Two riders rode at breakneck speed through the winding mountain pass. Behind them, a cloud of dust and the sound of thundering hooves told them the posse was still in pursuit. The distance between them was slowly increasing.
“Heyes, do you know where you’re goin’?” Kid Curry yelled over the noise. He looked back at the oncoming group.
Hannibal Heyes, blood seeping through his shirt at his upper arm, used the reins to urge his horse to keep going over the uneven trail. “There should be a big bend in the pass on up just a ways. Once we pass it, there’s a small hidden path that veers off to the left. You’d pass it right up if you didn’t know it was there. There’s a tree in front of it.”
“Good thing the road is mostly rock. Maybe they won’t notice our change of direction.”
Up ahead, the road started to turn. They hurried around the bend and slowed their horses. Heyes spotted the tree he was looking for and guided his mare behind it onto a hidden pathway. Curry followed close behind. They rode behind a rocky outcropping and waited. Perspiration covered both faces as they heard five sets of galloping hooves fly past their hidden alcove.
“Those posses seem to get closer every time,” Heyes said as he put a hand up to his bloody left arm.
Curry watched him intently. “How bad did that bullet get you?”
“I think it just grazed me, but it hurts like heck.” Heyes unbuttoned his shirt and pulled his Henley up over the offending appendage. “How’s it look?”
Curry leaned closer to inspect the wound. The bullet had indeed just grazed across Heyes’ upper left arm, but it had left a nasty gash in its wake. “It’s a little deep. Definitely gonna need to be stitched up. We better find a town with a doc in it. Don’t want that gettin’ infected.”
Heyes nodded his head in agreement as Curry helped him tie a bandana around his wounded arm. “If I remember correctly, this trail here leads to the other side of the mountain and meets up with another road. We’ll go that way and try to find civilization.” They pointed their horses down the trail and rode off, looking back every now and then to make sure the posse hadn’t returned.
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By afternoon, they had made it to a small town.
“Blue Hole Springs,” Curry read as they passed a sign. “Never heard of it.”
“And hopefully, they’ve never heard of us,” Heyes stated as he looked the place over. “No saloon, no hotel, just a jailhouse, a doctor’s office, a church, and a couple of general stores. Looks like it’s just a stopover place to stock up on supplies. Let’s check out the sheriff’s office.”
They had to ride past the jailhouse to get to the doctor’s office. “Sheriff Darrell Connors. Never heard of him, either.” The Kid smiled. Nonchalantly, they kept on going and pulled up in front of the doc’s office.
“I hate doctors’ offices.” Heyes dismounted and wrapped his reins around the hitching post. “Couldn’t you have just fixed me up?”
Curry was busy with his own reins. “We didn’t have the stuff to patch you up proper; you know that. We didn’t even have any whiskey to pour on it. C’mon, let’s get it over with and get goin’ to a place that has a restaurant and hotel.”
“A nice warm bed would be nice tonight.”
“And a good hot meal.”
Heyes smirked at Curry as they entered the doctor’s office. “Hello?”
“Just a second…” Some noise emanated from a back room and a short, round man walked in wiping his glasses. “Howdy. I’m Doc Lee Simpson. Can I help you fellas?”
“Yes, sir, you can,” Heyes said shaking the man’s hand. “I’m Joshua Smith and this is Thaddeus Jones. We were passing by outside of town on our way to Denver when a snake spooked my horse. I hate to admit it, but I fell off as she reared. Hit my arm and cut it on a pretty sharp piece of sandstone. Think it might need a couple of stitches.”
“Come on back and let’s take a look at it.” Doc Simpson led the way back to an examining room and patted a table. “Sit here.” Heyes sat down on the table and once again unbuttoned his shirt and pulled up his Henley as Curry took a seat in the corner.
Doc Simpson went over and took off the bandana. “Looks like the bleeding has almost completely stopped. A couple of stitches and you’ll be right as rain.” He went over to a cabinet and collected the things he would need. Returning to the table, he started cleaning Heyes’ wound. Heyes winced a couple of times as the doc gently scrubbed the injury. “Alright, young man, I’m ready to start stitching so sit still.” He carefully pulled the pieces of skin together and pushed the needle in. “So, you two just passing through, huh?”
“Yeah. On our way to Denver. Heard there might be a couple of jobs there for us,” Curry said from the corner. Heyes was busy grinding his teeth as the sewing continued.
“Is that so? Well, you better be a little more careful or you won’t make it there in one piece.” Simpson pulled the last stitch through and tied it off. “There you go. I’ll just go get a bandage to wrap around it to keep the dirt out.” He walked back over to the cabinet. After a moment of searching, he looked back to Heyes. “Looks like I’m fresh out of bandages. You stay put and I’ll run down the street to the general store and pick some up. Be right back.”
Before either ex-outlaw could protest, the doc was gone out of the examining room and front doors. They looked at each other and Curry shrugged his shoulders. A second later, he asked, “How much money we got? We could stand to pick up a couple of supplies while we’re here.”
Heyes dug in his pockets and produced five dollars. “This is all I have. Don’t you have any?”
“Well, I guess we can get a couple of things before we head out of here. I’ll ask the doc how far it is to a town with a hotel when he comes back.” They sat in companionable silence. A couple of moments later, they both looked toward the front door as they heard it open. They shared a look as two sets of boots were heard coming in. Curry stood and was getting ready to investigate when the examining room door opened almost hitting him. He stepped back as Doc Simpson came in followed by a man with a tin star on his chest and a six-gun drawn.
“This them?” Sheriff Darrell Connors asked, shutting the door.
“Yes, sir, Sheriff. That there is Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, no doubt in my mind,” the Doc said stepping out of the way.
“Well then, boys, I guess you’re under arrest.”
Heyes gave the sheriff his most charming, innocent smile. “What’s this all about? Surely, you don’t think we could be those two disreputable outlaws?”
“Oh yes you are,” Doc Simpson piped in. “I know that for a fact. I was on a train you two stopped just a couple of years ago. Got a real good look at the both of you as I was led off the train. I’d know you anywhere.”
“You’re mistaken, Doc. We’re just two drifters passing through.”
“No I’m not. And just so’s you know, I can tell a bullet graze when I see one.”
“Alright, boys, take your gun belts off slowly and throw them over here,” Sheriff Connors said. They both sighed and then complied with the demand. “Now Doc, if you’d be so kind as to pick them up and hand them to me, then you can finish with your patient before I lock ‘em up.”
Simpson retrieved the holsters then went over to bandage up Heyes’ arm. He refused to look at Heyes or Curry in the eyes. He hurriedly finished and once again stepped out of the way.
The sheriff waved his gun at the two wanted men. “Let’s go, boys. And don’t try anything foolish. I don’t like to shoot a man, but if I have to, I will.”
Heyes and Curry stepped through the door and left the office followed by Connors. “Sheriff, you don’t understand. The doc there is mistaken. Lots of people resemble those two and we just happen to be two of them. My name is Joshua Smith and this is Thaddeus Jones. We’re on our way to Denver to take a couple of jobs. Thaddeus even has a girl waiting on him there.”
“I’m sorry, fellas, but I’m inclined to believe Doc Simpson. He’s never led me wrong before. Besides, on the off chance that he actually is mistaken, then you have nothing to worry about. You’ll be out as soon as I can confirm who you are.”
They walked the short distance down the street to the jailhouse. Reluctantly, the two ex-outlaws walked in the office and entered an empty cell. Connors swung the door shut and locked it. “Make yourselves comfortable, boys. I’ll bring you dinner in a few hours.”
“Yeah, get reeeal comfortable, boys! You’re just in time to watch the show!” The voice had come from the cell across from Heyes and Curry. They looked over and saw a rough, mean-looking individual who obviously had never learned the concept of bathing.
Connors turned to him. “I told you to keep quiet. You ain’t gonna intimidate me into letting you go. Now settle down, Wilson.” He turned to go back to his desk in the front of the office.
“You’re gonna regret that, Sheriff! The whole TOWN will end up regrettin’ it!” Wilson gave a wicked smile as he returned to sit down on his bunk. He looked over to his neighbors across the way. “What’d he git you two fer?”
“He thinks we’re a couple of wanted outlaws, but he’s sorely mistaken,” Heyes said leaning on the bars.
“Who does he think ya are?”
Heyes stalled, but then answered with a self-deprecating smile, “Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. But we ARE NOT them.” He emphasized the ‘are not’ heavily.
Wilson laughed. “Hooeey! Heyes and Curry, huh? I ain’t heard much from you boys lately.”
“That’s ‘cause we AIN’T them,” Curry said laying down on one of the bunks.
“Sure, fellas. Whatever you say. Well, whoever you are, you’re gonna be witness to one of the greatest jailbreaks ever if’n Connors don’t let me out of here.”
Heyes had a slight confused look on his face. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that if’n I don’t git let out of here by tomorrow mornin’, my gang’s gonna ride in and shoot the town up.”
“Who are you exactly?”
“Of the Wilson Gang?”
Heyes slowly nodded his head and turned to walk over to Kid. Wilson swung his legs up on the bunk and lay down with a disconcerting chuckle. Curry sat back up to look at his partner. He talked low so as not to be overheard. “Did he just say Daniel Wilson?”
“Yeah, he did.”
“Of the Wilson Gang?”
Curry groaned and lay back down. “Wonderful. That’s just what we need. To be stuck in a cell with a bunch of killers headed to town.”
“Losing faith in me, Kid?”
“No. But seems to me, that silver tongue has had a little tarnish on it here lately. It’s been two weeks or more since we’ve been able to relax even a little and all we have between us is five dollars.”
“Everybody has an off day every now and again.”
“Yeah, well, you seem to be havin’ an off month. There’s been two bounty hunters, a posse, and now this sheriff and doctor that you haven’t been able to convince we’re just two average guys named Smith and Jones.”
“Well, then I’m due to have a sudden stroke of brilliance,” Heyes said with a self confident smirk. “Just have to think on it. An opportunity usually presents itself in some way or another.” He started to pace slowly around the cell.
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Curry lay snoring softly with his brown hat draped over his face. Heyes stopped his pacing long enough to try to see the clock on the wall near the sheriff’s desk. “I can’t believe three hours have passed already,” he told no one in particular. The pacing was on the verge of resuming when he heard footsteps nearing. Sheriff Connors appeared with a cloth-covered tray.
“Dinnertime, boys,” Connors announced. Curry abruptly arose at this proclamation and rubbed his hands over his face.
“Ought to have known the mention of food would get you up,” Heyes joked.
Curry threw him a look and bent down to pick up one of the plates of food Connors had slid under the cell door. “Could I bother you for something to wash it down with?”
“I’ll get you some coffee as soon as I get done delivering the food to you boys. Couldn’t carry it all at once. By the way, I sent my deputy off to the next town over to send a telegram out to get you boys identified. Should be back tomorrow to let me know how long it’ll be.”
“Thank you, Sheriff,” Heyes said congenially. “But you’re going to be disappointed when you find out I’m telling you the truth when I say we’re just two men named Smith and Jones.”
Connors shot Heyes a smile. “Alright.” He turned to give Wilson his dinner. Wilson stood to approach his cell door.
“Don’t worry about it, fellas,” Wilson grinned across at Heyes and Curry, purposely ignoring Connors. “I’ll make sure you get out when my gang shows up tomorrow. Unless the sheriff here wants to avoid all that violence and let me go now.” He smiled maliciously.
Connors turned to face Wilson. “I told you that wasn’t going to work. There’s no way I’m letting a known, ruthless killer like you just walk out of here.”
“And I told you sheriff, my gang’ll come in here and kill you all and then burn the town down if’n I don’t get back before tomorrow. They know I came down here to pick up supplies. And right about now, they’re figurin’ out somethin’ must’ve happened cause I ain’t back. They might already be headed this way. You want to be the one responsible for gettin’ everybody in this two bit hole in the road killed? You heard what we did at Stoney Creek, didn’t you? Weren’t nobody left alive in town by the time we got our man out of the lockup. We got enough men to surround this puny place. You think an Indian raid is bad? Ain’t nothin’ compared to what my gang’s gonna do.”
Connors stared at him, then finally said quietly, “I ain’t letting you go.” He sighed and went back to fetch the coffee. He poured three cups and brought them back to the cell area.
“You’re diggin’ your own grave, Sheriff.” Wilson smirked and took the coffee. “And I’m gonna enjoy watchin’ it all go down.”
“I don’t want to hear no more from you tonight, Wilson.” Connors turned to hand Heyes and Curry their cups. “Here you go, boys. I’ll be back later to collect the dishes.”
“Thanks, Sheriff,” Heyes said sitting down on the bunk. He watched Wilson eye the sheriff as he went back to his desk. Wilson turned to meet Heyes’ brown eyes. “I read that about Stoney Creek in the paper. Little bit of overkill murdering everyone there, don’t you think?”
Wilson grew an evil grin on his face. “Not at all. We don’t like to leave witnesses around if’n we can help it. Helps us not get recognized too often.” Wilson once more laughed and soon settled down to eat.
Heyes frowned as he turned his attention to his own dinner. Curry already had a good start on making his food disappear. He paused between bites to look at his partner. “We gotta get outta here, Heyes,” he said quietly. “I sure don’t want to be stuck behind bars with no way to defend ourselves when that bunch comes in here shootin’ and burnin’ the place up.”
“Yeah, we’d probably be killed right along with anyone else that gets in their way. Even if we didn’t, I have a feeling we wouldn’t be riding off anywhere. Our neighbor there heard our names. Whether he believes it or not, I don’t think they’ll let us go. They’re not going to take a chance on losing twenty thousand dollars.”
“So, like I said, we gotta get outta here. Got any ideas?” Curry continued his assault on his meal.
Heyes took a drink of coffee and pursed his lips. “Not just yet. At least the dinner service is pretty good.” Curry paused once again just long enough to smirk at his partner. Heyes was quiet after that, a look of concentration on his face as he ate.
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Outside of town, a mangy group pulled their horses to a stop. They stared at the small town in the distance. “There it is, boys,” the one at the head of the pack pointed. “Let’s go make camp and get ready.” They all slapped their horses into action and headed towards the outskirts.
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Everyone had pretty much finished eating when the front door of the sheriff’s office slammed open and in ran a man. “Sheriff!” he yelled breathlessly as he ran to the desk.
“Lord have mercy, Emmett. What the heck’s wrong with you? You liked to scared me to death. Now, what is it?”
Emmett looked at Sheriff Connors wide-eyed. “I was riding out of town on my way home after closing the store and come across this big bunch of mean looking men camped out there. They stopped me and asked me if I was from Blue Hole Springs and I said that I was. One of them grabbed my horse’s reins and pulled his gun on me. Told me if I didn’t bring you a message, he’d kill me right then and there. I believed him, too.”
“Well, what was the message?” Connors asked.
“He said to tell you they was the Wilson gang and if they didn’t see their leader riding out of town by morning, they were coming in here to get him and that nobody or nothing would be left afterwards.”
A worried look settled onto Connors’ face. “How many were there?”
“I didn’t get to count, but I’d say at least fifteen or twenty.”
Connors stared off in thought. “What’re you going to do, Sheriff?” Emmett asked as he fidgeted nervously.
“I don’t know just yet, Emmett. My deputy’s gone. I can’t just leave the cells unguarded to try to go round them up. There’s no way I could do it by myself anyway. Even if I got some help, some of them might get away to come tearing into town. I got to think on it. Thanks for bringing the message.”
“You’re welcome. I gotta go tell the doc. He rides out that way every evening to exercise his horse.” Emmett didn’t wait for a reply. He left as fast as he had come, slamming the door behind him.
Laughter was heard coming from one of the cells. Sheriff Connors dropped his head into his hands on the desk. Eventually, he got up to retrieve the dinner dishes from his prisoners.
“I told you. Sheriff. If’n I don’t meet up with my gang by tomorrow mornin’, this place ain’t gonna exist by tomorrow afternoon. They’re givin’ you a chance to save the place by waitin’. I suggest you take it and let me outta this here cage.” Wilson smirked at Connors as he walked back to the cells.
The sheriff stopped to stare at his obnoxious prisoner smiling maliciously at him through the bars. His brow furrowed deep in thought. “I can’t let a known murderer go just because his gang threatens me or the town.” His voice implied there was doubt building in his mind.
Wilson flopped himself down on his bunk still laughing like a madman. “Well, I don’t know how you plan to defend this place against all my men. You might get a couple of them, but that’ll be all. What a time we gonna have ourselves in the mornin’!” He pulled his hat over his eyes as he lay down.
Connors shook his head worriedly as he turned to retrieve the dishes from his other two guests. Heyes studied his face as he handed over the coffee cup. “Sheriff, I couldn’t help but overhear the dilemma you find yourself faced with.”
Connors sighed. “Yeah, it’s a doozey alright.”
Heyes bent closer to the bars of his cell and spoke in a low voice. “Maybe we can help you out with that…IF you would be willing to help us as well.” At this, Curry got up to pay attention to his partner.
Connors stared at Heyes. “I just can’t make deals with criminals.”
Heyes looked past the sheriff to make sure Wilson was still lying down and not paying attention to them. Then he brought his eyes back to meet Connors’ and smiled innocently. “But I told you, we’re not criminals.”
Connors shook his head at the former outlaw leader. “Mr. Heyes, you might as well drop the ‘we’re just average guys’ act. Doc Simpson identified you and, like I said before, I’m inclined to believe him. The doc has one heck of a good memory.”
“Well, let’s say, hypothetically of course, I was to be that particular person you think I am. You know that Hannibal Heyes has quite the reputation for coming up with some pretty good plans. That being the case, and with you thinking that’s who I am, which I’m NOT by the way, what would it hurt to just listen to what I have to say?”
Connors studied him, obviously thinking it over. Finally he said, “Alright. You got my curiosity up. If you WERE Hannibal Heyes, how would you deal with this problem?”
Heyes glanced across at Wilson once more to make sure he wasn’t eavesdropping. An almost inaudible snore drifted from the bunk in the other cell. “Well, first, how many people could you round up to help you tonight?”
The sheriff counted silently. “About ten or so I guess. I could send Doc Simpson or Emmett after them if they haven’t left yet. This is a pretty small place. Not many people live real close by.”
Heyes thought and nodded his head. “That would probably be enough. I noticed as you were escorting us here to your office earlier today that there is an abandoned building across the street with no windows in it.”
“Yeah. They built it when the town was first founded but it never turned into anything with such a small population. What about it?”
“Is there a back door or any other way out of that building?”
“No. It never was finished so there’s only one door on the front.”
“Alright, follow me a minute. When that gang rides in here, their main focus is going to be on the jail. So to really surprise them and get the drop on them, we need to direct their attention elsewhere. Confuse them a little.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?”
“That’s where the building across the street comes in. We spend tonight making that building look like the jail. By taking the sign off the front of this building and putting it on the other one, along with a few more touches, they’ll never know the difference when they ride in here in the morning. More than likely, they’ll all face the building across the street to demand their leader be let out. Some of your people will be hidden here in the actual jail, some on the rooftops, and some more alongside the fake jail. You yell out that if the gang wants their man, they’ll have to come in and get him. They won’t be able to tell it’s a trap because there are no windows. At least a few of them will run in to break Wilson out. Once they enter, your people hidden around the side will run up and block the door trapping them inside. At the same time, the rest of your people will start rounding up the ones left outside. With all that happening at once, it should confuse them enough to throw them off their game.”
“What about if they try to put their own people on the roofs?”
“Your people will already be there watching where they’re headed and be waiting for them.”
“What if the ones that aren’t trapped try to turn tail and ride out of town?”
“Sheriff, you’re going to catch the majority of them. If any do manage to dodge the gunfire and ride away, you can always take a posse after them once the rest are locked up.”
Connors rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know. You really think we have time tonight to get all that ready?”
“Sure I do. Don’t you think it’s about time that bunch learned they can’t just run roughshod over any little town and get away with it? Just think, you’ll be the one that finally brings that murderous Wilson gang down. I’m sure they all have bounties on their heads. You’ll be bringing money into the town on top of everything else.”
“Well, I think I can pretty well guess, but, what do you want for all this help?”
“You let us out to help you set this up and take care of that bunch and when it’s over, we just leave town and never come back. Nobody ever needs to know we were here. You can take credit for the whole plan if anybody asks.”
The sheriff stared as Heyes gave him his best convincing smile. “But there’s still the moral problem of letting criminals go free. I took an oath to uphold the law and I’ve never broken it before. I’m rather proud of that fact.”
Heyes sighed and slowly blinked his eyes. “I’m still not admitting that we are Heyes and Curry, but look at it this way. You’re in a position where either us or Wilson is probably going to be free after tomorrow. If Wilson gets out, your town and its residents are going to be hurting, if not killed. Wouldn’t you rather let two bank robbers who have never hurt anyone, and went straight by the way, go free than to let out a man who’s murdered well over twenty people?”
“You two have really went straight? I heard that rumor, but didn’t believe it.”
“Yes, the rumor is true. Heyes and Curry have gone straight, NOT that we’re them, I just know it to be true.” Heyes smiled innocently. “A sheriff friend of mine in Wyoming told me it was the truth. So, what’s it going to be, Sheriff?”
Connors paced a couple of steps, looked over at the sleeping killer in the other cell, then held his hand out to Heyes.
“You got a deal, Mr. Smith…”
Heyes took the proffered hand and shook it. Then he turned to Curry and smiled triumphantly while Connors went to his desk to retrieve the cell keys.
“Alright, forget I said anything about your silver tongue being tarnished,” Curry replied as he stood to join his partner at the cell door. The sheriff returned and opened it.
“Okay, Sheriff,” Heyes continued as he and Curry walked out and to the desk to strap on their gun belts. “You go round up as many men as you can and we’ll get started relocating the jail.”
“You got it, Mr. Hey…Smith. There’s some tools over at the livery you can use.”
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Connors emerged from the jail and ran the short distance down the street to the doctor’s office. A lamp was on inside. He opened the door to find Doc Simpson and Emmett sitting in the front office talking about the recent events.
“Doc, Emmett, glad you ain’t left yet. Listen, I need you all to help me out and go round up every able bodied man you can find then meet me in front of the jail. Make sure that bunch outside of town don’t see you.”
“What’s going on, Sheriff?” Simpson asked.
“We’re going to protect the town.”
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Outside the jailhouse, Heyes located a ladder just as Curry came back from the livery carrying all the tools he could find.
“Have I ever told you how much I hate doin’ carpentry work?” Curry asked as he climbed the ladder held in place by his dark-haired partner. It wobbled a little as he reached the top near the sign that read ‘Blue Hole Springs Jail’. “Hey! What are you doin’ down there?” He looked down to find Heyes rummaging through the pile of tools on the ground.
“Just hunting something to throw to you to start taking that sign down.”
“You can do that once I get set.” Curry maneuvered until he was firmly in place to begin removing the sign. “Alright, I’m ready.”
Heyes reached and grabbed a pry bar that he tossed up to Curry. “Catch, Thaddeus.”
Curry caught the airborne tool and commenced to prying the sign from its place.
By this time, Sheriff Connors had returned to join them. “I’ve got the Doc and Emmett rounding us up some men. What do I need to do?”
“Go across the street to the abandoned building and start building brackets on either side of the door to hold a board up. Once we lure those men inside, your people can put a couple of boards across the door to barricade it so they can’t get back out.”
“Right. I’ll go find some wood and be right back.” Connors ran off towards the livery.
Curry had managed to pry one corner of the sign loose. “Joshua,” he called down, “are you sure this is goin’ to work?”
“Of course it’s going to work, Thaddeus. It’s one of my plans.” Heyes smiled as he looked up to watch his partner.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Curry muttered as he continued to pull and tug at the jail sign.
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Meanwhile, Emmett and Doc Simpson were running to every door they could to get men to come help. Everyone they asked agreed to volunteer. Grabbing their guns, they started making their way towards Main Street and the jail.
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They arrived in front of the jailhouse just as Curry had finished pulling the third corner of the sign free. “This thing’s gonna fall if I pull anymore, Joshua,” Curry called from the top of the ladder. Heyes immediately took charge and addressed the crowd of men that had gathered.
“Alright, you four get on top of the jail with some rope and attach it to the sign so we can let it down to the ground once it’s completely loose. You two there, start putting boards over the windows of the jail so it looks like it’s been abandoned, but leave just a little space at the bottom big enough to see out and put a rifle through. Sheriff Connors has some wood there across the street.”
“What’s going on out there?” Wilson called from inside the jailhouse. Heyes motioned for one of the men to hold the ladder and went inside.
“I’m sorry. Are we keeping you awake? Just doing a little redecorating of the town. Nothing you need to be concerned with,” Heyes stated once inside the doorway.
“What’re you all up to out there? Hey!” Wilson yelled. But Heyes wasn’t paying him any mind. He went back outside where the ropes were being placed around the jailhouse sign to lower it down. He stopped to take in the activity around him and a smile played about his lips as his hands went to rest on his hips. After a second, he pushed his hat back on his head and walked over to help the men guide the sign to the ground.
“Alright Joshua, here it comes,” Curry called down as the sign swung free of the building. Slowly, it was lowered down as Curry descended the ladder. Once the sign was safely on the ground, the men immediately packed it across the street to attach it to its new building.
Connors stepped back as he finished his work on the door. “This might actually work,” he said to himself wiping sweat from his brow.
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The work continued on through the wee hours of the night. Heyes took out his pocket watch and looked at the time as the finishing touches were being added.
“Alright. Everyone gather around. Here’s what we’re going to do. You five take a spot on each of the other buildings’ roofs and hide. You’ll probably have company up there pretty soon, so be ready.” The specified men took up their rifles and left to get into place.
“You four hide around the side of the ‘new’ jailhouse, two on each side. When the sheriff provokes the men to go in, you run around and put those boards up to hold the door shut.” Heads were nodded in understanding. “You, Sheriff, take your place at the back of this building so your voice sounds like it’s coming from inside. Thaddeus, I want you to perch yourself on top of the original jailhouse. If any of those guys start to bolt, you make them change their mind. The rest of you, find a place to hide here on the street. Make sure all your weapons are loaded. One more thing, do you have any dynamite here in town?”
Emmett spoke up. “I got a few sticks in the general store there.”
“Good. Bring me what you have and all the fuse you can find.”
“What’s the dynamite for?” Connors asked as Emmett went to fulfill the order.
“We’re going to put it in the ‘new’ jail there with the fuse threaded out the corner of the door. Just in case those guys don’t want to listen and try to get out once they’re in there, we’ll just tell them we’ve got it rigged to blow. They try to get out or start shooting, we’ll light the fuse.”
“You’re absolutely devious, Joshua.” Curry smiled at him.
“Thanks. Now, everybody know what they need to do?” Heads were nodded to show they did. “Alright. Go get in your places. The sun should be coming up in about thirty minutes.” Heyes put his watch back in his pocket. He turned and looked at the real jailhouse where some inaudible yelling was emanating from. “And we need to shut him up so he can’t give away our plan.”
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On the outskirts of town, a ruthless gang of killer outlaws were gathering up their bedrolls and saddling up.
“Time to go boys. We got us a jailbreak to pull and a town that needs taught a lesson.”
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Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry walked into the real jailhouse to a barrage of questions.
“Hey! What are you up to?” Wilson yelled.
Heyes stopped at the sheriff’s desk and picked up a pair of handcuffs. Walking back to the cell area, he stood at Wilson’s cell door. Curry drew his gun and held it on the enraged inmate. “Turn around and back up to the door,” Heyes ordered.
“What fer? Why’re you helpin’ out the law? You’re wanted yourself.” Wilson kept the questions flying.
“Let’s just say me and the law have a temporary agreement. Plus, I don’t believe in killing. Now, turn around.”
“No. I ain’t doin’ nothin’ to help you help the law.”
Curry pulled the hammer back on his Colt. “Do it,” he menacingly said with an ice cold stare.
Wilson took in the sight of Kid Curry’s revolver pointed at his chest. “Well, since you put it that way…” He turned around and backed up to the cell door. Heyes pulled his hands through the bars and cuffed them, holding Wilson in place.
“I never in my days thought I’d see Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry helpin’ out the law,” Wilson complained.
“Well, you ain’t seeing it now either. I told you, my name is Joshua Smith.” With that, Heyes took a bandana and tied it around Wilson’s mouth finally shutting him up. He turned and nodded his head at Curry who reholstered his gun. Then they both left the sheriff’s office. Curry took his place on top of the actual jailhouse, while Heyes grabbed the extra fuse and ran down the street. Finding a suitable place, he tied one end of the fuse around a support beam on the boardwalk. He called for one of the sheriff’s men to come over. He positioned him straight across the street from the beam.
“Listen. You hide here and as soon as those guys ride past this point, pull that fuse up as high as you can get it and tie it off tight so it makes a clothesline across the street.” The man nodded his head and Heyes headed back down the street to the real jailhouse. He found himself a spot on the side of it. He took out his pocket watch and looked at it once more as he crouched into place. “Should be any time now.”
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Sitting on the edge of town, Wilson’s gang prepared for their attack. “You four go find a place on top of a couple of those buildings. Nobody gets out of here alive.” The four dismounted and, after tying their horses to a nearby tree, ran quietly behind the main street buildings to find a way up to the top.
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The sound of thundering hooves could be heard as the town sat quiet. Then the sight of a gang of angry outlaws could be seen riding down the dusty main street. They pulled their horses to an abrupt stop in front of the ‘jail’. Facing the abandoned building they thought was holding their leader captive, one of the outlaws called out.
“Hey Sheriff! This here’s the Wilson gang. You was warned what would happen if’n we didn’t see our leader ridin’ out to us this mornin’. Now, we’re gonna give you one last chance. You got one minute to let him out of that cage or we’re comin’ in after him. And if we do that, we’re gonna burn this place to the ground afterwards.”
Sheriff Connors took a deep breath at his place behind the building. Putting his hands to his mouth, he called out, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to come in after him ‘cause I ain’t letting him go.”
A couple of rifle barrels silently snaked out under the partially boarded up windows of the actual jailhouse. In the middle of the street, the outlaws looked at each other, then five of them dismounted. They strode purposely toward the door of the building. One of them pulled the door open as the other four rushed in. The doorman then followed them in. From his hiding place beside the actual jail, Heyes rose up and gave a signal. Immediately, four men ran around the sides of the fake jail. Three ran to get the boards over the door while the other pointed his rifle at the still mounted outlaws in the street. “Don’t move!” he yelled nervously. Mayhem then ensued.
“It’s a trap!” one of the outlaws yelled and the remainder of them started pulling on their reins to get their horses turned to ride out of town. The men hiding in the actual jail holding their rifles out under the boarded up windows started firing.
At the same time, the outlaws inside the building heard the ruckus outside and started banging on the door trying to get out. One of the men outside guarding the door heard them. “You boys better settle down in there. We got some dynamite set up in there with the fuse out here. If you don’t quit, we’re going to light it up.” Momentarily, the banging on the door stopped.
Out in the street, a couple of the outlaws had managed to turn their horses and started to spur them into a gallop. The Kid caught sight of this and helped the men dismount by putting a bullet in their arms. The horses ran off in fright. Two other outlaws saw their chance and made a breakaway headed out of town. But before they could breathe a sigh of relief, they rode straight into a wire pulled across the street. It knocked them both from their mounts and within seconds, some townspeople had them covered.
Back out in front of the jail, Heyes and Sheriff Connors emerged with guns drawn and called off the shooting as the remaining outlaws were either laying in the street wounded, or holding their hands up in surrender. Connors stepped up to the men.
“You’re all under arrest,” he stated authoritatively. The men guarding the abandoned building full of heathens opened the door and after disarming them, marched them to the center of the street to sit with their fellow gang members.
One of them started complaining. “Whatever happened to our men on the rooftops? They didn’t help at all!”
“They didn’t get a chance to,” Doc Simpson said as he, Emmett, and a couple other fellows paraded their captives down the street to be with the others. “We were waiting on them.”
Sheriff Connors tipped his hat at Heyes as he and his people rounded up the outlaws and marched them into the real jailhouse to be locked up. Having left his perch on top of the jail, Curry walked up and joined his partner.
“Well, Joshua, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. That crazy plan of yours worked.”
Heyes feigned disbelief. “Why Thaddeus, when haven’t my plans worked?” He started walking towards the livery to retrieve his horse before Curry could respond.
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Two ex-outlaws stood beside their horses outside the livery stable making the final adjustments to their horses’ tack. They looked around in unison when footsteps were heard nearing.
“Boys, I can’t thank you enough,” Sheriff Connors said, smiling as he walked up to the partners.
Heyes offered his hand up for shaking. “No need to thank us, Sheriff. Just doing what any law-abiding citizen would’ve done and helped out the local law.” Curry glanced sideways at his companion.
“Law-abiding citizens, huh?” Connors said sarcastically. “You still denying you’re Heyes and Curry?”
“Yessir,” Heyes laughed as he mounted his horse. Curry followed suit.
“Well, law-abiding citizens or not, you’ll always be welcome in our little town. Take care, boys.” Connors smiled once more at them and turned to walk away. The partners looked at each other and urged their horses into a trot, headed out of Blue Hole Springs.
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