Story of the Year May- Aug
|Which one of our wonderful writers wins your vote to go through for the finals of Story Of The Year|
|1. May - The Face In The Window - Bluebelle. It turns out that Heyes' suit makes everyone feel slightly ill.|| 14% ||[ 3 ]|
|2. June - A Fool and His Money - Remuda. The stifling heat is too much to contend with and the boys head off to cool off in the river because it's too hot to separate anyone else from their money. No! Why stop it there? I wanna see!|| 5% ||[ 1 ]|
|3. June - A Fool and His Money - Insideoutlaw. A conman finds a pair of sharp blue eyes too much to handle when he tries to rook a pair of young lads of the little money they have.|| 24% ||[ 5 ]|
|4. July - Crossing The Line - Riders. Hoke is 'axing' for trouble with the Kid. See what I did there???|| 38% ||[ 8 ]|
|5. August - Coffee - Remuda. A writer faces that dreaded blank page and thinks through how to start a story about life of crime.|| 14% ||[ 3 ]|
|6. August - Coffee - Insideoutlaw. A steaming Heyes gets robbed after winning at cards. Is he gonna get even? You betcha!|| 5% ||[ 1 ]|
|Total Votes : 21|
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Story of the Year May- Aug Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:23 am|| |
So the last group of stories, with her tale of outlaws meeting a face from their past was won by:
The next vote will be for the following stories. As you can see I have also posted them into this thread to make life easier for you. Each month is in a different colour font.
May - The Face In The Window
June - A Fool And His Money
Remuda and Insideoutlaw
July - Crossing the Line
August - Coffee
Remuda and Insideoutlaw
Time To Vote
Last edited by Admin on Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: May - The Face At The Window - Bluebelle Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:27 am|| |
The Face At The Window - Bluebelle
The Face At The Window
The face pressed closer to the window, the brim of the brown hat touching the glass. “What d’ya think, Joshua?”
The man in the dark hat shrugged. “It’s alright I guess.”
“Alright? It’s more than alright. We both need a new one.”
“What’s wrong with the ones we’ve got? They’ve done us up to now and they come outta the saddlebags without so much as a crease. I bet there’s nothing like that in there.” Heyes peered through a frown into the darkness of the shop. “Nah, mine’s fine. I don’t want a new one.”
“It ain’t fine,” the Kid scowled. “The legs are too short and the waistcoat’s too tight. It’d fit that ape in the travellin’ show we went to better than you. Its years old.”
“It looks great!” Heyes protested. “It fits like a glove,”
“Sure, but it’s supposed to fit like a suit. You just don’t care how you look, do ya? Look at the state of that hat. It looks like a dog attacked it.”
“It was a horse, and you know it,” frowned Heyes. “Leave me alone. You know I’ve got a headache. I’ve had it off and on for months.”
“I know,” the Kid nodded, sympathetically. “None of the other doctors we’ve tried can find anything. What about the one in this town?” He glanced around at the bustling shoppers. “Somebody’ll know where his office is.”
“I went there this morning while you were bathing. He gave me some powders, but he was no better than all the rest. I guess I’ll just have to put up with them. Megrims, I think he called them. Folks get them for no reason.”
The Kid’s brow creased. “Those headaches are killers; somethin’s gotta be causin’ them.”
“Yeah, well, until somebody can tell me what that is, I’ll have to put up with it.”
“Did you take your powder? “
Heyes nodded. “Yeah, it’s easing off some.”
“Good,” the Kid’s eyes brightened. “Let’s go look at some suits.”
The bell tinkled a welcome as the door opened, jangling Heyes’ frayed nerves and clanging through his psyche like a church bell. Their eyes adjusted from the caustic brightness of the street and the shadow making its way from the back of the shop took the form of a dapper little man wearing an extravagant waistcoat and an embroidered yarmulke. “Can I help you, gentlemen?” Fluffy, little brows rose along with the man’s intonation. “We have a whole range of ready-made garments along with ties, cravats and shirts.” The dark eyes settled on the dark hat with the silver conchos. “My brother-in-law can provide you with some excellent hats too.”
“I don’t need a hat,” Heyes glanced around the shop, “or a suit. I need a chair. He wants a suit.”
“My name is Ira Rosen and I’m the best tailor this side of the Mississippi. I’m sure I can find something for fine-looking gentlemen like yourselves.” Ira dragged out a chair from behind the counter and placed it next to a rail of jackets. “Please, sit. Relax,” the little, pale hands spread expressively, “take your time. Everyone’s in so much of a rush nowadays. Don’t you find? Look at the schmutter. Enjoy. What’s your hurry, I say?”
“Depends who’s after us, I guess,” Heyes muttered under his breath as he sat and rested his head on his hands.
The tailor’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “Angry fathers, huh? Maybe even a husband or two?”
“Or hat-eatin’ horses,” the Kid glowered at his indiscreet partner. “Can I see that grey suit in the window? It looks about my size.”
The tailor glanced the tall gunman up and down. “Nope. That suit’s a 34 sleeve. I’d say you were a 36. I can look at a man and know his sizes in an instant. I’ve been doing this all my life. It’s my talent.”
“Are you sure?” doubtful blue eyes drifted over to the mannequin in the window. “It looks about right.”
Ira slipped the garment from the dummy and handed it over to the Kid. “There’s only one way to be sure.” He watched the fair-haired customer slip on the jacket. He held out his arms and examined the cuffs. “See? I’m never wrong. The sleeves are too short.” The shopkeeper bustled over to the rail. “Now if you like that one, I have one almost the same colour in your size.”
“What d’ya think of this one, Joshua?”
Bleary dark eyes turned up. “Yeah, lovely.”
“D’you like this one or should I get a darker colour?”
“I don’t really care. Get what you like.”
“If you need any adjustments I can get that done for you right away,” Ira tugged at the sleeve and picked some lint away from the shoulder. “If I may so, sir, that looks superb on you; let me get the trousers so you can try them on.”
“Yeah,” the Kid nodded. “I take a...”
“I know what size you are, sir. Leave all that to me.” Ira smiled knowingly and disappeared into the back of the shop.
“Won’t you even try anythin’ on, Joshua?”
Heyes rubbed his face and sighed. “I’m quite happy with the suit I’ve got.”
“Look at this black one,” the Kid removed a hanger from the rail. “It’s got a little stripe through it. That’d suit you.”
Heyes arched a brow. “I thought we’d agreed we were gonna do all we could to avoid wearing suits with stripes, Thaddeus.”
“You’re in a mood,” the hanger was abruptly returned to the rail. “I’m going to try on the trousers. Wait here.”
“Yeah and I’ll watch your back while you’re nekkid as a jaybird back there.”
“Have you ever seen a naked jaybird?” The Kid picked up a tie and examined it closely. “Yeah, I might even get me a tie and a couple of new collars too. He’s got real nice stuff here.”
Ira tied off the string on the brown paper parcel and handed it over to a smiling Kid Curry. “One more happy customer.” The tailor’s dark eyes fixed on Heyes. “Are you sure I can’t get you anything? I can do you a special price on this dark charcoal. Feel that material. You can just feel the quality.”
Heyes shook his head. “It‘s great. I just don’t need one.”
“At these prices?” Ira shook the proffered sleeve. “Everyone needs a suit at these prices. It’s just your size too. A thirty four inch chest, waist thirty two and an inseam leg of thirty four,” Ira pulled himself up to the full grandeur of his five foot six frame and nodded sagely, “if I’m any judge.”
Heyes shook his head. “Nope. My inseam leg is thirty two. It always has been.”
Ira’s brow creased. “No, it’s thirty four. I make my living doing this and I’ve done this my whole life.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Rosen. My inseam leg is thirty two. I had my suit made to measure by the best tailor in Denver.”
Ira shook his grey head. “No, sir. You’re thirty four. If you were to wear thirty two it’d make your...” he cleared his throat, “your manhood would be pushed up against your pelvis. That’s make you hold your spine awkwardly.”
“A suit can do all that?” Doubt danced in Heyes’ face. “Nah, I’d feel it.”
“You certainly would. The tension in your back would end up giving you the most terrible headaches.”
The Kid’s jaw dropped open. “Headaches?”
“Yes. Real stinkers. They’d last for at least twelve hours.”
“You were wearin’ that suit yesterday, and just before the last time you had one of your heads.” The Kid nodded slowly, the light of triumph in his eyes. “Joshua, try on the suit. You might get the headaches, but I’m the one who suffers from them.”
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|Subject: June - Remuda - A Fool And His Money Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 am|| |
A Fool And His Money - Remuda
Kid 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.
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: June - Insideoutlaw - A Fool And His Money Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:34 am|| |
A Fool And His Money - Insideoutlaw
“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.
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Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: July - Riders - Crossing The Line Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:37 am|| |
Crossing the Line - Riders
One Hoke over the line
A fractured note rent the air. Heads turned in their direction, frowns erupting. Another caterwaul.
The newspaper next to him rustled. “Can’t you keep him quiet?” Heyes hissed from behind his paper. He slumped lower in the station bench.
“Me? This was your brilliant idea, genius, you shut him up.” The Kid winced as another sour note flayed its unwilling audience.
“Sweeet Besty, uh Bitty, um Betsy, yeah that’s it, Sweeeet Betsy from Piiiiiikkkee!” screeched the unrelenting assault.
Gunther Joachim Pearlmutter – commonly called Hoke – was not a budding opera virtuoso. This did not stop him from lambasting his unwilling audience with his tortured rendition of his favorite song. Of course, the stage was not the only career for which he was unsuited. Outlawing wasn’t his forte either. One could almost see the dark cloud of incompetence hovering over him, raining on all who came too close.
Heyes and the Kid exchanged glances and raised their papers in self-defense. “Sweet Jesus, I hope that train is on time,” the Kid muttered.
“At least he’ll be heading home. I never should have listened to Kyle. What was I thinking?” groaned Heyes and shuddered as Hoke drew breath for another onslaught.
Hoke had arrived at Devil’s Hole three months earlier, having struck up a friendship with Kyle in a town they’d been hurrahing. He was fresh off the farm and more than willing. Heyes developed a fondness for him, although he couldn’t explain why.
But, as the gang discovered, to call Hoke clumsy was to call the Grand Canyon a ditch. He had only to haul up a bucket of water from the well for the rope to break, put a pot on the stove for a grease fire to start.
In his care, the horses stampeded from the field. It took the gang three days to round them up and repair the fences. He dropped a crate of dynamite in the lake then set the storage shed on fire trying to dry the sticks out. With him around, a rock slide broke the track three miles before they were prepared to hold up the train.
But Hoke was always sorry and eager to fix things. He lost cheerfully at poker and could be counted on to laugh at anyone’s joke, whether he understood it or not. Nevertheless, the gang began to mutter about jinxes when he wasn’t around. Heyes and the Kid watched the situation and worried about what to do.
Eventually Heyes took Hoke aside, riding out with him on patrol – delayed only by one horse casting a shoe and the provisions inexplicably falling in the stream. “Hoke, my boy,” he said, putting an arm around the man as the two stopped to camp. “Why exactly did you join the gang?”
“Well…” Hoke hemmed and hawed. “Mary, sweet Mary wanted me to make something of myself.”
“Sweetest gal you ever hope to meet.” Hoke frowned. “But she wasn’t real happy with me. Thought I could do better than sow wrangling.”
“Yeah. Pa owns the biggest pig farm in the whole county, but he runs it tight and don’t let me do much but muck out the pens.”
Having seen the destruction Hoke could wreck, Heyes had a sneaking sympathy with his father. Nevertheless, he put that to the side; he had more important issues to deal with – getting rid of Hoke. “I bet you miss her. You know, the outlaw trail ain’t real conducive to love.”
“Yeah, I figure. But I’m here now, wouldn’t want to let everyone down,” said Hoke.
“They’d get over it.”
Hoke sighed, then brightened. “Got a letter from her.” He dug a tattered envelope from his envelope. “Course I cain’t read it.”
“Want me to?”
“That’d be real nice of you, Heyes.” He handed over the missive.
Heyes extracted the closely written sheet and pondered it. The penmanship was illegible and she’d crossed her lines to conserve paper. Heyes couldn’t even swear it was in English. The pen had blotched in places and run. Finally, he looked up at Hoke. “She misses you, Hoke. Wants you to come home. Says she’s sorry.”
“Really,” Heyes perjured himself. Well, at least he figured that’s what she meant. He was pretty sure some of the blotches were tear stains.
Hoke’s gap-toothed smile shone. Then he sighed and frowned. “But, gee, I got responsibilities here. You all been so good to me.”
Heyes rolled his eyes. “It’ll be hard, but we’ll manage without you. None of us would want to stand in the way of true love.”
“You sure, Heyes?”
“Well, golly, I don’t know.”
The two returned to the Hole, and Hoke thought about leaving returning home to Mary. He worked double-time to help out the gang as much as he could while he decided. The gang began to avoid Hoke. After all between Wheat’s black eye, Charlie’s bruised leg where Hoke’s horse had kicked him, and the blackened wall behind the stove in the bunk house after Hoke somehow managed to set a pan of biscuits on fire, they weren’t sure they’d survive his departure.
The last straw came when Hoke decided to build up the supply of wood for the smoke house. He sharpened the axe and enthusiastically flung the newly sharpened axe over his head prepared to swing at the first log. Somehow, the axe head came loose and launched from the handle, just as the Kid and Heyes walked by. The axe head flew between the Kid’s legs, failing to emasculate him by a hair’s breath, but sliding down the side of his pants and slitting his left boot.
The Kid stood rooted to the spot, staring incredulously at the axe head lodged in the sole of his boot, its side resting against his ankle. After a moment, his face reddened and he let out a bellow. Heyes took one look at his partner and reacted quickly, slamming his fist into Hoke’s mouth. Hoke went down hard and when he came up he was spitting blood and bits of teeth.
Heyes stood between Hoke and the Kid his hand on the Kid’s, both resting on the Kid’s holster. “Now, Kid, calm down. It’s just a boot.”
“Just a… Just a… Did you see? Do you know how close that came?” the Kid sputtered. Nose to nose with Heyes, he glared, breathing hard. Finally, he drew a deep breath, cursed, and bent to remove the axe from his boot. When he had done so, he stood with it in his hand, weighing it as he glared at Heyes and Hoke. With an exclamation of disgust he dropped the axe head, spun on his heel, and limped to the cabin, the shreds of his boot slapping a counterpoint on the ground with each step.
“Well, golly,” Hoke mumbled through the blood in his mouth. “I just don’t know what happened there.” He started to rise. “I gotta apologize.”
Heyes hurried over to him. “No. Let the Kid alone. I figure my hitting you probably saved your life.” Heyes signaled to some of the other gang members to help Hoke to the bunkhouse and slowly headed to the cabin, giving the Kid time to calm down before he entered.
“He’s outta here tomorrow.”
“Now, Kid, be reasonable…”
“Tomorrow, Heyes, or I’ll be the one leavin’.”
Heyes watched as the Kid found a strip of leather to wrap around his boot to hold it together. He let out a deep breath. “Fine, but he needs to see the dentist anyway before he takes the train home. So you’re coming with us, and you’re not killing him.”
“Yeah, I broke a bunch of his teeth.”
The Kid smiled. “Well, maybe that’s punishment enough. But why do I need to come?”
“Are you crazy? Do you really think I’m going anywhere alone with Hoke? Without you to watch my back? Why, I’d probably get mauled by a mountain lion in the middle of the street.” Heyes flashed his dimples. “Besides you need a new pair of boots.”
The Kid rolled his eyes and groaned.
The trip to town had been surprisingly uneventful. They had bought Hoke a ticket on the evening express, liquored him up for the ordeal, and delivered him to the dentist. They’d had to stay to help hold Hoke down. When it was over, the three adjourned to the nearest saloon and downed several whiskeys to settle their stomachs.
That had proved their undoing. Hoke had been quiet until they arrived at the station. But once settled on a bench the excitement proved too much. First, he babbled about seeing his sweet Mary and worried about what was taking the train so long. Then, after an exasperated Kid told him one more time to settle down or he’d break the rest of Hoke’s teeth, Hoke had lapsed into blissful silence.
Suddenly, he opened his mouth, displaying the full brilliance of his two new gold teeth and began to bray. “Oh, give me a home…” From there he slid into butchering Sweet Betsy from Pike. As all eyes turned to the spectacle, Heyes and Curry hurriedly hid behind newspapers, doing their best to distance themselves from their companion.
As Hoke segued into The Cowboy’s lament, tears streaming down his face, the Kid flung down his paper and stomped over to the counter in the corner. He returned with a steaming cup of coffee. “Drink this.” He thrust the cup at Hoke.
As the heat of the coffee hit Hoke’s new teeth, he whimpered from the pain. Glancing at the Kid’s set jaw; he sighed and finished the coffee. Whether it was the coffee or the pain, Hoke sobered, just as the train pulled in. Heyes and Curry hustled him onto the train and watched it leave.
With sighs of relief, they returned to the bar.
“Think he’ll be all right, Heyes?”
“Well if the train don’t run off the track, he should do just fine.”
“With his luck, the cars’ll decouple from the engine in the middle of a buffalo stampede.”
“Yeah,” Heyes chuckled, “as long as it happens a long way from here.”
The two smiled and drank in companionable silence, admiring the Kid’s new boots.
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: August - Coffee - Remuda Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:40 am|| |
Coffee - Remuda
Musings on a Midnight
I sit here with coffee -- black, strong. Perhaps much too strong. It is needed to keep me awake whilst I ponder my next piece.
I hold pen to paper. A much too old-fashioned quill reminds me of my humble beginnings, but a trip to the local general store brought my writing instrument into the modern age -- a Waterman, complete with the new ink feed. I stare at my desk tableau: still life with fountain pen.
The tablet before me is also fresh from the mercantile. Its blank surface beckons pen to page, with a necessary dip in the well. Black, inky cursive to a willing, virginal leaf. The lines will keep my too flowing hand even and legible.
What to scribe? The confessions of a once notorious outlaw pair? If so, where to begin? At the beginning? A once happy childhood blasted to pieces by war? Surely the papers were rife with them post-conflict. A memoir of a childhood lost? Well, as one of them might say, it wasn't lost, just shot to pieces. (Hmm, I must not repeat myself, but their phrasings are difficult to resist.) Skip forward then ... institutionalized adolescence. That of itself might find an audience, but I fear Miss Addams is exhausting the collective consciousness on it far more than I could add my own uninformed jots. Ah, anew -- good youth led down the wrong road by vicious grifters ready to pounce, their soon-to-be young accomplices taken under their wing with promises of easy riches, charmingly disarming doughy dowagers and other dubious and disastrous enterprises performed under duress, or perhaps they were all too willing. (Note: Check that last statement; will change the whole narrative.)
Now we arrive mostly at the age of consent, contractual and otherwise. They were lost by then, surely -- wanted by the law for nigh on the next decade, almost. Astonishingly clever, good-hearted but bad, until they found their way back. Perhaps tellings of the time away, prodigals finding their way home, or to the right side of the law. Not being able to convince their robbing brethren to join them on the greener side of the fence. Wait, this is not a sermon, but sounds as if any preacher worth his stripes could gather the flock with such a message on any sundry Sunday morning. No, this must be along the lines of something exciting: outlawry, thievery, hold-ups, the glory and glamour of a genius and a fast draw. Sadly, the real story is anti-climactic compared to the dime novels, and that is not my calling.
Numerous ideas have come and gone, discarded or filed away for another time. A fresh slant on overexposed characters is difficult, hyped as they have been of late in the rags.
Amnesty. That in itself should provide new angles but only conjures up rehashment of legend, derring-do of alleged gentlemen bandits, but no Robin Hoods they. That they shot no one in their thieving heyday says loads, but boils down to supreme contradiction: kind-hearted bad men? Were we to believe such a thing, we would have victims of circumstance on our hands. I presume even they would knock that on its head as mere speculation (if they knew what it meant).
Deadlines loom at midnight, and it is far too close on to the witching hour to start anything expansive. Something short will have to suffice. Perhaps another set of characters. I wonder what Mr. Twain is up to these days.
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: August - Coffee - Insideoutlaw Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:42 am|| |
Coffee - Insideoutlaw
Grasshoppers leapt from the trail, rustling noisily as they landed in the dried grasses, but the horses plodded on. Tired, they kept their attention on the rocky path leading up a steep south-facing slope. Flies buzzed around their heads and one of the two laden mules swished its tail and kicked out angrily. Saddles and packs alike creaked softly, lulling the two men astride the horses. The day had grown steadily hotter despite its chilly beginnings and the men wore patches of sweat staining their shirts. A magpie flew across the trail twenty or thirty yards ahead of them, chattering loudly, alarming his flock in a nearby aspen grove.
The smaller rider dallied the lead to his pack mule around his saddle horn and freed up his hands to lift his hat and wipe his brow with a dirty bandana he fished from his pocket. His lank, blond hair was pasted to his skull and his jaws bulged with a large plug of tobacco. When he spoke, his words were muffled.
“Sure is hot for September, ain’t it, Heyes?” A stream of tobacco spewed from Kyle’s face and landed in the grass further terrifying the hoppers. He kept one eye on the broad back ahead of him; the other followed the path of his spit.
Hannibal Heyes was distracted thinking about last night’s poker game. He’d had fun disguising himself as a greenhorn; wearing an old, frayed suit and horn-rimmed glasses. No one took him for a notorious outlaw leader and he’d been courted by every table in the gambling den once he’d pulled that wad of bills from his pocket.
Now that wad rested in his left saddlebag, having grown too large for a pocket. He’d been surprised that the evening had ended without any untidy incidents. Three of the men at his table had looked as though they were going to stir up trouble. Not that he’d been worried. He’d been packing his derringer and Kyle had lingered at the bar, keeping an eye on his boss like he’d promised the Kid he would do. No, the evening had passed without trouble.
“Heyes? You ain’t fallin’ asleep, are ya?”
“No, I’m not. I’m thinking.”
“Oh. Good, I guess.” Kyle was used to Heyes’ thinking and knew not to ask any more questions. He un-dallied his mule, and rode on in silence. They weren’t too far from the Devil’s Hole gang’s camp and would reach it well before nightfall. To amuse himself, he kept his eyes peeled for mushrooms along the side of the trail. He loved mushrooms.
The animals humped their backs and grunted as they shouldered their burdens up a particularly steep section of trail passing through a thick grove of trees. The aspens swayed gently as a sudden breeze arose and their brittle, golden leaves sighed softly, but the sturdy spruce and firs withstood the gust. Daylight was filtered here and a cool shadow crept over the small pack train, providing relief from the sun.
Heyes started to nod off; his late night beginning to be felt again. Kyle’s eyes combed the ground for the curly, orange caps of the mushrooms he was seeking. They grew in the shady, high altitude forests. He couldn’t remember what they were called. Gully’d told him once; shanty-somethings. He didn’t notice the three men who emerged on foot from the small copse of spruce to their left.
“Hold it right there! Hands up nice and easy,” warned a grizzled man with blackened teeth. The other two men stood slightly behind him, their guns drawn and aimed at their hearts.
Heyes jerked to attention at the sound of the man’s voice. Fortunately, his hands were occupied with his horse’s reins and the mule’s lead, otherwise he might’ve made a reflexive reach for his gun. Instead he sat still, lifted his hands, and glared at the men before him.
Kyle nearly fell off his horse, both of them startled by the intrusion. He righted himself, steadied his beast, raised his hands, and waited calmly. He appeared slightly bored and unafraid, but he was simply waiting to see how Heyes wanted to handle this.
“My, my, lookie who it is boys!” sneered the first outlaw, gesturing to Heyes. The other two men looked baffled. “It’s the rube with the run of luck from last night’s game.”
“Sure is, Will. Looks diff’rent, don’t he?” said a shorter, long greasy-haired man, finally recognizing Heyes. The third man, no, boy; smiled and laughed.
“I guess your name ain’t George neither. You know, mister, last night I was willin’ to let my money go, figurin’ you was a tenderfoot havin’ a run of luck and some other fella could hang for killin’ ya. I can see now that that weren’t no run of luck, you look just like the cardsharp you is,” said Will. His eyes took in the silver-trimmed hat band, the expensive cut of Heye’s shirt, and came to rest on the strapped down, black leather, concha-embellished gun belt. “Lucky for you, I ain’t no killer. Why, I’m just an honest man lookin’ to right a wrong. Ain’t that right, fellas?”
Laughter floated in the air, loud against the sounds of the forest. Heyes knew it was useless to try to sweet talk these three and he waited silently like a coiled rattler.
“Carl, get that little fella’s gun. Hal, keep me covered,” said Will, walking up to Heyes and reaching up. Dark, furious eyes drilled into him as he unbuckled the fancy gun belt. He laughed. “Don’t feel as good gettin’ robbed as it does robbin’, does it? I’ll take that hat, too, and empty your pockets.”
Heyes glared at him, but eventually lifted the hat from his head and dropped it onto the dusty trail. He fished out the few dollars he had in his chest pocket along with his silver pocket watch. With a chuckle, Will took the cash and watch before he bent down and picked up the hat, knocking the dust off against his grimy pant leg. He took off his sweat-stained, misshapen felt bowler and tossed it to Carl, who caught it easily despite holding Kyle’s gun belt in his left hand. Glancing up at the smaller man sitting above him, Carl decided his had no use for the soiled hat he wore. Instead, he walked over to Will.
Will’s filthy grin belied his angry command, “Dismount!”
Without a word, Heyes and Kyle dismounted. Carl grabbed the reins to Heyes’ sorrel mare and tied off the pack mule to the horse’s saddle. He led the two animals away to where Kyle stood, his small mare standing obediently next to him, ground-tied. His mule had wandered a few steps away and was contentedly eating the dried grasses at its feet. Roughly, Carl snatched up the mule’s lead causing it to balk and Carl to cuss. He tied the second mule to the pack of the first mule and then retrieved Kyle’s mare.
“Well, I’d say we’re even now,” said Will. “Have a nice walk.” He started to turn away, but froze at the chilling, baritone voice so unlike the twangy, nasal sounds he’d heard last night from the dark-haired man he'd just robbed.
“See you around, Will,” said Heyes. The threat was unmistakable.
Will spun around. “You know, I plumb forgot that the boys could use some new boots. Why don’t you two have a seat right there and pull yours off?” He gestured to a downed tree.
“You can’t leave us out here on foot without water,” protested Kyle as he sat down on the log next to Heyes.
“Sure I can,” Will laughed. “’Sides, there’s plenty of streams to drink from. If you get real lucky maybe you can find one the beavers ain’t crapped in.” He scooped up the discarded boots and tucked them all under his arm. Leaning close to Heyes, he dropped his friendly act and hissed out fetid breath. “I see you again, boy, I’ll kill ya.”
Heyes showed no fear. “Likewise.”
Straightening, Will wondered if maybe he should kill them and be done with it, but he was only wanted for robbing, not a hanging offense, and he didn’t want to do anything to change that. Who knew who might be waiting on these two and come looking for them? No, better to let them get to where they were going.
He and Carl took their prizes, loaded them onto the two mules, and mounted. Will and Carl drew and kept their guns trained on their victims while Hal fetched their own horses. Soon all that was left of them was the faint sound of their laughter wafting up from down the trail.
“You were robbed?” exclaimed Kid Curry, standing over his partner. His agitation had grown as dusk had turned to darkness and there’d been no sign of Heyes or Kyle. He’d been ready to go out looking for them when he’d heard the sounds of someone approaching on foot.
Heyes sat by the fire examining his blistered feet. He and Kyle had straggled into camp a few minutes ago and, without a word, Heyes had gone to the Kid’s saddlebags and pulled out the bottle of whiskey he’d known his partner had stashed there. He’d uncorked it with his teeth, taken a long slug of it, and he and the whiskey had settled by the warmth of the fire. It was going to be a cold night. He and Kyle had no bedrolls.
The Kid had taken one look at the two men emerging from the shadows and figured he’d get more out of Kyle than Heyes. He’d been right. Kyle had spilled the whole story in front of the entire gang who still clustered around him. Their laughter had yet to die down.
Curry waited, but his partner said nothing. He dropped down next to Heyes and reached for the bottle. “What happened?” he asked softly.
Furious brown eyes shot up to his. “You know what happened. It was just like Kyle said. Go ahead. Laugh.”
“Heyes,” the Kid said carefully, “I ain’t laughin’. How’d those yahoots get the drop on you?”
Seeing no derision in Curry’s eyes, Heyes’ anger dissipated. “I don’t know. I was tired.”
“You can’t be tired, Heyes, not if you want to keep breathin’. Dammit!” exploded the Kid, “I should’ve gone with you; this wouldn’t have happened. I could’ve disguised myself. The sheriff wouldn’t have recognized me.”
“We couldn’t risk it.”
“We should’ve risked it. You know things always go wrong when we separate.”
“I don’t need a damned nursemaid!” shouted Heyes, drawing his gang’s attention to him. He grabbed the bottle from the Kid’s hand. “Leave me alone.”
Curry stood up and walked over to the men who stood looking at their angry dark-haired leader. “All right, boys, show’s over. Hank, Lobo, build us another fire over there. Preacher, if you still have that old deck of cards, now’d be a good time to pull it out. I got another bottle of whiskey I’ll fetch. Wheat, Kyle’s gonna need a saddle blanket or two for the night.” The outlaws scurried off to do his bidding. They were soon settled down in front of a new fire and passed the evening quietly, each of them occasionally casting a glance in Heyes’ direction.
The boys had taken the cancellation of the job pretty well considering the time and effort they’d all made with the preparations. Curry was grateful and generous with his whiskey. They kept their voices low, but Wheat couldn’t resist having Kyle repeat his story several times. The soft sound of muted laughter filled the night.
Finally, the Kid looked over and saw that Heyes had passed out on his side, the empty bottle still clasped to his chest. He turned back to his gang. “Time to hit the sack, boys.”
“How come? It ain’t like we can pull the job tomorrow. We ain’t got the gear,” observed Lobo.
“It’s time, ‘cause I say it’s time. Any arguments to that?” The Kid’s face warned them. The outlaws reluctantly settled up their bets and shuffled off to retrieve their bedrolls.
Wheat laid a saddle blanket on the ground near the new fire and settled his open bedroll over him and Kyle.
The sleepy, little outlaw grumbled a thank you and rolled over.
Curry picked up his own bedroll and tossed it over Heyes, keeping the canvas fabric well away from the fire. He threw some more logs on the fire and settled down across the flames from his partner, his own saddle blanket clutched tightly around him. He felt chilled; but more by Kyle’s story than by the night’s coldness.
When he woke, his partner was still crumpled in the position he’d last seen him. Curry stood up stiffly and threw another log on the fire, poking at it with a stick until the flames appeared. He walked over to each of his sleeping men and thumped their feet with his boot. “Rise and shine,” he said to each man softly, adding, “and you’ll be quiet about it if you know what’s good for you.”
By the time the morning’s ablutions had been completed, and breakfast had been consumed, the Kid turned his attention to Heyes. Walking quietly over to the snoring lump, he gently shoved his partner’s feet. Nothing. He reached down to push a shoulder, but was stopped short by the sound of Heyes’ rasping, whiskey-soaked voice. “Touch me again and I’ll kill you.”
Grinning, Curry stood up. “C’mon, Heyes, time to get up. We gotta hit the trail.”
“Go…away,” growled the bedroll.
“Get a move on; it ain’t safe for us to linger here.”
The Kid glanced over his shoulder at his men. They were still tacking up their mounts, nearly ready to go. It was going to be a long, slow trip back to the Hole. Heyes and Kyle were going to have to double up with him and Wheat. He shook his head, discouraged. They’d all started out from home with big expectations. The job was going to be piece of cake according to Heyes. He, on the other hand, had been pensive ever since he’d heard those words slip from his partner’s lips, ‘What could go wrong?’ Well, it had gone wrong, and there were lots of ways it could’ve gone a whole lot more wrong.
Making a decision, he walked back to the other fire ring and poured a mugful of the coffee from a pot that had been left to stay warm by the fire. He flinched slightly at the acrid odor that wafted from the mug. It smelled like it could peel paint from a wall; just the way Heyes liked it. He stood and carried the mug back over to his partner setting it down on the ground far enough away that Heyes couldn’t reach it without crawling out from under the bedroll, but near enough for him to smell it.
Curry waited. He knew Heyes. First the bedroll shifted slightly. Then a hand appeared and clawed its way towards the coffee only to fall a couple of feet short of the enticing brew. A groan rose to his ears. He stood still. The covers moved again and a tousled head poked out. The effort was too much and the head flopped sideways into the dirt. One bloodshot eye, rolled open, and stared up at him, trying its damnedest to focus.
“Ugh. Hand me the mug,” mewled Heyes pitifully.
“Get it yourself,” said the Kid. Somehow, Heyes managed to glare at him from his flattened point-of-view. He chuckled softly and waited.
With another groan, Heyes stretched out from under the bedroll and dragged himself to within reach of the coffee. Curry seized the bedroll and snatched it away just as his partner’s fist closed around the mug.
“Hey!” yelled Heyes before moaning at the sound of his own, raised voice. Curry swept the bedroll away and rolled it up, securing it to the back of his saddled gelding. He kept his eye on Heyes who had dragged the coffee to his lips and was sipping it gingerly, still prone on the ground, his head only raised far enough to ingest the needed elixir. The Kid walked past him to the other fire ring and returned with the pot, re-filling Heyes’ mug, and setting the pot down next to him.
The gang finished packing up, the two fires were extinguished, and the boys were mounted before Curry returned to stand over his partner. Heyes looked terrible. Bits of leaves were stuck in his hair and his face was worn and puffy, but he already looked better than he had and it was plain to see that his disposition was improving.
“You ready?” asked the Kid.
“To go home. What did you think?”
“I was thinking maybe you and I could hang around for a day or so. Maybe let Wheat take the boys home.” Heyes didn’t look at him as he spoke and Curry understood exactly what he was getting at.
“You want to go after those three?”
A small, nearly imperceptible nod from Heyes confirmed his intentions.
“Why?” asked the Kid.
Heyes looked up at him. The Kid found it almost painful looking into those mournful, red-streaked eyes. “They took my gun, my horse, my pride, and my hat. I’ve gotta go after them.”
“No, you don’t. You can buy another horse, hat, and gun. And you’ve got more pride than a man has need for.”
“They took my watch, too. If I don’t go after them, the boys will lose respect for me. I can’t let that happen.”
Curry hated it when Heyes was right. He sighed, and capitulated. “Let me go tell Wheat. Finish up that coffee. You’re gonna need it.”
Taking pity on his battered friend, the Kid smiled, “Hey, what are partners for?”
Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Location : Over the rainbow
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:39 am|| |
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight Old Scottish proverb
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Location : Over the rainbow
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:48 am|| |
Congratulations, Riders. Great story and a wonderful character
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight Old Scottish proverb
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Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 52
Location : Scotland
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:08 am|| |
Loved the story, makes me laugh every time. Hoke is a great character, sweet and lethal.
"I can resist everything - except temptation" Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
Posts : 812
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 64
Location : Seattle
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:30 pm|| |
A well deserved win, you know I love this story!
"If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning." Mae West
Posts : 1356
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 45
Location : The Hideout
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:49 am|| |
Congratulations Riders! A wonderful story about a wonderfully jinxed character!
Come to the dark side...we have cookies
|Subject: Re: Story of the Year May- Aug || |
Story of the Year May- Aug