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 Aug 17 - Up on the Roof

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Calico

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PostSubject: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:31 am

Hello ladies all,

Not exactly late yet... though skirting the edge.

I currently have the mesters in doing work - I have no tiles on roof at moment, just tarpaulin.

SO

Put either your metaphorical hats on ... or, if you are feeling literal, hand the boys a hammer and re-watch 'Last Exit...' as you ponder:


Up On The Roof cattail





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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:55 pm

Destiny's Cycle #12...saw the challenge and "bam" this one hit me like falling off a roof.

It was a tired, dirt covered pair of outlaws that signaled the Devil’s Hole Pass as they entered. Yet, when they neared look out rock, a lanky man in a stained, deerskin, fringe shirt brandishing a Sharps rifle, barked, “What is your business here, outsiders are frowned on?”

Whoaing their horses, the pair of outlaw leaders turned their heads in unison, both brows furrowed over narrow eyes. Several sharp replies came to Hannibal Heyes’ mind, but before he could choose one, Kid Curry said, “Ledford, what are you doing here?”

The man must have been Ledford, because he stepped closer to the edge, and squinted at them, with an unsure look.
Shaking his head, Curry asked, “How can they have you on look out, when you can’t make out anything that is more than a few rods from you?”

A frown creased Ledford’s face, accenting how underfed he was, “Who the hell are you?”

“Exactly my point.” Curry replied, pushing his hat, so it fell down his back, to dangle on its stampede strings. “Kid Curry.”

“Oh!” came the sharp, surprised exclamation, the frown disappearing. “Well, hello, Kid, long time no see. Suppose that ‘d be Heyes with you?”

“It is on both accounts.” Curry looked to his partner and under his breath, said, “Sam Ledford, met him when we were riding on our own.”

Heyes nodded, looking up at the man, “You really as blind as Kid says?”

“See right fine, up close and face to face.”

“So, who put you on look out?”

“Wheat, he says, we is all to have our turn out here on the rock.”

Heyes’ mouth quirked, the dimple appearing, and throwing the scornful look his partner’s way, he growled, “and, you said he’d be fine to leave in charge.” Kicking his horse, he tugged the three extra ponies after him.

“Good to see you and I expect there will be a replacement for you, out here, right soon.” Curry called to the look out guard, gigging his horse after his partner.

Coming up the hill and around the bend, the Devil’s Hole came into sight, despite his anger, Heyes smiled, ‘feels good to be home.’

First member of his gang, he came across was Kyle, “Howdee Heyes! Mighty good to see you. Is…” the scruffy, small built man, leaned out looking behind his leader, “yup, there is, Kid.”

“Good to see you, too, Kyle,” Heyes replied, undallying the horses from his saddle horn. “Would you see to this line?”

“Whoo wee, that sure is a pretty lil’ speckled gray.”

“You can have her, she and I are not on the best of terms.”

“Why’s that?”

“Another time.” Heyes grunted, taking off his hat and shaking his bangs back, returning the battered, black hat to his head, and when he looked to Kyle, his eyes held fierceness, “Where’s Wheat?”

Shifting, Kyle watched the dust he stirred up, “Wheat in trouble?”

Through gritted teeth, Heyes growled, “Where is he?”

Kyle gulped and then quickly spit a stream of tobacco juice, “Ya only just got back.”

“I comprehend that Kyle, now where is Wheat!?”

Turning toward the hideout, the smallest member of the gang, pointed to the bunkhouse, “He, Hank, and Lobo is repairin’ shingles.”

Flicking his reins across his bay’s rump, the horse took off with a snort, galloping straight to the end of the bunkhouse, Heyes kicked the ladder leaning there to the ground.

Hearing the clatter, Wheat’s head snapped up, “Hank, go see what’s happenin’?”

“I’d rather speak to you, Wheat Carlson.” Heyes hollered, pulling his Schofield and releasing a shot in the air, that cracked and echoed off the surrounding valley. “Really, I’d like to see all your shining faces.”

Curry pulled up, a little back from his partner and with a sigh, removed his right glove, situating himself easy and ready in the saddle.

Preacher, Merkle, Kane, and Harper came up from the garden patch Preacher kept. Red and Olly emerged from the stable, Kyle meandered closer, Carl and Hardcase walked in from the creek, while a paunchy, dark haired, older man appeared in the bunkhouse door holding a broom with Hoyle just behind him. And, of course, Wheat, Lobo, and Hank peered down from where they stood up on the roof.

Curry’s eyes moved across the men, keeping count, “Where is Shields and Monahan?”

Pushing past the new, unknown gang member, Hoyle said, “They went to town.”

“What’s this all about, Heyes?” Wheat demanded,going to hook his thumbs on his holster and when he missed, he frowned; his eyes flicking to the broken tree limb his, Hank, and Lobo’s holsters were hooked on, by the corner of the roof.

“I left you in charge, ‘cause you’re always bragging on how smart you are.”

Wheat’s chest started to expand like a Banty rooster, but with a twitch of his mustache it deflated, “I’m takin’ you ain’t complimenting me.”

“No, I ain’t! What kind of addle brain leaves a blind man on guard?”

Wheat looked to Lobo, who shrugged and looked to Hank, who stammered, “Ledford’s blind?”

Coming closer, Kyle put in, “I ain’t seen ‘em run into nuthin’, he sure does well for a blind man.”

“Kyle, don’t help!” Heyes snapped. “He can’t see distance.”

Wheat replied, “he saw well enough to let you and Kid in.”

Scrunching his shoulders, Heyes moved to jerk off his hat, and feeling the weight of his revolver still in his hand, he raised it toward Wheat.

The three men’s faces, up on the roof, blanched, Hank and Lobo edging further from Wheat as he yelped, “Here now, Heyes, we ain’t ARMED!”

“I realize that and I wouldn’t shoot you, Wheat… well, maybe...no, I wouldn’t shoot you. But, if you weren’t up there, I swear, I sure as hell would use the butt of this Schofield to flatten you.”

Wheat swallowed hard, his Adams’ apple, visibly moving, “Why you so upset?”

“Explain it to him, Kid?” Heyes replied, shoving the Schofield in his holster and swinging down from the bay.

“Think you’re doing fine, partner.”

“Thanks, Kid.”

In a clipped, cheerful tone, Curry responded, “you’re welcome.” Both the tone and the wide smile were not lost on his partner, each of them doing their job of rankling Heyes a bit more.

“Wheat the prime task of a leader…” Heyes spread out his hands, gesturing to the men around them, “is to watch over his men, to guard them from harm and you…you assigned a man who can’t see distance to look out. How in
Hades is he to do this, when he can’t tell a posse from deer passing through…if he can even see that much?”

Wheat ran a hand down his sweaty, shirt front, “I see the problem now.”

Heyes snapped, “You do?!” Spreading his legs, he planted his hands on his hips, “Do you really?!?!”

“Yes.”

“What I see, is that I made a poor choice leaving you in charge during my absence.” Heyes muttered, snagging his horse’s reins and turning toward the stable yard. “Olly, go relieve Ledford.”

“Uhm, Heyes, the ladder.”

Flinging a look back, Heyes snarled,  “use your so called smarts to get you down.” His dark eyes scanned across the men on the ground, “and, that don’t include any of you assisting.” His smile appeared, a bit sinister as it grew larger, “A leader ought to be able to get himself out of a difficulty.” His gaze settling on Wheat, he coldly stated, “Let’s see you lead Hank and Lobo down.”

With a shake of his head, Curry swung his horse after Heyes, and when he got close, hopped down, “how you going to be sure, he doesn’t get…” Curry peeked toward Kyle staring up at Wheat, “….or any of the others to help him.”

The muscles around Heyes’ eyes tightened, “I don’t, that is why you’re going to watch them.”

“Me?”

Heyes nodded, walking on to the stables.

Pacing him, Curry leaned in asking, “Why me?”

“Because your head of security.”

Curry’s teeth ran quick across his lower lip, “you aren’t still holding that river crossing against me?”

“If I recall, I did say, we could cross further up and avoid the water.”

“I was right, it wasn’t that deep.”

Heyes eyes slid snakelike to his cousin, “you best keep that laughter I see on your face… inside.”

“That water didn’t hurt you none.”

“Says the man who crossed without a problem.” Heyes answered and with a snort, glanced toward the gray mare standing with one leg hitched up, relaxed. “Damn mare twisted round faster than one of them Wichita Can Can dancers and before I could snag her up, she was down, and rolling in the water like a fat pig.”

A snorting laugh burst past Curry’s lips, but seeing the look on this cousin’s face, he swallowed it, “think you might be, in a worse mood than before I suggested we take some time off.”

“Can’t imagine why.” Heyes started walking again, “Had myself a swell time in Kansas.” Flipping his reins around a paddock fence pole, he set to unsaddling his horse. “And, you can also speak with Ledford and that other new one….figure out if they are worth keeping or not.” Throwing his saddle on the fence, he removed his saddle bags, turning toward the leader’s cabin.

“While I am doing all this, what are you going to do?”

“Find myself some peace and quiet.

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Cal

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PostSubject: Up on the roof   Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:23 am

Of all the Towns

Challenge... Up on the Roof

Heyes’ mare danced in front of the way marker.  He had trouble keeping her there, obscuring the sign, as he only had use of his left hand.

His right arm was strapped heavily across his chest, under his blue grey winter coat, immobile and thankfully no longer giving him too much trouble.  Kid had pulled the shoulder back into some sort of order, but they both knew Heyes needed to see a doctor, and quick. What were the chances a tree would drop a limb like that, just as they were passing underneath it.  Luckily for Heyes, his younger cousin had a way of staying calm and dealing with stuff, even when having obscenities hurled at him by a less than grateful partner.

‘Geez, it had hurt.’

Heyes had passed out for a while and woke to the breath-constricting hug of heavy bandaging and the insistent nag from Kid to try wriggle his fingers.  All fingers wriggled on command, and now the arm and shoulder felt comfortably numb. Still, they needed to find a town and a doctor before nightfall, and he’d been so pleased to see the way marker up ahead, he’d pushed on to read it.

“Five miles… that way.  Lesbastion? Never heard of it… quite small… Hopefully too small for a jailhouse… I need a drink …and a bed… Need to get this arm looked at…”

Heyes didn’t leave any gaps for comment, he pointed the way and encouraged Kid to pass him and take the lead.

Kid slowed, giving his partner a long cool look, from the mud-spattered boot heels to the battered black hat pushed right to the back of Heyes’ head.  He said nothing, not even slowing as he passed the dancing mare, and walked his big black gelding on down the road.

He could read his partner like a book.  He didn’t have to look back to see the devilish grin he knew would be on his cousin’s face.  

Heyes jogged alongside and managed to tone down the grin to a warm smile.

“Lesbastion… sounds like a real peaceable town” he said, quickening his mare’s pace a little.

“Think I’ll take me a look at that sign” said Kid suddenly, flashing his horse around on a dime, and jogging back to the way marker.

Heyes’ shoulders dropped, and the smile slid off his face into the dirt.

“HEYES!”

Heyes’ eyes shut, he didn’t turn.  He already knew what the sign said, but he really did have need of a doctor and a bed for the night; a real one, not just a bed roll on hard ground.  Now he’d stopped to think about his arm, it was starting to trouble him again.

“HEYES? DID YOU SEE WHAT IT SAYS HERE?”

Heyes rolled his eyes skywards lip syncing the words of the sign as Kid read aloud.

“BY TOWN ORDA…NANCE, SUBJECT TO THE MAYOR’S WISHES, ALL ARM…OUR…MENTS MUST BE SUR…RENDED AT THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE ON ENTERING THE TOWN AND MAY BE RE…DEEMED UPON LEAVING.  WE ARE PROUD TO DECLARE LES…BAS…TION A NO GUN TOWN.”

Kid’s head shook from side to side, his mouth hanging open in wonder.

“A NO GUN town?  Is that even …a THING? Can you believe that?  …. HEYES?.... Can you believe THAT????”

Heyes sat his mare, quietly studying his hand as it rested on the saddle horn in front of him. A dull ache was setting into his strapped arm, and he could have sworn someone was trying to take a bullet out of his shoulder with a rusty can opener.

He breathed slowly.  There really wasn’t anything he could say to Kid, that the Kid would listen to.

Kid came back along the road to join him.  A predictable rant issued forth mostly about needing to move on to the next town.  Heyes must have been doing a much better job of hiding his discomfort up until now, than even he thought, because when Kid got up close enough to look Heyes in the face, he stopped abruptly, mid rant.

Heyes saw the blue eyes dart around and close slightly.  He watched Kid pull his slicker out of his pack and start unbuckling his rig.

“What you doing now?” he asked quietly.

Of course, he already knew the answer.

“You gotta get yourself to a doctor… now Heyes… So, take off your rig… I’ll hang back … come in to town after dark… I’ll get our guns hid real good… up on the Hotel roof like last time…”

Heyes almost laughed but shook his head. Kid had a good memory.  

They had tried that, a long time ago now, in Utah, in a no drinking, no cussing, no shooting town called Ecclesiastes.  Kid’s memory wasn’t that good perhaps.  It didn’t end well.  It’s hard to go get your guns when you have to leave town in an awful hurry, if you have to scale a three-storey building just to do it.

‘Guess them guns are still up there.’  Heyes chuckled to himself.

“No… no Kid… This time we’re gonna ride right into town… just like the law abiding, honest citizens we are… and ride right on up to the Sheriff’s office and hand in our hardware … Like a pair of Texas rangers!…”

He raised his good hand to stop the tirade, promising to burst from Kid, in its tracks.

“… AND… we’re gonna smile while we’re doing it… just like ...no outlaws ever would… then… we’ll get us a room… and you can go get me a doctor…”

He winced, cupping his sore shoulder.

Kid’s face was stony.  If he had any arguments, they died on his tongue with that wince, just as Heyes’ had known they would.  

Heyes watched as Kid’s lips moved in silent cussing.  The gun belt was re-buckled and tied, the slicker stowed, and the gelding pushed to a slow canter towards Lesbastion without another word.

Heyes followed, slowly, holding his arm tight against every bump in the trail.

---oooOOOooo---

I think this is going to be a longer story... in my head I've already met the sheriff and the Mayor... and Kid's had a nekkid rant... you know what I mean.... AND Heyes has a cunning plan.... guess I need to write some notes....quick!
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PostSubject: Uo on the Roof   Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:15 am

Up on the Roof

Song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King    

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space

On the roof it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me

Let me tell you no
When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet
I get away from the hustling crowds
And all that rat race noise down in the street
Up on the roof

On the roof's the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Oh, let's go up on the roof

At night the stars put on a show for free
And darling, you can share it all with me
I keep a-telling you
Right smack dab in the middle of town
I found a paradise that's trouble-proof
Up on the roof

So if this world starts getting you down
There's room enough for two, up on the roof
Up on the roof, everything is allright
Up on the roof, oh, come on, baby
Up on the roof

Right smack dab in the middle of town
I've found a paradise that's trouble proof (up on the roof)
And if this world starts getting you down
There's room enough for two
Up on the roof (up on the roof)
Up on the roo-oo-oof (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, baby (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, honey (up on the roof)
Everything is all right (up on the roof)


The song was made popular by The Drifters. I knew the song from a James Taylor cover version.

Carole King and James Taylor - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbasjy2_IY8

The original Drifters version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_opWg9_qI



Up On The Roof

This story is set in my Terms Universe, a few months into Kid Curry's prison sentence.

“I was so tired but I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t get my mind to settle. Lloyd’s been snoring peacefully for hours, even the baby was finally quiet. A warm breeze rustling the curtains drew me to our bedroom window. All you can see is the dull brick of the building across the narrow alley when you look out and I needed to see the stars. I had read your interview in the paper while I was nursing little Davy after dinner and I couldn’t stop thinking of Kid. So, I pushed the window all the way up to get onto the fire escape and up to the roof. I knew if Davy woke Lloyd up, Lloyd would see the open window and know where I was. You see, I sit up on the roof when I need to think things through by myself, although Lloyd’s startin’ to come up there, too, and the both of us lean back and look at the stars. It’s nice up on the roof, quiet-like compared to the hustle and bustle of Denver’s streets and when a breeze is comin’ across the roof tops on a hot summer’s night, it can seem like your very own little bit of paradise smack dab in the middle of the city. Your partner taught me that.

I leaned back against the big brick chimney, tilted my head back, and gazed up at all those stars. Someday, I’m gonna learn the names of the brightest ones. You probably know their names and the pictures they make ‘cause he did, said he learned them from you but that you knew even more. He always said you knew somethin’ ‘bout most everythin’ and what you didn’t know and wanted to, you would find a way to find out. I guess this conversation we’re having fits into the category of wantin’ to know more of why I’m here, so back to that night.

You know, Lloyd’s a good man, better that I ever imaged I would be lucky to find, given what my life was like only three years ago. I guess you know somethin’ ‘bout findin’ your life completely changed in a few years, huh? Lloyd can be funny, sweet and gentle most of the time but he can also be firm, strong and protective when he needs to be, kinda like your partner. And before you ask, yes, he knows my past and loves me anyway. He’s a teller at the Denver Mercantile and Industrial Bank, and I do realize that is kinda a joke on account of how I came to be in Denver in the first place.

Anyway, I’m sittin’ there up on the roof and rememberin’ the first time I ever climbed up on one. I was Hannah Nilsson then not Hannah Hughes, although, the Kid was one of the few people in Deadwood who knew my real name. Dora knew, of course since she’s the one who gave me my working name, Inga Jewel.  She helped me out after my folks died of the small pox on the wagon train. Charlie Utter, who was leading the wagons, didn’t want a sixteen-year-old brat around for the rest of the trip so he dumped me and my few things on Dora. Charlie kept my parents’ wagon and most of their stuff, he said as payment for looking after me after they died. The only favor he ever did me was hookin’ me up with Dora. She was decent, well not decent in the way most people think but you know what I mean, and she ran the best cathouse in Deadwood.

Even though it took you a few moments I’m surprised you remembered me, much less that my name was Inga. Back then it seemed as if you paid a lot more attention to the cards than you did to the girls. Your partner spread his attention more equally. I’ll never forget the first night up on the roof of the cathouse for as long as I live. There I was twenty years old, in the business for almost four years with nothin’ to look forward to. For some reason that night I realized all my hopes and dreams were as dead, cold and buried as my folks. I wanted to get away from the smoke, the smells, the whiskey and beers, and the men. I felt that I was gonna just cry and cry and never stop inside.

It was late when I came down the stairs from serving in the private party room and that night I was thankful that all I served was the drinks. The Devil’s Hole Gang were hoorahin’ at Dora’s after a job. I spotted you playing cards, and wining, as usual. Wheat and Lobo were at your table but I didn’t see Kid Curry. So, I looked around and there he was, leanin’ against the bar, watchin’ the table and the room like he used to do. He spotted me and he knew right away that I needed a friend. For a man who revealed so little of himself, he was real good at readin’ people. I guess he’d have to be or he wouldn’t be alive.

He went over to your table, leaned over and spoke quietly to the three of you. I could see Lobo and Wheat and they both nodded and smirked but when you turned around you didn’t look happy. I asked Kid later about that and he told me that you didn’t like him gettin’ too attached to any particular girl, for safety reasons. It wasn’t like that, Heyes. We might have seen each other only when the Devil’s Hole Gang was in the area but Kid was important to me more as a friend than a lover or a customer, one of the few, girl or guy, who took the time to know the real me. He talked with me and would listen to what I had to say like I meant somethin’. Believe me, that’s rare.

After we took care of business, only it was never only business with him, he was holding me in his arms and he asked me what was wrong.  He was being so gentle and tender and seemed to genuinely care that I just broke down and cried out my problems. And then…then he rolled out of bed, put on his pants and gun belt, tucked me into my robe and took me by the hand over to the window. He climbed out of the window onto the railing that ran along the narrow second story balcony and dragged me up with him and the next thing I know he was boosting me up onto the roof before pulling himself up right beside me. At first I was afraid but the roof was flat and it was an easy reach from the railing. With practice it became as simple as pie to get on up there.

Kid told me how when he needed to think things through that he went off to target shoot or clean his gun. I remember looking at him funny and startin’ to smile as I was busy drying my face with the sleeve of my robe. I think I told him I didn’t even own a gun so that wasn’t gonna help. We both laughed at that. No, he wasn’t sayin’ I should get a gun. Kid explained that sometimes just being outside above all the people and their problems, looking at the show nature put on every day or night can help a body find peace, even for just a little while; even the air felt easier to breath. It makes you realize that you’re just one little piece of this whole wide world and your problems, just for a little while, don’t feel so important.

I was leaning against him with his arms wrapped around me, feelin’ safe and not so lonely, although, I knew he would be gone by dawn. I’m ashamed by the fact that I blurted out he couldn’t possibly know what it felt like to be alone and trapped with no way out, to be without a future. Kid got real quiet then. He just hugged me a little tighter as we both stared up at the sky for a long time.

We finally got down from the roof and back into my room. It was just at the time when the horizon starts to turn rosy gold. Kid got dressed all the way and then your partner, Heyes, Kid Curry, changed my life. The next thing I know he takes my hand into his and closes my fingers on a fat roll of bills. He always paid generously for my time no matter how many times I’ve told him that it wasn’t necessary but this was different. It was twelve hundred dollars, Heyes. He said I should go to a city, and not Rapid City but a bigger growing city like Denver. I should find a boarding house in the respectable part of town. There would be more opportunities for other type of jobs I could do and no one would have to know my past. I had some respectable clothes, could read and write, I just needed a second chance that he wanted me to have. He added that he didn’t need the money, more would be comin’ soon enough and, besides, you had been winning big at the poker game.

Of course, I protested. The Kid drew me close, kissed me good bye then turned his head and put his mouth close to my ear, like he was telling a secret. I guess what he said next probably was the most personal thing he ever said to me, maybe to any of his girls he musta had around the places you hung about. He whispered, ‘Hannah, I’m not alone. I’m lucky, I have Heyes. You’re wrong, though, I do know what it’s like to be trapped by bad luck and bad choices with no future to speak of. I’m a thief and a gunman, the world isn’t kind to either. If I knew a way out, I’d take it ‘cause I’m going nowhere fast. Maybe I'm offering you a chance, please take it.’ Then he slipped out the door. I never saw Kid Curry again. The Devil’s Hole Gang left a couple of hours afterwards.

A few weeks later I took a stage going west and found my way to Denver. I did find a respectable boarding house. I got a job servin’ meals at a cafe instead of drinks at a saloon or a bordello. I met Lloyd Hughes who became a regular customer, eventually married him. We have a son and a life to look forward to.  A few months back when I read about your amnesty, I was so happy but I couldn’t stop the tears when I got to the part about Kid going to prison for the rest of his life. Even Lloyd, who has no love lost for bank robbers, doesn’t think he deserves that fate.

Heyes, you asked why I came and after listening to my story I hope you understand why I need to be here. In your latest interview in the paper you mentioned that you are trying to get Kid a pardon. Seein’ on what you named your agency I’m guessin’ you think there’s a chance. I want to help. Please, tell me what I can do.”

“Hannah, thank you for coming. You can help. You can write a character affidavit that  the Kid’s attorney will need to submit with the pardon application. I’ll help you.”


Notes:

Dora Du Fran
Dora preferred having pretty girls work in her brothel, but the selection in that part of the west was extremely limited. She usually did, however, demand that her girls practice good hygiene and dress well. She picked up several girls who arrived in Deadwood via the wagon train led by Charlie Utter. From time to time, Old West personality Martha Jane Burke (Calamity Jane, 1852–1903) was in her employ. Dora's main competition in Deadwood was Madam Mollie Johnson. Dora coined the term "cathouse" after having Charlie Utter bring her a wagon of cats for her Deadwood brothel[
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_DuFran


Last edited by nm131 on Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:09 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:32 pm

I posted a fun little piece that I wrote a long time ago in the overspill area. It fit the "Up on the Roof" challenge so well that I couldn't resist. Hope you enjoy.

http://asjfanfic.forumotion.com/t194-challenge-overspill-area-stories-not-for-polling#11298

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PostSubject: Up on the Roof   Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:06 pm

   
Blackburn

Heyes raked in another respectable, but not overly large pot.  He glanced over to his cousin, leaning on the bar, chatting up one of the prettier girls, and received an answering look that Curry too was ready to call it a night.  It wasn’t that either of them noticed a questionable situation.  It was that they were just both bored.

“Well, boys, I think I’m going to turn in.”  Heyes smiled at his fellow poker players, gathered his winnings, and headed towards towards the bar.

Suddenly Curry’s face changed.  The amiable drifter with the sun kissed curls was replaced by the gunslinger with the ice-cold eyes. Curry forcibly turned Heyes with him away from the entrance.

“It’s him, Heyes.  Kendrick.”

“The bounty hunter?”

“Yup.”  Curry put his arm back around the pretty saloon girl.  “Maisy, darlin’, is there a back door outta here?” he whispered, with his heart stopping smile on his face.

“Of course, sweetheart.  Wouldn’t be able to stay in business otherwise.”

Kid gave her a quick kiss and the boys hurried on their way towards the livery stable.


After laying down a few false trails, Heyes led them far up into the hills, not stopping except to water and rest the horses.

After two days with no sign of Kendrick, Curry decided that Heyes had finally settled down enough to be amenable to questions about the Kid’s number one priority.

“Heyes.”

“Hmm…Yeah, Kid?”  Hannibal Heyes was still trying to figure out how they had let a bounty hunter almost catch them.

“Heyes, you aren’t going to be happy about this…”

“Kid, I’ve not been happy for a couple days now.”

“Any idea where we are?  I’ve not been up in these hills before, but haven’t you?”

“Yeah, quite a while ago.  When I ran with Plummer.”

“Any towns around?”

“Towns?  What do you want a town for?”  Heyes was getting agitated again.

“We didn’t have time to get any supplies before we hurried out of Benton.”

“Don’t tell me you are hungry!”

Curry sighed and they rode along in silence for a while.

Heyes finally looked over at his cousin, who was staring straight ahead with a grim look.

“I hate to admit it, Kid, but I’m actually hungry too.”

Kid Curry didn’t look back, but relaxed a bit.

Heyes pulled up his horse at the top of the ridge and looked over the vista.  “I think this is where Ki Blackburn settled.”

He looked around again.  “We was running from a posse out of Mortonville, and came across a high valley.  Blackburn said he’d settle it one day.  He was married already, with a couple of kids.”

The boys let the horses pick their way down from the ridge, and rode into a clearing.  Suddenly a very familiar sound echoed through the trees.  At least one rifle was now pointed at them.

They stopped their horses, and raised their hands.  Heyes started his usual banter.

“Howdy there!  Don’t know who you all think we are, but we have those kind of faces, that everybody thinks they’ve seen before…”

“Be still!”  A gravelly voice commanded from the shadows.  “Toss your guns behind you.  One at a time.  You in the brown hat first.”  The Kid tossed his gun.

“Now you in the black hat.”  Heyes’ gun followed.  His eyes slid towards the trees from which the voice came, and then back forward.  “Mister, we don’t mean any harm…”

A rifle shot whizzed above their heads, but just by a few inches.

“Another word and the next shot goes six inches lower.”

The Kid glanced at Heyes and he closed his mouth.

“Now, you in the brown hat get off your horse and kneel in front of it with your hands on your head.”  Curry complied.

“You with the big mouth, get down and do the same.  Another word and this here rifle will make certain you don’t talk no more.”

Heyes’ eyes and mouth turned hard, but he also carefully got off his horse and knelt by the Kid, hands on his head. They heard rustling from the trees behind them.  Heyes started to turn but met the Kid’s eyes and turned back to face forward.

“Well, at least one of you is smart.”  The boys heard their horses being led back into the trees.  

“Brown hat, hands behind your back.”  The Kid complied and his hands were bound.

“Now you smart one.  No tricks.”  Heyes slowly lowered his hands from his head and put them behind his back.

This done, two young men came around into their field of vision.  Both were dark haired and slight.  One was very young, and the other looked barely a grown man.  Since they were still pointing rifles at the boys, neither Curry or Heyes relaxed.

Heyes attempted to smile, and started to speak, but the older of the two pointed his rifle directly at him.

“Don’t’cha know how to keep your trap shut?”  Curry rolled his eyes.

“Micah, set your gun over yonder and then help them to their feet.”  He stared into the boys’ eyes.  “That earlier shot wasn’t a miss.”

They were guided into the trees, with a rifle at their backs, and the younger boy, Micah, it seemed, leading their horses.  

They continued into the forest for about half an hour.  They had exchanged a couple glances, but decided it would be best to go along.

They came into another clearing that held a cabin and several outbuildings.  From the main cabin door, another rifle barrel showed.  Micah remained at their backs, and the other young man came around, being careful to keep out of the line of sight of the rifle.

“You, talking man.  Talk.  Why’re you here?”  He glared at Heyes, who cleared this throat and put on his best Hannibal Heyes smile, complete with dimple.

“Thank you kindly for letting us explain.  Like I was trying to tell you earlier, whoever you think we might be, I’m sure we’re not.”  He paused to see how his explanation we being accepted.  The young man just scowled more.  “Well, to be completely honest…”  The rifle raised to Heyes’ eye level, but he forged on.  “We were invited to leave the last town because they thought we was cheatin’ at poker.  O’course we weren’t, but that don’t matter if they think you are.  We thought we’d just take a nice ride up in these hills.  Now, if you’d just have let us explain earlier…”

The rifle came a bit closer to Heyes’ face, and he and the Kid tensed.

“Sheesh, you can talk a blue streak.”  The young man paused.  “How much of that hogwash is true?”

Heyes smiled a crooked smile.  “Most of it.”  He looked the young man in the eyes. “We don’t mean you all any harm.” His eyes were flinty, but trying to be friendly.

“What’cha names?”

“I’m Joshua Smith and this here’s Thaddeus Jones.”

The young man scoffed.  “Smith?  And Jones?  You want me to believe that?”

Heyes tried to look slighted, but couldn’t quite pull it off.  “You know there are lots of folks around named Smith and Jones.  We just happen to be two of them.”  He looked around.  “You know, I might know one of your neighbors.  I used to have a friend named Zedekiah Blackburn…”

The rifle went back into Heyes’ face, and the tension level skyrocketed.

“How do you know Zedekiah Blackburn?” the young man demanded.

Heyes faltered, “Ah…I used to…um…work with him.  But it was years ago.”  He looked into the young man’s eyes, and saw knowledge there of what kind of work Ki Blackburn used to do.  “My friend and I’ve left that kind of work, a few years ago now.”

“What do y’all do now?”  

The Heyes smile came back again.  “Anything that’s honest, and not too hard on the back.”

The young man stared at Heyes, and then the Kid, obviously trying to decide whether to believe them or not.

At that moment, the Kid’s stomach grumbled.

A woman’s voice came out of the cabin.  “Teddie.”

“Hush now Mirabelle.”

“Teddie, cain’t hurt to feed them, if’n we keep their guns and horses.  What else you goin’ to do with them?”  The woman’s voice became hard.

The young man, Teddie, sighed, and looked at the boys.  “You gonna give us trouble, if’n we untie you?”  He stared harshly at them.  He gestured towards the woman in the cabin.  “Belle’s better with a rifle than I am.”

Heyes smiled back.  “We won’t cause any trouble.”  He nodded towards the Kid.  “My friend here’s not gonna want to do anything until he eats.”

The young woman took a couple steps out of the door. Two youngsters peered around her skirts.  “Tad, Emma, ya’all go in and set the table.  Teddie, probably time to untie them.”  

Teddie turned towards his younger brother.  “Micah, take the horses to the barn.  Lock up their guns.”  He turned back towards the boys, gesturing toward the cabin.  He still held the rifle.


Dinner was tense, but satisfying. The Kid had cleared his plate before anyone else was half done.

Heyes tried to look around the cabin without looking like he was looking around.  “Your folks around?  Or in town maybe?”

“Why you askin’?” Teddie tensed and picked up his rifle.

Heyes lifted his hands and the Kid stilled.  “No reason,” he said as calmly as he could.  He met Teddie’s eyes.  “You just seem to be a bit young to be out here by yourselves.”

“Our parents are in town and we expect them back soon.”

“Teddie,” Mirabelle started.

“Hush, Belle.”

“What we gonna do?” she asked.  “Ain’t no reason to … take care of them like the last fellahs.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged an alarmed glance.

“Now, folks, we’re right grateful for the meal, but if we’re causing you any problem, we can ride out of here.  Right now.”  Heyes’ voice had started out conciliatory, but ended harsher than it had started.

“You said you knew Ki Blackburn.”  Teddie still had the rifle in his hands.

“Yeah, I did,” Heyes answered, looking calmly into Teddie’s eyes. “Until Plummer disappeared.  I’ve not seen Ki Blackburn since then.  Have you?”

“You all riding with another gang now?” Teddie continued.

“No, we’re not,” the Kid replied.

“You all need some work done here?” Heyes asked.

“The roof needs repairs,” Mirabelle stated.  Teddie glared at her

“We ain’t the best carpenters, but we can fix a roof,” Curry replied, and smiled.

Heyes grimaced, thinking about soon to be sore thumbs.


Teddie was still very wary of the boys, but the rest of the family slowly warmed up to them.  They did not have any rifles shoved into their faces, but the firearms were always present.  Their guns were still locked away in the barn.  This did not make the Kid very happy, and Heyes even less so, but they did not push the issue.

After a few smashed fingers, Teddie learned that the boys were not lying when they had said they were not the best with a hammer.  He put them to work splitting shakes and hauling them up the ladder.  Teddie figured with the hammer in his hand, and his six gun on his hip, the boys didn’t offer any threat, with their arms full of shingles, even when one of them was wielding an ax.  Mirabelle still kept her rifle handy.

After hauling up the latest load of shingles, Heyes had stopped to wipe his forearm across his brow, and looked at the view the rooftop afforded.  He saw the clearing where corn was growing, the meadow for hay, and where they had their summer garden.  Otherwise, trees covered the hilltop, except for one more small clearing.  He squinted, not certain he saw what he thought.

“Um … Teddie?”  Heyes turned towards the young man, who was rhythmically applying shingles.

“What Joshua?” Teddie’s eyes were still cold, but his voice was neutral.

“When did you say your parents were coming back?”

“Couple days.”

Heyes held Teddie’s eyes but the younger man did not flinch.

“Well, I best get some more of those shingles that Thaddeus is splitting.”  He presented Teddie with one of his wide smiles and headed back down the ladder.

“Kid, there’s a clearing I saw from the roof, that I want to check out.”

“Heyes, you know that’s just gonna cause trouble.”  The Kid kept picking up wood scraps for the kindling barrel.

“Uh, huh,” Heyes nodded.  “If I’m not back fairly quickly, or if Teddie comes after me …”

“Yeah, Heyes, I know.  I’ll trail behind.”

Heyes nodded to his cousin, and slipped into the tree line without attracting any attention.  He walked through the pines in the direction of the small clearing. The trees opened up, and he stopped.  It was what he had thought.

He slowly proceeded into the clearing, stopping by the first grave.  It looked to have been there for quite a while.  ISABELLE BLACKBURN, Beloved Wife and Mother… Heyes looked at the dates.  She had passed a few years ago.  He walked to the newer grave.  ZEDEKIAH BLACKBURN.  Heyes slowly closed his eyes after he had read the dates.  It had not yet been a year.

“Whatcha doin’ out here?”

Heyes spun, pulling his gun from his back waistband where it had been hidden.  Facing Teddie, he saw a sixgun aimed straight at his heart.  He held his hand out to his side.

“How’d you get them back?”  Teddie’s eyes were dark with emotion.

Heyes smiled slowly, but his eyes remained still.  “That lock is kinda old.”

“How long’ve you had them?”

“Couple of days.”

“Oh.”  Teddie looked thoughtful, and lowered his gun, when a voice came from the trees.

“I’d put that gun down, if I were you, Teddie.”

Heyes saw the indecision in the young man’s eyes, and dropped his gun to the ground.  “I’d do what Thaddeus says, Teddie.  He usually hits what he aims at, and I’d really like it if none of us ended up shot today.”

Teddie’s face became hard, but he dropped his gun, and raised his hands.  He turned as he saw Heyes’ eyes meet the Kid’s, as he stepped out of the trees, his Colt pointed steadily at Teddie.

“Why didn’t’cha leave?”

“We weren’t done with the roof.”

Teddie looked towards his parents’ graves.

“What happened, Teddie?” Heyes asked quietly.

“Momma died not long after Tad was born.”  Teddie paused.  His eyes became hard.  “Pa was killed when some other boys he had rode with showed up.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a harsh glance.  “They killed him?”

Teddie nodded and swallowed.  “Pa was drunk a lot after Momma died.  He was passed out when they came.  They wanted money, but Pa told them we didn’t have any.  They strung him up and shot him.”  Teddie turned away.

“We’re so sorry, Teddie,” the Kid said quietly.  He looked towards Heyes.

“What happened to the men?” Heyes asked.

“We hauled them off and buried them.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a startled glance.

“I’m assuming they were dead first?” Heyes queried.

Teddie nodded, looked down, and then met Heyes’ eyes with a cold glittering look, and deep sorrow in his eyes.  “After they killed Pa, they went after Mirabelle.  And Micah.  Couldn’t let that happen.”

Heyes and the Kid exchanged an intense look.

“I’d been shot and knocked out, but I came to when Belle started screaming.”  Tears started streaming down Teddie’s face, but his voice was still firm.  “Found Pa’s gun.  I wasn’t really thinkin’ at that point.”

Heyes started to put a hand on Teddie’s shoulder, but he flinched.

“Thaddeus and I will go back and finish cleanin’ up.”  Heyes looked at Teddie.

“I’ll follow in just a bit.”  He bowed his head.

Dinner was quiet that night until Tad asked why everyone wasn’t talking.  Heyes started up a tale about a horse he had owned and soon had the younger children laughing.

After dinner, Heyes and Curry sat down on the porch.  Teddie had done a final perimeter check of the buildings, and was walking back toward the house, rifle on his shoulder.  He sat on the steps of the porch, looking off into the trees and the canopy of stars above them.

“It ain’t an easy thing,” Curry said quietly.  “To find peace in your soul after killing a man.”

“I’m fine.”  Teddie was still staring off into the trees.

“No, you ain’t,” the Kid shook his head.  “But it’ll come.”

Teddie half turned towards him.  “You think it’s okay to kill?”

“No,” Curry shook his head.  “But sometimes you get yourself in a place where that’s the only way out.  Would’ve been best not to get there, but we don’t always have that much control over our lives.”

Teddie looked at Curry, then at Heyes.  “You’ve killed?”

“Yes.”  Teddie could see the pain in the Kid’s face.  “It wasn’t my first choice, but it happened.  I had to accept that it was the decision I made.”

Teddie looked at Curry and nodded.  It was quiet for a while, with the evening wind blowing gently around the clearing.  He then looked at Heyes.  “And you?”

“I’ve not pulled the trigger on a gun, and killed someone,” Heyes said softly.  “Sometimes decisions are just as deadly, in other ways.”

Teddie nodded again.  “I think Pa sometimes felt that way about Momma.  Doctor had said she shouldn’t have any more children, but well, another one came.”

“It’s easy to let the darkness come, but you need to choose different,” Heyes said.  “You just gotta continue to have faith.”




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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:58 pm

This is the first time I've done a sequel from last month's challenge but as that was so short and this seemed to fit right in I hope you will forgive me. This is still a short piece and I apologise for not having read anyone else's challenge yet. It's been a very busy summer.
Enough of me prattling on...the challenge.

Up on the Roof
By Maz McCoy
Hannibal Heyes stared at the blood stained water in the bowl Preacher carried as the he stepped to one side allowing the outlaw leader access to the bedroom.
“How bad?” Heyes asked, not meeting Preacher’s gaze.
“Bullet to the shoulder,” Preacher stated by way of an explanation.
Heyes entered the room. Kid Curry lay on the bed, the blankets pulled up to his waist. A bandage was wrapped across his left shoulder, the centre of it already stained with blood. Kid was asleep or unconscious, Heyes did not know which. He moved to the end of the bed and rested his hands on the bed frame, studying his friend.
“What happened?”
Preacher moved back into the room and placed the bowl on the nightstand. “Not sure exactly. He was slumped over his horse when he rode in. Lost a lot of blood. Kyle and Lobo got him down, carried him in here. He kept losing consciousness but he was mutterin’.”
Heyes looked up. “What? What did he say?”
“Said they were up on the roof.
Heyes’ brow furrowed. “Who?”
“Don’t know but he said ‘Waitin’ for them’ and then he kept repeating ‘Up on the roof’.”
Heyes looked back at his injured partner. “He was ambushed.”
“I don’t think so.”
Heyes’ head snapped up, anger in his eyes. “Oh, you don’t think he walked into a trap?”
“Not one meant for him,” Preacher replied and watched as Heyes’ expression changed as he processed the idea.
“What makes you say that?”
“Kid went down there alone but he repeated that they were waiting for ‘them’ not ‘him’. I think whoever was on the roof was waiting for someone else and…”
“What?”
“Kid got caught in the crossfire or…”
“Or?”
“Or he did what Kid Curry does and got involved.”
Heyes looked back at the wounded man, blond hair plastered by sweat to his forehead.  “Yeah, he does tend to do that.”
Preacher picked up the bowl.
“How bad’s he hurt?” Heyes asked.
“Wound wasn’t pretty but I got the bullet out. It’s clean and stitched up. All I can do for now.”
“Thanks, Preacher.”
“He’s gonna be out for some time, Heyes, why don’t you get cleaned up? I’ll get Kyle to make you some coffee.”
“I can make my own.”
“Yeah, but I only have time to treat one sick man.”
Before Heyes could reply to that barb about his coffee, Preacher left the room. Heyes’ gaze drifted to a pile of clothes on the chair beside the door. Kid’s favourite blue shirt lay on top. It was heavily stained dark red. Heyes rested his head on the bedframe. “What the hell happened this time?” he asked knowing full well his friend could not answer.

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



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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:01 am

Maybe a missing scene from Wickenburg....

Bang. “Ow!” Kid vigorously shook his hand, trying to change the sensation of his throbbing thumb. But it was no use. He’d hit it too many times over the recent days, working on the new mercantile roof with Heyes.

Heyes, meanwhile, continued his humming with random words thrown in: “Up on the rooftop, reindeer pause, hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmmm Santa Claus.”

Kid snapped, “Housetop, Joshua, not rooftop. And would you either sing the whole song or just shut up?”

Heyes was just warming up. “Hmmmm hmmm hmmm oh ho ho! Who wouldn’t go? Hmm hmm hmm, who wouldn’t go-o?” His mouth crooked to one side, barely flashing a dimple, but he otherwise ignored the Kid.

It was nearly lunchtime, and Kid was hungry. It was August, not December. He was hot. His thumb hurt, he was tired of Heyes’ singing, and so when he slammed the hammer down and rose to his feet, his normally agile body slipped a bit on the beam, and he crashed to the ground below.

~~~

Kid moaned. He was flat on his back, sort of oddly itchy, his head hurt, and things were quite weird. He heard a repetitive “swoosh” sound, lots of little kids making little-kid noises, and…birds? Seagulls? What would they be doing in Wickenburg, far from any river? He turned his head away from the bright sun overhead and opened his eyes. Whoa! Naked women! Well, nearly naked women! He abruptly sat up, then closed his eyes and moaned again, head spinning. But…naked women?

He peeked through one eye carefully. Three women, laying on their bellies, strings of different colors tied in a bow on their backs, and triangles of cloth barely covering their bottoms. On towels, on sand. Asleep. No one really noticing them!! What?! He opened the other eye and looked around. Giant umbrellas scattered here and there, lots of little kids, also barely covered! Men with just cut-off long-johns! And more women in their underthings! And the “swoosh” sound was the waves on the largest beach he’d ever seen! Holy cow.

Stunned, Kid Curry twisted and looked all the way around. Behind him there was a wood boardwalk with what looked like stores all along it. Music? That awful racket was music? There was a dancing skeleton dressed in a suit singing something like “I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride. I’m wanted…dead or alive!” But the sign said “Haunted Golf.” Steel horse?

He kept looking, and he saw a sign over one store that said, “Ocean City, New Jersey.” NEW JERSEY?

Another nearly-naked girl walked by, distracting him from the sign, smiling at him. He started to feel…uncomfortable, looked down, and he too was nearly naked! And he wasn’t wearing no half-cut-off long johns! No, he was wearing just a rubbery tight thing that had “Speedo” written on it! What the heck?! He flushed and pulled the towel under him over himself. It’s one thing for a man to visit a woman upstairs, but it’s another thing altogether for a man to be nearly naked with all these people! And then! He realized that he was also truly “nekkid”-no gun, no gunbelt! Just this Speedo thing! He glanced around to see if anyone had noticed his situation, but people were just laying on the sand, building things in the sand, sleeping, eating, swimming. Well. He sat there for a minute, adjusting to this unusual circumstance. Maybe he was dreaming.

Another two girls walked by. He grinned. They grinned back and sat down with the girls who had been sleeping next to him. They woke them up and opened one of the two big white boxes that said “Manco & Manco.” They pulled out big triangles of bread with tomato sauce and cheese? Cheese? on top. Kid suddenly remembered that it was lunchtime back in Wickenburg, but here he was in New Jersey, no money, just this Speedo and a towel. Well.  No Heyes here to mess things up. He put on his best grin, and twenty minutes later he had a full belly and some new friends.

The only thing was, the girls had playfully made him promise to get his picture made with them in order to share the pizza. They said that they were going to “Old-Timey Photos” but needed a man to really make the picture awesome. They laughed every time he talked and said his accent was just perfect. So after lunch he self-consciously walked with them up to the boardwalk. And there were pages of wanted posters with people wearing funny Western clothes all over the walls! And a bar! But it was fake! And guns everywhere, but they were fake too! The girls were putting on saloon girl dresses and told him that he should be a gunslinger, that they were going to make a wanted poster with him in the middle and the five of them all around him in the fake bar. Alarmed, Kid denied that he was a gunslinger. He was just a drifter, doing construction! They laughed and gave him a pile of clothes.

The clothes were ridiculous, as was the gun. After the pictures, they gave him a copy for him to keep, and then he was back in just the Speedo, and they waved goodbye and walked away.

It was too much. His head had started throbbing again, and he just wanted to lay down. So he went back to the beach, lay down on the towel, and closed his eyes.
~~~

“Thaddeus! Thaddeus, wake up! Look at me! Are you OK?” Heyes smacked him none too gently on the face, trying to rouse him.

Kid moaned. He was flat on his back, itchy from the sawdust beneath him, his head still hurt, and things were all too familiar.

~~~
Note: “Up on the Housetop” was first published in 1864.
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Cornelia May

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:20 am

Unfortunately no bunny's hopped for me this month expect next month's in record time.

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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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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:54 pm

It's been awhile since I last visited you all.  I hope all is well with you.  I thought it might be fun to write a story using some authentic westernisms.  See if you can decipher this.


Two tuckered out horses kicked up small puffs of dust as they slowly jogged down the nearly deserted main street of Hopeless, Montana.  With hats pulled down low, the riders guided the animals to a crude hitching rail in front of a thoroughly dilapidated building.  An askew sign dangled from frayed ropes announcing the Bent Elbow Saloon.  As one, the men dismounted and secured their horses before climbing rickety steps and pushing through a heavy oak door.  Looks of surprise leapt to the men’s faces as they took note of the boisterous crowd inside.  The gloomy room was crammed full of mismatched, homemade furniture and every seat and bit of floor space was occupied by an unwashed body judging by the close, foul air that assaulted the newcomers’ noses.  Frowsy barmaids held trays over their heads and shoved their way through groping hands to deliver over-filled beer mugs to tables.

The dark-haired man glanced at his blond partner before roughly shouldering his way through the throng.  It was slow going but the two men were determined to belly up to the bar and, after stepping on multiple toes, elbowing ribs and trading plentiful curses or apologies, the two men carved a path through flesh eventually arriving at a rough planked bar.  A harried, sweat-stained man poured drinks, slopping beer out of a pitcher into a line of empty glasses already set up along the length of the bar.  Eager hands snatched the libations then disappeared into the crowd as more men surged forward.  When he reached the light and dark-haired partners, the bartender tilted the pitcher towards their empty glasses but a gloved hand shot out and gripped his wrist.  He glared up into ice-cold blue eyes and said, “If you ain’t tipplin’, get the hell out.”

A grim smirk appeared on the dark-haired man’s face.  “Friendly sort, ain’t you?”

“I ain’t got time to be friendly.”

The blond’s grip tightened as the man tried to move past them.  “We don’t want beer.  Give us a pair of overalls.”

“Beer’s free.  Old Henry struck a vein today.”

“I’m real tickled for Henry but we want two whiskeys,” growled the blond.

“Show me your chink.  I ain’t havin’ no one shoot the crow in this boodle.”  He glanced at the unruly crowd and shook his head.

The dark man with the fancy, silver-studded black hat fished out two bits and a twenty dollar bill.  He tossed the coin down on the counter, but held onto the bill.  “We’re paying customers.  Are you Bronc Hardy?”

The man’s bushy eyebrows snapped together with consternation, but his eyes hungrily locked onto the cash while his hand pocketed the change.  “Who’s askin’?”

“Rembacker.  This here’s Hotchkiss,” Heyes nodded towards Kid Curry.  “We’re friends of Wheat Carlson.”

The storm clouds lifted from the man’s visage and a filthy, gap-toothed smile lit his face.  “That old owl-hoot!  I ain’t heard that name in a coon’s age.  Figured someone would’ve made buzzard food outta him by now.  Man’s as crooked as a Virginia fence. ”

The Kid grinned back at Bronc.  “Guess you really do know Wheat.”

“We need some information and we’re willing to pay,” said Heyes, waving the twenty.

“Is there somewhere we can talk, private-like?” asked Curry.  

Bronc nodded and yelled out to a scrawny man collecting empty mugs.  “Delbert, take over for me!  Sally Mae, make sure you tally every one of those drinks.”  A chubby, red-headed gal nodded back at him.  Bronc untied his stained apron and stuffed it into his back pants pocket.  The strings trailed down the back of his leg.  “This way, gents.”  He led Heyes and the Kid past an unlit woodstove at the rear of the room and out the back door of the saloon.  Bronc climbed a set of worn stairs that led to a second floor balcony where he stopped and turned to them.  A row of windows cast a soft glow onto his back and through the dirty panes the Kid could see and, more importantly, hear, a different kind of business being conducted.  

“You got somewhere a little more private than this?” asked Heyes.

Grinning, Bronc said, “Must be real special information if’n you want to keep that dry.”

“Ain’t a secret if everyone hears it,” replied Curry.

“All right.  I’ll take you to my private office up on the roof.”  Bronc walked to the end of the balcony where a ladder stood propped up against an overhanging eave.  He scrambled up the worn rungs with an agility belied by his girth.  Heyes followed and then the Kid.  On the flat roof they found a scarred table surrounded by two mended chairs and a couple of overturned slop buckets placed next to the stovepipe from downstairs.  When a fire was lit down in the saloon, the pipe would provide welcome warmth.  A corked bottle of whiskey and a deck of dog-eared cards sat in the center of the table.  Sliding into a chair, Bronc seized the bottle and yanked out the cork with his teeth.  He took a long pull and held the bottle out to the Kid.  “This is the good stuff, not that sheepherder’s delight I’d have poured you downstairs.”

Curry took a drink and smiled, nodding his agreement to the quality of the booze as he passed the bottle to Heyes.

“So how is ol’ Wheat?” asked Bronc.  “He was the best wheel-horse I ever had although a mite beef-headed.  Still, he’s loyal as the day’s long.”

Heyes snorted mid-drink, spraying speckles of whiskey across the table.  He gestured at his throat and rasped, “Went down wrong.”

“Hey now, don’t be wastin’ my fine neck oil.  Here, gimme that.”  Bronc snatched the bottle.  “Now fork over that dinero and tell me what you wanna know.”

Clearing his throat, Heyes handed over the twenty dollar bill.  “Wheat tells us you two robbed the bank in Buffalo a while back.  That true?”  He and the Kid had heard that the same bank had recently received a large shipment of gold from a nearby mine.  When Wheat had discovered the gang’s new target, he’d regaled them with boasts of the huge haul he and Bronc had made, assuring Heyes that his former partner was the perfect inside man for the job.  

Bronc chuckled heartily.  “That Wheat always was stringin’ a whizzer, but better a tall tale than the sad truth.  We tried. Lord, how we tried.  Spent months workin’ up a plan, had all the details, but we still come a cropper in the end.  We was lucky to escape with only a few nicks in our hides.  Almost baked our horses hightailin’ it outta there.  Weren’t the first time one of our dogs wouldn’t hunt, but it was the last time.  Did he tell you how we ended up in cahoots?  Ol’ Wheat was a snoozer down in Texas.  Imagine a big man like that thinkin’ he could makin’ a livin’ stealin’ hotel guests.  The chucklehead tried to rob me blind while I was sawin’ logs in the Beaumont down in Abilene.  Caught him red-handed when his two hunnert pounds of lard hit that loose floorboard.  Boy, was he surprised to find my lead-pusher up his nose.  Lucky for him, I was of a larcenous bent myself.  After we calmed down a mite, Wheat offered to paint our tonsils, so we went downstairs and tied more’n a few on.  By sunup, I’d convinced him he was too damned big to be a sneak thief and he should throw in with me.”

“How’d that work out for you?” smirked the Kid.

“Pretty good for a while, but Wheat had delusions of grandeur, as the fancy folks say.  Kept pushin’ for us to go big time.  Now, me, I know my limits.  I was a pennyweighter, you know.  Started out in the camps, taking a little gold here, a little there, no one’s the wiser.  I made enough to squeak by and that was fine by me.  Never did like unwanted attention.  Now Wheat, Wheat’s a different animal.  He lives on blusteration.  That boy could blow his own horn for hours.  Trouble was, I finally figured out he couldn’t live the lie.  That’s when we parted ways.  It was right after Buffalo as I recall.”  Bronc paused for air and a drink.

Heyes leaned forward and locked his gleaming eyes onto Bronc’s.  “Let’s talk about those details.”

“Huh?” Bronc stared at him blankly.

“About the bank.  The one in Buffalo,” urged the Kid.

A slow smile crept onto Bronc’s face.  “You two are makin’ a play for it, ain’t you?  What is it you wanna know?”

Heyes returned his smile.  “Wheat said you got a job at the bank sweeping floors.  Cased it inside and out.”  

“Hell, I’ll split fair with you.  It’s the truth.  I know that bank like the back of my hand but, if you want the lowdown, it’s gonna stand you another twenty.”

Heyes looked at the Kid expectantly.  Frowning, Curry pulled out his wallet and extracted a bill.  “This better be worth it.”  He put the bill on the table.

Bronc swept it up and tucked it away.  “You gotta piece of paper?  I can draw the layout for you.”

Pulling out a journal and pencil he carried with him to record ideas and plans, Heyes flipped the small book open to a blank page and handed it to Bronc.  The bartender bent over the journal and sketched out a simple plan of the building, labelling the lobby, teller’s cages, vault, and offices.  Finished, he slid the book back to Heyes who looked it over carefully before slipping it back into his pocket.  “What else can you tell us?”

Crossing his arms, Bronc leaned back in his chair and eyeballed his audience.  “You’re gonna have to plank down more tin.”

Heyes scowled but produced another ten dollar bill putting it on the table.  “This better pan out.”

“Ain’t no guarantees in life, Rembacker,” chuckled Bronc.

“’Cept death,” replied Curry, giving the man his best gunslinger’s stare as he dropped his hand to rest on the butt of his pistol.  

Swallowing hard, Bronc looked at each of them.  “Well, I guess maybe I didn’t mention one little problem, but it don’t seem like Wheat did neither.”

“Spill,” snapped Heyes, annoyed.

“Are you settin’ us up, Bronc?” Curry frowned.  “My friend here gets a bit wrathy when crossed.”

Beads of sweat adorned Bronc’s forehead and he ran a finger around the rim of his starched collar.  “I, er, well, see, it’s like this….”

“Like what?”  Heyes’ face had darkened to an alarming shade and his eyes had turned flat black.

“Um, er, after our stab at it, we thought maybe we’d try again but we found out the bank decided they needed more security so it moved down the street--next to the sheriff’s office—the deputies started moonlightin’ as night watchmen.  There ain’t no way you can rob that place without someone gettin’ lead poisonin’.”

Heyes and the Kid stared at him, their mouths agape.  Heyes was the first to regain his tongue.  “Couldn’t you have led with that?”

Bronc, sensing the worst was over since his heart was still beating, laughed.  “Guess I should’ve, but the last thing I want to do is go back downstairs and deal with that crowd of roostered miners.”

“Give me the cash back.”  Heyes eyes narrowed and his face was hard.

“Nope.  Deal’s a deal.  I gave you what you paid for.” Bronc got up to leave.

Heyes rose, too.  “You chiseling, horn-swoggling four-flusher.  You gulled me.”

Bronc pointed at the ten dollars still on the table.  “No sir, I didn’t.  Your ten’s still there.  Figure I earned the rest.”  He walked towards the ladder.

The Kid grinned at the man’s audacity.  “He’s got you there, Heyes.”

Bronc froze and turned around, alarmed.  “I thought you said your name was Rembacker!”

“I did.  I also said his name was Hotchkiss.”

“It ain’t?”  Bronc shifted his gaze to the Kid who smiled meanly.

“The name’s Curry.”  A Colt had appeared out of thin air and was now resting in Kid Curry’s hand and pointed at Bronc’s belly.

The frightened man’s hands flew up in surrender.  “Now, hold on.  Please.  I didn’t mean nothing by foolin’ with you, Mr. Heyes.”  He slowly reached down into his pocket and pulled out the money.  “Here, here you go.  There’s your cash, every last cent.”  He threw the money at Heyes’ feet but the outlaw leader made no move to pick it up.  

Instead, Heyes seized Bronc and reached into his back pocket, pulling out the bartender’s soiled apron and tearing it in half.  He grabbed Bronc’s head and stuffed half the apron into his mouth, gagging him.  He used the other half of the apron to bind his wrists.

“Heyes, are you doin’ what I think you’re doin’?” asked the Kid, concerned his best friend’s anger was getting the best of him.

Not answering, Heyes unbuckled the man’s pants and pulled them down to his big, heavy laced boots.  Bronc’s eyes were terrified saucers by this point but the Kid was smiling.  He now knew what Heyes had planned.  

Heyes shoved the table out of the way.  “Gimme a hand, will you?”

The two outlaws picked up the hog-tied man and turned him upside down.  They guided his legs over the large stovepipe and dropped Bronc over the side of the building.  His boots prevented his pants from slipping off as he dangled above the alley, exposed to the world. Muffled protests emerged from Bronc and he wriggled desperately.

“I’d settle down if I were you,” warned Heyes.  “You don’t want to work that pipe loose, do you?”

The Kid reached down to pick up the cash.  

“Leave it.  He’s right, he earned it,” said Heyes.  He picked up the whiskey bottle and took a last, long draw from the bottle then passed it to the Kid, who drained it.  “Thanks for the drink, Bronc.  We’ll give Wheat your best.”

The two outlaws climbed down the ladder and pitched it over the railing into the street before going down the stairs and back into the saloon.  As they crossed to the front door, Delbert called out to them.  “Where’s Bronc?”

“He was feelin’ a tad discombobulated so he said to tell you to close up for ‘im,” shouted Curry, following his partner out the door.

The two men mounted their horses.

“You know, Heyes, for a minute there I thought you were gonna throw Bronc off that roof.”

“I won’t lie, I gave it some thought, but I figured I had a better way to stop him from getting any ideas about collecting bounties. Besides, Bronc did me a favor.”

“What’s that?”

“He expanded my vocabulary.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 17 - Up on the Roof   Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:18 pm

The Devil’s Hole Gang gathered around the table of the bunk house listening to details of the next job.

“And we’re hitting the National Bank of Copperstown.  Any questions?” Heyes asked with his hands on his hips.

“Yeah.”  Kyle spit some chaw in a cup.  “Is it really a national bank?  Is it all over the United States?”

Heyes rolled his eyes.  “Just named that to sound fancy.  Any more questions about the job itself?”

“What day are we doin’ the job?” asked Riley, one of the newer gang members who Curry and Heyes had taken pity on because his story sounded similar to theirs.

“Friday, before closing.  Should be full with the payroll to be doled out of Monday morning.”  Heyes looked around the room and to his partner leaning again the wall with his arms folded in front of him.  “We’ll ride out on Wednesday.”

“See that your guns are clean and loaded before then,” Curry added as he pushed away from the wall.  “And get a good night’s sleep.  No poker playin’ until 2 a.m.”

“I’ll see to it, Kid.”  Wheat uttered.

“Thanks, Wheat,” Heyes said.  “Ready, Kid?”

“Yep.”

Together the two men left the bunkhouse and walked to the leader’s cabin.

“Well, that went pretty good, I thought.”  

“We’ll see.”  The Kid hopped onto the step and opened the door.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Friday afternoon, several of the Devil’s Hole gang rode nonchalantly down Cooperstown’s main street.

“Somethin’ don’t seem right,” the Kid mumbled.

“There’s hardly anyone on the street,” Heyes added.

Curry saw the glint of a rifle up on the roof.  “TRAP!” he shouted as he kicked his horse into a gallop and reined it hard to the left, going between two buildings.

Without hesitation, Heyes and the rest of the gang followed suit.

Gunfire erupted, encouraging their mounts to quickly leave the area.  

The livery’s double doors opened and men on horses raced out, following the gang.

Several of the member, who were to come into town later, joined the rest of the Devil’s Hole with the townsfolks in pursuit.

Heyes took the lead and hurried through the rolling hills with his men following.  Curry went to the back and encouraged the posse to back off with a few well aimed shots.  They rode hard for an hour, the horses lathered in sweat.

The Kid joined his partner.  “I think we can give the horses a quick rest,” he shouted.

“There’s a stream within the tree line up ahead.”

Nodding, Curry fell back to the back of the gang.

Once they reached the trees, Heyes reined his mare in and she quickly slowed down, panting heavily.  “Walk ‘em,” Heyes commanded his men.  “Heading for a stream where we’ll rest.”

The gang members and their horses happily complied, quietly walking through the forest.  Up ahead, the babbling sound of water made the animals quicken their pace.  The men dismounted at the stream, drinking and pouring the cool refreshing water on their head.

“What happened?” Heyes asked.

“They were waitin’ for us.  I saw rifles on top of a few roofs.  And then there was that posse ready.”

“How’d they know we were coming?”  Heyes splashed water on his head, ran his fingers through his wet hair and put his hat back on.

“Riley’s missin’.  I’m guessin’ he let them know.”

Heyes snapped his fingers.  “When we stopped in Jackson on the way.”

“He could’ve telegraphed the sheriff we were comin’.”

“Yep.  And after all we did for him, the little ingrate!”

“He probably thought the reward on the Devil’s Hole gang would see him through life and it’d easier than bein’ an outlaw.”

“If I ever get my hands on him…” Heyes threatened.  “No more telling the gang where the next job is.  They need the details but not the name of the town.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Two trail worn former outlaws rode casually into the town of Markley.  Passing the jail, eyes met and brows slightly furrowed.

“Hate it when they don’t say the name of the sheriff,” the Kid muttered under his breath.

“Very inconsiderate,” Heyes commented.  “We’ll have to be on guard til we know.”

“Saloon?”  Curry’s brow raised.

Heyes smiled.  “Lead the way!”

A few moments later, the men dismounted their horses and stretched the kinks out of their body.  They removed their hats and slapped some of the dust from their clothes before heading inside.

They stood at the bar and Heyes nodded to get the bartender’s attention.  “Two beers.”

“Coming right up.”  The man wiped two glasses with a gray cloth and pour the beer.  ‘That’ll be ten cents.”

Heyes slid a coin over to the bartender and handed his partner a glass.  They drank about half the drink before putting down the mug.

“Ahh…” the Kid sighed.

They turned and checked out the other patrons in the saloon before quickly turning back.

“Joshua, is that…”

“It has to be.”

A click of a hammer behind them had them close their eyes and sigh.

“Hands on the counter and keep them there!  Zeb, come here and get their guns.”

“What’d they do wrong, Riley?  They just got here,” asked a younger man pulling the guns out of Heyes’ and Curry’s holsters.

“It’s who they are, Zeb.  This here is Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry and I’m arresting them!”

The patrons in the saloon gasped.

“Let’s go, you two.  Zeb and Ike, you help me get them in jail.”

“Sure thing.”  Ike pulled out his gun and the three men led the two down the street and into jail.  

“Before you go into the cell, take off your boots, spread your legs and hands on the rails.  Zeb and Ike, search them good while I keep a gun on them.”

“That’s not necessary,” Heyes said as he was removing his boot.

“Quiet, Heyes!  Remove the hats, too.  You could have something hiding in the lining of it.”

Heyes looked at the Kid and shrugged his shoulders, doing as he was told.  Curry’s blue eyes got darker with every command.

“They’re clean,” Zeb stated after checking them thoroughly.  

“You sure they’re Heyes and Curry?” Ike asked.  

“Yes, they’re Heyes and Curry!”

“I’d think they’d have more the ten dollars on them.”

“Maybe they’re between jobs,” Riley explained.  “I heard how fast they spend the loot.”  He waved the gun.  “Now get into the cell.”

The Kid and Heyes did as they were told and sat on the bed when the door was slammed shut and locked.

“There!  You two can go now that I have them safely behind bars.  Thanks for your help.”  Riley hung the keys on the other side of the room.

“Can’t wait to tell the others I helped arrest Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!”  Zeb hurried out the door, followed by Ike.

Heyes stood up and went to the bars.  “So, if it isn’t Joe Riley.  Wondered what happened to you after the Copperstown ambush.  What did you do?  Telegraph the sheriff and warn him while we were in Jackson?”

“I can’t believe you turned us in and arrested us now after all we did for you.”  The Kid put his head into his hands.  “We treated you like a younger brother.”

Riley put his head down, somewhat ashamed.

“It was the reward money, huh?  Greed got the better of you.”

“You gotta admit twenty thousand is a lotta money,” Riley said, defending himself.

Curry got up and stood beside Heyes.  “But that ambush could’ve killed some of your friends.  You did have friends while in the gang.”

“I didn’t know they’d be shooting to kill.”

“What did you think they’d do?” Heyes asked.

Riley shrugged his shoulders.

“Are you the sheriff?”  The Kid questioned.

“Not yet.  Sheriff Hanson retired and moved to St Louis to be by his son and family.  The town is deciding between me and Matt Brown, the other deputy, who’ll become the sheriff.  Having arrested you two will make sure I get the job.”

Heyes began to pace.  “Not necessarily.”

“What’d mean?”

“What are you going to tell them when the town’s leaders ask how you know who Heyes and Curry are?”

“Well, I’ll…”

“Won’t look good that you were a member of the infamous Devil’s Hole Gang.”

“I wasn’t gonna tell them that!”

“But I will to anyone who walks in that door.”  Heyes smiled and leaned against the wall.

“You wouldn’t.”

“I sure will.”

“And if he doesn’t, I will,” the Kid added.

“Now some folks might not mind that you ran with the Devil’s Hole.”  Heyes said, smug.

“But others will think ‘once a crook, always a crook’.” Curry finished the thought.  “We have that problem a lot.”

“That’s because you are crooks!  I gave up that lifestyle and have been living on the right side of the law.”

“Riley, when was the last time you heard about us doing a job?” Heyes asked.

“Well, there’s… There was Kingsburg.  Even killed a man in that one.”

Kid Curry’s eyes darkened.  “Have you ever known us to kill before?  It was proven we didn’t do that job.  The banker did it and said we did.”

“Oh.  What about Red Gap?”

“Another town, another banker, and another job proven that we didn’t do it.”  Heyes stopped pacing and held on to the bars in front of the deputy.  “The reason you haven’t heard about us lately is that we retired over a year ago.”

“You did?  Why’d you do that?  You were so successful.”

“Wonder that myself sometimes,” the Kid muttered under his breath.

Heyes gave his partner a look.  “Times are changing and we realized we had to get out or be killed.  Telegraph is getting word around faster, too.”

“Well, I’ll be!”  Riley sat at the edge of the desk.

“So, what are you going to do with us?”

“I dunno.  I stated you were Heyes and Curry.  If I just let you go, folks will wonder.”

“Seems you sure have a problem.”  Heyes began pacing again.  “I might have a solution, though.  How far away is Porterville?”

“Porterville?  Well, I guess about a day’s train ride.  Why?”

“The sheriff there, Lom Trevors, is known to be an expert on Heyes and Curry.  You could have him come to identify us.”

“Is he really an expert on you two?”

“He knows we’re going straight.”

“Would he come all the way here?”

“Sure, he will.  Give me a pen and paper so I can write a telegram for you to send him.”

Riley opened a desk drawer and pulled out the requested items and handed them to Heyes.  “I didn’t realize you two were going straight and arresting you would cause me problems.  Hope Sheriff Trevors can help.”

Heyes handed the paper and pen back.  “After you send the message, go bring us some dinner.  You arrested us before we could get a bite to eat.”

Riley read the message.  “J Smith?”

“That’s an alias Trevor gave me.”

“An alias?  And who’s this mutual friend?”

“Now that’s a secret between the four of us.”  Curry piped up.  “If I remember right, the café’s special today was fried chicken.”

“I’ll get you a plate.”  Riley grabbed his hat and left the jail.



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Three days later, Lom Trevors abruptly opened the door to the jail.  “I heard you have Heyes and Curry arrested here?”

Riley quickly stood up.  “Yes, sir.  They’re right there.”

The Kid and Heyes stood by the bars and smiled.

“Howdy, Lom!”

“What kind of trouble did you two get into now?”

Heyes started, “We just need you to vouch we’re Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith…”

“And not those two other guys,” Curry added.

“But you are…”

“Sir?” Riley quietly interrupted.  “I’m hoping you will vouch they are Jones and Smith.”

“You want me to lie?”

“Well, technically, we ARE Smith and Jones.  Have been going by those names for a while now.”

“Be quiet, Smith.”

Heyes smiled.

“Yes, sir.  You see, I know them and arrested them thinking doing so would help me become the sheriff.”

“Wait, how do you know them?” Trevors asked.

“I was… well, I was…”

Curry rolled his eyes.  “He ran with the Devil’s Hole gang, Lom.”

“I see.”

“And well, Heyes pointed out that it would get around that I knew them from being part of their gang that folks might not look to kindly to my past.”

“He pointed that out, did he?”  Trevors gave Heyes a look and the former outlaw grinned back.  “You know, some outlaws do become sheriffs.”

“Yeah, maybe small-time outlaws, but probably not being a member of the infamous Devil’s Hole Gang.”

“I see.  So, you want me to announce they sure look like Heyes and Curry, but definitely are not, giving all three of you an escape.”

Three heads nodded.

“Can I assume the town’s leaders know you called in an expert on Curry and Heyes?”

“They sure do.”

Lom Trevors sighed.  “Bring them here.”



~ * ~ * ~ * ~


An hour late, Riley opened the cell’s door.  “I thank you for coming all the way over here to get us outta this jam.”

“Riley, I see you have courage arresting what could have been dangerous men.  I like that in a sheriff.  A good sheriff needs to weigh matters on hand quickly, though, before making rash decisions.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thanks, Lom, for getting us out…”

“Again!  You owe me a train ticket.”

Riley began returning the boots, hats, money, and guns.  “Maybe your mutual friend can pay for the ticket since these two only had about ten dollars.”

“Mutual friend?  Did you tell him about the secret deal with the governor for amnesty?” Trevors growled.

“No, but you just did.”  Curry put on his gun belt and tied the holster down.

“Oh.”  Lom looked abash.

“You two are in the amnesty program I heard about?  That’s great!  I sure hope you get it.”  Riley shook their hands.  “Sorry about arresting you.  No hard feelings?”

“No hard feelings.”  Curry shook his hand.

“No hard feelings about this, but about Cooperstown…”

“Let it go, Heyes!”



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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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