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 Keeping Up Curry: Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours (Part 1)

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PostSubject: Keeping Up Curry: Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours (Part 1)   Keeping Up Curry:  Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours (Part 1) EmptySat Feb 20, 2016 10:48 pm

Keeping Up Curry:  Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours

by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn





Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry rode hard along a trail, passing through grasslands before heading up into the hills.  Taking cover behind a copse of trees, they dismounted on a bluff overlooking the flats.  Breathing hard from both from the ride and an adrenaline rush, they removed their hats and mopped their brows with their shirt sleeves.  Both sported dust-covered clothing and dirty faces, streaks of sweat etching clean lines here and there through the grime, the several-day stubble on their chins all the more pronounced.  If men could look exhausted, they did.


Each unfastened a canteen from his saddle and took a long swig.  Heyes then undid a saddlebag and drew out a spyglass.  Moving beyond the trees into the open, he lowered himself to a crouch.  Using the glass, he saw a dust cloud in the distance.  Bent low, he ran back to the trees and straightened up, in quick succession replacing the telescope and nodding to his partner.  They remounted and spurred their horses on.




A few hours later


The boys arrived at a stream.  Kid jumped down from his bay and handed the reins to his partner.  Still astride, Heyes and the horses waded into the brook.  After a brief search, the fair-haired man grabbed several broken branches and swept the ground clear of their tracks, backing toward the water as he went.  Just beyond the creek’s edge, he tossed the branches aside and turned to remount.  The partners meandered downstream at a more leisurely pace, no longer looking over their shoulders.






The duo sat on rocks near water’s edge, eating jerky while the horses drank.


Heyes finished and took a long gulp from his canteen.  Wiping his mouth with a shirt sleeve, he sighed.


Kid looked at him, questioningly.


Heyes glanced at him, “I think we lost them.”


“I hope you’re right, Heyes.  I’m gettin’ too old for this.”


“You?!”  The dark-haired man feigned mock disbelief.


Curry nodded.  “Right.  ‘We’re’ gettin’ too old for this.”


“Damn straight!”  Heyes squinted at the sky.  “We have another four or five hours of daylight.  Maybe there’s a town up ahead.”


Kid whacked his hat against his leg, sending dust flying.  He coughed and waved his hand through the cloud, diffusing it.  “I hope so.  Hard ground again.  My back can’t take too much more of this.”  With that, he grunted as he exaggeratedly bent backward, straightened, and stretched his arms.


Heyes mirrored the actions, albeit with more restraint.  “I know what ya mean.  A nice, soft bed is just what the doctor would order.”


Kid smiled.  “Okay, Dr. Heyes – then what are we waitin’ for?  Haven’t got all day.”


They mounted up.




Riding at a slow gallop, they stopped at a weathered sign – “Sinking Springs, 5 miles.”  Grinning at each other for a brief second, the partners spurred the horses into a faster gallop.




The main street of Sinking Springs bustled with life.  Men and women went about their business, some in a hurry, some not.  Several children rolled a hoop in front of a dress shop, and a few boys yelled, “Bang, bang,” “shooting” with a stick as one fell, lying prone.


Into this tableau rode Kid and Heyes, the former gesturing with his head toward the boys and chuckling.  The latter smiled back.


They stopped and dismounted in front of a saloon.  Surveying the scene, Kid nodded towards the sheriff’s office across the street and a few doors down.  The partners strode nonchalantly that way, noting the plaque on the door – “John Q. Pratt, Sheriff.”


Two brows furrowed.  The pair sauntered to the general store a few doors beyond and stopped to scan the window for several seconds.


Heyes, sotto voce, “So this is where John Quincy wound up.”


Kid, equally low, “Long way from Wichita.”  Pause.  “So much for soft beds.”


“Let’s go.”


Pulling their hats a little lower and keeping their backs to the lawman’s office, they returned to their mounts, regained the saddle, and unobtrusively and unhurriedly rode out of town.




Two hours later


The partners pulled into a clearing.


Heyes surveyed the landscape.  He nodded in one direction.  “Through those trees over there – that little gully.  Good cover, and it’s off the road a piece.” 


Kid continued, “Yeah, we should still be able to see the road some, and hear anybody ridin’ up.”  Pause.  “More hard ground, though.”  He sighed.  “No time like the present…”


The horses started in the direction of the gully.


“Come on, Kid, look on the bright side – there’s more soft grass out here than hard ground.”


Curry regarded his partner.  “Ground is ground.  Don’t go confusin’ it with a soft bed.  Which, if ya remember, ya promised me.”


Heyes shrugged.  “Sorry.  Had no way of knowing we’d run into ol’ John Quincy’s town.”


Kid yawned.  “I know.”  Sigh.  “It’s just that, what’s it been – three days almost?”


“Without sleep?”




The boys reached the gully and dismounted.


Heyes stood by his horse for a moment, seemingly in thought.  “Nah, more like two days and a night.”


Kid rolled his eyes and yawned.  “Does it really matter?  It’s been a long time.”


Heyes yawned.  “Would ya stop that, Kid.  It’s catching, and we still got a lot of work to do.”


“Sorry.  It’s just that – well, this must be the longest I’ve ever been awake.”  He yawned lustily, mouth open, and stretched mightily.  “I’m exhausted.”


The dark-haired man yawned again.  “I am, too.”  He thought for a moment.  “But this isn’t the longest you’ve been awake.”


Curry’s brow furrowed.  “No?  Seems like it.”


“Maybe, but it’s not.  That was when you had that concussion up at the Hole.”


Kid frowned.  After several seconds, he said, “I forgot about that.”


Heyes chuckled.  “I’m not surprised.  You were pretty much out of it.  We had to keep you awake for twenty-four hours after already being on the run for a couple of days without sleep before that.”  He frowned.  “Hmm, never ends, does it?  Anyway, ya got pretty ornery for part of it.”


“What would ya expect?”


Heyes nodded and smirked.  “About that.”


The partners proceeded to relieve the horses of the tack.


Curry stopped.  “Ya know, I know it took place, and you mighta told me a little about it, but I don’t remember it.”


“That’s okay, Kid.  It turned out all right.  I mean, you were fine, and it was years ago.  About a year after Big Jim was caught, I think.  And Lom was still riding with us.”


Kid yawned.  “What happened?”


“Hmm…From what I remember and what the boys told me, you and me’d been away, drumming targets for the next job, when we had to hightail it from a posse – like we’re still doing!”  He rolled his eyes.  “You were right; we really ‘are’ getting too old for this!  Anyway, we didn’t have much time then to rest then either.  I think it was a full moon, so we were able to make our way day and night for a coupla days, and we were already exhausted when we finally made it back to the Hole.”


Small branches in his arms, Kid interrupted his wood gathering, and yawned yet again.  “Heyes, just hearin’ about bein’ tired is makin’ me sleepy.”


Heyes unloaded his saddle from his chestnut and heaved it over one shoulder, finally arranging it against a boulder.  He chuckled.  “Yeah, talking about it isn’t helping, is it?!  But, the sooner we get camp set up…”


“The sooner we eat, and sleep!”


“Uh huh.”


Kid walked toward the center of the clearing and dumped the wood on the ground.  “So, we made it back to the Hole…”


“And this part I’ll never forget, because I was furious with him – Harry Wagoner threw a stick of dynamite near us and scared our horses, and we were both thrown.  I landed on my ass but was okay, and you landed on your back.”  His tone turned serious.  “I got up and lit into Harry, and one of the boys interrupted me – Kyle, I think.  I said, ‘Not now, Kyle,’ and he said you were hurt.”  The partners’ eyes met.  “You weren’t moving.  I shook ya until you showed some sign of life.  Guess that hard head of yours helped.”  Heyes smiled briefly.  “Anyway, you didn’t get up right away.”


Kid grimaced.  “It hurts just hearin’ that.”


Heyes contemplated the ground.  Looking up, he sighed.  “Yeah, well, it was no picnic for me, either.  For a second there, before ya moved, I thought the worst…”


“Aw, Heyes, ya like me!”


“Wasn’t funny, Kid.  Once I saw you were moving and we helped ya onto the porch – you were pretty shaky – I really let Harry have it.”


Kid wore a thoughtful expression.  “I don’t remember that.  What was Harry doin’ with dynamite anyway?”


“He had some lame excuse that Kyle’d been teaching him how to use it, and I lit into Kyle too.  But he came to me later and said Harry’d been lying; that he went into the shed and took it to try it out.  He got startled when we were riding in and threw it by mistake – at us!”  Heyes turned red with anger, and his voice rose.  “But, damn it to hell, Kid, that was ‘stupid!’”


Curry gestured as he spoke in a lower voice, “Heyes, keep it down.”


“Sorry, Kid.  It just makes me boil to even think how stupid that was.”


Curry gathered stones and arranged them in a large circle around the branches.  “I never thought Harry was too smart.  All those schemes he thought up – they’d never work!”


“Yeah.  Not surprising he didn’t last long.”




Heyes pulled cooking gear from their saddlebags.  “Ya know, Kid, it’s a good thing we had a trial period.  Made it easier to let him go with no hard feelings, at least on our part.”


Curry laughed.  “Yeah, couldn’t say the same for ol’ Harry!”


Heyes scrunched up his face.  “Nope.  Wonder if he’s still in jail.  It’s the safest place for him.”


The fair-haired partner knit his brow.  “So what happened next?”


“Gosh, Kid, let’s see.  Well, from the way you were complaining about a headache and all, I figured ya had a concussion.  Not that I know a whole lot about doctoring.”


Curry grinned.  “Dr. Heyes!”


“Ha!  Anyways, you had all the symptoms I’d heard about – you know, dizziness, feeling like you want to throw up, ’cept ya didn’t, a little fuzzy seeing things…”  He regarded Kid.  “Well, I really hated to do it, but figured we’d better play it on the safe side and keep ya awake for twenty-four hours.”


Kid blew out a breath.  “That sounds rough.”


“Yeah, well, it was for your own good.”


Curry rolled his eyes.  “How many times have I heard that?!”


“Would you rather we let ya sleep and maybe ya don’t wake up?”


Kid paused for a moment before answering.  “Well, when ya put it that way…”


“Uh huh.”


Curry finished the rock circle around the pile of branches, and Heyes started a fire.


Kid looked up.  “So then what?  You said ya lit into Harry?”


The dark-haired man raised an eyebrow.  “Yep.  Did I ever.  Had him practically begging for forgiveness.”  He paused.  “You know, looking back on it, I almost feel sorry for him.  Right then, he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, and a couple of the boys had to peel me off him as it was.”


“You had him good, huh?”


“I guess.  The boys got him out of there before I could finish what I started.  Just as well, ’cause I had to look after you.”


Kid stood stock-still, his attention on his partner.


“After an hour or so, I was falling asleep on my feet and couldn’t look after ya all by myself.  Figured if we were really gonna keep ya awake that long, we’d all have to take turns.  So I called the men together at the leader’s cabin and asked who wanted to go first...”






“I’ll do it,” a voice piped up from the back of the assembled members of the Devil’s Hole Gang.


The leader turned towards the voice to see eager eyes hurrying towards him.


“I’ll do it, Heyes,” the outlaw with the lopsided grin repeated as he practically ran up to the dark-haired leader.


“Kyle,” Heyes nodded at the man.  “You can start, and then I want a rotation of the rest of the men.”  Heyes scanned the area until his eyes fell on the one he sought.  “Wheat, I expect you to get a schedule together so everyone takes a turn.”


Wheat rolled his eyes.


Heyes’ eyes went dark and his lips thin.  “Got a problem…Wheat?”


Stretching his neck, he responded, “No problem,” and then swallowed hard.


“Good, ’cause if you can’t handle it, I’ll get someone else.”


Wheat quickly stepped up.  “Okay boys.  Let’s get this schedule together.  Kyle’s first, who wants to be…”


Heyes watched the men gather around Wheat.  He turned to see his dazed partner sitting on the chair in front of the leader’s cabin.  “Kyle, let’s get Kid inside.”


“Sure thing,” Kyle happily complied as he hopped up on the porch and grabbed Kid by the arm.


Curry pulled his arm back.  “I can get up myself,” he insisted and began to stand, only to stumble forward.


Heyes reached out and grasped Kid by the shoulders, steadying him.  “Hey, take it easy.  You got a big bump on your head.”


“Just stood up too quick; I’m fine.”


“Sure, you are,” he tried to soothe his partner.  “We just need to take some precautions.”


“I’m fine,” Kid adamantly stated.  As he started to turn around, he grasped the railing of the porch to steady himself.


“Now ya gonna listen to me?”


Blue eyes glared at brown.


“Just for the night, Kid.  Gotta make sure that head of yours is as hard as I think it is.”


Kid’s glare intensified.


“Still easy to rile; that’s a good sign.”  Seeing a not-so-amused partner, Heyes tried to suppress the grin that was trying desperately to spread.  “Let’s get you inside.”


He reached out to grasp Curry’s arm, but a swift hand batted it away.  Shrugging, he acquiesced, letting Kid enter the cabin in front of him, while Kyle followed behind.




“Coffee’s on,” Heyes pointed towards the stove.  Turning to face Kyle, “I’ve gotta lie down before I hit the ground.”  He blinked hard.  “Keep him awake, no matter what he says.”  Brown eyes gave a knowing look towards his partner.  “We got a job coming up, and we gotta make sure Kid’s okay.”


“I’ll keep ’im awake, Heyes, I promise.”  Kyle’s lopsided grin spread across his face.


“I’ll be in my room.”  He walked into the bedroom and closed the door behind him.


“Hey, Kid,” Kyle looked at the blond man sitting at the table.  “It’s jes you and me.”  He smiled broadly.  “Let me git ya some coffee, and then we can play some poker.”




Kid sat at the table staring at the cards in his hand.


“You want any cards?”


Curry slowly looked from his cards to the man sitting across from him at the table.


“Kid?”  Kyle leaned in.


A light knock on the door had Kyle jump to his feet.  As the door slowly opened, Wheat stuck his head in.  Seeing the two men, he walked in.


“Got the schedule,” Wheat stated.  Placing a piece of paper on the table, he looked around the room.


Kyle picked up the paper and studied the list.  “You ain’t on here, Wheat.”


“Pfft, so?”


“Heyes said we’s all supposed to…”


“Heyes told me to get the schedule.”  Wheat puffed his chest as he hooked his thumbs in his belt.  “I got the schedule.”


“But ya ain’t on it.”


“I didn’t go do no dang fool thing to get my head bashed in.  I ain’t gonna waste my sleep tryin’ to keep this fool awake.”


“But Heyes…”


“Heyes ain’t no doctor.  Just ’cause he thinks, don’t make it so.”  Wheat sheepishly looked around, then whispered, “Where’s Heyes?”


Kyle motioned to the closed door, “Sleepin’.”


“See he ain’t takin’ a turn.”


“He done took a turn, Wheat.”


“Not for as long as he expects you all to do. What makes him so special?  He’s his partner.”


“’Cause he’s been on the trail a long time.”


“Pfft, if Kid was careful, he wouldn’t ’ave fallen off his horse in the first place.”


“Weren’t Kid’s fault,” Kyle stated firmly.  “It’s Harry Wagoner’s fault.”


“It’s Harry’s fault,” Wheat mocked.  “If I were leader, it wouldn’t be anyone’s fault, ’cause it wouldn’t ’ave happened.”




Both men jumped and turned towards the noise.  Kid’s hand lay flat on the table; his cards were scattered.  As Curry’s eyes slowly closed, he started to lean to his right.


“Ah!”  Kyle exclaimed.


Wheat launched himself forward, grabbing Kid by the arm, yanking him up.  Glaring at Kyle, “Great job.”


Kyle’s mouth dropped open.


“If ya ask me, you’re doin’ it all wrong.” 


“But Kid likes poker, so we was playin’ poker to keep him awake.”


“A lot of good that did.”


“It was workin’ jes fine t’ ya came in.”


Posturing, “Is that so?”


“Sure.  Kid was awake.”




“Well, ‘barely’s’ still awake.”  Kyle nodded.


Wheat rolled his eyes.  “Ya gotta get him up; walk him around to keep him awake.”


“Walk ‘im around?”


“Yeah, go on, help him up and walk him around.  That’ll keep him awake.”


Kyle walked over to the blue-eyed leader.  “Come on, Kid, we’re goin’ for a walk.”  He leaned down to try to help Curry up, but ended up almost plowing his face into the table.


Wheat blew out a breath and gave Kyle a nudge out of the way.  “This is how ya do it.”  He bent down, lifted Kid’s arm and placed it over his shoulder.  Then with the other arm wrapped around Curry’s waist, Wheat stood up, bringing the blond leader to his feet.  “Okay,” Wheat grunted, “Let’s go for a walk.”




“Open the door, Kyle.”  Wheat stepped and then swayed.  “Man you’re dead on your feet, Kid.  Let’s get you some fresh air.”


Kid slowly turned his head to Wheat and groaned, “Just let me sleep.”


“If I let ya sleep, your partner’s gonna shoot me.” 


“If you don’t, I’m gonna shoot ya.”


Wheat’s eyes got big.  “Kyle, come help Kid out.”




“Here,” Wheat dumped Kid’s arm onto Kyle’s shoulder. 


“But, Wheat…”  Kyle whined.


“See ya later,” Wheat began walking to the door.


“Whhhoooaaaa,” Kyle stumbled as Kid’s eyes once again began to close.  Trying to right himself, Kyle knocked Kid’s shoulder into the door.


Bang!  The door slammed against the wall. 


Wheat’s eyes got big as he darted back to help Kyle.  “Ya tryin’ to kill him?” he looked around, “and us!” 


“NO!” Kyle exclaimed and then quickly glanced at the bedroom door.  After a beat or two, he let out the breath he was holding as there was no noticeable movement from the leader’s room.  


“Come on,” Wheat helped Kid out onto the porch.


Kyle followed and quietly closed the door.  “Now what?”


Wheat sighed as he looked at Curry. 


Blue eyes looked back.


“Let’s go for a walk.”


“Why?”  Kid asked as he tried to take his arm off Wheat’s shoulder.


Wheat pulled it back. 


“’Cause your partner said you had to stay awake,” Wheat mocked. 


Kid blinked hard and stretched his neck.  He tried to pull his arm off Wheat’s shoulder again, but Wheat held on tight.


“Unless you want your partner on the warpath, I suggest you just go with it.  Believe me,” Wheat sighed, “I ain’t happy ’bout it either. 


“So where we goin’?” Kyle asked. 


Wheat looked around.  “I don’t know…We’ll just walk around out here.  Get some fresh air.”  He stepped off the porch with Kid next to him and Kyle on the other side.   




The three men walked in unison around the compound, following the path that their many trips around had created. 


“I’m gettin’ real tired of walkin’ in circles,” Kid complained.


“Tired!?” Kyle exclaimed, stopping dead in his tracks, pulling Kid and then Wheat to a halt.  “Wheat, Kid’s gettin’ tired.  He can’t get tired.  You said walkin’ would keep him awake.” 


“Well, I’m gettin’ tired of walkin’ too, and I ain’t got no bump on my head,” Wheat shot back. 


“What are we gonna do, Wheat?” 


“Sit down,” Kid replied.


“We can’t sit down, Kid.  You gotta stay awake.  Heyes said…” Kyle pleaded.


Kid pulled his arm away from Wheat and took a step.  “Well, I say I’m gonna sit down.”


“Where’s he goin’?”  Kyle turned to ask Wheat.


“How do I know?” 


Panic raced across Kyle’s face as he watched Kid walk away from them. 


“I’m goin’ to the barn.  I can find a nice soft place to sit down and relax,” he stated as he zigzagged towards the building.


Kyle and Wheat looked at each other and then quickly took off to catch up to him.


“Kid,” Kyle started.


“Kyle, I’m sittin’ down, and if you try to stop me, I’ll shoot ya.”  Arriving at the barn door, Kid reached out and slammed his hand into it.  “Oww!”


“Ya okay, Kid?” Kyle asked anxiously.


Curry shook his hand and tried to grab the handle again, but he saw two blurry handles.  He blinked hard, and his hand grasped at air.


“Watcha doin’?” Kyle innocently asked. 


“Tryin’ to open the door!” Kid growled as his hand flailed in the air.


“But the handle’s over here.”  Kyle reached out and opened the door. 


Kid blinked again, looked at Kyle, then proceeded into the barn.


Wide-eyed, Kyle looked at Wheat, who shrugged.  They headed in after their wobbly leader.


Wheat stretched as he glanced around the inside of the barn.  “Just exactly what I was lookin’ for,” he plopped down on a bale of hay and pushed his hat forward over his eyes.


“But, Wheat…” 


“Kyle, I’ve done my time.  You do yours.”


Forlornly, Kyle eyed Wheat and then turned his attention to the other blue-eyed outlaw. 


“’Kay, Kid, what ya want to do?”


“Sleep.”  Curry found a bale of hay and sat down on it.


“But ya can’t!”


“Sure I can.  Just watch.” 


“But Heyes…”


“Ya know I’m pretty tired of hearin’ what Heyes says since he’s in his bed sleepin’!”


“But he ain’t concussed.”


Kid pulled his hat over his eyes, “Kyle, if you don’t be quiet, I’m gonna have to shoot ya.”


“Ya wouldn’t really shoot me, would you?”


“Keep talkin’ and ya can find out.”


Dismayed, Kyle glanced between Kid and Wheat.  Despair spread across his face and then a smile slowly replaced it.  Quietly, Kyle tip-toed towards his intended target.  He reached his hand slowly out and carefully put two fingers on the butt of Kid’s gun.


As the fingers touched the pistol, Kid’s left hand clamped down on Kyle’s wrist.  “What do you think you’re doin’, Kyle?”


“Ha,” Kyle laughed nervously.  “I…I…I…was jes gonna git your gun aaannn’…clean it.”  Kyle stood up, looking proud of himself.


With two fingers, Kid pushed his hat back as he looked at Kyle.  “You want me to believe you were takin’ MY gun, so you could clean it?”


Kyle nervously nodded.


“Where were you gonna clean it?”


Kyle’s eyes looked around the barn to avoid the icy glare.


“Kyle?” Kid forcefully asked.


“Well,” Kyle grinned sheepishly. 


The glare intensified.


“Ya see...I…I jes didn’t want ya t’ shoot me and Heyes said t’ keep ya awake.”


Curry sighed.  “Kyle, I’ll make ya a deal.  You let me close my eyes for ten minutes and you can wake me up.  Okay?”


“But, Heyes said…”


“Heyes isn’t gonna shoot you and I will,” Kid smiled.


Wheat had been peering out from behind the brim of his hat, until Kyle looked his way.  Feigning sleep, a fake snore broke the silence.   


Kyle turned his attention from Wheat back to Kid.  “’Kay,” uncertainty was heard in his voice.  “Jes ten minutes…’kay?”


“Ten minutes…” Kid sighed sleepily.  


“An’ ya won’t shoot me when I wake ya?” 


“I won’t shoot ya.”


“An’ ya won’t tell Heyes?”


“I won’t tell Heyes.” 




Kid placed his hand on the butt of his pistol and glared at Kyle.


Kyle swallowed hard. 


“Ten minutes and it’s just between you and me.”


“An’ Wheat.”  Kyle shrugged towards the other outlaw.


“And Wheat,” Kid growled.




Curry pulled his hat over his eyes and crossed his arms.


Kyle looked around the barn and began to pace.   He walked over to the open door, looked out towards the leader’s cabin and then back at the resting partner.   As he looked back at Kid, Kyle walked towards Wheat.  Plopping himself down on the same hay bale, Kyle shook Wheat’s shoulder.  “Wheat.  Wheat.”


“Kyle, if Kid don’t shoot, ya, I will!”


“But Wheat, ya gotta help me,” Kyle whined.  “Kid wants to sleep, or he’ll shoot me, and if I let him sleep, Heyes is gonna shoot me.  What am I gonna do?”  


“Get shot.”


“Wheat!  Yur always sayin’ ya know what’s better an’ ya should be leader.”


“Yeah, so?” 


“Well, I was jes thinkin’, since ya know so much, ya can help me out.”  


“Kyle,” Wheat pushed his hat back and sat up.  He looked at the sad, droopy-eyed man next to him.  Then he looked at Kid propped up on a pile of hay bales.  “Go wake ’im up.”




“Well, if Kid’s been sleepin’, he has no idea how long it’s been.  So wake ’im up and tell ’im it’s been ten minutes.”


Skeptically, Kyle looked at Wheat.


“Go ’head.”  Wheat made a shooing motion with his hands.


Hesitantly, Kyle stood up.  Taking a breath, he stepped forward.  A lopsided grin spread across his face.  “Kid,” he quietly called out.  “Kid,” he repeated.  “Time to git up.”


There was no movement from the blue-eyed leader.


“Kid,” Kyle stepped closer and called out a little louder.  “Kid, time to wake up.”


“Kyle, I’m gonna shoot ya!”


Stopping dead in his tracks, “But ya said ya wouldn’t.” 


“I said ten minutes and I wouldn’t.”


Kyle turned to look at Wheat. 


Wheat nodded at him.


Kyle turned back to face Kid.  “It’s been ten minutes.”


“Maybe, ten seconds.”


“Nope,” Kyle tried to sound convincing.  “Ten minutes, jes like ya told me.”

Sleepy eyes peered out from under the brim of his hat, as Kid pushed it back a little bit.  “I need more sleep.”


“But ya promised, Kid.  Ya gotta wake up or Heyes is gonna kill me.”  Kyle turned pleading eyes towards Wheat.


Wheat shook his head. 


Kyle’s eyes pleaded more.


Wheat rolled his eyes.  Standing up, he announced, “Come on, Kid, time to get up and get movin’.”


“Wheat, this don’t concern ya.”


“Yeah, that’s right, it don’t, but ya made a promise to Kyle.  So get your sorry…”


“Wheat!” Kid growled.


“All I’m sayin’ is you’re gonna be responsible for Heyes goin’ to jail for murder if you don’t get up.”




“Yep, Heyes kills Kyle, that’s a hangin’ offense.  Ya want Heyes to get hung, that’s on you.”  Wheat puffed out his chest.  “Kyle, I think maybe ya better hit the trail before Heyes has a shot at ya.” 


Kyle’s eyes grew wide.


“Heyes ain’t gonna shoot ya.”  Kid banged his hand on the bale of hay.


As the bale shifted, the pile behind began to sway.


Kyle lunged forward, but in the act, bumped a lantern that hit a rake that knocked a bucket off its peg and right into Kid’s lap.


Kid looked at the bucket, and his eyes slowly moved up to Kyle’s, who smiled sheepishly.  Patting the bale of hay as he smiled, Kyle slowly stepped backwards, but his coat button was caught on the rope holding the bale together.  As he pulled at it, the bale burst open and hay cascaded down all over Curry.


“Oh,” Kyle gasped.  He swatted at the hay and tried to brush the hay off of Kid.


“Oww!”  An angry Curry exclaimed.


Startled, Kyle bumped Kid in the head.  “Now, Heyes is really gonna kill me!  I concussed ya again!”


“You didn’t concuss me…You didn’t give me another concussion.  You just hit the bump.”


“Sorry, Kid, I didn’t mean it, I really didn’t.  I was jes tryin’ to help.  I was jes tryin’…”


“Just go, Kyle,” Kid angrily stated and pointed out the door.


Kyle stopped trying to clean off the hay and stepped back.  He looked at the ground before turning towards the door.  “Be seein’ ya, Wheat.”  He slowly walked out of the barn.


“Nice goin’,” Wheat stated. 


“What?” Kid growled. 


“Just scared the daylights out of the only guy in the gang that would do anything for you or Heyes.  He worships you, and all you could do is yell at him and toss him out.  How long you think Kyle’ll be able to survive on his own?”


“Survive on his own?  What are you talkin’ about, Wheat?”  Kid continued brushing off the hay.


“Kyle’s leavin…Didn’t ya hear?  ‘See ya, Wheat?’”


“He left the barn.”


“Kyle don’t say ‘See ya, Wheat’ when he’s leavin’ the barn.  He’s fixin’ to leave the Hole.”




“’Cause he tried to keep ya awake and you’re too ungrateful to see he was just tryin’ to help.  Now he thinks Heyes is gonna kill him.” 


“You’re not makin’ any sense, Wheat.  And Heyes isn’t gonna kill him.”


“Easy for you to say.”  


Kid tried to stand up, and he wobbled.


Wheat grabbed his arm and steadied him.


Kid closed his eyes, “Maybe Heyes is right.  Maybe I do have a concussion.  This just isn’t makin’ any sense to me.”


Wheat snorted.  “We’re talkin’ ’bout, Kyle.  How much sense does it have to make.”  


Kid’s head drooped as he blew out a breath.  “Help me get to the bunkhouse before he leaves.”


“Did you say ‘help’…”


The blue eyes threw daggers at Wheat.


“I’ll just grab you by the arm.  Should steady you enough to get to the bunkhouse.” 




Back to the “present”



“Even with the remindin’, I still don’t remember.”  Curry lightly rubbed his head.  “I guess Kyle didn’t leave.”


“No.  Wheat got you to the bunkhouse as Kyle was saying his good-byes.  You told him you were just tired and didn’t want him to leave the Hole, just the barn.”


“Heyes,” Kid sighed, “I threatened to shoot Kyle?”


Heyes chuckled.  “Yep, several times, and Wheat, Preacher…basically the whole gang.”




“Yep, Preacher.  Wasn’t one of your best moments.”


Curry frowned.  “Suppose not, from the sound of it.”


Kneeling in front of the campfire, Heyes measured a handful of beans and dropped them into the pot.  He started to tie a string around the top of the bag, then stopped.  “You know, Kid, we all have moments we wish we could take back.  But you did the right thing, going to talk to Kyle like that.  And in front of all the men, too.”


Blue eyes met brown.  Kid sighed.  “Well, I hope I do the right thing by people – if they deserve it, anyway.  Just tell me I didn’t embarrass myself any more than that.”


Heyes’ eyes danced as an impish grin overtook his countenance.  “You didn’t know any better that day.”


“Guess not, or I’d remember more.”


Heyes nodded.  “I suppose.”


Kid’s face crinkled.  “Heyes…”




“Are you tellin’ me the whole story?”  


Heyes chuckled.  “I’m telling you what I remember, Kid.  Don’t forget, I was asleep through a lot of it, and it’s mostly what the men told me.”


The blond man stopped unpacking his saddlebags and regarded his partner.  “Yeah, you get to sleep, and I’m forced to stay awake.  Somehow, that don’t seem the natural order of things.”


Heyes sported a lopsided smile.  “Maybe not.  But I get tired too, you know.”


“Sometimes.  Except you don’t sleep for long, and then you wake me up in the middle of the night.”


“Well, I need someone to talk to, and what are partners for?”  Heyes winked.


Curry rolled his eyes.  “More like – someone to listen to ya ramble on.”


Heyes’ face screwed up.  “Kid, you’re hurting my feelings.”


“Just tell me I didn’t do anything else dumb, after that business with Kyle.”


The dark-haired man slowly nodded, considering the matter.  “Okay.” 


Curry’s brow furrowed.  “Okay – what?”


Grabbing the coffee pot, Heyes turned his back, hiding a big grin.  “Okay, you didn’t embarrass yourself any more after that business with Kyle.”


Kid stood.  “Heyes, you don’t sound convincin’.”


The ex-outlaw leader turned to face his partner, “impish” written all over him.  “Okay, Kid, you didn’t embarrass yourself as bad as with Kyle.  That was the worst of it.”


Kid’s shoulders slumped, his tone cautious.  “Well, that’s good news, I suppose.  But, what else did I do?”


Heyes rubbed his chin.  “Let’s see…When you were really cranky, toward the end, you plowed into Hank like a blind bull in a china shop.”


Kid groaned.  “No...”  


Heyes feigned seriousness as he tried vainly to hold back a grin.  “Uh, yeah.  Witnessed that one myself.”


The blond man sighed and covered his mouth with his hand.  “Then what?”


Heyes shrugged.  “Cracked rib.”






Curry frowned an “ouch.” “I think I remember Hank with a bad rib…”


“Uh huh.”


“I’m afraid to ask if there’s anything else.”


Heyes shrugged again.  “Let’s leave it at that.”


“There’s more?”


Heyes stammered, “Uhhh…nah.”






“Don’t pussyfoot around.  Just tell me.”


The ex-outlaw leader sighed.  “Um, Lobo.”




“Yeah, well, Lobo thought getting you to concentrate on something would be good, so he got you to clean your gun, then his and some of the others...”




“You shot him.”


Kid’s eyes went wide.  “But, after you just told me I was threatenin’ to shoot everybody…”


“You did.  At the very end of the twenty-four hours…you finally did.”  Heyes shrugged.   


Kid gulped, stunned.  “I don’t remember Lobo ever bein’ – shot.”


“Well, you didn’t hit ‘him,’ exactly.  Came close, though – tore his sleeve.  You’re just too good, Kid, even when you’re dead tired with a concussion.”


Curry stood, contemplating the ground. 


Heyes grasped his shoulder.  “Come on, let’s get the horses watered and fed while supper cooks.”



Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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Keeping Up Curry: Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours (Part 1)
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