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 February 2012 Golden

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

PostSubject: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:34 pm

Calico:

"In honour of this being the 50th ... YES ... FIVE OH... Challenge, the February topic is (can you bear the tension??)))


GOLDEN


So - let it shine!!!"
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:45 pm

From Riders57

The Golden Parrot

“Kid, Kid! Up ahead there’s a cabin, and there’s no smoke coming from the chimney; we may be in luck.”

“About time,” rasped the Kid before he doubled over in another coughing spell that left him too weak and spent to do more than stay on his horse.

Heyes motioned for the Kid to stay put in the shadows cast by the setting sun while he crept up to the cabin to make sure it was empty. After ensuring it was, he entered and hurriedly came back to the door to signal to the Kid to bring the horses and come in. The Kid entered and flung himself on the bed in the corner, finally giving in to the cold that had been plaguing him since they had had to run from an overly observant sheriff two days earlier.

“Kid …” Heyes began.

“Don’t fuss, it’s just a cold. I’ll be fine once I warm up and get some sleep,” growled the Kid without opening his eyes.

Heyes looked at him, noting his flushed cheeks and red nose, then busied himself with starting a fire and exploring the small space inside.

“Hey look! It’s well stocked. This must be a line cabin for some ranch. Let me make us something to eat.” He bustled over to examine the supply of cans, noted the barrel of flour, and began to assemble a supper.

*****

Shortly thereafter, coming inside from seeing to the horses, he stopped to make sure supper was ready, and then gently shook the Kid. “Kid, I’ve got some beans and things for us to eat, try to get something down.”

“Lemme sleep; not hungry,” mumbled the Kid.

“You not hungry! I don’t believe it. Now get up!” Heyes commanded in his best leader’s voice.

The Kid rolled over and struggled to his feet. He knew from experience that Heyes would never leave him alone until he was satisfied that the Kid was taken care of, and he didn’t have the energy to fight him at the moment. After a few mouthfuls he swallowed the food more easily, although he declined any of Heyes’ coffee with a grimace.

“Thanks, Heyes, I do feel better; I just need to sleep.”

“Sure, Kid. Go ahead and lay down. Say did I ever tell you about the golden parrot?”

The Kid sighed, “No; that some saloon you been to without me?”

Heyes laughed, “No, Kid, the golden parrot is a great treasure. It is said to be made of gold and covered in precious stones, worth a fortune. But no one has ever seen it, except one man...”

At that point a snore interrupted him. He smiled and began to clean up and get settled for the night.

*****

The next morning, the Kid didn’t seem as feverish as he had the night before, but he growled without fully gaining consciousness when Heyes tried to wake him up for breakfast. Heyes looked at him then left him a bowl of canned peaches, a plate of biscuits, the rest of the coffee, and a note explaining that he was out taking care of chores.

*****

As Heyes entered the cabin in mid-afternoon, he heard the familiar click of a gun. “It’s just me, Kid.”

“Where have you been? I went to get up to go find you, but you hid my boots.”

“Didn’t want you wasting your strength. Your boots are on the porch. Now relax and I’ll make us some rabbit fricassee for supper.”

“Where’d you get a rabbit?”

“I can shoot, you know,” exclaimed Heyes indignantly.

“Yeah but you talk too much, scare the game away. That’s it; you probably talked it to death.”

“Glad you’re feeling better, Kid.”

“Just get me my dang boots so I can go take care of business!”

“No need to get proddy. Here.”

Upon his return, that little exertion had tired the Kid enough that he was willing to sit quietly while Heyes made supper.

After supper they played a couple of hands of blackjack before the Kid’s yawns made it impossible to go on.

“Would you go to bed?” growled Heyes.

“I’m not… YAWN… Oh all right,”

Once he was settled back down in the bed, he looked over at Heyes.

“Did you tell me something about some yella bird last night, Heyes?”

“The golden parrot.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, Kid, like I told you last night it’s a priceless statue made of gold and encrusted with gems. Only one man has ever seen it.”

“Who? Oh, the guy who made it I guess.”

“No, Kid. Okay one other person has seen it.”

“So if only these two people have seen it, how do you know about it?”

“It’s famous, Kid, a legend, like the lost city of gold.”

“Which is it Heyes a bird or a city?”

“Sheesh, Kid. I said it was a parrot, not a city. I was just saying the golden parrot was a legend like the city… Oh never mind.”

“You’re the one who mentioned some lost city. If it’s lost how does anyone know it exists?”

“The city…” Heyes ran his hand through his hair. “Look, do you want to hear about the golden parrot or don’t you?”

“Sure, Heyes, go ahead I got nothin’ else to do ‘cept sleep.”

“Okay so there have been stories for ages of the golden parrot, but no one had seen it. Or at least no one who had seen it had lived to tell the tale.”

“I thought you said there was one guy who had seen it and he must have lived. There had to have been at least one who lived or there wouldn’t be any stories about it. Maybe two people saw it and one died.”

“Kid!”

“Well you ain’t makin’ any sense, Heyes,” the Kid grumbled, his eyes closing.

“So the stories about the golden parrot came from the man who had made it.”

“Well that’s dumb; what’s he doin’ talkin’ about it? Somebody might steal it from him if it was really made outta gold.”

“Would you stop interrupting?”

“No need to get proddy, Heyes. Sheesh.”

“The man who made the parrot talked too much and it was stolen. After that the stories grew up about the golden bird covered in gems. But no one knew what had become of it…”

A snore interrupted him. Exasperated he glared at the sleeping Kid, his gaze softening as he watched.

*****

The following morning, the Kid woke up to have breakfast with Heyes.

“How you feeling, Kid?”

“Much better. I can even drink your coffee. We should head on out today; you never know when the owner might show”

Heyes looked at him. He was looking much better, but he was still a little pale, his eyes still runny.

“Let’s stay one more day. While we’re here we might as well mend the tack. Maybe I’ll do some more hunting today and get us some fresh meat.”

The Kid, who was still tired, although he wasn’t about to admit it to Heyes, agreed readily.

He spent the day working on the tack, while Heyes hunted them up some supper – finally returning with a duck.

*****

After supper they played a few more hands of blackjack, then the Kid, tired from his exertions that day decided to go to bed.

“Heyes,”

“Yeah, Kid?”

“You gonna tell me what happened to the bird?”

“The duck? I shot it, what did you think happened to it?”

“No, that silly pelican you been tellin’ me about.”

“Parrot, Kid, a golden parrot.”

“Yeah that. So what happened to it?”

“Well I told you last night that it was stolen.”

“Yeah and no one ever saw it again.”

“Don’t interrupt.”

“Sorry.”

“Anyway, the thief wasn’t the one who saw it and lived. He died and no one knew where he hid the parrot. That is until the dread pirate Roberts found it…”

“Robert? Who ever heard of a pirate named Robert? They have names like Blackbeard, and Captain Blood, and such -- not Robert!”

“Kid! I said don’t interrupt. The pirate’s name is Roberts, not Robert, and he’s the most feared pirate in the world. That’s why they call him the dread pirate Roberts.”

“Roberts. Might as well call him somethin’ real dumb like Westley, for all the dread that name creates. If he’s so famous, how come I never heard of him?”

“You never heard of the golden parrot either. And no one would fear the dread pirate Westley.” He stopped and glared at the Kid, who was lying back with his eyes closed and, possibly, a slight smirk about his mouth.

“Anyway, the dread pirate Roberts was the most feared pirate to roam the seven seas…”

“Are there really only seven seas, Heyes? What are they? I remember hearin’ about that in school and always wondered.”

“Yeah there are only seven. I think. You really want to know what they are? Well there’s the Caribbean – that’s by Florida, and the Mediterranean – that’s in Europe, and the, the… It don’t matter none Kid. Stop interrupting!”

He heard a sound from the Kid that might have been an apology and might have been a snort. He ignored it.

“So the pirate,” he carefully did not say the name, “heard the stories about the golden parrot and determined that he would move heaven and earth to find it…”

A gentle snore once again interrupted the flow. He stared in amazement at the Kid, sleeping peacefully, and muttered to himself, before giving up and going to bed.

*****

The next day was clear and warmer than it had been. They packed up, cleaned up the cabin, and left.

After they had been riding for several hours, the Kid called out to Heyes,

“Heyes, you ever going to finish that story you were tellin’ me?”

“What story, Kid?”

“About the golden parrot?”

“No.”

“No? Oh, come on; at least tell me what it is.”

Heyes looked back and studied the Kid through narrowed eyes. He noted the twinkle in the Kid’s eyes and his easy breathing. He thought about the past few days and sighed.

“What is the golden parrot, Kid? It’s the, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”



(Message edited by Riders57 On 02/03/2012 3:56 PM)

Date Posted:02/02/2012 3:35 PM


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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:55 pm

From Silverkelpie

I googled ‘Golden’ and found a town in Colorado of that name where they mined gold...

Golden

Babylonia Brown had always hated her name. It had been chosen by her father, a Quaker, inspired by women like Elizabeth Fry and Susan B. Anthony. He was determined that his daughter should have the kind of sobriquet which would mark her out as a dauntless Amazon; a woman with enough character to cut swathes through any element of society. Not that she actually used that name; her intimate family had called her ‘Baby,’ whilst her friends preferred to use the pet name of ‘Loni.’

Quaker women were encouraged to become leaders of groups and grand innovators; but whilst they were equals at home and in church, they were not in the world at large. Improving the lot of others on this earth was a preparation for the next; indeed, it was seen as a moral duty. In the Colorado town of Golden, there was ample opportunity to do good. The more gold was there was to be mined, the more people were ‘convinced’ to give up their stakes. Very few were brave enough to take a stand against the tyrants, but the late William Brown had been one of them.

Looking down at the sad box of possessions she knew that she had always been a disappointment to her father. She was a mild, meek woman, who had only ever wanted to be a wife and mother, but it was time to be brave and take a stand at last. The knowledge that her visit to the mayor would trigger a series of events that could only place her in great danger filtered through her terrified brain. Was she really strong enough to see this through?

She aimlessly dropped her hand into the box. Things. Everyday stuff; the minutiae of life. It was strange how worthless mere possessions suddenly became in the face of death. She picked up his pipe, feeling the dimpled surface of the bowl under sensitive fingertips, before she raised it to her nose and sucked in a deep breath. The smell hit her like a brick wall; a visceral reaction which pinwheeled in her psyche, forcing memories and grief to surge to the fore. She gulped down an acrid, rasping breath, swallowing away the tears she simply couldn’t allow to flow. There was too much to do.

Her stomach flipped at sudden sound coming from the back door. What was that? Scratching? Rapping? She opened it tentatively, peering out into the darkness, but her heart leapt into her mouth as a man stepped from the shadows, into the trapezoid of light falling from the doorway.

“Ma’am? Is Mr. Brown there? We’ve come.”

Loni looked into a pair of deep blue eyes before her gaze dropped to the tied down gun and felt her panic start to spiral. What could she do? In an unthinking moment of terror she moved to slam the door but the man stepped forward and put a foot in the way before dragging her protectively outside. Gun drawn, he quickly established that there was no one else in the kitchen. She let out a little cry and dropped to her knees at the sight of another armed man invading her home.

The dark one kept to the walls, providing cover, before he flashed brown eyes in her direction. “Where are they, Ma’am?” he hissed.

“Who?” she whimpered, crouching by the door.

The pair shared a look of confusion before the one the dishwater blond whispered. “The men? Have they got your father in another room?”

“My father...” she started to tremble. “He’s dead. What do you want?” Tears started to stream down her face. “Just leave me alone, please!

His brow furrowed. “Is anyone else here?”

“No! I’m the only one left.”

The men gave a curt nod, working like a well-oiled machine, moving in unison to check out the entire house with drawn weapons, before they returned to the kitchen, satisfied that the building was secure.

Loni was still cowering in the same place, staring at them with huge, moist, green eyes, her face pale against her auburn hair. The fair one approached her tentatively, smiling gently.

“Ma’am, I’m real sorry. You looked so frightened I was sure someone must have a gun on you.” He crouched and stretched out a hand. “Let me help you up.”

She made no move, other than to recoil further into the nook, her gaze darting yet again to the gun he wore. “What do you want?”

“My name is Thaddeus Jones, and this is my partner Joshua Smith. Your Pa sent for us.”

She shook her head in confusion. “My father? Why would he send for you?”

“You said he was dead, Ma’am,” the dark man gave her a frown of concern. “What happened?”

“He was shot.”

“I guess we’re too late. When did it happen?”

“What business is it of yours? Get out!”

“Miss Brown, your pa sent for us. He needed some protection to get you both out of town.”

Loni slammed them with an accusing stare. “He would never do that! He was truly committed to his work.”

The dark man reached into his pocket and pulled out a telegram. “He did send for us, Miss. He was very afraid for you.”

He held it out to her until she reached out a hand and snatched at it. The fair man stood up, eyeing her curiously as he pulled out a chair and sat. “We ain’t gonna hurt you, Miss. Why don’t you come out of that corner and sit down?”

She climbed uneasily to her knees. “He would never leave. He was driven to get justice for those people... That’s why he was killed.”

Heyes gestured towards a seat. “We know he was a lawyer who was representing people who had their land grabbed illegally. We were recommended to him by a mutual friend of the governor. I understand your mother and brother were killed a couple of weeks ago, when their surrey was shot up. Everyone thought that your father was the target, and that your brother was mistaken for him in the dark.”

“I’m real sorry. You’ve had a real hard time.” Kid sat back. “We’ve got to get you out of here. Do you know this house is bein’ watched?”

She stood at last, her heart thumping, facing the men who had invaded her home. “Anyone could have sent this telegram. How do I know who you really are?”

Heyes gave her a quizzical look. “Miss, I’m sorry for your loss, but I need to know why anyone would be watching you. Surely the case would have died with him?”

“I’ve no idea.”

The partners watched her guilty face colour from the neck up. “You’ve gotta be the worst liar I ever met in my life,” murmured Kid. “That’s to your credit I suppose, but we need to know what those men want. They ain’t hangin’ about out there on the off-chance of enjoyin’ your company.”

Loni bit into her lip, her heart simmering with trepidation and suspicion. “He’d never run away from this. I don’t believe you!”

Heyes nodded. “There’s a world of difference between running away and retreating to re-group. A good general will try to pick a battleground where they have the advantage. Maybe he needed to take them on somewhere safer?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s over. All of it.”

Blue eyes met brown, exchanging a cynical smile. “Really? It seems to me that somebody wants something from you,” Heyes replied, archly, “otherwise they wouldn’t go to the trouble of posting two men outside your house. Let’s face it; it wouldn’t take two men to control you, or to kill you. They’re there for another reason. Why don’t you tell me what that is, so I can help you?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” she snapped.

The blond one twinkled beguilingly at her. “We need to know what you’re up against so we can look after you.”

Heyes stood. “Miss Brown, your father was a lawyer, representing poor folks against the local mayor. If he’s gone and they’re still around, I’m guessing that there’s some real incriminating evidence somewhere, and they want to be sure it’s destroyed. Am I right?”

“I don’t know and I’m leaving here tomorrow. Get out!”

Kid shook his head remorsefully. “We’d be sorry excuses for men if we walked out of here and left you to fend for yourself against folks who have wiped out your whole family. No offence, Miss, but you didn’t even have the sense to hightail it out the back while we checked out the house.”

Her eyes widened. “Are you refusing to go?”

Heyes’ eyes softened. “We are, Miss Brown, unless you agree to come with us.”

“Come with you? Men who forced their way into my home? What kind of an idiot do you think I am?”

“You ain’t an idiot, Ma’am. You’re scared and rightly so. If we were gonna hurt you, we’d have done it already. You pa was real worried about you, you were all he had left.”

She glowered at Kid. “You could be here to find out what I know.”

“We could, I suppose,” reasoned Heyes. “But why is it so unlikely that your father wanted to do something to keep you safe?

“We... We weren’t close. It wasn’t easy to be around him.”

Kid snorted. “And you think that means he wouldn’t care if you died!? Sorry, Ma’am but we ain’t goin’ anywhere until you’ve got the sense to come with us.”

**********

“What do you think, Heyes?”

They both glanced at the bedroom door, where Loni had retreated before locking the door. They had heard the scrapping and dragging of furniture being piled in front of the door before they sauntered to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee.

“She’s terrified,” Heyes sighed. “Who could blame her? In the last month she’s seen her whole family systematically slaughtered. “No wonder she doesn’t trust anyone. I suppose we’ve got to make sure that she can leave in the morning. Why didn’t he tell her we were coming?”

“She wouldn’t even take a gun,” muttered Kid, “says it’s against her religion. I don’t like her being holed up in that room on her own. What if they come in through the window?”

“I don’t think they’ll act tonight. They want the evidence, not her. They’ll follow her to see where she goes, where she might hide it.”

Kid arched his eyebrows. “Want me to take care of the pair outside?”

Heyes shook his head. “They think she’s on her own. Let’s keep it that way until we have to show our hand.”

“We could just take her out of here,” reasoned Kid. “It’s dark.”

“Against her will? I never thought I’d hear you suggest that!”

“Look, we’re good, but we can’t stop a bullet. She just shouldn’t be here and that all there is to it.”

Heyes nodded solemnly. “Let’s try it the easy way first. If she’s still here this time tomorrow...” he shrugged, “I guess we’ll just have to do whatever it takes.”

“Fine,” grumbled Kid. “Let’s just hope that ain’t too late.”

*********

Loni looked tired and washed out as she poked a tentative head around the door. Kid raised his coffee cup and gave her a warm smile. “Mornin’. Come in. The coffee’s good,” he darted an amused glance across the kitchen. “I made it.”

“Are you still here?”

“Sure am. Breakfast?”

She glowered at him and shook her head. “I told you. I’m leaving today.”

Kid blinked at her. “Yeah, but you still gotta eat.”

“You may have to. I don’t. My train leaves in half an hour. I’m going now,” She bent back into the bedroom and lifted a carpet bag before she continued in a voice laden with angst. “Keep the house. It’s a miserable place to me. I can’t wait to get out of here.”

She strode to the door, the bright, caustic sunshine cutting into the hallway, somehow making the corners even murkier.

“Miss Brown...”

She turned. “Goodbye, whoever you are. I only want to find some peace. Please let me.” The door closed firmly behind her.

“Heyes!” hissed Kid as Heyes looked up from his breakfast. “We gotta get after her. Leave that.”

**********

Loni clattered her way down the wooden sidewalk, the bag swinging at her side giving the impression of more insouciance than she felt. Her green eyes fixed on the wiry man on the other side of the road, tracking her, stalking her like prey, every step of the way. He gave a meaningful nod to someone on her side of the road. She followed the gaze of the mean, currant eyes until she found herself looking into a pair of chilling, crystal-blue diamonds. “Carry your bag, Ma’am?”

Her breath started to come in rapid gulps of air and she rattled her head from side to side in denial. “No, thank you.”

She pulled back from the hand grasping the handle, but his arm stiffened like iron. “Let go! I have a train to catch.”

A smile played over the stranger’s thin lips. “Aw, come on. I’m just offerin’ to help.”

“The lady said, ‘No,’” barked an authoritative voice behind her.

She turned. The one called Jones was standing stock-still, his gaze holding the stranger’s eyes captive in an icy challenge. The man stepped back, dropping his hands down by his sides whilst a menacing smile played over his lips.

“Just walk away, Stranger.”

Kid arched his eyebrows. “Maybe it’d be better for everyone if you walked away. The lady doesn’t want your help. She couldn’t have been clearer.”

“She’ll want what I tell her,” he flicked a glint of steel at her. “Stay where you are! I ain’t done with you, Woman!”

Heyes stepped forward, putting a protective arm around her shoulder. “You’re done. She’s not interested. Come on, Miss Brown.”

“Stay out of this, Friend. This lady has some business that needs takin’ care of, before she goes anywhere.”

Kid shook his head. “She ain’t interested. Get out of the way.”

The man’s fingers twitched beside the handle of his gun. “Are you really this stupid? She won’t give the likes of you the time of day. Is she worth dying over?”

“A good question. Is she?” Kid tilted his head. “You’re full of big talk, but scarin’ a woman is easy. How about takin’ on someone your own size?”

“You don’t wanna do this, Stanger. I seriously doubt you’re good enough.”

Kid’s jaw clenched. “If you were that good, I’d know you. It doesn’t take much to be the fastest in a town this size. Walk away and leave the lady be. There’s no need for any trouble.”

The man gave a resigned sigh. “I guess you just can’t tell some people. Come on, draw.”

Kid shook his head. “Nope. We’re on the sidewalk. Step out into the road where we can’t hit anyone else.”

His opponent gave a nod of acquiescence and took up a position in the middle of the road. “What are you waitin’for? Are you a coward?”

Heyes groaned and pulled Loni back against the wall, out of range, before Kid strode out to face the gunman. “It ain’t too late. You can just walk away and let the lady catch her train.”

“Draw!”

Kid shook his head. “Nope. Joshua, take the lady to catch her train.”

“I said, draw!”

Kid folded his arms. “Nope. We just want the lady to pass.”

The gunman gave a sort of exasperation. “Stop messin’ me about. Draw!”

There was one fact on which the witnesses were all agreed. The mayor’s man drew first. One minute the tall newcomer was standing with his arms folded and then his opponent grasped the handle of his gun. There was a flurry of gunshots, nobody could state exactly how many, before a bloody body lay in a crumpled heap in the road. There were screams and a male voice shouting, ‘Thaddeus!’ With their attention drawn to the sidewalk, folks suddenly noticed the tumbled heap of bloody petticoats slumped against a bloodstained wall.

“Get a doctor, she’s been shot!” bellowed Heyes.

“How!?” Kid bounded towards them, his eyes drinking in the huge wound in Loni’s chest. “A shot from the front. Whoever shot her was standing across the road. Who shot you, Miss Brown?”

Loni’s eyes flickered and waned as she groaned weakly. “The evidence... They wanted to stop the evidence.”

“Shhh... Save your strength,” murmured Heyes.

“No... It’s hidden under his nose. It can still be used. It’s in the last place the mayor would ever think of looking.” She weakly gripped Heyes’ hand. “Get it. Take it to the governor. Promise me!” The partners shared a look of desperation. The life force was ebbing from Loni’s pale face. “I only wanted to make him proud,” she grimaced in pain. “Please! Get it!”

Heyes stroked her blood spattered cheek. “Where is it?”

Her voice dropped to a mere whisper. “I put it... It’s in...” She suddenly convulsed, caught in a spasm of agony until she let out one long rasping breath, before the spark in her eyes spiralled into a final dark oblivion.

A woman’s voice whispered in Heyes’ ear. “She’s dead. She’s gone. May God bless her soul.”

Heyes stood up and walked over to the tethering post, rubbing his tense, stony face.

“You couldn’t have known” whispered Kid, grasping the guilt eating his partner.

He turned a tormented face on his cousin. “We should have taken her out of here. I should have listened to you.”

Kid laid a hand on his shoulder. “She wouldn’t have come.”

“We should have made her. She’d be alive.” Heyes stared at a splatter of her blood on his sleeve with haunted eyes. “We owe her. We got to finish this for her. They’ve got to pay.”


(Message edited by silverkelpie On 02/18/2012 8:43 AM)

Date Posted:02/05/2012 11:14 AM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:04 pm

From Maz McCoy

Golden
By Maz McCoy
“What do you think it is?” Kid asked and shifted in the saddle before leaning an arm on his saddle horn.
Heyes’ eyes narrowed as he focussed on the object glinting in the sun some way below them on the valley floor.
“I don’t know.”
“Metal?”
“Maybe.”
“Glass?”
“Could be.”
“Gold?”
Heyes turned to look at his friend who now had one leg hooked over the saddle horn, his manner relaxed for the first time in a week.
“If it is, it’ll be the biggest nugget I’ve seen.”
“Could be a whole pile of gold just left there by a forgetful miner.”
“You been leaving your hat off in the sun again?”
Kid smiled.
“Just glad to have something else to think about other than watching my back for a posse.”
Heyes sat up straight in the saddle.
“How ‘bout we go take a look?”
Kid returned his feet to the stirrups and tightened the reins.
“After you.”

***

“What would you do if it was?” Kid asked as his horse followed Heyes’ through a stand of trees.
“If what was what?” his partner called over his shoulder.
“A pile of gold. Just left there.”
“Well, first I’d have you pinch me to check I wasn’t asleep and dreamin’.”
“And then?”
“Then I’d look around to see if the owner was still about.”
“Let’s assume he isn’t.”
“Convenient.”
“So, what then?”
“Depends on how much is in the pile.”
“Several bars.”
“Hmm.” Heyes ducked as the horse led them under the low branches of a tree. “How many is several?”
“Say, twenty.” Kid ducked too as his horse followed.
“Regular size bars?”
“Yep.”
“Guess I’d put them in my saddle bags.”
“Would you tell anyone? That you found them?”
“Am I alone when I find them or is my annoying partner with me?”
“Let’s assume that he’s…” Kid shoved a branch out of his face. “…Off somewhere in the arms of a beautiful woman.”
“This really is a fantasy then.”
“Funny, Heyes. So, do you tell anyone?”
“Well, Kid that’s a difficult question.”
“No it ain’t.”
“It is. ‘Cos I have to know is this me before we decided to try for our amnesty or after?”
“Why’s it make a difference?”
“’Cos before we went straight I was a thief! You leave gold bars lying around and I’m gonna take ‘em.” He pushed a large branch out of the way. “Branch, look out.” He let it bounce back and Kid waited before following his friend through the gap and down a shallow incline. “But now… Now I’m an honest man and those gold bars don’t belong to me. Now I have a quandary.”
“A what?”
"Quandary.”
“That Spanish?”
“English. It’s a dilemma. A difficult choice.”
“So do you take ‘em or not?”
“I take ‘em.”
“D’you tell anyone?” Heyes didn’t answer. They immerged into a clearing and Heyes pulled his horse to a stop. Kid drew alongside him. “Heyes?”
“I don’t know. I’d hafta sell the gold. So I’d need a good story as to how I came by them.”
“You tellin’ me you’re worried your silver tongue would let you down?”
“No.” Kid remained quiet. He could see Heyes thinking. “I keep them and I don’t tell anyone. Cash them in as soon as I can ‘cos it’d be difficult carrying that amount of gold around.”
Heyes kicked his horse and they started off again, riding side by side in companionable silence for a while.
“What about me?” Kid asked as they reached a stream and allowed their horses to drink.
“What about you?” Heyes removed his hat and wiped his forehead before replacing his hat.
“Do you tell me?”
“Do I tell you what?”
“That you found the gold.”
“We still on that?”
“Got nothin’ else to talk about.” He leaned forward and gave the animal’s neck a pat.
Heyes looked around. Nothing moved in the trees and the only sounds were the babbling stream and a bird high in a nearby tree.
“Heyes?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Kid stared at his partner. “You just found a pile of gold and you don’t know if you’d tell me or not?”
“That’s right.” He pulled on the reins and urged his horse into the water.
Kid kicked his horse and caught up to his friend.
“You wouldn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t say that. I said I didn’t know if I’d tell you.”
“Some partner you are!” Kid looked affronted.
“Well, where were you when I found it? Off with some woman. I had to carry them all by myself. Maybe we’re not friends anymore. Maybe we split up; had a fallin’ out. Maybe that’s why you aren’t there.”
“You think that’s gonna happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you obviously think it’s possible.”
“Kid, anything is possible.”
“Yeah, well maybe it happened before. Maybe you came into some money another time and didn’t tell me. Maybe that’s why we fell out.”
“I didn’t say we’d fallen out…”
“Well we soon would when I found out about the gold and you hadn’t told me.”
“All right! I’d tell you!”
“It’s too late now!”
“I’d tell you. As soon as we met up, I’d tell you!”
“Ha!” Kid kicked his horse on leaving Heyes to follow. The dark haired man sighed.
They were on the valley floor by the time Heyes caught up with Kid.
“You’re not seriously mad at me are you?” he asked as he pulled alongside his friend.
The blond man gave his partner a quick glance.
“You would tell me right?”
“Yes, I would tell you. You know I would tell you.”
“Cos you know I’d tell you.”
“I know. I know, you’d tell me.”
“Then I’m not mad.”
Heyes smiled.
“Glad to hear it.” A flash of light up ahead caught their attention. They quickened the horses pace.

***

“At least it’s not a pile of gold bars,” Heyes mused.
“Yeah. I’d hate to hafta fall out with you again.”
Heyes smiled.
“How far d’you think we are from Twin Rivers?”
Kid thought about it.
“Half a day.”
“How much money you got?”
Kid reached into his vest pocket and pulled out some coins. He held his hand out to show Heyes.
“We’ve got enough for a good meal and a room.”
“And they have a saloon.”
The two men exchanged a look.
“Which way?”
Kid pointed to his right. Heyes nodded and they set off leaving the battered but shiny copper kettle lying where they’d found it.


(Message edited by MazMcCoy On 02/06/2012 6:42 PM)
Before breakfast?
Date Posted:02/06/2012 6:37 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:40 pm

From Silverkelpie

These are all the clues you get before I post the solution. You now have enough clues to form a posse and find the evidence before the mayor. bandit

Oh dear, I seem to have set fire to my hat!


Golden Part II

“Hands up! The pair of you.”

They turned. Three men held them at gunpoint, one peering menacingly over the sights of a rifle.

“Easy! Keep them up. You’re fast, but you ain’t faster than a finger already on a trigger,” barked the grizzled man with the star on his chest.

Heyes sighed. “He did everything he could, Sheriff. He refused to draw, time after time until he had to defend himself.”

A grey, wiry little woman stepped forward. “He did, Sheriff. I saw it! I saw it all,” she threw out an arm and eyed him in naked challenge. “They tried to help Loni. Everyone saw. If you want to do anything, you should be looking for the man who shot her in cold blood.”

A bushy eyebrow shot up in exasperation. “Keep outta this. Just ‘cos your husband’s the preacher don’t mean he runs the town, Eliza.”

“More’s the pity! These men acted to help her and in he fired in self-defence. Where were you? You got here fast enough once it was too late.”

“Shut it, Eliza!” Kid bristled at the lawman. “You! Drop them guns. Both of you.”

Heyes and Curry reluctantly let their weapons fall to the ground as Heyes’ verbosity leapt into action. “We stumbled on that man bothering a woman. My partner here just wasn’t going to stand back and let that happen. He drew last; fair and square, but if you’re going to take us in you’d better contact the Governor of Wyoming. We’re only here because we’re working for him. He’ll want to know where we are.”

Heyes’ point seemed to land and the sheriff lowered his gun slightly. “Governor?”

A pair of determined brown eyes hooked the sheriff’s. “Yup. This isn’t going to be kept in town, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’ll dispatch lawyers, and if he thinks his employees are being railroaded it could go all the way. He won’t let this lie. Contact sheriff Lom Trevors in Porterville if you don’t believe me.”

There was the clearing of throats and shuffling of feet as the guns started to lower. “I reckon he’s right, Sheriff. Folks say that Joe drew first and the other one couldn’t have done anythin’. He was beside her and everyone says that she was shot from across the road. Best let them go.”

The sheriff holstered his gun. “What you doin’ here? What business has the governor of Wyoming got in Golden?”

“None,” Heyes smiled charmingly. “We’re passing through.”

“Really? Where to? What you doin’?”

“We’re not at liberty to disclose that,” Heyes replied, archly. “You could ask the governor yourself – but then I guess he’ll want to know why you arrested us. We’ll have to tell him all about this.”

“Hey! I ain’t arrested you. Two folks are dead. I wouldn’t be doin’ my duty if I didn’t ask questions, would I?”

“I guess not,” muttered Heyes. “Do you mind if we pick up our weapons and get out of here?”

“I think the mayor would want to meet real important visitors to our town like you two, especially after all this. We wouldn’t want you gettin’ the wrong impression of Golden, would we? Come with me, but we’ll look after your guns.”

Kid gave the lawman a look that hit him like an icicle in the heart. “I bet her family’s real glad you’re on the case, eh? A man like you makes a real difference to a town.”


**********


The ante-room to the mayor’s office was a clutter of porcelain, silk screens and lacquered furniture, a testament to the Victorian craze for anything oriental other than immigrating humanity. Chinese labourers could only dream of such luxurious surroundings.

Kid gawped at the creature sitting back on his haunches; a large open-mouthed, boggled eyed beast with a florid mane, the left paw resting on a globe. He placed a hand on its head. At about four feet high it was the biggest pottery animal he had ever seen. “What is it?”

The mayor’s secretary stood. “Apparently it’s called a ‘foo dog,’ he gestured towards the statue’s partner resting at the other side of the door. “That’s his missus. They come as a pair.”

Kid’s frowned. “Ugly critters, ain’t they?”

The little man with the patent leather hair grimaced. “Horrible. I wouldn’t give them house room, but I have to sit here all day with them big mouths lollin’ open at me. It’s the mayor. He loves ‘chinwoyseree.’ I think it means he got fashionable bad taste. That’s why there’s them dragons all over the place. What’s wrong with a stuffed bear or a nice elephant’s foot umbrella stand? Some folk got no style.”

“What are they for?”

“For? They ain’t for nothin’ but gatherin’ dust. Take seat. He won’t be long,” his eyes darted to the bell jingling on a spiral coil above the set of double doors. “That’s him now, I’ll be right back.”

The dapper, little figure disappeared into the next room as both men relaxed on ornately carved chairs. Kid leaned back, his head against the printed wallpaper, and stared aimlessly at the ceiling. Heyes gazed at his partner, understanding the undercurrents bubbling in the deep blue eyes.

“How you doing, Thaddeus?”

Kid’s Adam’s apple slid up and down in profile before he spoke. “Fine, I guess.” There was a long pause before he continued. “Why do they do it? I wanted him to walk away. I did my best.”

Heyes nodded. “I know. It looks like someone had the idea of using the shootout as cover. Why didn’t I think of that and at least get her into a building?”

“Because you ain’t that kind of sick in the head.”

Heyes let out a long slow breath. “So. We gotta meet the mayor. Wonder what he’s got to say?”

The double doors stared to open. “I think we’re about to find out, Joshua. Keep your wits about you. I get the feelin’ we’ve never needed them more.”


**********


Edward Meagher nodded at the two men before he took a fat cigar from the humidor on the oversized desk and started clipping the end. His failure to offer them one, coupled the lawmen outside, told Heyes and Curry all they need to know about their status as ‘guests.’

“Take a seat,” he sat back on his own chair, swivelling nonchalantly. “You work for the governor of Wyoming and your names are Smith and Jones? Do I detect some aliases here?”

Heyes folded his right leg over his left and began bluffing for his life. “I have no way of knowing what you detect, Mr. Meagher. I’ll tell you the same as I told the sheriff. We’re passing through town on business and got caught up in a killing. If you ask me, that shootout was provoked to cover premeditated murder. Their only mistake was in picking on someone who was better than they were.”

“Hmm, way better, from what I hear.” Meagher scanned Kid with pebble eyes. “You’re real fast.”

Kid shook his head. “Nope. The other guy was just real slow.”

“He wasn’t that slow. He was an employee of mine.”

Kid snorted. “He was bullyin’ a woman in the street. Was he doin’ that for you, or was he on his own time?”

The mayor gave a crescent smile, but the set of the receding jaw reminded Heyes of the sharks he had seen in an encyclopaedia. “He called you out? More fool him. Just where did you develop those skills, Mr...?”

“Jones, Thaddeus Jones. I ain’t got any special skills. Maybe he was havin’ a bad day?”

Meagher nodded. “I’d agree with you there, Mr. Jones. His day was as about bad as they come.”

“Did you know the dead woman too?” asked Heyes.

Meagher arched his eyebrows. “I knew her father. Poor girl, she told me only yesterday she was leaving town. Her family seem to have made some enemies and have all died rather tragically. If my man was involved in that it’s a good job he was killed. It saves me the bother of hanging him.”

“She was here?”

“Oh, yes. Yesterday afternoon. I told her that I’d do everything I could to help her.” He struck a match and puffed at his cigar, the glowing end illuminating with each suck. “Terrible business. Did you know her?”

Heyes looked the mayor straight in the eyes. “Never saw her before in my life.”

Meagher cast some pensive smoke rings in their direction. “Well. All things considered, I’d best let you get on your way. I’m sure you don’t want to hang about Golden for any longer than is necessary. You’re passing through? Take some advice and keep going. You can collect your side arms from the sheriff at the door.”


**********


“What’s the plan?”

Heyes glanced at the sheriff dogging their steps from across the road. “We leave town and search her house after dark. She said it’s right under his nose. It’s in town somewhere.”

“Ain’t that the first place they’ll look?”

“After her bag, yes. But we gotta start somewhere.”

“Ahem!”

They turned; the guttural attention seeking came from a slim, pale, young man dressed in a plain, charcoal suit. He fingered his crisp, white collar and nodded curtly. “Excuse me, I was told that you tried to help Miss Brown?”

Heyes narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Yes. Why?”

“My name is Herbert Fry. I’m... She was... my fiancé.”

Kid swallowed hard. The pain in the man’s eyes and his slump of hopelessness was all too familiar. “I’m sorry. I wish we could have done somethin’. We were tryin’ to look after her.” He paused, floundering for the right words to ease death’s sting. There was simply nothing he could add.

Herbert nodded and cast his eyes down to the street. “I wanted to thank you for trying,” he gulped emotionally. “I tried to sneak her out of here, but she wouldn’t have it. She said they had to see her leave, it was part of her plan.”

Heyes frowned. “Plan? She knew they’d try to kill her?”

“I think so, now.” Herbert let out a gasping sob. “She didn’t tell me that. I wouldn’t have allowed it.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged an astounded look. “Why would she do that? Why would anyone do that?”

“She felt she had to take up her father’s fight for him. If she’d disappeared they’d have killed witnesses, so she had to let them steal the evidence she put in her bag... but it’s fake. I was so afraid for her I got the overnight train here.” The young man visibly trembled. “I was too late.”

Heyes turned away, rubbing his face. “She could have found a better way. Good God, we’d have helped her.” A thought hit him. “We made it worse, oh God, no! If they’d got the bag...”

The young Quaker shuffled uncomfortably. “Indeed. He is good. It just doesn’t always feel that way.”

Kid let out a long, low whistle. “What an incredible woman! She did this to protect the witnesses?”

Herbert nodded. “Humanity shone from her like a beacon. The moment I laid eyes on her I knew that God had made a partner for me.” His voice cracked with pain. “But now... What am I to do? What is there left?”

Kid placed a comforting hand on Heyes’ heaving shoulder. This was going from bad to worse. “Mr. Fry, I’m real sorry, but we’ve been told we gotta get out of town.”

Herbert cast despairing grey eyes up the main street. “Sure, you should go.” He turned, releasing a great sigh of grief.

“Mr. Fry,” Heyes hesitated, “just what have you got planned now?”

“Oh, I don’t know...”

Kid flicked up an eyebrow. You ain’t gonna do anythin’ stupid, are you? Because if anyone did that to my girl...”

Herbert stiffened. “I am a Quaker! We use peaceful means at all times. I would rather die than kill!"

Heyes rubbed his face. “I was afraid you’d say that. Mr. Fry, we want to help. Mr. Brown hired us to get them both out of here. Can you come with us? We really need to talk.”

Herbert shook his head. “I don’t know you. I simply can’t.”

Heyes flicked up an eyebrow and fixed the young man with a determined stare. “Look! So far two people have died, and I now know that the only reason we’ve been allowed to walk out of here is because the mayor thinks he’s killed the evidence, along with anyone else who got in his way. Now you show up. This isn’t going to end well and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand back and let another innocent blunder into this situation. Mr. Fry, either you come with us or we take you out of here; any way we have to.”

“But..."

Heyes cut him off. “I think life is sacred too, and that includes yours. It’s not going to take Meagher long to find out that evidence is fake. You’re coming with us. Got that?”

“Excuse me!” A lanky man popped his head out of the door of a nearby building. “You were at the shooting today, weren’t you? Do you mind if I take a statement from you for the Weekly Bugle? It’s the local newspaper.”

Kid looked across the road to Meagher’s office, where the sheriff still glowered suspiciously from the sidewalk. “Go away! Leave us be.”

“Aah, a straight talking man. People who get straight to the point make for wonderfully pithy quotes.”

Kid bridled at him. “I ain’t in the mood.”

The journalist was not that easily put off. “But this story could sell all over the country. Don’t you want to think of folks in New York reading your homespun wisdom? They love a western hero who calls a spade a spade. Please! It’ll take ten minutes.”

Kid fixed him with a hard stare. “I don’t call it a spade when I’ve tripped over one in the dark. That’s the only kind of language you’ll get from me at the moment. Take a tellin’ and go away!”

Heyes smiled and turned back to Herbert. “Well? Are you a volunteer or a conscript? I’m not leaving you in Golden. You won’t last ten minutes. Decide!”


**********


They sat around the campfire swilling strong coffee, each man haunted by their own personal demons. It was only noon, but this day seemed to spiral downwards to disaster with every fading second. Just how were they supposed to protect a man as idealistic as Herbert from himself? He had lost everything but his promise of heaven. The partners played events over and over in their mind’s eye, but the end never changed. The nightmare prevailed.

Heyes broke the silence. “Mr. Fry, words can’t express how sorry I am that things have turned out like this, but we have to do everything we can to end this without any more loss of life. As she died, Miss Brown begged us to find the evidence and finish this. Have you any idea where she might have hidden it?”

Herbert shook his head. “If I knew, I’d take it to the state governor myself. She wrote to tell me what she had planned, and to tell me that she’d leave town. All I got after that was a strange telegram.”

“Strange telegram?”

He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. “She was getting the train at 8, I got the night train to be there before then, but it was late.”

“Probably a good job, or you’d be dead too,” muttered Kid.

Herbert dropped his head. “I wish I was.”

“What do you do?” asked Heyes.

“I’m a doctor. I dreamt of a life with Loni, serving the sick. What is there now?”

Heyes sighed. “There are still a lot of folks who need help, Mr. Fry. It’s the best way to honour her memory.” He dropped his head to read the telegram. “Seen Mayor. Getting train at 8. Luke 11:9. Psalm 22:21. Loni,” Heyes’ brow furrowed. “What does it mean?”

Herbert dipped into his pocket and pulled out a small bible. “I’ve no idea. The words vary depending on the version of the bible.” He flicked through a few pages. “Luke 11:9 - And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Psalm 22:21 - Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”

“Do those have any special meaning to you?” demanded Heyes.

“No. I just don’t understand it.”

Heyes pulled off his hat and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s a code. It’s got to be. Seek and you shall find. It’s where she’s hidden it. The lion’s mouth she wanted saved from, that has to be Meagher.”

Kid gasped and seized the missive. “He’s right! It’s a clue. So what does ‘thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns’ mean? There ain’t no unicorns in Golden.”

“Think,” demanded Heyes. “What could she mean? What’s like a unicorn?”

“Horses?” asked Kid.

“Could be.” Heyes stood. “Have the Browns got stables, Mr. Fry?”

“A barn. You think she hid it there?”

“Who knows? She hid it somewhere and we need to find it if we want to save those witnesses. We wait until dusk. Then we search.”



(Message edited by silverkelpie On 02/18/2012 9:10 AM)

Date Posted:02/11/2012 5:16 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:45 pm

From Silverkeplie

Golden part III

Kid gave a great huff of annoyance. “Look, Joshua, we’ve searched the Browns’ barn, the town livery and Meagher’s stables. It ain’t in any of them, and if I step in any more horse manure I’ll swing for you,” he prodded Heyes’ chest with a long forefinger. “I AIN’T going near another stable. Got that!?”

Heyes gave a shrug of annoyance and sat down on a bale of hay. “Fine. I’ve got to rethink this. Herbert, read me those quotes again.”

The young man didn’t need to refer to the bible. The quotes tripped from his tongue as easily as a well recited prayer. “Luke 11:9 - And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Psalm 22:21 - Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”

Heyes rubbed his face. “We’ve definitely been barking up the wrong tree. Maybe it’s nothing to do with unicorns. What does ‘thou hast heard me from the horns’ of unicorns mean?”

Herbert smiled. He had already guessed that these two men had spent little time on bible studies. “Some interpret it as times in life when in danger, they have called upon God for help and been heard. Others see it as deliverance from the rapacious jaws of evil. In some versions of the bible it is not a unicorn, it’s a buffalo, and the horn is more representative of trumpets. It’s a clarion call to God or for the protection of the righteous.”

Kid’s eyebrows arched in challenge. “Joshua, I ain’t searchin’ cowsheds, or huntin’ for the nearest buffalo. It doesn’t mean that. I doubt she would have gone near any of those things.”

Heyes nodded, his pensive eyes distant and distracted. “I know... I’m just trying to understand how she would have interpreted those passages so I can see things through her eyes. The rapacious jaws of evil. That sure sounds like Meagher, though, with that mean, cold smile. A trumpet? What could that be?”

Kid gave an ironic snort. “Those jaws sound like those ‘foo dogs’ in his office. Those sure ain’t friendly lookin’ things.”

Heyes darted glowing eyes at his cousin. “Rapacious jaws! Thaddeus, you’re a genius.”

“I am?” Kid nodded, smiling gently. “It sure took you long enough to find out.”

“It would just take a few seconds to stick a package in one of the statues. Women’s skirts sure make it easy to carry something without anyone noticing, and Meagher’s secretary left the room when we were there. If he did the same with Loni, it would explain a lot,” Heyes’ face dimpled with satisfaction. “They even look a bit like lions. Why didn’t I think of that before?”

“Because you were too busy chasin’ unicorns,” Kid shook his head. “There’s a sentence I never thought I’d be sayin’ today. Come on. I’m lookin’ forward to smashin’ those things, knowing how fond Meagher is of them.”



**********

Herbert’s eyes glittered suspiciously. “They left that door unlocked?? Really?”

Heyes nodded. “How else could I have got in? We just hit lucky. The Lord works in mysterious ways after all. He’s probably just giving us a helping hand.”

“Hmm. His ways are getting more and more mysterious the longer I'm around you two. How do you know Mr. Brown anyway?”

Heyes’ smile glinted through the poor light. “We didn’t. He knew the Attorney General of Wyoming and he asked the governor to help. They studied law together.”

“And how do you know the governor.”

“Oh, just through some business we did in the past. We owe him a favour. Now, can you keep it down? We’re not supposed to be here you know,” hissed Heyes.

Kid was suddenly struck by a thought. “Herbert, do you know why Loni’s father didn’t tell her we were coming? She might have trusted us if he’d told her.”

Herbert bit his lip. “He wouldn’t have wanted to leave. I think she would have known how afraid he was if he’d told her. He would have meant it for the best,” he heaved a deep sigh. “In some ways they didn’t have anything in common, in others, they were too alike. They would sacrifice themselves, but didn’t to communicate well. They had the same tendency to think very deeply, perhaps too deeply.”

“Well, we best get searching.” Heyes stood opposite the big pottery animal. “She was right handed, so if she was facing the door her right hand would be nearer this one.”

Kid grinned. “Allow me.” He lifted one of the ornate chairs and swung it straight at the head. It bounced harmlessly, the spindly, tapered legs splintering against the glossy glaze. “It’s stronger than it looks. Well, there’s only one thing in this room as big. Gimme a hand, Joshua.”

The pair dragged the other foo dog across, heaving it up between them. Their eyes met, twinkling with anticipation. “On three,” grunted Kid. “ One, Two... THREE!”

They thrust the enormous animal towards its mate with all their strength. There was an ear splitting crash as they collided, before slivers of earthenware flew out in all directions. The head split and cracked, then a great wedge slid sideways, opening up the hollow guts. The other foo dog fell to the floor, shattering into a million pieces, the broken head rolling aimlessly from side to side.

Heyes frowned. “Man, that made a lot of noise! Mr. Fry, can you check out the street from the window? Let me know if you see any movement or lights going on.”

Kid pulled the fragments apart with gloved hands, turning disappointed eyes on his cousin. “Nothin’. Not one thing! I was so sure.”

“Maybe she hid it somewhere else?” Heyes turned to Herbert. “Anything going on out there?”

“Nothing.”

Heyes nodded. “Then we search. We turn this place upside down. She said it was right under his nose, so we’re going to rip this place apart.”


**********


An hour later Meagher’s ‘chinwoyseree’ lay in a disordered clutter. No hanging, china dragon or vase had been left unmolested in the quest. Kid cast a dissatisfied eye over the room, shaking his head ruefully. “Nothin’. Not one thing.”

Heyes appeared at the doorway of the office, the discrete glint in his dark eyes telling his partner that there had been nothing of significance in the safe. He scratched his head and wandered aimlessly through the shambles. “So, what now?”

“I can’t think of anywhere else except the house, Joshua.”

Heyes scratched his chin. “But she said it was right under his nose. She said it’s the last place he’d look, and that’s not her home. You knew her, Mr. Fry. Where would she have put it? A friend’s home maybe?”

“No. She’d never put anyone in that kind of danger.”

Heyes sauntered over to the window, the first grey fingers of dawn lightening the sky to charcoal, but still glistening with stars of light. “I think it’s got us beat. I just can’t think of anywhere else.”

Kid strode over and placed a hand on his shoulder. “We’ve done our best but I guess that just ain’t good enough. I hate to see a man like Meagher get away with this.”

Heyes suddenly stiffened. “Thaddeus... How would you describe a unicorn?”

“A horse with a horn. Why?”

“Look out of the window. Tell me what you see.”

Herbert joined them at the glass, peering anxiously out at the still sleeping town. “Houses, buildings. It’s a quiet street.”

Kid put his forehead against the pane. “There’s a cat over there, lickin’ his...”

“I’m not talking about that! Look at the building opposite. What do you see?”

“It’s the newspaper, remember the journalist? ‘The Weekly Bugle.’”

“Yup,” Heyes turned glistening eyes on the pair. “Look at the sign.”

“A union soldier on a rearing horse, blowing a bugle,” murmured Herbert.

“A bugle’s a type of horn,” mused Heyes. “A horn you’d hear. Like the quotation. Look again and tell me what you see – right under Meagher’s nose.”

“A horse and a horn,” gasped Kid.

“Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns,” Herbert gulped loudly. “Now that’s a sound Meagher wouldn’t want to hear. The truth, all over the press.”

“And right under Meagher’s nose, a clarion call for the righteous. Let’s get over there. It’s going to be light soon.”


**********


An hour later they sat dejectedly on the wooden sidewalk, the birds twittering delightedly at the birth of a new day. Herbert gave them both a look of stern admonishment. “I don’t care what you say, I don’t believe for one minute that door was left open too!”

“I never said it was,” replied Heyes, defensively, “besides where does it say in the bible, ‘Thou shalt not open a door and look around a bit?’ We never took anything, we didn’t even do any damage.”

“Not in there we didn’t. But we wrecked the mayor’s place.”

“I ain’t sorry about that,” muttered Kid. “He’s got a point, though. It’s daybreak. We’ve searched all night and come up with nothin’. We gotta make ourselves scare.”

“I can’t believe I was so wrong,” Heyes dropped his head into his hands. “I was so sure we’d find it.”

Herbert smiled reassuringly. “You did your best, Gentlemen. Many people wouldn’t have done half as much”

Heyes stood and started to pace. “She was dying. I owe this to her! Where would she put it? It’s right under his nose.”

Kid’s eyes glittered gratefully at Herbert. “Thanks, but we just don’t feel like we’ve done enough.”

“Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns,” muttered Heyes. “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you....”

“He’s right, Joshua. We’d better get off.”

“She’d walk down the street towards Meagher’s place, knowing she had to get it out of the house. She wouldn’t leave it with anyone, so she put it somewhere.”

“Joshua, what are you goin’ on about? We gotta go.”

“Knock and it shall be opened to you... That sounds like a door.”

“He’s right, Mr. Smith. People are starting to stir.”

Heyes shrugged him off, caught up in his thoughts. “You can’t take it in there, but you can’t give it to anyone. You can’t linger anywhere because you’re being watched. She’d have walked down here because her house is on this side of the street.”

“Joshua, folks are up and about.”

Heyes’ stream of consciousness continued. “She’d have walked down there and stopped to cross the road.” His voice suddenly took on a lightness, as revelation hit. “It’s the only place she could stop without arousing suspicion because she had to see if the road was clear! Knock and ye shall find. That means there’d wood involved at the very least.” He closed his eyes. “She was scared. Standing there... she had to get rid of it before she went in there. Where would you hide it?” His eyes suddenly widened, staring at the wooden sidewalk. “You’d drop it. Kick it surreptitiously out of the way! Nobody would notice, not under those long skirts.”

He dropped to the ground, peering underneath the boards, shuffling along until he was right underneath the entrance to the newspaper office. A long arm groped about until he dragged out a bag.

“You alright, Sonny?” asked a curious, grizzled old timer, passing by on his way to start a day’s work at the livery stables.

Heyes sat up with a grin. “Sure am. I’ve been looking for this all night.”


**********


Kid rubbed his tired face. “So, what is it? What the big, dangerous secret.”

Heyes flicked through the papers in the accordion fold wallet. Lots of affidavits, land stakes, statements,” he let out a long slow whistle. “Newspaper cuttings about the murder of a woman by her husband, in California. There are reports from an investigator too. William Brown was looking into Meagher’s past.”

Kid arched his eyebrows. “Meagher’s a killer? Well, we knew that; but he’s already wanted?”

Heyes rifled through the folder. “That could sure be a worry for him. The picture in the newspaper doesn’t look much like him, but it’s twenty years old and it’s just an etching.”

“Could that be it?” Herbert gasped. “Meagher could deal with the land grabbing case by killing and intimidating witnesses, but when he found out that he was being investigated, it was a step too far. The lawyer had to go before he found out the truth about him.”

Heyes nodded. “Whatever the truth is? He sure doesn’t seem to want have anyone looking into his background.”

“How would he have known that Mr. Brown was investigating?” asked Herbert.

“It doesn’t take much to intercept a telegram, Mr. Fry. Bribery, threats; you name it.” Kid’s mouth firmed into a line. “It’s the easiest thing in the world.”

Heyes thrust the paperwork back into the folder. “It’s thirteen miles to Denver. We’ve got to get these to the governor before Meagher realises that the case didn’t die with the Brown Family. It makes no difference whether he killed his wife or not. An arrest, and a trip back to California to see if any witnesses can identify him, will give the authorities here enough time put a case together in Golden. A snake can’t bite without a head. Meagher’s finished.”


**********


A pair of horsemen made their way into the countryside. Even from a distance, their demeanour seemed sombre, drenched in thoughts and memories.

Kid darted a look at Heyes. “You did some real good back there.”

Heyes’ mouth flexed, pitting his cheeks with shadowed dimples which emphasised the coldness of the eyes fixed ahead. “So did you, Kid. Who knows how many people Meagher’s man killed? Who knows what he would have been ordered to do if Meagher was ever taken in? He was real fast, you know. Not many could have taken him out.”

Kid sighed. “I don’t want to think about that. I can’t get passed how it might have gone if we’d let them take her bag.”

“Me neither, Kid,” Heyes replied simply, almost to the point of curtness.

They rode on for hours before Kid broke the silence again. “I thought you were the talker. Where are all those words of reassurance you usually find to make us both feel better?”

“At least one family has been wiped out. I’ve been looking for words to make that better for most of my life.”

“You stopped it, Heyes. You made the difference.”

“This time, Kid, but it was all too late for the Browns.”

Kid bit his lip. “Do you think Herbert will get over her?”

“Eventually, I guess. Either that or he’ll learn to live with it. There weren’t many like her, that’s for sure.”

“One of the bravest I ever met. He said he knew right away she was the one for him. Do you believe in that?”

Heyes shrugged. “Does it matter? Even if we did know someone like that, we couldn’t act on it. We’re on the run.”

Kid turned, fixing him with emotional blue eyes. “Yeah, it matters. It makes all of this worthwhile. All the runnin’, the time workin’ at anythin’ to turn an honest buck; all of it. Amnesty is the only way we could have somethin’ like that if it ever comes our way. I might have lost everythin’, but I still got hope.”

Heyes nodded. “Me too, Kid. I hope too.”


(Message edited by silverkelpie On 02/19/2012 11:38 AM)

Date Posted:02/17/2012 4:57 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:48 pm

From Riders57


Halcyon Days

As Heyes listened to the Kid struggling for breath and swimming in and out of consciousness, he twisted his hat in his hand, staring at the silver band…

>>>>>

Sunlight filtered through the leaves casting golden pools on the path the two horses trod, one led by the other.

“This is ridiculous, Kid,”

“Put those hands down or I swear I will tie them to the pommel. Do not take off the blindfold; I’m in charge for once.”

“But where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“You know I hate surprises!”

“You’ll like this one. Now settle down, Heyes; we’ll be there soon.”

“But where is there? What if someone recognizes us? You know there’s a price on your head too.”

“Don’t worry, Heyes. Have I ever let you down? Don’t answer that and put your hands down!”

Heyes harrumphed in frustration. He didn’t like not being in charge and being blindfolded on a horse, even one led by Kid, was not his idea of being in charge.

“Don’t gang members gotta do what the leader says? Ain’t I the leader, Kid?”

“This isn’t the gang, Heyes. This is me. We’re partners; you are not my leader.”

“You’re getting mighty uppity these days.”

“Pipe down, Heyes, we’re almost there. I need you to be quiet. If I hav’ta I’ll gag you too and you don’t want that.”

Heyes harrumphed again but kept quiet otherwise. They rode on through the glorious day that Heyes could only feel, not see.

Finally, the Kid halted the two horses.

“Okay, Heyes, you can take off the blindfold.”

Heyes quickly removed the offending bandana and looked around. He saw his cabin and, as he glanced around, the bunkhouse. They were back at Devil’s Hole!

“What’s going on, Kid? Where is everybody?”

“Surprise!”

“Heyes, you surprised?”

“Hoowee, Heyes, sure hope we managed to surprise ya!”

The gang jumped out of hiding; Wheat sauntered out from around the back of the stables, looking sheepish.

The Kid sat on his horse grinning.

Heyes looked around and came to fast boil.

“What is the matter with you, KID? What were you thinking?”

“Heyes, do you know what today is?”

“Huh?”

“What day is it?”

“It’s the 24th! Can’t anyone read a calendar? Now everyone get back to your chores!” Heyes dismounted and stalked into the cabin, slamming the door behind him.

“Uh, Kid, does that mean we don’t get to eat the cake?” Kyle asked. Wheat just snorted.

The Kid glared after Heyes, and then dismounted, handing the reins to Lobo. “No, Kyle, we’ll eat the cake. Just give me a little time. He really don’t much care for surprises, never has.”

He strode towards the cabin.

He entered and shut the door, leaning against it with his arms crossed and giving the back of Heyes’ head the Look.

Heyes stared at the fire, ignoring the Kid. Finally, he turned around. “What were you thinking, Kid, humiliating me like that in front of the gang?”

“No one humiliated you, though the gang’s not too happy at your reaction. They wanted to surprise you.”

“Well I was surprised all right. But it ain’t good for the leader to not know what’s going on – I need the gang’s respect.”

“Heyes, what day is today?”

“I told you it’s the 24th! What is it with you and the date?”

“Heyes, you’re right today is the 24th. It’s also been one year since you took over the leadership of this gang.”

“Huh?”

“One year, Heyes. The boys wanted to show you that they appreciate how you’ve led them, they wanted to surprise you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really – even Wheat – the cake was his idea.”

“There’s a cake?”

“Yeah, there’s a cake.”

“Oh.”

They looked at each other for a moment, finally Heyes gave a reluctant grin and the Kid grinned back. The Kid opened the door as Heyes strode through it.

Heyes stood on the porch, looking out at the gang who looked back nervously.

“Men, it’s been one year. I think it’s gone well. Tell you what; I have some special whiskey I wanted to share with you. I thought we might celebrate, what do you say?”

Cheers arose.

>>>>>>

Later, after the cake had been eaten and the whiskey drunk, and the sun had gone down, the men returned to the bunkhouse. Heyes and Kid sat on the porch of their cabin.

“Hard to believe it’s been a year, isn’t it Kid.”

“Yeah Heyes, and what a year it’s been.”

“Kid…”

“What Heyes?”

“I …”

“Yeah?”

“I just…”

Silence reigned for a few moments.

“Heyes, there’s one other thing,” said the Kid handing him a small package.

Heyes took it, looked at the Kid, then looked down and opened it. Inside lay the silver hatband he’d been admiring. He had decided it was too expensive still. But there it was gleaming in the moonlight, just as he remembered it.

“What’s this?”

“It’s that hatband. I saw you looking at it over and over.”

“I know what it is, but why are you giving it to me? We don’t do presents; I thought we decided years ago that we were too old for all that.”

“Heyes, we haven’t done presents in years I know, but it’s not because we’re too old for them, like we always said; it’s because we couldn’t afford ‘em. Now we can. This is for all those years you were there for me and… Aah, Heyes, you know I ain’t one for talkin’, don’t make me explain this to you.”

Heyes sat looking at the gift. He cleared his throat and looked at the sky.

“Thanks Kid.”

>>>>>

Heyes looked up from contemplation of his hatband. The Kid was waking up! He could hear the others, Billy, Jason, Ralph, and the rest in the cabin on the other side of the door, but he was focused on the Kid. Nothing else mattered at that moment.



(Message edited by Riders57 On 02/21/2012 7:26 AM)
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:51 pm

From Ghislaine Emrys


For the first time ever, I have not read others' stories before posting mine. So any similarities are completely coincidental. This story will become part of my trilogy called "Tales of the Devil's Hole Days" and will be in Part II. I still have three more sections to write so it'll be a while before it's finished.



Once the moon sank below the horizon, morning came quickly but the gleam in Heyes’ eyes was brighter than the sun half-heartedly peering through the clouds that covered the mountaintops of Devil’s Hole. He’d been up all night but didn’t feel tired; the scheme percolating in his mind for hours had only just burst forth, foreshadowing the yellow rays above him. He moved from the wooden desk in his cabin to the porch, carrying his cup of coffee with him, not noticing it was no longer hot. Absent-mindedly, he sipped the brown liquid, content to sit in the hand-carved chair that he’d inherited from Big Jim. Waiting for the rest of the gang to arise and go about their daily duties, he went over the plan once more and could find no problem. He couldn’t wait to tell his cousin about it.

Kid finally emerged from the bunkhouse at seven in the morning, by Heyes’ pocket watch. Staring at the building hadn’t caused the men to arise any faster so the gang leader had turned his gaze inward while waiting, reflecting on the circumstances that had led him to an impregnable outlaw hideout in the wilds of Wyoming. But not one to linger on the past, he quickly shook off the feeling of gloom that threatened to overwhelm him.

His eyes lit up again as he watched his cousin wash at the pump, scrubbing his face and neck and wiping the night away. Kid saw the older man beckon him and he nodded, but first went back inside to put his shirt and pants on. Once dressed, and his gun secure in his holster, he ambled over to the leader’s cabin.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Heyes teased as Kid yawned. “Late night?”

“You should know,” mumbled Kid, his voice raspy and in need of coffee. “I saw the light on after midnight.” He raised his eyebrow, clearly expecting a response.

“Yeah. Want some coffee?” Heyes offered, getting to his feet. “Come on inside. I got something to show you.”

Kid followed him in and sank into a chair near the fireplace, still not completely awake. Heyes poured some coffee from the pot on the stove into a chipped mug and handed it to his cousin, who gratefully accepted. He sipped it slowly, trying to focus on the warmth instead of the taste. He sat quietly while Heyes shuffled through the papers on the desk.

“Here. Take a look at this.” Heyes held out a wrinkled piece of paper.

Kid spread it out on his lap and looked at it, trying to understand its significance. It was a map showing towns in Colorado. He looked more closely and noted that gold mines were also marked on it. “So?” he queried, failing to see why Heyes was so excited.

“Don’t you see it, Kid?”

“See what?”

“The rail lines!”

“So?” Kid repeated.

Heyes looked at him in exasperation. “That’s our next job!”

“We’re goin’ to steal the railroad ties?” Kid asked, doubt clearly written on his face. “What for?”

“No! Not the tracks, Kid, what goes on the tracks.” Heyes waited as his partner slowly figured it out.

“You mean…we’re goin’ to steal a train? Something on a train? Heyes, that’s insane!”

“No, it ain’t. It’s genius! No one’s ever done it before. We’ll be the first! The Devil’s Hole Gang will be famous!”

Kid looked at his cousin in disbelief. “What’s wrong with robbin’ banks? Ain’t that enough for you?”

“C’mon, Kid. Where’s your sense of adventure, of destiny?”

“Destiny, Heyes? I’m thinkin’ we rob a train, our destiny’s gonna be endin’ up in prison.”

“Nah. I got it all planned out. Look…”

And Heyes proceeded to explain in exquisite detail how the Devil’s Hole Gang would stop a mining train, open the safe containing bags of gold dust being transported from the mines to the bank in the nearest town, and get away without being caught.

And when Kid heard the plan, his eyes gleamed as well.

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

Heyes planned on Golden, Colorado, living up to its name, if he had anything to say about it—and, to Kid’s amusement and annoyance, he did, repeatedly, as they made their way south.

They rode in to the small town and headed for the Astor House, which they’d heard was the cleanest hotel in Golden. After tying their horses out front, they entered the establishment and greeted the matronly-looking woman at the front desk.

“We’d like a room, please,” Heyes politely requested and added with a smile, “on the second floor facing the front if possible, ma’am.”

The woman checked her book, nodded, and said, “Certainly, sir. How long will you be staying?” She pushed the registration ledger towards Heyes, who signed it and then pushed it over for Kid to sign, too.

Kid let Heyes do the talking. “Just a couple days, ma’am. My partner and I are looking for business opportunities hereabouts. We aim to see what’s available, then make our decision.”

“You’ll find Golden a right pleasant town.” The woman turned the ledger around to read the names, “Welcome to the Astor House, Mr. Barton, Mr. Slattery.” She made a notation in the book and then looked up. “Your room is at the end of the hall. Dinner is served in the dining room from six to eight in the evening and breakfast is available from six to eight in the morning. Of course, meals are an extra charge,” she said, giving the two dusty men a doubtful look.

“Thank you, ma’am. I’m sure we’ll find our stay here profitable,” Heyes said, as he took the room key from her.

Upstairs in their room, saddlebags were hung over the bedpost and Heyes sat on the bed while Kid looked out the window, observing the townsfolk.

Later, after an enjoyable and productive evening at the International Bowling Saloon, Kid and Heyes went over their plans for the next day before climbing into bed and eventually falling asleep.

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

Two days later, they were on their way back to Wyoming. “Do you really think Wheat did what I told him? He better have,” Heyes glowered. The possibility that his instructions hadn’t been followed kept him from noticing that his partner was shaking his head in frustration.

“Heyes, shut up. I already answered the question. Wheat’ll do what you told him, if only to prove he can take charge when you’re not around.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Kid softened his words. “Everyone knows you’re a good leader, Wheat included. He ain’t gonna mess this up. He wants the haul just as much as the rest of us and he knows it won’t happen iffn you’re not there.”

Heyes turned sideways to look at his cousin, riding next to him. “You really think we’ll pull this off, Kid? I mean, no one’s ever robbed a mining train before.”

Heyes would never show his doubt to anyone else. Kid smiled to himself, pleased that the older man trusted him so much. “We got what we needed in Golden. It’ll work,” Kid said confidently, his smile finally appearing on his face.

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

The Devil’s Hole Gang left their hideout and rode to the outskirts of Golden, staying off the main roads the entire way. Kid rode with Wheat, Kyle and a few of the new boys and Heyes rode with Hank, Lobo and the rest of the new gang members. They met at the pre-arranged spot that Heyes and Kid had found on their earlier trip to the vicinity.

“Aww, Heyes, can’t we go for just one drink?” Wheat asked. From the expressions on the other men’s faces, they all liked that idea, too. It had been a long day and most of them wanted to cut the dust with something stronger than water from their canteens.

“I told you before…”


“Wheat.” Kid’s voice cut across Heyes. Although he spoke quietly and uttered just the man’s name, no one misunderstood his meaning.

“You’ll have plenty of time to celebrate after,” Heyes told the men, well aware he had to keep them in line for several more hours. “We pull off this job and get back to Devil’s Hole, you can hurrah all you want, boys.”

The gang members grumbled some, but they quickly settled down and finished making camp. By the time they were done, it was twilight and time for dinner, which consisted of cold biscuits, jerky, and apples since it was too risky to light a fire. Blackness descended shortly after and soon the men were in their bedrolls, blankets pulled up to their chins to keep out the chill autumn night.

Heyes was too keyed up to sleep. He leaned against his saddle, his mind going over each detail of his plan as he tried to find a flaw that would prevent their success the next morning.

“Go to sleep, Heyes; you need to rest,” Kid urged, knowing it was futile but making the attempt anyway, trying to make sure his partner got at least a couple hours of sleep before dawn came. He lay back in his bedroll.

Heyes half smiled. “I will. Good night, Kid.”

“Make it soon. Good night.” Kid watched his cousin a while longer, until his eyes closed and he fell asleep.

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

Jolted awake by a kick to his foot, Kid reached for his gun only to find Heyes laughing at him as he grimaced and slowly lowered his arm. “Stop that!”

“Good morning, sleepyhead!”

“No, it ain’t. Did you have to wake me like that? I coulda killed you!”

“Nah, you’re too slow in the morning.”

“Don’t count on it,” Kid warned, not yet ready to forgive Heyes.

“Aww, c’mon, it’s a great morning. And it’s gonna get a lot better too, in about...” Heyes took out his watch and calculated the time, “two hours from now.

That brought a grin to the younger man’s face.

“Let’s get this outfit moving,” Heyes said. “I want everything and everyone ready and in position well before nine o’clock.”

Kid nodded. “You gonna go through the plan one more time?”

“You think I need to?”

Kid shrugged. “Might as well. It won’t hurt and we ain’t got nothin’ better to do.”

Heyes rounded up the men as they were chewing on jerky for breakfast. “Kyle, you know what you got to do, right?”

Kyle grinned; explosives were like skittish horses and he knew just how to handle them, too.

“Wheat, you, Hank, and Lobo will take care of the passengers. But remember, we’re not robbing them, just the safe. You got that?”

Wheat grunted. He’d understood the first time Heyes had given the instructions, back at Devil’s Hole.

“The rest of you boys, you’ll surround the train cars, make sure no one sneaks up on us. That clear?”

Several heads nodded their assent, accompanied by murmurs of anticipation.

Heyes stared at a few of the newer gang members. “And remember, no one uses their gun less’n me or the Kid says so.” He looked everyone in the eye. “The Devil’s Hole Gang don’t hold with shooting innocent people. That clear?” He waited until everyone nodded again.

“Kid, you all set?”

“Yup.”

“Then let’s go rob us a train, boys!”

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

Heyes watched attentively as Kyle lay the torpedo on top of the rail line. Making sure the small cloth bag containing the explosive was spread evenly across the track, Kyle then wrapped the lead straps under the rail to keep the torpedo in place.

“You sure that’s the way to do it?” Heyes asked.

Kyle’s face showed his hurt. “Heyes, you done showed me the book. I looked at the picture real good.”

“Just making sure, Kyle. I know you’re the expert with dynamite but this is the first time you’re using it this way. If the torpedo don’t go off, the train won’t stop and we won’t be able to rob the train.” Heyes felt that was enough of a reminder; he didn’t want to put more pressure on Kyle by telling him the entire robbery hinged on how well he did his job here.

“It’ll work, you’ll see,” Kyle assured the outlaw leader, having full confidence in his abilities. With sudden, rare insight, he added, “I ain’t book smart like you, Heyes, but I’m smart in other ways and this is one of them.”

Heyes clapped the smaller man on his shoulder. “Stay here and keep a good lookout. I’m gonna check on the others.”

He crossed the tracks and found Wheat and some of the boys where they were supposed to be. They had already finished loosening a couple railroad ties, just enough to prevent the train from continuing its journey into Golden. Once they’d removed the contents of the safe and gotten away, the train would not be able to sound the alarm any time soon. After reassuring himself that all was well with them, and letting them know they had about half an hour before the train neared them, Heyes crossed over the tracks again and met Kid, who appeared from among the trees when he saw his partner.

“You sure you’ll be able to hop the train here?”

“Yeah. Relax, Heyes. The engine has to slow down for that curve and when it does, I’ll get on the express car. We’ve hopped lots of trains just like this,” Kid pointed out.

“Okay. No one’ll see you if you stay on the blind baggage platform. When the torpedo goes off, the train’ll stop, and you can climb over the tender and get the drop on the engineer and brakeman.”

“I know,” Kid smiled, understanding Heyes needed to go over the plan with him one more time because he relied on his cousin more than anyone else. If there was a flaw, Kid would find it.

“Yeah, well, just make sure you don’t fall off!”

“Heyes!” Kid scowled until he saw Heyes grin and then he laughed, too. “It’s a good plan; it’ll work fine.”

Heyes became serious. “I hope so, Kid. I hope so.”

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

The Colorado Central Express train from Black Hawk slowly rounded the bend at nine o’clock. As the chocolate brown-colored engine and tender cars passed, a man in a brown hat and sheepskin jacket ran out from the treeline and swung aboard, landing on the platform at the front of the train car that held the baggage. He quickly regained his balance and began his climb to the engine.

A few minutes later, there was a loud bang. Recognizing the sound, the brakeman applied the brakes and gradually the train came to a halt. He and the engineer looked at one another, wondering what the problem was up ahead.

Before they could decide who would go check, the brakeman heard a click behind him and the engineer saw two men to his left outside the train’s window.

“Stand and deliver!” the man in the black hat calmly stated, a half-grin on his face and his six-gun pointed directly at the engineer. The other man, taller and older, held a shotgun on the brakeman as the third man appeared from behind.

“What is this? What’s going on?” the engineer demanded.

“Why, sir, it’s a robbery,” the black-hatted man laughed. “We’re robbing your train.”

Heyes’ eyes slid toward Kid. “You got everything covered here?”

“Yup.”

“Alright, I’ll be in the express car.”

“Don’t take too long.”

The gang leader nodded approvingly at Wheat and the rest of the gang as he quickly walked to the express car. The men had spread out along the tracks to keep watch on the passengers after they’d herded them off the train when it stopped and Kid had given them the signal all was clear.

Heyes reached his destination, opened the door to the express car with one of his lock picks, and immediately approached the safe. He admired the Brooker 202 for an instant, then knelt down and got to work. Success came shortly thereafter and he removed three large cloth bags. Looking inside to make sure they contained gold dust, he was tempted to sink his hands into one of the bags and let the dust sift through his fingers, just to feel the wealth. But he resisted, telling himself there’d be plenty of time for that later, once they were safely away. Heyes closed the door to the safe, giving it a final, fond pat of farewell.

He emerged from the train car and dropped the three bags to the ground. Hank and Lobo ran up and each grabbed one, then lugged them to their horses and fastened them securely on. Heyes kept the last one and swung it over his shoulder as he returned to the front of the train, where Kid and Preacher were still holding the railroad men at gunpoint.

“Any problems?” Kid asked.

“Nope. Any here?”

“Nope.”

“Good.” Heyes raised his left hand and the gang members acting as guards began shepherding the passengers back onto the train.

Heyes watched as everyone boarded. “All right, time to go.”

“Wait a minute! You can’t do this!”

“Sure we can. In fact, we just did!” Heyes told the engineer. He started to walk to the treeline where their horses were waiting. Kid and Preacher followed, walking backwards.

“Wait a minute! Who are you? You’ll never get away with this!” the brakeman yelled, frustrated by the guns still pointing at him.

Heyes turned back. He paused before answering, savoring the view of the stopped train and the fear and the outrage on the railroad men’s faces and the thrill of success and the sheer joy of living in the moment, free to do as he wished and knowing the world was his for the taking.

Heyes yelled an answer. “He’s Kid Curry!”

“And he’s Hannibal Heyes!” Kid yelled, nodding towards the outlaw leader, his cousin, and best friend.

Heyes had the last word. As they reached their horses, he shouted, “And we’re the Devil’s Hole Gang!”




Author’s Notes:

a) For inspiration as I wrote this story, I wore the train earrings I bought last July at the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot.

b) Other than ASJ characters, all the names of places, people and trains in this story are real but used fictitiously.

c) Historical information for this story came from the following sources:
* R. Michael Wilson. (2007). Great Train Robberies of the Old West. Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press.
* A History International episode about trains, viewed on 9/2/11. (But I missed the beginning so don’t know the title.)
* History of Golden, Colorado, at http://www.golden411.com/goldenhistory.htm and http://www.goldenlandmarks.com/links/
* About the Astor House, at http://www.goldenhistorymuseums.org/astorhousemuseum_more.php
* About the Colorado Central Railroad, at http://www.midcontinent.org/rollingstock/CandS/cc-passenger/cc_fleetinfo.htm
* About train torpedos, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Railroad_torpedo_with_lead_straps.jpg



(Message edited by GhislaineEmrys On 02/23/2012 11:33 AM)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
This is one of my schemes... ~ Hannibal Heyes
Date Posted:02/22/2012 8:16 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:53 pm

From Missyblu


As I counted out the last stack of bills from the night’s profits, I heard the sound of footsteps. I didn’t need to look up to see who had entered the room.

My partner. Kid Curry.

“Missed you tonight,” I said mildly, keeping the note of worry carefully hidden.

He sat down heavily in the chair across from me. “’Sorry,” he said quietly. “Went out for a ride and lost track of time.”

I finished stacking the money and reached for the bottle of whiskey I had brought over from the bar. I poured us each a glass and slid one over to him. “It was pretty quiet most of the night.” I sipped my drink and took note of how tired he looked; his white shirt grimy from dust and sweat and his hair matted down from his hat.

“That’s good.” He sat there for several minutes, not touching the whiskey. Then he reached into his vest pocket and pulled out something which he set down on the table.

The whiskey I had just swallowed seemed to choke me as I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat. The object he had placed on the table gave off a soft golden light as it caught the glow from the lantern hanging above us. And then I realized why he’d been gone all day and why he looked so tired. I managed to gulp down the liquor and I said the only thing I could think of. “I’m sorry, Kid. I forgot what the date was.”

The blue eyes, haunted with regret and sorrow, softened. “It’s okay, Heyes. You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me as much as it does. It’s been almost two years.” He finally picked up the whiskey and held it up in a toast. “To Morgan.”

I echoed his words and we both tossed back the drinks. “She would have been proud of us,” I gave him a smile, trying to lighten the mood.

“Yeah, she would have liked this place,” he agreed as he poured himself another drink. “Especially the name,” he grinned, and I knew that he was coming out of that dark place that he’d been in since riding off this morning.

We sat there, sipping our whiskey, lost in our own thoughts…

We had been looking for work in a town near the Colorado border when a scout from a wagon train came into the saloon. He was asking the bartender if he knew of anybody who’d like a job for a month or so with the wagon train. The bartender pointed us out and he came over to our table.

“Name’s Cooper Smith,” he said as he took a seat. “We’ve got two men who got hurt yesterday when their horses spooked at a rattlesnake.” He looked us over and then went on, “You’d be driving a wagon some of the time, maybe riding out to look for fresh meat, just kind of helping out where you’re needed. You interested?”

We shared a glance and then I nodded. “Doesn’t sound like anything we can’t handle. I’m Joshua Smith and this is my partner, Thaddeus Jones.”

He shook hands with us and stood up. “If you want to give me a hand with some supplies you can follow me back to where we’re camped.”

We had only gone a mile or so and I was about to ask how far away the campsite was when a gray horse could be seen galloping toward us. As it came closer, the rider’s hat blew off and I could it was a girl with long brown hair blowing in the wind. She slowed her horse before she reached us and leaned down to give him a pat on the neck. “Chris sent me to see if you found anybody in town…” she glanced at us and smiled. “I guess you did.”

“Yeah, this is Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones.”

She acknowledged the introduction with a nod. “I’m Morgan Monroe. And this is Ghost,” she indicated the gray gelding, the pride evident in her voice. “I’ll go back and tell Chris you’re on your way.” Without waiting for an answer, she loped off.

Cooper watched her go and said with some amusement, “I guess it didn’t matter if I agreed or not, did it?”

“Is she with the wagon train?” the Kid asked.

“Not exactly. She’s riding with us right now, but she usually travels by herself.”

When we reached the wagon train, we were introduced to Chris Hale, the wagon master, and told where to picket our horses. Over supper, we met the rest of the crew and Hale explained that tomorrow he needed one of us to drive a wagon and the other one would be needed to look for fresh game. The Kid looked at me and I spoke up, “My partner’s a better shot than me so I guess I’ll be driving.”

“That’s settled then.” He looked around and his attention focused on Duke Shannon, who, like Cooper, was a scout. “Have you seen Morgan?”

Shannon grinned. “You mean since you told her that she had to drive the Bennett’s wagon? Nope. Bet she had supper with the Widow Clayton and then headed out for a ride.”

“Full moon tonight,” Cooper added unconcernedly. “She’ll be back when she’s good and ready.”

“She knows I don’t like her going off alone,” Chris grumbled. “I told Jarrod Barkley I’d keep an eye on her and I mean to do just that.”

“And you know as well as I do that she’ll do what she damn well pleases,” Shannon said to the older man as he got up with his dinner plate and cup.

“Yup,” Cooper agreed as he too stood up. “She’s got a wild streak in her that’s gonna be hard to break.”

Hale gave us a rueful grin. “Morgan’s guardian is a lawyer and rancher in California. He’ll have my hide if anything happens to her. Anyway, you boys go on and get a good night’s sleep. Starting tomorrow you can take a spell on watch. See you in the morning.”

As we settled into our bedrolls, the Kid gave me a grin. “This might not be as boring as we thought, Heyes.”

I had to admit that I was looking forward to a conversation with the young lady; she wasn’t like anyone we’d ever met before. I didn’t see Morgan the next day except at breakfast and she gave us both a smile and a wave before heading off to hitch up the team of horses for the wagon she was driving. Chris showed me which team of horses I’d need to harness and then we were on our way. It so happened I was driving the Widow Clayton’s wagon and she wasted no time in settling herself beside me on the wagon box to chat.

“You must be one of the young men Morgan was telling me about,” she began.

“Ma’am?” I turned to her, completely taken aback.

“Oh, she had dinner with me last night and told me all about the two young men that Coop had found in town and she couldn’t decide which one of you was more handsome…” she chattered on but I wasn’t really listening until she said something that made me catch my breath. “And she’s almost certain that she’s seen one of you before, but she can’t for the life of her remember where.”

I tried to keep my voice steady as I looked at her. “Really? I don’t think my partner and I have ever seen her before.”

Mrs. Clayton decided to abandon that subject and she went on to tell me all about how Mr. Clayton had met his untimely death only a week before they were ready to join the wagon train. I was busy trying to sift through the countless towns the Kid and I had passed through over the last few years, looking for any hint of a young woman with long brown hair and green eyes.

After supper that night I pulled the Kid aside and suggested we go check on my horse which had been favoring its right foreleg. Once we were out of earshot of Hale and the others, I gave him a brief overview of what Mrs. Clayton had told me.

He looked at me in disbelief and shook his head. “I dunno, Heyes. I think we’d remember her if we’d seen her before, don’t you?”

I nodded. “If not her, then her horse. He’s not exactly forgettable.”

“But,” he added ruefully, “We sure have been a lot of places.”

“I know. I’ll keep thinking and maybe I’ll come up with something.”

For the next few days Morgan seemed to be around a lot and not just for meals. She made it a point to help one of us with harnessing a team if we happened to be driving a wagon that day, or riding alongside the wagon we were driving. And she seemed more inclined to be around the Kid than me. We camped early one day because we were near a sizeable creek and Hale decided that the horses could use a good rest. Morgan seemed to appear out of nowhere with two fishing poles and handed one to my partner.

“Come fishing with me?” she asked, her green eyes alight with laughter.

He glanced at me and I shrugged. I could hear her chattering away as they walked off and I sure hoped the Kid knew what he was doing. I’d seen some of the looks he had been giving her and decided that maybe tonight might be a good time to find out exactly what he was thinking. After supper we took our cups of coffee over to the creek where we could talk freely and he was the one who started the conversation.

“Look, I already know what you’re going to say, Heyes.” He took a sip of his coffee before continuing, “We can’t afford to get involved with anyone in our situation. Especially somebody who thinks they’ve seen us before.”

I could hear the note of hopelessness in his voice and I felt a cold knot forming in my stomach. “How far has this gone?” I asked, dreading the answer.

“I think I’m falling love with her,” he said simply.

“After only a few days of knowing her?” my voice rose in disbelief.

“I didn’t plan for this to happen,” he said harshly. “It just…happened,” he added miserably.

“Does she feel the same way?”

“Judging by the way she kissed me last night, yeah, I figure she does.”

“That’s just great,” I muttered.

We sat in silence for a long time and then the Kid got up. “It’s late. We better turn in.”

I followed him back to the camp and tried to get a hold on the thoughts tumbling through my head. I didn’t sleep well at all and the next morning I could see the Kid hadn’t either. After breakfast we were walking over to the picket fence to get our horses as neither one of us had to drive a wagon that day. Morgan was already there with Ghost and when she turned to us, I could tell that she must not have gotten any sleep, either.

She came up to us and quickly took hold of each one of our arms and began walking us toward the creek. “We need to talk.” When we reached the creek, she dropped down on one of the large boulders and I could see the tears glittering in her eyes. “I remember now. Where I saw you before.” Her voice was low and shaky, the words coming slowly. “When I was on my way to California to live with my guardian, he had a friend whose ranch was near Medicine Bow, Wyoming. He made arrangements for me to stop there and stay for few days. When I left on the train to go to California, it was held up.” She stopped and stared at the Kid. “You stopped someone in the gang from hurting me. It was a long time ago and that’s why I didn’t remember right away.” She turned away and I knew she was crying.

“I’m sorry,” the Kid began, but I cut him off.

“Now that you know who we are, what are you going to do about it?”

She brushed her sleeve across her face and looked at us. “I don’t want to do anything,” she said softly. “I think I love Thaddeus, but I know you can’t afford a complication like me, can you?”

He shook his head and I sat down beside her. “We’ve been working to stay straight,” I told her. “We have a friend, a lawman, who is trying to get amnesty for us. But it’s been two years and so far, nothing. But, you’re right. Once our jobs here are done we need to move on. We can’t stay in any one place too long. It’s too easy to be recognized.”

She nodded and her next words surprised us both. “I was going to tell Chris I wanted to leave the wagon train in a week or so but I think I’ll leave today. He doesn’t really need me and I’m sure you both need the money so you should stay.”

I could tell the words were very painful for her to say and I glanced at my partner. The Kid’s face was devoid of any expression, but I could read the anguish in his eyes plainly. “Morgan,” I began, but she cut me off.

“Please…I…” her voice broke and she quickly got up and pulled the Kid into a tight embrace. “Take care of yourself,” she whispered and pulled away. He caught her face gently in his hands and bent down to kiss her gently. When he released her, she gave me a quick hug and then hurried away.

We stayed there for awhile, not speaking until the Kid turned to me. “Think I’ll stay here for a couple of minutes. You go on and finish getting the horses ready.”

I nodded and gave him a pat on his shoulder. For the next few weeks, the Kid was quieter than usual and once Hale’s men had healed up we decided we were ready to move on. Once we reached town, we got a room at the hotel and then headed for the saloon. After dinner we decided to send a telegram to Lom to let him know where we were. The reply we got sure wasn’t the one we were expecting.

“Need you in Porterville. Important.”

We looked at each other and the Kid shook his head. “You don’t think…”

“I don’t know, but let’s check the stage schedules first thing in the morning.”

It was late when we got to Porterville, but we knew Lom would be waiting in his office for us. The smile on his face when we walked in the door was all we needed to see. At long last, after all that waiting, we had our amnesty.

“Not sure how this happened, boys. I can’t explain it, but a few weeks ago the governor sent me a telegram to let me know that he had signed the pardons and wanted me to come and get them.”

“A few weeks ago?” I asked. I looked at the Kid and he smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I think that’s about right. Oh, and this came by mail for you.”

He handed me a small package and I opened it. Inside was a letter marked for my partner and one for me. Lom was watching us and was obviously waiting for an explanation.

“Thanks, Lom,” I said hurriedly. “We’re going back to our room - maybe we can do dinner tomorrow night to celebrate.”

He nodded, understanding that whatever was in the envelopes was something we wanted to read in private. Once we were in the hotel room we each took a quick look at the amnesty papers, but it was the envelopes we were really interested in.

Dear Heyes,

In case I forgot to mention it, my rancher friend in Wyoming owns Shiloh, the biggest ranch in the territory. The governor considers him a close friend and owes him more than one favor. The deed is to a saloon a friend won in a poker game and he’s not the settling down type. If you don’t want to own a saloon, go ahead and sell it. I hope to be able to come and visit you soon.

I looked up and said in a stunned voice, “We own a saloon.”

“And she gave me this,” he held it up to the light; a nugget of pure gold. “In case we need a stake.”

I shook my head in disbelief. Within a month, we had gone from wanted outlaws to being free men who now owned a saloon. The next day we had dinner with Lom and told him about Morgan, but not all of it. As soon as we had the “Golden Nugget Saloon” up and running, we wired Morgan at the address in California she had given the Kid in his letter. But the answer didn’t come from her; it came from a Mr. Barkley who informed us that she had died from a gunshot wound when she was caught in the crossfire from a shootout. I don’t think the Kid ever really got over her death and I wondered if he ever would. My partner’s words pulled me out of the past…

“Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like,” he said regretfully. “But I guess I’ll never know.”

“Maybe you’ll meet somebody else, Kid.”

“Yeah, maybe.” He poured another drink for each of us. “To golden opportunities.”

We drank our whiskey in the quiet saloon, remembering a young woman with laughing green eyes that had changed our lives forever.



Date Posted:02/26/2012 8:25 AM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:55 pm

From ChristinaASJ


The two men lay on their backs on the damp ground breathing heavily.

“D’ya think we lost ‘em, Heyes?”

“Sure, Kid, long ago.”

“That was a clever trick cutting a hole in the bag just big enough for one or two of those gold coins to fall out at a time. Shame there’s none left.”

“Yeah, but at least we’re lying here under the stars instead of in a stinking jail. That sheriff didn’t stand a chance with the posse made up of poor farmers and the like.”

“Will ya look at the sky, Heyes. There must be thousands of them. Just goes to show that all that glitters isn’t golden.”

“That’s very good, Kid. But it’s gold.”

“Huh?”

“All that glitters isn’t gold. Silence is golden.”

“Y’a think?!”

“Ha! D’ya know what those stars spell?”

“ Nope. Just looks like a load of stars to me.”

“Freedom, Kid. Freedom. Come on let’s go.”



(Message edited by ChristinaASJ On 02/26/2012 2:38 PM)
Date Posted:02/26/2012 9:26 AM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:57 pm

From Iona Graham


This is really just a section from a longer story I have been trying to edit and post for a while. I've never posted from notepad before so not sure if there will be any formatting problems with it.


The soft thud of hooves on hard ground heralded the arrival of the riders. Adam tensed and raised his gun towards the trail, lowering it as Neil's horse came into view.

Hearing their approach, Kid struggled to maneuver himself around, twisting and squirming onto his side in an attempt to see what was happening.

Heyes followed closely behind Neil, riding with his head bowed. With his hands tied together and lashed securely to the saddle horn, it was the only way he was able to protect himself from the backlash of tree branches as they rode along the narrow trail.

He raised his head now, catching sight of Naomi first. She was seated on a fallen log not far from Adam's reach. The girl seemed unhurt but clearly shaken, her features pale and drawn. She looked up expectantly, rising hurriedly to her feet and stepping towards the men, her eyes searching for anyone else following behind.

"Where d’you think you’re goin’?" Adam reached out with one hand to pull her back.

"You alright, Miss Shaw?" Heyes asked. "He’s not hurt you, has he?"

Naomi shook her head, her eyes wide with fear. "Daniel! What’s happened to my brother?"

Heyes could hear the tremble in her voice; see the fear in her eyes: fear of what might have happened to Daniel and what might be about to happen to her. He was unable to give her the assurance she wanted.

"He’s fine," Neil responded as he swung himself down from the saddle. "He’ll have a bit of a sore head but he's alive and he’ll stay that way as long as you do as you’re told."

Neil removed his gun from its holster and moving round to Heyes’ horse, reached up to untie the rope which secured Heyes’ hands to the saddle horn. "Get down, nice and easy," he ordered, signaling with his gun for him to dismount. Neil stood back from the horse, making no effort to help Heyes out of the saddle.

Heyes’ legs buckled beneath him as he landed awkwardly on the ground, falling to his knees. He began to push himself to his feet but Neil placed a restraining hand on his shoulder, roughly forcing him back into a kneeling position.

Kid looked his partner over, trying to determine how badly injured Heyes was. His eyes settled on the fresh cuts on his face, the blood stained shirt and the damp hair. "Joshua?"

Heyes turned his attention to his partner. "Hey, Thaddeus."

Heyes gave Kid a reassuring smile. "What are you doing down there?"

"Gettin’ dirty," Kid responded, stoically. The lightness of tone failed to hide the ice cold fury directed at Neil and Adam.

"You alright?"

"Yeah, sure Joshua. It’s real comfortable down here." He studied his friend. "I should be askin’ the same about you.

"What did you do to him?" Adam asked.

"Gave him a bit of a ducking. Nearly drowned him in the horse trough. You should have seen him wrigglin’ and squirmin’ like a fish out of water, tryin’ to get free."

Adam sniggered as Neil continued. "Now that we’ve got the pleasantries out of the way, let's get on with what we’re here to do. I can’t quite decide whether it would be easier just to shoot you now or take a bit more time over it."

"We don’t want to be hangin’ around here much longer. What if someone comes lookin’ for the girl?” Adam was suddenly feeling decidedly less confident about the situation, the palms of his hands growing clammy.

"This won't take long. He nearly lost us two of our horses and to me that’s akin to horse stealin'."

Heyes remained unblinking, his features impassive, despite the lurch of fear he felt at the implied threat.

"And we hang horse thieves," Neil stated bluntly. He turned and lifting a coiled rope from his horse’s saddle, slowly, began to unravel it.

Kid felt his heart sink. Keep calm, he told himself. There must be some way out of this, there had to be.

Adam glanced across at Kid: and saw the cold, blue eyes watching him, almost calculatingly. He gave an involuntary shiver and looked away. Sensing the other man's unease, Kid decided to try and put it to some use.

"Like we've told you before, we're not outlaws, and even if we were, do you really think you’d be able to collect the reward money now?"

"What makes you think we can’t?"

"No sheriff is gonna pay out any reward to two men who’ve held a young woman against her will. Why don’t you quit while you still can? After all, you're only diggin' a bigger hole for yourselves. And if you kill Joshua now you’ll have a dead body to drag around the country."

"Then we’ll bury him here and send someone out later to dig him up," Neil responded.

"Like I said before, you ain’t thinkin’ this through. For a start, you haven't got enough horses to take us into town," Kid pointed out.

"Where is your horse?" Neil questioned, turning his gaze on Adam.

"I left him tethered back there, out of sight," his younger brother replied gesticulating to his right with his gun hand.

"That’d still leave you short," Kid reminded them.

Neil's fist lashed out without warning and hit Heyes squarely on the mouth. Taken completely by surprise, Heyes didn’t have a chance to try to avoid the blow. His head jerked sideways and he let out a cry. A trickle of blood appeared at the side of his mouth.

"What’d you go and do that for?" Kid demanded, furiously.

"You’re getting too mouthy, and he was nearer to me than you are," Neil answered.

Kid's face registered cold anger. Heyes gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head in warning to his partner against aggravating Neil further. "I think what my partner meant to say is that if you let Miss Shaw go, we promise to let you take us into town and we can get this sorted out there," Heyes offered.

"Do we look stupid?" Adam asked with a snort of amusement.

Neither man chose to reply to the question. "We all know who you are and we’ll just get a friend to turn you both in to claim the reward for us," Adam continued.

Neil looked across at Kid, a grin spreading slowly across his face. "Now you got me thinkin’. You've given me a good idea about what to do with your friend here." Neil turned back to Heyes. "Looks like I ain’t gonna string you up after all."

A frown creased Heyes' brow as he wondered what Kid had said that could possibly make Neil change his mind about the form of revenge he was going to inflict. Kid shot Heyes a look. Whatever it was, that Neil had decided, he had a deep sense of foreboding.

"You ever seen a man dragged behind a horse?" Neil finally asked.

Heyes grimaced and closed his eyes in despair.

"Can’t say I have," Heyes replied, soberly when he finally opened his eyes. He looked towards his partner, a pained expression on his face. "There you go, shooting off that mouth of yours again."

"Seems to me your friend ain't heard the sayin'."

"What's that?"

"Silence is golden."

Adam snorted in amusement.

Kid continued to struggle with the rough cord securing his wrists. He cursed under his breath as he felt the rope bite into his skin. Couldn’t Naomi have been a little less thorough tying the knots?

"You’ll be killing an innocent man," Naomi spoke up.

"He ain’t innocent of the crimes of robbin’ trains and banks, and the posters say dead or alive, don’t they?" Neil responded.

"Then tell me why the sheriff of Porterville would send a telegraph to two notorious outlaws offering them work?"

Kid and Heyes exchanged glances.

"That’s right," Kid interjected. "Joshua had a telegram from the sheriff there. He has some job he wants us to do. Let Miss Shaw go back, get the telegram and bring it here for you to see. It’s in Joshua’s saddlebag back at the house."

Adam sniggered. "Sure. You really 'spect me to believe that? I ain’t stupid. You’re just playin’ for time."

"What do you plan to do about me then? What do you think will happen when you let me go?" Naomi demanded.

"Maybe one of you boys had better tell Miss Shaw here to keep quiet before she gets you all into more trouble," Neil warned before turning his attention to his brother.

Kid threw Naomi a warning look.

"I’ll go straight to the Sheriff and let him know what you have done," Naomi informed Neil.

Neil smirked. Kid and Heyes both winced in frustration.

"No you won't Miss Shaw, cos then the Sheriff might just start askin’ why you and that brother of yours have been harborin' known felons and then you might find yourselves in jail. You wouldn't want that to happen now, would you?"


Date Posted:02/26/2012 9:35 AM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:03 pm

From Keays


Feb. 2012 Challenge; Golden


Daisy

It was late spring on the Double J ranch and up on the northern pastures the new foals and calves were showing up one right after another. It was a wondrous time of year for Beth as she just loved to see the new babies arrive, all full of life and potential and playful high spirits.

Down in the barnyard pasture, Karma and Buck were contentedly grazing side by side, enjoying the warm sunny day and each other’s company. Buck was kept in this field for two reasons, one being that he be easily accessible for his human to catch and saddle up whenever he needed to ride into town or out to check on livestock. The other was to keep Karma company and the big older gelding did seem to have a calming effect on the otherwise high strung mare and Jesse had good reason for wanting to keep her at her ease.

The cargo she carried in her ever extending belly was too precious to be left out on the range with the herd of other brood mares. Indeed, her coming foal could be the beginning of a whole new line for the Double J ranch and that made it more precious than gold, and in more ways than one.

Karma herself didn’t really understand what was going on with her body. She just knew that as time wore on she was getting heavier and more sluggish and her appetite was ravaging to say the least! If she ever stopped eating to think about it, she was actually quite relieved that nobody was putting a saddle on her and expecting her to go for a gallop across the landscape. That was something she would normally quite enjoy—but not now, all she wanted to do now was eat, and sleep and swish her tail at the flies.

On this one particular spring morning, Jesse and Beth were both leaning up against the pasture fence, studying the bulging mare.

“How was she last night in her stall?” Jesse asked his youngest daughter. “Was she restless at all?”

“No.” Beth assured her father. “She was just the same as always. Contented and hungry.”

“Good!” Jesse smiled. “You still check her bag every morning?”

“Yes!” She answered in some exasperation. “But I still don’t know what I’m looking for.”

“You’ll know it when you see it.” Jesse assured her. “You’re used to seeing her bag look a certain way, but one of these mornings it’s going to be different.”

“Yes, but how different? In what way? If you’d just tell me then I would know what to look for!”

“I can’t tell you.” Jesse insisted. “I don’t know how it will be different—it just will be. And you’ll know when you see it.”

Beth sighed in frustration. “Yes Papa.”

Just then Jed came out of the house and seeing them at the fence strode over to join in on the conversation. He would be going to visit Heyes again soon and he was hoping that the foal would hurry up and get here so he could give his partner some good news. Heyes needed some good news right about now.

Jed came up to the fence and casually draped an arm across Beth’s shoulders and she absently reached up and held the hand that dangled down in front of her. Jesse smiled inwardly. For a couple who were not officially courting and indeed, continued to insist that they were ‘just friends’, Jed and Beth were awfully comfortable in each other’s company. As long as they didn’t get too comfortable.

“How is she today?” Jed asked. “Still pregnant?”

“I certainly hope so!” Beth laughed. “Otherwise she better back off all that grass or she’s going to explode!”

“Well, we certainly can’t have that.” He teased. Then he smiled over at the two horses. "She is looking ready to burst though, isn't she?"

"Yup. It's going to be any time now." Jesse agreed. Then he pushed himself away from the fence with a sigh. “Well, chores aren’t going to get themselves done.” He theorized. “Time we got on with them.”

The next morning, early, Beth was in the barn to check up on her special project while Sam was busy getting the morning feed ready. She slipped into Karma’s stall with a good morning greeting and a pat on her neck. Karma turned her head and nuzzled her young human friend and then turned her attention back to what Sam was doing.

Beth stroked her neck and then quietly ran her hand down along the mare’s shoulder and around her huge belly and then down along her flanks. She continued to speak quietly to her and then bent over and took a quick look at the bag that was tucked neatly between the mare’s hind legs, all full and round and ready for the new arrival. Beth instantly caught her breath and straightened up with a sudden excited sparkle in her eyes.

“It’s different…” She mumbled to herself.

“What?” Said Sam from the feed room.

“It’s different!” She said louder. “Karma’s bag is different!”

And with that the young lady forgot to be a lady and slipping out of the stall she bolted out of the barn and headed for the house at a dead run. She charged up the porch steps two at a time and made a grand entrance into the house just as her mother was dishing out the oatmeal. Jesse looked up from his first cup of coffee and sent his daughter a rather surprised look.

“It’s different!” Beth exclaimed. “You were right Papa! I don’t know how it’s different—but it’s different!”

Jesse looked over at his wife and they both smiled.

“Good.” He stated matter of factly. “Means she’s getting close.”

“Is she going to have her foal today, Papa!?”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Jesse predicted. “But certainly within the next forty-eight hours.”

“Oh.” Beth’s excitement collapsed. “That long?”

“You have to learn to be patient Beth.” Her mother reminded her. “Karma will have her foal all in good time.”

“Yes, Momma.” But she still looked very disappointed.

“Put her out in the field with Buck as usual.” Her father told her. “But keep a close eye on her today. If she starts swishing her tail more than usual, or looks at all uncomfortable you bring her back in to her stall and then come get me.”

“Yes Papa.” Beth agreed as she turned to head back out to the barn.

“And tell Sam to make sure her stall is spotless—and put extra straw in it!”

“Yes Papa!” Came the response from outside.

That night Beth insisted on sleeping out in the barn—she just had a feeling and Jesse and Belle had both learned not to argue with her when she had ‘a feeling’. Mainly because she would usually end up being right! So, with Sam going home at nights now to be with his wife, Beth was insistent that she was going to be on watch duty and would not take ‘no’ for an answer.

So, wrapped up in blankets, Beth had settled into a thick straw padded corner of Karma’s stall and was determined to stay awake the whole night in order to keep her favorite mare company.

Two o’clock in the morning, she was awakened from a deep sleep by strange noises and rustling close by her and she instantly jerked her eyes open, afraid that she might have missed the whole thing! She turned up the lamp and was relieved to see that Karma was still the only horse in the stall with her, but the mare was up and circling with her head down and a distracted look to her eye. Buck was awake and watchful over in the other stall.

Beth was on her feet in an instant and went to the mare’s head.

“It’s alright Karma.” She soothed her friend, but Karma was too distracted and though she took comfort in her young human’s company, she continued to pace around the stall and occasionally omitted a quiet groan.

Quickly Beth came out of the stall and made a dash for the house. She was up the stairs to the second floor in a flash and started pounding on the door to her parents’ room.

“Papa! Papa, I think it’s time!” She called. “Papa!”

“What….” Came the sleepy grumble from inside.

“It’s time!” Beth repeated. “I think Karma is having her foal!”

“Oh. Alright.” Came the still grumbly response. “I’ll be out there in a minute.”

Beth then turned and charging back down the stairs, she ran out the front door and back to the barn, hoping again that she hadn’t missed anything. Needless to say, Jed was also awake by this time.

Twenty minutes later, Jesse, Jed and Beth were out in the barn getting the mare prepared for the big event. Jesse had wrapped up her tail in gauze to keep it out of the way and kept the pitch fork handy to make sure that the stall stayed clean for the new arrival. Buck stood quietly in his stall across the isle. He was a wise old boy and he knew exactly what was going on. Belle was in the kitchen, making coffee.

Karma continued to circle her stall, head lowered and eyes half closed. She was very uncomfortable and didn’t know why, but the humans whom she had come to know and trust were there with her and nobody seemed too concerned. Her friend Buck was standing quietly, sending her silent but comforting assurances and she tossed her head and snorted and continued to circle.

The muscles around her barrel tensed up on her and she tossed her head again with the pain that racked through her body. Her nostrils flared and the whites of her eyes showed and she broke out into a sweat. She didn’t know what was going on, she was getting scared. Then the boss human stroked her neck and spoke quietly to her.

“It’s alright Karma.” Jesse calmed her. “I know this is your first, I know you’re scared. But we’ll look after you. Don’t worry.”

Although Karma could not understand the words, she understood the tone and the assurances behind it and she did calm down a bit. Then her muscles tensed again and she tossed her head and blew out a snort, followed by a groan.

Jed stood quietly outside the stall, not wanting to get in anybody’s way. He’d never seen a foal being born before and he was fascinated by it. He had no intentions of going anywhere. He smiled as he watched Beth soothe the mare and encourage her to be brave. They made a good pair. He thought of his partner, and wished he could be here for this but Jed was going to watch everything and then he could let Heyes know how it all went—next best thing to being here.

Then suddenly Karma lifted her tail and a great gushing of fluid splashed to the floor and she jumped a little bit with the noise it made hitting the straw. Jesse moved in with the pitch fork to clear out as much of the wet bedding as he could.

“That was her water breaking.” Jesse said. “The foal is coming Beth. It’ll be soon now.”

Beth smiled at her father, excited but nervous all at once. She so hoped that everything was going to go smoothly.

Karma circled one more time, and then with another groan of pain she slowly lowered herself down onto her knees and then her huge belly followed and then with a grunt she lay down on her side. She stretched out, trying to relieve the cramping and then the contractions started in earnest. Nostrils flaring and eyes wide with the pain, she grunted and tossed her head. She shifted, trying to ease the cramping, but not having much luck, her breathing was heavy and she was sweating with the strain and the anxiety.

Beth sat by her head, stroking her and whispering gently to her and that did help her to stay calm, just a bit. Jesse was squatted down by Karma’s tail, caressing her flank and saying words of soft encouragement. Karma lay her head down again, and waited, knowing instinctively that there was more to come.

Then a strong contraction assaulted her and she strained for all she was worth. Jesse smiled.

“I’m seeing little pink baby hooves.” He announced.

“Really Papa!” Beth was suddenly excited.

Jed quietly came in to the stall and sat down by Karma’s head.

“You go down and help your Pa.” He said to Beth. “I’ll stay by her.”

Beth hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she should leave Karma’s head, but she so wanted to see a foal being born.

“Go ahead.” Jed repeated. “She’ll be fine.”

Beth smiled and quickly went down to squat beside her father. Her face was radiant, her smile unforgettable.

Another contraction—Karma heaved and pushed again. Her nostrils flaring and eyes wide, she strained and pushed and silently endured.

“The front legs are out.” Jesse announced and he had a hold on them and pulled with Karma’s contractions, trying to help her. It was coming.

“I see a nose!!” Beth exclaimed. “A pink little nose!”

“What colour are the legs?” Jed asked.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to tell.” Beth admitted. “Cream, I think—or white.”

Then Karma gave one more huge push as another contraction hit her and then suddenly, with a rush of fluids and the joyous thrill of new life a large and confused cream coloured foal lay sprawled in the straw.

“Oh Papa! Look! It’s a palomino! It is, isn’t it!?”

“I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment.” Jesse agreed.

“Isn’t it beautiful Thaddeus?!”

Jed was grinning from ear to ear. He couldn’t help it.

Karma-Lou heaved herself up onto her side and tried to reach her new baby. She couldn’t quite do it, so she stretched out her front legs, almost knocking Jed over in the process and proceeded to lumber her way to her feet. Then she turned and went to her foal and instantly began licking it.

The umbilical cord had still been attached, but Karma’s movement pulled it away from the baby. Jesse quickly clamped the end of it so that it wouldn’t bleed out and then he stood to let the mare do her thing. Beth wasn’t quite ready to leave, and with shining eyes and a smile that wouldn’t quit she sat by the new baby and patted it and stroked it and spoke congratulatory words to the new mother. Karma continued to lick her new foal.

“Well Jesse.” Asked Jed as he stood up. “Is it a colt or a filly?”

Jesse sighed, just a little disappointed.

“No, it’s a filly.” He said. “But that’s alright. I can see that I chose the right stallion because the quality is undeniable. I’ll breed Karma back to that same stallion again and then next year we’ll get the colt.”

Then Jesse stroked the mare gently as she continued to clean her baby. She was still having minor contractions and hadn’t passed the after-birth, so they would be out in the barn with her for a while yet. It didn’t really matter though, because Beth didn’t look as though she intended to go anywhere anyways.

“So what do you think Beth?” Jesse asked her. “Do you already have a name picked out for her, or do you need time to think about it?”

Beth looked up at her father with sparkling eyes.

“She’s so pretty—all golden and white.” Beth said. “As soon as I saw her she reminded me of that meadow up by the creek where the willow tree stands, that meadow gets so covered in daisy’s in the summer time that all you can see as far as the horizon is gold and white! So that’s what I’m going to name her; Daisy!”


Date Posted:02/27/2012 1:54 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:15 pm

From Remuda


The Golden Spike


“Harry, it’ll never work!

“Oh, come on, Heyes! How can you say that, with all the plans you’ve made that worked out? We just perfect the plan until it’s foolproof.”

Kid Curry shook his head. “Harry, you’re new here, so maybe you don’t appreciate the way we work. Even if we were able to pull it off, it wouldn’t be worth it – like Heyes told ya, it’s only fourteen ounces of gold. Too much risk for too little reward!”

Harry pushed on. “Kid, it’s not the amount of gold that matters here, it’s being able to achieve the objective!”

Blue eyes rolled. “Whatever ya say, Harry. There’s no talkin’ sense to ya.” Kid turned to his partner.

Hannibal Heyes sighed. “Harry, if you would come up with something we could actually pull off, then maybe. But this is silly. And Kid’s right, it isn’t worth the risk.”

“But, Heyes, you’re always up for a challenge, and this would be a big one.”

“A big one? How? It’s small potatoes. It’s just as harebrained as wanting to rob the Denver Mint! And we’d have to melt it down ourselves to be able to do anything with it.”

“Ah, Heyes, that’s where you’re wrong. You don’t melt down a thing of such historical value. You ransom it. Think of it as a kidnapping, except it’s a thing, not a person.”

“But we’re not in the kidnapping business, Harry. It’s not what we do.”

“But, Heyes…”

“No! And that’s final!”

Heyes calmly strode to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee, his back to the would-be newest member of the Devil’s Hole Gang. He stayed in that position a long few seconds before turning around. To the outlaw leader, Harry appeared crestfallen.

Conciliatorily, “Look, Harry, I’m more than willing to listen to a good plan. But it has to be something we can pull off, and not run too much risk. We don’t want to compromise ourselves. That make sense?”

A smirk. “Maybe. But, Heyes…”

Heyes raised his voice a tad. “No more! If you come up with something more realistic, we’ll talk. But for now…” He shook his head, “No…”

The outlaw leader did not appear to be finished. Harry and Kid waited, expectantly.

“Besides, that’s one target that’ll remain off limits.”

“Why, Heyes?”

Brown eyes ablaze, the outlaw leader’s anger turned on a dime. His voice rose more than a tad this time, “Don’t challenge me, Harry! The answer’s ‘no,’ and that’s final!”

Kid stepped forward, grabbing a startled Harry by the arm. “Come on, Harry, time for ya to go back to the bunk house. The boys probably have a poker game goin’. Cool off a bit.” He opened the door of the leader’s cabin and practically shoved the man through the threshold.

Harry turned to see the door slam in his face.

On the other side of it, Kid faced his cousin. “Okay, Heyes, what was that all about? Sure, Harry’s a whiner and a dreamer, but why the reaction? That’s not like you.”

Coffee cup in hand, Heyes sat down at the table. He stared at the dark liquid for a moment, before locking eyes with his partner. His demeanor was quiet. “I guess he hit a nerve.”

Kid pulled up a chair. He spoke matter-of-factly, “Yeah, but why?”

Brown eyes regarded blue for a quick second before contemplating coffee again. “It’s personal.”

“Personal? The golden spike?”

A sigh. “Yeah.”

“Why?”

Heyes regarded Kid. “Guess I never told ya. I was there.”

“Where?”

“There.”

Kid rolled his eyes. “Where, there?”

“At Promontory Summit.”

“How? We…we were…”

Heyes interrupted. “We’d just broken up. I headed to Utah. You know that.”

Kid nodded.

“Well, I told ya I was scoutin’ for the railroad the last few months…”

“Uh huh.”

Heyes took a deep breath. “I was at Promontory Summit for the ceremony.”

“How…?”

Heyes stood up, obviously frustrated. “Gee, Kid, you’re smarter than that. Do I have to lay it all out for ya?!”

Kid’s brow furrowed. He spoke in a strong, but still quiet, voice. “Heyes, I don’t read minds.”

Heyes leaned against the fireplace, facing it, seemingly lost in thought.

A long minute of silence passed.

“Heyes?”

Nothing.

Louder, “Heyes?”

A sigh.

Kid rose and walked the few steps to his partner’s side. He regarded him, placed a hand on his shoulder.

Heyes looked down momentarily before locking eyes with Kid for a second, then looked away.

“What?”

The outlaw leader took a deep breath, which he held for a second before exhaling. He bit his lip, shook his head.

“Heyes? What is it? Tell me.”

Finally, softly, “It’s personal, Kid.”

The blue-eyed man nodded. “Okay.” He squeezed Heyes’ shoulder before heading for the door. “I’ll be in the bunk house.” He reached for the latch.

“Kid?” Heyes turned toward his partner. “Wait.”

The blond man regarded Heyes.

“Sit down.” Heyes nodded to a chair. “Ya always like a story? I’ll tell ya a story…”

Kid stood, frozen, eyes locked on Heyes. He sat down, waited.

Heyes took another deep breath. He paced, stopped, opened his mouth as if to speak…Sighed.

Kid tracked his every movement, anticipated – patiently.

Finally, Heyes spoke, “I guess I should have told you this a long time ago…”

***

“You there! Heyes, is it?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Over here!”

The wide-eyed youth squinted, the rays of the sun almost blinding him as he stepped out of the grading line and ran the short distance to the man on horseback. He looked up.

“So’s ya got a good eye.”

“A good eye, sir?”

“Yup. Ya sighted them Injun tracks when no one else did; gave us enough time to stop that attack before it even got started. Where’d ya learn that?”

“From my pa, sir. We hunted a lot.”

“Your pa’s a fair tracker, is he?”

Heyes sighed. “He was…”

“Sorry, son. The war?”

The youth nodded, grim-faced. He contemplated the ground.

“Too many good men lost.”

Heyes regarded him. “Yes, sir.”

“You mind your manners real good, too.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“How good a shot are ya?”

Heyes thought. At eighteen, he did not have the speed of his sixteen-year-old cousin, but he was accurate – not as fast, but accurate nonetheless. (Hmm, it would be nice to have Jed there by his side. Oh well. Not to be right now.) But speed wasn’t the question at hand. “I can generally hit what I aim at, sir.”

“And you can handle a rifle, and that sidearm of yours?”

His chest puffed, but just a little. He replied with a tone to match, “Yes, sir.”

“Cocksure of yourself, are ya?”

Heyes shrugged; he sported a lopsided grin.

“How’d ya like to eat less dust? Maybe get off the gradin’ line?”

Enthusiastically, “Yes, sir!”

“We need more scouts out ahead – watch for sign, hunt, forage to supplement the meat. Pays better than the grademen, not as much as the ironmen. Interested in joinin’ us?”

Grinning broadly and dimples in full glory, Heyes nodded. “Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t mention it. I’m Settles. I head up the scouts. Get your gear, then come find me. I’ll go over what ya need to know; show ya where to bunk.”

Another squint.

“First thing ya need to know is I don’t tolerate insolence!”

Heyes froze.

A wink.

The youth smiled.

“Git goin’.”

“Yes, sir!”

***

Job Settles scrutinized the boy – young man – who stood before him. “How old are ya, son?”

“Just turned eighteen, sir.”

“Mite young.”

“I can do the job.”

Unseen by Heyes, the older man’s brow furrowed beneath the mane of flowing locks that found its way into his face, obstructing his vision momentarily before he raked it back under a weathered grey hat that blended in with the color of his hair. He spoke matter-of-factly, “Sure of yourself, are ya?”

Heyes gulped. Hesitantly, “Yes, sir.”

“Ya don’t sound too sure of yourself now.”

“I…I can do it, sir.”

Settles audibly drew in a deep breath. He nodded, as if in thought. His eyes never left Heyes. “I think ya can, too. That’s why I wanted ya for my detail. Just need to make sure I was right, before puttin’ ya out there. It can be dangerous, this scoutin’ business.”

The youth nodded imperceptibly, relaxing a little.

“We’re almost finished, windin’ down. But we still need to know what’s yonder. And whatever forage you come across doesn’t hurt. Ya got a mount?”

Heyes shook his head.

“Cat got your tongue all of a sudden, boy?”

“No, sir.”

Settles squinted against the afternoon sun, a half smile appearing. “No, sir, no mount? Or, no, sir, the cat don’t have your tongue?”

Heyes visibly relaxed. “Both, sir.”

***

Scouting detail agreed with Heyes. Freed from the grading line and the constant din of the hammering that followed it, he found freedom on horseback, riding ahead with the other scouts to make sure the way was clear for the advancing iron rails. Indian sign abated after that last sighting, but so was forage scarce in the desert-like conditions of Northern Utah. The buffalo hunters kept the crews stocked with meat, and there was talk of one in particular who reckoned he had felled thousands, far exceeding his contracted-for amount. Heyes only glimpsed the newly named “Buffalo Bill” from a distance, the faraway figure reminding him of a younger version of his mentor, Job Settles.

Heyes thought “Old Job” Settles well-named. Under a gruff exterior existed a soft heart, but perhaps only for the greenest of his detail. However, under his tutelage, the youth’s natural abilities shined, the proverbial patience of his namesake coming to the fore in a way that only Heyes seemed favored to witness, as if some destined connection quickly took hold and germinated. And since most of the other scouts had at least eight years and concomitant experience on Heyes, no jealousy existed. Indeed, after a brief period of playful initiation, they too appreciated the youth’s obvious smarts and shrewdness.

“You’ll lead men someday,” noted Settles. “Hell, you’re just about leadin’ ‘em here!”

“You’re in charge,” came the respectful reply.

Gruffly, “Might be, boy. But nigh on too long, we’ll be done here, and you’ll be off on your own. Ya got a good head for makin’ your way in the world.”

Sheepishly, “Thanks.”

“T’is true, boy. Ya meet back up with your kin – you’ll both be better off for it. Truer words I never spake.”

Heyes thought for a moment. “I do wanna meet up with Jed again. Stupid what broke us up.” A pause. Softly, “I’m thinking you and me are sorta like kin now. Where ya headed after this? Ya never have said.”

“I got no real plans, boy – I go as the wind blows. Might finally see fit to enter a contest down south – a little bit of somethin’ I can tack on my name.”

Curiously, “What kind of contest?”

Chuckling, “A trackin’ contest, boy.” Settles regarded Heyes. “Ya know, you’d gimme some right competition. Maybe ya follow me for that long, anyway.”

Heyes’ grin grew as he nodded assent. “I like that idea just fine. But I know who’ll win, and it ain’t me.”

The men – experienced and barely – passed a moment of silent agreement, and rode on.

***

As the iron ribbon of the transcontinental railroad neared its completion, news of a ceremony involving dignitaries and a commemorative tie and spikes filtered through the camps. Indeed, the governor of California personally transported the golden spike from Sacramento via a special train.

Crews spelled each other in a last rush to finish the track. Finally, one last tie remained to be laid, but first a specially made and polished laurel board pre-augered with holes for the golden spike and three others would be put in place for the commemoration.

Delayed several days, the ceremony finally got underway. Due to the significance of the occasion, hundreds of people gathered to watch. Politicians, railroad officials, several companies of the Twenty-first Infantry, men of the various crews, and curious onlookers assembled.

The crowds jockeyed for position to hear various orators. When calls for them to move back went unheeded by some of the throng, Settles and his scouts rode in to keep order.

The chief of scouts ordered his men to various parts of the line, detailing Heyes to the far end on one side – it seeming the more cooperative part of the assembly – while he rode to the far end. However, the youth noted the throng was, for the most part, orderly – their excitement and enthusiasm, palpable; the occasion, auspicious. Colorful pennants waved in the breeze. Children ran forward and parents after them.

The speeches droned on, and were difficult to hear at that distance, although the speakers were not that far away. Heyes witnessed the dignitaries – the governor of California, who was also the president of the Central Pacific, and his equal on the Union Pacific’s side – simultaneously attempt to tap the ceremonial spikes into place, missing and hitting rail first before finding the heads of the spikes on the second try, drawing spirited cheers from the crowd.

Less than an hour after it began, the ceremony ended. The dignitaries and officials having quit the scene, workers moved in to remove the commemorative laurel tie and gold and silver spikes, replacing them with a regulation tie and iron spikes.

Souvenir hunters in the crowd surged forward. Settles signalled his men to restore order. Heyes saw his mentor and a couple of other scouts on horseback, trying to move the throng back. He also took notice of knives in the hands of some men in the crowd, slashing at the laurel tie for mementos. Jostling on one side drew his attention away and he galloped off in the other direction in an attempt to quell a potential mob scene.

Order restored, he turned back some minutes later. A few souvenir hunters still did their best to get to the laurel tie, but it was soon out of reach as a crew finally broke through the throng to carry it away.

Heyes reached for his canteen. Although the weather was pleasant, the men of the scouting detail had worked up quite a thirst in trying to control the crowd. As he gulped, Heyes noticed Settles’ big bay roaming freely off to one side. He presumed the older man had dismounted to tend to something pressing; perhaps a lost child had wandered into the midst of determined souvenir seekers and needed immediate protection. Thoughts passed as his attention turned to the warm liquid coursing down his throat, slaking his thirst, if not a feeling of foreboding.

***

As the afternoon wore on, crowds slowly thinned. Groups of dignitaries and officials posed for photographs and talked to reporters.

Off crowd control, Heyes went in search of Settles. Arriving back at camp, he found several of his cohorts standing around, idle. A few seemed in a state of shock.

The second-in-command looked sorrowfully at Heyes. “Sorry, boy. I know he was like a pappy to ya.”

Heyes froze, his visage projecting the rising panic he felt.

“Ol’ Job. He was hit in the wrist with a blade that flew off the knife of one of them souvenir hunters. Bled out afore the doc could get to him. Damn shame. He never had a chance.”

The breath went out of the youth, and he sank to his knees.

***

Silence filled the leader’s cabin.

Lips pursed, Heyes stared at the fire. The memory seemed as real as yesterday.

Kid focused on his partner. Quietly, “I’m sorry, Heyes.”

The outlaw leader turned. He glanced at the blond man. “Thanks. It was a long time ago.”

“So you went south after that.”

“Yeah. Wasn’t sure if I should, but it’s what we’d planned on.”

“And you won the contest.”

“Yup. But I shouldn’t have. It was meant for him.”

Thoughtfully, “He’d have wanted it that way.”

Heyes turned back to the fire. “Maybe.”

Kid rose and strode to his partner’s side, clasped his shoulder. “Champeen Tracker of all Southern Utah…You’re kinda proud of it. Means somethin’ to ya.”

Heyes glanced at Kid with a sorrowful half smile. “Hmm. Only because of him.”

“A fittin’ tribute.”

“I suppose.”

Kid clapped Heyes’ back. “Come on. Let’s go see what the boys are up to.”

The outlaw leader nodded.

The two went out on the porch. Harry was waiting for them.

“Heyes.”

Kid spoke, “Harry, we told ya ‘no.’”

Pleadingly, “But, Kid…”

Heyes regarded the hanger-on. “No buts, Harry. Let it go.” Pause. “Matter of fact, you go, Harry. You’re just not suited for the Devil’s Hole Gang.”

Leaving a dumbfounded Harry in front of the cabin, Heyes turned, walked inside, and shut the door.




Author's Notes: Some creative license was taken for the story. A spectator did indeed have the artery in his wrist cut with a flying blade during the scramble for souvenirs after the ceremony, but a doctor was able to dress the wound in time, and he recovered.

The ceremony at Promontory Summit was quite the event in its day, but faded in importance over time. As well, public sentiment for the accomplishment of the transcontinental railroad turned sour due to the Credit Mobilier scandal a few short years later.


Additional information can be found at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Railroad

http://history.utah.gov/historical_society/educational_resources/lesson_plans/documents/ArticleRendezvousatPromontoryEDITED.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cr%C3%A9dit_Mobilier_of_America_scandal





(Message edited by Remuda On 02/28/2012 11:40 PM)
Fast is good. But accuracy is everything. -- Wyatt Earp

Date Posted:02/28/2012 11:33 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:19 pm

From Penski

When I told hubby that Golden was the challenge for the month, he came up with this idea and challenged me to write it. Blame him! (Hoping those of you across the pond are familiar with these characters.)



“Breckenridge… Breckenridge … Next stop is Breckenridge!” the train conductor announced as he walked through the car.

Several folks collected their belongings, ready to disembark when the train reached the station. Included were two men who gathered their saddle bags and put on their hats, one black and the other brown.

Heyes studied the schedules one more time before putting them in his pocket.

“Got enough time for a beer before the stage leaves?” Kid asked.

Heyes stood up and stretched as the train stopped. “Looks like we have about an hour. Should probably buy our tickets first.”

Curry nodded and the two followed the other passengers off the railcar.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Lucky gettin’ those last two seats.” Kid took a swallow from his mug.

“Sure was – should probably get going.” Heyes finished the last of his beer.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Already at the stagecoach station were four women old enough to be the boys’ mothers.

“Oh, I’ve never rode on a stagecoach,” one of the ladies exclaimed, as the stage with four tired horses came around the corner. “How exciting! Why, in St. Olaf we only have Svenson’s carriage and livery in the summer, but we ice skated mostly in the winter.”

“You ice skated everywhere, Rose?” the taller of the four women asked.

“Don’t ya know, the St. Olaf Main Street is all ice in the winter. Why, once there was so much snow…”

“I think that nice looking gentleman wishes for us to board, ladies.” One with a southern drawl smiled seductively at the baggage handler. “Are you going with us?”

“No, ma’am,” the young man blushed.

“Can we finally get in? I want a window seat.” The oldest one reached up to turn the latch.

Curry stepped forward and opened the door. “Allow me, ma’am,” as he assisted the lady into the coach.

Heyes threw his saddle bags up to the driver and then took Curry’s and tossed his bags up while the Kid helped the four ladies inside.

The four women each sat by a window. Kid glanced in and one of the gals patted the seat next to her.

“You can sit next to me,” the southern gal licked her lips.

“Yes, ma’am.” Curry got in and sat in the middle.

Heyes climbed inside and took the other vacant seat in the middle just as the stage jerked forward with a new set of four fresh horses. He quickly put an arm across the oldest gal who was about to fall off the bench.

“Is the whole trip gonna be like that?” she complained.

“Ma, I told you to hang on.”

“It’ll smooth out some now that we’re going,” Heyes explained with a smile.

“My, what handsome men we have traveling with us.” She held out her hand. “I’m Blanche Devereaux from Atlanta. And you are?”

“Joshua Smith. And sitting next to you is my partner, Thaddeus Jones.”

Kid nodded and tipped his hat. “Atlanta? You sure are a long way from home.”

The one of the other side of Kid smiled. “I’m Rose Nylund from St. Olaf, Minnesota.”

“Dorothy Petrillo from Brooklyn,” the tall one next to Heyes stated matter of fact. “And this is my ma, Sophia.”

The oldest lady nodded and looked out the window.

“Brooklyn? Is that near New York City?” Heyes asked.

“How right you are!” Dorothy smiled. “You must have been a brilliant student, Mr. Smith. Teachers enjoy having students who are inquisitive and eager to learn.”

“He always was the teacher’s pe…”

Heyes glared at Kid.

“Was the teacher’s favorite pupil,” Curry corrected himself. “Are you a teacher, ma’am?”

Sophia turned from the window and spat, “A spinster teacher… never married. And not able to care for her mother in her old age.”

“Ma!” Dorothy scowled at her mother and then smiled. “Why yes, I was a teacher. Recently retired now.”

“From different parts of the country and yet you seem to be traveling together,” Heyes observed.

“Oh yah, we met in St Louis and took the train. We’re on a stagecoach going to Leadville,” Rose informed them. “I’ve never been on a stagecoach like this. Why, back in St. Olaf we had a sleigh wagon, but…”

“Rose, they know we’re going to Leadville.” Blanche rolled her eyes. “That’s where this stage is going so they must be going there, too.”

“You are?” Rose asked. “You’ll be traveling with us all the way there?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Kid smiled. “Not much between Breckenridge and Leadville. Just a stage stop in the middle to change the horses.”

Blanche’s hand rested on Curry’s thigh. “And what do you two strong men do?”

Kid gave Heyes a look when his partner grinned as he politely removed the hand.

“We go from place to place looking for jobs,” Heyes told them.

“Are you going to Leadville for a job?” Blanche asked, as she put her hand back on Kid’s thigh. “Young, strappin’ men like you must have no problems getting work.”

“Ma’am.” Curry removed the hand again as Heyes smirked.

“Blanche, leave that young man alone,” Dorothy reprimanded.

“Why? I’m single again with George gone,” Blanche lamented.

“Recently widowed,” Rose corrected her. “We all are.”

“Not my Dorothy, though,” Sophia griped. “Why couldn’t you have married a nice man like one of these cowboys?”

“You’re all recent widows?” Heyes asked.

“It was a mining accident,” Rose began. “The mine was a hole in the ground, I guess. We don’t have those in Minnesota.”

“Our husbands went West to find their pot of gold and met in Leadville,” Blanche continued. “They didn’t find gold, but they did find a large silver vein.”

“The fools mined it themselves instead of hiring others. Got themselves blown up.” Sophia shook her head in disgust. “Salvadore, God rest his soul,” she crossed herself, “had no business being in that mine at his age.”

Kid removed Blanche’s hand again. “Sorry to hear that.”

“But they left us rich!” Rose said enthusiastically. “Why, in St. Olaf, I was up at sunrise milking cows and making cheese, but now I don’t have to.”

“So you’re going to Leadville to claim your mine?” Heyes inquired.

“We sure are. And maybe a rich husband, too!” Blanche winked at Heyes. “Are you rich?”

“Ah, no ma’am. Me and my partner are not rich, right Thaddeus?”

“Barely have hundred dollars between the two of us,” Kid confirmed.

“A hundred dollars! Why, that rich in St. Olaf. You could own a couple cows and maybe a goat or two. Goat cheese is really good.”

“So you’ve never been to Leadville?” Kid furrowed his brow. “It’s awful wild for ladies like yourselves.”

“Really?!” Blanche bit her lower lip. “Wild men?”

“Dangerous men,” Heyes corrected her. “Men who might take advantage of the situation.”

“My, you don’t say!” Blanche fanned herself.

“That’s why I bought this.” Dorothy pulled a derringer out of her purse and pointed straight towards Kid.

“Ma’am!” Heyes quickly pointed the gun down. “You could kill someone with that.”

“I know. That’s why I bought it to protect me and ma.”

“May I see it?” Kid took the proffered gun. “Have you shot it before?”

“Oh no. I won’t put bullets in it. It’s just to scare them.”

“Ma’am, if you’re gonna have a gun, you’re gonna have to be ready to shoot to kill ‘cause the other folk ain’t gonna know it’s not loaded and his will be.” Kid checked the chamber. “No bullets.”

“But you should always treat a gun like it’s loaded,” Heyes took the gun Kid handed him and gave it back to Dorothy.

The stage began to slow down.

“We’re slowing down.” Blanche grasped Kid’s leg. “Are we being robbed by some bad outlaws?”

“Most likely we’re at the stage stop, ma’am.” Kid sighed and gave his partner a look of frustration.

“About time. I could use a stretch.” Sophia looked out the window. “There’s a house and barn coming up.”

“That’d be the stop,” Heyes informed them. “While they change the horses, we’ll be offered drinks inside.”

“A drink? I could use a sherry.” Blanche snuggled closer to Kid. “How about you?”

“Some milk sounds good,” Rose added.

Heyes grinned at his partner’s predicament. “Probably will just be water, ladies.”

The stage stopped and Heyes got out, followed by Curry.

“Heyes, she just patted my… she touched me,” Kid hissed.

Heyes chuckled as he helped Dorothy, Rose, Sophia and Blanche out of the coach.

This way, ladies,” the driver directed them inside. “There’s a place to get freshened up and have a drink inside.”

“Heyes, shoot me now. And I thought you could talk!”

“Looks like you got your hands full, Kid.”

“She won’t keep her hands off of me… And she’s old enough to be my mother!” Kid complained. “We tradin’ places and you can sit next to that lady. Maybe we should just walk the rest of the way to Leadville.”

“Nah, they’re just lonely and harmless women, Kid. Besides, you heard them, they’re rich.”

“I don’t care if they’re golden girls…”

“Not gold,” Heyes corrected him. “Silver.”

“That oldest one…”

“Sophia.”

“She sure is grouchy.”

Heyes nodded in agreement. “She’s a small lady with a big mindset.”

“And then there’s her daughter, the teacher. Surprised them two haven’t killed each other yet.”

“Some might wonder the same about us, Kid.”

“And where is St. Olaf? Sounds like a different country.”

“If I remember right, Minnesota is northeast of here. Has some long, cold winters.”

“And Blanche what’s-her-name,” Kid shuddered. “She’s… improper!”

“You don’t seem to mind when a saloon gal puts her hand on your leg.”

“Heyes, there’s a big difference between one of them gals and this lady. She’s a recent widow and old enough to be my ma.”

Heyes chuckled.

“It ain’t funny, Heyes.”

“We better go inside and get a drink before we have to take off again.”

“Just remember you’re sittin’ next to her for the rest of the trip.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes and Curry helped the four ladies back in the stagecoach before boarding themselves. Kid sat between Sophia and Dorothy, leaving Heyes to sit between Rose and Blanche.

“Changing places?” Blanche questioned.

“Yes, ma’am.” Heyes gave her a dimpled smile. “My partner gets sick if he has to ride backwards the whole way.”

Blanche took in the dimpled smile and fluttered her eyes. “We wouldn’t want that,” she drawled as she put a hand on Heyes’ leg.

Heyes smiled as he removed her hand and kept his hand over hers to keep it from wandering back. “No ma’am, we wouldn’t.”

Kid gave his partner a smirk.

Rose looked out the window. “Think we’re see Indians?”

“Rose, all the Indians are on reservations,” Dorothy informed her.

“Reservations? Like for dinner?” Rose looked confused.

Dorothy rolled her eyes. “No, reservations as in land set aside by the government for the Indians to live.”

“And they can’t leave?”

“Not all Indians are on the reservations and they do leave.” Heyes joined in on the conversation.

“Yep, in fact, me and Heyes were captured by Indians in Arizona.”

“You were?!” all the ladies asked in unison.

“Did they scalp you?” Rose asked innocently.

“Did they scalp them,” Sophia muttered under her breath and shook her head.

Kid chuckled. “Nope. We still have our hair. We were hired by somebody to get back their gold on land the Indians thought was theirs.”

“A government man we had met at the hotel talked them into releasing us.” Heyes continued the story.

“Did they live in tepees or huts,” Dorothy asked, curious. “I’ve read some about the Indians out west.”

“These Indians, the Chiricahua, lived in tepees. That’s where they kept us,” Kid told the ladies.

Dorothy looked inquisitive. “I never heard of those Indians.”

“Part of the Apache tribe,” Heyes informed her.

“How interesting!” Dorothy said, absorbing the information.

“Too bad you didn’t find getting a husband interesting,” Sophia said. “You might be married and gave me grandchildren.”

“Ma,” Dorothy warned. “Don’t start that again.”

“When are we getting there? Tired of all this traveling. What was Salvadore, God rest his soul,” she crossed herself, “thinking coming this far away from home.”

“Maybe he wanted to get away from you,” Rose proposed. “I think my Charlie came out here because of his mother, who was living with us.”

“Get away from me!?”

“Now ma, calm down.”

“I’m joining this part of the trip with these two handsome men,” Blanche cooed as she put her other hand over Heyes’ hand. “Such gentlemen.”

Heyes tightly smiled at Blanche. “I’m sure we must be getting close to Leadville.”

“We better be,” Kid muttered under his breath.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry assisted the ladies from the stagecoach while Heyes helped the driver with the bags.

“Been nice visiting with you all,” Kid tipped his hat after taking his saddle bag.

“Now you ladies be careful in Leadville! Go straight inside this nice hotel and get rooms. Then visit the assay office,” Heyes advised.

“And Dorothy, keep that derringer outta sight unless you plannin’ on usin’ it!” Kid warned as he followed Heyes to the nearest saloon.

“Bye, Joshua! Bye, Thaddeus! Maybe we’ll see you around.” The ladies waved and shouted their farewells.

“Not if I can help it,” Heyes said quietly as he entered the saloon.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

A week later, Heyes and Kid bought stagecoach tickets to leave Leadville. They sat on a bench, waiting for the stage to arrive.

“Been a nice week, Heyes,” Kid said as he stretched out.

“And profitable, too.” Heyes patted his pocket. “We both did well at the tables.”

“Don’t forget a quiet week.”

“Yep, didn’t run into any of those four ladies.”

“Wonder how they’re doin’?”

Heyes sighed and closed his eyes. “You had to ask, didn’t you.”

“Well, look who’s here – Joshua and Thaddeus!” Dorothy said surprised as the ladies crossed the street.

“Oh, are you taking the stage, too?” Rose asked, excited.

“This stage? You’re all on this stage?” Kid asked.

“I can’t wait to leave this so-called town and get back to civilization,” Sophia stated.

“Town is full of ruffians,” Blanche shuddered. “A little too wild for me.”

“What happened with the mine?” Heyes asked.

“We went to the assay office, like you said…” Dorothy started.

“Crooks – all of them!” Sophia interrupted.

“Ma! As I was saying, they recommended that we sell the mine and that a place in Denver could help us with that,” Dorothy continued.

Kid tipped his hat up. “So your trip here wasn’t necessary?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that!” Blanche drawled. “I said good-bye to George.”

“And I said good-bye to my Charlie,” Rose added.

“And me and ma said good-bye to my dad,” Dorothy finished.

“Salvadore, God rest his soul,” Sophia crossed herself, “what a fool.”

“Oh good! Here comes the stage,” Rose pulled a ticket out of a handbag.

“Are you handsome men coming, too?” Blanche winked seductively at Heyes and Kid.

“We…” Kid started.

“We were just sitting here passing the day away, hope to see you and send you on your way.” Heyes smiled.

“Oh,” Blanche said, deflated. “I was so hoping you would be going back with us.”

Kid opened the door and helped the ladies in. “You all have a safe ride.”

Heyes tipped his hat. “Take care of yourselves.”

A chorus of “Good-bye, Joshua! Good-bye, Thaddeus!” could be heard as the stagecoach left the town.

“Phew… that was close. I wasn’t about to spend more time in a stage with them.”

“Me neither. We’ll leave tomorrow.” Heyes grinned. “How about a drink?”

“Sounds like one of your better plans, Heyes.”



(Message edited by PenskiASJ On 02/29/2012 8:28 PM)
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
Date Posted:02/29/2012 8:27 PM
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PostSubject: Re: February 2012 Golden   Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:23 pm

From Shenango


Late, but at least it's here. Enjoy, gang.

Golden
by Shenango


Kid Curry was finally asleep. He'd been sitting up all night, well, for the past two nights, watching over his partner. Hannibal Heyes was finally sleeping, too. He'd been unconscious for over a day and a half after having been shot. Curry was determined to make sure his partner was going to live, because, well, it was his partner, and that's what partners do for each other.

Mrs. Kilgore, an motherly woman, took to that nice young Mr. Jones the minute he showed up on her doorstep. Why, any young man such as he was who took that much care for his friend, well, it just wouldn't have been Christian of her to have turned them out. And with the weather on the edge like that; well the rain had been coming and stopping for several days and it was the time of year when they would be expecting more to come. It just wouldn't do for them to have to travel any farther.

She sent her fourteen year-old son, David, to fetch Doc Spaulding. The Doc would know what to do and how to help that poor young Mr. Smith. Mrs. Kilgore could tell right off that they had to be kin, just by the way they acted with each other. Mr. Jones, Thaddeus, he said to call him, took extra care to make sure that Joshua was settled in the bed before seeing to his own needs. When poor Joshua started to fuss before waking up, there was Thaddeus right there, to sooth and calm him down.

Yes, they definitely had to be kin.

The doctor had come and gone a couple times since they had arrived at Mrs. Kilgore's rooming house. It was lucky that the Kid had found them a place to stay so close to where they were when Heyes got shot. Heyes had only been asleep a short time before Curry dropped; then Heyes groaned and with a sharp intake of breath, Curry was instantly awake and watching him.

It was an accident. A damn-fool accident that should never have happened. They had been talking about whether or not to go prospecting for gold again. Heyes was in favor of them going; the Kid didn't want to go. He had argued that the last few times they went prospecting, nothing good came of it. There was the incident with Doc Beauregard, where all their hard work ended up going to pay for a hospital wing. Then there was the time with Danny Bilson. The Kid got satisfaction after that, but once again, they never saw a dime of what they worked so hard to get and Seth was still gone.

Then there was the time in Apache Springs. They did manage to get some gold there, and it wasn't all bad, until they got caught by the Cherakowas.

No, as far as Curry was concerned, they were better off just getting regular jobs than trying to follow another get rich quick scheme for a gold mine somewhere.

For his part, Heyes had agreed. "Kid, I know, I know; it always seems to work against us when we go looking for gold. But maybe this time will be different."

"Heyes, it's never gonna be different. We've tried this three times now and it hasn't been different once. We end up with nothing much to show for our hard work every time. No, I'd rather get a job and a small stake and do what we always do, try to increase that stake with honest poker winnings."

Heyes had to agree with the Kid; he did have a valid point. "I understand what you're saying, Kid, but there's just something about looking for gold that makes it worth the effort."

"What's that, Heyes?"

"Finding it, Kid. Just finding it."

So with that, Curry agreed that they'd give it one more try and go off searching the hills for gold. He had an uneasy feeling to him, which he tried to keep under wraps, just to keep peace with Heyes.

If he'd been honest, Heyes could have been convinced to give up without too much of a fight. The Kid didn't know that, and Heyes never made his own uneasy feelings known. He was more excited about the quest. "Besides, Kid," Heyes told him, "It will get us away from towns, sheriffs, posses and give us a way to lay low for a while. We'll be out of trouble while we wait for the governor to grant us the amnesty."

"Fine, Heyes, fine. If it's that important to you, then let's just load up some supplies and go. It's not that far, is it?"

"No, Kid. I heard that the latest strikes were just outside of Shelbyville. That's only a couple days ride and we can hole up in the mountains there. Remember we found caves up there to evade a posse once."

And so there they went. Right into an area where they walked into trouble… again.

******

The coffee was cooking on the fire and Heyes was working on some biscuits and bacon when the sound of hooves caused him to look up. Standing, he looked over the two men who had just entered the clearing where he and the Kid were camping. The men riding in didn't look that much different than he and Curry; it was enough to have him put up his guard, and he was a good enough poker player to not show much concern.

"Hey there in the camp," called the man in front. "We smelled your coffee. Can you spare some?"

Heyes was standing, looking them over when he noticed the Kid coming through the trees behind the riders. Sizing them up, he took a moment to get a confirming look from Curry before answering. "We might be able to spare a little. We're kinda low on supplies ourselves. Who would we be sharing it with?"

'Name's Rivers; Jake Rivers. This here's my son, Fred. We're just passing through."

Curry's appearance from behind them started the younger man, who grabbed for his sidearm. "No need for that," he said, aiming his colt at them.

"Fred, relax, boy," Jake ordered. "Sorry, gents. My son here's a bit jumpy."

"Is there a reason to be jumpy, Fred?" Heyes questioned him.

Fred looked sheepishly at his Pa before speaking. "No, sir, sorry. You started me is all."

Curry walked closer. "Well as long as you can keep those guns holstered, you're welcome to a cup of coffee. Step down," he invited them.

Heyes poured coffee for them all as he and Curry enjoyed small talk with their visitors. It was during this that it happened.

I small, gold colored snake climbed out from behind the rock where Heyes was sitting. Young Fred was startled by the movement, and in a second of fear had drawn the gun he was carrying and aimed in the general direction of the snake. Unfortunately, Fred's aim wasn't anything at all like the practiced ease shown by Mr. Jones, who had turned away from Mr. Smith right before the snake showed itself.

Fred, who had been practicing his quick draw after reading a dime novel about Hannibal Heyes, Kid Curry and the Devil's Hole Gang, easily drew, but his aim was off. Just that fast, Fred shot Heyes in the side. The injury could have been worse, and in the split second that it happened, the real Kid Curry turned, drew and killed the snake.

Unfortunately, the damage to Heyes had been done. Fred was so surprised by Mr. Jones' quick movements, that he dropped the gun he was holding; as if the entire weapon was a hot as the barrel was. Jake was by his son's side in a minute, getting between his son and the now drawn weapon of Kid Curry.

"I'm so sorry!" Fred said. The fear in his voice and in his eyes was evident immediately.

"Joshua," Curry yelled, "Joshua, hey." He was at his side, holding him to keep him from hitting the ground.

Heyes' eyes were glassy, and he was unable to focus. "Uh…" he groaned, then slipped into unconsciousness.

Jake and Fred helped Curry as he got bandages to get the bleeding to stop. They helped to pack up the camp and accompanied Mr. Jones and the still unresponsive Mr. Smith, taking them to Dust Gulch, the closest town. Finally at the boarding house, Jones thanked the pair and sent them on their way.

******
Heyes' eyes fluttered a bit and he tried to focus. The Kid was at his side, waiting for Heyes to wake enough to talk to him. "Heyes," he spoke softly, "You awake yet?"

"Uh…" came the response.

"Yeah," Curry answered him, "You said that right before you passed out. How're you feeling?"

"Kid?" Heyes blinked, trying to focus. "Was I shot? I feel like I got shot."

"Yeah, you were," Curry told him. "That boy, Fred, tried to save you from a snake that crawled out from under that rock you were sitting on and he missed."

Heyes paused to register what he was just told. "There was a snake? I think… was it kind of a gold color?"

Curry nodded.

"And that Fred kid, he shot it?"

"No, Heyes, I shot it. Fred shot you trying to shoot the snake." Heyes quietly considered what he'd been told. "How'd we get to… where are we, anyway?"

"We're in Dust Gulch. Jake and Fred helped me get you here; we're at a boarding house run by Mrs. Kilgore. She said to let her know when you woke up; she's got some broth cooking." Heyes said nothing as he watched Curry go to the door of the room. "I'll be back soon," he said.

By the time he returned with Mrs. Kilgore carrying a small tray with the broth, Heyes was dozing lightly. The sound of the door opening made him open his eyes. They helped him sit up a little and then Curry took the bowl from Mrs. Kilgore and started to feed Heyes. He managed to get quite a bit of it down before exhaustion kicked in and he was having trouble staying awake. Curry's movements near the bed to remove the soup bowl caused Heyes to grimace and he looked at his partner.

"Kid," he started, "I have to admit you were right."

"Right about what, Heyes," The Kid asked him.

"I think you were right about looking for gold. It seems like we can't do it without something happening to us. I think I'm ready to give up on that idea."

"Good," Curry answered him. "We have a small stake, we're going to be fine and when you get up and moving, you can increase it at the poker tables."

He yawned. "Right. No more prospecting. Kid?" Curry looked at him. "Thanks for saving my life again. Having a partner like you is worth more than all the gold we could ever make."

"Go to sleep again, Heyes. You'll need your strength. It's not every day you admit I'm right about something and it's worth the gold we didn't get."

fin




Sometimes I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
Date Posted:03/01/2012 3:39 AM
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