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 Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown

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Calico

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Location : Birmingham

PostSubject: Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown   Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:57 am

Brrrrr!

Greetings from the edge of Storm Emma.

Are you all ready for another challenge?

You are?  Fingers poised to tippetty tap

Good

A nice traditional western one for you this time - been on the list for ages


"Decision at Sundown"


Let the hooting shooting and tooting begin.
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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Decision at Sundown   Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:08 pm

The Well


The lone rider came out of the bloody red sunset of the west.  His horse slowly approached the well in the center of the town.  They were both covered in dust, looking like they had been in the desert for days.  As the rider dismounted, a woman came out from the coolness of one of the adobe buildings carrying a water bucket.  She had seemed lost in her own thoughts, until she saw the rider at the well.

She warily approached.  Riders coming in from the desert could be all sorts of folks, and she had met most.  The man’s attention had been on whether or not there was a bucket already lowered into the well, but he smiled and met the woman’s eyes as she came close.  His chocolate brown eyes seemed brilliant among the dust on his face.

“Need some water, ma’am?” he asked politely, as he let the bucket down into the cool depths.  “I surely do.”

She simply nodded as they took stock of each other.  He looked trail hardened and wore a six-gun tied down in a well-used holster.  His hat might have been black, but it was covered in the same dust as the rest of him.  His smile was pleasant, but that meant little.  Something in the depth of his eyes, and the set of his shoulders, seemed to indicate that he might ride the outlaw trail.

She was dressed as befit her occupation.  She wore a tight bustier, short skirts, fluffed out with a pile of petticoats, high laced boots, and striped stockings.  Her hair was teased, and her eyes were hard.  She had a silk shawl covering the parts that would bring the most objection from the few respectable folks in town.  It was covered in flowers and had a beautiful long fringe.

The drifter poured the first bucketful in her container, even before he quenched his own thirst.  He looked longingly at it, but simply lowered the bucket back down the well.  She paused before she headed back towards the saloon.

“If you need a drink, I’m just taking this back for washing.”

He smiled as he hauled the next bucket up.  “Thank you kindly, but I figure my horse is just as thirsty, and I don’t imagine you’d like him slobbering all though your water.”

She smiled back and shook her head.  This man was a bit different from the typical drifter who came through, and definitely different than most of the outlaws.  He did take a deep drink before he poured the bucketful into the trough where the horse was waiting.

“That the saloon yonder?” he indicated the building from which she had come.

She nodded, and a smile flickered across her face.  “Among other things.”  The smile did not extend to her tired eyes, but he returned a smile in kind with some flickering mischief in his eyes.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”  He looked around.  “How about a livery?  Hotel?”  The town was not very large.

“Horace down that way,” she pointed past the canteen.  “He’ll take care of your horse, if you buy him a drink later.”

The drifter did not look very pleased but nodded.  “No hotel?”

“Ed’s got rooms over to the saloon that he’ll rent out.”  She tried to smile again, but then gave up the effort.  Ed would not be pleased.

“I’ve been riding for a while, and wouldn’t mind a rest first,” he started his horse down the street, and she fell into step.  “Rooms cheaper if I sleep by myself?”

She looked a bit relieved but nodded.  “There’s a few of those too.”

“No offense,” he started.

She laughed dryly as she swung her bucket.  “None taken.”

“Just let Ed know some of my friends will be here before long, so he shouldn’t miss out on any money.”  He paused with her in the front of the cantina, but his horse was restless and wanting the coolness of shade.

“I will, sir,” she nodded and started up the stairs, but paused, turning back to him.  “Any name I can give him?”  She took a chance asking this of any man, here in the west, but Ed might want to know.

“Heyes,” he said shortly, and then continued down the street.


Hannibal Heyes had taken advantage of the time before the gang arrived to luxuriate in a bath, and actually take a nap.  Rosie, the girl he had met at the well, had taken him up to a nicely appointed room.

“This is right comfy, ma’am.”  He tipped his hat and waited for her to leave.  “Like I said earlier, I think right now I’m just interested in a bath and some sleep.  I’ve been on the move for, well, quite a while.”

She smiled back at him.  “Gotta get the tub out or Philippi won’t know where to dump the water.”  She opened the door to a small adjoining room.  “Unless you’d just like to leave it in here.”

The room had a small window, through which the final rays of the day streamed.  There were fluffy towels, embroidered with flowers and cacti.  A shelf held a variety of soaps and lotions.

“Well, now this appears much too nice for a drifter like me.”  Heyes turned with a questioning look in his eyes.

“I thought you’d like somewhere nice.”  Rosie blushed a bit, but then met his eyes.


The canteen was bursting with noise and activity that night, after the rest of the Devil’s Hole Gang arrived and settled in.

Heyes was down at one of the card tables, winning quietly, when the boys showed up.  Some of the folks in the cantina had heard who he was, with the information spread from Ed.  Some only saw his winning smile and thought he might be an easy mark.  Without the boys to back him up, Heyes let that impression remain, while winning a good portion of their money.

When the Devil’s Hole gang arrived, there was no impression that they were other than who they were.  There was near to a dozen of them, covered in dust, six guns gleaming through, in their low-slung holsters.  Wheat lead the pack, bellying up to the bar.

“Whiskey, please.”  He smiled his rather scary smile, leaning on the bar, as Ed hastened to bring a bottle of the good stuff, as well as a passel of glasses.  In as good of a mood as these fellas were, they had to be fresh from a job, and carrying a haul.

The Kid had scanned the room, from the moment he entered.  He exchanged a glance with Heyes but then continued on to the bar.  The boys parted and made a place for him in front of a full glass.  He downed it and then gave them all a look they had seen before.  Most of the men simply nodded, a few sheepishly.  Curry then pulled a wad of bills from his pocket, and handed it to Ed.

“This should cover whatever the boys need.”  He looked down at the dust covering him.  “Any chance of a bath?

Ed smiled widely as he made the money disappear.  “Rosie here will show you up.  I’ll have the water brought, soon as it’s ready.”

Heyes walked up at this point.  “See you’ve met Rosie.”

Rosie blushed, as she looked up first to Hannibal Heyes, and then Kid Curry.

The Kid exchanged a look with Heyes.  “So, you’ve met Rosie already?”  A question was in his eyes.

Heyes laughed softly, and barely shook his head, before he friendly like put his arms around first Rosie and then the Kid.  “Yeah, we met at the well out in the square, at sunset.”

The Kid’s face still showed some confusion, but then he shook his head too, and smiled down at Rosie.  “Well, Heyes, looks like you meet up with a better class of folks than I sometimes do.”

“Need your own room, Kid?” Heyes asked as they walked up the stairs.

The Kid looked slyly down to Rosie, and then at a couple of smiling girls peering out of one of the doors down the hall.  “Maybe.”

Rosie led him down to the room past the one where Heyes had settled.  “This one connects to your partner’s.”

“Sounds good,” Heyes stopped the Kid before he continued on to his room.  “Want me to take the saddle bags?”

The Kid nodded gratefully, and then smiled ruefully.  “You might want to check with Wheat.”

“Wheat?”

The Kid shrugged.  “There was too much.”  He laughed.   “Kyle offered ...”

Heyes shook his head, smiling back.  “No, sorry for doubting you.”  He turned towards his room with the saddle bags slung over his shoulder.  “Have fun.”

He had just started to search out a good place for the bags, when there was a knock on the door.  He opened it to find Rosie standing there with a wry smile.

“Ed has a safe.  I’m assuming you know how much is in there, but he shouldn’t skim any.  Looks like your gang will give him enough business that he’ll definitely want you back.”

Heyes thought for a moment, uncertain.

“I can’t promise that about all the girls.”  Rosie said quietly.

Heyes laughed.  “No, you probably can’t.  But if I lock this room, can any of them pick the lock?”

“No, but this is my room, so I might need to come back into it.”

Heyes paused.  “You didn’t tell me that when you led me up here earlier.”  He paused.  “And left me to bathe and sleep.”

She shrugged.  “Thought you needed the rest and privacy.  And a nice room.”

“I’ll gather up my things, if you show me to another room.”  He looked her full in the face.  “I don’t need anything fancy.”

She sighed, but nodded, turning to lead him down the hallway.

“Wait.”  Heyes paused, and his eyes glazed over for a moment, until he met Rosie’s eyes again.  “You wouldn’t happen to need some money, would you?”

She laughed softly.  “Heck, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what to do with all that money.”

“That’s good,” Heyes returned the laugh, but shortly.  “’Cause I ain’t offering it all to you.  The boys might take some offense to that.  They usually are good to the girls, but not if you make off with our haul.”

“Then what?” she asked.

“I’ll give you a goodly portion, if you let me leave it here.”  His eyes glittered.

“Why would you trust me?” she asked honestly.

A sly smile slowly spread across his face, and he shrugged.  “I’m thinking I can trust you more than I can trust Ed.”

She stared at him for a long moment.

“And remember the boys will tear this place apart if more is missing than we agree.”

Finally, she nodded.

“If I pay for your time for the next day or two, will Ed let you keep anyone else out of this room?”

“Yeah, he should.”  Her eyes were glazed for a moment, but then she returned his cunning smile.  “Especially if Hannibal Heyes is asking for me exclusively.”

“You got a deal.”  He held out his leather clad hand and they shook.  He glanced around, his eyes focusing on a couple more of her scarves.  “You’re fond of scarves, are you?”

“Yeah, I am, but those I made.”  She held out one beautiful russet one with Native American symbols on it.  “Just another way to make some money.  The other girls buy them from me.  Some of the men will take them to their wives.  I’ve even sold some to the proper ladies of the town.”  She reached to the bottom drawer of her dresser.  “I always keep a good selection, for any opportunity.”

Heyes’ smile spread across his face.  “Rosie, darlin’, I think I have an opportunity for you.”


It was almost two days later, with the boys lounging around the cantina, relaxed and refreshed, when Horace came huffing through the doors.  “Dust on the horizon to the south, boys.”

The Kid was up instantly, counting heads, and sending Kyle upstairs to roust out anyone who was still partaking of the girls’ favors.  Heyes turned to Rosie, but she was already heading up the stairs.

“I’ll bring them down,” she said and was gone.

Surprisingly, or not, no one had bothered the saddle bags that Heyes had kept in the bottom drawer of Rosie’s dresser.  Even with the reputation of the Devil’s Hole gang, or perhaps because of it, he had half expected someone to try.  As Rosie had told him, folks seemed happy enough to benefit from their good fortunes, and simply wanted to encourage them to return to spend more money from their next job.

“Wheat, Lobo, get the horses.”  There was no bickering even from Carlson.  Heyes had the gang trained too well to bother with disagreements among themselves, when there was a greater threat looming, like a posse.

The Kid counted as the boys streamed out of the saloon, and Heyes directed as the horses appeared and swarmed around the well.  In less time than the townsfolk could imagine, the men were mounted, and dividing into groups.

As the blood red rays of the setting sun touched the horizon, Rosie hurried out to Heyes, holding out the three sets of saddle bags.  He started to take them from her, hefted one, and paused.  A decision came into his eyes, and he nodded at her.  

“No, reason to change the plan, is there?”  His sharp smile was returned by one of hers.

She shook her head.

Heyes tossed up one set of the bags to Wheat, one set to Lobo, and kept the third.

“Splitting the haul,” Wheat nodded.  “Smart Heyes.”

Heyes ignored the comment.  “Wheat you take your group up the crest of that ravine north of town.  If you get them tight on your tail, toss the bags, as far down that gully as you can.”

Wheat started, and Kyle began to ask, “But Heyes.”

“No time now for questions.”  Heyes voice was sharp and his eyes even more so, as he held Wheat’s gaze.  “Just do it.”

After a glance to the approaching dust cloud, Wheat nodded, and turned to lead his group out at a gallop.

Heyes was turning to Lobo before the first group had cleared the well.  “Go east along that ridge and do the same.  Toss the bags into the creek up there.”  Heyes waited for Lobo to agree.  He did not look like he wanted any other answer.

“You certain, Heyes?” Lobo ventured a question.

“Yes, now go.  We’ll meet back at the Hole.”  He slapped Lobo’s horse and turned to take the reins of his mount from the Kid.

Rosie was standing quietly by the well, bathed in the deepening russet colors.

Heyes turned his horse, as they gathered to ride out into the blood red rays of the western sun, the last set of saddlebags over the pommel of his saddle.

“Do we need to change the deal?” he asked.

She shook her head.

He touched the brim of his hat and took off into the setting sun.

As intended, the posse was a swirling mass of confusion after they learned that the outlaws had split three ways.  Eventually, they decided they had enough men to split in two and took off east and west.

Lobo tossed his set of saddlebags, as instructed, when the posse got close.  As intended they stopped to fish the money out of the creek, letting the outlaws ride into the darkness of the setting sun.

Wheat and Kyle and his group rode hard and fast, figuring they would have the only part of the haul that would make it back to Devil’s Hole.  It was only after they stopped to camp the next day, when they were certain no portion of the posse was still giving chase, that they thought to open the saddle bags.

The surprise on Kyle’s face was nothing in comparison to Wheat’s when he pulled out several beautifully embroidered scarves knotted around a handful of stones.


It was almost dark, two weeks later, when Rosie hurried out to the well with her bucket.  There was still a glow of red on the crests of the surrounding hills, but sundown had already occurred.

Rosie had come to the well every evening, bringing her bucket, to get water to wash, as the sun had started to descend, and release its hold on the heat of the day.  At most she had seen a scorpion or two, one night a snake.  Luckily, she had not encountered any bobcats or coyotes.  

This night there was a group of cowboys who had ridden into town after payday.  They were keeping everyone in the cantina busy.  Rosie hurried out between customers, before it became totally dark, to get her wash water for the evening.  As she approached the well, she sighed.  It appeared that a couple of the cowboys were hanging out by the well, perhaps hoping to get some favors for free.  Ed would not be happy.

She squared her shoulders and started to swing her bucket with some force.  It would be better for her to try to deal with the cowboys than Ed.  Then she slowed as she approached the well.  There was something familiar about the set of the shoulders of one of the men, and the slope of the hat of the other.

“Hello, Rosie,” Hannibal Heyes’ eyes still glittered in the waning light.  His smile lit up his face.  The Kid was more reticent but nodded and touched the brim of his hat.  “Ma’am.”

“Was wondering if you’d be out tonight,” Heyes said softly.

Rosie smiled.  “You’ll have to come up the back stairs.”
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown   Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:42 am

So, the story behind this nonsense. For lack of bunnies recently and since I'd never written anything about the guys’ post-amnesty life, a challenge was presented to me to do so.  Had no idea where to start, so started scribbling, and this was the result.


Testament

Special to the New York Herald via the Bismarck Tribune.  

The latest in our series of interesting notes on the Old West – now in 1912 declared no more.  

Today, we continue our glimpse into the notorious careers of Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah “Kid” Curry, considered by some to have been the most successful outlaws in the history of the West.  We do not seek to be voyeurs; no, indeed.  The gentlemen are still quite alive and with us; and hopefully, as now upstanding citizens, will be with us for a long time to come, God willing.  Here, then, we present a little known event, perhaps bordering on narrative anecdote; but, we are assured by those who have knowledge of these circumstances, at least somewhat true.

So after the unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, events at the aftermath of the Junction City affair, Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah Curry, having been left penniless theretofore, left their birth state of Kansas behind, yet again, to seek calmer and more prosperous climes elsewhere.  Not wanting to again find themselves in such a bankrupt situation; subsequently, and with great, diligent, and undivided focus, said gentlemen saved their respective earnings from delivery and other various and sundry jobs, together and separate, for one Colonel Harper (retired), until they had a substantial sum (the total of which sum is unknown).  

After consultation with their friend and mentor, Sheriff Lom Trevors, they deposited most of said sum with Sheriff Trevors in furtherance of their secret quest for amnesty from the Governor of the Territory of Wyoming; as well as for said sum’s protection, lest Messrs. Heyes or Curry lose it under temptation – at the poker tables or otherwise (we will not deign to imagine such other temptations of the time here).  Under the circumstances, and also to further protect them and himself, Sheriff Trevors thought it wise to have legal documents drawn up to declare and direct the disposition of said sum.

To effectuate said process, at Messrs. Heyes and Curry’s recommendation, Sheriff Trevors sent for the esteemed Chester Brubaker, Esquire; who represented Messrs. Heyes and Curry at the conclusion of the Junction City affair; and who both knew their real identities and was trusted with that knowledge.  After acquiring pro hac vice status for this purpose in the State of Colorado, Attorney Brubaker drafted, finalized, and had executed, and witnessed, the Testaments of each of Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah Curry.  Mr. Brubaker had the foresight to bring with him his trusted secretary, notary, and friend, a Mr. Ambrose Day, who being in Mr. Brubaker’s employ, was considered trustworthy to a fault; and who also obtained a notary public commission in Denver City (as the town was then known) for the occasion.

Now, yes, it was at first true that Messrs. Heyes and Curry had reservations of signing “final papers,” as they called it; superstitious as they were of the process.  However, once they understood how important it was to Sheriff Trevors that they do this, they followed through; the amnesty’s being of such import to them.  They reasoned Sheriff Trevors carried enough of a burden on their behalf; and if what he really wanted them to do was to have them sign papers protecting him, them, and their legally and diligently obtained sums, they would do it.  And so, they did; but with a caveat that the final act of life not be stated as such.

Now, after attaining pro hac vice admittance in the State of Colorado, under the auspices of a trusted former law professor and mentor of his; and for the purpose of representing such stated “special clients” only in this matter; Attorney Brubaker personally drafted such documents in the fashion, and with the finest boilerplate, of the day.  Given the notoriety of such special clients, a mutual decision was reached by all parties to meet at sundown, on the date duly chosen, at the home outside Denver City of a friend of the special clients; which friend might have acted as a witness but for her personhood as a woman, thereby having no legal authority and negating her presumably female desire to act as such a witness to help her friends.

That mutual decision at sundown – anticlimactic though it was in the understanding of that phrase in the common consciousness of the romantic vision of the Old West – actually was of great fortuity.  You see, another noted marshal who was known to the special clients was in Denver City that day; and the little house in the further reaches of town was just enough out of the way to evade his path.

And so, our tale ends with the various special clients and parties (not of the first, second, nor even third part) going all their merry ways back to from whence they came, task finished.  Yes, it is all very anticlimactic, and probably as nonsensical as one should never have heard; especially in the romanticizing and notarization of the notorious.  However, as well we remember, Messrs. Heyes and Curry did finally attain amnesty; albeit, long after they first sought it.  But, to cure curiosity, we leave you with one example of the documents signed that evening – a testament, identical to the other, but with names changed around, but very little else; to wit:

Testament

I, Hannibal Heyes, being of sound mind, do hereby declare and set forth my testament as to disposition of certain of my property in the event of my capture and incarceration, or worse.

Article First:  It is my stated wish that my share (namely, half) of certain moneys entrusted to Lom Trevors, duly appointed Sheriff of Carbon County, Territory of Wyoming (“Sheriff Trevors”), by myself and my associate and cousin, Jedediah Curry (“Mr. Curry”), for any of the following stated and enumerated purposes be, and the same hereby are, used for those stated and enumerated purposes only:

One:  Any expenses incurred by Sheriff Trevors in his endeavors of interceding and advocating for amnesty on behalf of myself and/or Mr. Curry, with the Governor of the Territory of Wyoming and/or any other officials in authority in their individual and/or several, legal, and duly appointed and/or elected, and binding capacity, as such, in the Territory of Wyoming, or elsewhere as needed or required by law (“The Authorities”);

Two:  Any expenses related to the furtherance and disposition of jurisprudence, directly or indirectly (this latter at Sheriff Trevors’ discretion), on behalf of myself and/or Mr. Curry; such as bail, attorney, and/or court costs and/or expenses, or any other purpose in respect thereof, for myself and/or Mr. Curry;

Three:  In the event of my capture or incarceration, or worse, that the same hereby be, and are, used for the defense, upkeep, and/or any other maintenance and/or rehabilitation, of Mr. Curry, as needed, and/or as required by law;

Four:  Except that in the case of both of my and Mr. Curry’s capture and incarceration, or worse, that the same hereby be, and are, kept by Sheriff Trevors, for his time and trouble, in interceding and advocating for said amnesty on behalf of myself and/or Mr. Curry, with The Authorities; and for also being a kind and loyal friend and advocate, and mostly trusting in us to do the right thing, even as others (such as The Authorities) failed to so believe;

Five:  In the event of any future marriage and/or issue of myself, this paragraph supersedes Article First, paragraph Four, and the same hereby be, and are, to be used (i) half as stated in Article First, paragraph three; and (ii) half for the sustenance, upkeep, and/or maintenance of any future wife and/or issue of myself; and

Six:  In the event of both my and Mr. Curry’s capture and incarceration, or worse, and in the event of any future marriage and/or issue of Mr. Curry, and none of myself, this paragraph supersedes Article First, paragraph Four, and the same hereby be, and are, to be used for the sustenance, upkeep, and/or maintenance of any future wife and/or issue of Mr. Curry.


Article Second:  It is my stated wish that in the case of my capture and incarceration, or worse, that any and all property of mine, real or personal, other than the moneys addressed in Article First herein (the “Property”), shall inure to the benefit of Mr. Curry, unless:

One:  In the case of only my capture and incarceration, that any and all Property, not in my direct use, care, or control, shall inure to the benefit of Mr. Curry;

Two:  In the case of the capture and incarceration of both myself and Mr. Curry, or worse, that any and all Property, not under my direct use, care, or control, shall inure to the benefit of Sheriff Trevors;

Three:  In the event of any future marriage and/or issue of myself, this paragraph supersedes Article Second, paragraph Two; and any Property shall inure to the benefit of any future wife and/or issue of myself; and

Four:  In the event of both my and Mr. Curry’s capture and incarceration, or worse, and in the event of any future marriage and/or issue of Mr. Curry, and none of myself, this paragraph supersedes Article Second, paragraph Two; and any Property shall inure to the benefit of any future wife and/or issue of Mr. Curry.


Lastly, the shortened, defined terms used herein are for brevity only; and in all such cases mean the fuller and legal terms as if they were stated at length herein.


I do hereby declare, and set my hand and seal, that the aforementioned terms of this Testament be, and the same hereby are, valid and binding, this Ninth day of September, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty One.

Signatory:  Hannibal Heyes


Signed, sealed, and delivered in the City of Denver City, County of Arapohoe, State of Colorado, United States of America, by Signatory Hannibal Heyes, in the presence of:

Witness:  Lom Trevors, Sheriff, Carbon County, Territory of Wyoming

Witness:  Jedediah Curry, Citizen, United States of America (no known address)

Witness:  Chester Brubaker, Attorney at Law, State of Kansas


County of Arapohoe:
State of Colorado:

In my presence came Hannibal Heyes, Signatory to this Testament, and Lom Trevors, Jedediah Curry, and Chester Brubaker, separately, Witnesses to this Testament, this Ninth day of September, One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty One.

Signed:  Ambrose Day, Notary.

My commission expires December 31, 1884.


Endnote:  Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah Curry did finally obtain amnesty at the time of Wyoming Statehood; albeit, some declared said act to be a mistake which sullied the new State’s reputation.  You see, in early 1890, several months before that event, the last Territorial Governor, in winding down the affairs of the soon-to-be-late Wyoming Territory, sought to clear old business of the Territory, and signed older declarations that had yet to be put into full force and effect; amongst these documents was a declaration from 1880, signed by the then Territorial Governor, and assigning provisional amnesty to the named parties; to wit, Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah Curry.  

The declaration stated that if the two then outlaws remained on the right side of the law for a period of one year, their provisional amnesty would yield to complete amnesty; and all charges against them would be dropped.  Attached to the declaration were affidavits containing witness accounts of the then outlaws’ good character, along with statements of their good friend and emissary to the Territorial Governor, the same Sheriff Lom Trevors, who stood as their witness in the Testament appearing above; who represented and enumerated the then outlaws’ numerous missions as agents acting on behalf of the Territorial Governor; to wit, if not to repeat, thereby risking their lives, in carrying out missions for, and acting as direct agents of, and on behalf of, and under direct orders of, the Territorial Governor.

These various and sundry documents were found in the safe in the Territorial Governor’s office, and spanned several terms of former Territorial Governors.  Taken together, it was felt by their supporters a decade later that this had long constituted provisions for the granting of full amnesty; and it was granted.  The opposition to this act argued the two would still be rotting in prison if they had been caught; and should long have been spat upon as the wretched felons they were, and deserved to go down in history as.  Of course, these arguments were used in an attempt to negate the good deeds of two men who risked their lives in dangerous missions on behalf of a decade’s worth of Territorial Governors; all of whom found it politically inexpedient to grant what had long been promised.  And although Wyoming, now as a State and then as a Territory, bucks most other jurisdictions in having no statute of limitations on criminal offenses, these same statutes of limitations would have long run anywhere else.  

Therefore, whether a mistake, a technicality, a sham, or otherwise, the men walked free as the day they were born; albeit, now fully clothed.

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Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp
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Penski
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PostSubject: Re: Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown   Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:08 pm

Decision at Sunset


A large red orb sat upon the mountains nearby getting ready to slide down for the night.  The sky was beautifully lit with deep yellows, oranges, pinks, blues, and purples hues.  A cool breeze came up.  No one in Riverton, Colorado appreciated nature’s splendor that evening.  Their eyes were riveted to the showdown in the street as they stood out of the way on the boardwalk.

“Have you made your decision yet?” the young, cocky cowboy asked.  He fancied himself good with a gun and had the holster tied down around his thigh like he once saw a gunslinger do.  His hand wavered near the butt of his gun.

Hannibal Heyes faced the angry cowboy.  “I didn’t cheat and that money is mine.”

He wondered how the issue escalated this far.  He wondered where his partner was.


A week earlier…

Riverton was near a cattle trail and one of the closest towns to a new silver strike.  The town was full of cowboys and miners.  Two transients slowly rode into town.  They noticed several rowdy saloons, a livery, a general store, a mining supply, a gunsmith, a land office, a tailor, a café, a hotel, a boarding house, and a church being built at one end.  More importantly was the name of the sheriff posted on the jailhouse – one they did not know.

“Riverton seems like a growing town,” commented Curry.

“It does at that.”  Heyes reigned his horse around a drunk miner laying in the road.  “Busy, too, with strangers.”

“Might be a good place to rest for a few days.  Think you can win a few games of poker with these miners and cowboys?”

“Oh, I’m sure I can win a few games,” Heyes said confidently.


A few days earlier…

“Joshua, we’ve rested up.  Ain’t it time to go?” Curry asked as they ate breakfast in the little café.  He held up his cup when he got the young waitress’ attention.

“More coffee?” she offered.

“Thank you.”  The Kid gave her a friendly smile.

“Sure.”  Heyes pushed his cup towards her and continued to read a local newspaper that was left behind.

Once their cups were topped off, she turned and walked around to the other tables.

“Joshua, are you listenin’ to me?”

“Sure.”  Heyes sipped his coffee.

“Joshua, I’m bored and ready to leave.”  Curry pushed the paper down.  “Besides, we’ve been here long enough,” he whispered.

Heyes scowled.  “But they’re all playing bad poker.  I can double our money if we stay just a few more days.”

The Kid sighed.

“Look, there’s a delivery job posted in here.  Some papers need to go to Colorado Springs.  It’ll take you about three days to go there and come back.”

“Me go alone?  Who’ll watch your back?”

“You’ve seen them.  They’ve been gracious losers.”

“You be careful.  It just takes one bad loser.  Make sure you lose a few of those hands so not to rile anyone up.”

“I promise.”


A few hours earlier…

Heyes watched the different poker games from the bar, contemplating which one he wanted to join.  Curry should be back to town today or tomorrow and Heyes was ready to leave.  Truth be told, he was getting bored playing conservative poker since he didn’t have Kid Curry watching his back.  A seat opened up so Heyes grabbed his beer and went to sit down.

Well into the game, Heyes realized he had a potential problem.  A cowboy at his table was young, drunk, cocky, and losing – likely trouble.  Remembering his promise to the Kid, he purposefully threw away some good hands so not to win.  The belligerent cowboy and his friends continued to lose their hard-earned money.  

Heyes yawned after pulling in another pot.  “Think I’ll call it quits for awhile so I can stretch and get some dinner.”  He slid his money into his hat and began to rise.

“You ain’t goin’ no wheres with our money!  Now sit back down!” the cowboy growled.

Heyes’ eyes became dark.  He continued to stand and forced a smile.  “Seems to me you shouldn’t be betting money you can’t afford to lose.  Now I’ll be back later to give you a chance to win…”

The cowboy quickly rose, his hand hovering over the butt of his gun.  “And I said to sit back down!”

The smile went away.

“You must be cheatin’!  No one’s as lucky as you’ve been.”

“I don’t have to cheat to win.”  Heyes glanced around the table.  “Do the rest of you think I’ve cheated?”

“No.”

“Nope.”

“Seen you the other night and you’re good.”

“You have been winnin’ a lot of my money,” the cowboy’s friend said.

“Mister,” the cowboy barked.  “You have a decision.  You can put all your money on the table or you and me will see who has the better draw.”

“You’re calling me out?” Heyes asked, incredulous.  “Everyone here, but you and your friend, said I didn’t cheat.”

“I don’t care what they say.  Me and my friend say you are.”

“ALL of my money.”

“That’s what I said.”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do.”  Heyes motioned for one of the saloon gal to come over.  “I’m buying a round of drinks for the table.”  He counted out some money and put it into two piles.  “Here is your money and your friend’s money.  Let’s call it good.”

“Nope, I want it all to give you a lesson in cheatin’.”

“I didn’t cheat.”  Heyes lifted his shirt sleeves.  “No aces up here.”  He handed him the deck of cards.  “See any marks or folds?”

The cowboy gulped down the drink brought to him.  “Nope, but that don’t mean you’re not cheatin’.  So, what’s your decision?”


Sunset…

Kid Curry rode into Silverton exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and dirty.  He wasn’t sure which of those needs he wanted to take care of first.  Ahead, there was a commotion in the street.  He reigned his horse to the edge of the boardwalk, dismounted, and tied him to a hitching post.

Glancing down the street, he saw the showdown and frowned.  “Drunkin’ cowboys!”  He squinted his eyes against the last few rays of light and ran.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~


“I told you, I didn’t cheat – I don’t have to.  Look, I gave you your money back.  We’re fair and square.”

“Quit your jawin’ and draw.”

“I’m not giving you all of my money.  I earned it fair.  Play poker according to Hoyle.”

The cowboy glanced at his friends around and smirked.  “Then I guess we’ll see who’s fastest.”

Heyes sighed and his hand hovered over the butt of his gun.  He stared at his opponent, watching for a sign… any sign of movement.  “Kid, where in the heck are you?” he muttered.

A moment later, Heyes felt peace and knew he could do it.  

The cowboy drew and Heyes followed suit.  The guns fired.  Heyes heard the whistling of a bullet barely missing him.  The cowboy grabbed his arm and fell to his knees.

A friend drew his gun and pointed it towards Heyes.

“Drop it!”   Kid Curry drew his gun.

Heyes grinned, hearing the familiar voice backing him up.  “You better get the doctor quick before your friend bleeds to death.”

Heyes holstered his gun and, turning towards his friend, he staggered.

Curry quickly put his gun back in the holster and grabbed his partner’s arms, his eyes scanning his body.  “Are you hurt?  Did you get shot?”

“No… no, I’m okay, but I need a drink.”

“Me, too.”

They started walking to the saloon when the sheriff appeared in front of them.

“Good evening, gentlemen.”

Curry nodded.  “Evenin’, Sheriff.”

“You two are mighty good with those guns.”

“Lucky shot,” Heyes said, his voice a tad shaky.

“Appreciate you men not killing anyone.  Those cowboys were just drunk and dumb, but they do have friends.”

“Yes, sir,” the Kid agreed.

“So, I’m going to suggest instead of staying in the saloon for a drink or two, you buy a bottle and stay in your hotel room.  I’ll go by the café and ask Kay to take two of her daily specials up to your room.  Stay out of sight tonight and leave first thing in the morning.  Understand?”

“Yes, sir,” Heyes agreed this time.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Two cleaned-up former outlaws finished their dinner and sipped whiskey in their hotel room.

“How do you do it, Kid?”

“Do what?”

“Go against someone like that?”

Curry shrugged.  “I just concentrate on stayin’ alive.”  He took a drink.  “Where’d you learn to shoot like that?”

Heyes smiled.  “Watching my partner.”

“Hmmm… I’ve watched you open enough safes.  Maybe we oughta… Nah…”

Both men chuckled and took another sip.

“You know, I didn’t see you, but I knew you were there.  Once I felt your presence, I realized I could do it and a calm came over me letting me concentrate on what I needed to do.”

Kid Curry nodded in agreement.  “Feel the same when you’re backin’ me up.”

“Next time… IF there’s a next time…you can be up front,” Heyes stated.  ‘That was too nerve-wracking waiting for the other one to draw.”

“That’s fine with me.  I sure didn’t like bein’ in the back and not in control of the situation.”

“Guess that’s why we’re good partners.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

Two glasses clinked.

_________________
h
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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PostSubject: Re: Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown   Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:13 am

Continuation from last month - still not finished!

Decision at Sundown

How it happened.

Later the day of the Fair, the partners realised that they couldn't stay in town that night. Every hotel and boarding house was filled to overflowing. Provisioning themselves, they rode a little out of town to a nice spot and set up camp. The Kid had bought himself a cheese sandwich to tide him over until supper was ready. Not exactly a starter, more of an amuse bouche perhaps? With Heyes tending the fire, the Kid was munching away when both looked up at the sound of horses coming along the road at speed. Hands straying to their right sides, they got to the feet. The sheriff and several of his companions skidded to a halt and dismounted quickly.

"Get 'em boys," the sheriff ordered, gun already drawn. "Okay you two are under arrest. Get those hands up!"

With a glance at each other, they had no choice but to do as asked. They kept their hands up as men quickly whisked their guns from their holsters.

"What's this all about Sheriff?" Heyes inquired.

“Ya under arrest.”

“For what?”

“Hey!” the Kid protested, having the sandwich he was holding, plucked from his hand. “That’s my supper!”

“Nope. It’s evidence that’s what that is.”

“Ev .. evidence? Owh!” The Kid winced at his arms pulled behind his back.

“Evidence for what, sheriff?” Heyes gave a similar wince at the same treatment on him.

“Stealing the wheel of cheese from the Guess the Weight stall.”

The partners swopped glances. They must be dreaming. This was too bizarre to be real!

“Someone stole it?” Heyes' eyes were out on stalks.

“That’s right. Took right out from under ole Jacob's nose. Turned round to talk to the Widda Norman an' when he turned back it was gone. Like it vanished intake thin air! Darnedest thing.”

“What makes you think WE took it?” Heyes said first to recover.

“You were showing interest in it.”

Heyes grinned widely. “Well sheriff that’s ‘cos it was a Guess the Weight stall. You HAVE to show interest to be ABLE to guess the weight!”

“Yeah us and half the town,” the Kid added.

“So if you’ll just remove these here binds we’ll be on our way. No harm done,” Heyes said, smiling pleasantly.

“Nope, can’t do that. Not when I find ya in possession of the evidence.” The sheriff gestured with the half-eaten sandwich.

“I BOUGHT that from the café!”

The Kid’s appeal fell on deaf ears. Before they knew it, both were on their horses and on the way back to town.

In the jail and secure in a cell, the deputy undid the binds.

“Say Deputy?” Heyes called.

“Yeah?”

“There’s a book in my saddlebags. Any chance I could have it?” The deputy looked doubtful. “Y’know pass the time ‘till we get this sorted out.”

The deputy looked at the sheriff for instruction. He shrugged. On his desk were the boys’ saddlebags, placed there by another of the posse.

“Don’t see why not. This yours?” His hand went to the buckle of the top pair and Heyes nodded. “I’ll have to check it y’know.”

Heyes pursed his lips. “Go right ahead. Nothing to hide.”

“Except for his dirty socks. Watch out for them. They’ll blow ya head off!” the Kid grinned and then sobered when he saw the look Heyes was giving him. He shrugged. “What? Jus’ looking out for my fellow man.”

Heyes smacked his lips.

Exercising extreme caution the sheriff dug into saddlebags and found the book in question. He leafed through the pages and shook it vigorously until he was sure there was nothing secreted inside. Frowning at the cover, he brought it over.

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. That’s a little highbrow Mr Smith,” he said, passing it through the bars.

Heyes grinned widely. “Thanks Sheriff. It’s a real good book. Let you borrow it after I’ve finished with it.”

He swung his feet up and settled on his bunk, casually flicking through until he found his place near the end. Then sniffed contently and settled down to read.

The Kid gave a groan and settled down on HIS bunk to sleep under his hat.

 

ASJASJASJASJ

 

And now …

Heyes grinned and put out a hand to touch the Kid’s arm. That man removed his hat and turned his head to look at his partner. Seeing Heyes’ grinning face, he raised his eyebrows. Heyes nodded and inclined his head in the direction of the gently snoring deputy. The Kid grinned and started to move as Heyes reached down and extracted his knife from his boot.

The Kid acted as a shield in case the deputy woke and to mute somewhat any noise Heyes might make. It didn’t take long and Heyes was slowly opening the cell door. He winced slightly when it grated. They both glanced fearfully at the deputy, who just smacked his lips and turned his head, before settling again.

“I’ll be a couple of hours,” Heyes whispered, putting on his hat. The Kid nodded as Heyes slipped out. A nervous minute as Heyes relocked the cell from the outside this time and he was on his way, tiptoeing to the door. With a brief wave, he was gone.

The Kid settled once more on his bunk and placed his hat over his face. He was nearly asleep when … .

“Wowh!”

Under his hat, the Kid smiled. The deputy was awake! The Kid listened as the deputy recovered from his start. Heard the chair settle again and then feet hit the floor with a thud.

“What?”

As feet in a panic quickly travelled across the floor to the cell, the Kid removed his hat.

“Somethin’ wrong, Deputy?” he asked innocently.

The deputy spluttered, sleep muddled brain unable to articulate words. He pointed at the empty bunk.

“Ooh, where’s Mr Smith?” the Kid said, in fake astonishment, sitting up.

“That’s … that’s what I wanna know!”

“Well … .” The Kid pulled back the blanket to see if Mr Smith was there. It was obvious even to Ludlow's finest that he wasn’t. “Not there, deputy.” He peered under the bunk and then his own. “Not there either.” Now on his feet he shrugged at the open-mouthed deputy.

“Where’d he go?”

“How do I know? I’ve been sleep.” Just like you deputy he could have added. “Perhaps he went for a walk?” The Kid rattled the cell door, proving that it was locked. “Perhaps … .” He stroked his chin and took on a thinking face. “He vanished inta thin air!”

The deputy groaned. “I’ve gotta get the sheriff. Jus’ … don’t YOU go anywhere!”

“Nope. Weren’t plannin’ on goin’ anywhere, deputy.” The Kid settled on his bunk again. “I’ll be right here when ya get back.”

The deputy made a bolt for the door and the Kid grinned. He didn’t want to be in HIS boots for the next little while.

The Kid was just dropping off again when the street door opened with force.

“See Sheriff I tol’ ya he ain’t there!”

“I cen see that! What ya done with him?” Without waiting for an answer, he turned on the Kid. “Where is he? Where’d he go?”

“Beats me sheriff. When we woke up, he was gone.”

“GONE? JUS’ LIKE THAT?” the sheriff roared.

The Kid shrugged. “It would appear so.”

“How’d he get out?” He turned on his deputy. “D’ya leave this door unlocked?”

The deputy shook his head furiously as the Kid rattled the door, still locked.

“Where’d he go?”

The Kid shrugged. “How should I know? He jus’ wasn’t here when WE woke up that’s the nub of it.”

The sheriff looked at the Kid suspiciously. It took a few moments to digest what the Kid had said. “WE? WE!” He looked at the deputy who took a step back. “WE! Darn it Elmo you were asleep weren’t ya?”

“Er … .”

The Kid turned away and returned to his bunk. He wasn’t about to get much more sleep but the roasting the deputy was getting wasn’t any of his business.

 

ASJASJASJASJ

 

At daybreak, the Kid came awake as the Sheriff, who had decided to relieve his sleepy deputy for the rest of the night, stepped out back. Under his hat, the Kid waited and then heard the street door softly open, cautious footsteps enter, and the door close. Next, the faint scrapping of blade on lock, followed by the soft, slow squeaking of the cell door opening. The Kid pulled his hat away from his face and looked up to see his partner closing the cell door.

“Alright?” he whispered.

Heyes nodded, winced as he locked the door, made a circle with his thumb and forefinger as he turned away to his bunk. Not a moment too soon, he dived onto the bunk. Hat settled over his face, fingers laced together over his stomach and prone by the time the sheriff came into the office fully.

Where he stopped and stared. “WHAT?”

The jail’s two somnambulant occupants jumped awake, snatching off their hats and sitting up in panic.

“Sheriff? What’s the matter?” the Kid asked, in concern.

“YOU!” the sheriff pointed at Heyes.

“Me?” Heyes pointed at himself, his face a picture of innocence.

“How’d ya … ? Where … ? Where … ?”

The sheriff gripped the bars of the cell, his face turning several shades of red into puce.

“You weren’t here!”

The partners looked at each other.

“What d’you mean sheriff? We’ve both been asleep.”

“No you ain’t! YOU mebbe.” He pointed at the Kid. “But YOU weren’t here!” He shook his finger at Heyes.

Heyes shrugged. “What can I tell you, Sheriff?”

“Say Joshua I was having the weirdest dream when we woke up,” the Kid grinned and brushed Heyes’ knee with his fingertips.

“Yeah?” Heyes said, lying down on his bunk. “Tell me about it in the morning huh? It’s still early yet.” He yawned expansively. “Still have some more sleeping to do.”

The Kid nodded and resettled on his bunk. The sheriff looked from one to the other incredulously. He must be losing his mind! He knew the dark haired fella the one called Smith hadn't been there before. Yet now he was! As he walked by the cell on his way back to the desk, he gave the door a rattle. Locked. Definitely locked.

Under their hats, both ex-outlaws grinned.

 

ASJASJASJASJ

 

“Well how did ya get on?” the Kid asked, quietly as they ate the breakfast provided.

“Mmmm, good,” Heyes replied around a mouthful of egg and bacon. “I was right. I think the cheese was used for smuggling cards.”

“Huh?”

Heyes shook his head. “I don’t understand it either but … I’ve gotta lead.” Heyes was eating as though he hadn’t eaten in days instead of last night. “Trouble is I’ve gotta get out again to prove it.”

“Could be tricky,” the Kid said, flicking his eyes towards the sheriff, tucking into his own breakfast.

“Uh huh. That’s why this isn’t gonna agree with me.” He gestured with his fork at his plate. “He’ll … .” The fork flicked towards the sheriff. “have to call the doc to come take a look at me.”

“How’s that gonna help?”

Heyes grinned an eggy grin. “Remember Chad Walker?”

The Kid frowned. “I know the name.”

“Yeah he left the Hole not long after you got there. ‘Bout the same time as Lom left.”

“Didn’t he … .” Realisation dawned on the Kid’s face as a wide grin. “Wanna go to medical school. You mean he’s … HERE?”

“Yep. Bona fide doctor. Right here in Ludlow City. Ran into him last night. He was on his way back from an emergency.” Heyes chuckled. “Nearly had one of his own right in front of me. He was a mite surprised when I stepped outta the shadows.”

“Yeah,” the Kid nodded. “I would be.”

A flicker of a disgruntled frown crossed Heyes’ face, but then he chose to ignore that remark. “We ended up going back to his house. I told him all about our little sojourn in here … .”

“Sojourn?” the Kid queried. He looked up and met a grinning Hannibal Heyes.

“I thought you were reading that book, Thaddeus?” His eyes flicked meaningfully to the book on the Kid’s bunk.

“Perhaps I ain’t GOT that far!” the Kid scowled.

Smiling, Heyes turned his attention back to his breakfast. “It means temporary stay. I also told Chad WHY we was here. He wasn’t surprised.”

“He thinks WE stole it!” The Kid was incredulous.

“No! I told him what I suspected. Seems I was right.” He swallowed a mouthful and seeing that he had the Kid’s attention, continued. “There’s a by-law in this town. No gambling. Dunno how we missed THAT!" Heyes shook his head in despair.

"We were having all the fun of the Fair. Didn't make it to the saloon remember?"

Heyes nodded. “Yeah, remind me never to do THAT again. Anyway, Chad thinks that there is a certain element in the town who … .”

“HEY! You two! Either speak louder so I cen hear ya or shut up!”

“Sorry, sheriff,” they chorused, contritely.

A silent conversation passed between the two. Heyes pursed his lips, wanting to tell the Kid more but only able to convey the accepted, “go along with me.” The Kid nodded.

 

ASJASJASJASJ

“Oooh!”

The Kid looked over at his partner. Heyes was pulling a pained face and rubbing his stomach.

“Owwh!”

“Something wrong, Joshua?” the Kid asked, calmly. He turned a page in the book he was forcing himself to read.

“Yeeah! Guts feel like they’re gonna explode! Oooh!”

Thinking he should show some concern, the Kid sat up. He throw his legs over the side of the bunk, picking up the pitcher of water.

“Want some?” He poured a glass and held it out.

“Nooo!” Suddenly Heyes sat up quickly on the side of the bunk. He looked wide-eyed at the Kid. Swallowing hard, he whimpered, “Oh no!”

Then he lurched sideways.

The Kid wrinkled his nose as Heyes deposited the contents of his stomach on the cell floor. It always amazed him how Heyes could do that on demand. It was a ruse. Heyes had perfected it in Valparaiso and it had come in handy a time or two since. Eat quickly and take in lots of air appeared to be the answer.

“Er Sheriff. We gotta problem over here,” the Kid called.

Heyes groaned loudly and looked up. His hair was over his face and he was sweating. Or, he appeared to be. Only the Kid had witnessed the drops of water Heyes had quickly patted over his face.

The sheriff appeared at the bars and took in the scene. At Smith’s pale, almost green tinged face, at the mess on the floor, at Jones’ look of concern for his partner.

“Awh! Sheez!” He sighed. “Okay I’ll send for the doc.”

 

ASJASJASJASJ

 

When Dr Chad Walker arrived, the pair were in a different cell. Heyes sat with a bowl on his knees just in case.

A grumbling Elmo was finishing clearing up the mess in the old cell.

“Well Mr Smith what appears to be the problem?”

Heyes groaned. “It’s my stomach doc. Feels like its twisting inside out.”

Chad nodded and set his bag down next to his patient.

“Sheriff may I have a few minutes to examine my patient in private please?”

The Sheriff sighed. “Sure, Elmo ya finished?”

The deputy nodded. He mopped to the door of the cell “accidently” sweeping the mop over the toe of the sheriff’s boot. Keeping a straight face, he picked up the bucket and went out.

“What about him?” the sheriff growled, glowering at his deputy, nodding his head at the Kid.

Chad looked round. “Looks like he can go back to the other cell.”

The Kid trooped back to the original cell, flumped onto his bunk, wrinkled his nose at the faint smell of vinegar used to clean the floor, sighed and picked up the book yet again. This charade had better be worth it. He didn’t know how much more reading he could take!

“Lie down, Mr Smith and tell me where it hurts.”

Chad waited until both lawmen had left. “Just as you suspected Heyes, the cards were hidden in the middle of the wheel. Stealing the cheese is a diversion and so are you. While the sheriff is investigating, he’s not paying attention to who ELSE has arrived in town. The big game’s tonight but I don’t think I can get you into it Heyes.”

“Chad if they’re big time players like you say, they’re gonna recognise my alter ego, Carlton Balfour. He’s a legend … .” Heyes pulled a face. “Even if I do say so myself,” he muttered. “They’re not gonna pass up an opportunity to play poker with Carlton Balfour … .”

“Yeah I know but I've given it some thought and ... .”

“Chad if the Kid and me don't get outta here soon, the sheriff is gonna start looking at wanted posters. And guess who he's gonna find.”

“And if he finds out I helped you, then I'm in big trouble. I can't do it Heyes. I've gotta family. Now where d'you say it hurts? There?”

Heyes grunted as Chad pressed on his stomach. “Yeah. Owh! Right there, Doc.”

“Chad you've gotta help. For old time's sake, huh?”

Chad hesitated, sighed and finally nodded. “Alright. I'll come see how you are later. You'll have my decision then, at sundown.”

Heyes smiled and nodded.  “Thanks Doc.”

Chad left sometime later, telling the sheriff that he’d be back to check on his patient in the early evening.

The Kid returned to be with Heyes. As he climbed onto his bunk again, he said, “I sure hope next month's prompt helps MoulinP write us outta here. I'm fed up with lying in this cell reading this dang book!”
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PostSubject: Re: Mar 18 - Decision at Sundown   Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:18 pm

Decision at Sundown

“This poultice is the last thing I can try, otherwise, I’ve done all I can. I’ve got to go do my rounds now but I be back by dinner time.”

The elderly doctor straightened up from leaning over his patient’s bed and stretched out his back. He adjusted the wire-rimmed spectacles that were sliding down his nose before finally looking up at the worried young man, hovering just behind him. The doctor reached out to place an empathetic, firm hand on his patient’s friend’s arm and waited until he had the young man’s full attention.

“Thaddeus, if there is no change, I’ll need your decision by sundown. We can’t wait any longer than that.”

“Doc? I…”

“You know Joshua best. What would he want? What would you want if your places were exchanged? I know from our conversations that you understand what I’ve explained and the ramifications of your decision either way. I know from watching you with your friend over the past several days that you care deeply about him. Trust in yourself to use your head and follow your heart to do what is right for him.” The medical man glanced down at the flushed and restless patient lying in the bed before leaving the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

Two weeks ago

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry sat on their horses and contemplated the rickety wooden bridge over the deep, fast-flowing, small river. The trail dipped down to the riverside crossing where there was a cut in the high thickly-forested river bank.

The Kid asked, “what do you think? Is it safe?”

Heyes studied the bridge. He looked up the river. He looked down the river.

“There doesn’t appear to be anywhere else to cross unless you want to ride back several miles and go the other way.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“I know what you asked,” Heyes snapped crossly.

Both men dismounted, leading their horses forward to get a better look. Kid placed a booted foot on the first wooden slat and slowly leaned his full weight on that leg. He stepped back and then stamped down hard on the same slat.

Nothing happened.

Heyes shrugged. “Well, I guess there’s only one other way to find out and that’s we cross one a time, leading the horses so we spread the weight out a little bit more.”

Curry started forward.

“No wait, let me go first. I’m lighter than you and Clay is smaller and lighter than Blackjack.”

The Kid watched as his partner cautiously lead the chestnut gelding across the old bridge, switching his attention between the animal’s hooves and his friend’s boots as they advanced to the other side. A subtle errant creak suddenly captured the blond’s attention. Curry opened his mouth to warn his partner just when the creak became a loud crack as the next to the last wooden slat split in half. One side remained in place but the other half of the board sprung free and twisted up, striking Heyes in his calf just above the boot and stuck. Clay danced nervously in place before Heyes quickly pulled free of the rotted section of board and tugged the reluctant horse to the safety of the river bank.

“Heyes, are you okay?”

“Yeah, a nail got me but it’s hardly bleeding,” came the muffled reply as the older man bent and twisted to examine his hurt lower leg.”

“Do you want me to look at it and clean it while we are near fresh water?”

“Nah, I’ll take care if it myself once we get to the hotel in Forestville. Come on, the rest of the bridge was sturdy enough, although I’ll grant you it don’t look that way.”

Present

Kid Curry shook his tired and pounding head at the memory of such a minor hurt, at least it seemed that way at the time, considering what other injuries each man had experienced in their short lifetimes.

He cursed himself quietly but vehemently for the umpteenth time, “damn it, I know I shoulda insisted on cleaning it then, especially since it didn’t bleed good. And when Heyes didn’t complain, I didn’t question him but he seldom complains and I certainly didn’t look at his leg when I mighta had the chance. A man’s entitled to what privacy he can get.”

Curry sat on the chair beside the bed and plucked the washcloth from the basin of cool water, wringing the material with more force than necessary before placing the cloth on Heyes’ burning forehead. The Kid grasped his partner’s twitching hand and held it between his own steady ones. He could feel the racing pulse in the thin wrist, see the labored fast breaths, and involuntarily shuddered at the thought of the swollen and reddened lower limb underneath the poultice, bandages and sheet. When the doctor operated and found the hidden, small but deadly abscess, draining the puss and cutting away the rotting flesh that was tunneling down to the bone, Curry’s stomach churned at the sight and smell, never mind the worry flooding his mind.

“Heyes? Heyes, I sure wish you’d wake up so you could tell me what to do. I don’t think the doc’s advice is gonna lead me to the right decision for what we’re facin’.”

The sick man eyelid’s fluttered but did not open. Curry leaned over the bed and pulled his partner higher up on the pillows. “Come on partner, you gotta drink. The docs mighty worried you’re not passin’ enough water. In fact, you haven’t pissed all day,” he cajoled as he patiently spooned tablespoons of water into the slack mouth. He carefully watched for the slow swallow before filling the spoon once more. “He says if your kidneys aren’t workin’ it means that the infection is gettin’ into your blood. If that happens, well, we know it’s bad news and the leg below the knee is gonna hafta come off. And if we don’t do nothin’ and the infection gets into the bone than I’ll most likely be arrangin’ for a funeral. I sure don’t want to do that.”

The spoon clinked as it was dropped back into the half full glass on the side table. The Kid sighed and rubbed his bloodshot eyes. He rose from the chair and stood at the foot of the bed, studying the man for several long moments.

“The doc says think about what I would want if our places were exchanged. If only that could happen, I’d change places with you in a heartbeat, Heyes. Then the decision would be easy. I’d either live or die, but I’d be doing it in one piece. But I’m not you, am I? What would you want?” Curry spoke quietly, talking out his jumbled thoughts to the person who always listened, knowing the solution wasn’t coming this time from older man.

A soft breeze brought welcome fresh air into the closed sickroom. The Kid stepped to the half-opened window and took several deep breaths, trying to calm his own racing heart. He knew with certainty, from deep inside, that Thaddeus Jones or Kid Curry, it didn’t matter, neither could handle living without the full use of his body. A gunman, wanted or not, with a peg leg was a dead man or worse yet a burden for the one person who would never let him down.

But Hannibal Heyes or Joshua Smith, with that thought sandy brows drew into a tighter V, and Curry worked to tamp down the rising anger. Their unique situation in regards to the law loomed large in influence on how he would decide; amnesty would make all the difference in the world right now. Joshua Smith could live a good life with a peg leg. Would the governor take pity on Heyes and give him the amnesty then? That could be one good thing that came out of this whole mess. A free man with Heyes’ abilities would find a good job that could support a man and his family even with a wooden leg. Heyes’ quick mind, perseverance in solving problems, and an innate confidence in himself would overcome the temporary set back if the ex-outlaw was allowed to recover in peace. But for Hannibal Heyes, a man on the run, the situation was far too uncertain for the Kid’s way of thinking. Would Heyes even be able to ride a horse?

Curry looked away from the sunshine and back to the man he owed his life to in more ways than he could count. He solemnly vowed, “Heyes, I’ll look after you, if you need me, to my dying day. The very real problem, my friend, is that my dying day could be tomorrow, and then what?” He returned to the chair and resumed the task of spooning water into the sick man. By God, if the doctor wanted Heyes to pass his water, the Kid was making darn sure that enough fluids were in him to do so.

The shadows lengthened as the hours slowly passed. Kid Curry paced back and forth in the small room. He muttered to the figure on the bed, “I’ve seen you pace while you’re thinkin’ and come up with great ideas, maybe some not so great ideas, too, but at least somethin’ comes so I know it works for you but it sure isn’t working for me.”

All that came was a parade of good friends marching through the Kid’s mind – Lom, Clementine, Silky, Soapy, Georgette, even the Devil’s Hole Gang - and were all discarded for one reason or another as substitute caregivers or even as temporary refuges. Although, Kid reluctantly admitted to himself that if he could not find a job in town and a suitable boarding house he might be forced to take his partner to the one place he knew was safe to recover, Devil’s Hole and he would deal with Wheat. Well, safe from lawmen and bounty hunters; not safe as far as their amnesty was concerned. Would Heyes want to find a way to prove his continuing worth by falling into old ways and using his abilities to plan more robberies even if the planner could not physically take part? Curry fell back into the chair, held his head in his hands propped up by elbows set on his knees and squeezed his burning eyes shut as he thought over their past jobs. Yeah, there had been robberies that Heyes planned but had the Kid take over as leader, not many but a few over the years when Heyes had been sick or recovering from an injury and didn’t want to miss the window of opportunity.

The younger ex-outlaw sat up with a start, fully realizing what he was seriously considering. His blue eyes strayed to the sheet draped limb in question, trying to imagine what it would look like after the amputation the doctor was suggesting was necessary. He whispered in the quiet room, “Will you thank me, for this? Will you forgive me?”

Curry’s eyes strayed to the window, noticing with dread that the sky was turning shades of orange, red, and purple. He found the matches and lit the bedside lamp, which threw a beam of light across patient’s face. A long low moan from the figure in bed had the blond up and hovering over the man in a flash.

“Heyes? Heyes, can you hear me?” The Kid gently shook his partner’s shoulders. Again, the eyelids fluttered but did not open.

“Heyes?” He lightly patted the flushed cheek. The dark head rolled with purpose away from the annoyance. Curry tilted his cousin’s head back towards him so he could watch for the brown eye’s opening and wondered if it was just wishful thinking that Heyes seemed a little cooler.

“Heyes? Joshua? Han? Hey, Hannibal! Wake up! Come on now, it’s almost sundown and I’m gonna be forced into a situation that scares me more than any gunfight. Han, do think I’m a selfish man? Is it selfish not to want to let you go? I guess I am, I’m more selfish than I want to admit, partner, because I’m gonna decideto do what is best for me and I can only hope is right for you.”

The Kid reached out for Heyes’ hand and gave a gentle squeeze. The hand weakly squeezed back. Curry’s pupils dilated and blue eyes fixated on the pale hand. “Heyes, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can?”

The fine-boned fingers of Hannibal Heyes’ hand tightened ever so slowly.

“Good, that’s good. Can you open your eyes?”

Dark eyelashes fluttered, and slits in puffy eyelids briefly appeared before once more dropping closed.

“Fine, that’s a start. You work on waking up, I’ll be right here.”

Cracked lips moved and the Kid bent over, straining to hear.

“Kid?” drifted up in a deep raspy whisper.

“Yeah, it’s me, Thaddeus. We’re at the doctors. We’re alone now, the doc’s out on rounds and his wife is away visiting their daughter. But the doc is due back any time now, Joshua.”

“Water.” Heyes weakly coughed out as his eyes opened, stayed at half mast, and blearily stared up at the ceiling

Curry slid his arm under his partner’s shoulders and plumped the pillows for support. He retrieved the water glass from the bedside table and held it to the sick man’s lips, gently tipping a small amount for Heyes to swallow.

“Thanks, what time is it?”

Curry was so tired, he couldn’t control the near hysterical laughter at the question, so typical but Heyes didn’t yet know how serious that question was on this day.

Brown eyes widened slightly as older man turned and slightly tilted his head questioningly.

“Ki…Thaddeus?” The raspy baritone was becoming a little less raspy and slightly stronger.

Curry worked hard at getting himself under control as he once again pushed the water glass against Heyes’ lips and coaxed him to drink.

“Thaddeus?”


“Yeah?”

“I need…”

“Anything, what do you need?”

“I need the pot.”

“You need the pot? You’re sure you need the chamber pot?” Curry broke out into a big grin.

Heyes, in spite of still burry vison and a fogged mind, wondered how the Kid could look so worried and happy at the same time. And what about a chamber pot had him grinning like a loon, they both hated them and used the convenience as a last resort.

The blond helped position the pot and turned to give Heyes some privacy when he heard the front door close and the doctor’s footsteps head towards the small bedroom’s door. Curry bounded across the short distance and flung open the door to come face to face with the doctor.

“Doc! Joshua woke up! He’s taking a piss, using the pot right now. You wanna see?” Curry grabbed the doctor by the arm and started to pull him towards the bed.

“Thaddeus, a little privacy would be nice.” Heyes wearily panted at his friend and his flushed face turned redder.

“No, you don’t understand. The doc’s been worried about your kidneys not workin’ right and shuttin’ down.” Curry patted his partner’s shoulder reassuringly and he retrieved the chamber pot with it’s precious contents, to him at least, and held it out for the medical man’s inspection.

Brown eyes were shrouded once more and the dark-haired ex-outlaw’s breaths became regular and deeper, if still a bit labored.

“Well, doc?”

“The urine is concentrated but it is a goodly amount considering the patient’s condition. Here, why don’t you take care of this out back while I wash my hands. Then we’ll take a look at the leg before I say anymore.”

The Kid reentered the room, which for the last few days felt like a hellish prison of doom and gloom, with a tiny bit of hope for the first time. His eyes immediately shot to the exposed injured limb. It was hard to tell at this distance if there was an improvement or was he foolishly clinging to what he wanted instead of what was real. He stood there immobile, staring.

The experienced medic turned towards the door. He smiled and gestured for Curry to come forward. “I think, Mr. Jones, that you need to see this.”

The man who walked into the middle of streets to face a loaded six-gun found his feet paralyzed with fear. It was sundown and the decision had to be made.

“Thaddeus? Thaddeus, Mr. Smith has made the decision for us.”

Kid gathered himself up, walked to position himself beside the doctor, balanced his weight on two feet, planted shoulder width apart, and hooked his thumbs into his gun belt. Curry’s face settled in to a mask of non-expression as he cocked his head slightly in confusion.

“Joshua woke up again and told you what he wanted? He understood? ‘Cause he seemed a little foggy to me.”

“No, I mean that there is an improvement in the wound. The poultice helped. You spooning water into him constantly helped. See, there’s no more pus draining, the wound is red but the good kind of red that means that healthy blood is getting to where it needs to be. Thaddeus, Joshua’s body has decided that the leg is staying, at least for now and if we continue to take care and all three of us work hard, your friend will walk out of this room on his own two feet.”

Kid Curry let out a long slow exhale. His tired blue eyes brightened and the corners of his mouth widened into a smile of joy and relief. “That’s great Doc. Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet. There is still at lot to be done.”

“I know but that’s okay. It’s sundown and the decision doesn’t have to be made. We’ll do what needs to be done and Joshua and me will both be thankin’ you.”










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