Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: An Alcoholic New Year Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:39 am|| |
New Year’s Eve“I can’t believe you’re gonna spend New Years at a church social,” the Kid grumbled.
Heyes looked at him in the mirror. He was shaving over the sink, his face covered in foam.
“I ain’t. I told you Kid. I’m coming to the saloon with you and then later I’m walking Mary home.”He prepared to stroke his jawline.
“Yeah. From the church social. So you’s going to the church social.”
Heyes finished his stroke and scowled. He didn’t know why the Kid was grumpy today just that he was. He just wished that whatever it was, the Kid would get over it quickly. He was hoping for a good time tonight and didn’t want to carry around a sourpuss all evening.
“Ain’t you getting ready?” Heyes rinsed his cutthroat in the sink and eyed the Kid in the mirror.
“Awh, might not go. Might jus’ get an early night.”
“Yeah,” Heyes sighed doubtfully and raised the cutthroat. “What’s eating ya Kid?” He knew he would regret this but asked all the same. He stroke his face again as he waited on the answer.
The Kid plucked at the cushion beside him idly. Since when did they have cushions? He glanced at the other easy chair where there were two more. He looked the question at Heyes.
“What?” was Heyes’ reply.
The Kid shook his head in despair. Mary he supposed. Or Heyes getting all domestic. Again. He was really starting to worry about his partner. Curtains up at the window, rug on the floor, table cloth. This was supposed to be a temporary home. For six months tops. Just until word of the amnesty had got round. Well they’d been here six months and Heyes was showing no sign that he wanted to move on. In fact, just the opposite was happening.
“Would have been nice to celebrate New Years wiv a gal that’s all,” the Kid said, petulantly.
“I’m sure you’ll get a gal in the saloon,” Heyes murmured, stroking under his chin.
“T’aint the same Heyes.”
Heyes sniffed and rinsed his razor. He shrugged. “Well what d’you expect me to do ‘bout it?”
The Kid looked thoughtful for a moment. “Has Mary got a friend?” he burst out.
Heyes turned and looked at him. “I expect so.”
“Will you ask her?”
“Hmmm, we’ve tried that remember? Didn’t work out too well did it?” Heyes said, pulling his cheek to one side so he could stroke.
“Mary must have more than one friend?”
“She’s got lots of friends.” Heyes rinsed his razor. “Jus’ not ones she wants to set up with you.” Heyes pulled the other cheek and smiled at the same time.
“Why? What’s wrong wiv me?” The Kid was indignant. He sat forward on his chair.
“Oh oh nothing! It’s jus’ that Mary is … special.” Heyes swallowed. “I don’t want nothing to upset what we’ve got going that’s all.”
The Kid sat back with a growl. “Tell me summat new Heyes. Mary’s been special since the first day you laid eyes on her.”
Heyes grinned. “Yeah,” he agreed happily.
The Kid sat and watched Heyes shave for a few minutes. “Is she the one, Heyes?” he asked quietly.
Heyes looked down as he rinsed his razor for the last time. He picked up a towel and wiped the remaining foam off his face. Then peered into the mirror, running his hand over his face in case he had missed a bit. Finally he turned.
“I’m not sure yet but I think so yeah.”
The Kid grinned. “I think so too. In fact I knows so.”
Heyes looked embarrassed and turned back to put his shaving things away. “It’s still early days yet. There’s still a bit more I need to know.”
“Oh yeah?” the Kid grinned.
Heyes looked round a serious expression on his face. He shook his head. “No Kid not that. Jus’ a few more things I wanna know her views on … before I’ll know for sure if she’s the one.” He took a deep breath. “Now are you gonna get ready? Or am I gonna be spending New Years with a caveman!”
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________“Happy New Year, Thaddeus!” Heyes gave his partner a bear hug, briefly.
“Happy New Year, Joshua!” the Kid returned the bear hug, slapping Heyes on the back.
They shook hands enthusiastically, and then offered similar goodwill to those around them.
Ten minutes of back-slapping and hand shaking and saloon girl kissing and Heyes was ready to make a move.
“I’ll see ya later, Kid,” he yelled into the Kid’s ear to be heard over the music that was now deafening.
“Okay. Wish Mary a happy new year from me.”
Heyes turned, settled his black hat on his head and pushed through the bat-wing doors. The cold Wyoming air hit him like a steam train and he staggered against the post.
“Jeez! That’s a shock!”
He stood there for a moment blinking and puffing before pushing away to make his way over to the community hall where the church social was. His unsteady way that is. He had drunk that night but conscious that he was seeing Mary later he had restrained his drinking. Or, so he thought. The cold air was effecting him worse than he expected. Either way his progress down the street was more of a tacking formation than a straight line.
As he got to the door of the hall, he snatched his hat off, straightened his tie, braced himself and walked in. He had expected the social to be winding down by now. After all, it had gone midnight. Didn’t church folks like to go to bed early? Not tonight obviously. The dancing was still in full flow. He stood a little self-consciously inside the door looking for Mary.
It wasn’t long before she came over to him, all red faced and energetic.
“You’re here!” She kissed him quickly on the cheek, frowned slightly at the smell of alcohol from him and grabbed his hand. “Come and dance!”
Heyes looked at her in horror. “Oh no no no!” He shook his head furiously, pulling her to a stop.
“What’s wrong? You’re not seriously telling me you don’t dance?”
The look on his face told her yes he was serious.
“What kind of man are you that he doesn’t dance?” she demanded.
Heyes’ legs decided that it was about time to give up. He collapsed onto a convenient chair.
“Er the kinda man who has two broken legs?” he smiled, weakly. Suddenly he didn’t feel too good.
Mary smiled knowingly and gripped his forearms so he would look at her.
“Oh dear. You’re not very sober are you?”
“I was fine, Mary. ‘Till I left the saloon.”
“Oh yes,” she laughed.
“No honestly I was! Then the cold air hit me! It hurt my head, Mary. Right through my hat and all.”
She touched his cheek and looked at him fondly. “I think you’d better sober up before you walk me home. I’ll get you some coffee.”
“Yeah. ‘Xpect you’re right.”
Mary left him and Heyes blinked round the room. He gave Mrs Robinson who was sitting near him a smile and a wave. “Happy New Years Mrs Robinson.”
That matron shuffled her ample bosom and sniffed in distaste, before turned away._____________________________________________________________________________An hour later and Heyes was sober enough to attempt to walk Mary home. They left the social with others and walked slowly in the direction of Mary’s house.
“Thank you for walking me home,” she said, smiling at him. She held his arm tightly.
“My pleasure,” Heyes smiled back. “Happy New Year Mary Fletcher.”
“Happy New Year to you as well, Joshua Smith.”
They left main street behind and turned into the back alley that led to the parallel street where Mary lived. Mary didn’t protest as Heyes took her in his arms and kissed her.
“I think this is probably the best New Years I’ve had in a long while,” Heyes murmured, his hands at her waist, keeping her close.
He kissed her again, lingering over it, and then kept his forehead pressed against hers. “Mary …?”
Heyes smiled. No that would spoil things. Even though he was more sober than he was that wasn’t how he wanted this to happen. He would wait. Hard as it was right now to tear himself away. He kissed her again, briefly then tucked her hand round his arm again. They continued on their way. Mary patted his arm. She could guess what had gone through his mind and she was pleased he hadn’t acted on it.
“It’s a lovely night,” she sighed, looking up and resting her head on his shoulder.
“Yep,” he agreed. “Cold though.” In emphasis, he slipped his arm around her shoulders, drawing her close.
“I feel quite warm.”
“That’s all the alcohol you’ve had,” he laughed, expecting her slap. He fended her off easily.
They stopped and looked round. Two men, Art and Craig were hurrying towards them.
“Joshua! Thaddeus has passed out. Will ya come?”
“Yes of course. He passed out?” The Kid could usually hold his drink better than Heyes could.
“Josh, bring him here,” Mary said. Her house was just across the street.
Heyes looked helplessly at her for a moment that spoke volumes. The Kid was his friend and he had to help, Mary was his girl and he didn’t want to put her out.
Mary read all of that and she touched his arm. “It’s okay Josh. Bring him here. I’ll get the spare bed ready for him.” She nodded and turned away, finding her key.
Heyes watched her for a moment and then turned back to the waiting men. “Let’s go get him then.”_____________________________________________________________________________Later ....“Kid, are you sure you know what you’re doing? That’s the fastest duck in the West.”
Heyes looked concerned.
“The fastest …” The Kid looked at him sharply, convinced he had heard wrong. “What?”
“Duck.” Heyes nodded his head at the Kid’s opponent.
A moment ago, the Kid had been squaring up to a man. In his place was now a large white duck sporting double guns. Its wings flapped over the hilts of the ornately decorated Colts.
“Make your play, Curry,” the duck, quacked. “If you think you’re fast enough!”
As the Kid watched open-mouthed, the duck’s wing tips grasped the guns with lightning speed. The Kid barely had time to react, only manging to lift his gun clear of its holster before two bullets slammed into his body.
In slow motion, the Kid crumpled to the ground. He dimly heard Heyes cry out. He lay staring at the blue sky in disbelief; Heyes’ anxious face leaned in and then … nothing.__________________As Heyes came into the room, the Kid started awake. He frowned. This wasn’t his room. At least not the one he thought he went to bed in last night. This was his room in the leader’s cabin at Devil’s Hole. He hadn’t been there in over two years.
“Brought you some coffee Kid,” Heyes said, setting the coffee down on the nightstand.
“What’s going on?” the Kid demanded, sitting up.
“Coffee. I brought you coffee.”
The Kid was looking around wildly.
“No this ain’t right!”
Heyes shrugged. “You haven’t even tasted it yet,” he said, disgruntled at the insult to his coffee making.
Now the Kid looked at him and then peered at him wide-eyed.
“Heyes!” He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “Your … your face.”
Heyes touched his face. “What’s wrong with my face?”
“It’s bright green!” It was true; Heyes’ face was pea-coloured all over.
Heyes grinned. “Oh its camouflage,” he explained.
“’Flage. Our boys in blue are testing it. It’s a disguise.”
“Disguise for what?” The Kid was almost shrieking.
“I haven’t finished yet. There’s more colours to paint on.” Heyes backed away. “When you get up you won’t be able to see me. I’ll be blending right in.” He smiled pleasantly.
“Blending into what?”
Heyes had gone. The Kid flopped back onto his bed, groaning loudly.
__________________________________________________The Kid woke to a siren blearing. He blinked. The ceiling didn’t look familiar.
“Come on Kid, its fried use-ups for breakfast. Your favourite!” Heyes said.
The Kid raised his head and stared at Heyes, who was on his feet. He appeared to be wearing some kind of uniform. A prison uniform complete with cap. The Kid looked round quickly. They were in a cell.
“Heyes what’s going on? Where are we?” The Kid bolted up.
“Same place we’ve been for the last four years Kid. Wyoming Territorial Prison.”
“Now come on. Grab your ball and let’s get breakfast.” Heyes was wide-eyed and eager to get going.
In his hands, Heyes held a black metal ball the size of a basketball. It was on a chain attached to his ankle. As the Kid looked, he had one too, resting on the end of his bed.
The Kid gasped. He flopped his head back, shock sending him back to unconsciousness._____________________________________The alarm clock under the Kid’s pillow went off. He groaned softly and put his hand underneath the pillow to silence the alarm. He glanced over at Heyes, who was on his back, snoring gently.The Kid got up as quietly as he could so he didn’t disturb him, collecting up his clothes and tiptoeing into the main room.
The Kid dressed quickly and headed out. He was pulling the early shift in the livery this morning. He didn’t mind. It was nice walking into an empty town in the morning. Especially if there was still a nip in the air. This morning there was even a light mist, making the town seem extra quiet.
As he neared the livery, he heard singing. At first he thought it was coming from the chapel next door but as he got nearer he realised it was coming from the livery stable.
He heard a tapping and then “Okay everybody, make this the last run through. The man will be here soon.”
Curious the Kid tried the passenger door. He didn’t expect it to be open and it wasn’t. Frowning he unlocked the padlock and crept in. And stood open-mouthed in the shadows.
He just couldn’t be seeing what he was seeing!
All the horses were standing in the middle of the stable. Song sheets were open on music stands in front of them and they were singing. The older geldings at the back were the baritones, the younger geldings in the middle were the tenors, the mares were the harmony and one young filly was a pleasing soprano. Their conductor was a donkey.
“No! No! No!” cried the donkey, tapping his baton furiously on his podium. “Once more from the top!” He sighed, with exasperation. “We’ll never get this right in time for the show!”
The horses grumbled nickering under their breath and the younger horses shook their manes. A few stamped their feet and donkey conductor had to tap his baton again.
“Okay just the chorus then! On three …”
The Kid turned and walked out, holding his head in his hands.
____________________________________________________“Are you getting up, sleepy head?”
The Kid opened his eyes to find Heyes leaning over him, with a look of concern. He looked round startled and was relieved to see he has in his bunk in the little house he shared with Heyes.
Heyes smiled pleasantly when he realised the Kid was awake and stood hands on hips.
“’Bout time you got up Kid. I’ve made you coffee. It’s by the side of your chair.”
The Kid nodded, automatically. Heyes left him to get up. A few minutes later, the Kid stumbled into the main room.
Heyes was perched on the edge of one of the easy chairs, shelling peas into a pan. At the same time, he was reading the newspaper spread over the floor. The Kid collapsed into the chair he called his and sipped the coffee Heyes had made.
“Heyes, I’ve had THE worst dream!”
“Yeah?” Heyes murmured eyes on the newspaper. “Beat you to the draw did I?”
“No not you.” He paused wondering whether he should go on. “A duck.”
Heyes looked up slowly. “A duck?”
The Kid looked a little sick and nodded.
“Then I woke up in my bed in the Hole and your face was the colour of them peas!”
Heyes raised an eyebrow. “Yeah,” he breathed.
“And then I dreamt I had woken up in prison and you were trying to get me to go eat fried use-ups!”
Heyes rolled his eyes.
“And then I walked into the livery and the horses were singing!” He paused. “Opera!”
Heyes just stared at him. “Kid, you’ve got seriously weird since we’ve gone straight. D’you know that?”
“I know,” the Kid agreed, shocked that he couldn’t do otherwise than agree. He put his hand over his eyes and shook his head. “I’m telling you Heyes. Dunno how much I had to drink last night but never let me have alcohol again.”
“Alcohol? You didn’t drink any alcohol last night,” Heyes frowned.
The Kid looked at him in horror.
“New Year’s Eve and I didn’t drink?”
Heyes shook his head. “Nope. You said you were taking a stand and you were never gonna drink alcohol again.”
The Kid looked at him open mouthed.
“I … said that?” He prodded his chest.
Heyes nodded. “Yep.” He peered at something interesting in the paper.
“Naw! That can’t be right.” The Kid shook his head dismissively.
“Well,” Heyes sighed, getting up. “That’s what you said afore we went out last night.” He grinned at the Kid broadly. “But I had a good time!” Taking the pan of shelled peas, he walked over to the kitchen area. The Kid grimaced at his back.
“Say what’s that smell?”
“Chicken,” Heyes called. “I’m cooking lunch and that reminds me …”
Heyes picked up a cloth and bent down to open the range door. As he did so, an angry voice said“Shut that door! I ain’t done yet!”
“Ooh, sorry!” Heyes hastily shut the door, rolling his eyes.
The Kid stared in disbelief and scratched his head. “Heyes? Did …?”
Heyes turned and walked back. He stretched his neck waiting for the Kid to say more. The Kid looked up at him about to say something, saw the look on Heyes’ face and thought better of it.
“Don’t matter,” he murmured instead.
Heyes shrugged. “Say how’s the coffee?” he smiled, touching the Kid’s arm. He turned away to pick up the newspaper.
The Kid was still pondering what he’d heard. “Good,” he said, absently. Then realised what he’d said and he looked up in horror. Heyes’ coffee was never good!
______________________________________________________________The Kid found himself pushing an upright piano. He didn’t know why he was but it seemed important that he did. He stopped for a moment to wave his hat in front of his face. He was in a desert and it was hot. In fact, it was real hot and he was real sweaty. A cool beer would go down a treat right now. Glancing up at the sun he figured it was just about midday. He wasn’t gonna get that cool beer for lunch if he didn’t get this piano moving faster.
With a weary sigh, he put his hat back on and dropped his shoulder down to continue pushing the piano.
“Say you know what would make this go a lot easier?” a voice said suddenly.
The Kid stopped and peered round the side of the piano. On a stool attached to the piano sat a small white dog. The Kid stared and the dog seemed to smile.
“We need a work song,” the dog said, eagerly. “D’you know any?” The dog looked at the Kid expectantly. The dog sounded like Heyes.
The Kid continue to stare. “You … spoke?” He wasn’t at all sure.
“Well of course! I’m your partner.”
The dog looked disgruntled. “Well … I prefer Mr Heyes but if you insist …”
“Heyes?” The Kid had straightened up now and was peering at the dog hard. “Dogs don’t speak!” He shook his head, furiously.
“Ah! That’s what we want you to believe. We can, we just choose not to. We’re enigmatic.” The dog seem to smile again, knowingly. Then the dog swivelled the stool so it was facing the piano, and it rested its front paws on the keys. “Now about this song …. You hum it son, I’ll play it!” He played a few notes in emphasis.
The Kid pulled his hat down over his eyes with a groan.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________---_ “How is he?” Mary asked, putting a hand on Heyes’ shoulder. Heyes was sitting on the side of the bed.
“Not good,” Heyes murmured, wringing out the wet cloth. He soaked it in cool water and reapplied it to the Kid’s forehead. Heyes looked concerned and then smiled weakly at Mary. “I’ve seen him drink a lot but he’s never been like this before.” He frowned. “I’m sorry Mary.”
Fallen insensible last night, New Year’s Eve, several of the townsfolk had carried the Kid to Mary’s house. It was nearer than the house he shared with Heyes. The Kid was now lying on her spare bed.
Heyes had dozed in the chair for the rest of the night, alert to every sound the Kid made. And he had made plenty! Heyes hadn’t made out a lot of it but the Kid had been in considerable distress at times. Heyes had got up to him and tried to calm him, talking gently. Whether that had helped or not Heyes was undecided. He just knew that his partner was in a bad way and he needed to do what he could.
Mary shook her head. “Don’t be silly. What was he drinking to get him in this state?”
Heyes shook his head. “He was fine when I left him. Mellow I think you could call it.” He smiled at the memory and looked back at the Kid. “Whatever it was didn’t agree with him.”
“He’s sweating. That’s a good thing. All the nasties coming out.” She sighed and sat down in the chair Heyes had dozed in. “You men!”
Heyes looked at her sharply. “We ain’t all the same, y’know Mary.” He felt honour bound to defend his sex.
Mary prodded his knee playfully and smiled. “I know. How do you feel? You weren’t exactly sober.”
Heyes cleared his throat and looked back at the Kid. “Could of done with a bit more sleep in a bed if I’m honest,” he confessed.
Mary got up and turned him by the upper arms to face her. “Well in that case, why don’t you go and lie down on my bed for a while. I’ll watch him.”
Heyes shook his head. “No ma’am, we’ve put you out enough already. I couldn’t do that.”
“Joshua,” Mary sighed. “Don’t be stubborn please. If he wakes, I’ll call you. Promise.”
Heyes looked at her. He knew he was falling in love with this woman and felt himself flush when she stroked his cheek.
Heyes looked at the Kid and then back at Mary. He nodded. “Okay.” She stepped back as he stood. “Promise you’ll call the moment he wakes up? Or if he gets worse?”
“Yes I promise. Now go!”
Heyes slid his hands round her waist and pulled her to him gently. He lowered his head and kissed her softly.
“Oh Great! Here I am at death’s door and you’re smooching!”
“Kid!” Heyes broke away quickly and turned to the bed. He realised that in his excitement he had made a mistake. “Hey, kiddo,” he covered gently. He sat down on the edge of the bed. “How you feeling? You look awful by the way.”
The Kid false smiled. “Thanks.” He put a hand over his eyes. “Not so good, Hey … Josh.”Suddenly, he started up and looked around wildly. “Where am I?”
“Mary’s spare bedroom. We had to carry you here last night. You’d passed out.”
“What?” The Kid stared. Was he dreaming? He had never had so much to drink that he’d passed out before. He groaned.
“What did you drink last night after I left you?”
The Kid put his head back trying to remember. A swirl of unrelated and bizarre images came to mind. Deadly ducks, rehearsing horses, pea green faces, a large metal ball, talking chickens, drinkable coffee, a piano playing dog. None of it made any sense. He shook his head.
“I dunno. I was wiv Jeannie …” He glanced at Mary. “Y’know perhaps I’ll tell you later, Joshua. Best get up and out your way ma’am.” He started to swing his legs over the side of the bed and groaned as the room swam.
“You just stay right there, Thaddeus and do some more sleeping,” Mary said. She nodded. “I’ll leave you to talk.” She touched Heyes fondly on the shoulder and he smiled at her as she disappeared.
Even in his befuddled state, the Kid couldn’t fail to notice the looks between Heyes and Mary.
“She’s a good woman, Heyes,” he said, quietly.
Heyes looked back at him and nodded. “Yes she is,” he agreed tightly. Then settling himself more comfortably on the bed he frowned. “Now what did you want to tell me?”
The Kid frowned and put a hand to his forehead trying to remember.
“I hooked up with Jeannie after you left.” Of all the saloon girls, Jeannie and the Kid were the most friendly.
“We went upstairs and er celebrated the New Year.” He nodded at Heyes who rolled his eyes in understanding.
“And er when we came back down, a lot of folks had gone home. Or elsewhere. But er there were a few still around sitting in the middle of the saloon talking. And …” He paused and Heyes had to motion for him to continue.
“We joined ‘em!” He smiled pleasantly at Heyes.
“And they were having a drinking game so we er joined that too!” He looked sheepish.
“Ah,” nodded Heyes. He was beginning to understand.
“There was some green stuff. Tasted of aniseed. I liked that,” the Kid said wistfully.
“Absinthe! You knucklehead! That stuff’s dangerous!” Heyes growled and got up. “No wonder you passed out!”
“Didn’t seem that strong!”
“No but it does things to you.” Heyes waved his hand dismissively. “Gives you hal-loo-sin-nations and all sorts.”
The Kid groaned. “That explains why my dreams were so bizarre!” He covered his eyes. “Heyes! They were SO bad!”
“Yeah I figured they weren’t normal,” Heyes sighed, sitting down on the bed again. “Do as Mary says get some more sleep.”
“Yeah if you don’t mind I think I will.” The Kid made himself comfortable again.
“I think it’ll be awhile before you drink alcohol again,” Heyes smiled. He patted the Kid’s arm.“Happy New Year, Kid.”
“Yeah Happy New Year, Heyes,” the Kid murmured as he fell asleep. This time he had no dreams good or bad.Historical NoteIn the 19th century, Absinthe was a popular drink although reputed to have hallucinogenic properties. The US government banned it in 1912 to bring it in line with most of Europe, where is some countries, a ban had been in place for some time. France, where it was the most popular, held out until 1914. Curiously, it was never banned in the UK!
However, in 1999 the hallucinogenic effects were conclusively disproved. The hallucinogenic reputation has been attributed to poisonous additives in cheaper versions, such as oil of wormwood, impure alcohol and copper salts used to give the distinctive green colouring.
In the last twenty years, the bans in most countries have been lifted and absinthe has gained in popularity again, although its production is strictly regulated. The EU lifted the ban in 1988 but France defied the regulation until 2011.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname