Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Heat Part Two Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:00 am|| |
This is the follow on to the June challenge. I don't think I've missed my vocation!
Heat Part TwoSuddenly the bunkhouse was in light. Eyes blink.
“Who’s MoulinP?” the Kid asked, when they had all looked round in astonishment.
“Dunno. I jus’ felt I had to say it.” Heyes frowned and shook his head. “Weird.” Then he shrugged. “Don’t matter none. An’ naw, I haven’t.” Heyes was smiling enigmatically. “But I did tell ya we could retire!”
More blank looks and Heyes pulled a lop-sided face.
“T’aint gold, fellas. It’s Pinchbeck.”
“Sure looks like gold.”
“Well.” Heyes unbuttoned his coat, took of his hat and drew up a chair. The card game forgotten now in anticipation of an explanation. “Pinchbeck is a fake gold. It was invented last century by an Englishman who spotted there was a market for jewellery that looked like gold but wasn’t. At the time, the only grade gold sold in was 18 or 22 karats. So he worked on making an alloy …” He smacked his lips at the blank faces. “It’s a mixture of metals … until he got the proportions right so that it looked like gold.”
“So what is this made of?” the Kid asked. He pointed at the ingot.
“It’s made of copper and zinc. Christopher Pinchbeck, the man who invented it, kept the exact proportions a secret. But I done some readin’ an’ I reckon I figured out what they were. Not bad huh? Had you all fooled.”
The Kid pursed his lips. He was impressed. He picked up the “gold” ingot.
“It’s a lot lighter than gold.” He was able to bounce it in one hand, and then passed it round so they could all feel the weight.
Heyes grinned. “Yep. An’ that’s the beauty of it, Kid. Means we only have heavy hauling in one direction. The direction that counts!” He widened his eyes and nodded eagerly.
“That’s interesting Heyes but …,” the Kid began.
Wheat sniffed and leaned back. “Well that’s increased my already extensive education. Ain’t it yours Kyle?” Wheat asked, looking at the smaller man.
Heyes rolled his eyes.
“Heyes, what ya leadin’ up to?” the Kid asked. He knew there was more.
“Glad ya asked that question, Kid.” Heyes paused and took a sip of whiskey. Suddenly he was serious. “Y’know that job …? The one we always consider … an’ then …” He looked round at the Gang and swallowed. He took a deep breath. “Well I think I’ve figured outta way to do it.” He took a bigger gulp of whiskey.
There was silence. They all knew what job he meant. It was always talked about but then dismissed. It was too big, too difficult, needed too much planning and likely to get them all killed. A job too far, even for the famous Devil’s Hole Gang.
As realisation sank in, they all began to talk at once. Heyes smacked his lips and looked away. He knew the Kid was watching him and he didn’t want to meet his eye. Finally he did.
“Ya ain’t serious, Heyes?” the Kid said, quietly.
The softly spoken words cut through the hubbub and it died slowly. The Gang looked from one leader to the other, waiting for the scheming one to speak. That one rubbed his chin.
“Well let me explain what I’m thinking and then we’ll talk ‘bout it.” That was a first! All eyes paid attention. “The way I figure it, I can make enough of these “gold” bars an’ if substituted for the real thing would give us enough of a haul that er …” He raised the whiskey glass to his lips and gave a lopsided grin. “… I reckon we could retire.” Pause for effect. “An’ if we do it right, nobody would know for days what had been taken. We’d be long gone.”
“Heyes, ya gotta do a lot more talkin’.” The Kid said, shaking his head.
“I know Kid. I will. I got it all figured out.”
“We are talkin’ ‘bout the bullion train outta the Denver Mint?” Lobo queried.
Heyes nodded. “Yep.”
Lobo pursed his lips and widened his eyes. “Dunno if I wanna be part of that,” he said, doubtfully.
“Yeah I know. It’s a big deal. Jus’ hear what I’ve gotta say. I’ll explain it to you an’ if WE decide it’s still too risky, we won’t do it. How’s that?” Heyes said, reasonably.
There was rumblings round the table, lots of looking at one another but finally they all nodded.
“Let’s hear what ya gotta say,” Lobo said.
“But if’n we don’t like it, we ain’t doing it, right?” Tate clarified.
Heyes nodded slowly. “This is a big job an’ all of us’ll havta be committed to the plan. It’ll havta run like clockwork otherwise, it’ll all fall apart. There’ll be no room for error.”
Heyes was serious as he looked round the table. When he was satisfied that they understood, clearing his throat he carried on.
“The official price of gold is ‘bout $20 an ounce an’ one of those gold bars that they pour in Denver weighs ‘bout 400 ounces so … that means …” He closed one eye and looked at the ceiling “… they’re worth over $8,000 dollars each.”
The dimpled grin became wider by the second as he watched the (gold) penny drop around the room.
“Now we mustn’t be greedy boys. Gold weighs an awful lot an’ it’s difficult to transport.Remember we gotta get it away.”
Heyes looked round the table again and then sniffed.
“Okay. Here’s how I see it going down.” He swallowed and cleared his throat. “We stop the train in the usual way, logs on the line. But …” He held up a finger. “… this time it’s gotta look like trees have fallen naturally.”
As Heyes looked round, there were some puzzled faces. He could almost see the question mark above the heads of the usual suspects. A dimpled grin appeared. “An’ I know the perfect place to pull this off.”
He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a sheet of paper. He unfolded it, sweeping away the cards and chips of the forgotten game and laid the paper in front of him. He had drawn a map. The Gang shuffled their chairs closer so they could see. Heyes blinked. Suddenly it had become very cosy. He wrinkled his nose at the ominous odour that was invading his nostrils and he cleared his throat, trying not to get distracted.
“This is map of Rapina Gulch. The railroad cutting is deep and narrow an’ …” Now another smug grin. “Look how it bends round. I figure if we drop some trees over the line here.”
“An’ that’s when we strike!” Wheat grinned.
“I like it!” grinned Kyle.
Heyes shuddered. “Nope.”
“No?” the Kid queried.
“Too obvious. This train is guarded don’t forget. The train makes an unscheduled stop? Trees on the line?” Heyes shrugged. “Even if it looks natural? The guards are gonna be suspicious. Naw!”
Heyes tapped the map. “The end of the train is gonna be round the bend an’ outta sight. An’ look right here. There’s a siding. I reckon we can hide a boxcar in there an’ when the train stops … everyone gets out to have a look …” He leant forward, a crafty glint in his eye. “We do this at night. Ya all know how dark it gets when there’s no moon or ambient light.” Deep breath at the questioning faces. “City lights!” he snapped and rolled his eyes. “Why ya can’t see your hand in front of ya face! I figure if it’s dark enough … Everybody is round the bend clearing the line. Not too many eyes watching the back of the train … I reckon we can push the boxcar we’ve got concealed … hid … in the siding … ever so quiet like and couple it on the back.”
Heyes looked back and watched. Not that there was a lot to watch. Apart from chins rubbing, faces pulling, deep frownings, and ear scratching.
Finally, Wheat sniffed. “Waal Heyes that’s er …”
He didn’t finish.
“Why’d we need a boxcar?” It was the Kid, interrupting. Wheat looked gratefully at him.
“’Cos the alternative is we all jump on the side of the train and climb up on the roof. Ain’t easy to organise everyone that way. Our plans hav’ gotta be flexible an’ we need somewhere we can adapt them. ‘Sides we need the boxcar to transport OUR gold.”
The Kid pursed his lips. Made sense he supposed but …
“Push a boxcar? Push? A boxcar?” He looked incredulous.
“I forgot to tell ya.” Heyes leaned in again. “There’s a gradient here. Train has to slow down anyways to make the bend so that it don’t jump off the tracks. Once it’s stopped we take the brake off our boxcar an’ gravity will take care of the rest. All we have to do is make sure all the train crew are occupied with clearing the line an’ the boxcar’ll jus’ gently kiss up to the back of the train. Where we couple it up, get in it an’ off we go.” Heyes looked triumphant.
“Ya make it sound so simple Heyes,” the Kid said.
Heyes twitched his head. “Well I guess there’s a little more to it.”
The Kid rolled his eyes and motioned with his hand for Heyes to get on with it.
“Well while we’re doing all that one of us …me … will be watching how many men are guarding the gold.” He held up a finger. “That’s important. We need to know how many men they got in the boxcar with the gold and how many men in the caboose. I figure they have three or four in each team, mebbe three teams. I reckon they’ll be suspicious after the unscheduled stop so I’m proposing we go into double the guard. That way we’ll only have to deal with a small number in the gold car. But I’ll need to find out who the man in charge is first ‘ cos it’ll be on his orders the guard get’s doubled.”
The Kid pursed his lips, thoughtful. “Supposin’ they recognise we’re not regular guards?”
“It’ll be dark. They’ll be expecting to see other guards. We’ll be wearing uniforms. Not to mention hats. Once we’re inside it won’t matter if somebody realises that we’re not part of the regular guards.”
Heyes could tell the Kid wasn’t convinced. “And?”
“Questions …” the Kid started, meaning he had some.
“I’s gotta question,” said Kyle raising his hand, thinking the Kid had meant questions from the floor.
Heyes looked at him hard and then patiently nodded his head in acceptance.
“How much dynamite we gonna use?”
Heyes blinked in surprise, frowned and cleared his throat. “Weren’t planning on using any, Kyle. Why? Ya got a different plan?” Beside him, Wheat sat back and folded his arms with a rueful grin. This should be interesting. The rest of the Gang obviously thought so too, judging by smirks they were giving each other.
“Jus’ askin’,” Kyle muttered, crestfallen.
Heyes smiled. He was fond of the little man and his willingness to help. He ought to let him down gently.
“I’m sorry Kyle but this ain’t the kinda plan that needs dynamite but that don’t mean that ya ain’t gonna play a major part in this operation. In fact I’ve got a real important job for you.”
Kyle brightened at hearing that.
“But I’ll come to that in a moment. Now where was I?”
“Questions,” the Kid said and Heyes nodded at him to continue.
“Where the blue blazes do we get a boxcar?”
“Kid, hav’ ya ever noticed on the way into the Hole something that looks like a shack, way ofta the right?” Heyes waved his right arm. “Afore ya get to DeadLand’s Point?”
“Heyes I’ve usually got other things on my mind. Like avoiding the posse that’s hot on our heels! Not sightseeing!”
Heyes smacked his lips. “We don’t ALWAYS hav’ a posse hot on our heels.” Heyes false smiled at him. “Sometimes it’s a slower, genteel kinda approach,” he said, calmly. “Anyways ofta the right there is this thing that looks like a shed, cabin, shack, whatever ya wanna call it.” He paused to gather his thoughts. “A few months ago I checked it out. D’know what it actually is?” Smug grin.
The Kid rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“It’s an old boxcar!”
The Kid groaned and covered his eyes with a hand. He could guess what was coming next.
“Right there in the middle of nowhere?” Tate queried. “Don’t sound possible.”
“Moses found the Good Lord in the middle of nowhere,” said Preacher, taking a big glug of whiskey from his own bottle. He shrugged when everyone looked at him. “Jus’ sayin’.”
“How’d the Devil … sorry Preacher … did it get there?” Lobo asked. Preacher’s head bobbed in acceptance of the apology.
Heyes shrugged, mystified as the rest of them. “But it’s complete. Got the truck an’ everything.”
“Yeah but is it on rails, Heyes?” the Kid demanded. “’Cos if it ain’t …” He left it hanging. “How we gonna move it?”
“It’s on rails!” Heyes said, irritably and gave him a look that said ‘what d’ya take me for?’
“But where do the rails go?” The Kid was insistent.
Heyes hunched his shoulders and spread his hands. “They must go somewhere. Ya can’t jus’ have a boxcar sitting in the landscape like a … like a … piece of sculpture!”
The Kid gave an exasperated noise, got up and walked away.
Heyes took a deep breath. “I didn’t say I had ALL the details worked out. I’ve kinda got the bigger picture that’s all,” he said, trying to sound calm. He looked at the Kid’s back. “Jus’ hear me out will ya?”
Reluctantly, the Kid came and sat down heavily, folded his arms and leant back. He motioned for Heyes to continue and he did.
“Let’s assume, for one moment, that we can get this boxcar hid in the siding and coupled up in the dark ...”
“Couplin’ up s’real dangerous Heyes,” Lobo said, doubtfully. “Fella I grew up with. He worked on the railroad. He was killed doin’ it. Real nice fella an’ all.”
“Yeah,” Heyes nodded, thoughtfully. “An’ there’s different types of couplin’. Ain’t all compatible. I know all that.” He cleared his throat. “Jus’ for now let’s assume we’ve got it coupled up shall we?”
“As I was sayin’, once we’re underway some of us make our way over the top to the caboose, knock out a few guards …” Heyes paused, seeing the Kid’s raised hand.
“Heyes, these’ll be trained men. We won’t jus be able to knock outta a few guards. Not without a fight. There’s bound to be guns involved. Some of us could get killed.”
Heyes nodded and bit his bottom lip. “Yep. I need to work on the details of that part of the operation a bit more. Jus’ … jus’ let me carry on alright? I reckon ya need to know how I see the whole plan working. We can work out individual details later. Anymore questions?”
“Alright. We’ll do it your way, Heyes. For now.”
Heyes nodding. “So we’re got the off duty guards in the caboose all tied up. Some of us will “borrow” their uniforms an’ go and knock on the gold car, saying we’re doubling the guard.”
“Suppose there’s passwords?”
Heyes bit his lip. “I said I ain’t got all the details yet. I’m jus’ putting principles to ya.” He gave the Kid the look.
“Or agreed warning words?”
Another look. “Such as?” Heyes said, icily.
The Kid shrugged. “Jus’ supposing’ we get into the wagon where the gold is … then what?” the Kid asked.
“Trains stop for water right?”
The Kid rolled his eyes and nodded. “Yep.”
“Next water stop is five miles up the line.” Heyes turned the paper over and presented another map. The Gang leant in again and Heyes leant back again. “This is Imber. I figure the train’ll havta stop there …”
“Supposin’ it don’t?” the Kid asked and received the look.
“It’ll stop there. Even If’n I have to stand on the track with my hand up!” Heyes said, through gritted teeth.
The Kid nodded and smacked his lips. “Like ya say, some details hav’ yet to be worked out.”
Heyes took a deep breath. “Before the train has stopped we’ll hav’ cut a hole in the floor of the gold boxcar. That’s where you come in Kyle. You’re jus’ the man to do that. While the train takes on water, we offload the gold through the hole in the floor. We hide our ‘gold’ in the middle of the pile so it ain’t obvious. We replace the floor and disappear down the hole. We’re away. Once the trains watered up an’ gone we jus’ pick up the gold from the tracks. It’ll take a while for the guards to get free an’ raise the alarm. We’ll be long gone.”
Big smug grin. Heyes looked round.
“What d’ya think?”
The room was unusually quiet as everyone looked at everyone else. Nobody wanted to be the first to speak. Finally, they all looked at the Kid.
“Awful lot of unanswered questions, Heyes,” he said.
“Yep.” Heyes nodded his acceptance.
“Lotta things could do wrong.”
“Yep.” Heyes nodded again.
“How much d’ya reckon we could get away with?”
Heyes took a deep breath as he considered. “Probably between a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand.”
Tate whistled. The others murmured and shifted in their seats. Heyes could see their unease.
“Look fellas. I told ya the plan. There’s still some details to work out but I reckon we all oughta think about it. I’m convinced it’s do-able but … well it’s a serious job an’ we’ve gotta be sure.”
“So what ya saying Heyes?” Lobo asked.
Heyes licked his lips. “I’m asking ya to think ‘bout it. Let me know in the morning. Ya can come an’ tell me individually if ya like. Until then … if’n there’s no questions …” Heyes scrapped back his chair and got up. “I’ll leave ya to ya game.”
Heyes put on his hat and left.
----------------Heyes spent a sleepless night, lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. There were many unanswered questions. Many things could go wrong. It was dangerous. If he was being honest with himself, he had doubts. Well he had put the plan to the Gang. He had said that if they did not all agree they would not do it. He would see what they all said in the morning.
Heyes faced a frosty Kid over the breakfast table. The Kid had not said a word and Heyes was not going to ask. His partner would talk to him when he was ready.
It was Tate, who came first, coming into the leader’s cabin warily.
“Wanna word with Heyes?”
The Kid nodded, clamped a piece of toast between his teeth and picked up his coffee. He nodded as he left.
Heyes indicated the vacant chair.
“Been thinking ‘bout what ya put to us last night, Heyes an’ I … well y’know I’ve got a wife and kids up Newton way?” Heyes nodded. “An’ I’m only doing this temporary like so I can get us a stake?” Heyes nodded. “I don’t reckon I can be part of it, Heyes. I knows ya got it all planned out an’ all. I jus’ can’t do it!”
“It’s okay Tate. I understand. This’ll jus’ be between me and you who’ll know.”
Tate gave a weak smile. “Thanks Heyes an’ … I’m sorry.”
Heyes returned the smile as Tate got up. “Thanks for telling me.”
Tate had gone and Heyes had barely raised the coffee mug to his lips again when Lobo came in.
Heyes nodded and indicated the vacant chair. Lobo ignored it.
“I’ll come right out an’ say it Heyes. I ain’t doing it.”
Lobo looked surprised. “It is?”
“Yep. Told ya last night everyone has to agree.”
“But ya … planned it all. Near enough anyways.”
Heyes shrugged. “Plans change all the time, Lobo. Said that last night.”
Lobo frowned. “Yeah. Yeah ya did.”
“Thanks for telling me, Lobo,” Heyes smiled.
Lobo nodded and went.
Preacher was next.
“The boys told me what ya got planned, Heyes.”Heyes smiled amused. He hadn’t expected Preacher to remember much about last night.
“An’ what d’ya think?”
Preacher scratched his stubbled cheek. “Well I reckon it’s not for us Heyes. Look around ya. These aren’t ruthless men. You and the Kid aren’t ruthless men. Now I ain’t saying you’re not smart Heyes an’ the way the boys told it to me the plan has merit. But I reckon we’s better’n than this. The Good Lord didn’t make us ruthless and that’s what this plan needs. Ruthlessness.”
Heyes nodded, trying to hide his amusement at the Preacher’s reasoning.
“Yeah, ya mebbe right Preacher. I ain’t ruthless. I never claim to be. Thank ya for telling me how ya feel.”
The two newest members (Gideon and Jack) came next. Heyes was up to his elbows in foamy water as he washed up the breakfast things. He winced. Not a good look for his image. Hannibal Heyes doing the dishes! He sighed and dried his hands. He listened carefully as they explained their reasons for not wanting to go along with it.
“Hope this don’t mean that we can’t still ride with ya on other jobs Heyes?” Gideon asked, nervously.
“Nope it doesn’t mean that,” Heyes assured him.
“We like riding with this Gang. You’ve all been real welcoming and understanding …” Jack tailed off.
Heyes smiled. “Don’t worry about it Jack. Ya both still members … valued members of this Gang.”
He saw them on their way.
Wheat came next and he didn’t stand on ceremony.
“Heyes I gotta tell ya I don’t reckon ya thought this one through properly. An’ it’s for that reason I ain’t doing it.” Wheat stood feet firmly planted, thumbs hooked in his gun belt.
“Okay Wheat.” Heyes said quietly.
“I mean it’s real risky an’ we ain’t never done a job that big afore …”
“Fine Wheat thanks for telling me.”
Wheat looked at him suspiciously. “Ya alright me saying no?”
Wheat drew himself up. “Why? D’ya not want me on this job? ‘Cos …”
“I told ya. If we don’t ALL agree we don’t do this.”
“So ya ain’t doing it ‘cos of me?”
“Not entirely no.”
Wheat hesitated. “Who else said no then?”
“I ain’t saying. That’s between them an’ me.”
Wheat grunted. He turned to leave. “So it’s off then?”
“Looks that way.”
Kyle was next.
“Heyes I done thought it over. An’ I reckon we oughta do it.”
“No Kyle.” Heyes smiled at the enthusiasm.
Kyle didn’t say anymore. He just went.
There was still one person Heyes hadn’t seen. It wasn’t until early evening that the Kid finally came back to the leader’s cabin. Heyes looked up from the sofa where he lay reading.
“Where have you been all day?”
“Out riding. An’ thinking.”
Heyes sniffed. “Thought we had an agreement on that.”
Heyes didn’t protest as the Kid plucked the book from his hands. He just looked up at him.
“We need to talk.”
Heyes nodded and sat up.
“How bad d’ya wanna do this job Heyes?”
“Well it’s an opportunity …”
“Every job is an opportunity.”
Heyes looked at him patiently.
“Have the boys been in to talk to ya?”
Heyes looked innocent. “And what?”
“What did they say?”
“Ain’t saying. That’s between them an’ me. I gave my word.”
The Kid gave him the look.
“I know how they all feel now. How ‘bout you, Kid?”
The Kid sighed. “I dunno. I know there’s more work to do in the planning but I jus’ think it’s too grandiose.”
Heyes smiled fondly at the Kid.
“So ya saying ya don’t wanna do it?”
“Yeah. Sorry Heyes. Not that I don’t think ya smart enough to get it all figured out but … Now what ya grinning at?”
“Thank ya Kid. I’ll take that as a compliment.” Heyes got up and slapped the Kid on the arm.“C’mon let’s go across to the bunkhouse and tell the boys it’s a no-go.”
The Kid grinned and got up. “Mebbe we can have ourselves a celebration? To the job we didn’t do.”
Heyes laughed. “Yeah. The one that got away.”
As they went out, Heyes had a smirk on his face. Was he glad that was over! For a while, last night he thought they would be doing the job. The next time the gold bullion train from the Denver Mint came up; he figured the Gang would think twice. Every time it did come up they'd discuss it, bemoan the lack of plan and move on. But it did keep coming up. Now he had come up with a plan. Yes, it had holes in it but there was enough there for the Gang to realise how much planning was needed for a job like that. He doubt it would come up again. Which of course is exactly what he wanted all along.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
Posts : 554
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
|Subject: Re: Heat Part Two Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:38 am|| |
What a sneaky plan -- love it. He must have been really tired to have gone to that much work to come up with such a devious plan. Your writing of the gang's reaction was spot on. Clapping hard.
Posts : 8723
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Re: Heat Part Two Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:16 pm|| |
Very ingenious. Loved it, Moulinp. Very clever and teriffic research.
Posts : 306
Join date : 2014-08-12
|Subject: Re: Heat Part Two Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:19 pm|| |
I enjoyed this a lot. Did he have the plan all worked out, but knew it was to dangerous, so he left enough holes in it so that the gang wouldn't want to do it?
Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Re: Heat Part Two Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:25 am|| |
Thank you all for your comments.
To answer Gin's question, I had it in my head that this job kept coming up and Heyes was getting tired of saying they shouldn't do it. So yes you're right - I had him think of a plan to show them how complicated it would be and leave a lot of unanswered questions. With a bit of luck they would each think about it and decide it wasn't for them.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
Posts : 5114
Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 52
Location : Scotland
|Subject: Re: Heat Part Two Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:05 am|| |
Great ending Moulin P. Loved the last twist. Yes, it was a daring plan how to steal the gold, very clever, but also very dangerous. No wonder, Heyes didn't want to go for it. Good that the rest of the gang now agree. I'm sure they won't bring the job up again in a long time. Heyes really must have hated to hear about the job - to go to all the expense and physical work...
I loved the story, MP! The characterisations were really good. And I love a clever Heyes plan working out.
Now, I would like to know what the gang is going to do with the fake gold. I somehow can't imagine this lot just letting it lie around.
Any chance of a follow up story?
"I can resist everything - except temptation" Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!