Posts : 8723
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Short Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:22 am|| |
It's a new month and a new challenge. As February is a short month we have a suitable prompt.
That can be short of anything and everything; from stature, time, provisions, luck, a short fuse, short clothes, short of cash, short temper, short-handed - you name it. The only limit is your own imagination (which I'm sure you are not or on).
Don't forget to comment on January' stories before moving on to February as comments are the only thanks our readers get.
Posts : 151
Join date : 2016-12-10
Location : The Sonoran Desert
|Subject: Re: Short Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:15 pm|| |
One more piece of Marie's story. Short, this time.
The next time Marie saw him, she was convalescing in Colorado Springs. The cholera that had swept the reservation had left her exhausted, but alive. The Bureau had replaced her with a stout, sturdy man, and told her she needed to rest and get well before they would consider her for a new position.
She had been staying at a quiet boarding house, away from the main streets of lavish hotels, gambling establishments and bathhouses. She had walked over to the lending library, that was close to the smaller, genteel spring house she frequented. She had paused before crossing one of the main streets, as she saw a large group of men riding into town. They were dressed well, in suits and bowlers, but she still noticed the guns visible under their jackets, or more obviously on those wearing gun belts.
She saw him riding among them, his dark hair longer than usual, and his smile brilliant, with his teeth glinting in the sunlight.
She ducked into the lending library door, slipping into a chair in one of their quiet corners, until her shortness of breath passed. She had closed her eyes, until she heard someone approach. Her eyes flew open, but it was not him, just a concerned librarian she knew well.
“Mrs. Williams, you look so flushed! Are you resting as much as recommended? Perhaps you need to visit the baths more than all the reading you have been doing.” She had spent most of her time simply sitting on the porch of the boarding house, going through book after book.
“I am alright Isabelle. Just flushed from the warm breezes today.” She smiled winningly at the woman. “Let me catch my breath and I will be fine.” The woman looked skeptical, but Marie did regain her composure enough to select two new books, spend some time sitting to start the first, before venturing out again. She had accomplished her goal, since she did not see one of the Devil’s Hole Gang still on the streets of Colorado Springs.
It was two days later as she was finishing the book, that he came to the boarding house. She was resting on a chase lounge, with her eyes closed, but she felt him as he walked across the porch to sit in a chair next to her. After a minute or two, she opened her eyes, and he turned his gaze from the street to meet her eyes. As always he smiled widely at her, but there was a tension in his body, that she had not seen before.
“Please don’t tell me you came all the way to Colorado Springs, just to find me.” She smiled slightly at him, not knowing if she wanted that to be the truth or not.
He laughed back, genuinely she thought. “I’d love to tell you yes, Marie, but no, not this time. The boys needed some relaxation.” He smiled at her, but then went back to scanning the street, before he turned to her again. “I told you that you’d work yourself to death.”
“Not quite.” She paused. “What do I call you?” She was genuinely curious.
“Joshua is as good as anything.” He shrugged. “It is my middle name.”
She nodded and closed her eyes again. He took her hand and they stayed that way until Mrs. Sherman came out, to bring some lemonade, but really to figure out who was the gentleman caller on the porch with Mrs. Williams.
“Thank you so much for taking such good care of my wife,” Heyes smiled his winning smile at Mrs. Sherman, and she fell for his wiles, even though she knew she should not.
“I was under the impression that Mrs. Williams’ husband had … passed.” She returned his smile.
“We just wanted quiet for Mrs. Williams, after our time ministering to the natives.” Heyes turned to look Marie. “And I’m sorry I didn’t come to properly introduce myself.” He held his hand out to Mrs. Sherman, and took hers in both of his, once she offered, bending low over them. “I’m Mr. Joshua Williams, Marie’s husband."
The days spun like gossamer, making their time together seem even shorter than it would be. Heyes stayed with her most of the time he was in Colorado Springs. They took walks on the promenade. They visited the baths. Mr. Williams even watched over Mrs. Williams every afternoon, as she rested. Mrs. Sherman would bring them a pitcher of lemonade when it was time for Mrs. Williams’ nap to be over. Mr. Williams was always resting in a comfy chair, reading a book when she arrived. He was such a dear to let her sleep the two hours they were alone in their suite before she came with their cooling drinks.
If Mr. Williams was known to occasionally wander down to the gambling halls, after Mrs. Williams had settled in her bed for the evening, it was not anything most men visiting Colorado Springs had not done. He was always home well before dawn, and did not cause any scenes, like some other guests had done in the past.
“You’ve never called me that before.” He caressed her hand.
“I’ve decided I need to stop avoiding the truth.” She traced a scar on his palm.
He simply rested, enjoying the moment.
“When are you going to leave?”
He sighed, and his hands stilled.
She nodded, seeing the end to their short interlude.
It had been two years since the last time she had seen Hannibal Heyes. She had scanned the eastern newspapers during her time there, for news of the Devil’s Hole Gang, but they had seemed to disappear. There had been an article or two about some robbery attributed to Heyes and Curry, but just as quickly it was found out that someone else was just trying to blame them.
She worried that they were dead, but knew that any bounty hunter that had found or killed them would have spread the news across the nation. She thought maybe they had gone to Mexico.
Marie had returned to the west when Hannah was a year old. She had answered an advertisement looking for a nanny well versed in French, geometry and deportment. She had not used some of those skills in quite a while, but still remembered the French grammar she had learned at the finishing school she had attended before marrying Samuel.
In her correspondence with the wife of the rich Texas rancher, she had explained how Mr. Williams had contracted the cholera at the last reservation on which they had taught. God had taken her husband to Heaven, but left her with a little piece of it in her daughter.
Hannah was a happy child, blending in easily with the children she had been hired to teach. There was a nursery maid, who handily took care of the younger children, Hannah included, while Marie taught the older ones. In the evenings, after the young ones were in bed, she taught French to both the eldest daughter, who was being groomed for an excellent match, as well as the nursery maid, who aspired to being a nanny, since it paid better.
It was during the eldest daughter’s coming out party, that she saw him again.
All the wealthy families in this part of Texas had been invited to the grand affair. She had met the McCreedys before. Carlotta Armendariz McCreedy was a lovely woman, and Marie had thought it sad that she had married too late to have children, as she was so kind.
When she heard that Patrick McCreedy’s nephews would be attending with them, she was honestly curious. She assumed they would be the recipients of the great wealth the couple had amassed. She had also assumed they would be either foppish eastern snobs, or rough western men.
When she saw the McCreedys enter the parlor in the company of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, she almost fainted for the first time in her life. Since it was not her custom to faint however, she simply slipped into the corner and sat as a good nanny, and companion for an eligible young woman should.
As the evening progressed, and none of the young men attending seemed a threat to the young lady’s virtue, at least in front of everyone’s parents, Marie slipped out onto the veranda for a short moment of peace and a breath of fresh air.
It was not long before he found her there, and she was again worried she would faint.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, as they walked out into the starry night.
“Working.” She turned slightly to look up at him. “And you?”
“Are you really related to the McCreedy’s?” She could not keep the surprise off her face.
“No, but Uncle Mac has claimed us, so we’ve found it just better to go along.” He smiled down at her, and then led them further out, holding hands.
“Mr. McCreedy is somewhat a force of nature, isn’t he?” She gazed out into the dark. “It makes me wonder how he ended up with such a lovely woman as his wife.”
“I’d call Carlotta more impressive, but never doubt, she’s more than enough woman to handle Mac.” He smiled down at her. “But that’s another story.”
She looked up at him, curiously, but he continued. “How did you end up here?”
“I answered an advertisement.”
“I probably was the only woman they found who could teach their daughter French, and was willing to come west.”
“You’re still teaching?”
She nodded, and smiled slightly. “I’m not like some others who are acquainted with rich Texas ranchers.”
He shrugged. “That’s yet another story.” He huffed. “You said you were going back east, after Colorado Springs.”
“I did.” She continued to look out into the stars, but then sighed, looking back up at him. “I answered the advertisement and came back, because I found I missed the west. I found the east too stifling.”
“And where have you been?” she asked.
“Around.” He smiled that brilliant smile of his.
“I had not seen any news of you or your partner, while I was back east, or since I’ve returned.”
His eyes turned introspective. “No. We’ve retired.”
She looked up at him, surprised. “Why?’
He shrugged diffidently, but then answered. “Because we didn’t want to end up in prison or dead.”
“But you’re still wanted?”
She looked back into the deep, dark, starry night, wondering how short would be their time together.
Posts : 32
Join date : 2017-04-18
|Subject: Re: Short Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:32 pm|| |
Another Saturday night in another nondescript saloon located in a no account western town on the dusty plains spent playing poker. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were playing at the same table along with an amiable bunch of men from town and the surrounding farms. Heyes was, as usual, the biggest winner but the Kid and a genial, plump, red faced farmer with a German accent by the name of Karl Maier, who was turning out to be a heck of a poker player, were giving Heyes a run for his money. Hannibal Heyes was relaxed and enjoying the friendly rivalry to reap the rewards from the skillful playing of cards.
The saloon was packed with patrons but not raucous and while his partner concentrated on the cards, Curry kept one eye on the crowd, out of necessity and habit. They, of course, had run through their ritual of checking the town out, and finding no reason to move on decided to stay the night on their way down to Red Rock.
The Kid suddenly sensed frisson in the air and flicked his eyes up from the cards in his hand, settling them on his partner seated across from him. Heyes had sat straight up, his hand of pasteboards placed down firmly on the table as his right hand drifted down to the holster tied tightly along his hip.
Curry was taken aback at the atypical behavior and to recognize unbridled hatred in those dark eyes, which were staring intensely towards the saloon entrance.
“Call, I’ll take two.” Heyes continued to play mechanically, his attention diverted to front of the saloon.
“Fold,” Kid announced as he threw his cards down. The two pairs he held weren’t as important as the level of unease and threat his partner was telegraphing, at least to Curry. The rest of the poker players were ignorant of any imminent problem. The blond sighed to himself as he fleetingly wondered if he would ever be able to sit blissfully at ease in a crowd. But such wistful wonderings didn’t prevent a thorough scrutiny of the surroundings. What changed? There was a small group that had entered and were now melting into the lines of men bellying up to the long, battered bar.
The recent arrivals consisted of four men, or was that three men and one boy? It was hard to tell from the back as one was considerably shorter than the rest, only about five foot two, Kid estimated. Nope, it was four men as Curry got a brief glimpse of the shortest of the group when he latched on to a tall buxom blonde. The Kid smiled, the short guy’s face was strategically level with the girl’s considerable assets, but the smile faded when he got a better look at the hard-bitten face of the stranger. This was a man, as old or older than Heyes, he would guess, who had a chip on his shoulder and didn’t care who knew it. Kid pitied the girl if she wasn’t able to shake the new arrival and wound up spending time with Shorty.
“I’ve had enough for now, fellas. Thanks for the game.” Heyes stood up, gathered his winnings quickly, and without a backwards glance at his partner, strode though the densest part of the crowd, leaving the saloon.
Curry made his excuses and followed his silent friend out of the saloon, down the street, and all the way up to their hotel room.
“You mind telling me what just happened. What or who wound you up tighter than that pocket watch you carry?" Kid closed, locked, then leaned against the door
“Nothing happened. I got tired of playing poker.” Heyes stated with a straight face, going over to his saddle bags laid neatly on top of the dresser. He rummaged around in his bags, and not immediately finding what he was looking for, started methodically emptying the contents onto the closest bed.
A sandy eyebrow raised. “Looking for something in particular?”
Heyes ignored the question while he retrieved his partner's saddlebags, which were thrown in the far corner of the room. He proceeded to dump the contents on the second bed. Brown eyes searched the items on the faded quilt before long slender fingers plucked the required items from the jumbled mass of the Kid’s possessions. Heyes, a picture of controlled, purposeful fury, calmly withdrew his revolver from its holster and deliberately laid it on the table under the window, right next the gun cleaning supplies he placed there moments ago.
Kids brows drew into a worried V, as his resolve for patience dissolved into growing unease tinged with a vague sense of fear.
Heyes sat the table and started to disassemble his sidearm.
“What are you doing?”
“What’s it look like?”
“You’re gonna clean your gun?”
“No, next week. What are you blind or stupid? Of course, I’m doing it now if I’m taking it apart. It wouldn’t do me much good to take it apart and then put it back together without cleaning it, now would it?”
Kid took a deep breath and worked hard at keeping his cool in the face of one of Heyes’ mean moods out of nowhere. He pushed off from the hotel room door and crossed to stand over his partner at the small table.
“Why are you cleaning your gun now?”
“You always tell me that a clean gun is necessary for reliability, speed and accuracy.”
“That’s true.” Curry nodded then probed further, “You plan on using it anytime soon? Did you recognize some one in the saloon? Is that it? Is one of those last four fellas someone you know? A lawman or a bounty hunter? Should we get packin’ and leave quiet like? Do you think they noticed you?” He drew back the curtain and peered out at the street, seeing only normal activity for the time of night.
Heyes continued to methodically arrange the materials needed to accomplish his task. He didn’t once glance up at the Kid nor did he give any indication of willingness to satisfy his partner’s anxious curiosity.
“Jeez, will you answer me? Don’t make me pull information out of you a bit at a time. I’d like to be prepared for whatever you think is gonna happen.” Kid didn’t manage to keep the exasperation out of his voice but he was proud that he remained calm and reasonable.
The older man heaved an exaggerated sigh of annoyance while he cast a dark look up at his hovering cousin.
“Alright, you’re sure you want me to spell it out for you?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“I recognized someone in the last group of men that came into the saloon.”
“I figured as much, but who and how do you know them?”
“The short fella, and no, he’s not a lawman or bounty hunter. In fact, he’s wanted himself, although he’s strictly small time, nothing like the rewards on us.”
Heyes turned in his chair and stared out the window, hiding his face from his best friend.
“Go on,” Curry prompted.
“I once pulled a con with him right after we split up all those years ago, him, Long Bill Janson, and Erle Dudley.”
“So, did something happen?”
“Yeah, you could say that?”
“I’m askin’ if you’re saying that. What did Shorty do that has you like this after all this time?”
Heyes continued to stare out the window in the direction of the saloon. His voice hardened and dropped into his deepest register. He started to recite with repressed emotion vibrating though the unnaturally flat delivery.
“I hooked up with Long Bill and Erle, and our little three-man gang pulled a few routine robberies, didn’t net us much but enough to keep going. Then a perfect situation came up for one of Soapy’s cons but we needed someone young looking to make it work. You weren’t around and we recruited Shorty. If you didn’t look too hard and with the right clothes and expectations he would do. The con worked and we wound up with $12, 673 to divide among the four of us. We were up in high mountain country when Shorty pulled a fast one on us, let loose or stole our horses and took our supplies. An early snowstorm blew in when we were walking down the mountain towards civilization. Erle didn’t make it, he froze to death of exposure.”
Heyes involuntary glanced up at Curry and found worried sympathetic eyes watching him carefully. He quickly turned his attention to the table before him and a solution.
“Long Bill and I never did catch up with Shorty. We figured we needed a bigger, stronger gang and joined Jim Plummer’s outfit. You know what happened with that move.”
Curry nodded and kept his voice neutral, “Yep, I do. I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story. Are you gonna fill in some blanks?”
“I’ve told you all you need to know.”
“Not by half, partner, not by half. So, what are you plannin’ on doing, if anything?”
“I’m cleaning my gun. I’m going back down to that saloon and I’m going shoot Shorty dead in a gun fight.”
“Shorty’s gonna pay for Erle’s death. I can beat him, he’s not that fast, I just gotta aim a little lower than I normally would, that’s all.”
Kid’s eye’s widened in frank disbelief and it took a moment for him to find his tongue. “Besides the fact that will shoot our amnesty all to s**t, there’s a good chance you’ll swing for murder. No, you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
“I’m Hannibal Heyes, haven’t you heard, I’m a master manipulator. I can manipulate Shorty into challenging me. It’ll be self-defense.”
“I’ve also heard that Hannibal Heyes is a genius planner. If that’s a plan at all, it’s about as far from genius as you could get. It is a dumb, stupid plan for a fool, and you ain’t a fool.”
Heyes stood up right in Kid’s face. “Are you a fool, Kid? ‘Cause I seem to recall that plan crossed your mind in Matherville.”
Blue eyes narrowed in growing anger and if Curry were honest, genuine panic that he wouldn’t have the words to talk Heyes out of this self-destructive idiocy in time. His fists started to clench unconsciously. “I never claimed to be the smart partner that does the thinkin’. That’s you, as you remind me often enough. You ain’t thinking right. You can’t do this.”
“I can. You stay up here. There is no reason for you to get involved. Better yet, go spend some time with a girl for an alibi, just in case.”
“Are you crazy! You can’t. I won’t let you do this. And you definitely are crazy if you think I can spend time with a dove while my best friend and partner is doing his fool best to get himself killed one way or another. Heyes, even if it works out the way you want, shootin’ Shorty this way will surely kill you, only slow and you won’t even realize it until it’s too late.” Kid unclenched his fists and backed up few steps in a conscious effort to keep from flattening his cousin. He backed up some more steps to block the hotel room door.
Heyes followed the Kid but some part of his rational mind kept him just beyond arm’s length of the agitated blond.
“I’m cunning enough to get Shorty right where I need him and I can talk rings around that lazy sheriff. The only one going down is that s.o.b that left the three of us to die up that miserable mountain. I can handle this just fine. You can’t stop me, why’re you trying. You should understand.”
“Because you can’t handle it! You do this… this thing… kill a man in anger, you’ll unleash something dark and dangerous. You’ll never be able to corral it again and it’ll destroy you in the end. I’m not telling you anything new. You’ve always known this about yourself. I know what it takes, partner, to be able to live with a marked soul and you don’t have it in you to make peace with yourself. Heyes, I’m asking you…I’ll beg if you make me, please take the time to think this through. It’s not like you to go off half-cocked without a solid plan. This isn’t your kind of justice or revenge. Revenge is a dish best served cold, isn’t that what you always say?”
“It’s cold alright, about a decade cold.”
“Nope, right now, for you, this revenge is hot, real hot, and you ain’t thinkin’ like Hannibal Heyes. In fact, I don’t think you’re thinkin’ at all.”
“You should know how it feels. After all, you killed Danny, for the same kinda thing,” Heyes spit out viciously, looking Kid right in the eyes.
Curry’s eyes narrowed, his right hand unconsciously dropped to his gun butt, and he stepped in close to Heyes. “That’s right partner, I did. And that’s why if you truly want to do this. If you really want the guy dead, and I can’t talk you out of it, I’ll do the shooting.”
“You have a mistaken idea that I need you to fight my battles. You’re wrong, dead wrong. I can get my own justice.” Heyes roughly pushed Kid out of his way and stalked over to the table where his Schofield was in pieces. Heyes shook his head in disgust. His voice shook with self-loathing, “I wanted Danny dead and I put him in that street. I wasn’t fast enough to face Danny. But no more. Shorty’s gonna find that out. I know he’s a coward and the worst kind of thief that stole our horses and our hard-earned take and left us up on top of that mountain to freeze to death in a snowstorm. He’s gonna face me man to man for Erle’s death.
Kid, staggered back, regained his balance, and erupted, “Oh, for the love of…Heyes, you didn’t push smilin’ Danny into the street. Bilson was gonna end up in that street no matter what, let it go. And I know you can fight your own battles. I know very well what you’re capable of. But did you ever think that maybe I stand up against another man not because you can’t but because I need you not to. Damn it! One killer in the family is enough, Heyes and that’s me!” The trigger finger of the Fastest Gun in the West pointed squarely in the middle of his heaving chest.
“Yell a little louder, why don’t ya. Let the whole hotel hear. You feel like welcoming the sheriff that’s gonna be pounding on the door any minute now,” Heyes shot back with a quiet venomous intensity. The words of his partner’s last statement finally sunk in through the red rage and brought Heyes up short. “What? What are you talking about? You’re not a killer, Kid.”
Curry’s shoulders dropped from a confrontational stance and he turned around to face the mirror over the dresser, staring calmly at his reflection.
“We’ve been over this territory before and whether it’s called self-defense, revenge, or justice, I have killed and not just Danny. You and I know this. And maybe more importantly if there is a God, he knows it too.”
Heyes’ ire rapidly slid from a full-on boil to simmering as he grabbed Curry by the upper arm and yanked him around so they were face to face. He looked at his cousin, really looked at him, trying to bore into that mind through unreadable blue eyes. Kid shook himself free and leaned back against the dresser, arms crossed tightly in front of him.
“You see, Heyes, the way I figure it, if there is a hereafter, I know which way I’m headed. The thing is, I don’t want you going down there with me. You’re gonna have to use that silver tongue with Saint Peter at those pearly gates and to get into heaven. I need you to face our folks. You’re gonna have to explain, and I don’t mean excuses. I don’t think there are any excuses God or our folks would believe that are good enough for some of the things I’ve done but you can get them to at least understand maybe the why. Tell them I know they’re ashamed of me and I’m sorry…”
“Kid?” Heyes didn’t know what to say. He did know that Curry had hit on the one argument he didn’t have a ready response to. And worse yet, Heyes knew, without a doubt, that the Kid had spoken straight from his heart, without conscious thought on to how to manipulate him.
The shaggy brown head of the reforming outlaw shook slowly as he ruminated on how the hell did an argument on what Heyes had planned turn into a philosophical discussion on divine final judgment? Where was Kid getting these ideas, and did he really believe he was going to spend an eternity in hell? Without Heyes? My God, what did I ever do for him to have that kind of faith in me to be able to square our pasts, as it stood now, with our folks? Heyes wasn’t sure he believed in heaven or hell. Hell on earth, yes, he believed in that but an afterlife, he wouldn’t take that bet.
The simmering anger drained away, leaving a heavy weariness in its place as Heyes sank to sit on the bed. “Alright, you won’t have to beg. Neither one of us is a killer at heart. You’re right about there being no excuse to square away murder, even if the law on earth doesn’t count it as such. But get this through your thick skull, we are in this together, this life and the afterlife, if there is one, so no more talk of separating, ever, nothing good seems to come of that.”
Kid uncrossed his arms. He stared uncertainly at his partner, nodded once before sitting down alongside Heyes. “Well then, you’re gonna have come up with a back up plan if you want to get back at Shorty a better way.”
“I guess I am. And by the way, Shorty’s name is Everest Grant Langer Talman, III.” Heyes’ tense facial muscles relaxed into a reluctant half grin has he watched his best friend and partner break into laughter, repeating the name.
Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Re: Short Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:48 am|| |
This is the start of something but I'm afraid I didn't have time to finish it - will do!
Short“Heyes, have ya got it yet?”
The Kid had waited until the deputy had left the office and they were alone. He knew he and Heyes only had a few minutes to talk in private.
Heyes was pacing up and down in their jail cell and had been for over an hour. The Kid had read yesterday's newspaper, he’d read today’s newspaper, with the account of why they were where they were and he’d even read the first chapter of the book Heyes SAID he was enjoying. The Kid wasn’t so sure it was a book that COULD be enjoyed.
Heyes grunted. “Got what?”
“A plan to get us outta this mess we’ve found ourselves in.” He frowned at his perambulating partner. “Again,” he added, more forcefully.
Heyes grunted again and rubbed his chin. He was still pacing. “A plan is like a fine wine, Kid. You have to let it breathe for a while afore you can appreciate it.”
“So? Is there one breathing?” the Kid asked hopefully.
“Have ya even got a plan?”
“No.” Heyes winced and came to a stop, thumbs in his belt. “Well maybe …” He tailed off.
“So ya DO have a plan?”
Heyes sighed and threw himself into a prone position on his bunk. He laced his fingers over his stomach. “I’ve gotta bit of a plan but I haven’t figured out yet how it helps us.”
The Kid rolled his eyes and put down the dreadful book. “Tell me what ya got. Maybe I can help?” He folded his arms and waited. Heyes gave him a look. “Well now Heyes ya always telling me the plan when ya’ve got it all figured out. I’ve know how ya think now.” Heyes raised his eyebrows. “I bet I can figure this one out for ya.”
Heyes chuckled huskily, one hand behind his head. “You figure out one of my plans?” He looked sceptical.
“No,” the Kid was firm and raised a finger. “No ‘cos if I figure it out, I’ll be one of MY plans,” he said, triumphantly, pointing a thumb at his chest. “C’mon tell me what ya got.”
Heyes pursed his lips and nodded. “Alright.” He looked at the ceiling for inspiration. “The bit I figured out so far is that one of us has gotta break out of here.”
The Kid frowned. He wasn’t sure he’d heard right. “Not a brilliant plan Heyes. Of course we’ve gotta a break outta here.”
Heyes scowled. “I told you I only had a bit of a plan. I didn’t say it was a good one,” he said, petulantly. He took a deep breath and chewed his thumbnail.
The Kid frowned again. “ Wait a minute. What d’you mean? Jus’ the one of us?” The Kid gestured to himself and then Heyes. “Who?”
“Well … .” Heyes began rocking his head from side to side. “That’s something to be decided upon.”
The Kid was wide-eyed. “No Heyes, no.” He sat up and leaned forward. He knew what was coming. “No!” He was firm.
Heyes shrugged and looked far too innocent. “Kid, I haven’t got it. The sheriff took all our money when he arrested us. Remember?” He sighed. “I was a little short in the saloon last night and I spent it,” he added, throwing the Kid a disgusted look. “So you’re safe.”
“Ye-ah,” the Kid nodded, slowly. “So how we’re gonna decide then? Who stays and who goes? And … .” He prodded his trigger finger forcefully into Heyes’ arm. “Why only one of us?”
“Owh!” Heyes frowned and moved his arm away. Rubbing the indented limb, he nodded.“Who stays and who goes is incidental, Kid. We can arg … .” He paused and grinned widely.“Discuss it later. For now just hear me out.”
The Kid rolled his eyes but nodded.
Heyes swallowed and licked his lips. “One of us needs to find out what the weight of that thing is … .”
“Why? How does that help us?”
Heyes frowned. “I don’t exactly know but I’ve a feeling it’s significant.”
The Kid rolled his eyes. “I’ll say. It’s more’n significant! It’s huge!”
“I meant the weight!” Heyes looked irritated and settled his head back on his hand. “There’s something funny ‘bout the weight,” he murmured. He raised his head and looked in the direction the deputy had gone. “Kid we don’t have much time,” he said, urgently. “It’s GOTTA be me who breaks out. I only need a few hours, and then I’ll break back in.” He nodded. “I need to get a look at that weight. If I’m right then my theory falls into place and we can get outta here legitimately.”
“I thought ya said ya didn’t have a theory?” the Kid said, suspiciously.
“I didn’t when you asked me.” Heyes threw his legs over the bunk and sat up. Casting an eye round for the deputy he saw coming back, he lowered his voice. “Something’s occurred to me while we’ve been discussing.” He leant his arms on his legs and leaned towards his partner.
“What?” the Kid whispered back.
“Hey what you two whispering about?” the deputy demanded.
The pair jumped apart. Heyes returned to his previous prone position.
The Kid grinned at the deputy who came to the bars. “Oh jus’ ruminating on life, Deputy. We were jus’ saying it’s funny how life takes a turn.”
“Yeah, Deputy. We were just ruminating that’s all,” Heyes grinned, innocently. The deputy gave them a lingering suspicious look as he walked away. Ruminating?, Heyes mouthed in the Kid’s direction.
The Kid shrugged and mirrored Heyes’ position on his bunk. He picked up the dreadful book.“S’good book, Mr Smith. I’m learning lots.”
ASJASJASJASJA few days earlier at a County Fair, Heyes and Curry were looking at the Guess the Weight Stall. Heyes had pushed back his hat and now stood hands on hips contemplating the item that wanted its weight guessed.
“Boy that’s big,” the Kid sighed.
“Yep,” Heyes agreed. His eyes flicked to the sign. It read: fifty cents a guess. All proceeds to Ludlow City orphanage. Nearest guess to the correct weight wins prize of twenty dollars.
“Why’s it round?” the Kid queried.
“It’s called a wheel,” Heyes informed him.
The Kid looked sceptically at him. “A wheel?”
“Yep.” Heyes nodded, giving him a tight-lipped smiled.
“You gents interested in having a guess?” the stallholder asked, hopefully.
The Kid grinned. “Naw! Not too good at guessing. What ‘bout you, Joshua?”
Heyes pursed his lips thoughtfully and then leant over to look more closely. Straightening up he shook his head. “Too many unknowns.” He declared and folded his arms. He looked at the stallholder. “Take it you already KNOW the weight?”
“Sure do,” the stallholder grinned and patted his top pocket. “Got it right here. Guarding it with my life.”
Heyes gave the Kid a nudge. “Come’n.” Then he chuckled. “Imagine the size of the sandwich Kid.” He paused. “I reckon that’ll defeat even YOUR appetite!” He walked away, resisting the temptation to roll his shoulder blades together in a bid to remove the daggers now embedded in them.
ASJASJASJASJAt the next opportunity when alone to talk.
“What I don’t understand is why the sheriff thinks its was US who stole it?” The Kid puffed. “I mean it’s not exactly our modus operandi is it?” He kept his head down so his partner couldn’t see the twitch of a pleased smile beginning to appear on his face. “An’ what does he think we’ve done with it?”
Heyes turned his head slowly. “Modus operandi?” he queried, eyebrows raised.
“Yep. It means our method of operating,” the Kid said, smugly.
Heyes’ eyebrows retreated further under his bangs and his eyes widened. “Where did you get that from?” he spluttered.
“From this dang book of yours.” He held it up. “For your information this book happens to be a gold mine”
Heyes frowned. Hadn’t HE said that about another book? He grunted.
“I’m telling ya Heyes they keep me locked up in here much longer, forcing me to read this dang book, I’m gonna be thinking jus’ like you!” He paused. “Which ain’t good!”
Heyes smacked his lips and took a deep breath. Choosing to ignore that comment, he sat up.“Now I’ve done some more thinking. D’you wanna hear what I’ve got figured out so far?”
The Kid nodded with resignation. Best let Heyes get it out of his system.
“Like I said before, I gotta bust out of here, get a look at that weight and sneak back in.” He held up a hand to stop further questions from the Kid. “I don’t think it’s as heavy as it looks. I think … .” He glanced round for the deputy. “I think it’s hollow.”
The Kid frowned. “Huh?”
“I reckon there’s a space inside.”
“Contraband,” Heyes said, smugly.
The Kid looked at him with incredulity. “Heyes, have I ever told ya you can be a little weird at times?”
“Frequently.” Heyes admitted. “But it’s being weird that has kept us outta the clutches of the law all this time.” The Kid looked round at the cell they were sitting in. “Except for now!” Heyes took a deep breath. “Kid, I’m telling you, if we don’t find a way outta this mess soon the amnesty’s dead.”
“Really?” the Kid frowned. “For this?”
Heyes shrugged. “The Governor said stay outta trouble. And this is trouble.”
“But they … .” He pointed a finger at the sheriff’s desk. “… don’t know jus’ who they got sitting in their jail.”
“No and the sheriff’s not gonna know who we are. How’s he gonna know? You gonna tell him?”
“I know you Heyes. When the sheriff sees me sitting all alone in this cell, he’s gonna wanna know why and where YOU are. He’s gonna get suspicious. Then he’s gonna get to thinkin’. You ain’t the only one who can do that y’know. Then he’s gonna start lookin’ at wanted posters. If he hasn’t already. THEN if you suddenly reappear, like nothin’ has happened, he’s gonna know for sure we’re not two saddlebums called Smith and Jones.”
“I’ll spin him a tale,” Heyes shrugged.
“Yes and THAT’S how he’ll know ya you!”
Heyes had the good grace to look disgruntled.
“Heyes, I’ve been doin’ some thinkin’ too. We’ve BOTH gotta break outta here.”
Heyes shook his head furiously. “No Kid, you haven’t been doing any thinking at all. If we BOTH break out, then the sheriff really will think we did it. Like you say its only a matter of time afore he puts two and two together. We’ve GOTTA solve this mystery first. It’s the only way he’ll let us go.” Heyes paused. “Tell you what though we’ll keep THAT as a back up plan.”
The Kid appeared to be mollified. “Can ya pick that lock?”
Heyes looked affronted for a moment and then smiled. Reaching into his left boot, he extracted a slim knife.
“I reckon so Kid,” he nodded.
When the Kid grinned, Heyes tucked the knife back into his boot. The Kid nodded.
“Okay Heyes we’ll do it your way. BUT if it don’t work out then we’ve got a back up plan. Right? MY back up plan?”
Heyes licked his lips, waggled his head as he considered and finally nodded.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname
Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Re: Short Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:05 pm|| |
With the sun barely up, Wheat Carlson knocked on the door of the leader’s cabin. He waited. When there was no response, he rapped again, harder this time. Still, no response.
Hmm, what to do? Heyes always said to have a backup plan. Wheat thought a minute, then drew the pistol from his holster, pointed it skyward, and pulled the trigger. Three loud shots in succession split the stillness. Stepping back from the door, he counted under his breath, “One, two, three, four …”
Of a sudden the door opened and Kid Curry rushed onto the porch, Colt at the ready. Barefoot and dressed in henley and long johns, he dove behind a barrel on the porch, and noticing Carlson, yelled, “Wheat, take cover!” He craned his neck at the open spaces in all directions of the cabin without breaking cover.
After a moment, Hannibal Heyes appeared at a window, Schofield drawn. “Nothing out back, Kid. See anything out front?”
“Nope, but the shootin’s stopped.” Curry glanced again at Carlson, who had not moved. “Wheat, I told ya to take cover. In case you didn’t notice, some blasted fool is shootin’ at us.”
Wheat snickered. “Pfft. Ya can put them guns away, fellas. I was doin’ the shootin’.”
Heyes appeared on the porch, also in his underwear. “What? Why? Doggone it, Wheat, it’s barely sun-up! That poker game just ended a few hours ago!”
Wheat puffed his chest. “It was my backup plan when you didn’t answer the door. Ya always say to have one.”
Curry rolled his eyes and walked back inside.
Wheat looked confused. “Where ya goin’?”
Kid stopped just long enough to say, “My backup plan is to go back to bed. I’m a little short on sleep.” He disappeared into the cabin.
Heyes watched his partner go before regarding Wheat. “Really, Wheat? A backup plan? Because somebody didn’t answer the door right away at six in the morning?” Heyes shook his head in confusion, then continued, getting louder as he went. “You need a backup plan if something goes wrong with the main plan, like where to meet up if we have to separate, like who carries the haul. NOT for waking people up in the middle of the night if it’s not an emergency!” Heyes was shouting now. “What the hell is so damn important it couldn’t wait til later?!”
Kid yelled from inside, “Heyes, I’m tryin’ to sleep!”
Heyes shook his head in disgust. “This isn’t the best way to start the day now, is it?”
Wheat smirked. “Nope.”
The outlaw leader took a breath and sighed to calm himself. He rubbed his brow. “Okay, then, what’s the emergency? Like Kid said, we’re short on sleep.”
Heyes grew apoplectic. “Then why?”
“Just wanted to let ya know Kyle’s gonna test the new dynamite in a few minutes and wanted to warn ya so ya weren’t woke up all sudden-like.” He noticed the growing deep red color on the face of Hannibal Heyes. “Heyes, if’n ya don’t calm down, you’re gonna have a stroke.”
Heyes breathed and calmed himself once more, though the red face remained. He spoke slowly, emphasizing words to make a point. “So, you wanted to let us know so we weren’t woke up too suddenly …”
Wheat smiled. “Uh huh. Time’s runnin’ short.”
Heyes repeated, “Time’s running short.”
“Uh huh, that’s what I said.”
The outlaw leader paused a moment to take in the surrealness before continuing. “Are you sure your name is Wheat and not Kyle?”
“Yup.” Finally, Wheat frowned. “Why ya askin’? Somethin’ wrong, Heyes?”
Heyes raised an eyebrow before yawning. “Nope. Everything’s just dandy.” He turned and started back inside.
Heyes stopped. He looked in the direction of the blast and yawned again. “Guess it works.”
Again Wheat stood with chest puffed. “Yup. See, now ya weren’t woken up all sudden-like.”
Carlson stood dumbfounded. “Nope, I’m Wheat, remember?” He scratched his head. “Ya really should get some sleep, Heyes.”
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
|Subject: Re: Short || |