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 July 16 - Stars and Stripes

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Calico

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PostSubject: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:18 am

Disgruntled miaows from me – real life is severely curtailing my time with you all. Hiss. Spit. (NOT that I am not enjoying new job – just it sucks up so much time)
So – apologies for lack of interaction from me.
And apologies that last month’s challenge nearly done in my head never got written.
It was silly anyhow.

Never mind all that.

I had a suggestion for this month’s challenge.
And – despite the fact it may encourage certain of you to write stories celebrating the outcomes of a certain appalling event at which tea – TEA – was wantonly wasted…
Excuse me.
I need to recover from the awfulness of that thought.

Slurp. coffee

Okay.

All you ladies and gents across the Herring Pond – prepare to let your patriotic juices flow over your July challenge.

Stars and Stripes.


Hey - where did the fourth of July icons go???? Didn't we used to have a statue of liberty and fireworks. ????
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ty pender

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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:11 pm



Quote :


"The power to tax involves the power to destroy;...the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create...."

-- Chief Justice John Marshall, 1819

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ty pender

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PostSubject: Stars and Stripes   Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:12 pm


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BeeJay
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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:53 pm

Well, heck. I forgot to put back the 4th of July smilies. I searched for a 'dud' firework smile but couldn't find one-so you get this instead until I get the belated 4th ones up again. BBQ

At least it works for summer!

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Calico

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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:38 am


Not a real bandanny contender - but just nonsense!!!



ON THE BALL

Late pm, Sunday 5th July



“@**@!” spat Calico, in a lady like manner.

It easy neither to spit, nor to swear in a lady like manner. However, she managed both concurrently. Moreover, she did it while standing on a wobbly stepladder and brandishing secateurs. That’s the kind of multi-tasking ficlet heroine we’re dealing with here.

A particularly belligerent branch of a cantankerous climber was soundly cuffed.

A bleeding thumb was sucked.

“You’re twining round that @**@ing lower oak branch if it @**@ing kills both of us…” growled Calico.

Remember, much anecdotal evidence and the occasional marginally statistically significant study supports the hypothesis that talking to plants works.

There is not so much substantiation that cussing at plants works – but you never know.

Her attention was diverted by approaching hoof beats. Then, by approaching boot beats. Two familiar figures strode through the garden gate.

Well, familiar except for both being wrapped, patriotically, in the stars and stripes.

“’Ere we go, ‘ere we to, ‘ere we go!” sang Kid Curry lustily.

Calico scowled.

He ignored the darkling look and throwing back his head, chorused, “’Ere we go, ‘ere we go, ‘ere we GO-OH!”

Heyes joined in the musical offering, “Five two! Fi-ive two! Five two! Fi-ive two!” He dimpled at Calico, endearingly. “Me and the Kid – we thought we’d sing you a few traditional celebratory English soccer chants.”

“S’right,” grinned Curry, unfurling his flag and holding it aloft. “Since the USA just won the soccer world cup.”

“The soccer world cup England lost,” clarified Heyes.

“’Cos England scored an own goal…” smirked Curry.

“That means, England saved the other team the trouble of putting the ball in the net…”

“I know what an own goal is!” snapped Calico. “It was an accident. It could happen to anyone.”

“Didn’t happen to us,” shot back Kid.

“Or, to put it another way, it didn’t happen to U.S.,” smirked Heyes.

“I don’t see any reason to sound so smug…” began Calico.

“Did you not hear the ‘five two’ part?” interjected Heyes.

“Or the bit about your team scorin’ an own goal – an’ our team not?” helped out Curry.

“It was only the women’s world cup – not the real one,” finished the interrupted one.

A pause.

Heyes clicked his tongue in mock disapproval. “You’d better check the elastic on your feminist credentials, Cally – they’re slipping.”

A faint flush rose to Calico’s cheeks.

“I only meant the women’s game is not generally accorded the same high profile as…”

She trailed off before the silent laughter in a pair of cynical brown eyes.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake! Since when have you two taken any interest in the women’s world cup?”

“Since we won it,” said Heyes.

“I’ve always had a likin’ for women’s soccer,” confided Curry.

His partner shot him a surprised look.

“Well, y’know. Watchin’ twen’y two pretty young gals runnin’ around in shorts…”

“True,” mused Heyes.

“Gettin’ wet if it rains. Gettin’ muddy if they fall over.”

Calico rolled her eyes.

“Some folk reckon, away from the muscle and aggression of the men’s game, you get a better display of pure skill in women’s soccer,” opined Heyes.

“Then after the game – them gals all sharin’ a steamy shower. Hot water cascadin’ down their tired legs. Soapin’ each others…”

Heyes cleared his throat warningly.

“…I mean, what Heyes said – ‘bout the skills in women’s soccer,” recovered the Kid.

“Yeah, right,” snorted Calico. “Besides, it’s not soccer, it’s football.”

“Nope.” On this point Kid Curry was clear. “Football is football.”

“The kind they play in the World Series,” Heyes' tone was reverential.

“Remind me…” Calico furrowed her brow in exaggerated curiousity, “Exactly how many other countries join in this world series?”

The boys exchanged a look. Then, as one:

“Five Two! Fi-ive Two! Five Two! Fi-ive Two!”

---oooOOOooo---
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Alias Alice



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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:44 am

Don't know why I keep writing about the boys when they were young!  I just do!


When I'd written this, it suddenly occurred to me that our American Cousins might feel slightly insulted by the way it starts, and I wondered if I ought not to enter it.  But, I intended no insult to the USA, a country I like and admire very much.  I just tried to play with the word 'stars' and the word 'stripes', and see what they might mean.  I hope American readers will read on a little, because later I try to compliment the US through the conversation of the boys.

Well, here it is, for what it's worth.

                               Stars and Stripes

When he was lying in his bed in the dormitory in the attic of the Valparaiso Home, Jed could see the stars though a sky-light directly overhead.

If he lay on his back, he could gaze out at the night sky.  Sometimes he felt a little scared by their distant remoteness, but mostly he enjoyed his view of the fiery sparks.  There were myriads of stars to see on a clear night.  Sometimes he could see the opaque starry cloud that was the Milky Way.  Best he liked the Evening Star, which Han had told him was the planet Venus, which hung low on the horizon.

Tonight, though, he was lying not on his back, but on his stomach.  He had been sobbing quietly into his pillow.  He could not lie on his back because of the red weals and stripes across it from the thin and whippy stick of Mr Robinson, one of the teachers at Valparaiso.

Earlier that day, Wayne Carter, the strapping bully from amongst the older boys had grabbed Jed's cousin Han who'd been unlucky enough to cross his path when Wayne felt like taking out his temper on someone younger.

“If there's one thing I can't stand it's a know-all,” said Wayne.  This was because Han had unfortunately been able to a answer a question in class that Wayne, two years older, could not.

Wayne was just in the act of twisting Han's arm up behind his back when a fairly large pebble hit him right under his ear.

“Owww!” cried Wayne and let go of Han who instantly sprinted for safety.  Wayne turned around and saw Jed holding a catapult that he had obviously just fired.

“I'll get you for this, Curry!” said the smarting bully.

He'd been present when Mr Robinson had promised to whip Jed Curry if he used his catapult once more.  Wayne went straight to Mr Robinson, with whom he was a favourite.  Mr Robinson recognised a kindred spirit when he saw one.

As a result, Jed now lay on his stomach in his bed, giving the occasional hiccuping sob after his storm of tears.  Suddenly, someone slipped into bed next to him, and put an arm around him, carefully avoiding touching the back striped with red.

“You OK?” he whispered.

“Yeah,” said his cousin suppressing a fresh sob.

“Doesn't hurt too much?”

“No.”

His cousin said nothing for a minute.  Then he said quietly:  “Thanks for getting me away from Wayne Carter.  But you shouldn't have got yourself into trouble.  You should have just let Carter get on with it.”

“Couldn't do that,” said Jed.

There was another moment's silence.  Then Heyes said:

“I wish I could have stopped you doing it.  You need to be careful of that Robinson.”

“I'm not sorry I did it. I'd do it again if I had to.”

Han squeezed his hand.  “It's more important that you be careful.”  Then he said with a sudden change of tone: “You're getting to be a dead shot with that catapult.  I can't remember the last time you missed something you were aiming at.  I don't know how you do it!”

He remembered something.  “I've brought you some supper I saved.”

He slipped some bread and cold meat into Jed's hot hand.

“Listen, kid,” he whispered.  “It's the 4th July next week.  There's going to be a parade in town, and a fair, and side-shows and stalls and flags and everything.  It's to be on Saturday, and we can go and have a real good time!”

Jed felt happier at the idea of the treat.  But then he remembered something.  “I've got no money, Han.”

“I have.  My treat.   We'll get some candy-floss!  Or toffee-apples!  Or both!”

As usual, Han was making a brilliant job of cheering up his young cousin.  Jed fell quiet for some time, thinking about the 4th July.  Eventually he said, “Han?”

“Yes?”

“Why is the flag called The Stars and Stripes?”

Han smiled to himself.  His cousin was feeling better.

“It's because there are thirteen stripes for the colonies that first declared Independence, and each star is for one State that's part of the Union.”

“Oh.”

Suddenly and surprisingly, Jed said

“Shoot, if you must, this old grey head,
But spare your country's flag, she said.”

Han was astonished.

“Where'd you hear that?”

“In class,” said J, briefly.  “I like the whole poem.  I like what it means.”

“So do I,”  replied his cousin.

He gave Jed's hand a last squeeze, and slipped out of the bed to climb into his own.  Within minutes, both were asleep, both happier for their short talk.
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:52 pm

Stars and Stipes
By Maz McCoy


“Is this it?” Kid asked as he faced the faded wooden panels.
“Yep,” Heyes confirmed.
“It’s too hot to be paintin’,” the blond Adonis grumbled as he prized the lid off the paint pot with a screwdriver.
“Just be glad we got a job.”
“Oh, I’m glad we got a job, Heyes. I was just hoping it would be a payin’ one!”
“Remember what they say, you have to speculate to accumulate.” The dark haired man studied the paint brush he had been given.
Kid gave Heyes a questioning look.
“What?” Heyes asked.
“What the heck did that mean?”
“It means we do this job for free in the hope that it leads to other paying jobs.”
“And if it doesn’t we’ve painted this man’s fence for nothin’!”
“Then we shall paint it well, in the hope that others will see what good work we do and offer us employment.” Heyes gave his friend a cheery smile as he bent to remove the lid from his own pot of paint.
“What kinda colours are these for a fence anyway? I got red, what have you got?”
Heyes took the lid off the pot. “Blue,” he announced.
“Who paints a fence red and blue?”
“You do,” came the reply.
The two ex-outlaws turned to see their ‘employer’, Samuel Adams, walking towards them. “I’m glad you got the paint, boys. Folks here in Dartmouth will be real pleased to see that ol’ fence painted at last.”
“About this job Mister Adams…” Heyes stepped away from the fence.
“Oh, it’s going to look real fancy, real fancy,” Adams gushed.
“We were wondering if…”
“You got the red and blue but where’s the white?” Adams looked about, clearly searching for something.
“White?” Kid queried.
“White paint. You boys can’t paint the flag on the fence without the white for the stars now can you?”
“Flag?” Kid’s mouth dropped open.
Adams smiled. “That’s right. You’re painting the stars and stripes on the fence.”
Kid looked at Heyes. Heyes looked at Adams.
“The stars and stripes?” Kid confirmed. He pointed a thumb at the fence. “On this?”
“Yes, sir.”
“That’ll take a while to do.”
“It sure will and the whole town are going to be real grateful to you for volunteering a week of your time to do it for us.”
“Volunteering?” Kid looked at Heyes. Heyes looked at his paint brush. “A week?”
“Yes. Mister Smith was kind enough to offer your services when I mentioned we needed the fence painted for the Fourth of July celebrations.” Adams smiled happily. “Well, I best leave you boys to it. If you haven’t got the white paint just ask Hancock down at the general store. John’ll supply you with anything else you need. Won’t even ask you to sign for it.”
With a wave Adams headed back along Main Street. Heyes watched him go all too aware of Kid glaring at him.
“You volunteered?”
“Now, Kid…”
“Don’t! You said the man needed his fence painting, you did not tell me he wanted the darn flag on it!”
“Is that anyway to talk about the flag of our nation?” Heyes chastised.
“Do you know how many stars are on that thing?”
“As a matter of fact…”
“That was one of them rhetorical questions!”
“All right. I know I may have…”
Kid took a step closer to his friend. “And stripes! Do you know how many stripes there are?”
Heyes simply met his partner’s gaze, realising it was probably best to keep quiet.
The blond man took another step.  “Do you have any idea how long it’s gonna take us to paint the flag on a fence this size?” Kid waved his arms dramatically at the long-very long-fence.
“Well, about a we…”
Another step. Kid was now within poking distance. Kid poked Heyes in the chest with a finger. “A long time, that’s how long! And how do you suppose…” Poke… “In all that time…” Poke. “We will afford the hotel room?” Poke. “Or the food we’re gonna need?”
“I’ve thought about that and…”
Kid held up a hand. “You know by the time we’ve finished it, they’ll probably add another darn star to the flag and we’ll have to repaint the whole darn thing!”
Heyes waited for another outburst but Kid had clearly finished. “But think of it Kid, we’ll leave a lasting legacy here in Dartmouth. A flag painted by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, untouched by any other hand. Thirteen stripes and thirty-eight stars, for all to see.”
Kid pondered this great achievement. “I guess it would be nice.”
Heyes placed a conciliatory arm around his partner’s shoulder. “It sure would.”
“But how we gonna pay for food?”
“You let me worry about that.”
Kid’s eyes narrowed. “I let you worry about a job and look where it got us.”
Heyes smiled. “So, do you want to paint the red parts or the blue?”

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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:29 pm

Stars and Stripes
July 2015


“You heard me!  Get out of those clothes!”  A burly man with a shiny sheriff’s star pointed to a striped uniform.

Hannibal Heyes took off his black hat and placed it in a box on the table.  Next came his shirt.   He unfastened his pants and lowered them past his knees before sitting down to remove his boots.  He stood and placed these items in the box with the rest of his belongings.  He reached toward the uniform.

“I said everything!”

Heyes scowled as he took his Henley off and put the rough striped shirt on. He pushed off his bottoms, replacing them with the coarse striped pants.

“Socks, too!”

“All this for playing poker too late?”

“There a law in Red Bluff against gambling from 11pm – noon, punishable by thirty days of hard labor.  This uniform lets the town’s citizens know that you’re working off a debt to society.”

Heyes shook his head in disbelief as he removed his socks.

Shackles were taken off a hook on the wall.  “Put these on.”

“Now wait a minute…”

A gun clicked.

“You better do as he says, Smith.  Don’t wanna get him anymore mad as us,” said another player from the poker game who was putting on his shackles.

Reluctantly, Heyes put the chains around his feet.

More chains came off a hook.  “Hold out your hands.”  

Heyes held out his hands as the manacles were locked into place.

“You forgot this.”  The sheriff put a striped cap on the convict’s head.  “Now take your box and follow me.”  He led his prisoners out of the jail to a waiting buckboard.



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Kid Curry rode into the town of Red Bluff with his hat pulled low protecting his eyes from the hot sun.  He glanced around and wondered where he’d find Heyes.  He reined his horse over to the saloon and dismounted, stretching his body before tying the gelding to the hitching post.  He sauntered through the bat doors into the cool dark room.  He waited a moment as his eyes adjusted before making his way to the bar.

The Kid held up a finger when the bartender looked his way.  “One beer.”

“Comin’ right up!”

A glass slid down the counter and Curry picked it up and took a deep swallow.  “Ahh...”  He turned to face the tables, looking for his partner.  He frowned and muttered, “No poker this evenin’, Heyes?”

He finished his beer and placed a nickel on the counter.  “Thanks!”

The bartender nodded and went back to watching the faro and poker games.

The Kid’s eyes swept across the town taking in the sheriff sitting outside of the jail observing the town, the two young ladies window shopping in front of the millinery, wagons going up and down the main street, and children playing hide ‘n seek.  He untied his horse and walked to the livery.  He heard a familiar nickering as he walked into the barn and his horse replied back.  Curry smiled when he saw Heyes’ chestnut greeting them.  

“Can I help ya?” asked a teenager descending from the loft.  

“I wanna leave my horse here for a few days.  He’ll need a rub and some oats.”

“That’ll be a dollar.”  The teen took the reins from Curry and waited.

The Kid pulled out a coin and handed it to the young man and then removed his saddlebags and rifle.  “When did that chestnut get into town?”

“About five or six days ago.  You know her?”

“Yep, it’s my partner’s mare.”

“Oh…”  The boy looked a little uneasy.  “I’ll get right to your gelding, mister.”  He led the horse out the back door to the water trough.

Curry watched him go before heading to the hotel.  He walked into the lobby and put his belongings on the counter before ringing the bell.

An elderly man limped out of the back room.  “Need a room?”

“My partner should be here – Joshua Smith.”

“Nope, he’s not here.”

“But I saw his horse in the livery.”

“Well, he’s not here!”

Curry looked puzzled.  “Is there another hotel?  Boarding room?”

“Nope.”

The Kid turned the registry and ran a finger down the names.  “Right here – Joshua Smith checked in five days ago.”

“Well, he’s gone.  Toby!”

A young boy came out of the back room.  “Yes, Grandpa?”

“Go get Sheriff Harrison.”

“Yes, sir!”  The boy ran out of the hotel.

“Now there’s no need to get the sheriff,” Curry said.

“There is if you keep askin’ for Mr. Smith.”

“And why’s that?”  The Kid’s heart fell.

“You just wait and the sheriff’ll tell you.”

Toby ran into the room pulling along the sheriff.  “I brought ‘im just like you said!”

The sheriff shook off the child’s hand.  “Having a problem, Randall?”

Curry shook his head.  “No problem, Sheriff.  I was just wonderin’ where my partner was.”

“Your partner?”

“It’s Joshua Smith, Sheriff,” informed Randall.  

The sheriff thought for a moment.  “Oh, Joshua Smith.  He was arrested earlier this week.”

“Arrested?  What for?” the Kid asked worriedly.

“For gambling past eleven.”

Curry knitted his brow.  “For gamblin’ past eleven?”

“There’s a law about that in this town, punishable by thirty days of hard labor.”

“For gamblin’ past eleven?” the Kid questioned in disbelief.

“Helps keep law and order in our fair town.  Anyone out past eleven is just asking for trouble,” the sheriff defended the town’s ordinance.

“And how’s a person suppose to know about this ordinance?”

“It’s posted in the saloon for all to read.”

“And Joshua continued to gamble when others went home?”

“The townsfolk went home.  Your partner was arrested along with two other drifters.”

“And for that he has thirty days of hard labor?”  Kid Curry was having a difficult time accepting such a law and punishment existed.

“He and the other two men arrested that evening.”

“Can I go to the jail and see him?”

“No.  He’s not at the jail.”

“Where is he?” Curry was trying not to lose his patience.

“He’s doing his hard labor nearby.”  The sheriff was getting annoyed.  “And if you don’t watch yourself, you’re liable to join him.”

“How many days left on his sentence?”  

The sheriff thought a moment.  “His sentence started Tuesday, so he’s got twenty-six more days.”

Curry removed his hat and ran his fingers through his matted hair.  “Twenty-six days,” he muttered.  “And you say I get in trouble without you around, Joshua.”



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Kid Curry walked into the saloon that evening and ordered a whiskey.  He turned and leaned on the bar as he watched the games and the girls serving liquor.  He glanced around the room at the pictures and signs.

“Need another one?”  The bartender held up the bottle.

“Sure.”  Curry held out his glass.  “So I heard there’s an ordinance in this town about gamblin’ stoppin’ at eleven.”

“That’s right.”

“The sheriff said the law’s posted in the saloon.”

“That’s right.”

“Where?  I don’t see it?”

“Right there.”  The bartender pointed to a tiny piece of paper, stuck to the mirror behind the bar.  He moved two bottles to the side, giving Curry a clearer view.

“That’s the sign?” Curry asked incredulously.

“Yep.”

“So the locals know the law, but drifters don’t?”

“It’s their responsibility to know the laws.”

The Kid shook his head in disbelief.



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Kid Curry sat on the hotel’s porch, chair tipped back, his feet on the railing, and smoking a cigar.

Sheriff Harrison came over and sat next to him.  “Good morning.”

Curry nodded.  “Mornin’.”

“You planning on just sitting around waiting until your friend’s released?”

“Thinkin’ about it.”

“I suggest you don’t.  See, your friend’s big mouth just got another thirty days tacked onto his sentence.  And, have I mentioned, we got a law against transients?”

“And what is your definition of a transient?”  Curry took a puff on his cigar and blew out the smoke.

“Someone sitting around and waiting, a lot like you’re doing right now.”  

“And how long before a visitor to your town becomes a transient?”

“How long have you been here?”  The sheriff glanced sideways towards Curry.

“About four days.”

“Five days.”  The sheriff stood up.  “We understand each other?”



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Early the next morning, Kid Curry checked out of the hotel with Heyes’ and his belongings and went to the livery.

“You want both horses?”

“Yep.”  The Kid took out some money.  “How much do I owe you?”

“That’s five dollars.”  The man scratched his head.  “Are you sure your friend wants you to take his horse?  What about when he gets outta jail?”

“You worry about carin’ for your other horses, and I’ll worry about my partner’s and mine.”



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Over a week later, Curry came back into town for supplies.  He was trail weary from searching the area around Red Bluff for where the labor camp might be.  The Kid was dirty and his face sported the beginning of a beard.

He went into the saloon and up to the bar.  “I’ll have a beer and…”  He looked up at the chalkboard sign on the wall.  “And the stew.”

“Comin’ right up!”

“I’ll be sittin’ over there.”  He pointed to a small alcove area almost hidden from the rest of the saloon.

While savoring his meal, Sheriff Harrison and another man sat just out of sight, on the other side of the partitioned wall.

“I need more men, Harrison!”

“I just gave you three not even a month ago.”

“Yeah, but I’m gonna have to release that pansy gambler.  He’s been useless, but at least he didn’t cause trouble.  I was able to add another 30 days to the cowpoke for arguing.  Smith tried escaping so I have him now for about three months.  Arrest some more!”

“I will when I see another drifter in town.”

“What we need is a cattle drive to go through town.”

“That’s not gonna happen any time soon.  I’ll watch for that friend of Smith’s.  Next time he comes to town, I’ll arrest him for something so he can join him.”  The sheriff stood up.  “I better get back to the office and you better get back to work, too.”

“I will after a quick game of poker.”



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Kid Curry inconspicuously left the saloon, bought a few supplies at the mercantile, and waited in the back alley of the bar for the man he observed arguing with the sheriff to leave.

An hour later, the tall dark burly man with a thick beard came out of the saloon, mounted his palomino, and rode out of town.

The Kid followed at an unobtrusive distance.

After several hours, the path led into the hills.  Curry slowed down and found a grove of trees to leave the horses.  He searched through Heyes’ saddlebag and found a spy glass.  Moving by foot, he made his way up the hill, staying off the path.  

He walked several miles when he heard noises below him – men were talking and the sound of pounding echoed.  Getting low to the ground, he came up to an edge and looked down on a box canyon with a cave.  There were two large cabins – one with windows and one without – a shed, and a corral for the horses.

The Kid lay flat and put the spy glass to his eye.  There were several armed men talking to the one who came from town.  A man came out of the cave dressed in stripes, barefoot, and pulling a cart full of rocks out to a pile.  He unloaded the rocks and went back into the mine.

Curry watched the operation of the place for several hours.  He started crawling down the ledge when he heard, “Hurry up, Smith!  Move it!”

He hurried back to the edge and put the glass up to his eye again.  He gasped when he saw the condition of his partner – filthy, bearded, barefoot, and shoulders stooped low.  Heyes appeared exhausted and his hands were bandaged, as were his feet.  He unloaded his wagon of rocks and disappeared into the mine.

The Kid sighed and hurriedly went down the path, arriving back to the horses as it became dusk.  He took their reins and walked a couple hundred yards to a creek.  He gathered wood for a fire, unloaded the horses, and hobbled them near water where grass grew.

As the evening hours passed, Curry became more agitated thinking about Heyes.  He paced around the fire and mumbled to himself.  “I gotta get Heyes outta there!  But how?!”

The Kid picked up his saddle bags and tipped them over, spilling all the contents on the ground.  He rummaged through the items and then emptied both of Heyes’ bags, looking for anything that might help him.

Curry stood and kicked an empty can of peaches, startling the horses.  He sat down by the fire dejectedly with his knees bent up and his head down, hands in his hair.  “I need a plan – a Hannibal Heyes plan.”

The Kid looked up and saw a piece of metal glittering in the firelight.  He reached over and picked up a star – a marshal’s badge that fell from Heyes’ bag.  He fingered the badge and began to smile.



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Two days later, Kid Curry rode into the mining camp, clean, bearded and sporting a shiny marshal’s badge on his vest.

Two men pointed rifles at him.  “Who are you?  What do you want?”

Curry put his hands up a few inches.  “Marshal Adams.  I’ve been on the trail of a notorious outlaw and it appears Sheriff Harrison arrested him a while back.  Told me where to find you and him.”

“One of our prisoners?”  Who?”

“He goes by the alias of Joshua Smith.”

The leader, the man who Curry saw in town came forward.  “Put your guns down.  Smith’s here.  Joe, go bring him out.”

One of the men hurried inside the cave.

“So who is Smith really?”

“He’s Jim Dewey – wanted for murder in Arizona.”  



* ~ * ~ * ~ *


Joe hurried into the mine to the place where two men were using picks on the walls and two others were shoveling the loose rocks in a cart.

“Smith!  Drop that pick and come over here now!”

Heyes put the pick down and walked over to the guard.

Joe grabbed him and began pushing him towards the entrance.  “Heard you’re a notorious outlaw!  There’s a marshal waitin’ for you outside.”

“A what?  There must be some mistake.”  Heyes stumbled.

“No mistake.”  Joe shoved him out into the bright sunny day.

Heyes closed his eyes to the blinding light.  He squinted and saw a man dismounting off his horse and coming towards him.

Marshal Adams grabbed Heyes by the arm and jerked him over to a waiting horse.  “Finally caught up with you, Jim Dewey, and I’m takin’ you back to Arizona.”

Heyes cocked his head as he heard the marshal.  “So who finally caught me?”

“Marshal Adams may be takin’ you back to Arizona, but us and Sheriff Harrison caught ya, Dewey!”  The leader boasted.  “I knew all along that you was an outlaw with your mouthiness and tryin’ to escape.”

“Give me the keys to these shackles!”  Marshal Adams held out his free hand.

“Are you sure you wanna remove ‘em?” the leader asked as he fished in his pocket for the key.

“Yeah, I have my own handcuffs and will tie his legs under the horse’s belly.  Had plenty of practice doin’ this.”

“I’ll do it so you can keep a strong arm on him.”  The leader removed the feet shackles and then the hand manacles.

“Okay, Dewey, hands behind your back.”  Adams took a pair of handcuffs out of a pocket.

“Behind me?” complained Heyes as he scowled at his partner.

“You heard me!”  The Kid snapped the cuffs into place.  “Maybe I should leave you here to finish out your sentence.”

“No, no, I’ll listen,” said a compliant Heyes.

“Now get on that mare.”  He roughly pushed Heyes over to his horse and up into the saddle.  “Can one of you keep a rifle on him while I tie him to the horse?”

“Sure thing, Marshal!”

Curry took a short length of rope out of a saddlebag and tied one end around one of Heyes’ blistered bare feet, looped it under the horse and tied the other end around the other ankle.

Kid Curry held out his hand.  “The state of Arizona and I wanna thank you for capturin’ Dewey.”

“Our pleasure – glad we could assist.”  The leader shook the marshal’s hand.

Curry mounted his horse, grabbed Heyes’ mare’s reins, and led them down the path.

“Behind my back, Sheriff Adams?” complained Heyes when they were out of earshot.

“That’s Marshal Adams.”



*  ~ * ~ *


Heyes and Kid Curry stole into the mine camp late at night.

“Heyes,” the Kid whispered.  “Of all the dangest ideas!”

“I want my stuff back!”  Heyes wore his partner’s clothes and held a bundle under his arm.

Curry’s gun came out as they neared the shed where prisoners’ belongings were stashed.  “Then hurry up!”

Heyes quietly opened the door and lit a match.  In the dim light, he saw the boxes of belongings.  Finding his clothes, he put on his hat and boots, buckled his gun belt around his waist and grabbed his clothes.

“What are you doin’?  Hurry up!”  Curry watched for any movement in the camp.

Before putting the box back, Heyes dropped the filthy striped prison uniform in it.  “I don’t wanna be accused of stealing their uniform.”

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

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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:54 pm

Black and white-striped, sweat-stained, manacled prisoners shuffled by outside the tall window of the warden’s office at the Wyoming Territorial Prison.  On their way back to their cells after a long day of splitting rock in the sunbaked yard, the inmates’ leg chains rattled creating ghoulish music as they passed.  Deep lines of fatigue etched every face and the air of desperation about them was nearly palpable.  


The unusual hot spell of ninety-plus degree days had taken its toll.  One of the prisoners stumbled to his knees and the response from the nearest guard was immediate.  Using his wooden baton, the guard flailed at the downed man while screaming at him to get up.  Exhausted, the defeated man could only cower with his arms shielding him as best they could before he fell to the ground and lay on his back, unmoving.  The guard’s arm dropped to his side and he turned away ordering the other men to pick him up and continue on.  The pained blue eyes of the fallen man opened slowly and stared beseechingly at the figure watching from the window.  


“There but for the grace of God, eh, Mr. Heyes?” said Warden Burke to his visitor peering out the window.  The blue-eyed man was roughly dragged away by the other prisoners.  Burke chuckled at his own witticism and rested his hands across his expansive stomach.


Rather than risk a curt response to the brutish man who had spoken, Heyes glanced at his partner occupying one of two chairs on the other side of the desk where the warden sat.  


Jed Curry imperceptibly shook his head then smiled at the warden and rose from his seat drawing the man’s attention away from baiting his partner.


“Well, Sir, thank you for your time, but I guess we should be gettin’ down to the mess hall and startin’ our talk.”


“What’s the hurry, Mr. Curry,” inquired Burke, “unless you’ve missed keeping company with thieves and brigands?”


The man’s snide manner was too much for Heyes.  He flushed red with anger and slammed one of his fists down on the oak desk.  “We’re emissaries of the Governor, Burke, or have you forgotten?  He’ll consider your behavior a personal insult.”


Delighted to have provoked a response, Burke stood and smiled at the infamous man before him.  “Do you think I give a damn what that pompous fool thinks?  He’s only sent you here to prove to his constituents he had a purpose in granting you amnesty.  You and I both know he’s committed political suicide by his actions and his influence will only last as long as the next appointment.  He may hold you both up as the stars of his amnesty program but, one of these days, you two will revert to your former ways and you’ll end up out there with the rest of the outlaw scum where you belong,” Burke nodded towards the window and added, “and I’ll be waiting for it.  Don’t let me keep you.  I am sure our guests are anxious to hear your words of wisdom.”


Curry’s icy blue eyes bore into his but Burke didn’t flinch.  He knew, as a lawman for the state of Wyoming, he had the upper hand.  Heyes and Curry lived their new lives under the scrutiny of every law officer in the country.  They deserved no less.


Storming out of the office, Heyes had difficultly reining in his temper and it took him almost the entire length of the prison hallway to control himself.  He and the Kid had been giving these motivational speeches for the past six months; ever since the amnesty had come through.  One of the terms the governor had insisted on was they make themselves available as shining examples of the power of redemption.  The governor was presenting himself as a reformer.  


Heyes hated holding himself up as a role model.  Both he and the Kid had only agreed to it because it got them what they wanted.  The amnesty.  If he was honest--which he wasn’t--he’d admit the only reason they’d given up stealing at all was the modern world was closing in on them.  If it weren’t for the advent of the telephone and the shrinking of the West, they’d still be at it.  


Sometimes, he wondered if they’d made the right choice.  Going for the amnesty had been hard enough, living a respectable life was proving nearly impossible.  Neither of them had found regular work.  The public had a real long memory and being forced to use their real names didn’t help much.  The governor threw odd jobs their way, but most of those were shady or downright dangerous.  They mostly scraped by on Heyes’ poker winnings or mountain lion and wolf bounties; that and their charm.


Thank goodness for Lom.  He’d stood by them all those years and, once the amnesty was made public, he’d had to endure a lot of criticism for his part in it.  Still, he’d gone the extra mile and offered them sanctuary in Porterville.  The good citizens hadn’t been happy, but Lom had persuaded them they owed the two famous outlaws a chance since they’d foiled a robbery--well, foiled Wheat’s robbery--at the town’s only bank.  It had cost him, too.  He’d almost been defeated in the last election; might be in the next.  Heyes was pretty damned sure Lom had let them stay so he could keep a close eye on them, but they needed all the help they could get.  


At least the ladies still loved them, although Miss Porter had decided she was no longer sweet on Jed now that she knew he was Kid Curry and the bank security job they’d held before the robbery had remained oddly vacant since they’d blown that fancy safe every which way to Hell.  


Fortunately for them, Porterville was stocked full of women who weren’t as discerning as the new Bank Manager.  He and the Kid might not make much money, but they ate like kings thanks to all those excellent cooks who love a rogue.  They were each real careful not to get involved with any one woman for fear of having to settle down and provide for a wife—something likely to result in work that was harder on the back than a handful of speeches.  Besides, they’d be cutting off the majority of their food supply.  It had worked out so far, but Heyes was pretty sure it wouldn’t last forever.   He was already working on a new plan.  He knew what they wanted, the trouble was figuring out how to get there.


Arriving at a bolted steel door, Heyes stopped and watched his partner coming down the lengthy corridor.  He’d been so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he hadn’t realized how far behind the Kid had been.  The guard escorting them tried to appear nonchalant while they waited, but Heyes could feel the man’s eyes sizing him up.  He let his brown eyes bore into the man’s hazel ones and, without words, dared him to cause trouble.  The man looked away and pretended to be occupied with opening the bolt.  


“You ready, partner?” asked Curry, arriving by his side.


Heyes nodded at his lifelong best friend.  The amnesty might not be perfect, but at least they were together.  They could still watch out for each other and live with some semblance of freedom.  “Ready as I’ll ever be.  Let’s get ‘er done.”


“You think we’ll help anyone today?”  Curry asked him that before every one of these talks.  


Heyes watched the door swing open and saw the sea of faces turn in their direction.  He smiled broadly, his dimples pronounced.  Speaking so softly only his partner could hear, he said, “Maybe, but…we’re definitely helping ourselves.  Ain’t that enough?”

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


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PostSubject: Re: July 16 - Stars and Stripes   Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:55 pm

Transitions

Lom Trevors entered the territorial governor’s outer office.  A cross breeze through open windows and transoms moved the air some, but not enough to make a difference – it still hung like a pall.  The lump in his throat played against the already too-tight necktie and cardboard collar; an index finger did not fit between the two, try as he might to insinuate the digit.  Of course, perspiration did not help matters, the moisture constricting things further.  A string tie on a regular collared shirt was one thing.  This dress-up for business in high political circles was not his norm, but attempting to move mountains required finesse, and appearance.  He smirked, rolling his eyes at a singular conclusion:  That he thought himself clad no better than a clown in the center ring, fit.  After all, political games were a circus, and here he was.  But, no game this.

He considered himself fortunate his office was an appointment; no small-town political machine to impress every couple of years.  His gruff, no-nonsense, rock-hard exterior kept the few bad ones at bay, and his town was peaceful, for the most part.  Faster than most, his quick draw warned away the odd wannabe, but more often it was the drunks or petty thieves who challenged his authority and found a cell at the local pokey with their names on it.  Dried out or having served the sentence doled out by the local magistrate, they left the jail behind and hopefully learned a lesson, although a few were regulars.

That toughness belied a heart, or perhaps he was just stupid to put himself in this position.  He could not be sure, of course, but they did seem sincere.  Amnesty?  For two wanted dead or alive?  But then, why dead or alive?  Thievery should not carry such a sentence, but notorious men played a dangerous game.  And their adversaries responded in kind.  Yes, Heyes was right.  This newfangled technology moved at lightning speed, outpacing even the best, and they knew it.  Sooner or later, someone would catch up with them, someone who could outgun even Kid Curry.  But, they were affable enough, charming even, former colleagues of his.  And he had let them talk him into this.

So he had taken the train to Cheyenne, a bag packed with his one suit and the uncomfortable accouterment that went with it.   He had a lot to lose, but so did the bank corporations and train conglomerates if those he might call friends were not stopped.  So here he was.  Whether he was on a fool’s errand, he knew not, but the first audience with the governor had gone better than expected.  He presented his – their – case.  The governor smirked, laughed, quieted.  The furrows on his brow gave away his thought process.  Lom sat quietly, not knowing what to expect.  

“Interesting they contacted you, Sheriff, but good that they did.  There might be something here.  Let me give this some thought.  I’ll be in touch.”

Lom had stood, momentarily dumbfounded.  His words came hurriedly, “Yes, sir.  Thank, thank you, sir.”  His hat in hand, he had almost tripped over his own feet on the way out.  Straightening, he made his way to his hotel, and waited.

And here he was, the call-back.  Another of the stuffed shirts who seemed so similar bade him enter.  Again, the governor stood to greet him, handshakes less tentative the second-time round.  They sat.

The governor waited until they were alone and the door closed before he spoke.  “Sheriff, I’ve given this matter much thought.  Of course, it’s an unusual proposition.  The amnesty offer was intended for common criminals of the small-time variety – chicken thieves and the like.  That it might attract the likes of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry never crossed our minds.  But, why not?  It was meant for the common good, and getting those two off their thieving path can only help the common good.  However, I don’t feel I can just sally forth and grant them full amnesty outright.  They need to earn it.”

Lom blinked.  One eye narrowing, his expression tentative, he sat straighter.  “Earn it, sir?”

“Yes.  I propose to grant them provisional amnesty.  They’ll have to stay out of trouble for a time – say, a year or so.  If they do, we can revisit the issue at that future time.”  The governor grabbed a sheet of paper.  Dipping his pen in the well, he spoke as he wrote, “Heyes and Curry … provisional amnesty … there, all done.”  He replaced the pen in its holder and lightly blotted the sheet.  Satisfied, he looked it over before handing it to Lom.

The sheriff read.  Looking up, he saw the governor was about to speak.

“Please express my congratulations to Messrs. Heyes and Curry, Sheriff.  You pled their case admirably well.  They owe you.  As well, make sure they know the terms and conditions.”

“I will, sir.”  Lom folded the paper carefully on the edge of the desk.  Brow furrowed, he unfolded it, re-read it.  He regarded the governor.  “Sir, this says nothing about the bounties being lifted.  They’ll still be wanted?”

“That’s right.  As I said, they’ll have to earn it.  What kind of reaction do you think I’d get if I announced amnesty or a full pardon for those two?  Heyes and Curry?  Political expediency and all that.  I’m sure you understand, Sheriff.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Let the world forget Heyes and Curry ever existed.  Let the public be spared their crimes.  Let the good citizens of Wyoming Territory …”  The governor swept his arm toward the Stars and Stripes on the wall behind his desk, “… Yay, all the good citizens of this great country, be spared their evil exploits.  That will be doing us all, far and wide, a great service.”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, yes, they’ll still be wanted.  It’s up to them to disappear and trod the straight and narrow.  That’s the proviso.  And it’s only because they’ve never shot anyone in the commission of their crimes.  Hard to believe, but I’m taking your word for it, Sheriff Trevors.  And thanking you for even broaching the subject.  We’ll all breathe easier.  The perfect means to a desired end.  It’s brilliant, really.  ”

“Thank you, sir.”

The governor stood.  Lom scrambled to his feet.  

“Now, deliver the message to your charges.  The sooner they know, the sooner their thievery stops, or at least I hope it does.  I’m putting a lot of faith in you, Sheriff.”

Lom stood stone-faced.

“Make sure they know it’s your reputation on the line.”

Sheriff Trevors nodded.  He knew that too well.  Reaching his arm across the desk, he shook hands with the governor.  “Thank you, sir.”  

The governor nodded.  Lom turned.

“Oh, one last thing, Sheriff.”

Lom stopped, facing the governor once again.

“This is just between you, me, and them.  No one else is to know.”

“Yes, sir.”

The governor nodded leave.

Lom exited the inner office, letting lose a breath.  He had not realized he held it.

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