Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Settling Wheat – Part Twenty Four (Curry) Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:11 am|| |
Settling Wheat – Part Twenty Four (Curry)I didn’t think I could write a court scene so I decided not to try. Suffice it to say, the Kid, Cowdry and Sam Flixton all made their statements at the preliminary hearing. Twelve other similar cases against Bloodstone were brought before the court. To everyone’s surprise, Bloodstone pleaded guilty, therefore saving himself the ordeal of a prolonged trial. He was sentenced to ten years in a Federal Penitentiary. Didcot wanted his day in court and found guilty of murder on several counts. He hung two days later. The Bulmer brothers were sent to prison for three years. For a whole host of petty crimes alongside the kidnap of Cowdry.The receptionist at the Flixton Mill greeted the man who walked in with an appreciative smile. It was not often a man that handsome and so smartly turned out came to the Mill.
“Good afternoon, sir. May I help you?” she asked, pleasantly, trying to keep her stomach from flipping when he smiled back.
“Yes. I have an appointment with Mr Flixton. Name’s Jones.”
She looked down at the appointment book.
“Yes, Mr Jones, you are expected. Mr Flixton is running a little late. Please take a seat,”
The Kid smiled and nodded.
It was ten minutes before he heard Sam’s voice, then his office door opened. The Kid put down the newspaper he had been reading and started. Oh, this might be awkward! Out of Sam’s office, stepped Jeremiah Curry, arm in a sling. The Kid got to his feet. He was fully aware that the reason for the sling was his stray bullet.
Jeremiah pulled up short when he saw who was in reception.
“Mr Curry,” he nodded.
“Mr Curry.” The Kid hesitated, his eyes flicking to Jeremiah’s shoulder. “How is it?”
Jeremiah looked at his shoulder. “Getting better, thank you.”
“No lasting damage, I hope,” the Kid smiled.
Jeremiah returned his smile faintly. “That remains to be seen but er … .” He glanced back atSam, standing by his office door. “No I don’t think so.” He nodded. “Good day, Mr Curry.”
The Kid nodded and watched him go. Then Sam beckoned him into his office.
“Hallo Sam,” he greeted as they shook hands. “I didn’t expect to see him.”
“No, I didn’t intend you to,” Sam said, looking embarrassed. “Our discussions took longer than I thought. Do sit down.”
The Kid sat in the chair that was still warm from the other Mr Curry, which made him feel slightly uncomfortable. Despite what Sam had said, had he REALLY intended for him to run into Jeremiah Curry?
“I expect you’re wondering why Jeremiah was here?” Sam asked, seemingly reading the Kid’s thoughts.
The Kid shrugged and flashed a grin. “Well it’s a free country, Sam. None of my business.”
Sam winced and scratched his ear. “It kinda is. If what you’re here for is what I HOPE you’re here for.” He licked his lips and looked embarrassed. “But then I shouldn’t presume should I?”
The Kid leaned forward. “You’re right Sam. This isn’t a social call.” The Kid hesitated. “How’s Jeremiah doing?”
Sam paused. “He’s not. He’s filed for bankruptcy.”
Both men sat in awkward silence for a moment.
“I asked him to come here,” Sam said, finally. “I’ve made him an offer for his Mill.”
The Kid was surprised. “After what he tried to do to you?”
Sam winced. “It wasn’t him was it? He was desperate and I … well I like Jeremiah. I respect him. He’s a good paper manufacturer and he’s been in this game longer than I have.”
“Is he gonna accept?”
“I think so. He doesn’t really have any choice. I made him a fair offer and … .” Sam hesitated. “I offered to keep him on as Manager BUT … .” He hesitated again. “I plan to convert to using woodchips. Rags just aren’t viable anymore and I can’t keep it running as it is.”
The Kid nodded and sat back in his chair. “So a reliable supply of fibrous talc would be handy then?” he said, casually.
Sam tried to stop the smile but failed. “Yes it would. Do you know of one?”
“I might. The owner of Pine Lake could probably help you there.”
Sam smile widened. “If I knew who that might be … ?”
The Kid grinned. “I just happen to know that. I purchased it last month. Wanted to get the trial outta the way before I came saw ya. I have the mining rights so … . Are you interested?”
“If the price is right yes.”
“Ah, yes that depends on how we wanna do this. I was going to suggest that ya might like to take on the mining operation. Diversify a little. I only want a small-scale operation so I didn’t think it would be too much to ask. But it sounds like ya’re gonna have ya hands full up at Longwater. So, I guess I’m looking for a mining engineer to run things instead.”
The Kid pursed his lips in thought. “D’ya know of one?”
Sam looked a little cagey. “Might.”
The Kid decided not to press for now. He went on a different tack. “Say where d’ya get your fibrous talc from now?”
“I use it in two ways so several places. The nearest place is Montana but I take some from Texas as well. Theirs is finer.”
The Kid nodded. “In that case, I guess we’re gonna have to wait ‘till I know what I’ve got at Pine Lake.”
Sam shrugged. “It’ll be one or the other. Whatever it is shipping costs will work out a lot cheaper,” he grinned, and then sobered. “Mr Curry … I can’t stress how important this could be to my business.” He hesitated. “I’m willing to participate in a partnership to undertake the extraction if that would make it easier for you.” He swallowed hard. He was proposing to go into business with a reformed gunman. And one he didn’t know. Not that he knew any. Yet Mr Curry looked every inch the businessman he was these days. Sam had done some research into Mr Jedediah Curry and he liked what he found. Yes, he’d take the risk.
ASJASJASJASJLater, the Kid was telling Heyes about his conversation with Sam.
“Thanks,” he said, Heyes handed him a glass of his good whiskey. Nothing like a companionable drink after a satisfying meal. Even better, when it was in Heyes’ study.
“Do you think you can make it work?” Heyes asked, putting the top on the decanter.
“Yeah I don’t see why not. Sam’s a nice guy. I trust him, even though he wouldn’t tell me what he’s currently paying for his supply.”
“You can find out.”
Heyes settle himself in the opposite wing back chair and propped his liberated foot up on the pouffe.
“Yep and he knows I can. And knows I will.” He took a sip. “It’s early days I suppose. I’ll see about getting a mining expert. Take it from there.”
The two men sat in silence, both pondering how far they had come in so short of a time.
“You’re looking more like your old self, Heyes,” the Kid said suddenly. “It’s good to see.”
Heyes pressed his lips together into a tight smile and nodded. “I’m feeling much better. Now I’ve got rid of that cast.” He widened his eyes at his foot.
The Kid nodded in understanding. It must have been difficult to drag that around while he was on crutches, especially as he had use of only one serviceable arm.
That cast had been off for a month. Heyes was still using a stick to help him walk but he was trying to rely on it less and less. All the bruises and lacerations had healed, including the wound on his cheek. Despite Wheat's declaration that it would scar, it had faded to a faint discolouration. It was barely visible. His ribs only hurt now if he twisted awkwardly. He tried not to do that. The cast on his arm remained but he was hopeful in a short while, the whole thing might be gone.
Heyes was looking like he wanting to say something but was hesitating, bouncing his fist on the arm of the chair and alternately putting it to his lips.
“Kid … ,” he began, then cleared his throat and laced his fingers over his stomach.
Heyes sighed. “Now that I’m nearly recovered … .” He licked his lips. “Well … how much longer … can you stay?”
The Kid shifted in his seat. That was something he had been thinking about in the last few days. The trial was over and he had no official reason to stay. Before he could answer, Heyes spoke again.
“Gonna miss you.”
The Kid nodded. “Yeah Heyes I’m gonna miss you too but … .”
“I know … .” Heyes nodded in understanding.
“Caroline’s my wife Heyes. I need to get back and if I don’t go soon I might get stuck here for the Winter. I want to get back in time for the baby. And then there’s the boys. I bet they’ve grow. Hope they still recognise me.”
Heyes smiled faintly. “Yeah. I understand Kid. Really I do. I know I’d feel the same if the roles were reversed. You have to be there for the Curry family just as I have to be here for the Heyes family.” His grin widened and he rolled his eyes. “Or the Smith family, I should say.”
“You’ve got a good life here, Heyes. Thriving business, burgeoning … .”
Heyes interrupted with a splutter. “Burgeoning!”
The Kid scowled. “Yeah it means developing, flourishing.” He gave Heyes the look. That man was trying to keep a straight face. “Heyes I live in a house with a library the size of a small town. It’s hard not to absorb some of the knowledge it contains. It’s right there!” he said, by way of explanation.
“Must permeate through the walls then,” Heyes muttered and smiled when he got the look again. He cleared his throat. “You were saying,” he said, casually taking a sip of his drink.
The Kid hesitated then continued. “You have a BUGEONING writing career, beautiful wife, who’s an excellent cook, good kids, nice home. You’re doing well, Heyes.”
Heyes looked a little embarrassed. “Thanks Kid. I have to admit, I am enjoying life right now.” His eyes drifted around the study. “This house is the icing though, Kid. If it wasn’t for Soapy leaving me that money, we could never afforded to buy this land and have this built. Came at the right time too. Dunno how we woulda coped trying to bring up three kids in Mary’s little house.” He sighed. “Here they’ve got space to run about and play. Y’know kinda like we did.” He looked thoughtful for a moment and then he started. “Say I almost forgot. Talking about Soapy and his will. He left you something as well. Guess I haven’t had the chance to give it to you afore now.” He started to lever himself out of the chair with difficulty.
“For me?” The Kid was amazed. Soapy leaving Heyes something in his will didn’t surprise him at all. Heyes had known their old friend a lot longer. He had met him when they had separated as teenagers and the old flimflam man had taught him all he knew. It was apparent from the Kid’s first meeting with Soapy that the old man had a soft spot for Heyes. His own relationship with Soapy, however, although amicable was never so close. Soapy remembering the Kid in his will was somewhat puzzling.
Heyes winced as he put his weight on his bad foot and limped over to the bookshelves.
The Kid raised his eyebrows as Heyes pulled several books off a lower shelf and then smiled when he realised they were only half books. Behind was a small safe. Of course, Heyes would have his own safe to play with! No need to cosy up and put his ear to his one, he knew the combination. As the Kid watched, fond memories surfaced, as Heyes had the safe open in a trice, rummaged around inside before taking out a couple of items.
“Here.” Heyes held out one of the items and beamed, both dimples cracked wide. “I kept itwound for ya,” he said, flopping back down.
“His pocket watch?” the Kid said, recognising it. He immediately thought it was an oddchoice.
“Open it. There’s an inscription inside.”
The Kid nodded but his eyes washed over the other item Heyes held – a mysterious white envelope. Heyes gestured at him to do as he asked.
Knowing he wouldn’t learn the mystery of the envelope unless he did so, the Kid opened the watch.
Heyes made a fist, put it to his lips thoughtfully and watched him read the inscription. All sorts of emotions flickered over the Kid’s face until finally he looked at Heyes with a frown.
“I don’t understand,” the Kid said. “Is this … my Pa’s watch?”
The inscription read: To Thaddeus Curry on your 21st birthday. Your loving brother Jonathan.
Heyes took a deep breath, swallowed hard and then held out the envelope.
“I don’t know exactly what is in this but I suspect it’s an explanation.” Heyes nodded at the watch in the Kid’s hand. “For that.”
The Kid hesitated and slowly took the offered envelope. He dropped it into his lap and stared at it for several long minutes.
“I don’t think I wanna know,” he said, finally. He looked across at Heyes. “Do I?”
Heyes licked his lips nervously and nodded. “Yeah you do. Otherwise it’ll just eat at you.” He paused. “And I can’t tell you,” he said, quietly.
The Kid widened his eyes. There was all sorts of implications in that statement.
Heyes looked reluctant to say, sucking in air through his teeth, licking his lips, bouncing his fist on the chair arm. Finally, he winced. “It’s not my secret. Read the letter,” he ground out before biting his thumbnail.
“Ya been keeping secrets from me?”
“Read the letter,” Heyes growled. “It’ll explain Soapy’s side of things.” He hesitated. “I’ll try and explain mine when you’ve read the letter,” he offered in further explanation. He motioned to the Kid to get on with it.
The Kid gave Heyes a lingering look before his thumb inserted itself under the lip of the envelope. He broke it open with a flourish.
Heyes watched nervously as the Kid took out the contents, and then checked to see there was nothing further inside. Then suffered another look from the Kid, before he watched him unfolding the single sheet of paper. Heyes swallowed nervously as the Kid’s eyes settled on the hand written page and began to read.
I hope this letter doesn’t come as too much of a shock. As you read it, please keep in mind that you mustn’t blame Heyes for not telling you these things.
I expect you are wondering how I come to be in possession of your father’s watch. Well I have to tell you, Jed, that your father, Thaddeus Curry, was my younger brother. He and I, had an unfortunate differing of opinion before you were born, regarding how I chose to make my living. MY father, your Grampa Curry, of course, agreed with him. With the exception of my sister, Susan, Heyes’ mother, I had no further contact with my family. As Heyes will tell you, I visited his folks when I could and I corresponded regularly with my sister. So, I have been aware of you since you were a small boy and I was delighted that I was able to know you as an adult.
Despite our estrangement, I was fond of my brother, your father. I stayed away because I wasn’t welcome by him or MY father. Although I didn’t always agree with their philosophy on life, I respected their viewpoint. Sadly, I could understand it and it was out of respect for Thaddeus, not MY father, that I accepted it and stayed away. It is to my everlasting regret that Thaddeus and I didn’t get the chance to repair our relationship before he died so horribly. Perhaps in the next life things will be different.
When we first met, you had recently been living with that poisonous old toad of a father of mine. I don’t regret not reconciling with him! Knowing where you had received some of your upbringing, I doubted if you would have anything to do with me, had you known then who I was. Nor been willing to accept the truth even if I had been able to divulge it at that time.
So please don’t blame Heyes. I swore him to secrecy and you know he’s a man who takes his promises seriously. It was my decision and mine alone not to tell you before now. Heyes was only abiding by my wishes. I knew how you felt about your folks but I also knew how your folks felt about me. It seemed a disastrous combination. I decided it wouldn’t do either of us any good for you to know that I was your uncle. And I have to confess that I liked getting to know my other nephew without any complications from the past.
I can’t make up for keeping this knowledge from you all these years but I hope you can understand why I thought it necessary. Teaching you, in particular, the tricks of my trade was difficult for me, remembering as I did your father’s opposition to it. In a way, I felt as though I had let him down by drawing you into the criminal world. Yet by the time we met, you were already on the outlaw trail and I convinced myself that I was only imparting skills that would keep you ahead of the law. I soon had great confidence in your abilities to do that. In some respect, you picked up the nuances that I taught you better than Heyes. I am much relieved that those days are over for you both and that Hoyt, in his wisdom, saw fit to give you the opportunity to resume your lives. I’m glad to see that you are both back on the course your lives should have been from the beginning.
Heyes tells me that you have been fortunate to marry a wealthy woman and that you have fallen into a new career which holds great promise. So I have concluded that leaving you money would not be appropriate or necessary. Instead, I have left you your father’s watch. He was delighted when I bought it for him as a present for his twenty-first birthday. He had never had a watch of his own before and I could see that it meant a lot to him. When he threw it back at me on that terrible night when we last saw each other, I saw the pain in his eyes. Just for a moment before, the old man dragged him away. So I feel had things been so very different, it would be yours by rights. I wore that watch every day for the rest of my life and it reminded me that I had a brother, who despite it all, I loved. And he had a son who I’ve also loved. I have tried to keep my eye on Heyes and you as best as I could, in memory of my two lost siblings. It hasn’t always been easy and I suspect the amount of grey hair I have ended my days with has something to do with the two of you!
You may look like your mother, Jedediah but there is a lot of your father in you too. And you should be gratified to know that, now the youthful impetuous ways are over, and speaking as one who knew him, that you are a man your father would be proud to call son.
I hope that Jedediah Thaddeus Curry, my nephew, has a happy and successful life. Knowing what a stubborn and determined man you can be, I believe you will.
Don’t think too badly of me will you? Your loving uncle, Jonathan Curry.
(Although I won’t be too aggrieved if you prefer to remember me, as you have always known me, as Soapy Saunders.)
The Kid stared at the letter for the longest time and Heyes sat quietly, watching him carefully. Finally, the Kid looked up and he looked sad.
“You lied to me, Heyes.”
“No I didn’t,” Heyes said, firmly. “I told you I had found Uncle Jonathan and that he had introduced me to Soapy Saunders.” He paused. “What I didn’t tell you was that they were the same person. I didn’t lie to you.” He paused again. “I just couldn’t tell you the truth.”
“You couldn’t tell me?” he asked, in a whisper.
“No,” Heyes said, shaking his head. “It was Soapy’s decision and he made me promise. I had to respect his wises. You can see that, can’t you?”
“Yeah.” The Kid looked down at the letter and watch in his lap, his bottom lip trembling. “But why?” he burst out. “I kinda understand why he didn’t wanna tell me at first but surely later … ?”
Heyes looked uncomfortable, swallowed hard and leant forward, resting his hand on the Kid’s arm. “That has a lot to do with Grampa Curry. The ole man shut his elder son out of his family. You lived with Grampa Curry after … .” He licked his lips and couldn’t finish. He didn’t need to. The Kid knew he meant after they had separated over the choice of destination, post Valparaiso. Heyes was determined to find Uncle Jonathan, the Kid just as adamant in finding Grampa Curry. Both had succeeded in their goals.
Heyes sat back. “Well did he ever say anything good about Jonathan?” he almost snapped.
The Kid considered, finally shaking his head. “Naw! He didn’t mention him regular but when he did … no.” He shook his head. “No, nothing good.”
“Jonathan knew he could never overcome that, knowing how you felt about Grampa Curry and your Pa. He’s not saying they were wrong, Kid. Just that he wanted to have a relationship with you, that started with a blank sheet. So he couldn’t tell you who he was. It would never have worked.” Heyes hesitated. “And if he had told you it might have made things awkward between US and he didn’t want that. He didn’t want US falling out over something that wasn’t our argument.”
The Kid looked down and swallowed hard. “Yeah I guess I can understand that.” He frowned and nodded. “It woulda been nice to know Heyes that I had another living relative ‘sides you all these years.”
“Yeah,” Heyes sighed, regretfully. “And for that reason I tried to persuade Soapy to tell you on several occasions.” He shook his head. “But he was always adamant. You weren’t to know until … .” He gestured at the letter. “Now,” he finished quietly.
The Kid looked at Heyes, tears in his eyes. “And ya couldn’t tell me?” he asked, almost a whisper.
Heyes shook his head, biting his lip. “No. I know it was selfish of me and I apologise.” He paused. This was difficult for him and his voice caught. “I nearly did on several occasions but the promise I made to Soapy always stopped me.” He put his head down to hide the water forming in his eyes. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t.”
The Kid nodded in understanding. “That’s alright Heyes I understand.” He re-stuffed the envelope with fumbling hands. “You were in a difficult position.” He sat quietly for a moment.“I liked Soapy. He was a nice ole gentleman.”
Heyes smiled and nodded. “Yeah.”
“Sounds like we were jus’ following family tradition by living under aliases.”
Heyes looked up in surprise and smiled. The Kid was over the shock and didn’t bear him any ill will.
“Yeah Kid, I guess we were,” he agreed.
The Kid sat quietly looking away from Heyes, who he knew was watching him. Finally, the Kid took a deep breath and looked back, a faint smile on his face.
“Wanna read this?” he asked, holding out the letter.
Heyes hesitated, flattened his lips together and shook his head. “It’s private, Kid. Between you and Soapy.”
The Kid snorted. “Ya know ‘bout this anyway,” he insisted.
Heyes reached forward slowly and took it. The letter didn’t contain any surprises and he nodded before handing it back.
“Yeah,” the Kid said, doubtfully. “Not sure he’s right that my Pa would be feeling proud of me right now. Not after what I did up at Longwater.”
“Kid, I think he would be glad that a killer was dead and could no longer hurt anyone anymore. You took part in a lawful operation. He would have been proud of your part in that. And glad that you came through it alive.”
“I suppose so,” the Kid sighed. He sat in silence staring at the wall. “Wasn’t jus’ Soapy was it?” he said, suddenly. “I have ‘nother cousin, his daughter, Rose*.”
Heyes smiled. “Yeah. Rose.”
Now the Kid was smiling wider. “Now I understand why you always tried to shy me away from her. An’ there was me thinkin’ it was ‘cos YOU were sweet on her.”
Heyes laughed. “ME?” He shook his head. “No.” He smiled fondly. “No Kid she’s not my type.”He hesitated, a wry smile on his face. “She has too much Curry in her.”
Heyes received the look, pressed his lips together and nodded in acceptance.
Both men were silent, lost in their own thoughts.
For Heyes, relief that a potentially significant rift between them appeared averted. He’d had to tell him. He’d promised Soapy that he would when the time was right. Yet he hadn’t been looking forward to it. He was glad that the Kid had taken the revelation calmly. There had been a time when the Kid would have blown up over something much more trivial than this. Perhaps the Kid was now a wiser, calmer, and more measured individual. Heyes smiled. That was good to see.
The Kid was thinking back over his meetings with Soapy. Yes, he’d noticed the warmth between Heyes and Soapy and that had been explained. Yet there were other signs. The touch of an arm, a wink and a smile, the shaking of hands for longer than strictly necessary, the covering of those shaking hands with the other hand, the delight on Soapy’s face when they met. Far more than was warranted from an old mentor. Yep, it all made sense now he knew. The Kid sighed. He’d vaguely known about Jonathan Curry as a child but he wasn’t talked about in his hearing. Only Heyes ever talked about him properly and even then, he had said he’d lost touch. Yet Jonathan Curry had lived on.
“When we were trying to stop that kid being hung for murder ‘cos he insisted he was me, is that why you came up with the name Jonathan Curry?” the Kid said, suddenly.
“Huh?” Heyes jolted out of his thoughts and frowned. “Um, yeah sorta. It was the first name that came into my head.” Heyes paused. “Seemed appropriate. As we were pulling a con of sorts,” he shrugged.
The Kid pursed his lips and nodded.*This is NOT the same Rose as Cowdry’s Rose. I just happened to call them by the same name at different times. This Rose featured in a challenge so as both stories are posted, I can’t backtrack!
The Kid was later to keep Soapy’s memory alive by calling his third son, Jonathan.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname