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 April 17 - A Formula for Everything...

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Calico

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PostSubject: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:22 am

Hello one and all!!

I am deep in spreadsheets as fiscal year end descends... [Not sure if our sisters across the pond also start a fresh budget year on Monday - but I bet a few other Brits are currently totting up,]

So ... in a true Heyesian spirit, put on your calculating heads and consider that there is always:

"A Formula for Everything"

coffee

Let the figuring (possibly also triggering and jig-gering) commence...
























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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:13 pm

A Formula for Everything
By Maz McCoy


“Hmm.”
Kid Curry looked up from the gun he was cleaning and cast a glance across the hotel room.
His partner, Hannibal Heyes, clad only in his long-johns and Henley, sat crossed legged on the double bed staring at a notepad he rested on his left knee. In his right hand he held a pencil with which he now crossed out something on the pad. A brow furrowed above brown eyes. “Hmm,” Heyes repeated.
Kid smiled and returned his attention to the parts of the Colt he had laid out before him on the table along with a cleaning cloth and gun-oil. Using the cloth he attended to the chamber.
“Hmm.”
“Somethin’ troubling ya?” Kid asked without looking up from the Colt.
“I’m not sure,” came the reply followed by the sound of a pencil scribbling on paper.
Kid applied some oil to the cloth and continued his work.
“Nope, nope, nope.” A pencil scratched something out.
Kid shook his head and smiled but said nothing.
A heavy sigh issued from the direction of the bed. A pillow was pummelled into submission. The bedsprings creaked and Heyes settled himself back against the pillow, legs stretched out in front of him and continued to write. “Three plus two more here…no we’d need less if…but then we could use…” Scribble scratch. Tap, tap, tap. The pencil made repeated contact with the paper. “Hmm.”
Slowly the Colt was reassembled. Kid gently squeezed and released the trigger.
Another heavy sigh emanated from his friend.
Placing his gun carefully on the table Kid turned to face the bed. “All right, Heyes what is it?”
The dark haired man gave his friend a puzzled look. “Huh?”
“You’ve been huffin’ and puffin’ over there like an ol’ steam train. What’s wrong?”
Pleased to have an audience, Heyes sat up straight. “You know how I told you there was always a formula for everything?”
“You may have mentioned it a time or two.”
“Well, I hate to admit this but I could be wrong.”
Kid raised an eyebrow. “You?”
“Yes.”
Kid smiled. “Guess you are human after all.”
“That’s not funny and this is serious.” Heyes moved to the edge of the bed and held up the notepad. “I’ve been trying to figure out how we can stop the train between Obsidian Falls and the Fowler Bridge.”
“And?”
“We can’t.”
“We can’t?”
“Nope. Not with the men we’ve got.” Heyes turned the pages of the notepad to reveal a crudely drawn map. Kid leaned forward to get a better view. “We need two on look-out, here and here.” Heyes tapped the map twice. “Three to place the tree across the line, here.” The map was tapped again. “Which means the train will have to be diverted here.” Tap. “You can board the train here.” Tap. “I’m waiting with the rest of the gang here.” Double tap. “You deal with the engineer, we board the box car, I open the safe, then we need two more men to cover our escape, here.” Tap. “Which means...” Heyes looked at his friend. “We need more men.”
“I board the train?”
“Yeah.” Heyes shook his head. “Kyle said he has a friend who might join us but knowing Kyle…”
“I board the train?” Kid repeated.
“Yeah. Do you know anyone who could...?”
“What do you mean I board the train?” Kid asked, incredulous. He leaned over the map and tapped it hard. “Here!” He read what Heyes had written. “Narrow gulch?” He met his friend’s gaze. “Just how narrow is it? And why the heck am I boardin’ the train on my own?”
“What’s the matter?” Heyes asked, surprised by his friend’s sudden hostility.
“What’s the matter? You want me to board the train, on my own, in a narrow gulch!”
“That’s the plan, yes.”
“Since when?”
“Since I worked out we don’t have enough men to carry out my original plan. You’re going to have to deal with the engineer if the tree doesn’t cause him to divert the train.”
“And exactly how am I going to board the train in a narrow gulch? And before you answer that, Heyes, remember my gun is freshly cleaned and after you had me leap on a train roof that one time I made you a promise about what I’d do if you ever suggested it again.”
Brown eyes held blue ones. Blue ones did not blink.
After what seemed like at least 10 seconds Heyes picked up his pencil, looked down at his writing and crossed something out. He looked back at his now satisfied friend, “It’s like I said, Kid, it seems there isn’t a formula for everything after all.”

_________________
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:31 pm



“Sister, Sister Patricia!  I have it!  I figured it out!”  The young man swept his dark hair out of his face, as he looked up from the page covered in calculations.  “I’ve figured the area under the curve!”

Sister Patricia looked up from the math tests she was grading and smiled fondly at Hannibal.  Looking back down at the papers through which she was struggling, she wished more of her students had the aptitude or even interest in mathematics that he showed. She walked over to where Hannibal was sitting.

“I’ll compare it to what Professor Michaels sent from Kansas State.”  She smiled.  “I never was very good at integrals.”

“Sister, this should complete the math problems he wanted.  I’ve also finished the chemistry experiments.  Too bad Mr. Peters wouldn’t let me have dynamite or nitro for trying out those problems!”

“I should think not, Hannibal.”  Sister Patricia sighed.  This young man had been a handful even as a youngster.  Now that he was growing into a young man, he needed to leave sisters’ orphanage here at Valparaiso, and make his way at the university in Kansas.  She wasn’t certain they would know what to do with him otherwise.  Luckily Mr. Johnson at the bank was willing to donate the funds needed to send him.  All the sisters’ money was needed for feeding and clothing the ever increasing number of orphans resulting from the recent war between the states, and the border wars before that.  They did their best, but every penny was sorely needed.

Hannibal was straightening up his papers, putting the necessary ones into the binder that was to go back to Manhattan, Kansas with his college admission forms.  Sister Patricia noticed a young man waiting quietly in the hall, hoping not to be noticed.  Having already graded his math exam, Sister was not surprised.  She thought, not for the first time, how the two cousins were like night and day.  Hannibal, with his deep eyes and thick hair was as dark as Jedediah was light, with his sky-blue eyes and hair blonder than the wheat in the field.  While Hannibal often was found in the school rooms after classes were finished, trying to figure out some new math problem or perusing a new book, Jedediah couldn’t wait to get out of the classroom and work with Mr. Peters on the school maintenance, or going on hunting trips to supplement the school’s food supply.

Yet there was an undeniable connection between the cousins.  They were the only family each other had still alive, so it was not surprising, but sometimes uncanny, how close they were.  Sister knew Hannibal had not told Jedediah when he would be finished with his homework.  Yet there in the hall Jedediah was waiting.

“I’ll take this down to Sister Madeleva, so it will stay…be ready for mailing next week.”  Hannibal smiled warmly at Sister Patricia.  She knew that even though Hannibal was one of the older boys here at the orphanage, he was still teased about enjoying his schooling.  Hannibal looked out into the hall cautiously.  A small sigh of relief escaped him, when he noticed that his cousin was waiting for him.  

“Good afternoon, Sister.”  Han smiled again and hurried to meet up with Jedediah.

“I wasn’t sure you’d be back by now, Jed.  Thanks for coming.”  Heyes fell into step with his cousin as they walked down the hall to the English room.

“Knew you’d need some backup, Han.”

“I told you to call me Joshua.”

“T’ain’t your name.”

“Yes, it is!  Hannibal Joshua Heyes.”

“Well, it ain’t what I’m gonna call you.  Always called you Han.”  Jedediah’s brow creased.  “You can call yourself any fool thing you want when you go off to that highfaluting college, but to me you’ll always be Han.”

“Well, then can you call me just Heyes?  That’s probably what I’ll get called in class.”

“Heyes?”  Jedediah’s blue eyes scrunched a bit.  “Yeah, I guess I can start to call you Heyes.”  His eyes turned wistful.  “I always liked your pa and ma.”

Heyes looked off and cleared his throat.  “Well, I guess that will do.  I just thought Joshua sounded a bit friendlier than Hannibal.”

“Whatcha gonna call me?”

“Jed, what do you mean?”

“Well, if you get a new name, so should I.”

“Heck, Jed, you’re just a kid.  You ain’t…aren’t going to college.”

“Don’t remind me.”  Jed looked a bit angry.  “How am I gonna deal with the Harris brothers without you around?”

Heyes thought for a moment.  “Guess, we’ll just have to get them in a fight before I leave, so they know what they’d be in for if I ever hear that they’re going after you while I’m gone.”

“But, Han…Heyes, won’t that get you in trouble?  Sister Madeleva said you had to behave until you left, so no one can say you don’t deserve to go.”

“You think I’m stupid or something?  We gotta do it somewhere the sisters won’t see.”

“Wouldn’t it just be easier for me to come along?  I could get a job at a livery or something.”

“Now think on that, Jed.  Where would you live?  Where would you be safe?  I’ll have to be on the college campus in the dorms, and couldn’t come running every time you needed me.”  He shook his head, determined.  “No, you’ll be safer here with the sisters.”

“You two still hiding behind the sisters’ skirts?”  A sneering voice came up behind them.

Heyes glanced sideways at his cousin.  As they turned in unison to face the threat, he plastered a big smile on his face, as Jed’s eyes and face became hard.

All three of the Harris brothers stood in the hall behind.  Herm was almost Hannibal’s age, Vince was Jedediah’s, and Sal was in-between.  They were stockier than the Kansas cousins. Their punches were the bane of many of the younger boys at the orphanage.  The sisters had tried to reform them, but had not had much success. The cousins had started some of the fights to protect some of the younger boys from being picked on by the brothers.  The Harris brothers started fights just to fight.

“Nah,” Heyes said nonchalantly.  “We was goin’ out to do some shootin’ with Mr. Peters.”  His eyes were as hard as flint, staring down the Harris boys.  He knew word had gotten around the school that the groundskeeper had been giving Jedediah shooting lessons, and that Jedediah was getting very good.  Heyes continued to stare and Jed folded his arms and took a strong stance beside his cousin, blue eyes flinty.

Herm Harris started to look uncomfortable, but then squared his shoulders.  “Ain’t got no guns here.  Let’s see what you can do without them.”

Hannibal and Jedediah just continued to stand firm.  They were known as hardscrabble fighters, with loyalty to each other that did not end.  They had proven themselves in many fights, but avoided many more lately, just based on that reputation.  Hannibal knew this was a fight that they would sooner or later not be able to avoid.  He was hoping though that today, in the school’s main hall, would not be the time and place.

He saw Vince start to move, but then heard a firm, but blessed voice from behind him.

“Why are you gentlemen all here in the hall?  You know it is almost time for dinner, so you should be down in the dining hall, helping with the preparations.”  Sister Madeleva’s voice rapped out.  She stared at the Harris brothers until they lowered their eyes.

“Yes, Sister.”  They shuffled off, but not without a glaring look back at Han and Jed.

“Mr. Heyes.”

Hannibal turned, with Jedediah along with him, and smiled at Sister Madeleva.  He held out his college folder.  “We were just coming to give this to you.”  He glanced down the hall towards the retreating Harris brothers.  “I didn’t think I should keep it in the dormitory, in case it was misplaced or lost.”

“Oh, Hannibal, you do know you bring this on yourselves sometimes, don’t you?”  Sister Madeleva still looked stern, but resigned.

“Yes, Sister,” Heyes smiled even more brilliantly at her.  “Jedediah and I better get a move on and help with dinner too.”

“Yes, Mr. Heyes, I supposed you should.”

*****

That Saturday, the end of the school year dance was held in the Valparaiso town square. The kids from the town school, as well as from the orphanage were invited.

Jed and Han were having a good time, dancing with every available girl.  Hannibal, with his dark, smoldering looks and soon to be a college student, and Jedediah, with his dreamy blue eyes and wavy blonde curls, were popular dance partners.  The party had been going well, until the Harris brothers noticed that Jed had started dancing with one striking young blonde lady more often than the others.  As the banker’s daughter, Sally Johnson was the most eligible young lady there.  Herm Harris didn’t see why a no account like Jed Curry should be dancing with Sally.  Since Herm had made a trip behind the livery a few times, to where some men had liquor available, he had decided he was going to do something about changing Sally’s preferences.

Jed and Sally had just finished a dance, when Herm came up behind them.  Jed had spun around, pushing Sally away from him, but not fast enough to avoid Herm’s punch to his stomach.  With Herm’s reflexes slowed even further by liquor, Jed had enough time to recover, and land a decisive blow to Herm’s jaw.  He started to go down, but his brothers held him up and shoved him back at Jed, coming along to help out.

Hannibal had noticed Herm start to approach Jed and Sally on the dance floor, but it was too crowded for him to be able to make much headway towards them, before the first blows were exchanged.  He was there however to pull one of the brothers off of Jed and deliver his own blow to Vince’s jaw.

The fight continued until the sheriff and a couple other adults pulled them apart.  By that time Mr. Johnson had arrived on the scene, and was infuriated.  Sally had lost her balance when Jed had shoved her out of the way of the fight, and had fallen.  She had dirt all over her lovely white dress.  The sisters had come running too.

“Who started this fight?”  Mr. Johnson demanded to know.

“They did!”  Herm Johnson pointed towards Han and Jed.

“Now wait a minute,” Hannibal started.

“Do I smell liquor on your breath?”  Mr. Johnson bellowed.

Jed and Han looked startled, but Herm and his brothers just smirked.

“Now, Mr. Johnson, I’m certain we can sort this all out…”  Sister Patricia started.

“You, young man,” Mr. Johnson pointed towards Jedediah.  “Haven’t you been behaving a bit too friendly with my daughter tonight?  Dancing with her too often?”

“Sir,” Jedediah floundered for an answer, but Sally interrupted.

“Daddy, he was a perfect…”

“No perfect gentleman would have monopolized your attention so much without some sort of understanding first.  Which of course never could have happened with one of these boys.”

“What is the matter with our boys?”  Sister Madeleva asked.

“Isn’t this the one you wanted me to send to college?”  Mr. Johnson looked at Heyes sternly.  “He’s brawling in the street?”

“Mr. Johnson,” Sister Patricia said.  “Please be reasonable…”

“Reasonable?”  Mr. Johnson’s face turned red.  “With rogues tossing my daughter in the dirt, and fighting with others at a social function?  I knew nothing good would come of having your school in our town.  Hooligans all of them!”  He glared at Heyes.  “Definitely not college material, definitely not.”

“But sir…”  Heyes tried again.

“Hooligans!  Never should have agreed to any of this!”  He grabbed his daughter’s arm and hurried away from the square.

*****

Hannibal spent the last two weeks of the school year in a seeming daze.  He participated in classes, and passed his final exams with excellent marks, but he barely talked to anyone, even Jed.

The sisters had tried to find some other method of financing Hannibal’s college, but funds that had always been short at the orphanage, had trickled to nonexistent after the fight at the dance.  Mr. Johnson was an important man in town, and he had let his opinion of the school be widely known.  Heyes’ planned summer job at the bank, of course, was not going to happen.  Even the summer jobs that the boys had held in town for the past couple of years were not available.  Mr. Johnson held too many business loans in Valparaiso.

With funds low at the school, they were depending more on the game that they were able to obtain, so Jed had been spending a lot of time with Mr. Peters hunting.  He had just come back from such a trip and into the dorm room he shared with Heyes.  His cousin had papers and books all over his desk.

“Han, you do know school is over for the year, don’tcha?”

“Yes.”  Hannibal consulted a book and scribbled some more.

“So whatcha doin’?”  Jedediah sat down in the chair next to the desk, looking at Hannibal’s papers.  “More math?”  He made a face.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I’m devising a plan.”  Hannibal looked up at his cousin, a roguish grin spread on his face.

“You’re what?”

“Do you think you can get some dynamite from the storage shed, without Mr. Peters knowing?”

“Dynamite?”  Jedediah exclaimed.

“Shhhhhhh!  Not so loud.”  Hannibal said quietly.

“Dynamite?”  Jed asked more quietly, but not less agitatedly

“Yes, dynamite.”  Hannibal stated in a determined voice.

Jedediah stared at his cousin, but then asked, “Why do you want dynamite?”

“To blow the safe, of course, kid.”

“First, I’m not a kid, and second, what safe?”

“The one in the bank, of course.”  Hannibal stared at this cousin like he was a young child still.

Jedediah stared at his cousin like he was crazy, and seriously wondered if he was.

“Han, I think I need to hear the whole plan.”

“Jed, I still think you should start calling me Heyes.  Han just doesn’t sound like a good name for a bank robber.”

“You keep calling me a kid, and I’m gonna call you anything I like.  Now what is this plan?”

“I’m gonna blow the safe in Mr. Johnson’s bank.”

“That’s the whole plan?”

“Well, no.  I have all the calculations here for how much dynamite we’ll need.”

“How do you know that, H…eyes?”

“There’s a formula for everything, kid.”  Jedediah frowned, but Hannibal continued. “We can plan this for next weekend, at the town festival, when they are setting off the fireworks.  We won’t need much to just blow the hinges off that old safe they have in the bank.  I got a good look at it, when I was there, about that summer job.”

“Sure…Heyes.  Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you want to do this?”

“To get back at Johnson for ruining my life.”

“Han, I think that happened back in Kansas…when our folks were killed.”

“No, as…horrible as that was, kid, the sisters here have taken good care of us.  But what am I supposed to do now?  I’m done with high school.  I can’t go to college.  I can’t even get a job here in Valparaiso, because Johnson has told everyone we’re no good, no account orphans.  If we don’t leave, the sisters will never start getting donations again.”

“So you’re gonna rob a bank?” Jedediah couldn’t keep the astonishment out of his voice.

“Yeah.  That way we can have a stake, and leave this town.  Hey, I might even get enough to go to college.”

“Why can’t we stay here at the school?”

“I know you can still. You have more schooling to complete.”

Jed made a face.

“But I’m done.  There’s no place for me here now.”  Heyes looked seriously at his cousin.  “Do you wanna stay?”

“Not if you’re leaving.”

“I saw the lock on the back door of the bank building.  It’s just like the one on the storage room here, that Mr. Peters had me open.  He told me it was always good to know how to open locks, in case you lost the key, like the sisters did with that storage door.”

“I don’t think the sisters will like this, H…eyes.”

“We can’t stay, Jed.  We’re just causing them problems.”

“Who’ll protect the little kids from the Harris brothers?”

“I heard they are gonna ride out west and get a ranch job.”

Jedediah snorted.  “They ain’t gonna like all that hard work.”

“Well, now, that ain’t gonna be our problem, is it, kid?”

“Quit calling me kid.”  Jedediah looked stern.  “Or I’m gonna have to flatten ya.”

“Before supper?”

“Nah, maybe after.”


*****

The first bank robbery committed by Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah (soon to be Kid) Curry went off without a problem.  Maybe it was beginners’ luck; maybe because they were not yet dependent on the questionable skills of others.  The door to the bank was easily opened while everyone was still busy at the town celebration.  The safe was expertly blown, in time to some of the largest fireworks of the night.  The boys took two horses and tack from the livery, but left enough money to cover the cost.

They then quietly road off into the night, into the beginning of the rest of their lives, and into the history of the West.



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

Valparaiso is actually a town in eastern Nebraska, through which I used to drive on my way from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to my home town.  I always thought of it when I heard the line about the school for waywards and knew I had to use it in a story.  

I have another version of this story, framed with scenes from the time period of the series.  I couldn't decide if the story worked best with or without the additional scenes, but the version above is below the 3000 word limit, so I've posted it here.  I've put the longer version in the not for polling section.  I'd appreciate any comments on which works best.
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Cal

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PostSubject: There's a Formula for Everything   Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:57 am

This is quite long, but within limits.  It was hard to edit it down and keep the meaning of the story going... so appologies for that... On the plus side ... it isn't lyrics! Calx

From: The New Teacher scene 3… (2,400 words) April Challenge version

There’s a formula for everything

Heyes stood at the school house window, watching Miss Henderson’s prim retreat, down the cinder path, through the gap in the picket fence and out across of the busy main street.  He unknowingly, held his breath as her path veered towards the front of the Sheriff's office, then he exhaled a long whistling sigh as she nodded a curt greeting to the occupant of the office, and continued to walk on out of view.  

Heyes’ eyes closed in silent prayer, then circled skywards to thank the Guardian Angel that had got him off the street just in time. Sheriff Brent was sitting out on the wooden boardwalk in front of his office, nursing his freshly made coffee and an over-full sandwich. Abe Brent looked older.  He’d held Heyes in a cell for nearly a week, crowing like a rooster, till Kid had figured out a way to rescue him.

Kid and dynamite, wasn’t the most successful combination!

Heyes rolled his eyes again, remembering the huge explosion that had nearly taken the whole building down around his ears.  Well, that was over eight years ago, up in Boulder County.  Old Abe Brent must have decided to make his way to Clearwater for a quieter life.
 
He’d know Heyes on sight.

That was close.

Too close.

Heyes’ mouth was suddenly very dry. He looked about the school room as if he were expecting to find a stove with a simmering coffee pot and tin mugs nearby. What he saw were two dozen wide-eyed juvenile faces, of various maturity, staring back at him with expressions of expectation and wonder.

“Oh…”

Miss Henderson had seemed flustered, almost annoyed, that the new teacher had deigned to turn up as expected, even though a huge banner welcoming said teacher adorned the outside of the school house.  She’d practically accosted Heyes on Main Street as soon as he’d rode into town.  Just as his eyes had come to rest on another sign, nailed above the Sherriff’s office door, with the way too familiar name.

“Are you Smith?” she’d crowed.

“Errr… Yes Ma’am” he’d answered distractedly not even looking at her.

“It’s MISS … MISS HENDERSON … Former teacher of this parish.  The school house is this way Mr Smith.  I do hope you’ve come prepared to take over immediately! I don’t intend to spend my time … Well… it’s this way, if you will.”

She’d barely let him dismount, carefully hiding his face behind his horse’s neck, before she’d turned on her heel and marched straight across the street to the school house.  That was when Heyes had seen both the welcoming banner, for the new teacher Theodore Smith, and the all too familiar figure of Sheriff Abe Brent himself, leave his office to sit out front with his coffee to watch the street.

Heyes had taken in the precarious situation in a heartbeat, and quickly fell in behind the strutting spinster.  He hadn’t meant to lie to her.  Her question had caught him off guard.  His name was Smith, well sort of.  

He’d quickly tied up his horse, pulled his hat low over his eyes, hunched up his shoulders and nearly danced the poor lady up the cinder path and into the school, jabbering all the time how he was real pleased to be there and couldn’t wait to get started.  

His enthusiastic jollity hadn’t go down to well with the rather bruised ego of the school’s former teacher. Newly unemployed, and having to fall back on the charity of family, with no more than a succinct note of thanks and a few months’ notice, Miss Henderson was not a happy woman.  

With the most fleeting of introduction of the new incumbent to the assembled children, she’d turned on her heel, and slammed the door on her way out.  Unlike the children, apparently, she hadn’t noticed that Hannibal Heyes was wearing a tied down six gun under his travelling coat.

As he turned from the window, hands on his hips, all the children’s eyes were fixed on the well-polished, obviously much-used, six gun.  Heyes followed their stares and quickly covered the gun with the flap of his coat. He smiled lamely back at the crowd and watched as confused wrinkles formed in small brows.

“Oh…”

He was meant to be their new teacher, not some friendly cow poke.

He tried on a scowl, cleared his throat and straightened his clothes.  At least he looked presentable.  He was wearing a white shirt and ribbon tie.  He’d had a barber shave and haircut just yesterday. Maybe it was a good thing he’d stayed so late playing poker in that last town, he hadn’t had time to change.  Well the cards were just being so good to him.  It would have been a crime to leave any earlier.

He’d ridden most of the night to make up the time, to make the rendezvous with Kid as planned.  He was supposed to have arrived here last night and he wasn’t expecting Kid till noon today.  He’d planned to get a room and some shut eye before then.  Now here he was playing school teacher.  He cleared his throat again purposefully.

“Hurm … I’m your new teacher … herm… Mr Smith … Urm …”

Heyes looked around the room for props that would prove he was a teacher to the Kids.  He eyed the chalk board in front of the class.  That would do it.  Only teacher’s get to write on chalk boards. It was heavy with dust and had some geometrical shapes with some angles still scratched out on it in white chalk.

“Herm … I’m gonna need a little time to put a plan together… um … yeah… That’s it …I need a plan… so … I’ll be setting you a problem to do… It’s like a puzzle … You’re gonna work it out on your own fer a while … so …  so …I can see how far along y’all are with your math …and such… That’s real important fer teachers… like me... t’know.”

He nodded for emphasis.

He turned to the board and wiped it vigorously, causing a storm of chalk dust to rain down upon him.  He whipped off his black hat, fanning away the dust with it and coughing loudly, dancing away from the dust cloud.

A fit of giggles ran around the room.

This wouldn’t do.  

That wasn’t teacher-ly. Not teacher-ly at all!  

He turned and fixed the room with his gang leaders stare, carefully placing the near white hat on the desk and purposefully picking up the chalk.

The children fell silent instantly.

Heyes smiled at the board.  He felt he was getting the hang of this now.  He sketched a cuboid on the board, adding the internal dimensions of a Pierce and Hamilton 78 from memory. As he lowered the chalk and stood back to admire his draughtsmanship, a small voice piped up from the centre of the class.

“Is that the P & H 78?”

Heyes’ eyes went wide with shock, staring at the skeleton sketch of white lines he’d just drawn on the board. He hadn’t embellished it with the word ‘safe’, or added a P & H crest or dial.  

What was this?  

He swallowed and set his features to what he thought was calm teacher-ly educator. He turned to face the class searching out the owner of the small voice.  

They were silent.  

No clue as to who had spoken.  This lot would make good poker players, he thought.

“This is a cuboid, it has six flat planes… see… Every single angle is a right angle.” he said scouring the room for a reaction.

Nothing.

He turned back to the board.

“It could be ANYTHING this shape … a cupboard … or even this desk here …”

“Or a Pierce and Hamilton safe.  With those dimensions, the '78” said the small voice.

He swung around again quickly to see all the other children focussed on a small, be-spectacled girl, neatly dressed with a yellow ribbon in her dark wavy hair, sitting in the very centre of the class.  Her dark-eyed gaze, magnified in the specs, was intently fixed on the board.
 
She sounded vaguely familiar to the ex-gang leader, and mercifully, sounded much more interested in the problem on the board than of accusing him of anything.

Where had he heard that voice before?

He tried to bring situations to mind when he’d had dealing with kids.  There weren’t that many.  Strangely his mind kept taking him back to his own schooldays.  That wasn’t any help.  

No help at all.

He shook his head to start again. But no matter, he couldn’t grasp what it was that sounded familiar to him. The memory was just too ethereal and distant.

He took a deep breath and resumed the teacher-ly expression. He was in charge.  He was Hannibal Heyes.  He felt she was more a puzzle than a threat.  He could handle a little girl.

“Well …well yes … yes …I guess this cuboid could represent a safe… that’s a possibility … But, it could represent ANYTHING … anything that shaped … that’s kinda the point… so it don’t have to be a safe”

He placed a long tapering fingertip in the centre of his drawing.

“Leastways… a safe is just another kind of a cupboard anyway… Just happens to be a more secure one.”

“Not that secure, if someone has taught you how to listen to the tumblers” counteracted Heyes’ small, overly well-informed tormentor hopefully.

Heyes’ mouth fell open again.  His eyes narrowed, who was this girl? How could she possibly know about tumblers? Small cogs were turning in his head, and starting to fall into place.

The class was getting restless, chattering amongst themselves again. He was losing them.  This was worse than briefing the Devils Hole Gang about the next job.  All he needed was Kyle…

“Outlaws use dynamite to blow up safes” piped up an even younger child from the front row.  “Everyone knows that.”

“Not all outlaws” stated the be-spectacled girl. “Some can open safes by discovering the combination of the lock, just by listening to tumblers in the door, but it takes years of practice. And some use nitro glycerine, instead of dynamite, but they have to create a vacuum inside…”

“That’s enough!” shouted Heyes from the front slamming his hand down on the desk.

All heads whipped around to face him again.

“The point is… I’M YOUR TEACHER …and it’s a cuboid … I’ve given you ALL the information you need.  You don’t need any more INFORMATION… is that clear?”

He fixed the girl with a withering look. She set her mouth in a tight line. He nodded, satisfied that she’d got the message. In a quieter tone, he turned back to the board and addressed the whole class.

“Now… There’s a formula for everything, just like there’s a formula for this cuboid… You got all the dimensions …of all the sides... all I want you to do, is work out what the volume…”

Before the words had finished leaving his lips, the same small voice sang the answer, perfect to two decimal places, in cubic feet and inches.

Heyes’ whole head dropped to his chest defeated.

He scrubbed dusty fingers back through his hair, then rubbed his tired eyes with chalk-covered thumb and forefinger. His eyes instantly stung and watered. He blinked around at his small nemesis through red rimmed, disbelieving eyes.

“How could you possibly…????”

“I read all about it in the American Science Journal. They have a copy in the library” she stated solemnly, with not a trace of impertinence or recrimination. “There was an illustration of the way to create the vacuum, and the formulae for how to make it work.  I remember the answer because I’ve read the article fifteen times.”

“You’ve read… how I … I mean how someone would… and you remembered….”

Heyes sank into the teacher’s chair holding his hand over his mouth less anymore confession should escape his lips.  

He was Hannibal Heyes.
 
He was a renowned outlaw leader.  

He could deal with a room full of outlaws. He could deal with this one little girl. He placed both hands purposefully on the desk in front of him.  He slowly looked around the class making eye contact each child in turn.  They all understood he was talking to them now.

“Has anyone else read … this article …in the library?” he asked quietly.

Thankfully, he was met with a crowd of incredulous shaking heads. A large, tall boy from the back row got to his feet.  

“Don’t worry about Frankie, Mr Smith. She ain’t like a normal kid.  She goes in that lib’ry all the time… ‘n’ reads stuff …just fer the fun of it! No one even has to make her. The rest of us only have to go on Founders Day.”

The other children all nodded agreement. A tall girl stood from her desk in defence of the younger girl.

“You get used to her after a while… She don’t mean nothin’ by it. She knows most everything already anyway… she don’t really need to come to school … but her Pa… He pays fer the school… so he reckons she gotta come … so he gets his money’s worth ...  she don’t mean nothin’ by it … is all … Mr Smith…”

The poor girl was bright red and sinking back to her seat, mortified that her deceitful legs had launched her out of her seat just moments before.

Heyes took all this in with knowing smile and a nod.  

He watched the passive expression of the be-spectacled girl, Frankie, as her piers discussed her reading habits and her family wealth.  She was completely unfazed. And he knew who she was.  A little older maybe, but the steady intelligent gaze and light of curiosity in the eyes was the same.  She hadn’t been fazed then, either, by two notorious outlaws in her daddy’s carriage holding up her daddy’s train.

Got you.

He chewed his satisfaction.

“Do any of you others… need me to make the puzzle… harder… before I let you take a crack at it?” he asked innocently, sitting back in his teacher’s chair.

More vigorous head shaking from the class and picking up of pencils.

“Right … well... get to it then.”

Heyes focused on his small nemesis, feeling properly in control for the first time. She was watching him closely too. What to do with you?

“Frankie is it? Come here kid …”

---oooOOOooo---

If you enjoyed this bit.... This is taken from a longer story that I lost in my computer epic fail back in January... I'm attempting a re-write ....so will post it in my story thread as it comes along.  Calx


Last edited by Cal on Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:03 pm

Heyes narrowed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, honing in on the woman as she flicked a card across the table. He had underestimated her initially, not realizing that she had played the men with her hard, sarcastic way so that she was labeled as a tough broad and not much more. They were happy to let her win at penny-ante poker for the crude humor before drifting away at the end of the night. Heyes, though, had stayed, a bit lonely and identifying with the world-weary role she’d played. The saloon was clean and well-lit, and a bit more whiskey, he thought, and he’d see what happened with the woman. But now here she was, calling him “Hannibal Heyes” very seriously, and flicking a card at him from across the table.

Before he could protest at the name, she too leaned back in her chair and regarded him, and he paused at the sudden intelligence in her eyes. “Yep, Hannibal Heyes. I, of course, was on a train you once robbed. But here’s the deal. I don’t need $10,000. I’m a bored rich girl, and spending the night learning card tricks from a famous, handsome outlaw is just the thing. You get to keep whatever you win from me.” And she plopped down $10,000 to play with.

Yes, he was a bit tantalized by the idea, but he was no circus act. He tipped his hat and walked away.
~~~
The next morning at breakfast, Heyes and Kid were counting their change. Heyes groaned, thinking of the profit he would have made on the $10,000. He hadn’t told Kid, knowing Kid would deck him. They needed the money. And it probably would have been wiser to leave town last night, but then he would have had to make up a reason why since he couldn’t tell about the woman. And he had been half drunk, irritable, and just wanted to go to bed. Oh, pride…. Or maybe it was self-dignity. Yeah, that was it.

The waitress came over with a funny look on her face. She’d asked them if they had wanted seconds, given how Kid had wolfed down the two eggs and toast, but they’d said no, given their short funds. But here she was with two more plates of eggs and more coffee, saying that not only had someone had paid their bill, they had a credit of $20!

Almost immediately, here came that woman, sashaying over to their breakfast table. She grinned at a surprised Kid, who grinned back with raised eyebrows, swallowing another bite of the second round of eggs. She popped her finger under his chin and asked, “So, what did you think about your partner turning down the chance to make some good money last night, Mr. Curry?”

Kid’s grin disappeared as he turned to Heyes.  

She sidled away, saying, “See you at lunch, boys!”

Heyes groaned again at Kid’s stare. “Kid, I…. Kid, she played poker with a bunch of us last night, decent player, but at the end she told me she knew who I was and just wanted me to teach her how to really play. She’s supposedly some rich girl and so doesn’t need the bounty. She thought it would be fun to play with a famous outlaw, and she was willing to put up $10,000 and let me keep what I won off her.”

Kid looked stunned. “And…of course you said yes!”

Heyes rubbed his mouth and then ran his fingers through the hair on his forehead. He leaned back in his chair, just as he had the night before. “Kid, I walked away. I felt manipulated, and that made me mad.”
Kid clarified carefully after a brief few seconds of silence, “So she was going to pay you to play poker, and you said no?” His voice rose, and he stood up.

Heyes snapped, standing up at the table too, “You don’t hire out your gun; I don’t hire out my brains!”
Kid slammed on his hat, finished the last bite of eggs, and said, “Then I’m walking out too! See you at lunch, when you’re going to tell her that you’d love to play poker!”
~~~
But she didn’t show at lunch. It was a quiet affair, both men eating briskly, stiffly, even though the steak was excellent. They returned back to their room, still carefully ignoring each other as they walked through the door and came to a halt. There, on the bed, was a Bryant pump, a small wood box marked “DANGER,” a bar spreader, putty, and other related items. Then they heard the click of a hammer being cocked and a low voice saying, “Boys, raise your hands.” They did, peering back at the man wearing a badge, standing behind the door.

He said, “Boys, I’m arresting you. You’re Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and I’m taking you to jail. You’re clearly planning to rob the First National Bank. Curry, you first, carefully and with your left hand remove your gun and place it on the floor.” He walked them through the process of removing their gun belts and handcuffing each other. Heyes protested the entire time that they were set up, that they weren’t Heyes and Curry, that he didn’t know what the things on the bed were for, that they didn’t belong to them, but the deputy ignored everything he said and calmly kept moving along. Just as they were about to leave, the door opened, and the mysterious woman walked in.

“Deputy! What on earth are you doing with these men?”

He started to tell her about them being Heyes and Curry and that the equipment on the bed was for blowing a safe, but she would hear none of it after the initial identification. “Deputy, you are dead wrong! I know these men; they are Bannermen detectives, and they have this equipment to teach me how Heyes and Curry blew the safe in that bank several years ago. My father, Mr. Harlingen of the railroad, has the same safe, and he wants to protect it from those outlaw devils.  He sent me to meet these detectives because he didn’t want anyone to know he has the same exact safe. It must be kept a secret, and I surely hope these two Bannermen men didn’t tell you anything about this!”

The deputy mumbled, “No ma’am, they didn’t. You’re Miss Harlingen? Can you prove it?”

She scoffed, “Of course I can prove it! Here, look at my papers!” She drew out of her bag several papers which the deputy inspected and handed back.

“Well, ma’am, I do apologize. Boys, I am sorry, and please be careful with the nitro. That’s dangerous stuff, you know.” He took off their handcuffs and walked out.

Heyes and Kid looked at each other and then at the woman. Heyes practically snarled at her, “What is going on?”

The woman sat down in the worn velvet chair, relaxed, and said, “Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry, I need to get into a Pierce and Hamilton ‘78. I know you are the only people who can do it, and I know you use these items. But I don’t know how to use them, so that means that either you do it for me, or you teach me how to do it. So…here’s the deal. You have two days, meals on me, to decide. I tried to get you interested in working with me last night, Mr. Heyes, but you were stubborn. In case you are thinking about leaving, please consider that as Harlingen’s daughter, I can just as easily turn you in to the sheriff as I got you out of trouble. You can keep these supplies while you decide, and I’ll pay you $1000 either way you want to do it. If you decide to teach me, then I’ll tell you the day I plan to blow the safe so you and the Kid can be far away with a full alibi that it wasn’t you. You see, Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry, there’s a formula for everything: how to get a man, how to get what you want, and how to blow a safe. And I know almost all of the formulas. I’ll meet you for dinner in two days, boys. But remember, you can’t run out on me.  The deputy knows you have these materials, and he’ll believe me and form a posse in one hot second.” She turned and walked out.

“Whew….” Kid whistled out a breath as he sat down on the bed, carefully away from the little wood box.    

Heyes eased open the lid, lifted the cotton, and sure enough, there was the little bottle of nitro. He replaced the cotton and lid and gently moved it to the top of the dresser.

“Kid, she’s right. The deputy will believe her. The sheriff will believe her. But I don’t believe her. Harlingen didn’t have a daughter. But it doesn’t matter, because if he arrests us, he’ll keep us locked up until he verifies who we are. It won’t matter that she isn’t who she says she is. And since the pump and nitro are here in our room, the governor will think we’re not trying for the amnesty anymore.”

They looked at each other, Heyes collapsing onto that same side chair. “Either way, she can frame us. We can’t trust her to blow the safe only on that certain day, and the law knows that only one man has ever blown that model of safe, and that’s me. Who knows how many safes she’ll blow once she succeeds with the first one? Kid, we can’t tell teach her the formula. But she’s right. We’re in trouble.”

Kid Curry took out his gun and checked it. [I’m not sure what he was checking, but it seems the thing to do.] He said, “Heyes, she don’t know that we know that she’s not Harlingen’s daughter. What else is she lying about? You know what I think, I think we need to go talk to the sheriff. Something’s fishy. That deputy let us off pretty easily.” He emptied his carpetbag and refilled it with the pump and other items, placing the box with nitro in the middle with a small pillow around it and on top of it. “You coming, Heyes?”

Heyes stared at him.

Kid said, “Heyes, just think about it. Would Heyes and Curry bring nitro and this other stuff to a sheriff? He can verify that she’s not Harlingen’s daughter, and he can verify with Lom that sometimes people accuse his friends Jones and Smith of being Curry and Heyes. So even if she goes to him with her story, we’ve already cleared it up. Can you think of a better idea? It’s even the truth!”

Heyes said, “What, you think you’re the brains now?”

Kid grinned. “Only on the days you don’t hire them out!”
~~~
At the sheriff’s office, everything went as planned. The sheriff verified the identities (or lack thereof), took official possession of the safe-cracking materials, and only questioned their description of his deputy. He said that it was such a small town that he didn’t have any deputies and that the man must have been part of her set-up. He shook their hands and thanked them, locking the office door behind them as they walked out together, him on his way to find the woman and the outlaws on their way out of town, leaving behind the free food and the chance of the woman convincing the sheriff that they were Heyes and Curry after all.

Kid smacked Heyes on the back just before mounting up. “Look over there, Heyes. That preacher on the soap box, what’s his sign say?”

Heyes was closer, so he read, “John 8:32: “The truth shall make you free!” He snorted, “Kid, it did today, but let’s not make a habit of it!”
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PostSubject: Formula for everything   Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 pm

Destiny Cycle #8

Lowering the firearm, Heyes lifted it a second time, extending his arm. The corners of his mouth pulled, his dimple appearing, “How much?”

The fastidiously dressed clerk cast a quizzical glance from Heyes to the grumpy man at his side, before saying, “only twenty.”

A frown creased Curry’s face, “too much, ain’t worth it.”

Heyes grin twisted sideways, “we been over this.”

“Still, stand by what I said.”

“You usually do.” Heyes responded, returning his attention to the clerk, “I’ll take it.”

Curry grunted, striding over to look out the front window.

Heyes peeled bills from his bank roll, laying them on the counter, before pulling his holster from his saddlebag.

Curry came all but stomping back, “Unload your loops, Schofield’s uses Smith and Wesson cartridges.”

The slightest wrinkle appeared along the bridge of Heyes’ nose, “Hey!” he barked at the clerk, “get me a box of .45s for this.” He nodded at the pistol on the counter while shoving rounds from his cartridge belt.

Watching him, Curry noticed a slight flexing of the muscles along Heyes’ jaw and grinned, “Didn’t realize they used different rounds, huh? You could always buy a Colt.”

“Told you, I liked the feel of the Schofield when we were in Fort Worth.”

“Yeah, and I said, you had a perfectly good Colt strapped to your side.”

The grin appeared again, but Curry could read the outright mocking in it easier than the trail of a wounded stag as Heyes bitingly said, “you mean had a perfectly good Colt, ‘till someone up and sold it.”

Placing the box on the counter and sweeping up the pile of coins laying there, the clerk looked from one man to the other, stating, “thank you for your purchase,” and scurried to the far side of the store.

Opening the box, Heyes set to ramming rounds into the cartridge loops. From the corner of his eye, he saw his cousin cross his arms. Snorting, he purposely angled his back to Curry, not wishing to see the look he knew was being laid on him. Strapping his rig on, he dropped five brass into the pistol and snapped it closed, holstering it.

“You would think by now, I would of figured out, why you gotta be so hard headed.”

Walking about his partner, Heyes only reply was a tossed scowl as he swung the door open, leaving Curry behind and stepping into the stunningly, bright morning sun. Hitching his holster up and tugging his hat low, he turned right.

When a shadow stretched out beside him, he knew who it was and picked up his pace toward the livery stable.

“Still, thank that blamed Scholfield is a bad choice.”

“Hey, Kid, way you were growling around back there, you sure had that poor clerk scooting about on egg shells.”

“Not changing the subject. I want you to listen to me.”

Heyes spun, tipping his hat back; he placed his hands on his hips, “Fine! Say your piece.”

Curry’s lips pursed and exhaling, he hitched his thumbs in his holster belt. “Schofields are unreliable, they tend to jam.”

“I seen Colts jam. ‘ Sides I like the feel, the quick-loading, and…” Heyes raised his chin, a smugness coming to his face. “It is my pistol not yours.”

“Still, it is not reliable.”

Rolling his head, Heyes took off walking. “What do I care? I have you and that is all the reliability I need.”

Curry stayed where he was for a heartbeat or two, trying to hold on to his irritation, but a huffing laugh escaped and with a shake of his head, he followed his cousin, “someday, you may not have me there and it might be right when that thing jams, or blows part of your hand off.”

“Someday you won’t be there, at the exact time, my pistol fails.” Heyes chortled darkly, “sure, glad you don’t use them sort of odds figuring in a poker game.” He looked over at his partner, who did not look amused. “I’ll let you pick out the horses.”

Curry shook his head and as he opened his mouth, Heyes cut him off, saying “Drop it! You already know you aren’t getting anywhere.”

“Yeah, I do.” Kid Curry scratched at the side of his face. “Still, surprised by how much you pulled in last night. Kept seeing you raking in those poker pots and I felt like luck was on our side, for once.”

“Keep telling you, it isn’t luck.” Heyes looked over, “there is a formula for everything, and I know the formula for poker.”

“If ‘n that is so, why don’t you use it more often?”

Heyes slid to a stop, leaning toward his partner to hiss, “Cause I’m an outlaw not a hustler.”

“What?”

“The formula includes finding players who are too dumb to realize they are playing out of their depths. Then I befriend ‘em and lead ‘em on out to drown. Makes me feel like a thief when I’m done.”

“But you are a thief.”

A tightness came to Heyes’ face and he swallowed.

“You’re serious.”

Heyes looked down.

“You’re really serious?!”

“I built them men up, making them believe they couldn’t lose, and took it all from them. That is why I never stayed at one game too long. I couldn’t let them catch on to what I was doing.”

Curry shook his head, “long as we been together and I still learn new things about you.”

“Suppose, I’m an enigma.”

“No, you're just my pain in the backside cousin with a large vocabulary.” Knocking Heyes on the shoulder, Curry set to walking again, “and, I am choosing the horses, holding you to that.”

Trotting to catch up, Heyes dropped an arm about his cousin’s shoulders, “I meant, I would let you choose yours not mine.”

“Not what you said.”

“Now, Kid….”

As they trailed past the blacksmith shop teasing one another, a man about forty with a heavy gold watch chain across his vest and a bear claw hanging from it, stepped more into the street. His icy eyes watched them all the way by, a smile coming to his face that pulled the scar on his chin tight as he muttered, “Well, now, that could biblically change my whole day.”

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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:43 am

Ahem
I put a teeny in overspill if anyone wants to just tickle my ear
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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:34 am

I posted my month's offering in the overspill area as it not for polling. I ran over the word count and I'm not eligible for polling this month. The story follows the Yellowstone story thread, if anyone's interested. study

Thanks,
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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:08 pm

Formula for Everything


“Heyes, how much money do you got?” Kid Curry asked as they meandered down a dusty hot trail.

“A dollar and twenty-six cents,” Heyes replied.  “How about you?”

The Kid reached into his vest pocket and pulled out some loose change.  “Ninety-five cents.”

Heyes started doing the math in his head.  “So that’s…two dollars and twenty-one cents.”

“Not enough for two meals and a night in a soft bed, along with livery fees.”

“Barely enough for a poker ante to earn some money.”

“So, we’re gonna have to take the next jobs that come our way,” the Kid bemoaned.

“It would appear so.”

“I sure hope it’s not a cattle drive.  I ate enough dust last time for a lifetime.”

“Me, too.”  Heyes kicked his horse.  “Let’s get going so we can make it to town before nightfall.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Two weary and dust-covered men cautiously rode into the town of Prairie Grove.  They made their way over to a water trough and slowly got down from their horses, stretching their backs.  The two animals drank and the men removed their bandanas and wet them in the water.  They wiped down their face, neck, and arms before rinsing out the bandanas and tying them back around their necks.

“That feels better already,” Heyes commented.

“I hope not to get on a horse for a long while.”  Kid Curry sat down on a bench near the trough and stretched out.

Heyes joined his partner.  “Me, too.”  He picked up a discarded newspaper and started to read.  “Let’s see what kind of jobs they have around here.  There’s carpenter work.”

“I value my fingers too much.”

“Cattle drive.”

“Already said no to that.”

“Mending fences.”

“That don’t sound too bad.”

“Mending fences it is.”  Heyes put the paper down.

“That’s it?  No more choices?”

“Nope.  Have to ride east of here to the Big F Ranch.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The two former outlaws rode into the Big F Ranch yard around noon the next day and dismounted near the house.

An older gentleman opened that door.  “Can I help you?”

“We’re here about the fence mendin’ jobs.”  Curry fingered his leather reins.

“Sorry, those jobs are filled already.”

“Have any other jobs?” Heyes asked as he squinted looking up to the house.

“Well…”  The man looked up and down at the two arrivals.  “I see you got your guns tied down.  Are you any good with a rifle?”

“We can usually hit what we aim for,” Heyes answered.  “What you got in mind?”

“There’s a dinner bell over there.  Let’s see if you can hit it.”

Heyes looked over at the Kid, who shrugged his shoulders.  They both removed their rifles from their scabbards.  Heyes pulled a box of rifle shells from his saddle bag and gave a few to his partner.  They loaded their rifles and waited for instructions.

“Go ahead and see if either of you can hit it.”  The man walked off his porch and to the side.

“You can go first, Joshua.”

Heyes lifted the rifle barrel and took aim.  He fired and a ping was heard as he hit the bell.

“Good shooting, son,” the rancher said to Heyes.  He looked over to the Kid.  “Now you try it.”

Kid Curry lifted his rifle and aimed.  He fired and another ping was heard.

“Guess you two are good with rifles.”  The man reached out his hand.  “I’m Walt Franklin, the owner of the Big F Ranch.”

Heyes shook hands.  “Joshua Smith.”

Curry also shook hands.  “Thaddeus Jones.”

“What kind of job do you have that you need a rifleman?” Heyes asked.

“There’s a large prairie dog colony in my pasturelands and too many of my cattle have broken a leg with their dang holes.”

“So, you want us to get rid of the colony?” Heyes confirmed.

“Yep and try to fill in some of their holes.”

“How much?” the Kid asked.

“It’s worth a hundred to have the colony gone.”

Heyes looked Curry who nodded.  “Seems fair.  We’re a little short, though, of funds to be buying shells.”

Mr. Franklin smiled.  “I have a good supply.  Will even make sure you have some grub and coffee for the trail.”

“Mr. Franklin, you have yourself a deal.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Heyes and Curry rode in the direction Franklin told them.  Shortly before sunset, they reached the prairie dog town.  

“That must be it.”  Kid Curry stood up in his stirrups.  “There has to be over a hundred holes to fill.”

“Let’s set up camp and wait until the morning.”  Heyes glanced around and noticed a grove of trees lining a creek nearby.  “That looks like a good spot.”

Small little heads popped out of holes watching as they built a fire and hobbled their horses near a creek.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The next morning, Heyes and the Kid prepared their rifles and loaded them, ready to terminate the prairie dog town’s inhabitants.

“They’re kinda cute, aren’t they?” Curry said as one poked his head out of the hole.

“Yeah, and they’re destructive.  All of those holes are a potential broken leg for a horse and they compete with the cow for the grass.”  Heyes stood up and grabbed his rifle.  “Let’s get this started.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


At noon, the frustrated former outlaws reheated their coffee and chewed on jerky.

“Heyes, this is gonna take forever.”  Curry put his rifle in the scabbard.

“What are you doing?  We’re nowhere near done.”

“I’m done.  Done usin’ a rifle.”

“Those dogs aren’t gonna let you get close enough to shoot them any other way.”

Kid Curry pulled out his Colt and checked the chambers.  “Don’t have to get that close.”

“You’re good, Kid, but there’s no way you can shoot that far with that!” Heyes exclaimed exasperated.

“Sure, I can.  Just watch me.”  The Kid swallowed the last of his coffee and poured out the dreg.  He walked near the prairie dog town and waited.

“I say it won’t work.”  Heyes came up beside his partner.

“It won’t if you keep talkin’.”

A few minutes later, a head popped out of a hole.  In a blink of an eye, Kid Curry fast drew his gun, shot, and holstered it with a twirl.  “Got it!”

“Wait… How did you?  That has to be almost 400 yards!  There’s no way!”

Another curious head popped out of the hole and Curry hit it.

“That was even further!  How do you do that?” Heyes asked incredulously.

“You know how you say there’s a formula for everything?  Well, there’s a formula for shootin’, too.  Gotta figure out the amount of black powder, the distance, and the arc.”

“So you were able to do all that formula figuring in your head that fast?”

Kid Curry shook his head.  “I’m good, but not that good.  Took practice to figure it out.”

“Can you show me how?  We’ll get this job done faster if you’re not the only one doing the shooting.”

“Sure.  Let’s go over to the other side of the creek and practice.”

Heyes followed the Kid, setting his rifle down when they passed through the camp.

Several hundred yards away, Kid Curry stopped and replaced the two bullets he already shot.

“Ready for your lesson?”

“Yep.”  Heyes pulled his gun out of the holster.

Curry pointed to a lone large rock in the distance.  “How far do you figure that rock is over there?”

“About 300 yards, but it’s bigger than a prairie dog.”

“Sheesh!  You gotta practice on somethin’ bigger and make your way down to somethin’ smaller.”  The Kid pointed his gun.  “Get the rock in your sights.”

“Okay.”  Heyes aimed for the rock.

“Now raise the front sight up.”

“How far?”

“Depends on your gun and the ammunition.  I’d say about a half an inch to start.”

Curry pulled the trigger, followed by Heyes.  Two pings were heard in the distance.

“I hit it!”

“You nicked it,” the Kid corrected him.  

“Still hit it,” grumbled Heyes.

“Now adjust the aim down a tad to compensate.”
 
Heyes aimed again as told and pulled the trigger.  A louder ping was heard.

“Looks like you’re a fast learner, Heyes.”  Kid Curry patted his partner on the back.  “Try it a few more times and faster before we aim for something smaller.”

After a few hours of practicing, Heyes was almost as good as Kid Curry at shooting a pistol accurately at 400 yards.  A ping was heard as he shot a rock from a distance.

Kid Curry smiled with pride.  “You’re real good.”

“Yeah, I had a good teacher.”  Heyes smiled and his eyes twinkled.  “Hey, we have a job to do.”

Curry put an arm around his partner’s shoulders as they walked back to camp.  “Those little varmints don’t stand a chance with us now.”




Historical Note –
Humans began killing off prairie dogs in the late 1800s to make way for farming and domestic livestock grazing in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain grasslands, where prairie dogs live. All five prairie dog species are scattered across less than 1-10% of the areas that they once inhabited.

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

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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:08 pm

“Mornin’,” said Kid Curry, pausing from peering into the bore of his dismantled Colt .45.  The remaining parts of his weapon lay scattered across the scarred oak table of the leader’s cabin.  

“Umpf,” mumbled a rumpled Heyes.  His dark hair stood out from his head in every direction as he stumbled over to the coffee pot on the wood stove.  Pouring a mugful, he wandered back to the sofa and plopped down.

“Didn’t sleep so good, huh?”  The Kid leaned over and plucked a wet cloth from a bucket of hot, soapy water at his feet.  He wrung it out with both hands then carefully threaded it into his bore while working it back and forth.

Heyes watched him without comment, sipping his coffee.

“So, do we have a plan?” asked the Kid.

Heyes’ nearly empty mug slammed down on the wooden arm of the couch.  “No, we don’t have a damn plan!”

“Hey, take it easy, will you?  You’ll come up with somethin’.  What’s that you always say?  ‘There’s a formula for everythin’.”

“Not this.  It’s only five days before that bank shipment comes in and I haven’t got a clue how to steal it.  I’ve been up all night racking my brains and there’s nothing I can come up with that’ll work.  The security’s too tight.”

“Are you surprised?   You took ‘em for fifteen grand the last time you hit ‘em.  Can you blame ‘em for overreactin’?”

Heyes got up and refilled his mug before coming over to sit down at the table.  “I was expecting the new safe and maybe even the bars around the teller’s cages.  It’s the twenty-guard detail escorting the shipment that’s a little over the top.”

“Well, give it a rest.  You’ll figure it out or we’ll pull the plug on it.”

“I better figure it out.  The boys are expecting a big score.  After being snowed in and stir crazy all winter, they aren’t gonna take no for answer.”

The front door of the cabin slammed open and a wide-eyed Hank leaned through the portal.  “Heyes, Kid, come quick.  Kyle’s stuck in the well.”

Blue and brown eyes rolled.  

#

“Easy, go slow,” instructed the Kid, guiding the jute rope through his gloved hands.  Heyes leaned over the wooden side of the well peering into the gloomy interior.  The rest of the gang hovered nearby except for Wheat and Lobo who stood several yards away pulling on the tail end of the rope, their faces purple from exertion.

“Oww!” drifted from the mouth of the deep well.

“Wheat!  I said go slow.”

“We’re goin’ slow!” growled the big, mustached outlaw.  Lobo shifted his grip on the rope and, for one terrible second, it slid through Wheat’s hand before he caught it.

A few more minutes of tugging and Kyle was lifted from the well by his friends.  His clothes were soaked and his normally brownish smile appeared pearly white compared to a film of greenish slime adorning him.  “Whew, thanks y’all.  I was gettin’ a mite panicky down there.  That water is cold.”

Heyes hooked a hand under Kyle’s arm and pulled him away from the rest of the men.  “How the hell did you end up in the well?!”

Casting sheepish eyes towards his friends, Kyle hemmed and hawed.  “I…er…I…uh.  Geez, Heyes, I guess I don’t rightly recall.  I must have me that am-neezy or whatever it’s called.”

“You can’t say?”

“That’s right.”

“Or you won’t say?”  Heyes’ face darkened with anger as he turned to the other men.  “Does everybody have amnesia?”  There was no reply so he turned back to Kyle.  “Go get cleaned up.”  He waited until the small outlaw was gone before he addressed the rest of his men.  “You’re all real lucky Kyle didn’t get hurt.  Lay off him or you’ll answer to me.”

“Aw shucks, we didn’t mean any harm.  We’re just bored,” explained Hank.

“Well, find somethin’ else to do besides pickin’ on Kyle,” warned the Kid.

“Sorry.”  Admonished, Hank reddened and skulked away with Preacher and Gully.

“I told ‘em to quit foolin’ around,” claimed Wheat.

“You did not,” countered Ike.

“Did too!”  Wheat’s meaty hands curled into meatier fists and the slighter man cowered.

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” roared Heyes.  “Get outta my sight and go find something else to do!”

“Ain’t no need to get proddy, Heyes,” was Lobo’s parting shot.

The two outlaw leaders watched their men file into the bunkhouse.  Wheat was the last through the door and he slammed it closed.

Curry turned to his partner.  “You’re right.  We need a plan before they kill each other off.”

#

Hunched over his desk, scribbling on a piece of scrap paper, Heyes was engrossed in his task.  The Kid yawned and stood from the kitchen table.  His gun was re-assembled and its embossed leather holster was gleaming from the bear grease he’d rubbed into it.  He curled and uncurled his cramped hands.  “I need a break.”  Having walked over to the desk, he leaned over Heyes’ shoulder.  “Anything?”

Heyes sat back with a discouraged sigh.  “I’ve looked at it from all directions.  There’re just too many men.  We’ll be outnumbered almost two to one.  They’re expecting trouble so they’ll be ready for us.  We can’t hit them while the gold’s on the stage and we can’t storm the bank.    I can’t risk it.”

“Are you sure your source was right about the guards?”

“She said the men are assigned to deliver the shipment and guard it in shifts twenty four hours a day until it gets shipped out on the northbound train.”

“She?” grinned Curry.

“Secretaries don’t get paid much, not even at Wells Fargo offices.  Someone always needs a little extra cash.”

“A little?  I’m bettin’ it cost you a lotta cash if she knew that gold’s worth almost thirty grand.”

“All part of the cost of doing business,” Heyes rubbed his neck, “but it doesn’t do me much good if I can’t use the information.”

“Well, you better figure it out fast.  Last week I caught Gully spikin’ the coffee with red pepper, Monday mornin’ Hank put plate glass under the seat in the outhouse, and yesterday Kyle white-washed Wheat’s bay horse. I’m bettin’ that’s how he ended up in the well.”

Heyes laughed.  “Practical jokes, huh?  At least it’s keeping them busy.”

“Oh, they’re gettin’ real creative.  Maybe we should let ‘em come up with the plan.”

“That’d be a formula all right; a formula for trouble,” snorted Heyes, standing up.

“C’mon, let’s take a walk and clear your head.  No point in beatin’ yourself up.”

Heyes picked up his hat and followed his partner outside.  It was a beautiful day, the morning had warmed up, drying up the previous night’s frost, and steam rose from the backs of the horses in the corral.  The two men walked down to the meadow.  They sat down on a couple of old stumps and watched the early snowmelt water burble through holes in the ice covering the stream while they discussed possible strategies.  By the time they returned mid-afternoon, they were no closer to a solution but they both felt better for having had some fresh air.  

“Where is everybody?” asked the Kid, looking around the empty yard as they reached their cabin.

“Who knows and who cares.”  Heyes crossed the porch and opened the door, stepping inside only to be hit by a falling bucket filled with flour.  The white powder rose in a cloud and settled on his hair, his shoulders, and his shirt before wafting slowly to the floor.  The outlaw leader stood rooted in place as his partner doubled over with laughter.  Heyes shook his head and dusted his clothes raising another fog of flour.

“Your face, haha,” said Curry, almost choking with glee.  “You should see…haha…you…”

Heyes scowled back at him.  “This has gone far enough!”

“You said it yourself, they’re keepin’ busy.”

“It’s one thing if they pull jokes on each other, but I can’t let them get away with pulling them on me. It’s a matter of respect.”

“Oh, lighten up.  There ain’t no harm in them havin’ a little fun.”  The Kid stopped laughing as Heyes went in and changed his clothes.  When he came out with his jaw clenched and started for the door, Curry stepped in front of him.  “Where’re you goin’?”

“I’m going to make sure those yahoots don’t ever pull another stunt on me.”  

“You shouldn’t get mad, Heyes, you should get even,” chuckled Curry.  Seeing the humor was lost on his furious partner, he quickly changed his tune.  “Hang on, I’m comin’ with you.”  The Kid went over to the table, picked up his gun, and grabbed his holster; yanking it hard but nearly losing his balance when it stuck in place.  “What the hell…”  Recovering, he pulled again before noticing the sixteen-penny nail that secured his best leather holster to the hard oak surface.  “Those sonovab….”

“I thought there was no harm in them having a little fun,” smirked Heyes.

“You don’t mess with a man’s holster,” snarled the Kid.

A light went on in Heyes’ eyes.  “That’s it!”

“What’s it?”

“Hahaha.”  Heyes grabbed the Kid’s shoulders and danced him around in a circle.  “You did it!  You helped me.”

“Do what?”

“Come up with a plan!”

“I did?  How?”

Releasing Curry, Heyes sobered up. “I’m gonna get even.”  

Going into the kitchen, Heyes started pulling matches from the dispenser nailed to the wall next to the woodstove.  “Grab me the biggest jar you can find, will you?”  He sat down at the table, pushing aside the Kid’s gun cleaning supplies and started lighting one match after another, striking each one and quickly blowing it out.  

Curry brought over a large mason jar.  “What’re you doin’?”

“I’m building a bomb.”

“A bomb??!!!”  The Kid bobbled the jar, nearly dropping it.

“Calm down.  I’m building a stink bomb.  You know, like the one I made for the headmaster.”  Heyes smiled maniacally.  “We’ll gas out the guards.  They won’t know what hit them!”  

The Kid sat down with a laugh.  “You really are the genius you think you are!”

“Heehee, I am, ain’t I?”

“Lemme help.”

“Cut the heads off these matches.  I’ll go find the ammonia.”

A few minutes later, the match heads were in the bottom of the jar and Heyes was carefully pouring the ammonia over them.  He placed the lid on the jar, tightened the band around it, and gave it a good shake.  He walked to the stove and placed the jar on the warming shelf above the burners. “We’ll leave this here to ripen for a few days.  It’ll be ready just in time for the job.”

The Kid grinned back at him.  “I’m kind of looking forward to this one.”

“Me too.  Now, let’s go chew the boys out,” chuckled Heyes.

#

The robbery went like clockwork.  The gang struck the bank in the wee hours of the morning after the shipment arrived.  The ‘bomb’ was thrown through the plate glass window of the bank and seconds later, the door opened and out streamed the guards on duty, rubbing their eyes and harshly coughing.  

The gang rode out of town at a dead run with the Kid carrying the loot.  After a while, Heyes pulled up and told Wheat to take the men north while he and the Kid went south to confuse the posse.  Splitting up worked like a charm.  A little later, certain that they weren’t being followed, Heyes reined up his tired gelding and smiled at his partner.

“What say we head into Chambersburg and have a little fun?”

“Chambersburg?  I thought we were headin’ back to the Hole. That’s what you told Wheat.”

“Like you said, Kid, don’t get mad, get even.”  Heyes chortled.  “I reckon we’ll go into Chambersburg and live it up for a few days; spend a little of our hard earned cash before we have to go back and divvy up the leftovers.”

A broad grin split the Kid’s face.  “I like the way you think, partner.”

“Well, you know what they say…he who laughs last, laughs best.”

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Cornelia May

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PostSubject: Re: April 17 - A Formula for Everything...   Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:12 pm

Unfortunately due to to real life and a short case of writers block I was not able to submit ant stories for this challenge. Hopefully for May I will be able to write one for polling and one for overspill.

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