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 Jan 2013 - Bounty

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Calico

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

PostSubject: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:12 am

Hello again.

Ready for your very first challenge of 2013??

Of course you are! The boys - now they have doused their hangovers under the pump shower - tell me you are all champing at the bit to turn out those stories!!

In fact, some of you had brand new pencil sharpeners from Father Christmas and can't wait to blunt them in a good cause.

So...

Your very first challenge is...

To make me a huge mug of tea and bring in a slice of cake.

Oh, sorry - that's someone else's first challenge!!!

YOUR very first challenge is ....

"Bounty"

[Aha, you all think - at least two meanings! Three if you count the confectionary 'Taste of Paradise'!!]

Let the ex-outlaws in peril placement commence!!! writing writing writing


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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:08 pm

Bounty

Hannibal Heyes watched as the safe plummeted from high above, bouncing twice off the rocks before it quickly sank to the depths of a frigid mountain lake.

In his mind's eye, he saw his life, his career, bashing against the rocks, plunging to the depths. Sinking like a rock.

"Heyes?" The Kid sat, quietly fingering some worthless scrap of paper.

Behind them, members of the Devil's Hole Gang, a band of the most successful outlaws in the history of the West, grumbled.

"Leader, HA!" Wheat groused. "I'd make a better leader than either one of 'em, with both hands tied behind my back!"

"Heyes, what's amnesty?"

Something in the Kid's tone sent Heyes back...

***

"Bet I can beat ya!"

Jed Curry, not one to back down from any dare, stood his ground and assumed a relaxed stance, in silent acceptance of the challenge.

Hannibal Heyes ran his tongue over his lower lip in preparation for verbal warfare. "First one to the fort gets his pick. On the count of three. One, two..." he took off like a shot. "Three!"

Quick as lightning, Jed responded, overtaking the older boy within seconds.

Ten minutes later, Jed arrived at the base of a sprawling oak, the home of the fort built by both boys the previous summer. Leaning an arm against its rough bark, he caught his breath.

Twenty seconds after that, Hannibal Heyes arrived at base of the same oak, sprawling into the grass, panting. "When'd you...get to...be so...fast?"

Jed shrugged. "Comes natural. Guess you get to be Cap'n Bligh. Which makes me Fletcher Christian."

"Sure you don't... wanna be...cap'n this time?"

"Me? I got no desire to lead a band of misfit sailors."

"But that's what...Fletcher Christian does, Jed." He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, pausing to recover from his run. "He leads the band of misfit sailors in a mutiny against their cap'n."

"Heyes, what's a mutiny?"

***

"Remember when we were kids?" Curry began again. "Remember playin' sailors in that big ol' oak?"

"Funny you should mention that, Kid."

"Well, I been thinkin'." He gestured toward Wheat and the other members of the Devil's Hole Gang. "I'm thinkin' we're 'bout to have us a mutiny. An' ol' Wheat there, he's playin' the part of Fletcher Christian this time."

Heyes sighed and ran across his face. He nodded, wearily.

"And you know who that makes us."

"Yeah," Heyes muttered. "Captain Bligh."

"So I been thinkin'. If this amnesty thing is what I think it is, maybe it's time you and me jumped ship, 'fore Wheat and the boys make us walk the plank."

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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:24 pm

The town of El Dego, New Mexico sat as a welcomed beacon in the dusty desert landscape. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry had been riding for what seemed like a month when they steered their horses onto the main street of the town.

"Heyes, you ever think about us being stuck in a rut?"

"What?"

"You know, we ride into some dusty town, look for a job, go to the saloon, leave before someone recognizes us...same old, same old..."

"Well, what exactly do you expect us to do? We can't very well dress up and go to the theatre."

"I know that!"

"You mean you're getting tired of running from bounty hunters, working menial jobs for a few dollars?"

"You don't have to get sarcastic Heyes. Just forget I said anything."

Heyes surpressed a small laugh. They rode by the sheriff's office nonchalantly.

"Hmm, Sheriff Perry. Wonderful. We don't know him!" Heyes said.

They turned towards the livery stable. There was an old man sleeping outside the door.

"Howdy," Heyes said a little too loudly waking the man.

"Gal-durn it! Scare a body to death why don't you!" the old man exclaimed jumping up and slamming his hat on his head.

"Sorry. You the livery man?"

"Yeah, that's me."

Heyes and Kid dismounted, handing the reins to the man. "Here you go. Feed and water them please."

"I'll take care of them." The old man opened the livery door and led the horses in. Heyes and Kid started walking towards the saloon.

"I'm about parched," Heyes said going through the bat wing doors. They walked up to the bar and ordered two beers. Then they went to a back table facing the door and sat down. They had only drank about half the alcohol when another patron came in the saloon doors. He was a young looking lad, who walked up to the bar and rather loudly ordered a whiskey. Heyes and Kid noticed he wore his gun tied down. Another one of the barflies, who had had a little too much to drink, stumbled into the young man on his way out the door. He immediately drew his gun.

"You lookin' fer trouble mister?" he snarled.

The drunk righted himself, looking scared to death. "No sir Mr. Bonney. IIIII'm shorry. Please don't kill me."

Mr. Bonney looked the man up and down, then let out with a raucous laugh. "Get outta here old man. I got better things to shoot than you." He reholstered his six-shooter and turned back to his whiskey. "Give me another," he ordered the bartender.

Heyes had been watching the exchange at the bar. "Bonney, where do we know that name from?"

Kid studied Bonney at the bar. Realization then hit him. "Bonney...Heyes, you reckon that's Billy the Kid?"

Heyes returned his gaze at the man. "Billy the Kid? You know, you may be right. He is supposed to be around these parts. He looks young enough to be him."

From the bar, Bonney noticed the two at the back table staring at him. He picked up his whiskey glass and walked back to where they were seated. "What are you two lookin' at?" he asked.

"A young man drinking," Heyes deadpanned.

"Well, ain't you just the smart one," Bonney laughed. His expression turned serious. I don't like smart alecs. What's your name mister? I like to know a man's name before I put a hole in him."

Heyes smiled at Bonney. "Joshua Smith and this my partner Thaddeus Jones. And you are...?"

Bonney looked dumbfounded. "You don't know who I am? Where you been? Under a rock? I'm Billy...Billy the Kid."

"Well, pleased to meet you Mr...uh...Kid."

"Pleased to meet you too." He drew his gun and leveled it at Heyes. "Now, git up. Me and you gonna see who the faster man is."

"Now there's no need for that," Heyes replied.

"Yes there is, now GIT UP."

The commotion in the back had caught the attention of the whole saloon.

"Can't we talk about this?"

"My gun does my talkin'. Are you gittin' up or not?"

"Mr. Bonney, I think you should put your gun away," Kid intervened.

"And why's that?"

"Because I got my .45 pointed at you under the table."

Bonney considered this new information. "So, you want to be the one to draw instead of him?"

"I never said that. Now just put your gun down and we can discuss this like men."

"There ain't nothin' to discuss. I've decided to let your friend alone. I'm callin' you out for interruptin' me. Now git up and git out on that street."

Kid gave Bonney a steely-eyed stare that would've made the devil run for cover. Bonney stared back and smiled at him.

"Thaddeus, don't do this."

"Joshua, he called me out, you heard him." Kid slowly started to get to his feet. Heyes grabbed his arm.

"Thaddeus, DON'T."

"Better listen to your partner there. I'd hate to kill a man before lunch."

Kid's stare never wavered. "Let go Joshua."

Heyes had no choice but to let go. Once Kid had his mind made up, it was almost impossible to change it. Bonney gave a laugh and made a show out of walking out of the saloon. "I'll be back in a minute Sam. Have me a whiskey waitin'!"

Kid followed Bonney out into the street. They stood facing each other. Just then, Sheriff Perry walked out of his office and saw the standoff. He immediately recognized Bonney and sent his deputy to the telegraph office.

"Boys, what are you up to?" Perry asked from across the street.

"Why nothin' Sheriff," Bonnie said, never taking his eyes off Kid. "We's just gonna see who the fastest is here."

The two stood staring, one outlaw against one ex-outlaw. Kid's eyes blazed like blue fire. His hand rested on his gunbelt near his Colt, his face expressionless. Bonney was smiling with his hand hanging loosely next to his six-shooter.

"Any last words?" Bonney yelled.

Kid never answered. Bonney waited a few more seconds. Heyes watched with trepidation. Word was that Bonney had killed at least twenty one men. He always hated seeing Kid face off with somebody. Something Kid had once said always went through his mind; 'there's always somebody out there faster, always is'.

Kid never moved. He seemed frozen in his stance. Bonney finally reached for his gun. Before he could clear the leather, Kid had drawn his gun and shot Bonney in the arm. Bonney fell to the ground, a look of surprise etched in his face.

"He beat me!" he exclaimed to no one in particular. He just couldn't believe he'd been beat. He lay there clutching his arm.

Sheriff Perry walked over and knelt down at Bonney's head. "Boy, you had to know it would happen sooner or later." The sheriff stood up and to the crowd said," Somebody fetch the doc. Anybody know who started this?"

Most all the onlookers pointed to Bonney. Perry looked back at him and shook his head. He turned and walked over to Kid. "That was some mighty fine shooting there son. Never seen nobody that fast. What's your name?"

"Thaddeus Jones sir."

"Well Mr. Jones. You just earned yourself five hundred dollars. Bonney had a bounty on his head. I sent my deputy to telegraph Sheriff Garrett over in Lincoln County to come on over. Since you was the one that brought him down, you get the money."

Kid turned to face Heyes who walked over to join them. They had actually run into Sheriff Garrett once quite recently. He'd formed a posse and chased them all the way to Arizona before he gave up.

"Well Sheriff, that's real nice, but my partner here and I have to be going. We were just passing through on our way to a job," Heyes hurriedly said.

"Well, what about an address to send it to you?"

"We move around so much, we'd probably never get it. Why don't you keep it Sheriff. After all, you'll be the one actually turning him in."

"Well, that's mighty nice of you. Mighty nice."

Perry shook hands with Heyes and Kid and walked back up the street to where the doc was now looking Bonney over.

"Quit whining, you'll live," they heard the doc say.

Heyes and Kid went directly to the livery stable to pick up their horses.

"We better get put of here before Garrett shows up," Heyes said saddling his horse.

After both animals were tacked up, the two ex-outlaws took off towards the north.

"You know Kid. It'll be kinda neat when we get our amnesty to be able to say you faced down Billy the Kid."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"What's wrong?"

"I's just thinkin' about Bonney. It was sorta like lookin' back at a version of ourselves when we were that age just starting down the outlaw trail."

"Yeah, I guess so. Was I ever that cocky?"

The Kid laughed. "Heyes, you're still that cocky!"

They both spurred their horses and headed north, on to their next adventure.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:40 am

Nature’s Bounty

"Circumspect? Nah, we ain’t doin’ that!”

“He means he wants us to be vigilant, Thaddeus.” Heyes gave his most charming smile. “So? What kind of work is this?”

Clear, blue eyes looked down an aquiline nose, as the man spoke in a clipped English accent. “I am Reginald Edgeworth, an artist of some repute. I have been commissioned to create a work for Alfred Humphries, for him to show in his boardroom. I need to paint without being disturbed.”

Heyes shook his head in bemusement. “Why do you need us?”

“Humphries owns the railroad, and most of the big hotels in the state.” A smile cut into Edgeworth’s chiselled face. “Humphries’ greatest competitor has just purchased a picture called ‘Nature’s Bounty,’ painted by a famous artist. It’s a still life, showing exotic fruits and wine. He’s already boasting about the classy investment to his company’s portfolio, much to Humphries’ chagrin,” Edgeworth adjusted his cravat in the mirror. “Humphries has commissioned me to create a far more ‘bountiful’ still life; one which will outshine the Whittington Corporation’s picture. I have promised him an outstanding receptacle for the fruit which will also be a matter of everlasting shame to his business rival.”

Heyes frowned. “I still don’t understand.”

“My fruit will be artfully arranged on a woman, Mr. Smith. Nature’s bounty will indeed be on display in all its largesse, and the Whittington Corporation’s piece will look trivial in comparison. It will, of course, be a nod towards the classical. It won’t be salacious.”

“Yeah, I know the kind of thing,” the Kid scratched his head. “I saw one in a bar in San Francisco, it wasn’t fruit though, it was a snake...” his brow wrinkled, “and a goat for some reason. Is this gonna have a goat?”

Edgeworth frowned. “Why would it have a goat?”

“My thoughts exactly,” the Kid agreed. “I always found it real distractin’.”

“So you want us to guard a naked woman draped in fruit?” Heyes asked, incredulously.

Dancing blue eyes glittered with disbelief. “And you’ll pay us for that? We’d normally expect to hand over hard cash for that sort of thing.”

“I wish you to guard my work whilst it’s in progress. Whittington already has wind of what’s going on, and is very displeased,” grinned Edgeworth. “I’ll pay fifteen each upfront, with seventy five more on completion. Room and board will also be provided in this hotel so you can stay with the picture at all times. I have assured Humphries that Whittington will not be allowed to disrupt the creation of this work or art, no matter what.”

Heyes bit pensively into his lip. “And just why would Whittington want to do that?”

Edgeworth’s eyes narrowed slyly. “Because the woman used to be Whittington’s mistress. There she’ll be; the beauty he used to enjoy in private, shown off for eternity by his greatest rival. Humphries will also make sure the world knows he stole her out from under Whittington’s nose. There’s nothing Humphries enjoys more than grinding a rival under his heel, so who am I to stand in his way?”

oooOOOooo

The Kid dragged his hat from his head. “Howdy, ma’am.”

A pair of bewitching, emerald eyes twinkled at him. “Well, ain’t you just the most fetchin’ fella, since... well... that one.” She arched her brows and glimmered hopefully at Heyes, who stood by the door of the hotel suite wrestling with a long-legged wooden contraption. “My name’s Ariadne Beaufort, sweetheart.” A lacquered fingernail trailed lazily across the Kid’s cheek before clutching at the satin robe which clung enticingly to her bountiful chest. “I can’t make up my mind which of you is the most handsome, but I’ve always been known for bein‘ indescisive. That’s why I have the same shoes in so many colors. Why choose when you can have it all?” She slunk over to the chaise longue and poured herself over the cushions. “Which one of you polishes the apples?”

“Thaddeus,” Heyes called. “Can you help me with this?”

The Kid strode over and grabbed the legs of the recalcitrant easel, but kept his eyes fixed on the slim ankles emerging from the satin treasury. “I think I’m in love. Grandpa used to say there was a woman for every man.”

Heyes nodded. “Yup, and I think we just found her. Keep your mind on the job.”

Edgeworth strolled into the suite wearing a paint splattered smock and a velvet beret. He glanced around with a sigh. “I suppose it’ll have to do. The light isn’t great, but I can use the shadows to give some interesting interplay with the flesh tones.” He opened a chest and began pulling out copious quantities of wax fruit, dangling some green grapes towards Ariadne. “These should compliment your eyes beautifully.”

“If you say so, Reggie, where do you want them?”

“Let’s get you posed and take a photograph.”

“Photograph?” Heyes demanded. “I thought you were a painter?”

“I am,” grinned Edgeworth, “but I like to move with the times. Taking a photograph allows me to judge the composition and pose. It also saves poor Ariadne’s aching muscles. I can paint the outline of the picture and merely have her pose so I can capture the skin tones.”

“Yeah, don’t want to miss those skin tones,” murmured the Kid. “They’re the best bit.”

Heyes opened the box of paints and stared down at the tubes, neatly arranged by color and shade. “Should we put these out for you?”

Edgeworth shook his head. “You stand outside the room, and prevent anyone other than Alfred Humphries from coming in here. You also keep the painting in your room at night, guarded at all times.”

The Kid’s face fell. “Outside?”

Edgeworth nodded firmly. “Outside; neither Ariadne, nor myself, work well with spectators.”

“Leave them to the daily grind, huh?” the Kid muttered under his breath. “Why can’t I find a job like that?”

oooOOOooo

Heyes leaned idly on the banisters, looking down at life in the hotel lobby; the woman being tugged by her unruly son towards the door, the stiff business man dropping his newspaper to watch the man who strode towards the staircase, and the nervous looking young couple signing the register. Heyes smiled, they were either newlyweds or lovers – they certainly didn’t look used to checking into a hotel together.

The stout man came up the stairs on short, thick legs and glanced at the watch he pulled from his waistcoat pocket. He replaced it and stared up at the door guarded by the smiling sentinels. The light glinted off the pate beneath the few downy hairs stretched ruthlessly across the tonsured scalp as he followed the numbers down the hallway and stopped at their doorway. “Room 16,” he paused, eyeing the partners cautiously.

“Can we help you?” the Kid queried.

“I wish to see Mr. Edgeworth,” he had the air of a man more used to demanding answers than providing them.

The Kid folded his arms. “Your name, sir?”

The jowls shook in irritation. “What’s it to you?”

Heyes stepped forward. “Mr. Edgeworth is busy and has employed us to ensure that he is not disturbed. We have been told that only Mr. Humphries is allowed to see him.”

“I am Alfred Humphries, and I commissioned this work.”

Heyes smiled sweetly. “I’ll be happy to let him know you’re here, if you can show me some identification.”

“He hired you as security?” Humphries demanded.

“Sure did,” the Kid replied, evenly, holding the shorter man’s gaze, “and we’ll be happy to let you in as soon as we know who you are.”

The flabby face parted in a smile as dumpy fingers rummaged in his breast pocket. “Excellent! My bank book. See? Alfred Humphries – good work, have you ever considered working on the railways?”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look. “Yeah, we’ve considered it in the past.”

Humphries tapped on the door. “Keep it up and make sure Whittington’s kept away. We need men like you two on our trains. There are a lot of criminals out there.”

“There sure are, Mr. Humphries,” Heyes held the door open, “and they seem to get everywhere.”

oooOOOooo

Heyes stared at the packed-up painting. They carried it to their room each night, wrapped up in tarpaulin, with the knots covered in sealing wax to prevent prying eyes from seeing the work before it was completed. They had done this for a week now, and although they could order whatever they liked from room service, they were getting bored and restless by evenings filled with games of poker and books. For the Kid it was like being locked up with a grumpy bear.

Heyes was staring at the package. “Does anything strike you about this job, Kid.”

“We have room and board paid for, and we have to babysit a picture we can’t look at,” he cast hopeful eyes to Heyes, “unless...? Can you? You can break into safes, knots must be real easy.”

“They’re covered in sealing wax, and Edgeworth’s seal is on it.” Heyes swung on the two back legs of his chair. “It’d be fairly easy if I broke into his suite and got the seal. I get the feeling Ariadne’s charms aren’t usually that well protected.”

“What’s eatin’ you? The money’s good, the work’s easy, and we have as much steak as we can eat. Maybe you should go and play a hand of poker, and I’ll look after the paintin’?”

Heyes wandered over to the bed and lay down with his hands behind his head. “Humphries comes every day, and stays for over an hour.”

The Kid shrugged. “He’s payin’, I guess he wants to see how it’s goin’.”

“From what I’ve read most artists don’t like anyone to see their work until it’s finished – even if they’re painting royalty. They’re real strict about it.”

The Kid sighed. “What’s wrong?”

Heyes stared at the ceiling. “Maybe everything- maybe nothing. I don’t like this job, Kid. Not one little bit. Do you mind if I have a few words with Edgeworth tomorrow? It might be the end of this cushy number, but it might also get prevent us being caught up in something illegal.”

The Kid nodded slowly. “You know I’ll back you up. How serious is it? Should we just ride out of here?”

“Probably not. Let’ see if we can get paid first.”

oooOOOooo

The next morning Heyes stood outside the room, the painting still packaged up, watching the hotel lobby from his vantage point on the banisters. The clerk was busy checking out businessmen; a middle-aged couple laughed, their gentle touches indicating a loving happy, couple; and there was the man with the newspaper again. He was here every day, watching who came and went from behind his most simple of disguises, hidden in plain sight.

Edgeworth opened the door to the suite and allowed the partners to enter with the painting. “Still safe and well, is she – my little pride and joy?” he trilled, a little too effetely for either man’s comfort.

“Sure is,” Heyes replied. He sat the package against the easel. “Ariadne not up yet?”

As if on cue the woman appeared from a doorway, her naked shoulder emerging seductively from her silk dressing gown. She nursed a cup in both hands and sipped deeply. “Sure am, cowboy.” She arched an eyebrow. “You want me for somethin’?”

“Ariande!” Edgeworth threw her a look of admonishment.”He’s not here for you.”

“What?” she sashayed into the room. “Men look for me all the time, Reggie. It don’t mean nothin’. Just because a dog chases a wagon don’t mean it knows how to drive it.” She glimmered hopefully at the Heyes and Curry. “You good at drivin’, boys?”

The Kid gave a groan and gave Heyes a hard stare. “Did you have something to ask, Joshua?”

“Sure do.” He pulled out a knife and sliced through the rough string holding the tarpaulin in place.

“What are you doing?” gasped Edgeworth.

“Looking at your work,” Heyes replied. “You see, I got to wondering what kind of artist would wrap up his work in a tarpaulin every night. Wouldn’t that smudge the paint? I had a look, you use oils. They take longer to dry than water paints.” He pulled back the covers, his eyebrows arching at the blank canvas in his hands before he strode over to the chest and looked at the tubes of paint. “So, no paint used in the last week and we’ve been sitting guarding nothing. I suggest you explain, Mr. Edgeworth, before I go and fetch the sheriff.”

The Kid caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. “Don’t move, ma’am. You come in here and sit down. No sneakin’ off to another room.”

Her green eyes widened in protest. “I wasn’t!”

“Sure, you weren’t. Sit down.”

She slumped down in an armchair, her bottom lip pouting in protest.

Heyes turned to Edgeworth. “What is this? The Badger Game?”

Ariadne gasped. “How do you know...?

Edgeworth gave a rueful chuckle. “You know the proper terms for confidence tricks? You’re a flim-flammer?”

“Was. I’ve gone straight, and I don’t appreciate being drawn back in by you two.”

“The Badger Game?” demanded the Kid.

“One of the oldest tricks in the book. They set men up in a compromising situations, and then blackmail them – except I suspect Humphries didn’t need too much pushing – these scams work by making the mark think they’re getting something they want.” His eyes narrowed. “You told me you didn’t work with spectators, but let him in here for hours at a time. Your biggest mistake was wrapping the painting every night, no real artist would do that.” He put his hands on his hips. “Hiring security and keeping everyone out was all for his sake, nobody was going to disturb him, and he was taking Whittington’s mistress. Have you even met Whittington, Ariadne?” He shook his head. “I can’t keep calling you that. What’s your real name?”

“Annie,” she murmured with a shrug. “Humphries met me and didn’t much care.”

“I’ll bet you’re good at making men forget details, Annie.” Heyes turned to Edgeworth. “You! What’s your real name?”

“Burke.” Edgeworth now spoke with a cockney accent. “I’ve been in the States for the last eight years.”

Heyes nodded thoughtfully. “Yup, cheap confidence tricksters. I take it you used that camera to make sure Humphries was well and truly caught?”

The ‘artist’ now shook his head in denial. “No, he’d have seen us do that.”

“Do I look like I came down in the last shower of rain? Do you want us to search?” Heyes glared at his former employers. “This is how it’s gonna be. You’ll pay us what you promised us for the whole job, and if you’re still in town at noon, I’m going to the sheriff. Got that?”

oooOOOooo

Heyes and Curry strolled through the lobby, taking a diversion towards the stiff man holding a newspaper in front of his face.

“Mr. Whittington?” The figure made no move, so Heyes cleared his throat and repeated the name, more loudly this time.

“What!?” the newspaper was lowered and a pair of steel-grey eyes glowered at them.

“I take it you don’t want your presence here publicized. Were you behind this little stunt?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the man snapped. The newspaper was raised again only to be snatched away by an impatient hand.

“Mr. Whittington, I have just found out exactly what was going on up there, and my friend and I don’t appreciate being drawn into your game. We were hired as innocent security men – we could have been seen as part of the gang.”

Kid’s ice-blue eyes cut through the businessman. “We ain’t happy – not at all.”

“I don’t...”

“Don’t insult me with a denial! You’ve hidden behind that newspaper and watched Humphries every day? I saw you.”

Whittington paused before gesturing them to sit. “His way of doing business is really dirty – you have no idea what some of these railroad men are like. I needed something on him, just to get him to back off.”

“He plays dirty?” spluttered Heyes. “What about you? Blackmail is about as low as it gets!”

Whittington leaned forward conspiratorially. “I built myself up from nothing, and just because I’ve been impertinent enough to bring my hotel chain into this state he’s doing what he can to ruin me.” He gave a mischievous twinkle. “His money comes from his wife. He can’t do anything without her say so. He’ll leave me alone now. Have you seen her? She’ll rip his head off.”

Heyes stood. “Look, you two can play whatever games you want, but don’t draw innocent folks into them .” He pointed up to the suite. “I take it that ‘Ariadne’ was never your mistress?”

Whittington shrugged. “I’ve known Annie Boggins for years. Her folks scratched a living in the same dirt as mine. Mistress is a bit strong – but she’ll sure make Mrs. Humphries sit up and take notice.” Whittington drew out his wallet. “Now, what’ll it take for you two boys to ride out of here and forget all about this?”

Heyes glowered down at the sitting man. “We were promised seventy five more dollars on top of what we were paid in advance. We want nothing more than we’re due.”

“Sure!” Notes were thrust into their hands. “Now, just go.”

oooOOOooo

Kid gathered his reins in his hands. “Heyes, you do know that we were promised seventy five dollars between us and that Edgeworth already paid? Whittington just gave you seventy five more – apiece.”

Heyes kicked his mount into action, heading for the road out of town. “Sure I do. I reckon Whittington just gave us a bonus to get out of town fast, isn’t it nice to be paid to do that for a change? Now let’s get out of here before we have another bounty on our heads.”
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Maz

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Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:55 pm

Bounty
Part 28 of the Ranch Days series
By Maz McCoy




Two brown eyes looked up at Jed Curry, expectantly.

“What?”

No reply.

“What do you want?”

No reply.

Jed reached into his vest pocket and studied the contents now in his hand. He held it out. “This is all I’ve got.”

Brown eyes studied the offering and dismissed them. Jed shrugged and returned to the task of helping Marty load the wagon. Boxes were strategically placed between sacks of flour, feedstuff and tins of beans. In the midday sun it didn’t take Jed long to build up a sweat and he could feel his shirt sticking to his back.

“He’s still waiting,” Marty commented a few minutes later when the wagon was finally loaded.

Jed tipped back his hat and cast a glance over his shoulder. Sure enough he was still sitting outside the Claremont general store. Jed jumped down from the wagon raising a small puff of dust as he landed in the street. He strode up the steps to the boardwalk and couched down so that he was eye to eye with the small black dog. Reaching out he ruffled the shaggy fur on top of its head and two big brown eyes gazed up at him. “I don’t have any food for ya.”

The dog leaned into his hand and then licked Jed’s face. The boy laughed and batted him away. Jed looked up at Marty. “We gotta leave right away?”

“Why, watcha wanna do?”

“Get this fella something to eat.”

“Kid, you can’t pick up every stray ya meet.”

“I won’t, just wanna see this one has a meal inside him.”

Marty shook his head, “Go on, we got time.”

Jed smiled and stood up. “I’ll just be a few minutes,” he informed the dog, then entered the store.

He was scanning the shelves when Mister Hannerby asked, “Can I help you?”

“You got any food for a dog?”

“We usually feed our scraps from the table. Maybe a bone now and then.” He came out from behind the counter. “I didn’t know you had a dog, Jed.”

“I don’t but there’s a little black dog outside that…”

“Bounty’s out there?”

“You know him?”

“I might.” He followed the boy outside and the dog was still sitting there. “Hello, Bounty, how ya doin’ fella?” The dog stood up and wagged his tail as Richard Hannerby bent down and patted him on the head then gave his ears a ruffle.

“Who does he belong to?” Jed asked.

“He used to be Mike Eckersley’s but when he died Bounty sort of took to the street. Haven’t seen him around for a while thought he might have found himself a new owner. As he spoke he continued to fuss the dog. Jed bent down on one knee and Bounty turned his attention to the boy. He placed a paw on Jed’s knee and the store owner smiled. “I reckon he likes you.”

“I like him.” The boy looked over at the wagon where Marty was pretending not to listen. Jed stood up. “Marty do you think…”

“No.”

“You don’t know what I’m gonna ask.”

“Yes, I do and I reckon Jeff’s answer would be, no.”

“But having another dog at the ranch would be good. He can keep an eye on things and…”

“You don’t have time to look after a dog, son, nor the money to pay for its grub.”

“He can share mine.”

“No, he can’t.”

“But he doesn’t have anyone. He needs a home.”

Marty looked from the big blue eyes staring up at him hopefully to the equally wide and soulful brown ones. Sheesh, a boy and a dog, someone wasn’t playing fair.

“He’s the town stray,” Hannerby informed Marty.

“The Bar T doesn’t take in strays.”

“You took Heyes and me in,” Jed stated as the dog moved to stand beside him. Jed reached down and patted Bounty on the head.

“Although it’s not always obvious, you and Heyes actually earn your keep.”

“Bounty will too.”

“How? The rats’ll look at him and laugh.”

“He’s bigger than a rat!”

“A coyote’d eat him for lunch.”

“I bet he’s tougher than he looks.”

“He’d hafta be.”

“Aw, come on Marty, please?”

“It ain’t my decision, it’s down to Jeff.”

“When he sees him I know he’ll say he can stay.”

“IF we take him with us.” Jed smiled, reached down and picked up Bounty and placed him carefully in the back of the wagon. “I said, if.”

Jed climbed up onto the seat beside him. “I know. I figured that meant, yes.”

“Son, you’d best not say that to a lady.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” Marty picked up the reins. He looked over at the store owner. “This is all your fault, Richard.”

Hannerby laughed. “Kids and dogs, Marty, a powerful combination.”

“Don’t I know it?” He flicked the reins and the wagon jerked on its way. “That dog’d better behave back there.”

“He will,” Jed assured him.

“If he eats anything…”

“He won’t.”

“You’ll hafta exercise him proper.”

“I will.”

“He’s gonna need training.”

“I can do it.”

“And keep him away from the other dogs.”

“I will.”

“Don’t let him anywhere near Henry’s kitchen or he’ll end up in the stew.”

“Henry wouldn’t.”

“Don’t be so sure. Why one time…”

The store owner watched them heading off down the street and smiled. Ol’ Bounty had found himself a new owner at last.

_________________
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: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:49 pm

The Bounty Hunter

The Kid dropped his saddlebags on the bed and smiled at the mousey woman who smiled meekly at him through her little round spectacles.

“Do you like the room, Mr. Jones?” she asked, cautiously.

“It’s great, Miss Smith,” he grinned, and darted a look at Heyes who gave a nod of appreciation. “Better than the hotel, and cheaper too. I’m glad the hotel was full, but it’s sure gonna be confusin’ with two Smiths, ain’t it Joshua?”

She gave a little sniff. “I don’t see why, it’s a very common name. Thank you for the compliment, though, I do my best. I believe I offer a better service than the hotel, for a better price. The food is good too. It’s all home cooked.”

The Kid gave a sigh of satisfaction. “That sure sounds good. When’s dinner?”

Miss Smith headed towards the door. “In two hours.”

Heyes pulled off his hat. “Is there a bath, ma’am? We’ve been on the road for the last couple of days.”

“That’s one thing we can’t do like a hotel, Mr. Smith.” She smiled apologetically. “It’s just me and a maid, so we can’t go humping great bathtubs full of water to the room. I do have a washhouse out the back, you can fill the boiler from the pump and there will be enough in there to fill at least three baths. You’re welcome to use the bathtubs hanging on the wall in there, but you’ll have to do the hard work by yourselves. All I ask is that you leave the place as you find it.”

The partners exchanged a nod. “That sounds just fine. We’ll see you at dinner, ma’am.”


“Elizabeth!” The pretty maid dropped the awestruck, dark eyes which had scrutinized the two handsome strangers, and scuttled over with her tray to collect the empty dishes from the table. She paused, fluttering her black eyelashes at the blond man as she leaned close to him to collect his plate.

“You sure didn’t exaggerate, Miss Smith,” the Kid sat back contentedly in his chair. “That was a real good meal.”

Miss Smith collected the serving dishes from the centre of the table. “Why thank you, Mr. Jones.” She turned to the late arriving guest who walked into the dining room. “Mr. Jenkins, as you can see you have missed dinner, but I’ll be happy to plate you up some chicken pie and mashed potatoes.”

Jenkins gave the boarding house owner a grateful nod. “That would be swell.”

Miss Smith turned to Heyes and Curry. “Coffee? I can serve here, or in the lounge.”

“If you don’t mind, Miss Smith, we’d like to go over to the saloon,” Heyes smiled hopefully at the woman.

“Of course, I lock the door at eleven, gentlemen. Please bear that in mind.” She turned to Elizabeth. “I may be fairly late myself. Mrs Latimer is having a little get-together for us ladies before her wedding tomorrow.” The mousey-haired matron turned to the men. “I very rarely go out, but she’s old friend of mine and she’s been so happy since she met the new undertaker. She’s been very lonely since she was widowed.”

The Kid gave a mischievous chuckle. “Well, try to be back by eleven, ma’am – we don’t want to see you gettin’ tiddly and trying to climb in the windows after lockdown!”

Elizabeth and Miss Smith giggled at the very thought. “You clearly haven’t met Mrs. Latimer, Mr. Jones. I very much doubt there’ll be anything stronger than cordial served.”

The partners collected their hats and strode out into the street.

“Thaddeus?” Heyes murmured. “Does Jenkins look familiar to you?”

The Kid turned worried eyes on his cousin. “No. Do you know him?”

“I dunno,” Heyes shook his head. “There’s something... I’m just not sure. Let me drink on it.”



Two ex-outlaws crept quietly down the hallway towards their room, having resolved to spend the night and leave first thing in the morning. They still couldn’t place Jenkins but there was no point in taking chances.

The metallic clicking of a gun through the darkness made their stomachs sink.

“Hands up. I have a gun to the head of your curly headed friend here. One false move and he’s dead.”

The Kid gave a resigned sigh. “He’s tellin’ the truth Joshua. I can feel it on the back of my head.”

“Fine,” Heyes replied, calmly. “Just take it easy, huh?”

The Kid felt his weapon removed from the holster, and heard the clunk of Heyes’ gun dropping onto the runner on the hall floor.

“Walk,” hissed the voice behind them. “Into the dining room, just follow the light.”

They did exactly as they were told, cautiously entering the room. “Are you alright, Miss?” The Kid turned, glaring into the dark, scowling eyes of Jenkins who held a gun on them. “What have you do done to her? Why’s she tied up like that?”

Jenkins grinned at the weeping maid tied to the chair. “She’ll be fine as long as she does as she’s told. I just needed to keep her quiet.”

“What’s this all about?” Heyes demanded, not quite sure he wanted to hear the answer.

Jenkins gave an unsavoury grin. “Bounty.”

“Bounty?” Heyes did his best to sound incredulous.

“Yup, and there’s no point of arguing’ about it. I ain’t in the mood. Just do as your told, and don’t make me do this the hard way.” He tossed some ropes at the Kid and nodded towards Heyes. “Now tie up your friend, and make them knots good. I’ll be checkin’ and any ‘mistakes’ will mean some real pain to that little lady.”

Heyes and Curry shared a glance of resignation, nodding in reassurance to Elizabeth. “You’ll be fine, Elizabeth. He’s not here for you.” Heyes shot an angry glare at Jenkins. “She’s terrified! What have you done to her?”

“Nothin’, but I guess bein’ held at gun point by a stranger and tied up is scary for normal folks, huh, boys?” He gestured with his weapon. “Now, do as you’re told! Tie him up.”

The Kid muttered under his breath and picked up the rope. “Joshua, best do as he says.”

“Smart choice,” growled Jenkins.

The Kid worked until Heyes was thoroughly bound to the chair before being checked by the gunman. “Right, you sit over there and tie your feet together.” Jenkins watched, making sure the Kid followed his instructions. “Hands behind your back. I’m handing you a noose, put your wrists in it.”

The Kid did exactly what he was told, quickly feel the loop tighten. The rope was wrapped tightly around a couple of times before Jenkins felt comfortable enough to place his gun on the table and ensure that the job was completed to his satisfaction. He stood back eyeing his captives cautiously.

“So? What now?” Heyes demanded.

“We wait. Miss Smith ain’t back yet.” Jenkins took a seat in front of the door . “I want every member of this household here, and tied up, before I do anythin’.” He smirked, clearly pleased with his work so far. “Don’t want anyone wanderin’ in while I get the sheriff and untyin’ anyone else, do we?”

Heyes arched his eyebrows innocently. “Don’t we?”

Jenkins frowned. “No – we don’t.” His face changed, the penny visibly dropping in front of them. “I know,” He stared at Elizabeth, whose eyes widened in panic. “I’ll use her.”

“What for?” Elizabeth started to struggle and sob.

“Relax, little lady. I’m gonna send you to the sheriff, that’s all, as soon as Miss Smith gets here.”

Heyes twisted his hands behind his back. “You’ve made a mistake you know.”

Jenkins shook his head. “Nope. You know when you walk in somewhere and you think you recognise somebody; but when they’re here right in front of you, it can be hard to place where you first saw them?” He crossed one leg over the other. “But eventually it falls into place. I knew, and I’m certain.” He gave a puff of satisfaction. “All these years of scratchin’ around for a livin’. I’m on easy street now.”

“Not yet, you ain’t ,” muttered the Kid, ominously.

“Don’t threaten me, it ain’t gonna work. Just sit tight until the last piece falls into place, and the girl can go get the sheriff.” Jenkins chuckled to himself. “They’ll need to take real care with the locks though. Don’t wanna have any that’re too easy to pick, huh? I’m gonna warn the sheriff to take special care.”

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” snapped Heyes.

“Do I look like a man who cares,” barked Jenkins. “Shut up!”

Heyes tugged at his wrists again, but it was futile. The Kid wasn’t going to take any risks with that young woman’s life. He’d tied the knots tight, just as he had been told. Heyes’ frustration grew, knowing that his whole life was about to trickle through another man’s hands like dust in the wind. They were trapped.

His dark eyes caught a movement, a tiny, insignificant glint on the brass of the handle. It was oval, so only the playing of the light over the scratches and dents betrayed the displacement of the gleam from the oil lamp, but it was moving – slowly, almost imperceptively – it was turning. Whoever was behind the door couldn’t be any worse than what was sitting right in front of him, so Heyes made a snap decision. It was time to distract Jenkins.

“Thaddeus, do you remember that time someone mistook us for bank robbers? Where was that?”

Kid’s eyes narrowed, picking up on Heyes look, rich with meaning. “San Francisco.” He darted a dismissive look at Jenkins. “Our lawyer sure made him pay. What did he call it? It wasn’t the same as kidnappin’, but it amounted to the same thing.”

“Yeah, what was it that lawyer called it?” Heyes fixed his gaze on the Kid, knowing that the keen blue eyes had spotted the door opening a tiny crack. They needed Jenkins to focus on them.

“There was a fancy word. Latin, wasn’t it?” queried Heyes.

“Latino?” The Kid shook his head. “Nah, he was German, wasn’t he? What was his name, Schwarz, Schwarmer – no wait.” A smile spread over the Kid’s face. “Schmidt. That was it. I don’t know why it was so hard to remember. It’s Smith in German. Just like your name, Joshua.”

Jenkins stirred irritably. “Why don’t you shut up?”

The door had now opened and their landlady was creeping into the room bearing the ugly bust of some bald, old Roman which had been sitting on the sideboard in the hall. It was made of some kind of polished stone, and what it lacked in attractiveness it made up for in weight. Jenkins had been stupid enough to sit with his back to the door, so he could keep an eye on the captives in the dining room.

“’Smith,’ Huh,” Heyes mused. “That has to be one of the commonest names in the world. After ‘Jones,’ that’s real common too.”

“Not as common as ‘Smith,’” the Kid countered. “That’s your name, it’s the landlady’s name – they even have it in other languages. What’s German for ‘Jones?’”

“I dunno?” snorted Heyes. “Doesn’t ‘Smith’ mean someone who makes something? What’s ‘a Jones?’”

“Will you two shut up!?” bellowed Jenkins. “Who cares what ‘a Jones’ is? We all know that ‘Smith’ is a fake name for an outlaw! One with a bounty waitin’ to be collected.”

Miss Smith sucked in a silent breath. She was now creeping up behind the man holding her guests and maid at gunpoint.

“I’m no outlaw,” Heyes said, defensively. “I’m a security consultant.”

“Smith? That’s just a lazy alias.”

“No argument there, Jenkins,” smiled Heyes. “It’s not an alias I’d have thought up. I’d have come up with something like Studemeyer or Lopez.” He cast his eyes to the ceiling. “No, a French name. That would work. Everyone would spell it wrong, so there’d be a dozen versions.”

Miss Smith brought her blunt instrument down on the back of Jenkins head with a sickening thunk. He crumpled, toppling to the floor, his gun falling from his grasp. Heyes gave the spinster a grateful smile. “Thank you! He seemed to have the mad idea he could collect a bounty.”

She bit into her lip, searching in the sideboard for a steak knife before releasing them from their bonds. “I’m so sorry for this. We’ve NEVER had anything like this happen before.”

Heyes stood, making sure he collected Jenkins’ weapon. “I don’t doubt that, ma’am. We’re real sorry.”

She frowned. “You’re sorry?”

“Yes, I’ve no idea who he thought we were.”

She sliced through the ropes binding the boy’s hands. “Really?” she chuckled. “It wouldn’t be that he thought you were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry?”

Blue eyes met brown in a look of consternation. “Why would he think that, Miss Smith?”

She shook her head ruefully. “Because that’s who you really are. We’ve met before, a long time ago.”

The Kid glanced at Heyes. “I think you’ve made a mistake, ma’am.”

“Nope, my real name is Betty Barclay, the sister of Jim and Bob Barclay.”

Heyes’ jaw dropped open. “Betty Barclay? The female outlaw who used to crack safes for the Barclay Boys?”

“Yup,” she nodded. “I saw you through the window of the cabin about twelve years ago when The Devil’s Hole Gang took shelter at Robber’s Roost at the same time as us. My brothers wouldn’t let me meet any of you because they were worried about a woman amongst all those different outlaws.” She narrowed her eyes. “If only their protective instincts had extended to not dragging a sixteen year old girl out on robberies because she could open safes!”

“But we heard she was blonde, and real pretty,” stammered the Kid, suddenly realizing that he’d called the woman plain.

Miss Smith pulled off her glasses. “How kind, but I have changed my appearance quite deliberately. I’ve been living a quiet life, taking in boarders and doing some specialist dressmaking.” She stared sadly down at the unconscious man on the floor. “I was the only one of the family who studied under my father to learn his trade as a locksmith, and my brothers used me until I got enough the confidence to walk away from them. That’s where I got my alias. It was short for ‘locksmith.’ I also thought it’d be so common a name that nobody would question it.” She smiled at Heyes. “I guess you thought much the same.”

“Kid, get him tied up before he comes round,” Heyes gestured towards Jenkins. “I think the question is, which ‘Smith’ did he recognize? You or me?”

“My thoughts exactly,” the woman nodded, sadly. “I’d settled in so well here. I was happy, but now I have no choice. I’ll have to leave – right away.”

“Heyes, what about her?” the Kid looked cautiously over to the maid wiping tears away from her pale face.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about Elizabeth. You’ve always known who I really am, haven’t you? She can be trusted.”

The girl nodded. “We’ve always known this could happen.” She sniffed emotionally. “We’ll have to go into our plan, won’t we?”

Miss Smith gave Elizabeth a reassuring smile. “You’ll be fine. Just give us until morning, and then get help. Rub your wrists to make it took like you just got out of the ropes, and get the sheriff. We should be clean away by then.”



Two rough-looking men and a raggedy boy huddled in the third class compartment of the train, talking in hushed tones.

“So where will you head, Betty?” Heyes asked, quietly.

“East, I think. I’ll be less likely to bump into anyone from my past there, and I can make a fresh start.”

“It’s a cryin’ shame that you have to leave your home behind you. You’ve lost everythin’,” muttered the Kid.

“Not necessarily,” Betty smiled, discretely. “I have everything in my daughter’s name. She’ll sell up and meet me when I get somewhere safe. Didn’t you guess that Elizabeth is my daughter? Betty is short for Elizabeth.”

The partners exchanged a smile. “Nope, we never guessed. I reckon you’ve got a better plan for livin’ an honest life than we have,” the Kid replied.

“I might go back to locksmithing. Nobody in the east will associate me with Betty Barclay, and I can go blonde again, and have a last chance at looking pretty before I’m too old. Where will you boys go?”

“Anywhere the wind blows us, Betty,” Heyes murmured.

She nodded. “Well, you could always head east too. Folks always need a locksmith, Heyes.”

Heyes shook his head. “Nah, I can’t see me shut up in a shop every day, Betty, I think we’ll just keep going the way we have been. Our whole life has been a lie. I guess we’ve just got to find a way of telling better lies. Maybe if we keep pretending to be better men, we’ll eventually end up that way.”
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AllegraW



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Join date : 2012-04-22

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:10 pm

A Happy New Year to one and all - May all your dreams come true!!

...And for me a bunny hopped. Wonders never cease.






Bounty

“C’mon, c’mon!” Curry’s growl echoed the frustration he felt at the situation he – correction - he and his partner found themselves in, and he couldn’t help but pull at his hands.

“Will you stop that! What do you think I’m trying to do?” Heyes hissed over his shoulder.

“Whatever you’re doin’, you’re not doin’ it fast enough,” came the snarled reply and, since the Kid couldn’t actually see him, Heyes rolled his eyes for nobody’s benefit but his own.

“If you kept still, I could work faster!”

“You certainly couldn’t work much slower.”

Heyes decided to ignore the Kid’s temper and concentrate instead on the more important job in hand, which was trying to get to grips with the piece of leather currently binding his partner’s hands behind his back, and thus free him. This was proving to be no easy feat since Heyes’ own normally oh, so nimble digits were similarly tied and, as a result, he was working on the binds while positioned on his side, lying back to back with Curry on the cold desert ground next to a dead camp fire in the middle of the night with their feet similarly bound.

‘And Kid’s not helping things either,’ Heyes thought and yanked at his partner’s hands to keep them in place.

“Ouch! Heyes!” However, Curry realized he wasn’t going to provoke a rise out of him and they would both be better off if he reined in his temper. Gritting his teeth, he let his partner pull at his wrists as he thought about how they had gotten themselves into this situation yet again. It just wasn’t fair, the Kid decided. They’d just gone and made a short stop in some two-bit town. They’d stayed one night to stock up on one or two things and play a bit of poker in a warm saloon for a change; two anonymous and harmless strangers just passing through. How could that have been such a problem? the Kid gave a mental sigh to himself as the answer mocked him. “Because they’d been recognized…again, that’s why, and there was still a $10000 reward on each of their heads which was a big enough bounty to make people not worry too much about any risks they might have to take in trying to catch them.”

“Hold that end.”

Curry came back to the present as Heyes shoved a piece of leather into his right palm and he obligingly closed his fingers around it as tightly as his bonds would allow. Heyes was making progress he realized. He had no doubt his partner would manage to untie him and it was that which had made him so impatient before. After all, the man who had done this to them had not actually been the brightest spark in the tinder shed. The Kid actually smiled to himself at the memory of his partner’s silvery tongue which had managed to spin lie after story, convincing their captor that he wouldn’t be able to bring them in by himself. The man was, at that moment, racing into town to get himself reinforcements which was why they found themselves now alone at the camp.

“Almost there,” Kid heard Heyes breathe partly to himself as he worked the last knot.

He felt one of the leather bands wrapped around his wrist tighten painfully for a brief moment and then the straps went loose and he was able to pull them off. “About time,” he grumbled, but without rancor. Immediately, he brought his hands forward and sat up reaching for his feet and making quick work of the ties before turning to his partner who was still lying on his side waiting for him.

“Next time you untie us,” Heyes grouched.

“It was your turn,” Kid retorted. “Here! Up you get.” He heaved his partner into a sitting position and untied his hands. Heyes briefly rubbed his wrists before untying his own feet while the Kid went to check their horses. It was smooth teamwork…as always. The horses were still saddled, packed and waiting patiently tethered to a nearby tree. They looked fine and the Kid took hold of their reins as Heyes came over to join him.

“Ready to go?” he asked the Kid

“More than ready,” the Kid assured him.

“C’mon then,” said Heyes swinging himself up into the saddle. “Let’s get outta here.”

The Kid grinned, mounted his horse and together they began to head away from the make shift camp site. When they reached the road, however, Heyes turned back towards the town they had been leaving and the Kid stopped his horse. “Where’re ya goin’?” he asked. “We were headin’ that way.” He waved his hand in the opposite direction to the one Heyes was facing.

“Ah, but our guns are…” Heyes pointed towards the town, “…that way.”

“You wanna get our guns?” asked the Kid. Heyes nodded. “Hate to put a spanner in your works, Heyes, but we don’t have any guns to get back our guns.”

“You know that,” Heyes told him, “I know that, but…,” and he indicated the road towards town once more, “…he doesn’t,” and he flashed the Kid a smile.

Curry couldn’t help but smile back at him. “I’d like my gun back,” he conceded and turned his horse around.

Half an hour later from behind an outcrop to the side of the road Heyes and Curry observed two riders heading out towards the place where they had been tied up, and, by the light of the moon, the shape of the man who had captured them was clearly recognizable. Heyes looked at the Kid. “Ready?” he asked the Kid who nodded. “Okay then, let’s do this,” and he scrambled out from behind the outcrop. “That’s far enough,” he shouted to the two men. “We’re over here.”

Both riders pulled their horses to a sudden stop as they looked towards where Heyes was standing. The first man clearly recognized Heyes’ silhouette in the moonlight and he jerked upright, his hand lurching down towards his holstered pistol. The other man recognized his partner’s panicked movements and his hand also tried to go for his gun. Neither got far as Heyes called out, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The men stilled as Heyes continued; “Ya didn’t check the horses too good before you set off and you outta know that my partner’s back here now with a gun pointed right at ya.”

“Hands up where I can see ‘em,” called the Kid, still hidden behind the outcrop, and both men put their hands up.

“How’d ya get free?” yelled the first man who had previously captured him.

“You can’t tie knots,” Heyes told him as he walked up to them..

The man groaned as the other turned to him. “What were you thinking, Jake?” he hissed.

“I DID check the bags,” Jake cried, “an’ I can tie knots, I swear.”

“Not well enough, it would seem,” Heyes informed him, “but don’t feel too bad about it. You’re not the first and we’re pretty good at what we do. Now, though, what we’d like is our pistols back again.”

Jake looked miserably at him. “They’re in my saddle-bag.”

Heyes nodded. “I know. I saw you put them in there.” He reached behind Jake and opened the saddle bag to pull out the two pistols. Smiling, he put the Kid’s gun in his holster, briefly checked his own was still loaded before pointing it at the two riders. “Thanks for taking care of them.”

“Don’t mention it,” sighed Jake in defeat as the man on the horse next to him audibly hissed through his teeth. Kid, meanwhile, had come out from behind the outcrop and marched up to the group tipping his hat at the two men at the same time showing them his two empty hands.

“Hey! Where’s your gun?” the man next to Jake asked.

“There,” answered the Kid indicating the pistol still in Heyes’ holster. Without taking his eyes or his own gun off the two riders, Heyes reached his left hand around to his right hip and pulled the Kid’s gun from his holster. He held it out to the Kid who took it, checked that it, too, was loaded, and then he also pointed it at the two men.

“You never had another gun,” Jake said miserably. “I didn’t miss it when I checked.”

“No, you didn’t,” the Kid agreed.

“Now, down off your horses, if you would,” Heyes told the two men.

Gingerly, they complied and Heyes holstered his gun quickly, turned them around one after the other, tied their hands behind them and sat them down at the side of the road. Nodding to the Kid, he then slapped the horses and sent them away at a trot before heading off to fetch their own two mounts.

“Sorry, boys,” Kid told the two men now sitting glumly at his feet, “but we need a little bit of time to get a decent head start. You’ll be fine though. If ya can’t get outta them ties, someone’s bound to come along tomorrow.” Neither man would look up and meet the Kids eyes so he gave up and looked around for his partner.

“Ready?” he called over to Heyes.

“Never been readier,” Heyes replied as he brought the horses over and handed the Kid his reins. Kid returned his gun to its holster and the partners mounted up and turned to set off.

“And just like that, there goes $20000,” groaned the man who had ridden out with Jake. “It’s just not fair.”

The Kid looked down at the two would be bounty hunters. “Sorry,” he said not sounding sorry at all. However, as he rode out with his partner his brows knit together and he frowned. “You know, Heyes, it really isn’t fair.”

“What isn’t?”

“Why in all these years has that bounty never changed? It’s still $10000 each and we haven’t robbed anyone in over five years.”

“You wanna know why that is?” asked Heyes.

“You gotta theory?” asked the Kid, “Go on, then – Let’s have it.”

“It’s simple!” Heyes’ smile was dazzling. “It’s because we’re worth it,”

Kid looked startled for a moment and then he gave a bark of laughter as he thought about all the events of the day and night and how they had freed themselves and retrieved their guns. “You know, Heyes?” he grinned back, “I reckon you’re right.”



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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:55 pm

“Hmmph. They spelled it wrong.”

“What?”

“They spelled it wrong, Kid. Don’t you see?”

“No. What’s wrong with ‘Bountyful”?”

“It ain’t how you say it; it’s how you spell it.”

“Looks okay to me.”

“Nevertheless, it’s wrong. It should have an ‘i,’ not a ‘y.’”

“But then it wouldn’t spell ‘bounty-full.”

“Right; it’d be spelled correctly: Bountiful. You think they’d know how to spell their own town properly.”

“Heyes, it occurs to me…”

“You thinking again?”

“Uh huh. It occurs to me…if the folk in Bountyful ain’t too concerned about how to spell their name right, could be they ain’t too concerned about other things goin’ on in their town, neither.”

“You know, that’s pretty good thinking, Kid.”

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry grinned at each other and spurred their horses into a gallop as they continued on their trip to Bountyful.


I didn't think I'd contribute anything this month but this idea came to me the other day. It will probaby be the beginning of a longer story. Question: Do you think Heyes would say "nevertheless"?

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:10 pm

Upping the Bounty

The train came to a screeching halt; passengers fell from their bench chairs onto the floor.

“Stand and deliver!” came the shout.

The engineer poked his head out of the cab with his hands raised. “Who says?”

“Kid Curry!” A dark-haired outlaw pointed his gun towards his blond partner.

“Hannibal Heyes!” The blond gestured with his gun over to the man at his side. “Now come outta there and join the rest of the passengers.”

The engineer and brakeman jumped down from the engine compartment and walked towards the area where passengers were being escorted from their car to a clearing nearby.

“Heyes,” Curry nodded down the line of cars, “looks like a private car at the end; we have someone important on board.”

Heyes squinted. “You’re right. Let’s go see who it is while the boys get all the passengers in the clear.” He rode over to where the gang was helping people off on his way to the back of the train where the private car was attached. “Got it under control, Wheat?”

“Don’t I always?” came a gruff reply.

“Me and the Kid are gonna check out if anyone’s in the private car at the end.”

Curry, meanwhile, was riding near the car forming a plan. As Heyes rode up, he hissed, “You go to the main door in the back. Be ready for anything. Don’t think they’re gonna want to come out willin’ly.”

“And where will you be?”

“Backin’ you up as always.” The Kid dismounted and hurried towards the back of the car.

Heyes rode up to the car and climbed out of the saddle onto the balcony. He knocked with his gun. “Anyone in there?” He stepped aside just in time to avoid a shot breaking a window. “Sheesh!” He crouched down and grumbled, “Thought you were watching my back, Kid.”

Inside the car, several well-dressed men were huddled together, one with a gun aimed at the door.

“Do you think you got him, Jackson?” asked one of the men.

“I’m not sure, sir, but I could…”

“I’d just put that gun on the floor and kick it over here, if I were you,” interrupted Kid Curry, who came in from the back area. “Heyes,” he shouted. “You can come in now.”

“Heyes…” the youngest of the men stuttered. “That means you’re…”

“Kid Curry.” He put a finger to his hat and nodded.

Heyes cautiously opened the door until he saw his partner in control. “I got shot at – thought you were watching my…”

“I was. I have ‘em disarmed, don’t I?"

“True.” Heyes walked confidently up to the three men. “Now who do we have here?”

The men remained silent so Heyes walked over to the desk and picked up a blank piece of embossed stationary. “The paper says John Insley Blair. Which one of you is Blair?”

The elder gentleman stood up straighter. “I am Mr. Blair, you insolent outlaw!”

“Kinda looks like Silky, don’t he, Heyes?” Curry commented.

“He kinda does, doesn’t he,” Heyes agreed. “Not as well-mannered as Silky, though. Calling us insolent. Tsk… tsk…” Heyes walked around the elegant car. “Blair… that name sounds familiar.” He snapped his fingers. “You’re the president of several railroads, aren’t you.”

Blair remained silent, but glared at the outlaw.

“I thought so. And you must be…his secretary?” Heyes looked the younger one in the eye.

The man nodded and stuttered, “Henry Jackson.”

Heyes locked eyes with the third man, who had the gun. “I’m guessing one of the guards.”

“Former guard.” Blair scowled. “Not securing the back so they could just walk in.”

“Not his fault I got in,” Curry growled. “You need to not be so cheap and put in a better lock.”

Heyes walked over to the well-stocked bar and read a few labels. “Think we’ll just take a few of these bottles with us to celebrate – let the gang have some of the really good stuff this time, compliments of Mr. Blair.” Heyes threw a bottle to the Kid, who caught it with easily with his left hand.

Curry glanced at the label. “Looking forward to some Irish whiskey.”

“I got some imported brandy and champagne, all the way from France,” Heyes said as he filled his arms with several more bottles. “We really should get back to work.”

Kid Curry waved his gun towards the door. “Why don’t you three join the rest of the passengers.”

Heyes left the private car, followed by Blair and his men, with Curry in the rear. As Heyes stuffed the bottles in his saddlebags, the Kid handed him back the whiskey to stash.

“Now, let’s go open that safe.” Heyes rubbed his hands together in glee.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Thirty minutes later, Heyes handed the last of the bags of money to the Kid, who was attaching them to his and Heyes’ horses.

Heyes walked over to Blair. “You really should invest in better safes on these trains carrying payroll. I was able to open it in twenty minutes,” he bragged.

“You’ll regret having robbed me!” Blair shouted as the outlaw gang mounted their horses and rode away. “Jackson, I want you to contact the other railroad men: Holliday, Sage, Gould, Hill, and the Central Pacific’s four owners. Contact the governor! I want those men caught; I don’t care at what price!” He mumbled to himself, “Damn arrogant Devil’s Hole gang!”

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Several months later, Heyes and Curry exited a general store after buying supplies. Glancing at the area with bulletins posted, the Kid frowned. He inconspicuously looked around and ripped down two papers, stuffing them inside his jacket.

Once away from the town on the trail, Curry commented, “We must’ve really made that railroad man Blair mad at us.”

“Huh?” Heyes asked as he slowed his mount to walk beside his partner. “What makes you say that?”

Kid Curry pulled the papers out and handed them to Heyes. “These.”

Heyes paused, with Curry joining him, as he looked over the papers. “Hey, they upped our bounty - $10,000! I think we’re the most wanted outlaws in the West now! Even Jesse James isn’t wanted for as much and he’s killed folks,” Heyes bragged as he continued to read. “At least they don’t have a better description of us on here. It could describe a lot of men.”

Curry shook his head and frowned. “Heyes, did you notice the other part? The wanted DEAD or alive part?”

“Oh…”

“Yeah, I’m worried, Heyes. Gonna make every bounty hunter and posse that more eager to get us.”

Heyes shrugged his shoulder. “I like it when you worry, Kid. Know you’re watching my back.” He spurred his horse on.

Kid Curry sighed as he followed his partner. “I don’t like this, Heyes. I don’t like it one bit.”


Railroad tycoons –

John Insley Blair was the president of sixteen railroad companies and a director or manager of many more. He was reputed to be the largest single owner of railroad property in the world. And he did look very close to Walter Brennan’s Silky character

The other railroad men mentioned were the following: Cyrus Holliday was on the board of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad; Russell Sage was closely associated with Jay Gould in the management of the six railroad; James Jerome Hill was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway; Jay Gould had control of four western railroads, including the Union Pacific, and controlled 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of railway, about one-ninth of the length of rail in the United States at one time; the California four were the owners of the Central Pacific – Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins.

(Took a "little" liberty with the years of the these railroad men.)




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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:32 am

C.F. Bligh’s parsimony was legendary. Heyes and the Kid heard the tales as they relieved the tension of the day at the local drinking establishment. They entered the bar not one second earlier than seven fifteen in the evening, since their working hours were seven to seven, and Bligh’s watch ran fast during the night and slow during the day.

As soon as they stepped up to the bar, the bartender had looked at them and poured them each a double-shot. They paid then drained their glasses in one gulp. Simultaneously, they could feel their shoulders relaxing from the strain of keeping their tempers with an employer who had hounded and harried them all day.

“Hear you two are working for old man Bligh,” the bartender ventured.

“Yeah, for now,” Heyes responded.

The Kid grimaced and held his glass out for another.

One of the locals laughed. “Yeah, Bligh’s difficult all right. Man makes stingy seem positively generous. Let me buy you a shot.”

Heyes and the Kid smiled back.

“Thanks,” the Kid accepted. “We know a man who’ll squeeze a silver dollar till the eagle screams, but we’ve never encountered someone quite like C.F. Bligh.”

“Enid, my wife, she used to cook for him. Man would measure the thickness of the potato peelings to be sure none of the insides was wasted,” claimed the bartender as he poured their whiskeys.

“That’s nothing,” scoffed a patron. “Henry, at the livery, says one of Bligh’s horses lost a nail while stabled there once. The man deducted the cost of a barrel of nails from the stabling charges, because he said Henry’s negligence required him to purchase a nail, and they were cheaper by the barrel – so now he needed to buy a whole barrel. Then Bligh said he’d sell the extras back to Henry at five cents a dozen! Heck, a whole barrel is only six bits.”

A roar of laughter greeted this tale. Soon the multitudes were outdoing each other regaling the newcomers with tales of Bligh’s tight-fistedness.

During a lull, Heyes looked around at their new comrades. “So, how did this place get named ‘Mutineers’? It’s a strange name for a prairie bar.”

The bartender laughed. “When I first came out here, I worked for Bligh. That’s how I met Enid. We saved our pennies when we could – it wasn’t easy because he didn’t pay much, and he docks you for any infringement, real or imagined. But eventually I got the money to buy this place. Bligh didn’t want me to, feared it would eat into his profits at the hotel. Best day of my life when I owned this free and clear. I changed the name the same day to Mutineers.” He paused and wiped down the bar. “See, way I figure it, given how mean he is and how hard he works folks, I figured he must be related to that ship captain, and I sure can understand why that man’s crew mutinied.”

Heyes and the Kid burst out laughing. “I guess you’re right about that.” They bought a round for the house.

As he poured the drinks, the Bartender resumed, “Name’s Cairn by the way, Pittiford Cairn.” He grimaced as they exchanged looks. “Yeah, I know. Most folks call me Pitt.”

“Good to meet you, Pitt. I’m Joshua, Joshua Smith and my partner here is Thaddeus Jones.”

“Joshua. Thaddeus. What he hire you two for, anyway?”

Heyes smiled, “Oh, we’re just helping to fix up the hotel for some big shindig he’s throwing or something. You know, a little of this…”

“… A little of that,” the Kid finished.

“Aah, that must be his soiree for the mayors and their cronies in the area. Enid says they used to spend weeks getting ready – all the finest crystal and plates. But old Bligh still hates to spend the money, even though he sure wants it to look swank.”

“If he don’t want to spend the money, why does he have a party?” the Kid asked.

“Oh, I can see that,” Heyes answered. “Think about it. You throw a big party and everyone who comes is grateful to you, wants to help you out. It’s good for business.”

“I guess,” the Kid muttered.

The bartender smiled. “It sure is good for business, but my Enid, she says he throws it just to show how important he is. You know, who he can get to come and all.”

Others in the bar murmured in agreement. “Yeah, that sounds like Bligh,” someone mused.

Kid downed his last drink and looked at Heyes. “We gotta get goin’. It’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow.”

Heyes nodded and they stood.

“Well, just make sure you get paid. Most of us won’t work for him anymore, so he needs to promise top dollar these days to those who will. But he’ll cheat you if he can.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

~~~000~~~

“That about does it, Mr. Bligh,” Heyes sighed two days later as he finished wiping down the wall sconces to Bligh’s satisfaction. He looked around at the sumptuous spread laid on the side tables and the wine and fine liquors stocking the bar. All was ready for tonight’s festivities.

“Well…” Bligh grumbled. “Darned entertainment, I better get my money’s worth out of this. But you need to be generous to get attention in this world. You keep that in mind.”

Heyes nodded as if he appreciated the advice. He looked around – it sure looked like Bligh had spent a lot, but the kitchen staff had told them that the food was mostly bread and potatoes in disguise, and the fancy liquor bottles had been refilled with much cheaper stock. Still, it looked spectacular.

Bligh allowed a slight smile to twitch his lips as he looked around the room. Suddenly he scowled. “Young man, don’t you be touching those trays. That food isn’t for the likes of you! I know exactly how many pieces are on each tray, so don’t you be thinking you can sneak any!”

“Of course, you do,” muttered the Kid, putting down the trays he had been carrying. “Mr. Bligh, how exactly am I supposed to bring the trays in without touchin’ them?”

“Don’t be impertinent. You know what I meant.”

Heyes shook his head at the Kid and took a deep breath. “Mr. Bligh, we want to be paid now, before the party. We’re planning on leaving first thing in the morning and you won’t want to be interrupted during the party in order to pay us.”

A sly look came into Bligh’s eyes. “Well, I’m certainly not paying you before your work shift is over! You can come to me in the morning to be paid, or leave. If I pay you now, you could skip out without completing your jobs.”

The Kid’s eyes narrowed.

Heyes frowned. “Mr. Bligh, do not think you can avoid paying us. You don’t want us interfering with your party, do you?”

Bligh turned red and looked back and forth at the icy blue eyes and blazing brown eyes confronting him. He looked away. “Trying to take advantage of my good nature, that’s what you’re doing.”

They stood implacably before him.

Bligh raised his eyebrows. “Surely you don’t think I carry that much cash on my person!” he exclaimed haughtily. “I’ll pay you after the party. If you choose to leave before I have the opportunity to pay you, that’s your choice. You can’t blame me.”

Heyes spoke as he and the Kid closed in on the man. “We will be paid or interrupting your party will be the least of your worries.”

Bligh shrank away. “Oh, very well. I’ll give you what I have now and as soon as Marshall Fletcher arrives, I’ll have him escort me while I retrieve the rest of your pay from my safe.”

Blue eyes met brown. “Did you say, Marshall Fletcher?”

“Kit Fletcher?” Heyes asked.

“Yes, absolutely. Do you know him?”

“More by reputation. We’ve seen him from a distance, though,” the Kid admitted.

Blue eyes again met brown.

Heyes turned to Bligh, “Folks are expecting us, and we don’t want to interfere with your party. How much do you have on you now?”

Bligh slowly pulled out his shabby purse. He hunched over and looked inside. Heyes held out his hand. With much grumbling and sighing, Bligh laboriously counted a small pile of bills into Heyes’ hand.

“This is a day short.”

The Kid groaned. “But we do need to leave early to make our appointment, so we’ll just take this and leave now.”

The two turned on their heels and left.

Bligh watched them go and grinned. He reached into his other pocket and pulled out another, much fatter purse. “Works every time with these drifters,” he gloated. “Just mention the marshal and they always leave.”

~~~000~~~

The two walked up to the bar and ordered a couple of beers.

Once they were served, Heyes held out his hand. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Pitt. We have to be going.”

“Oh, are you two finished?”

The Kid smiled, “Yeah, we have folks expectin’ us so we have to leave.”

“You might say we’re jumping ship,” Heyes laughed.

Pitt laughed,too, then asked curiously, “Did Bligh actually pay you?”

Heyes sighed. “Most of it, but because we’re leaving early he docked us some.”

“Yeah, not as much as he wanted to though. We don’t like folks tryin’ to cheat us,” the Kid explained, looking fierce.

Heyes downed his drink. “Well, Thaddeus, guess we better stock up and get going.”

The Kid, took a last swallow, dropped an extra coin on the bar, and they left after waving farewell to the regulars.

~~~000~~~

The Kid leaned back contentedly, using a twig to clean his teeth after a meal of fried potatoes and fresh rabbit fricasseed in bacon fat. “It may not be the fancy food Bligh is pretendin’ to serve, Heyes, but nature’s bounty will always be there when we need it.”

Heyes grinned back. “And the company’s better too.” He frowned, “But I sure wish we’d been paid all we worked for.”

“Not if Kit Fletcher was comin’. We may not have met him, but you know he’s led posses against us. Say, didn’t you get a bottle or somethin’ as we were leavin?”

Heyes reached into his saddlebag and pulled out the small bottle of whiskey that had been delivered to the livery as they were saddling up. He read the attached note, grinned, and handed both to the Kid.

“From one bunch of mutineers to another, didn’t think you’d last as long as you did.” Signed, “P. Cairn.”

The Kid laughed and held the bottle up to Heyes before taking a gulp and passing it back.


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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:46 am

Preference: Valparaiso Home for Wayward Children—1863
Emma Peirce stood with a group of recently orphaned children in the front hall of the Valparaiso Home for Wayward Children; she, being ten years old, was the oldest of the group. She was one of the few survivors from Lawrence, Kansas a few short weeks before. After the headmaster finished his address to the new arrivals they were split into groups according to age and shown to their respective wards.

A few months after arriving Emma found herself wanting to leave. She had written several letters to the county superintendent and to her aunt and uncle in St. Louis, but the headmaster refused to let her go. So with her dreams of ever seeing her only remaining relatives dashed she got to know many of the other children at the home, she took a special liking to two of the boys at the home, one her own age and his younger cousin who was two years younger.


“Well, they gonna let you outta this place?” Han asked her.

“No, they’re not, Headmaster Hartford won’t even let my aunt and uncle adopt me because they live out of state and apparently that’s against state law; Han I can’t stay here ‘till I’m eighteen, I’ll go mad.” Emma replied, tears threatening to fall from her grey eyes.

“I’ll think of something, and please call me Heyes.”

“How we gonna do it Han, they have the teachers stroll the halls at night to make sure we don’t leave our rooms.” Jed looked to his older cousin for the preferred answer.

“Jed, remember, Grandpa Curry always said, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and I aim to find a way out of here even if it takes me a few years to figure it out.”

oooOOOooo

Eight years later:
It had been three years since Heyes and Jed escaped from hell, or at least that’s what Emma had started to view Valparaiso as since they left. She was now eighteen and for the most part a very headstrong and independent spirit that felt like a caged hawk. She was old enough to leave the home when she wanted, but Headmaster Hartford wanted her to stay and teach the younger children. Again she started to write her letters pleading for her freedom, only instead of the county superintendent she wrote to boarding schools and woman’s colleges around the country, asking for scholarships to further her learning and in general a way out of the dreadful orphanage she found herself trapped for the last eight years.

Eventually her break came in the form of being hired as a maid for a wealthy family in Independence, Missouri. When her twenty-first birthday came the family gave her some money and she moved westward with a wagon train headed for Oregon. When the train reached the recently founded town of Twin Pines she settled in the boarding house and remained there.

Bounty—A story of mistaken identity.

"How are you gentlemen enjoying your stay here in Twin Pines?" The hotel clerk asked.

"It's a nice little town, I don't know about Thaddeus, but I may just stay here indefinitely." Heyes said with a grin.

"I'm with Joshua on this one, Mr. Lambert, I like it here."

"I'm glad to hear that, most young bucks, like yourselves, find our town a little boring." There's a slight pause. "Oh, I was told that someone is looking for you."

"Thaddeus, this town just got on my nerves; I'll get our things from our room while you get the horses."

As the two split to get done faster a woman walked up to the clerk's desk.

"I've checked the saloon and the café and Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones were nowhere to be found." The woman said.

"Did you check the stage depot?" Mr. Lambert asked.

"You said they had horses over at the livery stable." She left to scope out the stage depot and the livery stable.

As Kid brought the horses around back of the hotel, Heyes came down the steps, paid for the room, and asked, "This place have a back door?"

"Yeah, it's in the back,"

Heyes hurried out the back door, tossed the Kid his saddlebags, and then hurriedly mounts his horse.

"Okay, let’s get out of here." As they ride off the woman exited the livery stable with a rented horse, mounted up, and rode off after them.

After a few hours the woman dismounted and knelt down near a fork in the road. From the look of the tracks they had gone to the left of the main trail. She remounted and followed. When night came she kept riding looking for the orange glow of a fire, or the sound of other horses. As she rounded a bend in the trail she heard another horse nicker; she rode toward the sound then dismounted and led her horse to the tree where the others were tied and tied the reins to a low tree branch. In the faint moon light she saw the silver glint on a battered black hat; she knelt down by the sleeping form. She looked around looking for a familiar blonde haired man, after a few minutes she figured that he was keeping the watch a short distance from the fireless campsite.

"Heyes, it's me, Emma Peirce," she said in a low voice.

Heyes jerked awake and drew his gun, Emma found herself on the business end of a bad deal. "Good Lord, Emma, I could have killed you," he holstered his gun, sat up, and wrapped her in a hug. "What are you doing out this way; the Kid and I thought you were some crazed bounty hunter looking for a twenty thousand dollar pay off."

"I was worried about you two, you hadn't sent word in over a year and I was afraid that you two had been sent to prison or some bounty hunter... well you know."

"Tell ya what, you stay out here with us tonight and get yourself home in the morning, I promise the Kid and I will spend the entire winter with you."

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:45 pm

I didn't think the bunny was going to hop, but this popped up as I was drifting off to sleep last night:

Hannibal Heyes was having a well-deserved rest after a couple of busy months of outlawing. Two banks, three trains, and a mine payroll office later, he was now seated on the front porch of the Harwood Inn in peaceful Littleton, Colorado, with his right leg propped up on the railing. Night was closing in, and the crickets had begun their evening concert. Heyes sighed happily and puffed on his imported cigar. He’d ordered up a half dozen earlier in the evening after a fine meal shared with his partner, Kid Curry. The Kid had just gone back inside for a couple of refills of sipping whiskey.

As he watched, a wagon turned off Rapp Avenue into the circular drive and wound its way towards the front of the hotel. Heyes could just make out, in the waning light, a large, hulking tarp-covered object sticking up about four feet above the wagon bed. The burly driver reined up the team, set the brake, and hopped down from the buckboard seat walking tiredly up the steps onto the porch.

“Evening,” said Heyes, congenially. “Looks like the end of a long day for you.”

“Yes Sir, it is. I’m done in, and the ponies can’t go any further,” answered the man.

He was well-dressed despite his menial job and Heyes decided the man must be well-paid, too, if he could afford the steep rates at the Harwood. Curiosity aroused, Heyes smiled and offered the man one of his cigars. “Here, have a smoke and relax for a minute. The hotel’s only half full, so you won’t have any trouble getting a room.” He gestured to the empty chair beside him, the Kid’s chair.

“Thanks, Mr….” the man took the offered cigar and accepted a light.

“Haggleston. Henry Haggleston, but you can call me Hank,” Heyes shook out the match with a broad smile and extended his other hand.

“Nate Owens. I appreciate your generosity, Hank,” Nate sat down heavily on the cushioned wicker chair next to Heyes’s.

The outlaw let his gaze drift to the wagon. “What are you hauling that’s got the team so tired?”

“It’s one of those new-fangled Brooker safes. This one’s supposed to be impossible to crack. Weighs a ton, though I guess I’m being paid good money to deliver it,” sighed Nate.

“A safe, huh?” Heyes was fully alert now. “Where’s it going?”

Kid stepped back out onto the porch with two whiskeys in hand. “Morris, meet Nate Owens; Nate, Morris Flingerhoff.” Heyes took the drinks and handed one to his new friend Nate, leaning across the small table between them. He winced slightly at the movement. His old friend scowled at him and rolled his eyes before going inside to replace his pilfered drink.

“So you were saying, Nate? “

“It’s for Ben Paulson. Who else in Denver is rich enough to have a safe that big in their house?” Nate took a sip.

“Ben Paulson, the railroad mogul?” Heyes was all ears now. He loathed Ben Paulson. The man had been personally responsible for the “dead or alive” language on their wanted posters and had gone so far as to offer a generous bounty to anyone delivering Heyes’s head to him. Heyes happened to feel very attached to his head and resented anyone who would try to part him from it.

“The very same. Seems he’s got himself a new, young wife and the only way he can think to keep her is to shower her with jewelry,” snorted Nate. He took another sip of his whiskey and sighed appreciatively. “I tell you, Hank, you were a godsend tonight.” At that moment, the Kid stepped back onto the porch with his new glass of spirits.

“Nate, good to meet you,” he said in a friendly tone, as he stood leaning against a post. He didn’t know what Heyes was up to, but he’d follow his partner’s lead.

“You too, Morris,” smiled Nate. He looked back at Heyes, “So if you don’t mind my asking, what happened to you? It looks like that leg’s paining you some.”

Heyes chuckled. The man was no slouch. His leg was the reason why he and the Kid had chosen Littleton to rest up in. The last robbery hadn’t gone as planned. Wheat had decided to change things up mid-way through the heist resulting in a bullet through Heyes’s right calf. The outlaw leader had been so furious he’d drawn on his lieutenant and only the Kid’s quick reflexes had prevented bloodshed. It had been his idea to get Heyes as far away as possible from Wheat Carlson. The gang was whooping it up in Denver. “I had a little accident. Danged if I didn’t fall off my horse and shoot myself.”

Nate roared with laughter. “You’re pulling my leg!”

“I swear it’s the honest truth or my name isn’t Henry Haggleston,” Heyes replied, “Ain’t it the truth, Morris?”

“Oh yeah. Good old Hank here can’t ride worth a darn; bounced right out of the saddle. Next thing I know, his gun goes off. Forgot to set his safety,” laughed the Kid. “Hank might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he didn’t deserve that. Did it right in front of the ladies church social. You should’ve heard the laughter…”

“That’s enough, Morris,” said Heyes with a steely edge.

“Why, he landed right in the middle of a mud puddle. Came up blustering and swearing and crying like a baby. You should’ve seen the looks on the ladies’….”

“All right. He gets the picture! I’m clumsy. Now let it go,” snapped Heyes.

“Didn’t mean nothing by it, Hank,” said the Kid innocently. He turns to Nate, “Must be the drugs talking. He don’t tolerate them too well; makes him kind of ill-tempered. Ow!” The Kid rounded on Heyes with his fists clenched. “What did you do that for?”

“Oops, clumsy me again. I was just moving my cane over to where I could reach it.” Heyes was smiling sweetly at the Kid, but his eyes told a different story and the cane was held at the ready. The Kid got the message.

“Well, boys, it’s been real nice chatting with you, but I hear a feather bed calling my name,” Nate rose and nodded at the two men before going inside. The Kid waited a few seconds and then sat down opposite his partner.

“See that wagon the stableboy’s leading off?” Heyes gestured towards the barn, “Guess what’s in the back of it?”

“What?”

“The latest and greatest Brooker safe; must be that new model 303 I’ve been reading up on,” crowed Heyes. “I’m going to go check it out later; you want to come?”

“You’re supposed to be resting up. The doc told you to take it easy,” hissed the Kid.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with my ears or my fingers, Kid. Far as I remember--although I admit I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer--I don’t use my legs to open them,” chuckled Heyes.

“What do you want to open it for, Heyes? You know there ain’t nothing in there,” challenged the Kid.

“I need to practice, don’t I?” Heyes struggled to his feet carefully.

“Sure you do,” the Kid stood, too, and cupped his partner’s elbow to steady him.

“I got it,” Heyes brushed off his hand, “Don’t mother me! Kid, that safe’s going to Ben Paulson’s house. Nate told me Paulson’s got some jewels he wants to secure,” Heyes stood gripping his cane tightly. His leg was throbbing, but he hardly felt the pain he was so excited by the prospect of opening the new safe. “Think about it, if I bust into it tonight; I’ll have the combination. Once Paulson fills it up, I can waltz into his house and get it opened in no time.”

The Kid had that mulish look on his face that Heyes absolutely hated. After a moment, the look was replaced with an evil, slow smile. “Paulson? Ain’t he the fellow that wants your head?”

Heyes laughed wickedly, “Yes, he is.”

“All right, Heyes; I reckon I can give up one night on that soft, feather bed in order to help a friend,” The Kid slung his arm around Heyes’s shoulder in a show of comradeship, but kept a firm grip and piloted his partner safely inside the inn and up to their room.

OOOOOOOOOO

The Kid held the shielded lantern high over Heyes’s back, casting a soft glow on the safe’s dial. He could see the sweat beading on his partner’s forehead and he was wondering if the wound was causing him to fever. It was well after midnight, and they’d been out in the pitch dark stable for nearly an hour and forty minutes. It was too long. Heyes should be in bed resting, not kneeling on the hard, wooden bed of the wagon. The Kid was ready to pull the plug on this operation. “Heyes, it’s time. It’s not gonna open.”

“No, just a few more minutes, Kid. I’ve got the first three numbers, there’s just two to go,” said Heyes sitting up and wiping the sweat out of his eyes.

The Kid held the lantern closer and looked at Heyes’s eyes; they were clear. It wasn’t a fever; it was the sweat of desperation.

“What are you trying to do, blind me?” hissed Heyes, fussily swatting the lantern away.

“Well, maybe you’d hear those tumblers a bit better if you were blind, Heyes,” groused the Kid drawing away.

“Ha Ha, very funny,” Heyes lifted the empty whiskey glass he was holding in his left hand and placed it on the safe leaning his ear against the bottom. His right hand began to deftly manipulate the dial.

“Okay, ten more minutes and then I’m hauling you out of here,” said the Kid.

“Fine. Now shut up, will you?” Heyes had his eyes closed. The sweat sprang to his forehead again and dripped tear-like tracks down the grooves of his dimples. Seconds stretched into long minutes until both outlaws heard the slight, audible click of the final tumbler dropping into place. A tired, but triumphant Heyes smiled up at his hovering partner. “Aha, see? Not a safe built, I can’t get into.”

“I know, Heyes, you’re a criminal genius. What were the last two numbers?” The Kid pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil, waiting for the response.

“Sixteen, and forty-eight. The combination’s thirty-two, five, twenty-three, sixteen, and forty-eight. Is that what you’ve got written down?” the dark-haired outlaw grabbed for the crumpled paper, but his stiffened leg threw him off-balance.

The Kid held the paper up and out of his partner’s reach. “Say, do you remember that fifty dollars you owe me, Heyes?”

OOOOOOOOOO

The next morning, Nate found Heyes and the Kid waiting for him. The stableboy had brought the wagon around front and parked it in preparation for Nate’s departure. As the wagon driver walked down the steps, Heyes wandered around the wagon, “Sure is a beaut, Nate. Why, anyone can see she’s built like a fortress. I’ll bet even Hannibal Heyes himself couldn’t open this fine lady.” Heyes patted the safe reverently while the Kid frowned at him.

“Come to see me off, boys?” asked Nate as he began to check the traces and harnesses.

“Actually, we’re here to ask you for a job,” said the Kid as he watched his partner drooling over the safe.

“A job? Doing what?” Nate was surprised and it showed. He straightened up and turned his full attention to the two men.

“Well, you see, Nate, it’s like this. We’ve spent all our money and now we need to find some work. You know how it is,” grinned Heyes.

“I do know how it is, but I also know it’s not my problem,” said Nate, not altogether friendly any more.

Heyes changed tactics, quickly realizing that the wagon driver was digging in his heels. “Now Nate, this is sort of a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ proposition. You were awful tired last night and I’m betting you’re going to be tired again tonight when you arrive in Denver. Wouldn’t you like to have a little help unloading this monster? Morris here is real strong,” He was talking fast, the words coming in a torrent. Nate was spellbound by the speed of Heyes's tongue. “Now, I can’t do much lifting myself ‘cause of my unfortunate injury, but I can be real useful driving the team and I’m good with numbers. I’ll make sure that cheap rascal, Paulson, doesn’t try to stiff you.”

At the mention of Paulson, Nate’s neutral expression changed. Everyone in these parts knew how parsimonious the railroad man was. He would cheat a five year old out of his last penny. “And what’s all this help going to cost me?”

“Not a cent, Nate. We just need a ride to Denver; we can find jobs there. You see, we ain’t rich men, we’re just honest, hard-working cowboys. When I got hurt, Morris here had to sell the horses to pay for my care. Now that I’m better, I mean to pay him back. Honest man that I am,” Heyes finished breathlessly.

“Morris, does he always talk this much?” asked Nate.

“Only when he’s not inhaling,” answered the Kid.

Nate laughed. “All right, boys, it’s a deal. Heck, I ought to be paying you two for the entertainment.”

OOOOOOOOOO

“Twenty-four, twenty-five. I deducted the other twenty dollars for the vase that idiot broke,” Mr. Paulson glared at Heyes.

“But he broke it when you shoved him into it!” snarled the Kid. It had taken all of the Kid’s self-restraint to not go after Paulson when he had laid his hands on his obviously injured partner. Heyes had been too slow in getting out of the way of the arriving safe carried by the Kid and Nate and the railroad man had ruthlessly shoved him aside, cane and all.

“Boys, let it go. Mr. Paulson knows we can’t fight him,” said a resigned Nate.

Heyes smiled and patted the Kid’s arm after seeing his hand straying towards his gun. “That’s true, Morris. Mr. Paulson’s an awful rich man. Why I bet he has a whole stable of lawyers working for him.” Heyes gave the Kid a look, silently asking him to play along.

Paulson dismissively turned his back on the three workmen.

“Of course, Mr. Paulson also has a great, big old safe he doesn’t have a combination to,” Heyes smiled at Nate. The wagon driver was confused for a second, then his hand flew to his shirt pocket.

“Yes sir, Mr. Paulson, I can’t give you the combination until I’ve been paid in full. Company rules,” Nate held out his hand expectantly.

Paulson turned back and stared at Heyes menacingly. There was something about this man that rubbed him the wrong way. Heyes calmly stared back until Paulson looked away. “Fine, here’s your twenty dollars. Now give me the combination and get off my land. If I see you here again, I’ll have my men fill you with buckshot.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Paulson. You have a real nice day, you hear?” said Heyes.

OOOOOOOOOO

A week later, Heyes and the Kid crept quietly out of the Paulsons'mansion. Their pockets were over flowing with jewels of the finest craftsmanship and each of them carried a canvas sack containing cash and negotiable bonds. There had been an incredible array of valuables stored in the safe. They'd gotten in and out in record time having cased the place while making the delivery a week earlier. Clearing the property boundary, the two partners hurried back to their concealed horses and rode off towards the other side of town. They had a fence already lined up to move the stolen goods. He would also be able to convert the bonds to cash. By tomorrow morning, there’d be nothing left to trace.

“Heyes, what did you write in that note you left?” asked the Kid. He had watched as his partner had scribbled something on a piece of paper and placed it in the barren safe; then shut the door and spun the dial.

“It wasn’t a note, Kid, it was a copy of my wanted poster,” said Heyes.

Kid’s mouth fell open at his partner’s answer. Recovering, he asked, “So what did you write on it?”

“Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner it is bestowed—Samuel Johnson. My bounty in exchange for yours—Hannibal Heyes.” The Kid laughed as Heyes spurred his horse into a gallop and rode ahead into the shadows with his partner by his side.


Last edited by InsideOutlaw on Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:19 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:47 pm

Can someone tell me when this forum became altered in appearance? Or did it start out looking like this? If not, what was the last story that posted normally? Did someone post a story here that was not written in NotePad?

Page 2 is OK. So the code doing this is on this page only.
Found it-so now back to normal.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:59 pm

BJ, not sure when it became altered (for me, the tan background instead of the normal elk/deer scene), but in recent days I have noticed this sub-forum was wider than normal, in that I had to scroll over to read. But when I went back to the forum or portal pages, it was back to its usual appearance (forum on grey background). Could the two be related?
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:07 pm

There has to be some weird code in here. I'll try to work on it tomorrow. I think it may take a bit of time to figure out.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:40 pm

Shows what I know. I noticed the layout looked weird, but I thought it was my computer.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:45 pm

Well, it was weird, but apparently only page 1. So we can continue in this thread. But someone brought some code into page 1 with their story. Remember ladies-use Note Pad for writing, and add all font effects here.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:39 am

Thanks to Inside Outlaw for Beta help.
----------------
Two dusty riders climbed down slowly from tired horses. Tying the horses up to a hitching post in front of a saloon, the men stretched stiff backs.

“What do you think, Kid ?”

“I’m not thinking. I’m too busy trying to decide what I want more, a beer or a beer.”

Heyes gave his partner the one-eye closed look.

“How do you figure that?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Kid Curry said. “Either way, I get what I want.”

Passing through the swinging doors, the men took a quick glance around. The only customers were a few farmers idly playing cards. The bartender was absorbed in a dime novel, but looked up at the sound of the batwing doors squeaking.

“Afternoon, gents, I’m Harvey Bogardus. What can I do for you?”

Heyes leaned his forearms on the bar. “Pleased to meet you, Harvey. I’m Joshua Smith and this here’s Thaddeus Jones. A beer for me. You decided yet what you want, Thaddeus?”

“Make that two.”

Harvey picked up two steins. “Is that one for each of you, or one for you and two for you?”

“Might as well make it two for me,” Curry said. “That’ll save you a trip.” The bartender placed the cold glasses before them. They took long, appreciative drinks.

“You new in town?” Harvey asked.

“Yep. Looking for work,” Heyes said. “Have you heard if anybody’s hiring?”

“Depends on what kind of work you’re looking for.”

“Oh, we’re not too particular. Anything that’s honest and not too hard on the back.”

“Well, there’s always ranch work.”

“Thanks anyway,” Curry said. “We’ll probably ask around town later.”

Harvey returned to his dime novel as the two men drank their beers in companionable silence. Heyes turned around and leaned back against the bar, casually watching the room and who walked by outside. A few minutes later, Curry’s elbow poked into his side. At Heyes’ inquiring glance, Curry nodded towards the bartender. Harvey was staring at them intently.

“Something we can do for you?” Heyes asked.

Harvey folded his novel in half and jammed it into his waistband.

“Matter of fact, maybe I can do something for you. Mind if I ask you a question?”

“You can ask,” Curry said.

“You ever done any bounty hunting?” Harvey didn’t notice that both men tensed up.

“Now that’s a funny question,” Heyes said. “What makes you ask that?”

“The way you look and wear your guns, you look like you can take care of yourselves. I just remembered; there’s someone who’s hiring men who’ve got experience with the law. That describe you?”

“Oh yeah, we got that. Lots of experience. Wouldn’t you say so, Joshua?”

“That’s what he says he’s looking for. It’s honest work, too. If you think you’d be interested, I can tell you where – hey, here he is right now! Now if that ain’t a coincidence!”

Heyes and Curry turned in unison, each wearing a big smile, until they caught sight of the new arrival, a dark-haired mustachioed man wearing a suit and homburg.

Three jaws dropped. The dark-haired man recovered first.

“Boys! I can’t believe it! I was just thinking about you two!”

Heyes and Curry were too surprised to say more than two words. “Harry Briscoe!!”

---

The three men sat around a corner table, quietly catching up over a bottle of whiskey. Harry took long, comfortable drags on his cigar.

“What’s this about you hiring bounty hunters, Harry?” Heyes asked.

“Aren’t you working for Bannerman anymore, Harry? Did you get fired again?”

“No, no, boys. I didn’t get fired. My job was eliminated, that’s all. Bannerman had a reduction in force, and I was affected.”

Mystified, both men looked at each other, and then at Briscoe. “Harry, what are you talking about?” Curry asked.

“It’s simple, boys. Bannerman sold some offices to Pinkerton, including Denver. Pinkerton wanted the accounts, but not the agents. I’m out of a job along with every other agent from the Denver office. That’s when I decided to copy Bannerman’s business model and start my own agency. Bounty hunting is the way to make serious money.”

Heyes and Curry didn’t look impressed. Or happy. Suddenly, light dawned.

“Nothing personal, boys. It’s just business.”

“I can’t believe Bannerman didn’t offer you anything, Harry, after all you’ve done for them,” Kid said. Harry looked uncomfortable, but didn’t answer.

“Harry? Did they offer you something?”

“Well, they, uh, they might have done. A little something.”

Heyes and Curry looked at each other in disbelief.

“You turned down George Bannerman?” Kid asked.

“Well, Thaddeus, it wasn’t George Bannerman himself. They did make an offer, but you know me, I’m a man of pride. I couldn’t take just anything and maintain my self-respect.”

“How about maintaining a roof over your head, Harry?”

“Yeah,” said Heyes. “What exactly did you turn down?”

“Well, boys, they offered me a position in Kansas City.”

“Why didn’t you want that job?” Heyes asked.

Harry sat up straight so suddenly, the other men almost jumped. “It was reporting to Harry Bright, that’s why! Harry Bright! Of all people!”

“That’s the one who hasn’t had a good thing to say about you for 20 years?” Kid said.

“Uh huh,” Harry said. “That’s the one. Can you imagine that?? Harry Bright! Why, that’s even worse than the Galveston deal.”

“What Galveston deal?” Kid asked.

“Bannerman suggested I open up a new office in Galveston. Galveston, of all places! That’s as close as you can get to hell without actually dying!”

“I can’t believe you didn’t want either of those jobs, Harry!” said Heyes.

Curry just shook his head. “Harry, Harry. . . what are we gonna do with you?”

“Boys, boys, don’t be like that. I’m starting out like Bannerman started out, training my own people, in charge of my own destiny. You want to see my marketing flyer?”

“No,” Heyes said, “but hand it over anyway.” Briscoe withdrew a folded paper from his suit pocket. He passed it to Heyes, who took it and read out loud.

”’Looking for excitement, opportunity and bountiful rewards in your career? The Briscoe Agency for Professional Detection and Bounty Hunting! Learn from the best! We train you to be the quicker picker upper!’”

“The what?” Curry said.

Briscoe shrugged modestly. “The quicker picker upper.” Curry still looked confused. “Marketing, Thaddeus. You need a catchy slogan.”

“Wait, Thaddeus, there’s more. ‘Apply now! Your new career awaits! See Harry J. Briscoe, Bannerman Man. Retired.” Heyes folded the poster neatly. “Harry, I’m impressed.”

“Just how many people are in your trainee program so far, Harry?” Kid said.

Briscoe shifted in his chair. “I’m just getting started, Thaddeus. Just getting the word out, the flyers printed. . . “

“So the answer is, zero.”

“Well, technically that’s true. But if you join in with me as consultants, boys, we can turn this business into a gold mine.”

“Help you train bounty hunters, Harry?” Heyes said. “Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. As far we’re concerned, there’s more than enough bounty hunters out there already.”

“No, no, boys, this could work! You know as much about the business as anybody, but from the other side. Why your perspective would be invaluable!”

Heyes considered. “Just how invaluable are you talking, Harry?”

“Joshua, are you crazy?”Kid asked. “You’re not really thinking of doing this, are you?”

“I don’t see why not, Thaddeus. Since when do we turn down honest work?”

“Since it could get us killed, Joshua!”

“Thaddeus, I can see you’re skeptical.” Harry said. “Tell you what. Why don’t you boys let me buy you dinner tonight, and we can talk about the details.”

“Harry, you know me and Thaddeus well enough to know by now, we can be bought. We’ll meet you at eight, and you can tell us how we’re going to train bounty hunters who won’t be going after the bounty on us.”

---

Kid Curry leaned back on his hotel bed. Heyes was combing his hair and admiring his reflection in the mirror.

“I can’t believe he turned down two job offers from Bannerman.”

“Believe it.”

“Heyes, this is all our fault.”

Heyes tore himself away from the mirror to look at his friend. It seemed to be the day for nonsense.

“How is this our fault?”

“We helped him too much. It made him think he was capable.”

“Helping each other is what friends do, Kid.”

“I guess.” Heyes returned to the mirror.

Kid laid back and stared at the ceiling.“Heyes, I don’t know why we’re doing this.”

“Doing what, eating with Harry? Because you and I don’t have enough money to feed you properly.”

Curry sat up. “That’s not what I mean. Why are we talking to Harry about helping him train bounty hunters who’d probably be going after us?”

“Couple of reasons, Kid. First, he did offer to pay for dinner, and we’re not exactly flush. Second, as much as I hate to admit it, he’s our friend. And third, so we can put him out of business.”

“Is putting him out of business the sort of thing a friend does, Heyes?”

“Friends like us, with a healthy sense of self-preservation? Sure. Besides, it’s for his own good.”

“Yeah? How do you figure?”

Heyes sat down on the opposite bed. “If he goes after real criminals – not pretty good bad men like you and me – he’s going to get hurt, maybe even killed. We’re going to keep him alive, and that is something a friend would do.”

“He won’t have any kind of a job then. What’s he supposed to do, become a crook? He’s worse at that than he is at being a detective.”

“Leave it to me, Kid. I’ve got a plan.”

“Oh. Great. I feel so much better.”

“Have a little faith, Kid!” Heyes got up and reached for his suit jacket. “You go ahead and meet Harry. I’ll catch up with you, oh, maybe an hour or so late.”

“Where are you going to be?”

“I’ve got a couple little errands to run. Make some excuse for me, and I’ll be along directly.”

“You gonna let me in on this plan, Heyes?”

“Soon enough, Kid. Just make sure you follow my lead when we’re talking at dinner.”

“If you say so, Heyes. I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”

Heyes paused with his hand on the doorknob. “Kid! I’m hurt! A Hannibal Heyes plan never fails.” He didn’t notice Kid’s expression before he went out.

---
“Thanks for buying dinner, Harry.”

“My pleasure, Thaddeus, my pleasure. Just an inducement. If you boys come on board with me, the sky’ll be the limit.”

Kid doubted it, but he didn’t say so. He took another sip of the wine Harry had ordered and admired the restaurant. Lots of soft lighting, professional uniformed waiters hurrying around unobtrusively, well-dressed people talking in quiet tones, and a fine wine. It was the sort of place he and Heyes hadn’t been able to afford since going straight.

Curry tilted his head back to drain the glass. When he put the glass back down with a thump and a heavy sigh, he saw Hannibal Heyes looking down at him.

“Looks like you took me seriously when I said you should start without me. You two look pretty relaxed already.”

“Like I was saying to Thaddeus a minute ago, Joshua, you’re not going to get another offer like mine.”

“I don’t doubt that, Harry. But before we order and spend the money you haven’t earned yet, I’ve got a few questions,” Heyes said.

“Fire away, Joshua. Partners shouldn’t have secrets.”

“Thank you, Harry. I’m glad you feel that way. Secrets are bad for business, don’t you think?”

“Well,. . . well, sure, Joshua, but . . .”

“For instance,” Heyes said, interrupting. “I’m thinking about your old friends at the Bannerman Detective Agency. Do they know about your little venture?”

“The Agency?” Harry said. He looked uncomfortable. “Well, actually, no, I haven’t discussed it with Bannerman. But that doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t it, Harry?” Heyes smiled sweetly at Harry, who suddenly found his collar a little too tight. “Why, Harry, you’re frowning. Is something wrong?”

Harry forced a smile. “No, of course not, everything’s fine. You know, if you two come in with me, we could put together a training program that’s better than anything Bannerman or Pinkerton has.”

“I admire your optimism, Harry. But frankly, I’m surprised you decided to do this kind of work.”

“Why surprised, Joshua? After all, I’m a Bannerman man. I know the detecting business inside out.”

“Technically, you used to be a Bannerman man, Harry. But that’s beside the point.”

“Oh,” said Harry. “What is the point?”

Heyes leaned forward, causing Harry to lean in, too. “Just this, Harry. You were an employee. You did all the work, and Bannerman took all the credit. Right?”

“Well, yeah. That’s why I’m starting my own business. People are going to hear about Harry Briscoe.”

“Exactly!” Heyes said. He looked expectantly at Harry. Kid watched the interplay between the two men, waiting. Harry was lost. Heyes took pity on him.

“I’m thinking about the danger you’re in, Harry.”

“What danger? I’m not in any danger.”

“Well, no, not yet, Harry. But once your business is up and running, you’ll be a target for every low-down crook and killer out there.”

“I will? How?”

“Because you’re training bounty hunters to go after them! They’ll be swarming all over the bad guys, and it’s all because of you. You’ll need to hire some of your best students to be bodyguards for you. Don’t you think so, Thaddeus?”

Kid was startled, but he recovered fast. “Sure, Joshua. You know, Harry, I got to tell you, I really admire you for risking your life this way.”

“Risking my life? How?”

“By setting yourself up as a target. That takes real courage, especially without the gang – I mean, the Agency – to watch your back. I didn’t know you had it in you. You got my respect, Harry.”

“Oh yeah. . . .thanks. But, uh, I don’t think anybody would go after me. I mean, I’m just small potatoes.”

Heyes smiled brightly and slapped Harry on the back. “Now you’re just being modest, Harry. Bannerman’s business model will make you famous! Think about it.”

“I am thinking about it.” The room seemed to be getting warmer. Harry wiped his forehead with his napkin. Conversation ground to a halt. Heyes and Curry exchanged quick glances.

“How about we order, Harry?” Kid asked. “You must be about as starved as me by now.”

“You boys go ahead,” Harry said. “I think I lost my appetite.”

---

Two men sprinted for the hotel porch as thunder rolled and fat raindrops began to fall. They’d barely jumped the steps, two at a time, when the skies opened up and the rain came down in sheets.

“Sheesh. If this keeps up, nobody’s going to go out for poker. We might as well call it a night.”

Hannibal Heyes turned to watch lightning illuminate the chunks of hail beginning to fall and coat the unpaved street. “For once, I’m in total agreement, Kid. I don’t feel like swimming to the saloon, especially since we did pretty well last night. Let’s just get packed so we can get out of town early tomorrow morning.”

“After breakfast,” Kid said.

Heyes tried not to smile. “Goes without saying, Kid.”

“I thought sure we’d see Harry again. It’s been two days. Wonder where he’s been keeping himself?”

“I couldn’t imagine, Kid.”

Curry looked at his partner. Heyes wore his innocent face. “What do you know that you’re not telling me?”

“Plenty, Kid. Plenty.”
--

They found Harry Briscoe waiting outside their hotel room.

“Well, Harry, we were wondering what happened to you,” Heyes said.

“Invite me in, boys. There’s been a small change in plans.”

Heyes opened the door, and Harry entered and sat down heavily on a bed. His expression was hard to read.

“Well, Harry, what happened?” Kid asked.

“A lot, Kid. Apparently somebody sent telegrams to Bannerman, telling him all about my little venture here.”

“ Is that a problem?”

“Well, I’d forgotten – completely forgotten, mind you! – about the non-compete agreement I had to sign.”

Curry was puzzled. Heyes just nodded, as if he were unsurprised. Harry explained.

“I sort of promised not to compete with Bannerman’s business for two years, and they seem to think my agency is direct competition. They threatened to sue me into the poorhouse.”

Kid settled himself on the other bed. “That’s bad, Harry. Is there anything you can do?”

“Well, that’s the other thing. They offered to drop the whole lawsuit thing if I’d take the job in Galveston. It’d be pretty close to having my own business, since I’d be setting up the office, doing the hiring and training, everything. I got no choice but to accept. So, I’m going to live in Hell.”

“Ah, Harry, cheer up,” Heyes said. “You’ll be in charge. It won’t be the Briscoe Agency, true, but you’ll still be running the office, and you’ll have the whole Bannerman organization backing you up. Besides, Galveston’s a booming town. Lots of opportunity there. That means lots of crooks.”

“Lots of Texans, too. Lucky me. I’ll probably die of heat prostitution before six months are out.”

“I think you mean prostration, Harry.” Heyes said.

“If you’re ever in Galveston, visit my grave.”

“Sure, Harry, if that makes you feel better.” Kid said.

“I just don’t get it, boys. Why would anybody want to tell Bannerman what I was doing or want to shut down my bounty hunting business?”

Kid Curry looked at his partner. Heyes wore his innocent face again.

“I don’t know, Harry, but I’m sure it was someone who had your best interests in mind. And maybe his own, too.”
----
Author's note: When I saw that Bounty was the challenge for this month, my first thought was not of bounty hunters, but of commercials for Bounty paper towels. The tag line for this brand of paper towels is "the quicker picker upper." Someone in chat suggested using that slogan as the starting point, and somehow, my twisted little brain came up with something that barely squeaked in under 3,000 words.

Some modern h.r. phrases snuck in here, too. That reflects my experience as an h.r. manager. The same practices have been going on in business forever. I hope the modern phrases aren't too anachronistic for you

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Join date : 2013-01-13
Age : 21
Location : Indiana

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:45 pm

“Heyes! Watch it!”

“Watch it yourself!”

“Head him off!”

“He’s headed your way, Kid!”

Kid Curry rose from his crouched position and turned, running away from the door of the shack. He leaped over a log a short distance away and knelt behind it. He peeked over it, his blue eyes searching for his partner.

“Heyes?” No answer. Kid raised himself up a bit more, trying to see inside the cabin. “You alright in there, Heyes?”

This time he was rewarded by the muffled voice of Hannibal Heyes. “It’s safe, Kid.” Heyes stepped out of the darkness of the shack, holding a squirming flour sack.

Kid stood and walked toward his brown-haired partner. He put his hands on his hips and looked from the sack and back to Heyes.

“Heyes?”

“Hm?” Heyes was busy tying the sack closed.

“Why did we take this job?”

Heyes glanced at Kid as if his blonde friend had grown another head.* He spoke while tying the sack onto his saddle horn. “You know why.”

“Yeah but is it really worth a bounty of $40 a skunk?”

Heyes paused a moment, considering the question. He leaned against his horse. “Look at it this way; we need the money, right?”

Kid nodded.

“And there weren’t any other jobs available, right?”

Another nod.

“Well it beats getting shot at while guarding or delivering something, right?”

“But, Heyes, I’m-”--Kid stopped, trying to grasp the word he was searching for-- “I’m allergic to skunks.”

Heyes gave an amused look.

“I mean-” Kid made an exasperated sound.

“Yeah well you ain’t the only one who doesn’t wanna get sprayed.” Heyes mounted his mare while Kid fetched his own mount.

“But,” --Kid mounted up-- “why does Kirkwood want live skunks?”

Heyes shrugged and touched his heels to the horse’s sides. “I dunno. But, hey, we’re makin’ easy money, ain’t we?”

Kid made a face but said nothing as they rode on. Easy money? Who was Heyes kidding?

Heyes chattered away about the best ways not to become the target of a skunk’s reeking weapon. Kid was only half-listening. They kept riding until they sighted another line shack ahead. The two temporary skunk hunters halted their mounts in front of it.

Heyes pushed his hat back and leaned on his saddle horn. “Well, Kid…last one.”

“Yep.”

Heyes studied the structure. “Only one door on this one.”

“Yep. Just one.”

Heyes sat up in his saddle and started to pull something out of his pocket. “Kid what do you say if we flip a-”

“Nope! Huh-uh,” Kid started. “It’s all yours, Heyes.”

Heyes looked slightly offended. “But I helped you with the last one.”

“Did I ask you to help?”

“Well…no.”

“No,” Kid said at the same time. “So, Heyes my friend, you can just mosey on in there and I’ll wait right here.” It was hard to hold back the grin; so Kid didn’t try.

Heyes scowled at Kid before disappearing into the shack. Kid could hear soft calls of “Here, skunky. Come ‘ere, you ornery little devil” coming from inside. Then silence. There was a scuffling sound and then a bang, like a plank falling. “Heyes?” There were more noises now. An angry squeal and then Heyes--

“Augh!”

“Heyes?”

Kid’s mount and Heyes’ horse that he was holding snorted. “Whoa, easy.” Heyes’ mare rolled her eyes and pulled against the reins. That’s when the smell reach Kid’s nose.

He quickly backed his horse farther away from the line shack entrance. “How’s the weather in there, Heyes?” He couldn’t resist. He bit back a laugh.

The door opened and the putrid smell became even stronger. Heyes coughed and gagged his way out, holding another flour sack. His eyes burned like crazy. Who knew such a small animal could give off such a bad smell?

His brown eyes shot daggers at Kid who was still guffawing on his horse. “Shut up, Kid! Just shut up!”

He started closer and Kid held his nose. “Woo-ee, you stink.” Kid got another glare for that remark.

Heyes horse danced in a circle as Heyes tried to mount. He finally made it, though his horse hated him for it.

“Uh, Heyes?”

“What?” Heyes said through gritted teeth.

“Maybe you oughta ride behind me. You know. Downwind? You are kinda rank.”

Heyes turned his horse sharply and rode the mare about 15 feet behind the Kid.

“It’s sure a smelly business, huh, Heyes?” Kid grinned goofily and the laughed, riding on ahead.

oooOOOooo

Heyes rode downwind from Kid the whole way back to the Star K Ranch. When they reached the ranch house, Heyes hung back. “Uh, Kid?”

“Yeah?”

“Why don’t you, uh…why don’t you go get our money, huh? I think I’ll wait here.”

Kid tried to hide another grin. Unsuccessfully, of course. “Sure, Heyes.” Kid dismounted and strode up to the big ranch house. He raised his hand to knock but the door opened before he could.

“Well, well, well! Back so soon, Mr. Jones! Did you get the skunks?” Jesse Kirkwood peered around Kid, trying to see the sacks on the horses out in the ranch yard.

“Yes, sir. We got one from four of the line shacks. They’re on those sacks over there.” Kid motioned toward the horses.

“Why’s your friend over there? Tell ‘im to bring over the skunks. I’d like to see ‘em.”

“Uh, well, you see, Mr. Kirkwood, Joshua had a sort of accident. I’m sure you understand.”

“Oh…oh, you mean--?”

Kid nodded. “Yep. Now about the money…”

“I’d like to see the skunks first.”

“I’ll have to go get the sacks.”

“Of course, of course. I’ll wait right here.”

Kid left the porch and went back to the horses. “He wants to see the skunks,” he explained to Heyes.

Kid untied the sacks and brought them back to the porch. He was puzzled when Kirkwood’s eyes widened.

“That-that sack! It moved!”

“Well sure it did, you wanted ‘em alive, didn’t you?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t say they had to be alive; I just said I’d gotten rather fond of the little creatures.”

Kid grit his teeth. “The money, please, Mr. Kirkwood.” He set the four sacks down near the porch.

“Oh! Oh yes, of course! Here you are. It was a $30 bounty for each skunk correct?”

“Forty each.”

Jesse Kirkwood looked up at the steely blue eyes of Kid Curry. He gulped. “Eh, yes, forty it was.” He counted out the money. “There you are. Two-hundred dollars. That’s $40 for four skunks. A pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Jones.” He waved.

Kid glared at him and then made his way back to his horse.

“You get the money?” Heyes asked.

“Yeah. Two-hundred dollars. Got us a bonus.”

“You gotta stop staring down people. C’mon. Let’s get outta here, Kid.” He turned his horse in the direction of the road.

When they were out on the road, Heyes still lingering behind, Kid turned in his saddle. “Hey, Heyes!” He called.

“What?”

“You need a bath!” Kid laughed and spurred his horse farther ahead.

oooOOOooo

*(Heyes glanced at Kid as if his blonde friend had sprouted another head.) This line seems awfully familiar to me; I may have thought of it for a while or I may have read it in someone’s ASJ fanfic. Forgive me if it’s snitched from one of your stories!

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2013 - Bounty   Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:44 am

This is the next installment of the story which started with the Train Hopping challenge. Hope it makes sense to those unfamiliar with it.

The Bounty Jumper
“You on the run?”

“Huh?”

“I asked if ya was on the run.”

Jed flicked a sleeve across his eyes; too old for tears, at least when somebody was watching. He glanced behind him.

Shadows.

The illumination of early morn had not yet filtered through the unaligned boards of the box car. Squinting hard, he could just make out a figure, dark and grey blended with the wood; a specter-like presence, but no ghost this.

A movement.

“What’sa matter, boy? Cat got your tongue?”

A minute shake of blond curls.

The figure inched closer. “You a runaway?”

Jed froze.

“No answer? Yeah, then. So, you’re runnin’. Makes two of us.” A pause. “Come away from the door, boy. Station agents along the line might see ya that close to an openin’.”

The boy glanced outside. Scenery rushed by as the train picked up speed. Heeding what seemed sound advice, he moved to the middle of the car, parked himself against a side, regarded the other.

“That’s better. What’cha got in the bag?”

Surprised, Jed touched a hand to a shoulder. He grabbed the momentarily forgotten bag, brought it to rest in his lap. Softly, “Uh, nothin’.”

“Nothin’? Looks like it’s got somethin’ in it.”

“Just stuff.”

The apparition-like figure moved closer, balancing perfectly against the swing and sway. “Stuff?”

Jed nodded.

At that moment, rising sunlight penetrated the boards. Disembodiment and voice melded: A young man bedight shabbily bowed slightly. Jed cringed, closed ranks within himself.

“No need to be afeared, boy. I ain’t gonna hurt ya.”

The boy swallowed. “I, I ain’t afraid.”

A chuckle, a nod, a grin. Reassurance. “I can see that. Wouldn’t happen to have a razor in that bag, would ya?”

“No.”

“You’re a talkative one, ain’t ya?”

“Uh…no. Well…”

“Don’t matter none, kid. Just that I don’t run into wayfarers young as you. Been travelin’ long?”

Another shake of a blond head.

“Look, boy, I ain’t the law, so I ain’t gonna be lookin’ to take ya back to wherever ya came from. Suppose it’s best we get off on the right foot.” He moved within reach and extended a hand. “Name’s Bruce. Cadger Bruce.”

Jed hesitated a moment, finally offered his own.

They shook.

A scrunch of a nose. “Never heard a name like that before.”

“Ah, he speaks!” Cadger grinned again, eyes twinkling. “Ain’t my real name; just what I’m called.” He studied the boy. “Nice to meet ya...?”

The lad straightened. “Jed.”

“Like I said, nice to meet ya…Jed. Short for Jedediah?”

“Uh huh.”

“Where’d ya last make your residence, Jedediah?”

“Huh?”

“Where ya runnin’ from?”

Blue eyes met…green? Hard to tell in that light. “Rather not say.”

Cadger nodded, seemed deep in thought. “S’okay. Ya don’t have to say.” He knelt. “Been travelin’ long?”

“No.”

“Alone all this time?”

“No.” A bite of a lip.

“Ya get split up?”

“Yeah. Last night.”

Cadger’s grin faded. Even his scraggly red stubble seemed interested. “Ya have a fallin’ out?”

Blue eyes contemplated a loose floorboard. Ruefully, “No.”

“Wha’ happened?”

Jed looked up. Sighed. “I think he fell off the train we were tryin’ to hitch. Couldn’t find him. Then somebody saw me, and I saw the train pullin’ out…”

Bruce rocked back on his heels. “So you’ll be wantin’ to find him.”

A blond nod.

“Where’d ya come from?”

“Kansas.”

Cadger raised an eyebrow. “Ya know you’re headed east?”

Blue eyes saddened. “Yeah. Train was movin’. Had to run…”

“I know how that goes. Ever been on your own?”

Blond curls drooped. Jed shook his head.

A hand reached out, grabbed the boy’s chin. “Hey. No need for that.”

Mournful blue eyes looked at…hazel.

“You’ll find him.”

Jed sniffed, wiped his sleeve across his face, straightened. “Hope so.”

“Ya will. What’s his name?”

“Han.”

Cadger smiled. “And ya thought my name was different.”

“Short for Hannibal.”

“No wonder he goes by Han.”

Jed chuckled.

The young man grinned. “That’s more like it. Can’t make your way in the world goin’ around grievin’. Not if’n ya want somethin’…And you want somethin’!”

The youngster took in the merry glint in the hazel eyes. “Uh huh.”

The redhead’s smile faded. “Mind now, that ain’t gonna be easy, try as ya might. Findin’ your friend might be like tryin’ to find a needle in a haystack.”

“I know…” Blue eyes glanced to the door.

The older wayfarer yawned. “Been a long night.” Dropping to the floor, he stretched out, closed his eyes. “Yessiree.”

Hours, scenery, rolled by in a blur. Lulled asleep, two stowaways lay dreaming – the elder, soundly; the younger, fitfully. Exhaustion claimed Jed, but could not drown out recollection of the lost. Moments of consciousness, and not, and betwixt, dwelt ruefully on a father’s stern but kindly eyes, a sibling’s teasing, a mother’s warm embrace, Han’s…No, not Han!

The boy shuddered. A hand grasped his shoulder, squeezed. Han?

“Wake up, Jed. Best to be awake if sleep ain’t easy.”

The youngster yawned, sat up. Looked at the stranger, nodded.

Cadger grabbed a canteen from his own gunny sack and handed it to Jed. “Thirsty?”

“Uh huh.” The boy took a swig, returned it.

The other did likewise and put it away. Pulled out jerky and offered some. Jed took it, greedily, gratefully.

“There ya go. Things’ll look up. They always do.”

Jed pulled on his jerky. It tasted good. But, anything would to a starving stomach. He waited until Cadger finished. “You’re opta…optamis…”

“Optimistic? Yeah, suppose I am. Have to be in my line of work. Bein' down won’t get ya nowhere.”

Jed’s interest piqued. “What do ya do?”

“Well, let’s see. Drift mostly, like the wind. Kinda a jack of all trades, I guess you’d call it. I ride the rails and try to stay outta the way of the law. Pick up whatever jobs I can afore movin’ on. Reckon we’re kindred souls in that regard.”

“I guess…”

“Yup, we are.”

Jed felt a rush of confidence. “So, what you’re sayin’ is, you’re runnin’, too?”

Cadger Bruce eyed the youngster. “Yeah, Jed, that’s right.”

“What’cha runnin’ from?”

A heavy sigh. “Boy, I’m wanted.”

Ma had always said not to ask after what shouldn’t concern him, but Mrs. Curry’s youngest son couldn’t help himself. “What’d ya do?”

“Nothin’ much. Just signed up with the army during the Recent Unpleasantness.”

Jed was confused. “That’s all? Don't seem like anything the sheriff’d come after ya for.”

Cadger chuckled. “Well, they probably wouldn’t if’n I’d not disappeared.”

Blue eyes grew wide. “You deserted?”

“Um hmm. A few times.”

“Why?”

“Jed, ya ever hear of a bounty?”

“Uh uh.”

“The army paid good money to sign on. I’d get the bounty and go. And when that ran out, I did it again, in another place. And a third time.”

Jed’s eyes went wide. “Ya didn’t fight?”

“Nope. It was a dirty war, and Grant was throwing his boys to the slaughter. Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor…”

Somberly, “I heard of those places.”

“Yup. Hard not to hear ‘bout ‘em. Anyway, the money was good, and I needed some way to eat. So…” A shrug. “I did what I had to do. Ya disapprove?”

Jed looked at the floorboards. Grey-brown and brown-grey, like the train last night; more even, maybe. He shook his head, uncertainly.

Cadger’s tone rose slightly. “Lots of people disapproved. But, like I said – I did what I had to do. No fun bein’ on the wrong side of the law, but it’s where I am. Not a nice place to call home.”

“Where ya from?”

“Philadelphia.” Bruce smiled. “Lot different than Kansas.”

Jed nodded. “I suppose. Ya miss it?”

“Yup. One place I can never go back to, not anytime soon anyway. Bein’ out these parts seems safe enough sometimes, other times not.”

Concern washed over Jed. “What’ll they do if they catch ya?”

Cadger shrugged, matter-of-factly. “Lock me up and throw away the key, if’n they don’t hang me first.”

Fear gripped the lad. “H-h-hang?”

A sigh. “Yup, bounty jumpin’s a capital offense. They’ve hung a lot of ‘em, so…

Jed was silent. Then, softly, “Sorry.”

“Nothin’ to be sorry for, boy. I don’t plan on gettin’ caught. And if’n I’m on the lam long enough, maybe there’ll even be an amnesty for me. Ya never know. People wanna put the war behind ‘em, maybe…Ya just never know.”

“I guess…”

“And if’n you run long enough, somebody’s bound to forget ‘bout you, too. And your friend.”

Jed looked away. He wouldn’t ever forget Han.
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