“I have a good feeling about this town, Kid.” Heyes smiled as they exited the saloon. “They don’t know how to play poker here. And the sheriff in there don’t know us.”
“Well let’s get to the hotel and settle in so we can start on the action,” Curry grinned. They stopped short, seeing a hand between their two horses going through Heyes’ saddle bag.
“Hey!” Heyes cried out, running. A head wearing a large, beat up hat popped out from between the horses; it was the boy Curry had aided only a short while before.
“You little thief!” Heyes yelled, just grabbing him by the back of his shirt. “And you ain’t biting me!”
“Leave me alone!” the boy screamed, twisting around and fiercely kicking Heyes in the shins, at which point he let go and grabbed his leg, cussing as the child raced away down the street and out of sight.
“You know who that was, dontcha,” Heyes said angrily, rubbing his leg, as Curry reached his own mount. “And you said helping him was painless. Ha!”
“Come on Heyes,” Curry said. “He’s only a boy.”
“Yeah, and that boy almost took off with my things!” Heyes snapped, grabbing his saddle bag and roll with great agitation.
“How was I supposed to know,” Curry said, removing his own belongings from his horse.
“That’s the point. You don’t know. You help him, and look what he does!”
“He probably didn’t know they were ours,” Curry defended him. Heyes merely frowned at his partner as they walked down the boardwalk and into the hotel.
“Room is $6 a night,” said the man behind the hotel desk. “If you plan on staying longer, we need two nights pay up front. That’s $12.”
“I know how to count,” Heyes grumbled, digging in his pocket for the money. “By the way, you know a young kid around here, blonde hair…”
“Thank you,” the man said, taking the bills from Heyes. “If he stole something from you, must be Sam.”
“Sam?” Curry asked.
“Sam,” the clerk nodded, peering over his eyeglasses at the Kid.
“Why don’t his parents do something about him?” Heyes grumbled.
“Doubt if he has any.” The clerk shrugged.
“He’s an orphan?” Curry asked, shooting Heyes a look.
“Could be.” the clerk handed the key to Heyes. “He showed up here a little over a week ago, and he’s plagued just about everybody since.”
“Can’t the sheriff do something?” Heyes asked.
“Has to catch him first. So watch your pockets gentlemen.”
“Thanks for the tip,” Heyes said, once again frowning at Curry. They walked to the stairs and began the climb to their room.
“Kid, the next time you get the urge to help and I’m around, do me a favor.”
“So where’s the money, Charlie?” The gruff looking, pouch bellied cowboy held a knife at the throat of the gaunt, dark haired man. His arms were held tightly behind him by a muscular, stone faced cowboy.
“I can get it, Jake, you don’t need to do this,” he pleaded. He vaguely heard the whinny of a penned horse and wondered if he would get out of the stables alive.
“Oh yeah,” Jake chuckled, “I do. Ain’t no reason for you to up and disappear on us a week now, unless you didn’t plan on giving it up. Ain’t that right, Tomes?” he asked his accomplice.
“That’s not true.” Charlie insisted, uselessly twisting against Tomes’ steel grip.
“You spent it, didn’t you,” Jake demanded.
“Yes, I mean no…I had to, but I can get it back, I really can.”
“Charlie, you shoulda known better.” Jake plunged the knife into the man’s belly. Tomes let the body slide to the ground, a red pool oozing onto the hay littered floor. Suddenly Tomes swirled around with his gun in hand, squinting up at the loft.
“What is it?” Jake asked, bending down and swiping his knife clean on the dead man’s shirt.
“I heard something up there,” Tomes said and quickly began to ascend the ladder while his partner sheathed his knife and searched Charlie’s pockets. Tomes carefully peered over the loft, then scrambled to the window.
“It’s that brat that’s been hanging around town!” Tomes yelled. “He musta seen us. Go get him - he’s running toward the hotel!”
Jake dashed out of the stable and ran after the boy.
Jake couldn’t find that brat anywhere. Finally he stormed into the saloon. He had to push his way through the crowd; apparently there was some big poker game going on. He marched to the bar and banged on it to get the bartender’s attention as he was pouring a drink at the other end of the bar.
“Hurry up!” he snapped, and the bartender hastened over to him. “Have you seen that blonde headed ruffian?” The bartender smirked on the inside; another sucker with an axe to grind with Sam.
“Sorry, haven’t seen the boy all day.” He watched the man curse beneath his breath and stomp out of the saloon. Then the bartender turned his attention to the game everyone was watching. It sure was good for business.
Heyes easily sized up the men playing with him and the Kid. They weren’t happy about losing, and losing they were. But he didn’t sense any of them would cause any trouble. Easy pickings.
“Sorry, three queens,” Heyes smiled, laying the cards down on the table for all to see. “Guess this is mine.” He added, scooping towards him the impressive pot.
“You sure are lucky,” grumbled the unshaven man sitting across from him.
“A little luck, and a little skill,” Heyes grinned charmingly, and glanced at Curry.
“You seem to possess both in great abundance,” sighed the well dressed man to his left.
“Say mister,” Heyes felt a tap on his shoulder and looked up to get a breath of stale whiskey in his face. A drunken man stood unsteadily beside him.
“You been doing so good, can you spare a drink for old Hapsy?” Heyes didn’t think the man was very old at all, and he looked like he already had one too many. But he was in a good mood.
“Sure, here ya go,” Heyes smiled, handing him the money.
“Thanks mister,” Hapsy grinned, stumbling between the onlookers to get his whiskey.
“Can we get on with the game?” frowned the cowboy on Heyes’ right.
“Sure.” Heyes smiled. “Who’s dealing?”