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 Prequel to Barber of Shervill #2 The Claim ... 5,300 words

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PostSubject: Prequel to Barber of Shervill #2 The Claim ... 5,300 words   Prequel to Barber of Shervill #2 The Claim ... 5,300 words EmptyThu Feb 09, 2017 6:19 am

The Claim
(The Fourth Haff & Wong Tale) 
by Cal
The story continues straight after Divine Depression.......
The next day, in the same field
“How much further down have we got to dig, Heyes?” 
Kid is stripped to the waist, his chest gleaming with sweat in the late morning sun.  I’ll just let you take a minute.  Heyes, with tell-tale sweat patches adorning, what must have been his once white Henley, is sitting out, taking a well-earned drink from a canteen.  
Kid rests his arms on the top of the pick he’s been wielding to catch his breath, running his gloved fingers through the beginnings of a scrabbly beard on his chin.  Heyes, whose own beard is well in, looks at the small impression they’ve made in the hard ground, all signs of cairn and cross are long gone.
“It’s a lot harder than I reckoned Kid. That drought’s set the ground like iron.” He takes a long look back to the bunk house. “Just concentrate on making the hole this shape…” Heyes demonstrates with his hands. “I’m going to go talk to that friendly foreman …see if he’s got any dynamite.”
Kid nods, but saves his breath for more digging.
Over a week later – a small supply station at the foot of the no-longer distant mountains
Heyes and Curry are preparing to leave.  They’ve got everything they need from the supply station, packed onto two fine horses and a mule, and they still have some money in their pockets.  Kid has even bought himself a dime novel called… 
‘Kid Curry and the Ride from the Gates of Hell; is Kid faster than the Devil himself?’
                                                                  …to read, because he feels they can afford, it and he likes the picture of himself looking very handsome on the front cover.  
I’m sorry to report, they are both very hirsute, and filthy, from all the digging and controlled explosions. Kid was beginning to look kinda wild and scary, and children were starting to hide from him.  Heyes has told him that’s a good thing, as that’s what people expect a water witch to look like; gave them confidence in him.  Helped getting them jobs.  Kid was not convinced.
After the success of that first well, (yes, they actually found water) the word had gone round that a ‘Wyoming Water Witch’ was in the area. They’d had no trouble at all working their way across the plain.  After that first time, they went straight to dynamite for the bulk of the digging, after all explosives were a thing Heyes knew a little something about.   They’d found water on two other ranches and a sizable homestead.  
Kid still wasn’t sure how he was doing it, but he’d picked fights with several more fence posts, a barn door, a couple of Joshua trees and a scarecrow.  Heyes told himself that he didn’t want to jinx their luck, by explaining too much to Kid, and giving him anything to think about. Truth be told of course, the genius didn’t know how it had worked either, but it had fed them, and got them well paid.  
When the locals, drinking in the last chance saloon at the back of the supply post, saw them buying panning gear, they felt beholden enough to these two bringers of water to share some sage advice about which way they should head next. 
“You might take up old Ira’s claim.” One of the Old Timers said. “Fever took him this spring, but I heard he brought down two full sacks o’ dust from that claim ‘o his.  I’m sure a coupl’o young bucks like you, could make a go of it.  I could even draw you a bit o’a map if you like, but I don’t think you’ll need it.  That’s ol’ Ira’s mule you’ve bought.  The dog’ll take you straight to the claim.”
Heyes had attracted the attention of a small mangy black dog, with one pale eye, since arriving at the supply post, it now waited patiently by the pack mule. “We didn’t buy no dog.” He smiled.
“Ira’s ol’ dog. She’s a might attached to that mule. She’ll be going with you alright, but you’ll have to shoot her for the winter.  She’s deaf as a post and don’t bark a lick; not worth the feeding.”
Heyes looked at Kid, who shrugged, seemed the dog was going too.
“You be sure and come back this way again won’t you, if you hear we got ourselves another drought.” called the storekeeper as they set off. 
“And remember, take any dust you find over to Denver,” called the Old Timer “That’s where you’ll git the best price for’t.”
Couple of days into the mountains
Kids eyes were closed.  Just resting them.  The trail was narrow and the horses kept to a steady climbing pace following the dog without need of encouragement.  The horses were good.  They’d been able to afford the pick of the herd, even the mule seemed happy to follow along.  It felt like they had the whole mountain range to themselves; the first day out, they’d passed a pair of surly looking youths coming down off the mountains, but since then, no one. 
Kid took a deep breath of mountain air and sighed it out contentedly.  He was well fed, and well pleased with himself.  Somehow, he’d done something, that had got them a stake and set them up for some prospecting.  He wasn’t ever going to like being called a witch, and he didn’t like the way those children at the last homestead had hidden from him, but he had to admit, Heyes had been right,
                                                   …he was, 
He smiled at his own thoughts, and was just taking in another deep breath to start a song, when he felt Heyes’ horse push past his leg and interrupt his general bonhomie.  That’s when he noticed…
“Hey!  Where did you get that?” he shouted at Heyes’ back. 
Heyes was sporting a hideous, huge, red-checked shirt over his usual trail gear. It’s a wonder he didn’t spook the horses.
“Where did I get it? It was poking out of your saddlebag.” Heyes laughed. “Gotta say Kid.  I know we’re both looking a little rustic, but I don’t think it’s your colour!” 
“Get it off Heyes!  It ain’t mine…leastways I didn’t want to have it…” Kid looked more embarrassed than annoyed, “…she insisted I take it.  Would ‘o been rude to say no...” Kid can’t help himself but smirk, at his daft cousin, acting up in the ridiculous shirt.  
Seems Heyes is in a good mood too.
“Who? Whoever she was …she couldn’t have liked you very much!” Heyes screwed up his face, holding the shirt out like wings.
“While you were behind the schoolhouse, reading about witchin’, I was hiding out behind the church. I figured the law wouldn’t go up there.  Well there was this bin o’ old clothes. We didn’t have no money for bandages and …all that law around …one of us could’ve been shot…  I saw this white shirt, so I thought, I’d rip it up  …you know, …just in case …save our shirts!”
“And?” grinned Heyes, sensing there was more to this tale than Kid was letting on.
“And, I got caught!” Kid grimaced “By the pastor’s wife …She thought I was a charity case…” Heyes smirked. “Insisted I should have a meal …with the church ladies…” 
Kid’s voice was getting quieter and quieter. 
“They said I …could have a bath if I liked …change my clothes …I said I didn’t have time …but they insisted …not the bath thing …that I take a change o’ shirt …for when I did have time…”  
Heyes’ chuckling is getting louder as Kid’s discomfit grows.  
“Shut up Heyes” grins Curry.

There is a distant jangle of harness, the faintest sound of hooves.

“Shut up Heyes!” Hisses Kid, suddenly all business. He climbs out of the saddle and hands Heyes his reins un-holstering the Colt.  
Heyes quietly takes their horses and mule on up the trail towards the deaf dog and finds some large rocks to leave them all behind.  
“Shhhhh!” he tries, finding himself talking to the dog.  Then he climbs the small canyon wall to where his partner is just removing his hat to take a look over the rim.  
Kid signals to keep down and stay very quiet.  He crouches and mouths, ‘someone’s coming’.  He silently checks the drum of the colt for bullets.  They can both hear someone scrambling up the other side of the hill towards them.  Heyes pantomimes grabbing the offender’s feet and Curry pointing his gun at the poor unfortunate.  
It’s gone very quiet.  
They risk a look up at the rim and see a pair of moccasin-ed feet, attached to buckskin clad legs.  They continue to lift their eyes till they see a familiar face looking down at them with incredulity. The partners breathe out a synchro sigh of relief.
“What are you doing here?” whispers Haff accusingly, it had taken him a minute to see passed the hair and the filth. “And what are you wearing Heyes?”
A loud commanding voice, speaking very slowly, as though talking to a particularly slow witted person, demands “Well …WHAT …CAN …YOU …SEE? HORSES? MEN?”
Haff rolls his eyes, looking a bit caught out and embarrassed, he signals with a hidden hand for the boys to keep down out of sight. “NO, IT WAS ROCKSLIDE….NO BIGGUM OUTLAWS HERE… BUT SEE WATER …HORSES NEED WATER” he proclaims pointing off behind him.
Heyes and Curry cover their mouths to stop them smirking at Haff’s attempts to sound more Indian. 
Haff sees their shaking shoulders and looks a might annoyed that they’re not treating this as the crisis it is.   “HAFF GO SCOUT …FOR HEYES AND CURRY …MARSHALL” he calls over his shoulder “YOU …TAKE HORSES TO WATER.” Yeah …that stopped the shaking shoulders he noted with satisfaction. 
And with that he jumps over the rim to crouch next to the partners.  They all wait till the sound of the other horses had receded.  Then Haff grabs a hunk of two shirt fronts and spits.  “Why you here? They’re looking for you …They’ve been looking for you for weeks now!”
“Errrm….” Kid’s got nothing.
”They think you’re getting careless, will be easy to catch, now you aren’t robbin’ anymore…Think you reckon the laws forgotten about you.”
Heyes is a bit embarrassed to be caught by that shirt.
“They’ve already decided to take you in dead …no trial that way…no outcry from the public…”
“What puplic? What outcry?” Heyes scowls.
“You’re very popular with everyone now!” Haff thought about this for just a second.  “Well …accept railways and banks of course …it’s all them dime novels everyone’s reading …Even Munton’s son thinks Kid’s some kind of hero…”
Kid smiled a big cheesy grin at Heyes.  
Haff shook his head in disbelief.  “I thought if I brought them up here …you’d be miles away by now!” 
“Well we thought they’d stick to the town’s …We were in Ten Strike, and Whatsville and Planesville and Newtown and…well all over down there!” 
Haff lets go of the shirts, looking disgusted.  “I know… we’ve been to all those places …and more…They recruited me in Ten Strike …We were one town behind you all the way …that’s why I suggested you’d head for the hills, in case you stayed somewhere more ‘n one day! …I didn’t think you’d be stupid enough to actually be here!”
After dark, a cold camp later that night
“Won’t they be wonderin’ where you are Haff?” asks Kid, as Haff walks into their camp, sits down to pat the dog, looking around for the fire that isn’t there.
“No.” Haff starts pushing rocks into a circle. “Cold ain’t it?” He says, trying to encourage Heyes and Curry to give him a hand.  
Heyes places a hand on Haff’s arm. “We can’t light a fire.  Thanks to you …these hills are crawlin’ with law!” 
Kid shudders at his words, or it could have been cold I suppose.
“Huh?” Haff fixes the ex-outlaw leader with a disbelieving smirk.  “I took them miles …over there …I got them bedded down in a circle of rocks by a stream …even if they were awake they wouldn’t see nothin’.”
“What about their guards?” whispers Curry, loudly.  “Don’t tell me they think their trailing Kid Curry and the other fella, and they haven’t set guards!”
Haff has a huge smile on his face.  “They set a guard …I’m the guard…” he gets up to fetch dry scrub for a fire “I think they think Indians don’t need sleep.  They were all snorin’ when I left…”
“Why are you doin’ this Haff?” Curry didn’t add the ‘to us’ he was thinking.
“It’s cold, I need coffee.” Haff dropped the brush in the circle of stones.
Heyes groans, Haff was good at avoiding answering difficult questions. “Leading the law on our trail!” he spat.
“You wanted someone else trailing you?” Haff asked “They wanted Apache George, but he was back with his family…a death I think...” Haff smiled. “Wong said, they can’t tell one dumb Indian from another…They were looking for an Apache scout…They found one.” 
Haff could tell the partners weren’t impressed.
“Wong paid two boys to come up here and lay a false trail, so I could lead the Marshall up into these hills, after we’d done the rounds of all the towns you’d been seen in.  He thought they’d give up when the trail went cold.  That was two days ago.  They didn’t. That smiling Marshal must be real mad about his son favouring the Kid…”
“Wong paid some boys to lead the law up here!” Heyes rolled his eyes in incredulity. “Why?”
Haff looked a bit embarrassed. 
“Wong and Wheat wanted the law to stay out of town …so they could …rob the bank….” 
Curry joined Heyes in the eye rolling.  
“They didn’t know you were up here… Wheat said it’s the last place you’d be … ‘cause you like your soft beds too much…” Haff came to a faltering stop as he watched malice rise in Heyes’ eyes.
“Wheat!” Heyes throws the rock he’s been nursing to ping off the side of the canyon wall. “Wheat knows nothin’ about our lives since we went fer amnesty …Do we look like we got soft beds to lie in!” 
Heyes suddenly looks murderous. 
“Wait a minute…Did Wheat tell the law …that we’d been seen round that town?”  Kid suddenly looks very dangerous too…
“No!” Haff reaches for the dog, and puts her between himself and the understandably rather upset ex-outlaws. “That was the deputy in Planesville…”  
Haff points a hand towards Kids gun. 
“He said he’d never seen nothin’ like your fast draw …‘cept maybe Kid Curry …He put it together after you’d hopped that freight to Newtown…”  
Haff turned to light the fire, throwing over his shoulder “…so you tipped off the law, not Wheat!” Haff had the fire going. “You got a coffee pot?”
The partners are staring at Haff, not sure if they should still be mad at him or not, it’s confusing.  And the dog, that had started whining when things got heated, was wagging its tail and trying to make them all friends again.
“Yeah” says Heyes getting up to fetch the pot “And I’ll show you a map of where we’re headed, and you can take the Law .... somewhere else ...OK?” 
“And we better not be reading that we robbed that bank down there…” Curry added rubbing the top of the dog’s head.
“Oh, I won’t be going back to the Marshall.  He can find someone else to bark at.  Robberies over.  Wheat and the boys will be headed back for the Hole.  Wong wants me to head straight out for his supplies.  I should have left already…” says Haff filling the coffee pot. 
When he looks up he finds two very dangerous faces very close to his own.
“You led ‘em up here.” Says Heyes. 
“So you’re gonna lead ‘em down again.” Finishes Curry. 
The dog whines.


Two days later on the other side of the hills by a clear water stream
“This has to be it” proclaims Heyes looking up from the Old Timers map to the small half stone half wood shack built under the face of a cliff.  The dog is barking for the first time.  “This has to be good ol’ Ira Two-sacks’ claim.  Looks like a real nice, quiet peaceable spot for two ex-outlaws to do some prospecting. What do you think Kid?” 
Kid takes in the small corral and lean to for the horses and the lean-to barn on the shack with a good stock of old looking fire wood, and nods approval. “Yep, this could work…for us …I’d say for a couple o’ months …See if we can’t fill a couple o’ them sacks for ourselves.  Let’s take a look at that bend in the stream up there.”
In short order they’ve approved the quality of the stream bed and bank, as worth the pain in the back to extract dust, and evicted the inhabitants of the shack’s chimney, by lighting a fire.  They get busy bringing in their provisions and righting upturned furniture. Something tells me dusting is going to have to wait a while. 
The next morning finds them up to their knees and elbows in freezing water, heads bent over gold pans. The boys have done this before, and quickly, flakes are being accumulated in thin kid skin sacks. Every now and then, the partners look up to smile at each other in comradery; the conditions are brutal, but they think the reward will be worth it. 
“What you doin?” asks Haff, patting the silent, deaf guard dog with a smile. Both partners lose their panful of grit in shock.
“What are we doin?  What are you doing here? And where’s the law?” shouts Heyes annoyed Haff had sneaked up on them, again.
“Have they followed you here?” shouts Curry throwing his pan at the bank in disgust.
“Not me.“ smiles Haff enigmatically, unperturbed by the threats. “The Marshal was gonna sack me couple of days ago …I heard him saying when I got back close to their camp …weren’t gonna pay me neither …because I abandoned my guard post…” He looked quizzically at the two men in the water, with trouser legs and shirt sleeves rolled up, and frowned. “What are you doing?”
“Never mind that. “ Heyes looked exasperated “Where’s the Law now?” 
“You’re …leading them right here…” Haff stated matter of factly pointing at the two men stood in the stream, and starting to shiver. “I didn’t go back into camp that night I lit you a fire. But I kept an eye on them for you.  Without a scout, they decided to go back down to town.  But on the way down …they picked up a fresh trail …your trail …said they didn’t need no dumb Indian to follow a trail as clear as that…” Haff picked up a stone and skimmed it narrowly missing Curry. “ I already knew where you was headed, so I came straight here to warn you…”
“What? They’re comin’ here? Why didn’t you say? How long we got?” Curry is rushing for the shore, grabbing Haff by the arm and striding for the cabin, before Heyes has had time to throw his pan to ping off the rock where Haff was standing just moments before.
“Half a day…” squeals Haff, half running, half being dragged in Curry’s wake.
“Wait a minute Kid…Just think about this for one second will yer!” pleads Heyes. 
Kid is maniacally packing their stuff, pulling things, tins off shelves and filling sacks and saddlebags.  They’ve been hungry enough recently to know the value of their supplies. Haff is nursing his bruised arm by the fireplace, watching the show. “They get here and what do they see? Two wild looking prospectors, on a registered claim. They’ll be looking for outlaws…”
“They know what we look like Heyes…Come on …pack!” Kid is frantic. “That’s Munton out there Heyes. Remember him? …he smiles a lot…. I’ve had my fill o’ smilers!” 
Haff is nodding at Kid.
“They only think they know what we look like, Kid” argues Heyes “Munton knows us from Denver …straight after the First National job …that was what? Six years ago! We were in that fancy cat house remember? Louden …he saw us in a dark alley, behind the bank in Red Fort… and that deputy said he knew us, ‘cause he was on a train we once robbed, when he was a boy! That means only Brewer’s had a good look at us any time recently, when we was in his jailhouse. But even then, we were looking …well …clean…shaved …like they expect to see Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.” Heyes picks up Kids book and waves the front cover under Kids nose.  “Like in these damn Dime novels!” 
Heyes looked sheepishly at Haff, who was also nodding agreement with Heyes. 
“I hate to admit it, but I think Wong has a point.  People see what they want to see Kid …and right now …we don’t look anything …like us!”
Haff has a big smile on his face, nodding at both of them.  Curry doesn’t. He’s about to start arguing again when the sound of approaching horses freezes the blood in his veins.  He shoots Haff a murderous look.  The dog hasn’t barked, again, and couldn’t care less.  Haff shrugs an apology. He looks out the window briefly. “That’s them.”
“Well, I guess we get to find out whether my theory’s right….”  Heyes swallows the lump in his throat and looks wistfully out of the window himself.  He snorts out a quick breath of resolve and takes a look at himself, removing his gun belt and pulling his shirt out of his pants.  He crosses to the stove and wipes a blackened hand over his eyes and through his hair, making it stand on end even more.  He takes a bucket and throws the water out onto the floor. When he gets back to the door with it, he says “You two stay in here, there’s no need to remind them there’s two of us. I’ll get rid of them…” 
Taking a huge breath …and a huge gamble, he opens the door to make the few strides to the stream to fill the bucket.
“Howdy,“ smiles Marshall Munton at the mountain man bent over the stream filling a bucket.  He got no response.  Probably a bit deaf, a lot of these guys get too close to dynamite.  He raises his voice. “I said Howdy!”
Heyes feigning shock and surprise, leapt in the air, spilling the contents of the bucket on the Marshall.  In a very loud, near incomprehensible and certainly un-writable, dialect of the mountains he screams at the Marshall about sneaking up on folks and scaring them half to death. His eyes are wide and he’s doing his best to hide his perfect white teeth. Finally, he accuses the Marshall of frightening his dog …whose deaf …and don’t bark a lick! 
I think he’s channelling the Old Timer from the supply post.
“Sorry…” apologises the Marshall, wiping himself down with his bandanna, and finding a false smile to plaster back onto his face. “We’re on the trail of a couple of desperate criminals, we thought they may have been headed this way… Err…have you seen anybody pass this way …Sir … outlaws?”
“Outlaws!” screams Heyes “Where?  Where are they?   They after my gold?” He looks around with wide eyes like they may be trying to sneak up behind him. “They can’t have it! They can’t have it! That why you’re here?….” He accuses the smiling Marshal “…You after my gold?”
“No …no we’re not. Errrm ….Sir?” Munton takes a second to take in this mad, hairy, filthy ape he’s addressing as Sir, and looks a little pained. “Have any men …ridden by here …in the last two days?” he says slowly. 
Heyes makes thinking faces …for a very long time.  He sees the Marshal is about to give up on waiting for an answer and say something else, and at that moment Heyes jumps in with his much considered answer “No.”
The other lawmen have come up to join the Marshall by the stream, including Sheriff Brewer.  Heyes bends his back a little more under the weight of that stare from Brewer.  His heart is pounding in his chest.  He needs to get out from under that scrutiny, so he starts dancing around and shouting at the Marshal that if there’s outlaws about, then he’ll need protection, that the lawmen will have to stay at his claim and protect his gold. 
“There’s two good horses in that corral over there Munton…” opines Brewer suspiciously.
“Them’s ours.” crows Heyes, forgetting he’s supposed to be deaf. “We can afford the best! We just got back with the summer supplies.”
“We?” Munton smiles.
“My partner an’ me… we gots this claim …We ain’t claim jumpers! No Sir! …Me an’ Seamus got it all done legal!” Heyes is wide eyed madman again, but his mountain man is slipping into Grandpa Curry’s Irish.
“And where is Seamus …Sir?” Munton asks loudly, reminding Heyes he’s meant to be hard of hearing.  He looks at the men in turn but it’s hard for him to judge if any of them have noticed his slip …lawmen always look suspicious to Heyes.
“Sleepin’…We had us a party see…” He grins maniacally “Got us some good corn whiskey at the supply post …and we might have had … a might too much to drink…” 
The giggling that followed would not have been out of place in an episode of the Beverly Hill Hillbillies. 
“Yeah …If you could just keep your voices down…” shouts Heyes “ …he’s sure to be sleepin’ it off.”
“Munton, this isn’t getting us anywhere.” Says Louden “I told you them tracks were too new, to be Heyes an’ Curry…”
“Heyes an’ that gunslinger!” screams Heyes “Where? Where are they?” He’s looking around himself again.
The deputy came back from where he’d been inspecting the two horses in the corral.  “Them’s the two we were tracking; I’d put money on it.  Looks like we did need that fool Indian after all. Shame he went and got hisself killed.”
“Killed?” Heyes’ voice was way too close to his normal voice, he realised, and quickly covered “Whose killed? Who? Indians? Where are the Indians?”
A genuine smile lit up Munton’s face for the first time. 
“Oh we can finally add murder to the charge sheets on them two, see what that does to their popularity…Never murdered anyone…huh! Well, we got proof, that can be corroborated by four serving law officers, that Heyes and Curry have now murdered …our Indian scout …Apache George.”
This was a pronouncement more to his fellow lawmen than to Heyes. They all nodded and grinned at the prospect; murderers could be brought in dead, with very few questions asked.  It was also heard by the inhabitants of the shack. Kid and Haff weren’t grinning.
Heyes was struck dumb by the news that he and Kid were now wanted for murder, he dropped to his knees by the stream and started to refill the bucket to give himself time to think.  He’d have to prove George …Haff …was still alive, with himself as the witness. He hadn’t put it passed these law men to shoot Haff themselves if it meant they could pin murder on him and the Kid. 
With his back to the lawmen he scanned the area for signs of Haff’s paint pony, where had he left her? He sent a pleading look towards the shack.  At that moment the cabin door burst open and Haff flew through the air to land in a swearing heap on the dusty ground.  He was followed by a huge Irish grizzly bear of a man, sporting a hideous red-checked shirt and swearing enough to shame a parish priest. 
“And don’t you be coming here again, with your drinking and your heathen shenanigans. Taking of a man’s whiskey, yer not fit company for man nor beast!” Kids blue eyes were wide and wild, his hair stood on end and his face more soot than skin.  The shirt was straining over his sheepskin coat and made him look as wide as an ox.  He suddenly appeared to notice the company, and in a thick Irish accent called to Heyes “What are you after doing now Patrick…you’ve not fetched the feelth to the Indian hav’ yer …you know you can’t be after locking up wild animals!” 
With that he slammed the door shut again.  Haff stood up, brushed himself off and walked slowly, if a little drunkenly passed the lawmen. 
“Marshal. Hic!” he whispered, rubbing his face as he passed Munton.  
He walked on down the trail for all the World like he intended to carry on walking down the rest of the mountain.  Heyes smiled as all the lawmen followed Haff’s unsteady progress.  They turned as one back to look at Heyes and then stared at the cabin as a rousing Irish Ballard started up from within. 
“Will you be staying to protect our claim, from the murdering outlaws, Marshall?” asked Heyes with his best, mountain man with a touch of the Irish, accent.  
He took his full bucket and started walking back to the shack.
“No Patrick …no we won’t…” The marshal answered quietly; he sounded defeated. The smile was absent. He stared to where Haff had been walking but there was no sign of the Indian anymore.  “I think we’ll be headed back to Ten strike…” 
He walked his tired horse back down the trail and Heyes thought he heard some relieved sighs from the rest of the party as they turned to follow.
Heyes stood with his back to the shack door, clutching the bucket of water to his chest waiting for his heart to stop banging on his rib cage.  Kid, still singing, was pacing the shack like a caged tiger checking the colt for bullets over and over again. He kept eye contact with Heyes and was shaking his head, sending a wordless threat …my best guess would be …’We’re never going to try that again.’
There was a polite knock on the door. Heyes jumped, sending the water from the bucket over the Kid and Kid, swearing fit to shame mother superior, looked at his soaked gun with murder in his wild eyes.  He raced to the door, pushed Heyes roughly aside, threw the door open and grabbed Haff round the throat. 
“What could you possibly want now?!?” he spat.
Haff reached up and removed Kid’s hands from his throat, walked across to the table where his knife was standing, dug into the surface.  Pulled it out, dropped it into the scabbard between his shoulder blades and straightened his neck.  He glared at Kid, then at Heyes, and without a word stalked out of the small building slamming the door.
The partners looked at each other, a mute conversation, followed by huge sighs.  Heyes pulled the door open and they tried going through together, pushing at each other to stand in front of the small building. “Haff!” they called in unison.
The small Indian turned to face them expecting another tirade.
“We got some good corn whiskey from that supply station.” States Heyes.
“Want to help us empty the bottle?” asks Kid.
A huge grin springs up on Haff’s face as all three head back to the shack.

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Prequel to Barber of Shervill #2 The Claim ... 5,300 words
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