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 March 2012 Making the Leap

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BeeJay
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Posts : 580
Join date : 2012-04-21
Location : California

PostSubject: March 2012 Making the Leap   Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:31 pm

Calico:

"Another month, another challenge...

Have you all got your pencils ready?? Outlaws bathed and ready to go? Magic saddlebags packed?

Good.

This month your challenge is - in honour of the our 'extra' day yesterday...


"Making The Leap"


Let your creative juices run amok... But do wipe up spills.

And, bless you ALL for playing!"
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:17 am

From Maz McCoy


“JUMP!” Hannibal Heyes yelled.

“Nope.”

“Kid we gotta do it. Jump!”

Beside him in the boxcar his partner dug his heels in literally and figuratively.

“No!”

“Kid, if we don’t get off this train we are gonna get caught. Do you want to spend the next twenty years of your life in jail?”

Kid turned to face Heyes. “That is a dumb question.”

“Not jumping is dumb!”

Kid pointed to the terrain rushing by. “Do you want to break your neck?”

“That is a dumb question too.”

“I am not gonna jump while the train is going at this speed.”

“Then we’re gonna get caught.” Heyes sat down on a wooden crate. “I doubt they’d give us adjoining cells so we best say our goodbyes now.”

Kid shook his head. “You’re not even sure they are bounty hunters.”

“Do you want to take that risk?”

Kid pointed to the scenery rushing by. “Do you?”

Heyes sighed. “Kid, I know I’ve seen that tall fella before. He was asking questions about two men, one fair and one dark haired.”

“Maybe he wanted to offer us a job?”

“Somehow I doubt it.”

“Look, Heyes, we can’t jump now it’s too dangerous and those men didn’t actually see us did they?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well then, let’s assume they didn’t. We can ride back here, keep an eye out for them and if we have to, we’ll jump off further down the line when the train slows.”

Heyes looked up at his partner. “You might be right. Guess I was a little over-anxious.”

“We haven’t slept much lately you’re bound to be snappy.”

“I was not snappy!” Heyes snapped.

“Yes, you were.” Kid removed his Colt from his holster and checked the chamber. “You practically dragged me outta my seat when you saw that big fella.”

“I did not drag you,” Heyes objected. “If I’d dragged you we’da drawn attention to ourselves. Did we draw attention?”

“No,” Kid agreed.

“Exactly. I was discrete. Got us outta there without drawing attention to ourselves. Without those men spotting us.”

“So why’d you wanna jump off the train so fast if they didn’t spot us?”

Heyes stood up. “It was a precaution.”

“A precaution?”

“Yes.”

“Ain’t that like being careful?”

“Yes.”

Kid pointed to the rushing scenery once more. “Is that being careful?”

“Is that another dumb question?”

“No, Heyes, it’s…”

CLICK!

“Hold it right there gentlemen.” Kid and Heyes froze. A tall man stepped out from behind a stack of boxes which had been shielding their view of the doorway. “Raise your hands and keep ‘em where I can see ‘em.”

“What’s this about?” Heyes asked, as he held up his hands.

“My name’s Wheeler and I’m a bounty hunter.” He waved the Schofield in his hand from Kid to Heyes and back again. “And you two are Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes.”

Heyes laughed. “Not this again! Sir, if I told you how many times my friend and I have been mistaken for that pair of ornery outlaws I don’t think you’d believe me. Why one time we were up in…”
The train gave a sudden lurch, Wheeler stumbled into the boxes and Kid grabbed Heyes by the back of his shirt propelling him towards the open doorway. As he placed his hand flat on his partner’s back he yelled one word. “JUMP!”



(Message edited by MazMcCoy On 03/04/2012 6:51 PM)
Before breakfast?
Date Posted:03/04/2012 6:49 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:19 am

From ChristinaASJ


Making the Leap

Lose the
Protection of an
Impregnable hideout and an
Outlaw gang.

Give up
The thrill of leadership,
Pulling off a job and
Easy money.

Never know
Where we’ll sleep,
When we’ll eat or
If we’ll be recognized.

That’s a good deal?


Have
The chance of a
Real home; maybe
A family.

Lead a
Life that would’ve made
Our parents
Proud.

Trade in the inevitability of
Prison, or worse, for a
Life as
Free men.

That is a good deal.


So,
It’s decided;
We’ll
Make the leap.
.
Sink or
Swim, we’ll
Be in it
Together,

There
For
Each other - as
Always.

That’s a good deal.

Date Posted:03/05/2012 6:10 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:24 am

From Riders57


Okay -- let's see if I can get names straight here -- who am I again? Oh yeah, Riders57, right?

Toadsuck

“Okay, so you want to talk about it?”

“What’s there to talk about? You think I’m crazy.”

“Kid, I don’t think you’re crazy; it’s just…”

“Like I said, you think I’m crazy.”

“Look at it logically. If she’s a lady we wouldn't know her – you say she wasn’t in any bank we robbed and she wasn’t on any train. So why did we have to run?”

“I told you -- she’s a bounty hunter!”

“A bounty hunter? That’s…”

“That’s what, Heyes, crazy?” the Kid asked, glaring dangerously at his partner.

“I didn’t say that, but just how many lady bounty hunters do you think there are?”

“Just needs to be one.”

Heyes sighed. “Why do you think she’s a bounty hunter?”

“It’s the way she looked at us.”

“The way she looked at us? That’s it?!”

“Yeah, Heyes, the way she looked at us. I’ve seen enough bounty hunters look at us to know what that look means.”

“Did ya ever think she found you attractive?”

“She was lookin’ at both of us, speculative like.”

“Maybe she found both of us attractive and was speculating whether we would be interested or not.”

“We're not that attractive. That wasn’t the look – it was more like when a cat has a mouse cornered. I’m no mouse. I don’t want to have to shoot a lady -- bounty-hunter or not.”

“You’re getting too jumpy, Kid. She was a nice lady – well dressed and staying at a good hotel.”

Heyes reached over and stirred the coals of the fire. He was tired; they’d come into a town to renew supplies after several days on the trail, and to look for work. They had stocked up and were heading to the saloon when they had noticed a well-dressed, attractive, young woman standing on the hotel porch as they passed. Both tipped their hats; she nodded and continued to watch them as they headed into the saloon.

Once they entered the saloon, the Kid grabbed Heyes’ arm and hustled him out the back entrance. They sneaked down the alley back to the livery stable, grabbed their horses and raced out. They had ridden hard through the night to avoid any pursuers. It was day later and both were tired and cranky.

“So we’re on the trail again, all because you’re leaping to conclusions about the way a nice lady looked at us.” Heyes growled.

“No Heyes,” Kid shouted back, “You’re leapin’ to the conclusion that she was a nice lady. We’re on the trail again because there was a bounty hunter who recognized us in the last town we were in and I just saved our skins. But don’t bother to thank me.”

“I WON’T”

“FINE!”

“FINE!”

The two sat in silence for several minutes. Finally, both lay down on their bedrolls and went to sleep.

#####

The next morning they were scrupulously polite to each other.

“Would you like some more coffee?”

“Thanks.”

“So where do we go now?”

“I don’t know, Heyes, why don’t you pull out that map of yours and choose someplace?”

“Hmm, well here’s somewhere we haven’t been – Toadsuck.”

“Toadsuck?”

“Yeah see right here on the map – Toadsuck, Texas. It’s even near a rail line. Bet we won’t find any lady bounty hunters there – what lady, bounty hunter or not, would come to a town called Toadsuck?”

“Now who’s leapin’ to conclusions, Heyes?” the Kid asked mildly while he set about packing up his gear.

Heyes laughed and stood to begin packing his gear.

“Look we’ve never been there so we can stop for a day or two after you’ve checked it out and wire Big Mac, see if he has anything for us, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan – but maybe both of us should stop leapin’ to conclusions.”

“Sounds like a plan, partner.”


Author’s Note – According to the Texas State Historical Association, the town of Toadsuck grew up around the Toadsuck Saloon and was incorporated in 1869. There are two theories on the origin of the name. The more colorful one is that men would consume liquor until they swelled up like toads. The more prosaic one is that “suck” is the local term for a whirlpool in a river, meaning the town’s name is really “Toad Whirlpool.” The Texas and Pacific rail line was built about ¾ of a mile outside of town in 1880 and by 1887 most of the businesses and residents had moved from Toadsuck to the rail line. The new rail town was called Collinsville when it was incorporated in the 1890s.


Date Posted:03/05/2012 3:25 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:27 am

From Inside Outlaw


Okay, you all said to jump right in so I'm making the leap. However, I've been having trouble with posting this. I saved it in Word 2003-2007, copied it to Notepad, did the word wrap and the formatting is still messed up. Suggestions would be very welcomed.

This is the first story I've ever written so please bear with me!

**************

MAKIN’ THE LEAP

“I don’t like it, Heyes, it don’t feel right” said Kid peering through the heavy brush on the wooded hillside at the high country meadow beneath them.

“It feels wrong to me, too, Kid but what can we do? We owe Ike and Clint for that time down in Abilene when they drew the posse off us. Without them, you’d a been in a bad way.” Heyes checked his cinch one

final time before reaching to untie his horse. “How could I refuse a meet?”

“That’s why I should go. I’m the one that owes them.” Kid pulled his gun and checked the chambers. “Don’t seem right—Ike choosing such an isolated place to meet. Why here?”

“Kid! We’ve been all through this. He wants a plan. Plans are my job. You’re going to watch my back. That’s your job, right?” snapped Heyes as he swung up and reined his horse around. Softening, he added, “I’ll be careful.”

“You’d better be. The boys’ll have my hide if something happens to you before the payroll job,” said Kid angrily as he turned away.

Reaching the meadow quickly, Heyes rode along a creek bed using the willows and scrub he could find to keep himself out of Ike’s direct line of sight. It was a hot day and his sorrel mare had already worked up a sweat. Ike Wilson was waiting for him in an open meadow above a cliff overlooking the Uncomphagre River. Heyes could just make out the flashy bay Appaloosa that Ike rode. Ike was sitting still, his back to Heyes, and his head tucked down to avoid the brutal sun overhead. Heyes was still too far away for Ike to hear his approach and Heyes took pains to be quiet so as to give himself as much time as possible to assess the situation.

******************

The Kid and Heyes had been in Columbia with the gang after checking out a section of rail line linking Silverton to Durango, Colorado. Heyes had found some documents in a safe he had cracked last month at the Farmer’s and Merchant Bank in Delta. They outlined a large Army payroll shipment heading south with an army escort on horseback and then by train from Silverton to Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the 9th of next month. The stretch of rail between Silverton and Durango offered many opportunities for the gang to stop the train as it slowed to negotiate the steep climbs and tight switchbacks over Molas Pass. They’d just needed a firsthand look at the tracks to decide on the perfect spot to pull the job. That done, the gang had headed into Columbia for a little fun and relaxation at the Gilded Lady Saloon, where they were known and welcomed by the management.

Late last Saturday night as the last of the regular patrons had stumbled off into the warm evening, a young boy had entered the saloon and boldly approached Kid’s and Heyes’ table. “Sir”, he said, stopping in front of Heyes, “I’ve been paid a nickel to give you this.” He held out a folded piece of paper in his left hand and the open palm of his right hand. Heyes unfolded and read the short note. He tossed the boy another nickel, shoved the note in his pocket, and picked up his black hat. Standing, he growled, “Let’s go, Kid,” and marched out the door without a glance back. Surprised, Kid jumped up and followed his partner onto the sidewalk.

“What’s the note say?” asked Kid as they strolled along.

“It’s from Ike Wilson. Says he saw us ride into town but didn’t want to draw attention to the gang. He needs our help, Kid. The note says that his brother, Clint, has been caught by a couple of bounty hunters and Ike needs our help in coming up with a plan to free him,” explained Heyes.

“Just a plan, huh? Why doesn’t he want us to help free Clint?” asked Kid. “I don’t like it, Heyes. If all he wants is a plan, why don’t he just meet us here in town?”

“I don’t know. Could be he’s worried about being seen himself. Anyways, he’s asking us to meet at the bottom of Dallas Divide in that big meadow tomorrow around noon. The gang can stay here. You and I will make better time without them,” and without waiting for a reply from Kid, Heyes turned into the hotel and led the way up to their room on the second floor.

***************

Kid now watched Heyes from his vantage point on the ridge. He was following along at a jog keeping pace with Heyes below. He couldn’t see Ike right now because of a small swell of land blocking his field of vision, but he saw as Heyes suddenly pulled up and wheeled his horse out of the creek bed. “Damn it, Heyes, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?” yelled Kid as he spurred his big bay gelding into a gallop.

Heyes had finally realized what was bothering him. Ike was facing the wrong way. There was nothing in front of Ike but a ragged cliff that dropped off to the river below. He shouldn’t be looking that way, he ought to be looking west towards the Divide. Looking for Heyes to come. It was a trap! Heyes pulled up and wheeled up and out of the creek bed and started galloping back towards where he’d left the Kid.

Suddenly, he saw movement up at the tree line. Two riders rode out of the forest and were riding towards him in a diagonal sweep. Heyes reined his mare to the opposite side of the meadow, only to see two more riders also bearing down on him from that side. They were cutting him off! His only choice was to turn sharply and ride straight towards Ike.

Ike’s horse was shying back against a rope that picketed it to the ground. It became obvious to Heyes as he neared that Ike was tied to the saddle and not looking too good. As Heyes bore down on Ike, he pulled his hunting knife from its scabbard and leaning far off to his right; he swung his hand out and severed the rope holding the spooked horse captive.

Ike was only semi-conscious, but he managed to stay with his horse as it turned and charged away from Heyes and his pursuers. At that moment, another two riders on either side of Heyes broke cover and charged directly towards him. He was caught by a classic maneuver. One that his father had demonstrated to him with his own toy soldiers many times. There was nowhere to go. He was being driven to the cliff where he’d be forced to pull up.

Following as fast as his horse could run, Kid witnessed it all from above. He couldn’t believe they’d fallen into this trap and Heyes was going to pay for it with his freedom. There was nothing he could do. He was too far away to use his pistol and everything was happening too fast for him to be able to set up a rifle shot. “XXX, XXX, XXX,” he screamed as the wind ripped the words from his mouth. As he watched Heyes approach the cliff, he realized with horror that his partner was showing no signs of slowing up. “No, Heyes, no, don’t do it. Don’t!”

Heyes had gotten a good look at Ike when he set him free. He had been severely beaten and it looked like he’d maybe been burned. If these bounty hunters did that to the bait, what would they do to him? If they got a hold of him, how could he stop Kid from riding to his rescue and getting himself killed? In that moment, Heyes decided they weren’t going to catch him.

Heyes knew the cliff overlooked the Uncompahgre and he had seen the boiling, churning high water that the spring run-off from the snowy winter had created when they had ridden through the canyon earlier that week. It was deep, but was it deep enough? His mind ran through his options faster than his straining horse raced towards the edge. He knew she’d make the leap. She’d given him all that she had and more. She’d saved his neck any number of times. He also knew he wouldn’t do it, he couldn’t run his gallant little mare off the precipice. He just couldn’t destroy her in a last ditch effort to save himself. He pulled her up and swung her around broadside to his pursuers and, in one fluid motion; he threw himself off her and over the edge.

Kid pulled his horse up in shock. He couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. Heyes hadn’t even hesitated! Kid jumped off and raced, crouched over, to the lip of the cliff. Looking down, he scanned the length of the river searching for any sign of his partner. There! Downstream he saw something bouncing wildly in and out of the whitewater. Instantly, it careened into a large boulder and was pulled under by the current surging through the narrow canyon area. Kid watched for a long time. He could see the long stretch of river below the boulder, but he saw no sign of his cousin. Slowly he realized that it was over. Heyes could never have survived that fall. He was gone and Kid couldn’t quite believe that he’d never see him again. Turning away, he looked back up the meadow. The riders had disappeared.

*****************

With a groan, Heyes rolled over and vomited repeatedly. He was laying in the mud half in and half out of the water. The current tugged gently at his legs, pulling them along with it. He felt like crap. His head hurt and every bone in his body ached, but especially his ribs. It felt like he’d broken a few. No wonder. The last thing he remembered was dancing with a rock in the middle of the river. Gingerly, he got to his knees and then slowly levered himself up using a large tree branch within reach. He was caked with mud. Ow! His knees hurt. Must’ve banged them up, too. His hand reached up and brushed the wet hair out of his face. Forcing his eyes to stay open, he took a few moments to focus before taking in his surroundings. He was in open grassland and the mountains were far away. The river must have swept him miles downstream. There was absolutely nothing here. Grass as far as the eye could see. A few willows along the creek. He could see the Grand Mesa in the distance and knew that Delta laid in that direction. The Uncompahgre flowed right through town. It’d be risky to go there so soon after the bank job. He also knew this was Ute territory. He needed to keep moving, but he’d have to be careful. Using the branch like a crutch for support, he slowly hobbled along the river.

****************

The day was starting to cool as Kid reached the valley floor. Following along the river, he scanned the banks for any sign of Heyes. What he saw, tightened his jaw and made his mouth go dry with rage. There were fresh hoofprints. Six of them. Those buzzards were scavenging the river for Heyes’s body. Kid would be damned if he let them collect the bounty on his partner!

The high water raged through this section of the canyon. Carried along by the river were logs and debris torn loose by the force of the flow. Several times, he thought he spotted something only to realize it was a branch or tangle of weeds. He wondered what was snagged on the bottom that he couldn’t see. With that thought, he pulled off his brown hat, wiped his eyes on his sleeve, and paused for a moment.

Kid couldn’t stop picturing Heyes disappearing from sight over the drop off. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. Heyes never even hesitated! He didn’t stop to think; just threw his life away like an empty liquor bottle. Kid told him it was a mistake to meet Ike, but, no, Heyes wouldn’t listen to him. He always thought he knew best. Said it was Kid’s job to watch his back, but did he make it easy? Damn him!

No, not really. I’d give anything to see that arrogant, stubborn face again. Why didn’t he stay with him? He could’ve followed Heyes more closely; made sure he stayed in range. Who were these guys? Where did they come from? Once he found Heyes, he would find them and they would pay. Ike would pay for setting up Heyes like that. He’d make sure of it. Sighing heavily, he nudged his gelding on and resumed the grisly task of looking for his partner’s body.

Hours later, as the sun set behind the cliff, Kid was sitting in front of a small fire heating up a can of beans when he heard the sound of horses approaching. Quickly, he kicked dirt over the fire and rolled into the nearby underbrush. He pulled his gun and waited to see who was coming. His horse nickered a greeting into the dusky night.

“Wheat, did ya hear that?” asked Lobo.

“It came from over there”, answered Wheat.

Hearing his own gang, Kid stood up and dusted the leaves and dirt off himself. “Boys,” he drawled as the riders came into the clearing.

“Howdy, Kid, we been looking all over fer ya. Where’s Heyes?” asked Kyle.

“Yeah. What’s with ridin’ off and leaving us without a word?” challenged Wheat. The others just sat and waited for a reply.

“Is everything okay, Kid? You don’t look so good”, observed Preacher.

“Heyes is dead.” Kid choked out as he turned away.

“What!!?” “How??!” “What happened?” cried a chorus of voices.

“Ike Wilson happened. He sent Heyes a note to meet him, but it was a trap. There were six of them and they drove Heyes off a cliff trying to catch him,” said Kid bitterly.

“Them sonovabitches are gonna pay for that! Heyes’s the best leader we’ve ever had” yelled Kyle. The gang all murmured agreement and even Wheat looked shaken at the news.

“First, I plan to find Heyes and give him a proper send off. Then we’ll see about Ike Wilson and the others” said Kid.

TO BE CONTINUED

****************

Telluride was originally named "Columbia", the name was changed in 1887. The town was named after valuable ore compounds of the chemical element tellurium, a metalloid element which forms natural tellurides, the most notable of which are telluride ores of gold and silver. The popular story in Colorado is that Telluride is a contraction of “to hell you ride.”
Date Posted:03/07/2012 10:18 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:29 am

From Hunkeydorey


Okay. I haven't done any creating writing since school. So be gentle with me...

“Put your hands up, Mr. Curry, and keep them up...... I may be a woman, but I will shoot you unless you do exactly as I say.”

The man turned to face her as she sucked in an involuntary breath. Seeing the man brought back haunting pain and bedeviling pleasure in equal measure. How could she have forgotten about the devilish lights dancing in those deep, blue pools? A woman could drown in them at a single glance. She was surprised at the vivid intensity of the flashback surging to the fore, bringing with it the pain and vulnerability she had learned to conceal beneath a brittle veneer.

“You’ve made a mistake, Miss. My name is Jones.”

“Get your hands up!” I know who you are, even if you don’t remember me,” she thrust the weapon towards him as if to punctuate her dogged assurance.

“Really? Have we met before? Were you in Laramie, perhaps?” he shook his head dismissively, his eyes narrowing. “No..., that wasn’t you. I would have remembered.”

“I didn’t think you’d remember me. It was twelve years ago and I did look very different then,” she shook her head. “Now, turn around and keep them up, Mr. Curry.”

“It’s Jones, Miss,” said Kid. He complied, turning back to face into the early morning sun which blazed into his eyes, blinding him with penetrating rays of vivid phosphorescence which formed spots on his retinas. A thought ran through his head... surely she couldn’t have planned to have him stare into the low sun to place him at a disadvantage? His blood suddenly ran cold, hearing her cock the mechanism, ready to fire.

“I’m pointing the gun straight at the back of your head. Take your gun out of the holster and drop it.... use only the thumb and little finger. If you try anything, I will kill you,” her voice was calm and even, betraying no sign of the nerves jangling frantically at facing such an opponent alone. “Do it very slowly!”

Deciding that she meant business, Kid did exactly as he was told and heard his weapon clunk onto the ground, before she kicked it well beyond his reach. Who was this woman who handled a gun like a man, and had the nerve to order around one of the fastest guns in the West?

“Go over to that rock! Sit down.”

Kid looked round the copse and approached a small boulder before he turned to face her again, turning on his most magnetic smile. He felt far from charming, but there was no need for her to know how close he was to dealing with her.

“How about here?” he asked, trying to sound as conciliatory as possible.

“NO! Sit on the ground.... legs crossed, with your hands clasped behind your neck. I want it to be more difficult for you to get up in a hurry. The rock’s too high.”

“Looks like you’ve spent time playing with the big boys, Sweetheart. I gotta warn you, we can play real rough.”

Jessica dropped her arm and sat on a boulder at the far end of the clearing. She knew that she could not afford to show any sign of weakness to this man or he would capitalize on it instantly.

“Now we wait,” she announced.

He sat, reading the situation. She was sitting as far away as she could as this made it hard for him to rush her before she could open fire. There was a precipice behind him, where a foaming, boiling river prevented any escape. The only way out of here was cut off by her gun. Where could a young girl learn these things?

“Who are we waiting for?”

He stared into a mute, inscrutable, gaze. She was pretty enough, but the unfashionably plush mouth and intelligent eyes added character, lifting her from the norm.

She raised her eyebrows and smiled in admonishment. “Why don’t you tell the truth? I know who you are, in fact, we’ve spent quite a bit of time together.”

“Really? When? How could a woman spend time with the men like Kid Curry? Are you a prostitute?”

He was trying to provoke a reaction and was satisfied to see that his words had landed by the flicker in her eyes. “I don’t need to be forced to share myself with a woman like you. You should have more confidence in yourself,” he smiled, before his eyes hardened. “Put the gun down.”

“Don’t patronize me! No.... I’m not a prostitute, Mr. Curry. You’re going to jail and I’m going to put you there.”

Kid gave a snort of derision, drinking in the slight, redhead in front of him, with enormous, cinnamon eyes set against porcelain skin. “Is this some kind of joke!?”

“It’s no joke, Mr. Curry. It wouldn’t be my first choice to take you in this way, but you’re just too slippery and I have to take my chances where I can. That saloon girl won’t be meeting you here. She sold you out for twenty dollars.”

“Enough,” he retorted, incredulously. “Stop this! Right now! This is a very dangerous game.” He gave her the glare which made even the most hardened criminals in the west think long and hard about defying this man, but she tilted her chin in defiance and held his eyes.

“We wait right here! I have lawmen meeting us, Mr. Curry, and don’t underestimate me. I have many years of experience with guns behind me.”

“You can’t be more than eighteen.”

“I’m twenty six, Mr. Curry,” she replied, tersely. “Not that it’s any of your business. Women can do anything men can. A woman acted as an armed guard for President Lincoln!”

“Wasn’t he shot?” he asked, lightly.

She shook her head in frustration. “Think what you like!”

“Where have we met before? Twelve years ago. I’d have been twenty one and you’d have been what, fourteen... maybe fifteen? No wonder I can’t place you! You were just a kid.”

Her eyes betrayed a flutter of weakness, and for a split second there was a ghost of the familiar about her, but the memory dissolved before he could fully grasp it.

“It doesn’t matter,” her voice had suddenly lost some of its previous assurance.

His eyes glittered dangerously as he read her every nuance. “Ooh.... I think it matters, in fact, it matters a lot! Wherever it was, it wasn’t a very good time for you, was it? What happened to you? It wasn’t the Devil’s Hole Gang, they never hurt anyone.”

He watched her stand and start pacing, struggling to regain control of her composure. “Just shut up and sit quietly!”

“But this is real uncomfortable.” He turned, twisting his legs as he did so. He suddenly sprang at lightning speed, keeping low as he thudded across the ground and swiveled round, with his feet towards her, kicking her feet from under her. Jessica scrabbled for the gun which had tumbled from her grasp, but he seized her kicking feet and dragged her back towards him. Furious hands formed claws, but he swung himself on top of her and tightly pinioned her arms in an iron grip, the aggression in his voice cutting straight through her. “What the hell is going on!? Who are you?”

Jessica’s stomach whirled with fear as she tried to hide the rolling spasm of dread forming a metallic lump at the back of her throat. She was intelligent enough to know that there was no point in fighting battles she was in no position to win. She quickly decided that bravado was her best option as she steeled herself to stare defiantly into his feral, angry eyes.

When she spoke it was deceptively calm and even, but he noticed that her flared nostrils betrayed the apprehension which ghosted briefly across her large, brown eyes.

Jessica looked at him steadily, barely reacting to his yell as she openly balanced her options. “Let me go!”

He took her struggling wrists in one hand before he stretched out long fingers towards her face. His grudging respect for this woman grew, seeing raw courage unfold behind the wide doe-like eyes, flickering with trepidation, whilst he ran his hand gently over her fragile jaw.

“You fascinate me. More than is healthy. I’ve gotta go,” he released her hands and sat back on his heels, “but what am I supposed to do with you now?”

"You’re not going to do anything with me! Let me up!”

“YOUR NAME!! NOW!!”

He watched her flinch at his yell before she turned her head and looked off to the side to hide any unfolding emotions. “I don’t scare easily, Mr. Curry. I was weaned on violence, and I’ve spent too much time around men like you.”

Curry shook his head. “Almost everything that would work with a normal woman just slips right off you, doesn’t it? We really must spend some time together.”

Jessica’s stomach did a little flip of horror. What did he mean, ‘spend time together?’

He paused, realizing that bullying was getting him nowhere. “What’s your name?” he asked softly.

“Go to hell! You don’t need to know my name. It won’t do you any good in jail.”

“It’ll help me know who I need to thank,” he replied, darkly, the implied threat dripping from every syllable.

“Maybe you’ll find it out at your trial?” Jessica suggested archly.

“You’re some kind of bounty hunter? Do you take me for a fool?”

“No, Mr. Curry. I take you for a venal, corrupt, recidivist. But you’re no fool! Far from it.”

“You need to ask yourself, do I care what you think?”

Jessica felt his hot breath burn against her cheek before she steeled herself to glare at him. “You’ve built a career on making sure people don’t get hurt. It makes sure that you don’t face too long a sentence if you ever get caught. That’s what matters to you. Yourself!”

His eyes glittered dangerously. “Maybe, maybe not, but that’s your problem, ain’t it? You can’t be sure.”

“No. It’s your’s. Anything you do to me will have consequences.”

“That’s a risky strategy, Girl! What if I decide you’re just too much trouble?”

She gulped down a knot of fear. “You talk a lot, don’t you? I’m surprised you managed to keep quiet long enough to break in anywhere. Get on with it, then, unless you plan on talking me to death!?”

His eyes softened as he gave a little laugh. “You sure got guts. Maybe I should just show the same tender mercy as you showed me, and leave you here for someone to find?”

Jessica scowled, knowing that she was in no position to make demands. “Fine! Get off me! I never sat on you!”

“More’s the pity, eh?” he gave a chuckle as he climbed off, before stretching out a hand to help her up.

She coldly ignored it and scrambled to her feet, dusting down her skirts as she eyed him cautiously. “So? What now?”

He tilted his head. “Well, right now, I’m toying with the idea of tying you to that tree over there.”

Jessica snorted. “Why? Do you think an unarmed woman is going to outrun your horse and manhandle you to the ground.”

“I ain’t got time for this. You’ve clearly got back up comin’. Maybe we should continue this conversation somewhere else?”

“I’m sorry, I was desperate.”

“You are now,” he stared at her intensely. “Who are you and where do you know me from?”

“That’s not important.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, Lady!” he narrowed his eyes.

Jessica felt her stomach flutter with concern as she shook her head.

He stepped towards her. “I recognize you and if you’ve got ideas about turnin’ me in I need to know a whole lot more who you are.”

Jessica clenched her jaw as she considered her options. It was time to come clean. “My name is Jess Quinn.”

“Jess Quinn!” he shook his head in confusion. “I never thought I’d hear that name again in my life!” Kid snorted with explosive laughter. “Jess Quinn! I knew him! He’d be about sixty now, and had a beard you could hide a grizzly bear in. You sure picked the wrong name there, Girl!” he shook his head. “He was at least six foot three!”

“He’d be about fifty two. He was also a lying, thieving, no-good son of a....,” she bit into her bottom lip. “I have his name for the same reason I have his big mouth. I’m his daughter, Jessica.”

“Jess Quinn never had a daughter. He had a son. I met him.”

“That was me! When my mother left him, he stole me just to hurt her. He never cared a damn about me and made my life a complete misery. He cut my hair off and dressed me as a boy to drag me about the country. That’s the reason I know you.... and so many men like my father. I spent my half my childhood in hideouts and dives, mixing with some of the most dangerous men in the country. You taught me to shoot.”

He drank in the tiny figure in front of him. Jess Quinn had been a hard, cruel man; far too brutal to be allowed to stay with the Devil’s Hole Gang for any length of time and Kid remembered the terrible culmination of that episode with searing clarity. The tears in that child’s huge eyes had stayed with him for a long time, and he had still been shaking with anger when he tossed aside the stick he had used on Quinn after he had torn it from his hand. He was not about to stand back and watch a child be beaten mercilessly just because he had asked for his mother.

“No! That was a boy.” he muttered. “Never a girl.... and I certainly never knew that she was there against her will. It was just a boy with his pa.”

It made sense now. The lad had turned on him, biting, kicking, and screaming as soon as he had tried to remove the bloodied shirt to dress his wounds. No wonder! A grown man trying to take the shirt from a fourteen year old girl. He rubbed his face, deeply disturbed at the very thought of the incident.

She shook her head as she spoke softly. “No Mr. Curry, that was me,” she gulped and dropped her head. “That’s how I know you.”

“Jess!?” he took a step towards her, but stopped as she stepped back, her eyes widening in alarm. “I never knew.... I thought you were a boy of about six or seven! You were so small,” he smiled. “You still are.”

“I owe you a lot. If you hadn’t stepped in that day, who knows what would have happened to me,” she gave him a watery smile.

Curry paused, his brow furrowing. “This ain’t over, Jess,” he shook his head. “Why would you, of all people, try to turn me in?”

“I really am desperate,” she swallowed heavily. “One shining moment doesn’t make you any kind of hero. I know what you are and in a choice between you or my mother, there’s no contest.”

“Your mother?”

A voice barked an order from somewhere in the shrubbery behind them. “Curry! Hands up where we can see them!”

Kid grabbed Jessica and pulled her in front of him, gun drawn. “I’ve got the girl! If you open fire, you’ll shoot her.”

“You’re hiding behind a woman!?” growled Jessica, indignantly.

Kid whispered raggedly in her ear. “You ain’t just any woman. You set this up. You reap what you sow, Darlin’.”

“Curry! Let her go, there are six of us and only one of you. There’s only one way out. You’re wanted dead or alive, so do what you’re told.”

“You can’t win this,” hissed Jessica.

His arm tightened across her shoulders, pulling her to him. “Can’t I? There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

“Curry! Let her go. If she gets shot too, you’ll be remembered as a coward.”

Jessica sucked in a breath. “Patrick McCafferty! Don’t you dare shoot me. We had a deal.”

“Can’t make an omelet without breakin’ eggs, Jess! Ain’t nobody goin’ to be breakin’ cover for an armed Kid Curry.”

She felt Kid sigh heavily as he grasped her. “You didn’t think this through, did you?”

“You have to give up. There’s no way out.”

Kid edged backwards towards the edge, clasping her so tightly she had no option but to stumble along with him. The roaring of the water grew louder. “There’s a way out, but it’s risky.”

“NO! It’s at least fifty feet and that river’s full of rocks.”

He took another step back. “You’d have to be real desperate to do it.”

She writhed in his grasp. “Well, I’m not!”

“Oh, you are, Jess. As long as I’m up to my eyes in it, so are you. This is your fault.”

Kid felt her breathing become ragged and rapid against his chest.

“You got ‘till the count of three, Curry. You're wanted deal or alive.”

“Scared, Jess?”

“OF COURSE I’M SCARED!”

“One... Two...”

“You gotta come too, they'll open fire and you'll be the only one in the way. Ready? On three,” murmured Kid.

“No! Let me go!”

“THREE!”

Jess felt herself hurled over the edge. Her eyes fixed on the churning, fermenting foam rushing towards her as her heart pounded like a jackhammer whilst her flailing limbs whirled desperately, grasping at air.

OOOOOOOOOO

The little group of lawmen clustered at the edge, watching two dark forms being buffeted by the frothing, swirling maelstrom carrying them rapidly downstream.

“They ain’t got far before the waterfall. I say we wait there until the bodies surface on the other side of it. Then we got ourselves a real nice little earner.”

To be continued:


(Message edited by Hunkeydorey On 03/11/2012 6:11 PM)
Date Posted:03/11/2012 7:54 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:32 am

From Keays


I am sort of cheating once again by using a part of Twist of Fate for the monthly challange, but lately they just seem to be fitting right in with the topic. If you are following my epic tale then you have already read this part. If you don't like angsty stories then don't read this one--it gets down and dirty!


It was laundry day for Heyes and he was up on the third level as usual, putting in his day of washing and folding and distributing prison garb and other materials back to their respective cells. Everyone else was down on the work floor and aside from the usual noise made by the production activities the cell blocks were quiet and uninhabited.

Heyes had just dropped off his final pile of clean laundry to the linen room and was heading back to finish up the last of his duties when a sudden movement in a cell to his right caught his eye. He didn’t even have time to recognize it as a threat when he suddenly felt himself being propelled over to the railing and then a hand grasping his left ankle and hoisting him up and over.

Heyes let out a yell of shock and instant terror when he saw the work floor, three levels down come spinning up towards him as he went over the railing head first. Heyes’ insistence that he could move like a whip snake at the first sign of trouble fortunately was not an exaggeration. His left hand made a frantic grab for the hand rail just as his torso came over and down, quickly followed by his hips and then his legs. But his grip on the railing held and the momentum of his fall carried him around and his swing continued with his right hand grabbing hold then and carrying him on through the arch and he catapulted himself up and over the railing again, to land gracefully very close to his take off point.

All of this happened in the flash of an instant, and once he was upright again, all he got was a fleeting glance of Harris’ face and a pair of eyes filled with fear and surprise at the failure of his assault. Then he was gone and running like mad towards the stairs and the lower levels. Heyes took off after him—his blood was up and he was ready for a fight.

The inmates and guards down on the work floor had all glanced up at the sound of Heyes’ yell and now the whole area was in an uproar as every convict was voicing encouragement to their own favored pit bull. The guards were instantly busy, some trying to get the assembly back under control, while others were attempting to intercept the two antagonists and prevent a brawl.

Heyes didn’t even hear the uproar coming from the floor beneath him, or acknowledge the orders from the guards to stand down! Any game plan that he had worked out and intended on following at this point was gone from his mind and out the window. Harris had tried to kill him and Heyes had every intentions of reciprocating.

Harris reached the first stairway and ran down them three at a time, but Heyes got there right behind him and didn’t bother with the steps at all. He leaped, from a flat out run and landed squarely on Harris’ back. He grabbed hold, pulling both of them over and tumbling down the last few steps and onto the landing of the second level. They both felt the air knocked out of their lungs, but they were too far gone to care. Harris twisted around and plowed the heel of his right hand into Heyes’ nose. Heyes grunted, his eyes watering; he fell back against the wall, losing his grip, and then Harris was up and sent a kick towards his adversary but Heyes dodged it and grabbed hold of the foot, intent on bringing his quarry down. But Harris twisted away again and pulled free, leaving Heyes holding onto an empty shoe.

Then the chase was on again, but by that time Murrey and Pearson were on their way up the first flight of stairs, their bully clubs out and ready for action. Harris saw them coming and grabbing the hand rail, leapt over the railing and landed hard in amongst the other inmates who were more than happy to grab him and send him on his way. Heyes instantly followed suite and was given the same reception as soon as he hit ground level. The inmates were cheering them on, giving them running room and doing their best to block the guards and preventing them from interfering.

Murrey and Pearson had instantly turned on their heels and came charging back down the stairs again, their clubs swinging to clear themselves a path. By this time Davis and Reece had joined Carson on the floor, trying to restore order but the mob mentality had taken hold and it was turning into a free for all!

The alarm klaxon was screaming out its warning and the prison proper instantly went into lock down while every armed and ready officer on duty made a dash for the work floor. All fire arms were locked up to prevent an inmate from overpowering an armed guard and getting hold of the weapon, so only bully clubs were brought to bear Many of the inmates had grabbed hold of broom handles and other convenient pieces of equipment, preparing to meet the onslaught of the guards, and the riot was in full swing!

In the mean time Harris and Heyes were totally oblivious to any other battle going on aside from their own. Harris was running like mad through the work area, knocking over benches and work tables in an effort to trip Heyes up. But Heyes just leapt over them and kept coming. Harris twisted in his run and threw tools at him but Heyes just dodged any projectiles that came his way and he kept coming.

Two more strides and Heyes was on to him, grabbing the back of his shirt. Harris scrambled and got hold of a broom handle and twisting again he yelled his war cry and swung the handle around, aiming for Heyes’ head. Heyes brought his left arm up just in time, blocking the blow and didn’t even feel the wood breaking against his elbow. He was seeing red as he lunged at Harris and got his hands around his adversary’s throat. The two men went down with a crash and Heyes started to squeeze, his lips drawn back in an animalistic snarl.

Harris suddenly found himself fighting for his life! He twisted and squirmed, punched and kicked but no matter what he tried he couldn’t get his assailant off him. Then out of no where Heyes felt an arm come around his throat from behind and instantly the tables were turned and Heyes was the one fighting for air! His hold on Harris loosened and that convict pulled away from the grip and was instantly on his feet and gasping.

Heyes came to his feet as well, desperately reaching behind him, trying to get some kind of hold on whomever it was choking the life out of him. He dug his heels in and pushed backwards, sending himself and his assailant tumbling over a knocked down work table. The hold on his throat loosened and he twisted around to come face to face with Boeman.

Heyes’ rage came up another notch and he sent a right handed punch straight into Boeman’s face, breaking his nose but all that did was enrage his adversary even more. Boeman retaliated with a power drive of a blow to Heyes gut and then a sharp upper cut to his jaw, sending him staggering backwards right into the waiting arms of Harris.

Harris took the advantage and grabbing hold of Heyes, he held his arms back in a vice and Boeman came forward and began his assault with his fists. Heyes kicked out at him, but whatever blows he was actually able to land did nothing to slow Boeman down and he came on with his attack until Heyes tasted blood and mucus and knew he was on the edge of passing out.

Meanwhile the scuffle between the guards and other inmates was violent but short-lived. The guards were well trained in the techniques of squashing an uprising and the thin broom handles were no match for the disciplined and effective onslaught of the bully clubs.

It didn’t take long for the main insurgents to be beaten into submission and then the rest of the rioters were quickly subdued and pushed and prodded and cajoled back into their cells for the duration. At the same time as the group was being handled, Carson, Reece and Pearson came at a run to the three combatants who each seemed determined to demolish the work floor in their battle for supremacy.

Each guard grabbed an inmate and pulled them apart, but all three convicts were blinded by their battle rage and fought everything and anybody who came within reach. Pearson managed to drag Harris away and as that particular prisoner bit and kicked just for the sake of fighting, Pearson cold cocked him with the club and put him onto the floor. Then with the convict only semi-conscious, Pearson began to drag and haul him over to the stairs and back to his cell. One less to worry about.

But Reece and Carson still had their hands full. Once Heyes felt himself freed from Harris he head butted Reece and then lunged at the subdued Boeman and again went for the throat. Carson, Boeman and Heyes all went down in a heap and then Boeman was lose from Carson and he and Heyes were at each other again, fighting for the upper hand!

Carson was getting trampled by the two convicts and when Reece ran in to grab Heyes, he got nailed again with a staggering blow from Boeman that had been aiming for Heyes’ face, but missed. All four men were still sprawled on the floor, Kenny shaking his head from the blow and trying to get back on his knees and bring his club into play. Boeman was sandwiched in between Carson underneath him and Heyes on top and was frantic to get himself out into the clear.

He swung again at Heyes, this time hitting him square on the side of the head, knocking him over and then Boeman rolled clear of Carson and was attempting to get to his feet when Heyes grabbed him again. Boeman twisted, kicking out, but Heyes caught his leg, pulling him off balance and then made another lunge at the man and this time, getting a hold on his throat that wasn’t going to break loose. Boeman was lashing out, boxing Heyes on the ears, trying to kick at him but nothing was working and he was fighting for his life!

Reece was on his feet and hitting Heyes behind his knees with the bully club, trying to bring him down, but all that happened was that Heyes took Boeman down with him. Carson and Reece both had hold of their respective inmates, trying to break Heyes’ strangle hold on his adversary.

“HEYES!” Reece was yelling at him. “LET HIM GO!”

But Heyes only squeezed harder. His lids were closed to slits and his eyes had rolled back so that only white was shining through, he was in a blood lust and heard and felt nothing. Boeman was turning blue.

“GOD DAMMIT HEYES! LET HIM GO! I SWEAR I’LL BREAK YOUR FXXXING ARM! LET HIM GO!”

Finally, seeing no other way to end it, Reece stood and raising the bully club over his head he brought it down in a crushing blow to Heyes’ left forearm. There was a resounding crack as the bone broke in two and Heyes’ left arm loosened its hold and dropped to his side. He was still hanging on with his right, but Carson had grabbed his wrist and squeezed it until the fingers started to release and Boeman suddenly gasped in a lungful of air. He started to scramble away from his assailant but then Heyes’ lids opened wide and his eyes rolled down again and the rage that was in them was feral and beyond reason. He tried to lunge forward again and re-claim his hold on Boeman’s throat with his right hand, ignoring the pain coming from his left, but Reece had too strong a lock on him and he couldn’t quite reach his goal.

But he wouldn’t let up and he kept fighting against Reece while Carson got in between Heyes and Boeman and was trying to use his club to punch Heyes in the ribs, to block the onslaught. But it was cramped quarters and Carson couldn’t get any ‘umph’ into it and Heyes just didn’t feel it. Then Kenny, seeing no alternative again, resorted to extreme measures and brought his club down on the back of Heyes’ head and finally ended the battle. Heyes sank the rest of the way to the floor and lay there unconscious, his arm broken, his rib cage battered and bruised and blood covering his face to the point that he was unrecognizable.

The two guards breathed sighs of relief and pulled themselves back into sitting positions on the floor, taking in deep lung fulls of air and giving the adrenaline time to settle down. Boeman dragged himself away from his adversary and then lay on his back, mouth open gasping for air with a hand to his throat. Like Heyes he was bleeding from his nose, his mouth and his ears not to mention the numerous cuts and bruises obtained throughout the wild rampage through the work stations. He omitted the occasional groan.

Finally Carson got his breath back.

“All three of ‘em.” He stated between gasps. “Two days each in a dark cell. Beginning now! They can have the privilege of seeing the doctor when they get out!”

Reece was in no mood to argue.


Date Posted:03/13/2012 6:15 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:36 am

From Riders57


Leapin’ Lizards

Heyes and Curry pulled their hats down, tightening the stampede strings and squinting their eyes against the dust being whipped around by the gusts of wind scurrying down the street.

“Remind me why we’re here, Heyes.”

“Because Lom wired us to come meet Lancaster here to do a favor for the Governor’s goddaughter.”

“Favor -- so we won’t get paid.”

“Probably not.”

They both gave disgruntled sighs. They were tired and sick of being jostled for the three days it took the stagecoach to reach Albuquerque, New Mexico. They looked around as best the dusty wind permitted – no one around.

Finally a wagon pulled up.

“Mr. Smith? Mr. Jones?” the driver called out.

He got down and held out his hand. “I’m Lars Lancaster, so glad you could come.”

They shook his hand. Heyes, as usual, took the lead. “We’re pleased to be here, but I don’t think you’re the Governor’s goddaughter.”

“No,” the tall, blonde stranger laughed, “That would be my wife, Lucy.”

“Lars and Lucy Lancaster?” The Kid whispered to Heyes with a smirk. Heyes gave him a look and turned to their host.

“What exactly is it that we can do for you.”

“Let’s head back to the ranch, I need to get the supplies home and I can explain on the way.”

>>>>>ooOoo<<<<<

“Uncle Wilson said that we could count on you to provide some intelligent security here.”

“Security?” the Kid queried, “there a range war or somethin’ goin’ on, ‘cuz we don’t hire out our guns, even for the Governor.”

“No, nothing like that.”

“Water rights?” Heyes hazarded.

“No, or, at least, not really,” Lars answered. “Lucy can explain better than I. We just have an important race coming up and want a guard for our prize entrant.”

“Oh, you race horses?” Heyes asked.

“No, not exactly, let Lucy explain it to you.”

With that silence descended until they reached the ranch, the jostling and creaking of the wagon, making conversation difficult.

>>>>>ooOoo<<<<<

Lucy proved to be a petite, red-haired firebrand, her quicksilver movements and vivacious speech a counterpoint to her tall husband’s taciturnity. She also proved to be an excellent cook, which both ex-outlaws appreciated – it was not often they were able to enjoy good, home-cooked food and they expressed their appreciation by consuming vast quantities of it quickly.

After they had helped their hosts clear the table and all four were settled in front of the fire with whiskey enhanced coffee, the Kid looked at Heyes, who took a sip, then put his cup down and turned to business.

“So we understand that you need us to provide some sort of security. Security for what? What trouble are you anticipating?” Heyes asked.

Lucy and Lars looked at each other, then Lucy began, “You have to understand that it is very dry around here. We only get a few inches of rain a year. Most of us raise sheep…”

“You want us to protect a bunch of sheep? What about this race Lars mentioned? You race sheep?” the Kid exclaimed.

“No, no. There’s no problem with the sheep; we don’t need your help with the sheep. Really security isn’t the right word, but Uncle Wilson would have thought we were crazy if we told him exactly what we needed. It’s silly really, just a local tradition.” Lucy stopped for a moment.

“What’s a local tradition, Lucy?” Heyes prodded “and why does this require our help?”

“We’ve always gotten along well with our neighbors,” Lucy began again. “But there isn’t much water and there is a small piece of land on our northern boundary that we and our neighbors – the Gaines – dispute. The problem is that it is an ideal spot for a pond for the sheep. Well we’ve tried everything, we even went to court over it, but no knows who owns the land.”

“Sounds like a fight over water rights to me,” the Kid said. He turned to Lars, “I thought you said this wasn’t a fight over water rights.”

Lars looked uncomfortable.

“Well it’s not a fight, not really.” Lucy hastened to explain. “None of us want it to come to that. So we’ve agreed how to settle this once and for all.”

“How’s that and why do you need us?” Heyes asked again.

“On the 23rd of March every year, there’s a fair in town and part of that fair is a race. This year, we’ve agreed with the Gaines that whoever’s entrant does best gets the land, and therefore the pond. We don’t really think that there will be interference, but feelings are running high among the ranch hands and we need to focus on the sheep. But while we’d like you to keep an eye out and make sure that the rivalry doesn’t get out of hand, we really need help training our entrant.” Lucy smiled at them as if this were the most natural request in the world.

“Ya want us to train your entrant?” asked the Kid. “We don’t have any idea how to do that. We don’t even know what the entrant is.”

“Yes, Lucy, what exactly is being raced – you’ve told us it isn’t a horse or a sheep, so what is it?” Heyes smiled.

Lars and Lucy looked at each other then Lucy explained in a rush, “It’s a lizard.”

“Lizard?” The two ex-outlaws looked at each other.

Lars finally spoke, “The tripudius lacertilia is unique to the Sandia foothills outside of town. Linda, our entrant is a real beauty.”

The two looked at each other again. Finally, after some thought, Heyes began “This whatever you called it…”

Lucy saw their expressions and laughed. “Lars loves the local tradition,” she explained. “Tripudius lacertilia” is Latin for ‘leaping lizard.’ Some can jump as high as five feet and as far as four feet. Because it is only found around here, the fair has sort of a race to see which entered lizard jumps the highest and farthest. We need you to keep the peace among the ranch hands until next week’s race and would appreciate help in training Linda – our lizard.”

“Uh,” said the Kid looking bewildered.

“Uh,” said Heyes looking at the Kid. “We can help keep the peace, but can’t say we have any experience in lizard wrangling, but we’re willing to do what we can.”

Lucy and Lars heaved relieved sighs, “That’s all we need. Why don’t we all get some sleep, then we can show you what to do in the morning. Unlike most animals around here, Linda sleeps at night anyway, so you can meet her tomorrow.”

>>>>>ooOoo<<<<<

Two nights later Heyes and the Kid stood against the bar at the local saloon, keeping a wary eye on the tables of ranch hands from the Lancaster and Gaines ranches. They had come to appreciate what was meant by keeping the peace and had already broken up several fights in the past two days – luckily so far all had involved fists rather than guns or knives, but this was Saturday night.

“Strangest danged job we’ve ever taken on, Joshua,” said the Kid, being careful to use their aliases in such a public arena. “And we ain’t gettin’ paid either.”

“True, but you have to admit it’s not hard on the back, and we are getting Lucy’s great cooking and some comfortable beds to sleep in. We’ve had it worse. Besides I’m beginning to get fond of Linda.”

“Yeah, she’s your type of gal, Joshua – small and scaly,” the Kid joked. “But I gotta admit Lucy’s cookin’ may be worth this.”

At that moment, voices were raised and chairs flung aside as two of the rival ranch hands went chest to chest. Our two heroes grimaced and pushed their way between the two, each dragging a man to a corner of the saloon to cool down.

The sheriff who had just entered the saloon, watched them from the bar and when they returned to their posts, nodded genially at them. “Thanks for the assistance,” he said. “This is a quiet locale except around fair time. People sure get riled up about their lizards around here,” he offered.

The two exchanged sickly smiles, then shook the hand held out to them.

“Joshua Smith, Sheriff, and my partner, Thaddeus Jones. We’re just doing a favor for the Lancasters, trying to keep the peace.”

“Uh, huh,” said the sheriff, noting their tied down guns. “It’s the same every year and this year I hear the Lancasters and the Gaines have something extra riding on the outcome. Glad to hear you’re interested in keeping the peace – do it while keeping those guns of yours in their holsters and we can all be friends.”

“Absolutely.”

“No problem.”

“Uh, huh.” He grunted, shook their hands again, and left to continue his rounds. Heyes and the Kid looked at each other and ordered two beers in relief.

>>>>>ooOoo<<<<<

Fair day was warm and dusty. Children darted through the legs of the adults in the crowd, screaming with excitement. Groups of boys huddled in corners setting off firecrackers then running away before anyone could catch them. There were balloons and booths, three-legged races, sack races, and various other entertainments. By mid-afternoon and the time for the lizard race, everyone was wound up and ready for the big event.

As the participants prepared to begin the race, Heyes was mounted on one of the Lancasters’ horses to better view the crowds, while the Kid patrolled on foot. They had been alternating all day and in this way they had managed to keep an eye on the assorted ranch hands and head off any trouble.

Lucy had explained to them that all the participants lined their lizards up in low boxes at the starting line – this was along a wall marked every few inches so height could be determined, while the ground in front was marked so that distance traveled could be determined. The two measures were then added together and the highest overall number was the winner.

Heyes and the Kid were both interested in the race, having spent much of the last few days teaching Linda to jump at the sound of a single shot (the starting sound for the race).

All the contestants lined up, lizards at the ready. Heyes moved in close to the race official, fascinated by the race. The race official pointed his pistol in the air. Just as he shot the pistol, there were numerous loud bangs as the boys who had been playing with firecrackers let loose with every firecracker they had remaining.

Heyes’ horse leapt forward in terror at the sound and raced down the course and out of town while Heyes struggled to regain control. It was some time before he was able to calm his mount and return to the fair.

The Kid held the bridle while Heyes dismounted.

“You sure you’re okay?” he asked looking his partner over.

“Yeah, fine,” was the disgruntled reply. “I missed the race. So who got the pond?”

The Kid began laughing. “I guess you were too busy to notice, hmm?

“Notice what? Who won?”

“Little Sally Henderson won” the Kid said indicating a girl about eight years old who was clutching her lizard cage to herself while smiling delightedly.

“Okay so neither the Lancasters nor the Gaines won the race; who won the land?”

The Kid just laughed. “No one, Heyes. I guess you didn’t notice that you gained a couple of passengers as you raced through the startin’ line.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Both lizards jumped so far up that they landed on the saddle behind you. You looked like you had these two little tails behind you. Since you don’t have them with you now, who knows where Linda and her friend dismounted. The Lancaster and Gaines’ lizards were disqualified. In fact, all the lizards were disqualified, except Sally’s, which pretty much didn’t move.”

Heyes stared at the Kid, who couldn’t stop laughing. Finally, as what the Kid had told him sank in, he too began laughing.

“So now what?” he asked when they had sobered up.

“I don’t know Heyes. Let’s get a drink or two while you figure out a plan to resolve this land dispute once and for all before it really does become a fight.”

>>>>>ooOoo<<<<<

Once again, Heyes and Curry stood outside the Albuquerque stage depot, squinting against the dust swirled by the wind. This time, however, Lars and Lucy were with them.

As the stage pulled up and they began to say their goodbyes, Lucy reached out to hug them.

“Thank you so much. I can’t believe you solved our problem.”

“That’s why we came,” Heyes said.

“Yes but what an inspired solution. Of course we should have thought of it – both ranches sharing the land and splitting the cost of digging the pond. You are a genius.”

“Now Lucy, I wouldn’t say that,” protested the Kid. “It was a pretty easy solution after all. Sometimes he has some good ideas, but his head don’t need to be gettin’ any bigger. Any time you start thinkin’ he’s a genius; just remember the sight of him headin’ out of town on that horse with two lizards clingin’ on like tails.”

Lars and Lucy laughed with the Kid at the memory while Heyes scowled.

“Well, anyway, both of you were wonderful. Come visit anytime. I’ll be sure to let Uncle Wilson know how helpful you two were.”

“Bye Lucy. Bye Lars. You two take care.”

With that they climbed onto the stagecoach and it rolled out of Albuquerque – no one noticed the two lizards peering
out of Heyes’ saddle bags as the stage lumbered on.



To answer folks' questions, as far as I know there are no such things as the leaping lizards of Albuquerque and no such fair. Also I apologize for my Latin -- that's what I got through googling latin translations of "jumping" and "lizard." No idea if it is scientifically or linquistically accurate.


(Message edited by Riders57 On 03/14/2012 6:49 PM)
Date Posted:03/14/2012 2:35 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:38 am

From EleanorW


The two horses snorted noisily as their riders pushed them up the steep, rocky incline, their hooves clattering loudly on the hard rock. They had been running almost non stop for the last twenty four hours and but for the pedigree of their breeding would long since have keeled over with exhaustion.

As they reached a crest, affording an open view of the surrounding landscape, Kid Curry glanced anxiously back over his shoulder.

“Any sign?” Hannibal Heyes asked, gruffly, as he guided his horse around a boulder and turned it ninety degrees towards the next upward incline.

Curry squinted as he scanned the landscape, doing a double take when his gaze spotted a thin plume of dust below them, at the base of the rocky ridge they were now ascending.

“Yeah.” he growled. “Closer than before.”

“Well, we had to slow down to climb. They’ll have to as well.”

“I guess.” muttered Curry, unconvinced. They had been trying to outrun the posse sent out by the Sheriff of the last town they’d visited - after he’d recognized them – for the last day and a half. Twice they’d believed they’d lost them, only to realize the men were still on their trail.

With no opportunity to sleep and time only for very brief stops, for water and to give their horses a breather, both men were as weary as their mounts and becoming increasingly frustrated by their inability to shake off the posse.

“How can such a backwood town as that one we just passed through turn out a posse as relentless as those guys?” Curry growled at Heyes as he turned his horse to follow his up the ridge.

“I hear tell the James’ were active around these parts a few years ago.” Heyes replied, breathlessly. “I guess the posses needed to be on the ball to deal with the likes of them.”

Curry grunted, irritably, before they fell into silence as they pressed onwards and upwards.

Half an hour later, they pulled up their horses and dismounted, going to the edge of the trail they were on, and peering anxiously down for a sign of their pursuers.

For the moment they could see none, but both knew that it was only because they posse was out of sight further back around the ridge. But at least they didn’t appear to have gained on them any further since beginning the climb.

Curry turned to look up towards the top of the ridge.

“Do you have any idea where this is going to take us?” he asked.

Heyes lifted his eyes from the trail below them, to follow his partner’s gaze upwards.

“I don’t even know where the hell we are, let alone where we might be going.”

“Aww, Heyes...” Curry shook his head disparagingly. “What if—“

“Don’t!” Heyes cut him off, swinging back into the saddle and turning the horse to continue upwards, knowing what Curry was thinking; what if they found there was no escape route when they got to the top. Heyes didn’t want to think about that.

They pressed on and presently the trail levelled out as it wound between trees that clung precariously to the rocks.

Heyes suddenly pulled his horse to an abrupt halt, Curry’s horse almost riding into the back of it. Moving alongside his partner’s horse, Curry’s jaw fell open when he saw the reason for Heyes’ abrupt stop. A few yards in front of them, a deep cleft in the rockface, carved by the river that now ran through it hundreds of feet below them, prevented further progress.

Curry looked left and right. The chasm seemed to go on for miles with no obvious way to ride around it.

“Now what?” he questioned, a faint note of panic in his voice. The posse couldn’t be far behind them, there was no going back – and no going forward either. They were trapped.

When Heyes didn’t reply, Curry turned to look at him. Heyes was staring at the rocky ledge on the opposite side of the chasm.

“What are we gonna do, Heyes?” Curry asked again.

“Jump.”

“Wha--?” Curry looked dumbfounded, peering over the edge to the river way below them. “Are you crazy? We’d never survive a jump from this height even if the water was deep enough to land in – and it looks like its full of rocks.”

“Not down. Across.”

Curry lifted his gaze to look at the opposite side of the ridge.

“Impossible. That gap has to be fifteen, maybe eighteen feet.”

“More like twenty.” Heyes acknowledged.

“We’d never make it. It’s too far for the horses to jump even if they were fresh, and they’re nigh on exhausted.”

Heyes turned his gaze to the Kid’s. “What choice do we have, Kid? You think that posse is gonna turn us in to serve our twenty year jail sentences? The reward is the same dead or alive. After trailing us so determinedly for the last day and half they’re not going to be in any mood for niceties when they catch up with us. If we don’t make that jump we’re dead anyway.”

Curry looked back over his shoulder as he pictured the posse looming closer, then turned again to look at the gaping chasm, calculating the odds on the jump succeeding.

“We don’t have enough of a run up.” he pointed out. “They’ll fall short.”

Heyes put a hand on his shoulder. Curry turned to look at him. His dark eyes showed apprehension, but at the same time, in their depths, Curry saw determination mixed with something else – faith. Heyes had always had an unshakeable belief in his ability for self preservation, a kind of inner sense that whatever choices he made to preserve/prolong his life would succeed because it was destined to be so. Curry thought they were about to commit suicide in a spectacular fashion, but he held Heyes’ gaze and, calmed by Heyes’ apparent faith in success, nodded a silent consent.

Heyes smiled, a mischievous twinkle coming to his eyes at the prospect of challenging fate.

Turning away, Heyes mounted his horse and rode it as far back as the trail allowed before turning it to face the chasm. Curry mounted up and did the same.

They turned to look at each other one last time before, in unison, they spurred their horses into a run.

At the last second the horses tried to veer away but they forced them on and the animals launched themselves off the edge.

For what seemed like endless seconds a strange silence seemed to engulf them as they flew through the air, expecting any second to plunge down to the river below. Then, hooves hit rock, and the horses were frantically scrambling onto the trail on the opposite side.

Once safely away from the edge, Heyes and Curry dismounted and petted their horses to calm both them and themselves. It was many minutes before either felt able to speak.

Curry was first to break the silence.

“Do you think they’ll follow us?” he asked, glancing back across the chasm for a sign of the posse.

Heyes, who’d had his forehead pressed to his horse’s neck as he’d gently stroked the animal to calm it, now lifted his head to meet Curry’s gaze. There was a slightly disbelieving expression in his eyes, as though he could scarcely believe they’d actually pulled it off, combined with a glint of righteousness, as though he’d always known that they would.

“Would you, if you didn’t have to?” Heyes raised a questioning eyebrow.

Curry smiled. Heyes smiled back.

Once the horses had recovered, they remounted and set off down the other side of the ridge. They rode in companionable silence, each alone with their thoughts of what they’d risked - and won.

An hour later, the posse arrived at the chasm. After riding up and down the trail for a while, looking for a sign that their quarry had turned around and headed back down by a different route, they decided that the two men must have come unexpectedly upon the chasm failed to stop and had fallen over the edge to their deaths in the river below. That they had jumped the gap to freedom never occurred to them. After all, a jump like that was impossible – wasn’t it?


This tale was drawn from an account of Jesse James allegedly making a similar jump, as detailed at

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/17917

Oops, don't know what happened to the formatting. I did it in Notepad, and it looked fine, but now I've posted it, there are large gaps between the paragaraphs.


(Message edited by EleanorW On 03/15/2012 8:46 PM)
"Death is not the end of all, yet just the close of a glorious fall..." PD
Date Posted:03/15/2012 7:28 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:41 am

From AllegraW


MAKING THE LEAP (This one is for you, Remuda. I said I'd try and a bunny hopped! Thanks)


“What’re we doin‘ here, Heyes“ Kid Curry does not sound particularly happy about his situation. This is hardly surprising since ‘here’ happens to be lying belly-down on the cold earth behind a helpful, concealing group of shrubs.

“That’s a rhetorical question, right?” comes the answering question as two brown eyes scan the area in front of their hiding place. There doesn’t seem to be much to see, at least not from their position behind a bush. The ground is barren rock which then just disappears as an edge.

“No, it ain’t!” A hissed reply. “You just dragged me all the way up here this afternoon without a word of explanation.”

“Kid! Surely I don’t have to remind you? The mayor’s daughter?!!”

“I know about the mayor’s daughter,” Curry whispers in irritation, “I was there for the job interview…with the mayor - and I couldn’t believe my ears. What is it with mayor’s daughters an’ you anyway?”

“I could ask you the same.”

“You started it.” A pause and then a sigh, followed by a rustle as the Kid moves in an attempt to get more comfortable. No chance of that. “Tell me what we’re doin’. We’re supposed to be working.”

“Shhh! We are.” Heyes continues to scan the area carefully and then he turns to his partner. “There’s no-one here. Right, c’mon I’ll show you.” He scrambles up and then beckons to the Kid before moving forward.

Curry glares at his back before hastening to follow him. “’course there’s no-one here. We’re in the middle of nowhere! Why would anyone want to be here,” he grumbles.

Heyes ignores him and trots forward coming to a stop about fifty yards from where they have been hiding. He turns to the Kid. “Look,” he says happily.

Curry joins him where he is now standing at a cliff edge. Below, it is possible to see the town that they have been staying in. It looks small from where he is standing, but Curry is no further to feeling enlightened. “What?” he asks.

Heyes gives him a triumphant look (which is easily ignored if one is so inclined. Curry is). “Kid,” he says, “this place is called ‘Lovers’ Leap’. I found out about it when I was asking about places young people like to go when they want to be alone.”

“Lovers’ Leap?” questions Curry. He looks around at the isolation and smiles. “Sounds to me like it oughtta be called ‘Lovers’ Tumble’ if it’s for what you’re telling me.” He pauses and then adds, “Mind you, hormones bein’ what they are at a certain age, if they’re that desperate…”

Heyes’ eyebrows knit together in irritation. “It’s got nothing to do with that. This is a cliff. You can ‘leap’ off it.”

“’Leap’?”

“’Jump’, then.”

“I can jump off a cliff?”

“And who said you weren’t an ideas man. Yeah, Kid, you can jump off it.”

“Why would I want to?”

“Huh?”

“It’s called ‘Lovers’ Leap’. Why would I want to jump off a cliff if I was in love? Sounds kinda dumb to me.”

“Lotsa reasons. Love ain’t always happy, is it? It can make a person desperate. Maybe if the love is unrequited.”

“That ain’t enough to make a person jump. Some like it noisy. No need ta be embarrassed really, but you’re right. It’s a good reason to come up here. More private.”

“What are you talking about? I mean when someone is in love but the other person don’t love them back.”

“That can happen?” Curry looks puzzled. “ Ain’t never happened to me. I’ve always loved ‘em back.”

“If you were given the chance.”

“I’m a gambler. I take chances.”

“Figures, and I bet you’ve never been so hurt in love that you wanted to kill yourself either.”

“Nope, but I reckon I could be moved to kill someone to get a decent meal sometimes, especially if someone gets it into his head to start a fight before breakfast.”

“And people call me a cynic. Let’s get back to the mayor’s daughter.”

“You finally gonna tell me why we’re here?”

Heyes glares and Curry puts his hands up in mock surrender. “Okay, I’m listenin’. What about Edith?”

Heyes waits a second to make sure the Kid really is listening before he continues, “well, since she’s been forbidden from meeting up with her young man.”

“Clive.”

“Yeah, Clive, I figure this would be a good place for the two of them to come up and get together without her pa catching on.”

“We’re back to the other interpretation of ‘Lover’s Leap’ I take it?”

“If that’s how you wanna see it. I mean look around you.” Heyes sweeps his arm indicating the view, “pretty romantic ain’t it?”

“You’re not my type.”

“An’ you’re not taking this seriously enough.”

“I’m perfectly serious. You’re really not my type. You never shut up for one, and none of your yakking is ever about me.”

“Are you finished yet?” Heyes’ eyes have turned into slits as he subjects his partner to the full outlaw leader stare.

“Sure Heyes. Go ahead.”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

“Sure I do. Daddy don’t approve of their romancin’ and, seein’ as he’s the mayor, he’ll have enough people around willin’ an’ able to make life difficult for a pair of love-struck teens. So, you reckon they maybe come up here sometimes for a bit of privacy which is why we’re here so we can catch ‘em red-handed and finally get paid for doin’ a job.”

Heyes stares at the Kid.

Kid raises his eyebrows at his partner. “I get it, don’t I?”

Heyes shoves his hat back off his face and then pulls it forward again before finally admitting in a pained voice, “yeah, you get it.”

“Ouch. That hurt - So let’s get back behind the bushes to wait.” Curry looks smug. Again, Heyes can only glare before turning to march back towards the shrubs which had been hiding them.

The Kid turns to follow but his eyes narrow as he watches the bushes where they had been hiding. He hurries to catch up to his partner and puts a hand on his arm to stall him. “Heyes!” he hisses indicating their hiding place with his eyes. His partner studies the area as Curry takes out his gun. “Alright,” the Kid shouts, “whoever you are, come outta there!”

The bushes rustle and move. Heyes has drawn his gun too and they split up to cover the bushes from both sides as two figures, male and female, emerge from behind the shrubs. They put up their hands.
“Don’t shoot,” calls the boy.

“Edith!” says Kid staring at the girl. She gives him a scowl worthy of an outlaw leader.

“And Clive, I take it,” says Heyes to the young man at her side who is looking decidedly less sure of himself. Heyes quickly puts away his gun.

“You can put your hands down.” The Kid also re-holsters his weapon and the two teens lower their arms. Clive is looking wide-eyed and alarmed but Edith’s jaw is set as she stares at the two ex-outlaws.

“It’s alright, Clive,” she says, “I’ll deal with this.”

Clive merely seeks out her hand and holds it tightly.

“Your Pa’s gonna be mad when he finds out you’ve been coming up here to meet, you know,” Heyes tells them.

“You think!” Edith sneers as Clive cringes, “well, let me tell you, Pa isn’t gonna find out.”

“Sorry, young lady,” Heyes says, “but we’re being paid to see if you were trying to sneak off to meet up with Clive here.” He looks at the pair of them, Clive anxious and Edith defiant. “I guess you are.”

“And you’d better keep it to yourselves, Heyes,” snaps Edith and both ex-outlaws go still. “You don’t pay much attention when you’re alone do you?” She arches her eyebrows at them, “Kid and Heyes? Well, I figure if you’re gonna snitch on me, then I’m gonna do some snitching of my own.”

“Edith, please,” Clive begs. “They belong the Devil’s Hole Gang. They’ll kill us.”

“Nonsense, Clive,” Edith rolls her eyes at her ‘lover’. “Think a little. How would they explain that? What’s more Daddy’d hang ‘em both.” She turns to Heyes and Curry. “What do you say, gentlemen? No harm done? You leave town after telling Daddy I’m being a good girl, and I’ll forget that Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones are actually notorious outlaws?”

“You’re kidding. Your pa will find out soon enough anyway. This place is hardly a secret,” Heyes is not quite ready to give up.

Edith clutches hold of Clive’s arm and Clive looks unhappily back at her like a lovesick puppy before turning his attention to the ground. “Oh, Daddy will come around once he realizes I’m serious. Clive is a bit nervous of him but I keep telling him he doesn’t need to worry, do you Clive?” She gives his arm a predatory pull as she smiles up at her lover and Clive nods and mumbles still looking down. “See?” says Edith triumphantly looking back at the partners. “I can handle it.”

“I bet you can,” says the Kid dryly and Edith beams at him.

“Is it a deal?” she asks.

Kid nods, “I guess so.”

“Deal,” sighs Heyes as he watches Clive who is still looking miserably at the ground, “you alright, Clive?”

A subdued nod from Clive as Edith answers, “’course he is. Well, we must be off. Can’t hang around here seeing as Daddy’s spies seem to be everywhere. Come along, Clive.”

Edith marches back along the path leading away from ‘Lovers’ Leap’ with her true love nervously in tow. Kid and Heyes watch them depart. They can hear Edith lecturing her man how careful they must be from now on mixed with the odd monosyllabic reply from Clive.

“Poor Clive. He’s got his work cut out,” comments Heyes as the pair disappear from view, “but you know, I reckon her pa shouldn’t worry about her. She’s pretty sure of what she wants and I reckon she’ll get it too.”

The Kid nods his agreement. “I wouldn’t like to cross her,” he replies. “Now the question is, after experiencing how Edith is, do we risk going back to town to see if we’ll get any pay for our work today?”

Both men’s eyes survey the leap of certain death in front of them before catching each others’ eyes.

“Uh-uh!” they say together, and turn towards their horses.


Date Posted:03/17/2012 4:57 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:44 am

From Fortitudine



Leap of Faith

Frailty, thy name is woman. ~ (William Shakespeare)

It was Breck what thought of it.

“No owlhoot’s goin’ to harm a poor helpless girl-kid on her way home from visitin’ her brother.” He looked at me a might skeptical. “Lucy, d’you think you c’d look helpless? If’n you really tried, I mean?”

I snorted genteelly and shifted the Greener to my other hip.

Cal Langdon was fretting. “They’s plenty hombres around here wouldn’t stick at holdin’ up a female.”

“Well, if they does catch her, I reckon she’ll persuade ‘em to let her go,” Breck said.

Cal and my brother Breck was partners in the mine, y’see, and they finally struck a vein and had a lot of ore needed to be took to the assay office. Trouble was, badmen in those parts was thick as fleas on a blue-tick hound right then, and all sorts of hard-cases was bushwhacking miners on the off chance they had valuable samples on them. And then taking over their claims at gunpoint.

So they had to get the ore out without attracting a lot of unwanted attention. I’d rode up from the Crossing with a mule-load of supplies a few days previous, and it seemed to me that Breck, for once in his bone-headed life, had come up with a pretty good idea.

His partner didn’t think so and he objected on the grounds that it was too dangerous. Which was surprising seeing’s how it was my own blood kin made the suggestion. But male critters are funny that way, ‘specially after they just spent three months in the mountains with nothin’ to look at but rattlers, rocks, and each other.

Us Pritchards has a name in our neck of the woods for foaling big, good-looking young’uns. I ain’t a patch on my oldest sister Nan or even my next oldest sister Dolly, but there’s fellows back home would be glad to run uphill after me. I don’t want folks to think I’m careless with my affections, only a girl gets to where she can read the signs and I concluded that it was high time I left the neighborhood of one Cal Langdon before he got notional. Cal’s all right but he ain’t but six foot tall or so and I’ve always cottoned to men I can look up to.

After I helped Breck sew the best of the samples into a money belt, I went back down in the mine and stripped to my stays and tied it around me. Once I was decent again you couldn’t hardly tell the belt was there --- or at least a man’d have to get real fresh before he found it. Breck put some tailings in my saddlebags, iron pyrites and low-grade ore, to fool any sidewinder who might stop me.

I started for home at sunup. I had Breck’s old dog Buster, a fast horse and the Greener, so I calculated my chances was as good as anybody’s. Also I knowed the hill paths and was planning on using them.

After a while a couple of cowpokes rode by. Polite enough and all, touched their hats and even said good morning, but I didn’t dally to pass the time of day. One of them had his pistol tied worrisome low on his leg and I decided to put some real estate between us. I didn’t want no professionals on my back trail.

I had jogged my horse on a ways further when I come upon a man on a dun mustang blocking the road. He wore a cowhide vest and a mean expression, and I didn’t waste time on idle conversation. I had him covered before he could slap leather.

He cussed at me when he saw that. “Missy, you drop that scattergun an’ fork over your saddlebags or you’ll be sorry!”

“You ain’t in no position to be makin’ demands,” I answered him, bold as brass.

“You don’t know who you’re foolin’ with,” he sneered.

“No, and this ol’ fowling piece of mine don’t care. Now less’n you want me to tickle your liver with a load of double-aught buck, you make yourself scarce.” I jiggled the Greener, which is a habit of mine when I’m nervous.

I heard horses behind me and danged if it wasn’t them two cowpokes.

“You do like she says, mister,” the one with the hardware suggested. The way he angled away from me so’s both of us had a clear shot at man in the cowhide vest caused me to suspicion that he’d done this once or twice before.

Mr. Cowhide Vest wasn’t happy but he seen I had some powerful arguments on my side.

“You ain’t heard the last o’ me,” he warned us, and he turned his bronc and rode off.

“Nice popgun you got there.” It was the gunhawk-looking fellow what spoke.

“It was left me by my Uncle Odom.” I laid the Greener acrost the crook of my elbow where it wasn’t pointing at nobody but I could still bring it to bear if I had to.

“Funny inheritance, for a girl,” the other one said. He seemed more of a peaceable kind, all pleasant and smiling.

“Oh, Uncle Odom ain’t dead, he’s just spendin’ some time down Yuma way on account of havin’ a fool for a lawyer.”

They looked at each other.

“Ma’am, it’s none of our business, but I’d sure like to know what that jasper wanted,” the peaceable one asked.

It was chancy, but I decided I was going to trust them, partly at least. “I’m packin’ a saddlebag full of gold ore samples from my brother’s mine out so’s they can get assayed.”

“All by yourself?”

“We figgered I had the best chance. An’ I ain’t alone, exactly.” I patted the Greener. “I’m awful obliged to you gents for stoppin’ by. But I got to get goin’ if I want to be home ‘fore sundown.”

“Whoa, now. Hold on just a minute.” He sounded worried for some reason. “What if he comes back?”

“I’ll have to shoot him, I reckon.”

He seemed to want to talk about it until the gunhawk pointed out that there was four men comin’ up the trail towards us at a dead gallop, and one of them was Mister Cowhide Vest, and maybe we’d better mosey.

Those owlhoots started blasting away when they saw us so we put spurs to our horses and moved out pronto. When we come to a fork I headed left and my two new friends followed me straight up a rise. I pulled up at the top and they did too when they saw the drop off in front of us. It was a narrow canyon, steep and sheer, and they must’ve wondered what I was up to.

I got down, looped the reins around the saddle horn, and slapped my horse on the rump to send him off. The gunhawk was a sensible sort and he done the same. I was beginning to lose patience so I hauled the other one down and pushed him over to the edge.

“Jump,” I said. I pointed to the line of brush on the other side of the gap and a few yards below us. “There’s a ledge there, ‘bout six foot wide. You aim for the bushes an’ you’ll be fine.”

“How wide?”

It appeared to me that he might be one of the arguing kind so I took him by the elbow and flang him over. I was ready to do the same with the gunhawk only he allowed as how he wanted to try it under his own steam. After he made it acrost I slung the Greener over my shoulder and jumped.

It was that danged belt full of ore almost done it for me --- I hadn’t quite took enough of a running leap and my hands hit the ledge and begun to slip. The two strangers grabbed my wrists and pulled me up. I called Buster and he whimpered a little but made the jump easy, four legs being more suited for that sort of thing than two.

The ledge meandered around the cliff face to where a path ran down to the bottom of the canyon, but before I could herd us in that direction the talky man stopped me.

“Is there something else you want to tell us?” he asked, and he give my middle a sort of a pat. I thought about slapping him one but didn’t seem polite, not after him being shot at on my account. So I admitted that there was low-grade samples in the saddlebags and real ones in the money belt.

“Ahhh…how much ore are you carrying, anyway?”

“Only ‘bout thirty or forty pounds. We need to get movin’ --- there’s a waterhole just up the canyon a ways an’ them horses is prob’ly waitin’ for us there.”

He must’ve been winded from the jump, ‘cos he made a funny sound through his nose before he started after me.

The canyon widened out after about half a mile into a open place with the waterhole at the end of it, which is where I figured the horses would head to and I was right. Problem was, the owlhoots was there too, three of them at any rate, and when they spotted us they unlimbered their artillery and gave us a warm welcome. We ducked down behind some boulders and listened to rounds spang off the canyon walls.

“Now what?” The talky man sounded a tad cross.

“You keep ‘em pinned down while me and Buster jump ‘em from behind,” I said.

“Just a minute --- “

He was making me tired. “Mister, I been runnin’ these hills since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. You get their attention an’ don’t worry ‘bout me!”

I’ve met men like him before, they have to jaw about everything, so I took off and left him there.

There was plenty of cover, and me and Buster made it around back of them without being seen. I turned Buster loose and crawled up behind the closest one and like Samson done to the Philistines, I smote him hip and thigh. Or in the belly, actually.

About the time I got done pacifying my man with the Greener, I heard somebody let out a yell over by the cottonwoods where Buster had found him. It might’ve ended right there but the third hombre was rudely inclined and he had just throwed down on me when a bullet parted his hand from his hogleg. It was a right pretty piece of shooting from the gunhawk, and I couldn’t have done it better my own self.

That desperado begun dancing up and down holding on to his fingers and raising all kinds of Cain so I belted him to calm him down some. The other varmint was laying acrost the path and not moving, Buster having chawed him in the vitals.

“Wrassle a cat in patches,” I said, solemn-like, and grabbed the yahoo’s feet and drug him out of the way.

The strangers come running up and the talky one looked at me funny.

“It’s Dago or Irish or some such lingo,” I told him. “I learnt it when a neighbor got planted by this traveling priest and I always thought it sounded real elegant.”

“Oh,” he said. “Requiescat in paces.”

Well, now, that was how his stick floated --- he was a preacher! Had to be. I did wonder about him trailing around the mountains in the company of a straight-up, no-foolin’ pistolero, but maybe they was doing some missionary work. I reckoned I’d better clean up my talk a bit and watch my dog-gones and dad-gums. I didn’t want to shock him none.

We caught up the horses and I brung us back to the main trail.

“You know this country pretty well,” the preacher said, kind of peevish, and me and the gunhawk rolled our eyes at each other behind his back.

“I wonder where our friend in the fancy vest is.” It bothered me. He had to be hiding out someplace waiting to ambush us.

We met coming around a pile of rocks and I don’t know which of us was more surprised. He must’ve heard the shooting and thought his gang had took care of us instead of t’other way around. His face got real ugly when he saw me still up on my hind paws, and I shifted in the saddle to where I could cover him.

“Mister, you’re beginnin’ to rile me --- you touch that gun an’ I’ll put a harp in your hand,” I warned, and his reply was downright insulting to a damsel of tender years. I was about to introduce the butt of my Greener to his front teeth when the preacher spoke up.

“You watch your language or I’ll knock you clean out from under your hat,” he said. Which I thought was real gentlemanly of him.

“Friend,” the gunhawk added, “Turn that horse around and ride on. It’d be the healthy thing to do.”

Mister Cowhide Vest moved fast but the other man moved faster. I never seen anything like it --- that owlhoot’s hand was still six inches from his hip when a shot rang out and his holster went sailing off into the brush. I looked over and there was a curl of smoke coming from the barrel of the gunhawk’s Colt and a tight little smile on his face.

Mister Cowhide Vest thought it over for about as long as it takes a duck to swallow a June bug and then he pulled his freight.

I didn’t have no more trouble, but them two stuck with me until we got to where the trail sloped down to the road into the Crossing. “There’s home,” I said. That little cluster of cabins off in the distance looked mighty good right then.

The preacher put his hand on my bridle-reins and I stopped, and he stopped.

“It occurs to me,” he remarked to the gunhawk, “that you are kind of unnecessary right now.” His pard grinned and kept going and the two of us sat there looking at each other.

My ma always says you can’t trust brown-eyed men, and my pap and two of my step-dads had brown eyes, so she ought to know. But it still took me by surprise, what with him being a man of the cloth and all. He swooped down on my lips like they was a cool spring and him five days in the desert, and all of a sudden he had more hands than a room full of clocks.

He done all right, too, ‘specially for somebody as shouldn’t have had a lot of practice.

It was a friendly little tussle that didn’t last near long enough, on account of him needing to get back on the trail. I made it home before dark, and I sure was glad to hand the ore belt over to Dolly’s husband for safe-keeping. Then I had me some supper and went to bed and slept like a baby for ten hours straight.

After breakfast I walked down to the store at the Crossing. There was a deputy sheriff from Prescott flirting with Dolly, and he brung some new reward posters to tack up outside. I started reading the first poster and something about it got me thinking. Then I read the second poster and it got me thinking some more.

“It says these fellows is wanted in Wyoming,” my sister said. “That’s a mighty long ways away.”

“They were spotted up in the Four Corners country earlier this month,” he told her, puffing out his chest and trying to make himself look important. “Me an’ the sheriff figger they’re on the high lope an’ headed for Mexico.”

He hopped into the saddle. “You see hide or hair of ‘em, you get word to us, quick. They’re about the worst desperadoes you ladies’ll ever run acrost.”

I kept my mouth shut. I’m noways inclined to make some lazy law-dog’s job easier and besides, I ain’t the sort of girl to peach on a gent what has done me a good turn.

I might’ve knowed he wasn’t no preacher.


(Message edited by Fortitudine On 03/19/2012 7:53 PM)
If all else fails - duck. As a defensive stratagem it's unreliable but incredibly re-assuring for a moment or two.
Date Posted:03/19/2012 4:40 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:47 am

From FrankieASJ


Surprise! And this one's for Penski so perhaps she'll stop moaning at me now!


Making the Leap.

“I just don’t believe it, Heyes,” Kid said, raising morose, cool blue eyes to look at his partner, seeking assurance.

“I know, Kid. I’m finding kinda hard to believe myself. I mean I thought something like this could happen but I never thought that it would take this long,” Heyes placed a sympathetic hand on Kid’s shoulder. “But things might work out. We’ve waited quite a while now and there might be a change of heart. Like I’m always telling you, Kid, you’ve gotta have faith.”

“I have got faith but I gotta admit it’s getting’ real hard. I mean, who’d have thought that this would ever happen. I know I ain’t perfect, Heyes and I done some pretty bad things in my time but I never expected this.”

“Gotta say, it took me by surprise too. After all that’s happened, all we both went through and then – nothing for months. Talk about bein’ left dangling.”

“What did we do so wrong?” Kid asked dejectedly. “I mean we did everything that was asked of us. I been shot more times than I care to remember, out run posse after posse. Heck, I even went to prison for a while. What was it all for?” he said sadly, slumping down onto a nearby log.

Heyes gave him an understanding smile. “It hasn’t been easy for me either. At least you had the log!”

Kid gave his partner a fleeting smile at the memory before his face hardened once more. “Yeah, and look what happened to the girl - she got killed!”

“You didn’t really think you’d get away with that, do you?”

“I guess not but couldn’t she have just ridden off into the sunset?”

“That’s not the way it goes as you well know. Besides we’ve had worse happen to us and we’ve pulled through. I tell ya, Kid there’s still hope. All’s not totally lost. We haven’t been completely abandoned. At least there’s some sort of contact from time to time, fairly regularly if you check.”

Kid scuffed the ground with the toe of his boot. “I know but it ain’t the same. All because of some God damn injun,” he suddenly spat, kicking out angrily.

Heyes lowered himself to sit alongside his partner on the log. “To be fair, Kid there are other people involved.”

“Yeah, there’s that gunslinger fella. I just know that’s gonna lead to somethin’, Heyes. And no offence but he’s got a little more back up than me. I only got you.”

“Hey, have I ever let you down?”

“No,” came the glum reply. “But then I didn’t think she would either,” he added.

“Women, huh? I don’t think I’ll ever really understand them,” Heyes replied, shaking his head.

“D’you think she’ll ever come back, Heyes?”

“Like I said, Kid, ya gotta have faith that she’s made the leap once and that she’ll take another one back to us one day soon.”

“I hope you’re right, Heyes, I hope you’re right.”

Hope this comes out alright! to show how long it's been since I posted I've not used the text edit before!


(Message edited by FrankieASJ On 03/20/2012 10:22 AM)
The only thing I learned from love was how to shoot somebody who out drew ya' - Leonard Cohen/ Hallelujah.
Date Posted:03/20/2012 8:53 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 7:54 am

From StormR


So an email with a friend I was encouraged to pursue this months challenge with my next two favorite outlaws. So in honor of the first day of spring and with less than a month from opening day of baseball I wrote the following silliness.


“Okay, Wheat, we got it all set,” Kyle stated.

“What all set?”

“First bandit.”

“First bandit?” Wheat queried.

“Yep. Since Heyes and Kid won’t be back for awhile, we’s figured out first bandit.”

“Huh?”

“Ya know, first bandit, second bandit, third bandit…who does what.”

Wheat stared blankly at Kyle.

“‘Kay, so Heyes is always first bandit when he’s here, unless it’s Kid then he’s first. But Heyes and Kid ain’t here so we need a new first. That’s you, but you’s usually second, well third, cause Kid’s second if he ain’t first and Heyes, well he’s always first unless Kid is, but Kid can be second but Heyes ain’t never been second he’s always first.”

Wheat blinked.

“So Heyes ain’t here so Kid’s first bandit, that makes you second. Kid’s not here neither so you get moved up to first bandit. Now we gots to figure out second bandit and third cause they’s important. Now ‘fore Heyes left, he said, who is first is important. Most important to what, that’s second cause ya got t’ know what t’ bring, and then where is third, cause ya got t’ know where ya goin’, and I don’t know the other things he said.”

“Heyes told ya this?”

“Yep, said with me it’ll be a leap of faith if I remembered it all.”

“He did,” Wheat almost chuckled.

“Yep, but I did so I got it all figured out.

“You do?”

“Ah-huh. Who is first, What is second, Where is third and I don’t know is fourth.”

“Say that again?”

“Who is first. What is second. Where is third and I don’t know is fourth.”

“I got that but what are you saying?”
“What is second.”

“Who?”

“Is first?”

“I don’t get it?”

“No, I don’t know is the rest of the gang.”

“But Who is first?”

“Yep,” Kyle smiled broadly.

“Who?” Wheat repeated.

“Yes,” he nodded seriously.

“Heyes told ya this?” Confusion spread across Wheat’s face.

“Yep. Who is first, cause it’s the most important.”

“What are you talkin’ about.”

“What ain’t talkin’ he’s second. Who does the talkin’.”

“Who does the talkin’?”

“Now ya got it.”

“Got What?”

“Second,” Kyle triumphantly stated.

“I don’t know…”

“They’re fourth.”

“Who’s fourth?”

“No, Who’s first.” Kyle shook his head, not understanding why Wheat kept messing up the order.

“Who’s first.”

“Yep.”

“Who’s second?”

“Nope, What is second.”

“Where did you get this?”

“Heyes told me and Where is third.”

“Where is third?”

“Exactly.” Kyle proudly chuckled.

“Kyle, I don’t know…”

“Them’s is fourth.”

“Heyes said this would be a leap?”

“‘O faith.” Kyle hooked his thumbs in his belt.

“You aint’ kiddin’.” Wheat shook his head. “Okay, so let’s go over this again.”

“‘Kay.”

“Who’s first.”

“Yep.”

“What is second?”

“Ah-huh.”

“I don’t know…”

“Nope, they’s fourth. Where is third.”

“I don’t know…”

“Fourth.”

Wheat rubbed his hand over his face and took a breath. “Let’s go over this one more time.”

“‘Kay.”

“Who’s first.”

Kyle nodded.

“What is second?”

“Yep.”

“What is second?” Wheat asked louder.

“Ya got that?”

“Got what?”

“Second?”

“I don’t know.”

“Fourth.”

“Where…”

“Third.”

“I give up.”

“They’s no bandits that give up,” Kyle stated. “Heyes said nothin’ ‘bout givin’ up.”

Wheat blew out a breath, “Okay so this is what Heyes said.”

“Second.”

“Huh?”

“No, huh. What is second.”

“What is second, Where…”

“Third.”

“Third,” Wheat repeated.

“Yep.”

“Who is first, What is second, Where is third and I don’t know what you are talkin’ ‘bout.”

“Ya got it! ‘Cept I don’t know is fourth but I don’t know if they know what ya talkin’ ‘bout neither cause sometimes ya can be confusin’ Wheat.”

Wheat’s shoulders slumped. “Confusin’? Me? Confusin’?” His voice began to rise.

“Sure, Wheat,” Kyle smiled. “Ain’t yur fault ya ain’t as clear as Heyes sometimes.”

“I got a headache,” Wheat mumbled as he turned and walked away.


For those who may not be aware of the Who's on First skit by Abbott and Costello - google it or go to U tube and watch it. Reading it just doesn't give it justice. Now can't you picture Wheat and Kyle!


(Message edited by StormR On 03/20/2012 3:23 PM)
Date Posted:03/20/2012 3:20 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:13 am

From Kid4Ever


"A TRULY WISE MAN NEVER PLAYS LEAP FROG WITH A UNICORN"

*****

Author's note: I had a completely different storyline in mind; even did the hours of research needed, sketched it out, set down to write and then...it took on a whole new life of its own. This is the finished product of my muse working in mysterious ways again!

*For reference purposes, the day is Saturday, February 28, 1864; it is the day before Leap Year Day. And yes, it is the actual, real Leap Year Day that occurred back in Han and Jed’s timeline.

*****

Twelve year old Hannibal Heyes approached the boy sitting on the rock. "Hey, Kid, whatcha doing?" he called out cheerfully. Kicking up rocks and dirt, his booted feet slid to a standstill.

Jed Curry winced at the loud disruption. "Fishin'," he whispered, keeping his eyes on his bobber.

"Oh." Heyes shifted what he carried in his arms around to a more comfortable position.

A full minute passed without either boy speaking a word.

Heyes took a step closer, an action which brought him into the other boy's line of vision. "Nice day for fishing," he observed in a loud voice.

"Yep," Jed agreed with a pointed whisper.

Another moment of silence prevailed.

"Catch anything?"

"Not yet, an' if ya keep yappin' so loud an' scarin' 'em all away, I ain't never gonna catch one!"

"Sorry," Heyes apologized in a loud stage whisper and made a big show of shifting his burden. The quiet was disturbed even further when a large book dropped and hit the ground with a loud bang.

"Dang it all to blazes, Han!" Jed exploded and jumped to his feet. "Hope you’re happy - ya got every fish in the lake swimmin' for their life!" He threw his pole to the ground.

"Sorry," Heyes repeated.

The ten year old gave his older cousin a look of suspicion. "Ya don't sound sorry!" He cocked his head to the side and blew out an exasperated sigh. "An' ya sure don't look sorry, neither!" he observed.

"Looks can be deceiving; I am sorry," Heyes repeated contritely

"Hmph," Jed snorted. He reached down to pick up the book and read the title aloud. “Common Things Explained, Containing: Earth, Fire, Water, time, the almanack, clocks and watches, spectacles, colour, kaleidoskope, pumps, from "The Museum of Science and Art" : with one hundred and fourteen illustrations…By Di-o-ny-si-us Lardner.”** Recoiling in horror, the book dropped from his hands. “Whatcha readin’ THAT for? Ya get into trouble again?”

"Hey - careful with that book - Miss Frey only loaned it to me!"

"Ya feelin' puny today, Han?"

"No, I’m not feeling 'puny'!" Heyes denied with an exasperated sigh.

Jed stepped forward and put a hand to his friend's brow. "No fever," he announced gravely and gave the older boy a critical quick once-over. "Ya don't look sick..."

"That's because I'm NOT sick!" Heyes retorted and pulled back out of the other boy’s reach.

“Okay then, guess that means you’re plumb loco.”

“And you’re hypothesis is based on…what?”

“My hypa-what? C’mon, Han, quit usin’ those fancy words! I can’t answer ya if I don’t know what in the heck you’re sayin’!”

“A hypothesis is a theory,” Heyes explained tolerantly. At the pained expression on his cousin’s face, Heyes bit back a smile, “A guess.”

“Don’t know why ya didn’t jus’ come out an’ say that in the first place, it would’ve saved us both trouble!” Scowling, Jed continued, “Well, I’m not guessin’; I have all the proof I need an’ I’m starin’ right at it. Jus’ readin’ that title plumb tuckered me out!” He eyed the armful of books the other boy had in his arms with a pointed look. "Today is Saturday."

"Uh, huh."

"We don't have school on Saturday."

"No, we don't."

"It's our day off an' we don't have to study -"

"I'm NOT studying!"

"…an' we don't have any homework this weekend,” Jed observed thoughtfully, “So, that’s why I’m guessin’ that you’re loco. What're ya doin’ carryin' all that studyin' stuff around on a Saturday for?"

After taking a cautious look around, Heyes leaned forward. “Because,” he began in a conspiratorial whisper, “I have a very special assignment; Miss Frey gave it to me.”

A look of incredulity on his face, Jed exclaimed, “NOW ya whisper?” A frown appeared. “Han… why ARE ya whisperin’?”

“’Cos I don’t want anyone to overhear our conversation,” Heyes whispered and took another furtive glance around.

“Thanks to you,” Jed was quick to point out, “all the fish are way on the other side of the lake, so ‘less’n you’re afraid that either the squirrels or the birds are enemy spies…” Jed’s eyes were dancing with merriment.

“It’s not a laughing matter!”

“It is from where I’m standin’!”

“Fine, go ahead and laugh all you want. I’m going to go over there and work on my secret project and you can just go back to your very important work of fishing.”

“Fishin’ ain’t work, it’s fun; that’s why I like it so much.” As Jed bent to retrieve his pole he dropped to all fours when something caught his eye. “Leapin’ lizards!”

Heyes turned. “Huh?”

“There’s a couple of lizards leapin’ all over the rocks – Aw… oh, no!” he cried and leaned in closer to the water.

Hearing the urgency in the cry, Heyes dropped his book and rushed to his cousin’s side. “What’s wrong, Kid?”

Still staring at the water, Jed sighed, “I don’t think their game of leapfrog was such a good idea.”

“The lizards were playing Leapfrog?”

Jed rested back on his haunches and blew out a breath. “One of ‘em leaped too far an’ he missed the rock; maybe he should’ve looked before he leaped, huh? Guess at least one of the fish decided to come back…an’ boy, was he ever hungry.” He climbed to his feet. “Oh, well…” He picked up his fishing pole and then froze. “Han?”

“Yeah?”

“Those leapin’ lizards got me to thinkin’, an’ I was wonderin’…don’t be mad, please, I know we don’t talk about ‘em, but…do you remember what Grampa Curry used to say to us about leapin’ over unicorns?”

Unable to ignore or refuse the imploring look in the curry blue eyes, Heyes took a deep breath and forced a smiled for the benefit of the other boy. “Yeah, it was one of his favorites, wasn’t it?”

Jed nodded.

’A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn.’ You remember what it means?”

Another nod. “Leapin’ over a unicorn is courtin’ disaster; it’s stupid an’ dangerous. So, a man should do what he has to do without taking chances.”

“You remembered.”

Jed watched Heyes turn abruptly away before he climbed back upon his rock. After a few steps, Heyes turned back to stare at his cousin.

Jed baited his hook, cast his line out over the water and smiled. “You’re wrong, Han; fishin’ ain’t no work at all.” Stretching out, he closed his eyes.

“I can’t believe you have time to sit there and just fish or worry over stupid leap- frogging lizards, but not to help out your friend? A friend who also happens to be your COUSIN, (punctuated and emphasized with raised voice) I might add.”

“Betcha the fish ain’t ever comin’ back,” Jed muttered and tried to ignore his cousin’s grumbling in the background. “Wish I was a fish right now!”

“Nevermind, it’s okay; I don’t NEED any help,” Heyes snapped and stomped back into his work area. “I can do this ALL BY MYSELF! Since it’s supposed to be a SECRET I guess I can’t very well share it with anybody else; not that ANYBODY ELSE might be even remotely interested in helping me with such a SECRET project!”

His rant was accompanied by the sounds of large rocks being carried, loud moans and groans as they were piled on top of each other, and a log scraping the dirt as it was dragged across the ground. His exertions also produced huffing and puffing, the sounds of a very extremely exasperated human as he set about accomplishing each task.

Watching his bobber as it bounced up and down with the ripples in the water, Jed waged an internal war with himself as he fought the urge to turn around and see what his cousin was up to. “Not gonna catch ME doin’ no homework on a Saturday, nosirree!” he muttered and shook his head with vigor.

“That oughta do just fine,” Heyes announced in approval. “NOW, I can get down to business.”

“All work an’ no play makes Han a dull boy!” Jed observed idly.

There was a brief moment of silence. “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed,” Heyes retorted.

Jed turned around to favor his friend with a puzzled look. “Huh?”

Heyes stopped what he was doing. “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed,” he repeated.

“Where’d ya get that from?”

“Last Sunday’s sermon; Proverbs 12:27. Don’tcha remember? It was what the preacher’s lesson was all about; ‘A Leap of Faith’.”

“Umm…” Jed’s brow wrinkled in thought, “No.”

After sending his captive audience of one a disparaging look, Heyes began to orate. “He said that people have to have faith in their leaders; to believe in what they can’t see. All great leaders have to work hard or they won’t be successful. The more successful a leader is, the more his followers will respect him.” Warming to his subject, Heyes clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace. “So that means a person has to be willing to do the hard work to become a leader.

“It means doing something even when it’s not when you normally do it and especially if you don’t want to do it. A leader has to be persuasive and convince his followers that they want to do it.” After a quick glance at Jed to see if he was still paying attention, he continued.

“Sometimes a person needs a little nudge to persuade them to take that leap of faith; they may think they don’t want to do it, but if they listen to what their leader tells them, they might be willing to change their mind. You know what, Jed? One of the best things he said was that a leader should never ask one of his men to do something he wouldn’t do first himself; think about that, Kid.”

Jed obediently mulled that over for the span of a second. “Yep, sounds good to me, too,” he nodded and returned to his fishing. After a moment, he put up a hand to smother a big yawn.

Heyes’ arms dropped to his sides and he shrugged. “Well, thanks for all your help,” he said under his breath.

Sitting cross-legged on the rock and basking like a lizard in the warmth of the afternoon sun, one yawn after another assaulted Jed. It wasn’t long before the boy’s chin began to droop; it sank lower and lower, until it rested on his chest. His curry-blue eyes drifted shut and his grip on the pole slackened until it fell from his limp fingers.

His attention caught by the sound of the pole hitting the ground, Heyes looked up from his work and shook his head. Uncurling himself from his position on the blanket he’d spread out, he advanced towards his cousin. “Jed?” He touched the boy’s shoulder. “Hey, Kid, why don’tcha c’mon over here with me and finish your nap?”

Jed sat up quickly and looked around, still in a daze. “Wasn’t asleep,” he denied, rubbing at his face with his fists. “I was jus’ restin’ my eyes; all that bright sunlight reflectin’ off the water made ‘em hurt.”

“That’s why you threw your pole on the ground, huh?” Heyes picked it up and held it out. “So you could give your eyes a rest?”

With a look of guilt, Jed looked from the pole to his cousin’s face and heaved a deep sigh of resignation. “Maybe I did fall asleep,” he conceded, “but only for a minute! I was busy thinkin’.”

“You fell asleep while you were thinking?” Heyes chuckled.

“Thinkin’s hard work!”

“It sure is,” Heyes agreed, “Thinking’s a lot harder for some than others,” he added with a dimpled grin.

A deep rumbling growl from Jed’s tummy announced it was mealtime. “Guess I’d better be headin’ back to Valparaiso,” Jed said reluctantly. “Maybe I can make it back in time for lunch.” He began to gather up his things.

“You didn’t bring any food with you?”

“I was so busy tryin’ to get outta there before someone found something for me to do that I jus’ plumb forgot,” Jed admitted.

“What would you say if I offered you food in exchange for helping me with my project?”

“Food?” Jed’s countenance brightened before his brow furrowed with a look of skepticism. “What kinda ‘help’ would I be doin’?”

“First, you’ve gotta promise me - you’ve gotta swear that you won’t tell another single solitary person about this.”

“Han,” the younger boy gulped, “are ya gonna cut my hand an’ draw blood like we did for the pirate treasure secret?” Although he put on a brave face, Jed’s hands unconsciously balled into fists.

Heyes bit back a grin. “No,” he said solemnly, “not this time; your blood’s safe.”

A moment of indecision passed before Jed relaxed and nodded. “Okay, I’ll swear. Cross my heart an’ hope to die,” he made the mark of an x across his chest, “an’ hope the cat’ll spit in your eye.”

“Mostly what you’ll be doing is listening to me; I have to practice.”

“So, you’re telling me that all I havta do is sit here an’ listen to ya practice – uh, whatever – an’ you’ll give me food?”

Heyes nodded.

“That’s a good deal - I like it!”

“C’mon over to the blanket; we’ll eat first and work afterwards.”

“I like the way ya think, Han!” Jed followed the other boy to the blanket. Once seated, Heyes doled out the food.

“Geez, Han – where’d ya get all this from?” Jed exclaimed in wonder; his eyes were wide, almost popping out of their sockets at the plethora of food in front of him. Fried chicken, potatoes, corn on the cob and…could it be? YES! His favorite – cherry cobbler! There was even lemonade to wash everything down with. “It sure didn’t come from the Home!” Jed needed no second urging to dig in. Feeling like he had died and gone to Heaven, he tackled everything with gusto.

“Miss Frey,” Heyes answered around a mouthful of chicken. “Said I couldn’t very well work on an empty stomach,” There was a significant pause before he added, “…and neither could my cousin.”

Jed stopped in mid-chew and lowered the cob of corn to eye his friend with a puzzled look. “What’re ya talkin’ ‘bout, Han? How could Miss Frey know I -” His expression quickly transformed into one of rueful consternation; Jed shook his head and put the corn down. “She knew, because YOU told her I’d be helpin’ you,” he declared. “I should’ve known that you had this all planned out; you jus’ needed me to fall right into the trap, didn’t you?”

“Whoa…don’t go leaping to conclusions so fast! It wasn’t a trap, Kid. I needed someone I knew I could trust with the secret; someone that I knew wouldn’t let me down and someone who would appreciate a good meal for a change. You were the best – and only – choice for the job. I just did what the Preacher said; a leader has to use a little bit of persuasion sometimes.”

“And a little bit of cherry cobbler doesn’t hurt, neither,” Jed grinned and put a spoonful into his mouth. “Mmmm,” he sighed and closed his eyes as he savored the fruity dessert. “So what IS this big secret anyways?”

Heyes wiped his hands and face and picked up one of the books. “You have any idea what day tomorrow is?”

“Sunday.”

“Right, but what is the date?”

“Uh,” Jed’s brow furrowed with his effort to work it out, “Well, it’s February, an’ yesterday was the 27th, today is the 28th, so that makes tomorrow the first of March,” he announced proudly. But to his surprise, Heyes shook his head.

“Nope.”

“But...” the boy argued, “it HAS to be the first of March! There are only 28 days in February, so if today is the 28th, tomorrow is the first!”

“In a regular year, yes; but this is a Leap Year,” Heyes’ grin was smug.

“Leap Year? That means…February has 29 days!”

“Correct; Miss Frey asked me to do a special report about it.”

Jed eyed his cousin with a scowl. “What’s so secret ‘bout that?”

Dimples in full evidence, Heyes cocked his head to the side. “What do you think?”

“I’m beginnin’ to think the secret is there ain’t no secret!”

“There you go again, Kid, leaping to conclusions.”

“Ain’t leapin’ to nothin’, Han.” Jed picked up a chicken leg, took a bite and chewed thoughtfully on it for a minute. “You told me it was a secret hopin’ that I’d take the bait. When I didn’t, the secret became the way you went about persuading me to bite. You were patient enough not to give up, you tried different baits and when you found the right one to lure me in, you wasted no time in settin’ the hook. You did a great job; I fell for it hook, line and sinker.”

“Sounds like you might still be mad at me,” Heyes looked slightly uncomfortable.

“Do I?” Hmm…” Innocent curry blues stared back into warm brown ones as he took another bite of chicken. “Should I be?”

Heyes didn’t answer.

Jed raked a sleeve across his mouth and took a drink of lemonade. After he swallowed, he cocked his head to the side. “Keep this up, and one day I reckon you’re gonna make a great leader, Han.” He reached down. “Jus’ make sure you keep the cobbler handy!”

“Thanks, Kid, I’ll keep that in mind,” Heyes grinned, “And I think you’ll do a great job as my partner, too.” He picked up his own dessert and both boys tucked in with a gusto that would have done Miss Frey proud.


**********

**I kept the original spelling intact for this title. The author has several books dealing with similar subjects as well as others which are specific to a certain area.



(Message edited by Kid4ever On 03/23/2012 11:55 PM)
"I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down..." Abraham Lincoln
Date Posted:03/23/2012 11:03 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:24 am

From Ghislaine Emrys


Author’s Notes:
* While this story could be read on its own, it will make much more sense if you’ve read the backstory first. That was my October Challenge and it can be found at the link below, it's story #5:
http://forum4.aimoo.com/asjfanfiction/The-Monthly-Story-Challenge/Oct-2011-Fall-1-632473.html
* If you didn’t like that particular story, you probably won’t like this one, either, as it follows immediately after that one ended. But if you do read this story and find you don’t like it, please do say so in the Comments thread. I really want to hear honest opinions of this story and won't be hurt if you didn't like it--as long as you say why.
* WARNING: Extreme situations are included in this story. Proceed no further if you think you will be upset.



Making the Leap


I felt dizzy and nauseous. I sat back down on the bed and closed my eyes, breathing slowly, waiting patiently until the spells passed. Then I remembered and, frantic, opened my eyes to see my…what was it called again?...my, um…why couldn’t I remember its name? Oh, yeah, my machine.

Phew. There it was, still clasped in my left hand. I’d been holding it so tightly, I guess I plumb forgot what it felt like, what with the dizziness and all making me sick. I reached for my satchel and… Wait a minute! My what???

Something wasn’t right. Slowly, I looked around and the first thing I noticed was my clothes. I mean, the clothes I was wearing. They sure as hell… My hand flew up to cover my mouth. I never swore like that…

What was the matter with me? I shook my head, hoping to clear the fuzziness away but only managed to feel worse. Quickly, I reached under the bed for the chamber pot and used it. I wiped my sleeve across my mouth.

And got a good look at what I was wearing. It was a blue dress with long sleeves, cinched at the waist, with a pattern of small black dots all over, and it reached the floor. I lifted it up and saw the stockings covering my legs, and my feet in sensible, heavy, black boots laced up the front. They were comfortable but I had this strange feeling that I hadn’t been wearing them earlier in the day.

Oh! But it was nighttime. Maybe I injured myself and had been taken here to rest up and recover. Maybe my real clothes had been torn and this was all that’d been available. That’d make sense. I think. I lay back on the bed and decided to try and sleep. Maybe when I woke up, things’d make a lot more sense.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

Someone was bangin’ on something and makin’ a racket. I couldn’t sleep no more, but I felt a whole lot better so I figured I might as well open my eyes. As soon as I did, I wished I hadn’t.

I was in a jail cell. No other way to describe it. What in heavens-to-Betsy was I doin’ there? I willed my heart to stop poundin’ as I tried to remember whatever had happened the night before. I closed my eyes, thinkin’ that’d help. There were flashes of pictures: Me in some sort of metal wagon, me goin’ inside this prison, me walkin’ around, me sittin’ inside a cell and… My memory went blank after that.

“On your feet!” A man in a uniform approached the door to the cell I was in.

Finally! Someone who could tell me what was goin’ on.

“Don’t you know the rules by now? You been a guest of the Territory long enough!”

Huh? I looked around to see who he was talkin’ to. Wasn’t no one else nearby.

“Oh, Susannah!” the man smirked, apparently pleased by somethin' he said. “Get up and get over to the door.”

He looked straight at me as he said it. My name wasn’t Susannah but I decided I’d best do what he said so I stood up and went to the cell door.

“What’s the matter? Ain’t you feeling well?” Now he sounded like he almost cared.

“Actually…” I began, but he cut me off.

“Makes no never mind. Rules is rules. You stand for morning count when a guard comes by, sick or not sick. You can see the doc after breakfast, iffn you’re still feeling poorly.” He took out a key from his vest pocket and stuck it in the door, twisted it, and pulled the door open.

I hadn’t realized I’d been locked in.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“Well, what’re you waiting for? Let’s go.” The man motioned for me to step out of the cell.

I wanted to ask where we were goin’ but the look on his face made me think stayin’ quiet was the wiser choice. I grabbed my satchel from the bed and the man laughed. “You ain’t going shopping, you’re going to breakfast. Leave that. It’ll still be here when you get back.” He waited for me to approach the door and then suddenly snapped handcuffs around my wrists.

“Hey! What’s that for? I ain’t done nothin’!” I protested to no avail. The man took hold of my right arm and pushed me in front of him. We turned left and walked a short ways to a staircase.

“You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t done something, dearie,” he told me in a condescendin’ voice. He started down the stairs and I had no choice but to follow him, seein’ as how he still had hold of my arm.

Well, I guess what he said was true. I did remember I’d been eager to visit yesterday. Still, that was no way to treat a lady and I said so. “Just ‘cos I went somewhere I shouldn’t have, that ain’t no reason to treat me like dirt.”

He laughed. “This ain’t the Brown Palace, Susannah. Stop your whining and get used to the fact you’re going to be here for a while.” He smiled, but it wasn’t the kind of smile that cheered me up. “For a good long while, considering what you done.”

I was more confused than ever. What had I done, other than spend the night here? “Look, I’m really sorry. I dunno what you think happened, but I swear I didn’t do nothin’ bad. And I promise I won’t never do it again. Just take these things off,” I held up my hands, “and I’ll leave right now and you’ll never see me again.”

The man looked at me as if I had two heads. Then he started laughin’. “Save it for the judge, dearie. That kind of talk don’t wash in here. You ain’t going nowhere except to breakfast and then back to your cell. But speaking of washing…” He eyed me contemplatively.

He gripped my arm tighter and we continued walkin’. We entered a large room that was obviously a kitchen, but it was different from other kitchens I was familiar with. A huge iron contraption took up most of the space against the left-hand wall; it was clearly a combination stove and oven but it didn’t look like none I’d ever seen before. Various metal pots and bowls lay on top of it. More pots, pans, and ladles hung from racks on the walls. The coal scuttle in a nearby corner…wait! How’d I know that word? I’d never seen one of them things before but the word just came so natural-like… My head hurt.

There was a rectangular wooden table in the center of the room with onions, tomatoes, eggs, carrots, and loaves of bread on it, in various stages of preparation. A wall opposite the stove was lined with shelves holding more foodstuffs. I noted many cans of Winsom beans; crates of Alexander Frielland tomatoes, Douglas Bakery crackers and Giuseppe Garibaldi mushrooms; several cans of peas and peaches; Beauty and Gold Leaf brands of canned goods; and on the floor were small barrels of cider. Small chests and cabinets lined another wall and contained baked goods and I don’t know what else. There were a couple of chairs at the table. A smaller table was nearby; this was obviously a choppin’ block as I could see the knife marks scarrin’ the top. And in any case, there was a large cleaver on it but that just made me wonder why a prison would have knives layin’ around where anyone could get hold of them. Another puzzle.

Then I noticed we weren’t alone. There was a blond man wearin’ striped prison clothes in the room with us. He musta been on the other side of the stove, outta my sight, but now he approached us. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look at us, but just stood there. So I got a real good look at him. He mighta been in his early forties but, prison bein’ what it is, coulda been a lot younger. He wasn’t shackled.

That wasn’t fair! He was obviously a convict so how come he didn’t havta be manacled when he wasn’t in his cell but I did? I was just a visitor who’d somehow stumbled into somethin’—what, I had no idea. I mean, I was wearin’ my own clothes so obviously I wasn’t an inmate. But the man who’d brought me here acted like a prison guard and was treatin’ me like I was a criminal. My head throbbed with the contradictions.

“Leave us alone, Curry,” the man who’d brought me here said. He loosened his grip on me and I shook my arm free.

Curry? That name sounded awful familiar. I tried to get a closer look at him but his head was bowed and I couldn’t see his eyes. I had a feelin’ they were blue. I didn’t know how I knew that but I felt sure they were.

“I said, get outta here.” The guard’s voice turned threatenin’ and he took a step towards the prisoner.

But Curry still didn’t move. I could feel the tension in the room. I didn’t know what was gonna happen but I slowly moved backwards just in case.

“Didn’t you hear me? I said scram!”

At that, Curry finally looked up and I felt a chill. It wasn’t just because his eyes were iceberg blue cold. It was the way he looked at the man. The disgust but also the menace was clear to everyone. But he quickly lowered his eyes and slowly walked away. He never said a word but when he was gone, I started breathin’ again.

The man laughed and turned to me. “Curry’s been here long enough to know what’ll happen if he argues with a guard.”

I had to ask. “How long’s he been here?”

“Him and his partner…” I could see the guard calculatin’ in his head. “Almost seven years. Curry’s smartened up since he first arrived. That’s how he finally got to be a trustee. Didn’t take Heyes nearly that long.”

Another chill went through me. That name, Heyes, was also very familiar. I had to find out more about him. Curry, too. I had a feelin’ they were real important to my future.

Before I could ask another question, the guard grabbed me and pulled me to him, his arms holdin’ me tight against his body. I was so shocked I didn’t do nothin’ and that gave him time to kiss me. But when I felt his mouth on mine, I came to my senses and started strugglin’ to get away. How dare he do somethin’ like that to an inmate? Sure, we had no rights but that didn’t give him the right to attack me like this.

It was hard fightin’ him with my hands cuffed but I managed to kick him good. I tried to knee him, too, but he was a lot stronger and never let go of me. He kept kissin’ me no matter how I tried to avoid it. Whenever I opened my mouth to scream, he covered it with his and all that came out was whimpers. No one’d hear that. I was gettin’ desperate.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Curry return. He picked up a cast-iron pan and silently came towards us. He was gonna save me! I stopped strugglin’ for a moment so’s he could whack the guard. He fell to the floor and before I could collapse, Curry grabbed me. For some reason, I didn’t mind bein’ held by him.

“Here, sit down,” he said and led me to a chair. He stood lookin’ down at me, and shook his head. “You’re in a heap of trouble, darlin’. Might end up spendin’ time in the dark cell.”

“What’s that?” I asked, and was glad to hear my voice soundin’ almost normal.

His eyes registered surprise. “You don’t know?! How long you been here?”

“I guess you could say this is my first day.” I didn’t know how else to explain it.

“Ahh,” Curry slowly nodded. He stood there a while longer but he wasn’t lookin’ at me no more. He was gazin’ out the barred windows, lookin’ at somethin’ I couldn’t see.

But that gave my heart time to stop poundin’ and my brain time to start thinkin’. Before I could say anythin’, Curry spoke again. “I reckon the best thing right now is to get you back to your cell. Come on; I’ll take you.” He started to hold out his right hand but I guess he thought better of it ‘cos he dropped it to his side instead. Where his gun would be if he wasn’t in prison.

He led me back to the cell I’d woken up in this mornin’. He stood outside the door and said, “You’ll be safer inside.” So I went in and he closed the door. I heard a click and knew I was locked in again.

He saw me wince. “It takes time but you’ll get used to it. Sometimes, bein’ locked in a cell ain’t so bad.”

I stared at him, thinkin’ how ridiculous that was. He saw my disbelief and, sighin’, said, “You gotta find a way to get along in here. You ain’t off to a good start.”

On that, I agreed with him completely.

“I gotta go. Johnson don’t know for sure who hit him but he’ll guess it was me. I need an alibi.” Curry turned to leave, to go to wherever he had to be.

“Wait!”

He turned back.

“Thanks.”

His smile lit up his face. Curry really was a handsome man, even in a prison uniform that was too large for him. He nodded, then cocked his head, as if a thought had just occurred to him. “What’s your name?”

I started to answer but what came out was, “They call me Susannah.”

Curry looked at me strangely. I didn’t blame him. I felt strange, too.

“Well, Susannah, maybe my partner’ll have some ideas to help you. We’ll come by tonight.”

And then he was gone.

The rest of the day passed by slowly and uneventfully. There was nothin' to do and it didn’t take long for me to become thoroughly bored. How was I ever gonna get through three years in here? I wished, not for the first time since my arrest, that I had never stolen those blankets.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

It was completely dark when I woke up but I knew someone was in my cell. I slid down the bed till I hit the corner of the wall and had nowhere else to hide. I held my satchel in front of me for what little protection it offered.

“Shh, it’s okay. It’s okay; don’t worry. We’re not gonna hurt you.” It was Curry’s voice. My fear receded a little.

A second voice whispered. It was also familiar somehow. “My partner told me what happened. We want to help you. We’re not gonna hurt you.”

My eyes had adjusted to the darkness by now and I could see two men standin’ just inside my cell. They both wore prison uniforms and I wondered how they’d managed to open the door. Before I could ask, Curry introduced the other man. “This here is my partner, Hannibal Heyes. Heyes, Susannah.” Well, that explained how they got the door open.

“Can we come in? We don’t have much time and if the guards see us…” Heyes was very pleasant but there was a hardness to his voice that disturbed me. Like even if I’d said no, he woulda done what he wanted anyway.

I graciously indicated they could sit at the other end of the bed but I stayed where I was.

The men looked at each other, then Heyes spoke again. “What are you in here for?”

I stared at them. What difference did it make? “I was convicted of…” I didn’t finish the sentence. I scrunched up my face, tryin’ to remember.

“It’s all right,” Curry tried to soothe me. “We all done things we’re ashamed of but if you don’t wanna tell us, it’s okay.”

Heyes was watchin’ me closely. “Kid, that ain’t it. I don’t think she knows. Do you?” he addressed me.

Slowly, I shook my head. “I don’t know why I’m in here.” I was so confused, it about made me wanna cry but I stopped myself in time.

“Kid.” Curry followed Heyes to the corner farthest from me. They held a whispered conversation that I couldn’t make out. Now that I was wide awake and able to see better, I could understand why Heyes had been the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang. Prison hadn’t completely squashed his strength of character and intelligence. And up close, he was even more handsome than I remembered.

My head started poundin’. These headaches were gettin’ real tiresome. The two men glanced at me when I moaned from the pain but didn’t do nothin’ except continue to whisper. Eventually, they came back and sat on the bed, closer to me this time.

“Can I see your satchel, Susannah?” Heyes asked, holdin’ out his hand.

An unsettlin’ feelin’ came over me. Didn’t know why, but I didn’t wanna let go of it.

Heyes kept his hand out. “Please, Susannah?”

Somehow, I knew he didn’t mean me no harm. I handed it over and he immediately dumped the contents on the bed. Curry peered over his shoulder as Heyes sifted through everything, finally comin’ to that mysterious small metal machine.

“What’s that, Heyes?”

“I dunno,” the dark-haired man replied, turning it over and over in his hand. “Susannah?”

“It’s a machine,” I said vaguely.

“What’s it for?” Heyes looked up at me, waitin’ for more information.

“I…I’m not sure,” I shrugged.

Heyes scrutinized me but he let it go. “What do you make of this, Kid?”

Curry stared at it, then started pushin’ the knobs on the side that was half covered in glass.

An electric current pulsed through me and I cried out, “Wait!” I remembered. All of it. “Stop! I’ll tell you!”

Heyes grinned triumphantly. Curry stopped playing with my iAll. He had no idea what he was doing and I had to get it back before he hurt himself. I made a grab for it but Curry, fast as he ever was, palmed it over to Heyes, who clasped it tightly.

My head was clear now and I was thinking furiously. I knew I couldn’t tell them the whole truth but I had to say something. “It’s a…a prototype. If you hit those buttons too many times, you’ll break it.”

Curry looked confused but Heyes narrowed his eyes. He knew something was off. “Who are you, really?” he asked.

“That doesn’t matter. Just give it back to me. Please.”

“No. Not until you tell us what it’s for.”

I sighed heavily, pretending to give up. “All right,” I said grudgingly. “There’s some new ideas about prisoner rehabilitation from back East that the Territory of Wyoming wants to try out. I was sent here to see if they’d work. This machine is part of that.”

Heyes knew there was something missing. “If you’re working for the warden, how’d you end up as an inmate?”

I could see why people thought he was a genius. “I’m supposed to be undercover.”

Heyes looked at his partner. Curry shrugged. They couldn’t tell if I was telling the truth or not.

“I’d like to believe you, but…” Heyes hesitated, then held out his hand.

Just as I was about to grab the iAll, we heard a noise. A cough, and it wasn’t from one of us.

Curry whirled around and even after almost seven years in prison, his hand still reached for his gun. I guess it was just too ingrained in his psyche.

The guard Curry had called Johnson laughed. “It had to be you. No one else knew I was there. Still trying to live up to your reputation I see.” He paused, and it was then that I saw the Schofield in his right hand, pointed at the man who’d rescued me earlier that day.

Curry stilled and didn’t say a word. But this time, he looked straight at the guard and the defiance was clear to all of us.

Heyes looked from Johnson to his partner. “Kid,” he warned him. Heyes moved closer to me.

“No, Heyes. It’s gone on long enough. Now it’s gonna stop.”

Johnson laughed again. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Curry, I’m the one with the gun.”

None of the men were paying attention to me. I reached out and pried my iAll from Heyes’ fingers. He let it go, his eyes never leaving the two men in a stand-off in front of him. My head was pounding again, but this time it was from fear.

Johnson raised his hand so the gun was now pointing at Curry’s chest.

I knew what I had to do. As Heyes shouted “NO!” I threw my iAll to Curry and yelled, “Hit the center button!”

Curry caught the device and aimed it at Johnson just as the guard fanned the trigger and Heyes threw himself at Curry.

I heard two shots and then nothing more.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

When I woke up, I was alone. Curry and Heyes were gone; Johnson, too. I peered at the floor, trying to discern bloodstains but there were none.

Darkness surrounded me, silence enveloped me. It was the silence of emptiness. It slowly dawned on me that I was back in my own time period. I sat in the blackness, trying to figure out what had happened, trying to reassure myself it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I didn’t succeed.

Whoever Susannah was, Curry had saved her and Heyes had also tried to help her. I hoped she appreciated their sacrifice.

I’d made the leap and now I had my answer. I took one last look around the cell where Hannibal Heyes had been confined, then slowly walked out of the prison. I found my car in the parking lot, buckled the seat belt around me, and finally let the tears fall. I drove away, and knew I’d never go back.



More notes:
* Some people saw my October Challenge, the story that precedes this, as a Mary Sue. That hadn’t been my intention when I wrote it but this story could be seen that way, too.
* Shortly after I started writing this story, it occurred to me that it resembled "Quantum Leap." I haven’t seen many episodes of that show but if readers see a resemblance, then I’m pleased by the comparison. And I'm surprised no one else, yet anyway, has written a story with a similar plotline.
* The description of the kitchen is based on the photos I took when I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison last July. I should’ve used the zoom feature more but enlarging the pics enabled me to read the labels on some of the food products.
* According to the brochure put out by the Wyoming Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources, female convicts “…were locked in their cells 24/7…” but that wouldn’t work for my story so I took creative license and allowed Susannah movement within the prison.
* Susannah is based on the female convict named Caroline Winfield, alias Caroline Hayes, who was arrested multiple times, one of which was for stealing two blankets worth fifty cents. None of her individual sentences were for as long as three years but the total amount of time she spent in the WYT totaled just over that length of time.
* Currently, there is no such thing as an iAll but I wouldn’t be surprised if, within my lifetime, such a device were invented.

Lastly, this story knowingly exceeds the word limit so it can’t be in contention for the yellow bandana.


(Message edited by GhislaineEmrys On 03/26/2012 2:24 PM)

This is one of my schemes... ~ Hannibal Heyes
Date Posted:03/25/2012 3:59 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:30 am

From Silverkelpie


Lover’s Leap

Gloria Mundy had suffered a lifetime of pretentious, educated Latin speakers snickering behind their hands in her native Boston, especially when she was sick; but that was soon to be behind her. The lumbering coach which made her head nod in time with the rhythmic motion was taking her to a new life as a married woman. This time next week she would be Gloria Llewellyn.

It was the only positive she had. Her future as an impecunious woman in the barely tamed west was terrifyingly precarious. For all she knew, Louis could be a liar, a toothless old coot, or a ruffian – but if she was very lucky he could look like one of the two men sitting opposite. Being a mail order bride was a sheer leap of faith, but it had to be better than a life scrubbing floors and emptying chamber pots. Surely his exquisite, elaborate verse and copperplate handwriting were indicative of a creative, sensitive man?

“And I said to him...,” the Philadelphian had been monopolising the conversation since he had climbed into the vehicle and had bored everyone rigid before the luggage had even been loaded. According to him, the west had never been wilder, wickeder or more wanton, and his soliloquy was making Gloria increasingly unsettled. The fair haired man gave a long, grunting snore and crossed his long legs at the ankle, briefly cutting off the anecdote with what may, or may not, have been a kick. She was certain the pair were feigning sleep to avoid talking to the droning fellow, “and I could swear he’d never seen one that big in his life!”

There was a screeching of brakes and she pitched straight towards the man with the dark blond hair. Her hands instinctively shot out, grasping at air, until they clutched at a firm, muscular chest. She turned puce with embarrassment at the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth whilst long fingers curled around her elbows, supporting her to back to her seat. He fixed her with eyes twinkling like a calm sea on a sunny day, and his voice rang with restrained laughter. “No need to fret. This is one of the few advantages of ridin’ with your back to the driver; we get thrown back in our seats.”

“Why have we stopped?” demanded the easterner, pushing the glasses back up his long nose.

A gruff voice drifted in from the window. “’Cos it’s a holdup!”

Kid threw a glance at Heyes and groaned.

“Got somethin’ to say, Stranger?”

Kid shook his head ruefully. “Yeah. Ain’t there any honest folks about any more?”

“Not many,” snickered the robber. “Even white lies colour a man’s soul.”

Heyes arched his eyebrows in query. “That’s a bit profound for an outlaw, isn’t it?”

“I do my best, Stranger. Now, out of the coach, and hands up!”

“This has happened before?” asked a tremulous Gloria.

“More times than we can count,” grumbled her dark haired companion, rising from his seat. “You’ll be fine. Come on, let’s get this over with.”

//////////

“Hand over your money! All of it.”

“All of it?” The easterner’s blue eyes danced with mischief as he grinned at the masked man holding the gun. “But most of it’s tied up in land.”

Kid’s stomach sank at the metallic click of the cocking gun, but the potential danger seemed to go unperceived by the dude. Was this idiot deliberately provoking the man holding up the coach, or was he as stupid as he appeared? Blue eyes fixed rigidly on the gun.

The man raised the weapon to point directly at the easterner’s head, his bandana rising and falling with increasingly exasperated breath. “Are you dumb? Empty your pockets!”

The man gave a little sniff of derision, reaching into his pocket. “There’s no need for that gun, your accent is terrifying enough.”

“You gotta be the most annoyin’ critter who ever walked God’s good earth,” growled the masked man.

“You want to try taking a coach journey with him,” muttered Heyes. “Take him with you, he’s worth money. Please! I’m begging you.”

The crinkles forming around the robber’s eyes, betrayed the grin spreading under the mask as an unspoken alliance seemed to form between the criminal and the ex-outlaws at the expense of the Philadelphian.

“I ain’t no kidnapper, but you got my sympathies, Friend.” The man shook his head as Kid proffered a handful of scrunched-up dollars. “Keep it. You gotta ride on to town with him. You’ll need a stiff drink by then. I ain’t no savage. Toss those mailbags down. That’s what I really came for.”

Kid nodded, a conciliatory smile twitching at his mouth. “Thanks.”

“I just want the mail,” murmured the robber.

Heyes and Curry shared conversation in a glance. What was going on here? The coach had stopped without a single shot being fired, the road hadn’t been blocked and only the young woman seemed to be genuinely worried about the prospect of being held up; now the thief didn’t seem to want anything but the mail . The driver was clearly in on this, but what about the loquacious easterner?

“You looking for anything in particular?” queried Heyes, casually.

The robber flicked up a pair of grey eyes from the mailbag. “A letter from a woman,” he uttered, mysteriously.

The driver turned casually in his seat and began to toss down more mail bags.

“A woman?” Kid demanded.

“Yeah. There’s weddin’ we gotta stop.”

Gloria blanched and her knees began to tremble. “Why?”

“None of your business.”

Heyes surveyed the mounting anxiety in the young woman beside him. He frowned before pressing on with his questioning. “How do you know she’s written?”

The robber gave a snort. “It ain’t none of your business.”

Kid’s brows knotted. “What’s it to you if someone wants to get married?”

The robber stood, hoisting the bags over his shoulder before he replied. “It still ain’t none of your business.”

“Do you know what is my business?” A ghost of a smile played over Kid’s lips as he strode towards the bandit. “Somethin’s real wrong here. I’ve seen enough robberies to know that”

The robber never knew what hit him. One kick was enough to knock the weapon from his hand, before a fist crashed into the bandana wrapped jaw. Heyes leapt at the same time, dragging the driver from his seat, quickly dispatching him with a blow. Ice blue eyes fixed on the easterner while Kid picked up the outlaw’s gun. “Now, Mister, you’re just too causal. You’re in on this too, ain’t you?” A quick check showed that the robber’s gun was empty, before the partners retrieved their discarded weapons.

The man raised his hands in contrition. “Don’t be silly! Put that gun down,” he gulped heavily and fingered his collar nervously.

Kid glowered at him before gesturing towards the men groaning on the ground. “Right you two. On your feet, NOW! And get that mask off.”

The robber complied, dragging away his mask to reveal an angular, sallow face set with deep-set eyes.

“How far are we from Palisade,” demanded Heyes.

The driver climbed unsteadily from his knees. “About half a mile.”

“Good,” barked Heyes. “It won’t take long before you lot are in front of the sheriff. Will it?”

The Philadelphian shook his head. “There isn’t a sheriff in Palisade. Didn’t you enjoy the show?”

“Show?” snapped Heyes. “What do you mean? And what kind of town has no sheriff? Who’s in charge of the law?”

“The mayor,” persisted the easterner. “Mr. Smith paid for Mr. and Mrs. Jones from Boston to experience the Wild West.” The tall man shook his head in confusion. “She’s from Boston, she said so, and you two fell asleep almost right away after introducing yourselves. You don’t dress like easterners, but I thought you’d gone shopping to make yourselves look less... civilized.”

“What the Sam Hill are you talkin’ about?” barked Kid, indignantly. “And what do you mean, ‘less civilized?’”

“Palisade, the shoot ‘em up; no mercy town. I’m your guide. Why else did you think I was telling you all those stories about the old west?”

“Because you’re a real borin’ know it all?” ventured Kid.

Heyes brow furrowed. “Are you telling us that this isn’t a real hold up?”

“Of course I am! My name is George Willard and I’m your guide. I wrote to you...,” George paused, indicating the unmasked robber. “This is Alvin Kittlebury. He’s a lay preacher. That’s why he didn’t take any money.” He dropped his head and muttered. “This is terrible. If you’re not the right Smith and Joneses, where are they? Are they on a coach heading off to who knows where? Oh, this is just awful! Absolutely nothing will happen to them.”

Heyes shook his head in confusion. “Well, we’ll see when we get to Palisade. Thaddeus, tie them up,” he turned to Gloria. “Just what is your place in this, Ma’am?”

“I’m going to Palisade to get married,” she shot a nervous look at the assembled ‘players,’ lined up against the coach.

Heyes pinned the easterner with a glare. “What was all that talk about a wedding?”

George’s eyes widened. “Acting! Pure fiction. We need some kind of story when we refuse to take passengers’ money. We didn’t know you were getting married, Ma’am. We don’t frighten folks, that’s why we joke with the robbers.”

“Who are you marryin’?” asked Kittlebury. “I don’t know of any weddin’s planned and it’s a real small town.”

“Louis Llewellyn.”

“Louis Llewellyn?” The three local men started to laugh. “Are you sure that’s his name?” sniggered George.

“Yes. I have his letters here in my reticule.”

“I take it you ain’t seen his picture, then?” chortled Kittlebury.

“Why?” Gloria felt chills spreading from a heart which seemed to judder to a halt.

“Well, he’s...,”

Gloria cut off the preacher. “What!? A drunk, a thief. Is he violent?”

The driver shook his head. “I’ve known Louis all his life and I can truly say that he’s none of them things.”

“What then? What’s so funny?” she demanded. “Is he dreadfully ugly?”

“No. He’s far from ugly, in fact most of the women just adore him,” grinned the preacher.

“Is he a womanizer?” Gloria choked back a sob. “Oh, I couldn’t take that!”

“He’s clearly more of a womanizer than we had him down for, but it ain’t no never mind,” snickered the driver. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

“Turn around,” barked Kid, approaching with the rope he found under the driver’s seat. “Hands behind your back. There’s a lot for us all to find out when we get to Palisade.”

///////////

“There really ain’t a sheriff in Palisade?” Kid demanded.

The squat little man, as broad as he was tall, shook his head. “We don’t need one, this is a law abiding town.”

“No crime?” asked Heyes.

“None,” declared the Mayor.

“Except for your fake crimes?”

The mayor shrugged. “This was a mining town, but the silver’s all but dried up. We had to do something to keep the place going, so Mr. Willard had an idea. He’d come from Philadelphia to run the newspaper. There was a train full of easterners coming through here, on their way to experience ‘the real west,’ so we put on a train robbery, with fake robbers, and the local posse hunted them off, leavin’ all the passengers safe. They loved it and spent a fortune at the hotel giving ‘statements.’ Well, after George here ran a piece out east we can’t keep them away. The hotel’s so full we had to build another, the mercantiles can’t get stock fast enough and folks have finally got a reason to stay.” He grinned cheekily, “Palisade was very nearly a ghost town, but we’re full of tourists. It’s our major industry now.”

“But we were held up, and this lady was terrified,” barked Heyes.

“Please accept our apologies. Your stay in Palisade will be on us, meals included, of course.”

“I don’t suppose we got much choice,” growled Kid. “No sheriff? How come the bank’s never been robbed?”

The mayor shrugged. “Too many men with guns, I guess, and the folks going around wearing stars shooting at actors pretending to commit crime. They probably think they’ll be dropped where they stand. We have three major incidents a day – all planned and rehearsed, of course.”

“Who pays for folks to do that?” queried Heyes.

“The business tax pays their wages. After all, they owe their trade to the easterners attracted to town. One hand washes the other.”

Heyes shook his head in bemusement. “Madness! Utter madness.”

They turned as the door opened and a flustered woman in her thirties stomped up to Gloria. “Is it true? Are you here to marry my Louis?”

Gloria blanched. “That’s why I came. Who are you?”

“Mrs. Llewellyn, and I can tell you that this marriage is OFF! It’s not legal.”

Gloria felt a chasm of emptiness eat at her. “I’m sorry. I had no idea. He didn’t tell me about himself...”

“Of course he didn’t, or you wouldn’t be here!”

Gloria’s voice rasped with emotion. “No. He sent wonderful poems, he courted me.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed before she swiveled on her heel. “I’ll kill him!”

Gloria rubbed her eyes and wandered aimlessly out into the street, sitting on a bench drenched in bright sunshine as caustic as her stinging tears. How stupid had she been to give up her position and spend her life savings to travel thousands of miles for a lie? She opened her little bag and ran grubby coins through her fingers. She had sixty five cents. A rasping sob suffocated the strangulated little cry fighting its way through her mounting anxiety. Yes, she had a room for tonight and food, but what about tomorrow? Her eyes drifted over to the whooping crowd hanging around the saloon, attracted by the jangling, tinny piano music drifting in the air. A woman could just be seen above the batwing doors her pale arm holding aloft a bottle, whilst scarlet satin drifted inexorably south from her ample bosom. Was that what she would become?

“Miss?” She looked up to see the fair man from the coach smiling at her through her filter of tears. “Are you alright?”

“For now,” she sniffed.

A frown flickered across his brow before he sat down beside her. “So... The wedding’s off?”

She nodded, catching a sniffle in an over-washed, limp handkerchief. He sat quietly, waiting and watching, until she was ready to talk. “Have you any family?”

“No.”

“Money?”

Her gasping, heaving shoulders told him all he needed to know. “Where do you need to get to, Darlin’? Where will you be safe?”

“Where?” she gave a hopeless, mirthless laugh. “Yesterday? A month ago? Anywhere where I’ve never heard of, ‘Louis Llewellyn.’”

Mrs. Llewellyn stomped up to them, dragging a red-eyed lad behind her. “This is my son!” she declared angrily. “I’ve brought him for an apology.”

Gloria groaned. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t know he was already married and I certainly didn’t know he had a son. Do you really think I’d have travelled all the way from Boston for this?”

“Married?” she snorted, pointing at the boy. “THIS is Louis Llewellyn... He’s thirteen and up to his ears in trouble! I brought him to apologize to you.”

Gloria’s eyes widened. “What? But his letters, the poetry...?”

“I copied them from school books,” the lad simpered, his ear getting redder and redder by the moment, pinched between his mother’s unrelenting fingers. “In my best writing.”

“He’s too clever by half; and willful! This is all because he’s been told that as long as he lives under our roof, he abides by our rules. He thought if he had a wife, she’d make a home and he could do what he wanted.”

Kid hooked her with a warning glare. “Ma’am, this lady is stranded here because of your boy.”

Shame flickered across her face. “You must stay with us until you get sorted. I just feel so responsible,” she tweaked the boy’s ear. “I should never have taken my eye off him for a moment.”

“It’s all too embarrassing. I can’t stay here.”

The church bells started to peal. “Ten to twelve,” mused Mrs. Llewellyn. “The Indian attack starts at noon. We’d best get off the street unless we’re prepared to act and, frankly, I’m not in the mood.”

“Indian attack?” Gloria’s eyes widened in horror.

“Sure. The local Shoshone ride through at noon every day and fire off a few blanks, before our boys chase them off. It won’t be as good as usual though, Margaret Thompson just got married, so they’ve got nobody to kidnap anymore.”

“Huh?” Kid ran his fingers through his hair as his brow furrowed. “Kidnapped?”

“Not for long. Hank Simpkins would catch up and rescue her. She was fearless,” she tweaked her son’s ear. “They’re desperate to replace her. She was in three raids a day and was just wonderful.”

Kid arched an eyebrow. “How well do they pay?”

“Ten dollars a month. It was the centre piece of the whole attack.”

“Really? That’s better than most men earn.” A grin spread over Kid’s face. “You gotta be pretty fearless to come all this way on your own. How about it Miss Mundy? You fancy leapin’ off a horse or two while you get some money behind you?”

“They’d never hire me.”

“My friend can be pretty persuasive when he puts his mind to it.”

Her eyes glittered with doubt. “I’ve never done anything like it.”

“Joshua and I know a bit about fancy ridin’. We can stay a few days. I’ll teach you.”

Temptation swirled in her eyes. “Do you think I dare?"

“Darlin’, you came all this way for a new life. Surely you’re brave enough to leap at the chance when it’s put right in front of you?”


Historical note

The town of Palisade, Nevada actually did start faking roberries, Indian attacks and shootouts from the 1870s and build a budding tourist industry out of visitors from the East coming to see the 'Wild West.' They made sure that they were mentioned in newspapers and Dime novels to court publicity for their 'shows.' It is now a ghost town. Alvin Kittlebury was the religious man who really did play the bad guy and the town was so law abiding that they had no need for a sheriff.


(Message edited by silverkelpie On 03/28/2012 2:38 PM)

Date Posted:03/28/2012 1:50 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:33 am

From Penski


Making the Leap…


“Are they still behind us?” Heyes asked wearily as he slowed his horse at the top of the ridge. He was tired and his horse was even more exhausted. A bloody bandana around his arm covered a grazed bullet wound.

“Well, it ain’t me shootin’ at ya occasionally, Heyes,” Kid retorted as he came up by his side..

“No need to get proddy, Kid!” Heyes snapped back. “Can’t believe the whole posse followed us and not the others. Who are those guys?”

“And whoever they are, they’re good. Too good.” The Kid took a drink from his canteen.

“Must have an Apache with ‘em,” Heyes commented as he took the proffered canteen.

Curry took off his hat and ran his fingers through his matted hair. “Ain’t Gold Creek nearby?”

“No time for Fanny Porter’s gals, Kid.”

“I know that, but what if…”

“Yeah, I bet they would hide us. Let’s go!”

Both turned and headed toward Gold Creek.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Heyes and Kid halted their horses in front of Fanny Porter’s Brothel and jumped off, handing the reins to a waiting attendant.

“Howdy, boys! The girls’ll be happy ta see you two!”

“Charlie, put ‘em in the barn, will ya, and take good care of ‘em,” Kid instructed.

“And if some men ask about us, you saw us gallop through town heading west. Got that?” Heyes threw a gold coin at the man as he followed his partner inside.

“Shore will, Heyes. You enjoy yourself and don’t worry about your horses,” Charlie shouted after the retreating pair.

“Kid! Heyes!” a buxom platinum-blonde greeted them at the door. “What a pleasant surprise! I’ll go tell Mabel and Susie that…”

Kid scanned the room for other ‘guests’ and a hiding place.

“Not now, Fanny. We’re in a bit of trouble…” Heyes started.

“What happened to your arm… Oh, don’t say another word! You go on up to the third floor into Lizzie’s room and I’ll get some girls around to cover for ya. Hurry on up now!”

Kid nodded to Heyes and the two ran up the stairs.

Fanny rang a bell and young women appeared in various stages of being dressed. “Girls, Heyes and the Kid need our help. If a posse shows up, you’re to slow ‘em down – get ‘em to forget their chase. And if anyone breathes a word about any of our ‘guests’ upstairs, they’ll have to answer to me! Now get ready!”

The girls scattered in preparation of the large group of men coming.

“Susie, Mabel and Lizzie, go on up and keep our favorite boys entertained. They’re up in your room, Lizzie,” Fanny instructed. “Charlie,” she yelled, “get their horses outta sight.”

“Yes, ma’am; I’m doin’ that right now,” Charlie called back from the back near the barn.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Heyes and Kid peered out a window on the third floor waiting for the posse to arrive when the door opened. Kid turned in a flash with his gun drawn.

“Howdy, Kid! Long time no see,” Mabel purred as she sidled up to him.

Kid holstered his gun and grinned. “Ain’t you a sight for sore eyes, darlin’!”

“And Heyes, get away from that window before they see you!” Susie stroked his arm. “Come join us on the bed and I’ll doctor that arm right up.”

“Fanny’s takin’ care of everything,” Lizzie assured them. “Told us to come up and take good care of ya. Got a bottle of the best and glasses. And some food, too. Guessin’ you boys haven’t had a decent meal in few days.”

“And plenty of hot water so you can clean yourselves up… or we can help ya with that, if ya want,” Mabel winked.

“Aren’t you all sweethearts!” Heyes smiled as he joined the party.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Several hours later, Heyes and Kid sat back on the 3rd floor landing, smoking cigars and listening to the sheriff in the street trying to get another posse together. Below them, the tinny piano played while the raucous party continued.

“Thank goodness for Fanny and her girls!” Kid said with the cigar clenched between his teeth.

Heyes grinned. “You could say we brought some business in for Fanny. That posse had to be tired of chasing us and needed a little diversion.”

“Yep,” the Kid agreed. “Think the sheriff will get another posse up?”

“Sure hope not.” Heyes sighed as he blew out some smoke.

“That was close, Heyes. Too close.”

“Yeah, it was.”

“And that robbery… Well, it could have gone better.”

“Safe’s at the bottom of a lake and the gang’s following Wheat.” Heyes shook his head. “Couldn’t have gone worse.”

“Sure it could have – we could have gotten caught by that posse or killed.”

“That’s true.”

“Heyes…” Kid took a paper out of his pocket and unfolded it. “I know what you said about this amnesty bein’ only for chicken thieves, but maybe we could ask and make certain.”

Heyes turned and glanced into the beseeching blue eyes.

“Wouldn’t hurt to find out more about it, would it? I mean… Dammit, Heyes, you got shot!”

“It ain’t nothing, Kid; it barely hurts now.”

“But what if…” Kid paused and then blurted out. “I don’t wanna see you die, Heyes. And I don’t know many gunslingers over thirty, do you?”

Heyes put down his whiskey and turned toward his partner. “What are you saying, Kid?”

“I want this!” Curry thrust the paper at Heyes. “At least I want a chance, though I probably won’t make it anyhow.”

“You know what this means, don’t you?” Heyes asked as he glanced at the paper again. “We ain’t gonna have the money we have now…”

“The way we spend it, we never have money,” Kid argued.

“True. And we’ll have to figure out a way to make a living.”

“So?”

“You sure this is what you want? You want to give up outlawing – something we’re good at?”

Kid pondered for a few minutes. “I wanna make the leap, Heyes, but I won’t if you don’t. We’ve been partners for a long time and I ain’t willin’ to lose that for amnesty.”

Heyes took a deep breath and blew it out. “Let me think about it some more, Kid. Meanwhile, I think we should get a little rest before heading back.”

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The two leaders of the Devil’s Hole Gang rode in silence most of the trip back to the hideout.

“Well?” Curry finally broke the silence.

“Lom Trevors.”

“Lom Trevors?”

“Yeah, know him?”

“Didn’t he leave a gang decidin’ he wasn’t cut out to be an outlaw?”

“That’s him.” Heyes glanced at his partner. “Last I heard, he was a duly-elected sheriff in Porterville.”

“A sheriff?!”

“Yep. Think we should go visit him.”

“Visit a sheriff?! Are you crazy?” Curry shook in head in disbelief.

“Think if anyone can find out about this amnesty offered on the flyer, Lom can.”

Kid stopped his horse. “Heyes, are you sayin’ what I think you’re sayin’?”

Heyes turned around in his saddle. “We always knew this life would lead to an early grave and if something happened to you, I’d… Well, I’d hate to have to train a new partner.”

“Train a new partner!?” Curry spurred his horse to catch up.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

“What kind of robbery do you call that, Heyes?!” Wheat shouted as he poked a finger at Heyes’ chest.

Heyes took a step back from the jabbing finger. “A job gone bad.”

“It was a… that’s right, a bad job!” Wheat snorted. “Draggin’ a safe… what were you thinkin’?”

“Not one of my better ideas.”

“Sure as hell wasn’t! Heck, I could’ve come up with a better plan that that!”

“I’m sure you can.” Heyes tied his saddlebags and then his bedroll behind the saddle when he noticed Kid coming out of the cabin. “Got everything?”

“Yep.” Curry walked over to his horse and began tying on his saddlebags and bedroll.

“You goin’ somewheres, Heyes and Kid?” Kyle asked with a mouth full of chaw.

Heyes stood with his hands on his hips, faced his opponent, and tipped his hat back. “Wheat, I think you should be the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.”

“Darn right I should be!” Wheat puffed out his chest and hitched up his pants.

Heyes and Kid mounted their geldings.

“Hey, where d’ya think you’re goin’?” Wheat confronted them.

“Well now Wheat, you don’t want the old leader here getting in your way, do you?” Heyes asked as he cocked his head to the side.

“Well, no, of course not,” Wheat reluctantly agreed.

“Where ya goin’?” Kyle asked.

“Not sure, Kyle,” Heyes answered him. “Hopefully down a different path.”

“An honest one,” Kid murmured.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Heyes and Kid Curry rode into Porterville late at night. Finding the sheriff’s office, they tied up their horses on a hitching post near the center of town. A couple on a bench nearby quickly got up and walked away.

Heyes and the Kid cautiously walked over to the jail and stepped up onto the boardwalk, standing there for a moment, with their backs to the wall, while surreptitiously watching the street to see if anybody’s watching them. They both turned and leaned over to look into the window.

“It’s him.” Heyes grinned.

Heyes knocked on the door.

“Come in,” growled a voice from within the office.


"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
Date Posted:03/29/2012 6:59 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:37 am

From Remuda


Saddle Talk: Making the Leap

“Heyes, do ya think goin’ for amnesty is too much of a leap?”

“Why do you say that, Kid? Don’t ya have enough faith we can do it?”

“I don’t know.”

“You wanted it. It was you had that amnesty poster to begin with.”

“I know. Just seems one thing after another lately. No work, no money. Nothin’ seems to be workin’ out. Seems the more we try, the more hard it gets, and out of reach.”

“That’s quite a mouthful for you, Kid. Cheer up. It has to get better.”

“Does it?”

“Ah, Kid, you’re just down in the dumps because the ground is getting harder, the game scarcer, and the weather colder. Maybe we should head down south where it’s warm. Pay Uncle Mac a visit.”

“I don’t wanna go to Texas.”

“Why not? He probably misses his ‘nephew’ – and his nephew’s charming friend, of course…”

“Of course.”

“Ah, Kid, why you rolling your eyes? That charming friend will use his silver tongue and power of persuasion to get him to let us stay for a few days, enjoy his hospitality…”

“Steal something back again from across the border… No thanks, Heyes.”

“The bust was bid on by Armendariz fair and square.”

“Not sure Uncle Mac sees it that way. Best we just stay clear of Red Rock.”

“But, Kid, think about it…”

“Heyes, I said ‘no.’ You’re not listening to a word I’m sayin’.”

“Sure I am, Kid. Just trying to cheer ya up.”

“Don’t need no cheerin’.”

“So you’re gonna stay grumpy all day? Maybe I’ll just ride ahead and leave ya to your bad mood.”

“…”

“Kid, did ya hear what I said?”

“…”

“Kid?”

“What?”

“Don’t give me that ‘look.’ Did ya hear what I said?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“What part did you hear?”

“I don’t know, Heyes. Whatever ya said.”

“I said I’m gonna ride on ahead and leave you to your grumping.”

“I’m not grumpy.”

“Oookay. Maybe just sulking.”

“I’m not sulkin’.”

“Hmm…Then what would you call being in a foul mood?”

“Heyes, I’m not in a foul mood.”

“Okay, like I said at the beginning, you’re in a grumpy mood…”

“No, I’m not.”

“Kid, if I was like the way you are now, you’d tell me to stop being grumpy. So I’m just telling you the same thing. Such a beautiful day. Look at that beautiful blue sky, the white puffy clouds, a few song birds riding along with us and singing, keeping us company…Life’s good, Kid. Might not have much going for us right now, but ya gotta admit, life is good.”

“Is it, Heyes?”

“Sure is. You try to cheer me up enough, lighten the load. There’s gotta be something that’ll cheer you up.”

“Yeah, maybe there is.”

“What’s that?”

“You ridin’ ahead.”

“Why?”

“It’d be quiet. Could enjoy this beautiful day you keep tellin’ me about – in peace.”

“Well, if that’s the way you want it, I could ride ahead.”

“Okay.”

“You don’t really want me to, do ya, Kid?”

“Hmph.”

“Well, at least I made ya smile! That wasn’t too much of a leap.”



Fast is good. But accuracy is everything. -- Wyatt Earp
Date Posted:03/29/2012 9:56 PM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:42 am

From RosieAnnie


I'm still trying to figure out how to do a "saddle talk" sort of story. This is my latest attempt. It's also a bit of a "missing scene" story. Two for the price of one!
-----------------------------------------
“Heyes, are you crazy?”

“No, Kid, listen. It’s a good deal.”

“A good deal, Heyes? What part of this deal sounds good to you?”

“The money, Kid. A thousand dollars! This’ll be the easiest thousand dollars we ever made!”

“Have you been listening to yourself, Heyes? You think taking this woman to Devil’s Hole is going to be easy? In case you forgot, you were the one who made the rule against women at Devil’s Hole. You. Hannibal Heyes. And you beat that into everybody’s heads. Now you’re planning to take some woman you don’t know into Devil’s Hole, to find a husband who may or may not be there, and you’re going to break your own rule to do that? Not to mention that the law’s watching every trail into that place. How you planning to get past all those lawmen dragging some woman behind you?”

“Kid, it’s a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars! Do you know how long that’ll keep us in food and decent places to sleep? Think about it, Kid! No sleeping on the cold, hard ground. No eating beans for a week, because we can’t pay for a real meal. We can even go to San Francisco on that and live good! And there’ll still be some left over for a poker stake. I can build that money into two thousand, maybe more!”

“I am thinking about it, Heyes. More than you are. And I’m thinking that you shouldn’t be putting any faith in this woman. I mean, how do you know she is who she says she is?”

“Kid, I’m willing to take a leap of faith for the right reasons, and here, I got a thousand reasons.”

“How do you know she ain’t planning to turn you in for the reward?”

“Kid, she’s got a stack of money. She’s rich. She’s got a fancy suite, she’s paying for a private coach, and she’s even got a butler. She don’t need the money.”

“She says. All you seen is the money in her room. Besides, how many rich people do you know who says, oh no, I don’t need no more money, I got no use for another $10,000. Or another $20,000 which is what she could get for both of us.”

“Kid, you got to have a little faith! If not in her, then in me.”

“Heyes, what’s needed here ain’t faith, it’s good sense. And you ain’t showing any here. We cannot take some stranger into Devil’s Hole, and especially not a woman. I wouldn’t even take Clem there, and we know she can take care of herself.”

“You don’t have to worry about us taking her, Kid.”

“I don’t? You telling me you’ve come to your senses?”

“I’m telling you I’m going by myself. I don’t want you to come.”
“Now I know you’re crazy, Heyes. If you’re going, I’m coming too. Somebody’s got to watch your back.”

“That’s why I need you to stay here, Kid. Just in case something happens, I need you available to come after me.”

“That’s great, Heyes, that’s just great. So much for your faith in Mrs. Phillips and her story.”

“I got faith in her money, Kid. And that gives me faith in her story. Enough, at least, to take her into Devil’s Hole.”

“This is a mistake, Heyes. There’s things about this woman and her story that don’t sit right with me. Especially the part about Lom helping her. I don’t see him telling some passing stranger where to find us.”

“Neither do I, Kid, and that’s another reason why I got to do this. If there is something going on here that she ain’t telling me, I’ll have some time to question her, find out what the real story is. If you’re along with us, you’ll be a distraction. I need time to be with her, alone. Besides, I need you to keep an eye on that butler of hers, Carlton. If she’s working with the law, he’ll be the contact person while we’re in Devil’s Hole. Make sure he ain’t doing anything but waiting.”

“Alright, Heyes. You do make a good point. I’ll do it, even though I’m hating every minute of it.”

“That’s all I ask, Kid. Stay in town, stay sharp, and be ready in case I need back-up. And don’t worry about me. Mrs. Phillips is just looking for her husband. It ain’t like she’s planning to shoot anyone.”


"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly." "The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
Date Posted:03/31/2012 7:52 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:43 am

From RosieAnnie


I'm still trying to figure out how to do a "saddle talk" sort of story. This is my latest attempt. It's also a bit of a "missing scene" story. Two for the price of one!
-----------------------------------------
“Heyes, are you crazy?”

“No, Kid, listen. It’s a good deal.”

“A good deal, Heyes? What part of this deal sounds good to you?”

“The money, Kid. A thousand dollars! This’ll be the easiest thousand dollars we ever made!”

“Have you been listening to yourself, Heyes? You think taking this woman to Devil’s Hole is going to be easy? In case you forgot, you were the one who made the rule against women at Devil’s Hole. You. Hannibal Heyes. And you beat that into everybody’s heads. Now you’re planning to take some woman you don’t know into Devil’s Hole, to find a husband who may or may not be there, and you’re going to break your own rule to do that? Not to mention that the law’s watching every trail into that place. How you planning to get past all those lawmen dragging some woman behind you?”

“Kid, it’s a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars! Do you know how long that’ll keep us in food and decent places to sleep? Think about it, Kid! No sleeping on the cold, hard ground. No eating beans for a week, because we can’t pay for a real meal. We can even go to San Francisco on that and live good! And there’ll still be some left over for a poker stake. I can build that money into two thousand, maybe more!”

“I am thinking about it, Heyes. More than you are. And I’m thinking that you shouldn’t be putting any faith in this woman. I mean, how do you know she is who she says she is?”

“Kid, I’m willing to take a leap of faith for the right reasons, and here, I got a thousand reasons.”

“How do you know she ain’t planning to turn you in for the reward?”

“Kid, she’s got a stack of money. She’s rich. She’s got a fancy suite, she’s paying for a private coach, and she’s even got a butler. She don’t need the money.”

“She says. All you seen is the money in her room. Besides, how many rich people do you know who says, oh no, I don’t need no more money, I got no use for another $10,000. Or another $20,000 which is what she could get for both of us.”

“Kid, you got to have a little faith! If not in her, then in me.”

“Heyes, what’s needed here ain’t faith, it’s good sense. And you ain’t showing any here. We cannot take some stranger into Devil’s Hole, and especially not a woman. I wouldn’t even take Clem there, and we know she can take care of herself.”

“You don’t have to worry about us taking her, Kid.”

“I don’t? You telling me you’ve come to your senses?”

“I’m telling you I’m going by myself. I don’t want you to come.”
“Now I know you’re crazy, Heyes. If you’re going, I’m coming too. Somebody’s got to watch your back.”

“That’s why I need you to stay here, Kid. Just in case something happens, I need you available to come after me.”

“That’s great, Heyes, that’s just great. So much for your faith in Mrs. Phillips and her story.”

“I got faith in her money, Kid. And that gives me faith in her story. Enough, at least, to take her into Devil’s Hole.”

“This is a mistake, Heyes. There’s things about this woman and her story that don’t sit right with me. Especially the part about Lom helping her. I don’t see him telling some passing stranger where to find us.”

“Neither do I, Kid, and that’s another reason why I got to do this. If there is something going on here that she ain’t telling me, I’ll have some time to question her, find out what the real story is. If you’re along with us, you’ll be a distraction. I need time to be with her, alone. Besides, I need you to keep an eye on that butler of hers, Carlton. If she’s working with the law, he’ll be the contact person while we’re in Devil’s Hole. Make sure he ain’t doing anything but waiting.”

“Alright, Heyes. You do make a good point. I’ll do it, even though I’m hating every minute of it.”

“That’s all I ask, Kid. Stay in town, stay sharp, and be ready in case I need back-up. And don’t worry about me. Mrs. Phillips is just looking for her husband. It ain’t like she’s planning to shoot anyone.”


"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly." "The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
Date Posted:03/31/2012 7:52 AM
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PostSubject: Re: March 2012 Making the Leap   Tue May 01, 2012 8:44 am

From Missyblu


Standing there in Lom’s office, the Kid’s hand shook as he reached for the folded paper with the official seal. “This is really it?” he asked, his voice betraying his disbelief.

“Yes, it is.” Lom handed Heyes an identical packet. “I know how hard it is to realize that you finally have what’s been promised to you all these years, but there they are.”

“Amnesty,” Heyes’ voice trembled as he looked up at his partner. “I never thought…” his voice trailed off as his throat closed up.

“You’ve sure worked hard for it,” Lom told them. “Now, there is one thing…”

The partners looked at him, identical frowns on their faces and Heyes said, “I know, another secret, right?”

“I can’t exactly have people knowing that I knew who you two were all along. As far as everybody is concerned, you’re just my friends Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. If they find out who you really are later, I’ll claim I had no idea. Okay?”

“Hell, Lom, it’s the least we can do after all the help you gave us,” the Kid told him.
“I’m just real glad that the Governor finally came through for you. I just never thought it would take this long.”

“So how are people going to find out about the amnesty?” Heyes wanted to know.

“It won’t exactly be headlines, boys.” Lom told them, knowing that’s not what they wanted to hear.

“Funny,” Heyes gave him a humorless smile. “Wasn’t that way when they thought we robbed a bank or train these past few years.”

Lom sighed. “I know it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. I suggested that one of his staff send out an announcement that can be telegraphed to the sheriffs in some of the larger towns. And there will be something written up for the newspapers, but I can’t guarantee you how many of them will actually run the story, although maybe quite a few of them.”

Throwing a warning glance at his partner, the Kid gave Lom a nod. “Not exactly somethin’ you can control, Lom. And we both appreciate what you’ve done for us.” Then he turned to Heyes and raised an eyebrow.

Feeling as if he was being reprimanded for something but not sure for what, Heyes smiled slightly. “Yeah, Lom, thanks for everything.”

Trevors reached for his jacket hanging on a hook by the wall. “Now, could I interest you gentlemen in the finest steak dinner the hotel has to offer?”

“Are you buying?” Heyes asked, a smile lighting up his face.

Giving him a short laugh, Lom nodded. “Yeah, I’m buying. I think it’s a safe bet that neither one of you have any money!”

“You’re sure right about that,” the Kid mumbled as they made their way out the door.

It was early in the evening and the dining room was nearly deserted. After they had ordered, Lom looked thoughtfully at his two friends. “You now, making the leap from being wanted outlaws to ordinary citizens might not be so easy. I know you’ve both had a hard time finding jobs as Smith and Jones. I’m not so sure telling people who you really are is going to help.”

A glance was shared between the partners and then Heyes spoke up. “I don’t know. We never thought we’d actually get to this point, Lom. I mean, month after month we kept hearing the same thing. Fact is, we were discussing whether or not we should head down to Mexico pretty soon.”

Lom stared at him, not sure whether to believe him or not. “Really?”

Heyes shrugged. “I guess we were just tired of trying to find jobs so we could make enough to eat. We were going to try and get enough money playing poker to get us a decent stake and ride down that way. A lot of places a man can hole up in and nobody cares who you are or what you’ve done.”

“I guess that’s true enough,” Lom reluctantly agreed. “A lot of bounty hunters steer clear of the border – they don’t want any trouble with the Mexican Federales.”

Nodding, the Kid took a sip of the coffee that the waitress had just served and said, “It’s not what we really wanted to do, but we had about given up hope of the Governor keeping his promise to us.”

“I can understand that,” Lom told them solemnly. “I was beginning to wonder myself and then I got the telegram asking me to meet him. When I got there, he just handed me the papers and told me he had better not be making a big mistake. Of course I assured him he wasn’t.”

“We won’t let you down, Lom. We stayed out of trouble for four years to get the amnesty, we’re not about to risk getting into trouble now that we have it,” Heyes assured him.

The waitress came over with their dinners and they gave their full attention to eating. They talked about old times, good and bad, while they ate and when dessert had been served, Lom turned to the Kid. “I’ve been in touch with someone I met a few years ago – he was a sheriff until he took a bullet in the leg and had to retire. He’s over in Carlton, which is a few days ride from here. He told me he’s thinking about opening up a gun shop and might need somebody to help out. I told him about you and if he gets the business going I’ll let you know.”

Curry threw Heyes a quick look before asking, “Did you tell him who I was?”

“No. He thinks your name is Thaddeus Jones.”

The Kid shrugged. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt. What do you think?” he asked his partner.

“If we decide to stay anywhere for a while, we’ll send you a wire,” Heyes told Lom. “If your friend wants to meet the Kid, we’ll ride to Carlton.”

Nodding, Lom finished his apple pie and added, “He said it might be a few months, but it’s worth thinking about.”

Setting down his empty coffee cup, Heyes turned to the Kid and asked, “You interested in heading over to the saloon?”

“Sure. You wanna join us, Lom?”

“No, I better not. I’ve got some work back at the office to catch up on.”

Once out on the boardwalk, Heyes and the Kid assured Lom they’d stop in to say goodbye if they decided to leave in the morning. The saloon was crowded and they stood at the bar, each sipping a beer until seats opened up at one of the tables. Hours later, and richer by more than a hundred dollars, they headed for their room at the hotel.

Relaxing in the luxury of having his own bed, the Kid was so tired after the events of the day he thought he’d fall asleep immediately. But he lay awake, his eyes watching out the window at the stars as they moved across the night sky. He didn’t think Heyes was sleeping either and a moment later he heard his partner moving restlessly on the bed. “Can’t sleep?” the Kid asked, his words sound loud in the otherwise silent room. Without waiting for an answer he continued, “I thought it’d feel different.”

“What do you mean?” Came the soft response.

Curry shrugged, although he knew Heyes probably couldn’t see the gesture as there was no moonlight to illuminate the room. “Gettin’ the amnesty. I just thought…I don’t know…” he didn’t finish the sentence because he didn’t know how to put into words what he was feeling.

Rolling over so that he could face the other bed, Heyes took a moment before he answered. “You mean you thought it would be like finding that water hole after being left in the desert by Danny? Or like when we got you cleared of that murder charge in Santa Marta?”

The Kid smiled in the darkness as he felt a rush of warmth envelop him. Trust Heyes to know exactly how he was feeling, even if Curry couldn’t express himself. “Yeah,” he said. “I just figured it would feel more like we needed to celebrate – not just dinner with Lom and some poker.”

“Maybe it’s because we both started thinking that it was never going to happen. And we didn’t want to think too much about it, so we just didn’t. Now that we’ve got the amnesty, it’s going to take us some time to adjust.”

“I just feel kinda…numb, I guess.”

“Almost like before,” Heyes’ hushed voice began. “When we lost everything. It took us awhile to realize what had happened was going to change our lives forever. Remember?”

The memory swept through the Kid as he remembered that bright spring day when they had been fishing in the creek instead of doing their chores and had smelled the smoke…

The sight of their families butchered…

The sound of too many voices all speaking at once when they had run into town; their eyes huge in their frightened faces and the days that followed when they had no idea what was going to happen to them.

“Yeah,” Curry finally said, his voice choked with emotions he thought he had buried long ago. “Kinda like that.”

“So,” Heyes tried to steer the conversation into safer territory, “What do you think we should do first? Just travel for awhile?”

Relieved to have something else to focus on, the Kid answered, “Sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a town where we can get jobs of some kind.”

Heyes gave a snort of laughter. “Somehow I don’t think being good at opening safes or your skill with a gun are going to be of much use.”

“Well, we were real good at runnin’ that saloon, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember. And I kind of liked doing that, didn’t you?”

The Kid grinned. “Sure was easy on the back, wasn’t it?”

“It sure beat ranching,” Heyes agreed. “I definitely don’t think we’re cut out for that.”

“Or cattle drives. Remember that one?”

“It turned out all right in the end,” Heyes admitted, “But it sure didn’t seem like it would at the time.”

“And I guess taking jobs like guarding a horse are out too,” the Kid remarked, remembering his stay in the Santa Marta jail.

“Problem is,” Heyes said quietly, “All those jobs we were hired to do should have been pretty straight forward. But then something always goes wrong and we end up in trouble.”

“Why do you suppose that is?”

“Bad luck? Or maybe it’s because of all the terrible things we did when we were robbing banks and trains,” Heyes voice turned somber. “Maybe now that we’ve got the amnesty, things will turn around for us.”

“We could always head up into the hills and spend some time panning for gold,” the Kid suggested. “Kind of hard to get into trouble doin’ that. It’ll be just the two of us.”

“You mean like the time we got snowed in at Clarence’s cabin?” Heyes asked incredulously. “I hardly think that was staying out of trouble.”

“Nobody got shot or murdered,” the Kid argued. “We just lost all that money.”

“That was a lot of money, Kid. And we lost it twice!”

Hearing the slight note of irritation in his partner’s voice, Curry said agreeably, “It sure was, wasn’t it? But it was like the time goin’ after Caroline’s gold – we couldn’t hold on to that either.”

“I’m telling you, Kid, we just weren’t meant to be rich.”

“No, I guess not.”

They were both silent for a few moments and then Heyes said, “And then there’s the settling down thing.”

“What d’you mean?”

By now the moon had risen and was flooding the room with its cold glow and he could see the puzzled expression on Curry’s face.”

“Well, think about it. We could never stay in any one place too long, right?” At a nod from his partner he went on. “Do you think we’re going to like it when we’re not traveling around? I mean, I know it gets kind of tiresome sometimes, but living in one place might be too boring.”

The Kid shook his head slowly. “I dunno, Heyes. Right about now borin’ sounds kinda nice.”

“Yeah, maybe for a little while, but I think we’d get tired of it.”

Heyes didn’t reply right away, thinking about how he enjoyed riding into a new town, checking out the saloon and getting into a good game of poker with less than average players. True, there had been a few times when he’d faced someone as good a player as he was, but it hadn’t been often. He loved the challenge of sizing up the other men at the table and deciding on the best strategy to beat them. “There is one thing I do know, Kid.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

“We don’t have to decide tonight.” Heyes answered, the satisfaction of having solved their problem for the moment coloring his words.

“You’re right, we don’t. We made enough money to drift around for a while and maybe a job will come up somewhere.”

“That’s right. We waited all this time to get the amnesty, we don’t have to decide what we want to do right now.”

Feeling better now that he knew his partner was experiencing some of the same thoughts, the Kid sighed and turned over on his side. “Think I’m ready for some sleep. ‘Night, Heyes.”

“G’night, Kid.”


Date Posted:03/31/2012 4:45 PM
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