Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 July 2009

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20131030
PostJuly 2009

Independence

Heyes and Jed are independent...of each other.



Heyes:

I was so mad and frustrated with Jed when I walked out and slammed the door. I wanted to flatten him, sling him over his horse and force him to come with me. I did make a promise at his folks’ grave to watch his back and take care of him. And I did look after him for eight years. Not that I minded it. He’s pretty easy-going, smart, and followed my lead. But I can’t expect to be held to that promise forever, can I? He’s seventeen, now; practically a man. About time he grows up and takes care of himself.

Dang him…saying “what would our folks think?” He almost, almost, got me there. He didn’t say it to lay a guilty conscience on me, but it did. I mean, it almost did. They’re not here so what do I care what they would think about me joining an outlaw gang?

We left Silky’s ‘cause of Jed. Think of what I would’ve learned and been able to do if I had stayed with him. Silky taught me how to play cards and know if someone’s cheatin’, how to run some con games, and how to break into things. Heck, we were just fancy outlaws! I was NOT gonna miss another great opportunity because of Jed. But, I can see now why Jed didn’t like it there. Silky didn’t take to Jed like he did to me. Still….

I saddled my horse and tied down my few earthly possessions when Jimmy came into the livery. “Ready to go?” he asked me. Yup, I was ready to leave this town and my only living relative to make my fortune. Okay, I guess I really wasn’t ready to leave my only kin, but hey, he made the choice to stay. “Your cousin comin’?” Jimmy wanted to know. I didn’t want to tell him about our fight, so just told him Jed decided to stay behind.

On the trip to meet the gang, Jimmy told me more stories about the gang’s feats and their hideout. He told me how to get along with Plummer, the leader, and who in the gang was trouble. We were barely a few miles outta town when I pushed thoughts of leaving Jed behind and started concentrating on my new future. My independence from Jed.

We met up with the gang at their hideout. It was a few shanties hastily built; nothing to brag about. Fact is, when a storm came up and the wind howled, the shanties weren’t much protection. The gang was a real mix of characters from lots of backgrounds. Most don’t have an education and were pretty destitute. I was the youngest and the smartest…well, next to Plummer I was the smartest.

Plummer weren’t the oldest, but he did have smarts over the rest of them. He led the gang with fear of his gunman, Jimmy, and it was his way or leave. Didn’t like nobody questioning him. I found that out pretty fast. Jimmy gave me a look that…sheesh, thank goodness looks don’t kill or I’d be dead.

Beings the youngest and newest member of the gang, I got to do all the work ‘round camp nobody else wanted to do. I hadta wash dishes, clean up after the boys and the horse droppin’s, and get Plummer’s bath water ready. He actually had a genuine bathtub up there. It sure was a chore haulin’ and heatin’ all that water. Part of the attraction of being an outlaw, huh?

The first job I got to go on was a bank robbery in Clarksburg in broad daylight. My job was to hold the horses for a quick get-away and keep an eye on the townsfolk. I was also supposed to distract anybody from coming up to the bank. I thought I looked purty obvious holding the horses, but I got another look from Jimmy when I started to mention it so I kept quiet.

The escape from Clarksburg could’ve gone smoother. We stayed together—I would have split up, but who am I to question Plummer? The posse came up real fast and bullets flew. I never was so scared, but it was a thrillin’ scared. Know what I mean? It was…oh, what’s the word…exhileratin’. That is til a bullet whizzed by my ear and another bullet hit one of us outlaws in the leg. Ugh, I watched as they dug the bullet out when we got back to the hideout.

My share of the loot from that first robbery came to $50. Don’t seem like much, does it? Learnt that Plummer and Jimmy get half and the rest of us split what’s left. Guys were grumblin’ that they got less than before because of me; I added to the number they had to split between.

I did think about my little cousin once in awhile; okay, more often than not. Wonder what he was doin’ and if he was stayin’ outta trouble. I…I missed him. We was more than cousins—more like bestest of friends and would do anything for each other. We both watched each others’ back since, sheesh, since we was little kids. I gotta always watch my back here. Can’t trust nobody. And he’d always listen to me. No one here listens to me and I have some good ideas how to make things better.

I learnt and improved on something I like to call finesse while in the gang. I found out how to suggest things to Plummer instead of tellin’ him how to do things. He took to that better. I even showed him a trick I learnt while living at Silky’s—opening a safe listen’ to the tumblers. He couldn’t hear ‘em, but I can hear the tumblers. This may sound dumb, but safes call to me and beg me to open them.

I got quite the reputation for opening safes, which earned me a price on my head. A gang member, who didn’t particularly like me, called me by name, Hannibal Heyes, during a robbery. That’s all the marshal needed to put out a reward on me. The reward weren’t much and it ain’t something I’m proud of. I think about what Jed said the last time I saw him. My folks wouldn’t be so proud if they knew what I’ve become. But, I can’t quit. It’s not just the money, though it sure is nice havin’ some; it’s the thrill of the ride, hearin’ the safe call my name and me knowin’ I can open her.

Heard the other day about a famous gunslinger who was killed. Made me think of Jed. With his gun, he’s headin’ to become a gunslinger, if he ain’t one already, and they have short lives. Wonder if Jed’s even still alive…

I can’t believe Plummer up and disappeared with all the loot--$30,000! Dang him anyway! It was our biggest robbery ever and I opened the safe. Me and the rest of the gang searched everywhere for him in case he was hurt or dead. We’d have heard about it if the law got a hold of him. It’s like he vanished into thin air.

Ahh…it happened again! Someone taking advantage of me ‘cause I’m alone. What I need is a partner and someone to watch my back. A partner like…Jed; I sure hope you’re okay.

Plummer’s gang disbanded when he disappeared. I joined Big Jim Santana and the Devil’s Hole Gang—I’m in big time now! And I’m not just the new kid. Big Jim respects me and listens to what I gotta say. He likes the idea of opening safes at night and doesn’t hold to nobody getting hurt. That’s how I’d do things if I were in charge. Me in charge of a band of outlaws—what would my folks think?

Jed:

I couldn’t believe Heyes left me, and for what, to be an outlaw. Why in tarnation was he so hell-bent on being an outlaw? He’s smart, real smart. He could be anything he wanted to be. When he slammed the door and left, I just lay in bed and remembered back over the last few months that led to me and him separatin’.

He was always there for me since our folks died. Well, there was that month we was separated at the Home when he left to work on a farm, but he came back soon as he could. Good thing, too, since I was really sick. Guess it wasn’t easy takin’ care of me. He always made sure I had somethin’ to eat, even if it meant he didn’t. Course, I didn’t always know it at the time. When I figured out he wasn’t eatin’, I made sure I left some for him.

Anyway, the next morning I left and headed southeast. Stopped at every ranch and town askin’ for a job, but didn’t get anywhere. No one wanted to hire a kid. Wish I didn’t look so dang young! I was starvin’ and angry, drinkin’ a cheap whiskey in a shabby saloon with the last of my money. I was feelin’ sorry for myself, thinkin’ about Heyes and bein’ alone.

Told myself I gotta think more positive…instead of feelin’ bad, I gotta think of it as independence from Heyes. Now I can spend my money...when I get some again…and time practicin’ my shootin’ whenever I wanna.

A rancher, Mr. Johnson, walked up to me in that saloon and asked if I could shoot that tied-down gun. Told him I could usually hit what I aimed for and he asked me if I wanted a security job. See what positive thinkin’ will getcha? Pay was room, board and $40 a month. Purty good, huh? And workin’ security ain’t too hard on the back. We went out back of the saloon and I showed him what I could do with a gun. He was impressed and hired me right away. Always told Heyes my knowin’ how to shoot wasn’t a bad thing.

But, maybe it is. See, the security job wasn’t exactly a job securing. More like a job of scarin’ folks, ‘specially the farmers, to see it Mr. Johnson’s way. I always felt bad, real bad, afterwards. I don’t like seein’ terror and fear in people’s eyes ‘cause of me. I developed a look, a mean don’t-mess-with-me look. First people laughed at me threatenin’ them seeing I look so young; Mr. Johnson started callin’ me his ‘Kid Curry’, like he owned me, and the name stuck. They quit laughin’ after they seen me draw. Got quite a reputation for my fast draw, in fact.

About half a year after I was hired on by Mr. Johnson, I quit. See, he wanted me to gun down someone. Told him I was no killer. He offered me more money and then tried threatenin’ me, but I still said no. I quickly left after that.

Heyes was right. Don’t think my folks would’ve been proud of gunslinger Kid Curry anymore than being an outlaw. I don’t like to think of myself being a gunslinger, but you gotta call an ace an ace and a fast-draw, like me, a gunslinger.

Sheesh…I miss Heyes! We’d been friends since…dang, I don’t remember ever not bein’ friends. He could make every day a fun adventure, even when we were at the Home or on our own. He gave up a lot to find me after I left Silky’s. He had a good thing there and really loved it. I couldn’t stay no more; Silky didn’t like me. He never said it, but Heyes blamed me for havin’ to leave Silky’s. I think that’s one of the reasons we separated. Wonder what kinda trouble he’s gotten himself into being an outlaw. Wonder if he’s even still alive.

After Mr. Johnson, I moved further south. Became a hired gun a few more times, but hated it every time. Tried to get other kinds of jobs, but they were few and far between. Besides, no one seemed willing to hire a young kid with a tied-down gun. Got a few jobs guardin’ payroll. I don’t mind those kind of jobs. Got robbed once and the bank blamed me for lettin’ the outlaws take the money. Like I had a choice when there was four of them and one of me.

Saw a wanted poster…a wanted poster for my only kin! Ah Heyes, what’d you get yourself into? If your pa and ma knew…Then again, if my ma and pa knew that I terrorized farmers…

And then it happened, my worse nightmare. Some guy, I didn’t even know his name, wanted to prove he was faster than me. I suggested we shoot cans or somethin’ behind the saloon, but he was mulish on it bein’ a gunfight. I usually aim to injure ‘em, not to kill ‘em. I didn’t wanna kill this cowboy who called me out, but I knew that this time it was gonna be him or me. I’ve gotten purty good recognizing when they’re threatenin’ or really gonna shot to kill. They said it was self defense. God, I felt so sick! Not only felt sick, but got sick in the alley afterwards. Then his friends bushwhacked me. They was drunk and plannin’ to kill me, but I got away and high-tailed it outta that town. What I need is someone to back me up. Someone like…wonder what Heyes is doin’?

Sheesh…I’m so tired. Seems I’ve made a reputation as Kid Curry, fastest gun in the West. Now others wanna challenge me for the title. Can’t get much sleep watching my own back all the time. Only job I can get is hiring out my gun and I don’t wanna do that no more. Gunslinger…outlaw…shoot, what’s the difference? Wonder where Heyes is…if he’d have me back as his partner, even if it means me bein’ an outlaw? Last I read on his wanted poster, he’s in the Devil’s Hole Gang now. Maybe I’ll head up that way to Wyoming. Maybe we’ll run into each other.
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