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 Feb 14 - Forty Niner

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Calico

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PostSubject: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:27 am

Greetings greetings!! purr  purr  purr 

Peep out from under your woolly hats and over your scarves to come see the Challenge set for February...

I was going to set one all around Rain...

Then I thought maybe something around Birthdays...

Then I thought - Nah, all far too easy for this erudite and prolific crowd of key board tappers.

So - thinking sideways on birthdays I decided at the last minute to give you all a chance to show off either your history or your lateral thinking (it's like regular thinking - but requires wine) and go with:



FORTY NINER


No of course it's not too hard.
Stop grumbling and kommence klicking those keys!


(PS: Anyone glancing sideways at my age and when it is due to click up should get the thought process!)
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stormr

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:00 pm

Well, I guess getting hit with more snow had at least a slight benefit - a little time to write.  No big bunnies but I did get a short challenge out of it.  And yes, you don't have to wonder, the cold and snow have gotten to me so I may be just a tab (or a lot) punch drunk or daft!  

Sounds of hammers, saws, and grunts echoed through Devil’s Hole.  A storm came through a couple of nights before causing a lot of damage.  The members of the gang worked throughout the compound cleaning up the debris and fixing what needed to be fixed.  Heyes and Kid were busy working on the corral fence.

“Forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine...er…Heyes, what comes after forty-nine?” Kyle called out.

“Fifty,” absently answered the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.  As the question sunk in Heyes lifted his head and turned to look at the man.  “Why?”

“Cause I’m countin’”

“Oh.”  Heyes went back to his work.  Stopping, he glanced at Kid with a puzzled look.

Kid returned the confused expression.  “Kyle, why are you countin’.”

“Cause it’s my job.”  He sat hunkered down behind the water trough.

The leaders exchanged another look.  Heyes opened his mouth to say something and closed it. Concern spread across his face.  “I thought your job was fixing the far side of the fence.”

“Yeah, but I thought this was more important.”

“More important?” Kid questioned Heyes.  Then calling out to Kyle, “More important than keepin’ our horses in the corral?”

“Yeah.”

Heyes stood up and stopped working.  “Kyle, what are you doing?”

“Told ya, I’m countin,’” he sighed. “Now ya made me lose count.”

Exasperated, Kid asked, “Why are you countin’?”

“So I know.”

Heyes took his hat off his head, ran his fingers through his hair and put it back on.  Taking a deep breath to calm his frustration, he tried again, “Know what?”

“How long ‘for the dynamite explodes.”

“Dynamite!” Kid exclaimed and then noticed Kyle’s position.  

The leaders glanced at each other and then dashed behind some hay bales.  

“Yep,” he spit some chew.  “Aww, ya talkin’ t' me and I lost count again… forty-seven, forty-eight…forty…”

“Kyle!” Heyes interrupted

“Nine...er, yeah, Heyes?”

“Why are you playing with dynamite?”

“I ain’t playin’.  Gotta check when it’s gonna blow.”

“We already know that,” Kid stated, hands lightly covering his ears, head tucked down.

“Only for the good stuff,” the scruffy man asserted.

“This isn’t the good stuff?”  Heyes, positioned next to Kid, peeked out around the bale.

“Nope, we’s out of the good stuff.”

Heyes sat up.“We’re out of the good stuff?”

“Yep…forty-nine…er….aw Heyes ya keep interuptin’!”

The partners looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  “When did we run out of the good stuff?”  

“While ‘go.”  Kyle hemmed.

“We still got the regular stuff,” Kid stated.

“Nope, that’s gone too.”  Kyle shook his head and spit out more chew.  Good thing he kept track of the dynamite.

“So what are you using?” the dark haired leader stood up and looked over the bale of hay.

“This stuff.”

“This stuff?  What is ‘this stuff’?”

The lopsided grin slipped off his face as he shook his head.  “Not so good.”

Kid stood up next to Heyes.  “How long a fuse did you use?”

“‘Bout a foot,” Kyle stated.

“A foot!  Should’ve blown by now!”  Heyes exclaimed.

“Ah-ha,” he agreed.  Shrugging his shoulders he stood up as the leaders headed over to him.

“Where’d ya get this stuff?” Kid asked.

“Bottom of the lake,” he turned his head and spit again.

“Bottom of the lake!  Why are we out of the good stuff and why was this at the bottom of the lake?” Heyes yelled.

A lopsided grin spread across his face, “This were the good stuff, ‘til it fell into the lake.”

Blue eyes stared, imploring more details.

“See, we was movin’ it 'for the storm, so it don’t get wet…”

The partners turned and looked at each other.

“And well…um…well…”

“Spit it out Kyle,” Heyes stated in his leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang voice.

“We was jus’ messin’ ‘round, and the horse spooked so it dumped its load.”

“Messin’ around?”  Kid asked.

Kyle shrugged, “It was just one stick.”  He shrugged then smiled so big he showed his teeth covered in chew.  “It was the good stuff!!!  Yep, boy oh boy did it blow!”

“So you dumped the good stuff in the lake,” Heyes groaned.

“We fished it out and dried it.”

The leaders shook their heads.

“We have a job in three days,” Kid sighed.

“That’s why I’s checkin’ it out,” Kyle stated as he puffed out his chest.

“We have to make a supply run before the job, Kid,” Heyes told his partner.  

“We gotta give it a chance,” implored the scruffy outlaw.

“You gave it a chance, Kyle,” the blond leader explained.  “It’s been, what, five minutes probably longer since you lit a foot fuse.”

“Where’d you plant the dynamite?” Heyes asked.

“Under that pile of branches.” He pointed at a pile of debris not far from them.

As the three took a step towards the pile, BOOM!  The pile exploded, the ground shook, and the three men were knocked off their feet as little pieces of wood rained down all over them.  

“It worked!!” Kyle exclaimed, getting to his feet he jumped up and down.  “I told ya it would!!!  See, it’s still the good stuff!”

Heyes shook his head lightly, “Kyle, how much dynamite did you use?”  

“A whole bunch!!!”  He pulled his pants up by the belt loops.  “It were wet ya know.”

The dark haired leader shook his head again and tapped his ear.  Picking his hat off the ground, he swatted it a few times to get the dust off and then placed it on his head.    

Kid grabbed his hat and staggered to his feet. Seeing Heyes still on the ground, he put out his hand and helped his cousin up.  

The partners looked at each other, brushed debris off their coats and then turned towards the fence.  

“We’s good?” Kyle called after the leaders.

Heyes groaned and his eyes bulged at the question.

“Yeah, yeah,” Kid waved his hand as he stumbled towards the fence.  

“We leave for a supply run as soon as the ringing stops in my ear,”  Heyes said under his breath.

“Oh yeah," Kid replied as he rubbed his head.








Last edited by stormr on Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:43 pm

Forty-Niner
By Maz McCoy


“Kid?”  There was no reply from the bundle beneath the blanket on the other side of the fire. “Kid, you awake?”
Again no reply.
“KID!”
“What?”
“You awake?”
“No.”
Heyes sat up, but wrapped his blanket around him against the chill of the night. “I’ve been thinking.”
“Thought you might.”
“About tomorrow.”
“Probably is tomorrow,” a tired voice muttered.
“Huh?”
“Go to sleep, Heyes.”
“I can’t I’ve been thinking.”
“Well, I haven’t. So go to sleep.” The blanket was pulled tighter.
“This is important.”
“So’s sleepin’.”
The fire snapped and crackled as Heyes considered this. Edging closer to the flames he threw another branch onto the fire and watched as it caught light. Kid turned over, his eyes appearing above the blanket. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Just building up the fire.”
“It went quiet. I figured you were up to somethin’.”
Heyes smiled. “No, but now you’re awake we can talk.”
“I’m not awake, Heyes.”
“How ‘bout some coffee? That’ll wake you up?” Heyes pulled on his gloves.
“I don’t want to wake up!”
Heyes reached for the coffee pot and picked up a mug. Despite his friend’s protestations he poured out the steaming liquid then, standing, shuffled across the camp, blanket wrapped around him Indian-style. “Here.” He placed the cup on the ground beside Kid. Two blue eyes glared back at him.
“Don’t you ever take no for an answer?”
“You’ve known me long enough to answer that one.” In socked feet, Heyes shuffled back to his own side of the fire and poured himself a cup of coffee. He lowered himself to the ground and sat crossed legged as his took a sip. He hid a grimace. “S’good.”
“You usually lie better than that.” Kid threw back his blanket and sat up. He shivered then threw the blanket around his shoulders, mirroring Heyes. Despite his better judgement he picked up the coffee. “So, what is it?”
Heyes smiled. “I knew you wanted to know.”
“No, I don’t but I figure askin’ is the only way to shut you up.” Through half closed eyes he looked at the coffee then took a sip. Sheesh you could almost chew the stuff. “So go on. Whatcha been thinkin’ about?”
“Tomorrow.”
“You said that.”
“We’ll be in a different country.”
“I know.”
“I’ve never been there before.”
“I know.”
“Some of them might speak French.”
“So?”
“Could be difficult finding work.”
“Why? Do we have to speak French to work?”
“I don’t know. That’s just it. There’s a lot I don’t know about the place.”
Kid smiled. “Never known you to be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous.” Kid smiled at him. “All right I’m nervous!”
“I thought you told me it was just like movin’ to another state? A state where we’re not wanted. A state where they speak English. Where we’ll find work. You said they have ranches. They do have ranches?”
“Yeah. I heard of them. The Sundance Kid worked on one.”
Kid’s eyes narrowed. “We don’t talk about him.”
“I know but he did. So we know they have ranches.”
“Then there’s nothin’ to worry about. ‘cept this stuff.” Kid threw his coffee into the nearby bushes. “Can I go to sleep now?”
“Kid…”
“What?”
“We might hafta become Canadian.”
“We can’t stay Kansans?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well sheesh, Heyes, what do you know?”
“I know it’s a big step. Crossing the forty-ninth.”
“I told you that!”
“I know. I guess I’m just getting cold feet.”
“From what you told me about the weather up there that ain’t all that’s gonna get cold.” Kid looked across the flames at his friend, bathed in an orange glow. “You’re right, Heyes, it’s worth a try. We’ve been waitin’ a long time for amnesty and it don’t look like we’ll get it anytime soon. Let’s try out luck in Canada. What could go wrong?”

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:40 am

February 2014 – Forty Niner

Curry watched through the blinding snow as his partner began leaning to the right.  “Heyes!” he yelled as he could, doubting his partner heard him over the freezing wind.  “Heyes!”

In slow motion, Hannibal Heyes slid off his horse into the deep snow.

The Kid jumped from his horse and plowed his way through the snow to him.  “Heyes…”  He turned him over and quickly noticed the pale skin, bright red cheeks, and bluish lips.  He patted him on the face.  “Fine time to take a nap!  Com’on… wake up!”

Heyes shivered and fluttered his eyes.

“That’s right; wake up!”  The Kid rushed his hands up and down his partner’s arms and back, trying to warm him up and get the blood moving again.

Brown eyes peered up.  “Soooo c-cold,” he stuttered.

“I told you to get a warmer jacket than this thin gray one.”  Curry removed his scarf and wrapped it around Heyes’ head.  “We gotta find some shelter from this blizzard.”

The Kid stood up and grabbed his partner’s arm, pulling him up.  “Help me out here, Heyes.  I gotta get you back on your horse.”  He tugged hard and succeeded in getting him back on his feet.  “No way can you ride alone.”  Curry sighed heavily as he figured out which horse was able to take them both.  “Heyes, I hate to do this to you, but…”  The Kid leaned forward towards his partner and lifted him up and over a horse.

“Humph…” Heyes grunted as he was slung over the saddle.

“Sorry, partner, none of the horses can take two riders in this snow,” Curry said as he wrapped both bedrolls around Heyes and tied him to the saddle horn.  “I’ll find us some shelter, soon.”

The Kid led his gelding to the front and mounted, holding on to the mare’s reins.


~ * ~ * ~


Curry wiped a large snowflake from his eyelash then rubbed his eyes.  There to the right was a small cabin with smoke coming from the chimney.  He encouraged the horses forward.  “Hang on, Heyes!  We’re almost there!”


~ * ~ * ~


The Kid slid off his horse and made his way up the cabin porch.  He pounded on the door.  “Hey!  I need some help!”

A moment later, the door cracked open, a rifle barrel aimed outside.  “What do ya want?”

“Please… We need shelter.  My partner’s in a bad way.”

The rifle went down and door opened wider.  “Dang fool travelin’ in this weather.”  An old man peered outside.  “Whatcha waitin’ for – bring him in!”

Curry nodded and untied Heyes, pulling him towards him so he could sling him over a shoulder.  He faltered, but caught his balance, and trudged back up the porch and into the warm cabin room.

The door shut behind him.  “Just put him on the floor by the fire and then go take care of your horses.  There’s a lean-to out back.  It’ll give ‘em some shelter from the worst of it.  Some hay in there, too.”

“Thank you.  Appreciate it.”  Curry took the scarf off of Heyes and wrapped it around his own head.  “I’ll be back to take care of him.”


~ * ~ * ~


The horses were bedded down with another horse in a large lean-to when the Kid stomped the snow off his boot before entering the cabin.  He knocked once and cautiously entered the cabin, his arms full with the saddle bags and rifles.  

The old man put another quilt over Heyes.  “He’s about frozen.  What possessed you to travel in this kinda weather?”

Curry shivered as he removed his hat, scarf and jacket.  “Was nice and sunny when we left the valley.  Didn’t know a storm was comin’.”  He removed his boots.  “How’s he doin’?”

“He’s alive.  If you got dry clothes, you better change into them.  I took off his wet clothes.”

The Kid noticed his partner’s clothes hanging on a chair to dry and his boots by the fireplace.  He forced his frozen hands to open the saddle bags.

“Here.”  The man handed him a tin mug of coffee.  “Drink this and I’ll do that for you.”

Shivering, the Kid sipped the hot drink and sighed as he felt the heat go down his body.  “Thanks, Mister…”

“The name’s Walt.  Just Walt.  No mister.”  Walt opened the clasp of the bag and pulled out socks, pants and a shirt.  He put them by the fire to warm up.  “Give ‘em a second before you go changin’ into ‘em.  You got a name?”

“Thaddeus.  And that’s my partner, Joshua, layin’ by your fire.  Appreciate you takin' us in, Walt.”  Curry walked over to the fire and felt Heyes’ cheek.  “He’s still too cold.”

“Give him some time… he’ll warm up.”

The Kid held his cold fingers by the fire, warming them so he could unbutton his shirt and pants.  A minute later, he shed the wet clothes and put on his warm, dry ones.  He sat down on the floor by the fire, his toes wiggling near the flames.  “That feels better.”

Walt threw on another log on the fire and dished up a bowl of stew.  “I suppose you’re hungry, too.”

“Yes, sir.”  Curry gratefully took the bowl of steaming stew.  He looked around the sparse cabin with a single bed, a table, a chair, shelves with supplies, a small stove, and a rocking chair.  “You live up here alone?”

“Yep.”

“What do you…”

Heyes stirred and shivered.  

Curry put down the bowl and checked on him.  “Joshua?”

Heyes shivered, again, and went silent.

Picking up his bowl of stew, the Kid started again, “What do you do up here, Walt?  Trap?”

“Nope.”

Curry took the brief answer to mean "subject closed."  For the time being.

“It’s late.  Once you’re warmed up, crawl under them covers and it’ll warm up your friend better.”  Walt stood up and stretched, making his way to his bed.  “I’ll see ya in the mornin’.”

“Yes, sir.”  The Kid yawned and crawled over to his partner.  He lay down on the side away from the fire and pulled the covers so they were over both of them.  He rolled Heyes over so their backs were touching and Heyes’ front faced the fire.  Soon there was snoring heard in the cabin from the bed and the floor.


~ * ~ * ~


“Kid?”

Curry quickly rolled over and grinned at the weary brown eyes staring at him.  “Joshua, it’s about time you warmed up,” he whispered, stressing the name.

“Where are we?” Heyes spoke quietly, taking the cue.

“Walt’s cabin.”  Curry got up, poured a glass of water, and handed it to Heyes.  “Drink that and go back to sleep.”

“Okay.”  Heyes drank the water and yawned as he curled back under the blankets.


~ * ~ * ~


The next morning, Heyes and Curry woke to the smell of coffee.  They stretched and yawned.

“Mornin’, sleepy heads!” Walt said.  “Don’t have enough cups for both of you.”

“Joshua, this is our host, Walt,” the Kid said as introduction.  He pulled the blankets away and shivered as he made his way to their saddle bags.  “We have our cups in here.”  He pulled one out and made his way to the stove to pour some coffee.

Heyes sat up and took a cup from Curry.  “Appreciate you taking us in, Walt.”

“Don’t get much company up here, especially this time of year.  Dang foolish travelin’ up here in the Sierras this time of year.”

“Like I said, it was nice in Sacramento – sunny and not too cold,” Curry said, defending their decision.

“Yeah, well it can be nice in the valley and snowin’ up here.  Back in ’46, that Donner party got stuck in these parts.  Ever heard of ‘em?”  When both men shook their heads, Walt continued, “They made it so far when we got heavy snow.  Ate their oxen and leather shoes before resortin’ to eatin’ their dead ones.  About forty survived to make it to Fort Sutter.  That’s Sacramento now.”

“Ate their… I can’t imagine bein’ that hungry.”  Curry shivered at the thought.

“Now that you mention it, I think I did read something about that.  Made the news all over, didn’t it?” Heyes asked.

“Yep, it shore did.”  Walt turned towards his supplies.  “What to eat today… beans, beans, or beans.”  He turned to his guests.  “I wasn’t plannin’ for company.  I don’t suppose you have any food.”

“Sure do.”  The Kid pulled his saddle bag over.  “We got bacon, flour for biscuits, a few eggs and… beans.  I don’t mind cookin’ something up.”

“Go ahead!”  Walt poured himself some coffee and sat in the rocker by the fire.

“I’ll help…”  Heyes started getting up and lost his balance.

“You take it easy, young man!  Came as close to freezin’ as you can without dyin’ last night.  And you didn’t eat anything last night.  Just stay there and work on gettin’ better so you can leave once the snow stops.”

“Walt’s right, Joshua.  You sit there and I’ll make the meal.”

“If you insist.”  Heyes got himself comfortable leaning against the wall by the fireplace.  “Thaddeus, you know who Walt reminds me of?”

“Clarence.  I thought the same thing.”  Curry sliced the bacon and put it in the hot pan.

“Who’s Clarence?” Walt asked.

“Just a miner in Colorado.  Spent the winter with him and some other boys when the weather turned,” Heyes explained.

“Don’t you get any ideas of spendin’ the winter here!”

“We won’t, Walt.  As soon as we can, we’re headin’ off the mountains.”  Heyes sipped his coffee.  “Are we closer to the valley or Reno?”

“I go to Truckee for my supplies so I suppose you’re closer to Reno.  Which way are you boys headed.”

“Colorado.”  The Kid turned the sizzling bacon.

“You can catch the train outta Truckee, if you got any money,” Walt informed them.  “Dang fangled thing.  Amazin’ they made it over the mountains, if you ask me.  Why, I remember when there weren’t no train around here.”

“Been here long?” Heyes asked.

“Since ’49!  Came across country with my mule and supplies all the way from St. Louie.”

Heyes whistled.  “One of the original forty-niners.”

“Yep!  I remember these hills filled with men, especially around the creks.  Hard to get a land claim.”

Curry pulled the bacon from the pan and cracked three eggs.  “Did you get much gold back then, Walt?”

“Enough.  Hard work.”

“It sure is,” Heyes agreed.

“You two panned for gold?”

“A few times in Colorado.  One of the times is when we met Clarence.  Another time we pulled the gold out of a mine.  Used one of those cradles and water to separate the gold from the dirt.”

“Seth…” Curry said quietly; only his partner heard.

“Any gold left in California?”  Heyes noticed Walt’s worried look.  “Not that we want to pan anymore.  Too much work on the back for us.”

“Let’s just say that I make do.”  Walt looked over to the stove.  “How’s that breakfast comin’ along?”

“Just about done.”  The Kid pulled two plates from the saddle bags and another from the shelf before putting the bacon and eggs on them.  “Here you go.”  He passed a plate to Walt and Heyes.

“Looks like the snow is lettin’ up some,” Walt noticed.  “You fellas might be able to go in the mornin’ after you and the horses rest up some more.”


~ * ~ * ~


That evening, the three men shared a bottle of whiskey Heyes had and played cards.  Walt began talking more as the evening went and the level of the bottle lowered.

Heyes dealt out the cards.  “So Walt, who’s that picture of the pretty gal by your bed?”

Walt got misty eyed.  “That was my daughter, Clementine.”

“You had a family?” the Kid asked.

“My sweet Betsy died of the flu in ’59.  And Clementine… well, I was busy with the pannin’ and didn’t notice how close she was to the water.  She fell in… lost and gone forever…”  A hankie came out and a nose was blown.  “My darlin’ Clementine …”  He shook himself out of his reverie a few moments later.  “Who’s turn is it?”

“Yours,” Heyes said, sympathetically.

Walt threw down a few cards.  “Hit me.”


~ * ~ * ~


The next day was sunny and warmer, the snow melting off the roof of the cabin.  Heyes and Curry were saddling up their horses and storing their gear.

“Where’d Walt go?” the Kid asked.

Heyes tightened the cinch.  “Probably checkin’ his cache to make sure we didn’t find it.”

“Sad life losin’ your family and livin’ up here all alone.”

“Yeah, but he seems okay with it or he’d live closer to a town.”

“Good thing he didn’t or…”  Curry didn’t finish his thought.

Heyes nodded in agreement.  “A good thing.”

Walt came from around the building.  “You two still here?”

“Just about to leave, Walt.”  Curry shook his hand.  “Appreciate you takin’ us in.”

Heyes pulled out a gold coin.  “For your trouble.”

Walt waved the money away.  “You keep it – buy yourself a warmer jacket.”

Heyes nodded and pocketed the coin.  “Will do.”

“Truckee is due east.  You shouldn’t miss it.  By the head of a long lake where that Donner party camped.”

“We should be able to find the railroad tracks and follow them in.”  Heyes mounted his horse.

“Nope.  The track is huggin’ the mountain – might not see it with those snow sheds they built.  Better if you get down by the lake and follow the river in.”

“Take care, Walt, and thank you!”  Heyes reached down and shook Walt’s hand.

“Bye!  You two stay outta trouble now, ya hear?”  Walt called out as they left and he turned to walk back into his cabin.

“We always stay outta trouble,” Heyes commented.

Curry snirted.  “We stay away, but trouble has a way of findin’ us.  Let’s go, partner.  I'm done travelin' by horse.  We have a train to catch.”

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PostSubject: California Gold in answer to Forty-Niner Challenge   Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:01 am

California Gold by Wichita Red

Working on his fourth cup of coffee, Heyes watched Kid demolish the stack of pancakes in front of him and methodically move on to the omelet and, slab of ham with the same determination. Halfway through a side order of biscuits and gravy, he stopped chewing long enough to say, “So what’s the plan you want to tell me?”

“Plan?” Heyes said motioning to the waitress for more coffee.

“Joshua this is probably the best mood you’re gonna catch me in today. So if you’re wanting to silver-tongue me to one of your schemes, I’d say you best start now.”

Heyes smiled at the pretty serving girl as she filled his cup and took away the empty plates. “Our last jobs, lined our pockets pretty nicely but I’ve got a plan that is sure to increase our bankroll even more.”

Kid took another bite of ham and washed down with orange juice, his blue eyes boring into his partner.

“Now don’t look at me like that. This plan is foolpr--.”

“If you say that word, I’m gonna say no just out of principal.”

Heyes swallowed once, his smile increasing, “Why Thaddeus you sound like you don’t trust my ideas.”

“If we’re going by your recent track record,” He took another bite, “I don’t.”

Folding up the newspaper, he had been reading, Heyes tapped it against his crossed leg, “Well, I’ll admit we’ve had some unusual outcomes but I’m still trying to get a handle on this whole honest living.”

Kid shook his head.

“Well I am.”

“What’s your plan?”

“I tell you we’ll make more money than a forty-niner.”

“I’m not digging in the dirt. I’ve told you I’m done with mining.”

“Me too. Me too.” Heyes nodded laying the on the table and spinning it, so Kid could see the section he had folded down to. “But, I’m talking about a different kind of gold.”

To read the rest of this tale you can find it at either of these sites:  Archive of our Own   or   FanFic

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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:24 pm

“A steamboat?!” growled Wheat Carlson, “Are you crazy?  You’ve always been a little strange, Heyes, but now you’ve gone over the edge for sure.  This plan’s plumb crazy!”

“Wheat,” warned the Kid.  He known there’d be some trouble with the plan.  He’d warned Heyes that he was biting off more than he could chew, more than they all could chew, but his partner was bound and determined to pull this one off.  He knew why, too.  If Heyes’ plan worked, the Devil’s Hole gang would be famous all over the West.  Heyes had taken over the gang six months ago at the age of twenty-three and, while they’d done several successful small jobs, he wanted a splashy robbery that would make them legends and not just local Wyoming outlaws.  That was fine with Curry, he thought he might like being famous for something other than his quickdraw.  He’d seen the plan, it could work, and it was his job to see that the boys didn’t mutiny before they boarded the boat.

Wheat couldn’t believe it.  Heyes wanted to rob a steamboat!  “Hell, how’re we gonna do this?  Most of these boys can’t swim a stroke.”  His arm swept around the room taking in the motley band of outlaws gathered at the leader’s cabin in Devil’s Hole.

“We ain’t swimming it down, Wheat.  We’ll ride in same as we always do,” said Heyes.

“What?  You got horses that can walk on water?” snorted Wheat.  The rest of the gang chuckled and guffawed as the big man continued to challenge his leader.  The boys weren’t too excited by this idea of Heyes’, but they'd let Carlson do their bellyaching for them. He always did a fine job of it and they never suffered the consequences.

Heyes smiled, but it was a cold, wolfish smile that didn’t reach his eyes.  Wheat knew enough to shut up and listen when his young leader got that look in his eye.  He looked over his shoulder at the other men, but he saw no support there so he shrugged and sat down.

“Better,” said Heyes, “I’ve got a plan that’ll work.  If you’ll shut up, I’ll tell it to you.”

“Let’s hear it then.  Boy howdy, I’d like to know how we’re gonna rob a steamboat.  Wouldn’t you like to know, boys?”  Carlson laughed and waited for the others to join in.  They didn’t.

Wanting to wipe that smug grin off his irritating lieutenant’s face, Heyes, instead, held up a map and unfurled it with the Kid’s help.  “This here’s a map of the Missouri River.  The boat we’re looking at left St. Louis thirty-five days ago carrying a cargo of supplies to Fort Benton.”  He traced a line from the Mississippi’s port city to the heart of Montana.

“Supplies?” Wheat shook his head, “What?  We’re stealin’ food now?”

“Wheat, shut up,” growled the Kid.  He was beginning to lose his patience.

“Yes; things the Fort can use for trade or to sell; tools, lumber, food, blankets, and, best of all, …money.”  Heyes knew he had them now.  Several chairs slammed onto the wooden floor with loud, hollow rings, and sweaty, unwashed bodies gathered closer together.  He could smell Kyle off to his left.  The little outlaw emitted a distinctive miasma of body odor, tobacco, and cordite.

“Now, yer talkin’,” Kyle grinned and displayed his blackened, tobacco-stained teeth.  The other men nodded their approval and Wheat knew that the time for objections had passed.  He sat back; his arms crossed defiantly, and fell silent as his leader related the latest Hannibal Heyes plan.

OOOOOOOOOO

The early morning sunlight sparkled off the river as the Missouri flowed easterly past the mounted outlaws standing along the shoreline.  Far off to the east, in the distance, they could see smoke curling above the trees and into the bright, blue skies.  The steamboat was coming.  

Kyle and Hank were stowing their axes in their rifle scabbards as their boss surveyed their handiwork.  Over the past two hours, the men had taken turns chopping and dropping six tall, heavily-branched trees into the narrow section of the river.  Using their lariats and horses to shift them into position, Heyes and Lobo had finally gotten them where they wanted them.  The trunks of four trees spanned the distance from the bank to the sandbar that bowed out from the opposite shore and two more trees were submerged under water and tied in place to the other trees forming an effective blockade.  This was a tight spot in the river and one that was routinely dredged by the steamboat companies.  Over the last decade, the sandbar had been a navigational hazard that had victimized many of the steamboat captains.  Heyes was hoping it was about to stymie another.

“Wheat, you take Kyle, Hank, and Preacher to the other side.  You can hunker down in those willows by that clump of cottonwoods.  When the boat runs aground, get ready, and wait for Kid’s signal.  One wave and then you go.  Run like hell, but stay in the shadow of the boat so you’re harder to see.  Got it?”

“Yeah, we got it,” said Wheat.  He turned and mumbled, out of Heyes’ earshot, “Damn fool plan’s gonna get us all killed.”  He gestured for his friends to join him and then nudged his gelding into the water.  Soon, four horses swam steadily across the swift current.  They were swept slightly down stream, but all animals emerged from the water and shook themselves dry.  The humans were not quite as lucky.  Carlson led his small, bedraggled band of men to the hiding spot and soon disappeared from Heyes’ sight.

“Ready, Kid?” asked Heyes.  He could hear the boat’s engine now.  Lobo and Ike Wilson had taken the horses and were picketing them far enough away from the riverbank that they’d neither be seen nor heard.  

Kid Curry had shinnied up one of the many remaining trees and now had a sniper’s advantage.  He would keep his friends covered and, if necessary, throw enough of a scare into the steamboat mates that there would be no bloodshed.  He waved in answer to his partner’s question not wanting his voice to carry through the crisp fall air.

Heyes, Lobo, and Ike hid from sight and waited for the boat to arrive.  If the plan worked, they’d almost be able to hop onto the steamboat without getting their feet wet.

OOOOOOOOOO

As soon as the boat rounded the bend, the captain spotted the downed trees and blasted his horn to warn his hands to be on alert.  It wasn’t uncommon for trees to blow down and impede the riverway, but, dammit, this was the worst possible spot it could happen.  Euphrase Bend was coming up soon and it had already claimed seven steamboats in the short history of running the Missouri.  He didn’t need to run aground on a sandbar when he should be preparing to run the trickiest curve in the watercourse.

They’d been making good time from St. Louis; averaging over four miles per hour but, now that they were negotiating the upper end of the Missouri, they’d slowed to a measly two miles per hour.  That put the Annie Lee not too far from Glasgow, Montana, but still pretty much out in the middle of nowhere.  If they ran aground here, they’d have no help getting her off the bar.  It was a full day’s walk to Glasgow and it could put them behind schedule by several days.  

Phineas Shelton wished, not for the first or the last time, he was still piloting the old Forty Nine under Captain Leonard White.  He’d planned to replace the man when he retired.  The bust of the Gold Rush had put an end to those dreams.   On its last southbound voyage out of Big Bend, British Columbia, the Forty Nine had carried only three paying customers.  

At thirty-four years old, Phineas Shelton had found himself with a wife and two children to feed and no job.  He thought about turning his hand to mining and actually becoming a forty-niner or, more accurately, a sixty-sixer but the gold, along with the economy, had all but dried up.  He wouldn’t subject his family to such a rough life for a meager existence.  Instead, he bid farewell to friends and relatives in Washington Territory, moved his family east to St. Louis, and picked up work with one of the steamboat lines based there.  It took seven more years for Shelton to work his way up to Captain and it was times like this when he wondered why he’d ever wanted his own boat.  He missed Washington and the cool beauty of the Cascades.  The open prairie of the inner west held no allure for him and its main river was a treacherous nightmare, but steamboats were disappearing from the western landscapes and he’d been lucky to get on the Annie Lee.  He’d be damned if he’d lose his job now.

At one hundred and sixty-five feet long and thirty feet abeam, the Annie Lee was one of the larger boats to travel the Missouri River, but far smaller and lighter than the Columbia River boats.  If she hung up here, though, she was still big enough that no one would get past her until she was free.  Captain Shelton picked up the engine room voice pipe and shouted down to the boiler room for the engineer to be ready to cut power.  He clutched the wheel and braced for impact.  It was his hope that the Annie Lee could bust her way through the trees and avoid the sandbar altogether.  

As the steel plating of the sturdy ship ran afoul of the trees, a horrific shriek filled the air.  The snarl scraped along the metal hull eliciting protest from the stricken Annie Lee.  She crushed the first tree into shards, but the second and third held; pushing her towards the nearby bank and away from the sandbar that was brushing her on the starboard side.  The fourth tree had been smaller and was driven down by the broad beam of the hull, breaking loose the two trees tied in place with several trailing ropes.  The two trunks skidded on either side of the keel, the ropes holding them chained to one another, only to pop up and get lifted out of the water by the sternwheeler’s paddles.  Scooped up, the trees and ropes became hopelessly tangled, and the blades came to a grinding halt.  The boat was snared like a trapped rabbit.

Shelton screamed over the voice pipes for the firemen to look sharp, called out for the engineer to cut the clanking engines, and ordered all roustabouts on deck.  He could hear the mad scramble of booted footsteps clanging up the metal stairs of the gangway and a breathless man poked his head into the wheelhouse.  “Captain?”

“Davis, get your men down there and clear out those trees; then push us off.  Have Foster send someone to inspect the wheel.”   Orders belayed, Shelton turned back and saw, to his astonishment, four armed men clambering over the bow.  He heard more yelling from the stern and, glancing in that direction, he saw three more men standing on the deck with pistols drawn and aimed at his men.  It was a robbery!  He reached for the voice pipe to warn the engineer to lock down the cargo hold, but no words passed his lips as the hard steel of Wheat Carlson’s gun pressed into his back.

“I wouldn’t do that if’n I was you,” said the imposing, mustached outlaw, his hand steady, and a warning in his light, brown eyes.  Shelton dropped the mouthpiece.

A smaller man emerged from behind the big man and grinned a filthy smile at Shelton before tearing the voice pipes from the wall.  “Now, we don’t want no trouble, Cap’n.”

“Keep him covered, Kyle,” smiled Wheat, “Hank and me will go below deck and make sure everything’s nice and shipshape.  Preacher, let Heyes know we’ve got the Captain secured.”  The small outlaw nodded and a third, gaunt, austere man in black scurried down the passageway to the stern.  The big outlaw and the fourth man disappeared down the gangway, making little or no noise as they descended.  Shelton watched them go until his attention was captured by a dark-haired man entering the wheelhouse alone.

“Howdy, Captain,” said Heyes with a broad grin.  “Have a seat.”  He gestured with his gun for the man to sit on the wooden stool behind the helm.  

“What do you want?” said Shelton as he sat down, keeping his hands up.  “We’re only carrying goods for Fort Benton.”

Kyle snorted.

The grin disappeared and a hard look came into Heyes’ eyes.  “Lying isn’t going to work, Captain.  I know you’re carrying the payroll, too, so let’s make this real easy on both of us.  You give me the combination, and we’ll be gone before you know it.”

“I don’t know the combination,” said the captain.  “Wells Fargo loaded that safe into the hold and it’ll get off-loaded at the fort.  There’s no reason for me to have to open it.”  He was feeling triumphant at subverting the theft and failed to keep a smug smile from his face.

Heyes stared at him as he pulled out his silver pocket watch and glanced at the time before snapping it shut.  “Well, then, Captain, I’m afraid you’ll be hosting us a little longer while we open that safe.  Get up.”

Shelton stood, unsure of what he’d heard.  “Open the safe?  How are you going to open the damn safe without a combination?”

“Well, funny you should ask,” drawled a voice behind the captain.  Shelton spun around to find another armed, blond-haired man smiling at him.  “Mornin’.”  He lifted his hat in greeting and his eyes turned glacial.  “Take us to the safe.”

Defeated, the captain quickly led the two outlaws to the cargo hold.  The safe was on the far wall of the hold and as Heyes crossed the hatchway, his eyes fell on it, and his heart leaped with delight.  It was a Miller Model 61 with a four-tumbler dial.  He could open one with his eyes closed.  Kneeling down in front of the safe, he pulled off his black hat, and placed it on the floor next to him.  He smiled up at his partner, flexed his fingers repeatedly, and leaned his ear against the metal door listening for the subtle click of the tumblers.  A look of utter contentment crept onto his face.

Shelton watched the man, fascinated.  He’d heard that there were men who could open safes by manipulation, but had never heard of a common outlaw who could.  Now he was watching it happen in front of his very eyes.  Who was this man?

After less than five minutes, a distinctive click signaled the safe was cracked and Heyes sat up; pulling the door open.  He leaned into the safe and came out with a canvas bag marked Wells Fargo.  Pulling the cord that bound it open, he glanced inside, and an impossibly wide, dimpled grin creased his face.  “It’s all here, Kid; more than six thousand dollars.”  He tossed the bag to his partner and stood up.  “Captain, we’re gonna leave now, but I’d recommend not trying to stop us.  This here’s Kid Curry and he’s going to be covering us as we go.”  Satisfied to see the older man flinch at the easily recognizable name, Heyes pulled out a couple of pieces of latigo from his pocket and tied the captain securely to a post.  “Oh, and by the way, you can let Wells Fargo know that it was the Devil’s Hole gang that robbed you.”

“The Devil’s Hole gang?  Never heard of it,” said Shelton.

“Well, you have now,” said the Kid.  “That there’s Hannibal Heyes and he leads the gang.”

“What the hell are you telling me for, you damn fool; do you want to get caught?” snapped Shelton.

“No sir, we just want credit where credit is due,” Heyes chuckled.  He used his own bandana to gag the poor man and then stood back to observe his handiwork.  “You ought to be able to work those loose in an hour or two if your men don’t find you first.  Much obliged, Captain.”  Tipping his hat, Heyes and the Kid hurried back up the steps to the main deck where they found their men ready to go.  The roustabouts, the firemen, and the engineer had been tightly bound together and were sitting passively on the poop deck.  

Even Wheat smiled at the sight of the canvas bag.  “Well, I’ll be, Heyes.  Guess it wasn’t such a stupid idea after all.”

“That’s high praise coming from you, Wheat,” Heyes said, feeling generous now that the job was over.  

The outlaws slipped over the side of the boat and waded onto dry land.  The sound of their noisy departure could be heard from the deck and the steamboat crew watched as the riders burst from cover and galloped off; hooting and hollering.

“Who were those guys?” said the engineer, working hard to loosen his bindings.

Davis squinted, watching the dust trail rising through the trees.  “Who the hell knows?  But, I can tell you this, they’re in big trouble now.”  

Author’s note:

The Annie Lee sunk at Euphrase Bend in 1881.  The Forty Nine was also a real steamboat that ran the Columbia River.  Here’s an interesting link for more information:  http://www.riverboatdaves.com/docs/moboats.html

Voice pipes, or megaphones, were used for communication aboard ships. Consisting of a tube and two cones made of wood or metal on either end, one end was shaped to speak into the other was flared to amplify the sound traveling down the tube to its destination.  Multiple destinations required multiple voice pipes.  These were also commonly found in building and houses but were somewhat larger in diameter aboard ship.

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

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:40 pm

Forty-niner

February 24, 1879-ish


"You know what today is?"  The question came from Hannibal Heyes.  He sat at the long dining table in the leaders' cabin at Devil's Hole.  He waited patiently, expectantly, for his partner's response.

Kid Curry poured himself a second cup of coffee and checked a calendar tacked to the wall before joining his friend at the table. "Monday."

Heyes' shoulders slumped.

The Kid glanced out a frosty window.  "A cold but sunny Monday."

"Yeah, it's Monday, but that's not exactly what I was aiming at."

"Speakin' of aimin', Heyes, you really oughta let me give you a few pointers on shootin'."

"Huh?  Oh, yeah, sure.  Maybe later."  Heyes got up to pace the floor.  "But back to thinking about what today is, nothing else comes to mind?  Something having to do with forty-nine?"

The Kid ran a hand across his jaw and chewed his lower lip, then snapped his fingers.  "Got it!"

A smile caused Heyes' face to dimple.  

"It's Calico's forty-ninth birthday!" Curry announced, proudly.

Heyes' face fell.  "Cally's forty-ninth was more than a week ago."

"Dang."  The Kid furrowed his brow in concentration.  "Kid4ever's birthday?"

With a heavy sigh, Heyes answered, "Hers was more than a week ago too, Kid.  And, I'm pretty sure she passed that forty-ninth mile marker a couple years back."

"Oh," the Kid shrugged.  "She's lookin' good though, ain't she?  I mean, for a woman over..."

Heyes cut his partner's comment short with a quick shake of his head.  "Think harder," he encouraged.  "Think about 1849."  Heyes leaned close to Curry, both hands resting on the table-top.  "Think, '49, '49, '49..." Heyes waited.

"Ha!" the Kid exclaimed.  "Sutter's Mill!  February 1849, Coloma, Cali..."

"That was January '48."  Heyes plopped into a chair.  His voice heavy with irritation, he stated, "I was thinking about folks whose birthdays are today, Kid.  Folks who were born back in 1849."

Curry shrugged and took a guess.  "Buffalo Bill Cody?"

"Cody was born in '46," Heyes yelled. "He's a full three years older than me, and his birthday isn't 'til the twenty-sixth.  Today's MY birthday!  February 24th!"

"Yeah?  Well, Happy Birthday, Heyes.  And I got to hand it to ya." He gave his partner a friendly punch. "You don't look a day over forty-eight."

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Calico

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:11 am

Just a snippet to show willing!  Slightly less covered in paperwork this week!
And yes, I know using the song is anachronous.  So history swat me!  Smile.


DENVER … c. 1867 (Sometime after Valparaiso, Sometime before ‘The Split’)



A lanky blond kid– showing the knobbly display of wrist and ankle bones common to teenage lads with no loving mother to let down their hems – swings sacks from a wagon onto the boardwalk before a livery.

He works with both a will and a cheery song upon his lips.

“In a cavern, in a canyon,
 Excava.a.a.a.ating for a mine…”


His companion – currently eyeing, though NOT swinging sacks – winces.
The wince is not wholly unjustified.  The song, though cheery, it not entirely on key.

“Dwelt a miner, an old timer…”

A frown appears between a pair of dark brown eyes.  A questioning glance is thrown at the singer.

“And his dau-au-aughter…”

The active one notices neither wince nor frown.  His own blue eyes linger on a youthful brunette inside the mercantile next door, currently having her purchases wrapped and placed in a wicker basket.

Is she…?  Is she…?  YES.  It is not his imagination.  She IS watching him.  

He puts a little more oomph into both the next swing and the next note.

“…Hi-is dau-au-aughter, Clementeeeeeeeeeen!”

“Jed!   For Pete’s sake!”

Jed tears his gaze away from the girlish charms.  

“What?!”  

His companion meaningfully massages his ear.  “Leave howling for coyotes, huh?”

“Why?” Jed eyes his friend’s sweat free state.  “It ain’t as if I’m puttin’ you off your stroke.”

“I’m assessing the load.  Planning the optimum order in which to…”

“Han, this ain’t math class.  Pick the sack closest to ya, heft it down.”

“Nah, ‘cos then the sacks at the back are the last ones out – leaving the longest trip for when you’re tiredest.  There’s a formula for ev’rything, Jed.”

Rolling his eyes, Jed gives up the argument.  He heaves a sack onto his back.

“Oh my darling, oh my darling…”

His eyes flick sideways.  She is still watching.  With a hint of smugness, Jed squares his shoulders and flashes her a grin.

“Oh my da.a.a.a.arling, Clementine!
 You are lost and gone foree.e.e.e.e.ver.
 Dreadful sor.r.r.r.r.y, Clemen…”


The diminutive charmer has finished her shopping.  She exits the mercantile and…
She IS.  She is coming over.  

Jed’s smile widens – wavers – fades.

‘Coming over’ does not quite cover it.  She stomps up the wagon, ringlets bouncing, face flushed.  Her hands go to her – admittedly already shapely – hips.

“Do you think that song is funny?!” she fumes.

“Well…” Jed blinks.  “Yeah.”

Han moves to the front of the wagon next to Jed, takes in the feminine fury confronting them both.  He exchanges a confused glance with his friend.

“It’s s’posed to be funny, ma’am.  It’s a comic song.” he offers.

“Well I don’t find it funny!”

“You reckon Jed’s singing is beyond a joke, huh?”

“Hey!”

“I don’t find it funny when my brother sings it.  I don’t find it funny when the boys at schools sing it.  And I DON’T find it funny when some – some…”
Her dark eyes take in Jed from the tip of his unbrushed curls to the toes of his much scuffed boots.  She visibly searches for a suitably scathing descriptor.  “…Some hobble-de-hoy of a livery-hand, thinks it amusing to tease a lady while she is about her – her legitimate business!”

Jed’s mouth hangs open.

“You don’t even sing it right!”

“She’s got you there, Jed,” chips in Han.

“It isn’t an old timer.  It’s a miner, Forty Niner!”  

“She’s right.  With you having so many problems with the tune, I didn’t like to say.  Being picky on the lyrics too seemed kinda…”

Han is rounded upon, wrathfully.

“YOU’RE not funny either!”

Chagrined brown eyes blink.  

The wrath returns to its original target.

“As for YOU!  If you had an ounce of proper feeling, you’d know it is most – most ungentlemanly to bandy a lady’s name, let alone make fun of it!  How would you like it if I made fun of YOUR name?”  She frowns.  “What IS your name?  Jed, did he say?”

“Uh huh,” Jed nods, seemingly flummoxed by the sudden switch from tirade to enquiry.

“Short for Jedidiah,” supplies Han.

“Well, there you are!” triumphs feminine logic.  “Would you like it if I made fun of you for being called…,” She takes a deep breath, draws out the syllables, mockingly.  “Jed-ee-diiii-ahhhh.   If I started singing songs in the street about it?  Would you like that?”

“I guess not.”

“Then why make fun of MY name?”

“I didn’t!” protests Jed.

“We don’t even know your…” Han stops short.  The penny drops.  “Oh!  Are you called…?”

“To you,” she interrupts with great dignity, “I am called MISS Hale.”

“OH!” The penny drops with Jed, too.  He gives her a shy smile.  “I think Clementine’s a pretty name.”

“Me too,” agrees Han.

“If you’re a citrus fruit, maybe,” she pouts.  Then, “So, you didn’t know – you weren’t making fun?”

They both shake their heads.  They smile.

Slowly Clem smiles back.  She looks from one buddingly handsome face to the other.  She traces an arc in the dust with the toe of one dainty boot.  

“And – you really think Clementine is a pretty name?”

“Sure do,” says Jed.

“Real pretty,” dimples Han.

“So,” she turns to the dark haired youth.  “What’s YOUR name?”

Jed’s turn to be helpful.  “It’s Hann… OW!” He rubs his ankle.

“It’s Heyes,” says – Heyes.

THE END
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 14 - Forty Niner   Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:16 pm

By Any Other Name
Hannibal Heyes walked through the batwing doors into a cacophony of Saturday-night raucousness.  Sidling carefully through the crowd, he side-stepped a barmaid with a tray full of beers precariously tipping, dripping droplets of amber fluid on shoulders of those seated as she passed.  No one paid any mind, however, too inebriated or glued as they were to the games of chance and mere luck to notice or care.  Heyes frowned as a larger stain spread on his forearm.  The shirt was new, just purchased to replace one too weather-worn from the trail to be of any further use except as a polishing cloth in his partner's gun-cleaning kit.  He had not intended to visit the laundress on this layover, pressed for time as they were to get to San Francisco on horseback, as funds for public conveyance were scarce, and the road ahead still long.

Finally making it to the third row out from the bar, he held up a hand with two fingers splayed, "Two beers!"  His words fell, drowning in the sea of noise, and none of the three bartenders noticed.  For a minute or so, or what seemed much longer, Heyes focused on strategically pushing his way to the front.  His patience won as he gained first row, although those gently, or not, pushed aside in the process would gladly have saved themselves the sweat of the mines if they had known a ten-thousand-dollar payday awaited them.  

"Two beers!"

A full-mustachioed man in apron thick of leather, as a smithy might wear, faced him.  "Lad, ye don't have to yell.  I kin here ye just fine!"

Heyes opened his mouth to say something, but did not.  A roll of eyes gave his reply.

Two mugs of brew appeared.  "Two bits, laddie.   Sarcastic isn't becomin', ye know!"

"Two bits?"  Brown eyes narrowed.

"Two bits."  The voice, authoritative but earnest, was firm.

"How much would it be on a Wednesday morning?"

"Two bits."

"That's a lot."

"Boon times, lad.  Best since forty nine.  New vein's've been found.  The old mine's producin' again, and then some.  Men're makin' fortunes, and we charge what we can."

Brow furrowed, Heyes rummaged in his pocket, throwing a coin on the bar.  As the bartender started for it, Heyes covered it.  "Wait.  How much for one?"

"Fifteen cents.  Two's on special tonight.  What'll it be, lad.  I ain't got all night."

The ex-outlaw moved his hand, studying the coin.  With a sigh he pushed it toward the man behind the bar, who took it without another word before moving on.

Heyes grabbed a mug, observing the crowd reflected in the mirror behind the bar.  He pulled the second mug closer to him.  

"Beers're dear.  You mind sharin'?"

Heyes' voice rose as he moved his ear closer to the shorter man next to him.  "What's that?"

"I said beers're dear, and would you mind sharin'?!"

"You don't have to shout!"

"Well, sonny, if'n ya don't hear me the first time, I suppose that's all I can do!!  'Specially when ever-body's tryin' to be heard above ever-body else!"

Heyes' hands covered his ears.  The din had reached uncomfortable levels.  Nonetheless, he guarded his purchases and spot at the bar as any zealous sot might on a busy night, even spreading his legs to expand his position.  

"'Pardon me, sonny, but you're crowdin' me.  'Nuf room here fer both of us, and then some."

Heyes took a swig and looked at the man.  Of short stature, he wore dirty, yellowed buckskins and long sheath on a leather belt.  From it protruded the pearled handle of a large knife.  It seemed too much weapon for this old man with wild, unruly, grey hair.  The ex-outlaw dropped his mouth to the man's ear.  He spoke in a lower tone, still trying to be heard.  "Sorry, but I'm waiting for my partner.  Just trying to hold some room for him."

They switched positions as the old man spoke directly into Heyes' ear.  "That's what they all say, sonny.  I been here long enough to know all's the tricks."

Keeping it up, Heyes responded, "No trick.  My partner'll be here any minute.  And he won't be too happy if he can't enjoy a beer, especially at these prices."

The man looked longingly at Heyes' second mug.  "How 'bout jest a sip for an old man.  You're gonna be toilin' away so's that two bits won't be any mind to ya in another week when ya get paid.  But me, I'm too old to do much more than run a canary into the mines, or relieve the powder monkeys when they'll let me.  Funds're hard for this one to come by, and everthin' in this dang town's dear."

Heyes and the older man started as shots fired.  The ex-outlaw reached instinctively for his pistol, of a sudden reversing the action once the shooter was ejected by a burly man with a badge.  Just as fast, he faced the bar, hunching over it to hide his face, although he did not recognize the lawman.  

The old man took note.  Once again he spoke into Heyes' ear, this more of a whisper.  "I might be an old-timer, but still sharp, I tell ya.  Nothin' much gets by me.  You're tryin' to hide from the law."

The ruckus behind them subsided a little.  Heyes relaxed his crouch, sideways glancing at the elderly gent.  He lit into a broad grin.  "Now what gives you that idea?  Just passing through.  Resting up from the trail."  

"Uh huh.  And I suppose your name's Smith, or Jones, or Johnson, or somethin'."

The grin disappeared for a quick moment but reappeared in an instant.  "How'd you know?"  He extended his hand.  "Joshua Smith."  

"I knowed it!"  The old man looked past Heyes' hand to the second beer, which held his gaze for some moments.  

Following the man's sightline, Heyes planted the second mug in front of him.  His eyes dancing, the old man extended his own hand and shook Heyes'.  "That's right kind of ya, sonny.  Ain't ever-day a body shares his beer."  He took a long gulp, replaced the mug on the bar, and wiped his mouth with a sleeve.  "Smith, eh?  I knowed it, I tell ya.  I'm Jim Bowie."

Heyes paused his own swig, turning to look at the man.  His brow furrowed with enough lines for a corduroy road to cross a river.  "Jim Bowie ...?  Now who's pulling a leg?  He died ..."

The old man interrupted, "Yeah, I know, heard it a thousand times if'n I heard it once.  Jim Bowie died at the Alamo.  Don't believe ever-thin' ya hear, sonny."

"But ..."

The beer sat idle as the old man grew agitated, his voice louder.  "Smith?!  I guessed your name's Smith and ya don't even try to do better!  I'd believe ya better if'n ya told me ya was Davey Crockett, or even Ol' Santa Anny hisself!  But, Smith?"  The old man's green eyes were ablaze.  "Next I suppose you're gonna tell me your partner's Jones, right?"

Heyes' jaw dropped.  He recovered quickly.  

"See!  I done told ya so!"  The old man's face was red.  He pulled the knife from the sheath.

Heyes' eyes widened.  The blade shone in the dim light of the saloon.  

"Next thing you're gonna tell me I didn't invent this pick-sticker.  Young'uns these days!  No respect for their elders!  Keep your beer!"  With that, he stomped away, leaving Heyes staring in his wake.

"Don't mind him."

The bartender startled Heyes.  "Huh?"

"Don't mind him.  Crazy old man.  Goin' on all the time how he's Jim Bowie and then not believin' anybody when he hears their name.   A lot here probably goin' by a different name for whatever reason."

Heyes eyed the bartender, looked over his shoulder as the old man exited the saloon, and turned back to the barkeep.  "Where's he headed?"

The barman rolled his eyes.  "Oh, probably to get the sheriff again.  But don't worry, sheriff's not interested in Jim's stories.  He's too busy keepin' order.  Or, tryin' to keep it."  He winked.  

Heyes watched the bartender walk away.  He opened his mouth, sighed, grabbed the handle of his beer mug, lifted it, put it down, contemplated the crowd again in the mirror, caught a glimpse of a familiar face.  Doing an about-face, he strode purposely toward his partner.

Kid Curry's grin faded as Heyes, without breaking stride, put his hands firmly on the blond man's shoulders and steered him out the door.

"Heyes, my beer ..."

"We're leaving."

"I just got the horses in the livery."

"We'll get them out.  The beer costs too much, and it don't go down real good."

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