As the Colorado winter came on, more and more snow accumulated in the mountains around Louisville, Colorado. One afternoon, Jed Curry was patrolling the front room at Christy’s Place, with a gun on his hip. Nobody was causing any trouble – the local and traveling cowboys and miners were talking and laughing but not fighting as they played poker, black jack, and dominoes, and downed their beers. The sheriff ambled in and leaned on the bar. Curry hardly felt his heart race at all the way he had used to when he first saw Sheriff Wilde. The sheriff threw a jaunty salute and a smile across the room to Curry, but the two men didn’t speak. They never did say a word to each other or even get within a yard of each other, although they saw each other almost every day.
The Kid vanished into the back room before the sheriff could get too tempted to get closer. “How’s it going, Jed?” asked Cat as she stirred the beef stew she would be serving for lunch in the hotel.
“Pretty full but no trouble, love,” said Curry. “Wilde is keeping an eye on things.”
“Oh. While you’re here, how’s the whiskey store doing?” asked Cat as Curry walked over and put his arm around her waist.
The Kid nibbled on Cat’s ear until she wiggled away from him to keep cooking. He complained, “You sure are all business!” Cat leaned back into her lover’s arms. Now it was Curry who stayed with business. “What say we get in some Old Crow? Folks need a change from Kessler’s, I think. More expensive, but nice to have some variety.”
“Alright, Jed,” said Cat. “You know our bottom line –if you think we can afford it, I’m sure we can.”
“Thanks, boss!” joked the Kid.
“Oh, come on, you’re co-manager these days. I don’t know what I did without you, honey.” Cat smiled at Curry, who kissed her neck, since it was all he could easily reach while her front was to the cherry-red stove that heated the stew and kept off the winter cold.
Curry couldn’t keep a note of unease out of his voice. “I hope you don’t have to find out any time soon. I’m sick of having to vanish out of any place nice where Heyes and me try to stay.”
“Have you told that sheriff friend of yours about poor Heyes?”
The Kid nodded. “Yeah, I sent him a couple telegrams. About that awful bullet, and where I am, and Heyes’ goin’ to New York. New York! That’s about as strange a thing as I ever could imagine, one of us in that city for more than a visit.”
“You were careful, weren’t you, honey? Anybody could see that message on its way up to Montana, or the telegrapher could talk to anybody,” said Cat anxiously.
“Wyoming, and yeah, I was careful. After all the times we’ve bribed telegraphers ourselves, we know how to code up messages so we don’t give ourselves away. Lom wished us well and said no amnesty – in our code. I sent a note to Heyes, coded up too. Got to make sure he knows we’re thinkin’ of him. I’m just watchin’ for word back from the doctor. Heyes is the best partner any man ever could have.”
“Would you ever talk that sweet about him when he could hear you?” Cat grinned naughtily at her man.
“Course not!” said Curry. Then he gave Cat a peck on the cheek and went back out to watch the front room.
When the weather permitted, the Kid went out by himself riding and hunting in the mountains, kind of enjoying the silence in the early days. Sometimes he rode his horse, Blackie, and sometimes Heyes' horse, Clay. But eventually, not having his partner at his side started to eat at him. He wondered more and more about when Heyes would be back and what he would be like when he did come. Curry, as he rode one day in the snowy mountains, peering between the pine boughs to take a shot an elk, thought about the days when such meat would have been shared with Heyes on the trail. Curry had a feeling that things between them would never really be the same again. In some ways, that would be a good thing – riding for their lives did get pretty old after a few years. But in other ways, the Kid really missed bantering with Heyes as they rode through some of the most beautiful country on earth.
About ten days after Heyes had left a letter arrived addressed to Mr. Thaddeus Jones and Miss Catherine Christy. It was written in Dr. Leutze's elegant hand. The Kid opened the sheet and read it aloud to Cat:
"Dear Mr. Thaddeus Jones and Miss Catherine Christy:
Joshua Smith and I arrived safely in New York as planned. He is working very hard. ["Heyes working hard at something other than poker or safe cracking? They are doing miracles!" muttered the Kid.] However, I can't hide from you that he isn't making any progress yet. Joshua is having a hard time sleeping and it affects his work badly. He is frustrated and he misses his home out west. When he isn't with me he is in Central Park sitting on a rock on the west side looking toward the setting sun. [The Kid cleared his throat.] Something is worrying him and even causing him to be fearful, but I cannot determine what it might be. The lack of speech can be a very isolating thing and it is affecting him very much. If you can give me any advice about how to set Joshua's mind at ease, I would value that very much. ["Get a posse to chase him!" suggested the Kid only half joking, "That ought to concentrate his mind!"]
Joshua is staying at a rooming house on the lower east side of Manhattan. He shares a room with one of our employees, who is also a long-time patient, Mr. James Smith. Jim is a young native of a very rough area of this city. His aphasia was due to a bad beating, but after a few years of work at the clinic his speech is almost normal except for a severe stutter. ["Years?" asked Curry, appalled, "it takes years? To be almost normal? And he still stutters? What is Heyes in for?"] Jim knows this great city very well and is glad to show your friend around. People have taken to jokingly calling them the Smith brothers – have you seen the cough drops of that brand with the proprietors' bearded faces on the box? Neither of our young Messes Smith has grown a beard, however. ["Has a new partner, has he?" thought the Kid. Cat, reading his mind, gave the Kid a soft kiss. The Kid thought of the rock in Central Park. No, Heyes wouldn't forget him any time soon.]
You may write to Joshua at the following address:
#2a, 88 Hester Street, New York City, New York
I know that he would be glad to hear from you. I hope that a letter from you will help him to do better.
Dr. Samuel Leutze"
The Kid and Cat looked at each other with worried faces. "That just ain't like Heyes at all," murmured the Kid to his lover. "He sleeps like a baby, pretty much no matter what. Unless he's planning something – then he can sit up all night. But other than that, he sleeps fine even out in the desert or on rocks in the mountains. Or, well, he did before he got shot. It's true, after that I did hear him getting restless and even yelling at night. That damn bullet!" Cat snuggled up next to her man and tried to get him calmed down, but he stayed restless and worried.
Would Heyes never get better? Was the silver tongued outlaw gone for good? The Kid and Cat sent a letter to Heyes and took to doing so every week, regular as clockwork. They tried to be as encouraging as they could and not to let on about their fears for Heyes. No posse or bounty hunter had turned up in Louisville, which they had to communicate to Heyes indirectly by simply saying that all was well and the saloon and hotel were thriving. They could not be absolutely sure that any letter might not be opened and read by someone else, who could put the fugitive pair in jeopardy.
To Dr. Leutze, Cat and the Kid were at a loss of what they could say. The only thing that would ever put Heyes' mind at ease was amnesty – that and the ability to speak again. His own guilt had kept him from speaking the truth to nearly everyone he met, and now he couldn't speak at all. If only Heyes could free himself from his very justified fears, perhaps he could speak again. But until he was granted amnesty, he could not speak truly freely and he knew it.
Cat and the Kid only advised the doctor to make sure that Joshua Smith was granted as much privacy and independence as possible and the ability to get out of doors – all of those being thing that would be hard to manage in the cold, crowded New York winter.