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 July 2014 - The Competition

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Calico

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PostSubject: July 2014 - The Competition   Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:38 am

Gosh, I nearly forgot to set a topic...

I uploaded the poll, then I put on my hat, picked up my garden scissors and out I went - oblivious.

Anyhow, my brain has re-engaged, so for all you ladies whose fingers are beginning to stiffen as they hover in anticipation over your keyboards, your challenge, should you choose to accept it is...


The Competition



[This challenge will self destruct after 1 minute...
Okay, after 31 days, but that is so much less 'Mission Impossible'.]

Enjoy

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AllegraW



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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:09 pm

The Competition

“What’re you planning to do today then, Kid?”

From where he sat opposite his partner in the train car Curry pushed his hat up off his face in order to give his partner the full benefit of his ‘you cannot be serious’ face. “You’re Kiddin’, right, Heyes?! I mean the guys and gals at Penski’s have run us ragged all week at their reunion. An’ now here we are back on a stupid train being returned to Wyoming. I’m plannin’ nothin’ but sleepin’ in the near future,” and with that he resolutely put his hat back over his face and resumed his previous slumped position, his arms crossed in front of him in a clear do not disturb signal.

Then, as Heyes watched, the rail car gave an ominous lurch which caused Curry’s hat to fall off his face and his arms to fly out in order to brace himself against being thrown down onto the floor. He did not look pleased.

Heyes grinned at his irritation. “Surely you want to watch the football?” he asked.

The Kid gave him a cold stare. “You mean the soccer.”

“I mean the World Cup. C’mon, Kid, it’s the final later today and it promises to be a real humdinger if you’re into that sort of thing.”

“And that’s the clincher isn’t it, Heyes. It depends on whether you’re into that sort of thing and after a week long party I most definitely am not!” There was a pause and then; “You always call it football now. You do remember we’re American don’t you? If you ask me you’ve been spendin’ too much time in Europe.”

“Can I help it if I get emailed, facebooked, and twittered all over the place. I was a perfectly respectable seventies TV character and they didn’t have anything like that back then. How was I supposed to know what would happen…and if I pick up a few European mannerisms then it just shows how internationally popular we still are. He looked down at the bruises on his arm where he’d clearly been clutched slightly too hard sometime during the week. Although some of those gals ought to go easy on a guy. I’m not as young as I used to be.”

“Heyes, you’re still a seventies TV character and if you’re not always respectable it’s ‘their’ fault.” He gestured skywards as if that was where the internet sat.

“True,” replied Heyes. “So…who’s gonna win the competition?”

“They’re not competin’ for us now are they?” Kid looked at Heyes in horror.

“Huh? What?”

“You know. ‘Them’.” Once more Curry gestured towards the heavens and did an impression of fingers tapping on a keyboard.

“No!!” Then Heyes paused. “…Well not anymore than the usual once a month bandana competition but that’s supposedly not fighting about us.”

“Oh, yeah? Why do we always have to go deliver it personally then, huh? Answer me that!” At Heyes silence the Kid just sat back in resignation, “Sheesh, no wonder we’ve gotten so good as escapin’ out of places.”

“Aw, don’t give me that, Kid. I know you love it. Now stop trying to change the subject. The World Cup. Who’s gonna win?”

“How should I know?”

“Well, you’ve gotta take a look at the teams and then decide.”

The Kid realized he was never going to be allowed to get any sleep until this was sorted. “And what am I supposed to look at?”

“Well, there’s Argentina on the one side and they’ve apparently got an amazing player called Lionel Messi. The whole team is built around that one star player. And then there’s Germany which is working as a complete team. When they all work together they’ll be a Teutonic force to be reckoned with.”

“You sure you’re not simplifyin’ things? It sounds to me as if you just googled that.”

Heyes looked deeply insulted. “For your information, Kid, I’ve been researching this for you.”

“Like I said – Google.” He put up his hand as Heyes sat forward about to interrupt. “All right, all right, I’m sure you’re a total expert.”

Heyes sat back again. “And don’t you forget it.” He paused, “So…who?”

“Argentina.”

“You’re kidding? Why?”

The Kid sighed. “Look, Heyes, you know when we started on this amnesty deal I said we should separate because you’d make it and I probably wouldn’t.”

“I think we’ve had this conversation before.”

“Well, that’s why I think Messi will win. He’ll do it…alone. It’s the best way.”

“Kid?”

“Hmm?”

“Just one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Do you remember our argument about separating?”

“I was kinda hungry at the time.”

“Well, let me remind you. We are not going to separate – ever – because we can only pull this off as a team. We’ll help each other or die trying. I come up with the plans and you back me up. We’re there for each other and that’s why the only way we’ll make it is together.”

The Kid gave his partner a cynical look. “Sounds like you’re backin’ Germany. How much of ‘our’ money did you put down?”

Heyes looked into his lap and mumbled something.

“Heyes!”

Heyes fidgeted. “Maybe all of it…”

“All of it!!!?”

“Except the train fare.”

“Half of that money was mine!”

“Teamwork remember, Kid? Like you just said. It’s our money.”

“So how come just you alone bet it all, Heyes! You know sometimes I don’t just think we’d be better off separatin’. I think I would be better off shootin’ you.”

“Then you really wouldn’t get your amnesty, Kid. No – we should always support teamwork. It’s like us. You can’t have one and not the other even if one has a preference.” And this time it was Heyes who pointed skywards and did the typewriter motions.

“You just like German beer.”

“What’s not to like? You like the salami…and the bratwurst.”

“I don’t have any choice but to like it now, do I, since you bet all our earnings on a German win,” grouched the Kid. He stared out of the window feeling how the train bumped and lurched beneath him.
“Heyes?”

“Yeah.”

“Why’re we on a dirty grimy train again? You know if we’re gonna be supporting Germany I’d kinda like to watch the match from over there. Can’t Penski just email us over to Allegra. It’d be quicker, cleaner and so much more comfortable.”

“Oh, she’ll email us over in time for the game,” Heyes told him. “She just wants to make sure that Allegra has a good reason to pamper us when we get there. After all, she wont let us sit with them in this state. We’ll need to get cleaned up…”

The Kid sighed. “They never give up, do they?”

“It’s called team spirit.”

Silence.

Kid sighed again. “Okay, Heyes. It’s too late for me to do anythin’ about you betting all our money, so let’s just go to Allegra’s. She can do what she wants. It’s a PG site here so I’m not too worried and we’ll watch the game from there. She’s cookin’. As to the outcome all I can say is may the best man win.”

“The best team, Kid…may the best team win.”


P.s. - note from me - I don't usually care much about football, actually but can I admit to rather wishing that Team Germany does manage today... If not, well, as Heyes says - the best team!!!

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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:15 pm

The Competition
A Ranch Days Vignette
By Maz McCoy


Lying on his bunk, bare feet airing after a long day in socks and boots, Hannibal Heyes looked over the top of his book. His brows furrowed as he studied his friend. Sitting at the bunkhouse table, Jed was mouthing something as he counted on his fingers. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

“Darn it!”

Heyes’ eyes narrowed. “What’s the matter? Forgot what comes after eleven?”

Jed looked up. “Huh?”

“Nothing.” Heyes returned to the page. A boy named David Copperfield, after having a rough time at boarding school, was now using an alias and calling himself Trotwood. Heyes read on.

“Eleven again!”

Brown eyes peered over the top of the book. Jed picked up a pencil and scribbled out something on a piece of paper. He read whatever was on the paper, wrote something and then sat back studying it. Lost in thought Jed looked at the ceiling. Absently he chewed on the end of the pencil. His brow furrowed. A thought struck him, he wrote something down. He sat back and read. The quiet counting began again.

It was too much for Heyes. He closed his book and swung his legs over the side of his bunk. Pushing himself to his feet he walked casually over to the table. “So whatcha doing?”

“Nothin’.” Jed replied without looking up. Whatever he was writing took all of his concentration. The pencil tapped each word in turn.

“Counting, huh?”

“Yeah.” Heyes leaned closer trying to see what Jed had written. Jed eased sideways in his chair his body blocking the words from view. Undeterred Heyes strolled around the table. Blue eyes locked on his. “You want somethin’?”

“No.” Heyes pulled out a chair and sat down.

Jed eyed him sceptically but returned his focus to the paper before him. He wrote. He scribbled. He counted. Heyes rested his elbows on the table. He craned his neck to see what Jed had written.

“What are you doin’?”

Heyes looked up to be met by a blue-eyed stare. He’d been caught red-handed. He could deny it or come clean. There was only one thing for it. “Just stretching my neck.” Heyes rotated his shoulders to prove the point.

Jed picked up the piece of paper and headed for his bunk. Heyes watched as he climbed up top and then settled his back against the wall. The reading and counting continued.

Heyes gave a sigh. “All right, I give up. What are you doing?”

Jed smiled. “Nothin’.”

Heyes stood up and approached the bunk. “Well, your nothin’ seems to involve a lot of writing and counting.”

“Sure does.” Jed counted. “Not again!”

“Something not adding up?”

“Nope. Just got too many.” Jed regretted it the moment the words were out of his mouth.

“Too many what?” Eager eyes looked up at the younger boy.

Jed relented. “Too many words.”

“Too many words?”

“Yeah. I’ve got too many words.”

“In what?”

“My sentence.”

Heyes considered this. Why would the number of words Jed had written be a problem? He pondered. Ah ha! “You writing a telegram?”

“What?”

“A telegram? That why you’re worried about the number of words? ‘Cos they charge you by how much you want to write?”

“No. I’m not writin’ a telegram.”

“Then why the heck you worried about how many words you got?”

Jed let out a long breath before reaching into his vest pocket and handing a piece of folded paper to Heyes. Heyes opened it. It was a newspaper cutting. He read it. His eyes opened wider. “You’re entering a competition?”

“Tryin’ to.” Jed leaned over and pointed to the bottom of the paper. “I gotta say in not more than ten words why I think Arbuckle’s coffee’s the best. I keep gettin’ eleven.”

“What do you win?” Heyes scanned the paper. His mouth opened. “A trip to San Francisco!”

“That’s what it says. Tell ‘em in not more than ten words why their coffee’s the best and you could win a trip to San Francisco all expenses paid.” Jed frowned as he held up his paper. “I just can’t get it right.”

“Well, now you got me to help you!” Heyes pulled himself up onto the bunk and sat cross-legged facing his friend.

Jed didn’t look too pleased. “I reckon I can manage on my own, Heyes.”

“Give me the paper. Let me see what you wrote.”

The blond boy’s grip on the page tightened. “I’m fine.”

“Come on,” Heyes insisted. “I can help.”

Jed knew he was fighting a losing battle. He held out the paper and Heyes took it.

“I think Arbuckle’s coffee is the best because it tastes good and you can make it in a cup.” Heyes looked at Jed.

“See. Eleven, words. I won’t win with eleven words.”

For a moment Heyes was lost for words. “It tastes good and you can make it in a cup? That’s your wining sentence?”

“That’s all I got so far.”

“You think that will win?”

And then Jed said the words he instantly regretted. “Well if you can do any better, show me.”

Hannibal Heyes smiled.

Dang!

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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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ty pender

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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:52 am

SCENE ONE
 
The Kid sat up in his saddle and looked at Heyes “I’m ready for a beer.”

“Cut, it’s a wrap,” Huggins called out; “good job boys.”

“Thanks boss,” replied Heyes.

“When you’re finished with makeup go see the new writer, Jenkins.  He wants to bounce some ideas off you two,” Huggins instructed as he began to walk off the set.

“OK Roy,” replied Heyes, “it’s always a pleasure working with you.” Heyes dismounted and turned to the Kid, “about that beer, let’s see what they left us over at makeup.”

“I don’t care what it is, s’long as its cold.”

SCENE TWO

“Hey you two, are you ready to shuck off the fantasy bad boy?” Ernest the makeup man joked with Kid and Heyes when they entered.

“Yup,” said the Kid as he reached into the fridge for a cold beer.

“Day’s work’s done,” said Heyes. “Huggins gave us a ‘good job boys’ and you can’t do better than that.”

Heyes and the Kid sat down in the makeup chairs and began nursing their beers as Ernest started.  As he worked, the two actors began to look more and more alike.

“OK, so Heyes, you’re Walt and Kid, you’re Will; did I get it right this time?” Ernest asked hopefully.

“If you’re not sure, were not telling” said the Kid – or what was left of him.

“You were half right Ernest, he’s Walt and I’m Will,” replied Heyes; although by now only half his face looked like Heyes.

“Oh, don’t believe him, he lying.”

“No, I tell the truth – sometimes.”

Ernest finished and looked at the large makeup mirror that wrapped around the two actors in their chairs.  Two identical twins looked back at him, with snarky smiles.

“C’mon you two; you’ll have to level with me sometime.”

“We’ll think about it Ernest” said Will.  You’re a good makeup man; maybe as a favor.”

“Maybe,” said Walt.  “But it’s more fun this way, joking around and all.  Besides, we’re so much alike you’ll never keep us straight.”

“Look, there has to be some difference between you two; just give me a good straight shot.”

“Well, maybe we should. But Walt’s right, we gave up long ago on people keeping our names straight. We haven’t found one person yet who could tell us apart.”

Walt pointed at Will for Ernest’s benefit. “Will’s right, we thought maybe you could, since you’re so good at makeup.”

“Walt’s right,” said Will, pointing at Walt.  “Anyway, it’s more fun this way; we’ve learned to joke about it.”

“Will’s right,” said Walt, pointing back at Will.  “We used to get depressed that no one could keep us straight; so we learned to just joke about it. That helps a lot.”

“Joking around helped us learn to work like we do.  It even helped us get this job.”

“Oh really,” said the makeup man.  

While the two actors were bantering, Ernest had been walking around them, looking for something unique in at least one of them.  “So how did that happen?”

“Huggins thought Heyes and the Kid should be interchangeable characters, and when we applied he said we were just perfect for the job.”

“So you’re both character actors, is that what you’re trying to tell me?” Ernest asked with a laugh.

“Heck no; we’re real actors, and we compete with each other to play a part the best way.”

“I know,” said Ernest.  It’s pretty impressive how you two trade off the parts.  Look, I give up trying to tell you apart. That new writer is pretty anxious about his ASJ assignment.  I won’t hold you any longer.”

SCENE THREE

Walt and Will walked into the new writer’s office. “Are you the new ASJ writer, Joya Jenkins?”

‘Yes, can I help you?” he replied.

“Roy said you wanted to meet us.”

“Oh,” Ernest glanced at the two. “I’m expecting Heyes and the Kid very soon.  Can you wait out in the hall?”

The two actors entered the office and took the two seats in front of Joya’s desk. They made themselves comfortable and looked straight into Joya’s face. “We’re Will and Walt, the actors who play Heyes and the Kid.”

Joya just stared back at them slack jawed.  “Look, if this is some kind of a joke… I really am expecting visitors and….”

“We’ll it is kind of funny, I’ll admit that,” said Will.  

“Why don’t you call Ernest Tubbs over in makeup,” suggested Walt. “We just came from there and he can vouch for us.  If our makeup man can’t identify us, no one can.”

Joya grabbed the phone. “Ernest? Right, I’ve got two fellas in here, Walt and Will. They say they play Heyes and the Kid.  Really?  You can’t tell them apart either?”

Joya put the receiver back on the hook and looked at the two men before him.  His face was completely blank, and his eyes looked like he couldn’t focus.

“Everybody has the same reaction at first, but they get used to it,” offered Will.

“We each play both parts too, sometimes in the same episode” said Walt. “That confuses a lot of people.”

“Roy said he wanted the characters to be interchangeable,” said Will. “When he saw us he said we were perfect.  He still thinks it’s kinda funny. Anyway, we have a little competition between us – we think its fun to switch the parts.”

Joya stared at them for a while.  His eyes darted back and forth looking for differences. Finally he spoke. “Well, it’s not what I expected.  Ernest must be a heck of a makeup man, that’s all I can say.”

He stared at them for a little longer and then came out of his trance.  “Roy has announced a competition of his own.  He wants to run one episode from each writer back to back, and he wants the audience to vote on the best one.  I know it’s a long shot since I’m new on the block, but I really want to win this competition.  Before….”

“So that’s why you want to see us?”

Joya paused for moment. “No, sorry. I want to get your take on Heyes and the Kid. I want to sync with the way you play them.  I don’t want the story to compete with your delivery.”

“That’s fair.  But I think what you really want is to make sure your story does not compete with what the audience wants Heyes and the Kid to be, right?”

“Yea, I guess that’s a better way of putting it.”

“In fact, what you really want is a story that meets all of the audience’s expectations – you want to ace this ASJ assignment, right?

“Look fellas.  I made a list of characteristics.  I’ll explain each one, and you give me a thumb up or down.”

“Shoot.”

“First, the usual ‘be a man’ stuff. These guys have their own plans and dreams and they’re not going to compromise them to make someone else happy, unless it fits into their plans.  That includes romantic interests.  If they don’t like something, they don’t pretend that they like it.  They know what makes them happy.  And they take that one step further.  They have made themselves the center of their world. They treat themselves like they’re important, others are secondary.”

“That’s a good start,” said Will.  “When I played the Kid in the Pilot, there’s a scene where he's leaving dinner with the banker’s daughter, and he just walks away from her. The only explanation is ‘something came up.’  There wasn’t even a ‘goodbye, had a nice time.’  That gave the audience a strong start with the Kid.

“That was a little too strong,” said Walt.  “When I played the Kid in Escape from Wickenburg he had tender feelings for the widow with two kids, even second thoughts about leaving.”

“That was a weak angle on the Kid,” said Will.  “It was out of character. Everybody in the audience knew he couldn’t be serious about her.  Most of the ladies would think it was just silly.”

“The Kid’s gotta have a little heart,” said Walt; “at least enough to get him in trouble if he let’s himself go.  The ladies like that.”

“No, he doesn’t have to have any heart at all,” said Will. “He’s got a perfect body and great looks.  If you’re talking heart appeal, you have to talk Heyes.  All he has physically are those deep brown eyes. So he has to have some heart to go along with those eyes, and to make up for what he lacks in brawn.”

“Yea, I know; that’s how you play ‘brown eyes’,” said Walt, showing his displeasure.  

“In ‘Something to Hung About,’ said Will, “Heyes makes his final appeal to the runaway wife.  He does it with real compassion and concern, and you can really believe that he knows what he’s talking about when he tells her about the importance of marriage and all that.”

“C’mon Will,” said Walt, “that was overplayed. Everyone in the audience knows he’s saying all that just to get his money.  I don’t think anyone believed he was sincere, especially the ladies.  Even you recited his lines, like you were reading them off a card.”

“Hey, speak for your self,” said Will.

Joya’s face had a perplexed expression as his head moved back and forth. “OK guys,” said Joya, “I get the picture, I think. Let’s move on. My second characteristic is that the boys have stopped caring about everything, if they ever did.  They don’t try too hard and they don’t take other opinions seriously.  They are genuinely relaxed, even though their situation is usually difficult.  They speak and walk with slow, deliberate movements, to appear confident and relaxed.

“Relaxed, slow, play the man – all true,” said Walt.  “It also fills time and lets the audience follow the story line without having to work too hard. You aren’t writing a novel here, Joya, you know.

“People like to go pop a beer and come back without feeling they missed anything,” said Will.

“You looked really relaxed when you got beat up in ‘Something to Get Hung About, said Walt.  “I don’t think I would have pulled that off like you did.  It looked like you weren’t even getting hit.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” interrupted Joya, “didn’t you say Will played that part?”

“Both men gave Joya a blank stare.  “We’re not saying.”

“Uh? OK. So how do you think that played with the audience?” asked Joya.

“It made the Kid looked tough,” said Will.  “I think he got hit too many times though.”

“Yea, but it didn’t look like he enjoyed it,” said Walt.

“He actually got dirty!” said Will.  “If you notice, the boys rarely get dirty.  Their shirts are neatly pressed, they never have stubble.”

“If these guys were real,” said Walt, “they would be eating hardtack or Johnny cakes soaked in coffee on the trail and sleeping on the ground.  That lifestyle wouldn’t keep them in the peak of health.  

“They’re not real; they couldn’t be,” said Will. “They’d be unshaven half the time.”

“Like your scene in the pilot when the Kid shows up for his dinner date in a baby blue ensemble, hat, suit, and those baby blue eyes,” said Walt with a sneer.  “Where did that come from?”

“Hey, I liked that blue suit,” objected Will.  “It’s just the thing the Kid would do, vain as he is; it matches his blue eye and….”

“Aw, c’mon,” said Walt.  “He’s way overdressed.  The audience has to be snickering.”

“So how did that play with the audience?” asked Joya.

“I have no idea”

“Probably the ladies who have a crush on the Kid’s baby blue eyes loved it.”

“I don't think so.  Do the ladies who have a crush on Heyes’ brown eyes ever notice that he always has a black hat and brown pants?”

“Look, the Kid is always better equipped. He has the better gun and we make sure he actually uses it and cleans it.  Heyes has a crummy gun and you never see him clean it, or use it for that matter.”

“The Kid wears lighter cloths, which makes him look cleaner.  He’s got blond, curly hair, and he shows it off; we even make him brush it occasionally.  Heyes has darker clothes, wears bandanas, and keeps his hair under a dark hat.”

Joya was busy keeping notes.

“On the other hand, Heyes takes the lead.  He comes up with a plan, sometimes very clever.  He always seems to be thinking about his next move.  The Kid usually just responds off the cuff. Heyes reads; the Kid just relaxes.

“Yea, Heyes has the upper hand there.  He’s the leader.”

“Of course, neither one expects anyone to take care of them.  They learned that when they were orphans.”

“That's something you should put in your notes.  You might think you can win an audience by playing up the ‘orph-ling’ angle.  But these guys aren’t victims.  No one ever told them they were and they’re never going to play that game.  If you make them orphan victims it will go against the whole grain of the show.”

“But they were victims in ‘Escape from Wickenburg.’

“Not really.  That was just a dramatic device to show how clever and strong they are.”

“That brings us to my final characteristic,” said Joya.  “These guys are independent.  They never ‘need’ anyone else. They know they are more valuable to themselves than others are. And they don’t put up with men or women who are disrespectful.”

“Yea, it’s ironic,” said Walt.  “Even though these guys have a criminal background, they seem to surround themselves with more good people than bad people.”

“That’s the irony of this show.  I think that’s why people like to watch it.  They like watching these two unattached guys scrape their way through life.

Will and Walt stood up to shake hands with the new writer and leave.

“So we can’t give you tricks to win Roy’s competition,” said Will, “but I think you’ve got the basics down.”

“You think so fellas?”

“Sure,” said Walt.  “If you write a great story we’ll do our best to sell it to the audience.”  

“Just don’t make me do something silly like get a crush on a lady,” said Will.

“And don’t put me in a baby blue suit,” said Walt.

*******
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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:05 pm

This one's just for fun.

Smoke from the abandoned cigar tipped into a tin mug atop the cane table wafted to the porch ceiling and hung there like a malevolent spirit hovering above the heads of the two outlaws seated below.  Their eyes were on their men; watching as Wheat and Kyle worked in the dusty yard.  Wheat held a piece of paper in his hand which he referred to from time to time.  Kyle was occupied with opening boxes and digging through a pile of tools he had tipped out of the supply shed.

A moment later, Hank and Lobo came out of the barn, their heads together, deep in conversation.

The door to the bunkhouse hung open and the sound of an argument could be heard.  Preacher’s voice was raised in irritation.  “God bless it, Ikey, look again.  It’s got to be there.  Nowhere else it could be!”

The Kid tapped the ash from his own cigar and chuckled, “Looks like we ain’t gonna have the boys givin’ us anymore trouble for a spell, partner.”

Heyes grinned, picked up his discarded stogie, and drew a long pull.  Exhaling, he blew several smoke rings and watched them fade away.  “Yep.”

“So’s all they gotta do is find all the things on their list and they win a bottle of the good stuff and a day off to drink it?”

“Yep.”

“That’s a pretty damn clever way to get the Spring cleanin’ done.”

“Thanks, Kid.”  A pleased dimple appeared.

“So who do you think will win?”

“If I give ‘em long enough they all will and so will we.”

Curry laughed again.  “How about we make this a little more interestin’?  I’ll put ten dollars on Gully and Fletch to win.”

“Why Gully and Fletch?”

“Cause they're the only men we have with an ounce of organization."

“Good point.  Mind if I decline that bet?”

“All right then.  How about this one?  I’ll bet that same ten that Wheat and Kyle don’t finish their list.”  Curry leaned back in his rocker and glanced at his best friend and co-leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.

“Sorry, I can’t take that bet neither.”

“How come?”

“’Cause no one’s gonna be able to finish those lists.”

“Aw Heyes, what have you done?” groaned Curry.
 
“Now, Kid, I wanted to be sure we got a few days of peace and quiet after all the ruckuses those boys have been kicking up lately.  I may have put a couple of things on each list that I know for sure we don’t have anymore.  Don’t worry, though, when those knuckleheads finally figure it out, they’ll get their whiskey and their days off.  In the meantime, all we've gotta do is sit back and enjoy the peace.”

The Kid looked at his partner with admiration.  “You know, sometimes you really are a genius.”

Heyes smiled smugly, “I'd like to think so.”

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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:41 pm

The Competition
By JoAnn Baker

“You going out there again?” Hannibal Heyes asked when he saw his partner strapping on his gun belt and heading for the door of the small miner’s cabin they were sharing.

“You know I have to,” Kid Curry replied, grimly.

Heyes nodded, resolutely. He’d figured as much, but still, he’d hoped his friend would just let it go.

He watched from the doorway as Curry made the trek to tall pine tree and began his preparations. It was July, and hot in the Northern California mountains outside of Sacramento. They had been laying low after a scare with a lawman in San Francisco three weeks before.

Neither of them were good in cooped up spaces, so he guessed this was the only way Curry had of dealing with the situation. He knew what was going to happen next and there was nothing he could say to stop it, so he took a deep breath and waited.

Shots rang out, cracking tree branches and echoing off the hillside. Heyes watched as Curry reloaded and shot again. Then, finally, deliberately, his partner cocked his Colt .45, closed one eye and aimed. The shot split a branch, narrowly missing the edge of the coin dangling from the tree branch where it had been tied with a thin piece of rawhide.

Curry’s shoulders slumped and he cursed softly as he emptied the chamber and leaned down to search the dried grass for his casings.

“Well?” Heyes asked, still standing in the doorway.

“Well what? You were countin’ weren’t ya?”

Heyes shrugged. “I lost count.”

“No,” Curry spat angrily. “I lost.”

“Hm, okay, do you want to start the fire for dinner or am I gonna have to do it? It’s your turn you know.”

“No, I’m not going to start the fire. I’m gonna clean my gun and start again. I’m not gonna lose this one.”

“Suit yourself,” Heyes replied nonchalantly. It’s been, what, four days? Don’t you think you can give it a rest? What’re you up to now? Nine? Ten?”

Curry stared back incredulously. “No, I’m not gonna give it a rest. I have eleven coins in a row and I need twelve. Two full loads—no misses.”

His partner flashed a smile asked lightly. “Did you ever think maybe eleven’s the best you’re gonna get?”

Curry held the other man’s gaze and returned an icy glare.

“Heyes, If I don’t keep beating my own record, I’m a dead man one o’ these days, and maybe that makes you a dead man too. You ever think about that?”

Heyes’ face sobered and he let out a slow sigh before speaking. “Every day, Kid.”
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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:25 pm

The Shooting Competition
by Penski

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry walked through the main street of Gold Run munching on popcorn and enjoying the sights and sounds of the fourth of July celebration.  They weren’t worried about being arrested – the town of Gold Run enjoyed the money the Devil’s Hole Gang brought to their community and closed their eyes to actually who was spending the money.

“The boys seem to be enjoyin’ themselves.  Was a good idea to let them come to town for the celebration.”  Curry tipped his hat and smiled at two young ladies who giggled and hurried away.

Heyes’ eyes darted around the town’s square where there were contests of all sorts – pies, pie eating, jams and jellies, quilting, gun shooting, horse racing, and more.  “As long as they behave themselves and don’t get into trouble.”

The Kid jabbed his partner with his elbow.  “Hey look, a few of the boys are gonna try at that gun shootin’ contest.  Let’s go watch and see how they do.”

“As long as you don’t go competing…”

“I know… I know…”

The two leaders of the Devil’s Hole Gang leaned back against the side of a building and watched as Kyle stood up at the mark, ready for the plates to drop.

“Are you ready?” the older man asked as he pocketed Kyle’s fifty cents.

“Yep, let ‘em go!”  Kyle put his feet apart and squinted his eyes, watching for the first plate.

The first plate released… BANG!  The second plate released… BANG!  The third plate released… BANG!  The fourth plate released… BANG!

Kid Curry raised a brow.

The fifth plate released… BANG!  The sixth plate released… BANG!

“Pretty good, mister.  You got three of the six plates.”  The showman patted Kyle on the back.  “Who will be next?  You, sir?”

Hank stepped up and handed the man his money.  “Only three?  I can do better than that!”

“Are you ready?” the older man asked as he pocketed Hank’s fifty cents.

“Yep!”  Hank put his feet apart and spit out some chaw, watching for the first plate.

The first plate released… BANG!  The second plate released… BANG!  The third plate released… BANG!  The fourth plate released… BANG!

Kid Curry closed his eyes and shook his head.

The fifth plate released… BANG!  The sixth plate released… BANG!

“Sorry, but you only got two of the six plates,” the showman grinned.  “Better luck next time.  Who’s next?”

“Only two plates… I done better than that!” bragged Kyle.

“I’ll show you all how it’s done.”  Wheat stepped up and dug some coins out of his pocket.

“Are you ready?” the older man asked as he pocketed Wheat’s 50 cents.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”  Wheat hitched up his pants and pulled out his gun, watching for the first plate.

The first plate released… BANG!  The second plate released… BANG!  The third plate released… BANG!  The fourth plate released… BANG!

Kid Curry shrugged his shoulder.  “Better.”

The fifth plate released… BANG!  The sixth plate released… BANG!

“Four out of the six plates… Anyone want to try to beat this…” the showman hesitated a moment, “gentleman?”

“Come on, Lobo, give it a try,” Kyle encouraged.

Lobo searched several pockets before finding a few coins.  He stepped up and checked his gun, adding a sixth bullet.  “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Let them go!” the showman barked as he stepped aside.

The first plate released… BANG!  The second plate released… BANG!  The third plate released… BANG!  The fourth plate released… BANG!

Kid Curry closed his eyes and growled, “Heyes…”

Heyes put a hand on his partner’s arm restraining him from doing anything.  “He’s got two more…”

The fifth plate released… BANG!  The sixth plate released… BANG!

“Two plates!  Anyone want to show off their gun skills?”

Kid Curry pushed off from the wall.

“Kid…”

“I ain’t gonna shoot.  Goin’ to buy me some supplies.”

An hour later, the Devil’s Hole Gang mounted up to ride back to the Hole.  Curry’s saddlebags were bulging out.

“Get your supplies?” Heyes asked as he nodded toward the full bags.

“Yep!  Let’s ride!”


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



The next afternoon, all the gang members were in the bunkhouse finishing a meal when Kid Curry opened his saddlebags and dumped the contents out on the table – boxes of ammunition.

“What’s that for, Kid?” Gus asked as the others looked at each other.

“I can’t believe none of you got more than four plates!  It’s downright embarassin’!  Folks in Gold Run know you’re the Devil’s Hole Gang and now they know you can’t shoot!” Curry reprimanded.  “So you’re gonna start practicin’ – all of you – for our own contest in a week.  The winner gets,” the Kid reached in another bag, “this 100 proof Irish whiskey and Cuban cigar.  The loser will be muckin’ out the stable and corral for a month.  Any questions?”

The men all looked down at their boots while Heyes grinned.

“What are we shootin’ at?” Davis asked.

“Good question.”  Curry dumped the rest of the bag.  Boxes of poker chips scattered onto the tabletop.

“Poker chips!” Wheat lamented.

“Yeah, poker chips so you better get a lot of practicin’ done this week,” Curry barked as he headed out the door.  “I’ll be available if anyone wants some pointers.”

Heyes stood up to follow his partner.  “From what I saw at Gold Run, you boys better start practicing now.”

Curry and Heyes were near their cabin when the Kid turned.  “You too, Heyes.”

Heyes stopped in his tracks.  “Me too?”

“Yep, you’re part of that contest.”

“But I’m the leader!”

“Yeah, but you still have to shoot.”

“I don’t have to shoot.  I have you watching my back.”

Curry shook his head.  “What if we get separated and I can’t watch your back?  When was the last time you practiced shootin’?”

“I practiced…”  Heyes pushed his hat back.  “Sometime last month.”

“When?” the Kid challenged him.

“Okay, maybe it was a few months ago.”

“When?”

“I don’t remember.”

“That’s because you haven’t.  Least not while I was around,” Curry pointed out.  “You need the practice, too.”


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



Later that day, the Kid lined the poker chips along a fallen log, using mud to secure each chip as he stood it on its edge..  He drew a line in the dirt with his boot, about 15 feet from the logs.  The gang members were standing around mumbling.

“Poker chips… He’s gotta be kiddin’ – we had problems with the plates.”
“Don’t know why we have to be so good with a gun when we have Kid Curry.”
“At least them chips aren’t movin’ like the plates were.”

“All right now,” Heyes spoke up to stop the grumbling.  “The Kid has a valid point.  Your shooting at the celebration in Gold Run was embarrassing with us being a feared outlaw gang.  There’s a week to practice shooting.”

Curry finished drawing the line.  “Okay, everyone line up.  There are groups of six poker chips for each of you to shoot at.  We’ll start with Lobo and make our way down the line.”

“But I thought we was gonna get to practice!” whined Kyle.

“You’ll get to practice.  This is to show you how the contest will be and to show you how much you’ll need to practice.  It’s not gonna count for the contest,” the Kid explained.  “Okay, Lobo, shoot when you’re ready.”

Lobo didn’t hit any of the poker chips in front of him – neither did Gus, or Hank.

Kyle and Davis both hit one of their poker chips.

Wheat and Heyes shot two of their poker chips.

“Looks like there will be lots of shootin’ goin’ on this week,” Kid Curry commented.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



The next few days, gunfire was heard throughout the Hole.

Heyes came in from outside and sat next to his partner sitting at the table cleaning his gun.  He sighed.

“What’s wrong, Heyes?”

“Do you know how bad it’ll look if I lose?”

“Yep.”

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that I could maybe use a few pointers.”

The Kid grinned as he wiped down his gun.  “Thought you’d never ask.  First thing is givin’ that Schofield a good cleanin’.  A clean gun is the first step to shootin’.”

The two leaders of the gang took apart Heyes’ gun and gave it a thorough cleaning and oiling before the Kid tweaked the balance.

“Check it out.  How does it feel?”

Heyes aimed his gun out the door.  “Better.”

“Okay.  Grab a box of chips and let’s see what you can do.”

Heyes took a box from the table and followed the Kid to an open area.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



A week later, the entire Devil’s Hole Gang was in the designated opening Kid Curry set up for the gun competition.  A line was drawn in the dirt and approximately fifteen feet away there were several logs with groups of six poker chips standing up with the help of mud.  All the men were standing in front of a group of chips checking their guns and adding a sixth bullet.  Among them was their leader, Hannibal Heyes.

“Does everyone understand the rules and agree to the stakes?” Kid Curry asked.

A stream of “yeahs” could be heard.

“Now this contest is all about accuracy and not speed.  Take your time and aim.”  Curry walked up and down the line.  “Is everyone ready?”

“Yep!”

“Heyes, you wanna go first?” the Kid asked.

“Nah.”  Heyes shook his head.  “I’ll go last, if you don’t mind.”

“Okay, everybody, line up and get ready to shoot.”

The gang stood in a line and checked their guns one last time.

“Ready, Lobo?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

Lobo aimed his gun at the poker chips in front of him.

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Three chips!  Gus, you’re next.”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Two chips!  Kyle…”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Three chips!  Wheat…”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Four chips!  Davis…”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Three chips!  Hank…”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Two chips!  Heyes…”

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

“Five chips!”  The Kid grinned with pride at his partner.

“What about you, Kid?  How many chips can you get?” Kyle asked.

Curry gave a box of poker chips to Heyes.  “Go over to the log and throw six chips in the air.”

Heyes nodded and walked to the log.  He pulled out six chips and put the box on the log.  “Are you ready?”

Curry finished checking the chamber and closed it.  “Yep.”

Heyes began throwing the poker chips high into the air, some to his right and some to his left.

BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG… BANG…

Six broken poker chips littered the ground around the outlaw leader.

“WHOO WEE!” and whistles were heard amongst the outlaws.  Heyes walked over to the Kid and slapped him on the back.

Kid Curry twirled his gun and holstered it.  “I’m proud of you all.  Those chips are much smaller than the plate you were aimin’ at in town.  And you all did better than a week ago.  Keep up the practice and stay in the habit of cleanin’ your gun.”  He reached over and picked up a rake.  “Gus and Hank, it looks like you’ll be muckin’ out the stable and corral.”  He lifted up the prize bottle of liquor and the cigar, handing them to his partner.  “Good job, Heyes!”

Heyes held up the bottle.  “Since we all improved, I’m pouring drinks for everybody!”

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PostSubject: Re: July 2014 - The Competition   Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:19 pm

The Contest
"Come on, Heyes, you can do better than that!"

"Go, Kid! Ya almost got him!"

"That's it, Heyes, just a little more!"

"Dang, Kid, you're losin' your grip!"

The Devil's Hole Gang cheered their leaders on.

"Put your heels into it, Heyes!"

"You're gettin' the better of him now, Kid!"

Hannibal Heyes squinted as rays hit him from the west. His lucky coin had failed him this time, and his partner had positioned himself well. However, Heyes was not about to concede to a blinding sun. He kept his eyes lowered, his sightline to Kid's boots. Though Kid Curry had ten pounds on him, his heels were flat. Heyes smiled as his own slightly curved ones dug in at an angle, planting him solidly as his rear almost touched ground. He saved himself just in time.

At the other end, focusing as hard as his partner, Kid Curry thought he felt callouses rising underneath his gloves. He reckoned the sun had moved slightly since they started, so it must be fifteen, maybe twenty minutes by now. In charge most of the way, he loosened his grip just a tad momentarily to flex his shooting hand and was met with a tug forward. Heyes surprised him. Curry would concede most mental gymnastics to his partner any day of the week, but here his brawn should win out. However, each partner knew and respected the other's capabilities in all realms.

"Go, Heyes, you're gainin' on him!"

"Tighten up, Kid. Dig in harder!"

Although both could conceivably win, neither held the advantage for long. Back and forth it went, groans and cheers to accompany each move. As soon as one man's flag neared center, adrenaline hit and he pulled it right back. Center was home. One flag over center and spoils to the victor. Crossing the line was not an option for either man.

Fleeting thoughts came and went. How had they been talked into this? Neither usually felt the need to appear the stronger in front of the men. Indeed, a united front was their common goal, even if they privately disagreed. Heyes felt his hands cramp; Curry the same. Neither right now could figure which of the gaggle of outlaws sided with whom. Lobo perhaps for Kid; Preacher maybe for Heyes. Hank probably for Heyes; Charlie for Kid. Each had most recently ridden with one or the other to drum targets for this season's jobs, confident of good hauls. Kyle likely cheered for both. Wheat might as well, making sure to be on the side of the winner.

Curry and Heyes fought on. The cheering quieted. Men thinned out for a few minutes, attended to their business; returned to find much the same. The rope barely went slack. Wait! A foot this side for Kid. No! Now six inches in Heyes' favor. It looked as if the several yards to achieve victory might never be gained.

"Keep goin', boys!"

"Kid, I kin hear yer stomach clear over here. 'Bout time ya let Heyes take it!"

"Heyes, ya keep at this too long, yer brain's gonna be too addled to plan!"

With that, each competitor found new life. Heels re-dug in, they lost traction in loose furrows of ground at their feet, now too soft. Kid's calf pained him; for Heyes, a thigh. Now reversed. Then, a shoulder, an elbow. Grimaces beheld determination; belied teeth aching from clenching. And still, they kept on.

Grit might portend an outcome. Motivation, an aftermath. A frayed thread, though ...

Straightaway, each competitor fell backwards, landing with a thud at his end of the field of battle. Stunned momentarily, the crowd dispersed to offer aid to both, bringing each to his feet in turn. Regaining their bearings, they spied the other and met in the center, where the contest had started. There, they locked hands. Most of the assembled offered "atta boy" claps on backs and shoulders.

"Wha' happened?" One outlaw picked up the tool of competition, examining it thoughtfully. "Dang!"

Gaining his attention, Hannibal Heyes paused from conciliatory congratulations. "What is it, Kyle?"

All now focused on the blond man.

"Aw, Heyes, we'll hafta make 'nother trip to town fer more supplies."

"Why? We have everything we need."

"This ain't the good stuff."

Heyes and Curry grinned, locked eyes, then turned to Kyle. The blond outlaw held the frayed ends in his hands, his countenance a wonderment of confusion.

Wheat stepped forward and slapped him on the back, turning him toward the bunkhouse. "C'mon, Kyle. It's good stuff when this foolishness stops and we get to quietin' the racket Kid's stomach's makin'. Let's eat."

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