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 Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]

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PostSubject: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:59 am

Hello there one and all – and a very happy new year.
hapny  hapny  hapny  hapny  hapny

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a cheery new year’s eve.  [I am missing the pre-requisite huge steak pie for new years day … but sure I will find some suitable substitute in the fridge.   candyv ]


Your very first challenge of 2018.
You are about to get a starter sentence.   Not too long, but YES you are.

So, push that tinsel off your keyboard.  Remove the nut casings from your hair.  Flex your fingers.  (Take off the huge cracker ring – now try again.]

As we are now leaving behind ten years of Challenge, let your creativity carry on from:

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

And… type!
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:03 pm

Happy New Year.

Ten years huh? Where did that time go? We still all look as gorgeous as ever thumbsup

I love the challenge. I may not always have taken part but I love the idea of it all and all the friends I have made.

Looking Back
By Maz McCoy

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?” Hannibal Heyes asked. He sat on the edge of the hotel bed and pulled off his left boot.
“That I’m in more of Maz’s stories than you are?” Kid asked. He stood by the window scanning the street below.
“No!” Heyes took hold of his right boot. “Anyway it’s not that many more. And if it is it’s ‘cos she’s shooting you or something.”
“Not just shootin’,” Kid stated wistfully, his eyes still monitoring the street.
“No,” Heyes repeated as he gave the boot an extra tug. “What bugs me most is that she never gave us amnesty. Never lets me become a doctor or lawyer or maybe a politician. Never lets you become a…a...”
Kid turned from the window. “A what?” he asked.
Heyes face contorted as he pulled on his boot.
“A what, Heyes?”
“Will you give me a hand with this boot?”
Kid walked over to his friend, caught hold of the boot in two hands and pulled. Heyes fell backwards onto the bed as the boot came off and revealed a less than fresh sock.
“A what?” Kid asked again.
“Huh?” asked the man lying on the bed.
“Maz never let you become a doctor and me become a..? What were you going to say?”
“Well, you know.”
“No, I don’t know that’s why I asked. What do you think she never let me become?”
Blue eyes met brown.
A forehead furrowed. “Well, she never let you become a…a…”
Blue eyes looked on expectantly.
“A saloon keeper?” Heyes offered hopefully.
“A saloon keeper?” Kid’s voice rose. “That’s all you think I’d become?”
“It’s an honest trade.”
“So you get to be a doctor or politician and all I get is a saloon?”
“Well, what do you want?” Heyes asked.
“I don’t know but I’d hope Maz would make me more than a saloon keeper.”
“How ‘bout a sheriff?” Heyes offered as he sat back on the bed.
His friend considered this. “Where?”
Heyes looked confused. “Where?”
“Yeah, where would I be sheriff?”
An eyebrow rose. He wasn’t just happy being a sheriff? “Is it important?”
“Of course it’s important.” Kid informed him. “I ain’t being sheriff of no one horse town.”
“Of course not,” Heyes agreed. “Maz wouldn’t do that to you. No, she’d make you sheriff of…of…”
“Where?” Kid prompted.
“Where?” Sheesh, this was hard work. “Where? Well, let’s see. Maz would make you sheriff of…Red Rock.” Heyes leaned back against the headboard, pleased with his choice.
“You think she’d make me sheriff of Big Mac’s town?” Kid did not look happy.
Ok, so maybe not the right choice after all.
“You wouldn’t want that?”
“Would you?” Kid asked, incredulous. “Constantly trying to sort out the trouble between Big Mac and Armendariz? No, I would not want that.”
“Well, sheesh, Kid, where’d you want to be sheriff?”
“Maybe I don’t want to be a sheriff at all.”
“You don’t?”
“Maybe I want to be a US marshal.”
“Really?” Heyes eyebrows rose.
“You sayin’ I can’t be?”
“No. No. I think you’d make a good US marshal.” Heyes smiled.
Kid nodded his agreement and returned to his watch at the window.
Then a thought came to Heyes. “But it’s like I said, looking back over the last ten years, what bugs me most, is Maz never made me us a doctor or a US marshal. I mean you’d think just once I could have done a little doctoring.”
“The number of times she’s had me shot I reckon you have.”
Heyes considered this. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Must be a pretty good doctor too, ‘cos you’re still here.” He grinned and Kid smiled as he shook his head, then suddenly turned away from the window.
“We gotta go,” he announced as he grabbed his saddlebags from the bed post.
“What?” Heyes was on his feet grabbing his boots.
“Posse just rode in.”
“Dammit, I thought we lost them.” He jammed his left foot into his boot.
“I told you they had an Indian.” Kid shoved his hat on his head.
“You don’t know that,” Heyes said as he hopped around the room pulling on his other boot.
“How else d’you explain them finding us?” Kid asked.
“They haven’t found us yet.” His foot finally in his boot, Heyes grabbed his own hat. “Ready?” he asked Kid who was standing with his hand on the hotel room door knob.
“Let’s get outta here.”

Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:03 pm

Harry Briscoe came knocking and wanted to tell a story. How could I refuse?

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

The man in the fancy eastern-style suit looked up from his steno pad. “No, sir, Mr. Briscoe, I sure don’t. What?”

“It’s the misdirections about how I got to know Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”

He raised his eyebrows inquiringly but kept his face blank. The way westerners talked sometimes bore little relation to English, but it was his job to make sense of this story.

“Misdirections, sir? Or do you mean, misunderstandings?”

Briscoe waved one arm in the air. The lit cigar he held in his fist left a curved trail of smoke around him.

“Yes. Exactly what I said.” He directed a squinty-eyed glare at the young man sitting opposite him.

“Where you from again?”

“New York.”

“Aren’t I being clear enough for you, son?”

“Oh yes sir, perfectly clear. It’s just . . . “ The squint directed at him somehow got squintier. “It’s just that Westerners use some colorful expressions that readers of The New York World may not have heard before.”

“Uh huh.” Briscoe sat up straight, making the chair squeak. “You sure you’re getting all this?"

“Yes, sir, do you want to see my notes?”

“You know I can’t read that shorthand you use. “

“No sir, I guess not. May I remind you that you get final approval of this article, so you can review it for errors before publication.”

Briscoe settled back, reassured. “That’s alright then. We don’t want any misdirections going out into the world, do we?”

“No, we don’t. Mr. Pulitzer himself told me to make sure I get everything you say recorded accurately, without editing. From the horse’s mouth, if you’ll pardon the expression.” Briscoe flashed an amused smile at him, and the man released a quiet breath of relief. Too many reporters had tried to get the real story – well, at least a version of the real story – from this difficult man, and had failed. He’d been told that, if he didn’t, he might as well not return to New York.

“Getting back on topic, Mr. Briscoe. Heyes and Curry have publicly acknowledged a debt of friendship to you, but won’t elaborate. Why is that?”

“It’s like this, Jenkins – “

“Johnson, sir.”

“What did you say?”

“My name is Johnson. Not Jenkins.”

“Right.” Briscoe directed his beady-eyed glare to the cigar, which had gone out. Johnson quickly rose and struck a match to light it. Briscoe took a few long, contented puffs and swiveled in his chair to look out the window. Johnson waited, looking out the window as well, trying to see what was so interesting. After a long moment, he cleared his throat.

“You need some water, Jenkins?”

“I’m good. And it’s Johnson, sir.”

“I knew that. Just testing you.”

“Of course. So, why do you think Heyes and Curry won’t talk about your friendship with them?”

“I figure it like this. They got their view, and I got mine, and neither of us can talk for the other without saying things that might be out of turn. We don’t want to start anything, not that we’re not able to finish things. A man of the world like you, you understand.” He brushed his nose with two fingers in a gesture Johnson didn’t recognize. “A word to the wise is efficient, as the saying goes.” Puffing on his cigar, he swiveled to look out of the window again. Johnson blinked as he tried to make sense of what he’d just heard.

“Why don’t we just get started, Mr. Briscoe. Tell me how a certified agent of the Bannerman Detective Agency became friends with the two most wanted outlaws west of the Mississippi.”

“You got it. But you know, I’m not quite sure where to start.”

Johnson gave him an encouraging smile. “Start at the beginning, Mr. Briscoe. How did you meet them?”

“Alright. Makes sense. The beginning’s a good place to start.” he pointed at the steno pad. “You ready?”


“Very good.” Briscoe stubbed out his cigar in an overflowing ashtray, ignoring the ashes he knocked onto the desktop. Leaning back in his chair, he laced his fingers behind his head and looked at the ceiling.

“It all started when I was running a secret operation to trap the Devil’s Hole Gang, and especially Heyes and Curry. I remember it like it was yesterday. Hard to believe that it’s already been ten years.”

Late in the evening, Hiram Johnson staggered into his hotel room. He sank into the rocker and closed his eyes for a moment. It had been one hell of a day. Briscoe’s recollections would need a lot of editing, but Johnson didn’t mind. This story was dynamite. And today was only the first day of the scheduled interviews! Grinning, he took out his steno pad and started to read.


I’d already been a Bannerman man for several years at that point. Working mainly out of the Denver office, but I’d been around. Got hired in Cincinnati after the war. Bet that surprises you, doesn’t it? The West fits me like a glove, but I was born and raised in Ohio. I fought with the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Army of the Cumberland, during the war. You look surprised, Jenkins. Don’t be. I was young when I joined up, mighty young, but I served. I saw the elephant.

During the war, I heard about the Pinkertons, how they guarded the President. Kept him safe, except that one night at Ford’s Theatre when there weren’t no Pinkertons around. Shouldn’t have taken that night off. Pinkertons claim they never sleep, but they sure as hell did that night.

But I digress. Stream of consciousness, that’s how I think. I’m linear that way. After the war ended, I was at loose ends. Tried a few different jobs, hated them all. Then I decided to follow my dream. I said to myself, detecting, now that’s some fine work for a man. Bodyguarding a President. Doing investigations. I wanted to protect honest citizens, solve crimes, track down criminals and maintain public order. It even sounded kind of noble to me.

I see what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I didn’t just become a policeman. I’ll tell you why. I got a taste for travelling during the war. Saw a lot of different places. These detectives, they worked all over the country. Lots of change, lots of challenge. A policeman is stuck in one place his whole career. I’d been through the war. There was no chance I’d settle down in Cincinnati and walk a beat. The Bannerman Agency was new, and they were hiring. I started in the detecting business just as the detecting business was getting started. Everything just fell into place natural-like.

Oh, right, Heyes and Curry. Sorry, I digressed a bit. Anyway, by 1881, I was a manager in the Denver office. Hiring new agents, training them, running bigger and bigger operations. I figure that’s why Daley came to me with his idea. I had a reputation, you see. Who’s Daley? I’m coming to that. Just hold your horses, son.

Even back east, you heard of the Devil’s Hole Gang. Gentleman robbers, famous for treating people decently and they had a policy, no gunplay. People like you, writers, putting out dime novels about them, calling them Robin Hoods. I can tell you, they weren’t no Robin Hoods. They took other people’s money, and they spent it on themselves. Wine, women, and song. Maybe not song. Maybe other people’s songs. I’ve heard Heyes sing, usually after a few beers, and believe you me, his singing is scarier than his gunplay. He could’ve sung to a train full of passengers, and that’d scare ‘em off the train faster than Wheat Carlsen pointing a gun at them.

The most successful outlaws in the West. That’s what people called them, and it was true.  The way Heyes could tickle the tumblers and empty a safe without raising a ruckus. . . they were bleeding the railroads and banks dry. That’s why the rewards on them were so big, $10,000 each, dead or alive.

So how’d I meet them. . . well, this agent from the Kansas City office, Jeremiah Daley – told you I’d get to him - he came to me with a plan. There was a regular gold shipment from Wash Valley Consolidated Mining Company that the Devil’s Hole Gang had stolen twice. Daley said, let’s set a trap. Put out the word to all the wrong people that there’d be a quarter million in gold bars on that train. Fill every passenger seat on that train with the best Bannerman men in the country. Arm them to the teeth, and when that gang took the bait and attacked the train, we’d finish them off.

And he had an ace in the hole, a woman who claimed she could identify Heyes and Curry. There were no pictures of the boys, you remember, nothing more than descriptions on wanted posters that could fit a thousand men. Daley reminded me, the rewards on those two alone would pay for the whole operation. And when we finally destroyed the Devil’s Hole Gang, once and for all, it’d be a feather in my cap, and for the whole Bannerman organization. We were competing pretty hard with the Pinkertons at that time. If we could make this operation a success, why, we’d make that Pinkerton eye black. That’s a joke, son. The eye, you know? We never sleep? Never mind.

Daley convinced me it could work. Not that I was so hard to persuade. I wanted to see the Devil’s Hole Gang put down real bad, same as every other lawman. I didn’t care if we took Heyes and Curry dead or alive. Dead would be easier, far as I was concerned. If you cut off the snake’s head, there’s nothing left to bite you.

I see that look you’re giving me, Johnson. I ain’t ashamed to admit that I’d be sitting pretty, if I could pull this off. To be the man who brought down Heyes and Curry and that infernal gang . . . it would do a lot for my reputation. I could write my own ticket in the agency. The plan sounded foolproof. I called on Mr. Bannerman himself and convinced him to go ahead with Daley’s plan. Which was now my plan, since I was in charge.

I organized it all. Recruited the best agents from offices all across the west. I went to Wash Valley and Midwest Railroad and told them their special gold train would be guarded with Bannerman agents, and that we were going to wipe out the Devil’s Hole Gang. They were mighty happy to hear that. It was Midwest that put up the reward money for Heyes and Curry, and it was Midwest that insisted on the “dead or alive” bit. They thought that’d encourage bounty hunters, and it did. Personally, I don’t like bounty hunters. I don’t like their methods.

Am I digressing again? Sorry, son. But you wanted the whole story, didn’t you? I got to include all the details. Harry Briscoe is a stickler for detail. That’s the secret to my success. One of the secrets. There’s more, but if I told you all of them, they wouldn’t be secrets no more. Got to keep some things to myself.

Heyes and Curry, right. I’m getting there.

Finally, the day came. The night, rather. Bannerman agents boarded the train. The payroll was already loaded and locked into a safe. And one more thing was loaded – a Gatling gun. Don’t look so shocked, son. When I told you before that we were just as happy to take that gang dead as alive, I wasn’t funning you.

The train pulled out of Bramberg exactly on time. Everyone on the train was a Bannerman man, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at them. Some of the toughest men you’ll ever know were dressed as ladies, wearing wigs and dresses. It sounds funny, but it was necessary. We all knew the Devil’s Hole Gang was smart. They had eyes everywhere. Now there you go, making a face again. I mean, they had spies. Anyone watching the passengers board the special gold train wouldn’t see anything unusual. It wasn’t until the train was under way that I got up and addressed everyone.

Here’s the thing nobody knew, including me. Heyes and Curry were on the train. Yes, you darn well should look surprised. I already told you, only Bannerman agents on the train, and now you know Heyes and Curry were there. In their thieving days, they might’ve boarded a train so’s to be on the inside. The rest of the gang, they’d stop the train, and there’d already be someone on that train to keep things going right for them. Pretty clever, right? Wish I’d thought of that. Maybe I did, in the back of my head, because I knew the passengers on that train had to look ordinary.

They’d just made the deal for amnesty, and they were supposed to stay out of trouble. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. Nobody did. They had to get out of Bramberg fast because the sheriff there knew them. They needed to be on that train, because the next one wouldn’t be for a couple days, and there was no chance they could lie low that long. Funny, ain’t it? A train full of Bannerman agents, planning to take down Heyes and Curry, and none of us knew Heyes and Curry were on the train with us. Well, maybe it ain’t funny. More pathetic than funny. But they’re smart, you know. Smart and lucky. You got to be lucky to be successful. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but that’s something I got in common with the boys. I’m lucky. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s best to be both, of course, and anyone who knows Harry Briscoe will tell you, he’s smart and he’s lucky. Trust me on that.

Why didn’t I notice them? Simple. Everyone on that train was a Bannerman man, but I hadn’t actually met most of them. I communicated with their office managers, but I didn’t meet them face to face until they boarded the train. Heyes said to me later, that was the only flaw in the original plan. I didn’t know the agents personally, and the agents didn’t know each other. That’s why Curry and Heyes weren’t recognized straight away.

He and Curry had bamboozled the real Grant and Gaines at the train station and stolen their tickets. They didn’t realize until they heard my briefing that they were surrounded by Bannermans. I tell you, it upset them some, and it sure as hell put them in a box. All they could do was sit tight and hope they wouldn’t get recognized.

You know the end of the story. Turned out that Daley and his ace in the hole, Sarah Blaine, were in cahoots with each other. Along with armed agents and a Gatling gun, Daley had suggested we pack up some fine whiskey so we could celebrate proper after we killed off the Devil’s Hole boys. Daley figured we’d wipe out that gang, get good and drunk on the whiskey, and then his gang – that’s right, his gang – would ambush the train and make off with the gold.

Thanks to some critical information provided by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, that evil plan was ruined. The Devil’s Hole Gang did stop the train, but some trigger-happy Bannerman started shooting too soon, and the gang got spooked. They ran off. Not before we took down two of them, but that wasn’t the plan. We wanted all of them.

We picked up the two bodies, feeling pretty low over the collapse of our plan. My plan, officially. I told you, it was me who sold it to George Bannerman. Then this Sarah Blaine came in and told us one of the dead men was Kid Curry. That cheered me up considerably. I was feeling pretty perky until Heyes gave me some information. He said, that ain’t Kid Curry. He had some cock-and-bull story about how he had sheltered with the gang, got to know all of them.

I didn’t believe a word of it. Then Heyes said, I can prove it. He knew that dead man wore a particular ring with his initials. Heyes could identify him. Turned out he was right. I knew that Blaine woman was a liar. But why? Me and Heyes talked about it. He’s a smart, smart man, you know. Would’ve made a good detective.

Like I said, you know the end of the story. I arrested Daley and Blaine, got my men ready to face their gang, and when we did, we wrecked ‘em. Totally wrecked them. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Not so much. Yeah, we saved the shipment, we took down a gang, but it wasn’t the Devil’s Hole Gang. Far as we knew, they were still out there, planning their next job. We didn’t know that Heyes and Curry had already left that gang. Remember what I said about cutting the head off the snake? Once Heyes and Curry left Devil’s Hole, that gang ran out of steam. Just ordinary crooks without smart leaders. The promise of amnesty wrecked that gang more than the Bannerman Agency or any bounty hunter.

The fact that Daley, a true Bannerman man, turned out to be a crook didn’t help the agency either. What was supposed to be a feather in my cap turned out to be not so much. The agency did its best to hush up the whole thing. Until now, of course. Now you know what happened.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

"The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:11 pm

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

The Yellowstone Ranger Series: Year Ten


Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry bounded up the entrance stairs of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and strode past the impressive map wall in the lobby. The Assistant Park Superintendent and the Park Ranger Chief of Yellowstone National Park paused to assess the immediate situation, their experienced eyes missed nothing. Not noting anything unusual in the comings and goings of the early-spring tourists, the partners exchanged a brief puzzled look before advancing to the reception desk. Where was the V.I.P? The big important, disgruntled easterner, demanding the park’s senior leadership’s presence to resolve an unknown crisis, was nowhere in sight. Curry, already annoyed at himself for responding against his instincts but at the strenuous behest of his on-duty staff, sought to reign in his pique at having his precious time purloined for political appeasement.  Heyes, adept and resigned to acting in the public relations arena, was more puzzled than annoyed at the urgency of the summons in relation to the apparent reality before them.

Kid’s sharp eyes spotted the Hotel’s General Manager speaking with a bespectacled stocky gentleman behind a large potted plant outside one of the hotel’s event rooms.  A sharp nudge with his elbow pointed them out to his partner as he listened to the desk clerk.

“Well, what do you know, it appears that the V.I.P. is TR,” observed Curry.

Heyes headed over to ascertain the truth of the situation while the Kid concluded the conversation with the clerk.

Theodore Roosevelt looked up and spied his former ranch hands and silently congratulated himself for recommending them for the important Yellowstone positions ten years past.

“Heyes! Kid! So good of you to come over so quickly. Glad to see you again.” TR’s incongruously high-pitched voice carried across the lobby, conveying genuine pleasure.

“Kid Curry! Mr. Curry is that you, sir?” called a young boy of about ten, from the gift shop entrance. He bee-lined towards the blond man crossing the hotel lobby, waving a paper book excitedly.

Kid stopped, turned around, and waited for the youngster to reach him, while Heyes looked on curiously. TR went to stand by the door of the event room and waited patiently, at least patiently for him.

“Yes, I’m Kid Curry. What can I do for you, son?”

The youngster gulped in a deep breath. “My parents just bought me this book over there. It’s volume one of the series. I already have up to volume seven but my little sister ripped up my volume one. Can you autograph it, please? I can’t believe my good luck to have spotted you. I was hopin’ but who woulda thought?  My name is Jimmy.” He thrust the paperback at the Kid.

Kid read the title as he took the book in his hand. “Volume One. Kid Curry and the Yellowstone Rangers Series. Kid Curry in the Rescue at Yellowstone Falls.” “I’d be happy to sign it for you but I don’t have a pen on me.”

“No problem. I’ll get one. Be right back. My father will have one in his pocket.” The boy spun on his heel and hurried to the rest of his family that had just exited the hotel gift shop and were looking around worriedly for their missing family member.

Curry looked across to Heyes with a lifted eyebrow and puzzled frown. He asked with a hint of disbelief, “The gift shop is selling dime novels? Since when?”

Heyes watched Jimmy obtain the pen from his father then his eyes traveled to the gift shop entrance as he answered his best friend, “We’ve been carrying the Yellowstone Rangers Series for about a year, they’re good sellers. In fact, the publisher wants to place the Heyes and Curry with the Devil’s Hole Gang series of novels in the shop as well but so far, I’ve said no. Besides the fact that I can’t believe that they’re still in print that’s not the image we want to convey, at least not to the tourists.”

Curry frowned, not sure how he felt about still being a subject of dime novel authors, which until now he avoided thinking about, no knowing they were for sale in the National Park he helped oversee.

The Kid took the pen offered by Jimmy and signed his name on the inside page. “Here you go, Jimmy. Do you want my partner, Hannibal Heyes’ signature, too? He was there at the real rescue and ran things from the top.”

Jimmy was all smiles when he glanced at the dark-haired man beside the Park Ranger Chief. “Are you a Park Ranger, also?”

Heyes smiled back, dimples in evidence. “No, at that time I was the Director of Community Relations and Planning. Now I’m the Assistant Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.”

“Oh. Well, I guess since you were there you can sign the book, too.” Jimmy held out the book and pointed at the page. “Here, sign it right under Kid Curry’s signature.”

Heyes dimples flattened out in suppressed chagrin as he perceived the less than enthusiastic response from the boy. He didn’t need to see Kid’s face to know that Curry was struggling to contain a smug smirk.

Book signing completed the Yellowstone officials responded to the invisible waves of impatience emanating from their mutual eastern friend, who was waiting for them.

“So, TR, what brings the new President of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners all the way out to Wyoming. Is everything alright at your ranches in Dakota?” Kid asked curiously. They had kept in touch with TR over the years and the budding politician made a point of visiting on his sporadic excursions west.

Heyes added, “And is there really an urgent problem that only the senior Yellowstone officials, meaning us, can address?”

TR smiled, his mouthful of white, even teeth in display beneath the bushy mustache. “Come on in and see for yourselves.” TR threw open the door to the small ballroom and raised his arm in a sweeping gesture of invitation.

Clapping hands and loud cheers swelled from the gathered off-duty employees of Yellowstone Park, the surrounding community members, and the friends and family of Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah Curry. The partners faced a sea of smiling faces, their own faces exhibiting frank amazement and surprise.

Superintendent Robert Carpenter banged on the wooden podium at the front of the room. “Will everyone take their seats. Come join us gentlemen while I make a few short remarks before the celebration of your ten years of service begins.”

Curry and Heyes, guided by TR, made their way to a table to join their waving wives.

“Yellowstone National Park has been in exitance since March 1st, 1872. It was born out of a vision from our great nation’s leading conservationists and nature’s enthusiasts. Yellowstone, as you all know, is our first National Park, a grand experiment which has proved the concept and led to the Creation of Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park in 1890. All of you in this room, in many ways and at all levels, have contributed to its success but perhaps none has worked so hard day in and day out at the practical operations than Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah “Kid” Curry.  These gentlemen have presided over, managed, cajoled, persisted, and built a shared vision for the public and scientific success of Yellowstone with limited resources and often under trying, if not downright hostile circumstances.”

A spontaneous round of applause burst from the audience. Alicia Heyes’ dark intelligent eyes shone with pride as she turned to meet her husband’s confident gaze. Kirsten Curry reached out under the table to grasp Kid’s calloused hand and gave an excited squeeze while she leaned over and whispered in his ear. Kid shocked blank expression resolved into an affable smile. He relaxed back into the chair as his youngest daughter, frightened by the loud noise, crept up into his lap and snuggled in under his arm.

“The Superintendent gets the blame and the glory for the failures and the successes but that position is a politically appointed post that comes and goes with the different administrations. Looking back over the last ten years it is a truth that the last three superintendents would join me in thanking Theodore Roosevelt for having the remarkable insightful idea and for managing to convince Philateus Norris to have the courage to hire such an unorthodox, resourceful pair of reforming outlaws.  I can point to their ….”

The evening was winding down with only a few close friends remaining. Curry had just finished corralling his two sons and one daughter, while the youngest girl was asleep in her mother’s arms. He came up behind Kirsten Curry, loosely wrapped his arms around mother and child, and rested his chin on the top of his wife’s pale blonde head. He grinned as he caught the tail end of the conversation between TR, an enthusiastic family man, his wife, his partner, and his partner’s wife, Alicia Heyes, whose tall, angular, thin frame was just beginning to show signs of being in the family way.

“…and congratulations on the upcoming happy event. I think you’ll find that the joys and responsibilities of parenthood will eclipse any previous doubts you may have had about being a father, Heyes. Just look at your partner. He and Kirsten have a fine family.” TR looked around at the blonde, blue-eyed brood of Irish/Norwegian Currys. “Why they’re catching up to Edith and I with only one child short of my five.”

Kid laughed and bent to kiss Kirsten on cheek without disturbing the sleeping toddler. “Now TR, let’s be fair, Kirsten and I got started later than you and with Heyes and Alicia only being married for eighteen months, what do you expect?”

Heyes pulled his wife in closer and looked straight into her deep brown eyes, almost level with his own. “I don’t regret waiting so long to get married since it ….”

Kid interrupted in good natured teasing tone, “Yeah, it took him that long to find the perfect woman for him, smart, handsome, a woman who can match his sharp wit, and shares his wide-ranging interests.” Curry smiled knowingly at Alicia Heyes, genuinely happy for his best friend.

Heyes continued an earlier thought, uncomfortable having his family situation the topic of conversation. “It has been a long ten years of hard work, particularly since I wasn’t sure I would be staying past the obligatory three years of the original contract. I knew Kid would be in his element but I wasn’t sure of me staying in one place and at one thing for so long. But I found I enjoyed the challenge and it hasn’t been boring. Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

“What?” Everyone asked in near unison.

“What bugs me most is that Kid Curry is the main hero of all the new dime novels, especially by that author N. McKeon.  The Irish must stick together.” Heyes offered in jest

Curry laughed along with the rest of the little group, however, a lifetime of experience had him detecting an underlying current of reluctant hurt. Kid knew Heyes wasn’t jealous of a dime novel character with only a tenuous connection to the real Kid Curry, partner of Hannibal Heyes. It wasn’t the regret of the leader of the most successful gang in the West for not being as famous in the popular culture as he once was. It wasn’t even a result of any perceived blow to Heyes’ considerable ego but perhaps the unspoken and unacknowledged hurt was a result of few knowing the full worth and considerable effort and finesse involved in the achievements of the prior ten years.

Kid’s blue eyes widened with sudden excitement. “Heyes, I’ve got an idea.”

Heyes’ mouth opened but Kid cut him off before he could get out the usual teasing remark regarding Curry’s mythical lack of ideas.

“No wait, you should write your own book. Not a dime novel but a real bona fide book about the beginnings of Yellowstone up to now. A ranger’s job is easy to turn into short adventure books. After all who gets called when a person is lost, a herd of elk break through the ice and need rescuing, poachers are killing the bison, or a bear decides he wants breakfast in the hotel kitchen. No, the real story of Yellowstone is better than any made up tale by some author in Chicago. The story you can write for adults will have all sorts of intrigue, plots, struggles, conflicts, deals, action, adventure, a whole lot of colorful characters, and even romance.”

TR pounded Heyes on the back enthusiastically in support. “I think that’s a bully idea. There’s a great deal of interest in the West right now. You know, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, my book of my experiences in the West, has recently become a best seller. And you’re just as good a story teller as me. I think Kid’s on to something. You could even sell it in the Park Gift Shops.  Get started, man.”

Kirsten jumped in the conversation, “Alicia can take the photographs. After all it’s only fitting since you two met when she was working as the photographer for that magazine doing an article on the Park.”

Alicia was nodding her head in agreement as she grabbed her husband’s arm, “I could Han. It would be great to work with you in a professional capacity again. The photographs will be better too, now that I have lived here and gotten to know Yellowstone and its people more intimately. I think the idea of you working on a book is a lovely idea.  You really should start it as a project.”

“Celebrate your success. What Bob Carpenter said tonight had more than a grain of truth. You are a major reason this park has grown and prospered. I mean you got Ray Taylor to shake my hand for the first time tonight and I even detected a flicker of acceptance, finally.” Curry turned to explain to Alicia and TR “Ray Taylor is a rancher in the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, a park neighbor, and the father of one of my rangers. He started off barely tolerating Heyes and now I suspect he respects and likes my partner. Me, not once in the last ten years have I looked into his eyes and seen anything but the belief I should be a permanent resident of the Wyoming Prison instead of Park Ranger Chief until tonight.”

“I don’t know about a book. It wasn’t just me, Kid, you too, are a big part of the story. We worked together every step of the way, dragging, pushing, and walking with a whole gang of others to where we are today.”

“I’m not saying don’t include us all in the book, I’m saying you should write the book from your perspective, the big picture planner who was in for the long game. I’m okay with being one of the players with you the dealer and the Superintendent owning the house.”

“You all think this is a good idea? That people would want to read about the creation and running of Yellowstone National Park?” Heyes ran his eyes over the faces of each of the little remaining group, counting on them to give an honest opinion before the thought took hold and could not be ignored.

“We do!”


For all the Heyesians - Think of a Katherine Hepburn type as Alicia Heyes.

Robert Carpenter was the fourth superintendent of Yellowstone from 9/9/1884 to 6/30/1885.

Yellowstone’s first large hotel opened in Mammoth in 1883. The opulent National Hotel was over 400 feet long, had 150 rooms, electric lights, a large lobby, and “a long line of vermilion spittoons precisely arrayed down the hall.”

The next two National Parks to be named were:

Sequoia National Park, USA (1890)
Established in 1890, Sequoia National Park is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The park’s natural wonders include gigantic mountains, canyons, caverns, and some the world’s largest trees. Mount Whitney, which stretches 4,418 meters above sea level, is the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States and one of Sequoia’s main attractions. Sequoia’s Giant Forest contains five of the 10 largest trees in the world, including the General Sherman tree. Today, Kings Canyon National Park, established in 1940, is jointly administered with and connected to Sequoia National Park.

Yosemite National Park, USA (1890)
First placed under deferral protection by Abraham Lincoln in 1864, Yosemite wasn’t officially established as a national park until 1890. The park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada, and it’s one of the oldest, largest, and best-known national parks in the United States. It contains granite cliffs, clear streams, huge sequoia groves, diverse wildlife, and the beautiful Yosemite Falls, which is North America’s tallest waterfall. The Yosemite Valley lies in the center of the park with giant vertical rock formations rising around it, namely the Half Dome and El Capitan. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness, and it’s known to be home to many rare plant and animal species.

In 1895, Roosevelt became president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners, and in 1897 William McKinley named him as assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy.  Among his writings at this time was a series of articles on western life published by the Century Magazine and later collected as Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Drawing on his experience as a rancher and sportsman, Roosevelt painted a picture of the West that prompted many well-to-do eastern readers to head onto the plains as tourists. In Dakota, where the "Great Die-Up" of 1886-87 had decimated cattle ranching, many of Roosevelt's old neighbors welcomed these visitors eagerly, converting their operations into what would soon be called "dude ranches." Beyond contributing to the growth of this new industry, however, Roosevelt's articles also contributed to the perception of western life as imbued with special virtues -- self-reliance, honor, loyalty, determination -- that made it a proving ground of the American character.

On his 22nd birthday in 1880, Roosevelt married socialite Alice Hathaway Lee. Their daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt, was born on February 12, 1884. Two days after giving birth, Roosevelt's wife died due to an undiagnosed case of kidney failure, Bright's disease, which had been masked by the pregnancy. On December 2, 1886, Roosevelt married his childhood and family friend, Edith Kermit Carow. TR had six children in total, five of which were born at the time of this story.

• Alice Roosevelt Longworth was an ambassador for her father and later in life, a colorful Washington, D.C. doyenne who earned the moniker, “The Other Washington Monument”; TR famously said of Alice, “I can either manage Alice or manage the country. I can’t do both.” Alice was named after his first wife.
• Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt, Jr., born in 1887, was a noted political and business leader who fought in both the World Wars and posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Utah Beach during the D-Day landings in World War II;
• Kermit Roosevelt, born in 1889, was an explorer, soldier, writer and businessman who joined his father on African safari and on the fateful River of Doubt expedition in Brazil;
• Ethel Roosevelt Derby, born in 1891, was a pioneering World War I nurse and Red Cross volunteer who later led the successful campaign to preserve Sagamore Hill;
• Archibald Roosevelt, born in 1893, was a distinguished Army officer who was seriously wounded in battle during both World Wars and also was a successful businessman;
• Quentin Roosevelt, born in 1897, said to be the child most like Roosevelt, dropped out of Harvard to volunteer as a pilot during World War I, and died heroically in battle at age 20.
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:07 pm


“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

It was a bitterly cold winter night at Devil’s Hole.  Another foot of snow had dropped in the canyon in just the last twenty-four hours.  Luckily for all sheltering there, the camp was well provisioned for the winter.  Hannibal Heyes was nothing if not thorough in his planning.

Thus New Year’s Eve found him and his partner in crime safely ensconced in their cabin, sipping on hot coffee liberally laced with some fine Kentucky bourbon.

Heyes had been staring into the flames of the fireplace.  His mood had mellowed as the night had progressed.  He was not drinking his first cup of coffee.

“Hmmm?  What did you say, Kid?”  Heyes’ mind has been wandering far from Devil’s Hole, worrying on a particularly knotty issue he still had with his plans for robbing the Bank of Fort Worth in the spring.

“I said, Heyes, do you know what’s bothered me the most in all the years we’ve done this?”  The Kid actually looked pensive.

“Teaching Kyle about dynamite?”  Heyes knew the look on his cousin’s face, and had not wanted to lose the mellow relaxation of the evening.

The Kid just silently shook his head.

Heyes sighed.  “Lettin’ Wheat join the gang?”  He smiled widely.

The Kid’s face finally broke a grin.  “Nah, Heyes, that might be what you regret the most, but not me.”

The fire crackled as the winds whistled around the building.

Heyes sipped his coffee and waited.


Heyes stilled, then got up to get the whiskey bottle.  He topped off his cup of coffee, and offered it to the Kid, who simply nodded, gratefully accepting another pour.

“Kid, ain’t nothing for you to regret about Sevierville.  That was all me.”

“I should have stopped it before you had to deal with it.”  The Kid looked over at Heyes.

“We were both just kids.”

“I know, but ...”

“No buts.  No regrets.”  Heyes took a deep breath.  “Just something we needed to learn.  And change.”  He stared back into the hot flames of the fire, but the mellow mood was gone.

Sevierville was one of the first big, bank jobs Heyes and Curry had pulled.  It was before they had separated.  It was before Heyes had left and joined Jim Plummer.  It had been just Han and Jed and a couple other boys crazy enough to go along with Heyes’ plan.

It had been going so well.  

They had checked out the bank a couple days prior, noticing there were few customers in the mid-afternoon.  The bank manager had been a pompous sort, ordering them out after it was obvious that they had little more to deposit than the few dollars they had scrounged up as a cover to enter the building.

When they had come back two days later, and pulled their guns after Heyes locked the door, the manager started to laugh at them.  That was until Jed Curry put his gun in his face.

“You.  Go sit over there.  Put your hands on your head.”  Curry ordered, pointing with his gun.

Heyes had corralled the tellers, and herded them over too.

“George, go watch the door.” Heyes nodded in that direction.  “Harry, help Jed.”  Heyes had started behind the counter, when the manager continued.

“You’ll never get away with this!”  He yelled, and shook his head.  “Stupid boys.”

Heyes turned towards Curry, and gave him a look, before continuing on towards the safe.

“I’d be quiet if I was you,” Curry tried to give the manager a steely eye, but he was having none of it.

“They’ll raise a posse, and hunt you down.”

Curry stood over him, with his Colt drawn, and Harry joined him.  The bank manager finally quieted.

It took Heyes considerably longer to get into the safe than he had planned.  It could have been because of inexperience.  It could have been because of nerves.  It could have been because of the distraction of the annoying bank manager.  When he was finally successful and had started back out from behind the counter, bulging saddlebags in hand, the manager started in again.

“You won’t get away with this!”

Curry had looked at Heyes for a moment as he approached, and was just about to admonish the man again, when Heyes saw the manager pull a gun from his jacket and start to point it directly at Jed.

Instinct took over.  Heyes dropped the saddlebags and drew his gun in one fluid motion, shooting the bank manager before the thought had even completed.  

Suddenly there was blood everywhere.  Heyes had hit an artery.  The blood spurted and covered both Han and Jed.

Heyes was frozen.  He had shot a man.  At the rate he was losing blood, he had most certainly killed the manager.

Suddenly Jed pulled Heyes out of the door.  There were shouts in the street, as they ran to where their horses were tied.

It was many miles away and a day later that Heyes finally came back into himself.  He and Jed had finally lost the posse by walking the horses through a stream.  They eventually stopped to let the horses drink and rest.  As Heyes got off his horse, he felt his clothes crinkle and looked down to see them blood encrusted.  He looked over to Jed, who had sat on the bank and had started peeling off blood soaked layers.

“Jed, we’re never doin’ that again.”  

Curry had tossed his clothes and was sinking into the cool cleansing water.  “Robbing a bank?”

Heyes shook his head, but eventually followed him.  “I ain’t talking about the robbery.”

Curry had dunked in the stream to get the blood out of his hair.  “What then?”

“Shootin’ folks.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Han.  We should have checked them for guns.  Tied them up.”

“Doesn’t matter, Jed.  We’re just never shootin’ anyone during a hold up ever again.”

Curry nodded his damp curls.  “Sounds like a plan, Heyes.”
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:00 am

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?” asked Kid Curry.  He was propped against the thick fleece underside of his upturned saddle with his legs stretched out comfortably in front of him, a woolen saddle blanket tossed over them to keep out the night’s chill.  The collar of his sheepskin coat was turned up and his gloved hands held a steaming cup of coffee as the stars overhead shone brightly in the cold, moonless night.  Moonless had been the only thing that had saved their hides today.

Heyes was across from him, hunched over next to a small, economical fire, repairing a rein.  It had snapped in half earlier in the day when his horse had stepped on it as he’d vaulted off to take cover from the bullets whistling around them.  They’d sought high ground and nearly exhausted their ammunition in an effort to dissuade the posse from further pursuit.  It hadn’t worked and they’d decided to press on hoping to outrun the lawmen before their horses were as depleted as their bullets.  He could still smell the odor of gunpowder permeating his gray jacket.  

He’d caught his gelding, hastily knotted the broken ends and, luckily, the repair held as the two men had kept running for their lives from the angry mob on their tails. It had taken another three hours and the dark of night to lose the posse.  One more hour and they’d found a suitable spot to hole up in.  

The enormous slab of Navajo sandstone hiding them had fissured from the tall cliff looming behind them and slid its way to the ground coming to rest intact and upright.  It listed at an eighty degree angle against a large boulder like an open fan resting against a buxom woman’s chest.  They couldn’t have asked for better concealment.  A pack of coyotes yowling mournfully across the valley signaled other creatures had been less fortunate.

Heyes carefully worked an awl through the damaged end of the longest piece of rein, punching new holes in order to lace the shortened leather to the bit.  His attention was completely focused on the task at hand and he replied to his partner with a distracted, “Hmm?”

Curry’s eyes narrowed and his mouth curved into a slight smirk. “You, Heyes, you’ve bugged me most over the last ten years.  I don’t know how I lasted this long with you so wrapped up in your own thoughts. Guess it’s ‘cause none of the ladies wanna have anything to do with you. More for me.”  


“Good?”  The Kid saw his chance and started laying on the lies.  “You think it’s good those two little fillies in Pueblo said you were the butt-ugliest man they’d ever seen?  What about Millie? She said you smelled like a varmint.  She said I couldn’t pay her enough money in the world to make her take up with you.”

“That’s nice.”  Heyes continued poking the leather strap until he yanked his hand from the rein, “Ouch!”  He plunged a finger in his mouth. “Stop distracting me!”

“I’m the one who needs distractin’,” observed Curry, only to receive a dark glare.  “You know, havin’ that posse run us to ground is the most excitement I’ve had all year.  How long have we been holed up in the cabin workin’ on this plan?  Four, five weeks?  And what do we have to show for it?  We dragged that damn safe to hell and back and still couldn’t get it open.”

“Don’t start, Kid!”  Heyes threw down the reins and stood up, clearly annoyed.  “You were the one who said it’d be a piece of cake!  Easy money, isn’t that what you kept saying?”

“It would’ve been, too, if Kyle hadn’t gotten the dynamite wet durin’ the stream crossin’.”  The Kid chuckled.  

Realizing his partner had only been prodding him for fun, Heyes visibly relaxed and grinned.  “Yeah, it was almost worth it to see the look on Wheat’s face when we stepped aside as leaders.  Who knew a body could go so pale?”  Using his sleeve, he picked up the battered tin pot from the fire and poured himself a mug of coffee.  He retrieved his reins and used his foot to kick sand over the coals of the fire until their soft, red glow was extinguished.  Heyes walked over to the Kid and tossed the mended tack to one side before sitting down and leaning back against his own saddle, mug in hand.  “So what bugs you?  Besides, me that is.”

Curry stared out into the darkness.   “Here we are, ten years down the road from Valparaiso, and what do we have to show for it?”

“Well, I do see some gray hairs sprouting up on your rooftop.”  Heyes sipped from his mug.

“I’m serious.  Did we really just quit our gang?”  Curry didn’t sound particularly upset at the concept, he sounded almost hopeful.

“Think of it as a vacation.  Wheat’s been yammering for years he’d be a better leader.  Well, the boys are about to find out.  My guess, we’ve got a month or two to relax before they beg us to come back.”

“There’s only one problem, Heyes.”

“What’s that?”

The Kid put down his mug and, reaching into his pants pocket, withdrew a handful of change and carefully counted it.  “I’ve got ten dollars and fifty-two cents and I’m bettin’ you don’t have much more.”

Heyes sighed.  “Less.  Seven dollars and thirty-three cents.”

“You know without lookin’?”

“It was change from the last twenty I broke.”

Curry closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the soft fleece.  “Times like this I wished we’d been a bit better about savin’ some of our hard-earned dinero.”

“Why?  It wasn’t like we were saving for a rainy day.  Hell, Kid, we never knew if we’d be alive one day to the next.  Still don’t.”

Grinning, the Kid eagerly asked, “So what d’you wanna do?  We could ride over Laramie way, find us a saloon off the beaten path and have a little fun, make a little walking-around cash.  Then we could go south.  Get us some pretty senoritas and soak up the sun.”

Heyes frowned, put down his empty mug, and pulled his own saddle blanket over him.  “There’s fifty grand in that safe at the bottom of the lake.  The law thinks we’ve got it and I don’t think they’re gonna let that slide.  They’ll be looking high and low for us from here to the border.”

Pondering their situation, it was a few minutes before the Kid spoke again.  “I’m getting real sick of runnin’ all the time, partner.  You said it yourself, we ain’t long for this world.  Times are changing.  It ain’t gonna be long before every wide spot in the road is linked up to the local sheriff by one of them new-fangled telephones.  We’re livin’ on borrowed time.”

“Geez, you’re real cheerful tonight.”

“Maybe we should give Miss Birdie’s flyer another look-see.”

“Don’t start, Kid…”

“I know, I know,” said Curry, holding up a gloved hand to stave off an argument.  “It’s for chicken thieves but, think about it for a darn minute, Heyes.  Maybe the governor was hopin’ to get penny-ante crooks off the streets, but if you pitched it just right even he’d have to see it could solve a lot of his problems.  We’re the biggest outlaws in the West.  If he got us to quit, all those bankers and railroad tycoons would be so grateful he’d write his own ticket forever.”

Heyes gawked at his partner, speechless for a moment.  The Kid had a point.  Recovering, he smiled.  “What do you mean me pitch it?”

“You’re the one with the silver tongue.”

“You’re sounding awful silvery yourself right now.”  Heyes sat up, his blanket sliding down to his waist.  “You know, you may just have something here, partner.”  

Delighted, Curry smiled broadly.  “You think it could work?”

“Yeah, I do.  What have we got to lose?  If it works, we get to start over, make new lives for ourselves.  Hopefully, ones where we don’t get shot at all the time; if it don’t, we keep on keeping on.”

“So, we’ll do it?”

“I mean we can’t risk going to the governor ourselves.  He’d just lock us up and throw away the key.  We need us a go-between.  Someone to parlay for us.”


“I don’t know.  It’s gotta be someone on the right side of the law otherwise he’d end up locked up, too.”

“We don’t know anyone honest, Heyes.”  A gleam in his eye, the Kid sat up, too, excited.  “We could send Clem.  She could talk the clouds outta the sky.”

“Naw, politician like the governor would never listen to a gal, even a gal as smart as Clem.  It’s got to be someone he’d respect.”

“Judge Hanley?”

“He’d be good, but he doesn’t really know us all that well, Kid.”

They sat silently contemplating their friends and acquaintances for some time.

“I’ve got it!!”  Heyes sprang up.  “Remember our old buddy, Lom?  Rode with us early on.”

The Kid looked stunned at the suggestion.  “He’s a sheriff, Heyes!  He’s just gonna lock us up, too!”

“Not if we approach him right.  Remind him of his old friends and how we’ve never troubled his town.”

Grinning evilly, Curry said, “I wonder if ol’ Lom ever fixed that back door of his?”

“I say we ride for Porterville in the morning, pay Lom a visit.”  Pleased, Heyes sat back down and pulled the saddle blanket back up to his chest.  “Who knows, Kid, this time next week we could have amnesty.”

The Kid slipped his hand inside his sheepskin coat and withdrew a dented flask, lifting it up and saluting his best friend.  “To amnesty.”  He drank and passed it to Heyes.

Taking the flask, the dark-haired outlaw leader drank deeply, choking slightly as the firewater burn his tonsils.  He returned the salute.  “To a fresh start.”


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

Last edited by InsideOutlaw on Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Jan 2018 ... Looking back [Starter sentence]   Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:55 am

“Looking back over the last ten years, d’you know what bugs me most?”

Overhead, a friendly sun warmed and a brilliant blue sky invigorated a waking earth.  The soft green hue of new spring grass beckoned.   On the surrounding trees, a sprinkling of buds promised — Spring!  New life!  New beginnings!

Despite the freshness of the day, the irritated voice of Kid Curry fell stale on the ear of his partner, Hannibal Heyes.

“What bugs you most, Kid?”


“Lom Trevors?”

“You know anybody else named Lom?”

“Can’t say I do.”

The Kid pulled his hat low, either shading himself from the glare of the sun or shielding his partner from glare that emanated from his own infuriated eyes.

“What’s Lom done to bug you?”

“Are you kidding?  He gave us these two stupid names, that’s what!  You might never have heard of anybody else named Lom, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of a hundred fellas named Smith or Jones.  Maybe a thousand, or maybe…”

“Twenty-thousand?”  Heyes feigned a cough to mask his chuckle.  “Sorry.”  He coughed again.  “You really woke up on the wrong side of the bedroll, didn’t you?”

“We wouldn’t have been sleepin’ on bedrolls at all last night if it hadn’t been for Lom.”

“At the risk of provoking you further, may I point out that Lom just gave us those names ten days ago, not ten years ago?”

The blast that followed rang in Heyes’ ears, much like the explosion at the Bank of Porterville had, less than two weeks earlier.

“You think I don’t know that?!  All I’m sayin’ is it FEELS like ten years since we been saddled with these…these…”  Curry searched for a word strong enough to convey the contempt he felt for his new name.  “Albatrosses!  These two stupid albatross names!”

“Whoa, there.  Easy.  Don’t go getting proddy.  I’m just saying, what happened in that last town was not exactly Lom’s fault.”

“Oh no, ‘course not.  Not Lom’s fault.  Not Lom’s fault AT ALL that he just HAPPENED to give us the same names as two cattle rustlers!”

“To be fair now, Kid,” Heyes said, raising what he hoped was a placating hand toward his fuming partner, “Lom only gave us the LAST names Smith and Jones.  It’s just an unfortunate coincidence we chose two first names to go with ‘em that are already being used by a couple of cattle rustlers.  And the fact that those two fellas just happened to be working outside of that particular town not two days before we showed up, well, that’s what I call a REAL unfortunate coincidence.”


“If you gentlemen would just sign the register.”

Heyes took the book, scribbled his name, then slid the book to the Kid.  

Curry glanced at his partner’s signature.  John Smith.  He gripped the pen, glared at his partner and scribbled, then shoved the book with more force than necessary toward the clerk.

“Excuse me, Mr. Hotchkiss, but you’ve neglected to include your first name here in the register.”

“It’s just Hotchkiss!” the Kid snarled, grabbing his saddlebags and taking the stairs two at a time.


“Hotchkiss?”  Heyes’ voice was calm as he entered the room and gently closed the door behind him.

Curry did not respond.  Instead, he threw his saddlebags onto the bed and plopped into a chair.  Yanking off his boots, he tossed one and then the other into a corner where they landed with a thud.  

“I know the names Smith and Jones aren’t ideal, Kid, but they’re the names we’re stuck with.  I hope I don’t need to remind you that Lom is our friend.  He went to see the governor on our behalf, and worked out this amnesty deal…and I know what you’re thinking, it’s not the best offer I’ve ever heard of either, but it’s the only one we got.”

Without a word, the Kid rose and crossed the room.  Quietly, still stewing, he began removing clothing items from his bags and placing them neatly into a dresser drawer.  When he finished he turned to Heyes, who was now reclined on the bed, leaning against the headboard, fingers laced behind his head.

The Kid sat on the edge of the bed and sighed.  “I guess John Smith and Paul Jones aren’t the most original aliases, huh?”

“Guess not.  Especially since those cattle rustlers came up with the same two.  They must’ve remembered the same history lessons we did.”

“Yeah,” the Kid chuckled.  “John Paul Jones.”

“Here,” Curry said, tossing a black book to his partner.  “If you say we gotta use these last names to get the amnesty, then I guess that’s what we’ll do.”  

Heyes picked up the book.  “This is a Bible.  Kid, when we agreed to change our ways, I wasn’t thinking…”

“Me neither.  Found it in that dresser drawer.  I say let’s pick us a couple real good names that go with Smith and Jones.  Who knows, maybe the man upstairs will even lend us a helpin’ hand if we choose ‘em from his book.”

Heyes threw his head back with laughter.  “You think so?”

The Kid grinned.  “Never hurts to ask.  Besides, I’ll take help from anywhere we can get it.  Go ahead,” he encouraged, tipping his head toward the book.  “Pick one.”

Heyes opened the book and briefly ran his finger down a page titled Table of Contents, then flipped it shut and held it out toward his partner.  “Joshua.  Joshua Smith.”

“Sheesh!  That was quick,” the Kid remarked, accepting the book from Heyes’ hand.  He glanced at the front without opening it.  “Gideon.  That sounds like a pretty good name.  Not too common, but not unheard of either.”

“Gideon?”  Skeptically, Heyes shook his head.

“What’s the matter with Gideon?”

“Not a good idea.  First thing you know, I’d be shortening it to ‘Gid’ and that’s way too close to ‘Kid.’  Don’t want folks to hear me wrong and end up being right.”

“Fine,” Curry said, opening the book to the same page Heyes had looked at.  “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus… Hey, how about Levi?  Levi Jones.”  He smiled, liking the sound of it.

Heyes pointed to the label on the back of Curry’s pants.  “Yup.  Real good name for you.  It’s already stamped on the back of your jeans.”

The Kid scowled and returned to his task.  “Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua.  Ah, now I see how you found your name so quick.”  He continued searching the page.  “Samuel.  What do you think about Sam?” he asked, checking first this time.

“I don’t know.  When you think of the name Sam, what do you think of first?”

“Sam…COLT!  The guy who made this Colt I got strapped right…”  Curry's shoulders slumped.

“Exactly,” said Heyes.  “When a person thinks Sam they think Colt.  And when they think Colt, they think Kid Curry.”

The Kid resumed his quest.  “Ezra?"  He rolled his eyes.  "Here,” he said, tossing the book to his partner again.  “See if you can find a good one for me.”

Heyes sat up and folded both legs under himself on the bed.  “Alrighty.”  He opened the book, appearing to let it fall open haphazardly.  “Let’s see what we got.”  His finger ran down the random page, then came to rest.  “There’s a whole bunch of names here, Kid.  Any of these sound good to you?”  He read, “Simon, Andrew, James, John.  I think we’ve already ruled out John.  Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, another James, another Simon, Thaddeus, and Judas.”

“Judas?  I might be a thief, but I ain’t no traitor.  What was the one right before Judas?”

Hannibal Heyes smiled.  Kid Curry did too.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
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