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 Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...

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Calico

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PostSubject: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:01 am

Back to a certain topicality I think...

With your Rio Carnival Feathers a Fluttering...

Let your Olympian creativities race around...


"Let the Games begin..."


So, on your marks, get set...


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WichitaRed
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:17 am

Challenge: Let the Games Begin
This is Part Four of Blood on the Road and this month challenge played perfectly into what I was writing. At this time, I would say this is the final chapter. Unless next, months challenge prompts something.  I hope you have enjoyed my little 'this is how I see it' saga. I am a bit over length.  cactus  I apologize, I could not find a stopping point which did not cut out too much of my challenge.

Doctor Garrison’s face settled into a frown as he eyed, the man on his porch, over the top of his wire rim glasses. With a shake of his head, he pointed with his newspaper; he had been pulled away from, “Seems to me, yuse the one who dumped them half-starved boys on my steps.”

“I suppose from your point of view that is what I did.” The man answered, not looking the least bit ashamed. “I had business to attend to.”

“Humph!” Garrison grunted, “Jed says you called yourself a good Samaritan, the way you up and ran I wouldn’t go that far, that’d be for sure.”

The man held out his hand, “I’d like to make amends. I've come by to check on the boys.”

Doctor Garrison looked at the offered hand and crossed his arms.

Lowering his hand, the man nodded, “I understand you aren’t feeling too terribly favorably about me. Still—“

Interrupting him, Garrison barked, “Is they yours?”

“Heaven’s sake, no,” The man stated, slipping his hands in the pockets of his finely tailored slacks and shaking his head woefully. “Figure they must be waifs from the war or some such, they're not mine.”

The corners of Garrison’s mouth quirked as he eyed the big city attire the man wore, “Uh hum, suppose I ain’t seein’ much resemblance between you and them.”

“Names, O’ Sullivan… Patrick O’Sullivan.”

“And, that's what to me?”

The polite bearing of the man shifted, his blue eyes darkening some, “I came here to settle their bill as I've a distinct feeling they're a bit short on funds.”  And, forcing out a smile, he removed a fat wad of bills from his wallet.

“I has a feelin’ they is a bit short on everything, includin’ someone to watch over’em.” Garrison replied, taking the offered money and sticking it in his vest pocket without bothering to confirm the amount. “If ‘in what you say is true, I suppose I need to alert Sheriff Adams I got me a pair of orphans.”

O’Sullivan looked beyond Garrison’s shoulder into the soft light of the house. He could hear the sounds of the noon meal being cleaned up and a soft humming arising from the woman at work. “As I stated from the beginning, I would like to speak with the boys.”

Looking back into his parlor, Garrison frowned deeply, then with a shrug, said, “Well, who am I to stop you. They ain’t mine neither. “He slapped the newspaper down on a tall back chair sitting on the porch. “They is a friendly pair, good manners too… someone was raisin’ em up right at one time. Still they is too young to be on their own and too old for anyone to want ‘em and I’m too old to take ‘em on. Can’t see wrangling a pair of wet behind the ears boys whose already figured out how to get themselves nearly dead.”  With a sigh, he motioned O’Sullivan to follow him.

Tapping on a door at the end of the hall, Garrison opened it, “Hannibal, you've a visitor.”

Hannibal’s eyes rose slowly, fluttered and with a cough, he replied, “Thank you, Dr. Garrison.”

“Ya holler on out if ya need to.” Garrison said, looking pointedly at O’Sullivan.

Hannibal’s dark eyes scanned his visitor’s bright white shirt to his spotless suit and matching hat and, said, “You’re the good Samaritan from yesterday.”

“That I am.” O’Sullivan replied with a warm smile, rocking onto his heels and back down.

“Thank you for bringing us in.”

“You're most welcome. I've also paid your tab here allowing you time to heal up without worries.”

Hannibal’s face pinched his eyes shifting to the window.

“Now that, my boy, is what I was hoping to see.”

Hannibal’s lip jutted out, his jaw firming up as he bluntly asked, “What’s that?”

“That you don’t like the idea of being beholden and would like to fix the situation forthwith. However, I surmise your finances won’t allow it.”

Hannibal sucked on the inside of his cheek, his dimple dipping deeply.

“Am I correct?”

“Unfortunately, you've read me and the situation accurately.”

“Do you mind if I sit and talk?”

“Don’t suppose I have a choice.”

“Every person has a choice, young man.”

A cynical barking laugh that was well beyond his years, erupted from Hannibal. “That is a hell of a falsehood to spout off with. I know all of you, only see me as nothing more than a boy, but I've seen lots of people, myself and my pal included, who have the ability of choosing taken clean away from them.”

“You're a quick one, aren’t you?” O’Sullivan said.

Hannibal flashed him a smile that disappeared just as quickly.

Pulling a chair near the bed, O’Sullivan took a seat. “Let us begin anew. We haven’t been properly introduced, I'm Patrick O’Sullivan.”

“Hannibal.”

O’Sullivan smiled at the brisk, short response and playfully said, “I haven’t seen your excitable friend about.”

Hannibal’s brows furrowed his face drawing tight.

“My apologies, I was attempting a bit of humor. I rather admired how level-headed your friend remained during the crisis. He appeared quite unruffled.”

Hannibal flashed him a half smile that was even faster than the earlier one.

“Is he around?”

“Kid, is gone on an errand.”

“Kid?”

“Jed, but he’s always been Kid to me.”

“The pair of you seem close. He was rather protective of you.”

“I feel the same for him.”

“Do you mind if I ask, how old you are?”

Hannibal’s eyes shifted to the side and after a moment’s thought, he shrugged, grimacing at the quick stab of pain he brought onto himself. “I turned fifteen back in February.”

“And, the Kid?”

“He’s younger than me by two years.”

“Have the pair of you no family?”

“What kind of game are you playing at Mr. O’Sullivan?”

O’Sullivan looked to the windows, his blue eyes watching the curtains billowing in the breeze, “Was it the war?” Silence answered him but when he looked back, Hannibal nodded. “Thought perhaps it was.”

Hannibal’s eyes were searching the room like he wanted to escape.

“You ask what game I’m playing at… I'm considering hiring you.”

Hannibal’s eyes widened and he scratched at the side of his neck, his mouth pulling enough to make his left dimple come to life.

“Would you be interested?”

“Might be. But, I don’t do anything without Kid.”

“Figured as much. Now, why don’t you tell me about yourselves?”

“Ain’t much to tell, we lost our parents, and we’ve been doing odd jobs to stay afloat ever since.”

“Is Kid your brother?”

The dark eyes narrowed and his lips pressed together, as if hiding a secret.

“So, he is.”

“No. Well, he might as well be. He’s my cousin. We grew up together.”

O’Sullivan nodded, “Can you read and figure?”

“Mr. O’Sullivan, I don’t mean to be rude, but I ain’t in the mood for this questioning game your playing at.”

A soft laugh rolled from O’Sullivan, “Suppose you aren’t, and yet, if I'm looking to hire you, I do have the right to ask.”

A frown crossed Hannibal’s face causing both his dimples to emerge from hiding. “Yes. We can both read, write, and figure. We were raised right, in a good family.”

“How well can you read?”

“How does this relate to the job you're offering?” Hannibal asked, his thinning patience revealing itself in his tone.

“Exhibit some patience and you'll find out.”

Clearing his throat, Hannibal stated, “Will all of great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this, my hand will rather make multitudinous seas incarnadine turning the green one red.”

“Ah, the Scottish play. What’s being said?”

“Talking about guilt. How you carry your guilt with you always, knowing you’ll never be clean. That your guilt is so great not even an ocean could make you clean, but rather your guilt would dirty it.”

O’Sullivan rubbed a hand across his chin, “Nice comprehension, I take it, you enjoy reading.”

“I do, a book takes you away and lets you step outside yourself and your worries. Then when you close the cover it leaves some of itself inside you.”

“So true,” O’Sullivan said, removing his hat and walking it around in his fingers by its curled brim. “Tell me about the dead man in the road.”

A smooth smile rolled out setting Hannibal’s dimples to dancing, “Don’t believe I’ve read that book, Mr. O'Sullivan.”

O’Sullivan smiled right back, “Slick aren’t you.”

One dark brow rose sharply.

Still smiling, O’Sullivan shook his head. “Yes, you already play the game well.”

Hannibal tilted his head some, his black jagged bangs slipping from place.

“The dead man in the road is the story of a man whose life blood has left him. And, not too far apace, from where a young boy is also spouting his own blood all over the road. It is such a coincidence, it makes the reader think; these two must know each other. Or, I suppose the way the plot has twisted… that they used to know each other.”

Looking O’Sullivan straight in the eyes, Hannibal said. “It doesn’t sound like a story I’d care for.”

O’Sullivan shifted, the chair beneath him squeaking in protest. “Maybe not, but, do you suppose it is a story the Sheriff would care for?” Although Hannibal did not look away, his eyes dilated just a touch. O’Sullivan only saw them do so because he was watching so closely. They stared at each other for a good minute and moving to stand, O’Sullivan stated. “All right, have it your way.”

Hannibal’s tongue darted quick across his lower lip, “I don’t think you should bother the Sheriff.”

“Then tell me about the dead man, Hannibal.”

A long sigh escaped taking Hannibal’s confidence with it, leaving him looking his age and vulnerable. “I told you we take odd jobs, really anything we can get. Sometimes they're hard to find… there being two of us and all. We were crossing Western Kansas and we hadn’t had much work and we were starving. We were even out of bullets to hunt with.” He peeked up to see if O’Sullivan was listening and saw he was. “Well, we came across these men with a herd of cattle. I talked our way into food and rides in exchange for caring for their Remuda. Problem was, we found out later, those cattle were rustled. Turned out, those men, did a lot of things, neither of our Pa’s would have approved of.”

Hannibal had been picking at a loose thread on his shirt and stopped talking all together, his eyes remaining focused on the menial task.

“Go on.”

“They weren’t just thieves, they were brutal, real killers. And, Frank Rucker was their leader and he is also the dead man in the road. See, he explained to me that if I tried to leave with the knowledge of who they were, and what they looked like and such forth that he’d kill me. But, not before he killed Kid slow and made me watch. I believed him.” Hannibal looked up, his eyes shining in the afternoon light. “I’d seen what he had done to others and knew he weren’t blowing hot air at me.”

O’Sullivan ran a hand back through his hair and nodded.

“Then my moment came, the gang was robbing this train, truthfully, it wasn’t so much a robbery as a massacre. And, Frank he told me to go get the horses, only thing was, when Kid and I got ‘em; we rode out to alert the nearest sheriff.”  Pausing, Hannibal took up the water glass from the bedside table drinking it dry.

“I recall reading something about them in the papers. Didn’t the Sherriff’s Posse confront the outlaws and those they didn’t shoot, they brought back for a jury to hang?”

“Yes. Except, Frank, he escaped. I knew he had, because, I read the same articles you did and not one of them mentioned Frank’s name. And, kind of like that itchy feeling you get on your scalp, I could feel him on our trail. I kept us on the move. Still, he found us, right here in Cassoday and that is when he shot me. Kid and me we got away from him. But he was like an old coon dog and no matter what we did, he kept catching our trail. I knew we weren’t ever going to shake him. So, I shot ‘em.”

Through all the telling, O’Sullivan’s face had remained as blank as a blind man’s gaze, “You shot him.”

“Yes, Mr. O’Sullivan, I did.”

An airy giggle erupted from O’Sullivan, “You shot him?”

Hannibal sucked his lips in, the frown that appeared made his dimples deepen until they pitted the sides of his face and through gritted teeth, he stated. “Yes, I shot him.”

“When I assisted you into my surrey yesterday, your holster was empty.”

“I must have lost my pistol."

“You lost your pistol?”

“Things got pretty touch and go right fast.” Hannibal said, his eyes losing some of their intensity, “… I don’t know, somewhere along the way I lost it.”

“I see.” O’Sullivan moved his hat from his knee to the bed. “I'm good at noticing details, Hannibal. And I noticed Kid was wearing a Colt. I believe they call the model, the Peacemaker. I would say he used it to create some peace for you and him.”

Hannibal leaned forward, his stitches shifted pulling and he winced, “It weren’t Kid, it was me.”

“Then that bulge in your saddlebag…” O’Sullivan pointed to the low dresser by the door, where Hannibal’s saddlebags laid. “And, the bit of wood sticking out, that isn't your pistol?”

Hannibal turned to look and froze. His eyes returning double-fast to O’Sullivan, “Why are you pushing this? I already admitted I killed Frank Rucker, what more do you want?”

The same airy giggle erupted once more from O’Sullivan, “Your game face is slipping, Hannibal. But, we can keep playing if you like. Because I've another detail, like I said I'm good at details. See, you're wounded on your right side. You're also right-handed.”

“And?”

“You're going to have to work, a whole lot harder to make me believe, you outdrew a murdering outlaw leader.”

Though Hannibal’s face remained neutral his eyes darted from O’Sullivan to the door to O’Sullivan to the window and back to the now laughing O’Sullivan.

“You do play the game well, my boy. You really are quite the convincing liar, and for the most part you're difficult to read.” Hannibal started to speak, but O’Sullivan waved him down. “I got my own standards of right from wrong. And, I deem the pair of you outwitting Rucker and opening the door to hell for him, well, I just don't necessarily see that as wrong.  Not sure a judge would go along with my summation, but there is little a judge and I would agree on. I told you I was thinking of hiring you, well, I needed to see if you could think under pressure, and if you could carry out a good solid lie. You passed with arrow straight accuracy.”

Hannibal’s mouth parted, his eyes drifting to the side, then back to O’Sullivan although his right eye was now squinched a bit closed as he studied the older man.  

“That outlaw game didn’t suit the pair of you to your liking, now did it?”

Looking to his hand, Hannibal ran his thumb across his fingertips, repeatedly, watching the movement. “It wasn’t what I was expecting.”

“No. It doesn’t sound like it was. Well, my game doesn’t require violence. In truth, violence interrupts the flow.”

Hannibal’s brows rose as his eyes slanted toward O’Sullivan.

“I would like you, and Kid, of course, to join my team of professional grifters.”

A corner of Hannibal’s mouth turned down.

“It requires using your smarts against another, a game of wits you could say.”

“How would we go about that?”

“First, I’d have to train you. You would learn all kinds of skills. I'll load you up with tricks you’ve never thought of… Kid, too.”

Looking back to his hands, Hannibal saw they were clenched together and could not recall doing this. He sighed, thinking how much he hurt and how he would like to lay down. But after a full minute he looked at O’Sullivan, “we accept your job offer.”

“Don’t you want to discuss it with Kid first?”

“No. I’ll convince him to this is a better way.”

“All right. Soon as you're sufficiently healed, we'll travel to my home in San Francisco. Once there we can begin your training in earnest. How does that suit you?”

“Just fine, Mr. O’Sullivan.”

“Good. Good. From here on out we'll be like family.” As he said this, O’Sullivan would have sworn on a pile of crooked playing cards that he saw Hannibal’s eyes not only brighten but their dark brown color lighten some too. “Here are the rules, though, we’ll start the pair of you out and at the end of three months; if you, Kid, or I do not feel we're a good match than I'll give you fifty dollars for your time and you both can be on your way.”

“Will we be expected to pay for our food and board?”

“Not at all, as I said, as long as you're under my roof, we’ll be like family.”

“And if we change our minds after three months, “you’ll give us fifty for trying.”

“Yes. But I have a feeling you’ll be staying.”

“Maybe. Maybe not, Mr. O’Sullivan.”

O’Sullivan nodded, “All my friends call me Silky and as my wards in training, I would definitely deem you closer than friends.”

A quizzical look came to Hannibal’s face, “Silky?”

“Oh, that is a tale for another day.”

A small laugh flowed from Hannibal, “I plan to hold you to that.”

O’Sullivan smiled fully and warmly, “That would be fine. Now… “ he leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees. “…the first change I’d like to implement, is we're going to cease having you introduced by your first name.”

The dark brows dropped low, “Why?”

“It’s far too memorable; a conman doesn’t want a name which draws attention. So, Hannibal what is your middle name?”

“Joshua. It was my Pa’s name. And, even though you make what we’ll be doing sound like fun and games. I fully grasp that we’ll still be thieves and I don’t know, but…” He shrugged, winced, and grinned sheepishly. “… I don’t feel right using my Pa’s name in that way. Do you think my last name would suffice?”

“Which is?”

“Heyes.”

“Heyes will work quite nicely. Then it is settled soon as you’re well enough to travel, we’ll head home and start the pair of you out in a brand new game.” Another airy giggle exploded from O’Sullivan, “See I told you I was a good Samaritan.”

Quick as a wink, Hannibal Heyes’ large, contagious smile appeared, “Not so sure about good, maybe a middle-of-the-road Samaritan. You're definitely getting something for all you are giving.”

“My boy, that is the first rule of a con. Both sides need to feel they're getting something worthwhile.” He patted Heyes on the leg, “you're going to be an ace-high pupil. Now get some rest.”



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Cal

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PostSubject: Let the Games Begin   Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:49 am

This is taken from my current piece of writing...on the Stories Site...It stems from my belief that if Heyes was fighting for his life....fighting himself, within himself...he would choose to do his fighting at the poker table using his strongest weapon...his brain.  It's based on personal experience of being ..outside and fighting to get back...and the return to reality and that shock of suddenly being aware of your body again...

From: The Long Road Back (Haff & Wong seven) ...Part five...
Heyes


Heyes was floating above his chestnut mare’s head.  It was dark and he was unaware of time passing. The ears of the horse fascinated him and prevented him from floating off; kept him with the horse.  A soft voice spoke occasionally, but it was too distant and didn’t seem to need to make itself understood.  Whatever he’d been drinking, it was definitely his new favourite beverage.  

‘Wow this was like flying.’

The dream didn’t last nearly as long as he hoped it would.  The beautiful, sensitive ears disappeared and fire, chestnut coloured fire, took its place.  Fascinating ears of flame danced to entertain him.  

“Drink” he said, but it didn’t sound like him saying it.  

‘What he wouldn’t give for a good cigar…’

Smoke filled his lungs and a rhythmic pounding started in his ears.  Pounding, but soft pounding,

‘Could be my own heart’ he supposed. ‘Were angels singing?’

‘Maybe I’m in love’ he thought.  Beautiful dark eyes smiled at him.  ‘Seductive eyes, and yes, she’s taking my clothes off!’

He giggled, but it sounded more like gurgling.  Cool water seeped into his mouth and tasted like ambrosia.

“I love you” he tried, but now his mouth wasn’t his anymore, the lips not his to command.  

‘Where am I?’

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes fell backwards, his stomach lurching with the fall. The landing was soft and uneventful.  Annoyed he stood up brushing himself down.  

‘Must have been thrown’ he thought ‘Foolish! Hope no one saw me.’

He took a look around.

‘A Kansan farm.  Wheat? Near ripe. It’ll need cutting. ‘

Familiar prickles on the back of his neck made him turn slowly to glance behind.  Not too far away Alex Heyes stood with his arms slung over the long scythe, smiling back at Heyes.

“Hey …Hannibal, have you come to give your Pa a hand?”

Heyes waved and smiled back.

“Not sure why I’m here to tell the truth.  Think my horse threw me…”

“Well roll up your sleeves and take that fancy piece off your hip.  You won’t get much done carrying that around.”

Heyes helped Alex by gathering the cut Wheat into bundles and stacking it.  The warm sunshine eased his back.  Didn’t seem too hard, in fact it was very pleasant, helping his Pa with the harvest.  They worked on quietly, with a warm smile for each other every now and then.

Alex looked at the sun and sighed.  

“You know Hannibal; you’ve been a great help but you can’t stay.”

“I can’t? …You’ve only cleared half this field.  I could come back tomorrow; we could build a stack.”

“Son…”

“Yeah?”

“You know it’s not your time.  You can’t leave your name…our name…branded a murderer…”

“I know”

“And Jed’s too… Don’t seem right for such as he …to face that alone now does it?”

“No..” said Heyes quietly.

“Won’t be easy …getting back.”

“I’m used to having to fight for what I want Pa”

“Yes…you’ve had to do a little too much of that Son…Well this will be a fight alright …but this time you won’t be on your own…”

The field was filling with chatter.  Picnic baskets were being sorted. Blankets spread.  Heyes’ half-brothers smiled and waved.  His step mother brought him lemonade, and he was thankful that this time he remembered his manners.  Eventually he lay down on a warm blanket to watch the falling sun, his head resting in his mother’s lap.

“You’re not alone Hannibal… never alone” she assured him.

---oooOOOooo---

He woke and pushed up the brim of his hat.  He pulled at the white cuffs of his shirt, adjusting the cuff links.  Gold shamrocks.  His lucky cufflinks.  The suit was fresh and pressed.  The barber shave still left his face tingling.  He was ready.

The casino was alive with the sounds of gambling. Wurring and calling and snapping of cards and of course the chink of the gold coin.  Heyes beamed.  He was at home here.  There were no games he couldn’t master. No elements he couldn’t calculate. No risks he couldn’t work out the odds for.  This was a place where he felt in control.

He took a cut crystal glass from a passing tray and sipped the excellent vintage with satisfaction.

A double door opened and invited him in.  The green baize table was already full except for the chair in front of him.  How fortunate.  The piles of money in front of the other players was very pleasing also.  He reached inside his jacket and smiled as his hand fell on a fat bill fold.  

“Gentlemen” he greeted his fellow players.

---oooOOOooo---

How long had he been playing?  His jacket was off.  The cigar was half burned down the pile of money in front of him had grown very pleasingly.  His attention was fully on the cards.  He hadn’t looked at his opponents much.  

How strange.  

To his right was a sheriff sporting a big tin star.  Heyes’ heart leapt.  How had he not noticed that? To his left was a smiling cowboy, that looked familiar but he couldn’t bring a name to mind.  Again Heyes felt unease.  The other players were hidden.  The lamp over the table making it hard for him to see any more than their hands.  Heyes felt a lump rising in his throat.  He looked down at his cards again.  

“Just think about the cards.”  

Hands, small hands, rested on his shoulders.  They radiated a warmth.  The warmth of a setting sun in a Wheat field in Kansas. Heyes could smell the freshly cut crop.  He reached up to cover one of the hands with his own.

“You’re not alone Hannibal… never alone” she assured him.  

He smiled across the table to the dark cloaked dealer. “I’ll take two” he stated feeling much more confident. He’d had hands worse than this before and still cleared the board.  

“You are indeed an accomplished player” said a voice that sounded to Heyes as if it was in his own head.  He smiled across the table again and thanked the dealer for the compliment.  When he looked back to his cards, his hand had changed.  The queens were gone.  Panic rose in Heyes throat.  He swallowed.

Confused.  

Was the next move his?

He searched for the next move. Judgement and balance. Where should he place the stones?

‘These are cards’ he thought. ‘It’s poker.’  

“Now Smith here knows just when to fold and when to draw” said old Seth. An old gnarled hand patted Heyes on the shoulder. Again Heyes found himself relaxing and the panic was quelled.

“Too rich for me this time” he said throwing in the bad hand.

---oooOOOooo---

His eyes were burning.  Just how long had he been playing.  He’d got the measure of the other players now.  Their faces were in the light.  Their tells were apparent.  These men he could master.
The dealer was another matter.  Many times it had come down to just him and the dealer.  It was getting to the point that one could break the other before this match was over.  They were evenly matched.

Heyes inhaled deeply.  The Wheat field was behind him now.  His family watched from their blankets and picnic baskets.  If he were only to glimpse over his shoulder, he’d see his mother’s glowing smile.  So proud of her Hannibal.  He was so clever and so brave.

This was it.  

He was sure the cards would fall for him.  

He was so tired he didn’t think he had another hand in him.  He picked up a huge stack of coins and upped the anti considerably.  Predictably all but one player threw in.

Heyes schooled his poker face.  

Slowed his breathing.  

Took his heart rate down so low the soft pounding nearly stopped altogether.  

The players that were no longer part of this crucial deal faded back into the dark room.  The cards in Heyes hands were good, but not the best.  His game was a bluff of sorts.  He stared across at his obscured opponent with absolute confidence.  

His family held their collective breath.  

Seth chuckled as the final opponent threw in and Heyes swept all towards him.  

The breathing Heyes could hear and feel sounded like a summer breeze across a Wheat field in Kansas.  The soft pounding resumed in his head and gained momentum.

He soaked up the love and congratulations of all, but he was so tired.  

He needed to sleep.

“Tomorrow” he said. “Tomorrow …right now I need rest…”

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes woke to pounding in his ears and soft voices all around him.  He found his eyes were crusted shut and he had to pull against his own lashes to open them.  He was wearing a blanket of…

‘What was that?’

He struggled to describe what it was he felt he was wearing.  

“Pain… “he gasped.

“He’s back!” shouted Haff.  “He’s back!”

---oooOOOooo---
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LittleBluestem



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PostSubject: Story Challenge: Let the Games Begin   Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:35 pm

It was a quiet afternoon at the Trail’s End Dance Hall & Saloon. Dust motes floated lazily in the shafts of sunlight filtering through the louvers on the slatted batwing doors. The barkeep, Morris, was polishing glass after glass, preparing for the usual Saturday night crowd. One lone man sat at the bar -- a thin, balding gentleman who was reading a newspaper and humming softly to himself. Later that night, he would be ensconced at the battered upright piano in the corner, banging out raucous tunes. Also later that night, the brightly colored satin skirts of the four young women seated at a corner table sipping sarsaparilla and chatting quietly together would be swirling and twirling in a rainbow blur of emerald green, turquoise blue, and flaming scarlet as they danced along to the lively music with the usual array of cowboys and ranch hands from the surrounding area.

“Don’t worry, hon,” soothed Rosie, the eldest among them, a dance hall veteran at the ripe old age of 22. She saw it as her place to mother the rest of the girls, all younger than her – especially the newest and youngest one, fresh off the farm, and hoping to make her fortune in the big, wide world. “All ya have ta to is dance with ‘em. And get ‘em to buy drinks. The more drinks they buy, the more money you make.” Rosie grinned at this simple arithmetic.

The new girl, barely 17 and not yet accustomed to her fancy duds, continually tugged on the puffed sleeves of her crimson gown, pulling them up toward her neck. The tall redhead sitting next to her just as unrelentingly kept pulling them back down, revealing the young girl’s creamy shoulders.

“I’m tellin’ ya, Gwen,” she insisted. “You’ll make more money if ya show more skin!”

The other girls, giggling and nodding, agreed whole-heartedly.

“Yeah, it’s all just a big game,” counseled Rosie. “We get gussied up. We smile at ‘em. We bat our eyelashes. We dance with ‘em. They step on our toes a bit. They drink. They spend. And we make money.”

“Rosie’s right,” agreed Maura, the redhead. “It is a game. It’s just too bad that the other players are…well…they’re just a bunch of dumb, smelly cowboys.” She pulled a face, wrinkling up her nose. “Ain’t no Prince Charmings around here.”

“That’s the truth! Don’t you be thinking you’re gonna get swept off your feet by some handsome young son of a wealthy rancher who will carry you away from all this and marry you and set you up in style. Ain’t gonna happen,” advised a sweet-faced blonde girl named Trudie.

The other two girls nodded their heads vigorously.

“Aren’t any of them nice?” asked Gwen timidly.

“Oh, they ain’t so bad, just so long as you stand downwind!” joked Maura. They all laughed some more at that.

“Just remember it’s a game,” repeated Rosie. “And the prize is money. And money equals independence! Working gals like us don’t need men to make our way in the world,” she added with some measure of pride.

“I’ll drink to that,” said Trudie gaily, raising her glass of sarsaparilla.

Three other glasses were raised amid smiles and more laughter. The clinking of the toast masked the sound of booted feet on the boardwalk and the slight creak of the batwing doors swinging open, but as the golden afternoon light spilled into the barroom, four pairs of heavily mascara-ed eyes turned to see who had entered so early in the day.

Two men stepped into the dim barroom, for a moment their features obscured, backlit as they were by the setting sun behind them. Both dark silhouettes were tall, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, long-legged. Four pairs of eyes continued to stare as the duo stepped into the light and approached the bar.

Three little gasps and one long sigh emerged from four pairs of ruby-rouged lips.

“Oh, Lord have mercy,” Rosie murmured, “I’ll take the blond one.”

“Dibs on the brunette!” chirped Maura.

“Oh, my. I could never choose between them,” breathed Gwen, wondering now if the other girls had been ribbing her about the unwashed, ill-mannered clientele. She could easily see that both men were freshly bathed and shaved. In fact, she could even detect a faint hint of after-shave lotion wafting from their direction.

“Me neither!” Trudie chimed in. “I’ll take ‘em both, thank you very much.”

The fair-haired stranger leaned over and spoke into his partner’s ear. He must have said something funny because the darker one smiled, revealing white, even teeth and two deep dimples. The first fellow grinned broadly, crinkling the bluest of blue eyes.

Three long sighs and one little gasp.

“Ladies,” announced Rosie, rising to her feet and squaring off her shoulders. “Let the games begin!”

Four pairs of high-heeled dancing slippers clicked across the floor as the home team hurried over to welcome the visiting players.
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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:44 pm

The two lathered horses splashed into the water without hesitation, their hooves clumsily clattering across submerged rocks as they carefully picked their path through the swift current until they reached the deeper channels and began to swim.  The roan gelding drifted downstream with the flow towards a sand bar.  His front legs found purchased on the gravel island and he scrambled out of the river.  The stolid gray continued to the far bank, emerging and shaking off excess water.  His curly-haired rider dropped his legs from where they’d been hooked around the saddle’s cantle and turned to look at his partner.

“Heyes, let’s go!”

“Give us a second to catch our breath, will you?” snapped the panting dark-haired man atop the heaving roan.

“We don’t have a second less’n you wanna be on a first name basis with that posse.”

Muttering under his breath to his mount, Hannibal Heyes closed his legs against the tired animal’s sides and the roan reluctantly re-entered the water.  A few moments later, he was standing beside the gray, dripping wet.

Kid Curry’s horse leapt forward.  The roan hurried to catch up.

oooOOOooo

“See anything?” The Kid yelled up to Heyes who was lying on his belly atop a rise, a pair of battered field glasses held to his eyes.

“Not a thing.”  As Heyes spoke, his partner visibly slumped in his saddle.

“’Bout time.”

Heyes slid down the hill and walked towards Curry.  He was covered in trail dust, his face grimy, and his blue shirt stained with several days’ sweat.  “Where d’you think we are?”

“I lost track of directions when the shootin’ started.”  The Kid pulled his brown hat off his head and stuck his forefinger through a large hole in the crown.  

“Better your hat then your head.”  Heyes rubbed his lower back and squinted up at the setting sun.  “Let’s head east.  We’ll hit a road sooner or later.”

“The moon’ll be up in a coupla hours, let’s rest up a spell then ride through the night.”  Curry’s gaze shifted from Heyes to the broad expanse of the high altitude valley as his partner nodded agreement.  Scrubby sage brush was the tallest thing for miles.  They’d stand out like sore thumbs.

oooOOOooo

A muffled tap of the hammer echoed loudly into the darkness as Heyes peered over Curry’s shoulder and hissed, “Hold it down, will you?”

“I’m tackin’ a shoe on, Heyes, it ain’t somethin’ that can be done quiet.”  The Kid shifted his grip on the haft, tightening his hold on the fabric wrapped around the head of the tool.

“Well, hurry it up then, I can almost smell that steak dinner.”  Heyes’ eyes turned south to where a soft glow against the night sky signaled civilization.

“Don’t rush me.  This bar shoe’s gotta be on just right or ol’ Barry here’s gonna come up lame again.  You know how ouchy he gets.”    

“Ol’ Barry ain’t the only one who’s gonna be ouchy if I don’t get some food in my belly soon.  Restaurants don’t stay open all night, you know.”

“Quit grousin’, Heyes.  I’m done.  You’ll be stuffin’ your pie hole in no time.”  Curry drove the last nail into the shoe, dropping the hoof and standing up to rub his stiffened back.  

Heyes mounted his roan and swung the horse around, impatient to be off.  The moon was bright eclipsing the twinkling stars that loomed overhead and illuminating the rutted wagon trail they’d picked up hours ago.

oooOOOooo

The heavy, wooden door flew open with a bang and two trail-weary outlaws, their saddlebags slung over their shoulders, entered the poorly-constructed building standing alone by the side of the road a mile from town.  Wide gaps in the warped planked walls allowed a cool wind to whistle about the room creating undulating waves of visible smoke circulating around the few remaining patrons.  One man slid off his bar stool and onto the floor with a loud thud causing the sleeping barkeep to lift his head from where it, and his arms, had rested on the makeshift bar top stretched across a row of barrels.  He teetered alarmingly on his tall stool before recapturing his balance and pasting a smile on his face.

“Welcome, gents.  Don’t mind our local barfly, he hits the floor ‘least once a night.  What’ll it be?”

“Two beers, two steaks, rare, and one room for the night,” answered Heyes.  He pulled out a chair from a corner table, hooked his saddlebags on the ladder back, and flopped down into it.  The Kid had stopped inside the door and was peering into a large birdcage nestled between the front window and the planked bar.

“Sorry, kitchen closed half an hour ago.  Might be able to rustle up a couple of sandwiches; won’t be steak, though.”

Shooting his partner a venomous look, Heyes sighed, “Sandwiches will be fine, thanks.”

“Room 2, up the stairs and on the left,” said the portly man, fishing in his apron pocket and laying a brass key down on the bar.

“Hey, Mister, your parrot’s dead.”  Curry was poking a finger through the bars prodding a brightly-colored, unresponsive form lying on the bottom of the cage.

“Naw, he ain’t dead, he’s restin’.”  The bartender set two beers down and disappeared into a back room.  A bemused Kid picked up the mugs and the key before crossing the floor to join Heyes who was studying a group of four men engrossed in a poker game.  The players weren’t bad and neither was the pile of money pooled in the center of the table.  

“My aches are achin’,” moaned Curry as he sat down and put his saddlebags on the chair next to him.  He lifted his beer and downed it without stopping for air.

The barkeep reappeared with a small tray bearing two sandwiches.  He plunked the food down in front of the hungry men, snatched up the Kid’s mug, and hurried off.  By the time he came back with a fresh beer, the food was gone and tiny crumbs littered the tray.  Heyes’ cheeks bulged with his hastily-eaten meal.  Unable to speak, he pointed at his now empty mug and the tray.  The bar man nodded his understanding and left again.

“Being chased to hell and back sure seems to stimulate your appetite, partner,” whispered Curry.

“Shh, someone might hear you.”  

“Ain’t nobody could hear over the sound of you smackin’ your lips.”

“Very funny.  You’ll be a big hit in the prison yard,” rejoined Heyes who was also whispering.   “This is no game.  That posse almost caught us. We could’ve been on our way to the Wyoming Territorial Prison right now.”

“Well, we ain’t and I don’t intend to waste my time worryin’ about what might’ve been.”  

Heyes nodded at the poker table.  “Couple of guys just bowed out.  Let’s see if we can get into the game.”

“You go on ahead, I’m gonna finish eatin’ and find myself a soft bed to hole up in, preferably with a soft woman in it,” smiled Curry, standing up and retrieving his saddlebags.

“You play your games, I’ll play mine,” chuckled Heyes, grabbing his sandwich and beer from the returning bartender’s tray and sauntering off to the poker table.

oooOOOooo

Rolling over, the Kid flung out an arm across the mattress.  His head was still spinning from the rotgut whiskey he’d consumed with the lovely Lila.  Too much whiskey.  He couldn’t remember a lot about the night before except that she’d been costly and worth every penny.  Somehow she’d managed to smooth out every kink in his exhausted body.  He pried open his bloodshot eyes and saw she’d left some time during the night.  Sighing, he closed his eyes again and spoke softly, “Coffee time, Heyes?”  His eyes opened again at the lack of a response.  He turned onto his other side and noted the neatly-made bed next to his.  Heyes hadn’t made it up to their room.  The game must’ve gone on all night.  

The Kid rose and picked up his shirt and trousers from the floor, his head pounding as he leaned over.  He tugged on his clothes and lifted his gun belt from the finial of the brass bed.  He could’ve sworn Heyes was too tired to spend the night in a poker game, but his partner was nothing if not unpredictable.  Buckling the belt around his waist, he pulled on his perforated hat, and went down the rickety stairs.

The early morning light did nothing to enhance the saloon.  A dark, wiry man was sweeping up the discarded cigar butts and detritus from the previous evening.  Chairs were upturned on all the tables and dirty glasses were lined up along the bar.  As Curry came down the stairs, the man looked up.

“Howdy,” said the Kid.  “I’m lookin’ for my partner.  My height, dark-haired.”

The man said nothing and returned to his chore.  Curry glared at him and caught his arm, his temper flaring along with his hangover.  “Maybe you didn’t hear me.”

A quick jerk freed the man’s arm.  Brandishing his broom like a weapon, he unleashed a torrent of Spanish upon the Kid.

“Easy now, I don’t speak Mexican and I’m guessin’ you don’t speak American.  Sorry.”  Curry turned away and strode out through the front door.  His gray and Heyes’ roan were still tied to the hitching rail and dozing in the warming sunlight.  Their heads popped up as he stepped out and four big, brown eyes watched him expectantly.  “I know you want breakfast.  So do I, but we’ve got to find our knuckle-headed friend first.”  He stood in the middle of the road and glanced in either direction.  No sign of Heyes.  Finally, he circled the building.  Coming around the front corner again, he saw the horses solemnly watching him.  The untied latigos on Heyes’ saddle reminded him that he hadn’t seen his partner’s gear in their room.  

Curry hurried back inside, running up the stairs as the swamper watched him warily clutching his broom.  Searching their room, the Kid found Heyes’ saddlebags on the floor half-hidden under the unslept-in bed. He seized them and quickly rifled through their contents.  Nothing was missing as far as he could tell.  There was even a small wad of dollar bills stuffed inside a spare sock.  Despite finding the bags, a bad feeling began to coalesce in his stomach.  Where was Heyes?  Had he strolled into town to look around?  Naw, Heyes wouldn’t have gone off and left his partner without letting the Kid know where he was going.  Not with a posse out looking for them.

oooOOOooo

The town was nothing much: a small store, a livery, a tiny jail, and a few ramshackle homes.  The weather-beaten buildings stood sentinel over the windswept street that bisected them.  White clouds cast darkened shadows on the sunbaked ground.  No one was out and about, nothing moved except the two horses plodding along.  Dust swirled about their hooves, but the light breeze stirred it away. The gray was mounted by his attentive rider, the other led by the reins, his saddle unoccupied.  

There were no side streets to ride down, no other places for the Kid to search.  He dismounted in front of the store and tied the horses to the rail out front.  Stepping onto the porch, he peered through the wavy glass window.  Nobody was inside.  Not even the shopkeeper.  He tried the door.  Locked.  Walking to the house next door, he knocked on the door and waited.  No answer.  He repeated his actions at each structure.  No knob turned, no knock was answered.  Finally, reluctantly, he crossed to jailhouse.  The door was also locked.  He gripped the bars on the window and tried to see inside but the glass was dirty and the only thing he could be sure of was this building was as vacant as the others.  Where the hell was everybody?  

He crossed back to the horses and untied them.  He first thought was to head toward the livery on the south end of town.  It was the only place big enough to accommodate all the citizens.  He could only assume that it was separate, apart from the small burg, in an attempt to keep the smells and flies at bay.  A small corral was attached to the west side and the Kid could see several horses contentedly eating hay. The double doors to the front of the large building were tightly shut and barred with a large plank slipped through iron handles.  Even from this distance, he could hear the muffled sound of raised voices.  

Heyes’ roan let out a hopeful nicker and both horses, eager to get their share of the food, tugged at the reins, but the Kid pulled them around.  Something didn’t feel right.  The first twinge of panic nibbled at Curry’s throat.  As nonchalantly as he could, the Kid mounted and rode away from the livery.

oooOOOooo

Curry stood in the dark shadow cast by the stacked bales of hay next to the corral.  He’d left the horses tied behind the store and, using whatever cover he could find, he’d worked his way past the backs of the other buildings on the east side of town until he reached the livery.  Whatever was going on inside, he’d need the element of surprise.  Stealthily, he crept closer until he was next to the barn and could lean his head against the thickly timbered wall.  The small window above him was tightly closed.  He couldn’t understand what was being said but he was sure he heard Heyes’ baritone responding to the swell of other voices. Was Heyes being interrogated?  Had someone figured out who they were?  Had word of the theft reached this forlorn place?  

They’d stolen a shipment of gold bars on its way to the Denver mint.  News would’ve travel fast, almost as fast as Wheat and the rest of the gang considering the heavy load they’d carried.  That’s why he and Heyes had chosen to draw off the posse; the boys had been entrusted with the loot and the gold should be safely tucked away in the Hole by now.  

Heyes sounded riled up even though the Kid couldn’t make out what was being said.  When he heard his partner shouting, his nerve broke.  His imagination seized control of his self-restraint and he envisioned Heyes falling victim to a lynch mob.  Drawing his gun, he ran to the front of the building and slid the plank out, unbarring the door.  If Heyes was going down, he’d go down with him.  Flinging open the door, he rushed inside, gun drawn, and stopped in his tracks.

Heyes stood at the front of a seated crowd and he was grasping a steel bar in his clenched fist waving it wildly until he spotted the Kid.  With his arm still raised, he stared in shock for a brief second at his younger partner before continuing in a booming voice that held his audience spellbound, “‘And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.’”

The crowd roared their approval and clapped with enthusiasm until, putting down the rod, Heyes stepped off the overturned water trough he’d been standing upon and bowed slightly.  “Thank you, thank you.  You’re too kind.”  Basking in the admiration, Heyes waited until the applause died down and the townsfolk dispersed before he walked over to a stunned Curry.  “Might want to put that gun away, partner.  Lord takes a dim view of firearms in church.”

The Kid holstered his gun.  “This ain’t a church and you ain’t a preacher.”

“Well, you know what they say, beggars can’t be choosers.  Town hasn’t got a preacher so I’m the next best thing.”  Heyes grinned, his dimples deeply carving his cheeks.

Curry watched the last of the crowd leave before he spoke again.  “What the hell, Heyes, I thought something bad had happened to you!  You damned near gave me a heart attack.”  

“Better watch that mouth.  Cursing in church ain’t too popular neither.”  Seeing the genuine angst on his partner’s face, Heyes eased up.  “Kid,” he said softly, “don’t you remember me waking you this morning and telling you I’d be here?”

“No.”

“Exactly how much whiskey did you drink last night?” asked Heyes, noting his young friend’s pallor.

The Kid groaned.  “Too much, I guess.”

“Probably ain’t the smartest thing to do when you’re on the run.”  Frowning, Heyes had another thought as he started for the door.  “You didn’t say anything you shouldn’t have, did you?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You’re really gonna have to learn to be more careful if you plan on staying in your current line of work.  We’ll skip the church picnic and be on our way just in case you murmured more than sweet nothings in Lila’s ear.”

“I’ll get the horses, but tell me one thing.  How’d you get pegged as a preacher?”

“I didn’t. I told the other players in the game I was a lawyer.  They figured I could read if I passed the bar.  Town hasn’t had a preacher or a schoolteacher for years; folks here are illiterate.  They’ve been relying on the kindness of strangers.”

“You volunteered to preach?”

“Naw, I took all their money so I didn’t have the heart to turn them down when they asked me to lead the service.”

“How come all the windows and doors were shut?”

Heyes shrugged.  “Folks wanted to keep the flies out and the night air in, I suppose.  Maybe it gets hot during the day.”

“Sheesh, I thought they were stringin’ you up.”

Chuckling, Heyes slung an arm across his partner’s shoulders.  “Thanks for the rescue, but I wasn’t in any danger.”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“You wouldn’t?”

“With you thumpin’ the Good Book, you could’ve been struck by lightnin’,” smirked the Kid.

“Hey Kid, judge not, lest ye be judged.”

_________________
*****************

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

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:47 am

I think this fits the prompt but it's not very ASJ-y I'm afraid. But there are several games going on so ...


Let the Games Begin

 

Mary helped Heyes on with his jacket, and then came round to the front. She straightened his tie and smoothed his lapels. Standing back she smiled, satisfied.

“Very smart.”

“Don’t know why I can’t get dressed on my own,” he grumbled, loosening his tie slightly. He pulled at his collar with a wince. He sighed as Mary slapped his hand away and retightened his tie. Now he finger combed his hair, eyeing himself in the mirror.

Mary picked up a brush.

“Do it properly,” she said, holding it out to him.

He gave her the look as he snatched it from her. He tickled his hair with it before shoving the brush back. She sighed and put it back on the dressing table. As she turned away, he loosened his tie again and pulled at his collar.

“Stop fiddling,” she scolded and her hands went to his tie again.

“Mary, you’re strangling me! Stop it!”

Mary tutted in despair but left him alone. Both their glances now went to the box on the bed. In it lay the Mayor of Porterville’s chain of office. Heyes hated wearing it but he knew on important occasions he had to. It was expected. And today was an important day.

Today he was opening the first Porterville Games. Based on the premise of the first modern day Olympic Games held in Greece the previous year, the Porterville Town Council had decided to stage their own smaller version. To everyone’s surprise, competitors were coming from far and wide. Some were even nationally renowned. It was proving to be a popular event. Rather than just being an afternoon of sports with some evening entertainment, the event had turned into three days of competition ending with a gala supper and spectacular fireworks. Heyes hoped it would be a success to justify the strain on the Town’s coffers. After all, it was his idea.

He sighed. He was tempted to do what he usually did when Mary wasn’t around. Put the mayoral chain in his pocket and put it on at the last minute. However, today they were all going, children as well, as the first family of Porterville. Today he wasn’t going to be able to get away with it.

“Joshua.” Mary was firm. She knew his preference but not today.

He rolled his eyes and sighed. Reluctantly, he moved over to pick it up. He put it on and started for the door.

“No.”

He growled and stopped.

“I am a grown man y’know,” he told Mary, as she straightened it, making sure that it lay flat. He huffed at the time it took her. They both knew this was all a game. One both of them enjoyed if truth be told.

“Be still, Josh and let me do this.”

“Shouldn’t ya be seeing to the children? Getting them ready. I ain’t gonna wait y’know?”

“They’re all downstairs ready.”

“Ready?” he frowned.

“Yes. I got them ready first while you were in the bath.”

He looked doubtful. “This I gotta see.” He stalked to the door, leaving Mary half finished with her fussing. She tossed her hands in the air and rolled her eyes. He opened the door a crack and peered down. He could just see the three children, sitting quietly on the chairs in the hall. He frowned back at Mary. “Are they our children?”

“Yes,” Mary laughed.

“They’re too quiet. D’ya drug ‘em or something?” he asked sharply.

“No of course not.”

“Well, they do look like ours,” he said, looking again, pursing his lips thoughtfully.

“They are ours. They’re on their best behavior.”

“Why?” He was suspicious. “What have ya promised them? How much is it gonna cost me?”

“Nothing.”

Heyes wasn’t convinced but let it go. “Harry is getting restless.”

Heyes opened the door and went without waiting for Mary. She rolled her eyes ceiling-ward and followed him.

Heyes stood in the middle of the hall, hands on hips and looked at the three children. They looked back innocently.

“My don’t ya look fine.”

Susan at eleven was dressed in her best dress with a red velvet cape. Harry and Billy, nine and eight respectively, were smart in jacket, tie and pants, with their hair brushed. Although Harry’s hair showed signs of being ruffled post-brush. Nothing new there then! As Mary came downstairs, all but Harry got up.

Heyes held his hand out to her as she reached the bottom. She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek, taking the opportunity to finish her fussing as she did so. His hand automatically slipped round her waist. He looked at her and smiled.

“First family of Porterville, huh?”

“Yeah! We’re gonna have photographs taken and everything!” Billy said, excitedly.

Heyes rolled his eyes.

“Have you got your speech?” Mary asked.

Heyes patted his pockets and scowled. “No.”

When Heyes came back from his study, he was tucking the speech into the inside pocket of his jacket.

“Are we ready?” Heyes asked.

“Yeah!” Billy bounced around anxious to get going.

“Do I really have to go?” Harry groaned seeing his last chance to get out of it slipping away.

“Yes,” Mary told him firmly.

“Hmm,” said Heyes, thoughtfully.

Then to everyone’s surprise, he sat down on the chair next to Harry and crossed both his arms and legs.

“I’ve changed my mind. I don’t wanna go,” he said, shaking his head and pulling a face.

Harry looked at him, doubtfully. “Don’t you have to go? Haven’t you got a speech to make?”

“Yep,” Heyes nodded. “But they can get somebody else,” he shrugged. “It’s only a boring opening speech anyway. Nothing to it.”

“Hmm,” said Harry thoughtfully. He screwed up his face as he looked at his father. “But you’re the Mayor. Won’t it look odd if you’re not there?”

“Yep, I guess,” Heyes nodded, and sighed dramatically.

“You can just do that? Take a day off when you feel like it. Without telling anybody or asking anyone?”

“Why not? You’re doing it.”

“Huh?”

“Well you’ve decided to take a day off being my son …” Heyes pursed his lips. “Guess that means it’ll be okay.” He nodded, emphatically. “I’ll just tell ‘em you said so.”

Harry slumped back in his seat and looked at Heyes knowingly. Heyes leaned over towards him. “Harry, do ya really think I want to sit up on that platform and listen to all those boring speeches?”

Harry looked at him but didn’t say anything.

“Do ya?” Heyes demanded a little more firmly.

“Guess not,” Harry mumbled. “But I bet you’ll make a boring speech as well!”

“Thanks!” Heyes smacked his lips and looked up at Mary, who smiled.

Heyes turned back thoughtfully.

“I’ll tell ya what if my speech is boring I’ll buy you that train set you’ve been trying to save for.” Heyes beamed when he saw the expectant look on Harry’s face. “Without success,” he added, rolling his eyes at Mary.

Harry sighed, dramatically. “What do I have to do?”

“Come along so you can tell me later if my speech was boring or not. An’ you’ve gotta do it properly. You’ll be sitting with Grandpa. So if he nods off …”

Heyes left it hanging and Harry grinned at him. “So if Grandpa stays awake it’s not boring?”

“Yeah I reckon. But no nudging mind. It’s gotta be strictly by the book. Susan, Billy you’re my witnesses. That fair?”

Harry nodded. “So if Grandpa doesn’t fall asleep through your speech it’s not boring and I get my trainset?”

“Yes.”

To Heyes’ surprise, Harry held out his hand for a shake. With a glance at Mary, Heyes solemnly shook.

“Now can we go?”

Harry face pulled a look of disgust. Reluctantly he moved.

“I don’t wanna go!” Billy wailed.

“Yes you do,” Mary said, firmly, turning him round.

“Boys!” Susan muttered, leading the way.

Mary looked back. Heyes was standing hands on hips, looking into space, shaking his head. Oh boy did he hate these things!

Conscious they were waiting for him he took a deep breath and followed.


 


 

Heyes and Mary sat at the back of the stage listening to the various dignitaries who were giving speeches. Heyes would be last and the afternoon was dragging on interminably.

Mary nudged her husband. “Stop scowling. Anyone would think you weren’t enjoying yourself,” she hissed in his ear.

Heyes turned his head and gave a look that said: I’m not!

Mary sat facing the front, a hint of a smile on her face as she let the look hit her.

“This has gone on long enough already. I have to make my speech as well,” he whispered back.

“Then cut it short.”

“I can’t. It’s short enough already.”

Mary sniffed and shifted in her seat. “You wanted to be Mayor. Again.”

“I didn’t! They passed that damm by-law again! Remember?”

Mary shook her head dismissively. “Details, details, details.”

Heyes let his tongue explore his mouth. If they weren’t in public he’d … Unintentionally, he had caught somebody’s eye in the front view of the audience. He false smiled, nodding politely.

He looked at the current speaker. Heyes had no idea what the man was droning on about. He’d stopped listening ten minutes ago. Probably telling the audience about his last vacation for all he knew. Heyes sighed. There was no sign the speaker was winding up either.

“Where are the children?” Heyes asked, suddenly.

“With Papa. You know this.”

“Just making sure.”

Mary gave him the look. He faced the front looking innocent. Mary rolled her eyes and faced the front too. A dimpled grin spread over his face.

“That’s better,” she said, seeing it out of the corner of her eye. “How long is your speech?”

“Three minutes. But I can do it in two an’ a half. They’ve heard it afore so I can go quicker. I just altered it a little to fit.”

Mary tutted.

“This is first time Porterville has put on an event like this. It was your idea. Don’t you think it deserved a new speech?” she asked indignantly.

“Why? The old ones are the best. Everyone knows that,” he sniffed, arms folded.

“You’re a writer! Couldn’t you have come up with something new for this occasion?”

“I write novels, not speeches.”

“Don’t you write speeches IN novels?”

Heyes had no answer to that. Try as he might he could find no fault with her logic. He hated that and scowled.

A moment later, Mary nudged him again. “Stop scowling.”

“I’m …” He bit off the not. “Mary stop it. We’re starting to circle.”

This time they shared a smile. At the lectern, there was a hint that the speaker was winding up. Heyes suddenly took an interest in what the speaker was saying. Both he and Mary smiled and clapped politely when he finished.

The host of the event jumped up with undue haste and said: “And now without further ado, to open the first Porterville Games, please welcome our very own Mayor, Mr. Joshua Smith.”

Heyes got up to polite applause. The townsfolk in the audience shifted in their seats. They knew their Mayor would be comparatively quick – he usually was. As he strode to the lectern, he took his speech from the inside pocket of his jacket. He smoothed it flat and cleared his throat. He scanned the first line and hesitated. Something made him look round at Mary and a look passed between them. He took a deep breath and turned back. To everyone’s surprise, he folded up his speech and returned it to his pocket. In the same movement, he took out his pocket watch and set it on the lectern. Glancing at the time, he cleared his throat again and began to speak.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored guests. Welcome to Porterville on the opening day of the First Porterville Games. Thank you for coming. I know many of you have travelled a long distance to be here so I hope you’re also enjoying the hospitality of our town. For this occasion, I had a speech. All prepared. Typed out. In big lettering.  ‘Cos my eyesight’s going but I’m not yet ready to admit I need glasses.”

He licked his lips as the audience tittered and he smiled.

“But as I was sitting here listening to the previous speaker, I suddenly realized that perhaps it wasn’t gonna be good enough.”

He paused and shrugged.

“My wife reminded me that these Games are something new for Porterville. A lot of hard work, by many people, has gone in to get us to this point today. The competitors have practiced their chosen events for months. Striving to be the best they can. Overcoming injury, personal setbacks and other inconveniences that may stop them fulfilling their dreams here during the next few days. If they can strive to be the best they can, then an old recycled speech jus’ isn’t worthy. So, here I am …”

He rolled his eyes.

“Standing here. Winging it. In front of you all. Not knowing what I’m gonna say next. I can tell you it’s a daunting feeling. But in a way, this is how the young men and women who are gonna take part in these Games must feel. They’ve done the preparation but it accounts for nothing if it doesn’t go right on the day.”

Heyes paused and took a sip of water. He put it down deliberately, looking at it thoughtfully.

“Which brings to mind what a friend of mine told me once. Many of you will remember Lom Trevors. He was Sheriff here in Porterville for eight years, a while back now. He told me when I had doubts, that if you don’t try for something then there’s simply no hope of success. If you do try, you have a chance. Perhaps only, a small chance but a chance nonetheless. Of course at the time he was talking to me about something other than sporting achievement.”

He smiled at the small ripple of laughter.

“Some of you have guessed what I’m referring to.”

He cleared his throat.

“But it’s true Ladies and Gentlemen that trying is the key to achievement. And I think that’s what the next few days are gonna be all about. For most of the competitors, it will be a personal achievement, which we as onlookers may never know about. For others, sadly a personal failure and all too obvious to everyone. For a few - recognition. A medal to display. A cup for their mothers to dust and polish with pride.”

He rolled his eyes as the audience tittered. Hearing Mary laughing behind him, he looked back and smiled at her.

“But more than medals or cups, it’s character that counts. Philosophically, these Games bring us many hopes. Hopes for peace and harmony amongst our various ethnic populations and hopes that our young people will be inspired by the values of sport. These values can help us in many ways in our daily lives. I have personal experience of that.

To participate in a sport well requires discipline. The discipline to put in the time and the preparation and to learn new skills. Not always easy. I know that.

It can be hard work and I suspect there are times when the competitors have felt like giving up. Sometime it can feel like it’s just too difficult. Somehow, they have found the will to go on. I know that all too well.

Going on is not without its sacrifices either. Family life and friends all have to take a back seat.

Team events bring other complications. We can’t all be leader or good at all positions on the field. Being part of a team requires you to put aside what you would like to be good at in favour of what you are good at. If you’re lucky, they are the same but invariably they are not. For the good of the team, it’s important that you play the part that is required of you. Learning how to be part of a team, teaches us that putting ourselves first is not always the right way to go. A team can accomplish far more than an individual. My team was successful because of that.”

There was a ripple of laughter.

“To compete in sport you also have to learn to deal with and accept failure. Knowing that it is just a temporary setback is a valuable lesson to learn. Only you allow it to become permanent.

All these values will be exemplified, not by whether a competitor wins but the manner in which they compete. I’m sure we will see many shining examples in the next few days.”

He cleared his throat.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, honored guests I promised I wouldn’t go on too long but I fear I have. It gives me great pleasure to declare the First Porterville Games open. Let the Games begin!”

Heyes raised his arms dramatically as the audience stood and clapped. He picked up his watch, looked at it with pursed lips and a satisfied nod, and then tucked it away.

With a smug grin, he returned to his seat.

“Darling, you were amazing,” she said, turning her cheek so he could kiss her.

“Of course,” he said, modestly and chortled.

“There’s just one thing I don’t understand.”

“What’s that?”

“Your name is Hannibal, not Caesar.”

He looked at her. “That’s what the Roman Caesars used to say to start the gladiatorial games. I thought it appropriate,” he smiled. “Now can we get off this stage so I can get rid of this thing.”

He waved the Mayoral chain.

“These aren’t the only Games to begin. I think we’re gonna have a game with our elder boy,” he growled, as they walked down the steps.

Mary looked indignant. “What do you mean we? You know better than to try to bribe Harry. You’ll live to regret it!”

Heyes scowled. He feared she was right.
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:08 pm

A/N--This is from a character that originated in Chapter 12 of 'Thrown For A Loop' if you want to read the original text that inspired this. I don't think you would have to read the whole story to understand this particular character's actions, you could just look at that chapter. It just happened one day, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I hope that in some roundabout way, it'll fit the prompt.

oooooasjoooo

Judy's Journal

October 13th, 1883
Dear Diary,

Today was wonderful! I'm STILL excited over it! I'm tired, but I can't sleep for thinking about it!

It started out very boring, like almost every other day in this town. I fixed myself my usual four eggs and toast then left for work. On the way to the library, I picked up the latest paper to read. I know the library has books, but I've already read most of them, especially the dime novels. I love the dime novels! Why can't I ever have any adventures like those outlaws and sheriffs get to have? Oh well, I just enjoy reading about outlaws. I would love to have an outlaw for a boyfriend! A nice one. That would make me sooo happy! My nice, bad boy outlaw boyfriend. He could rob a bank and we could take all the money and live a life of luxury. Oh well, enough wishing for now. Seems the only way I can get a man is to come on to them myself. They all seem to run away from me. I wonder if it's my height that scares them away? I can't help that I'm six foot three. My cat just killed a mouse.

Anyway, I opened up the building, went in, checked everything like I do everyday, then sat myself down at the desk. That desk is little. I think I wrote that about the desk on some day last week, but I can't remember if I did or not so I wrote it again. I'm too tired to go back and check.

It was getting to be about time for lunch when HE walked into the library. Oh my gosh, was he the most handsome thing I've ever laid my eyes on! He had dark hair pushed up in under a black hat, brown eyes that looked like they just oozed mischief, and when he came over to the desk and smiled at me, my knees went weak. He had the cutest dimples! He said his name was Joshua Smith. 'Judy and Joshua Smith',... sounds like a good match to me! I decided right then, I had to have this man.

I don't remember exactly what he asked me. I was lost looking into those dark chocolate eyes. Whatever the question was, I must've answered because he turned to walk off. I grabbed him by the shoulder and told him I'd help him any way I could. Then I let go and he walked to the back shelf. And what a walk! I could watch that backside all day, even if it was partly covered by a jacket!

He found his books and sat down with his back to me at one of the tables. I held my paper up like I was reading, but I was really just watching him. He seemed to be searching for something in the book he had, so I walked up behind him and grabbed him by the shoulder again. I must've scared him because he jumped like he'd been shot.
I asked him if he was finding what he wanted. I had certainly found what I wanted! I looked down at him sitting in that chair and it was all I could do not to attack him right then and there. He said he was fine, (and he certainly was), so I went back to the desk.

He read for a little bit, then put the books back and looked at another for a minute or two, then he started to leave. But I couldn't just let him leave. You don't see men like him everyday. So I hurried over and blocked the door. It was so cute, the way his head just barely came above my shoulders! I asked him was he leaving so soon and he said he had found what he was looking for and had to go. Well, I told him I'D found what I was looking for too. I actually made him blush! It was adorable!

He said he had to get back to Destiny Loop to his partner. I grabbed him by the arm and asked if his partner was a woman. He said no, but he had to meet his partner at a certain time and didn't want him him to worry. No! He can't leave yet! So I put my other hand on his shoulder and was firmly holding him in place. I suggested he send his friend a telegraph telling him he'd be late, but he told me the lines to Destiny Loop were down.

All of a sudden, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to kiss those lips. I jerked him forward and gave him the best kiss of his life. He started playing hard to get, struggling to lean back from me. That just made me want him more.

I finally released him and he stepped back. He said something and then I grabbed the lapels of his jacket. I could tell deep down he wanted me, but didn't want to show it.

Then, a wonderful thing happened. He told me his name was really Hannibal Heyes! Hannibal Heyes, the outlaw leader! I had hit the jackpot! There was no way I was letting him go now! I had my outlaw boyfriend! Ahh, Mrs. Hannibal Heyes...sounds sooo good!

I looked straight into his eyes and knew he was telling the truth. They looked all dark and dangerous. But that didn't bother me none. He grabbed my wrists and I knew what he wanted. So I lunged forward and we ended up in the floor together!

I fell on top of him and he would NOT be still. I don't know how he expected me to kiss him when he was moving every which way. But I managed to do it anyway. I sat on his chest, got ahold of his head, and started kissing away.

He was STILL playing hard to get though for some reason. He was yelling for me to get off him, that ladies didn't act that way, and asked me was I crazy. But I knew he didn't really mean it. Suddenly, he pushed my shoulders and I lost my balance for a second and he turned and I fell onto my side on the floor. He tried to get up as fast as he could, but I was faster! His hat had fallen down on his back, so I grabbed the stampede string and jerked him back down to his knees. I might have choked him a little bit because he coughed. I grabbed hold of his shoulders and tried to pull him to the floor. But I only had ahold of his jacket and he started acting like he was trying to take it off. Now we were getting somewhere! Then I caught hold of his shirt collar and that got him back down to the floor. He was still telling me I was crazy so I said, "Yeah, and you're dangerous so we're a perfect match!"

I finally made it around to where I could sit on his legs. So I did and then I grabbed his arms and tried holding him down. This was a dream come true! But I couldn't hold him there. No wonder the law can't catch him and hold onto him. He's more slippery than a greased pig. I let go of his arms and grabbed his lapels again. He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed again. This time when I lost my balance, I held on to him so we both fell over on our sides.

He scrambled back to his hands and knees and was about to get up, but again, I moved quicker so I jumped and sat on his back. That pushed him back to the floor. I don't know why he kept playing so hard to get. We both knew what we wanted. I ran my hands through his dark hair and held his head once more to the side. He kept trying to raise back up on his knees, but I wasn't having none of that. He was right where I wanted him.

I told him to take me back to his hideout while I held onto him and kissed some more. At last, he quit fighting me and said, "Okay", he would take me away to live with him at Devil's Hole and that I should let him up so I could get my things and we could get going.

So I let go, and as soon as he stood up, he bolted out the door and jumped on his horse. I ran out to get him back, but he took off. I yelled that I loved him. He said something as he rode past the sheriff. I bet he was saying he loved me too and he'd be back. I understood. Of course he had to run, the sheriff was coming.

But as I stood in the street and watched him gallop off with my heart, I told him I would find him again someday. The sheriff came up to me and asked me if that was really Hannibal Heyes and I said yes while smiling real big and trying to push my hair out of my face. I figured he would go get a posse and go after my love. But then, the sheriff asked me the strangest question. He asked me what did I do to the poor boy. I looked completely innocent and said, "Nothing". Just because three men have tried to file assault charges on me, now I get this question all the time.

The sheriff just shook his head and left. I walked back into the library and sat down, thinking about my outlaw love. I was starting to get sad, but then I remembered he said he was meeting Kid Curry in Destiny Loop. Hmmm... why settle for one outlaw when I could have TWO! And not just any two, the two best outlaws there was! So I hurried and closed the library up and ran home to get ready.

I stopped at the cafe first though because it was past lunch time and I was hungry. I wished I hadn't though because the school teacher came in and asked me to open the library back up so she could get a book she needed for class. So I had to go back over there after I ate.

By the time I got everything settled and got home to get my horse ready, I was frantic with worry. What if they left without me? So as soon as I could change clothes, get my hair fixed, and my makeup back on, I fixed up my horse and rode as fast as I could to Destiny Loop. I wondered where two outlaws would be staying in town. Then I remembered Hannibal had used the name 'Joshua Smith', so I went to the hotel and asked if someone by that name was there. The clerk said yes and I found out which room was theirs and quietly climbed the stairs.

I knocked and a voice asked who was it. I wanted to surprise Hannibal so I said I had a message for Mr. Smith. But he didn't answer the door.

The man that did though, WOO! He was just as handsome as Hannibal! Dark blond, curly hair under a floppy brown hat and eyes the color of sapphires. He was just a tiny bit bigger than Hannibal and then it hit me,...he wasn't just an outlaw, he was also a gunslinger! This was Kid Curry!

Once again, I couldn't control myself. My heart jumped for joy and I jumped on him. Hannibal looked down as we fell to the floor. But I'm afraid, dear diary, I must stop here tonight. Kid Curry's a whole other story and I'm too tired to write anymore.

Love, Judy

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Come to the dark side.....we have cookies... Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:26 pm

Let the Games Begin – August 2016


A man sat on a hotel porch with his feet on the rails and chair tilted back.  He rocked as he smoked a cigar and watched the folks in the town carrying on with their business.  Suddenly he sat upright, feet down.  He stared at two men riding into town.  “It can’t be.”  He quickly stood and went into the hotel, taking the stairs two at a time.  “Gotta check my posters.”

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry rode into the small town of Jackson nonchalantly checking out the town and its inhabitants.  They glanced towards the jail and smiled, tipping their hats to the sheriff sitting outside during the heat of the afternoon.

“Doesn’t look familiar to me.  How about you?” Heyes quietly asked his partner.

“Don’t recall ever seein’ him before.”  The Kid reined towards the saloon.  “How about a drink to get rid of the dust?”

“Sounds like a good idea.”

The men dismounted near the Buckhorn Saloon and led their horses to the trough for a drink.  

“Heyes, did you notice the man at the hotel?”

“The one sitting on the porch?”  Heyes glanced towards the tallest building in town.  “Who’s not there now.”

“Exactly.”

“Could be he finished his cigar and was ready to go back in.”

“Or that he had an appointment to go to.”

Heyes furrowed his brow.  “Do you think we have anything to worry about?”

“I hope not.  I was really lookin’ forward to a soft bed and someone else doin’ the cookin’.”  Curry tied his horse to the hitching rail near the saloon.  “He didn’t head to the jail, so that’s positive.”

“Well, let’s get a drink here and ride on to the next town, just in case.”

The Kid sighed.  “Okay.  Better safe than bein’ sorry.”

“Or jailed for twenty years.”  Heyes stepped onto the boardwalk.  “Come on.”

The two men walked into the dim saloon and ordered a beer at the counter.

“There’s a door over there.”  Curry nodded towards the back.

“And an empty table with our name on it.”  Heyes picked up his glass and walked over to the dark corner in the back of the saloon with the Kid following.

They sat with their backs to the walls, each watching a door.

“It’s probably nothin’.”  Curry took a sip of beer.

“Can’t be too cautious,” Heyes agreed and took a swallow.  “Just a coincidence.”

“Or maybe not.”  Kid Curry put down his drained glass and unhooked the latch holding his gun, his hand wavering above it.

Heyes’ eyes went towards the back door his partner was watching.  “Is that…”

“Yep, Lou Rosset.  Let’s get out of here before he sees us.”

A man came in the back door with his hand hovering near his gun.  He blinked several times, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dim saloon after coming in from the bright sunlight.  He saw shadows of men playing faro and poker, several patrons around the bar, and a gal sauntering down the staircase.  A moment later he noted two men slipping out the front door.

Heyes and the Kid made their way along the wall of the saloon, hoping not to be too visible to the man at the door.  When they arrived at the entrance, they ducked out and hurried to their waiting horses.

“Of all the towns, we have to ride into the one Lou Rosset is in!” Heyes exclaimed in frustration as he mounted his mare.

“Yep, and he’s not too fond of bringin’ in folks alive.”  

The men rode through the town as quick as was safe and then urged their horses into a gallop at the edge of town.

The man at the saloon door watched their exit.  “Must be Heyes and Curry.  So they wanna run, huh?  I so enjoy a good challengin’ game of tag!”  He hurried towards the livery.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Curry loped through the countryside, up a hill towards a line of trees.  Once they reached the copse, they slowed to take a look behind them.  The horses danced as they caught their breath.

“Think he’s followin’ us?”

“What do you think?”

“I think we better get goin’!”
 
They spurred their animals further into the woods.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Lou Rosset knelt as he fingered the hoofprints.  “Fresh tracks.  They went this way.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The Kid and Heyes reached a stream and immediately urged their mounts into it.  

“Which way?” Curry asked as he wiped the sweat from his forehead with a sleeve.

Heyes glanced both ways.  “Let’s head upstream.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The bounty hunter came to a wooded area.  “So it’s hide and seek now.”  He drove his horse forward.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes’ and Curry’s horses cautiously made their way through the stony stream bed for several miles.  Their riders reined them to the bank.  One dismounted and broke a willow branch.  Making sweeping motions, he walked behind the horses as his partner led the animals away from the stream.  About a hundred feet later, the branch was discarded and the men rode uphill.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Lou Rosset let his gelding drink when they reached the stream.  “So did they go upstream or downstream?”  He pulled out a coin from his vest pocket.  “Heads upstream and tails downstream.”  Tossing the coin in the air, he deftly caught it.  “Heads it is.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The deep orange orb of light swiftly sank behind the horizon out of sight as two men rode along a ridge.

“Don’t have much light.  We’re gonna have to stop soon.”

“Need to get as far as we can.  We’re sitting ducks up here.”  Heyes stopped and pulled out a spyglass from his saddlebag and looked down into the darkening valley.

“See anythin’?”  Curry opened a canteen and took a deep drink before handing it to his partner.

After a few swallows, he gestured with his hand.  “There's something moving down there.

“If you can see him, chances are he can see us.  Let’s get down.”

The men turned and began riding off the ridge following an animal path.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Rosset squinted into the setting sun.  “Looks like they’re on top of the ridge.  Neither of us will be able to go much further.”  He sighed and smiled.  “I so enjoy a game of cat and mouse.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Curry huddled in the deep shadow of a tree as they chewed on jerky.

“A cup of coffee would be nice,” Heyes commented.

“So would a fire.  It’s gonna be chilly tonight.”  The Kid pulled up the collar to his coat.

“We were having a good streak there.  No one recognized us.”

“Unfortunately, we had to meet up with Lou Rosset, one of the best bounty hunters around.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.  Why don’t you sleep first?  I’ll wake you up in a couple of hours.”

The Kid yawned as he laid down.  “Sounds good to me.”  He curled up and quickly fell asleep.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Lou Rosset walked in the dim moonlight, leading his horse.  “It would be just a quarter moon.  I feel like we’re playin’ Blind Man’s Bluff and I’m the one blindfolded.”  He spit some chaw on the ground.  “Wonder if I’m hot or cold to findin’ a pair of outlaws?  With any luck I'll be able to catch up to 'em while they're sleepin'.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The ebony night began fading with the predawn when the two men got back on their horses and rode.

Around nine o’clock, Heyes peered through his spyglass.  “Dang!”

“What?!”

“He’s not that far away.  How’d he do that?”  Heyes put the tube back in his saddlebag and mounted.

“He must not have slept.”  Curry spurred his horse.  “Let’s go!”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Rosset smiled.  “Tracks are only about an hour old.  I’m gettin’ warmer.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Kid Curry urged their mounts to go as fast as the tired animals could.  In an opening, a root from a large pine tripped Heyes’ horse, sending the dark-haired man over and down on the ground.

Curry quickly turned back.  “Heyes!  Are you okay?”  He jumped down to his fallen partner.

Heyes rolled over and moaned.

“You’re bleedin’!”

Heyes put his hand to his head.  “Ouch!

“Rosset is right behind us.  We have to get goin’!”

“Yeah, can you help me up?”  Heyes held out a hand.

Curry shook his head.  “You’re in no shape to ride hard and neither are our horses.”  He paused a moment.  “I got an idea.”

Heyes squinted.  “What kind of an idea?”

“Play possum!”

“Huh?’’

“Play dead like we did playin’ cowboys and Indians when we were kids.”

Heyes shook his head in disbelief and winced.  “I won't have to play dead – I'll be dead when Rosset finds me.”

“I’ve got your back.”  The Kid mounted his horse again.

“Your idea better work.”  Heyes gingerly laid back down.

“I hope so, too,” Curry muttered as he rode off a way, got off his horse, and tied it where it wasn’t visible from the opening.

He stayed hidden near the opening, keeping an eye on his partner and the chestnut mare grazing nearby.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


“Well, I’ll be!” Lou Rosset exclaimed as he entered the opening and noticed the fallen man and horse nearby.  “I’m burnin’ hot – found me an outlaw!”

The bounty hunter jumped down, gun drawn, and cautiously walked up to the still form whose arms were splayed away from his body.  “Is he dead?”  He kicked the body over and noted the bleeding head.  Rosset looked around for any sign or sound that someone else was around.  “Soo your partner left ya for dead, huh?”  He holstered his gun and bent down to check for a heartbeat.

“No, his partner is right behind you.”  Kid Curry walked from behind a tree as he pulled back the hammer of his Colt.  “Put your hands up, away from your gun.”

Heyes opened one eye and then another before smiling.

“I thought you were dead,” exclaimed the bounty hunter.  “Way you were layin’ there and I swear you weren’t breathin’.”

“Yep, my partner was pretty convincin’ when we were kids playin’ cowboys and Indians.”  Curry pointed the gun over to a tree.  “Now step over there away from him.”

“Next time you get to play possum – he kicked me!”  Heyes untied his bandana from around his neck to stop the bleeding.

“Well, next time don’t fall off your horse and get a head wound.”  The Kid walked closer to the hurt man.  “Can you cover him for a minute while I get some rope?”

“Sure.”

“How many fingers am I holdin’ up?”  Without taking his eyes off of the bounty hunter, Curry’s left hand showed four fingers.

Heyes batted away the hand.  “Four.”

“Here.”  Curry handed his gun to Heyes and went over to the grazing horse to retrieve a rope.  “Over here, Rosset, and sit down with your back to the tree.”

The bounty hunter grunted and sat down.  Curry secured him to the tree, double checking the knots, and then walked over to his partner.

“How you doin’?”  The Kid took the gun, holstered it, and gave Heyes a hand to help him up.

Heyes took the hand, slowly standing.  “As good as someone can be after rising from the dead.”

“What are we gonna do with him?”

“You can’t leave me here like this!” Lou Rosset exclaimed.  “I’ll die out here like this with no food or water or a wild animal gettin’ me.”

“Well, what would you have done to us if you had caught us?” Heyes asked.

“I would have… Well, I wouldn’t have left you tied to a tree.”

“No, because you wouldn’t have gotten the reward money that way.”  The Kid started to walk off.  “I’ll be right back.  Have to get my horse.”

“How far off is town?”  Heyes dabbed the bandana at his wound.

“Let me see… Mule Creek is probably eight to ten miles due east of here.”

“So sixteen to twenty miles – about a day,” Heyes calculated.

“You’re gonna leave me!?”  The bounty hunter tugged at the ropes holding him tight.

“Accordin’ to your reputation, you would have brought us in dead so consider yourself lucky.”  The Kid led his horse into the opening.  “Are you thinkin’ what I think you’re thinkin’?”

“Yeah, we’ll head to Mule Creek and leave a note telling them where to find him.”

“A note!?” Rosset yelped.  “That could take days!”

“I suspect if you save your voice and don’t yell until you hear someone, you can be heard from pretty far away.”

Heyes and the Kid mounted their horses.

“You okay to ride?” Curry checked.

Heyes sighed.  “You stay on your horse…”

“…and I stay on mine,” they said in unison.




A couple of games pioneer children played:

Blind Man's Bluff - One person is blindfolded and other players form a circle around him/her. The blindfolded person is turned around a few times then let go to catch one of the players. There are different ways to play the game. One way is that the blindfolded player has to guess who they have caught.

Hot and Cold - One person (it) leaves the room while the others hide a button (or some other object). When "it" returns he/she has to try and find the button. The others give hints by saying "warm, warmer, hot, or cold, colder, etc."

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 16 - Let the Games begin...   Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:00 pm

Cat and Mouse

“I’m sorry, gentlemen, but this is much too gamey.”

Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry glanced at each other with raised eyebrows. Turning their attention back to one J. Bellamy Pierpont, Curry spoke. “You said you wanted buffalo, so we brought you buffalo. The bigger the game, the wilder the taste.”

“I’m sorry, but we’ll need something milder,” Pierpont huffed.

Heyes quipped, “Maybe the fox should raid the henhouse.”

“Or maybe the fox should be next.” Pierpont brightened.

“Fox’ll be too gamey for you too. When you figure out what you want, let me know,” Curry said before turning on his heel.

“Wait!”

Kid again faced Pierpont. Heyes glanced at Curry and gestured he would respond. “Mr. Pierpont, we’ve tasted most of what’s out there, and barring people being used to camping and the outdoors, there’s a reason they mostly eat farm animals. The wilder tastes take some getting used to. What’s the sense in supplying meat to a hunting camp anyway?”

J. Bellamy Pierpont rose. “Ah, precisely the point, Mr. Smith. Well-heeled Easterners will pay handsomely for a big game hunt here in the West, but I’m afraid most of them haven’t the stomach for what they’ll shoot. They’re only interested in bagging trophies for bragging rights and probably do expect everything to taste like chicken, so therefore the need for something authentic but also suitable for their palates. That’s how we’ll be different from other such hunting outfits.” He regarded the partners. “As you said, you gentlemen have had experience with various tastes in the wild. What would you suggest?”

Curry scrunched his brow in thought. He could suggest many things, but he also did not want himself and Heyes to find themselves on a wild goose chase. Wait – goose? Nah. Other birds? “How about turkey?” he heard himself say.

Heyes nodded. “That might do it. We saw a few in the area.”

Pierpont smirked. “Turkey? That sounds so … common!”

The dark-haired partner sighed. “You’re right. It’s more common than any game you’ve mentioned so far. Tourists paying a lot of money want something different. They can hunt turkey anywhere. Now this whole thing really makes no sense.”

Pierpont was aghast. “With insubordination like that, you’ll find your employment terminated quickly. How dare you!”

Heyes continued. “No, how dare you, Mr. Pierpont. What you don’t know is we’re really here as a favor to Colonel Harper. He wants to make sure any investment he makes in your operation would pay off. So pardon me for saying so, but this won’t work. You can’t have guides going in two directions – helping the paying customers find what they’re looking for and running off to feed them something else. You lose the authenticity for them right there, never mind running us ragged. ”

“Ah, Mr. Smith, your argument loses validity when there are two of you – Mr. Jones to guide and you to hunt dinner. It makes perfect sense.” Pierpont’s smile had smug written all over it.

Curry rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. He would leave this to his partner.

“Mr. Pierpont, I’m not going to argue the point. We’ll let Colonel Harper know we don’t think you can make this work, so it isn’t worth his investment. Your lack of experience shows in spades.” He paused a moment to let the words sink in. “With all due respect, Eastern dudes will pay big money for their trophies, yes, but they’ll want the whole experience of getting them, warts and all.”

Pierpont challenged him. “What are you saying?”

Kid jumped in. “If my partner wasn’t plain enough, they wanna eat what they shoot. We have some experience leadin’ a hunt, and you have it all wrong.”

“Well!”

Heyes shot back, “Well water, no. They’ll drink from the stream, same as everyone else.”

Pierpont’s voice rose. “Stop twisting my words! If you thought the premise was bad from the start, why did you go traipsing off after buffalo?”

Heyes shrugged. “For the Colonel’s sake, we had to give you and the idea the benefit of the doubt. You admitted you didn’t know what game tasted like, so we gave you that, but it sounded strange. Your backers back East want in on a good idea, but they need someone tougher than you and who’s done this before to make it work. Colonel Harper wants to invest in Western tourism, but not with the likes of someone so inexperienced running it. Odds are it’ll fail right out of the gate.”

Pierpont’s countenance turned a bright shade of scarlet. He stammered and opened his mouth, hemming and hawing to find the right words. None came.

Curry stood with arms folded as Heyes continued. “Face it, Mr. Pierpont, you might be able to fool your Eastern syndicate, but you’re really just a grifter trying to con your backers. The Colonel’s smarter than that, and so are we.” He winked. “And remember, it takes one to know one. Good day.”

Kid tipped his hat as he followed Heyes out.

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