a place where there weren't any. It's destined to be a ghost town now. All the food my family has left is what’s growing in the garden."
Heyes sat quietly for a moment, knitting his brow together. "Mr. Foster, If my partner and I could help you get back at this mine owner, would you let me go free and not turn us in."
Foster stared at him through the firelight. "How could you help me? The scum skipped town."
"Well, what if we could find him. Bring him to justice. Would that be worth our freedom to you?" Heyes looked at him hopefully.
"How could you bring him to justice? You're a wanted outlaw."
"If we were Heyes and Curry, which we’re not, we couldn't risk taking him in. BUT, when we found him, YOU could take him in. Then, not only would you get YOUR deserved pay, you get back everybody else's in the town too. You'd be a hero. And there might even be a reward out for him. We might even get him to sign the mine over to you. Now, doesn't that revenge sound a lot more satisfying than just turning us in?"
"I don't know. Twenty thousand is pretty satisfying."
"Well now, even if we were who you think we are, you don’t have both of us yet."
"And you're not going to," a voice called from the darkness. Foster jumped up from his place beside the fire and strained to see where the voice had come from. "Now, I got a Colt .45 pointed straight at your chest. I suggest you throw your gun down and untie my partner there."
Foster thought for just a second, then sighed and threw his gun off to the side. He then set to work untying Heyes. When he was finished, Heyes retrieved Foster's gun then took his own from Foster's saddlebag.
"Nice to see you Thaddeus!" Heyes said as he tied up Foster.
"Leave you alone for one afternoon and you manage to find a bounty hunter," the Kid said smirking.
Heyes turned to Foster. "Now Mr. Foster, what do we do with you?"
Foster gulped nervously. “I don’t suppose you’re still interested in helping me hunt down the mine owner are you?”
Heyes stared at Foster, thinking. "What would that be worth to you, besides NOT turning us in once we're done?"
"IF we get the money back, I'll give you...a hundred dollars a piece."
"How about TWO hundred a piece?"
Foster thought about it for a moment. "Alright, two hundred a piece."
"And you forget about taking us to the sheriff’s office."
"Right. I don't turn you in. I give you my word. I would shake with you but I'm a little tied up at the moment."
Heyes and the Kid exchanged a glance. Then Curry untied Foster. Foster then shook both their hands.
"Deal," Heyes said smiling.
As the sun rose, they saddled up and set out. Heyes looked over to Foster. “So, Mr. Foster, where you from? We should probably go there first.”
“Pine Valley. It’s about a day’s ride from here. What do I call you?" Foster asked. "I can't very well call you by your real names in the company of others."
"I told you, I’m Joshua Smith and my partner here is Thaddeus Jones," Heyes said, urging his horse to take the lead.
"Smith and Jones huh? Little bit unoriginal, don't you think?"
"Now, someone in your town had to see that mine owner leave. What was his name?" Heyes asked ignoring Foster’s remark.
"Simons. Henry Simons."
"If Mr. Simons left by train or coach, he had to buy a ticket. Even if he left by horseback, the stableman would've seen him get his horse."
"By the way," Curry started, "who's the sheriff in Pine Valley?"
"Steven Morgan. You know him?"
"No," the Kid said smiling, "no we don't."
"How much did Simons get away with?" Heyes asked.
"I'd say close to fifty thousand. He took off with two weeks’ worth of his employee's paychecks, and who knows what other money."
“No wonder you folks would like to get ahold of him.”
“Yeah. He left us all with nothing. There’s no work in Pine Valley. All there was, was the coal mines. That’s all any of us had ever done.”
“Well, I think first we should talk to the ticket men at the train and stagecoach stations. Then, if we don’t have any luck, we’ll check the livery stable. We’ll just check all over town until we find something.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. Everyone in town knew Simons so they’ll know if they saw him.”
They rode side by side into Pine Valley. The street gave the impression of a ghost town in the making with a couple of boarded up doorways and dusty windows.
“Kid, you take the horses over to the livery and talk to the owner there. Mr. Foster and I will check at the railroad station and then meet you at the stagecoach depot.”
“Alright. See you in a few minutes.”
They dismounted and Curry started towards the livery stable leading the horses. Heyes and Foster arrived at the railroad station a couple minutes later. They walked in where the stationmaster was almost asleep behind the counter.
“Excuse me sir,” Heyes said louder than necessary.
“HUH…what? You darn near scared me to death!” The disheveled man sat upright and straightened his hat. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“Well, we’re trying to locate one of the town’s citizens, a Henry Simons. Have you seen him lately, maybe buying a train ticket?”
“I ain’t seen that lowdown scoundrel. Horrible what he did to those miners after all the work they done for him. Why, I wouldn’t have sold him a ticket to help him get out of town.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
“Well, I guess it was about two weeks ago. He was in the saloon looking real smug and a little nervous, like he was about to commit a crime or something. Guess he was planning to split town then.”
“Alright, thank you sir.”
Heyes and Foster walked out of the train station and headed towards the stage depot. A few people were inside waiting to depart. Heyes walked up to the counter.
“Excuse me, but we’re trying to locate Henry Simons. Have you seen him?”
“No sir I ain’t seen him for a few weeks.”
“You sure? He didn’t maybe come in here and get on a stage?” Foster asked.
“No sir, I’d remember if I’d sold that lowdown dog a stage ticket. Never did care for the man, especially after what he done. Turning Pine Valley into a ghost town. More people leaving everyday.”
“Well, thanks anyway.”
They turned and walked outside. The Kid was waiting for them on the boardwalk.
“Well, the guy in the train station didn’t know anything more than we do, except that Simons was apparently in the saloon shortly before he left. And he hasn’t bought a stage ticket.”
“I found out something interesting at the livery,” Kid informed them. “Seems that Simons broke into the stable sometime at night and took his horse. Sounds like that’s how he left town.”
“Yeah. Now what’ll we do?” Foster asked.
“Well,” Heyes started, “I’m gonna go get a drink, maybe talk to some of the folks in the saloon. Maybe somebody will know something.”
The three of them strolled into the saloon and up to the bar. Only a few people were in the establishment at this time of day.
“What can I get you?” the bartender asked while cleaning a glass.
“Whiskey,” Curry ordered.
The drinks arrived shortly. Heyes picked his up and started nursing it.
“Alright. We know Simons left on horseback and the last time he was seen was three days ago.”
“Nope,” one of the patrons nearby at the bar interjected. “I done seen Henry Simons. I was leaving the saloon kinda late and saw him riding out of town on that horse of his.”
“Did you happen to see which way he went?”
“Yeah. Looked like he was headed south.”
“Foster, what’s south of here?”
“Uh, Pigeon Rock. It’s about a half day’s ride. Big town. Lots of gambling, women. It’s a big place with all the cowboys in these parts. A fellow could spend a fortune there.”
“Well, looks like we’re going to Pigeon Rock.”
The trio rode into the town of Pigeon Rock later that evening. It was an elaborate town, with numerous saloons and cat houses. They walked their horses down a bustling main street.
“A man could spend days here and not get bored,” the Kid observed.
“If he spent any time here, he would’ve checked into the hotel,” Heyes theorized. “I say we check there first.”
They pulled up in front of the town’s only hotel, which was bigger than most they had seen, dismounted, and walked in. Heyes walked up to the counter ahead of Foster and Curry.
“Excuse me sir. I’m trying to find my brother and someone said I might find him here. His name’s Henry Simons.”
“Sorry. We don’t give out information on our guests.”
“Well now, are you sure about that?” Heyes asked, holding up five dollars.
“Well…if he WAS here, it would’ve been about two days ago.”
“When he left, did he say where he was headed?”
“Nope. Just checked out and rode off. I thought I saw him head south.”
Heyes walked back to where Foster and Curry were waiting.
“Clerk there says he was here two days ago and headed south when he left. I bet he’s headed for Mexico.”
“If he gets to Mexico, there ain’t anything anybody will be able to do to him, except kill him.”
“Didn’t anybody back in Pine Valley think to look here when Simons took off?” the Kid asked.
“Yeah. The sheriff rode down here with a small posse looking for him, but they didn’t find him. He must’ve been hid real good or paid those people to look the other way if someone came looking for him.”
“Can’t worry about that now,” Heyes said. “If he IS headed to Mexico, we’ve got to get ahead of him. How far is the next town?”
“A day and a half, two day’s ride.”
“Well, if he left two days ago, that should be where he’s at. We need to ride hard and try to gain some ground on him.”
“Wait a minute,” Foster said. “Come to think of it, I know a shortcut we could use. Its kind of a rougher trail, but it’ll cut the trip down to about a day.”
“Good. Let’s hope Simons didn’t take it. Let’s go.”
They left the hotel and mounted their horses. Then turning them towards the southern horizon, galloped off.
“Hand me a coffee cup Kid.”
Foster watched the two ex-outlaws. “Boys, I tell you. I ain’t never seen anybody set up camp so fast.”
The campsite was small, but adequate. The coffee pot was brewing over the fire. Curry handed Heyes and Foster a cup.
“Well, in what used to be our line of work, you had to be quick in everything you did,” Heyes smiled.
“Used to be?”
“Yeah, well, we’ve kinda given up the business, so to speak,” Curry answered.
“Why’s that? I mean, why give up now? You’re already wanted.”
“Let’s just say business wasn’t as easy as it used to be and leave it at that,” Heyes said taking a drink of coffee.
“Alright, I get it. You don’t want to talk about it. So, what’ll we do when we find Simons?”
“We ‘encourage’ him to come back to Pine Valley with us.”
“Yeah. My partner can be very persuasive when he wants to be,” the Kid replied.
“I’d say you can be equally as persuasive, what with your reputation with a gun and all.”
“When I need to be.”
“As stimulating as this conversation is, I think we ought to get some sleep. We’ve got to get an early start in the morning,” Heyes said emptying his cup. He stood up and reached for his bedroll.
The other two followed suit and in a few minutes, they all were bedded down by the fire.
Early the next morning, the sun was just peaking over the horizon when the three saddled up.
“You know, you boys are nothing like I expected you to be.”
“Really?” Heyes grinned.
“I mean it. I expected some big, grissly-looking, mean desperados. But you two can be downright civilized.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Kid said looking over.
“Alright. Enough of the pleasantries. We’ve got to get going,” Heyes said, spurring his horse into a gallop, headed towards the mountains looming to the south.
A couple hours later, Heyes pulled up his sweating horse. “You weren’t kidding when you said this trail is rougher.”
“It gets a little worse. Up ahead we start over those rough limestone peaks.”
The trio rode slowed their horses down as they reached the summit.
“These are the Guadalupe Mountains. Mostly limestone. We’re crossing over Guadalupe Pass now. When we get a little lower in elevation, the going will get easier. We should be in White’s City by sundown,” Foster explained. “Past White’s City are the Delaware Mountains. That should slow him down if he’s already left town.”
“Good,” Heyes said. His horse carefully picked it’s way over the limestone rocks jutting up everywhere. It tripped a couple of times, but was able to right itself before Heyes fell off.
Curry observed all the outcroppings and overhangs along the trail.
“Lots of good places to hole up on this trail.”
“Yeah. We’ll have to remember this place if we ever find ourselves in a hard spot in these parts,” Heyes answered.
Foster rode along quietly, just watching the two ex-outlaws.
They started the descent off the mountainside. It was slow going with all the loose rocks on the trail and the steep incline. It wasn’t a very heavily traveled route. Eventually, they reached an easier part of the trail that was more dirt than rock. They urged their horses back into a gallop.
“Gentlemen, welcome to White’s City,” Foster announced as they crossed into the town’s limits. “Its not all that big, but it’s a good stopover before crossing the Delaware Mountains and heading into Mexico.”
“Well, hopefully, Mr. Simons has done just that; stopped to rest his horse before crossing over,” Heyes said.
They rode straight up to the hotel and dismounted. The hotel had seen better days.
“I’ll be right back.” Heyes entered the lobby and crossed over to the desk. The clerk was busy putting something in the hotel safe. Looking up, he saw Heyes, locked the safe, and stood up.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes. I’m looking for my brother, Henry Simons and someone told me I might find him here.”
“Let me check the register.”
The clerk opened the register book and scanned down through the names within.
“Ah yes. Here he is. Checked in last night.”
“Would you happen to know if he’s in at the moment?”
“No sir. But I did see him go into the saloon about an hour ago.”
Heyes exited the hotel and walked up to his companions.
“He’s here. The clerk said he saw him go into the saloon about an hour ago. Kid, take the horses to the livery. Me and Foster will go check into the hotel.”
Heyes removed his saddlebags, then handed the Kid the reins to the other two horses who then headed off towards the livery stable. Heyes and Foster reentered the hotel.
“I’d like a room,” Heyes informed the clerk. “With two beds, facing the street. My associate Mr. Foster here also needs a room.”
“Yessir, that’ll be two dollars a piece,” the clerk said. “Just sign the registry there.”
Heyes signed ‘Joshua Smith’ in the book, then handed the pen to Foster.
“Here are your keys gentlemen.”
Heyes picked up his saddlebags and started up the stairs. Foster followed. After having settled into the rooms, they came back down the stairs, where they saw the Kid sitting in the lobby.
“Got the horses taken care of. You want to head over to the saloon now?”
“Yeah. Mr. Foster, what does Simons look like?”
“Well, he’s got black hair, green eyes, I think, he’s a tad bit shorter than you, kind of portly, wears glasses.”
“Alright. You might want to stay here. If Simons sees you and recognizes you, he might take off.”
“Right. I’ll be waiting in my room.” Foster ascended the stairs.
Heyes and Curry left the hotel and crossed the street to the saloon. They sauntered in and up to the bar.
“Whatdaya have?” the gruff bartender asked.
“Beer please,” Kid ordered.
Heyes turned and scoped out the saloon patrons. He spotted a poker game in progress. And there, in one of the seats, was a portly, black haired man with glasses.
“Hey Thaddeus. Check out the poker table.”
Kid turned around and looked where Heyes’ gaze was directed.
“Looks like him alright. You wanna get in the game?”
“Yeah, I think so. Give us a chance to get know him a little. I think he’ll like us just fine when we let him win a little off of us.”
“Well, just don’t let him win too much. We don’t have that much to begin with.”
“You worry too much Thaddeus,” Heyes said as he started making his way towards the game. He stood there and watched for a hand or two.
“You gentlemen got room for a couple more?”
“Sure. Sit right down here,” one of the players said.
Heyes and Curry sat down opposite each other, one on either side of Simons.
“Joshua Smith,” Heyes introduced himself.
“Well, I’m Mitchell, this here’s Fred, Charlie, and this guy here is Simons.”
“Pleased to meet you all,” Heyes smiled. “What’s the game?”
“Five card draw.”
Everyone anted up, then Fred shuffled the deck and dealt the cards.
“Pass me,” Charlie said.
“I’ll start with ten.”
“See your ten and raise you five,” Simons said.
Heyes glanced up at Curry then back to his cards.
“Call. I’ll take two.”
All the players received their new cards, each in turn.
“Fold,” Curry said.
“See you and raise you ten.”
Eventually, the hand came down between Heyes and Simons.
“I’ll raise you twenty more,” Simons said.
“Call,” replied Heyes. He looked at his cards and laid them down. Two sixes, an ace, a king, and two fives.
“Gotcha beat,” Simons beamed as he laid down three fours.
The game continued and just like the first hand, it came down between Heyes and Simons.
“All in,” Heyes said. “What do you have?”
“Full house,” Simons said laying his cards down.
Heyes threw in his cards. “You got me.” Even though he had lost on purpose, Heyes still had a satisfied look on his face. “You’re a heck of a card player Mr. Simons. Can I buy you a drink?”
Simons smiled at him. “Why thank you Mr. Smith. I gladly accept.”
They walked over to the bar. The Kid followed.
“So, what do you do here in town Mr. Simons?” Heyes asked.
“Oh, I ain’t from here. I’m just passing through.”
“Is that right? Where you headed, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Mexico huh. Business or pleasure?” Curry enquired.
“Pleasure. Definitely pleasure,” Simons smiled smugly.
Heyes glanced at his partner.
“I take it you two are from out of town yourselves, seeing as you had to introduce yourselves at the table.”
“That’s right. Just got in today.”
“Looking for work, if you know of any,” Heyes added.
“Can’t say I do. Just been here since last night myself. Well Mr. Smith, it’s been nice, but I’m tired and I need to go rest. Got a long trip tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sure,” Heyes said. “Have a nice evening.”
Heyes and Curry watched as Simons exited the saloon and crossed the street to the hotel. Heyes nodded his head and the Kid followed him at a distance. He stood outside the hotel door to hear what room key Simons asked for. After hearing it was room eight, he returned to the saloon. They finished their beers then returned to the hotel, stopping at Foster’s room. Curry knocked on the door.
“Who’s there?” Foster called from inside.
“Its us. Open up.”
The door opened and they entered the room. Heyes sat down in the chair by the window.
“Well, did you find him?”
“Yeah, we found him. He’s in his room right now. Room number eight,” Kid said.
“Shall we go pay him a visit?” Heyes smiled.
The Kid nodded his head and they left Foster’s room and walked down the corridor to room number eight. Heyes rapped on the door.
After a moment, Simons opened the door.
“Oh, Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones. Can I help you with something?”
“We need to talk. Can we come in?” Heyes asked.
“Uh…well, sure. Come on in.” Simons opened the door the rest of the way and let the two in.
“Now, what is it we need to talk about?”
Curry pulled his gun.
“Sit down Mr. Simons,” Heyes ordered in an even tone.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Simons demanded sitting down.
“Well, its like this,” Heyes started. “We know who you are and we know what you’ve done.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Now Mr. Simons, don’t play dumb. You know very well what you’ve done. You robbed a whole mine full of workers of two weeks pay and closed the mine when you took off.”
“I’ve done no such thing! This is preposterous!”
Curry cocked his six-gun. “Now Mr. Simons. You know the truth shall set you free.”
Heyes smiled. “Except in this case in which the truth will keep you alive.”
Simons looked from Heyes to Curry. They both looked hard at him. He finally buckled under the intimidating gazes.
“ALRIGHT! I did it. I took off with all the payroll and boarded up the mine before I left. What are you gonna do about it? You the law or something?”
“No Mr. Simons, we ain’t the law. But just down the hall is one of the men you left in dire straits and he’s paying us good money to take you to the law back in Pine Valley. Now, where’s the money?”
Simons hesitated. The Kid took a step closer. Simons sighed and said, “In my saddlebags. Its all there, except for a few hundred I spent in Pigeon Rock. Say, how about we make a deal. I’ll give you…half the money if you let me go. What do you say?”
“Its tempting Mr. Simons, it really is, but, no. We won’t do that. Like I said, we’re getting paid good money to see you brought to justice and that’s what we plan to do. Now, stand up and turn around,” Heyes ordered.
He did as he was told and Heyes proceeded to tie his hands behind his back.
“Now, as soon as night falls, we’re heading out of here. You behave and you’ll be alright. You don’t and, well, I can’t be responsible for my partner’s actions here.” Heyes turned him back around and sat him down.
“Thaddeus, keep our guest company here while I go get Mr. Foster.”
The Kid’s blue eyes drilled into Simons as Heyes left the room. He walked to Foster’s door and knocked.
“Mr. Foster. We have someone you might want to talk to.”
Foster emerged from his room and followed Heyes down the hallway to room eight. He walked in and saw Simons being held at gunpoint. Walking up to him, he looked down scowling.
“How could you do what you did!?” Foster yelled. “My family is gonna be on the verge of starving, along with a bunch more people.” Foster reached down and removed Simon’s glasses. He then belted him across the face with a right hook.
“Now now Mr. Foster. We need to get him back to Pine Valley in one piece, unless he misbehaves,” Heyes smiled down at him. Foster backed off.
“You’re right. I want him to stand trial for what he’s done. When are we leaving?”
The sun was setting slowly in the west, lighting up the sky with pinks and purples. Heyes went down to the hotel desk and signed all of them out, including Simons. They then left by the back door. Curry went and retrieved their horses from the livery and met them in a back alley.
“Alright Mr. Simons, up you go,” Heyes said.
They helped him on his horse, then continued to tie him on, his hands to the saddlehorn, his legs to the stirrups. They all then mounted and headed north back towards the Guadalupe Mountains.
“Come on fellas,” Simons whined. “You can make a deal with me. Nobody will ever know you did. We’ll split the money and go our separate ways.”
“I told you before, no,” Heyes answered. “Now, you keep pestering and we’ll have to gag you.”
Simons shut up for a while. But the silence didn’t last long.
“Can’t we stop for a little bit? I’m mighty uncomfortable trussed up like this on this horse.”
“Joshua, you sure I can’t shoot him,” the Kid asked.
“Yes I’m sure. Although I’m starting to have second thoughts about the matter.” Heyes turned and glared at Simons. Foster watched amused. Simons went quiet.
They started up the steep incline of the Guadalupe Mountains to cross back over the pass. When they reached the summit, Heyes pulled up.
“I think we can camp here for the night. Looks like the most level piece of land on the mountain. Mr. Simons, you can just sit there on your horse until we get camp set up.”
This comment was met with a disgruntled moan. After a few minutes, the fire was lit and Curry went about the task of getting Simons off his horse. He fell as he dismounted, but the Kid jerked him up. He then led him over next to the fire and tied his ankles together and his hands once more behind his back.
“Now you behave and stay put.”
“Where am I gonna go like this?! Can I have some water?”
Curry went and retrieved the canteen and held it up to Simon’s lips. He took a long drink and leaned back to get as comfortable as he could get in his current predicament. The Kid walked over to Heyes.
“That’s about the whiniest human being I’ve ever come across. I’d about shoot him just to shut him up.”
“Now Thaddeus. It’ll only be for another day or so. If we ride hard tomorrow, we can be in Pine Valley by nightfall.”
Heyes brought out some jerky and hardtack and after a small dinner, they all bedded down for the night.
The morning sun peaked out and warmed the small meadow the party had camped on. Heyes was the first up and went about making coffee. He looked over as he heard a rustling noise across from him.
“And how’s our guest this morning?”
“That’s the most uncomfortable night I ever spent. I hope you’re all happy,” Simons complained.
“Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good,” Heyes grinned looking away. Another disgruntled sigh escaped the fallen mine owner. Heyes walked over and nudged first Curry then Foster to wake them.
“Time to get going.”
Curry groaned then got up as did Foster. They packed up the camp and set out on their way down the mountains.
Finally, after a long ride, they saw the outskirts of Pine Valley.
“What’s wrong Mr. Simons? You look pretty nervous,” Heyes said casually.
“He should be,” Foster said with venom. “He’s the cause of all the town’s problems.”
“You can’t take me back into town. They’ll kill me!” Simons cried.
“Nobody’s gonna kill you, you weasel,” Foster replied with a scowl on his face. “We just want the money that’s owed to us and to see you brought to justice.”
“Well, I have the money right here like I said. You can have it. Just let me go.”
Foster released an exasperated sigh. They rode down the start of main street. A few people noticed the man tied to the saddle. One of them started yelling.
“Hey look! They got Simons! They brought Simons back!”
This was followed by a chorus of ‘yays’ and numerous comments.
“Where’s our money?"
“String him up!”
“Where you been you lowlife skunk?”
In his office, Sheriff Morgan looked up from his desk.
“What the heck’s goin’ on out there?” He stood up and went to the door. Opening it, he saw four riders headed his way with some of the townspeople following behind.
The foursome pulled up in front of Morgan.
“What’s this now? Where did you all happen to find him at?”
“Well, Sheriff,” Heyes started. “We found him down south in White’s City.”
“And you are…?”
“Joshua Smith sir. This here’s Thaddeus Jones. And I believe you know Mr. Foster. He’s the one that headed this search. We were just along to help.”
“White’s City huh? Where were you goin’ Simons? Mexico perhaps? Bring him on in here boys before this crowd decides to take justice into their own hands.”
Heyes, Curry, and Foster dismounted, then helped their prisoner off his horse. Foster pushed him inside none too lightly.
“You go on and get in that cell there,” Sheriff Morgan said. “Lot of folk been anxious to see you again.”
“You ain’t gonna let ‘em at me are you?” Simons whined.”No. But you are gonna stand trial for theft. And if I have my way, you’ll be going away for a long time for what you done.”
Morgan went back outside to disperse the crowd. Simons just groaned and flopped down on the bunk.
“My life is over.”
“Yeah, pretty much,” Heyes said. “But you could maybe get a lighter sentence.”
“What are you doing? Lighter sentence? Don’t be helping him none. Remember, I still know who you boys are,” Foster threatened.
“Now Mr. Foster, no need for threats,” Curry said.
“That’s right Mr. Foster. Besides, the deal Mr. Simons could make with the judge could be in your best interest.”
“And just how could that be?”
“Well? What is it?” Simons asked impatiently.
“You tell the sheriff and the judge that you’ll hand over the deed to the mines and the money you owe over to Foster here in exchange for a lighter sentence. Who knows, he might take you up on it. Couldn’t hurt now could it?”
“Alright, sure, whatever will help me get out faster!”
Foster looked at Heyes wide-eyed. “Me? Own the mine? I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say yes,” Heyes smiled. At that moment, Sheriff Morgan walked back in. Simons immediately started his dealing.
“Sheriff! I want to make a deal! I’ll sign over the mines to Foster here if the judge will give me a shorter sentence! And the stolen money is in my saddlebags on my horse out there!”
“Is that right?” Morgan said. “Well, I figure the judge might be willing to oblige that offer. I’ll bring it up when I go talk to him.”
Morgan then turned to the trio in the front office. “I reckon you boys will be seen as heroes around here.”
“Sheriff, there’s something I want to tell you about these two here,” Foster said.
Heyes and Curry looked at each other worriedly.
“These two boys here are the heroes. They tracked Simons down. I was just along for the ride and to give them help if they needed it. I think they deserve a reward.”
The sheriff regarded the two ex-outlaws. “Well, I suppose you’re right. I’ll go talk to the judge about it right now. Foster, I want you to help me distribute the money back to the proper people.” Morgan then left the office to go talk to the judge.
Outside, Foster removed the missing money from Simons saddlebags. He reached in and got out what was owed to him. He quickly counted out four hundred dollars.
“Here you go boys. And you earned every penny of it. You brought hope back to this town,” Foster said. “I’m mighty thankful to you.”
Heyes took the money, folded it, and put it in his inside jacket pocket.
“I don’t suppose you’d want to stay a while would you?”
“No Mr. Foster. We have to be movin’ on,” Curry said. “But thanks for the offer.”
“Well, you boys be careful out there. And again, me and the townsfolk will always be thankful to you. Come visit anytime.”
Two ex-outlaws rode off from Pine Valley, one with a wad of money in his pocket.
“Heyes, something’s been botherin’ me.”
“And what might that be Kid?”
“You have to tell me. HOW did you get a broom to stand on its end?”
“Well, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret. Just don’t bet against me next time.”
“Well next time you go to changin’ your money-makin’ tactics, let me know so I won’t.”
“Aw Kid. You just gotta have faith in me. Foster the bounty hunter did.”
“Yeah, well, let’s make sure our next job doesn’t include a bounty hunter. They may not be as ‘forgetful’ as this one was.”
They spurred their horses into a gallop and headed west into the setting sun, looking for their next job.
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