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Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England

Heat Empty
PostSubject: Heat   Heat EmptySun Jul 03, 2016 9:48 am

This is the challenge from June.


The Kid picked up the coffee pot and poured.

“Heyes, d’ya want some coffee?”

No answer.

The Kid looked round. Heyes was sitting at the table deeply engrossed in a book propped up in front of him. There was a big stack of other books at his elbow and there were several more on the table, face down and open at various places. Every now and then, he scribbling on a pad.


A grunt.

“D’ya want some coffee?” the Kid asked louder.

Another grunt.

“Is that a yes or a no?”

Ambiguous grunt.

The Kid rolled his eyes. “Okay,” he sighed. “Try this. One grunt for yes, two grunts for no.”

Different noise, one of discovery.

The Kid replaced the coffee pot. “I give up.” He shook his head and walked passed the studious Heyes to the door. “I’m goin’ over to the bunkhouse. Play poker with the boys. Wanna come?”

“Awh, mmmm, er? Oh. No coffee for me,” mumbled Heyes.

The Kid backed out of the door with his eyes wide and left the cabin.


After a lively evening in the bunkhouse with the boys, drinking whiskey and playing cards, the Kid weaved his way back to the leader’s cabin in the early hours. As he clattered in, he was surprised to see Heyes sitting at the table exactly where he’d left him.

“You ain’t still sittin’ there are ya?” he asked slurringly obvious.

“Must look like it.”

“What ya doin’?” The Kid came and swayed next to the table. He leant over to peer at the book, releasing noxious breath over Heyes.

“Aggh! Go away!” Heyes flicked him away. “How much ya had to drink? An’ you’ve been smoking those cigars Wheat’s brother sent at Christmas!” Heyes fanned his face in disgust.

“S’nothin’ wrong with ‘em,” the Kid protested.

“Nothing right with ‘em either!”

“C’mon, let me see what ya doing.” The Kid picked up a book, held the spine facing him and then at arm’s length trying to focus on the title. “Me … met …” A blink and more swaying. “Met …al … ur … gy. Meta … lur …gy!”

“Yes. Metallurgy.” Heyes took the book back smoothly as it was about to fall from the hands of the rapidly spiralling Kid, who collapsed awkwardly into an easy chair.

“What’s it ‘bout?” the Kid asked, apparently unaware that he was no longer on his feet.

Heyes gave him a look of disdain and didn’t answer.

“What’s it ‘bout?” The Kid was louder.

“It’s a part of science concerned with the properties of metal and its production.”

The Kid grunted. “Not much of a plot.”

Heyes rolled his eyes and shook his head. He looked at his work, sadly. He hated needless interruptions. He was on to something. He knew it. By the time, he looked back at the Kid, that man was asleep with his head on his hand.

Heyes sighed, smacked his lips and got up. From the Kid’s bedroom, he retrieved the quilt from his bed and draped it over him.


The next morning, the Kid woke with a hangover the size of Texas, a mouth like a dried up river bed and stiff from sleeping in the chair all night. He moved his legs gingerly and pushed back the quilt. The room was empty although the table was still full of whatever Heyes was doing. Groaning the Kid got up, stretched the kinks out of his back and headed for his room. On the way, he passed the open door of Heyes’ room. Heyes wasn’t there either. The Kid shrugged and collapsed on his bed fully clothed. He was asleep again in moments.

Meanwhile Heyes was poking around in the old disused blacksmith shed. The forge inside hadn’t been used for years and the shed had become the Gang’s unofficial dumping ground. Heyes was clearing a path so he could look at the forge. Anything in his way was flying out of the door behind him.

Across the yard, Wheat stood on the bunkhouse porch, watching. The noise of clanging, thudding, clinking etc. soon attracted the rest of the Gang to join him.

“What in tarnation is goin’ on?” Lobo asked, struggling out of the door, pulling his suspenders over his Henley.

“We under attack?” Tate cried, still in his long johns but gun in hand.

“Nah! By the looks of it I’d say Heyes is spring cleanin’,” Wheat sniffed.

“Sheesh! He’s ‘bout two months early,” said Kyle, hitching his pants.

An odd collection of items was beginning to accumulate in the yard. A campanology set with the smallest hand bell missing, old newspapers, boxes, tins of paint (really?), a broken window frame, a three legged chair, and loose bedsprings. The last causing howls of laughter from the bystanders as Heyes scooted after them as they bounced away from him. Before finally juggling them into obedience. A baby carriage (why?) flew to the top of the rapidly growing pile. Half a stagecoach wheel (again why?) followed it. The dead plant called Terry that Kyle had lovingly nurtured until finally forgetting to water. Heyes heaved out twelve crates of empty whiskey bottles, false smiled at his audience, gave them a hard look and disappeared inside again.

“Think he wants us to help?” Kyle asked uncertainly.

Wheat leaned back against the bunkhouse wall and folded his arms.

“Nah! He’s enjoyin’ himself. We’d jus’ be spoilin’ his fun if’n we went an’ helped out. Oh! So that’s where that went.” Wheat crossed the yard quickly and retrieved a broken broom handle, complete with brush head. He returned with one in each hand. “S’good broom this. Only had two new handles and four new heads,” he mused, looking to reunite them.

Much later ….

A now sweaty, grimy and out of breath Heyes reached where he wanted to be. He stood hands on hips and puffed as he considered. The buried forge was not in as bad a condition as he thought it might be. Perhaps all the detritus he had hefted out of the way had actually protected it.

The fire hearth stood in the centre of the wooden building, the brick built chimney rising above it. A set of large double doors stood closed and barred opposite the yard door. In front of the hearth still stood the anvil, tongs and hammers ready for use. To one side was a bench, yet to be uncovered, but likely containing other blacksmithing tools. Heyes leant over and peered up the chimney. Yep he could just make out daylight but no doubt, the chimney would need a good sweep before use. He straightened up coughing from inhaling the old coal dust, smearing some over his cheek. He contemplated the hearth once more, gave a deep sigh and inadvertently rubbing more coal dust over his chin as he continued his contemplation.

“I reckon that’ll do,” he muttered and strolled outside purposefully.

To find the Gang had made themselves comfortable on the bunkhouse porch, reclining in chairs in the sun.

“Ain’t ya got anything to do?” Heyes asked, irritably.

“Nope,” smirked Wheat, seeing Heyes’ blackened state. “We’ve been watchin’ the entertainment.”

The boys sniggered.

Knowing he was the recipient of their mirth, he gave them his best Hannibal Heyes look. “Well get this … .”  What could he call it? “Jus’ tidy up!” He waved a hand over the pile and stalked off back to the leader’s cabin. Suddenly he turned. “An’ DON’T put it back in there!” He pointed at the shed.


Back in the Land of Nod, the Kid was blissfully unaware his slumbers were about to be interrupted. When Heyes discovered just how filthy he was when he smeared coal dust over his books. Muttering curses, he pumped water into the sink and washed his hands.
The Kid lay where he was, listening. Did he get up and enquire? Would it be best to lay where he was until Heyes went out again? Finally, curiosity got the better of him. With a grunt, he got up. He staggered to the door and poked his head round.

“D’ya mind keeping it down out there? Some folks are trying to sleep!”

Heyes spun round, wiping coal dust over a towel. He grunted at seeing it. He hadn’t done such a good job of washing up as he thought.

“Ah! Sleeping Beauty awakes! I was ‘bout to send Kyle inta kiss ya!” Heyes chortled at his little joke. In reply, he received the look.

The Kid came closer and peered at Heyes.

“What’s that on ya face?”

“What? Where?” Heyes went to the mirror above the fireplace. “Ah!” He scrubbed at this face with the towel. “I’ve been busy while ya been sleeping. Clearing out the old blacksmith shed.”

“Why?” The Kid was immediately suspicious. When Heyes got an idea, it usually only meant one thing. Work for him.

“Figgered I might use it.”

“For what?”

Heyes twitched his head. “Ah, well, I ain’t ready to say but if this works then …” Smug grin. “We might jus’ be able to retire!”

The Kid pulled a face. He’d heard that one before. He waved a hand dismissively and turned back to his bedroom.

“When ya ready to tell me, I’ll be in here sleepin’.”

Heyes spent the rest of day in the blacksmith shed making lists. The next morning the Kid found him atop a buckboard heading out.


“Where are you goin’?” he demanded.

“Into Rawlins. I’ve got things to get.”

“Into Rawlins? You can’t get what ya gotta get in Burton Wells?” Burton Wells was the nearest town to the Hole and the Gang members known there. They had an unofficial agreement. As long as they didn’t cause trouble they were free to walk the streets. The bigger town of Rawlins further away was a different matter. The proximity to a gang of notorious outlaws made folks suspicious and the Gang rarely ventured there.

“Nope but I reckon I can in Rawlins.”

The Kid looked at him in silence for a moment. “Want me to come along? Watch ya back?”
Heyes considered and then shook his head. “Nope the two of us together might jus’ make the folks of Rawlins suspicious. This is too important and I’ve gotta job to do. I’ll be a day or two. If I ain’t back say in …” He pursed his lips. “… two days, come looking for me.”

The Kid sighed doubtfully. “Alright Heyes have it your way. I think ya makin’ a mistake goin’ into
Rawlins but … it’s your neck.”

“Trust me, Kid. I know what I’m doing,” Heyes assured him and twitched the reins. “See ya, Kid.”

As Heyes trundled away, Wheat stepped onto the porch of the leader’s cabin beside the Kid.

“Where’s he goin’?”

“Sheesh!” The Kid shook his head. “Rawlins he said. He’s got some plan brewin’.”

Wheat looked at him in alarm. “I’ll tell the boys. If we light out now we’ll be gone by the time he gets back.” He started for the bunkhouse.

The Kid stopped him.

“Now Wheat ya ain’t goin’ nowhere. You dunno what it is yet.”

“Yeah Kid, that’s what worries me! You’ll head out too if ya take my advice.”

“I ain’t gonna run out on my partner. I know he’s a little weird at times but he comes through eventually. Jus’ have a little patience.”

Wheat rolled his shoulders uncomfortably. “Yeah,” he admitted begrudgingly. “But ya gotta admit, Kid. He’s had us doin’ some pretty dumb things. We’s serious outlaws! We’ve gotta reputation to think of!”

“Jus’ wait ‘till Heyes gets back an’ then hear him out.”


Heyes was back in two days with a heavily laden buckboard, the contents of mysterious lumps and bumps protected by a tarpaulin. As he came to rest in the middle of the yard, the Gang came out to greet him. Heyes applied the brake with a sigh and climbed down. He was stretching his back with a grimace as they approached him, eyeing the buckboard warily.

“Howdy Heyes,” Kyle greeted with a grin.

“Kyle,” Heyes acknowledged, starting to untie the tarpaulin.

“What ya got there, Heyes?” Kyle was curious to see what was underneath.

“Equipment, Kyle,” Heyes said, brightly, throwing back the cover. “Give a hand, fellas. Put it in the blacksmith shed.”

Heyes walked round the end of the buckboard and up to the Kid. He stood and grinned knowingly, as he stripped off his gloves. The Kid regarded him, warily. He was also unimpressed.

“I’m back.” Heyes waved his hand in front of the Kid’s face.

“So I can see. What …?” The Kid watched in disbelief, at the things the Gang were unloading.

Bellows, large scissor tongs, something that looked like a big beaker, strips of metal – he didn’t know what, leather aprons and gauntlets, sacks of charcoal. Wheat had a leather visor in his hand. He was looking at it suspiciously.

“We’s going on hold-ups in disguise now?”

Heyes rolled his eyes and pointed to the shed. Kyle followed struggling to hold together chimney-sweeping equipment. Heyes smiled as he watched the diminutive man juggle his way to the shed. Shaking his head, he looked back at the Kid.

“D’ya wanna tell me what this is all ‘bout now?”


Heyes set off for the leader’s cabin. The Kid rolled his eyes and stalked after him.


The next morning found the Gang in the blacksmith shed.

“First thing we’ve gotta do is sweep the chimney. I’ve got these here brushes to do the job. Now I need a couple of ya outside to tell me when ya sees it coming outta the top of the chimney.” Lobo and Preacher, sensing the easier job, scrambled to see who could get outside the fastest.

Heyes shook his head and shuddered.

“Er Heyes I dunno how to break it to ya but I reckon ya have a problem,” Wheat said.

Heyes spun round.

“What’s that, Wheat?”

Wheat was standing by the side of the chimney holding the rod with the brush on the end up against the flue.

“No way that’s gonna reach right to the top.” Wheat chortled. Sure did feel good to get one over on Hannibal Heyes.

Heyes looked at him knowingly. “Well now Wheat that’s jus’ where ya’re wrong. It’ll do the job just fine.” Heyes widened his eyes as Wheat’s face crumpled with incomprehension. “Until recently, in London and the big cities back East, raggedy boys were sent up with a brush.” He spun round. “There ya go Kyle your big moment.” Heyes looked innocently at the Gang’s answer to a raggedy boy.

“I ain’t going up there!” Kyle protested, hitching his pants. He looked from Heyes to Wheat then to the Kid. All three looked serious. “I ain’t,” he added, still unsure.

“C’mon Kyle I’ll give ya a boast,” Wheat said, holding his hands ready to provide the lift.

With a swallow, Kyle started to move forward. Suddenly, Heyes broke into a broad grin; the Kid smiled and shook his head, while Wheat chortled. Heyes slapped Kyle on the shoulder.

“Ya mean ya weren’t really gonna send me up there?”

“Naw! You’d of only got stuck an’ we’d havta leave ya there.” Heyes strolled away leaving Kyle to swallow hard. He wasn’t sure Heyes was entirely joking.

“This is how these work.” Heyes screwed two of the rods together and then added the one with the brush on the end. “This goes up the chimney and ya keep adding more rods to the end as ya push it up until the brush comes out the top.” Heyes looked round at his companions. None looked convinced. “Well let’s give it a whirl huh fellas?” he said, irritably.


“Heyes this had better be worth it,” the Kid said, passing Heyes another rod.

“Trust me, Kid. Have I ever let ya down?” Heyes straightened, holding his hands out wide.

The Kid gave him the look.

“Jus’ keep screwing the rods together and shoving it up the chimney. I’ll go check on the boys outside.” With a faint smile on his face, Heyes disappeared.

“Still time to light out Kid,” Wheat murmured as together they forced the rods up the chimney.

The Kid just grunted ambiguously.


“Sheesh! Kid, what’s with all the smoke?” Wheat coughed as he walked into the leader’s cabin two days later. The Kid and Preacher were at the table sharing a bottle of whiskey.

“Mebbe we got ourselves a new Pope?” Preacher slurred, and hiccupped.

The Kid ignored him as Wheat closed the door and came further in.

“Kid, me an’ the boys hav’ been talkin’ an’ ya gotta talk to him. I mean this is getting’ outta hand. It’s been two days now. All this smoke an’ secrecy. Ain’t natural.”

“He won’t tell me what he’s doin’ Wheat. Ya seen the sign!”

On the door of the blacksmith shed was a No Entry Sign. It had been two days since Heyes had holed himself up in there. Apart from the occasional sound of hammering and other odd noises, the only sign that Heyes was still alive were the emanations from the chimney. The plumes of smoke had varied in their color and density. This morning’s variety was the thickest and most cough making yet.

“I’m tellin’ ya Kid, ya gotta talk to him else me an’ the boys … .”

“What makes you think I can talk to him?” the Kid protested.

“Well you’s Kid Curry. You could shoot him or somethin’.”

“I ain’t shooting my partner!”

Wheat sniffed and shrugged. “Well I’s only meant a little bit. In the leg or somethin’ …” Wheat looked hopeful. “Jus’ enough to … you know …”

The Kid scrapped back his chair suddenly, forcing Wheat to take a step back quickly.

“Okay, Wheat.” The Kid was ominously low as he reached from his hat. “I’ll go talk to him. Tell him how you all feel.” He settled his hat on his head. “I’ll risk getting’ it in the neck for ya but …”

The Kid said, menacingly close to Wheat. “I’m tellin’ ya …” The legendary trigger finger jabbed itself into Wheat’s shoulder. “… whatever he’s doin’ in there is a plan an’ he’s workin’ it out. We jus’ need to give him more time.”

Wheat swallowed and reluctantly nodded.

“’Ppreciate ya goin’ in there Kid. On behalf of the boys an’ all.”

The Kid gave him a final look and went.

“Sheesh!” Wheat relaxed when he’d gone. “For a moment there I didn’t think he was goin’.”

“The Good Lord works in mysterious way,” opined Preacher.

Wheat snatched up the bottle of whiskey and took a gulp.

“Yeah and so does Heyes!”


The Kid thought it only polite that he knock on the door first. When there was no answer, he raised the catch. To his surprise, the door opened. He stuck his head cautiously inside and instantly met a wall of heat so fierce it almost singed his eyebrows.

“Sheesh! Heyes.”

Heyes was standing in front of the fire and looked round. A wide grin spread across his face.

“Ah, Kid! Was jus’ comin’ to get ya.”

“You were?” The Kid came in slowly. The fact that the Kid had violated the No Entry sign without any recriminations was ominous. The Kid proceeded in with caution.

The double doors were open but the heat inside was still unbearable. Heyes was down to his underwear, now black with soot. Over the top, he wore a large leather apron. He beckoned the Kid in further.

“Ya jus’ in time.”

“Yeah? Jus’ in time for what?”

“I need a hand. Grab a pair of those gauntlets. Oh an’ ya might wanna lose the gun. It’s kinda hot in here an’ if that heats up … .” He winced and shook his head.

The Kid hesitated but he had seen the look in Heyes’ eye. This was no time to be arguing or questioning. He knew from experience it was easier to just go along with what Heyes asked. He’d find out later what it was all about. He reached down and untied the thong from his leg.

“Yeah, why is it so hot in here?”

“Ah it’s gotta be the right heat or it won’t work,” Heyes nodded. He stood hands on hips and didn’t seem worried by the heat, wasn’t even sweating. Not like the Kid was beginning to.

“What won’t?”


“’Course.” The Kid false smiled at him and shuddered. No idea!

He put his gun belt out of harm’s way and put his hat on top for good measure.

“I’ll explain all in good time but jus’ do as I ask for now. Here.” Heyes threw him another leather apron. “Best put that on as well.”

With a look, the Kid donned the apron and pulled the gauntlets on. Heyes was poking the fire with a metal rod.

“I reckon this is jus’ ‘bout hot enough to give it a try.”

As the Kid watched, Heyes picked up a strip of reddish metal and dropped it into the big beaker. Using tongs, he positioned this in the fire.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a crucible. For melting metal.”

The Kid gave a nondescript sound.

Heyes pulled on the leather visor and leaned over, watching the metal he had dropped in begin to melt. With a nod of satisfaction, he took a different coloured strip of metal and pushed it towards the fire but not in it.

“Here’s what I’m gonna do …” With a small laugh, he raised the visor so the Kid could now hear him. “When the metal in the crucible has melted, I’m gonna raise the temperature of the fire …”

“Raise it! Sheesh!” The Kid wiped the sweat dripping from his forehead with his forearm.

“Yeah,” Heyes said patiently. “Jus’ a little more. Then I’m gonna drop this other strip into the crucible. It’ll melt real quick. Then I’ll give it a stir and then we …”


“Yeah, you an’ me are gonna get hold of the crucible with these here two handed scissor tongs and WE’RE gonna pour the contents into the mold I prepared earlier. Simple huh?” Smug grin.

The Kid looked doubtful but didn’t get a chance to say anything further as Heyes leapt into action. Before the Kid knew it he was on the other end of the scissor tongs and under Heyes’ instruction. Together they poured the contents of the crucible into the mold.

“Now what?”

Suddenly exhausted, Heyes sat heavily on a stool.

“Now we wait for it to cool ‘afore I can tell if it worked.” Wearily he took off the visor and stripped off his gloves. “Boy, the heat in here,” he sighed and puffed.


The next evening, a bathed and refreshed Heyes slipped through the door of the bunkhouse. Seeing the Gang and the Kid playing cards, the smug grin appeared. Hiding something inside his blue/grey coat, he walked over.

“Heyes, you coming to join us?” the Kid asked with a smile. His partner looked a lot better than the last time he had seen him. So tired he had collapsed onto his bed as he was and immediately went to sleep. The Kid had draped a blanket over him and left him.

“Not exactly. I’ve got something to show ya.”

The Gang looked up curiously and then down on the table where Heyes deposited the something.
Mouths dropped open as they all stared at the yellow, shiny object.

“Is that?”

“Naw …?”

“You’ve made …?”

“That’s not …?”

“Heyes tell me you haven’t …?”

All eyes looked up at their leader, standing hands on hips, grinning broadly.

Suddenly the cabin plunges into complete darkness.

Cries of panic are heard. “Hey! What’s goin’ on?”

One by one, pairs of eyes begin to appear in the blackness.

“Sorry fellas,” We hear Heyes’ voice. “I can’t tell you right now.”

“Why not?” the Kid demanded.

“MoulinP’s hit the word count limit!”

Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
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