Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Settling Wheat – Part Twenty One (Formula) Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:49 am|| |
Settling Wheat – Part Twenty One (Formula)Kid sat on the back porch, enjoying the warm sun. He was continuing his recuperation by dozing under his hat. After getting back from Longwater, with a little help from some laudanum, he had slept soundly until the next morning. He had mooched aimlessly about the house that day, doing odd jobs, played with the boys and Heyes had found him in his study, reading. After another good sleep, today he was feeling better.
Heyes sat next to him, a newspaper spread over the table in front of him. He hadn’t sat out much since he was well enough so although it wasn’t cold, Mary had insisted on draping a blanket around his shoulders. He had suffered her fussing in silence, ignoring the Kid’s smirk at his disgusted face, and shrugged the blanket off once Mary had gone. Two hours later, he’d decided that it WAS chilly in the shade and the blanket was back round him.
The rustle of the newspaper as Heyes turned the pages eventually filtered into the Kid’s subconscious and woke him.
He sat up straighter, pushing his hat back. He blinked awake, his eyes coming to rest on the children, playing on the lawn in front of them. He frowned. He couldn’t make out what they were doing. Susan was leading the boys about the lawn and all three were prancing around in a stiff and jerky way, arms in the air.
“What are your kids doing?”
Heyes looked up.
“Oh, being Pinocchio* I think.” He returned to his paper unconcerned.
“Yes. It's a children's story. Your boys are probably too young for it yet. It's about a marionette, a puppet that’s manipulated by wires, who wants to be a REAL boy. Y'know, kinda like you did after reading all those dime novels about us.” Heyes kept his head down to hide his smile, well aware of the evil look coming his way.
The Kid grunted.
"Kid Curry always got the girl that's why.”
“Yeah after you’d caused her to faint and had to pick her up off the floor.”
“At least I GOT the girl. Don’t remember the girl EVER going for that other fella," he murmured.
Heyes’ smile turned to a frown at the dig. Yet he didn’t mind too much. It felt good to josh around with the Kid again. A sure sign that the Kid was coming out of the despondent mood he had been in since his return from Longwater.
Then before either could say anymore, they heard a buggy pulling up at the front of the house.
"Must be Cowdry back from visiting Rose," the Kid said, settling down to snooze some more.
Heyes nodded in agreement. "How's that going? Is it serious?"
The Kid shrugged. "Dunno, but it seems to be."
It was Cowdry but he wasn't alone. Lom and Gruber had caught up with him along the road and had kept company for the rest of the way.
"Hallo, hallo," greeted Lom, as he appeared on the porch. "How ya doing, Kid?" His hand rested on the Kid’s good shoulder. This was the first time he had been out to Amnesty since the Kid had returned from Longwater.
"Hey, Lom. I'm okay. Good to see ya." He nodded to Gruber.
They dispensed with the formalities as neither seated man could shake hands. Heyes gestured to the chairs on the other side of the table as he folded his newspaper awkwardly.
"I'll make some coffee!" Came Mary's voice from inside.
“I’ll help,” said Cowdry and took himself off with a nod.
"Thanks." Heyes turned to the two unexpected visitors. "So, to what do we owe this pleasure?"
Lom and Gruber swopped looks. Lom went first.
"We have news," he said.
“About Bloodstone?” the Kid asked.
“Should we go to my study?” Heyes asked, his eyes flicking to the children who had stopped playing. They were looking unsure whether they ought to come over and say hallo. Sheriff Lom only came socially with Mrs Lom and family.
Lom gathered what he was meaning. “Ye-ah,” he said, levering himself out of the chair he had settled in a moment before.
Some minutes later, the men assembled in Heyes’ study. Cowdry joined them a short while later, carrying a tray with coffee and cups. He was about to go when Gruber called him back.
“This concerns you, Mr Cowdry. Please stay.”
Cowdry glanced at the Kid for confirmation.
“Take a seat, Paul.”
Once everyone had settled, Gruber began.
“Bloodstone has been transferred to the federal prison in Cheyenne. Carl Didcot and the Bulmer brothers are there as well.”
“Good,” Heyes and the Kid said together.
“It’s going to take a while to come to trial. There’s a lot of paperwork to go through. Not just because of this incident but there are others as well. The investigators keep coming across new ones.”
“I bet. It sounds as though Bloodstone was at this a long time,” Heyes said, sipping his coffee.
“Yes he was.” Gruber paused. “Mr Curry, Mr Cowdry, you will of course be asked to give evidence,” Gruber said.
The Kid nodded. “Yeah I figured,” he said, reluctantly. “Any idea how long? Time’s getting on. I’d kinda like to get back to Boston soon.”
Gruber considered. “I don’t know for sure but I’m told there will be a preliminary hearing next month. Under the circumstances, it’s possible you can give your testimony then. I’ll make enquiries.”
“Thank you.” The Kid paused. “How’s he holding up?”
Gruber knew he meant Bloodstone. “Not too well. He’s being watched round the clock.”
They all knew what that meant. Bloodstone was a suicide risk. The realisation that their actions had raised that possibility was an uncomfortable one. The room was silent as they pondered on it.
“And Jeremiah? How’s he?” Heyes asked.
Gruber nodded. “Healing,” he smiled, in the Kid’s direction. “Technically he hadn’t done much wrong so any charges that might have resulted have been dismissed. He’s prepared to give evidence against Bloodstone. So that swayed it I think.”
“Ooh, I bet that’s gone down well in his house. Isn’t his wife Bloodstone’s sister?” Lom asked.
Gruber rolled his eyes. “Er yes. I should imagine the atmosphere is rather difficult but she’s sticking by her husband. For now.”
“And the Longwater Mill?” Heyes asked.
Gruber shrugged and Heyes nodded. “Time will tell I guess.” He looked up. “Will Sam Flixton have to give evidence?”
Gruber nodded. “Yes.”
Heyes winced. He knew that wouldn’t go down well with Sam but he also knew that he would do his duty. “Guess we always knew we couldn’t really keep him out of it,” he muttered.
Cowdry frowned and dug into his jacket pocket. “Talking of mills.” He throw a lopsided grin when everyone looked at him. Were we, they seemed to ask. “This is Mr Flixton’s formula. Not the real formula of course but his fake formula,” Cowdry said, holding the slip of paper out to the Kid.
The Kid studied it for a moment. “Looks like a lot of letters and numbers to me,” the Kid said, dismissively. “Could be anything.”
Heyes held out his hand for the slip of paper. The Kid got up and handed it over. Heyes unfolded it and read it. He smiled, then he chuckled and then it became a full-blown laugh. The others (Kid, Lom and Gruber) looked on frowning. Only Cowdry had a knowing smile.
“Care to share, Heyes,” the Kid said, figuring the laughter had gone on long enough. He had forgotten that there was one person in the room who didn’t know who Heyes was.
Gruber frowned. What had Curry called Smith? Then he realised. Ah, yes of course! Why hadn’t he seen it before?
Heyes held out the slip of paper. A frustrated Kid snatched the paper from his hand and looked at it. What he read still made no sense. Certainly nothing, that should cause the mirth on his partner’s face.
“I don’t get it,” he declared, shuddered and passed it to Lom. Lom pulled a face, shook his head and passed it to Gruber. He put his finger to his lips as he studied it.
“I know a little about chemistry. Is this … ?”
“Yep. It sure is,” Heyes confirmed, with a delighted grin.
“WHAT!” the Kid and Lom chorused and then looked embarrassed that they didn’t know what everyone else seemed to.
“It’s really very clever, Kid. Couldn’ta thought of better myself. I’ll read it to you.” Heyes took the slip back from Gruber. “C6H1206(S) + 602(g) - → 6C02(g) + 6H20(g).”
Lom and the Kid glazed over.
“It’s the formula for an explosion in a custard pie factory sir,” Cowdry explained but not explaining anything.
“Or to put it more correctly, it is the chemical equation for the oxidisation of glucose in the custard powder,” Heyes clarified, with a look to Cowdry, who nodded in acknowledgement of the clearer explanation.
The Kid glared at them hard. The two men could have been brothers, separated at birth. Then sighed and shook his head. “How d’ya KNOW these things?!” He stomped away, feeling his hurt shoulder. He dropped into a wingback chair in disgust.
Heyes and Cowdry swapped grins.
“Awh, Kid, don’t feel too bad. Sam had to come up with something that would fool Jeremiah. He has to know some chemistry so Sam was taking a risk using this.” Heyes grinned. He pursed his lips. “But then again perhaps Sam was trying to warn him.”
“Yes sir that’s what I thought. So not knowing Mr Flixton’s intentions exactly, I didn’t think I could give it to Mr Curry,” Cowdry said.
Heyes gave him a tight-lipped nod. “But I have to say … .” He chuckled again. “It’s very clever.”
The Kid didn’t look as though he was mollified in anyway.
Lom smiled and got up. Knowing Heyes and Curry as well as he did, the pair were likely to start bickering. He didn’t want to be around if they did. “Come on Marshall, let’s leave these good folks.”
The Kid got up as well. “I’ll er see ya out.”
After the door closed, Heyes looked at Cowdry, who although on his feet was hesitating.
“Something I can help you with Paul?”
“Er yes sir. Perhaps.”
“Take a seat.” He nodded to the chair the Kid had just vacated.
“No sir. Thank you sir but I’d prefer to stand. Um … .”
Heyes leant forward and smiled. “Paul, whatever it is, I won’t bite.”
“No sir I know that. ‘Least I hope not. Um … .” Cowdry absently sat on the pouffe. “It’s about Rose sir.”
Heyes picked up his coffee and pulled a face. It was cold. “Rose?” He put the cup down quickly and sighed. He could really do with another cup but he knew the pot was empty. When he looked up, he smiled. He felt quite flattered. So Paul was asking him for advice on women, was he? Not that he was surprised. After all, he had written a little romance into his book and Paul HAD complimented him on its realism.
“I was thinking about your book sir.” His eyes strayed to the neat pile of paper on the desk, sitting next to the notebook pages and other assorted scrapes of paper containing the scribbled second half of the manuscript.
“Oh,” Heyes’ face fell. That wasn’t the turn he thought this conversation should be taking.
“Well, I was just wondering … . If you would like some professional help sir. Temporarily, while you’re incapacitated.”
Heyes glanced at the piles on his desk and wrinkled his nose. “There is a lot to type isn’t there?”
“Yes sir and Rose is trained.”
“Trained?” Heyes frowned. “I thought she was a waitress?”
“Yes sir she is. Was.” He shook his head. “Not really sir.” Cowdry sighed.
Heyes raised his eyebrows in question.
“Rose was only waitressing while she was looking for a position sir. She graduated last month, second in her class, from secretarial college.”
“Her speeds are impressive sir. She can type at sixty words per minute.”
Heyes nodded. That was impressive. Certainly faster than his two fingered speed. When he had two fingers available of course.
“And her shorthand sir. Seventy words a minute. Not the fastest but that will come … .”
“You could dictate sir.”
“Even if she only clears the backlog sir. I’m sure … .”
“Cowdry!” Heyes pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’ve convinced me. Have her come see me.”
Cowdry grinned. “Yes sir. Thank you sir.”
ASJASJASJASJRose presented herself, front and centre, in Heyes’ study the next day. He was sitting on the chaise lounge and had already apologised for not getting up.
“Sit down Rose,” Heyes said to the smartly turned out and rather nervous young woman in front of him. “Please. You don’t want me to get a crick neck on top of all my other … handicaps do you?”
“No sir.” Rose perched on the edge of the nearest wingback chair. Heyes looked up at Cowdry and flicked him away.
Rose looked up in alarm but Cowdry just smiled reassuringly, nodded and closed the door.
“Rose, Paul tells me that you have recently graduated from secretarial college? With speeds in typing and shorthand that are impressive.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.”
“Joshua. My name is Joshua, Rose,” he smiled, trying to put her at ease.
Rose smiled weakly and nodded.
“Has Paul explained to you that I am in the middle of writing a book?”
“Yes sir,” Rose nodded and swallowed hard. “Yes Joshua he has. From what he’s told me it’s quite a mystery.”
Heyes smiled faintly at Rose’s slip up and the speed in which she corrected herself. “Yes but it won’t be unless I can get it finished.” He flicked his thumb behind him to the paperwork on his desk. “I’m a little behind with the typing. Before we go any further, we should see if you can read my writing. It’s not the best as I was using my left hand until Paul started to help me. Have a look see.” Then he added to himself, not sure I can read all of it!
Rose got up and looked at the untidy pile of papers to the right of the typewriter. Heyes slid onto the pouffe so he could see her.
Absently Rose sat down as she studied the scraps, her brow furrowed in concentration. One particular piece she turned round and then back. Then her face lit up into a smile and she put it on the successfully deciphered pile. Heyes watched her work her way through. She stopped every now and then and read snippets in the hope he would know what a word was. Generally, he could glean what it was meant to be by the context. He stopped her when she had reached the sheets Paul had written.
“How was that?” he asked.
“A little difficult but once I got my eye in, it became easier.”
Heyes beamed. “Good. Are you familiar with that sorta typewriter?” He nodded to the machine beside her.
“Yes, it’s a Remington 2. I used all the popular models at College but this is by far the best. In my opinion of course.”
Heyes nodded. “I think so too. It’s designed for speed but my two-fingered technique doesn’t do it justice I’m afraid. Would you type up one of Paul’s sheets for me, please? There’s paper to your right.” He pulled himself back onto the chaise longue so he couldn’t see her. “I won’t put you off by watching. Take your time.”
He picked up the book he was reading but in reality, he was listening. To paper inserted; far quicker and easily than he managed and no swearing! A couple of hesitant strokes of the keyboard, a pause for typewriter repositioning, the chair moving to a more comfortable position and then she was off, rattling away at an impressive rate. Heyes smiled. He’d have this written in no time. When the click clacking stopped, he heard the sheet removed and Rose appeared in front of him. She held the typewritten sheet and Paul’s manuscript out to him.
“Would you like to check it?”
“I would thank you.” He waved her down into a chair.
Rose tried not to watch as he compared. He seemed to take ages and she sat nervously twisting her fingers together. At last, he looked up and smiled, obviously pleased with the results.
“Well done, Rose. That’s perfect. Paul tells me you can take dictation as well.” She nodded.“Would you hand me that little green book, please?” He pointed to the bookshelves behind her.
Rose got up and fetched it. Heyes noted that she resisted the temptation to look at the title. Hmmm, she wanted this test to be blind as well. Interesting. He stored that away.
“Thanks.” He opened the book seemingly at random but he had secretly prepared this page.“Somewhere on the desk there is a notepad and pencil. Sharpen it if you need to. Then come and sit yourself down on the pouffe.”
Rose nodded and went off to do that. With her out of sight, Heyes slipped a folded sheet of paper from the top pocket of his shirt. It had taken him ages, one fingered, to type a small passage of related but not in the book narrative. This he now secreted in the book and held it so she wouldn’t see.
When Rose was back and seated on the pouffe, notepad and pencil at the ready, he smiled at her again, both dimples fully displayed.
Rose blushed, smiled and nodded.
“Okay let’s start.” Heyes began to read a passage from the book at normal speaking speed.Rose scribbled away. He glanced at her. She didn’t look too fazed and appeared to be keeping up. The book passage read, he carried on with the alternative passage he’d written. Rose finished a beat behind him with a period and smiled.
“Did you know that passage, Rose?”
Heyes flicked to the cover and the embossed lettering on the front. “Well I can tell you it is from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Page one hundred and two to be exact. It’s a particular favourite of Mr Curry’s.” He paused. “Now I’m not gonna pretend that I can read shorthand Rose so er … would you type it up for me, please?”
Rose nodded. “Of course.”
A few minutes later, she had finished and Heyes was once again comparing her work. Rose was looking anxious again. Heyes looked up and smiled.
“Don’t look so worried, Rose. You’ve got the job if you want it.”
Rose sighed in relief and smiled. “Thank you. Yes I would.”
“Okay, in that case I’m prepared to offer you … .” He considered. “Eight dollars a week to include a room in town. No point in you coming all the way from Cheyenne every day.”
Rose beamed. That was much more than she expected. “Thank you. That’s very generous. I accept.”
“Well I dunno how long this will last Rose,” he cautioned. “Could just be a few weeks.”
Rose nodded. “I understand. At least I’ll have something to put on my resumè. It’s looking a little blank at the moment.”
Heyes smiled. “Well we all have to start somewhere and no doubt I will be able to give you a good reference at the end.” He licked his lips and hesitated. “However, before we finalise things, there’s something you should know.” Heyes sat up on the chase lounge and threw his legs over the side. “This is kinda important and I’ll understand if you wanna change your mind and say no.”
Rose frowned. There was no reason why she would say no to a job, any job, right now. Unless of course if it was something unwholesome or illegal. Mr Smith wasn’t asking her to do any such thing.
“What I’m gonna tell you Rose is a secret and I want your promise that you won’t tell anyone. Even if the answer is no.”
Rose hesitated. What could it be? He looked very serious. She needed this job. It sounded interesting and she wanted it. She nodded slowly.
“Okay. Well d’you remember the conversation we had when you came with Anne Godfrey that first time?” Rose nodded. “We revealed to you that Paul’s employer, Mr Curry, was known in the past as Kid Curry?”
“Well Kid Curry had a partner.” Heyes licked his lips. “His name is Hannibal Heyes.” He paused, hoping realisation would kick in and he wouldn’t have to say it. Unfortunately it didn’t, so he did. “That’s me.”
“I really don’t know much about Kid Curry. I thought he was just a character in a dime novel.”
Heyes rolled his eyes. “Yes you made that clear.” He took a deep breath. “So you don’t know Kid Curry was an outlaw?” Rose shook her head and looked doubtful. “He used to rob banks and trains. Famous for it.”
Rose shook her head again. “I had a sheltered childhood, Mr Smith.”
Heyes nodded. That would account for why Rose was so sketchy on recent history. Because that’s what it was. History. He wasn’t sure how he felt as the realisation hit him that she had never heard of him. Relieved or disappointed?
He took a deep breath. “Kid Curry and I used to lead a gang of outlaws, called the Devil’s Hole Gang. Heard of them?” Rose shook her head but seemed to sink further back into her chair, as if to put some distance between them. “The Governor of Wyoming gave us both an amnesty … oh getting on for ten years ago. We’re both free men. We’re not wanted anymore and we’re both living productive and law abiding lives now.” He put his head down and swallowed. “While Mr Curry can live openly as himself in Boston, I live here under the name of Joshua Smith. My wife knows who I was but very few folks in town do. I want to keep it that way.” He paused. “At least for now. There’ll come a time when I can ‘fess up but I’m not there yet. And I don’t want my hand forced.” He looked at her hard. “Do you understand me, Rose?”
“Yes,” she said, in a small voice.
“So, given what I’ve just told you, do you think you can still work for me?”
Rose seemed to take ages to make a decision. It suddenly occurred to him that her answer was important and he was nervous as he waited.
Finally, she nodded. Heyes smiled in relief. “Good, then we have a deal. Shall we start on Monday?”
Rose smiled and nodded. “That will give me time to tell my parents and find somewhere to stay in town.” She gathered her things and got up.
“Yep.” Heyes pulled himself back onto the chaise lounge. “Say Rose?”
She looked back.
“None of my business I know but how’s things with Paul?”
She blushed. “They’re … progressing.”
Heyes smiled knowingly. “Good.”
After Rose had gone, the Kid returned.
“Paul told me why she was here. Did you take her on?” he whispered, as he closed the door. Cowdry and Rose were in the hall.
“Yep. She’s very good. Take a look.” He indicated the typewritten sheets on the desk.
The Kid crossed and studied them. “Hmm, very neat. Wish my typewriters were half this good.”
“Kid, if things work out between her and Paul, she just might be coming back to Boston with you,” Heyes grinned.
“What makes you think that?”
Heyes looked smug. “Kid, there’s a formula for everything. Me giving her a job is just part of the equation!”
The Kid looked at him with a shudder.*Pinocchio – although written in 1883, it wasn’t translated into English until 1904, a little later than this is set but hey, we all know Heyes was prescient!
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname