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 Sept 16 - False Start

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Calico

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PostSubject: Sept 16 - False Start   Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:55 am

I know it's late and I know I haven't got the poll up yet...

... which will still be a while...

BUT, I have sneaked away from the world of spreadsheets for the tiniest of instances to make sure you lovelies have something to get started on.

Let's hope your beginning sentence is not a...

FALSE START

Though, maybe it will be, because,

FALSE START

is your challenge for September

Let the word-smithing, and indeed, the word-jonesing ....begin
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PostSubject: Destiny's Cycle: Part One- False Start   Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:39 am

Beware this is cliff-hanger, I enjoyed writing Blood in the Sun, piece by piece using the challenge headers and I have decided try it again. I also have not decided how Part Two will go. However, I will listen to thoughts and ideas....  sm

Kid passed through the drifting smoke as soft as a breeze; gliding across the room, without a sound, not even his boot heels making staccato echoes on the battered wood floor. He appeared unaware of all about him; when in reality, his diamond-hard, blue eyes beneath his low pulled hat were scouring the room, always returning to the empty chair next to his partner.  

Sliding into the chair, he thought, ‘Something’s fixin’ to happen. I can feel it.’ Taking a deep breath and exhaling, he tried to get his taunt nerves to relax. Letting his gaze slant to Heyes’, he saw, he was shuffling one-handed and by his grin, he was shining on the other players.

The cards were slipping and rolling together as smoothly as the wheels on a steam engine chugging along. Kid kept watching the moving cards, not hearing a word Heyes was saying.  

The hair on the back of his neck felt thick and stiff, ‘It’s here.’ Kid thought, knowing he was right. Being a gunslinger this many years, he had learned a singular skill, one that had kept not only himself alive, but Heyes too, and that was to rely on his senses. Rely on them, even when his partner teased him, rely on them even when all felt perfectly normal, just rely on them no matter what.

Kicking up from the chair and snagging hold of Heyes’ shoulder, Kid turned scanning the room. Anyone watching would think him over sauced on red-eye and needing extra leverage to stand. That was not it at all, for he had bolted to his feet, ready for action. Still, those around him did not need to know this. A trick he had learned from his partner, sometimes, feigning weakness could draw an opponent out, garnering you the upper hand.

Kid’s fingers dug deeper into Heyes’ shoulder, pulling his cousin’s thoughts and concentration from the game. There was not a member of the Devil’s Hole Gang, who did not know how lost their leader could become in a poker game. Kid had told him, too many times to track, ‘pokers goin’ be your undoing, one day, Heyes.’ It was exactly the reason, Kid preferred not to leave Heyes unattended, whenever he bellied up to a green top. But, right now, this moment, he needed Heyes mentally with him.

At the quick, jab of pain in his shoulder, Heyes’ stomach went tight, his mouth dry. Still, his dark eyes, only, rose casually from the pasteboards to case the room surrounding him. His brows dropped, the smallest bit, ‘I don’t see it… no law dogs, or owl hoots, we’re out of sorts with. What has Kid’s hackles raised?’ Then, with a start Heyes saw the difficulty. It was a rowdy, still a good ways off, but the man was working up to aim his courage, Kid’s direction.

Flicking his eyes up to his partner, Heyes made a soft chirking sound to garner his attention. He wanted to read what Kid was considering, but he was too late. Kid’s focus had already singled down to the man edging this way.

That was when the man barked, “Hey you!” while tossing his head so that his thick, blonde soaplock swung out of his eyes. And by doing so, he revealed he was still too young, to carry the title of man correctly.

Despite his lack of years to stand on, the boy’s barking challenge cut through the noise of the saloon. The words yanking the heads of every tainted soul in the room to him and silence fell upon the crowd, like frogs circling up to an alkali pool.

Heyes’ dark eyes watched his partner for a clue of how bad the situation was. And, when he saw his cousin, Kid, that he knew and loved, switch over to the hardened gunslinger, Kid Curry; Heyes’ mouth pulled tight, his dimple grooving his face. It happened fast, maybe even as fast as Kid Curry could draw, but the switch had been flipped and his gentle nature was gone before the word ‘you’ had faded away.

“Is you Kid Curry?”

Kid’s eyes travelled across the youth. He was thin, so thin he barely cast a shadow as he stood beneath the gleaming, flickering oil lamps, although, his blonde hair and bright blue eyes shone magnificently in the pale light. Having finished looking him up and down, Kid Curry’s voice purred from him in a soft growl, “What’s it to you?”

The boy licked his lips, “Well… “He licked them again, “I just… just…” Beads of sweat were appearing on his smooth, upper lip and he was breathing in short, huffing pants.

When from the side corner, one of the boy’s pals, hollered, “Come on Billie, bullypuss up and tell ‘em what ya told all of us.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed, he never cared for those who taunted from a safe distance. They were a skunk stripe that often proved themselves a site bit more dangerous than those who would face you. Flicking his chin up and at the boy, Kid Curry snarled, “What have you been saying?”

“They all been sayin’ you were Kid Curry and they think I’m fast enough to take you.” Billie said, taking a visible deep breath. “But, I told them you weren’t. I seen Kid Curry over in Cottonwood Grove and you ain’t really him.” The boy glanced toward his friends and back to Kid, “Hell, you’re too old to be him.”

Heyes snorted, knowing he would pay for it on the trail later. And, not able to hold it back, a choked chuckle rolled out, ‘Boy’s got to be touched in the head. Up, hassling Kid to the point he has ‘em all reared up like a stepped on a rattler. Just to inform ‘em, he is too old to be the real Kid Curry.’

Kid shifted, his boot heels straightening into a more solid version of his gunfighter stance. When he spoke, his tone carried years of experience, “if you know, I am not him… why in Tarnation are you, over here, pestering me?”  

“Cause, once I walked out here and got a look at you, I decided, you might do as well as Curry.”

Kid’s nostrils flared, he knew, everybody in the place was looking them both over, a fact he did not much appreciate. He also knew Billie, was a breath from challenging him. Figuring to spook the boy off, he lowered his voice, his tone so cold the words could almost be seen floating across the room. “Get the hell away from me boy! I’m blamed tired of your foolishness.”

Inwardly, Heyes groaned, weather Kid had meant to, or not his insults still hung hard in the air. With a sigh, Heyes looked, once more, at the three pretty ladies in his poker hand before laying them face down. And, slipping his hand, under the table, he unhitched the safety tie on his holster.

Around the saloon, chuckling snorts answered Kid’s contempt and Billie’s own pals were braying with laughter.

Billie swelled up and through gritted teeth, sneered. “I bet you are tired, old as you is and all.” As he spoke, his voice gained power, ‘not only is you tired, I bet you're scared, too. Scared like them old men who hide behind doors. Bet, you think if you snap and growl at me that I will scurry off and leave you be.”

“Here it is again, another round of big dog, little dog, that will only leave me with more blood on my hands.” Kid thought, his mouth thinning to a hard line. “All creation, this boy…  Billie he can’t be more than maybe sixteen.’ Grinding his molars, Kid held his hard face, ‘damn, he has me a bit spooked though, ain’t for what he’s thinking, but because he’s like looking, years back, in a mirror.’ Considering all this, Kid had not bothered to respond to Billie’s taunt and others about the room turned their eyes to him, expecting, even wanting him to react.

“HA!  Knew you weren’t Kid Curry.” Billie laughed belligerently, “There ain’t a way in hell, he would of stood for being prodded.”

‘This needs to end, ain’t nothing more dangerous than a bum kid itchin’ to prove they are a man.’ Heyes thought, especially if they are longing for a tuff rep.’ Shaking his head, he moved to shove his chair back.

Low enough, only Heyes and the player’s closest heard him, Kid stated, “Stay seated, this ain’t over.” And, casually, he folded his arms across his chest, keeping his blue eyes locked on Billie.

“Fact is old man, I’ve up and decided you ought to just clear out of here.”

This time, Heyes did not snort, another time, he would have loved hearing anyone teasing his cousin about being old; but, not right now and not this snot-nosed kid who was thinking of proving himself.

“You’ve had your say, Billie, even a bit of fun. Now go on back to your pals.”

Billie smiled brashly, becoming braver the longer he stood there.  “No… I ain’t moving, but you are old man, in fact, I want you to leave this saloon, right now.”

“All I’m gonna say is, you need to take yourself back over to your pals, while all your bloods still pumping around inside you.”

Hearing Kid’s ultimatum, it took extreme effort on Heyes’ part to keep his poker face blandly unconcerned. For in truth, his heart was hitting the inside of his chest like discharge cartridges from a Gatling gun. Of all the aftereffects, from their misspent youth, that he regretted most and loathed reliving, were these repeated attempts by various gunslingers, to start his cousin on the road to see their families, without him. And, every single time an occasion arose, it was like he was too late to the starting gate and was not in the race, leaving him with no way to change the outcome, or more importantly protect Kid.

“You thinkin’ you can tell me what to do old man. Do you really deem, me to be some yella dog that will back down when you snarl?” Tossing his hair from his eyes and backing up a step, Billie hunched a bit like he was fixing to make a play for his revolver.

Kid Curry did not shift, not even to unfold his arms. It was a false start; he had seen the maneuver, more times than a man would ever want to remember. Watching the boy intently, he thought, ‘He’ll push it a bit more before he draws. I remember when this building pressure would have my blood boiling for the fight. I don’t feel any of the excitement, I used to.’ A hint of a grin curled the corner of Kid’s lip, ‘Maybe, I am getting old. During those days, Heyes and I were apart, I let my temper rule me and I lived by it and my Colt. Suppose my fast hand was a blessing, it kept me from getting killed. Hell, I am only standing here, because of my fast hand. But, it has turned me into bait to play this game over and over.  And, I am so tired of the big dog, little dog game.’ With this new found realization, Kid growled, hollering, “To hell with this game you’ve started, Billie, take your life and go!”

Billie turned his head slightly, looking at Kid from the slant of his eyes, and then a snarl rose on his face. “YOU obviously ain’t Kid Curry, just some cowhand who wears his rig like he knows the dance. Bet the only dance you know is, when someone is firing at your feet. So, unless you want to start dancin’, then you best be for walking out of here…. Right about NOW!”


horsepoker Hold on tight till next month.

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PostSubject: False Start   Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:04 am

I'm sorry to have had to miss a lot of what has been going on at the Forum recently.  I hope to be able to keep up a bit better.


FALSE START



Emily Doran was the prettiest girl in the school.  Jed Curry, whose class she was in, thought so.

“But I can't get her to even notice me,” he said to his cousin Hannibal Heyes.  He sighed.  The boys were down by the river, fishing.  At least Hannibal was fishing, but Jed, sitting on a log, was gazing moodily at the slow-moving water.

“There's no reason why she shouldn't notice you,” said Hannibal. “You're no worse-looking than anyone else in school.”

“Thanks.”

Jed's very blue eyes looked up at his cousin from under his thick curly blond fringe.

“It shouldn't be too difficult to get her interested in you,” said Han thoughtfully. “But you'll have to do something that she just can't miss.”

“Such as?”

“Well – use your imagination – work something out.   What's happening at school at the minute?”

“Nothing.”

“There must be something.  There is!  It's Sports Day next Friday!”

“So?”

“So you're a good runner.  Actually you're very fast.  If you could win a race with all the school there watching, she couldn't help but notice you.  And  - I've got it!” - His eyes began to sparkle as a Hannibal Heyes plan began to take shape. - “I know what we'll do.  I'll stand by Emily while the race is on and make sure she doesn't miss a thing.  The prize for the kids who win the races is candy.  After you get your prize of candy-”

“ - If I win -”

“After you get your prize of candy, walk over to where I'm standing with Emily and offer me a piece -”

“ - Offer you some of my candy? - ”

“ - Yes, and I'll take a bit.  Then it would seem perfectly natural for you to offer her a piece, and when she's got it, you can just get talking, and there you are!”

“Where?”

“Oh, Jed!  There you are, acquainted with Emily, standing next to her, she's eating your candy, and she's just seen you win the race!  What more do you want?”

His enthusiasm was catching.

“ Do you really think it would work?” asked Jed.

“Sure to!”  No-one could say that the creator of the plan lacked confidence.

***

So Jed entered his name for the biggest race of the day, and, the following Friday, he was at the school's playing field waiting for his event to start, and feeling really nervous.

“For heaven's sake, stop jittering!” said Hannibal, who was standing next to him.

“I can't help it,” said Jed, pale and jumpy.

“Pull yourself together!” snapped Hannibal. But then, seeing Jed's face, he said:  “Don't worry, Jed.  You'll be fine.  You can beat any of those guys. You know you can.  I know you can, anyway.”

A dark-eyed young girl in a white muslin dress, and with a stiff white bow in her dark hair appeared at the gate to the field.

“Look!  There's Emily now!  You go to the starting-post by the others, and I'll go and make sure I'm standing next to Emily when the race starts.

He smiled at his cousin.

“Good luck, Jed.  Not that you'll need it.  You could beat this lot any time.”

“Thanks, Han.”  Jed looked slightly less nervous.  He walked over to the group of boys waiting for the teacher, Miss Humphries, to start the race.

She eventually made her way across to the start.  Fussily, she made sure that each of the  eight boys were standing exactly where she wanted them before she raised her white handkerchief as a starting-flag.

“Ready!” she shouted. “Steady! No!

The “No!” was because of a large brown dog, with a length of string trailing from its collar and a very pink tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth.  It had scampered across the track, right across the path of the runners.  Most of them managed to pull up after this false start.  But not Jed.  He had made an excellent start and ran straight into the dog.  Immediately he sprawled to the ground in a tangle of dog and string.

He lay there for a moment completely winded, and completely humiliated at the thought of making an idiot of himself before the entire watching school, and, more importantly, before Emily.  He was quite sure that Hannibal had Emily watching his every move.

“Joey! Joey!  Come here!  Bad dog!  Bad dog!”

A dark-haired girl in a white muslin dress and with a stiff white bow in her hair had run across the track and was trying to catch the dog, who was now running and barking around the fallen Jed.  Jed pulled himself to his feet.

“Joey!  Come here!”

Joey had no intention of letting himself be caught and ran about the track and the field, barking and waving his long feathery tail.

“Let me get him for you, Emily,” said  Hannibal, who had run across to the track with Emily   “You OK, Jed?”

“Never better,” said Jed moodily, rubbing his ankle which he had bruised in the fall.  There would be no more racing for him today.

“Jed Curry!  Move out of the way!” shouted Miss Humphries, who was now lining up the remaining runners for  a new start.

Jed limped to the side of the track as Han made a lunge for Joey's collar, caught him and hauled him out of the path that the runners were to take.

“Oh, thank you, Hannibal,” said Emily gratefully as Han pulled at the wriggling dog.  “He just dragged his lead out of my hand, and ran away.  I couldn't hold him.”

“Well, we've got him now,” said Han.  He tightened the knot that held the string to Joey's collar, and tied the other end to a nearby tree.  Joey subsided to the ground and put his nose onto his forepaws, looking up into the faces of Hannibal and Emily, with the whites of his eyes very evident.

“Thank you, Hannibal, “ said Emily again.”I'd never have managed without you.  Thank goodness you were standing by me.  Oh! I've just remembered -”

She pulled a striped paper bag out of her pocket.  “ - I've got some candy.  Here, would you like a piece?”

She held out the bag to Hannibal who rather hesitantly took out a piece of candy and put it in his mouth.

“Will you take me down to the river, Hanibal?”  said Emily.  “It's so hot.  I'd love to paddle.”

“OK,” said Hannibal.  Emily really was very pretty indeed.  “Er . . . are you coming, Jed?”

Jed looked at Hannibal smiling at Emily, and Emily smiling at Hannibal.

“No, thanks,” he said.  “I think I'll just go home.”

“Oh, Jed,” said Emily, “I forgot about you.  Would you like a piece of candy too?”

“No, thanks,” said Jed.

He watched Hannibal and Emily heading down towards the river, with Joey on his string lead walking quietly beside them.

“A Hannibal Heyes plan,” he said bitterly.  “Can't go wrong.  Huh!”


Last edited by Alias Alice on Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:37 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: False Start   Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:32 am

False Start - from 'Devine Depression'

I read an article about a Wyoming Water Witch called Bert.....


“Give it up Heyes”

Curry purses his lips pushing away from the side of the barn. He takes another look at the falling sun, then back to his prancing partner and shakes his head.  Whatever Heyes has cooked up with the ranch owner, whilst he’d split logs, it mostly seemed to consist of a lot of walking and sighing, wasn’t working, and was real boring to watch.

“Just give it up Heyes …it’s never going to work. Whatever it is you thought you was doin’.”

Heyes has his eyes closed, he refuses to acknowledge that the Kid is even speaking.  

‘The book he’d read back in town, whilst laying low, waiting on that stage, said all he had to do was just hold these damned rods and walk in a straight line.  Well that’s what he’s doing; it’s what he’d been doing ever since noon, how hard could it be to hold two rods and walk in a straight line?  He was a near genius after all!  Closest thing here abouts, anyways.’  

Heyes’ newly-rediscovered, if fragile, self-confidence is in peril of shattering.  He pushes his eyes shut tighter.

‘What else did that book say? Two copper rods, straight line …Clear the mind of all thought.  Ahhh! …that’s a might trickier, especially for a near genius.’

Heyes lets out a long sigh and drops his aching arms. He’s been holding them rigid in front of himself, tramping up and down this field behind the ranch house    …thinking     …how this had better work out, or they were both going to be in for a very long walk across a dry dessert.

‘That was enough to keep anyone’s mind occupied, accept…’

“Come here Kid, I want to ask you a question.”

Curry makes an ‘alright’ face and strides languidly over to his exasperating partner.  At least the genius had caught an interest in something at last …whatever it was? And seemed a lot more animated than of late...

“What?”

“When you’re in a gun fight, just before you have to make the fast draw…”

“Yeah?”

“What goes through your mind?”

Heyes’ eyes are riveted on the blond gunslinger’s face, his interest wrapped.  Kid was gonna make a light quip, but can see the earnest in Heyes’ eyes.  He looks a little confused at first but then applys himself to the question.  He takes up the gunnie stance, his right hand hovering over the butt of the colt, while he considers the question.  His eyes move fractionally in thought, then open wider in enlightenment.  He nods to himself.

“Well?  What are you thinking about just before you fast draw on someone?” encourages Heyes eagerly, seeing his younger cousin has an answer.

“Nothin’.” Says Kid. “Absolutely nothin’. I shut everything out.  It’s all about me, him and the guns.”

“That’s it! That’s it! That’s what I been missin’. It ain’t me that’s a water witch, Kid …Its you!”

“A witch …What!?!” Kid looks really insulted. “You gonna find out real soon what you’re thinking when I fast draw, ‘less you take that back.”

Heyes laughs the threat off lightly.

“It’s a thing …errrm …a person …Do you remember our daddies callin’ in old Bert …the water witch …he was kinda wild and scary looking …when they needed a new well dug, in the far fields?”

“He was a witch!?! …He gave me the creeps …My brothers said he used small boy’s bones in death potions, and I believed them!  I hid.”

“Well I didn’t …and I watched him real close …he definitely called it witching …and I think you got a real talent for it.”

“Based on what exactly?”

“Years and years of practice …at not thinkin’!” Heyes proclaimed triumphantly.  “Kid, you’re practically an expert!”

“Hey! …I don’t claim to be no genius or nothin’…but I do my share o’ thinkin’ …”  Kid sets his jaw, daring Heyes to make a quip at that.

“But not when you’re in a gun fight …right? …And who do we know, been in more gun fights than soft beds? …Come on Kid …you’re like some sort of …master of not thinkin’ …That’s a real talent! …This could be as useful to us as your fast draw!”

Heyes is obviously genuinely thrilled about something.  

Kid is confused, but a bit proud too, that his genius cousin thinks he may have a really useful talent, if only he can figure out what it is. “You think?” he manages.

“I do, I do!” Nods Heyes. “Now all we gotta figure out, is how to harness your talent and get it working for us.”

“Ok!” beams Kid, this sounds like Heyes has come up with a plan to get them out of the hole they’re in. “What do you want me to do?”

“Ok. You gotta take one of these rods in each hand, loosely, like this see.  Then you got to focus on that fencepost over there …and imagine it’s some no good punk …that’s just called you out.  All you got to do is, stop your thinking, and walk towards it.”

“What do I do with these?” asks Kid waving the rods.

“Well …that’s where I come in.  While you’re walking and not thinking, I’m watchin’ …and thinkin’ for both of us.” Heyes’ eyes are wide in revelation “It’s what I do best after all!” He has a huge dimpled beam on his face. “Go on, go on, …and remember, stop thinkin’.”

Kid regards the fence post across the field     …thinking.      His eyebrows are giving him away.

Heyes can see Kid thinking, just by looking at his face. He swallows the remark that has sprung to his silver tongue.  He closes his eyes, head shaking.

“Who do you think it is, Heyes?”

“I don’t know!” Heyes has been at this a long time already.  He looks at the rapidly sinking sun and reigns in his temper, covering his mouth with a gloved hand     …thinking.       “It’s that punk that called me out as a cheat in Planesville, last week. Remember him?  Real loud and real ugly.”

“I remember him…” Kid glares at the fence post.  With rods held like pointing pistols, he slowly walks towards his enemy.  I don’t know what the fence post was thinking, seeing the fastest gun in the west stalking across the field towards it.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

---oooOOOooo---

At the far side of the field

“Why did you stop?” asks Heyes, looking at his cousin stood stock still facing the chosen fence post.  

Kid pulled from his pseudo-gunfight, non-thinking trance, looks at Heyes confused for a second.  “Well this is the right range …to shoot from” he explains.

“Hah!” laughs Heyes, looking at Kid like he’s never seen him before much to Kid’s annoyance.  “No …no you did that really well.  I just never thought about how well you do that before …Kid, you’re remarkable…”

“Do what, Heyes?” Kid is clueless.

Heyes chuckles.  “You really don’t know do you?” He’s smiling, his relief lighting up his face.  “Well I tell you what, why don’t we just walk you over here, and see if you can do it again…”

Heyes grabs Kid by the arm and drags him to the fence way off to their left.  He points at another fence post and sets the gunslinger off on a perpendicular path to the first.  Again, Heyes catches up as Kid comes to a halt, facing the second quailing post.  

Heyes is shaking his head and looking at his gunslinger partner and younger cousin with new eyes.  “Kid …you’re a real natural …You just might be the answer to all our problems …and we never even suspected.” He laughs heartily.

Kid’s eyebrows are set to maximum confusion.

“Tomorrow Kid …I’ll explain everything tomorrow ...but for now, we’re expected for supper over at the ranch house!”

As the boys walk towards the house in the fading light, Heyes with a proud arm slung across Kids shoulders, a small cairn of stones can be seen piled at the centre of a cross drawn in the dust.

---oooOOOooo---
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 16 - False Start   Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:29 pm

"Cornelia, whatcha doing in front of that portable computer thing?" Kid Curry asked, coming into my office after lightly knocking.

"Oh, just trying to get a challenge story started for the  Ex-Outlaw Appreciation Society's web site," I replied.

"Any luck?" Heyes asked, peeking around the door.

"No, not really Heyes," I sighed.

"Oh c'mon now, your last entry was way back in June, Cornelia, and besides that you are a wonderful writer, even if you favor Heyes here," Curry scoffed.

"Thanks Kid, but so far I have had a bad case of writer's block and have started some thing, got about two paragraphs in and didn't like where it was going, or I didn't like the setting."

"C'mon sweetheart, you have a jem somewhere in that mind of yours, why don't you take a little break from all your false starts and come back to your computer later."

"And what am I supposed to do on this break Heyes, go fishing?" I asked, exasperated.

"No, I was thinking more of eating some ice cream, maybe do some crochetting...by the way the blanket you made me is still part of my bead roll...you know relax a little and clear your mind."

I sighed a littled and beckoned the dark hared ex-outlaw over. Heyes came over and offered his hand to help me up out of the office chair; wasting no time I took his hand. from the other side of the room came gaging sounds.

"Will you two get a room, I cant stand all this lovey dove stuff you two do, besides Heyes and I need to get a move on to deliver the yellow bandanna to Wichita Red for winning August's 'Let the Games Begin' challenge; and I for one don't want Miss Calico to get tiffed if we're late since a certain SOMEONE had to stop off here first...." Curry rambled on.

<>~<>~<>~<>

I did everything Heyes had suggested I do before he and te Kid left to finish delivering the prized Yellow Bandanna to Wichita Red and was still coming up with false starts of all sorts.

Why can't I be one of the gals that can be inspired by every single challenge prompt? Why is it that when I get writer's block when I actually like the challenge theme? I wondered to myself as I sat in front of the blank word pad page on my laptop screen.

Giving up I closed my laptop down for the day, figuring I'd better get some house work done before tomorrow when Heyes came back in the room.

"Please tell me you didn't tell Kid your horse went lame and you had to ride back here," I said.

"We decided to have a little race and I gave Kid a little bit of a head start and just kept lagging back a little til he was out of site, I gave him a false start...so to speak," Heyes replied.

All I could do was laugh.

"Oh, I'll still pay Red a visit, Nelia, but only after you stop having false starts to all your story ideas."

I got up and gave him a hug to thank him for wanting to hang back an d help me write a story for this month's challenge. After an hour of batting ideas back and forth we had a good start on a worthy False Start story.

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PostSubject: Re: Sept 16 - False Start   Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:35 pm

False Starts


“Uh, Heyes?”

“Mm?”

“Um…”

“Huh?”

“I, ah…”

Sigh.  “What, Kid?”

“Oh.  Well, um…uh…”

“Sheesh!”  A shake of the head.  “Stop hemming and hawing and just spit it out, will ya?!”

“D’ya ever think…?”  A pause, as if to gather thoughts.

“Yes, Kid. I do.”  An amused grin.

An irritated look.  “No, I mean…that is…” Big sigh.

“Yeeesssss….?”  Long and drawn out, as if to exaggerate losing what little patience was left.

Said in a rush as if it were just one very long word.  “I know ya don’t like to talk about it, Heyes, but d’ya ever think we’ll get the amnesty after all the false starts we’ve had?”

“Ahh.  Well…hmm…”


===<>==<>==<>===

Author's Note: When I first saw this month's prompt, I immediately thought of the language learning concept of false starts, of which fillers are one type.  As this is just a bit of fluff, there's no need to include it for polling.

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PostSubject: Re: Sept 16 - False Start   Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:06 pm



Hannibal Heyes scowled as he crumbled up the newspaper and threw it in the flames.  “Even Hannibal Heyes can’t get into our safe!” he mumbled.  He paced inside the small leader’s cabin, pausing by a wall to slam it with his fist.

Kid Curry limped into the cabin and raised a brow.  “What’s eatin’ you?”

“I just read the Rocky Mountain News about our blotched robbery.”  Heyes took a bottle down from the shelf and two glasses.  “Want one?” he offered.  “How’s your leg?”

The Kid took the proffered glass and downed the whiskey.  “Told you before my leg is fine.  Just a scratch.  Don’t ask me how my boot is, though.”

“We’ll get you a new pair next time we’re in Denver.”

“When are we headin’ there?”  Curry sat heavily on a chair.

“Soon.”  Heyes sat down next to his partner.  “When will you be able to ride?”

“I can ride when you say.  Why are we goin’ to Denver so soon?”

“Information,” Heyes answered as he stared into the flames.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Kid Curry watched the rain streak down the hotel’s window.  He sighed.

Behind him was a table littered with books and sheets of paper, his partner feverishly writing down formulas.

He took his pocket watch out.  “Heyes… Heyes!”

“Hmmm…”

“Heyes!”

“What?” came a distracted answer.

“It’s five o’clock.  How about a dinner break?” Curry asked hopefully.

“You go ahead.  I’m just got a few more calculations to make.”

“You’ve been makin’ ‘a few more calculations’ for a week.  Besides, you gotta eat.”

“Okay, bring me back a sandwich.”  Heyes opened a book and began reading.

The Kid put on his jacket and hat before leaving the room and slamming the door shut.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Curry finished wiping the outside of his gun and gave it a twirl before holstering it.  He walked over to his partner’s bed and began to remove his gun for the holster.

“What are you doing?” Heyes asked as he continued to write notes.

“Cleaning your gun.”

“You’ve already cleaned it a few times.”

The Kid sat down in a chair.  “So shoot me.  I’m bored.  We’ve been holed up in this room for over a week.”

“I need you to go shopping for me.”  More notes were scribbled on a page.

“Okay,” Curry said a little too enthusiastic.  “Anything to get outta this room for a while.”  He walked over to the table and peered over Heyes’ shoulder.  “What am I gettin’?”

Heyes looked up and smiled.  He handed the list over.

The Kid read over the list.  “Red seal putty…”

“Quick dry putty,” Heyes clarified.

“An alarm clock, fuse, box blasting caps, a funnel, a hose, a Bryant pump…  What’s that?”

“It’s an air pump to create a vacuum.”  Heyes picked up a book and opened it to a bookmarked page.  “This is what it looks like.”

Curry studied the picture.  “Okay, I think I got it.  And ten ounces of nitroglycerin?  Why not dynamite?”

“Because it didn’t work last time.”

“Last time…You’re not thinkin’ of goin’ back to the Merchants bank, are you?”

Heyes stared across the room and then towards the Kid.  “No one says a safe is Heyes proof and gets away with it.”

The Kid shook his head and grinned.  “You never could admit defeat.  Are we callin’ in the boys?”

“No.  No, I think we can try this little experiment alone to see if it works.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


A dark-haired man spread the bars across the window using a spreader while a fair-haired man watched out in case anyone interrupted them.  Once the bars were bent, Heyes reached into his boot and took out a lock pick.  He inserted the thin piece of metal between the window sash and twisted the pick to open the lock.  Easing the window open, he glanced towards his partner, who gave a quick nod.  Heyes hoisted himself up and into the window.  He appeared and carefully took a canvas bag from his partner.  Kid Curry looked around once more before holstering his gun and hoisting himself through the window.

The two men stealthily made their way towards the safe.  Heyes lit a lamp, lowering the wick so there was just enough light to see.

The Kid removed the needed items from the bag, setting them on a desk nearby.

“First the putty,” Heyes informed him.

Taking the container, Curry began filling in the cracks with the putty while Heyes inserted a hose where the safe and door met.  He looked at his watch and noted the time.  

After about ten minutes, Heyes handed the Bryant pump to his partner.  “Sixteen minutes.”

“How do you know it’ll take sixteen minutes?” the Kid asked as he began to pump.

“Kid, there’s a formula for everything.”

“Of course there is.”  

Sixteen minutes went by.  “Okay, that’s enough.”  Heyes got the funnel and inserted it into the hose after Curry removed the pump.  “Next comes the hardest part.”  He handed the funnel to his partner and cautiously lifted the small bottle of nitro.  “Don’t move.”  Heyes poured the clear liquid into the funnel as the Kid silently watched.

“Ready?” Heyes asked as he put the bottle on top of the safe.

The Kid nodded.

Heyes turned the funnel’s lever and the nitro disappeared.  “So far so good.  Get me the blasting cap and fuse.”

Curry breathed a sigh of relief and got the cap and fuse from the desk.  “Here you go.”

Heyes carefully removed the hose and puttied the blasting cap and fuse end into place.  “Let’s go.”

The men walked away from the safe and knelt on the other side of the counter.

“Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be!”

Heyes lit the fuse.  Both outlaws covered their ears.

A minute later, the door of the 1878 Pierce and Hamilton safe blasted open.

“Heyes, you’re a genius!”  Curry slapped the back of his partner.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Oscar Carrington II unlocked his bank the next morning.  He opened the door to let his employees in and saw the opened safe.  “What the…!?!  Who…!?!”

The employees gasped as they entered and walked towards the empty safe.  The head teller picked up a folded piece of paper.  “There’s a note, sir, addressed to you.”

Carrington grabbed the piece of paper from the man’s hand.  “A note?”  He adjusted his glasses to read.


To Mr. Oscar Carrington II
President & Owner of the Denver Merchant Bank

Mr. Carrington:

As the top security expert on safes in my field,
I felt it was my duty to do further testing of
your security measures. As you can plainly see,
they have failed my last test miserably.
You can now tell your customers that their
money is no longer safe in your safe.
Hannibal Heyes CAN do it when nobody else can!

Hannibal Heyes

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PostSubject: Memoirs of a False Start   Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:23 pm

This is my first attempt at writing any fic, so I hope this is okay.  It's also my first attempt to post here, so forgive me if I'm doing something wrong.  It's really short, but hopefully will give you a giggle.

Tracy (tcalleen)

Memoirs of a False Start

“Whatcha doing, Han?”

Eight-year-old Jed Curry drug the bottom end of his fishing pole behind him, making a neat groove in the dirt to where Hannibal Heyes was sitting hunched over a piece of paper resting on his knee.  Jed plopped down in the dirt next to Han and leaned over his shoulder trying to get a gander at the writing.

“I’m writing my memoirs,” Han replied.  He scrunched his face in concentration as he scratched the pencil across the scrap of paper clutched in his hand.

“Your what?” Jed frowned as Han pulled the paper out of his sight.  Han cupped his hand around what he had written to prevent the younger boy from reading.

“My memoirs – my memories of my life so far.”  Han’s face scrunched in concentration again, and he put the end of the pencil to his mouth.

Jed watched Han a minute then scratched his head. “Dontcha have to have some first?” Jed asked thoughtfully.

“Some what?”

“Some life!”

Han frowned at Jed seriously.

“I’m 10, Jed – I’ve had plenty of life!  You just don’t understand, since you’re only 8.  When you’re grown like me, you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Besides, I’m gonna have so many grand adventures that I gotta get the stuff I’ve already done down on paper.  I don’t wanna forget anything!”

Jed thought about that for a few minutes, pushing his finger around in the dirt.  He looked back up at Han puzzled.

“You ain’t gonna get very far – you only got one piece of paper, and that’s already got stuff on it.”

Han looked down, embarrassed.

“Well, Ma agreed with you; she said I couldnta lived more than one piece. She told me to use my slate, but I explained to her that it weren’t near permanent enough for my memoirs, so she let me have an old letter.  I’m gonna write real small.”

“So whatcha got so far?”  Jed tried again to peer around Han’s shoulder.

“I was born . . .”

“That’s all?  Isn’t it kinda obvious you was born?  Don’t everybody gotta start out being born?” Jed laughed.

“Well, I gotta start somewhere!  Where’s better than the beginning?  I cain’t start in the middle; I ain’t got there yet!”  Han waved his hands clutching the paper and pencil in exasperation at his younger cousin.

Jed nodded at the sense in Han’s statement.  He pushed more dirt around with his fingers while he thought.

“You gonna put me in?  I was there for lots of your adventures!”

“Well, yeah, you’ll be in it, but remember this is my memoirs – it’s gotta show my genius.”  Han thumped his chest proudly.  He went back to staring at the blank page in front of him.  After a few minutes, he frowned at it.  He stared off into space for a while then went back to staring at the paper.

Jed watched Han as the progression of staring into space then back at the paper continued . . . repeatedly.  Finally Jed asked, “Whatsa matter, Han?”

Han looked abashed as he stared at the paper.  He mumbled something Jed couldn’t understand.

“Huh?” Jed asked quizzically.

“I cain’t think of what to put,” Han finally grumbled loud enough for Jed to hear.  “I got whatcha call ‘writer’s block’.”

Jed thought on that for a moment then put a hand of comfort on Han’s shoulder.  “It’s okay, Han, maybe that just means that you haven’t had enough ‘grand adventures’ yet.  Let’s go have one now!  I got my fishing pole right here!” Jed nodded sensibly.

Han thought on that some.  “Your right, Jed.  That sounds like a fine plan – I would have gotten around to thinking of it sooner or later!  In fact, I got an idea of how we can catch more fish than with a fishing pole.  All we gotta do is find some firecrackers . . .”

Han took to his feet and started toward the creek.

“Hold up, Han!” Jed shouted after him as he scrambled to catch up, “Where are you gonna get the firecrackers?”
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PostSubject: Re: Sept 16 - False Start   Fri Sep 30, 2016 4:58 pm



A youthful preacher stood in front of a small gathering, a very small gathering mind you, not more than a dozen folks, if that many. He held a few papers in his right hand while with his left he nervously tugged at his clerical collar.

He cleared his throat for attention. The little group faced him expectantly, some of the men shifting impatiently from foot to foot.

Georgette Sinclair dabbed gently at her eyes with a silk handkerchief. Beside her, Clementine Hale, looked at her with disdain. Moving away from this display of tears she bumped into Kid Curry. She brushed his arm, muttered ‘sorry,’ and, facing the preacher, pulled her own hanky from her sleeve and sniffed into it.

“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of,” the preacher began.

“Oh no.” His little wife, alongside him, mewed softly. She looked at him and shook her head.

Georgette and Clementine looked at the preacher sharply.

“No. No. That’s not right. My apologies. I’m new to this you see.” He raised the papers. “I’ll get it right. One moment. My dear, could you find…yes…wait…here…take these.”

The preacher and his wife fumbled for a  few moments, passing a bible back and forth, searching through papers she held. “No. No. Yes. These are the ones.”

He faced his small congregation. “I’m sorry about that. I have a wedding later today.” He grinned, and then, as if he realized the broad smile was inappropriate to one in his position, and in the current setting, allowed it to fade . “Like I said I’m new to this. Must have got the two ceremonies mixed up. Though they’re hardly alike, are they? Let me just get these papers in order.” He dropped one and his wife, looking a full nine months pregnant, bent awkwardly to retrieve it.

“Now let me just…”

The Kid rolled his eyes, Clem fidgeted and Heyes, right side of Georgette, coughed into his hand to cover what threatened to be a laugh. Georgette hemmed quietly to herself.

The preacher handed the papers to his wife to put into order. He figured he had to improvise to cover the silence.

“My wife and I are hoping for a large family. We’ve only been married a couple of years; got engaged while I was attending the seminary and married on graduation. Didn’t have a position, but we knew the lord would provide.”

“Reverend, if you don’t mind,” Heyes said.

“To be quick, then, about it. We thought about a year ago we had started that family, but no, it hadn’t happened yet.” He grinned again.

His wife blushed and the small gathering stared uncomprehendingly.

“You’ve certainly made up for lost time now,” Georgette said in a sweet, acid voice.

He snatched the papers from his wife.

“I mean it is like today. We didn’t start off just right, but we’ll make up for it now, and it will all be even better for the delay.”

“My dear,” his wife said softly, “this is a funeral.”

"Well, yes. I, perhaps that isn't the appropriate analogy." He cleared his throat and began again.

“The man we have gathered to honor the memory of, Silky O’Sullivan,” at this, the preacher waved his paper-filled hand at the closed casket inside the open grave, “was much-beloved, as we can see by this turnout of his family and close friends.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a glance and shrugged.

The preacher opened his mouth as a horse neighed. The little group laughed.

“Let us continue. Man, born of woman…” Now, all the horses became restive, snorting and neighing.

“What’s going on?” someone called out.

The horses were plainly agitated.

“Those horses are going to run off with the buggies if we don’t do something,” Heyes said. He and Curry trotted towards the horses. A lady screamed, “A snake! A snake!” She fainted.

Confusion ruled. Clementine and the preacher’s wife helped the woman. A man yelled out that it was a rattlesnake and no one should move, and then he froze, stiff as petrified wood.

“Where’s the snake,” Heyes asked the man loudly. The man didn’t respond. He looked at Heyes, terror in his eyes. “Look, You don’t have to move, all you have to do is tell me.”

“It’s over here,” the Kid said shooting it as he spoke.

At the sound of the gunshot the preacher dropped his papers, and the woman being revived by Clem and the preacher’s wife fainted a second time. Clem waved her smelling salts again under the lady’s nose, possibly a bit longer, and a bit closer, than needed.

“You don’t have to keep doing that. You’ll burn my nose.” She pushed Clem away. She looked at the frozen man. “Ronald. Ronald! Help me up.”

Order slightly restored, and amid low murmuring, the preacher shuffled his papers and began once again. “We are gathered to honor the memory of…”

“You’ve said that,” a man pointed out.

“Yes, I know, but with all of this I thought it best to start anew.”

Clem and the boys returned to Georgette.

“You could have helped out a bit,” Clem said to Georgette.

“You are so capable. I could see you didn’t need any small assistance I could offer.”

“Please, shall we continue?”

“Continue? I thought you just said we had to start over,” Curry pointed out.

“We are gathered here to honor Silky O…”

“Is the funeral over?” A man rode up, dismounted and tied up his horse to a closed coach beside the buggies.

“Nope,” responded the Kid tersely.

“You haven’t missed anything,” Heyes said, smiling. “We’re just getting started.”

“Silky O’Sullivan was a pillar of this community.”

“Ma, I’m hungry.” A little boy holding his mother’s hand pleaded at her with the kind of big eyes you find on the children in Calico’s stories.

“Henry, ssh, it’s a funeral. A man is being put to rest. We’re here to honor him like the reverend says.”

“But, I’m hungry!” And here the little boy did something the children in Calico’s stories never do. He bit his mother’s hand.

“Henry!”

“I’m hungry!!!! The boy was screaming now.

“Perhaps, ma’am, you should take your son…” the preacher pleaded with eyes even larger and sadder than the eyes of story children.

The woman obliged walking away with her son in tow. She was a little put out as she enjoyed funerals, but consoled herself by the thought that she didn’t know the deceased personally.

“Silky O’Sullivan was a pillar of this community.”

“No he wasn’t!” The fainting lady had recovered. “He lived in San Francisco. Why he had to come to a place like Skunk Valley to die is beyond me.”

The preacher sighed very slightly.

“Silky O’ Sullivan was a pillar of the community of San Francisco.”

“That’s better.”

Having pleased the woman the preacher attempted to continue.

“He was known for his charitable acts of kindness.”

The little gathering had lost all semblance of the sort of dignity one hopes to find at a funeral. They laughed.

The preacher, now bewildered, soldiered on. “He was a charitable man, well-known for his good works and his strong faith.”

“What!” Apparently, Kid Curry could hold back no longer.

“Now Thaddeus, he was charitable in his own way. He helped us out.”

“Only because we helped him first.”

“Now, is that anything to say about an old friend? And at his funeral, too.”

“I’m just sayin’ the truth. I ain’t sayin’ I didn’t like him, but I just wouldn’t call him charitable like he was some kind of a saint.”

“Well, I guess I can see your point. But Silky did help us out, even if he was under some sort of duress.”

“Dur—what?”

“Duress,” Clem hissed. “Like he was forced to help you two out.” She smiled sweetly at the Kid and continued, “You know, the way you two force your other friends to help you out.”

“That ain’t true. If anything you force us to help you out.”

“Well, I never.”

“He’s right Clem.” Heyes neared Clem and spoke into her ear so only she would hear. “A certain photograph and a little blackmail.” He turned and said loudly to the preacher, “Nothing important. Personal. Just a little family business. Why don’t you continue?”

The latecomer spoke up. “I wasn’t aware Silky was a man of faith. Anyone else ever hear that?”

Everyone began to talk now, everyone except the preacher and his wife. A general discussion took place on the merits of Silky’s faith or lack of it with the exception of Heyes and Clem who retreated to the shade of a nearby tree to discuss the photograph, one considering the possibility of a transfer of its ownership and the future possibility of it meeting with a lit match, and the other considering the possibility of some assistance from her friends in a little matter of no concern to us now.

Georgette approached the preacher. “I think you’re doing just fine.” He looked at her gratefully. “You’ve got a lovely voice and I just know you have a big future ahead of you in your chosen field.” She lay one hand on his arm.

“Do you really think so?”

“Oh yes, I think you will make a wonderful preacher.”

“I really haven’t had the opportunity yet.” Georgette’s voice mesmerized him. “But I was told at the seminary I was an inspiring speaker. I hope someday to preach in a large city like, like, well like San Francisco and maybe even have my sermons in print.”

“I am so certain that will happen.”

The preacher’s wife interrupted. Taking her husband’s arm away from Georgette and placing it securely through her own she said, “I think being the preacher of Skunk Valley is good enough for both of us.”

The preacher blushed with shame.

His wife continued. “And, I think the best thing the preacher of Skunk Valley can do right now is finish this funeral service.”

“You are absolutely right,” said Georgette. She faced the “audience,” and sang out, “Everybody, quiet down, we are going to complete this funeral.”

The group became silent. They turned to the preacher.

“Ah, well. Ah…ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Amen.”

The response was resounding. AMEN.

Heyes picked up a clod of dirt and threw it on the casket.


??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


“What kind of a send off do you people call this? Not even a stray dog would be caught dead being buried like this!”

“SILKY!!!!!!” Heyes and Curry shouted at once to the older man who was exiting the coach. They patted him happily on his shoulders.

“Get off! Get off of me you two.”

“But Silky, you’re alive,” said the Kid.

“I know that.”

“But what was all this?” asked Clem waving at the scene around them.

“Wanted to see who my real friends were. Now I know, and it ain’t many.”

“But Silky, we’re here.”

“Oh that’s wonderful a couple of want…”

The others gathered around the old grifter.

“Silky, your true friends did show up,” Georgette pulled Clem close to her. Clem made a face and then looked at Silky all innocence. “That’s right Silky, we love you.”

“Love me! Love me! You two didn’t even cry properly for me!”

“Silky, you went to all this trouble to find out who your friends were?” Heyes couldn’t keep from smiling which only irritated Silky more.

“Why not? I figure I’ve got a right to know now while I’m alive and able to know. If I wait I might never know.”

“Mister O’Sullivan, the good book tells us…”

“Oh shut up. Some preacher you are. You didn’t even give me a proper eulogy like I paid for. This was the worst funeral I’ve ever been to and at my age I’ve been to a lot.”

Silky stormed off to the coach and the funeral attendees stared as it drove away.

“Well, I have to disagree with Silky. I happen to think this has been the best funeral I’ve ever been to.”

“How can you say that Hey--I mean-- Joshua?”

“It’s the first funeral I’ve ever seen that started off badly and ended up happily.”

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