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 Aug 18 - Rascals

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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...



Rascals ...

Which was popped into the ever open suggestions box for (deliberate capitalisation) The List
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Join date : 2012-04-22
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Location : London, England

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

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

Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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PostSubject: Re: Aug 18 - Rascals    Yesterday at 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.”

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

"The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
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