The next morning Tara had breakfast with Heyes and Curry in their room. They sat by the window, waiting and watching as men rode in to town and people walked about. Curry brought lunch up, and shortly after they finished eating fortune smiled upon them.
“There he is!” Tara exclaimed, bringing Heyes and Curry quickly beside her to look out the window. Strutford wore a somber gentlemen’s suit, a derby and a gun. He reined his horse in before the saloon. Even from here they could see his sour expression as though he smelled something unpleasant. They watched him dismount and vanish past the swinging doors and into the saloon.
“Well, it’s now or never,” Heyes said.
“Stay here and away from the window,” Curry told Tara. “We don’t want him to see you.” She nodded her acquiescence and watched her two friends leave the room. She turned to the window, and moments later saw them cross the street and disappear into the saloon, just as Strutford had done only minutes before. Then she obeyed Curry’s edict and left the window.
Tara was right. He didn’t drink much, and he was a terrible poker player. By late afternoon he had lost a tidy sum to Heyes and Curry. They noticed his leg was shaking under the table, and his expression grew more unpleasant with each losing hand. When the other two players left and it was just the three of them at the table, Strutford pushed back his chair and picked up his few remaining dollars.
“Hey, now, don’t rush off.” Heyes said. “Let me buy you a drink.” Strutford froze and stared at Heyes.
“Why would you want to do that?” he asked in a steely voice.
“Well I guess I feel a little bad winning so much off you. It’s the least I can do.” Heyes offered his most charming smile.
“No thanks.” His look slid to Curry as he stood, then back to Heyes.
“Now hold on mister, that ain’t too friendly, turning down his offer like that.” Curry said softly, too softly. “Why don’t you just sit down, and we’ll all have a drink together.”
Strutford looked like he was going to say something, but instead his mouth snapped shut and he slowly lowered himself into the chair.
“All right, gentlemen, what is this about?” he growled, intently studying both Heyes and Curry.
“We might have something you want,” Heyes said lightly.
“I don’t think so,” he frowned, leaning back in his chair.
“You sure about that?” Curry asked so smoothly, the man furrowed his brows and searched the Kid’s face.
“Who are you?”
“Just a couple of fellas who want to help you out,” Heyes smiled. “Let’s say we know the whereabouts of a certain … document.”
Strutford’s reaction was immediate and telling. His face grew red, his leg was shaking violently, and the fingers of his left hand began tapping furiously on the table.
“We came across this little lady with a document that someone was apparently very desperate to get their hands on,” Heyes said, “so we thought we’d help her out.”
“Where is she?”
“That don’t concern you,” answered Curry.
“You have it?” he demanded.
“We can get it.” Heyes assured him.
“Did she tell you how she came by it? The brat stole it from me.”
“That ain’t the way we heard it.” Curry said, unsmiling.
Strutford scowled. “What do you want?”
“Now that is the question, isn’t it.” Heyes smiled, but his eyes were cold.
“What’s it worth to you to get it back?” Curry asked. Strutford looked from one to the other, measuring them up. Finally he spoke.
“I could see myself clear to offer $500.”
Simultaneously Heyes and Curry pushed back their chairs and made to leave.
“All right, $1,000.” He hissed, motioning them to sit back down. They did.
“Mr. Strutford,” and he flinched at the use of his name, knowing he hadn’t given it. “We know you want this document pretty badly, and if you can’t give us a good price for it, well, we can always give it to the sheriff here and let him deal with it.”
“No!” His face contorted in anger, and they watched him struggle to get his emotions under control. “I need that document, for my business, and the sheriff wouldn’t understand.”
That’s a winning bet, Heyes thought to himself.
Strutford continued with restraint. “What reward for returning it to the rightful owner were you hoping for?”
“Reward, I like that,” Heyes grinned. Curry grinned back at him. “Oh, we couldn’t take less than $1,000. Each.”
“Done.” Heyes winced at his quick agreement, realizing they probably could have gotten more.
“When can you get it to me?”
“When can you get the money?” Curry asked.
“Tomorrow. Where do I find you?”
“You don’t.” Heyes said. “We find you.” With that the two men stood and left the saloon.
“Are you sure he doesn’t know where I am?” Tara asked, her voice tinged with fear.
“When we left the saloon,” Curry assured her, “we took the long way down a couple of side streets to the back of the hotel. He didn’t follow us.”
“And there are two other hotels in town,” Heyes said. “He can’t know which one we’re in.”
“As long as you stay in here,” Curry added, “you’ll be just fine.”
“If you say so,” she smiled. “So it went well?”
“Good as could be expected.” Heyes said.
“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you have in mind. How could you make a deal for the document when we don’t have it?” Tara asked.
“Well, Strutford believes we do.” Heyes pointed out. “That’s what counts.”
“He has a terrible temper,” Tara warned, placing her hand on Heyes’ arm. “Please be careful. I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to either one of you.”
“Neither could I,” Heyes smiled.
“Don’t worry, Tara,” Curry added. “He usually knows what he’s doing.”