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 Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...

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Calico

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PostSubject: Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...   Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:25 am

Hello all!!

Everyone feeling creative?
Panting for your next challenge?
Good, good.

I'm giving you a nice easy one.
Let the plotting and scheming - or the tear jerking - begin on;

Safely gathered in

cowboyclap cowboyclap cowboyclap
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RosieAnnie

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Location : The Comfy Chair

PostSubject: Re: Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...   Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:23 am

Jed Curry rubbed frost off the windowpane with his gloved hand.

“How's the weather?” Hannibal Heyes asked.

“There's frost, but no snow.”

“Strangest autumn I ever seen. It's almost Thanksgiving, and there's no snow. It ain't natural.”

“Don't complain. It'll be here soon enough, and we'll be stuck here at Devil's Hole till the spring thaw.”

“Ain't that the idea, Kid? That we'd be safe and sound here, where no lawman can take us?”

Curry turned away from the window. Heyes wore his hat and heavy blue coat and was pulling on his leather gloves.

“Yeah, I guess so.” He reached for the sheepskin coat hanging on a peg by the door. “And, like I told you before when we were talking about wintering here, I could use some peace and quiet for a change.”

“Glad to hear you're not reconsidering.”

“I'm not. Especially since you're not doing the cooking.”

“Kid! I'm hurt. Partners all these years, and now I find out you don't like my cooking?”

“Your cooking ain't so bad as your coffee. Lucky for both of us that a better cook than you wanted to winter here with us.”

“And speaking of that,” Heyes said, opening the heavy door, “let's head over to the bunkhouse before breakfast gets cold.”

000000

Smoke pumped from the bunkhouse chimney, sending the smell of bacon throughout the clearing. The men quickened their pace, stomachs rumbling. They were greeted at the door by a tall thin man wearing a stained canvas apron.

“About time you two got here! I was beginning to think I'd have to eat this all on my own.”

“Now, Preacher,” Curry said, taking off his coat and draping it on the back of a chair, “you know we don't make any member of the gang do something that we wouldn't do.”

“Absolutely not,” Heyes agreed. He sat down at the table and unbuckled his heavy coat. The warmth emanating from the big cast iron stove made the room almost hot.

“I knew I could depend on you.” Preacher gestured towards the covered plates on the table. “We got bacon, flapjacks with jam, and baking powder biscuits. Help yourselves. After we say grace, of course.” Hands halfway extended towards the plates froze in mid-air.

“Of course,” Curry agreed, glancing sideways at Heyes. “Go right ahead.”

“Lord, we thank thee for thy continued blessings of abundance and for shelter from the storm. I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. For all that we receive, we are truly grateful. Amen.” He reached over and removed the covers from the plates, allowing steam and a wicked good aroma to rise into the air. “Now we can eat.”

Half an hour later, the three men had finished their hearty breakfasts and were lingering at the table, drinking coffee and digesting.

“Preacher, I don't know who changed your mind about spending winter in Texas, but I'm mighty grateful to him, whoever he was.”

“Texas was too full of Texas Rangers, shootin' people for no good reason. Just didn't feel safe without the gang and you two to watch my back. I knew that Heyes'd lay in enough supplies for five winters. So I decided I'd join you, spend my time in contemplation and prayer.” He grinned. “And I figured you wouldn't mind if I did the cooking, especially with Thanksgiving coming up.”

“Thanksgiving feels funny with only us around,” Curry complained. “I kind of wish we had more folks here to celebrate.”

“Me too,” Preacher agreed. “I enjoy cooking for a crowd, and we got more than enough provisions. But just knowing the three of us are safely gathered here together is reason to give thanks.”

“True enough,” Heyes said, draining his cup. He stood and stretched his back. “Well, we better get going. Me and Kid thought we'd take a ride around the property, check up on everything while this weather holds.”

Preacher started to clear the dishes.

“It is the strangest winter I ever seen here, that's for sure. Feels like I brought Texas weather up here with me.”

“Just as long as you didn't bring any of those Texas rangers” Curry said. “'Sides, I don't think this weather's gonna hold much longer. The sky looks like a snow sky.”

“Better be extra careful. Don't ride out too far, or you could get caught in a blizzard. You know how fast the weather can change.”

“You contemplate dinner while we're gone,” Heyes told him. “We'll be back safe and sound before you know it.”

00000

The November sun was warm as they rode the trail away from the waterfall and familiar cabins, across the high country that provided a clear view of the surrounding territory. There was a sharpness to the air that kept Curry watchful and quiet. There was no need for him to say much anyway, since Heyes kept up a running commentary on the color of the aspens, the sound of the elks rutting in the distance, the huge amount of supplies they had stocked in the storehouse, why Mark Twain was talking too long writing his next book, the funny things a shopkeeper in Sheridan said, why General Grant should run for President, and such. Heyes tended to ramble on when he felt relaxed. Since he didn't need to do more than insert a comment like “you don't say?” or “how about that” or “I guess so” when Heyes took a breath, he was able to turn his attention to his own thoughts. Riding casually like this through the Wyoming uplands felt real nice. Too often, being on horseback meant riding hell bent for leather to outrun a posse. It was good to be outdoors. He was so lost in the pleasant mindless ride that he almost missed the unusual sound.

“Heyes! Wait up!”

Heyes pulled up on his reins and turned around in his saddle, blinking in surprise.

“What is it?”

Curry held up one hand. “I heard something.”

Both men strained to hear, their relaxed moods changed into alertness. The only sound was the wind blowing through the aspens, shaking the dry leaves down.

“What did you hear?”

“Voices.”

Heyes knew better than to question his partner's acute hearing. It had saved their lives on more than one occasion.

“Where?” Curry pointed down, towards what passed for a trail. They turned their horses towards the sound. As they descended, they heard voices, both male and female. It was bad to have unexpected visitors, but if some of those visitors were women, they probably weren't bounty hunters or a posse. More curious than concerned, they came to a stand of trees that overlooked the trail. They saw a covered wagon below perched at an awkward angle, as if a wheel was missing. Two women wrapped in heavy shawls stood with crossed arms, watching three men who knelt on the ground, working on some sort of repair. Four horses were tied up nearby, nuzzling the ground for forage.

“What do you think, Kid?”

“I think it's getting colder. And it's starting to snow.”

Heyes tilted his head back and sniffed the air. A few snowflakes fell on his upturned face.

“Yeah. But I was talking about those folks. They look like settlers.”

“What're settlers doing out here in November? Don't they know they shouldn't be traveling in Wyoming this time of year?”

“Maybe they never heard of what happened to the Donner party.”

“Everyone's heard what happened to the Donner party.”

“You'd think so, wouldn't you? So why are they here?”

“Only one way to find out. Let's talk to them.” Snowflakes floated down, whitening the dark ground for a moment before melting away. They heard the settlers' tense voices more clearly the closer they got.

“Hello there!” Curry shouted. He held the reins with his left hand and kept his right hand close to his gun. Beside him, Heyes cradled his rifle across his lap. Neither smiled.

The settlers were almost too shocked to move. One man jumped up, but stopped when Heyes pointed his rifle.

“Keep your hands where we can see them. Don't even think about going for a gun.”

“Who are you?” a woman shouted. “What are you doing out here in this godforsaken country?”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a quick, amused glance.

“That's a real good question, ma'am,” Curry said. “Maybe you folks can answer that one for us. Why don't you fellas come around in front of that wagon, slow-like, and keep your hands where we can see 'em. No sudden moves. My friend here don't like surprises.” They spurred their horses to get closer.

“We are surprised, too,” a tall man answered. “We didn't expect to be see anyone, especially someone pointing a gun at us.”

“You shouldn't be here,” Heyes told him. “Devil's Hole is outlaw country. There are lots of men who point guns.”

Curry eased off his horse. He walked cautiously towards the group while Heyes stayed mounted, rifle at the ready.

“Maybe you'd like to tell us who you are and why you're here.”

An older, bearded man stepped in front of the group.

“I'm Tom Hutchins, here with my sons Richard and Thomas, and their wives Anna and Margaret. We're from Indianapolis, on our way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. We're going to live with my brother there. And who might you be?”

“You're an awful long way from Indianapolis and Oregon,” Curry said, ignoring the question. “No sensible person is on the road in Wyoming in winter. Why are you here?”

The three men looked sheepishly at each other and at the ground.

“We got a late start from Indiana and had other problems along the way. A man we met in Dakota Territory offered to guide us through a short cut that'd get us to Oregon faster. He ran out on us after he tried to rob us and found out we had no money. We've been following his directions.”

“Are you crazy? Didn't you ever hear about what happened to the Donner party when they took a shortcut someone told them about? You could be stranded in these mountains till spring.”

One of the women pulled her heavy shawl more tightly around her. “We are stranded now, aren't we? The snow is getting heavier, and we are broke and out of food.”

Heyes slung the rifle over his shoulder and dismounted. He walked over to the broken wheel and knelt down to inspect it. The group watched him nervously.

“You aren't going anywhere with this wagon. Axle's sheared off. You'd need a blacksmith to fix this, and the closest one's in Laramie.”

“Is that far?”

“Mrs. Hutchins, you really are lost, aren't you? Laramie's a day's ride away. This storm is only going to get worse. You'd never make it.”

“What other choice do we have?” Tom Hutchins asked, wringing his hands. “We can't stay here. We have to find shelter.”

Heyes knew what was coming. He saw the thought cross Curry's face, and he knew what Curry would say. It was a terrible idea that could escalate into disaster. But for all his ability to think fast and talk faster, he couldn't come up with the words or the will to prevent it.

“You do have another choice,” he heard Curry say. “You can come with us. We've got a safe place where you can wait out the storm, and we got plenty of provisions.”

Hope, fear, and anxiety played across the settlers' faces. They looked at each other, looked at the dark clouds shedding thick snowflakes, the wagon listing uselessly to one side, and at the strange men who'd ridden up unexpectedly, pointing guns at them.

“I'm sorry,” the younger woman said. “We don't know you. We don't even know your names. We could be in more danger if we go with you.“

“That's right, you don't know our names. But you're wrong about being in more danger with us. I don't want to frighten you – then again, maybe I should.” Curry's voice was hard now. “You're unprepared for winter in Wyoming. If you stay here, you'll die of cold or hunger.”

“Why should we trust you?” the old man said. “We trusted another stranger, and he left us to die in this country.”

“We're offering you life,” Heyes said, coming around to stand face to face with him. “You said you don't have any money, so I can't rob you. But you got to decide right now. We still got to ride up this here mountain to our cabins, and you don't have time to pack more than you can carry on your backs. What's your pleasure?”

“We need more time to think this over,” Hutchins insisted.

“That's fine,” Heyes said. He pulled his pocket watch out from underneath his coat. “Take five minutes. Then my friend and I leave, whether or not you come with us, because we sure as hell don't intend to die here with you. What's your pleasure?”

00000

By late afternoon, the man called Preacher had almost worn a path of worry on the wooden floorboards along the windows. The snow that started gently at mid-day had turned into a full-scale blizzard. Gusty winds blew the piles of white into drifts that stacked against the buildings, and there was still no sign of Heyes and Curry.

Sighing heavily, he sank down into the rocker and opened his Bible again. It was no use; he stared at the page, but he was too worried to read. He tucked the book under his arm and got up to pace again. Where were they? What should he do? Heading out in this weather was unthinkable. What if the boys were hurt and hoping he would rescue them? Shouldn't he at least try? He'd promised to watch their backs. Was this the time to prove it? He opened the Bible again, hoping it would provide an answer, but it opened to Leviticus talking about slavery. No help there. He slammed the book closed again. What should he do?

He spun around at the sound of the door slamming against the wall. Snow blew in on a heavy gust. Kid Curry appeared, head bowed down.

“Praise the Lord! I was so worried! Are you alright?” He rushed over and hugged Curry in his relief. Curry gave him a brief hug in return, then pushed him away gently.

“We're alright, Preacher. Sorry to worry you. We got waylaid.”

“Waylaid! By what?”

“Not by what,” Curry corrected. “By who.” He stood aside to hold the door open. To Preacher's amazement, two men and two women stumbled in. Curry had to push the door hard to close it against the gale while the strangers sank, exhausted, into chairs.

Preacher was too surprised to ask anything. He turned towards Curry with his mouth hanging open in shock.

Curry took off his snow-covered hat and hit it against the wall, dislodging melting droplets of snow onto the floor.
6

“Didn't you say you wanted more company, Preacher? Me and Heyes done brought you some.”

“Where's Heyes?”

“Stabling the horses. There's one more guest helping him. We got four guest horses as well as five people.”

“Where . . . how. . .”

“Did these folks come from? Does it matter? Like you said at grace this morning, they're strangers, and we're taking them in.”

“Did he really say that?” Tom Hutchins wondered. “The Lord does work in mysterious ways.” He wearily took off his heavy outerwear, letting it fall into the wet floorboards. The others had taken off their coats, but were too exhausted to do more than rest their heads on the table.

“How about firing up that stove?” Curry said. “We're all hungry and just about done in.”

When Heyes and Thomas came in half an hour later, they saw wet clothes hanging from wall pegs, sending steam into the warm air as they dried. The Hutchinsons and Curry, all wrapped in blankets pulled off the bunks, were sipping coffee and digging into venison stew.

“Plenty food for everyone,” Preacher announced. “Lucky I made so much, since I wasn't expecting guests.”

“Weren't you?” Heyes asked. He blew his nose hard into his bandanna. “Looks like you cooked for a crowd.”

“We prayed the Lord would safely gather us in, though we thought that would happen in Oregon,” Anna said, “And then we prayed for shelter from the storm. Prayers are always answered, though not always in the way we expect.”

“We surely weren't expecting such hospitality,” her sister said.

“The good book says 'do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels unawares,” Preacher said. “We only follow His law.”

“I think you men are the angels,” she said, “not us. Only angels would take in strangers as you've done.”

Heyes hid a smile behind his hand. “Well, I don't rightly know if you can call us angels, ma'am. Here in the west, we got a tradition of hospitality. We watch each others' backs. I'm sure you'd do the same for us, if our circumstances were reversed.

“Anyway,” he went on, “my partner was just saying this morning he wished there was more of us gathered together for Thanksgiving.” He smiled fondly at Curry, who blushed bright red. “Looks like his prayer was answered, too.”

“I don't exactly know if that was a prayer,” Curry said to his folded hands, uncomfortable with everyone looking at him. “Just . . . Thanksgiving's about friends and family gathering together. Don't seem like a proper holiday without a crowd.”

“Seems like a lot of prayers were answered today,” Preacher said thoughtfully. “Listen to that wind howl outside. And here we are, safe and warm and fed. We truly have reason to offer thanks together this Thanksgiving holiday.”

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

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PostSubject: Re: Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...   Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:06 am

I found this challenge quite hard so here is a silly little story, which was the best I could do. I took a liberty though – see historical note at the end. No reason why an enterprising storekeeper might not have had a similar idea a few years before!







Safely Gathered In


Heyes and Curry were enjoying a drink in a saloon when they found their quiet contemplation of their beer interrupted.


“Boys!”


The Kid looked across at Heyes, in horror. “Is that …?”


Heyes shuddered and nodded. He put his hand over his mouth and winced as he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Another hand touched the Kid’s shoulder.


“I’ve been hoping to run into you. I’ve got just the job for you two.”


“Hallo Harry,” the Kid sighed as Harry Briscoe took the seat opposite.


Heyes nodded a false smile at him and then breathed in deeply through his teeth.


“What you two doing here?”


“Having a beer.” Heyes rolled his eyes. “A QUIET beer.”


“No I mean what are you doing here in Prime Town?”


“Just passing through, Harry. We just stopped to have ourselves a beer and then we’ll be moving on.” The Kid was implying that he and Heyes had somewhere else to be. They didn’t but best to try to convince Harry that they did.


Harry leaned forward and motioned for them to do the same. They looked at each other but neither moved. Harry had to motion furiously again. Heyes sighed and leaned in, the Kid too.


“I’ve got a job for you,” Harry said, conspiratorially, looking around furtively.


“No thanks!” Heyes was firm.


Harry looked disgruntled. “You don’t know what it is yet.” He chewed the ever-present cigar furiously.


“We don’t need to Harry,” the Kid, sighed. “If it’s a job for you …”


“Is that anyway to talk to a friend?” Harry demanded.


“You ain’t a friend!” Heyes was still firm.


“’Course I is. You’ve helped me out, I’ve helped you out. That’s what friends do.”


Heyes looked around shaking his head.


“Now see here, Heyes …” Heyes turned his full glare on him. Harry had heard how intimidating the Hannibal Heyes glare was and it was no exaggeration. He swallowed nervously. “This time by helping me you could be helping yourselves.” He sat back, looking smug, although he still eyed Heyes warily.


The Kid glanced at Heyes, who was looking around shaking his head. The Kid sighed.


“What is it Harry?”


Harry leaned in again. “Coupons,” he whispered.


“Coupons?” the Kid repeated. He looked incredulous. “What sort of coupons?”


“Money off coupons.”


The Kid glanced at Heyes who had turned back and was frowning. The Kid motioned for Harry to continue some more.


“There’s a certain storekeeper here in town who has come up with the idea of giving out coupons for money off if a customer spends $20. It’s called marketing.” He could see they both looked doubtful but decided to press on anyway. “Had all the coupons printed and distributed here in town. In last week’s newspaper. Trouble is the value on the coupon was wrong. Instead of $2 off, it was printed as $20 off. He’d be giving the stuff away for free!”


Heyes pursed his lips and nodded. He could see the problem.


“They need collecting up before too many are cashed. That’s why he contacted the George Bannerman Detective Agency. ‘Cos no job is too big or too small. I’ve been entrusted.” Harry smiled proudly.


Heyes finished his beer and scrapped his chair back. “Good luck with that then Harry. Come on Kid. We’d better get moving if we wanna make Canyon City ‘afore nightfall.”


The Kid got up.


“Now looky here boys. I ain’t finished telling you what’s in it for you!”


Heyes stopped but didn’t look back. He hooked his thumbs in his belt and licked his lips. The Kid looked back and pointing with his hat said, “Harry, there’s nothing in it for us.”


“Yes there is. Jus’ … Jus’ come back and sit down. There’s something real interesting in it for you.” He chewed his cigar furiously.


The Kid looked at Heyes to make the decision. Heyes picked out his pocket watch and opened it. He sighed and putting it away, he turned. “You’ve got five minutes.”


The Kid glared at him as though Heyes had lost his mind. Listening to one of Harry’s little jobs usually spelled trouble. With a capital Trou!


The boys sat back down. “Start talking Harry. You’ve only got five minutes.” Heyes sat back with his arms folded. He rolled his eyes and sighed when Harry motioned him forward again.


“The storekeeper just so happens to be a personal friend of the Governor of Wyoming. Now as I understand it you have some unfinished business with the Governor.” He paused for a reaction but there wasn’t one. He looked from one to the other and saw he would have to continue further. “Now if the Governor gets to hear that a certain Mr Smith and a certain Mr Jones helped out his very good friend then he er …” Harry looked at them again. “Might look closer at that unfinished business,” he finished, slowly.


The Kid looked at Heyes who just rolled his eyes. Then he turned back to Harry.


“How do we know the storekeeper is a personal friend of the Governor?”


Harry sat back. “You have my word,” he said, firmly. He looked from one to the other, chewing his cigar furiously. He sat forward again. “What! You don’t believe me?” He seemed incredulous. “You think I, Harry Bartholomew Briscoe, would con you?”


Heyes smacked his lips. “Yep.”


Harry still looked disgruntled. More furious chewing. “Well I ain’t!” he said, finally. “Now hear me out fellas.”


Heyes and Curry looked at each other. The Kid raised his eyebrows at Heyes. He knew Harry irritated Heyes but he was more willing to listen. Heyes motioned with his hand and looked away. It was up to the Kid.


“Heyes said five minutes. It ain’t up yet,” the Kid said.


Harry glared at Heyes doubtfully but leant in again. “There were fifty coupons printed, two have been collected on. That’s how he knew there was something wrong. The storekeeper was obliged to honour what was printed on the coupon. That means there’s forty-eight still out there! If he has to honour all of them, he’ll suffer financially! That ain’t what he wanted at all.”


Harry paused and looked from one to the other again. Heyes nodded and the Kid rubbed his chin. They could see the problem.


“Someone.” Harry stabbed his finger on the table. “Is gonna have go round and collect ‘em all up.”


Heyes was still nodding. “Yep. I can see that. Someone has.”


“Only the folks who have ‘em mustn’t suspect. They mustn’t look at the coupons too closely. Otherwise he’d lose face and he don’t want that,” Harry winced. He swallowed nervously.


Heyes and Curry shook their heads. Heyes looked pointedly at the Kid. He was leaving this one up to him. The Kid glared back and then looked back at Harry.


“Can we talk about this? In private?”


“Oh yeah sure. I’ll go get me a beer.”


Harry got up and left them.


As soon as they were alone Heyes turned to the Kid. “You ain’t seriously considering this!” He was wide-eyed.


“Heyes do you wanna get back on a horse right now after the ride we’ve just had?”


Heyes considered. “No, I guess I don’t,” he agreed, quietly.


“And like Harry says there might be something in it for us. How can it hurt?”


“Oh, I’ll be reminding you of that!” Heyes growled, glaring at him. “When we’re sitting in a jail cell!”


An uncomfortable silence ensued.


Finally, Heyes sighed. “’Course Harry may be right … Just not in the way he means.” Heyes took a sip of his beer and looked away.


The Kid frowned. “What d’you mean Heyes?”


Heyes was looking around wildly and he sniffed. “Well maybe we could take advantage of the situation for … ourselves, mebbe?” He pursed his lips.


The Kid looked at him in horror. “Heyes! Ain’t it you that’s always telling me about temptation?!”


“I know Kid,” Heyes said, quickly. “Forget it.”


The Kid glared at Heyes doubtfully.


A little while later Harry was back.


“Well have you had time to think?” he asked, eagerly, retaking his seat.


The Kid looked at Heyes, who just looked away.


“Harry, the reason we’re in Prime Town right now is ‘cos we had to leave Harris. In a hurry. With a posse on our trail. Now we think we’ve lost ‘em but the last thing we want right now is a suspicious sheriff looking at us. D’you understand me?”


Harry broke into a broad grin. “But boys it’s okay! The sheriff here in town knows why I’m here and what I’m doing. He knows that I’ll need to engage some help.”


He looked from one to the other and they still looked doubtful.


“Look I’ve got official identification and everything!”


He dug into his jacket pocket. On the table, he lay three election campaign rosettes. The inside disc where it would have said, “Vote for Fred” was now covered in paper. On which was now scrawled the words “Official Collector”.


Heyes put his hands over his eyes and shook his head in despair.


“And you take these here pins…” Harry dropped some pins on the table and picked one up. “And you pin it on like this.” He pinned one of the rosettes to his jacket and grinned. “What do you think?”


Heyes had spread his fingers so he could peek but his hands still covered his eyes. He shook his head. The Kid was smacking his lips as he tried to stop the laugh that was bubbling up.


Heyes picked up his hat and scrapped back his chair. “I think you’ve got a lot of walking to do, Harry. See ya.” He rolled his eyes and started to walk away, the Kid on his tail.


“I’ll pay you!”


Heyes and Curry stopped and looked at each other. They had less than five dollars between them. In unison, they sighed and returned to sit down.


“How much?” Heyes demanded.


Harry looked at them trying to decide. “Fifty dollars,” he spat.


“Each?” the Kid, clarified.


Harry chewed the cigar. “Thirty dollars each,” he offered.


Heyes shuddered. They could use the money. He sighed. “Okay. What do these coupons look like?”


Harry grinned and reached into his jacket pocket again. He brought out a pile of coupons, pulling off the top two. “These are what they look like and these …” He patted the remaining pile. “… are the ones you replace ‘em with.”


Heyes gave an irritated sigh and took a dud coupon and some of the replacements. “Alright. Kid, I’ll start at one end of the town, you at the other.”


He started to walk away.


“Hey!”


Heyes looked back.


“You’ve forgotten your identification.”


Heyes growled and slapped a rosette up.


“I ain’t wearing it!” he muttered, walking away.


The Kid grinned at Harry and collected up his.


------------------------------------------------------


Heyes knocked on the door. When the lady of the house opened it, he smiled his best smile. The one with the dimples.


“Sorry to bother you ma’am but would you happen to have one of these.” He showed her the dud coupon. He deliberately kept his thumb over the amount. “They were inside last week’s newspaper.”


“Why yes, I believe I do.” She frowned unsure why he was asking.


“Well there was a printing error and the store owner can’t accept them. But he’s printed some more correctly this time so you don’t lose out on his generous offer. I just need to swop them out for you,” he purred. He was smiling again.


The lady smiled coyly at him. “Well I’ll just go and see if I can find it for you.”


“Thank you ma’am.”


Heyes sighed and looked around as he waited. She was soon back.


“Here you are,” she beamed, handing him the dud. He whisked it away quickly.


“Thank you ma’am. And here’s your replacement.”


He touched his hat, smiled and walked away. When he was out of sight, he rubbed his chin.  He had only been to ten doors so far and already his chin was beginning to ache with all the smiling.


------------------------------------------------------


The Mayor’s wife opened the door and smiled at the handsome blue-eyed man she found there. “Hallo. May I help?”


“Yes ma’am you might be able to. I’m collecting these …” The Kid showed her the dud coupon. “… and issuing replacements. There was a printing error.”


“Oh, I think I have one of those. Would you …. like to come in while I see if I can find it?”


“Oh no ma’am.” The Kid shook his head. He had already found out twice now that entering the house was NOT the way to go. He was still shaking from the experiences. Ladies of the house could be a tricky species. “I’ll wait right here.”


She nodded disappointed and went away. She returned with the coupon and the Kid swopped it.


He walked away thinking he should have negotiated more. This was dangerous work!


------------------------------------------------------


Heyes was the first to return to the saloon and Harry. He slapped his pile down. “There!”


Harry pulled the pile towards him and counted.


“Twenty, twenty one, twenty two.” He looked at Heyes and nodded. “Very good.”


“Here’s the original.” Heyes scowled. “And your identification. Which I didn’t need by the way.”


“Twenty three,” Harry murmured as the Kid walked up. He sat next to Heyes and produced his own pile. He had worn his identification and he plucked it off his vest now and threw it at Harry.


They looked at each other as Harry counted.


“Twenty five, twenty six. That’s …” He looked in the air as he thought, his lips moving faintly.


“Forty nine!” Heyes snapped.


“Then there’s one missing!” Harry panicked. Until he saw the missing one between the Kid’s fingers. He went to take it but the Kid pulled it back.


“Uh, uh, uh! Sixty dollars, Harry. That’s what you said. Thirty each.”


Heyes raised an eyebrow, smiling pleasantly.


Harry frowned and muttering under his breath reached for his wallet. He counted out six bills pushing three each in their direction. Only then did the Kid release the last coupon.


Harry put the last one on top of the pile. He smiled at them. “Well done boys. Safely gathered in.”


------------------------------------------------------


Historical Note:


The first documented use of coupons was in 1887, when Coca Cola issued a coupon for a free glass of its new soft drink.
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...   Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:03 am

Safe-ly gathered in
By Maz McCoy


“Well, gentlemen, there it is $50,000.” Marcus Guinn, manager of the Forbes bank, waved a hand at the piles and piles of money sitting temptingly on his desk.

In front of him selected members of his staff, the town Mayor and several senior town figures looked on in awe. They supressed the urge to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the sight of all that cash.

“Aren’t you worried about bank robbers?” Mayor Johnson asked as he stood, hands planted on hips, near the barred window.

“No sir,” Guinn assured him. “The Forbes bank has just installed the best safe money can buy. That’s why I called you gentlemen here. Not just to show you this money, which will of course be on its way in the morning, but to show you the safe it’ll spend the night in.”

He turned to the two men standing either side of the desk. Each man had a six gun on his hip and cradled a rifle across his chest. They both sported a moustache and had perfected a don’t-mess-with-me stare.

“This is Mister Dixon and Mister Royce, from the Bannerman Detective Agency. Gentlemen, if you’ll be so kind as to bag up the money.”

The men did as they were asked, stacking the piles of notes into a strong box. The others in the room watched as the box was filled, the lid closed and a sturdy padlock snapped tight around the clasp.

“Now if you gentlemen will follow me…” Guinn led the way out of his office. Dixon and Royce followed, carrying the strong box between them. The others trailed along behind, whispering excitedly about the money, the men guarding it and the safe they were about to see.

In the main area of the bank, behind the tellers’ counter, stood a metal cage reminiscent of a jail cell. Guinn unlocked the cage and stepped inside. Dixon and Royce followed with the box. At the back of the cage stood the safe Guinn was so proud of. He placed his hand on the dial, made sure his body hid it from the view of others and a moment later turned the handle and opened the safe. Dixon and Royce placed the strong box inside and Guinn shut the door. The bank manager spun the dial with just a hint of showmanship and then followed Dixon and Royce out of the cage. Finally he locked it and turned to face the small crowd.

“I have shown you this.” He waved a hand at the cage and the safe within. “To reassure you that at Forbes we take the security of your money very seriously. That $50,000 is the payroll for the Leadminster Mine. If they trust us with their payroll gentlemen, then I hope you will continue to trust us with your business.”

He smiled and on cue the bank staff began to applaud. Not wishing to seem impolite the other men joined in. Marcus Guinn smiled and feigned humble-embarrassment when in fact he was extremely pleased with himself for a job well done.


***

Hannibal Heyes peeled off the fake moustache that had been driving him crazy for the past two days. He threw it in a nearby bush then rubbed his top lip to remove the last of the glue.

Sitting beside him on his horse, Kid Curry remained, moustached.

Heyes looked across at his friend. “Please, tell me you are not keeping that thing.”

Kid rubbed a couple of fingers over the fuzzy attachment. “I kinda like it.”

Heyes scoffed but said no more on the subject. He rubbed his hands together against the cold evening chill as they waited near a rocky outcrop for the rest of the Devil’s Hole Gang to arrive.

“You sure you can open that safe, Heyes?” Kid asked.

Hannibal Heyes shot him a look. “I’m a little hurt by your lack of confidence in me, Kid.”

“I’m only askin’ because I don’t understand why you wouldn’t let us take it this afternoon. Heck we had our hands on $50,000.”

“I told you, Kid, all of those men were armed. It would only have taken one of them to try to be a hero and we’d be branded murderers before we knew it. This way no one got hurt and we’ll still get the money.”

“Well, I still think it would be easier to hit the stagecoach that’s carrying the money to the mine, than rob the bank.”

“And that’s why I’m the leader and you’re…”

Two blue eyes narrowed and he leaned forward, to rest his arms in the saddle horn. “I’m what?”

Heyes took a moment to consider his answer. “An equally essential part of the team.”

Kid smiled. “Just you remember that.”

“I do, Kid, I do,” his friend assured him. “Everyone will be expecting the stage to be hit. They already have more Bannermen men arriving on the train. That stagecoach will be too well protected. It’d be suicide to try and rob it. But we were lucky to run into Dixon and Royce on the trail coming here. If we hadn’t I’d have never got a look at that safe.”

“And you really think you can open it?”

“It has a dial, Kid; of course I can open it.”

“It has $50,000 inside so you’d better. Wheat and the boys have already spent the money in their heads.”

“Trust me. By this time tomorrow we’ll be $50,000 richer and Hannibal Heyes will be the first person to open a Pierce and Hamilton ’78.” Heyes beamed proudly.


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PostSubject: Re: Nov 15 - Safely gathered in...   Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:49 pm

November 2015 – Safely Gathered In

Kid Curry paced the small leader’s cabin at Devil’s Hole.  He glanced out the window, walked past the fireplace, around the table, and sighed as he stared at the door, hoping for his partner to open it, before heading back to the window.

The Kingsbury job started out smooth, but quickly turned bad.  A deputy took his midnight round early and became suspicious of Lobo holding several horses in the alley.  The deputy ran to a metal triangle and banged on it as he shouted.  Men ran out of their homes, businesses and saloons, in various manner of being dressed, with their weapons.

Heyes put the last bundle of money from the safe into a bag the Kid held open when the alarm went off.  They froze a moment.

“What happened?” Heyes asked frustrated as he turned from the safe to the open window.

“Heck if I know.”  Curry followed him with the money.  “Let’s get outta here!”

The Devil’s Hole Gang came out of their hiding places to cover their leaders’ escape.  They spurred their horses as bullets escorted them out of town.

A posse quickly formed and followed the gang.  The full moon played hide and seek with the clouds making the going treacherous for both.

“Kid,” Heyes shouted.  “We have to split up the gang!”

“No!”

“It’s the only way!”

Curry pondered a moment before getting the rest of the gang to slow down a moment.  “Wheat, Kyle, and Doc, you head that way!”  He pointed down the creek.  “Lobo, Hank, and Heyes head up the plateau.  Luke and Bert, follow me.  Meet back at the Hole!”

Kid Curry paced the room again.  Heyes did the pacing, not him.  Dang his cousin…Where was he?  Most of the posse had followed him as he intended.  That’s why he had his best riders come with him.

The Kid sat on a seat and ran a hand through his wavy hair.  Wheat’s gang returned first.  He and his men came in two days later, expecting to be the last to arrive.  The weather had turned.  An early storm had snow clinging to the golden aspens.  Snow and ice paved the trail coming into the Hole.

Three gunshots sounded and Curry grabbed his jacket as he ran out the door.  Other gang members came out of the bunkhouse to greet the late comers.

Three horses came into view with their heads down.  Their riders were slumped and exhausted.  The animals headed to the corral and waited.  Heyes, Lobo, and Hank slid off their horses, hanging on to the saddle horn for support.

The gang rallied around their comrades to help.

“What happened to you?  You should’ve been back almost a week ago!” Curry’s voice was raised with frustration and relief.

Weary brown eyes looked up at him.  “Plan didn’t go quite as planned.”

“Obviously.”

“I’ll tell you more inside.  I need to sit on something not moving and have a stiff drink.”

“Kyle, Bert and Luke…”

“We got their horses,” Kyle finished the Kid’s sentence.  “You go on in, Hank and Lobo, before you fall down.  Got some stew hot on the stove.”

Heyes stopped untying his bag from the saddle.  “Doc’s stew?” he said hopeful.

Curry put a hand on his partner.  “I got this, Heyes.  You go on inside and warm up.  I’ll bring in your stuff and get you some of Doc’s stew.”

“Thanks, Kid.”  Heyes slowly made his way to the cabin as snow began to fall.

Ten minutes later, Kid entered the cabin with a steaming bowl of soup.  “Here ya go.  Got you these, too.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few biscuits.  “Boy, did you get back just in time.  It’s really snowin’ hard out there.”

Heyes was lying on his bed, fully clothed, with his arm over his eyes.

“Come on, Heyes.  Eat and then go to bed.”

Heyes sighed and wearily got up as the Kid took a bottle of brandy and two glasses from a shelf.  “Smells good.”

“It is good.”

Heyes sat at the table and swallowed the amber liquid before holding his glass out for more.  Curry filled it again and sat across from him.

“What took you so long?  You had the money so I sent you on the best path back to the Hole.”

“Didn’t count on the second posse.”

“Second posse?”

“Yeah, the one outta…I don’t know where.  Another gang robbed their bank and they were after them.”

“What gang?”

Heyes blew before taking a bite of stew.  “I think the Miller boys.”  Heyes yawned and took another bite.  “Anyways, we had to head up that animal trail.  You know the one…heading up to Mount Diablo.”

“That’s barely a path.”

Heyes nodded in agreement as he ate more stew.  “The storm started as we got near the summit.  We were holed up overnight under a pine tree.  Built up the snow around us so the wind couldn’t get us.  Next day the weather cleared enough to make our way down, but it was slow going.”

The Kid poured more brandy for them.  “What bad luck havin’ that second posse send you up Diablo.”

Heyes finished his stew and biscuits before tossing down the brandy.  “Yep.  And I don’t care if I never get on another horse or see snow as long as I live.”  He made his way back to his bed and sat down to remove his boots.

“What about dividin’ the money?”

A soft snore answered the Kid.

“It’ll wait.  Not like we’re goin’ anywhere with it snowin’ like it is.”  The Kid removed his partner’s boots and covered him with a quilt.  “At least we’re all back safe and sound.”

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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: Safe-ly gathered in...Part II   Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:01 pm

Safe-ly gathered in...Part II

This story will make more sense to ASJers on the right side of the pond; think 'Dad's Army' - OK?

Meanwhile, back at the Devil's Hole Gang's hideout, the rest of the boys eagerly awaited the return of Heyes and Curry.

Wheat stuck our his chin and looked around at the gang "I got a gun in the closet that's going to put us all on the road to riches" he bragged.

"How'd you mean?" asked one of the gang.

"I mean...." Wheat responded with mock annoyance; "I mean it's so powerful no one can defeat us."

"Well, let's see it!" another in the gang responded.

Wheat went to the closet and pulled a long, bulky object, wrapped in guinae sack. He walked over to the table, laid it down, and his face turned serious. "Now this is a powerful gun, i can't let anyone go shooting it around right now.  I'll get it  set it up and show you how it works."

"Where'd ja get that" asked Kyle wide-eyed when Wheat finished unwrapping it.

"Well I aint sayin. It's a hand-held gatlin gun, it'll shoot off 700 rounds a minute."

"Seven-hundred rounds!" a gang member exclaimed.  "That's this fast."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3oQFa-SqfM

"No it ain's" another objected. "It has to be stronger and louder, like this."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eL6Gmy94y4

Kyle grabbed the gun off the table.  "I'll show you guys, he yelled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQlPjUSj7no

At that point the whole gang joined in

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exwizrbXPSc

Just then Heyes and Curry walked in, looked around in disbelief, and looked at each other. "What are you clowns up to now?" Curry asked. Then he grabbed the stock of the gatline gun, pulled it out of Kyle's hands. "If you reallly shot that thing it would knock you over."

"Wheat!" Heyes commanded. "Get that thing back in the closet.  I told you to leave it in there until I got back! Clear that table off, we got money to count."

Wheat sheepishly bundled the gun back and returned it to the closet as Heyes and Curry spread out the dough on the table.

Heyes gave two bottles to the Preacher. "Here's something for you guys while we count this. It'll help you celebrate. Go easy on it though, it's pretty potent."
"Yea, go easy on it," repeated Curry.

"What is it?" asked Kyle.

"Potato wine," said Curry. "It's got another name I think, but that'll do."

The gang started drinking the vodka.  Soon they were laughing at each other. But the more they drank, the more beligerant they became.  Soon they were shoving each other around.

The Preacher  tried to hold it all together. "Hey, calm down guys, you're supposed to be celebrating, not fighting!"

"Get these clown to sing something," suggested Heyes as he looked around that the gang drinking and carousing.

"If they do that," added Curry, "maybe they'll stop roughhousin. Tell 'em, after they finish singing, well split the dough. That should get them goin.'"

"Sure, that's a good idea," the Preacher agreed. He turned to the gang.  "Listen up fellas, Heyes and Curry want us to sing a song and stop roughhousin.  When we finish the song, they'll split the dough. Agreed?"

The gang agreed.

"Safely gathered in - that's a good one. That should make us real thankful for the haul."

He and the gang started singing, but before they were halfway through the first verse, everyone was on the floor.  Between the drinking and the shoving, the Devil's Hold Gang was reduced to a pile of kicking and slugging men. The Preacher stopped singing and raised his hands in frustration.

Heyes and Currry looked on.  "Well if that don't beat all, Curry said."

"That's how they say thanks," Heyes added.

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