Alias Smith and Jones Writers
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April 2012 - Eggs
Posts : 705
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 55
Location : Birmingham
|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:31 am|| |
It was a wonderful day in April and Sarah Curry was making the last preparations for the Easter dinner. It was quite the sight. She had already told her husband Jeddiah Curry off on several occasions for staring at the food in question. She knew her husband was keen on food and if he got a little teaser he wouldn’t leave her alone. Then Clementine walked into the kitchen and asked her mother if there was something she could do more. Sarah gave her daughter a bright smile. She enjoyed having her around and helping her with domestically duties.
“Yes, there’s something you can do. Why don’t you make the table? The boys should be back soon,” she replied.
“Yes, mother. Oh, Amy can’t wait for the egg hunt. She was up early in the morning trying to catch a glimpse of the Easter Bunny as it hid them,” Clementine answered.
Sarah laughed quietly. When she was little the Easter Bunny wasn’t very common. It had grown popular over the years. It had been Jed’s idea to hide eggs a few years back and it had continued like that.
“Tell Amy that she needs to have some patience. There’ll be an Egg Hunt later today,” Sarah told her and returned to her duties. Clementine made a small nod but she then lingered in the kitchen for a moment. There was something she wanted to ask her mother but didn’t have the courage to do so. She sighed softly and went to the dinner room.
Later on the boys came back from the field work. Jed sat by the front and softly steered the horses towards the farm. His oldest two sons, Thomas and Mark ride alongside it while his youngest, Joshua, sat right next to his dad. He wasn’t big enough to ride yet, or so Jed thought. Joshua didn’t agree but he didn’t say it. Perhaps his Pa was right after all, even though he had spent a lot of time around horses. Thomas whistled as they approached the ranch and one of the hired ranch men waved over to them. They then drove up to the court yard and dismounted. Joshua jumped down and led Thomas horse over to the stables while Mark helped their dad with the carriage. The ranch hand, Joe, and Thomas started to haul today’s work off the carriage. Suddenly there was a bolt of light and blonde hair running over the court yard.
“Daddy!” Amy cried out and hugged Jed’s leg. He chuckled deeply and brushed her over her hair.
“Hello sweetie. Helpin’ yer mother with the dinner?” he asked and looked down at her.
“No… I’ve been looking for the Easter Bunny,” she replied excitingly. “He’s hard to find,” she then added with a
“Mebbe he’s scared of ya, “Mark then said and smirked.
“He’s not! I’m a very nice girl!” he said and pouted. Jed smiled and gave Mark a glance.
“Don’t listen t’ him, he’s just windin’ ya up,” Jed then told Amy. “Now, don’t ya mother need some help?” he then asked. Amy shook her head.
“Clemy helps her,” she replied. Jed then gave her another smile before he tugged at her shoulder.
“Let’s see if we can find ya some work for ya then,” he added and started to walk towards the barn while Amy grabbed his hand. Jed then shouted over his shoulder to Joe to continue the work. Joe gave him a nod. Thomas got a disgruntled expression on his face however. He knew Joe was older and had more experience but he was the oldest, he should be in charge when Pa couldn’t. He was almost 17 after all, he was nearly an adult. Mark then gave him a nudge and nodded towards the sacks. Thomas gave his brother a glare before he grabbed a sack and stalked off. Mark rolled his eyes and took another sack. He had never liked Thomas attitude and it was just getting worse over time.
Sometime later their guests started arriving. Jed and his family walked out to greet them. In the first carriage Heyes, his wife Claire and their children came. The first one to step out was Heyes son Alexander. He helped Heyes second wife Claire out of the carriage. She was holding their sleeping newborn Harriett. Alexander also extended his hand out to his father who just flashed his son one of his warm smiles and he stepped out unaided. Jed smiled and walked over to his old partner and shook his hand.
“Heyes! Nice meetin’ ya again. An’ Claire, just as beautiful as ever,” Jed greeted them. Claire giggled some while Heyes gave Jed a mock glare.
“Hey, that’s my wife!” Heyes then replied and gave Jed a friendly shove.
“What about me? Don’t I get a hello?” Alexander replied with a fake pout. Jed chuckled and shook his hand as well. They begun walking towards the house and Claire and Jed’s children also greeted them.
A while later more guests arrived. It was Clementine Hale and her husband as well as Georgette Sinclair. Their old friend Lom Trevors hadn’t been able to come however. Heyes and Jed greeted them and exchanged stories about what they had been up to in the last year. Clementine spoke a lot about her twins; one of them was in the army while the other worked as a sewer in New York. Heyes once again inquired about where Georgette had gotten her fortune and once again she just smiled at him and didn’t tell. As all the guests were finally gathered they sat down to eat Easter dinner. The dinner flowed on rather eventless with a lot of talking and laughing.
After the dinner was done the family ventured outside. Jed and Joe had previously hid eggs around the farm while Sarah was busy with the dinner. It was now up to the youngest children to go looking for them. Amy was very excited and she started running around the perimeter. Joshua took it a bit calmer however. While Amy just ran around he tried to figure out the best places to hide stuff and searched through those instead. Clemy also went hunting. She was a bit older than Amy and Joshua but she still enjoyed it. Thomas and Mark weren’t interested in looking even though Jed tried to push them to it.
About an hour later Amy, Joshua and Clemy came back with their eggs. Joshua was giving Amy an odd look. Jed waved the kids over to look at what they had found. Clemy hadn’t found so many eggs while Amy and Joshua had quite a few more.
“Oh look at that! You three have done a good job,” Jed replied with a smile. Mark then peeked over their shoulders and he took two eggs from Joshua. In return he got an odd look from his brother.
“Want t’ do sum egg rollin’, sibs? It’s fun!” Mark then asked.
“You can’t do egg rollin’, because you doesn’t have any eggs, you egghead,” Thomas then interrupted.
“We can share. Right, Joshua?”
“If you insist, bro,” Joshua replied with a sigh.
Amy then tugged on Jed’s arm and gave him puppy eyes. Jed looked down at her with a warm smile and gave her a pat on the head.
“What is it princess?” he then asked. Amy shined up and told him about a funny looking egg she had found. She then went through her basket and showed it to him. Heyes stared at the object in her hand. It was diamond! Jed frowned at her while Heyes was doing something which looked like grabby hands.
“Where’d ya found it?” he then asked.
“… and may I have a look?” Heyes interrupted.
“But it’s mine! I found it!”
“Yes you found it but…“ Jed got quiet as he collected his thoughts.
“… but that’s a very special egg, dear. It can contain something really valuable, something adults can use. The Easter Bunny must have dropped it as he was laying out eggs for children,” Heyes continued with a dimpled smile. Jed shot his former partner a thankful look.
“OK then… but I want something for it!” Amy commanded. Claire had to hide a small smile which spread over her face and Clementine (the older) had a very warm look on her face too. Georgette on the other hand gave the “egg” a greedy look.
“What do you say about some sweets and chocolate?” Jed suggested. Amy shook her head however and Jed tried again. “I can read you two stories tonight,” he then added. Amy still shook her head. Jed was getting a bit annoyed when Heyes once again intervened. “What’d you want, Amy?” he asked. Amy smiled. “I want to be up tonight and watch the stars with Pa!” she exclaimed. With a chuckle Jed agreed to those terms.
Later on when the children was out doing egg rolling down a nearby hill, Heyes and Jed were inside with Clementine and Georgette discussing the “egg problem”. Georgette suggested they would sell the diamond or dig out there for more. Heyes pointed out with a smile that it wasn’t a raw diamond, it had been processed. Georgette stuck with her suggestion to sell it however.
“Boys, I believe I have to agree with her,” Clementine said. “It might bring out some money for your businesses.” Heyes and Jed exchanged a look. After a silent discussion they came to an agreement.
“We should turn it in,” Heyes then said.
“Yeah, we’re honest people,” Jed added. Georgette rolled her eyes while Clementine nodded slowly. She knew the guys had a good point.
“However… it could have come from a jeweler, from the looks of it. We should go out there and keep looking. Perhaps we can find more…” Heyes begins but gets interrupted by a glare from Jed. “… to get a bigger reward that is,” Heyes then concluded.
After their discussion they went out of the house. Jed searched for Amy and after he found her, he inquired about where she had found the special egg. She gave him some childish directions and he was off. Sometime later they found the location and begun looking. It wasn’t easy and a bit tiring for their old backs. Jed however, did not let his eyes away from Georgette. He didn’t believe her reassurance. After a few moments they had found a ruby and two opals in addition to the earlier found diamond. As they were walking back Jed gave Georgette an odd look.
“What’s it Jed?” she asked.
“Give it back, George” he simply stated. With a dramatic sigh he handed over the topaz she had attempted to take with her.
Several hours later Georgette, Clementine and her husband left. Georgette had tried to find the jewels but Jed had placed them in his safe. She left a bit displeased. Clementine on the other hand thanked them for a great day. Heyes and his family decided to stay over as Jed and he was off to the sheriff’s office in the morning about the jewels they had found. While Jed was overseeing the sleeping preparations Clem went to speak with her mother. She found her in the kitchen. She was a bit nervous and stood there for some time. Then Sarah saw her.
“What is it darling?” she asked.
“Oh… it isn’t a very big thing really… I shouldn’t have bothered you,” Clem replied.
“Honey… talk with me.”
“It’s just this boy in school... I really like to be around him but he doesn’t pay me any interest. What should I do? I really want to get to know him better,” Clem blunted out. Sarah smiled because she knew that look. Her little daughter was having her first crush.
“You must catch his interest. The best way of doing that is talking to him.”
“But he won’t talk with me…”
“Have you said hello and introduced yourself?”
“No… not really.”
“If you do that, you’ll get his attention.”
At the break of dawn Heyes and Jed walked to the stable and mounted their horses. Heyes would have preferred a carriage however but Jed’s teasing made him change his mind. They then rode off and after half an hour they arrived to town. They immediately went to the Sheriff’s Office. Outside of it they dismounted and bound the horses before they stepped in. There was a rather upset man in there that was bothering the sheriff. He didn’t look impressed. As they walked in the sheriff waved them closer to the other man’s irritation.
“Mr. Curry, Mr. Heyes. What brings you here? Not up to something bad I hope?” the young, brown haired man asked with a smile.
“We’re too old fer that,” Jed replied.
“Depends on what is bad, though” Heyes added with a smile. They approached the table and Heyes flashed the other man an excusing smile. He then looked over at Jed who placed a sack with the jewels on the table.
“We found some misplaced things near the ranch,” Heyes explained. The sheriff took the sack and poured the jewels into his hand. He stared at it for a few moments before he retained his composure. The other, well dressed man stared as well but for other reasons.
“Those are mine! You thieves!” he exclaimed.
“We’re no thieves. We have quit that,” Jed replied and glared at the other man.
“Calm down! I do not believe Mr. Curry and Mr. Heyes have stolen anything. If they did, they would hardly give it back, correct?” the sheriff then replied. The other man nodded slowly and tried to take the jewels. The sheriff quickly took them away.
“Not unless you can verify those are yours, sir.” The man made a face and went out.
“Thanks for helping me deal with that guy. He has hanged around here for hours, looking for his jewels.”
“Good thing we found them then,” Heyes replied.
“You’re actually honest now. Never thought that would happen.”
“Ya get tired o’ runnin’ after some time,” Jed answered.
The sheriff told them that after he had spoken with the other man they would get a reward for bringing the jewels in. Heyes on the other hand wasn’t pleased that and after a short discussion the sheriff agreed to give them a smaller reward in advance. They took their money and bid the sheriff farewell and left the office to return to the ranch.
(Message edited by GiddyUp On 04/20/2012 4:03 PM) "I like it when you worry Kid. I can trust you to look after me better." - Hannibal Heyes.
Posts : 705
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 55
Location : Birmingham
|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:31 am|| |
The Curate’s Egg – A British expression derived from a famous Victorian cartoon in ‘Punch’ magazine, meaning something which has a mix of good and bad qualities; just like reformed criminals...
Kid flicked a greasy lump from his arm. “Heyes, everyone’s lookin’ at us,” he muttered under his breath. “We’re covered in corned beef.”
“Stop complaining! You got us roped into the stupidest plan in the world. Blowing up the building wasn’t going to harm a photograph in a safe. Why didn’t you just get me to open it?”
“I didn’t have time. When Clara blurted out that Clarence was bein’ blackmailed by ‘Seth the Butcher,’ and he’d gone to sort it out once and for all. I just reacted. How was I to know she meant a real butcher, and that it wasn’t a nickname?”
Heyes took off his hat, shaking gobs of fat from the crown. “You’re fooling nobody. It’s Clara you’re interested in protecting.”
“Clarence’s a man of the cloth now, and he’s made good under a false name. His past is bein’ held against him, so he thought he’d use his old skills and blow the evidence to smithereens,” Kid paused, “besides, it ain’t fair on Clara to be forced into marryin’ someone she doesn’t want, just to save her brother from jail.”
“Yeah? Well, it’s a good job he went straight because he’s useless as an explosives man. The butcher’s shop is a burning wreck and Seth still has the photograph,” Heyes dusted more chunks from his shoulders “and if we hadn’t jumped into those storage barrels out the back we’d all be in jail. Dear, God; it wasn’t bad enough that there was meat flying everywhere, we had to sit in it too!”
“My first thought was to save Clarence.
“Kid, the whole problem here is that you didn’t think; not with your head anyway.” He indicated across the road with his head and shooed away the delighted looking dog slobbering at his boots. “Let’s go for a drink. I need to work out how to sort this mess once and for all.”
“Mr. Roebuck? Seth Roebuck?” The butcher smiled at the dark eyed man in the brown suit. Heyes continued. “I’m an assessor for the Pearl Mutual Insurance Company. I believe you made a claim?”
“I sure did. You got here real quick.”
Heyes smiled casually, trying to disguise the urgency to complete his mission before the real insurance agent turned up and thanking his lucky stars that Roebuck had been boasting of his coming windfall in the saloon. “I was in the area. Now, why don’t you tell me what happened? This place sure is a mess.”
Seth bristled indignantly, shifting his braces over his expansive belly, the light catching his bald pate. “My business was blown up. This is my home and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with it. There’s just the lack of a woman’s touch, that’s all.”
Heyes arched his eyebrows. “The house or the owner?”
Seth wobbled his jowls indignantly, increasing his resemblance to a constipated bulldog. “Men outnumber women ten to one about here. It ain’t so easy to find a wife.”
Heyes nodded. “Sorry. I guess being a married man; I take things like that for granted.”
“Well, I hope to be part of that club soon. There’s a real sweet, little girl in town I’ve been wooin’. I can’t wait for the day I carry Clara over the threshold.”
Heyes slipped into his best poker face to avoid giving an indication of his views on Roebuck’s ‘wooing’ techniques. “So you’re sure she’ll say ‘yes,’ then?” he queried.
Roebuck nodded. “She’s been real skittish, but I think I’ve managed to break down her resistance at last.” He mopped his constantly clammy forehead with a grimy handkerchief. “This time next week I’ll make an honest woman of her.”
“I’m sure that this time next week she’ll be a very happy woman.” Heyes smiled. “I hope she’s not after the insurance payout. You want to be careful; you don’t want a wife who only wants you for your money.”
Roebuck gave an unsavoury smile. “Oh, I’m not worried. Clara ain’t the type to marry for money. She’s as pure as they come. Her brother’s a Catholic Priest, you know, I met her as part of the congregation. The money’s just a little sweetener for her. She’s suddenly got a whole lot keener. I’ve won her over at last.”
“Good for you,” twinkled Heyes. “Now, can you find your original insurance schedule?”
“It’s in the safe down at the shop. It’ll be fine. The safe’ll withstand anything other than a direct blast. Come on.”
Heyes looked shocked. “Walk about smoking remains in my suit? It’ll get ruined. Can I wait here? I have some paperwork I can get on with while you find it.”
“But you’ll need to see the shop anyway, won’t you?”
“Not until I’m sure you’re covered, I won’t.” Heyes shifted a stack of dirty dishes aside and sat at the table. “I’ve been caught like that before. I once ruined a pair of five dollar shoes wading through a flooded basement only to find the policy had expired. Go get it. I’ll be wating.”
Kid looked down at the photograph of the two men posing stiffly beside an attractive, young brunette on a chaise longue. “So that was Harvey Metcalf. I never did meet him, but I did see the lawmen posin’ with his body in the newspaper.”
Clara blinked huge, china blue eyes at him. “I never stopped worrying about Clarence. I was so happy when he came home and we were able to start again. I thought we had put it all behind us until Seth came along. He’s Harv’s cousin, and had a copy of the only picture of the infamous Metcalf and Muphy.”
“He’s very religious. He turns up at almost every mass,” added Clarence.
Kid tossed the picture into the fire, watching the flames grab the curling edges, before consuming it in a hungry orgy of incandescence. “Well, it’s gone now and hopefully there are no more copies,” he grinned across at Clarence’s worried face. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your face on top of a dog collar. Father Clarence O’Rourke. That’s a far cry from the Sticky Murphy who laid low at Devil’s Hole.”
Clarence shrugged. “I was young, stupid and greedy. Seeing what happened to Harv made me see sense. I thank my lucky stars I bumped into you two. I was at my wits end worrying about Clara.”
“Well, Heyes got the picture for you. Now we need to make sure that the butcher’s in no position to start tellin’ the law what your real name is. You don’t need anyone diggin’ into your past.”
“But how? All he’s got to do is speak up. If they start investigating Clarence, he’s finished,” wailed Clara. “I really think we should just run away.”
“Well, that’s still an option, but Heyes has a plan. Let’s try that first. You don’t want to spend your whole life running, do you?”
Kid stood with his arms folded alongside Clarence, forming a burly wall of muscle behind the petite blonde woman knocking tentatively on the butcher’s door. His initial delight at seeing the woman he coveted faded at the sight of her steely-eyed henchmen. Seth shuffled uncomfortably before he pulled the door open. “Clara?” his voice rang with uncertainty. “It’s great to see you.”
“Is it?” she barked. “Can we come in? We need to get this over with.”
Seth’s bloodshot eyes darted over to Kid. “Who’s he?”
“An old friend. You want to talk about a wedding? Let us in?”
Seth narrowed his eyes and stepped back to allow the little deputation to enter. Clara pursed her lips, glancing around at the dereliction and neglect. The burly man scuttled over to the range, rapidly folding away the wooden clothes horse festooned with grey long johns and a butcher’s apron covered in bloodstains. He hurriedly whipped a shirt from an armchair before slapping its lumps into submission, raising billowing clouds of chocking dust. “Please, take seat.”
Clara crinkled her nose in disdain. “I’d rather stand, thank you.”
“As you please, Miss Murphy.”
“I keep telling you! My name is O’Rourke, not Murphy.”
Seth shook his head. “Nope. Harv sent that picture home to his ma and I kept it when she died,” he darted a look at Clarence. “It says who they are on the back, in Harv’s own hand. You can’t argue with that. It’s the same writin’ as he wrote to his ma in. That’s the same as Harv tesifyin’ from the grave.”
“You see we have a problem,” Clarence cut in. “My sister and I moved around a lot. My pa was a journeyman labourer. We spent our lives moving from town to town. There isn’t really anyone who can testify that I’m not Sticky Murphy, but then I suppose there’s nobody who can testify that I am either.”
“Except for my picture,” Seth sneered. “Well, Clara? What’s it to be?”
Kid reached into his jacket and pulled out a photograph. He stared down at the little sepia group with a smile. “I got a copy of that picture. Harv’s wife was a beauty, wasn’t she? I read in the paper that she died in childbirth. Sad, real sad.”
“You knew Harv?” demanded Seth.
Kid gave the man his most cherubic look. “Never saw him in my life, except in the papers. This is the O’Rourke’s’ version of the picture.”
Seth puffed out his chest triumphantly. “Well, that proves it! Why would they have copy of that picture if they weren’t involved?”
“I was a young curate when Mrs. Metcalf needed comfort in her dying days. She wanted me to see her son. It was important to her that someone somewhere saw him as a man and not just as some kind of desperado.”
Seth snorted. “Yeah? Well, why’re you in it then?”
Clarence stretched out an arm and took the likeness from Kid. “Me? I think you’re mistaken. I’m not in this picture. See for yourself.”
The little group watched the jowls start to tremble before Seth’s face turned puce. “No! This just ain’t possible.”
Clarence flicked a look at Kid. “I told you. I’m not Sticky Murphy. That picture proves that I’m not.”
Seth turned the picture to the room, jabbing a sausage-like finger at the portrait. “That’s me! How’d you get me in it? I wasn’t there.”
Kid did his best to look confused. “How could anyone put somebody in a photograph who wasn’t there? Do you know, Clarence?”
“Beats me. I study the bible. How would I know anything about all this modern stuff. I look deep inside for the truth.”
Clara stamped her foot. “Seth! This stops now. Blackmail is no way to find a wife. I’m not marrying you, so go away and leave us in peace.”
“We’ll soon see about that! I had my safe brought up from the shop today. I got my own copy.”
He rushed out if the room, only to reappear looking even more harassed, clutching a postcard size image. “This just ain’t possible! How? I never posed for a picture with Harv in my life.”
Kid shifted his weight onto one leg. “The camera never lies, Mr. Roebuck. That’s your face in both copies and that was locked in your safe. You said it yourself, the writing on the back is as good as Harv testifyin’ from the grave. The way I see it, it takes a real lowlife to try to force a woman to marry him. You put that with the photographic evidence, I reckon the law won’t have a problem believin’ you’re an outlaw on the run.” His face dropped into a cold smile. “But if they ain’t gonna deal with you, I will. I don’t hold with your marriage plans. This stops... Right now.”
“Who ARE you?” Seth tried to bluster through his nerves to present a front of confidence.
“That ain’t as important as who the law thinks you might be, Mr. Murphy.”
“My name is Roebuck!”
“That picture says different,” Kid tilted his head and gave the man a hard stare, “and the law’ll have that ten minutes after your next marriage ‘proposal’ to Miss O’Rourke. I’m keepin’ a copy to make sure of that.”
“Do you think we’ll hear from him again?” Clara’s sleek, blonde hair caught the sunlight.
Her brother handed her a cup of tea and patted her shoulder affectionately. “I’ll ask the bishop for a transfer. I’m so sorry to put you in that situation, Clara. We’ll move on. I don’t know what we’d have done without you two.”
Heyes shrugged, a smile twitching at his cheeks. “I enjoyed it. I’ve never studied photography before. It was fascinating. Who knew you could take part of an image and superimpose it on another? Apparently it’s one of the flim flams fake psychics use to make ghost pictures.”
“But what if that’s not enough? What if he comes back? Clarence’s past won’t withstand too much scrutiny, despite what we told Seth.”
Heyes gave Clara a mysterious smile. “Well, I think I can help you there,” he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a photograph. He folded his arms with a satisfied glint and watched the collection of curious faces pouring over the picture of a line of young priests. “Look on the far right, then turn it over and read the name.”
Clarence pointed at the young man at the end of the line. He had a shock of black hair, a round face and fat cheeks which had yet to drop into jowls. He turned it reading out the copperplate inscription on the back. “Class of ’69 leave the seminary,” his finger traced along the line of names, stopping to punctuate one with a jab. “Father Seth Metcalf!?”
Clarence sucked in a breath of surprise and stared back at the young face smiling out at him. “It’s him. It is! He’s a priest?”
“It would seem so,” grinned Heyes, “and he’s using a false name, and lying about his past. My guess is that he did something pretty bad. You don’t usually keep a photograph in a safe unless you either want to protect it or hide it.”
“So, he’s not going to want folks diggin’ into his past either?” queried Kid. “You didn’t change this one too, did you, Heyes?”
Heyes shook his head. “Nope. I swear I didn’t. He’s got a past, we just don’t know what it is.”
Clarence ran his hand distractedly through his straight, blond hair. “A priest. What are the chances of that?”
“You did tell us that he was a regular attender at mass,” replied Heyes.
“His real name is Metcalf? Do you think he stole like Harv?” demanded Clara.
“Who knows? Whatever it was, he’s none too keen on anybody finding out, so it’s a good back up to my doctored picture.”
“I’ll write to a friend to see what he can find out,” mused Clarence. “You can’t trust anybody these days, can you? The parish priest is an ex-bank robber and the butcher is a clergyman gone wrong. We’re all as bad as each other.”
“Are we?” asked Heyes. “What’s all that about the celebrating in heaven when a sinner repents?”
“D’you think there’s as big party downstairs when a churchman goes bad?” chuckled Kid.
“It all goes to show that there’s good and bad in us all, I guess,” murmured Clarence thoughtfully. “At least I’ve got a theme for my sermon on Sunday.”
“Sorry we’ll miss that.” Kid grinned. “We’ll be gone by then, but I don’t want to go to heaven with all those good folks anyway. I've decided I want to stay with Heyes.”
(Message edited by silverkelpie On 04/21/2012 6:03 AM) Sarah Whyment
Date Posted:04/20/2012 5:33 PM
Posts : 669
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 36
Location : Arizona
|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:12 pm|| |
Okay, let's see how posting works here!
Kid and me rode into another look-alike town in search of work. It was September 1st and beginning to get chilly at night so we figured we oughta find someplace with a roof to sleep in. I had a little money left over from our last job, enough for a meal and a bed if we weren’t too particular.
I hadn’t seen a marker on the road but we were in Wyoming. Didn’t see a name over the sheriff’s office, neither, and I hoped that was in our favor. We were still wanted, even after all these years.
We hitched our horses to the rail in front of a hotel in a seedy-looking part of town and got us a room on the second floor, facing the street as always. It cost me half my money but fifty cents can go far in a place like this. Still, we needed to find work. The railroad was a possibility, so were the coal mines up in the hills. It was late in the afternoon so we decided to eat first, then ask around. Well, to be fair, Kid insisted we eat first; it made no never mind to me. We hadn’t eaten on the trail—I said we had to be smart and save the jerky we had. Kid didn’t like that idea though he knew it made sense so he reluctantly agreed, but now his stomach wouldn’t shut up so I humored him.
“You know we ain’t got enough for a steak and all the fixings,” I told my hungry partner.
“Yeah, but I gotta eat.” Kid looks almost angry when he hasn’t eaten for a whole day and he’s not the most accommodating fella to be around when that happens.
“Fifty cents ain’t gonna go very far,” I pointed out, for the second time. The first time had been in our hotel room and Kid glared at me then. Now, he just sighed.
“I know. But I’m tired and I’m hungry and…” He shook his head. We’d had the same conversation too many times over the years. There was no point in saying it all again. We both knew each other’s lines so well, we probably coulda gone on stage with it and earned some money that way, if we’d been real desperate.
“Well, there’s one place we can get a decent meal.” I knew he wasn’t fond of that kind of food but it would fill him up. For a while, anyhow. I smiled, hoping to encourage him.
He knew me well, that’s for sure. Suspicious, he asked, “Where?”
Pointing with my head, I said, “Over there.”
Kid looked and grimaced. I waited patiently and let him argue it out with himself. A minute later, resigned to the inevitable, he said, “Let’s go.”
We walked across the street and passed under an arch that was painted red with black squiggly lines running down the sides that were supposed to mean something and a yellow dragon that decorated the top. As soon as we entered the Chinatown, we were assaulted by smells and sounds that were as strange to us as our faces were to the local inhabitants. Neither of us liked being stared at but now that we were there, our pride wouldn’t let us retreat. I looked down one side of the street and Kid the other, searching for a restaurant, hoping to find one right quick. Both of us were uncomfortable with the looks being thrown our way; they were different from the covert glances we usually got when we entered a Chinese section of a town.
“Kid, you see a restaurant yet?” I said outta the side of my mouth as I continued to scan the storefronts as we walked further into the densely-populated area.
“D’you get the feeling everyone’s staring at us?”
“I always feel that way in a strange town,” my ever-watchful partner replied.
“Yeah, but something feels different here.”
At that, Kid turned to look at me. “Like what?”
“I’m not sure. But I get the feeling we’re not welcome here.”
We walked a half block before Kid said, “You’re right. Chinamen usually don’t look right at us but they’re doin’ that here. I wonder why,” he mused.
“I dunno. You think we should go on or should we go try our luck at a saloon?” I left it up to him to decide, since he was the hungry one.
Kid frowned. “I don’t think it’s us they’re starin’ at; I think it’s ‘cos we’re white men.”
I actually understood what he meant. “All right.” I trusted his ability to size up danger and keep us out of it.
“Hey! There’s one!” Kid pointed to a building on his side of the street. A large glass window showed several people inside eating. We approached the door, looked at each other and shrugged, and went inside.
All conversation halted as every single person inside openly stared at us. Some of the Chinamen even glared, before lowering their eyes and resuming their meals in silence.
We walked up to the counter to read the menu that was printed on a board propped against the back wall. I only knew a few of the foods listed but it didn’t matter—the price was more important than anything else. I looked at Kid. “See anything that appeals to you?”
A small man in a gray shirt that reached halfway to his knees hovered near us, inscrutable. His head was shaved ‘cept for a pigtail that poked out from under a skullcap.
Kid turned his back on the menu to survey the customers. Or, more precisely, what the customers were eating. Most of them were slurping from bowls filled with white rice topped with small pieces of vegetables, or maybe it was fish; I couldn’t tell. Their food was certainly strange but I suppose a good, juicy steak would seem strange to them.
“I guess I’ll have that,” my ravenous cousin said, pointing to a plate that had a sort of pancake on it.
“Ah. So. Egg foo yung,” the man behind the counter startled us by saying. “Velee good choice. You want one pancake or two?”
I searched the menu board for the price but didn’t see it listed. “How much for two?” I asked.
I could tell the man was sizing us up. Well, we certainly didn’t look rich so I didn’t think the mark-up would be all that great. “One dolla for two. Velee good price for you, sirs,” he said as he bowed to us and showed us a fake smile.
Kid snorted. He knew a con when he heard one. “We only want two,” he said, “not a whole chicken coop’s worth.”
The Chinaman tried to keep his puzzlement off his face and almost succeeded.
“My friend here means that price is too high,” I told him, swallowing my laughter. “We’ll pay twenty cents for two.”
I knew my opening gambit wouldn’t be accepted. I’d been in enough Chinatowns to know how to play the game. Find out the asking price first, counteroffer with a real low price, then gradually work your way to a middle ground that was acceptable to both sides. But above all, don’t show any impatience or anger, for that’d mean you’d never get what you wanted. Bargaining with a Chinaman was kinda like fighting a war. In fact, I’d seen a book once by some fella who wrote that war was an art. I woulda liked to have read it but a deputy recognized us and I had to leave it behind when we climbed out the window of that hotel room.
Kid settled back to watch the fun. Some of the men sitting closest to us also seemed to be listening. I heard them mutter something that sounded like “gwayloh” but had no idea what it meant.
“Oh, sir, egg foo yung velee difficult to make, ingledients velee expensive. But, for you, I give you good discount. Eighty cent, okay?”
I pretended to consider it for a second. “Hmm. I don’t think eggs are that expensive. Other restaurants only charge twenty-five cents. So,” I sighed heavily, “we can pay you that. Okay?”
“But, I take special care for your dinner, give you plenty scallions and pork. Pork not so cheap now. And I give you clean plate and fork, no chopstick.” The man paused. “So…sixty cent, yes?”
I cocked my head as if thinking. “No…we appreciate the pork and scallions, but we can use chopsticks. So… Ow!” I rubbed my ankle where Kid had kicked me.
“I can’t,” Kid whispered. “I want a fork and knife.”
I knew the man had heard. “Well, since my friend here would like a fork instead, how about thirty cents? That okay with you?” I smiled.
By now, the Chinaman knew that we weren’t going to be scammed so easily. He reassessed us and said, “All light. I give you good deal. Two egg foo yung for fifty cent. That my last price.”
Fifty cents was all we had. If we gave him that, our horses would have to spend the night outside and go hungry. They deserved better than that. But I knew better than to try and get sympathy here. Chinamen didn’t treat animals the same as us. They even ate dogs! I had to use a different tactic. “Well, like I said before, we’ve eaten in other Chinese restaurants and they only charged forty cents for two. We’re strangers here but,” I shook my head as if in grudging acknowledgment, “we can manage to pay you forty cents also. And that’s my last offer.” I waited to see what would happen.
The Chinaman made a show of it. “Oh, oh, I make no profit tonight. But for you, dear sirs, I give you best egg foo yung for forty cent. You no live in Rock Splings, I show you we good people here. You sit. I make your dinner velee quick.”
“Thank you,” I said, much relieved. I fished out the coins from my vest pocket and paid, then went to join Kid at a table away from the window.
Soon enough, our meal came, along with one fork, one knife, and two chopsticks. Kid laughed as I unsuccessfully tried to cut the thick pancake with the chopsticks, before graciously letting me use his knife. He refused to let me use his fork, though, and I had to struggle with the chopsticks and endure the half-hidden smiles and amused murmurings of the Chinamen surreptitiously watching us eat. At least Kid enjoyed his meal.
On our way back to our room, we stopped at a saloon. The bartender eyed us suspiciously when we asked about jobs. “You won’t find no work here,” he said in a thick brogue. “Them Chinamen done took all the jobs,” he added bitterly.
“Yeah,” said another man standing at the bar nearby. “The railroad pays them less than us to dig out the coal from the mines. It ain’t right, I tell you!” He turned around and, raising his mug of beer, shouted,” To the Knights of Labor!”
Several other men boisterously shouted back. “Hear, hear!” And, “Out with the Celestials!” And all of a sudden, the mood turned sour and threatening. Kid and me looked at each other and, without another word, left the saloon.
Back in our hotel room, we discussed what to do. Well, argued might be more accurate. I was all for leaving town in the morning but Kid wanted to go out to the mines and ask there directly.
“It ain’t a good idea,” I said, trying to persuade him. “You saw the mood of those men.”
“Yeah, Heyes, but we’re broke. If we can get hired on, even at those wages, we can work for a week and then leave.”
“You know you mining’s hard on the back,” I reminded him. He disliked manual labor as much as me and I couldn’t understand why he was being stubborn about it now.
“Yeah, but we’re…broke!” he repeated, much louder this time. “How we gonna eat with no money?”
So that was it. “What’s wrong with hunting out on the trail?” I asked in what I thought was a reasonable voice.
“Nothing,” he said. “But I’d like to sleep in a bed, now that winter’s nigh.”
I knew from the tone of his voice that I wasn’t gonna make headway tonight. “Let’s talk about it in the morning, okay?” I stripped to my long johns and got under the covers.
He knew that was just postponing the argument but he was tired, too. “Good night, Heyes,” was all Kid said as he finished undressing and climbed into the other side of the bed.
Without money for breakfast, we left the hotel in the morning to check on our horses at the livery. On our way there, we saw groups of miners walking the streets.
“Shouldn’t they be workin’ now?” Kid asked.
“It’s Wednesday, right?” Kid nodded in answer to my question. I looked at my pocketwatch; the time was 9:55 in the morning. “Far as I know, they should be.”
More and more men were appearing on the street. Then, we heard a bell ring but it wasn’t from a church. A quick look at Kid showed he was as curious as me so we followed the crowd, staying a ways behind them in case we needed to make a quick departure. We were going in the same direction as the livery, anyhow, and ended up at a white building that announced itself as the Knights of Labor Meeting Hall.
We didn’t need to go inside to hear what was going on. Someone was riling up the miners something fierce. Something about how they had to drive all the pigtails outta Rock Springs and outta Wyoming. That they were taking the jobs of good, honest white folk. That they had to send all the Celestials back to China where they belonged or... There was a lot of hooting and hollering then and we couldn’t hear the speaker no more.
But I’d heard enough. “Kid, this ain’t good. We need to leave. Now.”
Kid was torn. “But if the Chinese go, they’ll need men to work the mines. We’ll get jobs real easy, Heyes.”
“You really think they’re gonna leave?” I asked him incredulously.
“We leave when we know we’re not wanted. Why would they be any different?”
“’Cos they got homes and families, Kid. We don’t.”
He was silent for a moment, pondering. But before he could say anything, I added, “You know we can’t afford to get involved in this. It ain’t our concern.”
Grudgingly, Kid nodded. “I know, but…”
“But what? They’re Chinamen. We got enough problems of our own. Don’t need to get involved in theirs.” Kid wasn’t thinking clearly—he never does when he sees someone in need. But I could tell Rock Springs was a powder keg and if there’s one thing I know besides lock picking and safe-cracking, it’s explosives. Maybe I’m not as good as Kyle with dynamite but this town was gonna blow like a bottle of nitro. And the longer we stayed, the more dangerous it got.
“Kid, you can’t save the entire Chinese race,” I pointed out.
“Ain’t lookin’ to do that. Just…” he paused.
“What?” I asked, as he looked at me with that stubborn look he got when he wasn’t gonna be swayed from whatever was going on in that mind of his. Sometimes I thought I knew him so well and other times, I thought I’d never figure him out. I fleetingly wondered if he ever thought that way about me but I had more important things to think about right now. “What do you wanna do?”
He looked at me almost defiantly. “We should warn them.”
“Who?” But I had a sinking feeling I knew who he meant.
“The people at that restaurant.”
“They probably know already.”
“But what if they don’t? Heyes, they were nice to us. They didn’t have to give us a good deal on that egg foo yung.”
I sighed. My partner was right. They had treated us fairly. I didn’t see as we owed them, not exactly, since we’d paid for the meal, but I knew Kid wasn’t gonna let this go. Maybe we could do it quickly and then hightail it outta town. “All right. But we need to be quick. And then we leave. Okay?”
Kid had a big smile on his face. “Yeah, Heyes. Thanks.” He strode off towards the Chinatown and in a couple minutes we’d passed under the arch. It was eerily silent and no one was on the street.
“Maybe they already know,” I said.
“We’re almost there. Might as well keep goin’,” my practical-minded partner replied.
The atmosphere was ominous. My hand found its way to the butt of my gun and stayed there. Kid just kept walking. Finally, we reached the restaurant. The door was locked.
Kid knocked but there was no response. “Hey! You inside! We wanna talk to you!”
Still no response. He tried again. “Open up! We gotta tell you something!”
“No one’s there, Kid. Let’s go.”
He wasn’t ready to give up just yet. “Please! It’s important!” He waited but it was completely quiet inside. No one was there.
“They must’ve already left. It’s time for us to go also. C’mon.” Reluctantly, slowly, turning around frequently in case somebody showed himself, Kid followed me back to the livery.
The only people we saw was a big group of white men, musta been at least a hundred, coming from the other direction. They carried rifles and shotguns and some held torches. We ducked into an alley to avoid them. Once they were past us, we ran to the livery, saddled up our horses, and galloped outta Rock Springs as if a posse were after us.
A hasty glance at my pocketwatch showed it was 2:30 in the afternoon.Author’s Notes:
* Early in the morning of September 2, 1885, a number of white men beat up some Chinese workers at a mine outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming, injuring two Chinese miners, one of whom later died. The white miners returned to the town and by the middle of the afternoon, they had entered the Chinatown area of Rock Springs and begun killing the Chinese there. At least 28 Chinese, and likely more, were killed. See Wikipedia for a detailed chronology.
* Use of the words "pigtails" and "Celestials" in this story is based on contemporary 1885 articles in the Wyoming press and "The New York Times" and is meant to represent the viewpoints of the characters of the time period.
* The speech of the man in the Chinese restaurant is based on my knowledge of how native Chinese speakers speak English, which comes from having taught English in China for three and a half years. It is not meant to be offensive and I apologize if anyone takes it that way.
* "Gwayloh" is really "gweilo," a Cantonese term for "foreign devil," which is what whites were called in China way back when.
* For a detailed look from the Chinese perspective of the Rock Springs Massacre of September 2, 1885, visit: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5043
* For an idea of the anti-Chinese sentiment of the period, visit: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5042
Last edited by Ghislaine Emrys on Fri May 04, 2012 6:08 pm; edited 2 times in total
Posts : 425
Join date : 2012-04-22
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|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:46 pm|| |
“Mr. Carson. I have had no less than three complaints about your conduct in the infirmary the other day.” Mitchell informed his head guard. “Do you care to elaborate?”
“Yessir, Warden.” Carson replied. “Heyes, once again, forgot the rules right out there on the work floor, in front of everybody. I didn’t think it was a good idea for the inmates to start thinkin’ that it was alright to assault a guard for any reason, so Mr. Thompson and I made sure Heyes got the message. The rest of the inmates now know that he’s spending some time at the infirmary—as a patient this time, so they all got the message too.”
“Why did you take Thompson with you?” Mitchell asked him. “He’s still quite new here; why not take one of the more experienced guards, like Pearson or Davis?”
“Because Thompson was the injured party.” Carson reasoned. “I felt he deserved restitution.”
“Hmmm.” Mitchell nodded. “I want you to understand that I have no qualms about the way you manage the prison proper, Mr. Carson. I have no trouble absorbing complaints from bleeding hearts like Reece and Morin suggesting that your methods are too brutal. Most of the inmates here are willing to comply with the rules once they’ve spent a day or two in the dark cell, or loose their privileges for a month.” Here Mitchell gives a resigned sigh and shakes his head. “But there are always those few who refuse to accept the inevitable and then we have to be tougher on them if we want to have any hope at all of breaking them in. If corporal punishment is all they understand then that’s what we’ll give them. Heyes has been a particularly difficult egg to crack and I certainly understand your need to get tough with him. I would even go so far as to say that you are doing a fine job of keeping everyone in line and I wouldn’t want you to feel that you need to change your methods in any way.”
Carson nodded, accepting the compliment but then wondering why he was here.
“The only thing I would suggest is that you use a little more tact next time.” Mitchell explained. “I mean, really Mr. Carson…delving out punishment in front of the Sister and her young novice couldn’t help but cause a stir. Indeed, Sister Julia was very—uncharitable in her level of complaint.” Here Mitchell groaned and rolled his eyes as another thought occurred to him. “And I’m probably going to be hearing an earful from the Mother Superior too. God Dammit!”
Carson shifted a little uncomfortably but remained silent. Mitchell sighed.
“That’s all Mr. Carson.” He concluded. “Just in future when you need to discipline an inmate, please make sure you do it when no one from outside the prison faculty is present to witness it. Outsiders just don’t understand.”
“Yessir Warden.” Carson agreed. “Next time I’ll be more ‘tactful’.”
“That’s all I ask.” Mitchell concurred. “How is Heyes by the way?”
Carson allowed a small smile to invade his lips. “He’ll be a while recovering Warden.”
“GOOD!” Mitchell responded with some heat. “That’ll be all Mr. Carson.”
Posts : 1508
Join date : 2012-04-22
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|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:33 am|| |
Eye brows furrowed under the black hat. “Kid, do you remember the Williams job?”
“The Williams job?” Curry stared out the hotel room window, watching the storm with its torrential rains flooding the street of the small town.
Heyes nodded, as he concentrated on the paper in front of him.
“What Williams job?” Kid asked, as he turned toward his partner.
“You know… the Williams job. How much did we get outta the safe?”
“Oh, you mean the Williams JOB!”
Heyes looked puzzled at his partner. “What did you think I meant?”
“I was thinkin’ ‘bout the different jobs we’ve done while waitin’ for amnesty.”
“Oh…” Heyes chewed on the end of the pen. “So how much did we get outta the safe at Williams?”
“Think it was around $10,200.” Curry stood up and glanced over Heyes’ shoulder. “What are you doin’?”
“Figuring out all the jobs we pulled and how much money we took from them.”
“All the jobs?” Kid asked.
“Well, all the jobs I can remember.”
“You have the $50,000 from the Columbine train?”
“No! That money’s at the bottom of a lake somewhere, thanks to Wheat.”
Curry chuckled. “You weren’t doin’ so good openin’ that safe either, Heyes. How about the $22,000 from that payroll train outta Cripple Creek?”
“Got that one down already. Easy to remember the large heists.” Heyes wrote down another name. “At Red Rock we got close to $1,300, right?”
“Which Red Rock are you talkin’ about?” Kid chuckled. “There’s a few of ‘em around, ya know.”
“The one where Wheat thought he would’ve done it better.”
Curry laughed aloud. “And there were a few of ‘em, too!”
Heyes leaned back in his chair and stretched. “I guess there was, huh? I was thinking of the Red Rock where that saloon gal…”
“Hid me when my horse went lame on the way outta town.” Kid sighed at the memory. “What was her name? Martha? Margaret? Maggie!”
Heyes grinned. “Knew you’d remember it by the girl.”
“Not every day a purdy gal makes you stay under the blankets in her bed for that long of time.”
“Back to the job… How much did we get?”
Kid scrunched up his face and closed his eyes as he thought. “We didn’t get much – maybe $900.” He poured two glasses of whiskey and handed one to his partner. “Why are you writin’ down the jobs and how much we took? So a judge can get it and see what to charge us with?”
“No!” Heyes gave Curry a look. “I’m bored and figuring out how much money we should’ve had.”
“We should’ve had?”
“If we had invested or even saved some of it. You know, a nest egg.”
“Ahh… I see. Well, did you figure it out?”
“Yep. Around $843,000.”
Curry whistled. “That much? But we didn’t get to keep all of it.”
“No, but after paying the rest of the gang and for supplies for the Hole and other expenses, we should have over $300,000.”
Kid plodded down on the chair by the window. “$300,000?! Where’d it all go? We don’t have more’n $30 between us now.”
“Well, there was the gambling. I didn’t win all the high stakes games, but didn’t care as much when there was so much in my pocket. The rounds of drinks.”
“Payin’ more than we had to for our favorite gals.”
“Paying off what lawmen and townfolks could be paid to look the other way.”
“Some darn good meals.”
“Few doctor bills in there when someone was shot.” Heyes ran a hand through his hair. “Helping out a few folks who needed it.”
Kid sighed. “That’s depressin’, Heyes. We could’ve bought some land…”
“Or gone to South America.”
“Nah,” Kid disagreed. “We don’t know how to speak South American.”
“Okay, then maybe Australia. Heard they speak English there.”
“$300,000 nest egg… gone!”
“Yep.” Heyes lay on the bed and covered his eyes with his hands. “Wasted away with wine, women, an’ song. Or more like a fine whiskey, women, an’ meals.”
“Thanks, Heyes.” Kid returned to looking out the window at the rain. “Now I’m even more depressed.”
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:17 pm|| |
This is the last of the "cat" stories. It is really two stories together so I can wrap it up. I didn't want to have them entered in the polls since I've over done it a bit this month.
I have been struggling with Heyes' version. Our partially paralyzed corgi, Bode, had two seizures last night and we aren't sure he's going to make it. I've been sitting at my desk here at work going crazy and in my grief, Heyes's voice just spoke to me.
I hope you enjoy it.
Lobo? It was Big Jim Santana that first called me that. When I first came to the Hole, I was a surly kid of fifteen. I kept to myself that first year, so Jim took to calling me Lobo. It’s Mexican for wolf. I’d drifted down on my own from Oklahoma Territory after my stepfather threw me out. My folks had been Boomers. My Pa had given up teaching in Illinois to settle on a piece of piss-poor land out in the middle of nowhere. The army put an end to that. He died trying to stay on that ugly scrap of land. My Ma remarried too fast to a man who didn’t want any competition from me. He threw me out when I turned 13. I was big for my age, though, and had a fifh grade education thanks to my Pa. I got some odd jobs here and there and added to them with what I could steal. Eventually, I drifted into the Hole.
I was there when Heyes joined up. Santana had heard rumors of this skinny kid with a funny name who had a knack for manipulation. That’s what it’s called when you can open a lock like Heyes does. Jim had sent out word that he wanted to meet up with Hannibal Heyes. Heyes heard about it, and caught up with us in a saloon outside of Tie Siding, Wyoming. He must’ve been about twenty at the time. He’d ridden a few years with the Plummer gang and one or two others. It never worked out well for him, though, so he was looking to make a change.
It wasn’t hard to figure out why it never worked for him. He was an arrogant cuss. Walked right up to Big Jim’s table and pulled up a chair without asking. Me and Wheat had seen him coming and pulled iron on him on account of the way he had his gun tied down. He never so much as blinked. Passed us by as though we weren’t there at all and sat down like he owned the place. Big Jim was amused and handled it well. He asked Heyes who he thought he was and Heyes replied, with this big smartass grin, that he was the answer to Jim’s prayers. I guess it was kind of love at first sight for the two of them, because Big Jim starting laughing and Heyes joined right in. Before the rest of us knew it, Heyes was a member of the gang.
The way Big Jim took to Heyes rubbed some of us the wrong way; especially Wheat. He was second in command, but Big Jim never treated him with much respect. Wheat was a good soldier and knew his job, but he lacked imagination. Heyes was a different story. Jim respected him right off. We pulled our first job without dynamite about two weeks after Heyes arrived. We hit the bank just before midnight and nobody knew it’d been robbed until the manager came in the next morning to find the open safe and no money. We were back to the Hole before anyone raised a posse. It was sweet and it went a long way to helping the rest of us accept Heyes.
Heyes was odd, though. They called me Lobo, but he was the lone wolf. He was friendly enough, I guess, but you never really felt like he had much interest in being a part of the gang. He didn’t hang around with the rest of us much. It was more like he figured out that it was a whole lot safer for him than riding alone, so he stayed. He always had his nose in a book. That boy read all the time. I also noticed early on that while he would talk up a blue streak about all sorts of things, he never talked about his past. I used to think he had a pa who beat him like mine did or he’d done something so awful he was trying to forget it. I tried to ask him about it, but I didn’t get anywhere.
It wasn’t long before Big Jim was calling Heyes up to the Leader’s cabin to plan jobs. Soon he’d confab with him right in front of Wheat and the rest of us. Wheat didn’t take that well at all and it began to show. He’d needle Heyes every chance he got. He liked to make fun of him in front of the gang. Little stuff, like referring to him as a snot-nosed brat, nothing big, just egging him on, but Heyes never let it bother him. I asked Heyes about it one time after we got to know each other a bit better. Heyes said that Wheat was like a school yard bully; all hot air and bluster but no action. I thought it was pretty funny, but Wheat didn’t when I told him. Wheat tried to get the rest of us to gang up with him and take Heyes down a peg or two. It didn’t work. We all knew that Heyes opening those safes the way he could, made bank robbing a whole lot safer for the rest of us; so we wanted him healthy. Wheat never did call Heyes out on his own; just kept pissing and moaning about him when he thought he had an audience. Once or twice some new guy would show up and lend an ear to what Wheat was saying. It was always fun to see one of the new boys learn the wisdom of leaving Heyes alone. For a skinny kid, he could sure put up a good fight. I guess Kyle was closest to him. Kyle likes everybody. Me? He wasn’t a friend of mine. I appreciated Heyes’s skills and, later, when Kid arrived and Heyes became leader; I really appreciated knowing they would keep me fed and my pockets full. Heck, we all appreciated that. Even Wheat.
It’s funny-- all those years Heyes and Wheat rode together they never got along that well. It was only after the Kid and Heyes went for the amnesty that things changed for Wheat. He finally got to be leader and that took a bit of the edge off him. I think he realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked. And there was that time they almost hung some kid thinking he was Kid Curry. Wheat tried to get us to ride in to bust out the Kid. I wasn’t having any of it. What had they done for me lately that I should risk my neck for them? I was still pissed at Heyes for showing up at the Hole with that lady. Big Jim had come back to the Hole after prison and had thrown Wheat out easy as pie. We’d been excited to have a good leader again. Heyes blew that for us by talking Jim into quitting the game and leaving with him and the woman. Later, we found out it wasn’t even the Kid on trial. I don’t know what the fuss was; the Kid should’ve let the idiot hang in his place. I would’ve. Kid could’ve started over. He could’ve lost that reputation he had haunting him and lived the quiet life. Wheat told us that he and Kyle did a big favor for Kid and Heyes by finding the real murderer and bringing him back so I guess it worked out okay.
I saw Wheat once, years later, and he told me that the Kid and Heyes kept in touch real regular. They’d even done a few favors for him every now and then. Who would’ve thought? I’d heard they’d sold their story for big money to some newspaper after they got their amnesty. Heyes took the money, invested it, and now he and the Kid are doing real well. Wish now I’d ridden out that day with Wheat and Kyle. I always figured Heyes would either end up rich or dead. Yeah, I said Heyes dead, not Kid. Kid was a gunslinger same as me. He knew how to control his temper. You don’t live long as a gunhawk if you don’t. Heyes isthe big risk taker. That man likes to press his luck something fierce.
It wasn’t until the Kid showed up at the Hole that we saw another side of Heyes. He’d always been a real serious kid. Those two hadn’t seen each other in a few years, but you’d never know it. Heyes was, and is, a different person when Kid is around. They’d get to being silly. Pulling pranks on each other and the rest of us and laughing their butts off. Putting mud in the coffee pot; that sort of kid stuff. Used to piss us all off. Heyes was never frivolous before Kid came in. It was a real surprise to see that side of him. It was as though, somehow, the Kid was the final piece of the puzzle that was Hannibal Heyes. That was when things really took off. Big Jim had been nailed by the law a month or two before and Heyes had taken over as leader. The vote was in his favor, but it wasn’t unanimous, if you get my drift. Kid let us know real fast that he would back Heyes’s play and that made it official. Not that there was much to complain about after. The gang did real well under Kid and Heyes. It was a shame they went for that amnesty.
I remember the night the Oakley boys rode in. They were all done in and looking for a place to stay. Heyes put them in the barn. I thought that was pretty rude of him, but later Preacher told me he was mad about their horses. I hadn’t noticed much except they looked a bit hungry. Some folks are strange about animals and Heyes is one of them. He coddles his animals and made sure we coddled ours. Why he even let that tomcat live in the cabin! Cats are filthy animals, always bringing in dead things. My Ma would’ve had a fit. But while Heyes was leader, I kept that particular opinion to myself.
Anyways, the Oakleys were fooling around in the barn that night. Just horsin’ around and Carl stuck Heyes’s cat to the wall with a knife. Now, that was a bit ugly to me, too. I don’t hold with torture, but Heyes went nuts. He beat the crap out of Carl. It scared some of the boys but not me. Hell, my Pa did worse to me when he was bored. It’s the law of the wild. You’ve got to make sure everyone knows who the alpha wolf is.
Heyes threw the Oakleys out of the Hole that night. Wheat, Kyle and me rode along to make sure they didn’t get any ideas, if you know what I mean. Walt was philosophical. He knew you don’t piss in another man’s bathtub. Sam was not so easy going. He kept going on about Heyes. Called him a crazy, sneaky sonavabitch. None of us contradicted him. Sam kept going on about what he’d do to Heyes the next time he saw him. He talked a good fight, but the boys and I smiled at each other. We’d all seen how good Sam backed Carl up. Finally, Walt himself told him to shut it.
Naturally, Carl wasn’t feeling too good, but he was doing okay. It wasn’t the first beating he’d taken for his lack of judgment and he was sitting his horse okay. He dozed a bit on the ride, but every so often, he’d look up and around at all of us and say mystified, “But, it was only a cat.”
Some folks just don’t get it.
I’ve always had an affinity for animals. They like me and I like them. I admire anyone or anything that can love freely without reservations. Animals do that all the time. They never ask for anything in return; just the chance to please you. I can’t do that anymore. Hell, I’m not sure I ever could.
I was an only child and, while I had a lot of cousins living just down the road, I spent many hours alone caring for and playing with the various critters we had. My Pa taught me early on that it is a man’s responsibility to care for those less capable than you and I’ve tried to live by that. He’s gone now, but he taught me well.
When Carl Oakley and his brothers rode in, I knew right off I wanted nothing to do with them. I might be an outlaw, but that doesn’t mean I’m cruel. Those three had been riding hard trying to evade a posse for the better part of a week, but that didn’t account for the condition of their animals. You can drop a few hundred pounds off a horse in a short time, but you don’t get that emaciated, hollow look to them unless you’ve been neglecting them long term. I looked at their horses and then I looked at them. The Oakleys looked a little too well fed and the comparison didn’t go down well with me.
Kid saw it, too. He thinks I’m kind of silly about my critters, says I shouldn’t make pets out of them all, but he’s kind to his animals, too. I’ve seen him slipping our horses carrots and apples when he thinks I’m not looking. I make a game of letting him think I’ve almost caught him at it. Popping up behind him and startling him. Drives him nuts. I also know how Kid likes to eat and it can be downright scary to see him suck in food; but he is forever dropping little bits of meat on the floor and never quite picking them up before Lucifer gets them. Like the fastest gun in the West can’t beat a tomcat to the draw.
When the Oakley’s rode in, Kid saw what I saw and he gave me a glance. Kid’s a real good man and he doesn’t tolerate bullies at all. He was asking me if I wanted him to send them packing. I couldn’t do that as much as I wanted to; not with a posse camped outside the Hole. It would’ve been murder and I don’t hold with that. I told them to bed down in the barn instead. Walt caught the insult and narrowed his eyes at me but he could see that was all I’d offer and he took it.
That night I heard Lucifer screaming, and I up and ran towards the sound. It was coming from the barn and I knew that something terrible had happened to him. Maybe a fox had got him, but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw as I entered the barn. Lucifer was pinned to the wall by a knife and the Oakley boys were all sitting around laughing about it like it was funny in some sick way. I saw the empty sheath in Carl’s hand and I felt my temper rise. Now, normally I have no trouble controlling my temper, but this wasn’t normal. I barely held it together long enough to free Luce and pass him off to Preacher.
I’d meant to rough up Carl a bit and then throw them all out, but I lost sight of that plan real quick. I don’t really know what came over me. I’d hauled Carl to his feet and punched him a couple times. He came back at me and got in a few good licks, too. Carl started laughing and then he whispered in my ear, “Jesus, Heyes, it’s only a f**king cat. Let it go.” Like I shouldn’t care that he was torturing Luce because he was only a cat.
I felt my anger slip my control and, as though from real far away, I heard the soldiers laughing, and saying, “c’mon, he’s only a farmer. Let it go.” I saw it all again. I could smell the blood and taste the fear. I’ve had nightmares about it before, but never while I was awake. It was as though it was happening all over again and I was there all over again. I’ve never told anyone this, not even the Kid, but I saw my Pa murdered and I couldn’t stop it. I was coming through the woods and had nearly made it home when I saw the soldiers drag him out of our house and kill him. They did it in a real ugly way, too. It all happened so fast. He was dead before I realized it and it dropped me to the ground in my tracks. I’ve always felt that he saved my life by giving up his.
I guess I dropped Carl as well because when I came back to myself he was on the ground. The gang had gathered around, backing me up as they always do, but they were all looking at me real strange. Kid caught my eye and let me know it was over. I sent the Oakleys packing and put Wheat, Kyle and Lobo in charge of getting them out of the Hole alive.
I could feel the rest of the boys’ eyes on me, and I didn’t like it so I made a beeline for the cabin. Preacher was there with Lucifer and had calmed him some. Luce didn’t really like to be held. He preferred to choose his moments for human contact. Preacher had wrapped him up in the old quilt off my bed. The only things showing were his head and his tail. Preacher had forced a bit of whiskey down his throat to quiet him and it was working. I got out the medical supplies and, with Preacher’s help, cleaned Lucifer up as best I could. We couldn’t save the tip of his tail so I removed what was left of it and cauterized the stump. Funny, if you pick Luce up he’ll claw and squirm until he fights his way loose. This time he hardly twitched when we were working on him. I guess it was shock or the whiskey, but I like to think he knew we were doing our best to help him. He’s a really good cat and deserves to be treated with respect.
Finally, we were done and Preacher left. I stoked the fire real high and spent the rest of that night in the rocker in front of it with Luce on my lap. He hardly moved but I could tell he liked the feel of me stroking him so I kept at it. Kid never came back to the cabin that night. He always knows just when I need some space to sort things out and, after that night, I needed a lot of space. I was badly shaken by what I had experienced and I was ashamed of losing control. As for Carl, he got a taste of his own medicine, but I didn’t like being the one to give it. Carl is a cruel, ignorant man with no concern for the helpless. Beating him that way brought me down to his level and I hated that.
I kept to myself the next few days. Kid came round to check on me and bring me food, but I wasn’t real hungry. I had a lot running through my mind that took away my appetite. I would’ve liked to talk to Kid about it, but I didn’t feel I could. It was all I could do to keep the memories at bay. I didn’t want to drag it all up to him. He’d been there and suffered through it the first time. No sense in taking him back there with me. Talking would’ve helped me in the long run but it might’ve destroyed both of us there and then. I let him think that I was embarrassed and ashamed by my actions and was licking my wounds. I was licking wounds, just not the ones he thought.
Instead, I concentrated on Lucifer. He was a bit fevered the first couple of days, so I sat with him on my lap for most of the day thinking my thoughts and talking things over with him. He’s a real good listener and I am a talker. It was comforting and I ended up telling him everything about that day we lost our folks. Seeing the smoke, the look of my Ma after the soldiers finished with her, the look on Jed’s face when I found him. I cried a lot, too, which I never do; and I was glad to be free to. It was during that time that I realized that my efforts to heal him were healing me, too. An animal has a way of giving you just what you need the most.
The hardest part about going for the amnesty was leaving the Hole and leaving old Lucifer behind. I found a real good home for him with a widow lady I knew in Belton. She loves cats and they live well with her. I still write to her from time to time just to see how he is. She writes back to me in care of Lom.
She tells me Luce is getting on now but he still has his place on the rocker by the fire. It gives me peace to know that.
|Subject: Re: April 2012 - Eggs || |
April 2012 - Eggs