Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Keeping Up Curry: Twenty-Four Forgettable Hours (Part 2) Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:52 pm|| |
Twilight The two sat, relaxed, with tin coffee mugs in hand, empty plates in front of them. Kid spoke, “Heyes?” “Um?” “I get the feeling there’s more to the story, but not sure I want to hear the rest.” Heyes shrugged. “I told you the worst of it.” Kid, skeptically, “You sure?” “Uh huh.” “Twenty-four hours is a long time. What else was there?” Heyes wrinkled his nose in concentration. “Gosh, Kid, that was a long time ago.” He thought. “Umm…oh yeah, I heard about Lom and the Preacher.” “Tell me.”
~~oo00oo~~ FlashbackMiddle of the nightInside the leader’s cabin Curry sat at the table with Lom Trevors. The blond outlaw leader nodded off and quickly jerked awake. Lom regarded him. “Kid, Heyes said we had to keep you awake. Nodding off like that, it’s not gonna help.” Kid sighed. He was exhausted. “I know, Lom. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.” “Well, just trying to do right by you and Heyes, but I don’t know what to do. Mind if we just talk?” Kid straightened up in his chair, cleared his throat, blinked. “Sure.” “Um, okay.” He paused. “How you doing?” “I’m tired, Lom.” A sigh. “How ’bout you?” The dark-eyed outlaw nodded. “Okay, maybe a mite tired, too.” A pause. “Umm, well…” “That’s good.” “Yeah, I suppose.” Curry looked toward his partner’s room. “I guess Heyes is just thinkin’ of my well bein’.” Lom glanced in the same direction. “Yeah, I suppose.” “Yup…” Kid chuckled. “Guess neither of us has Heyes’ silver tongue.” Lom smiled. “Nope, suppose not.” Kid yawned. “Sheesh. I’m not doing a good job. Sorry, Kid.” The blue-eyed man shook his head to keep alert. “Don’t be sorry. I’m just dead tired.” Lom’s brow furrowed. “I know. And being the middle of the night probably isn’t helping.” Kid shook his head. “Nope.” “Umm, we can try having a real conversation.” Curry replied, the tiredness rampant in is voice. “Okay. What’ll we talk about?” Lom blew out a breath. “Hmm, that’s a good question.” “What do ‘you’ want to talk about?” “Outlawing?” Kid chuckled. “Outlawin’? Okay, it’s a livin’. What about it?” Lom bit his lip, looked away, before facing Kid again. “Well, I’m not sure it’s for me anymore.” “Oh?” Kid’s eyes opened. “I don’t know, Kid. Maybe it’s not right – well, not right for me, anyways. Maybe the right side of the law is where I wanna be, where I belong. I wasn’t sure it was for me when I first joined up, but a couple of years in this business…well, it just changes a man’s perspective, maybe.” Kid nodded. “Maybe.” “Maybe I shouldn’t be talking to ya like this – I mean, you being one of the leaders and all.” “No, go ahead, Lom.” “You’re sure?” “Sure.” Kid stifled a yawn. “Well, I guess it’ll keep us busy for a while.” “Um hmm.” “Well, ya see, Kid, I had my wild days, like any fella does…” “Sure.” “I mean, I am a little older than some of the fellas here and all.” “Umm.” “And I had some experience on the right side of the law, just jobs here and there – nothing special.” Kid nodded. “Well, I guess I needed something bigger – ya know, more exciting.” The blond-haired man cupped his chin on his hand, elbow on the table. He blinked to keep his eyes open. “Umm.” “Then, I guess, when I met up with Heyes that one time and saw the fun you fellas seemed to be having, it kinda hit home with me – if’n you know what I mean?” “Uh huh.” Blue eyes blinked furiously, and Curry snapped back to attention after nodding off for a brief second. “And I thought, that’s an exciting life, this outlawing, and the more I saw you fellas having fun, all the wine, women, and money – I thought, I have to give that a try. So, when Heyes asked me, I had to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a try.’ And it was exciting – hell, still is. But, it doesn’t always feel right. You know what I mean, Kid?” The fair-haired outlaw nodded off and just as quickly snapped back. “Huh?” Lom seemed oblivious to his surroundings. “You know what I mean?” Kid nodded sleepily, “Uh…sure.” “I mean, we’re taking from banks and train companies, but isn’t it ordinary folks we’re really taking from?” “Umm…” “Kid?” The blond man opened his eyes. “Yeah?” “You know what I mean?” “Uh, sure, Lom. Whatever ya say.” “Sheesh, I’m not doing a real good job here.” Kid straightened up. “Nah, you’re doin’ fine, Lom.” He scratched his head. “Just tireder than I thought.” “Coffee?” “Sure.” Lom rose and walked to the stove, his back to Kid. “Ya see, I wasn’t raised that way – to steal, I mean. And I’m not saying you and Heyes were raised that way, either. It’s just that…well…it’s hard to put it into words exactly.” He poured coffee into two mugs. “It’s…I don’t know how to put it…” Just then, the door opened, and Preacher walked in. “I thought you were supposed to be keeping him awake, Lom.” The dark-haired man glanced over his shoulder to acknowledge the newcomer as he finished pouring. “Well, we’re just talking.” “Talking? Looks like you talked the boy to sleep!” “Huh?” Curry snored softly. Lom’s eyes went wide as he turned to see Kid leaning on the table, his head resting on his crossed arms, sound asleep. “Oh, geez. He was awake a minute ago. I just got up to get coffee.” Preacher shook Curry lightly on the shoulder. “Kid. Wake up.” The blond man grunted and shook him off. “Come on, Kid. Sit up, and let’s get some coffee in ya.” “Nooo.” Lom brought the mugs to the table. “Sheesh, Kid, I thought you were more awake than that.” He looked at Preacher. “I guess I got too caught up in what I was talking about.” Preacher chuckled, “S’okay, Lom. Why don’t ya go on back to the bunkhouse, and I’ll just start my turn a mite early.” Lom looked horrified as he glanced at Heyes’ bedroom door. “No, I, I really should finish my turn.” “He’ll be in good hands. You’ve had a long day, and I just rested up some. Leave him to me.” “You sure? What about Heyes?” Preacher shrugged. “Heyes won’t care so long as Kid keeps awake. Doesn’t matter who’s the one doin’ it.” Lom sighed. “Okay. Thanks.” Preacher clapped him on the back as he started for the door. “Go enjoy the sleep of the righteous. Ya done all that ya could.” Looking at Kid, then back at Lom, he chuckled, “Feel good that you can.” Eyebrows raised, Lom nodded. “Thanks. I owe you one.” “Nah. That’s what friends are for.” With one more glance at an again-snoring Kid, Lom undid the latch and closed the door softly behind him. Preacher crossed to the stove and sniffed at the coffee pot. He emptied Lom’s cup and poured some fresh coffee before opening and closing several cupboards. With a cabinet door open, he paused and removed a bottle of whiskey. “The Good Book warns that strong drink is ragin’,” he muttered while adding it to his coffee. “Maybe that ragin’ can keep me awake.” He smiled. “Who am I to argue with the Word of the Lord?” He started to pour whiskey into the mug in front of the snoozing Kid, but stopped before any escaped the bottle. “Might’n be wise to give this to the afflicted.” He screwed the cap back on the bottle and set it on the table. “Kid. Kid, wake up. You’ve had more’n enough sleep already. If ya got a concussion, boy, we need to keep ya awake.” No response. A frustrated frown and a slurp of caffeinated whiskey was punctuated by a snore from a drooping, blond head. He gently shook Curry’s shoulder. “Kid – ” Further words were stopped by a Colt revolver pointed directly at Preacher’s face. He froze. “Kid, settle down. It’s just me. Preacher. Ya drifted off ta sleep.” The blond man blinked myopically and tilted his head as he peered at the black-clad outlaw. He lowered his weapon. “Where’s Lom?” “Was my turn next, so I sent him off ta bed. He wasn’t havin’ good luck keepin’ ya awake.” Kid’s eyes drifted closed and then popped back open. Preacher frowned and placed a hand under his elbow. “Come on. Let’s go outside. The night air just might help ya.” He tugged the reluctant Curry to his feet and helped him shuffle woozily out the cabin door. Kid straightened and blinked as a cool breeze lifted his curls and ruffled the rough curtains in the cabin. Stars sparkled in the crisp night sky. “Ya want to walk around some?” Kid grunted something unintelligible. “Was that a yes or a no, or somethin’ a mite less polite?” An icy glare was the only response. Preacher chuckled. “Like I thought. Yer takin’ the name of the Lord in vain again. Gotta watch those commandments, Kid. Ya just broke number three.” He paused. “Tell ya what. Take a seat here on the porch, and I'll get your coffee. Then I'll tell ya a few stories.” “Sure, Preacher,” Kid agreed with a small smile. “I doubt that stories can keep me awake, though.” “The Word of the Lord works miracles.” Preacher ducked back into the cabin and emerged with two coffees and the bottle of whiskey. He placed a steaming mug next to Kid and poured more whiskey into his own. “I'll take a little of that,” said Curry, presenting his cup. “Cain’t do it. Scripture says that it’s the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps. I cain’t inflict that on ya when you're hurt.” Kid snorted and sipped the un-doctored coffee. “So what kinda story did ya have in mind?” “Ya remember David?” “Who?” “From the Bible.” “The boy who killed the giant?” “Same fella, but not exactly the story I had in mind. That blessed boy grew up and became king of Israel. The Good Book calls him a ‘man after God’s own heart.’ But that didn’t stop him from breakin’ the Lord’s commandments...” Kid’s eyes drifted shut to the sound of Preacher’s rhythmic voice. Just as his chin nodded toward his chest, the words became louder. “...So since David’s palace was the tallest building in Jerusalem, he could see the ladies bathin’ in their fenced gardens when he walked on the roof after dark. One night, he caught sight of a rare beauty, just as she stepped out of her bath, streamin’ water and naked as the day she was born.” Kid jerked upright and his eyes flew wide. “He was a peepin’ Tom!?” Preacher chuckled. “I suppose that’d be a direct way of sayin’ it.” “That ain’t right!” “A whole lotta things ain’t right. But David’s transgressions against the Word o’ God were only beginnin’. He had his servants find the lady. Turns out she was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his officers who was away at war. He sent for her one night, and then – well one thing led to another, and before long, David was tryin’ to figure how to blame Bathsheba bein’ in the family way on her husband.” “Whatcha talkin’ about?” The new voice came from the shadows. “Is some girl at Rosie’s wearin’ the bustle wrong?” “Ain’t it kinda late, Lobo?” asked Kid, as the outlaw walked up to the porch. “I’m just comin’ offa guard duty, Kid. Preacher keepin’ ya awake?” “Yeah. He’s tellin’ dirty stories.” Preacher struggled to look stern. “Now, Kid, that ain’t the way to speak about the Word of the Lord.” Lobo sat down on the porch steps. “So yer tellin’ some Bible story about a lady in the puddin’ club? I gotta hear this.” Kid scooted forward and leaned his elbows on his knees. “What happened next, Preacher?” “Well, like I was sayin’, King David tried to find some way to blame the comin’ child on Bathsheba’s husband, but none of his schemes worked, on account of the husband’s honor and faithfulness to his duty. Finally, David decided he wasn’t givin’ up the lady or her baby, so he ordered his officers to have the husband killed on the battlefield.” “What?! I thought you said he was called the ‘the man followin’ the heart-a-God,’ or somethin’? That ain’t no Godly behavior,” protested Kid. “True. But David did repent and promised to do better, so God forgave him.” Curry snorted. “Right. I’m sure if I turned myself in to the law and told ’em I was sorry and would stop robbin’ folks that they would forgive me, too. Can’t see it happenin’.” “Cain’t say that I could either,” added Preacher. “But lucky for David, the Lord is more forgivin’ than Wyoming law.” Kid settled back in his chair and propped his feet up on the railing. He plopped his hat on his head and tilted it over his eyes, leaning back. “Hey, ya got any more of them stories?” asked Lobo. “Well, I just might be able to tell one or two more.” A single finger pushed back a brown hat, and blue eyes peered intently as Curry’s feet dropped from the railing. Preacher watched Kid and smiled. He poured some more whiskey, and took a long sip before beginning. “Have ya heard about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife? Joseph was beaten by his jealous brothers and ended up in Egypt.” “Beat by his kin?” objected Lobo. “Why that don’t hardly seem right.” The others sagely nodded. “While down in Egypt land, Joseph worked for an important man named Potiphar. It didn’t take this Potiphar fella long to figure that Joseph was smart and loyal, so he put him in charge of his whole spread. Things were goin’ great for Joseph, until Potiphar’s wife took adulterous notice of ’im. That wife was a Jezebel.” “What’s a Jazzy-bell?” asked a puzzled Lobo. “That’s a lady who’s got a lot in common with the doves at Rosie’s or the saloon gals,” Kid answered. Preacher smiled. “Like I was sayin’, she kept trying to get Joseph alone and askin’ him to break the seventh commandment – well –ya get the idea. But Joseph wasn’t havin’ any of it.” A pause. “So what happened?” Lobo prodded. Preacher eyed Curry. “Do ya need to walk around awhile, Kid? Ya havin’ trouble stayin’ awake?” Blue eyes narrowed. “Just tell us what happened.” Preacher smiled. “Well, Potiphar’s wife kept cornerin’ Joseph, tryin’ to get to know him in the Biblical sense. But Joseph kept tellin’ her ‘No thank ya, ma’am. Your husband trusts me, and I ain’t doin’ anythin’ to abuse that.’ Accordin’ to the Good Book, one day she’d had enough of waitin’ and grabbed his clothes and pulled him right up against her. ‘Come lie with me,’ she said. Joseph broke away and ran outta that house. But the lady had a tight hold on his cloak, and it stayed with her. She was angry as a nest of hornets at bein’ refused, so she started screamin’ and accused Joseph of tryin’ to force himself on her. Poor Joseph ended up in prison for somethin’ he didn’t even get. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. All things worked out for the good of Joseph in the end. He met some fella in prison who got him a job advisin’ the King of Egypt.” Lobo shook his head. “Makes a man wonder what’s the use in doin’ the right thing.” Kid held up a hand and leaned forward, peering into the shadows. “Who’s out there?” “Uh – it’s jes me, Kid. Didn’t want to bother ya, so I was listenin’ over here. Sorry about hittin’ ya in the head with the hay.” Kyle stepped into the circle of light near the porch. “Come listen to Preacher’s stories, Kyle,” encouraged Lobo. “They're real – uh – ’lightenin’.” “Ya keepin’ Kid awake, Preacher?” “Yup, with the help of the Word of the Lord.” “Me and Wheat already done our turn.” Kyle smiled proudly. Kid lightly rubbed the bump on his head and then his shoulder. “Come on up on the porch, Kyle.” “Ya gonna shoot me?” “He pulled a gun on you too?” asked Preacher. Kyle laughed. “Ah-ha, it don’t matter, he’s concussed. ’Sides, he didn’t draw, jes said he would.” He grinned, hitched up his pants, and spat, before joining the others. “So what stories ya got?” Preacher looked at the congregation of grimy and expectant faces, and took another slug of whiskey. “Have ya ever heard about Tamar and Judah?” No one answered. “Well, back then it was real important that a woman have children. It was her husband’s responsibility to make sure she had young ’uns.” “Hoo ee,” whistled Kyle. “Wouldn’t mind havin’ me a responsibility like that.” “Ya had to provide for them once they arrived, Kyle,” warned Kid “But still,” added Lobo. Preacher shook his head. “Anyway, Tamar married Judah’s eldest son, a man named Er. But Er died before gettin’ Tamar in the family way. Accordin’ to custom, Tamar was supposed to marry Judah’s next son, so that she could have children…” “What kinda custom is that?” asked Kyle. “Gotta marry your brother’s wife?” “An old Bible-times custom,” groused Kid. “Stop interruptin’.” “So Tamar married the second eldest son, but he died too. So Judah figured that Tamar was bad luck, and sent her away. He promised to bring her back later to marry his third son, but he didn’t do it. Well, Tamar decided not to wait around until she was dried up and too old to have a baby. She came up with a plan.” Preacher paused and studied Curry, who glared back at him from bloodshot eyes. “I ain’t sleepin’. So what’s Tamar’s plan?” “She dressed up in clothes that would’ve done a fancy woman proud. Then she covered herself with a veil and waited for Judah. She had heard that he was comin’ back from a long journey, and when he passed by, she asked if he might enjoy a little company. Judah perked right up – if ya know what I mean – and spent some time with the lady, never realizin’ that it was his own daughter-in-law.” “HIS DAUGHTER-IN-LAW!!” howled Wheat in disbelief. “What in tarnation are ya talkin’ about?” “Just tellin’ stories to pass the time while keepin’ Kid awake,” answered Preacher. “That ain’t gonna work. Ya can’t keep him awake by tellin’ stories. Ya need to walk him around and keep him doin’ things.” “I don’t know, Wheat,” soothed Lobo. “It seems to be workin’.” “Kid’s awake, Wheat. Ain’t ya, Kid?” chimed in Kyle. “Pfft!” commented Wheat. “I suppose ya could hit him in the head, like Kyle did. That surely lit a fire and perked Kid right up.” Kyle’s shoulders drooped. “Aw, Wheat, ya promised not to say nothin’. It were an accident. Kid ain’t mad no more. Said I could listen to the stories.” “Let it go, Wheat,” Curry ordered. To Preacher, “Finish the story. I want to know what happened to Tamar.” After a fortifying slug of coffee, Preacher cleared his throat. “Like I was sayin’, Tamar and Judah were gettin’ ta know one another. But afterwards, it was time for Judah to pay up. That’s when he realized he was short on funds.” “Ain’t that always the way of it,” concluded Lobo. “Now, Judah was from a rich family, and he had a ring called a seal. It was used for important documents. Tamar told him to leave his seal, along with the chain it was on, and she’d hold onto it, until he could send someone with her money.” Wheat snorted. “This Judah fella ain’t none too bright, is he? Now she can blackmail him.” Preacher shrugged. “All true. But he doesn’t know it’s his daughter-in-law, and what’s a fella without funds to do?” “Do what the Devil’s Hole Gang does,” suggested Wheat, and they all laughed. The closing slap of a wooden door echoed through the night. A tall man left the bunkhouse and walked to the leader’s cabin, still shoving the tails of his shirt into his pants. “Why ya awake, Hank?” demanded Wheat. “All yer laughin’ and talkin’ kept wakin’ me up. Thought I’d see what the party was about.” Preacher handed the newcomer the whiskey bottle. After taking a healthy swig, Hank passed it on to Lobo. The bottle made the rounds. “So what are ya all doin’?” asked Hank. Kyle spat and smiled. “Preacher’s keepin’ Kid awake, and we’re helpin’.” “Ptch,” added Wheat. “Still think it’s better to keep him walkin’ around.” Curry narrowed his bloodshot eyes, pinning Wheat with an icy glare. “Ya takin’ over and lettin’ the rest of the boys get some sleep?” Wheat hitched up his pants and rolled his shoulders. “Didn’t mean no offense to the Preacher, Kid.” After a few seconds, Kid lowered his gaze and sat back in his chair. He regarded Preacher. “What happened to Tamar and Judah?” “Word got around in Bible days just like it does now. It weren’t more’n three months later that Judah heard that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, had been sellin’ her wares and was now in a delicate condition. Judah ranted about her committin’ adultery and bein’ faithless to his sons, but secretly he was happy. Now he could keep her from marryin’ his last son. He ordered that she be brought on over to him. He was plannin’ to have her burned to death, that bein’ the penalty for what she’d done.” Hank’s mouth was hanging and his eyes were open wide. “Burned to death!! What kinda heathen savages are ya tellin’ stories about, Preacher?” Lobo waved a hand at Hank and placed two fingers in front of his lips. “Shh, Hank. Ya cain’t be dis-re-spect-a-bull. Preacher’s tellin’ us Bible stories.” “Well, I never.” “Finish it, Preacher,” Kyle encouraged. “Tamar had planned well. And bein’ burned to death, weren’t part of her plan. Before they brought her out to die, she sent a message to her father-in-law. In the message she placed the chain that Judah had given her, but she kept the seal. The note she sent him read, ‘By the man who owns this, am I with child. Discern, I pray thee, whose this is.’” “What in blazes is she goin’ on about?” spluttered Wheat. “That ole Judah’s landed in a heap a’ trouble.” “Lobo’s right,” Preacher continued. “So Judah went to see Tamar, on the sly, and promised that she would be cared for and have a home, in exchange for his seal and her silence. He kept his word this time, and Tamar gave birth to fine twin boys.” Hank shook his head. “Are ya sure that story is from the Bible? My ma never read me anything like that.” “Genesis, chapter 38.” Preacher took the whiskey bottle from Lobo. “It’s not really a surprise that your Ma didn’t read it to ya, Hank. Not many folks are familiar with it.” Devil’s Hole was quiet, and the first faint stains of dawn glowed on the tips of the peaks surrounding the small valley. The outlaws shuffled and squirmed, looking for a more comfortable perch on the chilly porch. Kid’s eyes slowly began to close. “Kid’s driftin’ off! Tell another one, Preacher! “Well, let me think.” Preacher took a last slug of whiskey and set the empty bottle beside him. “How about the story of how Lot’s daughters got their father blind drunk, so that they could spend the night with him and get themselves in the family way?” The front door of the cabin opened. A barefoot Hannibal Heyes, wearing a Henley top and a pair of tan pants, walked onto the porch and yawned. “What are you all doing? It’s hardly sunrise.” Kyle showed a wad of chaw as he grinned. “Preacher’s leadin’ us in a Bible study.”
~~oo00oo~~ Campsite – “Present”Night Heyes and Kid lay in their bedrolls. Constellations bright in the dark night, both partners stared at the sky, then yawned. Kid spoke. “Gee, Heyes, nobody told us Bible stories like that when we were kids.” “Nope, sure didn’t. Glad I woke up in time to hear a few of them. Preacher sure does have a way with the Good Book.” Heyes yawned and turned on his side. The fair-haired man smiled. “Ya know, that whole story’s somethin’. Just wish I could remember it myself. Thanks for telling me.” Using his jacket for a pillow, the dark-haired man burrowed his face deep into it, muffling his voice. “Sure, Kid. It brings back memories. I was real worried about ya and just glad you were okay.” Yawn. “Don’t ever wanna have to worry like that again.” He paused. “Lots of changes to the gang after that.” “Yup. We threw Harry out, and then Lom left.” “Uh huh.” Heyes yawned. Kid also yawned, mightily, then continued. “Seems the only ones around most of the time were Wheat, Kyle, Lobo, and Hank; Preacher comin’ and goin’.” “Hmm.” Another yawn. “’Night, Kid.” “’Night, Heyes…” Yawning and shaking his head, he continued, “Can’t wait to get to sleep.” Another yawn. “Two days and a night, barely stoppin’, ’til now. And you’ve been right there, too.” Yawn. “The whole way...right, Heyes?” No answer. “Heyes?” Snore… The end.
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp