Origins: The Ring
The boys had been through a lot over the past month or so. Held hostage by Indians at Apache Springs, subdued by, of all people, Harry Briscoe, and held hostage again at Diablo Station by outlaws fixin' to kill Lom. But the worst of all was being captured multiple times by a relentless bounty hunter, Joe Sims. Joe had dollar signs in his eyes and because of those dollar signs he wasn't using his best judgment.
Heyes and Kid are riding to Touchstone. They saw an article in the paper about them robbing the bank there getting away with $100,000... That would surely kill any chance of amnesty with the governor if they don't get it cleared up. They had been riding silently for quite a while. Both men were thinking about everything they had already been through and now this.
Then, all of a sudden, Heyes stood tall in his saddle and looked over to the Kid with one eye squinted because of the sun. Kid knew their silence was about to be broken.
"Kid, why do you think Joe was so dead set on turnin' us in? I know the money but after his encounters with the two sets of white men and seein' their reaction to him, a black man, having us, two white men, tied up, you would think he would've learned" Heyes said with a wrinkled brow.
"I don't know Heyes. I know the money had to mean a lot to him 'cause he used to be a slave and all but I just don't know why he didn't listen to ya and untie us. We'd done saved his life a couple of times and he knew we would back up whatever story he wanted to tell them. I just don't know Heyes."
"Yeah Kid, he would still be alive had he just untied us. But no, he COULDN'T do THAT! He just HAD to push Max. But Max shooting him like he did and then the sheriff not believin' our story...It just wasn't right. But you know as well as I know that we couldn't push it any more than we did or the sheriff would start to look too close at us and we both know where that would lead...us straight behind bars! But it still wasn't right. Joe died because of who WE are, or were at one time anyway. Max got away with cold blooded murder. That's hard to live with, ya know?"
"I know Heyes, it just don't sit well. The way I get through those feelings is knowin' that we tried, we did our level best and Joe was just too dang stubborn. Wouldn't listen for nothin'! Then we tried again with the sheriff. We did all we could Heyes."
Heyes reached in his pocket and pulled out a ring and handed it to Kid. "When we were getting ready to bury Joe, this ring fell out of his pocket when I turned him over. I'm not sure what the markings on it stand for but it fits my finger and it's not bad lookin' either. I think I'm gonna wear it just as a reminder that a man lost HIS life because of who WE are, or once were at least, and the reward on our heads. Yeah, yeah.... I know.... Max killed Joe because he was black and Max didn't like free black men...but we all wouldn't have been there together like we were if it wasn't for the rewards on OUR heads."
"As usual Heyes, you're right again."
"Kid, I know we'll never forget Joe but any time I feel myself even thinkin' 'bout backslidin', I'll look down at my hand, see, feel, and turn this ring. That memory alone will help get me back where I need to be. It will keep me on the straight and narrow path and then I'll remind you. We have to stay straight, Kid! We have to get our amnesty, for Joe's sake. We have to get these prices OFF OUR HEADS! I don't ever want another person to die because of us."
"We will Heyes, we will. Let's just get to Touchstone and clear our names first."
"Yeah Kid. We definitely have to clear our names and fast. Then maybe we can get a little rest. We've had a rough go of it lately."
"Whew yeah..... you're sure right about that Heyes!"
Once again, they ride in silence as they think about what all they've been through and what is yet to come in Touchstone.