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 Long Road Back - part Thirteen - Wheat from the Chaff - 4500words

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Long Road Back - part Thirteen - Wheat from the Chaff - 4500words	 Empty
PostSubject: Long Road Back - part Thirteen - Wheat from the Chaff - 4500words    Long Road Back - part Thirteen - Wheat from the Chaff - 4500words	 EmptyFri Feb 17, 2017 5:28 am


The Long Road Back
(Haff & Wong seven)
By Cal

Part Thirteen
Wheat from the chaff

Heyes held up his hand to stop the party, his mare swaying her backside to and fro with excitement, pushing at Weaver’s grey, lodged solidly between the chestnut and Kid’s black.  Kid stared across the plane below them.

“There!” he called, pointing.  “It’s a big posse… Come on!”

The horses plunged down the rough scree to the valley bottom kicking up a lot of dust.  

“They’ll know they’ve got someone to chase now!” shouted Lom.

“And they’ll see that at the Hole” shouted back Heyes. “Ain’t going to be looking to closely at us!”

Mr Wong closed his eyes and preyed, as his horse's head disappeared over the precipice, and the other horses closed in around him.  He hung on to the saddle horn with all his strength.  As his horse flattened out at the bottom of the drop, it sprang into a full gallop, pushing off the hillside to race its piers. Seemed docility was no indicator of speed; before long, Mr Wong found himself at Heyes, Weaver and Kid's heels. 

Haff held tight to the reins of the spare horses and rode up close on to the two ahead, breathing down the necks of the terrified teens.  As the Devil’s throat came into view, he raised his rifle above his head with a terrible war cry, that chilled the boy’s hearts as they sped on in the leader’s Wake.

Kyle, Lom and the Bounty Hunter whooped and hollered pushing the spare horses before them as they thundered over the plain to disappear into the narrow canyon that marked the gateway to Devils Hole itself. Distant shots rang in their ears from the approaching posse.  

Rifle fire from the cliffs soon answered the posse’s salvos, as the returning outlaws flew with ease through the maze of canyons making up the Devils throat.

Heyes put his Schofield in the air, firing three quick shots as they galloped passed Dead Man’s Point.  More answering shots from the cliffs put pay to any pursuit now sounding a gratifyingly long distance behind.   Just a few persistent rifle, and even a few pistol shots, could still be heard from the posse.  The Sheriff of Columbine and his wary citizens would know not to come into range of the outlaw’s rifles.  After all, they’d done this one or two times before.

Kid found the blind spot.  Funny this gully had given him nightmares in the past.  The base of the gully wasn’t visible from any of the surrounding vantage points.  It was the perfect place to pull up and quickly take stock.

“Heyes?” he called, “How we doing this?”

“Haff, take all the spare horses on. Mr Wong, you take the boys and drive the horses from behind.  Make plenty of noise, plenty of dust and plenty of distraction …shout real loud …as how you’re all rich …millions in gold!”

The teens nodded enthusiastically, which met with a wry smile from an exhausted Heyes. He was barking the orders as quickly as he could. 

“Don’t get off your horses, and don’t let anyone get a good look at you…. ride right on through …NOW GO!”

He took his own horse to one side of Weaver, pushing in real close. “Kid you get on the other side …and try to lose about fifty pounds…”

“What?!” shouted Kid.

“Well their Kid Curry was kinda scrawny looking” laughed Heyes.  

“Well you should act a little shorter …and I could try knocking one of your teeth out … if you think it would help?” smiled an adrenaline fuelled Kid, sarcastically.

“Come on.  We’ll make it look like Weaver got back in one piece, see if we can flush out this Crease.  KYLE, be ready to create some loud diversions as soon as anyone suspects we might not be us…” continued Heyes, ignoring Kid’s suggestion.

“Be a real pleasure Heyes…” Kyle was already following Haff joining in the hollering.


“Don’t worry ‘bout us Heyes …we both know what Crease looks like…”  called Lom.

“And he’s wanted Dead or Alive!” shouted the Bounty Hunter.

They took off after Kyle waving their hats and shooting off a few rounds.

“That was real lucky Heyes …Timing was perfect!” enthused Kid. 

“Yes it was lucky, wasn’t it? ...Kinda like an omen” remarked Heyes, eyes wide in revelation.  “We’re on the right path Kid …We’re gonna find Wheat!”

“OMEN?” laughed Kid.  “Of course we’re on the right path Heyes …you were in here only a few months ago! … Now COME ON, Let’s go … Ready boss?” asked Kid pushing Weaver’s hat down so far on his head, the short plaited stampede strings tucked under his chin thus keeping his gagged mouth firmly shut.

“We gotta find Wheat! YEEHAH!”


Wheat sat in the leader’s cabin eyeing the youngest and only surviving member of the Platt brothers with disdain.  His hands and feet were tied to the chair.  He’d been sat that way so long his backside was numb.

Crease had been running a skinning blade over the backs of his fingers, picking at his nails and muttering to himself most of that time.  Well, Wheat had heard him using the names Django and Wolf now and then, but in truth, nothing Crease said had made any sense.  He’d even mumbled something about getting even with Trevors?

Wheat suspected Crease was more than a little touched in the head. 

Crease was an unhappy soul.  It had been his idea for the Platt brothers to ride into Devils Hole to join Weaver's gang.  Django, his older brother had once ridden with Weaver, and had filled Crease’s head with glory about the old days.  They were going to have a high old time and make plenty of money.

‘But Django had to get himself caught …by Trevors … for killing that farmer’ brooded Crease. ‘I got rid of the wife and young ‘uns, so there’d be no witnesses.  She was pretty… so they couldn’t hang him.  Wolf was useless after that.  Hid in a bottle.’ 

Crease snarled his disapproval, sending the knife plunging into the table top.  

Wheat eyed his jailer warily.  He could see the man was building to something.  He pushed at the loose floorboard under his feet, making it squeak, and wondered if the time had come to try and bargain for his life.

“And Django was no better,” went on Crease in an unintelligible mutter.  “Getting all riled up over Trevors.  He had to go …put him in his place.  Well where’d that get him?  Dead was where! Left me, with a busted arm, to come crawling into Devils Hole …like a beggar.  Well I’ll show ‘em.  I’ll show ‘em all.  They’re all gonna respect Crease Platt …after this.’

Crease looked across at the ex-gang leader tied to his chair on the other side of the table, throwing all his hurt and hate into that mustachioed face, working up the nerve to unleash his inner demons.  

‘He’d done it once before …here…’ He stroked the knife's blade. 

'No one had come near him since.  They were all away now, run away from him, out on the job or high up on the cliffs on lookout for the gang’s return.  

None of them could stand to be in his company.'  

Crease growled at the shadows cowering in the corners of the cabin.  

Weaver had shouted one last order as he’d left.  

“If I don’t get back here with the gold …kill Carlson …and make it SLOW!”

'Well he would. He’d show Weaver.  He’d show everyone.'  

He twirled the knife, rising from his chair and licking at his dry lips… 

Wheat swallowed.  
     You could hear a pin drop.  
            If there was ever a time to try bargain for his life… 
                                                                                    This was it…


The loud hollering from the yard shocked both the inhabitants of the Devils Hole Leader's cabin. Wheat jumped. He was already leaning backwards as far as he could.  His feet pushed him backwards so the chair hit the cabin floor.  Crease ran to the window, to see horses and dust circling the yard.  That screaming Collins was hollering, 


And firing a rifle up into the sky.  

Moondance was lighting a fuse from the back of his Dun mare, shouting 


He raced on through the yard, followed by more horses and men. A loud explosion sent an old outhouse skywards, followed by a couple of storage sheds, and the well.

Crease got the door open in time to see Weaver, and those two idiot gun-heads of his, come crashing into the rail at the front of the Leader's cabin.  A couple more of the gang pulled up behind, all jumping down and congratulating themselves loudly, slapping dust, and firing off pistols.

The two gun-heads ran up onto the boards and grabbed one of Crease’s arms each, pulling him back inside the cabin.  Before he knew what was happening, ‘Kid Curry’ had dug a gun into his ribs, and ‘Hannibal Heyes’ had removed his gun and skinning knife, and thrown them out of the shattered window. 

“Who are you?” he screamed, fighting to free himself.

“Heyes …Kid!” shouted Wheat from the floor.  

Crease‘s eyes went wide in awe. “The real ones?!” he said sounding stunned.

Kyle rushed in hollering that the rest of the gang were sure to be following that parade up the throat, to celebrate their riches, and would be here in seconds.  He pulled Wheat back to the vertical, and as quick as he was untying Wheat’s bonds, Heyes was using the same leather to tie up Crease.

“Come on!” hollered Haff from outside.  “We gotta move!”

Heyes and Kid got Crease outside and back to the horses, leaving Kyle to get Wheat moving. All the horses had come back to the yard; preferring to be with Haff and Wong, who’d sensibly stayed in his saddle, than to be anywhere near Kyle’s explosions. Lom and the Bounty Hunter ran out of the bunk house to confirm it was empty.  

Grabbing reins, Kid threw first Heyes, then Crease onto the chestnut mare, Heyes in flight before the outlaw hit his lap.  Lom and the Bounty Hunter tore off after Haff and Wong, who’d joined the teens following Heyes.  The Bounty Hunter was pulling Weaver's mount in his wake, encouraged to a gallop by Kid hat flapping its rear.  

Kid quickly gathered his own horse, and hollering to Wheat and Kyle, who were still in the leaders cabin to “MOVE IT!”  He was soon just a pair of heels in the dust storm kicked up by the others, as he too left the yard at full gallop.  

Bringing up the rear were a madly smiling Kyle, lighting yet another fuse, and a very relieved Wheat, also looking extremely pleased.  They both hollered how they were rich, as they jumped up on their mounts and fled the scene.

The rescue party had been at the clearing less than five minutes.  

As they disappeared into the tree line, another big explosion took the roof of the leader's cabin skywards.

“WOOOHEEE!” screamed an over-excited Kyle.

“WOOOOHEEEE!” screamed a smiling, mightily relieved Wheat, as they thundered on to catch the others.

In the only remaining outhouse, Doc, who’d felt he was too old to change his ways and leave Devils Hole when Weaver took over, so had remained as cook and general dogs body, sat with his pants around his ankles, eyes closed, crossing himself and telling anyone who’d care to listen, that he was gonna mend his ways.


Not long after

Both Heyes and Kid were shaking their heads.  Kyle’s explosions seemed to have unclogged their ears.  For the first time since Louvides, Kid’s ears weren’t ringing.  He smiled over to his cousin casually taking the Colt out of its holster to cover Crease.  They’d pulled up just for a second, to let everyone catch up, Heyes dumping Crease onto the floor at his mare’s feet. 

“What do you know? I can actually hear properly…” smiled Heyes.  “That went well…”

“What now?” asked Kid “We’re on the wrong side of the camp for an exit.”

Heyes watched as the others pulled up. The Bounty Hunter and Lom came to collect Crease.  He was un-ceremonially flung across one of the spare horses and tied on by the Bounty Hunter. Lom had taken charge of Weaver and both teens as well.  They now arranged the string of prisoners between them, both waving shotguns and looking threatening.

“How many of the gang know where the cave house is?” called Heyes as the last two joined the party.  Wheat and Kyle took their horses past the others to join Heyes and Kid at the front.  

“None.” Answered Wheat quietly, for Heyes’ ears only.  Luckily Heyes could now hear him clearly.  “Only Kyle and me ever went up there.  Mr Wong thought it would be safer …coz he often had the whole haul up there …before Haff brought it down to the camp.  Less tempting for anyone to think about not sharing.”

“Sensible” agreed Heyes, smiling at the small China man clinging onto the back of his horse looking far from a competent rider, let alone a criminal mastermind. “That’s where we head then.”

“The cave house?” questioned Kid.

“Yep” smiled Heyes.  “You’ll see Kid …lucks with us …it’s our destiny…” Heyes looked gleeful. 

Kid looked suspicious.  He studied his cousin carefully. 

“You been on Mr Wong’s medicine again…?” he asked quietly.

“No!” laughed Heyes.

Kid shook his head

“Well …You given any thought how we gonna get out of here again?  The Hole’s a big place but we can’t hideout forever” he opined quietly.

Heyes screwed up his face, he really didn’t want to ask, but he was gonna have to. 


The diminutive Indian brought his paint closer. 

“How did negotiations go with Lone Wolf and his sons after I left?  Do you think they’d give us safe passage out of Devils Hole, through the Badlands, North?”

Haff’s face was inscrutable.  

“Let’s just get to the cave house, before the rest of Weaver’s gang realise they’ve been had.  We can make our plans there.”


An hour later

Pursuit could be heard in the form of shotgun fire and cursing.  Some of the curses were clear and gaining. Right now speed wasn’t an option.  They were in single file, crossing a high shelf, bordering a sheer drop.  Wheat and Kyle at the front leading the way.  Mr Wong’s eyes were firmly shut, his lips moving in prayer.  He hadn’t liked this narrow passage on his quiet mule, but up here, on the strange horse it was hellish.  Heyes, riding just in front of him, smiled, he thought some banter may relax his traveling companion.

“Kyle, did I see you dynamite the Leaders cabin back there? Might short sighted of you …if you and Wheat are thinking of moving back in.  Place will get mighty cold without a roof.”

“Especially in winter!” laughed Kid.

“But we ain’t never goin'…” Kyle started, twisting in his saddle.

“Shut up Kyle!” ordered Wheat.  

He turned and smiled falsely back at Heyes and Curry, then shot Kyle a look of pure murder.  He changed the subject.

“I think you should be worryin’ about how you’re gonna get us all out of Devils Hole in one piece …. DEPUTY SMITH … ‘stead of worrying ‘bout me and Kyle’s future plans …don’t you!” 

He stepped his big roan off the shelf onto the ridge and turned it to wait the other horses.  Kyle stepped off next, followed by Heyes and Curry.

“Lot of truth in there…” opined Curry quietly, bringing his horse up close to his partner's.  

In all the excitement, they’d both forgotten the Bounty Hunters presence, again.  They looked out to the back of the line where Lom and the Bounty Hunter had Weaver, Crease and the two teens between them.

“He couldn’t hear nothing from there.” opined Heyes.  

Kid looked sceptical. 

“We’re going to have to be more careful…Deputy Smith…” he said simply.

“KYLE!” called Heyes annoyed.  “You got anymore dynamite left?” 

“Yeah… Why?” 

Kyle had been surrounded by Wheat, Wong and Haff, getting an near silent ear bashing. He looked suitably admonished.  He lofted what was left of his stash of the good stuff, glad of the excuse to escape his partner’s temper.

“Blow up that shelf!” ordered Heyes.

“Good idee!” smiled Kyle, eyes twinkling, matches already in hand.

“Unless of course’ve any objections … Wheat? … Mr Wong?” 

Heyes turned an innocent face to Wheat and Wong.  They looked a little annoyed, but shook their heads. 

The party quickly got the horses back down behind the ridge line before Kyle blew the shelf, and it slid down into the trees below, effectively putting an end to any pursuit from the outlaw camp.

“I don’t understand” said the Bounty Hunter.  “Doesn’t that cut us off from our only escape route? These hills are impenetrable from below, so we can’t get down.  They can’t follow, but …we’re trapped up here.”

No one answered.


Half a day’s ride out of the Camp

They were strung out along a high meadow.  Suddenly, the ground fell away below them to a rocky cleft.  Heyes recognised the store cave and the stream, the back entrance to the cave house under its hides.  As he watched, the flaps moved and Flower of Morning waved and smiled.  Haff jumped off his pony and ran to embrace her.

All but Wong looked surprised.

“Mr Wong,” called Heyes, “I think it’s time you told us how things really went after we left you at the Shaman’s camp. Don’t you?”

“Mr Wong,” said Wheat, helping Wong off his horse, “You go in with Deputy Smith and Haff, we’ll take the horses and prisoners on down to the canyon.”

Heyes double checked the ground before he stepped down.  ‘You don’t make that mistake twice’ he thought, and followed Wong down the deer track to the cave house.

That evening

“My Wife” introduced Haff, to anybody he felt hadn’t understood Flower of Mornings status.  He had a ridiculous grin on his face and a spring in his step.  He offered hospitality from the cave house’s stores like Soapy offering dinner at his mansion. 

“How’d he do that?” asked an incredulous Kid, sat with Heyes in the back yard eating hot food provided by Flower of Morning, looking out over the lake.  

“How’d he …give up outlawing …fall in love …take a wife …settle down …all in just a coupla months!  We ain’t even done the first one yet …not officially…” 

He sighed heavily. Heyes shrugged, speechless.

“He’ll be starting a family next…” opined Kid

He stopped grumping long enough to chew.

Heyes stared off to the lake, as if looking for answers, then he turned to look at his partner’s truly confounded face and smiled broadly.

“Yeah, a whole tribe of little …half Haff’s …. all runnin’ around” he laughed.  “Bet Mr Wong never saw that coming…”

He stared off to the lake again, nodding to himself.  

“That’s what you get fer lettin’ yer partner…” 

Heyes looked round into a pair of steel blue eyes and came to a faltering stop.

“That’s what you get …fer lettin’ yer partner …do what? …Heyes” said Kid slowly.

“Make his own err… Find his own err… Decide te…”  

Heyes swallowed.  

“That’s what you get …when a woman gets involved!” he said flatly.

Kid chuckled and shook his head. 

“Let’s just keep workin’ on that first one Heyes.  Do you think we still got a chance at amnesty?”

Heyes was glad of a change of subject. 

“I think we’ve done all we can Kid.  It’s up to Lom and the Governor now.”

“Well Heyes …just promise me one thing.  If the amnesty deal doesn’t work out …and we go back to outlawin’ …promise me …we’ll never hit the Columbine train again!”

“Oh we ain’t never going back to outlawin’ Kid …and I think you may just look more kindly on the Columbine train …when I tell you… I opened the Brooker.”

“You opened the Brooker?” Kid repeated wide eyed. 

“Was the…?”

“$50,000…” smiled Heyes patting the saddlebag on his shoulder.  “Luckily…” he beamed at a private joke, “…they’d wrapped the pay roll in oiled sacks in a lockbox...  It’s like they knew how we were planning to deposit it…” he laughed.

“HEYES!” shouted Kid, covering his mouth to hold in his excitement “We’re set …we got enough to …go anywhere!”

Heyes was glad that Kid hadn’t reminded him the money was stolen.  He’d more or less decided the amnesty was a pipe dream after all the bad press, but he hadn’t shared that thought with the Kid. He decided to just enjoy the moment, and the Kid’s excitement.  

He regaled the Kid with his plans for their future, with much gesturing and laughter, as the setting sun fell.


Below in the grassy canyon at the front of the cave house

Weaver looked around the grassy canyon bottom in the last few rays of the sun.  The horses weren’t far off, if he could get to a horse, he could get away.  Problem was they were trapped. That idiot Moondance had blown up the only route back to the outlaw camp, that sat at the gateway to the Devils Throat, and out.  

‘Maybe these idiots knew another way? Heyes and Curry, well they’d run the Hole for over six years.  They must have found other trails out.’ He thought.

“What’s the use in gagging us” he'd argued with Lom that night, when the gags were off to eat.  “It’s not like anyone’s gonna hear us.  No one can get here from the hole, even if they did hear us. We're trapped in here, same as you."

Lom had relented, what Weaver said was true.  Crease Platt was also left un-gagged.  The two teens were a worry to the big Sheriff.  He didn’t like to see young lives wasted like this. He decided to take them well away from the proven killers, and try and talk some sense into them.  Leaving the Bounty Hunter to watch the men, he took the boys to the camp he and the Bounty Hunter had set up with Deputies Smith and Jones:  Wheat and Kyle being the guests of Haff and Wong in the Cave House above.  

Their names were Sam and Zeb Duncan; brothers.  Their folks were dead and outlawing had fed them. 

Sound familiar.  

Lom decided to work on them, show them honesty was a better way. When Kid and Heyes joined the group by the campfire later that night for coffee, they heard Lom lecturing the boys about a man’s honour.

“Yer see boys, at the end of the day, yer have to be able to look at yourself in a mirror …and know …that what yer done that day ...was the right thing.  You know yer bible, right? Thou shalt not kill …Thou shalt not steal.”

Kid and Heyes saw the boys faces. Remembered that feeling only too well, being lectured about the right thing, whilst feeling cold and hungry, scared and desperate…

“What Lom’s telling you is right…” opined Kid with a friendly conspiratorial smile.  He was in a very good mood.

“Course, that don’t help none if you’re hungry …tired of runnin, and got family to support” finished Heyes, nodding along with their agreement. 

It was obvious to everyone that the boys were brothers, Sam being a scrawnier, younger version of Zeb. Zeb being very protective of Sam.

“Good news is …no matter what you done getting here…” continued Kid smiling, blue eyes twinkling.

“It’s never too late to change” chimed in Heyes, also in ridiculous high spirits.

Lom frowned, studying the cousins shrewdly.

“You boys could start over someplace…” nodded Kid.

“You listen to Sheriff Trevors.  He knows a man can start over…” 

Heyes’ voice had taken on a rich sincere tone of a sage father.

“Start making the right choices.  You never know …where? …they might take you.” 

Kid mirrored the sincerity, sharing the double meaning with his partner.

Lom cleared his throat, throwing the ex-outlaws a slightly annoyed look.

“You may even end up deputies like us.” Heyes put a big smile on his face and sipped at his coffee, beaming at Lom.  Kid beamed too, nodding. 

Lom rolled his eyes.


“You seeing what I’m seeing” sneered Weaver.  “Heyes and the Kid are sure looking cozy over there with your sheriff friend.” 

He was addressing the Bounty Hunter, who was ignoring him.  

“You’re not buying that hogwash about them being his deputies, are you? …Trevors used to be an outlaw hisself…” 

The Bounty Hunters head shot up.  

“Ho ho ho …I see the sheriff’s been playing you like a Stradivarius …You didn’t know that neither …What else ain’t they telling you?” 

Weaver smiled at Crease. 

“Our friend here is holding a gun on $5,000 apiece, while the sheriff over there, drinks his coffee with $20,000 …Our friend here don’t seem too bright, does he?”

“Yeah …and there’s the money Carlson had stashed at the Hole…” added Crease.  

Greed as a motive to persuade someone to choose a side, he could understand. 

“They ain’t told him about that neither! That’ll just be sitting up there in that cave house…”

“What money?” asked Weaver, genuinely shocked and interested.

“The money Carlson and Moondance got stashed from all their robberies … Carlson said their share came to over $50,000 …He was gonna cut me in …if’n I didn’t cut him up, that is…” 

Crease got a nasty faraway look in his eyes 

“Oh, he’d o’ told me where it was …one way or another anyhooo … if’n you hadn’t all come back from the raid when you did… I’d ‘ve had him singing like a canary!”

Weaver had heard Crease say some pretty weird stuff since he’d joined the Hole.  He knew the man wasn’t stable …but he seemed to be lucid enough just now….

“He was bluffing you …” dismissed Weaver searchingly. “The Devils Hole Gang spent all their money like water …everyone knows that.”

“Oh …He wasn’t bluffing,” smiled Crease.  “I can always tell …he was tellin’ the truth … I could smell it …in his sweat.  ‘Sides, he said that it was the only reason he’d let Heyes talk him into coming back to the Hole like that … so he could get his hands on their share without you there… when I saw Moondance blow that shelf …I knew …they must have collected the money already.”

Weaver and the Bounty Hunter had followed this carefully.

“$50,000…” whistled Weaver quietly.  “$10,000 each for Heyes and Curry.  That’s $70,000 dollars American …Woohee! …You still think you’re holding the rifle on the right outlaws, friend?  That’s an awful lot of temptation right there” smiled Weaver cunningly at the Bounty Hunter.  

“You know with our help …you could be looking into a much deeper pot.”

The Bounty Hunter was quiet.  He chewed at the cigar at the corner of his mouth looking back towards the campfire.


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Long Road Back - part Thirteen - Wheat from the Chaff - 4500words
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