Alias Smith and Jones Writers
A forum devoted to writers of Alias Smith and Jones Fan Fiction
November 2012 - Democratic Process
Posts : 760
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 56
Location : Birmingham
|Subject: November 2012 - Democratic Process Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:11 am|| |
Time to batten down the hatches, retreat from the storm(s), throw another log on the fire, polish off the last of the trick or treat chocolate ...[Hang on. Gulp. Gobble. Hic. Burp. Done!] ...
During these cold, rainy, dreary November days, what could be more satisfying than sharpening your pencil and dashing off a challenge story for the delectation of your online friends???
What? A hot bubblebath with an ex-outlaw...?
Okay. That could be more satisfying - but it ain't on offer. So take the pencil and make nice! Goddit?
And not TOO easy - 'cos you're all too dang clever for easy - your topic is...
(Yes of course you can think of a story! Have another chocolate bar and let the brain cells meander!)
Posts : 441
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 59
Location : London, England
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:36 pm|| |
By Maz McCoy
“What do you mean, no?” Kid stared at Heyes.
“I mean, no.” Heyes polished the apple he was holding, on his vest.
“You can’t do that. We had a vote. We had…What did you call it? A democratic process. We voted and you lost.”
“We might have voted but there was an error in the count.”
“An error in the count?” Kid mimicked. “What the heck are you talkin’ about?”
“The number of votes for and against was counted incorrectly.”
“How the heck can it have been counted incorrectly? There’s only five of us! Sheesh even Kyle can count to five!”
Kyle nodded his agreement as the rest of the gang listened intently to the partner’s exchange.
“But there are six votes,” Heyes stated.
“Six votes?” Kid repeated and Heyes nodded, patiently. “How the heck can there be six votes when there are only five people in the room?”
“You forget that as leader I have the deciding vote, which means that if the vote was tied and therefore an even number I could have another vote to make the final decision.” He waited for this information to sink in. In Kyle’s case it floated way above his head. Kid’s eyes narrowed, suspiciously. Heyes realised he would need to clarify his point. “We voted and the count was three against and two in favour. However as I have two votes I used my second vote to vote in favour, thereby causing a tie.”
“Wait a minute, you only have an extra vote if there’s a tie.”
“But there is a tie.”
“Only because you had two votes!”
“What do you mean exactly! You can only have two votes if there’s a tie.”
“But there was a tie, Kid.”
“Shut up Kyle!” Kid bellowed.
Kyle shut up.
Kid glared at Heyes. “You only get a second vote if there is a tie when we vote. There wasn’t a tie, so you don’t get a second vote.”
“Well, that doesn’t seem fair.” Heyes turned to the bemused members of the Devil’s Hole Gang. “Does that seem fair to you boys? That the number of times I can vote changes?” The boys were confused but when Heyes put it like that it didn’t seem fair. They dutifully shook their heads. Heyes smiled sweetly at Kid. “See they don’t think it’s fair.”
“That’s ‘cos they haven’t got a darn clue what you’re talkin’ about!”
“I don’t think you want to insult them, Kid.”
Kid looked at the faces of the men around him. They didn’t look as if they’d just been insulted. In fact there didn’t seem to be many thoughts passing through any of their brains. Kid leaned in closer to his friend, lowering his voice so that only Heyes could hear. “I know what you’re doing, Heyes. You’re tryin’ to win this by confusing the heck out of ‘em, but the fact is you lost. So we are not, I repeat not, going to do it!”
Heyes smiled and stood up. “All right, Kid.” He rubbed the apple on his vest once more. “If you want to turn your back on the years of struggle this country went through to create a democratic process, then so be it; we’ll do it your way. Just don’t complain when I turn round later and say I told you so.” Finally, he bit into the apple.
Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
Posts : 1622
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 60
Location : Northern California
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:39 am|| |
The Devil’s Hole gang, led by Jim Santana, reached their destination of their next job and the men quickly went to their assigned places as they waited for the train. Curry and Jefferson hid closest to the tracks, where the train would slow down going up an incline.
Soon the train was heard approaching. As it slowed, Curry and Jefferson jumped onto the train and made their way forward. When they got to the front, Jefferson motioned and they jumped down simultaneously into the engine with guns drawn, surprising the engineer and brakeman.
“Need you to stop this train as soon as you can, gentlemen, and no one will get hurt,” Jefferson said as he brandished his gun.
The brakeman complied and brought the train to a slow stop.
The Devil’s Hole gang came out of hiding and quickly went to work getting the passengers off the train and to safety. Kid and Jefferson motioned for the engineer and brakeman to join the passengers and they went to their next assigned jobs.
Kid Curry looked around and noted where Big Jim Santana was so he could keep an eye on him as Heyes requested. Fuller, selected by Santana to watch his back, was nearby with his gun drawn and ready.
Heyes, Santana, and Kyle went to the mail car where the safe was located. Heyes shot the lock off the door and they entered. Looking at the safe, Heyes made a quick judgment call. “Kyle, get the dynamite ready. We don’t have enough time for me to open it.” Heyes helped Kyle with setting up the explosives while Big Jim left to make sure the operation was going smoothly and to plan. Jim looked at his pocket watch; the time was still in their favor since the train would not be due in town for another ten minutes.
With the dynamite ready, Heyes and Kyle jumped from the car and lit the fuse. “Fire in the hole!” Heyes yelled out so all knew to expect the explosion and seek cover. When the safe blew open, Heyes and Santana jumped into the car and began to empty the safe of the $40,000 into the bags they each held.
Adams, the assigned lookout, discharged two rapid shots in the air, the signal that trouble was coming. Heyes and Big Jim looked at each other. Sheriff Pierce was arriving sooner than they expected. They quickly finished their job and jumped out of the car heading for their horses, both with half the money. “Let’s go!” shouted Big Jim; however, the men heard the shots and were already reacting as had been planned.
As the posse became visible at the top of the ridge, the Devil’s Hole Gang was riding off with Big Jim and Heyes riding next to each other in the middle. Big Jim’s horse’s leg went into a gopher hole and fell to the ground. Instead of being behind Santana to help him, Fuller was in front of the gang.
Heyes saw out of the corner of his eye Big Jim’s fall and began to slow down. “NO! Jim!”
Curry rode just behind Heyes and Big Jim. He immediately turned to help Big Jim. “I got him. Keep going!”
Heyes nodded and continued.
As Curry turned, he saw the posse closing in on them. He pulled out his gun and fired at them to discourage them, but they fired back. The posse closed in so Curry had to abandon his attempt to help the leader. To avoid being captured himself, he veered off into a woods away from the gang. His tactic worked and no one came after him.
Once he was sure he was out of sight, he dismounted and tied his horse to a branch. He crept back to see if he could somehow rescue Big Jim. Instead, he witnessed the capture of Big Jim Santana. The posse of eight surrounded the leader with their guns drawn. “Has to be eight of ‘em,” he grumbled under his breath. They were close enough to the trees that Kid could hear what was happening.
“Well, imagine that, we got us the leader, Big Jim Santana, boys!” Sheriff Pierce boasted. “And I’m betting the money is in this bag of his. No sense going after the others with us having the leader and money.”
“And you would not have me if it was not for the hole my horse unfortunately stepped in,” Santana said in anger as he pushed himself off after throwing down his gun.
A posse member dismounted to pick up the gun and punched Big Jim in the jaw. “That’ll put ya in your place, ya dang outlaw!”
“Now, Gus, no need to get physical,” Sheriff Pierce said as he got down and checked Santana’s horse. “Damn, he broke his leg.” Pulling out his gun, he put the horse out of its misery. “Joe and Jack, need you to ride double. Santana will have to ride one of your horses.”
Pierce opened the bag tied to the saddle. “Yep, here’s the money. Not sure how much was on that train, but there appears to be enough here. Did you have all the money, Santana?”
“Of course, I am the leader!” he said boastfully so the posse would leave the rest of the gang alone.
Santana was mounted on a horse and tied with his hands to the saddle horn. Sheriff Pierce took the reins and led the horse behind him.
“Damn.” Kid went back and led his horse through the trees away from the posse. He mounted and went another way to catch up with the gang. A couple hours later, he met up with them by a creek where they were watering their horses.
Heyes looked at the Kid with concern. “Did he…”
The Kid nodded. “I tried firin’ to hold them off, but they just fired back. They were too close. Sorry.”
“But they didn’t…”
“No, he was taken alive. They were treatin’ him okay, considerin’. Sheriff asked if that was all the money and Santana said it was so they won’t be comin’ for the rest of us. Seemed happy with Santana and the loot.” Curry dismounted and led his horse to the water.
“Did Big Jim have all the money?” asked Jefferson.
“No, I have some of it.” A moment later, Heyes scowled and shook his head. “Can’t believe you’re thinking about the money when our leader just got captured.”
Jefferson shrugged. “Been in enough gangs…leaders come and leaders go. Santana said it was risky and I guess it was…for him. When do we get our share?”
“When we’re back safe in Devil’s Hole,” Heyes said, irritated. More quietly, to himself, “I can’t believe he’s gone. Don’t know if I’m ready to lead on my own…”
“So now what?” asked Wheat.
“We go back the Devil’s Hole as usual. With no stopping to hurrah since there’s nothing to celebrate.” Heyes mounted his mare. “Let’s go.”
“Who made you the boss?” Wheat grumbled under his breath.
When they returned to the hideout, Heyes divided the money with Wheat and Jefferson watching. When the others returned to the bunkhouse, Heyes poured himself a glass of brandy and looked around the leader’s cabin he had shared with Santana. He remembered the great discussions they had about several books. The thrill of planning a job’s every detail and watching it happen as planned. The glass of brandy and cigar in the evening watching the sun set as the moon had its presence. “Gonna miss you, Jim.” He gulped down the rest of the drink and poured another.
Curry knocked on the door and called out, “Heyes, it’s me. Can I come in?”
Heyes opened the door and invited him in.
“I’m really sorry about Big Jim. Are you okay?”
Nodding, Heyes replied, “I will be. Just a shock.”
“You asked me to keep an eye on him. I should have…”
“No, you did what you could. Fuller was assigned to watch over him. If he had been behind him instead of in front, he might have saved him.” Heyes hit the wall with a fist. “Dammit, I told Jim to use you instead of Fuller!”
“Why didn’t he?”
“You were new. He didn’t trust you.”
Kid shrugged. “Guess that makes sense. Now you’re the leader.”
“Yep.” Heyes poured a glass for Curry and handed it to him. They clicked glasses. “Here’s to a new beginning.”
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
The next morning, Heyes went to the bunkhouse where he noticed the very subdued mood. He poured a cup of coffee. “Okay, so Big Jim is gone. We’ll be fine without him. I know how he planned out jobs. Helped him with much of it.”
“What makes you think you’re the leader?” asked Wheat.
“Yeah…” Jefferson added, “You’re awful young to be leadin’ the rest of us.”
“I was Big Jim’s right hand. I’ve been leading you, too.”
“Pffttt… Right hand,” Wheat scoffed.
Heyes took a deep breath and, ignoring the comment, sat at the table. “Okay, if not me, then who?” he asked with a note of authority, not expecting anyone to come forward.
“Me!” Jefferson sat across from Heyes and gave his best intimidating glare, disappointed when the young man did not seem bothered.
“And me, too,” Wheat said with a sniff.
“Anybody else?” Heyes looked around the room. “How about a contest?”
“A contest?” Jefferson sneered.
“Yeah, all three of us will plan a job. We’ll see which one goes the smoothest and brings in the most money.” Heyes paused. “The rest of you are okay with that, right? Afterward, you can decide who’ll be leader.”
The rest of the gang gave nods and verbally agreed with the plan.
“Wheat? Jefferson?” Heyes asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” answered Wheat.
“Sounds fair enough,” Jefferson replied.
“Okay, may the best man win.” Heyes stood up to leave.
Curry grinned with pride at his cousin.
Jefferson stood up and blocked the door. “Hey, where do you think you’re goin’?”
“Back to my cabin.”
“YOUR cabin? That’s the LEADER’s cabin and you ain’t the leader,” Jefferson challenged. “There’s an empty bunk in here. You can be one of us and we’ll see who gets to move into the leader’s cabin.”
Heyes looked around the room. Most of the men appeared to be agreeing with Jefferson.
“That’s right.” Wheat put in his two cents. “You ain’t no better than the rest of us. You can stay here.”
“All right,” Heyes agreed. “I’ll go get my belongings.”
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Heyes moved back into the bunkhouse and immediately began planning his next job, the one that would earn him the role of leader. He took long walks, planning the job away from the others. Coming back from a hike, he saw Kid Curry sitting on a log near the leader’s cabin, twirling his gun. He went over and sat beside him.
“Kid, I have to ask you something.”
“I need someone to tell my plans to—someone who’ll tell me what’ll work and what won’t. Who’ll be honest with me and not just tell me what they think I want to hear.”
Kid glanced sideways. “Are you askin’ me to be your partner?”
“Guess I am.” Heyes gave a quick look at his cousin.
“’Bout time you got around to it.” Curry grinned.
“Gotta warn you…I can come up with my best ideas at night. Sometimes I need to discuss them then instead of waiting for the morning.” Heyes chewed his lower lip. “And you have to put up with my pacing.”
Kid chuckled. “Think I can handle you wakin’ me up to talk and your pacin’.” He paused and got serious. “You’re the best man to be leader, Heyes. To be honest, if either Jefferson or Wheat wins, I’m outta here.”
“And I’ll be right beside you, partner.”
“So what are you thinkin’ about for this next job?”
“Well, I always told Big Jim we should hit the banks at night since I can open the safes without dynamite. No one would be around and I can have more time. We can be outta there before anyone knows.”
“Heyes, you’re a genius. I love it!” Curry put an arm around Heyes as they began to walk down the path leading to the creek. “Now, how are you plannin’ to get inside with it all locked up and those bars on the windows?”
“Well, I was tryin’ to come up with something that would spread the bars apart…”
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Jackson, Wheat and Heyes busily planned their jobs, hoping to be the next leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.
The rest of the members could feel the tension in the air, like a furious storm was rising. With the three “leaders” in the bunkhouse, the gang walked on egg shells and did their best to avoid them.
One afternoon, storms swept into the Hole, inside and out. With the weather raging outside, the atmosphere in the bunkhouse quickly rose to a breaking point.
The Kid lay on his bunk and watched the mood escalate out of control. The three “leaders” were arguing and in each other’s faces. Curry jumped down and put a hand on Heyes’ arm.
Heyes glanced back. “Just a minute, Kid.” Then he turned back to Jackson.
Curry squeezed Heyes’ arm tighter and hissed in his ear, “We need to talk, now!”
“I said just a minute…”
“And I said now.” Curry steered Heyes out of the bunkhouse and onto the small covered porch, closing the door behind them.
“What was so important?”
“If you three don’t stop, you won’t have a gang to lead.”
“What do you mean?” Heyes asked hotly.
“You, Wheat and Jackson are so busy arguin’ and tryin’ to get others on your side, that you aren’t noticin’ how the gang is fed up. This can’t go on, Heyes, or men are gonna leave.”
“So you’re saying to do away with the contest? Maybe you’d prefer a shoot-out.”
“No!” Curry took a deep breath, trying to remain patient. “Maybe change the contest. Instead of actually doin’ all three jobs, what if you each told us the plans this afternoon and we vote on what one sounds the best? We could have a leader by evenin’.”
Heyes’ dark, angry eyes softened as he considered Curry’s suggestion. “That might work.”
Kid nodded and remained quiet, allowing Heyes to accept and adopt the plan as his own.
“Yeah, and it should be a secret ballot so no one knows who voted for who,” Heyes added.
“Gosh, it’s raining hard; I’m getting wet. We better get in.”
When they entered, chaos ruled with shouting and the beginning of a fistfight. As soon as the Kid heard the shouting and saw a few fists flying, he pulled out his gun and fired into the air. Everyone stopped what they were doing.
“Heyes has something he wants to say.”
“This contest is the best way to decide on a leader, but it’s taking too long and causing problems with the gang.” The members nodded their heads in agreement. “So, I think we should tell you our plans and we pick a leader from whose plan we like the best. There can be a leader tonight.”
“I like that idear,” Kyle piped in. “I don’t like all this bickerin’ and fightin’.”
One by one each gang member nodded as they all agreed with Kyle.
“Okay with me,” Jackson said while glaring at Heyes and Wheat.
“Me too,” Wheat added. “Who goes first?”
Curry took three matches and broke one in half and another even shorter. He held all of them in his hand so no one could see the lengths. “One who draws the shortest goes first and the longest goes last.” He let Wheat chose first, Jackson and then Heyes.
“Guess I’m going first,” Heyes said as he showed the group his short match.
Heyes confidently explained his detailed plan where everyone would be safe and a backup plan if something went wrong.
Jackson went next. His plan was more dangerous for the gang and innocent folks that might get caught in a cross fire.
Wheat hitched up his pants and stuttered through his plan, explaining very little detail.
“So how do we vote?” Adams asked.
“Since some of you can’t write…” Kid handed everyone a match. “Break it real short if you want Heyes, break it in half if you want Jackson and don’t break it if you want Wheat. I’ll come by with my hat so you can drop your match in it.”
Kid collected the matches and tipped them out of his hat onto the table. One match was unbroken, two were broken in half and the rest were broken very short. “Looks like Heyes won.”
Heyes grinned as the men surrounded and congratulated him. Even Wheat conceded and shook his hand. Jackson, instead of going up to Heyes, slunk in a corner and glared at the gang.
Curry, through eye contact, pointed out Jackson’s reaction to Heyes.
“Jackson…” Heyes walked over to shake hands.
“I can’t believe you chose him over me,” Jackson spat. “I’d rather leave than have this youngster lead me.”
Curry’s hand hovered over his gun butt. “Heyes won fair and square. Guess that means you’re leavin’.”
“Guess I am!” Jackson pulled out his saddlebags and began packing his gear.
“It’s dark and raining pretty hard. Not fit for man or beast to be out there.” Heyes poured a cup of coffee. “Stay for dinner and leave in the morning.”
Jackson listened to the rain hitting the roof. “Much obliged, but…”
“Stay in the leader’s cabin tonight, if you want,” Heyes added.
Jackson pondered for a moment on the offer. “I’ll do that.”
By morning, he was gone.
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
Posts : 550
Join date : 2012-04-22
Location : Devil's Hole
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:29 pm|| |
"It don't make sense." Curry shook his head and folded the newspaper he had been studying. "Here," he offered. "See if you can figure it out."
"What's to figure, Kid? Citizens go to the polls and vote. Ballot counters count up all the votes and the candidate who gets the most votes is the winner."
"Uh huh. That's what I thought too. Only that's not what's printed right..." he edged closer to his partner and pointed to a paragraph halfway down the page, "there. It says that Rutherford B. Hayes... Can you believe they spelled his name wrong? Rutherford B. HEYES," Curry corrected, "was voted President of the United States, even though most folks voted for the other fella. Don't seem fair to me."
"Let me see that." Heyes held the paper closer to a lamp and silence ruled as he devoured the article. "Got it," he finally beamed, proudly. "President Hayes won the election, despite the fact that Samuel Tilden got more actual votes, because Hayes got more votes in the electoral college."
Curry shook his head. "You don't have to go to college to vote. Anybody can vote. The fifteenth amendment says you can't deny a man his right to vote, based on his color, or..." Failing to remember the exact wording of the constitutional amendment, the Kid continued anyway. "Or if he went to college."
"That's not what I mean," Heyes explained, patiently. "The electoral college isn't a university, it's a process. See, votes are divvied up amongst the states, all thirty-eight of them, depending on how many folks live there. Demographics. Understand?"
The Kid nodded, pouring a cup of coffee for himself and Heyes. Then he sat, sipped, and shook his head. "No."
"Voters in each state and the District of Columbia cast ballots selecting electors pledged to presidential and vice presidential candidates. In nearly all states, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis to the candidate who wins the most votes in that state."**
"Just like I thought." The Kid tipped his chair back on two legs and placed one boot on another chair. "You don't get it either."
"It's really pretty simple. It's got to do with states choosing the candidate who can give them what they want. It's all part of the Democratic Process."
"Sounds kinda un-democratic, if you ask me," the Kid sulked.
Heyes set the newspaper to the side and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. "You want to tell me what's really bothering you?"
"Come on, Kid. You know you can tell me anything." He reached into his vest pocket, removed a flask, and added a splash to Curry's coffee, then his own. "Wishing you could have cast your vote, eh?"
The Kid shrugged.
"Who would you have voted for?"
"It don't matter, Heyes. And it's not that I wanted to vote for either one of 'em, specifically, it's just that you and me, doin' what we do, bein' wanted... We used up a bunch of choices I sure wish we hadn't."
"I know, Kid." Quietly, Heyes added a second splash to his own cup. "So? Who would you have voted for?"
Curry laughed. "I don't know. Who would you have voted for?"
"Ha! Neither one of them! Most politicians are crooks anyway."
"In that case, maybe I ought to run for President. Then I could give us both Presidential pardons!"
"You? Why not me?"
"You could run against me if you want, but I'd win, hands down," Curry stated, emptying his cup and placing it back on the table.
"What makes you so sure?" Heyes wondered.
Heyes bit his lip, then shrugged. "But women can't vote."
"If I was President they could. I'd pass another one of them amendments, givin' them all the right to vote. Women got a right to choose, Heyes."
"And what makes you think they'd choose you over me?"
"It's really pretty simple," Curry smiled. "It's got to do with that Democratic Process you were talkin' about, and me, givin' women what they want."
The Presidential Election of 1876 was really rather interesting. For a brief summary, check the following link:
Although the passage of the fifteenth amendment in 1870 guaranteed men the right to vote, regardless of their race, women did not win this right until the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.
** Quote from Wikipedia
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:15 pm|| |
So with 19 words to spare...
]]The Democratic Process
Heyes’s head jerked up as he turned to look at an exasperated Kid standing by the door to the cabin, glaring at him.
“No need to yell, Kid, I’m right here. What?”
“I said you needed to practice shootin’ too.”
“You can do it for both of us. I’m busy.”
“You’re readin’ the paper. You can do that later. A leader’s got to be able to hit the side of a barn if he tries and the amount of time you spend practicin’ these days you’d probably miss it.” The Kid glared at Heyes.
Heyes snorted but stood up obediently and walked over to the door, knowing that the Kid would never leave him in peace.
Heyes looked up from his paper and took an absent sip of coffee, while staring at the far wall of the cabin.
The Kid stopped cleaning their guns. “What is it, Heyes?”
“What do you mean?”
“I know that look, you’re plannin’ somethin’.”
“Kid, do you remember Culver City?”
"Culver City? …Wasn’t that were that guy - what was his name - Boss Simmons was?”
“Yeah. Says here they’ve got a big mayoral election coming up in a few weeks. Pierson’s really getting pretty vocal about Simmons too. Bet Simmons’ don’t much like that. Pierson’d better watch out.”
“Didn’t you learn last time nothin’ good would come from mixin’ in that town’s politics?”
Heyes’s grimace acknowledged the truth to the Kid’s comment. “But we’re older now; we’re honest to goodness outlaws now, not raw kids. Why we’re as crooked as Culver City politics have always been.”
The Kid snorted. “Yeah, I’d like to see Simmons try to run us out of town, again.”
They stared at each other as both remembered that time: two scared kids who had been run over by the town’s powerful political machine. Heyes’s eyes hardened as he remembered cleaning blood from their battered faces and trying to wrap the Kid’s bruised ribs. The Kid’s eyes iced over as he remembered Heyes trying to hide the pain of his broken hand…
“Heyes, should we be doin’ this?”
“Look Jed, we’re getting paid ten cents a ballot. And think about it, these folks get a chicken, a sack o’ flour, and five dollars. Why they’re much better off. All they gotta do is mark the ballot where we show them.”
“I thought folks chose who they voted for themselves.”
“Yeah, well, this is really how politics is played. ‘Sides most these folks can’t read, so someone’d have to help them place a mark anyways. Why not us?”
“I guess. That Ol’ Boss Simmons is somethin’ else, ain’t he?”
Heyes rolled his eyes as he thought of Boss Simmons – the bombastic, rotund man who had hired them to bring in the ballots, properly marked of course.
“How many we got now, Jed?”
Curry counted the ballots slowly his fourteen-year old forehead wrinkling as he counted. “… twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty!” he announced. “That outta be enough, huh? And that’s three dollars for us.”
Heyes nodded. “Yeah. Let’s get our money and get out of here.”
A cynical voice murmured behind them. “Boys, boys, boys. Have you no respect for the democratic process?”
They spun around and looked at the world-weary face of J. Boyden Pierson, the owner, editor, and sole reporter of the Culver City Sentinel.
Heyes answered, “We got respect for eating, Mr. Pierson, and this allows us to do that. Besides the other fella is doing the same thing so it ain’t like it’s not a fair fight.”
“And if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you boys jump too?”
“Huh?” asked Jed.
Pierson frowned as he watched several of Simmons’ enforcers coming up the street. “Never mind boys, just watch your backs. I wouldn’t trust Simmons if I were you.” He moved away as the thugs walked up to the boys...
“What are you thinkin’, Heyes? You’ve never been one for revenge.”
“Not revenge, Kid. Pure business. Old Simmons was paying five dollars a vote last time.”
“Yeah, plus a chicken and a sack of flour. So?”
“Well says here the population of Culver City has been growing and they expect nearly three thousand voters this time around. I figure in a couple of weeks, he’s going to need a lot of money, to make those payments and to buy those chickens and sacks of flour…”
“And where else would he keep that money but in his crony’s bank?” The Kid smiled as he realized Heyes’s plan.
“Yeah, Kid, and I have an idea how to increase the take too.”
Mr. Slattery and Mr. Barton checked into the Culver City Plaza Hotel, requesting the best suite in the hotel.
“Happy to be of service, Gentlemen,” the desk clerk beamed. “I must tell you that that room costs five dollars a day. I hope that’s acceptable.”
Blue eyes studied brown. Mr. Slattery turned his brown eyes on the desk clerk. “Certainly. No problem.” He pulled out a twenty-dollar gold piece. “Here’s four days in advance.” Then he pulled out a smaller coin. “And here’s something for your help.”
The desk clerk beamed. “Any time Mr. Slattery.”
“Now can you tell us where to buy the best cigars in town?”
“That would be the Emporium, right down the street.”
Mr. Barton turned his blue eyes on the clerk. “Where’s the best steak in town?” he asked.
“That would be Mr. Simmons’ place, the ‘No Bull Gentleman’s Club.’”
“Well Mr. Slattery No Bull it is for dinner.”
Heyes laughed. “No Bull indeed Mr. Barton.”
Heyes leaned over and lit the Kid’s cigar.
The Kid smiled his thanks, took a puff, and then picked up his snifter of brandy. “I must say Mr. Slattery; this Mr. Simmons sure offers a fine steak.”
“He does, doesn’t he?” He nodded his head in the direction of the corner where a portly gentleman held court with a number of sycophants and women of dubious repute. “Seems to be in fine spirits, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, so how should we…” the Kid trailed off as a tall, patrician grey-haired, stoop-shouldered man walked up to their table.
“Excuse me, Gentlemen. You’re new to our little burg are you not? Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Pierson the owner of the local paper. I always try to greet newcomers to this town.” He held out his hand as they stood up to greet him.
Heyes shook and then gestured to the empty chair, “Please sit down Mr. Pierson, our pleasure.”
“Can we get you some of this fine brandy?” the Kid offered.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
He waited until he had been served, observing them closely throughout.
“Is this your first time in Culver City, Gentlemen? I feel as if I’ve met you before.”
“I’m certain if Mr. Barton or I had ever met you before Mr. Pierson, we’d remember you,” Heyes answered smoothly.
“Mr. Pierson, as the owner of the paper, I’m sure you know who the movers and shakers here are. We are looking to make some investments in Culver City. Can you point us to the men we need to meet?” the Kid asked, changing the subject.
“What kind of investments?”
“Well we certainly don’t want our interests spread across the front page of your newspaper, Mr. Pierson, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t elucidate.” Heyes responded.
Pierson grunted and finished his brandy. Heyes signaled for another round for the three of them.
Pierson finished his third brandy then stood. “Well Gentlemen, I’m glad to have met you, though sorry I couldn’t convince you to tell me your business here in Culver City.”
“Mr. Pierson, we promise that if our business is successful we will let you know.” Heyes shook his hand then sat back down with the Kid, watching Pierson make his way out of the room, but not before speaking briefly with Simmons.
The two looked at each other and smiled.
Suddenly, Simmons loomed over them. “Gentlemen, you’re new to my club and I wanted to make sure everything is to your satisfaction. I’m Harvey Simmons; folks around here call me Boss Simmons. Is there anything I can do for you while you’re here?”
“I saw you had a word with Mr. Pierson on his way out. Was it in regard to us?” the Kid asked.
Simmons laughed. “I admit I like to know what’s happening in my town.” His eyes hardened momentarily. “You should be careful when you speak to Pierson though, he’s a born rabble rouser; he’s likely to give you the wrong impression of my town here.”
Heyes’s eyebrows rose. “Your town? You own it?”
“Well let’s just say that I make sure things are run the way I want. Now what can I do for you, Gentlemen? Pierson says you’re looking to make some investments here.”
The Kid spoke, “Mr. Simmons it’s too fine a night to discuss business. Maybe we could meet with you tomorrow morning to discuss a few matters.”
Simmons’ eyes narrowed; he was not used to being rebuffed. Then his smile returned. “Certainly. Shall we say eleven o’clock? Do you know where my office is?”
“I’m sure we can find it. Good night, Mr. Simmons.” Heyes and the Kid stood and left the club. Simmons stared after them frowning.
“Good morning, Gentlemen, may I offer you cigars?” Simmons escorted Heyes and the Kid into his office, settling all in comfortable arm chairs and offering his humidor.
Heyes and the Kid sat, accepted the cigars, and smiled at Simmons. “Mr. Simmons, Mr. Barton and I are business men and we’ve been investigating different cities here in Colorado Territory. Culver City may be just what we are looking for.”
“What are your interests, Gentlemen?”
“Railroads,” the Kid answered sitting forward and looking Simmons in the eyes. “Railroads for now.”
“There is no rail line to Culver City I’m afraid, Gentlemen,” Simmons responded with a dissatisfied look.
Heyes smiled, “We’re looking to build one, Mr. Simmons.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “As you know, this territory is likely to become a state in the next few years. And Denver will no doubt become the state capital. We’d like to see somewhere else, somewhere where we could wield some influence, perhaps Culver City, claim that title.”
Simmons eyes widened and greed warred with incredulity as he considered the ramifications of his city becoming the new state capital. “Could you manage that?” he breathed.
“First we need to build a rail line so that businesses are attracted to the area.” Heyes explained.
“And the next step?” Simmons asked skeptically.
“Just a moment, Mr. Slattery is correct that the first step is to build the railroad, which we are prepared to do … but only if we can be certain that the political climate of the city is supportive of our interests,” the Kid cautioned.
“Mr. Barton, we have discussed this. Culver City seems to have a very stable government. The current Mayor would certainly be supportive of our positions…”
“Yes, Mr. Slattery, but that’s the current Mayor. I’ve told you before that he faces fierce competition in the upcoming election, and the Sentinel supports his opponent. I’m just not convinced Culver City is our best choice…” Heyes and the Kid baited the hook.
“Now don’t be too hasty. What if I could assure you that the Mayor will be re-elected?” Simmons spoke, taking the bait.
Heyes and the Kid looked at each other. “Well if you can swear that the current Mayor will be re-elected…” Heyes temporized.
“Oh I can Mr. Slattery…”
“Very well, we are prepared to hand you one thousand dollars earnest money that you can hold in a bank of your choice here in town. But in exchange, we would expect a ten thousand dollar investment in the railroad to be paid the day after the election. That investment would entitle you to a fifteen percent share in the railroad. We, of course, will hold the remainder of the shares.”
“Ten thousand dollars!?”
“Surely that isn’t a problem for you. Don’t you want shares in the railroad line heading to the state capital, Mr. Simmons?” Heyes looked at the Kid. “Mr. Barton, perhaps you are right. Sorry to have taken your time Mr. Simmons.” He stood, as did the Kid, and held out his hand.
“Now just a minute,” Simmons blustered. “Ten thousand the day after the election? Yes I can certainly manage that. And you say you’ll leave one thousand here as earnest money?”
Heyes and the Kid smiled and sat back down. “Yes we can all go to the bank this afternoon to put it in a safety deposit box, if you wish.”
Heyes, the Kid, and Simmons stood on the steps of the Merchant’s Bank of Culver City.
“It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Simmons. We’ll be back for the election and once the results are known we can discuss the next steps. We look forward to joining you in the new state capital.”
The Devil’s Hole gang paused beside a stream.
Heyes and the Kid looked at them. “You all know your jobs. Wheat, you and the boys wait here for two days then come on in. Find a boy to bring a message to Mr. Barton, when you get to town. Don’t be late. We’ll take the bank that night. Hank, you and Lobo stashed the spare horses safely, right?”
“Of course, Heyes. Lobo’s with them now.”
“All right we’ll see you in Culver City in two days.”
Heyes and the Kid stepped off the stage and collected their bags. The Kid nudged Heyes and pointed over to a nearby building that had burnt down. The remains were still smoldering.
“What happened?” Heyes stared.
“Well, Gentlemen, and I think I use that term loosely. Since you two left town, the politics have gotten worse in our little burg. Boss Simmons stepped up his efforts, which I dutifully reported. I don’t think three brandies will compensate me for the loss of my livelihood.” A jaded, weary, soot-stained Pierson had walked up to them.
“Mr. Pierson, was that the Sentinel office?”
“It was. You know in the past Simmons had always ignored my campaigns against the political corruption in this town. But for some reason this time, he seems desperate to win. No doubt that,” he pointed towards smoldering ruins, “is the work of his thugs.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the Kid stated. “You’ll be able to rebuild, won’t you?”
“No, not this time. The Merchant’s Bank holds my mortgage and I haven’t the money to rebuild.”
“Well don’t despair, Mr. Pierson. Culver City needs its paper. I’m sure something will provide.”
Two nights before the election, the Devil’s Hole Gang came to town. The Kid received a note as he and Heyes were sitting down to dinner with their new “partner” in the railroad venture Mr. Simmons. After dinner and drinks, the two returned to their hotel.
At one a.m., by prearrangement, they met the gang at the back of the Merchant’s Bank.
Wheat kept lookout at one end of the alley, and Hank at the other end. Heyes picked the lock and they entered the building. Heyes quickly walked to the safety deposit boxes and pulled out his, picked the lock for which he did not have the key and collected his one thousand dollars, before returning the box to its position. He also took the time to look through the rest of the papers in the boxes, before grunting and extracting one.
He handed the money to the Kid and nodded to Kyle to set up the charge and blow the main safe.
The town was shocked out of bed by the roar of the explosion. The gang quickly gathered the money, and headed out the alley to where Jess held the horses. They sped out of town.
Three hours later, as dawn was approaching, they pulled up to the old farmstead where Lobo was holding the spare horses.
“Okay men, let’s split the money here.”
“But Heyes! You and the Kid always hold the money till we get back to the hole.”
“Yeah, well we have business to attend to. We’ll meet you back at the Hole in a few days.”
The money was quickly divided, the tack on the horses changed to the fresh ones, and the fresh horses mounted.
The two nodded to their men and took off.
“Now what Heyes?”
“Now we return to Culver City. We have business to attend to.”
Election day J. Boyden Pierson walked into his front room and found an envelope on his side table.
He looked around and noticed one of his windows was open. He frowned, certain that he had shut and latched it the night before. Shaking his head, he opened the envelope.
He pulled out a note:
Mr. Pierson, we do believe in the democratic process, and no we would not jump off a cliff just because everyone was doing it. We hope this is sufficient to get you back into print.
He examined the remaining contents of the envelope – finding his mortgage and one-thousand dollars. He shook his head, puzzling over the note. Suddenly he remembered a long-forgotten conversation with two young boys. He grinned and pocketed the money.
Heyes looked up from the paper he was reading to see an exasperated Kid glaring at him.
“You need to practice.”
“In a minute, Kid; you’ll want to see this.”
“What is it?”
Heyes handed him the Culver City Sentinel. “Look at that, first edition since the fire, says right here that the Mayor lost the election. Also the new Mayor is promising to clean up the corruption, starting with the arrest of Boss Simmons for ballot tampering.”
The Kid smiled.[/size]
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:14 pm|| |
Calico, you put the image in my head and it simply had to come out! Thanks to my 'running-mate' Silverkelpie for beta reading it.
Fair and Square
One purple and one pink feather peeped through the stage curtains of the most popular saloon in town. Although this night, “The Ballot Box” did not appear to be so popular.
“It’s gonna be a slow night, ladies," Betty announced, “I think we have to share this evening.”
“Share? Oh, Betty you must be joking. It’s Saturday night!” Marion exclaimed from behind the curtains.
“You can’t be serious! There must be enough guys for the four of us in that saloon?”
“No, I’m not joking at all. In fact, as we speak, I can count four men in total - and to top it off, four includes the piano player!
“How do they look?” Marion asked, “move over Betty I want to see for myself. ”
Marion pulled Betty away from the curtain and peeked through the opening herself, yellow feathers sticking out through the crack.
“You gals should definitely put the piano player on the list.“ Marion reported back.
“He just took off his bowler hat. I’ve heard that bold guys provide an interesting evening.”
“Besides, I think you’re right, Betty. I can only spot three cowboys and they’re playing cards. They do look clean-shaven though, and I assume they had their weekly bath, but nothing special, I’d say.”
Marion dropped the curtain behind her as she turned to look at the others. She anxiously kept the curtains closed behind her back, desperate not to let on to the other girls that one of those cowboys was, in fact, a very interesting looking young man. He had his black hat pulled low over his face while he studied the cards in his hands pensively. Yes, she had thought, being in a three man game would probably lack some excitement. Well, that’s gonna change pretty soon, if she if she had anything to do with it.
Every now and then the handsome stranger had looked up and stared through the batwing doors on to the street. Not seeing what he was looking for his eyes had moved back to his cards again. Halfway they were diverted towards some out of place feathers between the stage curtains. When he caught her eyes peeking through, he smiled at her. This dimpled smile with brown sparkling eyes made her knees feel week…. Yep, she had made her choice all right and she was NOT going to enlighten the other girls about it.
“Move over Marion, I want to make sure they are worth going into a vote for.” Maybelle, the saloon girls’ matron, pushed Marion aside and took over the view. “Ah! Great! Headcount is up girls, another one just walked in.”
A sigh of relief escaped from the girls as they realized they could drop the strenuous voting process. One way or the other, they liked it better when the saloon was full of men, so they could ignore the less tempting ones. Like them fellas having but few teeth for instance. Giving saloon occupants your best smile almost certainly produces a smile in return. So, just let us move on from that thought!
“Oh no, on second thought, Girls, we’d better start voting anyhow as this one looks like he’s been trampled by a herd of cows. He’s clearly not been around a bath in a while and doesn’t look like he can afford one. I think we should still consider the piano man on the list again. Beggars can’t be choosers! “
This produced another collective sigh, as each girl knew what was about to happen next.
“Alright, Ladies”, Maybelle ordered. “Pull up those skirts so I can start counting.”
Marion wore a smug grin on her face. Earlier tonight she had the good foresight to have put on brand new stockings with no holes in them at all. Since the girl with the least holes in her panties could choose first, she already pictured herself on the lap of that handsome dark cowboy.
Flora, the youngest of the group, turned around and took the opportunity to check out the piano player. Since she wore hand-me-down old stockings from Betty, she was convinced she’d end up listening to his inexhaustible out of tune songs tonight. Pouring many drinks into that guy would ultimately not improve the ambience of the evening….Jeez.
While peeking further through the curtains however, her gaze fell on two guys by the bar. One was obviously the one Maybelle mentioned. His brown floppy hat was covered with dirt and his sheepskin coat had seen better days. She guessed his pants to be bluish grey, but the dust and mud on them made it difficult to determine for sure.
One of the card players that Marion had described had gotten over to the bar and was buying the new guy a beer. Flora’s eyes followed them moving to a corner table together while talking amiably and slapping each other’s back. As the clean one got up and moved back to the poker table, the face of the smudgy one came into view. Just at that moment he looked up at the stage and his clear blue eyes looked straight at her. Smiling apologetically, he plucked at his dirty clothes and winked at her, his mouth forming the word, “Sorry.” In total shock she let go of the curtains and turned back to the others. Oh please let me have last choice! PLEASE!!!
“Get over here, Flora. It is your turn.”
While walking in Maybelles direction Flora desperately tried to force more holes in her stockings. Thank God for her long, sharp fingernails. Next to them being a good weapon to avoid unwanted intimacies, they now came in handy as well. Arriving in front of Maybelle she pulled up her skirts confidently.
The curtains were drawn and after the girls introduced themselves with a seductive dance, they spread out over the saloon. Marion soon picked up where she left off with the handsome dimpled card player and tested his lap as a permanent seating arrangement.
Flora bought the bold piano player a drink for his efforts and was soon leading the dust-covered blue-eyed stranger up the stairs - ordering a hot bath on the way. This might be just the right occasion for her special perfumed soap - not that there was much left of it unfortunately. Still, it’ll probably last one more bath. And should it, purely by accident, slip into the tub, she could always lend a hand in finding it - now couldn’t she?
Posts : 669
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 37
Location : Arizona
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:07 pm|| |
His outwardly calm demeanor belying his inner anxiety, Hannibal Heyes waited for the verdict. The jury had heard the presentation, listening in silence as the facts were laid out. He was about to hear their reaction, and he was nervous.
“I don’t like it. It’s too dangerous."
“What’s wrong with the way we always done things?”
“It’s too complicated. We’ll get caught.”
Heyes stared at his men, assessing their mood. It was early morning and they'd just finished a hearty breakfast. He’d known it wouldn’t be easy convincing them to try something new and he was prepared to refute their doubts. “It ain’t dangerous if you all do exactly what you’re told. Each man will have a job to do, just like always, and if you do it the way you’re supposed to, no one will get hurt and no one will get caught. It only sounds complicated ‘cos we’ve never done it before. The first time’s always the hardest but then it gets easier.”
The men didn’t look convinced but they didn’t look as much against it as before. Heyes continued arguing his position. He knew he could wear the gang down if he talked long enough but he preferred they realize the merits of his plan before sundown. He continued his persuasion. “There’s nothing wrong with doing things the way we always have, but that ain’t the way to glory or riches, neither. Sometimes you gotta reach for the moon and if you fail, well, at least you’ll land among the stars.”
Kyle’s puzzled face told Heyes that that reasoning had gone over his head. Over some of the other men’s heads, too, by the looks of them.
“Look,” Heyes said, bringing the high-falutin’ language back down to earth, “Reliable information has it there’s a big payroll in that safe. It’s ours for the taking. All we gotta do is seize the opportunity. Carpe diem, as they say.” He looked at the blank faces and sighed. “Sure, it might be a little harder than what we’re used to. But, trust me, it’ll be worth the effort. We can do this! We will do this! I got it all thought out…”
Someone muttered, loud enough to be heard by everyone, “You done got yourself elected leader, not dictator.”
Heyes kept tight rein on his patience. “And Wheat, as the duly elected leader of the Devil’s Hole gang, it’s my duty to plan the jobs we pull. If you don’t like the way I run things, then you are welcome to leave.”
Wheat and the young leader of the outlaw gang stared at each other. A showdown was imminent; everyone could feel it. Neither man could back down now.
It was Kid Curry’s job to back up Hannibal Heyes. Most times, he didn’t even have to think about it, it just came natural to him. He and Heyes fit together so well, like two peas in a pod, his ma used to say. Maybe being cousins had something to do with it. Or maybe it was ‘cos they were so close in age, less than two years apart. Mayhap it was due to the fact they were opposites in most things—one dark, the other light; one talkative, the other quiet; one the thinker, the other the doer—and opposites attract. But the bottom line was, Kid Curry supported Hannibal Heyes.
But not this time.
“Heyes.” Curry’s quiet voice cut through the heavy silence.
The gang leader’s head swiveled to the side of the bunkhouse where the Kid was leaning against a wall. The blond gunman flicked his eyes to the door and walked towards it and waited.
No one else moved. No one said anything but everyone watched Curry approach his cousin. Now there was a layer of anticipation on top of the silence. Everyone waited for the explosion they knew was about to erupt.
Everyone was disappointed.
“You all think about it,” Heyes ordered the gang. “Think about the haul and how you’ll enjoy spending it,” he prodded them. “The Kid and me got some talking to do.” He exited the bunkhouse and Curry followed him to the leader’s cabin.
“What the hell was that?” Heyes demanded, once they were in the privacy of the small building fifty yards away. “How dare you undermine me in front of the men! Have you any idea how hard it is to lead this gang? I’ve given hours and hours of time and thought to making us successful, and this is the thanks I get? What kind of gratitude is that?”
“Are you done?” Curry asked mildly when Heyes stopped to take a breath. His arms were folded over his chest and he was inwardly amused at his cousin’s ranting. Heyes behaved that way only when he knew he was in the wrong and was trying to avoid acknowledging it.
Heyes went and sat in the chair at the desk where he planned his robberies. Idly, he grabbed the tin cup laying on top of the map and took a sip of the cold coffee. “No,” he said heatedly. “Kid, you know how hard I’ve tried to get these men to follow orders. You know I’ve tried to get them to see we can do things better, do bigger jobs. The Devil’s Hole gang is on the verge of greatness! Just one big score and we’ll be famous all over the West.” Heyes took another sip, grimaced, and put the cup down. “What’s wrong with them? Why can’t they see that?”
It came out sounding plaintive and Curry finally smiled. “You’re the leader of a gang of outlaws, Heyes, not the general of an army. They expect to have some say in how the gang is run.”
“Ain’t no buts about it,” Curry interrupted. “They’ll take orders from you only as long as it makes sense to them.”
“We’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude,” Heyes complained. “Might as well not have a leader at all.” He started to read the notes he’d made about the next job he wanted the gang to pull off, the one they’d just refused to do. The genius of his plan was that no one would know there’d been a robbery until well after the fact.
“That’s the democratic process for you!” Curry told him. “Best you learn how to live with it, Heyes. Or,” he shrugged, “you could let Wheat take over.”
Heyes looked up sharply, then relaxed upon seeing the laughter in his cousin’s face. “Wheat would ruin the gang. They need someone who can take the Devil’s Hole gang where no band of outlaws has ever gone before. That’s me, not Wheat. He don’t have any vision. I do. I’m the only one who can…” He closed his mouth without finishing when he saw the Kid’s expression.
“What?” demanded Heyes.
Curry’s first reaction had been to laugh but then, actually listening to the words, his countenance became more and more serious. He wasn’t at all happy to hear his cousin spouting off about how great he was. Sure, Heyes was smart, smarter than anyone the Kid had ever known, including his pa, but Heyes telling everyone he was smart was definitely not a wise thing to do. It made people into enemies, not friends, and as outlaws on the wrong side of the law, they needed as many friends as they could find.
Curry sighed, knowing Heyes wouldn’t like what he was gonna say. “I didn’t learn much at the Home but I do remember a couple things.” Curry waited until he had Heyes’ full attention, feeling the dark eyes piercing right through him. He didn’t blink. “I kinda liked the sermons in church on Sunday. The reverend, he made all them stories seem so real, you know?” The Kid looked away, feeling sheepish at his admission.
“You were just a kid. You didn’t know any better,” Heyes told him, marveling anew at the contrasts in the man standing across the room from him. Curry hadn’t moved from the doorway since entering the cabin, almost as if he wanted to be able to make a quick getaway if things didn’t go well. But he was standing his ground against his older cousin, and Heyes knew it wasn’t easy for anyone to do that, not even the Kid.
But now Curry was angry. The Kid rarely spoke of their time at the orphanage and for Heyes to joke about it, well, it made him mad. “You mark my words, Heyes. There’s gonna be a day of reckoning. The reverend was right when he said pride goeth before a fall,” Curry said quietly.
Heyes stared at his cousin with his eyes narrowed and his lips pursed together. But before he could retort, the Kid continued. “And I saved me a word. Thought I might need it someday.”
The outlaw leader looked warily at Curry, knowing he wouldn’t like it, not wanting to hear it but knowing he had no choice. “And this special word is…?” he asked sarcastically.
Heyes got up, walked past his cousin and out the door without a word.
“Yup,” Curry said to the empty room, “pride goeth before a fall.”Author's Note: This story was inspired by the recent events surrounding David Petraeus, retired Army general and former CIA Director in the US.
Posts : 582
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 45
Location : The Hideout
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:59 am|| |
Last edited by HannaHeyes on Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:16 am; edited 1 time in total
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:19 pm|| |
It had started out just like any other evening. I sat in the lounge, weaving my late mother’s hair into an intricate pleat. Her beautiful, chestnut hair still shone with a deep, warm glow which caught the light of the oil lamp. I curled the work into a bud, and smiled with satisfaction. It would make a wonderful mourning brooch and would remain a tangible connection to the gentle soul who had left behind a broken home; a daughter and a husband who had nothing in common, but their deep love for the same woman. We merely co-existed.
Ten o’clock – time to take my father his nightly drink. I walked over and unlocked the Tantalus, before pouring the amber liquid into a brandy bowl and placed it on the silver tray.
I tapped gently on the door, waiting to be bid to enter as usual, but the call never came. I frowned and knocked again. “Father?”
“Go away!” came the gruff reply.
What had I done this time? It seemed as though I could never do right for doing wrong. He could hardly look at me anymore. My obstinacy hardened, so I turned the brass knob and pushed open the heavy mahogany door. My eyebrows arched in surprise. My father sat stiffly behind his heavy, ornate desk, facing a dark eyed man whose dimpled smile welcomed me into the room.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know...,” I didn’t get the words out. A hand clasped over my mouth and the tray clattered to the floor.
“Not a sound,” a voice hissed in my ear. I suddenly noticed that the dark haired man held a gun. Panic spiralled in my chest and I froze against the arms snaked around my body. “Do as you’re told and nobody will get hurt. Do you understand?”
I nodded – hard. That voice meant business.
The dark man walked over and shut the door. I felt the arms release me and I scuttled away from the man who had assaulted me, backing off against the wall with rasping breath. The face confronting me was not what I expected. Angelic blue eyes, topped off with dishwater blond curls, glittered apologetically at me. “Sit down, Miss Galbraith. I’m sorry you got involved in this.”
“What do you want?” I gasped.
He led me to a chair, and pushed me gently down into it. “Nobody is goin’ to hurt you. I give you my word.”
I gave a nod of disbelief. “What do you want?” I repeated.
The dark one listened at the door. “I think we’re clear.” He walked over to me, his dancing eyes and his gun competing for attention. His brows gathered in concern. “A girl? We don’t need this.”
“Neither do I,” I snapped. “Who are you?”
“We just need to speak to your father,” the dark man replied. “I’m sorry you came in on this.”
“Just take what you came for and leave.”
The dark man shook his head. “We came to find out why somebody had been trying to drive us out of this town from the moment we set foot in it.” He glowered at my father. “And now we know, don’t we, Stubby?”
I frowned. “What are they talking about, Father?”
He didn’t answer, staring off into the night with anguished eyes.
The dark man pulled out a seat. “We’re talking about your father’s past, Miss Galbraith.”
“There’s no need to bring her into this,” my father barked. “No matter what I did, she’s innocent.”
The dark eyes narrowed. “She brought herself in here, Stubby, and now she’s here, she’s going nowhere.”
I shook my head in confusion. “His past?”
The blond man spoke. “We wanted to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, Ma’am, but your father had other ideas – he wanted us to leave town - real fast.”
“So far, we’ve been fired, threatened, and beaten up, and left outside town.” The dark one gave a dimpled, joyless smile. “That was your biggest mistake, Stubby. When somebody pushes us hard, we push back – you of all people should know that.”
I rubbed my face, exasperation mounting. “What’s going on!?”
The men shared a glance and the blond one stepped closer to me, a warning glinting in his eyes. “Keep your voice down, Miss Galbraith. Please don’t make me do anything to make sure you stay quiet.”
I looked up at the tall, lean figure and my stomach fluttered with nerves.
“Leave her alone!” my father snapped. His forehead was beaded with sweat. “Please, Isabelle, just sit still and be quiet. These are dangerous men.”
I stared silently, one from the other. If I’d bumped into these men on the street I’d have thought they were handsome, but there’s something about being on the wrong end of a gun that strips away superfluous details. The dark eyes simmered with menacing anger under a patina of nonchalant charm, and the fair man moved like a panther, ready to pounce at any moment. I gulped, sure the sound echoed around the room.
The dark one pushed his hat back on his head. “So, Stubby Walker has changed his name to Galbraith and gone straight? Who’d have thought it?”
Surprise hit me. “Straight?”
The fair one folded his arms. “Your father’s real name is Walker, Miss – so I guess that makes you a Walker too. Doesn’t it, Stubby?”
“Your father’s a murderer and a thief,” the dark man stood with a sigh. “He used to ride with the Plummer Gang.”
“Nonsense!” I snapped back. “He’s a respectable man, he runs the local mine and he’s standing for mayor. If this is some kind of attempt at blackmail, it won’t work.”
“There’s no mistake, Ma’am. You see, I’m Hannibal Heyes, and he’s Kid Curry – don’t you think I’d be able to identify members of a gang I used to ride with?”
My father’s eyes closed with sick resignation. “Is this true?” I murmured.
Heyes stared at my father with hard, cold eyes. “I was young and I’d only just joined the gang, but I remember like it was yesterday. He disappeared with the take from a robbery. Not only that, when he met another member of the gang he shot him dead,” Heyes shook his head. “No wonder you felt the need to put a lot of road between you and the rest of the gang. The statute of limitations has run out on the robbery, Stubby, but there’s no limit on murder.” Heyes fixed my father with a glare. “And you’re standing for Mayor. I’m a great believer in the democratic process, but don’t you think the public should know who they’re really voting for?”
My father’s hands firmed into fists on the desk top. “What do you want?”
Heyes gave a mournful chuckle. “Didn’t it occur to you that we might need the chance to put our pasts behind us too? You shouldn’t have poked the bear, Stubby.” He paused, dark eyes suddenly flicking over to my father. “We would have earned one hundred and twenty dollars this week, if you hadn’t chased us out of town. You owe us that at the very least.”
“You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on the ass. I don’t keep cash in the house. I’m not an idiot. I probably don’t have more than thirty dollars, but you’re welcome to it if it gets you out of here.” My father’s eyes glinted with desperation. “Just how are you going to turn me over to the law without turning yourselves in?”
Hannibal Heyes bit thoughtfully into his lip, before his eyes slid over to me. “How do you feel about knowing the truth, Miss Galbraith?” He stared into me, watching my heart rate increase, and my breath come in pants of anxiety.
“Keep me out of this,” I stammered.
Heyes arched his brows. “I’d have liked to, really I would, but you’re here now. How does it feel to know your father is a killer? He’s even been in prison. How good are you at keeping secrets, Miss Galbraith? In my experience women aren’t great at it, are they, Stubby?”
“It’s none of her business,” my father barked.
“Her real name’s her business,” Heyes retorted, evenly.
“She’s who I brought her up to be, and always will be. She’s a real fine young woman and I’m proud to call her my daughter.”
I blinked in surprise. My father was never one to have a compliment ready. To say that we had a difficult relationship was an understatement. His contribution to good communication was inversely proportionate to Western Union’s.
“Did you?” I pinned my father with a hard stare. “Really? You killed someone just for money?”
“No! I absolutely did not kill anyone for money.”
“Word has it you shot him down in the street, Stubby.” Kid propped himself on the edge of the desk. “There were dozens of witnesses and it was all over the newspapers. I read about it myself – it made me wonder what kind of outfit Heyes had gotten himself tied up in.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t kill him,” my father growled. “I just said that I didn’t do it for the money.”
Heyes looked pensively at him. “Yeah, as I remember, it you and Dutch never saw eye to eye, did you? You both had a thing for the same girl.”
My father simmered quietly. “He was a no-good, dirty, low-down...,” he glanced at me. “This isn’t the company to say exactly what he was, but he was no loss to the world. He was thrown out of the gang for being too violent. That was why he was in Redhill on his own that day.” He glowered at Heyes. “Remember!? He was a complete animal.”
“Yes...,” mused Heyes. “He came on too heavy with a woman during a robbery. It caused trouble because the men jumped in to protect her.” He shook his head ruefully. “I never allowed that kind of thing to happen on my watch. We were lucky nobody was shot that day.”
“But you killed him and stole their money?” I gazed at the room through filter of tears, “and now they’ve caught up with you?”
Heyes and Curry exchanged a glance. “I promised you that nothing would happen to you and I meant it.” I was sure that Kid Curry meant to be reassuring, but his brooding presence undermined any platitudes headed my way.
“But what about my father?” I demanded. “What about him? Please don’t kill him. Don’t hurt him.”
Hannibal Heyes walked over and patted my arm gently. “We’re not killers, Miss Galbraith. We didn’t come here to kill him, or anyone else.”
“What, then?” I pressed.
Heyes looked pensively over at the man perspiring by the wall. “We came here to find out why somebody had us beat up and tossed out of town. Now we did, I guess it’s time to move on – and you’d better do the same, Stubby, because if word gets out that you’re here you’ll swing for murder.”
My father visibly slumped with relief. “Yes, we’d better move on, Isabelle.”
I looked around at my home. “Leave here? But mother’s grave is here. I’ve lived here my whole life...”
“They’re just things, Isabelle, we can start again. My skill with explosives got me work at the mine and I worked my way up. I’ve got more behind me now,” my father gave me a weak smile. “I did it once before... I started from nothing.”
Hannibal Heyes flicked up an eyebrow. “Not exactly nothing, Stubby. You took nearly thirteen thousand dollars with you.”
My father’s colour rose. “We needed it, Bella was pregnant with Isabelle. We needed it to give her a decent life – and we did. Look at how she’s turned out. She’s just like her mother, loving, decent and beautiful.”
All eyes turned to me and I could feel my face burn with embarrassment. A smile twitched at Kid Curry’s lips and the hardness fell away from his eyes. “Yup, and modest too.”
“You never really missed that money and it made all the difference in the world to us. All you would have done is go out and steal more – and it would all have gone on gambling, drinking and whoring...” My father frowned. “Sorry, Isabelle. It was a hard life and it’s the only language men like them understand.”
"The life wasn't half as hard as prison, which is exactly where you’re headed if anyone else finds out who you are. It was a year’s hard labour wasn’t it?”
“I suppose,” my father muttered.
“Yup,” Heyes nodded knowingly. “You were only just out of jail when you joined the gang.” His eyes narrowed as though capturing an elusive memory. “Come to think of it, you were only there for two weeks and Dutch left about the same time as you - the next morning, in fact. He said he thought he knew where you might be. The next we heard, you’d shot him.”
“Stop talking about it, you’re upsetting my daughter!” my father reached for his top drawer, but stopped dead when Kid Curry’s gun leaped into his hand from nowhere.
“Keep those hands where I can see them,” Kid barked.
“Money...” My father raised his hands. “You wanted money to compensate for the loss of earnings. I keep it in that drawer.”
“Take a look, Kid. We don’t want any more than we lost.” Heyes rubbed his face distractedly, his mind operating like quicksilver behind his dark eyes. “Yeah, Stubby, you arrived, stole the first lot of loot that came your way, killed Dutch, then disappeared for good. You knew Dutch before you joined the gang, didn’t you? You hated him, but you joined the Plummer gang rather than any other outfit. Why?”
“What difference does it make?” my father snapped.
“You’re worried about something. After all these years? Why?” Heyes turned to me. "What age are you?"
"I was sixteen in January," I replied, my brow creasing.
“Leave her out of this,” my father spluttered.
“Dutch was real mad, when he got back and found out Plummer had let you join.” Heyes fixed my father with intense, dark eyes. “I never thought about it before, you just came and went. What were you in jail for?”
“Fighting.” My father started to twitch, and even I knew he was hiding something.
“Yes. Dutch said you were real violent. None of us ever saw that in you, not until you shot him. I guess he was right, after all.” Heyes stood and started to pace, stopping suddenly to stare at my father as though seeing him through fresh eyes. “You came to get Dutch, didn’t you? The pair of you hated one another because of that woman. I guess the money was too big a temptation, that was just a chance taken in a camp full of drunken outlaws.” Heyes turned and smiled at me. “I learned from that too, Miss Galbraith. My outfit always had someone sober on guard.”
“Well, good for you, Mr. Heyes. It’s just a shame you never learned to keep your sticky fingers to yourself, isn’t it?”
The words were out of my mouth before I knew it and my stomach turned a cartwheel of fear, but the men exchanged a look before Kid Curry started laughing. “You’re right, Stubby. She’s a credit to you. I guess if the haul from that robbery gave her a decent life, then that money wasn’t wasted, after all.”
“It was your wife, wasn’t it?” Heyes folded his arms, darting a look between my father and me. “You wanted revenge. I’ll bet it was Dutch you beat up so bad you got a year’s hard labour, and then you followed him as soon as you got out. It all fits – he just couldn’t keep his hands off a pretty girl. and judging by your daughter, she was a beauty.”
“My wife was the sweetest, purest creature who ever walked God’s good earth. She wouldn’t have given a lowlife like him the time of day.”
Heyes eyes glittered strangely at my father. “No decent woman would, he was a slimy maggot.” He sighed. “The chance of starting a fresh life with the loot suddenly seemed more important than revenge. That could wait. You said yourself; there was a baby on the way... That must have been a real shock, Stubby.”
Kid Curry walked over to the door. “We’ll be goin’, Stubby. Keep your cash.” He tipped the brim of his hat, “goodnight, Miss Galbraith. I hope we didn’t frighten you too much.”
Hannibal Heyes gave me a glittering smile. “Miss Galbraith, your father’s secret is safe with us. I believe he only did what many men would do to avenge his wife, and I think he put that loot to the best use he could.” He glanced around the room. “If we were to do a straw poll, just about any man in the country would have done the same, if they’d had the guts. You should be as proud as him as he is of you.”
The truth dawned gradually on me – I had just turned sixteen at that time, and I was way more naive than I liked to think. My father had been in jail for a year before my birth, for beating up the man who had been bothering his wife. He wasn’t a cold, unloving, uncommunicative man. He was a man who had loved so deeply he had brought up the child of the man who had raped my mother while he was in jail. Of course he had struggled at times – who wouldn’t?
I married six years later and he gave me away with tears in his eyes. My something old was my brooch adorned with flowers fashioned from my mother’s hair.
Historical Note - Making mourning jewellry from the hair of loved ones was common in the Victorian era.
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:24 am|| |
I did not have enough time to finish my original story for this month, so came up with Plan B. Many thanks to Riders for her help with this.
Saddle Talk: Democratic Process
“Heyes, do ya really think Gant’ll get off?”
Hannibal Heyes thought for a moment before responding. “I hope so, Kid.”
The boys rode in silence for a time.
“You know, Heyes, we could’ve gotten Gant a lawyer; even paid for it.”
Heyes frowned. “Nice thought, Kid, but for once, we’re flush.”
Kid Curry nodded. “I know, and that’s the point. He didn’t turn us in when he could’ve. Maybe one good turn deserves another.”
“Ha! There ya go with the good deeds again, Kid. He told us to git, or else, so we git.”
The blond man sighed. “Just don’t seem right, is all. Us leavin’ him there in jail.”
“Why you getting all sentimental-like?”
A flash of anger overtook Kid’s countenance. “Sometimes it’s just not right!”
Heyes was surprised. “What’s not right?”
“That we just ride away when someone needs us.” Kid spurred his horse and rode ahead.
Heyes reined his mount to a stop. He looked at his partner in the distance and shook his head. Brow knit, he urged the horse into a lope and soon caught up with Kid. “Okay, what’s this all about?”
The fair-haired man’s tone softened. “Heyes, it’s not right.”
The dark-haired partner sighed. “Maybe not. But, are you forgetting we’re wanted and Gant threatened to tell the sheriff who we were?”
“Look, Kid, maybe your heart’s in the right place, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”
“I know. But I don’t have to like it.”
Heyes pressed his case. “In a way, I don’t like it, either. Gant watched our backs, so maybe we owe him. Maybe we can make it up to him someday. Maybe…”
“Maybe nothin’, Heyes! It was now that we could’ve helped him, now that he might need us!” Kid Curry glared for a moment before breathing deeply. Shoulders relaxed, he shook his head. “I don’t know, Heyes. This whole thing…”
“This whole thing is…was…needless – that’s the word. It was needless.”
Heyes nodded. “Yup, it was that.”
“All those killin’s – for what?” He sighed. “It just don’t make sense.”
Heyes saw an opening. “You’re right, Kid. It don’t make sense.”
“You agreein’ with me, Heyes?”
Kid’s eyes widened. “What ya got up your sleeve?”
“I don’t believe ya.”
Heyes smiled to himself. “Why not?”
Kid emphasized, “Because.”
Heyes grinned. “’Because’ by itself isn’t a reason. You know that.”
“Stop actin’ like my mother, Heyes. If I want ‘because’ to be a reason, that’s the reason.” Now Kid hid a smile.
Heyes chuckled. “All this over whether or not we should’ve stayed behind to be arrested?”
The fair-haired man glanced sideways at his partner. “Well, maybe we wouldn’t’ve been. I really don’t think Gant would’ve turned us in.”
Heyes thought a moment. “Maybe, maybe not. In any case, we didn’t – couldn’t – stay around to find out; good thing, too. I’m not sure I trust him.”
Kid frowned. “Why not?”
Eyebrows raised, the dark-haired man regarded his partner. “You have a short memory, Kid. Don’t forget Gant thought you were the killer, at least at first. You didn’t like bumping around in that wagon. He might even have found every bump and rut to make you more uncomfortable.”
Kid nodded. “It was a bumpy ride, but once he saw it couldn’t be me…”
The blond man stammered, “Well, he just saw it couldn’t be me.”
“Process of elimination?”
“No. More like, like…the short straw.”
“Come on, Heyes, the short straw, like, uh, the democratic process,” Kid said confidently.
“Come again?” Heyes looked confused.
“You know. Like, if, well…Somebody’s gonna be the – what’s the word – um, scapegoat. The others sort of vote on it, and the one tied up draws the short straw – so to speak, anyway.”
Heyes’ brow held deep furrows. “Of…course…”
“And the one tied up – accused – he’s left in a predicament until they find out the truth – if they do, I mean.”
“And, well, let’s just say they do, like they did, so they untied me. And then we just have to find the real one – the killer, I mean.”
Heyes inhaled deeply. “Okay. They did.”
The dark-haired man scratched his head. “That’s it?”
Kid grinned. “Yup.”
Heyes was silent for a moment. Then, "Well, Kid, then I guess we were right to leave Gant."
"How do you figure?"
"Well, Gant's the one tied up, right?"
"So by your own words, he's the one who drew the short straw. The democratic process has spoken."
"Heyes...Oh, you should have been a politician the way you can twist a man's words."
"Politician?! We're going straight now, remember?"
Posts : 871
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 65
Location : Colorado
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:04 am|| |
Remuda: Thanks for the chuckle with my morning coffee. I just love your Saddle Talks and this one was great. You provide such a good glimpse into the differences in their personalities and motivations through the kind of casual idle discussions people riding along for hours would naturally have. I like Kid's reasoning being so carefully laid out and also Heyes's speedy retort to it. Also how Kid was worried about doing what was right and Heyes had difficulty even seeing why it would've been right (although I doubt Kid is any less amoral than Heyes or they wouldn't be who they are). Heyes would've been a great politician!
|Subject: Re: November 2012 - Democratic Process || |
November 2012 - Democratic Process