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 May 17 - Finders Keepers

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Calico

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PostSubject: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Mon May 01, 2017 2:15 am

May Day greetings to one and all.

Another phrase from the shows from you - I think anyhow.


Let your fertile - and occasionally febrile - imaginations ponder the well known saying:

"Finders Keepers"

And,

Three
Two
One

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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Fri May 12, 2017 2:09 pm



“You think they’ll come, Sister?”

Sister Madeleva turned to look at Mary Jones, smiling at the young woman with the chocolate brown curls.

“I sent them a telegraph with the date for your graduation, and they said they’d try.  You know it isn’t always easy for them.”

“Yes, Sister, I know that, but they told me, if I graduated from college, that they’d come.”

*****

The sky was steel gray.  The clouds were dark and rolling, wave after wave. The wind was slicing through their coats with a chill that left their teeth chattering.  The day had been miserable, with intermittent periods of sheet and some swirls of snow.

They had not made much progress that day, even though they had tried to keep on the move to help warm the horses and themselves.  The trail was muddy in spots and rough and rocky in others.  The night was coming on quickly, and they still had a few miles to go to reach the next town. 

As they rounded a bend in the road they saw a lump to the side.  The boys pulled up their horses, leery and cautious.

"Whatcha think, Heyes?

"I dunno, Kid."

Curry undid the loop on his Colt, and slowly approached. Heyes, next to him, had pulled his gun from his holster, not quite so trusting as the Kid. 

As they came closer, they could see that what looked like a bundle of rags, maybe an old quilt.  There was no movement.

"Someone must have lost a bundle of clothes from a wagon."  Heyes stopped.

"I dunno, Heyes."  The Kid approached more closely.  His horse shied when stopped next to it.  He patted the horse on the neck and started to dismount.

"You think that's smart?"

"If it's just a bundle of clothes, shouldn't matter, should it?"

"Well, no, but..."

The Kid toed the bundle.  It offered more resistance than a quilt would.  He started to lean down, and Heyes pointed his gun at the lump.

"Getting mighty jumpy, aren't you?"

"Given our luck recently, I just see it as being cautious."

A sob came from the bundle.  Instantly, the Kid had his Colt in his hand.

"Kid, you might want to back up."  Heyes' eyes became hard and focused on the quilt, as Curry did just the opposite. He reached out his left hand and touched the bundle. A whimper emerged and it became more compact as it sidled further off the road.  The Kid's face showed confusion, and he leaned back on his haunches.  He looked up at Heyes, questioning.

Against his better judgement, Heyes dismounted and came to stand by this partner, his gun still loosely in his hand.  Curry again reached out to the bundle.

"No..." came the moan from the quilt. It grew smaller.

"We don't mean no harm." Curry looked up at Heyes and down again to the bundle. "Would you be needin’ some help?"  He holstered his gun and reached out with both hands to lift the bundle. Heyes' gun was trained on it.

More whimpering came out along with a dark mop of curls and a tear streaked face. She stared with wide eyes at first Curry, then at Heyes.

The Kid looked up at Heyes with a harsh shake of his head and then held his arms out.  "Sweetheart, we ain't gonna hurt you." Heyes put his gun to the side, but wasn't ready to put it away.

The girl looked young, maybe ten, probably less.

"Where your parents, darlin'?" The Kid kept his left hand on her shoulder, not quite sure if she was going to bolt or not.

"Momma's passed on." Tears started streaming down her face. The Kid's face softened.  Heyes’ hardened a bit, but he holstered his gun.

"And your pa?"

"He left." The girl tightened the quilt around her shoulders, but didn't pull away from Curry.  She looked down and closed her eyes. The tears continued to fall.

"He left you here?" Heyes asked his voice harsh.

The girl glanced up at Heyes frightened and back to Curry.

"It’s okay, darlin’,” Curry murmured.  “He might sound like he’d bite, but he’s just a big softie inside.”

The girl looked doubtfully at Heyes, but then smiled a watery smile at the Kid.

Hannibal Heyes looked like he wanted to be offended, but then just smiled his charming smile, and slowly lowered himself to the same level as Curry and the girl.

“Yeah, sweetie, he’s right.  Big dogs just come up to me all the time and lick my hand.”  He locked eyes with his cousin.  “It’s getting cold out here.  Any place we can take you?”

The girl shook her dark curls slowly.  

“We’re headin’ to town ourselves.  Would you like to come with us and get a nice warm supper?”  Curry hadn’t moved closer, not wanting to spook the girl.

She looked uncertain.  “How will Pa know where to find me?”

“How about we take you into town and let the sheriff know where you are?  Then your daddy should find you if he comes lookin’.”  Heyes continued to smile, even as the Kid gave him a skeptical look.  “It’s too cold for you to stay out here all alone.”  He looked around at the darkness that had now fallen around them.

The girl followed Heyes’ glance, and started to look frightened.  The Kid still had one hand on her shoulder and gently squeezed it.  “You can come and ride up on my horse with me, and we’ll be to town in no time.  Maybe your pa will be there waitin’.”

The girl slowly nodded, and stood.

“What’s your name, darlin’?”  Curry asked, still crouching at eye level.

“Mary.”

“Okay, Mary, then how about I lift you up on my horse, and we get goin’ to town?”

She nodded again, and held out her arms.  The Kid scooped her up, set her on the horse and settled in behind her.  

Heyes stood next to his horse and met Curry’s eyes.  The Kid shook his head slightly, and Heyes shook his head more, closing his eyes briefly.  Then he was on his horse, and they slowly started towards town.

*****

The rhythm of the horse put Mary to sleep not too far down the road.  Curry glanced down fondly at her.  He then glanced over to his partner, knowing the look he’d see on Heyes’ face.

“So, your definition of the needy has expanded beyond pretty women to little children?”

“Heyes, you know we couldn’t leave her there.”

Hannibal Heyes sighed.  “You know we have to take her to the sheriff’s office.”

“Ain’t there anywhere else we can check for her pa?”

“Maybe the saloon.”  Heyes gave a dry, jaded laugh.

“Not such a bad idea, Heyes.”

“Ain’t I told you that before?  All I have is good ideas.”

“I thought that was Wheat.”

Heyes laughed genuinely.  “No, Wheat just thought that.”

*****

It was full dark when the boys rode into Brewster.  The saloon appeared to be doing good business, based on the level of noise emanating from that establishment.  The Kid looked to Heyes, as they started to ride by.

“No, Kid, we have to check out the sheriff’s office first.”  Heyes shook his head decisively.  “If we don’t know him, we’ll have to take her in.”

“She’ll be scared.”

“I don’t think the saloon would be any better.”  Heyes looked at his cousin.  “Do you?”

“No, I guess not.”  Curry spotted the sheriff’s office down the street.  There was a light glowing from within, but he couldn’t make out the sign over the door.

Heyes rode up to the hitching post in front of the office, and peered at the sign in the gloom.

“Sheriff Horace Bigelow.”  He glanced over to Curry.  “Don’t ring any bells with me.  You?”

The Kid shook his head.  “No, but that don’t make me feel any better about taking her in there.”  Mary started to stir, as the Kid stopped his horse.

“Where are we Mr. Jones?”

“We’re in town, by the sheriff’s office.”

“Pa never liked to go to the sheriff’s office.  I don’t think we’ll find him here.”

“Well, we’re going to talk to the sheriff and see if he’s seen your pa.”  Heyes smiled at Mary.

Mary looked doubtful, and glanced up at the Kid.

“Mr. Smith is a smart man.”  Curry told Mary, and then looked skeptically at Heyes himself.  “He thinks this is a good idea.  Let’s go in and see if he’s right.”

Hannibal Heyes took a deep breath, glanced back at Curry, who just rolled his eyes, and then opened the door.

“Howdy!”  Heyes used his most ingratiating smile.  “Sheriff Bigelow?”  

An older man sat at the desk doing paperwork.  He glanced up to see two drifters enter his office, with tied down guns.  They were not the usual type that sought out the sheriff in a town.  Then he saw the young girl peering around the side of the blonde with the brown floppy hat.  Her arms were tight around him.

“Well, who do we have here?”  The sheriff got up from his desk and started towards the young girl, but she retreated behind the tall man with the ice blue eyes.

“Her name is Mary, and she’s a bit shy,” Heyes said quietly.  “We ah … met her on the road outside of town.  She’s lost her pa.”  He smiled sweetly at Mary.  “We was hoping he might have stopped by.”

“No…”  The sheriff was puzzled, but figured these boys were being honest with him.

“We were thinkin’ of checkin’ out the saloon,” the Kid said.  Heyes gave him a look, but then shrugged.  

The sheriff slowly approached Mary.  “What’s your pa’s name, Mary?”

“Silas Peeler,” Mary answered quietly, but then tears started running down her face.  “He said he didn’t want me no more.”

“Well, maybe he’s changed his mind after a drink or two.”  The sheriff looked up at the boys, a grim line to his face.  “Um… I’ve already met Mary’s father.  Over to the saloon.  Had to break up a fight.  Nobody would ‘fess up as to who started it, and since they had quieted down, I decided to let them be.”

He looked at Mary clutching tightly to the blonde man.  “Maybe Mary and Mr….?”

“Jones, Sheriff.  Thaddeus Jones.”  The Kid smiled down at Mary.

“Well, maybe Mary and Mr. Jones can stay here, while Mr. …?”

“Smith, Joshua Smith, Sheriff.”  Heyes smiled at the sheriff.

“Mary, would you like to stay here with Mr. Jones, while Mr. Smith and I go see if your pa is still at the saloon?  I might be able to find a peppermint stick in my drawer, if that would help.”

Mary had looked scared at the mention of her pa, but then her face cleared when the peppermint was mentioned.

“I like peppermint too, Mary,” the Kid said.  “Maybe the sheriff will let us share a piece.”

“I’d like that,” Mary smiled back at the Kid, and then asked the sheriff, “Can we?”

“I think that would be a right fine idea.”  Sheriff Bigelow retrieved the aforementioned piece of candy from his desk, and Mary and the Kid settled down in a chair.

*****

As they walked over to the saloon, Bigelow gave Heyes another close look, not certain he liked what he saw, but couldn’t find fault with the boys for bringing in the girl.

“So why don’t you tell me a bit more about how you found Mary, afore we get over to the saloon.”

“We just came upon her lying crumpled in the road.  Honest Sheriff,” Heyes said.  “Couldn’t see leaving her out there in the cold.”

“No.  No, Mr. Smith, I guess you couldn’t.”  The sheriff thought for a while.  “Smith and Jones, huh?”

“Yes, Sheriff.  Lots of folks named Smith and Jones.”  

“That there are.”  The sheriff stopped before he climbed the stairs to the saloon.  “Did you see the bruises on her?”

Heyes turned to look at the sheriff.  “No, sir.  We did not.”  He took a deep breath.  “You gotta believe us.  We just found her…”

“Calm down, Smith.  I figure you wouldn’t be bringing her into the sheriff if you had caused any of those.”  He scrubbed his face.  “Not the first time I’ve seen this.  A lot of times the dirt covers them.  But not always.”

Heyes’ face was illuminated by the light coming from the saloon.  He looked grim.  “What sort of man is this Peeler?”

“Not the kind I’d leave any kid with.”  He started into the saloon.

Peeler was sweet talking one of the saloon girls, when Bigelow walked up to him.

“Ah, sheriff, ain’t we finished?  I ain’t been in any more fights.  Maisy and me, we was just going upstairs.”

“You know a girl named Mary?”  Bigelow grabbed Peeler as he turned to start up the stairs.

“Heck, sheriff, I’ve known me plenty of girls,” Peeler smirked.  “Gotta been a Mary in there somewheres.”

“No, Peeler.”  The sheriff said coldly.  “A little girl, who was left outside of town.”

“Oh,” Peeler huffed.  “She ain’t really mine.”

“She said you left her on the road.”  Heyes’ eyes were steely and his voice cold.

“Weeelll…I was travelling with her ma.”  Peeler scratched his head.  “She up and died.  Left me with this kid.”  He huffed.  “All she did was whine.  How she was hungry, how she was cold.”

“And you just left her?”  Heyes grabbed Peeler's shirt front and yelled into his face.  “How can you think that was something to do to a kid?”

Bigelow got between the men, not wanting another fight, even though he could not really blame Smith.

“She’s over to my office now.”  The sheriff started leading Peeler out of the saloon.

“Hey, wait just one goldurn minute.”  Peeler stood his ground.  “She ain’t mine.  You found her.  You keep her.”

Bigelow held Heyes back from grabbing the man again.

“You worthless piece of…”  Heyes grabbed his hat off his head and ran his fingers through his hair.  His eyes were black as coal, and his breath was ragged.

“Mr. Smith.”  The sheriff tried to get Heyes’ attention, but had to shake his arm before Heyes turned to him.  “I think we should go back over to my office.”

Heyes looked the sheriff in the eye.  He nodded, and purposely turned his back on Peeler.  He strode out of the saloon.

Bigelow followed him, and stopped him before they reentered the office.  He turned Heyes to face him, and looked him in the eye.  There was a fierceness in Heyes’ glare.  The sheriff wondered again who this man and his partner were.

“You know he’d just dump her again, if we make him take her,” Bigelow said, his eyes tired.

Heyes stared bleakly at the sheriff, and then looked off down the street.  If Bigelow wasn’t convinced that Smith was probably on the other side of the law, he would have sworn there was the glint of tears in his eyes.

Heyes took a deep shuddering breath, scrubbed his face with his hand, and quietly asked, “So what do you suggest?”

“Well,” Bigelow took his own deep breath.  “There’s been a recession around here lately.”

Heyes nodded.  “Yeah, jobs have been hard to find.”

“Ain’t no one around here able to take the girl in.  Guess we gotta send her to the orphanage over to Sibley.”  He met Heyes’ glare.  “No, it ain’t the best place, but at least she should be fed and clothed.”

Heyes looked at the light coming out of the sheriff’s office.  Bigelow could see him thinking hard on something.

“Sheriff,” Heyes finally said.  “What if there was another option?”

*****

The train ride to Valparaiso took most of their money, even with Heyes increasing it at the poker tables at a couple stops along the way.  Mary had also needed some new clothes, and a doll with yarn hair, that was in the window of a shop.

She was sleeping in the Kid’s arms during the last leg of their trip.  It was dark outside of the train windows, so they just reflected the Kid’s nodding head, and Heyes’ thoughtful gaze.

“Ain’t it surprising that Sister Madeleva and Sister Patricia are still at Valparaiso?”

Heyes looked into his cousin’s brilliant blue eyes.  “I thought you were sleeping.”

“Nah, just resting my eyes, while Mary’s quiet.”  He looked down at the chocolate curls on her head, and then back at Heyes.  “You still think this is a good idea?”

“What else can we do, Kid?”  Heyes stared at his reflection in the opaque window, swaying with the rocking of the train.  “We’re still wanted.  It doesn’t look like that amnesty is coming any time soon.  She needs a settled life.  The sisters will be good to her.”

Curry nodded reluctantly.  “Guess that means we probably have to increase what we’ve been sending the sisters, huh?”

“Probably, Kid.”

*****

Mary was waiting with the other graduates, ready to get her diploma.  She turned her head and could see Sister Madeleva and Sister Patricia sitting behind her, beaming, so proud of her accomplishments.  She was happy to have them there, but still missed two who were not.

As her name was called, she heard a whoop and loud clapping.  She looked up from shaking the dean’s hand, and saw two men standing at the back of the hall, smiling hugely.  She smiled back and gave a little wave as she left the stage.

They made it!  She should have known they would.  



*****

If anyone is wondering why I'd send a sweet girl like Mary to Valparaiso, and hasn't read my story from last month's challenge, I wrote a different take on Valparaiso.  I didn't intend for it to go further, but it decided to sneak in this month's story too.  A longer, and I think better version of last month's story is in the challenge overspill area.
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PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Sat May 13, 2017 10:18 am

And, Destiny has played with the boys yet again as Destiny's Cylce moves into chapter nine.  Hope y'all like the new bend in the river.


The rivers sandy bottom rose up in small, humped back islands as it snaked westward with stunted willows and thick, barked cottonwood trees clinging to its crumbling, flood ravaged banks. Out beyond, the tall grass waved. A never ending, whispering brown-green sea, that made the land appear flat, mile after mile of flatness. However, a full day’s ride had already revealed this as untrue; for beneath the grass, the dry land rolled giving way to wide basins and sharp crevices. Within the dirt, where the roots grew so deep, forcing their way between lumpy, jagged slabs of limestone that randomly erupted baring their white bones to the sky were large, mouthed burrows created by the creatures of the plains.

“Nice area,” Heyes said, while searching the flickering cottonwood leaves, finally finding the golden breasted bird, who was singing. “A Meadowlark; thought it was. Hey, you remember how they would….” His words trailed away and he turned his face away from Kid Curry.

Thinking back to when they were boys and how the inquisitive birds would perch on fence posts, watching them with quick, little twists of their heads while singing their bright, warbling song; Curry swallowed hard, softly saying, “I remember.”

“Like I said; nice area to ride through,” Heyes responded, still looking out at the sluggish, flowing river.

“Figured it would be and we’re going to follow it all the way across the Colorado line.”

Heyes looked back, “you study a map somewhere?”

“Nope, talked with a gentleman named Mead, said he used to do some big buffalo hunts and knows the land well.”

“Hmpf,” was the singled grunted answer.

“Yeah, well, Mr. Mead told me, this way we’d have plenty of water crossing the open prairie and be able to restock at the lil’ burgs that have been cropping up alongside the Arkansas River.”

Drolly Heyes said, “Arkansaw River, Kid.”

“Nope, I meant Arkansas, Mead informed me, it’s what folks around here call it.”

Heyes frowned over at his cousin.

“What?”

“We are no longer from around here.”

“I thought that, too.” Curry shoved his hat back a bit, “anyway…he told me they all pronounce it that way because it flows through Kansas first, and they figure it is the OurKansas River, no matter what those Rebs have to say about it.”

One dark eyebrow lifted, “That so.”

Curry nodded, “kind of thought it might be better, to sound like the locals when they feel that way.”

“Might be.”

The river bent back on itself and at the point of the bend, several large cottonwoods were bunched together, their massive roots rolling out across the ground like slack, circus tent ropes. Automatically, they guided their horses toward the grass, not wanting them to catch a shoe on the twisted, thick bark. Moving into the bright sunlight, Curry reached up again, this time tugging his hat down low to shield his pale eyes.

“Go on and raise that other hand while you’re at it. You do the same, Heyes.”

They froze, their eyes slanted to each other.

“This here double-aught, does not care what you do, ‘cause this close, it’s bound to do more than wing you, no matter what you blame well try.”

Both outlaws hands reached skywards and shifting in his saddle to get a look, Heyes said, “Sir, I do--”  

Except he was cut off, “Uh Huh! Do not be movin’ none!”

Heyes stilled, his face becoming even stiller, his dark eyes narrowing.

“I got ‘em, Harold.” The unknown voice said, almost as jubilantly as a child who knows he has achieved his goal. “It is safe for you and rest of the boys to come on across.”

Four riders emerged from the other side of the river; the lead rider wore a fine cut, broadcloth suit. Well, it had once been a fine suit, although now it had the shine of being worn nearly thin. He smiled widely as his horse splashed across the low river, the riders around him; all had their pistols pointed at Curry and Heyes.

What caught Heyes’ eye was the moving glint of the watch chain stretched across the man’s rounded belly and the swaying bear claw attached to it. The corner of Heyes’ mouth dipped his dimple appearing and defensively, he burst into a large smile, “Harold MacKeefe, good to see you.”

“You are supremely correct, Heyes.” Harold responded, touching a finger to the brim of his flat hat. “Now go on and reach over with your left hand and toss the Kid’s pistol aside.”

“What’s this all about?”

“Not recalling, giving you permission to jabber on like you do, simply do as instructed.”

Hannibal Heyes’ jaw tensed, his nostrils flaring and leaning out, he grasped the Peacemaker’s smooth, wood handle.

Harold raised his voice, “Heyes! Do not be forgetting, both your posters illustriously have labeled you as ‘dead or alive’.”

Sighing Heyes flicked his wrist, the pistol twisting in the air to land before their horses.

As he was doing this, a man, with a face as pockmarked as a bad road, snagged his newly purchased Schofield from its skid. Smiling smugly up at the pair of outlaws, he walked on retrieving the Colt.

“Well done, Barton.”

Barton swung round to Harold, smiling like a hound dog being offered a bone.

“Very well done, go on and bring that jewelry.”

Barton loped over, handing up the shiny six-shooters and Harold patted him on the shoulder, slipping the pistols in his waist belt. “Now you two reach on back and grab hold of your cantle seats.”

Curry’s eyes narrowed, all softness disappearing from his face and when he reached back, his wrists were promptly and fiercely tied with a rawhide thong. Heyes did the same, but not before, straightening his hat and tightening the stampede strings, to hold it in place.

“Always was one to buck an order, weren’t you Heyes… just any way you could.” Harold MacKeefe stated with a shake of his head.
“Walter, I deem, it would be best if two rawhides were used to tie him, he can be slippery as a wet snake.”

His patience fully exhausted and the pinching of the ever tightening thongs on his wrists, doing little to improve his humor, Heyes snarled. “What’s this all about, Harold?”

“Why it is what it is always about,” Harold replied, placing his folded hands atop his belly, “turning a profit.”

Curry looked fast to his partner, but Heyes having come to the conclusion, Harold intended to use them to open a mail car safe, was trying to read the man, “Last time we spoke, you said you were done robbing trains.”

“Still am,” Harold said, waving a hand toward the sea of grass, “found it far easier to perpetuate my heists out there. Regular Joe’s tend to not fight back like them hired guards the trains have incorporated.”

Realization settled in and Heyes inhaled, the bridge of his nose wrinkling.

“I see my plans have become apparent to you.”

Under his breath, Curry asked, “Heyes, what’s going on?”

Heyes’ tongue flicked across his lower lip and he turned to face his cousin, “Harold over there, intends to turn us in for the profit of our rewards.”

Curry’s blue eyes turned sharp as a winter sky, his gaze shifting to Harold MacKeefe.

“Well, now, I am right glad, I have your guard dog leashed, Heyes; he looks like he has some bite to him.”

Curry’s shoulders tightened, the muscled cords in his neck standing out rigid.

“Easy, Kid,” Heyes said, really almost cooed knowing behind Harold’s amiable, smiling attitude stood a cut-throat killer.

Walter looked from one outlaw to the other and laughed heartily, hitching their horses up behind his own, and a sullen looking man’s wide-hipped bay.

For hours they had been led, with Harold’s gang keeping them a good distance apart, and the wind had long ago blown Curry’s hat off. Looking back as they paused from coming down a sloping ridgeline, Heyes saw his cousin’s skin was pinking up like a strawberry on a vine.

“Harold, favor?”

The bushy bearded man rode closer.

“What could you possibly desire, Heyes?”

“Like to say, release us, but certain that isn’t a favor you’d be willing to grant.”

“You are quite precise in your assumption,” he grinned the gloating smile of bully on top, “as this is very much a finders keepers situation, and I plan on keeping you both until you pay off.” He scratched at his beard, “And, I mean that. I will keep hold of both of you, even if you force my hand and my boys are required to slice your throats. Although, I do hope it doesn’t come to that, as it wouldn’t take you long to start stinking in this sun.”

Heyes lips pursed tight and he smiled, “speaking of the sun, my favor is…could one of your boys set Kid’s hat back on, cause he is broiling under it.”

Harold’s eyes drifted to Curry, who was sullenly glaring at the ground, the back of his neck a proverbial beet red, “James, see to it.”
A burly, farm hand, looking man, in a rough home spun shirt, rode over and grabbing the brown hat from Curry’s back, he set it atop his head. Then, with a grin, he slid the stampede knot up tight. However, having suspected this action, Curry had flexed his neck and jaw, so when he was released the knot was not gagging him.

Turning his horse, Harold looked pointedly at Heyes.

With a smile, that was menacing as wolverine advancing from his den Heyes said, “Thank you, Harold.”

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PostSubject: Finders Keepers   Sat May 13, 2017 8:07 pm

A short conversation - my first ever story consisting of only dialogue. (That's why it's so short)

[]Finders Keepers

“They must be gone by now. It’s been hours. What do you think,Heyes, can we risk a light?”

“Guess so. You got a match? My pockets are empty.”

“I might in my saddle bags. Give me a minute to feel along the horse for them. OW! Omph, darn it.  Don’t be dancin’ around when we can’t see ya, that’s it, stand still, good boy.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I tripped over somethin’ and fell into my horse. Ah, found some.”

“Thanks for the light, let’s get closer to the front so we have some natural light while we plan our next move.Whatcha got there, Kid?”

“Don’t know, it’s what I tripped over. Here, open the sack and take a look, while I take a quick look outside.”

“Kid! Kid, get back here. You gotta see this.”

“Everything’s all clear, Hold the horses, I’m comin’.”

“Look at what we found in the back of a deep, dark, dank mine entrance. What do you think the odds are?”

“Whoa, is that what I think it is?”

“Yep, we're rich, what we have here is glorious, green money. Lot’s of it. I reckon in the neighborhood of $30,000.”

“What are we gonna do?”

“Finders keepers, Kid.”

“Now, Heyes, you know as well as me we can’t keep it even if we did find it. There is no legitimate reason for a sack of money to be stashed in the middle of nowhere. It’s got to belong to someone whose missing it.”

“Finders keepers, looser weepers.”

“We’re the ones who’s gonna be weepin’ when they throw us in jail for keepin’ what don’t belong to us.”

“Possession is nine tenths of the law.”

“Yeah, that’s the saying, but it’s the tenth tenth that worries me. You know the tenth part of the law that takes exception to our possession of money that we didn’t rightfully earn legally.”

“Ah Kid, quit worrying. By the state of that sac, the money’s been here for quite a while. The insurance company probably already paid out on the claim or it could be some part of a miner's cash out on his ore that got left behind somehow.”

“Or, more than likely, what if whoever’s loot it probably is comes lookin’ for it?”

“We’ll be long gone. And besides, we’re the top outlaws, who’s gonna challenge us?”

“Are you kidding? Plenty of wanna be top outlaws would want their own take back. Besides, ain’t you forgettin’ we’re ex-outlaws now.”

“I haven’t forgot.  But”

“Ain’t you the one who’s always on me about we can’t do this, we can’t do that ‘cause it'd jeopardize our amnesty?”

“Yes, but we didn’t commit a crime. Besides finder’s keepers and possession is …”

“Possession of stolen property is crime, that’s the tenth part of the law, Heyes.”

“You really think we should turn our find into the law?"

“Don’t you? I mean once you quit fingering those bills and get the dollar signs out of your eyes?"

“I don’t know, turning in $28, 600 dollars goes against my instincts. We could go to South America.”

“We got new instincts now.”

“We do?”

“And you don’t really want to go to South America, no more than I do.”

“No, I don’t really want to turn South American.”

“So, what are we gonna do about that sack in your hand?”

“We’re not too far from the Wyoming border. I guess we’re going to go see Lom, turn the money into him and tell him where we found it. Then we’re going to take possession of any finder’s fee. It’s usually ten percent, that’s $2,860. Still a nice sum.”

“I knew you’d find a keeper of a plan.”

“Thanks, Kid”

“You're welcome, Heyes.”
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Cal

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PostSubject: Finders Keepers   Sun May 21, 2017 10:33 am

Finders Keepers

From - Along came a Spider #2

“Well… Did you find anything?” Heyes asked Kid, sourly.

Jamerson was now a black speck in the heat haze, crossing the bare expanse of desert scrub between this rocky outcrop they were trapped in, and the far away, linear horizon.  The dust plume, thrown up by the horse’s feet, formed an ominous pointer to the Bounty Hunter’s position.  

Heyes hadn’t taken his eyes off their former captor’s approach.  He scowled out at Jamerson with cold loathing.  
He’d told Kid that he had a plan, as they’d fought for control of their getaway horse.  Kid had wanted to keep going, put as many miles between them and the bounty hunter as they could.  But he’d acquiesced to Heyes’ insistence, to head for this lone island of rock, in a sea of desert.  

Heyes didn’t have a plan…

Yet.

What he did have was a dry mouth, scolded feet, a bad stomach and not much else.  And he was carrying around a huge grudge against Jamerson, the agent from the Grand Union Pacific Railroad.  Jamerson had Heyes’ fastest horse, their take from the train robbery, their guns, their canteens, even their boots.

But more than that, he’d made fools of them.

Letting them think they’d got away.  Think they were in the clear, before bushwhacking them on their way back to the Hole.

It was humiliating.

And that snake had laughed at them!

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.

That had been too much for Heyes.

“I found the last poor sap, that crawled into these rocks to die” responded Kid, drily.  

“He wasn’t even lucky enough to have a partner to bury him… Looks like a soldier from the war… He had this… not much else… If we make the water tank at Wolfshead Rocks… well …may be …we’ll get to fill it…”

Kid Curry hadn’t liked taking the silver water bottle from the ancient corpse, and his face showed it.  The bony fingers of one hand had still been wrapped around the standard Army issue bottle.  

But it would hold water.  Shame there wasn’t a water tank in these rocks, he thought.

“Did he have boots?” asked Heyes over his shoulder, reluctantly pulling his eyes away from Jamerson.

“Show me.”

---oooOOOooo---

“I think you were wrong, Kid” scowled Heyes, stood over the raggedy pile of bones and cloth of the, long ago, deceased soldier.

“I think he was buried …once.  The winds just decided …to unbury him again… and his boots…”

Kid sneered.

“If we get outta this… may be… we can cover him up again.”

“Yeah…” nodded Heyes non-committedly.

“But not right now, huh… We got us a storm blowing in, in the shape of one Grant Jamerson… and this old soldier ain’t gonna be needing his boots anytime soon… I’ll just be taking those.”

Kid grinned knowingly at his older cousin, the outlaw leader, too used to getting his own way.
 
They were partners.

Heyes wasn’t pulling rank on him, and his feet were protesting just as loudly as Heyes’, at being asked to climb all over this hot outcrop of sharp rocks, with just the protection of thin, holy socks to call on.

“I think you’ll find …Heyes… they’re gonna fit me just fine… after all… Finders Keepers…”

“Finders Keepers!” barked Heyes incredulously.

“What are you? … TEN!”

Kid ignored him and bent down to grasp the first boot.  Heyes quickly grabbed at his arm.

“We’ll toss for it” he said shrewdly.

He slipped a coin out of his vest pocket to show Kid both sides… very quickly.

Kid humphed, shaking his head imperceptibly.  He took the coin out of Heyes hand and checked it carefully for two different faces.

“What?...” asked Heyes incredulously again.

“Don’t you trust me?”

Kid’s eyebrows shot skywards.

“No …Heyes … I don’t…” he said flatly.

“We’ll be using my coin” he said, producing another coin from his own vest pocket.

“I’ve seen you con Wheat and the boys too many times with that one Heyes.”

Kid shook his head.

“Call it!”

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes’ mood had visibly darkened.  He silently snatched back his ‘favourite’ silver dollar from his smug younger cousin, and rammed it back into his vest pocket.

Kid smugly, reached for the soldier’s old army boots.

The dry old boots came apart in Kid’s hands.  Seemed, the stitching had perished long ago.

Heyes held back a gleeful grunt of schadenfreude, covering his mouth and trying to look sympathetic to the winner of the toss.

Kid held up the soles, as if he was thinking of tying them on to his feet anyway.  Of course, he’d have to find something to tie them on with, first.  He groaned loudly, cursing their awful luck, empty water bottles and useless foot ware.  He kicked at the dust, around the skeletal feet, and a glint of rusted metal caught his eye.

“A gun” smiled Heyes, astonished.

“A relic…” groaned Kid, poking at it with his toe.

“No…no… Kid… This is it… Our lucks changing” smiled Heyes happily, reaching down to pick up the ancient hardware.
 
It ran with dust, and he gave it a good shake.  It felt long, wrong and awkward in his hands. But it was a gun. Not one that would ever fire again, or fit any of the bullets in their belt loops. But it was a gun.

“Ha ha… This is it… this is the break we needed, Kid…” enthused Heyes.

“With this …we can turn the tables on Jamerson.  Come on.  We got a plan to put together… and we haven’t got much time left to do it!”

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes crawled and slid, ran and fell his way from the tracks they’d made earlier, as they’d passed the rocks on the horse, back to the rocky outcrop.

“The tracks look great!” he enthused to his waiting, worrying partner.

“It’s like we planned it… like we knew …we were gonna need them tracks to look like …we were having a fight for the horse.  Did you get the horse hidden …and wipe out all our tracks?”

Kid nodded.  He still held the only bit of thorny brush he could find to do the job with.

Heyes beamed.

Kid looked more worried.

“I don’t know Heyes… is he gonna fall for this?”

Heyes shook his head at his cautious partner, grinning.  Now he had a plan, he was feeling a lot better about their precarious situation. Kid would catch on.

“You just gotta have a little faith, Kid…  You said yourself… without seeing that blunderbuss… Just feeling it… between your shoulders… Even you’d believe it was a single shot derringer… if someone told you it was… You wouldn’t bet your life against it, least ways.”

Kid nodded slowly.  He had said that and it did feel the right size.  And cold steel, even ancient cold steel pressed in your back, focused the mind.

“Yep… it’s the right calibre for the 54… the later model… But if he sees it Heyes…”

“Then …You gotta make sure …he don’t see it…”

Heyes took Kid by the shoulders.

“I’ve seen you stalking a deer Kid… You’re silent… You’re practically Apache! I know you can do this.  You just gotta get close enough … so he can’t see what you’re holding.  I’ll get him so wrapped up …in crowing over finding me … all beat up and helpless… it’ll be easy for you… to ambush him… Just you wait and see.”

Heyes smartly slapped Kids shoulders drawing the look from the gunslinger.  

Then, he risked another look out to the approaching quarry.  He was covered from head to toe in the bleached-out rock dust of the surrounding desert, so he wasn’t that worried that Jamerson would be able to pick him out amongst the rocks.  

Not yet anyway.  

Not at this distance.

Kid followed his gaze.

Jamerson was distinguishable now, as a horse and rider distorted in the mirage of the high noon heat.  From his line, and his steady pace, they could see he was tracking them from the saddle.  His head lolled forward, studying the ground.  He held his rifle at the ready, pointing it up at the cloudless sky.

“Oww! What you doing Heyes?” protested Kid, loudly.

“Keep it down will yer” spat Heyes.  “I’m supposed to be on my own remember.  You’re supposed to have ridden off …and dumped me…”

“Well …that could still happen…” spat back Kid, pulling his bloody wrist out of Heyes’ hand.

It was bleeding a lot more since Heyes had squeezed it.  

Heyes, was dabbing drops of Kids blood on his face, in an attempt to look more beaten up.

“Hush up will yer…” he said casually. “I wasn’t bleeding anymore… And we need this to look good.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh… Well that’s different… You should have said.”

His voice was dripping sarcasm.

“I didn’t realise …it was all that important... fer your plan…”

And with that, he punched Heyes in the mouth.

Heyes sprawled backwards, looking shocked.

“What did you do that fer?!” he spat through a thick, bleeding lip.

Kid shook his sore hand.  The one with the bleeding wrist.

“Just stepping up …and doing my share… Partner… fer the plan… Which by the way… You told me you already had… before I found the old soldier and this relic of a firearm.” he said, pushing Heyes back into the dust at the foot of the rock and arranging him to look all beaten up and abandoned.

“Your bleeding pretty good now Heyes… and… Your looking authentically beaten up and helpless.”

He walked backwards towards the far rocks, carefully obscuring his tracks as he went.  Heyes watched him go. The dark eyes simmered.  Scores were being counted, and stored up for later.

“Yeah? Well… thank you…” he said, much too politely, rubbing at his sore face and looking anything but grateful.

“You just be sure …to get out here …and stick that rusty canon between Jamerson’s shoulder blades… before …he decides it’s too much trouble…to try and take me in alive…. again.”

Kid smiled.  His blue eyes twinkling.  

He could hear Heyes moaning, “Apache boy!” under his breath, all the way back to the rocks. When he reached hard ground he tipped his hat to Heyes, and disappeared between two huge boulders.

---oooOOOooo---
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cac



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PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Mon May 22, 2017 10:39 am

Finders Keepers

Continuation of “A Formula for Everything”

Elizabeth smiled, watching from her hotel window as the boys rode away in a hurry after leaving the sheriff’s office. She couldn’t wait to tell Trevors that they had passed the test. She did wonder which one had thought to call her bluff that she was Harlingen’s daughter-she figured it was likely Heyes, although Kid was the one carrying the carpetbag and in the lead crossing the street to the sheriff’s office. It was the only “out” left them that they could legally take besides running, and it was risky, but they had taken it. Surely the governor would give them amnesty now.

She’d been nervous about this scheme at first, but it was so much fun she was considering trying to become a detective. Were there even female detectives? Maybe she’d be the first one. She’d been a defiant, rebellious tomboy her whole life, never really fitting in with what even Western society expected of their various types of women, and perhaps she could finally use this to her advantage. She sure wouldn’t hire that guy who played the fake deputy again though-what a stilted conversation in the hotel room! So awkward, it was like a badly written story! Ah well, Heyes and Kid were so nervous about the robbery equipment that they hadn’t seemed to notice.

It had all come about in such a funny way. She’d been in Porterville for less than a month, visiting her newlywed cousin Caroline Porter Trevors. The three of them had gotten a little tipsy one night, and Trevors had shared the sad story of the outlaws who couldn’t get back inside the law. Elizabeth chuckled remembering how her cousin had told her privately that she’d had a bit of a thing for the blond Thaddeus. She’d been offended but then so impressed when he’d dropped her after their “date” to help out his partner, and she’d thought they were such heroes defending the bank’s money against the Devil’s Hole Gang! Caroline had been shocked and then excited to learn that her new husband, Lom Trevors, had been an OUTLAW, and that the two heroes were HANNIBAL HEYES and KID CURRY. Elizabeth even thought the words in capital letters, thinking of her dramatic and somewhat naïve cousin. Caroline had insisted on Trevors coming up with a way to RESCUE them, and the next morning, the three of them had conconcted this crazy scheme to prove to the governor that given the chance, the boys would choose to stay honest, even if poor, in their pursuit of the amnesty. Trevors didn’t seem totally sold that they would make that choice, but why not tempt them? Why not test them, and if they passed, use it for their advantage? And it had worked!

Elizabeth cleared up the confusion with the sheriff when he arrived to arrest her, letter from Trevors in hand and a willingness to wait in the jail until the appropriate exchange of telegrams had occurred. They had carefully selected a smart, honest sheriff for this operation, and it paid off when he opened the cell door one hour later and released her.

She whistled as she strolled down the street. Surely the amnesty would not be far in the future, and with this success, maybe she could get started on a new career as Elizabeth Porter, lady detective.

~~~

“Heyes? You think we’ll ever get the amnesty?”

“Oh Kid, I’m sick of it. Talking about it. Planning around it. Sometimes I even dream people write stories about it, and sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t, but I’m tired of it. You know what I think? I think we should forget it. Holding that nitro, seeing the Bryant pump, feeling pushed around by the whole thing and that woman made me think…why shouldn’t we go back to what we do best?”

He looked over at Kid, both struck by the idea.

“Remember how we used to just live, not always thinking about how everything would affect the amnesty? I miss that. I miss you, shooting holsters off so you could get a drink. I miss me, letting my imagination run on with big plans. Now I’m just stuck on getting out of small messes. Kid, I want to rob a bank. Or plan on robbing a bank. I haven’t had fun in too long, you know?”

Kid was amazed. “Rob a bank, Heyes? Are you nuts?”

“Nope. But let’s do it like Robin Hood. Give it to the poor. And tell everyone about it! Would they really arrest us?”

“You bet they would!”

“Well, maybe. But it would be fun. And they wouldn’t chase us any harder than they already are, would they?”

“Well, but what if the money in the bank belongs to the poor? Then that’s kind of silly, isn’t it?”

“If they’re really that poor, they won’t have money in the bank. Right now, only rich people have money in the bank. So…let’s take it. Keep a little for ourselves, “finders-keepers” you know, and leave the rest in…barns.”

“Barns, Heyes?”

“Sure. Farmers will find it and can keep it if they want or return it. But no one can prove they stole it, so if they want to spend a little at a time, or up and move, or whatever, they can. Soon farmers all over will hope to find $1000 in their feed boxes. And everyone will know it’s Heyes and Curry who made it happen. No jury will convict us.”

“But we’re still wanted “Dead or Alive,” Heyes. It’s the “dead” part I don’t like.”

“But there’s still all kinds of people trying to kill us. This will only make us more popular, and we can’t get deader if we’re shot having fun again, can we?”

Kid rode for a bit. “You’re serious, aren’t you, Heyes?”

“Yeah. This ain’t the life we want. I think we should live the life we want, however long we live it. We’ll still be careful.”

“Barns, Heyes.”

“Yep.”

“No dynamite.”

“Nope.”

“No hold-ups.”

“Nope.”

“Just banks, in the middle of the night.”

“Yep.”

Kid rode on, then that marvelous grin spread over his face, and Heyes matched it, but there was a knowing at how it would all probably work out. The grins faded, they looked at each other, and then Heyes’ mouth twitched, and Kid drew and shot his gun into the air, whooping a bit, and they settled down to camp for the night and for Heyes to scheme.

**Acknowledgement to Rosie Annie’s story marrying Caroline to Lom. I’ve enjoyed picturing that marriage, and it’s part of regular fanon in my mind ☺
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PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Wed May 31, 2017 12:51 pm

I didn't think I would have anything to contribute for the challenge this month, but then at the last minute this popped into my head.  I hope it makes sense and is not too disjointed.

WARNING - Could be a tear-jerker.

Finders Keepers

A young man jumped from the driver’s door of his pick-up truck and ran to the opposite side.

“Can I take the blindfold off now?” his wife asked, opening the passenger door.

“Hold on a minute.”  He carefully led her across a meadow to the top of a gentle rise.  “Okay, Megan,” he said, untying her blindfold.  “You can look now.”  He waited, both literally and figuratively holding his breath, for the young woman’s response.

She said nothing, her eyes scanning the horizon.

“Well?” he prompted.

“Oh Brandon!” the young woman exclaimed.  “Are you telling me that this is…?”

“Ours?  Yep, that’s exactly what I’m telling you.  Our land.  Our home.  Can’t you just see it?”  Brandon ran to the left.  “We can put the barn here, where it’ll be sheltered from the wind.”  He ran back past Megan, grabbing her hand and dragging her along with him to the right.  “And the house over here, and…” He swept his bride off her feet and opened an imaginary door, carrying her over the threshold.  “And this’ll be the view we wake up to, each and every morning for the rest of our lives!”

“It’s so beautiful here!  It’s perfect!  The trees and the meadow, and the roll of the land.  In fact, I can’t think of anyplace so perfect.  So peaceful and qui...”  Something rumbled and rattled, growing louder as it approached.  “What’s that noise?”

Brandon smiled.  “The construction crew.  We’ll be breaking ground soon as they get here.”

***

Workers lounged in the shade of a copse of trees.  Construction equipment stood silent.  All was quiet on the future home site of the Brandon and Megan Tucker.

“I sure am sorry about this, folks.”  The foreman removed his John Deere cap and wiped his brow with the sleeve of his plaid flannel.

“Not your fault, Mr. Thomas.  Not your fault at all.”  Brandon wrapped an arm more tightly around his wife, who shivered despite the warmth of the mid-day sun.
 
“Never thought when I woke up this beautiful mornin’ that I’d be diggin’ up a body ‘fore lunch.”  The sound of an approaching vehicle caught the foreman’s attention.  “Here’s the sheriff now.  He’ll know what we got to do--if we can continue workin’ or if this poor fella we unearthed is gonna shut us down.”

***

“All right, team, let’s wrap it up.”  The forensic anthropologist brushed dirt from her hands and turned to see the young landowners approaching.

“Well?” asked Megan.  “What’s the verdict?  Are we building our home on some ancient Native American burial ground?”

“Absolutely not,” the anthropologist assured her.  “Only one body buried on your property—Mr. John Doe.  Buried with his sidearm.  Must’ve been wary of who he might meet up with in the great beyond.”

“May I?”  Brandon turned the revolver over in his hands.  “Colt Peacemaker,” he said.  

“Peacemaker my foot.  That gun brought nothing but trouble for poor Mr. Doe,” declared Megan.  

“Or kept him safe.  For all we know, Mr. Doe could have farmed this land.  Maybe he was an old cavalryman who wanted to be buried with his piece.”

“Could be,” the anthropologist nodded.  “From what little I know, the Peacemaker was pretty widely used in the late nineteenth century.   Army issued, but also used by cowboys and lawmen.  Outlaws too.  It would be pretty much impossible to figure out exactly who Mr. Doe was, or what happened to him.”

***

“Stop, Heyes.  I gotta rest.”

“Kid, you need a doctor.”

Curry shook his head.  “Please.  I just need a few minutes to catch my breath, and the horses, they gotta rest too.”

“Fine,” Heyes agreed.  “But only a few minutes.”  He dismounted and helped his partner do the same, then uncorked his canteen and handed it to him.

“Thanks,” said the Kid.  

“How are you doing?” Heyes asked.  

Kid Curry didn’t bother to answer.  The bullet had struck him in a bad spot.  He knew it, and so did Heyes.  And though he may have killed the man who called him out, well, that dead man’s bullet was going to be the death of him.  

“Got any whiskey?” the Kid asked instead.

Heyes produced a bottle and stooped to where the Kid sat.  Curry accepted it and took a long swig, then handed it to his partner who joined him in the grassy meadow.  

“It’s nice here,” the Kid remarked.  Curry leaned back on his elbows, then lowered himself onto his back, looking at the sky.  “The trees and the meadow, and the roll of the land.”

“Don’t get too comfortable, Kid.  Come on.  It’s time to go.”

“In fact, I can’t think of anyplace so perfect.  So peaceful and qui...”  


***

Megan looked away for a moment, blinking back a tear.  “But whoever Mr. Doe was, he ended up here, on our land.”

“We’ll remove the body, ma’am,” assured the anthropologist.

Brandon searched his wife’s face and the two came to an immediate, unspoken agreement.  “Do you have to take him?” he asked.  “I mean, Mr. John Doe has been resting here peacefully for who knows how long.  Seems a shame to disrupt him, well, any more than he’s already been disrupted.”

“Yes,” Megan agreed.  “Look around.  I can’t think of a more perfect place to be buried.  Can you?”

The anthropologist nodded.  “Given the historical precedent set by Mr. Doe’s original burial, I suppose I could check with the local officials regarding permits for proper permanent interment of the remains here, if that is really what you want.”

Both Megan and Brandon smiled.  “It is!”

“I’ll just take the Colt…”

“No,” Brandon objected.  “It was obviously important to Mr. Doe that his Colt be buried with him.  We may have found it, but HE is going to keep it.”

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Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
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PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Wed May 31, 2017 8:42 pm

Finders Keepers


The lathered horses snorted heavily as they climbed to the top of the ridge.  The dust-clad former outlaws gulped air as they recovered from the treacherous climb.

“Heyes, the horses aren’t gonna make it much longer.”

“I know,” Hannibal Heyes snapped and immediately regretted it.  “We won’t make it much longer either with this posse after us.  There’s only one thing to do.  If we split up…”

“We’ll confuse the posse.  If one gets captured, the other can help him escape.  I’ve heard it all before.”  Curry wiped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve.  “Just seems like bad things always happen when we separate.”

“Like when?”  Heyes took a gulp of warm water from his canteen and handled it to his partner.

“Santa Marta, for one.”  Curry reached over and took a swallow from the canteen before putting the lid on it.

“Okay, name another.”  Heyes squinted.  “On the other hand, tell me later.  That posse is catching up and we have a decision to make.  What’ll it be?”

“Separate,” the Kid said resigned.  “Where should we meet?”

“Cold Creek in a week.”

Curry grasped Heyes’ hand.  “Be safe.  Watch your back.”

“You, too, partner.”  Heyes turned in the other direction.  “One week!” he said before encouraging his mare to run.

Kid Curry kicked his gelding into a lope along the ridge before turning towards a copse of trees.  Once he reached them, he chanced to look back and saw the posse had followed him.  “Just my luck.”

Racing down a hill towards a creek, the Kid felt the hits and burning pain in his leg and shoulder before actually hearing the rifles.  He fell forward and encouraged his horse while hanging on for dear life.  The gelding ran into a wooded area as branches scraped the skin and hide of man and beast.  The creek ran through the woods and Curry reined his horse to walk upstream a long distance before coming out on the same bank as he entered.  “Hope that… confuses them,” Curry panted in pain.

The sun was setting as the Kid’s gelding made its way out of the trees.  Curry glanced around.  “No posse,” he said relieved.  “Gotta get help… before I…”  Soaked in sweat and shivering in pain, he directed the horse to a grove of trees.  Once they arrived, Kid Curry lost his last strand of consciousness.




“Gertrude, don’t be gone too long,” an older man called out to his daughter.

“I’ll be back soon, Pa.  Just gonna pick flowers for ma’s grave,” a woman about twenty and with long blonde hair in a pony-tail called back.

“She’ll like that, Gertie.”  The man gave a sad smile and said quietly, “What am I to do with our special child, Ethel?”

Gertie walked past the barn and a line of trees until she came to a field of yellow flowers.  She hummed as she picked daisies.  A horse nickered and came out of the trees on the other side of the meadow.

“She gasped in surprise.  “Where did you come from?”  Flowers forgotten, she slowly walked over to the black horse.  The gelding allowed her to rub his nose.  “My name is Gertie.  What’s yours?  I think I’ll call you Blackie because you’re black.  I live with my pa over there.  It’s just the two of us since ma died.  Where’s your rider?”

The gelding nodded his head a few times and walked back into the trees.

“Where are you going, Blackie?”  Gertie followed the horse.  

A creek ran nearby and the gelding went over to drink.  “Oh, you were thirsty.”  Gertie walked around a bush when she saw a man lying on the ground.

“Oh!” she exclaimed and ran behind a tree.  She peeked around and observed the still man.  Feeling braver, she came out of hiding and cautiously tip-toed towards the man.  “Are you sleeping?  Are you Blackie’s owner?”

She came closer and toed his boot.  “Hello?”  She noticed blood on his pants and shirt.  “Oh, you’re hurt!”  Gertie knelt.  “Are you dead like ma?”  She gently moved his head and heard a quiet moan.  Smiling, she exclaimed, “You’re alive.  Blackie, he’s alive.  You’re not doing so good.”  She sniffed.  “You don’t smell so good, either.”

Gertie untied the bandana from his neck.  “I’ll get this wet and clean you up.”  She rinsed the kerchief in the creek and wiped a layer of dirt from the face.  She went back, cleaned the cloth good and carried it back dripping wet.  “Pa said water’s important and made ma drink like this when she was sleeping like you are.”  She parted his lips and dripped water into his mouth.  “Come on, swallow.”  The man obliged and encouraged, Gertie let more water trickle into his mouth.  “Good.  Keep drinking.”

When he stopped drinking, Gertie got the bandana wet again.  “Looks like you got shot.  It isn’t proper for me to see you, but… I do need to clean the wounds.  We haven’t been proper introduced.  I’m Gertrude Black, but I’m only called that when I’m in trouble.  Pa usually calls me Gertie.  You can call me Gertie, too.  Well, now that I introduced myself, let’s see your wounds.”  Gertie unbuttoned the shirt and pulled it away from the shoulder.  “That doesn’t seem to be bleeding much now.  She cleaned it as well as she could.  “Let me turn you over to clean the over side.  Oh, there’s another wound here.”  

Later Gertie had the chest clean.  “I hope you have a shirt in your bag.”  She got up and walked over to the horse.  “Blackie, we should get that saddle off you, too.  Pa’s gonna be mad that I’m taking so long.”  Gertie led the gelding over to the man and quickly removed the saddle and gear.  She lifted the man’s shoulders and dragged him so he leaned on the saddle.  

“Oh good, there’s a jacket, a blanket and some clean shirts.  There’s a bottle in here, too.”  Gertie wrapped a shirt around the wounds, covered his chest with the jacket, and tucked the blanket around him.  “It don’t look like your leg’s bleeding much so it’ll have to wait.  I gotta get home.  You take care and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”




“Gertrude Black, where are you?” Hank yelled for his daughter.  “Gertrude!”

“Coming!”  Gertie ran passed the barn out of breath.

“Where in tarnation were you?  It’s been hours!”

“I’m sorry.”  Gertie crossed her fingers behind her back.  “I lost track of the time and fell asleep in the field.”

Hank hugged her.  “I was worried about you.  Don’t do that again, okay?”

“Okay.”

Later that evening, Gertie opened a cabinet and saw a bottle.  “What’s this for?”

“That’s alcohol and it’s good for wounds.  Why do you ask?”

“No reason.”




The next day, Gertie gathered a few things and hurried back to the hurt man.

“Hello.  I hope you rested comfortably.  I’m afraid I’ll have to cut your pants so I brought a scissors.”  Gertie knelt and felt the man’s forehead.  “Oh, you’re hot.  Let me cool you off some.”  She damped the extra shirt in the creek and rubbed the water on the head and chest.  

Taking her scissors, Gertie cut the pants by the hole caused by the bullet.  “Looks like it didn’t go in.  Pa says that bottle in your bag is good for wounds.  You must get hurt a lot to have one.”  She poured the liquor on the wounds.  The man flinched and groaned.  She cleaned the leg of blood and checked the shoulder wounds.  “They’re just bleeding a little.  I gotta get back.”




The following day, Gertie picked a bouquet of daisies.  Six men on horses galloped into the field, freezing her in fear.

“Hey, you!” shouted one of the men as they pulled up near her.  “Have you seen a man on a black horse?”

She stood there motionless.

“I said, have you seen a man with a black horse?”

Again, there was no response.

“You deaf or just stupid?”

“Lloyd, you’re scarin’ her.”  One of the men got off his horse and slowly walked towards her.  “Don’t mean to scare you, ma’am.  We’re the law and after two really bad men.  One had a chestnut horse and the other had a black one.  Have you seen them?”

Gertie barely shook her head as she stared at the man.

“Do you live nearby?”

The head nodded.

“Does someone live with you?”

Another nod.  “My pa.”

“Where’s he?”

“At the house.”

“And where’s that?” the man asked.

“Over there.”  Gertie pointed to a thin stream of smoke rising beyond the trees.

“Thank you, ma’am.”  The man mounted his horse.  “Let’s go to the house.”

The six horses trotted towards the smoke.




Hank Black heard horses and grabbed his rifle.  He stood inside the door with the weapon aimed at the men.  “What do you want?”

“We’re looking for outlaws.  One was riding a chestnut and the other a black.  Have you seen them?”

“Nope.”

“Was that your daughter in the field?”

“What did you do to her?!” Hank asked accusatory.

“Nothing.  We met her out there.  Is she okay?”

“Just a little slow-minded.”  

The man nodded.  “Well, if you see these men, they’re dangerous.  Let the sheriff know.”

Hank nodded and the men rode off.




Heyes arrived in Cold Creek a few days early.  He cleaned up and spent time in the saloon, hoping to hear news.

He ordered a beer and food at the counter and sat down in a darkened corner near a back door.  While he was eating, six trail-weary men came into the saloon.  Heyes lowered his hat and quickly finished his meal, his gun ready to draw.

The men sat at a table with a view of the street.  

“We were so close to gettin’ ‘em!”
“I can’t believe we lost the one.”
“I know I hit him – saw him fall forward.”
“Yeah, he was hit.  I saw drops of blood.”

Heyes seethed as he listened.  He swallowed the rest of his beer and slid out the back door undetected.  He mounted his horse and hurried out of town.  “Hang on, Kid.  I’m coming!”




Gertie saw her father was fixing leather in the barn, so she hurried to the hurt man.

“You still sleeping?  You must’ve been awful tired!”  She knelt beside him and felt his forehead.  “Still too warm.  I get a wet cloth to cool you.”

As Gertie gave droplets of water to the unconscious man, Blackie perked up his ears.

“Gertrude Anna Black, what do you think you’re doing?” roared Hank Black.

Gertie dropped the cloth and quickly turned.  “Pa, what are you doing here?”

“Seeing where you’ve been spending your time.”  The father came closer.  “What’s wrong with him?”

“He has wounds and been sleeping all the time.”

Hank checked the wounds and felt for a fever.  “When did you find him?”

“Been four days, I reckon.”

“What did you do to the wounds?”

“I washed them and poured his bottle of alcohol on it.  He makes a noise when you do that.”

“Looks like the bullet went through his shoulder.  This leg wound is a deep graze and probably should be stitched up.  Gotta get his fever down.”

“I’ve been dropping water in his mouth, like you did for ma, and wetting him down.  Kept him covered up, too, to avoid a chill.”

“You did good, Gertie, but you should have told me.”

“Yes, Pa.”

“He lost a lot of blood – I’m surprised he’s not dead.”  Hank stood up.  “That his horse?”

“Blackie led me to him and has been hanging around.”

“I’m going back for the wagon so we can bring him to the house and care for him.”

“I found him; can I keep him?”

“Sweetheart, you can’t keep a person like a stray animal.”




Heyes went back to the ridge where they separated.  He looked down at the route he last saw Curry take.  “You probably went towards those trees.”  He took the path and watched for signs of his partner.  

When he came to a creek, he paused.  “Knowing you, you went upstream.”  

Heyes encouraged his horse into the water and watched the bank for where the Kid may have exited.

“There’s some drops of blood.  I must be on the right trail.”




Hank and Gertie got Kid Curry comfortable in a bed.  Hank sent Gertie on a chore in the barn while he removed the torn and bloody clothes.  He washed the body, hair and cleaned the scratches.  Next, he properly bandaged the wounds after pouring more alcohol on them.

Curry moaned and flinched.

“I know that burns and I’m sorry for it, but it’s for your own good.”

Gertie came back into the house.  “I’m all done.  Oh, my, is he handsome all cleaned up.”

“Now don’t you be thinking no such thing, Gertrude.  Get some water and keep a cool cloth on his head.  No moving the covers, you hear.  He’s not decent.”

Gertie nodded.  “He don’t have no clothes on?”

“He doesn’t have any clothes on.”




Heyes zigzagged throughout the countryside looking for his partner while watching for the posse to return.

“Where are you, Kid?”

He rode into a grove of trees and jumped off his horse.  “You’ve been here!  There’s blood – too much blood – and the grass is matted down.  So where are you now?”  Heyes looked around and noticed a ribbon of smoke.




Gertie wrung out the water and put another cloth on the head of an agitated man.  “You sure are handsome.  Will you marry me someday?”

“Heyes...”

“What?” Gertie asked surprised.  “Did you say yes?  Oh, I’ll make you the best wife in the world!”




Heyes cautiously rode into the farmstead and noted Curry’s horse in the corral.

A man came out of the barn with a rifle drawn.  “What do you want?”

Heyes gave a friendly smile and slightly raised his hands.  “I’ve been looking for my friend and that looks like his horse.”

“What’s this friend look like?”

“Well, he’s about my age with curly hair and we’re about the same height.”

“Do you and your friend have a name?”

“I’m Joshua Smith and he’s Thaddeus Jones.  Have you seen him?”  Heyes lost his smile and showed his concern.

“Some men were by here the other day looking for two outlaws riding a chestnut and a black.  They were looking for you, weren’t they?”  Hank kept the rifle pointed at Heyes’ chest.

“My friend and I get mistaken for two outlaws.  Those men wanted to shoot first and then ask questions so we ran.”

“That’d explain the wounds.”

“Is Thaddeus okay?”

“Take off your gun and I’ll let you see him.”

Heyes quickly removed his gun belt and let it drop onto the ground.  “May I get down now?”

“Sure, but I don’t trust you.  I have a daughter in there.  If you hurt her in any way, you’ll have to answer to the Almighty.  Do you understand, Mr. Smith?”

“Yes, sir.”  Heyes quickly got down, removed his hat, and ran his fingers through his hair.

“You can go on in, but I’m watching you.”

Heyes entered the house and hurried to the bed when he saw Kid Curry, pale and unconscious.

“Thaddeus…”

Gertie gasped and backed away.

“This is my daughter, Gertrude.  I’m Hank… Hank Black.”

Heyes nodded to the young lady and shook Black’s hand.  “I’m much obliged that you’ve been caring for Thaddeus.  Where was he shot?”

“Gertie, go collect eggs and knock before you come back in.”

“Yes, Pa.”

Once she left, Hank lifted the blanket and explained the injuries.  “Fever seems to be breaking.  He lost a lot of blood, but the wounds are starting to heal.”

Heyes sighed with relief and felt the warm forehead.  “Mind if I care for him?”

Hank saw the polite man’s genuine concern and nodded.  “Sure.”




“Heyes…”

“Shhh… I’m right here, Thaddeus.”

Blue eyes blinked open and tried to focus.  The Kid smiled when he saw his partner.  “Where are we?”

“Hank Black’s farm.”

“Need some water.”

“Sure!”  Heyes quickly poured a glass and helped Curry drink.

“You found me.”

“Champeen tracker of southern Utah!”

Kid Curry coughed and held his shoulder.  “Ow… what happened to me?”

“You caught a few bullets, but let them pass right through you – none to dig out.”

Curry nodded sleepily.

“A little more water and I’ll let you sleep.”

“Okay.”




The Kid woke up a few hours later.  “Hey…”

“Hey yourself, Thaddeus.”

“Where are we?”

“Hank Black’s farm.  Seems that you’re engaged to his daughter, Gertie.”  Heyes smiled.

“Huh?”

“Gertie asked if you’d marry her someday and you said yes.”

“I said… I don’t remember.”

“Mr. Black is trying to explain to her that it don’t count ‘cause you’re sick.”

“What about the…”

“Haven’t seen them since I got here.  Heyes brought a glass of water.  “Have a few sips and rest some more.  Next time you wake, Gertie will have some broth ready.”




Over a week later, Heyes and a weak Curry were about to mount their horses.

“Are you sure you’re okay to ride, young man?” Hank asked.

“I am.  Appreciate all your hospitality, sir.”  The Kid looked around.  “Where’s Gertie?”

“Gertie, come on out here and say good-bye.”

Gertie came out of the house sniffing and holding a handkerchief to her eyes.

Curry gave her a quick hug.  “Thank you, Gertie.  I wouldn’t be alive if it hadn’t been for you.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“And we’ll miss you.”  The Kid turned and slowly mounted his horse with Heyes following suit.

“Thank you, again, for all your generosity, Mr. Black.”  Heyes leaned forward and shook the man’s hand.

“You boys come back this way, you’re welcome to stop by.”

Heyes and Curry turned and rode their horses away from the farm.

“Are you sure you’re okay to ride?” Heyes asked.

“You worry about stayin’ on your horse…”

“And I’ll worry about staying on mine.”

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

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Join date : 2013-01-10
Age : 21
Location : Gettysburg, PA

PostSubject: Re: May 17 - Finders Keepers   Wed May 31, 2017 8:56 pm

1883- Near a Cheyenne Indian Reservation.


Heyes and Curry found themselves in southern Montana taking separate jobs. Kid had found yet another job that required hauling mining supplies up the mountains to the mines while Heyes had the 'leisurely' job of riding with an Indian agent into the Crow and Cheyenne reservations.

They had said their see you laters in town and headed out.

Heyes met the Agent at their designated meeting spot. On his face was an uneasy look.

"Mister Smith, are you feeling alright?" Agent Knight asked.

"Huh? Oh...yeah, I'm alright." Heyes replies, trying to convince himself more than his companion.

"The Cheyenne people are generally peaceful, even to outsiders."

"W...what about the Crow?"

"Best piece of advice regarding them I can give you is not to be a coward and run off like the last guy."

Great... Heyes thinks to himself. I had to go and get mixed up with more hostile Indians...

"Mister Smith, you sure you're alright?"

"Sorry, had a bad run in with a band of Apaches a while back."

"Oh...well if you want to back out, now's the time. I won't harbor no hard feeling against you either."

"No, that's one thing about me, I find a job and keep it through to the end."

"We'll inspect the Cheyenne reservation first, then. Make sure there aren't any back room deals being done with the supplies and food that has been allocated to these people." There's a pause. "Children without parents we'll have to send to the Indian school back east, unless they are being cared for by one of the other tribeswomen."

Heyes nodded in understanding. "What all goes on at this school for Indians back east?"

"Far as I know they teach 'em to speak English, the three R's, a trade for the fellas and homemaking skills for the gals."

They rode on in silence for a while. Heyes was on guard, scanning his surrounding every few minutes. Something off to the right caught his eye.

"Mister Knight, what do you think that is there up ahead to the right?"

Knight followed Heyes' gaze. "Old discarded blankets most likely. Best check it out and make sure it's not a Death Robe."

Heyes nodded. Every now and again back in Devil's Hole someone would find the body of an elderly Indian wrapped in a fine wolf pelt. It was sad, but everyone knew better not to touch it. When they got closer Heyes could see the bundle shaking.

"I ain't an expert, but I think what ever is wrapped up in that bundle is alive."

Knight nodded and carefully dismounted. After a moments inspection he looked up.

"It's a little girl, can't be more than twelve years old."

"She hurt?" Heyes asked, concerned a child was out here all alone.

Knight shook his head. "No, she's burning up with fever though. Don't rightly know why she's this far off the reservation.... We best get her to the doctor in town. Soon her gets well the sooner we can get her back where she belongs."

With a short nod, Heyes dismounted and held Knight's horse steady while he mounted with the girl in his arms.

"Know what tribe she belongs to?" Heyes finally asked.

"Definitely Cheyenne, judging by her dress and the beadwork on it."

~<>~<>~<>~<>~

They arrived back in town a few hours later. Heyes noticed Kid standing outside the saloon and made a small nod, becconing him to follow.

Kid followed them to the hotel. "Roads weren't as bad as I thought they would be, nor were the mines as far away as I thought. How did you and Mister Knight make out?" He asked, not noticing the bundle in Knight's arms.

Heyes didn't answer right away. He dismounted and took the bundle of worn blankets from Knight while he dismounted and tied their horses to the post. He remains silent while Kid checks them into the hotel.

The clerk gave Heyes a questioning look.

"My daughter fell asleep on the way here, didn't feel like waking her up," he explained.

The clerk was skeptical, but nodded as the three went up to the room.

"Smith, Jones, get her comfortable; I'll go get the doctor."

They nodded as Knight left. About ten minutes later the Indian Affairs Agent returned with the doctor.

"Not much I can do for her," he said after examining the girl, "just make her comfortable and keep a cool compress on her forehead."

They nodded. Knight looked after the doctor. "People in this town don't take too kindly to Indians. I'll ride back out to the reservation and see if I can't find her mother... Smith, I'll still pay you for the job."

TO BE CONTINUED...

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"The only thing in life you have to earn is love, everything else you can steal." ~Hannibal Heyes
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