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 July 2013 Lying in Wait

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Maz

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PostSubject: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:53 am

Wow! You should see the size of this Story Challenge room...

Not being a red wine drinker I abandoned the Italian meal and a bottle of vino method of choosing the story title for this month.bottle 

However, this has full approval of the fluffy one who is probably trekking up a mountain in Denali as we speak. I am hoping for a real live moose as a present for holding the proverbial fort.sm 

So this month's challenge title is............Lying in Wait

Let the waiting and the lying down begin.

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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:12 am

I know no one will believe me but I had no idea what I would write when I chose the title for this month. It was simply a title from a book on my bookcase.

So like you all I have pondered. I ummed and I aahhed and finally a light shone.

I give you my humble offering.

Lying in Wait
By Maz McCoy


Hannibal Heyes lay on his back looking up at the ceiling. Two long cracks in the plaster ran in opposite directions above him and intersected in the middle.

“X marks the spot,” Heyes mumbled.

“You say somethin’?” a gravelly voice asked.

“Nope.” Heyes let out a sigh and moved his legs. The chain clanked and the cold metal anklet pulled against his leg. He kicked out in frustration and the man sitting at the desk laughed. A chair was pushed back and a moment later a man in his late fifties stepped into view. He brushed crumbs off his vest revealing the sheriff’s badge pinned to his shirt. Wiping the back of his hand across his mouth he reached out and gripped the cell bars. Sheriff Wilbur Berry looked at Heyes.

“Ain’t no use, son, you can shake ‘em all you like but those chains are stayin’ put.” Heyes met the other man’s gaze but remained silent. “Not long now afore you’re on your way to Wyoming. You should enjoy my company while you can, ‘stead a tryin’ to make a break for it.”  Heyes turned his head away. Chuckling, Sheriff Berry shrugged, walked back to his desk, returning to the remains of his mid-day meal.

Heyes looked back at the ceiling. Tomorrow or maybe the next day a US Marshall was coming to take him to Wyoming. Tomorrow or the day after, he’d be taking the first steps on his way to the Penitentiary. They wanted to put him away for twenty years. They’d wanted to do that for years. Posters plastered across the West offered folk a reward for helping them. Now it looked like they were actually going to do it and he didn’t care.

Heyes rested a hand on his stomach and touched the fabric of his shirt with his fingers. He didn’t need to look down to know it was stained red. His pants were the same. The blood had dried now, the fabric felt different because… He shook his head. No point in letting his mind go there.

Swinging his legs over the edge of the bunk he sat up. The chain clanked. Only his right leg was shackled. He smiled in resignation. They considered him such a risk of escaping, rated his ability to pick a lock so high, that they had discussed how best to keep him in jail. The sheriff, the bounty hunter who had brought him in and the deputy had stood outside his cell and scratched their heads until the bounty hunter had suggested shackling him. One shackle around his leg, the other around the cell bars. The three men had nodded in agreement. The bounty hunter had provided the means.

Heyes pulled the chain towards him so he could sit more comfortably, not that his comfort mattered any more. He rested his elbows on his knees and looked around the cell. The floor was dirty, covered in spots of who knew what. The blanket was moth eaten and the sheet a shade of white you could only call grey. The pillow had brown stains on it and something small and furry crawled along the ground under the opposite bunk. The Brown Palace, Denver, it was not.

He’d considered asking them to send a message to Lom Trevors. Wondered if they would let him, despite knowing Lom would never reach Griffin’s Hollow in time. In the end he’d decided against it. He didn’t need to see Lom’s face through the bars; didn’t need to hear that there was nothing he could do or that the Governor had finally abandoned him. Him, not them.

He didn’t need Lom’s sympathy either. The image came flashing back. Kid lying in his arms, bleeding.

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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:11 am

Well I know it's kind of cheating to add an excerpt from a previously written longer story, but sometimes the prompt just fits a scene so perfectly, I can't resist. So here it is.



Richard Layton took pride in the fact that he was the best shot with a rifle in all the county surrounding the town of Murreyville. Whenever there was a shooting contest, he won them all. Whenever there was a rogue cougar taking out too many calves or foals the ranchers hired him to track it down and take care of it. Whenever Sheriff Morrison had need of some trustworthy and capable men for a special job Rick was always first on his list. Therefore it came as no surprise to Layton when Morrison got in touch and told him to be ready to move out at a moment’s notice. Something good was in the air, and Rick, with his trusty and well oiled ‘73 Winchester 44-40 was definitely going to be needed.
Morrison had received a telegram from his informant two weeks previous stating that two men by the names of Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones would be dropping by the Double J ranch sometime in the very near future and that was all Morrison needed to start getting preparations under way. He began by contacting the three men who had the talents and the tenacity to understand the plan and to carry it out to its conclusion.
Along with Layton, there was Jack Strode who, though not as handy with a rifle as Richard, he was just as good a tracker and Morrison wanted him along just in case the quarry escaped the trap. Then the third member of the party was Mike Shoemacher who had no special abilities other than that he was big and could look menacing without even breaking a sweat. He also had a brain under his hat and was not an easy man to con which was a strong asset considering who it was they were going after.
Once Morrison had his three men organized and standing by, he made a trip to the county seat to pay a visit to The Honourable Judge Henry Jackson to arrange for warrants and extradition papers that would give the Sheriff the lawful right to enter another state or territory, arrest the outlaws and return with them to Wyoming where they would finally face trial for their numerous crimes.
Sheriff Morrison left no stone unturned. Knowing that timing was everything he didn’t wait for news that the outlaws had arrived, but had gathered his carefully chosen posse together, boarded the specially ordered train and began chugging and clanking their way to Denver just as fast as the engine could haul them. He had made arrangements with his deputy to be on the lookout for another telegram from Brookswood Colorado and when it did arrive, to send it on to the telegraph office in Denver where Morrison would be waiting to receive it.
Once that telegram actually did arrive, then things really started to get serious. Everything hinged on Sam being able to keep the two outlaws from leaving the ranch without them getting suspicious that something was in the works. If that part of the plan had been up to Morrison he wouldn’t have used him. Sam was a good lad, but he was young and inexperienced and could easily give the game away without even knowing he had done it. But Sam’s father had been a much liked and respected law man and the people funding this little operation wanted to give his son a chance to prove himself. Morrison just wished they would do that on a plan that wasn’t quite as volatile or potentially profitable as this one was. Heyes and Curry were anything but stupid. The slightest hint of a setup and they would be gone and so would any chance of ever laying out a trap like this again. This plan had been over a year in the making, but it was a one time deal, no second chances so it just had to work.
From Denver, the small posse then took a stagecoach to the small town of Salt River that was ten miles outside of Brookswood. Morrison did not want to announce their arrival to anyone in Brookswood in case someone in town got word to the Jordan’s inadvertently or not, and that included the local law enforcement. Morrison didn’t know the sheriff of that town and didn’t want to take the chance that the man might be an idiot. The less anybody knew about their plans the better.
That evening Morrison sent one more telegram to Sam letting him know (in as few words as possible, in case the telegrapher liked to gossip) that everything was ready. Then all Morrison could do was hope that Sam knew what he had to do and not lose his nerve this close to the end.
Horses, and a few last minute supplies were purchased and then the small posse made their way towards the Jordan ranch They were able to make good time at first, but as the light started to fade they slowed the pace down so as not to cause injury to themselves or the horses. They all rode in silence, everyone’s nerves just a little on edge. It was getting on to midnight by the time they were approaching the ranch and five miles out they stopped to wait out the night, not wanting to risk getting any closer with the lanterns blazing
They picketed the horses, but left them saddled and wrapped themselves in blankets to try and stay a little warm in the chilly spring night air and then settled in to wait for the first hint of dawn to make an appearance. Actually getting some sleep was completely out of the question. If it wasn’t for the anxiety involved the anticipation of dawn’s arrival would have reminded the men of long ago Christmas mornings when the first light of day would bring happy surprises. But there was no telling what this first light was going to bring, other than relief when it finally did arrive and the men could get moving again.
By the time the sun was peeking up over the horizon the posse members were in their positions around the Jordan’s ranch house and waiting for anything to start happening. Mike was some distance back, keeping the horses quiet. Jack had settled into a spot by the barn furthest from the house but with a clear view of the yard and the front porch. Richard and Morrison had hunkered down behind the wood shed and water well which gave them a side view of the porch but a clear view of the barn closest to the house. All the strategic points were covered.
Richard did one more quick check of his rifle then placed the barrel over the lip of the well in order to test his maneuverability. He had to be able to rest the barrel of the rifle on something solid to achieve the stability he would need for the clean shot but he also needed the rifle unhindered in case the target got wind of what was coming and made a run for it.
Then, just as the sun was clearing the horizon and warming itself up for another pleasant spring day, the front door of the house opened. A man with dark blond curly hair and wearing a light blue shirt and jeans came out onto the porch and down the steps and then headed for the outhouse.

“That’s Curry.” Morrison whispered.

“I know.” Came Richard’s quiet response.

“Just let him carry on. We have to wait until they’re both out in the open.”

“I know.”

Curry came into view again and then made his way into the first barn. The men waited

About ten minutes later the front door opened once more and a dark haired disheveled man wearing tan trousers and just his henley staggered his way down the steps and also headed to the outhouse.

“There! That’s Heyes.”

“I know.”

“Damn! Why couldn’t they come out together? The longer this takes the more complicated it could become.”

They sat quietly, watching while Heyes made his way from the outhouse and into the barn. Then they waited, hearts thumping and nerves jingling.

“Damn!” Whispered Morrison again. “Come on! If anyone else comes out of the house now this whole thing could be a wash. If either of those girls are anywhere near your line of fire you cannot shoot.”

“I KNOW!” Geesh! Why couldn’t Morrison shut up and let him focus. He knew what he had to do.

Then, what seemed like an eternity later, Heyes and Curry came out of the barn and headed back towards the house. They were talking, smiling, apparently in good spirits and totally unsuspecting of anything amiss.
Richard took a deep breath and lined him up in his sights.

“Do you have him?” Morrison whispered.

“I have him.”

“Take your shot.”

Richard moistened his lips, held his breath and then slowly squeezed the trigger.


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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:00 pm

"Kid?" Hannibal Heyes' voice called into the darkness.  

A muffled noise came from the shadows.

"That you down there, Kid?" Heyes checked.

"Mph!"

Lifting the window's latch, Heyes lowered himself in, crumpling into a heap on the dirt floor below.  "Deeper drop than I thought," he said to himself as he brushed off.  "How long you been down here?"

"Mph!"  This time, an irritated, blue-eyed glare accompanied the articulation.

Heyes moved to loosen the yellow bandana that covered Kid Curry's mouth.  

The Kid licked at dry lips.  "I said I been down here all month!"  

"You've been held hostage in Maz's cellar all month?  You mean those messages she sent about the two of you going out for fancy coffee were all lies?" Heyes asked, untying his partner.

"Oh, there was fancy coffee alright.  Lots of it.  Only she brought it here."

"Starbuck's?"

"Starbuck's."  The Kid held his head as if it ached.  "Talk about a caffeine hangover!  Double-chocolaty-java-chip-frappuccino..." Curry muttered.  "Those things are addictive!" he growled.

Heyes shushed him.

"Just look at me!" he whispered angrily, pointing toward his mid-section.

Heyes took note of Curry's belt buckle, loosened two notches.  

"I must've put on ten pounds!"

"Maybe Maz thought you needed some fattening up."

"Yeah, like a Thanksgiving Turkey before the slaughter.  You see what she's been writin' for July's challenge?"

Heyes shook his head.  

"Trust me, you don't want to.  Just get me outta here!  I feel like a deer trapped in a cougar's den, her lyin' in wait upstairs, just hopin' I'll make a run for it, so she can sink those type-writin' claws of hers into me."

"You've been trapped in a cougar's den alright, Kid," Heyes chuckled.  "But you're safe now. Ghislaine and Grace are outside, waiting to collect their bandana and see us back to the States."

Curry struggled to the window above, while Heyes pushed from below.  From outside, Ghislaine and Grace each pulled on one of the slightly plumper outlaw's arms.

"Dang, Kid!  You fit in here, you gotta be able to get out!"  Heyes pushed harder.

"Not with what she's been feedin' me."  

"It wouldn't have been honey, by any chance, would it?"

"Honey?"

"Never mind!"  Heyes grunted and shoved.

"Finally!" Grace cried, as the Kid popped free from his dungeon.  She clasped her hands together as if in grateful prayer.  "He's mine!"

"HE might be yours," Ghislaine reminded, gesturing with a twist of her head toward the dark-haired outlaw, stealthily emerging from the cellar window.  "But HE'S mine!"  

"Ladies, please," Curry cut in from his prone position, sprawled in the flowerbed.  "Must I remind you again?"  He waved a soggy scarf like a flag of surrender.  "It's the YELLA BANDANA you all compete for every month, not US!"

"Right," agreed Heyes.

"Right!"  Ghislaine and Grace shared a wink.

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PostSubject: Safest Place - Lying in Wait Challenge for July 2013   Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:07 pm

Today is my Birthday so I am posting this one as a Birthday Present to myself. I challenged myself to get this story I have been carrying around inside of my head out and done in time to post for July 18th.  I hope y'all enjoy it.

Safest Place by Wichita Red

“How many lock picks you got on yourself?”

“Four. Why?” Heyes blurted, clinging drunkenly to Kid Curry as they staggered down the center of the quiet dark street.

“Four!” Kid snorted shaking his head, losing all signs of drunkenness.

“What? I like to be prepared.” Heyes said with a shrug but seeing the building they were heading toward, he slid to a halt. “You’ve got to be kidding, Kid? Hey kidding Kid, get it?”

“Uh huh.” Kid grumbled shaking his head again and once more propelling his fellow Devil’s Hole Member forward.  

“Stop pushing on me, I ain’t going in there!” Heyes barked, ducking out of the Kid’s grip causing his black hat to tumble off and roll about the pair of them in the dirt.  

Sighing Kid swept up the silver-studded hat, placing it back on Hannibal Heyes’ head, “Stop fussin’! I thought this through and it’s the only way.”

“Hold on there Kid, I am the one who does the thinking.” Heyes slurred.

“Not this time.”

“Well I ain’t going in there.” He yelped fumbling out his gun. “And, you can’t make me.”

Kid grinned, “Why now you’re thinking.” Than chuckling, he plucked the Schofield from his cousin’s hand, smoothly tucking it into the back of his own pants.

Looking from his empty hand to his cousin and then to the building looming over them, Heyes swallowed hard. “Kid, now Kid ain’t I always taken care of you.”

“Not the best time to bring that up.” Kid replied latching hold of his reeling partner and aiming him toward the boardwalk.

“Alright . . . alright.” Heyes bleated catching his boot heels against the edge of the walk. “So we’ve had some disagreements and things don’t always go as planned but I am still the only family you got.”  

“Heyes.” Kid shook his head yet again and all but threw his cousin up on the walk.” “We discussed this.”

“No you discussed this, I thought you were joking.” Heyes said clutching at Kid Curry’s shirtfront. “You can’t do this to me.”

“Would you settle down? I ain’t gonna leave you here just placing you here for safe keeping.”

Heyes eyes rolled to read the words painted in red across the front window, “Safe HERE!?”

“Last place and best place I can think of.” The Kid said disengaging Heyes’ hands.

"Bad enough they's always lying in wait for us but now you want to feed me to them." Before the Kid could reach the doorknob, Heyes turned hard black eyes on his cousin to hiss, “I will tell them you who you are.”

“Now what good would that do you? Then we would both be in here.”

With a sigh, the steely look faded and taking a breath, Heyes licked his lips, ‘damn whiskey I can’t hardly think . . . I didn’t think I drank that much.’ And as this thought slid through his fuzzy mind, his brown eyes narrowed to tight creases, “Did you drug me?”

“Hell yes or I would have never made it this far.”

“Jedediah!” Heyes squawked louder than any of his earlier protests, his mouth dropping open.

Kid smiled so large back at him, he resembled the innocent child he had once been and gripping Heyes by the collar, he opened the door dragging him through, “Sherriff, I would like to collect a bounty.”

The man behind the desk raised his head from the blotter blinking to focus his sleep bleary eyes. “Sherriff’s at home. I’m Deputy Riggs.” He yawned. “What is it ya want?”

“Got me a man to turn in.”

“Oh!” The deputy lurched to his feet scratching at his head before snagging a set of keys from the wall. “What’s he done?”

Kid grinned, “Plenty.”

“Alright.” The Deputy yawned once more, this time until his jaw popped and he shuffled toward the cells. “What’s his name?”

“Hannibal Heyes.” Kid said blandly feeling Heyes stiffen.

“Not sure I heard of him.”

“Well, I’ll pull his poster for you.”

Deputy Riggs yawned again shifting through the keys for the door of the first cell.  

“For your sake. Let’s put’em in that cell in the corner.” Kid said feeling Heyes lean heavily against him and seeing his cousin’s white-rimmed dark eyes peering at him from his pale, pale face, he thought, ‘Hellfire, is that mixture Jenny gave him going to make him pass out?’

“Hey you, I said, why is this for my sake?” The Deputy asked standing halfway down the row to the corner cell.

Jerking his attention back to the lawman while adjusting his grip on Heyes to allow him to hold his partner up, Kid Curry cheerfully said, “Names Timbers, Michael Timbers and you want him as far away as possible. Cause when he sobers up. He’s not only going to be angry but he’ll set talking y’alls legs off about how he ain’t who I say and how he y’all should let him go.”

Deputy Riggs nodded moving to swing open the wide-barred door of the corner cell. Seeing this brought some alertness back to Heyes but not quickly enough to keep the Kid from depositing him inside and slamming the door after him. At the sound of the metal banging behind him, Hannibal Heyes spun, his eyes closing up in a grimace.

“Yup he’s wanted.”  Deputy Riggs stated, “The wanted ones, all cringe when they hear that door shut.”

Kid frowned, “Uhm Deputy could I have moment and I’ll be right up to find his poster and fill out any papers you need.”  

“Think a real outlaw in our jail.” He nodded to Curry and dragging the key ring along the bars, he walked back to the office. The clanging noise of the ring, sent shivers down Heyes’ spine until the knuckles of his curled hands turned white.    

Stepping up to the door, the Kid said, “Sit down before you fall down Heyes.” Lowering his voice he whispered, “You won’t be here long enough to be transferred to Cheyenne.”

“That is a fact. Because as soon as this drug you dosed me with wears off, I am letting myself out. And, first off I aim on flattening you.”

“Heyes now you behave yourself.” Kid said glancing down the dark row to see if the deputy were listening. “Ain’t nobody going to be able to get at you in here. Gives me time to figure out who’s been taking all these pop shots at you.” He reached through the bars laying a hand on Heyes’ shoulder. “Come on partner, it’s only a matter time for they get lucky and actually hit you. So you stay here and let me take care of’em.”

Pursing his lips, Heyes nodded, “Alright.” He glanced around at the cage surrounding him, “But, don’t be too long. You hear?”

“I won’t.” The Kid passed him a sheepish smile. “And you don’t give these men too hard of a time.”

“I suspect, once I lay down I’m going to pass out for a good while and wake up with a doozy of a headache so I won’t be riding them till it wears off.”

The Kid nodded, “Then I’ll see you soon.” Once up at the office, he went straight to the wall plastered with wanted notices. One particular nail held a large clump of posters with Jim Santana’s right on the front.  Swallowing hard, he pulled the pages down knowing Heyes’ name would be there but not sure if, he himself had made it to the circulars yet. Turning back to the desk, he tried to sound casual saying, “Well let’s see how much he’s worth this month.”

The deputy glanced at the dark cells, “He’s one of the Devil’s Hole?”

“Yup.” Kid replied laying the posters onto the scarred desktop one at a time noting men who weren’t currently riding under Big Jim but Wheat, Kyle, Merkle, Red, Hardcase, Preacher, Hank, Lobo most definitely were and not seeing his own name, he at last  handed Heyes’ flyer to the deputy.

Taking it, Deputy Riggs headed back to the corner cell reading it aloud, “Reward $900 offered by Mid-West Railroad, height 5 feet 11 inches, weight 160 lbs, dark brown hair, brown eyes and even features of medium build.” He looked at the man flopped down on the bunk. “It matches. So is you really Hannibal Heyes?”  

With a sigh, Heyes rolled over facing the brick wall, “Sounds to me like the description of at least half a dozen men I have seen today – you included Deputy.”  

Deputy Riggs frowned deeply and turning he began to open his mouth to Kid Curry.

However, before he could the Kid said, “He’s right, I can see that but don’t you think you should hold onto him until he’s been checked out.  Besides I was on a train he robbed, I know it’s him.”


To read rest of this monthly challenge and find out what happens to Heyes: http://asjfanfiction.wetpaint.com/page/Safest+Place

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Wichita Red, "I'm not really a rebel, but I take chances. I have a good time, and I live life the way I want to live it."  


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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:45 am

I haven't read any of this month's stories yet so maybe someone has already riffed on this idea:


Lying in Wait


“When I was nine, I caught a catfish that was two feet long!”

“You did not!”

“Did so.  Well, maybe I was ten.”

“Nope; I woulda been there.  Never happened.  I do remember you catchin’ lotsa minnows, ‘bout six inches they all were.  You threw ‘em back.”

“Least I caught some!  I don’t remember you ever havin’ much success fishin’.”

“That’s ‘cos I liked huntin’ more.  Remember that time I shot a moose?”

“I remember you shot a mule deer when you were eight…”

“Well, it sure seemed big as a moose at the time!”

“That’s ‘cos you were a scrawny little thing!”

“Hey!”

“But you’ve made up for it since.”

“Hey!”

“’Course, I cottoned on to the ladies before you, bein’ older 'n all.”

“I don’t think so.”

“”Course I’m older!”

“Ain’t what I mean.”

“Huh?”

“I enjoyed the pleasure of their company before you even thought about it.”

“Not likely!”

“Remember Priscilla?”

“The girl who always…?”

“Yeah.”

“No!”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I’ll be!  No.  I don’t believe it.”

“Why not?  You think I didn’t know what people did when they left them barn dances Saturday nights?  I was thirteen, you know.”

“Yeah, but…well, you never told me.”

“Well, I didn’t always tell you everything.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t look at me like that.  I know you got secrets, too.”

“No, I don’t.  Not from you anyway.”

“Now who’s lyin'?”

“I guess both of us.  And if we don’t pay attention, we’re gonna miss how long it takes that train to cross the trestle.  And then we’ll have to lie to the boys about why we can’t do this job. C'mon; follow me!”

“Always have and always will.”

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:34 pm

Two different prompts inspired this story.  This month's prompt selected by Maz and one of the ones suggested by the Kid in Calico's story last month.  Of course, while we sure want to make the Kid happy, he has to learn to be careful what he wishes for.

Kid Meets a Real Friendly Redhead

“Heyes.”

“Mmph.”

“Heyes!”

“Mm hmm.  Snore”

“HEYES!!”  Curry accompanied this by yanking the covers off his sleeping partner, after taking the precaution of removing Heyes’ gun from its holster.

“WHAT!!”  Heyes sat bolt upright, eyes wide open, reaching for his weapon, only to be confronted with a laughing Kid.

“Jeez, Kid.”  He glared at his partner who was looking at him smugly.  “I could have shot you.  You shouldn’t sneak up on a fella like that.”  

“I could have brought a herd of elephants through here and you wouldn’t have heard it, the way you were snorin’.  Now get up, you’re late.  Mizz Imelda will be up in an hour.”  The Kid handed Heyes back his gun then walked over, sat on the other bed, pulled his boots off, and laid down with a sigh.  Within seconds he was snoring softly.

Heyes stood looking down at him, smiling ruefully.  It had seemed like an easy job two weeks ago, and who were they to object to an easy job? The pay was good too.  Mrs. Horace Vander Meer, Mizz Imelda that was, was afraid, although no one knew why, and she wasn’t saying.  With Mr. Vander Meer out of town for two weeks she had hired the two of them to guard her – day and night.  This meant accompanying her when she left her home and patrolling her house and its grounds when she was at home.  One of them was there at all times except when it was time to change shifts.  Then William, her ancient servant, would take over, his palsied hands shaking as he clenched a heavy cane (they didn’t dare trust him with a gun, who knew what he’d hit if he fired it).  Easy.  But how could they have realized how tiring twelve hours a day of watching Mizz Imelda could be.  Especially for the Kid who, had lost the coin toss, as usual, and was covering the night shift.  Heyes could see the shadows under his eyes and knew the Kid’s temper was getting worse the more tired he grew.  Oh well, two more days and Mr. Vander Meer would return.

Heyes shrugged, put on his hat, and quietly exited the room.

~~~000~~~

The sunlight, softened by the curtains, shone on the figure asleep in the bed.  Shadows from the leaves filtering the sun outside the window danced silently around the room.  The man in the bed was oblivious, snoring softly…

“Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat!”

A snort, cut off midway, sounded.  The Kid sat up and listened.  

Nothing.

He sank back down into the bed and quickly fell back to sleep.

“Rat-a-tat!  Rat-a-tat-tat!”

This time the Kid grabbed his gun as he sat up.  “What in tarnation?”  He got up and walked to the door, quietly opened it, and peered into the hallway.  Seeing no one he closed the door again.

“Rat-a-tat…”

Frowning, he strode to the window and pulled back the curtains.  He was on the second floor, and there was no balcony, so no one could be knocking.  He looked around.  His glance fell on the trunk of a tree a short distance away.  As he watched, a small red headed bird hopped up the trunk.  Suddenly, it darted up and down, and the noise resumed.

The Kid groaned and flung open the window.  “Shoo. Go away.  Go find some other tree.”

Startled, the woodpecker flew out of sight.

With a sigh the Kid walked back to bed.  This time he stopped to undress before climbing under the covers and resuming his sleep.

~~~000~~~~

He was dreaming.  A gorgeous redhead, with flowing locks and dancing green eyes, was feeding him from a plate mounded with flapjacks dripping in golden syrup, fragrant heaps of eggs and sausages, and the lightest, butteriest biscuits he’d ever tasted.

“Rat-a-tat!  Rat-a-tat-tat!”

The gorgeous redhead vanished.  The Kid sat up and groaned.  Dang bird.  Sounded like it was in the room with him.  He got up and went to the window, flinging open the curtains.  He found himself face-to-face with the woodpecker.

“Go on; get out of here before I shoot you!”

The bird gave a couple of quick taps on the window frame and flew away.

The Kid lay back down, but found himself staring at the ceiling.  After several minutes, he got up muttering, got dressed, and headed out to find something to eat.

~~~000~~~

Heyes came off his shift and went looking for the Kid.  He finally found him sitting in a corner of the bar, drinking coffee and watching the action.

“Thaddeus!  Where have you been?  You need to get going.  Sheesh, I thought you would’ve been sleeping.”

The Kid rose, glared at Heyes, threw some coins on the table, and headed out the door, without uttering a word.  Heyes stared after him, then shook his head, sat down, and signaled for a beer.

~~~000~~~

Blankets were yanked off.  “HEYES. UP. NOW!”

Heyes sat up, stretching and yawning.  He looked at his decidedly grumpy partner.  “Something happen during the night?”

“No.”

“You’re looking kinda out of sorts”

“Just leave it, Heyes.  Go get to work.”  He flung himself on his bed and fell asleep, one foot still resting on the floor.

Heyes’ eyes narrowed, and he glared at the Kid’s back.  Then he shrugged, quietly got dressed, and left.  One more day, he thought, just one more day.

~~~000~~~

There was a soft fluttering sound then a single, small eye peered through the space at the bottom of the curtain, unnoticed by the man sound asleep in the bed.

“RAT-A-TAT!  RAT-A-TAT-TAT!”

“Oh, for crying out loud!”  The Kid flung the bed covers back and rolled out of bed.  He stormed over to the window, thrust aside the curtains, and flung up the sash.  As he stuck his head out the window, he found himself eye-to-eye with the woodpecker.  It bobbed its head and flew away, its red head flashing brightly through the leaves as it flew.

After glaring impotently after the bird, the Kid closed the window and fell back into bed.  It was some time before he was able to get back to sleep.

“Rat-a-tat!”

The Kid groaned and pulled the pillow over his head.

“Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat!”

The Kid huffed and sat up, alternately glaring at the window and staring at the wall.  Finally, a crafty expression on his face he got up, got dressed, and left the room.

~~~000~~~

Heyes knocked softly and entered the room to find himself staring down the barrel of the Kid’s gun.  He raised his hands.  “You got me, partner.”  He laughed and flipped his hat onto his bed.

“Sorry, Heyes.  Guess I’m a little jumpy.”

“I guess.  Well, it’s the last night.  Mr. Vander Meer is due back tomorrow.”

“Good, then we’re leavin’ first thing the next mornin’”

“Why don’t we stay and get into a poker game or two?  Seems like a nice peaceful town.”

“First thing, Heyes.”  The Kid picked up his hat and stalked out the room.

“Sheesh.”  Heyes stared after his partner then turned and surveyed the room.  He noticed a plate with half a sandwich on it, and an empty coffee cup.  Walking over, he picked up the sandwich and absent-mindedly took a bite.  He sat in the recently vacated chair then jumped up, looked down, and picked up a slingshot.  He held the slingshot and, with a puzzled expression, looked at the door through which the Kid had exited.

~~~000~~~

Thump!

Heyes landed unceremoniously on the floor.  Startled, he looked at the Kid, who stood there glaring at him.  His own brows gathered together, a thunderous expression on his face.  “Did you just kick me out of the bed?”

“Time to go.  Make sure you get the money, Heyes.”

Heyes stared, opened his mouth, closed it, and pulled himself up off the floor.  As he got ready to leave he muttered to himself.  Finally, clapping his hat on his head, he turned to the Kid, who was already in bed.  “You must be getting old, Kid.  You were never this grumpy when you missed a night’s sleep before.”  He walked out the door and banged it shut behind him.

~~~000~~~

The same gorgeous, green-eyed redhead, wearing a sinfully low-cut black and white dress, blew him a kiss as she slipped out the door.  The Kid moaned, already regretting her departure.

“Rat-a-tat.”  The redhead pounded on the door.

“Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat!  RAT-A-TAT!”

The Kid reluctantly opened his eyes.  Sighing he got up, walked over to the window, and shooed the woodpecker away.  He watched it fly off then stumbled back to bed.  Lying there, he stared at the ceiling and waited.  Sure enough…

“Rat-a-tat.  Rat-a-tat-tat.”

The Kid lay in bed, listening to the noise and waiting for the day to pass.

~~~000~~~

“So, I say we go to the Last Chance Saloon down the street there and see what’s happening, have a few drinks…”  Heyes stopped to take another bite of steak.  This was the first meal the two had had together in two weeks.

“We’re leavin’ first light.”

“Now, Thaddeus, no reason to leave so soon.”

“One drink, then I’m goin’ to bed.  We leave first light,” the Kid said, implacably.

“What is with you?  Oh, alright!”

~~~000~~~

The two rode down the trail in the bright sunlight.

“So you think you can stop being so grumpy now?  I really don’t understand what the problem is.  Nice town, too…”  Heyes stopped talking as he noticed the Kid was not paying attention.

All morning the Kid had been jumpy and glancing behind them.

“What is it?  Is there a posse or something?”

“No.”

“Why do you keep looking back, Kid?  What aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s nothin’, Heyes, just keep goin’.  Did you see that?”

Heyes looked around.  “What?  Did I see what?”

“There.”  The Kid pointed.  “There in the trees, did you see it?”

“See what, Kid?  What is wrong?”

“Nothin’.  Just thought I saw a flash of red.  It’s nothin’.  Just keep ridin.”

Heyes continued to ride and maintain a one-sided conversation.

“Pull up, Heyes.  Let’s make camp in that clearin’ over there.”  

“It’s the middle of the afternoon.  Why would we stop now?  We could get five, six more miles in before we needed to start looking for a place to camp.”

The Kid grunted.  “Heyes, just humor me, would you?  Let’s make camp here.”

Rolling his eyes, Heyes nudged his horse towards the clearing.

~~~000~~~

As they made camp, the Kid kept darting glances into the trees surrounding the clearing.

“Okay, now what do we do?” asked Heyes as he watched the Kid glance back over his shoulder yet another time.

“Take a nap.”

“Take a nap!  I’m not tired.”

“Well I am.”

“Then you take a nap!  I’m gonna sit here and read.  Sure hope this nap puts you in a better mood.  Sheesh, nap.  You’d think you were a little baby, the way you’re acting.”

“Heyes, lie down and take a nap or I swear I will knock you unconscious.”

Heyes stared at the Kid, who was glaring at him, fists clenched.  After several moments of silence, Heyes rolled his eyes and lay down.  “Fine.  I’ll take a nap, but after that I’m gonna flatten you.”

All was quiet in the clearing.  The sound of gentle snores arose from Heyes’ recumbent form.  The Kid lay unmoving, his hand clenched around his gun, waiting.

“Rat-a-tat!  Rat-a-tat-tat!”

“Ha! Got you!”  

Blam! Blam! Blam!

Heyes sprung up, gun in hand, staring wildly about him.  He saw the Kid shooting rapidly.

“Get out of here!” Curry roared.  “Or I swear the next meal I have will be fricasseed woodpecker!”  The Kid stared into the trees for several moments, reloaded, and stared some more.  Finally, he walked over to his bedroll, lay down, and within seconds was sound asleep.

Heyes stood staring back and forth between the sleeping outlaw and the trees.  Seeing nothing out there, he looked back at the Kid.  “You know, sometimes you’re a little weird.”

Sighing, he draped one of his blankets over the Kid, sat down, and pulled out a book.  Far in the distance he heard the faint rapping of a woodpecker, blending peacefully with the quiet snores of his sleeping partner.

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:02 am

Lying in Wait

“Hey, Kid!” were his last words.
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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:50 pm

Lying in Wait(e)

“Waite – 3 Miles.  Guess we can look forward to a soft bed tonight after all.”

“Me more than you, Heyes.”

“I’ll flip you on that.  Loser buys me a nice steak dinner tonight with all the trimmings.”

Kid Curry smirked.  “No thanks.  You’ll rig it with me as the loser, as usual.”

Hannibal Heyes frowned.  “Ouch!”

The blond man laughed, blue eyes dancing.  “Serves ya right!  Besides, what with me huntin’ to feed us on the trail, I figure you owe me a meal.  Especially since it’s been, what – two weeks without a break?  Yup, you owe me, Heyes.”

The darker partner thought a minute.  “You know, I sweat over the hot fire cooking the beans and biscuits while you’re hunting.  Man doesn’t live on meat alone.”  He nodded once decisively.  

Kid ignored him.  “Sorry, that’s man doesn’t live on bread alone.  So, I’m providin’ the best part of the meal.  You’re not gonna argue with the Good Book now, are ya?”

“No, I guess not.  But you never complained about beans and biscuits when we’re trying to stay one step ahead of a posse and can’t fire a shot.”

Kid smiled.  “Maybe not, Heyes, but jerky’s on the menu then; can’t make a fire either, most of the time.”

The dark-haired man stared at his partner.  “You’re too quick today, Kid.  Guess you woke up on the right side this morning.”

“Right side of the bedroll, anyway.  Or, maybe the silver tongue just took the day off.  In any case, like I said, I’m lookin’ forward to that soft bed – and the good dinner you’re gonna buy me.”

Heyes pulled a coin from his vest pocket.  “Okay, heads or tails.”

Kid glanced sideways at his companion.  “Told ya, I’m not playin’ along this time.  Ya owe me.”

“Okay, but I say, heads.”  The ex-outlaw leader flipped the coin and caught it on one wrist, trapping it with the other hand.  “You sure you don’t want to take a guess?”

“Yup, real sure.”

Heyes smirked.  “Spoilsport.”  He raised the hand hiding the coin.  “Tails.  You would have won!”

“Uh huh.  I win when it suits ya.”  Kid kicked his sorrel into a lope.

The dark-haired man shouted after him.  “Okay.  I’ll buy!”

***    

Waite, Texas seemed almost the same as many a small town through which they had passed, except it did not need a coat of paint.  Rather, smart red adobe and sandstone buildings greeted them as they rode in.  Colorfully painted wooden gingerbread and pineapple trim adorning the edifices further gushed hospitality.  The partners took it in and shared an approving glance.

Having stabled their horses and checked in to the local hostelry, the pair relaxed side by side in enameled tubs at the bath house.  Heyes held a newspaper high over the water while Kid reclined, eyes closed, against the high back.

The rustle of a turning page and rearrangement of the town rag left furrows beneath wet, dark blond curls.  “Joshua, can’t you do that quiet-like?”

“Hmm?”

“Can’t you read without makin’ any noise?  You’re ruinin’ my beauty sleep.”

Absentmindedly, “Beauty...?”  

“Uh huh.”

Heyes continued to scan the page, semi-consciously lowering the paper over his exposed chest while still keeping it above the water line.  “Where is she?”

Blue eyes opened.  “She?”

Another page turned, louder this time.  “Um hmm.”

Kid crinkled his nose.  “Who’s she?  Or, what she?”

“Her.”

“Who?”  

Heyes now purposefully held the paper to his chest, looking around.  “The one you were talking about.”

“Who was I talkin’ about?”

A hard stare at the blond man.  “The pretty one.  I don’t see anybody but you and me here.”

Blue eyes rolled.  “Joshua, you need to get your nose out of the paper and get more sleep.  You’re just downright confusin’ today!”

***

After a hearty meal of steak, potatoes, carrots, and apple pie, with seconds and thirds on the coffee, the two ex-outlaws sat back.

“You know, Thaddeus, I can get used to this.  Nice town, friendly people, good food…”

“Not to mention the soft beds waitin’ for us back at the hotel.”

“Yup, that too.  Like I said, I can get used to this.”

A grey-pant-clad bottom moved on the wooden seat.  “Me, too, but only if the chairs were more comfortable.  Kinda takes the polish off everything else.”

Heyes smiled.  “I think it’s time to trade the café for a belly-up to the bar.”

“Or, one uncomfortable chair for another?  A soft bed still sounds better.”

“Maybe, but there’s no beer or poker at the hotel.”

Kid Curry started to stand.  “No, but my saddle sores are gonna appreciate that soft bed a lot more.  And you can’t tell me you weren’t lookin’ forward to it yourself.”

Heyes rose, properly pushing his chair under the table.  “That’s right.  If I denied the soft bed, I’d be a liar, and no need for that here.  But there’s no hurry for it, either.”

“Says who?”

“Me.”  Brown eyes made merry as blue eyes rolled.  “Besides, one of us has to make money to enjoy the hospitality these good people have to offer.  Lead me to the poker tables, Thaddeus.”

***    

Kid Curry stood at the bar, one eye on his partner, the other fixated almost languidly on the comeliness of a pretty redhead.  Indeed, the quietude of the saloon on a slow week night left a man of action bored with watching his partner’s back when the one poker game barely yielded a whoop or holler of a winning pot.  Slow to ante and early to quit, the turnaround of gamblers soon left Hannibal Heyes the one seated longest and with the largest pile of cash – “large” being a relative term in a town of thrifty farmers and shopkeepers for whom two bits was the final call.

When the table took a break, Heyes joined his partner, ordering a round for both as he placed a dime on the bar.  “I’m not gonna make a killing here, but slow and steady the pots’ll come in, and add up.  They’re not bad players, just…well, not the greatest and…”

Kid yawned.  “So you won’t get rich, just…”

“Just slow and steady, like the turtle who won the race.”

“Uh huh.  Slow and steady, and boring as all get out.”

Heyes watched his partner’s eyes train momentarily on the redhead.  He smiled.  “There seem to be certain delights awaiting you if you’ll take advantage.”

Another yawn, and a stretch.  “Maybe tomorrow.  I’m gonna call it a night.  Nothin’s gonna happen here, and I think they’ll be rollin’ up the street soon.”

“Maybe, but there’s room at the table if you want to join the game.  That might be less boring and you can take a load off.”

“No thanks, Joshua.  You might be lyin’ in wait to spring on bad card players but I’m gonna be lyin’ in Waite in that nice, soft bed callin’ my name.”
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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:04 am

Hannibal Heyes was tired. Bone-crushingly, mind-numbingly, tired. The only creature in the whole wide world more tired than him, he figured, might be his horse. At least he, Heyes, got to ride, but the poor animal had to carry a man on his back. Any other time, Heyes would probably just pack it in somewhere at the side of the road, and get some well-needed rest for both man and beast. This time, he was only a few miles away from the mining camp where he was supposed to meet Kid Curry. He figured both him and the horse could hold out a little while longer, especially since there’d be all the comforts of civilization there.

Well, he reminded himself, some of the comforts. Wait For It, Nevada, and the town that was growing up around it, could never be confused with San Francisco. But even Wait For It had hotels, restaurants, stables, and saloons. Heyes tried to explain all this to the horse, but the horse seemed unimpressed.

It wasn’t long before the lights on the town were visible in the growing dusk. Heyes reached over to pat the horse’s sweaty neck.

“Look up there, boy. That’s where we’re going. Just stay with me a little while longer, and I’ll get you a warm stable and lots of oats. And maybe, if you’re lucky, there’ll be a little filly there, too.”

The horse swung his head around to look at Heyes.

“No, really,” Heyes said. “Just you wait and see.”

The horse snorted. He’d heard it all before.

Heyes smiled and stroked the broad neck again. So much for the old silver tongue! As they got closer to the town, both Heyes and his mount perked up a bit.

Wait For It was bigger and busier than Heyes had expected. The wooden sidewalks were crowded. Even the dusty street had so much traffic that Heyes had to guide his horse cautiously.

Heyes saw a large hotel alongside the town square. Well, that was as good a place as any to look for Kid. Besides, his behind felt like it was permanently molded to his saddle. It would feel good to walk a bit. Dismounting, he stretched his stiff back and looked at the sign swinging over the hotel entrance. “Welcome to The Patience Hotel.” Somebody had a sense of humor.

A stout fifty-ish woman stood behind the ornate reception desk. Heyes was all too aware of his appearance and hoped she wouldn’t hold it against him. She glanced up and frowned. Heyes put on his biggest brightest smile and hoped she liked dimples.

“Stop right there, cowboy. Unless you’re with the Gathering and have a reservation, you might as well head right out that door.”

“No reservation, ma’am” – she sighed, and slammed the registration book closed – “and, I don’t know about any gathering, but my partner may already be registered here. He’s expecting me.”

She pushed glasses further up her nose. “Name?”

“His name is Thaddeus Jones, ma’am.”

Suddenly she smiled. “Oh, you’re with Thaddeus! He’s expecting you.” The frown reappeared. “You’re very late. He’s been worried about you.”

Relieved, Heyes rested both hands on the reception desk. “Yes ma’am. Sorry ma’am. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”

“Yes, well. Be that as it may.” She opened the book again. “Sign in here.” Doubt flickered across her face. “You can write, can’t you?”

“Yes ma’am, I sure can. Not so’s you can read it, but I can write.”

“Never mind. I’ll do it for you.” She was writing before he could do anything. When she finished, she turned the book around so he could see. “There. Is that readable?”

In big bold letters that would make John Hancock proud, she had written “HANNIBAL HEYES.” Heyes felt his face get red. The shock left him speechless for almost five seconds.

“No, it’s not right! My name is Joshua Smith!”

Incredibly, she was laughing. “Oh lighten up, Mr. Smith! It’s all in the spirit of the Gathering. There are already two other Hannibal Heyes’ in town. Seemed fitting, since Thaddeus is Kid Curry. Why don’t you just pick up your jaw and sign your name.”

Heyes took some deep breaths and forced a smile. “Whatever you say, ma’am.” He looked around the room quickly. Nobody was paying any attention to their conversation, and there was no sign of the sheriff. As she handed Heyes the key, he thought of something else she’d said.

“Ma’am, you’ve mentioned the gathering twice now. What exactly are you talking about?” He prayed, silently, that it wasn’t a convention of retired federal marshals.

“First things first, Mr. Smith. I’m Mrs. Albertson, and I manage The Patience Hotel. I’ll have a bath sent up for you right away. If you don’t mind my saying so, you need it. And you probably have a horse needs tending?” Heyes nodded. “Thought so. Probably run him down trying to get here, I’ll bet.” Heyes opened his mouth to speak, but she was too quick for him. “All you youngsters are alike, in a big hurry to get somewhere. Well, no matter. I think Thaddeus is upstairs right now. He’s having a wonderful time at the gathering.

“Anyway. The Gathering. It’s the cowboy poets come here, first time in our town. This place is a natural fit for them, if you ask me. Because of the name, and what they do. They’re storytellers, don’t you know. And now we’re getting all the tourists. That’s why we’re full up, Lucky for you Thaddeus got here early.”

“Lucky for me, indeed, Mrs. Albertson. Just one more question. . . why is this place a perfect fit for cowboy poets?”

“Why, the name of our town, Mr. Smith. Wait For It? The poets say lying is their trade. That’s why they’re calling this gathering ‘Lying in Wait.’”

Heyes dragged himself up the stairs. His natural caution was urging him to run from Wait For It as fast as he could. His aching body, and his curiosity, were stronger. He paused outside his room. He could hear snoring through the door. Kid clearly wasn’t losing any sleep. Heyes rapped on the door three times, loudly. He heard a cough and then bedsprings creaking.

“Who is it?” Kid called.

“It’s me, Thaddeus.” He unlocked the door and swung it open. Kid was sitting on the side of his bed, rubbing sleep from his face. Heyes stepped in, pushing the door shut and dropping his saddlebags on the floor.

“About time you got here, Heyes. I was just about to go looking for you.”

Heyes looked at the rumbled bed coverings and his half-dressed partner. “Yeah, you look like you’re about to ride out of here.” He crossed over to the second bed and sat down.

Curry focused on his partner. Underneath a three-day growth of beard, Heyes looked thin and pale.

“You don’t look so good, Heyes. You alright?”

“Uh huh. Well, I was till I got here and Mrs. Albertson signed me into the register as Hannibal Heyes. And then told me that was okay, since you were Kid Curry. That just about stopped my heart right there.”

“Don’t worry about it, Heyes. They got this big gathering of cowboy poets going on in this town.”

“She told me about that. I never heard of cowboy poets before. Unless we’re talking about that easterner who used to recite Shakespeare to cattle on those drives from Texas.”

“Sheesh, I forgot about him. He sure was a strange one.”

Heyes was pulling his boots off.

“So tell me why we shouldn’t be leaving town right now.”

“You’re not the only Hannibal Heyes in town.”

“So I heard.”

“Yeah. I’ve met two already. Understand there’s a couple more. They all fit the description on your wanted poster, by the way.”

“Must be some good-looking men.” Heyes lay down cautiously, halfway expecting a loose spring to poke him, but the mattress was thick and soft. Real fine. He yawned.

“Don’t go to sleep just yet. I ain’t letting you stay here until you take a bath. You stink, partner.”

“Mrs. Albertson agrees with you. She’s sending one up.”

“Good. Just try to stay awake. I don’t want to find you drowned in the bathtub.

“If I drown, Kid, you can replace me with one of the other Heyes’ in town.” Heyes sighed and closed his eyes. Kid watched Heyes’ breathing get deeper and slower.

“I’ll wake you up when the bath gets here.” Heyes answered with a soft snore.

Heyes got a solid hour of sleep before the bath arrived. Kid decided to check on Heyes’ horse and give his partner some privacy to get cleaned and shaved. When Kid got back, Heyes was buttoning his shirt.

“You’re looking better, partner,” Curry said.

“Feeling better, too. Now all I need is a drink, followed by a good meal, followed by a few more drinks.”

Curry sprawled out in the armchair. “Well, this is the place to do it. Town’s full of visitors, and half of them are claiming to be some famous outlaw.”

Heyes frowned. “Any famous sheriffs?”

“Sure,” Curry said. “I’ve met several of the Earps. More Wyatts than Morgans or Virgils. They’re talking about doing the O.K. Corral shoot-out for the tourists, but they can’t figure out the best Doc Holliday.”

“Tell me you’re making this stuff up, Kid.”

Curry shook his head. “No, Heyes, it’s for real. Fact is, they’re probably going to have the O.K. Corral shoot-out a few times, because so many people want to get shot by Wyatt Earp.”

Heyes’ jaw was hanging down.

“You better shut that thing before you swallow some flies, Heyes.”

Heyes complied.

“Kid, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. What about the sheriff in this town? Ain’t he watching everyone close, in case a real crook shows up?”

Kid grinned. “Heyes, this place is just an overgrown mining camp, remember? It ain’t Tombstone. There is no sheriff here.”

A slow smile spread over Heyes’ face. The dimples appeared and got deeper. The partners looked at each other, and both men started to laugh.

“Kid,” Heyes said, “How long is this thing going to go on?”

“Through the weekend, Heyes. That gives us a couple more days to relax here, maybe play some poker. I got to introduce you to Bill Hickok. The man plays poker like he’s got too much money, and he’ll do anything to get rid of it.”

“Bill Hickok, huh? So long as nobody draws a hand of aces and eights, I suppose that’s alright.”

“That’s for sure!” Heyes reached for his gun belt and buckled it on.

“And you’re already known to be Kid Curry. You think that’s wise?”

Curry shrugged. “Wasn’t my idea. One of the Heyes’ asked me to be his Curry. Since you weren’t around, I figured you wouldn’t mind. Anyway, that guy’s already found another Curry or two. Town’s lousy with people pretending to be us. We’ll blend in just fine.”

Heyes took his hat off the rack and swatted it against the wall a couple times, trying not to cough in the dust cloud that was released. He saw Curry’s expression.

“Not a word, Kid. There's nothing wrong with my hat.”

“Did you hear me say anything?”

Heyes was almost out the door when Curry stopped him.

“Heyes, ah. . . .there’s one more thing I should tell you.”

“Oh no. I know that look. What is it?”

“Now don’t be like that, Heyes. It’s just that . . . you can’t let anybody say you’re Hannibal Heyes.”

Heyes was surprised. “Not that I was planning to, but why not?”

“Because I already told some folks you’d be playing another role.”

“Another role?” Kid nodded. “Alright. Who am I supposed to be?”

“Wheat.”

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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:44 pm

Lying in Wait


Up in a Tree

Billy Owens gazed through the binoculars that the leaders gave him, watching for the first signs that the train was coming.  He got the job of look-out because of his age, agility and the fact that he whistled the loudest of them all.  Maybe it wasn’t so smart to impress the leaders with his shrill warble.  The other gang members were lying about waiting and not stuck in a tree.

Billy sighed as he glanced at the sun.  He missed his favorite gal, Annie.  She was probably hoeing the garden or feeding the chickens.  Her pa ran him out of town when they were caught in a compromising position.  Heck, he was only kissing her.  Her pa made it out that they were… Billy blushed at the thought.  He was gonna just partake in this one train robbery, get his share of the loot, and show Annie’s pa that he wasn’t just a no-body.  He was a somebody and worthy of his daughter’s affection.  He was hoping to get enough money to buy some land and a few animals.

He glanced down at the saddled horses tethered to the tree beneath him.  Not only did he have look-out duty, but he had to keep an eye on the horses.  Once he signaled the train was coming, he had to make sure the horses were ready and available for a fast get-away.

Maybe these jobs weren’t so bad.  He didn’t have to deal with any of the passengers or railroad men.  No one would see him so they wouldn’t be looking for him afterwards.

Was that black smoke coming this way?  Billy stared through the binoculars.


In the Tree Line

Lobo sat on the ground, propped against a tree.  He pulled out his gun for the third time and checked to make sure it was full of bullets and ready.

Hank stood as he leaned on another tree.  He pulled out a small bag and pinched some tobacco, placing it in his cheek.  He sucked for a few minutes and then spat out some chaw.


Behind Some Bushes

Kyle lovingly fondled the sticks of dynamite as he sat on the ground and waited.

“Kyle, will you put down that dynamite?!  You’re makin’ me nervous!” Wheat hissed as he fidgeted.

Reluctantly, the dynamite was placed back in the sack.  “It weren’t gonna go off, Wheat, without a fuse.”

“Don’t you think I know that?  I… I just don’t like bein’ around the stuff.”  Wheat shredded a few leaves off the bush.

“Shore hope Heyes can’t open this here safe and I get to blow it.”

Wheat rolled his eyes.  “You say that for every robbery.”

“Well, that’s because I love blowin’ up things!  Watchin’ the fuse hiss as it’s lit and then the big KA-BOOM!”

“Kyle, keep it down!”  Wheat looked around to see if Heyes or Curry heard.


Behind Some Rocks Near the Tracks

“Kyle’s hopin’ he can blow up the safe, again,” Curry commented from underneath his hat as he leaned against the rock.  He tipped his hat up with a finger.  “Heyes, will you sit down?  You’re makin’ me nervous with your pacin’.”

Heyes flicked the pocket watch open.  “It’s late.  Think we missed an asterisk?  Dang asterisks!"  The watch was closed and put away as the pacing continued.

“We didn’t miss an asterisk; the train is just late.  It happens.  Now would you sit down or am I gonna have to flatten you?”

Heyes sat on a boulder and looked around, taking in the location of his gang members.  “Billy better be using those binoculars and keeping watch.”

“He will be.  He’s anxious to please bein’ he’s so new.”  The Kid stood up and checked his gun.

“Now when you stop the train…”

“Heyes, I know what I’m doin’.  You don’t have to tell me.”

“I hate waiting!  I wish…”

WHISTLE

“It’s coming!  Get ready!”

_________________
h
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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InsideOutlaw

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Location : Colorado

PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:01 pm

The iron bars sizzled under his grip.  It was already hot and stuffy in the cramped cell and it was only going to get worse as the day went on.  Strangely, Hannibal Heyes found himself hoping he’d have the chance to suffer the heat; the sounds of banging signaled that the construction of the gallows was proceeding smoothly.

He let go of the bars and resumed his manic pacing about the tiny room.  A slop bucket was the recipient of a rough kick that sent it flying into the cot, raising a clatter that no one else heard.  His mind was keeping pace with his feet as he thought back over the previous night.  Even now, he was shocked at the turn of events that had begun when he slipped into an empty chair at a low-stakes poker table.  

He’d gotten bored waiting at the hotel for the Kid to arrive.  They were supposed to meet up in this little podunk town after having taken separate jobs in opposite corners of the state; only his partner was late and he had started to worry.  That was when he’d decided he needed a distraction so he had gone to the saloon and stood at the bar watching the poker action at a small table of four players.  It had looked like a real friendly, casual game.  Not much money changing hands; just four locals who looked bored at playing the same friends, hand after hand.  He’d decided they needed some fresh blood to liven things up.  That had been his first mistake.

The second, and maybe fatal one, had followed swiftly.  The man to his left had pulled out a chair in a welcoming manner and invited him to set down.  The neatly dressed man across the table had offered his name and then the introductions had continued around the table.  The name Heyes had given had floated off his tongue smoothly having altogether bypassed his brain.  Sam Flagg.  As aliases went, it was not as colorful as some of the ones he came up with, but he’d been satisfied with it.  He provided old Sam with a decent backstory, too, and smiles and nods had greeted him all around the table.  

Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to see the barkeep standing behind him.  The sheriff had told Heyes while putting the cuffs on, that the man had recognized the name right off and had sent one of his girls to the jail to fetch him.  He had also told Heyes how stupid he was for using his real name when he was a wanted man.

That’s when it all fell into place.  The name had floated out of his sub-consciousness and onto his tongue so easily because he’d read it in a newspaper article a few months back.  Sam Flagg had robbed a bank here a year or so ago and killed a teller in the process.   How the heck had he forgotten that?  He’d started talking fast, telling the sheriff his ‘real’ name, Joshua Smith; how he was on the way to the wedding of his best friend; all about the daughter of the mayor; how all of this was a terrible mistake.  The lawman had told him to shut his trap and shoved him into this cell.  When he’d asked for a lawyer, the chubby man had laughed nastily and told him there wouldn’t be a trial; the whole town knew it was Flagg that killed that man and Heyes had just admitted who he was.  The barred door had slammed shut in his face.

Furiously going over and over the details of the night before, he fell onto the sprung cot and put his arms behind his head.  Some genius he was.  Now he was lying here waiting.  Waiting to see if his tardy partner would arrive in time to save him from a fate he hadn’t earned.  Heyes chuckled harshly at the irony.  The famous Hannibal Heyes was going to get hung under another man’s name, all because he’d been impatient and bored.  His well-known silver tongue was going to be the instrument of his death.  Once the Kid got over the shock of losing him, he’d have to have a laugh over that!  

The sheriff had been nobody’s fool.  He’d searched his prisoner with great care and had marveled at the number of lock picks and knives concealed on his person.  There was no way Heyes was getting out of this cell by any of his normal means.  He jumped up again and resumed his circuit.  If the Kid wasn’t here by lunchtime, he’d have to confess to the sheriff who he really was.  They were planning to hang him at noon and it was coming up fast.  He could only hope that the allure of a ten thousand dollar reward would be enough to send the lawman back to his stack of wanted posters.  If not, he’d hang.

Not that he didn’t have faith that the Kid would arrive in time; he always did; but it was getting close.  Heyes stopped at the window and glanced out again looking for his partner.  If he tipped his head all the way to the right he could just see the edge of the platform being built.  It looked as if it was nearly done.  What if things moved along even faster now?  Where was the Kid?  He felt a few beads of sweat drip down his cheek.  Where was his famous cool now?  He rubbed his clammy hands together and walked back to the bed, lying down again.  He couldn’t settle anywhere for long.  The waiting was going to kill him before the noose did!

Heyes heard the door to the office opening and he jumped to his feet.  The sheriff came in with a tray and walked over to his cell door bending down and sliding the food through the slot under the bars.

“Maisie, over at the café, made you a real fine last meal, Mr. Flagg.  Enjoy.”

“You eat it.  I’m not hungry.”  Heyes slid the tray back under the door.   “Sheriff, you’ve got to listen to me.  I’m not Sam Flagg.”

“If you ain’t Sam Flagg, why’d you tell everyone you was?”

Heyes had no answer for that question.  He’d spent all night trying to think of a plausible reason, but there wasn’t any.  Not without admitting that he was using an alias and that was going to open the rest of this can of worms.  He didn’t want to do that until he knew all hope was gone.  Maybe it already was.  The hammering had stopped and he glanced back over his shoulder.

“They’re gonna be ready for you soon, Flagg.  It’d be best to square things with your maker.  The undertaker’s gonna measure you up for a real special box; one with a window in it so’s they can put you on display down at the town square.  You’re gonna be famous.”  

“You sure have a nice way of cheering a fella up, Sheriff,” said Heyes, sinking onto the bed yet again and dropping his head in his hands.  The waiting really was killing him.  He sighed deeply, slumped back against the warm stone wall at his back, and closed his eyes.  He must’ve dozed off from exhaustion for a second or two, because he was startled awake by the sound of the cell door opening again.  

“Flagg, on your feet; spread your arms and lean up against the wall,” barked the lawman, gesturing to his prisoner with the butt of the gun he held.

Heyes stood up unsteadily and did as he’d been told.  He bowed his head and prepared himself for his final plea.  “I gotta tell you something, Sheriff.  There was a good reason I didn’t give those men my real name, I’m…”

A blow to his back shut him up mid-sentence.  “Quiet!  You out there, get in here.  He’s ready; hurry up and get your measurements.”  

Heyes heard another pair of footsteps come down the aisle and into his cell; the undertaker.  

“Flagg, you make one move and you’re a dead man.  Don’t just stand there, get in here,” growled the sheriff to the undertaker.

Heyes closed his eyes as he felt a pair of arms encircle his waist.  He shuddered as the tape measured him from his feet to his head.   He felt the man shift to measuring his arms and something slipped into his hand; a lock pick.  His eyes flew open and he found blue eyes, wearing a pair of spectacles, staring back at him compassionately.  A strong hand squeezed his forearm.   It took all his strength of will not to smile at his partner.  

“Don’t you worry, Mr. Flagg, I’m gonna give you a real nice send-off,” said the Kid.

Heyes couldn’t trust himself to speak.  He nodded his thanks as his knees nearly buckled.  The Kid helped him back to his bunk while the Sheriff kept the two men covered.   After settling the prisoner, Curry straightened the cuffs on the black suit he was wearing; suddenly all business again.  

“The boss says I need a down payment on the coffin.  Ten dollars’ll do it.  He’s got to buy some new pine.  The last batch got warped from the rain and the lumber company ain’t givin’ him credit no more.”

“For the love of….I ain’t got that much on me.  C’mon, we’ll see about gettin’ you that wood,” the lawman plucked his hat from the rack by the door and waited as the tall, blond haired man led the way out of the jail.

OOOOOOOOOO

“More whiskey?”  The Kid held the bottle over Heyes’s glass, refilling it while his cousin’s hand shook.  After Heyes had escaped and met the Kid outside of town, they’d ridden two hours before reining up to see if they’d been followed.  Curry had taken one look at his partner’s pale face and had declared a stop for lunch.

“Kid, thanks, that was too close for comfort.  You know, I’m getting too old for this life when I can’t come up with a simple alias.”  Heyes downed his third glassful.

“We’re gettin’ out of this life for just that reason.”

“Yeah, well, I hope amnesty will be worth all this trouble.”  Heyes picked at the dried biscuit he held on his lap.

“It’ll be worth it.”

“Right this second, I’m not as sure as you are.”

“Well, you know what that Shakespeare fellow said in that play about that crazy Danish guy that you liked so much:   We know what we are, but not what we may be.”

“How’d you remember that?  Seems to me you slept through the whole thing.”

“Naw, I was just lying in wait for it to end.”
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Join date : 2013-04-08
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PostSubject: Re: July 2013 Lying in Wait   Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:20 pm

I hope this isn't too late for the deadline. It's a little something loosely based on one of my mornings riding herd this week:

When Mabel Laid in Wait

Kid Curry stared unflinchingly into the brown eyes so close to his own. His hand hovered over his gun as his surging temper threatened to get the better of him.
She didn’t back down or retreat.
“Git along outta here, you big ol’ lump of lard!” he ordered.
The red cow with the white head and one curving horn tossed her head and the clump of scrub oaks rattled as her horn caught the branches. Dead twigs rained down on Curry’s head and worked their way down the back of his collar.
“You go on! Get!”
“What’s wrong?” Heyes emerged through a patch of chokecherries and his dun horse whickered a greeting to Curry’s seal brown, tied beside the oaks while his master crawled after the cow.
“This ornery, no-good, stupid pile of manure won’t get out of here,” Curry fumed.
Heyes regarded the registered Hereford cow with a mildly sympathetic expression. “Aw, come on, darlin’. Don’t make him mad. Come on, climb out of there.”
“Don’t make me mad? I’m already mad!” Curry stomped out of the brush, untied his horse, and mounted with an emphatic air. “Babysittin’ four hundred cows is three hundred and ninety-nine too many.”
“Come on out, darlin’,” Heyes continued to cajole. The cow tossed her head again and then turned and trotted out of the scrub oaks—uphill. “No no no no! You’re supposed to go down to the herd at the water hole!” Heyes bellowed.
“Nice work with the silver tongue,” Curry chided.
Heye stared after the uncooperative animal. “We can’t get through that way, not with the horses. We’ll have to swing around the other side of the cliff.”
But when they reached the far side of the hill there was no cow in sight.
“Look, here’s some tracks.” Heyes pointed to the narrow trail that wound through the scrub.
“Naw, I took about five head down here earlier before I spotted her in that oak clump,” the Kid countered.
“Then she must be still up here.” Heyes spoke the words in a groan.
Twenty minutes of fruitless searching later, the partners met on the top of the hill. “She must have gone down from here to the herd,” Curry concluded, sending his brown horse down the trail in the lead. “We should push them all down to the meadow before they decide to head back into the brush. I’m tellin’ ya, Heyes, this rancher must be crazy. Who runs registered Hereford cattle in northern Colorado and expects them to come down to live in a corral all winter?”
“Quit gripin’, Kid. It’s not like we have to babysit ‘em all winter, and he’s payin’ us twenty dollars apiece to gather them down to his corrals.”
“We wouldn’t need to take this job if you had stayed out of that poker game!” the Kid complained.
“How was I . . . to know he had friends all over town—” Heyes gasped as a chokecherry branch slapped him squarely in the face.
. . . . . . .
Much to their surprise and relief, the herd was still milling around the now-murky water of the pond in the sagebrush. “Look, Heyes!” Curry pointed across the herd. “Ain’t that her? The cow with the single horn?”
Heyes propped a hand on his Cheyenne roll and slewed around in his saddle to stare in the direction indicated. “Well, would you look at that! She must’ve snuck down ahead of us. Let’s get them out.”
The herd of cattle flowing through the wide gate into the corral was a beautiful sight—if you could see it through the dust. Perry Callahan sat perched on a rail of the corral and cackled with glee through his thick white beard as the two ex-outlaws pushed the last stragglers through the gate.
“Well, Mr. Callahan, there’s your herd,” Heyes coughed.
“Nice job, young fellers, yes indeed.” Callahan squinted across the milling cattle. “You sure—where’s Mabel?”
“Who’s Mabel?” Curry pulled the bandanna off his nose and mouth to reply.
“She’s the one with the twisted left horn!” Their employer leveled a scowl in their direction as they exchanged speaking glances.
Heyes pointed. “She’s right there in that corner. And let me tell you, we risked life and limb—”
Callahan pounded his fist on his dusty knee. “No she ain’t! That’s Mary! Mary has the horn on the right. Mabel has the horn on the left. You better go up and look for her. She cain’t survive the winter out there by herself.”
“Now Mr. Callahan . . .” Curry protested.
Heyes edged his horse forward. “Mr. Callahan, we tracked that cow all over the mountain. She managed to evade two riders and two horses. Is this really a cow that you want to risk having in your corrals all winter? They do look a little run down, and you don’t want to risk losing your entire herd.”
“You can’t leave Mabel out there!” Callahan insisted. “You’re not getting a penny until my Mabel is right here with the rest of the cattle.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Mr. Jones, I’m paying you to bring four hundred head down out of the hills. Three hundred ninety-nine is not four hundred. Now git on out there and look for my Mabel!”
Curry only waited until they were out of earshot to complain, “Did you have to find us jobs with a lunatic? Mabel!” He snorted eloquently.
“Hold it!’ Heyes held up his hand. “Listen.”
“I don’t hear anything,” the Kid continued to gripe.
Heyes shot him a dirty look. “That’s because you’re talkin’.”
A distant bellow from the brush on the hill was followed by a rustling sound, and a white-faced red cow emerged from the chokecherries at a brisk trot.
“Mabel!” the Kid exclaimed.
“That-a-girl. Go join your pals. Good girl, I knew you could do it,” Heyes cajoled. Mabel moved right past them without so much as a glance and they fell in behind her on her purposeful trip to the corrals.
Perry Callahan slid down off his rail and did a victory dance on his way to open the gate for the cow, who skidded past him in a cloud of dust.
“There’s your cow, Mr. Callahan. We’d like our money now, please,” Heyes said with a touch of hauteur.
Much to their surprise, the old man didn’t grumble as he dug into his pockets and dropped the money into Heyes’ leather-gloved hand. “Sure you boys don’t want to stick around and ride out in a day or two?”
“No thanks.” Kid Curry had one wary eye in the direction of the cow now pacing around the edge of the corrals. “We’d like to hit the trail as soon as possible, you know, gettin’ to the next job.”
“Thanks, fellas. If I know of anyone needin’ two good hands I’ll be sure and pass your names on.”
“Don’t bother.” Heyes wheeled his dun, nodded curtly, and didn’t look back as he rode away.
The Kid trotted up beside him. “Mabel’s pacin.”
“I know.”
“There’s somethin’ wrong with that cow.”
“I know that too.” Heyes winced slightly at the sound of splintering wood, followed by the rumble of hooves that brings a chill to the spine of anyone who knows cattle. “That’s why I wanted to leave in a hurry.”
“We’re not going back to regather ‘em.” The words were as much a statement as a question.
“Of course not! Didn’t you see how fat they were and how thick their coats were? They’ll be fine. She’ll probably be lying in wait for the next poor fella Callahan hires to bring them down.”
“Do cows lie in wait for cowboys?” Curry pondered.
“That one sure did!” Heyes spanked his horse with his reins and moved into a lope.
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