Consequences. Chapter five. Part one
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Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Consequences. Chapter five. Part one Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:34 pm|| |
CONSEQUENCES Part one
Jed Curry was screaming with laughter. He and his older brother were chasing each other around the porch of their farm house, taking turns at being the ‘good guy’ and the ‘bad guy’. Their younger toddler sister was sitting by the open front door, banging her toys on the floor of the porch and laughing with delight every time her brothers galloped past her.
It was a beautiful warm summer day with a soft breeze wisping its way through the trees and grasses of the farmland bringing with it the fresh scents of flowers and leaves and sunshine. The windows of the home were all wide open to allow the breeze to flutter through the rooms and to mingle with the warm, enticing aroma of fresh baking bread and pies.
Mrs. Curry was in the kitchen humming a tune to herself as she rolled out fresh dough and the sounds of her activity filtered out onto the porch where her children were playing. They knew that, pretty soon warm bread with freshly churned butter would be their reward for keeping out from under foot. But for now, they played and laughed and rejoiced at being young and full of energy.
Jed felt so warm and comfortable and safe. He didn’t want to leave this place. This was home. But gradually, no matter how hard he fought it the here and now started to fade. The comforting sounds of his siblings’ laughter and of his mother’s tuneful humming started to mute and Jed was drifting away. He fought so hard to stay there, to remain inside the warmth and the safety But more and more he was rising away from it, his consciousness becoming more aware of the outside of his being rather than the inside.
He could still feel the warm sun and the breeze coming through the window, and hear the birds singing to the summer day. There was the distant sound of a child cooing softly and a woman humming. The aroma of fresh baked bread still lingered, but it was all outside of him now and what had been inside, what had been joyous and content, was gone. He had lost that warm comfortable place that was home.
The humming stopped. With that well developed instinct of a mother, Belle had somehow known that her patient was finally awake and she made her way quietly into his room. He felt her sit down on the side of the bed and he tried to open his eyes but he was so weak, he couldn’t move. He became slowly aware of a dull throbbing in his shoulder and muddiness to his brain that went beyond what he would consider to be a hangover.
A hand gently touched his arm and he opened his eyes to slits, trying to focus. His lids were heavy and they didn’t want to co-operate. Finally the room stopped spinning and he was able to define the face of the woman sitting by his side.
“Hmmmm.” His mouth felt dry, his throat tight.
The Angel of Mercy seemed to know this. She went to the night stand, poured some water into a cup and then lifting Thaddeus’ head just a little, she pressed the cup to his lips and helped him to drink. Some got down his throat, some went down his chin, but he got enough to satisfy for now. Belle put the cup back on the night stand and picked up the small hand towel that was there and dried up the little rivulet that had made its way down his neck and onto the pillow. She dried his mouth and then gently caressed his sweet face with her thumb. She was worried about him, no doubt about it. This past week had been frantic and she had been scared to death that every time she came into the room she would find a corpse instead of a patient.
David had been coming out every morning, bringing his wife Tricia with him. He would check Thaddeus’ condition; help with the first changing of the bandages and cleansing of the wounds. He would give new instructions for the patient’s care and leave more medications and painkillers, including quinine for the fever that had taken hold of Thaddeus’ body for three days.
Tricia would stay out at the ranch for the day, helping Belle with the bathing and the bandage changing that had to be done at least three times a day. She helped the two girls with their brother, helped Belle with preparing meals and the all round general housekeeping chores. She had been a blessing for sure since she knew a lot more about breaking a fever and keeping a wound clean than anyone else in the county—excepting her husband, and even then there could be some debate about that.
Then, late afternoon or early evening, depending on how busy his day was, David would return and do another check on the patient and give more instructions for his care and comfort for the night. Then he and his wife would usually stay for supper, discuss the events of the day and then head for their own home until the next morning, when they would come out and do it all again.
The first morning that David and Tricia had come out to the ranch, David had been in quite a tiff. Belle couldn’t remember when she had seen him that angry. Apparently Joshua had suffered some more rough handling at the hands of the Sheriff, and David had gone by the jailhouse first thing in the morning in order to check up on him and give him some more laudanum if needs be. But when he got there, he found the jail cell empty and the small posse, with their prisoner, long gone.
David had taken the majority of his anger and frustration out on Richard who just happened to be on that shift to guard the unconscious man, and he simply took it all with a grain of salt. He knew that Morrison tended to rub people the wrong way, but the man got the job done and right now, that’s all that mattered to Rick. Let the doctor fume, it was nothing to him.
Sam who did not, as has already been noted, have a thick skin was fortunately asleep in the bunk house at the time preferring the night shift of guard duty so as to avoid the Jordan family (especially Bridget) as much as possible. He had therefore missed the tongue lashing that had befallen Rick and had avoided the whole uncomfortable situation altogether.
As the days went by, both men became increasingly bored with the guard duty and found other ways to occupy their time. Generally speaking they tended more to doing the outside chores such as looking after the barns and the livestock and leaving the household duties and care of the prisoner to the women. This arrangement suited everyone just fine. Everything got done, and nobody got under foot.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Thaddeus’ fever had broken and they’d all breathed a sigh of relief. But still, everyone knew that the open exit wound in Thaddeus’ back needed a lot of care and attention to keep any infection at bay and to encourage its healing. David was still anxious about those bone chips floating around in there, but didn’t dare do any probing while Thaddeus was still in such a weakened condition. Hopefully he would be able to get to it, given time, that is if Morrison didn’t return and abscond with this patient in the middle of the night as well!
On the afternoon that Thaddeus had finally regained consciousness everyone but Belle had been out tending to other chores so she and the two boys had the place to themselves. Fortunately young J.J. was having a good day, which was actually quite normal for him. Jay was a happy baby on the most part and had been quite content to play and coo in his bassinet between times of eating and sleeping.
When Belle had heard Thaddeus stirring, she judged that her baking could be left to carry on by itself for a while and came into his room to ease his fears. And her own.
She sat beside him, caressing his face and he fought to open his eyes again.
“Belle?” It came out as barely a whisper.
“Yes Thaddeus, I’m here. You’ve had a fever, but you’re doing better now.”
“No. Just…a fever.”
He closed his eyes and sighed. She thought he was going back to sleep again, but then he jerked slightly and forced his eyes open one more time.
Belle hesitated, looking away for an instant. She didn’t want to lie to him, but didn’t want to worry him with too much truth right now either.
“He’s….gone into town,” she finally answered him.
Thaddeus nodded. He seemed content with that. He closed his eyes again and was instantly asleep. Belle continued to sit beside him, holding his right hand where it lay on his chest, for a long time. Just being able to sit there and watch his steady rhythmic breathing eased her concerns and gave her hope that he just might come through this after all.
The next time Curry awoke it was nighttime and the house was dark and quiet. Jed lay for a while, trying to remember where he was but without any visual reference his mind just wasn’t putting it together. He gradually became aware of light coming in under the closed door and tried to call out to see if there was anyone about.
Nothing came out, it was like he had to relearn how to use his vocal cords. He felt so weak, wow he really must have been sick. Something about a fever…?
He worked up some saliva and swallowed, trying to moisten up his throat and then managed to croak out a “Ehhh!”, and then he heard chair legs scrap on the floor and foot steps coming towards his door. The door opened quietly and the bright light shone in, silhouetting a man’s figure in the open doorway.
“Uws at?” Kid managed to slur out.
“Sam?” Things were starting to come back to him now. Just a bit.
“Yeah,” the young man confirmed, and he came into the bedroom, keeping the lamp turned low.
“Ow are ya, Sam?”
“I’m okay. How are you feeling?”
“Tired. Shoulder urts like dickens. Josh mare kick me or somethin’?”
“No, ah…I’m sorry you’re hurting. I don’t know if I should give you anything, so….Mr. Curry?”
But Jed had fallen back to sleep.
The next time he woke up it was the following morning. He could hear activity out in the main part of the house and people talking. Belle’s voice he recognized and there—that was Bridget. Then a strange voice, sounded like a young woman, but he didn’t know who that was. He tried to sit up but that wasn’t happening, and oh man, his shoulder hurt and he couldn’t move it. He brought his left hand over to investigate and found that his whole right arm was bandaged up tight against his torso and there was layers of padding on his shoulder both front and back.
He couldn’t remember what had happened, his brain was still foggy.
“Hello!” he called out, still weak but a better effort than his previous attempt during the night.
The voices and clatter coming from the kitchen area instantly quieted and suddenly there were two teenage girls fluttering around his bed.
“Thaddeus! You’re finally awake!”
“Momma said you woke up before but we missed it.”
“Girls, be careful,” Belle warned them. “Take it easy.”
“Oh yeah,” Beth apologized. “Are you hurting Thaddeus?”
“A little,” Jed lied. He was hurting a lot. Then, aware that there was at least one stranger in the house, he added, using the alias; “Where’s Joshua?”
There was an awkward silence and then Jed noticed another man standing in the doorway to his room. He furrowed his brow. It wasn’t Sam and it sure wasn’t Jesse.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Rick Layton, I’m here too…”
Belle quickly put a hand on Rick’s arm to silence him. She couldn’t help but think that the less Thaddeus knew of his true situation, the better. At least for now.
“Are you hungry Thaddeus?”
Jed turned his attention back to Belle, his focus beginning to fade and his concentration slipping.
“Hungry?” he murmured.
“Yes,” Belle answered him as she moved to the bedside and poured him some water. “There’s some soup simmering on the stove for whenever you feel up to eating anything.” Then she took a small pouch out of her apron pocket and added some of its contents to the water.
“Hungry,” Jed repeated, as though he wasn’t quite sure what the word meant. “I don’t know. Tired.”
“Alright. In the mean time here’s some water. It’s important that you get fluids in you so at least drink this.”
Belle held his head up again and put the cup to his lips. The attempt was a little more successful this time and Jed actually got most of the contents down his throat. It tasted a little bitter, but his body was craving fluids so much that he didn’t care and he drank it willingly.
Belle settled him back down again and placed her hand on his forehead and then his cheeks and then she smiled, the fever was quite gone. Jed closed his eyes. Her hand felt cool and comforting and he was back home again and his mother was holding him close in a hug and she was murmuring how much she loved her little Jedidiah.
“Is he going to be alright Momma?” he heard Beth’s voice from way off in the distance and then he heard no more.
The next time he woke up it was the evening of that same day—and he was HUNGRY!
“Belle?!” his voice was stronger, but still not much more than a loud whisper, but Belle heard him and was at the door in an instant. Jed was trying to sit up.
“Oh, no Thaddeus! Just wait. Jesse! Can you come and give me a hand?”
Rick started to come to help, but Belle stopped him with a look, shaking her head. He shrugged and sat back down in the hallway again to wait for Sam to relieve him. Jesse came in from the dinning room and joined his wife at the bedside.
“Well, good evening Thaddeus.” he greeted the patient. “I was beginning to think you were going to sleep the whole month away.”
“Have I been out of it that long?”
“Well, not quite, but it’s been a while.”
Jesse helped him to sit up while Belle rearranged the pillows so that he could lean back comfortably.
“Now,” said Belle. “Are you hungry?”
“Yes!” came the adamant reply.
Belle smiled broadly. “Good! I’ll get you some soup.” and she quickly headed to the kitchen.
Jed looked up at Jesse. The older man was thinking how worn out Thaddeus was looking. He’d really been through the wars here.
“What happened Jesse?” Thaddeus asked him. “I can’t seem to remember anything.”
“That’s alright.” Jesse assured him. “We’ll talk about it in the morning when you’re a little stronger.”
“But where’s Joshua? Shouldn’t he be here?”
“In the morning Thaddeus, alright? We’ll talk in the morning.”
Jed was about to protest, but then Belle showed up with a cup of soup and the enticing aroma of it captured his attention. Jesse took that opportunity to escape. Belle smiled at his cowardice, then placing the cup on the night stand, she laid a towel across Jed’s chest, like a bib and prepared to spoon him a mouthful of soup.
“Ahh…can’t I just feed myself?” Jed asked.
Belle settled back and smiled. “Well I don’t know Thaddeus. Can you?”
Jed accepted the challenge and determined to accomplish this simple task on his own, he took the spoon in his left hand and dipped it into the cup of soup. It felt foreign to him, like his arm just wasn’t going to do what his brain was telling it to do. The spoon shook and refused to stay level as he attempted to transport the broth from the cup to his mouth. By the time the spoon had reached its destination there was very little soup left in it. Most of it was on the towel. Jed frowned, but was determined to try again.
Belle smiled, but waited patiently for him to come to the inevitable conclusion. She had tended to enough sick or injured adult males in her lifetime to know that she couldn’t push him and that he would have to figure this one out in his own time.
He dipped the spoon in again and it started its shaky journey back towards his mouth. This time the utensil didn’t even get half way when Jed’s fingers weakened and lost their grip altogether. The spoon with the soup ended up in his lap. Jed groaned.
“Ohhh. Alright. You win.” he finally conceded. “But will you close the door? The last thing I need is for the girls to see me being hand fed like a baby!”
“Rick! Would you mind closing the door for now?”
“Yeah, alright.” came the reply from out in the hallway, and the door quietly closed.
“Now who’s Rick again?” asked the Kid.
“Thaddeus…” Belle admonished him.
Jed sighed in resignation. “Yeah, I know. In the morning.”
Sam spent another long quiet night sitting in the hallway outside the bedroom door, trying to stay awake. In some ways the night shift was the hardest to get through because there was absolutely nothing to do to help pass the time. He tried reading, but the light from the oil lamp was so inconsistent that it made that pastime nearly impossible. He tried writing a letter to his mother, but that proved to be just as frustrating as reading. Finally he just folded his arms, leaned back against the wall and let himself doze for awhile
He allowed his mind to wander and found himself thinking about the choices he had made and the consequences of them. He worried about how he was going to make things up to Bridget because he really did like her and it was making him miserable that she wouldn’t even talk to him. Her parents had been treating him with a little more understanding, thank goodness, or this duty would have been too awkward to have endured.
When Morrison had first told him that he was going to stay behind and share the guard duty with Rick, Sam had been relieved. He had not been looking forward to escorting Hannibal Heyes anywhere. Sam still found the man extremely intimidating and Heyes made no effort to hide his disdain for Sam. Jed Curry was a much more amiable kind of person—even if he was what Morrison had called a ‘cold blooded killer’. Sam couldn’t help it, he had just found himself liking the blond outlaw and felt terrible that his life had been put in such jeopardy because of him. Indeed, if either of the outlaws had to get shot, why couldn’t it have been the dark haired conman? Sam could have lived easier with that.
The young man sighed with boredom. About the most exciting thing he’d had to do all night was to help Curry with the bedpan and other than that, everyone else in the house was asleep but him. He figured Curry would be strong enough soon to be transported into town and then be whisked off back to Wyoming by whatever means was available. And then Sam would have some more choices to make.
The next morning started quite early, as usual. Belle was up first and got the stove going and started to heat up water for coffee and Curry’s bath, then, while that was happening, she settled into the day nursery with J.J. and gave him is morning feeding This was pretty much Sam’s signal to head out to the barn to take care of the livestock and the dogs who were always happy to see him, and then head over to the bunk house to get some sleep. He always tried to head outdoors before Bridget came down, as he just wasn’t ready to face her yet.
Jesse and the girls were down shortly afterward and started to get breakfast going for everyone. It had become Beth’s job to take something out for Sam, since Bridget wasn’t quite ready to face him yet either. Sam was in the ‘doghouse’ as far as she was concerned, and was likely to remain there for some time.
With the coming of summer Jesse had plans to head up to the northern pastures to take a look at the foals and calves and make sure they were all doing well. Some decisions were going to have to be made about the yearlings as well since many of them would be heading off to market soon. It was at this time that Jesse missed having Sam as a hand, but he obviously had a previous commitment, so most of the work was falling onto Jesse himself. Still, he had the girls to help him out now that classes were finished and also, since Thaddeus seemed to be out of danger they were more willing to accompany their father for a day out of riding the range.
Still, David and Tricia would be coming out later in the morning and Jesse was willing to wait until they had the doctor’s diagnosis on Thaddeus before leaving Belle and Tricia short handed in looking after the household. There was a lot of juggling of chores these days.
Jed had been awake for some time and could hear the household waking up and the morning duties being attended to but he was in no hurry to announce his wakefulness. It was warm and comfortable in the bed, and though his shoulder did ache, it wasn’t so bad as to cause him distress. His brain still felt a bit muddy, so he assumed he was still on quite a dosage of painkillers, and that was alright. He just lay there with his eyes closed and allowed his mind to wander.
He still couldn’t remember anything of what had happened. Who was this Rick guy? And where the hell was Heyes? And just what had happened to him to be stuck in this bed at the Jordan’s ranch? This was no kick from a horse, he’d had enough bullet holes in him to know that he’d been shot. But who had done it, and where was he now? If he had been arrested, why wasn’t he…well, in custody? All these questions and more were drifting around in his brain, but the fever, and now the morphine were making it impossible for him to really focus on anything. All he really wanted to do was sleep.
A quiet knock on his door brought him around again and he forced his eyes open. Belle came in carrying a bowl and a towel and placed them on the night stand while she helped Thaddeus to sit up. The fact that she was able to accomplish this without Jesse’s help was a good indication of how much stronger the patient was this morning. All the while that she was re-arranging his pillows, Thaddeus was protesting his need for such attention. Belle ignored him and sitting down, prepared to force feed him if necessary. Kid groaned and closed his eyes again.
“I’m really not hungry,” he mumbled.
“Well too bad,” Belle responded, but with a smile in her voice. ”Just eat a little of it, you need it to get your strength up.”
Jed nodded acceptance and swallowed down the spoonful of oatmeal that headed his way. He had to admit that once the warmth of it hit his stomach his appetite picked up and he was able to put away a good portion of the bowlful.
“That went well,” Belle commented at she picked up the towel and made sure there were no dribbles of oatmeal on his chin. “Let’s hope the next endeavor goes just as smoothly.”
At which point she got up and left the room leaving a very suspicious Jed Curry wondering what the next endeavor was going to be.
A few minutes later his worst suspicions were confirmed when Belle returned carrying all the items she would need for a sponge bath. She deftly closed the bedroom door with her foot and began to go about her business of setting everything up for the inevitable.
Curry was looking decidedly uncomfortable and unconsciously grasped the blankets with his left hand and pulled them up, snugly around himself.
“Ahhh, what are you doing?” he asked, though he knew darn well what she was doing.
“The doctor is coming out shortly to check up on you and change your bandages. You need to be cleaned up before he arrives.” She answered matter of factly. Then she put a hand on her hip and gave him her best ‘stern mother’ look. “You’re not going to give me a problem with this are you?”
Curry gave her his best ‘charming outlaw smile’ “I don’t need a bath Belle.”
“Now don’t get all bashful Thaddeus,” Belle said with a raised eyebrow. “You’ve been in this bed for close on ten days now. Do you really think that this is the first bath I have given you?”
Curry groaned inwardly and he felt himself blushing, just a bit. And then an even worse thought occurred to him.
“The girls weren’t helping you were they?”
Belle gave him a look. “Really Thaddeus, of course not!” Jed sighed with relief, then Belle added. “I did need some help while you were unconscious, but then it was just the doctor’s wife.”
“Oh,” Curry replied. “The doctor’s wife being older and matronly.”
Belle smiled. “Well, no actually. Twenty-four and quite pretty.”
Curry groaned again, his embarrassment growing. Belle smiled at him and Jed was really beginning to think that she was enjoying this.
“Come on Thaddeus,” she teased him. “You can’t tell me that a young handsome man like yourself has never been undressed in front of a lady before.”
“Well sure,” Curry answered. “plenty of times. But I didn’t know them!” Then he blushed even deeper as he realized what he had just said. “I mean…ahh….”
Belle laughed. “I’m no maiden Thaddeus,” she reminded him with another smile. “I’m well aware of young men’s appetites. Come on, let’s get this done. We’ll start on the easier parts and when we get to the more sensitive areas I’ll let you do that yourself. How’s that?”
Seeing no way out of this, he agreed. Then, just like with breakfast, once he had accepted the inevitable it was actually quite refreshing to get cleaned up. Belle kept her promise and was discreet at the appropriate moments and the bath was completed without too much more embarrassment caused to the patient. She even helped him to shave, not wanting him to cut his own throat due to his still weakened condition.
Belle’s timing had, as usual, been impeccable and just as she was cleaning up they heard the dogs set up a loud chorus of barking to announce David and Tricia arriving in their surrey. Buck and Karma, who were out in the front pasture, outside Curry’s window trotted and danced along the fence line in their usual morning greeting to the horse and buggy. Curry had to admit that seeing Karma-Lou out in the pasture had put his worries at ease to some degree. If Karma was here then surely Heyes could not be too far away.
Within a few minutes the new arrivals had entered the house and Curry could hear Jesse and then Belle greeting them.
“Good morning. Our patient is doing much better today.”
“Excellent,” Curry heard a young man answer. “Is he eating alright?”
“Yes,” Belle answered. “I’ve been able to get some food into him.”
“Good,” And then he had entered the bedroom and went over to the patient. “Good morning.”
Jed nodded a greeting. He was surprised at how young the man looked. Not exactly Curry’s idea of your typical country doctor. And Belle had been right; his wife was young and quite pretty. He was feeling decidedly uncomfortable again.
“I’m David Gibson,” he introduced himself to Curry. “This is my wife, Tricia.” Curry nodded another self-conscious greeting. “I’ve been tending to you these past couple of weeks.”
“You’ve done a lot more than just tend to him,” Belle interjected, then added. “He saved your life Thaddeus. I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn’t been here.”
“Ahh, thank you,” Curry said, not quite sure how to respond to that information.
“Your welcome,” David answered him, with a smile. “It was touch and go there for awhile, but I’m glad to see you looking so much better. I just want to change your bandages and see how things are healing up. How does your shoulder feel?”
“It hurts,” Jed answered bluntly.
“Yes, I’m not surprised. I’ll leave some more morphine here. It will take the edge off the pain and help you to rest. In the mean time, let’s get these bandages off.”
With help from Belle and Tricia, Curry was able to sit up a bit straighter and David began to unwrap the bandage that secured Curry’s right arm to his chest.
“Do you know what happened to you?” David asked as he worked.
David nodded. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Ahhh…it was early morning. My friend and I were out in the barn. Discussing our travel plans. My horse was lame, so things had been delayed a bit. Then….I woke up in here.”
“Okay. You don’t remember coming out of the barn, or anything that happened after that?”
Curry shook his head. “No.”
“Well, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that you were shot. It was a Winchester 44-40.” Curry groaned. He knew that wasn’t good. “The entry wound is not too bad, I was able to get it cleaned out and stitched up without too much trouble. But, of coarse as the bullet entered your shoulder, it started to spin and it tore up a great deal of muscle tissue and badly fractured your shoulder blade before exiting out your back. Okay, this is the last of the bandage coming off, so try to keep your arm still alright? It’s important that you don’t move it.”
Curry nodded, and Tricia who was sitting to Curry’s left helped to hold his right arm in place so her husband could continue with his examination. Meanwhile, Jesse, who had been doing some paperwork out in the dinning room, could hear the direction that the conversation was going and decided that his presence in the bedroom might be desirable. Thaddeus was not going to like what he would be hearing.
David removed the padding from the wounds and did a quick scrutiny of the entry wound, and then had Curry lean forward a bit so he could get a closer look at his back.
“So, the exit wound is another story,” David continued. “I cleaned it out as best I could under the circumstances, but you were in a great deal of distress so I couldn’t do as much as I would have liked. I got all of the foreign material out of the wound, but there still may be some bone chips floating around in there. That may not be a problem, or they may just gradually work their way out on their own. It would create an abscess and it would be painful but manageable. Worse case scenario, another infection could set in and we would have to open your shoulder back up again and try to remove the chips manually. You would have to be hospitalized.” Curry closed his eyes and groaned inwardly. This was not sounding good at all. “In the meantime, we have to keep this wound in your back covered, and very clean. Its wide open as there was nothing left to stitch together. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, I think so Doc. In simple language, this is going to take a long time to heal.”
“Yes, it is. And Jed, I’m sorry, but you may never get full use of this arm back again. There was just too much damage.”
Curry’s throat tightened. He was dimly aware that David had used his real name but he had already come to the conclusion that this man knew who he was. Of course, it was the diagnosis the doctor was giving him that put a knot in his stomach. He felt a hand on his leg and looked up to meet Belle’s gentle eyes. He flinched as David began to clean the wound on his back, but in a way, he welcomed the pain and focusing on that helped him to bring his emotions under control.
“Are you…sure…about that…Doc?”
“Well, there is always a chance that you will get a lot of your mobility back. But you will have to be diligent. As I said, it will have to be kept clean until it heals over and then you can’t move it while the bone is healing. After that I know of some exercises you can do to get the flexibility back in the muscles and tendons. But I won’t lie to you Jed, it’s going to be a long road and it won’t be easy.” Then David sighed and added as an after thought;” And I don’t know how long you’re going to be in my care.”
Curry sat quietly for a moment, while David finished up with the cleaning and began to re-bandage the shoulder again. He felt weak, and sick—and more than a little scared.
“Where’s Heyes?” he finally got the nerve up to ask. He was met with a silence. “Jesse! Where’s Heyes?” Then a tingling dread settled over him and it felt like his lungs had collapsed—there was no air left in them. “He’s not…dead…is he?”
“No!” both Jesse and Belle answered together.
“Well then, where? His mare is still here!”
“Joshua gave Karma to us,” Jesse informed him. “He didn’t want the sheriff to take her off this ranch. I guess he’d rather we keep her for him instead of her being sold. As for where Joshua is right now, I’ve been in touch with Lom Trevors.” Curry nodded at the mention of their friend’s name. “According to him Joshua was taken directly to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Apparently they have the most secure jailhouse in the territory right there so that’s where Sheriff Morrison wanted him to be. He’s had a preliminary hearing, but the Judge did not grant him bail even though I offered to put it up, and Sheriff Trevors guaranteed his presence when his trial date arrives. Unfortunately, it seems the Judge felt that it was just too big a risk that Hannibal Heyes would make a run for it.”
Curry closed his eyes again. “Any word from the governor?”
“Not that I’ve heard,” Jesse answered. “but it’s early days yet, Thaddeus.”
David had finished up with his ‘doctoring’ and Jed settled back onto the pillows feeling totally lost and wrung out from all this bad news coming at him at once. Heyes must be going nuts, and pacing a trench in his cell by now.
“How?” he asked weakly. “How did--Sheriff Morrison?” Jesse nodded. “How did he know we were here?”
“Apparently he’d been planning this for a long time Thaddeus,” Jesse explained. “He’d had someone watching the ranch for close to a year, just waiting for you and Joshua to show up.”
“Who?” Jed asked, confused. “Who could have been watching you for that long without you noticing them?”
Jesse looked a little shame-faced. “I’m sorry Thaddeus. It was Sam.”
Jesse nodded. “Apparently he had deliberately set himself up for me to hire him here all with the intention of, well, spying on us, and reporting back to Morrison about everything that was going on.”
“Oh Geesh. He seemed like a real nice kid too.”
“Well he is,” Jesse responded. “If it makes any difference, he feels pretty bad about the way things ended up and his part in it. I don’t think Bridget is ever going to talk to him again though. All of this has been pretty hard on the girls.”
“I’m sorry Jesse. We shouldn’t have come here.”
“I think that is enough talk for now,” David interjected. He had been watching Curry closely during this discussion and his pale, clammy complexion made it clear that his patient was about done in. “Belle, would you mix up some of the morphine for him, please.”
“Certainly,” Belle agreed, and headed for the kitchen to get the medication.
Rick had arrived from town shortly after the Gibson’s, but had gone un-noticed by everyone except the dogs until he entered the house. The two Jordan girls were sitting at the table looking distressed, so Rick poured himself a cup of coffee and joined them hoping to maybe cheer them up a little bit. He didn’t have much luck and soon it became apparent as to why when he began to pick up some of the conversation drifting out from the bedroom.
To say that Rick felt badly about having shot Jed Curry would be an overstatement. It had been the job that he was hired to do and he was darn good at it, so no regrets. However, he did realize that for some reason, this family considered the outlaws friends and this must be a difficult time for them. It was especially hard for the girls to know that their friend was having to hear such bad news, not only about himself, but about his partner as well.
Though Rick was not someone who would normally be welcomed in their home, considering the role he had played in the boys’ capture, he was after all, an officer of the law and was to be treated with respect. To their credit, the girls were trying their best. Sam was the one who was getting the brunt of their disapproval, hence his decision to be on night shift.
So, having been given the task of guarding Curry while he was still laid up, Rick was doing his best to fit into the routine of this household. Though Morrison had not suggested it, Rick was trying to be as helpful as he could to the family that he was intruding on in order to carry out his duty and they did seem to appreciate his predicament.
Curry would probably be ready to be moved soon, but where he was going to ultimately end up, Rick had no idea. He knew that Heyes was in Cheyenne so Curry would probably end up in Murreyville, Morrison’s own home town to await trial. Morrison had insisted on the two prisoners being kept apart and little to no information being given to either one of them about the condition of the other. ‘Keep them off balance’, Morrison had ordered. ‘If they keep their minds occupied worrying about each other then they wouldn’t be as inclined to think up means of escaping.’ It all sounded good and maybe it would work.
Belle came out of the bedroom, smiled a greeting at the group at the table and carried on into the kitchen. They could hear her making some preparations and then she disappeared back into the bedroom and Rick went back into wait mode.
Meanwhile, in the bedroom Belle handed the cup of medicated water to David. He accepted it and then added some more ingredients to the cup from his own supplies.
“Here Jed, I want you to drink all of this, it’ll help you sleep. And that’s the best thing for you right now, okay.”
“Yeah, sure Doc,” came Curry’s despondent reply. But he drank down the contents and settled back into the bed again. He turned his head towards the open window and could just see Buck and Karma out in the field, contentedly grazing, enjoying one another’s company.
Very quickly his eyelids began to feel heavy and his body seemed to just melt into the mattress. He wasn’t even aware of the other people leaving the room and closing the door as the heavy sedative took effect. He continued to gaze out the window, unable to take his eyes off their horses. He could feel the warmth of the mid-morning sun giving a promise of the hot summer days to come. The soft aromatic breeze was fluttering through the curtains and he was screaming with laughter. He chased his older brother around the porch, anticipating a treat of warm freshly baked bread with creamy churned butter as he drifted off into oblivious sleep.
Last edited by Keays on Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Consequences. Part two Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:36 pm|| |
When Curry awoke next, he had no idea how much time had passed by. Was it the same day, the next day or a week later? There was nothing in his conscious mind that was allowing him to judge the passage of time. He felt some confusion, some vague memory of bad news. And fear. There was a tightness in his throat and chest, an anxiety that weighed heavy on him and grew as he became more and more awake.
There were no sounds outside his room and in his confused state the silence was eerie and ominous. He pushed himself up into a sitting position and was momentarily surprised at how easily he accomplished this. He pushed the blanket down and swinging his legs off the bed, found himself facing the open window and the two horses peacefully grazing out in the field. He sat there on the edge of the bed, watching them for a few minutes. They looked so content, happy even in the comfort of their shared camaraderie and it created an aching in Curry’s heart, a yearning that he couldn’t quite understand. All he knew is that he had to get out of there; he had to leave—now!
Carefully he stood up, testing his legs and his balance. He was a little dizzy so he took it slow and with his left hand, held onto anything that presented itself as he made his way over to the dresser. He could see his boots there by the chair and his hat, no gun belt though, oh well. He quietly pulled open one of the drawers and his clothes were there, waiting for him. He took them out and sat down on the chair, breathing heavily and fighting the dizziness that wouldn’t leave him alone. He felt cold and clammy, but he would be alright once he got some clothes on.
It was a slow process, getting dressed with just one good arm and everything had to be done in stages. He was also having to stop on a regular basis in order to quiet his shaking limbs and to push the dizziness back from his brain so he could focus on what he had to do. Finally, after an eternity he had everything on to the best of his ability. He had pulled his left arm through the sleeve of his shirt, but the right he could only drape over his shoulder and hoped that it would stay there. He tried to button it up, but couldn’t quite manage the dexterity needed for what he would normally consider a simple task. He forgot his hat.
Moving over to the window he managed to open it wide enough for him to maneuver himself out over the sill, and then drop the short distance to the ground. He landed on his feet, but his knees gave way beneath him and he went all the way down, landing sharply on his right shoulder. He gasped, the pain like daggers stabbing into his brain. Nausea heaved over him and blackness threatened to envelop. He just lay on the ground for a few minutes, breathing heavily and fighting the physical symptoms that were trying to prevent him from completing his task. Whatever that was.
The two horses had stopped grazing and were watching him with interest. They knew who he was, but he wasn’t behaving normally and that got their curiosity aroused. After a few minutes, Buck’s human pulled himself to his feet and carefully made his way across the bit of yard separating the house from the field. He got to the fence and slid in between the planks so that he was inside the pasture now, and using the fence for support, he made his way over towards the gate, next to the road.
The horses, thinking that just maybe he was going to be taking them into the barn for a good feeding of grain, began to slowly follow him, then passed him and waited patiently by the gate for him to catch up. Curry spied the halters with their attached lead shanks hanging off the fence post, kept there to be handy for when it was actually time to bring the horses back in to the barn for the night. He took one of them off the post and turning to his horse, grabbed hold of Buck’s mane in order to steady himself. It took some effort with just the one hand, to get the halter on Buck’s head, but he managed it. Buck stood quietly while Jed looped the lead shank around his horses’ neck and tied the loose end to the halter, that done he opened the gate and led his horse out.
Then he heard Rufus start to bark and sure enough, Peanut and Pebbles were quick to join in. Curry knew he had to get moving because the alarm had been sounded and he wasn’t going to get stopped now! He lined Buck up against the fence, and stepping up onto the lower plank, he hoisted himself across his horses’ back, swung his right leg over and pushed the gelding into a trot down the road, away from the ranch.
Curry was vaguely aware of someone yelling behind him, the dogs barking, a rifle shot and a woman screaming. He didn’t hang around for any more, grabbing more of Buck’s mane, he leaned forward against his neck and tried to push him into a faster gait.
Buck was nervous and confused. His human was not acting in a normal manner and it made him hesitate to pick up speed for fear that Curry would fall off. Then Karma-Lou was beside him, and with head and tail up with this new adventure she picked up the pace. Buck joined up with her and together they took off at a gallop down the road and away from the yelling and commotion behind them.
It was all Curry could do to hang on! He had no control over where his horse was going, but they were going there fast and that was all Curry cared about. All he had to do was stay on. He was still leaning against Buck’s neck, knowing that if he tried to sit up, he would loose balance and fall off. His right arm was trapped underneath him but his left hand was still clutching the mane and the speed of the gallop made his eyes water and the ground to blur in their passing.
They must have continued for a few miles at that breakneck pace, but with Curry not encouraging him to carry on with it, Buck gradually began to slow down. Karma circled around and came back to him, preferring to stay with her buddy than to continue galloping on alone. Curry lay motionless along Buck’s back, his face buried in the handful of mane that he still desperately hung onto.
The quiet warm day was slipping into mid afternoon when Belle and Tricia finally took a break from the gardening to settle down to some tea out on the front porch. Thaddeus had been heavily sedated and when last checked on, was sound asleep so Belle wasn’t too worried about him. It had been decided that Jesse and Bridget would ride up together to check on the young livestock with Beth preferring to remain at home to help watch over Thaddeus and keep her baby brother entertained. Sam and Rick were both in the barn discussing the game plan for that night and the next day, while Sam got the evening feed ready.
Beth had just come into the barn to ask the men if they would like to come up to the porch for some tea when Rufus suddenly started barking and setting off the other two.
Rick rolled his eyes. “Sounds like that old hound of yours has flushed out another rabbit,” he said to Beth.
Beth furrowed her brow. “No, that’s a more serious bark, there must be someone coming.”
“Hmmm,” was Rick’s only response, but he walked out of the barn to check up on whatever was happening. When he got out into the yard and looked down the lane, he stopped dead in his tracks. What he saw made his blood run cold. He couldn’t believe it!
Cursing, he ran back to the barn to grab his rifle. Sam and Beth were both alerted by his agitated return and were quick to follow him back outside.
“What!?” Sam asked. “What’s the matter?”
“Damn that Curry!” Rick cursed again. “Soon as I get that bastard in my sights, I’m going to kill him!!”
He ran out into the middle of the yard where he knew he could line up a clear shot and then brought his rifle up to take aim.
By this time of course, the two women on the porch were alerted to something amiss and were up and starting down the steps. The dogs were continuing to bark their warning, and Beth, terrified by what Rick had said, and with heart in throat, ran out after the deputy, determined to protect her friend from further harm.
Curry was just getting going. Still at a trot and moving away in a straight line, he made an easy target, especially for a marksman like Rick. He lined Curry up in his sights, held his breath and squeezed the trigger. All of a sudden Beth was all he could see! He cursed again, and with a speed that only comes from reflex, he jerked the rifle barrel up just as the bullet exploded from the muzzle!
Belle screamed in a terror that she had never known before and she ran to her daughter. Beth had collapsed on the ground in a semi faint, all her strength leaving her in the realization of what she had done and what had almost happened.
Rick was white as a ghost, his fear and shock coming out in anger.
“What the hell’s the matter with you!?” he yelled at the girl. “I could have killed you!” and then he was running for the barn to quickly saddle his horse and get after the escaping prisoner.
Within minutes Rick had his horse saddled and out of the barn. He swung himself aboard, and with one more angst laden glance at the women huddled in a terrified embrace of skirts and sobs on the ground, had kicked his horse into a gallop and headed down the road in pursuit of his prisoner.
The first thing Rick was thinking as he galloped down the road is that he really could use Jack’s expertise at this time, as he was a much better tracker than Rick was himself. However, having covered approximately half a mile, Rick began to relax as he realized that Curry was not going to be too difficult to track down. The outlaw obviously wasn’t thinking, he was just running. In a straight line. Down the main road.
After another mile of easily following the galloping tracks of the two horses, Rick pulled up and dismounted. He had noticed something else in the soft churned up dirt of the track and decided it needed a closer examination. He squatted down and put his finger to a small dot of dark moisture that had settled upon the dusty road and then brought his hand up for a closer inspection. Sure enough, it was red. Curry had started bleeding again. Rick smiled slightly and shook his head. This was going to be easy.
He remounted and carried on at a casual lope, watching the ground in front of him just on the outside chance that Curry gathered his wits and made a sudden turn off the track, but it didn’t happen. Indeed it wasn’t long before the hoof prints indicated a slackening of the pace and Rick took his eyes off the ground and started scanning the road ahead, expecting to make visual contact at any moment now.
Keeping his rifle at the ready, he trotted his horse around a bend and then sure enough he spotted the two horses up ahead, casually nibbling on some greenery off to the side of the road. Curry was still laid out on the back of his horse, his right arm pinned underneath him, and his left laying along the animal’s neck, clutching a handful of mane.
Rick brought his horse down to a walk and slowly approached the two animals.
“Curry!” He called quietly. “Curry, can you hear me?”
There was no response. Rick could see blood soaking into the back of Curry’s shirt where the wound had been irritated and had started seeping again. He could only assume that the wound in the front was doing the same thing. He could already hear the good doctor fuming about this one. Rick slowly dismounted and, keeping the rifle at the ready, quietly started walking towards the two horses. Both horses shot their heads up and stopped munching, suddenly suspicious of this human whom they didn’t really know very well, approaching them.
“Whoa, easy there big fella,” Rick soothed the gelding.
Buck arched his neck and started to blow. Karma skittishly danced away from the man and Buck started to join her when Richard made a quick grab for the halter and stopped him in his tracks. Curry started to slide off so in a continuing motion Rick swung his right shoulder into the Kid and pushed him back into position. Curry groaned quietly. Rick shook him gently on the left shoulder.
“Curry, can you hear me?” he repeated.
Curry’s eyes opened to slits, but he didn’t answer. He looked pale, and was sweating.
“If you can hear me, just hold on,” Rick continued. “I’m going to get you back to the ranch. Alright? So just keep holding on like you have been and everything will be okay.”
Rick turned and put his rifle back in its scabbard, then untying the loose end of the lead shank on Buck’s halter, organized the two horses so he could get remounted and set off back to the Double J. Karma watched them walk off and then with a snort and a toss of her dark red hair decided she may as well join them.
Rick pulled Buck up to walk along beside his horse so that he could keep a steadying hand on Curry’s shoulder. Rick had calmed down considerably since his angry vow to “kill that bastard” the next time he had the outlaw in his sights He had been angry more at himself than at Curry and now that the situation was back under control he was feeling a little less retaliatory.
His initial anger had been justified though, since he knew that Morrison would have had his hide staked out in the sun if he had lost his prisoner. With the boredom setting in from the extended, uneventful guard duty, Rick had fallen into the very trap that Morrison had repeatedly warned them about; underestimating the two outlaws.
Curry was badly wounded and being kept under heavy sedation most of the time. He couldn’t even sit up on his own, let alone get on a horse! So Rick had become complacent and had nearly paid a heavy price for it, not only in the loss of Curry, but in very nearly (Rick shuddered at the thought) shooting an innocent young girl in the attempt to cover up his mistake.
In hindsight, Rick realized that he should have been more on his guard. With the news that Curry had received that morning it was only logical that the man would be not only upset, but scared to death at his own future prospects. Facing the very real possibility of twenty years in prison, a crippled arm and his friend and partner already incarcerated for who knew how long it suddenly all made perfect sense that Curry would react unfavourably to the situation.
Rick grudgingly had to admit to a certain measure of admiration for Curry’s display of determination. The amount of morphine the Doc had given him should have had him knocked out for a good twenty-four hours. Yet, somehow he had managed to dress himself, crawl out an open window, mount up on his horse and make a run for it. It didn’t matter that he didn’t get far, or that he was running blind, with no real plan in mind, just the fact that he had managed to get as far as he did was down right amazing.
Rick was never going to underestimate Jed Curry again.
Back at the ranch house, Beth was sitting on the porch steps with her mother’s arms around. She had calmed down, but was still sobbing a little bit.
“I’m sorry Momma, I’m sorry,” she repeatedly apologized, knowing the terror her actions had caused. “I just didn’t want to see Thaddeus get hurt again.”
“Here they come,” said Tricia. “It looks like Mr. Curry is unconscious. Thank goodness David will be here soon!”
Rick brought the horses up to the steps and dismounted. Tricia and Sam hurried over to them and then all three were around Buck and Curry, assessing the situation. Kid was still clutching the handful of dark mane, refusing, even after passing out to let go of his life line. Rick took hold of Curry’s left hand and tried to pry the fingers open but to no avail.
“Sam, get my knife out of the saddle bag, will ya? It’s on this side.”
“Yeah.” Sam started to rummage in the bag until he came out with a hunting knife safely tucked away in a sheath. Sam pulled it out and handed it to Rick.
Rick then commenced to cut through the long hair until he had Curry’s hand free, then returning the knife to Sam so that he could return it to the bag, he started to pull Curry off the horse. Sam grabbed hold of Curry’s legs as he came off, and then both men carried the unconscious outlaw back up the steps and into the house. Tricia quickly followed them, but it took Belle and Beth a little longer as for some reason, Belle just could quite bring herself to let go of her daughter.
By the time the Jordan ladies had joined everyone else in the bedroom, Curry was laid out on the bed, his boots and the soiled shirt had been removed and Tricia was trying to assess the new damage done to his shoulder. She had removed some of the bandaging but didn’t want to do more than assess the situation and staunch whatever bleeding there might be until her husband arrived. Taking a look at the blood covered material she pulled away made it pretty obvious that the injuries had been torn open again.
Tricia pursed her lips. David was not going to be happy about this.
Twenty minutes later that afore mentioned individual brought the horse and surrey into the yard at a quick trot, and knew instantly that something was amiss. For one thing, there were three horses trotting around loose in the yard, and the dogs were a little bit more animated in the carrying out their duty as official greeters. David tied his horse to the rail by the barn, grabbed his bag from the seat and hurried into the house. He carried on into the bedroom and his jaw dropped at the sight that met his eyes.
“Oh my goodness! What in the world has happened here?!”
Tricia looked up with relief in her eyes. “David! Thank goodness you’re here. He’s torn out all the stitches.”
David sighed and shook his head in dismay as he headed over to the bed. “How in the world did he manage that? I had him sedated to the limit, he should have stayed down until the morning.”
“Yeah,” Rick answered him. “That’s the mistake I presumed to make as well.”
“Okay everybody out,” David ordered. “Except you Tricia, if you would please assist me.”
“Of course, dear.”
“And Belle, you know the drill. Some warm water and soap if you could.”
Belle nodded and left to attend to that, leaving David wondering why she looked so pale.
Then he leaned over Curry and slapped him sharply across the face a couple of times.
“Jed! Jed, can you hear me!?”
Curry groaned softly and opened his eyes just a crack. He blearily took in his surroundings and started laying in a mild protest, trying to push David away from him. David pushed him back and held him down. Curry was too weak to carry on the fight.
“No Jed, settle down,” David told him. “You’ve torn out all your stitches, I’m going to have redo them, alright? It’s going to hurt but I don’t dare give you any more morphine, so just take it easy and we’ll get it done.”
Fortunately for Curry, he just simply passed out again. During the procedure Tricia filled her husband in on what had transpired and David became more and more frustrated with the futility of the whole episode. An hour later, everything was patched up and the patient was resting in bed just as though nothing had happened. David sat by the bedside, sighing with disappointment and discouragement. Tricia stood behind her husband and put her arms around his neck. He patted her hand affectionately.
“Why did he have to do it?” he muttered more to himself than his wife. “Why couldn’t he just listen to me? All he’s done is to make things worse for himself.”
“I know,” she soothed her husband, and kissed him on the top of his head. “He was running scared. He probably didn’t even know where he was going, or why….he was just running.”
“Maybe I told him too much,” David admonished himself. “Why do I have to be so brutally honest with everyone?”
“Now don’t start second guessing yourself,” his wife responded. “You’ve always held with telling your patients the truth, especially if it’s bad. They need to know what’s going on if they’re going to be able to deal with it.”
“Yes, but not to scare them so much they run themselves to death.”
“Come on David. You can’t make choices for everybody else, you have to let him accept some of the consequences for the decisions he’s made. There’s a lot more going on here than just what you had to tell him.”
“Hmm,” David still couldn’t help feeling somewhat responsible. Both of these outlaws had proven to be quite a challenge. David was coming to the realization that their priorities were different from other peoples, so their behavior tended to be desperate and unpredictable. Though he still didn’t hold with Morrison’s abuse of his prisoners, David was beginning to appreciate the lawman’s attitude a little bit better
Just then there was a soft knock on the door and Rick entered the room.
“Are you finished up in here Doc?” he asked.
“Yes, for now.”
Then Rick proceeded around to the other side of the bed, and taking Curry’s left hand, he snapped on a pair of handcuffs and then snapped the other end of them to the ironworks of the headboard. He sent a small smile over to David and Tricia and then walked out of the room. He had meant it; he was never going to underestimate Jed Curry again.
Early evening settled in around the household, and those people heading into town had long since departed. Rick had given Sam strict instruction to not—except under the most dire of circumstances—release Curry from the handcuffs, and even then the Deputy felt some trepidation at leaving the outlaw in the younger man’s custody. Still, Sam had not let them down yet and it would be on that young man’s head if he did so now.
Jesse and Bridget had not returned yet, but that wasn’t surprising. They would have had a busy day and there were still a couple of hours of daylight left so plenty of time yet for them to get home. Belle had prepared a light supper for everyone, since after the stressful events of the day, nobody was particularly hungry and then she had settled herself with J.J. out in the rocking chair on the front porch to snatch a little bit of time for herself. She had a relaxing cup of tea by her side, her son cooing in her arms, and a peaceful, pleasant evening to help wash away the fears of that afternoon.
Sam was sitting at the dinning room table writing a letter to his mother, while Beth was finishing up in the kitchen and putting things away. When she was done with her chores, she quietly stood in the hallway for a moment, making doubly sure that the other occupants of the house had their attentions elsewhere and then she crept, silent as a mouse, into Thaddeus’ room.
She stood for a few minutes just inside the door, watching him sleep, her pulse racing with the anticipation of what she intended to do. She couldn’t believe how nervous she was. Her breathing quickened and her heart was beating so fast, she was certain it was going to jump up into her throat and strangle her. Gradually she made her way over to his bed, wiping the sweating palms of her hands on her skirt as she did so. She almost wanted to call the whole thing off, but then she knew she would regret it if she did, and if she was going to do this, now was her best chance.
She ran her eyes along his left arm up to the hand laying palm up on the pillow and the shinny metal cuff encircling his wrist, and then along the chain to the second cuff attached to the wrought iron bar. She felt a strange stirring inside and it scared her a little. That wasn’t right was it? To feel arousal over Thaddeus being shackled? Everything she thought she knew about what nice girls felt told her that that was a bad thing. But she couldn’t help it. There was just something exciting about it—something dangerous.
She was so nervous that her teeth were starting to chatter, just a little. She decided that if she was going to do this, she’d better do it now or she was going to faint. She half sat and half kneeled onto the bed and leaning forward looked at Thaddeus straight in the face to make sure that he was definitely asleep. She thought of his brilliant blue eyes and his gentle smile and then she leaned into him even more, closed her eyes and planted her lips gently onto his. The emotion of the contact took her breath away and she had to back off for an instant, or be strangled by it. She opened her eyes and gazed at his restful face and then leaned in and kissed him again.
She had more control this time and she savored the moment, taking in his scent, feeling the tickle of his breath on her nose, the softness of his lips pressed against hers, and then the hardness of his teeth beyond them.
She lingered there for a heartbeat (or two or three) and then gradually backed off, her whole being tingling with the excitement of the moment and the thrill of having accomplished her mission. She smiled softly and sat back onto the bed, gently caressing his right hand.
“What are you doing in there?”
Beth just about jumped out of her skin, and then sent a defensive scowl in Sam’s direction.
“Nothing,” she answered him. “Just sitting with my friend for a while. Is that alright with you?”
“Well, yeah,” answered Sam a little embarrassed. “You just should have let me know is all. You don’t know what he might get up to.”
Beth sent him a look as he headed back to the table to finish his letter and then her countenance softened completely as she turned her attention back to Thaddeus. She took his right hand in hers again and squeezed it affectionately. The smile that returned to her face was heaven.
The household finally settled down for the night. As soon as Jesse had gotten home he knew that something was up, but Belle was not inclined to say anything to him about it just yet. He knew that a lot of their serious discussions took place once the household was quiet and they had the comfort of their bed and each other’s arms to make the hard stuff easier. Jesse was willing to wait. Belle herself had intended to not say anything until the following morning, since she knew that once Jesse knew about the events of that afternoon, he was not likely to get any sleep at all. But not telling him was preventing her from getting any sleep so it was a pointless effort.
The whole household, except for poor Sam, had finally gone to bed when Jesse let his wife know that it was time to ‘spill the beans’ so that maybe they could both get some sleep. Belle, safely nestled in her husbands arms broke down and related the events of the day to him. It was not easy for her to talk about it, and when she got to the part where Beth had come between Thaddeus and the rifle her throat tightened and she felt tears begin to well up. Jesse tensed and she could feel his anger and frustration at not being home at that time to protect his family.
When she had finished talking, Jesse didn’t say anything. Belle knew that he was taking time to digest all that she had told him and to let his emotions settle down before making any decisions about what the next step was going to be. Jesse was not the type of man who reacted on impulse. But react, he would, and as head of the household, whatever decisions he came to concerning their current situation would be respected and carried out.
Next morning Beth and Bridget were both well aware of a slight strain in the air over the breakfast table and knew that a family 'discussion' was in the works. Beth knew that her little over-reaction of the previous day was not going to go un-noticed and breakfast was a difficult meal to get down with a knot in her stomach. Bridget felt sympathetic to her sister’s plight, but also selfishly relieved that she’d had nothing to do with the incident and was therefore safe from the predestined lecture.
It was therefore with some surprise and self-righteous indignation that she responded to her father’s accusation that she was also standing accused of misconduct.
“But Papa! I was with you all day yesterday," Bridget reasoned quite logically. “How could I have had anything to do it?”
“I am not referring to what happened yesterday Bridget,” her father countered. “but to a minor incident of someone in this household slipping a lock pick to Joshua.”
The wind went out of Bridget’s sails like a balloon bouncing into a cactus. She turned a shade pink and Beth feeling relieved that not all of this was going to be on her gave her sister a small kick under the table and snickered into her oatmeal.
“Joshua suggested that I not be too hard on you as you were only trying to help,” Jesse continued.
“I was,” Bridget responded in a small voice.
“Help a wanted criminal escape legal custody….again!” Bridget hung her head even more. “It was bad enough four years ago and the consequence of that decision was that your mother very nearly went to prison!” Guilty glances over towards their mother. “We chalked it up to immaturity, that you were both still impressionable children and that, hopefully you had learned a valuable lesson. Obviously we were wrong because you are not a child anymore Bridget, you are an adult and if Joshua had decided to use that pick and in fact escape custody you could very easily have been held accountable and ended up in prison yourself! That would really have gone a long way towards you getting any sort of legal education wouldn’t it?”
“I didn’t think of that,” Bridget mumbled. “I’m sorry Papa.”
“Well, if you ever see Joshua again, I believe he’s the one you need to apologize to,” Jesse told her. “He’s the one who suffered the consequences of your irresponsible decision this time. To his credit he refused to say who had given him the pick, but Sheriff Morrison beat him up pretty good trying to convince him otherwise.”
Bridget gasped in fear and guilt. “Oh no Papa! I wouldn’t have wanted that to happen! Is he alright? Was he badly hurt?”
“I believe it would be safe to say that he is still feeling the affects of it.”
Guilty silence ensued. Jesse turned his attention to his younger daughter.
“Beth. What in the world were you thinking? You scared your mother half to death!”
“I know,” Beth answered quietly, then built up a head of steam. “But Deputy Layton said he was going to kill Thaddeus! I heard him say it! What else was I suppose to do?!”
“LET HIM!” Jesse yelled for the first time during this ‘discussion’. “BETTER THADDEUS THAN YOU! And I’m pretty darn sure that if you were to ask Thaddeus about that he would agree with me!”
“But Papa….” Beth looked up at her father with tears beginning to well up. How could she tell him that she loved Thaddeus and that she couldn’t stand by and watch him be killed any more than she could chop off her own arm. She dropped her eyes again and the tears started to run over.
It broke Jesse’s heart to have to speak to his daughters this way, but he had to get it through to them that they couldn’t just make rash decisions and expect everything to turn out alright. To soften the blow to them, he admitted to some guilt in the matter himself.
“I invited them to come and visit,” he said. “They were smart enough to stay away, knowing they could bring trouble with them and put us at risk, but I insisted they come by. For that mistake on my part we have all paid a heavy price.”
“No, Belle. It’s the truth,” Jesse insisted. “And now, it pains me to say it, but if by chance Joshua or Thaddeus decide to break legal custody and continue on with this dangerous path they have chosen, then they will not be welcomed back into my home.”
This statement was met with gasps of disbelief
“You can’t mean that!”
“But Jesse…” even Belle was upset by this decree. “I’ve assured both those boys that we would stand by them, that they are family and would always be welcome here.”
“I know,” Jesse nodded sadly. “I’ve said as much myself and I’ll still stand by my word if they choose to stop running, to stop and turn and face what is coming to them.”
“But twenty years, Jesse…”
“I know,” Jesse said again. “It’s a risk, and I can understand both of them being terrified of the outcome of standing trial. But they both made choices and it’s time they faced the consequences of those choices. "Otherwise the path they are on now can only end badly, for them and for those close to them and I will not put my family in any further danger.” Jesse paused and looked around at the three distraught faces looking back at him. “The governor may still come through for them.” Belle rolled her eyes, she obviously didn’t think there was much credence to that. “Or a judge and jury may take into account their years of trying to stay legal and be lenient.” Even Jesse wasn’t sounding too hopeful at these possibilities.
“Well, it seems a moot point anyways,” Belle commented. “since they are both now in custody and not likely to have any choice….”
Her observation was cut short by Jesse shaking his head. “Belle, from what I have seen and heard these last couple of weeks, all those rumours and the dime novel stories we’ve read about them don’t even come close to the real animal. I watched Joshua pick open a lock in less than five seconds, with his hands cuffed behind him. And he wasn’t even using a real lock pick! If he decided he was going to leave, there is not a jail in the country that could hold him.
"No. He has a choice, and so does Thaddeus. If those boys were our own natural born sons we would not be putting up with this nonsense from them and you know it.” Belle had to concede that point. “If they care about this family, and want the privilege of being a part of it then it’s time that they faced up to the consequences of the choices they have made and allow themselves to stand trial.”
“I did WHAT!?”
Kid Curry was sitting fully dressed on the bed with his stocking feet stretched out in front of him. With the one arm bandaged tight, in a sling, and the other cuffed to the bed he found himself so incapable of doing anything that he was bored beyond distraction. To help alleviate the situation Beth and Bridget had drawn up chairs around the bed and were filling him in on his activities of the previous day. Rick had also taken up residence and was leaning against the door jam, quite prepared to confirm everything the girls were relating to their friend.
“No, I couldn’t have done that,” Curry continued to protest. “How could I have done that? I didn’t do that, did I? I don’t remember—how could I have gone out the window, I can barely stand up! Beth, you did WHAT!? What did you do that for? You could have been killed! Don’t ever do that again! Ohhh, Jesse must be furious! This isn’t right. No, no, this isn’t right at all. I’ve got to leave. I’ve got to get out of here.”
Rick, who had been silently listening in amazement to this running monologue instantly tensed with that last statement and prepared to do battle. Curry, who noticed this change in Rick’s attitude, smiled sheepishly and quickly back stepped.
“Ahhh, no Deputy I didn’t mean it that way," he assured the man holding the Winchester. “I didn’t mean like ‘escape’. I meant as in away from here, like into town. To the jail, yes! Okay? Ahhh, not escape, Deputy, believe me. I just meant….” Curry sighed and realized he was rambling. That was the problem with feeling better and having nothing to do. He was slowly going nuts.
Then Jesse appeared in the doorway and the atmosphere in the room changed again.
“Girls, Deputy. Would you excuse us please.”
Beth and Bridget exchanged worried glances, then with quick looks over at their friend they got up and exited the room. Rick had already disappeared.
Jesse came in and closed the door. He moved one of the chairs closer to the bed and sat down. Both men assessed one another.
“Jesse, I’m sorry. You know I’d never intentionally do anything to put the girls in danger. I don’t even remember any of it. I don’t care if David says I’m not well enough to leave, I’ll go. Right now. Rick can escort me into town. I’ll do just as well in a jail cell and it’ll be a lot safer for everyone here if I go. Besides, it’ll be closer for David to check up on me if I’m in town and Tricia won’t have to come out here everyday and Belle and the girls can get back to their regular routine and you won’t have to worry about anything happening while you’re away and I’m sure you’d be quite happy to get Rick out from under foot…..” Curry trailed off, realizing he was rambling again.
“Are you done?”
Curry sighed again. “I’m sorry Jesse.”
“I know. And yes, it would be better if you were in town.” Curry nodded. “But I do care about what David says, and if he doesn’t think you’re ready for that move yet then you are not leaving.” Curry was about to protest, but Jesse cut him off. “On the condition that you don’t pull another stunt like that again.”
“Of course Jesse,” Kid agreed. “I don’t know what I was thinking, I wasn’t thinking! I wasn’t in my right head.”
“I know,” Jesse said again. “That’s the only reason you’re still here. Although it appears that Rick is not prepared to take any more chances on you,” as he sent a quick look to the handcuffs. “I’ve noticed that Joshua can make quick work of a pair of those.”
Curry smiled. “Yeah, he’s pretty amazing.”
“Which brings me to my other condition,” Jesse continued, and Kid stopped smiling. “You boys are family. You have been since you first stepped foot onto our property four years ago. I don’t really know how that happened but it did. Maybe we just represent something that has been missing in your lives, I don’t know. But there it is; we’re family. But members of a family have responsibilities to one another, to support one another through the tough times. And to take into consideration the choices we make and the effect of those choices on the other people involved.
“I have every intention of helping you and Joshua in every way I can that’s legal. I offered to put up Josh’s bail and I’ll do the same for you because I’ve chosen to trust that you respect me enough that you won’t high-tail it and leave me holding the bag. I’ll help with the lawyer fees as much as I can, we’ve got some fine yearlings up there, and they’ll bring a good price.
“But I offer this only if you hold up your end of the deal and that is that you and Joshua stop running. That even if the opportunity presents itself for you to break custody, you will not do it. It’s time you boys faced up to this and got it dealt with one way or another. You’ve both mentioned being tired of the running, the hardships and dangers of living that lifestyle. You are both, understandably angry and frustrated with the governor’s apparent duplicity on the amnesty issue. Well, now it’s time to call him on it and find out once and for all where you stand. You do that, and like I say, I’ll stand by you in every way that I can. Are you agreeable to this?”
“Perhaps you need some time to think about it,” Jesse suggested, and he stood up preparing to leave.
“No,” Kid stopped him with the quick word. “No Jesse, I was just trying to figure out how to express my gratitude. Heyes is a lot better with words than I am.” Jesse couldn’t help but smile at that. “After all that has happened here, your friendship and support is far more than what we deserve. For my part I agree to your conditions. I can only assume that because Heyes is still in custody that he has also decided to stop running. You’re right Jesse—as usual—you’re right. It’s time to face the consequences.”
TO BE CONTINUED
Last edited by Keays on Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Consequences. Chapter five. Part one Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:39 am|| |
Jesse come across as a strong man and a force for good in this one. The will need good, upright people around them the way this is heading.
No wonder Belle was so worried, can you imagine being a mother and seeing your child doing something as dangerous as Beth did?
Poor Jed is so terribly wounded but his spirit isn't broken. A wonderful read.
|Subject: Re: Consequences. Chapter five. Part one || |
Consequences. Chapter five. Part one