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 June 2013 "I'm out of here!"

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Calico

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PostSubject: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:48 am

The sun is out, sunny
The sky is blue,
May is done...
So, June is due...
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful board.


Hola, hola, summer lovers.

This month you are getting a suggestion from your erudite ranks to get your creative juices gushing like a fanfic geyser.

Your ninspiration is:


"I'm out of here!"
or possibly
"I'm outta here!"

Let the escapology begin!!


AND - since I will be wrassling grizzlies on the 30th June we have a kind volunteer.

For one month only

Mizz Maz thankyou

will be your pollster and July challenge setter. Be gentle with her!!
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Maz

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Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:10 pm

I didn't mean to be first again but when the bunny bounces you have to go with the flow.

“I’m outta here.”
By Maz McCoy


“I knew I should nevera listened to you,” Kid Curry grumbled.
“Huh! You say that now.” Hannibal Heyes brushed dirt from the brim of his hat.
“Well, I shouldn’t.”
“I didn’t hear you complaining when we were planning the hold up.”
“That’s cos it sounded like a good idea.”
“And it was.”
Kid met his friend’s gaze. “Up to a point,” he conceded.
“Did we or did we not stop the train exactly where I said?”
“We did.”
“Did I or did I not open the safe in less than five minutes?” Heyes looked smugly at his partner.
“Yeah, you did,” Kid muttered.
“I didn’t hear you.”
Kid raised his voice. “I said, yes, you did!”
“Was there or was there not over twenty thousand dollars in the safe?”
“Yes.”
“Good. So we have established that it wasn’t a complete failure?”
“Not completely,” Kid admitted, grudgingly.
“Splitting up the money was easy. The bank had even placed it in ten separate bags for us. Wheat and Kyle have theirs and will probably be back at the Hole by now; Preacher should be there by morning. We have ours too. That was all part of the plan. My plan.”
“Yeah, you did pretty well plannin’ for other people, Heyes. It’s a pity you didn’t see this little hic-cup.”
“You chose the escape route.”
“Oh, so this is my fault?” Two ice blue eyes turned on his partner.
“No, but…”
“You think this is my fault!”
“I didn’t say that, Kid, I just…”
“Who said he knew the route through Benson’s Pass? Who claimed he’d spent time up there huntin’ cougars?”
“I did hunt cougars up there.”
“You didn’t recognise any of the rock formations I pointed out as we passed through. You didn’t recognise ANYTHING I pointed out.”
“It was a while ago since I was there.”
“Now you tell me.” Kid shook his head in disbelief and mimicked Heyes’ voice. “Get us to Benson’s Pass, Kid, and I’ll show you an easy route across the mountains. Well, I got us to Benson’s Pass and look where it got us!” Kid grimaced.
“That still hurt?”
“Yes.”
“Want me to take a look?”
“No, Heyes, you’ve done enough for one day.”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
Kid gave a heavy sigh. “I know.” He got unsteadily to his feet.
“You should stay off that foot in case your ankle’s broken,” Heyes advised, watching his friend lean against the rock wall.
“It’s not broken. If it was broken you’d really know about it.” Kid looked up at the circle of sky above them. “D’you think if I helped you, you could get up there?”
“Help me, how? You can’t take my weight?” Heyes got to his feet and looked at the wall. It wouldn’t be an easy climb.
“We hafta do somethin’, Heyes. I am not gonna die in a cougar trap.”
Heyes chuckled. “It’d be ironic though.”
“No, it’d be stupid. Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes caught fallin’ in an animal trap because Heyes thought he recognised a tree.”
“I did recognise the tree.”
“Yeah, cos it marked where a trap was!” Kid grimaced again.
“You really should keep off of that foot.”
“Heyes, you say that one more time and I’m gonna shoot you.” Kid lowered himself to the ground and leaned back against the damp rock wall. He closed his eyes.
“You okay?” Heyes sat down beside his friend.
“Yeah, jus’ thinkin’.”
“What about?”
“How far away from you I’m gonna go, once I’m outta here.”
“That don’t sound too grateful.”
“Grateful?” Kid looked at Heyes in disbelief.
“Well, you do have six thousand dollars in your saddle bags.”
“Yeah, but I don’t have any way of spendin’ them seein’ as how I’m in a hole you led me into!”
“Now, Kid…”
As the camera pulls away from the hole, raised voices can still be heard emanating from it.

_________________
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:02 pm

Well as Maz found, this month that dang bunny jumped quickly and imperatively.

This is from my pre-DHG series, it follows from The Goodnight Trail. Hopefully, even if you're not familiar with that story, it will make sense, even if you don't know any of the other characters.

Git Along Little Dogies (without me)

TEXAS

“There you go, go find your mama.”

Curry pulled away the last branch trapping the calf and watched it hurry off, bawling for its mother. He straightened and took a long drag from his canteen, grimacing at the acrid metallic taste of the heated water. Pulling absent mindedly at his shirt, he noted the gusher of sweat pouring down his back. More flowed from his brow, stinging his eyes. He put away the canteen and pulled off his bandana to swipe his forehead but dropped the already soaked cloth in disgust. Instead, Curry lifted his hat and pushed his dirty curls away from his face, replacing his hat to hold them back.

Remounting his horse, he stood in the stirrups, for a second, to check the surrounding country-side. Finding nothing alarming, he settled into the saddle and narrowed his eyes as he tried to estimate the time from the position of the sun. He guessed he could start heading back to the small homestead and see how Bobby was doing with the chores around the place.

He sighed. Lord he was sick of ranching. Six months he’d been here. Six months of rarely talking to anyone except Betsy and Bobby. Six months of unending work. Then there was that time a couple of months back when he’d sent Bobby galloping as if the hounds of Hell were after him to Palo Duro to get help when Betsy’s time came. Thank goodness they’d made it back before he had to figure out how to birth a baby. Cows were bad enough when they calved, but a woman? Sheesh. He shuddered, remembering his near panic at the thought that he’d have to do it. Then he grinned realizing that Betsy was probably even more panicked than he had been at the thought. Even so, she had retained her gentle smile, even as spasms of pain doubled her over.

Tex was sure in for a surprise when he got home. Bet he never expected twins. Of course, there would be other surprises for Tex when he got home, too, like the new barn. Heyes, too, would be surprised to learn what his little cousin had been doing.

Curry groaned, not that Heyes was ever likely to know -- six months and not a word from Heyes. Tex had managed to send messages to Betsy from every cow town the herd stopped in, but nothing from Heyes. Guess he wouldn’t be coming back with Tex. Well, he’s no doubt happy with Rafe, and I don’t need him anyway, Curry thought. I’m doing just fine on my own. He sighed again, and forced a smile as he saw Bobby riding up from the homestead to meet him.

~~~000~~~

“Mr. Curry! Mr. Curry!”

“Bobby, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Jed? Or even Kid if you must. I’m only a couple of years older’n you and we’ve been together six months now. No reason to call me Mister.”

Bobby grinned. “Yeah, I know. Hey! Guess what? Uncle Tex is home!”

Curry smiled broadly and urged his horse into a quick trot, heading for its barn.

~~~000~~~

He had just finished stowing the tack after grooming his horse when Tex entered the barn, arm wrapped around Betsy and each of them holding a baby.

“Kid! Sure is good to see you again. I can’t thank you enough. Betsy says she doesn’t know what she would have done if you hadn’t come back.”

“Tex. Good to see you. How you doin’? Rest of the trail go smoothly?”

“Yeah, went great and we got a great price for the beeves, too.”

Curry looked at him searchingly, waiting. Tex smiled wryly. “Heyes was fine, Jed, last time I saw him in Cheyenne. But he didn’t give me any messages for you.”

Curry’s shoulders slumped slightly. He raised his head, his face tight. “Wouldn’t expect him to. What’s done is done.”

Betsy looked back and forth at the two. In the months Jed had been with her, she’d heard some about Heyes and guessed more than she’d heard. “Let’s get back to the house, and I’ll make us a feast to celebrate this prodigal’s return.” She smiled broadly at her husband.

~~~000~~~

Supper had been a festive affair. After the dishes had been washed, Tex took out the gifts he had brought – several rolls of dress material for Betsy and a set of silver combs, a tooled leather belt and knife for Bobby, and even a fine belt buckle for Curry.

“Oh, Tex, you shouldn’t have. They’re just lovely. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything this fine in my life.”

“You’re a rancher’s wife now, Betsy; someday it will all be like this.”

“Uncle Tex! This is swell. And, and wait’ll you see, Jed’s been teaching me to shoot. I’m getting real good!”

“Yeah, Bobby – why with another year of practice you might even be able to hit somethin’ on the second try, well third maybe,” Curry teased.

Bobby blushed and laughed. “I’m not that bad.”

“No indeed. Tex you can’t imagine how much help these two fine boys have been,” Betsy started. “I don’t know what I’d have done without them. Especially that awful day those men attacked...”

“WHAT?”

“Now, nothing to worry about, dear. Jed here saved the day, and, and we have a new barn and everything.”

“What happened?” Tex asked grimly, staring at Curry.

“You remember, Tex, how when we got to Fort Sumner you were worried because some of Caulfield’s hired guns were hangin’ around town here.”

“I do.”

“Well, not much to tell. I’d been here about two weeks when they attacked the place. Guess they figured a lone woman with just two boys made an easy target. Anyway, it didn’t work out quite the way they expected…”

“Uncle Tex, you should have seen it!” broke in Bobby excitedly. “There were a lot of them, ten, maybe a dozen or more…”

“Six…”

“Well, anyway, more’n us. Jed made Aunt Betsy take some blankets and hide in the root cellar, then he told me to go over behind the barn and take the shotgun, said not to shoot unless I had to, but if I had to to aim just above their middle, that with a shotgun I wouldn’t miss that way.” He gulped and paled. “He was right, one came at me and I did what he said. It worked.”

Tex turned his eyes to Curry.

“It wasn’t as bad as they make it seem; I kept them from the house and before too long, Luke and some of the Palo Duro hands came up to help chase ‘em off. But we couldn’t save the barn.”

“Uncle Tex! Jed held off the six of them for over an hour, all by himself. He’s amazing! Luke says no one else coulda done it.” Bobby turned adoring eyes on his hero.

“Just did what I promised, helped out here, Tex.” Quietly, Curry muttered to himself, “And I wasn’t about to see another family wiped out.”

Tex turned a pale face to Curry. “Thank you, Jed. I… I… Thank you.”

“Yeah, well... Come on, Bobby; let’s head out to the barn. It’s been a long day, and tomorrow’s gonna come too soon as it is.”

~~~000~~~

Tex entered the barn, just as Jed and Bobby rose, yawning. “Bobby, why don’t you go fetch some water for Betsy then see how you can help her this morning.”

“Sure thing, Uncle Tex.”

The two watched him run off.

“He’s a good kid, Tex. Seems to love ranchin’.”

“Mmm. And you? Do you love ranching?”

Curry looked at Tex.

“Look, Kid, Jed, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for Betsy and me. If you hadn’t been here…” Tex broke off. “I wish I could keep you on, but I just can’t afford it. I’ll give you some money…”

“That wasn’t our deal, Tex. You’ve already given me extra with this belt buckle, which I surely do thank you for. Told you the money you gave me in Fort Sumner and Betsy’s cooking were enough. Betsy’s a mighty fine cook, Tex.”

“Yes, she’s a mighty fine woman all round. I know the money wasn’t part of the deal, but right now it’s all I can offer. Gunfights weren’t part of the deal, either. I want to do this, Kid. These past few days since I’ve been back, I’ve seen how hard you work. Anyway, what I was starting to say was I can’t afford to keep you on, but if you want, I’m sure Mr. Goodnight would hire you, permanent like, or any of the other ranchers around here. They’re all pretty impressed with how you handled those trouble-makers.”

Curry faced him, a half smile on his face. “There was a time, back when we first left the home, when that’s what Heyes and I figured we’d do, set ourselves up as ranchers.” He sighed and looked past Tex. “We were just green kids back then. Guess most folks would consider me a kid even now. Heck, they even call me Kid. Things change. No, Tex, I don’t love ranchin’. If I never have to deal with one of those horned devils out there again, I’ll be happy. Figure, now you’re here, I’ll be movin’ on. Was givin’ you a couple of days to get settled, then I was goin’ to tell you, I’m outta here.”

Tex studied his face. Finally, “I can see your mind is made up. What are you going to do?”

“Not sure really, travel some, I guess. I’m sure I’ll manage, been managin’ for years now.”

“Well, stay for a couple more days at least or Betsy’ll have my hide. Just remember, you always have friends here.” Tex turned and walked out of the barn.

Curry stood watching after him for several minutes, before turning back to the chores he was about to start when Tex had arrived.


WYOMING

“Eighty dollars. Don’t spend it all in one place, Heyes.” Wilder handed over the young man’s pay and watched him amble over to his companion. He shook his head at those two, figuring they’d get too drunk tonight and would find themselves waking up with a hangover in the local jail, just like so many of the young drovers when the ride was done.

~~~000~~~

Tex walked up to the pair. “Heyes, I’m heading back to Texas tomorrow, if you want to ride with me.”

Heyes looked at Tex, considering. He knew Tex had had letters from his wife at some of the stops they’d made. Yeah, Jed wasn’t a writer, but still you would’ve thought… Not even one message and, for sure, not a “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong.” His face hardened. “Nah, Tex, I’m staying up here. Rafe and me, well, we have plans.”

Tex shook his head. “Hope you know what you’re doing, Heyes.”

Heyes watched Tex leave, his expression unreadable, then turned and grinned at Rafe, “So now what, Rafe? Should we go see how much of other folks’ pay we can win?”

Rafe laughed. “I like your thinking, Heyes. Tonight let’s play some poker, have a few drinks, maybe find a woman, then tomorrow, tomorrow…”

“Tomorrow we’re outta here.”

“Yeah, tomorrow we’ll go find my cousin.”

“So you’re serious about joining his gang, are you, Rafe?”

“You’re not having second thoughts, are you? You could go back to Texas, be like the Kid and spend the rest of your life as a trail hand, a roustabout.”

“No. I said I’d go with you. Come on; let’s go find us some whiskey.” Heyes’ face darkened and he strode off.

Rafe smirked as he watched his angry friend head towards town. “Wait up,” he called, hurrying to catch up.

~~~000~~~

Rafe gulped, looked at Heyes, and then squared his shoulders and pushed into the saloon. He paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the murk then looked around. Finding his quarry, he turned to Heyes. “Over there. I’m pretty sure that’s Jim.”

“You’re pretty sure? You don’t know what your cousin looks like?”

“Well, it’s been some years since I’ve seen him, you know. Anyway, let’s go see.”

The two wove through the crowd to the table in the back, where one man sat in the corner, at his ease, an open bottle of whiskey before him. Several men were sitting with him, but they obviously took their cues from him.

The man looked at the two young cowboys standing before him. “Yeah? You want something?”

“Umm, Jim? Jim Plummer?”

“Who wants to know?” The man took a closer look at the two and his eyes narrowed. He examined Rafe closely, his eyes widening and a slow smile tilting the corners of his mouth. “That you, Rafe?”

“Yeah, Jim. I told you I’d look you up when I got to Wyoming.”

“Well, well, well. You’ve sure grown since last I saw you. Boys, this is my cousin, Rafe, Rafe Jenkins. Rafe, these are my men. Now, what do you and your friend here want? Need some money? Is that it?”

“No, no, Jim. I, uh, thought maybe the two of us could join your gang.” Rafe gulped.

“Uh, huh. You did, did you? You been telling everyone my business?”

“No, just Heyes here. I thought he could be a lot of help. Honest, I haven’t told anyone except him.” Rafe took a deep breath, almost choking on the noxious fumes he inhaled, but willing himself not to show his discomfort.

Jim Plummer blew several smoke rings from his cigar before he spoke again. “Your name’s Heyes is it? Heyes what? How can a kid like you help my gang?”

Heyes had put on a poker face as soon as the conversation started. “It’s just Heyes. I figure you can probably use another man on your side, plus I’m pretty handy with locks and safes – used to work for a locksmith.” He did not back down from Plummer’s scrutiny.

Plummer’s eyes narrowed. He glared at the two of them then asked a silent question of his men, who were looking back and forth between him and the two young men. Finally, a big smile lit his face. “Pull up some chairs, boys, and let us get acquainted with our new members. Rafe…” he paused. “Heyes, meet Buck, Kresher, Longbill, and Mac.”

The others murmured greetings, and Plummer waved to the bartender for another bottle of whiskey and two more glasses. He handed them both cigars.

~~~000~~~

Heyes puffed at his cigar and looked speculatively at the other occupants of the table. Well, it’s sure a long way from Texas, and at least he wasn’t dealing with any more danged beeves, he decided. Could be worse.



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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:44 pm


This challenge doesn't count with the vote, but I had to write one since I haven't missed any months since I started writing.

I’m Outta Here – June 2013

“They’re back!” shouted Kyle to no one in particular.

The Devil’s Hole gang came out of the bunkhouse to see Heyes and Kid Curry riding up to the leaders’ cabin.  Both grimaced as they dismounted their horses.

Kyle came forward.  “I’ll take care of your horses for ya.”

Curry untied his saddle bags & bed roll.  “Much appreciated, Kyle.”

Heyes slung his bags over his shoulder and winced before handing the reins to Kyle.  “Rub them down good and give them some extra oats.  They’ve earned their keep these last few days.”

Both leaders slowly and painfully walked up to their cabin door.

“Where do you think you two have been?” Wheat snarled as he blocked the door.

“Where do you think we’ve been?” Heyes snapped.  “You saw the posse chasing us.”

“You mean you two couldn’t get away from a little ol’ posse for days?”  Wheat snorted.

Curry glared at the man barring his way to his bed; his eyes turned glacial blue.  “Not now, Wheat.  Step aside.”

Wheat stepped away from the door.  “You two have some explainin’ to do later, like how we lost us that $50,000.  Some Hannibal Heyes plan that turned out to be.”

Heyes followed his partner into the cabin and slammed the door shut.  “Of all the ingrateful…”

“Leave it, Heyes.”  The Kid dropped his bags on the floor before falling into bed and covering his eyes with his arm.

“You’re going to sleep without washing up or getting out of those clothes?”  Heyes sat wearily on a chair, removing his boots.

“Yep.”

“With your boots still on?”  Heyes dropped the one boot and worked on the other.

“What’s it to you?”

“Don’t you think you’ll sleep better once you’re washed up and have a little food in you?”  He removed his socks and threw them in a corner.

Curry removed his arm and tilted to head up.  “You goin’ to heat up a bath and make somethin’ for me to eat?”

“Well, no…”

The Kid’s head plopped back down on the bed.  “Guess I’m just gonna go to sleep like this then.”

Heyes removed his belts and threw a towel at his partner.  “I can’t gonna smell you while you sleep.  Now get up and come down to the creek with me and get washed up.  I bet there’s some food in the bunkhouse we can eat before going to bed.”

“Heyes, I’m tired and I just got off a horse, running from a posse for three days!”

“I know, I was with you!”  Heyes grabbed his friend’s arm and pulled him up.  “Com’on; you’ll feel better and sleep better.  I know I will.”

“You ain’t gonna let me sleep until I do, are you?” Curry grumbled.

“Nope!”  Heyes grabbed his own towel and the soap.  “Don’t forget your towel.”

An hour later, a clean Heyes and Curry entered their cabin and headed toward the beds.

“See, don’t you feel better after washing and a little food?”  Heyes removed his shirt and unbuttoned his pants.

Soft snores came from the other bed.

Heyes unfolded a quilt and covered his partner before removing his pants and curling into his own bed.

* ~ * ~ * ~

A few days later, Kid Curry quickly shoved a piece of paper into his jacket and loaded his Colt with another round.

“What are you doing?” Heyes asked as he walked into the clearing.

“Practicin’,” came the Kid’s answer, followed by six rapid fire.

Heyes whistled.  “Never ceases to amaze me.”  He walked over and put more cans on the log.

“Wouldn’t hurt you to practice some.”  Curry put more bullets into his gun.

“Okay,” Heyes agreed and pulled out his gun.  A moment later six cans lay on the ground.

“Not bad.”

“Not as fast as you.”

“No, but you hit all of your marks.”  The Kid picked up the cans and placed them on the log.

“Kid?”

“Yeah.”

“Is something wrong?” Heyes asked as he sat on a tree stump.

“No, why do you ask?”  Curry took a stance, his hand hovering over the butt of his gun.  A second later, all of the cans flew up into the air.

“You just don’t seem yourself,” Heyes continued.

The Kid shrugged and sat down beside his partner.

“I thought you were gonna draw on Wheat earlier today…”

“He’s damn lucky I didn’t!  He deserved it talkin’ like he was.”

“Yeah,” Heyes agreed, “but he’s always talking like that.  And you yelled at Kyle; scared him half to death.”

“Well, he wasn’t watchin’ where he was aimin’ his gun.  He could have shot someone.”

“And then there’s Lobo and Hank…”

 “Okay, I see what you’re sayin’.  The Kid sighed.  Guess I’m just tired of babysittin’ grown men.

Heyes glanced sideways at his partner.  “Could be worse.”

“How’s that?”

“Could have a dozen Wheats or Kyles instead of one.  And for the most part most of the men listen to us.  No one is a cold-blooded murderer.”

“I guess you’re right – it could be worse.”

“Of course I’m right!”  Heyes smirked.  “Com’on, dinner’s ready.”

* ~ * ~ * ~

A few days later, Heyes crumpled up another piece of paper and threw it into the cold fireplace where a collection was growing.  He stared at the train schedules.  “Damn asterisks!” 

An old clock ticked away the seconds as a scribbling sound could be heard.  Snap! 
 
“ARGH!”  Heyes threw the broken pencil across the room.

“Maybe you need a break, Heyes?”  Curry sat across the table polishing his gun after cleaning it.

“Maybe I need quiet!” Heyes snapped back.  “Just leave, will you?”

Without a word, Kid Curry holstered his gun and walked out of the cabin.

* ~ * ~ * ~

An hour later, Heyes left the cabin and scanned the buildings that made up the Hole.  Kyle sat on a rock whittling on a place of wood.  A rambunctious card game was going on in the bunkhouse.  Doc gathered supplies from the shed to start dinner.  Hank was finally washing his clothes in the creek.  At the corral, with one foot resting on the lower rail and staring out at the mountains, was the person he was searching for – his partner, Kid Curry.

Heyes quietly walked over to stand next to his friend.  “What do you have there?”

The Kid quickly folded up the piece of paper and tucked it into a pocket.  “Just a note.”

“Oh.”  Heyes put his head down and sighed.  “Kid, about in the cabin…”

“No need to apologize, Heyes.”

“What makes you think I came out to apologize?”

Curry gave a sideways glance.  “Because I know you.”

Heyes scratched the dirt with his boot toe.  “Okay, so I did come out to say I was sorry.  The planning for the next job isn’t going smoothly.  Maybe I’m just nervous because of the last job being such a disaster or maybe I’m just plain tired of coming up with ideas.”

“I’m outta here.”

“Or maybe… What do you mean you’re outta here?!”

“I’m leavin’…”

“Leaving?  When are you coming back?”

“I’m not.”

“Because I snapped at you?”  Heyes looked up and studied his friend’s face.

“No!  I would have been gone a long time ago if that was the case.”

“Then where are you going?  Why?”

“I don’t know where.  I’m just…”  Curry ran a hand through his curls.  “I’m just tired of doin’ this.  I can’t do it anymore.”

“Tired of being an outlaw?”

“Yeah, Heyes, tired of the posses and being shot at and babysittin’ these men and scarin’ the folks on the train.  I’m tired of the whole thing.”

“You’re still thinking about that amnesty flyer you got from that little ol’ lady, aren’t you?”  Heyes pointed to the pocket he saw the Kid stuff the paper into.  “I’ve seen you looking at it a few times.”

“Yeah, maybe I am.”

Heyes shook his head.  “Kid, that’s for…”

“I know.  It’s for chicken thieves, land-grabbers and rag-pickin’ penny stealers – not for two outlaws like us.  But does it hurt to ask?”  Curry gave his partner an inquiring look.

Heyes sighed.  “Kid, you’re not thinking!”

Curry turned back to staring at the mountains.  “I have been thinking, Heyes.  How many outlaws do you know in their forties?  We’ve run a good streak, but lady luck ain’t gonna be holdin’ forever.  I know you got a hole in your jacket from a bullet that last posse shot.  A few inches and you may be dead.  I don’t want to see more kin dead.”

“Who are you going to ask about the amnesty?  Who’s going to watch your back when you leave the Hole?”

The Kid glanced sideways.  “I was kinda hopin’ you’d come with me.  It’d be a new challenge for you livin’ the straight and narrow.  You have been gettin’ more an’ more frustrated.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yep.  Never been more serious.”

“It’ll be hard.  May not have money.  Gunslingers may still challenge you for the title of fastest gun.”

“I know.”  The Kid turned toward his kin.  “So?”

Heyes took a deep breath and slowly released it.  “This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”

“Sure does.”

“Tell you what, I’ll think about it and let you know in the morning.”

“Either way, Heyes, whether you come or stay, I’m outta here.”

* ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes and Curry packed their few personal items in their saddlebags and left the cabin, Heyes turning back for one last glance.

“You don’t have to go with me, you know.”  Curry tied his bags and bedroll on to the back of the saddle.

“Just wondering when the next time we’ll have a place to call home.  I mean, this place isn’t much, but it’s been the closest thing we’ve had to a home in a long time.”

“I know what you mean, Heyes.  I’m gonna kinda miss that part, too.”  Curry looked around the Hole.  “Good thing we let the boys know last night.  They’re still sleepin’.”

“Good.  I hate good-byes.”

Both men mounted their horses.

“So where do you think we should go first?” the Kid asked as they reined their animals towards the entrance of the hide out.

“I thought our first stop would be to go visit our ol’ friend, Lom Trevors…”


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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:54 am

This challenge comes with a warning.  Although I believe it fits this board's PG-13 rating system, some readers with tender eyes may consider it a bit too brazen for their taste.  If you are willing to take the risk, read on.  If not, all you missed is an angsty, sappy romance.

A pre-dawn glow lit the eastern sky.  Rex, the haughty rooster, king of the chicken coop, burst forth in song, reminiscent of the tuneless crackling of the voice of an adolescent boy.  

Virginia, eyes closed in a happy smile, sighed.  The presence of the man beside her felt warm and wonderful in the early morning chill.   He had stayed the night, hadn't left when sleep claimed her, like he had countless times before.  She held her breath, not daring to stir, not wanting to break the magic spell that had kept him close.

Could she be dreaming?  Eyes still closed, she reached for him.  Beneath her hand, she felt the rise and fall of his chest, his breathing deep with slumber.  His heart beat, strong and steady.  He was here, he was real.  

Soon, too soon, the cow would be bawling, eager to be milked.  There would be eggs to gather and bacon to fry, biscuits to bake and laundry to... She stilled her racing thoughts and willed them to remain here, in this moment, alone, with the man she loved.  

Seeming to sense her growing wakefulness, he rolled to his side, draping his arm across her, possessively, protectively.  The coolness of her skin caused his eyes to open.  

Virginia lay uncovered, exposed to the crispness of the morning, as well as to his feasting eyes.  His brain told him to cover her.  Other parts of his anatomy, stirred by desire, told him otherwise.

He lifted his arm, only momentarily, just long enough to rub the sleep from tired eyes, then placed his hand gently at the base of her spine.  She looked so small, or his hand so large, by comparison.  His fingers moved upwards, warming her as they traveled, south to north, then back again, and he heard her quiet, contented murmur.

She rolled to face him, opening her eyes and greeting him with a smile.  Sleepily, she muttered his name.  Not the alias Lom had given, but his own name.  The name that assured him she knew him, accepted him for who he was, maybe even loved him, though heaven only knew why.      

Overcome with gratefulness, he reached for her.

***

It was her voice brought him back to his senses.  They lay together, a tangled mass of oneness in her bed, sweaty amidst rumpled covers in a full morning sun.  She had asked something, said something, that most likely required a response, but lost in his haze of satisfaction, he had no clue what the proper response may have been.  "Hmmm?"

"Nothing," she mumbled, rising from the bed.  

He watched, admiring her once again, the way she moved, seeming to glide across the small room. As she pulled her dressing robe around her, he caught a parting glimpse of her body before it disappeared behind the thin fabric.  Then, a glimpse of two sad eyes as she abruptly turned and headed for the kitchen.

He fell back against the pillow and laced his fingers behind his head.  What had brought about her sudden change of mood?  Even as he asked himself the question, he knew the answer.  A woman wanted things from a man, but they were things a wanted man could never give.  Things like marriage, home, and family.  Things like hearing him whisper those three words that could never cross his lips, not as long as he was wanted.

She had to know how he felt, she had to!  But to speak the words, to tell her... Telling her that would be like asking her to wait, but wait for what?  Amnesty?  Virginia might as well wait for the second coming, since he and his partner were no closer to amnesty than the rest of the world was to the rapture.

Things between him and Virginia were better left unspoken.  No strings, no commitments.  That way, when the day came that some bounty hunter finally tracked him down, shot him dead, or worse yet, hauled him off to the penitentiary, Virginia would be free, not tied to a man who was never worthy of her from the start.  

He crossed to the window and looked out on her small plot of land.  In the meadow, beneath a sturdy oak, stood two wooden crosses staked amongst a million wildflowers.  

He poured some water into a basin and readied himself for the day.  

Virginia had lost at love before--the graves of her husband and child were proof.  And he had no desire to cause her to suffer grief like that, not ever again.

***

Stupid!  Downright foolish!  In a vulnerable moment, Virginia had uttered those ridiculous words, the ones she knew he never wanted to hear.  He was an outlaw, not the type of man to appreciate flowery talk from a woman.
 
"Morning."  His greeting preceded two arms that wrapped around her from behind while she stood at the stove, adding bacon to her skillet.  

She had turned toward him, still wrapped in his embrace, and planted kisses on his freshly shaven face and neck.  "You smell good."  

"So do you," he confessed, drawing her into a lingering kiss.

She giggled, and he hoped it signaled the return of her carefree mood.  "I think that's the bacon you smell."
 
He grabbed a freshly cooked rasher and popped it into his mouth, then sucked in air to cool the too-hot mouthful.  "Good," he nodded.  His proclamation came out garbled through his chewing.  "But not near sweet as you."  He licked his fingers, then kissed her again.

"You wouldn't want to milk Felicity, would you?"

"Who ever heard of a cow named Felicity?"  He shook his head and  grabbed a pail, heading for the barn.

A shadow fell.  "My daughter," she answered after the door had shut behind him.

It had been more than three years since the calf had been birthed.  The blessed event had occurred in the wee hours of the morning, with Virginia, her husband and their little daughter in attendance.  "We'll call her Felicity, like Grammie," the child had declared.  "'Cause Grammie says her name means 'happy,' and baby cow makes Mama happy!"

"You made me happy, baby girl," Virginia whispered, then tore her eyes away from her daughter's grave to rest them on her husband's.  Her late husband's.  Joe wasn't her husband anymore and she needed to stop thinking of him as such.  He had left her.  Left her alone in her grief not two weeks after the death of their only child.  The same fever that had robbed Virginia of her baby had stolen her man, and though she knew it made no sense, she cursed Joe for dying.

Virginia drew in a ragged breath and her eyes moved to the barn just as the door swung open.  She watched him swaggering toward the house, swinging the pail as he walked, and as he drew closer, she heard him whistling a happy tune.  Discretely, she brushed at a tear.

***

A heavy silence had settled in, like a thick fog between them.  Breakfast was finished and still, the two sat, sipping coffee, not talking.  Finally, he broke the silence.  "I can't stay, Ginny."

"I know that," she snapped.  Her voice sounded cold.  She lifted her eyes from her empty plate and looked around the room. When he left, the house would be empty too. She glanced out the window, toward the old oak and a new emptiness took its hold deep inside.  "When do you have to leave?"  Her eyes held his now, and although her words had asked one question, her heart gave voice to a very different plea.  "Take me with you!"

He lowered his eyes.  "Ginny, I..." he began.

"When do you have to leave?" she asked again.

"Tomorrow, first light."  

"So we still have today."  She smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes.  "And tonight."  She masked raw emotions with a mischievous wink.

Should she speak now, or forever hold her peace?  If there was a chance he shared her feelings, any chance at all, didn't she owe it to herself, to both of them, to tell him?  Virginia's face grew somber again, and her sad eyes held his.  

"What?" he asked, concern in his voice.

Emboldened by fear of loneliness, she dared to speak her mind.  "I want you to know, I'm not expecting anything from you.  And you don't have to say anything at all, okay?  Just listen."

Skeptically, he nodded agreement.

"I love you."  There.  The truth was out.  Self-consciously, she broke their gaze and rose to clear the table.  Without meeting his eyes, she continued.  "I been wanting to tell you that for a long time," she sighed.  "Just thought you should know."  

He saw her swipe at a tear, and instantly he was behind her, surrounding her with his arms again.  He held her for a long time, wanting to speak the words he knew she longed to hear, but to give her false hope would be a bigger crime than any he'd ever committed.  "I... I don't know what to say."  

"I already told you, you don't have to say anything."  She struggled free from the circle of his arms and began washing the dishes.

He reached for her arm, but she shook off his grasp.  "Ginny, you're a good woman.  Too good for a man like me."  He turned away to run a shaky hand through his hair.  "I can't give you the things you deserve.  What you need is a good man who can give you a home, and a life, and love you the way a man ought to love a woman."

She wheeled around to face him, her eyes bold, despite her tears.  "Because you don't?"  

Her words caught him off guard.  "Because I don't what?"

"Because you don't love me the way a man ought to love a woman?"

"I didn't say that."

"You didn't have to."  

"Please, don't."  The hurt in his voice was obvious.  "Don't ask me to make promises I can't keep."

She had turned away from him again, and although he thought she may have been crying, when she spoke, her voice sounded calm and controlled.  "I don't want your promises.  Promises are cheap and easily broken."  He saw her glance out the window again, toward the old oak.

He fumbled for words.  "I'm not sure what it is you want from me."

Virginia looked him squarely in the eye.  "I told you I love you, and I meant it.  Now I'm asking you plain.  Do you love me?"

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to tell her how much he loved her, then pull her into his arms and make love to her until the sun rose again and he had to leave.  But with those words would come the promises, the promises he knew he would have to break.  

He swallowed hard and touched her cheek.  "Ginny..."  Considering his former occupation, thief and con-man, he was astounded that the telling of this one lie could be so difficult. He squeezed his eyes shut, one hand still caressing her cheek, the other opening and closing nervously at his side.  He opened his eyes to find those two sad eyes, still holding his, still seeking the truth.  "Ginny, I..." he shook his head.  "I'm sorry," he whispered.

She quickly turned away, one hand rushing to cover her mouth.  "I understand," she managed, nodding.  "It's probably best if you leave.  Now, please."

***

The setting sun cast long shadows up on the ridge, just north of town, where the two partners sat, mounted.  The town in the valley below them was already shrouded in dusk.

One of the partners watched as flickering street lights were lit along Main Street.  The other's eyes seemed glued to a small cabin in the distance.  

"You want to go back?"

He shook his head.  "I can't go back."

"Then how about we get outta here?"

"Go ahead.  I'll catch up in a minute."

"I'm sorry."  A supportive hand was placed on his shoulder.  "I know how you feel about Virginia."  After a moment, he clucked to his horse, then rode into the sunset.

Alone on the ridge, he whispered into the falling night, "My partner might know the truth about how much I love you, Ginny." He reined his horse to the west.  "I'm only sorry you never will."

(I tweaked a few areas that have been pointed out to me by you faithful readers!  Thanks!)

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Last edited by sistergrace on Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Calico

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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:05 am

The toe of Hannibal Heyes’ booted foot gingerly nudges aside a rucksack piled with hiking socks, insect repellent and Kendal mint cake. Edging around a chair dripping with waterproofs he enters the bedroom.

“Where’dya want these saddlebags you’re borrowing?”

“Chuck ‘em on the bed.” Calico frowns in concentration as she copies flight details onto yet another luggage label. She glances over at the helpful ex-outlaw. “Are they really magic?”

“Would I lie?”

An ungroomed eyebrow – English style - lifts. “Have you read your character brief notes on the VS instructions?”

“Yeah, but…” Silver tongued charm is deployed. “…Would I lie to you?”

With a cynical grunt Calico begins to count knickers into the delightfully capacious – not to mention carry-on compliant – leather pouches.

Heyes clears himself a butt-sized space on the duvet and sits. “D’you reckon Whatshisname’ll be along soon? Y’know – the other fella.”

No response to the old joke. Perhaps the underwear tally has moved into double figures requiring undivided attention.

“’Cos – these split bandanna months I can’t always keep track of him…”

Still no response.

Heyes rolls his eyes.

The banging of doors followed by clattering of boots on stairs shatters the peace.

“I mighta tracked him down,” grins Heyes.

A cheerful Kid Curry explodes into the room.

“Did you have a good time,” Heyes asks.

“Sure. I always enjoy California. You?”

Heyes gives the ‘spot on’ gesture accompanied by a dimpled grin and expressive eyebrows.

“So,” the blue-eyed one beams at Calico, “What’s the challenge for next month? I’ve been thinkin’…”

“Did it hurt?” puts in his partner.

“I’ve been thinkin’,” continues Kid, with dignity, “it could be somethin’ like – Amnesty At Last. Or, Kid Wins The Day. Or, Kid meets a real friendly redhead. Y’know, somethin’ to encourage stories with - with…”

“Fringe benefits?” supplies Heyes.

“With an upbeat plot,” corrects Curry. A pause. To Calico, “So whaddya think?”

“Huh?” She is still intent on folding smalls. “Oh, I’m not setting a challenge this month.”

“Not settin’ a… Why the Sam Hill not?!”

“Because, at the crack of dawn tomorrow I’m outta here!”

“But…” Kid Curry takes in the evidence of packing all around him. “Oh.”

“Alaska here I come!” grins Calico.

“But,” a blue-eyed blink that would melt any Kidette’s heart, “… There’s gotta be a monthly bandanna challenge. I’ve – I’ve kinda got used to it.”

“There is going to be a challenge. Someone’s standing in for me.”

“Who?”

Calico and Heyes exchange a glance.

“Someone thoroughly reliable,” avoids Calico.

Suspiciously now, “Who?”

“One of your fans,” says Heyes.

“WHO?”

“Mizz Maz,” Calico tells him.

A pause as the implications of that sink into a much hurt and not so much comforted ex-outlaw.

“I’m dead,” despairs Kid.

“Nah,” comforts Heyes. “You’re hardly ever dead. Coughing blood, and dragging a partially severed limb or two,
sure. But not dead.”

“I can see the titles goin’ through her head now,” laments he of many bullet wounds. “Alligator Attack! Bear at Bay! Coyote Chow-down! Dingo Danger!”

“Aren’t they in Australia?” protests Heyes.

“She could ship one in, special,” glooms Kid. “Electrocution, Flayed alive, Gouging, Hazard, Infection, Jeopardy…”

“We don’t need the whole alphabet, Kid,” interrupts Heyes. “Unless of course you were thinking of being attacked by Xylophone playing Young Zebras, ‘cos, that would be one heck of a storyline!”

“Nobody’s being attacked by anyone,” put in Calico. “Maz promised she’d take real good care of Kid, didn’t she, Heyes.”

A flicker of hope crosses the face of the blue-eyed one. He looks, enquiringly at his partner.

“Real good care,” confirms Heyes. A pause. “Though, to be fair – she did also say, ‘Muhaha!’”

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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:45 pm

The thunder scared the pigs. They squealed and ran and bumped into Elliott. He slipped and landed flat on his butt. Cursing, he pushed himself up, getting his hands in the muck. He started to wipe them on his pants, then paused when he thought of what his stepmother would say when she saw how dirty he’d gotten. His seat
was soaked through. He wrung his hands a few times instead, but that didn’t seem to help much. Well, hell. Didn’t seem like he could get much dirtier. He was sure to get in trouble for it.

“Boy! Ain’t you done there yet!” His father called from the barn. “Them animals ain’t gonna wait for you to take a nap!”

“Yes sir!” Elliott called back. Another roll of thunder, followed by a flash of lightning. He looked at the pigs. “You see what you done now? Ain’t I got enough trouble without you helpin’ me?” The pigs ignored him. He raised one foot to kick the big sow who made his life miserable, but stopped with his leg suspended in air. The last time he’d taken out his frustration on the pigs, they’d turned and attacked him. He’d thought they were going to kill him. He put his foot back down and got out of the pen fast as he could.

His father was waiting for him in the barn. “About time you got here, boy.”

“Yessir. Sorry sir.” He knew better than to argue with his father. There’d been too many strappings behind the wood shed; he couldn’t even remember how many times.  He’d learned not to talk back.

“Sorry ain’t gonna get the job done.” Elliott just looked at his feet.

“How many times I got to tell you to do your chores, boy? Ain’t you learned yet? Or maybe you’re just stupid?”

Elliott thought of how much work he’d done already that day. All he did was work, daybreak to sundown, trying to keep this godforsaken land producing grain. Just him and his father to do the fieldwork, care for the animals, and only him to tend the lonely grave that lay under the big cottonwood tree. It was hard enough keeping two people alive. Then his pa had to go and get married again, and now there was his stepmother and her twin babies to feed as well. His pa was standing nose to nose with him, and Elliott realized he’d gone off and been dreaming again when his pa was still talking. He smelled the whiskey on pa’s sour breath.

“I asked you a question, boy. Are you just plain stupid?”

“No sir.”

“You look at me when I’m talking to you, boy.” Elliott raised his eyes slowly. Surprise hit him. When had he become taller than his pa? How come he never noticed until now?

Pa stepped back and looked at Elliott’s pants. “How’d you get so dirty? I told you to feed the pigs, not get in there and roll around with ‘em”

“Yes sir. The sow tripped me.”

Pa was shaking his head. “I can’t count on you to do anything right, can I.”  Elliott felt his face get hot. As if Pa could be depended on for anything but getting drunk every night.

“See if you got enough brains to muck out them stalls, boy.  And don’t you come in the house till you clean yourself up some. You smell worse’n the pigs.”

“Yes sir.” Pa glared at him, as if he wanted Elliott to sass him, so he’d feel right in slapping his son a few times. Elliott wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction. Pa put his hands on his son’s chest and shoved him backwards. Elliott stumbled against the wall, tripping over a rake as pa stalked out.

Hot tears filled Elliott’s eyes. Dammit, dammit, dammit!  He rolled off the rake and rubbed his sore back. Pushing himself up, he grabbed the rake and slammed it against a post a few times hard as he could, wishing that he could smash it against pa’s head instead. Exhausted, he threw the rake down and gripped the stall with both hands, resting his forehead between them. The mule gently rubbed his head against Elliott’s shoulder. Elliott wrapped his arms around the mule’s broad neck, resting his check against the animal’s warm body.

“You got it right, Buck. You and me, we do all the work around here, and he don’t do a thing but drink and make babies.” Buck snorted. “Oh, you think that’s funny, do you? It ain’t so funny to me.” Elliott stood up and looked into Buck’s deep brown eyes.  For a minute there, he thought he saw understanding and sympathy. “I know, boy, he don’t treat you so good either. What if me ‘n you took off, Buck? Then he’d hafta do everything hisself.”

Elliott straightened up. “Best I clean out your stall, Buck. You and me, we take care of each other. Ain’t nobody else around here gonna do that.” He got the pitchfork and opened the stall. Buck obligingly stepped back. “Well, at least you’re better than them pigs. You ain’t out to git me.” The stall didn’t look as bad as his pants felt. He’d have to wash himself and his clothes before he went into supper, or he might not get any supper at all. Again.

After cleaning the stalls, Elliott drew some water from the well and settled down in a dark corner of the barn to wash himself off. It was private enough there that he could pull off his shirt and pants and wipe himself down with the cold water and soap. Washing off all the sweat and red dust felt good, real good. He worked up a lather between his hands and rubbed the soiled clothes hard. The clothes were hand-me-downs and would never be nice as store-bought duds, but at least they’d smell good. His stepmother would never let him in the cabin if he still smelled like pig droppings. ‘Course, even when he was shiny clean, she made it real clear she didn’t want him in that house. Didn’t matter how much work he had to do to keep her and her brats fed and housed. No, whatever he did, it wasn’t enough for her. Who did she think she was, anyway! She wasn’t his real mother! His real mother never treated him like that. But lying where she was, cold and still under the cottonwood, she couldn’t help him no more.  He felt tears come to his eyes again. Dammit all! He was 14 years old, nearly a man, and getting bigger and stronger all the time. His mother, his real mother, had teased him about how fast he grew, naming him after the crops they coaxed out of the Texas dirt. But nobody called him by that name anymore.

He wiped his face with the wet shirt. Thinking about his ma always made the tears start. Guess it didn’t matter none if he did cry some, so long his pa wasn’t around to see. If he’d been, he’d tell Elliott, you want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about!

Elliott took a couple deep breaths to calm himself. He looked down at the threadbare shirt he’d been scrubbing. He’d scrubbed a hole in it. How was he going to explain that? Sometimes he got so lost in his thoughts, so angry, that he hardly knew what he was doing. Well, he’d just have to put up with whatever his pa said to him. He sure had a lot of experience doing that. Meantime, he’d wring out his clothes, get ‘em dry enough to wear, and hope Pa’d let him eat. He was getting mighty hungry.

When his stepmother rang the supper bell, Elliott was setting up the thresher. His stomach answered the bell with a loud growl. The sun had come out strong after the brief storm, and everything, including him, was drying out fast. The bell rang again. He put the tools down and sprinted towards the cabin. His stepmother stood on the porch.

“Ain’t you forgetting something?” He looked at her cross face. “Wipe your feet. I won’t have you dragging your dirt in my house.”

He stepped over to the boot bar and scraped mud off. She frowned at him.

“What happened to your shirt?”

“Ma’am?”

“What happened to your shirt?” She pointed at the hole he’d torn in it.

“Pa told me to wash it, ma’am.”

“Did he tell you to put a hole in it?”

“He told me to wash it real good, ma’am.”

“Don’t you sass me, boy. You ain’t nothing to me. And if you think I’m gonna to patch that for you, you got another think comin’.” She turned her back to him and stomped across the threshold, letting the door slam shut behind her. Elliott was getting mad. Her house? Her house? Who did she think she was anyway, the Queen
of Sheba? A picture of his mother in that same doorway flew into his mind, but he pushed it away. He was a man, and he wasn’t going to let himself start blubbering again like some boy.

The air in the small cabin was humid and smoky. Looked like she’d throw a ham hock in with some beans, and steam was rising from the hot range. The babies were in their chairs, chewing on bread.  His father was already sitting at the head of the table. Elliott took his seat without speaking.

She carried the iron pot over from the stove and set it carefully on the trivet on the center of the table. She served Pa and gave the babies a small amount of beans as well. Kind of a waste there, Elliott thought. They were more likely to wear it than eat it. Oh, he knew her and his Pa favored them two way more than him, but there was something about those little ones you just couldn’t resist. He wanted to dislike them, ‘cause they came from her, but they were kind of cute and funny. When they got a little older, he planned to teach them everything he knew. That’s what big brothers did. He’d have to wait a while for that, though, since they were still not even two years old.

Pa and his wife chatted a little during supper, but Elliott said as little as possible. Since he could hardly say or do anything right in that house, it was easier to just eat and get out of there soon as he could. Not that he was looking forward to another long day of chores in the hot sun. The older Elliott got, the more he hated
farming. He didn’t know exactly what he was going to do with his life, but he was sure it didn’t involve working dawn to dusk and then some. There had to be a way to make some real money without working yourself to death.

“Boy! Boy! I’m talking to you!” Pa’s voice startled him. He’d gone off and daydreamed again, but this time, Pa had caught him.

Pa slapped Elliott across the face, hard. Elliott was stunned. Pa slapped him again. This time, Elliott felt tears come to his eyes. For an old drunk, Pa was still real strong. He heard a funny sound come from his stepmother. She was laughing. He looked at their faces, his twisted and furious, hers mean and smart-alecky, and the rage that had been simmering in him for so long finally boiled over.

Elliott saw Pa raise his hand again, getting ready to hit once more. Elliott stood up quick and knocked Pa’s hand away. He saw Pa’s face get red and heard his stepmother draw in a quick sharp breath. Something lit up in Elliott’s brain all of a sudden. He knew what he had to do. His hand balled up in a tight fist, and he punched his Pa, hard and straight. Pa fell to the floor, blood streaming from his broken nose. Elliott noticed his stepmother stand up, almost like she was going to slap him. He was drawing his arm back to hit her first when he remembered how his mother had told him to treat ladies right.

His stepmother was shouting obscenities at him. He was kind of impressed that she knew so many. Guess that proved she was no lady, not that he’d ever had any doubt about that anyhow. With a silent apology to his mother, he picked up the pot of beans and dumped them over her head. The twins were starting to cry now, and their shrieks were mixed in with his stepmother’s crying and cursing.

Elliott stepped over to where his pa was getting up off the floor. Pa was saying something, but Elliott was done listening. He picked up a chair and hit Pa with it once, twice, three times. Maybe it was more, maybe it was less, but Elliott wasn’t counting. It felt like somebody else had taken over his body, and he was just carrying out orders. Finally he stopped, breathing hard, and he saw his Pa wasn’t moving. There was blood on Pa’s face and shirt, and on the floor all around him.

He realized his stepmother had left the room. The kitchen door burst open, and she came in carrying Pa’s rifle. Just carrying it, but not pointing it. Elliott pulled it out of her hands. Her tears were carving a trail down her face among the beans. She wiped her eyes and smeared the mess even worse, sniveling and crying. She looked at Elliott, and he saw fear appear on her face. About time, he thought.

“You do what I tell you to do, and you do it now. You hear me?” he said. She nodded, shaking. “Get me that money you hide in the sugar cabinet.” Her jaw dropped in shock.

“Oh, you thought ‘cause Pa didn’t know you was hidin’ money there, that meant I didn’t? Guess I ain’t so stupid as you thought.” When she hesitated, he raised the rifle. “I said, now.” She moved over to the sugar cabinet and pulled out the small metal box.

“Just put it on the table, careful like.” She put it down, reluctantly, he thought. Her eyes kept shifting between him and the babies and his pa, still bloody and motionless on the floor.

“Now wrap up some trail food. Anything you got in the larder. Bread, bacon, whatever. And wrap it up good.” The babies were still crying, but seemed to be calming down, now that the adults weren’t screaming and fighting. Elliott spared a glance at his pa. Still out of it, but his chest was rising and falling. Elliott felt relieved and disappointed that his pa wasn’t dead. At least nobody could pin a murder charge on him. He waited while his stepmother put together food and placed it on the table next to the small strongbox. He swung the rifle over his shoulder.

“I’m outta here, and there ain’t nothing you or him can do about it.”

“Go and be damned to you,” she said. “Nobody wants you here anyhow.”

He picked up the strongbox and the food and looked at her for the last time. “Hope you still think so, when this a-hole you call a husband drinks himself to death and leaves you starvin’.”  He looked down at his pa lying on the floor. He felt a brief urge to kick the old man a couple of times, hard, in the ribs, but he shook it off. That’s the sort of thing Pa would do, and Elliott wasn’t going to be like him at all. He stepped over Pa and strode out the door, slamming it behind him. The last thing he heard was his stepmother calling out insults.

He saddled up Buck. The mule wasn’t much of a fancy ride, but he was reliable and steady. That was more than he could say about any other member of his family.

There was only one goodbye Elliott hated to make. He stopped under the cottonwood tree and kneeled next to his mother’s grave. He didn’t expect to see her again, either, and the thought of that made his chest ache.

“Ma,” he said, “I promise, I’ll make something of myself. I’m gonna be rich and famous. There's a big world out there, but it ain't no place for an Elliott. I’m taking back the name you gave me, Ma.  I’ll make you proud of me. Everybody’s gonna know know who Wheat Carlson is.”

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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:34 pm

Hi All-  I'm still on vacation camping in the stunningly, beautiful Canadian Rockies (Keays, how could you have moved away???!!!) and we slithered into Kaslo, BC, today for supplies.  I realized I couldn't let this prompt slip by me so here's a short tale.  I've only had internet for minutes at a time, so I haven't read anyone else's yet and apologize if I've duplicated a theme.  I promise to read and comment after fun's over.

I'M OUTTA HERE

I felt the impact before I heard the shots.  I don’t remember falling; just lying in that hot, dirty street with puffs of dust billowing up around me.  The sky overhead was a clear, vivid blue with big white clouds floating in it and I recall wondering what he would say when he heard I’d been killed in a gunfight.  

After that, things got hazy.  The pain came roaring in and slammed into me so hard I couldn’t breathe.  Faces appeared above me and looked down at me with either curiosity or pity, but I couldn’t really focus on them or hear the questions they gabbled at me.  I was struggling hard to draw air into my deprived lungs.  I could hear my raspy curses, but didn’t recognize my own voice.  It seemed to come from so far away.

OOOOOOOOOO

My eyelids were heavy and refused to open completely so that I could see clearly.  It was dim and hard to see, but I saw a woman, a girl actually, leaning over me and fussing with my bandages.  I tried to talk to her, to thank her, but my tongue was thick and wouldn’t cooperate.  Tired, I closed my eyes and let the pain sweep me away again.

OOOOOOOOOO

When I finally came to, I wasn’t shocked to see the bars of a jail cell; I was more surprised to find that I’d lived to see them.  The sheriff was hunched over his desk going through his wanted posters.  He must’ve heard me moving around because his head shot up and he stared in my direction a moment before setting aside the posters, standing up, and coming over to peer in through the thick metal bars at me.  He was a big, burly man, but his face was pleasant and that was a comfort.  I wasn’t up to taking any abuse from the law right now.

“You awake?” he asked softly.

“Yeah.” I managed to croak.  He turned away and walked over to a pail of water sitting on a table at the end of the cell row.  I watched warily as he filled a mug using an old wooden ladle.  He came back towards me and I was flat-out astonished to see him push open the cell door with his shoulder and walk right in.  It hadn’t been locked.  

He saw the puzzlement in my expression and laughed out loud.  “You ain’t under arrest, kid.  We just needed a place for you to heal up and this seemed like the best choice.  You’ve been out of your head for a while and someone needed to keep an eye on you.  I volunteered to let Miss Laura off the hook.  She’s the doctor’s daughter and does his nursin’.  You ran her ragged for a few days, but we can’t have that; now can we?”

I stared at him trying to absorb his ramblings.

“Here, have some water.  I reckon you need it.  I spilled more on you than down your gullet the last couple of days.”  He gently slipped his arm beneath my good shoulder.   I tensed and cringed away from the close proximity of that tin star pinned to his shirt and pressing into my cheek.  I was too weak to do more than flop back against his arm and he cradled me to his chest like a newborn while carefully raising the cup to my lips.  “Now, just take small sips.  There’s ain’t no rush and I’ve got plenty of water.”

It tasted so cold and so good that it was hard not to gulp it.  I felt its icy slide down my throat.  My mind cleared slightly and I looked up at the big man who was trying so hard not to hurt me.  “Th..thank you.”

He nodded in response and eased me back down to the cot.  “There now; you just lay back there and rest some more.  You’re gonna be fine, but it’s gonna take time.  I’ll be right over there at the desk if you need me.  I’ve got some questions for you, but they can wait until you’re feelin’ better.”

I tried to smile, but I couldn’t.  It hurt everywhere and there wasn’t a smile left in me.  He went back to his work, but left the cell door slightly opened.  Sitting down, he picked up his posters and read through them again.  Occasionally, he swiveled around in his chair to pin an interesting one on the wall behind him.  I closed my eyes, but I was still awake; I just didn’t want him to know it.  Nice as he was, I didn’t have much trust in the law in general; having been on the wrong side of it for some time now.  I knew I was lucky to be alive and he had played a major role in making that happen, but I wasn’t feeling lucky.  I was feeling sick, bone-tired, and scared.  I felt alone.

I thought of my ex-partner again and the last time I saw him.  A small tug of a frown pulled at the corner of my mouth when I recalled our last conversation.  We’d fought about gun fighting and I wondered if he’d be as unamused as I was about my present situation.  He’d probably tell me I got what I deserved; that is, after he was done chewing me out.  We’d been so angry with each other.  He’d raised his fists at me and I had thrown a punch at him trying to get one up on him before he came at me in earnest.  Things went downhill from there.  Finally, we exhausted ourselves.  Well, not quite.  I still had enough strength left to gather up my gear and huff out the door, tossing one last surly comment over my shoulder, “I’m outta here.”

With those words, I had slammed the door on a lifelong partnership.  That had been almost two years ago.  How could I have tossed him aside so easily after all we’d been through?  We needed each other; at least, I liked to think he needed me; I, for sure, needed him.  He had a way of balancing me and keeping me in check.  One well-placed word from him had often kept me from letting my temper get the best of me.  If he’d still been with me, none of this would’ve happened.  He understood me like no one else ever had or ever would.  Not even my folks.  I’d missed him terribly over the past few years, but I’ve been too proud to crawl back and apologize.  Well, I wasn't too proud now.  Once I healed up, I was gonna go look for him.  If a man’s lucky, he gets one good horse and one good friend in his lifetime.  I have that friend and I was going to find him and make sure he knew how sorry I was for leaving in the first place.  The horse could wait.

I shifted slightly on the bunk and a bolt of pain shot through my shoulder, tearing a moan from my lips.  I felt, rather than saw, the sheriff’s attention shift to me so I lay still; playing possum until I heard the sound of the wanted posters being turned over resume.  He might be friendly, but he wasn’t sure I was.  I knew he was looking for me in that mess of handbills.  I wasn’t up to answering any questions right now and I had more than a few of my own to ask.  

Who was that who had called me out?  He’d been fast.  I’m pretty fast myself and he’d outdrawn me.  Fortunately, I got a shot off, but I don’t know what happened to him.  I must’ve killed him or I’d be dead, wouldn’t I?  I couldn’t think about that.  I’d never killed anyone before and knowing that I might have killed him hurt more than the hole in my shoulder ever could.  I didn’t even remember what he looked like.  I’d been so intent on watching his eyes; looking for that tell-tale blink that would tell me he was going for his gun, that I never really saw him.  It all happened so quickly.  I moaned again at the idea that I might be a killer and the sheriff stood up noisily, scraping his chair back.

“Are you hurtin’ bad?  Do you want some morphine?  The doc left some for you.”

“Yes.” I whispered.  Morphine would wipe it all away; the pain, the thoughts, the killing.

“Hold on then.  I got a few questions for you before you go driftin’ off to sleep again.  What’s your name, kid, and just how old are you?”

“Did I kill him?” I looked up at the burly man before me and I couldn’t stop my eyes from filling with tears.  

“Boudreau?  Naw, you just winged him; took out his gun arm.  He ain’t gonna be callin’ no kids out for a long time,” chuckled the sheriff.

I felt the strength my fears had given me washed away and I could barely muster the energy to reply.  He stood waiting patiently as I paused before answering, trying to think whether it mattered if this lawman knew who I was.  I didn’t know who I was anymore.  He wasn’t going to find that wanted poster on me.  There wasn’t one. Not yet.  

“It’s Heyes, Hannibal Heyes, and I’ll be twenty-one come next February.”  

The sheriff smiled and patted my leg.  The name meant nothing to him.  “Let me give you a little bit of advice, kid.  Leave the gun fighting to somebody else.”
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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:57 pm

This will be included in my "Tales of the Devil's Hole Days, Part III," saga.  But since I'm not even finished with Part II yet, and likely won't be for several more months, I'm kinda jumpin' the gun here.  But this story can certainly be read as a stand-alone.  I had to cut a little out to make the word limit so I hope it doesn't seem disjointed.


He did a lot of thinking on the mad, wild ride back to Devil’s Hole.  They weren’t new thoughts but they were in his mind more and more frequently and he knew he would have to do something about them real soon.  Lom Trevors had a dilemma and he just wasn’t sure how to solve it.

The job had gone well, just like all the other jobs he’d been privileged to take part in over the two years he’d been with the Devil’s Hole Gang.  This time, it was a bank robbery.  Other times, it had been trains.  They were harder; a moving train, like time, did not stand still for men.  Yeah, Lom thought, he was a thief of time.  Along with other, more tangible things.  Like money deposited in safes--small fortunes to people whose hard work over days and weeks and months and years was counted in the number of green bills representing dreams that, once lost, could never be recaptured.

He sighed and slowed his horse to a walk when he reached the entrance to the mountain hideout.  Following the gang members he’d ridden back with, his thoughts were as focused as his trusty bay carefully picking his way up the narrow trail.  Should he or shouldn’t he?  Sometimes the answer was yes, other times the answer was no.  He just couldn’t make up his mind.  

And there was no one to talk it out with.  He knew Heyes talked things over with the Kid before announcing plans for a new job, but he wasn’t on close enough terms with either leader to confide in them, nor was his problem something he thought they would be sympathetic to.  Thinking about it was almost more stressful than wondering if he’d continue to escape the posses that came after him.  Almost.

Lom entered the compound with his thoughts still in turmoil.  His horse automatically turned toward the barn without any prompting.  Lom dismounted, led the animal inside and after removing the saddle and other gear, started to brush the horse down.  Usually, that calmed Lom, too, but not on this day.  Each stroke of the brush gave him a different answer.  He threw down the tool in disgust and strode out the door.

With no clear destination in mind, he eventually found himself at the shooting range.  Lom was glad no one else was there.  He wasn’t in the mood for talking, not about the usual stuff like which saloon gal was gonna be the beneficiary of someone’s favors or how so-and-so was finally gonna beat Heyes at poker or shoot faster than the Kid or how Wheat woulda done the job different.  No, he wanted peace and quiet and if he couldn’t have the former, he’d settle for the latter.

Lom lined up the cans that always seemed to be laying around, unhooked the flap on his holster and drew his six-gun.  He sighted the weapon and pulled the trigger.  He heard the ping of bullet against metal.  He repeated the action three more times and then heard someone behind him so he paused.  Turning, he saw Kid Curry leaning against a tree, looking critically at the four cans on the ground rather than at the man a few feet away.

“Something the matter, Lom?” the Kid asked, friendly-like.

“Nope.”

“Then why you over here instead of the bunkhouse, eatin’ your fill of stew like everyone else?”

“Guess I’m not really hungry right now.”

“That ain’t like you.  Most times we get back to the Hole, you’re just as hungry as the rest of the men.”  The Kid looked at the other man inquisitively, waiting to hear the truth.

Lom squirmed under the steady gaze but only shrugged.  He couldn’t explain what was bothering him, not to this man anyway.

“And if you ain’t around when Heyes splits the haul, he’s gonna think mebbe you don’t want your share.”  The Kid smiled and walked back to the compound.

Lom sighed, then drew two more times, as rapidly as he could, and shot the remaining cans off the log.  He didn’t feel much better but he knew he had to return to the bunkhouse.

That night, he didn’t join in the poker game that always resumed when the men were flush after a job.  Spirits were high and the pot was higher.  Lom sat on his bunk, trying to ignore the conversation around him as he read the latest Adventure Library dime novel.  He’d bought it at a mercantile while scouting out a bank for Heyes a while ago and hadn’t finished reading it, what with taking part in the just-completed robbery.  He was close to the end when Heyes walked in.

“Howdy, Heyes,” Kyle greeted their leader.   Heyes seldom came to the bunkhouse right after dividing up the haul, preferring to celebrate privately with the Kid in their shared cabin.  Wheat looked up from the card game with a frown.  The other gang members glanced at Heyes briefly, then focused on their cards.  Lom went back to his book.

“Got room for another?” Heyes asked courteously, knowing no one would refuse him a seat at the table.  The atmosphere subtly changed as he pulled up a chair.  No one enjoyed losing their hard-earned money, especially to Heyes, who always took a larger share of the haul on account of him being the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.  It wasn’t that the gang resented Heyes’ extra takings—he’d explained why it was appropriate over and over--they just didn’t enjoy poker as much when he played with them.

Heyes tossed some coins to the center of the table and commenced to play.  Even with his mind only a quarter on the game—one quarter was already planning the next job, a third quarter was on the work the men needed to start doing to fix up the Hole for winter, and the last fourth was on Trevors, whom he observed across the room ignoring, for all intents and purposes, everything going on around him.  Lately, Trevors hadn’t been totally focused on his work and Heyes was beginning to get concerned.  He took an interest in the welfare of his men, especially as it pertained to the welfare of himself and his cousin, and he knew, from what the Kid had told him earlier, that something was bothering the older man.  Heyes could play poker with his eyes closed and still clean out everyone in the gang.  So he’d decided to surreptitiously watch Trevors to see if he could figure out what was going on and once he knew, then he’d decide what to do about it.  If it was just the usual, where one man had a falling out with another, then he’d let it be.  Those things usually worked themselves out without any interference from him or the Kid.  But if it was something else, something he would have to deal with, he wanted to know sooner rather than later.

As Heyes played, instinctively responding to the cues from Kyle, Wheat, and the others at the table, he eyed Trevors, who sat with his back to the wall, absorbed in whatever he was reading.  Every so often, Trevors stopped and sighed, staring into the distance without seeing anything other than the images in his mind.

An hour later, Heyes had accumulated a larger pile of coins that anyone else and enough impressions of Trevors to satisfy both his larceny and his curiosity.  “That’s it for me, boys,” he said with a grin.  Still smiling, he added, “I don’t want to wipe you out completely before I get the next job all planned.”

The other players grinned, too, nervously.  “Guess we won’t find out now, will we, boys?” Wheat said, almost as a challenge.  

Heyes smiled again, coolly this time.  “Good night.”  He wandered circuitously over to Trevors’ bunk, stopping first at the kitchen space to check there were enough foodstuffs for the coming week.  “What’s so engrossing?” he asked, nodding towards the book.

“Huh?”  Lom looked up, startled.

“I said, what are you reading?”  Heyes knew Trevors had more education than the other gang members but he didn’t want to embarrass the man if he didn’t know the word he’d used just now.  The Kid was the only one he could truly speak freely with; he didn’t mind when Heyes used words he didn’t know; if truth be told, his cousin was sorta impressed.  But his cousin wasn’t like the other men.

“Oh, ah…” Lom didn’t want to say.  He’d understood the first question well enough, he just hadn’t wanted to answer.  “Ain’t nothing special.”  He didn’t try to hide the book; he knew that would’ve just increased Heyes’ curiosity.

Heyes regarded the man, wondering why he was so hesitant.  “Well, I can see you’re enjoying it so I won’t disturb you no more.  Good night.”  Lom let out the breath he’d been holding when Heyes left the building.

Over the next few days, Lom realized that Heyes and Curry were watching him closely.  He did the chores assigned to him; was pleasant, if not especially hearty in his interactions with the gang; and generally kept to himself when he wasn’t working.  He hadn’t reached any decision yet and wasn’t about to do anything to arouse suspicion before he made up his mind.

But he was beginning to feel an affinity with the main character in his book.

One night, Heyes returned to the bunkhouse, followed by the Kid.  The men gathered around to hear the latest plan.  Heyes first described the job in general terms, then followed with details and finally assigned each gang member his particular task.   “Any questions?” he asked.  Heyes had early on in his tenure as leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang figured out that he would get better results from his men by addressing all their concerns straight up, instead of dismissing them as grumbling and complaining from men who, after all, avoided work that was hard on the back as much as possible.  He dealt with each concern and complaint as if it were the most important item in ensuring the job’s success, and even Wheat was finally satisfied that the plan would work.

Lom was quiet throughout the description of how the train would be stopped, the passengers safely accounted for, and the mining payroll extracted from the safe.  He listened attentively, nodded as his role was explained to him, and didn’t cheer with the other gang members when the amount of money reputed to be in the safe was announced.

Heyes and Curry both noticed the older man’s demeanor.  Back in the leaders cabin, they discussed what to do about Trevors.

“What do you think, Kid?  He fixing to leave?”

“Yeah, I reckon so.”

“You think he’s gonna try and turn us in?”

“Nah.  He ain’t that kinda man.”

“How you figure that?”  Heyes needed to be sure.

“You know we never found out for sure why he wanted to join up with us.”  Heyes nodded, remembering the interview when Trevors had first arrived at Devil’s Hole.  “So I been watchin’ him ever since, Heyes.  He’s done nothing suspicious.”  Curry raised his hand to forestall Heyes.  “Yeah, I know that don’t mean much.  But there’s been times when he coulda tried to turn us in and he didn’t.  I think that book he’s readin’ has something to do with whatever he’s thinkin’ now.”

“Yeah,” Heyes agreed.  “I asked him about it the other day and he wouldn’t talk about it.” Heyes made up his mind.  “I gotta find out what it is.”

“You want me to send him into town tomorrow to buy something?” Curry asked.

“No, let’s keep things as normal as possible.  Tell some of the men to work on mending the tack and send the others to chop some trees for repairs to the bunkhouse and barn.  Make sure Trevors is in that group,” Heyes instructed.  “While he’s away, I’ll get hold of that book.”

Curry nodded.  “I’ll tell them to find some virgin forest…”  Heyes cocked his head and snorted.  The Kid reconsidered his choice of words.  “I’ll tell them to go somewhere they ain’t been before.”

“Yeah, you know one of them knuckleheads won’t understand the other way,” Heyes laughed.

“Anyway, I’ll make sure they’re not close by.  I’ll tell the boys you’re working on the plan some more so you have time to read the book.  It should take ‘em a few hours to get there, chop down some trees, and haul them back.  That enough time for you?”

“That’ll be fine.  Thanks, Kid,” Heyes told him.

When the men returned the following evening, Curry found Trevors sprawled on his bunk after dinner, eyes closed but not asleep.  “Trevors.”  The Kid spoke quietly, standing at the head of the bed.

“Yeah?” Lom asked, without opening his eyes.

“Heyes wants to talk to you.”  Curry turned and walked out the door, expecting Trevors to follow.

Lom groaned.  He was sore from chopping trees much of the day and then dragging them back through the underbrush to the compound.  He’d washed in the river on his way back but that had done nothing for his sore muscles.  He thought maybe he was beginning to feel his age.  He rose and slowly made his way over to the small cabin where he could see Heyes and Curry waiting for him on the porch.  He knew what they wanted to talk about but he still hadn’t made up his mind.

Heyes skipped the pleasantries.  “Care to tell us what this is all about?” he asked aggressively, holding up the book so Trevors could see the title, The Sheriff of Broken Bow, clearly.

“It’s just a dime novel I’m reading,” Lom replied, somewhat defensively.  “Ain’t nobody’s business but my own what I read.”

“It’s our business if you’re aiming to turn us in,” said Heyes coldly, watching Trevors’ reaction.

Lom half-opened his mouth to protest, then closed it again and fidgeted under the hard stares of the outlaw leaders in front of him.  He backed up and leaned against the railing.  “No,” he said.  “That ain’t it.”

“What, then?” Curry asked.  “We need to know.”

“I…”  All the thoughts in Lom’s head finally coalesced as he began to explain.  “I…” he stopped and shifted his gaze to his boots.

“You afraid of getting caught and ending up in prison?” Heyes thought that was a reasonable fear all his men might succumb to every now and then.

“No, course not!”  Lom rejected that possibility out of hand.  “Not with you two leading the Devil’s Hole Gang.”

“Then you’re a fool, and I didn’t take you for one, Lom,” Heyes said softly, as his cousin shot a sharp glance at him.

Lom wasn’t sure how to answer that.

“Kid, fetch us some whiskey, would you?” Heyes suddenly asked, as he kept his eyes on Trevors.  He was sure now that his initial conclusion was correct.

Curry went inside and brought back a bottle, then poured three glasses.  He watched Trevors raise his hand in a silent toast and then gulp his shot.

“Better?” inquired Heyes.

Trevors felt the burn of the cheap liquor and nodded.  “Thanks.”

“So,” Heyes returned to the purpose of the meeting.  “Why you reading a book about a lawman?”

Lom shrugged.  “Kinda wanted to see things from the other side.”

Curry left the questioning to Heyes.  

“And?”

Lom raised his head and looked directly at Heyes, trying to gauge what his reaction would be.  “And I think I’m gonna ride out,” Lom finally said, then waited nervously as his mind drifted back to the time he first met Heyes.

He’d spotted him as soon as they’d removed the blindfold and he twisted around on his horse, the same bay now contentedly eating oats in the barn.  If only he were as content!

At first, he’d felt privileged to be part of the gang, relieved that he had a steady source of income along with regular meals and a roof over his head, most of the time anyway.  But lately, he’d noticed a change.  Outlawing had turned into a burden too heavy for him to carry but he couldn’t figure out what to do instead.

Until he stumbled across The Sheriff of Broken Bow and read how a man with a dubious past had become a lawman in Nebraska.  Ever since, he wondered if he could do the same thing.

Heyes interrupted Lom’s thoughts.  “And then what?”

Lom kept his eyes on Curry’s gun hand as he said, “After I’m outta here, think I’ll mosey on over to Nebraska, see if I can make a go of it there.”

Curry’s hand remained at his side.  “You gonna look up this sheriff fella?” he asked, pointing to the book.

“Reckon so.”

“Why?” Heyes waited a long time for the answer.

“You once told me you valued honesty,” Lom started slowly.

A smile flit across Heyes’ face as he remembered that conversation, too.

“You and the Kid have been good to me.  But I’m older’n you and outlawing ain’t what I want to do the rest of my life.  There’s other things I want now and robbing ain’t the way I’m gonna get them.”  Lom searched the gang leaders’ faces to see if they understood.  Encouraged, he continued.  “You helped me out when I needed it and I don’t forget my friends.  I won’t help the law catch you so you can rest easy on that.”

Heyes and Curry conversed without speaking and then Heyes said, “You’re a good man, Lom Trevors.  We wish you well but, don’t take this the wrong way—we hope we never see you again.”  He stuck out his hand and Lom gripped it hard.

“Good luck, Lom,” the Kid added as he shook Trevors’ hand.

Lom nodded and then went to pack his belongings.  He’d ride out in the morning.

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry looked at each other, and wondered.



Author's Note:
The Sheriff of Broken Bow, by William Wallace Cook, was a dime novel published in 1912 by Street & Smith.  I have taken the liberty of time-shifting it to the Old West.  A picture of the cover can be found at:
http://digilib6.syr.edu:81/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/st_smith&CISOPTR=104&CISOBOX=1&REC=4

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PostSubject: Re: June 2013 "I'm out of here!"   Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:59 pm

Get Me Outta Here

Hannibal Heyes didn’t know what hit him.

Flat on his back, parallel to the heavens, the grey clouds of an afternoon stalled, as if having hit a wall.  Indeed, all motion ceased, save for the stars in his head.

To an unknowing eye, the outlaw leader appeared unconscious, his movement stilled.  However, the stirrings beneath the dark hair, though confused, raged.

Where was he?  Or, better yet, how did he get here?  And why?

Okay, back to the beginning…  

Ah, the argument!  Him and the men.  Over…?  Argh!  Head hurts.  Where was Kid when he needed him?

Right, the men.  They’d been holed up all winter, kind of bored.  Wanting to get to something…

Wait – the plans.  A recent traipse through Buffalo to drum the newly established bank.  Gold bound for Fort McKinney.  Most of the men thought it an adventure, riches beyond what they had ever undertaken.  Being cautious, Wheat thought it too brazen – too many soldiers about, and they had not before tangled with martial authorities.  Heyes had to agree, but the enthusiasm of the majority of the Devil’s Hole Gang prevailed.  Despite his misgivings, he surveilled anyway, wanting to see for himself whether the plan had any merit, what the chances were for pulling it off and returning unscathed.  

Meanwhile, Kid Curry had not yet returned from another trip to Coulson.  The bank there presented a more traditional target for them – swoop in on a Saturday night after all was quiet, crack the safe, get away under cover of darkness, long before anyone discovered the robbery.  A foray into Montana Territory was something Heyes thought about from time to time.  However, going beyond Wyoming was risky.  If they pulled off a robbery there, they would be wanted in two jurisdictions.  More concerning, could they afford to lose a safe haven?  But, ever since the James and Youngers had ventured off their own beaten track and into Minnesota, the idea had attracted him.  He was confident they would succeed where their more Eastern counterparts had not.  Coulson looked easy compared to Northfield, and their styles were different.

A brown eye opened, catching a too bright but momentary ray, and just as quickly shut with a grimace.  The sun briefly peaked out from behind a wandering cloud, and the leaden sky lightened before the orb just as quickly retreated.  He breathed more rapidly as a cool breeze chilled him.  The ground underneath was cold; he had not noticed it until now.

He willed his breathing to regulate.  Thoughts hastened.  Plans continued to roll through his mind.  

Perhaps the timing was not yet right for Buffalo or Coulson.  Both were too likely to put them in more harm’s way than usual.  Maybe something even closer to home or a bit further afield; Casper was another place they had never hit and seemed ripe for the taking.  Staying in Wyoming had its advantages.  Spring had just sprung.  Everyone was ready to ride, eager to shake off the winter doldrums and come down from the Hole – get some jingle in their pockets.  A long, cold season left them bored and tired of sitting around.  The hint of warmth had them stirring, ready to start the robbing season, even if white patches remained scattered about.

Hank had suggested moseying on down to a nearby stage route.  Toward the end of the month, a guard riding shotgun was along for the trip, whereas most other times a lone driver sufficed.  Likely easy enough pickings to whet the men’s appetites and keep them satisfied until the next job.

Or maybe they should just stay put.  Wait!  Hadn’t he just had this conversation with himself recently, only a short while ago?  Why were these same thoughts swirling, invading his…daydreams?

Heyes shook his head, stirred.  His eyes flew open as if just being woken from a restless sleep, a considered, though thoughtful, nightmare.  He peered at the sky, looked about, observed his horse quietly grazing on sparse grass nearby.  

Ouch!  A gloved hand rushed to his jaw – it hurt!  Ran his tongue along his teeth; they were all there, and none seemed loose.  The stars in his field of vision had lessened, and he now beheld the canopy of bare brown and some coniferous green overhead.  A certain branch mocked him.

Ah, understanding!  He smirked, rolled his eyes simultaneously with his body.  Now prone on his belly, he closed his lids tightly against the dizziness from the motion, opening them quickly at the sound of a horse’s approach.  A familiar sorrel greeted his own chestnut as his partner – two? – came into view.

Kid Curry jumped down, swiftly appearing at Heyes’ side.  “Can’t leave ya on your own for a few days without you gettin’ into trouble, huh?”

The dark-haired man grunted as he locked arms with the blond and staggered to his feet.  He closed his eyes tightly to let the world stop spinning.

“You okay?”

Heyes slowly opened one eye, then the other.  His partner now appeared as one.

“Heyes?”

“Yeah?”

“What’re ya doin’ out here by yourself?”

The outlaw leader sighed.  “Taking a ride.”

The blond man grinned.  “On the ground?”  He bent to retrieve his partner’s hat.

Taking it, Heyes pressed it onto his head.  “Argh!”  He paused until his grimace subsided.  “I needed to think without all the men around.”

“So, you decided to take a nap, without a bedroll?”

“No.”  Heyes’ hand again shot to his jaw.

Kid removed the bandana from his pocket.  He spit on it before wiping his partner’s chin.  “You have a nasty cut there.  It’s bleedin’.”

“I know.”  Another grimace.  “Watch it, will ya!”  He moved away from Kid’s ministrations.

The blue eyes danced as he eyed a large branch hanging lower than the rest.  “You thinkin’ too much you weren’t payin’ attention?”

“Maybe.”

The blond man chuckled.  “Uh huh.  Heyes, I told ya all that thinkin’ would get ya into trouble someday.  You’re lucky I came along when I did.  Can’t leave ya for two seconds…”

“Enough!”

Kid backed off a step, palms up.  “Calm down.  Just kiddin’.”

“Sorry.”  Heyes whacked a hand to his thigh and dust flew.  “Told ya, I just needed to get away.  The men…”

Kid nodded.  “Uh huh.  The men’re wantin’ some action, and you needed to think.”

“Something like that.  What’d you think of Coulson?”

The blond man shrugged.  “Pretty straightforward.  Should be easy enough.  But, Montana?  I’m not so sure about that.”

“Me neither.”

Kid re-pocketed the bandana.  “You thinkin’ better 'bout that gold shipment to Fort McKinney?”

Heyes finished dusting himself off.  “No.  I think Wheat’s right about that one.  I don’t like the idea of messing with soldiers.”

Kid raised a brow.  “I don’t either.”

“How about Hank’s stage?”

“I don’t know.  We don’t do stages.”  Kid eyed his partner.  “Heyes, who says we need to do anything right now?  It’s still snowin’ some at night.  Maybe we should wait ‘til it’s warmer and ya have a better idea 'bout what we should do.”

Heyes smiled.  “That’s where my thoughts were taking me, Kid.  The men’ll just have to hole up a while longer.  Let’s get on outta here and get back.  I could use some coffee.”

Two partners mounted up and rode, carefully, back to the Hole.


Notes:  The town of Coulson, Montana was established in 1877 and a precursor to Billings, where a city park now encompasses the ground on which it stood.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billings,_Montana#Coulson_.2F_Billings

In 1876, the James-Younger Gang ventured into Minnesota and met its end at Northfield, where citizens stood their ground, fighting back after a bank robbery and several murders, delaying the gang's escape.  Two members were killed in Northfield, and the posse caught up with four others, killing another, while the James boys escaped.  Badly wounded, the three Younger brothers were sentenced to 25 years in prison because Minnesota did not have a death penalty.  Although the James Gang subsequently reformed with new recruits, its glory days were behind them.  For more info, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_James_Northfield_Raid#Downfall_of_the_gang
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PostSubject: I'm Outta Here by Wichita Red   Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:29 pm

A month and a day late...but late is better then never. Here is my version of this challenge.


““I’m outta here.” Wheat warbled in only a way Wheat could.

“Halt.” A black gloved hand came up before him.

Dragging to a stop, his blue eyes rolled white as he turned to look at the Devil’s Hole Leader.

“Quit worrying. I ain’t having you assist.”

Wheat smiled weakly then stood straighter, shoving his chest out, “Not that I can’t handle it and all.”

“Uh Huh.” Heyes mumbled his dark eyes busily studying the sap like ooze staining the length of the shelf. “I just need you to keep the others all clear.”

Wheat nodded, “Will do.” He eyed the bright sunshine beyond the shed’s door. “I’ll go do that right now.”

“And Wheat. . . I mean it about keeping clear. That includes the Kid.”

“Right Heyes.”

“I’m holding you responsible if he shows up.”

Wheat audibly sucked on his teeth before nodding and walking out with a little less swagger to his step. At the door, he paused, his eyes drifting from Heyes to the shelf to Kyle standing sheepishly behind his leader. “Well if’n. . .” His eyes drifted to the shelf again, “Well it’s been good ridin’ with ya Kyle --- Heyes.”

Placing his hands on his hips, Heyes watched Wheat walk away and then turned a stony face toward Kyle. The little outlaw looked all around his head pivoting like a wayward dog until unable to stand the angry eyes staring him down, he blurted out, “I been watching it Heyes.”

One black eyebrow arched.

“I have.” Kyle rubbed his damp palms across the front of his shirt. “I been removin’ the ones with sugar coating.”

The dark-eyes flicked to the shelf of brown dynamite sticks each of them coated in a dusting of nitro crystals after a full minute they slid back to Kyle.

“Them ain’t coated. They’s just sweated a bit is all.”

Heyes closed his eyes, exhaling through his nose, “Kyle there is not supposed to be nitro on the outside. And, do tell me you see the puddle of nitro creeping across the shelf.”

Kyle’s mouth twisted and he shifted about.

“Well?”

“That leak there, it is a problem.” Kyle looked up suddenly with a huge smile heading for the shelf. “Tell you what I’ll find the one leaking and all will be good.”

“Freeze!”

“But Heyes I know what I’m doin’. Really I do.”

“I know you do Kyle.” Heyes said laying an arm about the outlaw’s shoulders. “If I didn’t believe you knew how to handle explosives then I’d give your job to someone else. Frankly Kyle I like having you as my dynamite man. Fact is I trust you. But Kyle. . . .” He waved a hand at the dangerous mess on the shelf.

“I know Heyes.” Kyle said the corner of his mouth tugging down. “It’s just they’s all kind of precious too me.”

“Uh Hum.” Heyes nodded, rolling his eyes. “How old is this batch?”

“Big Jim gave’em to me the day he made me his dynamite man.” Kyle chirped his whole being enlarging as he filled up with pride.

“Kyle!” Heyes took off his hat, running a hand back through his thick black hair. “These have to be what – ten years old?!?”

“Close.” Kyle looked down at his boots.

“You rightly know they ain’t safe.”

“But it’s all I got left from Big Jim.”

“He ain’t dead Kyle.” Heyes slammed his hat back on. “And sure as hell wouldn’t want you blowing yourself or any of us up by having a keepsake of unstable dynamite.”

“I told myself that, but I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of’em. They’s just too beautiful.”

Heyes sighed, dropping an arm about his dejected looking friend. “Tell you what, we’ll do it together. Then when we’re done we’ll drink a bottle to memories.”

Kyle rolled his chaw deeper into his cheek and then smiled over at Heyes agreeing

Working as a team the pair of them gently, ever so gently, transferred the pile of dynamite sticks to a deeply dug fire pit a ways off from the storage shack. Until all that remained, was the shiny trail of nitro on the wood plank.

Squatting next to the hole, Heyes gradually doused each stick in lamp oil and then standing, he handed his sliver matchstick tin to Kyle, “You want the honor?”

Kyle nodded and with a small, tremulous smile, he struck a match tossing it into the hole. The lamp oil flamed up brilliantly, licking high into the air and in its brightness; Kyle looked as deflated as penny balloon.

“You did right.” Heyes patted him on the back watching the dynamite fall to pieces in the flames, its nitro bubbling brilliantly before evaporating. “Seems to me if any nitro had dripped off the shelf, it all would have blown sky high. But, stranger things have happened. So I want you to cover the floor in sawdust and for the next two weeks keep it good wet to ensure it is all well diluted.” Then frowning he looked to the board itself and shaking his head, he turned hollering, “Alright come on out.”

Kid Curry leisurely stepped from behind a ponderosa pine he’d been leaning against for more than an hour, “Gotta say Heyes, for once I am glad it wasn’t me who was your partner this time.” He looked down into the hole at the burning sticks. “How many?”

“Fifeteen.”

“Used to be twenty but like I said I been removing the sugar coated ones.” Kyle said defensively.

Kid shook his head, “Still glad it wasn’t me helping you.”

“Well you can get over that because I need your assistance now.”

Kid pointed at his chest while nodding over at Kyle.

Heyes shook his head, “Nope. I want you.”

Dropping his head, Kid muttered, “What?”

Heyes motioned for him to follow him into the shed, “We got to get rid of the shelf.”

“Is that nitro?”

“Mmm Hmm.” Heyes flashed a bright smile “And, I know exactly what I want to do with it.”

“Which is?”

“Throw it off the overhang behind the Hole and let the explosion block up that pass. Never much cared for knowing it our backdoor was open.”

“Good idea.” Kid grinned. “But why do you need me?”

“Why to carry the board with me.”

“You have to be joking.”

“Not in the least. I don’t want risk balancing it alone.”

Kid once more nodded toward Kyle.

Heyes frowned.

Kid frowned.

Then without another word, they took up the board tenderly making their way toward the rock face, “Hey Kid you ready to the leader yet?”

“Nope Heyes, I enjoy being head of security and I do wish you would quit changing my job description.”












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June 2013 "I'm out of here!"
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