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 May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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Calico

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PostSubject: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Tue May 01, 2012 8:56 am

Yee-hawwwww!!!

A brand new board for you prolific ones to fill up with Challenge stories.

Are you coiled like springs? Are you straining at the leash? Are you bouncing on your shapely butts in eager anticipation of your May topic?

You're not???

Well, please assume a suitably impatient posture immediately!

A cracker of a topic for you this month. (Thank you to a kind board-member for the suggestion)


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Let the creative juices flow like wine!!! writing

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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Thu May 03, 2012 6:52 am

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Transcript of Interview with Hannibal Heyes, Oral History Project – University of Kansas, 1910

Hannibal Heyes sat in his arm chair, crossed one leg over his knee, and took a deep sip of whiskey.

“So, Son, you say we were known as the “good bandits” because we were so nice.” Heyes laughed. “We weren’t so nice; we were lucky. Now you’re right we didn’t go around shooting folks or stealing from the passengers or bank patrons – not directly, at least – but that wasn’t ‘cuz we were nice, it was ‘cuz it was good business. We had the support of the populace; that helped us a lot and kept the posses from getting over excited. I gotta tell ya, you don’t get nowhere being nice. Isn’t there a saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Well we may end up there, but it won’t be through good intentions.”

He leaned back and lit a cigar, taking several deep draughts before continuing, “I can remember once, when we were going for that amnesty, we tried doing a good deed – a man ended up dead because of it.”

He was silent, thinking back. “Yeah, the Kid was always rooting for the underdog. He figured maybe if we did a good deed, it would help us. Heck it didn’t even help the person who was the object of the good deed.”

He took another sip of the whiskey in the glass next to him, and a drag on his cigar. He looked into the distance, thinking back.

“There we were riding along, the Kid and me, when suddenly a shot rang out and this voice told us to dismount, one at a time, and to throw our guns away. Well we did, and finally we could see who was speaking – his name was Joe Sims. Turns out he was a former slave turned bounty hunter – professional.”

He shook his head. “Nothing we could say could convince him he had the wrong men. Anyway, he tied us up, and we all headed to Carbondale, but his horse spooked, and we got away.”

Heyes sighed. “Sims gave chase and shot towards us at the same time another horse appeared. He accidentally shot the horse, just as some men appeared. Now they took exception to an ex-slave shooting a horse and decided it was the same as a horse thief taking a horse.”

He stopped and looked at me. “It’s different now, but back then horses were everything – it was perfectly normal to hang a horse thief – no trial needed.”

He leaned back again, “Well they had ol’ Sims all trussed up – ready to hang him. We saw this from the ridge where we had stopped to untie ourselves. The Kid decided we had to stop the lynching — do a good deed he said. You can’t argue with the Kid when he gets that way. So we lay down a line of fire that scared them off, then we took off as quickly as we could, leaving Sims to free himself. We didn’t take off fast enough.”

He laughed, “That Sims was one determined bounty hunter – but he wasn’t a killer. He caught up with us and we went through this again, and again. Seemed white men didn’t take kindly to him holding us captive.”

He sighed, all trace of laughter gone, “Yeah, we got away a couple of times, but saved him from others who didn’t appreciate an ex-slave behaving like a man. He was a bounty hunter – professional – and he was bound to turn us in.”

He stopped to take another sip of whiskey, now speaking only to himself, “Well eventually we couldn’t save him. Rancher forced him to run then shot him in the back when he did.”

He sighed. “Nothing we could do; we buried him where he died. Couldn’t even turn in the rancher for murder – and don’t be confused; it was pure, cold-blooded murder – but we were still wanted back then, so nothing we could do.”

He stood up and headed out of the room, ending the interview. Before he closed the door behind him, Heyes turned back and spoke quietly, “Yeah – all our good deeds just resulted in our being held captive and in the end Sims died. I gotta tell ya no good deed goes unpunished. Being nice just doesn’t pay – had Sims killed us and turned us in dead, he’d probably still be alive and twenty thousand dollars richer. We weren’t the good bandits, Son; we were just bandits.”

He walked out and closed the door.
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Sat May 05, 2012 4:19 am

Hannibal Heyes stalked the floor of the leader’s cabin in Devil’s Hole that he shared with his partner, Kid Curry. At each turn in his pacing, his anger grew.

The Kid had been sent to Barbersville to case the bank for a job Heyes had been planning for the past month. Heyes had stayed behind as the sheriff knew him on sight. Kid’s job was to determine any obstacles to a successful robbery, and to figure out the best escape route for the gang. That was it. He was not supposed to get himself thrown in jail for drawing down on some drunken idiot in a saloon!

Heyes had been worried when his cousin hadn’t returned as planned, so he had sent Lobo and Kyle into the town to check on the Kid. He was shocked when they returned this morning with the story of his cousin getting himself locked up. There’d been an incident with a saloon gal and some cowboy who couldn’t take no for an answer. Once again, Kid just had to be the hero. What was it with him? The cowboy hadn’t taken the interruption of his plans well and things had gone south quickly. While it had ended in a shootout, there were no casualties. The Sheriff, however, had a real dim view of gun fighting in his town and had thrown both parties into his cells to cool down for a few days. Heyes had half a mind to just leave Kid there, but he knew he was going to have to break him out before the sheriff realized he had Kid Curry cooling his heels in his jail. Heyes needed a plan.

Turning once again, Heyes bumped into a chair slid back slightly from the rustic table. Kicking it savagely out of the way, Heyes continued his manic circuit of the small room. Hearing the sound of a horse approaching, Heyes stopped his pacing and looked out the front window of the cabin. It was the Kid; he was back! He watched his partner ride up to the barn and dismount.

Yanking open the cabin door, Heyes propelled himself out and across the small yard, only stopping when he reached the Kid.

“What the hell do you think you were doing?” Heyes said.

Kid calmly said, “Good to see you, too, Heyes,” holding the reins and starting to un-tack his horse while keeping his back to his cousin.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you, Kid!” yelled Heyes.

Kid slowly turned to his partner, “I ain’t talkin’ to you when you’re like this, Heyes.” He dismissed Heyes with a shrug and started turning away again.

Heyes grabbed his left arm and pulled Kid around to face him. “Like hell you won’t,” he said.

By this time, the rest of the gang had heard Heyes’s yelling and spilled out of the bunkhouse hoping for a fight. They were already talking amongst themselves; making bets on their favored leader.

“Kid will take him apart, just you see.” “No way, Heyes might not be so big, but he’s real sneaky.” “I got $20 on Kid, who’ll take it?” “I will.” The gang crowded together to wait for the fight they just knew was coming.

“Let go of me, Heyes. I ain’t kidding.” Kid said threateningly, staring down at the hand holding him.

“No!” said Heyes. “What were you thinking? No wait. You weren’t! Why didn’t you just ride into town with a big sign around your neck that said, ‘I’m Kid Curry and I’m here to rob your bank?” asked Heyes, “Or maybe you should’ve just ridden in and put yourself in jail; save the sheriff the trouble.”

“Very funny, Heyes. Now let me go or so help me God, I’ll flatten you,” warned the Kid.

“You’ll what!!?” shouted Heyes.

“You heard me. I’ll flatten you,” was the chilled reply.

The two had squared off and were bristling with anger. Kid had that cold, scary look in his eyes that terrified those brave enough to call him out. Heyes was radiating waves of anger. With visible effort, Heyes forced himself to relax and he closed the space to his partner. Much more quietly he said, “Kid, really, what were you thinking?”

Kid exploded, “I wasn’t thinkin’, Heyes. When someone draws on me, I react. I don’t try to think him to death like you do. That’s why you need me! Cause you can’t talk yourself out of everything, now can you?”

Coldly, Heyes said, “I don’t need you if you can’t do your job.”

Kid drew back as if slapped and snapped, “Fine! I’m outta here.” He yanked his horse around, swung up, laid his spurs on, and rode out of the yard at a full gallop.

The rest of the gang watched with disappointment.

Heyes scowled as his partner disappeared from his sight. Clenching his fists, he stomped back to the cabin, went inside, and promptly returned with a bag in hand. He stalked back to the barn, pulled his horse out of its stall, and tacked it up quickly. Heyes stashed the sack in his saddle bags.

Leading his horse out, he called to Wheat, “You’re in charge until I get back, don’t do anything stupid!” Heyes mounted, wheeled his sorrel mare on her hocks and galloped out of the yard in the direction Kid had ridden.

Wheat frowned at Heyes's insult and then, brightening, said, “Who--wee, boys, get your money out. The bets are back on!”

It took Heyes almost two hours to find the Kid. It wasn’t hard following him as the Kid was making no effort to hide his trail. Riding through a cool aspen grove, Heyes felt the warmth of the spring sun filtering through the gently rustling aspen leaves and began to relax and enjoy the scenery. The snow had recently melted and delicate, yellow glacier lilies had bloomed in profusion and carpeted the forest floor. Heyes felt calmer. Below him ran a creek swollen with snow melt. Willows overgrew its bank. Looking forward down the trail, Heyes saw his partner’s horse tethered to the side of the trail as his own horse called out a greeting to its friend. Pulling alongside, Heyes dismounted, tied his mare, and patted both animals before following a matted trail of grass down to the creek side.

“Go away, Heyes, I got nothin’ to say to you,” was the surly greeting from his cousin who was stretched out in the sun alongside the water.

“C’mon Kid. I came to talk,”said Heyes.

The Kid sprang to his feet and wiped the loose grass from his pants. “I’m finished with you, Heyes. Go away,” he said as he started to push past his friend.

“Kid, stop,” Heyes said stepping across the path.

“Get outta my way, Heyes. I’m warning you,” said Kid.

Heyes felt his temper start to rise again. “No, I’m not moving. What are you going to do about it?” asked Heyes belligerently.

Without hesitation, Kid punched Heyes soundly in the stomach.

Winded, Heyes bent double for a second, stunned, and then sprang up with a hard jab to the Kid’s jaw. Kid countered with a shot to Heyes’s eye that had his head ringing. Heyes struck out with his foot, dropped Kid to the ground, and sprang on his friend. The two fought like a pair of wild animals rolling about with fists flying until; finally, they rolled apart and lay gasping up at the clear, blue sky. After a few moments, a chuckle escaped Kid and he looked over at Heyes. Heyes grinned widely back at him and they both started to laugh heartily.

Kid sat up and rubbed his jaw absently. “When’d you start hitting like a girl, Heyes?” he said with a smile.

“Hey, I said I wanted to talk to you. I want you to be able to talk back,” said Heyes reasonably. He carelessly brushed at the dust on his shirt and looked up at his partner.

“Let it go, Heyes. We’re okay now,” said Kid looking beyond Heyes for a moment.

Rising, Heyes drew his partner’s gaze back. “No, we’re not. Kid, I rode all the way out here to clear the air. The least you can do is hear me out.”

After a moment’s hesitation, the Kid nodded in agreement and said, “C’mon then. Let’s go back to camp. Coffee’s on.”

“I’ve got something better,” said Heyes with a wicked smile as he walked back towards his horse to fetch his sack.

A short time later, after a little coffee and a lot of whiskey, the two partners had settled back into their saddles which were propped up behind them and both were facing the small campfire.

“Are you ready to hear what I have to say, Kid?” asked Heyes.

“You go ahead and talk, Heyes. I ain’t promisin’ to listen,” replied Kid. “You hollerin’ at me in front of the men was humiliating.”

“I know…” started Heyes.

“I ain’t puttin’ up with it anymore, Heyes,” interrupted Kid. “I wasn’t thinking. Let’s leave it at that.”

“That’s what I’m getting at, Kid,” said Heyes, “I wasn’t thinking either. I was so angry at you and worried about you that I just lost it. I want to apologize.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed as he tried to judge his cousin’s sincerity. What he saw surprised him.

“Well,” said Kid with a slow, wide smile, “in that case—pour me a bit more of that whiskey and you go right ahead.”

“Look, when you didn’t return on time I thought you’d been caught or worse. I kept hoping you were just delayed but as time dragged on I realized something serious must’ve happened,” began Heyes. “That’s when I sent Lobo and Kyle into town. It was killing me that I couldn’t go myself. You know how I am. I started pacing the floor and the more I paced the angrier I got, because there wasn’t anything I could do but wait. Then the boys came back, all laughing and joking about how’d you gotten yourself thrown in jail for gunplay. That opened another can of worms. They told me the whole tale. I thought, another saloon girl needing rescuing, another gunfight. Kid, there’s always going to be drunken cowboys pawing at those gals. It’s the life they lead.”

“Don’t start on that, Heyes,” growled Kid. “I am not about to stand by and let someone get hurt if I can stop it. You better figure out fast that won’t ever change. Besides, I know you, Heyes. You wouldn’t have stood by either. You talk real tough, but you can’t stand to see someone abused any more than I can.”

Heyes snorted. “Maybe so, but I also realize that no good deed goes unpunished and you get punished a lot!”

Kid eyes narrowed at that comment while he thought it over and then he grinned at the truth of it, “Yeah, I sure do.”

Heyes continued, “Anyways, I started worrying about how long it would take that sheriff to figure out who you were. What would he do when he did? Then I spent more time wearing a groove in the floorboards, worrying and trying to work up a plan to spring you. When you rode up, I was real relieved, but I had just about gone crazy with thinking. All I saw was you standing there without a care in the world.

Kid chuckled and said, “I knew you’d have a bee in your bonnet, Heyes, that’s why I didn’t want to talk to you. There’s no talkin’ to you when you’re like that; you can’t hear anyone else when you’re that worked up. Nice to know you still worry about me, though.”

“Kid, I’ve been worrying about you my whole life. I ain’t about to stop any time soon,” replied Heyes with a sweet grin.

Surprised at the affectionate admission, Kid was really touched. Leaning over, he smiled and put his arm over his partner’s shoulder clumsily hugging him closer. “What do you say we head back to the Hole, Heyes?”

The two partners rode into the yard smiling and laughing easily with each other. The gang, hearing their return, had gathered nearby the barn watching. They carefully looked over their leaders, noting the raw scrapes and bruises on each. Kid had a purplish bruise on his jaw and Heyes was sporting a ripe shiner on his left eye.

After mumbling to themselves, the gang was unable to agree on a clear victor. As one, they approached Heyes and Kid. They stopped just short of the two outlaw leaders and Wheat stepped forward.

“So,” Wheat spoke up, “you two work things out?”

“Yep,” was the brief answer from Heyes as he tethered his horse and sent a sideways glance to Kid.

“Looks like you two might’ve had a fight,” Wheat ventured further.

“Yep,” said Kid as he pulled the saddle from his horse’s back and looked back at Heyes.

“Gee, you both look pretty beat up,” said Wheat.

“Yep,” answered the two partners together.

Wheat snapped, “C’mon, we got money ridin’ on this! Who won?!!”

“We both did, Wheat, we both did,” replied Kid with a grin.


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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Sun May 06, 2012 8:26 am

He clutched at his side, the blood seeping through his fingers betraying the burning pain burying deep into his guts. He groaned, dropping to his knees before falling forward, lacking the strength to even raise a hand to protect his face. A thought ran through his mind; he was through protecting himself. Hell, he was done with protecting anyone.

All the running was over. He knew that for certain, lying there in the dirt, the caustic tang of death filling his nostrils. He felt a vague sense of surprise at the peace sweeping over him. There was no fear, no regret and no bitterness at it all being over far too soon. He had drawn the fire deliberately. It had been a choice; one made in a snap to save his partner, but he had chosen this.

It was the right thing, an act which freed up a good man to live a full, rich life. And he knew that his cousin was a very, good man. Sure, the choices had stunk, and they made too many mistakes, but they had learned from them. Some might have said it had taken far too long, but more charitable folks would probably say that all that mattered was the fact they had learned eventually.

He would stand a much better chance on his own. They had both always known that they stood out too much as a pair, but neither of them had ever really discussed splitting up and making their own way in the world. That would have been too hard to face without support... It was too tough a subject to discuss.

But now he would be alone. They both would; but surely this was the easier road. The torment would be over soon and he knew he could never have lived with watching his friend being lowered into the dank, dark earth to lie forever cradled in the womb of the land he had loved. The vortex of emotions inside him was a foreign land; a place he rarely visited because everything was far too heightened and frightening. There was no control in that part of him. Hell, even the language seemed different when he was there. Watching another death would have made that ugly world engulf him in an agonizing, oppressive thunderhead of delirium. It would have eaten his sanity in a cannibalistic frenzy of desperation. It was right that he should go first and that the stronger partner could live on.

Where he would go?

The pain started to subside. Not just the physical wound, but the sores infecting his heart; the ones that ran too deep to acknowledge.

There was tranquility in the enveloping darkness. It was over.






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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Tue May 08, 2012 8:45 am

Please forgive me Embarassed

I had decided not to post a story this month but I started to think about what I would have written and realised that I had already written it.

So here, with an additional last line, is my entry for the March 2009 challenge – Bad Thing Happen When We Separate.

I hope that new members (and some of the older members with poor memories Very Happy ) will enjoy it.

Needless to say – it won’t be eligible for the yellow bandana.




No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

The warm water enveloped him and soothed his weariness. His aches and pains seemed to dissolve along with the grime that had clung to him for so long and he savoured every moment as the soap caressed his well-toned body. He thrust his head beneath the water and brought it up again the water cascading down his hair, over his shoulders and trickling down his back along with the soap and dirt it had removed. He sighed with contentment and smiled at the thought of the lucky coin toss that had won him this luxury. He’d lay down his life for his partner but when it came to who got the first dip in the hotel’s only bath well that was quite another matter.

He prepared to submerge again but a thought started nagging at him and it wouldn’t let go. Where was Kid? He had expected him to be hammering on the door long ago demanding his turn before the water had gone cold and the soap had disappeared. Hannibal Heyes looked at the small bar in his hand and shivered. The water that only a few moments earlier had seemed so comforting was now starting to feel decidedly chilly and somewhere he no longer wanted to be.

He rose and stepped out of the tub. With the soap still in his hand and ignoring the towel folded on the chair beside it he strode across the room oblivious to the puddles he was making on the tattered rug that covered most of the floor. Searching through the pile of clothes scattered on the bed he found his watch. He’d looked at the clock behind the desk in the hotel lobby after they had registered and the clerk had told them how long it would be before the only tub would be brought up to their room. Kid had groaned at losing the coin toss. They had both been so desperate for baths and shaves after their time away from civilisation that they hadn’t taken their horses to the livery, instead tying them to the hitching post outside the hotel. Kid had said he would take the horses to the livery but he’d be right back and not to get too comfortable. Now Heyes was really worried, even if Kid had gone to the saloon for a beer he had still been gone far too long.

He reached for his saddlebags and started to take out his clean long johns but realizing he was still wet threw them back on the bed and marched to the chair beside the tub. Grabbing the towel he started to dry himself as he edged towards the window and stood to one side, cautious that the clear view of the street it gave didn’t also reveal to anyone that may wish to look up a view of a very clean, naked ex-outlaw looking back at them. The scene that greeted him from the street below almost made him forget his previous caution; almost.

Ignoring his saddlebags which held a complete set of clean clothes, Heyes pulled on the pants he had been wearing for over a week, cringing as the material coarse with a week’s dirt brushed against his clean legs He jammed his feet into his boots, secured his gun belt, shoved his hat on his head and left the room with one arm in a shirt sleeve and one about to enter it. He buttoned his shirt as he descended the hotel steps, two at a time. Slowing his pace to a walk as he crossed the lobby he removed one hand from the task of tucking his shirt inside his pants only long enough to tip his hat to an elderly lady entering the hotel. She smiled back at him curiously. Heyes stopped and took a deep breath. He exhaled slowly before opening the hotel door and stepping onto the street.

He was just in time to see his partner entering the town’s jail, closely followed by the sheriff. Heyes was surprised that anyone had recognized the Kid in the state he was in. They were always very particular about their appearance it must be somebody who knew Kid well and that meant they probably knew him too He needed to be careful if he was to get Kid out of jail and avoid being captured himself.

Heyes placed his hand on his chin and started rubbing it with his forefinger and remembered that he’d not shaved. A gleam of hope entered his mind. Perhaps no one had recognized Kid, gosh, he hardly recognized him. Perhaps he’d been arrested for some other reason. Perhaps something had happened in the saloon or they had that crazy transient law here. Heyes grinned at the thought of Kid’s reaction to that.

There was no one around to ask, it was lunch time and the hottest part of the day so that came as no surprise. What he’d do is go back to his room, have a shave and put on his clean set of clothes. Then he’d try to find out why Kid had been arrested. When he’d seen Kid held at gunpoint from his hotel window he’d also noticed a couple of onlookers standing outside the general store, perhaps he could try there first. He needed a few things; he could just casually bring the subject up with the storekeeper whilst he was buying them. If it was the storekeeper who had recognized Kid and he recognized him too then … well, hopefully it wouldn’t come to that. With hope in his heart and a plan in his mind Heyes turned and strode back into the hotel.

*****

Weariness engulfed him as he found himself in surroundings all too familiar. A small pool of light from a high window illuminated his cell revealing two cots with damp mattresses which were neither long enough nor wide enough to provide any form of comfort. A coarse blanket was roughly folded on each and was the only hope of warmth he could look forward to. The smell of humanity at its most desperate assaulted his nostrils and made it difficult to breathe or maybe that was the closeness of the iron bars and the blood stained wall.

Kid Curry slumped down on the nearest cot, and buried his head in his hands. He cast his mind back over his unhappy day. First, he’d lost the coin toss to Heyes and he’d been really looking forward to that bath. Then after taking their horses to the livery he’d visited the saloon for a much needed beer but a snooty barkeep had refused to serve him ‘until he got cleaned up’. He’d stormed out of the saloon and it was when he was looking up and down the strangely deserted street wondering if there was another one he could try that he’d first noticed the horse, a beautiful stallion, whose owner was struggling to keep hold of him. A wry smile formed on his lips as he remembered thinking that if a man couldn’t control a horse like that then he’d no right owning him.

There’d been no obvious signs of another saloon and so Curry had decided to return to the hotel and his lukewarm bath. He was sure that Heyes would have finished by now. He had reached the general store and was about to cross the street to the hotel opposite when he almost bumped into a young woman. She was dressed in a lilac dress and wore an outrageously large floral hat. Curry had marvelled at how she managed to keep the hat balanced on her small head. He’d tipped his own hat to her and was thinking about offering to carry her parcel but the look of disdain she gave him had reminded him all too harshly of the lost coin toss and how unappealing he must seem and he’d stepped back

Curry raised his head at the sound of the jail door opening. He half expected to see Heyes coming through it but it was only the deputy. Curry sighed, although he was sure that his partner would have reacted in exactly the same way that he had he was also sure that he’d never live it down when Heyes found out what had happened.

The deputy looked briefly in his direction then walked over to where the sheriff was sitting behind a large wooden desk reading a newspaper. He leaned over and started talking quietly, occasionally looking back towards the cell. Curry tried to hear what he was saying but he could only catch odd words.

Deciding their conversation had nothing to do with him he stopped listening and carefully lay down on his cot. He covered his face with his hat and smiled as he remembered the sight of the young woman as she’d walked across the street, her hips swaying gently in rhythm with her steps. It was at that moment that Curry had realized that the owner of the horse had lost his battle and that the rider less horse was heading straight for her.

He’d leapt off the boardwalk and charged towards her. Grabbing her around the waist he had dragged her out of the path of the horse which rode off and out of sight. Curry had plummeted to the ground taking the girl with him but making sure that he took the full force of the fall and that she landed on top of him.

To his surprise she’d started screaming and hitting out at him. He’d released his hold on her thin waist and she’d jumped up and started backing away. Relieved that she was seemingly unhurt and oblivious to any pain he was feeling, he’d got to his feet.

He’d looked around him and had noticed her hat or what was left of it lying a few feet away in the dirt. Walking stiffly over to it he’d bent down and picked it up. Smiling, he’d held it out to her, hoping in some small way that this would calm her down. It didn’t. He’d then become aware of another, older woman shouting at him … shouting that her daughter had been attacked and demanding that the sheriff arrest the culprit. HIM!

Finding it difficult to believe that this was happening to him he’d stood and watched as a man who had emerged from the general store behind her moved into full view revealing a tin star. In his hand the sheriff held a Schofield revolver which was pointing in his direction. Curry had raised his hands before looking around for the owner of the horse but he was nowhere to be seen and it wasn’t long before he was being hauled off to jail.

Curry heard the sound of jingling keys and he slowly lifted his hat from his face with two fingers. He saw the sheriff, who had his gun belt slung over his shoulder, opening the cell door. The sheriff started muttering something about a mistake and how he’d always be grateful to him but Curry wasn’t interested in listening to what the sheriff had to say and he didn’t want to stay any longer than he needed to.

With some difficulty he got to his feet. His hand moved behind him to loosen his shirt which was sticking to his back but he thought better of it when he realized that it wasn’t sweat but blood that was holding it there. Best to soak it off later. He accepted his gun belt and shook his head when the sheriff mentioned seeing the doctor. Taking a moment to lift his weapon from its holster and check all was in order he fastened the belt around his hips and tied the thong around his thigh. Now for that bath, he thought, as he headed for the door.

The harsh sunlight penetrated his eyes and he raised his arm to shield them. As they became accustomed to the light he lowered his arm and started the painful walk back to the hotel. He’d almost reached the general store when he was startled to see his partner leaving it; carrying supplies!

Something caused Heyes to turn and seeing Curry a huge grin appeared on his face. He walked towards him, covering the distance between them quickly and spoke to his friend in almost a whisper.

“The sheriff’s daughter, huh, Kid? You should have known that no good deed goes unpunished.”










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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Tue May 08, 2012 9:41 pm

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry had just left the town of Black Rock after finishing up a job they had gotten on a local ranch. "Don't know about you Heyes, but I sure am glad that's over." Kid looked exceptionally tired atop his black gelding.

"But, on the bright side, we got three hundred dollars out of it!" Heyes looked equally as tired.

"I still think we shoulda asked for more. Three hundred is pretty cheap for all the work we done, building a fence, repairing the old one, building new stalls in the barn, reroofing the house...they probably don't work a body that hard in prison."

"Well, at least we got enough to relax on for a little bit. You'll feel better once we get to the next town, get a soft bed, good meal, good poker game..." Heyes kept it up for a good five minutes straight.

"Why don't you relax your mouth a little." Kid knew he was proddy, but he just couldn't help it at the moment.

"Just tryin' to make you feel better." This was followed by another five minutes of nonstop chatter.

"Hey, look up there. What is that?" Kid pointed and was inwardly thankful for the distraction.

"Don't know. Kinda looks like a child."

A minute or two later, they had reached the youngster. "Hello there lil' miss," Kid smiled down at the girl who couldn't be no more than six. "What are you doing all the way out here by yourself?"

"I losted my way back to where my pa is camped," the child whimpered. "He telled me not to wander off, but I did and now I can't get back." Her bottom lip quivered ever so slightly.

"Kid, can I speak to you, privately, for a minute?" Heyes smiled at the young girl. "We'll be right back darling." They dismounted and stood with their horses blocking the girl's view of them. "Kid, something about this seems...I don't know...not right."

Kid regarded Heyes incredulously. "She's just a lost little kid Heyes. What on earth do you find suspicious about that?"

"I can't really explain it. I just sense...danger. Besides, doesn't it seem logical that her Pa would be out looking for her, and in doing so, would be calling out her name? I haven't heard anybody hollering."

"Maybe he's too far away to be heard."

"Could be I guess."

"Heyes, you're not honestly thinking about riding off and not helping this girl!? She can't be no older than five or six! We can't leave her out here. It'll be getting dark soon."

"NO, I don't want to just leave her here! But she can't come with us. Plus, what if we take her back to Black Rock and her Pa can't find her? Somebody could easily accuse us of kidnapping and I do believe the Governor might just look at that a little badly!"

"Well then, let's just try to find her Pa." Kid's simple answer was spoken with a tone that said his mind was made up. And as proddy as he'd been during the course of the day, Heyes didn't feel like getting into a heated argument with him. And both he, and Kid, knew that neither one of them would leave this child to fend for herself.

"Alright, let's go." They walked back over to the wide-eyed, nervous little girl. "Honey, what's your name?"

"Emily."

"Well Emily, which way did you come from?" Heyes asked with huge dimples. Emily pointed back to a grove of trees. "Me and my partner here are gonna help you find your Pa, okay?" The girl was instantly excited. The trio headed off towards the trees, leading their horses behind them.

******************

About twenty minutes later, Kid brought their little assembly to a stop. Looking at Heyes he asked, "You smell that?"

Heyes tested the air for a second. "Yeah. Smells like a campfire. Suppose its Emily's Pa?"

"Could be." Kid bent down to Emily's level. "Sweetie, what's your Pa's name?"

"Pa."

"Okay." Kid looked up at Heyes who was suppressing a laugh. He stood up. "We can't just walk around here yelling 'Pa'. They'll think we're crazy."

"Let's let Emily do the hollering." It was Heyes turn to kneel down. "Emily, you think you could holler reeeal loud for your Pa to hear you?"

"Sure!" Heyes wasn't prepared for the ear-shattering noise that followed. "PAAAAAAAAAA!"

"My fault," he said standing up massaging his ear. "I shoulda moved first." Now it was Kid with the smile on his face. Heyes took a step or two back. "Go ahead and yell again Emily."

"PAAAAAAAA!" A second or two later, her call was returned.

"EMILY!"

"PA!" At that, Emily took off in a run towards her dad's voice with Heyes and Kid close behind. Eventually, they made it to a small campsite consisting of four men. "Hi Pa! I got's 'em!" Emily said happily. Upon hearing that, Heyes and Kid looked at each other confusedly.

"What'd you get Emily?" Heyes asked carefully.

Emily's Pa answered for her by pointing a rifle at the two ex-outlaws. "She got YOU!"

"What do you mean?" Kid asked raising his hands.

Pa motioned for one of his companions to relieve the both of them of their six-guns. "I mean, I saw you two in the saloon last night and overheard you talking about leaving today, so I came out here to wait for you. I didn't want to chance you getting nervous and running when you saw me, so I got Emily to pretend she was lost. I told her what you, your horses, and your hats looked like so she'd know who to stop. That black hat's pretty easy to spot."

"How many times I told you to get rid of that antique hat of yours," Kid hissed. Heyes ignored him and looked at Pa.

"Mister, I don't know who you think we are, but..."

"Save your speech Mister HEYES. I know perfectly well who you and your partner are." Another of Pa's companions started tying their hands behind their back.

Heyes started to protest, but just managed to ask, "How? How do you know that for sure?" Those wanted poster descriptions could match half the population of the western part of the country."

"Because I seen you before. See, a while back, I lived in a little place called Junction City. And guess what. I saw two guys bring in some bank robbers. Then I found out, after THEY had been locked up, that THEY were really Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. And THEN, guess what. They just up and disappeared. I didn't never hear what happened to them. But I found out last night in that saloon when I saw you. So, I figured to get me an easy twenty thousand dollars. Now, my boys here are gonna help you on your horses and then, we gonna take a ride back to Black Rock."

"You know mister. That was pretty low to use your daughter like that. How did you know we wouldn't just shoot our way out of here?" Kid spat out as he was helped into his saddle.

"Oh she was all for helping...after I told her all the toys and candy twenty thousand dollars could buy." Pa ignored the rest of Curry's statement. "Mount up boys. We got some money to collect!"

****************

The short ride back into town wasn't eventful. The opportunity never arose for an escape. They made it to the Sheriff's office right at sundown. "Alright you two. Get down. The rest of you boys stay out here and watch Emily." Pa then led Heyes and Kid into the jailhouse.

After they were safely confined in their cell, Heyes commenced to his usual pacing. "Didn't I tell you Kid? Didn't I tell you something wasn't right about that situation?"

"Well, you knew we couldn't just leave her. Her Pa figured on that too. That was one dirty trick."

"Yeah. Well, it just goes to show you."

"What's that?"

"That no good deed goes unpunished."
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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Wed May 16, 2012 5:36 pm

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Part 2

Transcript of comments by Jedediah “Kid” Curry, University of Kansas, Oral History Project – 1910

Mr. Curry walked into the room, dominating it. “So, Son, what’s your name?” he asked, holding out his hand. “Call me Kid, most folks do.”

Having shaken my hand he relaxed into the arm chair and pulled out a cigar, taking the time to light it before resuming.

“Well, Charles, not sure why you want to talk to us, but Heyes said I should talk to you. But I’m not going to do that until you let me see what Heyes said, so hand it over.” His eyes twinkled as he held out his hand, but there was a hint of steel behind the twinkle that indicated he meant what he said.

~~~000~~~

“So Heyes claimed we didn’t rob the passengers and bank patrons ‘cuz it was good business, did he?” Mr. Curry laughed. “Yeah, Heyes just can’t stand it that anyone might think him soft. Sure it was good business not to hurt folks, but truth is, he wouldn’t’ve let anyone get hurt even if that would have made more business sense. You gotta understand, the leader of a gang has to be tough – you won’t last long around those types if they think you’re soft. Me, I’ve got the reputation with the gun, so I didn’t need to prove I was tough – but Heyes did. So, yeah we always said it was ‘cuz it was good for business, but really Heyes wouldn’t have done it even if doing so had been better business. He just would have found somethin’ else for us to do.”

“Look, once we had a chance at amnesty he was all for it. Said it gave us a chance we never had before. No, he kept me on the straight and narrow then, even when it wasn’t the easiest thing we ever done.” He leaned back blowing smoke rings. “It sure was a hard road, but he wanted it even more than I did, I think.”

He shook his head, “but that’s long ago and don’t much matter anymore.”

He stopped for a moment and looked back down at the transcript. “Joe Sims – haven’t thought about him in ages. It figures that still bothers Heyes – he’s a worrier, can’t ever let things go. Me, I deal with an issue and move on, but not Heyes. But he’s wrong about Joe Sims – I don’t regret helpin’ him, even if in the end we couldn’t save him and even if havin’ saved him would have meant we went to jail. Heyes don’t really either, he just won’t admit it, probably not even to himself. But me, I don’t agree that no good deed goes unpunished; good deeds have their own rewards in the doin’ even if there are negative consequences.”

He paused and looked at me. “Heyes is right about one thing though, we weren’t the good bandits, we were just bandits. There ain’t no such thing as good bandits. We’re done here. Good talkin’ to you, Son.”
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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Sat May 19, 2012 6:14 pm

Here's part two to my earlier story...

"You did WHAT?!" Madeline Walker paced angrily in front of her husband seated at the kitchen table.

"I captured Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry", Paul Walker said.

"THAT'S not the part I'm mad about", Madeline yelled, slamming her hands down on the table. "I'm mad because you used our DAUGHTER as BAIT! How could you do such a thing?! She coulda been hurt or killed! Those two are OUTLAWS!"

"Outlaws that never killed nobody. I knew they wouldn't hurt her. All the stories I've heard of their robberies, seems they're apparently pretty polite, especially to the ladies."

"You didn't know that for sure! There could always be a first time. What if they had just decided to take her with them, hold her for ransom?!"

"I tell you they just don't seem to be the type to do such things. I mean, you yourself, saw how they acted in Junction City."

"I still can't believe you had the gall to do such a thing just to get a little money."

"Its not 'just a little money'. Its twenty thousand dollars!"

"I don't care if its twenty MILLION! Its not worth putting our daughter in danger!

"Maddie..."

"Don't you 'Maddie' me mister! I think it best you go find yourself something to do outside for a while!"

"Alright FINE! But I'll bet you'll be changing your tune when that twenty thousand dollars gets here!" Paul got up and left the house, headed for the barn.

Madeline turned to look out the window at Emily playing outside. Her little Emily, used like a pawn in a game of chess. If Madeline would admit it, she, herself, didn't think Curry or Heyes would've hurt a little girl. She'd heard the stories too, a few of them being of kindness the two outlaws had shown to people. She even heard a rumor or two that they were trying to go straight. But that wasn't the point she reminded herself. You don't use children, especially your own, for such purposes. She watched as Emily caught a butterfly, then seconds later, let it go free. Thoughts of retribution crept into her mind. 'Somebody needs to be taught a lesson', she thought as a slight smile played along her lips. 'And I know just what I'm gonna do'...

**********

Hannibal Heyes paced relentlessly inside the jail cell. "Heyes, will you PLEASE give the floor a rest?! You're gonna wear a groove straight to Hades if you don't sit down." Kid Curry was fast becoming a nervous wreck.

"We gotta get out of here Kid and you know I do my best scheming when I'm pacing." Heyes started yet another circuit.

"Why can't you do your best scheming sitting down being quiet?" Kid mumbled to himself pulling his hat further over his eyes. Heyes began his three hundredth lap.

"Alright. Let's see. Maybe if we could indulge the deputy..." Heyes' thought process was interrupted when someone burst into the sheriff's office.

"Sheriff, SHERIFF!" a high pitched female voice cried frantically.

"WHAT?!" the sheriff replied nearly falling out of his chair. "What's wrong with you Mrs. Walker?! You sound like you got satan on your heels!"

"Haven't you heard?!" Madeline said breathlessly.

"Heard what?"

"That a bounty hunter is chasing Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry just south of here!"

"No he ain't. Heyes and Curry are sitting right back there in that cell."

"I don't think so Sheriff! You see, as I was on my way into town, this horse about ran me and my little mare over when they flew into the road from a side trail. The rider stopped to apologize, but said that he had to run. He was on the trail of Heyes and Curry and he was needing to get some help. I told him those two were already in jail and he said 'no ma'am, that they just ran out of some town where a federal marshal had recognized them and he meant to get that bounty money first, and that it was too bad I wasn't a man on account of he woulda split that reward money with me if I had helped him catch them."

"You don't say," the sheriff said looking back towards his two guests. "How far away you think he is now?"

"Well, I really can't say. But he did mention that he hated he had to stop to do...uh...his 'business'. I wasn't too far out of town when he ran into me."

"Hmm...," the sheriff appeared deep in thought. "Maybe I'll go check that out. If I catch up with him, maybe he'll split that money with me!"

"What about those two back there?"

"Well, I guess they should stay there for now, just in case that fellow was just telling you a big story. When I find him and come back, then I'll let them go, AFTER I find out for sure. If you'll excuse me Mrs. Walker." The sheriff grabbed his hat and ran out the door.

When Madeline was satisfied he was gone, she started looking through his desk and around the office. Not finding what she was looking for, she hurried back to the cell area. "Uh, excuse me Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry."

"Ma'am?" Heyes strolled over to the bars while Kid pushed himself off the board that passed as a bunk.

"Well, uh, I do know who you are since my husband is the one responsible for your current predicament. I'm Madeline"

"I'm sorry to hear that Ma'am." Kid punched Heyes in the arm upon hearing that response.

"Sorry?"

"Sorry that you're married to that, uh, particular person," Heyes tried to put it politely that he saw the man as scum for using his daughter in such a way.

"That's okay," Madeline smiled. "My mother tells me the same thing! Anyway, I was looking for the keys to the cell out there but I can't find them. Any idea where they might be?"

"I suppose you checked the desk and everywhere?" Kid asked.

"Yes, I checked all over."

"Well, Ma'am, if you would be so nice as to bring me my gunbelt, I can get this door open without the key," Heyes grinned at her.

"Just bring both gunbelts," Kid interjected.

Madeline retrieved the boys affects and returned to the cell. "Here."

Heyes immediately turned his gunbelt over and retrieved the lock pick he had stuck to the underside of it.

"How long you had that there?" Kid asked, looking surprised.

"Since the last time we were 'mistakingly' arrested!" Heyes set to work on the door. A couple of minutes later, he had it open.

"Wow. That was quick," Madeline said somewhat impressed.

"Well, practice makes perfect," Heyes smiled. "Just one thing Ma'am. Why are you here helping us?"

"Mr. Heyes, is it?"

"Yes Ma'am. I'm Heyes, he's Curry."

"Well Mr. Heyes. It was an absolute DEPLORABLE thing my husband did in capturing you. I just couldn't, and still don't, believe that he would use our daughter in such a way. And even though I do believe that criminals should be punished for their crimes, no offense by the way, I don't think he deserves one penny of that reward money."

"No offense taken Ma'am. And just for the record, we're trying to go straight. We haven't robbed in over a year now."

"I'm glad to hear that. I had heard rumors."

"Ma'am?" Kid started. "Won't you be getting yourself in a mess of trouble by doing this? We don't want to be responsible for any punishment you might get."

"Don't worry Mr. Curry. The sheriff is dense enough that he'll just think he lost the bounty hunter. And my husband won't do anything except get mad. He's too afraid of his father-in-law to hurt me physically in any way. Besides, you know what they say about good deeds."

"Yeah, they don't go unpunished," Heyes finished. "Ma'am, we sincerely appreciate what you're doing and someday, maybe we can repay you in some way."

"You're welcome Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry." Madeline shook both their hands. "Now, you better get while the gettin's good."

"We won't forget this," Kid said as they made a swift exit out the back door.

"I won't either," Madeline replied softly as she watched them go with a smile. "I won't either."

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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Sun May 20, 2012 6:06 pm

The Samaritan

Love goes by haps; some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps. ~ (William Shakespeare).

It made him feel important, at least at first. When Big John Overton started giving him those letters to deliver to the girl, it was a sign that he, Hannibal Heyes, was more than just a swamper in Big John’s Trail’s End saloon in Wichita. Surely it was an indication of better things to come, maybe promotion to tending bar or even working one of the tables. He was proud of Big John’s confidence in him.

The first time he’d slipped the envelope into her hand, coming up behind her in a bookstore on Front Street while her aunt’s back was turned, he winked at her. And then felt a hot rush of shame at her startled, shy look. She was so sweet, and so young and pretty. Heyes pondered that sometimes, in the grey pre-dawn hours as he lay on his pallet in one of the saloon outbuildings.

He couldn’t think of any good reason why a girl from a good family, living in a swell house on the right side of town, would be getting herself involved in a love affair with a man like Big John Overton. Big John was awful good-looking, that is as far as Heyes could see from the way the saloon girls gave him the eye. And he dressed pretty fancy, got his suits sent all the way from Chicago, and was a well-spoken sort of man, at least when he wasn’t riled.

But he owned a saloon and, rumor had it, an interest in several less savory enterprises in town. His name was mentioned with respect by the pimps and the gunmen, the sharpers and the fancy women. Big John was a man of parts and all of them bad.

After a while it made Heyes uneasy, lying in wait for the girl and carrying her letters back to Big John. At times he almost made up his mind to tell her father, somehow, but that would get her into trouble, and probably make her fall more in love than ever. So he let matters slide and told himself that this way he could keep an eye on things.

The girl would give him a tip whenever he passed along one of Big John’s letters, along with a timid smile and a quick press of his hand. He liked it, that she trusted him; he wondered, sometimes, if she ever thought of him as more than a messenger from her lover. He wanted to think so but he knew that a skinny sixteen year old with ragged trousers and holes in his boots was no competition for a man like Big John.

One day the saloonkeeper sent for him and had Heyes wait while he wrote a letter. He wrote with great care and re-read it several times before he sealed it and handed it over.

“Take this to Miss McLaren. If she asks, you bring her here and don’t bring her around the front, see?”

Heyes nodded. There were empty bottles on the tables, and the air stank of cigar smoke and sweat. Moreover, to Heyes’ experienced eye, Big John showed all the signs of a man who was still recuperating from the night before. It was, he told himself fiercely, none of his business.

He hung around the alley behind the McLaren place until she saw him and came hurrying stealthily out to the fence. It was a pleasant place to linger, shaded by trees and with hollyhocks and other summer flowers making the fence a bower, not like the alleys in his part of town.

She read the note and gasped. Heyes started to edge away. Her eyes met his and she blushed. “Will you…will you wait for me?”

He thought that he would have rather been asked to give up cards for a whole month. It was too late for that, though. The girl ran back into her house and came out with her bonnet on and a bag hung over her wrist. He heard her calling to her mother that she was going downtown to make a few purchases, and then she joined him.

They went to a florist, first, and she bought an arrangement of roses and orange blossom that she carried herself. Heyes wondered if Big John had made some kind of promise in the note and he desperately wished that he could grab her arm and haul her back to her folks’ house. He thought of Big John, and he didn’t dare.

Then she went to a grocer’s and bought some delicacies, grapes and wine jelly and beef tea. He was puzzled and then it dawned on him. They were the kind of dainties you’d buy for a sick man.

His temples began to pound and he wanted to swear. Big John was pretending to be sick in order to get this girl to come to him, and she had fallen into the trap with the unthinking confidence of an innocent girl in love. Heyes wanted to warn her, or maybe threaten her, but he didn’t know how.

He guided her through the back ways, with her clinging to his arm and glancing fearfully around at the drunks and the harlots and all the other trash that piles up behind buildings in the wrong part of a cow town. He finally found his voice.

“I guess he’s sick?” It was the first time he’d ever said anything to her except in the way of business.

She blushed prettily and answered him. “Yes, very sick. I’m afraid he…he may die.”

She said it very softly and Heyes knew she believed it with her whole heart. They were in sight of the wooden stairs that led to Big John’s private quarters when she spoke again.

“Do you suppose any one…any one will try to keep me from going up to see him?”

And with sudden flash of insight, he knew what he had to say.

“Shoot, no, miss. I bring women to see him all the time.”

He pretended to be interested in a skinny cat that was seated on a barrel across the alley. At his side he knew a heart was breaking and he couldn’t look at her. He added, casually, almost as though it was of no importance, “I took a real pretty girl up there last night. She had a couple bottles of champagne with her.”

“So…he’s not sick?” She whispered.

“Hunh. Wish I could be that kind of sick,” he said crudely.

After he escorted Miss McLaren home he ate the jelly and the grapes, and tossed the flowers over a fence into somebody’s backyard. He wondered what Big John was going to do when he found out and shivered a little at the thought.

Maybe it was time to leave Wichita.


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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Wed May 30, 2012 9:06 pm

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Two teens in threadbare clothes wandered barefoot down a dirt lane that meandered through rolling hills dotted with an occasional large oak.

Han turned back toward his dawdling cousin, who was practicing his quick draw with an old gun and a belt that was too large for the gangly teen. “Do you have to do that all the time?”

“Haven’t you heard that practicin’ makin’ perfect? I’m practicin’.”

Han shook his head. “Wish you never found that gun. Gonna be trouble some day. You mark my words.”

“No it won’t.” Jed holstered the gun and ran to catch up. “I am gettin’ faster. Hope to be the fastest in the West!”

“That’s just asking for trouble, Jed.”

“No it ain’t. If I’m the fastest, then folks will be afraid of me and won’t even challenge me.” The blond looked around at the countryside. “Not much here, is there? Guess we’ll be sleepin’ under an oak tree again tonight.”

“Guess so.”

“Know what I miss? Mrs. Brown’s roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. Don’t that sound good?”

“Jed…”

“I know. Not supposed to talk about Mr. and Mrs. Brown.” Jed bent down, picked up a stone, and threw it as he mumbled, “We’d still be there if you hadn’t burned down their shed.”

Han stopped and turned. “I told you to stay with them! You decided to come with me and it’s been almost a year so let it be!”

“Okay… okay! Sorry I said anything! Sheesh…”

Han sighed and put an arm around his best friend as they continued to walk. “Sorry I yelled at you. I just feel bad about us having to leave there on account of me messing things up.”

“I know. Hey,” Jed pointed ahead, “ain’t that smoke?”

“It sure is! Maybe we can talk some farmer into a meal and sleeping in his barn for some work.”

The closer they got to the buildings, the more they realized something wasn’t right. A rifle barrel poked out of a window.

“What do you want here?” asked a young male voice trying to sound menacing.

“Just wondering if we could work for some food and spend a night or two in the barn,” Han called out.

“Nope! Now git,” the young voice squeaked. “Now git,” he repeated in the deeper voice.

“We’re going! Can we at least get some water from the well?”

After a minute of what sounded like a conversation, the voice yelled out, “Help yourself and then git.”

The two teens walked over to the well and dipped the bucket into the water.

“Han,” Jed whispered, “did you see them graves near the barn?”

“Graves?” Han nonchalantly turned to look.

“Three crosses like the ones we made for our families. These said Pa, Ma, and Ann. Looked kinda new.”

“You’re right. I see ‘em now.” Han thought a moment. “That voice sounded awful young, huh?”

“Yeah, like how I sounded when my voice changed.”

“Wonder if their folks died recent and the children don’t want others to know.”

Jed nodded. “We gonna do anything about it?”

“Yep – gotta make sure they’re okay like folks did for us when we lost our families.”

“But them same folks are the ones who ended up sendin’ us away to the Home. Don’t wish that on anyone.”

“No, but maybe we can still help ‘em. Pretend you have a bad belly ache.” After receiving a puzzled look from Jed, Han continued, “You know, double over and moan a lot.”

“Hope you know what you’re doin’,” Jed said just before putting down the cup of water, grabbing his mid-section and groaning.

“Hey, hey Jed, are you alright? What happened?” Han bent down near his doubled-over cousin. “Help! I need help! My cousin is sick!”

“Sick?” the same voice sounded young and scared.

Han couldn’t make out what was being said, but people were talking in the cabin. “Moan louder, Jed.”

“OOWWWWWWW…”

The cabin door opened and two heads peaked outside. More sets of eyes were at the windows.

“Is he okay?” asked a female teen at a window.

“OOWWWWWW…”

“Does he look alright? Where are your folks? I need help!”

“Pa ‘nd Ma went to heaven, along with our sister Ann,” came a very young voice at a window.

“You hush, Emily! Don’t be tellin’ strangers our business!”

“Don’t you have anyone watching over you?” Han persisted.

“No and we’re not gonna,” came the answer from the boy with the rifle.

“Our families died, too…in the war,” Han told them. “What happened to yours?”

“They got sick. Emily’s in bed and still ain’t well,” the girl from the window told them as she walked out of the house and over to the well. “They weren’t sick like that though. What’s wrong with him?”

“Ginny, come back here! You don’t know them!” yelled the boy.

“Don’t have to listen to you, George. ‘Sides, they aren’t gonna hurt us, are you?”

“No, ma’am. I’m Hannibal Heyes, but everyone calls me just Heyes, except for my cousin here. He calls me Han.”

Ginny held out her hand. “How do, just Heyes? I’m Virginia Hamilton, but everyone calls me Ginny. And your cousin’s name…”

“I’m Jed Curry,” the blond said as he stood up and wiped his hands on his pants.

“You’re not sick?” Ginny asked, puzzled.

“No. Hate to have tricked you, but we knew something wasn’t right and had to find out the truth,” Heyes confessed. “Your folks die recently?”

“Yeah, about a week or two ago.” Ginny glanced sadly at the graves. “All of us had it – could hardly breathe. Ann went first. Ma was so sad… then she up and died. Pa… I guess he didn’t see fit to live without Ma and he quickly succumbed to it, too.”

George cautiously ventured out followed by a mirror image.

“These are my brothers, George and Fred. Boys, meet Heyes and Jed.”

The four boys nodded as they sized each other up.

“Ginny!” cried a voice from inside.

“You stay in bed, Emily! We’re comin’ in,” Ginny called back. “You said you were hungry? We don’t have much, but…”

“We barely have enough to feed ourselves,” grumbled Fred. “We can’t be feedin’ strangers.”

“That’s not how Ma raised us and you know it!” Ginny glared at her brothers. "Now you two come in and have some stew. Made bread this mornin’, too.”

“Sounds good, Ginny, but if you don’t have…” Jed hesitated, along with Heyes.

“Don’t you mind my brothers; the Good Lord will provide!”

“You soundin’ more like Ma every day,” mumbled George. “Just mind, you ain’t our ma and can’t tell us what to do. Nobody can.”

The five teens went into the cabin. Heyes and Jed quickly noted a messy main room with dirty dishes and clothes piled around. There was a large loft and a bed in the corner of the room with a young girl.

“Emily, this is Heyes and Jed.” Ginny pointed to each of the boys.

“I’m five,” Emily said shyly as she hid under the blankets and began to coughing hard.

“Not again!” Ginny poured some water and walked to the bed. “Emily, get out from under the covers and take a drink.”

“We’re hungry!”
“When’s dinner?” asked George and Fred as they sat at the table.

“Looks like you need some help. What can we do?” asked Heyes.

“Well, the stew is on the stove and the bread is on the counter. I’ll be there is a few minutes once I get Emily taken care of,” replied a grateful Ginny.

Heyes and Jed rinsed a few plates in the sink, cut the bread and served up the food.

“’Bout time!” replied one of the twins as they grabbed the bread and ate.

“Might wanna help your sister some than expect her to wait on ya,” grumbled Jed.

“You mind your own business!” George said, with food in his mouth.

Ginny came to the table and shook her head at the behavior of the twins. “Ma would be so ashamed!” She ran from the cabin in tears.

Heyes stood up and followed her out near the graves. He sat down next to Ginny, who was leaning against the barn with her knees pulled up to her chest and her head buried in her dress. “Looks like you have your hands full.”

The girl nodded, looking up with teary eyes. “George and Fred were a handful for Ma and Pa. They don’t listen to me or help.”

“Emily’s five – how old are the rest of you?” Heyes asked.

Ginny sniffed. “I’m fifteen and the twins are nearly fourteen.” She glanced at Heyes. “How old are you two?”

“I’m almost sixteen and Jed’s fourteen.”

“What am I gonna do?” Ginny sobbed as she buried her head again.

“Why can’t you go to town and tell them your folks died?”

Ginny shook her head. “George and Fred have caused problems in town before so they want nothin’ to do with our family.”

Heyes sat quietly for a few minutes. “Me and Jed don’t have nowhere to go. If you want, we could stay and help out some. Town don’t know me. Maybe I could get an odd job to get money for supplies. Jed’s a hard worker, too, and keeps tellin’ me how good he is with a gun. He could shoot us some rabbit or game for dinner. Heck, between me and you, maybe we can make the twins behave.”

“Oh, would you stay?” Ginny looked up, hopeful.

“Sure, I don’t see why not. Com’on inside and get some stew before it’s all gone. We have a lotta work to do to clean up the place.” Heyes stood up, held out his hand and helped her up.

Jed looked up curiously when Heyes and Ginny walked back into the cabin. A smile from his cousin let him know everything would be alright.

“Me and Jed are gonna stay for a while and help out. First thing we need to do is get this place cleaned up. Not fit for pigs as it is now. After dinner, I want Fred and George to do the chores for the animals. Jed, me and you will wash all the dishes. Ginny, you gather all the dirty clothes so we can all help wash ‘em tomorrow.”

“Who put you in charge?!” Fred demanded as he stood up.

“Yeah, who said you could stay?” asked George.

“I did! You wanna do something about it?” Heyes asked confidently.

Jed stood up and walked behind his cousin. “If you’re lookin’ for trouble, you have to deal with the both of us.”

George’s and Fred’s fists went up.

“If you wanna fight, we’re taking it outside. Emily don’t need to get upset.” Heyes glared at them and walked out, followed by Jed.

The twins scowled and went out. They were barely off the porch when they began to swing at Heyes and Jed, who were ready and ducked the punch and got in their own. Five minutes later, the twins were on the ground breathing heavily while Heyes and Jed brushed the dirt off their clothes.

“Get the chores done out here and don’t come back in until they’re done,” Heyes said as he walked back into the house.

Two hours later, the dishes were clean and put away, the clothes were ready for washing, wood was stacked by the stove and fireplace, and Ginny finished sweeping the cabin and porch.

“This looks so much better,” Ginny said as she leaned on the broom and surveyed the inside of the cabin.

“It sure does,” Jed agreed.

Heyes came back from the barn with Fred and George. “Next time, I want the stalls mucked out, too. No being lazy. Everyone has to work and pull their weight around here to make it work.”

* ~ * ~ *

For the next few months, Heyes ran the household with Ginny’s and Jed’s help. The twins reluctantly cooperated, but would disappear for a few days at a time. And little Emily recovered from her illness. Heyes found odd jobs, including working a few hours a week at the town livery, and doubled the money playing a little poker to buy the needed supplies from town. Jed proved his prowess with a gun by bringing back small animals and an occasional deer for meat on the table.

* ~ * ~ *

Heyes finished brushing a horse and looked up, surprised to find the sheriff leaning on a post nearby, watching him.

“Where are you from, son?” the lawman asked as he chewed on a piece of straw.

Heyes wiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve. “Wander around, sir, looking for jobs.”

The sheriff stared at him. “Do you know George and Fred Hamilton?”

Heyes swallowed. “I’ve worked at the Hamilton ranch, for room and board.”

“That’s not what they said.”

“And what did they say, sir?”

“Told me their folks died and you put yourself in charge. Have a gunnie making them do things – unlawful things.”

“Sir?”

“Don’t you act like you don’t know anything!” The sheriff pulled out his gun. “Put the broom down and start walking to my office.”

“But…”

“Do as I told you! We can sort this all out once we’re there.”

Heyes did as he was told and entered the sheriff’s office. He noticed Fred and George in the last cell.

“That’s him! He told us we had to do it, Sheriff Jackson.” George pointed at Heyes.

“Get into the first cell, son.” The sheriff nudged him inside with his gun and then locked the door.

“I told them to do what? Muck out the stalls?” Heyes asked as he grabbed the bars.

“I caught them stealing from the store and pick-pocketing money from our banker.” The sheriff furrowed his brow. “You thinking you’re the head of a small gang out there? Making the Hamilton boys get into more trouble than before?”

“No! I never told them to steal!”

“So if the Hamiltons died, how have you kids been living up there if not by stealing?”

“I’ve been working odd jobs and playing a little poker to buy supplies. The ‘gunnie’ is my cousin, who ain’t much older than these boys. He hunts small game for meat on the table.”

“He’s lyin’, sheriff!” Fred shouted. “He made us steal! Said he would hurt Ginny and Emily if we didn’t do what he said.”

“I don’t know…” the sheriff pondered. “That's two of them against one of you.”

“Go ask Ginny or Jed. They’ll tell you the truth.”

“Maybe they’re afraid of you and would say anything.” The sheriff pulled out his keys and opened the twin’s cell door. “You two can go, but I don’t want to see you involved in any more trouble, you hear? I’ll be contacting the orphanage, as soon as I can, for that little Emily. The rest of you are old enough to fend for yourselves.”

“Yessir!” the twins said in unison as they scampered out of the cell and quickly left the office.

“Son, you’re in a heap of trouble! Wait until the judge comes into town…”

* ~ * ~ *

Jed came out of the trees near the barn with a few quail, but stopped when he heard the twins walking up to the cabin laughing.

“Ginny, we got rid of Heyes! Don’t have to listen to him no more!” bragged George.

“You got rid of him? What do you mean you got rid of him?” Ginny asked, concerned.

Fred laughed. “Sheriff arrested him! Where’s his ‘gunnie’, Jed? Can’t wait to get my hands on him!”

“Arrested? What for?”

“For leadin’ us into trouble, that’s what for!” George sat on a porch chair and leaned back on the back two legs. “Yep, for tellin’ us to steal.”

Fred joined his brother. “Sheriff’s gettin’ the judge. Putting him away for a long time, I ‘magine. And he’s sendin’ Emily to an orphanage. We get to take care of ourselves.”

“Argh… You two!” Ginny went into the house and slammed the door.

* ~ * ~ *

Heyes heard a tapping near his cell window. “Jed? That you?” He stood on his bunk and tried to look out.

“Yeah. You alone, Han? Sheriff is sittin’ down to dinner in the café.”

“Yep… Hey, where are you going?”

A moment later, Jed cautiously entered the sheriff’s office and glanced around. He spotted a large ring of keys on a hook, grabbed them and went by the cells. “One of these the keys?”

“Yeah. Give ‘em to me.” Heyes took the ring from his cousin and put tried several keys in the lock before finding the right one.

“Fred and George came back sayin’ the sheriff arrested you for leadin’ them into trouble.”

“I still can’t believe the sheriff believed them and not me!”

“Sendin’ the judge to put you away for a long time.”

“That what he says, but we just have to get Ginny to tell the sheriff…”

“Han, I think we just gotta get outta here! They ain’t gonna believe the two of us. ‘Sides, I’m in trouble now for helpin’ you escape.”

Heyes opened the cell door and the two hurried to the door. “Just like the old saying…”

Jed opened the office door and peeked outside. “What sayin’?”

“We do a good deed for the Hamilton kids and we get punished for it.”

They rushed out of the office and into an alley.

“That’s a sayin’?”

“Well, that’s not the exact way it goes, but something along those lines. Imagine, ME being a leader to a gang of thieves! Let’s get outta here before the sheriff comes back!”

* ~ * ~ *

Ginny had one hand holding her little sister and another hand holding a carpet bag.

“Where we goin’, Ginny?”

“As far away from Fred and George as we can, Emily. They were born mean and they’re gonna stay mean.”





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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Thu May 31, 2012 10:00 pm

Because of lack of time and their just not gelling, two other ideas are still only half written (hopeful of having them finished soon). And, having not missed a story challenge in the two years (this month) I’ve been on the board, I was scrambling for something to post when the idea to revisit this story popped. It’s a follow-on to my May and December 2011 challenge stories.


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“Watch out!”

Jed froze.

The voice had come from down the track, echoing in the alley between twin trains in the yard, its urgency plain. Screaming, “Omer, watch out! Stop the train!”

Jed heard a sudden squeal of brakes, plaintive wail of a whistle. Steam bellowed from the chimney, shrouding the approaching daylight as if a cloud had descended.

Momentarily faint, the boy took in a breath, not realizing he had held it.

The cacophonous, cymbal-like crash of iron on iron, shrill ululation, calls and screams abated as abruptly as they had started as the barely moving train screeched to a sudden halt. Fog enveloped the first rays of morn.

Through the fleeting, but pervasive, silence – a groan. Another – pained, distressed.

The same voice called. “Omer!?”

Jed looked to either side, stood his ground as the fog slowly dissipated.

A low moan, “O-ver here…” A soft sigh. “Help…”

It echoed in the boy’s ear. The hurt man must be near.

Mindful of the need to be near invisible, and silent, Jed's heart raced. He recalled a time when one of his older brothers had fallen from the loft after a wayward cow bumped the ladder he was on. Pa had dropped everything, come running, as had he. Shooed out of the way, his mind reeled from the memory of the bone breaking through skin. A compound fracture, the doc had called it. The good surgeon had circumvented the need for amputation.

But, how he had longed to help. He could hear his ma, “Mind, stay outside, feed the chickens.” Anything but be in the house...

Jed called, not too loudly, “Mister? Mister Omer? Sir?”

Another groan.

Louder, “Where are ya, Mister Omer?”

Moan. A whimper. “Who, who’s there?”

Jed took a few steps in the direction of the voice. Earnestly, “Just me.”

“Son?”

The boy reached the injured man. Blood oozed from a cut on his forehead. A small pile of logs lay to his left. He had been lucky.

The man’s voice trembled. “Is that you, Billy?”

A brow crinkled, before understanding smoothed it. “No sir. My name’s Jed.”

“Jed?” A pause. “You a friend of my Billy?”

“No sir.” The boy knelt down, withdrew a shirt from his bag. Found the cleanest part of it, spit to moisten it. Gently laid it on the man’s forehead; it quickly turned crimson. Jed grimaced, held the cloth firmly against the ragged wound.

“Argh!”

Jed remained calm. “Sorry, mister, but my ma always did this to stop the bleedin’.”

The man’s arm flailed. Jed grabbed his hand, held it. Omer relaxed.

Weakly, “Thank you, Bill – Jed…”

The boy smiled. That sliver of time, a mere minute, would ingrain his memory.

“No need for thanks, mister.”

Omer moved.

Jed steadied the pressure on the cut. “Ya shouldn’t be movin’. Stayin’ still’s best.”

The man settled. Sad green eyes regarded the lad. “You look like my Billy. ‘Bout the same age.”

The sun radiated off Jed’s countenance. There had been a Billy at the home, one of the boys who left him be, even when Han was not around.

Footsteps interrupted the little world.

The new arrival spoke. “Omer!” He knelt on the side opposite Jed. “Omer, you all right?”

The addressed nodded slowly. “Cray?”

“Yup.” Cray moved Jed’s hand away. “That coulda been a lot worse.”

A sigh. “Yeah. Jed here done give me succor.”

Cray acknowledged the youngster with all too brief a glance. “Now, you lay still and rest easy, Omer. Me and the boy’ll get some help.” He stood, towering over Jed, scowled, “Where’d you come from? Come on, we got some talkin’ to do.”

The boy froze. Pulled roughly to his feet, he stood, then bent to pick up his bag. “Hey! What’cha doin’?”

Unceremoniously half dragged a freight car’s length away, Jed did what he could to keep up with Cray’s long strides.

“Boy, I asked ya a question. Where’d ya come from?”

The youngster contemplated the ground. Two hands shook him.

“I expect an answer!”

Sotto voce, “Kansas.”

“Speak up. Didn’t hear ya.”

His voice caught. “Kansas.”

“Look at me when I speak to ya, boy!”

Jed gulped. He raised his head. “Kansas.”

“Kansas? How the hell did ya…So we have a tramp here, do we? Lookin’ for a free ride, are ya? Ya want free shelter, we got a nice little storeroom in the stationmaster’s office which should suit ya just fine till the sheriff gets here.”

Adrenaline rushed. Jed sprang into action, stepped on the man’s foot while twisting and bending to bite a hand holding him. Free of his captor, he bolted, and ran. And ran.

“Hold it, boy!”

Finally out of sight of his pursuer, the boy viewed the landscape. Iron rails and wooden box cars hemmed him in. Shadows fell. It was cooler now. Light did not penetrate the ironbound.

“Get that kid!”

“Where?”

“He’s somewhere in here. Couldn’t’a gotten far.”

Heavy boot steps.

Jed trembled. What would Han do? “Han…”

A train groaned. It moved.

Jed ran. Grabbed an opening. Hauled himself up. Fell inside. Lay on his belly. Dropped his head into his arms.

Moist eyes looked up. Watched the world rush by – away from the river, and Kansas.

And Han.


Last edited by Remuda on Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:08 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Thu May 31, 2012 11:56 pm


"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"
By Shenango



The two young men sat in the corner of the saloon, each nursing a beer. The younger of the two, a baby-faced blond teenager, kept his head huddled over the glass, not looking at much around him, but with full awareness of all that was going on in the room.

The older of the pair, a dark haired, dark-eyed boy was just out of his teens, and had developed a way of being completely aware of his surroundings. To his friend, one glance would show the gears turning in his quick mind, some sort of plan or scheme simmering inside. He hoped whatever it was, it would work itself out soon; preferably before the beer went to their heads due to their empty stomachs.

A man walked in just then, looking a bit like a cowhand to most of the room. The dark haired boy watched him intently, until his young friend caught his eye.

"Not him, Heyes."

"Why not?"

"His gun's tied down. He's not just an ordinary cowhand; he might be dangerous."

Heyes looked back at the man he was watching, then back to his young friend. "Good eyes, Jed."

"I know," Jed nodded. "Long as you remember that I do, we'll be okay."

The newcomer in the room looked around from the bar, waiting for his drink. The pair in the corner weren't beyond his notice; they were very familiar to him. He scrubbed a hand down over his face, stopping to brush his mustache as he casually glanced their way. He recognized the look, after all it hadn't been too long ago that he had seen it himself in the mirror.

Luckily, the room was pretty crowded, so he walked to the table with the two young men. "Howdy, boys. It's pretty busy in here and it's been a long day. Mind if I join you and sit a spell?"

Heyes and Jed exchanged glances and the stranger could see the inner workings of a silent conversation between them. Suspicion, a little anxiety, and some open fear ran in order over their expressions, but he knew how to calm them. "I could buy the next round if that would help make up your minds."

Jed nodded to Heyes and then Heyes spoke. "Sure. Have a chair."

Reaching for the chair, the man removed his hat. "Allow me to introduce myself. Name's Lom Trevors. Who are you boys?"

"Name's Heyes and this is Jed," Heyes answered him.

Lom nodded and signaled the bartender for another round. "You sure you're old enough to be in here, Jed?" he asked with a smile. "You barely look older than a kid."

Jed started to tense up when Heyes put a hand on his forearm. "Jed's old enough to be here. We both are," he answered, matter of factly.

"No offense meant, Jed," Lom apologized quickly, "Just kinda stating the obvious."

The bartender arrived and put three fresh glasses of beer down on the table. As he finished, Lom spoke. "Do you have a kitchen here? I'm kinda hungry." Looking at his companions, he added, I think we all are, right fellas?"

Knowing they didn't have the money to pay for a meal, an apprehensive look crossed their faces. "My treat," Lom said.

The bartender looked at Lom. "We got a real good fried chicken special today. Comes with biscuits, gravy, green beans and potatoes and a slice of pie for dessert."

A low rumble could be heard and Lom chuckled as he spoke. "We'll take three of those. My treat." Looking at the two he said, "That is, if you boys don't mind me treating you tonight."

Hearing no objection, the bartender walked away. As soon as he did, young Jed spoke. "Mr. Trevors, we can't pay you back; ain't got the money right now."

"I understand. Would you two be willing to work for a meal? I need some help on a job."

"What kind of job, Mr. Trevors," Heyes asked.

"First of all, it's Lom, not Mr. Trevors. Secondly, I need to have a couple of sharp hands to help with some guard work. Think you can handle it?"

"Depends, Lom," Heyes answered him. "What is it you need to have guarded?"

"I agreed to help with the Church social. There's a pie tastin' contest that's a big event here. So big, in fact, that some of the competition is pretty fierce."

"Fierce how," Jed asked.

"Seems there are these two sisters, Mary and Isabel, who just love to compete with each other. Nothing ever stands in the way of them trying to out-do the other. It's gotten so bad between them that they've been known to try and sabotage each other's chances by messing with the entries into the contest."

"How do they do that," Jed asked.

"Anything from adding extra lemons to the finished pies to feeding them to kids before the contest."

"And you need guards for this contest," Jed asked.

"Yep," Lom answered. "You two look like you can handle a pair of matronly sisters. I figure if I feed you first, you won't be tempted to eat the contest entries before the contest and keep things on the up and up. Can I count on you?"

"Yeah," chuckled Heyes. "We'll take the job, Lom. Just something I gotta ask you first, though."

"What's that?"

"How do you know all this happens and what made you think we'd be able to help?"

Lom chuckled. "This is the second year I've had to guard the contest entries. Last year, I learned my lesson: as far as this contest goes no good deed goes unpunished. This year, I'm smart enough to get help and you two look like you can handle the job just fine."

Dinner arrived and Lom, Heyes and Jed talked some more. Lom told them how he'd recently decided to change professions and gave up his former unsavory ways to take a job as a deputy. They let him talk and listened, taking it all in. By the time dessert was served, Heyes and Jed had made a new friend and had all the details on how to keep the peace at the contest. Lom also agreed to throw in a share in his hotel room for the couple days until the contest and a meal allowance. When they questioned him, he assured them that it was all being covered by the church and the town fathers.

~~~~~~

"You remember that contest, Lom," the Kid asked.

Lom chuckled. "Yeah, Kid, I do. I tried to warn you not to accept the second place entry as a bribe."

Heyes laughed and poured them another drink. "Well if it's any consolation to you, Lom, we now know what you tried to teach us about no good deed going unpunished."

"You finally learned that lesson," he asked them.

"Sure did, Lom," Heyes answered him. "Why do you think we came to you to go to the governor for us to ask for our amnesty?"

Kid laughed and they raised their glasses to drink a toast. "Here's to no good deeds going unpunished."

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PostSubject: Re: May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished   Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:14 am

Wheat and Preacher were riding as though the very hounds of hell were on their trail, whipping and spurring those poor horses into giving all they had to get them back safely to the Hole—or die trying! Hamilton’s horse was still galloping along with the others, and though he was tired as well he didn’t have the extra weight of a person on his back so he was doing better than they were, besides, he wanted to get home too.
The two men barely spoke to each other, focusing more on the ground ahead of them to avoid pit falls, and occasionally sending nervous glances behind them to check on the progress of the posse. They knew that the pursuers were there and on fresh horses too, so why couldn’t the outlaws see them? Why were they holding back? They must know that if their quarry made it to their sanctuary the race would be over, the outlaws would be safe. No one has ever been able to force their way into the Hole, it’s just never been done! So what was going on? It was almost as though the posse was letting them get away.
This situation was more nerve wracking than having the posse right on their tail and shooting at them! It didn’t make sense and the closer the two men got to Devil’s Hole the more anxious they became. Then two things happened almost simultaneously that caused the outlaws to pull up short and reconsider their options.
They were still a couple of miles away from the approach to their hideout when they came galloping up a hill and round a corner and almost plowed full force into a group of loose horses that had been stopped there to graze. That was odd in itself, but then the fact that two of them were fully tacked up made it more than just odd; it made it scary.
All the horses reacted to the sudden intrusion, the loose ones dancing about with heads and tails up and blowing their displeasure. The two men were just getting their horses pulled about and headed in the right direction when they both froze and then felt real fear tingling down their spines. Black smoke was billowing up into the air right above where they knew the buildings of their hideout were located!

“What the hell?!” Wheat swore.

The two men exchanged worried looks and then realizing that the Hole was no longer safe they turned their tired horses away from the access trail and taking the chance, because they had no other choice, they galloped them out across open country. They hoped they could reach that other grove of trees before that posse put in an appearance and then get onto the less known tracks that were hidden in amongst those gulleys’s and then hopefully get their pursuers off their trail.
All the horses joined up then and went for a race, but the gamble they took did not pay off and the race was destined to be short lived. They didn’t hear the rifle shot over the thundering sound of hooves pounding into dirt, but they both saw Hamilton’s horse stumble and then go down in a tangle of flailing legs and an explosion of dirt. The loose horse coming up right behind it could not stop or maneuver out of the way in time and plowed right into the mass at full gallop, causing it to do a complete full summersault through the air before crashing down heavily onto its back.
That was all the outlaws saw of that wreck as they galloped onwards and then Wheat felt a shock wave go through his own mount when the animal took a hit in the shoulder. The horse grunted and then crumpled into the ground, rolling over onto its side it began kicking violently in its fear and anguish and futile attempts to regain its feet. Wheat was thrown clear and then scrambled to get out of the animal’s range, nearly getting trampled by the other loose horses coming up from behind.
Preacher spun around and galloped back to his leader. The two men locked arms and Wheat was hauled up behind Preacher’s saddle and they were off and running again. Then bullets were striking the ground in front of the horses’ feet causing the animals to put on the brakes and pivot to get away from their invisible attackers. They were headed back towards Devil’s Hole, but there was nothing they could do about it—the posse was on to them, pushing them in the direction they wanted the outlaws to go.
Preacher knew that his horse could not keep up the fast pace while carrying two men and he was doing his best to maneuver them into position alongside one of the loose but saddled horses so that Wheat could transfer over. A dangerous move to make while at full gallop, but neither of them saw another choice—all stoppers were out and they were going for broke!
They actually got into position and Preacher was able to reach out and grab hold of the loose horse’s bridle and though that horse laid its ears back and tried to kick at them, Wheat made the jump and with a frantic grab for the saddle horn was actually able to stay on! At that point Preacher hauled his horse’s head around and again angled it away from the direction of the hideout. But by this time they were in range of the look out station and even above the sound of thundering hooves and the wind in their ears, they could hear the boom of the Sharpe’s rifle letting fly!
Preacher’s horse went down this time, the heavy bullet going right through Preacher’s leg, shattering the bone and then carrying on through the horse’s ribcage and blowing apart its lungs. The horse went down in a heap, like a lead weight with an anchor attached to it and Preacher hit the dirt and rolled clear and then tried to stand up. Wheat was attempting to get back to him, to return the previous favour, but the Sharpe’s spoke again and Preacher’s body jerked as the bullet zinged through his upper chest. He collapsed down beside his horse and lay where he fell.
Wheat cursed again and hauling his horse around he spurred it back up to a gallop and raced across the open ground, making for the trees Suddenly he found himself with the advantage for a change; he was riding a relatively fresh horse and he knew the lay of the land like the back of his proverbial hand. He knew that the posse was closing the gap between them and could feel the wiz of bullets flying passed his ears. He also suspected that whoever was wielding that Sharpe’s rifle would be making a run at him from his other side, hoping to cut the outlaw off and prevent his escape. But Wheat knew he was going to make it—if he could just get to those trees before another lucky shot took either him or his horse down.
He wished that the last of the loose horses would stop following him as they were making it pretty hard for him to disappear into the woodlands. The tracks they were all leaving and the noise they were making would keep the posse right on his trail until they ran him into the ground. If he’d still had ammunition for his revolver, or a rifle with this saddle he would shoot the horses in order to be rid of them, but he had neither so he just had to keep going with the herd in tow.
He finally made the trees and pushed his horse along a steep and narrow trail that he knew led down into a gulley, from there he could back track and find the head of another well hidden trail that would take him across a narrow creek and then into a dark valley. Now that particular valley had a real narrow entrance and to anyone who didn’t really know the land it would appear to simply be a dent in the rocks with a grown over trail leading to a dead-end. But Wheat knew better and as the sound of pursuit fell further and further behind he made for that narrow valley and the only chance he had left to get out of this alive.

The gloaming was settling in over the landscape by the time Wheat finally felt that he had covered his trail enough that the posse would not be able to track him further that night. He trotted his horse through the narrow creek, up the far bank and then led his small herd towards the narrow valley entrance.
That night, inside his hidden valley Wheat finally felt safe enough to stop for a few hours rest. He didn’t dare make a fire, but he untacked the two horses that had been wearing saddles and turning them loose to graze, he used the underside of the saddles as a seat and a backrest and then wrapped himself up in the two saddle blankets. He was hungry and exhausted, but at least he was warm. And it wasn’t raining—thank goodness!
Sitting there all bundled up he assessed his situation. He had no food, no rifle and no ammunition for his revolver, nor did he have any money to purchase any of the above items. Devil’s Hole was no longer a safe hold out and he had no idea how many, if any of his gang were still at liberty or even alive for that matter. He had four horses with him and two saddles so he could sell most of them—he only needed one horse and one saddle after all. But he would need money, for sure, and a place to hole up for awhile and wait for things to settle down.
Then he needed a plan. His eyes hardened and his jaw tightened as anger once again took over his thoughts. Damn that Curry! That bloody no good, back-stabbing son-of-a-bitch! I’m gonna kill that bastard. I don’t know how, but somehow I’ll find a way. I’m gonna get him for this if it’s the last thing I do!



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May 2012 - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
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