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 Nov 2013 - Verdict

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Calico

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PostSubject: Nov 2013 - Verdict   Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:46 am

:I was a struggling and a thinking this month for a topic.

SO, I opened (cue music) "The List"...

And then I used a random number generator to make the choice...

So,

Decision taken only moments ago.

Sharpen your pencils and your wits to tackle the November topic of:



"Verdict"



Woah - far too easy for all you brainy clever clogs.


I predict a touch of angst! Meow.
:anothercat: 


(Suggestions for (cue music) 'The List' - always welcome. They may not get picked soon, but they are all saved!)
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Nov 2013 - Verdict   Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:49 pm

Verdict
By Maz McCoy


“Any news?” the man asked as he placed his beer on the saloon table then pulled out a chair and sat down.

The grey-haired man opposite him shook his head. “Not yet.” Lost in thought he studied his beer before a slurping sound made him look up. His friend had his face close to the top of the beer and he was sucking the liquid into his mouth. “Do you hafta do that?”

“Well, sheesh, Wheat, since I lost ma teeth I cain’t suck so good.”

“Can’t you at least pick it up?” Wheat Carlson picked up his own beer and took a long swallow.

“I got rheumatism in my hands,” Kyle Murtry complained.

“You think I don’t have aches and pains too?”

“I know you do, you’re always tellin’ me about ‘em. You got a bad hip and it hurts when you sit a horse for too long since you got p….”

“All right!” Wheat scowled as he scanned the bar.

“Whatcha lookin’ for?”

“I was hoping to catch the bar maid’s eye. It’d save me the walk to get another beer.”

“Feet playin’ up too?”

“I got a corn on my toe again.”

“Doc reckons I got a bunion. You got any idea what one of them is, cos I don’t? All I know is I cain’t get ma boots on like I used ta.”

“I’d be happy just to be able to reach my boots. The ground sure seems to be gettin’ further away each day.”

Kyle pushed back his chair and eased himself to his feet. “I’ll go get us another beer.”

“Thanks, Kyle.”

“My pleasure, Wheat.”

Carlson watched his friend moving slowly between the tables as he headed towards the bar. Kyle was more hunched over than he had been the last time they’d met. He shuffled more too. Heck, none of them were as fast as they used to be, which was one reason he was sitting in the saloon in the first place.

The man waiting in the jail across the street had been too slow to escape the sheriff. His back had seized up just as he made a jump for the train and he’d ended up lying on the station platform in agony. It had taken two deputies to get him to his feet before they could march him to the jail. Now he sat on an unsuitable bed waiting for the jury to deliver their verdict. Having heard how hard the beds in the Wyoming Territorial Prison were he wasn’t sure which way he wanted to jury to vote.

Wheat had been shocked at how thin his friend had become. The youthful light was gone from his eyes replaced by a tiredness in his soul. He’d seen it first when they lost his partner. Watched the light fade and the bitterness grow. Now the man he had known and admired for so many years was a shadow of his former self. This was not a man to be feared. Not a man to send to prison for twenty years.

“I heard the bartender say the jury’s coming back.” Kyle’s hands shook as he placed two half full beer glasses on the table.

“They serving halves now?” Wheat asked.

“Nope.” Kyle sat, and then leaned closer to his friend. “If the jury finds him guilty, what we gonna do?”

“What the heck can we do?”

Kyle lowered his voice to a whisper. “Well, I brought dynamite.”

“What? Speak up; you know ma hearin’s goin’.”

“I said I brought dynamite.”

“And just what the heck do you plan to do with it?”

“We could break him outta jail.”

“And how we gonna get away?

“I don’t know, Wheat, you’re the brains.”

_________________
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: Nov 2013 - Verdict   Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:48 pm

NOT for polling since I'm enjoying the boys' visit this month, but I have to keep up with my challenge of always writing a challenge.  Heyes and the Kid have been chatting away and helping me with story plots this month - gonna miss them when they move on.
 
Thanksgiving at the Hole
 
Heyes put the pen back in the inkwell and sighed contently.  “There!” he said as he gazed at his latest masterpiece.
 
Curry came around the table and peered over his partner’s shoulder.  “Looks good, Heyes, except for one thing – some of them folks can’t read.”
 
Heyes frowned.  “How do they survive in this world without reading?”
 
“They don’t,” the Kid replied.  “That’s why they’re outlaws and take orders from us.”  He took the pen.  “Give that to me.”
 
“What are you doing?”  Heyes handed over the paper.
 
Kid Curry scratched on the bottom of the paper for a few minutes, grinned, and turned the paper over.
 
“You drew a gun pointed at a turkey?!”
 
“Yep – even Kyle will understand now that if he shoots a turkey, he gets $100.”
 
“Okay.”  Heyes stood up from the table.  “Let’s get this posted so they know.”
 
The two leaders of the Devil’s Hole Gang went out of their cabin to the bunkhouse in the early hours of the morning.
 
“You have a nail to tack it up with?” the Kid asked, as he placed the notice on the door.
 
“Yep.”  Heyes handed him a nail.
 
“And a hammer?”
 
“Dang it!”  Heyes looked around for a moment and then pulled out his gun, handing it to Curry.
 
“Your gun!?!  You want me to use your gun as a hammer?!?  Heyes, you gotta be kiddin’!”
 
Heyes scowled and pushed Curry out of the way.  “Just with the butt and a few strikes.  It won’t hurt it none.”  He tacked the message on the door.  “Let’s go back and get us some coffee.”
 

~ * ~ * ~
 
 
Meanwhile, inside the bunkhouse…
 
“What the…”
 
“Who in the heck is poundin’?!”
 
“I’m gonna shoot whoever is!”
 
Kyle was the first out of bed and scratched himself as he shivered slightly in the morning chill.  He padded to the door and peeked out.  “Ain’t nobody here.”  About to shut the door, he noticed the paper and pulled it down.  “Someone left this hear notice about shootin’ a turkey and $100.”
 
“Let me see!”  Wheat grabbed the paper from Kyle.  “Throw a log on and get the coffee goin’, will you, Kyle?”
 
“Sure thing, Wheat.”
 
“Says here that Heyes and the Kid are willin’ to pay $100 for the first one of us to shoot a turkey for a Thanksgiving meal.”
 
“A $100?”  Lobo, now up, glanced at the paper still in Wheat’s hand.  “It’d be worth $100.  Not many turkeys in this area and they’re wily birds.  Hard to shoot ‘em.”
 
“Well, let’s eat breakfast so we can go hunting for a turkey,” Kyle said, putting the first chaw of the day inside his cheek.
 

~ * ~ * ~
 
 
A few days later…
 
“I shot him!”
 
“Did not!  I shot him!”
 
“Why you…”
 
Curry and Heyes ran out of their cabin hearing the fight as two men rolled in the dirt, a dead turkey to the side of them, and the rest of the gang rooting them on.
 
“What’s going on?” Heyes yelled, and yet the fighting continued.  He looked to the Kid and shrugged.
 
BANG!  BANG!
 
Curry twirled his gun and put it back in the holster when he saw the men stopped brawling.
 
“What’s the problem?” Heyes asked, again.
 
“I shot the turkey!”  Lobo said, getting up from the ground and brushing himself up.
 
“Did not – I did!”  Griffin took off his bandana and patted his bleeding lip with it.
 
“You couldn’t shoot the side of a barn!”
 
“Oh yeah?”
 
Fists went up and the gang encouraged them.
 
“Stop it!” Heyes shouted, aiming to get control before the fight broke out again.  “Put your hands down!  Griffin, get into the bunkhouse and take care of that cut.  Lobo, go take care of your horse.  The rest of you…don’t you have something better to do?  You heard me – get going!”
 
Reluctantly the men complied as Kid Curry’s hand hovered over the butt of his gun.
 
“How are we gonna know who gets the $100?” grumbled Griffin.
 
“We’ll settle it.”  The Kid held out his hand.  “Give me your guns, Lobo and Griffin, then do as Heyes told you.”
 
The two outlaws handed over their guns and went in different directions.
 
“Heyes, grab that bird.”
 
The Devil’s Hole Gang leaders went back into their cabin with the guns and turkey.
 
“So we’re gonna see if there’s still a bullet in the turkey…”
 
“And who has that kind of bullet,” Curry continued the sentence.
 
Heyes began inspecting the bird for an entrance wound and for a possible exit wound.  “Got a problem, Kid.  The bullet went clean through.”
 
Kid Curry had the bullets out of both guns and went over to examine the turkey.  “That was a good shot – right through the head so not to damage the meat.”
 
“Who’s the better shot, Lobo or Griffin?”
 
“Well, Griffin can shoot the side of a barn, but my bet is on Lobo.  Besides, Lobo seemed to know more about huntin’ turkeys.”
 
“That’s just assuming, though, and not hard evidence.  Them boys are going to want evidence.”  Heyes sat down and rested his head in his hands.  “Wish I hadn’t come up with that $100 reward for shooting a turkey.  What a mess!”
 
“Speakin’ of a mess, those boys oughtta be takin’ better care of their guns.  Both could stand a good cleanin’.”
 
Heyes lifted his head.  “How about a contest?  Both have to shoot a target about the size of a turkey head from the same distance.”
 
Curry shrugged.  “Not quite the same thing, but should be easier with the target not movin’.”
 

~ * ~ * ~
 
 
Later that day, Heyes and Curry gathered together the gang members, minus Preacher, who was sleeping off a hangover, by the clearing where they practiced shooting.
 
“Me and the Kid came up with a decision about the who will get the $100 turkey money.  Lobo and Griffin will both take a turn unloading their guns at that pinecone yonder.  We figured it’s about the size of a turkey’s head and we put it at the right height.  This should be easier because it won’t be moving.  The outcome will determine the winner.”
 
“Who goes first?” Griffin snarled.
 
“Heyes, get out a coin,” Curry suggested.
 
“Good idea.”  Heyes reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver dollar.  He turned the coin to show a heads and a tails.  “Heads, Lobo goes first.  Tails, Griffin goes first.”  The dollar was thrown into the air and deftly caught.  “Tails.”
 
Griffin stood at the mark and carefully aimed his gun at the target.  Six shots rang out.  The pinecone was nicked, but intact.
 
“Not bad,” Heyes commented.  “Your turn, Lobo.”
 
Lobo traded places with Griffin, took aim, and six shots rang out.  The pinecone was obliterated.
 

~ * ~ * ~
 
 
The gang came into the bunkhouse.
 
Preacher stirred.  “So, what’s the verdict?  Who gets the $100?”
 
Lobo grinned as he fanned the bills in his hand.

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

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PostSubject: Re: Nov 2013 - Verdict   Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:12 am

Moonin' On a Verdict

“She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not.”

The man stopped his musing to have a good look at the daisy. Its yellow center almost matched the color of his hair. He paused to look out over the expanse of terrain stretching further than the horizon.

“She loves me, she loves me not.”

“What’cha doin’, Kyle?”

“Huh?” Startled, the blond man turned. “Wheat, ya shouldn’t’a snuck up on me like that. It ain’t polite.”

“Polite? Pfft. Since when do I have to be polite?”

“Well, it don’t hurt none, now do it?” Kyle’s brow furrowed.

“Hmph. Polite!” Wheat Carlson spit off to the side. “Hell, Kyle, it sounded like you was bein’ all starry-eyed … like a gal!”

“I weren’t bein’ like no girl!”

“I hope not, supposin’ to be on guard duty and such. What would Kid say if he found out you’re slackin’? Never mind Heyes.”

Kyle Murtry jumped to his feet, his full height barely reaching his friend’s shoulder. “Now listen, Wheat, don’t you go tellin’ Heyes or Kid about anythin’. There’s nothin’ to say, anyway. It’s real quiet-like up here!”

“I don’t know, Kyle. You never know when a lawman’ll get too full of that badge on his chest and lead a posse straight up here. They’re not stupid, you know. Least-wise, not as smart as yours truly here.” He nodded, driving home his point.

“I know, Wheat. It can happen anytime. Right smart of Heyes and Kid to always want a lookout.”

Wheat gazed on the expanse. “Well, then, look out instead of playin’ some gal’s game.”

The smaller man’s eyes narrowed. “I was lookin’ out.”

“Pfft. Yep, I could see that.” He laughed. “Kyle, you can’t keep a good look out while your mind’s somewhere else. It’s that little gal down in Buffalo you had your eye on last week, weren’t it?”

“No.”

“Well, you could do worse now. She weren’t bad.”

Kyle smirked. “That girl's taken. That big guy’s her beau.”

“Oh, the one Kid stared down in the bar when Heyes caught him cheatin’?”

“Uh huh. That one.”

“Yep, Kid got him good in a stare down. That guy weren’t having no part of anythin’ else that night. Huh, except maybe that gal of his.” Wheat puffed up. “’Course, I coulda done the same thing. Kid Curry’s not the only one good at starin’ somebody down.”

Kyle’s nose wrinkled. “Wheat, you sayin’ you’re as good as Kid?”

The taller man chuckled. “Hell, Kid ain’t the only one ‘round these parts good at that kinda thing, you know. I got it in me, too. Just don’t get the chance as often as Kid does is all ‘cause Heyes looks to him more’n me.”

“Well, they’s partners.”

“Yep, so it makes sense.” His gaze met Kyle’s. “Now, you and me, we’re partners, sorta.”

Kyle stared expectantly.

“Well, aren’t we?”

“What’s that, Wheat?”

“Partners.”

“Well, yeah, I guess.”

Wheat smirked. “Pfft. You guess?”

Kyle stammered, “Well … yeah ... sure. Partners.” He nodded.

As one eye narrowed, Wheat momentarily lost his focus. “Uh, okay. You’re sure ‘bout that? You don’t sound like ya mean it.”

“Well, sure I do, Wheat.” The blond man’s tone was one of innocence, like a wide-eyed child trying to convince a parent.

Wheat’s mouth opened, then closed. Brow furrowed, and smoothed. His eyed rolled. “Okay, so like I was sayin’, you and me, we’re partners.”

“Uh huh.” Kyle blinked.

Wheat blinked back. They stared at each for several moments.

“Dad blasted, Kyle – you made me forget what I was sayin’!”

“Sorry, Wheat. I was just tryin’ to get where you’re comin’ from.”

A sigh. “Never mind.” He pointed to the best spot for keeping watch. “Now, you just get on back to lookin’ out and I’ll tell Heyes you’re doin’ a mighty fine job at it.”

Kyle’s countenance lit up. “Gee, thanks, Wheat!”

“Pfft. You’re welcome.” The taller man smiled and turned.

Kyle walked the few steps back to his perch. He noticed the half-forgotten daisy in his grasp and pulled a petal. “She loves me, she loves me not.”

Wheat stopped in his tracks, walking back to the blond man. “Now there you go again. That’s what I was talkin’ about.”

Kyle stopped in mid-motion. “What’s that, Wheat?”

“The part where I was sayin’ you and me bein’ partners and all. If’n ya got into any trouble, you could call on me like Heyes does Kid, and I’d be right there for ya, starin’ down those guys just as good as Kid does.” Wheat winked. “Keep your hide outta trouble, ya know?”

“Well, maybe, Wheat. But I don’t play cards good as Heyes.”

Wheat sighed. “See, Kyle, it don’t matter how good you play cards or not. Say it’s with that gal of yours, the one you’re wonderin’ whether she loves ya or not. I could stare down that fella of hers just as sure as Sunday comes after Saturday – you can bank on that.”

“Okay, Wheat, but that girl ain’t mine.”

“Well, you sure had me fooled. What’cha doin’ moonin’ all over her then? If’n ya want her, ya gotta make your intentions known … like a hunter going after his prey.” Wheat looked self-satisfied. “That’s a good one, huh?”

“Might be a good one or not, Wheat, but I’m no hunter moonin’ after no girl, ‘specially that one.”

“Why not? She’s a purty little thing.”

“She is purty, but she’s taken.”

“Now you ain’t gonna let that cheatin’ boyfriend of hers stand in your way, are ya?”

“Well, no …”

“So, go after her.”

“Wheat, I done told ya, it’s not like that!”

“No?”

“No.”

“Ya sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.” Wheat’s eyes narrowed. “You’re a hard one to figure out sometimes, ‘specially for a partner.”

“Ain’t nothin’ hard ‘bout it. It’s not her is all.”

“’Kay.” Wheat frowned. “Well, you just go back to watchin’ out and I’ll still tell Heyes ‘bout that good job you’re doin’.”

“Who made you boss that ya have to tell Heyes anythin’?”

“Well, Heyes and Kid do count on me … You know that.”

“Guess so.”

Wheat looked quizzically at Kyle a moment before turning. “I’m just gonna get my horse here and get on back to the bunkhouse. Could use me a little shut-eye before supper time.”

“’Kay, Wheat.”

Once again, Wheat strode away from the guard position.

“She loves me, she loves me not.”

“Kyle!”

“What?!”

“You’re doin’ it again!”

“Doin’ what?”

The pair again came face to face. Wheat moved to grab the daisy from Kyle’s hand, but the blond man faked him out. Wheat half fell into dead space, his hat flying from the sudden movement.

“What’d you do that for, Kyle?”

The smaller man retrieved his friend’s hat, handing it to him. Wheat slapped it against his thigh, coughing as the dust encircled him. He put it square on his head.

He raised his voice. “I said, what did you do that for? Huh?”

Kyle’s eyes narrowed. “I only stepped outta the way, Wheat. There ain’t no need for ya to grab what ain’t yours.”

Wheat’s anger lessened. “I was just doin’ what’s best for ya, Kyle! If’n you don’t get back to lookin’ out, I can’t truthfully tell Heyes you’re doin’ a good job now, can I?”

“Well … I guess not.”

“So ya gonna get back to it so I can do the right thing by ya?”

“Well, Wheat, I keep tryin’ to get back to it but you keep interruptin’ me.”

“I ain’t interruptin’ ya!”

“Yes, ya are. Ever’ time I try to get back to lookin’ out, ya keep comin’ back. You’re just plum confusin’ today.”

The taller man shook his head. “I’m tryin’ to let ya get back to keepin’ a lookout, but ya keep doing that girly game.”

“What girly game?”

“Aw, come on, Kyle – that thing you’re doin’ with that flower.”

Realization hit. He held up the daisy. “Oh, ya mean this?”

Wheat rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that! Now stop that nonsense and get back to keepin’ watch. Ya said ya weren’t interested in that gal, anyhow.”

“Nope, not the girl in the bar.”

“Okay. Then why’re ya doin’ that?”

“Wheat, she’s not the only girl around.”

“Who else?”

Kyle blushed. “Well …” The toe of his boot dug at the dirt.

Wheat smirked. “So, out with it then, boy.”

The blond man looked up. “Well, there’s that little girl over at the dressmaker’s. She’s kinda cute.”

The older man grinned. “Yeah, I can see that. She’s purty, all right. Kinda young.”

“Well, I’m younger than you, Wheat, so maybe she's not too young for me.”

“Well, maybe. But mind your elders and get back to what ya should be doin’.”

“I’ve been tryin’ to! Don’t go interruptin’ me no more and I’ll do my watchin’.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

Kyle got back into position behind the boulders that lined the ledge. Wheat stood his ground long enough to see his counterpart look out over the expanse. Satisfied, he strode toward his horse.

“She loves me …”

“Kyle!”

“There ya go again, Wheat!”

“That little gal in the dressmaker’s shop ain’t gonna give you the time of day, so why you wastin’ your breath?”

“I ain’t wastin’ my breath!”

The older man walked to Kyle and kneeled, putting them at eye level. His hand touched Kyle’s shoulder in a fatherly way, although it might have been more patronizing. “Look, Kyle, you’re hopin’ against hope, tryin’ to convince yourself that little gal’ll be interested in the likes of you. Now I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but …”

“What happened, Wheat?”

“Huh?”

“What happened? What’s the bad news? You coulda told me already.”

Wheat blinked, pulling back. “What?”

“The bad news – what is it? I hope it’s nothin’ too upsettin’ for ya.”

Wheat’s mouth opened, closed.

Kyle put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Wheat. Us bein’ partners and all, you can tell me.”

Wheat shrugged from the touch. “Dad-blasted, Kyle, there ain’t no bad news, ‘cept maybe Heyes and Kid havin’ our hides when a lawman comes up here!” Wheat stood and stormed back to his horse.

“Golly, Wheat, you don’t have to get all proddy or nothin’. Guess you’re havin’ a bad day.”

The older man stared open-mouthed. “I weren’t havin’ a bad day until I came up here!”

Kyle gazed in all directions. “Yep, the air up here is thinner than normal today, I suppose. That’s what’s eatin’ at ya, right, Wheat?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

“That game you’re playin’ instead of focusin’ on lookin’ out.”

Kyle’s blue eyes grew wide. He held up the daisy. “Oh, this?”

Wheat sighed. “Yes, that.”

“It’s not a game, Wheat. I’m just tryin’ to reach a verdict on somethin’.”

“A verdict,” Wheat said flatly. “Not a gal?”

Kyle grinned. “No, Wheat, not a girl.” He flushed. “Naw, I just look at that purty girl at the dressmaker’s every now and agin. You’re right, with me bein’ wanted and all …”

“Uh huh.”

“…There’d be no chance.”

“Uh huh.”

“Right.” Kyle looked pleased with himself. “See ya later, Wheat. I got some lookin’ out to do.” He pulled another petal. “She loves me …”

“Kyle?”

“What, Wheat?!”

“Why ya doin’ that if it’s not about a gal?”

“I told ya, to reach a verdict.” He pulled the last petal. “She loves me!”

Wheat stared blankly. “So what’s the verdict?”

“That cute little mare Hank brought back with that string of ponies? He had his eye on it but I told him she favored me. Now I know it for sure!” Kyle grinned ear-to ear.

“A horse? That was all about a horse?”

“Yep.” Kyle splayed his hands out from the armpits of his vest. “She likes me best! I can tell Hank she’s mine, all right!”

Wheat turned back toward his mount. He shook his head. “A horse …”

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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Nov 2013 - Verdict   Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:08 pm

“Mr. Heyes, please approach the bench,” growled Judge Handley, slamming his gavel down on the scarred top of the elevated bench he was seated behind.  The crowd quieted down at his command and the members of the jury turned their attention to the gray-haired man who dominated the formal courtroom.   Everyone was wondering what was going on.  The defendant and his lawyer had just filed into the room a few moments ago and had barely had time to get organized.  It was too soon for the trial to begin.

Hannibal Heyes rose slowly from the defense’s table.  He cast a glance at the neatly-dressed man seated next to him and the man gave him a reassuring smile. Out of the corner of his eye, he could just see the top of a curly, blonde head.  Knowing his partner was there, gave him the confidence he needed. Heyes reached up to straighten his tie before crossing the courtroom floor.  The twelve men seated in the jury box followed his progress, turning their heads as he went by.  

The bench was more imposing from this viewpoint and Heyes had to crane his head to look up at the judge, who was scowling down at him.

“Sir?” said Heyes softly.  He’d been wondering how Handley would react to seeing him again; now he knew.  Heyes hadn’t seen this man since he’d been jailed in Junction City what seemed like a lifetime ago.

“Didn’t I tell you once that I didn’t want to ever see you in my court again?”  Handley glared at the man before him.  

“Yes sir, but…”

“No buts, Mr. Heyes.  You’re here, aren’t you?” Faded blue eyes narrowed and a veined hand grabbed hold of the gavel.

“Yes.”

The gavel came down with a thunderous clap.  “I’m declaring a postponement.  Court will resume in fifteen minutes!” boomed Judge Hanley.  He could be heard in every corner of the courtroom.  Heyes started to turn away.  “Not you, Mr. Heyes; I want to have a word with you.  Follow me.”  The judge commanded before he stepped down from the bench and beckoned Heyes to follow him through the door to the left.

Frowning, Heyes did as he was told.  The judge held the door open for him and, when Heyes passed through, he followed him in, shut it again, and threw the bolt.  

“Judge Handley, I know this is a surprise,” began Heyes apologetically.

“It is a surprise, Heyes,” said the judge, “a truly wonderful one!”  He laughed delightedly and went around the large oaken desk in the center of the room.  Sliding open a drawer, the judge pulled out a bottle of scotch and two glasses.  “I’d say this calls for a celebration, wouldn’t you?”

Heyes’ grin split his face, “Yes sir, I would!”  He sat down in the empty chair facing the desk and accepted a glass.  

“Cheers,” toasted the smiling gray-haired man, holding up his glass briefly before knocking back his drink.  

Heyes mimicked him, finishing the fine liquor in one gulp. “Thank you, sir.  It's not often I have scotch for breakfast anymore.” He put the empty glass down on the leather blotter covering the desktop.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when you walked in this morning.  Hannibal Heyes, Attorney-at-Law; who would’ve thought?”

“Not me.  There were times when I thought we’d never get the amnesty, but it finally came through a few years ago.”

“I know.”

Heyes laughed, “I guess you did!”  Sobering, he went on, “Thank you, sir, for the letters you wrote to the governor.  I’m sure they were very persuasive.  The Kid and I really appreciate you going out of your way to help us.  Again.”

“How is the Kid?”

“He’s fine.  We’re still partners.  He does the investigative work, and I handle the legal end of things.  As a matter of fact, he’s out in your courtroom right now getting awfully nervous about what we’re talking about.”  

“I’m glad to hear you’re still together.  Heyes and Curry make a formidable team.  You two proved that by turning your lives around.  I couldn’t simply sit back and see you get so far along the right path only to have that political weasel welch on his word.  I felt I had a vested interest in you and I wanted to be sure the governor knew it.”  The judge lifted the bottle and re-filled the glasses half-way.  “We have to keep our wits about us in the courtroom,” he said with a sly wink.

Heyes accepted the proffered glass and leaned back in his chair. “Judge, why did you let me and the Kid go that time in Junction City?  You had us dead to rights.”

“Because I saw your face when Clitterhouse double-crossed you, you were genuinely shocked he went back on his word.”

“Yeah, I mean yes, I certainly was,” said Heyes, remembering the big sheriff lying to his face.  He’d never liked Clitterhouse, but he’d had no choice at the time but to trust him.  It had nearly ended in disaster.  Actually, it had ended in disaster; for the sheriff.

“That told me nearly everything I needed to know.  You were a man of your word and it meant something to you to give it.”  The Judge twirled the glass in his hand, watching the amber liquid roiling.  “I’d heard that before, but you know how folks hero-worshipped you and the Kid.  All those dime novelists were trying to convince everyone that you were modern-day Robin Hoods, so they could sell more stories; but I’d always been skeptical.  I knew you were a criminal mastermind, but I was pleased to learn you could be trusted to keep a vow; until now.  How the heck did you end up in my court?”

“Luck of the draw, I guess.”

“We’ll see how lucky you are when the trial’s over.”  The judge stood up, tugged at his robe and straightened his tie.  “I guess we’d better get back in there.”

Heyes stood quickly, stepping in front of the gray-haired man.  “Judge Handley, thank you,” he offered his hand, and smiled when the Judge took it, “for trusting me.  It always meant a lot to me.  I’ve never forgotten it.”

“Neither have I.  I’m just grateful it all turned out well,” the judge cleared his throat, “I think it’s time for me to find out if you’re as good a lawyer as you were a crook.”

Heyes patted his old acquaintance on the back and laughed, “I think the jury’s still out on that verdict, sir.”

_________________
*****************

"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature." —Dave Barry
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