Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 June 2009

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20131030
PostJune 2009

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Heyes and Jed are on their own again, but struggle with life and each other.



Kid Curry slumped over his whisky in yet another shabby saloon, in yet another small town, in the middle of nowhere much.

A saloon gal wandered over to try her luck at getting a little business on a dreary midweek afternoon. One look at the hostility born of utter misery in those blue eyes, scowling out from under a rain-splattered brown brim changed her mind. This was a man who didn't want to talk. Not yet anyhow. Maybe not for a long time.

Kid tapped his glass to order a refill of the whiskey so far removed from being the 'good stuff' he reckoned they oughta pay him to drink it. He didn't care. He just wanted to get drunk and do it quick. He wanted to forget. Forget about what had happened. Forget about Heyes. Forget about their years together. Forget he'd ever had a partner. Forget he was alone. Alone forever. Heyes was the past. Gone. Done with.


---oooOOOooo---

A WEEK EARLIER...

“Heyes, what would our folks think?” Jed asked sincerely as he made eye contact with his cousin.

“In case you haven’t noticed, THEY’RE NOT HERE! Don’t you lay me with no guilt about what our folks would think,” Heyes growled. “I’m tired of just survivin’. I want more in my life. I wanna be someone.”

“So be someone; just don’t be an outlaw! Heyes, you’re smart enough to be anyone…”

“Whaddaya know anyway, kid—nothing! You’d be dead if it wasn’t for me takin’ care of you. Well, you know what? I’m tired of thinkin’ of you first. I should never have left Silky’s to follow you.” He began poking Jed in the chest as he continued. “Time you grow up, kid.”

“I ain’t a kid!”

“Well, you sure act like it sometimes.” Heyes continued to pack his few earthly belongings in his saddlebags.

Jed glared at his cousin as he packed his bags to leave.

“You coming?”

“No, Heyes. I don’t wanna be an outlaw. Don’t wanna ruin my family name.”

“Don’t wanna be an outlaw, but you shoot like a gunslinger. What would your folks think about that?”

“I ain’t a gunslinger…I shoot so I can protect me and my own. There’s a difference.”

“Suit yourself, kid. I’m outta here and, I’m warnin’ you, I ain’t gonna go lookin’ for you this time.”

“What about us bein’ partners and watchin’ each other’s back?” Jed mumbled, half to himself and yet for Heyes to hear.

“Partners…you didn’t think much about our partnership when you took off last time.”

“Heyes…”

“Bye kid; have a nice life.” Heyes walked out of the room and slammed the door shut.

“Bye, Heyes,” Jed mumbled as he sat down on the bed and wiped away a tear. When had things gone so terribly wrong, he wondered?

Jed lay down on the thin mattress in the rundown hotel and stared at the cracked ceiling, thinking back on the last six months.

Six months ago, Jed had jumped in a railcar and left Silky’s place. He had never felt wanted at Silky’s; it was Heyes Silky loved like a son and trained to be his protégé. Silky seemed frustrated by Jed and his obsession to handle a gun. Jed had lost so much in his young life and was determined to shoot well enough to be able to protect himself and Heyes. When Silky used Jed as a scapegoat a few times, Jed had had enough. Heyes had wanted to stay with Silky, but when he realized Jed had left, he went after his only family member. He had once made a promise to take care of his little cousin and he would not go back on that promise.

Heyes found Jed working on a ranch a hundred miles away. Jed was fixing a fence line when Heyes walked up grinning, “Hey, partner, so this is where you’ve been hiding.”

“Heyes, whaddaya doing here?” Jed looked up in astonishment. “Why aren’t you at Silky’s?

“I couldn’t let my little cousin and partner be out on his own. Who knows what trouble you’d find?”

“Trouble…me? I think you’re the one who finds trouble.”

Heyes gave Jed his dimpled grin. “You got it all wrong…trouble finds me, I don’t go lookin’ for it.”

“Yeah, right, whatever you say, Heyes.” Jed walked over to Heyes and smiled. “It’s good to see you again. You stayin’...need a job? Think I can getcha hired here.”

Heyes and Jed stayed at the ranch for a few months until after a cattle drive. They earned horses and used saddles for their hard work. From there, they rode from town to town picking up odd jobs, improving their game of poker, and staying in run-down hotels when they had a little extra money. They starved and slept out in the open more times than not. Heyes fought a deteriorating attitude within himself. He was tired of not having anything and living just to survive; he wanted more. One night, while playing poker, Heyes met Jimmy Oswald.

Heyes noticed Jimmy right away. Jimmy was only a few years older, but he had new clothes and boots, a nice horse with a newer saddle, drank the better whiskey, went upstairs several times with a different girl, and bet wildly on poker. Jimmy had everything Heyes wanted. Heyes slowly gained his trust and asked a few indirect questions about how he had so much money.

Jimmy, having had too much to drink, boasted, “I stole it. The gang robbed a bank several towns away last week. This is my share of the loot--$1,000!”

At first, Heyes was disturbed that Jimmy would brag about a robbery. Sure, he and Kid had done some stealing since they left the Home, but only to survive and only what they needed. But the more Heyes watched Jimmy, the more he wanted what Jimmy had—even if it went against everything his parents had instilled in him. Heck, he could have more than he needed and the work wasn’t hard on the back. Heyes decided to become real friendly with Jimmy to gain his confidence and, hopefully, an invitation to join the gang.

Heyes easily gained Jimmy’s friendship and introduced him to his younger cousin. Jed immediately took a dislike to Jimmy and his flaunting ways. Jed watched Jimmy’s eyes and his movements; nothing seemed to be honest about the man. But when Jed voiced his concern to Heyes, his cousin got defensive.

“You’re just jealous of Jimmy and my friendship. It can’t just be you and me forever, kid.”

“How come you keep calling me kid lately? I’m not a kid so stop callin’ me that.”

Whatever, kid,” Heyes continued to provoke Jed. Heyes didn’t fully realize it, but he was blaming all their woes on Jed and began to vocalize his frustration as he paced their small hotel room. “It’s all your fault, kid. It’s all your fault we’re not at Silky’s. It’s all your fault we’re just barely survivin’. It’s all your…”

“Whoa, Heyes!” Jed interrupted. “I didn’t tell you to leave Silky’s and come find me. I was okay workin’ at the ranch. It was you who didn’t like the back-breakin’ work and wanted us to leave there after the cattle drive.”

Heyes stopped pacing and glared at his little cousin. “You wanna be a ranch hand the rest of your life? I don’t. I got grander dreams than that.” Heyes abruptly put his hat on his head and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

Jed sighed as he heavily sat down on the bed. He leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees and ran his fingers through his hair. He hated arguing with his Heyes. But lately it seemed like all they did was aggravate each other.

Heyes literally bumped into Jimmy as he walked out of the hotel on his way to the saloon.

“Oh…sorry.” Heyes looked up to see that Jimmy had his saddlebags over his shoulder and was walking to the livery. “Hey Jimmy, going somewhere?”

“It’s time to leave this flea-bag town and meet up with the gang again.”

“Oh…” Heyes’ face dropped.

“Say, Heyes, what about you coming with me? I bet you’d get along great with the rest of the gang. Why don’t you pack your stuff and meet me in the livery?”

Heyes sighed. “Can’t…I got my little cousin and promised I would watch over him.”

Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. “He’s good with a gun, right?”

“He sure is,” Heyes brightened visibly.

“Well, bring him along. We can always use a good gun. I’m leaving in about half an hour so hurry up if you’re coming with me.”

Heyes turned and hurried back into the hotel, and ran up the stairs taking two at a time. He burst into their room, excited. “Jed, hurry and pack; we’re leaving!”

Jed looked up, puzzled. A few minutes ago, Heyes had left angry and now he was eagerly packing. “Where we going?”

“Come on…get up! Jimmy invited us to come with him when he meets up with the gang. He’s sure they’ll let us join ‘em.”

Jed slowly stood up as Heyes threw his saddlebags at him. Jed began to pack his bags, but abruptly stopped as he questioned, “Join the gang?”

“Yeah…no more starvin’ or wanderin’ from town to town or wonderin’ where we’re gonna get our next dollar…”

“But Heyes, I don’t wanna join a gang.”

Heyes stopped packing and stared at his cousin in bewilderment. “What?”

“I don’t wanna be part of an outlaw gang.”

“Jed, what are you thinkin’? It’s the answer to all our problems.”

“Sounds like a whole new set of problems to me. You usually think these things out…you sure you wanna do this?”

“Of course I do! Jimmy has more’n he needs and I want what he has. Don’t you?”

Kid sat down on the bed, “No, Heyes.”

“Why?

“Heyes, what would our folks think?” Jed asked as he made eye contact with his cousin.

“In case you haven’t noticed…”

Exhausted from arguing with Heyes, Jed fell into a fitful sleep.

Early the next morning, as the sun peered over the horizon, Jed stretched and yawned. He uneasily looked around the room. Heyes’ things were gone—it hadn’t been a bad dream. Jed stared at the ceiling as he considered where he should go and what kind of job he should get. He was really on his own and had to fend for himself. He doubted he would ever see his cousin again. Alone forever. Heyes was the past. Gone.

Jed got out of bed, washed, and packed his belongings; no sense putting off the inevitable. Mounting his horse, he looked in all directions. There were storm clouds in the northwest, so he decided to head southeast and see where the trail took him. He was likely to run into a town or a ranch. He was bound to find a job…any job. He’d been away from Heyes before and had done okay on his own. And if he had done it before, he could do it again. Jed lowered his hat to shield his eyes and set out resolutely towards the horizon…and to his own future.
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