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 Aug 18 - Rascals

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Calico

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PostSubject: Aug 18 - Rascals    Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:37 pm

Hola Hola you writerly Varmints...

Your challenge for August, should you choose to accept it...

IS

IS

Rascals ...


Which was popped into the ever open suggestions box for (deliberate capitalisation) The List
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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:00 pm

Rascals
By Maz McCoy

“You gonna write down everything I say?” the old lady asked as she placed two cups of steaming coffee on the kitchen table.
“Yes, ma’am,” the young man replied. He watched as she pulled out a chair and sat opposite him.
“You write that fast, huh?”
“I use shorthand.”
“Well, okay, get your pen ready and ask ya questions.”
The young man opened his notepad and picked up a pen. “What do you remember about the first time you met them?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” she chuckled. “Rascals, that’s what I thought. The first time I met them I could tell those two were gonna be trouble.”
The young man looked up her at. “In what way?”
“Every way. They could sweet talk any of the ladies; get extra food, a longer recess, another pillow for their bed. Oh, those two were a wily pair and you never played cards with that dark-haired one.”
“You played cards with them?” He appeared surprised.
“Sure did. It was a way to pass the time and they all knew how to play, ‘cept that dark-haired one knew better than any of them. Don’t think I ever won a game against him. Oh, and he had the cutest dimples.” She smiled. “Funny the things you remember, but yes, he had dimples and they’d appear when he’d smile just so.”
“What else do you remember about him?” He took a sip of coffee as she thought.
“There was a sadness about him. He didn’t show it much but it would surface now and then.”
“Did he say why?”
“Oh, I didn’t ask. I know they’d both lost their families back in the war. I just assumed it was that. There were a lot of folks in the same position and it just wasn’t somethin’ you talked about.”
“What about the other one?”
“He had it too. He’d go real quiet, sit off by himself and you’d know he was remembering. But oh, he was a sweetheart. Bluest eyes I ever saw and when he smiled,” she smiled again.  “I had a real soft spot for him, especially when he’d give me that look and fold his arms across his chest the way he always did. I’m sure he broke a lot of hearts in his time.”
“Did you ever see him with a gun?”
“A gun? Are you nuts? They weren’t allowed guns!”
“I guess I wondered if you ever saw an example of how fast he was.”
“Fast at gettin’ in and out of trouble, that’s for sure.” She picked up her coffee cup and drank as he scribbled. “Those two sure were a pair.”
“Did they ever show any signs of being train robbers?”
“What kind of foolish question is that?”
“I just wondered if you ever saw anything or they ever did anything that made you realised who they really were.”
“Who they really were was Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones.”
“I meant Hannibal…”
“I know what you meant, young man. We all knew they were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry but that was a long time ago. To us they were Joshua and Thaddeus, always had been and always will be. They were two of the nicest old men I ever met or ever will for that matter.”
“And it didn’t bother you that they used to rob trains and banks?”
“No, it did not. They were in their eighties. It weren’t like they were gonna start doing it again. Besides, they’d turned over a new leaf. Got that amnesty from the Governor and turned out to be real good citizens. It was an honour to have looked after them both.”
The young man scribbled some more.
“Why you so interested in them anyway?”
The young man put down his pen and looked at the coffee in his cup. It was a few moments before he spoke. “My Grandpa was a friend of theirs.”
This piqued her interest. “Was he now?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m writing a book about his life and they were a big part of it. They might have spoken about him.”
“Who was he?”
“Lom Trevors.”


Thought I'd add that I used the term recess to indicate a break between sessions, not a child's playtime. Used it as a bit of a red-herring sm

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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:34 pm

Missing scene from "A Fistful of Diamonds." I'm assuming that, after Heyes and Curry confronted August Binford, only a few hours passed before Betsy came to visit Curry in his hotel room.

---------------------------
“Sometimes I think he’s never going to learn, and then, what do you know but – heavens! I’m neglecting my duty as a hostess. More tea, Margaret?”

“Please.” She held out the delicate china cup.

“It’s the same thing, time and time again. Some fast-talking rascal approaches him with a deal that’s a sure thing. It could be a gold mine that everyone thinks is played out, but no, there’s gold every engineer and prospector have somehow missed, and they need money to open up a new mother lode. And, of course, he believes it, and he invests money, and then, boom! It’s gone.”

“Gone? Which, the mine or the money?”

Margaret was rewarded with an irritated look. “Both. Well, the mine still exists, but it’s worthless. Not only is the money gone, but whatever rascal talked him into it is gone, too – with the cash, of course. Not a penny is ever returned on the investment. Even if the con man doesn’t disappear, the mine’s been picked clean. Or, if they do find three ounces of gold, the original owner still holds the title to everything. It’s just another investment gone bad, and there’s no crime to be prosecuted.”

Margaret blew on the steaming tea, stalling for time while she tried to think of something original to say. Inspiration failed her. Each visit for tea meant listening to a long list of complaints that eventually came back to money and the lack of it.

“Honestly. You’d think a banker would know better, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, you would! When I confront him about it, he always says, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ Nothing gained and plenty lost, that’s what I say. I’ve told him to stop speculating and concentrate on making his bank profitable for a change, but he refuses to listen to me. It’s like talking to a wall. I’m not a fool, you know. I haven’t been Mrs. August Binford for twenty years without learning something about banking and investments. And the first thing I learned was, don’t throw good money after bad. We’d be better off if I ran the bank and he managed the home; that’s what I think.” She flounced onto the overstuffed sofa, spreading her voluminous skirt carefully around her.

“Oh, Winifred.” Margaret leaned forward to pat her friend’s hand. “It must be so hard for you.”

“It is. If my father hadn’t put this house and land in a protected trust, August would’ve mortgaged it by now, and we’d be homeless. Homeless, I tell you! As the wife of a bank president, I have a position in society to maintain, and I certainly couldn’t do that from some hovel.”

“No, I suppose not.” She held the teacup to her lips, trying to hide her smile. The mental picture of the very proper Winifred Binford trying to rule local society from a broken-down cabin, bossing around her husband while he mucked out a pig slough, was satisfying. She decided to change the subject.

“Are you still planning to go to Europe for a few months? I know you’ve been talking with your husband about that for some time now.”

“Talking about it, yes. But every time I bring it up, August says we can’t afford it, not on his salary. I would think a bank president makes a handsome salary, wouldn’t you? But August says no, we don’t have the money. Sometimes I think even he doesn’t know where his money goes.”

Margaret kept her face carefully blank. Apparently, Winifred was still the only person in town who didn’t know where her husband’s money was going.

“Perhaps next year,” she soothed. “After all, his responsibilities have increased since that terrible robbery when poor Mr. Wells was killed. He has to handle all the manager’s duties as well as his own.”

“True, true. It takes so much of his time. He was away a lot before that happened, but now, he’s almost never home! He’s gone most evenings.”

Margaret’s expression didn’t change. She knew where August Binford spent his evenings. It was common knowledge that he kept a mistress. She wondered, not for the first time, about her duty as a friend. Should she tell Winifred the truth about Betsy, or was it more kind to keep silent? The truth would certainly be painful to hear. On the other hand, the prospect of seeing August Binford and that little trollop face the well-deserved wrath of the formidable Winifred was almost irresistible.

“Anyway,” Winifred continued, oblivious to her friend’s dilemma, “What I wanted to tell you is, he’s changed, truly changed. All the years of speculating on mining stocks and failing are over. Everything has changed.”

“Really! Changed how? You mean August stopped listening to lying rascals and started listening to you instead?”

Winifred reached for a lace fan and snapped it open. Margaret gritted her teeth. She could do without the dramatic pauses. But she was a lady, she reminded herself, and she would behave. Besides, Winifred’s position as the bank president’s wife did give her a high social status, and no woman with hopes of inclusion in decent society could cross her.

“I really shouldn’t say anything, but . . . oh, for heaven’s sake. Everyone will know soon enough. Margaret, I am SO excited.” She leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially, even though the two women were alone in the parlor. “Now you mustn’t tell anyone, especially that sister of yours whose husband runs the newspaper. I’m sorry to have to say this, but you know what a magpie she is. Anything she hears shows up in the newspaper the next day.”

“Of course, it would. She’s the society columnist. She’s supposed to write about everything she hears.”

“Yes, yes, of course. But not just yet. August wants to make a proper formal announcement.”

“Now I’m intrigued,” Margaret said. “Formal announcement about what? Has he found an abandoned mine with an undiscovered mother lode after all?”

Winifred sat up straight, shoulders back, ample bosom lifted. “Even better. It’s a diamond field. He’s discovered a rich diamond field and he’s organized a corporation to sell shares. We are going to be wealthier than we ever imagined!”

Margaret was too stunned to reply. Winifred reached out and put a reassuring hand on her friend’s arm.

“Now don’t worry. While we will certainly be spending significant time in Europe, we are not going to forget our friends here.”

“A diamond field? In these parts? I’ve never heard of such a thing. My dear, are you sure this isn’t another hairbrained scheme?”

“Positive!” Winifred pulled back, as if she were insulted. “August has been there himself with the prospectors who discovered it. He showed me the diamonds he found there.”

“He found diamonds? Where, just lying on the ground, like bread crumbs on the floor after dinner? Winifred. Please. No one has ever heard of diamonds being discovered in this part of the country. It must be some sort of devious confidence game. You’ve told me yourself how gullible August can be, how easily he can be taken in by a smooth talker. He’s being fooled again; can’t you see that?”

“Not this time.” Winifred was as close to gushing as she ever came. “Oh, I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t blame you. I’ve complained about August’s failed ventures often, and bless your heart, you’ve been nothing but patient with me and my troubles. And yes, it’s true, he’s been carried away before, but this time, he took an expert with him to inspect the diamond field, a mining engineer, and the engineer certified that it’s real. Absolutely certified it! And now August has set up a corporation and will be selling shares.”

“My goodness! Certified by a mining engineer, you say?”

“Yes, indeed, someone who knows firsthand how diamonds are found in Africa. I doubted the story too, at first. I thought the same thing as you, especially when he told me about the prospectors who discovered the diamond field, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. I mean, really! I thought those names had to be aliases, but August told me, they have to be real because no crook would be stupid enough to make up suspicious names like that. Anybody knows that.”

“Anybody who’s so desperate for money he’s willing to believe lies told by some charming rascals. Oh Winifred! My husband has seen those two around town, the ones who call themselves Smith and Jones. They spend every night at the saloon, gambling until the small hours. No one knows anything about them, who they really are, where they came from. They have no visible means of support except what they win at the gaming tables. Sheriff Acuff was asked to investigate them, but he said, as long as they don’t break any laws in his town, he doesn’t intend to bother with them. They could be wanted men, for all we know. Even if they’re not criminals, they certainly are clever rascals, the very type of con man who’s tricked August in the past. Why would you believe anything those two would say?”

Winifred shook her head. “I’ll tell you why. It’s not only the report from the mining engineer. August had the jeweler in town verify the value of the uncut stones those two brought in for deposit, and they’re real. And, he sent those raw, uncut diamonds to T.F. Ayres in New York, and they certified that the stones were of the very highest quality. They are worth a fortune.”

“Heavens.” Margaret carefully put her cup in the saucer. “That does make the story more believable, doesn’t it?” Winifred only smiled. “And he’s set up a corporation, you said?”

“Yes, he has, the American Diamond Company. In fact, he’s meeting with Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones right now to get them to sign over the claim, giving the corporation control of the diamond field. He’s so confident, he’s already paying them $50,000 for their claim. Yes, that much. Don’t look like that, Margaret; that expression ages you. It’s a pittance, though, considering the value of the shares. In fact – “ Both women turned at the sound of the front door opening, and both jumped slightly at the sound of it being slammed hard. Heavy footsteps stomped down the hall.

“August, dear, is that you, home so early?” Winifred called out.

The footsteps paused, then continued towards the parlor where the two women sat. August Binford appeared in the doorway.

“Yes, it’s me, dear.” He seemed to notice Margaret suddenly.

“Margaret. Hello. I didn’t know you were visiting today. How pleasant to see you again.” His tone of voice indicated that seeing her was anything but pleasant. The two women exchanged silent looks.

“Of course, you wouldn’t remember, dearest. You’ve been so busy lately with the business of the diamond field,” Winifred soothed. “I’ve just been telling Margaret all about your wonderful new corporation.”

“You’ve been doing what?” His voice rose till it was almost shrill and his face reddened. “You’ve been discussing that, when I specifically told you to say nothing about it until everything was signed? How could you do that, when you promised me you wouldn’t?”

The women exchanged another quick glance, their mouths slightly open.

“I’m sure it’s no harm done, August,” Margaret said. “Winifred tells me everything was being signed today, isn’t that right? And please don’t be harsh with her. After all, you’ll want word to get out, since you’re selling shares.”

“And you’re quite good at seeing word gets out, aren’t you? Or that sister of yours is. Always has her ear to the ground, doesn’t she? Always interfering in other people’s business. Always a busybody.”

“August!” Winifred rose, shocked. “How terribly rude! You do not address guests in that manner! Ever!”

Margaret also rose, but silently. She reached for her hat and put it on.

“I can see that I am no longer welcome here,” she said, quietly. “Unfortunately, Horace is not coming to pick me up for another half hour, but I can wait outside on the porch. Thank you for your hospitality, Winifred. As always, you are the perfect hostess.” Her chill glance switched to August. “Sadly, I can’t say the same about everyone in this residence. Good day to you both.”

August quickly stepped over to intercept her.

“My dear Margaret, please forgive me. I don’t know what came over me. The stress of this deal, I suppose. It’s the biggest I’ve ever –” He looked desperately at his wife. “Winifred, please tell her. It’s just – help me out, will you?”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “Won’t you sit down, Margaret, and give August a chance to explain?”

Margaret looked from husband to wife and back again and relented. “Well . . . of course, August, I forgive you.” Winifred relaxed, but August, if anything, looked more ill at ease. “And you needn’t blame Winifred. She didn’t tell me any details, only the broad outline. It sounds like a marvelous opportunity.” She reached to take her hat off again but stopped when August interrupted her.

“Actually . . . actually, I think it is best if you excuse us. Some issues have arisen on which I must consult my wife. In private. Very confidential matters, you see. A unique case. If you wouldn’t mind waiting on the porch . . . “

Winifred stared at her husband, her mouth slightly open, but saying nothing. She appeared to be in shock.

“Yes, perhaps that’s best. I certainly don’t want to intrude on a private conversation.” She reached over and took Winifred’s hand. “I’ll just wait on the porch. Horace should be here shortly. I hope you’ll call on me soon, dear.”

Winifred finally recovered her voice. “Yes. Of course.” Turning to her husband, she asked, “I hope this is really necessary, August. You’ve certainly embarrassed yourself, and me, by your behavior.”

“We need to talk,” he said. “Now.”

“I’ll see myself out.” Margaret slipped quietly out of the room, leaving her hosts standing with their fists clenched. It felt good to step outside and close the front door behind her. The tension in the parlor was suffocating. She turned and looked at the door, as if staring at it would provide the reasons for that little scene she’d just witnessed, but the door kept its secrets. She sat down in a wicker chair and settled down to wait. She wished she had something to read.

She had barely gotten comfortable before she heard something from inside the house. She turned sideways and tried to make out what the sound was. Realization made her sit up with surprise – August and Winifred were shouting at each other. She leaned forward, trying to make out what they were saying. It wasn’t August shouting as much as it was Winifred. The words were indistinct, but the tone wasn’t. Then the sound changed – it wasn’t shouting so much as . . . was Winifred crying? And shouting, too? Something crashed, then something else. Were they throwing things? It sounded like something breaking. She hoped it wasn’t the tea set, because it was a very lovely set of china and was probably worth a pretty penny.

She wasn’t sure what to do. She wasn’t sure what she could do, since her host and hostess had clearly exiled her to the porch so that she wouldn’t hear their conversation. She was torn between putting her ear to the door and trying to make out the words, and walking away, down the path, where she could meet Horace, and where she didn’t have to be witness to the ugliness happening within. A lady, Margaret decided, was discreet. She got up and started walking.

She’d barely walked a hundred yards before she saw Horace coming with the wagon. She stood to the side and waited for him. He pulled up the horses about 20 feet in front of her. He was grinning as she walked up to him.

“Was it that bad, you had to run off?” he asked. He got down and helped her onto the seat, then expertly turned the horses around to head back home.

“How come you didn’t wait for me on the porch, Mama?” he asked. “You didn’t need to walk out to meet me.”

“Mr. Binford came home early. He wanted to talk to Mrs. Binford privately, so I excused myself a little early.”

“Must’ve been pretty important, if he came home in the middle of the day to talk to her. Usually he does anything he can to avoid her and that house.”

“I suppose so,” she said. “How was your day?”

“I saw someone famous. You’ll never guess who.”

“In this town? You’re right, I could never guess. Who?”

“A sheriff from Wyoming, name of Lom Trevors. Used to run with the Devil’s Hole Gang when he started out, then he went straight. Keeps a low profile, but I heard tell the Wyoming governor uses him for all sorts of special secret cases.”

“Really? So he’s on a special, secret case in this town?” August Binford’s pale face flashed into her memory.

“Guess so. I saw him walking with that Smith fellow, who’s been hanging around town the last couple weeks. Got to be some sort of crime they’re investigating, else Trevors wouldn’t be here. Maybe they’re working on the bank robbery. Can’t think of much else criminal to bring them to town, can you?”

Margaret twisted around in her seat to take one last look at the Binford residence.

“No,” she said, “I can’t think of much else.”





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Nebraska Wildfire

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PostSubject: Rascals   Wed Aug 22, 2018 12:09 pm

“Heyes, what’s this place called again?” Kid Curry asked breathlessly as they halted at the top of the ridge, overlooking the cluster of buildings in the valley before them.

Hannibal Heyes pulled his horse around to look back on the way they had come, but once they had crested the top of the mountain, they could not see the posse that had been trailing them for two days.

“Rascal Flats,” Heyes answered shortly, and turned to start down the hillside.

“You sure we’re gonna be welcome?” the Kid asked.  “‘Specially with a posse on our tail?”

“Oh, I’m certain McQueen’s forgotten all about that last poker game we played in Yuma.”  Heyes kept his eyes on the ravine down which they were hurrying their horses.

The Kid just shook his head, and continued to follow his partner down the steep trail.

Eventually they came to the entrance of a slot canyon, the russet sides rising before them.  The Kid looked up to the azure sky, not seeing any clouds.  “Well, for once, Heyes, it looks like our luck is holding out.”  He peered down the narrow confines of the canyon as Heyes started in.  Shadows obscured the walls.  “Wouldn’t want to be in here if there was any chance of rain.”

“No, we wouldn’t, Kid,” Heyes agreed.  “Don’t really want to be captured by a posse, but don’t exactly want to drown either.  These canyons fill with water quicker than a horse can out run it.”

The Kid nodded as they rode deeper into the gloom created by the overhanging rock.  “How do McQueen and his boys make it in and out of here when they need to?”

“I heard tell that there’s a back entrance to the Flats, but no one but McQueen knows where it is.”  Heyes looked around, peering up to the sliver of daylight above.  “He also had this horse, that he swore could outrun the water.”

“Don’t see how that’s likely,” the Kid replied as he peered back the way they came, not seeing anything but the rapidly disappearing light at the entrance.

“Called him Lightning,” Heyes replied.

They rode along in companionable silence for a minute or two, listening for sound of any pursuit, when into the quiet came the echo of a rifle being readied.

“Ya’all stop right there.”  The voice reverberated down the rock walls.

They cautiously pulled up on their horses, and made certain their hands were visible from above.  Heyes cleared this throat and started to look up.

“Jus’ keep your noggins down.  Whatcha all doin’ comin’ down here?”

“Well, to be perfectly honest, we have a posse after us,” Heyes replied.

The Kid’s eyes slid over to look at his cousin.

“You’re bringin’ us a posse?” the voice exclaimed.  “McQueen ain’t gonna be happy about that, no sir.”

“McQueen still runnin’ things here?” Heyes asked hopefully.  “We’re old friends,” He gave the Kid a look to keep him quiet.

“Wall, what’s your name, then?”

“Hannibal Heyes, and this here is Kid Curry.” He nodded towards his cousin, whose eyes had widened with the actual truth coming our of Heyes’ mouth.

Laughter echoed down upon them.  “That’s some tale you’re thinkin’ I’m gonna believe.”  More laughter followed, but then he continued.  “Wall, McQueen can sort that all out when we get to the Flats.  ‘Fore we continue on though, ya’all will need to empty the bullets out o’ your guns.  Don’t get any wild ideas while doin’ that.  Unless one of yous really is Kid Curry, doubt if you can get a bullet up the canyon without it hitting the wall and ricochetting back down on you.”

Heyes’ and Curry’s eyes met, but they slowly pulled out their six guns and emptied the bullets into the dust beneath their horses’ hooves.  The Kid glanced thoughtfully up the slot canyon walls.  Heyes’ eyes became hard and his lips formed a thin line.

“Kid, I’d listen to him.  Don’t get any fancy ideas,” Heyes said quietly.

“Don’t worry about me, Heyes,” the Kid replied, his eyes sharp.

“Ya’all really Heyes and the Kid?” the voice wafted down to them.  “This here canyon does a bang up job echoing voices on up.”

“Yes,” Heyes looked up but couldn’t see anything but the barrel of a rifle pointed over the edge.  “And we really do have a posse after us, not as far behind as we’d like, ‘specially if we’re gonna be having another chat.”

Laughter echoed down again.  “Woohee!  We’s gonna have us an inneresting time, no doubt.”  He paused.  “Heck, there they be!  Just coming off the mountain.  Ya’all best get down the canyon quick as you can.  I’ll discourage them here a bit.”

Heyes and Curry didn’t wait for any further instructions but urged their horses down the ravine as fast as they dared.  The sound of three rapid shots followed them down the tight rock walls.

“I think he shot those into the air, Heyes,” the Kid said as they continued down the canyon.

Heyes just nodded, and they urged the horses faster.  Suddenly there was a flurry of shots behind them, and they gave up all attempt at safety and rode hell bent for leather down the treacherous chasm.

Before they knew it, they were barreling out of the end of the slot canyon into a clearing filled with a handful of buildings, and a line of outlaws brandishing everything from a Colt to a sawed off shotgun.

“McQueen!” Heyes yelled as soon as they had cleared the ravine.

Both Heyes and Curry pulled up on their horses as tightly as they dared.  Even so they almost rode directly though the line of weapons.  All of the outlaws were ready to fire and it was only a last minute yell by their leader that stopped some unfortunate bloodshed.

“Heyes!”  McQueen exclaimed.  “Hold your fire!”  He walked up to where Heyes and Curry were trying to settle their horses, their hands clearly visible.

“If it isn’t the devil himself, it’s Hannibal Heyes.” McQueen smiled up at them.  “And I’d guess Kid Curry too.  What are you doing here?”

“What the heck do you think we’re doing, McQueen?” Heyes laughed dryly.  “We’re running.”

At that moment there was another burst of gunfire echoing down the canyon.

“Mater stopped you, before you came further in?”

Both of the boys nodded, and the Kid continued, remembering the three signal shots.  “Uh, we have to worry about that posse back there?” He pointed back down the ravine.  Their horses were still prancing a bit, not yet settled after the run to get there.

“Nah,” McQueen answered.  “We”d already planned to send a couple more boys, Luigi and Guido, to back up Mater, when he fired those warning shots.  That recent flurry of shots would have been them.”  He looked up at the boys.  “Might as well get on down.  Then we can discuss what we’re going to do with you.”  McQueen turned to one of his men before they headed to a cabin in the shade of the bluffs rising around the clearing.  “Stanley, go double-check that Mater and the boys have persuaded the posse to go elsewhere.”

McQueen pulled out a bottle and three glasses as they settled in the front room of the cabin.  It was even more comfortable than the one they had back in the day at Devil’s Hole, and definitely much more comfortable than the back of a horse with a posse shooting after them.  McQueen was a tall, well built man, with bright red hair.  His clothes seemed a bit flashy for the run of the mill outlaw, but as Heyes knew, he had started life back in the neighborhoods of New York.

He eyed them again.  “I’ve not heard much about you boys lately.”

The Kid looked at Heyes as he paused.  “No, well, we’ve kind of retired.”

“Leaving it to us younger types?”  McQueen laughed heartily.  “You two are getting a bit long in the tooth.”

Neither Heyes nor the Kid looked happy at that, but Heyes continued.  “Yeah, something like that.”

McQueen quieted, looking thoughtful.  “So are you boys bringing us any problems besides the obvious?  I figure that posse probably will be back.”  He looked from one of them to the other.  “You’re still wanted, aren’t you?  Ten thousand a piece?”

Heyes nodded, but the Kid replied.  “As far as we know.”

A light suddenly came to McQueen’s eyes.  “Oh, you two wouldn’t be trying for amnesty, would you?”

The Kid looked uncomfortable, and Heyes looked like he didn’t know what to say.

‘You are?” McQueen asked, surprised.  “I can’t say I have the best respect for elected officials, but I didn’t think the governor of Wyoming had a death wish.”

“Well, he didn’t promise he’d do it tomorrow,” Heyes started.  “But someday.”

“And in the meantime, you’re still wanted, and being chased by posses.”

The boys just nodded.

“Geeze, boys, you’re making Mater look smart.”  He shook his head.  “Why didn’t you pull one last job and go to, I don’t know, somewhere like Mexico?”

“‘Cause we like it here,” the Kid answered quietly.

“Well,” McQueen finished his shot.  “Looks like you’ll be here for a while, least until we can get rid of the posse.”  He smiled.  “It will give me a chance to win back all that money you took from me in Yuma, Heyes.”

“I got all of eight dollars and forty-two cents, McQueen,” Heyes replied with a wry smile.  “You’re welcome to all of that you can win.”

“What?”

“Bein’ honest don’t quite pay as well,” the Kid replied.

“How much do you have?” McQueen asked the Kid.

“Twelve dollars and sixteen cents,” Curry replied.  “I don’t waste so much of mine on poker.”

“And this is a good deal?”  McQueen just shook his head.


The posse made another attempt into Rascal Flats, but after the boys on the top of the slot canyon winged a couple, they backed off to regroup.  Mater came back into camp to report.

“Wall, I cain’t say as they is the smartest posse, boss,” he said to McQueen.  “They’s camping just beyond the canyon.”

McQueen looked up at the clouds that had been forming at the afternoon wore on.  “You mean down by the dry lake?  Where the water pools after it rushed down out of the gully?”

“Yup,” Mater nodded.  “In the shade of trees and cliffs.”

“Haven’t these boys ever seen a wash before?”  McQueen shook his head, and looked towards Curry and Heyes.  “Well, your problems may take care of themselves.”

“Shouldn’t we warn them?” Curry asked.

“You want to go on back out and do that, Kid?” McQueen asked.

“Well, no, not really,” Curry admitted.  “But it bothers me to leave them there in danger.”  He looked towards Heyes.  “That sheriff was from Kansas, remember?”

Heyes reluctantly nodded.  “Dodge City.  That’s where we saw him last.”  He looked up at the clouds.  They would soon release their wrath, in either a rain or dust storm.  “Probably never encountered a slot canyon before.”

“You boys remember the reason you came in here?” McQueen asked incredulously.  “Because he was leading a posse to capture you?”

They were looking up at the clouds gathering, when Mack rode back into camp.  “Well, some of them boys are right smart.  They’ve hightailed it out of the lake bed and back up the mountain.”

“Some of the locals, I’d assume,” McQueen replied.

Mack nodded.  “That darn sheriff is still there though, with a couple of his boys.”  He looked over towards Heyes and Curry.  “Guess they don’t want to give up on that twenty thousand.”

“Will when they’s drown,” Mater offered.

The Kid looked towards Heyes.

“No, Kid, we ain’t doin’ it.”  Heyes shook his head.

“If I remember, right, Heyes, he’s got a wife and kid,” Curry continued.

“You that tired of running?” Heyes retorted.

“No,” the Kid replied quietly.  He then looked towards McQueen.  “Heyes said you have a fast horse.”

“Sure do,” McQueen smiled widely.  “Lightning.  Fastest horse I’ve ever seen.  He’s outrun the water in the gulch.”  

“He outrun any posses?” the Kid asked.

McQueen looked first towards Curry, then towards his partner. “Heyes, what crazy idea is the Kid thinking of?”

An annoyed look crossed Heyes’ face.  “One of the best qualities my friend here has is that he usually lets me do the thinking.”  He turned to put his hand on the Kid’s shoulder, and locked gazes with him.  “Don’t you?”

“It can work, Heyes.”  The Kid didn’t back down.  “Just hear me out.”

“Why, Kid?”  A resigned look covered Heyes’ face, even as he asked.

“You know why, Heyes.”  The Kid’s face was stoic.

Hannibal Heyes looked one more time into his cousin’s face, but then turned back towards McQueen.  “Do you have another fast horse?”

“You both know this probably is suicide, don’t you?” McQueen asked.

“I can do this myself, Heyes,” the Kid started, but his partner interrupted, holding up his gloved hand, just looking towards McQueen.

“Well, there’s Sally.”


McQueen led them to the corral and both Lightning and Sally came right up to him.  He rubbed their noses and gave each a sugar cube he had in his pocket.  Lightening was a striking red roan, and Sally was a pretty blue dun.

“You know, boys,” McQueen looked back at them.  “These horses mean more to me than almost anything else I have.”

The Kid nodded, but simply asked, “Are they fast?”

A bolt of energy crackled across the sky as the clouds came closer.  

“Fast as lightning,” McQueen answered, and looked towards Heyes.

“Is there somewhere we can leave them?”

“Assuming they’ll still be alive,” McQueen replied.  “And you too.”

“They’ll be alive,” the Kid insisted.  He looked at his partner.  “And so will we.”


It did not take long for them to saddle the two horses.  They were curious as to why they had new riders, but with a pat and a rub from McQueen, they settled down and were almost prancing, excited by the gathering storm and the tension they felt from the men holding their reins.

“If any horse will get you down the canyon safely, it will be these two,” McQueen gave them one last nod, and backed away.

“We owe you,” Heyes said.

“I know,” was all McQueen answered, as they started back down the slot canyon with the clouds gathering ominously over their heads.


“So what’s the plan, Kid?”  

They were hurrying the horses as fast as practical, their hooves kicking up the dust that lined the trail.

“We come flying out of the canyon, as fast as we can, and take them by surprise,” the Kid answered, as they felt the first spatters of rain.  Unconsciously the boys both increased their speed.

“That’s the plan?” Heyes exclaimed.  “All of it?”  He glared at Curry.  Looking up the narrowing walls, he was rewarded by a huge drop in his eye.

“Yup,” the Kid said loudly over the sound of the rain and wind, which was starting to howl through the narrow space.

“And you’ve told me some of my plans are crazy,” Heyes responded.  He wasn’t certain the Kid heard, but soon enough all their concentration was on the rapidly rising water streaming down the chasm.

They had to barely touch the horses to urge them to move quickly.  The tension of their riders and charged atmosphere came close to spooking the horses, and would have done so, if not for the tight control the boys exerted over them.  Soon enough the canyon walls were streaking by.  There was nothing else to do besides trust their mounts’ knowledge of the gorge, as the water continued to rise.

The further they went down the canyon, the more the horses started to struggle against the rapid flow of the water.  By the time they came bursting out the entrance of the slot canyon, it was spewing out a massive stream into the formerly dry lake.  The horses almost stumbled as they broke free and encountered the full force of the storm.  

Through the wind whipped rain, the boys could see that the sheriff and his two remaining deputies struggling to get to higher ground.

In spite of the full brunt of the wind they encountered once they cleared the canyon, Heyes had not pulled back on his horse.  Suddenly he noticed the Kid had slowed as they approached the scrub trees by which the men huddled.

Heyes’ heart almost stopped, when the Kid slid off his horse and threw his reins to his partner.  Curry braced himself by the palo verde tree and anchoring his boots into the mud, reached down for the deputies, then the sheriff himself.  A look of recognition passed between the Kid and Sheriff Willis, but as a gust of wind almost took both of them over the edge, Heyes jumped down and helped to pull them both up over the edge.

Just as they were all safe, and the deputies started thinking again of the twenty thousand dollars, the Kid’s Colt appeared and the lightning flashed against its slick surface.  They were all still for a moment in the howling wind.

“We’re leaving,” the Kid stated, and the sheriff nodded.  Heyes wasted no time mounting, and then holding his gun on the sheriff and his men, as Curry slipped into his saddle too.  With a final look exchanged with Willis, the boys rode off into the driving rain.


Two days later they had found a livery to leave the horses, a telegraph office to send the needed message to McQueen, and a train to take them elsewhere.

‘I know it was Willis’ pa who took us in after our parents were killed, Kid,” Heyes paused.  “But he would have still arrested us.”

“Yes, Heyes, I know.  But we had to make certain he was safe.”

Heyes sighed, staring out at desert, not seeing it any more than the Kid.





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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:43 am

It had been two days since they had slipped into that old mine shaft. The posse had been close on their tail and there was not enough time to hide the tracks properly, at least not thoroughly enough for Heyes.

It had been two days since Kid Curry had had his last minute in peace.

“We should have done better...” Heyes complained, pacing the rough ground of the tunnel.

“How?” Kid Curry asked stoically.

“We had to change directions on stony ground.”

“There was no stony ground when we needed it.”

“Then we had to circle back and try it the other way around!”

“The horses where almost finished and that posse was too close.”

“Though...”

“Stop it, Heyes!” the Kid finally busted out. “Just stop it! Or the posse will be sated by finding your cold dead body out there!”

Two days of endless, senseless babbling. Two endless days! There had been no other way or they would have taken it.

“But, Kid...” Heyes began again just to be cut off.

“SHUT UP!” the angry voice of the gunslinger echoed throughout the dark veins crossing the hill, and sent small rivulets of dust from the nape to the ground.

Was it imagination or did even the ground vibrate under the strong growling voice? The Kid shooed the thought away. It had happened several times before that dust had trickled down on them, but not as much as this time. Seemingly, the waiting nagged hard on his nerves, too.

Since they had arrived they had regularly scanned the surroundings and still found new signs of their pursuers. They were close but didn’t know the area well enough to find their hideout.

It had been pure coincidence that the fugitives had stumbled into the entrance of the old mine which was overgrown with nameless vegetation. It had once been sealed with wooden boards but the ravages of time had done their destructive job on them long ago.

Hurriedly they had taken off the saddlebags and scared the horses away, hoping the posse would follow the tracks they’d leave on their way to the next water hole. The surroundings were inhospitable and parched so luckily it would be a couple of miles away.

Now the two weary men stayed put, waiting for a chance to slip away. Not the best plan, but a creation of pure desperation. At least they had found small ponds of moldy water inside the tunnels, though slowly but surely, they were running out of supplies.

Heyes shook the dust out of his hair and grimaced.

“Do you think that helped?” he snapped sarcastically. “Come on! Do it again! Either they hear us and drag us out of here or the ceiling will come down and end this! Either way I won’t have to stand your bad temper anymore!”

My bad...” the Kid growled and rose. A small sound silenced both of them: two stones hitting one another. Alerted they startled and listened to the darkness outside the range of their small fire.

They had settled down in a dead end close to a branch where the tunnel split into two new directions. The sound came from the entrance to the left of it.

Simultaneously, they exchange a short glance and drew their weapons. It was silent again, but not silent enough. Without any noise the Kid covered the small fire with a tin bucket. Was there a little shuffling sound or was it just their imagination? But the atmosphere had changed, they clearly felt there was something out there, something alive.

Cautiously they moved closer to the branch, instinctively choosing the best position to cover each other. The Kid had eyes like an eagle and the better perception for danger, but Heyes’s senses worked better in the darkness.

More shuffling, not too far away.

The boys froze and listened.

Footsteps, more than one pair. Whispering?

Heyes noticed several voices, at least two, but the echo off the stony walls distorted the sound, making it hard to be sure.

“You’re sure, this is the place?” one voice asked.

“We searched everywhere else,” another one answered. “This is the only hideout left.”

“You sure, there was no chance to pass us by?”

“We would have seen ‘em. At least there would have been tracks. Have you seen any tracks?”

“No, but you sure...”

“I am the sheriff! Ask me one more time and you will never be my deputy again!”

Heyes leaned forward to take a peak and saw the shapes: two of them.

When he noticed details, he frowned in surprise and his thoughts started racing, searching for a plan. Let them come, trap them between us, figure out how...

The sound of a cocking gun cut him off.

“Hold it, Kid!”

Heyes’s warning was followed by a threefold high-pitched scream. He jumped forward and stopped their uninvited visitors. They spun around and ran into Kid Curry who blocked the way back to the entrance and herded them towards their makeshift camp. Heyes turned around, kicked the covering bucket off the fire and light flooded the fork.

Three small figures appeared, the Kid rising up behind them like a silent giant. His blue eyes widened in surprise before he put on his poker face again. Slowly he holstered his weapon and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“What are you doing here?” Heyes asked the intruders with a dangerous edge in his voice.

He was answered with big scared eyes, shuffling feet and low whimpering, not sure who of the threesome was the source of the latter. He’d bet on the tiny one on the left.

Two young boys and a tall girl faced him. The lower lip of the youngest trembled, seemingly he was close to breaking into tears. The girl nudged her elbow in his side followed by a short resolute gesture of her head before she turned towards Heyes again.

“Nothing, sir,” she answered.

Heyes raised his brow. “Nothing?”

“We’re just playing...”

“Playing?!”

“Cops and robbers.” She nodded towards the older boy. “Tim’s the robber. Thad and I are the sheriff and the deputy.”

“Never heard of deputizing girls before,” Heyes replied.

“That’s why I’m sheriff!” the girl countered cockily.

“Oh, I apologize, ma’am.” Heyes bowed towards her while thoughts somersaulted in his mind, trying to find a way out of their situation.

The kids had not seen anything suspicious yet, but they couldn’t let them go that easy. Kids talk, parents ask questions. The posse was too close to take a risk.

Meanwhile the Kid’s protective streak took over.

“Didn’t your ma ever tell you to keep away from dark and scary places?” Kid Curry asked.

The girl stepped forward towards Heyes and returned his glare, but answered the Kid. Heyes smothered a smile away. She showed excellent intuition for the situation.

“This place isn’t scary! We’ve been here before. It’s exiting! You know...”

“Exciting?” the Kid growled. “It’s dangerous!”

Again, the ground seemed to respond to his anger but now it was noticeable. There was some sort of vibration he sensed in his feet. A short glance towards Heyes and the frown on his face told him it wasn’t only his imagination.

He received a questioning look from his dark-haired friend and nodded.

“All right, keep calm,” Heyes took over again. “There’s nothing to fear. We’ll all get out of here and talk outside. Just...”

He was cut off by a deep low growl raising off the ground, which trembled visibly now, much stronger than before. It took some effort to keep balanced. More dust and small stones rained down on them. One of the kids let out a scared squeak. The Kid and Heyes exchanged another glance.

“Out! Now!” Kid Curry took the lead, the two boys were right on his tail followed by the girl whose longer legs would let her catch up to them soon. Heyes grabbed their saddlebags and brought up the rear.

Another shock shook the earth, the ground bucked hard and left all of them staggering. More rock slid off the ceiling. Clouds of dust filled the air.

“Too far, get cov...” But Heyes’s warning came too late.

The next stroke nearly sent all of them off their feet. Heyes grabbed the kid next to him, pulled the girl against his chest, cupped her head with his hand and turned her back towards the tunnel wall to cover and steady both of them.

Another shock ran through the earth. The girl screamed and struggled against Heyes’s grip.

Following her look, he turned his head and noticed the unfolding drama. From the corner of his eye he saw Kid Curry on his knees, hunched down, both boys hidden under his outspread arms, sheltering them with his body.

Out of his sight a part of the ceiling finally lost its hold and crashed down on them, covering them from further sight with stone shards and dust.

Heyes’s own instinct urged him to help his partner, but something hard hit his head and his world went dark...

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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:43 pm

“Hannibal Heyes! Jedidiah Curry! You get over here right now!” Miss Werner, the one-room school teacher, had her hands on her hips and blew a stray curl from her forehead in frustration.

“Oh, oh!” Jed put down the rock he had in his pocket and put his sling shot in his back pocket. “What’d we do this time?”

Han put his own sling shot away. “Maybe she found the ink stain we accidentally made in that book.”

“Or Susie told that we passed that note.”

The dark-haired boy nodded. “Or could be the chalk we hid in the eraser.”

Jed giggled. “That was funny. Every time she erased something, she wrote more.”

The two lads quickly ran to the school steps to face their teacher. “Ma’am,” they said in unison.

“We was just practicin’ with our sling shots and not botherin’ no one,” Jed quickly defended them.

“We WERE just PRACTICING and not BOTHERING ANY ONE,” Miss Werner corrected her young student.

“Yeah, that’s what I said.”

Miss Werner sighed. “That’s not what I called you for. Now get in the room and sit in the front seats.”

Two heads bowed down slowly walked up the stairs. “Yes, ma’am.”


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Miss Werner sighed as she sat in the café in the late afternoon correcting paper and drinking a cup of tea.

“That bad of a day, Edith?” The café owner poured more hot water in the tea pot.

“Seems like they’re becoming typical days, if you know what I mean.” Edith methodically dipped the tea strainer up and down. “Maybe I’m not cut out to be a teacher, Annie.”

“Want some company? Dinner is simmering, and the crowds don’t start for an hour.”

“Please.”

“A break will do me good.” Annie grabbed a cup, a tea strainer, and pot of hot water before sitting down. “Anyone in particular?”

Edith looked around and noticed the room empty. “I hate to gossip…”

“Won’t go any further than me and it’s good to get the frustration out,” Annie encouraged.

“Well, it’s…”

“Let me guess. It’s that Heyes and youngest Curry boys.” The café owner sipped her tea.

“Yes,” Edith said exasperated. “They’re good boys in school some of the time…”

“But when they’re bad…”

“They’re rascals. I have to keep an eye on them constantly and keep them challenged. If they get bored, they’re thinking of something to do. And that something is usually not good. They’re not bad in that they bully or hurt others. Just keep me on my toes with their antics.”

Annie smiled. “What mischief did they get into today?”

“Yesterday it was chalk hidden in the eraser. When I was erasing the board, I was scribbling without noticing until all the children giggled.”

“How did you know it was them?”

“That’s the hard thing. I KNOW it’s them, but it’s hard to prove because they are just too clever.” Edith sipped her tea. “Today they hung the American flag in the classroom upside down.”

Annie snickered.

“I know, it could be worse, but just one more thing.”

“Did they admit to it?”

“They did when Jed giggled. Han said the whole country is in distress with the war and that’s why the flag should be upside down.”

“He’s kinda right there.”

“I know, but… Maybe he’s too smart for me.”

Annie patted Edith’s hand. “Don’t let those two rascals get you down. You’re a great teacher and Clinton Lake is lucky to have you! Think of it as a challenge to keep those boys challenged. What if the oldest one helped the youngest with his reading?”

“Now that’s a thought. Han is a good reader. He could listen as Jed reads to him quietly in the corner.”

“And I’d enlist their parents. Mrs. Heyes and Mrs. Curry are well aware of what their sons are capable of doing. Ask them for advice.”

“Oh, Annie, thank you!” Edith gathered her papers. “You about to get busy and I have to get going myself. Thank you for your words of wisdom.”

“I was a mother once and remember how much trouble my Rodney got into at school.” Annie gathered the cups and pots. “Don’t let them boys make you doubt yourself!”

“I won’t!” Edith exclaimed as she left the café.




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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:24 pm

This is a continuation of last month's story and is loosely inspired by real life events. I just squeaked by--after a lot of editing--at 2,994 words. Sheesh. Enjoy!
x-X-x

Dental Dilemma

Heyes hummed under his breath as they rode back to the Howard spread. The moon was high in the sky and illuminated the dirt path. Heyes absently patted his vest pocket, checking the money that he knew was there. He’d won $200 and the Kid had won $50 and no one had been a sore loser. All in all, a good night.

“I’ve been thinking,” Heyes said as he caught his chestnut up with his partner’s dark gelding.

“That ain’t exactly unusual,” Kid replied.  

Heyes ignored his partner’s comment with the ease of long practice. “You were right, what you said about us leaving.”

They’d talked it over during dinner and the Kid was nervous about the sheriff going through posters and said they needed to leave. Honestly, Heyes agreed with his partner but figured they had enough time to win at poker before they had to decide anything. Sheriff Orville Seward hadn’t been suspicious, but it never hurt to be cautious.

“Can you say that again?” Kid asked and although his hat shaded his face in the moonlight, Heyes could hear his smile. “The part where you admitted I was right. You usually only admit it after we’ve got the posse on our tail.”

Heyes rolled his eyes. “I’m just saying we tell the Howards we’re leavin’ tomorrow, collect our money, and go.”

“You won’t find any arguments here,” Kid said and then he suddenly slowed his horse, holding up a hand.

Heyes reined in his horse and saw what his partner had; lanterns bobbing along in the twilight outside the Howard’s house. Had they been discovered? It was the weirdest posse search ever, if so.

The partners listened and then relaxed after the conversation drifted their way.

“Just wear one of your old spares,” Mrs. Howard said.

“I’m telling you, Alma, I laid ‘em outside. They’re my favorite set!” Mr. Howard replied.

“I’m done looking, you can ask the boys when they come in,” Mrs. Howard said exasperated as she headed inside the house.

Mystery solved, Heyes and the Kid rode to the barn and Mr. Howard walked over.

“Boys! I can’t find my teeth! Take a lantern and look, why don’t you? I’ll give an extra five dollars to whoever finds ‘em.”

“I have to tend the horses, but Joshua here has a buddin’ interest in dentistry,” Kid said with an easy smile.

Heyes gave his partner a look. “We’ll both look, after we take care of the horses.”

“I’m obliged. You can find lanterns in the barn,” Mr. Howard said.

They rode inside and took care of the equines before grabbing lanterns, lighting them, and starting the search.

Heyes remained inside the barn and so the Kid headed outside. The large moon helped, but he kept the lantern low as he started looking around. Suddenly remembering the first unlikely place he’d found a pair of false teeth, Kid Curry opened the door to the chicken coop as quietly as possible. Just as Kid unlatched the door and held up the lantern, the rooster flew out at him, spurs forward.

Kid proved he had the fastest reflexes in the west by dodging the incoming talons and managing not to drop the lantern or snuff out the light.

“Catch him!” Mr. Howard cried from the front porch. “We don’t let them roam at night.”

Kid made shooing noises and gestures, hoping to herd the rooster to the coop. He could just barely remember his ma having a nice old rooster that worked on, but he didn’t hold out much hope. Yep, the cock just tried to run around him. Kid blocked his escape and the two stood facing each other in the yard.

Hannibal Heyes had walked outside the barn and was watching his partner. He grinned when he saw the face off, both combatants staring the other down.

“You want me to find him a gun belt so everything’s fair?” Heyes asked.

“Shut it,” Kid replied. “Why don’t you go be useful and find some feed?”

“I’m enjoying this too much,” Heyes replied.

Kid gave him a dark look.

Mr. Howard spoke up from the porch. “That rooster won’t come for anything, even food. You’ll have to catch him!”

“Wonderful,” Kid muttered. “Okay, Joshua, go find me a net.  Even if the spurs go through, it’ll buy me time.”

“I’m more interested in your contest, Thaddeus. I’d like to see which one of you wins. I mean, you’re both a little cocky,” Heyes said.

Kid shot a glare in his direction that Heyes couldn’t see but felt all the same. He chuckled.

“All right, all right,” Heyes said, opening the barn door again. “I’ll go look.”

“I’m gonna go check my jacket. Don’t stay out too long, boys,” Horace Howard said as he went inside.

That left Kid continuing to block the bird’s escape. “Go on and roost!” he told it. “It’s nighttime. You’re supposed to want to be in with your hens.”

“Maybe he’s feeling a little hen-pecked,” Heyes said as he returned with a pole fishing net and handed it over. “Try this.”

“Heaven forbid you try to catch him,” Kid said, taking the pole.

“I didn’t let him out,” Heyes replied.

“Neither did I, he just up and went out,” the Kid muttered, lunging forward to net the rooster who let out an awful squawk.

Curry twisted the net and ran toward the chicken coop. As he got near it, he dropped the pole and got to the net just as the rooster spurred through it. Kid caught the rooster’s legs and pulled him out, dangling him upside down as he flapped and cock-a-doodle-dooed. Heyes was unable to help due to the fact he was laughing.

Securing the wings, Curry went to the door. “Open it!”

Heyes was chuckling, but he did open the coop’s door. Kid tossed the rooster inside and latched it. He had feathers on the brim of his hat and his tan leather jacket.

“Sheesh,” Kid said, dusting off his clothes.

Hannibal Heyes brushed the feathers off of his partner’s hat brim. “If you’re finished playing with the poultry, we can get back to the hunt.”

“Oh great,” Kid said sarcastically and the two went back to searching.

After looking all around the yard, Heyes pulled up the well bucket and took a long cool drink. He was in the middle of a swallow when a pair of ivory false teeth rolled down the side of the bucket. Spluttering, Heyes dropped the bucket and spit out his drink of water.

“What’s the matter with you?” Kid asked, looking inside a pail.

“Nothing,” Heyes said.  He pocketed the teeth gingerly and headed to his partner.

“Hey Kid, I found-”

“Heyes, I got them-”

They both started to talk at the same time then gave each other a strange look.

“You found them?” they asked each other in unison.

“I just got these out of an old lunch pail by the gate,” Kid said, showing porcelain dentures. “Where were yours?”

Heyes muttered something.

“Where?”

“In the well bucket.”

“How’d you think to look there?” Kid asked, impressed.

“I didn’t,” Heyes admitted. “I took a drink and they nearly bit me.”

Kid laughed.

“It’s not funny,” Heyes said, but he smiled ruefully.

“It is.”

“Since we both found a pair, maybe we’ll both get the extra five dollars,” Heyes said optimistically.

They walked in the house and held up the teeth they found.

“Those aren’t mine,” Horace Howard said to their surprise.

“They certainly aren’t mine,” his wife declared primly—she still had her natural teeth.

“Mine either,” Kid added with a grin.

“Or mine,” Heyes said, smiling with his partner.

“They must be yours, Horace,” Mrs. Howard said.

“I meant they aren’t the ones I was wearing earlier. The ones that don’t hurt so much.”

It was only at that point the partners looked at their employer in the indoor light. They looked at each other, incredulous, and then at their employer again.

Finally Heyes spoke up. “You mean the ones in your mouth…?”

Mr. Howard put a hand to his mouth in surprise and then spat his teeth into his hand and stared before putting them back in. “Yes!”

“They were in your mouth the whole time??” Mrs. Howard started laughing.

“They didn’t hurt so I didn’t feel ‘em!” Mr. Howard tried to explain.

But it was too late and everyone was laughing.

Eventually, Mr. Howard took the other two pairs. “You found ‘em and two more, so that’s $15.00 added on to your final pay.”

Heyes smiled. “Thank you. Look, Mr. and Mrs. Howard, you’ve been excellent hosts but we’re not gonna stay the extra two weeks. We’re heading out first thing.”

“Oh I hate to hear that, I’ll miss you boys,” Alma Howard said.

“And we’ll miss you and your hospitality, ma’am,” Curry said gallantly.

“So sweet,” she said, patting his arm. “You’re welcome to come back anytime.”

“I’ll get your pay gathered for the morning,” Mr. Howard added.

The four parted ways amiably and soon all went to bed.

x-X-x

The sun was shining in through the beige tatted curtains and Hannibal Heyes dared to hope it was going to be a good day. He rolled over and glanced at his partner in the other twin bed. The Kid was still sleeping until the troublesome rooster outside crowed and he finally stirred then stretched.

Heyes smiled at him, brown eyes warm. “Good morning!”

“That depends,” Kid replied, stretching as he sat up.

“On?”

“Whether or not we got oatmeal for breakfast again,” Kid said, smiling.

Heyes chuckled and the two dressed, walking into the eating area with matched strides.

“Good morning boys!” Alma Howard called cheerfully from the kitchen. “We have fried potatoes, sausage, hot cakes and syrup. Sit yourselves down!”

“That sounds great Mrs. Howard,” Kid called to her as he took a seat.

“Where’re those extra teeth? Anyone seen ‘em?” Horace Howard yelled from another room.

Heyes and the Kid exchanged a glance.

“You’re still standin’,” Kid said. “I’m sittin’ down.”

“So am I,” Heyes replied as he sat next to him. He’d barely been seated when he leapt up again. “Ow!”

“Not anymore,” Kid said as he leaned over and looked. He gingerly picked up Mr. Howard’s lower denture. “Looks like you found one pair.”

Heyes picked up the other half, thankful they were leaving soon even if the couple was nice and the pay was decent.

Mrs. Howard sighed as she entered the room and spotted the teeth, putting down a large tray of hotcakes. “I’m sorry for wherever those were. His second spare pair didn’t get put up either, so keep an eye out,” she said before she left the room to fetch more food.

“How ‘bout you find the other pair, too?” Kid asked innocently.

Heyes gave him a look.

Mr. Howard walked in the room. “Boys! Have you seen my spare teeth?”

“Here’s one set,” Heyes said as he handed them over and wiped his hand on his trousers.

“Thanks. I don’t know where the other is.” Mr. Howard tucked them into his pocket. Luckily, the ones from last night were still in his mouth.

Kid and Heyes exchanged a look.

“So how many pairs do you have?” Kid asked, curious. Personally, if he never saw another set of dentures in his life, he’d be pleased.

“Oh I have loads.”

Everyone hushed as Mrs. Howard entered with several trays of food. Both Heyes and Curry stood to help her and the three of them got the rest of the food on the table.  If Kid happened to have put the sausage tray closest to him, well, it was a coincidence.

Alma served everyone, dishing out extra meat to Heyes to fatten him up. As for Kid, she gave him two servings of everything to start with and soon they were all sitting and eating.

“I am so sorry you boys will be leaving,” Mrs. Howard said. “It’s been a delight to talk to people who keep their teeth where they belong.”

Mr. Howard snorted a laugh. “Sorry, Alma, they pinch me.”

“That isn’t any excuse,” she said. “August gentleman like you shouldn’t lay their teeth all over creation.”

“They hurt, I tell you.” Mr. Howard looked at ‘Smith’ and ‘Jones.’ “My advice to you is to take care of your teeth. I can’t even eat a whole sausage, have to cut it up into little bits. Can you imagine not being able to eat everything you want?”

“No,” Kid said with fervor.

Heyes smiled. “He really can’t.”

“I’ve packed you both a big lunch and slid it in your saddle bags.” Alma Howard was a natural at mothering.

Kid smiled at her. “Thank you, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome,” Alma said and then looked at her husband. “Horace?”

Mr. Howard sighed. “Boys, you’ve done such a good job for us, I want to give you your pay and an extra bonus.” He handed Heyes an envelope.

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that,” Kid said, eating his breakfast enthusiastically.

“But we’re very appreciative that you did,” Heyes said, never one to turn down money. Not when the folks could afford it and not when he’d just sat on a pair of pointy teeth.

He glanced inside the envelope and smiled. Mr. Howard had given them an extra $50.00 along with the $15 they’d earned yesterday. They went to get their belongings and Mrs. Howard hugged them both.

“You sure you can’t stay?” Alma asked.

There was a loud pounding at the front door.

Heyes and the Kid exchanged looks.

“Howard! Open up! This is the sheriff!” a voice boomed.

“Yes ma’am, we have to be movin’ on,” Kid responded with a trace of irony.

They tossed their saddle bags over their shoulders.

“Yes, no time like the present,” Heyes said.

Horace Howard gave them an appraising look as he came down the hall. “Go out the back you two.”

“What? Horace, we haven’t done anything—” Alma Howard began.

We haven’t, Alma,” Mr. Howard said. “But am I wrong in thinking you boys would rather leave than clear it up?”
He faced Heyes and Curry square on and they saw the look in his eyes. Smith and Jones, huh?, his expression asked.

“Horace Howard,” the man at the door thundered.

“Mr. and Mrs. Howard, we’re innocent, but we’re also prudent,” Heyes said. “We’ll just be heading out before your next visitor arrives.”

“Much obliged for all your cooking,” Kid said, glancing out a window. “There’s one by the back door, too,” he said under his breath to Heyes.

Mrs. Howard looked them over. “You two may be rascals, but there isn’t any harm in you. I guess we’ll just have to distract Orville for you!” she said, eyes sparkling.

“What?” her husband asked.

“These are nice boys!” Alma said and before anyone could think of talking her out of it or stopping her, she went to the front door.

Heyes and Curry started back down the hall but, Mr. Howard grabbed Heyes’ arm. Curry halted, ready, but the man gave them a smile.

“The sheriff will have two deputies with him. One at the front and one waiting by the barn doors. I don’t reckon they know about the root cellar.”

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry tipped their hats and headed for the root cellar. Curry moved in front of his partner and opened the door a crack. No one was in the line of sight. The gunman eased it open and the two climbed the stairs to the grass. A deputy was by the barn door. How could they distract him?

A man’s yell came from inside the house followed by the heavy sound of a fall.

Heyes and Curry looked at each other and then crept to an open window to listen.

“Oh my land,” Mrs. Howard cried. “I don’t know how those teeth got on the floor like that!”

With the windows open, the clatter had been heard and both deputies made to enter the house. Heyes and the Kid ran for the barn, but they both distinctly heard another yell. Had Mrs. Howard dropped a second pair of teeth for a deputy to slide on?

They didn’t have time to find out. Heyes and Curry ran for their horses and tacked them deftly. They were out of the barn like a shot and rode like a posse was behind them. The reformed outlaws continued cantering, alternating with trotting until they needed to rest.

Heyes and the Kid both patted their horses on the neck after they halted.

“Think they followed us?” Kid asked.

Heyes shook his head. “Not at first. I think they had their own problems.”

“Y’know, Heyes,” Curry said in a thoughtful tone. “I never thought I’d say this but…I’m glad Mr. Howard couldn’t keep track of his teeth.”

Heyes chuckled. “Me too. Though I’ll be glad not to see any more dentures for a long while.”

“I thought that same thing, earlier,” Kid said, taking a few sips of water from a canteen then smiling at his best friend. “I keep trying to picture Mrs. Howard throwing the teeth on the floor in front of the sheriff and both deputies. I hope Mr. Howard’s dentures aren’t all broken.”

“I doubt if they are. He had more teeth than Kyle has dynamite,” Heyes said with a grin.

“Dunno what we’re smiling about,” Kid said in a half-hearted grumble. “We’re on the run yet again.”

“Well, you know what they say, Kid.” Heyes spoke with a sly tone.

Kid sighed and waited.

“You’ve got to smile while you still have your teeth.”

Curry groaned. “Come on, partner. Let’s put some more distance between us and the dentures!”

The Kid squeezed his heels into his gelding’s side and the horse began moving once again.

Heyes laughed and joined his partner in riding swiftly toward the horizon. “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”
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