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 The Long Road Back - Part Seventeen - to Speak of Many things - 1900 words

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PostSubject: The Long Road Back - Part Seventeen - to Speak of Many things - 1900 words   The Long Road Back - Part Seventeen - to Speak of Many things - 1900 words EmptyFri Feb 17, 2017 5:49 am


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

Part Seventeen 
…to Speak of Many Things

“There they go” whispered Kid watching Weaver and Crease disappear into the trees.

“How’d he train a horse to come to a whistle?” asked Lom sounding more than a little peeved.

“You sure about this Lom? You sure that Bounty Hunter’s worth us hanging back here to find? He told The Kid t’…. You know….” 

Heyes drew a finger across his throat, scrunching up his face in distaste.

“Whatever he said… or would’ve done…” Lom sounded like he’d explained this enough already.  “He saved my life. At the very least … I owe him a decent burial … if that’s all there is left for me to do for him…”

“Burial?” questioned Kid.  “This is Devils Hole Lom …where you planning to dig?”

“Yeah Lom… nothing but grit and rock in here” reasoned Heyes.  “Why do you think these trees look so mean?  They’re resentful is why …coz the Devil didn’t leave no soil!”

“You could have joined that Indian leading them two into the Badlands.  No one asked you to stay back here with me…” 

Lom started marching back up the hill to the camp.

“No.  No.  It’ll take a lot less time if there’s three of us to look” mumbled Heyes, following reluctantly.  “Come on Kid, it’ll be light in about an hour …if we haven’t found him by then …we can always look for circling birds…”

Kid was still looking to the spot their former prisoners had disappeared.  Something wasn’t right and it was bothering him.  He hadn’t seen much really, just shapes and shadows.  Then the white horse.  Sally?! A brief altercation as Weaver tried to get the horse to accept a second rider, then nothing.  

Kid screwed up his face in thought.  ‘What was it that had bothered him?’

“Come on Kid.  Soon as we find that body …soon as we can get out of here.” 

Heyes was stroking the ever-present saddlebag significantly, waving his partner into motion.

“Sure Heyes…” said a distracted Curry, still staring off into the trees.

Heyes saw the worried look on Kid’s face in the predawn light, but he just interpreted it as worry, at seeing the proven killers still at large and riding around.  

He himself was not worried about that. 

He, Kid and Haff, even Lom, knew this place well. Much better than Weaver and Jonny come lately, Crease Platt.  

Haff was leading Weaver and Platt into the maze of treacherous canyons and high glass crags known by all Devils Hole’s occupants, as the Badlands.  It had been named thus after the Badlands of Deadwood, in the Black Hills of Dakota, on the grounds that only half the men that ever entered there, came out alive.  

Heyes smiled grimly. 

‘One horse, no supplies, no guns… they won’t find it easy. But it’s better than letting Kid, or even Haff carry more deaths around on their conscience for the rest of their lives.’

Heyes looked ahead to the tall Texan sheriff still distinctly visible, even though he’d marched quite a long way ahead. The long shadows of early dawn were just starting to spring into existence. 

Heyes narrowed his eyes.

‘Lom, however, did worry him.  What did Lom know about the $50,000 …and just exactly which $50,000 was he calling ... “Oh …that money” ... in that dismissive way… Just what did Lom know about their money?’

Heyes frowned in thought chewing the possibilities around in his head.

Kid unhitched their small string of horses from the nearby bushes and followed Heyes back up the hill through the small scrubby trees, following the stream. He shook his head trying to shake the uncomfortable niggle of doubt out of his brain.  At least he’d get the chance to pack some supplies and bedrolls for the trek out of here, and he didn’t really want to leave the Bounty Hunters body out for the wolves even if he was a killer.  He had saved Lom’s life.


“Over here” called Kid. 

He pointed, as the other two ran up to join him.  Heyes and Lom followed his gloved finger to a white hand, just visible in the first true light of dawn between the scrubby trees.  

The search hadn’t taken long at all.  

They looked at each other, each preparing their empty stomachs for the grisly scene that was bound to greet them as they rounded the tree.

There was plenty of blood soaked down the front of the Mexican blanket.  The Bounty Hunter was sat at the base of the tree, his head forward on his chest, his arms outstretched to either side.  A large stone rested under his right hand, a hefty stick under his left.

“Well …there he is Lom…” Kid squatted to stare at the grisly scene but didn’t like to touch.  He stood and looked around at the unforgiving ground.  “How do you want to do this? I can go fetch a blanket if you like…” 

Kid didn’t wait for an answer.  He started back to the cave house cliff where he’d stowed the guns in the Bounty hunter’s blanket.  There wasn’t going to be a burial.  Best they could do was wrap the body and cover it with rocks.

Heyes watched Kids receding back. 

Lom hadn’t spoken. 

Neither one of them had approached the body.

“Why d’you bring him in on this Lom?” asked Heyes cagily, staring down at the blood. “Did you think you’d need a killer …to take me and The Kid in? Were you hoping he’d shoot us …so you didn’t have to.”

Lom scowled. Heyes’ words were too much a mirror of his own thoughts. That might have been true at the beginning but…

“I didn’t bring him in,” he spat tersely.  “I ditched him when I arrested Wheat and Kyle …at the Old Horsehead mine outside Harris town …He was trailing The Kid remember?” 

Lom gave Heyes a look that told him he was never getting a straight answer to his question. 

“So The Kid brought him in!”

“Well …we’ll let Kid say a few words over him then shall we…” smirked Heyes shaking his head sadly.  He could see the answer to his question, plain as day, in Lom’s eyes.


Lom looked angry at Heyes’ obvious understanding of his former dilemma.  He wasn’t really ready to examine his own motives in any of this at close quarters yet and he didn’t relish Heyes doing it for him.  

“You made him part of your plans Heyes.  And you’re the one that said he should ride into Devils Hole when Wheat needed rescuing, instead of sticking with the train like we planned … No …Kid and I will cover him.  You can say the words!” 

Lom smiled nastily at Heyes’ confounded face. 

They stood in uncomfortable silence for just a little too long.  Enough to start each of them wondering who would break the silence.  

Heyes set his face with tight lips.  

Lom flicked his eyes at his friend’s frown, then down to the bloodied front of the Bounty Hunter, and relented.  He didn’t want bad feeling dragging around with them.

“And just how did you …and The Kid …let Wheat ‘n’ Kyle and that Chinaman …take that haul from the train?  You been nursing that saddlebag like it was a new-born ever since you opened that Brooker!”

“Oh you mean …that money!” said Heyes a little too quickly his poker face slipping just a tad at the mercurial change in subject. ‘Lom knew he’d opened the safe?!  He knew he’d been walking around with $50,000 on his shoulder?! How? And …why hadn’t he said anything?’ Heyes knew he’d learn a lot more if he just let Lom ramble on in this unguarded moment, as they both stood sentinel to the body, so he just shrugged.

“Yeah …You explained to them that they couldn’t spend it …right?” 

Lom was apparently talking to the corpse.  Neither one of them could drag their eyes away from the bloodstain. 

“What was it …bravado? …Proving they could take it off you …and The Kid.  They tried standing up to him before…”

Lom’s voice took on a quality of awe.

“I gotta say Heyes …when I heard you’d taken the Governor’s safe of marked pay roll notes …and threw it unopened off a mountain into a lake…” 

He dry laughed.  

“I just couldn’t work it out … How you’d found out it was a set up?…I can tell you now… With a clear message like that sent to the Governor…That you and The Kid were unstoppable … He didn’t know where to turn next …He’d spent all that money …on a set of plates …just to catch you two …” 

Lom shook his head but still hadn’t looked over at Heyes.  Heyes’ face was a picture, his eyes wide, his lips silently repeating some of Lom’s words.

“The amnesty deal was a cinch after that!” continued Lom not wanting to turn his head to see the obvious smug look he just knew would be plastered on Heyes’ face. “He practically shook my arm off agreeing to it! …Course …he had to put that condition on it …wait till the time was right…”


Finally, Lom dragged his eyes from the blood to look at Heyes.  

Heyes face was now frozen stone.

“How’d you do it Heyes?  How’d you know that job was just a set up …to catch you and the boys spending marked money in Denver? Everyone knew you couldn’t get to those casinos and cat houses fast enough after a big job like that to spend the money!”

He fixed Heyes with a conspiratorial questioning frown. 

“I always thought you must’ve had connections with the printer …it was the only weak link… I’m right aren’t I? The Governor was convinced …he must have a mole in his private office…”

Heyes stared back at Lom with a blank enigmatic expression.  Years of playing poker came into play as he slowed his breathing and hid his churning emotions.

“I think you should allow me to keep some of my secrets Lom …don’t you?” he said quietly.  “Just in case our mutual friend …never believes the time to be …right …to grant me and The Kid an amnesty. I gonna need to keep a few aces up my sleeves…”

Heyes tried not to swallow.  Luckily, Kid came skidding back at a full run. He was waving a rather dirty looking dark blanket.  

“We got problems….” he gasped, fighting to get his breath back.  “They found the spare guns …I knew there was something amiss …they were carrying rifles… I just couldn’t make them out … in the dark….”

“Haff thinks they’re unarmed!” Heyes realised.  “He could…”

The crack of distant rifle fire resounded around Devils Hole.

“I’ll get the horses…” said Kid “Sorry Lom… but he can wait…”

“Well I can at least cover him up” said Lom taking the blanket. 

He shook it out and spread it over the Bounty hunter’s legs, and that’s when the corpse made a bubbly, wheezing, groaning sound.

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