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 Feb 2015 - The Rifle

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Calico

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PostSubject: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Sun Feb 01, 2015 3:14 am

Something a little different for you this week suggested by one of your number who will remain both anonymous and ex-outlaw obsessed.


"A few weeks back there was news of a 132 year old rifle found leaning against a tree in Nevada's Great Basin National Park (close to the Utah and Arizona borders). Serial numbers say it was from Cody Wyoming about 1882, but no information about owner(s). It's a mystery why it was left. You can read about it here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/01/14/the-mystery-of-the-132-year-old-winchester-rifle-found-propped-against-a-national-park-tree

"


Consider the challenge - let your many and varied imaginations wonder and wander on the above scenario.


Let us have:
Explanations, Expositions, Expungements, Excitements, Explorations, Exhortations, Exhilorations...

Whatever takes your fancy around:

"The Rifle"


Let your historical re-enacting, begin. bronc bronc bronc
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ty pender

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PostSubject: Groundhog Day in High Lonesome Country   Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:50 pm

Groundhog Day in High Lonesome Country

or
The Kid and the Kiddy Cat
or
Alright Everybody...Drop Those Winchesters

PS. Happy Groundhog Day, February 2, 2015

'Scene One - In the Writer’s Office'

Heyes and Curry took seats in front of a desk piled high with papers.  The writer, Joya Jenkins, sat on the other side behind a mammoth Olympia SG1.  She lit a cigarette while the boys made themselves comfortable.

 


Figure 1. Olympia SG1

“So what’s brewing for this season Joya?” asked the Kid; “and by the way, congratulations for getting promoted to chief writer.”

“Thanks Curry,” Joya replied.  

“We haven’t seen a thing Joya,” added Heyes.  "No scripts, not even a synopsis.”

“I know,” Joya replied.  “Roy has had some trouble getting started with this one."  

"Uh-oh."

"Yeah. Here’s what I know.  He’s moving the outdoor filming up to some god-forsaken place in Utah called ‘Moab’.  He wants to give the show a grandeur look.  He also wants lots of still shots of the landscape, and he’s going to throw in cute National Geographic style shorts of wildlife; cougars, bears, deer, bunnies – stuff like that.”

“What for?” asked the Kid.

“He thinks that might help sell the show.”

“Uh-oh,” said Heyes.  “What about plots?”

“Frankly, he’s having some trouble coming up with solid ideas.  He comes over here quite a lot.”

Joya picked up two folders and reached across the desk. “All I’ve got for you fellas is this one script of what is supposed to be the first episode.  But we’ve only worked out the first three scenes.”

Heyes and Curry took the folders and started leafing through the pages.  “This one’s called ‘High Lonesome Country.'  A rancher, played by Buddy Ebsen, has been advertising for someone to trap out his ranch. The opening scene is a saloon card game, during which the rancher gets the boys to fall into the job – against their better judgment.”

The Kid looked up from his pages, “Yeah, I bet.”



Figure 2. Cornered.

“Yeah, right,” Joya added.  



Figure 3. "Kid, when you're stuck, you're stuck.

“Anyway, when they get out to the ranch the rancher’s wife recognizes the Kid.  After the boys take off in a wagon loaded with traps, she tells her husband that one of them is Kid Curry.  The rancher figures the other one must be Hannibal Heyes, and he knows there’s $10,000 out for each one, dead or alive.”

“Ok,” said Heyes; “so far, so good.”

“So the next day a hunter shows up; he’s responding to the rancher’s advertisement. The rancher suggests that the hunter take these two out guys and then split the proceeds. Well, the hunter takes off after the boys without reaching a binding agreement, and the rancher realizes he’s been had.

“Right, no trapping,” said the Kid.

“And no money,” said Heyes.

“On top of that, his wife has overhead the conversation.  She gives him lots of flak for even entertaining the notion of killing you two – since you never killed anyone.”

“Of course,” added the Kid, “we should spend the rest of our lives in jail instead.”

“Right,” Joya continued, “and to prove her right, you two manage to catch and tie up the hunter after he wings Heyes.  You don’t kill him, but you sure feel like it.  Instead, you leave him tied up and go back to the ranch house and confront the rancher.”

“Why?” asked Heyes.  

The Kid turned to Heyes, “Roy is probably trying to extend the plot.  He does silly things like this to fill time.  You get used to it after a while with the show.”

“Oh,” replied Heyes.

“I know,” Joya added. “On top of that, the next day you two bring the rancher and his wife out to get the hunter.  Meanwhile, he’s gotten loose and planted himself on a high bluff with a Sharps Buffalo rifle.”

“Let me guess,” said the Kid, “from there he starts taking potshots at the four of them.”

“Right, and he hits our guest star Buddy’s horse when he decides he going to make a run for it.”

“So what happens then?”

“Well Buddy breaks a leg when he’s thrown, and lays out in the open.”

“And…?”

“And nothing,” Joya added with a sense of defeat.  “That’s all I’ve got scripted – all in those pages I gave you.  Roy hasn’t given me anything else to flesh out.  I’ve made suggestions, but he hasn’t taken a bite.  Anyway, we’re shooting the indoor scenes this afternoon in the back-lot and then were all shipping out to Moab tomorrow: lights, makeup….”

“And writer?”

“Yep,” said Joya, “everybody, Roy too.  He said he’d have things worked out by the time we’re ready for the missing scenes.”

“Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of each other on this one,” said Heyes.

“Yep, you’ll be getting your lines fresh out of this SG1.”

The Kid looked at Joya and Heyes. “You know, after working two years with Roy, my hunch is that this episode‘s going to be number six, not number one like Roy thinks.”

“Why do I have a terrible feeling that you’re probably right,” Joya replied.


‘Scene Two – Makeup in Moab’
“Hey you two, are you ready to put on the fantasy bad boy?” Ernest the makeup man joked with Kid and Heyes when they entered.

“Yup,” said Heyes as he reached into the fridge for a cold beer. “They haven’t told us where we’re shooting today, but whereever it is it’s gonna be hot as blue blazes.”

Heyes turned to the Kid, “Kid, all they’ve got left in here is Pabst Blue –that OK?

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

Heyes and the Kid sat down in the makeup chairs and began nursing their beers as Ernest started working.

“Well boys, you won’t be shooting around here today.  Roy’s had props out looking for some woods, and there ain’t any in this country.  He insists on shooting the couger scene in some woods so the whole crew's driving out to Nevada’s Great Basin National Park.

“Nevada?”

“Yep. It’s going to take a half day to get out there from here so you better be ready to shoot when you get there. How are your lines?”

“They’re easy,” said the Kid.  “It’s that darn cougar skin; I don’t think anyone’s going to believe I’m wrestling with a real cougar.”

“Yeah they will,” said Heyes.  “Just roll around a lot, and be fast.  Get real dirty.”

“Very funny; you get to take the hero shot.  While I’m rolling around like an idiot you take one shot and kill the cougar.  You can’t even shoot a pistol straight.  How is anyone going to believe you can shoot a cougar with a rifle at that range without shooting me?”

“They will, Kid,” Heyes said with a smirk.  “I’ll look like I’m in charge; I’ll keep my shirt clean too!”


‘Scene Three – The Ground Hog Confab’
Heyes, the Kid and Roy Huggins sat in Joya’s motel room in Moab. They watched as  Joya  finished editing the script for the day’s shoot, 'Sniper Scene P2'.  Joya’s SG1 was set up on a rickety metal typing stand that shook and rattled as she pounded away.

“You two did  a good job with the cougar scene,” Roy said.  “The initial edit looks believable and clean.”



Figure 4. The Kid and the Kiddy Cat.

“We were wondering about that skin,” Heyes said. The Kid looked at him open mouthed.

“Yeah," Roy observed, "there were a couple places where a cougar leg flipped around too fast  But Kid, you moved fast and got plenty dirty; I don’t think anyone will notice the leg.”

Heyes smirked at the Kid.

“So you two have any questions before we shoot the second sniper scene?” asked Roy.

“Yes sir,” said the Kid.  “What’s going to happen when Buddy gets bucked and is laying out there with a broken leg.  That’s where our scripts end.”

“Joya’s fleshing that out right now.  You two are going to take your rifles, split up, and do some sniping on your own.  Joyas got it all planned. It will be a classic 'attack the mountain' format - lots of scenics.”

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other, then looked back at Roy.

“Ah sir,” said the Kid, “what rifles?”

“Those rifles you used out at Great Basin yesterday,” Roy said.

“You mean those three Winchesters the prop guys brought out with the cougar skin?’”

“Yep.”

“We don’t have them sir,” said Heyes. “We followed the script and left them out there.”



Figure 5. "Alright, hold it right there. Drop that Winchester...."

Joya’s head popped up over her SG1; fear and panic crossed her face.

“We assumed the prop guys were going to pick them up,” said the Kid.

Roy looked stunned.  “They left this morning. Before they left they told me to not forget the Sharps and the hunter outfit.”

“They either took those Winchesters with them or they’re still out at Great Basin,” Joya added.

“Well, we can’t run out to Great Basin,” Roy added in a defeated tone. “It would take half a day to get there, and another half to find them.  I can’t afford to keep everyone out here for another day, especially Buddy.  We have to can the rifle angle and run this through again; any ideas?”

“We can have the wife run out, talk to Buddy,” Joya suggested. “But she won’t get shot at.  When she notices that she wasn’t shot at she’ll run to her horse and make an escape and go for help.  It will look like the hunter has a soft spot for ladies.”

“Technically, that works,” said Roy.  “But it’s not in character for the hunter.  Maybe he hesitates to see if the rancher has died or not.  When he sees her talking, and then jumps on the horse, he decides to reload.  But by then she gets out of range and escapes.”



Figure 6. "She Escaped!"

“Okay,” Heyes agreed.  “Now we have to decide how to fill the time until she gets back with help.”

“You two can take turns running out between five-second reloads,” said Joya.  “Maybe he’ll run out of bullets. Then you can snipe him with your pistols. ”

“Five seconds!” said the Kid.

“No,” replied Roy, “that would get old real fast.”

“No kidding,” said Heyes.  “How about every fifteen minutes or so; we could calculate that it would take that long for him to change position.  So we could track where he is.”

“That sounds good,” said Roy.  “Let’s make it every twenty minutes.  That way we'll only film it about nine times.”

“Nine times!” said the Kid.

“Yeah, you're right.” said Roy, “that would get old fast too. We need dialogue.  I want you two to ad lib like crazy.  Fight with each other.  Kid each other. Flip coins.  I want you to look hot, tired, dusty and desperate.”



Figure 7. "I want you to look hot, tired, dusty and desperate.”


“Oh, that won’t be a problem,” said Heyes.  “It’s hotter than blue blazes out there, and there’ll be stage lights on top of it.

“Dusty too,” said the Kid.

“You gotta run fast and crooked though,” said Joya.  “As long as you run fast and crooked he’ll probably miss at one-thousand yards.”

“Hmm, you’re right,” said Roy.  “But that has to look believable. How about running with your boots off?”

“Boots off?” said the Kid.  “There’s cactus and rocks out there!”

“Heyes,” joked Joya, “just tell the Kid: ‘now you always said you didn’t wanted to die with your boots on…”

“That’s a good one!” Roy said.  “Don’t worry Kid – we’ll get some orthotics from the Moab drug store to stuff in those socks, then you can walk slow and we'll speed up the action back at the studio.  It will work."

Roy paused for a moment. "There’s something missing though; just waiting for help is too dull.  We need a stronger climax.  Any ideas?  Come on guys; we got to work this out until we get it right.”

Everyone sat silent.

“Well the wife made it out,” suggested Joya.

“How about we have her kill the hunter with her pistol?” the Kid suggested.

“Perfect!” said Roy.  “That’s perfect you two; you just made this a perfect day. Let’s shoot."

"Yeah;" the Kid mumbled, "if you say so."




Figure Who's Counting?. Here’s your Tub Scene Calico….have a nice day.


Last edited by ty pender on Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:12 am; edited 3 times in total
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:41 am

The Rifle
By Maz McCoy

Hannibal Heyes sat on the large Queen-sized bed, legs stretched out in front of him, socked-feet crossed at the ankle. He wore jeans and his white Henley, sleeves pushed up to reveal an appealing amount of dark hair on his arms. In his hand he held a book. Heyes was reading.
Kid Curry, clad in pale blue shirt and snug jeans, gun-belt hanging ruggedly on his hips, stood at the window peering out through the net curtain.
“Heyes, I’m worried,” the blond Adonis said.
“Hmm,” came the reply.
“We gotta do somethin’.”
“Uh huh.”
“This could get serious.”
“Mmm.”
Kid turned away from the window and stared at his partner. “Heyes, are you listenin’ to me?”
“Uh huh.”
Kid strode toward the bed and stood next to Heyes. The dark-haired, dimple-cheeked, ex-outlaw leader looked up. “What?”
“Have you heard a word I’ve been sayin’?”
“Sure. Blah blah blah, worried, blah blah blah gotta do somethin’, blah, blah…”
“All right. So what we gonna do?”
“About what?”
“About Maz!”
Heyes placed his book, open pages down, on the bed, saving the page he was reading. “What about Maz?”
“She’s bringing Elizabeth Darkly back.”
Heyes smiled. “She is?”
“Yeah.”
“Good.”
“No, Heyes, it’s not good. When Elizabeth’s around, I get hurt! I hafta spend time with the woman! I get teased and I’ll probably end up shot or wrassling a cougar!”
Heyes nodded. “That could happen.”
“So what we gonna do about it?”
Heyes considered this. “I could ask Maz to write me a few more scenes with Elizabeth.” His smile broadened.
“Forget it! She ain’t gonna write you those kinda scenes.”
Heyes sighed. “You’re probably right.”
Kid strode across the room, then back again. “You know I even heard that cat-woman you like tellin’ Maz she hasta become an outlaw! Can you believe it?”
Heyes swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. “I heard that too but don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry? Are you crazy? Of course I’m worried! She wants her to become an outlaw!”
“It’s not for real.”
“Heyes, she was talkin’ about train times. I reckon she’s plannin’ on robbin’ the train headed for some place called Bir-min-ham.”
“It’s for a party.”
“Huh?” A brow furrowed, attractively, of course.
“Calico is having a party and its fancy dress.”
“Gotta go smart huh?”
“Not that kinda fancy. For this you go in costume. Dress up as different folk. That sorta thing and Maz is gonna be dressed as an outlaw.”
Clearly relieved Kid smiled. “She is?”
“Yes.”
“Anyone we know?”
“Well not Hannibal Heyes or what’s-his-name.”
“Who then?”
“Jesse Wales.”
“Never hearda him. Or her.”
“Me either.” Heyes shifted back on the bed and stretched out his legs.
Kid walked back to the window. “You know this is all cos’ of that darn challenge.”
“What about it?”
“Maz, is stuck. Don’t have any ideas. That’s why she’s brought Elizabeth back. Reckons she’s got some ideas for what to do with us with Elizabeth around.” Kid scoffed. “I bet she has.”
Heyes picked up his book and searched for the line he’d been reading. He’d just found it when Kid spoke again.
“You know if we help her with the challenge, maybe she’ll forget about Elizabeth.”
“S’possible.” Heyes acknowledged without looking up. He read the next line.
“I reckon we can think o’somethin’.”
“Well, it’s your area of expertise.”
“It is?”
“Sure. I reckon someone left it there when they were on a picnic.”
“A picnic?” Kid considered this. “I guess. Odd thing to take on a picnic.”
“Not if you’re British.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Heyes made it through one more line of text before Kid said, “So why’d they leave it there?”
“Maybe it started to rain.”
Kid thought about that. He nodded. It was possible. “Yeah, but why didn’t they go back for it. I mean it’s a valuable thing.”
Heyes chuckled. “Only to you.”
“Only to me? Heyes that thing is worth…” Kid pondered the cost. “Well sheesh, a lot of money.”
“For a trife?”
“It’s no trifle!”
Heyes looked up at him. “Huh?”
“A weapon like that is…”
“What do you mean a weapon?” Heyes interrupted, clearly confused.
“The rifle. It’s a really good weapon. Not that I’m an expert with one, prefer my Colt to…”
“A rifle?”
“Yeah.”
Heyes laughed. “I thought you told me someone left a trifle next to a tree.”
Kid stared at his friend, his disappointment evident. “Heyes.”
“Yeah?”
“Go back to your book.”

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

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:20 am

"You ever seen such a wilderness, Private?"

"No, sir, Sergeant. There sure is a whole lot of empty out here."

"Indeed there is, son. And we'll be seeing more before we've brought in them two villains." Sergeant O'Hara twisted around in his saddle and looked back at the young soldiers slowly riding up behind him. Horses and men alike were caked in dust. Sweat poured from the horses' flanks, and the men's dirty faces were streaked by rivulets of perspiration.

"See them aspen trees just ahead, men?" he said. They all squinted in the bright sunlight. "That means there's a spring there. We'll rest up a bit there, fill up our canteens. Take a siesta like the Mexicans do." His words were greeted with subdued laughs. He could almost feel the sense of relief from his troops. If truth were told, O'Hara was looking forward to getting out of this sun as much as they were.

Half an hour later, six unsaddled horses were gratefully drinking from the cool waters of the spring. Tired men were leaning against trees, sipping from their canteens and slowly chewing jerky and hardtack. Their heavy blue cavalry uniforms clung to their bodies.

"Now ain't this a fine place, me boys?" O'Hara asked.

"We ain't complainin', Sergeant," Private Tobias replied.

"Clever boy," O'Hara said. "If the Army wanted you to have complaints, they'd've issued you some."

"Sergeant," another private asked -- O'Hara frowned, trying to remember his name -- "do you really think they came this way?"

O'Hara took off his regulation cap and wiped his face with a handkerchief.

"The Colonel says so."

"But how can we track them through rocks, sir?" the private objected. Horvath, that was his name. Some kind of Hungarian or Polish thing. "How can anyone follow Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry when there's no tracks?"

"I was wondering the same thing, sir. Anyway, don't they stay over to Wyoming? I never heard tell of them way out yonder in Nevada Territory." That was Tobias' friend, the blonde from Wisconsin, Mackey. Another greenhorn. O'Hara gave him a hard stare before replying, and the boy averted his eyes.

"Don't you be questioning orders, Private. You're in the Army now. We go where we're told, and we do what we're told." Properly chastened, the green recruits looked anywhere but at O'Hara. They looked so hurt, he instantly felt a little ashamed of himself. When he'd come from Ireland, all of 16 years old, hadn't he been more foolish than them? Only the Army, and some good sergeants, had saved his life. Maybe he was being too harsh. They couldn't help being young.

"I do think they come through here, Mackey. Them two is smart, remember. The only way they've stayed alive and out of prison is because they do what the law don't expect them to do. The Colonel himself, he told Captain Harte that someone who knows 'em on sight saw 'em. They're calling themselves by different names, 'course, but once you been robbed by highwayman who are damn fool enough to identify themselves, well, that you don't forget."

"But how we gonna track them, sir? Ain't nothin' here but rock and sand."

"Simplicity itself, Private. That wagonload of supplies Heyes and Curry bought in town will be too much for their horses to handle. They'll be dumping supplies along the way, same as the folks going to Oregon in the 40's did when they crossed through here. We'll split up into two groups, spread out a bit to make sure we don't miss nothin', and we follow their trash."

O'Hara watched his men nod and smile as they considered what he'd said.

"Anyways, me boys, don't be stretchin' your brains too hard. The Army don't pay us to think. We get paid to be true to these uniforms we wear and to each other." He pushed himself to his feet with a grunt.

"We'll not be catching them outlaws by lollygagging here all day. Time to saddle up." The young soldiers slowly rose to their feet, slapping their pants, trying to shake off sand and dirt.

"Horvath, Mackey, Tobias, you ride me with me. The first group to spot anything will fire three times. We'll join up then."

Once mounted, the two groups branched off from each other and headed deeper into the Nebraska scrublands. They rode slowly under the hot sun, scanning the ground.

"Sergeant O'Hara! Look!"

"What is it, Mackey?"

"Something up ahead! On the ground!" O'Hara shaded his eyes with one hand and looked where Mackey pointed. He saw lumps on the ground that didn't resemble anything natural.

"Quickly men!" O'Hara spurred his horse into a canter.

"What is it, sir?"

O'Hara was laughing softly. "Look for yourself, boyo. Didn't I tell you how it would be?"

The soldiers gathered alongside the sergeant. Ahead of them they saw several items strewn on the ground -- a chair, pots and pans, and a variety of small items.
"And you were worried about finding a trail, Private Mackey. Them outlaws are making it easy for us. They won't escape us now."

00000

"This is the worst idea you've ever had, Heyes. The worst. Those boys in blue aren't idiots. They're going to see through this."  

Hannibal Heyes pushed his battered black hat higher and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. He was too hot, tired and uncomfortable to argue. Almost.

"Will you stop, Kid? It's too late to change the plan now. If you didn't like my idea, you should have said so before."

Curry shook the reins. "I did say so before. I said leaving a false trail was still leaving a trail. I said that they'd be on horses and we'd be in a wagon, and that we couldn't outrun them if they caught up to us. Remember? I said all that."

Heyes looked sideways at Curry, sitting next to him on the rumble seat of the wagon.

"I do remember. I also remember you didn't have a better idea." Curry shook the reins again and stared resolutely forward, trying to ignore Heyes by not looking at him. But nothing could shut out the sound of Heyes' voice.

"Or did you?" Heyes said, oblivious to Curry's clenched jaw and narrowed eyes. "I sure don't remember hearing you come up with anything better."

Curry pulled back on the reins, and the horses stopped suddenly. Surprised, Heyes grabbed the front board to keep from falling onto the ground and under the wheels.

"What the hell did you do that for! Are you trying to kill me?"

"Not intentionally," Curry replied. "It's time to follow your genius plan. Go in back and pick something to throw out."

"You could have warned me it was time to stop, you know."

"It's more fun when I don't." Heyes glared at him and climbed into the back without replying. Curry heard him moving boxes, followed by the hollow thud of things dropping onto the desert floor.

"You about done back there?"

"Yeah." Heyes said, coming forward to sit up front again. "I took a look at the map. We should make a hard right here, and then we'll drop some more stuff a couple miles away. That ought to confuse them some."

"Some," Curry agreed. He made soft clucking noises to the horses, and they resumed their gentle pace across the harsh terrain.

"I know what's really bothering you, Kid."

"Oh you do, do you? You mean aside from the plan I don't like but I'm going along with anyway. Or the fact that we got the cavalry chasing us instead of some posse that'd get tired and go home sooner or later. Or that we spent most of our money buying supplies we're throwing away, instead of using, and we're broke again. Tell me what's really bothering me."

"Leaving that rifle behind, that's what's bothering you. It kills you that we had to leave a perfectly good rifle behind, just leaning it up against a tree all by its lonesome."

"I wouldn't mind if it made sense, but you're right. Leaving that beautiful Winchester leaning against a tree was adding insult to injury."

"We had to do it," Heyes insisted. "The inscription on that stock was the only link to the idiots who pulled that Army payroll robbery. If we got caught with that thing in our possession, we'd be wanted for murder."

Curry's shoulders slumped. He didn't say anything. The two men rode in silence for a few minutes. Heyes reached under the seat and pulled out a canteen.

"How about a drink?"

"Don't mind if I do." Curry passed the reins to Heyes and accepted the canteen. He leaned back and took long, deep swallows. Even warm as it was, the water tasted good. He offered the canteen to Heyes, who shook his head no.

"You got to be thirsty, Heyes."

"Not just yet." Curry replaced the stopper and put the canteen back under the seat.

"You're wrong, you know."

"Wrong about what? Me being thirsty?"

"Maybe not that, but a lot of things. Mainly about what's bothering me."

"So what is bothering you mainly? Aside from the plan, the gun, the Army, and being broke again, that is." Heyes ignored the look Curry threw his way.

"Running again. And again. How many times can we get away? We got away so many times, I figure the odds got to be against us by now. And now we got the Army chasing us."

"The odds ain't never been with  us, Kid, not since we were boys. There's nothing new or different about that. And frankly, I think you're putting too much faith in the Army. Soldiers do things the prescribed way, the Army way. They don't think for themselves. Now us, we're creative. We do something they don't expect, like laying a couple false trails, and they won't know what to do. By the time they figure out they been hoodwinked, we'll be long gone. We'll leave the wagon behind, take off on the horses, and then there won't be no trail at all for them to follow. We'll be gone again. Broke, yeah, but we been broke before, and we always find a way."

Curry thought for a moment. Heyes saw a small smile creep across his face.

"I guess we do, don't we? But how long can we keep going on like this?"

"As long as we need to. That's what people do, ain't it? Keep on keeping on."

"I guess that's so."

"'Course it's so. Meantime, we're only a couple hours away from that big watering hole. We'll rest the horses there, and once they have some water and food, we leave the wagon behind, and we head out to that new silver strike I read about in the newspaper. We'll play some poker with the miners and get us a stake. We'll take it one day at a time. Does that sound like a plan you can live with?"

"Yeah, Heyes, I can. You got a deal." Heyes reached over and patted Curry's arm a couple times.

"Have a little faith, Kid. And don't worry about the odds. We'll make them work for us. We always do."

00000

O'Hara pulled his pistol from the holster, preparing to signal the other group of soldiers to join him. He had hardly clicked off the safety before three shots rang out in the desert.

"Sweet Jesus!" He looked around in anger. Another series of shots sounded, bang bang bang. O'Hara cursed with a fluency that made the men with him hide smiles behind their hands.

"You men stay here. Don't you go nowheres until I come back to get you." He put his spurs to his horse and took off at a gallop across the hard ground. Barely ten minutes later, he pulled up his second search team was waiting. The satisfied smiles on the their faces faded when they saw O'Hara's angry expression.

"Just what in God's sweet name are you boys doing?"

"What you told us to do, Sergeant," blonde Lindquist said. "You said to shoot three times when we found the trail of trash. Here's the trash."

O'Hara dismounted and walked slowly towards the line of household goods scattered in the dirt. He saw a chair, a frying pan, some tools, exactly what he'd expected to see discarded from an over-supplied, heavy wagon, and an almost exact duplicate of what his party had found. He walked up and down the line a few times, hands on hips, thinking hard.

Lindquist, braver than the others, asked the question everyone was thinking.

"Sir, is something wrong? Isn't finding their trash a good thing?"

"Oh, aye, son, it is. Except my group found some, too. Now we've got two piles of trash, which means two different trails to follow." Confused looks appeared on the young men's faces. O'Hara paced back and forth, talking more to himself than to his inexperienced troops.

"Could be we're tracking two wagons, which ain't likely, since the mercantile only sold one. More like, the outlaws are setting up false trails to confuse us. And they're doing a fine job of it, too." O'Hara shook his head slowly. He wasn't sure what to do now.

"Clever of them. Don't know how they knew we were following them, but they did, and now we got to either split up to chase both trails -- hoping they didn't set a third -- or we take a chance and all follow one and just hope it's the right one. Either way, boys, the odds are against us now."

"So what do we do, Sergeant?"

O'Hara got back onto his horse. "We'll follow one trail for the rest of today. It don't matter which one. If we don't catch up with them outlaws by tonight, we head back to the fort tomorrow."

"But which trail, sir?"

"Don't really matter now, does it? One of 'em's a false trail. Or both. No way for us to know for sure, not unless we come to the end and find Heyes and Curry sitting there waiting for us." The thought of a professional gunman like Kid Curry laying in wait for his inexperienced troops . . . O'Hara didn't like to think about that. No, the odds weren't on his side anymore.

"Come on, boys," O'Hara said. "Mount up. Time to ride." He wasn't looking forward to tellling his officers that his search had failed, but that was better than riding back with bodies across saddles. Besides, his wasn't the first group that failed to bring in Heyes and Curry. Someday the odds would be against the outlaws. Today wouldn't be that day.

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:20 pm

The Rifle

Cody, Wyoming 1882

A tall, dark-haired man slowly rode into Cody, Wyoming as he checked out the growing town.  He dismounted in front of the dry goods store and stretched his back before tying the reins of his gelding to a hitching post.

The tinkling of a small bell could be heard throughout the store as he entered.  Several customers were making purchases.  One woman held tight to the small hand of her squirming toddler while cloth was being cut.  Two children were staring at the jars of candy on a shelf behind the counter.  

A clerk acknowledged the man.  “I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”  He went back to helping a man look through a catalog.  “You decide what plow you want and I’ll order it, Jim.  We should get it in a few months.”

“Go help that man while I keep looking at this here book.  I might find a few other things I’ll wanna order,” the man named Jim said.

The clerk nodded and stood in front of the stranger.  “How may I help you?”

“I’m in need of a gun.”

“A rifle or a handgun?”

“A rifle.”

“Well, I have this 1873 Winchester.”  The clerk took a rifle down from a shelf.  “It’s a 20-inch carbine barrel with a repeating action.  What do you want it for?”

“Huntin’,” came a gruff response.

“Well, it’s a .44-40 so you’re not gonna want to shoot anything small, but it’ll be great for a larger animal.”  The clerk leaned over the counter and took in the man’s holstered gun.  “Appears your firearm is also a .44 so you can use the same ammunition in both.”

“May I?” the customer asked as he reached for the rifle.

“Sure – check it out,” the clerk encouraged.  “Nice and straight.  Depending on what kind of shot you are, you might be able to shoot a couple hundred feet.”

The man took the gun and examined it.  He noted the burnt dark wood and the oiled bronze metal.  The cross-hairs of the trigger and the tube under the barrel.  “About how many bullets will it hold?”

“I’d say about six.”

The man continued to look over the gun.  “How much?”

“Forty dollars.”

“Forty dollars?!”

“Yep!  That’s a popular rifle.  I can’t keep them in the store for long.”

“Fine!” the man grumbled as he pulled out four gold coins from his pocket.  “I need a few boxes of bullets, too.”

The shopkeeper reached up and brought down several boxes of ammunition.  “Will that be all?”

“I reckon.”

“So what are you going hunting for?  Buffalo?  Elk?” the man behind the counter asked as he handed the customer his change.

The customer pocketed the money and grabbed his purchases.  “Man!”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Over a year later...

Kid Curry tightened the cinch and glanced across the street.  “Heyes, do you have a feelin’ someone’s watchin’ us?”

“I’ve had that feeling for ten years.”  Heyes tied a thong securing his bed roll.

A man leaned against a building and rolled a cigarette.  His hat pulled low over his eyes.  The Kid nonchalantly took a quick look at him.  “What do you think?”  He tilted his head towards the direction of the man.

Heyes ventured a look as he tied the second thong around his bedroll and observed the man licking the paper to his cigarette he just rolled.  “I think he’s watching us or rolling a cigarette or both.”

Curry shook his head as he loosened his horse’s reins from the hitching post.  “I knew you’d come up with the right answer.”

Heyes untied his reins and both men mounted their horses.  “Let’s get outta here.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


A Week Later…

The bounty hunter tied his horse to a juniper tree, took his rifle out of the scabbard and a box of bullets from his saddlebag.  He hurried up a rock cropping and set the rifle against a tree.  He looked down from his vantage point and smiled as he saw the trail below him.  Seating down in the shade of the tree, he pulled out two pieces of paper from his pocket and unfolded them.  “Hannibal Heyes has dark hair and Kid Curry has the blond hair.”  He took a sip from his canteen.  “Today is goin’ to be my lucky day!”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Curry meandered down a path from the Snake Mountains heading into a desert.

The Kid reined up as they neared a mountain stream.  “Better fill up the canteens and let the horses get a good drink before headin’ across that area.”

“I could use a break from riding, too.”  Heyes eased down from his saddle and moaned as he stretched out his body.  “Ahh… that feels better!”

“How much are we gettin’ paid to deliver this package to Osceola?  Whatever it is, it ain’t enough.”  

They led their horses to the water and let them drink and nibble of the grasses.

“Well, it sounded good when we were flat broke in Utah.”

“Yeah.  Who would live out here in the middle of nothin’ in the Nevada territory?”

Heyes pulled out some jerky and hardtack.  “Miners.  Heard they found gold in Osceola.”

“Are they minin’ the gold like we did with Seth?”

“From what I heard, it’s placer mining there.

“Either way, it’s a hard way to make a livin’,” Curry stated as he bit into his jerky.

“They must be doing good out there, though, to pay this much for a delivery.”  Heyes leaned back.  “May as well rest a little here from the heat of the day.

“I like the way you think, Heyes.”  Kid Curry leaned against a tree and covered his face with his hat.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The bounty hunter removed his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow.  “Where in the heck did they go?  They have to come down this way.”  He placed his hat back on his head and took a drink of water.  He looked at the posters again.  “Have to aim for Curry first.  Once he’s outta the way, I don’t have to worry about gettin’ shot at.  Heyes should be easy to get after that.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and the Kid followed a path through the bristlecone trees, junipers and rocks.

“Heyes, I don’t like this.”

“What don’t you like this time?”

Curry scowled at his partner.  “This area.  We’re sittin’ ducks to be bushwhacked.”

“Bushwhacked?  Out here?  You said yourself no man would be in his right mind being out here.”

“What about that guy we saw in town?”

“Which one?”

“The one watchin’ us!”

“You mean the one rolling a cigarette?”

“Yeah, him.”

Heyes turned and looked back at Curry.  “That was a week ago.  Have you seen any signs of being followed?”

“No.”

“So relax.”

“I can’t.  Somethin’ just don’t feel right.”

“Kid, I like it when you worry…”

“I know, I know!”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The bounty hunter heard something approaching.  The sun was making its descent and glared in his eyes.  He crawled to look over the rock and saw two horses coming down the path.  “It’s about time!”  He went back to the tree, loaded his rifle with six shots and lay in waiting.  “Now I just have to figure out which one is Curry.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


“Phew, is it warm down here!” Heyes exclaimed.

“It’ll cool down fast once the sun has set.”

“At least we can make a fire to stay warm.  Maybe we’ll see a rabbit or something to have for supper.  Something besides jerky.”

The Kid smiled.  “If we stay quiet, maybe we’ll see something.”

The men rode quietly around a juniper.  The Kid removed his bandana from his neck and pushed his hat off his head.  He twisted to the right and wiped the sweat off…

BANG!

“Ahh…”  Kid Curry fell off his horse with a thud and didn’t move.

“KID!” Heyes shouted as he jumped off his horse.  He drew his gun and looked around.

BANG!

Heyes ducked behind a rock, noticing where the shot came from.

BANG!  BANG!

Heyes aimed towards a rock cropping and shot five times.  He quickly loaded his gun with six more bullets.

BANG!

Rock shavings showered Heyes as the bullet hit the boulder near his head.

“Sheesh…”  Heyes aimed and shot all six bullets towards the direction of the gunman.

BANG!

Again, Heyes loaded his gun.  He took careful aim at a shadow and unloaded his gun.  He breathed heavily as he placed six more bullets into his Schofield.  He glanced at his partner and noticed he hadn’t moved.  “You better not be dead, Kid!”

Heyes waited a minute and then another.  Shooting a few shots up the rock cropping, he ventured a little from his hiding place.  No shots.  Leaning low, he ran to his partner using a zigzag pattern.  Grabbing the Kid’s feet, he pulled him quickly behind a rock.  He glanced up and noticed nothing… no shooting, noise or shadows.

Heyes gently put a hand on his unconscious partner’s head and turned it towards him.  Curry’s face was scraped and bleeding on his right side while a bump was growing on his head, blood trickling from the wound.  “You must’ve done that falling off your horse.”  He examined the rest of his partner and saw only his left upper arm bleeding.  Heyes removed a bandana and tied it tight over the area.  Curry moaned.  “Sorry, Kid!”

Heyes poked his head above the rock.  “Now where did he go?” he wondered aloud when no shot came his way.

Curry groaned and Heyes went to him.  Blue eyes fluttered open.  “What happened?”

“Someone’s up the rocks shooting at us.”  Heyes dabbed another bandana at his friend’s face.

The Kid took the cloth from him and cried out.  “My arm!”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t move much if I were you.  Not sure if the bullet’s still in there and you’re gonna have a terrible headache, it you don’t already.”

Curry grimaced in pain.  “Where’s the shooter?”

“He was in those rocks.”  Heyes pointed.  “He hasn’t shot at me for a while now.”

“We gotta move… he might be comin’ around.”  The Kid slowly rolled on his right side and stood up with help from his partner.

“Can you ride?” Heyes asked, doubtfully.

“I can if my life depends on it.”  Curry leaned on a tree and held his head.  He turned and got sick.  “Just… get the… horses.”

Heyes shook his head and cautiously rounded up their animals.  He led them behind the boulder.

“He didn’t shoot you,” the Kid said through labored breath.

“Nope.  Need help up?”

“No.”  Curry grasped the saddle horn, steadied himself a moment and mounted the horse.  He gasped in pain.

Heyes eased into his saddle.  “You just hold on and I’ll get us to safety, partner.”  He took the reins from the Kid and led his horse from the area.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


At nightfall, Heyes found a cave overlooking the trail.  He glanced back at his partner who had his chin down on his chest and was hanging on with his right hand; his left arm dangling by his side.  “Found some place to rest.  Hang in there, Kid!”

Heyes got off and led the reluctant horses into the cave.  He quickly untied Curry’s bedroll and laid it down in a corner.  “Got your bed all made up for you.  Just slide down – I’ll help you.”

Curry barely got his right leg over the horse when he started to slide.

“I got you!”  Heyes took most of his partner’s weight and helped him lie down on the bed.  “Just rest a spell and I’ll be back to take care of you.”

The Kid nodded and immediately wished he hadn’t.

Heyes unsaddled the horses and got them settled for the evening.  He hunted for some kindling and wood, making a fire near his shivering partner.

“It’s cold!” the Kid chattered.

“It always gets cold when the sun went down.  You said so yourself.”  Heyes poured some water on a cloth and gently wiped the blood from the Kid’s face and checked the bump.  “How’s the headache?”

“Awful!”  Curry grasped his wounded arm with his right hand.  “Is the bullet still there?”

“Let me check.”  Heyes untied the blood soaked bandana and ripped the shirt sleeve open.

“You tore my shirt.”

“I didn’t.  The bullet already did it.  Just hold still!”  Heyes examined and carefully prodded the wound.

“Ouch!”  Curry pulled away from the ministration.  “That hurts!”

“Good news is that the bullet went through.  You were lucky; he just grazed you.”

“I don’t feel lucky.”  

Heyes went to the saddlebags and dug through them, finally pulling out a bottle.  “I thought we had some.”  He pulled open the cork and poured the liquor on the wound.

“ARGH!!!  Dang it, Heyes!”

“Don’t want it to get infected, do you?”  Heyes took a clean bandana from the saddlebags and tied it around the wound.  He offered the bottle to his partner.  “Here, have some.”

Curry grimaced in pain as he held his head up and swallowed some of the whiskey.  He put his head down gingerly.  “That’s enough.  Leave me alone.”

Heyes smiled and tended to the fire.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


“Kid!”

Curry startled awake and then groaned.  “What?”

“How are you feeling?”

“Better before you woke me up,” the Kid grumbled.

“We gotta get going soon.  You okay to ride?”

Curry closed his eyes and evaluated his pain.  “Do I have a choice?”

“Not really.  We have a deadline to deliver the package.  We should get to Osceola by late afternoon riding slow.  You can rest there for a few days.”

“Okay.”  The Kid sighed and slowly sat up.

Heyes handled him some coffee and hardtack.  “Have something to eat while I saddle up the horses.

Curry dipped the hardtack into the coffee and gnawed on it for a while.

A half an hour later, Heyes had everything packed up.  “Ready?”  He held a hand out to his friend.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”  The Kid stood with help and painfully walked to his horse.  “My bruises have bruises from fallin’ off my horse.”

“I bet!  Need help?”

“No, I can do it.”  Curry did a hop and mounted his horse.  “Lead the way.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The partners rode for several miles in silence.

“This where it happened?” the Kid asked, noticing the blood on the trail.

“Yep!”  Heyes squinted as he looked up the rock cropping.  “I wonder what happened that he quit shooting us.”

“Wanna go up there and take a look?”

Heyes turned and looked at his partner.  “You okay to do that?”

“Sure, I’m curious, too.”

The two men reined their horses left and up an incline to the rock cropping.  A horse whinnied as they neared.  Heyes and Curry quickly drew their guns and glanced around.  Tied to a juniper was an anxious horse.

“He’s still near,” the Kid whispered and jumped down from his saddle.  He grunted in pain as he landed.

“Stay here with the horses.”  Heyes handed his reins to Curry and cautiously made his way up the cropping.

“Heyes…” Curry hissed as he watched him disappear.

Several long minutes went by before the Kid saw his partner standing on top of the cropping.

“He’s dead,” Heyes called down.

Curry tied their horses by the other one and made his way up the incline.  He saw his partner kneeling beside a dead man.  “What happened?”

“I guess I had a lucky shot and got him in the shoulder.”

“You shot him from down there?”

“Hey, I may not be as fast as you, but I can shoot!” Heyes shot back.

Curry looked down at the trail they were on.  “That’s some pretty good shootin’, Heyes!  That’s well over a hundred feet.”

“It’s amazing what someone can do with their partner bleeding and someone shooting at them.”

Curry looked around.  “He was shooting a rifle.  I don’t see one around, do you?”

Heyes looked around.  “Nope, but he was aiming for us.”  He showed Curry the wanted posters.  “You were right – he’s the man from town that was watching us.”

“I hate it when I’m right.  What should we do with him?”

Heyes ran his fingers through his hair.  “We’re about a good half day’s ride from Osceola.  What if we take him into there and tell the sheriff we found him?”

“And risk knowing the sheriff?  We’ve never been there before and don’t know who he is.  Besides, he’ll will question both of us were shot.”

“So just leave him?”

“That ain’t too Christian-like.  We could bury him.”

“You mean I could bury him.  You can’t dig with your wounds.  And the ground is rocky.”

Curry surveyed the area.  “There’s a crevice there.  We could put the body there and bury him with rocks.”

“We do that and we won’t make it into town tonight.  You okay to be out, again, in the cold?”

“When do we have to have the package there?”

“Tomorrow morning.”  Heyes sighed.  “Okay let’s bury the body.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Curry woke up early and rode the last ten miles into town.

“I wonder who that fellow was…” Heyes thought aloud.  “He must have some family or friends who’ll wonder about him.”

“I wonder what happened to his rifle.”  The Kid tucked his sore arm into the crook of his right arm.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Miles away on top of a rock cropping, an emptied-chamber 1873 Winchester rifle leaned against a juniper.

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


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PostSubject: Re: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:44 pm

“We’ll ride west, Kid.  They’ll never follow us across the desert, Kid.  We’ll be livin’ it up in Ely, Kid.”  The blond ex-outlaw muttered to himself as he trudged along through the scrubby desert landscape ignoring his partner who’d stopped and was staring angrily at Curry’s sweat-stained back.  

Dust covered Heyes’ face and lent him a ghost-like appearance.  They’d been on foot since yesterday afternoon and both men were tired and blistered.  “And why are we being chased in the first place?  Was it because someone couldn’t keep their hands off Elder Davies’ pretty little sister?”  

Swinging around, the Kid glared back at Heyes.  “How was I supposed to know she was fattenin’ me up for the kill?”

“You think a woman cooks like that for a man outta the goodness of her heart?   She had you in her crosshairs from the second you ran into her in front of her daddy’s store.  All those meals were meant to rope you in and brand you.  And what were you thinking drinking wine with her?  Don’t you know Utah’s got Blue Laws for every day of the week?  No, you just had to get involved with a proper lady—a proper, Mormon lady to boot.  Now we’ve got half of the population of Utah on our tails.”

Curry visibly deflated and sighed, “I was just havin’ a little fun.  You know, she cooked the best food I’ve eaten in years, but she sure could talk your ear off.  I guess when she started in on me turnin’ Mormon, I should’ve figured out what she had in mind, but I’d long since stopped listenin’ to what she was sayin’.”

Letting go of his own anger, Heyes smiled.  “You never could eat and think at the same time, Kid.”  He started walking again, each step a small agony.  “When we lit outta Richfield, I didn’t know we’d be on foot.  If I had, I would’ve taken us east; not west.”

“Yeah, I guess you can’t be blamed for your horse goin’ lame.”  Curry waited until his partner reached his side and began shuffling along next to him.  He could feel the heat of the hardpan radiating through the soles of his chafing boots.  The expanse they were crossing consisted of baked earth, lizards, sagebrush, and creosote.  There wasn’t a tree in sight for miles.  “Good thing we turned my horse loose when we did or the buzzards would be dinin’ on him now. Ridin’ double in this country is too much for any animal.”


“Hey, look at the bright side.  At least we’ve got plenty of water.  What were the odds we’d find that spring-fed lake?”  The sun was beating down on Heyes, forcing him to squint and causing his head to ache miserably, but he kept peering at the shimmery horizon.  “With a little luck, we should be able to make those mountains by nightfall.”

Curry groaned, “Good.  I can’t walk much further.  I’ve worn a hole in both heels and my feet feel twice their size.”

“Me too, Kid, but what are we gonna do?  We can’t stop here.  Davies almost caught us.  We were real lucky that prospector was willing to send them south for a five spot, but they’ll have figured out they’ve been had by now and you can bet they’re doubling back.  We don’t want to get caught out in the open.”

“What possessed you to strike out across the desert?  Everyone knows there ain’t nothin’ out here but tumbleweeds and rattlers.”  The Kid lifted his hat and wiped a grimy arm across his forehead.  He was hot and, worse, he was hungry.  They might have water, but they’d left too quickly to pack any supplies.  Visions of roasted chicken and fresh-baked blackberry pies floated before his eyes, but his pockets were filled with the mealy hardtack and jerky they’d bought off the old coot.  Wearily, he adjusted the saddlebags slung across his sore shoulder and tightened his grip on the new Winchester .44-40 he carried.  They were well-armed if it came down to a fight.  Still, he’d rather not shoot it out.  He was heartily wishing he’d never laid his hands on Miss Mary Beth Davies—or her pies.

Heyes carried the filled canteens as well as his own bags.  “I guess I figured Davies and his kin would give it up if the going got rough.”

“Well, it’s rough and they ain’t givin’ up.”  The Kid pointed to the south where a small plume of dust rose off the valley floor.

OOOOOOOOOO

“See anything?” asked Curry from the trunk of a juniper tree.  He was trying to forget about his throbbing feet and the fact they’d just finished the last of the food.  His saddlebags and his boots were tossed carelessly aside and the Winchester rested on its stock against the peeling, ragged bark of the twisted conifer.  

Heyes was lying on his chest peering down at the valley from their vantage point on a rocky outcropping.  “Naw, it’s getting too dark to tell, but I think they’ve stopped for the night.”  He rolled over onto his back and stared at the red and orange-streaked sky.  The first stars were appearing and it wouldn’t be long before the sun was down.  Every bone in his body hurt and it was with a loud moan that he hauled himself to his feet.  He staggered a few feet and collapsed in a heap of filthy denim on the sandy soil.  

Curry watched the steady rise and fall of his partner’s chest and knew Heyes had fallen almost instantly asleep where he’d landed.  With difficulty, he pulled his boots back onto his swollen feet and limped over to his friend.  He lay down next to Heyes, absorbing the warmth from the sleeping man.  Once the sun went down, it would get cold.  His eyes grew heavy and closed.

The sun had already cleared the top of the mountains when they both awoke with a start.  Heyes sat up, listening.  He was sure he’d heard something.  The Kid sprang to his feet and ran for cover, screaming at Heyes to follow.  Gunfire erupted around Heyes.  Small explosions traced his desperate dash for the rocks, but he reached cover without injury.  The Kid had his gun drawn but held his fire.  

“What’re you waiting for?  They’re shooting at us!” said Heyes, seizing his own weapon and aiming.

Curry reached over and pushed his partner’s gun down with his left hand.  “They’re on that ridge. They’re outta range.”

“Where’s the rifle?”

“I left it with my saddlebags.  Heyes, don’t even think about it.  You wouldn’t get ten feet before they cut you down.”

“Me?  You’re the one who left it by the tree!”

“C’mon, we can scramble down the backside of this hill and cut out across the draw.  They won’t be able to get a bead on us there.”

“And then what?” asked Heyes.  “It’s not like there’s a lot of hiding places around here.”

“You want to sit here and get shot, be my guest.  Me, I’m outta here.”  With that, Curry rolled over the edge of the outcropping, tumbled ten feet, and rose to a crouch.  He waited until he saw Heyes following, then he took off running.  He could hear faint yelling from the ridge top and knew it wouldn’t be long before their pursuers closed in on them.

Heyes ran behind him cursing and wincing as small stones tortured his soles.  They reached the bottom of the draw at the same time and stopped.  Curry was panting as he gasped out, “You see what I see?”

“What?”  Heyes was doubled over, his hands on his knees as he caught his breath.

“Those rocks over there?”  Curry gestured up over his shoulder.

“Yeah, so?”  Heyes eyes were scanning the rocky wall that rose above the draw before settling on a jumbled pile of boulders near the base of a sheer rock wall.

“So it could be a place to hide.”

“And then what?  We’ll be trapped.”

“We might be able to make those rocks without them seein’ us.  Worst that’ll happen is they’ll see us and pin us down, but we can make ‘em think twice about comin’ after us.”

“They won’t have to come after us, Kid!  We’ve got no food, no water, and no place to go.  They’ll wait us out.”

“Do you have a better idea?  There’s no other option I can see,” said Curry.  Heyes was silent.  The Kid pulled his gun and checked his load.  “I didn’t think so.”

“You know, I really hate it when you take charge.  It usually means I end up getting shot at.”

“Well, it is my plan,” grinned the Kid as he pushed off and started running with all his heart for the rocks, Heyes close on his heels.  Shots rang out but were too far away to do any harm.  They ducked behind the largest boulder and waited.  It wasn’t long before they heard the sounds of pursuit.  Skittering rocks signaled the clumsy approach of Davies and his men.  

“What now?”

“Now, we persuade them to go home,” said the Kid, drawing his gun and taking aim.  He could see several men working their way down the draw.

“Hold up, Kid,” said Heyes.  “Look!”  He was pointing at a brushy tangle of cedar and shrubs nestled against the sheer wall that towered behind them.  

Curry stared at the vegetation for a while before he made out the yawning darkness it camouflaged.  He chuckled happily.  “A cave.  There’s a cave, Heyes!”

Laughing softly, the two men carefully pushed their way through the brambles taking care not to damage any branches and entered the cool, dank opening; quickly disappearing into the growing blackness.  Using their hands to feel their way along the damp walls they hurried towards the back of the cave and stopped, holding their breaths.  They could see the glow of light from the mouth of the cave and heard men yelling and crawling about the hillside.    

“Hey, I found a cave,” yelled someone eventually, “and footprints!”

The two ex-outlaws could hear the other men gathering at the entrance to their sanctuary and they waited silently, their guns weighing heavily in their hands.  Neither of them wished to harm anyone and they both prayed they wouldn’t be discovered, but it soon became obvious that the hunters were going to wait them out.  Minutes stretched into hours and all they could hear was the soft tones of muted conversation and all they could see was the fading light of day that failed to reach them.   When the darkness became absolute, they waited until they were assured by ragged snores that most of the men had fallen asleep.  Carefully, as slowly as possible, they felt around the back of the cave covering every inch until they found a small crevice.  Slipping into it, Heyes squeezed through with the Kid behind him.  The walls squeezed them tightly as they worked their way further into the depths of the cave.

After several hundred feet, the corridor widened again and Heyes felt the walls drop away from beneath his hands.  They were in another cave.  The Kid tumbled into him and nearly knocked him down.  “Shh,” whispered Heyes.  Deciding it was worth the risk, he fished a box of matches from his shirt and lit one.  The light flared brightly and revealed a small portion of the cave.  The walls dripped moisture onto the floor.  Overhead, long tendrils of limestone reached down towards their rising counterparts and delicate fluted columns glistened in the flickering light.  Heyes turned in wonderment as the match burned down to his fingers and he shook it out.

“Did you see that?” hissed Curry softly.

“Yeah, beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Not that.  There’s a stream in here.”

Heyes lit another match.  “Where?”

Grabbing his partner, the Kid turned him to the right.  “There, see?”

Heyes saw a faint reflection along the opposite wall before the tiny flame burned out.  He stumbled blindly towards it, bumping into stony formations as he made his way across the cave until he heard splashing water beneath his feet.  He nearly danced with excitement.  “You’re right!  Haha, you’re right!”

“Shh, someone’s going to hear us.”

Another match revealed that the water was indeed moving.  It trickled past their feet.  Without a word, the two partners agreed to follow the course of the stream.  Their boots already wet, they stumbled along slowly until they abruptly came to another wall.  Heyes bent down towards the water and lit a match.  The stream cut through a small opening near the floor and disappeared.  He got down on his belly and thrust his arm into the hole.  The light danced wildly and blew out.

“You got any matches, Kid?”

“Yeah, almost a full box.”

“Good.”  Heyes lit yet another match and wriggled partway into the opening.  He could see the shallow stream leading into another widening before his light blew out again.  Emboldened, he wriggled forward.  

“Heyes, what the hell are you doin’?” growled an alarmed Kid.  He’d seen his partner disappearing into the wall before the light was extinguished.  

A muffled reply drifted to his ears.  “It’s another room, Kid, and there’s a breeze.  I think there’s a way out.”  

The Kid put his box of matches into his rear pants pocket to keep them dry and dropped into the water, squeezing into the hole.  He was almost halfway in when he felt himself wedged tight.  “Heyes,” he nearly yelled, “I’m stuck!”

Hands reached for him in the darkness and he felt his partner pulling on his shoulders.  It was no use.  He couldn’t get through.  Panicking in the confined space, he cried, “Push, push me back!”

Hearing the fear in his normally stoic partner’s voice, Heyes pushed with all his strength.  He felt the Kid slide away from him.

When he got his breathing under control, Curry morosely said, “It’s no use, Heyes, go on without me, I’ll cover your back.”

“I ain’t leaving you behind, Kid,” growled Heyes through the opening.

“You ain’t got a choice, Heyes.  Guess I put on more weight than I realized eatin’ Mary Beth’s good cookin’.  There’s no way I can fit through there.”  The Kid stood up.

From the other side of the wall, Heyes’ mind raced.  He wouldn’t leave his partner.  Not now, not ever.  “Take off your clothes!” demanded Heyes.

“What?!”

“I said take off your clothes.  That’ll buy you a few inches.”

“I ain’t gettin’ nekkid, Heyes.”

“Would you rather get dead?”  Not hearing an immediate answer, Heyes added, “or married?”  

“When you put it that way….”  Curry quickly pulled off his garments and bundled his holster and pants inside of his blue shirt and tied the arms tightly.  Pushing the garments ahead of him, he crawled into the hole again.  With some effort, he managed to squeak through the narrow spot and landed on Heyes’ feet.  He felt his partner’s hands help him up.  

Heyes struck another match, but the Kid blew it out.  “What you’d do that for?!”

“Geez, give me a second to get decent, why don’t you?” was the irritated reply from the Kid.  Putting his wet clothes back on was a chore.  “Okay, I’m dressed.”

Another light flared and the Kid could see that they were in a much smaller cave.  The stream stretched through the center of it and once again disappeared into another wall, but, thankfully, through a larger hole than the one he’d just come through.  He felt a faint chill and realized there was a breeze and it was coming from the opening.  Without waiting for Heyes, he crossed the room and stood by the hole.  Cold air struck his face and he laughed.  He knelt down and peered into the opening.  He could see faint stars twinkling in the night sky.  

Heyes knelt next to him.  “I’ll go first in case you get stuck again.  I’d rather be pulling your arms than pushing your a…”  

“Don’t say it,” warned Curry.   He slipped out after Heyes into a clear, cold night.  The moon was up and nearly full, casting a soft light across the valley floor and the ribbon of roadway that bisected it.  They’d come out on the opposite side of the hill and could see the recently-christened Wheeler Peak looming above them.  The North Star shone overhead beckoning them to follow.  As quietly as they could, they picked their way down the hillside until they reached the valley floor.  It wasn’t until they’d struck north to Ely that they spoke again.

“How far do you think it is to town, Heyes?”

“It’s a ways, Kid.  Let’s make for the road, if we’re lucky we might hitch a ride.”

“Sound like a plan to me,” agreed Curry.  “I hope someone comes along soon.  I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.”

“You might be better off sticking to a pony, Kid,” chuckled Heyes as he threw his arm over his partner’s shoulders and the two men limped into the night.

Author’s notes: Lehman Caves are located at the base of Wheeler Peak in the Great Basin National Park.    Year round tours are offered by the Park Service and the cave features rare shield formations not commonly seen in other caves.  Great Basin is also designated an International Dark Skies Park and is known for its incredible starry skies.   At the top of Wheeler Peak is a trail that winds through an ancient Bristlecone Pine forest.  Bristlecone are one of the oldest living non-clonal organisms on the planet with some existing trees dating well over 5,000 years old.

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Last edited by InsideOutlaw on Sun Mar 01, 2015 4:13 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Feb 2015 - The Rifle   Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:47 am

The Rifle

Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry rode into yet another dry, dusty town in their quest for a few days’ respite from a long, never-ending trail.  Pulling their hats forward to shield their faces from close view, they rode past the sheriff’s office and glanced over.  Imperceptibly smiling at each other at the unfamiliarity of the local constable’s posted name, they scanned the array of businesses and pulled up to a saloon.  Dismounting and tethering their mounts, they strode toward the entrance.

“Get outta here, you drunk!  Done told ya enough is enough!”

Two ex-outlaw pairs of eyes met with a mutual shrug, then started as a large body bowled through the door, knocking Kid Curry off his feet and almost sending Hannibal Heyes to the same fate.  Reaching an arm over the still thrashing ejected one to help his partner up finally pulled Heyes into the heap as the swirling eddy of humanity engulfed him.

Dazed for a moment, Heyes rolled free of the tangle, only to be hit in the shoulder by another missile – a rifle, which thudded to the boardwalk to his side.  He ducked to avoid any further projectiles, human or otherwise.  

“Take yer trash and stay out!”

Kid Curry grasped at the man pinning him.  One hand instinctively reached for his gun belt.  Satisfied his pistol still lay secure in its holster, he renewed his effort to free himself.  

“Now, Thaddeus!”

Seeking the split second of opportunity afforded by his partner’s lifting of one shoulder of the now slurred-shouting ejectee, Curry rolled free.  Picking himself up, he bent to his knees to catch his breath.

Heyes appeared alongside.  “Okay?”

Kid nodded.

Heyes squeezed his partner’s shoulder.  “Good.”  Shifting his attention to the now quiet, supine man, he stooped to lend a hand.  “Let’s get you up.”  The man did not move.  The ex-outlaw leader bent to one knee, pressing his hand flat against and lightly tapping the man’s cheek.  “Mister?”

Several seconds later, one eye opened.  “Dammit.”

Heyes recoiled from the stench.

“Not again, Hanson!”

Regaining his breath, Kid straightened up as a man with a star on his shirt approached.  He warned in a low tone, “Heyes.”

“I see him.”

The sheriff reached them, surveying the scene.  “You two look a little worse for wear.  Tell Smitty the bartender inside your drinks’re on me.  Sorry for the trouble.”

The sheriff, though wiry and not as tall, effortlessly grabbed the now unconscious, floored man under the shoulders, dragging him toward the jail across the street and half a block down.  

Heyes and Curry dusted themselves off.  

“Sheriff’s strong,” noted Heyes.  “Wouldn’t expect that strength in a man his size.”

Kid glanced after them.  “Yeah.”  

“Let’s get that drink.  Nice of the sheriff.”  Heyes walked ahead.

“Um hm.”

The dark-haired partner held the door.  With no hand soon taking it, he glanced behind him to see Curry stooping.

“Thaddeus?”

Kid stood with the forgotten rifle in his hand, inspecting it.

Heyes rubbed his shoulder with his free hand.  “Not every day I get hit twice.”

Curry smiled briefly at his partner before eyeing the long gun again.  “Haven’t seen one of these since the war.  Hasn’t been taken care of, though.  It’s rustin’ up.”

Heyes stepped out of the entrance to let a customer exit, peacefully this time.  “Rusting?  Gotta take better care of guns than that.”

Kid smiled at his partner.  “My feelin’s exactly.  Where’d ya learn that?”

Heyes rolled his eyes before turning serious.  “Better leave that where you found it.”

Blue eyes twinkled.  “You know I can’t do that.  Blue this up and it’ll be good as new.”  He thought.  “Well, at least a good lookin’ relic.  Have it back to him before he wakes up.”

“You mean, go to the sheriff’s office?”

“Yup.”

Heyes’ eyes grew wide.  The “look” overshadowed his countenance.  “There you go again.”

“What?”  Curry sighed.  “It’ll be fine.  The sheriff’s obliged to us.”  He paused.  “At least he seems to be.”

Heyes shook his head and stepped inside, glancing behind to ensure his partner followed.

oooOOOooo

“You two look like ya tangled with a cat.  Sorry for the trouble, gents.  Some don’t know how to hold their liquor.  What’ll it be?”

Heyes placed two five-cent pieces on the bar.  “Two beers.”  Spying a jar of hard-boiled eggs, he asked, “These free.”

Smitty placed the pair of brews on the bar.  “Yup, with a drink.  And keep yer money.  Bet the sheriff said they’re on him.”

Heyes nodded.  Grabbing a mug, he asked, “How’d you know?”

“That’s what he does, ‘specially if strangers is involved.”

Heyes gulped half his drink.  “Ah, that’s good.”  He replaced the mug on the bar.  “Lotta trouble around here?”

“Not usually.  Sheriff keeps a tight rein on things ‘round these parts.”

“I see.”  

Spying his partner’s untouched beer, Heyes looked at him.  Curry stood two steps back from the bar, examining the rifle.

“That thing’s seen better days,” Smitty offered.

Heyes smirked at his partner’s lack of reaction.  “I think Thaddeus here would agree with you.”

Curry looked up.  “Huh?”

Heyes shook his head.  “That the rifle’s seen better days.  Your thirst leave you all of a sudden?”

“Um, no.”  Kid grabbed his mug and sipped before replacing it.  Indicating the rifle, he looked at Smitty.  “It has seen better days.  Just needs a little attention is all.”

The barkeeper started to turn to new customers.  “Don’t bother.  It’ll just encourage him more.”

Curry’s brow furrowed.  He glanced at Heyes, who shrugged.

Smitty returned.  “You gussy that thing up right, it’ll start all over again.  Do us and yourself a favor and burn it.  Maybe then he’ll move on.”

“What’d he do?”

Heyes stood aside, momentarily forgotten, watching the speakers, outwardly showing disinterest while his curiosity was as piqued as his partner’s.  He never could resist a good story.

Smitty related flatly, “He’s a no good drunk.  Arrived in town a few months ago and been hangin’ ‘round since.  Spends nights in the livery with his no good nag; glue factory’s best place for the sorry beast.  That’s when he’s not sleepin’ off a drunk in the alley or in jail when the sheriff gets feelin’ sorry for him.  Sorry lot of humanity he is.”

Curry reflected.  “There’s probably a good fella underneath.  Too many good men hide behind a bottle.  I’ve known a few.”  He indicated the rifle.  “What about this?”

Smitty continued.  “You get rid of that rusted piece of crap, you get rid o’ him.”

“Means a lot to him?”

“Yup.”

“It’s seen better days, but with a bit of bluin’ and cleanin’ up, it’ll look just fine.  Might even shoot good if the bore’s intact.”

Smitty’s dander rose.  “Young fella, you’re new ‘round these parts, and you’ll be movin’ on soon, I suppose.  Don’t go askin’ for trouble.”

Curry finally glanced at his partner.  Heyes’ eyes narrowed.

Turning back to Smitty, Kid continued.  “How’s it askin’ for trouble just to help a fella out?”

“Done told ya already.  I want him outta here.  He’s no good.  Trashin’ that piece of old metal’s best thing ya can do for the town.”

A cold, blue-eyed stare met the barkeep’s anger.  Curry turned and walked out.  Heyes opened his mouth to speak, but no words came.  He shook his head, glanced at Smitty, and followed after his partner.

oooOOOooo

After checking in and performing the usual routine of checking the street from their window, complete with full view of the sheriff’s office, the partners set about unpacking.  This hotel’s being more affordable than most, they took a larger room than usual with more furnishings.  As Heyes loaded his change of clothes into a drawer, Curry spread out his gun cleaning equipment on a table sized for the task, pulled out a chair, and got to work on the rusted rifle.

His partner crossed his arms and watched.  When Kid did not look up, he sighed; still, no reaction.  “Kid, you can’t be serious.  We could get in trouble.  Just because the sheriff doesn’t know us …”

“Put a trap on it, Heyes.  I’m gonna finish this.”  Curry continued his task without flinching.

“We’re gonna regret this.”

Kid ignored the comment.  He took the rifle apart, gently setting down each piece in turn.  Removing bluing accouterment from the kit, he fingered the rust on the barrel, picking at it lightly.  “It’s only just the surface.  It’ll be good as new.”

Heyes threw up his hands.  “Just what we need!”

Curry said flatly, “It’ll be fine, Heyes.  If ya don’t like it, go take a walk.”

“Can’t afford to do that without you to watch my back.”  He paused.  “Or, in this case, best be me who’s watching yours.”

oooOOOooo

The light through the window began to fade.  The silence of the room save his partner’s ministrations distracted Heyes.  He put down the book he had only half immersed himself in to gaze at Curry, whose attention had not left his task.  Heyes had to admit to himself he sometimes did not give Kid the credit for his tenacity for something in which he took interest.  Perhaps after amnesty his partner could become the gunsmith Heyes thought he might like to be – under a continuing alias, of course – because peace might never come to him using his own identity.  Too many young wannabes out for the glory of making a name for themselves, no matter how notoriously.  Out-drawing the fastest gun in the West, well, that would do it.  But there was Curry’s restless spirit …

“Done.”  

Heyes blinked.  

Curry stood, holding a nicely blued and oiled rifle.  Both the rust and several glare spots gone, the long gun no longer looked the relic of a seemingly ancient war – still remembered perhaps, but hopefully long past the common consciousness.

The dark-haired partner stood, striding over to examine the piece.  “Wouldn’t recognize it, Kid.  Damn, you’re good.”  He smiled.

“Change your mind?”

“No.”  Dark eyes saddened.  Heyes looked away.  “You know, that do-gooding is gonna get us in real trouble someday.”

“Lighten up, Heyes.  We always come out okay in the end.”

OooOOOooo

“You comin’?”

Hannibal Heyes hesitated outside the sheriff’s office.  Twilight waned, but no stars appeared.  He sighed and followed in step with his partner.

Curry opened the door.  The sheriff sat at his desk.  The rustle of papers stopped.  

The lawman stood, extending a hand but keeping an eye on the long gun in Kid Curry’s hand.  “Good seeing you again, gents.  Hope you’re not the worse for wear.”

Heyes spoke.  “Nope.  Just fine.”  He did not immediately notice the sweat that broke as he shook the sheriff’s hand.

Kid stepped forward to do the same.  “Sheriff.”

The lawman nodded.  “Any reason for the rifle?”

Kid offered it to the sheriff, who took it.  “Yup.  Belongs to that fella from this afternoon.”  At the lawman’s puzzled look, Curry continued, “I just cleaned it up a bit.”

The sheriff examined it carefully.  “Yeah, I guess it is his.  Ya don’t see too many of these anymore.”

“Nope.”

“It’ll make him happy, I suppose.”  He looked at the door leading to the cells.  “If he ever wakes up.”

Heyes repeated, “If he ever wakes up?”

“Yeah.  I feel sorry for him, although sometimes I think he’d be better off dead, and he probably does, too.  Ever since he came to town a few months back, I don’t think I’ve seen him sober for more than a few hours, and from what I’ve been able to piece together when he is, Hanson was a hero in some battle back East – Cold Harbor, I think.  His one moment of glory, it seems.  Not sure what he did with all the killing around him.  Then the war ended, and he didn’t know what to do with himself.  Drifted around all these years because there was nothin’ to go back to.  Said he couldn’t find a place he felt comfortable, ‘cept maybe in the bottle.  Can’t figure.  True Union blue, I guess.  That rifle is his life.”

The partners glanced at each other with pursed lips.  

Curry turned to the lawman.  “That’s too bad, sheriff.”

“Yeah.  A big man like him.  Probably could’ve made something of himself.”

Heyes nodded.  The hour was getting late.

“What’s your name?  I’m sure he’ll wanna know.”

Kid caught the lawman’s eye.  “Just … a friend.”

The sheriff’s gaze narrowed, eyeing Heyes and Curry in turn.  “A friend?”

“Yeah.  That’s all he needs to know.”

The sheriff nodded.  “I’ll tell him.”

“Thanks.”

With a tip of hats, the partners turned, closing the door behind them.


__________

Notes:  

Bluing of guns:  http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/2010/08/metal-treatments-browning-and-bluing.html

Cold Harbor:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cold_Harbor

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