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 May 2013 - Maybe

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Calico

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PostSubject: May 2013 - Maybe   Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:20 pm

Darling fellow members of the ex-outlaws bathing - I mean appreciation - society...

Appalling amounts of real life call me so I will have to stem my usual eloquent meanderings ...

(Relief sweeps across at least two continents!)

Oh erudite and loquacious ones ... your prompt for this Merry Merry Month of May is...

Is...

MAYBE egcat egcat egcat

Let the keyboard khakophony begin...



Last edited by Calico on Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Mon May 06, 2013 12:23 pm

Maybe
By Maz McCoy


Maybe it was the cold rain blowing in sideways that struck our faces like a handful of needles. Or maybe it was the trickle of ice cold water running down my neck or the constant drip, drip, drip off the end of my hat. Maybe it was ‘cos we were both so tired of running; tired of looking over our shoulders every hour of the day.

Or maybe it was the hardness of the ground we slept on or the chill of the early morning air. Maybe it was the lack of a hot meal as the relentless rain made keeping a fire going damn near impossible. Maybe it was the lack of food that made our stomachs growl or the leathery taste of jerky long past its prime.

Maybe it was the lack of a permanent home, no prospect of a family and the lack of hope for the future.

Whatever it was something proved the final straw that day. Something came between us like an axe splits a log. Something made continuing on together unbearable. I said things no man should say to his best friend and he gave some just as good right back at me. We said stuff we never would have voiced had the day started out differently. But the words were said and we couldn’t take ‘em back.

I rode away. Said my piece, turned my back and urged my horse on. I didn’t look back although I wish I had. Wish I’d got one last look at him. Maybe I’ll never see him again although I hope I will. I hope he’d like to see me too.

Maybe we just need some time apart. Maybe we can put things right between us. Maybe if we meet up again it’ll be okay.

Maybe.

_________________
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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Claybank



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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Thu May 09, 2013 3:09 am

The six ragtag men barely received a glance as they pushed through the swinging doors of the Red Rose Saloon. The card games were in full swing and every table was occupied. Chatter and raucous laughter filled the room as thickly as the cigar smoke that obscured the view across the building.
Big Jim and Wheat made a beeline for an empty space at one end of the bar, followed by most of the other gang members. The newest member of the Devil’s Hole Gang slowly moved between the tables, his heavy leather and sheepskin jacket hanging open to reveal a very serviceable revolver tied down within easy reach.
His eyes skimmed across the crowded room, surveying each man present before moving on. In the back corner beside the faro layout, a quieter game seemed to be attracting higher stakes than the others around the room.
The youthful gunslinger’s gaze stopped at the dealer, dark hair visible under a black hat with a silver concho band. The cards flowed smoothly through his fingers, and there was a careless air to his hands as he tossed a pile of chips into the center of the table.
“I’ll see your five hundred and raise you another five.” Accompanied by an unblinking grin, the words were enough to make the other players fold. Long, slender fingers raked the pot toward the gambler’s already-heaping pile.
A quiver showed at the corner of the gunslinger’s mouth for an instant as he caught a glimpse of the cards being tossed onto the deck. Two of clubs, two of spades, three of clubs, five of diamonds, and ten of hearts. And the next player to the left had folded with three jacks.
He pulled out his gun and pressed the barrel against the back of the gambler’s neck. “Of all the people I never expected to see alive again, you head up the list, Heyes,” he drawled. “Thought for sure someone would have shot you over a poker game without me to watch your back.”
The players across the table shoved their chairs back out of the line of fire and conversation at the nearby tables died away. Heyes’ back snapped razor-straight. “Kid?”
The gun didn’t move. “I’m two years older than the last time we saw each other, and you’re still callin’ me Kid. Well, I got a revolver at the back of your head, and the bullet’ll leave it at the same speed no matter how old I look.”
“Would you shoot him and get it over with so we can keep playin’?” complained a thin cowpoke with a toothpick in the corner of his mouth.
“If he shoots me, you don’t get my winnings,” Heyes retorted. “’Course, if I shoot him, you can loot his pockets. He never has more than a dime or two.” He turned in his chair as the gun fell away from his head and allowed him to stand. “Ain’t that right, Kid?”
The Kid’s face slowly split into a grin. “That’s right.” They stared at one another for a heartbeat, blue eyes meeting brown, and then grabbed each other in a bear hug.
“Guess we don’t get to check his pockets,” the laconic cowboy decided.
“It’s good to see ya, Heyes.” The Kid released his friend and thumped him on the shoulder. “What’re you doin’ here?”
Heyes grinned. “Cleanin’ these boys out before I shoot the lot of them for cheatin’ at cards.”
“Hey!” protested a gray-haired man with a handlebar mustache.
“Relax, folks,” Curry winked as he pulled off Heyes’ hat and scooped his winnings into it, then took a handful of chips and tossed them back on the table. “Have a drink on him.”
Heyes snatched his hat back. “I didn’t want to buy the drinks!”
“Look at it as a celebration of our reunion.” Curry pulled him to a table and dismissed Lom and Hank with a jerk of his head.
“We just sat down,” Hank protested.
“Now boys, you don’t mind if I have a little privacy to talk to my pal Kid Curry, do you?” Heyes flashed a smile at the gang members and pulled out a chair as though he fully expected them to leave, and both men picked up their drinks and moved away.
“They don’t even obey Big Jim like that,” the Kid chuckled.
“Big Jim Santana . . . you ridin’ with the Devil’s Hole outfit?” Heyes leaned his elbows on the table.
The Kid slouched back in his chair. “Yep, since last week. Just pulled our first job tonight over to Muddy Hole. ‘Fore that I was up in Montana Territory playin’ hide an’ seek with a posse or two. What about you? Last I heard you were in Arizona.”
“I was. I got in a poker game with the wrong men and figured I better hightail it out of the Territory before one of ‘em sent Brannon after me.”
“Got any fixed plans?” Curry inquired, already confident of the answer. “Seems like the gang could use another man, especially one with your brains. You never know, Big Jim might take a likin’ to ya. He don’t seem too fond of me, but I reckon he knows that he needs my fast gun.”
“Maybe.” Heyes began to stack the poker chips on the table according to color.
“Come on, Heyes!” The Kid rolled his eyes impatiently.
Heyes grinned. “Aw, I’m just teasin’ ya, Kid. Ain’t no way we’re gonna ride separate trails again. Who knows? We might become the greatest team ever heard of in the outlaw business!”
It was Curry’s turn to give a noncommittal shrug. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
“I’ll drink to that.” Heyes reached out and snatched two glasses from a loaded tray that a bartender was carrying past their table, handing one to his friend. “Here you go, Kid. To Heyes and Curry, big-time outlaws—maybe!”
The glasses clinked together.
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Thu May 09, 2013 7:55 am

MAYBE

“Have we lost ‘em?” gasped the Kid, leaning one arm down onto his horse’s mane and resting, then looking over at his partner whose eyes were glued to the landscape beneath them. The rocky climb had taken his and his horse’s last few ounces of energy and he doubted he had enough strength left to dismount. The animal beneath him blew mightily and shook his lathered neck to flick off the foam tickling its nostrils.

“Maybe.” Heyes rocked up and down with the heaving of his own animal.

“Think you could be a little more specific, Heyes?”

“No.”

“Sheesh, it’s been four whole days. When was the last time it took us four days to shake a posse?”

No answer. Heyes’s concentration was absolute. His eyes strained to the horizon scanning for the smallest puff of dust or movement below.

“What do you see?”

“Nothing.”

“Well, that’s good, ain’t it?”

Dark eyes swung around to meet tired blue ones. “Don’t mean they’re not out there, Kid, you know that.”

“So what do you want to do?”

Heyes’s shoulders slumped. “I want to sleep for a week, but I think we better keep going. Let’s try for that line shack on the west side of the Laramies. We ought to be able make it before sundown.”

“Why so far?”

A scowl replaced Heyes’s weary expression and he snapped, “You’re just full of questions, ain’t you?” He spurred his gelding and the small blazed-face sorrel responded with a slow, unsteady jog. The Kid watched his friend ride nearly out of sight before urging his own tired horse to doggedly follow the trail.

OOOOOOOOOO

The ride had ended long before they’d reached the line shack. The weather had turned foul and a steady, heavy rain had washed away their trail and put an end to the posse’s pursuit. It was a stroke of luck the two outlaws had needed badly, but it hadn’t felt that way. By dusk, they were completely exhausted and soaked to the bone, shivering hard. They’d called it quits when they found a cave tucked back under a large overhang big enough to shelter both them and the horses. Shaking with the cold, the two men had silently set up camp deep in the back of the cave and built a small, hot fire to dry their gear and cook their first warm meal in days. The smoke would drift up to the overhang and dissipate before it slid out of the cave.

The Kid didn’t feel much like talking, but his partner had been unusually quiet all day and that wasn’t at all like Heyes. He covertly studied him from under the drenched brim of his floppy brown hat. Heyes sat quietly staring into the flames, a small frown tugging down the corners of his normally cheerful face.

That damn Columbine job had been jinxed from the get-go. Despite weeks of intense planning, nothing had gone right. Riley’s horse had stepped in a gopher hole and gone down lame not two miles from the Hole and that meant they’d had to leave another man behind with him to make sure he got safely back home which, in turn, made them two men short. He should’ve called it right then and there. Heyes would’ve put up an argument, but the Kid knew when all was said and done he could’ve talked him around.

The gang had nearly reached the ambush site when a freak cloudburst in the mountains that morning had sent a wall of water cascading down the stream they had to cross. It had swollen into a raging river. Heyes had warned Kyle to keep the dynamite dry, but how could he when the horses all had to swim what was usually a small stream? Kyle had tucked the bag of explosives into the front of his jacket and it should’ve been safe there, but his small gelding had been struck by a log careening down the current and had been knocked off-balance. The horse had nearly capsized and only some quick thinking by Kyle had kept them both from being swept away. The small outlaw had plunged into the icy waters before his animal righted itself and he had forgotten all about the dynamite. The rest of the gang had grumbled loudly about the wet crossing, Wheat being the loudest.

That was another thing. Why was Heyes putting up with Wheat’s needling? It seemed like lately his partner was losing his grip on the gang and that wasn’t like Heyes either. Wheat had always been uppity, but Heyes never let it slide before. This time, he’d just stood by passively while Wheat had seized control of the safe and the gang. Heyes hadn’t done more than make a snide comment and step aside. In the past, Heyes would’ve taken Wheat apart for smart-mouthing him, but, recently, the Kid had noticed he just ignored the gibes and let the big man rant on. Worse, the gang was listening. The Kid kept an eye on the men and made sure they knew he was backing Heyes’s plays, but why wasn’t his partner stepping up for himself anymore? He had a feeling he knew, but he couldn’t come right out and ask. Not that. Not now.

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes felt the Kid’s eyes on him and he knew his partner was fretting over the botched robbery. He, too, hated leaving fifty grand in the bottom of that lake, but there hadn’t been any other choice; not after Wheat had sent it bouncing off the rocks and into the water. Why had he let that numbskull take over like that? He knew, though. He just didn’t care anymore.

Sure, they needed the money, but how long did it last anyway? It ran through their fingers like the rain falling from the sky. What was the point? They’d proven a long time ago that they were the best, what more was there to do? Heyes was tired of it all; tired of keeping his men in line, tired of coming up with new plans, altogether tired of outlawing. The shine had worn off a long time ago for him, but there was only one way out of this corner he’d painted himself and the Kid into and he wasn’t ready to die yet or go to prison; neither was his partner. Maybe he ought to consider Mexico or South America. The Kid was ready. He’d made the suggestion time and again, but Heyes had always joked that he didn’t speak South American. Like he, self-proclaimed genius that he was, couldn’t learn a new language? Maybe they should do it.

“You think Wheat and the boys got away?” asked the Kid, breaking into Heyes’s thoughts.

“Don’t know, maybe.”

“What’s eatin' at you, Heyes? So what if the job went south? We got away and you can figure out some other brilliant idea to make us rich for a while,” growled the Kid harshly. He couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of his words. He was too exhausted and too sick of running and he was quickly losing patience with his partner.

“I’m done, Kid.” Heyes said it so softly his cousin had trouble hearing him.

“What do you mean you’re done?”

“I can’t do this anymore,” mumbled the dark-haired man.

“This? You mean stealin'?” The Kid straightened up; not tired at all anymore, but listening intently to his partner. Heyes nodded. “What are you sayin'? Do you want to quit?”

“Yeah, I want to quit. Maybe go south.”

The Kid considered his partner’s words. Heyes didn’t want to go south. He’d made that plain a long time ago, but unless they went south, they were done for. Only the safety of a gang had kept them alive this long. If they quit the Devil’s Hole gang, it was only a matter of time before they were caught and killed or put away forever. The thought chilled him again and he put his hands out to warm them over the dying flames. The embers had turned red hot putting out tremendous heat. Thank goodness he’d had that map in his pocket. It had been enough dry paper to start the wet kindling on fire. He still had some more if it kept on raining tomorrow. He patted his pocket, reassuring himself that the crumpled flyer was still there. The flyer. He looked up and over at his friend.

“Heyes.”

“Hmm?” Heyes looked up, too.

“Maybe we should think about tryin’ for an amnesty.”

“I told you, Kid, that’s for small-time grifters and chicken thieves, not for guys like us,” snapped Heyes. He stood up and dusted the dirt off his pants.

“How do you know that for sure?” said the Kid quietly as the fire popped loudly.

“What?”

Clearing his dry throat, the Kid spoke up louder. “I said: how do you know that for sure? Look, we haven’t got too many options here; maybe we ought to look into it. What’s the worst that could happen? The governor might say no and we wouldn’t be any worse off than we are now; but if he said yes…” He grinned his most winning smile at Heyes who looked back at him blankly.

Slowly, a small corner of Heyes’s mouth crept up, his dimples deepened and, suddenly, that incredible smile split his face. The Kid started to laugh and stood up. Heyes was laughing now, too, and threw his arms around his cousin, pulling him into a bear hug.

“When did you get so damned smart?” said Heyes, swinging him around.

“So are we going to try?”

“Yeah, we’ll try. I’m thinking we ride into Porterville tomorrow and see our good old friend, Lom.”

“Porterville? I thought we were steerin' clear of Porterville,” said the Kid.

Heyes released him and began to circle around the cave, pacing and thinking hard. “We’ll need someone on our side, Kid. Someone we can trust to act as a go between for us and the governor. We can’t go prancing into the governor’s office and just ask him to give us an amnesty, he’d throw us in irons. We need to send someone to test the waters for us and I’m thinking maybe I can talk Lom into being that someone.”

The Kid watched his friend. Heyes’s face was lit up with the possibilities. He could tell that he was seizing on the idea like a dog on an old bone. It was what his partner always needed, a challenge, an impossible task to conquer. He knew Heyes would be all right, they would be all right. Together they would try for the amnesty and who knows? Maybe….
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Yope1995

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Mon May 13, 2013 10:10 am

Two drenched figures sit on the porch of a cabin out in the pouring rain. Water had formed miniature ponds and rivers, snaking past their muddy boots. Thunder rumbles causing the black hat to tilt slightly as the wearer looks up; rainwater cascades off the hat’s brim.

A noisy sigh erupts from the hat’s wearer. “Don’t think it’s stopping anytime soon.”

“Nope,” comes a curt reply.

“Well, Kid, I tol-”

Don’t say it,” Kid Curry grumbles.

“Okay. Fine. Not sayin’ it.” Another sigh. “Sure is wet.” Pause. “I think my boots are full of water.” A grunt as a boot is removed. “Yep, sure are.” Splash! Water pours out of the worn footwear. “Y’know, Kid, if you had-”

“Alright, fine! So I forgot the key!”

Innocent brown eyes look up. “I’m not blaming you, Kid.”

“Good.”

Thunder grumbles and rolls across the darkened sky.

“ ‘Course maybe if you hadn’t been smitten with Miss Deb-”

“So maybe I didn’t see those fellas eyein’ you at the poker table.”

“I’ll say you didn’t,” Heyes snorts. “I almost got my head blown off.”

“It’s a lucky thing that calico cat launched herself at his face.”

“Yeah, where’d she come from anyway?”

“Dunno.”

Heyes starts wringing out his socks. “Guess we’ll have to find some horses and gear.”

“Yep.”

“Kid?”

“Nobody better find out about-”

“Nobody’ll hear it from me.”

“Good.”

Silence except for the patter of rain and Heyes’ dripping socks.

“You ever hear of that gang?”

Kid shakes his head. “Nope, and I’m sure an outfit like that would stick in my mind.”

“Imagine an all female gang. Tsk. Don’t know what this world’s comin’ to.”

“That Wichita gal had the nerve to take my favorite gun,” Kid grumbles.

“Yeah...I barely got my hat back from those two who were arguing over it.”

“Lucky thing we got away.”

“That’s one robbery that isn’t getting’ reported.”

“Nope...They sure were a determined bunch. Think maybe we’ll run into ‘em again?”

“Maybe so, Kid. Maybe so.”

_________________
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Happy 70th, John!
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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Wed May 15, 2013 7:54 am

Maybe

“…And I said this is a bad idea!”

“Well, you got any better ideas? No! Of course you don’t. We’re going because we need to keep Mac on our side, we need the money, and he knows who we are.”

A disgruntled grunt was the only response.

The two rode quietly, letting the argument fade. The warm sun filtered through the leaves shading the trail. It glinted off the lake up ahead sending shafts of light darting through the trees.

“Looks like good place to set up for the night by that water up there.”

“Yeah, seems real peaceful here, too”

Now, the two riders ambled along, taking their time and letting the horses set the pace until the lake was off to their side. Then they turned off the trail and wove through the trees until they reached the shore, where a slight breeze cooled the air just enough.

The men went about the business of setting up camp. Once a pot had been set to boil for coffee, the two settled down by the small fire. Heyes stretched out, cushioning his head in his arms. “This is the life, ain’t it Kid?”

“It’s pretty nice, alright.”

“So you agree, tomorrow we head down to Red Rock and see what Mac wants?”

“I still think it’s a bad idea. This better not be about that danged bust.”

“Relax, remember Armendariz gave that thing to Carlotta as a wedding present, along with the land. That feud is over.”

The Kid snorted, but said nothing. He sat looking around the clearing.

“Look. Berries! Remember how much we liked pickin’ ‘em as kids?”

Heyes sat up and looked where the Kid was pointing. He brightened, stood, walked four paces towards the brambles and flung a rock as hard as he could into the middle of the berry patch. After a moment -- “No bears, let’s go.”

~~~000~~~

With both their mouths and chins red from the berry juice dripping down them, they continued to pick and eat contentedly.

“Ouch!” Heyes suddenly exclaimed and slapped his neck.

“You’re supposed to avoid the thorns, Heyes.”

“It’s not that. Something bit me.” He pulled his hand away from his neck and looked. “It was just a bee. Dang that smarts.” He dropped the crushed bee and wiped his hands on the back of his pants.

The Kid rolled his eyes and went back to gathering berries for breakfast, now that he had eaten his fill for the moment.

~~~000~~~

The Kid pulled the coffee off the fire and looked over at Heyes’ bed roll and frowned. The man had not moved a muscle! It was unlike Heyes to sleep in when the Kid was making a racket getting breakfast. He walked over and kicked the recumbent form.

“Heyes! Get up. I’ve got some coffee.”

Brown eyes appeared over the top of the blanket and contemplated the man standing above him. “Is it morning already?”

“That’s usually what the sun shinin’ from the East means. Come on, get movin’, you’re the one wantin’ to make tracks down to Red Rock, remember?”

Heyes sat up and stretched. He slowly got up, took the coffee from the Kid, and walked abstractedly over to a convenient log, where he sat and contemplated the steam rising from his cup. He reached up and mindlessly scratched at his neck where he’d been bitten the previous evening.

“So how quick do you think we can get to Mac’s? It sure would be nice to sleep in a soft bed and Carlotta puts on quite a spread.” The Kid handed Heyes a bowl with berries and a warmed biscuit. “Let’s see… It’s May fifth now. I think if we push it we could be there by the twelfth, fifteenth at the latest.”

Heyes looked up. “Mac’s? Maybe we shouldn’t go.”

“What do you mean, maybe we shouldn’t go? Yesterday I couldn’t get you to stop tellin’ me all the reasons why we should go.”

“Maybe you were right; we shouldn’t go.”

“You feelin’ okay?”

“Sure, why?”

“I can’t remember the last time you said I was right and you were wrong.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Maybe we should just do something else, I don’t know go see Silky or something?”

“Why would we go see, Silky? You know we don’t have the money for San Francisco.”

“I guess so, maybe that’s not such a good idea.”

The Kid snorted and the two ate their meal quietly.

~~~000~~~

Heyes hesitated before mounting his horse. The Kid watched him closely through narrowed eyes, but said nothing.

They rode out to the trail they’d been following the previous evening. Heyes paused, looked to the left and the right down the trail then back over his shoulder to the lake they had just left. “I don’t know, Kid, maybe we should just rest up here for a day or two.”

“What has got into you, today? I have never seen you have this much trouble makin’ up your mind. You sure you’re feelin’ okay?”

“Of course, I am. Maybe I’m just tired of making all the decisions. Why don’t you try it for a change?”

The Kid opened his mouth to retort in kind then closed it without uttering a sound. He frowned at Heyes. Finally, “Let’s just head on down to Mac’s.”

He shook his head and rode out onto the trail, Heyes following.

“I don’t know,” Heyes called. “Sure seems odd, you riding ahead like that. Maybe we should do this more often.”

“I think that sting gave you a bad case of the maybes. I’ve never heard you like this before. If we hustle we can make it to Red Rock in a week instead of ten days.”

Heyes watched the Kid’s back and smiled to himself – ‘and maybe I just figured out how to get you to stop arguing with me.’ He chuckled quietly and urged his horse on to follow.


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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Wed May 29, 2013 8:38 pm

June 3, 1880
Dearest Mother:

It was so good to hear that you and Daddy are enjoying your grand tour of the continent. I can hardly imagine Venice, a city where all the streets are canals! I am sure that spending the summer in Brighton will be delightful for you both. Here in Porterville, summer is starting dry and dusty.

I am so glad that Daddy is proud of me, and the way I’ve run the bank during his long absence! Only you, dear Mother, can know how badly I want to impress Daddy. Especially after the attempted robbery! Oh Mother, if it weren’t for Sheriff Trevor’s friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, things could have gone from bad to worse very quickly. If I live to be 100, I will always remember the sight of all the paper money floating down from the sky like big snowflakes.

Unfortunately, you will probably not get a chance to meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. Lom said that they had urgent business elsewhere, and they were gone the next morning. They were both very charming, especially Mr. Jones. Maybe they will visit Porterville again, but Lom says it’s not very likely. Oh well.

Please let Daddy know that I do consult with Sheriff Trevors regularly, as he suggested. Lom is certainly very diligent about his responsibilities, and very trustworthy. Who would have expected that from a former outlaw? Reverend Tripp thinks it is because he is trying to make up for his disgraceful past. He thinks the Sheriff should always set an example, especially in regards to young ladies. Maybe the Reverend is right on both counts. Lom is especially proper and formal with me. Faith Evans thinks that maybe it is because he admires me, but is too shy to say so. That hardly seems possible to me. A man who was brave enough to commit armed robbery in the past could not be afraid of someone such as me.

Well, enough with the maybes for now. I will write again next week about all the latest developments. I am sure you hope that an exploding tunnel is not one of them!

Your loving daughter, Caroline Porter

----

June 12, 1880
Dearest Mother:

Some good news! I took Daddy’s advice, and asked Sheriff Trevors to make the rounds and let people know that “found” money could be returned, no questions asked. He recovered $183!! That means the total loss to the bank is now only $47.53! Isn’t it amazing? He truly is a remarkable man. Porterville is so lucky to have him.

I was a little bold, Mother, but I want you to know, I acted only as a responsible and grateful bank manager should. I told him I would like to take him to dinner, to discuss business, of course. Would you believe it, Mother, I think he actually blushed! At first he said he could not allow a young lady to purchase dinner for an old man like himself. How silly! He may have a few gray hairs, but he is certainly not old!

I explained to him that I was asking in my role as bank manager. He said “Oh.” And then “Oh. I see.” And he just looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet. Honestly, Mother, it was so sweet. He looked like a small boy whose candy had been stolen. I realized, suddenly, that he must be very lonely. I think maybe Reverend Tripp is right. Lom has dedicated himself to making good for all the ill he did when he was much younger, so much so that he takes very little time for pleasure. I’ve never even heard of his courting anyone, although he is certainly a handsome man and an eligible catch.

Well, Mother, for a moment there, I didn’t know what to say. I know you are thinking “that never happens!” But it is true. My heart just went out to him. Finally, I said, as humbly as I could, I might be making the request as a bank manager, but that I hoped we could spend the evening together as friends and neighbors. At this, he cleared his throat, and said that would be perfectly appropriate, and that I should expect him at 7:00pm.

I wish you were here, Mother, to help me choose the appropriate dress for tonight. When Mr. Jones took me to dinner that one time, I’m afraid I overdressed. I was probably trying too hard to impress him. Unlike Mr. Jones, Lom and I already know each other, and I can enjoy my time with him as I would with any friend.

I will write more in a day or so, Mother, because I need time to get ready for our dinner tonight. I will tell you all about it!

Your loving daughter, Caroline Porter

--------------

June 30, 1880
Dearest Mother,

I apologize sincerely for being so lax about writing. The last several days have been a bit of a whirlwind, what with the reconstruction of the bank proceeding so quickly. The building will be bigger and safer than ever, and we will absolutely make sure that even the most determined miner cannot tunnel underneath ever again!

I have found myself spending quite a bit of time with Lom. His ideas on security for the bank are excellent, and we have had many long conversations touching on that, but also many other subjects.

Do you remember, Mother, how I told you that I convinced Lom to have dinner with me by stressing our connection as friends and neighbors. Maybe that is where it all started. Our conversation seemed awkward, at first. Maybe Lom still thought of me as a young girl, the indulged daughter of a wealthy family. Maybe I thought of Lom as conservative older man, so wrapped up in his duties that he had no time for things like courting.

Lom did insist he would pay for dinner, but I said, as a friend, that he must allow me to purchase the wine. He agreed to do that, and that good wine probably loosened our tongues a bit. Not that mine really needed to be loosened! But the Madeira helped him to relax, and I suppose it helped me, too. We stayed the whole evening at the restaurant, talking naturally and easily for hours, until closing time.

He walked me home that night, since it was late, and very properly took me to the front door, and came inside only long enough to make sure everything was as it should be. As he was leaving, he stopped with his hand on the door handle and became shy again. He asked, would my parents think it acceptable if I accompanied him to dinner again? Oh Mother, my ladylike demeanor came in handy then, because my heart started pounding so hard in my chest. I only said, I’m sure they would, since they specifically told me to rely on you, and for my own part, well . . . I was hoping you would ask.

You’ve told me, Mother, on more than one occasion, that a young lady must constantly be on her guard, and that I am probably a bit too naïve and trusting. I have made extra efforts to be always on my best behavior, as I think you know, and to make you and Daddy proud of me. You have always told me that a lady’s reputation is priceless, and I have never forgotten that. I assure you, no one can say that I am anything but a proper lady in public.

When I’m with Lom, though, I feel as though I can always be just me. He has known me since I was a young girl, after all. He accepts me for who I truly am, not who society or my job demand I be.

How did I ever think Lom was brusque or unfeeling? Even with all his accomplishments, he has a sensitive soul, and he hides it with formality. The more time I spend with him, the more I see the tenderness that has somehow survived a hard and unhappy life. After all the bad things he’s seen and experienced, he still has a kind and caring heart.

And, I admit that I am young enough, even at age 23, to admire his physical features. Some people have said his blue eyes can be cold, and I suppose they are, if you are a criminal. To me, they are the windows to his beautiful soul. And he is such a tall man! I feel completely safe and protected when I am with him.

I must close now. Lom is meeting me in half an hour. Can you believe I need so little time to get ready? I think it is because he and I are so comfortable with each other. There is no need for pretense. I am very happy.

Your loving daughter, Caroline Porter

-----

August 3, 1880
Dearest Mother,

I received a packet of delayed letters from you yesterday and stayed up much too late, reading them all. I do miss you and your sensible advice, and am grateful that you always have my best interests in mind.

I am so, so sorry to hear that Daddy broke his leg during his first fox hunt, but glad to learn that he is expected to fully recover. Of course, that will delay your return till November, but let me assure you, you and he have nothing to worry about here. Everything is going exceedingly well with the bank. The reputation of Porterville, its sheriff, and our bank, have grown even brighter since the attempted robbery this spring. New businesses and homes are springing up faster than weeds, and that only contributes to the growth of the bank’s business.

I must express surprise, however, at your rather unexpected insistence that I distance myself from Lom. It was you and Daddy who strongly advised me to take advantage of his expertise and wisdom and to lean on him. When I do exactly that, you become alarmed. This is very confusing.

You and Daddy left me in charge of the bank because, and I quote you directly, “we trust your good judgment.” As you trusted me then, you must trust me now, especially since your return is delayed several weeks. I may be young, as you remind me, but I am not unintelligent. I know that the young men who courted me in the past were encouraged by you and Daddy, and that you were disappointed I discouraged them. I think it is a mark of my intelligence that I did discourage them. They were so young, almost unformed! And many of them cared more for Daddy’s money than for me. Don’t deny it, for you know it is true.

Why are you concerned about Lom’s only having a sheriff’s salary? How is that relevant to anything? He is a good, kind man, who cares about me. And I care about him, so very much.

Please don’t fret, Mother. All is well in Porterville. I have your good advice to guide me, of course, but I must rely on my own sense and my own heart, because that is what ultimately will ensure my future happiness.

Your loving daughter, Caroline Porter

----

September 20, 1880
Dearest Mother,

Another bundle of letters has arrived from you, but I confess, I have not opened them yet. I hope you are sitting down, because I have tremendous news. Lom has proposed marriage to me, and I have accepted his offer. I nearly burst open with joy. He actually went down on one knee, took my hand in his, and spoke from his heart. He apologized that all he could offer me was the kind of living that a sheriff could provide, and he knew that was less than I was used to. Of course, I had not yet told him about the inheritance that you and Daddy settled on me when I was 21, so he did not know that money would not be a concern.

He promised to always love me and cherish me, and to do all he could to make me happy. I cried, and I think he had tears in his eyes, too. And we kissed, for the first time, but surely not the last.

But that is not the biggest news. I told him only one thing would make me happier than I was at that moment, and that was being with him, as his wife, as soon as possible. He thought that I would prefer to wait until your return, but I told him I did not want to wait to begin our life together. So, ten days later, we stood in Reverend Tripp’s church and, in front of our friends and neighbors, became man and wife.

Lom’s friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, returned to Porterville for the wedding. Mr. Jones walked me down the aisle, and Mr. Smith served as Lom’s best man. It was so wonderful to have them here, to support Lom. They teased Lom, of course, as men do, but you could tell they were so happy for him.

I hope you will be as happy for me as Lom’s friends were for him. Mother, I never thought I could know such happiness. It all happened so quickly, over the course of this summer, and I know you expressed concern about me getting involved so fast. Maybe you were right to be concerned. I did get involved, very quickly. And I regret nothing.

We spent our first night as man and wife in the guest suite at home. I told Lom I knew it’s what you would have wanted. We plan to take a honeymoon trip after you and Daddy return in November, probably just a week to Glenwood Hot Springs. And then we will be settled into our married life. Maybe, if we are very lucky, I will be in the family way by the time of your return.

Who would have believed all this would happen? I certainly did not, and from the tone of your letters, neither did you or Daddy. Yet it did.

I will read your letters in a day or two. Lom will be home shortly, and I want to spend every precious moment I can with my wonderful husband.

Your loving daughter, Caroline Porter Trevors

_________________
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

"The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Fri May 31, 2013 1:30 am

Maybe...

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I'll no longer be a Capulet…

“Isn’t that romantic? I could just melt!”

Snore…

“Thaddeus?!”

“Hmm?”

“How can you fall asleep through a reading of ‘Romeo and Juliet’?”

Kid Curry stretched. “Is that what it is?”

Annabelle frowned. “Yes, of course! Don’t you know this scene? It’s the most famous in the whole play!”

Kid lifted his hat from his countenance. “Annabelle, that’s not exactly what my folks or teachers had us readin’. Can’t imagine yours did, either.”

The young woman sighed. “Well, maybe, maybe not.” A pause. “But, that doesn’t mean a person can’t better themselves with culture, no matter where they come from. It’s what the Four Hundred do.” She nodded to make her point.

The ex-outlaw shifted to his side and propped himself up on an elbow. “Not the Four Hundred again.”

“What have you got against the Four Hundred?”

“Nothin’. You really want me to believe that’s where you’re from?”

Annabelle looked away momentarily. “I told you – it IS where I’m from,” she said emphatically.

Blue eyes rolled as the sandy-haired man lay on his back, replacing the hat on his face. “Uh huh. Sounds improbable.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Improbable?”

“Yup.”

“Sorry, Thaddeus, but after spending only a short time with you, it seems ‘improbable’ you’d use a word like that – unless you’re also not exactly who you seem. Maybe you’re my male counterpart.”

“Hardly.” He yawned.

Her eyes sparkled. “Well, not hardly. Why not have a man from the Four Hundred doing exactly what I’m doing? Maybe the Fates meant for us to meet up like this.”

Kid chuckled. “Nope. I’m not from any four hundred; more like two – me and my partner.” Soberly, “And fate’s never been kind to us.”

Her smile faded. “I’m sorry to hear that. If not the Four Hundred, maybe you’re from society where you’re from.”

“Nope. Kansas didn’t have ‘society,’ not in the way I think you mean it.”

“Oh, now, every town has its society, even if it’s only the important people in town.”

Kid once again lifted his hat, this time gracefully rolling to a sitting position. He sighed. “Well, looks like I ain’t gonna get any more shut-eye with you talkin’ on.” He looked at her. “You remind me of my partner, ‘cept you’re prettier.”

She lowered her eyes. “Well…thank you. I…”

The ex-outlaw laughed. “So the cat’s got your tongue? My partner has one up on ya there. He’s got a silver tongue – doesn’t get tripped up too often with something to say.”

Annabelle sat up straight, smoothing her dress. “I ain’t…I mean, I’m not ‘tripped up,’ just – a little embarrassed, maybe.”

“Embarrassed?”

Sheepishly, “Well, maybe, no one’s ever called me ‘pretty’ before.”

“Not even Reginald Vandermeter?”

“No. Especially not Reginald Vandermeter.”

Kid raised an eyebrow. “Then why would you even consider marryin’ somebody who doesn’t think you’re pretty?”

Her voice rose almost to a squeal as she rushed her words. “I didn’t say I was considering marrying him. I’m running away from him, remember? And…and…it’s just not his way to be so…expressive in his feelings, is all!”

“So how did you get to the point where marriage was brought up? You’re kinda young to be that experienced.”

“I’m NOT that experienced; I told you that. I’m off for authentic experiences. I mean, well – it was more of an arrangement, of two important families, to…to…continue the dynasty!”

Kid smiled skeptically. “The dynasty?”

“Uh huh. We’re the only children of rich financiers, so...it makes sense in a business sense.”

“Business sense? What happened to love? You were just readin’ that hokum from that Shakespeare fella.”

“It’s great literature, not hokum! And I’m not ready to get married; that’s why I’m here.” She composed herself. “And of course I’ll marry for love.”

“You got stars in your eyes again…”

She regarded the book in her lap before looking up. “No stars. It does make business sense, whether we like it or not. I don’t. I want it to be romantic – like now.”

Kid surveyed the box car. Sunlight filtered in between loose boards, illuminating it enough to see it was empty save for them and their meager belongings. “How’s this romantic? An empty box car?” A finger emphasized each of them in turn. “Wait, you’re not thinkin’, you and me…?”

“No, of course not!” she said flusteredly. “I mean, not that you’re not…”

“Don’t dig yourself in too far, Annabelle. One thing I picked up along the way – quit while you’re ahead.”

She opened her mouth as if to speak, but no words came forth.

He waited expectantly.

Two sets of eyes met across several yards.

Finally, flushed, she broke the gaze, focusing attention to her book, albeit just staring at a page. Several seconds passed before she heard a chuckle and again looked up. “What’s so funny?”

Blue eyes shone with mirth. “You are.”

“Why? How?”

“I reckon you’re diggin’ a hole you’re never gonna be able to climb out of.”

“You don’t believe me.”

“Not a word.”

“What’s the matter with wanting authentic experiences with the common people?”

“Nothin’, Annabelle; nothin’ at all. Authentic experiences with common folks, huh? Maybe we have somethin’ in common after all. My partner tells me I’m a sucker for helpin’ the needy folks. And here we are.”

“I’m not needy!” Her stomach rumbled.

He laughed. “Not much! You hop a train on a whim with nothin’ but books and a change of clothes in your satchel lookin’ for your father or romance where there ain’t none? Sorry, Annabelle. It doesn’t add up.”

“You have it wrong…”

“Nah, I got a feelin’, and my gut serves me pretty good when I listen to it.” His stomach growled.

Annabelle laughed. “I guess we have that in common!”

Kid grinned. “Suppose we do. Like I said before, when this train stops, I’ll see what I can find for food for us needy folks.” He grew quiet. “Ya know, I hate to say it, but maybe my partner knows me better than I want to admit.”

The young woman brushed a stray hair from her face. “It must be nice to have someone know you that well.”

With lowered voice, the ex-outlaw answered sheepishly, “Yeah. It kinda is.” He stretched and yawned, grabbing his hat as he once again lay down. “Now, where were we?”

Annabelle regarded the sandy-haired man as her mind wandered to a certain boy back home. He knew her well, too. Hmm, maybe…

She picked up her book. “Romeo, Romeo…”

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Fri May 31, 2013 8:21 am

May 2013 – Maybe

The Kid, dusty and trail-worn, stood leaning back on the saloon counter, savoring a tepid beer while waiting for his partner. A few men were playing poker, escaping the heat of the day by taking refuge in the building. A working girl straddled a chair as she patiently watched the game, hoping the winner would want some of her treats. The lackadaisical mood put Curry at ease as he sipped his beer and turned around. A bowl of hard-boiled eggs sat on the counter nearby.

“These free?” the Kid asked, as he pointed to the eggs.

“Yep,” the bartender answered, as he wiped glasses. “You can get one egg when you buy a beer.”

“Thanks!” Curry took one and tapped it on the counter a few times, cracking the shell. As he peeled the egg, the batwing doors crashed open, making the inhabitants jump. The Kid dropped his egg, his hand hovering near the butt of his gun, as he twirled around.

Heyes hurried inside, a piece of paper in his hand. He paused for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the dimness of the room, before heading to the counter.

The Kid shook his head as he relaxed and faced the bartender. “Two more beers.” He held up two fingers.

Heyes quietly sidled up next to his partner; his head bent down as all eyes were on him.

“Nice entrance, Joshua.” Curry looked sideways. “Where’ve you been?”

The bartender brought the requested beers and waited for payment. Heyes glanced at the Kid, who shrugged his shoulders. Heyes sighed and pulled out two nickels from his pocket. He then took a few swallows of beer, nearly emptying the glass.

Curry nudged him and nodded towards the bowl. “Get an egg with each beer,” he informed his partner as he went back to shelling his own.

Heyes took one and began cracking it. “Thought I’d go over to the telegraph office and let Lom know where we were.”

“It’s been awhile,” the Kid agreed and took a bite of the egg.

“As I was about to leave the office, the operator asked me to wait. A message was coming in for me.”

“Lom must’ve had one waitin’ at his office to send as soon as he got ours.” The Kid took a sip of beer. “What’s he want?”

“Wants us to come to Porterville right away!” Heyes grinned, holding up the telegraph. He whispered, “I got a good feeling about this. It could be about the amnesty!”

Curry scowled. “It could be another job, too. It’s been almost three years since we made that deal.”

“Yeah, but he would’ve said it was a job…”

“Didn’t when the governor wanted us to get that gal back to her pa. He just wanted to meet us at that cabin.” The Kid reached around Heyes for another egg in the bowl.

Heyes inconspicuously looked around the room. Everyone had gone back to playing poker and not paying them attention. “The fact that it’s been three years might be reason enough to go to Porterville,” he hissed. “I say we get going now. We could be there in three days.”

The Kid sighed. “Now? In the heat of the day?”

“It’s not THAT hot out there and the sooner we get there…” Heyes paused and looked around the room again. “The sooner we get amnesty!”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry removed his hat and ran his fingers through his matted hair. Removing his bandana, he wiped the sweat running down his face. Next he took a gulp of warm water from his canteen.

Heyes turned in his saddle. “What’d you stop for? Com’on!”

The Kid sighed and clicked his heels, encouraging his gelding to continue.

“Now that we figured out how we’re gonna celebrate getting amnesty…” Heyes faced forward again, seeing his partner was following.

“You figured out how we were gonna celebrate. I barely got two words said on the matter and you didn’t like it.”

“Well, we don’t have the money to go to Denver, yet, but I’m betting we will soon enough.”

“Yeah, right. That’s IF we get amnesty, Heyes. I still don’t see the governor givin’ it to us. He got what he wanted – we quit robbin’ his friends and campaign donors.”

“You’re being skeptical, Kid,” Heyes yelled back. “We’re gonna have to figure out we want to do afterwards.”

“What about runnin’ a saloon? I didn’t mind doin’ that at Wickenburg.”

“I was thinking the same thing. Our notoriety could be a draw with folks coming by just to meet us.”

“Yeah, and every gunslinger comin’ outta the woodwork to call me out.”

“True.” Heyes pondered a moment. “Maybe playing up our notoriety wouldn’t be such a good thing. At least not for awhile.”

“So we’ll have to continue bein’ Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith.”

“May have to, Kid. Guess some folks would be wanting to get a name for themselves by calling out Kid Curry.”

“We could separate…”

Heyes scowled and turned to glare at his partner. “Is that what you want to do?”

“Well, no, but if it’d be better for you if we do…”

“We’ll make it work, Kid, together. Besides, I have to keep an eye on you so you don’t fall off the straight and narrow path.”

Kid Curry rolled his eyes. “Me? What about you? Who’s gonna watch your back when bad losers call you out because of cheatin’ at poker?”

“I don’t cheat!”

“Well, you know that and I know that, but them bad losers don’t.”

“Back to what we could do… We could join that Wild West show that Buffalo Bill does – travel around the world. I’m sure he’d welcome us being part of his show. Or we could settle down and start a ranch. Maybe specialize in horses. Capture a wild stallion and some of his brooding mares. Or, who knows crooks better than crooks? We could open up a detective agency and give Pinkertons and Bannermans a run for their money. Of course I would be the brains and you would back me up…”

As Heyes continued to talk, Curry closed his eyes against the glaring sun. The steady rocking of the horse’s gait, along with the droning of his partner’s voice and the heat of the day, lulled him into a sleep, his chin resting on his chest.

“Kid, are you listening to me?!” Heyes turned around in the saddle, frowning at his partner.

“What?!” Startled, Kid Curry shook his head awake and then stifled a yawn. “Yeah, Heyes, I’m listenin’.”

“What about my idea of…”

Curry watched the chestnut neigh as it reared up. Heyes, not sitting forward and off-guard, fell off his horse. “Heyes!” That’s when he heard the rattling sound. The Kid quickly reined in his gelding and jumped off, pulling the safety strap off his holster and going for his gun.

The chestnut bolted down the path, away from the danger, exposing the large rattlesnake in the path, coiling for a strike.

“Heyes, watch out!”

Stunned from the fall, Heyes glanced around. His eyes opened wide when he saw the snake at his level and he twisted away just at it struck. The snake bit into the top of his boot and hung on.

“Don’t move, Heyes!” Curry took aim.

Bang!

The Kid rushed to his partner, releasing the snake’s severed head from the boot, and threw it as far as he could. He put his hands under Heyes’ shoulders, pulling him away from the still writhing body of the snake.

“Heyes, are you okay?”

Heyes opened his eyes, seeing concerned blue ones looking down at him.

“The snake got your boot. Don’t think it got you…”

“Oww…” Heyes cried in pain. “Damn! It hurts!”

“Hurts? But it…” Curry gently moved Heyes’ leg to see puncture marks in the boot and drops of blood on the thigh. “Sheesh… it went through the boot and got you!” He removed his bandana and tied it just above the bite.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Heyes gritted in pain. “Get my knife out. And you’re gonna need some whiskey.”

The Kid stood and rummaged through his saddle bags before pulling out a bottle. “Good thing I had it this time.” He knelt by his partner with a canteen of water and whiskey. He pulled off the boot and, using the knife, slit the pant leg open to see the bite marks, red and beginning to swell.

Heyes propped himself up on his elbows. “You know what you gotta do.”

“Yeah, I hate this part!” The Kid offered the bottle to Heyes. “Have a drink – it might help.”

“Doubt it.” Heyes took a swallow and handed it back. He removed his bandana and put it in his mouth.

“Ready?”

“Yeah, I’m ready,” came a muffled response.

Curry poured some alcohol on the knife and wound. He took a gulp and swished it around in his mouth. Placing the bottle nearby, he carefully cut an X at the puncture site and leaned down, sucking and spitting out blood and venom for over a minute. He took a sip of whiskey, swishing it around in his mouth before spitting it out, and poured more on the wound, bleeding freely.

“How are you doin’, Heyes?” he asked as he worked. When he didn’t get an answer, Curry glanced at him. The brown eyes were tightly closed, the face contorted in pain with a sheen of perspiration. “Heyes, it’s over. You have to will yourself to relax. Can’t have your heart pumpin’ hard and spreadin’ around whatever poison I didn’t get.”

Heyes nodded his head, acknowledging the Kid.

Curry removed the bandana and held the canteen up. “Drink some water.”

“Rather have some whiskey.”

“I know, but don’t think that’ll help you fight the venom.” He stood and glanced around. “Have to find someplace to spend the night.” A looming rock formation close-by appeared to offer protection and shade in a large crevice. “Heyes, I’ll be right back. Gonna check over there for a campsite. I’ll be close enough so you can yell if you need me.”

Heyes nodded. “The snake?”

“It’s dead.” The Kid pulled Heyes’ gun from its holster and handed it to him. “Here, just in case you need it.”

Curry gathered sticks and branches as he walked to the area he hoped to camp. The area was all he hoped for and more with a source of water springing up, making a pool in a rocky basin. He dropped the firewood and went back to the path.

“Found a good place for you to rest up, Heyes, and it’s just a short distance off the road.” He offered a hand. “Com’on. I’ll help you up.”

Heyes looked up and took the strong hand.

Curry pulled his friend up and leaned him against his horse. “Hang on to the horn. I’ll lift you on.”

“No,” Heyes began to argue.

“I ain’t carryin’ you there and you can’t walk.” Curry boosted Heyes up.

“Hey…”

“Hang on!”

Heyes grabbed hold of the horn and mane as the Kid seated him into the saddle.

Taking the reins, the Kid led the gelding to the camp. “Told you it wasn’t far away.”

A few minutes later in the shade, Curry held up his arms. “Slide down; I’ll catch you.”

Heyes grimaced in pain and nodded. He tilted to the side and felt the strong arms encircle him and set him down on the ground.

“Just lean back against the rock. I want to get a fire goin’.”

Again, Heyes nodded and did as he was told. Curry didn’t like the fact that his partner wasn’t talking. He hurried to get a fire going and a pot of water heating up, before taking care of his horse. The Kid put down his bedroll and placed his saddle near one end of it, very close to his hurting friend.

“I got a bed ready for you. Have to keep your heart above your leg so lean up on the saddle.”

Heyes scooted on his backend, with Curry’s help, to the bedroll. “Is there more water?”

“Yep.” The Kid shook the canteen. “It’s still over half full.” He held it up by Heyes’ mouth while the other man drank.

Heyes settled back into the saddle. “Guess we’ll be late to hear about the amnesty.”

“Yep, if that’s what Lom wanted to tell us.”

“You gotta have faith, Kid.”

Curry poured the warm water on a clean bandana. “I gotta keep a warm cloth on your leg to draw out any poison or infection.”

Heyes hissed as the Kid applied pressure to the wound with the cloth.

“You okay?” Concerned blue eyes gazed at the pained brown ones.

“Feel like I wanna get sick. Guess it’s good we didn’t eat much lunch.”

The Kid removed his bandana and wet it. He wiped the sheen from his partner’s face, neck, and hand.

Heyes sighed. “That feels good.” He shivered. “Feeling warm.”

“Just rest. I’m here watchin’ your back.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry continued his ministration for his sick partner, applying warm compresses to the swollen red wound and wiping his face with cool clothes.

At nightfall, Heyes began shivering in the cool air. The Kid wrapped a blanket around him, continuing to give sips of water to his friend and keeping up the compresses.

After midnight, Heyes fell into a fitful sleep, trembling and thrashing around. Curry, exhausted, sat behind his partner and pulled him up close, holding him in a hug.

“Heyes, you’re gonna be all right,” he said aloud, for more his own sake. “You’re gonna wake up and be just tuckered out in the mornin’. We’ll rest here a day or two and then head to Porterville.”

The Kid leaned back on the saddle, mindful to keep Heyes’ heart elevated. He closed his exhausted eyes for a moment.

“Maybe we will get that amnesty, Heyes. You’re gonna have to be around for a while to enjoy it.”

Heyes stilled from his thrashing.

The Kid gulped and checked for a pulse. It wasn’t strong, but there was one. “Don’t you be goin’ nowhere! I do need you to keep me on the straight and narrow.”

Heyes’ breathing became more labored and his skin was hot to the touch.

“Maybe,” Curry thought as held on to his partner tighter. “Maybe you won’t die tonight.”




Found an interesting blog about Old West snake bites - http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/q-and-a-what-type-of-snake-was-prominent-in-the-old-west/

There are approximately 120 species of snakes in the US, but only about 20 are poisonous. Every state has at least one venomous snake except Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii. All the bad guys are pit vipers except for the coral snake, which ranges throughout the Southeastern US. Pit vipers derive their name form the small heat-sensing “pit” near the eyes, which helps them locate prey. The deadliest of the pit vipers are the Diamondback rattlers, both Eastern and Western.

In the Old West, your character would most likely encounter a Western Diamondback or a Sidewinder, another species of rattler. Both can be deadly.

Today, with modern treatments (such as antivenin) and with more rapid transport of victims to the hospital, only 5 or 6 deaths occur out of the 7000 to 8000 snakes bites per year. In the Old West, the mortality was considerably higher. Ninety-eight percent of bites are to the extremities—legs, arms, and hands.

The signs and symptoms of snakebite are divided into local and systemic (total body) reactions. Snake venom is a complex fluid. It typically has several proteases (enzymes that breakdown proteins), which can lead to severe local tissue damage, as well as systemic neurological and blood toxins that cause the systemic symptoms.

Local effects might be fang marks, pain, swelling, redness, the appearance of bullae (blisters), lymphangitis (red streaks up the extremity), and painful knots in the arm pit or groin (due to swelling of the lymph nodes). The localized damage can be so severe that surgical debridement (removal of dead tissue) and even amputation might be necessary. Also, infection can occur in the injured tissues, which can also be serious and deadly, particularly true in the pre-antibiotic era of the nineteenth century.

Systemic symptoms include nausea, vomiting, numbness and tingling if the hands, face, and feet, weakness, a metallic taste in the mouth, shortness of breath, confusion, low blood pressure and finally shock, coma, and death. The victim’s blood might clot or hemolyze (breakdown) and either of these can lead to kidney damage and death.

Or the victim could survive. It might take several days for him to be up and around and a week or so before he regained all his strength. Survival was more likely when the envenomation was less, the victim was otherwise healthy, and he had a lucky star smiling on him.


Also found out that a snake could bite through a boot - http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Rattlesnake-danger-grows-as-more-serpents-strike-2898031.php#ixzz2UbGWOMoo

Andy Burke wishes that the snake that bit him last month near Tomales had rattled first.

"I didn't know what hit me," he said. "It was silent."

Burke, a horseshoer, was reaching into his pickup truck when a rattlesnake put its fangs through his boot and into his foot. Burke didn't feel the actual bite. The pain came a few seconds later, when the venom took effect.

"I thought I had a broken bone in my foot," he said. "I looked down and saw two holes in my boot, and I thought: 'How did that happen?' Those bite marks were the only thing that let me know."


With the snake biting through Heyes’ boot, my thought was to lessen the envemonation, giving him a chance to survive.

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FrankieASJ

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Fri May 31, 2013 8:48 am

Here goes ..... You may notice some similarities in the storyline between my challenge and Ms Penski. Being the persuasive person that she is - down right scary at times!!! - she managed to persuade me to do a challenge along side hers - obviously in dire need of extra angst this month!

We wrote our challenges completely seperately - the only thing we decided was we hurt different partners - guess who I chose?!!! Rolling Eyes

I have not read her challenge yet so it will be interesting to compare ideas and the way we tackled the bunny.

I hope mine reads ok - it's been a school holiday this week so with 2 active boys at home my time has been limited so feel this challenge is a little rough about the edges and probably needs considerable re-writes!
So here it is ...



He tightened his grip on the saddle-horn as another spasm shot through his gut, causing him to scrunch forward in the saddle, while warily keeping one eye on his partner, who was riding ahead. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to tell him - well maybe, as it was rather embarrassing – but he knew he’d never hear the end of it. It had just been one of those things. It could happen to anyone. And now it seemed too late to mention it and, besides, there was a more pressing matter to consider at present.

There again, perhaps he should say something as he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to keep up the pace. Maybe he’d say something next time they stopped to water the horses. It wasn’t that much further. He was sure he’d be able to hang on a little longer. Another sharp twinge contorted within his stomach, causing him to gasp and screw his eyes shut against the pain. For a moment he was going to call out but the words stuck in his throat. He gave an involuntary shiver against the icy chill, which seemed to be permeating his body.

As the sensation passed he gritted his teeth determinedly. This was their chance – a chance at a new start and he wasn’t going to let his partner down just because he had been stupid enough to fall asleep in the saddle. He may have broken a rib falling on that rock but it wasn’t the first time he’d had to ride with busted ribs. At least this time a posse wasn’t chasing them but there was still an urgency to their journey.

* * * * * *

The telegram had taken Kid by surprise but he could tell from the wording that it was vital he got to Little Creek as soon as possible. He had only finished the job, delivering tools to a mining company, that afternoon. It hadn’t been an easy trip as the track to the mine had been precarious, to say the least. It had been both physically and mentally challenging, guiding the team of mules up the narrow, rocky route up the mountain. When he had reached his destination there was little hospitality on offer so he had all but turned tail and had pushed on, eager to get back to town and civilisation before nightfall. He had made good time and was back in town by early evening. On arriving at the mining depot he had been handed the telegram along with his pay. It had been short and to the point – which was unusual for his wordy partner.

‘LT- come now – urgent. JS.’

The lack of words also suggested Heyes hadn’t faired well at the card table either and funds must be running low! So, without hesitation, he got on his horse and rode straight out again. Even though it was getting dark Kid had pressed on, keen to meet up with Heyes to find out what Lom wanted.

The last thing he remembered was considering stopping for the night, as his eyelids got heavy and he began to slump in the saddle. Next thing Kid knew was waking up to find himself lying on the ground, next to a large rock, feeling like he’d been kicked by a mule. It had taken him a good few moments to come fully to his senses and realise what had happened. Slowly and carefully, with a few choice profanities, he struggled to his feet and located his horse. Deciding it would be wise to stop for the night, he retrieved his bedroll, saw to his horse and settled down into restless sleep.

A few hours later he had given up trying to sleep. The pain in his side wouldn’t allow him to get comfortable and his mind kept wandering to why Lom had made contact. He couldn’t help but hope it was news of the amnesty for which he and Heyes had been doggedly trying, but he dared not raise his expectations too far, only to have them dashed once again.

As the sky began to brighten, into low, early morning light, he tentatively tugged his shirt from his pants and pulled his Henley to the side and inspected his ribs. As he suspected there was a large bruise where he must have hit the rock when he fell. With a groan he tucked his shirt-tails back into his pants, as there was little he could do about it now and got ready to carry on to meet up with Heyes.

After a few arduous hours he rode into the town of Little Creek and stopped outside the saloon. Before he could even get off his horse Heyes was at his side. Looking up with sparkling, wide, dark eyes and a broad smile, Heyes placed a hand on Kid’s thigh.

“I think this is it, Kid. I think the Governor has come through. I’ll get my horse and we can leave right away to meet up with Lom,” he said, with child-like enthusiasm. With that, he strode across the street and unhitched his horse from the post outside the hotel.

Kid would have given anything to rest up, have a drink and something to eat but his partner’s exuberance was undeniable and it had been a long time since he had seen Heyes this animated.

* * * * * *

Maybe he should have told Heyes about his fall, and injury, but Kid didn’t have the heart to spoil his partner’s mood. Besides, he didn’t feel up to being reprimanded and humiliated, about falling asleep in the saddle. It was downright irresponsible to let your guard down, if not dangerous and fool hardy and maybe even lethal – especially for them.

So, he now found himself riding behind Heyes, trying to deal with the gnawing pain in his side. He was so distracted that it took him a moment to realise his horse had come to a stop along side his partner’s. Heyes was looking at him with frowning concern.

“You feelin’ alright, Kid?” He got a grunted response. “You don’t look so good.” Heyes reached out to place a hand on Kid’s now very warm forehead, only to have it intercepted.

“I’m fine. Must have had somethin’ to eat which don’t agree with me,” Kid told him, curtly, pushing Heyes’ hand away with his own.

“I’m only askin’,” Heyes replied, holding up his hands in mock surrender. “How’s about we stop for a spell? Reckon we should make Porterville by nightfall.”

Kid nodded and felt a wave of relief. The pain in his side seemed to be getting worse and perhaps a break from riding would help settle his stomach.

They guided the horses to a clearing in the rocks, a little ways off the main track. Heyes swung lithely off his horse while Kid laboriously lifted his leg over the back of the saddle and lowered himself down, his whole body tensing against the impact of his feet hitting the ground. Clinging to the stirrup, he stood by the side of his horse inhaling deeply, fighting the nausea which claimed him. Suddenly he could hold it no more and wretched violently. His horse danced sideways at the sound, nearly pulling Kid over.

The quick movement and noise made Heyes’ aware of what was happening. Within a split second he had taken in the situation and made a grab for Kid’s horse before it pulled his partner over and ran off. Once he had the animal under control he turned his attention to his friend.

“Something really didn’t agree with you, did it?” he commented.

Kid swiped his mouth with the back of his hand and began to sway. Heyes took hold of his arm to steady him.

“How’s about you go and sit down and I’ll sort out the horses,” he told Kid sympathetically. With a nod Kid staggered over to a rounded boulder and perched on the edge, hands on knees and closed his eyes. The nausea hadn’t quite passed and he could feel another assault working its way out.

As Heyes began to move off to tether Kid’s horse, something in the dirt of the ground caught his eye. A dark, red streak ran through the area where Kid had thrown up. It didn’t take Heyes long to recognise it as blood. He knew from past experience that this wasn’t good. Trying to cover the alarm he felt, he gave one last cursory glance down at the tell tale marks on the ground and went to see to the horses. He worked swiftly, not giving them the usual attention, keen to get back to see to the Kid.

The sight, which greeted him on his return, stopped him in his tracks. His partner lay on the ground, clasping his stomach and had obviously been sick once more. Heyes dashed over and knelt besides him, taking his head in his hands, turning it so he could see Kid’s face. It was wax white; his eyes rimmed red and glistening with fever.

“What’s wrong with you?” Heyes breathed, scanning around for any obvious signs of injury but finding none. Kid gazed back at him with glazed eyes.

“Kid?” Heyes persisted, tapping his cheek softly. “Come on, tell me what happened.” He tried to keep his tone level but concern made his pitch higher and panic made his words sound gruff.

It was enough to rouse the Kid who managed to mutter, “I fell.”

“Fell? Falling doesn’t make you sick like this. Maybe it was something you ate.”

Kid softly shook his head in response. “Ribs,” he mumbled.

“You hurt your ribs?” Heyes replied, while instantaneously beginning to unbutton the Kid’s shirt to check for injury. Sure enough there was a large bruise on his side but nothing else to warrant the Kid’s condition.

“How’d you do this? I mean, how’d you fall?”

Kid allowed himself a small smirk, anticipating his partner’s reaction. “Fell asleep.”

Heyes frowned in confusion. “You fell asleep?” His mind ticked over, trying to connect the two bits of information and it suddenly became clear what had happened. “You fell asleep in the saddle didn’t you? Of all the …”

He didn’t get to finish his reprimand because Kid’s eyes suddenly rolled back, his mouth slacked open and his body became heavier in Heyes’ arms.

* * * * * *

The sky streaked scarlet and crimson as the sun sank in the sky and the air began to cool. A hushed stillness crept over the land.

Heyes stood, arms wrapped about himself, staring down at his partner, who lay still and quiet. All through the day Heyes had tended to his friend, mopping the sweat from his brow, giving him sips of water from the canteen. Now the Kid has drifted off to sleep and Heyes diligently watched the slow rise and fall of his chest.

As the hours had passed, so his frustration grew. He was at a loss what to do next. There was no obvious sign of injury, no wound to tend and nothing tangible to watch for, except the Kid’s laboured breathing. Nothing he did seemed to help. Hannibal Heyes had never felt so useless.

This had started out as such a day of hope and now those hopes seemed irrelevant. There was nothing to be gained from getting the amnesty if Kid wasn’t at his side. Heyes chided himself for letting his thoughts become so morose.

He was not one to be beaten. Whatever the challenge he would find a way through. He was a genius after all – wasn’t he? There must be an answer and he would find it. I mean, the Kid had been shot more times than he cared to remember but he was strong and always pulled through. He’d open those blue eyes of his in a while and he’d be fine – wouldn’t he?

Heyes rubbed his face with his hands and got ready for the long night ahead. He’d find a way to get the Kid well even if it …. He inhaled deeply, pushing such thoughts away. He needed to stay positive.

In a couple of days, he and Kid would ride into Porterville to meet Lom and get their amnesty – maybe


I have deliberately left Kid's injury vague as I wanted the reader to feel as in the dark as Heyes - if that makes sense. Done with the excuses. Just wait for the comments!

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PostSubject: Re: May 2013 - Maybe   Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:13 pm

This one's not in the running for the Yellow Bandana Award. It's a salute to all the writers who wrote this month... Maybe. Rolling Eyes

Grace hung her head and tapped at a loose nail on the porch of the stage line ticket station with the toe of her boot. "You're all packed and ready to go?"

"It's saddle bags, Grace. Magic ones at that. Don't take long to shove a blue shirt in." Kid Curry leaned onto the porch rail and watched a man on the ground tossing bags to the stage driver, who stood atop the conveyance battening them into place.

"I just wish we had longer. I mean, I know there's a full thirty-one days in May, but, dang! It sure felt like a February, didn't it?" She shook her head, sadly. "And a leap year February at that."

"Uh-huh," Curry responded distractedly, watching as a pretty young blonde sashayed away from the ticket station and toward the stage.

"Wonder if Heyes had as nice a time at Penski's place while you and I were..." She blushed, "Visitin'."

"Huh? Oh, maybe." He nodded. "Yeah, sure of it."

"...On whose place you'll go to next?" Grace waited for an answer. None came. "I said, you got any preference on whose place you'll go to next?"

Curry jerked his focus back to Grace. "Who's in the runnin' again?"

"There's Maz, of course. Maybe you'll be goin' to her place." Grace rolled her eyes. "But she always forces you to stay in her basement and I know how you..."

Two blue eyes shot Grace a warning.

Grace gulped and cleared her throat. "I mean, I know how you prefer a sunny room. And then there's the new writer, Claybank. Maybe he's a guy, and maybe he's a gal. And maybe you'll be goin' to meet him...or her. Sure can write though, whoever he is, or she. Got that goin' for him. Her."

Curry nodded.

"How about InsideOutlaw or Yope? You've been to their places a couple of times, right?"

"Maybe. You writers got us comin' and goin' so quick, hard to remember how many times me and Heyes have been where."

"Maybe riders and Remuda will win you boys, I mean the bandana, this month. They're lots of fun. Maybe if you go visit one of them, they'll take you on a trip to Philly to see Independence Hall."

"Maybe," the Kid agreed.

"You been to RosieAnnie's place yet?" Grace wondered.

"Maybe," Curry answered, shrugging. "This 'Ppreciation Society Bandana Awardin' thing is enough to make an outlaw's head spin."

"Frankie and Penski teamed up this month, so if either one of them were to win, maybe you and Heyes might split time on different sides of the globe, huh?"

"Maybe," the Kid muttered while the stage coach driver assisted the pretty blonde into his stage. "Grace, they're loadin'. I gotta go."

"Okay, if you gotta. But... Maybe you'll be back to visit me again? Sometime soon?"

"Maybe, Grace," he said, and gave her a quick peck on the cheek before running to the stage, waving. Slamming the door, the Kid turned his attention to his pretty stage-mate. He smiled, a devilishly charming smile, and tipped his hat. "Maybe!"

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