Picture the interior of the Leaders’ cabin at the Devil’s Hole hideout.
Have you done that?
Do you see the table?
Do you see the pre-occupied dark-haired outlaw frowning in concentration as he pieces together a myriad of tiny cogs and levers?
Try harder. Have you got him now? Well done.
Do you see Whatshisname – the other fella?
To all who said “No I don’t, ‘cos he’s not there.” Excellent, full marks.
To all who said “Yes I do, and he’s nekkid except for the body oil and a rakishly angled hat.” I’m afraid you’re hallucinating. Enjoy it while it lasts, and next time take a little more water with it.
Let our ficlet – such as it is – begin:
The door of the cabin opens, a shadow falls over the table.
Chocolate brown eyes rise from the diminutive wheel currently balancing upon a set of tweezers and rest momentarily, before returning to their mechanical task, on the lean form of Kid Curry. (The fully clothed form. Sorry, ladies.)
“Where’ve you been?” asks Heyes.
“Haven’t seen you since breakfast.”
“I’ve been kinda busy.”
Heyes’ eyes return to the allegedly inactive one and this time linger.
“If you’ve been nowhere doing nothing – what’re you looking so dang pleased about?”
“Huh? Nothin’.” The Kid tries to moderate his smile under the watchful gaze of his partner. He straightens his face. One second – two… Nah, he can’t help it, the flashing grin is back. “Y’know – just glad to be alive.”
Utter disbelief segues across Heyes’ face. He opens his mouth for another question, changes his mind and shuts it again. With a tiny shake of his head he returns to his task. A small rivet falls from his tweezers.
For the first time the Kid focuses on the metallic bits and bobs littering the table.
“What the Sam Hill is…” He gestures. “All this junk.”
“What did a wise man once say is the best way to make a fortune?”
“Er… Is it to chump your partner outta his last five dollar bill then lose it to a red-haired cowhand with a twitch ‘cos you’re sure he don’t understand the odds of holdin’ two pair?”
The brown eyes roll. “When are you gonna stop grousing about that, Kid?”
“When I get my five dollars back.” With a return of his humour Curry adds, “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s this wise man say ‘bout makin’ a fortune.”
“He said – build a better mousetrap and the world’ll beat a path to your door.”
That does wipe the smile off Kid Curry’s face.
“Mousetrap?” he gulps.
“…Not that we exactly want folk beating a path to our door.”
“You’re buildin’ a mousetrap?”
“What with us being in a hide out and all, we don’t exactly want folk even finding our door…”
“Heyes!” snaps the Kid.
“Huh?” Up come the brown eyes.
“Are you makin’ a mousetrap?”
“I just told you.”
“Why’dya think? ‘Cos we have mice.”
Blue eyes flicker anxiously. “No we don’t.”
“Yes we do. Nibble marks on the loaf. Paw marks across the shaving soap. Fur on the sugar. And – other signs – behind the saddle bags.”
“Don’t put any traps down, Heyes. Please.”
“’Cos – we don’t have mice.”
“This conversation’s kinda circling, Kid.”
Curry takes a deep breath. “We don’t have mice. We have A mouse.”
“So? I’ll settle for trapping A mouse. I’m not greedy. Not for mice, anyhow.”
“It’s not so much A mouse as THE mouse. It’s – Mouse.” Shyly. “My Mouse. Mizz Mouse.”
A moment passes as that sinks in. Heyes face is lit by a wide, dimpled smile.
“Uh huh,” confirms the Kid.
“After all this time?”
“And you’ve been keeping her all to yourself.”
Kid Curry looks sheepish. “Just for a while. To get reacquainted.” Defensively, “She IS more my gal than yours.”
“Where is she?”
With a boyish grin the Kid lifts his broad brown brim. From amidst the blond curls a pair of deep liquid black eyes blink, bashfully at Heyes. Velvet soft ears blush and quiver in welcome. Silken whiskers brush the careful, caressing finger he extends in welcome.
“Sheesh, Kid,” breathes Heyes, reverently. “Talk about keepin’ it under your hat.”
Xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS MOUSE
FROM A CALICO CAT