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 Jan 2014 - Giving Up

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Calico

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Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 52
Location : Birmingham

PostSubject: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:00 am

 Happy New Year Everyone!!


Sorry, was that too loud? Some of you feeling a little iffy are we? Not really up to that runny fried egg sandwich?
 nydrunk 

Anyhow, when you are recovered from your parties and from the horror of it being back to work tomorrow, it will be time to apply yourselves to your first challenge of 2014.

Which is...

Wait for it...


"Giving Up"


(Just a hint of New Year Resolutions - but wide open for any angst you wish to type! Smile.)


Let your brains be fervid whirlpools of teaming torrents of ideas, idioms, smiles, similes, and all things plot like. writing  writing  writing  writing  writing 

(Don't forget to bring in the lucky coal! Though we had to make do with a candle. No fire, you see.)





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Maz

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Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 55
Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:52 pm

Giving Up
By Maz McCoy

Hannibal Heyes was dying. He could hardly breathe. He didn’t know how much longer he had to live. He just knew he was going to die, and soon. A famous outlaw without a famous death. No final shoot out for him. No mad dash from a posse and a hail of bullets. No rope to swing from or a long stretch in a lonely jail cell. No ballad composed, about him, to sing around the campfire. No widow to weep on his grave. He was going to die here in a flea-bitten hotel room in the middle of a run-down town with no one to…
“Heyes.”
“What?”
“You feelin’ any better?”
Heyes peered at his partner over the top of a damp sheet. “No.”
The end of the bed sunk as Kid perched on it. “I’m going down to the restaurant. Want me to bring you anything back?”
“No point. I’m dying.”
“No, you’re not. You have a cold.”
“It’s worse than a cold, probably influenza or maybe even pneumonia.”
“That’s not what the doctor said.”
“What does he know?”
“He’s a doctor. I imagine he knows quite a bit.”
“Says who?”
“He has a bunch of medical certificates hanging on his wall.” Heyes snorted with derision and Kid ignored him. “So d’you want anything?”
“What’s the point?”
“The Doc said you should keep your strength up. You know, feed a cold…”
“…starve a fever. I have a fever. Don’t waste food on me.”
“Okay.” Kid stood up and headed for the door.
The sheets on the bed flew back revealing Heyes’ pale damp chest as he struggled to sit up. “You’re gonna leave me? Just like that?”
Kid’s hand rested on the doorknob. “Well, you said you didn’t want anything.”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t want anything.”
“It sure sounded like it.”
“Well, it don’t.”
Kid gave a heavy sigh. “So what do you want?”
“I guess I could manage some soup.”
“Then I’ll get you some soup.” Kid turned away.
“And maybe a little bread with it.”
“Bread it is.”
“Make sure it’s the soft kind. I don’t think I can chew too good.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“And I should probably have some meat, if they have any.”
Kid cast a glance over his shoulder. “Meat? You sure? Could be chewy.”
“See if they have brisket.”
“Okay. Soup, bread and meat. Fine.”
“Remember nothing too hard.”
“Why don’t I just eat it for you then spit it out when I get back?”
“Huh?”
“Nothin’.”
“Kid?”
“What?”
“I want you to have my hat.”
“I’ve got a hat.”
“When I’m gone.”
“Where you goin’?”
“You know what I mean.”
Kid let go of the door knob and turned back to face his friend. “I hate to sound ungrateful but I don’t want your hat.”
“Why not?”
“It’s old, Heyes. There’s a hole in the front and the darn thing’s fallin’ apart.”
“It’s a good hat!”
“Only you think so.”
Heyes sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “I still want you to have it. My gun too.”
“Once again, not wishing to sound ungrateful…”
“You don’t want my gun?”
“It’s a Schofield.”
“So?”
“I don’t use a Schofield. And the balance is all wrong. You don’t clean it as often as you should and I don’t like the handle.”
“Sheesh, you sure are picky.”
“Just particular about guns.”
Heyes looked crestfallen. “Well, do I have anything you do want?”
Kid thought for a moment. Then he thought for another moment. “You still got that two-headed coin?”
“I don’t have a two-headed coin.”
“Sure you don’t.” Kid smiled. “Save your things, Heyes, you might need them in the mornin’ if you survive the night.” Before his partner could reply, Kid opened the door and disappeared into the hallway.
Hannibal Heyes stared at the closed door. “It’s a good hat.”

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Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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stormr

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:53 am

The scene opens up with the brown-haired gentleman lying on the bed wearing a pair of tan pants and a white Henley.  The first three buttons of his Henley are undone and it lays casually open, just enough to give a peek of skin.  His chocolate hair is slightly messed; as though he has run his sensitive fingers through it a time or two.  He is propped up with two pillows; his socked feet are crossed at the ankles as he intently reads his book.

The blond ex-outlaw is sitting at a table next to the bed, his back towards his partner.   He is still completely dressed, vest and boots still on.  His brown hat sits at the corner of the table; his gun belt lay neatly on the table with assorted equipment for gun cleaning perfectly arranged.  One leg is crossed over the other as he works diligently cleaning his gun.  Polishing the barrel, he abruptly stops.  “Heyes”…there was no response.  “Heyes,” he called louder.

“Hmmm…” a disinterested noise came from the bed.

“Heyes!” he repeated, sounding increasingly annoyed.  Turning, he glared at his partner.

“What?”  Brown eyes looked up over the book.

“Do you think she gave up?”

“Huh?”

“Do you think she gave up?” Kid reiterated.  

“Who?” Heyes asked, confusion apparent on his face.

“Storm!”

“Storm?”

“Yeah, Heyes, Storm.  You know, your girl.”

Heyes sat up, placing the book on the bed.  “What about Storm?  What’s she giving up?”

“Us.”

“Us?!” Heyes almost shouted.

“Yeah, us.”  Standing up, Kid buckled his gun belt and then tied the thong.  Picking up his gun, he admired it before giving it a twirl and dropping it into the holster as he turned towards his partner.

“She would never give up on us!”  Heyes stood up and walked over to the window.  “Well, at least not on me.”

“Really?”

“Really!” Heyes defiantly responded, turning to look at Kid.

“Okay, then,” Kid said smugly.  “How long have we been in this hotel room?  How many times can you read Mark Twain?  Huh?  If I clean and polish my gun any more it will disappear.”

Heyes ran his hand through his hair.

“Got ya thinkin’, didn’t I?”  Kid nodded his head.

Heyes opened his mouth to say something then closed it. He took a breath and lifted his hand in the direction of his partner, and then dropped it.  Lightly shaking his head, he asked, “How come you noticed and I didn’t?”

Kid chuckled, “'Cause when it comes to Storm, you have a blind eye.”

Heyes looked at Kid.

“She’s your girl, Heyes.  She’s written some real steamy stuff about you.”

“Yeah…” dimples appeared.  “And you.”

“Yeah, but nothin’ compared to yours.”

“So…”

“Well, you got a blind eye towards her.  You don’t see or realize we’ve been stuck in this hotel room for maybe a lifetime!”

“She’s been busy.  She has a life outside of us…it’s not her choice.  Just things get in the way sometimes,” Heyes stated in defense.

“Yeah, yeah.”  Kid rolled his eyes.  “That’s great for her, but what about us?”

“We’re fine.”

“Fine?  I'm growin' old in this hotel room.”

“Are you hungry?”

Kid shook his head.

“Cold?”

Kid shook his head.

“Wet?”

Kid shook his head.  

“Do we have a nice comfy bed to sleep in?”

“Yeah.  So what’s the point?  We’ve…”

“…been stuck in this hotel room,” Heyes jumped in and finished the sentence.  “Poor us,” he continued.  “The law ain’t looking for us.  We have food, shelter, a comfy place to sleep and you’re doing what you like doing and I’m doing what I like doing.  So how bad is it?”

Kid shrugged.

“We’ll get out of here as soon as she has time and the bunnies start hopping.”

“Bunnies?”

“Yeah, bunnies.”

Confusion spread across Kid’s face.

“Bunnies…you know…ideas.”

“She calls ideas bunnies?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Don’t know; always assumed it was because they can be so proliferous.”

“Pro-what-a-what?”  

“Proliferous,” Heyes repeated.  Seeing it didn’t register with Kid, he added, “They reproduce at will.”

“Heyes!  You don’t have to talk about stuff like that, ‘specially when you’re talkin’ ‘bout Storm.”

Heyes chuckled.  “They just want ideas to be plentiful and easy to come by, Kid.”  He laughed.

“Think they could just say that,” the blond partner stammered.  “So how do we get a bunny to hop…aw jeez, it sounds dirty sayin’ that now that you said what you said.”  

“Bunnies are cute, not dirty.”  The brown-haired man tried desperately to stifle a chuckle.  “Not sure how we go about getting the bunny to hop.  I don’t think saying she’s giving up on us though, is going to help.”

Kid sighed.

Heyes walked over to his partner and gave him a small back-handed swat to the arm.   “Cheer up, Kid.  It could be worse.”  

Kid shrugged.  

**

Long neatly manicured fingers wiggled and flexed as they prepared to attack the keyboard in front of them.  Slight trepidation slowed the process.  It had been months, if not longer, since any real bunnies hopped.  She had hoped last month’s challenge of “Tradition” would be the one to break the writer’s block.  Instead, the bunny that had hopped so happily at the beginning of the month fizzled and died even after an eleventh-hour surge to resurrect it.  

**

The wind howled outside and through the cracks of the old jail.  The sky lit up as a bolt of lightning raced across the sky as the rain continued its onslaught.  The deputy sat up front at the sheriff’s desk, keeping warm by the small pot belly stove.  Unfortunately, the stove’s heat was only enough to warm the small area, leaving the cells in the back cold and damp.  The storm outside surged on as the lone prisoner tried to wrap his sheepskin coat around him for warmth.  He ducked his head, pulled his collar up and the brim of his hat down.  Sighing, he hoped his partner fared better after they had to split up… got away and was back-tracking to find him… was just biding time…for the right time to get him out of there.

**
The room was lit by the blazing fire in the fireplace.  It not only lit the room but brought warmth, protecting the inhabitants from the cold, brutal storm raging outside.  Hannibal Heyes sat comfortably in an overstuffed leather chair, cigar in one hand, and brandy in the other.  Lifting his face to the ceiling, he blew out rings of smoke.  Raising the glass of warm amber liquid to his lips, he sipped as he gazed at the statuesque woman walking across the floor towards him.  A dimpled smile spread across his face as she sat down next to him and leaned in…
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Keays

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PostSubject: Giving Up   Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:26 pm

Heyes rode up and dismounted in front of the Mercantile.  He tied his mare to the hitching rail and with a quick pat to her neck, he came up the steps digging out his shopping list as he went.  He and Kid had just picked up their horses from the livery and had briefly parted company in order to make the purchasing of supplies more economical time wise.  They needed food stuffs for themselves and the horses as well as a re-supply of bullets for the rifles.  Hunting cougars for a nearby rancher had paid well but had left them short of ammunition.

 Kid had naturally headed for the gunsmith-hardware store while Heyes, as mentioned entered the cool dusky interior of the mercantile.  He studied his list intently even though he already had a good idea of what they were short of but he wanted to be sure he didn't forget anything.  They had a long ride ahead of them for their next  job and being caught short of an essential while on the trail could be more than inconvenient.

 Most mercantile's were laid out in a similar fashion so Heyes casually strolled around the shelving's, scanning his eyes over the products until he found the items on the list.  He considered the various sizes available on flour sacks ranging from 5lbs all the way up to 60lbs.  It doesn't take a genius, self-proclaimed or otherwise to know that they travelled light and Heyes picked up the 5lb sack.  He casually carried on until he found the salt and again chose a small satchel rather than the larger 10lb that was leaning up against the back of the shelving.

 He carried on in that manner for some minutes, tipping his hat to one or two ladies who smiled at hm a little nervously, but still smiled at him.  His mind wasn't on them and he carried on basically ignoring the other few patrons who walked the isles but seemed to keep their distance.  Everyone had their own business and personal space requirements dictated a certain aloofness after all.  Heyes creased his brow when he couldn't see coffee grounds where he thought they should be.  He looked up and down and around, but nothing.  Hmm, they had to have coffee.

 “Excuse me,”  he called over to the clerk behind the counter.  “where's your coffee?”

 The clerk was watching him and appeared slightly apprehensive.  “Ah, it's right over there on the other side of the potato's.”

 Heyes looked where the clerk pointed and he spotted the desired item.  “Oh!  Thank you.”

 He walked over to the next shelf, chose the size of coffee that best suited and then made his way over to the counter and the cash register.  The clerk smiled at him but didn't say anything.

 “I'd also like a pound of bacon, wrapped up real good,”  Heyes told him as he dumped his cargo onto the counter.  “The leanest ya' got.”

 “Oh.  Ahhh....”

 The clerk's eyes shifted to Heyes' left and Heyes followed the look just in time to hear the click of a hammer pulling back and found himself staring down the barrel of a colt 45.  Heyes felt the chill go through him but on the outside a dimpled smile took over as his gaze moved up to lock onto a set of hard dark eyes that meant business.

 “Oh, well howdy there Marshal Dickson,”  Heyes greeted the tin star.  “Imagine running into you here of all places.”

 “Yeah, imagine,”  the marshal growled.  “Small world ain't it?”

 “A little too small...”  came Heyes' mumbled response as he felt someone behind him slip his schofield out of its holster.

 “Get yer hands up Heyes, don't you move.”

 “Well I can hardly do both at the same time....”

 “Shuddup!”  came the harsh response.  “None 'a your lip!  You know damn well what I mean now do it!”

 Heyes released a bored sigh and with a roll of his eyes, raised his hands and instantly felt the deputy behind him start a search of his person.  He happened to glance over at the clerk who had moved back away from the counter and was staring at the ex-outlaw with some consternation.  Heyes sent a disappointed smile back at him.  The few ladies who had been in the store tending to their morning shopping were behaving predictably by stifling small gasps of anxiety and quickly exiting the premises.

 Heyes stood quietly watching the marshal watching him as he felt the deputy's search moving down his torso.  The man was going to find his lock pick pretty soon if something didn't happen to divert his attention and Heyes found himself praying for some kind of interruption.  As Preacher tended to say 'God works in mysterious ways' because just as Heyes was thinking the thought, the front door bell jangled and non other than Kid Curry walked into the scene.

 “Jeez Joshua, what's goin' on....?”

 The blue eyes instantly widened in surprise as the marshal spun around and took quick aim.  Heyes lunged forward, tackling the lawman and throwing off his aim so the gun exploded, but sent the bullet harmlessly into the ceiling.  Heyes and Dickson went to the floor and the marshal's gun went skidding across the boards to thump into the far wall.  The deputy made to jump over the two men in front of him, but Heyes grabbed a boot and brought that man down to his knees as well.

 “Heyes!”

 “Run Kid!  I'll be right behind ya'!”

 True to his word, Heyes was on his feet faster than a frightened buck and making a leap over the fallen lawmen he got clear and made a dash for the door.  He smashed through it in time to see Kid jumping aboard his nervous gelding.  Getting his animal under control Jed grabbed the reins of Heyes' mare and lined her up so that a quick leap from Heyes could get him into the saddle and they'd be away.

 “Heyes!”  Kid yelled again as the long arm of the law reached out and tripped Heyes up right in the middle of his flying leap.

 Heyes went down hard as he felt rough hands grabbing him while a painful knee in the kidney pinned him to the boardwalk.

 “Go!”  Heyes choked out with what little breath he had left in his  lungs.  “Run Kid!  Get outta here!”

 Kid cursed under his breath but knew there was no helping his partner.  Better to run now and come back later than be captured as well.  He booted his gelding forward and with the mare following  he galloped out of town and just prayed that none of the bullets coming after him found their mark.

 The deputy straddled Heyes and was pulling his arms behind his back to secure them in the cuffs as the marshal, who had retrieved his gun was shooting after the fleeing outlaw in the hopes of bringing him down.  Townspeople were screaming and scrambling out of the street but even at that the marshal cursed and stopped firing in case he hit an innocent bystander.  

 Growling, he turned back to his deputy who still had Heyes face down on the boardwalk, with his hands securely cuffed behind his back.

 “I'm going after that bastard, right now!”  the marshal announced.  “You get him down to the sheriff's office and then tell that lazy, no-good excuse for a lawman to get a posse together and follow me!”

 “Yessir Marshal,”  the deputy agreed as he stood up and began to haul Heyes up with him.

 “And don't forget about his lock pick,”  the lawman growled as he snarled at the prisoner.

 Heyes slumped.  Damn.  Then the marshal was gone, running to the closest horse that hadn't spooked with the gunfire, and swinging himself aboard he booted the startled animal up into a gallop and took off in the Kid's wake.

 “Hey!”  came an indignant yell from a bystander.  “That's my horse!”  He turned on the deputy with self-righteous anger.  “That's my horse!  He can't go takin' my horse like that!”

 “Yeah, he can,”  the deputy informed him.  “He's in pursuit of a wanted outlaw; he can do whatever he damn-well pleases.”

 The horse-less citizen looked at Heyes and Heyes smiled innocently back at him.

 “But....that's my horse.”


 Kid kept both the horses going, hell bent for leather.  It was dangerous galloping headlong like this over unfamiliar terrain, but not as dangerous as the law catching up to him.  He took the chance of a spill and continued to push the horses until he had put some distance between himself and that ill-favoured town.

 He cursed Heyes for a fool for not paying attention to his surroundings—again!  They both knew Marshal Dickson and if Heyes hadn't had his eyes inside his own head he would have spotted the lawman right off.  Dammit!  How his cousin had made it through puberty was beyond the Kid.  Then he smirked and shook his head while his eyes watered with the blowing wind.  He'd made it through because Kid had been there to watch his back, that's how.

 Dammit!

 The horses were blowing hard as Jed headed for higher ground.  He found a switchback and pulling the horses around, he booted his gelding up the narrow trail and into the brush and rocks hoping to get some cover.  The horses powered up the hill, giving their best efforts until they crested the ridge.  Then Kid pulled them down to a trot until he found a covered vantage point and stopped them altogether.

 He looked back over his own trail across the open country, hoping he wasn't going to see anyone following him, but knowing what a false hope it was.  His body moved up and down with the heavy breathing of his mount as the two horses worked to catch their wind but that didn't stop him from seeing the dust trail rising up in the air.

 “Dammit!”  he cursed out loud this time.  His gelding's ear flicked back for an instant then relaxed again as he went back to catching his breath.  Then Kid froze, his brow creasing as he spotted a second, much larger dust cloud bellowing up into the air a couple of miles behind the first.  “DAMMIT!”

 Both horses spooked then but Jed didn't care.  He was in trouble for real with a full-blown posse on his tail and he had to do something to lose them—and quick.


 The rest of that day was spent doubling back on his trail, crossing streams and rubbing out tracks.  In other words, every trick in the book on 'How to Lose a Posse 101' was put into play until Jed finally felt satisfied that he had lost his shadows.  When evening fell he doubled back for real until he found himself just outside that same egregious town.  And there he waited, silent and invisible until the moon began its descent and the time for thievery and jail-breaking was at hand.


 Heyes was actually laying on his cot with his hat settled over his eyes, secure in the notion that his partner would get him out of this fix.  He had even gone so far as to snooze quite comfortably under his hat until his finely tuned instincts jolted him awake.

 “Sheriff!  Sheriff open up!”  Bang, bang, bang!  “Bill just seen Kid Curry sneakin'  inta' town!  Ya' gotta come quick!”

 The sheriff snorted loudly as he was startled from his sleep  and darn near fell out of his chair, knocking the paper and a jar of ink off the desk top in his scramble to get to his feet.

 “What the hell...?”  came the legal complaint.  “Who is that?”

 “It's me, 'Joe”!”  came the muffled response.  “Hurry up!”

 The sheriff settled himself and rearranged his shooting apparel as he sent a quick glance over to the prisoner.  Heyes had lifted his hat up just enough to allow one brown eye to scan the front office.  

 “Your partner ain't too bright is he?”  the fat sheriff commented as he moved towards the front door.  “If he thinks he's just gonna ride on into town and rescue you then you both got another thing comin'.”

 Heyes smiled softly and set the hat back over his face.

 “C'mon!  Open up!”  came the muffled demand from outside followed by more pounding on the door.

 “Ya, ya!  Hold yer horses!”

 The sheriff unlocked the door and was just about to open it when he was suddenly pushed back into the office.  He stumbled and cursed and caught his balance just in time to see the muzzle of Kid Curry's colt 45 aimed at his rotund belly.  Kid closed the door behind him and locked it without once taking his eyes off the indignant law man.

 “Hey, you ain't Joe!”  the sheriff stated the obvious.

 “Well I gotta admit Sheriff,”  Kid smiled at him.  “when you're right, you're right.”

 “Who the hell are ya' then,”  was the come back.  “and what do ya' think yur doin'!”

 “Well now Sheriff, who do ya' think I am?”  

 “I don't....”

 “Where are the keys to the cell?”  Kid decided it was time to get down to business.

 “The keys to his....?  Ya' mean you're....?

 “Hey, we got a smart one here, Heyes.”

 “Yeah, I'd noticed.”

 The sheriff actually found his courage or perhaps it was just indignant stupidity but either way, he crossed his arms and put on a defensive stance.

 “The keys are in the safe along with his possessions,”  he informed the intruder.  “and I just can't seem to remember the combination.”

 Heyes was standing up now and getting ready to vacate the premises.

 Kid gave a look of mock disappointment.  “Aww, c'mon  now Sheriff, don't be like that.  You know who you got in that cell over there and you know that he can open this little ole' safe just by tapping it so why don't you save us all a lot of.....”

 The sheriff started to laugh.  “Who are you kiddin'?”  he asked as his belly jiggled.  “Heyes is locked up in that cell.  He can't open the safe from in there and he can't get outa his cell until he opens the safe!  You may as well just give it up now Kid cause you ain't gonna...”

 Kid sighed and he and Heyes exchanged wearisome expressions.

 “Fine Sheriff, if that's the way ya' wanna play this,”  Kid motioned over to the desk chair and dug the strip of rope out of his pocket.  “just sit down and put your hands behind your back.”

 The sheriff seemed to think this was humourous and though he did move over to the chair and take a seat, he was laughing and shaking his head at the stupidity of outlaws.  Kid took the sheriff's gun and put it out of reach, then slipping his own back into his holster he quickly tired the sheriff's hands behind his back.  He then took the sheriff's bandana and tied it nice and snug around his mouth.  

 The sheriff snorted with disgust but seemed content in his own belief that these two were headed for a stalemate and this was all just a big waste of time.  He changed his tune quick enough though as Kid started rummaging around in the desk drawers and within moments came up with a letter opener.  The sheriff frowned as he wondered what the man intended to do with that as Kid moved over to the makeshift kitchen and found himself a small knife.

 “Yeah!”  Heyes chuckled with glee and actually rubbed his hands together.  “Good work Kid.”

 “Uh huh,”  Kid grumbled as he handed Heyes the utensils.  “when are you gonna learn to pay attention to you surroundings?”

 “Aw c'mon Kid, it wasn't my fault,”  Heyes insisted as he set about opening the cell door.  “It coulda just as easily happened to you.”

 “No it couldn't 'a,”  Jed contradicted.  “cause I always check out where I'm goin'.  You just can't seem to get your head outa the clouds.”

 “Yeah, yeah,”  Heyes grumbled as the cell door clicked open.

 They hurried over to the safe and Heyes settled down in front of it and gave it a quick looking over.  The expression that settled over his face was one of grave disappointment.  He sent a frustrated look over to the sheriff who smugly met his eye, believing that the great Hannibal Heyes was stumped.

 “I swear Sheriff,”  Heyes complained.  “when are you fellas gonna start using safe's that might offer a fella just a little bit of a challenge?  This one's hardly worth my time.”

 “C'mon Heyes,”  Jed complained.  “we don't have time for your theatrics.  Just get it opened and let's go!”

 Heyes sent his cousin a dirty look and setting his ear to the lock, he began to work the tumblers.  “No appreciation for the arts, that's your problem.”

 One try on the combination and Heyes pushed down the lever and swung open the not so heavy door.  The sheriff's heart sank as he realized that he was about to lose the marshal's very profitable prisoner.

 Heyes gave a wicked chuckle as he stood up.  He grabbed his lock pick and the money he'd had on him and returned them to their rightful places.  Then he got his holster with the schofield tucked neatly into it and strapped the apparel around his waist.  He swung the safe closed and they both hurried over to the front door.  Jed opened it cautiously and peered out, checking in both directions and across the street.  All was quiet except for their two horses waiting patiently at the hitching rail.

 He nodded to Heyes and Heyes tipped his hat to the disappointed lawman.

 “Sheriff,”  he grinned.  “thanks for dinner.”

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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:52 am

The horses were blowing hard from the strenuous run.

Kid Curry stood up in his stirrups and squinted as he scanned the horizon.  “Think we lost ‘em, Heyes.”

“Hmm…” Heyes grunted.

The Kid glanced back to his usually loquacious partner.  “You okay?”

Heyes took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve.  “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“You didn’t get hit by the posse, did you?”  Curry expertly scanned Heyes for any injuries, but didn’t see any.

“No,” he grumbled.

“So what’s wrong?”

Heyes threw his hands up in the air.  “I give up!”

“Give up?”  Curry furrowed his brow.  “Give up what?”

“Amnesty!” Heyes spat out.  “Do you realize we’re getting shot at more, running more, and poorer than we’ve ever been?  Do you?”  He sighed.  “The governor’s not gonna give us amnesty.  Hell, he has what he wants – we’re not robbing anymore.  Why bother risking his political career by keeping his part of the deal?”

The Kid leaned against his saddle horn.

“Okay, go ahead and talk me outta giving up.”

“Nope.”

“Nope?”  Heyes straightened up.  “What do you mean nope?  

“I ain’t talkin’ you outta it.”

“Normally when I wanna give up, you talk me outta it.  And when you wanna give up, I talk you outta it.”

“Not this time.”

“You think we should give up on amnesty, too?”

“Yep.”

Heyes raised a brow.

“I’m tired, Heyes.  I’m tired of runnin’ and bein’ shot at and not havin’ any money.”  The Kid removed his hat and ran fingers through the matted wavy hair.  “And you’re right; why should the governor honor his part of the deal?”

There were a few moments of silence.

“So what do you wanna do?” Curry asked.

Heyes shrugged.  “Guess we have a few options.  We can leave the West and assume other alias names.  Just disappear and hope the Pinkertons or Bannermans don’t find us.”

“Or…”

“Or start robbing again.”

“Go back to the Hole?”

“No.”  Heyes shook his head.  “Wheat’s there.  I’d rather start over with a new hideout and gang.”

“Or do one more big job and leave the country.  Go to South America or China or Australia.”

“That’s a thought.”  Heyes opened his canteen and took a drink.

“They talk English in Australia, don’t they?” Curry asked.

“Yep.”  Heyes offered the water to his partner.

“Well, I’d vote for Australia over South America or China then.”  The Kid took a drink and watched his partner thinking.  “Or…”

“Well, we’ve done a few good con games lately.”

“And we learned from the best – Silky and Soapy.”

Heyes nodded in agreement.  “And don’t forget Diamond Jim, too.”

“Or…”

“Or we keep on trying for amnesty.”

“I don’t see that as an option no more, Heyes.  One of us is bound to be killed, the way I see it.”

“I agree.”

“So what do you wanna do?”  

“I don’t know.”  Heyes reined his horse down the path heading towards the sunset.   “Isn’t there a little mining town with no sheriff or telegraph office near here?

“Yeah, I think Whiskeytown is nearby.”

“Think we can get there before it gets too dark?”

“Probably.”

“Let’s go there, get something to eat and drink, and then we’ll sleep on it.”

Curry yawned.  "Now that sounds like the best option."  As always, he followed behind, watching his partner's back.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:20 pm

I did one!  applause  And on time!  yes   Dedicated to those pesky angst lovers out there!  writing  coffee   sm 

The ping of yet another ricocheting bullet caused Kid Curry to duck even lower beneath the window frame.  Pressing his back against the wall, he looked across at his partner, who crouched below one of the other windows of the cabin in which they had taken refuge. The dark intensity of Heyes’ eyes told the Kid he was thinking hard – real hard.

“How many?” he asked.

“Too many to count.”

“Too many then?” Heyes countered.

The Kid responded with a tight-lipped grimace. Checking the chamber of his Colt, he slipped two bullets into the empty slots before clicking it closed.

“What we gonna do, Heyes?”

For a few moments there was no response.  Heyes merely looked down at the gun he held loosely in his hand.  Then he inhaled deeply and raised dark, solemn eyes to look at his partner.

“Think you know the answer already, Kid,” he stated sombrely.

The Kid closed his eyes, coming to terms with the reality of the moment, swallowing down his disappointment.

“This is Sheriff Noble. We know you’re in there, Heyes. We got the place surrounded.”


The Kid’s head snapped up at the shouted words.  He turned and knelt below the window and began to raise his gun.

“No!” Heyes’ didn’t mean it to sound so sharp.

Narrowing his eyes, the Kid shot him a questioning look.

“If we shoot one of them we don’t stand a chance.  If we go out there and give ourselves up we might get lucky.” Heyes was trying to convince himself as much as his own partner.

“Heyes, if we go out there they’re gonna shoot us anyway.  Wanted poster says ‘Dead or Alive’ in case you hadn’t noticed,” he replied sardonically.

“There’s a chance …”

“A chance?! I call it an almost dead certainty – dead being the word.”

“I don’t see we got much of an option.  They’ve got us surrounded and out numbered.  Not sure I can talk us out of this one, Kid.”  

He looked apologetically across at his friend before continuing.

“If we turn ourselves in peaceably then maybe the Governor will come good on our agreement.  It’s been over a year – nearly two.”

“Don’t you think I know that?”  The Kid’s words were laced with frustration. “That’s a mighty big ‘if’.  And what if we end up in prison for the next twenty years?”  

For once Heyes couldn’t find the words to answer his friend.  Instead he swiped his black hat from his head and slapped it on the floor.  “Damn!”

“I was so sure we’d lost them,” the Kid commented quietly.

“Must be losing our touch,” Heyes responded, rubbing his face with his hands. “Besides, you weren’t sure, were you?  Not really.”

The Kid chose to ignore the comment. Saying ‘I told you so’ wouldn’t help matters now.

“You’ve got one minute and then we’re gonna start shootin’.”

The Kid cast a searching eye about the cabin.  It was a simple structure, with a door and two windows at the front.  To the back was just one window but no door.  

The cabin had offered some sanctuary from the driving rain, which had seemed to chase them almost as fervently as the posse, who had doggedly been on their heels for the last couple of days.  They had traversed the country, crossing rivers, back-tracking, wiping tracks and using every trick in the book to evade their pursuers.  Heyes was convinced they had lost them but the Kid was more dubious but his partner had been persuasive.  Long hours in the saddle, without food, had left them exhausted and the persistent rain had left them cold and wet, so, on seeing the cabin, their need for respite had over shadowed their judgement.

They managed to almost dry out their clothes, get to chew down on some hard tack and had just closed their eyes when the first shot rang out. And now they were well and truly trapped.

“So, this is it, is it?” the Kid said flatly.  

Heyes looked across at him remorsefully. “I’m sorry, Kid.”

“Hell, I thought we’d lost them too, Heyes.”

Heyes cast another sad look in the Kid’s direction. “I don’t mean for that.  For everything.  If I hadn’t had such a chip on my shoulder and been so angry at the world I never would have dragged you into stealing and …”

“You didn’t drag me,” the Kid shot back. “I followed - willingly.  We’ve been over this before.  We both did what we did. Partners, right?”

“Together we stand and together ...”  Heyes fixed his gaze on his partner and best friend as he quoted the words.

“Time’s up.  Put down your guns and come out with your hands up.”

“We fall,” the Kid finished, as he got to his feet and caressed the gun he held in his hand, running his thumb across the cool, hard surface, before slipping it slowly back into the holster.

“Let’s hope Sheriff Noble lives up to his name,” Heyes muttered dryly.

Picking up his battered, black hat from the floor, he patted the dust from its faded surface and placed it back on his head, positioning it deliberately, with the brim low over his eyes.

With one last meaningful look between them, both started to unbuckle their gun belts in unison and laid them purposefully on a battered table.  The Kid took one last look at his weapon and then turned to Heyes and clasped his shoulder. There was so much to be said but the words just couldn’t be found.  Instead the partners communicated in their usual silent way, saying all that need to be said with an non verbal exchange.

With a deep breath Heyes lifted the latch on the cabin door, paused a second, yanked it open and put his hands in the air.  The Kid followed, stepping out into the cool of the evening air behind his partner.  They were met with the audible click of several rifles being cocked and pointed in their direction.

“Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, you’re under arrest.”

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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:28 pm

Disclaimer:  This challenge falls into a category some would describe as depressing, so if the polar vortex has got you down, you might want to wait for a cheerier day to read it.

A lonely January wind howled through the corridors of the Wyoming Territorial Prison.  Hannibal Heyes wrapped a tattered sweater more tightly around his slight frame and took one step forward, away from his sagging bunk, which brought him to a small table.  As he pulled the chair back, its wooden legs scraped noisily against the cold, hard floor of his cell.  He sat, picked up his pen, and settled in to write.  

Incarceration had afforded a single luxury.  Time.  Without a posse in pursuit, without concern for a place he and his partner might shelter or find a meal, Hannibal Heyes immersed himself into the chronicling of his story, his and his partner's.   Making use of each available moment, he wrote with a tenacity rarely seen in any author, let alone one sentenced to endure the remainder of his days confined to a prison cell.

Yet today, the blank page stared, its white emptiness mocking him.

Words had once flowed effortlessly, bubbling forth from his heart like water from a spring, surging down the arteries of his arm, to his hand, onto the parchment.  But now, a dam constricted the current, he could feel its tightness in his chest, stifling the course of creativity, reducing his once rushing river to nothing more than a desert stream bed.  Dry, barren.  Dead.

Shaking numbness from his arm, Heyes lay his pen aside and moved to his bunk which gave a familiar creak of protest.  From beneath, he pulled a trunk containing his only worldly possessions--a collection of journals.  The Journals of Hannibal Heyes.  His testimony, declaring that his life, and the life of Kid Curry, had been more than myth.

Lovingly, he fingered the binding of each journal, smiling at the memory of stories held within -- Childhood days spent working and playing under a warm Kansas sun, bleak winters, endured with a determination known only to those possessing the true pioneer spirit.  Stories of happiness, heartache, suffering, survival, felony, frivolity.  Partners.  Partings.

How remarkable, Heyes thought, as he replaced the trunk and moved again to his writing table, that so many words would be necessary in his defining of a single word.  Life.

Placing both elbows on the table, he folded his hands as if in prayer and pressed his lips against them.  

The blank page before him still stared, daring him to finish the tale, for no story of life can ever be complete, before reaching its conclusion in death.

Again, the tightness constricted as Heyes recalled that fateful day, the day his partner's story had reached its culmination...

Kid Curry, fastest gun in the history of the west, had been outdrawn.  And Heyes had been there, watching as the Kid went down, shot square in the chest by a city-slicker school-boy from Ohio before the infamous gunslinger had even cleared leather.  

Some said that Curry was old, past his prime, but Heyes knew better.  The Kid had simply given up, tired of the lying, the running, the killing.  "It's over, Heyes," he had declared, his blood gushing into the street.

Heyes shivered, remembering the peaceful smile that had played about his partner's lips as his eyes closed that final time.  He remembered the consuming rage, the pain he had felt, the betrayal at being left behind.  In retaliation, Heyes had raised his own hands in surrender, giving up.

***

Flexing his fingers, Heyes fought for control, ignoring the strange sensation that shot like lightning down his arm.  He picked up his pen, scrawling across the page.  He shuffled to his sagging bunk, which gave the familiar creak as he lay down.  

"It's over, Kid," Heyes declared.  

When his eyes closed for the final time, a peaceful smile played about his lips as he remembered the words with which he had concluded the saga of his life.  "The End."

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:08 pm

Perhaps, this challenge will lighten things up a bit. After reading Penski's challenge, I decided that I would take a stab at the boys making a decision, and where they would go with it. I suppose I am feeling happy because we finally had rain out here. After days of dry wind, and direful predictions of major drought, this is a good thing.



“Sheriff, ahem, sheriff?” Heyes leaned onto the desk littered with piles of letters, handbills, telegrams, ledgers and wanted posters.

Sheriff Robinson looked up from his desk wearily. “What do you two want?” he snapped. “Can't you see I've got a ton of paperwork here? It isn't enough that I've gotta pick up all the drunks and vagrants in town, I also gotta make sure the streets we have, if you can call 'em streets, more like quick sand if you ask me, is clean, and I have to pick up all the stray dogs, and collect taxes. You ever try to collect taxes from one of 'em bordellos?”

“Well, no...” began Curry.

“Lucky you. You just try it sometime. All of 'em is run by crooks; they're not the kind of places that are actually gonna keep accurate ledger books, which doesn't stop the Mayor from wanting me to 'ascertain the accounts are correct and we are collecting the proper taxes.' Sure, like he is helping me out any.” This last was said in a tone laden with sarcasm. He changed tack. “Well, what?”

“Sheriff, I am sure you have more than you share of problems, and my friend and me, having had long experience with sheriffs...”

“That's true, Sheriff,” Curry added, none too helpfully.

“...appreciate all you do.”

“So?”

“Well, I think what we have to say, and what we came here for will help you out; make you a hero, in fact.”

The sheriff looked at the two men with deepening suspicion.

“My friend is right; this will make you a hero, not just in town, but I the whole west part of the country.” Curry tried to force a smile but it resulted in a peculiar grimace.

“Not just the West,” Heyes grinned nervously, “but probably the entire country. I mean it's that big, isn't it partner?”

Curry shifted his weight. “Uh huh.” He licked his dry lips.

Heyes cleared his throat. Rapidly, he mumbled, “I'm Hannibal Heyes and he's Kid Curry, and we want to turn ourselves in.”

The sheriff slowly studied the man who said he was Hannibal Heyes, and then slowly studied the other fellow. Quietly he asked, “What?”

Curry swallowed. “What he says is true, Sheriff. I'm Kid Curry. He's Hannibal Heyes, and we want to turn ourselves in.”

“You are Kid Curry. He's Hannibal Heyes, and you want to turn yourselves in.”

“That's right, Sheriff.”

“To me.”

“Yep.”

“You're Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and you want to turn yourselves in to me, Sheriff Robinson, sheriff of Tucson, Arizona.”

“That's about it, Sheriff,” said Heyes.

“Is this a joke?”

“No joke.” said Curry.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why would Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry turn themselves in, and why would they turn themselves in to the sheriff of Tucson.”

Heyes and the Kid telegraphed their thoughts to each other.

“Because we're in Tucson?” Heyes asked.

“This isn't funny, you know. I've already told you I'm buried in paperwork.”

“Uh, well, we see that Sheriff.”

“And, we appreciate that.”

“This isn't a good time for jokes.”

“This isn't a joke, Sheriff, like my partner said,” Heyes pointed his thumb at Curry.

“I don't have time to do all the intake paperwork on a couple of vagrants, send it on to, where the heck are they wanted, oh yeah, Texas...”

“Wyoming,” Heyes interrupted.

“Wyoming!” shouted Sheriff Robinson. “Just to have it sent back to me telling me to release you. If you need a cheap place to stay, you can sleep behind the saloon with all the drunks, hell, in this town folks just sleep in the streets, and if you need cheap food...”*

“Sheriff, it isn't that, really. We are Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. We're tired of running, but we don't want to live in another country, so our only choice is to give ourselves up - here - in Tucson - to you.”

“So, it's your duty to lock us up, Sheriff.” Curry almost pleaded.

“Don't you tell me what my duty is!" He paused, but only briefly. "Heatstroke!”  

“What?” asked Heyes.

“Heatstroke. I've seen it before. It's almost 115 degrees. It gets to men, even strong men, and you two don't look so strong.”

“Thanks, Sheriff,” said Curry, irritatedly.

“Don't make him mad,” Heyes said.

“You don't have to make me mad; I'm already angry as a buzzard without a corpse. And, this heat doesn't help any. If it isn't heatstroke, then you two are obstructing justice.”

“What?” yelped both outlaws together.

“How do you mean, obstructing justice?” asked Heyes.

“You are keeping a paid public servant from his duties,” the sheriff laid one hand on a pile of papers to emphasize his argument, “and when that public servant is a sheriff, that is obstruction  of justice.” The sheriff leaned into his high-backed leather cushioned chair. “Get out.”

“Sheriff, we aren't lying.”

Sheriff Robinson jumped up. He stood, every inch of his body now quivering with ill-concealed ire. “I said, get out! I've got enough to do without two fellas who want attention, along with free room and board. Oh yes, I see it now, you two want the press and the ladies over here; the press writing stories about you, and the ladies supplying you with all sorts of dainties,” Sheriff Robinson sneered. “Well, you'll have to settle for suffering in the heat like the rest of us.”

“Sheriff, it isn't what you think...”

“A couple of nobodies. I know the type. Get out - now! Before I shoot the two of you!”

???????????????

Outside, the two friends looked at each other sorrowfully.

“Heyes, I don't get it. We just offered to turn ourselves in, and he...”

“He don't think we are who we are.”

“Well that ain't fair. We try to turn ourselves in, and a sheriff don't believe us, and when we don't want people to arrest us, they think we are who we are, and try to arrest us.” Heyes stared, nonplussed, at Curry's ramblings. Curry was frowning and, continuing his train of thought, muttering, “we are...who we...are we...we ain't.”

Heyes shook his head. “Maybe it is the heat.”



*Tucson was well-known for its inhospitable nature. It was years before it had any hotels at all, and men really did sleep in the streets. When it finally did have hotels, they were of the very worst sort.

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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:01 am

For the first time, I'm saying this story is not for polling. Why? Because it's wwwaaaaaaaaayyyy over the word count. Way far. I choose to post it anyway because "giving up" is the inspiration and central theme; cutting it to meet the word count would eviscerate it (IMHO), and I won't get that down by the end of the month anyway; and mainly, because I wanted to play with you all. So here it is.

===

Heyes pushed the creaking door open. In the dim moonlight from the window, he could just barely see an oil lamp. Curry waited quietly in the hall while Heyes struck a match to the wick, and a feeble light illuminated the shabby hotel room. Curry squeezed past Heyes, dropping his saddlebags onto the floor. He sat on the nearest bed, gingerly testing the mattress. Satisfied, he lay down across the bed, with his feet on the floor.

Heyes adjusted the lamp to burn brighter. In the dresser mirror, he saw Curry collapse onto the bed. Heyes put his own saddlebags on the dresser and took off his hat, carefully hanging it on a peg.

“You planning to sleep that way?” Heyes asked.

“What way?” Curry answered, eyes closed.

“With your coat and hat on. Wearing that hogleg.”

“Maybe.”

There was a pitcher and bowl on the dresser. Heyes lifted the pitcher carefully and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was full. He poured water into the bowl and splashed some on his face. Running wet fingers through his dirty hair, he looked at himself in the mirror and saw a three-day stubble of dark beard, deep circles under the eyes, and pale skin. His eyes shifted to Curry’s reflection. Curry looked worse than he did. Heyes took a towel from the rack and, wiping his face, went to stand next to his friend.

“How’re you doing, Kid?”

“Wonderful.” Heyes put the towel on the nightstand, got down on one knee, and pulled Curry’s boots off. Curry neither resisted nor helped.

“Good to hear, Kid. I was afraid that little tumble you took might’ve bruised you up some.”

“I’ve had better days.”

Heyes got up. His knees creaked.

“Why don’t you take off your coat and hat and stay for a while?” Curry slowly sat up, grunting. Giving his hat to Heyes, he unbuttoned his sheepskin jacket, and Heyes helped him shrug out of it. Heyes knew better than to help with Curry’s gunbelt; he waited, holding Curry’s coat and hat, while Curry unbuckled the gunbelt and hung it on the brass headboard, within easy reach.

Curry sat slumped on the edge of the bed, head hanging, elbows on knees and hands clasped, while Heyes hung his coat and hat in the wardrobe. The clothes put away, Heyes went back to check on his exhausted partner.

“You hungry?”

“No,” Curry said. He looked up at Heyes’ concerned face and forced a small smile. “Don’t look like that, Heyes. I reckon I’m more tired than hungry.”

“How about I go down to the dining room and bring us back a couple sandwiches? That sound good?”

Curry tried to get up, but Heyes pushed him back down with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“You need me to watch your back, Heyes. There’s no telling if any of that posse trailed us here.”

“Not a chance, Kid. They’re heading to Mexico by now. Besides, it ain’t likely I’ll see anyone who knows me, especially since the restaurant’s just about to close.”

Kid looked at Heyes’ drawn face. Heyes looked as bad as he felt. He looked at the pillow. He looked again at Heyes.

“You just rest for a bit, Kid. I’ll be back in no time.”

Kid looked at the pillow again. He felt like it was calling his name.

“Okay, Heyes. Just stay out of trouble.”

“I’ll be meek as a church mouse. Promise.” He released Curry’s shoulder, and Curry lay on his side and closed his eyes.

Heyes was almost out of the room when Curry spoke up.

“Heyes.”

“Yeah?”

“No onions.”

Despite his worry, Heyes smiled at his partner. “Got it.”

00000

No customers were in the dining room when Heyes arrived. He glanced at a large wall clock – it was 9:02, and the restaurant closed at nine. A short balding waiter was picking up salt shakers from the tables. Heyes cleared his throat. The man turned around, frowning.

“Dining room’s closed, mister.”

Heyes pointed to the clock. “Only for two minutes. Can’t I get something to take back to my room?”

The little man straightened up, surprised. “You’re a guest here?” This skinny cowboy dressed in raggedy clothes didn’t look like he had ten cents to his name.

“Yes, sir, me and my partner just checked in. We sure could use some food.”

“Well. . . “ the waiter hesitated, torn between his desire to go home and the boss’s insistence to take good care of guests. “If the dining room supervisor says it’s alright. We're supposed to be closed.”

“That’d be real kind of you. Anything you got would be fine, as long as it’s got no onions. ” Frowning again, the man went into the kitchen. Heyes waited, looking around at the comfortable dining room chairs, all arranged neatly around the tables. If he sat down, he might fall asleep right then and there.

The wall clock ticked loudly. Five minutes passed. Heyes was trying to decide if he should go looking for the waiter when he heard clicking footsteps behind the kitchen door. He put on his best smile that lasted only two seconds after the door opened. He sure wasn’t expecting to see her in this place. She recognized him, too. The shock on her face was almost comical.

“Hello, Louise.” He pointed at the tray she was carrying. “Is that for me?”

Her jaw hung low. She looked quickly around the room. They were alone.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered loudly.

“I’m here for dinner.”

“That’s not what I meant! Why are you in Yuma? Did you come here looking for me?”

He ran one hand through his long hair. “No, Louise. Why we’re here is a long story, but it’s not about you. Seeing you is just a happy coincidence.”

She almost threw the tray at him. “Here’s some cold chicken with slaw and bread. Take it and go.”

“Don’t you want to know what room to bill it to?”

“No,” she hissed. “Just go.”

“Why Miss Carson,” he said. “What kind of greeting is this? Especially after all we’ve been through.”

She opened her mouth, ready to tell him off, when, all of a sudden, her anger evaporated. He was smiling, trying to charm her. The deep dimples were still there, but his big brown eyes were dull. He was thinner than she remembered, too. His clothes were threadbare and dirty. This wasn’t the man she’d known two years ago.

“Are you alright, Mr. Smith?” The concern in her quiet voice surprised him.

“I will be, once I get to eat. Thanks for this.”

“Is your friend with you?”

“He’s upstairs.”

“I see.” They looked at each other without speaking. After a long moment, Heyes turned away.

“I ought to get back. Thaddeus gets cranky when he’s hungry.”

“You’d better go then. Unless you need something else right now?”

“No, Louise. Thank you. I guess you’re the supervisor here?”

“Yes, I am. Almost since I arrived in Yuma.”

“Yeah, well. . . that’s good, Louise, real good. I guess I’ll be seeing you again, since we’re staying here.”

“Yes, you probably will. And I’m sorry I was so sharp with you earlier. When I saw you, I thought. . . well, I thought you were here about what happened before.”

“Not a problem, Miss Carson. Good night.”

“Good night.” Louise moved to hold the door open for Heyes, who was balancing the heavy tray. He smiled his thanks. Halfway up the stairs, he paused and looked back. She was standing at the door, watching him.

Heyes kicked the door of his hotel room. “Hey Thaddeus, can you open up? My hands are full.” There was no answer. Frowning, Heyes put the tray on the floor and opened the door cautiously. Curry was laying on his side, snoring loudly. Heyes picked the tray up and put it on the dresser, closing the door behind him and locking it. Curry opened one eye and looked at his partner blearily.

“Everything okay?”

“Sure thing, Kid. You want to eat? Got some chicken, courtesy of Louise Carson.”

Something about the name woke Curry up a little. “Who?”

“Louise Carson, remember her? The waitress who was fooling around with that asshole who murdered Jenny’s boy Billy and implicated us?”

“Oh.” Ancient history wasn’t interesting to Curry just at that moment.

“She’s still real pretty.”

Curry punched his pillow and settled down again. “That’s nice.”

“You want some of this chicken?”

“Maybe later,” Curry mumbled into the pillow.

Heyes sat in the armchair. He was still hungry, but he felt too tired to take even one more step. He didn’t know he wanted to do, so he sat and watched Curry sleep. Eventually, he closed his eyes. His mind was racing, but it wasn’t the events of the last week keeping him awake. Instead, Louise Carson occupied his mind. Her face was the last thing in his mind’s eye when he slipped off into a light sleep.

The next few days passed quietly. Heyes spent half that first night in the chair, finally crawling into bed in the small hours. He and Curry slept past noon and gratefully ate the cold chicken Louise provided. Both men bathed, sent their dirty clothes to be laundered, and went back to bed. Neither felt well enough to go out, although each man made halfhearted attempts to get out for the other’s benefit. Room service regularly brought meals up, much to Heyes’ surprise and concern. The next afternoon Heyes went to the front desk to see what this was costing him and was stunned to find the hotel had no record of any charges beyond the cost of the room.

On the third day, clean, shaved, and wearing his last good shirt, Heyes waited on the hotel’s front porch for Louise to arrive for work. He saw her walking down the wooden sidewalk, wearing a sensible shirtdress, her long brown hair braided and worn like a crown on her head. He stood up to greet her when she reached the steps.

“Good morning, Miss Carson. Hot day, isn’t it?”

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. Yes, it’s always hot in Yuma.” Standing fully five feet apart, neither could think of another thing to say. Louise looked at him closely.

“You seem to be feeling better, Mr. Smith.”

“If I am, it’s because I’ve been able to clean up and eat well. I believe I have you to thank for that.”

She moved closer to him so she could speak quietly. “I do have some discretion as a manager to take care of preferred guests, Mr. Smith. Even so, let’s keep this between us, shall we?”

“I never look a gift horse in the mouth, Miss Carson.” She made a face, and Heyes realized what he had said maybe didn’t sound so good. “Not that I think of you as a horse, I mean.”

“It’s alright, Mr. Smith. I know what you mean. I think.” They looked at each other again. The long silence was finally broken when both laughed.

“How is your friend, Mr. Smith?”

“Feeling better. He twisted his back when he fell off his horse. It’s been real sore, but he’s up and about a little bit.”

“Fell off his horse?” she asked, amused. “How did he manage to do that?”

“It ain’t hard to do when there’s eight or ten someones chasing you.”

She sobered instantly. “Sorry. I did hear something about that.”

He felt the old fear stiffen his body. He looked around briefly before he leaned in closer to her.

“What did you hear?”

“They’re following the outlaws' trail heading into Mexico.”

“Huh,” he said, trying and failing to hide his relief with a joke. “Hope they speak good Spanish. The Mexicans don’t like American posses crossing the border.”

“No,” she said. “I’ve heard that, too.” She saw he was still tense. “What will you do?”

He wiped his sweating forehead with one hand. “Depends on how my friend’s feeling. He was hurt worse than he admits. I’d like to stay another day or two, if we can.”

“Let me know if I can do anything to help.”

“Louise, you’ve done a lot already. More than I could have asked for. Maybe you’d do one more thing for me?”

“If I can.”

“Let me buy you dinner tonight? Someplace nice? If you’re free, of course. I know you got a job to do.”

She hesitated. “Can you afford that?”

He gave her a bitter little smile. “I wouldn’t offer otherwise.”

She rested a soft hand on his arm. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“You and me got a history of saying things to each other we shouldn’t. Maybe we can start over again?”

“Yes, Mr. Smith. Let’s do that. I can meet you here at, oh, 7:00pm? Today’s actually my day off. I just came by to do a little paperwork.”

“See you then, Miss Carson.” She smiled at him one more time and went inside. Heyes felt unreasonably good. Must be the prospect of spending time with a beautiful woman who didn’t want anything from him, he thought. Especially a pretty woman who knew who he was and didn’t seem anxious to collect the reward.

00000

“You picked a nice place, Louise,” Heyes said. “A private table where we can visit without anyone overhearing us, good food, lots of good wine. And charming company. It’s the nearest thing to heaven I can imagine.”

“Your imagination is limited then,” she said. “Still, it is a nice place. The owner thinks of himself as a chef, not just a cook. He takes a lot of pride in his business.”

“Do you know him?” he asked.

She nodded. “Because of my job, I know everyone in the food service business in Yuma. He’s a friend.”

“Oh?” Heyes’ voice rose. “How good a friend?” She stared at him.

“I thought we decided to start anew, Joshua.” It was hard to tell in the dim light, but he seemed to be blushing.

“We did, Louise. I’m sorry. Sometimes stupid things come out of my mouth. I can’t seem to stop them. You’re the last person I want to hurt, especially after all you’ve done for us.”

He looked so earnest, she wanted to hug him. Instead, she changed the subject.

“The last time I saw you, you mentioned that you and your friend were trying to change your lives. How is that going?”

He reached for the wine glass. It was empty. Louise obligingly filled it for him, and he took a long swallow. The wine was going down real easy. “We changed, alright. We changed from eating regular and sleeping in beds and getting medical care to sleeping on the ground, going hungry – “ he tipped his glass at Louise – “except when some kind woman takes pity on us, and bandaging each other up, because the local doctor’s been warned to look out for a pair of broken-down old outlaws. We take the dirty, dangerous jobs no one else will take, and only sometimes we get paid for them. Yeah, we changed.” This time, Louise did reach across to comfort him. He gripped her small hand tightly.

“Sometimes, I think, is this what we deserve for everything we did before? I mean, did we earn this, because of all the bad we did? The way things are, we got no more control over our own lives than a tumbleweed does blowing around Yuma. We’re nothing. We’re dirt. Sometimes I feel like just giving up, you know?” Louise’s eyes were sympathetic, and she was listening closely. Maybe that’s why he was talking so much. That, and all the wine he’d had.

“You know what, Louise? Lately I been thinking, maybe we should just go back to doing what we know how to do. We’re probably going to end up dead or in prison anyway. Might as well go out on a high. At least my belly’d be full, and I’d be wearing decent clothes.”

“What does your partner say?” she asked.

“Not much. Oh, I know he’s still hurting some, but that ain’t it. He’s quiet. Doesn’t talk much. Doesn’t want to do anything but sit in the room. That’s not like him at all. And there don’t seem to be anything I can say or do to make him feel better.”

“I’m so sorry, Joshua. I wish I could help you.” He noticed tears welling up in her eyes, and he kicked himself mentally. Why was he telling her his life story? She was just a casual acquaintance. He hadn’t spent more than six hours of his life in her company. Now he was spilling his guts to her. He pulled his hand free and sat up straight.

“I’m sorry, too, Louise. I shouldn’t be dumping on you. You’ve been more generous to me and my partner than we deserve. It’s sure a lot more than I expect from anybody these days. What about you? I remember you were coming out here to live with your sister. You were hoping to find somebody nice, maybe get married. How’s that working out?”

“It’s not, Joshua.” He looked so surprised, she laughed out loud. “What, you never met an old maid before?”

“Not one as beautiful as you, Louise. There must be something wrong with the men in Yuma, if they’re passing you by.”

“Oh, they’re not passing me by, Joshua. Just the unmarried ones.” His eyes got wide again. “I’ve had more illicit offers from married men than I can count. I don’t accept any of them. I learned my lesson.”

“What about your sister? Aren’t you living with her?”

She shook her head. “No. Oh, I did, at first. It didn’t work out. Her husband was one of those married men who made an illicit offer.” Heyes shook his head.

“That’s awful, Louise. What did you do?”

“I moved out. I made up some lie to tell her, but she wasn’t fooled. She knew something was wrong. I finally told her what happened, and she got angry. She said terrible things, made all sorts of accusations. We don’t see each other anymore.”

Now Heyes reached across to hold Louise’s hand. “I’m sorry, Louise. You deserve better.”

“It’s not so bad,” she said, lightly. “I have a job, a place to live. I make my own way in the world. But sometimes, Joshua” – she took a deep breath – “I’ll tell you the truth. I want to give up, too. I want to run away and have some excitement. The thought of spending the rest of my life in this town, doing what I’m doing . . .. I’ve done nothing but work, and what do I have to show for it? A room in a boarding house, and a tiny savings account. I want to travel, do exciting things, have some adventure in my life, like you’ve had.”

“Being chased by a posse for almost a week ain’t the kind of adventure anyone wants, Louise.”

“I guess I could skip that part. Would you go back to – to what you did before with banks and trains?”

“No. The glory days of outlawing are gone. We’re talking about working the confidence game. Maybe go east to Florida, where we wouldn’t be recognized so easily.”

“I’ve heard about Florida,” she said. “Big real estate boom going on. A lot of rich easterners are buying land there.”

“Wherever rich easterners and their money goes, crooks follow,” he said. “It’s the natural order of things.”

She laughed, as he’d intended. God, she was beautiful. And sweet, and kind, and she liked him, even though she knew who he was and what he’d done. He looked at her, and, in an instant, a plan came to mind, whole and complete, and he knew it was perfect. A look of wonder crossed his face, and Louise watched his whole demeanor change.

“Joshua? What is it? What are you thinking?”

“Louise,” he began, “I got me an idea.”

00000

The 8:10 to Tucson and points east was only halfway full. Heyes and Curry, wearing suits and carrying carpetbags, easily found seats facing each other.

“This is either the worst idea you’ve ever had, Joshua, or it’s the best. I’m not sure which.”

Heyes glanced at his partner. Curry wore his impassive poker face. “You’re still willing to go along with it, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I am.” Something in Curry’s voice made Heyes look at him closer. “You’re definitely right about one thing. Giving up was the only thing we could do, if we wanted to have any sort of a life.”

“Losing everything can be a gift, Thaddeus. There’s nothing holding you back from embracing your future.”

“Now who’s the philosopher?” Curry asked. Heyes smiled. He was feeling good.

“The only thing I feel bad about is Lom,” Curry said. “Not telling him anything, just disappearing, after all he tried to do for us.”

“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. “But we got to do it. He’s an honest man, old Lom is. You know he’d feel duty-bound to come after us with a posse.”

“I know,” Curry said. “But still . . . “

“I know. Still.” The thought of leaving their old friend in the dark was his only regret. Heyes wished it could be different, but if they were leaving amnesty behind, they had to leave Lom behind, too. It was the only way.

Curry pointed out the window. “There.” Heyes looked in that direction. Louise Carson was boarding the train. Something, some instinct, made her turn towards Heyes. He was clearly visible from where she stood, but she showed no reaction; she just boarded the train calmly and went into the next car. Too many people in Yuma knew her. Being seen together now could be dangerous. Heyes grinned. She had natural talent. He knew he could teach her how to work a con in no time.

“I wasn’t really talking about you and me, Joshua,” Curry said.

“I know.”

“Is it a good idea to bring her into this? This kind of life, I mean.”

“It’s her decision, Thaddeus. She could have said no, and we’d still be doing what we’re doing.”

“Uh huh.”

Heyes heard criticism in Curry’s voice and got a little defensive. “We already discussed this. We’ll teach her the business, and we’ll all make some serious money along the way, like we used to. Only we won’t throw it away like we did before.”

Curry held up both hands. “Alright, alright. It’ll just take some adjusting, working with a new partner.”

“It’ll be great, Thaddeus. I got a real good feeling about this.”

Heyes was smiling. He looked confident and happy, Curry thought, just like he used to be, before they’d wasted the last few years chasing the dream of amnesty. They were finished with that, finally. It was good to see Heyes excited about the future. Truth be told, Curry was feeling pretty excited, too.

“So Florida’s a peninsula, is that right?” Heyes nodded.

“Yeah. That means it’s surrounded by water.”

“That’s great,” Curry said. “That means the seafood will be really good.”

Heyes laughed. His partner was acting like his old self again.

“Yeah,” Heyes said. “A chance to do the kind of work we do best, without anyone like Lom watching over our shoulders. A warm climate, rich idiots, lots of good seafood, and a prettier partner than you. Things are looking up.”

Both men grinned happily at each other. Things were definitely looking up.





_________________
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

"The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
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missyblu



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Join date : 2012-04-22

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:45 pm

This challenge is a continuation of the last one I wrote. Curry and Heyes met Morgan while traveling with a wagon train and she and the Kid falls in love. Later, Morgan realizes that unless she wants him to choose between her and Heyes, she needs to leave. Several months later, Heyes arrives in the town where he’s waiting for the Kid to get back from a job. After seeing Morgan’s name in the hotel register, he convinces himself that asking her to ride out before his partner gets there is the right thing to do.

Riding into town, the Kid decided to check into the hotel and then stable his horse. Entering the lobby, he didn’t see the desk clerk so he went up to the counter began looking at the names in the ledger to see what room Heyes was in. Not seeing his name in the few entries on the page, he flipped the page over to see the preceding list of names.

Her signature was halfway down the page and when he saw it, he felt as if he’d been gut-punched.

He couldn’t breathe; couldn’t think; all he saw was a name on a page that turned his world upside down.

“Sir?” the voice seemed to come from far away and it wasn’t until the clerk touched his arm that Curry was able to drag his attention away from the ledger. “Sir, are you allright?”

Managing a nod, he forced himself to speak past the lump in his throat and asked, “Mr. Smith – what room is he in?”

“Oh, room seven. It’s up the stairs and down the hall to the right. But I think he said something about the café. You might want to see if he’s over there.

Nodding, the Kid left the hotel but didn’t turn up the boardwalk. He unhitched his mare from the front of the hotel and walked over to the livery. A short, stocky black man greeted him and reached for her reins. “Staying in town overnight?”

“I’m not sure. Can you give her a good meal and rubdown?” The Kid handed him some coins and glanced at the horses that had their heads over the stall doors inside. “You don’t happen to have a big gray gelding here, do you?”

“No, she left early this morning. ‘Fore I was even here. That horse was somethin’, I’ll tell you that.” He patted the neck of the mare as he went on, “Friend of yours?”

Nodding, Curry pulled off his saddlebags and added, “Haven’t seen each other in awhile. When I saw she had registered at the hotel I was hopin’ she was still here.”

“Well, that’s a funny thing,” the black man said as he ran a hand over his gray hair, “When she got here she said she was going to be staying a few days to let her horse rest up. Said they’d been travelin’ pretty steady the last few weeks. Then this morning I come over to open up and he’s gone. She had paid me extra to take care of ‘im so I didn’t lose out.”

Curry nodded absently, thanked the hostler and went back to the hotel. The clerk handed him the room key and he went upstairs. Once inside, he took off his gun belt, hung it on the bed post and sat down on the bed. Sighing heavily, he made himself comfortable on the bed and let his tired muscles relax, but his thoughts were anything but calming.

Heyes signed in after her so he knew she was here. And I’m betting the reason she left so early is because he told her I was due in town today. But why? What could it have hurt to see her again?”

He remembered the day after Morgan left the wagon train and although he had his suspicions that Heyes knew more than he was saying, his partner avoided the subject. The wagon master only said that she had decided that the wagon train moved too slowly and she was anxious to visit friends in California. And in the days that followed, Heyes had been unusually quiet which furthered the Kid’s doubts about Heyes not knowing why Morgan had left.

Is Heyes going to say anything about her being here? Or is he hoping that I didn’t see her name in the register and he won’t have to explain why he asked her to leave?

As tired as he was and without conscious thought, he drifted into a semi-doze.

* * *

When Heyes returned to the hotel, the desk clerk called out to him.

“Mr. Smith? Your friend is here – I gave him a key to your room.”

Nodding his thanks, Heyes went up the stairs and down the hall to the room. He knew the door would be locked so he had his key ready. When he opened the door, he saw the Kid stretched out on the bed, his eyes closed, but Heyes knew he wasn’t deeply asleep.

“Kid? How long have you been here?”

Without opening his eyes, Curry answered, “’not long.”

“So, how’d the job go?” Heyes asked as he sat down in the straight chair by the window.

“It didn’t” Came the flat response.

Puzzled at his tone, Heyes waited for a few seconds but when his partner didn’t offer anything further he couldn’t help his next question. “What happened?”

“My horse threw a shoe and I had to walk more’n two miles ‘till I came to a ranch with a blacksmith. By the time I got to Eagle Creek they hired somebody else to deliver the package”. All of this was delivered in a voice that bordered on something more than frustration, but Heyes couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

Heyes gave a heavy sigh. “Not your fault, Kid. I did pretty good at poker last night so we’ve got enough to stay here another night.”

In one quick movement Curry sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “No. Give my horse a few hours to rest up and then let’s head back out on the trail.”

Knowing what he did, Curry didn’t think he could stand to be in such close quarters with Heyes right now. Being outside would give him the space he’d need to deal with everything that he had found out since riding into town.

Heyes knew something was bothering his partner; the Kid never turned down a chance to sleep in a bed instead of the hard ground but he knew that whatever it was would have to wait until Curry was ready to talk. “Okay, whatever you want to do.” He pulled out some money and held it out. “Why don’t you get yourself something to eat and I’ll get us some supplies.”

Without another word the blond accepted the money, buckled on his gun belt and left the room. Shaking his head in bewilderment, Heyes waited a few moments before following him out the door.

Several hours later they were riding out of town under a sky of ominous gray clouds and Heyes glanced over to the Kid. “Sure hope that rain holds off.”

“Not like we haven’t gotten wet before,” came the sarcastic reply.

“No, but we could’ve stayed in town.”

Curry didn’t answer; he urged his mare into a slow lope, and Heyes did the same, an expression of worry crossing his face. They had been riding steadily for two hours when suddenly the wind shifted and they could both smell the rain. A few moments later strong gusts were causing the horses to shy from the trail and then it seemed as if the heavens opened up and a torrential downpour soaked them within seconds. There was nothing to do but push the horses forward through the driving rain as the tree branches swayed and cracked as leaves blew around them.

Then, as suddenly as it had arrived, the storm moved away and moments later the dark clouds were gradually being replaced by bright blue. The sun came out and their clothes steamed in the sudden warmth.

“Let’s look for a good place to camp,” Heyes suggested and the Kid glanced over and gave a nod.

When they had ridden a few more miles, they found the remains of an old cabin. Only one wall was still standing but the stone hearth was still there and it would make a good place to build a fire so they could get out of their wet clothes. Later, both of them dry, warm and supper finished, they sat around the fire with cups of coffee and Heyes knew the time had come to get some answers.

“Kid,” he began but Curry threw him a warning glare.

“Don’t, Heyes.”

“Don’t what? I can’t talk to you?”

“Not unless you’re going to tell me what I want to hear,” was his cryptic reply.

Totally bewildered, Heyes stared at him. “What the hell is wrong with you? You ride into town, you don’t want to talk to me, you don’t want to stay at the hotel…”

His words trailed off as he saw the stricken expression his friend’s face. Poking at the fire with a stick, the Kid took a deep breath and exhaled before asking quietly, “Were you ever going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Heyes’ patience was stretched to the breaking point by now and he almost shouted the words.

“That Morgan had been at the hotel.” The words were soft and tinged with pain.

Heyes cursed inwardly. That damn hotel register. Trying to find the right words, he didn’t answer right away but then realized that he had to be honest. “No.”

“You told her to leave, didn’t you?”

“I thought it was the best thing.”

With one violent movement, Curry jumped up, his coffee cup flying out of his hand. “For who?” he yelled. “What would it have mattered if I had gotten to talk to her?”

Heyes also leapt to his feet and shouted back, “And then what? Were you two going to ride off down the trail together?” There was no answer from his partner and Heyes went on angrily, “There would have been no point, Kid! We both agreed that…”

“No!” Curry spat out. “You decided that it wouldn’t work out. You were the one who didn’t want to try our luck down in Mexico!”

“Did you want to just give up on the amnesty? Did you?”

Suddenly all of his pent up anger since seeing Morgan’s name drained away, leaving Curry feeling nothing but emptiness. “No,” he whispered. “I just wanted to see her, Heyes. She left without saying goodbye, without us talking about what might be possible if we did get the amnesty.”

Sitting back down, Heyes watched as the Kid went over to retrieve his coffee cup and then came to sit beside the fire. “I was up all night thinking about what I should do,” Heyes told him reluctantly. “I was just trying to do what was best for both of you.”

His words thick with bitterness, Curry asked, “Did you even give her a choice?”

The air was thick with tension; the only sounds were the faint rustle of small creatures in the underbrush and the crackle of the fire. The silence stretched out until finally the Kid spoke.

“What you said about giving up on the amnesty,” he looked away for a moment before continuing, “Maybe that’s what I wanted to do. So she and I could start a life together.”

“And do you really think that would have worked?” Heyes tone held more than a note of disbelief.

Shrugging, his partner didn’t reply immediately. “I guess I didn’t really think it through, Heyes. I just know I loved her.”

“I know you did.” Heyes said quietly. “But I just don’t think it was the time or the place, Kid.”

“But what if we never get the amnesty? Then what?”

“I think we owe it to Lom to give it some more time. I know he wires the Governor once a month to try and persuade him to sign the pardons. I don’t think it would be fair to him, do you?”

Curry gave a loud snort. “Fair? What’s fair to us? Barely able to earn enough money to survive?”

Sighing heavily, Heyes reached for the coffee pot and poured himself another cup. “I don’t think any of us thought it would take this long. But I’m not ready to give up yet. It would be like walking away from a safe without trying to open it.”
The Kid gave him a skeptical look but refrained from commenting. Taking a sip of his coffee, Heyes asked, “Are you willing to give it another six months?”

“And then what? Another six? A year?”

“I don’t know, Kid,” Heyes tried to keep the exasperation he felt from creeping into his voice, “But we’ve come this far, I’d kinda like to see it through.”

Knowing that, for the moment, he didn’t really have a better plan, Curry nodded. “Allright, Heyes. We’ll play out the hand your way. But next time, let me decide what’s best for me, okay?”

Holding up his cup, Heyes nodded. “Deal.”






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Remuda

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Join date : 2013-10-27
Age : 41

PostSubject: Re: Jan 2014 - Giving Up   Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:40 pm

Happenstance

The old North Wind blew. And blew. And blew. Relentless cold permeated every nook and cranny of man and beast. An otherwise perfect blue sky and golden rays mocked travelers. As Sophocles in a later iteration of the fable might not have lost his cloak, a determined Kid Curry pulled his usually warm sheepskin jacket closer, try as he might to muffle the gusts. Still shivering, he yanked a long piece of cloth from a saddlebag, wrapped it around his hat and neck, tucking the ends into the top of his coat. Hannibal Heyes mirrored his actions, holding his head down both to keep from squinting and duck the freezing blasts. In a twist on the tale, the Sun would lose this day.

They picked up speed. The extra exertion soon warmed them but they slowed to let the horses set the pace. They had left riding hell bent for leather and bound for glory behind them, or so they thought.

"Heyes, how much money do we have?"

"Same as last time you asked."

"How much was it again?"

Heyes smirked. "You mean, how little? Two bits ain't gonna get us far. Barely enough for a penny ante game."

"Two bits? That's just sad."

"Something'll turn up, Kid. It always does."

Curry regarded his partner. "Does it? Seems we'd've been doin' better if we'd turned south a lot sooner than this."

"That's true. But we couldn't know it would turn cold so fast." Heyes looked up. "You know, the day looks nice but ..."

"Looks can be deceivin' ..."

"Right. So what we need now is a plan."

"A plan? Heyes, we've gone straight, remember?"

Brown eyes stared dead ahead. "Oh, I remember, all right."

"If what we need is a plan that'll get us some money, the only way we're gonna do that right now is to rob a bank. At least it's a job."

"I know, Kid. But as you just reminded me, we don't do that anymore."

"Well, unless you're gonna pull two jobs out of thin air, we're gonna freeze again tonight. Now if we had four bits instead of two, we could bed the horses down in a livery somewhere and stay in the barn with them. At least we'd have hay to keep us warm ..." Curry's belly growled. "... Although we'd have nothin' to eat."

Heyes struck an optimistic tone. "We still have enough flour and beans for a few meals, and with a little luck you'd be able to scare up some game."

Something caught Kid's eye. "There's a sign. Must be a town up ahead."

"See, Kid, our luck's changin' already. And I have a plan."

***

The batwing doors whinged as the partners stepped into the saloon.

"They sound like I feel."

Heyes smiled, extending an arm around Kid's shoulder. "A drink'll do us both good." He plunked down a dime. "Two whiskeys."

Curry surveyed the bar. "Any eggs?"

The bartender set two shot glasses in front of them. "Nope. This is a saloon. The cafe's across the street."

"Peanuts?"

"Nope. Can get those at the general store."

"Anything to go with a drink?"

The bartender scowled. "Son, if it's free food you're wantin', you came to the wrong place. Owner's not in the habit of givin' anything away."

Curry sighed. Holding the shot glass in front of him, he beheld the amber liquid. "To warmth!" He downed the whiskey in one gulp, making a face. "Uh! Rot gut!"

Heyes glanced at him before sipping his own drink. "Well, I have tasted better."

"Gents, if'n you want better, it comes dearer. You plunk down two bits each, I'll get out the good stuff."

"Two bits? Each?" Kid rolled his eyes. "That's highway robbery!"

The bartender smiled. "Not for the good stuff it ain't. 'Scuse me, gents." He walked to the other end of the bar to another customer.

Heyes sipped again.

"The good stuff? Like Kyle and the dynamite. Another reminder ..."

The dark-haired partner put his glass down, speaking in a low tone. "We've gone straight, remember? Let's get a table. Told ya, I got a plan."

***

Kid Curry lifted his head from the pillow. "What was that about a plan?"

Hannibal Heyes sat on the adjoining cot. "It's working."

"Maybe a little."

"Nope. It's working just fine."

The blond man held his head. "How do ya figure? I feel lousy and my head hurts."

"You're just in a bad mood." Heyes swept his arm around the cell. "We've had two days with a roof over our heads, meals, horses fed and watered. I've even won a dollar from the deputy. I'd say that's a pretty good investment of a coupla bits. You continue faking you're sick, we could probably stretch this another day or two. More time for me to win."

Curry rolled to his side. "I ain't fakin' -- I am sick! The food's lousy and the roof leaks. There's no heat from the stove this far back. I just wanna get warm; haven't been for days. So much for your plan."

"If the food was better, the roof didn't leak, and the stove was back here, you'd think it was fine."

Kid pulled his jacket tight. "Maybe. But that's a lot of supposin' and right now I'm still wearin' my jacket -- and I'm inside."

Heyes threw a blanket to his partner. "Here, this should help. Make it look more convincing to the sheriff."

Curry shivered as he pulled the cover around him. "Nobody needs convincin' I'm cold; just am. How come you're not?"

"It's a little chilly but not too bad. And that was convincing them that you're sick." Heyes stood and walked around the cell.

"I am sick!"

Heyes sighed. "Yeah, I know, sick of being cold, sick of bad food, just plain sick of it all." He lowered his voice. "Kid, you really gotta snap out of it. We've had it worse."

"Yeah, when?"

The dark-haired man continued to pace. "Well, that time we hid in that cave for two weeks in the middle of winter and the food ran out before the posse gave up. Talk about being cold and hungry!"

Kid coughed.

"So right now it's pretty good compared to that, I'd say. We get arrested to sleep off a drunk and we're still here a couple days later."

Kid deadpanned, "So we faked being drunk. I'm still cold."

Heyes wore a hurt expression. "Who was faking? We were drunk -- well, maybe we took it a bit far."

"Neither of us gets drunk on a whiskey and beer."

"But we played it just right. Sleepin' off a drunk, just as I planned."

Kid rolled onto his back, pulling his hat down over his face. "Where was my gettin' sick in your plan?"

Heyes chuckled. "It wasn't. Just a nice coincidence."

Curry lifted the hat. He glared at his partner. "Nice coincidence? You're cold, Heyes, real cold."

"Nah, it's cold outside. I'm pretty comfortable in here. You know what I mean."

Kid sat up. "Okay, so I got sick. That's the only reason I'm still here -- bad food. But you're fine, so why're you here?"

Dimples appeared. "Well, somebody has to look after ya with the doc away, and the sheriff and deputy got better things to do."

Curry lay down again. "If I don't feel better soon, I'll just give up and have them ship me to Wyomin'. The roof and food have to be better at the territorial prison."

Heyes spoke in a low tone. "You don't really mean that, do ya?"

"I don't know."

"You sound serious. Let's not even think about that." Heyes sounded concerned.

"Maybe I am serious. We were locked up first for being drunk and get a free place to stay with meals. Now, what're we still doin' here behind a locked door? The sheriff probably knows who we are and ain't sayin' so we don't get suspicious."

Heyes raised a brow. "Nah. He hasn't let on to anything like that."

Curry raised himself up on one elbow. "Then why's the door locked?"

The dark-haired man strode to the front of the cell. Grabbing the bars on the door, he shook them gently. Heyes pulled his arms tight around him and shivered. He walked to the barred window which looked out over a back alley. Bleak shadows snuffed out any rays that dared to penetrate. He leaned his forearms on the sill and stared. A period of time passed, seeming an eternity.

His partner's snores snapped him back to his senses.

"Wait!" Heyes extended an arm to the cot. "Kid, wake up."

"Huh?"

"We're getting outta here." Heyes reached for his boot. He grinned impishly as he held something up.

Weary blue eyes lit up. "Oh, Heyes, I plum forgot."

Heyes sighed. "So did I. Let's go. They're not here right now."

With renewed energy, Heyes had the lock picked just as Kid cleared the bed. They grabbed their gear and made their way to their horses.

As two ex-outlaws stole away, the North Wind calmed. Bellies still in need of nourishment and bodies of warmth, they pulled their coats around them still as snug but hopeful a new day's Sun would brighten their resolve.

_________________
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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