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 April 2012 - Eggs

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Calico

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PostSubject: April 2012 - Eggs   Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:56 am

Okay, don't swoon, I actually for once wrote a Challenge story - then I come and the boards gone!!
So here it is... Will move it to right place when we have a right place.
(Cannot see where to create extra area as opposed to topic - maybe I have to be promoted to an Admin Lady???)

Anyhow - without further ado - Eggs Entry!!! First story on new board, huh?


COOL HAND KID

Two familiar figures …
No, strike that.

Two kinda familiar, but unusually spruce, figures stand outside a small restaurant. Thumbs are hooked into vest pockets. Well polished shoes are widely planted.

Curry: “This is where you’ve booked for dinner?” He scans the posted menu. “Looks pretty fancy,”

Heyes: “Fanciest restaurant anywhere on the West coast of America according to that piece I read.”

Curry: “Cailles roti avec leur …” He squints. “...Looks like uff? What the Sam Hill is that?”

Heyes: “It’s – well, it’s…” He shifts his feet. “It’s French, Kid.”

Heyes receives the ‘look’.

Curry: “Have you seen the prices? For this kinda money I could get me a new suit.”

Brown eyes check out the execrable light blue outfit.

Heyes: “Wouldn’t go amiss.” Without pausing for that to sink in. “We never used to quibble over prices, Kid.”

Curry: “We used to rob banks, Heyes. Makes a difference to a man’s income.”

Heyes: “Look, we decided to come to Monterey ‘cos it’s full of rich folk on vacation, throwing money around and giving easy pickings at the poker table, huh?”

Curry: “WE decided?”

Heyes: “Okay, my idea – but you agreed.”
Acknowledging shrug from Kid Curry.
“And, for once, we have us a stake…”
Another acknowledgement from the blue-eyed one.
“Which I am gonna double and double again when we meet up with that Eastern dude who’s so keen to hear all about the Wild West while I teach him poker…”
The shrug this time indicates no more than – maybe.
“Then, my word on it, we eat what’s been called…” Slim fingers pull a clipping from a brown vest pocket. “…A gastronomic extravaganza for the discerning palate of the connoisseur.”

Curry: “You reckon we have ‘em, huh?”

Heyes: “Have what?”

Curry: “Discernin’ palates.”

Heyes: “Frankly, no. But, after months of beans, jerky, salt pork and bad coffee, I sure wouldn’t mind trying to develop one.”

Mulling. A nod.

Curry: “Lotta truth in there, Heyes.” Undertone. “Here he comes.”

With broad smiles our boys stride out into the street to greet a young man whose appearance epitomises ‘Eastern dude’.

---oooOOOooo---

The boys sit with their sucker – sorry, I mean their new acquaintance – in an upmarket saloon. Heyes, cigar clamped between his teeth, deals the cards. If the glance he throws Kid verges on the larcenous – well! No one is perfect, huh?

---oooOOOooo---

ABOUT AN HOUR LATER

The dude, whose expression somehow looks more knowing than earlier, pulls a sizeable pot towards him.

Dude: “I win again! What do you know?!”

Heyes: (sourly) “Must be beginner’s luck.”

Dude: “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just fetch another beer. Can I bring you anything? Joshua? Thaddeus?”

Two shakes of two ex-outlaw heads. The dude walks away.

Curry: “Sure he isn’t cheatin’?”

Heyes: “Pretty dang sure. Leastways I’ve seen nothing.” Pause. “I’m pretty dang sure he’s no beginner neither – but we can’t call him out for having played poker before and having the luck run on his side.”

Curry: “We could…” Pause. Mute conversation. “But we won’t. He never said he couldn’t play – not in so many words.”

Heyes: “He said he was real keen to see poker played Western style. He said he’d appreciate the chance to try his luck ‘gainst someone who’d seen the golden peg struck at Promontory, rode the Chisum trail, been the tracking champeen of all Southern…”

Heyes tails off. He meets the sympathetic gaze of his partner.

Curry: “’S’orright, Heyes. Maybe you were so busy silver-tonguin’ him, you didn’t realise the soft soap was flowin’ in both directions. An’ you couldn’t be expected to foresee Cuthbert bein’ a better player than…”

Outrage on the face of a former leader of the Devil’s Hole gang.

Curry: “…I mean, you couldn’t be expected Cuthbert – lookin’ the way he does – and called the second dumbest name I ever heard - would be able to take advantage of the cards runnin’ in his favour…” Lower tone. “He’s comin’ back.”

Dude (aka Cuthbert): “I decided against beer – time to switch to whiskey.” A bottle and three glasses are placed on the table. “It’s the good stuff! On me.”

He pours with a generous hand. The expressions of the ex-outlaws as they take their first sip suggest that while Cuthbert may verge on disingenuous when describing his poker skills, his verisimilitude when describing whiskey quality is absolute.

Cuthbert: “Your deal, Thaddeus.”

Fortified by ‘the good stuff’ Heyes rallies.

Heyes: “What do you say we take a break from poker? Have a bet on something else. Something light-hearted. Just for fun.”

Questioning look.

“What about - let me think…” Exaggerated brow wrinkling. “I know. Suppose I deal twenty-five cards and try to make five pat hands?”

Mulling from the dude.

Cuthbert: “Sure, why not?”

---oooOOOooo---

LATER

Our two boys are alone. A plethora of cards – none forming a pat hand – litter the table before an utterly chagrined Heyes.

Heyes: “He musta stacked the deck! He musta!”

Curry: “Well…You were watchin’ like a hawk. D’ya see anything?”

Heyes: “No, but…” Frustrated, he shuffles the cards into alternative – but still non-pat – hands. “He musta! It was twice running! The odds are…” Shuffle. Scowl.

Curry: “Heyes, if you wanted to call him for cheatin’, before he left woulda worked better.”

The scowl on Heyes’ face gradually relaxes.

Heyes: “Nah, it coulda been luck. Maybe. Besides, IF he was cheating, he soft soaped us to a table and took our money without us spotting a dang thing. I reckon us – US – bearing a grudge would be kinda…”

Curry: “Pots callin’ kettles?”

---oooOOOooo---

INSIDE THE FANCY RESTAURANT

Heyes and Curry have just entered.

Curry: “This is a mistake.”

Heyes: “We booked and I gave ya my word we’d be dining here, Kid.”

Curry: “Yeah, but…”

Heyes: “You want me breakin’ my word?”

Curry: “No, but…”

A snowy-aproned waiter bustles towards them.

Waiter: “Bien venue a Chez Pierre, Messieurs. Suivent-moi, s’il vous plait…”

Heyes (sotto voce): “You’re hungry aren’t you?”

Curry (ditto): “Not arguin’ I’m hungry!” Half reluctantly, he follows Heyes to a table. “I could eat a horse!”

Heyes: “You probably don’t wanna go saying that too loud in a French restaurant.”

---oooOOOooo---

TWO DELICIOUS HOURS LATER

In the middle-distance two replete ex –outlaws have pushed back their chairs. Long legs stretch out before them. Lower vest buttons are unfastened. Heyes and Curry each hold a brandy glass in one hand and let the other rest – comfortably – on a full belly.
Up glides a waiter. The folded check is presented on a silver salver. Heyes takes it, flicks it open with one slim finger. We see his lips move. His eyes meet those of the waiter. An apologetic shrug. Make that two apologetic shrugs. The waiter’s fingers click. Over goes the dapper Maitre D’. Rapid explanation from the waiter. Outraged chest swelling and eyebrow lifting from the Maitre D’. Gallic gesticulation. French fury. Continental choler. Again with apologetic shrugs from our boys.

---oooOOOooo---

LATER – THE KITCHENS

Hannibal Heyes, jacket off, sleeves rolled, is up to his elbows in soapy water. Kid Curry, also in shirt-sleeves, is rapidly wiping dish after dish.
The chef, a vast individual with magnificent mustachios, is berating them. Belligerently. Not to mention, bilingually. Or, at any rate, with an accent thicker than crème brulée.

Pierre: “You zeenk you eat ze food of Pierre for nozzing??!! Imbeciles! Stupides! Non! Non! Et encore, Non! Eef you not pay in monaaay, you pay in work, hein? Pierre make you sweeeet!”

Heyes (correcting): “Sweat.”

Curry (affable): “Hafta say, Pierre, that meal you cooked was worth sweatin’ for.”

Pierre: “Cooked! COOKED!! I – Pierre – ‘e not cook! ‘E create! ‘E compose! ‘E concoct! Am I – Pierre - a mere cook?? Pah! Je suis un chef!”

Curry: “No offense. Just sayin’ – that was some meal.”

Pierre: “Eet was not SOME meal! C’est un repas superbe! Non?”

Despite the continued bluster, Pierre is clearly mollified by Kid’s praise. He watches him for a moment and nods with approval.

Pierre: “You ‘ave fast ‘ands! Comme moi! See!” He slices a carrot in the wink of an eye and a blur of steel. “But your slow friend ‘ere…” The blade points, scathingly, at Heyes. “Pfffttt!”

Chagrin widens dark brown eyes.

“Joshua, ’e lets you do more of ze work, hein, T’addeoos?”

Curry: “Well…” He catches his partner’s eye and shuts up.

Pierre: “Eef ‘e not work plus vite, Pierre cook ‘eem with garlic, comme les autres escargots, hein?”

However, when Heyes glances up, the mustachios twitch with what might just be a smile. Yeah, this chef’s bark is worse than his bite. His face relaxes a little as he watches Heyes and Curry still working with a will.

Pierre (pointing): “Finish zose and we are – ‘ow you say – all square, hein? No ‘ard feeling?”

Mute conversation between our boys. Their nods express, ‘fair enough’.

---oooOOOooo---

LATER

Pierre sits with Heyes and Curry at the scrubbed table. Three used glasses and an open bottle of wine hint at friendly relations having been established.

Pierre: “Zis – ‘ow you say – Doooode, ‘ees name was Coot-a-boot?!”

Curry: “Yeah – well, Cuthbert.”

Pierre (laughing): “’Eem?!!” More amusement.

Heyes: “You know ‘eem, I mean - him?”

Pierre: “’E ees… You ‘ave to like ‘eem, but… Coot-a-boot ‘as won ze wages off ‘alf my waiters! Once, before I learn, ‘e won a week’s takings off me! Off Pierre! Zen ‘e say, what I bet ‘e can cut an ace weev…”

Heyes: “A single try.” Pause. A crafty expression flickers in the brown eyes. Slim fingers reach into a bowl keeping cool on a marble slab. “Hey, Pierre, what d’you bet I can make one of these eggs stand on one end?”

Pierre: “Pfffttt! Nozzing!” The chef picks his own egg, licks it, salts it, stands it. Heyes’ shoulders slump and Curry chokes back a laugh. “Pierre, ‘e ees no fool!”

Heyes: “Guess not.”

Pierre (sheepish): “Eet was Coot-a-boot – ‘ee show me. ‘Ee won a free meal wiz zat one!”

Heyes: “Guess Cuthbert’s no fool either. I underestimated him. Still…” Mulling. “…Now he might be underestimating me.”

Curry: “You’re not thinkin’ of a rematch?”

Pierre: “Ees nice idea, but Coot-a-boot ees clever-r-r.”

Curry: “And, I hafta remind ya, we’re short one poker stake.”

Heyes is still holding the egg, turning it in his fingers as his brow furrows, thinking. A smile dimples his cheeks.

Heyes: “Who needs poker?”

---oooOOOooo---

NEXT DAY – THE SALOON

Our boys enter, scan the place, spot Cuthbert, stride over. He has his back to them. In full naïve dude mode, with the demeanour of an eager puppy, he is – apparently – in thrall to a grizzled individual.

Cuthbert: “I’d sure like to tell the folks back East I played poker – that was the game, huh? – against a man who once worked a gold claim in Deadwood! Jumping Jehoshaphat, did you ever meet Wild Bill Hic…?” He tails off as a shadow falls across him. He turns. A fleeting nervousness as he meets first icy blue, then hard brown eyes. Then his wide, boyish grin returns. He stands. “Thaddeus, Joshua, great to see you!” Their half-reluctant hands are pumped enthusiastically. “Let me introduce you to Hank. Hank was once a gold miner in Deadwood…” Eyes wide with boyish admiration. “…Isn’t that just fascinating?!”

Hey, you know what, Pierre was right. Even when you know he’s a bit of a rogue, you can’t help kinda liking Cuthbert.

Heyes and Curry touch their hats to Hank, who returns the courtesy.

Heyes (to Hank): “You wanna watch this fella. Last night he had a real run of beginner’s luck. Won near $500 from us.”

Hank’s head goes back. He shoots a suspicious – though also admiring - glance at the supposed greenhorn.

Cuthbert: “Won fair and square.” His eyes flick, momentarily, to Kid’s tied down gun. His own hips are conspicuously gun free. “I hope you fellas aren’t the kind to hold a grudge?”

Curry: “Grudges are for folks with bad stomachs.”

Heyes: “But, we are the kind of fellas who’d like a chance to win back…”

Curry (jumping in): “No!” “We ain’t!”

He glowers at his partner.

Heyes (finishing): “…Some of our money.”

Curry (sotto voce hiss):“Joshua, we agreed…”

Heyes (ditto): “Well, now I’m changing the agreement.” He smiles at Cuthbert. “What d’you say?”

Cuthbert (also smiling): “Sure, Joshua! Poker? Ah, I see Thaddeus does not like the sound of that. What about a more – light-hearted – bet?”

Heyes: “Name it.”

Cuthbert: “Let me think…” Cuthbert’s baby-blues scan the bar, light upon the huge jar of boiled eggs labelled ‘Free With Drink’. “What would you bet I can make an egg stand on end?”

---oooOOOooo---

TWO MINUTES LATER

A seemingly disgruntled Heyes, unfastens his pocket watch chain from its buttonhole and drops watch and chain together into Cuthbert’s waiting palm.

Curry (sotto voce to Heyes): “Ya wouldn’t listen, would ya?”

Heyes (to Cuthbert): “Another bet!”

His demeanour suggests the desperate eagerness of an incorrigible gambler.

Cuthbert: “What have you got left to stake?”

Heyes: “Thaddeus’ watch…”

It is summarily plucked from a vest pocket and plonked on the bar.

Curry: “Hey!”

Heyes: “And…” Pockets are searched. A crumpled note and a jangle of loose change hit the bar. A left boot is removed, a sock rummaged, boot replaced. Another even more crumpled note joins the pile. Cuthbert gingerly unfolds it with the tip of a fastidious finger. “And…” Rapid counting. “…Seven dollars fifty four cents.”

Cuthbert picks up and examines the watch. Mulling.

Cuthbert: “What’s the bet?”

Heyes’ turn to scan the bar. His eyes, too, light on the ‘Free With Drink’ jar.

Heyes: “Thaddeus can eat fifty eggs!”

Stunned silence.

Cuthbert: “Nobody can eat fifty eggs.”

Hank: “Nobody can eat fifty eggs.”

Curry (aside to Heyes, mouthing only): “Nobody can eat fifty eggs.”

Cuthbert (to Hank, suddenly cautious): “Did you ever see anyone eat fifty eggs?”

Hank: “Nobody ever eat fifty eggs!”

Curry (aside to Heyes, sotto voce): “Why you got to go and say fifty? Why not thirty-five or thirty-nine?”

Heyes (aside, ditto): “I thought it was a nice round number.”

Despite their lowered voices, Cuthbert overhears this.

Heyes (out loud, to Cuthbert): “If I say Thaddeus can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs.” Squaring his shoulders. “Hey, City Boy, do we got a bet here? Fifty eggs!”

Cuthbert (eyeing the seemingly dismayed Kid): “In how long?”

Heyes: “An hour.”

Curry (aside to Heyes, mouthing only): “An hour???!!!”

Cuthbert: “Fifty eggs?”

Heyes: “Uh huh.”

Cuthbert: “In one hour?”

Heyes: “Uh huh.”

Cuthbert (suspicious): “One continuous hour? No breaks.”

Heyes: “Uh huh.”

Cuthbert: “Hard-boiled?”

Heyes: “Uh huh. But I get to shell ‘em before he starts.”

An acquiescent nod from Cuthbert.

Cuthbert: “And – he has to keep them down. No throwing up. Nothing like that.”

Heyes: “Uh huh. And the odds – let’s make it fifty to one. Fifty being a nice round number.”

Pause for thought.

Cuthbert: “I’ll have me a piece of that bet!”

Out comes a roll of dollars.

---oooOOOooo---

FIVE MINUTES LATER

A small, but keenly interested crowd has gathered. In the centre sits Kid Curry, vest and jacket off, shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest (I spoil you!), towel draped around his shoulders boxer-style, belt loosened, legs akimbo. On a table beside him is the jar from the bar, which holds at least twenty-five eggs. Next to that stands a second jar, equally huge. Heyes is massaging Kid’s belly.

Heyes: “You gotta keep those stomach muscles loose – loose. Keep breathing real regular. Don’t be wasting time chewing. I put in the egg, two chews, swallow. I put in the egg, two chews, swallow. We keep the rhythm. Got it? Easy.”

Curry: “If it’s so easy – how come you ain’t doin’ the egg eatin’?”

Heyes: “It was me came up with the idea! If I come up with the idea AND eat the eggs – where’d you come in?”

Kid Curry blinks. Huh?

Heyes: “Ready?”

Curry: “No!”

Heyes (loudly): “He’s ready! Let’s fetch in the eggs.”

Cuthbert’s brows snap together. His gaze goes to the jars.

Cuthbert: “What do you mean – fetch in the eggs?”

Heyes: “Not those!” Loudly. “Pierre!”

Pierre enters. He carries a very large bowl full of very small eggs. They are carried past a bewildered Cuthbert and set beside Kid Curry.

Heyes: “The bet was fifty eggs, hardboiled, in one continuous hour.” He dimples at Cuthbert. “Nothing was said about them being hen’s eggs.”

Pierre: “Zese are ouef de caille.”

Curry: “Quails eggs.” He sprinkles a little salt and pops three in his mouth. Two chews, gone. To Pierre, “Mmmm. Délicieux.”

---oooOOOooo---

LE FIN

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Calico

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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:13 am

From #1sistergrace



Well, what do ya know?! A very small "Easter" Bunny hopped this morning!

The Deviled Hole Gang

Sunrise - Devil's Hole

"Heyes?" asked Curry, his feet perched comfortably on the porch rail of the leaders' cabin.

"Hmm?" Heyes responded, similarly positioned, mug of steaming coffee gripped in his right hand.

"How many outlaws does it takes to boil an egg?"

"I don't know, Kid. How many?"

Curry let the front two legs of his chair drop with a thud and leaned forward, resting both elbows on his knees as he watched the early morning activity at Devil's Hole. Kyle, wiping sweat from his brow as he raised a bucket of water from the well. Lobo, fetching wood from the shed. Preacher, chasing a hen off her nest to grab at its contents. And Wheat, supervising, sipping his morning coffee, barking out orders to a gang of outlaw misfits, seemingly destined for a life of less-than-mediocre crime.

"Forget it," Kid decided. "Just one of them questions that don't need answerin'. How are we ever gonna lead this bunch of hard-boiled ignoramuses?"

"Is that a rhetorical question too?"

Curry cast a side-ways glance at his leader partner.

"They're not so bad, Kid." Heyes pushed his black hat back, revealing a pair of shrewd, dark eyes.

"I don't know. They look pretty raw to me."

"Hard outer shells maybe, but on the inside, not one of them is really rotten. The secret is, we gotta coddle 'em."

"Coddle 'em? I don't take to coddlin' outlaws."

"I mean mold 'em. Work 'em to our way of doing things gently, over-easy-like, so we break 'em in, without breaking their spirits."

Just then Kyle stumbled, knocking into Wheat and sending the bucket of water he'd been carrying spilling into the dirt, as well as dying the front of Wheat's white shirt a murky shade of coffee-brown.

"Dang it, Kyle!" Wheat exclaimed, pulling the shirt away from his scalded skin. "What a dip! I oughta beat ya!"

Kyle scrambled to his feet, apologizing profusely and wiping at the front of Wheat, which did nothing more than change the coffee-brown to a shade more mud-like.

Curry turned a doubtful eye Heyes-ward. "Coddle 'em," he reiterated. "Might be quicker if we fry 'em in a vat of..."

"Kid," Heyes cut in. "Big Jim entrusted this gang to us, and we're gonna do our best to whip them into the most successful gang of outlaws in the history of the West!"

Across the yard, Wheat flogged Kyle with his hat.

"Whatever you say," Kid conceded, leaning back in his chair and resting both feet again, on the porch rail.

"You just gotta have a little faith, Kid. Look on the sunny-side for once."

"That bein'...?" he pulled a brown hat forward, over his eyes.

"That being, in order to make a Western omelette, you and me might have to crack a few egg-heads."


I'm not much of a philosopher...I just kinda take things as they come. KC
Date Posted:04/02/2012 11:29 AM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:15 am


From #2GhislaineEmrys

I read Grace's entry and this recipe immediately popped into my mind:


Devil’s Hole Eggs

6 pounds sawdust in tubes and proportional amount of nitroglycerin
6 protective tubes, oval-shaped
Blasting caps
Fuses
Metal bands, optional
Matches


Remove sawdust from tubes and gently mix with nitro in isolated cabin. Add blasting caps and fuses to sawdust. Scoop sawdust mixture back into tubes. Wrap metal bands around tubes, if desired. Light with matches. Serving size: One safe.

Enjoy!

(Here's a picture of what the recipe when halved looks like when finished:
http colon
http://en.wikipedia.org
/wiki
/File colon
Dynamite-4.svg)


(Message edited by GhislaineEmrys On 04/02/2012 7:35 PM)
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:16 am



From #3HannaHeyes



Hannibal Heyes walked into chaos. Before he had even made it to the bunkhouse, he could hear the argument spewing forth. "WHAT is going on here!?"



Kyle looked up wide-eyed and innocent. "Nothin' Heyes."



"NOTHING!" Wheat shouted at a volume too loud for a deaf man. "NOTHING! Kyle, how could....Heyes! Look at that! Just LOOK at what this numbskull's been doing! And right in front of my bunk!"



Heyes stepped over and looked where Wheat had indicated. "I don't see nothing but a bunch of broke eggs Wheat. What about eggs has got you so riled up, besides the obvious mess?"



"Its NOT the eggs. Its what Kyle has been DOING with them eggs!"



"Alright Kyle," Heyes said with a heavy sigh, "what have you been doing with the eggs?"



Kyle looked sheepishly at Heyes, then averted his gaze to the floor. "Well, I was gathering some eggs from the chickens the other mornin' and I got to thinkin' how in the world a chicken can sit on an egg and not break it. So I figured I'd try sitting on some, see if they'd hold me up."



"You been in here sitting on eggs? Since the other morning?"



"Well, not ALL the time. Just at night, when we's all done with the chores around here."



"Not JUST at night, ALL night! It'll be quiet and then, CRACK, eggs breakin' all night long! And besides that, he won't turn the lamp all the way off. I ain't slept good in THREE days!"



"Now Wheat. Calm down. No need to get all 'eggs'ited over it!"



"That's real funny Heyes. REAL funny. Why don't you try sleepin' in the same room with the Easter chicken here then!?" Wheat turned and stomped out of the bunkhouse.



"Kyle, I think you better get to cleanin' that omelette up there off the floor. And quit wastin' our eggs. You know Kid'll get proddy if he don't get a proper breakfast."



"Alright Heyes. Heyes? How DOES a chicken sit on an egg without breakin' it?"



"Its magic," Heyes smiled and left a bewildered Kyle to clean up the floor.




(Message edited by HannaHeyes On 04/02/2012 10:48 PM) Come to the dark side...we have cookies...
Date Posted:04/02/2012 10:47
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:17 am

From: #4InsideOutlaw



Heyes was dozing comfortably on the small front porch of the leader’s cabin when he was awakened by shots signaling a rider was approaching. He’d been expecting his partner, Kid Curry, to arrive today and was pleased to know he was back. The rest of the gang was off scouting a possible job that Wheat had lobbied hard for and Heyes had been feeling a bit lonely. The Kid had gone to Belton for a few days to spend some time with his current favorite gal, Lorelei. Heyes hadn’t liked him going alone and the Kid hadn’t cared. Heyes being leader only went so far with him.

Heyes stood up to see Kid and his bay gelding loping down the road towards him. It looked like the Kid was toting a big box under one arm. Kid reined up in front of the cabin and nodded to his friend.

“Watcha got there, Kid?” asked Heyes.

“Chickens,” said Kid.

“Chickens!” said a surprised Heyes.

“Yep, I’m gonna build me a chicken coop, Heyes,” said Kid.

“Kid, in case you hadn’t noticed; we’re outlaws not farmers,” said Heyes looking up.

“Don’t matter. I want fresh eggs and that means I need a chicken coop,” said the Kid stubbornly.

Exasperated, Heyes shut up and took the box from his cousin. Sure enough, there was a flutter of feathers and some alarmed clucks coming from the box. “Do you even know how to build a coop?” he said lifting the lid to peek inside. “Hello Ladies, new in town?”

Looking at his partner disdainfully, Kid dismounted and grabbed the box. He stalked off towards the barn leaving Heyes behind.

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

Heyes steered clear of the barn as long as he could. He knew how Kid struggled with the mechanics of building and his own skills were no better. Finally, after an hour of pounding and cussing, his curiosity got the better of him and he couldn’t resist checking on the progress. Opening the sliding door, he peeked around the corner and saw his friend sucking on his thumb while scattered pieces of lumber were strewn about the floor. There was nothing around even closely resembling a chicken coop.

“Need a hand, Kid?” asked Heyes.

The Kid scowled back at him for a bit and then slowly began to grin. “I need more than one, Heyes. I’ll take all the help I can get.”

Laughing, Heyes crossed over to him and picked up a board. “Let’s see…what we need is a plan,” he said happily.

The next few hours went by quickly and the structure began to take shape. Sitting back on their heels the two looked pleased with the results. There was now a serviceable, though crude, coop with a ramp leading to a small doorway. The peaked roof lifted on one side to allow for easy access to the nesting trays inside. The two of them carried the coop outside and placed it in a sheltered location up against the barn.

“Kid, you know we need to fence this in or the only ones getting eggs will be the foxes,” noted Heyes.

Nodding, Kid said, “I’ll fetch the chicken wire and cutters. There’s some posts down by the far end of the corral.”

Heyes and Kid spent the rest of the day and a good part of the evening working hard. They’d finally finished as the last of the sun fell and the moon started to rise over the cliff above the Hole. Lifting up the box of chickens, Kid carried it over to enclosure and stepped inside. Setting it down, he pulled off the lid, tipped it on its side and said, “Ladies, don’t be shy. C’mon out and see your new home.”

Scrambling over each other in a mad dash for freedom were seven white hens. Feathers floated behind them as they raced to the far end of the pen and clustered together staring at their tormentors.

“If looks could kill, Kid, I reckon we’d be dead in no time,” chuckled Heyes coming into the pen with a can of grain. “Here, chick, chick, chicks,” he said and he began making a clucking sound as he spread the grain across the small yard..

Kid watched his partner fondly. He was hit hard with a memory of watching a much younger Heyes feeding the family chickens. His friend still had the same slightly bemused expression on his face. It’d be good to have the fresh eggs, but maybe it’d be better to have something to care for other than a gang of misfit outlaws.

Heyes stepped out of the pen and leaned against a post. He was watching the chickens fight over the feed. “You know, Kid, I got to hand it to you. This might just be the best idea you’ve ever had.”

“Thanks, Heyes. That’s real nice of you. Sure is a nice night, isn’t it? Just look at that moonrise," said Kid. He was satisfied with the day's work.

“Yep. You know what Mark Twain says--nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs” said Heyes with a grin.





(Message edited by InsideOutlaw On 04/03/2012 2:58 PM) Date Posted:04/03/2012 2:49 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:18 am

From #5MazMcCoy


Eggs
By Maz McCoy

“OW! You are a dead woman if you do that again!” Kid Curry warned. “Why?” he asked through gritted teeth. “Did Kyle hide it here?”

“I don’t know but keep looking,” Hannibal Heyes advised.

“I will, but there just might be a blood bath at the end of this.”

“Stop moanin’ and search.” Heyes shoved his hand into a pile of straw, feeling around inside. He found a couple of warm eggs, but nothing else. Across the hut Kid mirrored his actions.

“OW! Dammit!”

“What now?” Heyes gave his partner a tired glance.

“She bit me!” Kid pointed an accusing finger at a serene looking chicken sitting calmly on her nest box.

“No, she didn’t.”

“Heyes, trust me, she bit me!”

“Chickens don’t have teeth, they can’t bite, so it would be more precise to say she pecked you.”

Two ice blue eyes fixed on Heyes. “And it would be real precise to say I’m gonna shoot the next one that does that.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Don’t bet on it.” Kid glanced at the offending bird. “One more time sweetheart and you’re chicken soup!”

“Are you seriously calling out a chicken?”

“I’m not calling her out, just warming her.”

“And you’re supposed to be such a charmer with the ladies.”

“Human ladies, Heyes. Not feather-brained ones.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Some of the women you…”

Heyes smiled sweetly when he saw the look Kid gave him. “Just search.” Heyes rummaged through the next box and the next. Two chickens clucked at him, one taking to the air in a frenzied flap before settling herself on a beam. Heyes replaced her eggs then brushed several pale feathers from his dark shirt.

“What the…? Oh, you have got to be kiddin’ me…”

Rolling his eyes in patient despair Heyes turned to face his partner once more. “Can’t you just…” He looked at Kid. White blobs, which could only be one thing, dotted Kid’s hat and the front of his shirt. Kid looked up at the birds perched on the beam. He looked across at Heyes. Heyes smiled.

Kid took a deep breath and spoke through clenched teeth. “I. Am. Gonna. Kill. Kyle.”

Heyes shook his head. “No, you’re not, but you are gonna find the money bag.” He stepped towards his friend and patted him on the shoulder, taking great care where he laid his hand. “Let’s find it and get outta here.”

Kid nodded and reluctantly shoved his hand beneath another chicken. “Have you noticed that rooster’s wearing an eye patch?”

“No, it’s not.”

“Take a look! Whoever heard of a rooster with an eye patch?”

“Kid, it is not wear…” Heyes looked at the rooster. “Well I’ll be.”

“I told you. This I no ordinary chicken coop. Rooster’s with eye patches, killer chickens…”

Heyes laughed. “They are not killer chickens, you’re just…Kid, I got something.”

His partner was swiftly by his side, watching as Heyes pulled out a hessian bag from beneath a plump bird. Taking offence the chicken flapped at the outlaw. Heyes opened the bag and peered inside. He smiled.

“That it?” Kid asked.

“Yep.”

“So we can get outta here?”

“We can.”

Kid looked around at the chickens now settled back on their nests. “You hungry?”



(Message edited by MazMcCoy On 04/03/2012 5:37 PM) Before breakfast?
Date Posted:04/03/2012 5:33 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:19 am

From #6HannaHeyes

“Honey, where are the eggs?" Mrs. Heyes asked her husband.

"There ain't any. Don't know what's wrong with those chickens. They ain't laid no eggs in two days."


"Well, I really need some. Would you mind running over to the Curry farm and see if they could spare some?"


"Yeah, sure. Be back in a little while."


But upon arriving at the Curry place, Mr. Heyes found that their chickens hadn't been laying either. "Well what the heck is going on? Are they all getting sick?"


"I have no idea," Mr. Curry said, obviously as confused as his brother-in-law. "I asked Jedidiah to go collect the eggs earlier, but he didn't come back. Caught a glimpse of him headed down to the creek with Han. I figured there weren't any eggs was why he didn't come back, so I just let him go."


"That's odd. I had asked Hannibal to collect OUR eggs this morning. He just came back and hollered that he was heading over here as he ran by the house."


"I think we better go check on those two."


"I think you're right!"


A few minutes later, the two men walked into a battlefield. Bodies were strewn all over the creek bank. A make-shift fort had clearly been bombed. And sitting on opposite sides of the flowing water reloading their 'cannons', were the two boys, each carefully putting an egg on a spoon that was laid across a twig, getting ready for another attack.


"HANNIBAL HEYES!"


"JEDIDIAH CURRY!"


"Have you two been wasting our eggs for the past two days!?"


"Well gee Pa," young Hannibal Heyes replied innocently, " we had to have some cannonballs!"



(Message edited by HannaHeyes On 04/05/2012 6:46 PM) Come to the dark side...we have cookies...
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:20 am

From #7Riders57



I apologize in advance, I cannot do English accent/dialect and decided it was better not to try.



The Great Hunt


“Mr. Trumble?” Heyes strode forward and held out his hand. “Colonel Harper sent us, said you needed some men familiar with the area and able to help you on your hunting expedition.”

“Ah, yes. Colonel Harper recommended you two highly. You know the terms of course?” The gentleman, clearly not from the west, was well dressed but in practical clothes that would do for the trail. He also spoke with a distinct accent.

“What are you huntin’?” the Kid asked, shaking his hand in turn.

“Well as to that,” Trumble hemmed and hawed a bit. “As I said the terms are ten dollars a day for each of you and a fifty dollar bonus if we succeed in the hunt.”

“That’s very generous pay Mr. Trumble,” Heyes responded, “now what exactly are we hunting that would justify such pay?”

“Please it’s just Trumble,” Trumble replied, still stalling. “Really I am a hired guide like the two of you, although I have guided our employers before. You must understand that they are eccentrics, and I have found that it often works better just to humor them.”

“To take their money, you mean,” Heyes said shrewdly.

“Well yes, but if I didn’t someone else would, and they can well afford it. Anyway will you take the job? I’d prefer it if our employers explained the quarry of this hunt.”

Heyes and the Kid communed silently; the money was too good to turn down, and they wouldn’t want to disappoint Colonel Harper, but Trumble was strangely reticent to tell them what was being hunted and that didn’t sit well.

“We’re not bounty huntin’ are we?” the Kid asked.

“No, no. I assure you the quarry is animal, rather than human. Quite a small animal actually, and not at all dangerous I assure you.”

Heyes and Kid communed silently once more, then Heyes turned to Trumble, “Alright we’ll be here in the morning.”

#####

In the morning, Heyes and the Kid entered the lobby to find Trumble standing there with two elegantly dressed men.

“Ah, hello, right on time. Let me introduce you all. Joshua Smith, Thaddeus Jone are our new guides; they come highly recommended as trackers and hunters. Please meet Mr. E.G. Gusthwaite and the Honorable Hobart Humperdink.”

Heyes and Curry blinked slightly, but nodded their heads in greeting.

“Call me HH, please,” Humperdink responded shaking hands. “My name’s a mouthful, but not too bad; old EGGy here is Englebert Gillian Gusthwaite.”

“HH, is right. I suppose, if we will be on the – trail – isn’t that what you chaps call it? Anyway if we are to be on the trail together, we should start on a friendly basis. You Yanks are so open about that sort of thing. I’m generally called EGG or EGGy, and you met Percy last night. What should we call you?”

“I’m Joshua and this is Thaddeus,” Heyes replied, “Now tell us what we are hunting so we know the best direction to head.”

“Oh, it’s quite exciting really,” EGGy spoke enthusiastically. “Why we believe that we have found the home of some of the most exotic fauna on earth. We are hoping to catch the elusive …”

HH interrupted, “Really EGGy, not around so many people. I think we should wait until we are out of town to tell them. After all we don’t want anyone else to pick up the scent from us.”

“True, true. Let’s just head out west of town and then we’ll explain,” was the mysterious response.

The Kid rolled his eyes at Heyes, but they were getting well paid after all. “Do you have rifles or shotguns?”

Percy/Trumble spoke up, “Yes gentlemen we’ve taken care of all the necessary equipment and provisions so let’s mount up and head on out.”

#####

After riding for an hour or so, the men pulled up under some trees to rest.

“Alright,” Heyes announced, “we are going no further until you tell us what we’re hunting. We cannot do our job if we don’t know what you want to hunt.”

HH and EGGy looked at each other. Percy looked off and distanced himself from the discussion.

Finally, EGGy spoke. “We’ve spent years studying its habits and learning all we can about this rare creature. We, Gentlemen, are seeking the rare Cuniculus Pasqua. As you know unlike most rabbits, these make nests in the grass and lay eggs. We’d like to capture one live, and perhaps a nest filled with eggs, to prove to the world that these rabbits exist.”

HH spoke up, “People are skeptical of something they have never seen. Now we know the Cuniculus Pasqua exists and we intend to prove it to the world. We have spent years studying them and are convinced that they reside in this area. It’s mating season, so we hope to be able to find them as they begin their annual nesting.”

“So we’re hunting rabbits?”

“Yes.”

“You think there’s a rabbit that lays eggs?” Heyes and the Kid looked at each other incredulously.

“Well there have been stories of this rabbit for many years. In the spring many celebrate the arrival by sharing the rabbits’ eggs and other festivities.” EGG responded. “We have studied folk traditions for many years and have found that most have a basis in fact. We are convinced that this rabbit exists, and our studies have indicated that it is a native of these parts.”

“We’re huntin’ the Easter bunny?!” the Kid exclaimed.

Heyes and Curry turned to Trumble who shrugged sympathetically at their expressions and nodded.

“Yes,” he replied, ‘HH and EGGy here are quite insistent that this rabbit really exists and are willing to pay well for the privilege of finding one to bring back to England to prove it.”

“Ten dollars a day for each of us,” Heyes confirmed.

HH spoke, “yes and of course a fifty dollar bonus for each of you, if we are able to capture an adult rabbit and its nest. We don’t require you to believe.”

“Uh, huh.” The Kid grunted, “and just how long are you willin’ to hunt for the bunny?”

“Oh no more than a few weeks, I’m afraid. We have commitments back in London. I do so hope that we can find our quarry in that time. I will be so disappointed if we fail again.”

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other and at Trumble, but made no move to remount their horses.

“We do realize that our quest sounds absurd, but I assure you we are quite serious.”

Silence.

Finally, Heyes spoke, “Alright, far be it from us to refuse to assist in a scientific expedition but we want the first five days’ pay in advance.”

Curry’s eyes had widened at Heyes’ choice of words, but he backed his partner as always.

HH and EGGy exchanged relieved smiles and quickly counted out one hundred dollars, which Heyes and the Kid even more quickly pocketed.

#####

Several days later…..

Heyes and Curry had dismounted to look for tracks,

“This is ridiculous you know that don’t you?” Curry asked his friend. “Who looks for rabbit tracks, especially Easter bunny tracks.”

“You know, despite their eccentricities, as Trumble calls it, HH and EGGy seem like nice enough men.”

“Yeah,” the Kid, “but it seems wrong to take their money.”

“Don’t seem wrong to me,” Heyes replied. “Where are these scruples coming from? They know we don’t believe in this hunt, so why shouldn’t we take the money. It’s like that hunt I did for the seven-foot, red headed Indians. This time though, I made sure we got paid some in advance. But there’s no way we’re getting the bonus, Kid.”

“I guess. After all Trumble don’t seem to worry about the money, and they sure seem able to afford it.”

Heyes looked at the Kid for moment, then grinned, “The names sure are mouthfuls aren’t they, Percival, Englebert Gillian, and Hobart? Don’t hear those often. No wonder none of them go by their full names.”

“True, seems like I know someone else who won’t use his first name,” the Kid replied. “Although I gotta say, after hearing the names in this crowd, yours doesn’t seem so bad.”

“They are mouthfuls, aren’t they? Now let’s find us some bunny tracks.”

#####

Several more days later …

“If I hav’ta go ‘What about that one?’ one more time when I see a rabbit, I may shoot someone.”

“Relax, we’re eating well; we’re making money.”

“Yeah and I haven’t seen a bed in two weeks. I have money to spend and I’m out here huntin’ the Easter bunny and I can’t even shoot it if I find it,” the Kid complained.

Trumble walked over to the two of them. “Yes, well HH and EGGy are beginning to worry that they will have to leave without their blamed Cuniculus Pasqua. They’re beginning to think I’m bad luck. I need your help, guiding these two is the best job I’ve ever had and I don’t intend to lose it out here.”

“What do you have in mind?” Heyes asked cautiously. He and the Kid looked at each other. They had grown to like and respect Trumble over the past two weeks, recognizing a kindred spirit in his willingness to skirt the edge of the law, while exhibiting a basic goodness.

“I just need you to find me a dead rabbit – don’t shoot one though. And if it can look more white or something that would be helpful.”

“Dead rabbits aren’t just lyin’ around out here you know.”

Heyes rolled his eyes. “I think we could arrange a dead rabbit that didn’t indicate how it died.”

“Okay give me a two-hour heads up before you bring it to HH and EGGy to identify if it’s their rabbit. I need to be there when you bring it up.”

“Tomorrow then.”

They shook hands.

#####

The next day as Trumble, HH, and EGGy were settling down to late afternoon tea, Heyes and the Kid came riding up with a dead white rabbit.

“We found this back over by that hill over there where we haven’t been. I have to tell you its very odd to find a dead animal, rabbit or not, just lying around here and this one doesn’t look just like any other rabbits in the area. I’ve never seen a white rabbit in the wild, before.” Heyes announced.

HH and EGGy crowded around. “Do you think? How dreadful if our poor Cuniculus is dead.”

Trumble, spoke up, “why don’t you show us where you found it and we can look around there.”

They all rode over quickly. Trumble dismounted and the five spread out to examine the area. After about fifteen minutes, Trumble shouted out.

“Look I found a nest and there are eggs in it!”

HH and EGGy came running. They examined the eggs that seemed to have a rosy color to them.

“Oh, good job Percy. Look EGGy the nest has eggs and their color is likely, maybe we can save the eggs,” HH exclaimed. He and EGGy went into a huddle and eventually they carefully bundled the eggs into cotton wool before stuffing them in a bag.

“We’ll head back tomorrow and try to incubate these eggs.” They talked excitedly amongst themselves.

Heyes and the Kid looked at Trumble, who shrugged, and grinned a little sheepishly, before joining HH and EGGy in discussing their plans for bringing the eggs back to London with them.

#####

That evening, after the Kid had bagged two prairie hens, they feasted.

“You are quite wonderful with that weapon, Thaddeus,” HH said wistfully, pouring more of the whiskey they were drinking as they ate. “I doubt I could ever shoot that well.”

“Out here, it’s useful to be good with a gun, if your goin’ to carry one,” the Kid replied.

“I do wish you’d tell us about the fauna you’ve seen in your travels. Even if you won’t admit that you’ve seen Easter rabbits.” EGGy invited.

“Fauna?” the Kid asked, then sipped some whiskey appreciatively.

“Animals, I mean.”

“Well,” Heyes settled in to tell campfire stories. “We’ve seen all kinds of animals. We’ve hunted and been hunted by some of the most dangerous of them all – mountain lions, grizzly bears, wolves. Yes we’ve seen them all. Or so we thought, but we’ve never seen your rabbits – the Cuniculus Pasqua – that we know of. Now I did catch sight of the Jackalope a time or two.”

The Kid snorted quietly into his whiskey.

“Jackalope? What’s that?” EGGy asked excitedly.

“You’ve seen the jack rabbits in the distance haven’t you?” Heyes continued, “well they can get big, bigger than you can imagine. But the Jackalope is bigger than the biggest jack rabbits. Some say Jakalopes came about when the biggest jack rabbits bred with antelopes. I don’t know if that’s the truth, but they’re called Jackalopes because their horns remind one of an antelope’s antlers. Yes indeed, the Jackalope is a rare sight around here, but it’s considered lucky to see one.”

Trumble looked skeptical, but kept silent. HH and EGGy drew in deep breaths, “Maybe once we prove the existence of the Cuniculus Pasqua, we will return and you gentlemen can help us find a Jackalope!”

“Maybe.”

“Do you know their habitats? Where we could find them?” HH asked.

“Well I can’t say for sure, but although they seem to like towns, they hide in the alleys and are generally seen late at night. Usually solitary men have seen them as they’ve headed home late at night, but I don’t know anyone who’s caught one.”

“Behind saloons?” Trumble leaned over and quietly asked the Kid. He nodded. Percy snorted.

#####

Three days later they saw Trumble, HH, and EGGy off at the train station.

“What do you think they’ll do when they find out those are prairie hen eggs, not Easter rabbit eggs?” the Kid asked.

“Well, if I know Trumble, those eggs will meet with an accident before ever making it to London and they’ll never learn,” answered Heyes, counting his money.

“Probably,” the Kid laughed. “Say how do you think he colored those eggs?”

“I don’t know. Now as I think of it, I really never have seen a white rabbit in the wild before.” Heyes mused.

“Heyes, you don’t suppose it really was...?” the Kid asked. “Nah…”

“Who knows at this point. What say we head to the saloon and see if we can find ourselves some Jackalopes?” he smiled and clapped the Kid on the back.

“Jackalopes it is,” the Kid laughed.





(Message edited by Riders57 On 04/07/2012 8:58 AM) Date Posted:04/06/2012 7:54 AM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:21 am

From #8Riders57


This one just sort of wrote itself once I had a chance to sit down with it. This is a sequal to my November 2011 challenge story: "The First Thanksgiving."


Candling

Jed Curry walked into the kitchen with the bucket of water he was bringing and stopped transfixed. Mrs. Hotchkiss had pulled the curtains shut so that the room was in shadows. She was seated in front of a shuttered lantern with two bowls on the table beside her and one full of eggs in her lap. The lantern was shaded in such a manner that all the light focused through a narrow opening. As he watched, she held an egg up to the light and peered closely at it, then put it in one of the bowls before repeating the exercise with the next egg. A look of longing entered the young man’s face.

Heyes walked in with an armload of firewood and bumped into Curry, dropping the wood. “Jed!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing standing there like a lump? You’re blocking…” His voice dropped off and his face whitened as he took in the scene.

Mrs. Hotchkiss looked up startled and saw the two young men staring at her so intently. She colored slightly, but wondered what it was that was causing the anguished and longing expressions on their young faces. These two men, boys really, that her husband and his best friend had brought home over Thanksgiving had wormed their way into her heart over the past few months. Both reserved, except with each other, both wary, but willing and eager to help out and pathetically grateful for the small kindnesses, such as clothes, boots, and food they had received in exchange for their help around the ranch. Neither spoke of his past, and her husband had warned her not to pry, but it was clear that life had been hard on them. They were in many ways mature beyond their years, but in others the boys in them came out.

“Boys, what’s wrong?” She asked. “I’m just candling eggs. It means I can…”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Curry answered. “We know what candlin' is. My Ma taught us.”

Heyes gave a groan, muttered “Aunt Grace,” then picked up the wood he had dropped, and hurried into the other room. They could hear him setting it down by the fireplace and slamming his way out the door. Curry looked sadly after him.

“He doesn’t like to talk about it,” Curry explained with a trace of sadness. “He says it doesn’t do any good to remember, that nothing can change what happened and we just have to move on with our lives, but sometimes I lie awake at night and think about my Ma and Pa and my family.” He confided to her. “Well I better go find him.” He turned and slowly walked back out the door.

Mrs. Hotchkiss gazed after him. That was the most personal thing either had offered in the months the boys had lived at the ranch. She wondered what had happened to his family and why young Heyes was so bothered by it.

#####

That night, after supper, after the children had gone to bed and Heyes and Curry had headed back to the barn where they slept, the adults sat around the fire, laughing and talking.

There was a lull in conversation. Ruth spoke, “this afternoon, I had the strangest experience with our two young men. I was candling the eggs and first Jed came in and stopped short staring at me and looking sad but also happy. Then Heyes came in and turned very pale before hurrying past us and out the door. Jed said that his mother had taught them about candling and that Heyes doesn’t like to talk about Jed’s family. I wonder what happened to them.”

Nate Rembacker spoke up. “Yes I’ve often wondered what their story is. But there are many terrible things that have happened out there, and it’s not so long after the war. Many were displaced by that. Who knows? If it upsets them so, we mustn’t pry.”

His wife, Esther, mused, “I’ve noticed that Heyes won’t look at little Bridget here.” They all paused to look at her two-month old daughter sleeping peacefully in the cradle by them - - the symbol of hope and renewal for the four of them after a hard year. “Even Jed seems to avoid saying her name. I wonder...”

The four sat quietly for a while, each lost in his or her own thoughts.

“Well, I’ve noticed that Heyes and Jed are getting resty as spring comes. There’s a look in their eyes – wanderlust is setting in. I suspect they’ll be leaving soon. Maybe I’ll send them out to check and mend fences in the far fields; that might shake out some of their fidgets and slow their departure.”

“Oh, I hate to think of them leaving and going out on their own, they’re so young!” Ruth exclaimed.

“They are not that young and they are old for their years,” Nate replied. “Those boys have done some serious growing and we won’t be able to convince them to stay.” The other three nodded acceptance of this reality.

#####

Four nights later, Heyes and Curry sat around the campfire they had built. They were tired; they had been working hard mending the fences and were just about done. One more day and they would return to the Hotchkiss/Rembacker homestead.

Heyes finished his coffee and lay back his hands behind his head. “I love this time of day, the light, how everything turns golden as the sun sets. I read somewhere it’s called the gloaming. That seems like a good word for it.”

The Kid, looked over at his friend, opened his mouth to speak, then closed it, hesitated, then opened it again, “Heyes what is really botherin' you? You haven’t been the same since we saw Mrs. Hotchkiss candlin' those eggs. “

“Nothing’s bothering me Kid. How many calves do you think there will be this spring?”

“Don’t change the subject. I think I know; you said “Aunt Grace,” when you saw Mrs. Hotchkiss, and I saw Ma too then.”

“Ah, Kid, we’ve been over this. It does no good to think about them, just makes us remember all we lost that day.”

“Heyes, I don’t know if that’s right. Sometimes when you’re asleep, I remember Ma and Pa and my brothers and sister, and your folks, and Grandpa and it makes them seem closer somehow -- like they’re still here somewhere.”

Heyes sighed and sat up. He wouldn’t look at the Kid, but sat there picking up pebbles and flinging them away. “Don’t.” He said harshly, then was silent.

The Kid just sat there looking at Heyes.

“Jed, Kid, all that is gone. I can’t think of them without seeing them that day, the blood, my mother…” He trailed off. He took a deep breath and resumed, “I couldn’t believe it when they named Mrs. Rembacker’s little girl Bridget. That should have been my sister, Jed!” He cried, anguished.

The Kid remembered how excited his aunt and uncle had been when they had realized that his aunt was expecting. They had picked out the names for a boy or a girl – James if it was a boy and Bridget if it was a girl. Heyes had been excited and scared about not being an only child anymore. But being in the family way hadn’t stopped the raiders; they had still killed her. He looked at his friend now and saw the effort it was taking him to avoid crying or screaming, or reacting in any way to the memories of that day.

He stood up as the last rays of the sun disappeared and put more wood on the fire. “Okay, Heyes. I have to say, fixin’ fences is no fun. I don’t want to be a rancher I don’t think, after all; it’s too hard on the back. What should we do?”

“Well, I don’t rightly know.” Heyes answered, grateful for the change in subject. “But it’s getting warmer and the days are getting longer. Maybe it’s time we were making our way so we can make our fortunes.”

“Yeah, maybe it is.” The Kid agreed. “Let’s head towards Colorado and see what we can find. Maybe we could be scouts or buffalo hunters.”

“Sounds good. I bet we’ll be rich in no time; after all we’re older now and better able to take care of ourselves.”

“We are indeed. I bet we will be rich in just a few months, Heyes,” the Kid laughed.

#####

Two weeks later, the boys left the ranch. They were not the scruffy, ragged boys who had first come in November. Mrs. Hotchkiss and Mrs. Rembacker had made them each two shirts and had fitted them with two pairs of their husband’s pants, with deep cuffs so they could keep growing into them. Mr. Hotchkiss had given them each a new pair of boots and Mr. Rembacker had provided them with a good supply of bullets for the guns they still carried. Finally, all four had given them two horses and saddles to see them on their way.

Nate, John, Ruth, Esther and the children watched until the horses were out of sight.

“Oh, John, what will become of them?” Ruth asked her husband.

“Those two are resourceful and they’re survivors Ruth. I think they’ll do just fine and I don’t think we could keep them here after that day they saw you candling.”

“I’m so sorry.”

It was Esther who turned to her sister. “You’re not responsible. Those boys would have left at some point. We’re not their family and they wouldn’t let anyone replace their family. I think that the closer we got, the more likely it was they would leave.”

“I suppose you’re right Esther.”

“I usually am,” she grinned. All four laughed and went back to their lives.

Down the road, Heyes and the Kid rode along bickering in a friendly manner about where they would go and what they would do. The road stretched before them and they took it eagerly in the warm spring sunshine, cares forgotten for a while, in the excitement of the new adventures awaiting them.

Author’s note: Candling involves holding an egg up to a strong light (originally candles) to determine what is happening inside the egg. From the image that shines through the shell, you can tell whether the embryo is developing properly or whether there is no embryo. I remember when I was very young, my great grandmother teaching the great grandchildren to candle eggs. Of course she was only doing it to entertain us; the eggs came from the grocery store and so were not fertilized, but the memory has stuck with me, and when I saw the prompt it was that image that came to mind.









(Message edited by Riders57 On 04/11/2012 8:35 AM) Date Posted:04/07/2012 11:02 AM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:22 am

From #9InsideOutlaw


My partner is a peaceable man for the most part. This won’t come as much of a surprise to folks as I am the one with the reputation of violence due to my natural born talent with a gun.

The gang, however, has a slightly different viewpoint than most folks. Heyes rarely loses his temper with them; almost never raises his voice neither but, somehow, they are all terrified of him. Even Wheat who will egg on Heyes further than anyone at the Hole ‘sides me. Wheat hides it well, but he’s scared of Heyes. He makes sure he never crosses the line completely. He always knows just when to stop.


I know I can straighten the boys out with a move to my sidearm, but Heyes can freeze them in their tracks with nothing more than the “look”. They fall all over themselves getting out of his way after being on the receiving end of that look. I reckon even I can sometimes feel that way when it’s leveled at me, though I’d never let Heyes see it. ‘Course, I’ve been there when that look was followed up with some pretty rough action. Heyes does have a tipping point and when he passes it, all hell breaks loose.


Another thing, most people don’t know is that my partner is a real animal lover. Growing up on a farm like we did; there were animals everywhere. Myself, I pretty much viewed them as walking chores. I hated feeding the chickens and fetching the eggs. Those birds sure were ugly tempered to a small boy.


Heyes was always playing with the animals. Stealing rides on the plow horses, chasing the pigs; even trying to teach the chickens to fly. Might be ‘cause he was an only child. I guess I was too busy trying to make my place in the world as one of six kids to have much time for frivolous things such as fooling with the livestock; though I’ve always treated my animals well.


Heyes had himself a dog for a while as a kid. A big, goofy, black dog that followed him like the sun rose and set on his shoulders. Heyes liked that real well. I think he wanted the same from me, but I wasn’t willing. That dog couldn’t take his eyes off Heyes. I remember him showing up at my house one day with the dog. Heyes called him Wellington after some famous English guy. Said Wellie just showed up as he was walking across our cornfield. After that, you never saw Heyes without Wellington. That is until the day our folks died. Heyes never said, but I reckon Wellie died right along with them ‘cause Heyes had tied him up when we ditched our chores to go fishing. He didn’t want ol’ Wellie giving us away. I tried to ask what had happened to him soon after, you know; but Heyes wouldn’t say. Wouldn’t even look at me when I asked, just walked away, and I knew better than to ever ask again.


We had mice at Devil’s Hole. They got everywhere and into everything they could. One day, Heyes took off for town by himself to get supplies. Said he had something special he needed and didn’t want help. He showed up the next day with a litter of four male kittens. No women were allowed in the Hole, after all. They were orange and white tabbies like the ones he’d had as a kid. The boys were all pretty excited. Not only did they see an end to the mouse situation but they liked the kittens, too. Guess it made us all feel a bit like kids again. Heyes said he’d named them Lucifer, Beelzebub, Scratch, and Satan since they were going to be residents of Devil’s Hole.


Those cats grew up spoiled. We all enjoyed the heck out of having them around and there wasn’t a one of us at one time or another who didn’t have ourselves a favorite, but we all knew Lucifer was Heyes’s. They just had a natural affinity for each other. Heyes let him sleep on his bed and have the run of the leader’s cabin. I wasn’t too happy about that as I was raised that all animals belonged outside, but I couldn’t argue it with him as that cat made him too damn happy. I saw him come in the cabin at times and look around for Lucifer just to be sure he was there. Many times, I’d wake up in the dead of night and I’d find Heyes sitting in his chair by the fire with that cat on his lap, talking over the next job with him. The boys and I all knew Heyes loved that cat, though he’d die before he admitted to loving anything on God’s green earth.


The day Walt Oakley and his brothers, Carl and Sam, rode in I knew they were trouble. They all looked trail worn and hungry; and their horses looked worse. They said they’d been chased by a posse for the past week and came into the Hole seeking shelter for a spell until things died down. Heyes and I exchanged a glance. We both wanted to send them on their way, but we both knew we couldn’t.

Heyes called Kyle and Lobo over to take the Oakley’s horses and he told Walt and his brothers they could bed down in the barn. They weren’t too happy about that. Thought they ought to be welcomed in the bunkhouse with open arms. I knew Heyes was pissed about the beaten, starved look to their horses and there was no way he’d give them better.


Anyways, later that same night, sometime after we’d all settled in; we heard a horrible yowling coming from the direction of the barn. Heyes had been sitting at the table in our cabin working on some plans. He was on his feet and out the door before I knew it. I scrambled to catch up with him, but had to drag my boots on while trying to keep up. The boys spilled out of the bunkhouse at the same time we rounded the corner of the barn.


There, pinned to the wall by a knife through his tail, was Lucifer screaming and howling. The Oakley boys were sitting in front of a stall, laughing and falling across each other in glee. Carl Oakley had his knife sheath out and we could all see it was empty.


Heyes freed Lucifer, who was clawing and crying something fierce, but Heyes held onto him tight until he could pass him off to Preacher; asking him to doctor Lucie up. What happened next, happened fast. In one move, Heyes crossed the aisle, seized Carl by his shirt front and proceeded to beat the living daylights out of him. The rest of us, who had them, held our guns real steady on his brothers so as to be sure there’d be no interruptions. The fight didn’t last long, but it was brutal. I don’t think Carl had a tooth left in his head or a rib unbroken by the time Heyes was finished. When Carl finally lost consciousness, we were all relieved. Heyes dropped him to the ground like a discarded rag doll, and you could tell he was looking around to see who was to be next. The boys were stunned. They always knew Heyes could be dangerous, but hadn’t ever seen firsthand what happened when he lost control. I had.


Times like this, the rage in Heyes makes itself known. It didn’t matter that Carl was 40 pounds heavier and 3 inches taller than Heyes. There ain’t no way for a man to defeat that kind of anger.


We all stood there for a moment afraid to move or breathe. Then Heyes hauled Carl up and shoved him at his brothers telling them to clear out right then and there. Turning, Heyes stalked out of the barn leaving the rest of us to make sure the Oakleys got on their way.


Lucifer lost part of his tail that night and it spooked him bad. Preacher fixed him up as best he could, but Lucie was never quite the same after that. It took Heyes a few days to return to himself, too. We all gave him lots of room until he did.


None of the boys ever talk about that night but, of course, Lucifer was a constant reminder of what happened when you crossed Heyes bad enough. I know my partner, and I know he was ashamed of losing his temper like that, but I was proud of what he’d done. The boys and me know that Heyes takes care of his own and, all of us, even the critters were his own.




(Message edited by InsideOutlaw On 04/07/2012 4:14 PM) Date Posted:04/07/2012 2:30 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:23 am

From: #10Remuda


Saddle Talk: Eggs
(or, Puttin' It All in Perspective)


“Why so quiet, Kid?”

“I don’t know.”

“I mean, not that you’re usually real talkative…”

“Um hmm.”

“Not like me, anyway.”

“Uh huh.”

“Ah, Kid, you’re smiling. You know me too well.”

“Takes one to know one, huh, Heyes?”

“Ah. A whole sentence!”

“Happens sometimes.”

“Ha! When I least expect it.”

“Smart Aleck.”

“Me? Nah. But, even if you don’t want to talk, at least you’re a good listener.”

“Suppose.”

“Now, what do ya want to talk about?”

“Nothin’.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure, Heyes.”

“There’s gotta be something that’ll stir your interest.”

“Is there?”

“There’s gotta be.”

“Why?”

“Well…hmm…Good question, Kid!”

“Is it?”

“Yup.”

“Why?”

“Well, let’s see…Geez, Kid, they say it’s not good to hold everything in. Best to talk about things sometimes.”

“What am I holdin’ in?”

“Must be something you want to say that you’re not saying.”

“Nope. There’s nothin’ on my mind right now.”

“Nothing on your mind? Geez, Kid, you’re smarter than that!”

“Maybe I just wanna take in the scenery.”

“It is pretty around here. Ya know, Kid, I hadn’t really noticed until now.”

“Then, enjoy it.”

“I will.”

“Good.”

“Kid?”

“Yeah?”

“That hill over there. Does it look familiar to ya?”

“Maybe.”

“What does it remind you of?”

“I don’t know, Heyes. What does it remind you of?”

“I asked the question first.”

“But you brought it up first.”

“So I did. Well, Kid, back when we were kids, that hill behind Old Man Thompkin’s place – the one we used to sled down in the winter. It had that one open path down in between all the trees. That one there has that one clear path down, too, to the right of the outcrop. It kinda looks like it, doesn’t it?”

“Hmm…I don’t know, Heyes. Maybe. I’m more used to seein’ it in winter, when it’s snow-covered. Never really noticed it any other time of year.”

“Well, that’s what it reminds me of. Kinda like home…”

“Gettin’ homesick, Heyes?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes I think back…What mighta been…”

“Yeah, me too.”

Not too often, though.”

“Nope.”

“Kid, ya remember that time when Old Man Thompkins was drinking too much and came out with his shotgun looking to shoot all us kids?”

“Yeah. And he almost did, too.”

“Good thing Sally Martin was able to talk him out of it.”

“Yeah. Heyes, I felt sorry for her and all, havin’ a drunk for a pa.”

“No. She didn't deserve that.”

“Now who’s gettin’ all thoughtful, Heyes?”

“Kid, I’m not getting ‘thoughtful!’”

“Then, what would you call it?”

“Just remembering, is all.”

“I know why you remember that – you were sweet on Sally.”

“No, I wasn’t!”

“Sure ya were.”

“Kid, you seem to be having a good time with this.”

“You brought it up.”

“I know. Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

“Why not? Just talkin’. No harm done.”

“I know that. I mean…well…”

“Ha! That’s funny, Heyes! Even now you’re gettin’ all tongue-tied just talkin’ ‘bout Sally!”

“Tongue-tied!? Me!?”

“Yup!”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are, Heyes, just like ya used to. Even that silver tongue of yours can trip ya up sometimes!”

“Kid, I am NOT tripped up.”

“No? You’re gettin’ all flustered. It’s okay, Heyes, it’s just me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, Kid?”

“Oh, a little egg on your face ain't gonna hurt. Not with me.”

“I don’t have any egg on my face. I never do.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, ‘you’ do sometimes, Kid.”

“I know. Sometimes I put my foot in my mouth. Just have to laugh it off.”

“What if it’s not funny?”

“Oh, Heyes – it’s never that serious.”

“Isn’t it? It can be sometimes.”

“Well…Maybe sometimes. Especially when it involves you and Sally Martin…”

“That was a long time ago, Kid.”

“Um hmm. Heyes, do ya ever wonder what she’s doin’ now, where she is?”

“Nah. That’s in the past.”

“But if you ever saw her again?”

“Kid, that’s not gonna happen. Besides, she wouldn’t want anything to do with me. Probably run the other way.”

“Probably. But we’re not likely to run into her, either, or many other folks from those days.”

“Damn straight, Kid.”

“So, what would ya do, Heyes?”

“Same thing we’ve had to do all along with anybody we started to get close to – just say, ‘goodbye.’”

“Yeah. It’s not always easy. Or what we want to do, huh?”

“Nope. Kid, do ya ever think of Michele?”

“Sometimes.”

“We should get to New Orleans sometime.”

“It’s a big city, Heyes. Chances are we wouldn’t run into her.”

“Maybe. The odds up front aren’t good, you’re right there. But the poker player in me has that feeling.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You know, Kid, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“Maybe. But not sure that the will is willin.’”

“Why not?”

“Heyes, just like if you ran into Sally Martin now, and if she wasn’t married, and if she was still pretty, and if she didn’t run away from ya because of bein’ wanted and all…”

“That’s a lot of ‘ifs,’ Kid.”

“Yeah, well life is one big ‘if,’ isn’t it?”

“How do ya mean?”

“Heyes, look at it this way, ‘if’ the governor keeps his word, and ‘if’ we get the amnesty, and ‘if’ we’re still alive after all those posses and the bounty…’If’ all that works out, we just MIGHT wind up bein’ free men.”

“Gosh, Kid, I’m not sure I like all those ‘ifs,’ when ya put it that way, I mean.”

“That’s the life we’re livin’, Heyes.”

“There’s the philosopher coming out in you again.”

“No philosopher, Heyes. Just tryin’ to see it for what it is.”

“And what’s that?”

“Droppin’ everything and goin’ for the amnesty is kinda like puttin’ all our eggs in one basket, ain’t it? Rollin’ the dice that one last time for the big one, and hopin’ for the best, all in one shot.”

“But, we’re giving it our best shot.”

“Yeah, we are. But, it’s not easy.”

“Ah, Kid, the best things in life are never easy.”

“Outlawin’ seemed easy…”

“But don’t lose sight of why we’re going for it. Things getting harder and all.”

“I know, Heyes. Gosh, why’d ya get me talkin’? Now I’m in a bad mood. Wasn’t before all this jabberin’.”

“So, you’re blaming it on me?!”

“No, Heyes – I’m blamin’ it on the man in the moon! Sheesh, you’re the only one here besides me.”

“Okay, Kid, blame it on me if you want. That's okay. Or, better yet, we can blame it on Sally Martin.”

“Why would ya blame her? ‘Cause you were sweet on her?”

“For the last time, Kid – I wasn’t sweet on her.”

“Okay, Heyes. Have it your way.”

“I will. But ya gotta admit, she was a good egg.”

“Uh huh. Tell me somethin’ I don’t know, Heyes. You liked her.”

“Well, maybe…”

“Uh huh.”




(Message edited by Remuda On 04/07/2012 11:23 PM) [FONT family=Arial color=brown size=12px]Fast is good. But accuracy is everything. -- Wyatt Earp[/FONT]
Date Posted:04/07/2012 9:31 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:25 am

From #11InsideOutlaw



This is a followup to my previous story. RosieAnnie suggested that I might look at it from other viewpoints.

RosieAnnie, this one's for you. Thanks for the inspiration!


Sure, I rode with the Devil’s Hole gang for a spell. It wasn’t a good fit for me, though.

I remember meeting them hoo-rahing it up in Blackhawk one summer. Like everyone else in the west, I knew who Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes were. Weren’t many living outlaw legends at that time, and I was pleased to meet them while they were still breathing. I’d been down on my luck and was drifting from town to town looking for work. Fortunately, I could play a fair game of poker and that’s what kept me from starving.

Just so happened that Heyes sat down to a game I was in. He was a real polite sort and introduced himself nicely to the rest of us. We were all surprised to hear his name, though it seemed to me like a wanted man ought to be a bit more circumspect. That was before I noticed Curry at the bar. He was looking us all over real careful-like making damn sure we knew who he was and why he was there. It still makes me shiver to think of him eying me that way.

Anyways, Heyes was friendly enough. He had this big, infectious smile that just drew you in. I found to my surprise that I liked him real well. He was an honest player which was something I didn’t expect from a man who made a living from stealing. We were both having luck with the cards that night and had each built up a nice pile of chips. As their money dwindled, the other players dropped out one by one until it was just the two of us left. I guess I got a bit cocky about holding my own with Hannibal Heyes. It was well known that he was one of the best players the game had seen and I was doing pretty good that night. I challenged him all in and shoved my chips to the center of the table. He grinned at me and asked me if I was sure. I hesitated for a moment. That pile of cash could’ve seen me through the next few months in style, but then I realized we had drawn a crowd. I couldn’t back down. I wouldn’t. I was sure I had the winning hand and I wasn’t going to be bluffed out of it.

He beat me good with a royal flush. I just about died when he reached out to rake in the chips. I guess I’d let my poker face drop with the shock of losing my nest egg. He looked hard at me and softly asked if he’d cleaned me out. My Ma always said I was too proud for my own good and I told him no, he hadn’t. He saw the lie, though, and offered to stand me to a beer. I agreed and we stepped over to the bar to join his partner.

Now my first impression of Curry had been a scary one, but after a while I realized he was a real nice fellow, too. You’d never guess they were outlaws and famous ones to boot. Funny, I can’t remember at all what we talked about, but I know we had a fine time. By the end of the evening, Heyes was a bit tipsy. Curry hadn’t touched much alcohol, him being at work and all. I was feeling no pain myself when Heyes put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Cal Brunton, I like you. How about you join up with us for a while? The Hole is a good place to spend the winter. What do you say?”

Hell, I should’ve said no but the thing about Heyes is you just always want to tell him yes no matter what hare-brained scheme he was talking you into. I knew a bit about the Devil’s Hole gang and I knew they didn’t hold with violence and that was important to me. I’d been on the wrong side of the law a time or two but I never hurt nobody. So I agreed to ride back with them.

That how I came to join the Devil’s Hole gang. How I left it is a longer story.

I’d been with the gang for the winter and had fit in pretty well. I got along with the boys well, and got to be good friends with a couple of them, too. We’d done well with a few jobs and I was feeling lucky to have joined such a successful gang. But, by that spring, I was beginning to notice a few things.


Heyes really is a genius. No one soaks up knowledge like he does. He hears or reads something once and he knows it forever; and he loves figuring stuff out, too. Not just robberies, but real stuff. He has this pocket watch. It’s an old dented up thing but it must have some sentimental value because he keeps it with him always. One train job, Kyle went a bit overboard on the dynamite. The debris blew sky high and Heyes got hit pretty hard by a branch knocked off a nearby tree. Caught him right across his belly and knocked the wind out of him. Kid got to him quick and helped him up. We could all see he was okay so we hung back knowing that the Kid would be pissed at the mishap.


Well, Heyes reached into his pocket to check how much time was left before the posse arrived. He was forever timing stuff. Had to have it all planned out to the minute and every man better know his part. Anyways, he looked at that watch, held it to his ear, shook it a bit and then let loose with the bluest language I’d ever heard. That night, the light stayed on in the leader’s cabin and the next day Heyes had that watch up and running just fine.

Now Kid’s a different story, but Kid’s his own sort of genius, too. He has a way with people that’s just plain amazing. He’s not at all like you’d think he’d be. I’d expected a famous gunnie like him would be a cold man, but when you talk to him, he really listens. He makes you feel like he honestly cares about you. He gives good advice, too. He hears what you’re saying and also what you’re not saying. While Heyes can fix darn near anything, I do believe that Kid could fix darn near anyone. I also believe he has spent most of his life trying to fix Heyes.



Heyes doesn’t bond well with people. Oh, not with the Kid. Those two are as thick as, well, thieves. They’ve been together their whole lives from what I hear and it shows. But with other folk, Heyes is kinda reserved. It’s like he wants to keep them at a safe distance. It’s that way sometimes with smart folk. He ain’t quite the same as you and me and he knows it. He does have a healthy ego, but it’s something else. Sure he’s real friendly, but you just know something’s off. All of us knew it, but we didn’t know why. I guess it was instinct. Kind of the way an animal can smell trouble. It kept us all just a little on edge around Heyes. It wasn’t anything he did, we just sensed there was something real dark under all those smiles and grins.


The animals didn’t sense it, though. Heyes has a way with animals that you don’t often see. He can make a horse do anything. I never saw a rider like him before or since. There isn’t a horse he can’t sit. There were times it was hard for the rest of us to keep up with him when a posse’d be chasing us.


Heyes isn’t just a good rider, he's a genuine horseman. Many a night, we’d arrive back at the Hole bone tired after a long ride and Heyes would make sure each and every horse was rubbed down, fed and watered before any of us were. He said it was our jobs to do for our horses as they took care of us. It was smart, too. Those animals meant the difference between prison and freedom. He didn’t hold with any rough treatment of the horses and made sure we all knew it. A lot of us were farm boys and didn’t think much one way or another about animals beyond whether they were good for eating or good for riding. We knew what was good for us, though, and that was to treat our mounts kindly when Heyes was around.

Heyes had a cat, too. A big orange and white tomcat named Lucifer. There were a bunch of cats at the Hole, but this one had singled Heyes out as the only human worthy of his attention. It had the run of the leader’s cabin and lorded it over all of us; even the Kid. Heyes was a strong leader. He had to be running an outlaw gang. Any sign of weakness on his part and he’d be finished. He had a weakness for that cat, though. I saw him several times through the window of the leader’s cabin, sitting by the fire, stroking that cat and talking up a storm to it. I never said anything to the boys. I figured the man had a right to take comfort where he could.

It was the night the Oakleys brothers rode into Devil’s Hole that I decided to leave.

They were a rough bunch and you could see straight off that they were cruel. Their horses were in sad shape and I saw Heyes looking them over with a hard set to his jaw. I was hoping he’d turn them away and was a bit surprised when he didn’t, but hospitality is expected out here and it’s no different with outlaws than it is with the ordinary folk. Instead, he made them bed down in the barn. We all had us a good snicker over that.


That night, we had a card game going in the bunkhouse when we heard this awful ruckus out by the barn. The boys and I hurried out to see what was up just in time to see Kid and Heyes arrive at the barn. One of them Oakley boys, Carl, had pinned Heyes’s cat to the wall with his pigsticker.


Carl Oakley was a big man and when Heyes went for him we all thought Heyes wasn’t thinking it through. Heyes wasn’t thinking at all, he was way beyond thinking. I never saw anything like it. Heyes was all fists and knuckles. Oakley didn’t have a chance. Heyes ain’t a big man, but he’s real wiry and fast. He was always joking with Kid about being as fast as a whipsnake, but I’ll can tell you he’s way faster than that. It got downright ugly and I hated watching it. Finally, it was over and Heyes stood over Carl panting hard with a crazed look in his eye as he looked around. Nobody moved for a long time. We were afraid to. It was like being in a room with a rabid dog. You just didn’t want to do anything to draw attention to yourself.

Even Kid was watching him closely. Finally, he caught Heyes’s eye and Heyes lost that wild look. Heyes picked up Carl by his shirt front and told him and his brothers to clear out. Then he left us all standing there with our mouths open and stomped his way back to the cabin. We ran the Oakleys out of the Hole that night and we were glad to do it.

We didn’t see Heyes for the next few days, but the Kid made a point of stopping in and talking to us. He didn’t say much, but he told us that Heyes couldn’t abide cruelty. Said they’d seen too much as kids to ever tolerate it. It was the most either of them ever said about their past life and it left us all wondering.

All of us were shaken up by Heyes’s assault on Carl. Not that Oakley didn’t deserve it, he did. It was seeing Heyes like that. We talked long into that night about what we had seen. It was like for just one moment, Heyes was an animal himself. You’ve got to understand; normally he’s one of the most controlled, civilized men you’re likely to meet. He’s ruled by his brain, not his heart. But that night, it was as if his brain shut down and his heart became a savage place. The rest of the boys laughed it off. Some of them were proud of Heyes’s performance, but not me.


I learned a few things that night. I’d known that Kid had the capacity for violence. Hell, he’s a gunman isn’t he? But I had also seen how he held it back and only used the violence when all else failed. I’d seen that as heroic. To me, he was a good man in a rough life. I could live with that.

Heyes, though, he shook me up bad that night. He was basically a good man, too, but I saw then that he was holding onto an ugly, corrosive anger that ate at him. That darkness in him we all sensed held a rage born from pure evil. Heyes had kept it boxed up real well, but now that I knew it was there it changed things for me. I had admired him so much; now I feared him more than a little. That-- I couldn’t live with.

I guess it had been stupid of me to think the Devil’s Hole gang was something special. I’d thought of us as high-spirited boys having a good old time. I wasn’t too smart in those days. Sure, we never shot anyone, but we stole what wasn’t ours and took pleasure in it. I started wondering about how many people we’d hurt in other ways besides the physical, and the answer stuck in my craw.

The next morning, I told Kid I was moving on. He nodded like he wasn’t surprised and wished me well. I never did see Heyes again. I didn’t think I wanted to. I rode out that afternoon and it was the last I ever saw of the two of them. I’d heard a few years later that they’d gotten an amnesty. It was nice to hear and I hoped that it gave Heyes some peace to get out of that life.

I’ve thought of that night many times and I realized you can’t really know a man like Heyes. He’ll only let you see what you wanted to see, the rest he keeps to himself. I guess nobody gets to be the leader of the most successful bunch of outlaws the West has ever seen without being a dangerous man.

Funny how everyone, me included, saw Heyes as the smart guy who needed a gunhawk to do his dirty work. While Kid watches Heyes’s back, he’s also watching Heyes. It’s him that keeps Heyes human. Without Kid, we’d all be in a whole mess of trouble.




(Message edited by InsideOutlaw On 04/11/2012 9:51 PM) Date Posted:04/11/2012 9:27 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 am

From #12Hunkeydorey


This is a continuation of last month's story


Jessica’s breath shuddered to a stop at the sudden immersion in the chilled, gushing water. Her sodden dress dragged her down, keeping her head just below the surface despite her exhausting struggles. The current whipped her around, thrashing her forcibly against harsh, hard rocks; giving her a chance to catch another fortifying lungful by clutching her way up the ragged surface, before the current ripped her violently away. Her empty lungs, alight with the need for oxygen, began to betray her and her chest muscles started to spasm. She was just about ready to explode under the pressure of the suffocating pain in her chest when she felt her hand grabbed and she was dragged behind a huge boulder. A gasping Kid held her up as she gulped in huge mouthfuls of desperately needed air.

“Hang on to me!” he bellowed, barely able to make himself heard over the reverberating rumble of the falls. Moving out from behind the boulder, the rapids carried them off before he managed to grab at another rock; this continued for what felt like a lifetime, gradually working his way across the breadth of the river, until they reached calmer, more sheltered waters.

She eventually dropped to her knees, crawling though the shallows before falling on the bank, panting like a grounded fish. Her emotions surged to the fore, mingling with the river water which had swirled down her panicking gullet. Jessica hauled herself onto all fours and vomited violently, her back arching with every racking heave. Her eyes flicked over to Kid, hunched a few feet away. His soaked hair was plastered to his head and the almost transparent blue shirt was clinging to the ebb and flow of his wet flesh as his breath came in great gulps. She parted the curtain of tangled hair from her eyes and glared at him. “You b*stard! You could have killed me!”

His eyes hardened. “Right back at ya, Jess.”

“You threw me off a cliff!”

“You sold me out and they were goin’ to shoot you too, just to get me the easy way. I just saved your life; twice if you count haulin’ your butt out of that river.”

She climbed unsteadily to her feet, stumbling on her sodden dress as it stuck to her legs. “It was only in danger because of you!”

Kid stood, scanning the cliff tops carefully. “You pulled a gun on a man who could outmatch you in every way. You got off real light, Lady.”

“Don’t turn your back on me,” she tugged at his arm. “I’m not finished yet.”

“You’re well and truly finished,” he glowered at her, “come on, we’ve gotta get out of here before they come lookin’ us.”

“I’m not stopping you. Go.”

Kid rolled his eyes. “Listen, Lady. Those men ain’t gonna be too keen on you tellin’ everyone that they were quite happy to shoot you for easy money, it might raise questions about some of their other cases.” He stretched out an arm and took her left hand, pulling her along with her. “See some sense and get movin’.” Her right hand flashed out towards his face, but he caught it deftly; so quickly that she never even saw his arm move. He fixed her with an icy glare. “I ain’t puttin’ up with any more from you. Got that?”

She paused, before she gave a curt nod. “You’re right. We’ve got to go.”

*****

Kid leaned over the edge and looked down on the lawmen mustering at the bottom of the waterfall. “Jess, you said it came down to a straight choice between me and your mother. I met her... and I liked her. What did you mean?”

“You met her?”

“She came looking for you after you’d gone. She punched the guard in the stomach when he pulled a gun on her.”

Jess gave a watery smile. “She has an Italian temper.”

Kid nodded. “Half Irish, half Italian; there’s a real sweet temper in that mix. What’s happened to her?”

He watched her swallow heavily. “My father. He hasn’t been able to find us for years, but he’s back and he wants money. Lots of money.”

Kid’s blood chilled. Quinn was a man who enjoyed inflicting pain, and if sex was added to the mix, there was no saying what he could be doing to his ex-wife. “Why didn’t you just tell me that?” he groaned.

Her brow crinkled suspiciously. “When do men like you look after anyone but themselves?”

“Jessica,” he used her full name, adding emphasis to the carefully adopted, gentle tone. “There’s a big difference between a thief and a sadist.”

Jessica stared defiantly into his eyes. “Yeah? One hurts deliberately, the other doesn’t care.”

“How could we split up a family? The Devil’s Hole Gang couldn’t bring you up,” Kid arched his eyebrows, “and I do care.”

“You just threw me off a cliff!”

“To stop you from being shot,” he smiled beguilingly. “Give me your foot. I’ll help you mount up.”

She slid her foot into his palm and hoisted herself onto the back of her little mare. “Maybe I’ve misjudged you,” she moved her mount slightly closer before leaning down with an engaging smile. Kid smiled slightly in surprise before he raised his face towards her generous mouth.

“YAH!!!” she screamed, kicking her horse into action. Her mare struck him a glancing blow, making him stagger heavily backwards while the leather rein slipped from his grasp. “YAH!!” she slapped his horse on the rump, causing it to squeal in protest and take off with a start.

“You little...” he sucked in a breath, watching his horse gallop haphazardly after its new equine acquaintance. “If I ever get hold of you, I’ll wring your scrawny neck!”

*****

Kid lurked in the shadow of the alley, doing his best to conceal himself while a local lad delivered a note to Heyes. Every instinct told him to avoid town, but he had to warn his partner and get him out of here. It had been easier to find the ex-outlaw leader than it had been to find his horse, so it wasn’t long before Heyes appeared; looking harried and hunted on the sidewalk.

“Joshua!” hissed Kid, before Heyes slipped off the sidewalk and hurried towards him. “We gotta get outta here. Someone just tried to turn me in.”

Heyes looked his bedraggled partner up and down. “Into what? A horse trough?”

“I’ll tell you later, come on.”

They slunk off, pausing at the commotion coming from directly across the street.

“Patrick McCafferty, you tried to shoot me!” They watched the lawman pause in the middle of the road, pinned verbally by the angry, red-haired woman who appeared at the door of a restaurant, balancing a large mixing bowl on her hip. “Well? What have you got to say for yourself?”

The sheriff dropped his head in embarrassment. “You got it wrong, Jess. We wouldn’t have fired.”

“Liar! I tried to help you catch Kid Curry and you were prepared to shoot me so you could claim the reward yourself. Just you wait until the elections. I’ll ruin you.”

“She’s the one who tried to turn you in, Kid?” chortled Heyes. “You’re losing it.”

“She’s Jess Quinn’s daughter. She can handle a gun as well as you can.”

“Jess Quinn? But...”

Kid nodded. “Yup, remember that boy he used to drag around like a wounded hound? Well he grew up, and out, in all the most unexpected ways. We gotta go.”

“That was a girl?” muttered Heyes. “No!”

The hubbub continued. “Get off the street. You’re causin’ trouble, Jess.

“Me? Trouble! I tried to help you capture a wanted man and you were prepared to kill me for easy money. Did you think I’d let you away with that?” Jessica was in full flow, playing to the rapidly gathering crowd. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, eh?” She pulled an egg out of her bowl and drew back her arm. “Those were your very words. Who knew they’d come back to haunt you?”

McCafferty took a step back. “Don’t be stupid. Put that down or you’ll end up in the cells.”

“Do you think that’ll shut me up? I try to help the law and I find that they’re every bit as dangerous as the criminals? You don’t scare me, McCafferty. I’ll go to the newspapers.” She launched her missile, narrowly missing her victim because he danced backwards at the last second, only to find himself on the receiving end of another splattered projectile. He threw down his hat in frustration as the onlookers started to laugh, yolk dripping from the end of his pointed nose.

“Dammit, Jess! That’s enough. You throw one more of those and I’m lockin’ you up.”

There was a crack and an unctuous, gelatinous goo slid slowly down his shirt front. “In the name of... Jess, that one was off! It stinks.”

“Of course it does. You don’t think I’m going to waste good eggs on you, do you?”

Heyes turned a dimpled grin on his cousin. “She sure knows how to create a diversion, eh? If I didn’t know better I’d think she was doing it on purpose.”

*****

Jessica stirred in her sleep. It came so rarely these days but she had eventually succumbed to exhaustion, only to find it haunted by faces from her past...

Kyle’s face simmered with irritation. “Why’d you keep slappin that boy about the head? He ain’t done nuthin’.”

“Yeah, well, think what he might get for sumthin’,” Quinn cackled at his own joke, apparently heedless of the hackles rising around the card table. He lifted his glass. “We’re out. Jess! Get another bottle.”

“Yes, Pa,” the child scuttled over and dragged a bottle out of the crate in the corner.

“What kind of bilge water d’you call this!?” bellowed Quinn. “This is some kind o’ moonshine. I want whiskey! Good whiskey.”

“Sorry, Pa.”

Quinn pitched the bottle at the child, who ducked, deftly avoiding the projectile which shattered against the wall.

“Hey! There weren’t no need for that,” exclaimed Lobo.

“Yeah,” slurred Quinn. “Somebody would have drunk that. You broke it now.” He stood, lurching towards the ‘boy’ who darted away; but not quick enough to sidestep the boot which crashed into the little backside.

“What’s goin’ on here?”

Quinn turned to look into a pair of glistening, blue eyes. The young sharpshooter was lean, with a gaze that could cut through glass, but the burly Irishman had at least four inches and fifty pounds on him and felt comfortable enough to push the whippersnapper. “Family business. Keep your nose out.”

“You could’ve have brained that boy, Quinn!”

Quinn shrugged. “He ain’t got no brains. He’s like his ma.”

Kid scowled and strode over to the table, sitting down and tapping his long fingers on the wood. “Who’s dealin’?”

“Lobo,” muttered Kyle. “I’m out. I don’t like the way things smell in here.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed, picking up on the dissent working its way around the room. Quinn was as popular as leprosy.

“You’d better not be talkin’ about me!” snarled Quinn.

“Just what you gonna do if he was?” barked Wheat. “You want to take on someone your own size for a change, instead of that poor kid?”

“Poor kid? Ungrateful little runt, more like. Eats me out of house and home.”

The child worked around the edges of the room, towards the door, beyond the reach of a kick or a slap.

“You ain’t got neither,” snapped Kid, “and he’s as weedy as a grass-fed fox. He don’t eat half enough.” He flicked up an enquiring eyebrow. “Have you eaten tonight, Boy?”

Jess darted a look at her bear of a father, clearly too afraid to answer, and backed further into a corner. Kid’s mouth firmed into a line. “I’ll take that as a ‘no.’ What’s wrong with you? You ain’t payin’ for it.”

“There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with me that more whiskey can’t fix. Jess, get it! Now!”

“The boy’s gonna eat. Get your own damned drink.” Kid stood and stretched out beckoning fingers. “Come with me, Lad.”

Quinn stood, knocking over the table, scattering cards, chips and glasses everywhere. He blundered over to his cowering offspring, seizing hold of a stick-thin upper arm. “He ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

Kid’s face suddenly relaxed, the anger changing into something useful; but the cold, hard, calculating mask which replaced it was far more chilling. Somewhere, someone sucked in a breath. “And I said, he’s comin’ with me,” Kid’s voice was low and even, “and the likes of you ain’t gonna stop me.”

Little Jess started to cry; her panic and misery bubbling up until her wasted ribcage could contain the burgeoning emotion no longer. Quinn twisted her arm and physical pain combined with her wretchedness until the very words she would never dare say in front of her father tumbled out. “I want my mom!”

Quinn exploded with fury. “What did you say?” he picked the child up and tossed her across the room. “WHAT DID YOU SAY!?”

He dashed a chair to pieces, picking up a leg and clattering the child across the back. It just connected before Kid seized it from his hand and punched the Irishman in the jaw. “You want to fight!? Come on then?” Another fist battered into the man’s stomach before Kid started laying into the man’s ribs, raining blow after blow with the chair leg before Preacher grabbed his arm. “Kid! Stop! There’s a nail stickin’ out. You’re killin’ him.”

Kid paused, his breath coming in deep, impassioned rasps. “Not yet, I ain’t. Give me time.” He glowered at the man. “You! You’re out of here. Got that?”

“What about the boy, Kid?” asked Wheat.

Kid turned. “Oh, God. He’s bleedin’. Quinn got him with the nail.” He stepped towards the child, but the sight of the angry outlaw, who had just beaten her father, pushed her over the edge. She let out a whimper and legged it out into the darkness as fast as her legs would carry her.

Jessica heard running feet behind her before an arm swept around her waist. “Hey, hey! I ain’t gonna hurt you. You’re bleedin’. Let me look at that.”

She felt long fingers rummage with her buttons. “No!” She’d heard enough talk in dives and hideouts to know that she couldn’t possibly let anyone find out she was a female. Hysteria started to spiral until it spun out of control.

“Don’t be stupid. Come here.”

All the emotions and pressures of the last few months suddenly erupted; she simply couldn’t take anymore. She threw herself at him, plunging her nails into his cheeks, kicking, biting and screaming like a banshee. She felt the outlaw stiffen with surprise before he started pushing her away and trying to disentangle her clawing fingers from his hair.

“For...,” he dropped the child at his feet and backed off. “You’re as loco as your pa. Fine! I won’t help. Go see Preacher.” Jessica scuttled backwards into the cover of the shrubbery, watching Kid Curry stride angrily off towards the leader’s cabin.

*****

“That bottom feeder sure has to go. I had my doubts about him from the start, but I couldn’t turn away a man with a child, especially when their gang helped us lie low.” Heyes scratched his chin. “Is he fit to travel? I’ve seen men who’ve upset you before.”

“He’ll be fit, if I have to tie him to a horse myself,” growled Kid. “The boy’s bleedin’ though and I don’t know how bad he’s hurt.”

Heyes gave a knowing smile, glancing at his partner’s scratched face. “He's tiny, he’s gotta be about seven. You probably scared him; running after him, when you’d just beat up his pa.”

“I ain’t sure who scared who the most. Kids like me, Heyes. Nothing like that’s happened before. What’re we gonna do? We can’t send that boy off with him.”

Heyes frowned. “We can’t bring up a child, Kid.”

“He’s terrified.”

“What do you suggest? We take him away and put him in an orphanage? You know how that worked out for us.”

“Heyes! The man’s scum.”

“He’s also the lad’s kin. We can’t get involved in that. Even a court wouldn’t take a man’s son from him. That’s just how it is.”

Kid slumped into a chair. “He’s real scared, Heyes. It ain’t a normal relationship.”

Heyes shook his head. “If he was older, maybe we could do something, but we’re outlaws. We can’t change the world. Maybe it’s not like that all the time?”

“I hope to God it’s not.” Kid stood. “You’re right. We’d have given our eye teeth for kin; any kin. Maybe it’s not our call. He’ll have to go.”

The little face turned away from the window, burning tears streaming down her cheeks. Her legs gave way and her back slid down the wall until she slumped on the ground. She belonged to her father; the bible said so, the law said so, and every man she had ever met reiterated the point. In a world where corporal punishment was commonplace, it would take a doughty crusader to take a stand and point out cruel excess. Besides, poor children weren’t precious; they were as plentiful as flies around a dustbin. Nobody cared.

Her sense of betrayal seemed worse because Devil’s Hole had been an oasis of protection. Her father was afraid of Hannibal Heyes, and Kid Curry had been gently patient, teaching her how to fish and handle a gun; but when it had come down to it, they were just like the rest of their ilk. Her dark eyes burned into the night, smouldering with hatred at the men who had allowed her to hope, and let her down.

She would have hated them even more, if she had known what would happen next.








(Message edited by Hunkeydorey On 04/14/2012 8:02 PM) Date Posted:04/12/2012 5:38 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:27 am

From #13FrankieASJ


I'm on a role!! Hoping this makes sense - I know what I was trying to convey in my head - hope it reads OK ...

Egg

Running the tip of his thumb over its warm, smooth surface, he marveled in its compact simplicity. In his hand he held a life – one not fully formed but the start of one, none the less. Rolling it over, it came to rest comfortably in the curve of his palm and he held it there for a moment. Such a simple object - but one which brought with it a heap of memories.

Those happy carefree days of his childhood, when collecting the eggs from the chicken coop was one of his daily chores. The time he and his best friend had caught a beating for throwing the eggs at each other in friendly combat. The sound of the shell cracking as she tapped it on the edge of the bowl, pulling it apart to let its golden contents slip out into the flour below with a soft thud, to be mixed into the smoothest batter mix, which became the lightest of pancakes.

But that was before. What he wouldn’t give now for life to be that uncomplicated.

Later, when they were older, on occasion they had to sneak into a coop and take a couple of eggs. He supposed that was the start of it. They had thieved out of necessity, to feed themselves and from those small beginnings their larceny had grown.

He allowed himself a small smile as he remembered the times he had seen his partner confound a man, by balancing one on its end, to win a erstwhile bet which, on more occasions than not, had earned them a stake in a poker game, affording them, due to the talents of said partner with cards, to live more comfortably for a while. The beauty of the trick was in its simplicity but it needed a deft hand to perfect it and his partner was extremely skilful.

He chided himself for allowing his mind to drift to those memories, taking his thoughts away from their present predicament, as a soft groan drew his attention to the huddled form lying in the hay next to him. In the gloom of the morning light, which had managed to seep into the interior of the barn, he could just make out his face twist and contort in pain as he tried to move. It would be a while before he would be able to do the egg trick once more.

He was bleeding again too. The expanding dark, red stain on his shirt a tell tale sign.

It passed his mind as to whether he’d even see the next day through but he pushed such pessimism to the back of his mind. There wasn’t much more he could do that he hadn’t already done, apart from get him some proper medical attention but circumstance would not permit such an act. As the sky brightened he knew it meant that they would have to leave before the owners of the barn, in which they had sought shelter, discovered them. In his experience there was only one reason why two men, one with a gunshot wound, would be sleeping in a barn. He could not risk the questions their discovery would bring.

Looking once more at the smooth, oval object in his hands, he curled his fingers around its perfect form, holding it firmly. He knew what he had to do but wished with all his heart he didn’t have to make the decision. The desperation of their present situation suddenly enraged him and before he knew what he was doing his grip tightened about the egg, shattering its shell, allowing the slimy contents to ooze between his fingers, sliding and dripping to the floor, puddling the last hopes of a new life at his feet.

Dropping the remnants, he grimaced as he wiped his hand on his sheepskin jacket, knowing another stain wouldn’t make much difference to the condition of the garment. His life was tainted enough already.

With a resigned sigh, he put his hat firmly on his head and got to his feet. Slipping his gun from his holster he checked the chamber to make sure it was full, even though he knew it was, before returning it.

He squatted down and placed a reluctant hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

“Heyes?” His voice was husky with fatigue and emotion. “You gotta wake up now. Time we were movin’ on. We can’t stay here and risk bein’ seen. I know you’re hurtin’ but there ain’t a whole lot I can do for ya now but as soon as I think that posse is off our trail, I’ll get ya to a doctor.”

The dark haired man stirred and rolled onto his back, opened his eyes and saw the worried blue ones of his friend looking at him with concern. Too weak to talk, he nodded his understanding. With a grim determination, born of hard times and a lust for life, they left the refuge of the barn and hit the trail once more.


*****

Mrs. Duggan regarded the broken egg in her barn and frowned. “Now how in the world did that happen?” she muttered to herself. “Elijah,” she called out, “reckon we got ourselves a thief helpin’ his-self to our eggs. Go get your gun and make sure that dang coyote ain’t still hangin’ about."
The only thing I learned from love was how to shoot somebody who out drew ya' - Leonard Cohen/ Hallelujah.
Date Posted:04/18/2012 1:13 PM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:29 am

From #14RosieAnnie


Still in a "Return to Devil's Hole" state of mind. Kind of a continuation of the March challenge entry.
-------------------------------------------------------------

Kid Curry leaned against the corral, watching his partner ride away – alone. Kid knew he had a reputation for being a man of few words, but a lot of words were coming to his mind right now. Words like “stupid”, “careless”, “dangerous”, seemed about right for what Heyes was doing. He had a few words for himself, too, like “asshole”. Only an asshole would let Heyes go into Devil’s Hole with that Phillips woman. He should saddle up right now and follow Heyes, a discreet distance behind, just enough so he could watch Heyes’ back without him noticing. That was his job, after all. An endless and thankless job, but still his job. Instead, he was standing by himself in a strange corral, watching his best friend ride out into danger with some untrustworthy woman by his side.

Heyes was out of sight already. If he was going to follow, he’d better get moving. Heyes did know all the trails into Devil’s Hole; he couldn’t be sure which one he was taking. Best to follow him while the trail was still fresh. But he didn’t move. Instead, he just scuffed his heel into the dirt, making a hole in the dry ground. Finally, he pushed himself off the corral. Damn it all. He’d promised Heyes he’d stay in town, keep an eye on things. He wondered again how he’d let himself be talked into that. Not the first time, that silver tongue had won out against his better judgment.

The sun was just climbing above the horizon, and the Wyoming air was still chilly. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with himself. He already felt kind of bored. His stomach growled loudly. Well, might as well go for breakfast. It was something to do.

Kid didn’t see too many people on the streets. Just as well, he thought. This close to Devil’s Hole, there was a good chance someone might recognize him. He kept his head down and made sure to avert his eyes from the few folks he passed on his way back to the hotel.

When he arrived, his bad feeling got worse. There were no breakfast smells coming from the restaurant, and the door was locked. Even if the restaurant wasn’t open yet, the staff should be there, getting things ready. He rang the front desk bell and waited. Nothing. He rang the bell again, a little harder, and waited. Still nothing. What was going on in this place? He was about to slam the bell, hard, when the elderly night clerk emerged from the back.

“So sorry, Mr. Jones! We’re having a small crisis here today.”

“Does it involve breakfast?” Kid asked.

“Well, unfortunately, it does. We won’t be serving breakfast today, I’m sorry to say.”

“Not at all?” Kid’s voice rose to match his stomach’s loud growl.

“No sir, not at all. You see –“

Kid interrupted. “It really don’t matter to me why. Just tell me someone else where I can get a meal.”

Ten minutes later, Kid stood under a swinging sign that read “Tre Kronor – Svensk Resturang.” He glanced at the note the clerk had written for him – yes, this was the place. Opening the door, he was greeted by an aroma of bread baking, coffee brewing, and the welcome sight of a young ,pretty blue-eyed woman wearing a braided crown of blonde hair. He smiled and removed his hat. Things were looking up.

“The hotel told me you were serving breakfast, Miss? . . “

“God Morgon!” He didn’t understand the words, but he sure liked the shy smile that accompanied it.

“Oh, I am so sorry! Yes, please to sit. You like kaffe, ya?”

“Yes, miss, I do like coffee.” He pulled a chair out and sat down as the blonde girl retrieved a coffee pot. He held out his cup while she poured.

“I hope you like this kaffe. We make it Swedish style.”

Kid smiled. “I’m sure I’d like anything you serve, Miss. . . What is your name?”

Blue eyes met blue eyes. “Ingrid Nilsson.”

“And I’m Thaddeus Jones, Miss Nilsson.” A faint blush colored her cheeks. Kid grinned. Staying behind while Heyes rode off alone to Devil’s Hole was beginning to look like one of his best ideas ever. He took a cautious sip of the coffee.

“What’s in this?” he asked.

“You don’t like, Mr. Jones?”

“I like it fine. It’s just different, that’s all.

“In Sweden, we make kaffe with egg.” He nodded and took another sip. Heyes always liked strong coffee. He’d have to remember to bring Heyes here, when he got back. If he got back. The dark thought made him frown for a moment.

“Mr. Jones, you wish American breakfast or Swedish breakfast?”

“Is the Swedish breakfast as good as this Swedish coffee? Because this is really good.”

“Ya, it is good. I like!“

“Then Swedish breakfast it is.” He was rewarded with another shy smile as she left to place his order.

Without Ingrid to distract him, he looked out the window. As always, he’d chosen a table where he could keep his back to the wall and have a clear view of the street. Still not too many people up and about, although he figured that, with the hotel restaurant closed, Tre Kronor would get a few more customers today.

He saw a broad-shouldered man wearing a large overcoat approach and glance at Kid through the window. Kid noticed and raised his coffee cup in acknowledgement. The man frowned and came in just as Ingrid returned with a steaming bowl of something.

“God Morgon, Ingrid,” the man said, smiling. Ingrid returned the smile and laughed.

“God Morgon to you, Marshall. You know such good Swedish, I think maybe you come from Goteborg too!”

The Marshall – Kid winced – removed his hat and bowed awkwardly. “For you, Ingrid, I wish I was from Goteborg. But I’m just a Kansas boy with an appetite. Got any of that good kaffe for me today? And maybe an American breakfast?”

Ingrid placed the bowl of what appeared to be hot cereal in front of Kid. It didn’t look like any kind of oatmeal or porridge he’d seen before, but it did smell good. “You don’t want muesli like Mr. Jones eats? He try Swedish breakfast!”

The marshal turned his gaze to Kid, losing his smile. Kid shoved a spoonful of the – whatever it was called – in his mouth. At least, while he was eating, he didn’t have to think of a clever reply.

“Maybe next time, flicka,” the Marshal said, winking. Ingrid giggled. “I bring you American breakfast, Marshal.” She went back to the kitchen.

Both men were quiet for a moment. Finally, the Marshal spoke.

“Sweet girl.”

Kid swallowed. “Seems like it.”

“Mind if I join you, Mr. Jones?”

Kid minded, a lot, but he saw no way out of it. He kicked a chair out. “Nope. Be good to have some conversation.” Hopefully not about Devil’s Hole.

The Marshal settled himself in the chair as Ingrid returned with a cup of coffee. “Tak, flicka,” he said. Ingrid just smiled at him and left again.

“You speak Swedish, Marshall?”

“No, I just picked up a few words from coming here so much.”

“Oh.” Kid couldn’t think of anything to say.

“You new in town, Mr. Jones?” the Marshal asked.

“Me and my partner are just passing through, Marshal. How about you? You’re from Kansas, you said?”

“Born there, but Wyoming and Montana now.” He smiled suddenly. “Forgetting my manners, aren’t I? My name’s Tom Siddoway.”

“Thaddeus Jones. Pleased to meet you, Marshal.” Kid extended a hand. Siddoway had a firm, secure grip. Damn. He looked and sounded capable.

“You mentioned a partner, Mr. Jones? Is he going to be joining us?”

“No, sir, he left this morning on a guide job. A lady was looking for someone to show her the territory around here, and she only needed one guide. So he’s out sleeping on the ground, and I get to have breakfast I can’t pronounce.”

Siddoway laughed. “Well, I’m glad to hear it, although, for your partner’s sake, and this lady’s, I’d recommend staying close to town. There are some dangerous men out in the hills around here.”

Kid nodded. “Well, Joshua is pretty good at taking care of himself. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Siddoway looked at Kid closely. “Mr. Jones, have you heard of the Devil’s Hole Gang?”

Kid almost choked on his coffee. “Who hasn’t? I think I’ve even read a dime novel or two about them boys a couple years back. I ain’t heard much of them lately, though.”

“That was true, but things seem to be heating up recently.”

“What’s changed?”

“A lot of men have been passing through here lately. They stop in town for a day or two, stock up on supplies, and then they’re gone. The word we hear is, the Devil’s Hole gang is planning something big, and they’re bringing in a lot of new men for the job.”

Kid put down his spoon. “You didn’t come in here today just for breakfast, did you, Marshall?”

“No, I didn’t. I came in here to speak to you. And I want you to tell me, what brings you here?”

“The hotel restaurant isn’t open for breakfast today.” Siddoway didn’t smile at the small joke. Kid tried again.

“Marshall, me and my partner were looking for work. This Mrs. Phillips, she sent her butler, I guess he is, over to the saloon to find a guide. According to Joshua, her husband ran off, and she’s trying to find him. She says the Bannerman Agency has traced him to this area, and she needs help to go cross country. That’s all.”

“How come he didn’t hire you, too?”

“He saw Joshua first, that’s all. I was tired and I’d left the saloon early. Joshua stayed to play a few more hands.”

“And that’s it?”

“That’s it.”

Siddoway drummed his fingers on the tabletop. “This partner of yours, is he a smart man?”

Kid smiled. “He likes to think so.”

“And he thought it was smart to ride into Devil’s Hole country with some woman?”

“Money talks, Marshall. She’s offering a lot of money.”

“I see. And what do you think of this?”

Kid folded his hands. “I don’t like it. I told Joshua it was a bad idea, but all he could think about was the money.”

“Don’t the money appeal to you, too?”

“I like money just fine, Marshal, same as the next man. I just got a bad feeling about this woman and her story. I tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined to do it. And so here I sit, waiting.”

Siddoway leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling for a moment.

“Mr. Jones, I don’t like it either. I don’t like the looks of the men who are showing up around here. I don’t like some strange woman flashing money, and going out into the hills to look for someone she claims is her husband. My gut instinct is telling me there’s a lot wrong here. And with Big Jim Santana running things at Devil’s Hole again –“

This time Kid did choke on his coffee. Siddoway slapped him on the back a few times, trying to help him clear his throat.

“Big Jim Santana is running things?” Siddoway just stared at Kid without speaking. Kid cleared his throat and tried to gather his wits. The news shook him up pretty bad.

“Ain’t Heyes and Curry running the gang no more?” he asked. Siddoway shook his head.

“Haven’t been for some time, I hear. They’ve gone quiet, but at least they’ve gone away. This Santana, you’ve heard of him, I take it.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I have.” Kid thought back to his first days at Devil’s Hole, when Santana had been in charge and Heyes was his lieutenant. Santana didn’t like gunmen, he particularly didn’t like Kid, and he really didn’t like that he couldn’t control Heyes’ and Curry’s friendship. Kid hadn’t been real upset when Santana had got caught.

“I heard he went to prison. Or ain’t that right?”

“It’s right. He did his time, got released a couple months ago, and didn’t waste a minute getting back to Devil’s Hole. He’s been bringing in men from all over to do some big job, but nobody’s saying what it is.”

“And Joshua’s riding straight into that.” Damn, damn, and double damn. Well, Heyes had wanted him to sit tight and wait for developments. And things sure were developing, though not in any way he wanted to see. Kid felt a sinking sensation in his gut, right where that muesli had settled.

Siddoway’s eyes narrowed. He looked at Kid, considering. . . something. Kid could only hope he wasn’t trying to match Kid to a wanted poster.

“You seem awful familiar with the Devil’s Hole gang, Mr. Jones. You learn all that from dime novels?”

Kid tried to smile. “No. No. Me and my partner, we’ve done some security work along the way. We worked with a Bannerman man, name of Harry Briscoe, a few times. And Lom Trevors, you know him? Sheriff at Porterville?” Siddoway nodded. “Well, Lom’s a friend of ours. So, yeah, I guess I know a little more about that gang than most people might. And I got to tell you, I don’t like the idea of Santana up there, bringing in a bunch of men he don’t know, and Joshua out there in the middle of all that. I don’t like it one bit.”

“Neither do I, Mr. Jones. And there’s nothing I can do about it, except keep an eye on the people passing through.”

“That why you decided you wanted company for breakfast?.”

Siddoway smiled a genuine smile. “Well, yeah, that, and the chance to visit with Ingrid a bit. And have some of that coffee they make with egg in it.”

“What was that you called her? Flick something?”

“Flicka. It means ‘girl’ in Swedish. Just a nickname.”

“Oh.” Kid looked at his cereal. It was cold. He pushed it away. Heyes liked to tease him about his appetite, how nothing dared get between Kid Curry and his next meal, but Kid didn’t feel like eating anymore. His mind kept turning on the fact that Santana was running things at Devil’s Hole, and Heyes had no idea. Heyes was expecting to see Wheat there. Kid wasn’t sure what kind of reception Santana would give Heyes, but it could be bad. Real bad. He pushed his chair back and got up.

“Where you going, Mr. Jones?”

“I’m going to get my saddle bags, get on my horse, and go after Joshua and bring him back here.”

“Mr. Jones. Wait.”

Kid waited. Siddoway stood.

“I’ll go with you.”

“I don’t need help, Marshall. Thanks anyway.”

“I’m not coming to help you. I’m coming to protect you. I’ve got a lot more experience than you dealing with criminals. And with two men, we can watch each other’s backs. Deal?”

The last thing Kid wanted to do was ride out, looking for Heyes, in the company of a competent federal marshall, but he saw no way out. The need to find Heyes before he got too far was overpowering.

“Alright. Let’s go.” Both men threw coins on the table just as Ingrid came out with plates of food. Kid looked longingly at the pretty girl, the hot meal, and the Marshall. This was turning out to be some day. He wondered how he was going to explain to Heyes why he was showing up with a marshall. He hoped he wouldn’t be spending the next 20 years in prison regretting every decision he made today.

“Sorry, flicka,” Siddoway said, “Duty calls. We’ve got to go.” He turned to Kid. “Ready when you are, Mr. Jones.”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, Marshall.” Ingrid stared as the two men grabbed their hats and walked out the door. She put the hot plates on the table and sat down. She was still there a few minutes later when her aunt came out from the kitchen and saw Ingrid sitting by herself.

“What happened?”, said the aunt. “They don’t like Swedish breakfast?”



"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly." "The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
Date Posted:04/20/2012 9:43 AM
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:31 am

From #15GiddyUp

Easter Suprises


It was a wonderful day in April and Sarah Curry was making the last preparations for the Easter dinner. It was quite the sight. She had already told her husband Jeddiah Curry off on several occasions for staring at the food in question. She knew her husband was keen on food and if he got a little teaser he wouldn’t leave her alone. Then Clementine walked into the kitchen and asked her mother if there was something she could do more. Sarah gave her daughter a bright smile. She enjoyed having her around and helping her with domestically duties.


“Yes, there’s something you can do. Why don’t you make the table? The boys should be back soon,” she replied.


“Yes, mother. Oh, Amy can’t wait for the egg hunt. She was up early in the morning trying to catch a glimpse of the Easter Bunny as it hid them,” Clementine answered.
Sarah laughed quietly. When she was little the Easter Bunny wasn’t very common. It had grown popular over the years. It had been Jed’s idea to hide eggs a few years back and it had continued like that.


“Tell Amy that she needs to have some patience. There’ll be an Egg Hunt later today,” Sarah told her and returned to her duties. Clementine made a small nod but she then lingered in the kitchen for a moment. There was something she wanted to ask her mother but didn’t have the courage to do so. She sighed softly and went to the dinner room.


Later on the boys came back from the field work. Jed sat by the front and softly steered the horses towards the farm. His oldest two sons, Thomas and Mark ride alongside it while his youngest, Joshua, sat right next to his dad. He wasn’t big enough to ride yet, or so Jed thought. Joshua didn’t agree but he didn’t say it. Perhaps his Pa was right after all, even though he had spent a lot of time around horses. Thomas whistled as they approached the ranch and one of the hired ranch men waved over to them. They then drove up to the court yard and dismounted. Joshua jumped down and led Thomas horse over to the stables while Mark helped their dad with the carriage. The ranch hand, Joe, and Thomas started to haul today’s work off the carriage. Suddenly there was a bolt of light and blonde hair running over the court yard.


“Daddy!” Amy cried out and hugged Jed’s leg. He chuckled deeply and brushed her over her hair.


“Hello sweetie. Helpin’ yer mother with the dinner?” he asked and looked down at her.


“No… I’ve been looking for the Easter Bunny,” she replied excitingly. “He’s hard to find,” she then added with a


“Mebbe he’s scared of ya, “Mark then said and smirked.


“He’s not! I’m a very nice girl!” he said and pouted. Jed smiled and gave Mark a glance.


“Don’t listen t’ him, he’s just windin’ ya up,” Jed then told Amy. “Now, don’t ya mother need some help?” he then asked. Amy shook her head.


“Clemy helps her,” she replied. Jed then gave her another smile before he tugged at her shoulder.


“Let’s see if we can find ya some work for ya then,” he added and started to walk towards the barn while Amy grabbed his hand. Jed then shouted over his shoulder to Joe to continue the work. Joe gave him a nod. Thomas got a disgruntled expression on his face however. He knew Joe was older and had more experience but he was the oldest, he should be in charge when Pa couldn’t. He was almost 17 after all, he was nearly an adult. Mark then gave him a nudge and nodded towards the sacks. Thomas gave his brother a glare before he grabbed a sack and stalked off. Mark rolled his eyes and took another sack. He had never liked Thomas attitude and it was just getting worse over time.


---oOOo---


Sometime later their guests started arriving. Jed and his family walked out to greet them. In the first carriage Heyes, his wife Claire and their children came. The first one to step out was Heyes son Alexander. He helped Heyes second wife Claire out of the carriage. She was holding their sleeping newborn Harriett. Alexander also extended his hand out to his father who just flashed his son one of his warm smiles and he stepped out unaided. Jed smiled and walked over to his old partner and shook his hand.


“Heyes! Nice meetin’ ya again. An’ Claire, just as beautiful as ever,” Jed greeted them. Claire giggled some while Heyes gave Jed a mock glare.


“Hey, that’s my wife!” Heyes then replied and gave Jed a friendly shove.


“What about me? Don’t I get a hello?” Alexander replied with a fake pout. Jed chuckled and shook his hand as well. They begun walking towards the house and Claire and Jed’s children also greeted them.


A while later more guests arrived. It was Clementine Hale and her husband as well as Georgette Sinclair. Their old friend Lom Trevors hadn’t been able to come however. Heyes and Jed greeted them and exchanged stories about what they had been up to in the last year. Clementine spoke a lot about her twins; one of them was in the army while the other worked as a sewer in New York. Heyes once again inquired about where Georgette had gotten her fortune and once again she just smiled at him and didn’t tell. As all the guests were finally gathered they sat down to eat Easter dinner. The dinner flowed on rather eventless with a lot of talking and laughing.


After the dinner was done the family ventured outside. Jed and Joe had previously hid eggs around the farm while Sarah was busy with the dinner. It was now up to the youngest children to go looking for them. Amy was very excited and she started running around the perimeter. Joshua took it a bit calmer however. While Amy just ran around he tried to figure out the best places to hide stuff and searched through those instead. Clemy also went hunting. She was a bit older than Amy and Joshua but she still enjoyed it. Thomas and Mark weren’t interested in looking even though Jed tried to push them to it.
About an hour later Amy, Joshua and Clemy came back with their eggs. Joshua was giving Amy an odd look. Jed waved the kids over to look at what they had found. Clemy hadn’t found so many eggs while Amy and Joshua had quite a few more.


“Oh look at that! You three have done a good job,” Jed replied with a smile. Mark then peeked over their shoulders and he took two eggs from Joshua. In return he got an odd look from his brother.


“Want t’ do sum egg rollin’, sibs? It’s fun!” Mark then asked.


“You can’t do egg rollin’, because you doesn’t have any eggs, you egghead,” Thomas then interrupted.


“We can share. Right, Joshua?”


“If you insist, bro,” Joshua replied with a sigh.


Amy then tugged on Jed’s arm and gave him puppy eyes. Jed looked down at her with a warm smile and gave her a pat on the head.


“What is it princess?” he then asked. Amy shined up and told him about a funny looking egg she had found. She then went through her basket and showed it to him. Heyes stared at the object in her hand. It was diamond! Jed frowned at her while Heyes was doing something which looked like grabby hands.
“Where’d ya found it?” he then asked.


“… and may I have a look?” Heyes interrupted.


“But it’s mine! I found it!”


“Yes you found it but…“ Jed got quiet as he collected his thoughts.


“… but that’s a very special egg, dear. It can contain something really valuable, something adults can use. The Easter Bunny must have dropped it as he was laying out eggs for children,” Heyes continued with a dimpled smile. Jed shot his former partner a thankful look.


“OK then… but I want something for it!” Amy commanded. Claire had to hide a small smile which spread over her face and Clementine (the older) had a very warm look on her face too. Georgette on the other hand gave the “egg” a greedy look.


“What do you say about some sweets and chocolate?” Jed suggested. Amy shook her head however and Jed tried again. “I can read you two stories tonight,” he then added. Amy still shook her head. Jed was getting a bit annoyed when Heyes once again intervened. “What’d you want, Amy?” he asked. Amy smiled. “I want to be up tonight and watch the stars with Pa!” she exclaimed. With a chuckle Jed agreed to those terms.


---oOOo---


Later on when the children was out doing egg rolling down a nearby hill, Heyes and Jed were inside with Clementine and Georgette discussing the “egg problem”. Georgette suggested they would sell the diamond or dig out there for more. Heyes pointed out with a smile that it wasn’t a raw diamond, it had been processed. Georgette stuck with her suggestion to sell it however.


“Boys, I believe I have to agree with her,” Clementine said. “It might bring out some money for your businesses.” Heyes and Jed exchanged a look. After a silent discussion they came to an agreement.


“We should turn it in,” Heyes then said.


“Yeah, we’re honest people,” Jed added. Georgette rolled her eyes while Clementine nodded slowly. She knew the guys had a good point.


“However… it could have come from a jeweler, from the looks of it. We should go out there and keep looking. Perhaps we can find more…” Heyes begins but gets interrupted by a glare from Jed. “… to get a bigger reward that is,” Heyes then concluded.


After their discussion they went out of the house. Jed searched for Amy and after he found her, he inquired about where she had found the special egg. She gave him some childish directions and he was off. Sometime later they found the location and begun looking. It wasn’t easy and a bit tiring for their old backs. Jed however, did not let his eyes away from Georgette. He didn’t believe her reassurance. After a few moments they had found a ruby and two opals in addition to the earlier found diamond. As they were walking back Jed gave Georgette an odd look.


“What’s it Jed?” she asked.


“Give it back, George” he simply stated. With a dramatic sigh he handed over the topaz she had attempted to take with her.


--oOOo---


Several hours later Georgette, Clementine and her husband left. Georgette had tried to find the jewels but Jed had placed them in his safe. She left a bit displeased. Clementine on the other hand thanked them for a great day. Heyes and his family decided to stay over as Jed and he was off to the sheriff’s office in the morning about the jewels they had found. While Jed was overseeing the sleeping preparations Clem went to speak with her mother. She found her in the kitchen. She was a bit nervous and stood there for some time. Then Sarah saw her.


“What is it darling?” she asked.


“Oh… it isn’t a very big thing really… I shouldn’t have bothered you,” Clem replied.


“Honey… talk with me.”


“It’s just this boy in school... I really like to be around him but he doesn’t pay me any interest. What should I do? I really want to get to know him better,” Clem blunted out. Sarah smiled because she knew that look. Her little daughter was having her first crush.


“You must catch his interest. The best way of doing that is talking to him.”


“But he won’t talk with me…”


“Have you said hello and introduced yourself?”


“No… not really.”


“If you do that, you’ll get his attention.”


“Thanks mom.”


---oOOo---


At the break of dawn Heyes and Jed walked to the stable and mounted their horses. Heyes would have preferred a carriage however but Jed’s teasing made him change his mind. They then rode off and after half an hour they arrived to town. They immediately went to the Sheriff’s Office. Outside of it they dismounted and bound the horses before they stepped in. There was a rather upset man in there that was bothering the sheriff. He didn’t look impressed. As they walked in the sheriff waved them closer to the other man’s irritation.


“Mr. Curry, Mr. Heyes. What brings you here? Not up to something bad I hope?” the young, brown haired man asked with a smile.


“We’re too old fer that,” Jed replied.


“Depends on what is bad, though” Heyes added with a smile. They approached the table and Heyes flashed the other man an excusing smile. He then looked over at Jed who placed a sack with the jewels on the table.


“We found some misplaced things near the ranch,” Heyes explained. The sheriff took the sack and poured the jewels into his hand. He stared at it for a few moments before he retained his composure. The other, well dressed man stared as well but for other reasons.


“Those are mine! You thieves!” he exclaimed.


“We’re no thieves. We have quit that,” Jed replied and glared at the other man.


“Calm down! I do not believe Mr. Curry and Mr. Heyes have stolen anything. If they did, they would hardly give it back, correct?” the sheriff then replied. The other man nodded slowly and tried to take the jewels. The sheriff quickly took them away.


“Not unless you can verify those are yours, sir.” The man made a face and went out.


“Thanks for helping me deal with that guy. He has hanged around here for hours, looking for his jewels.”


“Good thing we found them then,” Heyes replied.


“You’re actually honest now. Never thought that would happen.”


“Ya get tired o’ runnin’ after some time,” Jed answered.


The sheriff told them that after he had spoken with the other man they would get a reward for bringing the jewels in. Heyes on the other hand wasn’t pleased that and after a short discussion the sheriff agreed to give them a smaller reward in advance. They took their money and bid the sheriff farewell and left the office to return to the ranch.


End



(Message edited by GiddyUp On 04/20/2012 4:03 PM) "I like it when you worry Kid. I can trust you to look after me better." - Hannibal Heyes.
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:31 am

From #16silverkelpie


The Curate’s Egg – A British expression derived from a famous Victorian cartoon in ‘Punch’ magazine, meaning something which has a mix of good and bad qualities; just like reformed criminals...

Kid flicked a greasy lump from his arm. “Heyes, everyone’s lookin’ at us,” he muttered under his breath. “We’re covered in corned beef.”

“Stop complaining! You got us roped into the stupidest plan in the world. Blowing up the building wasn’t going to harm a photograph in a safe. Why didn’t you just get me to open it?”

“I didn’t have time. When Clara blurted out that Clarence was bein’ blackmailed by ‘Seth the Butcher,’ and he’d gone to sort it out once and for all. I just reacted. How was I to know she meant a real butcher, and that it wasn’t a nickname?”

Heyes took off his hat, shaking gobs of fat from the crown. “You’re fooling nobody. It’s Clara you’re interested in protecting.”

“Clarence’s a man of the cloth now, and he’s made good under a false name. His past is bein’ held against him, so he thought he’d use his old skills and blow the evidence to smithereens,” Kid paused, “besides, it ain’t fair on Clara to be forced into marryin’ someone she doesn’t want, just to save her brother from jail.”

“Yeah? Well, it’s a good job he went straight because he’s useless as an explosives man. The butcher’s shop is a burning wreck and Seth still has the photograph,” Heyes dusted more chunks from his shoulders “and if we hadn’t jumped into those storage barrels out the back we’d all be in jail. Dear, God; it wasn’t bad enough that there was meat flying everywhere, we had to sit in it too!”

“My first thought was to save Clarence.

“Kid, the whole problem here is that you didn’t think; not with your head anyway.” He indicated across the road with his head and shooed away the delighted looking dog slobbering at his boots. “Let’s go for a drink. I need to work out how to sort this mess once and for all.”

***********

“Mr. Roebuck? Seth Roebuck?” The butcher smiled at the dark eyed man in the brown suit. Heyes continued. “I’m an assessor for the Pearl Mutual Insurance Company. I believe you made a claim?”

“I sure did. You got here real quick.”

Heyes smiled casually, trying to disguise the urgency to complete his mission before the real insurance agent turned up and thanking his lucky stars that Roebuck had been boasting of his coming windfall in the saloon. “I was in the area. Now, why don’t you tell me what happened? This place sure is a mess.”

Seth bristled indignantly, shifting his braces over his expansive belly, the light catching his bald pate. “My business was blown up. This is my home and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with it. There’s just the lack of a woman’s touch, that’s all.”

Heyes arched his eyebrows. “The house or the owner?”

Seth wobbled his jowls indignantly, increasing his resemblance to a constipated bulldog. “Men outnumber women ten to one about here. It ain’t so easy to find a wife.”

Heyes nodded. “Sorry. I guess being a married man; I take things like that for granted.”

“Well, I hope to be part of that club soon. There’s a real sweet, little girl in town I’ve been wooin’. I can’t wait for the day I carry Clara over the threshold.”

Heyes slipped into his best poker face to avoid giving an indication of his views on Roebuck’s ‘wooing’ techniques. “So you’re sure she’ll say ‘yes,’ then?” he queried.

Roebuck nodded. “She’s been real skittish, but I think I’ve managed to break down her resistance at last.” He mopped his constantly clammy forehead with a grimy handkerchief. “This time next week I’ll make an honest woman of her.”

“I’m sure that this time next week she’ll be a very happy woman.” Heyes smiled. “I hope she’s not after the insurance payout. You want to be careful; you don’t want a wife who only wants you for your money.”

Roebuck gave an unsavoury smile. “Oh, I’m not worried. Clara ain’t the type to marry for money. She’s as pure as they come. Her brother’s a Catholic Priest, you know, I met her as part of the congregation. The money’s just a little sweetener for her. She’s suddenly got a whole lot keener. I’ve won her over at last.”

“Good for you,” twinkled Heyes. “Now, can you find your original insurance schedule?”

“It’s in the safe down at the shop. It’ll be fine. The safe’ll withstand anything other than a direct blast. Come on.”

Heyes looked shocked. “Walk about smoking remains in my suit? It’ll get ruined. Can I wait here? I have some paperwork I can get on with while you find it.”

“But you’ll need to see the shop anyway, won’t you?”

“Not until I’m sure you’re covered, I won’t.” Heyes shifted a stack of dirty dishes aside and sat at the table. “I’ve been caught like that before. I once ruined a pair of five dollar shoes wading through a flooded basement only to find the policy had expired. Go get it. I’ll be wating.”

**********

Kid looked down at the photograph of the two men posing stiffly beside an attractive, young brunette on a chaise longue. “So that was Harvey Metcalf. I never did meet him, but I did see the lawmen posin’ with his body in the newspaper.”

Clara blinked huge, china blue eyes at him. “I never stopped worrying about Clarence. I was so happy when he came home and we were able to start again. I thought we had put it all behind us until Seth came along. He’s Harv’s cousin, and had a copy of the only picture of the infamous Metcalf and Muphy.”

“He’s very religious. He turns up at almost every mass,” added Clarence.

Kid tossed the picture into the fire, watching the flames grab the curling edges, before consuming it in a hungry orgy of incandescence. “Well, it’s gone now and hopefully there are no more copies,” he grinned across at Clarence’s worried face. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your face on top of a dog collar. Father Clarence O’Rourke. That’s a far cry from the Sticky Murphy who laid low at Devil’s Hole.”

Clarence shrugged. “I was young, stupid and greedy. Seeing what happened to Harv made me see sense. I thank my lucky stars I bumped into you two. I was at my wits end worrying about Clara.”

“Well, Heyes got the picture for you. Now we need to make sure that the butcher’s in no position to start tellin’ the law what your real name is. You don’t need anyone diggin’ into your past.”

“But how? All he’s got to do is speak up. If they start investigating Clarence, he’s finished,” wailed Clara. “I really think we should just run away.”

“Well, that’s still an option, but Heyes has a plan. Let’s try that first. You don’t want to spend your whole life running, do you?”

**********

Kid stood with his arms folded alongside Clarence, forming a burly wall of muscle behind the petite blonde woman knocking tentatively on the butcher’s door. His initial delight at seeing the woman he coveted faded at the sight of her steely-eyed henchmen. Seth shuffled uncomfortably before he pulled the door open. “Clara?” his voice rang with uncertainty. “It’s great to see you.”

“Is it?” she barked. “Can we come in? We need to get this over with.”

Seth’s bloodshot eyes darted over to Kid. “Who’s he?”

“An old friend. You want to talk about a wedding? Let us in?”

Seth narrowed his eyes and stepped back to allow the little deputation to enter. Clara pursed her lips, glancing around at the dereliction and neglect. The burly man scuttled over to the range, rapidly folding away the wooden clothes horse festooned with grey long johns and a butcher’s apron covered in bloodstains. He hurriedly whipped a shirt from an armchair before slapping its lumps into submission, raising billowing clouds of chocking dust. “Please, take seat.”

Clara crinkled her nose in disdain. “I’d rather stand, thank you.”

“As you please, Miss Murphy.”

“I keep telling you! My name is O’Rourke, not Murphy.”

Seth shook his head. “Nope. Harv sent that picture home to his ma and I kept it when she died,” he darted a look at Clarence. “It says who they are on the back, in Harv’s own hand. You can’t argue with that. It’s the same writin’ as he wrote to his ma in. That’s the same as Harv tesifyin’ from the grave.”

“You see we have a problem,” Clarence cut in. “My sister and I moved around a lot. My pa was a journeyman labourer. We spent our lives moving from town to town. There isn’t really anyone who can testify that I’m not Sticky Murphy, but then I suppose there’s nobody who can testify that I am either.”

“Except for my picture,” Seth sneered. “Well, Clara? What’s it to be?”

Kid reached into his jacket and pulled out a photograph. He stared down at the little sepia group with a smile. “I got a copy of that picture. Harv’s wife was a beauty, wasn’t she? I read in the paper that she died in childbirth. Sad, real sad.”

“You knew Harv?” demanded Seth.

Kid gave the man his most cherubic look. “Never saw him in my life, except in the papers. This is the O’Rourke’s’ version of the picture.”

Seth puffed out his chest triumphantly. “Well, that proves it! Why would they have copy of that picture if they weren’t involved?”

“I was a young curate when Mrs. Metcalf needed comfort in her dying days. She wanted me to see her son. It was important to her that someone somewhere saw him as a man and not just as some kind of desperado.”

Seth snorted. “Yeah? Well, why’re you in it then?”

Clarence stretched out an arm and took the likeness from Kid. “Me? I think you’re mistaken. I’m not in this picture. See for yourself.”

The little group watched the jowls start to tremble before Seth’s face turned puce. “No! This just ain’t possible.”

Clarence flicked a look at Kid. “I told you. I’m not Sticky Murphy. That picture proves that I’m not.”

Seth turned the picture to the room, jabbing a sausage-like finger at the portrait. “That’s me! How’d you get me in it? I wasn’t there.”

Kid did his best to look confused. “How could anyone put somebody in a photograph who wasn’t there? Do you know, Clarence?”

“Beats me. I study the bible. How would I know anything about all this modern stuff. I look deep inside for the truth.”

Clara stamped her foot. “Seth! This stops now. Blackmail is no way to find a wife. I’m not marrying you, so go away and leave us in peace.”

“We’ll soon see about that! I had my safe brought up from the shop today. I got my own copy.”

He rushed out if the room, only to reappear looking even more harassed, clutching a postcard size image. “This just ain’t possible! How? I never posed for a picture with Harv in my life.”

Kid shifted his weight onto one leg. “The camera never lies, Mr. Roebuck. That’s your face in both copies and that was locked in your safe. You said it yourself, the writing on the back is as good as Harv testifyin’ from the grave. The way I see it, it takes a real lowlife to try to force a woman to marry him. You put that with the photographic evidence, I reckon the law won’t have a problem believin’ you’re an outlaw on the run.” His face dropped into a cold smile. “But if they ain’t gonna deal with you, I will. I don’t hold with your marriage plans. This stops... Right now.”

“Who ARE you?” Seth tried to bluster through his nerves to present a front of confidence.

“That ain’t as important as who the law thinks you might be, Mr. Murphy.”

“My name is Roebuck!”

“That picture says different,” Kid tilted his head and gave the man a hard stare, “and the law’ll have that ten minutes after your next marriage ‘proposal’ to Miss O’Rourke. I’m keepin’ a copy to make sure of that.”

**********

“Do you think we’ll hear from him again?” Clara’s sleek, blonde hair caught the sunlight.

Her brother handed her a cup of tea and patted her shoulder affectionately. “I’ll ask the bishop for a transfer. I’m so sorry to put you in that situation, Clara. We’ll move on. I don’t know what we’d have done without you two.”

Heyes shrugged, a smile twitching at his cheeks. “I enjoyed it. I’ve never studied photography before. It was fascinating. Who knew you could take part of an image and superimpose it on another? Apparently it’s one of the flim flams fake psychics use to make ghost pictures.”

“But what if that’s not enough? What if he comes back? Clarence’s past won’t withstand too much scrutiny, despite what we told Seth.”

Heyes gave Clara a mysterious smile. “Well, I think I can help you there,” he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a photograph. He folded his arms with a satisfied glint and watched the collection of curious faces pouring over the picture of a line of young priests. “Look on the far right, then turn it over and read the name.”

Clarence pointed at the young man at the end of the line. He had a shock of black hair, a round face and fat cheeks which had yet to drop into jowls. He turned it reading out the copperplate inscription on the back. “Class of ’69 leave the seminary,” his finger traced along the line of names, stopping to punctuate one with a jab. “Father Seth Metcalf!?”

Clarence sucked in a breath of surprise and stared back at the young face smiling out at him. “It’s him. It is! He’s a priest?”

“It would seem so,” grinned Heyes, “and he’s using a false name, and lying about his past. My guess is that he did something pretty bad. You don’t usually keep a photograph in a safe unless you either want to protect it or hide it.”

“So, he’s not going to want folks diggin’ into his past either?” queried Kid. “You didn’t change this one too, did you, Heyes?”

Heyes shook his head. “Nope. I swear I didn’t. He’s got a past, we just don’t know what it is.”

Clarence ran his hand distractedly through his straight, blond hair. “A priest. What are the chances of that?”

“You did tell us that he was a regular attender at mass,” replied Heyes.

“His real name is Metcalf? Do you think he stole like Harv?” demanded Clara.

“Who knows? Whatever it was, he’s none too keen on anybody finding out, so it’s a good back up to my doctored picture.”

“I’ll write to a friend to see what he can find out,” mused Clarence. “You can’t trust anybody these days, can you? The parish priest is an ex-bank robber and the butcher is a clergyman gone wrong. We’re all as bad as each other.”

“Are we?” asked Heyes. “What’s all that about the celebrating in heaven when a sinner repents?”

“D’you think there’s as big party downstairs when a churchman goes bad?” chuckled Kid.

“It all goes to show that there’s good and bad in us all, I guess,” murmured Clarence thoughtfully. “At least I’ve got a theme for my sermon on Sunday.”

“Sorry we’ll miss that.” Kid grinned. “We’ll be gone by then, but I don’t want to go to heaven with all those good folks anyway. I've decided I want to stay with Heyes.”



(Message edited by silverkelpie On 04/21/2012 6:03 AM) Sarah Whyment
Date Posted:04/20/2012 5:33 PM
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Ghislaine Emrys
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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:12 pm

Okay, let's see how posting works here!


Kid and me rode into another look-alike town in search of work. It was September 1st and beginning to get chilly at night so we figured we oughta find someplace with a roof to sleep in. I had a little money left over from our last job, enough for a meal and a bed if we weren’t too particular.

I hadn’t seen a marker on the road but we were in Wyoming. Didn’t see a name over the sheriff’s office, neither, and I hoped that was in our favor. We were still wanted, even after all these years.

We hitched our horses to the rail in front of a hotel in a seedy-looking part of town and got us a room on the second floor, facing the street as always. It cost me half my money but fifty cents can go far in a place like this. Still, we needed to find work. The railroad was a possibility, so were the coal mines up in the hills. It was late in the afternoon so we decided to eat first, then ask around. Well, to be fair, Kid insisted we eat first; it made no never mind to me. We hadn’t eaten on the trail—I said we had to be smart and save the jerky we had. Kid didn’t like that idea though he knew it made sense so he reluctantly agreed, but now his stomach wouldn’t shut up so I humored him.

“You know we ain’t got enough for a steak and all the fixings,” I told my hungry partner.

“Yeah, but I gotta eat.” Kid looks almost angry when he hasn’t eaten for a whole day and he’s not the most accommodating fella to be around when that happens.

“Fifty cents ain’t gonna go very far,” I pointed out, for the second time. The first time had been in our hotel room and Kid glared at me then. Now, he just sighed.

“I know. But I’m tired and I’m hungry and…” He shook his head. We’d had the same conversation too many times over the years. There was no point in saying it all again. We both knew each other’s lines so well, we probably coulda gone on stage with it and earned some money that way, if we’d been real desperate.

“Well, there’s one place we can get a decent meal.” I knew he wasn’t fond of that kind of food but it would fill him up. For a while, anyhow. I smiled, hoping to encourage him.

He knew me well, that’s for sure. Suspicious, he asked, “Where?”

Pointing with my head, I said, “Over there.”

Kid looked and grimaced. I waited patiently and let him argue it out with himself. A minute later, resigned to the inevitable, he said, “Let’s go.”

We walked across the street and passed under an arch that was painted red with black squiggly lines running down the sides that were supposed to mean something and a yellow dragon that decorated the top. As soon as we entered the Chinatown, we were assaulted by smells and sounds that were as strange to us as our faces were to the local inhabitants. Neither of us liked being stared at but now that we were there, our pride wouldn’t let us retreat. I looked down one side of the street and Kid the other, searching for a restaurant, hoping to find one right quick. Both of us were uncomfortable with the looks being thrown our way; they were different from the covert glances we usually got when we entered a Chinese section of a town.

“Kid, you see a restaurant yet?” I said outta the side of my mouth as I continued to scan the storefronts as we walked further into the densely-populated area.

“Nope.”

“D’you get the feeling everyone’s staring at us?”

“I always feel that way in a strange town,” my ever-watchful partner replied.

“Yeah, but something feels different here.”

At that, Kid turned to look at me. “Like what?”

“I’m not sure. But I get the feeling we’re not welcome here.”

We walked a half block before Kid said, “You’re right. Chinamen usually don’t look right at us but they’re doin’ that here. I wonder why,” he mused.

“I dunno. You think we should go on or should we go try our luck at a saloon?” I left it up to him to decide, since he was the hungry one.

Kid frowned. “I don’t think it’s us they’re starin’ at; I think it’s ‘cos we’re white men.”

I actually understood what he meant. “All right.” I trusted his ability to size up danger and keep us out of it.

“Hey! There’s one!” Kid pointed to a building on his side of the street. A large glass window showed several people inside eating. We approached the door, looked at each other and shrugged, and went inside.

All conversation halted as every single person inside openly stared at us. Some of the Chinamen even glared, before lowering their eyes and resuming their meals in silence.

We walked up to the counter to read the menu that was printed on a board propped against the back wall. I only knew a few of the foods listed but it didn’t matter—the price was more important than anything else. I looked at Kid. “See anything that appeals to you?”

A small man in a gray shirt that reached halfway to his knees hovered near us, inscrutable. His head was shaved ‘cept for a pigtail that poked out from under a skullcap.

Kid turned his back on the menu to survey the customers. Or, more precisely, what the customers were eating. Most of them were slurping from bowls filled with white rice topped with small pieces of vegetables, or maybe it was fish; I couldn’t tell. Their food was certainly strange but I suppose a good, juicy steak would seem strange to them.

“I guess I’ll have that,” my ravenous cousin said, pointing to a plate that had a sort of pancake on it.

“Ah. So. Egg foo yung,” the man behind the counter startled us by saying. “Velee good choice. You want one pancake or two?”

I searched the menu board for the price but didn’t see it listed. “How much for two?” I asked.

I could tell the man was sizing us up. Well, we certainly didn’t look rich so I didn’t think the mark-up would be all that great. “One dolla for two. Velee good price for you, sirs,” he said as he bowed to us and showed us a fake smile.

Kid snorted. He knew a con when he heard one. “We only want two,” he said, “not a whole chicken coop’s worth.”

The Chinaman tried to keep his puzzlement off his face and almost succeeded.

“My friend here means that price is too high,” I told him, swallowing my laughter. “We’ll pay twenty cents for two.”

I knew my opening gambit wouldn’t be accepted. I’d been in enough Chinatowns to know how to play the game. Find out the asking price first, counteroffer with a real low price, then gradually work your way to a middle ground that was acceptable to both sides. But above all, don’t show any impatience or anger, for that’d mean you’d never get what you wanted. Bargaining with a Chinaman was kinda like fighting a war. In fact, I’d seen a book once by some fella who wrote that war was an art. I woulda liked to have read it but a deputy recognized us and I had to leave it behind when we climbed out the window of that hotel room.

Kid settled back to watch the fun. Some of the men sitting closest to us also seemed to be listening. I heard them mutter something that sounded like “gwayloh” but had no idea what it meant.

“Oh, sir, egg foo yung velee difficult to make, ingledients velee expensive. But, for you, I give you good discount. Eighty cent, okay?”

I pretended to consider it for a second. “Hmm. I don’t think eggs are that expensive. Other restaurants only charge twenty-five cents. So,” I sighed heavily, “we can pay you that. Okay?”

“But, I take special care for your dinner, give you plenty scallions and pork. Pork not so cheap now. And I give you clean plate and fork, no chopstick.” The man paused. “So…sixty cent, yes?”

I cocked my head as if thinking. “No…we appreciate the pork and scallions, but we can use chopsticks. So… Ow!” I rubbed my ankle where Kid had kicked me.

“I can’t,” Kid whispered. “I want a fork and knife.”

I knew the man had heard. “Well, since my friend here would like a fork instead, how about thirty cents? That okay with you?” I smiled.

By now, the Chinaman knew that we weren’t going to be scammed so easily. He reassessed us and said, “All light. I give you good deal. Two egg foo yung for fifty cent. That my last price.”

Fifty cents was all we had. If we gave him that, our horses would have to spend the night outside and go hungry. They deserved better than that. But I knew better than to try and get sympathy here. Chinamen didn’t treat animals the same as us. They even ate dogs! I had to use a different tactic. “Well, like I said before, we’ve eaten in other Chinese restaurants and they only charged forty cents for two. We’re strangers here but,” I shook my head as if in grudging acknowledgment, “we can manage to pay you forty cents also. And that’s my last offer.” I waited to see what would happen.

The Chinaman made a show of it. “Oh, oh, I make no profit tonight. But for you, dear sirs, I give you best egg foo yung for forty cent. You no live in Rock Splings, I show you we good people here. You sit. I make your dinner velee quick.”

“Thank you,” I said, much relieved. I fished out the coins from my vest pocket and paid, then went to join Kid at a table away from the window.

Soon enough, our meal came, along with one fork, one knife, and two chopsticks. Kid laughed as I unsuccessfully tried to cut the thick pancake with the chopsticks, before graciously letting me use his knife. He refused to let me use his fork, though, and I had to struggle with the chopsticks and endure the half-hidden smiles and amused murmurings of the Chinamen surreptitiously watching us eat. At least Kid enjoyed his meal.

On our way back to our room, we stopped at a saloon. The bartender eyed us suspiciously when we asked about jobs. “You won’t find no work here,” he said in a thick brogue. “Them Chinamen done took all the jobs,” he added bitterly.

“Yeah,” said another man standing at the bar nearby. “The railroad pays them less than us to dig out the coal from the mines. It ain’t right, I tell you!” He turned around and, raising his mug of beer, shouted,” To the Knights of Labor!”

Several other men boisterously shouted back. “Hear, hear!” And, “Out with the Celestials!” And all of a sudden, the mood turned sour and threatening. Kid and me looked at each other and, without another word, left the saloon.

Back in our hotel room, we discussed what to do. Well, argued might be more accurate. I was all for leaving town in the morning but Kid wanted to go out to the mines and ask there directly.

“It ain’t a good idea,” I said, trying to persuade him. “You saw the mood of those men.”

“Yeah, Heyes, but we’re broke. If we can get hired on, even at those wages, we can work for a week and then leave.”

“You know you mining’s hard on the back,” I reminded him. He disliked manual labor as much as me and I couldn’t understand why he was being stubborn about it now.

“Yeah, but we’re…broke!” he repeated, much louder this time. “How we gonna eat with no money?”

So that was it. “What’s wrong with hunting out on the trail?” I asked in what I thought was a reasonable voice.

“Nothing,” he said. “But I’d like to sleep in a bed, now that winter’s nigh.”

I knew from the tone of his voice that I wasn’t gonna make headway tonight. “Let’s talk about it in the morning, okay?” I stripped to my long johns and got under the covers.

He knew that was just postponing the argument but he was tired, too. “Good night, Heyes,” was all Kid said as he finished undressing and climbed into the other side of the bed.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~
Without money for breakfast, we left the hotel in the morning to check on our horses at the livery. On our way there, we saw groups of miners walking the streets.

“Shouldn’t they be workin’ now?” Kid asked.

“It’s Wednesday, right?” Kid nodded in answer to my question. I looked at my pocketwatch; the time was 9:55 in the morning. “Far as I know, they should be.”
More and more men were appearing on the street. Then, we heard a bell ring but it wasn’t from a church. A quick look at Kid showed he was as curious as me so we followed the crowd, staying a ways behind them in case we needed to make a quick departure. We were going in the same direction as the livery, anyhow, and ended up at a white building that announced itself as the Knights of Labor Meeting Hall.

We didn’t need to go inside to hear what was going on. Someone was riling up the miners something fierce. Something about how they had to drive all the pigtails outta Rock Springs and outta Wyoming. That they were taking the jobs of good, honest white folk. That they had to send all the Celestials back to China where they belonged or... There was a lot of hooting and hollering then and we couldn’t hear the speaker no more.

But I’d heard enough. “Kid, this ain’t good. We need to leave. Now.”

Kid was torn. “But if the Chinese go, they’ll need men to work the mines. We’ll get jobs real easy, Heyes.”

“You really think they’re gonna leave?” I asked him incredulously.

“We leave when we know we’re not wanted. Why would they be any different?”

“’Cos they got homes and families, Kid. We don’t.”

He was silent for a moment, pondering. But before he could say anything, I added, “You know we can’t afford to get involved in this. It ain’t our concern.”

Grudgingly, Kid nodded. “I know, but…”

“But what? They’re Chinamen. We got enough problems of our own. Don’t need to get involved in theirs.” Kid wasn’t thinking clearly—he never does when he sees someone in need. But I could tell Rock Springs was a powder keg and if there’s one thing I know besides lock picking and safe-cracking, it’s explosives. Maybe I’m not as good as Kyle with dynamite but this town was gonna blow like a bottle of nitro. And the longer we stayed, the more dangerous it got.

“Kid, you can’t save the entire Chinese race,” I pointed out.

“Ain’t lookin’ to do that. Just…” he paused.

“What?” I asked, as he looked at me with that stubborn look he got when he wasn’t gonna be swayed from whatever was going on in that mind of his. Sometimes I thought I knew him so well and other times, I thought I’d never figure him out. I fleetingly wondered if he ever thought that way about me but I had more important things to think about right now. “What do you wanna do?”

He looked at me almost defiantly. “We should warn them.”

“Who?” But I had a sinking feeling I knew who he meant.

“The people at that restaurant.”

“They probably know already.”

“But what if they don’t? Heyes, they were nice to us. They didn’t have to give us a good deal on that egg foo yung.”

I sighed. My partner was right. They had treated us fairly. I didn’t see as we owed them, not exactly, since we’d paid for the meal, but I knew Kid wasn’t gonna let this go. Maybe we could do it quickly and then hightail it outta town. “All right. But we need to be quick. And then we leave. Okay?”

Kid had a big smile on his face. “Yeah, Heyes. Thanks.” He strode off towards the Chinatown and in a couple minutes we’d passed under the arch. It was eerily silent and no one was on the street.

“Maybe they already know,” I said.

“We’re almost there. Might as well keep goin’,” my practical-minded partner replied.

The atmosphere was ominous. My hand found its way to the butt of my gun and stayed there. Kid just kept walking. Finally, we reached the restaurant. The door was locked.

Kid knocked but there was no response. “Hey! You inside! We wanna talk to you!”

Still no response. He tried again. “Open up! We gotta tell you something!”

“No one’s there, Kid. Let’s go.”

He wasn’t ready to give up just yet. “Please! It’s important!” He waited but it was completely quiet inside. No one was there.

“They must’ve already left. It’s time for us to go also. C’mon.” Reluctantly, slowly, turning around frequently in case somebody showed himself, Kid followed me back to the livery.

The only people we saw was a big group of white men, musta been at least a hundred, coming from the other direction. They carried rifles and shotguns and some held torches. We ducked into an alley to avoid them. Once they were past us, we ran to the livery, saddled up our horses, and galloped outta Rock Springs as if a posse were after us.

A hasty glance at my pocketwatch showed it was 2:30 in the afternoon.



Author’s Notes:
* Early in the morning of September 2, 1885, a number of white men beat up some Chinese workers at a mine outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming, injuring two Chinese miners, one of whom later died. The white miners returned to the town and by the middle of the afternoon, they had entered the Chinatown area of Rock Springs and begun killing the Chinese there. At least 28 Chinese, and likely more, were killed. See Wikipedia for a detailed chronology.
* Use of the words "pigtails" and "Celestials" in this story is based on contemporary 1885 articles in the Wyoming press and "The New York Times" and is meant to represent the viewpoints of the characters of the time period.
* The speech of the man in the Chinese restaurant is based on my knowledge of how native Chinese speakers speak English, which comes from having taught English in China for three and a half years. It is not meant to be offensive and I apologize if anyone takes it that way.
* "Gwayloh" is really "gweilo," a Cantonese term for "foreign devil," which is what whites were called in China way back when.
* For a detailed look from the Chinese perspective of the Rock Springs Massacre of September 2, 1885, visit: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5043
* For an idea of the anti-Chinese sentiment of the period, visit: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5042

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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:46 pm


“Mr. Carson. I have had no less than three complaints about your conduct in the infirmary the other day.” Mitchell informed his head guard. “Do you care to elaborate?”

“Yessir, Warden.” Carson replied. “Heyes, once again, forgot the rules right out there on the work floor, in front of everybody. I didn’t think it was a good idea for the inmates to start thinkin’ that it was alright to assault a guard for any reason, so Mr. Thompson and I made sure Heyes got the message. The rest of the inmates now know that he’s spending some time at the infirmary—as a patient this time, so they all got the message too.”

“Why did you take Thompson with you?” Mitchell asked him. “He’s still quite new here; why not take one of the more experienced guards, like Pearson or Davis?”

“Because Thompson was the injured party.” Carson reasoned. “I felt he deserved restitution.”

“Hmmm.” Mitchell nodded. “I want you to understand that I have no qualms about the way you manage the prison proper, Mr. Carson. I have no trouble absorbing complaints from bleeding hearts like Reece and Morin suggesting that your methods are too brutal. Most of the inmates here are willing to comply with the rules once they’ve spent a day or two in the dark cell, or loose their privileges for a month.” Here Mitchell gives a resigned sigh and shakes his head. “But there are always those few who refuse to accept the inevitable and then we have to be tougher on them if we want to have any hope at all of breaking them in. If corporal punishment is all they understand then that’s what we’ll give them. Heyes has been a particularly difficult egg to crack and I certainly understand your need to get tough with him. I would even go so far as to say that you are doing a fine job of keeping everyone in line and I wouldn’t want you to feel that you need to change your methods in any way.”

Carson nodded, accepting the compliment but then wondering why he was here.

“The only thing I would suggest is that you use a little more tact next time.” Mitchell explained. “I mean, really Mr. Carson…delving out punishment in front of the Sister and her young novice couldn’t help but cause a stir. Indeed, Sister Julia was very—uncharitable in her level of complaint.” Here Mitchell groaned and rolled his eyes as another thought occurred to him. “And I’m probably going to be hearing an earful from the Mother Superior too. God Dammit!”

Carson shifted a little uncomfortably but remained silent. Mitchell sighed.

“That’s all Mr. Carson.” He concluded. “Just in future when you need to discipline an inmate, please make sure you do it when no one from outside the prison faculty is present to witness it. Outsiders just don’t understand.”

“Yessir Warden.” Carson agreed. “Next time I’ll be more ‘tactful’.”

“That’s all I ask.” Mitchell concurred. “How is Heyes by the way?”

Carson allowed a small smile to invade his lips. “He’ll be a while recovering Warden.”

“GOOD!” Mitchell responded with some heat. “That’ll be all Mr. Carson.”

“Yessir.”

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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:33 am

Nest Egg
by Penski

Eye brows furrowed under the black hat. “Kid, do you remember the Williams job?”

“The Williams job?” Curry stared out the hotel room window, watching the storm with its torrential rains flooding the street of the small town.

Heyes nodded, as he concentrated on the paper in front of him.

“What Williams job?” Kid asked, as he turned toward his partner.

“You know… the Williams job. How much did we get outta the safe?”

“Oh, you mean the Williams JOB!”

Heyes looked puzzled at his partner. “What did you think I meant?”

“I was thinkin’ ‘bout the different jobs we’ve done while waitin’ for amnesty.”

“Oh…” Heyes chewed on the end of the pen. “So how much did we get outta the safe at Williams?”

“Think it was around $10,200.” Curry stood up and glanced over Heyes’ shoulder. “What are you doin’?”

“Figuring out all the jobs we pulled and how much money we took from them.”

“All the jobs?” Kid asked.

“Well, all the jobs I can remember.”

“You have the $50,000 from the Columbine train?”

“No! That money’s at the bottom of a lake somewhere, thanks to Wheat.”

Curry chuckled. “You weren’t doin’ so good openin’ that safe either, Heyes. How about the $22,000 from that payroll train outta Cripple Creek?”

“Got that one down already. Easy to remember the large heists.” Heyes wrote down another name. “At Red Rock we got close to $1,300, right?”

“Which Red Rock are you talkin’ about?” Kid chuckled. “There’s a few of ‘em around, ya know.”

“The one where Wheat thought he would’ve done it better.”

Curry laughed aloud. “And there were a few of ‘em, too!”

Heyes leaned back in his chair and stretched. “I guess there was, huh? I was thinking of the Red Rock where that saloon gal…”

“Hid me when my horse went lame on the way outta town.” Kid sighed at the memory. “What was her name? Martha? Margaret? Maggie!”

Heyes grinned. “Knew you’d remember it by the girl.”

“Not every day a purdy gal makes you stay under the blankets in her bed for that long of time.”

“Back to the job… How much did we get?”

Kid scrunched up his face and closed his eyes as he thought. “We didn’t get much – maybe $900.” He poured two glasses of whiskey and handed one to his partner. “Why are you writin’ down the jobs and how much we took? So a judge can get it and see what to charge us with?”

“No!” Heyes gave Curry a look. “I’m bored and figuring out how much money we should’ve had.”

“We should’ve had?”

“If we had invested or even saved some of it. You know, a nest egg.”

“Ahh… I see. Well, did you figure it out?”

“Yep. Around $843,000.”

Curry whistled. “That much? But we didn’t get to keep all of it.”

“No, but after paying the rest of the gang and for supplies for the Hole and other expenses, we should have over $300,000.”

Kid plodded down on the chair by the window. “$300,000?! Where’d it all go? We don’t have more’n $30 between us now.”

“Well, there was the gambling. I didn’t win all the high stakes games, but didn’t care as much when there was so much in my pocket. The rounds of drinks.”

“Payin’ more than we had to for our favorite gals.”

“Paying off what lawmen and townfolks could be paid to look the other way.”

“Some darn good meals.”

“Few doctor bills in there when someone was shot.” Heyes ran a hand through his hair. “Helping out a few folks who needed it.”

Kid sighed. “That’s depressin’, Heyes. We could’ve bought some land…”

“Or gone to South America.”

“Nah,” Kid disagreed. “We don’t know how to speak South American.”

“Okay, then maybe Australia. Heard they speak English there.”

“$300,000 nest egg… gone!”

“Yep.” Heyes lay on the bed and covered his eyes with his hands. “Wasted away with wine, women, an’ song. Or more like a fine whiskey, women, an’ meals.”

“Thanks, Heyes.” Kid returned to looking out the window at the rain. “Now I’m even more depressed.”








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PostSubject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs   Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:17 pm

This is the last of the "cat" stories. It is really two stories together so I can wrap it up. I didn't want to have them entered in the polls since I've over done it a bit this month.

I have been struggling with Heyes' version. Our partially paralyzed corgi, Bode, had two seizures last night and we aren't sure he's going to make it. I've been sitting at my desk here at work going crazy and in my grief, Heyes's voice just spoke to me.

I hope you enjoy it.


LOBO
Lobo? It was Big Jim Santana that first called me that. When I first came to the Hole, I was a surly kid of fifteen. I kept to myself that first year, so Jim took to calling me Lobo. It’s Mexican for wolf. I’d drifted down on my own from Oklahoma Territory after my stepfather threw me out. My folks had been Boomers. My Pa had given up teaching in Illinois to settle on a piece of piss-poor land out in the middle of nowhere. The army put an end to that. He died trying to stay on that ugly scrap of land. My Ma remarried too fast to a man who didn’t want any competition from me. He threw me out when I turned 13. I was big for my age, though, and had a fifh grade education thanks to my Pa. I got some odd jobs here and there and added to them with what I could steal. Eventually, I drifted into the Hole.

I was there when Heyes joined up. Santana had heard rumors of this skinny kid with a funny name who had a knack for manipulation. That’s what it’s called when you can open a lock like Heyes does. Jim had sent out word that he wanted to meet up with Hannibal Heyes. Heyes heard about it, and caught up with us in a saloon outside of Tie Siding, Wyoming. He must’ve been about twenty at the time. He’d ridden a few years with the Plummer gang and one or two others. It never worked out well for him, though, so he was looking to make a change.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why it never worked for him. He was an arrogant cuss. Walked right up to Big Jim’s table and pulled up a chair without asking. Me and Wheat had seen him coming and pulled iron on him on account of the way he had his gun tied down. He never so much as blinked. Passed us by as though we weren’t there at all and sat down like he owned the place. Big Jim was amused and handled it well. He asked Heyes who he thought he was and Heyes replied, with this big smartass grin, that he was the answer to Jim’s prayers. I guess it was kind of love at first sight for the two of them, because Big Jim starting laughing and Heyes joined right in. Before the rest of us knew it, Heyes was a member of the gang.

The way Big Jim took to Heyes rubbed some of us the wrong way; especially Wheat. He was second in command, but Big Jim never treated him with much respect. Wheat was a good soldier and knew his job, but he lacked imagination. Heyes was a different story. Jim respected him right off. We pulled our first job without dynamite about two weeks after Heyes arrived. We hit the bank just before midnight and nobody knew it’d been robbed until the manager came in the next morning to find the open safe and no money. We were back to the Hole before anyone raised a posse. It was sweet and it went a long way to helping the rest of us accept Heyes.

Heyes was odd, though. They called me Lobo, but he was the lone wolf. He was friendly enough, I guess, but you never really felt like he had much interest in being a part of the gang. He didn’t hang around with the rest of us much. It was more like he figured out that it was a whole lot safer for him than riding alone, so he stayed. He always had his nose in a book. That boy read all the time. I also noticed early on that while he would talk up a blue streak about all sorts of things, he never talked about his past. I used to think he had a pa who beat him like mine did or he’d done something so awful he was trying to forget it. I tried to ask him about it, but I didn’t get anywhere.

It wasn’t long before Big Jim was calling Heyes up to the Leader’s cabin to plan jobs. Soon he’d confab with him right in front of Wheat and the rest of us. Wheat didn’t take that well at all and it began to show. He’d needle Heyes every chance he got. He liked to make fun of him in front of the gang. Little stuff, like referring to him as a snot-nosed brat, nothing big, just egging him on, but Heyes never let it bother him. I asked Heyes about it one time after we got to know each other a bit better. Heyes said that Wheat was like a school yard bully; all hot air and bluster but no action. I thought it was pretty funny, but Wheat didn’t when I told him. Wheat tried to get the rest of us to gang up with him and take Heyes down a peg or two. It didn’t work. We all knew that Heyes opening those safes the way he could, made bank robbing a whole lot safer for the rest of us; so we wanted him healthy. Wheat never did call Heyes out on his own; just kept pissing and moaning about him when he thought he had an audience. Once or twice some new guy would show up and lend an ear to what Wheat was saying. It was always fun to see one of the new boys learn the wisdom of leaving Heyes alone. For a skinny kid, he could sure put up a good fight. I guess Kyle was closest to him. Kyle likes everybody. Me? He wasn’t a friend of mine. I appreciated Heyes’s skills and, later, when Kid arrived and Heyes became leader; I really appreciated knowing they would keep me fed and my pockets full. Heck, we all appreciated that. Even Wheat.

It’s funny-- all those years Heyes and Wheat rode together they never got along that well. It was only after the Kid and Heyes went for the amnesty that things changed for Wheat. He finally got to be leader and that took a bit of the edge off him. I think he realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked. And there was that time they almost hung some kid thinking he was Kid Curry. Wheat tried to get us to ride in to bust out the Kid. I wasn’t having any of it. What had they done for me lately that I should risk my neck for them? I was still pissed at Heyes for showing up at the Hole with that lady. Big Jim had come back to the Hole after prison and had thrown Wheat out easy as pie. We’d been excited to have a good leader again. Heyes blew that for us by talking Jim into quitting the game and leaving with him and the woman. Later, we found out it wasn’t even the Kid on trial. I don’t know what the fuss was; the Kid should’ve let the idiot hang in his place. I would’ve. Kid could’ve started over. He could’ve lost that reputation he had haunting him and lived the quiet life. Wheat told us that he and Kyle did a big favor for Kid and Heyes by finding the real murderer and bringing him back so I guess it worked out okay.

I saw Wheat once, years later, and he told me that the Kid and Heyes kept in touch real regular. They’d even done a few favors for him every now and then. Who would’ve thought? I’d heard they’d sold their story for big money to some newspaper after they got their amnesty. Heyes took the money, invested it, and now he and the Kid are doing real well. Wish now I’d ridden out that day with Wheat and Kyle. I always figured Heyes would either end up rich or dead. Yeah, I said Heyes dead, not Kid. Kid was a gunslinger same as me. He knew how to control his temper. You don’t live long as a gunhawk if you don’t. Heyes isthe big risk taker. That man likes to press his luck something fierce.

It wasn’t until the Kid showed up at the Hole that we saw another side of Heyes. He’d always been a real serious kid. Those two hadn’t seen each other in a few years, but you’d never know it. Heyes was, and is, a different person when Kid is around. They’d get to being silly. Pulling pranks on each other and the rest of us and laughing their butts off. Putting mud in the coffee pot; that sort of kid stuff. Used to piss us all off. Heyes was never frivolous before Kid came in. It was a real surprise to see that side of him. It was as though, somehow, the Kid was the final piece of the puzzle that was Hannibal Heyes. That was when things really took off. Big Jim had been nailed by the law a month or two before and Heyes had taken over as leader. The vote was in his favor, but it wasn’t unanimous, if you get my drift. Kid let us know real fast that he would back Heyes’s play and that made it official. Not that there was much to complain about after. The gang did real well under Kid and Heyes. It was a shame they went for that amnesty.

I remember the night the Oakley boys rode in. They were all done in and looking for a place to stay. Heyes put them in the barn. I thought that was pretty rude of him, but later Preacher told me he was mad about their horses. I hadn’t noticed much except they looked a bit hungry. Some folks are strange about animals and Heyes is one of them. He coddles his animals and made sure we coddled ours. Why he even let that tomcat live in the cabin! Cats are filthy animals, always bringing in dead things. My Ma would’ve had a fit. But while Heyes was leader, I kept that particular opinion to myself.

Anyways, the Oakleys were fooling around in the barn that night. Just horsin’ around and Carl stuck Heyes’s cat to the wall with a knife. Now, that was a bit ugly to me, too. I don’t hold with torture, but Heyes went nuts. He beat the crap out of Carl. It scared some of the boys but not me. Hell, my Pa did worse to me when he was bored. It’s the law of the wild. You’ve got to make sure everyone knows who the alpha wolf is.

Heyes threw the Oakleys out of the Hole that night. Wheat, Kyle and me rode along to make sure they didn’t get any ideas, if you know what I mean. Walt was philosophical. He knew you don’t piss in another man’s bathtub. Sam was not so easy going. He kept going on about Heyes. Called him a crazy, sneaky sonavabitch. None of us contradicted him. Sam kept going on about what he’d do to Heyes the next time he saw him. He talked a good fight, but the boys and I smiled at each other. We’d all seen how good Sam backed Carl up. Finally, Walt himself told him to shut it.

Naturally, Carl wasn’t feeling too good, but he was doing okay. It wasn’t the first beating he’d taken for his lack of judgment and he was sitting his horse okay. He dozed a bit on the ride, but every so often, he’d look up and around at all of us and say mystified, “But, it was only a cat.”

Some folks just don’t get it.


HEYES

I’ve always had an affinity for animals. They like me and I like them. I admire anyone or anything that can love freely without reservations. Animals do that all the time. They never ask for anything in return; just the chance to please you. I can’t do that anymore. Hell, I’m not sure I ever could.

I was an only child and, while I had a lot of cousins living just down the road, I spent many hours alone caring for and playing with the various critters we had. My Pa taught me early on that it is a man’s responsibility to care for those less capable than you and I’ve tried to live by that. He’s gone now, but he taught me well.

When Carl Oakley and his brothers rode in, I knew right off I wanted nothing to do with them. I might be an outlaw, but that doesn’t mean I’m cruel. Those three had been riding hard trying to evade a posse for the better part of a week, but that didn’t account for the condition of their animals. You can drop a few hundred pounds off a horse in a short time, but you don’t get that emaciated, hollow look to them unless you’ve been neglecting them long term. I looked at their horses and then I looked at them. The Oakleys looked a little too well fed and the comparison didn’t go down well with me.

Kid saw it, too. He thinks I’m kind of silly about my critters, says I shouldn’t make pets out of them all, but he’s kind to his animals, too. I’ve seen him slipping our horses carrots and apples when he thinks I’m not looking. I make a game of letting him think I’ve almost caught him at it. Popping up behind him and startling him. Drives him nuts. I also know how Kid likes to eat and it can be downright scary to see him suck in food; but he is forever dropping little bits of meat on the floor and never quite picking them up before Lucifer gets them. Like the fastest gun in the West can’t beat a tomcat to the draw.

When the Oakley’s rode in, Kid saw what I saw and he gave me a glance. Kid’s a real good man and he doesn’t tolerate bullies at all. He was asking me if I wanted him to send them packing. I couldn’t do that as much as I wanted to; not with a posse camped outside the Hole. It would’ve been murder and I don’t hold with that. I told them to bed down in the barn instead. Walt caught the insult and narrowed his eyes at me but he could see that was all I’d offer and he took it.

That night I heard Lucifer screaming, and I up and ran towards the sound. It was coming from the barn and I knew that something terrible had happened to him. Maybe a fox had got him, but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw as I entered the barn. Lucifer was pinned to the wall by a knife and the Oakley boys were all sitting around laughing about it like it was funny in some sick way. I saw the empty sheath in Carl’s hand and I felt my temper rise. Now, normally I have no trouble controlling my temper, but this wasn’t normal. I barely held it together long enough to free Luce and pass him off to Preacher.

I’d meant to rough up Carl a bit and then throw them all out, but I lost sight of that plan real quick. I don’t really know what came over me. I’d hauled Carl to his feet and punched him a couple times. He came back at me and got in a few good licks, too. Carl started laughing and then he whispered in my ear, “Jesus, Heyes, it’s only a f**king cat. Let it go.” Like I shouldn’t care that he was torturing Luce because he was only a cat.
I felt my anger slip my control and, as though from real far away, I heard the soldiers laughing, and saying, “c’mon, he’s only a farmer. Let it go.” I saw it all again. I could smell the blood and taste the fear. I’ve had nightmares about it before, but never while I was awake. It was as though it was happening all over again and I was there all over again. I’ve never told anyone this, not even the Kid, but I saw my Pa murdered and I couldn’t stop it. I was coming through the woods and had nearly made it home when I saw the soldiers drag him out of our house and kill him. They did it in a real ugly way, too. It all happened so fast. He was dead before I realized it and it dropped me to the ground in my tracks. I’ve always felt that he saved my life by giving up his.

I guess I dropped Carl as well because when I came back to myself he was on the ground. The gang had gathered around, backing me up as they always do, but they were all looking at me real strange. Kid caught my eye and let me know it was over. I sent the Oakleys packing and put Wheat, Kyle and Lobo in charge of getting them out of the Hole alive.

I could feel the rest of the boys’ eyes on me, and I didn’t like it so I made a beeline for the cabin. Preacher was there with Lucifer and had calmed him some. Luce didn’t really like to be held. He preferred to choose his moments for human contact. Preacher had wrapped him up in the old quilt off my bed. The only things showing were his head and his tail. Preacher had forced a bit of whiskey down his throat to quiet him and it was working. I got out the medical supplies and, with Preacher’s help, cleaned Lucifer up as best I could. We couldn’t save the tip of his tail so I removed what was left of it and cauterized the stump. Funny, if you pick Luce up he’ll claw and squirm until he fights his way loose. This time he hardly twitched when we were working on him. I guess it was shock or the whiskey, but I like to think he knew we were doing our best to help him. He’s a really good cat and deserves to be treated with respect.

Finally, we were done and Preacher left. I stoked the fire real high and spent the rest of that night in the rocker in front of it with Luce on my lap. He hardly moved but I could tell he liked the feel of me stroking him so I kept at it. Kid never came back to the cabin that night. He always knows just when I need some space to sort things out and, after that night, I needed a lot of space. I was badly shaken by what I had experienced and I was ashamed of losing control. As for Carl, he got a taste of his own medicine, but I didn’t like being the one to give it. Carl is a cruel, ignorant man with no concern for the helpless. Beating him that way brought me down to his level and I hated that.

I kept to myself the next few days. Kid came round to check on me and bring me food, but I wasn’t real hungry. I had a lot running through my mind that took away my appetite. I would’ve liked to talk to Kid about it, but I didn’t feel I could. It was all I could do to keep the memories at bay. I didn’t want to drag it all up to him. He’d been there and suffered through it the first time. No sense in taking him back there with me. Talking would’ve helped me in the long run but it might’ve destroyed both of us there and then. I let him think that I was embarrassed and ashamed by my actions and was licking my wounds. I was licking wounds, just not the ones he thought.

Instead, I concentrated on Lucifer. He was a bit fevered the first couple of days, so I sat with him on my lap for most of the day thinking my thoughts and talking things over with him. He’s a real good listener and I am a talker. It was comforting and I ended up telling him everything about that day we lost our folks. Seeing the smoke, the look of my Ma after the soldiers finished with her, the look on Jed’s face when I found him. I cried a lot, too, which I never do; and I was glad to be free to. It was during that time that I realized that my efforts to heal him were healing me, too. An animal has a way of giving you just what you need the most.

The hardest part about going for the amnesty was leaving the Hole and leaving old Lucifer behind. I found a real good home for him with a widow lady I knew in Belton. She loves cats and they live well with her. I still write to her from time to time just to see how he is. She writes back to me in care of Lom.

She tells me Luce is getting on now but he still has his place on the rocker by the fire. It gives me peace to know that.



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