One Rainy Day
Description: Trapped in a hotel room...
Kid Curry was restless and bored.
He was pacing up and down, wearing out the already worn and tattered carpet. He and Heyes were holed up in a hotel room with grimy curtains, a cracked wash bowl, chipped dresser and a sagging mattress on a double bed.
Heyes was lying in the centre of the double bed.
In contrast to the Kid, he was relaxed and content. He was steadily reading and trying to avoid being distracted by his partner’s pacing.
The reason they were holed up could be heard against the window. Incessant rain. It had been raining heavily for three days, driving Heyes and Curry to find a town and a hotel room. The rain had even driven patrons away from the saloon so there were no poker games going on. Heyes had found a book and settled down. Kid had read the local paper, cleaned his gun and dozed. The rain was getting on his nerves and Heyes ‘absence’ was driving him to distraction.
Curry stopped pacing and stared at his friend, “Heyes, do you think this rain is ever gonna let up?”
Heyes gave a small grunt and turned a page.
“Maybe someone’s around at the saloon, we could get a game. Want to go see?”
There was a deafening silence.
“What?” Heyes looked up, a small flash of annoyance in his brown eyes.
“Do you want to see if there’s a game goin’ on?”
Heyes shook his head briefly and turned his eyes back to the book.
Curry went over to the window, leaned against it and stared out at the street.
There was no one outside. The sidewalks were running with water, the wood dark and heavy. The road was a muddy track, thick and gooey. It would be some time before a wagon or coach could get down it and it would be no fun to cross, a man could lose his boots.
Raindrops banged against the window and ran down. Curry watched two. “Hey! I bet you that raindrop will get to the bottom before the other raindrop.”
“Huh?” Heyes looked up again, his eyes slightly unfocussed.
“I bet you that the raindrop reaches the bottom first.”
Heyes shook his head slightly and lowered the book. “What are you talking about?”
“Because I’ve nothing else to do and I’m fed up of watching you read!”
Heyes stared at him, slightly confused. Without another word he picked up the book again.
Heyes ignored his partner, who sighed deeply and turned back to the window.
Miserably, he muttered, “Your raindrop won.”
Heyes made a small sound which sounded suspiciously like a stifled laugh. Curry looked hard at him. Heyes coughed and covered his mouth with his hand, keeping his eyes firmly glued to the page in front of him.
“Huh.” Curry grunted, annoyed. He continued to stare at the raindrops and began to whistle rather tunelessly.
Finally Heyes threw down the book, “Will you shut up!”
Curry looked at him, a hurt expression on his face.
“I’m trying to read.”
“Well? I’m not stopping you.”
“Well, I have to do something!” Curry was defensive.
“Clean your gun.”
“Well, do it again!”
“I don’t need to.”
“For heaven’s” Heyes sighed and continued, trying to be patient, “I know you could do it again.”
“Don’t wanna.” Curry’s face set stubbornly.
“Well, go to sleep then.”
“Read the paper.”
Heyes gritted his teeth. “Find something to do!”
“Isn’t anything.” Curry was beginning to sound petulant.
Heyes rolled his eyes, groaned, said, “Well, just be quiet.” And returned to the book.
Curry began pacing again, muttering under his breath.
Annoyed, Heyes once more put down the book. “What?” he snapped.
Curry looked at him, “What what?”
“What are you muttering about?” There was quite an edge to Heyes’ voice. He liked to read and didn’t often get the chance and this was a particularly good book that he’d not seen before. He really wanted Curry to let him get on with it.
“You were muttering.”
Heyes sat up straight. “Yes you were!” His voice contained more than a hint of anger. “Now shut up!” He lay back down and picked up the book again, studiously avoiding looking at the hurt expression he knew would be in Kid’s blue eyes.
Staring at him for a moment, Curry said, sarcasm dripping, “Sorry.”
Once again, Curry leaned against the window and stared out at the rain and the street.
It looked exactly the same. No one had been by. The board’s were still dark and heavy, the road still a river of gooey mud. The saloon was still dark and forlorn looking and the rain poured off the roofs around about. The town looked empty and deserted. The sky was dark and heavy. There was no sign of the rain letting up.
Curry felt trapped.
He hated being cooped up and he felt anxious about their prospects should someone come looking for them. Though he had to acknowledge to himself that it was unlikely anyone would be fool enough to be out in the rain. As much as he disliked being stuck inside, Curry detested the thought of being out in the rain and being soaked, cold and wet. If only Heyes would do something other than read that damn book! Curry almost wished he had one of his own. He could go down to the lobby he supposed, see if anyone was around and interested in some friendly poker or blackjack; he glanced back at Heyes, once more engrossed in the book.
Heyes was relaxed against the pillows, his eyes focussed on the page, flickering back and forth along the lines and a small furrow between his eyes, concentrating. As Curry watched, he turned the page.
Sighing again, Curry stared out into the street and watched the raindrops slide down the window. Time slipped interminably by. Curry made bets silently to himself on which drop would arrive first or disappear or cross the path of another. He kept track of his score, but after 30 bets or so his restlessness sprang up and he turned away, impatient and frustrated. He began pacing.
After a time, he stopped and looked down at Heyes, staring at him until Heyes’ concentration was broken.
“This rain is never gonna let up!” he moaned.
Heyes clenched his jaw, carefully put down the book and looked up at Curry.
“Kid, please find something to do.”
“There isn’t anything!”
“Reread the paper, clean your gun,” Heyes paused, his face lighting a little, “clean my gun.”
“Clean your gun? Why?”
“Because it’ll give you something to do, keep you off my back and you like it!”
“I do not! I just like knowing my gun will work!”
“Fine. Don’t clean it then. Keep pacing. I am gonna read this book!”
Heyes went back to the page, he remained fully aware of Kid’s presence, standing at the foot of the bed watching him. Mentally, Heyes counted the seconds, it took Kid around 45 to move round the bed and remove Heyes’ gun. Heyes raised the book to hide his smile.
The hotel room was quiet.
Soft sounds emanated over the drubbing of the rain. The rustle of a page being turned, the soft rubbing of a cloth and the occasional clink of metal.
Time passed slowly for the Kid, who had rarely cleaned a gun so slowly and thoroughly. He checked and rechecked. He rubbed and smoothed and rubbed. He tested and rebalanced the weapon over and over. At times, he would pause and listen to the rain pound the roof or look over at Heyes, who remained comfortably relaxed on the bed, book in hand, turning the pages.
Time was irrelevant for Heyes, engrossed in the exploits of the book.
Curry finally had nothing else to do on the gun. He wanted to show it to Heyes, to get him to try it out and see the difference, but he didn’t. Heyes, he knew, wouldn’t be interested. To Heyes, a gun was just a gun; a weapon that was occasionally useful. He would deny that there was a difference, as he had on past occasions, shrugging off the changes made by the Kid to Heyes’ weapon. Sometimes, just once even, Kid would like Heyes to admit he could tell. Curry was convinced that Heyes could tell and was just being stubborn about denying it. It ‘disappointed’ him (the most Kid would admit to himself) that Heyes didn’t show more interest in the thing that interested Kid the most. He, Curry, sure had to listen to every nuance of every new safe and lock Heyes came across!
The Kid sighed deeply, stood up and stretched. He began pacing again, restless. There was a small sound from Heyes, a cross between a groan and a warning grunt. Curry stopped at the window. It was still raining.
The boards hung dark and heavy, the water clearly visible on the surface. The road was nothing but mud, less gooey with the additional water. The saloon was still deserted. There was no one on the street. There was something new, a light was on in the small restaurant across the way and, as Curry watched, a figure in a heavy slicker emerged, carrying a board, which was placed over the mud, balanced precariously between the two sidewalks. Curry watched as he (Curry assumed) went back in. A few minutes later, he re emerged and put another board down next to the first one. Curry’s stomach rumbled.
“Heyes!” More urgently.
“Heyes!” practically shouted.
Without looking up, Heyes said, “Don’t shout, someone may hear you.”
Curry approached the bed, put his hand on the book and pushed it down. He waited until Heyes raised his eyes to him. Ignoring the glint of annoyance, Curry said, “Heyes, I’m hungry and the restaurant’s open. You want to come over?”
Heyes stared at him, wide eyed. “Are you crazy? In this weather? How are you gonna cross the street?”
“They just put boards out.”
Heyes shook his head. “You go. I’m not hungry.”
“I don’t want to go alone!”
“And I don’t want to go at all. Now get off!” He shook the Kid’s hand of the book, resettled himself and started reading again.
Curry glared at him, wanting nothing more than to roll him off the bed and wipe the smug look off his face. Instead, he returned to the window and stared out, watching the rain fall.
Once more, he began mentally betting on raindrops on the window pane. Despite the presence of the boards, no one ventured out to the restaurant and the street remained deserted.
Fed up with the raindrop game, Curry dropped down into the nearby chair. He put his feet up on the table and tried to relax. His fingers began tapping on the chair arm. Heyes looked at him over the edge of the book and he stopped.
A short while passed and Curry began humming, attracting another look.
When his foot started tapping, Heyes exploded, “Kid! Will you keep quiet!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, mind if I breathe? It’s not my fault I’m cooped up in here with you and you want to read. Why don’t you go someplace else, if I’m disturbing you so much.”
“I like it here! Why don’t you leave?”
“I like it here!”
The two friends glared at each other, anger flashing in two sets of eyes – one brown, one blue.
Then Heyes took a slow look around the room – the cracks and bullet holes in the walls and ceilings; the dirty, yellowing, peeling paper; the chipped bowl; the worn carpet; the shabby chair with a ripped cushion cover; the bedposts scratched by spurs. He came back to rest on Curry’s face, which was still angry.
“You like it here?” he asked with incredulity.
For a long moment, Curry remained angry and then a small smile began to twitch at the corners of his mouth. He fought the inclination but finally it broke through and a grin erupted. Heyes grinned back at him.
Heyes put a piece of paper on the page of the book and closed the book with a firm thud. He sat up, stood up and placed the book on a nearby chest of drawers and then turned to look at the Kid.
“Ok, c’mon then.”
“Get something to eat.”
“What about your book?”
“It’ll keep. After we’ve eaten, how about a little blackjack for a while.”
“Oh sure,” Curry said wryly, “Losing to you is waaay more fun than being bored!”
Heyes rolled his eyes as he opened the door.
At the hotel entrance, the two men prepared to brave the weather and opened the door. As they did so, the rain suddenly stopped.
“Would you look at that?” Curry said, awed.
Heyes grinned, “Well, I sure wasn’t going to go out in that rain!”
Curry stared at Heyes’ back, for a moment it was almost possible to believe, nah! He shook his head and followed.