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 Feb 16 - A fair day's work...

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Calico

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PostSubject: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:03 am

Greetings all from your unproductive - but still wanting to be allowed her space in the basket - Calico Cat.

Not sure where this month's challenge came from, but suspect I am making it all too easy for you with...


"A Fair Day's Work ..."


Sharpen both your wits and your pencils, and let the disappointment of unremunerated ex-outlaws, or the shirking of accepted tasks begin.











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Cal

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PostSubject: A Fair Days Work - challenge version   Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:02 pm

This is a much edited beginning of a longer story (about 7000 words) that is written and awaiting a bit of tidying up before I post it on the Stories site (by the end of the month). I hope it still hangs together as an interesting tale, not too bare bones and makes you want to follow its progress. brb
Cal

A Fair Days Work (Challenge version)
By Cal


“This sure is a nice friendly town Heyes.  A man could feel right at home here.”  Kid smiled over to his cousin, “Why don’t we tell Lom we’ll be staying for a while.”

Heyes looked the street up and down, took in the three saloons, a couple of hotels, one was quite swanky looking, and the lack of a jailhouse and agreed, “Yep.  It’s our kind of town alright; plenty of miners’ eager to be parted from their money, plenty of watering holes and no sheriff’s office.”  

Heyes tries not to be too successful at any one poker table and tries his luck at different establishments throughout the week.  Kid has other delights to occupy him but still manages to fit in some gambling.  The smiles on their faces show us that they’ve definitely been winning more than they’ve been losing.  In fact, Heyes has attracted notice.  Three gentlemen in quite sharp suits, one with a tied down gun, watch Heyes one night as he crosses the street between saloons.

“I think it’s time we reeled in our fish.  He must be packing a sizable wad of cash by now.” Says Bowyer, the gunslinger.  “That gunnie he’s hired to watch his back has got real distracted.”

“He’s been real clever, rotating tables like that,” added Crimps, the mechanic.  “I don’t even think he’s cheatin’!”  

The third companion watched as Heyes disappeared through the batwings.  “We’ll get that idiot Hacker to invite him to Saturdays game then.” Marsden was the brains behind the ring.  “He’s the only mark worth taking in this town, we’ll work him Saturday then head straight out.  By the time he’s worked it out, and set his gunnie to find us, we’ll be long gone.”

Later that night Heyes was approached by Jim Hacker, proprietor of the swanky hotel and also the owner of a bad gambling habit.  He flattered Heyes with his successes at the tables and wondered if a higher stakes game would prove more stimulating.  Heyes, full dimpled smile on his lips, is nodding his assent.  

“This town just got a little bit more interestin’, Kid.” Heyes is telling Curry over breakfast the next day.  “I got me an invite over to the swanky hotel over there, for Saturday night.  Seems that’s where the big boys play their cards.”  

“Do you need me there?” asks Kid, something tells me there’s something, or should that be someone, he’d rather be doing Saturday night.  Heyes sees it too and shakes his head grinning ruefully.  “No Kid, I think I can manage this once.”

Ooooooooooo

Saturday night

Heyes introduces himself to the other four gentlemen.  Heyes makes a particular note of Bowyer’s well used, tied down gun.  He suspects having Kid with him would have been a shrewder move.

We cut to the table, amply supplied with drinks and cigars.  The five men study their cards, the game is well underway.

Heyes is winning some pots, but loosing others he thinks he should have won.  Jim Hacker is not a very good player but seems to be holding himself even, maybe even ahead by the amount of the fee he’s negotiated himself with the Marsden ring perhaps.  

Heyes is suspecting that one of his fellow players is cheating and starts looking for signs.  

As the pots get bigger he loses more often.  He knows there’s a problem with the deck because cards he’s sure can’t come up again yet, are turning up in other player’s hands as they need them.  Trouble is none of his opponents are consistently being favoured by this ill deal, so he can’t settle on who is cheating.  He remembers the tied down gun on Bowyer’s hip and doesn’t like the odds of calling anyone to account.

As his funds diminish he concentrates on not losing too heavily.  

He only has a limited success at this and by the early hours of the morning, as he returns to their room in one of the less swanky hotels, he is feeling fleeced but still is unable to decide how it’s been done, or by who.

Ooooooo

Curry has spent the night away from their hotel room and returns at sun up next morning

Kid looks up at their hotel room from the main street.  If he goes up now he’s sure to wake Heyes, who probably played cards till the small hours anyway.  He decides to go practice his fast draw. He strides to the livery to saddle up his big black gelding.  

On the other side of the livery Flat-nose Walters was just stretching himself awake in the hay loft.  He glanced down at the blond cowboy clucking at his horse as he saddled it, and froze, ducking to keep out of sight.  

As Curry mounts up and heads off Walters stands just inside the barn, one hand on his back the other scratching through his long black hair, “Well I’ll be!” He says.

Oooooooooooooo

Kid has found a gully surrounded with trees that should kill some of the sound.  

He’s set up pine cones again on a log.  The Colt in his holster, always clean, has been inspected, adjusted and filled with bullets.  The draw is a blur the pine cones dust.

“Sheesh!” came an appreciative whistle from behind Kid.  He spun round pointing the now empty Colt at Flat-Nose Walters.  Flat-nose put his hands up with a grin, “I think you’re even faster now Curry.  That was a privilege to watch.”  

Kid flicked the chamber open and began filling it with bullets from his gun belt.  “As I remember it, you weren't so bad yourself Walters.” Kid sounds wary but he’s certainly feeling better now his full Colt is back in its holster.  

“Saw you at the livery, I followed…” Walters started.   Curry looked sceptical.  “OK I waited for your first shots and came to find you.  Wondered what you were doing here.”

“Practising.” Curry waved unnecessarily towards the log.  

Flat-nose decided to be frank.  In a flat monotone he asked “Are you here piping a job Curry, like maybe a nice lucrative payroll heist?”

Kid looked at Walters.  He still wore his gun low and tied down.  When he’d run with the Rooster outfit he had had quite a reputation as a fast gun, but they’d heard he’d left the gang sometime back, got a girl, and was out of the game.  

Curry suspected maybe old Flat-nose had joined a new gang, one that was planning a payroll heist here abouts, and was trying to warn him and Heyes off.  He didn’t like others deciding what he should or shouldn't do.  He squared up to Flat-nose, thumbs resting on his gun belt.  Flat-nose twitched around the eyes.  

“Walters,” drawled Curry “I’m outta that game now.  I’m not here looking for any trouble but if…”

Walters let out the breath he’d been holding and smiled “That’s what I’d heard, but I had to be sure.  You still run with Hannibal Heyes Kid?”  This suddenly friendly turn confused Kid for a minute, he wasn’t going to admit Heyes was around, “No we split up when we decided to get out of the business.  Made sense.  We’re less easy to spot that way.”

Walters nodded.  “Saw your horse with that chestnut mare, thought it might have been Heyes’.”

“Oh, no.” Curry thought quickly. “That belongs to this gambler I’m working for; thinks he needs protection.  He’s been winning all over town this week.”

“He that dark fella, ‘bout this tall, wears a scruffy black hat with fancy silver Conchos?” Curry nodded, “Yeah, that’s him.”  

“Well if he’s your employer you got problems Kid.  I saw him headed over to the big hotel last night with them three card sharps, don’t think he’ll have a dime on him this morning, hope he paid you in advance.” Flat-nose shook his head.

“Card sharps?” Alarm bells were ringing for Curry.  

“Yeah, Marsden’s crew. Crimps is one of the best mechanics in the business and I wouldn't want to go up against Bowyer.”  Curry had heard of Bowyer, if Heyes had called cheat…  

Flat-nose watched the worry grow on Kid’s face and assumed it was for the loss of earnings.  “I just might have the answer for you Kid.  I came East on my own to get us a nest egg. I’m married now to the prettiest woman on God’s Earth.  I got a real well paid job. $500 a day, and there’s room for another man if he’s the right man, and your what I call the right man.” His eyebrows raised in question.

Kid was mounting, the horse already moving.  Walters scrambled for his horse, and catching up to Curry, said “Payroll guards for the mines.  They pay $500 a day.”  Curry studied Walters again.  He didn’t look that desperate.  “Flat-nose, that’s suicide.”  Walters looked down at his hands on the reins, “She’s pregnant, and there ain’t too many high paying jobs for ex-outlaws Kid.  Ain’t too easy going straight.” He looked up into two very understanding blue eyes.  “I think she’d rather have you alive than dead.” Kid stated simply. “If you’d join up too Kid, there’s not a gang round here would dare go for that pay roll…”

“I can’t take a job as Kid Curry Flat-nose! My names Jones now,” Kid shook his head in disbelief.  “No one would know I was me…Jones wouldn’t be much of a deterrent now would he, besides I got a lot of livin’ to do yet.”  

Kid kicked his horse on towards town.  Flat-nose held back, he was going to need to get some practice in himself.

“If you change your mind we ain’t leaving till first light.  You can find me at the livery” he called to Curry’s back.

Oooooooooooooo

Heyes was pacing.  

The only explanation that made any sense was that they were all in on it.  That would mean a ring.  Would a ring be working the backwaters of the mining district like this?  Why not? Hadn’t him and Kid said themselves what a nice spot this was; miners ripe for plucking and no law.  If he, Hannibal Heyes, hadn’t been able to spot the tricks and passes they used then they must have been the best.

Silky said the best ring was led by a fella called Paul Marsden, which would make those other two guys Bowyer and Crimps.  Could he have just been turned over by the Marsden ring? Crimps himself!   The best mechanic in the business.  Part of Heyes was in awe of the rings reputation, part of him was mad as hell and sore for his losses.  

The pacing continued…

Curry listened outside the door, what he heard from inside the room made his eyes roll.  Heyes probably hadn’t slept a wink.  He opened the door to see his partner’s drawn face as he scrubbed fingers through his long dark hair as he paced.  

Heyes’ eyes locked onto Kids, he’d missed his sounding board. “Kid,” Heyes pulled Curry into the room, “You’re not going to believe this but…”

“You’ve been turned over by the Marsden ring” stated Curry matter of factly.

“Yes! Yes? How did you know that?” Heyes eyes are wide, “I’ve only just worked it out myself, and I was there!” Heyes looked at Curry incredulously, hands on hips.

“Did you ever meet Flat-nose Walters from the Roosters?” Curry asked.  Heyes wants to know what that has to do with anything, he sends his cousin an exasperated look.  He hasn’t had any sleep remember. He nods his head to move this along, “I’ve heard of him, thought he’d left the business.”

“He has.  Got a girl, got married. Oh, and she’s pregnant.” Curry wants to prove he’s been listening.  

Heyes looks fit to blow, “I got turned over by the Marsden ring, they’ve got all our money…I don’t want to hear the parish news Kid!”

Pacing resumes.  

Curry watches.  “Well Flat-nose is here.  He saw you going into the Hotel last night with Marsden, Bowyer and Crimps so he told me you’d be flat broke this morning.  He thinks you’re my employer, just some gambler I hooked up with.  I told him you an’ me had split up when we decided to go straight.”

“Well gee Kid…thanks for the warning…but I’d like to point out…YOU’RE A LITTLE LATE!”  

(Come on now Heyes, you lost the money, you shouldn’t take it out on the Kid.)  

Kid agrees with us, but he didn’t move a muscle, dealing with Heyes’ temper was second nature to him.  “What do you want to do about it Heyes?” he asked quietly.  

More pacing, more hair scrubbing.  

Heyes talks to himself,

“The Marsden ring can’t be beat.  They’re the best in the business.  Absolutely the best there is at their game…Wait a minute…They’re the best at their own game…Can’t be beat at their own game…”

Heyes’ eyes narrow.  Anyone else hearing a Hannibal Heyes plan springing to life…

Oooooooooooo

“Because we need the money!” shouts Kid. Sheesh, he hadn’t expected to be arguing for the near suicidal job of body guarding the mines payroll, but here he was.  

“That’s not a job Kid, that’s a death sentence.”  Heyes is feeling exhausted.  “Every gang for miles around knows this is the last bank before the mines.  They will have seen the strong box being taken to the bank in broad daylight yesterday, so it don’t take a genius to know it’s got to be taken North to pay the miners sometime this week.  All they got to do is watch and wait.”

Kid's eyes narrow, ‘yeah, they’d have to be in town to pipe the job’ he thought.  “It’s $500 a day, and we’re flat broke…” Kid lets this hit home. “You haven’t stopped thinking about the Mardens rolling you and I don’t think you’re getting our money back without a stake.  I reckon $500 a day is real good pay for a fair day’s work.  Works not that easy to come by for us ex-outlaws remember, and Flat-nose was pretty good with that gun of his when I was up at the Roost that time.  Maybe with the two of us…” Curry hasn’t even convinced himself yet.  

“You’re gonna get your head blowed off!” Heyes looks frantic. “I won’t even get the money less you ask for it in advance…” Heyes stops under a Curry glare.  “It’s half in advance, and I’m leaving at daybreak.”  

Kid wants Heyes to stop worrying, but knows that’s a lame hope.  Maybe he can give him something else to think about.  “If you want to help me stay alive on that mine run then there’s something you can do for me…”

Oooooooooooo

Not high noon…but wouldn’t that have been fantastic.

“Jones” calls Heyes, standing in the middle of the street, “You know what I’ve come for!”

Kid stops, standing stock still on the boardwalk, “I’ve told you before Smith, I don’t settle my battles on the street where everyone can gawp.  You got something to say to me, let’s take this inside.”

“Oh, you’d like that Jones. Think you can get the drop on me huh…No, here’s just fine by me.  We’re gonna settle this here and now, just the two of us.”  

Quite a crowd had formed.

“Mister you don’t want to go up against…” Flat-nose had joined the crowd “…Him.  Really Mister you should back down now…”

“Shut up! This is between me and Jones” spat Heyes, never taking his eyes off the blond gunslinger who was purposefully striding to the middle of the street to face him, pulling on a snug fitting soft leather glove.

“His name ain’t Jones…” Flat-nose sounded frantic “That’s Ki…”

“Keep out of this friend.” Drawled Curry laconically, cutting off the name. “Sometimes a man’s too stupid to listen.” He stared, he waited, he barely moved.  

A big crowd had gathered now.  The partners could hear the whispering.  

Calling out Kid Curry, the notorious gunslinger, was a new experience for Hannibal Heyes. He was actually sweating.  They stood and stared at each other for several minutes. Tension built.  Heyes knew he had to make this look good and, stupidly, he was consciously trying not to do the twisty thing with his shoulders as he went for his Schofield.

Kid’s Colt was in his hand and Heyes’ gun and belt were on the floor before Heyes had released the breath he shouldn’t have been holding.  He schooled his face to anger while inside, he was congratulating his younger cousin for not shooting him in the leg.  

Gasps went round the crowd followed by another wave of whispering.  

Flat-nose ran to Heyes and grabbed his arm dragging him off the street.  “You don’t know how lucky you are fella, why if he’d a wanted…Well you should be a bit more careful who you employ in future, if you’re not fixing on paying him…”

Kid twirled the Colt back into the holster with an extra flourish, stood for just a few seconds while his adversary cleared the street, and then walked slowly to the saloon for a whiskey.

Ooooooooooo

“Don’t ever ask me to do that again!” Heyes looks shaken. “And you owe me the cost of a good repair.  I like that holster, it’s comfortable!”  Kid is hiding a smirk, badly. “I didn’t damage your gun did I.”

Kid was feeling a bit churned up himself, not only was he about to leave on the dangerous payroll job, but he hadn’t relished using his only kin for shooting practice either. “The bank have split the pay load; we’re only going up to Brown Top today, should get there before nightfall.  Here’s half the money.”

“Well let’s hope our little floor show made any would-be bushwhackers think long and hard before they decide to go up against you and Flat-nose Kid.” Heyes pocketed the money.  He didn’t look at all convinced that their stunt would be enough to stop a planned raid.  

“Be careful.”

To be continued....
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WichitaRed
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PostSubject: Fair Day's Pay Challenge: Wichita Red: Under Brilliant Skies   Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:10 pm

Under Brilliant Skies
by Wichita Red

Kid slid from his saddle, he was dusted so thick there was no color to him other than brown. Pulling the tack from his horse, who looked just as tired as him, he led the sorrel to the Red River for a drink. Staring blankly at the running water, he pulled off his gloves, 'I oughta wash up.' Taking off his hat, he ran a hand through his sweat, matted curls and put his hat back on. 'I'm too tired,' and with this thought he set to using his gloves to beat a measure of the dirt from him, until he stirred up a good enough sized cloud that his horse turned to look at him.  

Rubbing the gelding's wide blaze, Kid said, "Mack, bet you're ready for a bait of grain."

Walking to the hitch line, Kid's pale, blue eyes roved across the herd, all along the line cattle were folding their legs and bedding down. Patting Mack's shoulder, the horse exhaled out a hard, long sigh, "I agree, no matter what they pay us it ain't worth this hellish life," Kid said, tying his gelding to the line. Dumping a pile of feed into a pan, he checked the horses feet and rubbed him down as Mack chewed with his eyes half closed. "All right, pal, I'll see you in the morning."

The glow of the campfire lead Kid to the wagons and off to the side, he found his partner, shoving around whatever was inside his bent up metal plate. "What's Arbuckle serving tonight?"

"I ain't been able to identify it. But, thinkin' by the gravel I been spitting out, it must be that one who broke her leg in a hole and was trampled by the rest."

"Hmmm, great." Kid shook his head, "never thought I would get tired of eating beef, more though, I'm damn tired of looking at their backsides."

Heyes lifted an eyebrow and nodded, "you want rest of this, Thaddeus, I think, I've had my fill."

Kid frowned, "yeah...let me get my own share first."  

"Thaddeus..."

Kid looked back to see Heyes holding up his coffee cup, "I'd say your legs ain't broke, but as many cattle as we've lost that way on this trip, it might be a curse on you."

"Feeling proddy?"

"Feeling damn tired of the long hours, the short sleep, and the lousy food; that's what I'm feeling."

"Another week and we'll hit Tulsa." Heyes said, rolling his shoulders and offering up the empty cup once more. "Then we can collect our pay and move on."

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to that big roll of fifty dollars," Kid snarled, snagging hold of the empty cup.

But, Heyes held tight long enough to slow his partner down, "you're the one who saved Miss Birdie's handbill and brought it to me, don't be forgetting that."
Kid half sighed, half snorted, "I know, I ain't blaming you, Joshua. Just didn't think it would mean working all blamed day and night to barely fill our pockets."

"I know, Kid, and I'm sorry, I am."

"Ain't your fault," Kid answered, taking his leave to refill Heyes' cup, get one of his own, and a plate of whatever Arbuckle had decided was worth simmering in a pot.

On returning, he found Heyes in a new spot, further from the wagon.

"Spread your bedroll out." Heyes said taking the offered coffee and nodding toward a stand of cedars, "should shelter you from the wind."

Taking a seat by his partner, Kid offered a lopsided grin, "Thanks...you on night guard, again?"

"Yeah, don't bother me none; kind of like being out under the stars." They sat in comfortable silence, lost in their own thoughts for a time. Swirling his cup, Heyes took a final drink and threw the grounds out. "Kid, I know you wanted to take that other job...just had a bad feeling about it was all."

Kid nodded, shoveling down the last of his gritty stew.

Standing, Heyes pulled on his gloves, "you can choose the next job."

As Heyes strolled off to the picket lines, Kid hollered, "Joshua, I'm holding you to that."

Raising a hand in acknowledgment, Heyes kept walking, till he disappeared into the dark.

Finishing his own coffee, Kid pulled off his boots, tossed his hat aside, and curled up in his bedroll, asleep before he even heard Heyes ride out.

"Jones!"

Kid sat up, looking blearily around, his blanket falling in his lap.

"Roll out, we need extras on guard tonight."

Growling, Kid slammed on his hat and shook out his boots.

"Move it, Jones."

"Don't you see I am! Willie, go hassle someone else." Kid gruffed, hefting his saddle and heading for his horse. As he squeezed in alongside Mack, the line horses shifted blowing and stomping their feet, "Sorry boys, work calls."  

Back up in the saddle, he scanned the quiet herd and shook his head. Riding along the side, he kept an eye out but did not see his partner anywhere. Looking up at the blazing, bright prairie moon, he took a breath, with the dust finally settled the scent of sage and cedar filled the night. From the far side, he could hear singing. Taking up position on the right flank he found a place for Mack to stand, 'can't make out the words, but I think it's Heyes.' His eyes drooped and shifting deeper into his saddle seat, he slipped into a half-doze.

When off in the distance, he saw a flash. Sitting straighter, Kid scanned the sky, 'was that lightening?" Moving Mack into a walk, he saw the herd was still nothing but a field of humped backs.  

Then thunder rumbled across the plain, Kid smelled rain and so did the longhorns. They shifted, their heads rising up.

Suddenly the wind whooshed in with tumbleweeds spinning across the hard ground and a brilliant, explosion of streaks ripped across the sky followed by a deafening thunder clap. The cattle leapt to their feet, huffing and shifting against each other.

Kid's nostrils flared, he swallowed hard, thunder and lightning was all around him; the sweet smell of sage replaced by sulfur, rank and strong, burning his nose and making his skin crawl. Standing in his stirrups, he trotted Mack to the front of the herd, 'where the hell is Heyes?'
Then all at once the longhorns bellowed, breaking into a jogging trot. Slamming his heels to Mack, Kid pushed at the leaders, trying to turn them while crying out, "STAMPEDE!"

Dust swirled up so thick, it fogged the area, confusing kid; but all about him were scared cattle and he knew he needed to turn them. Hollering and flapping his lariat, he kept twisting Mack away from the deadly horns. When with a crash the sky opened up, turning all to mud.

The cattle surged forward, goring each other in their fear. Whipping his coiled lariat across Mack's rump, trying to get his horse clear of the moving herd. Kid could feel his heart pounding, his blood felt on fire and then in the blink of an eye, Mack was hit hard and the horse stumbled. Before the big sorrel could gather himself, he slid in the mud.

Jerking at the gelding and knowing he was going down, Kid gulped out "Ah, hell!" throwing himself free of his horse as the animal plunged sideways.

Rolling over, Kid scrambled to his knees, the lightning flashed and he could see the longhorns. It looked like thousands of them, 'Lord, I'm fixin' to die in this here stampede."

When just as they piled over him, Kid sat bolt upright, huffing for air and patting his chest. "I'm in my bedroll," looking left and right, he could see the cedars and the chuck wagon silhouetted against the banked campfire. "I was only dreaming."

Laying back, he released a shuddering breath and  lightening ripped across the sky. The rumble of thunder following close on its heels and throwing off his blanket, Kid leapt to his feet.

All across the prairie the humps were becoming cattle, they were bawling and moving. The ground was beginning to tremble and from somewhere in the darkness Kid heard Heyes cry out, "STAMPEDE!"


I have to thank the great artist Chris LeDoux for this quick story, I was driving home singing to his music and went....'ah hell that would make a good story'.  Thanks Mister LeDoux.

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PostSubject: A Fair Day's Work   Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:44 am

A Fair Day's Work.



“ Heyes, I've been thinking -”  said Kid.

“Well, that makes a change,” said Heyes.

Kid paused for a moment, but decided to ignore this interruption.

“- I've been thinking. Of all jobs, being on a cattle-drive is the worst. Cows are the stupidest, stubbornest, contrary-est creatures ever. If you want them to go one way, they can sense it and they automatically go another.  You feel as if you practically have to push them every inch of the way to the end of the journey.  And it goes on for so long! Hundreds of miles of choking dust, streaming rain,sleeping outside, awful food, stampedes - ”

“What's this all about?”  asked Heyes.  “Nobody's asked us to go on a cattle drive, have they?”

“- And the pay's not much good at the end of it,” Kid finished, once again ignoring the interruption.  “Not after all you've had to do.  And then there's farming.  Almost as bad.  It's never-ending.  Ploughing and sowing and reaping and threshing, day in, day out.  Then there's the stock to tend.  And fences to repair. And -”

“This may all be true.  But so what? Why all this suddenly?  What's it all got to do with us?”

“Mining!” said Kid suddenly.  “I'd forgotten about mining!  That's probably worse than cattle-driving.    It's the worst of the lot.  Back-breaking work, absolutely back-breaking.  And I hate working in tunnels and mines.  It very risky too, when you think about it.”

Heyes said nothing, but raised his eyebrows.  “Anything else?”

“There's panning for gold, I suppose,” said his partner, meditatively. “That's not really too bad,  compared to some things.  But you could work for days and find nothing at all.  That's happened to us a few times.”

Heyes continued to look at him.

“Sometimes we deliver stuff, don't we, documents or packages or something, but it doesn't really pay all that well.  Nothing ever does.  And that can be risky too.  Look at that time I had to deliver a load of explosives.  I still don't know how I didn't blow myself sky-high.”

“Neither do I.”

“And speaking of risk – shooting cougars for the price on their heads is really dangerous.  Is the risk worth the money in the end?”

“Probably not,” said Heyes.  “But what about poker?  And what's this all about? I've never known you to moan quite so much."

“Poker isn't exactly what you might call a job, no matter how much you make.  And I'm trying to think of a job where you make something reasonable for what you have to do.”

“And haven't you thought of anything?”

“Nothing!” said Kid.  But as he said it, his face changed.

“Heyes!”  he said.  “Actually, I've just this moment thought of something!  Where you can make good money for the effort that you have to put in!”

“Good!”  said Heyes.  “What is it?”

“Robbing banks!  What a shame we've given it up!”
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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:54 pm

A Fair's Day Work





An ASJ Bedtime Story



The baby goat decided to leave his home once and for all and set out in the great world.



He set out along the countryside. He felt excited to be out by himself. It was wonderful to be free of his pen, and his owner Farmer Briggs.



Would you be happy if you were a baby goat and you could get out of your pen? Would you be happy to be away from an owner named Briggs?

As the little goat walked, the sky grew darker, and the fog grew heavier; but the moon shone through the fog.



The baby goat saw the moonlight.  "If you keep shining for me, I know I won't get lost," he said to the Moon. Then he remembered his friend Haze, who had helped him, and brought him back safely  to his pen.  

The baby goat walked on. He remembered that he became sad when his friend Haze led him back to his pen. But he was happy to make a new friend.

Are you happy when you make new friends?

The baby goat remembered how hungry he was when Haze brought him back home. Be he was glad that he had food again.

Are you thankful for friends, especially friends that help you?

The baby goat walked on and thought about this. He thought about his new friend, and about his pen back home.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps. "Hey you little goat," Farmer Briggs yelled, "running away again? This time I will catch you and put you to work."

The baby goat felt a noose around his neck. He tried to get away, but the noose was tight. Farmer Briggs had caught him.  



When the baby goat felt the noose around his neck, he felt very alone. He felt like a poor orphan baby goat, and flopped down on the ground.

"I've got the perfect job for you," said Farmer Briggs. "You're going to be a clown goat at the County Fair rodeo.  You'll get to run and run and run," he laughed.

Farmer Briggs yanked the baby goat to his feet and led the goat back to his pen.  

The goat was very confused when he reached his pen.  It had bars over the top. It looked very scary.

"This is your new pen," said Farmer Briggs.  "You can't get out of this. It's even got a sign on it 'Goat Brigg'" he laughed. "Tomorrow you're going to the County Fair and make me some money." Then he shoved the baby goat into his pen, locked the gate, and left.

The baby goat ate some dinner, and settled into his pen for the night. It felt good to eat, and have a safe place to sleep.



But he wondered about what Farmer Briggs said.  He did not like being a clown goat.  The more he thought about it the angrier he got.

A voice came out of the fog that surrounded him. "How're you doing Kid?" It was Haze.

"I don't like being locked in this pen" said the baby goat to the fog that surrounded him.  "And I don't want to be a clown goat at the county fair rodeo. That makes me very angry."

"Why does that make you angry?" asked Haze. "It will only be for a day."

"It will be embarrassing," said the baby goat. "You don't know how I feel because you don't have to do it."

"It will only be for a day," said Haze, "and then Briggs will leave you alone. You have a safe pen here, and all the food you want."

The baby goat thought for a while. "Well, maybe you're right. But just this once."

"I knew you could do it," Haze said.  "You go out there tomorrow and show them how proud a clown goat can be."

"OK Haze, but will you come tomorrow night and talk to me?  You will make me feel better, especially if I'm angry and embarrassed."

"No problem Kid." said the fog. "I know you're in a haze and can't see me.  But I'll be around; just yell if you need me."

"Thanks Haze, I guess I can always count on you."

The next day Farmer Briggs took the baby goat to the county fair rodeo.  "You're going to run, run, run and run - and you're going to love it, you goat," Farmer Briggs laughed.

Sure enough, when the Kid got to the fair, he ran and ran and ran. He felt embarrassed at first but as he ran he got over it and liked being a clown goat.



The End

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MoulinP

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:51 am

A Fair Day’s Work

 

Heyes stood behind the counter in The Hardware Store reading the newspaper. It was late in the day; there were no customers and all the chores done.

On the other side of the store, Seth was pouring over paperwork. He was muttering angrily to himself, furiously scratching out, peering at items in the catalogue and writing things down. The muttering was getting louder, more exasperated and expletive ridden as time went on.

“What y’doing Seth?” There was no answer except another growl of exasperation. Heyes grinned at his elderly boss. “Seth?” he said louder.

Seth looked over, grunting. “This damm new ordering system! Used to jus’ list what I needed. Now they want me to fill in all these little numbers.”

Heyes nodded, understanding. “Stock numbers.”

“Yeah if’n you say so. Whatever they’re called they’re darn small.”

“Can I help?”

“Nope.” Seth tore off the carbon copies from the pad and shuffled them into a pile. “Reckon I’s done.” He turned and spiked them onto a nail outside the back door. Then he took the top copies and stuffed them into an envelope, which he addressed. “You’d best get this down to the post office young Joshua. My ole legs won’t catch the post but I reckon yours will.”

He gave Heyes a toothless grin.

Heyes nodded resigned. He had been expecting that as soon as he knew what Seth was doing. “Might as well call it a day when you’ve done that. See you in the morning.”


 


 

A week later, Heyes was taking delivery of the order. Heyes watched in astonishment as the goods arrived. Bolts of cloth, tins of beans, and a large bag of animal feed for sheep were among the highlights.

“Er hold up boys. I don’t think …,” he started. “I don’t think that’s for us.”

The supervisor leant on the counter and looked at his clipboard. “If it’s on this here docket you ordered it and we’re delivering it.” He tapped his finger on the board. “You order, you get it. Right?” He scowled at Heyes hard, thrusting his chin out.

“Right,” Heyes agreed, doubtfully. The supervisor was twice his size and looked at him menacingly, along with the three-man crew. Heyes swallowed nervously. “Right,” he said more firmly, smiling weakly.

Where was Seth? Trust that ole man to disappear when there was work doing. These men delivered the goods. They didn’t do splitting of boxes and putting away. They just delivered. More precisely, dumped. In the middle of the store and in the small warehouse out back. Piled up any which way. It was up to the customer to check it, sort it and put it away. In this case – him!

Heyes licked his lips nervously as more strange items arrived. This was definitely not the usual order. Somethings he recognized. Some even needed restocking. Skillets, coffee pots, enamel plates – yes. But that many? What was Seth planning on doing? Outfitting the army?

Heyes spied a small pile of what looked like folded cloths. He picked up the top one and unfolded it. Holding it up he realized what they were. Four pairs of ladies unmentionables - large! Heyes quickly bundled them away under the counter and blushed slightly. He cleared his throat, leaning on the counter nonchalantly, hoping nobody had seen.

It was no good starting to unpack things until the delivery was finished. However, he should be checking that everything on the order was arriving and he moved to unspike the copy. He looked at it with pursed lips and went out back to find the catalogue. It took him a while, buried as it was under a stack of bills. Seth’s bookkeeping left a lot to be desired and Heyes was itching to get his hands on it. The obvious mess offended his sense of order. Unfortunately, Seth was reluctant to let him tackle the paperwork. Heyes could understand that. A man’s business accounts were personal.

When Heyes returned to the store, he stood open-mouthed. He had only been gone a few minutes. Now everywhere he looked, there was a wooden clotheshorse. Neatly stacked against the walls, the counter, and boxes delivered earlier. He scratched his head.

“Er excuse me …”

The supervisor appeared on the other side of the counter. “We’re nearly finished. Just bringing the last in.”

As he spoke, two of the crew struggled in with yet more clotheshorses.

“Are you sure we ordered …” Heyes swallowed under the intense stare. “So many?”

The supervisor sighed deeply and looked at his clipboard. He studied it for a moment. “Yep. Right here. Two hundred clotheshorses.” He spun the board round and tapped the item.

“Two … ? Two hundred?” Heyes was wide-eyed.

“That’s what it says. That’s what you got.” The supervisor put the clipboard on the counter and made a great show of cracking his knuckles.

“No! No! There’s summat wrong here!” Heyes cried, grabbing up the clipboard and looking.

The supervisor shrugged, leaning casually on the counter.

“That’s all Jake,” one of the men called.

“Right o,” Jake acknowledged with a mock salute and turned to Heyes. “All done then. Sign there.”

“Sign?” Heyes knew he sounded dim.

“Yeah. Then we can get outta your hair and you can …” He grinned now. It wasn’t a pretty sight. “Round up all these horses.” He tapped the board more urgently. “Just there.”

Heyes felt sick. If he didn’t sign, Jake looked handy with his fists. If he did sign what was he committing Seth to?

“I ain’t authorized,” Heyes spluttered.

“I don’t care whether you’re authorized or not. I just need a signature. You can sign it George Washington or Hannibal Heyes for all I care. I just need a signature!” He thrust the board and stubby pencil forcefully at Heyes.

Heyes looked at him sharply at the mention of his name. He rolled his eyes. Now there was a thought.

Heyes took a deep breath, slowly letting it out. He scribbled something unreadable and handed the board back.

Jake left leaving Heyes to look round the store in despair. Had they really delivered two hundred clotheshorses? He doubted that there were two hundred clotheshorses in the entire town. Where to start? What was he going to do with two hundred clotheshorses? Give ‘em away free with a shovel or hammer or summat?

He was still deciding where to start when Seth came in.

“Delivery all done, Joshua? Hee Hee. Got talking to Cole Garcia. That man can talk the … What the … blue blazes!” Seth was speechless, as he looked round. “Joshua?”

“I’ll make some coffee Seth. Think we’re gonna need it.”

Heyes scooted out back as Seth sat down heavily on a crate by the door.


 


 

Heyes painstakingly matched the order to the catalogue stock numbers. Some numbers Seth had right, most he hadn’t. The stock numbers were nine characters long, a mixture of letters and numbers. Seth had transposed some numbers, misread 5s for Ss and vice versa, left out a number or a letter or added some. Of the fifty lines on the order, Heyes calculated that about thirty were wrong. The two hundred clotheshorses should have been two hundred metal brackets for fencing.

“Jeez,” Heyes said, using the Kid’s favorite expression.

“What are these?” Seth asked, holding up a pair of ladies unmentionables – large. “I didn’t order these!” he cried.

“Er yeah Seth ‘fraid you did,” Heyes winced. They should have been four drain covers.

“I sure didn’t!” Seth was indignant.

Heyes nodded. “You sure did. Let me show you.”

Seth came to look over his shoulder as Heyes explained.

“I’m ruined!” Seth exclaimed, pulling out an unsavory looking handkerchief to mop his brow. He sat down heavily. “Broke! Laughing stock!” He shook his head in dismay.

Heyes felt some sympathy for the old man. “Oh now Seth don’t take on. We’ll get this sorted. We can keep a lot of it ‘cos you did order it. We do need it.”

Seth shook his head sadly. “I’m washed up, Joshua. Beaten! Ruined!”

Heyes rolled his eyes at the dramatic tone.

“Seth we can straighten this.”

“How?” Seth demanded. He looked like he needed a drink. So did Heyes. Badly.

“Well first off we’ve gotta see exactly what we’ve got. Then we’ll tell the wholesale company …”

“You sign for this?”

Heyes puffed and looked guilty. “Well … not exactly,” he said, slowly.

“What d’you mean? Either you did or you didn’t?” Seth looked suspicious.

“Well I … scratched a signature!” Heyes forced out and shuffled the order copies into a neat pile. “But I doubt if they could prove it was me.”

Seth looked doubtful. “If you signed, Joshua, they won’t take it back. Signing accepts it. I tried that once before so I knows.”

That had been what Heyes was afraid of. He grunted and then he gave Seth his best smile.

“Seth think of this as an opportunity to diversify.” He looked at Seth in wide-eyed eagerness.

“Diversify!” Seth stomped away. “With these?” He held up the ladies unmentionables – large.

“Yeah. Well …” Heyes puffed. “Those er …” He puffed again. “Let’s jus’ put ‘em down to experience so to speak. And put ‘em away! The shades are up.”

Seth bundled them away.

“Let’s just see what we’ve got. Alright?” Heyes made a calming down motion with his hand. “Take it from there.”

Seth wasn’t entirely convinced but he knew one thing. Joshua may know little about hardware but in the short time, he had worked for Seth he had proved he could think on his feet.

Heyes was thinking something similar. Right now, what he really needed, besides a drink, was a Hannibal Heyes plan. For that, he needed time to think. First, though he needed to know exactly how big the problem was.

“Seth. Let’s tidy up and see what we’ve got. Anything that’s not strictly our business we put in the middle of the warehouse. Anything that is, we put where it belongs. How’s that?”

Seth nodded, picking up a small box from the top of an unstable pile. Heyes took a deep breath and nodded, smacking his lips. By the look of it, he was in for a lot of heavy lifting.


 


 

It was a good while later before the store was tidy. All the spare space out back now contained clotheshorses but even so, a considerable number still leaned against the store walls. Heyes had made a list of things that the hardware store didn’t usually carry.

“Okay Seth, it’s not too bad. These are things that I reckon other store owners in town will take off our hands.”

“Hee Hee. Who’d you think we can get to take these off our hands, Joshua? Hee Hee.”

Heyes frowned over to where Seth was holding up the ladies unmentionables – large. Heyes spluttered. “Quit waving ‘em around. We don’t want folks thinking we’re running a disreputable establishment here!” With an irritated shudder, he looked at his list, muttering under his breath about the childishness of old men.

“Can ask the wida Hennessey if she’ll take ‘em off our hands,” Seth mused. “Hee hee.”

Heyes looked up slowly. “If’n you want your face slapped,” he told Seth firmly.

“Hee Hee.” Then Seth sobered and deciding Heyes was right, put them away. He came to stand by his assistant as he explained where all the extraneous stock might go.

“Hinds, I reckon would take the beans. Ain’t never seen a general store that don’t need beans to sell. Maybe even take the bolts of cloth as well. Frazer’s, the feed merchant may take the animal feed.”

“This is cow country boy. What we’ve got there is for sheep.” Seth almost spat the last word in contempt.

“I know. I know.” Suddenly Heyes grinned as a thought struck him. “Sheep ain’t so different from goats, Seth. Least not anatomically.”

“Ana what?”

“’Tomically. It means they only look different on the outside. Underneath they’re the same. A few folks round here keep goats. They need feeding right?”

Seth looked doubtful. “If you say so,” he mumbled.

“’Sides its only one sack.”

“It cost me twenny dollars!”

“Let’s just see what Frazer says alright? We’re trying to salvage something here. Anything is worth a shot.”

Heyes continued to run down the list, pointing out a likely home for all the extra items. When he had finished Seth smiled and slapped him on the shoulder.

“Sounds good boy. You’d best set about it.”

“What?” Heyes was incredulous.

Seth nodded. “I’ll be here minding the store.”

“Oh now just a minute …” Heyes protested but knowing it would be useless.

“You smile that smile of your’n Joshua. The one that has Mary Fletcher all of a quiver. ‘Sides I’ve heard you boy. You’ve got a right ole silver tongue there.” Seth patted him on the shoulder again. “Reckon you could charm the birds outta the sky if’n you put your back into it.”

Heyes sucked in a deep breath through his teeth and snatched up the list. He plonked his hat on his head and gave Seth a disgusted look as he went out.

“Hee hee,” Seth chuckled, as the door shut none too gently.


 


 

It took Heyes several hours to get round the town. Considering the range of things on offer, he thought he had done rather well in getting rid of as much as he had.

He had managed to strike bargains in the general store and the feed merchants. Hind, the general store owner had sent him to see Mrs. Pickering, who ran the haberdashers, about the bolts of cloth. She had proved more difficult.

She had hummed and haa’d over the bolts of cloth. They weren’t her usual merchandise, nor was the quality up to her standards. She sighed deeply and let Heyes know directly that she was doing him a favor by agreeing to take it.

The conman in Heyes didn’t miss the steely glint in her eyes. She smelt a bargain.

“Five the lot.” He had wanted six.

“Done.” They shook hands. The price was better than nothing.

Heyes had dispose of a lot of the extraneous stock at a loss. There had been nothing for it. From now on Seth might let him handle the paperwork. It would do them both a favor.

Wong at the Chinese laundry had agreed to take fifty but wouldn’t take any more no matter how hard Heyes had tried.

Heyes had walked back to the hardware store puzzling over what to do with a hundred and fifty clotheshorses. As he passed the school, the children were running out at the end of their day. With a grin, he turned towards it and sought out the schoolteacher.

Ten minutes later he was back out, the dimpled smile had worked its magic and he had lost another thirty of his wild horses. He had persuaded the schoolteacher of their use for teaching, after he had outlined several ideas for mathematics and geometry. Failing that the schoolyard had just acquired equipment for jumping games. Only a hundred and twenty to go. 

More thoughts came to him as he trudged back. The store might have a special promotion. Painting them in bright colors would appeal to the fairer sex. Keeping twenty for that would be enough. One hundred to go. And thinking of the fairer sex … With a grin he crossed the street to The Hat Shop and Mary.

He left The Hat Shop five minutes later quickly. His suggestion for improving her display hadn’t impressed her. She had thrown him out. His best smile had failed, despite his offer to take her to dinner.

He was just stepping up onto the sidewalk when another idea came to him. Fifteen minutes later, he was walking back down the steps of the Town Hall, a smile of satisfaction on his face. Another fifty off his hands. The Chief Clerk’s office had agreed to use them for temporary fencing at the upcoming August Fair. Fifty to go.

On the way back to The Hardware Store, he passed a small garden where planting was in progress. It commemorated the town’s thirty-year anniversary. He stopped and stood watching the planting of saplings and small shrubs. Rubbing his chin, he walked in and up to the man who looked like he was in charge.

Heyes was back on the sidewalk five minutes later. Another twenty off his hands.

Now there was just thirty to go.

He was pondering on the remaining thirty when he glanced at the railroad depot platform. He stopped, looking at it, head on one side. There was no barrier on the town side. With such a big drop to the ground, surely, that was an accident waiting to happen? Mentally he measured the length of the platform.

“Hmmm.” Thirty clotheshorse widths perhaps? Would at least cover the exposed parts of the platform away from the buildings.

Heyes quickened his step and sought out the manager’s office.


 


Near to closing time, Heyes was informing Seth how he had got on.

“Wong would only take fifty?” Seth sounded disappointed.

“Yeah. Talked him up from thirty though,” Heyes sounded pleased. “He’s sending a boy to collect.”

“How much?”

“Seven dollars.” Heyes cleared his throat.

“Seven dollars! They cost me ten!”

Seth stomped off muttering about sending a boy to do a man’s job. Heyes smiled after him.

“Seth. I got rid of the rest of ‘em.”

Seth turned on the spot. “You did?” He was astonished.

“Well most of ‘em. All but twenty and I’ve got plans for those.”

Seth did a little jig. “Joshua, it was a right good day the day you came to work for me. You did a fair day’s work today Joshua. I’m mighty pleased.”

“Pleased enough to give me a raise?” Heyes grinned pleasantly.

“Don’t push your luck!” Seth growled. However, he opened the till and held out a ten-dollar bill. “Reckon you deserved that though.”
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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:10 pm

Puffs of smoke billowed from the stack.  Rods pushed back and forrth, pistons jumped up and down; the wheels of the heavy locomotive seemed hesitant to move.  Finally, the engine lurched forward and whistled its warning, signaling the train’s departure.

Two travelers, each with a pair of saddle bags tossed over his shoulder, hurried to jump from the platform onto the moving train.  Jostling their way down the center aisle, each man made a silent perusal of the other passengers.

Hannibal Heyes passed seats near the back of the car, each of them occupied by groups of two or three.  He spotted an available seat, glanced at his partner and tipped his head toward the seat in question.

A young mother was cooing to her sleeping infant.  “Sleepin’ at the moment, but for how long?” thought Kid Curry.  He gave a slight shake of his head.  

Two women, knitting needles clacking busily, smiled invitingly in the direction of Heyes and Curry.  The blue-eyed man smiled and lifted a finger to his hat in greeting, but behind him, the memory of Crazy Lorraine still a bit too fresh, Heyes gave a casual greeting and pushed his partner past them.

The last available open seat was near a young man, more of a boy they realized, as the teen looked up.  He quickly removed his feet from the seat across from him.  “You gentlemen looking for a spot to sit?” he asked.  “You’re more than welcome to join me.”

The Kid glanced back over his shoulder toward the knitting women.  Their needles had fallen momentarily silent as each lady watched the reforming outlaws stroll by, but the moment Curry looked, their eyes returned self-consciously to their tasks and the needle-clacking resumed.

Heyes abruptly nudged his partner into the seat across from the boy.   “Thanks,” he said to the boy.  Squeezing in next to the Kid, he said, “Move over, would ya?”

“If you’d’ve listened to me,” Curry muttered, staking a firm claim to his fair portion of the seat, “and left the hotel when I wanted to, we’d both have more room.”

“If my watch hadn’t stopped…”  Heyes’ sentence trailed off as he removed his pocket watch from his vest and held it to his ear.  

The boy set down the book he had been reading.  He looked from one of his irritated seat mates to the other.  “Gentlemen,” he began, hesitantly, “maybe I can help.”

“Help?” asked Heyes.

The Kid eyed the teen.  “Help with what?”

“With the watch.”  The boy held out his hand.  “I’m pretty good at fixing them.”

Heyes shrugged and relinquished his watch.

The boy proceeded to remove a small set of tools from his vest pocket and set to work, talking all the while.  “You know, back home, folks are bringing me their watches all the time.  Seems I just have a knack for figuring out how things work, or fixing things that are broken.  You gentlemen ranchers?”

“Nope,” said the Kid.

“Friend of ours is,” Heyes replied.  “A Texas rancher.  In fact, we just finished driving his herd to Kansas City.”

“Ah, the Chisholm Trail,” the boy remarked.  “Not meaning to be rude, but, you two don’t look like cowboys.”

Curry’s interest was piqued.   He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.  “How’s a cowboy supposed to look?”

“Sorry.”  The boy paused to glance at both Heyes and Curry before his eyes returned to the watch.  “Nothing at all wrong with being a cowboy and I meant no offense.”

“But?” Heyes prompted.

“But…” the boy studied the eyes his two seat mates before continuing, “you gentlemen have the look of men who want more out of life than breaking your back for a dollar a day.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look before Curry spoke.  “You got a point there, kid.  But even a dollar a day’s better than swift kick in the pants.”

The youth chuckled.  “That’s true enough, I’m sure.  But all the same, if I were a rancher, I’d pay my cowboys twice the going rate.  Two dollars a day at least.”

This time Heyes spoke up.  “And your ranch would be on its way to bankruptcy twice as quick.”

“That’s where I think you’re wrong.”  The young man’s eyes took on a glow.  “See, if ranchers and cowboys were to work together, they could improve their mutual quality of life tremendously.  The cowboys, taking greater pride in their work, would be worthy of a higher wage.   The ranchers, paying a higher wage, would attract the best and most qualified cowboys.  And in turn, those cowboys earning a higher wage would have more expendable income, consequently making purchases of items exceeding the simple necessities of life, beef, for instance, resulting in higher profit to the rancher.  You see, the economy is a cycle.  By paying the cowboys at my hypothetical ranch more, I would hope, as a hypothetical rancher, to reap the benefits of their higher wages when my cowboys are able to purchase more beef than beans.  A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s wage, that’s my theory.”

Kid Curry rolled his eyes.  Hannibal Heyes bit his silver tongue.

The boy finished repairing Heyes’ watch just as the porter called out the next stop and the train slowed.  “Good as new.”  The boy held the watch out to Heyes as he stood up.  “This is where I get off.”

Heyes stood too, and flipped his watch open only to see it ticking away, good as new.  “You fixed it!” he exclaimed, somewhat surprised.  “Thanks a lot, kid.”

“The name’s Henry,” the boy stated, holding out a hand to Heyes, and then Curry.  “Henry Ford.”

***

Alone on the train, Kid Curry stretched out on one seat, hat pulled low over his eyes.  Hannibal Heyes stretched out on the other seat, looking out the window.  

“Ya know, Kid, I been thinking.”

Curry pushed the brim of his hat up with one finger and opened one eye.  “Ain’t that usually my line, Heyes?”

Heyes ignored his partner, and continued.  “A lot of what Henry said makes sense.  The kid might even be a genius, only no one’s ever going to be bold enough to put his plan into action.”

“Don’t you mean no one’s gonna be crazy enough to put his plan into action?”

“You know what they say about genius and crazy, huh, Kid?  That the two go hand in hand.”

“You can say that again, Heyes.”  The Kid chuckled and lowered his hat again.  “But one thing’s for sure and certain.”

“What’s that?”

“If Henry Ford ever owns his own hypo-thetical business, I'm applyin' for a hypo-thetical job.”



The following information is copied from:

http://www.henryford150.com/5-a-day/

In 1913, Henry Ford’s team reinvented manufacturing by introducing the moving assembly line. It worked well, but workers hated the jobs. They quit almost as quickly as they were trained.

On January 5, 1914, the company announced it would double worker’s pay and shorten the workday. Instead of $2.34 for nine hours, most workers would make $5.00 for eight hours.

Manufacturers said it was crazy and socialist. It would cost Ford 10 million dollars that year alone! But the very next day, 10,000 people flocked to Highland Park clamoring for jobs, and turnover dropped drastically.


The following is copied from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford

His father gave him a pocket watch in his early teens. At 15, Ford dismantled and reassembled the timepieces of friends and neighbors dozens of times, gaining the reputation of a watch repairman.

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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:21 am

The husky bartender stood behind a roughly constructed bar top.  The oak planking stretched along a short wall of the open room and rested atop three barrels.  Although crude, it served its purpose as was evident by the number of numbed bodies leaning precariously along its length.  Mismatched tables and chairs were strewn about the rest of the small space.  Some occupied, some not.

Wiping glasses with a grayish rag, he eyed the two men who’d just entered through the swinging doors.  Covered in trail dust with lines of fatigue etched in their faces, they made a beeline to where he stood.  He gave them no words of greeting watching the dark-haired one warily.  He’d already pegged this one as the talker; the other was standing slightly behind his companion and was scanning the room.   Good-for-nothing saddle tramps from the look of them.  He would've pegged them for outlaws if they weren’t so darn smiley-faced.

“Two beers,” said the dark one with a huge, dimpled grin.  He didn’t wait for a reply instead turning his back to the bar and joining his friend in his survey of the other customers.  He jumped slightly when he felt a tap on his shoulder and frowned at the bartender who was gesturing with his thumb at a sign above the back bar.  A sharp elbow in his partner’s side got the attention of the blond who also read the sign and also frowned.  It said:  Money Before Drink, NO Exceptions.  Resting under it on a pair of rusted railroad spikes nailed into the wall was a customized scattergun.

The two men looked at each and then patted down their pockets, turning them inside out and retrieving a small store of coins.  Slamming them down on the counter, the dark-haired man quickly counted them out loud.  “Five, six, eight, twelve, sixteen cents.”  He smiled beseechingly.

“Beers are ten cents apiece,” were the first words to escape the taciturn tavern owner’s lips since they’d met him.

“We’ve only got sixteen cents,” said the blond.

“Then you only get one beer.”  The surly man grabbed two nickels, went to his tap, and pulled a draft of warm beer.  He set it down in front of his new customers.  Both men reached for the beer, but the blond was faster and picked up the dirty mug.  He winced slightly as he sipped the bitter brew.

The dark one stared hard at the barkeep’s retreating back.  “Friendly sort, ain’t he?”

“Let it go, Heyes,” said the Kid so softly only his partner could hear him.  He crossed over to one of the tables and sat down in a rickety chair still holding the beer.  

With a weary sigh, Heyes joined him.  “Hand over that beer before you drink it all.”  

The Kid reluctantly passed the mug.  “We’ve been in the saddle for weeks and all we have to show for it is six cents and a warm beer.  Goin’ for amnesty’s beginnin’ to feel like a mistake to me.”

Heyes put down the mug and leaned back studying his best friend.  The Kid looked as tired as he felt and both of them smelt as bad as they looked.  He’d give anything for a hot bath and a roof over their heads, but they’d be sleeping on the hard ground again come nightfall.  Life certainly hadn’t gotten easier since they’d gone straight.  If anything, it was a whole lot harder.  They’d always had money in their pockets back in the day, now the only thing they had in them were holes and a few pennies.

Curry snatched up the beer and continued.  “I mean, what’s changed for the better?  It’s not like we don’t have to still worry about bein’ recognized and havin’ some posse on our tails.  And, we’ve still got twenty years hangin’ over our heads if we do get caught.”  

“Shh, someone might hear you,” cautioned Heyes.

“That’s just it.  I’m sick of lookin’ over our shoulders all the time.  What has it gotten us?  We never have any money, no place to live, and the meals are fewer and further apart than they’ve ever been.”

“What are you saying, Kid?  You want to go back to thieving?”  Heyes kept his face neutral but his heart gave a little leap at the thought of returning to his larcenous ways.  He missed being somebody.

“I might.  Do you?” countered the Kid.  His eyes shifted away from the brown ones boring into him and he smiled at the man who stopped behind Heyes’ back.  “Howdy, Mister.  Can I help you?”

The tall, gaunt black-haired man smiled warmly at the faces turned up to him.  “You just might.  I couldn’t help noticing you’re sharing that beer.  Can I buy you each your own?”  

“Well, that’d be real nice of you.  Care to join us?”  Heyes used his foot to push back the chair on the opposite side of the table and the tall man folded his length into it.

“I was hoping you’d ask.  There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”  He held up three fingers until he caught the barkeep’s eye.  When he was satisfied that the beers were on their way, he looked back at the two men seated with him.

“What’s that?” asked the Kid.

“I’m Stuart Larson and I’ve got a spread south of here near Tucson on the edge of the Sonoran; you familiar with that country?”

“A little.  We were in Tucson once but it was a long time ago and we were just passing through,” said Heyes.  He didn’t add that there’d been a necktie party on their tails.  “So you’re a rancher?”

“I run cattle and that’s what I want to talk to you about.  Mr., ah?”

“Smith, Joshua Smith, and this here’s my partner, Thaddeus.”

The Kid couldn’t stifle a groan, he hated ranching.  “Sorry, back’s sore.  Too much time in the saddle.”

Stuart nodded.  “I saw those animals you rode in on.  You boys know your horseflesh.”

Heyes nodded at the compliment as the bartender arrived with the fresh beers.

“Here’s the deal.  I’ve got a herd of broomtails that’ve taken up residence on my best pastureland and best ain’t much where I’m from.  It takes almost two hundred acres out there to support one cow and I can’t afford to be sharing with a bunch of hayburners who breed like rabbits.”

“Why haven’t you rounded them up?” asked Heyes.

“I’ve tried, but there’s just me and three other hands.  We’re a small operation and I can’t waste time going after this herd.  Sure, I could shoot ‘em, but I’m not the kind of man that mows down an animal for what doing what it’s supposed to do.  That’s where you come in.  I reckon there’re some pretty decent horses in that herd.  If you were to round ‘em up and drive ‘em into Fort Lowell, the army might give as much as fifteen dollars a head, unbroke, for the best of the bunch.”

“How many horses are we talkin’ about?” asked Curry.

“Eight adults and some yearlings and weanlings; maybe fourteen or so altogether.  You should clear a hundred easy.”

“And you’re willing to just let us take ‘em?  Why?” asked a suspicious Heyes.

“’Cause I don’t have the money to pay you.  It’s more than a fair day’s work. The lead stallion’s a cagey one and his boss mare has a trick or two up her sleeve.  It ain’t gonna be fast or easy and, if I were to pay you a wage to do it, I could lose money on the deal.  This way, you do the work, you get the profit, and I get my problem solved.  What d’you say?”

The two partners shared a quick glance.  

“Throw in room and board while we’re working and you’ve got a deal,” Heyes grinned.

“Done!”  Stuart smiled, stood up, and shook both their hands.  “I’ll expect you to start day after tomorrow.  Just follow the south road out of Tucson ten miles or so, it’ll take you straight past the gate to the Lazy L.  There’s a big sign on it, you can’t miss it.”

“Mind if we start tomorrow?” asked the Kid hopefully.  His stomach was growling and room and board sounded mighty good to him.

Stuart slapped him on the back and grinned.  “I like a man who takes initiative.  See you tomorrow, boys.”  He tossed two bits on the table and left without waiting for his change.  

Heyes pulled his six cents from his pocket and laid it down before picking up the second quarter and tucking it away.  He saw the smirk the Kid gave him.  “What!?  At least we can afford dinner now.”

“A dinner.”

“Drink up and quit bellyaching.  We’ve got us a job,” laughed Heyes.
 

oooOOOooo


Lying on their bellies at the top of a slickrock overhang, the two ex-outlaws crept forward until they could see into the box canyon below them.  A cloudless blue sky overhead was starkly contrasted with the scrubby, sage-covered desert floor.  Here, as promised, the herd frequently sheltered in the safety of the rock walls.  On the western end, the canyon narrowed down to a long neck providing access and an easily defensible hideout.  The horses were scattered throughout the canyon, nibbling at the sparse grasses and plants.

“It’s like a horse’s version of the Hole,” whispered Heyes as he pulled out a pair of field glasses.  He quickly studied the animals before handing the glasses to the Kid.  “Good looking bunch.”

The stallion was a handsome, broad-backed bay.  His coat shone brightly in the early morning light as he circled the herd, marking his territory.  Curry whistled appreciatively and, a second later, the faint, shrill sound carried to the sensitive ears of the boss mare.  She lifted her head and froze trying to determine the direction of the threat.  With a loud bellow of alarm, she sprang into action and the rest of the herd fell into line, following her at a gallop towards the exit.  The stallion brought up the rear, nipping the hind ends of the stragglers, urging them to stay together.

“What’d you go and do that for?!” growled Heyes, standing up and dusting himself off.  

“Sorry, I didn’t think she’d hear me.  The wind was blowin’ away from her.  Don’t matter anyways, they’d have spooked when we started buildin’ the fence.  This way, maybe we can get it done before they decide it’s safe to return.”  Getting to his feet, Curry watched the trail of dust settle onto the ground.  The horses were long gone.  “Stuart said she was smart.  Guess he wasn’t kiddin’.”

“Yeah, good thing they favor this spot.  We can let them come to us. It’ll be easy pickings.”

“And you know how much I like easy,” grinned the Kid.

“Me too, Kid, me too.”  


oooOOOooo


Wiping his sleeve across his sweaty brow, Heyes squinted at the setting sun before turning back to watch Curry stack the last of the sagebrush against the makeshift fence stretched across the neck of the canyon.  “Looks good, Kid, what say we quit and finish up in the morning?  I’m bushed, pun intended.”

“Works for me, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”  He stretched and rubbed his back.  “At least we’ve got the hard part over and done with.”

“It shouldn’t take more than an hour to build a gate.”  Heyes picked up his canteen and held it out to the Kid.  “By this time tomorrow, we could have the whole herd penned up.”

“You really think so?”

“Sure.  I’ll spread out some feed inside the fence to make it harder to resist.  When they’ve got themselves all boxed up, we just shut the gate and let them settle down for a while.  Then we’ll divvy ‘em up.  Shouldn’t be hard to rope up the mamas and papas; the youngsters ought to follow along all the way to Fort Lowell.”

oooOOOooo


“*#$%&!!” Heyes watched his lariat slither off the back of the sorrel mare as she ducked her head and pivoted away.  “That’s the third time she’s shook my rope!  I swear that old cow has eyes in the back of her head.”

The Kid laughed as the mare stopped just out of reach and turned to stare at her tormentor.  “She’s got your number, Heyes.  Look at her; she’s just darin’ you to try again.”  The first part of their plan had gone well.  It had taken a few hours of nosing around the fence for the horses to finally decide it was safe for them to re-enter their refuge.  He and Heyes had been ready and the minute the last horse passed through the gate, they’d snapped it shut.  The second part of their plan wasn’t going nearly as well.  They’d managed to rope most of the horses and get them used to the leads.  Those animals stood tied to the fence, but the stallion and mare still eluded them.  Without them, it was unlikely they’d get the rest to cooperate for the ride to Fort Lowell.  He was beginning to wonder if old Stuart had hoodwinked them after all.  Heyes looked as if he might be wondering the same thing.  His partner was staring at the mare intently.  “You ain’t trying any of that mindreadin’ stuff, are you, Heyes?”

“Naw, just thinking.”

“Good, ‘cause I seem to remember it didn’t go so well with that one-horned steer down in Mexico.”

Heyes walked towards him.  “I’ve got an idea.  We’ve been going about this the wrong way.  I’ve been concentrating on the mare and she knows it.  She’s been keeping me busy while the stallion keeps pestering the others.  That’s kept you busy trying to catch him and making sure he doesn’t rile them up.  She’s split us up sweet as pie.  She’s a genius, Kid, but it takes one to know one.”

Curry rolled his eyes, but kept his mouth shut despite wanting to point out that Heyes wasn’t proving to be as smart as an average horse, not even that horse’s hind end.

“We have to partner up same as them and, instead of splitting them up, we drive ‘em together.”

“How’re we gonna do that?  It’s a big canyon.”

“It is, but what do they want?  They want what we have, their herd.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So we rope the others together and you take them around the corner out of sight.  That’ll make these two panicky and they’ll try to follow them but the fence’ll stop them.”

Curry saw where this was going.  “I ain’t buildin’ another fence.”

“I’m not asking you to.  We’ve still got a bunch of rope left.  I’ll tear up your spare shirt and hang some rags from it so it’ll look more substantial then I’ll tie one end of it to that Hackberry tree,” he pointed to the largest tree on the left side of the neck.  “When they come up against the fence, I’ll pull it across behind them and trap them.”

“My shirt?!”

“Hey, I’m providing the plan!”

Shaking his head and grumbling the whole way, Curry opened the gate and walked to where his horse was tied on the other side of the fence.  He led it into the corral and retrieved his shirt from his saddlebag handing it to his partner without a word.  He tied the other herd animals together and mounted up.  Heyes swung the gate open and the long string of horses soon disappeared around the mouth of the canyon.  

Heyes started tearing the faded pinkish shirt into long strips.  He’d always hated this shirt. As planned, the mare and stallion anxiously rushed to the fence as their companions left.  He let them wear themselves out pacing back and forth along the fence line, whinnying constantly to their herd while he constructed his ‘fence’.  With the rope tied off securely, he walked slowly and quietly to the other side of the canyon until he reached the rock wall, then he walked towards the fence as the mare and stallion shied away from him and the rope, snorting loudly at the unfamiliar fluttering rags tied to it.  Trapping them in a small triangular enclosure, Heyes tied the other end of the rope to the fence and picked up his lariat.  It only took the two animals a moment to realize they were trapped and they both broke out in a nervous sweat.  

Heyes whistled loudly and the Kid soon appeared leading the string of horses up the neck of the canyon.  The mare and stallion calmed down when they saw their friends and eagerly watched them arrive.  It didn’t take long before they, too, were tied in the string.


oooOOOooo


“A hundred and six, a hundred and seven, one hundred and eight dollars,” said the uniformed sergeant as he handed over a wad of bills.  “Thank you, gentlemen.”  He turned to untie the sorrel mare, stroking her neck gently.  “The captain’s sure gonna love this one.”  

Heyes and the Kid watched as the soldier led the animal away.

“Who’d have thought she’d settle down so fast?” asked Curry watching the coppery mare walking placidly alongside the sergeant.

Heyes snorted, “Didn’t you see the look in her eye, Kid?  She’s just biding her time.  C’mon, I want to get out of here with the cash before the sergeant figures out what he’s bought.”

“I hear that; where to, partner?”  He untied his horse and mounted.

“Somewhere with warm weather and cold beers and a long way from wild horses,” answered Heyes as he swung up into his saddle.

A loud curse reached them as they broke into a slow jog and they turned in their saddles to see the mare pulling away from the sergeant, a large swath of dark blue army wool clenched in her big teeth.  They put their heels to their horses and, laughing, galloped away.

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"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature." —Dave Barry
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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:13 pm

A Fair Day’s Work

“There you go, gentlemen,” the general store owner said as he placed two buckets of whitewash on the counter. “I’ve got some old paint back there too, I’ll just go get it.”  He headed into the back store room.
“Did Chandler say if they had a ladder?” Kid Curry asked as Heyes looked at the whitewash.
“Huh?”
“Do they have a ladder? Or do we need to get one while we’re here?”
Heyes’ brow furrowed for a moment as he thought. “Chandler said they had one.”
“Good, I don’t want to carry one along the street as well as all this stuff.” He waved a hand over the whitewash and assorted paintbrushes.
“Here we go,” the store owner stated as he returned with a tin of paint in each hand. He made an ‘oomph’ sound as he placed them on the counter. “These were left over from when the Mayor had his house decorated. Not sure how Mrs Mayor will feel about the same colours being on the wall of a cat house. Not that she’s likely to go in there.” He chuckled as he picked up a pencil and paper. “Lets’ see, that’s whitewash, paint, brushes.” He scribbled, made a face that suggested he was adding numbers up, and then announced the final price.
Heyes tapped Kid on the stomach. “Pay the man.”
“You sure you fellas are ready for this?” the store man asked, taking the money and placing it in the register. “I’m sure Chandler warned you some of the girls are feisty little devils.”
Kid smiled. “I reckon we know how to handle a woman.”
“Twenty.”
“Twenty?” the partners’ chorused.
“Twenty.”
“Sheesh,” Kid stated for them both then grabbed a bucket from the counter.
“You fellas know where you’re going right? Down the end of Main Street?”
“Yes, sir,” Heyes assured him as he stuffed a couple of paintbrushes into Kid’s pockets.
“The townsfolk didn’t want that place in the centre of town. I’m sure you can understand that?”
“I guess.” Heyes stuffed the other brushes into his own pockets while Kid picked up one tin of paint. Heyes tapped the brim of his hat to the store owner, grabbed the other tin and bucket and they headed for the door.

***
“You know, Joshua, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find work that would keep us out of trouble but of all the jobs we’ve been forced to take, this one doesn’t seem so bad.”
Walking beside him down the Main Street of Weaverville, Heyes smiled. “I have to agree with you, Mister Jones. I mean this is good honest work. We’ll be doing something good. Making someone’s home just that bit nicer.”
“Brightening things up for ‘em.” Kid added.
“Exactly. We’re doing something for the community.”
“Helping out some ladies.”
Heyes smiled. “Indeed. I reckon this will be very satisfying work.”
“And I am sure the ladies will be grateful.”
“I don’t see how they could not be.”
“D’you think they might want to thank us in some way?”
Heyes shot his friend a sideways smile. “I’m counting on it, Kid.”
Kid chuckled and they walked on.

***
“It’s smaller than I expected,” Kid said as he stood before the house, studying it.
“Yeah,” his friend agreed.
“Doesn’t smell quite the way I expected either.”
“Nope.”
Kid put down the paint and whitewash, some slopping over the side of the bucket as he did so. “D’you reckon we’ll be able to get them to leave while we work?”
“I doubt it but I guess we’ll have to try.”
“Which one do you want first?” Kid asked not taking his eyes off the occupants of the house.
“The hairy brown one’s your type.”
Kid shot his partner a look. “I was thinking she was more yours.”
“Seriously?”
“Yeah. I was gonna go for the little one in the corner.”
“All right. I’ll take the brown one.”
They took a step forward, slowly, carefully, hoping not to frighten the ladies.
“Heyes, next time we take a job…”
“I know, Kid, you don’t have to tell me. Next time we take a job make sure I get the facts straight.”
“Yeah. Make sure you do.” With that, Kid Curry, the fastest gun in the West, made a grab for the little calico on the porch of the Weaverville Home for Stray Cats.

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Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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PostSubject: Re: Feb 16 - A fair day's work...   Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:21 pm

phew... Got it finished!



Kid Curry pulled out a pocket watch and glanced at the time when he heard a faint whistle.  “Right on time.”  He looked up and saw the combination of smoke and steam making its way towards him.

He looked down into a shallow ravine at the train tracks, knowing the train would be here soon.  He knew his role – Heyes spent hours explaining why and convincing him that this would be the best and safest way to stop the train.

Curry could hear the engine approaching and checked the safety strap holding his gun in the holster.

The train rumbled into the ravine, blowing its whistle, and slowed as the incline steepened.

“Heyes, you better be right,” the Kid mumbled to himself as he stood at the edge of the ravine.  He watched the engine go past him below about 10 feet and then the tender.  He took a deep breath and jumped, landing on the baggage car.

The train lurched as it continued its ascent, unbalancing an already unstable outlaw.  Curry had nothing to grab and fell hard on his left knee before hitting his chin on the roof of the car.  “Owww…” he cried out as he quickly gained his balance so not to slide off.

Slowly getting on all fours, he grimaced when he put weight on the knee.  “Easy, Heyes?  Well, next time you can jump on top of a movin’ train.”  He shook his head as he gingerly stood to move forward.

Making his way to the front of the car, he looked at the tender full of wood.  “Seems further than five feet, Heyes.”  He took a deep breath and jumped over and down into the pile of wood.  He felt his right foot roll off a log and he lost his footing.  The ankle turned and pain shot up his leg.  The left knee gave out and landed hard on the knot of a log.  Kid Curry held his breath for a moment and slowly released it.  “Dang that hurts!”

“Gotta make it to the front and stop the train.”  He talked himself into moving and hobbling his way forward.  Up ahead he could see the engineer and fireman checking the controls.  When the fireman opened the firebox, Curry dropped down, just in time not to be seen by the man who turned, grabbed some wood, and threw it into the fire.  Again, his knee screamed in pain.

The train came out of the ravine and turned as it headed towards a tunnel.  The Devils Hole Gang was waiting for the train on the other side of the tunnel; Heyes figuring that the Kid could surprise the engineer in the darkness.

Curry jumped up and pushed off a log with his left hand.  A large splinter of wood pierced through his leather glove and into his hand.  “Argh…” he moaned as he pulled the wood out.  Blood flowed out of the wound.

Determined, Kid Curry forced his way forward towards the engine.  Just inside the tunnel, he removed his Colt and jumped into the engine, crumbling to the floor as his knee and ankle gave out on him.

Shocked, the engineer and fireman turned to see a crumpled man holding a gun on them.  “Where’d you come from?”

“If you want what’s best for you, you’ll stop this train just outside the tunnel.”  Curry gave them his hardest glare, hiding the pain he felt everywhere.  When they hesitated, he cocked his gun.  “Now!”

“Yes, sir!”  The engineer turned and released the valves, quickly making the train slow down.

Once the train was completely out of the tunnel, it stopped – right where Hannibal Heyes planned.

The Devils Hole Gang quickly overtook the train, entering the passenger cars.  Heyes walked up to the engine.  “I knew you could do it, Kid.  Piece of cake, just like I told you.”  He turned.  “Wheat, come up here and relieve the Kid.  I need his help to control the folks.”

Wheat hurried up to the engine and began climbing in.  “What happened to you?” he asked as he watched Curry struggling to stand up with his chin bleeding.

“Don’t ask!  Just watch them, will you?” he pointed to the two men.

“Sure, Kid.”  Wheat turned his gun towards the engineer and fireman.  “Just do what we say and you’ll soon be back on your way.”

Curry holstered his gun and slowly made his way out of the engine.  He grunted as he jumped off the last step onto the ground.

“Kid!  What are you waiting for?  Over here!” Heyes shouted as he picked the lock off the baggage car.

The Kid hobbled over and removed his gun, ready when the door opened in case there was someone inside guarding the safe.

“What happened to you?  You look terrible and your chin is bleeding!” Heyes commented when his partner made his way over.  He removed his bandana and handed it to him.

“Just open the door,” Curry growled as he took the cloth and dabbed his chin with it.

Lobo opened the door quickly with Heyes and Curry ready on both sides of the entrance.  They looked inside and saw luggage and a Brooker 202 in the corner.

Heyes grinned as he hopped into the car.  “This shouldn’t take too long.  Make sure the passengers are okay.”

The Kid nodded and limped over to the area where the rest of the gang had the passengers grouped.  “This will only take a few minutes and you’ll be back on your way,” he said when he made his way there.  He found a large rock and sat down with a sigh.  Removing his bandana, he took off his left glove and wrapped the cloth around the wound.

“What happened to you, Kid?” Kyle asked as he watched.

“Just a little accident…”

A male passenger, taking the opportunity of Kyle being distracted, pulled out a derringer from his pocket.  In a flash, Curry drew his Colt and aimed it at the man.  “Drop it!  NOW!”

The male passenger paled and let his gun drop to the ground.

“Kyle, didn’t you check the passengers?”  Curry raised his voice.

“Well, yeah, but there was so many of ‘em on this train and we had to hurry, accordin’ to Heyes.  I checked those I thought would have guns.”

Kid Curry shook his head in unbelief.  “Next time check ALL of them for guns.”

“Even the ladies?”  Kyle’s eyes got big.

“Even the ladies’ bags,” Curry explained.

“Kid!”  Heyes shouted from the baggage car.

Curry sighed as he stood up.  “Got everything under control now?”

Kyle and the rest of the outlaws near the passengers nodded or verbally agreed.

Kid Curry slowly hobbled back to the train while tying on the bandana to his hand.

“What took you so long?” Heyes asked as he knelt before an open safe.  “I need the bags from the horses.”

“You couldn’t ask Lobo or someone else for that?”  Curry scowled.  

“No need to get proddy.  You know which saddle bag they are in.”

The Kid slowly made his way over to the horses and smiled.  “Just have to get up and then I don’t have to walk no more.”  Putting his right hand on the saddle horn, he tried to put his left foot in the stirrup, but his knee shot pain.  His ankle started to give way from the weight of his body.  Holding on tight not to fall, Curry shouted, “Lobo, get over here!”

A minute later, Lobo ran over.  “What you need, Kid?  Heyes is wantin’ those bags.”

“I know he does!  I need help gettin’ on my horse.”

“How come?”

“Because… just help me!”

“Sure, Kid.”

Kid took a deep breath and managed to force his left foot up through the pain and, with Lobo’s help, got his right leg up and over the saddle.  “Phew…”

“KID!!!”

“I’m comin’, Heyes!”  Curry reined his horse towards the baggage car.  Once there, he turned and reached into the saddle bag, favoring his left hand.

“Can’t you hurry?”  Heyes looked over his shoulder towards the door.

“I am!”

“Bring ‘em over here.”  Heyes turned back to the safe and began checking the papers.

“Can’t you come get ‘em?”

Heyes just motioned him over.

One bag and then a second bag flew in the air, landing next to Heyes.

“What the…” a startled Heyes jumped up.  “You couldn’t just bring them to me like I asked?”

“Nope.”  Curry scowled.  “I’m not leavin’ this horse if I can help it.”

“Of all the…”

“KID!” Kyle shouted.

“Now what?” the Kid mumbled as he reined the horse towards the tree line where the passengers were kept.

“Kid, the passengers are wonderin’ how much more time?” Kyle asked.

“Soon,” grumbled Curry.  “You’ll be on your way soon.”

“KID!”

“What?!”  Curry turned the horse around and headed back to the baggage car.

“Your chin’s still bleeding.”  Heyes frowned.

“You called me over here to tell me that?”  The Kid dabbed the chin with the back of the bandana on his left hand.

“No!”  Heyes scowled as he watched his partner.  “What’d you do to your hand?”

“Later, Heyes!  What did you want?”

“Tell the gang the passengers can come back in the train and then tell Wheat the fireman can start stoking the flames.”

Curry rode to the engine and told them to prepare for leaving and then to where the passengers were and got them going back into the passenger cars.  He could feel his ankle swelling in his boot and the throbbing knee stretched his pants leg. The left hand also ached as he held the reins tight.

Heyes mounted his animal and gave the command, “Let’s get going!”

The gang members jumped on their horses and followed Heyes with Curry in the back making sure everyone got out and the train was on its way.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

An hour later, the gang crossed a river.

“Walk it – don’t swim it!” Curry reprimanded his horse as he did his best to lift both legs so not to get wet.

The horse continued to swim and twisted, bucking the Kid into the cold water.  With two bad legs, he swam with just his arms until he could stand, but a slippery rock had him back under the water.

The Kid sputtered water when he came up and crawled to the shore.  He lay there taking deep breaths to control the pain he felt everywhere.

Heyes looked down at him.  “You just gonna lie there?”

“I just might!”  Curry gave him the glare that made others coward away.  “Just go and I’ll catch up.”


“Sure you can get up?” Heyes asked.

“Of course I can get up!  Will you get outta here?”

“Fine!”  Heyes turned to go

“Fine!”

“Here’s your horse, Kid.”  Kyle handed him the reins and followed the others.

“Great!”  Curry looked up at his horse.  Rolling over, he got up on all fours, barely putting weight on his knee.  He grabbed on to a boulder and crawled up, finally being upright and breathing heavily.

“Now to get back on you.”  Kid pulled his horse closer and clung to the saddle horn.  Grimacing, he put his bad ankle into the stirrup and clumsily swung his bad knee over.  Laying down on the horse’s neck, he caught his breath before straightening up in the saddle.

“I don’t wanna have to do that again so cooperate, will you?  Take it nice and easy now.”  He shivered as he steered his bay onto the path the gang took.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

At nightfall, Heyes stared down the path leading into the Hole from the leader’s cabin door.  He sighed with relief when a bay came into view.

“About time you made it!  I was about to send out a search party.”

“Atchoo!”  Curry shivered in his damp clothes as he made his way to the cabin.

“Aren’t you gonna take care of your horse?”

“Nope.  Have one of the guys do it for me.”

Heyes scowled.  “Hank, come take care of the Kid’s horse, will ya?”

“Sure, Heyes.”  Hank came over by the horse waiting for Curry to get off.

“That job was successful – a fair day’s work for $10,000.  Went off without a hitch.”

“If you say so, Heyes.”

Heyes furrowed his brow.  “Aren’t you getting down?”

“Atchoo!  I’m talkin’ myself into it.”  Grasping the saddle horn tight, his contortioned in pain as his slid out of the saddle.  “Ahhh…”  Curry continued going down.

Heyes was quickly there and put an arm around his partner, preventing him from hitting the ground.  “Hank, help me!”

The two men dragged Curry into the cabin and onto his bed.

“What happened to you?!” Heyes demanded.

“One of YOUR jobs!" Kid shook his head and mumbled, "Went off without a hitch!  Atchoo!”



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