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 August 2013 - Forget Me Not...

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Calico

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Age : 52
Location : Birmingham

PostSubject: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:46 am

Hello all!!

Once again you have to thank the Cat's other Half for the challenge topic.

I wanted something with a nod to Alaska (Sigh, it was great) BUT you know I like to keep all your writerly options fairly open.

So, in honour of Alaska's state flower your challenge for this month is:


"Forget Me Not"


Let the potential tugging of heart strings sorrykitty  and inevitable descriptions of Curryesque eyes begin!!!

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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:43 pm

Okay. I keep saying that I'm not going to do this again, but then the prompt for the monthly challenge comes up and it fits so nicely with something that I had just written for my longer epics and I just can't resist. In a way it's kind of cheating, but it helps me to feel as though I am still contributing to the monthly challenge.


It was early Sunday morning but even so, all the basic chores were done around the barn yard.  Sam was up at the line cabin with Deke preparing to round up and then break out the two year old colts.  They would be heading off to auction come Fall so it was going to be a very busy and boisterous two weeks for the wranglers to get the half-wild youngsters ready. 
 After that it would be time for the round up of the cattle, another two weeks of hard, dirty work.  Not only did the new calves have to be temporarily separated from their mothers in order to be branded, but the yearling bulls also had to be castrated.  Then the two year old steers would be segregated and herded off in a group to the rail heads in order to be transported to market.  The days of the long drawn out trail drives were coming to an end but somehow the work didn't seem to get much easier. 
 Jesse always hired extra hands during this time and never expected Heyes or Jed to become too involved with the rounding up or the breaking out.  That was a job for young men and the two ex-outlaws were not exactly spring chickens anymore.  Jesse also knew in his heart that neither his new son-in-law or his cousin were natural-born ranchers.  Jed had filled in that job when he had to, as a way to earn his keep and still be able to focus on his main goal—getting his partner out of prison.  And Hannibal?  Well Hannibal was happier sitting around a poker table than a branding fire so Jesse saw no point in pushing it.
 It was still a hectic time of year though and pretty soon even their Sundays were going to be busy getting the ranch ready to support itself through another winter.  Everyone in the Jordan household was determined to make the most of the beautiful day that had been given to them and all of them, including Jesse were dressed in their 'going to town' duds.
 Heyes was still in his room while Jesse and Jed were outside getting particular horses either tacked up or harnessed up in anticipation of the trip to town.  Hannibal could hear them talking out in the yard but he was distracted, his mind on something else.  He stood quietly in front of his dresser for a few moments before pulling the top drawer open and slipping his hand underneath the clothing that was there.  He carefully pulled out a photograph and again stood still as stone and quietly gazed upon the image.
 Finally a soft smile played up the corners of his mouth and he brought the photo up to his lips and he gently kissed the facsimile of the woman's face.

 “Goodbye, Abi.”  He whispered softly to the picture.  “I know you want me to get on with my life and I suppose it's time I did that.  I won't tell you to look after our daughter because I know you already are.  It's what you've always done—far more than I have.  But one thing I do ask is that you don't let her forget me.  I know you promised to tell her as soon as she was old enough, but I'm so afraid that life will move on and things will change and that maybe you'll think it's easier if she doesn't know. But I'm begging you now Abi; please don't just let this go—don't let her forget me.
 “I'll always love you, you know that.  But finally, I think I can honestly say to you that I hope you can find love again as I have done.  I'd hate to think of you spending your life alone.  Oh, I know you have Anya but that's not the same thing as finding someone to have and to hold.  I want you to find love again Abi, I really do.  You're a beautiful woman and you deserve it.”

 Knock, knock, knock!

 “C'mon. Heyes!”  Jed's voice echoed from the other side of the door.  “Everybody's ready to go!”

 “Yeah, be there in a minute.”

 He heard Jed walk away and he smiled down at the photograph as he gently brushed his thumb across the image in a loving caress.

 “Goodbye, Abi.  Until we meet again.... somewhere.”

 He tucked the photo back into the drawer where it nestled in amongst his other keepsakes.  The picture of Anya that Abi had sent him in prison—the one that had saved his life.  It was there along with the other letters that Abi had sent him while he was incarcerated.  Added to those was the letter from his daughter and the post card describing in youthful delight all the wonders that she was seeing.  And then that other letter from Abi telling him not to get in touch.  Telling him to let them go and get on with his life; the one that broke his heart every time he saw it yet could not bring himself to burn it or tear it up.
 Now he was glad that he hadn't done any of those things because bit by bit, the pain it caused him was beginning to lessen.  More and more it was becoming simply a valued keepsake, something that was of her that she had given to him and he would cherish it.  He slipped the photo back into the drawer and slid it shut.
 He sighed deeply and smiled a big dimpled grin.  Those people would always be apart of who he was and they would stay with him for the rest of his life but he was ready now, ready to move on.  He gave another sigh and picking up his hat from the bed he strode out of the room and carried on out to the yard to meet up with the family that was waiting for him.


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Tashmina

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:43 am

Forget Me not

Their feet sank into the plush depths of the midnight-blue carpet and a smell of – what was that hitting their nostrils like a bat in the face?   Was it mothballs, lavender, or old-lady moths?  It didn’t matter.  As Heyes and Curry walked towards the gargantuan desk they both felt the flutter of nerves in their bellies.  Was this it?  Were they finally going to get what they wanted after all these years?  

Lom cleared his throat behind them, urging the ex-outlaws to step forward by raising his eyebrows.  Heyes stared straight ahead with an air of contrived confidence but the Kid glanced around and gave a slight nod to their old friend.

“Gentlemen; Mr. Heyes, Mr Curry,” the stick-thin secretary indicated to the patch of darker blue just in front of the desk where shifting feet had previously stood to hear a decree of some kind.  Some visitors clearly didn’t merit the offer of a seat and it didn’t escape anyone’s notice that neither ex-criminal were granted the same epithet as the other visitors.  “The Governor is ready for you now.”

The middle-aged man shuffled his papers before glancing up at the two men whose hands twitched nervously next to their empty holsters.  “Heyes and Curry?”  One bushy eyebrow flicked up dismissively.  “Nine years living honestly?”

“Ten years next month,” Heyes replied, tersely.

The Governor’s head dropped to examine the papers, leaving Heyes glowering at a sweaty pate bedecked by a few strands of hair which looked like they had been purloined from a passing squirrel.  “Yeah, one of my predecessors made a rash promise.”  The Governor sat back and swivelled on his leather chair.  “Still, a promise is a promise and I intend to stand by it.  You have finally been granted amnesty.”

The partners shuffled uneasily and watched the gold nib plunge into the inkwell before it headed towards the papers.  “Dammit!”  

The pen stopped, placed back in the stand as the secretary rushed forward to mop up the splodge of ink which had landed on the blotter.  “Let me place this paper on top, sir.  We don’t want to mess your sleeves.  Do we?”

Heyes and Curry shuffled uncomfortably while the blot was covered and the pen was returned to the inkwell to be re-charged.  A huge fly settled on the papers taking off at the crash of the Governor’s left hand on the desk.  It buzzed around, waving its disrespectful blue butt in the face of the man who had dared to disturb it, always magically inches ahead of the flapping hands and flailing papers while Kid Curry’s jaw hardened and Hannibal Heyes rolled his eyes.

The Kid stepped forward.  His hand shot out like quicksilver and he caught the little hellion in a gloved clutch.  “There,” he headed over to the window and released it into the sunshine.  “There ain’t anything to stop you signin’ that amnesty now,” an impatient scowl was masked by a rictus smile, “is there?”

The Governor’s eyes narrowed but his veined hand reached out to the inkwell for a third time.  The pen returned to the ever-watched papers and headed down to the foot of the page.  

The sharp knock at the door shot through the ex-outlaws and jangled the already fraught nerves.

“Come in,” called the Governor.

“In the name of...” The Kid muttered under his breath and cast irritated eyes at the pencil thin man who thrust a pale face around the door.  Did one have to be skeletal to do clerical work or did they gravitate towards an office job because they only had the strength to push a pen?

“Your eleven o’clock is here, sir.”

“I’ll be right out.  I’m nearly finished here.”  The hand dropped to the paperwork and scrawled a flourishing signature, before lifting each sheet and repeating the process over and over again.  He blew the ink dry and handed one to Heyes and Curry in turn.  “Your amnesty.”  A pair of gimlet, blue eyes fixed each of the ex-criminals in turn.  “If you two let me down I’ll hunt ya myself, got that?”

The partners stared at their future and glanced at Lom.  “Is that it?” Heyes asked.

“What’d ya expect?” growled the Governor heading for the door, “an inaugural ball?”

“That’s it?” the Kid demanded.  “We’re free?  We’re not wanted.”

“Definitely not,” sniffed the secretary looking at them down a hooked nose.  “I’ll see you out.”

“I’ll look after them,” grinned Lom.  “Come on, boys.  I think this calls for a drink.”

 
                                                               >>>>>>>>


The trio stepped out onto the granite steps, the caustic sunlight casting deep shadows in Heyes dimples.  The sound of hammering and sawing filled the air; the Capitol was still under construction but promised to be a show of power and grandeur when completed.  The Kid shook his head incredulously.  “That’s it?  This is what we’ve waited ten years for?  A signature on a piece of paper?”

“Yup,” Lom nodded.  “Great isn’t it?  You did it boys.  You’re free men,” he let out a breath which sounded almost like a low whistle, “and they said it couldn’t be done.”

“Who did?” Heyes demanded with a scowl.

“Just folks.”

“What folks?” Heyes persisted.  “We always knew we’d do it.  We do everything we put our minds to.”

“Just a bit of paper,” mused the Kid, “and then it’s all over.  All that runnin’ and hidin’ and...”

“Just give me a clue,” Heyes continued, waving his amnesty in Lom’s face.  “Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to go back there and rub their noses in this.”
   
“It was just casual talk, Heyes,” Lom sighed.  “Leave it be.  Can’t you think of anything better to do right now?  Come on, let’s celebrate.”

“Yeah, I guess.  A drink as a free man.  You must know what it’s like to suddenly be a free citizen, Lom.  Does it taste better?”

A wry smile played around Lom’s lips.  “Nope, it tastes exactly the same but it’s harder earned and that makes it all the more satisfying.”

“We know enough about hard work, Lom,” the Kid sighed.  “We’ve done more than our fair share of that over the last ten...”

Nobody saw it coming.  The first gunshot blasted from behind and Kid Curry hit the dirt face first, a huge pool of dark blood spreading out from under his fallen body, the second made the Kid’s body jerk with the momentum of the bullet.  Both Heyes and Lom drew, firing at the gaunt, dark-eyed gunman who ran for cover behind the stacked granite blocks and disappeared into the building site.

Heyes made to go after the gunman, but paused, looking down at his fallen cousin; this was serious.  No, he couldn’t leave him.  Not now.  Not like this.  He had to allow Lom to go after the man.

Heyes almost fell to the ground beside his partner and turned the Kid over, grimacing at the scarlet spreading over his chest.  His heart sunk at the sight of the light flickering in the blue eyes.  “Stay with us, Kid.  We’re fetching a doctor.”

A young woman ran over and dropped to her knees, ignoring the gore seeping into her dress and placed the Kid’s head on her lap.  “No!  Fetch a doctor, go get him!” she implored the gathering bystanders.

“Why... now?” the Kid groaned weakly, blood seeping from his chest.

Heyes shook his head, a frown gathering amongst the blood splattered on his face.  “We’ll find out.”  He watched his cousin’s eyes close, the acrid taste of tears filling his mouth.  “No, look at me, Kid.”

A rasping, guttural rattle was the only response.

“No!  You can’t die.  Not now, not after all we’ve been through,” Heyes felt his eyes sting, the grip of partners’ fingers loosening.  “Kid?  No, Kid!”  

Heyes felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.  “The doctor’s here, son.  Let him look at your friend.”  He looked up into the worn face of one of the builders.

“Already?”  Heyes shook his dazed head.

“Yeah.  There was one visitin’ somebody inside.”

Heyes looked down at the body, a corrosive knot forming in his gullet.  This scene was all too real; the body of the only man who had known him his entire life lying in the dirt in an ever-growing pool of blood.  This should never be how it should end.

“He’s too late,” he murmured in a daze of unreality.  “He’s gone.”

The sobbing of the young woman played in the background, cutting through the mutterings and the chattering of the people crowding around.

“I saw it!  There was a tall, dark fella with a rifle; he made off that-a-way.”

“Did anyone call for the law?”

“Officials from the Capitol Building took off after him.  So did some fella who was with these two,” another stranger replied.

Heyes shook his head distractedly.  “He’s a lawman.  The Sheriff of Porterville.”

“Ah, that’ll explain it,” a gruff, uniformed figure draped a coat over the Kid’s face.  “Some kind of criminal with a grudge.”  

The man with the leather bag shook his head, the grizzled, receding, white hair catching the sunlight.  “I need a wagon to remove the body.  Anybody willing to hire one out?”

“Sure, doc,” a toothy man squinted into the sun before turning his head and gobbing unceremoniously out to the side.  “Ah’ll rent ya.  What’s the poor soul’s name anyways?”

“Jedidiah Curry.”  Heyes stood rubbing his face distractedly.

The wagon driver let out a long, low whistle.  “Kid Curry!  Well, the shooter’s either likely to be an enemy or some crackpot wantin’ to make a name for hisself as the man who killed the fastest gun in the West.”  

There was a yell from the street corner where a bricklayer waved from his vantage point on the scaffolding.  “He got ‘im!  Your friend who went after the shooter?  Got him cold.  He ain’t gonna be hurtin’ nobody no  more.”    

The doctor turned questioning eyes on the crowd.  “Well?  Who’s going to help me get him into the wagon.  The undertaker can collect the body from my office once you know who’s gonna be burying the poor soul.”          
       
             
                                                                 >>>>>>>>


Heyes’ pale face stood out against his dark suit as he stared down at the coffin from the following vehicle.

“Are you sure you want him buried here?” Lom asked, gently.

“We don’t belong anywhere,” Heyes shrugged.  “I guess the place where all the running ended is as good as anywhere.”

“And you?”  Lom laid a hand on his old comrade’s arm.  “Will you stay here?”

Heyes shook his head, gazing into nowhere with lost, dark eyes.  “Nope.  There’s nothing here for me, certainly not the Kid.  Once this is over I’ll head out.”

“Where?” pressed Lom.

“Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Moving on is easy, it’s belonging that’s the hard part.”  Heyes nodded to the undertaker who stepped in front of the wagon bearing the simple coffin.  “Thanks, Lom.  From both of us.  You’ve been a good friend.”

“Been?  I’m not done with you yet, Heyes.”

“I want you to know I’m real grateful; for the support, for the amnesty,” Heyes threw out an arm, “or help with all this.  I’ll pay you back.  You know I will.”

“There’s no hurry, Heyes,” Lom gave the reins a chuck to get the cortege moving behind the coffin, “besides, this isn’t the time.  You have the rest of your life, Heyes.”

“Yeah, the rest of my life.  Just what will that look like, I wonder?”  Heyes released a long rasping sigh.  “I thought more folks would come, Lom.  I don’t know any of these people.”

“I guess most can’t make it,” Lom grimaced, “or show their face.”

“Vultures!” Heyes snapped.  “They’re only here to make sure Kid Curry is really dead.”

“He’s famous, Heyes.  You know that.  At least he’ll never be forgotten.  Folks will visit his grave here for years to come.  Focus on the positives. ”

“Positives!?” growled Heyes.  “I don’t like people telling me what to think. Why couldn’t we just walk away like any other criminal who got amnesty?”

“Because you weren’t normal criminals,” Lom muttered, “There’s a whole set of dime novels built around you two, you know.”

“All we wanted was a fresh start,” Heyes rumbled to nobody in particular.  “What kind of town would have wanted us?”

“How about Porterville?  It could be the kinda place where you’ll learn the hindsight to know where you’ve been,” Lom stared firmly ahead.  “Use that to teach you when you’ve gone too far and you’ll be just fine.”  


                                                                        >>>>>>>>


The train chugged on through the night with Heyes existing in the half-life of semi-consciousness which allowed him to flick between Lom snoring softly beside him and the memories of the thud of the damp earth hitting the coffin lid.  It had been a final and jolting end to life lived at full tilt.

The gawkers had annoyed him beyond endurance; his hackles rising at the curious eyes  examining the surviving ex-criminal with the kind of open scrutiny usually reserved for young children.  He had scowled back, holding their gaze until they finally had the grace to drop their eyes either through embarrassment or cowardice.

The young woman who had held the Kid’s head in his last minutes had come too.  Heyes had managed a smile for her, especially when she had placed a small bunch of forget-me-nots on the grave.  Typical men; nobody had thought to arrange any flowers .  He had been pleased to see these little blooms, echoing the blue of his cousin’s eyes on the grave.  It seemed fitting.  

Nobody was going to be allowed to forget that Kid Curry lay in that grave; not if he had anything to do with it.


                                                                   >>>>>>>>      


Heyes walked down the hotel corridor, the dark shadows under his eyes betraying the deep fatigue weighing down his soul.  He was finally alone.  Lom had taken a connecting train to Porterville and he had travelled on to his next destination.

He raised his head examining the numbers on the door.  Yup, room 326.  This was the right place.  He knocked.

It was opened by a young woman whose wide smile brightened her dancing eyes.  “Heyes!”  

She hurled herself at him, clutching him in a wild embrace.

“Hey, hey.  Let me breathe, Clem!”  Heyes grasped her wrists, but smiled in spite of his spiralling emotions.  “Is he here?”

“Sure.  We’ve been celebrating.”  She grabbed his hand and led her friend into the room.  “Heyes is here, at long last.”

Heyes’ gaze drifted around the various people in the room before his smile widened and his dimples deepened.  “Kid?  It’s great to see you.”

“Aw, come on, Heyes,” grinned the Kid.  “Don’t look at me like that.  It ain’t like I was really killed.  Where’s Lom?”

“He had to go back, he sends his regards.”

“I guess he didn’t want to take the risk of bein’ caught with a bunch of outlaws like us,” chortled Wheat raising his beer bottle.

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded, “it ain’t like we broke the law or nuthin’.”

“I’m not so sure; we did fire shots in public.”  Heyes accepted a glass of something amber from Clem, “and I’m pretty sure they’ll be a law against burying a coffin full of soil.”

“Why?” laughed Kyle.  “Ain’t there supposed to be soil in a churchyard?”

“Not when it’s supposed to be a famous gunman, it’s not.”  Heyes slumped on a chair.  “It’s good to see ya, Kid.  That funeral got a bit too real for my taste.”

Preacher’s gaunt face stretched into an unsavoury grin.  “Ecclesiastes 3:1-8;  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal.”

Heyes fixed his cousin with a sigh.  “A time to heal.  Now everyone thinks you’re dead and we have an amnesty, we have a chance.  Every hothead in the country would have been keen to be the one who outdrew Kid Curry.  But you’re now dead and buried, so there’s no point anymore.”

“I owe Lom,” Kid scanned the room.  “A lawman going after the ‘killer’ helped to stop folks questioning things.”

“And I owe him too,” Preacher raised a glass, “because when I took a potshot at the Kid, he pretended to kill me, so folks would stop shootin’ at me.  A few bladders of fake blood gave folks what they expected to see.”

“And nobody questioned the weighted coffin being sent off to be buried elsewhere,” laughed Heyes.  “Not when Soapy pretended to be a doctor and whisked both bodies off to his ‘office.’”

“And Wheat and me got the bodies on our wagon,” added Kyle.

“After I took the victim’s head in my lap,” smiled Clem.  “We didn’t want anyone looking too closely at him did we?  They’d see he was still breathing.”

The Kid’s eyes burned over to the delighted looking woman who glowed with pride.  “I can think of worse places to lay my head.  I’m sorry I ruined your dress though.”

“It was worth it to let you live as a free man without looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life,” Clem replied.  “What’s the point of getting amnesty if you’re likely to be gunned down at any time?”

“Yeah, we needed Lom’s help to keep the authorities from looking too deeply at this,” grinned the Kid.  “They got a dead ex-outlaw and a dead shooter.  Case solved.”

“It’s a good job Lom didn’t know about our other plan,” snickered Wheat.

“Lom’s a good friend,” Heyes settled back in his chair, “but he doesn’t have to know everything.”  His face lit up with a bright smile which almost masked the glimmer of darkness in his eyes.  “As far as he was concerned we were there for our amnesty.  It just made good sense to have back-up in case the Governor double-crossed us.”  
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ChristinaASJ

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:14 am

A Time to Remember

Alice accepted the cup of tea held out to her and placed it on the small oak table in front of her. Such an exquisite design. Both the china cup and saucer were hand painted with tiny blue flowers, perfect in every detail; probably imported from England, she thought. They had nothing but the best at the Brown Palace. How odd though; how very odd; forget me nots, today of all days.

His eyes had been exactly the same shade of blue; sparkly, dancing and so alive. It was hard to think that now he had gone and so soon after his partner too. But then again, not surprising really.

“Miss Tissington?”

Alice looked across at the young man, hand poised with his weapon of choice.


“Are you alright? Do you want to continue?”

She took a quick sip of tea, her hand shaking a little. “Of course.”

He flicked back the page of his notebook, “now, let me see . . . yes, we got to the part where the train started to slow down.”

“Well, actually it came to rather an abrupt halt. I remember that my mother’s hat box flew off the seat. She was very cross. You see she’d bought her new hat especially for the wedding and it had taken a long time to save the money.” Alice looked around at her palatial surroundings. “Things were very different then.”


*

Alice pushes her face against the window as far as she can, squashing her small nose against the glass.

“Stand and deliver!”

Two men on horseback are pointing guns and shouting at the driver.

“Kid Curry!”

“Hannibal Heyes!”

“Outlaws!” someone cries and she looks up to see another man inside the car, signalling with his rifle that the passengers should leave the train.

Gripping her mother’s hand, Alice joins the procession out of the train and towards the shelter of a stand of trees. It is extremely hot and the air is alive with insects. One particularly tenacious bug has taken a liking to her mother’s hair. She lets go of Alice’s hand and starts to bat it away with a lace handkerchief that she has taken out of her reticule.

“Isn’t it enough that they stop our train and rob it without forcing us to endure THIS!” she cries.

One of the men standing nearby laughs,” They’re goin’ to blow up the safe and if the dynamite’s really good stuff they may blow up the whole box car; maybe even the whole train. Then you’ll have to enduuurre something far worse.”

Hearing this, Alice starts to run towards the train as fast as her two short legs will carry her. At the same time Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry charge away from the train; their four long legs moving much faster and the later taking a sudden change of direction, scooping Alice up and depositing her behind some rocks, next to his partner; another outlaw and an old lady wearing a black bonnet.

“Let me go, I’ve got to get Florence!” Alice cries, “She’s still in the train.”

Heyes jumps up. “Florence? That your sister?” He begins to move towards the train.

“No … she’s my doll!” Alice starts to sob.

“Your What?!“  He fumes, dropping down again.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll be fine.” Curry smiles, holding Alice firmly but gently by her arms.

They sit and wait. And wait. Other passengers and outlaws are taking cover and waiting. But nothing is happening. No sound of an explosion ripping through the arid air. No flying debris. No money raining down on them. Nothing.

Heyes stands up again.  He looks in the direction of the old lady. “Are you her Ma?”

“No. I’m from Boston.”

“My Ma’s over there, under the big cottonwood.”

“What’s your name?”

“Alice.”

“Well, stay there, Alice. And DON’T move!”

“Keep an eye on her will you ma’am?” Curry adds.

Alice peers around the edge of the rocks as the three outlaws advance on the box car, the safe and the dynamite. The outlaw whose name Alice doesn’t know staying well behind the other two.

Before long Curry returns alone to the rocks and crouches down beside her. “It’s safe now,” he says. “There’s not going to be an explosion.  Heyes is going to open the safe without blowing it up. I think we’d better go and find your Ma, Alice.”

“No! I want Florence.”

Curry glances over to the stand of trees where the rest of the passengers are being held by a couple of members of the gang and then back to the nearby train.  Alright,” he decides, “let’s go and find Florence.”  

Alice looks up into his startlingly blue eyes then pushes her tiny hand into his much larger one.

Inside the car she points to where she and her mother had been sitting and Curry spends a few moments looking around before holding up a slightly dusty but otherwise unharmed rag doll. Her dress an exquisite design, lovingly embroidered with tiny blue flowers perfect in every detail.

“So, this is Florence,” he says.

*

Alice looked down at the fine bone china cup, still sitting on the table; the dark brown liquid inside probably stone cold by now.
 
“My grandmother made the doll,” she continued. “Her name was Florence too. The blue flowers were just like these.” She indicated the delicate pattern on the china.

“Do you know what they are called?”

He shook his head.

“Forget me nots. My grandmother said they were her favourite flowers because they reminded her of the village in England, where she grew up.”

Alice leaned forward, her voice little more than a whisper now.

“And the strange thing is; Hannibal Heyes never did open that safe. The last we saw of The Devil’s Hole gang was them riding off in a huge cloud of dust, pulling the safe behind them.”

“And you … er … you know – you’re quite sure that’s how it happened? With the passing of time it’s very easy to forget.”

“Forget? Me? Not likely!” she replied.

After all; it had been the most exciting day of her life.


***

What a waste of time that had been, he thought a while later as he emerged from the Brown Palace. His boss at the Star would laugh his head off if he submitted that and he’d probably be fired into the bargain.

Outlaws who risked their lives for children; the notorious Devil’s Hole Gang failing to blow up a safe and the famous Hannibal Heyes unable to crack it but TAKING IT WITH HIM!

No! He didn’t need the fantasies of a young girl – or an old woman come to that. No, what he needed, and quick; was to find someone who remembered what Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were really like.
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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:21 pm

He stood back, running a grimy hand through his dark, sweat-soaked hair, and surveyed his work.  The rocks were piled as high as he could reach.  That ought to do it.  It’d take some truly huge critter to dig its way through that rocky pile.   No, he couldn’t think about that, or about them lying there under that weight of stone.  Satisfied, he turned his back to the grave, resolute and dry-eyed, and started to walk away.  The sound of a tumbling rock caught him up short, almost as though beckoning him back, begging him not to go.  He clenched his fists as a stone bounced to the ground behind him and lay still; then he walked on.

“Jed!  Time to go,” he yelled.

“Be right there.”

He walked towards the direction the sound had issued from and soon found his eight-year old cousin, Jed Curry, running towards him.  Clutched in his hands was a small bouquet of blue flowers.  The smaller boy had worked alongside him the first hour or so, but he had soon tired and Han had allowed him to drift away.

“What’ve you been doing, Jed?”

Red-rimmed blue eyes looked earnestly up at him and held out the flowers.  “They’s Forget-me-nots; Ma’s favorites.”  Jed hurried past him.  Han turned slightly and saw his little cousin laying his small gift on top of the largest stone set at the bottom.  The one Han had chosen special, like a proper headstone, and levered into place using an old birch limb; just like pa had taught him.  Pa used to tell him that you solved your problems like you build a wall, take care of the big ones first and the smaller ones will fall into place.  He felt the hot stab of tears as he wondered if his father had ever foreseen how practical that advice would become.   Knuckling his eyes, he called to Jed, “C’mon, say your good-byes.  We gotta get outta here before the soldiers come back.”

“Don’t you wanna say good-byes, too, Han?”

“Already did.   Let’s go!”  Han started walking again, away; away from who he used to be.

OOOOOOOOOO

“Doc said you got lucky this time, partner.  Now, you lay still and try not to move or you’ll get the bleedin’ goin’ again.  I’m gonna set right here while you get some rest.”  Kid Curry pulled the ladder-backed chair away from the desk and spun it around on its two back feet, straddling it.  He grinned at the bed-ridden man propped up on several feather pillows.  A thick bandage was wrapped around his right thigh and a small red blotch of blood glowed brightly on the white linen fabric.

“Stop fussing over me.  I’m fine,” said Hannibal Heyes, closing his eyes and trying to shut out the pain.

“Yes sir, you look mighty fine; all pasty white and tight-lipped.”   The Kid stopped grinning as his best friend grimaced in pain.   “You scared the hell outta me, Heyes,” he continued softly.

“Didn’t mean to, Kid.  Believe me, I ducked, the damn axe ducked with me.”

“Doc says it might’ve nicked the artery.  I ain’t seen that much blood….” Curry’s voice trailed off and Heyes opened his eyes again staring at his partner.  The Kid’s own eyes were unfocused, looking into his past.

“Kid, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for this to happen.”  Heyes had felt it; he’d felt his life draining away through the ugly gash in his thigh as the Kid had half-dragged, half-carried him away from the tree they’d been felling and towards the logging camp.  He’d hit a knot and the sharp-bladed axe he’d swung with all his strength, bounced wildly off the trunk, nailing his leg.  He’d been so surprised that he’d dropped the axe and stared stupidly at his own blood spraying from the wound.  The Kid had begun screaming off to his left as he sank to his knees.  Only his partner’s quick thinking and a dirty bandana had saved his life.

“I thought you were a goner.”

“No way, not when you still owe me twenty dollars,” quipped Heyes.  He didn’t like the look on the Kid’s face.  “Kid, c’mon, it’s okay.  I ain’t fixing to die.”

The Kid exploded off his chair.  “They weren’t either, but they’re still gone.”

“Kid, don’t.  I ain’t going anywhere.”  He didn’t want to talk about this now and felt his frustration growing.

“Don’t what, Heyes?  Don’t worry about losing the last family I have?”  The Kid had turned away from him and was staring out the window, looking at nothing.  He spoke softly when he began again, “Do you even remember what they look like?  I can’t.   Sometimes, I’ll wake from a dream and I know it was about her, about them, but I just can’t see their faces.”

“Please, I can’t…”  Heyes shifted on the bed and, within seconds, the red blossom on the bandages had grown.  He looked helplessly at his leg watching the linen grow sodden.  “Kid.”

Curry pulled the curtains tight and leaned his head against the thick velvet clutched in his fists.  “I wish I could remember.”

“Kid, get the doc,” said Heyes weakly.  Curry turned from the window and saw the saturated bedclothes.  He bolted from the room.

OOOOOOOOOO

A tapping at the door roused him from his sleep.  He rolled over and his angry muscles protested their rough usage.  “Hold on, I’m coming.”  Kid Curry pulled himself up using the chair.  His back was sore from lying on the hard floor all night and he could barely make it to his feet.   Heyes was still lying on his back, his injured leg in a sling and pulled above his heart by a rope passing through a screweye hastily drilled into the ceiling.  The Kid was relieved to see the steady rise and fall of his partner’s chest.  He crossed to the door and opened it carefully.  Mrs. Campbell, the proprietress of the rooming house they were staying in, peeked into the room.

“Good morning, Mr. Jones.  Is he still sleeping?” she whispered.

“Yes, ma’am.  He never moved far as I can tell.  Too weak to, I guess.”  The Kid opened the door wider for the kindly, middle-aged woman.  She had hurried in last night with the doctor and had worked by his side until well after midnight when the bleeding had finally stopped and the fever had set in.  Finally, having done everything that could be done; she and the doctor had left, leaving the Kid to his fears. Before he had stepped out the door, the doc had told Curry as gently as he could to expect the worst.

“I brought you some breakfast.”  Turning away, Mrs. Campbell lifted a tray off the hall table and passed it to the Kid.  “I hope you enjoy the flowers.  I picked them from my garden this morning thinking they might cheer you up.  Mr. Smith, too, of course, when he awakens,” she added hastily.

“Yes, ma’am, when he awakens, I’m sure they will,” said the Kid sadly, taking the tray and sitting it atop the dresser without looking at it.  He had no appetite.

“I’ll pick up the dishes later on.  Good day, Mr. Jones,” said Mrs. Campbell.

“Yes, ma’am.”  Curry shut the door and turned back to look at the immobile figure on the bed.  How could Heyes look so diminished and frail?  He walked slowly back to the chair and sat down, staring at his cousin.  Beads of sweat were sprinkled liberally across Heyes’s face and the Kid wiped his brow with the same damp rag he’d used during the night.  The fever hadn't worsened, that was something to be thankful for.  Finished, he sat back and studied his partner’s face carefully, the features as familiar as his own.  Would the day come when he wouldn’t remember Heyes’s face?  The thought terrified him and he stood up, pacing about the room.  

He stopped in his tracks as he passed the dresser and turned back to stare at the small white vase and the blue Forget-me-nots it held.  A chill ran down his spine as he reached out and gently fingered a petal.  His Ma’s favorite flowers.  He saw her suddenly as clear as day; her smiling face as she reached out to receive his offering, pulling him into her warm embrace; and his knees went weak with the memory.  He snatched his hand back as though burned by a flame and when he touched the petal again, there was nothing.  But he’d seen her, he’d remembered.  

He picked up the vase and put it on the bed stand to the right of Heyes.  They’d be the first thing his cousin would see when he opened his eyes.  The Kid wondered if Heyes would remember, too.  Feeling better, he went back to the dresser and picked up the wedge of warm bread, slathering it with the plum jelly Mrs. Campbell had left.  He wolfed down the meal and carried a cup of coffee back over to the chair, sitting down, and sipping it slowly as he watched Heyes breathing.  

OOOOOOOOOO

Heyes woke late in the morning, opening his eyes to the bright sunlight pouring through the crack in the velvet curtains.  His eyes focused slowly, but when they did, he noticed the small white vase of flowers.  Forget-me-nots, his aunt’s favorite.  He hadn’t seen those in years, not since…No, he couldn’t think of that, didn’t want to remember that.

Heyes turned away and stared at the ceiling, overcome by his thoughts before becoming aware of the soft snoring to his left.  The Kid was asleep sitting up, his head tucked down onto his chest.  Heyes could still see the child in his partner when he was sleeping and he lay still, remembering; remembering all the way back to another sweeter, happier life.  He watched the Kid for a while, letting his thoughts sift through memories long forgotten until his eyes grew heavy and he slept again.  

OOOOOOOOOO

“Heyes?”  The Kid was plumping the pillows behind his partner’s head.  Heyes had awakened before noon and had surprised all of them: his partner, the doctor, and sweet Mrs. Campbell, by his rapid improvement throughout the remainder of the day.

“Hmmm?”  Heyes had closed his eyes briefly when the Kid spoke.

“Do you remember our folks?” asked the Kid tentatively.

Heyes kept his eyes closed, feigning sleep.  He hated to talk about their folks.  It always brought dark, painful memories, and he usually sidestepped the Kid when the subject came up.  

“Heyes?”

Heyes opened his eyes and looked into the searching blue eyes of his younger cousin.  He could see how strained the Kid was by the worry he’d been chewing on and he felt a pang of guilt for ducking the question.  He turned, looking at the tiny blue flowers on the table and said softly,  “Yes, I do.”

The Kid pulled the chair over to Heyes’s side of the bed and sat down, straddling it, and putting his head on his arms which rested on the back of it.  “What do you remember?” he asked with a happy smile.

“I remember spending the night at your house.  We were sleeping in the loft and I woke up.  There was a light on below and I crawled to the edge.  I sat there a long time, watching your Ma sewing that big, blue quilt your folks had on their bed.  She was sitting at the kitchen table and the lamp had burned low, flickering, really, making her hair glow in the light it cast.  She shimmered like an angel.  I’ll never forget her.”

“What else?”

“Well, remember that time….?”
Heyes talked late into the night, as long as his strength lasted, remembering who they had been and who they hoped to be again one day.
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PostSubject: Forget Me Nots in Portland   Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:28 pm

“I pray my dearest your heart shall be a garden where forget-me-not remembrances shall grow forevermore.” The actor warbled sinking to the floor. The wooden sword jammed under his arm jerking dramatically as he flopped and flopped in his death throws.  

Scrubbing a hand across his face Hannibal Heyes said, “This is terrible.”  

“Shhh.” Hissed Kid Curry, watching every movement on the stage.

“You complain when I read Henry the V aloud and you want to watch this gibberish?”

Kid leaned close to his partner, his eyes never leaving the stage, “If you don’t like it, leave.”

Heyes looked to the actress wrapped, barely, in a Greek toga, flower petals drifting down from her blonde hair as she knelt over her now dead lover. “You realize there are gals over at the saloon.”

“I swear, you don’t shut your pan or leave, I’m going to escort you out myself.” Kid said turning a steely gaze on his partner.

“Fine.” Heyes replied standing, putting on his pristinely clean brown bowler. “Have it your way.”

Curry did not even bother to look up and with a shrug, Heyes turned on his heel exiting the seating row and then the theatre even faster.

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Back in their hotel room, Heyes was still muttering to himself, “Amazes the hell out of me how he lets a pretty face turn him ‘round.” Dressed now in his far more comfortable everyday clothes, he patted his pockets, making sure he had everything. “Well, he can stay at
that pitiful excuse for entertainment. I’m going to hunt up some players who don’t understand the odds of being dealt an inside straight.”

Halting on the bottom step of his hotel Heyes frowned at the misty clouds rolling up from the bayside streets. Out on the walk, he was focusing on his footing on the wet bricks when a thin man rushed by grasping a carpetbag to his chest. He came so close, the pair of them brushed against each other. Placing a hand over his wallet pocket Heyes spun to watch the man only to see him disappear in the fog. The hairs along his neck rose up rigid sending a chill down his back he stepped closer to the buildings keeping them snug to his left side, even as his right hand drops down to the gun tied to his thigh. ‘Why’d I let Kid talk me into coming to Portland? I’ve heard plenty of rumors about this town and….’ Not liking where his thoughts were trailing he shook his head, his long-legs extending into a faster walk.

At the corner, standing beneath a gas lamp, he found its garish bright light reflecting off the wet stones only made him feel more alone. ‘Maybe I should have waited on Kid.’ He considered peering at the impenetrable wall beyond the lamp, then with a snort, he threw back his shoulders striding into the fog. Once away from the lamp’s yellow glow, he found he could actually see better and on down the street he spied a saloon.

Climbing the saloon’s steps, Heyes felt the eeriness plaguing him fade away like the vestments of a bad dream. Pausing he looks up reading, Erickson’s emblazoned above the threshold and with one final look at the indistinct street below, he shrugs walking in. It is loud inside, the place is crowded and a picking band plays on a small stage. The poker tables have several ornate gas lamps hanging over them but for rest of the building the owner is stingy with his use of gas, leaving the large room draped in dark shadows. From the long well polished bar, Heyes surveys the poker tables waving to the bartender, he calls, “Bourbon, the good stuff.”

“Thirty cents.” The bartender states holding out his right hand. A full highball glass still clasped in his left.

Handing off the coins, Heyes accepts his drink and nodding toward the felt tops asks, “Honest games?”

“Mr. Erickson runs a clean place.” As the bartender says this, the two men hear a derisive snort, they both turn to look at a saloon girl whose dark hair falls in waves about her shoulders, and seeing her, Heyes tilts his head, arching an eyebrow.

“Doreen.” The bartender barks. “I believe you’ve better things to do.”

Fear moves swiftly across her face and shifting she lays a hand on Heyes’ arm, “Buy a lady a drink?”

“Sure.” He replies laying three dimes on the bar and her drink appears quickly. Seeing how clear the liquid is in her glass, he shakes his head.  

All the while, she has been eyeing him from his western hat to his stovepipe boots and she asks, “Ain’t you a bit far from the range?”
“Change of scenery.” He replies. Rolling his back into the bar so he can have a better view of the poker games and seeing no empty seats, he frowns.

Searching his face, she sidles up closer, “You here alone?”

He does not answer.

Watching his dark eyes skip from one table to another she steps closer, her voice husky, “Hey Sugar I could show you a change of scenery upstairs.”

He does not answer.

Her nose wrinkles and she pushes herself up against him, “Hey cowboy you hear me?”

Pulling his attention back to her, he looks down one dimple softly flickering on his cheek, “Apologize Ma’am I suppose I wasn’t listening.”
“That’s for sure.” She smiles empting her glass, “And, it’s Doreen, Sugar. I was asking if you was alone?”

He nodded, taking a drink, enjoying the smooth warmth of good bourbon rolling down his throat.

“Buy me another drink, Sugar?”

He grinned tightly, “Well you see Sugar, I believe you could get the same from the pump and it wouldn’t put me out no thirty cents.”

Her brow bunched, her lips pressing tightly together and Heyes laughed. “I know - house rules.”

“Well yeah.” She licked her lower lip, slipping in under his arm, fingers trailing down his flat stomach coming to rest on his well-worn holster belt. “So you want to go upstairs.”

Stepping away flashing his dimples, he shook his head, “Not tonight.” Taking another swig from his glass, his eyes trailed back to the tables. “Not in the mood.”

Reaching out a finger, Doreen touched his face where she had seen the dimple dancing, “Bet I could put you in the mood.”

“I am positive you could.” He grinned capturing her hand and kissing it, “But like I said not tonight.” And releasing her, he walked away.

Doreen’s hands went to her hips, her gray eyes narrowing, “Hey Matt.” The bartender moved closer as she watched Heyes circling the room, his entire attention on the poker players. “He’s alone.”

Matt nodded, “I will let the boys know.” He said a hand slipping under the bar and just barely, primarily because the two of them knew to
listen, they could hear the distant clang of an alarm bell.

Stepping from the bar, Doreen strode toward a pair of men waiting near the barber’s chair in the corner. She hesitated, looking once more to the handsome dark-haired cowboy, her breath choking in her chest. She glanced at the bar and shook her head, ‘What does it matter…I gave him his chance.”  

Heyes edged by the tables, finally finding a spot near an ornately carved beam support he leaned into it, studying the players learning their ticks. As he watched, a confident contentment came to his face and when a player stood to leave. A real smile leapt into play.  To reach the table, he needed to skirt about four large barrels parked in the way, stepping around them into the murky grayness, the floor disappeared beneath his boots.

To finish this tale check out my sories on ASJ Fanfiction -- The tale is called Portland http://asjfanfiction.wikifoundry.com/page/Portland or on FanFiction at http://www.fanfiction.net/u/4405211/WichitaRed

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:43 am

A client, most delightfully, cancelled giving the cat unexpected time on it's paws.  So...

AUTUMN 1855

“Alex, Hannibal, hurry up and get ready.  We’ll be late for church.”

Hannibal frowned.  Couldn’t his mother see he was busy?  If these new troops he’d had for his birthday went into battle without learning their drill…

“Hannibal, did you hear me?  Put your toys away…”  

Toys?!  Could she possibly be referring to his crack skirmishers?

“…You can play with them later.”

Play?!  Outraged brown eyes stared at Sarah Heyes as she swiftly dried the breakfast dishes.  He was not playing.

“A gen’ral is du-ty fulfilling,
When his troops are good at drilling.”

“You can drill them later.”

“A sol’jer does not brook delay
His duty’s…”

“Hannibal, what have you been told about answering back?”

The indignation writ large upon the small face intensified at this new evidence of how injustice stalked the land.  And, more specifically, stalked the Heyes’ place.

“I was quotin’!  Quotin’ isn’t ans’rin’ back.  It’s – it’s…”  Hannibal searched.  “It’s QUOTIN’!”

“To be fair, Sarah, he was quoting…”

Hannibal beamed at this support from his father.  Men had to stick together, huh?

“…AND, quoting a veritable literary genius, no less.   Now,” Alex scratched his head, as if trying hard to remember.  “…What was the name of that gifted author who wrote; A Birthday Gift for Hannibal, or the Pachyderm Package?”  

“It was – it was,” Hannibal bounced on his chair.  A small finger pointed.  “Mother.”

“So it was.”  A sorrowful shake of the dark head.  “She’s too dang smart for us, son.  If I were you, I’d do as she says and get ready for church.” Alex disappeared back behind the Kansas Enquirer.

A balled up damp tea towel smacked into the raised newspaper.

“Hey!”

“Alexander Heyes, if you don’t separate your posterior from that chair and get yourself and your son ready for church...!”  The threat remained unspoken.

“Can’t a man have…?”

“I am going to count to one.”

---oooOOOooo---

Hannibal, face newly washed and hair wet combed into a tidy parting, sat on the edge of his parents’ bed watching his father tie his necktie.

“Why’se we hafta wear ties to church?”

“Search me, son.  My money’s on a female conspiracy.”

“Huh?”

“It’s like putting dogs on a lead.  Just be grateful…”  Alex turned away from the mirror. “…Women are satisfied with a halter round our necks and don’t want to put a ring through our noses.”

Hannibal knew his father was only joshing.   He held out his own tie, in mute request.   Alex hunkered down knotted it and then turned down the linen collar.   Instead of straightening up he remained squatting, studying his son, intently.  

“What?” said Hannibal.  What the Sam Hill had he done now?

“Nothing.  Except…” With a sigh, Alex undid his earlier good work by ruffling the dark hair.  “You’re growing up so dang fast.”

Hannibal snorted.  Not fast enough!  He was still two inches shorter than Esther Curry.

“I think it’s about time you learnt to tie your own tie.  When we get back from church, I’ll teach you.”

---oooOOOooo---

Father and son sat side by side, facing the mirror above the dresser.   “Watch me first.  I’ll go real slow – then copy me.”

A youthful duplicate of his own features, nodded solemnly, brown eyes fixed intently on his throat.

“You cross the broad end – see how one end is wider - in front of the narrow end…”

“Whassit called?”

“Fold the… What do you mean, what’s it called?  It’s a necktie.”

“Knots are called diff’rent things ‘cos sailors give ‘em names.  Like when they splice the main brace.”  Kindly informative tone.  “That one’s a splice.   An’ Danny Boone, he uses a lariat loop.”

“Ah, I see what you mean.  Well this knot – if it was used sea – would be, I think, a buntline hitch.”

The small lips mouth, silently, committing this to memory.

“BUT, when it’s a necktie, this knot’s called a four-in-hand.  Now, watch.  You cross the broad end…”

“Why’sit called that?”

“I read somewhere it’s to do with how drivers with four horses tied their reins together.”

“’S’not reins though. It’s a necktie.”

“Well, since tying your own tie is a bit like learning to swim - one of those things you never forget once you’ve learnt – if you like, we can call it a Forget-Me-Knot.”

Hannibal considered this.  “Awright,” he said, indicating that his father – on this occasion – had fulfilled his obligation to act both as a fount of knowledge and as an ideas generation device.   “Carry on,” he gave permission.

“Thank you.  You fold the broad end behind the narrow end…”

---oooOOOooo---

“…Through the hole, Hannibal.  That’s it.  Don’t drop the other end.  Aww.  Nearly.”

“It won’t go!”  

“You’re doing fine,” said Alex.  He eyed the scarlet frustration on the dimpled face beside him.  “D’you want to leave it – try again tomorrow?   There’s no rush.”

Hannibal tugged the much abused strip of fabric over his head and glared at it.  

“No.”  Menacingly, “I’m gonna git this right even if I hafta...”  The woollen cloth is wrung like a chicken’s neck.  

“Okay.  Nice and slow.   We take the broad end…”

The door opened, just a crack.  Sarah Heyes smiled as the hands of her two menfolk – and the two mirror images - moved in quadruple unison.  Quietly, she shut the door.

---oooOOOooo---

“I did it!”  

Alex surveyed his son’s triumph.  The crumpled necktie would win awards for neither style nor hitting the epicentre of the collar.  But, it was definitely tied.

“You did it!  Well done.”  

“An’ – an’ I’ll always remember how?”

“You’ll always remember.”

A smug beam.  Then, “MOTHER!  Come see what I can do!”

---oooOOOooo---

VALPARAISO 1863

“HEYES!  If you’re not ready for church in two seconds flat…”  The older boy, responsible for the East dormitory left the threat unspoken.

Jostled by neighbouring elbows, but wary of discipline points for Sabbath untidiness, Hannibal gave a final glance in the pitted glass above the long row of wash-stands.  His thin hands slid the obligatory Sunday necktie snugly into place.  Smoothing down the collar, he raised his eyes.

His heart leapt in sudden, joyous recognition… He remembered…
Hannibal almost gasped as a nearly instantaneous gut punch of disappointment hit home.
Disappointment?  How could he be so dang dumb?  
He was looking into a mirror – who and what else did he expect to see?

Forget-me-knot.
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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:52 pm

Forget Me Not

The thick fog rolled past Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry as they stepped out of a carriage, grabbed their saddle bags and bed rolls, and paid the driver.

“Thanks,” Heyes said, as he handed the fare over.

The driver nodded and snapped the reins on the horses, leaving the two men in front of an impressive mansion on Nob Hill.

The Kid shivered.  “Always seems chilly in San Francisco, even in the summer.”

“Especially in the summer,” Heyes commented.  “I wonder why Silky wanted us to come?”

“Only one way to find out.”  Curry stepped up on the impressive porch, followed by his partner.  He lifted the brass door knocker and rapped it a few times.

A few minutes later, the door opened a crack.  “Yes?  May I help you?”

“Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones here to see Silky O’Sullivan,” Heyes announced.

The door opened wide.  “Mr. Smith… Mr. Jones, Mr. O’Sullivan will be relieved to see you.  He was wondering if you received his message.  Come in!”  An elderly man dressed immaculately ushered them into the foyer.  “May I have your bags and your jackets?”

Heyes and Curry set their bags and rolls on a bench, then removed their jackets, handing them to the butler.

“Nice to see you, James,” Heyes said as he took off his hat and set it by his bags.  “Is Silky around?”

“He’s been waiting for you.  Let me take you upstairs.”  James began to ascend the grand staircase.  

“Upstairs?” Heyes questioned the butler.

“Mr. O’Sullivan hasn’t been feeling well and has strict orders from the doctor to stay in bed.”

Curry and Heyes exchanged a look of concern as they followed the butler.  

“Silky’s sick?  Is it a cold?” the Kid asked.  “Pretty damp out there.”

“No, not a cold.”  James turned right at the landing.  “Are you hungry from your journey?”

“Nah.”  Curry shook his head.  “We had a quick meal before coming over so not to bother you.”

“It would have been no bother.  If you’re hungry later, come down to the kitchen and let me know.”

“Thanks, James,” Heyes said as they stopped in front of a door.

“One moment as I let him know you’ve arrived.”  James slipped through the door and shut it behind him.

“What’s up, Heyes?” the Kid whispered.

“I dunno, but I don’t like it.”

James opened the door opened wide.  “Mr. O’Sullivan will see you now.”

Heyes and Curry walked into a dimly-lit room with a warm fire keeping the temperature toasty.  A middle-aged woman, wearing a gray dress and a starched white apron, sat on a chair pulled close to the bed.  Nestled into the middle of the bed was their friend Silky O’Sullivan with his eyes closed.

“Silky?”  Heyes and Curry apprehensively approached the bed.

“It’s about time you two got here!” came a cantankerous response. “Go downstairs and have dinner – or something – Miss Fields.  I want to talk to my friends.”

“Are you sure, sir?”  The woman hesitated to stand up.

“Yes, I’m sure.  Now leave us alone!”

The nurse stood and walked to the door.  “If you need me…”

“Go!” the patient ordered.

Heyes and Curry grinned at each other as they came closer to the bed.

“Irritable as always, Silky,” Heyes commented.

“What kind of greeting is that?”  Silky pushed himself up on the pillows higher so he has sitting.  “Sit!”

Heyes and the Kid looked around and moved two chairs closer to the bed before sitting down.

“I suppose you’re thirsty after your trip,” Silky grumbled.  “Go get yourself a brandy.  There’s a decanter and glasses by the door.  Pour me one, too.”

Curry stood and went over to the silver tray that held a crystal decanter and glasses and poured the drinks.  “Should you be havin’ one?”

“I can have whatever I want – it’s my house!”

Silky’s indignant reply caused the Kid to glance at Heyes with a question in his eyes.  “I know, but…”

“But you don’t appear to be feeling well,” Heyes interrupted as he took the proffered glass.  “You even have a nurse.”

Silky took a sip and coughed, making Heyes and Curry lean forward until they were waved back.  “The doc says my ticker is slowing down, that’s all.”

“That’s all?!” Heyes sputtered.  “Are you saying what we think you are saying?”

“We all gotta go sometime.  Guess my time is coming sooner than later.”  Silky slowly sipped the drink and sighed as he sank further into the pillows.

Heyes and Kid sat with their old friend in companionable silence as they sipped their brandy.

“You know, boys, I’ve had a good life.  Got more than I deserved.  Done more than I imagined.”

“Includin’ bein’ Grandma Curry,” the Kid added.

Heyes gave his partner a look.  

The old man chuckled, “Yep.  Must’ve made a darn good looking woman, too, since that… was it the sheriff or deputy… well, one of them was flirting with me.  What happened to that Hannibal Heyes plan?  I wasn’t supposed to land in jail.”

Heyes rolled his eyes.  “Well, I got you out, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, we all made it out of that mess without a noose around our necks, especially that young man… What was his name?”

“Philpotts.  Fred Philpotts from Minnesota,” the Kid answered.  “Wonder what happened to him and Penny?”

“Probably have a brood of kids by now.”  Heyes finished his drink and set the glass on the bed stand.

“That was a close call for you two.”  Silky held out his glass.  “What are you sitting around for?  It’s your turn to pour the glasses, Heyes.”

“Yessir!” Heyes said as he gathered the snifters and filled them with more brandy.

“How long has it been since you gave up outlawing?” Silky asked when he reached for his snifter.

“Five years…” Heyes began.

“Five LONG years!” the Kid interrupted.

Heyes sighed as he sat.  “Silky, I’m not sure we did the right thing giving it up.  We were successful and had money…”

“And are darn lucky you aren’t dead or rotting in prison!”  Silky sipped his drink.  “I know it hasn’t been easy, but you made the right decision giving it up.  Hopefully the governor will come through and give you that amnesty.”

“I dunno, Silky.  Why bother when he has what he wants… the two of us out of the business.”

“Keep talking like that and the two of you will never get that amnesty!  You just keep on reminding the governor about his promise so he doesn’t forget about you.”

“Okay, Silky, we will.”  Heyes downed the rest of his drink.  “Is there anything we can do for you?  Get you?”

“Jus visiting with an old friend is what I wanted.  Soon you’ll forget me…”

“Forget you?  Not a chance!” Curry piped up.

“Not after all you’ve done for us through the years.”  Heyes watched Silky’s eyes getting heavy.  “We have time to visit more tomorrow.”

“Yeah.”  The Kid took the hint and took the tilting glass from their old friend’s hand.  “We’ll see you in the morning, Silky.”

“You better!  Now go to bed, both of you.  You must be tired from that long trip,” Silky slurred as he fought sleep.

“We are.  Night, Silky.”

“Night, Silky.”

Heyes and the Kid quietly left the room, glancing at their friend before shutting the door.


~ * ~ * ~


The next morning, Heyes and Curry went down to the dining room where James had a breakfast set out for them.

“Good morning, James.”  Heyes sat down as the butler poured their coffee.

“Morning.  How’s Silky this morning?” the Kid asked as he grabbed a piece of toast from a plate.

James set the coffee pot down and sat, looking forlorn.  “Mr. O’Sullivan passed away late last night.”

“Silky died last night?” Heyes asked, as he choked on his coffee.

“Yes.  Miss Fields said he died peacefully, with a smile on his face, muttering something about Grandma Curry.  I didn’t know he knew a Mrs. Curry.”

The Kid put his toast down, having lost his appetite.

“I’m glad you two made it here before he went – he thought fondly of you.”  James poured himself a coffee and sipped it.  “In fact, there’s an envelope in the study with your names on it.”

“Do you mind if we go see?” Heyes asked.

“No, go ahead.”  James waved them off as he stared ahead.

Heyes and the Kid went into Silky’s study and on the desk was an envelope addressed to Smith and Jones.  Heyes picked it up and looked at his partner.

“Go ahead and open it,” Curry encouraged.

Heyes found a letter opener and slit the envelope open.  He leaned on the desk as he unfolded the paper.

The Kid sat down in front of him.  “What’s it say?”

Heyes cleared his throat and began reading.

Heyes and Kid,

You did the right thing retiring from the business.  I know the governor will finally come through and give you that amnesty.

As an incentive to keep on pursuing it, I started two accounts at the First National Bank of Denver – one for Hannibal Heyes and one for Jed Curry – with $10,000 in each.  Once you get your amnesty and can legally use your real names to withdraw the funds, you’ll have some money to start your new lives.

No stealing the money… you hear!  You earn it!
Silky


Heyes let his hands fall to his leg as he clutched the letter and stared across the room.

“I… I didn’t expect that.”  The Kid sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair.

“I didn’t, either.”  Heyes sat next to his partner.  “I don’t know what to say.”

After a few minutes, Curry broke the silence.  “Silky sure was a good friend.”

“Yeah, a good friend indeed.”  Heyes got up and poured two brandies from a bar.  He handed one to the Kid.  “A toast… to our friend Silky O’Sullivan.”

“To Silky!” the Kid said as they clinked glasses and had a drink.



The viewers of Alias Smith and Jones will never forget Walter Brennan, who was in three episodes and played two wonderful characters – Silky O’Sullivan in “The Day They Hanged Kid Curry” and “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” and Gantry in “21 Days to Tenstrike”.  Those characters are so different from one another that they don’t seem to be the same actor.

A little about Walter Brennan…
He was born on July 25, 1894 in Lynn, Massachusetts.  While in school he became interested in acting and did some work in vaudeville and in small musical comedy companies before entering the military in 1917.  He served in an artillery unit and although he got through the war without being wounded, his exposure to poison gas ruined his vocal chords, leaving him with the high-pitched voice texture that made him a natural for old man roles while still in his thirties.  He could play sophisticated businessmen, con artists, local yokels, cowhands and military officers with apparent equal ease. An accident in 1932 cost him most of his teeth, and he most often was seen in eccentric rural parts, often playing characters much older than his actual age.  He was the first actor to accumulate three Academy Awards and to date still the only actor to win three Oscars as Best Supporting Actor.  He also had a music career and had four top 100 singles, including the Top 5 hit “Old Rivers”.  He died in 1974 of emphysema, a few years after being in Alias Smith and Jones.  (tidbits from imdb.com’s biography of Walter Brennan)

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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:18 pm

I am a wire dodger!Very Happy 

Forget-Me-Not
By Maz McCoy

Friday Afternoon
Abner Weed tied his mule to the hitching post in front of the saloon and gave her a pat on the neck. “You wait right here ol’ gal,” he said affectionately.

The mule was laden with two packs, a pick axe, shovel, ropes and a bucket. She peered at Abner from under the brim of a cowboy hat in which two holes had been cut for her ears to pass through.

“I know, I know,” Abner continued as if the mule had spoken to him. “But it’ll be jus’ one drink and a handa poker.” With a final pat to her neck he turned, climbed the three steps onto the boardwalk and pushed through the bat wing doors into the saloon.

Inside the saloon was welcomingly cool and empty except for the bartender and a group of men seated at a table playing poker. All eyes looked up when Abner entered, watching the dusty old prospector head towards the bar.
“Afternoon, Abner,” Mike the barman said as he picked up a bottle and glass. “The usual?”

“Yup.” The old man licked his lips as he watched the glass fill with whiskey. It was placed on the bar in front of him. Abner’s grubby fingers closed around it and he downed it in one grateful swallow. He gave a contented sigh. “Same again.”

Mike obliged, pouring another glassful as Abner felt in his pockets for something. A moment later he pulled out a pipe and a bag of tobacco.

“How’s my tab?” Abner asked as he pushed tobacco into the bowl of the pipe with his thumb.

“Paid up ‘til Doomsday.” Mike smiled.

“In that case I’ll take the bottle.” Balancing the glass and bottle in one hand and his pipe in the other Abner shuffled across the room to the poker table. “Got room for one more, fellas?”

***

Hannibal Heyes looked up from his cards, his expression unreadable. Kid Curry looked up from his cards and his expression didn’t change. Abner Weed looked up from his cards and grinned.

The dealer slid a card to the next player who looked at it muttered a cuss word and threw the cards on the table. The next man wanted two cards but they did him no good. His cards hit the table face down in disgust. Kid took one card spread his hand carefully then threw them away. It was between Heyes and Abner now. Both men declined a card.

“I hope you got enough money in that pile, son.” Abner waved a hand at the pile of coins and notes in front of Heyes.

“More than you have if you want to see my cards, old timer,” Heyes replied.

Abner chuckled. “Son, I reckon I got more money than King Solomon himself. I also got me the perfect hand.”
Coins clinked and notes rustled as money entered the pot. Kid watched Heyes with amusement. His partner was enjoying himself.

“Old timer, you talk a lot but I can see what’s in front of you. That’s not enough to see these cards.”

“I ain’t got the cash on me that’s for sure. Will you take somethin’ as collateral?”

“Not if it’s your hat.”

Abner chuckled. His hat had to be older than he was and twice as dusty. He turned towards the bar. “Mike, tell this young fella I’m good for a dollar or two.”

“That old man could buy my saloon outright with what he’s dug outta the ground,” Mike informed them helpfully. “If he says he’ll pay ya, he’ll pay ya.”

Heyes looked at Kid who shrugged. It was Heyes’ call. Brown eyes narrowed then he said, “All right.”

Abner asked for pencil and paper which Mike provided. The old man scribbled something on the paper then held it up. “A note okay?” Heyes nodded and the old man placed it on top of the pot. “I reckon that’s more than equivalent to my fifty dollar bet.”

Heyes laid his cards face up on the table. And Abner swore. “I’da bet my last dollar you didn’t have that ace.”

Heyes picked up the piece of paper. “Well, let’s see what you did bet.” He opened the paper and his smile faded to a frown. Kid looked worried. Heyes read aloud. “I owe you fifty dollars. I grant you sole custody and care of Forget-Me-Not until the money is handed over to you. Abner Weed.” Heyes brow furrowed, confused.

The old man nodded, satisfied.

“Who’s Forget-Me-Not?” Kid asked.

Abner smiled. “My Mule.”

***

“A mule!” Kid scoffed. “You accepted a mule as collateral.” He sidestepped a pile of horse manure that lay steaming in the street.

“You don’t have to tell me, I was there. I know what I did.” Heyes tugged on the rope attached to the mule’s halter. Forget-Me-Not obligingly followed them towards the livery stable. “Besides you heard what the bartender said; Abner’s dug a fortune out of his mine. Once the bank opens on Monday morning we’ll get our money.”

“Yeah, and it’ll have cost us the price of a stall and feed for three days. That old man’s not stupid.”

They reached the livery and Brody Rees, a tall broad shouldered Welshman, stepped into the doorway to greet them. “What can I do for you fellas?”

Heyes gave him a genial smile. “We’d like room and board for the lady here.” He jerked a thumb in Forget-Me-Not’s direction.

Rees looked at the mule’s cowboy hat as he wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “That ol’ Forget-Me-Not?”

“It is.”

“Abner lose a bet to ya?”

Kid’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah.”

Rees smiled. “He does that a lot. I’ll give you the same rate as for ya horses.” He reached out a hand and took the rope from Heyes. He chuckled as he led the mule away. “Abner’s pulled this one a time or two.”

Kid looked at Heyes. “He has, has he?”

“Yeah. He’s sorta known for it.”

“Imagine that.”

Heyes shrugged. “Let’s go eat.”

Kid fixed him with a look. “That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all day.”

***

Saturday morning

The stall was empty.

“Where is she?” Heyes demanded.

Rees looked up from where he was shovelling soiled hay into a wheelbarrow. “Guess she went for a walk.”

“What?” Heyes looked again at the stall as if expecting Forget-Me-Not to reappear.

Kid settled his hands on his hips. “We paid you for…”

“Board and feed and that’s what you got. You never asked me to see she didn’t wander off if she felt like it.”

“If she felt like it?” Heyes’ found himself uncharacteristically lost for words.

“How d’you know she wasn’t stolen?” Kid asked.

“Forget-Me-Not? Never. She goes wanderin’ all the time. I’m surprised Abner didn’t tell ya.”

Kid looked at Heyes. “I’m surprised about that too, ain’t you, Joshua?”

Heyes refused to comment.

***
“Don’t worry boys,” Abner said reassuringly as he shovelled his breakfast into the gap in his beard where he presumably kept his mouth.

Kid and Heyes sat across the table from him in the small town cafeteria. Despite having eaten earlier the smell of the bacon on Abner’s plate and the aroma of coffee in the air made their stomachs’ rumble.

“Ol’ Forget-Me-Not likes to take a walk now and then. She’ll probably be on the road east of town or down by the pond. You’ll find her.” He shovelled a forkful of beans into his mouth. “Course if you don’t I can’t give ya your money.”

Kid shot Heyes a look.

***
Kid Curry sat on his horse just east of town. His left leg was looped casually over the saddle horn, arms rested on his knee as he watched Hannibal Heyes, feared leader of the infamous Devil’s Hole Gang trying to persuade a mule in a cowboy hat to stop eating the flowers at the side of the road and follow him back to town.

“Got everythin’ under control there, Heyes?” Kid asked helpfully.

“Yes!” Heyes grasped the mule’s halter tightly and pulled. Nothing happened. He pulled again. Forget-Me-Not ignored him and continued to chomp on a rather tasty bush. Heyes dug his heels into the ground and heaved. The mule didn’t budge. He muttered something best not repeated in the presence of ladies and moved to the rear and began to shove the animal’s rump.

“Not sure you should touch a lady’s behind without askin’,” Kid observed.

“If she doesn’t want me round her she can…” Heyes felt a hard thump, a pain shot through his right thigh and then he was lying on the ground looking up at a circling turkey buzzard.

Kid jumped off his horse and stood over his friend. “You okay?”

“I think she broke my leg.” Heyes clasped his thigh and winced.

Kid held out his hand. “Let’s see if you can stand.”

“How can I stand if she broke my leg?”

“Maybe she didn’t break it.” Kid used his most patient tone.

Heyes caught hold of Kid’s wrist and let his friend pull him to his feet. He took a moment to steady himself.
Kid looked at him “Well?”

“Guess she didn’t break it after all, but I bet they’ll be a bruise!” He looked up. “Where the heck is she?”

Kid spun around. No Forget-Me-Not. He turned full circle and pointed. The mule was heading back to town.


***

“Do you see that?” Heyes asked. He sat on his side of the bed the lower half of his union suit around his ankles.
Standing in front of the mirror, Kid ignored him as he continued to shave.

“Look at the size of it!”

Peering into the mirror Kid paused, the razor still pressed against his soap covered chin. He could see Heyes pointing at his lower half. “Please tell me you’re talkin’ about the bruise.”

“Huh?”

“Nothin’.”

Heyes shook his head. “This thing’s gone purple already.”

Kid looked at his reflection in the mirror. What the heck could he say to that?

Sunday morning

“Again?” Kid stared at the empty stall.

“It’s Sunday, maybe she’s gone to church,” Rees offered with a smile as he carried a bale of hay into an empty stall.

“How’d she get out?” Heyes asked as he flicked the stall’s catch up and down.

“She lets herself out.” He looked over at the men and realised they expected more of an explanation. “She lifts the latch. Damn clever mule.”

“And knowing that you couldn’t have locked it?” Heyes could hardly contain his disbelief. He limped over to a bale of hay and sat down.

“If you wanted me to lock her in you shoulda told me,” Rees informed him. “Padlocks are extra.”

***
“Any sign?” Heyes called.

“Nope,” Kid replied as he urged his horse up the hill to meet Heyes astride his own mount at the top.

“Where the heck can she be?”

“One of them rhetoricals?”

“No!” Heyes’ eyes scanned the open plain. “I thought you might have an idea seeing as you’re both so stubborn an’ all.”

“I’ll let that pass seein’ as how you took her as collateral in the first place. I mean you could have read the note Abner threw in the pot.”

Heyes ignored the remarks. Kid looked around not expecting to find the…His eyes narrowed on something moving in the distance. A mule wearing a cowboy hat was making her way towards the distant escarpment.

“Where d’you think she’s going?” Heyes asked as his horse followed Kid’s.

“Why are you so convinced I have any idea what a mule’s thinkin’?”

“Takes one to know one.”

“Heyes, just ‘cos she kicked ya, don’t take it out on me.”

“You coulda helped.”

“Yeah. I coulda kicked your other leg.”

***

Heyes flipped the latch on the stall where Forget-Me-Not now stood chomping on a bale of hay. He attached a padlock and secured it, giving a reassuring tug on it before he let it drop from his hand. Heyes headed towards the livery exit and spotted Kid’s silhouette as he stood leaning against the wall. Six feet tall, cowboy hat hiding his eyes, gun hanging on his hip. He felt a knot tighten in his stomach. Every once in a while he was reminded just how dangerous Kid could look and the price his friend paid for his reputation as a gunslinger.

“Gotcha girlfriend settled in?” Kid asked as he pushed off the wall.

Heyes smiled. “I think she’s more your type.”

Kid followed him as he limped down Main Street. “Wasn’t she impressed by your silver tongue?”

Heyes chose to ignore him. “You owe me a beer.” He stepped onto the boardwalk.

“How d’you work that out?”

“It’s Sunday.”

“So?”

“Last Sunday I bought the beers.”

“You’re keepin’ score?”

“We’re partners, we’re supposed to share things evenly.”

“Well, I’ve bought a few beers since last Sunday.”

“I’m not counting incidentals.” Heyes crossed the street heading to the saloon.

“Incidentals? What the heck are incidentals?”

***
Monday Morning
“Boys.”

Kid and Heyes looked up from their table in the cafeteria and found Abner Weed standing before them.

“Abner,” they chorused before each man shoved a forkful of food into his mouth.

“Got my money?” Heyes asked, his cheeks were stuffed with partially chewed food.

“Sadly, Joshua, I ain’t.”

“Bank not open?” Kid asked as he took a drink of coffee to wash down the beans.

“It’s open.”

“So what’s the problem?” Heyes wiped his mouth with his napkin and picked up his own coffee cup.

“Forget-Me-Not ain’t in her stall.”

“Oh yes she is,” Heyes assured him. “I locked her in myself last night.”

“Well, she ain’t there this mornin’. I can’t give you your money if I don’t get my mule back.”

Kid looked at Heyes. Heyes looked at Abner. “She couldn’t have let herself out.”

Abner looked at Kid and shrugged. “She ain’t there.”

Confused, Heyes came to a decision. “She can’t have gone far. Thaddeus and I will find her.” He pushed back his chair and stood up.

Kid didn’t reply but his expression suggested he was getting fed up with the we part of Heyes’ plans. He scooped as much of the remaining beans as he could onto his fork and shoved them quickly into his mouth.

Abner smiled. “Thanks fellas. I’m right fond of my gal Forget-Me-Not. I’ll wait for you at the saloon.”

As Abner headed for the door Kid waved a gravy covered fork at Heyes. “You know for all the time and effort that mule’s cost us youda been better off losing.”

***

“There.” Kid pointed to the escarpment they had found Forget-Me-Not wandering towards the previous day. The mule plodded along a rough trail towards a distinctive rocky outcrop. The outlaws urged their horses in the mules’ direction eager to take her back to town and collect Heyes’ $50.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Heyes asked.

“Does it involve a saloon gal and a lot of beer?”

“No.”

“Then I’m not thinkin’ what you’re thinkin’.”

“I’m thinking she knows where she’s going.”

“The mule?”

“Yeah.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because she was going the same way yesterday and…”

“You think she’s goin’ back to the mine?”

Heyes smiled as he studied his friend’s face. “My genius really is wearing off on you.”

“You want to follow her?”

“To the mine?”

“Yeah.”
Heyes considered this then sadly shook his head. “Wouldn’t be much point? It’s not our mine.”

Kid smiled. “You’ve turned honest, Heyes.”

“No, just staying outta trouble.”

***

“There’s your money, son.” Abner handed Heyes a wodge of notes. Heyes counted it, smiled and then handed Forget-Me-Not’s halter rope to the old miner.

“Why d’you call her Forget-Me-Not?” Kid asked.

“Hadta name her somethin’.” Abner informed him and Kid nodded. “Besides it describes her well. She remembers where we live. It don’t matter how drunk or sick I get, she’ll always take me home.” He patted the mule’s neck affectionately then looked up at the men. “But then I reckon you know that don’tcha?”

The partners exchanged a look. “What makes you think that?” Heyes asked innocently.

“You followed her. She always went the same way, right?”

“Yeah.” Kid agreed.

“Yet you never let her take you to my mine. Why?” The weather-beaten face looked from one man to the other.

“Just naturally honest, I guess,” Heyes informed him.

Abner chuckled. “Guess that’s it all right.”

“If that’s the case you took a risk letting us look after her.”

Abner looked from Kid to Heyes. “I don’t think so. I read faces real well.” Without another word he led Forget-Me-Not away.

“What d’you think he meant by that?” Kid asked.

“Huh?”

“I said…” Kid realised Heyes wasn’t listening to him. “What is it?”

Brown eyes looked up at his friend. “How did she get out of that stall?”

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PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:57 pm

Howdy All.  It has been so long since I have written a challenge that I hope I remember what the boys should sound like.

Broken Petals


He noticed the basket first.  It was the flowers.  Five tiny petals in shades of blue and lavender circling a sunny center.  Forget-me-nots.  

The beer roiled in his stomach and shoved against the sudden constriction in his throat.  He closed his blue eyes and willed his breathing to slow.  He swallowed.  Opened his eyes.  Swallowed again.  Tiny white fingers gripped the basket handle and peeked out of blue petals.  

“Is something ailing you, mister?...  Mister?...  What is it.”

The concern in her voice pulled his eyes to her face.  Errant, blond tendrils curled about her ears where the hair had slipped free of her braids.  Wide hazel eyes studied him.  

She tried again.  “Mister?  You ailing?”

Kid Curry reached down deep and found a smile for the small child.  “Ye- uh.”  He coughed and cleared his throat.   “I'm fine.  Thanks for askin'.”  His lips smiled again, but it failed to reach his eyes.  

She extended her arm displaying a bundle of blue petals and leaves clasped between her fingers.  The floral bundle was tied with a string.  “Only a penny, mister.  Buy a bunch for your sweetheart?”  

Curry dug into his pocket and handed the young vendor three pennies.  With a wide grin, she offered three large bunches.  “Thank you, mister.”

*******

Shafts of silver moonlight painted the room in shades of charcoal and ashes.   Matted blond curls, washed gray in the wan light, crowned a head resting against a worn headboard.  Legs stretched the length of the bed and ended in stockinged feet crossed at the ankles.  

A muffled click broke the silence just before a crack of light shot across the floor.  The barrel of a colt pointed at the door.  Hannibal Heyes paused until his partner re-holstered his gun.

“Why are you sitting in the dark?  I thought you were asleep.”  Heyes lit the lamp near the door and turned toward the bed.

“Just thinkin'.”

“Thinking?”  Brows raised over brown eyes.  “At two in the morning?  In the dark?”  He grinned.  “I thought we had a deal about thinking.”

“Yeah, Heyes, I know.”

“I thought you were coming back to here to catch up on some sleep.  What's so interesting that it's keeping you up in the middle of the night?”

“Hmm.”

The old bed creaked as Heyes sat on the side near the door and toed off his boots.

“So what are you thinking about?”

“How much did you win?”

“Trying to distract me won't work.”  Heyes turned to face his partner with a wide grin.  “I still want to –” Heyes stared at the crumpled blue petals in Curry's fist.  “Forget-me-nots?”

“Leave it, Heyes.”

The dark eyed partner ran his fingers through his hair and sighed.  He caught the gaze of the other man.  “It was a long time ago, Kid.  Why are you thinking about this now?”  He unbuckled his gun belt and hung it from the bed post.    “And where did the flowers come from?”

“There was this little girl selling bunches of flowers on the hotel porch.”

“Let me guess, she had blond curls and pigtails.”

“Just let it go, will ya, Heyes?”

“I'm not the one brooding in the middle of the night.”  He turned down the lamp and crawled into bed.

******  
The sun had just begun to paint rose highlights on the clouds stretched thin across the sky.  The quilt on the hotel bed scrunched and pulled with jerky twists.  A groan escaped from deep in the bedding.  Kid Curry fought his way free of the covers and sat up, panting into the light tinged darkness.

“Bad dream?” asked the rumpled lump on the far side of the bed.

“What are you doin' awake?”

“Hard to sleep when the bed keeps moving and you keep groaning.  Your late night thinking has gotten loud.”  Heyes pushed himself up and studied his partner in the gloom.  “She's fine, Kid.”

Blue eyes turned steely and glared.  “Who?” The stubborn set to his jaw dared his partner to answer.  

Heyes rolled his eyes and snorted.  “Your little sister, Alice Curry.”

Early birds chirped into the silence.  

“She asked me to remember her.”

The light gathered and spread in the dingy hotel room.

“She gave me a bunch of forget-me-nots.”

Heyes waited.

“How do yo know she's fine?”

“Kid, she was adopted by a real nice couple.  Respectable folk.  I'm sure she's fine.”

Kid Curry stared at the ruined blue petals scattered on the bedside table.  “She said that the forget-me-nots were to help me remember her.  I promised to never forget.”

“You haven't forgotten her.”

“It sure must look like I forgot her to her.”

“Kid, you were ten years old.  It's been almost twenty years.  Alice is a grown woman.  She's probably married to a farmer or a shopkeeper and raising a bunch of children.”

“Oh that makes me feel much better, Heyes.  Not only have I forgotten my only living sister, but my nieces and nephews as well.”

“You didn't forget them.”

“I haven't let her know that.”

“Kid, be reasonable.  You don't even know for sure where she is.”

“We could find her.”

“Maybe, but then what?  She was raised by a respectable couple.  If she is married with a family, what are you going to bring her if we track her down?  A visit from her brother, Kid Curry, gunfighter and wanted outlaw.  Do you think she will appreciate the bounty hunters staking out her home waiting to see if her brother shows up again.  Does her husband even know that you are her blood kin?  Face it, Kid, we don't have a lot to offer to a respectable woman.  Leave it be.  She knows that you remember her.”

"Maybe."
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Remuda

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Posts : 111
Join date : 2013-10-27
Age : 42

PostSubject: Re: August 2013 - Forget Me Not...   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:26 pm

This story was inspired by this prompt, so thought I'd post it.  Hopefully, better late than never.

Memories Are Forever

“Do you think he knows, Heyes, somehow?”

The outlaw leader contemplated the question.  From what he had heard, they seemed so innately attuned, but feelings only extended so far.  “Maybe, but …”  He made brief eye contact before looking away.  “No. He hasn’t seen this yet.”

“I’ll be back at the bunkhouse.”

“Lobo?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t tell any of the boys.  And keep an eye out for Kid.  When he rides in, tell him I want to see him right away.”

~~~ooo~~~

Memories come and go as cobwebs with the wind.  Grainy and ethereal, clear and colorful, barely remembered at all, they march through time, and minds, insinuating themselves at the least convenient moment.  Indeed, their very, transitory nature can leave one elated, unsettled, or pondering; or far from the status quo of a comfortable middle.  

Hannibal Heyes was just sad.

He stood by the hearth, staring at a fire just built up.  It flickered as if mad from the draughts overhead.  Memories surfaced.  

She had caught his eye first, but poker won the day.  When his partner arrived later, the flitting barmaid struck up the usual conversation.  The gambler noticed as said partner seemed to enjoy her company, buying her a drink, another, a third.  Before long, partner and barmaid were ensconced at a table situated so as to best both watch the gambler’s back and have a little privacy.

On the gambler’s breaks, he and partner acknowledged each other with an imperceptible nod, raised brow, amused smile.  Poker was his lady today; he conceded his partner the other.

At evening’s end, he stood, stretching the muscles positioned in one place far too long.  The establishment was empty save for the occupants of his table, his partner, and those there employed.  He indicated the door.  The partner answered with a subtle shake of his head and nod to the girl in his arm.  Heyes left, alone.

~~~ooo~~~

Fleeting or static though they might be, memories unfold as a rose, petal by petal, layer by layer, until – maybe – fully revealed.  Good ones soften over time, their clarity as gossamer.  Those less pleasant we bury, if we can; deny or forget, perhaps.  But treasured are the good ones, kept dear, and close to heart and soul.  Evocative, emotional, ecstatic, evasive, memories are as to experience.  

Kid Curry remembered.

A certain barmaid had captured his attention one night as he settled in to watch his partner’s back.  The relaxed evening meant she could sit with one customer for longer than the usual few minutes, as long as he bought drinks, and he did – he drank only a few, though; she drank nearly too much.  

His partner did well in his poker pursuits; nothing new there.  And when closing time rolled around, he declined his partner’s company, wanting to see the tired barmaid home.  He did not join Heyes until morning.

A supply trip undertaken by two leaders of a notorious outlaw gang could be dangerous; best to send subordinates.  But leaders deserve some time away, too.  They took advantage of an opportunity to breathe, unknown as they were in this slip of a town recently founded on a new piece of railroad track – and no sheriff.

Supplies ordered, they paid the shopkeeper’s son to pack the wagon; kept the boy out of trouble, gave them time for a beer.  

As Curry entered the saloon, his eyes eagerly sought out and locked with hers.  She came over.  He bought her a drink.  They adjourned yet again to a table.  

Left to his own company, his partner ordered a beer, conversed with the bartender, ordered another drink, glanced over his shoulder.  Kid and the girl whispered, heads together, smiled as only two knowing conspirators could, the world blocked from view, and mind.

The shopkeeper’s son entered, spoke to Heyes for a short time.  They exchanged money.  The boy left.

The brown-eyed outlaw approached the table.  Curry did not notice.  The partner waited, as patient as the proverbial saint.  Nothing.  Heyes cleared his throat; and again.  Kid and the barmaid looked up.

The partner tipped his hat, smiled at the girl.  “Pardon me, ma’am.”  To him, “It’s time we get going.”

“Already?”

“Um hmm.”

“Wagon’s all packed?”

“Yep.”

“Didn’t you want to play more poker before leavin’?”

“Um, no tables going right now; too early in the day.  And we have a long trip ahead.”

“Oh.  Okay. … You go on ahead.  I’ll catch up.”

“Can I see you … alone?”  A nod to the other side of the room.

“Um … right now?”

The girl followed them with her eyes.

“Yes.”

With reluctance, he rose, whispered something to the young woman.  With continuing conspiracy, she smiled.

Five minutes later, he returned to her, Heyes exiting the establishment.  Two days on, he left as well, Lobo having been dispatched to fetch him.

~~~ooo~~~

Yes, memories.  Those of a shared childhood and growing up are especially recalled, often with great delight; sometimes, though, with sadness, anger.  But kids are adaptable, or so it is said, and they were, as they had to be.  The elder watched out for the younger, the younger sometimes for the elder; both for the other, as the need arose.  Their mutual adventures, scrapes, and experiences forged a bond stronger than iron; brothers they might well have been.  But bonds – familial or otherwise – can be broken, or threatened.  

Hannibal Heyes gathered his thoughts.

Lobo returned forthwith with his tardy partner.  Perhaps it was a good thing said partner had heeded his message; he would have hated to mete it out, especially in front of the men.  Instead, they spoke quietly into the night – discussed plans, hopes for the future, where they saw themselves in five, ten years.  Heyes really could not answer that question; Curry could.  Was a normal family life difficult to imagine for them; could it be achieved?  Well, maybe, but only if they were not caught and thrown in the penitentiary to rot for twenty-odd years.  Wide-eyed wonderment at the number:  How many years?  That was almost a lifetime; into the next century.

And the girl?  Curry had never felt this way before.  The attraction was quick, strong, unbelievably intoxicating.  The blond man could drink her with his eyes, take her whole being in his own and get lost in it, not wanting to return to the world at large.

Heyes could hear it all.  

“She’s young.”  “Old enough.”  

“You’re a wanted man.”  “I’ll settle down.”  

“The bounty on your head?”  “We’ll go north over the border and no one will ever notice.”  

“What about us?”  “We’re family and always will be.”  

And on, and on.

In the morning, Curry rode out, in the direction of the town.

~~~ooo~~~
 
And what of memories ongoing – in the present moment, the here, the now?   They can overwhelm with their intensity, fresh as they are.  They are being lived.  Each step we take is another ahead, looking forward.  Back is for naught; it is over, and that second, part of the treasure of the mind.  And of the bad times?  They are there as well:  To acknowledge, but from which we step aside, hoping the next minute to return to the walk with that which is most wanted, desired.  Clarity sharp, edges not yet frayed, the picture is as a photograph just snapped, the long-held pose for the camera imbibing images on a plate, forever there for recall, until destroyed; or forgotten.  

Kid Curry would not forget.

He stayed with her a month.  Days spent doing whatever they wanted.  At his insistence, she left her position.  A barmaid was fine if she had to support herself, but a man with jingle in his pocket to spare, and then some, had no need of a woman to work.  

His partner stayed away.  But Lobo showed up once.  

“How are you?”  “Tell Heyes I’m fine.”

“When are you coming back?”  “I don’t know.”  

“There’s a job coming up.”  “That life isn’t for me right now.”

“What about your partner’s back?”

The question reverberated, rung in his ears as loudly as any tintinnabulation from a too-near gunshot whizzing by.  He felt torn.  Old loyalties died hard.  Did they have to?  Could a man serve two masters, at opposite ends of an ideal still shadowy, undefined?  Desired, yet possibly fleeting?  

If experience to this point had taught him anything, it was that life was transitory, that what was in hand right then could be gone in a swoop, or might last another day.  Best to hold tight to what one had at that second, etching it onto his mind, hoping it did not get lost in the clutter of outlawry.  And so, he did.

Carefree as the wind, he took her riding; she cooked him dinner.

She read to him; he listened.

They laughed, together.

He took her in his arms; she responded.

That last night, he watched her sleep, the dim illumination from a withering flame dancing off her hair, flickering onto the wall opposite.  He put his arm around and nestled in behind her.  That perfect, nocturnal shadow blazed ever so bright before slumber overtook him.

The next morning, he put her on a train headed east.  Her father had fallen ill and she had to tend to him.  She would return.

~~~ooo~~~

Memories.  Seen from afar, from another’s vantage point, they might exist, but barely.  The neutral party sees the people, the situations, the incidents, in a jumble, piecemeal, unable possibly to glean the whole impact upon another.  But the words were clear.  

Lobo Riggs understood.  

And, after he delivered the telegram meant for Mr. Hotchkiss to his boss at the cabin, so too did Hannibal Heyes.

Now, one does not usually read what is not addressed to him, but here, the words laid bare, stop, clear, stop, cold, stop, black and white, stop.  The men could not but feel the impact.  Stop.

Kid Curry, also known as Mr. Hotchkiss, rode in shortly thereafter.  The expression Lobo wore gave him pause, especially when the subordinate offered to take his horse.  Heyes wanted to see him, right quick.

He opened the door to their shared cabin.  Lips pursed, the silver tongue silent, Heyes proffered a piece of paper.  He hesitated, took it.  

From her father; simple words, but so final:  “Return stagecoach robbed and overturned.  Stop.  Two passengers and driver dead.  Stop.  I mourn her too.  Stop.”

Choking back a rising gulp in his throat as the words on the page blurred, he closed his eyes tight, furiously blinking back tears.  Gasping for breath, he tore through the door frame, pushed Lobo out of the way, grabbed the reins of the nearest mount.  He frenetically spurred the animal away.

~~~ooo~~~

Kid Curry galloped full out across the Hole.  The wind in his face reminded of a happier time.  He could see her countenance aglow with the sun at her back, the little chirp she made to the horse attempting to settle it, the way she scrunched her nose at an odd angle when he said something she did not comprehend, how she giggled with mirth as she called him old man.  So many other moments …

But she was gone, ripped from him by such as himself.  The irony of it all was not lost on him.  Damn it!

He had the memories.  They would have to suffice.    

And he would never forget.
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