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 Sept 12 - Defensive Position

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Calico

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Posts : 534
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 52
Location : Birmingham

PostSubject: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:54 am

Hello ex-outlaw appreciaters all!!
Are you all waiting eagerly for your September topic??

Yes? Pencils sharpened? Bubble bath being frothed just in case?

Good.

Well, the traditional chianti was drunk, bottle and after due deliberation the topic is...


DEFENSIVE POSITION


Yeah, I know - far too easy for an erudite crowd like you! I spoil you, I really do...

However, before scampering away in a flurry of creative juices can you please read the note below...


NEW RULE by popular request... So folks can read thoroughly enough to enjoy joining in the vote, from now on can we limit challenge entries for polling to one story per writer per month.

NOW, for the prolific ones amongst you who have bunnies hopping like mad - a 'Challenge' overspill area will be set up for any extras you wish to post - just for sharing not for polling.
(So some of you gals may have some bunny beauty parades to run!! Very Happy )
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Maz

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Posts : 395
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 55
Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:23 pm


I cannot believe I had to stay up late to write this. The bunny bounced and wouldn't let me go to bed until I had written it.
Sheesh, ain't no one that fast!

Defensive Position
By Maz McCoy


“I reckon they’ll wait ‘til mornin’,” Kid Curry stated as he looked out into the darkness searching for any sign of movement in the trees.
“It’s what I’d do,” Heyes concurred.
“How many d’you think are out there?”
“There were eight when they headed up the valley. I doubt any of them felt the need to go home.”
Kid nodded but didn’t turn his attention away from the view beyond the cave they now sheltered in. His gaze travelled over the dark outlines of boulders, shrubs and trees. Somewhere out there a group of determined men waited for them. The cave was warm and dry and with storm clouds on the horizon they were in a better place to spend the night than the posse. However, the cave had no other entrance. No secret escape route. No crevice known only to the outlaw fraternity guaranteed to hoodwink a band of pursuing lawmen. They were dry but they were trapped. He looked down at the Colt gripped firmly in his right hand. With well-practiced skill he flipped out the chamber and counted the bullets inside.
“Any of ‘em fall out since you checked two minutes ago?” Heyes asked wryly.
Kid smiled. “Nope.” He turned to face his friend. Heyes sat with his back against the rock wall, legs stretched out in front of him. “How is it?”
Heyes lifted the blood stained bandana from his left thigh. He studied the wound. “Still bleeding.”
“It hurt?”
“Is that an attempt to make me smile or just a really dumb question?”
Kid’s eyebrows rose. “Damned if I know.” He turned his attention back to the shadows outside. “They know we’re here right?”
“Yep.”
“And we know they know.”
“Yep.”
“And they know we know?”
“Is this going somewhere, ‘cos it’s bad enough that I’m in pain without you straining your brain.”
“You’re hilarious, Heyes. I’m just wonderin’ why we don’t light a fire? Have some hot coffee? Heck, maybe even dig that bullet out and treat the wound.” He glanced at his friend.
“The answer’s simple.”
When Heyes did not elaborate Kid knew he was expected to ask. He sighed. “You gonna tell me or is this one of your guessin’ games?”
“I’ll share, I’m feeling generous.”
“Lucky me.”
“We are not lighting a fire because you need to watch our backs and if I take my hand off this wound I’ll probably bleed to death. As much as I know you love my coffee I’m hoping you prefer my being here to its taste.”
“If they’re waitin’ ‘til mornin’ there’s no reason for me to sit here.”
“But they might not wait.”
“So tie that bandana real tight and get to work on a fire. I don’t know why you undid the one I tied there in the first place.”
“I wanted to look at it.”
“What, you didn’t believe you’d been shot?”
“I wanted to see if it was clean.”
“Just light a fire, Heyes.”
“I guess I will. It’s sure turned cold.”
As his friend leaned over his leg to tie the cloth around it, Kid studied his face. Even in the moonlight Heyes looked pale and as Kid watched Heyes shivered. That wasn’t good. He’d already lost a lot of blood. Kid holstered his gun and scrambled over to his partner, taking the bandana from him.
“I can manage,” Heyes protested.
“I know.” Kid pulled the knot tight.
“OW!”
Kid smiled innocently at Heyes’ glare and took off his jacket. “Sit back,” he ordered.
“Kid…”
“Sit back, Heyes.” His partner complied and Kid covered him with the jacket.
“I don’t need…” but Heyes shivered making him a liar before he’d even finished his sentence.
Kid turned away and gathered together the dry sticks left by a previous occupant of the cave, then reached into his vest pocket for his matches. A warm red glow slowly engulfed them. Heyes watched in silence as his friend collected the coffee pot from his saddlebags and poured water into it from his canteen. When the water was almost boiling Kid poured some into a metal cup, set it to one side, and then added coffee to the pot. The comforting smell of brewing coffee soon surrounded them.
Kid placed the cup of hot water beside Heyes, removed his bandana and dipped it into the steaming liquid. With great care he untied the bandana around his partner’s leg and tended the wound. Heyes suffered the ministrations as only a man could-he complained a lot.
“OW! Dammit! Do you have to press so hard?”
“Nope, just doin’ it for fun.” Kid cleaned the wound with the hot water.
“Sheeshhhh! That hurts. Oh, that hurts too! Okay, you can stop now.”
“Gotta get it clean, Heyes.”
“I can do it.”
“No, you can’t. You can’t see as well as I can.”
“I…Oh. Ah.” He hissed and closed his eyes tight. “Shouldn’t you be watching our backs?”
“No point if you’re dead.”
“You know your bedside manner could use some work. OW!”
When Kid was satisfied he’d done all he could for his friend, he tied a clean bandana around Heyes’ thigh.
“Here.” Kid handed him a steaming cup of coffee. Heyes took it gratefully, wrapping both hands around it to warm his fingers. He looked exhausted and didn’t say a word as he settled back against the wall, Kid’s jacket now around his shoulders. Kid took his own cup, sat opposite his friend and returned to watching the darkness.
Heyes shivered. “Thanks, Kid.” He didn’t mean for the coffee.
“You’re welcome.”
Heyes stared at the flames for a while almost mesmerised by them. “I didn’t think we’d still be doing this.”
“Drinkin’ coffee?”
“Running from the law.” Kid didn’t reply. “I thought we’d have our amnesty.” Kid shot him a look. “I really did. I know you we’re always sceptical but I really thought the governor would come through for us. Lom did too.”
“Heyes…”
“I know, I know. I got over being disappointed a long time ago.” Kid wasn’t sure he believed that. His eyes moved from his friend to the darkness outside and back. “It would have been nice, you know? No more running, no more hiding, the chance to settle down with a woman.”
Kid looked up. “The daughter of the mayor?”
Heyes smiled. “I had high hopes for ya.”
“I appreciated that.”
“I thought I might run the newspaper office in a small town.”
“And I was gonna run the saloon.”
“The Silver Spur?”
“The Twirling Gun.”
“Did we really agree to call it that?”
“Yep.”
“Hmm. I think I’da talked you out of that when the time came.”
“I like that name.”
“I can’t think why.”
“Well it’s a darn sight better than The Outlaw’s Rest.”
“That wasn’t one of mine.”
“No, it was Lom’s.” Kid smiled, remembering the evening they’d sat around a fire very similar to the one burning now and tried to come up with a name for the fictitious saloon. Heyes’ cry of pain brought him back from his reverie. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just can’t shake the pain off like I used to.”
“That’s ‘cos you’re an old man now.”
“Fifty five is not old. I’m middle aged.”
“Only if you plan to live to a hundred and ten.”
Even in the firelight Kid could see the grey in his partner’s hair. Brown eyes met blue ones and they exchanged a smile.
Heyes smile soon faded. “I thought we’d have more of a life than running, Kid.”
“We haven’t done too bad. We ain’t dead yet. I never did like that part on our wanted posters.”
“It’s not for lack of folk trying. I mean who are they?” Heyes pointed into the darkness. “I thought we’d be has-beens by now. Don’t they have younger outlaws to chase?”
“I guess not.” Kid’s head snapped up, his attention now fully on whatever or whoever was outside. He put down his coffee and drew his Colt.
“What is it?”
“Your gun loaded?”
“Of course,” Heyes informed him as he drew the Schofield from the holster.
“I guess they ain’t waitin’ for mornin’ after all.”
Heyes dragged himself over to the entrance. Kid didn’t move to help, just kept his vigil scanning the treeline. The men outside made no attempt to hide their approach. They heard a rifle being cocked. Then another.
Heyes took a deep breath, his grip tightened on his gun. “Kid.”
“I know, Heyes.” The blond man looked at his friend and smiled. “Me too.”


_________________
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:35 pm

Defensive Position

“Get after them! They just robbed the bank!”

The sheriff gave the portly bank manager a look of derision. “Well, duh! I’d never have thought of that. It’s a real good job you’re here to keep me right, ain’t it?”

All eyes glanced anxiously down the street at the two youths; one blond, the other dark, galloping furiously down the main street, raising a cloud of choking dust.

“What are you waitin’ for? They’re skedaddlin’, and you're standin’ around like an old maid at a weddin’.”

“I got it in hand. I saw them two greenhorns hanging around the bank for the last week. The fair haired one kept playin’ with that gun of his. Now, either they’d developed a keen interest in fiduciary matters...,” He grinned. “I read that in a book. It’s a good word ain’t it? I like sayin’ it - fiduciary... That new library sure is great.”

“They’re gettin’ away!”

“As I was sayin’ – either they’d developed a keen interest in fiduciary matters, or they were plannin’ on robbin’ it.” The lawman hooked his thumbs in his waistcoat, a broad smile spreading over his face. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” his eyes clouded over. “Not that I ever did skin a cat – seems kinda cruel to me. It ain’t like we eat them or anythin’, but I read that in parts of China...”

The banker started to go purple in the face. “What in the name of all that’s holy are you witterin’ on about man! This ain’t the time for one of your shaggy dog stories. They’re gettin’ away.”

“It wasn’t quite time. I guess it is now.” The sheriff gave a curt nod before placing stubby fingers into the corners of his mouth, letting loose an ear-splitting, ringing whistle. The signal was picked up by a couple of young men on the sidewalk on either side of the main street, who hoisted the rope, strung between them, as high as they could, before wrapping it around the posts and hanging on to the ends for all they were worth.

The horsemen careened into it, their chests slamming against the rope as though it was an iron bar, before thwacking backwards onto the earth, where outraged citizens swarmed over them and dragged them to their feet.

The sheriff gave a cackle. “I read about that in the new library too. There’s a village in England where a ghost from their civil war still rides in the moonlight. He was killed by a rope strung across the road.”

“You could have killed them?” demanded a woman. “They can’t be more than sixteen.”

“Nah, I paid two lads to hoist it. From the sidewalk they’d be lucky to get it higher than the horses’ heads. You can learn a lot from books. I’m real glad we got that new library.”

ooo000ooo

The two youths cleared away the rope from the street, the fair haired one giving a surreptitious smile to his dark haired companion. “How’d you know, Heyes? That could have been us. We talked about holdin’ up that bank.”

The dark lad took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair. “I know, but we’d never have done it like them. I wanted I’d do some research, so I went to the library.”

“You and your damned books.”

“But I met the sheriff. He wondered if I had a friend and if we wanted to make a few bucks because he’d guessed that a pair were casing the bank. They were real amateurish about it –practically had their noses pressed up against the windows. There was really only one way they could leave town from the bank because of the river, so he’d figured out a plan.”

Kid gave a low whistle. “But why us?”

“He was real clear about that – he said that any young man who spent his evenings hanging about in the library must be a fine, upstanding individual. He trusted me.”

“Upstandin’? You were in there researchin’ the best ways to rob the bank!”

Heyes’ face dimpled into a smile. “I was actually studying Roman defensive strategies.”

“That ain’t what helped here. Don’t try to make yourself out to be some kind of genius, Heyes. This was nothin’ but blind luck. That could’ve been us.”

Heyes gave a light chuckle. “Yeah, but luck comes from piecing together everything you know. I remembered your great pearl of wisdom too, and I think that’s the best defensive strategy there is.”

“What ‘pearl of wisdom?’”

“Do you remember what you said when we were at school, and Miss Thompson asked you about George Washington?”

Kid groaned. “School? You know I don’t remember school... In fact, I work hard to forget most of it.”

“She asked why his father didn’t punish him when he admitted to chopping down his father’s cherry tree – and you replied, ‘Because George still had the axe in his hand...?’ It took her nearly ten minutes to get control of the class again. It sure stuck in my mind, Kid. The best defence of all is to make sure you’re always the one holding the axe.”



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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:24 pm

Mere Words


The sound of scurrying footsteps betrayed the cowardly assailants beating a retreat into the darkness. Kid holstered his gun, turning to see Heyes crouching over the prostate figure on the riverbank.

“They were trying to throw you in!” Heyes forehead creased into a frown. “What did you do to upset them?”

The man sat up, cautiously stretching his limbs, testing for injury. “Nothing. They just ran at me and started dragging me towards the water.” He turned large, round eyes to each of his saviours in turn. “Thank God you were here. I can’t swim.”

They took an armpit each and lifted the man to his feet, dusting him down. “Are you hurt?” asked Kid.

The stranger shook his unruly grey head before shrugging and wriggling his joints back into action. “Nope... I’m fine. Well, thanks again. I’d best be off.”

“Where to? Ain’t you goin’ to report this to the sheriff?”

The man battered his disheveled hat against his leg and gave a snort. “The sheriff? Oh, yeah. He’ll care about a penniless saddle tramp. I’d be lucky if he didn’t throw me in jail for the night.” His face brightened. “Hmm, that’s a thought. The weather’s turning cold. Maybe I’ll pay him a visit after all. I was playing fast and loose with the term ‘saddle tramp.’ I can only dream of having enough money for a saddle.”

The partners exchanged a knowing glance. “You’re sleeping rough?”

“That’s why I was heading down to the river. An upturned rowing boat makes for a dry place to lay your head, no matter what the weather does. You learn these tricks after a few years on the road.” A clap of thunder rent the air before the sky lit up with a flash of sheet lightening. “See? I knew it. I’ve got to find a boat before the ground gets wet. It gets into a man’s rheumatics something terrible.” His eyes widened pathetically, turning them up to watch the moon trying to fight its way unsuccessfully through heavy, dark, gathering clouds.

There was another rumble and Heyes bit his lip, knowing exactly what was coming from Kid.

“Joshua, we could get the hotel to put a cot in the room.” He watched Heyes’ mouth firm into a line. “Think of all the nights we thought we’d have had to sleep outside until someone offered a barn or a bunkhouse. It’s goin’ to pour down, and he’s an old man who just had someone try to kill him. What if they come back?”

The stranger looked indignant. “I’m fifty six! I’m not old – and I’m certainly not asking for charity. I have my pride.”

Heyes scratched his forehead. “What’s your name?”

“Tibby Dunbar. What’s yours?”

Kid raised his eyebrows in curiosity. “Tibby? What kind of name is that?”

He removed his tattered hat with a theatrical flourish. “Tiberius Ulysses F. Dunbar, at your service.” He gave a twinkle of previously unseen charm. “A bit of a mouthful, I admit, but there’s something about Irish mothers - the poorer they are, the grander the name the give their offspring. As you can probably guess from my extravagant moniker, my sainted mother was as dirt poor as they come. She wasn’t the religious type; she preferred the classical over a congregation of saints.”

Kid darted a look of knowing amusement at Hannibal Heyes. “What does the ‘F’ stand for?”

“Nothing. She thought an initial sounded good so she threw one in. You didn’t answer me. Who are you?”

The heavens opened, splattering huge raindrops on the trio who shrugged into turned up collars. “We’ll tell you in the hotel. Can you run?”

**********

Kid rolled his eyes as Tibby followed them out of the restaurant. “How much can one man eat? It’s like havin’ a goat.”

“It was your idea to give him a bed for the night, Thaddeus, and you didn’t turn a hair at offering breakfast before we sent him on his way.”

“That was before I knew he had hollow legs. He practically inhaled that last biscuit.”

Heyes chuckled. “You’re only griping because he beat you to it. He doesn’t know where his next meal’s coming from. He’s probably stocking up – like a squirrel with nuts.”

“Nuts, huh? I guess we might be.”

Tibby beamed at them. “Well, Gentlemen, I have to thank you for your hospitality...” He sucked in a breath, ducking back into the doorway with eyes like a hunted animal.

Heyes frowned, scanning the sidewalk. “What? What’s wrong?”

Tibby rattled his head from side to side. “Nothing...”

Kid followed his gaze to an exquisitely groomed, young woman on the opposite side of the road, checking the traffic for a safe passage across. “Who is she?” he arched an appreciative eyebrow, drinking in her large blue eyes and caramel coloured hair. “Do you know her?”

He turned back to speak to Tibby, but he was already scuttling off down the street. The partners exchanged a glance pregnant with curiosity before turning on their heels and following him.

**********

It wasn’t long before they found him; attracting trouble as surely as a bored adolescent. A surly man was shaking a brush in his face, globules of lime wash slacking from the bristles with every swish. “You’ve been hanging around town for nearly two weeks now, and that’s how long it’s been since I’ve had a single egg from my hens. You’ve been stealin’ them, haven’t you? I don’t know what the law’s thinkin’, lettin’ hobos hang around town – stealin’ and beggin’, and now I find you creepin’ down the alley at the side of my house.”

“I wasn’t creeping, I was taking a shortcut,” Tibby raised his hat politely. “Sir, I may lack funds for accommodation, but I feed myself and stay on the right side of the law. I give you my solemn word of honour that I have never laid a finger on your property. In fact, I’ll go further – I never will.”

“Yeah, right! I’m warnin’ you; don’t let me see your face around my place again. I don’t like your kind sneakin’ around my property. It’s a good job I was whitewashin’ my wall or I wouldn’t have caught you; you thievin’ piece of...”

“I assure you, I am innocent!”

“I oughtta make sure you’re in no fit state to steal,” the man glowered at Tibby. “You can’t steal with your arms broken.”

“And I couldn’t do an honest day’s work either. Don’t make me defend myself against you, Sir. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Tibby’s pronouncement was greeted by a great guffaw of laughter. “You? Hurt me? I’d be more scared of the chickens.”

“I am a knight of the road, not a ruffian. I stay on the move because I don’t like the smell.”

A pair of hostile grey eyes looked Tibby up and down. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t need all this attitude from you – I have more than enough of my own. “Tibby’s jaw set stubbornly. “Just let me be. All I was doing was walking down the street.”

Kid cleared his throat. “Is there a problem here?”

The man thrust his brush into the pail of whitewash, before hanging a warning sign on the newly painted wall. “Just keep this tramp away from my property.” He walked through the gate and disappeared through his back door.

Tibby’s jaw hardened. “What do you two want? I haven’t got money. You offered to buy me breakfast.”

Heyes pinned him with a glare. “Why were you hiding from that woman? In fact, how could you even know someone like her? She’s clearly wealthy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” A malicious grin spread over his face before he turned his back to them, facing the newly whitewashed wall. “Keep a look out for me, will you?”

Heyes watch the tramp fumble with his trousers, consternation spreading over his face at the realisation at what Tibby was about to do. “What the hell are you doing!? This is a public place.”

“He unjustly accused me of theft. Life’s too short to hold a grudge. Just get revenge and be done with it,” Tibby replied simply. “Did you know that in England, lime wash is coloured with all kinds of different additives? Those little, pink thatched cottages are painted with lime wash tinted with pig’s blood. Uric acid permanently colours it too. It gives it a lovely ochre tone, but it only works when it’s still wet.”

Kid darted a look to the main street. “Tibby! Stop that, right now! You’ll get us locked up.”

Tibby did his best to look angelic, but landed more in imp territory. “Why? The sign says, ‘Wet Paint?’”

“It’s not an instruction!” barked Heyes, watching a patch change colour before his eyes. “You swore you’d never lay a finger on his property. Isn’t your word worth anything?”

Tibby adjusted his dressing and gave a nod of satisfaction. “And I didn’t. Not one part of my body touched anything of his.” He tapped the side of his head with stubby fingers. “Brains, Gentlemen. I live on my wits and they are my best defense against whatever life throws at me. Now - good day to you, I’ll be on my way.”

“Are you always like this?” Heyes stood staring at the stained wall, shaking his head. “I now understand why those folks were trying to throw you in the river.”

“Yeah, and I think I know what the ‘F’ in his name stands for too,” muttered Kid, “and I don’t think it was added by his Ma, either.”

Tibby strode off down the alley, followed by Heyes and Curry. “You didn’t answer me. Who is she, and why are you hiding from her?” Heyes grabbed Tibby by the shoulder and gave him an uncompromising stare. “I don’t like being lied to. Did she catch you stealing?”

Tibby’s blue eyes filled with hurt. “I am NOT a thief!”

Kid snorted. “Well you ain’t tryin’ to avoid an old girlfriend, that’s for sure.”

“What’s it to you?”

Heyes’ brows gathered on a frown. “You intrigue me. You’re not an average tramp. Besides, don’t you think we have the right to know if you brought stolen property into our room? The hotel clerk saw you with us, we might be suspects too. We won’t be happy if you did that to us.”

Shrewd blue eyes examined both partners in turn. “You’re not average cowboys either, but I mind my own business. I give you my word – I’m not a thief.”

Kid shook his head. “There you go with that ‘word’ of yours again. We all know that even while you’re speakin’, you’re tryin’ to find a way around it.”

“What’s come over you two? We were friends half an hour ago.”

Kid held the tramp’s gaze. “Did you bring stolen property into our room? Are you wanted?”

Tibby shrugged, looking up at the wall of muscle between him and the continuation of his day. He barely came up to their shoulders so any physical confrontation was out of the question. “Fine, maybe I insulted her a bit. She’s a bit too haughty for my liking, and her husband’s huge. Happy now!?”

The boys shared a look laden with doubt. “I suppose we’ll have to be, but it doesn’t really seem your style. You’re too devious to leave yourself open to a slanging match in the street.” Heyes gave a short nod, and stood aside. “On your way, Tibby, let’s hope we don’t have reason to be disappointed in you.”

Tibby’s forehead creased theatrically, exaggerating the thought processes filtering through his mind. “You know, you two seem more than averagely worried about being thought of as consorting with criminals, or about drawing the attention of the law. Is there anything you’d like to tell me? You can trust me - I do owe you for helping me last night, after all.”

Heyes fixed him with intense dark eyes. “Oh, Tibby. For a smart man, you can be real dumb at times. You’re alone in an alley with two armed men. Are you really sure that veiled threats are the way you want to go?”

Tibby shook his greying head. “It’s only an observation; one you might want to be a bit more careful of in the future, if you don’t want to make people curious enough to find out more.” He doffed his hat, in a gesture Heyes and Curry now saw as dumb insolence. “Keep it a bit more low key, but it’s advice, not a threat. It’s my way of saying thank you for saving me at the river.” He turned on his heel and disappeared down the alley.

They strolled back to the street, pausing only to share a conversation in a glance at the angry bellow drifting in the air behind them. “What the...? Who did this to my wall? I just whitewashed that!”

**********

Kid tilted his chair back, swinging on the back legs, his feet propped up on the rail of the porch and sucked on his cigar. “This is the life, Joshua; sittin’ relaxin’ after a fine supper. It’s a shame we have to move on, I like it here.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s a real friendly little town, but there’s no work, so we’ve got to move on.”

“Where?”

Heyes blew idle smoke rings into the night air. “South? Autumn’s setting in and I hate the cold.”

Kid nodded. “Me too. California? There’s bound to be some kind of work there.”

“So we’re agreed. First thing in the morning we head...,” Heyes stopped, narrowing his eyes and fixing on movement in the darkness. “Thaddeus, is that who I think it is?”

Kid sat forward. “Yup, it’s that stirrin’ little tramp again. What’s he up to?”

They watched Tibby keep to the shadows on the sidewalk across the road, his head turning to keep an eye on two men striding down the sidewalk towards him. His scuttling pace increased, matched by the two men until the gap between them began to close.

Kid started to smile. “What d’you think he’s done now?”

“I don’t want to know, Thaddeus. That man attracts trouble like...,” Heyes groped around for a simile.

Kid filled in the gap for him. “Like us?”

Heyes nodded. “Exactly. We do a good enough job on our own, without getting involved with a man like Tibby Dunbar.”

Kid caught another movement further down the street. “Look, it’s that woman again,” he arched an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t be workin’ as hard to avoid her, that’s for damn sure. Real classy.”

“You’re right, she does seem to be more my type than yours.”

Blue eyes slid sideways. “That ain’t what I meant.”

“Isn’t it? That’s what I heard.”

Tibby gave another glance towards the men following him, before stepping off the sidewalk and bustling across the road.

“Yah!”

The yell drew all eyes to the wagon which was suddenly barrelling down on the hapless, little man. Tibby seemed to freeze like a startled rabbit. Two shots rang out almost simultaneously, one from Kid, who fired in the air in an attempt to head off the stampeding horses; the other came from the men who had been following Tibby.

It worked. The horses swung around screaming in panic, taking the wagon off on a tangent, allowing the little man to scamper out of the way of the vehicle thundering towards him. The two men started running, following Tibby into a nearby alley; but it was the sight of the woman gathering her skirts and darting after them who drew the partners’ attention. Genteel women did not run in the street; it was undignified, uncouth and very, very unusual.

“Get after him!” she bellowed to the two men. “What am I paying you for? Can’t you catch an old man?”

Heyes and Curry shared a questioning glance. This was not a woman who was nursing a grievance over an insult. What was going on? They gave a silent nod of agreement and slipped from the porch into the dark, night shadows. They ghosted their way across the road and slipped into a parallel alley, and worked their way towards Tibby's escape route. The woman’s voice could be clearly heard, barking out orders to her henchmen. “Find him! How can a short, fat, middle-aged man give two hired guns the slip for a week and a half?”

“I take it back,” Kid whispered hoarsely in Heyes’ ear. “She does sound more like your type than mine, after all.”

“He’s gone,” a man’s voice cut through the night air. “It’s pitch dark. We haven’t got a hope in hell of finding him tonight.”

“For heaven’s sake,” the woman’s voice grew shrill. “You have twenty four hours or I’m hiring somebody else to find him. Can’t you do anything right? Bring him to me. God knows, when you do, I’ll kill him myself!”
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:21 pm

So I realized that this is the anniversary of my first story -- last September's "Authentic Experience." It's been a fun year ladies. (and I'm having formatting issues of course)

No Defense


Heyes held his jaw and looked up at the Kid; his head was ringing both from the punch he’d just taken and from the hangover he was suffering. “Are you done yet?”


“Done? No, I’m not done; I’ve not even started! What were you thinkin’? YOU WEREN’T THINKIN’!” the Kid shouted as he paced back and forth, growing ever more agitated with each step.


“Kid, I…”


“Don’t even start. That silver tongue won’t work this time. Not this time. There we were, had a good job doin’ security at a bank of all places, good pay, nice room, no one knew us. The sheriff even liked us! We coulda stayed in that town, waited out the amnesty. But no, you had to blow it.”


Heyes sighed. “I know, Kid. I’m sorry; I really am. Don’t you even want to hear what happened?”


The Kid stopped pacing and looked down at Heyes, still sitting in the mud holding his jaw. The Kid’s eyes narrowed and the glare intensified. Heyes looked away from the Kid’s icy expression. “Please, Kid, just let me explain.”


The Kid let out a huff of breath and his glare relaxed. He reached towards Heyes, who flinched back, then grabbed the hand held out to him, helping him up. Once Heyes was standing, the Kid turned his back and sat on a rock, throwing his arms in the air. “Go ahead, Heyes, explain.”


~~~000~~~


“You remember, Kid, how that first day we arrived we stopped that robbery?” He smiled at the memory.


The Kid snorted and gave a grudging grin.


They had ridden into town, taking the usual precaution of ensuring that they didn’t know the sheriff or his deputies and that no one else seemed to recognize them. Before checking into the hotel, they stopped at the general store to stock up. They had been on the trail for many days and were exhausted and out of most supplies. They had learned to stock up before finding beds, in case they had to leave quickly.


“So what do we need, Joshua? Some Arbuckles, I guess, and jerky. “ The Kid chuckled. “Maybe we should get some bandages as well – we sure seem to need them a lot. I’m gettin’ real tired of tearin’ up shirts.” Still talking to Heyes, without looking at him, he moved on grabbing items as he went.


Heyes had wandered over to look at some of the dry goods; they both needed new socks. A pile of books caught his attention and he began to examine the titles, debating whether he could afford one. He grunted in response to the Kid’s ramblings.


Other than a cursory glance as they entered to ensure that none of the customers or the storekeeper recognized them, neither was paying much attention to the other people in the store, who were remaining oddly silent and still throughout this exchange.


One woman stepped in front of her young son, accidentally pushing him into Heyes. Heyes, off balance, threw out a hand to stop his fall. In so doing, he knocked down a row of boots, which hit a shelf of toys flinging several boxes off the shelf. The boxes then opened, spewing marbles all over the floor.


The Kid had noticed some holsters that might do to replace his worn out one; he set his items down and pulled out his gun and checked it against the holster he was holding to see if it would fit. He was reaching to put down the holster when his foot encountered the rolling marbles. As his feet became tangled with the marbles, he dropped the holster. His hand accidentally tightened on the trigger of his gun, and a bullet flew, knocking the gun out of the hand of the young man holding the storekeeper at bay.


At the sound of the shot, Heyes whirled around, dropping the book he was still holding. Because he was still off balance and turning when he dropped the book, it flew from his hand and hit the young man’s partner, causing him to shift his feet and slip on the cascading marbles. He went down hard, and Heyes landed on top of him.


Having heard the shot, the sheriff and his deputies stormed in and grabbed the young gun men. “Sheriff,” the storekeeper exclaimed, “these two men saved all of us!”


The sheriff looked at Heyes and Curry inquiringly.


“Jason.” His wife ran up to him. Absent mindedly he put his arm around her as his son ran up as well.


“What happened, Sarah?” he demanded.


Sarah explained, “We were being held up by those two.” She pointed at the two young men in custody. “I was so frightened. When these two,” she indicated Heyes and Curry who were trying, unsuccessfully, to be inconspicuous, “these two came in and sized up the problem. He,” she pointed at the Kid, “he went over near the counter, setting them at ease by pretending to shop. His friend there,” now she pointed at Heyes, who gulped, “he moved Sam here behind him, then he threw some marbles on the floor to distract the robbers. While he did that his friend there shot the gun out of that one’s hand.”


“Fanciest shooting I’ve ever seen,” corroborated the storekeeper.


“Anyway, while he was shooting, his friend there tackled the other one. It was just amazing! And no one was hurt while they disarmed these two robbers!” The sheriff’s wife ended in a rush.


The sheriff stared at Heyes and Curry, who looked uncertainly at each other then back at the sheriff.


“Well I can’t thank you two enough! Anything we can do for you, you just let us know,” the sheriff exclaimed grabbing their hands and shaking them heartily. “Are you two in town long?”


“Uh, not really,” answered Heyes. “We planned to stock up then see what work was around, but we heard there was a ranch down the road looking for hands and thought we’d try there.”


“Look no further. The bank’s looking for security guards. You two would be perfect,” the sheriff responded.


“Oh, yes,” his wife cried. “Daddy would love to have two such quick thinking men. Daddy owns the bank,” she explained.


~~~000~~~


“Yeah,” the Kid grinned. “That day sure worked out well.” Then he frowned and his eyes narrowed again as he glared at Heyes. “But then you had to blow it. We had it good; we were actually settlin' in. Then we had to ride out in the rain, again; sleep on the cold, wet ground, again! All because of you!” He stood up and towered over Heyes who was sitting down trying to light a fire with some damp wood. The Kid’s hands clenched into fists as he remembered why they were wet and cold at the moment.


Heyes looked up and raised his hand to ward off another blow if the Kid got mad enough to punch him again.


The Kid glared then strode off, walking rapidly around the clearing. He stopped and sighed. “Okay, Heyes, just tell me why. What were you thinkin’?”


“Kid, I don’t really know. The week had gone so well. You remember, you were taking the librarian to dinner and I was going to play poker with the sheriff, the Mayor, the Doc, and a couple of others. We played a few hands, and I was careful not to win too much.” Heyes looked bewildered as well as hung-over. “I sure didn’t think I drank that much.”


The Kid looked closely at Heyes, noting his bloodshot eyes and woebegone expression. He huffed in exasperation and moved to the logs, stooped down, and took the matches from Heyes. He started the fire and set the kettle on to make coffee. Heyes sat with his head in his hands, trying to hold his head in place and stop the war dance going on inside it.


~~~000~~~


“Thanks, Kid.” Heyes took the cup of coffee the Kid handed him and stared at it, breathing in the warmth of the rising steam.


“Go on, Heyes. I want to hear why I’m out here eatin’ beans when I could’ve been steppin’ out with that pretty librarian again,” the Kid growled.


Heyes sighed. “Well as I said we were playing poker. I was being careful; we all were. The Mayor’s wife don’t hold with drinking and we were at their house; so there was no whiskey. The Mayor was pouring us something called a Ricky – it’s mostly soda water and lime juice. Said he could tell his wife we were drinking lime fizzes.”


“Heyes.” The Kid rolled his eyes. “I guess you don’t know everythin’ after all. A Ricky has gin in it.”


Heyes nodded then winced at what the motion did to his headache. “Yeah, I did know that, but it didn’t taste like there was much in there.”


“So how many did you have, Heyes?”


“Well we were playing for a while.”


“I know; it was after one when the sheriff rousted me out of bed and dragged me down to his office.” The Kid grimaced at the memory.


Heyes threw him an apologetic glance. “I guess I musta had seven or eight over the course of the night.” He thought some more. “Maybe ten or twelve, it was a long night.”


The Kid just rolled his eyes.


“Anyway, the game broke up and the Sheriff, the Doc, and I headed out. I guess the cold air musta hit us hard. I think we started singing, but I really don’t remember much after that, till you grabbed me and got us saddled and headed outta there.” He put his head back in his hands. “I just don’t know what happened, why the sheriff threw us out. I thought he liked us. We saved his wife and son.” Heyes finished plaintively.


The Kid growled. “Well I know what happened after that. Do you really want to know, Heyes?”


“Yeah, Kid, I want to know. Why are you so mad at me? What happened?”


“You were singin’ alright. When the sheriff dragged me down to his office, there you were sittin’ on a bed in a cell singin’ at the top of your voice.”


“Is it illegal to sing or something there? I swear the sheriff was singing too when we left the Mayor’s house.”


“He mightta been singin’ then, but he sure wasn’t when he grabbed me.” The Kid shuddered, remembering the sheriff pounding on their door. “I opened the door and he slammed his way in and pushed my gun aside, sayin’ I better put that away and get packin’. Said he owed us for his wife and son, but that wasn’t enough and we had to leave now, before everyone else sobered up. Then he dragged me over to his office to get you, helped me get you onto your horse, and we left.” He sighed and glared at Heyes. “And it’s all your fault.”


“Come on, Kid, my singing’s not that bad,” Heyes joked.


The Kid closed his eyes briefly and gritted his teeth. “It wasn’t HOW you were singin’; it was WHAT you were singin’,” he enunciated slowly.


Heyes just looked at him.


“You were singin’ The Ballad of Heyes and Curry!” he shouted.


Heyes’s eyes opened wide and his mouth formed an “O.”


“Yeah, Heyes, and as if that weren’t bad enough, you added a few new verses. The sheriff said that when you hit your third new verse, he realized who we were, would’ve realized it sooner, but he’d drunk almost as much as you. Because he thinks we saved his wife and son, he only threw us out of town, rather than arrestin’ us. But that, Heyes, is why we are sittin’ here wet and cold – because your silver tongue was TOO DANG CLEVER!”


Heyes stared at him, speechless. After several long moments he put his head down into his hands again. “Go ahead and hit me again, Kid; shoot me even. I won’t defend myself.”


Last edited by riders57 on Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:36 pm

It crept silently through the river of shadows cast through the window by the glowing moon. Silently…stealthily…secretly…it crawled. It left the shadows of the open closet and scurried across the floor. It stopped to hide next to a dresser when the room’s occupant moved on his bed. Its goal was in sight. But it had to cross the sleeping form to reach it. Slowly, it started its climb up the bedpost. Slowly…silently…it ascended. Reaching the top of the post, it looked down at its enemy. A small, blond-haired human was the obstacle it had to cross. It needed to hurry for it would soon be morning. Already, the dawning sun was starting to break the horizon. It attached itself a lifeline to the top of the post where it sat, and leapt down to the human’s head. It sat for a second, making sure there was no danger, then it started its crossing. Slowly…silently…it crept.

Six-year-old Jedediah Curry had been fast asleep, dreaming of saving the world from a race of indian bears, when he had a sudden urge to scratch his face. The sensation woke him up and sleepily, he brought his hand to his face to move his hair from tickling his forehead. But when his hand arrived at its destination, he didn’t feel hair. He felt…what was that…its MOVING! “Oh God!” he yelled as he grabbed the unknown critter and flung it to the floor. Immediately, he looked over the side of the bed to see what had violated his personal space. What he saw, made his skin crawl. It was a huge wolf spider, as big as his hand. He watched as it hurriedly hid itself under his bed. He did the only thing he could think of. “MAAAAA!” He ran down from the loft and collided with his Ma who had come running at the sound of her son’s scream.

“What is it son!?” she asked slightly panicked.

“Its HUGE and it was on my head and now its under the bed!”

“What honey? Calm down and tell me what it is?” ‘Please don’t be a rat…’

“It was a giant SPIDER and it attacked me Ma! You gotta go get it!”

Mrs. Curry knew she would not get another wink of sleep if she didn’t deal with the problem right then and there. She went up to the loft and looked under Jed’s bed. Seeing no spider, she searched the rest of his room. Still, she didn’t see any spider.

“Jed honey, I don’t see a spider. Maybe you were just dreaming.”

“NO Ma! I wasn’t dreaming! It jumped on my head! You have to find it!”

“I looked over your whole room up here. There isn’t any sign of a spider. Now go back to bed.”

“Can I just sleep on the couch ‘til breakfast?”

“Sure son,” she agreed so she, herself, could go back to bed. “Lay there on the couch. You can search for the spider after breakfast and when you find it, we’ll kill it.” She brought him a pillow and quilt, kissed him on the head, and tucked him in on the couch.
It wasn’t long before Jed was once again fast asleep and dreaming.

At breakfast that morning, Jed decided what he needed to do. “Ma, can I go get Han to come over and help me catch that big spider?”

“Sure son. After you help me with the dishes.”

Having done so, Jed made his way over to the Heyes farm where he saw Han outside playing with ants and toy soldiers.

“HAN, HAN! You gotta come help me!”

“What with?” Han asked getting up from his spot at the top of the anthill.

“There’s this BIIIG spider hid in my room and we need to catch it afore it gets me!”

“Sounds like what we need is a plan. Hmm…let me think.” Han started to pace around the anthill. “I know! We need a box, some string, and some dead flies!”

They collected their supplies and, after many attempts, had a few dead flies. They then headed to Jed’s room. “Alright, here’s what we’re going to do,” Han said sitting down on the floor. “We’re gonna set this box up on this stick. Then we put some dead flies under the box. When the spider comes to eat on the flies, we pull the stick out with the string and trap the spider under the box.”

“Wow, that’s smart Han!” Jed said excitedly. He tied the string around the stick and helped Han set up the box.

“Thanks. Now, hand me them flies.” Jed did as he was told and soon, their trap was set. They then hid behind a chair and waited. And waited…and waited. No spider showed up. They waited some more. Still, no spider. Han got impatient and turned to Jed. “Where did you last see it?”

“Under my bed.” Jed said staring into the void under his sleeping quarters.

Han crept out from behind the chair and over to the bed. He slowly bent down and looked underneath. “I don’t see nothin’ Jed.” He stood up and turned toward his younger cousin. His eyes immediately grew wide as a twenty dollar gold piece.

“What is it?” Jed asked, slightly scared.

“Don’t move Jed. Its behind you.”

“WHAT?!” Jed jumped up, knocking the chair over and falling into Han. The boys laid in a crumpled heap for just a second. Then, in unison, they looked over to see the spider scurrying toward them. Two young voices screamed and hurried down the ladder getting the heck out of the bedroom. They didn’t stop running until they were outside. “That thing is trying to kill us!” Jed said out of breath. Han was bent over breathing hard himself.

“I weren’t scared. It just surprised me is all.”

“Aw, come off it Han. You was just as scared as I was.”

“Was not!”

“Was too!”

“Look, fighting ain’t gonna get rid of that monster. We need a better plan, go on the defensive against it. It thinks it owns the place and we need to show it that it don’t.” Then in a smaller voice said, “Was not…”

Han walked off to pace while he thought. “Was too…” Jed whispered.

“What we need are some weapons,” Han finally said. He walked over to an apple tree and broke off two good size branches. “Here, take one of these. C’mon, let’s go get that critter.”

The two youngsters walked slowly back in the house and up the ladder. Han peaked his head above the floor just enough to look around. Seeing no spider, he slowly climbed the rest of the way up. Jed followed carefully behind. They stood back to back.

“You see it?” whispered Han.

“No, you?”

“Nope.”

They moved in unison deeper into the room. Suddenly, Han spotted some movement on the small table beside Jed’s bed.

“THERE IT IS!” he yelled as he brought his club down on top of the table, knocking it to the floor. The spider scurried between his legs and ended up in front of Jed.

“OH MY GOD, ITS ATTACKING ME!” Jed then brought his own hunk of tree down hard on the floor, scratching the boards. The spider was missed by centimeters and ran into the closet.

“Where’d it go, did you get it?!” Han said, twirling around.

“It went in the closet!”

“Good! We got it cornered then! Let’s go get it!”

The boys hurried over to the closet and flung open the door. The spider had disappeared somewhere under the clutter.

“One of us needs to move stuff while the other waits to smash it,” Han decided.

“Well, I ain’t movin’ the stuff! It might get me!”

Han sighed. “Alright fine! I’ll do it.” He hesistantly crept closer to the closet, then in a flurry of movement, staring slinging stuff right and left.

Downstairs, Mrs. Curry, hearing the commotion, was on her way to the loft ladder when one of Jed’s shirts hit her on the head. Looking up, she saw stuff flying up in the air and then another thump on the floor. “WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING UP THERE?!” She stopped and looked up.

“NOTHIN’ MA…”

“JEDEDIAH CURRY, DON’T YOU LIE TO ME!”

“WE’RE TRYING TO KILL THAT MONSTER SPIDER!”

“SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE TEARING THE HOUSE DOWN!” She then started up the ladder.

Jed heard her. “DON’T COME UP MA! IT MIGHT GET YOU!” Her head popped over the top of the ladder just as Han swung once more at the oversized arachnid.

“You two stop that right now!” She surveyed the damage they had done. “And pick this mess up!”

“But Ma, we ain’t got it yet.”

“I don’t care! Clean this mess up this instant. I’ll be back in a few minutes and this place better be picked up.” She went back downstairs.

“Aw, darn it! I ain’t never gonna’ be rid of that thing.”

“Yeah you will. You start picking up and I’ll watch for it.” Han instructed.

“Now wait a minute. You made most of this mess. YOU pick it up and I’LL watch for it.”

“It ain’t my room!”

“Well its your mess!” As if it had been listening, the spider crawled out and sat between them. They both looked down sensing the movement, yelled out in surprise, then both brought their clubs down simultaneously.

“ALRIGHT! THAT’S IT!” Mrs. Curry hurried her way back up the ladder to find both boys standing on the bed. ‘You BOTH are going to be in big trouble if I don’t see some cleaning going on right now!”

“But Ma, its still loose in here!” Jed tried to explain.

“Okay, fine! Where did you see it last?”

“It ran under my clothes there.”

Mrs. Curry picked up an overturned cup that had got in the way of the onslaught, and slowly picking up the clothes, found the spider. In a flash, she brought the cup down over the arachnid. Both boys’ eyes grew wide with amazement. She then grabbed a nearby sheet of paper, slid it under the cup, and hurriedly flipped the cup over, trapping the spider. “There! Now straighten up this room!” Mrs. Curry then descended the stairs and released the spider outside, well away from the house.

“Wow Jed. Your Ma ain’t afraid of nothing,” Han said, starting to pick up clothes and throw them back in the closet.

“Yeah, I thought girls were afraid of bugs,” Jed replied, pushing the rest of the clothes under the bed. After the mess was cleaned up, both boys sat on the bed, thinking about their close encounter with death. All of a sudden, a cockroach ran across the floor in front of them.

‘MAAAAAAAA!”
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:07 am

"Heyes, it's no good, you've got to go," said Kid as he stood up from examining his horse's leg. "It's broken; he's finished." Kid started to draw his gun. His gelding stood with his head lowered to the ground, blowing softly, and trembling in pain.

"Kid, are you crazy? You can't put him down, that posse will hear the shot and be on us in no time. C'mon, we'll ride double," said Heyes holding out his hand to his partner.

"It won't work, Heyes. The trail's too rocky; your horse can't carry two of us over this ground. See if you can draw the posse off and get clear; then circle back for me when you can." said Kid handing up the heavy cash bag to his partner. Heyes hesitated, then took the sack and tied it off on his saddle horn. He reached out his hand again. Kid shook it tightly. "Good luck to you, Heyes."

Heyes nodded, "You, too, Kid." He hated leaving Kid behind, but it was their only hope. Heyes was headed back up the trail towards the posse when he heard the shot behind him. Damn Kid for doing the right thing. The ground soon leveled out and the trail opened up onto softer footing. Heyes spurred his horse into a gallop. The big bay broke free of the sheltering trees and pounded across the open meadow. Heyes stayed low to his neck as he crossed the path of the oncoming posse. There were only six of them, but the posse had been dogging their trail for days now.

That Wilford job was jinxed from the get go. Wheat had been shot and needed a doctor, so Heyes and Kid had split from the rest of the gang hoping the posse would follow them and the money. It had worked. Now, he was hoping to do the same for his partner. The posse was still a distance away, but Heyes drew his gun and began shooting above their heads. He didn't want to hit anyone; he just wanted a little added incentive for the posse to follow him.

The riders reined up in confusion. Heyes and Curry had been heading up to the pass; why was one of them doubling back? The sheriff waved his arm in the air and charged after Heyes, urging his deputies to follow him. Two of the riders hung back and tightly reined up their mounts waiting for the posse to disappear over the slight rise the outlaw had just dropped behind.

“Milt, why’d you pull up?” asked the smaller, bald man.

“Didn’t you hear that shot, Ben?” asked the larger man.

“Yeah, so?” said Ben.

“So, who was getting shot at?” said Milt. “My bet is that Heyes shot Curry and took the money. Why else wouldn’t Curry be with him?”

“I don’t know, Milt; but everyone knows Heyes and Curry are close. It don’t really make sense,” said Ben.

“Well, someone sure as hell was shooting at something and I plan to find out what. If I’m right, there’s $10,000 lying around up that trail just waiting to be collected. Are you coming?” said Milt.

“Since you put it that way, I reckon I will,” said Ben with a slow grin. Milt grinned back.


OOOOOOOOOO


Kid slowly re-holstered his gun. It sickened him to destroy a fine animal, but he’d had no choice. The leg had been beyond repair and he couldn’t allow his horse to suffer like that. He’d have to leave his gear behind, but he stooped and retrieved a sack of jerky from one of his saddlebags. Everything else could be left. Tucking the sack inside his shirt, he headed up the rocky path and melted into the woods. If he was followed, he wasn’t about to make it easy on anyone.


OOOOOOOOOO


Heyes’s horse was pulling away from the posse. Despite the riders’ best efforts, they couldn’t close ground with the fleeing outlaw. The Devil’s Hole gang was extremely well-mounted and Heyes made sure that his men took excellent care of their horses. It had saved their lives a number of times. He risked a look back glancing over his shoulder. He saw that there were only four men in pursuit now. Damn it, the posse must’ve split up. That meant two men were going after Kid. Heyes had to shake these guys fast and get back to his partner.


OOOOOOOOOO


Milt and Ben soon found Curry’s dead horse lying off to the side of the trail. “So it was the horse who got shot. No sign of Curry; he must’ve set off on foot,” said Ben stating the obvious.

“He can’t have gotten far. Looky here, there’s footprints heading out this way,” said Milt pointing into the woods.

“Milt, I ain’t too sure about this. Curry dead is one thing, but I don’t want to come across Kid Curry alive and kicking,” said Ben.

“I know what you’re saying, but I can’t walk away from $10,000, can you?” said Milt. His youngest son, Bert, had come down with tuberculosis last year, and the doctor’s bills had taken their ranch. He could barely afford the small two-room cabin he was now renting from the local grocer. Kid Curry was an opportunity to put things right. He could capture a dangerous felon and the reward would put him right with his creditors. Nope, he had to go on.

Ben considered Milt’s words. He, too, could certainly use the cash. He had his eye on a nice piece of land north of town and had been trying to scrape together the down payment before it was sold to someone with more means. He so wanted to ask Marla to marry him, but he had nothing to offer her. A good piece of land would make all the difference. He gulped at the thought of confronting such a fearsome gunman, but he nodded his agreement to Milt. They were lifelong friends. Ben couldn’t very well ride off and let Milt face the outlaw alone. Together, they headed off into the forest looking for Curry’s trail.

OOOOOOOOOOO

Kid hadn’t left much in the way of tracks. He had slipped off his boots when he left the trail and walked in his stocking feet for the first few hundred yards knowing that he’d leave less of a footprint. Coming to a rockier area, Kid slipped his boots on and hopped from rock to rock. After about 500 yards, he put his mind to covering ground and stopped worrying about leaving a trail.

OOOOOOOOOO

The broad meadow was narrowing alongside a riverbank. Heyes didn’t want to be caught as the trail funneled its way back to Wilford through the next canyon. To his right was the river and to the left, a broad expanse of talus pouring off the peak above. Just above the field of broken shale was a rocky cut that crossed the left shoulder of the mountain. If he crossed the river, the posse could follow him easily. He hauled hard on his left rein, and savagely raked his right spur into his gelding’s side. The horse pinned his ears back at the rough treatment but leapt off the trail onto the shifting, sliding rock; struggling, legs splaying wildly. Heyes brutally urged him on. He knew that only the horse’s momentum was keeping them upright. With the last of his strength, the big bay gelding crossed the slope and hauled his rider onto the cut. Heyes jumped off the exhausted animal and took the reins pulling the horse behind him up and across the shoulder; out of sight of the trail below. The animal was covered with sweaty foam from his exertions and blowing hard. The outlaw took off his coat and wrapped it around the horse’s nose to muffle his breathing. It was unlikely the posse would hear him over the noise of their own pursuit, but sound carried a long way at this altitude and Heyes wasn’t taking any chances. It wasn’t long before he heard the posse coming down the trail.

OOOOOOOOOO

Kid was slowing down. His boots were rubbing blisters on his heels and he was tired. He’d been up 36 hours. He wanted to rest but he knew he’d have to make it to the pass first. There were places to hide at the top; craggy cliffs that could conceal a man easily; but it would be a hard climb on foot. Dropping back down to the trail; Kid plodded up the rocky path.

OOOOOOOOOO

“Where the hell did he go? The tracks stop here,” said the puzzled deputy. He was looking around him. It was as though Heyes had vanished into thin air. The sheriff and the other deputies rode up and down the trail looking for tracks leading into the water.


“He must’ve jumped into the river. You, Doug and Marty, ride upstream and check the banks. George, follow me,” said the sheriff as he rode down into the riverbed. He slowly rode downstream, his horse shuffling along with the current. No one had looked up. If they had, they would have seen tracks angling across the talus slope at the very top. The rest of the tracks below had been covered by the avalanche of small rocks Heyes had left in his wake.


OOOOOOOOOO


“Milt, look, there he is!” said Ben pointing to the trail above them.


Sure enough, Milt saw Curry limping his way up the trail. His stomach clenched into a knot; he was scared. It was one thing to follow a trail and quite another to face a notorious criminal. Milt wasn’t sure about this at all.


“What’ll we do, Milt? Should we try to wing him?” asked Ben. He didn’t want to shoot a man in the back, but he didn’t want to face down Curry either.


“Naw, I ain’t shooting a man in the back. We’ll get ahead and catch him around that next switchback,” said Milt looking at the trail that climbed the cliff face. It wound in and out of boulders that had tumbled from the top. If they timed it right and went on foot, Curry wouldn’t know they were there. It was real tempting to shoot first, but Milt had to give the man a sporting chance. He wasn’t about to murder a man; outlaw or not. Ben agreed to the plan and the two set off on foot being extremely careful to stay out of sight and be quiet. Milt thought back to the dead horse. Curry must’ve known the shot would be heard. That’s what Heyes was doing; he had drawn the posse away from his partner. But why had Curry given his location away like that? He’d put his horse out of misery at the risk of his own freedom.


OOOOOOOOOO


Heyes’s horse shied at the smell of his dead friend and he had to steady him. He saw the hoof prints of the two deputies heading into the woods. They must’ve picked up Kid’s trail. Following the tracks, Heyes picked up his pace as much as he was able. Kid was on foot and it wouldn’t take long for the deputies to catch up with him. Heyes prayed that they weren’t planning to shoot first.


OOOOOOOOOOO

Milt and Ben scrambled around the first boulder field and realized that they needed to leave the trail in order to get ahead of Curry. Silently, Ben gestured to Milt to split up. He was a better climber so he would circle wide and make his way up the rocky cliff. Milt gripped his arm tightly and smiled at his friend, before letting go and watching as Ben crept sideways to begin his climb.


OOOOOOOOOO


Kid knew the deputies were behind him. They were amateurs and he’d heard their noisy progress for the last mile. He was nearly to the outcropping of boulders he seen from below. It was a good, defensive position. From there he would have a clear view of the hill and trail below. He planned on holding them off until Heyes arrived or he ran out of bullets.

OOOOOOOOOO

Milt had gone about a half mile up the winding trail when he heard Ben scream. A noisy clattering of rocks made the hair on the back of Milt’s neck stand up. Ben must’ve fallen. Milt ran back down the trail to the bottom, but saw no sign of his friend. He began looking up the rocky cliff face for his partner and what he saw froze the blood in his veins. Ben had fallen and was lying unconscious on a ledge a good hundred feet above Milt.

“Ben!” yelled Milt. He no longer cared about Curry. All that mattered was Ben. “Ben, can you hear me?” he yelled again. Frantic, he ran back and forth beneath the overhang looking for a way up to his partner. There was no way up. Maybe he could get to him from the top. They had lariats on their saddles. Milt could use those. He turned back and ran to where they’d left their horses.

Milt was scrambling to untie Ben’s rope when he heard a pistol cocking behind him. He stopped and slowly raised his hands before turning to face Hannibal Heyes holding him at gunpoint.


“Howdy. I sure hope you aren’t planning on using that rope on my partner,” Heyes said with the friendliest of smiles. He gestured at Milt’s hand which still held the rope.


Milt looked at Heyes, and looked stupidly at the rope he was clutching. “No. No, this is for my partner. He fell and he’s stuck on a ledge. I think maybe he’s hurt real bad. I’ve got to get to him. Please don’t shoot me, he needs me,” said Milt. He crossed his arms in a defensive position, closed his eyes, and waited for Heyes to kill him.


Instead, Heyes reached out and disarmed him. Stuffing Milt’s gun into his own gunbelt, he holstered his pistol. The man was so upset about his partner, that Heyes was sure he was relatively harmless. “C’mon, I’ve got a rope, too,” said Heyes, walking back towards his horse.


“You’re gonna help me?” said Milt, flabbergasted, “but, you’re Hannibal Heyes.”


“Yeah, so?” said Heyes. “Look, you aren’t getting your friend off that ledge by yourself. Do you want help or don’t you?” He had reached his gelding and was pulling his own lariat off his saddle.


“Yes, sir; I sure could use some help,” said Milt.


“All right then. Let’s see what we can do,” said Heyes.


OOOOOOOOOO


Reaching the base of the cliff, Heyes looked up and saw the hapless deputy still lying unmoving on the ledge. He must be hurt pretty bad. “How’d he get up there?” said Heyes.


“He climbed. Ben’s been a climber ever since we were boys. He’ll climb anything just for the hell of it,” said Milt fondly.


“You two have been partners a long time, huh?” said Heyes, thinking of his own lifelong partnership.


“All our lives,” said Milt.


“Where’s my partner?” said Heyes in a much less friendly tone.


Milt gulped and said, “He’s up in those rocks above us. Ben was trying to climb up there so we could get the drop on him.”


“Is he in one piece?” growled Heyes.


“Yes sir, he’s just fine. We could’ve shot him a while back, but that wouldn’t of been right. We ain’t backshooters,” said Milt. Maybe he’d said too much. Heyes was looking at him kind of funny.


“Kid! You okay?” roared Heyes.


“Yeah, I’m fine. What’s going on down there?” yelled Kid back down to his partner.


“Come on down. We could use another pair of hands,” yelled Heyes.


Turning to Milt, Heyes said, “You wait down here. I’m going to head up the trail until I’m across from Ben. I’m pretty good at climbing, too, and I think I can get over to him from there. Kid can anchor me and then I’ll lower him down to you.”


Speechless, Milt nodded his understanding.


Thirty minutes later, Ben was lowered safely to the ground. He was still unconscious, but otherwise he seemed in pretty good shape. Milt settled him comfortably with his head resting on his jacket. Standing up, he turned to the two outlaws.


“Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry, I don’t know how to thank you for what you done. Ben is like family and I owe you for helping him,” said Milt.


“That’s right, you do,” said Heyes smoothly “and you can thank us by giving us one of your horses.”


“What?” said Milt, shocked by the audacity of the man, “but, how are we going to get back?”


“Double up; Ben can't ride alone anyway. You aren’t going to have to go very far before the rest of the posse finds you, now will you?” said Heyes reasonably. Kid Curry was smiling now, too, and threw an arm across his partner’s shoulders.

“Gee, I guess not. Still, I’m a deputy, I’m not supposed to go around giving my horse to an outlaw; even if he helped me,” said Milt.


“Milt, we aren’t giving you a choice here,” said Kid, tiring of the game and pulling his gun to make his point. He backed away from Milt and grabbed the reins to his horse. Holstering his gun, he swung up on the sorrel.


“Well, you did save Ben. Why did you help us?” said Milt, obviously still uncomfortable with the idea of helping them on their way. Heyes had walked over to his horse and was mounting.


Heyes laughed, “I guess you can just think of us as a couple of bad Samaritans.”


“Yes sir, you sure were,” said Milt, laughing, too.

He watched for a long time as the two partners rode up the trail and then disappeared from sight. Turning, he went back to his own partner and sat to wait for help.
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:24 pm

Defensive Position

Curry spurred his gelding forward. “Heyes, the horses can’t take much more,” he shouted.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Heyes snapped back. A moment later, “How far back do you think they are?”

“Last I checked they were about three miles back and gaining.”

“One of us is gonna get killed or a horse maimed!” Lobo urged his mount to keep the fast pace.

“So much for your plan, Heyes!” Wheat shouted.

Heyes abruptly reined in his horse and the rest of the gang followed suit. “How was I to know half the town would join the posse and they would follow for so long?! If anyone has a better idea, now’s a good time.”

“Ain’t worth the $1,000 we got!” Kyle said, winded. “Think if we gave it back they’d leave us alone?”

“Pffttt… Give the money back! Of all the hair-brained ideas!” Wheat chided Murtry. “How you suppose we should do that? In a very sarcastic voice, he continued, “Here you go! We didn’t mean to steal the money from your bank. You can have it back.”

“Wheat, that’s enough. Ain’t helpin’ the problem!” warned the Kid.

“Remember when I used a little too much dynamite on that train to Clarksburg?”

Heyes wiped the sweat from his brow with his bandana. “How can I forget?! The money flew down and folks were scrambling… That just might work!” Heyes reached over and slapped Kyle on the back before untying the money sack from his saddle horn.

“We gonna use dynamite? I used the last stick back there, Heyes.”

“Have to hurry up!” the Kid informed them. “They’ll be on us soon.”

Heyes handed bundles of money to all the gang members. “You can keep one bundle, but the rest you open up and let it go while you ride so the money flies all over the place. Spread out some. We’ll meet at the top of that ridge by the tree line.”

“Crazy idea…” Wheat mumbled as he pocketed a wad of money and tore the seal on the other stacks.

Kyle tossed a few bills in the air. “This is fun!” he said as he spurred his mare away from the others, but towards the ridge.

“Kyle’s got the idea; rest of you follow his lead,” Heyes ordered as he tossed some bills to the side.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

The posse rounded the corner and stopped short.

“What the…”

Littering the wide meadow was the stolen money. Most of the posse members quickly dismounted and began gathering it up.

“What are you doing?” the sheriff yelled. “We still have to get them outlaws!”

“Why, Sheriff? We got the money back,” asked the deputy with a fistful of money. “Don’t fancy meetin’ Kid Curry, myself. Not with his reputation.”

The rest of the posse nodded in agreement, got off their horses and began collecting the money.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

The Devil’s Hole gang watched the posse gathering the loot from the ridge.

“It worked!” Kyle exclaimed. “One of my ideers worked!”

Heyes put an arm around the shorter outlaw. “Sure was a good idea.”

Kyle’s eyes twinkled with pride.

“Good job, Kyle!” Curry took a drink from his canteen. “At least it got that posse off our backs.”

“May have lost the posse, but we lost the money, too,” grumbled Wheat.

“Wheat, someday I hope you learn that there are more important things than money… like our lives and freedom.” Heyes reined his horse around. “Let’s get back to the Hole.”



(Thanks for the idea go to the LA bank robbers who scattered their stolen money so pedestrians gathering it hindered the police from chasing them.)




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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:34 am

Yey - I managed to do one - a short one but I did a challenge!!! Rolling Eyes

Defensive Position

It was a stance he knew so well. He had lost count of the number of times he had witnessed it but it never got easier. Each time he went through the same emotions – anger, frustration, pride - to down right scared.

He knew the signs. There was a glacial glaze in the eye, set in a poker straight face, the conciliatory, cool words and the feigned calmness. When things went further and there was no option, he would watch as his partner assumed the position, arms hanging loosely at his side, fingers flexed, hovering near the butt of the gun, waiting for the first indication that the opponent was going to make his move.

As a myriad of thoughts and emotions gushed through him at this point, he knew his friend would have only one concern and that was the actions of the man before him. There wasn’t time to be distracted by thoughts, which would divert his attention. As he watched, his mouth went dry, the palms of his hands became sweaty and his chest constricted chest over the pulsing muscle of his thumping heart.

Time seemed to stand still at this point, as the world slowed, all attention focused on the developing scene before him. He watched, as keenly as his partner, for the first flicker in the adversary’s eyes, or twitch of a finger. He knew as soon as that movement was detected then all hell would break lose.

He knew the process so well he had assumed he would know what to do, but now he stood in a street, facing the antagonist before him, he was aware how little he really knew about what Kid faced whenever he was called out. He didn’t even have the luxury of his partner being there to back him up. Why couldn’t he have just let it go? But letting go of money – especially the substantial amount, which had been in the pot at the poker table – was something that didn’t come easy to Hannibal Heyes.

It was then Heyes realised the real skill of his partner – it wasn’t the speed with which he swiped the gun from the holster, it wasn’t the smooth movement he had perfected over the years. It wasn’t even his ability to notice the smallest of indications that the other man was going to draw. Kid Curry’s expertise came from his ability to push all other thoughts from his mind and to totally focus on the task in hand. Heyes suddenly realised his lack of ability in this department as his attention was suddenly drawn to the swift movement of the man across the street and he realised the other man was about to draw. The thunderous boom, which erupted, causing a him to spontaneously react.

O-O-O-O-O

When Kid Curry rode into town, a short while later, he immediately noticed the gathered crowd outside of the saloon. Through the band of people he could just make out the prone body on the ground. It was then he noticed a familiar black hat, with silver band, lying to one side. His throat went dry and his palms began to sweat. His chest constricted about his pounding heart but his expression remained impassive, so as not to draw attention to himself, as he stepped down from his horse, with slow deliberation.

Elbowing his way through the huddle of people, he looked down at the man lying in the street. The nausea he had been feeling abated as he looked at the blank stare of a stranger. It was only then he noticed the dark haired man, sitting on the board walk steps to, gun hanging limply from his fingertips.

Dark eyes met blue and the hollow look Heyes afforded him told Kid exactly what his partner was feeling – he’d experienced it enough times himself.

The sheriff approached and spoke to Heyes, exonerating him of any guilt as there had been witnesses to testify that the dead man had been the one to instigate the fight. Kid walked over and stood calmly looking down at his friend. Leaning forward, he placed a gloved hand under Heyes’ upper arm and gently pulled him to his feet.

“Let’s go get you a drink,” Joshua,” he said softly.

Nodding his reply, Heyes let his partner guide him towards the saloon.


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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:50 pm

Defensive Position


Heyes and Curry were riding into a small Colorado town just like they have ridden into so many other small wherever towns. On the outside nothing appeared to be any different from any of those other entrances into those other towns, but appearances can be deceiving.
It was early fall and the colourful leaves and trees surrounding the town and bordering the roadway into said township were making the ride both interesting and exhilarating. The sun was shinning and though the air was crisp, it was a very pleasant day and the partners had been looking forward to getting into a nice town and enjoying a nice beer.
Heyes was all grins, his dark eyes sparkling with delight at the crisp fall scenery surrounding him; he loved the fall, the only downside being that it was the fore front of winter. Karma-Lou appeared to be in much the same spirit, coming into town with her neck arched, her nose snorting and her feet prancing. Kid on the other hand was solemn and looking ticked off. He was glaring at his partner in irritation and was constantly having to apply leg pressure to ole' Buck in order to encourage the gelding to keep up with the dancing mare.

“Geez Heyes, will you cut it out!” Kid finally complained, having come to the end of his patience.

Heyes frowned and looked back at his partner. “What!?” He asked defensively. “What am I doing!?”

“You're being YOU!” Kid snipped. “That's what you're doing!”

Heyes sent another look back to his partner, this one incredulous. “WHAT!?”

“Well just look at you!” Kid insisted. “Everything about you says; 'Hey look at me! I'm someone special! I'm someone you want to know!' Weren't you the one who insisted that we had to work at 'blending in' now that we're going for the amnesty?”

Heyes pulled Karma to a halt and turned her to face the Kid, irritation now wiping out the smile that had been on his face.

“We do blend in!” Heyes snarked, feeling resentful now. “Didn't I get rid of that black studded holster that I liked so much because you said it drew too much attention?!”

“Yeah, and a good thing ya' did too!” Kid shot back at him. “That thing made ya' look like a two bit gunfighter wanna be.”

“Gunfighter wanna be!? The one thing I ain't Kid is a wanna be!”

“Yeah, well you ain't no gunfighter.” Kid pointed out. “But packin' around that fancy rig made you look like you were tryin' to be. You were attracting the eye of every real gunfighter between the West Coast Mountains and the Grand Canyon—you were lucky you didn't get your head shot off!!”

“Oh come off it!” Heyes complained. “Nobody ever challenged me to a gunfight when I was wearing that rig! You're imagining things!”

“That's because the real gunfighters would take one look at ya' and instantly write ya' off as a 'wanna be' and not worth their time!” Kid informed him. “Then any of the other 'wanna be's' who thought they were gonna challenge ye' got one look at me and thought better of it! Remember me Heyes!? The one who watches your back!? You'd be surprised at how much I see from back here!”

“Gunfighter wanna be.” Heyes grumbled, all ticked off now. “Why would I even want to be a 'gunfighter wanna be'?! And besides!” He pointed out, suddenly perking up. “I got rid of that holster as soon as we started on our amnesty anyways! So what's got the burr under your blanket now!?”

“It's just YOU!” Kid insisted.

“Kid, you're gonna havta be a little more specific than that!”

“You got rid of the holster, but you're still sportin' that hat with a hatband that stands out like a beacon on a stormy night!” Kid pointed out. “The law can pick you out of a crowd at a Sunday social when you're wearing that hat!”

“You should talk!” Heyes countered. “I'm surprised your neck doesn't break with the silver plates you got strapped around your hat! Talk about calling attention! I don't even think that is a legitimate hat band!”

“It adds enough weight to my hat to keep it on my head Heyes! At least it serves a purpose!”

“FINE!” Heyes reluctantly conceded. “We're even on the hat issue! Can we carry on now!? I'm thirsty!”

“Fine!”

Heyes lightly touched Karma's neck with the rein and she pivoted around to continue dancing down the street. She was feeling good and she wasn't about to let the angry tones of the two humans destroy her sparkling mood.
Kid groaned. Heyes heard it and pulling up again, glared back at his partner.

“Now what!?” He demanded.

“I donno Heyes.” Kid shook his head. “You keep saying one thing and doing another.”

Heyes was becoming frustrated. This was getting ridiculous.

“WHAT!?”

“Well....” Kid seemed reluctant, but then sighed and carried on. “I've tried to accept this because I know how much you care about that mare.” Instantly Heyes took on a defensive stance. “But Heyes, she's too damn pretty! How are we supposed to blend in when you're riding a horse like that? She's stands out—more than your hat and your old holster put together!”

Heyes looked sullen and gave his dark chestnut mare a consoling pat on her arched neck.

“Yeah, but that's to our advantage, Kid.” He pointed out in his mare's defence. “Don't ya' see?”

“Our advantage!?” Kid was incredulous. Then he set back in his saddle and rested his hands on the saddle horn. “Okay Heyes, I'm real interested in how you're gonna explain that one.”

“Well....” Heyes looked a little worried for a moment, but then inspiration hit him and he grinned. “Cause people are so taken with what a fine horse Karma is that they're too busy looking at her to be paying much attention to the bloke who's riding her. So she's actually a deterrent to people who might recognize us.”

“Well maybe I oughta just get myself a flashy horse too then!” Kid suggested. “Then we can be twice as invisible!”

“Oh well that would just be silly Kid.” Heyes disagreed. “We can't be twice as invisible if we already are invisible. Too much would be just as bad as none at all.”

Heyes flashed his dimples and then nudged his deterrent to move on and Karma danced and pranced and snorted her way down Main Street. Kid pushed Buck into a trot to catch up and then smirked as he watched men on the boardwalk glancing their way to admire the fine horse.
Then Heyes' argument got blown out of the water when the young ladies accompanying some of the men would follow their man's focus. Since most of them were not too interested in the horse, they would then allow their attention to drift upwards to the handsome man riding her.
Feminine faces would blossom into appreciative smiles and Heyes' grin broadened while he tipped his silver studded hat to each and every one. Curry continued to watch with amusement as the men would suddenly become aware of what their ladies were looking at and the admiring smiles would be replaced by irritated scowls.
Possessive arguments would follow in the wake of the partners' progress through town and pretty soon many of the male citizens were sending menacing glares directly at the man wearing the black studded hat and riding the fiery mare.
Heyes' dimples disappeared and he dropped his head, trying to discretely hide his features under the brim of his hat.

“Maybe to ought to ride on to the next town Kid.”

“Ahh huh.”


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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:19 pm

I have watched season three episodes, and there are some that I have enjoyed (“The Long Chase”, “Bushwack” and “McGuffin”, for example), albeit always wondering how it would have been had Pete been Heyes, but nonetheless there are few that were well written, well acted and well worth watching. This ficlet is born from a scene in “Bushwack”.

Cress: “That was reeeeally somethin’, coulda scared me out.”
Heyes: “You oughta see him when he really gets mad.”

Defensive Position


Kid Curry rubbed his bloodshot blue eyes, wiped his sweaty brow, adjusted his hat to better shield them from the hot, glaring, midday sun and squinted up the slope to either side. He quickly evaluated every large boulder in the rock strewn landscape and slightly shook his head, he didn’t like their situation one bit, but as of yet all he had was the twisted feeling deep in his gut that always heralded impending disaster. And he seemed to be the only one who was uneasy. The dark bay stamped in frustration and Kid loosened the reins and let the gelding spring into a fast trot to catch up with the rest of the Devil’s Hole Gang.

Kyle’s excited, high-pitched voice drifted back, “I’m gonna go into Rock Falls and the first thing I’m gonna do is spend time with Lacey Lucille. Whatcha gonna do with your share, Wheat?”

Wheat snorted as he glanced over at his riding companion, “Better take a detour to the bath house first, Kyle. Me, I’ve got plans, big plans, and they’re startin’ with a bottle of fine sippin’ whiskey."

As Curry passed the bulk of the gang members, most of whom were reliving and retelling their parts of the successful bank robbery thirty-six hours ago. The men, one by one, noted Kid’s tense posture, his set expression and general air of surliness, cautious looks passed between them. Kid’s mood was in sharp contrast to the general feelings of bonhomie among the group and the confident contentment of the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang riding at the front.

“This has got to one of your better plans, Heyes. We got a nice haul, lost the posse in a few hours, just like you thought we would, and after a day of hard riding, even a chance for all of us to catch some shut eye, when not on watch, that is, all except Kid. He kept stalkin’ ‘round, peerin’ out into the darkness like he couldn’t believe there wasn’t no one out there. It’s nice when everythin’ goes according to plan an’ we don’t to have to race back to the hole. Nice plannin’ Heyes,” Preacher genially complimented his leader.

“Yep, it’s a mighty fine job,” agreed Hognose before taking a drink from his canteen.

Heyes smiled benevolently and basked in the feeling of a job well done as he rode along the narrow boulder-strewn valley, his mind already divided between the present situation and potential future plans. After all, he could count on his practical partner to keep a sharp eye out for the unexpected. Sometimes Kid’s worrywart tendencies annoyed him but Heyes really did have to admit that Curry did a good job of watching Heyes’ back and generally keeping him and the gang members alive.

Heyes heard a horse quickly come up on his right side and was not surprised to see his partner’s scowling face. “How about smilin’ a little, you’ll make the men nervous. “ Heyes lowered his voice so only Curry could hear, “Is there a reason to be nervous, Kid?”

“Other than us riding along this valley? You know I hate giving up the advantage of high ground, Heyes.” Kid answered half sarcastic, half serious.

“I know, but we planned to come this way if we lost the posse quick enough. It’s the fastest route to Devil’s Hole, and riding along the ridge we’d be too easy to spot. You agreed.”

“I know I agreed, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. You know how you listen to your intuition and change things on the fly, well, my gut intuition is telling me to get out of here and take the longer way.”

“You see anything, hear anything, know of any concrete reason why? You know… you didn’t get hardly any sleep and you hardly ate, that’s not like you.”

Kid kept pace with Heyes and leaned closer, his blue eyes intense as he interrupted, “That’s what I’ve been trying to say, something’s not right.”

The two men glanced around to see if any of the gang members were paying attention. They generally liked to present a united and confident front, especially during a job. They tried not to talk things out, if they could avoid it, in front of the men. Curry and Heyes, by unspoken mutual agreement, spurred their mounts while studying the landscape immediately ahead. The valley took a sharp turn to the left, following the course of the river to the right, which caused a limited range of sight. Heyes’ brow furrowed as he experienced a sudden chill. He looked accusingly at the man next to him. “Hrummph! “ Curry just nodded his head and hoped he wasn’t raining on everyone’s parade for no reason.

Hognose and Preacher had dropped back and were riding with Kyle, Wheat, Hank and Lobo. Dutch and Quint, the newest member, brought up the rear. All were blissfully unaware of any potential danger and rounded the outcrop that signaled the sharp turn and narrowing of the valley still good-naturedly arguing the relative merits of various vices for them to spend the money on.

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG!

Pandemonium ensued. Horses screeched in panic as men leapt out of saddles and threw themselves behind the nearest boulder big enough to serve as halfway decent cover. Bullets whizzed by, dirt and pebbles flying up as they thudded into the ground, chasing the outlaws into defensive positions. The sound of the horses thundering off down the valley, only stopping when they reached a small corpse of trees at the far end, echoed into the suddenly eerily silent, hot afternoon.
Back to back, sides pressed tightly against granite, Heyes and Kid found themselves behind the same large boulder, brown and blue eyes searching to identify the positions and status of their friends as well as the attackers. Heyes worked to regulate and calm his breathing before inquiring, “Kid, you all right?”

“Yeah, you?” Kid answered tersely back.

Heyes risked a quick glance over his shoulder to reassure himself before continuing, “I’m fine. The gang’s all here and everyone’s upright and relatively protected. They have us pinned down good, though. Any idea of how many we’re facing?”

Kid rose slightly on his haunches and ducked back down as splinters of rock ricocheted around the partners. He blinked and wiped the trickle of blood from a small cut at the corner of his left eye. Both men listened as rapid shots were exchanged between the law and the outlaws.

“Kinda hard to tell…there’s at least one rifle and he’ll cause us the most trouble. A couple of .45’s and I heard a .38 or two. I’m guessing about 10 men about the same number as us. The difference, which I’m sure I don’t have to point out to you, is that they have the advantage of position, horses and the supplies on those horses while we have only what’s on us.” Kid nodded over to his left and muttered curses under his breath. “As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve gotta hand it to Wheat. He managed to grab his shotgun, although he probably doesn’t have many shells on him. None of the rest of us got a hold of our rifles.”

The posse members, who appeared evenly spread out along the top of the ridge, rained another salvo down the slope, cutting off any further conversation as each outlaw concentrated on staying alive amid the deadly hail of lead flying their way.

Preacher’s black hat was riddled with holes as it went flying off backwards. Kid nodded encouragement over to the older man has he huddled behind weathered boulder ten feet away, checking himself over in white-faced disbelief. Hognose, who shared his position, was not so lucky. Preacher grabbed a dirty bandana out of his friend’s shaky, bloodied hands and tightly wrapped it around the man’s right arm. Hognose picked his revolver off the ground with his left hand and proceeded to reload it before resolutely taking aim up slope, steadying the firearm along a notch in the chipped granite.

Heyes paused in his own volley to grimace with determination as he watched Dutch clutch his shoulder and reel backwards to land flat on his back, unprotected by any stone. Lobo and Quint, who were crouched behind the same group of piled smaller rocks, exchanged grim looks. Lobo leaned towards the newest member and shouted in his ear. Both men nodded, Lobo raised up, took a deep breath and started to fire from the opposite side of the pile while Quint grabbed Dutch’s feet and pulled with all his adrenalin-fueled strength, dragging the downed man to safety.

“$#@###*,” Lobo cursed in pain but managed to shout to a watching Heyes, “It’s a graze, I can keep firing, as long as our ammo holds out.”

The standoff continued as minutes, which seemed like hours, dragged on. The Devil’s Hole Gang was not ready to capitulate and the posse was secure in the belief of their eventual victory. After all, the law had God and location on their side as they had the criminals vulnerable and trapped while they could just sit tight and rain destruction down into the small valley. No one would dare assail their superior position.

Kid surveyed the carnage and fumed while Heyes kept up defensive retorts. Heyes and he were untouched, except for minor skin deep wounds. Dutch and Hank were down and out. He couldn’t tell how badly they were hurt, but each man seemed to be still breathing. Hognose, Lobo, and Kyle were actively bleeding and compromised with bandanas hastily wrapped around assorted body parts. Wheat, Preacher and Quint were unharmed and fiercely focused on the task at hand.

“Heyes.”

“Yeah Kid,” Heyes panted back while reaching around his back for more bullets from his dwindling supply.

Kids whistled and proceeded to rapidly perform a series of hand signals when those who could turned their attention to the Devil’s Hole Gang’s lead gunman. Situations like this was when Kid commanded and earned absolute obedience and respect.

“Heyes, you know were sittin’ ducks, right. They have us pinned down while they’re advancing into better positions.”

“I know Kid, but I’m not givin’ up and I’m kinda too busy to think up any brilliant ideas at the moment. Damn it! I know I shoulda listened to your gut.” Heyes’ eyes narrowed even more as he finished reloading and took position to start firing again as soon as Kid dropped down to reload.

“I’m not saying we should give up or that you’re responsible in any way so shut up and listen, will ya!”

Heyes, briefly taken aback by the vehemence in his partner’s voice, paused for a split second and stared at him, speechless.

“If we sit here much longer, there’s only one way this is gonna play out and it’s not the way we want so I’m gonna make a move that they’re not expectin’ while the rest of you are gonna cover me. First that rifleman’s gotta go. The accuracy is too much of a threat, even though he’s not the best shot I’ve ever seen. Good thing too, otherwise I’m not gonna have a chance in hell.” Kid ruefully grinned at his staring leader.

Heyes grinned back in spite of himself. “I’m not gonna like what’s coming next, am I?”

“Nope, but it’s our only chance. I’m headin’ over to the others to explain and gather supplies. Cover me.” Curry yelled as he sprung from Heyes’ side and ran as fast and as low to ground has he could, weaving and dodging to the closest cover.

Heyes’ eyes darted from his intended targets to the side and he exhaled in relief when Kid dived safely next to Preacher. He continued to split his attention, worry deepening the furrow of his sweaty brow.

Kid hastily conferred with Preacher and Hognose while reaching for Hognose’s gun. He checked the load before shoving it into the back of his trousers. Hognose rapidly divided his remaining bullets and handed half to Kid and threw the rest down on the ground next to Preacher. Preacher nodded to Curry and started firing over the top of his boulder, giving Kid some cover fire as Curry crossed the ground to the next group of outlaws.

“Hiya, Kid,” Wheat grunted at Curry, not sparring a glance as he moved slightly over, giving the gunman room to check on a pale Kyle. Kid tightened the bandana on Kyle’s thigh and hastily reinforced the makeshift dressing before grabbing Kyle’s .45 from his trembling hand. He shoved the gun into his waistband next to Hognoses. He then turned to Hank, reaching out to check the pulse in his neck. Kid sighed in relief at finding one and before he could lift the bloody shirt and check the left-sided wound Wheat spoke, “Don’t bother, there’s nothing more you can do but get us out of here. The bullet went through, but it doesn’t look deep. Let him be, for now.”

Curry looked into older outlaw’s eyes and saw controlled panic mixed with blind faith and hope. “I’m trying Wheat. Save your ammo until I move, then let loose fast. Your job is to stay alive and keep me covered, don’t worry ‘bout being a hero. Just shoot for cover unless you have a clear target. Okay.”

“Okay, Kid.”

Curry readied himself for one last dash to the last set of boulders with gang members hunkered down behind. He took a deep breath and burst out into the open to Wheat’s earnest admonishment to be careful.

Just as Kid came barreling into Lobo Quint grabbed the side of his head and collapsed over Dutch’s still form, blood running down the side of his face. Kid and Lobo looked behind them, red fury infusing their faces. Curry collected the last of the unused revolvers, checked the loads of each, filled his gun belt with bullets stripped from the downed men’s and shoved a handful into his pocket. Lobo whispered, “Go get them Kid.”

Curry, with a revolver in each hand and three more stuck in the back of his pants, crouched determinedly, picking out his preferred route of attack. The slope was steep but not impossible and there were enough large banks and boulders to provide reloading stops on the way to the top, if he made it that far. Taking a deep breath with his eye and right arm taking aim at the rifleman’s position, Kid made his charge.

Heyes, Wheat. Lobo and Preacher held their collective breaths while shooting as fast as they could, not even bothering to aim unless it was away from Curry darting up the slope. They watched in fascination as overconfident lawmen were picked off, wounded one by one by Kid effectively shooting on the run with both hands, dropping one or two of the revolvers when empty on the way.

The rifleman dropped his rifle in pain, grabbing his right shoulder and scrambled up the slope to the backside of the ridge. A man upslope was yelling undecipherable words as he dragged his hit companion further away from the charging deranged gunman.

Kid threw himself behind a bank of dirt, amazed that he was still in one piece and reloaded his various remaing guns. Rolling quickly left he managed to graze another posse member before retreating back behind his cover, panting from the exertion.

Panicked disbelief prevailed up above. Voices mingled into the cacophony of firearms discharging.

“Henry, half of us are wounded, bleeding. We didn’t sign up for this. I’m getting out of here.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’m gonna stick around waiting for Kid Curry to get up here. He’s better than I’ve heard.”

“No rewards worth my life, Henry. It may be your job but it’s not mine.”

“He’s only one man and he’s right down there only about fifteen feet away. We can get him.” Henry, the sheriff, pleaded to his disappearing posse.

“You get him, fifteen feet’s too close and he’s hit everything he aimed at, while running. I’m outta here.”

Curry rearmed and fully reloaded charged again only this time the defensive position was assumed by the retreating bloodied posee. The sheriff fired the last shots at the Kid, missing by only inches, but unwilling to stand alone, before mounting his horse and galloping away.

Curry aimed his last chambered rounds into the air while he caught his breath.

Devil’s Hole Gang members, those who were the walking wounded and those who remained intact, came out from behind their makeshift shelters and gave silent thanks for the courage and skill of the man silhouetted against the late afternoon sky at the top of the ridge. Quint, Dutch and Hank stirred and strained to make sense of the silence and their situations.

Wheat called over to Heyes, “I’ve never seen Kid do anything like that before. Hell, that was really scary and I was behind him.”

Heyes’ gaze remained fixed on the figure above as he answered, “Yeah, don’t ever get him really mad, he loses his mind.”

Kid Curry holstered his weapon, shoved the others back into his waistband and watched the law ride into the distance before turning and wearily making his way back down to his friends. The Devil’s Hole Gang survived to ride another day.

Yeah, I know it’s kind of an abrupt ending but I ran out of words and it’s getting almost to the deadline.
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:09 pm

Defensive Position

The sun brilliantly shone on a parched, undulating landscape, its tannish expanse broken only by occasional grey vegetation. The verdancy of a lone tree lent a touch of color to an otherwise monochrome range, stretching to an azure horizon. A few tumbleweeds drifted at their leisure, as unconcerned by orientation or timing as the currents pushing them about.

Such could not be said for the stage bumping along a rutted path. Its direction true at south-southwest, the team of six seemingly flew over pits and grooves, traversing a road that was no stranger to iron rims and shod hooves.

Brown eyes scanned the sights, or lack of them. Barely jolted by the ride, the man held his seat as if a saddle, rolling with the motion, constant though it might be. Arms crossed, he flinched not as his traveling companion’s head settled on his shoulder, merely glancing and chuckling softly before turning his attention once more to the monotony of the passing scene.

“Your friend sleeps very soundly!”

His reverie broken, Hannibal Heyes started slightly, as if woken from a daydream. He regarded the passenger opposite. “Hmm?”

“Oh, I was just noting how your friend can sleep through this!”

Heyes nodded knowingly.

Kid Curry stirred. Yawning, he sleepily opened his eyes, glancing out the window, then at his partner. Sharing twin brief, acknowledging smiles, the pair resumed their previous positions – Heyes to the window; Kid shifting to the other side, pulling his hat over his eyes, and asleep once more.

“Where ya headed?! You two got on so last minute I thought I’d be the only one aboard!” The voice tried to be heard above the rush.

Heyes returned his gaze to the man. Mindful of his sleeping partner, he uncrossed his arms, leaning forward to better be heard, and answered in a lower tone, “We didn’t think we’d make it, either. We’re headed to San Francisco, but right now the next way station will do just fine.”

“Indeed! A respite from this conveyance is in order!”

Heyes leaned further into the man’s comfort zone. “No need to yell. I can hear you just fine.” He jerked his head in Kid’s direction. “Besides, I’d rather not disturb my partner. He was a bit cranky before we boarded.”

The man sat straighter, as if rebuked. Tense and tall against the bench, he spoke sternly, “Well…”

“No harm done.”

His demeanor softening, the man nodded agreeably. “Later.”

“Thank you.” Heyes smiled, melting back against his own uncomfortable seat. Pulling his battered hat forward, he closed his eyes and tried to emulate his partner.

The afternoon passed, slowly. Shadows marched from north to west. Hills before in the distance now loomed ahead. Slightly cooler temperatures signalled a rise in elevation.

No sooner had the stage pulled into the yard of the way station, Heyes and Kid exited. Stretching long and yawning mightily, they walked a short distance from the coach.

“It’s painful to sit this long. I’m gettin’ too old for this.”

Heyes chuckled. “Well, I’m older than you, so...But, yeah, this’ll wear ya down fast.”

Kid dusted his hat against his thigh. “Especially a ride like this one.”

“Pardon me for intruding, but I couldn’t help but overhear. It didn’t seem to bother either of you too much, not really.”

The boys looked up to see their fellow passenger. Dressed in a brown suit and bowler, he appeared at once by sight and demeanor a drummer – but for the holster, even if it was not tied down.

The man extended his hand. “Gentlemen, allow me to re-introduce myself; we really didn’t talk that much. Josiah Hanson. And if memory serves, you two are Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones?”

“That’s right. Mr. Hanson.” Both shook his hand in turn.

Kid noted Hanson’s gun belt. “That’s a nice rig ya got there. Didn’t notice it back in Soda Springs.”

“Ah, Mr….Smith?”

Heyes interjected, “I’m Smith, he’s Jones.”

Hanson continued, regarding Kid closely. “Mr. Jones. Thank you. I go nowhere without my gunbelt, much as I hate to admit it’s needed sometimes, even if I’m not that good a shot.”

Kid squinted. “Pretty fancy belt for someone who says he doesn’t shoot good. Somebody might get the wrong idea.”

The man smiled sheepishly. “Perhaps, but I’ve not had any trouble. Fact is I hardly ever wear it. I put it on just now. Had a feeling I might need it.”

Brows furrowed, the partners glanced at each other.

Heyes spoke, “Why now?”

Hanson winked. “Just never know who you might come upon in these parts. Always helps to be prepared. You gentlemen certainly seem of the same mind.”

Two ex-outlaws took in their own tied-down holsters. Kid gave Heyes a lopsided grin.

The dark-haired man regarded his fellow passenger. “Indeed, Mr. Hanson, we do agree!” A beat. “And now that we’ve stretched our legs, how about some dinner?”

Hanson grinned. “That, Mr. Smith, sounds wonderful!”

***

The trio sat at the table in the station, alternately sipping mugs of hot coffee while making small talk.

Hanson regarded the partners. “Well, gentlemen, seems I’ve done all the talking. Not that my journeys to broaden my company’s business are anything of great consequence. What line of work are you two in, and what happenstance finds you on this particular journey, and in such a rush to catch the stage?”

With a bemused look, Kid Curry silently let his partner know the silver tongue could take the lead.

Heyes took a moment to answer. “Well, Mr. Hanson, we’re basically between jobs at the moment. An acquaintance of ours in San Francisco might have a job for us.”

“That’s all?”

The dark-haired ex-outlaw nodded. “I’m afraid ours are of no consequence, either.”

Hanson rubbed his chin. “Hmm, I see. But what is your line of work, when you’re employed, that is?”

Kid grinned. “That’s an easy one, Mr. Hanson. Just about anything, as long as it’s not too hard on the back.”

The partners glanced at each other, before Heyes faced Hanson again.

“My partner’s right, there. We’re pretty flexible as to what we do, most of the time, anyway.”

Hanson’s hazel eyes rested on the men opposite him at the table. “Why the need to jump on the stage at the last possible second?”

Heyes exhaled. The interrogation was getting old. “Mr. Hanson, if you really need to know, it was just one of those mornings. My partner’s horse threw a shoe, and he had to walk the last mile into town while I rode ahead and arranged to sell our gear with the livery. And the liveryman drove a hard bargain and didn’t want to take my word as to Mr. Jones’s horse. Then, he told us the stage was leaving directly, so we literally ran over, purchased our tickets, and hopped on the stage – as you know, just as it was pulling out. I’m afraid you saw us not at our best – tired and somewhat the worse for wear – not to mention cheated out of the value of our horses and gear. So, I’m sorry if our late arrival upset you in any way. I’m afraid it couldn’t be helped.”

Hanson shifted his eyes between the pair. His tone was not as lighthearted as the conversation to that point. “No harm done on the timing of your arrival on the stage, Mr. Smith. It is a public conveyance, and there wasn’t another leaving to connect to San Francisco for several days. Traveling so much, I know the schedules well. On the other hand, and to be frank, gentlemen, it sounds as if you’re basically drifters, and from the way you wear your gunbelts – low and quite at the ready – I’d bet you wouldn’t hesitate to use them if you had to.”

Kid answered, “Just like you said, Mr. Hanson, you feel a gun is needed sometimes. Same for us.”

Hanson acknowledged, “Yes, I do feel that way, Mr. Jones.”

The door opened, and Virgil Johnson, the stationmaster, and Jigger Howe, the driver, walked in. Johnson spoke, “We’ve switched teams, and y’all set to go, although I suppose y’all be wantin’ some victuals first. I’ll see what I can rustle up.”

The partners spoke in unison, “Thanks.”

They froze as a trigger cocked behind them.

“Okay, gents, table manners. We don’t fancy guns at the table while’s we’re eatin’. So, slip those fancy pistols out of your holsters with two fingers, and real easy-like. Then nobody gets hurt.”

Hanson likewise pulled his sidearm and pointed it in the partners’ direction.

Brown and blue eyes met with brief sideways glances.

Heyes spoke, “Now, what’s got into you gentlemen? This isn’t very hospitable.”

Howe’s tone was insistent. “Your guns.”

Virgil Johnson pulled a rifle from a rack on the wall. “I would listen to the man.”

Without another word, Heyes and Kid slowly dropped their right hands to their guns and pulled them out as instructed. A fourth man appeared from a side room, also with a rifle, and grabbed each of their pistols in turn.

“Would someone please tell us what’s going on?”

Hanson appeared annoyed. “Nothing is ‘going on,’ Mr. Smith. Whether or not I believe your story is one thing; the fact that we can’t take chances with two drifters appearing out of nowhere is another. We can’t take you prisoner here, so you’ll continue on with us, but unarmed and under guard. And if you try anything, anything at all, you’ll be tied up and gagged. Is that clear?”

The duo’s eyes met yet again. Both nodded.

Hanson stood, re-holstering his pistol. “Good. I’m glad you understand. Can’t take any chances. Now, each of you, one at a time, stand against that wall so Brent here can make sure you’re not carrying anything else on you.”

***

The search done and meals eaten, five men filled the stage when it left a while later. They traveled by the illumination of a full moon, its brilliance lighting the way along a much smoother course. Heyes and Kid sat on the rear-facing bench, with Hanson and Brent opposite, guns drawn, and holsters tied down as low and tight as the ex-outlaws’. As well, Jigger, the driver, had taken his own turn on guard duty at the way station.

A cocked trigger silenced Heyes after subsequent attempts to elicit information, and he and Kid now sat silently, although each did his best to stare down his opponent opposite. They eventually gave up, partially due to tiredness, and the unflinchingness of Hanson and Brent.

After an hour, the coach stopped. Heyes and Kid woke from their nodding off and heard muffled voices. Try as they might, they could not make out what was said.

Finally, some minutes later, the door opened. A dark-haired, non-descript-looking fellow with a badge attached to his shirt appeared. “Okay Brent, I’ll take it from here. You ride shotgun.”

“Thanks, Sheriff. I could use the change of scene.” Brent re-holstered his sidearm and exited the stage.

The sheriff exchanged greetings with Hanson as he took his seat. “So these’re the two? Virgil rode hell-bent to leather to tell me.”

“Yup, Sheriff, these are the two.”

The sheriff faced the partners. “I’m surprised you’re not tied up after what I’ve heard about ya. Maybe we should take care of that right now.” He produced a couple of leather thongs and tied each pair of ex-outlaw wrists under the protective gaze of Josiah Hanson’s gun. When finished, he sat back, self-satisfied. “Well, you boys sure ain’t going nowheres. Let’s all sit back and have a nice, friendly ride now, shall we?”

Heyes spoke, a hopeful tone to his voice. “Sheriff? Can I ask why two honest, law-abiding citizens are being subjected to this kind of treatment? We haven’t done anything wrong. Matter of fact, we’re on our way to San Francisco to see about a job. Wire our friend there, Mr. O’Sullivan, and he’ll be happy to back us up. We have nothing to hide. I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding.”

Kid added, “A ‘real’ misunderstandin’.”

Heyes continued, sounding more confident. “Will you do that, please, sheriff? It’s only fair that we get a chance to defend ourselves. We’ll just go on our way and no hard feelings.”

Kid, again, “Nope, none.”

The sheriff sat stone-faced, his eyes following each speaker in turn. He raised a hand, quieting Heyes as he was about to speak again. “Smith and Jones, hmm? You couldn’t come up with anything better than that?”

Heyes’ visage exuded surprise. “Why, Sheriff, plenty of people in the world named Smith and Jones!”

The Sheriff ignored the ex-outlaw leader. He stared straight at Heyes as he asked, “Hanson, are they always this annoying?”

The drummer chuckled.

“But, Sheriff, how are honest, hard-working men supposed to feel when they’re trussed up and waylaid from their travels for no reason.”

The lawman regarded Heyes. He spoke, dryly, “No reason? Ha! That’s a good one, Mr. Smith.”

The silver tongue grew serious. “With all due respect, Sheriff, why are we being treated this way?”

Hanson rolled his eyes.

The lawman looked Heyes in the eye. “Mr. Smith. There are reports of gang activity in the territory, with descriptions that happen to match you two. Not to mention reports of some notorious outlaws being sighted recently – some say Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Devil’s Hole Gang’s in the area, although it’s a far piece from their usual haunts. Put it all together, and it adds up to you two. I’m not taking any chances.”

Kid could keep silent no longer. “Sheriff, that’s it? Sounds like you’re arrestin’ us for nothin’.”

The sheriff shifted his focus to Kid. “I assure you, Mr. Jones, I’ll send the wire to your friend just as soon as I can, after getting assurances as well from the authorities in San Francisco that your Mr. O’Sullivan is on the up-and-up, just in case he’s in on it with the two of you.”

Kid leaned forward, trying to gesticulate in disbelief, only to be stopped frustratedly in mid-motion by his bindings. His tone matched. “In on what?!”

In a quick second, Hanson raised his gun, and the sheriff reached for his and drew. Heyes threw his shoulder in front of his partner’s and leaned against him

Heyes swung his head around, glaring at his partner.

Kid belligerently met his gaze, then shrugged and nodded. Sinking back against the bench, he sighed and looked out the window.

Heyes resumed his previous posture. It was going to be a long ride.
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 12 - Defensive Position   Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:50 pm


(I finally remembered to get started early enough to get an entry in. YAY! sunny reading writing


Defensive Position
By Shenango

“She put it in the hotel safe that one time,” Kid Curry told his partner, “And you got it out and burned it in the stage, remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” Hannibal Heyes answered him. “And that’s when she told us there was another picture in a safe in Denver, remember?”

“Yes, Heyes, I do. I also know that we’ve gone straight and we don’t break into banks any more, but we have to get that picture away from Clem.”

“I know, Kid, I know. Even if she promised us not to use it against us or show it to anyone, she’s engaged to be married. We gotta figure that her new husband-to-be is going to want to see the contents of her safe deposit box.”

Curry poured two more drinks and handed one to his partner. “Do you know anything about this man? Who is Roderick MacLeod anyway?”

“Well, what I’ve been able to find out so far is that he’s made his fortune in his hotel. He’s used to having people trust him and the hotel with their most prized belongings and he’s used to getting his way.”

“So what do we do, partner? Have you come up with a good old Hannibal Heyes plan yet?”

“I’m working on it, Kid. I think we’re going to have to get the picture from the bank while he and Clem are busy. If we invite them out to dinner to celebrate the engagement, we both stay with them. We can mention that we need to put some valuables into the bank in the same kind of box and get the name of the bank from Roderick. We can let Clem know that if he trusts the bank, we want to check it out.”

“You know,” the Kid said, “That Clem is going to be suspicious of us wanting to put something in a bank.”

Heyes nodded, putting down his drink. “Yeah, Kid, I know. But she knows that we usually win big at poker and having some winnings to put away for safe keeping won’t be that big a stretch. We’re just going to have to make it real believable.”

“How?”

“I figure we can have a discussion about using a bank in front of Clem, while she’s alone. If we argue about it, but finally decide it’s the right move so we don’t get caught with a bankroll on us, it’ll be more believable.”

The next day, Heyes and the Kid met up with Clem for a lunch they had planned. Curry arrived and got a table, waiting for both Heyes and Clem. Clem joined him, followed a few minutes later by Heyes. The Kid started by asking Heyes how their winnings were from that high-stakes game he played the night before. Heyes told him that there was over a thousand dollars – more than either of them had expected. Ordering a bottle of wine to celebrate with lunch, they proceeded to have the planned discussion. Using caution with Clem in the conversation, they proceeded to get the name of the bank. The conversation turned to her fiancé, and their pending amnesty. Having received a promise from her that their identities would remain secret until the amnesty was granted, they agreed to meet her beloved Roderick at the engagement party two days away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That afternoon, Heyes and Curry walked into the Miner’s and Merchant’s Bank of Denver. Introducing themselves as Smith and Jones, long time friends of Miss Hale, they met with the Mr. Jensen, the manager about the bank’s services. As far as casing the bank was concerned, Heyes was very pleased by the tour they received. They left, promising to bring back some of their valuables to be put in a safe box the next day.

Back in the hotel room, they did as they had done numerous times before: planned the best way to rob a bank. A short time later, they returned to the bank, again asking to meet with the manager. In his office, Heyes produced an envelope, containing a stack of newspaper pages cut to look like it was full of money.

“Are you gentlemen sure you wouldn’t like to open an account?” Jensen asked. “Our bank is very safe, I can assure you. We’ve never been robbed, not in the fifteen years we’ve been open. It’s a record I’m very proud to share with new customers.”

“Thanks for the offer, but we’re probably going to be needing it when we leave town in a few days,” the Kid answered.

“In that case, I’ll need you to sign our ledger for the box rental.” Pulling a book out of his desk drawer, he opened it to register their names. As he pointed to a line at the bottom of the page, Heyes looked it over. Quickly finding Clem’s name and the box number, he signed at the bottom.

They proceeded into the locked room where the safe deposit boxes were and waited as Jensen found the box number he was going to assign to them. As he did so, Curry watched Jensen while Heyes scanned the room for Clem’s box. As Jensen laid a lock box on the table in the room, Curry spoke up.

“Mr. Jensen, I wonder if you can give my partner and me a few minutes to talk about something.”

Heyes looked at Curry, “Now, Thaddeus, I thought we discussed this at the hotel.”

“We did, Joshua, and I know we decided to do this; I just want to talk for a minute.”

Heyes looked at Jensen, “A minute, if you please, Mr. Jensen?”

Jensen stepped out of the room, closing the door behind him. As he did so, Curry walked to the door, leaning on it and started to talk for the sake of appearances. He kept up a running monologue for the few minutes it took Heyes to find the photo and remove it. As he did, he placed a duplicate envelope inside, with a note they had both signed.

“Dear Clem,
We wish you all the best in married life. As a wedding gift, we thought we would relieve you of the burden of keeping this secret any more. We wish you a long and happy married life.
HH and KC”

Only a few minutes had passed until he replaced the box, and joined the Kid in the one-sided conversation. When he had finished, they opened the door.

“Mr. Jensen,” Heyes said, “I’m sorry but my partner, Mr. Jones brought up a contingency that we hadn’t considered before. We want to thank you but we have decided not to use your services.”

“Yeah,” the Kid added, “We will be leaving town after the wedding this weekend and probably won’t have time to come back. I guess we’ll have to be satisfied with using the hotel safe. Apologize for taking your time, sir.”

Shaking his head, Jensen put everything away in the room and escorted Smith and Jones out. When they were back in his office, they made their excuses, and then made their exit.

Back in the hotel, they lit the stove in their room. Heyes pulled out the picture from the envelope and looked at it. “Too bad about this, Kid, we do take a nice picture.”

“Yeah, Heyes, we do, but it’s too dangerous to not get rid of. Besides, we’re only thinking about our own safety.”

“I know, Kid, I know.”

“So what about this, Heyes: after we get the amnesty, we come back to Denver and get another picture taken with Clem?”

Heyes looked at him, then took another glance at the photo. “I hope Clem won’t be too mad,” and with that, tossed it into the flames.

Pouring two glasses from the bottle of whiskey they had, Curry handed one to Heyes. “I’ll drink to that, Heyes.”





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PostSubject: Defensive Position   Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:35 am

Defensive Position at the Last Drop


The sun shone down bright and beautiful and the birds were singing fit to outdo a big city symphony. Overall, it was a day so perfect it simply made a person glad to be alive. Riding along, Hannibal Heyes smiled, pulling a cigar from his inside vest pocket, inhaling deeply of its rich aroma he thought, ‘ah what the hell.’ Lighting it he released smoke in regular intervals like his own streaming banner as he rode along enjoying the sheer luxury of being out on such a stunning day, smoking good tobacco and not having a care in the world. Coming around a bend, he could see the varied colored roofs of one of the many little towns that happened to be in riding distance of the Devil’s Hole. Knowing he was nearing home and his reconnaissance journey for Big Jim was nearly over, he grinned even larger feeling if possible even happier on this glorious day when about half a mile out of town he felt a distinct shift in his horse’s steady gait.

Frowning he slid from the saddle, “Easy boy.” He said running a hand down his horses legs, “Let me take a look.” As he did, it did not take long for him to find the shoe of the left near hoof was preparing to let go. “Looks like we will both be limping into town.” His horse shoved his head against Heyes knocking him to the side. “Hey I’m serious, you know how much I loathe walking.”

Walking down Main Street, Heyes did feel like limping and was also thinking Big Jim might be correct about wearing flat-heeled boots of soft leather rather than the fancy, high-heeled boots Heyes was currently grimacing down at. Spying the livery stable, he swung over to the hitching post, swinging his reins once around the rail, he called, “Hello?” There was no answer. With frown, he looked up and down the quiet street, “Is everyone on siesta?” he mumbled his eyes taking in the sign of the Last Drop saloon just next door. Patting his gelding, he said, “Hang on Buck, I’ll see if I can’t find us some help.”

As he approached, the shotgun shack he thought it appeared to be living up to its name on many levels. Tugging his hat low and adjusting his belt, so his gun hung in the correct position, Heyes stepped through the doors. Seeing only the barkeep and one other man at the bar, he heaved a sigh of relief. For although, he knew he could take care of himself, he also found the closer he got to the Hole it seemed the more he was recognized and with the bounty on his name growing faster than a wheat harvest – well he just felt a dash nervous being on his lonesome and all. Walking up to the two men, he smiled at the gent nearest him as he had the look of a blacksmith from his muscle packed arms to the leather apron hanging free about his neck. “Why Sir you are exactly the man I need.”

The Smith turned a questioning eye to Heyes and took a long draw from his beer mug.

“My horse is in need of some shoe repair.”

“Then I see how I could be the man you require, for five dollars, that is.”

“Five.” Heyes took a half step back. “Why that is highway robbery!”

The Smith took another drink, “For five, I’ll have you fixed up right quick but for two, I’ll get around to your hoss sometime today. It’s up to you.”

While they were discussing this, a saloon gal well past any sort of prime ambled out and seeing her Heyes said, “When you put it that way, five sounds just fine.”

Setting down his empty mug, the Smith grinned flashing a shiny gold molar, “I’ll get to it then. Hang out here and I’ll whistle for you when I’m done.”

Heyes nodded and sidling about the scantily clad woman, he thought, she looks old enough to be my aunt and a shudder ran the length of his spine. Turning his back to her, he said. “I’ll take a beer.”

“Warm or Cold?”

His brows furrowed and before he could ask the barkeep pointed at a sign, ‘Cold Beer .10 – Warm Beer ½ off’

“Cold.” He replied sitting down at the bar. Sipping at the beer, watching the door from the corner of his eye, he saw five men come strutting in.

“Hey Ray, who owns that flashy paint with the silver mex saddle?”

All eyes turned to Heyes and he felt his stomach drop out. Placing a dime on the bar, he smiled blandly at the barkeep thinking it might be best to get back to the livery. Just when he thought, he was in the clear the biggest one of the five, who also had his arm now draped about the saloon gal said, “Hey boy! Ain’t you got any manners, you remove your hat in the presence of a lady.”

‘Lady my white backside.’ Heyes thought flicking forth a dimpled grin and whipping his hat off but even as he did, the group of them began laughing. He knew in that moment, he had better think of something and real quick because one against five was going to make for a short painful fight. Before he could think it through, he reached out kicking the leader of the group right in the knee and snatching up a chair, jumped back taking on a defensive position. “Watch it gents! He’s bodaciously dangerous.”

The other four and the saloon gal, who he now realized were close to being staggering drunk, stumbled back unable to decide if they should watch Heyes or the giant bear of man cursing and rolling on the floor.

“Y’all this here man is a undercover agent. He’s been sent to our neck of the woods to rile up a range war.”

The big man was still grasping his knee and his pals were inching closer keen to listen to what Heyes had to say.

One of them even muttered, “Range war.” like a lost phrase to no one in particular.

“Yes Siree. This here man.” Heyes pointed dramatically at the wounded bear trying to put weight on the damaged knee. “He’s good friends with them sheep loving, soil tilling, non-cattle raising folks you’ve heard of. I bet he eve carries a farmer’s almanac in his saddle bags. Hell would you believe this snake in the grass has gone as far as to not only carry but also operate a running iron?” While talking up a storm and laying it on with country vernacular as thick as Oklahoma clay, Heyes kept edging toward the door thinking, he might be home free especially since every eye in the place was focused on the man he had just kicked.

When the man crawled to his feet, his face a flush with pain or maybe anger or perhaps both as he bellowed, “You idgits! You know he’s lying. I own a cattle spread and you two have known me all your lives. Hell, I can’t even read…why would I carry around an almanac?”

Seeing the door within range, Heyes thought he might still make it out alive when he heard the limping man start on about his tied down gun and costly silver-trimmed hat, knowing his borrowed luck was all used up, he bolted. By the time he was leaping from the boardwalk, he saw the Smith was dropping his horse’s rear hoof and slipping his hammer back in the apron pocket. Never slowing down, Heyes pulled out a five and tossing it to the Smith, he never felt the stirrup beneath his boot as he leapt in the saddle.
Spinning the paint, the horse took off as if he was scalded but passing by that crowed rolling out into the street from the Last Drop, a wicked grin twisted up on Heyes’ face. Even though he knew, he should stay pointed for the hills he went right ahead and pulled his gelding about. Before he knew it, the pair of them were weaving through that bunch, hissing, spinning and throwing a ton of dust in the air. Heyes laughter rolled out loud and clear when he saw how he and Buck had them all skipping and jumping like they was trying to avoid a nest of rattlers. When he figured, he had better clear out before they came to their senses and started slapping leather. So aiming Buck out of town, Heyes laid his heels down and that paint took off as if a bullet had creased its hide, throwing gravel and getting down to the business of running.

Once they were navigating one of the many roads up to the Hole, Heyes pulled the paint up and looking behind him, he tipped his hat back grinning. “Hell maybe Big Jim is right, paints and silver draw too much attention.” He patted his horse, taking an admiring look at his silver studded saddle. “Yep, too much attention might be time to trade down.” Throwing one more look over his shoulder, he found he could barely see the town anymore, “and perhaps re-route my trip home in the future to avoid that particular little burg.”


***running iron (plural running irons) : A branding iron which is not bent into the shape of the mark but rather requires the user to write the desired brand (but allows writing any brand).


I also need to give a nod to the great songwriter Charlie Daniels.  You ever go to bed with a song in your head. Well, I did and it re-wrapped or mayhaps re-wrote itself into this quick little story. Thanks for the blatant muse here Mr. Daniels.

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