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 April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED

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Calico

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PostSubject: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:36 pm

Hello hello hello and happy anniversary.

Yes, believe it or not 99 monthly challenges have been and gone.
Ninety nine yella bandannies have been coveted and  played for

Thanks abounding to every one who has ever scribbled commented or voted.


I think - and I hope you agree - there can be only one topic option for this month.

Set yourselves tapping for old and new times sake.  On the subject of...

ONE HUNDRED

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nm131

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PostSubject: Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer...And One Whiskey.   Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:42 pm

Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer…And One Whiskey
By Nell McKeon (nm131)
 bottle

It has been a very looooooong time since I have been active in the ASJ fandom, much less wrote any kind of story. I’m dipping a toe in again, cautiously, as once again the caliber of stories from the authors I remember and the new authors are high and a bit intimidating.  This was a quick effort to test the waters to see if I could still come up with something and not totally embarrass myself. Thanks for reading.


Kid Curry tugged on the rusted iron handle of the door to a little used tiny storage shed tucked back along the steep canyon walls of Devil’s Hole. The door was stuck. Kid tugged a little harder. Still stuck. A glance back over his shoulder towards the main compound and all the other cabins and buildings in various states of repair or disrepair that comprised the outlaw hideout of Devil’s Hole confirmed to Curry that this was the very last place to look. Heyes had the entire gang looking in, under, and over every nook and cranny in every building in the canyon for an iron tool specially made for a previous bank job that Heyes was sure they brought back to the hole with them after the job. Kid was just as sure that they left it at the bank in the rush to leave since the safe proved more trouble to crack than was anticipated. But he was willing to humor his partner and look for a tool he was certain they wouldn’t find.

However, this door was well and truly stuck.  The wood must have swelled with the recent rains and warm weather, and judging by all of the undisturbed dirt, rust and debris around the entrance, who knew when was the last time anyone entered. Kid could, in good conscious, tell Heyes that the dang piece of specially bent iron was not in the Hole and that they would need to get a blacksmith to bend another for the job Heyes was currently planning. But, if Heyes asked did he look everywhere, he couldn’t in good conscious lie to Heyes’ face that, yes, he did look everywhere. The door would have to be opened. Curry planted a scuffed boot securely against the door jam, placed his hands firmly on the handle, and pulled hard with all his might. The weathered door jerked open and hung crookedly from the one rusted hinge that held. Kid picked himself up from where he landed and dusted the dirt, leaves, and sticks from his ass before peering into the hazy gloom of the shed’s interior.

Curry entered, waved the swirling dust away, and coughed a few times before he could really see the interior’s contents.

“What the …Heyes! Heyes get over here, you gotta see this,” Kid shouted out the door.

Hannibal Heyes, leader of the infamous Devil’s Hole Gang, stopped circling the leader’s cabin and looked up. He had been peering behind the few scraggly bushes along the foundation, while listening to various gang members give their reports on their assigned searches. Brown eyes squinted in the afternoon sun as they located his partner. Kid Curry was waving him over before he disappeared into the dilapidated shed way in the back of the Hole’s compound.

Heyes strode quickly, in anticipation, getting ready to say “I told you we brought it back”, even as he admitted to himself he didn’t ever remember using that building for anything. It’s far enough away from the all the others it might make a good place to store explosives, with a little repair work, starting with the door, he thought.

Heyes stepped next to the smiling Kid and grinned. The grin slowly slipped into a frown when the leader of the gang didn’t spot a specially build iron bar but bits of rotten sacking, a few scrap boards, pieces of frayed rope, and a tiny dirt floor covered with a whole lot of very dusty, cobwebbed, identical brown, full whiskey bottles, lying every which way.

Kyle, who had followed Heyes, nudged Kid to side to have a look inside. “Hoowee, lookee we’re gonna have party tonight!” The little outlaw darted between the leaders of the Devil’s Hole Gang and grabbed one of the bottles.

Wheat and Hank had come over to see what the commotion was all about. A small circle of four outlaws formed around the open door with Kyle in the middle of the doorway, now holding a bottle in each hand. Heyes and Wheat both grabbed a bottle from the hand that was closest to them. Kyle looked forlorn and bent to retrieve two more bottles, while Wheat pulled the cork and downed a big swallow.

Cough, cough, cough, gag, spit, more spit. Wheat’s face turned red, shading to purple, as the older gang member fought to draw breath as he stared wild-eyed at the offending bottle in his hand. Kyle straightened up quickly and looked curiously at his best friend.

“Ain’t it good, Wheat, Didja drink it too quickly? Go down the wrong pipe?” Hank asked as he slapped Wheat’s back hard in between coughs and sputtering.

Heyes uncorked his own bottle and cautiously sniffed at the contents. He tipped the bottle and dipped a long finger then licked, while the growing crowd of outlaws watched and waited for the leader’s verdict.

‘It’s not whiskey. It’s beer, flat, skunky, old beer that someone must have poured into empty whisky bottles instead of leaving it in the barrel. Why, I don’t know but whatever they were thinking, it sure didn’t work.” Heyes recorked the bottle and passed it to his laughing partner. “Get rid of the stuff, Kid, before someone decides to drink the stuff anyway. It’ll get them sick if they do. Have some of boys help you dump the rot gut. I’m going back to the cabin to work on the plan.” Heyes turned on his heel and walked dejectedly away, his disappointment and annoyance showing in the set of his shoulders.

Curry gave an acknowledging nod to his cousin’s retreating back before taking a few steps to the side and placed the offending bottle on the top of a low lying natural rock wall that curved along the bottom of the steep canyon slope.

Lobo had shouldered his way past Kyle into the shed and had been quietly lining up and counting the bottles. “There’s ninety-nine bottles of beer in here. Ain’t it a crying shame to spill it all out? What a waste.” He complained to Hognose.

Kid’s head turned slowly around. “How many bottles of beer?” he asked.

“Ninety-nine,” came the reply.

Blue eyes crinkled in mischievous mirth and a grin grew larger in the youthful face of Kid Curry, Fastest Gun in the West. “Yep, it would be a crying shame to waste all those bottles. So, I’m not gonna, I’ll use them for target practice. Line them up boys along the rock wall, all ninety-nine of them.” Kid called out. “Hank, you run back and bring me a couple boxes of bullets, okay?”

“Sure thing, Kid” Hank ran off.

Wheat, Kyle, Dutch, Hognose, Lobo, Leroy, and Southpaw Paul formed a line and started to pass the bottles to Kid, who was placing them carefully at regular intervals as he walked along the rocky ground.

By the time Hank returned, slightly out of breath, with the 45s the bottles were all in position. Kid was checking his load in the colt, getting ready to begin.

All eyes watched a focused Kid Curry place the colt in his holster, take a stance, and fast draw. BANG, brown glass shattered.

“99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.  If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 98 bottles of beer on the wall.” Kid sang out as he twirled the six-gun back into his holster.

BANG. More brown glass shattered and the gunslinger reset his stance, singing, “98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer.  If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 97 bottles of beer on the wall.”

BANG. “97 bottles of beer on the wall, 97 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 96 bottles of beer on the wall.”

BANG. “96 bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer.  If one of those bottles should happen to fall 95 bottles of beer on the wall.”

BANG. Kyles high pitched voice joined in, “95 bottles of beer on the wall, 95 bottles of beer, If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 94 bottles of beer on the wall.

BANG. The wet, shattered, brown glass glistened in the sun as Lobo’s baritone and Hognose’s base joined in with Kid’s tenor and Kyles out of tune, but enthusiastic attempt at some sort of harmony, “94 bottles of beer on the wall, 94 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 93 bottles of beer on the wall.”

BANG …. (you get the idea)

Inside the leaders cabin Heyes sat at the large table, papers strewn about him, staring at his drawing of the tool he would now need to get a blacksmith to fashion without asking why Heyes needed it. This was not part of his careful planning and he was not pleased. Gradually the sound of Kid’s gun, which had been banging away for quite some time now, and was that singing, sank into his consciousness. Heyes muttered, more than slightly annoyed, “Kid and the boys better have gotten rid of that skunky beer before Kid took target practice. And that God-awful singing better not be the result of drunken fools, soon to be sick drunken fools.” The stone cold, sober planner, leader of the most successful outlaw gang in the west, rose from his chair and listened. He went outside on the porch and listened some more.

BANG. Loud, raucous singing could be heard. “YOU BOYS BETTER NOT BE DRUNK. IS ALL THAT BEER GONE? WHAT’S GOIN’ ON? ” Heyes shouted.

BANG. “33 bottles of beer on the wall, 33 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 32 bottles of beer on the wall.”

Lobo shouted back, “KID’S TAKING TARGET PRACTICE AT THE BOTTLES, HASN’T MISSED ONE YET. DAMM HE’S GOOD, HEYES. ONLY 32…” BANG. “32 bottles of beer on the wall, 32 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 31 bottles of beer on the wall.” “…MAKE THAT 31 MORE TO GO. WE AIN’T DRANK A DROP.”

A hint of smile passed across the brown-haired senior partner. “FINE, LET KID FINISH BUT STOP THAT INFERNAL SONG. IT GETS ON A BODY’S NERVES”. Heyes turned to go back in the cabin but at the last minute thought better of it and decided to see if Kid would shatter all 99 bottles. He had every confidence his partner’s abilities but 99 fast draws in close succession was pushing it.

BANG. “31 bottles of beer on the wall, 31 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 30 bottles of beer on the wall, 30 bottles of beer.” Every gang member present was cheering Kid on and singing as loudly as they could, Heyes directive was being soundly ignored.

Back in the barn, a tall, thin, black-haired man rose from a pile of hay and shook himself off. He stooped to fish around the hay with his hand, groping for something. A brown bottle was found and held up to the afternoon rays of sun streaming through the open door. It was empty. The empty bottle was discarded. More groping around and an almost full, corked bottle was found and clutched in steady hands.  He was pleased to note that the banging he had been aware of was not originating from inside his head but outside as was the not so angelic choir of voices. Preacher set off to find the gang, brown whiskey bottle in hand.

BANG. “4 bottles of beer on the wall, 4 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 3 bottles of beer on the wall.”

Preacher found the entire Devil’s Hole Gang, gathered behind Kid Curry at the back of the box canyon. He stared at the brown shards of glass strewn the length of the natural ledge rock wall, the brass shell casings along the ground where Kid must have emptied the colt and reloaded, and 3 brown bottles still standing.

BANG. “3 bottles of beer on the wall, 3 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 2 bottles of beer on the wall.”

A softly smiling but still silent Heyes felt a poke in his side and glanced to the left. Preacher stood there and asked in alarm, “Why’s Kid shooting all them full bottles of Whiskey, Heyes?”

BANG. “2 bottles of beer on the wall, 2 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 1 bottle of beer on the wall.”

Heyes gave a quick explanation, while turning back to the spectacle and then noticed the brown familiar-shaped bottle in Preacher’s right hand.

BANG. “1 bottle of beer on the wall, 1 bottle of beer, If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.”

Heyes’ hand shot out, in a speed worthy of the blond gunslinger standing before him, grabbed the bottle out of stunned Preacher’s hand and ran to place it on the wall. Heyes started to sing, “A hundred bottles of beer were on the wall, a hundred bottles of beer.”

“WAIT, WAIT, THAT’S NOT FLAT OLD BEER. THAT BOTTLE HAS GOOD WHISKEY IN IT. STOP, KID DON’T SHOOT,” shouted Preacher in a panic.

Kid drew, fast as lightening, the hammer clicked back but the gunslinger did not fire. Kid Curry gently released the hammer, twirled the colt back into the holster. He strode to the last remaining bottle on the wall.

“100 bottles of beer on the wall, 100 bottles of beer, Take 1 down and pass it around, no more bottles of beer on the wall.” Curry uncorked the bottle and belted a swig down. He grinned as he wiped his mouth and passed the bottle to his now broadly smiling partner. Heyes drew a long swallow and passed the bottle to Wheat.

“No more bottles of beer on the wall, no more bottles on beer. Go to the store and buy some more, no more bottles of beer on the wall,” Kid sang the last verse and the bottle was passed among the laughing outlaws.

“Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer…”

“KYLE! Shut up!”


Note:

I saw the prompt of 100 and all those bottles along the bottom and the first thing that came to my mind was 100 bottles of beer on the wall even though those look like champagne bottles. I grew up singing the song with the lyrics “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer. Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall…” However, when I researched the song to see if it was known in the 1880’s, I found the alternate lyrics, which I used for most of the story as it fit the situation a bit better.

The song is anachronistic for the time period. According to Wikipedia "99 Bottles of Beer  is an anonymous American folk song dating to the mid-20th century. It is a traditional song in both the United States and Canada. It is popular to sing on long trips, as it has a very repetitive format which is easy to memorize, and can take a long time to sing.” I can certainly attest to the fact that is sung on long trips, I did as a child on car trips with my family, on school trips (although I doubt in today’s culture the song is sung on school buses now) and my children have sung it on our long car trips. I wonder if the origin had anything at all to do with the building of the interstate highway system in North America and the rise of the car trip culture for family vacations.
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Cal

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PostSubject: ONE HUNDRED   Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:36 am

[size=13]I think this scene stands up on its own ...its taken from a longer two - part story that I haven't posted yet ...its all plotted and the first draft is written ...needs some more work but with a bit of luck and some inspiration, won't be long coming along.  sparkleshoe  fingers crossed. Calx

From: "Yuma - Part Two" Scene; One Hundred - Challenge



“How many did you see?” Heyes looked to the top of the nearest peak, then off to the far horizon, not wanting to believe what the boy had said.

“Just the one.” Nathaniel’s eyes were big as saucers. He didn’t say it out loud but he was thrilled that the Indian had looked just like himself. “I think he wanted me to see him.  He just, sort of, stood up and looked at me for a second.  I looked over my shoulder, to call you two, and when I looked back he was gone.”

“Heyes,” Curry did a good job of hiding the worry that his partner had seen spring up in the blue eyes just a moment ago. “A word.”

Kid jerked his head away from the two boys, back towards the bend they’d just rounded.  The partners walked back down the trail together, leaving the boys to hold their tired animals. They’d all been on foot for the last hour.  Feet were sore, bellies were empty and until Nathaniel had piped up that he’d seen an Indian, words had been very sparse.

Caleb scowled.  ‘Jail, then a posse that included two Bannerman agents, now Indians,’ he thought.  ‘Or at least, one Indian.  What could these outlaws possibly have to discuss in private?  Accept, probably, how quickly they could ditch their two encumbrances and high tail it.’  

He gave Nathaniel a reassuring pat, even though he had to stretch a bit to reach the taller boys shoulder.  He was the oldest, and Nat relied on him to do their thinking.  He stared off to where Heyes and Curry had their heads together, plotting.  

“It’ll be fine” he reassured the younger boy.

Kid brought Heyes to a halt just passed the bend where he could look back and keep an eye on the boys.

“We know that they only show themselves when they’re fixing to make some sort of contact.  Do you think it’s possible, if Nat just saw one brave, that he could be out here on his own?  Maybe he needs help, or food, or something, and thought Nat looked the friendliest of us, being half-Indian himself.” Kid knew this was rubbish, but he wanted to try and put a better spin on their present circumstances, for himself as much as anyone.

“It’s the ‘or something’ that bothers me, Kid.  If that Indian’s had a good look at us, he’s got to know that the horses are near dead.  They weren’t in any shape when we first bought them, and we haven’t exactly given them an easy ride. I Don’t think they’d even make good eating anymore...” Heyes looked at his partner in earnest. “When you got a look at that map, back in Benton, did you see any Indian reservation land?”

“Yeah …Navajo I think …but that was a long way North of here, we couldn’t have come that far North …yet?” Kid looked around as if seeing this scruffy mountain range for the first time.  “Sure, we covered some ground losing that posse, but on those horses? Riding double?  No …we couldn’t be that far North yet, I’m sure of it.”  

Kid nodded.  

     Heyes nodded.  

           Maybe, if they nodded hard enough, they could make it true.

“Well, we’ll just ask the boys to keep an eye out for any more Indians, and hope that Nat has just seen some youngster wandering off the reservation…” Heyes had started back towards the boys, putting an optimistic smile on his face as he approached. “Don’t think we got anything to worry about boys, probably just some young brave wandering off the reservation, looking to share a meal or something…” Heyes nodded sagely at the boys, but the boys weren’t looking at him.

“You just let us know if you see any more Indians, Ok?” Curry was on Heyes’ shoulder with a warm ‘I’m not worried at all’ smile plastered on his face.  “Not all Indians are savages you know; we’ve met some pretty decent ones…”

Curry’s pep talk came to a faltering halt as he watched awe arising on the faces of the weary, teenagers.  They stood, with their mouths agape, eyes wide, frozen to the spot.  The two ex-outlaws studied the boys, wondering if their past Indian related exploits had impressed them in some way but then noticed that the boy’s attention was very much drawn to something behind themselves.  Nathaniel lifted a weak arm to point, but no words escaped his lips.  

The partners looked at each other for just a second.  A ‘maybe we were wrong’ message sent between blue eyes and brown, lumps in throats were swallowed. They turned in synchro, instinctively raising their hands as they came round to face at least a hundred Navajo braves, and maybe worse, a dozen pointing rifles.

Both ex-outlaw faces were a rictus of teeth, as huge smiles sprang up between their ears, in an effort to appear friendly. In short order they were prodded to the ground, their guns removed from their holsters and their hands tied behind their backs.

Heyes started greeting their captors with friendly banter and polite enquiries as to the nature of their captivity.  This got him hit across the back of the head with the butt of a nearby rifle, and the swearing, issuing from the Kid at this ill treatment of his partner, earned him a matching concussion.

Caleb shook his head in disbelief.

‘Unbelievable. How had Heyes and Curry survived all these years?’ he thought.

He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders at Nathaniel. Nathaniel was smiling at the same brave he’d seen earlier.  Seemed Nat had made a friend, they were about the same age and looked very alike.
 
In perfect Spanish, fourteen-year-old Caleb greeted the band of braves and, after some initial introductions, rapidly ascertained if they could get help with directions, and whether or not they had any food or water to share.

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Alias Alice



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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:05 pm

A HUNDRED


The old-timer rode slowly up the main street.  His mule was hung with saddlebags, packages, pots and pans and a pick and shovel, all covered with trail-dust.  So was the old-timer covered with trail-dust.  His name was Kevin McBrown, and as he rode up the street, a number of passers-by waved or called “Hi, Kevin,” or “Back again, Kev?”  Kevin nodded or smiled at all of them and when his mule arrived at the registry office, he halted and tied it to the hitching-rail.  Brushing some of the dust off his clothes, and slapping his hat against his leg for the same purpose, he went up the steps to the office and opened the door.

“Hi, Kevin!  Back again?” said the clerk behind the desk.  He'd just finished dealing with two cowboys who had brought in a couple of small bags of gold-dust to be weighed and valued.

“Not bad, boys,” he said.  “That's worth about $250 dollars.”

The boys looked at each other and nodded.

“What is it this time, Kevin?” said the clerk as he gave the boys their cash.  “Another couple of possible nuggets you want me to value for you?”

“Nope!” said the old-timer.

“Nope?” said the clerk.  “Not this time?”

“Not this time!”

“ What then?  What can I do for you?”

“You can register my claim to a mine,” said Kevin.  “The best claim you're ever going to register, Johnny!  This time it's for real!  This is going to be the biggest claim since '49!  Maybe ever!”

The clerk stared at him.  “Don't get too carried away, Kev.  Maybe you'd better let me take a look at something before you start getting excited.

Kevin did not reply.  Instead, very deliberately he took a leather-bag from his belt and emptied the contents onto the desk.  The stones lay there, large, dusty and streaked with random gleams.

Johnny looked at them, then picked one up.  He brushed the dust from it with a wash-leather, then examined the rock very closely.  Eventually he picked up a magnifying screw-in eye-glass, like a jeweller's, and examined it even more closely.  He looked at Kevin, picked up another rock  and subjected it to the same process.  He put it down and stared at Kevin.  His silence was more impressive than anything he could have said.

“Whoo-eeee!” said the old-timer, reminding the two cowboys in the room of someone they knew.  “Told you so!  I knew they was real! I seen too many of the other sort to be in any doubt!  And there's plenty more like that where they came from!”

“Congratulations!” said Johnny,  “We'll have to get them checked again,  but I ain't in any doubt either.    It's pay-dirt.  You struck lucky at last!”

“Lucky?” said Kevin, “When I been scratting at rocks and stones for forty years and more?  It's no more than what's due to me!”

“Listen, Kevin” said Johnny.  “You got to be a bit more careful.  If people find out you struck it big, you could be in trouble.  They'll do anything to find out where your claim is, and once they know, they won't be too particular about what they do to you.  I won't say nothin', and I know Joshua and Thaddeus here won't tell anyone.  But don't you tell anyone yourself.  If anyone asks, just say it's the same old story.  No luck.  No gold in these hills.  Keep it to yourself.”

The old man, who up until then had been smiling a wide, if toothless, grin  sobered up immediately.

“You could be right, Johnny, you could be right.”

“He is right,” said Joshua.  “People'll do anything when they hear the word 'gold'.  But if it's security you're looking for, my partner here and me have worked in the security business before.  We' ll watch your back.  And I don't mind telling you that Thaddeus is pretty handy with a gun.”

A cunning look spread over Kevin's grizzled features.  “I might think about it.  But if I do, I'll pay you a wage, that's all.  Don't think you'll be getting any gold for yourselves.  And how do I know you're honest?  Apart from the say-so of my old friend here.  And apart from you look very honest.  Neither of you don't look like thieves.  You look as innocent as babes, the both of you.  You'd be out of your depth with any real crooks.”

“What you going to do with it all, Kev?”  asked Johnny.  “You'll be able to buy yourself a nice little place and get some real peace and comfort in your sunset years.”

“Peace and comfort!” roared Kevin.  “Sunset years!  I ain't in my sunset years!  I'm a man in my prime!  I'm gonna do everything I've missed all this time.  I'm going to stay in the best hotels, I'm going to eat in the best restaurants, drink the best whiskey, and I'm going to get me a wife!”

“A wife?”

“No, not a wife!  A girl-friend!  A lot of girl-friends!  Armfuls of girl-friends!  They can help me spend it all!”

“Steady on, Kevin!  How old are you?”

“I told you!  I'm in my prime!  I'm seventy-eight!”

“Seventy-eight!  Why don't you aim for a bit of peace and quiet!”

“You aim for a bit of peace and quiet!  I'm going to have me a good time.  My old daddy, he lived to be a hundred, and he was still in his prime when he died!  That's what I'm going to be.  I reckon I've still got nearly a quarter of a century of fun ahead of me.  Speaking of which” - he turned to Joshua and Thaddeus - “I'm going to get myself cleaned up later, then I'm going over to the saloon.  Stick with  me tonight, boys, and I'll help you to find a couple of gals.  I don't need to mention gold to get the ladies interested!”

Grinning his toothless grin, he smoothed his white hair with his hand.

The boys, smiling, exchanged glances.

“Well, thanks, Kevin!”  said the blond one.  “If you can guarantee to get us a couple of gals, guess we'll see you over in the saloon later!"
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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:04 pm


One Hundred

“Tails,” blurted Kid Curry.

Hannibal Heyes caught his lucky coin and slapped it onto the back of his wrist.

“Dang!” the Kid began. “Every time!”

“Well, I’ll be! It’s tails, Kid. Looks like you’ve finally done it.”

“Every dog-gone ti…Huh? I won? You sayin’ I finally won a coin toss? Lemme see that thing.” Curry inspected the infamous doubloon. Sure enough, heads on one side, tails on the other. A wide grin spread from cheek to cheek. “Looks like your luck finally run out,” he chuckled.

“I don’t understand it,” Heyes remarked, slipping the prized possession back into his vest pocket.

“Me neither.” His partner shook his head in agreement. “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred…”

“More like a hundred times out of a hundred, Kid. This coin, it’s always been my sure thing. Something I count, just like you count on your fast draw and accuracy, one hundred percent of the time.”

“But there’s always that hundred and first time, Heyes. Every gun fighter knows that.”

The Kid’s attention was momentarily diverted as the door of the stage office creaked opened. Five people stepped from inside to make their way toward the waiting stage.

“And now you know it too. Looks like the infallible Hannibal Heyes ain’t so infallible after all, don’t it?” Curry grinned again, but this time his smile was directed at two women walking slowly, very slowly, arm in arm, over the rutted street.

Three men in business suits hustled past the women, anxious to be on their way.

While Heyes climbed up top with the driver, Curry stepped forward. “Ladies,” he greeted, tipping his hat before offering assistance, first to the elderly woman, then to her young traveling companion.

Deep brown eyes, adorned with long lovely lashes, batted Curry’s direction, then gave him an encouraging smile as she accepted his hand.

Curry looked up to his partner and winked. “Have fun ridin’ shotgun, Joshua.”

The door of the stage gave a loud bang when the Kid swung it tightly shut. His eyes adjusting to the darkness inside the stage, he took note of his fellow travelers. The three businessmen, each seated in a forward-facing position along the rear bench, busied themselves with a variety of activities. The man seated nearest Curry pulled a book from inside his jacket pocket and, very deliberately, set his focus on reading, while the man on the far side opened his satchel and began pouring over documents. The man in the center acknowledged the Kid with a slight nod before pulling his bowler over his eyes and leaning his head back against the wall of the stage.

With a holler from the driver, the team of horses jumped into motion and the stage lurched to a start.

“Whoospie daisy,” the young woman in the center of the rear-facing bench remarked as she latched onto the right arm of Kid Curry. She gave a nervous giggle. “I nearly lost my balance.”

“No problem, ma’am,” the Kid drawled, flashing her a charming smile. “Since we’re gonna be cooped up in these tight quarters all day, guess we might as well get to know one another.”

The man across from them lifted the brim of his the bowler hat momentarily, shooting a fish-eyed look the Kid’s way.

Curry regarded the man with a puzzled glance. “The name’s Jones,” he said, freeing his right arm from the woman’s grip long enough to offer his hand in greeting. “Thaddeus Jones.”

“Abigail Blare.” The young woman placed her small hand into Curry’s. “MISS Abigail Blare.” She smiled ardently. “And this,” she tapped the shoulder of the elderly woman at her right, “is my aunt, Agatha Edgewater Blare.”

The Kid addressed the elderly woman. “Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Blare.”

The elderly woman looked at Curry and smiled, but said nothing before turning her attention back to the scenery outside the window.

“Please excuse Aunt Agatha. She can’t hear a word we’re saying. Lost her hearing completely a couple of years back. Poor thing.”

“That’s a shame,” Curry agreed. “Are you and your aunt traveling on business or pleasure?” he inquired.

Again, the man with the bowler hat shot him a look of warning and again, the Kid returned a puzzled glance.

“I guess you could say we’re traveling on business, since we had to settle Great Uncle Barton’s estate, that’s Great Uncle Barton Edgewater, Aunt Agatha’s father. Lived to a ripe old age, he did. Then one day, Poof! He was gone, just like that. Eating his breakfast porridge one moment and the next, Poof!” She snapped her fingers. “Just like that.”

“But our trip was not without pleasure,” Abigail went on, “because we saw a wonderful stage show while we were in the city. Have you ever seen a stage show, Mr. Jones?”

“Sure have,” Curry nodded. “Me and my partner, Mr. Smith, that’s him ridin’ up top with the driver…”

“Stage shows are so exciting. The theater, the orchestra, not to mention the elegant costumes. So much splendor all in one place, why, it fairly sets the soul to bursting!”

“I know what you mean, Miss Blare. Out in San Francisco…”

“Is that where you and your partner are from, Thaddeus? You don’t mind if I call you Thaddeus, do you? And you can call me Abigail if you’d like. Some folks call me Abby for short. Why, back home, that’s in Arkansas by the way. Why, back home in Arkansas where I grew up, they used to call me Gabby Abby.” She giggled, annoyingly. “Can you imagine that, Thaddeus? I’ll bet you can’t,” Abigail continued without a breath. “Anyway, Aunt Agatha and I have been there too. San Francisco, I mean. We’ve been to concerts and plays and, oh, my, what wonderful shopping! Beautiful silks in vibrant colors, and restaurants with fish, caught fresh from the Bay. Yes, indeed, San Francisco is one amazing city. You and your partner are lucky to be headed there.”

“This stage is headed to Wyoming.”

“Oh by golly, look at the time!” Abigail searched through her carpetbag and found a bottle.

While Abigail poured some of the contents into a cup, Curry read the label. “Carter’s Cure-All.” One whiff confirmed his suspicions. Whiskey. A second whiff caused his eyes to water.

“Aunt Agatha!” Abigail shouted. “It’s time for your medicine!”

As Abigail administered Aunt Agatha’s medication, the Kid glanced at the man with the bowler hat. Even though the hat remained pulled low over his eyes, Curry saw a grin tugging at both corners of the man’s mouth.

“You and your aunt been on this stage long, Abigail?” the Kid ventured.

“Days and days and days. Since St. Louis. Mr. Coburn,” Abigail lowered her voice and gestured to the man beneath the bowler, “has been with us longest. Since Tuesday, I think. He was friendly enough that first day but now, well, I guess he must be feeling poorly because he sure seems to need an awful lot of rest. And the other two fellas, that there is Mr. Woodward, reading the book, he got on the stage on Wednesday. He must love reading because when we stopped in town he bought a whole sack full of books! Mr. McFarland over there, I guess he must be a lawyer or something from the amount of work he brought with him. He doesn’t say much. Been quiet ever since he boarded this stage. Just works, and works, and works.”

“You took a stage all the way from St. Louis? Why didn’t you take the train?”

“Oh, Aunt Agatha never travels by train! Not since the incident. Back before I came to stay with Aunt Agatha, she and her husband, that was my Uncle Roland, they were on a train that was robbed! Can you believe that? I never knew anyone else in all my days who was actually on a train that was robbed. But ever since, Aunt Agatha has refused, I mean stubbornly REFUSED to set foot on a train ever again. Can’t say that I blame her. Uncle Roland lost all the cash in his wallet and Aunt Agatha, she lost her mother’s heirloom brooch and her wedding band, not that her wedding band was REAL gold, it was imitation, but the thieves didn’t know that and they took it. Never-the-less the band had sentimental value. The brooch too, seeing as how it belonged to Great Aunt Min.”

The driver called out a “whoa” and the stage began to slow.

“We’re stopping. You don’t suppose we’re being robbed NOW, do you Thaddeus? I don’t know what I’d do if we were robbed, not that I’m carrying loads of cash on my person, but…”

“We’re stoppin’ to rest and water the horses,” Curry barked.

***

Heyes and Curry stretched their legs at the stage coach way station.

“Thaddeus!” a familiar voice called.

Heyes’ eyes took in the pretty brunette headed toward them. “Looks like your lucky stage ride is paying off, eh Kid?”

The Kid furrowed his brow. “Not now, Heyes.” He turned and pasted a smile onto his face. “Abigail Blare, this is my partner, Joshua Smith. I’ll just let the two of you visit for a bit.” Curry stepped toward a very tiny building.

“But Thaddeus,” Abigail insisted, following him. “I wanted to ask a favor.”

Curry stopped, his hand on the door latch. Abigail bumped into his back. “Can it wait? I’m kinda busy right now.” He pointed to a crescent moon on the door.

“By all means,” Abigail replied, stepping back.

The Kid went inside and shut the door behind him.

“I’ll wait.”

***

Several long moments later, the Kid emerged.

Abigail, seated under a nearby tree with her aunt, flashed him a smile the moment she saw him and waved him over. “I wanted to ask you a favor, Thaddeus. Do you think you and your friend would be able to keep an eye on Aunt Agatha while I help the way stationer’s wife prepare our noon meal? The sooner we get the meal cooked we can eat. And the sooner we eat, we can be on our way. Otherwise we won’t make Wyoming before nightfall, and if that happens, it’ll mean another day on the stage, not that I’d mind another day on the stage visiting with you. You’re so nice and SUCH a good listener. I feel like I could talk to you all day and all night, on and on forever. You’re just… Did anyone ever tell you you’re sweet?” She kissed his cheek. “Thanks for keeping an eye on Aunt Agatha.”

Abigail walked toward the way station house while Curry remained under the tree with Aunt Agatha. Heyes joined them.

“This is Aunt Agatha,” the Kid said, gesturing to the elderly woman seated on a blanket.

“Pleasure to meet you, Aunt Agatha,” Heyes began. “My name is Smith, Joshua…”

“Forget it, Heyes. She can’t hear you. Aunt Agatha’s deaf. Been deaf for a couple of years. And if I were to guess, I’d say she probably lost her hearin’ ‘bout the same time 'Gabby Abby' came to live with her. I swear, Heyes, if I have to get back into that stage with that woman, I’ll…”

“You’ll what?”

“I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t shoot her ‘cause shootin’ her would only add murder to my wanted poster! Although if any judge had to put up with listenin’ to her prattle on, I’ll bet they’d call shootin’ her justifiable homicide!”

“Kid, I’m surprised at you! I’m sure Abigail Blare is a very nice young woman. Not bad to look at either. She can’t be near as bad as you’re making her out to be.”

“Yeah? You try sittin’ with her. When the stage pulls out of here I’m sittin’ up top with the driver and you’re takin’ a turn sittin’ with Abby and Agatha.”

“That’s AUNT Agatha to you, young man.”

Heyes and Curry froze and exchanged a worried glance, then lowered their eyes to the woman seated on the blanket.

“If you think you’ve had a difficult morning listening as my niece ‘prattles on’ as you call it, you ought to try living with her!” She rummaged through Abigail’s carpet bag. “Make yourself useful,” she directed the Kid, “and find my medicine. That girl’s continual chattering could drive a saint to drink.”

“Mrs. Blare, I hope you don’t think that I… that WE… that my partner and I…”

“I heard what you said. You’re Kid Curry and he’s Hannibal Heyes. Don’t even try to deny it. I’d have known who you were even if you hadn’t slipped up, saying each other’s names out loud in front of a witness.”

“Ma’am,” Heyes began, “I don’t know what you THINK you know, but…”

Curry cut in. “She was on a train we robbed, Heyes. Way back. Somebody in the gang stole her weddin’ band.”

“The way I see it, you two young fellas owe me, so here’s what you’re going to do…”

***

The stage pulled out of the way station, Wyoming bound. The three gentlemen in business suits sat together on the forward facing bench, each occupied with the same activities that had kept them busy during the morning leg of their journey. This time, however, Aunt Agatha Blare lounged comfortably on a cushion alone, legs stretched out on the bench to her side.

Several yards behind the wagon, two horses rode side by side. Atop one horse sat Kid Curry. On the other, Abigail Blare.

“It’s SO nice of you, Thaddeus, to think of riding the rest of the way to Wyoming. I just LOVE horses. If I had my way, I’d have ridden the entire country, from east to west and back again. And it’s such a beautiful day, isn’t it? I think we’ve REALLY bonded, Thaddeus, don’t you agree? We’ve become such GOOD friends in such a short time. If you’d like, we could ride on all the way to San Francisco. Oh the things we could talk about on the way! All the adventures we’d have. This is absolutely the BEST trip I’ve ever been on, in my whole entire life! I mean, what do you supposed the odds are of you and me meeting and becoming friends and…”

Curry glowered in silence.

From the top of the stage, next to the driver, Heyes pulled his special coin from his vest pocket and gave it a kiss. “Sorry I doubted you, friend. I should have known that I can ALWAYS count on you! One hundred percent!”
sparkleshoe

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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:22 pm

“Did we lose ‘em?” yelled Wheat up to where the Kid and Heyes were lying prone at the top of the bluff.  He and the rest of the mounted gang waited impatiently for the verdict but the two leaders of the Devil’s Hole gang were concentrating all their attention on the scene below them.  A plume of dust rose off the dusty desert floor several miles away.

“Who would’ve thought that stinkin’ little minin’ town could raise a posse at all let alone raise one that could follow a trail?”  Kid Curry handed the field glasses to his partner and rolled over onto his back gazing blindly up at the clear, blue sky.  

Heyes lifted the glasses to his eyes.  “How many d’you think there are?”

“Any is too many.  They got fresh mounts from that stage stop.  They can go for days; we can’t.”

“I’m serious.”

The Kid turned over onto his stomach again and stared at the waning dust cloud.  The posse had stopped.  Again.  This had been the pattern for the last couple of days.  Every time the gang stopped, the posse stopped as well, keeping their distance.  Always out of reach of the outlaws’ guns.  “The same six or seven that were doggin’ us yesterday, and the day before yesterday.  Not enough dust to be much more’n that.”

“I figure we’ve got twenty or so minutes before they could catch up to us.”

Blue eyes shifted to the dark-haired man.  “They ain’t been tryin’ to catch up to us and I ain’t plannin’ on lettin’ ‘em.  That’s why I’ve been ridin’ my ass off for two days.”

Heyes crawled backwards a few yards and stood up where he knew he couldn’t be seen from below.  “That’s the point.  We’ve tried everything we can think of and they’re still on our tails; must be a professional tracker in the posse.  We’re gonna have to split the gang and the money up.  Pair off in twos.”

“The money?”  The Kid let his friend pull him to his feet with a helpful hand.  “You don’t usually do that.”

“I’m doing it now.” Heyes started down the rise towards his men, but was stopped short when Curry grabbed his arm and spun him around.

“Why?” demanded the Kid, his discomfort written all over his face.  “I don’t like the idea of handin’ my hard-earned cash to those knuckleheads for safekeepin’.”

“The way I see it, we don’t have a choice.  There’s a good reason the posse’s been real careful to stay just out of our range.  They know they’re dealing with Kid Curry thanks to Hank’s slip.  They also know there’re only seven of them and six of us and they aren’t riding worn out nags.  They’re hoping to pick us off one at a time as our horses give out.”

“Sounds like a smart plan to me.”  The Kid let go of Heyes’ arm and the two men carefully picked their way down the sage-dotted upslope.  

“We’ll split up three ways just in case they split, too, but I’m betting they’re gonna follow you and me.  That twenty grand reward has got to be looking good to them.  We can give the boys a chance to get away and we’ll stand a better chance of shaking them when it’s just us.”

“So far I ain’t likin’ this plan,” growled Curry.  

“It’s all I’ve got, Kid.”

“So why divvy up the money, why not just give it all to Wheat?”

“’Cause if I’m wrong and they go after Wheat and Kyle or Hank and Lobo; we’ll minimize our losses.  Two thirds of six grand is better than nothing.”  

“Makes sense.”  

The partners fell silent as they neared their men.  

“Did we lose ‘em?” repeated Wheat, hopefully.

The Kid took the reins to his bay gelding from Lobo as Heyes untied the sack of stolen money from the horn of his saddle.  He hastily grabbed a portion of the cash and handed it up to Hank before digging deep for another fistful of bills.  “We’re splitting up.  Lobo, you and Hank stay together.  Wheat, you and Kyle; we’re gonna try to draw ‘em off.  Walk your horses for the first few miles so you don’t raise dust and they get some more rest.”  He thrust the sack up to the big, mustached outlaw and tucked the remaining cash into his coat pockets.  “If you get caught, maybe you can buy yourself a helluva lawyer,” said a grim-faced Wheat.  “Good luck.”  

Heyes and the Kid waited until their men had ridden out of sight then rode quietly up to the top of the bluff and walked slowly along its edge in full view of the waiting posse.  For several minutes nothing happened and it was plain that vigorous discussion was taking place amongst their pursuers.  Heyes could only wish he could hear the conversation.

“Looks like the drawin’ off part’s workin’,” said Curry.  Sure enough, the entire posse had veered in their direction and was closing the distance.

“Time to get to work on the shaking ‘em part,” answered Heyes as he sent his tired horse into a gallop.

oooOOOooo

The sorrel scrambled up the rocky hill, stumbling several times from fatigue.  Heyes gave the horse its head and sat quietly, letting the animal find its footing.  “Atta boy.  C’mon. C’mon.”  He could hear the clatter of the Kid’s gelding behind him.  They were leaving the desert scrub and climbing towards a thick pinyon juniper forest surrounding a rocky mesa.  The trees would offer them more opportunities than the arid open land had and the rocky, rising landscape would give them an advantage.  It was only a few hundred yards further, but Heyes knew they didn’t have much time left.  His horse was nearly spent.  The best part of another day had passed and they hadn’t been able to lose their pursuers.  Now the posse was getting close.  It was over.  They were done running.

As the two riders entered the shelter of the trees, they pulled up their exhausted horses.  Both beasts were thickly lathered.  Their heads hung down low and their sides heaved with the effort of drawing breaths.  Heyes dismounted and pulled off his saddlebags.  He tied his reins around the saddle horn, releasing his animal.  Curry dropped to the ground and leaned against his horse for support.  He rested quietly for a couple of minutes and then tied his reins as well and removed his saddlebags.  He gave the bay a gentle pat and then whipped off his hat, waving his arms and growling at the startled animals.  Without the weight of a rider, the revived animals took off bucking and kicking out in their eagerness to leave the humans behind.  The Kid watched them go and then turned to a panting Heyes.  “Hopefully, they’ll give us a few minutes.”

Heyes smiled sadly, “Where d’you wanna make our stand, partner?”

Squinting against the glare of the setting sun, the Kid pointed to a large jumble of huge boulders and broken trees resting at the foot of the mesa.  “That rockfall’s as good a place as any.  We can rest in the shade until the posse figures out what they’re gonna do with us.”  Wearily, the two men started walking.

“What you really mean is figure out if they want to take us dead or alive.”

“Yep, and then I guess we’re gonna have to figure out whether we fight or we surrender.”

Heyes frowned.  “If they give us a chance to surrender, we will.  If they come in for the kill, we fight.  How many bullets you got?”  He opened the flap of his saddlebag and did a quick inventory of his own ammunition.  

“I got a full box and maybe another fifteen rounds.  You?”

“Maybe forty or so cartridges.”

“That’s a little over one hundred rounds.  I reckon that’ll slow them down a tad, but not for long.  We’ll be sittin’ ducks.”

“That’s real encouraging, Kid.”

“Hey, I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.”

oooOOOooo

After an unsatisfying dinner of cold beans, the Kid and Heyes were fighting off sleep.  They’d heard the posse arriving a few hours ago and had amused themselves listening to the scuffling footsteps as the deputized lawmen had found their own concealment to wait out the night.  

“We’ve got a few more hours to dawn.  I reckon they’ll make their move at first light.”

“I don’t know, Kid.  So far they’ve been more concerned with saving their tails.  If they rush us, they know someone’s gonna die real fast and it ain’t gonna be one of us.  I’m betting they starve us out.”  Heyes fell silent for several minutes staring at the empty tin cans from their dinner before adding, “You still got more cans of beans?”

“Don’t tell me the thought of dyin’ is workin’ up your appetite.”

“No.  Better.  I’ve got an idea.”

“What?  You plannin’ on fartin’ your way to freedom?”

Heyes turned a pained expression on his partner. “Just get me the beans.”  He started digging through his own bags, coming up with a can of peaches, two cans of tomatoes, a fork, and a can opener.  Curry produced three more cans of beans.  Using the opener, Heyes opened the can of peaches halfway around the top and bent the lid back.  He stuck the fork in it and handed it to the Kid.  “Eat.”

“I ain’t hungry.”

“Then dump it out but don’t open it any further.”

Curry squinted at Heyes trying to decide if he was serious.  He began eating the peaches.  Heyes dumped out the contents of the other cans into the dirt.  Using his spare socks from his bags, he quickly wiped out the cans and set them carefully to one side.  

“Oh, I get it.  We’ll starve faster if we throw our food out.  Save the posse some time.  Yep, that’s a real smart plan.”

“Shut up and fetch me something to start a fire with,” snapped Heyes.

“Least we’ll die warm,” grumbled the Kid.  He ambled around the boulders picking up splinters of wood and broken, dried branches of the crushed trees.

oooOOOooo  

The night sky glowed slightly to the east, but darkness still highlighted Heyes’ small, hot fire.  It was dying down to embers.  He blew on the flames fanning the coals to a red hot glow then took his knife from the shaft of his boot and stabbed at the coals, breaking them into smaller pieces.

Curry sat back and finished the peaches, watching his partner and wondering if the pressure had finally gotten to be too much for him.

“It’s right nice of you to light the place up for ‘em, makes it real easy for them to shoot us when they close in.”

Heyes ignored him.  He reached for one of the empty cans and snatched the fork from the Kid’s fingers.

“Hey!  I wasn’t done.”

“It’s ready,” said Heyes cryptically. Using the fork, he gingerly fished a glowing coal from the fire and slipped it into the can followed by several more.  

“What the hell are you doin’, Heyes?”

A delighted, maniacal smile assured the Kid his partner was acting normally, and he waited for an answer.

“The gang’s coming to our rescue, Kid.”

A brief look of worried disbelief scurried across Curry’s face, chased by a dawning smile.  “Heyes!  You really are the genius you think you are.”  Laughing, he added.  “Here, take my gloves.  You hold ‘em, I’ll fill ‘em.”  Soon the cans were lined up next to one of the boulders.  Heyes kicked dirt over the remaining fire and the shadows turned to absolute blackness.  He tore open his box of cartridges.  With a grin at his partner, he dropped some of the ammunition into a can and the Kid bent the lid shut.  In one swift, smooth motion, Curry lobbed the can out into the dark night.  

Almost instantly, the cartridges exploded and clattered within the cans for several seconds with one or two shooting out and ricocheting harmlessly off a rock.  As the noise died down, the swearing began.  A second can was thrown through the darkness followed by a third and a forth.  The phony gunfire erupted from every direction.  The posse snapped into action and returned fire into the woods behind them, shattering tree limbs and terrifying their mounts in the process.  Horses reared back in fear and several broke their tethers, galloping away madly from the ensuing chaos.  

Heyes waited until the shots died away, and then screamed at the top of his lungs.  “Wheat, Kyle, hold your fire.  Give ‘em a chance to surrender.  Devil’s Hole gang ain’t taking to killing now.”  He paused.

“Sheriff, you giving up or should I let my men keep shooting?”  He and the Kid smiled conspiratorially as the swearing started up again.  Without giving the lawman time to think, Heyes filled the last two cans in quick succession and Curry threw them out.  The subsequent burst of rounds caused the posse members to stand up from their hiding places, tossing down their weapons and putting their hands up.  “Call off your men, Heyes, we give up!” yelled the sheriff.

Heyes and the Kid came out from their hiding place with their guns drawn.

oooOOOooo

The Kid finished tying off the last deputized citizen to a small pinyon while Heyes checked the bindings holding the sheriff snugly against the rough bark of a juniper.

“You’ll pay for this, Heyes,” threatened the sheriff.

Heyes gave him a dimpled smile.  “We’ll see about that, Sheriff Clitterhouse.  Somehow I don’t think you’re gonna want word to spread you surrendered without us even firing a shot.”

“Might be kinda hard to keep that secret, Heyes,” grinned Curry.  “You know how things slip out when you least expect.  Why I bet you’ll be the laughin’ stock of the entire county in no time, Sheriff.”

The two outlaws could still hear the sound of the sheriff’s swearing floating down the hillside as they rounded up the string of horses before riding towards home.

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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:08 am

I thought I should make the effort for the hundredth challenge, so, it may not be smooth - in fact some of the contents have been audibly forced in, but in celebration of a continuous Eight Years and Four Months, here are...

One hundred challenges and counting...

Two sets of booted feet are propped on a porch rail.   Two cigars trickle smoke into the moonlight 1 .  Two sets of eyes, one deep brown, the other forget-me-not   2 blue contemplate the peaceful scene.  

Heyes breaks the contented silence, “Can you believe it’s over three years since the governor finally came good on his promise?”

Seeing is believing 3 , Heyes.”  

“He sure kept us waiting for the glad tidings 4 .  It was five years earlier 5 we met with Miss Birdie and you got set on amnesty…”

I got set…?”

“I’m not saying you made the wrong choice 6, Kid.  Just with it all being your idea…”

“All my idea…?”

“Makes me wonder how come I hadta talk you outta giving up 7 so often.”

Kid Curry open his mouth to protest, sees the twinkle in Heyes’ eyes, closes it again.  

“That job on the Columbine train sure wasn’t our best day,” muses Heyes.

“Mighta been our longest day 8 – sure felt like it.”

“I’d got one of the best laid plans 9 – completely fool proof 10 …”

“Fool proof, maybe.  Kyle proof – not so much.

“Well, that’s Murphy’s law 11 .  If nothing can go wrong, something will.”

“Shouldn’t that be - Murtry’s Law?”

A crack of laughter from Heyes.  “Murphy and Murtry are kinda dead ringers 12 at times.” A contented sigh.  “We had a few adventures over the last eight years, huh?”

“You might even say – authentic experiences 13 ,” agrees Curry.

“D’you remember the first job we did for Big Mac?”

“Yup. Though, I’m guessin’ me rememberin’ isn’t gonna stop you givin’ the flash back 14.”

“We were kinda new to the job 15 of playing it straight.   Still thinking we might find a fair day’s work 16 that wasn’t too hard on the back 17 .  The secret being to stay outta temptation’s way.”

“I recall you bein’ pretty tempted   18 by the money in that safe.”

“Good thing I resisted, huh?  What with Armenderiz treating that dang head as a matter of honour 19, not as stealing?  I guess there’s a certain justice 20 there.”

“Otherwise we’d still be starin’ at a locked door 21 in Mexico.”  Kid Curry gives a reminiscent grin.  “Big Mac sure was one of the most larcenous fellas I’ve ever met.  And, that’s present company 22 included – which is sayin’ somethin’.”

Heyes blinks in mild affront.

“I’ll never forget the look on your face, Heyes.  You’d laid your cards on the table, 23 you were reachin’ towards that pot, thought you’d got the winnin’s all safely gathered in   24 – and Big Mac sprung that Hoyle rule on ya.  Heyes’ folds   25… Never thought I’d see it.”

“I don’t recall you enjoyin’ it so much at the time.”

“Well, that’s one of the benefits I get from havin’ a simple philosophy, Heyes.  Time heals all.”

Kid Curry receives a version of ‘the look’.  He ignores it and continues in a contemplative tone.  “I guess it proves the truth of that old proverb   26 of my mother’s; ‘never start countin’ chickens   27 till they’re hatched’.”

“Your mother was a crook.” 28

An acknowledging shrug from the Kid.

“Leastways Big Mac didn’t beat the odds   29 on me making five pat hands.  Hearts   30 flush, diamonds   31 flush – and the rest.  We got our money back.”

“Yeah - for all of ten seconds!”

“True.  Taken all in all – that first time in Red Rock was one of our more disastrous enterprises   32.  No escaping Nemesis   33  that time.”

“You read too dang much, Heyes.”  Pause.  “Sure didn’t go well.  The only thing missing from the scene   34 was spottin’ Wade Sawyer.”

A rueful laugh from Heyes.  “Sawyer has kinda haunted   35 us. Him lying in wait   36 where we least expect him is kinda a tradition   37.   D’you recall he was behind us first meeting   38 Harry Briscoe?”

“Is this evenin’ gonna be a stroll through all our old acquaintance   39, Heyes?”

A man has to do what a man has to do   40 – and telling tales   41 is what I do.  So, you’d convinced me to trade our horses   42 for a poker stake…”

I convinced you…”

“You had great expectations   43 of me winning us enough to winter south of the border.  Given the competition   44 – I’d more’n a sporting chance   45.   Let’s throw our hats   46 in the ring you said …”

“Heyes’ that was you…”

I wasn’t cross over 47 what happened, Kid.  You couldn’t foresee the consequences   48 any more than me.   I recall I was just counting our blessings   49 we’d not been spotted, we’d enough to buy tickets – and weren’t hopping the train   50 .  Then, we saw that first wig come off - sure was a twist in the tale   51 that day.  Why did we go the way we went?   52 Looking back, we shoulda waited for the stage.”

Kid Curry raises an eyebrow.  “Lookin’ back, waitin’ for the stage never went so well neither.  Remember Clint Weaver holdin’ us up outta Benton Pass?”

“I recall Charlie Uttley’s rifle   53 pointed at us, and the dollar signs in a few folks’ eyes when they heard about the bounty   54 on our heads.”

“That sure turned into a stand off   55.  Guess we were lucky we had us a defensive position   56.”

“Not so much so for Harry Downs.”

“Well, he was having a bad day.  And there was sure no love lost   57 between you and him, Kid.   Then not three weeks later – we get held up again.  And spotted again.  Remember?”

A darkling look is thrown at Heyes.  “I remember the diggin’.  And, that dang long march   58.  An’ the note from Prudence which pretty much said; I’m outta here   59, suckers, and I'm taking the money with me.”

“I remember Lesley accepting our invitation   60 to join us in Denver…”

Our invitation?  That was you, Heyes.”

“Be fair, Kid.  Denver is a likeable town   61.  What makes it likeable?  Fancy eating and drinking.  Fancy hotels.  Fancy shows.  Aren’t all those foolish things   62 better with a pretty girl on your arm?”

“She wasn’t on my arm, Heyes.”

“Fair coin toss, Kid.”   Heyes’ turn to blow a smoke ring.  “Just like the one that had you diggin’.”

“Whose coin? Fool me once   63, Heyes…”

“Once?  I make it one hundred   64 and counting…” Heyes grins at his partner.  “Hey, you know me better’n that.  We’ve been close since our kid days   65.  Winning the toss, it’s just a gift   66.  Would I lie   67 to you?”

The answer is written all too clearly on the Kid’s sceptical face.

“D’you remember Grace Turner?”

“Are you tryin’ to change the subject, Heyes?”

“Yup.  Do you remember …?”

“Of course I remember her.  I saved her life from that dang snake – and she turned me in.”

Another hard lesson   68 for you, Kid – no good deed goes unpunished   69.  And with the help of two very wise men   70…”

A questioning look from Kid Curry.

“Soapy Sam – and me…”

The Kid rolls his eyes.

“Grace did get her comeuppance.  We persuaded her Soapy was the goose that laid the golden   71 eggs   72 and … watched her fall   73 into our trap.  A trap set for purely practical reasons - not ‘cos we bore a grudge.”

“Grudges are for folk with bad stomachs,” agrees Curry.  His blue eyes darken.  “Mostly.”

Heyes glances at his partner’s suddenly serious face.   “Course, there’s another lesson you needed to learn from the Grace incident, bad things happen when we separate   74.  For instance, that time something real bad happened in Wichita   75…”

“Seems the worst thing happened when we were together.”  

Heyes sighs.   “You’re thinking of when we met… Not that I’ve anything against fourth of July   76 celebrations   77 as a rule.  Seeing the stars and stripes   78 flying.  Hearing the declaration of independence   79 and all those fine folk making speeches   80 ‘bout the democratic process   81.”  

A pause.  A muscle in the Kid’s jaw tightens.

“Don’t brood on it, Kid.   Bilson backed you into it…”

“Did he?  Didn’t we make a resolution   82 to get even for his betrayal   83 of…” Curry’s voice catches.  “Of Seth.”

“We’d resolved on getting our money back.  It’d be making a leap   84 to say you planned shooting him dead.    Even after him calling our bluff   85 – you’d’a settled for walking away if he hadn’t forced your hand.”

“Would I?”

“Yup.   ‘Cos I’d have made you.”  Pause.  “Rest easy, Kid.  He got what he deserved.  If we’d brung him in front of a jury the verdict   86 would have been guilty.”  

Pause.  Heyes swats away a fire fly.  “Like little torches   87, aren’t they?”

Nothing from the brooding one.

“If we’re remembering panning for gold – I think recalling the time up at Clarence’s claim is more cheerful.  Poor Clarence, giving up his death bed secrets   88 – then finding all he had was a case of exhaustion.”  

A small acknowledging smile from the Kid.

“The look on everyone’s face when we the door opened on all that snow   89.  Never mind you bein’ ill – the whole lot of us were, literally, under the weather   90.”

Curry groans at the pun.

“Not one of us had spotted the storm clouds   91 warning we were running late   92 on getting down the mountain,” muses Heyes.  “Mind, it was far too quiet   93 that morning.  That should have given it away.”    

“Sure was a long winter,” agrees Curry.  “Thanksgiving   94 and Christmas   95 all penned up in that cabin.”

“Listening to Clarence telling stories of when he first came West as a forty-niner   96…”

“Listening to you gettin’ all sentimental an’ recitin’ ‘Twas the night before Christmas   97… Then saying ghost stories were traditional and making us all sit through Twas a dark and stormy night   98…”

“I don’t remember that.”

“You were kinda drunk, Heyes.”

“You sure I did that?”

“Fetch a stethoscope – test me.”

Heyes pulls a pocket watch from his vest.  “Nah.  It’s midnight   99.  I’m for bed.”  He heaves himself from his chair and strolls inside.  

Heyes was gone,   100” murmurs Curry.  “Kid could hardly believe it…”


ONE HUNDRED AND COUNTING….[/b]


Last edited by Calico on Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:03 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:52 pm

The Hundred(th)

 

The man in the red shirt and floppy brown hat pushed into the saloon. He paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the dim interior. As he made his way to the bar, his glance flicked over the few customers. There was nobody he knew and he swallowed a lump of disappointment.

“What can I get ya?” the bartender asked, polishing the bar in his direction.

“Beer.”

Red Shirt sorted through his handful of coins with a sigh. He stacked most of them on the bar in return for a foaming beer. Taking a long pull, he let out a long contended sigh. It was good to stop riding.

He had ridden long and hard. It had been several days since he had anything other than water and jerky. It was late evening and he was tired. A decent meal and a comfortable bed would be welcome right about about now. He also knew they were unlikely to be forthcoming unless his fiscal situation improved rapidly. If it didn’t, there would be no other choice but to spend another uncomfortable night outside on the ground.

In the mirror behind the bar, he saw no sign of a poker game about to commence. Even if there were, the players would just laugh at him if he put down his sixteen cents stake. No, he had to nurse this beer and hope his partner arrived before too long.

Pushing away from the bar, he took up a corner table. From there he could watch both the main street door and the smaller alley door, where men disappeared and then reappeared a short while later.

He wondered how long he would have to wait. He and his partner had separated three days ago and the plan was to meet up here in Lasso City. The first to arrive was to wait two days and then proceed. Red Shirt ran a hand over his face with tiredness. His partner had the easier ride and should be here by now. Another quick scan round the room told him he wasn’t. At least …

He hadn’t noticed before. He had been looking at faces. On a table in the middle of the room was a half-drunk beer. There were no other clues to the owner of the beer. Except one. Red Shirt sat up with interest now. On the back of the chair by the beer was a bandana. Common enough design true enough but there was something familiar about this one. One of the ends had a knot in it. The end he could see.

Red Shirt smiled. He hide it by taking a mouthful of beer. So? Where was he? The owner of the knotted bandana and the half-drunk beer. Red Shirt was halfway through his beer and feeling a little more relaxed when he found out.

The alley door opened. A man in a dark blue shirt and battered black hat came in. He scanned the saloon, eyes lighting on Red Shirt without interest before moving on. He went back to his beer and took a mouthful. He rubbed a finger over his top lip and scowled irritably.

Red Shirt studied Blue Shirt. He had his back to him but Red Shirt could spot a fellow weary traveller. Red Shirt grinned when Blue Shirt took off his black hat in a slightly awkward way. Carefully, as if there was something underneath he didn’t want to come off with it. His fingers patted down the straight dark hair. Blue Shirt leant back in his chair and stretched. He also yawned expansively before settling back to drink more of his beer.

Red Shirt sipped his own beer, thoughtfully. His jaw unconsciously moved in a chewing action.

A sudden commotion outside interrupted his musings. There was excited shouting and hurrahs, the odd celebratory gunshot. There was also a few boos. Then a man ran into the saloon.

“They’ve got ‘em!” he shouted. “I can’t believe it! They’ve gone and got ‘em!”

“Got who, Deke?” the bartender asked.

“Posse outta Laws Town is bringing ‘em in now. Gonna lock ‘em up in our jail for the night. Can you believe it?”

“Who?”

“They’ve only gone and got Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes!”

With a whoop and a holler, Deke was gone. The few customers and the bartender began to talk at once. As a man, they got up, pushing their way outside to view the spectacle. This wasn’t something you saw every day. This was history and they wanted to be a part of it. To be able to tell their children, grandchildren and anyone else who might be interested that they were there when the law finally captured the two most successful outlaws in the West.

Blue Shirt got to his feet with everybody else. Red Shirt remained seated but he watched Blue Shirt’s back. As Blue Shirt started for the door, snatching up his hat, Red Shirt quickly took a gulp of beer and followed.

Red Shirt and Blue Shirt stood side by side, although Blue Shirt was a head taller. Sure enough down the middle of the street rode a group of men. The front two wore stars on their shirts. The next two had their hands tied behind their backs. Behind them came six other men, some with rifles at the ready.

The party stopped down the street a little, outside the jail. The two captive men sat their horses patiently until men from the posse were ready to help them dismount. It may just have been a trick of light but one looked like he was wearing a red shirt, the other a dark blue shirt. Once they were on the ground, the posse formed a tight circle around them and ushered them into the jail.


Excitement over, the townsfolk moved away murmuring to each other. Red Shirt and Blue Shirt returned to the saloon and went back to their separate tables. Both sighed deeply.

 


 

On the hotel porch, two men sat and watched the events with interest. They had arrived in town late afternoon and settled into the hotel, bathed, dined and were now relaxing with a drink and cigars. Three long hard days they had been on the trail and were grateful for the rest. One was blond, wearing a light tan leather jacket over a white shirt. The other was dark haired, also wearing a white shirt with a string tie, under a brown corduroy jacket.

“That’s interesting,” Blond Hair said.

“Sure is,” agreed Dark Hair. He grinned and returned to suck life into his cigar. “This was a good plan. We don’t have to do a thing. Let the law do the work for a change.”

Blond Hair grinned at him. “Yeah ‘bout time they had summat to do.”

“And they’ve got plenty of work to do this time.” Dark Hair chuckled eagerly. “Figuring out exactly what went down.”

Blond Hair nodded and pursed his lips. “I think you’re right. Be good for ‘em. We’re doing a public service. Keeping ‘em on their toes.”

Dark Hair grinned. “Sure am. There’s nothing I like more than keeping the law on their toes,” he chuckled.

They both looked round as the maid from the hotel brought out a basket of laundry. Although dark, it was a warm night. The laundry would dry by the morning. As they watched, she pegged out a red shirt and a dark blue shirt.

Both men grinned as they sucked on their cigars.

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Three days earlier

“Right boys d’ya all understand what I’m asking you to do?” Heyes asked his men arranged in a semi-circle round him. He looked at the six men and scratched his cheek. Not perfect but at a distance, if you squinted or caught sight of them out of the corner of your eye …. They might just pass. In which case his plan would work.

The six men glanced at each other doubtfully. Wheat sniffed. “Dang fool plan if’n ya ask me …”

“Well we ain’t, Wheat,” the Kid told him firmly. “Ya had your opportunity to duck outta this earlier.”

Wheat sniffed again. “Yeah … well … there’s the young ones to look out for ain’t there? I outta be on hand ‘case things get … kinda outta hand … an’ they need my help.”

“Yeah Wheat an’ we’re real grateful you decided to participate …”Heyes started, and then wondered how he was going to finish. “Lending … your … reassuring presence to our endeavour,” he finished and flashed a quick grin. He stood hands on hips and gave the men a final once over. “Okay,” he sighed. “If you’re sure there’s no more questions … best get on your ways, boys. Good luck.”

Heyes and the Kid watched as the Gang mounted up and moved out of the Hole. The Kid slapped Heyes on the shoulder as he stood with his arms folded.

“D’you reckon they can pull this off?”

Heyes twitched his head. “Well I hope so. Either way we’re gonna find out just how accurate those descriptions of us are.” Then he chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Sure must be some wild versions out there!”

Then Heyes grinned. “C’mmon, partner we’ve got us a bank to rob!”

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Heyes and the Kid were dozing in chairs on the porch of the leader’s cabin in Devil’s Hole. At least the Kid was dozing. Heyes was swinging his crossed leg and tapping the arms of his chair. He was anxious.

“Sure is peaceful here without the Gang ain’t it?” Heyes sighed, trying to make conversation.

“Real nice,” the Kid mumbled from under his hat.

“D’you think they’re alright?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t think they should be back by now?”

Heyes leaned his chin on an elbow and stared at the route into the Hole.

“Nope.”

The Kid raised his hat and looked over at Heyes’ back.

“You’ll hear ‘em,” he growled.

“I know! I know!” Heyes looked round. “Suppose summat went wrong?”

“Like what?”

“I dunno!”

The Kid growled again and dropped his hat over his face. “Go an’ pace or summat. Whatever it is jus’ do it quietly. An’ stop worrying!”

“Worrying! Who’s worrying?” Heyes demanded, swinging round.

“You are,” the Kid chuckled. “You’re like an ole Mother Hen.”

“Am not!” Heyes said petulantly and turned back to watch the trail in.

“Then you’re sure not doing a good job of somebody not worrying.”

Heyes growled and then sniffed. “That’s a double negative,” he spluttered finally.

The Kid thought he’d settled but then Heyes got up suddenly. He stalked to the middle of the yard. “They should be back by now,” he muttered, standing hands on hips, watching the trail for any sign of movement.

The Kid sighed and smacked his lips.

“There’s summat up. I know it.” Heyes continued to fume and crossed his arms firmly.

The Kid wisely said nothing and returned to his doze. A while later he smiled under his hat when he heard the three deliberate shots from the direction of Dead Land’s Point. Somebody was coming into the Hole.

It was ten minutes before six men rode into the yard. Two wore red shirts, two wore dark blue shirts and two wore white shirts. The Kid pushed back his hat and leaned forward. Heyes was all smiles now.

“See I told ya they’d be back,” he told the Kid smugly. “You worry too much Kid.”

“Yeah, Heyes,” the Kid said, rolling his eyes. “I must get that seen to.”

He joined Heyes in the yard as the six rode up.

“How’d it go fellas?”

“Jus’ like Heyes said it would,” said one of the Red Shirts.

Heyes smiled smugly.

The shorter Red Shirt took off his brown floppy hat. This time the blond hair came with it and the scruffy little man underneath gave his head a good itching.

“Sure am glad to get rid o’ that. Dunno how ya stand it Kid.”

“Good to see ya, Kyle,” the Kid grinned.

Heyes laughed and looked up, closing one eye against the sun. “Any trouble?” he asked the taller of the Blue Shirts.

“Naw! ‘Course I knew there wouldn’t be. Me being in charge an’ all.”

“Yeah, Wheat, right.” Heyes held the horse as Wheat dismounted. He looped the reins round the hitching post and turned to the other Red and Blue Shirts. “They let you go alright?”

“Sure. Didn’t take ‘em that long to figure out we weren’t Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry,” said Blue Shirt.

“And that we weren’t wanted for anything neither!” added Red Shirt.

Heyes laughed and clapped his hands. “Well done Hank. Well done Gid.” He shook hands with both men. “Welcome to Devil’s Hole fellas.”

“You mean, we’re in?” the red shirted Gideon asked, eagerly.

“Well yeah I reckon so. That was a brave thing you fellas did, pretending to be me and the Kid.”

“We was brave too!” Kyle protested. “Me and Wheat.”

“Sure you were Kyle. Somebody could hav’ spotted ya were Kid Curry and shot ya,” Wheat chortled, leaning nonchalantly against the post, arms folded. The black hat he had been wearing with the brown hair fixed inside now balanced on the hitching rail.

“Shuddup, Wheat.”

Heyes turned his attention to the two White Shirts. “Lobo? Preacher? How’d it go?”

Both shrugged. Preacher tugged at the string tie. “Brown ain’t my colour Heyes. The Good Lord prefers me in black.”

Lobo growled. “I’ve had this ALL the way back. How if anything happens, the Good Lord won’t recognise ‘im ‘cos he ain’t wearing black,” he sneered. Then he grinned. “Thanks for the loan of your jacket Kid. I feel real smart.” He looked at the light tan jacket admiringly.

“It was jus’ a loan, Lobo,” the Kid said, warningly. “Good to see all you fellas. Get the horses seen to and we’ll see you over at the bunkhouse in a whiles. We’ve got the money to split and then some celebrating to do.”

The six arrivals trooped off happily. The two leaders watched them go and the Kid slapped Heyes on the shoulder.

“Well Heyes your chicks are home safe. You can stop worrying now.”

“I wasn’t worried.” The Kid gave him a doubtful look as he turned to go in. “I wasn’t!” Heyes insisted, following him.


 


 

“It was real smart of ya Heyes, having us all dress as the Kid and ya,” Lobo said, later as the Gang recalled what had happened.

“I figured the sheriff would wanna go after the two fellas wiv the most on their heads.” Heyes grinned. “An’ that’ll be me and the Kid.”

Wheat sniffed. “Some kinda miracle that it worked,” he muttered.

Kyle laughed. “The real miracle Wheat is Heyes getting’ ya to shave off ya mo’stash.” The others all laughed now pointing their fingers at Wheat’s bare upper lip.

“Shuddup, Kyle. ‘Leastways it stopped yous chewing that chaw all the time,” Wheat hit back.

Kyle looked hurt. “Reckon Heyes did me a real good favour there. I ain’t never gonna chew that stuff agin.” He looked determined; the others looked doubtful.

“Ya shoulda seen the look on that sheriff’s face when he realised he ain’t got Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes,” Hank grinned.

“Yeah I bet it was a picture,” Heyes grinned. “It was a great diversion boys. Getting in and outta the bank was real easy with everybody looking the other way. I sure do thank ya.” Heyes raised his glass in salute.

“We sure do thank you Heyes, if’n you got the money,” Lobo growled.

“Sure I do. You’re earned it. Couldna done it without you boys.” Heyes nodded to the Kid and he got up to go get the money.

“Ya saying we don’t usually earn it?” Wheat was indignant.

Heyes looked round at him. “No I ain’t saying that at all, Wheat.” Heyes’ tone had taken on a hard edge. “I’m saying pretending to be me and the Kid was hard. All of ya’s. It ain’t easy to make it look believable. An’ ya did. Carried it right off.” Now Heyes’ mouth twitched into a smile. “Bet that sheriff’s fit to bust. Sure would like to see what’s occurring in that town today.”

The Gang chortled.

The Kid was back in a little while with a stack of bills and a large bottle. The bills he gave to Heyes.

“What ya got there Kid?” Kyle wanted to know as the Kid started to unwind the metal tie on the top of the bottle.

The Kid looked at Heyes, counting out six even piles of money. Heyes paused in his dealing.

“Well fellas it occurred to me that this was a special job. Not least ‘cos you were all playing Spartacus …”

“Who’s that?”

“Ain’t that the Greek kid who rides with the Thursdale Gang?”

“Nah! His name’s Spiros.”

Heyes shut his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The he waved his hand dismissively. “Never mind,” he shuddered. “It’s a special job ‘cos it’s the hundredth job we’ve done since I’ve been in charge. So I figured that deserved a celebration. I got us a bottle of champagne.” He indicated the bottle the Kid was struggling to open. “Better get yourselves a clean glass, boys. It looks like it’s gonna blew ….” Heyes moved back quickly.  “Point it at the ceiling not me!”

The Kid just managed to do that before the cork exploded. Once everybody had a filled glass, Heyes raised his. “I’d like to propose a toast, fellas. To a hundred jobs big and small. Here’s to a hundred more!”

There was a cheer of agreement, followed by loud slurping and then tortured faces.

“Don’t think much of this ‘ere champagne,” said Kyle.

“Some pain, I’d call it,” said Wheat dumping the rest of his in the plant Kyle was nurturing.

“Hey! That stuff might kill Terry!”

Heyes and the Kid swopped grins. Time moved on but somethings always stayed reassuringly the same.
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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:23 pm

One Hundred

Angry storm clouds rolled down the mountain into the valley, attacking two lonely travelers.  The wind howled and slowed the progress of their animals.  The men tightened their stampede strings and pulled coat collars up.  The horses bowed their heads low as they leaned into the storm, plodding through.

“Kid, the horses aren’t gonna last long,” Heyes shouted over to his partner.

“Neither are we if we don’t find shelter soon.”  Kid Curry shivered as the temperature plummeted.  “Isn’t Deer Creek around here?”

“I thought so.  Wasn’t much of a town last time we were there.”

The rain fell from the heavens, racing sideways as it followed the path of the wind.

Kid strained his eyes.  “What’s that?” he yelled and pointed to their right.

“Looks like shelter to me,” Heyes answered back and reined his horse towards it.

The animals fought the wind for each step they took, making a mile to the shelters take much longer than normal.

A wooden sign hanging by one hook greeted them to Deer Creek.

“Looks deserted.”  Heyes took in the leaning buildings and the hotel that collapsed.  No lights shown through a window.

“Where do you wanna stay?”  Curry noted the jail sign swinging in the wind.  “The jail’s made of stone and looks sturdy.”

“Better than the hotel and some of these other buildings.”  Heyes dismounted and pushed the door open to the jail.  A large desk dominated the front room and there was a large pot belly stove in the corner.  The two cells held two cots each.  “It’ll be protection from this storm.”

Curry nodded and slid off his gelding.  Both men untied their bedrolls and saddle bags, dropping them inside the door.  

“Have to find someplace for the horses and quick.  Looks like the worst of the storm’s still comin’.”  Heyes went out and led his mare down the street.

“Livery don’t look too bad.”  The Kid leaned into the wind, making his way to the large barn.  The door was gone and the wind came in through the gaps in the siding, but the building provided shelter from the brunt of the wind and storm.

Heyes and the Kid removed the saddles and wiped down their animals the best they could.  A rusty pump was coaxed to life and water filled an old wooden trough.

“That should be good.”  Curry stated.  “We should probably gather some of this wood lyin’ around for a fire.”

The men braved the storm with their arms full of wood as they walked a few buildings away.  The door to the jail was banging with the wind.  They walked inside and dropped the wood by the stove, shut the door, and locked it securely.

Heyes shivered.  “I can’t believe how cold it got.  Wouldn’t be surprised if we woke up to snow.”

“I can’t believe we lost that bounty hunter.”  Curry shook a lantern he found.  Hearing oil sloshing around he smiled as he pulled a match out of his pocket and lit the wick.  “Our luck is holdin’ out.”

“Yeah, he sure didn’t want to give up, even with some persuasion.  Thank goodness for us his horse went lame on him.”  Heyes inspected the stove.  “Seems like it’s still sturdy.”

“Good!  Then get a fire goin’ so we can warm up and have a hot meal.”  The Kid checked the cots.  “Musty but they’ll do.  Think we can make room for them closer to the fire?”

Heyes searched the desk drawers.  “We should be able to if we move the desk over.”  He opened a large bottom file and whistled, immediately getting his partner’s attention.

“What is it?”

“Look what I found!”  Heyes pulled out a large stack of wanted posters.  “Must be over a hundred of them!”  

“Make sure you burn ours.”

“They’re probably too old for ours being in here.”  Heyes crinkled up a few and threw them in the stove belly.  Next he laid some of the smaller pieces of wood on top of the paper.  Lighting a match, the flame took hold of the posters quickly.  Soon the dry tinder wood ignited.  “There we go…”  He slowly added a piece of wood at a time until the fire took off, providing light and heat.

The Kid poured water from a canteen into the pot and threw in coffee grounds.  He put it on the top of the stove along with a pan of bacon slices.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


An hour later, the wind howled and the torrential rains beat on the sturdy building.  Inside the two former outlaws were snug and warm, lying on cots on top of their bedrolls.  

“What time is it, Heyes?”

A deft hand pulled out a pocket watch.  “Only seven.”  Heyes pulled the pile of wanted posters on his bed and began thumbing through them.

Curry took a sip of coffee.  “Anyone we know?”

“Here’s one for Curley Grimes.  He was that mail robber outta Deadwood.”

“I remember him.  He got killed by Boone May a few years back.”

“Did you ever run into Nick Worthington, that horse thief?”

“He did more than horse thievin’.  Killed several men, too, in New Mexico and Colorado.”  Kid threw a log in the fire.  “Met once in a saloon in some little town.”

“I heard he got shot and killed by the townsfolk in Cimarron.”

“I think you’re right.”

Heyes read a few names aloud.  “A few here from the Plummer’s gang…”

“Not the same Plummer’s gang you were in?”

“No, Henry Plummer’s gang of Innocents outta Montana.  There’s Frank Parish and Haltbreek Jack, and Red Yager.  Most of that gang was lynched by the Montana Vigilantes.”

Curry picked up one on the desk.  “Big Nose George Deetz… is he still around?”

“He’s the sheriff who turned into an outlaw – just the opposite of Lom.”
“Yeah, he must still be around.”

Heyes sat up a little straighter.  “I just heard about this guy, Red Jack Almer.  He was killed by a posse a month or two ago.”

“He’s the leader of the Red Jack Gang from Arizona.”

“Was the leader,” Heyes corrected him.

“Seems like a lot of ‘em are dead.”

“That’s one of the reason we got outta the business.  There aren’t too many old outlaws.”

The Kid picked up another poster.  “I ran into this guy when I was down in Texas – Wade Alsup.  Heard fifteen masked men lynched him in Blue, Texas years back.”

“Here’s one for John Daly.  Remember hearing about him?”

“Wasn’t he a member of the Three Fingered Jack McDowell’s gang outta Nevada?”

“Yep.  Killed at least two men in cold blood.  When vigilantes captured him and three other gang members, he took poison but they lynched him anyway.”

Curry shivered.  “What a bad way to go.”

“A few from the Lincoln County War down in New Mexico.”

“Let me guess – Billy the Kid.”

“Him and Tom Pickett.”

“Didn’t he just become a sheriff?”

“You’re right!  Cattle rustler turned lawman.”

“Just like Lom… well, not the cattle rustler part.”

“Bill Hall – He was the first prisoner of that prison in Yuma.”

“Can’t imagine how hot it must be in there during the summer.”

“Here’s one… Tex Quinlan.  I heard he just escaped from the Las Vegas, New Mexico jail with J.J. Webb and Dave Rudabaugh.”

“Haven’t heard anything about them.  Wonder what happened to them.”

“Probably down in Mexico somewhere.”  Heyes picked up another poster.  “Sam Bass, leader of the Sam Bass Gang.”

“They were robbin’ stages in Dakota and graduated to trains in Texas.”  Curry poured more coffee and offered some to Heyes.  “I haven’t heard much about them lately.”

Heyes nodded and held up his cup.  “Don’t you remember Bass and Seaborn Barnes were killed at Round Rock, Texas back in… I think 1878.”

“I remember hearin’ of Seaborn.  What a name!”  The Kid sighed and sat back down, leaning against a wall.  “Have you been listenin’ to us?  Most are dead or in prison.”

Heyes stared quietly at a poster in his hand.

“Who’s that one for?”

Heyes slowly shook his head.

“Heyes?”

“Uh…”

“Who’s poster is that?”

Still Heyes didn’t answer.

Kid Curry leaned forward and snatched the paper from his partner.  “Oh, I haven’t seen one of these for years.  Hannibal Heyes.”

“Back when my bounty was for only $100 – my first wanted poster.”

“I remember seein’ this poster on a sheriff’s wall in Texas.  That’s when I decided to come find you.”

“I remember being so proud when I saw it the first time.  Joked about it,” Heyes said incensed as he carelessly tossed the posters from his bed back onto the desk.  “What a damn fool I was!”

“Water under the bridge, Heyes. Gotta let it go.”

“Can you imagine if we didn’t become legends and have dime novels written about us, Kid.  If we were only wanted for $100 and not $10,000?”

“Our lives sure would be different!  Probably no posse or bounty hunters or runnin’.”

“No wanted dead or alive.”

“Do you think we’d still be wanted?”

Both men sipped their coffee in silence as the storm continued to rage.



All the outlaws mentioned are real.  The info came from Legends of America - http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-outlawindex.html

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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sat Apr 30, 2016 11:33 pm

oops - won't let me delete post


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PostSubject: Re: April 2016 - ONE HUNDRED   Sun May 01, 2016 3:00 am

bronc Wild horses couldn't keep me away from joining in on such an auspicious occasion as "One Hundred Monthly Story Challenges!" It's an honor, as well as a privilege, to be included with such an awesome group of story tellers and dream weavers.

I woke up this morning, still dealing with one of my pounding headaches (this one's been here for over 3 days) and oddly enough, as I sat here waiting for my medicine to kick in and bring it down a notch or two, this wonderful bunny plot hopped nearby and I grabbed it quickly before it could scoot away. Heard him muttering something that sounded like, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date," as he stared at his pocketwatch...  yes So, with many thanks to my furry friend, I shall say adios and let you peruse my story...



“One Hundred”

“Penny for your thoughts, Kid.” Heyes touched Curry on the shoulder. “You look like you're a hundred miles away.”

“Wish we had a penny,” Jed groused and turned away from his post as lookout. His curry-blue eyes were troubled, his expression serious. “You're sure we've got everything right this time?”

“Last time was just practice; a dry run,” Heyes assured him. “We were rehearsing, you know, like a play, and last week was our opening night. Things are supposed to go wrong. We've gone over this at least a hundred times - nothing's gonna go wrong today,” he added confidently. “You'll see.”

“That's what you said last time, Heyes - we almost got caught!”

“Almost. But we didn't,” Heyes grinned. “Did we?”  

“It was just a lucky break for us that woman fainted. Everyone was more concerned about her than us.” He turned back to keep an eye on the bank while they talked.

“Aren't you conveniently forgetting that we were able to get away because I cased the bank before we robbed it? I knew the manager's office had a side door that we could use as an alternate escape route.”

“But that's not the way you planned it, Heyes! You said we'd go in the front door, tell 'em to give us the money, then once we had it we'd high-tail it out the front door and duck into the alley where the horses were. Well, so much for your great plan!” Jed snorted. “We ended up being forced to go out through the manager's door – since the sheriff was out front waitin' for us - then we had to go around the whole building just to get to the alley! We barely made it! With everyone chasing us, when we dropped the bag of loot, there wasn't even enough time to stop and grab it. All we could do was jump on our horses and ride away while they fired shots at us! And then, to top it all off, we didn't get one single cent from our first job!”

“I know what happened,” Heyes reminded his partner. “I was there!”

“Take it easy, Heyes,” Curry held up a placating hand. I'm not tryin' to rile you up; I jus' wanna know that this time things will be different. That this time we'll end up with something for all our trouble.”

“This time my plan is one hundred percent fool proof. We've checked and double-checked it all. We haven't left even one thing to chance. In a few days we'll be a hundred miles away from here, spending the money, and everyone will forget it even happened. Trust me.”

Curry sighed. “Whatever you say, Heyes.”

“That's the spirit, Kid. I'll tell you what; I'll even bet you a hundred dollars that this job goes off without a hitch.”

“A hundred dollars?” Curry scoffed. “Really? We don't even have two coins to rub together; where're we gonna get a hundred dollars?”

“That's just a drop in the bucket of what we're going to get from this job,” Heyes boasted. “We'll just take the one hundred dollars outta that.”

Curry grinned. “I like the way you think, Heyes. Okay, I'll take you up on that bet. One hundred dollars says you're wrong.”

Heyes' brow furrowed. “So, in other words, you're really gonna bet that my plan won't work?”

“Not 'in other words'; that's exactly what I'm sayin'. I still feel like somethin's gonna happen; somethin' bad.”

“Quit being such a 'Negative Nellie', Kid,” Heyes chided his partner. “The odds are a hundred to one in my favor – so you're gonna owe me a hundred dollars when all this is over,” he added smugly.

“I hope so,” Curry retorted and changed subjects. “It's almost closing time. There's the two tellers an' I've counted three customers. Haven't seen hide nor hair of that bank manager either comin' or goin'. I don't see anyone else headin' in that direction. You wanna wait to see if one or two of 'em leaves before we make our move?”

“Yeah, let's give 'em a few more minutes. The less people the better.”

“That sheriff an' his deputy won't be back for a while,” Curry grinned. “It was pretty smart of you to get them outta the way like that. By the time they ride out to that farm and find out it was a false alarm, they're gonna miss all the fun!”

“We're learning, Kid. By the time we've robbed a hundred banks we should be real experts!”

Curry pivoted around to face Heyes. “A hundred? You really think we'll have to rob that many banks to get the money we need?”

“All depends on how much we get.” With a philosophical shrug he continued. “The bigger the haul, the less we have to rob.”

“I thought we'd just have to do this a few times. Then we'd buy us a ranch and settle down.” He released a dispirited sigh and turned back to the bank. “That's a lotta banks... and a lotta time, too.”

“Aw, it's not that bad; cheer up, Kid. In just a few minutes we're gonna be rich!”

For his cousin's benefit, Curry summoned a smile to his face. “Sorry; I jus' never thought we'd havta be outlaws to survive. There's gotta be something legal that we're good at?”

“Nothing that'll get us the kind of money we need! I've done my best to find us honest work, but you know how that went. Would you rather go back to that mining job?” Heyes snorted derisively. “You almost died working in there! We busted our tails for a month straight and what did we have to show for it? Nothing! We barely made enough to pay for our room and board while we were slaving away! Or how about having to ride drag on that cattle drive? That was a lot of fun – I'm still coughing up dust! Maybe you'd rather bust horses or brand cattle? Those jobs were real easy on the back and they rank pretty high in my books – don't they in yours?” His rant over, Heyes' brown eyes - which had darkened to an obsidian color – glared straight into curry-blue ones.

“No,” Jed replied calmly. He stared back into the eyes of his friend without flinching. “We've done our best. Guess we've done over a hundred different jobs. One of the worst ones was cleaning those outhouses – I never thought we'd get the stench outta our clothes!  We've pretty much tried about everything anybody'd hire us to do, an' you're right. We don't have anything to show for all that hard work. I'm not sayin' you're wrong – that we're wrong – I'm jus' wishin' we didn't havta do it, that's all.”

Most of his anger abated, Heyes nodded and looked down. “Yeah, I know. Tell that to my feet and your stomach. My toes are poking out and your belly hasn't been full in months. Not one hot bath in weeks, only cold ones in the rivers and our clothes look like moths have been feasting on 'em. Maybe it'll make you feel better if you think about it this way: we're like Robin Hood – robbing the rich banks and giving it to the poor – us. The banks have more money than they need; they can share some of it with us.”

“I like that,” Curry grinned. A moment later, he came to attention. “Hey, looks like two customers just left.”

Heyes took a deep breath. “You ready, Kid?”

“Yep. Let's go get rich!” Curry quipped.

The pair sauntered casually across the street, keeping a wary eye as they walked into the bank.

Curry shut the door behind him and leaned back against it. With a nonchalance he was far from feeling, he reached behind with his hand, found the lock and turned it quietly.

Heyes approached the counter. A quick glance to his left confirmed that the one remaining male customer was nearing the conclusion of his transaction with the male teller.

“May I help you, sir?” the female teller inquired with a solicitous smile. After a frank appraisal, appreciation for the man caused her smile to grow warmer. Heyes looked back over his shoulder, caught Curry's eye and winked. Kid nodded back. When Heyes stepped up to the window and pulled his weapon from his holster, Curry followed suit as he walked up to stand behind the customer.

“This is a stick up!” Heyes announced in a loud, clear voice. “If everyone does what they're told, nobody'll get hurt.” He pulled a burlap bag from inside his coat and shoved it towards the teller. “Put all the money in the bag!” he ordered.

Her smile disappeared instantly. With a face that was now pinched and pale, the woman's hands trembled as she hastened to comply. She began to shove bills into the bag.

“Don't do anything stupid,” Curry warned as the male customer backed up into his gun.

When he felt the hard steel of the weapon poke into his back, the man stopped and slowly raised his hands up in the air without being told.

Their attention focused on keeping tabs on the three people in the main room, Heyes and Curry failed to notice a fourth person.

“You  two are the ones doing something stupid,” the bank manger snapped. “Trying to rob my bank.”

Heyes and Curry whipped around.

“Stupid is as stupid does,” he sneered. He reached into his waistcoat to pull out a gun as he stepped closer to Heyes.

Keeping a close watch on the manager and the weapon in his hand, Curry was caught off guard when the bank customer turned to fire a shot at him before diving for the floor.

A burning sensation, like being stabbed by a red hot poker, went through Kid's right shoulder and he reached up to touch it. When he lowered his hand, he blinked in surprise to find blood.

With all the attention focused on his partner, Heyes rushed forward and snatched the gun from the manger. “Stay right there, mister!” he warned and stepped back to eye the man cowering on the floor. “Slide your gun over here, he ordered in a terse voice. “And don't you dare move one inch or you'll be leaking like a sieve!” Gun in hand, Heyes could finally check on Curry. “You okay?”

“I've been better,” Curry winced. He swayed and dropped to the floor, where he twisted around to look up at his cousin.

“You'd better hope my partner lives,” Heyes growled. “Or you won't be able to run far - or fast - enough to hide from me!”

The man glared at Heyes. “I won't be forgetting your faces for a long time!”

“I want you to remember our names. I'm Hannibal Heyes and he's Kid Curry. Be glad you caught him on a bad day, otherwise your loved ones would be planning your funeral!”

Heyes helped Curry to his feet. “That gunshot had to have alerted everyone. We need to get outta here. Can you walk?”

“Do I have any other choice?”

“That's the spirit, Kid!”

The pair rushed out the back door. After helping Kid mount his horse, Heyes got on his.

“Wait a minute,” Curry held up his hand.

“What's wrong?” Heyes looked at his partner with concern.

“Other than getting shot you mean?” A faint smile graced Curry's lips. “Jus' wanted to remind you that you owe me a hundred dollars, Heyes.”

Sharing a look of relief that things hadn't turned out worse, Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry turned to make their getaway, their second one in at least a hundred more that were about to follow...

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