Story of the Year!
|Which one of our wonderful writers wins your vote for Story Of The Year|
|1. Storm - Hunkeydorey - Gertrude stands up to the Devil's Hole Gang when they rob her bank and gets swept off her feet.|| 32% ||[ 6 ]|
|2. January - Hell Bent for Leather - RosieAnnie. Two desperate ex-outlaws are at the end of their tethers when the bump into a face from their past. Will they go back to a life of crime?|| 37% ||[ 7 ]|
|3. July - Crossing The Line - Riders. Hoke is 'axing' for trouble with the Kid. See what I did there???|| 31% ||[ 6 ]|
|Total Votes : 19|
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Story of the Year! Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:04 am|| |
So, the votes are in and we are now through to the finals of 'Story Of The Year.' Which one of your fantastic finalists is your favourite and deserves your well-considered vote to win? Your candiates are:September - Storm HunkeydoreyJanuary- Hell Bent for leatherRosieAnnie July - Crossing the LineRiders The stories are below so you can refresh your memories and the poll will be open until the end of November to give everyone a chance to vote.
Time to vote!
Last edited by Admin on Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:21 am; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Story 1 - Hunkeydorey - Storming In Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:19 am|| |
Story 1 Hunkeydorey - Storming In
Gertrude Morris was a redoubtable woman by anyone’s standards. Her late father had owned large tracts of land and had been a bit of a laughing-stock for his ability to choose the least fertile earth, the most arid areas and the rockiest ranges; but he had an eye for mineral rights and had promptly built up a mining business which quickly wiped the smiles of everyone’s faces.
By the time Gertrude’s mother died, the mines were running dry, but by a fortunate happenstance the end of the mines coincided with the new railroads snapping up land. Gertrude had proven herself to be a canny negotiator and prevailed upon her father to take a combination of shares and cash. The woman who strode down the main street of Mullerville wasn’t exactly popular but was well-heeled enough not to care. Some said she was above herself and held her nose so high she’d drown in a rainstorm, others muttered that she had managed to buy everything but a man; but nobody had the courage to say any of this to her face. The keen, grey eyes were as sharp as her tongue. It was easy to say she didn’t suffer fools because she didn’t suffer anyone; especially not those she considered too smart for their own good. There was a place for everyone and if they didn’t know where that was she had a knack of putting them firmly in it.
The hand which rattled the doorknob of the bank did not belong to a woman who was going to take ‘no’ for an answer. It was ten to five on a Wednesday. It should still be open. In fact, Gertrude was going to make sure that it was. She had shares in this place and was not prepared to be inconvenienced by layabouts and goldbrickers.
“Wheat!” Heyes positively bellowed at the outlaw holding his gun in the face of the matron who stormed in the back door of the bank. “Shut that door. I thought you’d locked it?”
“I checked! I swear I did,” Wheat muttered. He lowered his gun but still kept it levelled at the bantam quivering with anger at the audacity of the man who had confronted her.
“How could you have checked it?” Heyes growled. “She just strolled right in on us. That could’ve been the law.”
Wheat scowled. “Yeah, well it weren’t. It was an old lady.”
“Old! How dare you?” Wheat felt his chest prodded by a rolled-up parasol. “I’m probably no more than ten years older than you are, although it’s hard to tell under all that hair and grime.”
“Wow, that old? And ya can still chew your own meat?” Kyle snickered, rapidly regretting the comment when Gertrude pinned him with an arctic glare. “I didn’t mean no disrespect, ma’am. It was aimed at him, not you.” Kyle shuffled from foot to foot. “I’m sure you chaw just fine,” the woman’s grey eyes narrowed to slits. “In fact, you look like you’re gonna chew me out any minute now.”
“And she’d be right to. Show the lady some respect,” the Kid drawled. Gertrude’s head tilted back as she looked the approaching gunman up and down. “Ma’am, will you please step this way?”
The Kid’s eyebrows gathered in a frown. “Why? Because I said so. Now, I asked you nicely...”
“Your friend is pointing a gun at me. What’s nice about that?” Gertrude whacked Wheat on the arm with her parasol. “Put that thing away. Didn’t your mother teach you anything?”
Wheat’s top lip curled in anger. “Yeah, she taught me that women may not hit harder, but they sure hit lower.”
Heyes glared at Wheat before nodding a mute instruction to the Kid and putting his ear back to the safe.
“Ma’am, it ain’t a good idea to hit a man who’s holdin’ a gun on you,” the softness of the Kid’s words didn’t match the firm set of his chin.
The Kid gave a snort of irritation. “You sure ask that a lot. It’s dangerous, now come with me.”
“Dangerous? Nonsense,” Gertrude eyed her moustachioed opponent up and down. “If he was going to shoot he’d have done it by now.” She raised her weapon once more only to have it dragged from her hand by the Kid. “Give me that back!”
“Ma’am, I’ve asked you nicely, now I’m tellin’ you. Come with me and I’ll take you to the rest of the customers. We have work to do and you’re gettin’ in the way.”
“Why?” The rolling blue eyes accompanied a snort. “It’s like dealin’ with a two year old; because I said so.”
“No,” Gertrude shook her head. “Why should I let the likes of you rob this place?”
“Because you ain’t got a choice, ma’am,” the Kid’s eyes narrowed. “Now, I never like to manhandle a lady, so if you’re determined to stay here and watch, go ahead.” He signalled with his head to Kyle and Wheat. “Go and keep an eye on the other customers. I’ll deal with this.”
“This? I’m not a ‘this,’ nor am I a customer.”
The Kid heaved a sigh and folded his arms. “Yeah? How would you describe yourself?”
“The owner. At least, I own thirty five percent of it.” She stared straight at Heyes. “Stop that immediately, young man.”
Heyes seemed oblivious to the command. His dimples deepened and he pulled back from the safe. The Kid gave a whistle of admiration as the door opened like a sigh. “You ain’t lost it, Heyes. That was what; five, six minutes tops.”
“About that. I wasn’t counting.” He stood to admire the contents. “It’s a Griffiths and Sons. Stealing apples from an orchard is harder than getting into one of these babies.” He patted the top proprietarily. “The bank couldn’t have helped us more if they’d bagged it up and left it on the counter.”
“My manager assured me it was the best money could buy,” Gertrude exclaimed. “That cost a fortune.”
“This?” Heyes gave a cynical laugh. “Second, maybe even third-hand. Real cheap.” He scratched the top with a coin revealing some forest-green paint. “It’s been touched up to make it look new. Don’t tell me you trust this man?”
“Yes. The board interviewed him together. He came highly recommended by the Mayor of Barlow, not to mention a Bishop. He beat all other candidates based on his recommendations.”
Heyes and the Kid exchanged a glance before they burst out laughing.
“A Bishop?” chortled Heyes. “Not a Governor or minor Royalty?”
“What’s so funny?” Gertrude demanded.
“It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, ma’am,” the Kid smiled. “Fake references.”
“But they replied,” she stammered.
“Yeah. By letter I’ll bet?” Heyes grinned, “real promptly?”
“Well, yes...” Gertrude’s brows knotted. “They were glowing.”
Heyes bent to grab a wad of cash. “I’ll bet. You do realise he probably wrote them himself and had a stooge post them?”
“I will not stand here and listen to a good man being abused by common guttersnipes.”
Heyes turned slowly and fixed the matron with his most glittering smile. “Common? There’s nothing ordinary about us, ma’am, I can assure you and at least when we rob you we have the courtesy to do it to your face.”
Gertrude glowered at both men in turn. “You are cracksmen; pilfering good-for-nothing larcenists.”
“You missed out ‘crack shots.” Heyes nodded towards the Kid, “especially him.”
“You’re proud of it?”
Heyes pondered for a moment and shrugged. “We’re proud of being good at anything we do. There are too many greedy, violent men in this line.” His eyes darkened along with his voice. “If you’d stormed in on the wrong men you’d be dead by now – if you were lucky. We’re not those kinds of men.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Nope. It’s a simple fact.” Heyes riffled the wad of notes through his fingers and stiffened. “The payroll came in today. The safe should be full.”
“It is full,” Gertrude huffed. “At least, for the moment.”
Heyes pursed his lips and fixed the Kid with a hard stare. “It’s full, but not with money. See for yourself.” He handed over the wedge of notes bound with a paper band. See for yourself.”
The woman turned the bundle in her hand. “It’s money...”
“The notes at either end are,” Heyes arched a brow. “Look in the middle of the bundle.”
“Newspaper?” The matron eyed the outlaws suspiciously. “What have you done?”
“You watched me open the safe, ma’am. The payroll was already like that.”
“Do you take me for an idiot? I refuse to believe you. What are the chances of meeting two sets of thieves on the same day?”
“If you leave the house, about a hundred percent,” Heyes watched the Kid root through the stacks of notes, tossing each aside with disgust. “You may believe in the goodness of your fellow man, but I’ve found most folks are so crooked you could screw them into the ground. They’re honest when you’re watching. If I ran a bank I’d be watching all the time.”
“Well, you would think that; surrounding yourself with guttersnipes. It’s the company you keep.”
Heyes strode over to the ledger, a long finger following his eyes down the column. “Yup, the manager signed in seventeen thousand dollars. So, Mrs...?” He eyed the woman expectantly.
“Miss. Miss Morris.”
Heyes nodded. “Miss Morris, how do you explain the fact that we appear to be down at least seventeen thousand dollars? We never took it,” he folded his arms. “In fact, it leaves us in quite a sticky situation.”
“In what way?”
“My partner and I may not be violent, but there’s a whole gang of men in there who are expecting to be paid from this theft.”
The partners exchanged a glance.
“They ain’t gonna be happy,” the Kid shook his head ruefully. “Newspaper cuttings don’t buy many...” he paused to muse on the general post-robbery expenditure and thought the better of finishing the sentence as previously planned in present company, “beers.” He nodded firmly and scratched his chin. “Yeah, drinks... and things.”
“Your manager is a thief, Miss Morris.” Heyes fixed the woman with intense dark eyes.
“So? Do you expect sympathy because he beat you to it?” she crowed.
Heyes tilted his head. “Hey, you’re in as much trouble as I am.”
The smile fell from Gertrude’s pinched face. “I don’t see why, young man.”
“What would you lose if this bank failed?”
She carefully adjusted her mousey bun. “Well, I do have a lot tied up in this bank.”
“I’m guessing you’d be ruined.” Heyes narrowed his eyes. “It’s got to be hard to start again, for an unmarried woman...”
The little pointed chin tilted at him defiantly. “That’s where you’re wrong. We’re insured against theft.”
“Really?” Heyes leaned casually against the safe. “How do you insure against an inside job? Do you really think they’ll pay out?”
Both outlaws watched the woman shift from foot to foot.
“They ain’t gonna pay out if you steal it yourself, ma’am.”
“I haven’t stolen anything!”
Heyes’ grin became infuriatingly broad. “Yeah, that’s what we say when we get caught too.”
“How dare you? If Michael Caruthers has stolen the money it is nothing to do with me. I will make sure he faces the full force of the law!”
“That’s one option,” the Kid strolled over and stood beside his partner, “but then you lose everything.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. The money’s gone and the insurance won’t pay out.” Heyes shook his head ruefully. “You’ve lost everything.”
“Not everything,” doubt played over the grey eyes. “I still have my railway shares.”
“Yeah, that’s the spirit. You’ll have some income. What does respect matter when you have all your family and friends around you.” The Kid rubbed his hands together and headed towards the door guessing that he’d hit a nerve. “Well, let’s tell them. Best get it over with.”
“She looks like she’s fairly comfortable too Kid.” Heyes followed his partner to the door. “It’s a crying shame she wouldn’t listen to sense. Her life will be ruined, well, except for her shares in the railway.
”The sharp nose pricked up like a terrier scenting rabbits in the wind. “Sense?”
The outlaws turned to face her in unison. “Well, yeah.” Heyes kept a hand on the door handle to drive home his message. “You do realise that if we steal the money you’re covered by your insurance, but if Caruthers does...”
“But he did!”
Blue eyes met brown. “Yeah...we know that, but when we walk out and announce that to everyone you’re done for.” Heyes smiled but his posture was reminiscent of a serpent ready to strike, “However, if we’re known to have taken it, you’re insured. The question is; what’s in it for us?”
Gertrude paused. “What do you mean?”
“It’s easy, really. We’ll pretend to have stolen the payroll.” Heyes smile became even broader, “but I need you to do something for us in exchange...”
Gertrude shook her head in confusion. “What?”
Heyes turned to his cousin. “Kid, lock the door. Miss Morris and I need to talk.”
The figure closed the door quietly behind him and quickly melted into the stygian murk of a moonless night. Only the clatter of the heels on the boardwalk betrayed the sounds of the man scurrying down the board walk.
The footsteps suddenly ceased; an indication that the man had either stopped or stepped down onto the damp earth of the road. The hunter following his quarry followed his instincts and pressed on. If his guess was right, there would be no loitering on street corners tonight.
The covert pursuit continued, using the most minuscule sounds through the night. There was no chance of seeing anything other than movement in the blackness, but the old tracking skills were invaluable in keeping up with the target and the hunt continued with stealth and patience until there were the undeniable sounds of a wooden bar being slid through slots.
The Kid smiled to himself. Yup, the doors to the stables were being opened. The man slid inside the building and closed the door quietly behind him. It took no more than a few minutes before the glow of light crept through the cracks around the door.
Thick fingers fumbled with the leather straps and buckles, completely distracting the man from the outlaw leader who moved from the shadows with the grace of a cat.
Michael Caruthers spun around, fumbling towards his holster for his gun.
“Nu uh,” Heyes shook his head, a casual smile gently warning the bank manager against the folly of underestimating the danger of his already drawn gun. “Get those hands up and keep them there.” The door creaked open. “Hey, Kid. Look who I found. The manager of the bank we robbed today; heading out of town by the looks of things.”
“Yup,” the Kid walked over to the saddlebag and flipped it open. “I guess we found the money from the payroll, Heyes.” He picked it up and draped it over his shoulder. “I’d have headed out earlier than this. You must have known The Devil’s Hole Gang would have spotted that most of the money had been replaced by newspaper pretty soon. Why’d you wait so long?”
The bank manager shuffled nervously in the straw. “Nobody spotted it in the bank. If I’d gone before dark, folks might have thought I’d helped you and arrested me.”
The two outlaws shared a conversation in a glance. “Yeah, they probably would. Well, I gotta thank you. We got what we came for and they all think The Devil’s Hole Gang took the payroll this afternoon, so there’s no reason for you to hot-foot it out of town anymore.” Heyes flicked up an eyebrow. “Either way the bank stays robbed.”
The Kid narrowed his eyes. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
Caruthers averted his eyes, unable to hold the gunman’s cold scrutiny. “No.”
“I do.” The Kid strode forward and examined the banker more closely. “Lose that moustache, take off about twenty pounds and the same amount of years...” He reached out and pulled off the man’s hat. “Yeah, it is. It’s Jake Cody. You remember the Codys, Heyes. His Pa was a friend of Soapy’s. No wonder he hung back in the corner like that in the bank.”
Heyes’ eyes lit up with recognition, warming the smile which had previously been no more than artfully arranged. “Jake Cody! Yeah, it’s been years. How are you doing?”
A nervous smile flickered over the man’s face. “My arms ache from holding them up for so long; other than that, I’m good.”
“You found an easier way to steal?” the Kid grinned. “We knew there was some kind of flim flam goin’ on when Miss Morris told us all about the references.” He strode over and removed the man’s gun before patting him down for concealed weapons. “You can drop your hands, Jake.”
“There was no need to remove my gun, Kid. I’d never try to outdraw you.” Jake dropped his arms and shrugged. “I’m a thief, not an idiot.”
“No?” Heyes shook his head, ruefully. “Replacing the payroll with newspaper? Didn’t you think anyone would notice?”
“I’d have been outta here tonight but for you lot,” Jake sighed, heavily. “What were the chances that I’d be robbed that very day? I’d spent nearly a year planning this and then you lot waltz in and take the lot from right under my nose.” His eyes widened hopefully. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance you’d be interested in splitting it three ways?”
“Dream on, Jake,” Heyes holstered his weapon. “You’ll find another mark. I’m guessing your family provided the references?”
“Yup.” Jake sighed. “It was worth a try, I suppose.”
“Yeah, it’s always worth try.” Heyes nodded. “Now get out of here, Jake. They’re onto you. Miss Morris knows you’re a fake. We found out that the newspaper was substituted at the bank.”
Jake’s brow creased in curiosity. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because she wouldn’t get the insurance money if it was an inside job, that’s why.”
“You’re getting soft, Heyes,” Jake scowled. “I can’t believe you fell for that ‘little-old-lady’ act. The woman’s a coyote. That face of hers may be her own chaperone, but at least it gives a man a clue about her nature.”
“Her nature?” the Kid scowled. “She’s a woman alone who’s had to make her own way in the world. You’re a thief, Jake. She had to protect herself against men like you.”
Jake rolled his eyes. “I might have guessed you’d be stickin’ up for her, Kid. You always had a soft spot for the ladies. I never pegged her for your type, though. She’s a mouse studying to be a rat.”
“She’s better than any of us, Jake. You’ve just gone too far to remember that she’s more than just a mark.” The Kid gestured towards the horse. “Get saddled up and get out of here.”
Jake moved nervously towards the horse and finished tacking her up. “I never thought I’d see the day that Kid Curry would get so soft.”
Arctic blue eyes glowered across at the confidence trickster. “That ain’t your problem, Jake. What you want to worry about is seein’ me get angry and you’re headin’ that way real fast.”
Jake swung himself up into the saddle. “I guess. Good seeing you boys again. Maybe we’ll meet again.”
“Let’s hope not, huh?”
The Kid flung the door open and the animal battered off into the darkness. “I knew there was a reason we got outta that game. Men like him make my skin crawl.”
“Lost your taste for flim flam, Kid? Is that any more dishonest than what we do?”
“Yeah, it depends on the mark. We only ever went for greedy; he goes for easy. He destroys lives; ya gotta have standards or we’re no better than the kind who hit our folks.”
Heyes nodded. “Yeah, we’ve played fair. She got the evidence for a decent insurance claim, so her bank won’t go down. We’ve explained to her how to choose a better manager and recommended a good safe; but none of that compares to the service you provided, Kid.”
Heyes grinned, mischievously. “She had to be seen as the woman who stood up to The Devil’s Hole Gang to have credibility in this town and let’s face it, that’s all she had, apart from a little money, until she met you.”
“What’re you talkin’ about, Heyes.”
“You carried her back into the bank as part of the act. I saw her face when you threw her over your shoulder. She loved it.”
The Kid frowned. “It made everything look real for folks when we took her into the bank. I’d never manhandle a woman without her permission. She asked me to do it.”
“Yeah, I know that, Kid. All those years without human contact does something to a person; that was a special moment to her. She gave us the schedule of payrolls being carried on other lines of the railway she part owns in exchange for us giving her the evidence for an insurance claim,” Heyes’ eyes danced with devilment. “You on the other hand, gave her something entirely more personal.”
“Shut up, Heyes.”
“Why?” Heyes chuckled and followed his partner from the stable. “You’re one of life’s givers.”
“Yeah? Keep this up and see what I give you.”
They wandered out into the darkness and disappeared into the shadows, bickering lightly.
“What’s wrong? Can’t you take a compliment?”
“The problem with havin’ a war of words with you, Heyes, is that you’re the only one who gets to use any.”
“There was something on your shoulder, Heyes. Honest there was.”
Posts : 8718
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Story 2 - RosieAnnie - Hell Bent For Leather Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:23 am|| |
Hell Bent For Leather - RosieAnnie
Heyes pushed the creaking door open. In the dim moonlight from the window, he could just barely see an oil lamp. Curry waited quietly in the hall while Heyes struck a match to the wick, and a feeble light illuminated the shabby hotel room. Curry squeezed past Heyes, dropping his saddlebags onto the floor. He sat on the nearest bed, gingerly testing the mattress. Satisfied, he lay down across the bed, with his feet on the floor.
Heyes adjusted the lamp to burn brighter. In the dresser mirror, he saw Curry collapse onto the bed. Heyes put his own saddlebags on the dresser and took off his hat, carefully hanging it on a peg.
“You planning to sleep that way?” Heyes asked.
“What way?” Curry answered, eyes closed.
“With your coat and hat on. Wearing that hogleg.”
There was a pitcher and bowl on the dresser. Heyes lifted the pitcher carefully and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was full. He poured water into the bowl and splashed some on his face. Running wet fingers through his dirty hair, he looked at himself in the mirror and saw a three-day stubble of dark beard, deep circles under the eyes, and pale skin. His eyes shifted to Curry’s reflection. Curry looked worse than he did. Heyes took a towel from the rack and, wiping his face, went to stand next to his friend.
“How’re you doing, Kid?”
“Wonderful.” Heyes put the towel on the nightstand, got down on one knee, and pulled Curry’s boots off. Curry neither resisted nor helped.
“Good to hear, Kid. I was afraid that little tumble you took might’ve bruised you up some.”
“I’ve had better days.”
Heyes got up. His knees creaked.
“Why don’t you take off your coat and hat and stay for a while?” Curry slowly sat up, grunting. Giving his hat to Heyes, he unbuttoned his sheepskin jacket, and Heyes helped him shrug out of it. Heyes knew better than to help with Curry’s gunbelt; he waited, holding Curry’s coat and hat, while Curry unbuckled the gunbelt and hung it on the brass headboard, within easy reach.
Curry sat slumped on the edge of the bed, head hanging, elbows on knees and hands clasped, while Heyes hung his coat and hat in the wardrobe. The clothes put away, Heyes went back to check on his exhausted partner.
“No,” Curry said. He looked up at Heyes’ concerned face and forced a small smile. “Don’t look like that, Heyes. I reckon I’m more tired than hungry.”
“How about I go down to the dining room and bring us back a couple sandwiches? That sound good?”
Curry tried to get up, but Heyes pushed him back down with a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“You need me to watch your back, Heyes. There’s no telling if any of that posse trailed us here.”
“Not a chance, Kid. They’re heading to Mexico by now. Besides, it ain’t likely I’ll see anyone who knows me, especially since the restaurant’s just about to close.”
Kid looked at Heyes’ drawn face. Heyes looked as bad as he felt. He looked at the pillow. He looked again at Heyes.
“You just rest for a bit, Kid. I’ll be back in no time.”
Kid looked at the pillow again. He felt like it was calling his name.
“Okay, Heyes. Just stay out of trouble.”
“I’ll be meek as a church mouse. Promise.” He released Curry’s shoulder, and Curry lay on his side and closed his eyes.
Heyes was almost out of the room when Curry spoke up.
Despite his worry, Heyes smiled at his partner. “Got it.”
No customers were in the dining room when Heyes arrived. He glanced at a large wall clock – it was 9:02, and the restaurant closed at nine. A short balding waiter was picking up salt shakers from the tables. Heyes cleared his throat. The man turned around, frowning.
“Dining room’s closed, mister.”
Heyes pointed to the clock. “Only for two minutes. Can’t I get something to take back to my room?”
The little man straightened up, surprised. “You’re a guest here?” This skinny cowboy dressed in raggedy clothes didn’t look like he had ten cents to his name.
“Yes, sir, me and my partner just checked in. We sure could use some food.”
“Well. . . “ the waiter hesitated, torn between his desire to go home and the boss’s insistence to take good care of guests. “If the dining room supervisor says it’s alright. Kitchen’s supposed to be closed.”
“That’d be real kind of you. Anything you got would be fine, as long as it’s got no onions. ” Frowning again, the man went into the kitchen. Heyes waited, looking around at the comfortable dining room chairs, all arranged neatly around the tables. If he sat down, he might fall asleep right then and there.
The wall clock ticked loudly. Five minutes passed. Heyes was trying to decide if he should go looking for the waiter when he heard clicking footsteps behind the kitchen door. He put on his best smile that lasted only two seconds after the door opened. He sure wasn’t expecting to see her in this place. She recognized him, too. The shock on her face was almost comical.
“Hello, Louise.” He pointed at the tray she was carrying. “Is that for me?”
Her jaw hung low. She looked quickly around the room. They were alone.
“What are you doing here?” she whispered loudly.
“I’m here for dinner.”
“That’s not what I meant! Why are you in Yuma? Did you come here looking for me?”
He ran one hand through his long hair. “No, Louise. Why we’re here is a long story, but it’s not about you. Seeing you is just a happy coincidence.”
She almost threw the tray at him. “Here’s some cold chicken with slaw and bread. Take it and go.”
“Don’t you want to know what room to bill it to?”
“No,” she hissed. “Just go.”
“Why Miss Carson,” he said. “What kind of greeting is this? Especially after all we’ve been through.”
She opened her mouth, ready to tell him off, when, all of a sudden, her anger evaporated. He was smiling, trying to charm her. The deep dimples were still there, but his big brown eyes were dull. He was thinner than she remembered, too. His clothes were threadbare and dirty. This wasn’t the man she’d known two years ago.
“Are you alright, Mr. Smith?” The concern in her quiet voice surprised him.
“I will be, once I get to eat. Thanks for this.”
“Is your friend with you?”
“I see.” They looked at each other without speaking. After a long moment, Heyes turned away.
“I ought to get back. Thaddeus gets cranky when he’s hungry.”
“You’d better go then. Unless you need something else right now?”
“No, Louise. Thank you. I guess you’re the supervisor here?”
“Yes, I am. Almost since I arrived in Yuma.”
“Yeah, well. . . that’s good, Louise, real good. I guess I’ll be seeing you again, since we’re staying here.”
“Yes, you probably will. And I’m sorry I was so sharp with you earlier. When I saw you, I thought. . . well, I thought you were here about what happened before.”
“Not a problem, Miss Carson. Good night.”
“Good night.” Louise moved to hold the door open for Heyes, who was balancing the heavy tray. He smiled his thanks. Halfway up the stairs, he paused and looked back. She was standing at the door, watching him.
Heyes kicked the door of his hotel room. “Hey Thaddeus, can you open up? My hands are full.” There was no answer. Frowning, Heyes put the tray on the floor and opened the door cautiously. Curry was laying on his side, snoring loudly. Heyes picked the tray up and put it on the dresser, closing the door behind him and locking it. Curry opened one eye and looked at his partner blearily.
“Sure thing, Kid. You want to eat? Got some chicken, courtesy of Louise Carson.”
Something about the name woke Curry up a little. “Who?”
“Louise Carson, remember her? The waitress who was fooling around with that asshole who murdered Jenny’s boy Billy and implicated us?”
“Oh.” Ancient history wasn’t interesting to Curry just at that moment.
“She’s still real pretty.”
Curry punched his pillow and settled down again. “That’s nice.”
“You want some of this chicken?”
“Maybe later,” Curry mumbled into the pillow.
Heyes sat in the armchair. He was still hungry, but he felt too tired to take even one more step. He didn’t know he wanted to do, so he sat and watched Curry sleep. Eventually, he closed his eyes. His mind was racing, but it wasn’t the events of the last week keeping him awake. Instead, Louise Carson occupied his thoughts. Her face was the last thing in his mind’s eye when he slipped off into a light sleep.
The next few days passed quietly. Heyes spent half that first night in the chair, finally crawling into bed in the small hours. He and Curry slept past noon and gratefully ate the cold chicken Louise provided. Both men bathed, sent their dirty clothes to be laundered, and went back to bed. Neither felt well enough to go out, although each man made halfhearted attempts to get out for the other’s benefit. Room service regularly brought meals up, much to Heyes’ surprise and concern. The next afternoon Heyes went to the front desk to see what this was costing him and was stunned to find the hotel had no record of any charges beyond the cost of the room.
On the third day, clean, shaved, and wearing his last good shirt, Heyes waited on the hotel’s front porch for Louise to arrive for work. He saw her walking down the wooden sidewalk, wearing a sensible shirtdress, her long brown hair braided and worn like a crown on her head. He stood up to greet her when she reached the steps.
“Good morning, Miss Carson. Hot day, isn’t it?”
“Good morning, Mr. Smith. Yes, it’s always hot in Yuma.” Standing fully five feet apart, neither could think of another thing to say. Louise looked at him closely.
“You seem to be feeling better, Mr. Smith.”
“If I am, it’s because I’ve been able to clean up and eat well. I believe I have you to thank for that.”
She moved closer to him so she could speak quietly. “I do have some discretion as a manager to take care of preferred guests, Mr. Smith. Even so, let’s keep this between us, shall we?”
“I never look a gift horse in the mouth, Miss Carson.” She made a face, and Heyes realized what he had said maybe didn’t sound so good. “Not that I think of you as a horse, I mean.”
“It’s alright, Mr. Smith. I know what you mean. I think.” They looked at each other again. The long silence was finally broken when both laughed.
“How is your friend, Mr. Smith?”
“Feeling better. He twisted his back when he fell off his horse. It’s been real sore, but he’s up and about a little bit.”
“Fell off his horse?” she asked, amused. “How did he manage to do that?”
“It ain’t hard to do when there’s eight or ten someones riding hell bent for leather, chasing you.”
She sobered instantly. “Sorry. I did hear something about that.”
He felt the old fear stiffen his body. He looked around briefly before he leaned in closer to her.
“What did you hear?”
“They’re following the outlaws' trail, still riding hell bent for leather, heading into Mexico.”
“Huh,” he said, trying and failing to hide his relief with a joke. “Hope they speak good Spanish. The Mexicans don’t like American posses crossing the border.”
“No,” she said. “I’ve heard that, too.” She saw he was still tense. “What will you do?”
He wiped his sweating forehead with one hand. “Depends on how my friend’s feeling. He was hurt worse than he admits. I’d like to stay another day or two, if we can.”
“Let me know if I can do anything to help.”
“Louise, you’ve done a lot already. More than I could have asked for. Maybe you’d do one more thing for me?”
“If I can.”
“Let me buy you dinner tonight? Someplace nice? If you’re free, of course. I know you got a job to do.”
She hesitated. “Can you afford that?”
He gave her a bitter little smile. “I wouldn’t offer otherwise.”
She rested a soft hand on his arm. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You and me got a history of saying things to each other we shouldn’t. Maybe we can start over again?”
“Yes, Mr. Smith. Let’s do that. I can meet you here at, oh, 7:00pm? Today’s actually my day off. I just came by to do a little paperwork.”
“See you then, Miss Carson.” She smiled at him one more time and went inside. Heyes felt unreasonably good. Must be the prospect of spending time with a beautiful woman who didn’t want anything from him, he thought. Especially a pretty woman who knew who he was and didn’t seem anxious to collect the reward.
“You picked a nice place, Louise,” Heyes said. “A private table where we can visit without anyone overhearing us, good food, lots of good wine. And charming company. It’s the nearest thing to heaven I can imagine.”
“Your imagination is limited then,” she said. “Still, it is a nice place. The owner thinks of himself as a chef, not just a cook. He takes a lot of pride in his business.”
“Do you know him?” he asked.
She nodded. “Because of my job, I know everyone in the food service business in Yuma. He’s a friend.”
“Oh?” Heyes’ voice rose. “How good a friend?” She stared at him.
“I thought we decided to start anew, Joshua.” It was hard to tell in the dim light, but he seemed to be blushing.
“We did, Louise. I’m sorry. Sometimes stupid things come out of my mouth. I can’t seem to stop them. You’re the last person I want to hurt, especially after all you’ve done for us.”
He looked so earnest, she wanted to hug him. Instead, she changed the subject.
“The last time I saw you, you mentioned that you and your friend were trying to change your lives. How is that going?”
He reached for the wine glass. It was empty. Louise obligingly filled it for him, and he took a long swallow. The wine was going down real easy. “We changed, alright. We changed from eating regular and sleeping in beds and getting medical care to sleeping on the ground, going hungry – “ he tipped his glass at Louise – “except when some kind woman takes pity on us, and bandaging each other up, because the local doctor’s been warned to look out for a pair of broken-down old outlaws. We take the dirty, dangerous jobs no one else will take, and only sometimes we get paid for them. Yeah, we changed.” This time, Louise did reach across to comfort him. He gripped her small hand tightly.
“Sometimes, I think, is this what we deserve for everything we did before? I mean, did we earn this, because of all the bad we did? The way things are, we got no more control over our own lives than a tumbleweed does blowing around Yuma. We’re nothing. We’re dirt. Sometimes I feel like just giving up, you know?”
Louise’s eyes were sympathetic, and she was listening closely. Maybe that’s why he was talking so much. That, and all the wine he’d had.
“You know what, Louise? Lately I been thinking, maybe we should just go back to doing what we know how to do. We’re probably going to end up dead or in prison anyway. Might as well go out on a high. At least my belly’d be full, and I’d be wearing decent clothes.”
“What does your partner say?” she asked.
“Not much. Oh, I know he’s still hurting some, but that ain’t it. He’s quiet. Doesn’t talk much. Doesn’t want to do anything but sit in the room. That’s not like him at all. And there don’t seem to be anything I can say or do to make him feel better.”
“I’m so sorry, Joshua. I wish I could help you.” He noticed tears welling up in her eyes, and he kicked himself mentally. Why was he telling her his life story? She was just a casual acquaintance. He hadn’t spent more than six hours of his life in her company. Now he was spilling his guts to her. He pulled his hand free and sat up straight.
“I’m sorry, too, Louise. I shouldn’t be dumping on you. You’ve been more generous to me and my partner than we deserve. It’s sure a lot more than I expect from anybody these days. What about you? I remember you were coming out here to live with your sister. You were hoping to find somebody nice, maybe get married. How’s that working out?”
“It’s not, Joshua.” He looked so surprised, she laughed out loud. “What, you never met an old maid before?”
“Not one as beautiful as you, Louise. There must be something wrong with the men in Yuma, if they’re passing you by.”
“Oh, they’re not passing me by, Joshua. Just the unmarried ones.” His eyes got wide again. “I’ve had more illicit offers from married men than I can count. I don’t accept any of them. I learned my lesson.”
“What about your sister? Aren’t you living with her?”
She shook her head. “No. Oh, I did, at first. It didn’t work out. Her husband was one of those married men who made an illicit offer.” Heyes shook his head.
“That’s awful, Louise. What did you do?”
“I moved out. I made up some lie to tell her, but she wasn’t fooled. She knew something was wrong. I finally told her what happened, and she got angry. She said terrible things, made all sorts of accusations. We don’t see each other anymore.”
Now Heyes reached across to hold Louise’s hand. “I’m sorry, Louise. You deserve better.”
“It’s not so bad,” she said, lightly. “I have a job, a place to live. I make my own way in the world. But sometimes, Joshua” – she took a deep breath – “I’ll tell you the truth. I want to give up, too. I want to run away and have some excitement. The thought of spending the rest of my life in this town, doing what I’m doing . . .. I’ve done nothing but work, and what do I have to show for it? A room in a boarding house, and a tiny savings account. I want to travel, do exciting things, have some adventure in my life, like you’ve had.”
“Being chased by a posse for almost a week ain’t the kind of adventure anyone wants, Louise.”
“I guess I could skip that part. Would you go back to – to what you did before with banks and trains?”
“No. The glory days of outlawing are gone. We’re talking about working the confidence game. Maybe go east to Florida, where we wouldn’t be recognized so easily.”
“I’ve heard about Florida,” she said. “Big real estate boom going on. A lot of rich easterners are buying land there.”
“Wherever rich easterners and their money goes, crooks follow,” he said. “It’s the natural order of things.”
She laughed, as he’d intended. God, she was beautiful. And sweet, and kind, and she liked him, even though she knew who he was and what he’d done. He looked at her, and, in an instant, a plan came to mind, whole and complete, and he knew it was perfect. A look of wonder crossed his face, and Louise watched his whole demeanor change.
“Joshua? What is it? What are you thinking?”
“Louise,” he began, “I got me an idea.”
The 8:10 to Tucson and points east was only halfway full. Heyes and Curry, wearing suits and carrying carpetbags, easily found seats facing each other.
“This is either the worst idea you’ve ever had, Joshua, or it’s the best. I’m not sure which.”
Heyes glanced at his partner. Curry wore his impassive poker face. “You’re still willing to go along with it, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I am.” Something in Curry’s voice made Heyes look at him closer. “You’re definitely right about one thing. Giving up was the only thing we could do, if we wanted to have any sort of a life.”
“Losing everything can be a gift, Thaddeus. There’s nothing holding you back from embracing your future.”
“Now who’s the philosopher?” Curry asked. Heyes smiled. He was feeling good.
“The only thing I feel bad about is Lom,” Curry said. “Not telling him anything, just disappearing, after all he tried to do for us.”
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. “But we got to do it. He’s an honest man, old Lom is. You know he’d feel duty-bound to come after us with a posse.”
“I know,” Curry said. “But still . . . “
“I know. Still.” The thought of leaving their old friend in the dark was his only regret. Heyes wished it could be different, but if they were leaving amnesty behind, they had to leave Lom behind, too. It was the only way.
Curry pointed out the window. “There.” Heyes looked in that direction. Louise Carson was boarding the train. Something, some instinct, made her turn towards Heyes. He was clearly visible from where she stood, but she showed no reaction; she just boarded the train calmly and went into the next car. Too many people in Yuma knew her. Being seen together now could be dangerous. Heyes grinned. She had natural talent. He knew he could teach her how to work a con in no time.
“I wasn’t really talking about you and me, Joshua,” Curry said.
“Is it a good idea to bring her into this? This kind of life, I mean.”
“It’s her decision, Thaddeus. She could have said no, and we’d still be doing what we’re doing.”
Heyes heard criticism in Curry’s voice and got a little defensive. “We already discussed this. We’ll teach her the business, and we’ll all make some serious money along the way, like we used to. Only we won’t throw it away like we did before.”
Curry held up both hands. “Alright, alright. It’ll just take some adjusting, working with a new partner.”
“It’ll be great, Thaddeus. I got a real good feeling about this.”
Heyes was smiling. He looked confident and happy, Curry thought, just like he used to be, before they’d wasted the last few years chasing the dream of amnesty. They were finished with that, finally. It was good to see Heyes excited about the future. Truth be told, Curry was feeling pretty excited, too.
“So Florida’s a peninsula, is that right?” Heyes nodded.
“Yeah. That means it’s surrounded by water.”
“That’s great,” Curry said. “That means the seafood will be really good.”
Heyes laughed. His partner was acting like his old self again.
“Yeah,” Heyes said. “A chance to do the kind of work we do best, without anyone like Lom watching over our shoulders. A warm climate, rich idiots, lots of good seafood, and a prettier partner than you. Things are looking up.”
Both men grinned happily at each other. Things were definitely looking up.
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|Subject: Story 3 - Riders - Crossing The Line Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:25 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.
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Oct 27, 2014 3:35 pm|| |
Don't forget to vote on Story of the year. I'll close the poll when I get back from Scotland on Friday the 14th November, so:
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:08 am|| |
Great story from a wonderful writer
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:57 am|| |
Clapping hard for your win, RosieAnnie.
Rome wasn't built in a day, but some of it was. Like a bit of a wall or a chunk of a bridge.
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:02 am|| |
Great win, RosieAnnie. Great story and great competitors.
Thanks to each and every person (and to MAP) for making this site the comfortable and fun place it is.
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:37 am|| |
Take a bow RosieAnnie
Huge Congratulations on a well deserved win
And well done all the other competitors that gave her a run for her money
Tomorrow I will no longer be reckless or feckless. I will do everything with both reck and feck!
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:06 am|| |
You Won "Story of the Year!"
Out of so many great entries
yours came out on top!
Love your stories, this is a well deserved win!!
"If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning." Mae West
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:18 am|| |
Are you kidding me? Come on now -- this is not for real, is it? It is?? Really? How'd this happen? There are so many terrific writers on this site. This has got to be a case of, the rising tide lifts all boats. The close vote shows the high quality of their creative effort.The writers here are not competitors, but compatriots. We support each other, and the readers, bless their hearts, support the writers.And you out there -- yes, you. You have an idea for a story. You've worked it out in your head. You look at the monthly challenges and think about how much fun it would be to play, but maybe you think you're not ready or not good enough. I'm telling you here and now that you are wrong. You are good enough. You are ready. Jump in. Join us. You'll be glad you did. How do I know? Because I was you. If I can do it, you can too. Really.Thanks to everyone who voted and participated. Now, get writing again! It's the 17th already. The 30th will be here before you know it!
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:09 pm|| |
Come to the dark side...we have cookies
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|Subject: Re: Story of the Year! || |
Story of the Year!