A Fool And His Money
Posts : 8715
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: A Fool And His Money Sun Jun 01, 2014 5:32 am|| |
Are you as excited by this prompt as I am? The comic possibilities are endless but I'm sure you're going to give us every possible spin on the prompt chosen by RosieAnnie to get those creative juices flowing. Are you ready to jump in and give us your take on:
A Fool And His Money
Posts : 2704
Join date : 2013-10-14
Location : The Rusty Bucket Saloon
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:09 am|| |
“Howdy fellas, nice day for it.” The hairy wart cheerily bobbed up and down as the older man chatted away. “This was a last minute, small job. My boys are out with the wagons and won’t be back for nearly two weeks.” The mouth above the wart grinned a gummy smile and continued, “and I learned long ago never to turn down work.”
“We know what you mean,” nodded the Kid. “That’s why we’re here.”
“Looks like someone’s moving house.” Curry smiled his disarming smile in return, running his eyes across the weapon. The rifle was strapped to one of the beasts. Like its owner, it was of an older vintage.
“Yep and we’re the delivery boys.” With a sweeping gesture, he pointed at the well laden horse, and the young gangly sorrel . “This lot is for some banker on ‘Nobs hill’.”
The Kid watched as the powerfully built man rearranged the loads, so that the beasts burdens were secure and fair. However, he did spot the young one struggled to find a comfortable position with the oblong parcel. It was well tied, not too heavy, but no matter how he moved one of the corners seem to dig into his flank.
Heyes, naturally cautious around strangers, assessed the scene. He took in the apparently gentle older man, smiling a welcome. Two horses, well groomed but well laden, some of the objects of strange size and shapes.
The gummy grin flashed as the old man chatted away. “My sons run the business now; I’m taking things easier now.”
“You don’t look like your taking things easier to me Abner.” Heyes smiled and Abner laughed a good natured deep chuckle as the men moved off at a gentle, steady pace.
They chatted companionably as night fell. Settled comfortably in front of a fire under an endless, starry sky. The horses secured; peaceful, well-fed and well-tended , Abner had taken a lot of time with them. Talking to them quietly, patting and thanking them. Taking a long time settling the young colt and its sturdy mother.
The cousins watched him fish some apples from one of his packs as a reward and the young colt nudged his pocket for more, and the older man surrendered with a laugh and a gentle hug. Heyes and Curry liked this mild mountain of a man. Abner was the perfect travelling companion for the cousins, an affable, well humoured man. Full of stories, he loved to talk, and enjoyed an audience, without asking too many questions. He doted on his family, two sons who now ran the haulage firm he had started many years ago, two daughters and the saintly Opal, his wife of nearly forty years.
“Five grandkids, another on the way.” He stared happily into the middle distance, his grey eyes had a milky tint to them.
Abner stretched and stood up, moving out of the firelight. “You boy’s wanna see something interesting? They say it’s the latest thing.”
The older man reached for the thin, oblong parcel that had caused the young pony discomfort. He took out a small knife and slit the string, carefully peeling back the wrapping.
“Now, we gotta be careful fellas. The guy who’s bought this has had it shipped all the way from Paris, France.” Abners voice lowered, impressed.
As he entered the circle of light, he placed it cautiously against a log and stepped back to join the cousins. The three men gazed at the painting.
It seemed to move, shimmering in the firelight. The blues and greens merged and mingled, images emerged.
“Is that a pond?” Heyes seemed transfixed, his dark eyes focussing intensely. He moved forward.
“Don’t get to too near. Close up you just see a lot of blotches, but stand back and it’s quite something ain’t it?”
Heyes, looked back over his shoulder at Abner and Curry, eyes wide, surprised, but enjoying the phenomena. “Hey, you’re right, close too it’s just a mess.” He turned his face back to within six inches of the painting. “Howd he do that?”
Abner shrugged. “Dunno, but they call it ‘hav-ont gart’. I kinda like it, but I know my Opal wouldn’t give it house room.“
“I don’t get it,” Curry mumbled, losing interest. He sat back down and watched his cousin walk back and forward towards the painting.
Abner grinned at the dark haired man’s reaction. He had found his perfect audience. “All these bankers and such are buying them. For some reason these things just don’t sell in Europe. Guess they are just too old-fashioned in old countries, but the stiff-necks here can’t get enough of them. I guess they think they are classy.”
Heyes took a few steps back, and sat down, head to one side, examining the painting, absent -mindedly reaching for some coffee.
Abner chortled, enjoying his storytelling. “It’s painted by some fella called Claude Something-or-other.” Heyes nodded, taking the information in.
The boys had waved hearty goodbyes to Abner two days later, promising to get in touch if they were ever near, promise of more possible work an incentive. They were forty dollars up as Curry took a swig of beer and sawed into an inch thick steak. “You know,” he said, “I’m glad we got him to load that picture on the mare, rather than the young ‘un.”
“I know what you mean, it wasn’t heavy, just awkward. I knew a girl like that once.”
Curry laughed, nearly choking. “He sure loved his horses, but I guess Abner’s eyesight’s going. He just didn’t notice. I liked Abner, no false pride. Nice fella.”
“Well, Kid, it’s like I always say.”
Deep dimples appeared and brown eyes filled with mischief. “A foal and his Monet are soon parted.”
Tomorrow I will no longer be reckless or feckless. I will do everything with both reck and feck!
Last edited by Nancy Whiskey on Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:22 am; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 554
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
|Subject: Step Right Up Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:38 pm|| |
Well no big ideas this month. This is a reworked and expanded version of a word challenge posted on another site.
Step Right Up
“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. See for yourselves the wonders of these little bars. You need to try it to believe it. I want to sell you Madam Marigold’s marvelous miracle bars. Why, this is the most wonderful cleaning product in the world – it cleans everything. It’ll heal your cuts, keep off ticks and other biting insects, keeps your skin baby soft and wrinkle free. Well, you can see it’s just too amazing to be called soap. What? You say, it can’t be true; that I’m just trying to sell you a two-bit bar of soap for a dollar? Well, tell you what, I am so convinced that you will love this product and be as amazed as I am that I have a proposition for you. As you can see, as we speak, I’m wrapping bars for you to buy. Now, here in my hand I have a genuine twenty-dollar bill. Watch me fold it and wrap it. In these bars behind me I’ve wrapped some with one dollar bills, and some with five dollar bills, and here’s the one I just wrapped. Of course, it’s a sporting proposition folks. I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that not all the bars have any bills wrapped with them. So you may just get a bar of the most wonderful cleaning product available for your dollar – but surely that’s worth it. And you have the chance to get your money back or more.” The man paused in his spiel, drew breath, waited for the right moment, then… “Step right up, who’ll be first?”
He looked over the crowd as they surged towards him and saw two boys, standing to the side, watching. They had the hungry, scruffy look of youngsters on their own that he had seen in too many towns out here. “Go west, young man,” indeed, he snorted. The two studied him and the crowd thronging up to try their chances. He shook his head and returned his focus to selling the bars. When he looked back up, they were gone.
He quietly packed up his cart, preparing to leave – heading towards the next small town, the next set of marks. As he did, the two boys he’d noticed before approached.
“Mister,” the blond asked, “can we buy a bar of your soap?” He and his friend dug through their pockets and carefully counted out enough change then held it out to him on their grimy palms. He watched as they counted and noted they had one dime left over.
“Sorry, boys, I’m done for the day. Everyone is gone. Go on home.”
They ignored this. “Please, Mister, just one bar.”
“Why this one, boys? You can get cheaper soap at the dry goods store down the street there.”
“Yeah,” agreed the dark-haired, older boy. “We could, but here we have a chance of getting our money back and then some. I know the odds are we won’t, but some chance is better than none, and we need the money – and the soap.”
Something about these two kept the huckster’s attention. He looked around. “Don’t you have soap at home?”
“Don’t have any homes. But we do just fine on our own,” the dark-haired one declared defiantly. His blond companion nodded, although he didn’t look as convinced.
The man sighed and stared over their heads for a moment. Finally, “Tell you what, boys, if you agree to work for me for a bit, I’ll tell you my secret. The pay’s not much but I could use a couple of helpers, and I’ll feed you, too.”
The boys looked at each other in silent communication, then turned to him and held out their hands. “Deal,” they said in unison.
He shook their hands and smiled. “I’m Soapy Saunders, boys, and welcome to my world.”
“Heyes,” the older boy reciprocated. “And he’s Jed, Jed Curry. But we still want to buy a bar of soap.”
Soapy reached into a pocket and pulled out a quarter. “The first thing I want you to do is go buy yourselves a bar of soap over at the emporium. Any money left over is yours – an advance on your pay.” He held up a hand as they opened their mouths. “No back talk. You work for me now. See how fast you can do that then meet me outside the town to the north. I don’t want anyone to see you joining me.”
The three made camp by a stream. The boys helped him unpack his cart and he made them all dinner. As he watched them mop up the last of the meal he smiled ruefully.
The two caught his look and turned to each other in consternation. The dark-haired boy squared his shoulders. “Look, we’ll leave if you’re having second thoughts.”
The blond dug into his pockets and held out a quarter. “Here’s your money back. You don’t owe us nothin’ and, and we gotta get goin’”
The two stood up, hunched their shoulders, and prepared to lave.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. What’s the rush? I said you work for me; you two having second thoughts?”
“Good, glad that’s settled.” He indicated they should sit back down. Once they were seated he resumed, “Now, I’m going to tell you why folks call me Soapy.”
He grinned. “You work for me now, and it wouldn’t be right if you spilled my secrets. You understand that, don’t you?” Soapy looked each in the eye until each boy nodded his solemn agreement.
“All right. I wouldn’t sell you a bar of soap because you can buy the same soap for less than five cents a bar.” He held up a hand as the boys opened their mouths. “I also don’t sell any bars wrapped with five or twenty dollar bills, and I make sure there’re no more than two or three that go out wrapped in ones.” He smiled. “With you two as my shills, I can pretend to sell you a bar that will have a five-dollar bill. I’ll sell even more that way.”
“But, but, we saw you. We watched real carefully and saw you put that bar with the twenty in the pile you were sellin’,” stated Curry, his brows drawn together in confusion.
“No, son, you just thought you did. All my talking was just obfuscation, so I could pocket the twenty before I wrapped the bar. That’s how I can sell five cent soap for a dollar. That, my boys, is the world of the con – making the suckers – marks – believe they are getting something for nothing. Just remember for yourselves, if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.” He smiled and looked at his new protégés.
They thought for a moment, looked at each other, and smiled back.
Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Location : Over the rainbow
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:34 am|| |
An examination of the Challenge Story Rules in Chat on Sunday clarified that more than one story by the same author is eligible to be polled as long as it's not a continuation of a larger story already posted this month. So here you go. My second entry.
A Fool And His Money
“Put your hands up!”
The Kid turned at the thin, weedy voice behind him, his eyes widening in surprise at the slight figure holding a gun which seemed too large for the trembling hand. “This is a joke.”
The reedy voice cracked with fear and the man’s skinny frame barely contained in the jacket which seemed to have been made for a fourteen year old. “It’s no joke,” his monocle dropped from the man’s eye and was quickly lost in the straw covering the stable floor. “You’re under arrest. I know who you are.”
Cool, blue eyes appraised the besuited, diminutive figure standing between the gunman and the stable door. A too-small bowler hat slid about on oiled hair and a straight moustache twitched nervously above pale lips. The Kid snorted impatiently. “Put it down. You’ll only hurt someone and if it’s me I’ll be real angry.”
Sweat started to bud on the pallid face, causing the mouse to tug at his stuff collar as though releasing steam. His voice rose an octave with spiralling tension. “You’re coming with me over to the jail. I need public support to deal with this.”
“The hell I am,” snorted the Kid, “I’ve got my pride to think of. I ain’t bein’ led through the town by some pen-pushin’ weaklin’. Drop the gun.”
“I’m the one giving the orders,” the man squeaked.
The Kid gave a conciliatory smile. “I can look in a man’s eyes and know his next move, and you ain’t gonna shoot me or anyone else. Put the gun down and stop actin’ stupid.”
“Stupid!” The pitch rose again. “Don’t call me stupid. Everyone thinks I’m a complete walkover; well it’s about time I stood up for myself. Stop telling me what to do.”
“Hey, hey...” the Kid waved placating hands with his arms still raised. “I didn’t mean you were stupid. I meant you were actin’ stupid.”
“Well, I guess if you were stupid you’d...” the Kid scratched his head. “I dunno. What do you think, Joshua?”
“You’re not going to fool me with that old trick,” the clerk sniffed. “You came in here on your own. I told you I’m not stupid. I’m not turning around so you can get a jump on me.”
A loud metallic click beside the man’s head made him blanch to an even paler shade of tallow. “I’ll tell you what the difference is,” Hannibal Heyes’ mellifluous tones murmured in the stranger’s prominent ear. “Acting stupid is drinking downstream from the herd. Being stupid is pulling a gun on a man without making sure you know where his partner is.” A gloved hand stretched over and took the colt from the man’s hand. “One is temporary; the other could be real permanent.”
The stranger backed off, his pale face contorting in some kind of fearful conniption fit as he stumbled over bales of hay before tripping over a pitchfork. The partners exchanged a grin before advancing on their opponent.
The Kid folded his arms. “What’s your name?”
“Cecil what?” Heyes demanded.
“Bean? Ya mean like the things we eat?”
Cecil pulled himself upright and forced himself into a corner. “Yeah, Bean. It’s Irish.”
“Irish, huh?” Heyes glanced at the Kid. “There’s a lot of it about. Well, suppose you explain why you pulled a gun on my friend, Cecil Bean?”
“He’s come to hold up the payroll. I can’t let that happen. Everything rests on me keeping my job.”
Curious, brown eyes turned to the fair gunman. “The payroll? Thaddeus, is there something you want to tell me? When you said you had plans I thought you meant a drink at the saloon.”
“Don’t be stupid, Joshua.”
Heyes grinned, his cheeks pitting with amusement. “There ya go again. Am I being stupid or acting stupid?”
“Both.” The Kid glared at Cecil. “You can’t go around accusin’ folks of things like that. You’ll get hurt; and if you do it again I‘ll make sure of it.”
“I’ll suffer anyway. You’re going to ruin me and I’ll lose Audrey. This time I’m going to take charge. I’ll show everyone that a worm can...” Cecil’s fists formed into angry balls, his grey eyes staring boring into the Kid, “change his spots!”
“Who the Sam Hill is Audrey?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know what’s going on.” Cecil struggled to his feet. “Harriet told me all about it.”
“My sister,” Cecil scowled at the hay clinging to his crisp, business-like attire. “She found out all about it.”
“Harriet Bean?” Heyes mused. “I bet that’s a lady who can’t wait to get married to change her name.”
The receding chin rose in defiance. “My sister has dedicated her life to looking after mother. She isn’t interested in men. She told me so herself.”
“Cecil,” the Kid shuffled impatiently, “if you don’t start makin’ more sense you’ll end up gettin’ elected to office. I don’t know anyone called Audrey. There was a Harriet once. She had lots of red hair,” he gazed of wistfully, “lots of everythin’; but mostly lots of red hair. I can tell you she didn’t make me think of a cosy fireside; not at all. Does that sound like your sister?”
Heyes rolled his eyes. “Let’s get back to the point, huh? Cecil, we’ve just arrived in town. We don’t know Audrey, Harriet or anyone else. In fact, you’re the first person we’ve talked to. Why don’t you tell us what’s going on?”
“Why should I?”
“Because I don’t like to be blind-sided,” the brown eyes darkened, “and you’re not going anywhere until you do.”
Cecil’s Adam’s apple bobbed beneath his paper collar before he swept off his bowler hat. “Oh, poop! Mother’s right. I always get it wrong.”
Blue eyes met brown over two pairs of arched brows. “Language, Cecil. We’re delicate types,” chuckled Heyes.
The Kid strolled over and crouched in front of the little man. “Why don’t you tell us all about it? We might be able to help. You had to be pretty desperate to pull a gun on me.”
“I wouldn’t have shot you, sir.” Cecil shrank further into the wall. “I’ve never hurt anyone in my life.”
“Yeah, guns can go off if you don’t know what you’re doin’. It ain’t the bullet that kills, it’s the hole. Why’d you do a stupid thing like that?”
Cecil sniffed and pulled out a voluminous handkerchief. “The mine is going to get robbed and there’s nothing I can do about it. My sister heard all about it in the church when she was arranging flowers.”
“The church?” The Kid sat on a hay bale. “I ain’t an experienced criminal, but that doesn’t sound like the usual place to plan a robbery.”
Cecil wrung out the handkerchief in his girlish hands. “For weeks Harriet has been keeping me updated on Audrey’s growing friendship with Sheriff Abe Bacon. He’s everything I’m not; tall, manly, virile. He’s afraid of nothing, a man of action,” Cecil sniffed. “He looks like he’s had a moustache since kindergarten. He’d turn any woman’s head; so if that’s the type Audrey likes, that’s how I have to act.”
“Are you kiddin’ me? Bean and Bacon?” The Kid scratched his head. “They sure sound like they go together.”
“Audrey’s name is Zwiefelhofer, not Bean.” Cecil toyed with the brim of his hat. “The way things are going I don’t think she’ll ever take my name.”
Heyes frowned. “So? What has Audrey said about this?”
“You don’t understand, my relationship with Audrey isn’t exactly conventional.”
The Kid frowned. “What does that mean?”
“My mother inherited my father’s interests in the mine. I don’t get a penny until I prove myself,” he pulled at his paper collar once again, “and mother’s very hard to please.”
“Audrey and I,” Cecil paused, “we have more of an arrangement than an engagement.” The little clerk darted an anxious glance at the disapproving glare. “I adore her. I treat her like a queen, but I’m under no illusions that her father pushed her at me for financial reasons. I had hoped she would grow to love me but she’s clearly got eyes for Bacon.”
“Surely you must have said something?” asked Heyes.
“She denies it, of course, but I know she’s covering. I’ve seen the way she looks at the sheriff.”
“I’m confused,” the Kid frowned. “How does her having a thing for the local lawman lead to you pullin’ a gun on me? I’ve never heard of this Sheriff Bacon.”
“I’ve been told that they’re planning on running off together. Stealing the payroll is going to bankroll their new life together and today was the big day,” sighed Cecil. “He’s got a fair-haired friend who’s handy with a gun to come and help. I took one look and thought that had to be you. After all, you arrived in town the same day as this planned robbery.”
“This all came from your sister?” Heyes paused. “Is she the imaginative type?”
“Not in the least. She’s very like mother in that respect. In any case, Reverend Butters heard it all too. I have a member of the clergy confirming overhearing their plans so I have no reason to disbelieve them. I have to stop them. Mother is not an easy woman to please. If they get the money I’ll lose both my job and Audrey.”
“Let her go,” the Kid replied. “You can’t keep a woman who doesn’t want you. You’ll never relax a day of your life if you go through with it. Find someone you can be yourself with.”
“But I love her!”
“Poor little rich boy not gettin’ what he wants?” growled the Kid. “I bet it’s nearly as bad as when your pony never learned to fly. What about her; bein’ pushed to marry someone she doesn’t want? Find someone else.”
“Mother doesn’t like anyone else.”
“Cecil, your mother ain’t marryin’ her, you are,” the Kid retorted. “Do you let your mother run your life for you?”
“More or less,” Cecil murmured. “She’s very forceful. But quite apart from Audrey, there’s the payroll. I could lose my job; even my whole inheritance.”
Heyes shook his head. “You need to go to the law.”
“Bacon is the law. I have nowhere else to go.”
Heyes shrugged. “The next town?”
“Mother doesn’t let us travel. She says I’m needed at the mine and Harriet is invaluable to her at home, especially when she gets one of her heads.” Cecil turned a glum face on each of the partners in turn. “Mother gets a lot of headaches. She is very sensitive to stress. Besides, it’s too late. It’s happening today and Harriet is looking after the office for me so I can try to sort out this mess before Mother finds out.”
Heyes started to pace. “You mother doesn’t know about any of this?”
“Certainly not. Mother holds the controlling share of the mine and if I don’t hold up my end by running the accounts efficiently I’ll never inherit those shares. She has made that very clear, but Mother couldn’t cope with this; not at all. She does not deal well with stress, or disagreements,” Cecil paused, “or things out of the ordinary.”
“So, your mother has you and your sister dancing in attendance while she controls your lives?” Heyes muttered. “You could go and work for someone else.”
“It sounds more like she doesn’t suffer from stress,” the Kid grinned, “but maybe she’s more of a carrier?”
Cecil visibly bridled. “Mother built up the mine from nothing. Father never had a head for business; she’s simply doing her best for Harriet and me. My sister looks like me, we both favour father; so you can imagine that neither of us have been lucky in love. Mother helps us in the same way she helped father.” The grey eyes drooped, “Harriet fills her life with the church, in fact, I think Reverend Butters rather depends on her; but men are different. I’m a hot-bloodied male and I have needs. Mother understands that and helped me persuade Audrey’s family. Everyone agrees that I’ll win her over eventually. Mother wants her grandchildren to be attractive.”
“Hot-bloodied, huh? That’s quite a mother you got there,” the Kid suppressed a smile. “Mine got me a ball once.”
Heyes scratched his chin pensively. “Have you stepped up security on the payroll?”
“Yes, but it seemed to me that my best way of impressing Audrey was to bring in Bacon’s accomplice and make him confess.” Cecil shook his head helplessly. “It was a stupid idea. I’m impressive with ledgers and files; not guns.”
“Yeah, well. There’s no fool like a man in love,” The Kid hooked the small man with a questioning glance. “So what now?”
“I’d do anything for Audrey. I had hoped saving the payroll would help her to see me in a different light.” Cecil replied. “I’m desperate; head over heels.”
“I don’t know about you, but I do most everythin’ head over heels,” the Kid stood and gestured towards the door with his head. “Come on. We’ll help you get the payroll over to the bank and you can tell the miners to collect your money straight from there. That’ll give you time to get some better security in place for the next payday.”
Cecil hesitated. “How can I trust you?”
“Has it occurred to you that if we were after the payroll we’d be at the mine and not at the stables,” Heyes replied. “Use your own security to guard the payroll if you like; we’ll watch the sheriff to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.” He handed the milquetoast back his gun, examining it appreciatively. “A Colt? A good weapon. It’s not the type I’ve have thought you’d have.”
Cecil nodded. “Mr. Shutterworth at the general store recommended the Colt. Mother wouldn’t approve but I thought I should get a pair.”
“I was thinkin’ that as soon as you told me about your mother,” the Kid muttered.
Cecil appeared at the door, his cheeks puffing with relief. “It would appear that great minds think alike. Harriet and the Reverend Butters got the security men to escort them over to the bank. They’ve put the word out that the workforce can get their money there tomorrow. She’s always been the sensible one, has Harriet. I don’t know what we’d do without her.” Cecil rubbed his face. “Gentlemen, I owe you an apology. Everything’s fine.”
Heyes scanned the street. “And this blond gunman? Has there been any sign of him?”
“No. I appear to have made rather a fool of myself. It’s exactly this type of impetuosity Mother detests in me. How can I make this up to you?”
The Kid shrugged. “We came here lookin’ for work. Ya got anythin’?”
“Mining work? We are always looking for men,” ventured Cecil.
Resigned blue eyes met brown before Heyes spoke. “Can we get back to you on that, Cecil? We’ve just arrived and there might be something that’s more our style? Maybe something a bit gentler on the back?”
“Sure,” Cecil reached out a hand in thanks. “If only I’d stopped to think this through. I could have made a real fool of myself if I’d pulled a gun on anyone else anyone else.”
“That could have been the least of your problems,” Heyes slapped the Cecil on the back, winding the delicate clerk. “Don’t try anything like that again,” the Kid gave Cecil a warning glint. “You ain’t equipped for it.”
The voice cut through the psyche and blared above the noise of the traffic and general populace in a cacophony of dissonance. Everyone turned to look at the black-clad matron cutting through the townsfolk like a galleon in full sail. “Mother,” Cecil murmured, visibly shrinking behind the Kid. “If she asks, you’re looking for a job. Don’t tell her I messed up.”
“Why would we do a mean thing like that?” grinned the Kid. “We ain’t gonna tell your momma on ya? We’re a lot of things, but we ain’t tattle-tails.”
Mrs. Bean swept up to them, her blazing eyes displaying a countenance as delicate as pig-iron. “Cecil? Where is Harriet? I’ve been looking for her.”
Her son gulped heavily. “I’ve just been told she went over to the bank, Mother.”
“I’ve just come from there,” Mrs. Bean’s eyes narrowed, focusing in on her son. “She and the Reverend Butters left. What were they doing there? ”
“I...she...we,” Cecil wilted under the intensity of the woman’s glare.
“Cecil!” All three men stiffened at the suddenness of the bark. “The payroll is missing and you are away from your post. I demand an explanation immediately.”
“It isn’t missing. It’s in the bank. Harriet overheard a plot to steal it so I hired extra security.”
“I have been to the bank,” snapped the matron.
“Yes, Mother. The security escorted Harriet and the Reverend Butters over to the bank.” He patted the handle protruding from his pocket. “I joined in with the men to protect it.”
The glare landed on Heyes on Curry. “You, are you two involved in this?”
“No, ma’am. We just got into town and your son wondered if we were for hire.” Heyes shook his head, firmly. “We’re not. We’re passing through on our way to a job for the Governor of Wyoming.”
The tip of the parasol was firmly rapped on the wooded sidewalk. “Cecil, I demand to know why you are wasting your time lollygagging with a couple of saddle tramps when the payroll is missing.”
“It’s in the bank mother. Roberts and Schultz escorted Harriet over themselves. There was a scare we didn’t want to bother you with.” Cecil’s guilty eyes were unable to hold his mother’s hard stare. “Harriet took the payroll to safety and I helped to secure the area.”
“It is not in the bank.” The woman’s jowls began to tremble in anger, “and I have spoken to Roberts and Schultz. They escorted her to the bank, but they didn’t make sure she deposited the money, nor did they escort her back to the mine office.” She threw out an arm towards the railway station, the black, crepe frilly of her cape flapping like a crow’s wing. “She and the Reverend Butters have left town on the three o’clock train.”
Cecil blanched. “But surely she deposited the payroll?”
The old lady stiffened and glared at Heyes and Curry. “Why are you still here? This is private family business.”
The Kid raised placating hands. “Sorry, ma’am. We’re on our way. We were just talkin’ to your son. It ain’t any of our business.”
“So?” Mrs. Bean flicked up an eyebrow. “Walk!”
Heyes’ mouth firmed into a line to prevent the retort swirling around in the dark eyes from becoming a reality. The Kid’s bar room diplomacy kicked in and he grabbed his partners’ arm. “Come on, Joshua. We’ve got that job to get to.”
“I thought he said his mother was delicate?” Heyes allowed himself to be steered back towards the stables. “We’ve blown safes that’ve been frailer.”
“D’you think the payroll’s been stolen?”
Serious dark eyes turned to the Kid. “It’s a good plan; persuade Cecil to focus on a mysterious blond gunman and keep away from the sheriff while you get escorted out of the building with the whole haul. The hired security were only going to make sure the money made it to the bank; they’d never suspect the docile sister, so nobody thought to make sure it stayed there.”
“And she’s so dedicated to the Reverend,” the Kid chortled. “She has no interest in men.”
“Yeah, good luck to her,” Heyes shrugged. “Mrs. Bean had everyone’s lives mapped out for them. At least Cecil got a job and the chance to inherit; it sounded like Harriet was well and truly trapped.”
“Well, I guess we’d better get outta here,” the Kid dragged open the stable door. “We can’t stick around anywhere there’s been a robbery.”
“Yup, and we’d better hope they’re never caught,” Heyes grabbed at his saddle and hefted it over to his horse, “we’d have a hard time explaining our part in this.”
“We thought we were helpin’ an elopin’ couple to catch the train in good faith, Joshua.” The Kid tightened the girth. “We weren’t to know they’d just taken the payroll with them.”
“And you think anyone would believe that?” Heyes paused and leaned on the saddle. “You’ve got to admire the way they distracted Cecil to get hold of the money. If we were ever to go back to flim flaming I’d get myself a dog collar. Nobody ever suspects the clergy and rich folks always think they’re smarter than them.”
The Kid sighed. “Ya gotta feel sorry for Cecil though. He’s stuck with all this.”
Heyes swung his leg over his horse. “The way I see it, Harriet got nothing but an unpaid servant’s post, so she took what should have been hers; a start and a future. Cecil could up and leave any time he wants. It’s harder for a woman.”
“She could’ve just married the reverend,” The Kid steered his horse towards the open stable door. “She didn’t have to steal.”
“Neither did we, when it comes right down to it, Thaddeus. Not for the most part. Happiness is having what you want. She wanted a man and a comfortable home, you can’t blame her for that.” The partners steered their animals out onto the street and headed toward the road out of town. “I’ve always reckoned that people who say that money can’t buy happiness just don’t know where to spend it.”
“Yeah, but poor Cecil. He’s gonna lose Audrey. She’s gonna choose the sheriff.”
“He never had her, Thaddeus. He’s better off finding that out now than later.”
They continued out of town, only the jingle from the bridles and the gentle this of hooves on soft earth breaking the silence.
“What’s for dinner tonight, Joshua? We ain’t had a chance to get to a mercantile.”
“Unless you can shoot something we’re having prairie sandwiches, Kid.”
Heyes nodded. “Yeah, two slices of bread with wide open spaces in between.”
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight Old Scottish proverb
Posts : 538
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 64
Location : Colorado
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:18 am|| |
I apologize for not having caught up yet and commented on last month's stories. I will, but I got a bunny and had to write.
A FOOL AND HIS MONEY
“Hey, hold on a minute. I want to see this!” Hannibal Heyes pushed his way through the crowd gathered around a small table at the mouth of the alley.
“We ain’t got time, Heyes. We’re supposed to be at Tully’s at midnight. It’s five to,” groaned Jed Curry, but his best friend had already disappeared into the sea of bodies. He suspected that Heyes was using any excuse to avoid starting their new jobs of swamping out the local drinking emporium. He had to admit that he wasn’t much looking forward to cleaning up after a bunch of drunken cowboys either, but jobs were few and far between for boys their ages, even in the big city. It had taken a lot of luck and some stretching of the law for the two of them to have made it all the way to Denver from the tiny town they’d left behind in Kansas .
He fought his way through the onlookers ignoring angry protests and reciprocal shoves until he reached his partner’s side. Heyes was watching a gaudily-dressed man who held three cups in one hand while reeling off a non-stop barrage of words to the crowd.
“One dollar, Ladies and Gents, that’s all. Follow the ball and win ten dollars! That’s right, ten dollars. Sir, care to try your luck?” The con man watched as his mark shook his head no and sank into the crowd. He barely noticed the slender, dark-haired young man who stepped up eagerly before him, but the dollar the boy pulled from his pocket got his attention. “All right! We’ve got a real man here willing to take a chance. Lay that dollar down, mister, and keep your eye on the ball.” A tiny, pea-sized sphere rested on the table and Heyes locked his eyes on it as the man covered it with one of the overturned cups and then lined the other two up on either side. “Okay, you ready?”
Jed went to grab his arm to pull him away, but Heyes shook him off. “Heyes, we’ll lose our job.”
“You go on, I’ll catch up with you.”
“Hey, boys, I ain’t got all night. You ready or not?”
Heyes nodded and the man went to work. Both boys were mesmerized by the lightening quick movements of the man’s hands. Cups moved with fury across the felt-topped table for what seemed like an eternity before the man stopped and dropped his hands. “Go ahead, pick a cup. Find the pea and the money’s all yours,” he said with a smug, self-assured tone.
Heyes started to reach out to the cup on the left, but Jed’s hand darted out faster and snatched up the cup on the right revealing the ball. Both Heyes and the man were surprised by his actions. The crowd roared its approval.
“Now, I believe it was your buddy here who was playing,” the man began, but he heard the annoyed murmurs of the crowd and backed off what he’d been about to say, “but I’ll give you the money as long as you give me a chance to win it back. Deal?”
“Deal,” said Heyes quickly before Jed could pipe up again about the dreary job that awaited them. It had just struck midnight on the church bells and they were already late.
“Heyes,” warned Jed.
“Come on. You play a couple of more rounds and we’re still ahead eight dollars. That’s three dollars more than that skinflint was willing to pay us a week,” hissed Heyes. He saw Jed digest his words and an avaricious light sprang into those innocent, blue eyes.
Jed looked up at the man. “Okay, I’m ready. I’ll bet one dollar of that ten I just won.”
“Gonna make me work for my cash, are you?” quipped the man. The cups moved, exceeding the speed of the previous game. Both Heyes and Jed moved their heads back and forth mirroring the movements of the cups. Finally, they stopped and the man stared at Jed.
The curly-haired kid picked up the center cup revealing the ball. The crowd gasped, Heyes smiled, and the con man’s mouth dropped. “That’s not possible!” the man snapped.
“I reckon you owe me twenty bucks,” said Jed.
Flustered, the man set the cups up again. “Tell you what, sonny…you win this time and I’ll double your money.” He laid down a twenty dollar bill on the table next to the two tens Jed had won, and openly dared the boy to risk losing his prize.
“I ain’t no sonny,” said Jed, glaring at the man.
The con felt an unwelcomed frisson of fear trickle down his spine at the coldness of those blue eyes, but he shook it off. This was just a child. He wasn’t afraid to take candy from a baby. “Put up or shut up, kid.”
Heyes pulled Jed aside. “Let’s take our money and go. We can live real good on twenty bucks.”
“Why no? Look, is it about the job? I’m real sorry…”
“It ain’t about the job.”
“Then what is it?”
“He called me sonny,” growled the fuzzy-chinned kid.
Heyes rolled his eyes. “So?”
“So, he pissed me off.”
“You let me call you Kid all the time.”
“It ain’t the same thing. You don’t mean no disrespect; he does. I’m playin’!”
Heyes recognized that mulish expression. He threw his hands in the air and then crossed them tightly across his chest displaying his exasperation for all to see. The people around them pressed in closer and urged the young boy on. Things were beginning to get interesting.
Jed nodded to the man behind the table and the cups took off again. Three seconds later, Jed’s hand shot out and caught the man’s forearm. “You cheated.”
“Wh…what?” stammered the man. He heard the grumbles ripple through the audience and knew it was about to turn dangerous for him. “No, I didn’t!” he said with all the false indignation he could muster.
A shockingly strong grip held his arm. “Open your hand,” commanded Jed.
“Now look here, sonny, there’s no need to be a sore loser.”
“I ain’t no loser, and I ain’t your sonny. Open your hand.”
“Yeah, open your hand,” someone called.
“If you ain’t cheatin’, prove it,” yelled another.
What had moments before been a frivolous, fun atmosphere became a tense, pregnant pause. Heyes grabbed the forty dollars from the table and held onto it tightly. “Mister, I reckon you’d better open that hand or these good folks are gonna open it for you.” A dimpled smile spread across the dark-haired boy’s face as the threatening crowd surged closer.
Sweat beaded on the gaudy man’s forehead and he looked wildly about for a way out.
“Open it!” shouted a voice. The demand was echoed repeatedly.
Defeated, the man went limp and he opened his curled fist. A tiny, pea-sized ball rolled from his palm, bounced across the table, and fell into the dirt of the alleyway with a small puff of dust. It was dead silent for a long second and then all hell broke loose. Jed released his grip as other, angry hands reached for the man, ripping his tattered waistcoat, yanking at his hair. The con man screamed abuses at his tormentors and twisted away, upending the table, and sending the mob scrambling back. Using the small advantage, he took off running down the alley with several burly men chasing him and disappeared from sight. The rest of the onlookers, curious to know his fate, followed.
Smiling, Heyes threw his arm around Jed’s shoulders and squeezed, holding up the bundle of cash held in his fist. “We’re rich!” he crowed.
Jed grinned, too. “Guess we don’t need that job after all.”
“Let’s go get us a real steak dinner at that fancy hotel downtown.”
“Now you’re talkin’!” Jed fell into step with Heyes and they swaggered along the sidewalk triumphantly.
“Jed, I gotta ask. How did you do it? I kept my eye on those cups every second and I couldn’t tell where that ball went.”
“That’s just it, Heyes. He wanted you to watch the cups.”
“So?” Heyes stopped walking and turned to look at his younger friend.
“So, I watched his eyes. They told me everything I needed to know,” said the boy with the steely, cold stare.
He started walking again, but Heyes stood, watching him walk away, a small, unreasonable knot of anxiety forming in his gut. He shook it off and hurried to catch up with his best friend.
“The purpose of life isn’t to arrive at death in perfect condition but to slide into it sideways with your hair mussed, your clothes disheveled, a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘Whooeee, what a ride!’”--Hunter S. Thompson
Posts : 460
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 101
Location : Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Sun Jun 22, 2014 6:41 pm|| |
I didn't mean for this to happen. Really, I didn't. But these characters made me do this. I'm just a powerless typist.
This is a continuation of a former challenge story, which I never intended to continue. It's like I said before; I'm just taking dictation.
Here's a link to the earlier part of this story.https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10068342/1/Giving-Up
The butler coughed discretely, hoping to catch his employer’s attention without startling him. The elderly gentlemen sat cross-legged in front of the huge fireplace, holding a book in one hand and a glass of brandy in the other. He did not look up.
“Mr. Saunders, sir.” Soapy Saunders closed his book and looked up at the hesitant young man standing in front of him.
“What is it, Albert?”
“Mr. Saunders, there’s a gentlemen here to see you. He says it’s very important.”
“Didn’t I tell you I was not to be disturbed tonight, Albert?” Although he was a small man, Mr. Saunders could be very intimidating at times, and this was one of those times.
“Yes, sir, you did, but I believe you will want to see this gentleman.”
Saunders closed his book and gave his full attention to Albert. Although he’d not been in his service for long, Saunders already had seen the boy display judgment and discretion. If Albert thought this visitor was important enough to disobey clear instructions, there might be a good reason.
“Alright, Albert. Who is it?”
“Lom Trevors, sir. He says he is sheriff in Porterville, Wyoming. He wishes to talk to you about some friends you and he have in common.”
“I can’t recall any friends of mine who choose to associate with sheriffs. Did he tell you who?”
“Yes sir. Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. He says it’s a matter of life and death.”
“You’d best send him in, Albert.”
“Right away, sir.” Soapy stood and pulled his smoking jacket straight, frowning as he searched his retentive memory for any reference Heyes or the Kid might have made to someone named Trevors. The name was familiar, but he couldn’t remember why.
Albert returned, followed by a very tall, broad-shouldered man, carrying a Stetson in his left hand. The heels of his dusty boots clicked loudly on the parquet floors and echoed off the high ceiling.
“Sheriff Trevors, Mr. Saunders.”
“Thank you, Albert. That will be all.” Albert quietly closed the big doors, leaving the two men facing each other across the tremendous disparity in their height. Trevors extended his arm to shake hands with the small man, but withdrew it when Saunders merely kept his hands clasped in front of him.
“I don’t usually accept visitors on Sunday evening, Sheriff Trevors. This is my quiet time to read and reflect.”
“That’s what your man told me.” Trevors voice was firm and confident. “I appreciate your making an exception. Mind if I sit down?”
“Make yourself comfortable, Sheriff.” The chair Saunders indicated looked a mite frail to Trevors. It made some unsettling creaks when he squeezed into it. Saunders took a sip of brandy. He did not offer any to his guest.
“I won’t beat around the bush, Mr. Saunders. I know who you are. Or, I know who you were, before your retirement.”
“Many people in Denver know who I am, Sheriff Trevors. I confess to some surprise that my reputation as a philanthropist and collector of fine art has reached small-town Wyoming.”
A smile lifted one corner of Trevors’ mustache. “And it’s all paid for by a lifetime of working the confidence game, ain’t it – Soapy?”
Saunders’ eyes narrowed with annoyance. “Is it your habit to greet your hosts by accusing them of criminal activity, Sheriff?”
“Mr. Saunders, I ain’t interested in your past except for one thing, and that’s the safety of our mutual friends Smith and Jones.” Saunders face was impassive.
“I can’t imagine how you and I would have mutual friends, Sheriff. Perhaps you’d better stop beating around the bush, as you so quaintly put it, and tell me why you think you and I have anything or anyone in common.”
Trevors leaned forward. The delicate Louis XIV chair groaned under his weight.
“I ain’t always been a lawman. When I was younger, I spent some time with the Devil’s Hole Gang. I got to know Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry well. Real well.”
Saunders steepled his fingers and kept his expression neutral. He remembered where he’d heard of Trevors. “You have a colorful past, Sheriff. How is this relevant to me?”
“Like I said, I got to know the gang real well, especially Heyes and Curry. They told me how you took them in when they was boys, taught ‘em the confidence game. And I know, if it weren’t for them, you’d be spending your retirement in the Nevada penitentiary, instead of this mansion house.”
“You should write dime novels, Sheriff. You have a fine talent for fantasy.”
“But they decided to go straight,” Trevors went on, ignoring the interruption.” They asked me to be their go-between with the governor of Wyoming, and he did grant them a provisional amnesty, provided they stayed straight and out of trouble. They been living as Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones ever since.”
“How lovely for them,” Saunders said. “I’m still waiting to hear why you’re here.”
“Because I ain’t heard from them in six months, Mr. Saunders. Not one word. Up till then, they were checking in with me regular, letting me know where they were working, or asking about their amnesty. I’m worried about them. I’m worried about what they might be doing. I came to ask you, have you heard from them?”
“I am acquainted with Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, Sheriff Trevors, but no, I have not heard from them, not for, oh –“ Saunders looked at the ceiling, stalling – “for more than a year.” He returned his gaze to Trevors, smiling gently. Trevors’ disappointment was plain. “As for your story, I can hardly believe any governor would give Heyes and Curry amnesty.” Trevors started to speak, but subsided when Saunders held up one hand.
“A governor might promise it, Sheriff, but without any intention of giving it. It would be political suicide. And there has been quite a lengthy parade of Wyoming governors, some of whom may not be party to the original agreement. Perhaps Heyes and Curry realized that the offer of amnesty was never intended to be fulfilled. Maybe they have moved on with their lives.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Trevors said. “That they’ve gone back to outlawing.”
“I haven’t heard of them robbing any trains or banks,” Saunders objected.
“No sir,” Trevors shook his head. “They’re too smart to do that again. But I do believe they’d find another way to make a dishonest dollar. They told me what you taught them; that a fool and his money were soon parted and deserved to be. I’m afraid they’re back in the con game business.” His tone of voice hardened. “Are they?”
“I’m hardly the one to tell you that,” Saunders demurred. “Just out of curiosity, Sheriff, what does it matter to you what they do, as long as they aren’t committing any crimes in your jurisdiction?”
“I’ll tell you why it matters, and I’ll make it nice and clear, so you can tell them next time you see them. Because I put my reputation on the line for them. I told the governors they went straight, same as I did, and they meant to stay straight. Now the governor’s asking me why I haven’t had any reports on them lately, and I ain’t got a good answer for him. And maybe the governor’s thinking I knew all along they were still thieving, and maybe I’m involved. That’s why. Because I trusted them, and if they lied to me, there’s gonna be hell to pay. “
“I see your predicament, Sheriff, and I sympathize,” Saunders said, “but there’s nothing I can do. Notorious bank robbers don’t check their schedules with me, despite what you think you know about my background.”
“Uh huh.” Trevors started intently at the smaller man, trying to see through the pleasant expression. Saunders only smiled benignly. Bigger, meaner men than Trevors had tried to intimidate him since before the war and had failed. Saunders stood up.
“If that is all you have to say, Sheriff Trevors, I will wish you good night and good luck.”
“That’s it, is it?” Trevors said, standing. He should have known he wouldn’t get anything out of this old man. Saunders had been working con games successfully for fifty years. This grand house proved he’d been the best. It would take more than one visit to convince him that abandoning the idea of amnesty was the worst thing Heyes and Curry could do. Hell, he was probably proud that the boys were under his wing again.
Trevors put his hat on. “Thanks for the time, Soapy. When you see Heyes and Curry, be sure to remind them about who I am.”
“And exactly who are you, Sheriff? Besides a man with a past?”
“I’m the man who knows them two better than anyone, including you. I’ve been their best friend, and I could be their worst enemy. If they’re breaking the law, I will hunt them down and I will put them in prison for twenty years.”
Saunders’ genial smile faded as he watched the tall man leave. He waited, still standing, until he heard Albert escort Trevors towards the front door. When he heard the door shut, he followed Trevors out into the foyer, where Albert was locking up.
“You were right to admit Sheriff Trevors. That was good judgment on your part.”
“Thank you sir.”
“I’m going to compose a few telegraphs for you to send.”
“Right away, sir.”
“I believe Sheriff Trevors is expecting me to do just that. I would hate to disappoint him, after his long trip from Wyoming. I’ll want you to visit a different telegraph office for each telegram.”
“Go slowly, so that you don’t lose Sheriff Trevors. When you’ve finished, you can go home. And there’s an extra $20 gold piece in this for you, Albert, to make up for the late evening.”
“Thank you sir. That’s very generous.”
“Not at all, Albert, not at all. During the day tomorrow I’ll have a more important telegram for you to send. By that time, I expect Sheriff Trevors will have moved on, but you must still be cautious. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir, perfectly.”
“Good man. I’ll have these ready in ten minutes. Then you can go.”
“Yes sir. Thank you, sir.”
At his writing desk, Saunders quickly wrote a few misleading telegrams. Even if Trevors bribed or intimidated a telegraph clerk, the messages would be too cryptic for him to understand. That would give Saunders time to think and compose a more lengthy, complete message to Heyes and Curry.
They needed to know that they faced a new, dangerous threat.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:24 am|| |
Check out the original version before I had to edit it to fit the challenge. I mean; only if you want to. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10481302/1/A-Fool-and-his-Money
The two travel weary men sat in the opulent front receiving room and tried not to get too much caked mud and dried travel dust on the plush comfortable arm chairs. The front hall, just as the rest of this impressive ranch house was filled with exquisite artwork and fine expensive carpeting. There was also a distinct South American feel to the numerous sculptures and finely crafted furniture that adorned the spacious room, something that had not been present the last the time the cousins had come to visit.
Both Heyes and the Kid looked around nervously. A number of well armed men adorned the corners of the room and another stood guard over the front door as though expecting the two guests to attempt a run at it. The partners exchanged anxious looks and both thought fleetingly of doing just that. The fool-hearty attempt was fortunately vetoed as the deep familiar voice of their 'employer' broke in upon their thoughts.
“Boys, boys!” the big man greeted them. “Wonderful job you did for me. I knew I could count on you two.”
“Yeah, thanks a lot Mac,” Kid grumbled as they all shook hands. “We could tell you were pleased by the reception party at the front door.”
“Yeah Mac,” Heyes put in. “What's the big idea? You hired us to do a job and we did it. Why the guards?”
“Oh c'mon fellas! They're not guards!” Big Mac assured them. “They're just here to protect my interests.”
“Uh huh,” Kid grumbled again. “Your interest in what, exactly?”
“We'll discuss that over dinner.”
“Dinner?” Heyes asked suspiciously.
“Of course you're staying for dinner!” Mac boomed back at him.
“It's only 11:00 in the morning,” Kid pointed out. “What reason could there possibly be to keep us hanging around here until this evening?”
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. “Just pay us and we'll go. Pay us now and we still have time to catch the 1:05 heading north.”
“Oh come now boys!” Mac sounded insulted as he poured them all a glass of sherry. “You know tonight is the poker night! You need to stay and join in. I made certain there would be a spot open for you Joshua so no reason why you can't sit in on a game or two.”
“No reason?” Heyes was getting irritated. “I can think of one really good reason. Actually I can think of more than just one, but the first one is sufficient enough.”
“Oh, and what's that?” Mac quietly asked like a snake in the grass.
“Correct me if I'm wrong,” Heyes stated sarcastically, “but isn't this the game that has a twenty thousand dollar buy in?”
“What's your point?”
Heyes and the Kid snorted and exchanged looks. Kid rolled his eyes.
“The point is,” Heyes snarked. “that even once you do pay us for the job we just completed for you, we won't have anywhere near the amount we'd need for the buy in. And even if we did we wouldn't be risking it at one of your poker games. You forget Mac, we know how you play poker.”
“Oh come on boys!” Mac assured them. “It's not going to be like that! Just a good honest game of poker!”
The cousins snorted again and started to make moves towards the door.
“Still the same problem,” Heyes pointed out. “We don't have money for the buy in.”
“I'll loan it to you,” Mac announced, stopping them in their tracks.
“Loan it to us!?” Kid was incredulous.
“Yeah!” Heyes shook his head. “You take us for fools Mac? You're offering to loan us twenty thousand dollars to sit in on your poker game and you expect us to lap it up and say 'Gee thanks Uncle Mac, that was real generous of you.'! There's a catch in there somewhere. I know it, you know it and the Kid knows it.”
“No catch,” Mac quietly assured him.
“No catch!?” Heyes was incredulous. “You're probably going to rig the game to make sure I lose it and then we'll be in your debt! You know darn well I can't repay twenty thousand dollars.”
“You won't lose,” Mac informed him.
“Oh, you know that for a fact do you?” Heyes demanded. “Sorry Mac. I'm not taking the bait. I don't know what you're up to but there is no way I'm getting myself into debt to you. Now just pay us what you owe us so we can be on our way.”
“Alright, I tell you what,” Mac wasn't letting them go that easily. “it's not a loan. It's a bet.”
“A bet?” Heyes couldn't believe his ears. “On what?”
“That you won't lose,” Mac told him. “I'd say that's a pretty fair bet; that Hannibal Heyes will come out the winner at just about any poker game he sits in on.”
Heyes sent a quick look back towards the guards standing nearby and then a warning look to their host. Mac laughed and shook his head.
“Don't worry about them Joshua,” he assured the ex-outlaw, “They're loyal to me to a man. I'd shoot 'em myself if they weren't.” He smiled knowingly. “So what do you say? I'm willing to lay down a twenty thousand dollar bet that you will win tonight. Then you can pay me back and keep whatever else you bring in. I won't even charge you interest.”
“And if I lose?”
Mac shrugged. “Same as any other bet. If you lose, I lose. You won't owe me a thing.”
“And you'll still pay us for the job we just finished for ya'.” Kid wanted to be clear on that point.
“Of course!” Mac laughed and with an arm that seemed to encompass the whole room, he ushered the two men deeper into the scheme of things. “C'mon boys! Enrique is already drawing up a couple of baths for ya' as we speak. Get yourselves cleaned up and you'll be good as new. I even had the tailor in town bring you up a couple of nice suits so you'll fit right in.....”
Heyes and the Kid found themselves being drawn deeper into the bowls of the large ranch house. Both of them were feeling like two flies caught up in a spider's web and wondering why, yet again they were allowing themselves to be talked into one of Big Mac McCreedy's schemes. But it was too late to turn back now.
Ten o'clock that evening found our boys scrubbed, fed and rested all in preparation of a long night in the games room. Mac welcomed his two guests to the game and introduced them around to the other players.
“Well you two already know Peterson there,” Mac commented dryly.
“Yessir,” Heyes smiled and shook the banker's hand. “Good to see you again.”
“Howdy boys,” Peterson shook their hands heartily. “Back for more punishment are you?”
“I certainly hope not,” Heyes commented as he sent a warning smile over to Big Mac. “Just interested in a nice friendly little game.”
“Sure ya' are!” Peterson laughed his usual annoying bellow and slapped Heyes on the shoulder. Before Heyes could react, the big banker turned his attention to the Kid. “How about you? We have room for another player. You going to join us this time?”
“Ah nope,” Kid told him. “This game is a little too rich for my blood.”
“Ha!” Peterson gave him a solid slap as well, “It's a good thing no one else in this town thinks like that or we'd have no game at all!”
Kid smiled patiently. “Yessir, Mr. Peterson. So I'll just be ah, over here readin' the paper.”
Jed gave his partner a pointed look, letting him know that he was there in case things got messy. Heyes responded with a barely perceptible nod and turned his attention to the other players in the game.
“You remember ole' Snyder from your last visit don't you Joshua?” Mac motioned over to the weasily little man in the gray tweed suit.
“Yessir, Mr. Snyder,” Heyes nodded and shook his hand. “good to see you again.”
“Hmm,” came back the response. “Smith isn't it?”
“Yes, that;s right.”
Heyes smiled wondering how many of these people might actually know who he and the Kid really were. Mac had promised to keep his mouth shut about that, but with Big Mac McCreedy one could never be sure of the ground beneath their feet.
“And this over here is Paul Masson,” Mac continued with the introductions. “He bought the neighbouring ranch six months ago and just recently joined in on our little games here.”
Hands were shaken again as the two men greeted each other.
“And our final player tonight is Malcolm Hutchinson. He's retired railroad.”
Heyes' smile froze but he recovered quickly and gave the railroad man a friendly handshake. The newspaper behind him rustled quietly and Heyes knew that Jed had taken note of the spoken profession as well.
“Mr. Hutchinson,” Heyes greeted him. “Nice to meet you.”
“Indeed,” Hutchinson looked down his nose at the young man in front of him. “And who are you to be included here this evening, Mr...?”
“Smith,” Heyes reminded him.
Mac was quick to step in and take over. “These boys are my nephews!” Mac announced pointedly and Heyes wasn't sure if he was relieved or irritated at suddenly being included as a family member. “That's Thaddeus over there. He don't play poker at this level but he still likes to watch the masters at work. And this here is Joshua. Now he's a fine poker player and being my nephew he has every right to be here at this table.”
Mac's voice had lowered to a warning growl on that last sentence and the meaning of it was not lost on Mr. Hutchinson.
“Yes, of course Pat,” he back stepped. “Didn't mean any disrespect. Just curious that a man this young would actually be able to come up with the buy in, that's all.”
“Well he did come up with it and that's all you need to worry about,” Mac informed him. “Now! Time is wasting. Let's get settled! The game is about to begin!”
All the players got themselves settled into the chairs around the circular poker table and the first boxed deck was brought out to begin the play. Heyes smiled and was really beginning to enjoy himself until he glanced up to find Hutchinson looking at him resentfully. Was it just the natural anxiety of an established player having to accept a newcomer into the game; an unknown commodity that could shake up the comfortable regime? Or did this railroad man recognize Hannibal Heyes for who he was and was simply biding his time before setting the trap?
The deck was shuffled, the cards divvied out and the players set about capturing the elusive best hand of the evening. With a $20,000 buy in and six players the pot was already substantial but all is relative and the play started out slowly with each man at the table giving themselves time to become comfortable with the deck and and new dynamics of the room.
Heyes was tentative at first, still having his doubts as to why Big Mac had insisted he sit in on this game. He bet small and carefully, feeling his way and deliberately allowing more than one pot to go elsewhere, giving himself time to become intimate with the deck. He watched the other players, looking for their tells and pinpointing them faster than he did at a penny-ante saloon game with cowboys and dirt farmers. Give a man money and you rob him of his sense.
Having soaked up all the information he needed, Heyes began to play for real. His photographic memory kicked in and he watched the cards like a hawk, though no one watching him would have been able to tell. He looked bored most of the time; his expression blank and his features relaxed. No one could tell that his mind was flashing like quick silver and a question mark was growing stronger and stronger behind the warm chocolate eyes.
Concern struggled to take over his focus. Was he loosing his touch? Were all those drunken nights and knocks on the head finally taking their toll? Was he loosing his memory? No matter how hard he focused, no matter how many times he counted it the cards were not coming up the way they were suppose to be. With each new shuffle, with each new hand played the cards would start out correctly and Heyes would know, before the card was dealt him what it would be, and what the card to his neighbour would be and so on.
Then suddenly it'd change! A card out of sequence. A card that wasn't suppose to be there, yet there it was. Heyes was becoming uncomfortable and Jed couldn't help but pick up on it. He put down his paper and began to pay a bit more attention. Heyes was playing to win now, but he wasn't winning; he was loosing. Pot after pot. And Snyder was winning. Heyes watched every move the weaselly little rancher made; looking for him to be palming a card or playing partners with another man at the table. He couldn't spot anything.
He sent a glance over to Big Mac and the rancher was watching him from under his eyebrows. Realization struck and suddenly Heyes knew why Mac had been willing to risk $20,000 just to get him into the game. The rancher knew there was a card sharp playing a con and he knew that as host of the game it was his responsibility to weed the scoundrel out and send him packing. It was an insult upon his house and to his reputation and he had no intentions of allowing it to go on.
When you have Hannibal Heyes at your disposal and you know what motivates him, you can make miracles happen. Get the boys down here on some trivial job, then get Heyes into the game. He'd spot a problem within the first hour and Mac knew the ex-outlaw was an honest player. He might be a crook and a conman in other aspects of his life, but when it came to poker, Heyes had his morals. He despised cheaters.
Heyes drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out through pursed lips. All eyes turned to him but Heyes simply looked back at them and grinned.
“Everything's fine gentlemen,” he assured the group as he picked up the deck for his turn at shuffling. “Time to start playing some poker.”
“I thought that's what we were playing,” Hutchinson growled.
Heyes simply smiled at him and began to deal.
Three hours went by and Heyes was down to $15,000. He was watching the other players like a hawk and then he noticed it. Snyder licked his lips as he glanced at the pot in the middle of the table and snuck another look at the cards in his hand. The right eyebrow went up.
Heyes felt realization come to him. The pot was huge—the biggest it'd been all night. The amount in front of Snyder was substantial but his previous few hands had been low so he hadn't been betting long on them and letting the smaller pots go to others in the game. Peterson of all people and Hutchinson had both been falling behind, but then caught up with Snyder being shut out. Most of the players just took it as luck of the cards, but Heyes knew better.
Snyder was being set up. Give him hands that would get him winning all night. Get him used to betting big and winning then snatch it away from him. Give him bad hands, so bad that even he wouldn't dare to bet so he'd retain his large winnings but others in the group would be given the chance to catch up. Then when the pot was big enough and Snyder's frustration at having his winning streak come to an end, give him another hand that just couldn't lose and watch him explode.
It was playing out right in front of Heyes' eyes. Snyder's thoughts were like fire written on his forehead. If he bet everything in front of him, he'd shut out all but one other player and the chances of that man having a better hand than Snyder's—but was he willing to take that chance? Lose the bet and he'd lose everything but win it and he'd walk away with $82,000. No one had walked away with that much money before, not from one of these games. They'd stop laughing at him then.
Heyes' eyes slid over to Hutchinson, the only other man in the game who had won enough in the last three hands to challenge Snyder for the pot. That man was watching Snyder like a wolf waiting for the chicken to come out of the hen house. Silence settled over the game like a suffocating blanket and all eyes were on Snyder. It was his move and he knew it. Everyone else had already folded, everyone but Hutchinson.
Finally the decision was made. Heyes had seen it even before Snyder knew it himself. The weaselly rancher bit his lower lip and pushed everything he had in front of him into the middle of the table.
“I'll meet your $5000 bet and raise you another $17,000.”
Hutchinson smiled and pushed in his own $17,000. “Call.”
Snyder smiled triumphantly and placing his cards on the table, he spread them and showed his hand. Everyone sucked their teeth and eww'ed and awed over Snyder's luck of the evening. It was an excellent hand and a good bet to win, but it wasn't going to. Heyes knew all along that it wouldn't. Snyder had been set up and played and he was going to lose.
Hutchinson didn't even smile. His eyes turned hard and cold, like a shark tasting blood as he set his own cards on the table and spread them out.
“Not good enough,” he stated.
Silence once again covered the room. Snyder went white as a ghost, not wanting to believe his eyes; the only hand that could have beat his was staring him in the face. Hutchinson did smile then and he reached out his hands to rake in the large pot for himself.
Everyone jumped and all eyes turned to Heyes.
“What do ya' mean 'stop'?” Hutchinson complained. “This is my pot.”
Heyes smiled. It didn't surprise him that his partner's voice came from directly behind him. “I want you to go around and collect up everyone's cards and bring them to me.”
“Now wait just a minute...”
The kid's gun was out in a flash and Hutchinson was stopped in mid complaint. Most of the players were looking at the Kid with mouths gaping and it was Hutchinson's turn now to go white as a ghost.
“Now, everybody just relax,” Mac advised the group. “You newcomers might not have noticed it, but those of us who have been playing poker here for years did notice. There's been some hanky panky going on here at this table and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. Now, if you'll all just be patient and do what my nephews say we can put an end to this nonsense.”
Everyone complied, though Hutchinson was looking decidedly nervous. He was trying to convince himself That nobody could prove anything but there was something about this dark-eyed 'nephew' of Mac McCreedy's that strongly suggested otherwise.
Kid re-holstered his gun and quickly collected each man's hand, then stood back with a satisfied smile and waited to see what his cousin had un-covered. Heyes smiled around at the players, then began to set out the cards all according to their suits. Once all the cards in the deck had been laid out everyone but Heyes was surprised that there were still two cards left over. Heyes' grin grew as he set down an extra King and an extra Ace. Angry muttering began to grow and dark eyes were turning towards Hutchinson.
“That doesn't prove anything!” the ex-railroad baron protested. “Anyone could have put those in there.” His face contorted with anger and he made the mistake of pointing an accusing finger in Heyes' face. “You probably just did it yourself to try and prove....”
Heyes was on his feet instantly and grabbed the outstretched hand while the Kid stepped behind Hutchinson, preventing him from pulling away. Heyes rolled the man's wrist over and slipping his nimble fingers under the sleeve cuff, neatly pulled out a fifth Queen.
The room erupted with the scrapping of chairs and the angry cursing coming from the other players.
“Settle down!” Mac bellowed above the chaos. “Everybody will get their money back. In the mean time we'll let the law deal with this!”
“That's all he was doing,” Heyes explained later that morning over breakfast. “He had those extra face cards and was slipping them to Snyder without Snyder even knowing it, setting him up to win big and then fall hard. I knew somebody was manipulating the cards because the count was off and yet the deck was never coming up light or heavy so he must have been replacing lower case cards rather than just adding more to the deck. Not bad slight of hand, but anybody paying attention would pick up pretty quickly that something was askew. I knew Snyder wasn't a good enough player to be cheating so I started watching the other players. Then I saw the set up plain as day and could see the close coming on it a mile away. All I had to do was wait until Hutchinson laid his cards on the table and I knew I had him.
“ I suggest you check everyone from now on Mac. Make sure nobody's bringing in things to the game they shouldn't be.”
Mac huffed. “I don't want to insult my company.”
“Why not?” asked the Kid. “You do it to us all the time.”
“You boys aren't company,” Mac pointed out. “You're family. That's different.”
Heyes and the Kid exchanged looks over their scrambled eggs and salsa.
“Family or not you still owe us for the job we did,” Heyes reminded his 'uncle'. “And I think it's only fair that you pay us extra for helping to solve your little problem here.”
“No no, now that wasn't the deal,” Mac complained. “The bet was that you wouldn't loose my $20,000 and you didn't. It's not my fault you didn't take home any extra winnings for yourself.”
“Now Mac,” Heyes pointed out, “If I'd known what you were up to I would have insisted on a pay back and if you ever want us to do any work for you ever again...”
“Boys, that wasn't part of the deal,” Mac continued to hedge. “My mother would have raised a fool for a son if I parted with money for no reason.”
Last edited by Keays on Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:13 am; edited 2 times in total
Posts : 812
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 64
Location : Seattle
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:58 am|| |
Parkersville - A Fool and His Money
“Slowly stretch out your arm as far as you can without strainin‘ your stitches. Good. Now, carefully reach to the side.” The Kid winced as he struggled to comply with the doctors orders. The Doc had just finished cleaning and dressing the wound and was testing the outlaws mobility while he was at it. The Kid did his best, albeit tentatively. His ribs were still troubling him as well as the shoulder. It had been a couple days since the Kid’s fever broke, and Dr. Mathews was giving Mrs. Parker a thorough assessment of the outlaw’s progress.
“ Now just let me finish up…..there.” The short, stocky doctor completed the examination by wrapping a sling around the Kid’s arm, under the watchful eye of his Boss.
“ I reckon we saved the arm. If this keeps up, we can send this low life back to jail where he belongs. In the mean time, I’d still keep a look out for fever, ma’am, you never know when that infection will start up again.”
“Much obliged, Doc.” The Kid could tell the doctor didn’t like him much, but there was some wisdom in being polite to the man that was fixing him up.
The doctor looked at him like he was seeing him for the first time. “Don’t thank me, Curry. It’s Sophie here who got me to take a second look at your sorry ass. If I’d had my way you’d be six feet under.” The doctor abruptly snapped his bag shut and stood up.
“Then it’s you I’m beholden to, Sophie.” Kid looked from the frowning doctor to the aloof, but beautiful woman. He felt uncharacteristically awkward, still cuffed to the bedpost and weak from his ordeal. He pulled his sheet up as far as he could with his one good arm.
“Mr. Curry, I asked you before to please address me as Mrs. Parker.” She was glad to hear he was improving, but had no intention of becoming on first name basis with him. She walked Dr. Matthews to the door.
The doctor continued to ramble on. “Just keep the sling on him, and see if he can keep down a little solid food. I’ll be back tomorrow.” He glanced from the outlaw and back to the lady. “ Sophie, a lady like you shouldn’t have to deal with the likes of him. I bet you can’t wait to get yer husband home to take all these worries off your shoulders.” Her very pretty shoulders, he silently noted.
“Thank you, Dr. Matthews. Please give my best to your wife. ” She ignored the comment about her husband. The fact that everyone thought her husband’s presence would miraculously solve all her problems was more than annoying to her. She had always been the problem solver in their marriage.
“Oh, uh, about my wife…” The doctor began to shift uncomfortably. She patiently waited to see what kind of story he would come up with. She had wondered when he was going to finally get around to asking about his pay.
“Well, you know the old sayin’, ma’am. A fool and his money are soon parted, and this old fool gave all his money to his wife and she done spent it all. The pearls were much appreciated, ma’am, but the wife told me not to come home without some gen-u-ine currency this time.” The doctor‘s discomfort was palpable, but in this case he was more intimidated by his wife than his boss. Just barely. He didn‘t have to live with his boss. He nervously wiped his sweaty, furrowed brow with his handkerchief. “If’n that’s ok with you, ma’am.”
Mrs. Parker had already lost the town’s teacher and parson because she couldn’t pay them. Fortunately, there hadn’t been too many folks expire from lack of prayers and lessons, but medical care, now that was another story. The idea of losing Dr. Matthews was unacceptable.
She stepped over to the desk and took a small bag out of one of the drawers. Without a word she tossed it to the doctor who caught it mid air. He weighed the bag in his hands as the coins clinked noisily. Satisfied, he quickly ghosted them into his pocket.
“Thank you kindly, ma’am.” He opened the door and turned with one more parting word. “Get him to take a bath, why don’t you. Those sponge baths ain’t doin’ the trick.” The Doc turned up his bulbous nose with a sniff, glared at his patient with another look of disgust, and was gone.
“Sponge baths?” Mrs. Parker turned to see the Kid staring at her questioningly, clutching his sheet, visibly uncomfortable at the thought of what may have transpired while he was unconscious.
Ignoring the question, Mrs. Parker leaned out the door, gave some orders to the guards, and returned. The train robber actually looked embarrassed, which she found absurd. How did the outlaw think she had cooled him down during his raging fever, if not with a sponge bath or two.
The Kid saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere with her. He tried again. “I appreciate all your doin’ here, ma’am, but I’d like to know what you did with my things.” He was trying to be a gentleman, but he was done with feeling vulnerable. He didn’t just feel naked, he actually was, and kept looking around the room to see some sign of his clothes.
She looked at him, apparently unconcerned. “I burned your clothes, Mr. Curry. They were covered with blood.”
He thought back on those first harrowing moments after the shooting, when he came close to bleeding out. Then he remembered the sickening stench of his blood caked clothes as he laid in jail, thirsty and feverish. The Kid turned and looked at her with the same narrow, steely gaze she had seen him use during the robbery.
“They wouldn’t a been covered with my blood if you hadn’t shot me, Sophie.” The accusing words were uttered with a practiced calm that had stopped most of his former adversaries in their tracks.
She didn‘t even blink. “Let me remind you again to address me as Mrs. Parker. And if you’d kept your hands off my payroll and my diamond, Mr. Curry, I wouldn’t have needed to shoot you.”
The blonde outlaw grunted. Neither one of them said anything as they both quietly assessed the other.
He continued to scan the room. “My hat and boots. Tell me you didn’t burn them too.”
“We never found a hat. Your boots are in the next room.”
“And my gun?” The same gun that had kept them alive more times than he could count. The gun he had practiced with until it felt like an extension of himself. The gun that had earned him his reputation; that had defined the man he had become. His gun.
“You no longer own a gun, Mr. Curry, it now belongs to me. A man like you should never wear a gun.” Her cool stare would have chilled a cowboy eating jalapenos in a drought.
That was it. He could see that any inclination he may have had towards practicing gentlemanly courtesy was wasted on this woman. Hell, she had almost killed him, why bother? Heyes was right, when it came to women, he was a soft touch. Well, not any more, not with this one.
He slowly and very pointedly let his eyes travel over her from head to toe, pausing suggestively along the way to admire her feminine points of interest. He decided he would like what he saw, if only she wasn’t so damn ornery.
“Well, now, Sophie,” he drawled, pausing to clearly emphasize the name, “ I reckon it’s just as well I don’t have my gun. A man like me, as you say, wouldn’t know whether to kiss you or shoot you.”
Without missing a beat, Mrs. Parker pulled out her derringer, and pointed the gun directly at his chest. “Either one would be equally unpleasant, Mr. Curry, and I will not sit idly by while being disrespected.”
The Kid met her gaze. “You won’t kill me, Sophie. Heyes must a give you good reason to think I’m worth more alive than dead, or I reckon I would a already met my maker. So, no, I’m not afraid a your gun.”
“You should be.“ Mrs. Parker changed her aim from his chest to his uninjured shooting arm. “You’re right, Mr. Curry, I don‘t want to kill you. However, I have no problem wounding you, as I have already demonstrated. For the last time, you will address me as Mrs. Parker.” She raised a brow and deftly cocked the hammer. “ Do we understand each other?”
Wide eyed, the Kid finally thought better of toying with her. After all, this was the same woman that had pulled the trigger on him once before.
“Uh, yes ma’am. Mrs. Parker, ma’am. I think I got it this time.”
“Good.” She lowered her gun but kept it readied.
He continued to study her, trying to figure out how to get her to be less cantankerous. If she thought a man like him shouldn’t have a gun, then what kind of man did she think he was? Maybe she hadn’t heard about their friendly and downright likeable reputation.
“I ain’t a killer, ma‘am. You seen for yourself how I run a calm and peaceable robbery back on the train, doin’ my best to keep folks from gettin’ hurt. And then you run out and started shootin’. Why, if I wasn’t a peaceable man I would a shot you dead instead of shootin‘ at yer feet, on account a you bein’ a lady and all.”
Mrs. Parker was unimpressed. “If you think you can threaten folks with your gun and still call yourself a peaceable man, then you are delusional. And as for taking it easy on me because I’m a woman,” she paused and frowned at him. “That was just one of your mistakes,” She looked from his handcuff to the wound in his shoulder. “ Wouldn’t you agree?”
The Kid wasn’t quite sure what delusional meant, but he was fairly certain is wasn’t a compliment. He tried to get through to her once more. “ But Mrs. Parker, in all the thievin’ I ever done, I never hurt no one.”
“Do you expect me to excuse you just because you don’t shed any blood during your robberies? There’s more than one way to seriously hurt someone, Mr. Curry. People suffer when you steal their livelihood. I’m surprised that you and your Mr. Heyes are so naïve that you do not understand this.”
The Kid was just getting over the idea of someone thinking he and his partner were naïve, when there was a knock at the door. The cook entered, wheeling a cart. She was an older lady, wearing a white frilly apron, her silver hair tied in a bun. The remains of a fine woman were still visible; she was once lovely and it showed.
“Put it right over there, Bess.” Mrs. Parker directed her to wheel the cart up next to his bed.
“I didn‘t know what to cook, ma‘am, so there‘s chicken soup and toast, in case he‘s still sickly. And if he’s up to it, there’s steak and taters. Oh, and a piece a my famous apple pie. ” Bess stole a glance at the notorious outlaw. She didn’t know what she expected to see, but it sure wasn’t a blonde, blue eyed young man, apparently wearing nothing but a sheet.
Bess leaned towards Mrs. Parker and in a stage whisper advised, “He ain’t decent ma’am. You ought not be in here alone with him. It ain’t proper.”
“Don’t worry Bess. The guards are right outside the door and I’m not really alone as long as I have this.” She nodded towards the gun she still had in her hand.
Bess dared another look. This time the outlaw smiled and gave her a quick wink with his baby blues that set her all a twitter. Her cheeks turned as pink as berries, and she quickly looked away.
The Kid couldn’t help a little chuckle. Finally, a woman that was responding properly to his charms.
“Well, I have more pie if he wants it, ma’am.”
“He isn’t a guest, Bess, he’s our prisoner.” Mrs. Parker was not amused.
“Just the same, if I can get the young gentlemen anything else…..” She took another peek. The Kid smiled at her again. As he always told his partner, it never hurt to get on the good side of the cook.
“He’s gettin’ a bit scruffy around the edges, ma’am. I used to barber all my brothers back home. I’ll soon be back to give him a shave.”
“Alright, Bess. Tell the maids to come and change his linens, too.”
“Yes’m” with one last look, the aging beauty took her leave.
Mrs. Parker turned her attention back to the Kid. “I’m going to unlock your good hand and let you feed yourself. Mind you, I’ll be sitting right here in this chair with my gun on you the whole time.”
Kid rolled his eyes. “Yes, ma’am. I don’t know where you think I’d go with just a sheet and a bum arm.“ he eyed the derringer warily. “But, yeah, Mrs. Parker. I‘ll stay out a trouble and just eat. If‘n that‘s ok with you.”
“That’ll be fine. After your meal you’ll have a real bath and a shave. And we’ll find you some long johns. I’ll be moving you back to the jail as soon as the doctor approves of it, hopefully tomorrow.”
It had been several days since he had kept down anything but broth and tea. This time he seemed to be doing pretty well with the soup and toast, but he just picked at the rest. It was just as well, he was not fully recovered and she was in no mood to deal with his nausea again. While he finished his meal some men brought in a bathtub and filled it with buckets of hot steaming water.
She discreetly looked out the window while the men helped him into his bath, and spied an unexpected visitor approaching her house.
What on earth is he doing here, she silently asked herself. She watched the citified Mr. Henry Hubble walk his distinctive walk all the way to her front door. Looking up, he tipped his hat, giving her the same dimpled smile she had seen him use back at the general store. With a sigh, she returned a restrained nod. Who she really wanted to see was Hannibal Heyes, not an inconsequential city slicker. Already disinterested, she turned to supervise the blonde gunman, soap bubbles strategically bobbing, as he bathed with his one good arm.
It wasn’t long before Heyes found himself standing before her door with her foreman, Levi. Giving it a knock, he shot Heyes a glance that clearly carried a threat. “Mr. Hubble, I don’t know how you got this job, but since you’re here I’ll go ahead and see if she‘ll let you in. If you know what‘s good for you, you won‘t go wastin‘ her time.”
Pushing back his spectacles, Heyes innocently shook his head. “Oh, no sir, I wouldn’t even consider such a thing.”
“Come in” ordered a female voice.
Levi stepped in first, leaving Heyes waiting in the hall.
“Boss, there’s a Henry Hubble here to see you. He says he’s here to deliver Mr. Blake’s report and has the proper paperwork. If you don‘t want to see him I‘ll boot him on out, ma‘am. Just say the word.”
The Kid was still taking his bath and looked at Mrs. Parker imploringly. “I’m tryin’ to take a bath here, ma’am. There‘s already too many folks around, do you really need to have a meetin’ in here too?”
Mrs. Parker looked at the Kid unsympathetically. She certainly wasn’t going to change her schedule around to accommodate this outlaw’s sensibilities, and she definitely wasn’t going to leave someone else to supervise while he was uncuffed.
The Kid saw the look in her eye, but figured he would give it one more try. “Please, Mrs. Parker, no more people.”
“Send him in, Levi.”
“Aw, geesh. Invite the whole town in, why don’t ya‘. The deputies can take turns scrubbin’ my back. ” moaned the Kid in dismay.
From the hall Heyes could hear his partner’s voice. It sounded like he was in distress, pleading and begging. He had heard all over town how everyone wanted the Kid dead, and he could only presume that his care had reflected this attitude. He didn’t know how long he would be able to keep up the act if he had to witness his partner’s pain and neglect.
Levi motioned for him to enter, and then took off to see about his other duties. As the foreman disappeared down the hall, Heyes heard him mutter, “I can’t believe she’s treatin’ him like that.” Dreading what he was about to see, Heyes resignedly stepped into the room.
There, sitting in a steamy bubble bath, was Kid Curry, looking a little pale and in a sling, but otherwise appearing well. Two young pretty maids were putting clean linens on his bed and plumping his pillows. A brand new pair of long underwear were laid out and waiting for him. Next to the bath on a chair was a stack of clean, white fluffy towels. His face was covered with shaving cream and a lovely, petite older lady was fussing over him, giving him a shave while he sat in the steamy tub. Not far away was a cart full of food that looked like…yes, steak and pie! And overseeing it all was the green eyed, raven haired Mrs. Sophie Parker.
At first Heyes felt nothing but overwhelming relief. But his convoluted emotions soon morphed into being downright peeved. He had been worried to distraction for days about the well being of his cousin, and here he was sitting in the lap of luxury, pretty gals waiting on him hand and foot, getting better treatment than they’d ever had at the finest hotels during their best hurrahs.
The Kid’s blue eyes got as big as saucers. He began to say something, but slapped his good hand over his mouth, just in the nick of time.
“Now, you must hold still, Mr. Kid, or I might cut ya.“ cooed Bess. The Kid just kept his hand over his mouth, not trusting himself to keep from blurting out something that would certainly endanger them both.
Heyes was uncharacteristically speechless. Up to this point he had been his usual cocky self, patting himself on the back at having everything under control. But what he found had set him off balance; he was staring at the Kid with his mouth hanging, like clothes drying on a line.
“ Mr. Hubble?” All Mrs. Parker could conclude from his behavior, was that Henry had never seen an outlaw before and was mute from terror.
“Mr. Hubble, don’t be concerned with him. When he isn’t restrained we have a gun on him at all times. You have no reason to be afraid.” She nodded towards the gun in her hand.
Heyes was unresponsive. He just stood there staring, rolling the brim of his hat in his hands, apparently from nerves.
“Mr Hubble? I presume there is a reason for this visit? Mr. Hubble?” She sighed with annoyance. This is why she didn’t like dealing with city folk. They weren’t equipped with the grit and gumption needed for life in the west.
Heyes quickly worked to regain some composure. If there was ever a time for his silver tongue to leap into action, this was it.
“Uh, yes ma’am, sorry. I’m just not used to dangerous outlaws, is all.” He shot an irritated glance at his cousin, who just rolled his eyes at him, and finally turned to face her. The time had come to weave his web of deception on the lovely lady standing before him. He took a deep breath and began.
To be continued…
I didn't plan to leave this with such an obnoxious cliffhanger, but if I had gone on and finished the scene, it would have put me over the word limit. Many apologies.....
"If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning." Mae West
Posts : 537
Join date : 2013-08-24
Location : London
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:42 pm|| |
A Fowl And His Money
The Kid looked down at the sack. “You just don’t put the efforts into your schemes that you used to, Heyes.” He held out the bag so the protesting chicken could be thrust inside. “I remember the days when you’d have spent a week plottin’, and then find a way to make old man Williams bring the birds to you. Sneakin’ into a barn seems a bit of a comedown.”
“And I remember when I was the talkative one,” Heyes darted an irritated glance at his partner. “Will you shut up? You know we don’t have a week.”
“Well don’t,” Heyes trod quietly over to the door. “Come on. Let’s get outta here.”
The door groaned softly into the night while two ex-outlaws skulked among the shadows, avoiding the thin moonlight fighting through the clouds. The booted feet crept towards the shrubbery where a pair of horses nickered patiently.
Clang! The dull thunk of a booted foot on a discarded galvanised bucket caused breath to bate and nerves to tense. A cacophony of barking filled the air and a light appeared at a window before the door of the farmhouse was dragged open against the backdrop of a two figures running towards a thicket.
“Stop right there or I fire!”
The shotgun pellets pattered around the partners who stood stock still, Heyes still bearing the sack containing a fluttering, protesting fowl whose angry ‘bwoks’ helped the furious farmer hone in on the chicken-raiders loitering in the shadows. “Ah told ya to stop.”
“Yeah, you did,” muttered the Kid, “but you still fired.”
“Billy Bob, let the dogs out. They’ll keep an eye on this pair while I send your brother to fetch the law.”
“The dogs ain’t getting along, Pa.” A gangly youth appeared, holding up a lantern with one hand and scratching his loose backside with the other. “Prince and Rocky’ve been fightin’ a lot. They’re more likely to go for each other than them.”
“I don’t care if they’re plannin’ on elopin’, Billy Bob.” The famer raised his shotgun threateningly. “Get ‘em out here and let ‘em earn their chuck.”
The Kid shook his head ruefully. “I knew this was a mistake. Chicken stealin’? What a stupid way to end up in jail.”
“I couldn’t agree more, my friend,” the farmer gathered up a great glob of phlegm from the back of his throat before spitting out to the side, “but you decided to go thievin’. Where are those dogs, Billy Bob?”
“Bobby Bill’s gone to let them out, Pa.”
“Bobby Bill and Billy Bob?” Heyes cheeks dimpled. “Any more at home? A sister maybe?”
The boy shifted uneasily from foot to foot. “Why’s he askin’ about Bobby Jo, Pa?”
“Bobby Jo?” Heyes grinned cheekily.
“Leave my daughter out of this,” snapped the farmer. “Billy Bob, go fetch the law. I’m gonna see this pair of low-life chicken-thieves locked up.”
Heyes stepped forward. “Now, sir. This isn’t what it looks like. I can explai...”
The shotgun was thrust in Heyes’ face. “None o’ that. You can explain to the law. I ain’t gonna fall for none o’ your soft soap.” An unsavoury smile spread over the man’s uneven features. “You’re gonna rue the day ya stole from Joe Bob Williams.”
Heyes delivered his most welcoming smile to the lawman following Billy Bob into the kitchen. “At last. Am I glad to see you!”
The Kid pushed away the large, droopy-eyed hound slobbering into his lap. “Can you get him to call off these dogs? I’m gettin’ soaked here.” He pulled his feet away from the black and tan companion mutt trying to separate him from his boot. “Prince! Leggo; I won’t tell you again.”
“Sheriff Robert Smallwood,” he put his hands on his hips and looked around the unkempt kitchen. “Mr. Williams says that he caught you two stealing his new, prize-winning chicken.” He blinked at the proud cockerel strutting around the room, sweeping the floor with an extravagant arrangement of snowy plumes. “That’s a chicken? It looks like one of those fancy feather dusters they’re selling at the store. The wife wants one, but I reckon it’s a waste of money,” he frowned, “especially if you can grow your own. Does that dust the floor?”
“No, it don’t dust the floor. Its job is to provide me with the best clutch of chickabiddies this side of the Mississippi. There’s money in that there bird. He’s a prize-winner. A Red Saddled White Yokohama, all the way from China, or Japan or somewhere like that.” All eyes watched the strutting puff of feathers twitch its head to peer through the elaborate crest. “It’s a fine thing. You can just see him walkin’ about the room watchin’ the fine ladies drink their whiskey, can’t ya? Real classy; he’s like chicken royalty. If he could speak, he wouldn’t talk to any of us.”
They all watched the cock spread his wings and nestle in front of the fire like a grand dame settling in down in her crinolines. “He’s a stud?” Smallwood asked, incredulously.
“The males are the showy ones in the bird world. They ain’t like us where the womenfolk do all the primpin’ and preenin’.”
All eyes drifted over to a gormless Billy Bob, attracted by the squeak of the stretching, gap-toothed yawn. “You can say that again,” muttered the Kid.
“Names,” Smallwood demanded, glaring at the partners.
“I’m Joshua Smith,” Heyes smiled innocently, “and this here’s my friend, Thaddeus Jones.”
“Smith and Jones, huh?” Smallwood smiled, wryly. “Well, I guess chicken thieves aren’t known for their imagination.”
Heyes blinked innocently in a faux-masculine eyelash flutter. “We’re not chicken thieves, sheriff.”
“The hell you ain’t,” snorted Williams. “I caught you red-handed, with ole Hannibal in the sack.”
Heyes’ Adam’s apple bobbed in surprise. “Hannibal?”
“Yeah,” Williams pointed at the ball of plumage enjoying the heat of the range. “Ma cockerel.”
The Kid smirked at his cousin. “You called him Hannibal?”
“Yeah.” Williams peered through a pair of hirsute brows at the gunman. “You got a problem with that?”
The smile spread to a grin. “Nope. It suits it. Full of hot air, a bit noisy and flashy, thinks he’s cock of the walk; but when it comes down to it, old Hannibal still has to scratch around in the dirt like the rest of us.”
“Ah like the name Hannibal. He took the elephants through cartilage. Have you seen the size of them things? That’s what I call a real man,” Williams nodded towards his prize foul. “That’s the kind of determination I’m lookin’ for in a cock.”
“Yeah, I’m sure Hannibal’s pretty determined,” the Kid nodded, sympathetically. “It’s just a shame he makes so much noise. It can be darn near impossible to shut a Hannibal up, I hear.”
The sheriff’s eyes glittered suspiciously. “You’re a student of history?”
“Nope,” amused blue eyes turned on his partner. “I just had an interest in Hannibal. He kinda caught my imagination too. I like the idea of a showy rooster bein’ named after him. It seems real fittin’.”
Smallwood reached into his back pocket and pulled out two pairs of handcuffs. “Stand up and turn around.”
“What for?” Heyes demanded.
“For theft of a chicken called Hannibal.” Smallwood hooked Williams with a questioning glance. “You’ve searched them?”
“Yeah, took the guns off both ‘o them,” the farmer nodded. “I wasn’t takin’ no chances with no chicken thieves; especially when they’re as loco as this pair. They try to steal your rooster and then keep askin’ if I’ve come into money.”
Smallwood rolled his eyes. “Yeah, real desperados. You two look more like card sharps than the type who creep around a farmyard in the dark. What’s your story?”
“We’re not chicken thieves,” Heyes protested. “We’re security men and we’re working for the Governor of Wyoming.”
“How can you say you ain’t a chicken thief?” Billy Bob grabbed the sack from the table. You had ole Hannibal in this and was sneakin’ off when we caught ya.”
Heyes nodded. “Sure I did, but I wasn’t stealing.”
“Here! Don’t you go saying that bird ain’t mine,” Heyes pulled back from the malodorous fumes assaulting his sensibilities as Williams stuck his angry face in his. “I bought him fair and square this evenin’ at the county fair. I got dozens of witnesses.”
Heyes nodded. “Yup. I saw you too. You paid for him.”
“I’ve heard enough,” Smallwood snapped. “You two; on your feet. You’re under arrest for theft.”
“But we didn’t steal anything,” Heyes insisted. “What’s the definition of theft?”
The sheriff clanked the handcuffs in his hands. “Definition? You a lawyer?”
“Nope, but it’s how I’m going to prove I’m not a thief. I took the chicken but I didn’t steal it.” Heyes folded his arms. “There’s a difference.”
The farmer gave an angry snort. “It ain’t. It’s the same.”
“Nope,” determined brown eyes fixed on the sheriff. “Tell Mr. Williams the definition of theft.”
“Let me see,” huffed Smallwood. “I haven’t got my book so it might not be word for word, but it’s petty larceny. It’s the taking of property of another person by whatever means by theft, openly, fraud, trickery, force, or some such; if an intent exists to convert that property to one's own use against the wishes of the owner.” The lawman arched an eyebrow. “Now, Mr. Lawyer; you tell me how you weren’t stealing that chicken when you had it in a sack and was sneaking off into the night with it.”
The Kid dropped his head. “Yeah, tell him, Joshua. I’m looking forward to this myself.”
“You said it yourself, Mr. Smallwood,” Heyes slipped into his best poker face. “’If an intent exists to convert that property to one's own use against the wishes of the owner.’” The cheeks dimpled. “You don’t want to do all that paperwork to lock us up for nothing, do you? Hannibal is Mr. William’s property. I was borrowing the bird, not stealing it. He’d have got it back as soon as I’d finished with it.”
The sheriff shuffled impatiently. “Yeah? Tell it to the judge.”
“Don’t you worry, I will.” Heyes stood, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I only ask one thing.”
“That you bring the chicken with us.”
The farmer turned puce. “You ain’t takin’ ma Hannibal anywhere.”
“So your defence is that you were borrowing a chicken and you think Judge Corbett is going to fall for that?” The lawman started to chuckle. “Good luck, but I can’t wait to hear why two grown men need to borrow a rooster in the middle of the night.”
Williams jaw dropped open. “He’ll be wanting to breed with him!”
“Huh?” the Kid’s brow crinkled.
“He’ll have his own henhouse and he’ll want the whole brood sired by my champion!” William’s fist crashed down on the kitchen table. “I ain’t havin’ it. I bought that bird fair and square and his poot belongs to me.”
Smallwood nodded. “He’s right, Smith. As soon as he bought that rooster, he bought the right to breed from him.”
“Can I have a word with you in private, sheriff?” Heyes sighed.
“Anythin’ you got to say to the sheriff, you can say to me,” Williams scowled. “I ain’t havin’ you honey-tonguin’ that bird out from under me.”
“Let’s hear what he’s got to say,” Smallwood sighed. “I can’t take much more of this. I’ve never heard the like.”
The Kid shrugged. “And you think he’s gonna be any better when you lock him in a cell? It’ll be alright for you; you can leave. I’ll be locked up with him.”
The sheriff drew Heyes over to conspiratorial huddle in the corner. “Go on. Let’s have it.”
“Well, my friend and I are working for the Governor of Wyoming as I explained to you. We were paid to escort his niece here to visit her fiancé’s parents.”
“Parents? Who are they?”
“The Howden’s, over at the Hill House.”
The sheriff nodded. “The doctor and his wife?”
“Yes.” Heyes glanced back over at the chicken which blinked into the fire. “And she’s been getting on just fine. We met her today at the county fair. She had been enjoying the day, looking at the animals, listening to the band; you know the kind of thing.”
“Do you ever get to the point, Smith? You make me feel like I’m on the wrong side of the latrine door.”
“When we met her today she was in a panic. She had been given her Doctor Howden’s Grandmother’s ring and apparently it’s a real beauty. She brought it all the way from the old country, you know.”
The sheriff rattled the handcuffs. “The point, Smith.”
“I’m getting there. Well, she was real upset when met her and you know what it’s like to deal with a woman in tears, don’t you, sheriff?”
Weary grey eyes stared at the ex-outlaw leader. “Is it worse than dealing with you?”
Heyes ignored the jibe and continued. “Well, anyway. She’d lost it.”
“I know the feeling.”
“Paw!” Billy Bob pointed down to the clucking bundle of plumage now strutting around the floor. “Hannibal done messed on Billy Jo’s rag rug. She’ll be real mad. She spent weeks makin’ that.”
Heyes head snapped around, suddenly interested. “Messed?”
“Tarnation! Git that bird back in its box, Billy Bob. Billy Jo is gonna kill us. She’s real particular about critters in her kitchen since the pig did that...” he eyed the assembled company, “thing...”
“Let me see that,” the Kid strode over and examined the white residue staining the fireside rug. Sharp blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he pulled a bandana from his pocket and lifted something from the rug. “Gottcha.”
Gleaming brown eyes fixed on the bandana. “That’s it?”
“It sure is, Joshua. See for yourself.”
“What!? What’ve you got?”
“The Governor’s niece’s engagement ring,” Heyes grinned. “She was in bits when we met her and we eventually worked out she’d been feeding the fanciest chicken she ever saw in her life. She said it was beautiful.”
“She said it looked like a Paris Bonnet,” the Kid chuckled. “The man who sold it told us who’d bought it and where to find it. We grew up on farms, so we both know you don’t put a new chicken straight in the run. It’ll be attacked. You gotta let them get used to one another; so it was still gonna be in a box on its own. When we arrived here it was still in the same coup so when we couldn’t find the ring in there we knew where it had to be.”
“Inside?” Smallwood strode over to examine the sparkling item being polished off by the Kid. “It is. It’s a diamond ring.”
“We had to get it back to her. We promised the Governor we’d get her safely here and back to Denver.” Heyes beamed his most innocent smile. “We’re men of our word and we never tried to take the chicken. We only tried to borrow it until it returned the ring. That’s where there’s a difference between taking a chicken and stealing a chicken.”
“And I suppose Doc Howden will back all this up?” the sheriff queried.
The Kid nodded. “Escort us back to their place and you’ll soon find out. They’ll tell you themselves.”
“With no paperwork,” Heyes asserted. “All’s well that ends well.”
“No it ain’t,” Williams wailed. “I bought that bird and everythin’ that comes out of it. That ring is mine.”
“You see,” Heyes threw out an arm in William’s direction. “This is why we didn’t knock the door and ask him to help. We knew he’d try to keep the ring.”
The sheriff let out a long, pensive breath. “The way I see it, you paid for a fancy chicken and you got a fancy chicken. If the Doc and the Governor’s niece can identify this ring you can fight them for it in court. This isn’t for me to decide. A chicken can’t steal. It can’t understand enough. I’d have to say it’s like a legal idiot and that’s a defence for a judge to decide.”
“So I just get parted from it? That don’t seem fair,” William’s protested.
“At least the chicken left you a deposit,” Heyes chuckled.
“Yeah,” Smallwood smiled for the first time since his arrival. “Find the cat. Most people put money in the kitty.” He stared around the room. All eyes were fixed on him, including the black, beady ones peering through bountiful plumage; but a stony silence fell like coal from a wagon. “What? That’s funny. How come the lawman never gets a laugh?”
I was inspired in chat to write this story by people talking about points of law about taking and riding away versus stealing a horse and keeping it: equating horse stealing to car crime. So I wrote part of this and then could not think of a reason why anyone would steal a chicken without having the permanent intention to deprive the owner of his poultry; they just take it for a short time; the taking isn't permanent. It's a point of law and Heyes would love that. So I wrote this and then couldn't figure out why anyone would take a chicken for a short time. Who do you go to to get a chicken stealing plot? Who do you go to for any twisty plot? Silverkelpie - that's who! Thanks SK. We can only say that it's a good thing you use your twisted mind for good.
Posts : 505
Join date : 2013-10-14
Location : Wherever the 'mooo'd takes me
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:33 am|| |
Hi everyone - I tend to be more of reader than a writer, but after reading all of your wonderful stories I thought I would dip my toe in the water.
Thanks, Distant drums
Heyes spat on his hand and held it out, a fierce determination fired the brown eyes. Equally steady green eyes glared from under a shock of red hair, mimicked the movement. Shaking hands, a contest of strength.
Brown and red-headed figures both knelt on the ground focusing on the dice in hand. The blond figure remained standing, apparently at ease, but ready as a coiled spring. He had his cousin’s back.
An angry, indignant cry filled the air. A fist clenched but never landed as Curry grabbed the wrist.
“You lost, now pay up.”
With a sulk and a huff the debt was paid in full. The loser turned and walk away, kicking at stones, every one the face of Hannibal Heyes.
The two boys raced each other at the sound of the school bell.
“How did you know he was cheatin’?” Curry shouted over his shoulder, out-sprinting his friend.
“’Cos I was cheatin’ better.”
Rome wasn't built in a day, but some of it was. Like a bit of a wall or a chunk of a bridge.
Posts : 107
Join date : 2014-03-27
Location : Paris
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:58 am|| |
This is a self-imposed challenge to write dialogue (which is what I find the scariest as a non- native english speaker). I would appreciate very much your feedback not only on what worked but also on what didn't, so as to try and improve.
Where did it all go ?
"Kid, will you stop sulking ? I said I'm sorry."
Kid Curry glared at his partner. "No point bein' sorry after the fact. Did you have to wipe these fellas out ? In a penny ante game ? No wonder they got suspicious of us."
"The way they played, they were begging to lose," pleaded Heyes with a conciliatory gesture. "You know what they say, Kid, a fool and his money are soon parted. And as far as suspicious goes, your quick draw didn't help any."
"Next time I'll let them shoot you. I'm sick of hightailin' it because of how you attract attention at the poker table."
"No need to get proddy," Heyes tried again. "We shook that posse off, didn't we"?
"Yes, but we had to leave all the money behind. And here we are again, cold and wet, nothin' to eat but jerky..." Curry's belly growled. "I was countin' on hot food and a bed tonight."
"Maybe I wouldn't have to risk all at poker if you hadn't given your last ten dollars to this girl we met at the stagecoach depot," Heyes snapped, finally out of patience. "She wasn't even THAT easy on the eye."
The blond man shifted uneasily and continued in a milder tone. "What was I supposed to do ? Leave her stranded there without so much as the money for a ticket back East ? That's not very gentlemanly, Heyes."
Heyes rolled his eyes and sighed, his irritation forgotten. "Why'd you always have to rescue every damsel in distress ? Each time it gets us into trouble. 'Sides, as of late it's US who're the fellas in distress, or haven't you noticed ? If you wanna keep your chances at a hot meal and a soft bed, you gotta learn to hold to your money better."
"Yeah, about that," the Kid countered stubbornly. "Have to get paid first ! I didn't see you gettin' any money for that delivery job in Silvercreek."
"Aww, Kid, the old-timer could hardly afford it. I didn't expect to find him all alone, with his leg busted and his shed empty. He coulda frozen to death coming winter."
"So, you had to spend three days with him, fixin' the roof, cuttin' wood, restockin' his pantry ? Playin' the Good Samaritan will end up ruinin' your infamous reputation, Heyes."
"Don't worry about my reputation. One Good Samaritan is enough in this partnership. With all the money you distributed to the underdog while we were thieving we coulda bought us a new life in South America," the dark-haired man waved a dismissive hand in the hypothetical direction of the said continent.
"But ...". Curry's hurt expression didn't linger. Regaining his composure, he drawled "Ain't that better than to spend it on hooch and whores, like you did ?"
"I DID NOT !" Heyes exclaimed indignantly. "I had to provide for the gang, made sure the buildings and the pathways in the Hole were in good shape, kept our network of informants happy and willing, bought us the good graces of the neighboring towns, ...," he interrupted his heated enumeration, trying to size up his partner's expression. "I did indulge in some of the pleasures of life, but so did ...," he blinked as the Kid finally let a wide grin take hold of his face.
The partners exchanged sheepish glances.
"Thinking how much money we collected, in all the trains and banks we robbed, and how little's left of it makes me dizzy. Where did it all go"? moaned Heyes.
"Slipped through our hands, like the water slippin' from the gold pan. You know what they say ? ..."
"Yeah, Kid, yeah, I know : two fools and their money ..."
Last edited by EvaHanley on Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:28 am; edited 3 times in total
Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:45 pm|| |
Two bunnies hopped but wouldn't flow before this one cleaved itself together last minute (very last minute). I'm not terribly happy with it but thought I'd put it out there to have something to offer. Suggestions welcome.
DissonanceKid Curry rode into the yard of the Devil's Hole compound. Jumping down, he hitched his gelding to the post in front of the leader's cabin and looked around. All was quiet, perhaps too much so for late morning, but it was hot.
Pulling the hat from his head, he blew out a breath as a forearm wiped the sweaty brow. The warm breeze should have taken care of it, but active riding increased perspiration even in much cooler weather. He grabbed a pair of canteens from his saddle and took the porch steps by two. Opening the door, he found his partner hunched over the table, his torso bare and glistening with perspiration.
"You been doin' chores?"
Curry set his gear on a sideboard whilst unbuttoning his shirt. "A little cooler in here, Heyes. You shouldn't be sweatin' so much."
Heyes' eyes never left the papers spread out in front of him.
"Where is everybody? Save for you and me and Thompson on guard, nobody's around."
"I know." He sighed.
Kid removed the outer shirt and wadded it up, throwing it through the open door of his bedroom. He picked the coffee pot off the stove and shook it. "No coffee?"
Curry scanned the room. Spying a pitcher, he grabbed a glass and poured himself a drink. "Ah, lemonade." He emptied it in one long gulp. Swallowing, his eyes widened, cheeks hollowed, lips puckered. "That's sour!" He shook his head quickly, squeaked out, "Needs sugar -- lots of it!"
Curry recovered. "Lemons but no sugar? Did the boys go for supplies?"
Kid placed his glass on the table and walked behind Heyes. He peered down at the sheets that held his partner's attention. "How's the plannin' goin'?"
"Okay, I guess. Maybe not so good." Heyes shrugged and wiped his brow.
"Too hot to concentrate for too long."
"It's summer. Pretty bad in the flatland, so could be worse here." Curry clapped a hand on Heyes' shoulder. Grabbing another mug, he set lemonade on the table. "That'll cool ya off some, with a cold water chaser anyway." He turned on his heel. "I'll get some fresh from the river."
Heyes gestured at several mugs on the table. "Got plenty right here."
"I'm gettin' it for me."
Curry walked the slope to the river, more a small stream rushing downhill. Kneeling, he floated a bucket along the top, filling it quickly. Setting it aside, he reached a cupped hand into the water and drank, smiled in satisfaction and repeated the action. Sighing contentedly, he stretched his head back, beholding a perfect blue sky with white puffy clouds. The sun felt good on his face for a moment, although shade from a nearby tree beckoned. Sitting beneath it, he pulled off his boots and socks and rolled his jeans and long johns to his knees. Sinking his feet into the water, he sat thus for a few minutes before reclining to his elbows. Yawning, he stretched out fully on his back and closed his eyes.
By the time Curry stirred, the sun had advanced further west. He reckoned it to be about three o'clock. Stretching mightily, he noticed the rush of the water against the rocks and the slight rustle of branches in the breeze. Otherwise, all was still. Too still.
Gathering his belongings in one hand and bucket in the other, he ambled barefoot back to the cabin. His gelding neighed at him. "Sorry, boy. Guess I'm used to the boys takin' care of ya. I'll be right out."
Entering the cabin, he found Heyes as before. "Still at it? Take a break."
Heyes finally looked up. He stretched. "Still got a lot to do."
Curry caught his partner's eye. "Thought you'd've been done by now."
"You get any sleep while I was away?"
Curry noted the empty mugs on the table. He picked up the coffeepot and shook lightly -- empty, as before. "Heyes, how long you been sittin'?"
"All day, I suppose. And the day before that, and the week before that."
"And you're not done yet?"
Kid leaned on the table. "You ain't even asked me how my trip went. Aren't ya interested?"
Curry leaned against a wall. "Well, I drummed the bank and the railhead. Easy targets, both of 'em, like ya thought, but they're not expectin' a payroll 'til summer's over. Been warmer than normal up here, but down there it's swelterin' -- the hottest summer anybody can remember. The mines shut down until it cools off, and everybody's just layin' around, not doin' a whole lot." He smiled. "Imagine that, Heyes, those old mine-ownin' fools not worryin' 'bout their money for once, just leavin' town to find somewhere to cool off. Guess even they have their breakin' point."
Heyes listened intently. A hand wiped his face. He smiled. "Good."
"What about all the plannin'?"
Heyes stood. "Didn't really get that much done. Too many distractions."
"But it's quiet just like ya need it when you're workin' out a job."
"The boys done a really good job of that."
"And ...? You never did say where they were."
"They've been staying away. Fishing and swimming, last I heard. Staying cool, camping out, leaving me all alone so there was quiet ... But it's been TOO quiet! And too warm." He grabbed his hat and holster. "No job in this heat." He walked toward the door.
Curry stayed planted.
Heyes looked at him. "You coming?"
Kid's brow furrowed. "Where?"
"Fishing. You been riding too much in the heat, Kid. All work and no play and all that. You need to get your head under the water and cool off."
"Ya don't have to ask twice." Curry grinned and followed his partner out the door.
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
|Subject: Re: A Fool And His Money || |
A Fool And His Money