Hannibal Heyes jumped out of bed and started getting dressed. He stopped in the middle of buttoning up his shirt. Why was he in such a hurry? Apparently, he had all the time in the world. This repetition was really starting to drive him crazy. What he needed was a day to relax and think without running all over creation like a rat drinking coffee. He finished buttoning his shirt and pulled on his vest, boots, and gun belt. Kid Curry opened the door as Heyes reached it. He started talking before Curry had a chance.
"Sorry Kid. Gotta run. Found a job and gotta be there quick. Tell you about it later." And with that, he was gone down the hallway and stairs.
Kid just stood staring after him for a minute. "What the heck was that all about?" He walked in the room and sat down the items he was carrying. "Guess I'll just take this delivery job."
Heyes waited until old man Turner had left the livery and went in to get his horse. He touched his hat and nodded at the stable man as he saddled up. He didn't know or care where he was going exactly. He just wanted away for a while.
He pointed his mare out of town and into a canter. He had noticed there was a creek near the town and decided to spend some time beside it. A nice, quiet, shady tree where he could lay and think sounded pretty good at the moment.
He rode about thirty minutes before he found the perfect spot. A small boulder situated next to a bristlecone pine right at the water's edge. He dismounted and led his horse over to the serene looking place and loosely tied the reins to the tree so she could graze on the grasses. He walked over and sat down in the shade, back against the boulder. Staring at the water gently flowing by, he began to think.
What had Cat meant when he had said, 'Clarity is the path to inner peace'? Did it mean he needed to find peace within himself before the loop would break? What peace? He had so many troubles in his life, he didn't know if peace was possible within himself. Or maybe it wasn't that at all. Maybe he was there to do or prevent something. He sure wished he could find those guys who had managed to break the loop and ask them how they did it. This wasn't going to be something solved by his silver tongue or his cousin's fast draw. At least he didn't think so. There had to be a clue as to what would break it. And he had to find it. He didn't want to spend the rest of his life living one day over and over. Monotony was not something he enjoyed.
He watched some birds playing on the other side of the creek. Innocent little birds. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been called innocent. He wished he could be free as a bird. But thanks to the governor, freedom just kept being dangled in front of him, just out of reach. Not only him, but his partner too. His ever faithful partner. His cousin, whom he had led into a life of crime. He felt so much responsibility and guilt over that. He often wondered if the Kid held it against him.
Heyes decided to stop that train of thought. It was just depressing. He turned his mind back to the loop theories. Kid wasn't affected by it so it had to be something to do with just himself.
Heyes felt tired, physically and mentally. The soft gurgle of water flowing over rocks actually began to relax him. His eyes started feeling heavy just sitting there and before he realized it, he was asleep.
He'd been asleep for a while before he woke up. He stood up and stretched. A boulder didn't make the best pillow. A thought hit him as he stood. Had he been in town every night during this loop business? It was actually hard for him to remember. The days were all running together. Maybe if he stayed out of town, he wouldn't get woke up by that blasted rooster, and therefore, the loop would end. It was worth a try. He mounted up and headed back to town to get his bedroll. He'd make up some story to tell Kid.
He got back to town and stopped in the saloon to get a drink. Then he went to the cafe and got a couple of sandwiches to take with him. He made his way to the hotel to pick up his bedroll and leave Kid a message saying he'd got hired to do an overnight delivery and that he'd be back in the morning. Hopefully, his partner wouldn't come looking for him.
He was tying his bedroll behind his saddle when a man walked out of the cafe and stood watching him. Heyes mounted up and when he turned his horse around, the man looked off quickly. But he looked back to watch the ex-outlaw ride out of town.
Heyes was going at a leisurely trot when he heard a horse coming up behind him fast. That always made him nervous and he urged his mare into a canter. Then a gunshot rang out and he took off at a full gallop. Who in the world was chasing him? It was only one horse he heard so it wasn't a posse. Who cared? He just needed to worry about getting away.
He was gaining a little ground on his pursuer when his horse's front left leg found a hole in the road and fell, landing hard on her rider's leg. She scrambled up and limped off a little ways, clearly upset while Heyes lay on the ground. He gritted his teeth in pain. He just knew his leg was broken. Trying to stand just confirmed his fear. He looked down and his lower leg was curved in a rather unnatural way.
The pursuing rider saw his bounty go down and quit shooting. He slid to a stop. "Hold it right there, Heyes.," the bounty hunter ordered.
"I ain't got no choice now do I," Heyes said testily. "My leg's broke. And I AIN'T Hannibal Heyes."
"Oh yes you are. I've seen you before. Just didn't get a chance to go after you before a posse did. Guess it's my lucky day. Seeing you out running around without your bodyguard and now you can't run at all from me," the bounty hunter sneered. "And to think I just stopped in town for a cup of coffee."
"You gonna just sit there and gloat or you gonna help me up?"
The bounty hunter laughed and jumped off his horse. He took Heyes' gun. "Put your hands behind your back."
Heyes glared at the man but complied. His hands were quickly and tightly restrained.
He then went and retrieved Heyes' mare to lead her back. Her limp wasn't as bad now Heyes noticed. At least her leg wasn't broken.
"Now, I ain't gonna make your horse suffer, so's you're gonna ride double with me." The bounty hunter grabbed Heyes under his arms and jerked him up none too gently.
"OW! You think you could be a little more careful?"
"Probably could." The bounty hunter helped Heyes hop over and pushed him up onto his gelding's back. Then he mounted up behind him. "Now, you ain't going nowhere. And if you start that mouth of yours, I'll gag you." He grabbed the reins to Heyes' horse and rode back to town.
The cell door clanged shut. Heyes really hated that sound.
"Don't worry Mr. Heyes," Sheriff Murray said. "Doc should be here in no time to take a look at you."
"Thanks Sheriff," Heyes squeaked out between short rapid breaths. He tried to get a little comfortable on the bunk, but that was near impossible with his leg hurting as bad as it was. He really wasn't all that worried. He hadn't done anything of any significance so the loop should start over again in the morning and he'd be good as new. In the meantime though, he was in serious pain. That ride into town had about killed him. He made a mental note not to go in the cafe in the afternoons.
The door to the sheriff's office opened and Doc Bowman hurried in. He and the sheriff made their way to Heyes' cell. Murray opened the door.
"Never thought I'd be working on an infamous outlaw," Bowman said setting his bag and supplies down. Heyes gave a snarky smile. Sheriff Murray brought the doc a chair. "Now, let's see what the damage is." He examined Heyes' leg carefully. After a couple of moments, "Yep, that leg is definitely broken. Going to have to put splints on it after I make sure the bones are aligned." Bowman reached in his bag and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. "Here. You're going to need lots of this before we start."
Later that evening, Kid Curry walked into the saloon after his job for a drink. He got the bartender's attention and ordered a beer. Next to him, stood a man talking about the outlaw he had just fixed up over in the jail. Curry inwardly moaned. He could guess who that outlaw was, but he had to make sure.
"Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing. What outlaw did you fix up?"
Doc Bowman grinned. "Hannibal Heyes. Can you believe that?"
Kid kept his poker face on. "What was wrong with him?"
"Broke his leg somehow. Some bounty hunter brought him in."
Curry didn't want to leave immediately so he wouldn't draw attention to himself. So he drunk half the glass of beer, then left. He walked into the alley behind the jail and found a window. He had to stand on a crate to see in. Sure enough, there was his partner, laid out on the bunk with splints on his leg. He looked to be asleep. Probably from laudanum the doc had given him for pain. Curry decided to let him sleep a while, then he would come back to talk to him.
Heyes' eyes flew open and he just laid there. He moved his leg just to make sure he was alright. Just as before, he was fine. He stared at the ceiling. He felt like just giving up but he couldn't.
He was still staring at the ceiling when Kid walked in holding, as usual, a sandwich, a newspaper, and a cup of coffee.
"I'm in Hell."
Curry stopped in his tracks. "What was that?"
"I said I'm in Hell. Somewhere, at some point, something killed me and now, I'm in
Curry didn't know how to respond to that.
"And my eternal punishment for all my wrong-doing is reliving this same dang day over, and over, and over."
Kid furrowed his brow and sat his items on the table. "Heyes, what's wrong with you?"
Heyes was unnervingly calm with his statements, at least at the start. "I already said it. I'm reliving this same daNG DAY! IT WON'T STOP, NO MATTER WHAT I DO OR WHAT HAPPENS."
Kid just stared at the disturbed ex-outlaw leader. "Ooookaaayyyy."
Heyes jumped up at that moment. He pointed his finger at the confused man. "I'm NOT crazy Kid. Don't look at me like that." He started getting dressed.
"Well what do you expect? You wake up telling me something like that and everything's supposed to be normal?"
"I ain't going through this again." A shirt was put on.
"Going through WHAT?!"
"THIS! This conversation. I ain't having it for the....however many times it is now." A vest was pulled on.
"WE AIN'T NEVER HAD THIS CONVERSATION!"
"YES WE HAVE! Now I'm going out there today and I WILL figure out this puzzle." A gun belt was buckled.
"You ain't leaving here 'til you start makin' some sense." The black hat was grabbed by a lightning quick hand.
"You grabbing my hat ain't gonna stop me. I'm going." Heyes started for the door.
Kid hurried over and grabbed his arm hard, spinning him around. "I said you ain't runnin' around talkin' like this. You'll get yourself..."
"What? Killed? Arrested? All that's already happened more than once." He jerked his arm free.
Kid moved to stand in front of the door. "I was going to say someone will have you committed. You're talkin' crazy. Now go over there and sit down so we can talk this
out." Curry gave him a stare that would send most men running for the hills.
"NO. I said I'm leaving and that's what I'm doing. Now MOVE or I'll flatten you." Heyes tried to reach around his partner to get the doorknob.
"ALRIGHT THEN. GO ON!" Curry yelled furiously. He moved to let his insane cousin out. He decided he'd just follow Heyes. Better than fighting with him.
Heyes entered the livery and quickly found the stable hand. He went over to him and backed him up against the wall. "Alright. Now you listen. You've got to have some clue as to what I need to do to stop this dang loop business."
"I am truly sorry. But I have no idea what does it. But it has to be something to do with you."
"I've already figured out that much." Heyes ran a hand through his hair as he rolled his eyes. He suddenly reached out and grabbed the man by the shirt. His eyes seem to darken as he spoke. "I KNOW you know something. You and your brother-in-law or whoever he is just ain't telling me. WHY?!"
Curry ran in at that moment and saw what was happening. He hurried over and grabbed Heyes' arms. "What are you doing?! Have you lost your mind? Let him go, Joshua."
Heyes let go and breathed out in exasperation. When Kid let go of him, his hand went to his face and he sighed, trying to calm down. "I'm sorry."
"It is alright. It is understandable," the stable man said.
Heyes turned to leave with the Kid on his heels. When they were outside, Curry stopped him. "C'mon, Joshua. You're going to the doctor."
"No, I'm not. There's no use in it. I'm fine."
"You're anything BUT fine."
"SHUT UP THADDEUS!"
That was it. Kid had reached his breaking point. He drew back and laid Heyes out on the ground. His partner glared up at him as he held his cheek. "You're going to the doctor,...NOW." Curry reached down and jerked Heyes up and down the street.
Heyes' eyes flew open and he got up to get dressed. "Something I have to do huh? Well alright then."
Come to the dark side...we have cookies