Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union
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Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:43 pm|| |
TWIST OF FATE
It was a beautiful Spring day when Heyes and the Kid found themselves back in Wyoming yet again, hoping that nobody in this small town was going to recognize them. ‘In all the trains and banks they’d robbed, they never shot anyone.’ Yeah, right. Well that didn’t mean that anyone wasn’t going to shoot them! Both young men had become quite proficient at the casual stroll down the boardwalk even though their eyes were constantly scanning and every nerve and muscle was ready for action if the need suddenly arose.
They had made good time after leaving Porterville and had intended to avoid staying in any towns along the way until they were safely across the Territorial line. It had actually been quite warm and pleasant camping out and since, for a change, they had enough money and provisions to last a while they hadn’t foreseen any need to risk going into the towns they passed along the way. That is until Kid’s big gelding, Buck threw a shoe and the fellow was making it quite clear that the bare foot was becoming rather “ouchy” on the hard and pebbly trail and shouldn’t his human be doing something about it!?
“Sorry Heyes.” Kid had mumbled as he stood by Buck shaking his head at the offending shoe. “I guess we better return to that town we passed a couple of miles back and get this taken care of.”
“Yeah.” Heyes agreed. “At least you have the shoe so the blacksmith just has to tack it back on, save some money that way. But that smithy back in Porterville sure didn’t do a good job. Last time we’ll be using him I think.”
“No kidding. That shoe should have been good for at least a month.” Kid tucked the shoe into his saddle-bag and remounting, they turned the horses back the way they had just come.
The two men rode along together in companionable silence. As is so often the case, they were totally unaware that this one small incident was going to prove to be significant. It was about to set in motion a series of events that would test their courage and their friendship and would ultimately change their lives forever. Of course there was no way for the partners to be aware of this at the time and it would only be in hindsight that they would shake their heads and ponder the mysteries of fate.
So there they were. Karma-Lou, Buck and the wayward shoe had been left at the Livery along with instructions for their keep and the boys found themselves with an afternoon to kill in a town they didn’t really want to be in. So, where would our boys go if they found themselves in a town with nothing to do? Why, the saloon of course!
They almost made it too, but then the one thing they were always trying to avoid, happened; they were recognized.
“Thaddeus! Joshua! Hey boys!!”
Heyes and Kid stopped in their tracks just as they were about to enter the bat wing doors of the saloon. They both felt the tingle of shock at being beckoned but also a measure of relief that it was by their aliases and not their actual names. Kid’s hand instinctively dropped to the handle of his gun but it went no further, and then suddenly both men were grinning from ear to ear with recognition at the older man running across the street towards them.
“Hey Jesse! What are you doing here?!”
“Howdy boys.” Jesse Jordan stepped onto the boardwalk smiling broadly and everyone shook hands all around. “What a surprise to find you in these parts! How are you doing?”
“Oh, same as usual.” Answered Heyes.
“Just trying to stay out of trouble.” Came Kid’s response.
“What about you? Asked Heyes. “We thought you folks moved to Denver.”
“Well we did.” Answered Jesse, “But, well that’s a long story. I’m just in town here looking over some breeding stock for our ranch over in Colorado. Which way you fellas headed? If you got time why don’t you swing by our place for a few days? The girls would love to see you, well I guess I should call them young ladies now. You won’t believe how they’ve grown up!”
Heyes and Kid exchanged quick smiles. This was quite a mouthful for Jesse, whom the boys remembered as being a quiet man of few words.
“Another ranch Jesse?” Asked Kid, “Thought you were going to go back to teaching.”
“I did.” Came the matter of fact response and then he sighed and smiled “Well, we’ve gone through a lot of changes these last few years. Come on, I’d love for you to see the place since you two boys had a hand in us getting it.”
“We did?” asked Heyes
“How was that?” Curry said at the same time.
“Well now, that’s just another thing I can tell you about when you come visit.” Answered Jesse with a smug look on his face. He knew he had their curiosity up
Heyes and Kid exchanged a look. They both knew they shouldn’t do it, but they both remembered Belle’s good cooking and seeing the two girls again could be fun. What harm could a quick side trip cause? Neither of them wanted to honestly answer that because they both wanted to go, so they ignored their inner instincts. The agreement passed between them. Heyes smiled.
“Alright Jesse.” He said in response to Jesse’s hopeful smile. “How about we buy you a beer while you give us directions and then we’ll see you out there in about a week.”
“Sounds fine.” Said Jesse and his smile broadened, “You’re in for a treat—and a surprise!”
Later that afternoon, Jesse had departed by train, leaving the boys to keep themselves entertained through the rest of that day and evening. Despite some aggressive pushing and prodding Jesse had refused to give them any more information about his family and the boys had to admit that they had been reeled in hook line and sinker. They had no choice but to take Jesse up on his offer and stop by their ranch because by now they just had to know what was going on.
Staying away from the Jordan family had been something they had easily agreed upon. It wasn’t because of dislike; in fact it was the exact opposite reason that had forced the decision. The short time they had spent with the Jordan’s and their two daughters had been like finding a home again, they had cherished the time there and the friendships they had developed. But the law knew that the Jordan’s were sympathetic to them and the boys just didn’t want to bring more trouble down on the family that had come to mean so much to them. So they had stayed away.
But now, running into Jesse so unexpectedly, and him being so adamant that they come visit, well, the boys just couldn’t refuse. That morning, standing outside the Livery getting their horses ready for travel, they could both feel the growing excitement and anticipation of a long over-due homecoming.
It took a number of days to ride to the Jordan ranch and in that time Heyes noticed that Karma-Lou was becoming more and more irritable. Instead of just moving along at a smooth ground covering jog-trot, she insisted on prancing around, swishing her tail and tossing her head while constantly playing with her bit. All of which made for a rather uncomfortable ride. She had also taken to laying back her ears and taking a swipe with her teeth at ole Buck. Buck, always the gentleman, had done his best to avoid these unprovoked onslaughts, but when Karma had actually squealed and tried to swing her hindquarters around to kick the kind-hearted fellow, Curry laid in a protest.
“Heyes! Come on!”
“I know.” Heyes answered sheepishly. He had felt the mare move her hindquarters and he had instantly blocked her with his leg to prevent her from getting in that kick. “Cut her some slack Kid, she’s coming into season and you know what she’s like when that happens.”
“Yeah, I can’t help but know can I? And poor Buck has lost more hair to her teeth than he sheds out every spring.”
“Well, she’s just a little testy.”
“A little testy?!” Exclaimed the Kid. “For her ‘a little testy’ is kicking down the stable door, heading for the nearest farm, jumping their fence and spending the night eating their corn!!”
“She only did that twice.” Reasoned Heyes, “And the farmers were quite reasonable about it once I paid them off.”
“I donno Heyes,” said Kid while he shook his head, “I know she’s saved your skin more than once with that untying knots trick and on her good days she really is something to behold. But I got to admit there are times I just want to shoot her.”
Heyes smiled. “Yeah, but you love her.” He never had and never would admit to the Kid that he had come close to doing just that himself.
Kid snorted. “Just keep her out of kicking range will ya? With my luck she’d probably miss Buck and kick me. That’s all I need is a broken leg because of some ‘testy’ mare…..” Kid’s mumblings trailed off into his own thoughts.
Heyes just smiled.
Once having crossed the border from Wyoming into Colorado the boys had relaxed some but were still careful to stay away from the larger towns. The Jordan ranch was within a few days’ ride of Denver, but since that town was the home base for a couple of noted detective agencies they stayed clear of it. They easily found lodgings in smaller towns until they were finally able to make the last leg of their ride out to the ranch.
The approach to the Double J ranch was quite the opposite of what it had been that day four years ago when they had fortuitously crossed path with Belle Jordan. The landscape leading onto that ranch had been dry and bleak with very little green grazing available for livestock. The ranch house itself, though neat and clean had obviously seen better days with a ‘For Sale’ sign that looked as old and worn out as the rest of the property had been.
This new place was green and lush. White fenced pastures lined the well kept road that led up to an open yard and a friendly two story ranch house with a wrap around porch and flower beds hugging the front of the structure. There were two large barns with paddocks leading off them, a bunk house and a large, well kept vegetable garden off to the side. When all was said and done it was an impressive package but not so much as to be intimidating and as the boys rode down that nicely shaded roadway towards the house they couldn’t help but smile and feel relaxed and welcomed.
As the boys approached the front of the house a large tan coloured dog of mixed lineage padded around the side of the structure and woofed lazily at them, tail wagging. Then two hairy tornadoes scrambled around from behind, yapping their heads off and causing such a commotion that Karma stopped in her tracks, pinned her ears on them and started blowing. Buck, who was more experienced than his counterpart sent them a glance and then dismissed them. Heyes gave his mare a reassuring pat and dismounted. Kid was following suite when the front door of the house burst open and two more tornadoes in skirts came flying down the steps towards them.
“Joshua!! Thaddeus!!! We’ve been waiting for you! We thought you’d never get here!”
“Wow! Girls, look at you!” Exclaimed Heyes as excited female teenagers tackled them both with hugs and kisses and a stream of questions.
The dogs were underfoot now, yapping and woofing and wanting to be a part of the festivities. Both Buck and Karma backed up a step or two, not sure they wanted to be a part of anything.
“My but you girls have grown up!” Observed Curry. “You’re turning into real nice young ladies!”
“We still ride and shoot!” Protested sixteen year old Beth. “We only wear dresses because Momma insisted on it when we’re not helping Papa with the stock!”
“I don’t mind wearing dresses.” Announced Bridget. “There’s nothing wrong with being a lady and wearing dresses!”
Heyes and Curry exchanged glances and smiled.
“Girls, girls! Let the fellas breathe.”
“Hey, Jesse! How are ya?” Said Heyes as they shook hands
“This is a real nice place you got here.” Said Kid. “A real step up from the last one.”
“Yup, and I got you boys to thank for it.”
“That’s what you said before.” Said Heyes with a suspicious smile. “I think there’s a story to be told here.”
“Sure is.” Jesse agreed. “Why don’t you come on in and relax. Belle is putting together a real nice lunch for us and we can get caught up on all the news.” He waved over at his hired hand who was just coming out of one of the barns. “Hey Sam, take these fellas horses and get them settled in will you?”
“Sure thing, Mr. Jordan.” Replied Sam, smiling as he approached to take the horses off their hands. “That’s a real nice lookin' mare you got there mister.”
Heyes smiled. Curry rolled his eyes. “Geesh.”
While Sam, the horses and the dogs all made their way towards one of the barns, everyone else made their way up the porch and into the house. The atmosphere was bright and airy with a comfortable sitting room to the right and a large dinning area to the left and from the sounds and enticing aromas it could be assumed that the kitchen was straight ahead. The table to the left of them was already laid out for a lunch and the boys were just thinking about how hungry they were—again, when Belle appeared in the hallway.
Both young men lit up with pleasure upon seeing this kind woman they had come to feel such a bond with. There was something different about her, something subtle that neither man could quite put their finger on, but whatever it was, it was a good thing as she looked happy and welcoming.
“Oh boys.” She smiled warmly at them. “Look at you, you’ve hardly changed a bit!”
“Hello Belle.” Both men took turns giving her a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. It really was good to see her.
“Now you sit down.” Belle told them. “Girls, come help me. We have coffee, or lemonade and a real nice lunch ready.”
“Great.” Said Heyes
“Yup.” Agreed Kid, “Been really looking forward to this.”
Everyone was enjoying the spread that had been laid for lunch while Jesse was relating the surprising turn of events that had enabled them to purchase such a nice piece of property.
“Well, that’s the long and short of it boys,” he was saying. “We were quite prepared to get re-established with the money that you had left for us that night when all of a sudden the bidding war started. It seems that two fairly wealthy gentlemen from back east had rather romanticized impressions of the “wild west” and wanted to buy a little bit of it. So when word got around that Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry had been captured on our old place well they were just tripping over each other to see who could offer us the highest price.”
Both Heyes and Curry were staring at Jesse with mouths open in disbelief. Kid even had a piece of pastry hovering half way to his mouth while they both tried to take in this information.
Heyes was the first to recover: “But, we escaped.” He reasoned. “It’s not like it was ‘The Place’ where Heyes and Curry were finally ‘Brought to Justice’. We’re still at large to carry on with our thieving ways.”
Jesse shrugged and smiled. “I know. I thought they were crazy, but the price we finally got for that patch of dirt has set us up very nicely. We moved to Denver and I got a job teaching, but as it turns out none of us were really happy there.”
“That’s for sure.” Agreed Belle. “I missed hearing the birds in the mornings and the quiet afternoons out on the porch. Living in town had its advantages, but I think we all missed the open spaces.”
“So, when this place came up for sale.” Continued Jesse, “We decided that if I continued to teach part time at the small school here we could afford to hire some help and maybe just make a go of it. Goodness knows the girls were ecstatic over the idea!”
“I missed riding and shooting.” Commented Beth. “None of the other girls in town were interested in that. They were more concerned with boys and gossiping. And Papa says that my numbers are good enough that I can start helping out with the business end of things here on the ranch.”
“Well now that’s real promising Beth.” Commented Curry obviously impressed. “Joshua and I have come across a few ladies who ran their own businesses and did real well with them.”
Beth brightened up visibly. “Really!?” She exclaimed. “The other girls in town just laugh at me and say that it’s not proper for a girl to want to go into business. That I should get married and have a family.” This last part stated with a sneer.
“Oh well, no reason you can’t do both.” Began Heyes “Why some of the ladies we know….” Then his voice trailed off and he glanced over at Jesse and Belle, the thought occurring to him that he might be overstepping the boundaries here.
Belle smiled. “That’s alright Joshua,” She said. “Jesse and I have always encouraged the girls to go after what they wanted and not be too concerned about what other people thought.” Then she looked at her daughters pointedly and added; “You can be ladies and still pursue your interests as well. Although,” She added thoughtfully, “It might be difficult managing both a career and a family. You might have to make some tough choices girls.”
The girls didn’t seem too concerned about tough choices at the moment.
“What do your lady friends do in their businesses?” Asked Beth.
“Well, let’s see…” Began Heyes. He thought of Jenny, but a woman who ran her own saloon and gambling hall didn’t really seem appropriate for this group.
“There’s Alice.” Suggested the Kid.
“That’s right.” Agreed Heyes, thankful to the Kid for having come up with a more appropriate example. “Now Alice had a great sense for money and business. She, ahhh came into some funds and was all set to start up an establishment where people could go and have a nice dinner and watch theatre at the same time.”
“Really?” Asked Belle. “What an unusual concept. Was she able to do it?”
“As a matter of fact she did.” Said Heyes. “She met a young German fellow named Kurt who just happened to be an excellent cook…”
“A man who’s a cook!?” Exclaimed Beth. “Whoever heard of such a thing!”
“Well now there’s the pot calling the kettle black.” Pointed out Belle. “Just a few minutes ago you were complaining that people put you down for wanting to do something different with your life, now here you are doing the same thing.”
Beth hung her head, looking sheepish. “Yes Momma.”
“Yup.” Said Curry. “They made a good pair. With his cooking skills and Alice’s head for business they were able to put together a real nice place.”
“Then there’s Georgette.” Mused Heyes. “But she’s more into the entertainment line of work.” He caught Jesse’s eye and they both smiled.
“Of course there’s Clementine.” Added Curry. “We’ve known her for years and she never did get married.”
“Nope.” Agreed Heyes. “Came close a couple of times though.”
“Yup, real close.” Both men smiled at the thought of Clem.
“Then there’s Meg Parker who really turned out to be Margaret Carruthers.” Continued Heyes, who was leaning back and smiling in memory of all these lovely ladies. “And of course, Miss Porter who was into banking.”
“And we’re never going to forget Abigail.” Said Kid and then instantly regretted it as Heyes’ expression suddenly became somber and he was no longer smiling.
Belle also noticed the change in Heyes’ countenance and knitted her brow. “Was she someone special?”
“Ahhh, well yeah you could say that.” Answered Curry hesitantly, not quite sure where to go with this now.
His eyes were on his partner looking for some indication, but Heyes just sat quietly, looking at the table, deep in his own thoughts. Curry decided that the damage was already done, so may as well go for broke.
“Abigail was a detective for Pinkerton’s and we ended up locking horns with her on more than one occasion while we were still in our previous line of work you might say.”
Bridget, who had been uncharacteristically quiet throughout most of this conversation, suddenly perked up with interest. “She was a detective---with Pinkerton’s?!”
“Ah, yup.” Curry confirmed, still a little uncomfortable with the subject knowing he had probably cut Heyes to the quick. “A real bright and gutsy lady too.” Curry smiled at some of the memories that came flooding back “I tell you, there were times she had us so riled up we were both fit to be tied. But she had class that’s for sure.”
Belle smiled while watching Heyes. “I have a feeling she did more to Joshua than just get him riled.”
At this point Heyes looked up from his musings and he and Belle locked gazes for a moment and then he smiled. She knew.
Bridget however was totally unaware of the underlying drama being played out around her and was focused only on the one thing that had caught her interest.
“She is actually a detective?!” Bridget repeated. “And you know her?! Can I meet her? Do you think she would talk to me? Do you think she would tell me how to become a detective?”
“Whoa, hold on there!” Exclaimed Kid. “I thought you liked ‘being a lady’?”
“Well I do!” countered Bridget, her eyes shining. “But we’ve just been saying that a person can be a lady and follow her dreams as well!”
“And it’s your dream to become a detective?” Asked Heyes.
“Oh brother.” Jesse and Belle rolled their eyes at each other. “You have no idea.” Continued Jesse. “Any detective books she can get hold of, anything to do with the law and the justice system, Bridget’s right in there.”
“We know she would like to go back East to study law if we can find a Lady’s Collage that will teach it.” Said Belle. “But again, the attitude is that Law is a profession exclusively for men so it’s been difficult.”
“Well getting into law is one thing.” Said Curry. “But becoming a detective, that can be a dangerous line of work Bridget, dealing with all sorts of unsavory individuals. It’s kind of like being an outlaw, the flip side of the same coin you might say. Once you get locked into that kind of life it’s very difficult to break away from it again. You might find that it’s not quite as glamorous as you think.”
“Yeah I know.” Said Bridget, not willing to be deterred. “But if you know a woman who is already a detective, it can’t be that dangerous, “ Heyes rolled his eyes at Bridget’s naivety, “and maybe she could help get me going in the right direction. Can you get in touch with her?”
Heyes and Kid exchanged glances. “Ahhh.” They were both very hesitant.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Commented Kid
Bridget looked crestfallen.
“You have to understand Bridget.” Explained Heyes. “Thaddeus and I are still wanted, we can’t just ‘get in touch’ with a Pinkerton detective and not expect some dire consequences to come of it.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” She still looked crestfallen.
And then it happened. That silent communication which takes place within seconds between two people who have known one another so well and for so long that words weren’t necessary. Just a glance between the partners and a whole conversation had taken place.
Jesse and Belle exchanged looks and smiled. The girls were oblivious.
“There might be someone we could get in touch with.” Offered Heyes, though he was hesitant about it.
“Yeah,” Continued Curry. “Someone in the Bannerman Agency.”
“Really?” Bridget perked up again.
An exchange of glances again and then a shrugging of shoulders.
“His name’s Harry Briscoe.” Stated Heyes. “He’s not exactly the best in his field, but oddly enough, he is a friend and we do have a way of letting him know we want to see him without causing a stir. He might be willing to give you a hand in getting started.”
“Oh that would be great!”
“You boys have a friend in the Bannerman Detective Agency?” Asked Jesse somewhat incredulous.
“Yeah, well,” Said Curry. “We kind of helped him out of a scrape once…”
“So he’s kind of willing to help us out once in a while.”
“As long as it doesn’t threaten his career.” Commented Heyes.
“Or call for much thinking.”
Belle smiled. “Sounds like just the man we need.”
Just then a quiet, just barely audible sound came from a back room off the kitchen. All heads swiveled that way.
“Oh, sounds like someone’s awake.” Announced Belle and she quickly got up and left the table. Both Heyes and Curry sent a questioning gaze towards Jesse, but he just smiled.
“You boys like some more coffee?” He asked.
“I’ll get it.” Said Bridget and she got up and headed for the kitchen just as Belle returned carrying a small cooing bundle wrapped in a blanket.
Both boys were instantly on their feet and gazing down at the infant in Belle’s arms
“Ohho, Jesse!” exclaimed the Kid. “You said you had a surprise, but we certainly didn’t expect this!”
“No, neither did we.” Said Belle with a smile. “Here we thought we were all done with child rearing and then all of a sudden this little fella shows up.”
“How old is he?” Asked Kid.
“Just about six weeks.” Answered Belle. “Here Thaddeus, why don’t you hold him.”
“Yeah, come on Thaddeus,” Said Heyes with a smile. “Puppies and kittens just love you so you shouldn’t have any trouble with a baby.”
Jed sent his partner another one of those looks while he was being shuffled back into his chair and the blanketed bundle settled into his nervous arms. Heyes sat back down in his chair but was still leaning over the Kid’s shoulder looking at the baby and grinning from dimple to dimple. Bridget returned with the coffee pot and began filling cups all around then she settled back into her chair and began nibbling on some pastry. Beth was watching Jed intently, thoughts of going into business suddenly on the back burner of her desires.
“What’s his name?” Heyes asked as he continued to smile down at the infant.
“Jesse Jr.” Answered Belle, “Or J.J. for short, or just Jay.”
Heyes smiled over at Jesse and Belle as he settled back in his chair again. “He sure is a fine looking boy. Congratulations.”
The proud parents smiled and then passed a loving look between themselves. Then all eyes were on Jed. He had relaxed as soon as he realized that the baby wasn’t likely to break in his arms. A huge smile broke over his face and there it stayed.
Jesse suddenly had a vision of a small boy at Christmas time finally getting the present he had always wanted. It took him by surprise. Belle on the other hand had been no fool in handing the infant to Jed. With all the stories she had heard over the years about the notorious Devil’s Hole Gang and its infamous outlaw leaders, once she had met the men themselves, she knew that they were nothing like the tabloids made them out to be. Made some bad choices, yes, and got themselves onto the wrong side of things, definitely, but they were working hard at trying to turn their lives around and were both basically good men.
But especially in Jed Curry she sensed a gentle and caring soul which was in drastic conflict with his reputation as a dangerous gunslinger and cold blooded killer. She wasn’t quite sure how to reconcile these two very different versions of the same man but sometimes you can over think a thing too much. She trusted her own instincts and she had no qualms about handing her infant son over to him.
In the meantime, Beth continued to watch Thaddeus with bright eyes that were taking in everything. A quiet, knowing smile played about her lips. If Kid had had more experience with teenage emotions he would have taken note of that look and quickly make his departure to parts unknown.
As it was, he was so intent on this new little human being in his arms that he was totally oblivious to all the other thoughts swirling on around him. It seemed that J.J. was also quite interested in this new person in his small world. Bright brown eyes locked onto bright blue eyes and little hands tapped against a lowered chin and played with smiling lips. Then suddenly that same little hand clasped tightly onto a finger and a huge yawn escaped from the tiny mouth. Curry laughed.
“Aww, Heyes! One day, maybe huh?”
Heyes smiled over at his friend. Visions of them being able to put all this running behind them and settling down to families of their own were not far from his own thoughts at that moment.
“I know Kid. Maybe, one day.”
Beth’s smile grew even broader.
The extended lunch had finally been cleared away. Belle had excused herself from the gathering and retreated with J.J. into the day nursery in order to feed him and put him down for another nap. The girls were busy cleaning up in the kitchen and arguing over who was going to wash and who was going to dry.
Thoughts of supper were the last thing in anyone’s mind at that point and the three men were contemplating moving out onto the porch to enjoy a drink in the fading afternoon light. Then, quite suddenly the serenity of the moment was completely shattered by loud raucous horse squeals, the splintering of wood and Sam yelling obscenities from across the barnyard.
Curry sent a suspicious look over in his cousin’s direction. “Heyes…?”
Heyes shrugged innocently and all three men headed out the front door and down the porch steps. Across the yard, in the paddock where the horses had been put to enjoy their own lunch, Karma-Lou was in the middle of a temper tantrum. Ears flattened against her neck, mouth gaping open and emitting more angry guttural squeals, she had poor Buck pinned into the corner of the paddock. With her hind feet, she was reigning vicious kicks upon that kindly soul as though he were the knackerman himself come to claim her!
Fortunately most of the kicks had missed their mark, but she had succeeded in hitting the fence a few times and splintering the wood and knocking a few boards down. Buck was doing everything he could to avoid the onslaught and scramble out of her line of fire. While in the meantime, Sam, having grabbed a driving whip had jumped what was left of the fence and was yelling and cracking that whip in order to move the mare away. To add to the ruckus, the three dogs who had been quiet all afternoon were now right in the thick of things barking and yapping and woofing and generally getting under foot.
“Dagnabbit Heyes!” Yelled kid as they both ran forward to assist Sam in separating the horses.
“Well I told yea she was a little testy!” Countered Heyes. “Buck must have said something rude to her.”
Curry sent him a nasty glare as they grabbed halters and lead shanks and proceeded to get their horses under control.
Once Heyes had Karma in hand he lead her to the far end of the paddock and kept her walking around in a small circle to calm her down while Kid gently ran his hands over his gelding to make sure he was alright.
“What set them off?” Asked Jesse of his hired hand.
“I’m sorry Mr. Jordan.” Answered Sam. “I guess I just wasn’t thinking. It never occurred to me that she might be in season. I was bringing JohnnyBoy in for the night when that mare started acting up. Of course JohnnyBoy was getting all hot and bothered so I had to quick get him into his stall before he killed me and then I hear all hell break loose out here. I got out here as quick as I could. Again, I’m sure sorry about that.”
Just then a deep stallion sized bellow came from inside the barn. Karma’s head went up and she answered with a loud shrill whinny that caused her whole body to vibrate and Heyes to grimace in pain.
“Well don’t worry about it.” Said Jesse. “You better get in there and tend to that stallion. We’ll get the fence fixed in the morning.”
“Yes sir.” And Sam disappeared into the barn. The three dogs, who were apparently quite proud of themselves for having gotten things under control happily followed the young man back into the building, content in the knowledge that they had done their job.
Jesse smiled at the two young men, each in their respective corners attempting to sooth their respective horses.
“Well that was quite a show.” He commented.
“Yeah. Sorry about that Jesse.” Heyes apologized somewhat sheepishly. “She can be quite a handful sometimes. We’ll be happy to fix the fence in the morning for you. It’s the least we can do.”
Quiet grumblings came from Curry’s general location.
“Oh, don’t worry about it Joshua.” Said Jesse. “Sam’s a great hand with the livestock and the dogs just love him to pieces but he is young and sometimes just doesn’t think. He was wanting to get into town tomorrow morning to see his girlfriend so having to hold off on that to fix the fence will be a good reminder for him. When you’re handling a stallion you always have to be aware of what’s around you, or you’ll get yourself into trouble. A couple of hours delay won’t kill him.” Then he glanced over at Curry. “How’s your gelding Thaddeus?”
Curry glanced over from where he had been rubbing Buck’s ears and speaking quietly to him. Buck was responding with half closed eyes and a quivering upper lip. “I think he’s fine. He might be a little sore tomorrow but that’s all.”
“Well, an excuse for you fellas to stay over another day! Why don’t you take them over to the other barn and get them settled in for the night. In the meantime I’ll get us some drinks to have on the porch. I think after this we could all use one.”
The boys carefully lead their horses over the one plank that was still nailed up and cautiously picked their way through the litter of splintered wood that had once been part of a rather sturdy paddock. Leading the horses into the barn they found themselves in a large sturdy structure with eight box stalls and a large well supplied tack room. There were six other horses already occupying stalls, and though they were busy munching dinner they were certainly interested in who these newcomers were. Though a couple of them laid their ears back in a ‘Don’t think you’re touching my dinner!!’ kind of attitude a couple of the kinder souls perked their ears and nickered a welcome.
Two empty stalls across the isle from each other presented themselves and the boys lead their horses into them and found that water, grain and good rich hay had already been supplied. Heyes gave Karma a final pat on the neck and then left her stall. He closed the door behind him and then leaning back against it with his arms folded, anxiously watched the Kid.
The barn was light and airy and smelled of fresh straw and sweet hay. The only sounds were that of the small birds settling into their nests up in the rafters and of the horses munching their grain and giving the occasional contented snort or stamp of a foot.
Normally this setting would have been a comfortable and relaxed one, but this time it felt strained and heavy. Kid was still in the stall with Buck, stroking him and speaking quietly with him.
“Kid?” No response. Heyes sighed. “Come on Kid. I know you’re mad at me.”
“Yeah, I am.” Curry answered quietly while he continued to stroke his horse and nor did he turn to meet Heyes’ eyes. “Or maybe just more scared.” He continued. “Sacred that Buck mighta got real hurt.”
Heyes sighed again and lowered his head a little. He didn’t know what else he could say.
Then Curry brightened and he straightened up. “Just give me some time and a good shot of whiskey.” He said as he gave Buck one more pat and left the stall. “I’m sure I’ll get over it.”
Heyes grinned over at his partner, relieved. Heyes was fonder of this mare than he had ever been of any other horse before, but the friendship of Jed Curry mattered more to him than anything else possibly could. Though still feeling a little moody Curry returned the smile and they both headed out of the barn and over to the porch where Jesse was waiting with the afore mentioned drinks.
Next morning everyone was up bright and early Sam had been quick to get JohnnyBoy out onto his pasture with his group of brood mares. Then, making sure to keep the two different groups of horses separated had turned Karma-Lou and Buck loose into one of the other smaller grass paddocks. Here the two visiting horses could spend the day grazing and basking in the warm spring sunshine. After that had been accomplished he set about fixing the broken planks of the paddock fence.
Curry, taking whatever opportunity that might arise to stay finely tuned, had set up some tin cans by the far barn and was doing some target shooting. Beth was standing to the side and a little bit behind him, watching in amazement. When, yet again all the cans had jumped wildly off the fence in rapid succession, Beth went out and helped Kid collect them up and place them back in position for another beating.
“You want to have a shooting contest?” Curry asked her with a smile, remembering back to their first meeting.
Beth smiled back at him with sparkling eyes. “No way.” She answered. “I can’t imagine how we ever thought we could out-shoot you!”
“Well, you didn’t know who you were up against.” Reasoned Curry. “Part of playing the game is knowing who your opponent is.”
“I’ll try not to make that mistake twice.”
Curry smiled. “Good.” A flash of movement, six near instantaneous cracks from the revolver and the six cans met their maker.
Heyes was standing on the front porch leaning against the main post by the steps. He was watching Curry practice, a small smile fluttering about his lips. It didn’t matter how many times he watched the Kid shoot, it still amazed him. Belle came out, holding Jay and stood beside Heyes, watching the target practice.
“He really is fast isn’t he?” Belle commented. “That’s definitely one thing the tabloids say about him that’s true.”
Heyes’ smile broadened. “Yup, he is fast. Fastest I’ve ever seen. And he’s just playing now, just wait until he’s really serious.”
Belle’s jaw dropped and she stared at Heyes incredulously. “He’s faster than this? Now that would really be something to see.”
“Well that’s the problem.” Said Heyes, and he flashed his dimples at her. “When he’s serious, you don’t see it.”
Just then Bridget appeared on the porch and summoned everyone for breakfast.
Later than morning Sam had finished mending the fence and had hitched up the wagon to head into Brookswood. Jesse figured that since he was going into town anyways, he may as well pick up some supplies and save them from having to go in again later in the week.
It wasn’t a long drive into town, a little over an hour at most at a steady jog-trot. However, Sam was in a bit of a hurry and as soon as he was out of sight of the ranch house he pushed the horses into a hand gallop and kept them at that pace all the way to the outskirts of town. He did have enough common sense to pull the horses back down to a reasonable trot when approaching the main street, but there was still a sense of urgency about him and the horses were tossing their heads and fighting the bits in response to it.
Sam kept the horses going past the small family homes that lined the street on the way into town, including the home of his apparent girlfriend, and carried on into the commercial area fully intent on his business. But he kept on going past the mercantile store, past the feed store and even past the saloon and kept on going until he finally pulled the horses up next to the telegraph office.
He hopped down from the wagon, tied the horses to the hitching rail and went inside.
“Well, morning there Sam.”
“You wanting to send another telegram are you?”
“Yes I am.”
“Well, here you go.” Said Clayt as he handed Sam a pencil and paper. “That sure must be an important job you’re waiting on.”
“Yes it is Clayt, real important.” Sam answered with a smile as he took the items and went over to the table to compose his message.
It was short and to the point, not wanting to waste money on unnecessary words: TO SHERIFF MORRISON, MURREYVILLE, WYOMING.
Contact has been made. S. J.
TO BE CONTINUED.
* Note; I did ask for and receive permission from Silverkelpie to mention her character “Abigail” in this story. For any of you who might have been wondering.
Last edited by Keays on Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:56 pm|| |
Chapter 2: Opportunities
Sam Jefferies was eight years old the day his father died. His family lived in a quaint little house in a quaint little town close to the Wyoming-Montana border. His father had been the Sheriff in that town. Sammy, with his mother and father had basked in the glow of friendship and respectability that had been theirs mainly due to his father’s firm but fair interpretation of his duties. Thomas Jefferies was indeed an honourable man and the residents of Quesnal Wyoming could not have asked for a better.
But then the unthinkable had happened. It had been a cold clear autumn day with just a small dusting of snow on the ground when a group of innocent looking men had quietly ridden into town and then brazenly robbed the small bank of $800.00. The outlaws would have been quite content to quietly ride out of town just as they had ridden in, but the assistant manager of the bank had different ideas. As the group of men had started on their way Mr. Jackson had come running out of the bank hollering and yelling and attracting the attention of everyone within earshot. The outlaws, true to their nature had kicked their horses into a gallop and headed for the outskirts of town by the shortest possible route.
Of course Sheriff Jefferies had become alerted by all the commotion and responding to his call of duty he had hurried out into the street to assess the situation. His timing was such that he met the outlaws full on and was promptly mowed down and trampled into the hard ground by the pounding hooves of the stampeding horses.
The town had gone into shock. No one could quite believe that such a terrible thing had happened—not in their town! Sam and his mother were devastated Merle Jefferies was so grief-stricken at the loss of her husband that she became house bound and partially bedridden in her despair. Sam tried his best to tend to his mother, but he was much too young for that responsibility and it fell to their kind and supportive neighbours to tend to the young widow and her child.
In time the town recovered and carried on. A new Sheriff was appointed and he was a fine upstanding gentleman in his own right. Merle Jefferies also gradually got back on her feet. They'd had some savings and with the small pension she received as the widow of a law officer killed in the line of duty she was able to stay in their small home and raise her son. The outlaws were never captured, the money never returned and the death of a good man never vindicated
Sam Jefferies grew up with a mission burned into his heart and soul: That good honest folks should be able to live their lives and raise their families without having to fear being assaulted in their own homes. They should be able to work hard and be prosperous without fear of loosing their savings to thieves and con men. Indeed, by the time Sam had grown into his twenties he was determined to do everything within his power to see that every man who rode the outlaw trail would pay for the misery they had caused and that justice would be prevailed upon them.
So it was, when Sam came into his twenty-fifth year that the Wyoming Sheriff’s Department had offered Thomas Jefferies’ son the very opportunity he had been seeking to carry out his mission. The job was given to him to become friendly with the Jordan family, to become their employee and to gain their trust and possibly even their friendship then, simply to wait. Sheriff Morrison was certain that sooner or later those two most notorious of outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry would come calling. And when they did all Sam had to do was send a telegram and then sit tight.
Well Sam had done just that. While in town, waiting for the reply to his message Sam had carried on with his errands just as would be expected. He stocked up on the supplies that Mr. Jordan had requested and even went to spend some time with his convenient girl friend in order not to arouse any suspicions. When the expected telegram finally arrived it congratulated Sam on his good work and instructed him to carry on as he had been, just watching and listening. But also, if the need arose, to do whatever he had to do to keep the outlaws from leaving, that in itself was the most important task of all.
Driving back to the Double J Ranch that afternoon Sam felt a slight sense of guilt over his duplicity with the Jordan family. They seemed to be solid, hard working people and they had always treated him fairly and with respect. Not to mention the eldest daughter, Bridget was a fine looking young woman and Sam immensely enjoyed watching her figure walking away.
Still, they were friends with outlaws, even to the point of harbouring them from the law and that just was not acceptable. Sam was determined to see Heyes and Curry brought to justice and so he hardened his heart and stayed focused on his goals and he became just as smooth a liar and con man as the criminals he sought to bring down.
As the morning and afternoon wore on Heyes and Kid were enjoying the opportunity of doing absolutely nothing. Jessie spent most of the afternoon in his study getting lessons ready for the class he was to teach the next morning. Belle spent most of the time preparing meals and tending to the baby while the girls alternated between helping their mother and visiting with their guests out on the porch.
It was another warm sunny afternoon and Curry was taking full advantage of it. He was leaning back in his chair, his feet propped up on the porch railing and his hat pulled down over his eyes, apparently sound asleep. The three dogs were also taking advantage of the lazy day and were stretched out in various shady spots along the porch and Beth had gone inside to help her mother tend to Jay. Heyes decided that now was as good a time as any to ask Bridget to join him for a walk about the property. She was, of course, quite happy to accompany him.
“Where would you like to go first Joshua?” She had asked him as they walked across the yard, the two smaller dogs, not wanting to miss an opportunity for a walk jumped up to join them. Rufus, being an older gentleman decided to keep Kid company. “I could show you the creek where we go fishing. It's a little late in the day to saddle up the horses and go for a ride.”
“Well actually Bridget, I just wanted us to go for a walk and have a talk.” Heyes admitted. Then he smiled and offered her his arm, which she gladly albeit suspiciously accepted.
“Talk about what?” she asked with a sideways glance up at him.
“Well,” he began with a sigh, “I’ve been thinking about the conversation yesterday about your choice of careers and I admit I’m a little concerned about it.”
Bridget became defensive, “But Momma and Papa are supportive of it, and you said you would introduce me to your friend…!”
“I know, I know. And I will.” Heyes assured her. “But I just want to make sure you understand what you could be getting yourself into.”
“Oh I know.” Bridget answered him flippantly, “It’s dangerous. I would be associating with the criminal element. It’s no job for a woman…”
Heyes remained serious. “Yes, to all of the above.”
“But you know a woman who does it, you said so!” Bridget was once more becoming defensive.
He sighed again, knowing he was treading on treacherous ground here. He did not want to come across as preachy or condescending, but he still strongly felt the need to impress upon her the seriousness of her choice.
“In order to be a successful undercover detective you have to be able to look a person straight in the eye and lie to them. You have to, in all sense and purposes become what they are in order to fit into their lives and be convincing. In fact you have to be worse than the people you’re trying to bring down just in order to stay alive. Now do you think you would be willing to do that?”
“I suppose I might have to do those things Joshua, but it would be for the greater good wouldn’t it?” Bridget reasoned. “So wouldn’t that make it alright?”
“I’ve heard law officers, some of them anyways, justify their actions that way.” Heyes admitted. “They reason that because they have the law on their side that that condones the deceptions and brutalities they use to apprehend a criminal.” Then he smiled ruefully. “I suppose I could be prejudice in this matter, but I don’t swallow it. Injustice against another person is just that, whether the man behind the gun is wearing a badge or not.”
“But injustice is exactly what I want to stop.” Bridget argued. “Take you and Thaddeus for instance. It’s not justice at all that the law is still after you after all this time. You have been trying for so long to change your lives around and the law just won’t let you. Well I want to get in there and make things better because that’s just not right!”
Heyes smiled at her. “Well of course I’m going to agree with you on that. But there are other ways you can fight that battle without putting your own life in jeopardy.” Then his expression clouded for a moment and he gently squeezed her hand. “I care about you Bridget and I’d hate to see anything bad happen to you.”
It was Bridget’s turn to sigh heavily. Why couldn’t Joshua understand how important this was to her?
Heyes saw her frustration and decided it was time to change the subject. “What about the young men in your life? And don’t tell me that a pretty young lady like you doesn’t have any suitors.”
Bridget smiled shyly. “Oh yes, there have been some and I have certainly noticed Sam looking my way on occasion And I have to admit it has been fun to tease him a little.” But then she smiled broadly and put her other hand on Joshua’s arm. “But you know that you’re always going to be the first love of my life!”
Heyes laughed. “Oh Bridget, you’re really are turning into a little flirt!”
“Oh it’s all in fun,” She said, patting his arm. “You know that.” Then she rolled her eyes. “Not like Beth! It’s so embarrassing watching her swooning over…” Then she stopped herself and brought a hand quickly up to her mouth. She blushed brightly.
Heyes smiled down at her. “Swooning over Thaddeus, you were about to say?”
“Oh my goodness!” Bridget was mortified. “I can’t believe I said that! Oh, Beth will kill me if she finds out. Oh no, you won’t tell him will you? Beth would just be beside herself if he knew how she felt.” And then a terrible thought occurred to her. “You don’t think he already knows do you?”
“What? Thaddeus?” Asked Heyes incredulously. “Being able to tell when a young lady is sweet on him? I think even Thaddeus will pick up on that sooner or later.”
“Oh, now you’re teasing me!” Bridget accused him. “Please, don’t tell him, okay?”
Heyes smiled and then it was his turn to give her arm a pat. “Don’t worry, I won’t say a word.” Then he took her into his arms in a friendship hug and kissed her on the forehead.
Just then they heard and then saw Sam driving the buckboard into the yard with the supplies. All three dogs changed their plans for the moment and scrambled towards the wagon, full of tail wagging and excited barkings. Sam uncharacteristically ignored the dogs on this occasion because he had noticed the two people at the other end of the yard as soon as he had driven in. It took him unawares and he couldn’t prevent the slight scowl that flashed across his face at the sight of that outlaw hugging a decent woman. Heyes smiled at what he took to be a young man’s unnecessary jealousy then released Bridget and walked her back to the front porch.
Once there Bridget carried on into the house to help her mother get supper on the table. Heyes walked up beside Jed who was awake now and leaning against the porch post with a far-a-way look in his eyes.
“Whatcha thinking Kid?”
Curry came back to the present and smiled whimsically. “Oh, just how nice it would be to put down roots and stay here and be part of a family again.”
“Huh hu.” Answered Heyes. “Would be nice wouldn’t it?”
“But you know we can’t do that, right?”
“Oh yeah Heyes, I know. Course nothing to prevent us from coming back for a visit now and again.”
“That’s true.” Heyes agreed. “As long as it’s not too often.”
“No no, not often.” Said Curry. “Just on special occasions. Like the fourth of July.”
“Then there’s Thanksgiving.”
“Then Christmas, sure would be nice to spend Christmas with a family again.”
“Then, of course there’s Easter. Not to mention the girls’ birthdays and then we couldn’t miss Jay’s first birthday, that wouldn’t be right.”
“No, sure wouldn’t”.
“And then there’s my birthday, not to mention yours. I wonder when Belle’s and Jesse’s are. Oh, and of course their anniversary!”
“I think supper’s about ready.”
The evening meal was again an unqualified success. Both young men wondered out loud how Belle was able to consistently put together such wonderful meals with all the other things she had to tend to as well. She shrugged off their compliments, but smiled with pleasure all the same.
As everyone was settling into seconds of dessert and another round of coffee, Belle loaded up a tray with a full plate of dinner, dessert and coffee and handed it over to Bridget.
“Here Bridget, take this out to Sam please.” She requested of her eldest child. “He got back so late from town I guess he’s still out there putting the supplies away. I’m sure he must be quite hungry by now.”
“Yes Momma.” Bridget answered as she took the tray and headed for the front door. She flashed a smile in Joshua’s direction as she went and he smiled back at their private joke. Obviously poor Sam was in for some more teasing.
Belle returned to the kitchen and began the clean-up and since Beth had become busy tending to her young brother, Curry excused himself from the table and joined Belle in the kitchen to help out.
“Oh, Thaddeus. Thank you.”
“Well it’s the least I can do after the way you folks have made us feel so welcome.” He answered. “It’s been a real nice break for us, ma’am.”
“What’s with this “ma’am” stuff?” Belle laughed. “You’re family here you know that.”
“Yes ma’am…” Kid began, then he stopped himself and laughed. “Sorry, Belle. I guess my folks just taught me to do things a certain way and some of that learning went pretty deep.”
Belle stopped what she was doing and smiled up at the soft-spoken, handsome young man. Again, she found herself in conflict over what she felt for the person she had come to know and the outlaw she had heard so many bad things about.
“Your folks would be very proud of you Thaddeus.” She finally stated. “You’re a fine young man—and don’t you let anyone tell you any different.”
Curry smiled broadly “No ma’am—ah Belle. I surely won’t.”
At this point Beth came into the kitchen trying to hold onto a grumpy squiggly little wiggly worm named Jesse Jr. His older sister looked totally frustrated.
“Momma, I can’t get him to settle.” She whined. “He always goes down right away for you, what’s the matter with him?”
Belle turned from the dishes and began to dry her hands. “Well,” she answered. “Did you go over the list the way we discussed?”
Beth rolled her eyes “Yes!” And then her focus changed as she fought to hold onto her baby brother while he twisted and turned and screamed his protests. “What do I do with him? He won’t listen to reason! Tending to babies is a lot harder than it looks!”
Belle smiled through her son’s screaming and in her quiet, calm manner she took control of the situation.
“He’s been fed.”
“You’ve changed his nappy?”
“He’s all clean and dry, not cold?”
“Yes!” Beth was getting frustrated again. “I did all that!”
“What else is on that list that you’re supposed to do before you put him down after he’s eaten?”
“I don’t know!”
Belle sighed. A mother’s job is never done.
“Have you burped him?” She asked.
“Oh.” Beth’s response said it all. “No.”
“I think that’s the next thing you should try.”
“Yes Momma.” Beth looked totally dejected. “I am never going to get the hang of this! How did you manage it with two?”
“Just don’t worry about it.” Her mother suggested. “It’ll come in time.”
Jed, who had been leaning against the counter and watching this exchange with a certain amount of detached humour finally made a comment.
“Just think of it as an opportunity for practice Beth.” He said to her. “Then by the time you have your own family you’ll be a real pro.”
Beth instantly beamed with pleasure and hoisting her brother up onto her shoulder headed back into the nursery to continue with her practicing.
Belle turned back to Thaddeus with a large smile on her face. Thaddeus himself had closed his eyes and grimaced as soon as the words had left his mouth.
“I think I should have just kept quiet.” He mumbled. “I know I just said completely the wrong thing.”
“I think you just made Beth’s day.”
“Ohh no. I’m going to have Jesse after me with a shotgun pretty soon if I’m not careful.”
Belle laughed and gave him a pat on the arm.
“Don’t worry about it Thaddeus.” She assured him. “We’ve all had to suffer through teenage crushes and most of us survive them. Give her time, she’ll get over it.”
“I sure hope so.” He answered, then thinking that he might be giving the wrong impression he quickly started to back step. ”Not that Beth wouldn’t make some fella a fine wife! I just think she could do a lot better than an old ex-outlaw for a husband.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Belle said with another smile and then headed into the dinning room with the coffee pot, ready to sit down and have a cup herself.
Curry leaned back against the counter again and sighed heavily as he ran his hands over his face and through his curls. He knew Belle was just teasing him but this was a balancing act he was not used to playing. Then he pushed himself away from the counter and headed towards the other room to join the rest of the “adults”.
After Belle and Jed had left to go clean up Jesse and Heyes found themselves sitting at the table on their own. Both of them were relaxed and enjoying a second cup of coffee.
“You sure you have to leave tomorrow Joshua?” Jesse asked. “Me and Beth have to go to school in the morning, but Bridget and Belle will be here and you know you and Thaddeus are always welcome.”
“Yeah, I know Jesse.” Heyes answered him. “It’s been real nice visiting with you folks again,” then he smiled, “and I know Thaddeus would like to stay a while longer, but we can’t stay in one spot too long you know that.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.” Jesse admitted. “It must be real hard on you fellas having to stay on the move like that all the time. It must get lonely.”
Heyes nodded agreement. “Hmmm, yeah it does.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “We keep hoping that it won’t be for much longer, but, I don’t know Jesse.” He paused and sighed again. “It seems that each year just keeps flowing into the next and we don’t get any closer to the amnesty. It feels like the Governor is just playing games with us.”
“What else can you do?”
Heyes shrugged. “I donno. Just keep trying I guess. We do have friends with some clout who are putting pressure on the powers that be but in the mean time, every day is a risk. Every day without the amnesty is one more day that could be our last. We could end up in prison for twenty years—or worse.” Then he smiled ruefully. “If there is anything worse than twenty years in prison.”
Jesse knitted his brow and then leaned across the table towards Heyes as though getting in closer proximity to the young man would give his words more impact.
“Listen to me Joshua.” He said. “At least in prison you still have life, and as long as you have life there is hope. You just said yourself that there are people out here who care about you and Thaddeus and who know about the deal the Governor made with you. We will not just sit back and forget about you, do you understand? If you find yourself with a choice to make, do not chose death over prison. Do you hear me?”
Heyes felt a chill go through him. He suddenly felt like a small child again being reprimanded by his father for some misdeed or selfish word, and yet at the same time his respect and affection for this older man grew ten fold. He swallowed down his emotion and smiled a little shamefacedly
“Yeah Jesse, I hear you. Thanks.”
“Good. Now would you like a shot of whiskey in your next cup of coffee?”
Out in the barn, Bridget had just walked in to the dusty structure with the tray of food. She could hear Sam in the feed room stacking up the sacks of grain so she set the tray of food down on one of the hay bales then promptly sat down beside it and waited for Sam to finish what he was doing. The three dogs, instantly picking up the scent of food were suddenly all attentive. The two smaller ones, Peanut and Pebbles even went so far as to jump up on the hay bale beside their young mistress and did their best to look cute.
Finally Sam came out of the feed room. He had taken his shirt off and was sweating with the exertion. He saw Bridget sitting there and was suddenly quite embarrassed.
“Oh! Miss Bridget.” He stammered, and quickly moved over to where he had hung his shirt and pulled it on over his head.
Bridget smiled shyly, but in reality she rather enjoyed the view and was sorry he had been so quick to cover it up.
“Momma thought you would be hungry by now so she asked me to bring this out to you.”
“Oh, yeah.” Sam answered and then smiled a little nervously. “Your Momma’s a fine woman and I sure am hungry. Thank you.” And he picked up the tray and looked around for another bale to sit on and eat. The dogs’ attentions followed the food.
Sam spied another bale close at hand and promptly sat down and began to eat. He broke up the biscuit, sopped it in some of the gravy and threw each dog a dripping piece relevant to their sizes.
“Well it’s no wonder the dogs are so fond of you if you keep throwing them table scarps.” Bridget observed. “You’re going to make them fat. And Papa says you let them sleep in the bunk house with you too! You’re spoiling them.”
“Well it’s still cold out at night and they don’t have much fur on to stay warm, especially the two little ones. And a few treats here and there won’t hurt them.” Sam countered. “Besides, with all the running around they do here there’s not much chance of them getting fat!”
“Well, I certainly noticed the hard work is good for you.” Bridget mumbled coyly. But Sam still heard what she said and smiled with pleasure. She sure was pretty.
He took another mouthful of food and started chewing, looking down at his plate. He felt the need to say something to her but did not know how to start. Finally, he just—started.
“Are those two fellas going to be here much longer?” He asked.
Bridget frowned. “No.” She answered, sounding quite disappointed. “I think they’re going to be leaving in the morning.”
“Oh.” That certainly got Sam’s attention. “Do you think they will be coming back again?”
Bridget brightened up. “Oh yes!” She answered with a smile. “Joshua said he was going to introduce me to a detective he knows at Bannerman’s in Denver!”
Sam looked puzzled “He knows a detective at Bannerman’s?”
“Yes! Isn’t that wonderful?” Bridget was all excited. “Then I’ll be able to go right inside the agency and see how it all works, maybe even get a job there or something! Wouldn’t that be a great opportunity?”
Sam wasn’t smiling, things were not going to plan at all.
“Maybe it’s not my place to say.” Sam said cautiously. “But I think you should be a little more careful around those two.”
Now Bridget wasn’t smiling.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I saw Mr. Smith giving you a hug out there this afternoon and I just don’t think it was very appropriate is all.”
Bridget was instantly on her feet.
“Well you are definitely right about one thing!” She snapped at him, all rage and indignation. “It is certainly not your place to say! We’ve known Joshua and Thaddeus for years and I would trust either one of them with my life!”
Then with a huff she stomped out of the barn and back up to the house.
The dogs were feeling uneasy with the changed atmosphere and when Bridget left they were torn between going to support their mistress or staying where the food was. Peanut and Pebbles decided to keep their eyes on the gravy. Rufus, being older and wiser and not inclined to eat much anyways got up and padded after his distressed human.
Sam’s shoulders slumped as he continued to eat his supper.
He sure had messed that up.
Bridget came storming into the house just as Belle and Thaddeus were sitting down to relax with their own coffees and it became apparent that the drama of the evening was not over yet.
“I hate men!!” She was fuming as she headed for the staircase which would take her up to her room. “Men are so stupid—every single one of them! I’m never going to get married!”
The ranting along these lines continued as she stomped up the stairs, totally oblivious to the fact that J.J.’s nursery was right under the staircase, and her stomping up it was echoing loudly in his room. Within seconds of Bridget entering the house Jay was once again screaming at the top of his lungs and Beth came bursting out of the nursery a picture of anger and frustration.
“Thanks a lot Bridget!” She yelled up the stairs “I just finally got him to sleep and then you go and wake him up! The only stupid one here is you!!”
Jesse and Belle both sighed and pushed themselves away from the table.
“Here we go again.” Said Jesse. “Girls! Settle down! What in the world started this off?”
But Beth was already up the stairs after her sister and the loud quarreling between the two of them reverberated throughout the household. Rufus had stopped at the front door knowing, and perhaps grateful that he wasn’t allowed inside. He turned and headed towards his favorite spot on the porch to lay down and soak up the last of the evening sunshine.
Belle was on her feet and, turning her back on her cup of coffee hurried into the nursery to work her magic on the youngest member of the Jordan family.
“Oh my goodness.” Jesse mumbled as he stood up and started to head for the stairs. “Welcome to family life boys.”
Heyes and Kid sat at the table nursing their coffees and listening to the sounds of battle emanating from various levels of the ranch house.
“I’m beginning to think it’s a good thing that we’re leaving in the morning.”
Heyes smiled and nodded agreement.
The next morning, Heyes and Kid were still in the room they had been sharing for the last couple of nights. It was a large airy room with a double bed and windows that opened out onto the pasture where their horses had been turned out during the day It was on the main floor, right next to the day nursery, but fortunately for our boys, Belle always took little Jay upstairs to their own room for the nights.
The fellas were busy packing up their saddle bags in preparation for leaving but Curry was dragging his heels and Heyes felt the need to nudge him a little or they would never get on the road.
“Come on Kid, you knew we couldn’t stay for long.”
“Yeah, I know Heyes, but its gonna be real hard having to eat your cooking again after Belle’s fine suppers.” Curry admitted as he punched an innocent pair of socks into his saddlebags.
Heyes smiled and nodded in silent agreement.
“What do you think Heyes?” Kid asked, changing the subject. ”Are we going to get in touch with Harry and ask him about Bridget?”
“I suppose.” Heyes answered. “I tried to talk Bridget out of it again, but she’s adamant that it’s what she wants. Maybe the best thing to do is just to let her see first hand what it’s all about.” Then he smiled. “And if anyone can deter anyone from becoming a detective, Harry can.”
Curry laughed. “Heyes, has anyone ever told you, you have a devious mind?”
“Yeah Kid, I believe you have on a number of occasions.”
A quick survey of the room convinced them that they had everything and then they headed out to the porch. Once arriving there however it looked as though Curry may be getting his wish. Jesse and Sam were standing at the foot of the steps in quiet conversation and then Jesse noticing the boys coming out turned to Curry apologetically.
“Thaddeus, I’m sorry, but when Sam went into the stable to saddle up your horses he noticed that your gelding was lame. Maybe you should go in there and take a look at him.”
“Oh yeah thanks Jesse, I will.”
A few minutes later, inside the barn Kid was squatted down beside Buck’s off fore leg and feeling the swelling that was quite apparent in the tendons.
“I’ll say he’s lame.” Curry mumbled. “A lot of heat in there.” Then he straightened up with a sigh and gave Buck a pat on the neck. “He must have strained it running around out in the pasture.”
“I could always loan you one of our riding horses Thaddeus.” Jesse offered. “You boys expect to be back this way in a month or two anyways, you could always pick him up again then.”
Curry appreciated the offer, but didn’t feel right about leaving his trusted Buck behind. If he and Heyes got into a tight pinch he needed a horse under him that he knew and who knew him, his very life could depend upon it.
Heyes could see and understand his partner’s hesitation.
“How long do you think it’ll need to heal?” He asked Jesse.
“Well, it’s hard to say.” Jesse answered. “It depends on how bad the sprain is, it could take up to a couple of weeks.”
Both men groaned, knowing that they couldn’t hold off leaving for that long. Sam saw his opportunity slipping away. He had to keep these men here!
“Oh it shouldn’t take that long Mr. Jordan.” Sam ventured. “If we keep him quiet in a stall, and if I can get some ice from the icebox to wrap around that leg I’m sure I could have the swelling down in two to three days.”
Heyes and Curry exchanged a look.
“Well, what do you think Joshua?”
Heyes hesitated. He knew Kid didn’t want to leave Buck behind, just as he wouldn’t want to leave Karma but he was getting antsy and wanted to be on the move again. He was just about to diplomatically suggest that Kid take Jesse up on the offer of a borrowed horse when a voice from the barn door stopped him.
“Oh please stay.” It was Beth. “What harm could a couple of more days do?”
Heyes and Kid exchanged looks again. Oh boy. Jesse smiled at them.
“You know you’re welcome to stay boys.” He said. “And if you get really bored I can always put you work.”
“Alright.” Agreed Heyes conceding defeat. “I suppose a couple of more days won’t kill us.” Then he gave Kid a serious look. “But then we have to go, whether Buck’s better or not. Agreed?”
“Agreed.” Curry answered with a relieved smile. He gave Buck another affectionate pat on the neck and looked over at Sam. “You sure you can get that swelling down in a couple of days?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Jones.” Sam answered with a relieved smile of his own. “I’m positive.”
As is so often the case, the day for Curry and Heyes turned out to be quite different than what they had intended when they got up that morning.
Jesse and Beth had gone into town together in the single horse dogcart, him to teach and her to learn—hopefully. Beth had put forth a brilliant argument that since their guests were going to be staying on a few more days, and who knew when they would all get together again, that it would make sense for her to stay home from school to help entertain. It had been a good effort and both her parents were impressed with the amount of thought that had gone into it. Never the less, a disappointed Beth still ended up accompanying her father to school that day.
Belle and Bridget were busy with the daily household chores so Heyes and the Kid were left to their own devises to keep occupied throughout the day. This did not prove to be difficult. Curry was concerned about Buck’s welfare, and when he spied Sam packing ice from behind the house to inside the barn he made haste to go join him.
Inside the stall, Curry held on to Buck’s head, petting him and scratching him behind the ears which was a treat the big gelding particularly enjoyed while Sam did his best to wrap an ice filled burlap sack around the swollen tendon. Buck was not too pleased with this treatment and tossed his head and tried to pull away on more than one occasion.
“Whoa, easy old friend.” Kid would sooth him and continue to stroke his neck. “I know it’s not too pleasant, but it’ll feel better soon.”
“You’re really fond of this horse aren’t you?” Asked Sam from his position on the floor.
“You better believe it.” Curry answered. “This old boy and I have been through a lot together. Wouldn’t want to trade him in for nothing.”
“It’s good to have that.” Said Sam. “I notice your partner is awful fond of his mare too.”
Curry rolled his eyes as he often tended to do when Karma-Lou was mentioned and he glanced over at the mare as she was standing in her stall across the isle. Karma, who always seemed to know when she was being referred to and was in no doubt that the comments made were all complimentary pricked her ears and gave the two men her best countenance.
“I swear I can’t understand why.” Curry admitted. “That mare can be a real headache sometimes, even when she’s not in season!”
Sam smiled as he continued to massage the ice around Buck’s tendon.
“Yeah.” He agreed. “Mares can be like that sometimes. Me, I like dogs. Always have. I miss having my own dog.”
“Yeah?” Answered Kid. “Did you have a dog as a kid, growing up?”
“Sure did. Best friend a boy could ever have.”
Both men glanced out of the open stall door at the three dogs stretched out in the isle, overseeing the operation.
“Yeah, me too.” Curry mumbled, suddenly going back in time.
“Where did you grow up Mr. Jones? Around here somewhere’s?”
“Oh no.” Curry answered, jolted back to the present. “Josh and I both grew up in Kansas.”
“Really?” Said Sam, fringing surprise. “What brought you out this way?”
“Oh well, lots of things.” Answered Curry, stroking Buck’s forehead. There was something about standing in the stall spending time with his horse that made Curry relax, perhaps a little too much. “We both lost our folks in the Border Wars and then just started drifting and taking odd jobs until we found ourselves out here.”
“Oh.” Said Sam. “That’s a shame. About your folks I mean. I lost my Pa when I was quite young too. But I still had my Ma and we did alright.”
“Where do you call home Sam?”
A slight chill went through Kid, but he pushed it down and ignored it. He was sure that it was just the mention of that name that sent his nerves to tingling. Besides, many people were from Wyoming, he was sure it didn’t mean anything. Still, he thought perhaps it might be best to change the subject.
“So, I hear you have a girlfriend in town.”
Sam smiled. “Yeah. Maribelle. She’s real pretty too. I’m going to go in to see her this evening for supper.”
“Yeah? You sound like you’re kinda serious about her.”
“Yeah, I suppose I am. Why you askin'?”
“Well,” Began the Kid. “It’s just that I noticed you spending a lot of time talking to Bridget. It just seems to me that if you’re courting one gal, you shouldn’t be thinking of courting another one at the same time.”
Sam froze. Damn! Had he blown it? Having a girlfriend in town was a convenient cover and Maribelle was pleasant enough company but nothing more. He hadn’t even thought that showing interest in Bridget might compromise his integrity in the eyes of these men. Did Curry suspect something? This being in the barn, tending to the horse had made him too relaxed and he stopped thinking about what he was saying! Well now it was time to start thinking again! Get back on track.
He smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
“Well it’s not like Maribelle and me are betrothed or anything.” Sam was thinking on his feet, so to speak. “You can’t blame a fella for looking around before he makes his final choice can you?”
“No, I don’t suppose so.” Curry had to admit.
Damn, he could remember being twenty years old and hopping from one bed into another without any thought or concern about the feelings of his various bed-mates. He had just assumed they were all in it for the fun too, no harm done. Geesh, he thought with a twinge of guilt, here he was well into his thirty’s and he was still doing the same thing! But now all of a sudden he was looking at the equation from the other side of the bed. This time it was Bridget who stood the chance of getting her feelings hurt.
Curry had a hard time digesting this new revelation. He had always felt the pull to protect a lady who was in need of a helping hand but it never occurred to him that they might need protecting from him! He felt an unreasonable desire to grab Sam by the scruff of the neck and shake some decency into him, but then, he mused, maybe it was himself he needed to slap some sense into instead. Oh this line of thought was getting him nowhere.
“I just don’t want to see Bridget get hurt is all.”
Sam looked up at him, suddenly all serious.
“No Mr. Jones. Neither do I.”
It was at this point that Heyes showed up at the barn door.
“Hey Thad, come outside. I want to talk to you a minute.”
“Oh yeah. Hang on a minute.”
“No, that’s alright Mr. Jones.” Sam told him. “I think that’s enough of a cold pack for now. I’ll come back and do it again after lunch. In the mean time I got chores to get to and Mr. Jordan wants me to take that stallion up to the south range to turn him out with the broodmares, so you’re good to go.”
“Alright Sam. Thanks for your help.” Curry answered as he removed Buck’s halter and then went to join his partner out in the sunshine.
“Joshua, what’s up?”
“Nothing really.” Heyes answered casually. “I was just thinking, since Buck is laid up and all that I just might ride on in to Brookswood on my own and send that telegram to Harry.”
“Yeah, okay. You want me to borrow one of the horses here and come with you?”
“No, that’s okay Kid.” Heyes said quietly. “To be quite honest I’m just feeling all pent up and restless. I just need to get out and blow off some of the cobwebs. You know how I get when we’re hole up in one place for too long and there’s no poker.”
Curry grinned “Yeah, I know Heyes. You go ahead. I got enough to do here with Buck and I’ll probably help Sam get caught up on his chores since its 'cause of my horse he’s gotten behind. Besides, I think Karma-Lou could do with a stretch of the legs too. She was getting kinda restless in there.”
“Okay, see you in a couple of hours. Stay out of trouble.”
Then Heyes disappeared into the barn to saddle up his horse.
Half an hour later Heyes had left the main road into town and was flying at a full gallop across open country. Karma was feeling her oats and wanted to run so as soon as Heyes and turned her head towards freedom she had let loose with a small squeal of pleasure, gave Heyes a little buck just for the fun of it and then lit out full speed ahead for parts wherever.
After three years of riding this mare Heyes had never gotten over the thrill of her full out gallop. He was relieved that Kid hadn’t pressed coming with him as he had really felt the need of some time alone—a telegram to Harry being just a convenient excuse. Now all the restlessness and worry that had been building up inside of him just slipped away and he laughed into the full force of the wind.
Karma heard him laugh and snorted and flung her head in response. She loved it when her human let her go like this, just the two of them flying over the countryside together. Not to misunderstand her, she had become quite fond of Buck over the years. Many a time it was his steadying presence that had helped to calm her nerves when unexpected things happened and they did seem to happen a lot in this new life of hers. But there were times when she found his patient understanding towards her and to all things around him just downright boring. Both man and horse had been in need of an adrenaline rush.
Eventually, as Heyes felt Karma start to slow down on her own accord, he settled back into the saddle and slowly brought her down to an easy lope, then a trot and finally to a nice walk. Karma mouthed the bit a couple of times, then set out on a loose rein at a comfortable swinging gait, looking around and taking in the scenery.
Heyes had no idea where they were in relationship to the ranch, but that didn’t matter right now. He got his bearings and casually made his way in the general direction of town thinking that he should at least send the telegram, since that was his excuse for leaving the ranch in the first place.
Heyes was still worried, no doubt about it, but not the pent up stressful worry that had been building in him that morning. He hoped that by coming out here, just him and Karma that he could clear his mind and perhaps settle some of the nagging questions that had been taking hold.
Watching Kid that first day with the Jordan’s when he was holding their new son had affected Heyes more than he had realized at the time. It had re-arisen in him some of the doubts that had settled onto him soon after they had applied for the amnesty. Until now he had just pushed back out of the way and hoped they would simply disappear, but no such luck.
That big question of what were they going to do with their lives if and when the amnesty came through? On the rare occasions when the subject would come up between them Curry would just laugh about it. He would then proceed to list off a series of the most ridiculous and unlikely professions that two single men in their mid-thirty’s would ever consider doing.
But Heyes knew, first and foremost, that Curry wanted a family. He wanted to put down roots, have a home and a life he could call his own, and coming to visit the Jordan’s had brought that yearning to the surface again. Over the last few days Kid had snatched moments here and there to help with the care of J.J., assisting whoever with the bathing and the dressing. Playing with him when he was awake and rocking him to sleep when playtime was over. And always, he looked happy doing it, content even, and Heyes would worry.
Heyes didn’t think he could settle into that kind of life. He had come close on occasion but his chosen life style kept getting in the way and, he thought ruefully, would continue to do so until he took steps to change it. He was hopeful that one day he would find a woman who could put up with him well enough to consent to marry him, but children? A family life? He wasn’t so sure about that.
Again, he had come close to having that for himself but it just never worked out. Now he thought; maybe it was for the better. He was consumed by a restlessness that he could not understand. Oh, he grew tired of the fugitive life for sure, always sleeping with one eye open, never knowing when a peaceful morning was going to blow up in his face. But two or three days in one place and he needed to get going again.
The only thing that seemed to calm him enough to stay put for a longer period was a good book or a good poker game because then his mind was kept busy. Sometimes he felt it was his mind that was his biggest enemy. Sure his ego loved it when he could out maneuver a posse or effortlessly rule over a poker game just for the fun of it. His flashes of genius that would dazzle everyone around him into awed submission were like candy to his psyche. It was like an addiction that he needed to keep feeding in order to feel alive, to feel that he was actually worth something. Without his incredible mind he was no different from any other worn out ex-outlaw with nothing to show and nothing to offer.
But he couldn’t turn the damn thing off! Constant impulses of information bombarding his senses, twisting and turning into schemes and plans and what if’s and why not’s. He’d learned how to settle his mind down to some degree at night so that usually he could at least sleep, but even that wasn’t a guarantee. How did Kid do it? Even in the middle of the day he could stretch out anywhere, pull his hat over his eyes and be asleep in minutes! And there would be Heyes up and pacing. Pace, pace pace. It drove Heyes nuts.
It seemed that the only way he could relax at all was to keep moving or to keep his mind focused and calculating on something. So far, Kid had been happy to just follow along whenever Heyes got restless and had to hit the trail again. But what if Kid got married and settled down? Would that be the end of their partnership, their friendship? Heyes’ throat involuntarily tightened at the thought. Could he go on? Could he face a life without Jed by his side? He needed Jed’s calming influence, his quiet down to earth common sense, just as Karma had come to depend on Buck’s steadying support in times of stress.
The possibility of Curry moving into another life, a life that Heyes could not emulate scared him more than death itself. So he simply chose not to think about it. Until they were sitting around the lunch table with the Jordan’s and Curry was sitting there holding a infant in his arms with a smile on his face that lit up the room.
Heyes was stressing himself out again. No questions answered, no doubts relieved. So again, he pushed these thoughts out of his mind and decided to just enjoy his day out with his favorite girl. He pushed Karma up into an easy lope as they headed towards the town. Maybe he’d even be able to find a poker game.
Curry watched his partner lope off up the road with a sense of relief. He could feel the stress in Heyes building, something was bugging him and Curry couldn’t for the life of him figure out what it was. Maybe some time on his own and the distraction of a good poker game would help Heyes sort out whatever it was that had him so worried. But Hannibal was just so “high octane.” It was no wonder the man was so skinny, he burned calories in his sleep!
Still, Curry did feel a tad guilty about the forced delay, not because he felt it was his fault really, but that he was secretly glad for it. He was sorry his horse was in pain, of course, but not sorry for some more time with the Jordans.
He had surprised even himself with how much he was enjoying being here, to feel part of a family again, and to take part in the functioning of that family. And admittedly, the talk with Sam earlier about where they had grown up etc. had stirred some deeply buried memories and longings. Things that Curry usually didn’t want to think about and yet now, and in this place those thoughts had bubbled to the surface and weren’t going away any time soon.
Curry had to admit that he was getting tired. Tired of life on the run. Five years now, and still no sign of the amnesty coming their way. Just how long were they suppose to carry on like this? It wasn’t so bad when they had money and could stay in a decent hotel and actually sleep in a bed—two beds if possible! But being out in the elements, sleeping on the ground in all kinds of weather. Geesh, they’d both gotten sick doing that and as they got older, the more often it was going to happen until one time, maybe one of them just wouldn’t recover like he had before. Curry didn’t like being sick, and dagnabbit he just seemed to have a predisposition towards phenomena that he was none too comfortable with. Winters on the run were getting harder and harder to face.
Finally Curry sighed and ran his fingers through his curls. For the second time that morning he found himself caught up in a train of thought that was getting him absolutely nowhere. He went back into the barn to see if Sam needed help with the chores.
The rest of the day went by quickly, but uneventfully. Curry iced Buck’s leg a couple of more times throughout the afternoon and Kid was quite pleased with the progress Another day of rest and ice should bring the tendon back down to normal and then they could be off and gone.
Bridget had come out to the barn around noon with sandwiches and lemonade for both men. She smiled sweetly at Thaddeus and asked him how Buck was doing and if they were almost done chores etc., but she hardly glanced at Sam. Curry smiled to himself at how uncomfortable Sam was looking. Apparently their little tiff of the night before had not been forgotten.
Shortly after that Sam saddled up one of the riding horses and took JohnnyBoy out towards the open range. It wouldn’t take too long since all Sam had to do was get the stallion within reasonable range of the herd, point him in the right direction and turn him loose. Instinct and desire would lead that stud right to his mares without any further assistance from Sam.
By late afternoon Jesse and Beth had returned home from their day of education. Sam then completed his final chore of the day by cooling out and bedding down their harness horse before scurrying off towards town himself for his anticipated rendezvous.
Curry got himself cleaned up and had settled in to join the family around the large table for supper. Belle entered the room with the pot of stew and of course noticed that one place was still empty.
“Where’s Joshua?” She asked suddenly quite concerned.
“Oh he went into town to send a telegram to that detective friend of ours.” Curry answered her as he passed the fresh buns around to the ladies. Bridget smiled with anticipation of what the answer to it might be.
“Well I know that Thaddeus.” Belle said. “But that was this morning, he should have been back ages ago.”
“Oh well, I wouldn’t worry too much about him ma’am.” Belle flashed him a look. “I mean Belle. If he’s found himself a good poker game he may not be back till morning.”
“Really?” She asked. “He doesn’t stay up all night does he?”
“Yup. He’s been known to do so.”
“Well, he’ll definitely be hungry when he gets back then. I’ll save him some supper, or breakfast as the case may be.”
“Is Joshua really that good at poker?” Jesse asked. “I hear it is a very difficult game to master.”
“Yeah, it is a difficult game.” Curry agreed. “And there are an awful lot of bad players around who refuse to acknowledge that. I’m not too bad a player, but Joshua, now he is a natural. He just has a way of reading people and of keeping track of all the cards. Once the deck has been dealt out he never forgets the order of them and he knows what players should have what hands.” Curry smiled in admiration of his partner’s abilities. “It’s a real amazing thing to watch.”
Belle smiled, remembering a similar conversation she’d had with Joshua while they were out on the front porch watching Curry practice his fast draw.
“Isn’t it a rather dangerous pastime though,” Asked Jesse. “It doesn’t happen here in Brookswood too often, but we do sometimes hear of some of these games getting a bit out of control at times.”
“Yeah, it can.” Curry agreed. “There are too many sore losers who would rather accuse the winning player of being a cheat rather than just admit that they were beat fair and square. But Joshua is too good a player, he don’t have to cheat.”
“How does that help Joshua if somebody accuses him of cheating?” Asked Bridget, suddenly all concerned. “Couldn’t he get into trouble?”
“Well, usually I’m there to watch his back.” Curry confessed. “I know I’m not there tonight, but like you just said Jesse, there’s usually not too much trouble in Brookswood.”
“No, not usually.” Jesse agreed. “I would hardly think the small games we have here would interest Joshua that much. If he’s that good a player.”
“Joshua uses poker to relax just as much as he uses it for income.”
“Income?” Questioned Belle. “Rather risky way of earning your income isn’t it?”
Curry smiled. “Not for Joshua.” He stated. “His skill at the poker table has put food in our bellies and a pillow under our heads more times than I care to keep tally of. He’s just that good.”
Jesse and Belle exchanged glances. It still seemed rather risky to them.
“Do you think you could teach me to play poker Thaddeus?” Beth suddenly asked out of the blue.
This query was instantly met with an onslaught of negative responses from each adult present.
“Don’t you even think it young lady!”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Over my dead body.”
“Well, I just thought because I was so good a numbers…”Beth mumbled.
Bridget snickered into her stew and received a scathing look from her younger sister.
After supper Jesse and Kid were sitting out on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee when both Heyes and Sam returned from their entertainment in town. They rode up to the barn where the saddle and harness horses were kept and dismounted, each apparently pleased with the outcomes of their endeavors. Sam offered to take both horses in to feed and bed down and so Heyes came over to join the two men on the porch.
“Sam’s a pretty helpful young fella.” Heyes commented as he pulled a chair over to sit beside Jesse. “He’s a good hand with a horse anyway.”
“Yes he is.” Jesse agreed. “I think he’ll make a fine foreman on a large spread some day. Once he gets some more experience under his belt.”
“So, how did it go?” Kid asked “Did you send the telegram?”
“Oh yeah.” Answered Heyes, all smiles and good humour. “Didn’t receive an answer yet, but we can check again before we leave.”
Heyes pulled off his hat and ran his hands through his hair, pushing it back off his forehead. A slight frown flashed across Jesse's face when, suddenly, for the first time, he noticed the white scar just below Heyes’ hairline. It was a solid scar, made by a deep bullet graze and Jesse wondered why he had never noticed it before. Then he reasoned that it was well hidden beneath Heyes’ long bangs and could only be seen when he pushed his hair back that way.
It’s odd how you can know something, but not really acknowledge it until it slaps you in the face, Jesse mused. Of course he was aware that these two young men were Hannibal Heyes and Jed Curry, but he had never really considered the dangerous lives they must have led, and were still leading. No wonder they were so cautious all the time, and loath to stay in one spot for too long. Joshua was lucky that bullet hadn’t killed him.
Jesse was still trying to process this new realization when Belle came out onto the porch carrying two cups of coffee.
“There you are Joshua” She said. “I thought I heard your voice out here. I brought you a cup of coffee.”
“Oh, thank you.” Said Heyes, and quickly got up to offer Belle his chair which she gladly accepted. Heyes dragged another one over and once seated, took the proffered beverage and took a moment to savor it’s aroma before indulging in a sip.
“There’s some supper for you in the kitchen if you would like something” Belle told him.
“Oh, yes.”Heyes smiled broadly “I will thank you. Just give me a minute to unwind.”
“You’re back early.” Commented Jesse. “Thaddeus here gave us to believe that you could be gone for the night.”
Heyes sent a smile over to the Kid. “Did he?”
“Well, I know what you’re like when you get into a poker game Heyes.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” Heyes admitted.
“None to your liking this evening Joshua?” Asked Belle.
“Oh, to the contrary.” Answered Heyes, still wound up with the thrill of the game. ”I think I did quite well.” And he sent another huge smile over to his cousin. “I guess I would still be there, but the poker shuts down kinda early here and then, what do you know? I ran into Sam as he was coming out of the telegraph office so we decided to head on back here together.”
“Well that was fortuitous.” Commented Belle, though she fleetingly wondered who Sam would be sending a telegram to.
Then the two girls, having finished with the cleaning up came out to join the group on the porch. Heyes and the Kid instantly surrendered their chairs to the ladies and found comfortable perches on the porch railings or against the post.
“All sounds quiet in there Beth.” Belle observed. “Did you have more success with J.J. this evening?”
“Yes,” Beth beamed, and smiled over at Thaddeus. “I think I might be getting the hang of looking after babies.”
Heyes and Kid exchanged quick smiles, even they knew it wasn’t that easy.
“Did you get a telegram back from your friend Joshua?” Asked Bridget all eager for some news.
“No, not yet.” Heyes answered, but seeing her disappointment, quickly continued. “But that’s not too surprising. He’s probably out on some assignment or something. He knows how to get in touch with us. Don’t worry Bridget, I’ll set something up for you if I can.”
It was Bridget’s turn to beam.
Over at the barn, Sam stood in the doorway in the fading evening light, watching the group of people over on the porch. He felt a certain amount of resentment listening to the light banter and laughter coming from their direction.
He just couldn’t understand it. How could these good people be on such friendly terms with those outlaws? Didn’t they understand what those men were capable of, and indeed, the numerous crimes that they had already committed?
Riding back from town in the company of that slick con man, Sam had to muster all his self control to simply not draw his gun on the man and arrest him then and there. Heyes had been so elated, so sickeningly pleased with himself over card-sharping the hard working citizens of the town out of their week’s wages. Sam had been infuriated and it was all Sam could do to smile and laugh along with the outlaw, pretending to be happy for him.
Sam felt frustrated at having to hold off from doing anything himself. Then to have to stand there and listen to young Bridget laugh and talk with him as though he were actually entitled to her admiration was just rubbing salt in the wound.
But if there was one thing his father had taught him, it’s the importance of sticking to a plan. If you are a member of a group, and a junior member at that you did what you were told and you stuck to the plan. Well, that’s what Sam was doing to the best of his ability. He knew that Sheriff Morrison was getting everything in order, that all the paperwork and red tape would be taken care of and out of the way so that nothing would hinder bringing those to highwaymen to justice once they were arrested.
The trap was being set and Sam Jefferies was determined that he was going to be there to see it sprung.
Next morning, Curry was up bright and early and was dressed and just strapping on his gun belt when Heyes rolled over, stretched and peeked at his partner through sleep heavy eyes.
“Wha ya do’n?” He mumbled. “is early.”
“Yeah I know Heyes.” Curry replied. “Go back to sleep. I just want to check on Buck and see how the swelling is. If he’s looking good maybe we can head out this morning.”
“Hmmmm…” Heyes pulled the blanket over his head and rolled over again, fully intending on taking his partner’s advice.
Out in the kitchen Belle was already up and putting the coffee on.
“Well you’re up early.” She commented. “Breakfast will be a while, but the coffee will be ready soon.”
Curry smiled. “Sounds fine Belle. I won’t be long I just want to check on Buck.” And with that he stepped out into the crisp sunny morning and made his way over to the outhouse first, and then into the barn.
Upon opening the door he was met with numerous nickerings and stamping of feet and every horse head in the place turned towards him in anticipation. He must be early he mused, getting out here even before Sam for the morning feeding. So Curry went into the feed room first, piled up eight flakes of hay into the wheelbarrow and headed down the isle, dumping a flake into each stall. Everyone seemed content with that and instantly the barn was filled with the sounds of happy munching and contented snorting.
Curry replaced the wheelbarrow and then went into Buck’s stall to see how things were going.
He gave the big gelding a pat and a scratch on the neck.
“How you doing this morning old friend?” He asked him.
Buck snorted an acknowledgment but continued to munch. Curry knelt down by his leg and ran his hands down the tendon and then sighed in disappointment. The tendon was much improved, but there was still some heat and swelling in there so he knew they wouldn’t be going anywhere that day. Again.
“How’s he doing?”
Curry just about jumped out of his skin. And Buck jumped in reaction to his human jumping, but then settled back to his hay again as Curry straightened and turned on his partner.
“Geesh Heyes! You should know better than to sneak up on me like that!”
“Oh, sorry.” Heyes responded with smile that suggested he wasn’t sorry at all.
Heyes'd had every intention of going back to sleep, but sounds of the household beginning to stir, and the aroma of coffee beginning to brew had succeeded in dragging him out of bed. His activities of the day before, though exhilarating at the time had left him burned out and exhausted. Morning had come much too early for his liking. He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment in his long johns and undershirt and then yawned and stretched again and tried to rub the sleepiness out of his eyes. Oh well, nothing for it, he was up now.
For decency’s sake he pulled on his trousers, then his socks and boots and then headed out of the room. He said good morning to Belle as he headed for the front door, and she smiled at him over her first cup of coffee, thinking he looked like something the cat had dragged in—if cats were allowed in the house. She would take some coffee out to them in the barn if they didn’t come back in soon.
Like his partner before him, Heyes headed into the outhouse first and then made his way over to the barn. The coolness in the spring air helped to wake him up and he kind of regretted not pulling his shirt on over his undergarment. Oh well, they probably wouldn’t be outside for long anyways.
“So, is he fit to ride today?
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:11 am|| |
I have a good idea where this is headed, so this all seems a bit sad knowing what is ahead of the boys.
|Subject: Re: Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union || |
Twist Of Fate Chapter one The Re-union