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 My work in progress.

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rachel_74_1

rachel_74_1

Posts : 61
Join date : 2020-06-29
Age : 47
Location : United Kingdom

My work in progress. Empty
PostSubject: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 1:14 pm

Jed dangled his bare legs in the river, the water was pleasantly cool on his overheated skin. Surrounded by wide open space, the quiet peace only broken by the munching of the horses and the gentle sound of splashing, he tried and failed to relax. Jed glanced over at his companion, who was seemingly intent on soaking his own legs and cleared his throat.

Heyes looked up with a speed that suggested he'd been expecting something. They locked gazes for a moment, before Jed said a little hesitantly.

“I ain't fond of your idea, Heyes. It's like we'd be admittin' we can't do any better. “

Heyes rolled his eyes a little before replying, “Well seein' as Silver Ridge is the third town we've been chased out of in less than two weeks, it don't seem like we got another way to go.“

Jed sighed heavily, “Well, maybe you oughta be more careful about telling poker players how bad they are, or win a little less of their money, so they don't get so mad.”

As he spoke, Jed watched Heyes, saw his jaw tighten, then studied his friend's hands as they clenched and unclenched, noted the sudden sharp tension in his shoulders and waited, his own hands balled into fists, nails digging into his palms. However, much to his mute surprise, instead of unleashing the expected sarcasm, Heyes merely dropped his eyes back to the river, and stared into it, as if fascinated by the rippling patterns. But Jed, too familiar with both his and Heyes's temper knew an argument was inevitable in the end.

“That weren't the reason we got run out of Barkerville, don't think there was one, except someone didn't like our faces. In Red Rock, it weren't me that took on that guy in the saloon.” Heyes was attempting to keep his voice reasonable, but Jed could hear the sharpness underneath it.

“What was I s'posed to do, just let him hurt that girl?” Curry snapped at his friend, annoyed at the implication that he should have done nothing.

Heyes didn't reply, still looking into the river, but took a deep breath, obviously biting back an angry retort. After a few moments he looked up, making an effort at keeping his tone
non-confrontational. “Look, it don't matter why we got chased out, only that we did. We need more help to stay outta trouble.”  

“How is joinin a outlaw gang gonna help us any? We left Kansas to put trouble behind us,  but it's still finding us. Your idea don't sound like we'd be tryin' to avoid people not likin' us.” Jed struggled to mirror his friend's calm tone, but knew he hadn't succeeded at Heyes's expression.

“Stop being so mule-headed over this and listen, you know I'm right as usual.”

A wave of anger at the superior and patronising tone, brought Jed to his feet. He swirled to face his friend, his hands in tight fists. He lost the fragile hold on his temper and yelled, loud enough that the horses were startled out of their contented eating.


“You always say you're right, but some of your ideas are downright stupid  Besides it ain't even like you're that much older. So why should I listen?” It sounds to me like your plan will cause us even worse problems then we already got.” He subsided into silence, as he fought to wrestle his temper under control. He hadn't wanted to be the first to turn this into a confrontation, but he felt some satisfaction as he caught the slightly startled expression on Heyes's face.

After a brief staring match, he looked away and pulled on his socks and boots. When he returned his gaze to Heyes, there was an almost steely determination in his friend's expression. “This is the only choice we got left, Jed.” No longer superior, his tone was as level and firm as the look in his eyes. Jed was suddenly starkly aware, that disagreement on this, could mean the end of them travelling together.

Jed realised he had perhaps one last try to get his point across, “Our folks would hate this!” At the discomfort on Heyes's face, he thought he'd made an impact, but his friend's reply quickly squashed the brief hope.

“We're on our own. We can't be what our folks would have wanted, it just ain't possible. You're just bein stupid if you don't see that. A gang who needs us is the only way we'll avoid getting killed. We might even get rich. Why can't you just go along with me on this?” Heyes's voice was loud and heavy with frustration.

Jed turned away, an angry knot in his stomach. They were never going to agree over this. Heyes just didn't see that turning outlaw went against everything they'd ever been taught. He stomped towards his horse and mounted without any clear plan of what he was going to do.  He just knew he needed to get away. He heard his friend call out as he rode away, but he simply kept going with his head down.

XXX

It was close to dusk when Jed finally stopped, both he and his horse far too tired to go any further. The sun was fully set by the time he was comfortable, the process of bedding down having taken longer than he was used to, now he was doing it by himself.

The darkness was only broken by the flickering fire, the crescent moon and the bright twinkling of the stars. Curry sat staring into the dancing flames, nursing a whiskey and faced the fact that he couldn't go back. Jed had gone along with most of what Heyes planned or suggested, for close to ten years, but now with the two year age gap almost meaningless, he wanted a more equal say. He doubted that would be possible, with the pattern so deeply set between them. The best chance he had of finding out what he really wanted,was to be away from his friend. The decision made, he finished his drink, laid down on his bedroll and closed his eyes. He knew he should probably keep a watch, but he was too exhausted to stay awake and was soon asleep, despite his unquiet mind.

He woke early, still tired, his sleep had been broken and restless. He turned to speak to empty space, forgetting for a moment that Heyes wasn't beside him. Jed packed up to head anywhere he wanted to go. Instead of happiness and anticipation at a new beginning, he felt uneasy as if something was missing. As he rode, trying to ignore the silence next to him, the feeling of loss only deepened. Jed hoped it'd fade as he grew more used to being alone, because he was sure following their own paths apart was the best decision.

XXX

Heyes camped near the river for three nights, hoping his friend would return once his temper had burnt itself out. It wasn't till the early afternoon of the fourth day that Heyes truly understood that Jed had left him. Even in the face of his angry hurt, he was completely certain that them splitting up was a mistake. However as he rode out, he accepted that Jed had made it clear by not returning, that he didn't feel the same way. Heyes wouldn't go searching, if that's what Jed expected, he hadn't done the leaving after all. The only thing left to do,was to pursue his idea,because despite Jed's rejection of it, he still believed it was the only route that made any sense.

Heyes rode into Buford and glanced round the town, his eyes finally resting on the brightly painted saloon down at the end of the main street. He tied his horse to the hitching point and walked towards it.

As he entered, Heyes took in the few drinkers spread sparsely through the small building.  He placed his hat on the bar before running a hand through his dusty hair. He ordered two beers, turned away to study the clientele, while keeping one eye on the door.  As two glasses were plonked in front of him, he turned back with a smile, nodding cheerfully at the barkeep as he asked, “You get busy?”

“We do, come evening, quite a rowdy crowd.”

“Ranch hands or other types? ” Heyes deliberately left the question vague, not sure of the response.

The man eyed him a little doubtfully, but answered him anyway. “Well they ain't always on the side of the angels, if that's what you're meanin', but they sure like to spend their money .”

“Sheriff pay 'em much mind?”

“He ain't bothered, less it gets too outta hand. “ The man's expression turned suspicious as he eyed the two glasses, “You thirsty son, or waiting on someone?”

Heyes glanced down a little blankly at the two beers on the bar and shook his head at himself, old habits were going to be hard to break. He smiled innocently at the man, before taking a long drink of one of the beers. He swallowed, enjoying the cool liquid as it slid down his throat and replied, “Just thirsty, trail dust sure makes my throat dry. Besides, I ain't in no rush to leave, seems like this is my kinda town.” The man smiled at that and the wariness faded from his expression. Heyes figured, from what the man had said, that this was as good a place as any, to see if he could persuade an outfit that he had skills they might need. He took another long sip of beer and settled down to wait.

XXX

Several weeks after leaving Heyes behind, Jed rode into Aspen Falls, feeling sad and a little desperate. He unmounted and looked round the town, spying the building he needed at the far end of the street.

His feet dragging, he headed towards it. He had avoided this, for as long as he reasonably could, the thought of selling such a good, even-tempered, easy to ride mount painful. But his money and supplies were practically gone, jobs were scarce to none existent, so he could see no other way to keep from starving or freezing to death in the oncoming winter.

“He's well looked after and his gear ain't too shabby.” Surprise was clear on his face as he looked away from the horse and took in Jed's dishevelled appearance.

Jed was insulted at the expression , but made no comment, he needed the money too much to start an argument.

“I'll give you one hundred and fifty dollars for him and your gear.”

“He's worth more than that, you know it! Two hundred dollars and you'll almost be getting the gear free.” Jed's temper flared, the offer was nowhere near what he knew his horse was worth.

The man was unimpressed at his outburst and said calmly, “There's a depression on, son, ain't worth my while to go higher than one hundred and fifty. Take it or leave it. I'm the only place in town.”

Jed stared at him, let his anger drain away, as he recognised the man wouldn't budge. After  a final lingering pat on the horse's head, he reluctantly took the money and walked back into the street, blinking in the suddenly bright sun. The money felt good in his pocket and despite knowing he'd got a raw deal, he was certain he'd done the right thing.

After buying some bullets and gun oil from the general store, he looked for somewhere to eat, eager for something that wasn't beans or burnt biscuit.

The small cafe at the opposite end of the main street from the livery, looked appealing. As he entered the worn but very clean building, his stomach rumbled and he found himself almost drooling at the smell of cooking. He took a small table near the door, ordered the special, with extra potatoes and apple pie. When the food came, he ate methodically, trying not to shovel it in, not wanting to seem too desperate.

The pretty waitress who served him was definitely interested in getting to know him better, despite his general untidiness. He caught her eye again and smiled hopefully, but to his disappointment, the place was soon busy and her attention was quickly drawn away.

Reluctant to leave the warmth and comfortable noise of the cafe, he lingered over a cup of coffee. Should he stay for a while, or head to a bigger town or even a city, where work might be easier to find?

Curry glanced up as a shadow came into his line of vision. Someone cleared their throat, waving at the chair opposite him in query.  He nodded and added “It ain't taken,” before he returned to studying his rapidly emptying mug.

Jed removed his gaze from his coffee and looked up as the man sat down opposite him.  He had several inches on Curry and was well-muscled. His clothes were a little worn, but he appeared well-groomed and his clothes weren't trail dusty. Curry figured he was probably a hand at one of the nearby sprawling ranches. He certainly looked like a man who'd spent much of his life labouring.

He favoured Curry with a friendly smile and his eyes were warm. He looked neither concerned or surprised by Jed's scrutiny and put his hand out, “William Carter, but most here just call me Will.”

Jed shook it a little warily, but offered his own name in reply. “Jedidiah, but I prefer Jed.”

Will took a sip of his own coffee and then waved the cup in Jed's direction as he said.

“I saw you at the livery. If you don't mind me saying, you seem a little down on your luck.“

Jed shrugged, embarrassed, but unable to deny it. His unshaven face, reddened eyes and dusty appearance, would have made a liar of him if he'd tried, even without the man knowing he'd just sold his horse.

“I ain't exactly over run with money, no, but I don't see...”

“I work out at the Running Rock Ranch. They're wanting more hands. The job pays fifteen dollars a month, with board. I thought with the depression, a young fella like you might be interested.”

Fifteen dollars was slightly higher than the usual rate and the idea of regular food and sleeping under a roof appealed, even if the thought of hard work didn't.

“Ain't scouting for hands usually the foreman's job?”

Will looked down as if suddenly deeply interested in the checked cloth covering the table. “It's best it ain't. Sam's a bit touched and can be real mean. He don't always make the best choices when hiring on. He can take against someone for no good reason, or get a liking for people who ain't exactly a best fit for the work. So it's agreed that his deputy, Jack does most of the setting on. Jack likes us older hands to keep an eye out, so he don't need to leave the ranch much.”

Curry wasn't sure whether he should consider the offer and wished Heyes was there, so they could talk the idea out and come to a joint decision. He quickly chased the thought away, annoyed that he still wasn't used to being in charge of his own life. Despite a strange prickly feeling that he recognised as sometimes warning him of trouble brewing, he found himself agreeing to go meet Jack and take the job if it were offered to him.

“The work ain't easy, but it's two squares and somewhere warm to sleep. We can go for a drink and talk it over, before we go see if Jack's interested.”

Jed looked round for the pretty waitress and saw she was still too busy to pay him much mind. Hungry for company, he accepted the offer, the nagging doubt in his mind fading to relief at the thought of possibly not freezing to death as winter drew in.

“Running Rock's huge and never short on money. Carlton Branning and his family have owned it since well before the war. They're always needing more help. Most of the boys are good workers and the food ain't half bad.”

Jed listened intently as Will filled him in over a beer in the quiet saloon. It sounded far more appealing than trying to make one hundred and sixty dollars stretch beyond a couple of weeks.

As they rode into the ranch, doubling up on Will's horse, a man came over to greet them. He looked at Jed dubiously as he clambered off the horse.

“The stables are over there. Why not go settle Diamond, while I speak to Jack?” Will waved at an extensive wood building at the far end of the square.

Jed did as he was told, taking the hint that they wanted to talk without him listening.

“I don't think he's right for the job, he ain't built for it.”

“C'mon Jack, he's half starved. You know this is all the work he's gonna get offered.”

“I don't think he'll manage it, Will. We ain't a charity, you know that.”

Jed's sharp ears caught the quiet conversation as he hurried back to the men, eager to know the outcome of their talk and his heart sank, wishing not for the first time, he'd taken after his Pa, rather than his Ma in size. Hiding his disappointment best he could, he called over his shoulder as he started to walk towards the drive that led to the road back into town.

“Thanks for the thought, Will, but seein' the answer's no, I best be getting on. Long walk into town.”

To his pleased surprise, Jack stopped him in his tracks before he'd got far, “Okay, son, you're on a week's trial.”

Jed turned, grinned and ran up to join the two men. Jack still didn't look totally convinced, but Curry knew he could easily change the man's mind given a few days.

At the end of the week, Jack called him over, just as he finished banging in the last repaired fence post on one of the small corrals.“Son, you're tougher than you look. Welcome to Running Rock.” He held out his hand which Curry shook gratefully, not bothering to hide his relief.
XXX
Curry was about finished cleaning the stables. He rubbed his sweaty forehead with an equally sweaty hand and straightened up despite every muscle protesting the movement. The smell of sweat and manure was up his nostrils and soaked into his clothes, but despite this, Jed felt some measure of pride in his work. He heard footsteps behind him and turned, expecting to see Will, but instead looked into the face of Sam Coleman.

“Well ain't you a young and pretty treasure, just the way I like 'em.  We coulda been having a lot of fun. Shame on Jack, for hiding you boy.”

The coldness in his eyes, reminded Curry of a rattler about to strike and he couldn't quite suppress a shiver. His hand, by instinct, went for his gun, just as he remembered with an inward curse, the ranch rule that hands could only carry a weapon when working out on the wilder edges, where there was a risk of animal or bandit attacks.

“I ain't nobody's treasure, least of all yours and no-one's been hiding me.” The last part wasn't strictly true. Jed had been very aware that Will, Jack and some of the other long term hands had indeed been trying to keep him out of Sam's way.

Sam's expression broke into an unpleasant smile at both the words and gesture, his eyes swept over Curry in unmistakeable appreciation. “I can think of better things than smart comments to occupy that mouth with, son.”

Curry backed away, brandishing his pitchfork in an attempt to ward off the attack, as Sam lunged. He easily yanked the tool out of Curry's sweat slick hands and threw it out of reach.

Curry caught up against the wall, kicked out, adding a flailing left hook. Somehow,both found their target, leaving Sam sprawled on the ground. Jed looked at the fallen man, unsure of what to do next, he heard voices outside, likely people coming to see what the commotion was. He didn't know if they were Sam's cronies and wasn't going to wait to find out. His heart pounding in his ears, he ran out of the stable. Racing over the uneven ground, he only stopped when he reached the outer boundary of the ranch.

Will found him there a couple of hours later.

“I think you oughta move on, before the weather hits, you know he ain't gonna let up.”

“I'm stayin', Will, ain't gonna let him force me out.” Jed had considered his options as he'd looked out over the ungoverned land beyond the fences. He'd never been one to duck trouble, besides with the scent of snow heavy in the air, he'd prefer to take a chance on Sam, then risk freezing to death.

Will looked unconvinced. “You sure son? He sure is spittin' feathers. You cracked him a good one. Sam don't take too kindly to being bested.”

Jed shrugged, frustrated, the unfairness of the situation stuck in his craw. “You sayin'  I shoulda' just let him do whatever he were planning?” He brushed a hand angrily through his hair.

Will sighed, “No I ain't sayin' that son, just givin' some warnin' that you sure bought yourself a whole heap of  trouble.”

Jed stood, brushing his clothes, stiff from sitting so long and met Will's gaze.  “I don't get why he's kept on. It ain't like he couldn't be easily replaced. Jack does most of his job anyways.”

Will handed him his hat and sighed, Jed knew from both his face and tone, that it was an explanation he'd given many times.

“Sam saved Mr Branning's life when they were fighting together. So he and the family feel they owe him. Nothin' anyone tells them convinces 'em to let him go.”

Jed lapsed into silence, having nothing useful to say to that. He and Will walked back to the bunkhouse without speaking. Will had obviously accepted he wouldn't budge, although the anxious glances he was throwing in Jed's direction as they walked, made it clear he really wished that weren't the case.

A storm came through during the night, shaking the bunkhouse, piling enough snow onto the road into town, ranch land and surrounding area, that it meant the hands wouldn't get much done outside until it melted.

As they sat eating breakfast, Will nodded over at Jed, “Looks like you made the right choice, you'd have frozen last night.” Will still looked concerned , but appeared to have accepted that Curry was staying.

After he finished his meal, Jed headed out to look for Jack. He found in him his office, looking over some papers.

Hovering at the door, his eyes drifted to the safe in the far corner, “I'd like my gun, just to get some practise in. Ain't like I can do much else with the weather an' all.”

“You looking for trouble, son?” Jack didn't look surprised at the request, only slightly troubled. Curry guessed he'd heard about what had happened.

Jed shook his head, understanding, if not exactly appreciating the question. “Mostly, just trying to avoid it.”

Jack seemed to accept that and taking the heavy keys from his belt unlocked the safe. He briefly hesitated as if about to speak, before he handed over the weapon. Jed quickly fastened the gun to his waist and immediately felt happier at the weight on his hip.

As Jed turned to walk away, Jack's voice stopped him, “Son, if he were anyone else, Sam would be long gone. But them at the big house won't hear nothing agin him. I don't want you rilin' him none, it won't help any of us.”

Curry sighed, his thumbs resting on his belt, but he knew his boss meant well, “Jack, you know it ain't me doing the riling, but I'll be sure to try keep outta his way.”
He tipped his hat and headed out to find something to shoot at and a safe place to do so.  The incident with Sam had left him feeling a bit vulnerable and had only underlined the importance of avoiding such situations. Being fast and accurate with a pistol, might not be important here and now, but he was pretty sure it'd help prevent him getting into that kind of trouble too often and keep him safer in the long run.

“Jack said it's fine I practise, but I need somethin' to fire at.”

The cook stared at him and sighed “ One day that smile of yours ain't goin to work, but as I'm a natural born sucker, you can use them, just don't go hitting anything you ain't aiming at.” He waved over to the door at a pile of cans and bottles waiting to be thrown out.

XXX

Curry was carefully putting up another row of targets on the fence when he heard a unwelcome voice.

“Well, for a pretty boy, with a smart mouth, you ain't bad with a gun.”

He swirled round, Sam and a group of his hangers on were watching, carefully spaced  to block any chance of him getting past. Jed had been so intent on his task he'd not heard them come up. They were all armed, in direct disregard of the ranch rule, but as Will had warned, Sam was given free reign. Although most already had their guns out, Jed still made a move for his own, but one of men fired at his feet, forcing him to take an involuntary step back.

Another man, Mick, Jed thought his name was, gestured at him, his lip curling in cruel amusement.  “Now, we ain't of a mind to kill you, just want to teach you a little lesson. So toss your gun, slowly now”  Jed reluctantly complied, unwilling to risk getting shot.

He briefly shut his eyes, then stepped forward to meet whatever was coming. He fought hard, landing a few telling blows, before the sheer number of attackers overwhelmed his resistance and a heavy knee to his groin left him sprawled full length on the snowy ground.

As he lay battered and aching, his head spinning, Sam leaned over him. Jed bit down hard on his bottom lip, determined not to make a sound, but as Sam's feet deliberately found the most painful spots, a low moan escaped him. He glared up into his tormentor's face, before the pain became too much, and he had to close his eyes tightly to prevent himself from passing out or throwing up.

Sam's voice came as if from a great distance. “You're pretty spirited son, but that'll make the breakin' all the more fun. He patted Curry's face in a parody of affection,  then gave his side a final kick. Through half closed eyes, Jed watched him walk away. He and his cronies were laughing loudly. Curry's lay still, unable to move, his face burning with both humiliation and anger.

After several painful attempts, Jed eventually struggled to his feet. He bent to pick up his gun, fighting the agony that shot through him and unsteadily finished the task of putting up the bottles.


With each failure, despite the pain, he corrected his aim for a better shot. When he hit something successfully, he imagined it was Sam or one of his walk-off friends. Nausea finally overwhelmed him and he retched, doubled over in pain, until he was dry heaving. His body ached, his head was spinning and sweat dripped down his face. As blackness tugged at the edge of his vision, he finally accepted  he'd pushed himself as far as he could. Waiting until he was sure he wasn't going to pass out, he carefully straightened up. With his arms protectively wrapped round his stomach, he headed slowly to the bunkhouse, relieved when he finally made it, breathless and dizzy, that the building was empty.













Philadelphia was somewhere that the Curry family had often talked of visiting. Grandpa Curry had some relatives who'd settled in the city, who exactly, Jed hadn't paid much mind to, but the name had stayed with him.

Whatever hopes he'd nurtured about a new start, had died almost as soon as he'd got off the train. The smell, the dust, the noise, engulfed his senses and a knot settled deep and tight in his stomach. The long weeks he'd been stuck in the city, had only intensified the knot and Jed still couldn't think of a single reason why anyone could live here happily. He desperately wanted to go back West, but jumping trains here was impossible and he was unable to save anything from his unreliable and always meagre income. Everything was so expensive and most times he barely had enough money to keep him off the streets.

Each morning in his flea-ridden rooming house, aware of everyone around him doing the same thing, he scoured the help wanted section of whatever newspaper was available, more than willing to take anything that meant money in his pocket.

Early one morning, with the city still mostly asleep, he ran through a rainstorm, hoping to secure one of the dock jobs he'd found in The Ledger.

“You got any experience, son?”

Jed had never seen a dock, until he'd arrived in Philadelphia, but thought he could figure out what was needed to unload and stack smelly, heavy crates, “I can lift, carry and know when to duck.”
The man's face split into a smile, “Well son, that'll do.”

The work was back breaking and crushingly dull, but at the end of the day, the pay, made the aches just about bearable. He headed back to the rooming house and was very aware that someone was following him. He felt a hand touch his pocket and grabbed it hard, eliciting a squeak from its owner. He turned to look at his the potential thief and was surprised to see a girl, two maybe even three years younger than him. He nearly released the hand in shock, but quickly recovered. She was covered in grime and her clothes were much too large. She had bright brown eyes and probably a pretty smile, but she was angrily glaring at him, so it was hard to tell.







After a successful bank job, their first major one, since Santana had been caught and Heyes had taken over, the gang had been itching to spend some of their plentiful funds. Heyes had, despite resistance, insisted on a week at The Hole, before he agreed to let them loose.

When Heyes had given them the go ahead to leave, the rest of the gang had headed for the rowdy mining settlement of Copper Hollow, but feeling the need for a break, Heyes had chosen to spend time in Rattlerbank, the quieter of the two outlaw friendly towns  in easy riding of Devil's Hole. The idea of some Kyle and Wheat free days, with plentiful alcohol, poker playing and women, sounded like a kind of Eden. Heyes enjoyed his new leadership, but the ongoing battle to keep the boys in line, plus the planning that had been needed for the job, had left him wanting some time to relax.

Heyes sauntered into the small saloon, money satisfyingly heavy in his pocket, his eyes swept round, finding nothing of either concern or interest until his eyes fell on a man sitting sideways at the bar. Heyes drew in a deep breath as he recognised him almost instantly. The man apparently aware of the scrutiny met his gaze  and time seemed to freeze for a moment, before he turned away, without even a smile of recognition.

Heyes was irritated at the lack of response, the man had known exactly who he was, that much he was sure of. Determined not to be ignored, he almost marched up to the bar, taking the space next to the man. He ordered a drink and took a sip, and at the continued lack of response said drily, “You just gonna pretend you don't know me?”

Jed looked up, his face giving nothing away and shrugged. “I was intendin' to, but seems like you have other ideas. “ He said nothing else, only gazed at his beer in deliberate silence.

Heyes studied his friend, noting his shabby and dusty clothing. He looked down at the gun tied to his right leg. The holster and belt were both well worn and had been frequently repaired, rarely professionally, judging by the untidy (although effective) stitching, but from what he could see of it, the gun looked expensive. Heyes looked back up, leaning forward to better see his cousin's face.
He was shocked at what he saw. Under his eyes, there were dark shadows and as Heyes squinted, he noticed bruising scattered over his cheekbones and chin. His right hand, which rested near his weapon,was covered with cuts and more heavy bruising.  His left, curled round his beer, was similarly damaged. The color suggested they were a few days old, but were likely still sore. Heyes easily recognised the signs of exhaustion, pain and near collapse, but only because even after their years apart, he knew what to look for.  

The scrutiny drew his old friend into speaking, “Stop it, Heyes, you looking at me like that is making me nervous and I don't take kindly to bein' nervous.”  There was more weariness than anger in his voice and Heyes risked leaning in, to speak softly in his ear.

“I'm just thinkin', maybe we oughta leave, before you fall off that chair and get a mite more friendly with the floor, than you'd like.”

Curry humphed, but didn't pull away, replying quietly, “I ain't goin' to pass out and give these boys a show, don't you worry.”

Heyes snorted before responding, hesitating for a moment, unsure what to call him, but settled on the name he figured his friend was probably more comfortable with, “Kid, you might as well give it up. You forget I know you.”

Heyes moved back, but as he did so, he saw a brief flash of sadness, quickly masked, cross the Kid's shuttered expression.

“I've changed, gotten used to makin' my own decisions, so don't be expectin' me to follow or listen to you as easily as I did.”

Heyes was startled into quiet laughter, “Kid, as I recall, you never made anything easy. How do you think I got so good at persuadin'?”  He was rewarded with a slight upturn of Curry's lips and a vaguely amused shrug.

“I always figured you was just born that way. ”

“Well, even with my natural talent, getting this good, still took practise and you made sure I got it.”

“Not exactly my recollection,” the Kid didn't quite smile, but there was a definite thaw in his expression.

Heyes responded to the hint of warmth, with a grin and clapped Curry gently on the shoulder, leaving his hand lightly resting on his back. “So, what do you say? We rest some and then get caught up?”

Heyes feared he'd taken too much for granted, when Curry's face froze. Heyes felt his muscles clench under his arm. Disappointment swept through him and he started to pull away. However after a moment,Curry relaxed into the light grip and even flashed a weak version of the once familiar warm grin.

“I'd sure be interested in knowin' what you been up to. Seems to suit you, you're looking well.”

“Well, if it ain't the great Kid Curry. Didn't expect to see someone so famous out here.”

Curry tensed, yanked himself away from Heyes and swirled round, standing quickly to face the owner of the voice. Heyes noticed him grab the bar to steady himself as he did so and saw discomfort, quickly suppressed cross his face, but doubted anyone else, least of all the idiot at the door, had noticed. A man, although as Heyes eyed him critically, boy might be a more fitting description, was standing, his arms resting at his sides. There was a sudden sharp rise in tension as people took in what was happening.

Curry indicating the beer on the bar, his eyes cold, said, “ Don't seem right to disturb these good folk, when all we're doing is enjoying a drink.”

Heyes was impressed with the steadiness of Curry's voice, as standing so close, he could see the small tremors in his body and wondered just how much pain he was in.

“Well, maybe, I want to see if you're really as good as they say.”

Heyes blinked at the speed that the gun was in the Kid's hand, “I mostly hit what I aim at. As I'm feelin' a little tired, I ain't exactly sure that I can stop my finger getting twitchy.” His voice was calm, but with enough edge, that there was an almost collective intake of breath.

Suddenly aware that he might have made a mistake, the youngster tried to smile. Curry simply continued to stare at him, his gun steady. The uneven battle of wills ended, when the potential opponent, his face red with embarrassment, turned and almost fled out through the door.

The atmosphere broke, as the other customers realising the crisis was over, started breathing again.

“I'm sorry, Mr Curry, Karl ain't got much sense. Next drinks on the house.”

Curry twirled his gun back into his holster and turned to the barman, shaking his head, “Ain't thirsty no more, but thanks for the offer. Maybe tomorrow?” The barman nodded nervously in agreement.

The Kid, finished his drink in a single gulp and threw some coins on the bar, before he  headed out to the door.

Heyes quickly followed, he was both impressed and shaken by the display. It was clear his friend was more than a little dangerous, but given that he'd avoided a potentially fatal (for the other man,at least) gunfight. Heyes was sure that he could find his friend, however deeply hidden he might be, behind this familiar stranger. He hoped a little time, sleep, alcohol and his silver tongue would prove the right combination to do so. He knew the bright future they'd always hoped for was in reach.  All that was left, was to convince Curry.

Curry was leaning heavily against the saloon wall, the shaking Heyes had noticed even more pronounced. He looked up into Heyes's eyes, his expression resigned, “Guess I'd better be ridin' on. That damn fool might come back with some friends. I ain't exactly certain I could shoot straight enough not to kill, but I'm sure not goin' to take another beatin'.”

With more confidence than he actually felt, Heyes said airily “I doubt he'll be back, think you scared him plenty. Don't see no reason to change our plans. Besides, you're not in much of a state to be goin' anywhere but bed. You got a room?”

Curry shook his head and then their attention was caught by a motley collection of young men walking towards them. The Kid muttered under his breath and started to push himself away from the wall, but Heyes put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “ Let me handle this.” Curry looked prepared to argue, but then nodded wearily. Heyes realised that he had about reached his limit. With another slight pat he turned to face the small group, walking out to meet them and hopefully distract their attention from his weary friend.

“Look, I think we've all had enough excitement for one day. I bet you boys have heard of The Devil's Hole Gang. Well they're good pals of ours and they likely won't take too kindly to us havin' any issue here. Just in case you're wonderin' the name's Hannibal Heyes.” He smiled brightly at them, but let his hand linger round his gun.

Karl's face flickered and he turned back to his friends, who suddenly looked worried. The small group looked nervously between the two of them, then after a brief pause, they all sauntered away. Heyes huffed out a heavy breath and turned back to Curry, who had suddenly gone very pale.

_________________
The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.
Samuel Johnson

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Carl Sagan


Last edited by rachel_74_1 on Tue Aug 18, 2020 10:31 am; edited 6 times in total
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Penski
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Penski

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 2:33 pm

Can I comment? Are you looking for what works and suggestions?

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h
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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rachel_74_1

rachel_74_1

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 2:37 pm

Suggestions would be great. I am struggling to fill in the gaps.

_________________
The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.
Samuel Johnson

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Carl Sagan
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Penski
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Penski

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Age : 60
Location : Northern California

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 7:55 pm

My suggestions...  (easier to write in the story)

Jed dangled his bare legs in the river, the water was pleasantly cool on his overheated skin. Surrounded by wide open space, the quiet peace only broken by the munching of the horses and the gentle sound of splashing, he tried and failed to relax. Jed glanced over at his companion, who was seemingly intent on soaking his own legs and cleared his throat.

Heyes looked up with a speed that suggested he'd been expecting something. They locked gazes for a moment, before Jed said a little warily.

“I ain't fond of your idea, Heyes. It's like we'd be admittin' we can't do any better. “

Heyes rolled his eyes a little before replying, “Well seein' as Silver Ridge is the third town we've been chased out of in less than two weeks, it don't seem like we got another way to go.“

Jed sighed heavily, “Well, maybe you oughta be more careful about telling poker players how bad they are, or win a little less of their money, so they don't get so mad.”

As he spoke, Jed watched Heyes, saw his jaw tighten, then studied his friend's hands as they clenched and unclenched, noted the sudden sharp tension in his shoulders and waited, his own hands balled into fists, nails digging into his palms. However, much to his mute surprise, instead of unleashing the expected sarcasm, Heyes merely dropped his eyes back to the river, and stared into it, as if fascinated by the rippling patterns. But Jed, too familiar with both his and Heyes's temper knew an argument was inevitable in the end.

“That weren't the reason we got run out of Barkerville, don't think there was one, except someone didn't like our faces. In Red Rock it weren't me that took on that guy in the saloon.” Heyes was attempting to keep his voice reasonable, but Jed could hear the sharpness underneath it.

“What was I s'posed to do, just let him hurt that girl?” Curry snapped at his friend, annoyed at the implication that he should have done nothing.

Heyes didn't reply, still looking into the river, but took a deep breath, obviously biting back an angry retort. After a few moments he looked up, making an effort at keeping his tone
non-confrontational. “Look, it don't matter why we got chased out, only that we did. We need more help to stay outta trouble.”

“How is joinin a outlaw gang gonna help us any? We left Kansas to put trouble behind us, but it's still finding us. Your idea don't sound like we'd be tryin' to avoid people not likin' us.” Jed struggled to mirror his friend's calm tone, but knew he hadn't succeeded at Heyes's expression.

“Stop being so mule-headed over this and listen, you know I'm right as usual.”

A wave of anger at the superior and patronising tone brought Jed to his feet. He swirled to face his friend, his hands in tight fists. He lost the fragile hold on his temper and yelled, loud enough that the horses were startled out of their contented eating.

Extra space here confused me - thought it might be a break in the scene, but it wasn't.

“You always say you're right, but some of your ideas are downright stupid Besides it ain't even like you're that much older. So why should I listen?” It sounds to me like your plan will cause us even worse problems then we already got” He subsided into silence, as he fought to wrestle his temper under control. He hadn't wanted to be the first to turn this into a confrontation, but he felt some satisfaction as he caught the slightly startled expression on Heyes's face.

After a brief staring match, he looked away and pulled on his socks and boots. When he returned his gaze to Heyes, there was an almost steely determination in his friend's expression. “This is the only choice we got left, Jed.” No longer superior, his tone was as level and firm as the look in his eyes. Jed suddenly faced the reality that disagreement on this, could mean the end of them travelling together.

Jed realised he had perhaps one last try again to get his point across, “Our folks would hate this!” At the discomfort on Heyes's face, he thought that he'd made an impact, but his friend's reply quickly quashed the brief hope.

“We're on our own. We can't be what our folks would have wanted, it just ain't possible. You're just bein stupid if you don't see that. A gang who needs us is the only way we'll avoid getting killed. We might even get rich. Why can't you just go along with me on this?” Heyes's voice was loud and heavy with frustration.

Jed turned away, an angry knot in his stomach. They were never going to agree over this. Heyes just didn't see that turning outlaw went against everything they'd ever been taught. He stomped towards his horse and mounted without any clear plan of what he was going to do. He just knew he needed to get away. He heard his friend call out as he rode away, but he simply kept going with his head down.

It was close to dusk when Jed finally stopped, both he and his horse far too tired to go any further. The sun was fully set by the time he was comfortable, the process of bedding down having taken longer than he was used to, now he was doing it by himself.

The darkness was only broken by the flickering fire, the crescent moon and the bright twinkling of the stars. Curry sat staring into the dancing flames, nursing a whiskey and faced the fact that he couldn't go back. Jed had gone along with most of what Heyes planned or suggested, for close to ten years, but now with the two year age gap almost meaningless, he wanted a more equal say. He doubted that would be possible, with the pattern so deeply set between them. The best chance he had of finding out what he really wanted,was to be away from his friend. The decision made, he finished his drink, laid down on his bedroll and closed his eyes. He knew he should probably keep a watch, but he was too exhausted to stay awake and was soon asleep, despite his unquiet mind.

He woke early, still tired, his sleep had been broken and restless. He turned to speak to empty space, forgetting for a moment that Heyes wasn't beside him. Jed packed up to head anywhere he wanted to go. Instead of happiness and anticipation at a new beginning, he felt uneasy as if something was missing. As he rode, trying to ignore the silence next to him, the feeling of loss only deepened. Jed hoped it'd fade as he grew more used to being alone, because he was sure following their own paths apart was the best decision.

Really like the fight and Jed leaving in anger and thinking following their own paths was the best decision.  I can see the reason for Heyes thinking joining an outlaw gang was right, but Jed not wanting to go along at first.  Good beginning!

XXX

I really like the XXX you used here for scene breaks and hope you'll use them more frequently.

Heyes camped near the river for three nightsspace ,hoping his friend would return once his temper had burnt itself out. It wasn't till the early afternoon of the fourth day that Heyes truly understood that Jed had left him. Heyes while angry and hurt at Jed's rejection was still sure his idea was the best option and was completely certain that them splitting up was a mistake. However as he rode out, he accepted that Jed had made it clear by not returning, that he didn't feel the same way. Heyes wouldn't go searching, if that's what Jed expected, he hadn't done the leaving after all.

Heyes rode into Buford and glanced round the town, his eyes finally resting on the brightly painted saloon down at the end of the main street. He tied his horse to the hitching point and walked towards it.

As he entered, Heyes took in the few drinkers spread sparsely through the small building. He placed his hat on the bar before running a hand through his dusty hair. He ordered two beers, turned away to study the clientele, while keeping one eye on the door. As two glasses were plonked in front of him, he turned back with a smile, nodding cheerfully at the barkeep as he asked, “You get busy?”

“We do, come evening, quite a rowdy crowd.”

“Ranch hands or other types? ” Heyes deliberately left the question vague, not sure of the response.

The man eyed him a little doubtfully, but answered him anyway. “Well they ain't always on the side of the angels, if that's what you're meanin', but they sure like to spend their money .”

“Sheriff pay 'em much mind?”

“He ain't bothered, less it gets too outta hand. “ The man's expression turned suspicious as he eyed the two glasses, “You thirsty son, or waiting on someone?”

Heyes glanced down a little blankly at the two beers on the bar and shook his head at himself, old habits were going to be hard to break. He smiled innocently at the man, before taking a long drink of one of the beers. He swallowed, enjoying the cool liquid as it slid down his throat and replied, “Just thirsty, trail dust sure makes my throat dry. Besides, I ain't in no rush to leave, seems like this is my kinda town.” The man smiled at that and the wariness faded from his expression. Heyes figured, from what the man had said, that this was as good a place as any, to see if he could persuade an outfit that he had skills they might need. He took another long sip of beer and settled down to wait for the place to get interesting

Love that Heyes waited for several days hoping that Jed would return and he ordered two beers out of habit.  Good place to join a gang.

XXX

Several weeks after leaving Heyes behind, when he'd pretty much exhausted both his money and supplies, Jed rode into Aspen Falls to sell his horse and gear, so he wouldn't have to freeze outside in the rapidly cooling nights.

After a final pat, he took the gelding to the livery. He wished there was an alternative to selling such a good, even-tempered, easy to ride mount, but he could see none.

Sad

“He's well looked after and his gear ain't too shabby.” The livery man's eyes took in Jed's dishevelled appearance, surprise clear on his face.

Jed was insulted, but made no comment, he needed the money enough that he couldn't afford to chance the man might just throw him out if he riled him.

“I'll give you one hundred and fifty dollars for him and your gear.”

Jed's temper flared, he hated having to sell the horse and that paltry amount was more like robbery than a fair offer. “He's worth more than that, you know it! Two hundred dollars and you'll almost be getting the gear free.”

“There's a depression on, son, ain't able to go higher than one hundred and fifty. Take it or leave it. I'm the only place in town.” Jed stared at him, let his anger drain away as he recognised the man wouldn't budge and reluctantly took the money.

Jed walked back into the street, blinking in the suddenly bright sun. The money felt good in his pocket and despite knowing he'd got a raw deal, he was certain he'd done the right thing.

After buying some bullets and gun oil from the general store, he glanced round the town for somewhere to eat, eager to taste something that wasn't beans or burnt biscuit.

The small cafe at the end of the main street looked appealing. As he entered the worn but very clean building, his stomach rumbled and he found himself almost drooling at the smell of cooking. He took a small table near the door, ordered the special, with extra potatoes and apple pie. When the food came, he ate methodically, trying not to shovel it in, not wanting to seem too desperate.

The pretty waitress who served him was definitely interested in getting to know him better, despite his general untidiness. He caught her eye again and smiled hopefully, but to his disappointment, the place was soon busy and her attention was quickly drawn away from him.

Reluctant to leave the warmth and comfortable noise of the cafe, he lingered over a cup of coffee. Should he stay for a while, or head to a bigger town or even a city, where work might be easier to find?

Curry glanced up as a shadow came into his line of vision. Someone cleared their throat, waving at the chair opposite him in query. He nodded and added “It ain't taken,” before he returned to studying his rapidly emptying mug.
Jed removed his gaze from his coffee and looked up when the man sat down opposite him. He had several inches on Curry and was well-muscled. His clothes were a little worn, but he appeared well-groomed and his clothes weren't trail dusty. Curry figured he was probably a hand at one of the nearby sprawling ranches. He certainly looked like a man who'd spent much of his life labouring.

Is the above one or two paragraphs?  If "Jed removed" starts a new one, you missed a line.

He favoured Curry with a friendly smile and his eyes were warm. He looked neither concerned or surprised by Jed's scrutiny.

He put his hand out, “William Carter, but most here just call me Will.”

Jed shook it a little warily, but offered his own name in reply. “Jedidiah, but I prefer Jed.”

Will took a sip out of his own coffee and then waved the cup in Jed's direction as he said.

“I saw you at the livery. If you don't mind me saying, you seem a little down on your luck.“

Jed shrugged, embarrassed, but unable to deny it. His unshaven face, reddened eyes and dusty appearance, would have made a liar of him if he'd tried, even without the man knowing he'd just sold his horse.

“I ain't exactly over run with money, no, but I don't see...”

“I work out at the Running Rock Ranch. They're wanting more hands. The job pays fifteen dollars monthly, with board. I thought with the depression, a young fella like you might be interested.”

Fifteen dollars was slightly higher than the usual rate and the idea of regular food and sleeping under a roof appealed, even if the thought of hard work didn't.

“Ain't scouting for hands usually the foreman's job?”

Will looked down as if suddenly deeply interested in the checked cloth covering the table. “It's best it ain't. Sam's a bit touched and can be real mean. He don't always make the best choices when hiring on. He can take against someone for no good reason, or get a liking for people who ain't exactly a best fit for the work. So it's agreed that his deputy, Jack does most of the setting on. Jack likes us older hands to keep an eye out, so he don't need to leave the ranch much.”

Curry wasn't sure whether he should consider the offer and wished Heyes was there, so they could talk the idea out and come to a joint decision. He quickly chased the thought away, annoyed that he still wasn't used to being in charge of his own life. Despite a strange prickly feeling that he recognised as sometimes warning him of trouble brewing, he found himself agreeing to go meet Jack and take the job if it were offered to him.

“The work ain't easy, but it's two squares and somewhere warm to sleep. We can go for a drink and talk it over, before we go see if Jack's interested.”

Jed looked round for the pretty waitress and saw she was still too busy to pay him much mind. Hungry for company, he accepted the offer, the nagging doubt in his mind fading to relief at the thought of possibly not freezing to death as winter drew in.

“Running Rock's huge and never short on money. Carlton Branning and his family have owned it since well before the war. They're always needing more help. Most of the boys are good workers and the food ain't half bad.”

Jed listened intently as Will filled him in over a beer in the quiet saloon. It sounded far more appealing than trying to make one hundred and sixty dollars stretch beyond a couple of weeks.

As they rode into the ranch, doubling up on Will's horse, a man came over to greet them. He looked at Jed dubiously as he clambered off the horse.

“The stables are over there. Why not go settle Diamond, while I speak to Jack?” Will waved at an extensive wood building at the far end of the square.

Jed did as he was told, taking the hint that they wanted to talk without him listening.

“I don't think he's right for the job, he ain't built for it.”

“C'mon Jack, he's half starved. You know this is all the work he's gonna get offered.”

“I don't think he'll manage it, Will. We ain't a charity, you know that.”

Jed's sharp ears caught the quiet conversation as he hurried back to the men, eager to know the outcome of their talk and his heart sank, wishing not for the first time, he'd taken after his Pa, rather than his Ma in size. Hiding his disappointment best he could, he called over his shoulder as he started to walk towards the drive that led to the road back into town.

“Thanks for the thought, Will, but seein' the answer's no, I best be getting on. Long walk into town.”

To his pleased surprise, Jack stopped him in his tracks before he'd got far, “Okay, son, you're on a week's trial.”

Jed turned, grinned and ran up to join the two men. Jack still didn't look totally convinced, but Curry knew he could easily change the man's mind given a few days.

At the end of the week, Jack called him over, just as he finished banging in the last repaired fence post on one of the small corrals.“Son, you're tougher than you look. Welcome to Running Rock.” He held out his hand which Curry shook gratefully, not bothering to hide his relief.

Very good scenes with Jed getting a job and proving himself.

XXX

Curry was about finished cleaning the stables. He rubbed his sweaty forehead with an equally sweaty hand and straightened up despite every muscle protesting the movement. The smell of sweat and manure was up his nostrils and soaked into his clothes, but despite this, Jed felt some measure of pride in his work. He heard footsteps behind him and turned, expecting to see Will or one of the other boys, but instead looked into the face of Sam Coleman.

“Well ain't you a treasure. We coulda been having a lot of fun. Shame on Jack, for hiding you boy.”

Am I reading too much in this?  Is Sam looking at Jed as a young, good-looking man he's attracted to?  If not, what did he mean by treasure?  I think treasure is confusing me.  Maybe another word?

Curry shivered at the coldness in his eyes. His hand, by instinct, went for his gun, just as he remembered with an inward curse, the ranch rule that hands could only carry a weapon when working out on the wilder edges, where there was a risk of animal or bandit attacks.

“I ain't nobody's treasure, especially not yours and no-one's been hiding anybody.” The last part wasn't strictly true. Jed had been very aware that the older hands had indeed been trying to keep him out of Sam's way, but the man didn't need to know that.

Sam's smile widened at both the words and gesture, which somehow made the expression even less pleasant. “You sure got a smart mouth, son.”

Curry backed away, brandishing his pitchfork in an attempt to ward off the attack, as Sam lunged. He easily yanked the tool out of Curry's sweat slick hands and threw it out of reach.

Curry caught up against the wall, kicked out, adding a flailing left hook. Somehow,both found their target, leaving Sam sprawled on the ground. Jed looked at the fallen man, unsure of what to do next, he heard voices outside, likely people coming to see what the commotion was. He didn't know if they were Sam's cronies and wasn't going to wait to find out. His heart pounding in his ears, he ran out of the stable. Racing over the uneven ground, he only stopped when he reached the outer boundary of the ranch.

Will found him there a couple of hours later.

“I think you oughta move on, before the weather hits, you know he ain't gonna let up.”

“I'm stayin', Will, ain't gonna let him force me out.” Jed had considered his options as he'd looked out over the ungoverned land beyond the fences. He'd never been one to duck trouble, besides with the scent of snow heavy in the air, he'd prefer to take a chance on Sam, then risk freezing to death.

Will looked unconvinced. “You sure son? He sure is spittin' feathers. You cracked him a good one. Sam don't take too kindly to being bested.”

Jed shrugged, frustrated, the unfairness of the situation stuck in his craw. “You sayin' I shoulda' just let him do whatever he were planning?” He brushed a hand angrily through his hair.


Will sighed, “No I ain't sayin' that son, just givin' some warnin' that you sure bought yourself a whole heap of trouble.”

Big space here that made me think there was a new scene, but there's not.

Jed stood, brushing his clothes, stiff from sitting so long and met Will's gaze. “I don't get why he's kept on. It ain't like he couldn't be easily replaced. Jack does most of his job anyways.”

Will handed him his hat and sighed, answering as if it were something he was used to.

“Sam saved Mr Branning's life when they were fighting together. So he and the family feel they owe him. Nothin' anyone tells 'em changes their mind.”

Jed lapsed into silence, having nothing useful to say to that. He and Will walked back to the bunkhouse without speaking. Will had obviously accepted he wouldn't budge, although the anxious glances he was throwing in Jed's direction as they walked, made it clear he really wished that weren't the case.

A storm came through during the night, shaking the bunkhouse, piling enough snow onto the road into town, ranch land and surrounding area, that it meant the hands wouldn't get much done outside until it melted.

As they sat eating breakfast, Will nodded over at Jed, “Looks like you made the right choice, you'd have frozen last night.” Will still looked concerned , but appeared to have accepted that Curry was staying.

After he finished his meal, Jed headed out to look for Jack. He found in him his office, looking over some papers.

Hovering at the door, his eyes drifted to the safe in the far corner, “I'd like my gun, just to get some practise in. Ain't like I can do much else with the weather an' all.”

“You looking for trouble, son?” Jack didn't look surprised at the request, only slightly troubled. Curry guessed he'd heard about what had happened.

Jed shook his head, understanding if not exactly appreciating the question. “Mostly, just trying to avoid it.”

Jack seemed to accept that and taking the heavy keys from his belt unlocked the safe. He briefly hesitated as if about to speak, before he handed over the weapon. Jed quickly fastened the gun to his waist, hoping Jack wouldn't change his mind. He immediately felt happier at the weight on his hip.

As Jed turned to walk away, Jack's voice stopped him and he turned back. “Son, if he were anyone else, Sam would be long gone. But them at the big house won't hear nothing against him. I don't want you rilin' him none, it won't help any of us.”

Curry sighed, his thumbs resting on his belt, but he knew his boss meant well, “Jack, you know it ain't me doing the riling, but I'll be sure to try keep outta his way.”

He tipped his hat and headed out to find something to shoot at and a safe place to do so. The incident with Sam had left him feeling a bit vulnerable and had only underlined the importance of avoiding such situations. Being fast and accurate with a pistol, might not be important here and now, but he was pretty sure it'd help prevent him getting into that kind of trouble too often and keep him safer in the long run.

“Jack said it's fine I practise, but I need somethin' to fire at.”

The cook stared at him and sighed “ One day that smile of yours ain't goin to work, but as I'm a natural born sucker, you can use them, just don't go hitting anything you ain't aiming at.” He waved over to the door at a box waiting to be collected.

A box of what?  Maybe say old bottles and cans to throw out?

Curry had just reloaded his gun and was carefully putting up another row of bottles and cans, when he heard footsteps behind him.

“Well, for a pretty boy, with a smart mouth, you ain't bad with a gun.”

He swirled round to be faced with Sam and a group of his hangers on, spaced out to block any chance of him getting past. Jed shut his eyes briefly. He considered trying to fire at the men's feet, but could see none of them were armed, which meant he'd be the one in trouble if one of his bullets went astray.

He untied his gun belt and let it drop to the ground, standing firm as they advanced on him. Despite a spirited attempt at fighting back, he soon lay battered and aching on the ground, his head spinning. Sam knelt next to him, deliberately pressing on the bruises. Jed tried to glare at him, but the pain meant that he had to half-close his eyes to concentrate on not passing out.

Sam hissed into his ear, the smell of alcohol heavy on his breath. “You boys are all the same, smart mouthed and arrogant, but as soon as the muskets go off, you're either messing yourself, cryin' for your Mama, or too busy dying to do either.” He spat in Curry's face, stood and walked off.

What did you mean by "as soon as the muskets go off?"  Not sure Jed would have thrown down his gun when cornered and with no defense.  Not sure the others wouldn't have had guns.  Something to think about.

It took him several tries, but Jed eventually struggled to his feet, bent painfully to pick up his gun and walked unsteadily to the bunk house, relieved to find it empty. He desperately wanted some payback on Sam and his walk-off friends, but as he lay on his bunk trying to get comfortable, he knew he was in no position to get it. He couldn't draw Will in and Jack wouldn't help him. His only course was to stay out of trouble and move on as soon as the weather eased.

Need a definite break XXX here.

Philadelphia was somewhere that the Curry family had often talked of visiting. Grandpa Curry had some relatives who'd settled in the city, who exactly, Jed hadn't paid much mind to, but the name had stayed with him.

Whatever hopes he'd nurtured about a new start, had died almost as soon as he'd got off the train. The smell, the dust, the noise engulfed his senses and a knot settled deep and tight in his stomach. The long weeks he'd been stuck in the city, had only intensified the knot and Jed still couldn't think of a single reason why anyone could live here happily. He desperately wanted to go back West, but jumping trains here was impossible and he was unable to save anything from his unreliable and always meagre income. Everything was so expensive and most times he barely had enough money to keep him off the streets.

Each morning, aware of everyone round him doing the same thing, he scoured the help wanted section of whatever newspaper was available.

Extra space here was confusing.  Also, how about... as he ran through a rainstorm one day (below)

The city was still mostly asleep, as he ran through the rainstorm, hoping the early start would secure him one of the dock jobs he'd found in The Ledger.

“You got any experience, son?”

Jed had never seen a dock, until he'd arrived in Philadelphia, but thought he could figure out what was needed to unload and stack smelly, heavy crates, “I can lift, carry and know when to duck.”

Cute!

The man's face split into a smile, “Well son, that'll do.”

The work was back breaking and crushingly dull, but at the end of the day, the money in his pocket almost made the aches worth it. He headed back to the rooming house and was very aware that someone was following him.

Someone was following him and...  What happened?  Don't leave us hanging.  Does he keep the job and get enough money to head back west?  Oh, a good line could be something like... When he got on the train heading west, he didn't look back. (or something like that)

Need a definite break XXX here.

Heyes sauntered into the small saloon, money satisfyingly heavy in his pocket. He and the boys had just over a week ago, robbed a bank, the safe had held enough, that even split eleven ways, there was no pressing need to pull another job for at least a month. Rattlerbank was the quieter of the two outlaw friendly towns, within a couple of days ride of Devil's Hole. Heyes, feeling the need for a break, had chosen to spend some time here, away from the others, who had headed for the rowdier mining town of Copper Hollow. Three Kyle and Wheat free days with plentiful alcohol, poker playing and women, sounded like a kind of Eden. Heyes enjoyed being leader, but sometimes, just sometimes he needed to get away.

Is Heyes the leader yet?  Maybe give us more of a clue with who's in charge - Plummer, Big Jim Santana, Heyes.  Think timeline.  How long has Jed been at the ranch and Philly when thinking who's in charge for this paragraph.

Is this the same time or later?  If later, a scene break XXX please.  Also, you could add a scene of the Kid deciding on the train to find Heyes and actively searching for him when he gets west.  How's he find him?

He studied his friend, noting his shabby and dusty clothing. His gun looked expensive and the part of it Heyes could see gleamed, but the holster and belt were well worn and had been frequently repaired, rarely professionally, judging by the untidy (although effective) stitching. There were shadows so dark, they could have been bruises under his eyes. Heyes realised, as he squinted for a closer look, that some of the darkest marks were indeed bruising. His right hand which rested near his weapon, was also heavily marked and scattered with cuts which looked a few days old, but must still be sore. Heyes could easily look beyond Curry's demeanour and recognise the signs of exhaustion, pain and near collapse , but only because even after their years apart, he knew what to look for.

“Why are looking at me like that Heyes? I don't like it.” Curry sounded to Heyes, more weary than angry and he risked leaning in close to speak softly in his ear.

“I'm just thinkin' we oughta get you outta here, before you and the floor get a mite more friendly than you'd like.”

Cute!  Why's the Kid beat up?  Still from Philly?  Not sure he would have found Heyes, an outlaw, that fast.  He could have had more altercations with men.  Oh, and is Heyes the leader here?

Curry humphed, but didn't pull away, replying quietly, “I ain't goin' to pass out and give these boys a show, don't you worry.”

Heyes snorted, before responding, still only loud enough for the two of them to hear, “Kid, you might as well give it up. You forget I know you.”

Heyes moved away, but as he did so, he saw a brief flash of sadness, quickly masked, cross the Kid's shuttered expression.

“I've changed Heyes, gotten used to makin' my own decisions, so don't be expectin' me to follow or listen to you as easily as I did.”

Heyes was startled into quiet laughter, “Kid, as I recall, even then, you never made anything easy. How do you think I got so good at persuadin'?” He was rewarded with a slight upturn of Curry's lips and a vaguely amused shrug.

“I always figured you was just born that way. ”

“Well, even with my natural talent, getting this good, still took practise and you made sure I got it.”

“Not exactly my recollection,” ” the Kid didn't quite smile, but there was a definite thaw in his expression.

Heyes responded to the hint of warmth with a grin and clapped Curry gently on the shoulder, “So, what do you say? We rest some and then get caught up?”

Heyes feared he'd taken too much for granted, when Curry's face fell and he tensed. However after a moment, he flashed a weak version of the once familiar warm grin.

“I'd sure be interested in knowin' what you been up to. Seems to suit you, you're looking well.”

It was clear that his old friend wasn't the same person he'd been when they parted ways. He was warier and more than a little dangerous. Heyes had already guessed as much, from the stories he'd heard. But Heyes was sure that he could find his friend, however deeply hidden he might be, behind this familiar stranger. He hoped a little time, sleep, alcohol and his silver tongue would prove the right combination to do so. Their three year separation hadn't changed his view that the two of them could have a bright future together, now all he had to do was convince Curry.

What stories had Heyes heard about the Kid.  We need to know more about the Kid between Philly and someone following him and now.  Loved that bantering above - cute!  Loved this last paragraph, too.

Really loved your story of the boys breaking up for the three years before becoming infamous.  There's a few places where more detail or information is needed.  You can pm or email me if you have questions about what I said or if you want to brainstorm about something (I love brainstorming in difficult spots).  Good luck!

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 8:47 pm

Thank you for the comments. It still needs a lot of work and filling in. My idea is that after Philly, Curry builds his rep and eventually something happens that makes him decide to find Heyes. Not sure what yet.
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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeSat Aug 15, 2020 9:24 pm

Rachel, I pm'd you with a few thoughts. huh

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeMon Aug 17, 2020 6:31 am

I really liked your suggestions, so have written some more and rewritten some parts :) Thanks for the help.

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeTue Aug 18, 2020 10:28 am

Jed dangled his bare legs in the river, the water was pleasantly cool on his overheated skin. Surrounded by wide open space, the quiet peace only broken by the munching of the horses and the gentle sound of splashing, he tried and failed to relax. Jed glanced over at his companion, who was seemingly intent on soaking his own legs and cleared his throat.

Heyes looked up with a speed that suggested he'd been expecting something. They locked gazes for a moment, before Jed said a little hesitantly.

“I ain't fond of your idea, Heyes. It's like we'd be admittin' we can't do any better. “

Heyes rolled his eyes a little before replying, “Well seein' as Silver Ridge is the third town we've been chased out of in less than two weeks, it don't seem like we got another way to go.“

Jed sighed heavily, “Well, maybe you oughta be more careful about telling poker players how bad they are, or win a little less of their money, so they don't get so mad.”

As he spoke, Jed watched Heyes, saw his jaw tighten, then studied his friend's hands as they clenched and unclenched, noted the sudden sharp tension in his shoulders and waited, his own hands balled into fists, nails digging into his palms. However, much to his mute surprise, instead of unleashing the expected sarcasm, Heyes merely dropped his eyes back to the river, and stared into it, as if fascinated by the rippling patterns. But Jed, too familiar with both his and Heyes's temper knew an argument was inevitable in the end.

“That weren't the reason we got run out of Barkerville, don't think there was one, except someone didn't like our faces. In Red Rock, it weren't me that took on that guy in the saloon.” Heyes was attempting to keep his voice reasonable, but Jed could hear the sharpness underneath it.

“What was I s'posed to do, just let him hurt that girl?” Curry snapped at his friend, annoyed at the implication that he should have done nothing.

Heyes didn't reply, still looking into the river, but took a deep breath, obviously biting back an angry retort. After a few moments he looked up, making an effort at keeping his tone
non-confrontational. “Look, it don't matter why we got chased out, only that we did. We need more help to stay outta trouble.”

“How is joinin a outlaw gang gonna help us any? We left Kansas to put trouble behind us, but it's still finding us. Your idea don't sound like we'd be tryin' to avoid people not likin' us.” Jed struggled to mirror his friend's calm tone, but knew he hadn't succeeded at Heyes's expression.

“Stop being so mule-headed over this and listen, you know I'm right as usual.”

A wave of anger at the superior and patronising tone, brought Jed to his feet. He swirled to face his friend, his hands in tight fists. He lost the fragile hold on his temper and yelled, loud enough that the horses were startled out of their contented eating.


“You always say you're right, but some of your ideas are downright stupid Besides it ain't even like you're that much older. So why should I listen?” It sounds to me like your plan will cause us even worse problems then we already got.” He subsided into silence, as he fought to wrestle his temper under control. He hadn't wanted to be the first to turn this into a confrontation, but he felt some satisfaction as he caught the slightly startled expression on Heyes's face.

After a brief staring match, he looked away and pulled on his socks and boots. When he returned his gaze to Heyes, there was an almost steely determination in his friend's expression. “This is the only choice we got left, Jed.” No longer superior, his tone was as level and firm as the look in his eyes. Jed was suddenly starkly aware, that disagreement on this, could mean the end of them travelling together.

Jed realised he had perhaps one last try to get his point across, “Our folks would hate this!” At the discomfort on Heyes's face, he thought he'd made an impact, but his friend's reply quickly squashed the brief hope.

“We're on our own. We can't be what our folks would have wanted, it just ain't possible. You're just bein stupid if you don't see that. A gang who needs us is the only way we'll avoid getting killed. We might even get rich. Why can't you just go along with me on this?” Heyes's voice was loud and heavy with frustration.

Jed turned away, an angry knot in his stomach. They were never going to agree over this. Heyes just didn't see that turning outlaw went against everything they'd ever been taught. He stomped towards his horse and mounted without any clear plan of what he was going to do. He just knew he needed to get away. He heard his friend call out as he rode away, but he simply kept going with his head down.

It was close to dusk when Jed finally stopped, both he and his horse far too tired to go any further. The sun was fully set by the time he was comfortable, the process of bedding down having taken longer than he was used to, now he was doing it by himself.

The darkness was only broken by the flickering fire, the crescent moon and the bright twinkling of the stars. Curry sat staring into the dancing flames, nursing a whiskey and faced the fact that he couldn't go back. Jed had gone along with most of what Heyes planned or suggested, for close to ten years, but now with the two year age gap almost meaningless, he wanted a more equal say. He doubted that would be possible, with the pattern so deeply set between them. The best chance he had of finding out what he really wanted,was to be away from his friend. The decision made, he finished his drink, laid down on his bedroll and closed his eyes. He knew he should probably keep a watch, but he was too exhausted to stay awake and was soon asleep, despite his unquiet mind.

He woke early, still tired, his sleep had been broken and restless. He turned to speak to empty space, forgetting for a moment that Heyes wasn't beside him. Jed packed up to head anywhere he wanted to go. Instead of happiness and anticipation at a new beginning, he felt uneasy as if something was missing. As he rode, trying to ignore the silence next to him, the feeling of loss only deepened. Jed hoped it'd fade as he grew more used to being alone, because he was sure following their own paths apart was the best decision.

XXX
Heyes camped near the river for three nights, hoping his friend would return once his temper had burnt itself out. It wasn't till the early afternoon of the fourth day that Heyes truly understood that Jed had left him. Even in the face of his angry hurt, he was completely certain that them splitting up was a mistake. However as he rode out, he accepted that Jed had made it clear by not returning, that he didn't feel the same way. Heyes wouldn't go searching, if that's what Jed expected, he hadn't done the leaving after all. The only thing left to do,was to pursue his idea,because despite Jed's rejection of it, he still believed it was the only route that made any sense.

Heyes rode into Buford and glanced round the town, his eyes finally resting on the brightly painted saloon down at the end of the main street. He tied his horse to the hitching point and walked towards it.

As he entered, Heyes took in the few drinkers spread sparsely through the small building. He placed his hat on the bar before running a hand through his dusty hair. He ordered two beers, turned away to study the clientele, while keeping one eye on the door. As two glasses were plonked in front of him, he turned back with a smile, nodding cheerfully at the barkeep as he asked, “You get busy?”

“We do, come evening, quite a rowdy crowd.”

“Ranch hands or other types? ” Heyes deliberately left the question vague, not sure of the response.

The man eyed him a little doubtfully, but answered him anyway. “Well they ain't always on the side of the angels, if that's what you're meanin', but they sure like to spend their money .”

“Sheriff pay 'em much mind?”

“He ain't bothered, less it gets too outta hand. “ The man's expression turned suspicious as he eyed the two glasses, “You thirsty son, or waiting on someone?”

Heyes glanced down a little blankly at the two beers on the bar and shook his head at himself, old habits were going to be hard to break. He smiled innocently at the man, before taking a long drink of one of the beers. He swallowed, enjoying the cool liquid as it slid down his throat and replied, “Just thirsty, trail dust sure makes my throat dry. Besides, I ain't in no rush to leave, seems like this is my kinda town.” The man smiled at that and the wariness faded from his expression. Heyes figured, from what the man had said, that this was as good a place as any, to see if he could persuade an outfit that he had skills they might need. He took another long sip of beer and settled down to wait.

XXX

Several weeks after leaving Heyes behind, Jed rode into Aspen Falls, feeling sad and a little desperate. He unmounted and looked round the town, spying the building he needed at the far end of the street.

His feet dragging, he headed towards it. He had avoided this, for as long as he reasonably could, the thought of selling such a good, even-tempered, easy to ride mount painful. But his money and supplies were practically gone, jobs were scarce to none existent, so he could see no other way to keep from starving or freezing to death in the oncoming winter.


“He's well looked after and his gear ain't too shabby.” Surprise was clear on his face as he looked away from the horse and took in Jed's dishevelled appearance.

Jed was insulted at his expression ,but made no comment, he needed the money too much to start an argument.

“I'll give you one hundred and fifty dollars for him and your gear.”

“He's worth more than that, you know it! Two hundred dollars and you'll almost be getting the gear free.” Jed's temper flared, the offer was nowhere near what he knew his horse was worth.

The man was unimpressed at his outburst and said calmly, “There's a depression on, son, ain't worth my while to go higher than one hundred and fifty. Take it or leave it. I'm the only place in town.”

Jed stared at him, let his anger drain away, as he recognised the man wouldn't budge. After a final lingering pat on the horse's head, he reluctantly took the money and walked back into the street, blinking in the suddenly bright sun. The money felt good in his pocket and despite knowing he'd got a raw deal, he was certain he'd done the right thing.

After buying some bullets and gun oil from the general store, he looked for somewhere to eat, eager for something that wasn't beans or burnt biscuit.

The small cafe at the opposite end of the main street from the livery, looked appealing. As he entered the worn but very clean building, his stomach rumbled and he found himself almost drooling at the smell of cooking. He took a small table near the door, ordered the special, with extra potatoes and apple pie. When the food came, he ate methodically, trying not to shovel it in, not wanting to seem too desperate.

The pretty waitress who served him was definitely interested in getting to know him better, despite his general untidiness. He caught her eye again and smiled hopefully, but to his disappointment, the place was soon busy and her attention was quickly drawn away.

Reluctant to leave the warmth and comfortable noise of the cafe, he lingered over a cup of coffee. Should he stay for a while, or head to a bigger town or even a city, where work might be easier to find?

Curry glanced up as a shadow came into his line of vision. Someone cleared their throat, waving at the chair opposite him in query. He nodded and added “It ain't taken,” before he returned to studying his rapidly emptying mug.

Jed removed his gaze from his coffee and looked up as the man sat down opposite him. He had several inches on Curry and was well-muscled. His clothes were a little worn, but he appeared well-groomed and his clothes weren't trail dusty. Curry figured he was probably a hand at one of the nearby sprawling ranches. He certainly looked like a man who'd spent much of his life labouring.

He favoured Curry with a friendly smile and his eyes were warm. He looked neither concerned or surprised by Jed's scrutiny and put his hand out, “William Carter, but most here just call me Will.”

Jed shook it a little warily, but offered his own name in reply. “Jedidiah, but I prefer Jed.”

Will took a sip of his own coffee and then waved the cup in Jed's direction as he said.

“I saw you at the livery. If you don't mind me saying, you seem a little down on your luck.“

Jed shrugged, embarrassed, but unable to deny it. His unshaven face, reddened eyes and dusty appearance, would have made a liar of him if he'd tried, even without the man knowing he'd just sold his horse.

“I ain't exactly over run with money, no, but I don't see...”

“I work out at the Running Rock Ranch. They're wanting more hands. The job pays fifteen dollars a month, with board. I thought with the depression, a young fella like you might be interested.”

Fifteen dollars was slightly higher than the usual rate and the idea of regular food and sleeping under a roof appealed, even if the thought of hard work didn't.

“Ain't scouting for hands usually the foreman's job?”

Will looked down as if suddenly deeply interested in the checked cloth covering the table. “It's best it ain't. Sam's a bit touched and can be real mean. He don't always make the best choices when hiring on. He can take against someone for no good reason, or get a liking for people who ain't exactly a best fit for the work. So it's agreed that his deputy, Jack does most of the setting on. Jack likes us older hands to keep an eye out, so he don't need to leave the ranch much.”

Curry wasn't sure whether he should consider the offer and wished Heyes was there, so they could talk the idea out and come to a joint decision. He quickly chased the thought away, annoyed that he still wasn't used to being in charge of his own life. Despite a strange prickly feeling that he recognised as sometimes warning him of trouble brewing, he found himself agreeing to go meet Jack and take the job if it were offered to him.

“The work ain't easy, but it's two squares and somewhere warm to sleep. We can go for a drink and talk it over, before we go see if Jack's interested.”

Jed looked round for the pretty waitress and saw she was still too busy to pay him much mind. Hungry for company, he accepted the offer, the nagging doubt in his mind fading to relief at the thought of possibly not freezing to death as winter drew in.

“Running Rock's huge and never short on money. Carlton Branning and his family have owned it since well before the war. They're always needing more help. Most of the boys are good workers and the food ain't half bad.”

Jed listened intently as Will filled him in over a beer in the quiet saloon. It sounded far more appealing than trying to make one hundred and sixty dollars stretch beyond a couple of weeks.

As they rode into the ranch, doubling up on Will's horse, a man came over to greet them. He looked at Jed dubiously as he clambered off the horse.

“The stables are over there. Why not go settle Diamond, while I speak to Jack?” Will waved at an extensive wood building at the far end of the square.

Jed did as he was told, taking the hint that they wanted to talk without him listening.

“I don't think he's right for the job, he ain't built for it.”

“C'mon Jack, he's half starved. You know this is all the work he's gonna get offered.”

“I don't think he'll manage it, Will. We ain't a charity, you know that.”

Jed's sharp ears caught the quiet conversation as he hurried back to the men, eager to know the outcome of their talk and his heart sank, wishing not for the first time, he'd taken after his Pa, rather than his Ma in size. Hiding his disappointment best he could, he called over his shoulder as he started to walk towards the drive that led to the road back into town.

“Thanks for the thought, Will, but seein' the answer's no, I best be getting on. Long walk into town.”

To his pleased surprise, Jack stopped him in his tracks before he'd got far, “Okay, son, you're on a week's trial.”

Jed turned, grinned and ran up to join the two men. Jack still didn't look totally convinced, but Curry knew he could easily change the man's mind given a few days.

At the end of the week, Jack called him over, just as he finished banging in the last repaired fence post on one of the small corrals.“Son, you're tougher than you look. Welcome to Running Rock.” He held out his hand which Curry shook gratefully, not bothering to hide his relief.
XXX
Curry was about finished cleaning the stables. He rubbed his sweaty forehead with an equally sweaty hand and straightened up despite every muscle protesting the movement. The smell of sweat and manure was up his nostrils and soaked into his clothes, but despite this, Jed felt some measure of pride in his work. He heard footsteps behind him and turned, expecting to see Will, but instead looked into the face of Sam Coleman.

“Well ain't you a young and pretty treasure, just the way I like 'em. We coulda been having a lot of fun. Shame on Jack, for hiding you boy.”

The coldness in his eyes, reminded Curry of a rattler about to strike and he couldn't quite suppress a shiver. His hand, by instinct, went for his gun, just as he remembered with an inward curse, the ranch rule that hands could only carry a weapon when working out on the wilder edges, where there was a risk of animal or bandit attacks.

“I ain't nobody's treasure, least of all yours and no-one's been hiding me.” The last part wasn't strictly true. Jed had been very aware that Will, Jack and some of the other long term hands had indeed been trying to keep him out of Sam's way.

Sam's expression broke into an unpleasant smile at both the words and gesture, his eyes swept over Curry in unmistakable appreciation. “I can think of better things than smart comments to occupy that mouth with, son.”

Curry backed away, brandishing his pitchfork in an attempt to ward off the attack, as Sam lunged. He easily yanked the tool out of Curry's sweat slick hands and threw it out of reach.

Curry caught up against the wall, kicked out, adding a flailing left hook. Somehow,both found their target, leaving Sam sprawled on the ground. Jed looked at the fallen man, unsure of what to do next, he heard voices outside, likely people coming to see what the commotion was. He didn't know if they were Sam's cronies and wasn't going to wait to find out. His heart pounding in his ears, he ran out of the stable. Racing over the uneven ground, he only stopped when he reached the outer boundary of the ranch.

Will found him there a couple of hours later.

“I think you oughta move on, before the weather hits, you know he ain't gonna let up.”

“I'm stayin', Will, ain't gonna let him force me out.” Jed had considered his options as he'd looked out over the ungoverned land beyond the fences. He'd never been one to duck trouble, besides with the scent of snow heavy in the air, he'd prefer to take a chance on Sam, then risk freezing to death.

Will looked unconvinced. “You sure son? He sure is spittin' feathers. You cracked him a good one. Sam don't take too kindly to being bested.”

Jed shrugged, frustrated, the unfairness of the situation stuck in his craw. “You sayin' I shoulda' just let him do whatever he were planning?” He brushed a hand angrily through his hair.

Will sighed, “No I ain't sayin' that son, just givin' some warnin' that you sure bought yourself a whole heap of trouble.”

Jed stood, brushing his clothes, stiff from sitting so long and met Will's gaze. “I don't get why he's kept on. It ain't like he couldn't be easily replaced. Jack does most of his job anyways.”

Will handed him his hat and sighed, Jed knew from both his face and tone, that it was an explanation he'd given many times.

“Sam saved Mr Branning's life, when they were fighting together. So he and the family feel they owe him. Nothin' anyone tells them convinces 'em to let him go.”

Jed lapsed into silence, having nothing useful to say to that. He and Will walked back to the bunkhouse without speaking. Will had obviously accepted he wouldn't budge, although the anxious glances he was throwing in Jed's direction as they walked, made it clear he really wished that weren't the case.

A storm came through during the night, shaking the bunkhouse, piling enough snow onto the road into town, ranch land and surrounding area, that it meant the hands wouldn't get much done outside until it melted.

As they sat eating breakfast, Will nodded over at Jed, “Looks like you made the right choice, you'd have frozen last night.” Will still looked concerned , but appeared to have accepted that Curry was staying.

After he finished his meal, Jed headed out to look for Jack. He found in him his office, looking over some papers.

Hovering at the door, his eyes drifted to the safe in the far corner, “I'd like my gun, just to get some practise in. Ain't like I can do much else with the weather an' all.”

“You looking for trouble, son?” Jack didn't look surprised at the request, only slightly troubled. Curry guessed he'd heard about what had happened.

Jed shook his head, understanding, if not exactly appreciating the question. “Mostly, just trying to avoid it.”

Jack seemed to accept that and taking the heavy keys from his belt unlocked the safe. He briefly hesitated as if about to speak, before he handed over the weapon. Jed quickly fastened the gun to his waist and immediately felt happier at the weight on his hip.

As Jed turned to walk away, Jack said, “Son, if he were anyone else, Sam would be long gone. But them at the big house won't hear nothing agin him. I don't want you rilin' him none, it won't help any of us.”

Curry stopped, his thumbs resting on his belt, a little tired of everyone warning him to stay out of trouble, as if he actually had a choice, but he knew his boss meant well, “Jack, you know it ain't me doing the riling, but I'll be sure to try keep outta his way.”

He tipped his hat and headed out to find something to shoot at, and a safe place to do so. The incident with Sam had left him feeling a bit vulnerable and had only underlined the importance of avoiding such situations. Being fast and accurate with a pistol, might not be important here and now, but he was pretty sure it'd help prevent him getting into that kind of trouble too often and keep him safer in the long run.

“Jack said it's fine I practise, but I need somethin' to fire at.”

The cook stared at him, shaking his head in mock resignation,“ One day that smile of yours ain't goin to work, but as I'm a natural born sucker, you can use them, just don't go hitting anything you ain't aiming at.” He waved over to the door at a pile of cans and bottles waiting to be thrown out.

XXX

Curry was carefully putting up another row of targets on the fence when he heard a unwelcome voice.

“Well, for a pretty boy, with a smart mouth, you ain't bad with a gun.”

He swirled round, Sam and a group of his hangers on were watching, carefully spaced to block any chance of him getting past. Jed had been so intent on his task he'd not heard them come up. They were all armed, in direct disregard of the ranch rule, but as Will had warned, Sam was pretty much free to do what he wanted. Although most already had their guns out, Jed still made a move for his own, but one of men fired at his feet, forcing him to take an involuntary step back.

Another man, Mick, Jed thought his name was, gestured at him, his lip curling in cruel amusement. “Now, we ain't of a mind to kill you, just want to teach you a little lesson. So toss your gun, slowly now” Jed reluctantly complied, unwilling to risk getting shot.

He briefly shut his eyes, then stepped forward to meet whatever was coming. He fought hard, landing a few telling blows, before the sheer number of attackers overwhelmed his resistance and a heavy knee to his groin left him sprawled full length on the snowy ground.

As he lay battered and aching, his head spinning, Sam leaned over him. Jed bit down hard on his bottom lip, determined not to make a sound, but as Sam's feet deliberately found the most painful spots, a low moan escaped him. He glared up into his tormentor's face, before the pain became too much, and he had to close his eyes tightly to prevent himself from passing out or throwing up.

Sam's voice came as if from a great distance. “You're pretty spirited son, but that'll make the breakin' all the more fun. He patted Curry's face in a parody of affection, then gave his side a final kick. Curry unable to move, his face burning with both humiliation and anger, could only watch through half closed eye as the men walked away, laughing loudly.


He wasn't sure how long he lay there, but long enough that the damp had soaked through his clothing, into his skin, adding further discomfort to his already aching back. Eventually after several failed attempts, Jed eventually struggled onto all floors, crawling to the fence, using it to help pull himself to his feet. Once he was standing, he bent to pick up his gun, fighting the agony that shot through him and then unsteadily finished putting up the bottles.


Despite the rolling waves of pain, he managed to correct his aim enough after each missed shot, that he was soon hitting most of what he aimed at. With each satisfying crash of breaking glass or metallic ping, he imagined it was Sam or one of his walk-off friends. Nausea finally overwhelmed him and he retched, doubled over in pain, until he was dry heaving. His body ached, his head was spinning and sweat dripped down his face. As blackness tugged at the edge of his vision, he finally accepted he'd pushed himself as far as he could. Waiting until he was sure he wasn't going to pass out, he carefully straightened up. With both arms protectively wrapped round his stomach, he headed slowly to the bunkhouse, relieved when he finally made it, breathless and dizzy, that the building was empty.

He lay gratefully down on his bunk and closed his eyes against the spinning world. He found the least uncomfortable position he could and was soon asleep, too exhausted for the pain to keep him awake. He only woke when some of the others returned. He stayed flat on his bunk, grateful for the dim light. There was a general clattering, fading into silence as the men headed out again.

“Heya, Jed, you comin' for some chow?”

Curry clamped a hand over his mouth as nausea swept over him at the thought of moving, let alone eating, it took a few moments before he was able to speak.

“Nah, the cook took pity on me not so long ago.”

“You sure can charm 'em, son.“ Jed was grateful that it was Gabe, good-tempered, easy-going and never one to notice much. Footsteps headed out, then stopped, “Before I forget, Will told me he'll be back in the mornin'. Think he's got Emily type business keepin' him in town.”

Jed snorted and said a little breathlessly at the sharp pain in his chest. “Yeah, Will's always talking about his Sweet Emily.”

He expected to hear the footsteps resume and fade, but was disconcerted to hear them come towards him. “You don't sound so good, Jed.”





XXX

Philadelphia was somewhere that the Curry family had often talked of visiting. Grandpa Curry had some relatives who'd settled in the city, who exactly, Jed hadn't paid much mind to, but the name had stayed with him.

Curry knew as soon as he got off the train into the noisy station that he'd find it hard here. The noise of too many people set his nerves on the edge, and as he exited onto the street, the dust seemed to choke him and a heavy knot settled into his stomach.

“Hey, fella, you're in my way. Ain't smart standing in the middle of the street like that. “

Each morning in his flea-ridden rooming house, aware of everyone around him doing the same thing, he scoured the help wanted section of whatever newspaper was available, more than willing to take anything that meant money in his pocket.

Early one morning, with the city still mostly asleep, he ran through a rainstorm, hoping to secure one of the dock jobs he'd found in The Ledger.

“You got any experience, son?”

Jed had never seen a dock, until he'd arrived in Philadelphia, but thought he could figure out what was needed to unload and stack smelly, heavy crates, “I can lift, carry and know when to duck.”

The man's face split into a smile, “Well son, that'll do.”

The work was back breaking and crushingly dull, but at the end of the day, the pay, made the aches just about bearable. He headed back to the rooming house and was very aware that someone was following him. He felt a hand touch his pocket and grabbed it hard, eliciting a squeak from its owner. He turned to look at the potential thief and was surprised to see a girl, two maybe even three years younger than him. He nearly released the hand in shock, but quickly recovered, managed to keep his hold. She was covered in grime and her clothes were much too large. She had bright brown eyes and probably a pretty smile, but she was angrily glaring at him, so it was hard to tell.


XXX

After a successful bank job, their first major one, since Santana had been caught and Heyes had taken over, the gang had been itching to spend some of their plentiful funds. Heyes had, despite resistance, insisted on a week at The Hole, before he agreed to let them loose.

When Heyes had given them the go ahead to leave, the rest of the gang had headed for the rowdy mining settlement of Copper Hollow, but feeling the need for a break, Heyes had chosen to spend time in Rattlerbank, the quieter of the two outlaw friendly towns in easy riding of Devil's Hole. The idea of some Kyle and Wheat free days, with plentiful alcohol, poker playing and women, sounded like a kind of Eden. Heyes enjoyed his new leadership, but the ongoing battle to keep the boys in line, plus the planning that had been needed for the job, had left him wanting some time to relax.

Heyes sauntered into the small saloon, money satisfyingly heavy in his pocket, his eyes swept round, finding nothing of either concern or interest until his eyes fell on a man sitting sideways at the bar. Heyes drew in a deep breath as he recognised him almost instantly. The man apparently aware of the scrutiny met his gaze and time seemed to freeze for a moment, before he turned away, without even a smile of recognition.

Heyes was irritated at the lack of response, the man had known exactly who he was, that much he was sure of. Determined not to be ignored, he almost marched up to the bar, taking the space next to the man. He ordered a drink and took a sip, and at the continued lack of response said drily, “You just gonna pretend you don't know me?”

Jed looked up, his face giving nothing away and shrugged. “I was intendin' to, but seems like you have other ideas. “ He said nothing else, only gazed at his beer in deliberate silence.

Heyes studied his friend, noting his shabby and dusty clothing. He looked down at the gun tied to his right leg. The holster and belt were both well worn and had been frequently repaired, rarely professionally, judging by the untidy (although effective) stitching, but from what he could see of it, the gun looked expensive. Heyes looked back up, leaning forward to better see his cousin's face.

He was shocked at what he saw. Under his eyes, there were dark shadows and as Heyes squinted, he noticed bruising scattered over his cheekbones and chin. His right hand, which rested near his weapon,was covered with cuts and more heavy bruising. His left, curled round his beer, was similarly damaged. The color suggested they were a few days old, but were likely still sore. Heyes easily recognised the signs of exhaustion, pain and near collapse, but only because even after their years apart, he knew what to look for.

The scrutiny drew his old friend into speaking, “Stop it, Heyes, you looking at me like that is making me nervous. I don't take kindly to bein' nervous.” There was more weariness than anger in his voice and Heyes risked leaning in, to speak softly in his ear.

“I'm just thinkin', maybe we oughta leave, before you fall off that chair and get a mite more friendly with the floor, than you'd like.”

Curry humphed, but didn't pull away, replying quietly, “I ain't goin' to pass out and give these boys a show, don't you worry.”

Heyes snorted before responding, hesitating for a moment, unsure what to call him, but settled on the name he figured his friend was now probably more comfortable with, “Kid, you might as well give it up. You forget I know you.”

Heyes moved back, but not before he caught a brief flash of sadness, quickly masked, cross the Kid's shuttered expression.

“I've changed, gotten used to makin' my own decisions, so don't be expectin' me to follow or listen to you as easily as I did.”

Heyes was startled into quiet laughter, “Kid, as I recall, you never made anything easy. How do you think I got so good at persuadin'?” He was rewarded with a slight upturn of Curry's lips and a vaguely amused shrug.

“I always figured you was just born that way. ”

“Well, even with my natural talent, getting this good, still took practise. I sure got it around you.”

“Not exactly my recollection,” the Kid didn't quite smile, but there was a definite thaw in his expression.

Heyes responded to the hint of warmth, with a grin and clapped Curry gently on the shoulder, leaving his hand lightly resting on his back. “So, what do you say? We rest some and then get caught up?”

Heyes feared he'd taken too much for granted, when Curry's face froze. Heyes felt his muscles clench under his arm. Disappointment swept through him and he started to pull away. However after a moment,Curry relaxed into the light grip and even flashed a weak version of the once familiar warm grin.

“I'd sure be interested in knowin' what you been up to. Seems to suit you, you're looking well.”

“Well, if it ain't the great Kid Curry. Didn't expect to see someone so famous out here.”

Curry tensed, yanked himself away from Heyes and swirled round, standing quickly to face the owner of the voice. Heyes noticed him grab the bar to steady himself as he did so and saw discomfort, quickly suppressed cross his face, but doubted anyone else, least of all the idiot at the door, had noticed. A man, although as Heyes eyed him critically, boy might be a more fitting description, was standing, his arms resting at his sides. There was a sudden sharp rise in tension as people took in what was happening.

Curry indicating the beer on the bar, his eyes cold, said, “ Don't seem right to disturb these good folk, when all we're doing is enjoying a drink.”

Heyes was impressed with the steadiness of Curry's voice, as standing so close, he could see the small tremors in his body and wondered just how much pain he was in.

“Well, maybe, I want to see if you're really as good as they say.”

Heyes blinked at the speed that the gun was in the Kid's hand, “I mostly hit what I aim at. As I'm feelin' a little tired, I ain't exactly sure that I can stop my finger getting twitchy.” His voice was calm, but with enough edge, that there was an almost collective intake of breath.

Suddenly aware that he might have made a mistake, the youngster tried to smile. Curry simply continued to stare at him, his gun steady. The uneven battle of wills ended, when the potential opponent, his face red with embarrassment, turned and almost fled out through the door.

The atmosphere broke, as the other customers realising the crisis was over, started breathing again.

“I'm sorry, Mr Curry, Karl ain't got much sense. Next drinks on the house.”

Curry twirled his gun back into his holster and turned to the barman, shaking his head,

“Ain't thirsty no more, but thanks for the offer. Maybe tomorrow?” The barman nodded nervously in agreement.

The Kid, finished his drink in a single gulp and threw some coins on the bar, before he headed out to the door.

Heyes quickly followed, he was both impressed and shaken by the display. It was clear his friend was more than a little dangerous, but given that he'd avoided a potentially fatal (for the other man,at least) gunfight. Heyes was sure that he could find his friend, however deeply hidden he might be, behind this familiar stranger. He hoped a little time, sleep, alcohol and his silver tongue would prove the right combination to do so. He knew the bright future they'd always hoped for was in reach. All that was left, was to convince Curry.

Curry was leaning heavily against the saloon wall, the tremors that Heyes had noticed, now more pronounced. He looked up into Heyes's eyes, his expression resigned, “Guess I'd better be ridin' on. That damn fool might come back with some friends. I ain't exactly certain I could shoot straight enough not to kill, but I'm sure not goin' to take another beatin'.”

With more confidence than he actually felt, Heyes said airily “I doubt he'll be back, think you scared him plenty. Don't see no reason to change our plans. Besides, you're not in a state to be goin' anywhere but bed. You got a room?”

Curry shook his head and then their attention was caught by a motley collection of young men walking towards them. The Kid muttered under his breath and started to push himself away from the wall, but Heyes put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “ Let me handle this.”

Curry looked prepared to argue, but then nodded wearily and rested back against the building. Heyes thought he looked about at the end of his rope.

With another light pat, Heyes turned to face the small group, walking out to meet them, he stood at an angle, trying to shield Curry and addressed them calmly.

“Look, I think we've all had more than enough excitement. I bet you boys have heard of The Devil's Hole Gang. Well they're good pals of ours and won't take kindly to you makin' trouble for us. Just in case you're wonderin', the name's Hannibal Heyes.” He smiled brightly at them, but rested his hand on his gun.

Karl's face flickered and he turned back to his friends. The small group looked nervously at each other, then back at Heyes. After a brief pause, they all turned to slowly walk away, trying to make their departure appear less than a retreat.

Heyes huffed in relief and turned back to Curry, who was bent over, clutching his stomach. Heyes ran towards him, but stayed an arms length away, as Curry used the hand not holding his stomach to wave him off. Curry took a few deep painful breaths. Heyes wasn't sure he'd win the battle to stay conscious, but Curry eventually looked up, his face pale and sweaty, an unnatural flush tinging his cheeks. “Just moved a bit fast.”

“U-huh, just how many bruises you covered in, Kid?”

“They don't reach my toes” he paused then added, “not quite, anyways.”



















_________________
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Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
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rachel_74_1

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PostSubject: Gah a plot bunny hopped into view then hopped over again!   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeWed Dec 30, 2020 5:33 am

Hannibal Heyes and Jed 'Kid' Curry given amnesty as Governor Warren heads to Washington

Last night at a glittering farewell banquet, Governor F Warren unveiled the fact he had awarded the two once notorious outlaws full amnesty.  

Governor Warren used the occasion to highlight the success of the scheme. He disclosed that the two former leaders of The Devil's Hole Gang had been offered amnesty close to ten years prior and had not committed a single robbery since.  

The men themselves were also present, looking less like the daring outlaws they once were and more like two rabbits facing a rattler. It appears even the most successful of outlaws are no match for the denizens of Wyoming's high society parties. (Continued on Page 3.)


XXX

Heyes read the article while he breakfasted alone. His partner was still sleeping off the effects of last night. Heyes had stuck to whiskey, but he'd seen Curry often with a glass of a rather red liquid that he'd heard called 'Raspberry Grain Punch.' Heyes had on more than one occasion tried to warn his friend that it probably wasn't as harmless as it tasted, but with little success because Curry's rattled nerves had meant he'd not been listening to much of anything-especially not Heyes.

Sometime after midnight Heyes had been concerned when he'd lost sight of his partner. The concern had shifted to huge amusement when after a furtive search he'd found him fast asleep in a dark corner of the huge room. He was covered with a blanket, so obviously one of the other attendees had taken pity on him. Not that Heyes had been particularly surprised. The well-heeled matrons had seemed ready to either adopt them or eat them. The Kid, though close to forty could still pass for barely thirty and to his embarrassment had attracted more motherly attention than he was exactly comfortable with. It'd taken Heyes at least ten minutes to rouse his partner and get him upright enough to make their apologies and leave. Curry had spent a good deal of the early morning throwing up in the chamber pot before finally falling asleep at almost 6am.




_________________
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Samuel Johnson

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeWed Dec 30, 2020 7:11 am

Love this, Rachel! Ten years is a long time and I bet they didn't look like leaders of the DHG. Great how you started with the newspaper article and then showed Heyes reading it. Poor Kid! Those sweeter drinks get you every time.

I just realized I missed your August longer part - sorry! I hope to read it through during my 30 minute lunch.

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeWed Dec 30, 2020 7:58 am

Penski wrote:
Love this, Rachel!  Ten years is a long time and I bet they didn't look like leaders of the DHG.  Great how you started with the newspaper article and then showed Heyes reading it.  Poor Kid!  Those sweeter drinks get you every time.

I just realized I missed your August longer part - sorry!  I hope to read it through during my 30 minute lunch.

The August part is only what you betaed and I posted in September. Thanks for the comments. I am struggling a little as to where to go next with the new one. I had intended it for a monthly challenge on another forum but didn't get it done in time.

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeWed Dec 30, 2020 1:02 pm

Hi Rachel,

Here's some things to ponder to help move this story along:

  • What have they been doing for the 10 years waiting for amnesty?  Still moving around?
  • Do they know what they want to do after amnesty?  With amnesty, now what?
  • Does Kid Curry, who's disappeared for 10 years, still considered the fastest gun?  Maybe some guy named Thaddeus Jones now has that reputation.  Very Happy
  • Do you see them staying together?
  • Do you see them with families?  As much as the Kid might want a family, if he's still considered fast, he'd have to be concern of a gunman coming after him to get the title.

Hope this pondering helps get the bunnies hopping.  I'll be happy to brainstorm more.

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeWed Dec 30, 2020 2:35 pm

I can answer the staying together question. Lol. Kind of got some ideas about what they did forcten years. Will ponder the others.

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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeThu Dec 31, 2020 1:43 am

Hannibal Heyes and Jed 'Kid' Curry given amnesty as Governor Warren heads to Washington


Last night at a glittering farewell banquet, Governor F Warren unveiled the fact he had awarded the two once notorious outlaws full amnesty.

Governor Warren used the occasion to highlight the success of the scheme. He disclosed that the two former leaders of The Devil's Hole Gang had been offered amnesty close to ten years prior and had not committed a single robbery since.

The men themselves were also present, looking less like the daring criminals they once were and more like two rabbits facing a rattler. It appears even the most successful of outlaws are no match for the denizens of Wyoming's high society parties. (Continued on Page 3.)


XXX

Heyes read the article while he breakfasted alone. His partner was still sleeping off the effects of last night. Heyes had stuck to whiskey, but he'd seen Curry often with a glass of a rather red liquid that he'd heard called 'Raspberry Grain Punch.' Heyes had on more than one occasion tried to warn his friend that it probably wasn't as harmless as it tasted, but with little success because Curry's rattled nerves had meant he'd not been listening to much of anything-especially not Heyes.

Sometime after midnight Heyes had been concerned when he'd lost sight of his partner. The concern had shifted to huge amusement when after a furtive search he'd found him fast asleep in a dark corner of the huge room. He was covered with a blanket, so obviously one of the other attendees had taken pity on him. Not that Heyes had been particularly surprised. The well-heeled matrons had seemed ready to either adopt them or eat them. The Kid, though close to forty could still pass for barely thirty and to his embarrassment had attracted more motherly attention than he was exactly comfortable with. It'd taken Heyes at least ten minutes to rouse his partner and get him upright enough to make their apologies and leave. Curry had spent a good deal of the early morning throwing up in the chamber pot before finally falling asleep at almost 6am.

Heyes' already leisurely breakfast was made even longer by the number of people who'd come up to congratulate him. Most of his visitors had also wanted him to sign one of the many popular dime novels featuring him and Kid in a series of unlikely but thrilling adventures or sometimes even one of the weeklies that shorter illustrated versions of the same stories had appeared in. Heyes thought that those tall tales had probably been more responsible for them getting amnesty then anything he and his partner had done or rather not done in the past decade.

When Heyes eventually got back to their room, Curry was still fast asleep and showing no signs of waking. Heyes made as much noise as he could while moving round the room and his efforts were soon rewarded when with a whimpering groan his partner surfaced. “What the hell was in that stuff? Arsenic? I know, I know, you warned me.”

Heyes studied his friend. He looked awful with reddened eyes, grey complexion tinged with yellow and a hangdog expression. Heyes couldn't help but laugh at the pitiful sight. ”If it was, after last night least you can get buried under your own name.”

Curry glared at him with a weak attempt at his gunslinger glare before saying.” I ain't above shootin' you.” He groaned and added. “Just before I shoot myself.” He looked about to say something else before he went even paler and lunged for the bed pan. Luckily Heyes had emptied it before going for breakfast. Hanging onto it tightly he was sick again. Although with little food left in his stomach he brought up mostly yellow liquid. After a few minutes when he finally stopped retching he sank back onto the bed with a pained moan, looking exhausted still holding onto the chamber pot.

Heyes despite himself was unable to hold onto his amusement and instead found himself suddenly sympathetic. He gently removed the dirty pot from the Kid's hands. “You'll feel better in a few hours, Kid. Go back to sleep.”

Curry with the slightest of nods and no other response, which was a clear indication of just  how ill he was feeling, closed his eyes and was back asleep in minutes. Heyes set the dirty pan near the door and placed a clean basin by the bed then exited the room quietly.

He ran into Lom who had been in town to attend the reception, at the mercantile near their hotel. They exchanged a smile before Lom looked behind him, obviously searching for the Kid. “Doubt, Kid will surface much before this evening, Lom.”

“Think he'll be ready to eat? I booked us a table at that high end restaurant near the station. My treat for you boys.”

_________________
The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.
Samuel Johnson

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Carl Sagan


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PostSubject: Re: My work in progress.   My work in progress. Icon_minitimeThu Dec 31, 2020 7:02 am

Keep going... It's sounding really good! Poor Kid!

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