Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 Now We're Even by Penski

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Posts : 413
Join date : 2013-10-13

PostNow We're Even by Penski

Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy

Alec Baldwin as Cody Cole

Stephen Baldwin as Travis Cole

William Baldwin as Eugene Cole

Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn
as the elderly couple on the train

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry walked from the hotel to the train station in Prescott, Arizona, with Heyes in the lead and the Kid reluctantly following behind him. The train was already at the station and being loaded with supplies. On the platform, people were saying their goodbyes as Heyes walked up to the ticket booth.

“You two young fellas goin’ to Rock Springs?” asked the man at the ticket counter.

“No!” replied the Kid as he leaned against the building and folded his arms across his chest.

Heyes rolled his eyes and gave a friendly smile to the ticket agent. “Yes, please; two tickets for Rock Springs.” Heyes took some money out of his pocket and handed it to the gentleman behind the counter.

“Better hurry and board; train’s about to leave.” Heyes nodded in acknowledgement and turned towards his partner.

“Here’s yours, Thaddeus,” Heyes said as he handed the ticket to the Kid and gently pushed him towards the train.

“Joshua, I have a bad feeling about…” The Kid sighed and started walking to the train. “Don’t know why I bother arguin’ with you; you always win.”

Heyes grinned at his best friend and hurried him onto the train just as the whistle blew and it started inching out of the station.

Just before entering the railcar, the Kid turned towards Heyes and whispered, “Didn’t we rob…?”

Heyes nodded and pushed his partner into the car. “Twice,” he whispered back.

The Kid sighed as he made his way through the car looking for vacant seats. “Bad feeling…” he repeated as he shook his head.

They found four vacant seats away from other passengers and, throwing their gear onto a couple of them, they settled into the two near the window. The Kid stretched, lowered his hat, and rested while Heyes stared out of the window, watching the scenery as they left Arizona and entered Utah.

Hours later, when they were halfway through Utah, the train came to an abrupt stop, throwing passengers onto the floor. The Kid, thrown from his seat, landed on Heyes.

The Kid groaned, “Oww…let me guess--not a water stop.” He raised himself from Heyes’ lap and plopped into his own seat.

“Nope,” was all Heyes was able to say when an outlaw, brandishing a gun, entered the car and yelled, "Pick up your luggage and git outside!"

“Do we know them?” the Kid whispered as he picked up his saddlebag and followed Heyes out of the door.

“Not sure…” Heyes whispered back as he made his way outside, but then stopped and sighed. “Damn; it’s the Cole Brothers gang.” Heyes jumped downed from the train onto the ground.

“Cole Brothers!” the Kid quietly exclaimed for only Heyes to hear as he jumped from the train. “I told you I had…”

Heyes’ look stopped the Kid from finishing the sentence and both pulled their hats down, hoping to obscure their faces.

"Line up! C'mon, move it!" The outlaws herded the passengers. "Put your guns on the ground," ordered one outlaw. "Don't forgit to open your bags,” added another. "We want to take a look inside. Mebbe you folks got something we want." He laughed loudly.

Heyes and the Kid threw their guns on the ground and unfastened their saddlebags with the rest of the passengers, hoping to blend in with the crowd.

The Cole Brothers gang consisted of three brothers--Cody, Travis and Eugene--and an assortment of other outlaws.

The outlaw gang went down the line of passengers, taking valuables from their person and luggage. Eugene asked a female passenger, who was clutching a handkerchief to her chest, “Whatcha hidin’ there, ma’am?”

“Me? I’m hiding nothing,” replied the elderly lady, visibly shaken.

“So ya don’t mind lowering your hankie.” Eugene menacingly grinned.

The female passenger hesitantly lowered her hankie, revealing a diamond and ruby brooch. Eugene’s eyes got big as he reached up for the jewelry. “No, please don’t take my brooch; it was my dear grandmother’s—a family heirloom. I’m on my way to my granddaughter’s wedding in Rock Springs and want to give it to her as a gift.”

The mature gentleman next to her fumed, “I told you not to wear the brooch while traveling—to hide it in our luggage, but no, you had to wear it. Serves you right if you lose it.”

“You can hand it over or I’ll be happy to remove it,” Eugene said as he leered at her.

The Kid started to move slightly as the outlaw reached up to remove the brooch. Heyes imperceptibly kicked the Kid, getting his attention, and barely shook his head. The Kid, sighing, stayed where he was in line. The movements caught Cody’s eye and he started walking towards them.

The elderly lady wept as she removed the brooch and handed it to Eugene. “Thank ya fer your contribution, ma’am,” Eugene replied as he took the brooch.

Cody stopped in front of Heyes and Curry as they shifted their eyes and looked down. Cody reached up and knocked their hats off onto the ground.

“Well, I’ll be…lookey here…it’s Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!”

“Cody, can we talk in private?” Heyes hissed and then quickly said loud enough for other passengers to hear, “We’ve been confused with those notorious outlaws before…I’m Joshua Smith and this is my friend Thaddeus Jones.”

“Why you deny…” Cody paused as Heyes mouthed the word ‘private’ to him. “Over here, you two.” Cody motioned with his gun that Heyes and the Kid should follow him.

Heyes and the Kid hesitated following and Cody angrily turned around. “What? I said over here.”

Curry pointed to his hat on the ground. “Our hats?”

“Go ahead, but leave the guns and no sudden moves,” Cody replied.

Heyes and the Kid slowly bent down, retrieved their hats and put them on as they followed Cody away from the other passengers.

“So what’s this all about, Heyes? What’s this callin’ yourselves Smith and Jones?” Cody glared at Heyes.

“Don’t want the other passengers to know us as Heyes and Curry and recognize us some day. We still have a price on our heads,” Heyes answered as he met Cody’s glare.

“Haven’t heard much about you two. Rumor has it that Wheat’s runnin’ the gang outta Devil’s Hole. Is that right?”

“The Kid and I left Devil’s Hole and have been leading a quiet life.”

“You two were purty darn successful. Why’d you walk away?” Cody wanted to know.

“Posse’s were getting bigger and smarter so the Kid and I decided to get outta the business before we got caught or worse yet, killed.”

“Travis…Eugene, come here!” Cody yelled for his brothers, who came over as the rest of the gang watched the passengers.

“What’s going on, Cody?” asked Travis. “We’re ready to go here and the train’s due into Ferron soon.”

Eugene stared at Heyes and the Kid as recognition dawned in his eyes. “Hey, it’s Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!”

“Sheesh…they’re wanted dead or alive; reward is $10,000 each. I saw it on their wanted posters last time I sat in jail,” Travis informed his brothers.

“Heyes and Curry, you stay put while we talk. There’s a gun on you, so don’t do anything dumb. Eugene and Travis, follow me…we gotta talk,” Cody said as he led his brothers several yards away.

“Whaddaya think we should do with Heyes and Curry, boys?” asked Cody.

“I say we turn ‘em in fer $20,000,” stated Eugene, excited about the large reward.

“How we gonna do that, seein’ we’re wanted, too?” Travis asked. “’Sides, just don’t seem right ta turn a fellow outlaw in.”

“Well, we gotta get goin’. How about we take ‘em with us and decide later?” Cody suggested.

“Sure.” Eugene nodded his head.

“Sounds good to me,” Travis agreed.

The Cole Brothers walked back to Heyes and the Kid.

“Heyes, what d’ya think they’re gonna do with us?” the Kid asked as he watched them agree to something.

“Don’t know, Kid. Hopefully forget we were on that train.”

Heyes’ optimistic thought soon vanished. “Boys,” Cody informed them, “you’re gonna go fer a ride with us.”

“With you…what about the posse that should be coming soon? You can’t go far or very fast if we’re doubled up on horses.” Heyes tried to reason with them. “Just let us get back on the train. We can continue on to our destination and we’ll forget about this little meeting.”

“Travis, tie them to your horse and ride double with Eugene for the time being.” Cody walked away, heading back to the train, assuming his orders would be followed.

“Cody…” Heyes yelled in frustration.

“I said you’re comin’ with us,” Cody said with an air of finality.

“Let’s go, boys.” Travis led them at gunpoint to the waiting horses. Heyes mounted first and Travis had Curry bind Heyes’ hands to the saddle horn. The Kid climbed behind his partner and Travis tied Curry’s hands around Heyes. He secured their saddlebags onto another horse.

“Okay, everyone back onto the train and sit down,” Cody gave orders to the line of passengers. They quickly hastened to obey and Cody told the rest of the gang, “Let’s go.” They walked back to their horses, mounted and rode towards the hills.

Cody led the horse Heyes and Curry were tied on towards a wooded area out of sight from the train with the rest of the gang following. “Heyes is right that we ain’t gonna get far doublin’ up like this so…” Heyes smugly smiled at Cody’s affirmation. “We’s gonna leave Heyes and Curry here and come back for them in a day or two when the posse’s given up on us.” Heyes smile quickly turned into a frown at this newest development.

“Travis and Eugene, get ‘em off the horse and tie ‘em nice and tight to different trees so they’ll be waitin’ for us when we come back,” Cody said as he gave further instructions.

“Cody, you can’t leave us tied to a tree for a few days! How are we gonna be able to eat or get a drink of water? What if the posse finds us? You’ll be out the reward money.” Heyes tried to persuade him to abandon this idea.

Cody thought for a few moments. “Just tie their chests to the trees leavin’ their arms free; tie the knots on the other side of the tree trunk where they can’t reach them. Leave ‘em each a canteen with water. Hope you boys have food in your saddlebags. I’ll send someone by as soon as possible to get you. Figure you’ll stay quiet when the posse is in the area; might be someone who recognizes you.”

Eugene whispered to Cody. “What if we take their boots so if’n they escape they can’t go as far barefoot?”

“Great idea, Eugene.” Cody proudly patted his little brother’s back. “Remove their boots and let’s take them with us. Check their saddlebags for anything that might help them escape and remove it. They can have their bags in reachin’ distance for supplies.”

“Cody, be reasonable an’ leave our boots; a man needs his boots.” This time Curry tried to talk some sense into Cody.

Eugene looked to his big brother for guidance. “Take the boots, Eugene,” Cody decided.

Eugene grinned as he and another outlaw removed their boots while Travis checked their saddlebags and dropped them and canteens on the ground by each man. The Cole Brothers gang hurriedly rode off with their boots, leaving Heyes and the Kid each tied to a tree.

“I told you I had a bad feeling about getting on that train, Heyes, but you didn’t listen to me. You never listen to me. And now look at the mess we’re in. How are we gonna get outta this?”

“Why do I always have to figure out how we’re gonna get outta a mess? And if you hadn’t tried to interfere with Eugene taking the brooch, Cody might never have noticed us.”

“Oh, so it’s my fault now.”

“Yeah—it’s your fault we got noticed. When are you gonna learn to not help every lady who needs help? It’s gotten us in more trouble…”

“Well, I can’t just stand around and watch a man bully a woman, Heyes. My pa taught me to protect women, them bein’ weaker and all.”

There were quite a few minutes of silence as both men stewed.

Finally, Heyes broke the silence. “Kid, we ain’t doing any good arguing like this. I should have listened to you—your feelings are usually right. But you shouldn’t have reacted to Eugene taking the brooch. He wasn’t hurting her.”

“Sorry I got us spotted, Heyes.”

“Sorry I didn’t listen to you back in Prescott.”

“So how are we goin’ get outta this mess?”

“Well, I figure we should be able to get outta these ropes by morning and we’ll just have to walk to Ferron.”

Heyes and the Kid worked hard on getting free from their bindings, but couldn’t reach the knots of the ropes holding them to the trees.

“Heyes…what about your knife?”

“The one I keep in my boot?”

“Oh yeah…I forgot.”

“Did you check your saddlebag to see if they missed anything that’d help us outta these ropes?”

“Yup—nothing in there but my clothes, stuff to clean my gun, and some food supplies. Travis took my shavin’ kit out so no razor.”

“Same here—was hoping he might have forgotten something.” Heyes sighed. “We’ve gotten outta tighter spots; we’ll get outta this one, too.”

Towards dusk, the Kid stopped trying to get loose and listened. “We got company comin' this way.”


“That’s what I’m thinkin’. Sounds like about six riders comin’ fast.”

“They won’t be able to see us in the trees.”

“If we yell, maybe they’ll hear us and let us go.”

“Or maybe one of them will recognize us like Cody said, decide we’re a better catch. I’m thinking we should just be quiet and get outta this one ourselves.”

“Got a good point there,” the Kid said as he quietly continued to work the rope loose.

Heyes and the Kid struggled with the knots all evening and managed to get a fitful night’s sleep sitting up, still bound to the trees. By morning, they felt as if they had made some progress.

Heyes gradually made his way around the tree trunk where he could just reach the knots holding his bindings. With his dexterous fingers, he was able to loosen them enough so that the rope began to slacken. "Got it!" he exclaimed as he twisted free.

"Finally!" the Kid sighed with relief as Heyes came over and loosened the knots in his ropes that were holding him up.

Heyes and the Kid stood and stretched the aches out of their bodies. They drank from the canteens and chewed on the jerky in their saddlebags.

“I sure feel better. So what direction we gonna go?” The Kid looked around them as he got his bearings from the sun. “They went west from the looks of these tracks.”

“If we went back to the train tracks, we could make our way into Ferron, but that’ll be the first place the Coles will look for us when they find us gone.”

“How about we head north to Ferron, but stay away from the tracks? Last town we passed was Muddy Creek, and it ain’t exactly close.”

They walked a few hours carrying their saddlebags and canteens on a warm day with little shade available. The wooded areas were becoming few and sparse. When possible, the Kid brushed their prints away with a branch and they walked on rocks, leaving no tracks.

“Heyes, my feet are killing me! Whose idea was this anyway?”

“My feet aren’t exactly enjoying this either, Kid, and it’s your idea.”

“My idea?!”

“Sure it is. You were the one who suggested walking to Ferron.”

The Kid opened his mouth to protest but was interrupted by Heyes. “Hey…do you hear running water?”

The Kid stopped and listened intently. “Sure do; it’s coming from over there!”

Heyes and the Kid headed towards the sound and soon rolled up their pants legs and put their aching feet in the soothing cool water.

“Ahh…that feels so much better,” Heyes sighed.

“It sure does.” The Kid sat down on a rock with his feet in the water.

“Unfortunately, we gotta keep moving and get some distance between us and the Cole brothers.”

“So let’s follow the creek for awhile. It’ll help hide our tracks if the Coles are lookin’ for us and the cool water feels good.”

Heyes patted his partner on the back. “Sounds like a plan.”

The partners cautiously made their way upstream. The going was slower with the slippery rocks, but there was no trail to cover. They walked several more miles until the sun began to set.

“It’ll get dark soon and I’m tired. Let’s find a place to camp; I didn’t sleep well sitting up last night,” Heyes commented.

"I was hopin' you were ready to bed down for the night; I could use some sleep, too," the Kid agreed.

They walked a little further along the creek when they came to a wooded area offering protection. “There’s a good place, Heyes.”

Heyes looked up to the place the Kid pointed out and nodded. “Finally! I don’t think my feet will carry me anymore.”

The two former outlaws scrambled up the creek bank and into the wooded area. They dropped their saddlebags and canteens before easing themselves down. Within minutes, they were both asleep.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Early the next morning, before the sun peered over the horizon, Heyes and the Kid were walking again in the cool of the day. They stayed in or near the creek as they continued to Ferron.

Midmorning, the Cole Brothers arrived at the grove of trees to retrieve their prize catch from the train—Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. As they dismounted and walked to where they left their captives, Eugene piped up. “I dunno why we’re headin’ back to ‘em, Cody. We still don’t have a plan on how to turn ‘em in.”

“Looky, Eugene, we’ll get ‘em and then I’ll think of a plan.”

Travis added, “Hannibal Heyes is a tricky one and they may figure out how to get away. It ain’t safe to leave ‘em alone very long.”

“So we’ll take ‘em back to the hideout ‘til we figure out how to turn ‘em in for the reward.” Cody paused as Eugene gave him a funny look. “You understand that, don’t you Eugene?”

“Uh, yeah, Cody, but…”

“But what?!”

“I think we already left ‘em alone too long.” Eugene ran on ahead, followed by the others, and all they found in the wooded area were the ropes that were supposed to be holding Heyes and the Kid.

“Dang!” Eugene exclaimed. “There went our $20,000.”

“Don’t forget they’re barefoot; can’t go too far or too fast. That was smart thinkin’, little brother,” Cody reminded him.

Travis was on the ground looking for footprints to follow. “Looks like they’re headed to the train tracks. Wouldn’t doubt if they’d follow the rail to Ferron.”

“Nah, Heyes’s too smart to be walkin’ where he can be spotted. He and Curry will be hidin’ from us and that posse,” Cody informed his brothers. “Well, they ain’t here so let’s go find ‘em. Shouldn’t be too hard with them barefoot.”

The three brothers picked up the ropes, rode out of the trees and followed the two sets of footprints towards the tracks. The trail went over the tracks and headed towards another grove of trees when it disappeared.

Cody frowned. “Told you that Heyes was smart. They done wiped their prints away with somethin’. Spread out and keep an eye out for where they start up again.”

The brothers got off their horses and walked around the area in a large circle looking for any signs of what direction Heyes and Curry went.

“Anything?” Cody asked making another round.

“Nothin’ over here,” Travis stated.

“Nothin’ here but some dumb old rocks,” Eugene told his brothers dishearteningly.

Travis looked up. “Rocks? Cody, are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”


“What you two thinkin’?” Eugene asked, looking perplexed.

Cody and Travis walked over by Eugene to check out the rocks. Cody smacked his youngest brother on the head in exasperation. “Eugene, you can be so dim-witted sometimes! These dumb old rocks make great steppin’ stones and leave no tracks. They hafta have gone this way.”

“How’s I supposed ta know that?” Eugene sulked.

The Cole brothers led their horses as they walked through the rocky area. The footprints started up again after the rocks, so the brothers mounted their horses and continued to track Heyes and Curry when they came to a creek and lost the prints.

“Now which way?” Eugene asked.

Cody and Travis thought for a few minutes. Cody guessed, “I’m thinkin’ thataway since it’s headin’ more north to the nearest town.”

“That’s what I’d do,” Travis agreed. The three brother outlaws followed the creek north.

By mid afternoon, Heyes and the Kid were tired and getting irritable.

“How much farther do you reckon we hafta walk?” Heyes wondered out loud.

“Sheesh…how should I know?” the Kid snapped back as he sat down on a boulder and rubbed his toes. “My feet are killing me!”

Heyes joined him and rubbed his soles. “You don’t hafta get proddy…I was just wonderin’ out loud.” He continued to rub his feet for a few minutes and then looked at the Kid. “How far away do you think Ferron was when we got stopped?”

The Kid thought for a moment. “Hmm…I’m guessin’ thirty to forty miles away.”

“Don’t you think we’ve walked close to that already? My feet are thinking so.”

“Probably pretty darn close. I’ll go walk up there and take a look,” the Kid said as he stood, walked up the creek bank and climbed a rock cropping. “Heyes…guess what I can see?” the Kid asked as he grinned at his partner.

Heyes jumped up and quickly followed the path the Kid had just taken. “Ferron!” Heyes exclaimed as he put his hands on his hips and gave his partner a dimpled smile.

“Another hour or two and we can have a bath and real food and crawl in a bed!” The Kid patted Heyes on the back.

“And be away from the Cole brothers. Let’s get going, Kid—I can already feel the whiskey sliding down my throat.”

With renewed energy, Heyes and Curry walked towards the town of Ferron. They were just coming out of a wooded area when they heard the horses behind them.

“Howdy, boys. Goin’ fer a walk?” Cody sneered as he pointed his Colt towards them.
Curry and Heyes sighed as they slowly turned around with resignation on their faces. “Cody,” Heyes acknowledged in frustration. “I have to say, I’m surprised you boys found us. I guess you’re a little smarter than the Kid and I thought.”

Curry rolled his eyes at Heyes' last words and mumbled, "Sometimes you just don't know when to quit, Heyes."

“Smart enough to find you, and that’s all that matters,” responded Cody.

“Sheesh…them boys made it purty far, Cody—almost to Ferron.” Travis turned to Heyes and Curry and smirked. “Too bad fer you that ya didn’t make it all the way.”

Eugene spit a wad of tobacco onto the ground. “Boys shoulda stayed put. Wasted our day lookin’ fer ya. Can’t be doin’ ya no favors now that you done that.”

“You’d have done the same if you were in our place, Eugene,” Curry stated.

“Well, there ain’t no question about you comin’ with us. I think the question now is how—should we let ‘em ride or, since they like walkin’, make ‘em walk some more. Whaddaya think, brothers?” Cody grinned. “Should we double up on the horses fer that long way back? Seems awful mean to do that to the horses.”

Eugene glared at Curry. “I say make ‘em walk.”

“I second that.” Travis chuckled.

“Now boys, we wouldn’t make you walk if’n you were in our place.” Curry forced a smile on his face.

“You boys aren’t thinking,” added Heyes. “It’s going to take twice as long if you make us walk back. If you’re planning on turning us in, why don’t you just turn us in at Ferron?”

“Now you know we can’t just walk into the sheriff’s office and turn you two in without riskin’ gettin’ us arrested, too—who ain’t thinkin’ now, Heyes?” Cody sighed. “I reckon we got the time to go back with you walkin’.”

Heyes and Curry glanced at each other and shrugged. “Well, if you can’t turn us in, why do we hafta go back with you? Why’d you come after us?” Curry asked. “I think me and Heyes can manage to get to Ferron on our own.”

“Didn’t say we weren’t turnin’ you in for the reward. Just gotta figure out how we can do it without gettin’ us arrested, too. You’ll be ‘guests’ of ours ‘til we come up with a plan,” Cody informed Curry. “So you be wantin’ your boots?” he asked sarcastically with a chuckle, “or are ya partial to walkin’ barefoot?”

Curry and Heyes glared at the brothers. “Looks like we’re gonna have some at-ti-tude, brothers,” Eugene said. “I say no boots if they’re gonna have at-ti-tude.”

“Just give us our boots,” Heyes snapped.

“Maybe if you asked nice we can give you your boots.” Travis smiled.

“Can we have our boots back…” Heyes started to say.

“Please.” Curry completed the sentence evenly, staring at the brothers.

Cody smiled and said in a taunting voice, “Throw ‘em their boots, brothers.”

Travis and Eugene threw the boots over to Heyes and Curry who sat down, put socks on, and then put their boots on over sore, blistered feet.

“That doesn’t feel much better, Heyes,” the Kid quietly said as he stood up. “My feet sure are complainin’.”

“Mine too, Kid, but it’ll be better if we have to walk over that rough terrain again,” Heyes answered back.

“Shut up; quit talkin’ among yourselves!” Eugene demanded.

With his gun still aimed at Curry and Heyes, Cody gave more instructions. “Travis and Eugene, tie their hands in front of ‘em with this.” Cody threw two strips of leather thongs at his brothers. “Use that rope we still have and tie one end of the rope ‘round their waist and the other end of the rope ‘round your saddle horns. That’ll keep ‘em from laggin’ too far behind and from escapin’.”

Travis and Eugene got off their horses and did as they were told. They tied Heyes’ and Curry’s saddlebags and canteens onto the horses. When they finished, they mounted up and waited further orders.

“Ready to go, boys?” Cody asked with a smirk.

“I don’t suppose we have a choice, Cody,” said Heyes.

“Nope. Let’s go!” Cody ordered and the three horses with the two walking prisoners started back to where they came from.

For the first few miles, Heyes and Curry were able to keep up with the horses, but soon sore feet and plain tiredness had them being pulled more times than not. They struggled not to fall, but the inevitable finally happened. Heyes stumbled on a rock, fell to the ground and the horse dragged him.

“Stop…STOP…Dang it, Travis and Eugene, stop your horses for a minute!” Curry shouted as he tried to make his way to Heyes. “Back them horses up a little—need some slack in this rope. Heyes, you okay?” Curry glanced over at his partner for any injuries when the horses finally stopped and backed up.

“Yeah…ouch…no, that hurts!” Heyes winced in pain as he rubbed his knee.

“Can you get up?” Curry asked as he offered his bound hands to help Heyes rise.

“Yeah…” Heyes grimaced as he grasped the Kid’s arm and tried to stand up, but groaned when he put weight on his right leg.

“What’s the delay? Get up and let’s get goin’. Now!” Cody demanded.

“Cody, if you haven’t noticed, my leg is hurt. I can’t walk, even if I wanted to,” Heyes said in an irritated tone of voice.

Heyes gingerly put weight back on his right leg and flinched in pain. “You’ll have to let me ride or drag me. It’d take a lot longer if you dragged me, and frankly, I’d prefer to ride.”

“You know what I think, Heyes? I think you’re just fakin’ it so’s you can get a horse. Let’s go,” Cody said and they started forward again. When the slack in the rope tightened, Heyes stumbled, fell to the ground, and was dragged again.

“Damn it, Cody, Heyes ain’t fakin’ it!” Curry yelled as he wrestled with his rope and tried to help his partner.

“Hold up, boys, looks like we ain’t gonna get very far no how, not if we’ve gotta drag Heyes,” Cody said as he stopped his horse. “It’s gettin’ late so why don’t we make camp for the night so our friends here can rest up some.”

“How ‘bout over in them trees, Cody?” Travis pointed to an area a few hundred feet away.

“Sounds good. Let go of the ropes and let them make their way into camp. They ain’t goin’ far if they’re hurtin’,” Cody stated as he reined his horse towards the grove of trees. Travis and Eugene untied the ropes from their saddle horns and followed their big brother.

Curry sighed with relief as he knelt by Heyes still lying on the ground. “You’re gonna have to go a few more feet, Heyes. I’ll help you.”

“Uh huh. Give me a moment, Kid; I need to catch my breath.”

They sat quietly for a few minutes, giving Heyes a chance to recover.

“Okay, let’s get this over with,” Heyes mumbled as he held out his bound hands for the Kid to help him up. With the Kid to lean on, and taking it slowly, Heyes and Curry inched their way into camp and eased themselves down on the ground.

“Nice you could join us,” Cody mocked as he handed them their saddlebags and canteens. “I’ll untie you if you promise to stay put and not go walkin’ off again.”

“We ain’t walkin’ off,” Kid morosely said as he held up his hands to be loosened.

The Kid rubbed his wrists when Cody took the binding off his hands and then knelt by Heyes. He untied his hands and offered him a canteen. Heyes leaned against a tree and took a long drink of water. The Kid rummaged through the saddlebags and handed Heyes some jerky that he readily took.

“Thanks, Kid.”

“How’s the knee? It looks swollen.”

“It is and it hurts. I’m not walkin’ very far ‘til it heals up some. And my feet are killing me.”

“Mine too, Heyes.”

“Can you help take off my boots? Seein’ as I’m injured and all.”

“Heyes, your leg is hurt, not your arms.”

“I thought you would want to be helpful, partner,” Heyes grinned as he removed his left boot. The grin was replaced with a scowl as he tried to bend his right knee to remove that boot. The Kid watched the failed attempt.

“Kid, you’re gonna hafta take off the right boot; I can’t reach it.”

“Sure? It’s gonna hurt.”

“I know,” Heyes growled. “Just do it—on the count of three.” Heyes grasped his knee to give it support.

“Okay, here it goes. One…two…” The Kid tugged at the boot and removed it.

“Dang it, Kid…what happened to three? That hurt!”

The Kid couldn’t help a small grin. “Woulda hurt a lot more if I’da waited ‘til the count of three. You were tightenin’ up that leg and I woulda had to pull a lot harder to get it off.” The Kid gave Heyes a minute and then handled him a canteen. “Want some water?”

Heyes sat back and took a long drink. “Thanks,” he groaned with relief.

The Kid removed his boots, rubbed his feet and sighed. After a little dinner of water and jerky, they lay down on their bedrolls to rest.

A few yards away by the fire, the Cole brothers were discussing several possible means to turn Heyes and the Kid in for the reward money.

Travis thought for a moment. “We could have Ma…”

“Ma couldn’t handle them outlaws!” Cody interrupted him.

Eugene disagreed. “She sure could…dang, she boxed my ears last time I saw her.”

Travis pondered some more. “Or we could kill ‘em and tie ‘em to a horse. They’re wanted dead or alive.”

“Nah...don’t wanna kill ‘em. Haven’t done nothin’ to us,” Cody said, staring into the fire and thinking.

Travis thought some more and then grinned. “Hey, what about that guy we met in jail…Jim Stuckey. He ain’t wanted no more and bet he would do it for part of the reward. Hell, give him $10,000 and we’ll split the rest.”

“Now that’s a thought. Know where to find him?” Cody asked, considering the possibility.

“Last I heard he was in Arizona, not too far away. I could take off first thing in the mornin’ and see if he’ll come back with me.”

“Sounds like our best choice. Agreed?” Cody asked his brothers.

“Yep, us splittin’ $10,000 is better than nothin’,” Eugene agreed.

“I’ll leave tomorrow then,” Travis said with a yawn.

“Okay, we need to keep an eye on our guests over there. Travis, you take first watch, then wake up Eugene in a few hours. Eugene, you can get me up around three. If those two move, I want your gun on ‘em. Hear me?”

Travis and Eugene answered together, “Yeah, we hear ya.”

The Kid rolled over away from the fire and towards his partner. “Heyes…Heyes, you hear that?” Kid whispered.

“Uh huh.”

“That Jim Stuckey from Arizona…you don’t think…”

“Nah, can’t be. Night, Kid.” Heyes murmured as he fell asleep.

“Night, Heyes.” The Kid rolled over again and stared at the stars until he fell asleep.

Continued in Part two...

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.

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Now We're Even by Penski :: Comments

Re: Now We're Even by Penski
Post on Tue 04 Mar 2014, 11:26 am by CD Roberts
nymouslyNow We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Feb 14 2010, 3:59 AM EST
Haven't those boys learnt - they should NEVER travel by train!! Have they ever been on a train without running into trouble??
Hmmm, tied to trees. Helpless. Like it. Now, a posse of middle-aged english ladies find them and... Whaddya mean, just read it and stop altering the plot?!
Like the Larry, Curly and Mo act from the brothers...
Like poor HH having his boots pulled off.
Jim Stuckley... that sounds kinda like... Nah! Couldn't be, could it??
It is! Dear old Jim.
Love him talking to his horse..
And you give us a big Awwww moment at the end to boot!
Clapping, Penski! You spoil us letting us see one of our favourite old friends again!!
(from Max)

Posted Anonymously
1. RE: Now We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Feb 14 2010, 5:45 AM EST
That's a wonderful story, Penski. I loved it. Thought the Baldwin brothers were an excellent bad gang and it was fun so 'see' them left tied to trees! (Max is being naughty - keep to your plot!). Excellent to turn it around and turn the brothers in ... and just maybe Heyes will listen to the Kid next time! (It's Allegra by the way!)

2. RE: Now We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Feb 14 2010, 6:34 AM EST
Aww, Kid's chivalry gets them in trouble--again! Loved the title, loved the casting, loved seeing Jim Stokely! The scene where Heyes and Curry started off blaming each other for their present predicament, only to realize that wasn't accomplishing anything, was well done. I also really enjoyed the scenes of the boys in the shed when they were held prisoner by the Coles, especially the fight scene with Jim. Well done!

3. RE: Now We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Feb 14 2010, 9:42 AM EST
Very nice job, Penski. Kept picturing the boys tied to the trees all night, and then hobbling through the range bootless! I do believe I would have rather got caught and turned in than go through all that. Nice to have that hunk Stokely show up to save their hides.

4. RE: Now We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Mar 9 2010, 12:32 AM EST
Wuh hey! I'm in - eventually! Loving those Baldwin boys - only recently got to know about the 3rd brother, Stephen so was able to picture them all! They must have been crazy to think they could leave those boys tied to a tree and for you not to help them get away! And dear old Jim, we've always kinda liked him! Good job! .... off to try and read another one!

5. RE: Now We're Even... Hey! It's whatshisname!
Mar 14 2010, 12:47 PM EDT
Great story Penski! Casting was spot one - the Baldwin boys as bad guys what a hoot. Felt so bad for the boys having to walk stocking footed and then not quite reaching town - awww. Good stuff - thanks!!!
Re: Now We're Even by Penski
Post on Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:11 am by royannahuggins
Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy

Heyes and Curry, still held captive, ponder whether an old friend might by the one to turn them in. The story continues...

Travis left for Arizona at sunrise. Eugene woke up Heyes and the Kid by kicking them—Heyes on the right leg. “Time to get up, boys!”

Heyes yelped in pain. “Dang you, Eugene; that’s my bad leg!”

Curry glared at Eugene. “Can’t you be more careful?”

“Cody said it’s time to get goin’.” Eugene looked at the swollen knee and asked Curry, “He gonna be able to walk?”

“Does it look like I’m going to be able to walk, Eugene? No, I’m not gonna be able to walk,” Heyes answered. “I’m right here. You can ask me, you know.”

Eugene started walking back to the fire. “Cody, Heyes can’t walk. We’re goin’ hafta double up ridin’ the horses today.”

The Coles broke camp and saddled the horses. Meanwhile, the Kid got his boots on and Heyes got his left boot on over a swollen foot with some muttered curses. After a few attempts to put his right boot on, Heyes decided to keep it off for the day.

The Kid assisted Heyes as he hobbled to the animals and then helped him onto a horse. He swung himself on behind him. “You okay?”

“Now that I’m on the horse—yes,” Heyes said through clenched teeth.

“Got any ideas yet, Heyes?”

“There’s always an idea out there somewhere, Kid. I’ll let you know.”

Heyes stopped as Cody walked over to them. “I’m not gonna hafta tie you boys up today, am I?”

Heyes and Curry shook their heads and said in unison, “Nope.”

“Good. And don’t give me cause to change my mind.”

Cody took the reins of the horse Heyes and Curry were on and led it. “Ready? We should be at the hideout by mid-afternoon,” Cody said as he mounted his horse with Eugene getting on behind him and led the group back on the path.

The two horses and four men made their way back near where the train robbery took place and then headed for the hills. By late afternoon, they arrived at a makeshift camp with several buildings that included a large cabin, barn, corral, and a supply shed with a well in the middle.

Cody got off his horse and stretched. Eugene followed his example and looked to him for orders on what do to with Heyes and Curry.

Cody yawned. “Let’s keep them locked up in the shed. They can keep their saddlebags and canteens, but take their boots away from them again.”

“You heard him; get down and take off your boots,” Eugene ordered.

Curry slowly got off the horse and stretched before reaching up to help Heyes dismount. Heyes gingerly put some weight on his leg, but grimaced.

Heyes put his arm over Curry’s shoulder and leaned on him as they walked to the well. They sat and removed their boots. Cody took them at gunpoint to the supply shed. Eugene walked in the rear with their bags and canteens.

“In ya go…make yourself comfortable!” Cody sneered.

The Kid and Heyes looked into the empty shed and then walked in.

“Behave yourselves,” Eugene said as he slammed the door shut and locked it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Heyes and the Kid spent an uncomfortable night in the shed. By morning, the Kid had had enough of the small space.

“Cody! Cody, you can’t leave us in this dang shed all the time! Cody!” the Kid yelled as he banged on the door.

Cody walked to the shed in a foul mood. “What’s your problem?”

“It’d be nice to get out and clean up some, Cody,” Heyes patiently responded.

Cody begrudgingly unlocked the door, allowing them to come out.

The Kid squinted in the bright sunlight as he helped Heyes limp outside. “How long you plannin’ on keepin’ us in there?”

“Until Travis comes back with Stuckey…few more days. How’s the knee, Heyes?”

“How do you think? Can’t you see I’m limping? Who’s this Stuckey?”

The Kid looked over at Cody curiously.

“Met him in jail. He’s…” Cody paused. “It’s none of your business.”

“Any chance we can stay in the cabin or get a decent meal?” the Kid asked as he got a bucket of water out of the well while Heyes leaned on it.

Cody thought for a few minutes. “You can come out for washin’ up and eatin’ only. Rest of the time you’re back in there. I ain’t takin’ no chances with you two. Eugene is cookin’ breakfast right now so you can come in.”

The Kid stubbed his toe on the corner of the well. “Oww! Can we have our boots back? Dammit, that hurt!” he exclaimed while leaning on a post and rubbing his throbbing toe.

“Yeah, you can have your boots back.”

“How about shaving?” Heyes asked as rubbed his hand over the several-day-old stubble on his face.

“Yeah, you can shave, too. Bring water in the cabin and I’ll let you have your shavin’ kit again,” Cody said as he walked back into the house. Heyes and the Kid followed him inside for their first hot meal in a few days.

The next several days had the same routine. They were allowed out of the shed for meals and personal needs with Cody or Eugene watching them. The rest of the time was spent in the small uncomfortable outbuilding. Heyes found a book in the cabin and was allowed to take it back with him. A few cracks in the wall allowed enough sunlight so he was able read it out loud to the Kid to pass the time. A deck of cards in a saddlebag also helped the time go by.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few days later, Travis rode into the camp at dusk with a companion.

“Travis, you’re back!” Eugene came out of the house to see if his brother had brought back anyone. He was not disappointed. Following Travis was a man in his early 30’s, blond, and riding tall in his saddle. He had a confident air about him and was trailing two additional horses. “You must be Stuckey.” Eugene held his hand up to the stranger.

“Name’s Stokely…Jim Stokely.” Jim took the offered hand and shook it.

“I’ll take care of your horses for ya, Jim. You just go on in the house and help yourself to a drink and some grub.”

“Much obliged...?” Jim got off his horse, removed his saddlebags and handed the reins to the young man.

“Eugene. I’m the youngest of the brothers. This here on the porch is Cody and I’m guessin’ you know Travis.”

Cody shook his head in frustration with his younger brother. “Eugene, don’t you have horses to take care of?”

“I’m goin’…I’m goin’! Just bein’ friendly. May as well give me your horse, too, Travis.” Eugene took the reins from Travis and walked the four horses to the makeshift barn by the corral.

Cody stepped off the porch. “Welcome, Stokely. Glad you decided to come. Come in and get somethin’ to eat and drink.”

Cody and Stokely walked into the cabin and sat at the table while Travis dished up some stew and poured four glasses of whiskey.

“So let me get this right…you captured Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry?” Stokely took another spoonful of stew.

“Yep. There’s a $10,000 reward on each of their heads…wanted dead or alive. Since we’re wanted too, can’t just walk into the local sheriff’s office and turn ‘em in for the reward. That’s where you come in.”

Stokely took a sip of whiskey. “I turn them in, get the $20,000 reward and get to keep $10,000 for my trouble.”

“That’s right. Since you came, you’ve agreed to do the job?”

“I sure could use that $10,000 to get me that land I’ve been wantin’ to buy closer to my sister’s place.”

“So it’s a deal.” Cody raised his whiskey glass.

“Deal.” Stokely raised his glass and the two sealed the agreement with a clink of glasses and a drink.

“So where you keepin’ them outlaws?” Stokely asked while looking around the cabin.

“Locked out in the shed.”

“You’ve kept them in the shed all this time?” Travis spoke out.

“Can’t be too careful with them two. During the day we’ve been lettin’ them out for eatin’ and washin’. Can’t go far with Heyes’ knee and no horses.”

“What happened to Heyes’ knee? Will he be able to ride?”

“Oh sure…it’s gettin’ better everyday. He fell and his knee hit a rock. Got real swollen for a few days. Almost normal now. When you plannin’ on ridin’ out?”

“I’d like to go in the next day or two. Nearest sheriff is two days’ ride I figure.”

Cody nodded. “We’ll go most of the way with you so they don’t escape. Gotta watch those two…they can be tricky.”

Eugene came in the door and sat down at the table. “Stuckey, your horses are rubbed down, watered and fed.”

“Thanks, Eugene. I appreciate that. Name’s not Stuckey, though…it’s Stokely.” He lifted his glass for a refill.

Soon all four men were sitting about the table finishing a bottle of whiskey and telling stories of old times in jail.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Cody! Eugene! Open this door!” the Kid yelled as he banged on the door. “Come on and let us out! Whatcha doin’, sleepin’ in? Cody! Eugene!”

“They ain’t gonna come any faster with you prodding them so, Kid.”

“Heyes, it’s late mornin’ and I’m tired of bein’ in this shed. I NEED OUT, NOW!” the Kid shouted the last part so they could hear from the house.

“Dammit, Kid. Hold your horses. I’m comin’.” Eugene came, unlocked the door and aimed his gun at the captives just in case they tried to overpower him. “We got company. Keep it down or you’ll wake him up. In fact, keep it down ‘cause my head’s hurtin’.”

“Drank too much, huh?” Heyes said as he walked with just a slight limp to the well for water.

“Yeah. We’re packin’ up today or tomorrow.” Eugene thought of something and grinned. “Stuckey brought you horses so ya don’t hafta walk this time.”

“Well at least someone was thinkin’,” the Kid muttered as he pulled up the pail of water.

The cabin door opened and Stokely walked out, stretching on the porch.

“Dang it, you boys woke up our company,” Eugene said as he watched them clean up the best they could.

The Kid looked up from rinsing his face. “Jim? Jim Stokely, is that you?”

Heyes quickly turned toward the cabin as Jim walked down from the porch and towards the well in bewilderment.

“Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith? What are you doin’ here? Fancy meetin’ you here at the Coles’ hideout.”

Heyes smiled. “Well, hello, Jim. Long time no see. We’re sure glad…”

“These ain’t Jones and Smith. This here is Kid Curry.” Eugene pointed the gun at the Kid. “And Hannibal Heyes,” as he pointed the gun at Heyes.

“These two? No…I know them. They helped me and my sister Sarah outta a mess.”

“Cody! Cody! Better get out here…we got us a problem!” Eugene shouted towards the house.

“What is it?” Cody bellowed, coming out of the cabin, his head still hurting from drinking too much.

“They know each other,” Eugene informed his big brother.

“They what? Stokely, you know these two?”

Stokely nodded. “Yep—that’s Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith.”

“Get ‘em back in the shed ‘til we get this figured out.” Heyes was about to say something when Cody continued, “I said git, now! And no talkin’. Don’t wanna hear a sound from you, Heyes!”

Travis came out of the house and helped Eugene get Heyes and the Kid locked in the shed again.

“Let’s go back into the cabin and have some coffee while we talk,” Travis suggested when he had the Kid and Heyes secured in the outbuilding.

The four men sat around the table and sipped their coffee.

“So they really are Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry?” Stokely asked.

“Yep—they sure are,” Cody said as he rose to refill the coffee cups.

Stokely shook his head. “Hard to believe that the same fellas…”

“How you know them, Jim?” Travis asked.

“Well, they were hired by Henderson, my sister Sarah’s husband, to bring her back to him. They convinced her to go back, too. Once I got there, Henderson was killed and I was blamed. Smith and Jones knew I wouldn’t kill Henderson and they worked a plan to get me cleared from the murder charges. They even came into the sheriff’s office to see me in jail. Can’t imagine Heyes and Curry voluntarily walkin’ into a jail. Just don’t make sense to me. Are you sure?”

Cody nodded his head. “Oh yeah, we’re sure. Our two gangs used to cover the same territory so sometimes we met up with them hurrahing a town or on their way to a job.” Cody paused. “You’re still gonna stick to the deal and turn ‘em in for us, aren’t you, Stokely?”

“Yeah…can I talk to them? Alone?”

“If you hand over your gun…sure. Eugene, take Jim over to them.”

Stokely put his gun on the table and followed Eugene to the shed. Eugene opened the door, letting Jim in, and then locked the door again.

“Hi, Jim. Been a long time,” Heyes greeted Stokely as the taller man walked into the shed.

“I don’t know what to call you…Smith and Jones or Heyes and Curry.”

The Kid looked down. “No denyin’ it now. You can call us Heyes and Curry.”

“So you lied to me before.” Stokely sat down on the dirt floor.

“Well Jim, you weren’t exactly honest with us either,” Heyes pointed out.

“I liked ya, Jim. We both liked ya. Didn’t we stick around and get you outta jail?” the Kid asked, looking up again.

“Yeah, and you beat the livin’ tarnation outta me, too, Thaddeus, if I remember right.” Stokely automatically rubbed his jaw, remembering the hard punches from Jones in their street fight.

“Who got the tarnation beat outta him? Think I was in worse shape.”

“And you,” Jim looked at Heyes, “left me tied up in a hotel room.”

Heyes shrugged his shoulders. “Had to get Sarah on the train back to her husband. How is Sarah?”

“Sarah’s fine. Managing to run the ranch by herself and a local rancher is courtin’ her. Nice man. Don’t drink like Henderson did.”

“That’s good, Jim. Real good,” the Kid said with genuine gladness in his voice.

“I just don’t get it. You’re really Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry? I always suspected Smith and Jones weren’t your real names, but you two are nothin’ like I pictured those outlaws. Sheesh, I fought with Kid Curry and held a gun on you both! I should’ve suspected something when you out drew me like that, Thaddeus. I’m a fair gun man myself.” Jim shook his head in disbelief. “And you walked into a sheriff’s office, too!”

“Had to help you out, Jim. We knew you wouldn’t murder Henderson,” the Kid replied.

“And the fact that I paid you,” Jim retorted.

“Well, that did give us extra incentive,” Heyes agreed with a smile.

“Are you really gonna turn us in, Jim?” the Kid asked.

“For $10,000? Do you know what $10,000 will get me, boys?”

“Unfortunately, we do.” Heyes looked Stokely in the eye, trying to read whether he would turn them in or not.

“I dunno, it’s awful tempting.” Stokely sighed heavily. “I had no idea when I agreed to work with the Coles to turn in two outlaws that they would turn out to be the two fellas that saved my life. And,” he gave them a slight grin, “Two fellas that I kinda like.” He was silent for a moment and then added, “Not to mention the fact that I gave my word to those boys. They’re not gonna take too kindly to me if I back out of the deal. They just ain’t gonna let the three of us walk outta here.”

No one spoke for almost a minute and then Heyes asked, “Jim, have you heard anything lately about me and the Kid robbing anything?”

Slightly surprised at the question, Stokely shook his head. “No, come to think of it, I haven’t.”

Heyes made eye contact with his partner, who gave an almost imperceptible nod. “Before you decide what you want to do,” Heyes began, “There’s something we want to tell you. We heard that the Governor of Wyoming sometimes grants pardons to outlaws who go straight. So we contacted an old friend of ours who’s a sheriff now--Lom Trevors in Porterville, Wyoming.”

“We asked him if he thought the Governor could help us out,” the Kid continued. “Lom said he didn’t know, but said if we could prove to him we were serious, and not get into any kind of trouble by robbin’ anythin’ for a year or so, he’d speak to him.”

Heyes nodded and persisted. “And now it's been almost three years and he still keeps saying that it's not the right time politically for the Governor to grant us amnesty." Heyes said, his tone somewhat bitter. “So Kid and I are doing our best to stay outta trouble and away from the law.”

“And if you get turned in?”

“Twenty years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison.”

“Oh…” Jim exhaled a breath. “And you’ve been able to stay straight for almost three years?”

The Kid and Heyes nodded in unison.

“Well…that don’t make my decision any easier now, does it?”

“We’re kinda hopin’ you’ll change your mind,” the Kid looked beseechingly at Jim.

“If…and I mean if, I decide not to turn you in, can you make a fast getaway from here? I heard your knee was bad, Heyes, and I’ve seen ya limpin’.”

“If I need to, I can leave quick. Don’t worry about me.”

“Jim, they took a brooch away from a nice old lady on the train. Supposed to go to her granddaughter for her weddin’ in Rock Springs. Think you can get it from them so the brooch can be returned?” the Kid asked as Heyes rolled his eyes.

“It’s that brooch that got us in this mess.”

“I know, Heyes, but it’d be nice to return it if we could.”

Stokely looked puzzled. “A pin got you in this mess?”

“Yeah…Kid here wanted to save the lady from Eugene, who was taking the brooch. He got us noticed by Cody.”

Stokely nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”

The Kid grinned. “Appreciate it, Jim.”

“Well, let me think about this…” Stokely sighed as he got up and rapped on the door to be released. Eugene unlocked the door and, after letting him out, locked it again.

Stokely started walking to the cabin with Eugene behind him. “You’re still gonna turn ‘em in, ain’t you?”

Stokely hesitated a moment too long. “Of course, Eugene.” He continued walking past the cabin and down a path.

Eugene entered the cabin. “Brothers, Stuckey may be reconsiderin’ our deal. Went for a walk after talkin’ to those two.”

“Don’t let Heyes and Curry outta your sight. And keep an eye on Stokely, too,” Cody ordered as he lit a cigar and sat on a chair on the porch. Travis and Eugene nodded; Travis headed down the path Stokely walked and Eugene headed back towards the shed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stokely wandered aimlessly down a path in the trees. Hearing footsteps behind him, Jim turned around to see Travis following him, so he stopped to let the other man catch up. “Look, I need some time alone. You don’t have to watch me while I think.”

Abruptly he walked back out of the woods and headed for the corral, where the horses were dozing in the sun. His chestnut came over to him and he rubbed the gelding’s nose affectionately. “Hey, there fella,” he said softly, his eyes wandering to the shed where Smith…Heyes and Curry were. “So, what do you think I should do?” The chestnut nuzzled his arm as Jim talked. “I should help ‘em escape, but it’s gonna be dangerous. And $10,000 sure is a lot of money ….that land ain’t gonna be there forever.” The chestnut snuffled loudly and Stokely gave him a sad smile. “Yeah, I know. To spend three years lookin’ over your shoulder while tryin’ to say out of trouble sure is a long time. An’ I do owe those fellas somethin’. They got me cleared of that murder charge, even though they lied to me, tied me up, an’ that fight with Kid Curry…” Jim shook his head as he again remembered the two of them brawling in the street. “Well, I think I know what Sarah would tell me to do…” his voice trailed off as he gave the gelding one last pat and then turned to see Travis walking over to him as he wrestled with his conscious.

“What’s goin’ on?” Travis came up beside him. “Why’d you walk off like that? Eugene’s sayin’ you might not turn those two in.”

“I’m turning ‘em in…I need the $10,000.” Jim turned and walked back to the cabin.

Travis smiled as he followed after him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Heard you’re gonna keep your part of the deal,” Cody said with a smile as he sat on the porch with Stokely.

Stokely stared at the shed. “Yeah…I wanna be the one to tell ‘em.”

“You wanna tell ‘em you’re turnin’ them in?”

“Yeah, is that a problem?”

“No, no problem at all. You can break the bad news to them.”

“Heard you have a piece of jewelry from the robbery.”

“Maybe…why you wanna know?”

“Might wanna make it part of the deal so I can give it to my sister.”

“You can have it. Ain’t worth nothin’ to us.”

Jim stood up and put his gun on the railing. “May as well get this over with.”

“Eugene, let our friend Jim here into the shed.”

“Sure thing, Cody,” Eugene replied from his location near the temporary jail.

Eugene unlocked the door, allowing Jim to walk in and then shut it again. Heyes and the Kid looked at Jim expectantly for his decision, but he sat down without saying anything, a forlorn look on his face.

“Well?” Heyes finally broke the silence.

“Made a decision and decided to turn you…" he let the sentence trail off and shook his head. "Damn, I can’t do it.”

“Can’t turn us in?” the Kid wanted to make sure he understood what Jim was saying.

Stokely shook his head. "Been thinkin' about what you said; how you've been tryin' to stay out of trouble. That can't have been easy." He looked at the partners who both shook their heads. "And I just don't think I can do that to the two people who saved my life." Jim sighed. "And you've even got a sheriff trying to help you."

Heyes gave him a rueful smile. "Yeah, Lom's been a real help to us. Let's the Governor know every now and then how hard we're trying to stay straight and do the right thing. Once in a while he even sends us on jobs the Governor tells him about."

"Sounds look you two have really turned your lives around," Stokely said, a note of admiration in his voice.

“Yep!” Heyes and the Kid both nodded.

“So now we gotta get you away from the Cole Brothers. Any ideas?”

Heyes smiled. “There’s always an idea out there somewhere, Jim.”

“So what’s the idea, Heyes?” the Kid asked with a grin.

“Well, we gotta make sure the Coles believe that Jim's on their side and then Jim could take his turn watching us and break us out. How bad you need that money?”

“Well, I’ve been wantin’ to buy some land near Sarah. That $10,000 would have bought me a nice little homestead.”

Heyes smiled again. “The Coles were gonna turn us in for a reward. How about we turn them in for a reward? They must be worth about $2,000 each. Would $6,000 be enough, Jim?”

Stokely thought for a moment and nodded his head. “Yeah, I guess it would. I probably don't need that extra $4,000 from the rewards on you two."

The Kid grinned as the plan unfolded. “But first we gotta get ‘em to trust Jim.”

“Well, he’s here to tell us he’s turning us in, right?” Heyes looked at Stokely for confirmation and received a nod. “That would sure make us mad, right? You need to hit him in the stomach and jaw, Kid, and we yell at him about being an ingrate when we saved his life.”

Stokely gave Heyes a dubious look. “Wait…he has to hit me?”

“Yeah…have to make it look convincing, don’t we, when the Coles let you out?”

“Well, how about just a blow on the jaw. I can pretend I got hit in the stomach,” Jim countered.

“Kid.” Heyes stepped aside so the Kid could punch Stokely.

The Kid folded his arms across his chest. “I ain’t gonna do it. I like Jim and besides, I did it last time…it’s your turn.”

“Well, I like him too! But one of us has to do it.”

Stokely sighed in frustration. “One of you has to…hurry up.”

Heyes looked over at the Kid, who shook his head. “No, Heyes.”

Shrugging, the dark-haired man glanced at Jim and then, without warning, delivered a punch to the side of his face, knocking him to the ground.

“Sheesh, Heyes. Did you have to do it so hard?” The Kid bent down. “You okay, Jim?”

“Had to make it look believable, didn’t I?” Heyes shot back. “Start yelling at him.”

Curry and Heyes shouted at Stokely for his decision to turn them in. Eugene hurried to unlock the door and found Jim on the floor nursing a bloody lip. “Back up, you two,” he said as he brandished his gun towards them.

Hearing the commotion, Travis and Cody ran to the shed. Seeing Jim still lying there, Travis hollered, “What the hell…you okay, Stokely?”

Jim slowly stood up, groaning as he held his stomach. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

Cody chuckled. “Guess they didn’t take the news well.”

“You guessed right,” Jim said rubbing his face with one hand and holding his stomach with the other as he walked out of the shed.

After dinner, Stokely and the three Cole brothers sat on the porch drinking whiskeys and smoking cigars.

“Still can’t believe they hit me,” Jim said with a grimace.

“Well, you didn’t think they would be pleased to hear the news, did you? Travis raised his eyebrows.

“No, but…it’ll be a pleasure turnin’ them two in now.” Jim smiled as he slightly shook his head.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dusk was surrendering to twilight and a thin crescent moon hung in the darkening sky. Eugene was yawning and tired of watching the shed, longing for a warm bed instead.

Stokely walked over to Eugene, fingering the brooch. “I’ll take a turn at watchin’ the shed, Eugene. Why don’t you go get some shut-eye.”

“You sure, Jim? You ain’t gonna let ‘em escape, are you?”

“Let my $10,000 escape?” Jim massaged his jaw. “After this afternoon, you have to ask? No, I have plans for that reward money.”

“Whatcha got there?” Eugene asked when he saw Stokely holding something in his hand.

“What, this?” Stokely held out the pin. “Cody gave it to me so I could give it to my sister.”

Eugene nodded. “Well, thanks for relievin’ me.” He yawned again and started walking towards the cabin.

“Eugene, key? Just in case they need out.” Eugene tossed the key back to Stokely, who pocketed it.

Stokely waited an hour for the Coles to fall asleep. He walked over to the shed and unlocked it. “Ready?” he whispered as he opened the door.

Heyes and Curry walked out of the shed. “Jim, when you were in there, did you see where they have the guns?” the Kid asked as they cautiously made their way towards the house.

“Saw two gun belts hanging on a peg by the door. Those are probably yours. They keep their guns beside them.”

Heyes quietly opened the door with the Kid right behind him. The Cole brothers were snoring loudly as they reached over and found their guns. Each one walked over to a brother. Curry cocked his gun by Cody’s ear, waking him.

Travis opened his eyes to see a grinning Heyes pointing his Schofield at him. “Time to wake up and go for a ride, boys, down to the local sheriff’s office.”

Eugene sat up and yawned when he noticed Stokely's Colt in his face. “You're gonna turn us in?”

“You’re really quick, you know that, Eugene?” Cody told his brother sarcastically.

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look as big smiles spread over their faces.

“You were turnin’ us in,” the Kid reminded him.

“Yeah,” Heyes added. “You didn’t seem to have any trouble doing that to us so we figured it would be okay to do it to you.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One week later in Rock Springs, Stokely, Heyes and Curry were standing near a church where a wedding was about to take place.

The Kid nodded. “That’s the little old lady over there.”
Jim walked over to her. “Ma’am? I see you’re busy and I hate to bother you, but I think I have something of yours.” He held out the brooch in his hand.

The elderly woman gasped. “I thought I’d never see it again. Where did you…”

Stokely smiled. “Two friends, who would like to remain anonymous, wanted to make sure you got it back. And now I need to be on my way.”

“Grandmother, are you okay?” A young bride came up behind her, concerned.

“Oh honey, remember how upset I was about my brooch being stolen?” The bride nodded. “It’s been returned!”

“But how?”

The grandmother slightly shrugged her shoulders and sighed. “I don’t know, dear, but sometimes it’s best not to ask. The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

And the older woman proudly pinned the antique brooch on the blushing bride and the two of them walked into the church.

Jim walked over to Heyes and Curry, who were waiting for him with his mount. The Kid smiled. “Thanks, Jim.”

Stokely mounted his horse and reached out to shake hands. "Well, boys, it's been a real pleasure. Don't take this the wrong way, but I sure hope we don't meet up again anytime soon. Seems like when our paths cross, someone is in trouble."

Heyes chuckled. “Say hi to Sarah for us,” he said as he shook his hand.

“And have a safe trip,” Curry added.

“Now we’re even,” Jim said as he turned and rode out of town.

“Heyes, next time I say I have a bad feelin’…”

“Next time I’ll listen to you.” Heyes grinned at the Kid. “Come on. Let’s go get a beer.” And the two partners walked into the saloon.

Special Guest Star

Monte Markham as Jim Stokely
Re: Now We're Even by Penski
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