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 Dec 17 - Tin ..

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Nebraska Wildfire
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Posts : 760
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 56
Location : Birmingham

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PostSubject: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeFri Dec 01, 2017 11:04 am

Hello again everyone

Many of you will know, some of you youngsters may not know ... This is the TENTH anniversary of the yellow bandanna challenge.

What wonderful gals you are to keep it going. grouphug

This is going to be far too easy for all of you, but I would like you to offer the boys the traditional ten year anniversary gift of:


... and, it has to have a holiday feel somewhere.

Okay? purr


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Posts : 441
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 59
Location : London, England

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PostSubject: Re: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeSun Dec 03, 2017 2:25 pm

Tin? What kind of title is that? Oh wait...a bunny. I got a bunny!

By Maz McCoy

He stopped in the clearing; a break in the trees where the loggers had once built their encampment. If you looked hard enough you could still find evidence of their presence beneath the long dew-covered grass; a discarded axe, a long forgotten boot and occasionally a piece of rusting machinery. He let out a long breath and watched as it turned to vapour in the cold morning air. This was the place. Out here the sound would not draw attention.

His boots and the bottoms of his pants were soon wet with dew as he walked to the centre of the clearing. Reaching into the burlap sack he carried, he set about his task. He worked swiftly. He wanted to get this done before the shadows filled the clearing, before his hands froze, before anyone came looking for him.

Satisfied, he walked away. Ten, twenty, thirty feet or more and then stopped. He dropped the sack and let his right hand fall to his side. He flexed his fingers, feeling the muscles in his arm strain, the scar tissue pull. A bead of sweat ran down his temple. He could do this. He’d done it many times before. If only his arm didn’t hurt so much.

Decision made.

He spun on his heels, the Colt in his hand in the blink of an eye, the sound of gunshots ripped through the air and then…Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! The bullets hit their target.

Satisfied, he let out the breath he’d been holding. The tin cans now lost in the grass.

“Not bad,” a man said.

He spun around, gun aimed at the figure before him.

The man held up his hands. “Easy, son. I don’t want to get shot this close to Christmas.” He stepped from the shadows and sunlight glinted on the tin-star pinned to his chest.

Kid Curry gave his gun a quick twirl but couldn’t hide the grimace as he dropped it back into the holster. He had not had time to reload and just hoped the sheriff hadn’t been counting his shots.

“That was pretty fancy shooting,” the lawman said as he approached.

“Beginner’s luck,” Kid informed him.

“If you say so.” The sheriff waved a hand at Kid’s right side. “I guess the Doc did a good job on that wound.”

“He did,” Kid agreed. “How did you…”

“I’m the sheriff,” the lawman interrupted. “I know everything.” For a long moment, a very long, uncomfortable moment, he held Kid’s gaze then smiled and looked away. “Beautiful place. In a week or two it’ll be three feet deep in snow. You won’t be able to come out here shooting then.”

“I hope to be on my way before then,” Kid stated.

“I’m sure you do.” The sheriff looked back at Kid. “I don’t think we were ever properly introduced, what with you being unconscious an’ all. Name’s Newton, Theodore Ignatius Newton. Quite a mouthful, I’ll agree. Folks round here call me Tin.”

Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something or only thought we did: Edison
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Nebraska Wildfire

Nebraska Wildfire

Posts : 125
Join date : 2016-10-31
Location : The Sonoran Desert

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PostSubject: Tin   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeSun Dec 10, 2017 8:50 pm

This story had some elements of my Valparaiso stories, but should be able to stand alone.


Heyes stared at the reflection of the candle in his window as he looked out at the falling snow.  He sighed.  It was Christmas Eve and he was alone, studying for the exams he would have in January.

He had thought that life would change once they received their amnesty, and it had.  In some ways it was easier, not having to worry about ending up in prison, or dead.  In some ways it was worse.

The amnesty had allowed him to enroll in medical school here in Omaha.  Sister Madeleva had pulled out her own silver tongue to get the school to accept H. Joshua Heyes as a student.  She had also talked them into giving him a scholarship for untraditional students, to cover his tuition.  His living expenses were coming from a bank account in the First National Bank in Valparaiso, that contained funds that Sister had put there once she realized they had been coming from the bank and train robberies of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.

He was thriving in the college courses, but was desperately missing his cousin, who was working on a ranch in western Nebraska.  The Kid had tried to stay in Omaha when Heyes first enrolled, but there was not enough to keep him busy, interested, and out of trouble.  

“Heyes, if I stay here another month, I’ll have to go back to robbing banks.”

“What?” Heyes turned towards his cousin, surprised, but not really.  “Well, the meat packing plant job, was just...”

“Bad, Heyes.  It was horrible.”

Heyes nodded, “But what about that job bartending down in the Sporting District for Tom Dennison?”

“I ain’t no bartender, Heyes.”  The Kid shook his head.  “Takes too much talking.  Too many folks wanting to talk to me.”

“Well, then what about the job you have now?  Dealing poker?”

“Dennison wants me to cheat.”

“Oh.”  Heyes paused.  “Well, we can’t have that, Kid.”

“No, we can’t.”  The Kid looked up and met his cousin’s eyes.

Another former student from Valparaiso, Bob Wilson, had settled out by Chadron, and Sister Pat had contacted him to see if he had a job.  After all the complaints they had made about ranch work over the years, the Kid was surprisingly happy there.  It might have had something to do with Bob’s sister, Martha, but Heyes was not certain.  The Kid never really said she was pretty, and Heyes did not think the Kid would fall for someone who was not pretty.  He also got the impression that she was not young.

Heyes pulled out the letter he had received from the Kid.  It had shocked him a bit to receive it, but then he decided, even with all the work, the Kid might have a bit of free time on a ranch in the midst of the Sand Hills of western Nebraska.

How you doing in Omaha?  Keeping up with your studying?  Staying away from Dennison’s place?  
Staying warm?  I now remember why we never went anywhere in the winters at Devils Hole.  The wind out here bites clear into a man’s soul.  Bob and Martha are telling me that this is a mild winter, but I don’t remember ever being this cold at the Hole.  Guess it’s a good thing we gave up the outlawing.  You, being older than me, wouldn’t be able to handle these winters any more.”

A dry laugh came out of Heyes.  He shivered a bit, shook the coffee pot to see if any was left.  He grimaced and glanced at the coffee tin.  It had to last until the new year.  He looked at his meager supply of wood.  If he was meeting some of his classmates for midnight Mass, it was not worth brewing another pot or putting in another piece of wood.  He would bank the fire before he left and save that extra piece for when he came back.

“The sisters sent me a Christmas package.  They sent me some practical things like a scarf and new long johns, but also included some of Sister Mary’s delicious fudge and cakes.  I tried to share them with the Wilsons, but they told me to save my treasures.  Sides Martha’s baked up more Christmas treats than I’ve seen since we were boys in Kansas.  She says they are for the church dinner for Christmas, but she keeps giving me some here and there to try.  I’ve yet to find any that aren’t good.”

Heyes smile had both wistfulness, as well as some brittleness in it, as he remembered Kansas in full.  He shook himself then, rubbed his arms and hands, and continued with the letter.

“Martha, well, she’s a good woman.  As hard working as her brother, and the best cook around.  She’ll make some man a fine wife.”

Heyes shook his head, wondering again.

“Thanks very much for the new pair of fur lined gloves you sent.  I’d think an old man like you might need them more than me, but they are very handy out in the cold wind.”

Heyes had shorted his wood supply so that he could send the gloves to the Kid.

“It would be great to see you at Christmas, but with the weather, it might be best for both of us to stay warm.

Heyes would never admit that his vision might be a bit blurry as he looked again out the frost covered window.  He heard a train whistle in the distance.  It might have been a freight going over the Missouri, on this cold, clear night.

He took a deep breath and got up to get ready to meet his classmates.  Matthew Hewitt and his sister Isabelle were both fellow medical students, who lived with their Aunt Ida north of the school.  Their parents were ranchers out towards Broken Bow.  With three other sons and two other daughters, they were happy for them to have an interest in a profession that did not require more land.

Isabelle was taking advantage of the school’s desire to have enough students to continue to expand and flourish, just as Heyes was.  A body in a seat added to the numbers they could publish.  Heyes knew more than one of his professors expected him to eventually drop out and fail.  His face was set and grim as he put on his suit jacket and then his heavy, old gray coat.  The dean of the college knew exactly who H. Joshua Heyes was, but had promised Sister Madeleva that he would not disseminate that information, if at all possible.  Some of his professors had guessed that he had come from a rougher background than some of his classmates.  Heyes doubted if any really knew exactly how rough.  He also doubted that they realized they had come up against the stubborn nature of one Hannibal Heyes.

Isabelle had confided to him that she felt something similar.

“I know all the professors expect me to withdraw once we get to discussion of some of the topics considered unseemly for women to know.”  Her chin had raised in a stubborn manner that made Heyes smile.  She might have made a good outlaw in a different life.  “I just hope they don’t take that decision out of my hands and dismiss me when we get to a topic that they feel I shouldn’t hear.”

So far both Isabelle and Heyes had survived.  He sighed as he put on his scarf, gloves, and bowler hat.  He hoped the upcoming tests would not prove his undoing.

As he hurried down the steps, and approached the front door, he saw his landlady, Mrs. Worth, look out.  Unlike the typical plump, gray haired college dormitory matron, she looked like she might have lived, if not as rough of a life as Heyes had, it might have been something on parallel lines.  Her head of red curls had probably faded from her youth, but she had somehow kept her figure.  Heyes figured it was by worrying and feeding all the boys who roomed with her.  He thought she had, in one way or another, taken care of boys her entire life.  He doubted if she had ever actually been married, but continued to call her Mrs. Worth, as did all her borders.  He also doubted if she was much older than he was himself.

“You’ll catch your death, son, in this cold.”

“I’m just going over to St. John’s to meet up with classmates.” He gave her a brilliant smile.  “Can’t freeze that quickly.”

Mrs. Worth humphed, but then continued.  “Come down in the morning and I’ll get you a good Christmas breakfast at the very least.  Can’t have you drying up and blowing away, with all that studying.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Worth!” He called as he hurried out the door and down the street.

It was cold, but crisp, dark, but the night sparkled with possibility.  Heyes felt his mood improve, as he warmed with the brisk walk to the church.

As he approached the building, the windows glowed with the candlelight within.  His smile was genuine as he went to look for his friends.

Mass was just starting, when he felt another person squeeze into the pew where they were sitting.  Christmas services were always packed, so he just smiled wryly, and scooted over as far as he could.  He turned slightly to nod at the late arrival, and his dark eyes met the sky blue eyes of his cousin.

“Kid?” He whispered.

The Kid’s eyes just sparkled, as he nodded, and joined the congregation as they raised their voices in song, giving back to their creator what he had given to them.

As they streamed out after Mass was over,  Heyes just asked his cousin, “How?”

“On the train, Joshua,” the Kid answered, looking past Heyes to the young man and woman who had shared the pew with them.

“Oh, let me introduce everyone,” Heyes turned to his classmates, “Belle, Matt, this is my cousin, Thaddeus.”  He turned back to the Kid, and his smile widened further.  “Thaddeus, this here is Matthew and Isabelle Hewitt, some of the others who are voluntarily suffering the same as I am, studying medicine.”

Heyes paused.  “When did you get in?”

“Just tonight.  I stopped by your place, and your landlady told me you’d be here.”

“We were going to invite Joshua back to Aunt Ida’s for some hot cocoa and cakes,” Isabelle took in the well worn floppy brown hat and sheepskin coat, but saw the pure joy in his blue eyes when he looked at his cousin.  “Please come join us.”

The Kid glanced over at Heyes who answered with just a look.  “I’d be right happy to join you and your brother, ma’am.  Can’t let Joshua eat all the cake by himself.”  His smile was genuinely warm.

“It’s just Isabelle and Matthew,” she answered.  “But we will all freeze if we don’t get going.”  She took her brother’s arm and started down the street to lead the way, leaving the partners to bring up the rear.

“Why didn’t you let me know?” Heyes asked, pleased, but as always out of sorts if it was not his plan.

“Wouldn’a been a surprise then, would it have been, Heyes,” the Kid answered quietly as they trailed behind the Hewitts.

“The tracks were clear?”

“Obviously, Heyes.”

Heyes scowled at his cousin, until they both laughed.  “I guess you’re right.”

“We’d gone to town for some supplies.  The train had just pulled into the station.  We went to see if a couple of things we had ordered had made it, and the engineer told us the tracks were so clear they had made excellent time from Omaha.  It was then that I decided to come.  Figured I’d better bring your present myself, or it would be late.”

“Glad you did, Kid.”  Heyes met his cousin’s eyes, and slapped him on the back.  “Best Christmas present I could have.”

The two continued on in silence in the glory of the clear night.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

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PostSubject: Re: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeTue Dec 12, 2017 7:49 am

Tin...had me ready the moment it came out, but life got hopping too. Don't you hate when life won't let your write. LOL

The empty buckboard banged down the mountain road, below it in the bowl shaped valley, the sun-baked roofs of the town glowed white in the afternoon sun. Ahead of the wagon, Heyes and Curry’s geldings plodded along, their puffing, breaths, creating misty clouds to pass through. “You going to remind them?”

Curry peeked over, his face flat.

“Why not?”

“Figure that’s a leader’s job.”

“Posters read you’re a leader.”

“Nope, i've decided I only want to be head of security. Of course, sadly, that also includes…” he grinned, “keeping you out of trouble?”“I don’t need you keeping me out of trouble.”

“Is that you, freeing me from watching your back?” Curry asked, covering his mouth to cough,  but it still sounded suspiciously like a chuckle, “Damn, if that won’t make my life simpler.”

This time it was Heyes, who looked over with his face firm and hard.

Without another word, Curry turned his horse. However, just because he didn’t speak, did not mean he was silent, for his laughter was rolling forth loud and clear this time.

Kicking his sorrel forward, meeting Curry half way, Wheat snarled, “You and him,” he nodded toward Heyes’ back, “pokin’ at me again.”

With a shake of his head, Curry replied, “Never met a man felt the world was so out to get him.”

Wheat Carlson’s weathered face twisted, “most times. . .” he nodded again toward Heyes, “. . . just him.”

“Well, settle yourself; it was him I was poking at.”

Pulling at the muffler about his neck, Wheat sifted for answers, when he was saved from replying, by Kyle hollering, “We get into Tin, you mind if’n Wheat and I wet our whistles?”

“Actually, Kyle, I do mind.”

The outlaw’s shoulders hunched, making him look even smaller, where he sat up on the wagon’s seat.  

“Supplies are to be loaded, before all else.”

“Suppose so.”

“No, supposing about it. Whole reason we ride down to Tin is for supplies.”

Keeping his eyes on the team’s shifting traces, Kyle whined, “but, we is goin’ get us a drink before we leave, ain’t we?”  

“It’s what I have in mind.”

Looking over, Wheat asked, “What about cranky, up there?”

Curry did not bother defending his partner, he knew as well as anyone else, Heyes had been acting about as disgruntled as a boy forced to work the farm, when there is a social going on in town.

Kyle asked, “You come on back, to ride with us, ‘cause we’ll chat with you.”

Shifting in his saddle, Curry wiggled his cold toes, “Oh, I don’t mind so much. When he’s feeling cantankerous….” He grinned, “He talks less, makes for a nice change.

Nope, I came back here to remind the pair of you to not be shoving your weight around in town.”

Kyle scratched up under his hat, “Aw, Kid, Heyes done gave us that lecture.”

“Mmm Hmm,” Curry grunted.

“We heard ‘em.” Wheat snarled, his chest puffing up, “What he do, send you back here to hold our hands like children.”

A sly, stern look appeared on Curry’s face and turning in his saddle, he looked hard into Wheat’s eyes, “Wanted to assure myself, the pair of you was listening.”

“Well, we was.”

“Good to know.”

The varied class of citizens of Tin from brawny, over-worked miners to resplendently, attired townsfolk did not bother to turn their eyes to the four Devil’s Hole members entering town. Curry sat taller in his saddle, their lack of scrutiny, somehow making him feel uncomfortable. At a storefront, whose glass plate window had 'Apothecary' painted across it, he turned in beside Heyes; who was already dismounted.

Yet, when the wagon rolled by, Heyes turned a glare on Wheat, that had the intensity of a caged dog desiring to bite anyone who dared to get near.

Making as if he had not seen the look, Wheat shifted his gaze away, but the rigidness of his jaw declared otherwise.

“You ought to let up on him.” Curry stated, swinging down. “For I wind up having to pull you off one another.”

“Still, rankles my hide.”

“Don’t know why, wasn’t anyone but he and Betsy, who got to see all your hide that night.”

The look moved to Curry.

“Oh, yeah, and that gal…. what’s her name… Suzanne, who was bringing in laundry.”

Darkness creased Heyes’ face.

Curry chuffed out a snorted cackle, slapping his cousin’s shoulder, “Give up! You haven’t been able to intimidate me, since…. Oh hell, I can’t even remember when,
probably since before I started shaving.”

“That is a fib your telling yourself,” Heyes responded.

“Oh, I think that’s the other way around.” Curry answered, scanning the town, “folk here seem about as pleasant as always. Never have understood why you insist on coming here.”

“I like Tin, they don’t ask questions, ‘cause they don’t care to get to know you any.”

On exiting the apothecary shop, Heyes tucked the wrapped bundle, which amounted to their doctoring needs for illness and wounds for a time, in his saddle bag. Then in perfect synch, they swung into their saddles, trotting to catch up with Wheat and Kyle who were, already, loading supplies under the watchful eye of the shop owner perched on the edge of the loading dock.

Tossing his reins to Curry, Heyes stepped from his saddle onto the dock, “Afternoon, Mr. Ruckers.”

At his name, the merchant turned, one thumb tucked behind the neck string of his apron, the other loosely holding a scattergun. “There you are. Had no intention of taking my eye off ‘em,” He looked toward Wheat and Kyle in their scruffy, comfortable attire, “that is, until you showed up with greenbacks, Heyes.”

Heyes frowned at the sawed-off shotgun, “you ever known us, not to settle our accounts.”

Ruckers scratched at his wide middle, “You, I trust. Them I have not ever seen with a pair of coins to rub together.”

“Be that as it may,” Heyes’ gloved hand, pointed at the shotgun, his expression not to be misunderstood by even the dimmest man.

Ruckers eyes widened and retreating into the dark mouth of his store, he gulped out, “I weren’t actually aiming it.”

Corner of Heyes’ mouth quirked and exhaling, he followed the man, digging a folded paper from his vest pocket, “want to add to our order…box of whiskey, couple bags of candy, pair of size eight boots, ten yards of that cured leather, that stuff that is the right thickness for belts and repairing tack, box of cigars.” He looked up, his dark eyes straying to the glass display cabinet, “pound of Durham tobacco, block of chaw… what’s it made of?”


This time the flinty, hard eyes that shot Ruckers way, actually made the man jump.

“T’weren’t being factious,” he tugged at one of his long, walrus side burns. “Stones all I know; had a man traded it for a grub stake.”

Stepping closer to the case, Heyes asked, “How much?”

With the mention of money, Ruckers natural arrogance returned, “Let it go for a pair of gold eagles.”

“Seems awful steep.”

“Man said he brought it all the way from Italia.”

Heyes’ tongue slid across his lower lip. “It got a box?”

“It does.” Ruckers smiled, “almost as purty as the set.”

Heyes looked away, his eyes scanning the shelves, “Them Montgomery fruit cakes?”

Ruckers chuckled, “recognize how she straps them empty pie tins together for her cakes, do you?”

“Give me a dozen.”

Leaning on the display cabinet, Ruckers shook his head, “dozen would, nearly, clean me out, she really loaded ‘em with popskull this time, they been selling better than hotcakes.”

Heyes shook his head, “Give me a dozen, you old thief, and don’t be boosting my cost none because of demand.” The dimpled smile, finally, appearing, ‘… and put the chess set in its box, I’ll take it, too.”

“Kind of going to miss it.”

The smile grew, “But, you’ll enjoy my forty dollars.”

“That I will.”

Once the wagon tarp was strapped down snug, Heyes handed each of his men a cigar and turning to Ruckers, stated, “We’ll pick the wagon up in a bit; you and your scattergun keep an eye on it.”

Ruckers’ nose wrinkled into a belligerent sneer, “Why in God’s nightgown would I do that?”

“Because, I’ll put to bed, how you were…” Heyes’ grin twisted, becoming a hellish mockery of affability, “holding that scattergun over my men earlier. I figure, If I keep considering on it, there is a high possibility, I am going to install you with a limp; that will permanently remind you what an all-fired, foolish notion that was.”

Batting his eyes like an owl in a hail storm, Ruckers backed away, “I’d be pleased to watch over it for you, Mr. Heyes.”

“Thought you might feel that way.”

As their boots clumped on down the wooden walk, Heyes’ smile became arrogantly boisterous, and leaning in close Curry, whispered, “Your mouth is going to set you up in a situation, you can’t step out of one day, you know that, don't you?”

Blowing trails of cigar smoke through his teeth, Heyes grinned over at his partner, “that’s what I got you for.”

“So, you’re not releasing me from watching your back then?”

With a wink, Heyes took another pull on his cigar.  

“What were in that fancy box?” Kyle asked, clamping the cigar in the corner of his mouth. “Durn thing weighed ‘bout as much as the dynamite box.”

At the mention of the explosives, Curry rounded, “you packed that snug and sound.”

“The box or the dynamite?” Kyle questioned, absently, from behind his flaming match.

The other three stopped to stare at him.

“Oh, the dynamite.” Kyle chirped, tossing the burnt up match away. “Course, I did. What about the box?”

Back on the move, Heyes replied, “It’s a chess set, all the way from Italia.”

“Where’s that in New York?”

“Keep tellin’ you, Kyle,” Wheat grumped, “everything fancy does not come from New York.”

“Sure seems, too.”
Warmly, Wheat replied, “Only to you. See, Italia is across the ocean.”
“Oh, like Montreeeall.” Kyle replied, with a beaming smile, snagging the saloon door handle, pulling it open for his pals who were all holding tight to their laughter.  

Heyes informed the others, “Go find a place to light, I’ll get drinks.”

When he turned from the ornately, carved bar, he spied the trio in the corner with Curry positioned so he could see the entire saloon. Pushing away from the bar, Heyes strolled across the room, eyeing the various games of chance; but never once stepping between the front door and Curry’s view of it.

Wheat scowled up from his spot at the table, “Thought you was getting the drinks?”

Dropping into a chair, Heyes saw Curry’s head tilt his way, the slightest bit.

Flashing him a quick grin, he said, “Gal’s going to bring them to us.” And, pulling out a deck of cards, the grin appeared a second time.

“No time for that.” Curry responded, nodding toward Kyle, “tell him.”

“Were a red sky this morning. And, while y’all was at the druggist, a flock of black necks flew over as low as low can be.”

“That whole red sky is a wives’ tale.”

“Yeah, but geese flying low aren’t.” Kid stated so matter-of-factly, it was clear the discussion was over before it began.  

Slanting his eyes to his partner, Heyes dropped the cards back in his pocket, and without looking, he knew the barmaid was headed their way. Unveiling the exact grin, he knew always nettled his cousin, Heyes said, “No time for that.”

Except, his words did little to dampen the smile Curry had aimed at the barmaid. When she came to a halt at their table, the sweet aroma of summer flowers wafted from her. She returned Curry’s smile, adjusted her tray’s balance, and leaning over Wheat’s shoulder, placed a heavy beer mug before him.

Wheat’s blue eyes flew wide; his head rearing back at the apple slices swirling languidly in the pinkish liquid that filled the beer mug to the brim, a brim which was well covered in something white. Behind him, he could hear other saloon patrons laughter and fanciful, discouraging taunts.

The barmaid, giggled, placing her now empty hand on Wheat’s shoulder, “Lefty, calls it, a bustle warmer.” And, with a more full-throated giggle that set the feathers in her hair bobbing, she placed double-finger glasses of whiskey, in front of the remaining Devil’s Hole members.

Once she left, Kyle switched his attention to the drink and leaning in close, asked, “Wonder what makes it pink?”

Wheat’s eyes flicked to Heyes, who was grinning like a pup with a ham hock.

“Ordered it special for you.”

“Bet you did.”

“Most welcome.”

Frowning until the ends of his mustache nearly touched, Wheat tentatively poked at the white crusted rim. The granules stuck to his finger, his eyes narrowed, he sniffed at it, and then his tongue darted out, taking a taste.

Laughter erupted from the others.

“It’s sugar.”

Wiping at the corner of his eye, Heyes gasped, “What? You think it was cyanide?”

“All things considered.”

Sucking on his grin, Heyes lifted his tumbler and before taking a drink, said, “Smarter than I thought.”

A deep, grooved line appeared between Wheat’s brows.

Before it could go any further, Kyle tapped him on the forearm, offering his own short drink, “If’n you don’t want it…?”

“Nope, Heyes here, ordered it special for me.” Picking up the mug, he kept his eyes locked on their leader and took a large drink. Surfacing, he smacked his lips, “Actually, Heyes….” he took another drink, “thanks, it’s pretty darn good.”

Before the others were done, Curry having downed his fairly quickly, pushed back from the table, “All right, get moving, winter’s coming.”

Nodding Kyle stood up; stealing an apple slice from the little pile Wheat was munching his way through.

“You two get the rig,” Curry told Kyle, pointing at the still seated, Heyes, “we’ll pay, and catch up.”

Ambling toward the door of the steadily filling room, Wheat popped the last bit of apple in his mouth and watching him, Kyle said, “Wish Heyes had ordered me such a grand drink, I think he likes you more.”

Wheat’s full smile emerged, crinkling up his face,  “trust me, Kyle, it’s the opposite of like that he feels for me.”

When the door shut on the pair, Heyes pushed back, swallowing the last of his drink, and placing the glass on the table upside down, he fell in pace behind his partner.

“Heyes, I’m hoping we beat the snow, don’t care for traveling in snow.” Curry said, removing his gloves from his holster belt and pulling them on. “Even more, I know you hate it. You’re lucky, I didn’t tell those two the main reason we’re leaving town so fast…”His smile spread, “was so I didn’t have to listen to you grouse and whine all the way back to the Hole.” Not getting the reply he expected, Curry glanced back to laugh at the dark look pinning his back. Except there was none; for Heyes had veered off and was bellied up to the craps table.

Changing direction, Curry exhaled heavily, and as Heyes raised his hand to roll, he felt a glove wrap about his fist.

“Only plan to roll once, Kid.”

“It is never just one.”

“I already laid my money down.”

The stickman nodded, pointing to the ten dollars covering the ‘pays double twelve’.

The bridge of Curry’s nose wrinkled, “Once.”

Heyes beamed and blowing on the dice, the large smile appeared. The dice spun through the air, hitting the table, bouncing, tumbling until they crashed to a stop against the wall and Heyes frowned, at the three showing; and immediately, holding his hand out for the dice.

“Nope, we’re done.” Curry stated, tipping his hat to the pretty gal, who was the game’s boxman and shoving his cousin around toward the door. “Time for you to catch up with the others.”

One sour look and Heyes tucked his thumbs in his holster belt, snorted, and scuffed from the building.

Watching him it was all Curry could do to hold onto his laughter.

Minutes later, after removing himself, sadly he thought, from the hands of the sweet summer smelling barmaid, he had found out was named Tilley. He had made his way out onto the boardwalk, wishing they really did have more time to spend in town and also, why all saloon gal’s names seemed to end in y. Noticing how much darker it was, he studied the low hanging gray clouds spreading across the sky. ‘Hope we beat the snow.’ As he stood there, feeling antsy about the approaching storm, a string of roared curses reached him. Turning, he saw down a bit, in the middle of the street, a good rumble was occurring. Moreover, it was from the rumble the cursing, he recognized, was rising. Leaping into the street, he took off at a run.  

Pushing through the circling up crowd, he had to leap over a man laid out in the dirt, with his bowler partially flattened beneath him. With the speed which made him a legend, Curry lifted his pistol, drawling, “Reckon that’ll be enough of that.”

It was not his appearance or his words, so much as the distinct sound of the Colt readying to fire that made the battle freeze and all its participants glance his way.

“Well, Howdy, Kid, it sure be good to see ya.”

Nodding a reply to Kyle, who was shaking free of the man he had been exchanging blows with, Curry said low and calm,  “Heyes, you best be letting up on that one before you brain ‘em.”

Grudgingly, Heyes, rolled back, and standing, kicked the wide-chested man in the leg, making him squall.

The pair, who had been holding Wheat, fell back with their hands up and the man who had been using him for a punching bag side stepped further from Curry.

Having been released, Wheat tottered for the briefest second before toppling over.

Scowling at them all, Heyes latched hold of Wheat’s hand, hauling his gang member up, “You’re a little old to be fighting.”

Rearing back, Wheat’s big hand rolled into a hard fist. Taking a step, he struck the bushy eyebrowed man who had been slugging him. The man’s head snapped back, his dove gray hat hitting the dirt moments before he did. “Well, I’m certainly, too old to be losing.”

Placing his hands on his hips, Heyes demanded, “Were you doing just what I told you not to do in town?”

“Ain’t letting no coyotes mock me.” Wheat snarled, retrieving his hat that Kyle was offering him. “Even when you set them up with the ammo back there.” He hitched a thumb toward the saloon.

Heyes took a step toward the older man, “If you would cease bulldogging me and recall you’re part of my gang… then you wouldn’t never be on your lonesome.”

“I wasn’t alone,” Wheat snapped, taking a step toward Heyes “me and Kyle was doing fine.”

Heyes hollered louder, taking another step, letting go of his hips and flexing his fingers, “Well, maybe Kyle was.”

Wheat’s nose bunched up, pulling his upper lip into a snarl, “I was fixing to shake those two off me.”

Heyes flung a hand in the direction those two had fled, “Oh, I could see that.”

Stepping between the pair of them, Curry held the Colt up where they could each see it, while saying in calm, half-amused way, “Am I going to have to use this to keep you two apart.”

They both looked to him, each attempting to maintain their defiant anger, when in a whoosh, it all slipped away, and they were snorting with laughter.

Shaking his head, Curry holstered the pistol, “good..then, how about we all hightail,  before the law shows up.”

Wichita Red, "I'm not really a rebel, but I take chances. I have a good time, and I live life the way I want to live it."
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PostSubject: Re: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeThu Dec 21, 2017 10:15 am

I apologize for the lack of flow in places. I had to cut out sentences and paragraphs to just make the word limit and this was the best I could do.

Tiny Tintypes

The amiable lunch time poker game was breaking up as the town’s residents gathered what little remained of their money in preparation for a return to more respectable ways to earn a living.  The two remaining players sat back in their chairs and signaled for new beers. The black-hatted player started to stack his large pile of winnings while his blond friend watched an older man approach, the smaller but still substantial collection of coins and bills by his elbow remaining untouched for the moment.

Kid Curry quickly evaluated the appearance and demeanor of the man as he neared the table and filed the stranger as causing no immediate danger, threat to be determined. The man appeared to be in his mid to late fifties, casually dressed in good quality clothes, and with a pleasant friendly face, showing no signs of unwelcome recognition of the partners.

“Gentlemen, mind if I sit down?”

Heyes looked up from stuffing the bills and coins into his pocket and nodded. Curry pushed out a chair across from him with his foot and extended his left hand in a gesture of welcome. The stranger lowered himself into the chair and smiled genially at the two table companions.

“I’ve been watching the poker game for a while now.”

Heyes gazed sharpened almost imperceptibly. Kid maintained his blank neutral expression while he heightened the alertness of his senses.

“Is that so? Did you want to play?” Heyes questioned, keeping his voice light.

The stranger chuckled, “No, I just enjoyed watching good poker players. And you two seemed to be good poker players, honest ones, too. I thought we could have a nice conversation over a beer or a whiskey or two. It could be a good way for us to size each other up.”

Kid leaned forward, “Size each other up? That’s an odd thing to say to someone you’ve just met.”

“I met no offense, young fella. Let me explain. You not from around here, are you?”

“No, we’re just passing through on our way to Porterville, Wyoming. I’m Joshua Smith and my friend is Thaddeus Jones. We’re stopping every now and then, making a little money on our way.” Heyes replied cautiously.

“I may have a proposition for you.”

Brown eyes widened slightly in interest. “What kind of proposition?”

“We’re law-abiding citizens, and not interested in anything crooked or ow!” Kid stopped abruptly and glared at his partner, who was giving him a sweet smile of warning after kicking Kid’s shin under the table.

Their new drinking companion watched the exchange with interest. “Let me start over. My name is Frederick Gutekunst, please call me Fred. I made a name for myself as a war photographer. After the war, I was commissioned to take pictures of the westward expansion and settlement, mostly either for the railroads or the Philadelphia Inquirer. I also made a good living doing portraiture. I’m retired now and moved out West to be near my son, although, I do keep my hand in the business every now and then.”

“That’s all very interesting, Fred, but what about the proposition.” Heyes wanted to get the conversation back on track.

“I’m getting to that, I need two honest, able-bodied, trustworthy-looking men to help me for a couple of weeks.”

Kid’s and Heyes’ eyes slid sideways to each other for a quick moment before returning to Fred. Curry shook his head before replying, “Thanks for the offer Fred, but me and Joshua have to be in Porterville by Christmas to spend the holiday with our friend, the Sherriff. Besides, we haven’t had the best of luck working for people we’ve met in a saloon or played poker with.” A series of unfortunate employment situations, starting with a poker game where the situation turned deadly afterwards as the live players dwindled, followed by Seth and ending with a bounty hunter armed with a Sharps rifle paraded past Curry’s mind’s eye.

“Wait a minute Thaddeus, let’s hear Fred out. Help with what?”

For the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I do tintypes. The tintypes are a big seller for family’s and children’s portraits and they make great Christmas mementos or gifts for far off relatives. They’re affordable for most folks, easy to upsell on the extras, like fancy paper sleeves, tiny gem portraits in tin Christmas ornaments or special tinted plates. I’ve already sent out the flyers and have a confirmed itinerary. My son was going to send two of his ranch hands to go with me but something came up. I need help to set up the booth at Christmas marts, holiday church bazars, and in the towns, I visit as well someone to help drum up business and general help with the supplies, wagon, and the team. The pay would be thirty dollars a week plus ten percent of gross sales, and I pay for room and board. What do you say boys? The job will end in time for you to make Porterville by Christmas.”

“Thirty dollars a piece?” Heyes clarified

“Well, no, how bout twenty dollars a piece and fifteen percent of gross sales,” countered Fred.

Heyes stuck his right hand out across the table. “You found yourself two helpers, Fred. Thaddeus, why don’t you get us another round while we finalize the arrangements.”

“Splendid, Splendid, this is good, you can tell a lot about people by how they play cards.” Fred beamed at the men in front of him, noticing the satisfied look on Joshua’s face and the contrasting look of consternation on Thaddeus face.


Mineral Springs

A large sign board advertising the photographer’s services and prices sat on an easel along one corner wall where Heyes was arranging a table display of samples of tintypes in the sizes and styles offered as well as photo display options. There were heavy embossed fancy picture sleeves, a collection of tin ornaments, which a gem-sized portrait could be inserted, and frames of various designs, sizes, and prices. Thaddeus was busy setting up the stands that held the rolled backdrops and the selection of props and furniture that the customers could choose from to stage their tintype. Fred mounted his regular tintype camera facing one wall and a twelve-lensed camera that could make a dozen 3⁄4-by-1-inch (19 mm × 25 mm) tiny "gem" portraits with one exposure facing the other wall of the corner.

“Samuel and Jacob, quiet down and smile for the man. Betsy, Rose keep your hands to yourself and don’t poke and push your brothers. Emily Ann, dear, don’t cry. Mamma’s right here. Children, please sit still, Mamma and Poppa want to send a nice picture to Grammy and Grandpappy. Sam, sit down!”

A harried woman was wringing her hands as she watched her brood of children fidgeting and pushing each other off the velvet bench stationed in front of a backdrop of a holiday decorated carved wood mantle and roaring fire in a large fireplace.

Fred sighed and looked around, searching for a person he didn’t see. “Thaddeus?” he called out.

“Joshua, have you seen Thaddeus?”

“Last I saw he was headed back over to the hotel to get me more bon-ton frames and tin angel ornaments. He should be back any minute.”

“Ma’am, perhaps the children will be happier if you sit in the middle and put the little Emily on your lap,” Fred offered a suggestion to move the session along and not keep the folks waiting too long in line.

“Oh no, I couldn’t. I’m not dressed properly to take my photograph. Besides, the picture is just supposed to be of the children.” The woman all but wailed in despair of ever getting the boys and girls in a proper pose all at once.

Kid strode into the town hall, carrying two boxes and spotted an ever-expanding line of mothers and children, entire families, and a smattering of couples waiting for the chance to have a holiday tintype taken. He gauged the length of the line, the ages of the kids waiting and thought to himself, he should have grabbed a quick snack when he was out as it looked as if dinner and a drink was some hours away.

“Thaddeus, great, you’re back. Give those to Joshua and hurry over here.” Fred turned to the distraught mother. “My assistant is very good with children. Don’t worry we’ll have a tintype in your hand in just a few minutes.”

A few flashy gun twirls followed by a firm request for the boys to stay put, a full-on Curry charming smile and a gallant repositioning of Betsy and Rose on the opposite end of the velvet bench, and a game of peek-a-boo, which had Emily Anne laughing in the middle, resulted in a happy and relieved customer with two tintypes instead of one. Heyes helped her choose a suitable embossed sleeve to send to the grandparents and a nice frame for her own home, at an additional cost, of course.

Clear Waters

The three Holiday photographers were following a farmer to their last appointment on the last night of the business venture. The next morning Heyes and Curry would resume their journey to spend the holidays with Lom and Fred would return to his son’s ranch. It was a profitable and uneventful few weeks for all of them.

Curry was driving the team the through the late afternoon snow flurries down the tree-lined lane leading to a neat, modest farm house and yard. There was garland wrapped around the porch posts, a wreath on the front door and lit candles in every window spilling out welcoming golden light.

“We’re here,” announced Lou, the farmer as he dismounted in front of the barn. “Let me take care of my horse while you unload your stuff on the porch and then I’ll introduce you. It’ll be a nice surprise for my lovely wife.”

Lou opened the door, inviting the group in. “Edith, I’m back from town and I have a surprise.”

Three little girls and one small boy came running from different directions and launched themselves at their father as his wife, a plain but pleasant-looking woman, came out of the kitchen, untying her apron with a warm smile on her face. The nondescript family dog barked at the strangers before flopping down on the hearth rug and silently watched the goings on.

Lou gave each of the children a hug and his wife an affectionate kiss on the cheek before introducing the guests.

“I saw the flyer for the photographs while I was in town but it’s their last day. Mr. Gutekunst and Mr. Smith said it was no problem they could come out to the farm as we’re just out of town. I thought since we never had a picture taken, it would be a nice to have one to look back on when we get old and to remember the past.” Lou explained to his wife as the children were excitingly looking at the cameras and equipment Mr. Jones was lugging into the house.

“But, we’re in our everyday clothes and my hair needs to be fixed and…” Edith started to protest

Lou drew his wife close and gave her a sideways hug, keeping his amused eyes on his progeny. “I don’t want one of those posed photos with everyone in their Sunday best. I want to be able to look back and remember the everyday good times with my family. You’re perfect the way you are and the kids never stay clean for long anyway. Now, where should we take the photo?”

Fred had the family arranged in a typical manner for them. Lou was in the wing chair, with a child on each knee, reading a book aloud. The older children lay on the floor with the family dog between them, listening to the story. And Edith sat on the sofa, knitting. It was a pleasant domestic tableau of a farm family relaxing by the fire.

The darkening night was still, the only sound was the horses clomping through the new fallen snow. Stars were blinking brilliantly in the heavens above, while ice crystals glistened in the moonlight. A barn owl hooted and caused Curry to glance back towards the well-kept farm they left behind. The house glowed with holiday candlelight, promising warmth and welcome. Kid stayed quietly gazing behind him for several long moments before he slowed and then finally stopped the horses.

Heyes continued riding his own gelding for a time until he realized the wagon with his partner and the photographer had stopped.
Kid spoke for the first time since loading the wagon, “Fred, remember how you offered to take our pictures and Joshua and I said thanks but no thanks. We didn’t have anyone we wanted to send a picture to.”

“Yes, Thaddeus, I remember that conversation. Did you think of someone you’d like to give a tintype to?”

“Not exactly but I would like one. Is there enough light to take a picture of the farm we left from here?”

Fred looked thoughtful while he was gauging the light then nodded. “I could get a decent photo if I over exposed it. I certainly took pictures during the war in much worse conditions. You want me to take a photo of the family’s home from this spot, can I ask why? You don’t know them, do you?”

“No particular reason, it’s a nice picture, and no I never met the family before.”

Fred tilted his head up to look a Heyes questioningly, who shrugged back in bafflement. He didn’t understand his partner’s request either. “Okay, let me get set up and I’ll get you your tintype”


The night before reaching Porterville

Heyes was rummaging around in Kid’s saddle bags that were thrown haphazardly on the lone chair in a shabby hotel room, looking to borrow a clean pair of socks for the next day. Kid had already undressed and gotten into bed after a long day of riding followed by a long night of poker. He was halfway to sweet slumber when he became aware of Heyes steady scrutiny.

A blue eye cracked open to find his partner holding up the tintype of a modest farmhouse on a clear winter’s night. Heyes was alternating scrutinizing the tintype for hidden clues and staring at the Kid with contemplative annoyance. Kid closed his eye and feigned sleep, although he knew it was futile. Heyes hated mysteries and Curry’s request for the tintype several nights ago was a mystery. Kid had remained mute on the subject despite several gentle probes and teasing. Knowing Heyes like he did, Kid knew Heyes wasn’t going to let the matter go even though it was of no consequence to either one of them. Heyes just had to know why he wanted the photo.

“It’s a reminder. The tintype is a reminder.” Curry reluctantly admitted as he turned on his side and propped himself up on one elbow.

Heyes perked up, he knew he would wear the Kid down eventually. “Of what, we don’t even know that family?”

Curry scooted up in bed and returned Heyes curious study with practiced indifference. “No, not that family but families in general. Heyes, for that last couple of weeks we’ve been giving folks something that they can hold and look at to remind themselves of their families.”

“Yeah.” Heyes realized where the Kid’s mind was going and he dropped down into the sagging chair and suddenly wished he left well enough alone.

“Well, we have nothing left. Nothing to hold or to look at. Even my memories are hazy. Sometimes, when I think of our families, not that I do often, but sometimes I can’t picture their faces clearly. It was like I needed a reminder. That farmhouse kinda reminded me.”

“That farm didn’t look anything like your family’s or mine. We didn’t have a tree-lined lane. The porch was different…” Heyes’ mind skittered away from painful memories.

“It wasn’t the farm but the fact that the family was nothing special except to each other. The place and the people in had a sense of belonging. Did you see how happy everyone was when that farmer walked in the door just like he did every night? When I look at the tintype I don’t see that farm and family, I see a picture where I can remember the feeling of the past. Like candles lighting the way home and if I open the door than my family would be waiting. I can see their faces.”

Kid’s indifferent posture was degenerating into acute embarrassment and he braced himself for the inevitable teasing of his sentimentality. He looked up, waiting for his partner’s remarks, and was surprised to see empathy in those brown eyes.

Curry braved one more thought. “It’s not just a reminder of the past but a reminder of why we’re running and learning to live like honest citizens, well mostly honest. It’s a reminder of what a future could be. That I could have a home and family of my own, waiting just beyond that door.”

There was silence for a long moment as both men sat remembering and contemplating what may lie ahead. “Never thought you’d be happy with the relentless sameness and back-breaking labor of farming.” Heyes needed to break the melancholic nostalgia and he couldn’t resist a slight jab at his partner.

Kid smiled. “You got that right, but I was never gonna be a farmer anyway, being the fifth of six children and the youngest boy. You on the other hand are even less of farmer material than me even though you would have inherited the farm as an only child.”

Heyes had to admit to himself, the Kid had a point, he never saw himself as a farmer growing up and certainly not now. He chuckled quietly but then sobered as he caught Curry’s eyes.

“You know, Kid, unless we get our amnesty for Christmas there’s a good chance you’re gonna lose that tintype too, left in some hotel room or on a horse we’ve had to ditch.”

“I know that but at least I’ll have something to remind me for a little while and that will have to be enough.”

Notes: There is no tin in the tintype. It is a blackened iron sheet. A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion.  Because the lacquered iron support was resilient and did not need drying, a tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken.  A very underexposed negative image was produced in the emulsion. Its densest areas, corresponding to the lightest parts of the subject, appeared gray by reflected light. The areas with the least amount of silver, corresponding to the darkest areas of the subject, were essentially transparent and appeared black when seen against the dark background provided by the lacquer. The image as a whole therefore appeared to be a dull-toned positive. This ability to employ underexposed images allowed shorter exposure times to be used, a great advantage in portraiture.
To obtain as light-toned an image as possible, potassium cyanide, a very dangerous and powerful deadly poison, was normally employed as the photographic fixer. It was perhaps the most acutely hazardous of all the several highly toxic chemicals originally used in this and many other early photographic processes.

One unusual piece of tintype equipment was a twelve-lensed camera that could make a dozen 3⁄4-by-1-inch (19 mm × 25 mm) "gem" portraits with one exposure, developed in 1858. Portrait sizes ranged from gem-size to 11 in × 14 in (280 mm × 360 mm). From about 1865 to 1910, the most popular size, called "Bon-ton", ranged from 2 3⁄8 in × 3 1⁄2 in (60 mm × 89 mm) to 4 in × 5 3⁄4 in (100 mm × 150 mm).

Each tintype is usually a camera original, so the image is usually a mirror image, reversed left to right from reality. Sometimes the camera was fitted with a mirror or right-angle prism so that the end result would be right-reading.

The tintype photograph saw more uses and captured a wider variety of settings and subjects than any other photographic type. It’s like the elderly grandfather that saw everything. It was introduced while the daguerreotype was still popular, though its primary competition would have been the ambrotype. Brown or 'chocolate' plates as they were known were introduced in 1870. They have a distinct hue, though some may be subtle as there were three different tints available.

The tintype saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerate photographers working out of covered wagons.

It began losing artistic and commercial ground to higher quality albumen prints on paper in the mid-1860s, yet survived for well over another 40 years, living mostly as a carnival novelty. Carnival tintypes were popular throughout the 1890s. These usually show people in festive or posed settings, and may be in a colorful sleeve.

Frederick Gutekunst

Frederick Gutekunst (1831–1917) Leading, Pennsylvania photographer, Gutekunst opened two studios in Philadelphia in 1856. On July 9, the same day that Alexander Gardner's photographer’s days after the Battle of Gettysburg, the "Dean of American Photographers" produced a series seven plates of exquisite quality, including the first image of local hero John Burns.  A portrait of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant stirred national interest and helped set Gutekunst apart from his contemporaries.
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Dec 17 - Tin .. Empty
PostSubject: Re: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeThu Dec 28, 2017 11:28 am

A bit of a prequel for the holiday season.
Snow drifted from the tall pine tree onto the men crouched beneath its branches.

“What’re we lookin’ for?”

Hannibal Heyes stared intently at the cabin at the far side of the small clearing.

“Not so loud, Kyle,” he whispered.

“Sorry” Kyle responded in a loud stage whisper. “What’re we lookin’ for?”


Kyle considered. He squinted at the cabin, trying to make out its outlines in the dark December evening.

“I didn’t see no one ‘cepting Kid and Wheat. There ain’t even smoke from the chimney, and it’s a mighty cold night.”

Heyes flicked a glance at him. “Definitely a good sign. Once those two make sure no one’s home, we’ll have a comfortable place to wait out this cold weather.” He waved one hand at the building. “’Course, comfort’s a relative term. It’s not the Brown Palace.”

A bird call sounded through the still air. Both men straightened up. Kid Curry walked into the clearing, waving at them, followed by the tall, slouching form of Wheat Carlsen.

“We got us a home, boys,” he called. “Kyle, there’s a stable out back. It ain’t much, but you and Wheat can settle the horses there while me and Heyes take in the bags and see about getting a fire started.”

“Make sure to build a big one,” Wheat muttered. “I might need me a whole bonfire ‘fore I can feel my fingers and toes again.”

He and Kyle led the horses towards the stable while Heyes and Curry, four heavy saddlebags slung over their shoulders, crossed to the cabin’s door. A simple leather thong strung around a nail seemed to be all that kept the door secured, but the door was stuck. Curry needed to shove it hard to open it. Once inside, both men stood on the threshold and looked around. With the door still hanging open behind them, feeble moonlight glinted off objects hanging on the rough plank walls.

“Are those candles?” Heyes asked.

“I think so. You still got some dry matches on you?”

“I got me some in my pocket. Give me a second.” Striking a match, he held it high so both men could survey the room. Sconces holding thick wax tapers hung at shoulder height around the room.

“No oil lamps, I guess. Candles will have to do. I’ll get them lit.” Soon, flickering candlelight reflected off the bright tin backings of the sconces, casting uneven light in the frigid room.

“Better than feeling around in the dark.” Curry pointed towards the stone fireplace. “Looks like someone laid in a good supply of firewood. Maybe even enough for Wheat’s bonfire.”

“Might still not be enough for me. All the best parts of me are just about froze solid.”

“Heyes, I may be your partner, but even partners don’t need to know everything about each other. I’ll get a fire started if you promise not to tell me what part gets warmed up when.”

“You got a deal.”

Both men placed the heavy saddlebags on a small table. While Curry built the fire, Heyes walked around the cabin, lifting containers off shelves, patting down the bedding on a cot and running his gloved hand over surfaces.

“Seems to be a fair amount of dust. I’d guess nobody’s been here for some time.”

“I don’t think he left all this stuff behind just in case some drifters like us came through.”

“I don’t think so either. Whoever he was, he was planning to come back. I’d lay even odds he won’t be coming here tonight to spend Christmas Eve. He’s probably hunkered down in some fancy hotel, eating hot food in a restaurant and sleeping on a feather bed.”

“Like any smart man would be. Like we should be.” Curry took a candle from one of the sconces to ignite the firewood. “Like we would be, if you weren’t so damn determined to show the world how smart you are.”

“Hey, I didn’t do nothing. Is it my fault if that sheriff don’t know a false trail when he sees one?”

Satisfied that the fire was catching, Curry stood up to face his friend.

“It’s your fault when you go too far and make that sheriff look like a fool in front of the people in his town. You didn’t need to do that.”

“If he looked like a fool, it’s because he acted like a fool. That ain’t my fault.”

“You pushed it too far, Heyes. That sheriff won’t ever forget us.”

“Who cares, Kid? Some small-town nobody from nowhere. You’re forgetting who we are.”

“Oh, I know who we are, Heyes. We’re four men out in the middle of nowhere at Christmastime, squatting in some homesteader’s cabin and stealing his food.”

“We’ll leave him money to pay for whatever we use. Maybe even some extra. And look, Kid! This place really is stocked. I mean, look around! Lots of canned food, even the peaches you like. Lots of firewood. Even cups and dishes. We’re better off here instead of that hotel you were talking about.”

“Don’t try to change the subject, Heyes. That sheriff was no fool, but you made him look like one. A man like that, he don’t forget an insult.”

“You worry too much! And besides, it’s Christmas. He’s got better things to think about than us.”

“You keep telling yourself that, Heyes. Me, I think he’ll going to remember us for –"

The door swung open with a crash. Carrying a mysterious bag, Wheat and Kyle stamped their feet, shaking snow loose from their boots.

“Close that door, boys! You’re letting out all the heat from that bonfire Kid just built.”

“You ain’t never gonna guess what we found back there!” Kyle said. “Not never!”

“A saloon with lots of whiskey and pretty girls?” Heyes guessed.

“We left that behind in Kingsburg, or maybe you plum forget that?” Wheat complained.

“Somethin’ better! A smokehouse! And this!” Kyle opened the bag, and Heyes and Curry peered inside.

“I don’t believe it!” Curry breathed. “Is that a ham?”

“Shore is! A whole salted ham. And there’s taters, too. We can have us a Christmas dinner!”

Curry put a companionable arm around his partner’s shoulders. “Heyes, I take back everything I said about the hotel. You’re right. This is better.”

“Only thing missin’ is some whiskey.” Wheat looked around the cabin appreciatively. The candlelight and burning logs in the fireplace cast a gentle light in the room. “Otherwise, looks as if we’re snug as bugs in the rug.”

“Unless you found a still out back next to that smokehouse, we’ll have to make do with the whiskey we brung,” Heyes said. “That ought to go well with this fine dinner we’re having.”

Both Wheat and Kyle stood up straight.

“We’s got some whiskey?” Kyle asked.

“We do indeed. And good stuff, too.” Heyes reached into his saddlebag and withdrew two objects wrapped in canvas. “I packed them real well so they’d survive the ride.”

“Heyes,” Kyle gushed, “You’s the best leader this gang ever done had.”

“Don’t know if I’d go that far.”

“Wheat. That’s enough.”

“I don’t mean nothing by it, Kid.”

“I know it, Wheat. Why don’t we get settled in? It looks like we’ll be staying awhile. But before we do, Kyle, take the cook pot outside and fill it with snow. Wheat can cut the potatoes, and boil them. We got some canned treats, too, so let’s unpack these bags and then have us a real fine dinner.”

“And whiskey afterwards,” Heyes added.

“Whoeee!” Kyle shouted. “Now that’s Christmas.”


The four men sat on the floor near the fireplace. Each was scraping his plate to get the last bit of dinner. Ham with canned peaches on top, boiled potatoes, beans, and hardtack were now a happy memory. Outside, they heard the wind whistling through the tall pines, but little cold air penetrated the cabin’s stout chinked walls.

Kyle wiped his plate with his fingers and licked them clean, smacking loudly.

“You know, boys, I don’t miss Kingsburg at all. Not a-tall.”

Wheat grunted. “I got to admit, I weren’t too happy leaving like we did, but this sure makes up for it. I don’t even mind spreading my bedroll on the floor, and that’s a fact.”

“That’s ‘cause ain’t no one watching us here like that sheriff did,” Kyle added. “He was a bad ‘un, he was.”

“A full belly makes everyone happy,” Heyes observed. “Now, who’s ready for a nightcap?”

“I didn’t bring no nightcap, Heyes. I only got what clothes I’m wearin’ and some clean socks.”

“Nightcap’s another word for whiskey after dinner, Kyle,” Curry explained.

Kyle brightened. “I do believe I’d like that.”

“I thought you might.” Heyes stood up and reached out to take the empty plates. He put them in the dry sink and took cups from the shelf above. He passed a cup to each man and then unwrapped a whiskey bottle from its canvas packaging.

“What do you think of this, boys? Good enough for the Devil’s Hole Gang?”

Wheat held out his cup to be filled. “Can’t be sure till we taste it, can we?”

“No, guess not. It’s always wise to be cautious.” Heyes filled the glasses. Each men held his glass up in a salute to the others before drinking.

Curry took a careful sip. “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

“If’n you say so, Kid.” Wheat drained his glass in one swallow. “I’m ready for another.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a quick glance.

“You mean to say, ‘Please, sir, I want some more,’” Heyes said.

“Whaddaya mean, I mean to say that?” Wheat protested. “I know what I mean, and I mean to have some more.”

“Settle down! I was quoting someone famous.” Heyes refilled the cup. “Haven’t you ever heard of David Copperfield?” Thoughtful expressions showed on three faces. Suddenly, Wheat brightened.

“He’s with the Cowboys, out of Tombstone.”

Kyle sat up straight. “No, Wheat, you got him mixed up with that feller runs Robbers Roost. Ain’t that the one you mean, Heyes?”

“Ah . . . no. David Copperfield is the name of a book. The main person in the book is named David Copperfield.”

“Well, ain’t that a coincidence! The book and the person, them both havin’ the same name. Ain’t that somethin’, Wheat?”

Wheat was looking down at the mug in his hands. “Yeah, that’s something alright.”

“Just pour the whiskey, Heyes,” Curry told him. “We’re a bunch of crooks on the run, not a ladies’ book club.”

“What was I thinking?” He held up the bottle. It was half-empty. “Anyone else need a refill?”

“You need to ask? Another round, Heyes.”

The men drank the second round more slowly. Each one felt the warm burn of the whiskey going down. Curry yawned.

“I’m about ready to hit the hay, boys. It’s been a long day.”

“Who gets the bed?” Wheat asked.

Heyes looked over his shoulder at the cot tucked into the farthest corner.

“Whoever can put up with the cold. Even if you drag it over here, it’s still farther from the fire than a bedroll on the floor.”

“I don’t mind,” Kyle said. “I don’t feel the cold as much as you boys.”

“It’s yours,” Heyes said.

Wheat pushed himself to his feet. “I’m gonna step outside before settling down.”

“You might take Kyle with you,” Curry suggested. At Wheat’s expression, Curry added, “There’s probably coyotes and wolves around. One man should keep watch while the other does . . . you know.”

“Good idee.” Kyle got up. “The sooner we get’s this done, the sooner I can get some sleep.” The two men slouched into their heavy coats and stepped outside.

“Not a bad Christmas Eve after all, is it, Kid?”

“I’ve seen worse.”

“You’ll see a better New Year’s. We can rest up here a couple days and then head out for a real town that does New Year’s right.”

“Heyes, every once in a while, you have a good idea.”

“I do, don’t I?” Heyes poured himself a half-mug of the whiskey.

“Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. We got lucky tonight, finding this place. Otherwise we’d be sleeping in some lean-to, snuggled up way too close to Kyle and Wheat, trying not to freeze to death. And it’s all because you had to show off to that sheriff.”

“Not that again, Kid! Look, he’ll forget about us by New Year’s. He’s a small-town nobody. We’re somebodies.”

“That’s why he’ll remember us, Heyes. You may forget him, but I won’t.”

“He’s lucky if the Devil’s Hole Gang remembers him,” Heyes argued. “But you’re wrong about me forgetting. I actually have a little something to remind me of him.” He got up and rummaged about in his saddlebag for a moment while Curry watched. When he sat down again, he held something in one closed fist.

“Guess what I’ve got?”

“What?” Curry felt his apprehension mounting.

Heyes opened his fist to reveal a tin star. “Sheriff” was impressed on its surface.

“You stole his badge?”

“Yep. Nice little memento, don’t you think? Might come in handy someday.”

“I can’t believe you did that.” Curry looked at his partner. The candlelight flicked shadows over Heyes’ smug expression.

“You don’t know when to stop, do you? You push and you push and you push. That sheriff will be looking out for us from now until doomsday.”

“It don’t matter if he does or not. We’re the Devil’s Hole Gang.”

“You keep saying that, and I keep telling you, that don’t matter. If we run into him again, we’ll be in a world of hurt. We’ll have to make a career out of avoiding him.”

“Kid, calm down. What’re the odds we’ll run into him again? You’re taking this way too seriously.”

Curry shook his head slowly. He realized Heyes was just too full of himself to listen right now.

“You’re not taking this seriously enough. Wade Sawyer is a tough, smart sheriff. We got lucky this time. If we run into him again, he knows us on sight, and he’s got a powerful grudge.”

“Like I said before, you worry too much. Let’s just enjoy ourselves while we’re here. And once we leave this place, we can go someplace warmer and spend some of that Kingsburg money that’s in our saddlebags.”

“Now you’re finally making some sense.” They raised their mugs and touched them together in a toast.

“Merry Christmas, Heyes. Here’s to our absent host. May he stay away until we’re ready to leave.”

“I’ll drink to that. Merry Christmas, Kid.”

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

"The failure in doing something is stopping too soon."
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Dec 17 - Tin .. Empty
PostSubject: Re: Dec 17 - Tin ..   Dec 17 - Tin .. Icon_minitimeSun Dec 31, 2017 10:23 pm

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry encouraged their horses up the pass to Tin Cup.

“Almost there,” Heyes said after reading the wood sign pointing towards the town.

“It sure is high up in elevation.”

“It is.  Heard it’s grown, too, since last time we were here.  Lots of mining up here.”

“Didn’t it used to be Virginia City?”

“Yep.  Too many towns with that name so they changed it to Tin Cup.”

“Well, that’s an original name.  Wonderful why that name?”

“I heard it had to do when a prospector found gold and put it in a tin cup.”

“Still a crazy name for a town.”  Kid Curry kicked his horse.  “Let’s get goin’!”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The two former outlaws slowly rode into town and took in all that was going on.  They quickly reined in their horses when a man came flying out of the saloon into the street in front of them.  Near another saloon, men were staggering out and shooting their guns in the air.  Soiled doves stood leaning over a second story railing encouraging men to come upstairs by showing their “wares”.  A man with a Western Union hat hurried by with a message in his hand.  Men were coming and going out of the mercantile with boxes of supplies.  An older round woman served stew in a tent to miners.  The barber had a line out of his door with straggly bearded and filthy miners waiting for a shave or a bath.

“Wonder how often the water is changed for the bath.  I have a feelin’ they just keep addin’ more hot water.”

Heyes scrunched his nose.  “Personally, I’d want to be one of the first customers of the day and not one of the last.”

“Should we check out the hotel?”

“Have you seen the jail?  I wanna see who the sheriff is before we get too comfortable.”

“Think it’s down here near the livery.”  Kid Curry turned down a road in the middle of town.  A few buildings down, he imperceptibly nodded toward a building a glanced at his partner.

Heyes smiled.  “Never heard of Marshal Harry Rivers.  Let’s go to the livery and then check into the hotel.”

“And then we’ll get a drink and some food.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes and the Kid rang the bell at the hotel counter.  Moments later a man wiping his mouth with a large napkin came out of the back room.

“Can I help you?”

“We’d like a room…”

“Preferably in the front,” the Kid added.

“Preferably in the front with two beds,” Heyes finished.

“That’ll be three dollars.”

“Three dollars for one night?” Curry asked incredulous.

“How much for one bed?” Heyes asked.

“One bed is two dollars a night.”

“That’s highway robbery,” Kid Curry muttered under his breath.

“We’ll take it.”  Heyes gave the man almost half of his money.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes turned with his back to the bar and sipped his second whiskey as he watched the poker games in progress.  The Kid looked for any possible danger or problems in the room using the large mirror behind the bar.

“There’s a seat opening up over towards the back and another by the door,” Heyes informed the Kid.  “I’ll take the one by the door.  Remember we need to win enough money to stay for a few nights.”

A few hours later, they met at the bar and ordered a drink.

“How’d you do?” the Kid asked.

Heyes beamed.  “We can eat and sleep for a week and take a bath.  How’d you do?”

“Won enough for a few nights sleep and livery costs.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The next afternoon, Heyes and the Kid walked out of another saloon.

“Think I’ll go to the bank and cash this twenty-dollar bill.”  Heyes stuffed the money into his pocket.

“While you do that, I think I’ll go to the store and get some bullets and other supplies.”

“Meet you back in the hotel room.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes had just reached the teller window when he heard the four men rush into the bank yelling.

“This is a robbery!  Everyone get your hands up and lay down on the floor!”

A woman screamed and a miner cussed.

“I said get down on the floor!”

Heyes was pushed away from the window and sighed as he got down on the floor.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry walked out of the mercantile with a few boxes of bullets and a can of gun oil.  He glanced at the bank and immediately stopped.  Near the side were two rough looking men holding six horses.  “Damn.  Heyes, you better get outta there alive.”  He turned and walked between buildings, hurrying to the sheriff’s office without drawing attention to himself.

He took a deep breath and walked into the office.  “Sheriff, I think there’s a bank robbery happenin’ right now.”

Harry Rivers looked up from his paperwork.  “What makes you think that, young man?”

“There’s two fellas holdin’ horses and…”

Several shots rang out.

The Marshal jumped up and checked his gun.  “Are you any good with that Colt tied to your leg?”  Rivers didn’t wait for an answer.  “Follow me!”

Rivers and Curry rushed out of the office and towards the bank.

“Joe, get my deputy and some men.  The bank is being robbed!” Rivers yelled to a man sweeping the boardwalk.

“Will do!”  The broom dropped as the man hurried down the street.

The men holding the horses became agitated waiting and hearing the shots in the bank.

The Marshal and Curry hid behind a wagon across from the bank and assessed the situation.

“Stay here.”  Rivers started to stand.

“What are you doin’?” Curry asked as he pulled him back down.

“I’m gonna tell them to come out and turn themselves in.”

“What?  You can’t do that.  They’ll grab hostages and my partner is in there.”  The Kid took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair.  “Need to wait until they’re escapin’ before we make a move.”

Several men came running up.  “What’s happening?”

“Bank’s being robbed.  I want you two to go in the back area.  You two go over there.  You two go over to the other side.  Wait until they’re comin’ out before you shoot.”

The men dispersed as ordered and barely got to their destinations when the four outlaws came out of the bank with weapons drawn.

“Stop right there!” Marshal Rivers shouted.  “You’re surrounded!”

Gunfire erupted on both sides.  Kid Curry shot six bullets and ducked down to reload his gun.  The Marshal stood and began shooting when he fell back, bleeding profusely.

Kid Curry winced and shot more rounds.  Several bank robbers were laying on the ground and the others mounted their skittish horses, escaping in the alley.

Curry rushed over to the fallen outlaws and kicked the guns away.  “Marshal’s hit – someone get the doctor!”  He cautiously ran into the bank with his gun in his hand.  “Is everyone in here okay?”  He looked around for his partner and sighed with relief he when saw a familiar face.  “They’re gone.  You’re okay,” he informed the shocked bank customers and employees.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry was in the back of the saloon drinking.  

Heyes came in and sat down.  “Marshal’s dead.”

“Yeah, I figured he was.”  Curry downed another drink.  “My fault.”

“Why’s it your fault?”

“I went and got him.”

Heyes put a hand on the bottle and pushed it aside.  “Not your fault.  He was doing his job and knew the risk.  You probably saved some lives by warning him and others.”

Kid Curry shrugged his shoulders.  “Maybe…”

“No maybe about it, Kid.  Why don’t we finish this bottle in our room and get a good night sleep before leaving the area?”

“And go where?”

“How about Denver?”

“Denver’s a nice town.  Okay.”

In October 1859, prospector Jim Taylor panned some gold from Willow Creek, and carried it back to camp in a tin cup; he named the valley “Tin Cup Gulch.” For years the area was the site of seasonal placer mining, but no year-round communities were established, partly because of the danger of Indian attack.

In 1878, lode deposits were discovered in the area, and the town of Virginia City was laid out in March 1879. By the 1880 census, the town had a population of 1,495. Virginia City was incorporated in August 1880, but confusion with Virginia City, Nevada, and Virginia City, Montana, caused the residents to change the name. The town was reincorporated in July 1882 as Tin Cup.

Early Tin Cup was a violent place. Town marshal Harry Rivers died in a gunfight in 1882, and marshal Andy Jameson was shot to death in 1883.

The town population declined when the mines were exhausted. The post office closed in 1918, and the last town election was held in 1918.

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