Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 April 2009

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20131030
PostApril 2009


“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Jed's tired of being Silky's goat one too many times.



Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The gun discharged in rapid succession and was then twirled back into the holster.

Heyes leaned against a tree with his arms folded across his chest watching his cousin. “Thought I’d find you here.”

“Go away, Heyes!” snapped Jed as he set up the cans on the tree trunk again. He walked further away from his last shooting position, took a stance, and the gun seemed to fly into his hand.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Heyes watched his little cousin practice. Although he just turned seventeen years old, Jed could still pass for being fourteen or fifteen. Jed sure looked like his big brother, Shaun. Heyes remembered how his older cousin suddenly grew when he was about seventeen and went from looking like a boy to a man in a short period of time. But Shaun was…Heyes sighed…he hated remembering how he found his cousin after the raid when they lost their families.

“Wanna tell me what’s botherin’ ya?” Heyes asked.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

“No! Jed sighed, “B’sides, you know.”

“Why don’t you tell me anyway?”

Jed sat down on the tree trunk and methodically reloaded his gun. Heyes walked over and sat next to his friend.

“It’s just…it’s just that I hate lookin’ so young and people takin’ advantage of it.” Jed glanced over at Heyes and then looked back on the ground focusing on a pebble. Heyes remained quiet hoping to draw more response from Jed. A few minutes later he was rewarded for his patience.

“Do you know what Silky had me do today? I hadta cause trouble so the deputy went after me and Soapy could getta away. Silky called it a fancy word -- some dang goat. D’you hear what happened?”

“What?” inquired Heyes.

“Ran into the alley and right into the sheriff.” Jed paused. “Sheriff grabbed me by the collar and hauled me to jail. Asked where my parents were and said he was gonna teach me a lesson they should’ve.” Jed hesitated, again. “Heyes, he made me bend over the desk and whupped me -- just like he would a little kid. I haven’t been whupped since the Home.”

Heyes smiled when he heard about the spanking, but quickly frowned when his cousin glanced over.

Jed jumped up from the tree trunk. “You laughin’ at me?”

Heyes put on his most somber face and, standing up, put his arm around his cousin. “I’d never do that, Jed! Sorry to hear you were embarrassed like that.”

Jed stared down again for a few minutes. When he glanced up, his eyes were dark and full of anger. “I won’t be made a fool again -- for nobody.”

Jed took a few more steps away from the log, quickly turned and fired his gun at the pebble.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The pebble bounced into the air and flew higher and higher…

ASJ ASJ ASJ ASJ

A few weeks later, Silky held his weekly planning meeting. Soapy, Silky, Heyes and several others were gathered around a table in Silky’s den discussing upcoming con jobs.

“Soapy, I think Heyes is ready for that con you pulled a few weeks ago. I want you to teach it to him right away,” Silky informed the group. “He can use Jed as a scapegoat, if needed, like you did.”

Heyes’ mind contemplated the word scapegoat…goat…dang goat…scapegoat… This must be the dang goat Jed was referring to when he was angry last time.

“What d’you mean by a scapegoat?” Heyes asked.

“If you get caught or are in trouble, Jed causes a disturbance so you can escape.”

“But he got caught last time…”

“He looks young so the sheriff will go easy on him, just like last time.” Silky interrupted looking around the room. “Where is that kid, anyway? He’s supposed to be here for these meetings.”

Jed knew he was late for the weekly meeting and ran into the house. He stopped to catch his breath just outside the den when he heard Silky ask his whereabouts. He stayed outside the door and continued to listen.

Heyes tried to cover for Jed. “He’ll be here any moment; must’ve lost track of the time.”

Silky became irritated. “Is he shooting that dang gun, again?” His voice rising in volume. “There is no place for a gun man in my organization. I have made myself very clear on that matter. Why does he continue to cross me!”

“He’s good, Silky; he’s really good. Best I’ve ever seen.” Heyes felt the need to explain Jed’s action. “It’s because of our past that he even picked up a gun. Feels he needs to protect us so nothin’ happens to us again.”

“I don’t care. I don’t approve of guns. There is no need for them in a con.” Silky snapped. “This meeting is over.”

Jed couldn’t believe what he overheard. When chairs were being scraped away from the table and people standing up, Jed moved towards the main door pretending he just came into the house.

Heyes was the first one out of the den. “Where’ve you been? Heyes yelled at Jed. “Upstairs, now!”

Jed shrugged his shoulders and followed Heyes to their bedroom. Heyes slammed the door shut.

“You’re late; you know how important these meetings are!”

Jed raked his fingers through his curls. “I was just…”

“What were you thinking? Silky is furious with you! May I remind you how good we have it now? We have food. We have clothes. We have a roof over our heads.” Heyes jabbed his finger into Jed’s chest with each sentence for emphasis. “Don’t you ruin this for us!”

“I won’t, Heyes; I’m sorry I was late!”

“Not good enough.” Heyes shook his head and began to pace. “Do you wanna to go back to scraping out a living? Wonderin’ where our next meal will come from? Never sleepin’ in a warm, comfortable bed?” Heyes stopped pacing and stood inches from Jed. He began poking his finger again into Jed’s chest to stress the importance of this discussion. “I don’t! You’re not to practice your fast draw anymore, either. You’re fast enough and we don’t need to upset Silky. Do you hear me?”

“Yea, I hear you.” Jed mumbled in resignation. “Can I go now?”

“After you go apologize to Silky for being late and promise him whatever he wants.”

“Okay, Heyes.” Jed muttered as he quietly left the room to find Silky and apologize.

ASJ ASJ ASJ ASJ

The next week, Heyes and Jed were walking along the street. Soapy taught Heyes his con and Heyes was anxious to give it a try. But he chose the wrong prey and things started going terribly wrong.

“HELP…sheriff!” yelled the gentleman who Heyes tried to con. To the fortune of the gentleman, and the misfortune of Heyes, a deputy patrolling nearby came running.

“Run, Jed!” Heyes yelled as a deputy chased him down an alley.

Jed saw Heyes in trouble and immediately reacted. He distracted the deputy away from Heyes by running in front of him to slow him down, but was grabbed in the process.

The deputy was livid losing his suspect and dragged Jed by his long blonde curls into the jail.

“Ow; that hurts!” Jed called out as the deputy shoved him in front of the sheriff’s desk.

“You, again!” exclaimed the sheriff. “What’d he do this time, deputy?”

“He aided in the escape of a suspect, sir, same as last time,” the deputy informed the sheriff. “A different suspect this time. This one is a dark-haired male, late teens, and accused of trying to con a gentleman.”

“I thought you’d have learned your lesson last time. Maybe you need a whipping a little harder and longer this time.”

The sheriff forced Jed to bend over his desk and began beating him with his belt.

“I ain’t a kid to be whupped,” Jed shouted back to the sheriff as he clenched his fists. “I’m seventeen.”

“Well, then, you want to be treated like a man; we’ll treat you like a man.” The sheriff grabbed Jed’s hair and pulled him upright.

“Who were you helping? Where’s the scoundrel?” the sheriff interrogated Jed.

Jed remained silent and glared at the sheriff.

“So you’re gonna protect your friend, huh. Put him in a cell until he decides to talk.”

The deputy shoved Jed against the wall and searched him thoroughly before throwing him into a cold, dank cell. Jed had never felt so humiliated -- first being whipped, then searched and now in jail.

The sheriff tried coercion, bribery, threats, and even slapped him a few times trying to get answers and yet Jed refused to tell on Heyes or Silky’s organization. Finally, after four days, the frustrated sheriff released him with a warning.

Heyes waited in an alley near the sheriff’s office for Jed to be released for several days being concerned about his friend. Finally, he spotted his little cousin walking down the street.

“Hey, Jed!” Heyes grabbed Jed by the arm as he walked by. “Why’d they keep you for so long? Silky said they’d be easy on you. I expected you out awhile ago.”

Jed glared at Heyes. “They locked me up ‘cuz I wouldn’t tell on you or Silky.

“You okay?”

“Fine, Heyes; I’m just fine.” Jed shook free from Heyes’ grasp and continued to walk to Silky’s house.

ASJ ASJ ASJ ASJ

Heyes walked into the bedroom as Jed packed his few belonging into a carpet bag.

“And just what d’you think you’re doing?” Heyes asked.

“I’m leavin’!"

“You’re not leavin’.” Heyes stated emphatically. “Where d’you think you’re gonna go? What d’you think you’re gonna do?”

Jed continued to pack. “Don’t know, but I’ll think of somethin’.”

Heyes grabbed Jed by the arms to stop him from packing, gently lowered him into a sitting position on the bed and sat down beside him. “What happened in the jail to get you so fired up?” he asked concerned.

Jed remained silent staring at the floor.

“Obviously you were locked up. Did they hit you?”

Jed briefly glanced at Heyes and then stared at the floor again.

“Okay, so they hit you.” Heyes thought for a moment and sighed. “Like last time, huh.”

“Yeah, Heyes like last time, but with a belt. Got searched…everywhere, threatened and smacked around, too. Told you I won’t be made a fool again for nobody.

There was a few minutes of silence when Jed looked up and made eye contact with Heyes. “Remember what you read in that book of yours -- something about ‘Fool me once’? This is two times now and I’m done.”

Heyes remembered the line he read and explained to Jed awhile back. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” He couldn’t blame Jed for being mad.

Jed got off the bed and continued to pack. “You comin’?”

“No and you’re not goin’! Look, I’ll talk to Silky, again. Everything will be alright.”

“You just can’t talk to Silky and make everything alright, Heyes.”

“Sure I can.”

“Look, Silky and the boys love you. What’s that fancy French word they call ya – proto…something?”

“Protégé.”

“That’s the word.” Jed sighed. “Look, I heard what was said in that meeting about me and my gun. They don’t want me around; they’ve made that quite clear.”

“Sure they want you…”

“Want me for what – being that goat? Told you I ain’t gonna be made a fool again.”

“Jed, listen…”

“Heyes, I just don’t fit in and don’t wanna be here iff’n I’m not wanted.”

ASJ ASJ ASJ ASJ

That night, Jed slipped out of the house while Heyes read a book in the parlor and hopped into the boxcar of a departing train. The destination didn’t matter to him, as long as it took him away…far away from Heyes and those friends of his.

Heyes had made a decision and that decision did not seem to include him. Heyes heard a train’s whistle in the distance and looked up from his book. Funny how he never recalled hearing it before. Suddenly he felt a deep ache in his chest; a void in his heart he experienced once before when saying good-bye to his parents. “Jed? Oh, no…Jed!” Heyes whispered.

Heyes ran up the stairs two at a time and went to the room to discover Jed and his bag missing. He quickly packed up his belongings; he had a train to follow. He wasn’t about to let his cousin and best friend be out in the world by himself. He’d just track him until he found him. Not wanting to leave on bad terms with Silky, Heyes wrote a note explaining their departure and left it on the desk.

Jed sat in the corner of the boxcar among the crates of wares; his head resting on his knees which were pulled up to his chest. He quickly wiped away tears of anger and frustration…tears of despair and loneliness.

“Goodbye, Han…goodbye…”


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