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 The Lineage Chapter four Revelations.

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Keays



Posts : 33
Join date : 2013-09-26

20131110
PostThe Lineage Chapter four Revelations.

Revelations
 
 
  “C'mon Heyes,” Jed chided his partner.  “You’ve been sittin' out here all morning.  The northbound is due in a couple of hours—we gotta get ready.”
 
  “I am ready,” Heyes responded though he didn't take his eyes off the horizon.
 
  Jed stood for a moment, let loose a quiet sigh and returned to the front room.
 
  “Is he coming?”  Joe asked as he stuffed a shirt into his saddlebags.  He cringed as his left hand got in the way.  “Ouch!  Goddammit!  Oh, sorry, Mrs. Trevors.”
 
  Martha smiled as she handed out wrapped sandwiches and baked goods for their trip.
 
  “That's alright deputy,” Martha assured him.  “I'll pray for you at services.”
 
  “Oh,” Joe looked embarrassed, not sure if she was being serious or not.  “Yes ma'am.”
 
  “How is he?”  Martha asked with a quick nod towards the front porch.
 
  Kid shrugged.  “The same.”
 
  “Geesh!”  Joe grumbled.  “He was grumpy enough before, now he's gonna be downright impossible.”
 
  “Oh I don't know,” Jed disagreed as he stuffed the lunch offering into his bags.  “I think Heyes is still a long ways from being 'downright impossible'.  I think he's still hovering at 'annoyingly impossible', then that'll move into 'frustratingly impossible' and then 'infuriatingly impossible' before he finally settles on 'downright impossible'.”
 
  Joe just shook his head while he finished packing.
 
  Martha stepped out onto the porch.
 
  “Hannibal, what....?”
 
  She stopped in mid-sentence.  Heyes was on his feet, his hand shading his eyes from the glare of the noon sun while he gazed into the distance.  His whole body was on alert, every muscle tense as he strained to see beyond what his eyes were capable of.  Something was out there, he knew it.  He couldn't hear it, or see it but he could feel it.  She was coming.
 
  Martha stepped up to stand beside him and looked in the direction that he was fixed on.  She also shaded her eyes and gazed out passed the boundaries of their property.  She couldn't see anything but she could feel Heyes' tension and her own heart started to beat a little bit faster.
 
  “There,” Heyes suddenly pointed.  “Do you see it?  Dust.”
 
  “No,” Martha admitted, but continued to scrutinize the far distance.  “Jed!  Jed, come out here.”
 
  Both Kid and Joe came out and joined them on the porch wondering what was going on.
 
  “What is it?”  Jed asked.  “Someone coming?”
 
  “I think I see dust rising out there,” Heyes told him.  “Can't you see it?”
 
  Jed shaded his eyes and looked but shook his head.  “I don't see nothin' Heyes,” he said with a touch of disappointment in his tone.  “C'mon, we better...”
 
  “I see it,” Joe announced as he stepped up beside the partners.  He pointed in the same direction Heyes had been.  “It's right there.”
 
  Jed looked at him.  “You can see something?”
 
  “Yeah,” Joe told him with a shrug.  “It's small but it's getting bigger.  It's definitely dust though,” he squinted and raised a hand to shield his own eyes, “and looks like a single horse in the middle of it.”
 
  The other three people on the porch went back to scrutinizing the distant landscape.
 
  “I can't see nothin',” Jed commented again. “Can you see anything Heyes?”
 
  “I thought I did, but now I don't know.  The sun's getting in my eyes.”
 
  “Oh c'mon!”  Joe sound exasperated.  “It's right there!”
 
  Martha shook her head in frustration and sighed, giving up the search.
 
  “You boys have too much height over me,” she told them.  “I can't see anything.”
 
  “Oh wait!”  Heyes was suddenly animated again.  “There!  I knew I saw something.  That dust rising in the air.”
 
  Jed shielded his eyes again.  “Oh yeah...okay.  But that could be anything.”
 
  “No, it's a horse,” Joe informed them, “a single horse.  I can't quite make out the colour yet though.”
 
  All three people turned to stare at the young deputy.
 
  “You can see that?”  Jed asked him.  “I can't see that.”
 
  Joe shrugged.  “Pa always said I had real good eyesight.”
 
  Heyes and the Kid exchanged looks.  They were both starting to feel really old.
 
  “Yes, well that's life,” Martha commented philosophically.  “Lom started noticing his eyesight going around the age of forty.  And I certainly can't see anything out there.  Oh wait!  Oh yes, there it is.  Coming right towards us.”
 
  The partners made another optical exchange but neither was inclined to say anything.
 
  They all stood on the porch and watched as the dust cloud got bigger and closer.  Pretty soon everyone could see what did appear to be a single horse galloping their way.  Heyes was tense again, shielding his eyes and watching as the animal got closer.  He was sure it was her, who else could it be?  A lone horse galloping towards the house—but he wanted to be sure before he got his heart set on it.  He watched it, looking for a rider but hoping against hope that he wouldn't see one.
 
  Finally a quick smile escaped him before he could stop it and then his whole face was grinning.  He laughed out loud and he could hear Kid laughing too and his partner was giving him a slap on the back.
 
  “You're right!”  Jed said.  “It's her, Heyes!  She's comin' back.”
 
  “Yeah!”
 
  Everyone was off the porch in an instant and waiting for the mare to cover the distance to reach them.  As she got closer the exuberance over her return was marred by the details of her condition.  Contrary to the previous belief, she was not coming at them in a full gallop, but at a tired, forced lope.  Her head was down and angled slightly to the side so she could avoid stepping on the reins and her whole demeanour dragged with exhaustion.
 
  Her ears and head came up as she recognized her 'herd' and she slowed to a staggering trot and then stumbled to a halt as Heyes came up and took hold of the reins.  He stroked her neck and Karma tucked her head into his chest and stood there, her legs trembling.  Heyes continued to pat her, his voice lost in his concern as he did a visual inspection of her sweat and dust caked body.
 
  Martha found her voice first.  “Oh dear.  The poor thing,” she commiserated as she gave the mare a pat.  “She looks like she's been running for hours.”
 
  “Probably since yesterday,” Kid confirmed as he did a hands-on inspection.
 
  He moved around the exhausted mare, running his hands gently over her hide and down her legs.  He frowned when he noticed blood on her sides, right around stirrup level.
 
  “Someone's been rakin' her with spurs.”  Jed announced quietly.
 
   A dark cloud crossed Heyes’ face.  Whoever had mistreated his horse had payback coming.
 
  “Doesn't look like she put up with it thought,” Jed continued, noting his partner's expression and trying to lighten the mood.
 
   Heyes nodded acknowledgement and then stood quietly, he and his mare lost in a head hug.  Karma was in bliss.  She leaned into his chest, finally at home, finally feeling safe and comforted.  His arms embraced her, his scent and his touch surrounded her as he murmured soft endearments in her ear.  She could have stood like that forever.
 
  “Ah, I kinda hate to break this up,” Joe mentioned, “but if we're gonna make the train we gotta get going.”
 
  Heyes glanced over at him, his thoughts coming back to the outside world and then he looked over to his partner.
 
  “She's not gonna be ready to travel in time,” he said softly.  “She needs to rest.”
 
  “She could rest on the train,” Jed suggested.  “We'll make sure she has lots of bedding and plenty of food and water.  She'll be fine.”
 
  “Yeah, I suppose,” Heyes didn't sound too convinced.
 
  “You still got time to get her cleaned up,” Jed continued.  “If you want to stay here and do that, Joe and I can go into town and get everything else organized.”
 
  “Yeah, I suppose,” Heyes repeated.
 
  “We gotta stop at the mercantile anyways for supplies,” Jed reminded him, “so if there's anything else you want us pick up....”
 
  Heyes nodded.  “Yeah.  I expect she's pretty sore so some liniment would be a good idea and an ointment or something for the cuts,” he smiled, “and some apples for all three of them.”
 
  Jed smiled, relieved that he had his partner convinced to stay with their plans.  It was time they were on their way again.  Besides, taking advantage of Lom and Martha's hospitality for another three days while they waited for the next train just didn't feel right.
 
  “Okay Heyes, we'll see ya in town,” Jed said.  “C'mon Joe let's get going.”
 
  “I'll get some water from the well,” Martha offered, “and some rags from the shed.  We'll get her cleaned up and looking like new.”
 
  Everyone went off in different directions to tend to their errands.  Heyes released Karma's head and softly clucked to her to get her to move closer to the hitching rail.  She didn't want to move, but her human was asking her to so she took a stiff step and then another until she was where he wanted her.  She stood quietly, head down and eyes closed while he pulled the saddle and bridle off her and laid them aside.
 
  He applied some pressure while running his fingers down the length of her back on either side of the spine.  The muscles tightened and flinched away from his touch. He nodded to himself; she was sore alright.
 
  “Here we go,” Martha announced as she set two buckets of water down beside them.  “Let’s get this mare cleaned up.”
 
  “Oh, Martha I'm sorry,” Heyes suddenly became aware of his rudeness.  “I've should have gotten those, they must be heavy.”
 
  “I lug water from the well all day long,” Martha waved away his apology.  “Nothing new to me.”
 
  Heyes nodded acceptance of that but still felt contrite.  Concern for his mare had overshadowed his manners and he promised himself he wouldn't do that again. 
 
  They both dunked the rags into their respective buckets and began to wash down the tired mare.  Karma sighed deeply and settled in to enjoy the sponge bath.  It felt so good, the cool water washing over her body and cleaning away all that grim.  She was very tired and looking forward to a nice stall with fresh straw, or a grass filled pasture would be even better!  But for now she was relishing the cool liquid and even tried to dip her nose into the muddied water in a bucket in order to get a drink.
 
  “Oh no you don't,” Heyes moved the bucket out of her reach.  “I'll be right back.”
 
  He dumped the dirty water and headed over to the well to refill the bucket with clean water.  Of course Karma would be thirsty; she'd come a long way and in the heat of the day too.  Again Heyes shook his head at his own thoughtlessness.  He hadn't realized how worry over his horse had affected his thinking and reprimanded himself for being a fool.  If he had allowed things like this to take over his thinking while running the Devil's Hole Gang, well, Wheat would have taken over a whole lot sooner than he did.  It was time to wake up and get on with things.
 
  He returned with the water bucket and set it down under Karma's nose and she didn't waste any time in sucking the liquid down.  She asked for more, but Heyes said 'no'; too much at once would give her a belly ache.  She didn't like that answer, but she accepted it for now.  Besides, this bath really did feel good.
 
  While Martha continued to wash the mare down, Heyes took a closer look at the wounds on her side.  He touched them and the flesh flinched away, still too tender to appreciate that close of an inspection.  Heyes frowned.  He never used spurs himself and felt that anyone with any lick of horse sense didn't need them.  He straightened up and gave Karma a wet slap on the neck.
 
  “What's this scar on her thigh here?”  Martha asked from the other side.  “That's an odd place for an injury.”
 
  Heyes nodded but shrugged.  “Yeah I know,” he agreed.  “I don't know how she got it; she had it when I acquired her.”
 
  “Oh,” Martha leaned in for a closer look.  “Very strange.”
 
  “Why?”  Heyes asked.  “She likes to jump.  I figured she got it from getting hung up on a fence or something.”
 
  “Yes, I suppose.  It's just...”  Martha straightened up, shaking her head.  “Oh never mind.  I'm sure it's nothing.”
 
  Heyes was back to fussing over his mare, stroking her wet forelock and messaging her chin.  She stood there with her eyes half closed and her muzzle resting against his shirt.  Now that her thirst had been slaked, her hunger was trying to get her attention, but she ignored it because for right now she was in heaven.
 
  “You best get going,” Martha reminded him.  “After all this you don't want to miss your train.”
 
  “Oh yeah!”  Heyes woke up again.
 
  “I'll get your things out of the house while you get her tacked up again.”
 
  “Okay, thank you.”
 
  Heyes picked up the bridle and slipped the bit into the mare's mouth again.  Karma was disappointed and surprised.  Wasn't she going to be able to rest now?  She was more than tired; she was exhausted.  Usually her human could tell when she was out of sorts, but here he was throwing that saddle onto her back again.  Her head went up and her ears went back; how could he do this to her?
 
  “It's alright darlin',” Heyes gave her a pat.  “A short walk into town and onto the train and then you can rest to your heart's content.”
 
  She still wasn't sure if she believed him or not and gave her head an irritated shake as he tightened the cinch.  Her back and girth area were already sore from having the saddle on for over twenty-four hours and the last thing she wanted was for it to be strapped back on again.  But then he didn't tighten the cinch by very much, just enough to keep the saddle in place but not enough to stay in place while a human mounted up.  This was promising.  Perhaps she wasn't going to be expected to put in a day's work after all.
 
  “Here you are, Hannibal,” Martha announced as she came down the steps.  “I put some special pastries in your bag, just for you so don't tell the others.”
 
  Heyes gave her an impish smile and took her into a hug.
 
  “Thank you Martha,” he said.
 
  “Oh my!  If I'd known some simple pastries would get such a welcome I would have done it sooner!”
 
  Heyes laughed.  “Well the pastries are certainly appreciated,” he agreed, “but I really meant for our talk the other day.  I was being silly; feeling awkward around you.  And I didn't even know why I was until you pointed it out to me.  Lom has himself a fine wife and a good friend.  Thank you.”
 
  “You're welcome,” Martha accepted the compliment with a smile.  “You keep in touch; let us know how things are going.  But, I think I can honestly say that you're going to do well.  You and Jed have your lives going in positive directions now.  Lom and I are both confident that you are going to do just fine.”
 
  “Thank you Martha,” he gave her another hug.  “Goodbye.  And we will keep in touch.”
 
 
  It took Heyes longer to get down to the train depot than he had anticipated, mainly because Karma was so stiff and sore that all she could manage was a stilted walk.  Heyes walked along beside her and encouraged her every step and tried not to let his anxiety come through.  He knew the train had arrived as he had heard the whistle so he also knew that the Kid and Joe would be waiting for him and probably getting worried.
 
  Fortunately he made it to the depot in time and with some to spare.  Jed and Joe had already loaded their horses onto the boxcar and were standing at the base of the ramp talking with Lom.  All three men perked up and looked their way as Heyes and Karma came around the corner of the building and headed their way.
 
  “Well there she is,” Lom stated.  “They told me she came back.  Just in the nick of time too.”
 
  “Yeah,” Heyes showed his relief.  “She's pretty tired though and beat up some.  I swear if I ever run into Tom Duncan I'm going to have a thing or two to say to him.”
 
  “Uh huh,” Lom commented sceptically.  “Don't you go lookin' for him, Heyes.  You'll only get yourself into trouble.”
 
  “I know,”  Heyes agreed in a tone that suggested that nobody needed to tell him that.  “I'm just saying ‘if’ I run into him.”
 
  “Well, that's fine,”  Lom accepted that.  “We'll see what Wheat and Kyle come up with.  Maybe it wasn't Duncan who took her.”
 
  “Hmm,”  Heyes highly doubted that.
 
  “You heard from them yet, Lom?”  Kid asked.
 
  “No, not yet,”  Lom admitted, “but I expect to any day now.  If you boys happen to see them before I do, tell them to drop me a line will ya?”
 
  “Yeah sure,”  Kid agreed.
 
  “Did you get the liniment, Kid?”  Heyes asked.
 
  “Yup,”  Jed assured him.  “It's all in her stall.  Real nice bedding and good hay too, for all of 'em.  I made sure Karma got some grain as well, figured she could use it.”
 
  “Yeah, good thinking,”  Heyes smiled.  “Thanks, Kid.”
 
  “You gonna load that mare up, or what?” the enquiry came from behind them. They all looked around at the conductor.  “This train is leavin' in ten minutes.  Be on it or stay behind.”
 
  “Oh, we'll be on it,”  Heyes assured him.  “Ah, sir? How long to the next stop?”
 
  “Little over an hour,” was the reply.  “Only for fifteen minutes though, not enough time to exercise your horses.”
 
  “No, no that's fine,”  Heyes assured him.  “That's perfect actually.”
 
  The conductor shrugged and headed back towards the front of the train.
 
  “Well boys, be careful,”  Lom shook their hands, each in turn.  “Keep in touch, let me know what's going on.”
 
  “Yeah, we will Lom,”  Jed assured him.  “Thanks for everything.”
 
  “Sheriff Trevors,”  Joe took his turn.  “Real nice visit, thank you.”
 
  “Yeah Lom, thanks,”  Heyes said.  “You got a real fine wife there.”
 
  Lom smiled.  “Yeah, I know.  I guess I got lucky.  See you boys later.”
 
  Lom departed to return to his duties and the three men assessed their situation.
 
  “You better get Karma loaded up and settled,”  Jed pointed out.  “This train waits for no one.”
 
  “Yeah, look you fellas go on ahead,”  Heyes told them.  “I'll stay in the boxcar with Karma until we get to the next stop.  I want to get some of that liniment on her back and legs and just make sure she's resting alright.  Okay?”
 
  Jed grinned; he knew that was coming.  “Yeah, okay Heyes.  We'll see ya up there later.  C'mon Joe.”
 
  Heyes led his mare up the ramp and down into the cool shadows of the boxcar. The other two horses nickered softly in greeting but barely missed a munch as they ate their lunch.  He was unsaddling her when he heard the ramp being hoisted up and the doors to the boxcar sliding shut.  Karma gave a deep sigh and settled into her hay until she noticed the grain and then that got first dibs.  Heyes smiled and got ready to give his mare a relaxing message.  Get some liniment rubbed into those sore muscles  and she'd probably sleep most of the way through Wyoming.
 
   By the time the train pulled into Sheridan; everyone, including Karma was ready for a stretch.  This being a major stop-over, the train would be staying in the depot for a good two hours so the three companions made  haste to take advantage of the time.  Joe and the Kid both saddled up their horses to get them out for a ride but Heyes opted out of that.  Karma was still feeling the effects  of her ordeal and Heyes didn't want to put too much strain on her too soon.  Plus, he had some errands to run.
 
  They all led their horses down the ramp, two saddled and one just in hand.  Joe and Jed tightened the cinches on their saddles and mounted up on the fidgeting animals while Heyes and Karma stood quietly nearby.
 
  “See ya in about an hour Heyes,”  Jed said.  “Don't get into any trouble while we're gone.”
 
  “Ha ha,”  Heyes waved them off.  “Just be back in time.”
 
  They parted company and Heyes headed deeper into town with an interested but relaxed Karma walking along beside him.  His first stop, he knew, had to be the sheriff's office.  This was always a difficult stop to make in a strange town.  He didn't know the sheriff and therefore didn't know what type of reception he could expect.  Many were accepting of his situation so long as he showed up and didn't cause any trouble, but he often ran into others who thought he should still be in prison.  Those ones didn't mind letting him know it either.
 
  He carried on down the main street, keeping an eye open for the desired office and also taking note of the various glances that were directed his way.  It wasn't recognition; he knew that look.  No this was minor curiosity and a little bit of admiration.  'For Karma,'  he mused.  'not for me.'   and that suited him just fine.  The curiosity was simply because the sight of a man leading a horse down the main street of town was not a common one.  Why walk when you can ride?
 
  Finally Heyes got tired of looking for the office; Sheridan wasn't that large of a town, but if you don't know the lay-out it can be confusing. He approached a couple who were walking down the boardwalk.
 
  “Excuse me,”  Heyes smiled winningly.  “I'm new to town, could you tell me where the sheriff's office is?”
 
  “Oh certainly,”  the young man offered while the lady on his arm smiled openly at the stranger.  “just go down two more blocks and turn right.  It's in the middle of that block.”
 
  “Thank you,”  Heyes responded while trying very hard not to smile back at the lady.  That would be rude.  He simply acknowledged her.  “Might I ask who the sheriff is these days?”
 
  “Fella name of Dennis Willey,”  his informant replied.  “got voted in last year.  Doing a pretty good job too.”
 
  “Ahh,”  Heyes nodded and smiled.
 
  “You know him?”
 
  “Can't say as I do.”
 
  “That's a real nice horse you got there mister,”  the gentleman could not be blamed for noticing.  “Is she for sale?”
 
  “No,”  Heyes answered rather bluntly.
 
  “I'm willing to offer you a fair price for her....”
 
  “She's not for sale,”  Heyes reiterated.  “Thanks for the directions.”
 
  He tipped his hat to the lady and moved on; the last thing he needed was to get into a bartering debate with someone who didn't want to take 'no' for an answer.  Karma plodded along contentedly at his side, casually looking from left to right at all the activity going on around her, but not being too concerned about any of it.
 
  Heyes smiled when he thought about what she used to be like when he had first acquired her.  Skittish, an insecure maiden who had been slow to trust and quick to jump to her own conclusions.  She'd come a long way.  They both had.  He decided it then, right there on that walk to the sheriff's office; he couldn't retire her yet, they'd both be miserable.  She'd let him know when she was ready to be a full-time broodmare again but for now the two of them still had a lot of lost time to make up for. 
 
 Heyes stopped and stared up at the sign indicating the sheriff's office.  He was getting more and more accustomed to walking into these places under his own steam but it still put a knot in his gut.  He wondered if he would ever get over that.  He sighed, tied Karma to the hitching rail and walked through the doors.
 
  Sheriff Willey was sitting at his desk doing what sheriffs seem to do a lot of; looking over the paperwork.  He glanced up as the door opened and he scrutinized the newcomer.  Heyes might not know him, but Willey knew Heyes.  The look he sent the ex-outlaw made it clear the sheriff was not happy to see him.
 
  Heyes put on his best smile anyways and came forward to introduce himself, trying not to be intimidated by the large man and hard look.
 
  “Good afternoon Sheriff,”  Heyes greeted him and held out a hand for shaking.  “I'm Hannibal Heyes.  I'm just stopping by to let you know I'm going to be in town for a while.  I need to conduct some business at the bank.”
 
  “Really,” was the sardonic response.  The sheriff glanced at the outstretched hand, then went back to his paperwork.  “I know who you are Mr. Heyes.  What is the business you need to conduct at the bank?”
 
  Heyes let his hand drop, feeling slightly irritated by the snub.  “Well, I have some money being held for me there.  I need to withdraw some and send the rest on to our next stop.”
 
  The dark eyes looked up at him again.  The heavy black moustache seemed to bristle with suspicion.
  “Is that so?”  the official commented.
 
  “Yessir,”  Heyes confirmed.  “It's all legitimate.  You're welcome to join me at the bank if you....”
 
  “That won't be necessary Mr. Heyes,”  Willey commented.  “I think you know what would happen if you tried anything—unsavoury.”
 
  Heyes smiled innocently but kept his mouth shut.
 
  “How long do you intend to be in town Mr. Heyes?”
 
  “Just until the train pulls out,”  Heyes assured him.  “We're heading into Montana.”
 
  “We?”
 
  “Ah yes,”  Heyes cringed.  He was getting sloppy.  “I'm here with my partner and a deputy from Brookswood.”
 
  Willey sighed and sitting back in his chair he folded his arms and scrutinized the man standing before him.  “Jed Curry is also in town?”
 
  “Yessir.  Ah, well actually not literally.  No.  He and Deputy Morin are exercising their horses right now, so....”
 
  “Why is an officer of the law travelling with you?”
 
  Heyes sighed in irritation.  Why was this man asking him so many questions?  “Well you see, a friend of ours up near Brookswood hired us to do a job for him,”  Heyes patiently explained.  “and we knew that the job would not only take me out of my home county but also out of the State as well.  The people overseeing my parole felt that it would be best if an officer of the law accompanied me.”
 
  “Hmm hum.  Alright Mr. Heyes, it sounds legitimate enough,”  Willey finally conceded. “Just sign here.”
 
  Heyes felt relief but tried not to let it show.  Being relieved might suggest to this lawman that he actually had something to hide.  He stepped forward, took the offered pen and signed the ledger.  Willey turned the book around and checked that all the relevant information was there.
 
  “Fine,”  he accepted it.  “No need to sign out since you're only in town for a couple of hours.”
 
  “Oh.  Yessir.”
 
 
  “But if I see you still here after that trains pulls out, I'll wanna know why,”  the sheriff warned him.  “You understand me?”
 
 
  “Yessir.”
 
 
  Heyes gave his mare a pat on the neck as he quickly untied her.
 
 
  “Geesh,”  he commented.  “you'd think I was still on the most wanted list.  At least the bank manager is kind of expecting me.  C'mon.”
 
 
  Jed and Joe headed out of town at a fast trot, all of them looking forward to a chance to blow off some steam.  Betty and Gov seemed to get along fine together and they easily matched their gaits as they cleared the town and picked up speed.   The gallop was so refreshing as that boxcar tended to get awfully stuffy later on in the day and a good stretch of the legs was welcomed by all four of them.  About ten miles out of town they began to slow down and settled into an easy jog trot.  By this time the humans decided they'd best turn around and head back into town since they didn't want to have to hurry.  Much preferable to let the horses cool down on the way back so they wouldn't be hustled into the boxcar all sweaty from a run back to town.
 
 
  “How's your hand?”  Jed asked by way of conversation.
 
 
  “Sore,”  Joe answered again and he lifted his hand, palm up so he could view the darkening bruising.  “It's really swollen so I guess the Doc's right and I did break something in there.  At least it's my left hand.  I wouldn't want to be needing my gun and having my right hand in this condition.”
 
 
  Jed smiled but didn't respond.  He could well remember being in that very situation once upon a time.  His smile broadened when he realized that they were heading right back to the same town where that incident had happened.  Funny.  Life could come at you in a full circle and sneak up on you from behind even with something as innocent as a broken finger.
 
 
  “Heyes seems to be settling,”  Joe mumbled.  “Losing that mare really rattled him.”
 
 
  “Yup,”  Jed agreed.  “Heyes don't get attached easily, but when he does he takes it to heart.”
 
 
  “He seemed to take to my uncle well enough,”  Joe observed.  “I still don't think he likes me much though.  I mean you and I get along fine, but Heyes; he just tends to avoid me—always did.”
 
 
  “Yeah, it's not you Joe,”  Kid assured him.
 
 
  “Well what then?”  Joe asked, feeling frustrated.  “And it's not just because I'm here 'babysitting him'.  Even before we came on this trip he treated me like I'm a thorn in his side.  He gets along with Sheriff Jacobs okay so it's not cause I'm a lawman.  I stopped thinking he was responsible for my uncle's death and even went out of my way to tell him so but it doesn't seem to have made any difference.  Oh, never mind.  What difference does it make if Hannibal Heyes likes me or not—it's just he makes ya feel like you need his approval all the time and what really pisses me off is that it actually does matter to me; that I want his approval.  Isn't that ridiculous?  Why would I need his approval?”
 
 
  Jed listened to this barrage with a smile dancing on his lips.  He knew the effect Heyes had on people; that ability to get grown men to follow him, to defer to him.  How else would he have risen up to take over the Devil's Hole Gang at such a young age?  He just had that charisma, that little something that made others seek his acceptance.  Joe was no exception.
 
 
  “Again Joe, it's not you he doesn't like,”  Jed reiterated.  “it's who you are that keeps him at a distance.”
 
 
  “Well what's the difference?”  Joe snarked.  “That's just another way of sayin' he doesn't like me!”
 
 
  “No!  That's not it,”  Jed sat quietly for a moment, trying to organize his thoughts.  “I know Heyes finally got around to paying respects to your uncle.  It took him a while, but he finally was able to do it.  But he still feels responsible for what happened to him.”
 
 
  “It wasn't his fault,”  Joe said.  “I don't blame him anymore.  I told him that.”
 
 
  “Yeah, but he still blames himself.”  Jed pointed out.  “He may never get over that.  I hope he does cause that's an awful weight to be carrying around all your life.  You're a constant reminder to him of what happened.  He sees you and he thinks of your uncle and he's reminded that it was because of him that your uncle was murdered.  So to avoid that hurt, he avoids you.”
 
 
  The two men jogged on in silence for a while, Joe lost in his own thoughts.
 
 
  “Is that why he's being so hard on me now?”  Joe finally asked.
 
 
  “Nope,”  Jed answered.  “That's because you're a lawman and you're 'babysitting' him.”
 
 
  Joe snorted then laughed out loud.  “Oh brother!  How have you put up with being around him all these years?  You must get awfully tired of living your life in his shadow.”
 
 
  “I'm only in his shadow when I want the shade,”  Jed told him.  “C'mon.  We better pick up the pace a little bit or we'll be missing that train.”
 
 
  Back in town Heyes came out of the bank feeling quite satisfied with himself.  All had gone well.  He had replenished their funds with cash in his pocket and the bulk of the money was on its way to Fleetwood.  They should be arriving in that town in about three days and then they could really start getting down to the nitty-gritty of what they were getting paid to do.
 
 
  He was just tucking his wallet into one of his inside shirt pockets when he became aware of a tension in the air around him.  He stopped and looked up guardedly.  He glanced over to his mare and creased his brow in irritation; a man was standing there, patting her but it wasn't friendly and Heyes' right hand drifted down towards his hand gun.  Two more men stepped up onto the boardwalk, blocking his way.  They didn't look very friendly either.
 
 
  “Is there a problem, gentlemen?”  Heyes asked them as he looked each one in the eye.
 
 
  “Yeah,”  answered the larger of the two.  “I'll say there's a problem.”
 
 
  Heyes smiled but the charm didn't quite reach his eyes.  “Well if you want to tell me what it is, perhaps we can work it out.  I'm not looking for any trouble.”
 
 
  “I'm sure you ain't,” replied the same man.  “but there's just somethin' about Hannibal Heyes walkin' around Sheridan Wyoming, free as a bird that tends to rub me the wrong way.”
 
 
  “I see,” Heyes answered, feeling his nerves starting to jump.  “I have a solution to that, gentlemen.  If you'll just allow me to carry on I will be boarding the train shortly and I will no longer be walking around Sheridan.  Then you can relax.”
 
 
  The three moved in closer, closing the gap between them and effectively blocking Heyes from carrying on.
 
 
  “I don't think so,” the boss continued.  “Ya see, we don't like the idea of you walking around anywhere, free as a bird.  That just don't sit right with us.”
 
 
  Heyes did a quick survey of his surroundings.  The other people on the street were tentatively moving away from the confrontation and Heyes couldn't see an easy way out of it.  His way to Karma was blocked.  If he drew his gun he was guaranteed to only hit one of them and then the other two would be on him in a flash and then there'd be all that red tape to go through.  He'd had enough of that in Joplin.  He fell back on his best weapon.
 
 
  “I'm sorry you gentlemen feel that way,” he responded genially, “but as you can see...”
 
 
  “You ain't as sorry as you're gonna be.”  The right hook shot out and sent Heyes stumbling backwards before he had time to duck away from it.
 
 
  He heard a couple of ladies screaming in the distance as rough hands grabbed his shirt and sent him flying into the wall of the bank.  Oddly enough his mind remained calm during this attack and the main thought drifting through his brain was that between his cousin socking him one and now this yahoo doing the same, his poor chin was taking quite a beating.
 
 
  He hit the wall hard and felt the air being forced from his lungs as he slid down to find himself sitting on the boardwalk.  His head was ringing from the impact but before he could focus his eyes those three were on him like cats on a mouse and he felt himself being pummelled by fists on a mission.  Then a shot rang out and everyone jumped.  A few more feminine screams added to the scenario and heavy foot falls and a rough voice cut in on the commotion.
 
 
  “What the hell is going on here!?”  came the gruff command.  “Dammit Williams!  You and your boys got nothing better to do than attack strangers in the middle of the street—in the middle of the DAY—IN MY TOWN?  What the hell are ya thinking!?”
 
 
  “That ain't no stranger Sheriff,”  Heyes heard through his ringing ears.  “don't you know who he is?”
 
 
  “Course I know—what do ya think?  That I'm a blithering idiot?  Now whether we like it or not, he has the legal right to walk the streets.  So I don't want no more trouble from you fellas—you hear me?”
 
 
  Heyes' ears had gone from a ringing to a buzzing but he could still hear the grumbling as the three antagonists walked away.  He didn't need to look at them to see the dirty glances that were aimed in his direction.  A big hand grabbed his arm and dragged him up to his feet.  Heyes stood there for a moment, swaying, waiting for his head to stop spinning.
 
 
  “Probably not a good idea for you to be walking the streets on your lonesome,”  Willey told him.  “There's still plenty of folks around here who felt you got off a little too easy.”
 
 
  “Obviously they've never done time at the State prison.”
 
 
  “No, Mr. Heyes, most people haven't,”  Willey snipped at him.  “Where's your bodyguard?”
 
 
  “My bodyguard?”
 
 
  “Yeah.  Your partner.  The one who can handle a gun,”  Willey needled him.  “If he'd been with you, those three would have left ya alone.”
 
 
  “I can take care of myself, Sheriff.”
 
 
  “Yeah, I can see that.  You best get yourself back on board the train, Mr. Heyes.  Move on and I would prefer that you don't bother coming back.”
 
 
  The sheriff continued on with his rounds then, not waiting for an answer because he didn't need one.  Heyes straightened himself up, rubbing his tender jaw and feeling a bruise already starting to form.  He met the dark scrutinizing gaze of his mare and sighed.
 
 
  “What?”  he asked her.  “You coulda stepped in there and helped me, ya know.”
 
 
  Karma blinked.  She was tied to the hitching rail—what had he expected her to do?
 
 
  “Don't give me that!”  Heyes grumbled as he gathered up the reins. “You can untie knots and I know it.  You just didn't want to help.  Now you're probably going to tell Gov and Betty all about it and you can have a good laugh over it in the boxcar.”
 
 
  Karma blinked again.  What in the world was her human going on about?  Sometimes he just didn't know when to stop talking.
 
 
  Heyes flipped the outside rein over Karma's neck and with a lithe hop got himself up on his mare's back and turned her head towards the train depot.  He was feeling a little too vulnerable now to be walking on foot down the main street and wanted to have a good fast horse under him, just in case.  He pushed the mare into a trot and as he passed by the intersection he met the dark, scowling gazes of Mr. Williams and his cohorts.
 
 
  The train sounded its warning whistle and Heyes pushed Karma a little bit faster.
 
 
  “Aww Heyes!  I told ya not to get into trouble.”
 
 
  “It wasn't my fault, Kid!”  Heyes tried to defend himself as the three men walked from the boxcar towards the passenger car.  “Even the sheriff agreed or I'd be locked up at this very moment.  Right?  It wasn't my fault.”
 
 
“Yeah, uh huh,”  Jed wasn't convinced.  “I donno, Heyes; I'm thinkin' maybe you do need a babysitter.”
 
 
  “No!  Everything's fine.  It wasn't my fault.”
 
 
  Joe followed the two bickering partners up the steps and onto the passenger car.  He already knew this was going to be a long trip to Fleetwood.  Maybe he should have bought himself one of those dime novels to help pass the time.  Maybe Jed had one he could borrow.  Maybe there was a newspaper laying around on board.  Maybe he could just day-dream....
 
 
  Sometime during the night the train slid over the border into Montana.  Nobody was awake enough to appreciate the occasion, but come morning and the first cup of coffee for the day the mood of the two ex-outlaws became decidedly lighter.  Neither of them was comfortable in Wyoming these days and Heyes' encounter with the irate ranchers only emphasized their reasons why.
 
 
  It was still another three days of train travel before they were finally able to disembark and unload the horses for real.  They still had some riding to do before getting to Fleetwood as the rail line had yet to take that little town into consideration but by this time none of them minded the chance for some exercise.  Even Karma had recovered from her ordeal and was champing at the bit to get a move on.
 
 
 “Do we need anything in town?” Kid asked as he tightened the girth on Gov's saddle.
 
  
  “Nope,”  Heyes announced with a smile.  “We got all the supplies we need till we get to Fleetwood.  And you know what that means?”
 
 
  Kid was in a good mood so he allowed himself to be hooked.  “No, Heyes, what does that mean?”
 
 
 “Means I don't have to go kow-towin' to the local law, explaining why the notorious Hannibal Heyes is in his precious town.”
 
 
  “And the equally dangerous Kid Curry,”  Jed felt obliged to add.
 
 
  “Oh, well yeah!”  Heyes agreed.  “Can't have one without the other.”
 
 
  “Let's get goin',”  Kid suggested as he mounted up.  “If we keep a good pace we'll be in Fleetwood by this evening.”
 
 
Fleetwood
 
 
 Nine hours later, three weary and trail-dusty individuals entered the town of Fleetwood, Montana.  The day had been long and uneventful and they'd kept up a good steady pace in order to cover the distance before nightfall.  None of them really relished the idea of sleeping out under the stars if they could actually afford a hotel room.  Even lunch had been a hasty affair, mainly to give horses and riders a mid-day rest and stretch before pushing through to the town.
 
 
 Jogging down the main street, Jed cast glances back and forth trying to pick out landmarks that were familiar to him.  The saloon looked the same, oh, and there was the little cafe.  Yep, those buildings were still standing.  The sheriff's office; Kid tried to get a look at the name but he couldn't remember the name of the sheriff from back then anyways, so what difference would that make?  Still, it was habit to check out who the local law was.  Heyes was scrutinizing that building as well.
 
 
  “I guess I better go check in,”  Heyes grumbled.  This was already getting old.  “How about you two take the horses to the livery and I'll meet ya at the hotel.”
 
 
  Jed was about to agree to this plan of action when Joe cut him off.
 
 
  “No, I don't think so Heyes,”  he countered the great outlaw leader.  “After what happened in Sheridan I realize that I have been remiss in my duties.”
 
 
  Heyes sent him a creased brow.  Joe continued.
 
 
  “Sheriff Jacobs sent me along to make sure you stayed out of trouble,”  Joe explained.  “You have been neatly ducking out from under me every time we get into a town.  Next thing I know I'm with Curry and you're off on your own.  Well, that's gonna stop.  Jed can take the horses to the livery—I'm sticking with you.”
 
 
 
  “I don't think there's any need...”
 
 
  “I think there is,”  Joe made his stand again.  “Those three fellas in Sheridan would have thought twice about confronting you if a lawman had been with you.  It's amazing what the sight of a badge will do to deter trouble.”
 
 
  The partners both had to agree to that comment; there was nothing like the sight of a badge coming up behind them to get their nerves on edge.
 
 
  “He's got a point, Heyes,”  Jed backed up the deputy. 
 
 
  “But, that was in Wyoming,”  Heyes pushed, though deep down he knew it was a losing argument, “this is Montana.  It's not too likely we're going to run into trouble here.  Besides, people are just as likely to recognize you as me, especially in this town.”
 
 
 “Yeah, but I can look after myself,”  Kid pointed out.  “and I ain't the one on parole.”
 
 
  “I'm quite capable of looking after myself,”  Heyes shot back, feeling irritated now.  “What happened in Sheridan was an isolated incident.  Three against one!  What kind of odds are that?”
 
 
  Kid shrugged.  “I'm just sayin', people know who I am and my reputation keeps 'em at bay.  They know who you are and they want to knock ya down a notch.  I think Joe's right; he should stay with you.”
 
 
  Heyes was practically grinding his teeth; this conversation was not going his way at all.
 
 
  “You can't haul three rifles, three saddlebags and three bedrolls all by yourself,”  Heyes was grabbing at straws.  “It's only logical that Joe should go with you to help out.  I don't need help reporting in to the sheriff.”
 
 
  Kid leaned back in his saddle and nodded.  “Fine,”  he conceded.  “we'll all go to the sheriff's office and then we can all go to the livery.”
 
 
  “This is ridiculous!”  Heyes grumbled.
 
 
  “Yeah, it sure is,”  Joe agreed.  “I don't see why we're even discussing it.  It's already decided..”
 
  “You fellas lost or somethin'?”  came an enquiry from the boardwalk.
 
 
 All three men stopped their arguing and looked over to see a sheriff's badge talking to them.
 
 
  “No sir, Sheriff,” Jed responded.  “Just discussin' our plans.”
 
 
  “Well, do it someplace else,” the lawman suggested.  “You're blockin' traffic.”
 
 
  “Now, Sheriff, we were just coming to look for you,” said Heyes, instinctively taking control of the situation. 
 
  The three men turned their horses towards the hitching rails, getting themselves out of the middle of the street and dismounting in front of the sheriff.  Heyes stepped forward, offering his hand for shaking and Joe instantly realized that the ex-con was at it again.
 
  The deputy stepped up quickly and cut in.  “Sheriff, I’m Deputy Joe Moran from Brookswood, Colorado.”  He lifted his jacket to reveal his badge and thrust out his hand.  The lawman reluctantly shook it.  “This man here is Hannibal Heyes and this is Jed Curry.  As you might know, Heyes is on parole.  Since he’s out of his usual range he’s under my supervision while we visit your town and you have my word that there won’t be any trouble.”  
 
  
  Heyes was glaring now, looking every inch the outlaw and the sheriff looked at him skeptically.  “There better not be any trouble, Heyes, or you’re gonna find yourself admiring the inside of my jail cell.  You, too, Curry.  You might be a free man now, but as far as I’m concerned; once an outlaw, always an outlaw.  Moran, nice to meet you.  See that you do your job.”  The surly man continued on down the sidewalk leaving the three men staring after him.
 
 
  Finally, Heyes slowly grinned.  “That went well.”
 
 
  “Might’ve gone better if you’d managed to smile a little sooner, partner.  I’d say it’s a damn good thing Joe was with us, wouldn’t you?” said Jed.  Joe looked from one man to the other.
 
 
  Heyes shrugged, “Maybe, maybe not.”
 
 
  “Hey, a simple thank you would do,” said Joe, raising another smile from Heyes.  He was beginning to see Joe in a whole new light.  This might actually work in his favor.
 
 
  “You know, Jed, talking to the law makes me kind of thirsty.  C’mon, I’m gonna buy you two a beer.”  Heyes stepped off the sidewalk again and crossed the rutted road making a beeline for the saloon he’d seen earlier.  Joe and Jed looked at each other and followed.
 
 
  The batwing doors swung open hard and banged against the inside jam causing many of the patrons to look up and see the dark-haired man coming through them.  He wore a broad smile which creased his face with two deep dimples.  It was the kind of smile that made you just want to smile back and several people did.  Heyes swaggered to the bar as his partner and Joe came in behind him in time to see Heyes drawing everyone’s attention.
 
 
  Joe hung back as Jed walked over to his partner.  He could tell that Curry was assessing the crowd and zeroing on two men sitting at a corner table.  Jed stood to Heyes’ left; his back leaning against the polished oak rail and his left elbow on the bar.  His right hand hung down by his gun.  From where he stood, he could see the corner table without turning his head.  Moran knew that he was seeing the outlaw, Kid Curry, ready for trouble and it made him nervous.  He, too, glanced at the two men, but saw nothing unusual in either of them.  Feeling on edge, he settled on the other side of Heyes. 
 
 
  The bartender ambled down the back bar towards the newcomers.  “Hello gents, what’ll you have?”
 
 
  “Three beers, please,” asked Heyes politely.
 
 
  Joe, still bristling at the presumption of leadership, spoke up.  “I’ll take a whiskey.”  Heyes raised his eyebrows.
 
 
  “Two beers and a shot coming up.” The aproned man waddled back down the bar and lifted a whiskey bottle off the back shelf before returning with two filled beer mugs.  He put the bottle on the counter and pulled a shot glass under the bar, filling it with the liquor.  “Three bits.”
 
 
  Heyes pushed several dollars towards the man and said, “We’d like some information, too.”
 
 
  “You a bounty hunter?” the bartender asked disgustedly.
 
 
  Heyes guffawed loudly, “No, sir, furthest thing from it.  I want some information about horse dealers in these parts.  I bought a real fine filly a few years ago and I’m trying to track down her lineage for breeding.”
 
 
  The man visibly softened.  “Sorry, shovin’ money at me made me suspicious.  That sort of information comes free.  How long ago did you get her?”
 
 
  “About ten years ago,” answered Heyes, leaning forward; intent on the conversation. 
 
 
  “Mister, I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast.  Ten years is a helluva long time ago.”
 
 
  Joe and Jed let their attention wander about the bar.  Most of the patrons had gone back to drinking and had forgotten the three men at the bar. 
 
 
  Heyes continued, “I got her in a real small town near here, but I can’t remember the name.”
 
 
  The man shrugged, “I’ve lived here most of my life, reckon I might know of it if you can describe it to me.”
 
 
  Heyes grinned widely again and Joe turned around to listen in.  “I mostly remember the livery.  It was fair-sized, weathered planking with a center aisle, and a peaked loft.  I seem to recall it was on the edge of town near the stockyards.  Town had a small store and a post office; saloon, but no sheriff.”
 
 
  “Sorry, Pal, that fits the description of just about every burg near Fleetwood.  We’ve got the only law for miles around.”  The bartender shook his head.  “You ain’t gonna get very far with that unless you can come up with something else.”
 
 
  Heyes’s grin slipped off his face and he picked up his beer.  “My memory ain’t what it used to be.” 
 
 
 
  Jed turned around.  He knew Heyes’ memory had started given him trouble after the abuses he’d suffered in prison.  From the look on his face, he was dredging up plenty of memories now and they were all bad.   “Didn’t you tell me once that it was at the end of a dead-end road?”
 
 
  Heyes brightened.  “Yeah, it was!  Near some mountains, too.”  He waited hopefully.
 
 
  “Nope, still doesn’t ring a bell, but I’ll tell you what, some of the locals will be comin’ in tonight when they get off work.  I’ll ask around and see what I can come with.”  The bartender picked up the bills and tucked them in his pocket feeling like he’d finally earned them.  Grabbing Jed’s empty mug, he said, “You all staying at the hotel?”  Jed nodded.  “You know, you look real familiar to me.  What’s your name, Mister?”  Before Jed could answer the aproned man started to chuckle, then laugh loudly, snorting and guffawing.  Heyes and Jed smiled, but Joe looked at the man as though he’d gone crazy.  Finally, the cacophony subsided and the bartender lifted a corner of his apron wiping the tears that had sprung to his eyes.  “Sorry, Mr. Curry, it took me a minute to place you.”
 
 
  The bartender turned to Joe, “I remember your friend’s last visit to town.  Got himself in a speck of trouble and ended having the whole town figuring he’s Kid Curry.  Nearly got himself jailed, but he was a good sport about it.”  The man turned back to Jed.  “So what’s your real name?”
 
 
  Jed stared coldly at the man.  “I am Curry and he’s Heyes.  Don’t you read the papers?”
 
 
  “Don’t bother with ‘em, I ain’t never learnt to read.  Don’t need to bartending.   Sure, maybe I mix up the scotch and the bourbon once in a while, but no one gives me any guff about it,” said the man, visibly bristling and bracing for an insult.  “So, really, what’re your names?” persisted the bartender, still smiling.  Heyes rolled his eyes.  What were the odds of him running into the only man in the West who didn’t know who they were?
 
 
  Jed straightened up as the room grew silent.  He drew swiftly, spun his gun with a flourish and holstered it.  The two men in the corner table began whispering excitedly to each and casting glances towards the bar. 
 
 
  “Any more questions?” growled Heyes, keeping an eye on the two men across the room.  It was plain as day that they knew exactly who they were.
 
 
   “Joe here is a deputy down in Colorado.  He’s helping us out with this,” said Jed.  “Tell him, Joe.”
 
 
  Joe was confused by the boys’ behavior and looked from one to the other.  Seeing no trace of amusement on either of his friends’ faces, he pulled open his jacket revealing his badge again, and said, “Deputy Joe Moran, Brookswood, Colorado.  This here’s Hannibal Heyes and that’s Jed Curry.  They’re with me.”
 
 
  “Well, I’ll be…wait, the law’s helping you?”  The barkeep now had no doubts about who they were. 
 
 
  “We’re honest men now, we ain’t wanted any more.  No reason we can’t be friendly with lawmen, is there?”  Curry’s steely eyes drilled into those of the men in the corner as he spoke loudly to the room at large.   Heyes enjoyed the tension he’d caused.  To his mind, it was best to get it all out in the open right away and then see what happened.  Better than getting stabbed in the back down a dark alley.  The men couldn’t sustain eye contact with Jed and quickly gathered up their hats and coats exiting quickly through a side door.
 
 
  “No, sir!”  The bartender hurried away to his other customers while Joe made a mental note that he had to stop forgetting who his affable friend Jed used to be. 
 
 
  Heyes drained his beer and slammed the mug down on the counter.  Winking at Joe, he pulled his hat low and walked out the door once again leaving him to catch up.  Jed was still keeping an eye on the crowd and followed more slowly.
 
 
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The Lineage Chapter four Revelations. :: Comments

Revelations
Post on Sun 10 Nov 2013, 12:07 am by Keays
Out on the sidewalk, Heyes stood looking down the street.  As Joe and Jed drew near, he said, “There’s a livery down at the end of the next block.  Joe, let’s you and me get the horses settled; I want to talk to the livery man; see if he knows anything.  Kid, do you mind getting a room?”  Without waiting for answer, he started across the street to where the horses were tied and Jed went in the direction of the hotel on the other end of town.  Joe hurried after Heyes, pleased to be included for a change.  Together, they led the three horses down the street.  “So how come you wanted everyone to know who you are?” asked Joe, “Isn’t that asking for trouble?”
 
 
  “I’m avoiding trouble, Joe.  It’s a damn sight safer telling folks who we are than having them speculating about it.  Did you see the way those two were sizing us up?  I’ve seen that look a hundred times.  They thought twenty grand had just dropped in their laps.  All they needed was to figure out how to get it.”
 
 
  “You don’t know that.”
 
 
  “I know that the only thing that kept the Kid and me alive all these years was relying on our instincts and our instincts told us those two had more than a passing interest in us,” admonished Heyes.
 
  “But you’re not wanted anymore,”  Joe persisted.  “from what I recall, the reward money was already paid out on you two and it’s all done and over with.  Why would they bother with you now?”
 
  Heyes shrugged.  “The bartender didn’t know about us, maybe those yahoo’s didn’t either.  There’s lots ‘a folks around who don’t read and maybe don’t pay attention to gossip.  Those fellas might just have enough brain cells between them to figure that Heyes and Curry equal $20,000.  Anything more than that is too far above their reckoning to matter.  Me and Kid may not be wanted anymore, but we still have to be on the lookout for fellas like that—whether for the reward or just the reputation, we still gotta watch our backs.”
 
 
 
  For the first time, Joe wondered what it would be like to live life on the run with half the west after you.  Jed and Heyes had spent nearly all of their adult lives looking over their shoulders, braced for the bullets that never came.  But that wasn’t true, they had come; Morrison had seen to that.  It was a miracle they were both still alive.
 
 
  Heyes stopped in front of the livery and rang the bell next to the opened doors.
 
 
   A young man peeked out of one of the stalls and smiled at him.  “Howdy.  Hold on a minute, I’ll be right there.”   A few minutes later, he was hurrying towards them.  “Sorry, I was just finishing up that stall.”
 
 
  “We’d like to board these three horses for the night.  Oats and hay and a good rubdown for all of them,” said Heyes.  “You’ll want to go easy on Karma here; she gets a mite fussy if you rub too hard.”  He patted his mare and handed over her reins.  He followed alongside.  “You run the place?”  The boy looked too young to be of much help, but maybe not.  Heyes wasn’t leaving anything to chance.  He seldom did.
 
 
  The boy blushed, “No, sir, it’s my uncle’s business I just help out.”
 
 
  “Is your uncle working today?  I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask him about other liveries in the area.”
 
 
  “He’ll out back unloading hay.”  Karma was led into the stall bedded deeply in straw.  A clean water bucket awaited her and she stretched her neck to reach it.  The boy pulled off her bridle and patted her.  “She sure is a good-looking mare, mister.  Where’d you get her?”
 
 
  “That’s what I’m hoping your uncle can tell me,” said Heyes.  He pulled his mare’s saddle himself and followed the stable boy out of the stall dropping the tack on a bale of hay.  The young man took Gov and Betty from Joe and led them to adjoining stalls.  Satisfied, Heyes gestured to Joe to follow out behind the building.
 
 
A tall, lean man was using a pair of hay hooks to grip and lift a heavy bale of grass hay.  With a grunt, the man straightened and turned swinging the bale around and dropping it on top of the stack that was forming next to the wagon.  He paused, seeing the two men approaching, and took out his grimy bandana wiping the sweat from his eyes.  The man in front wore a smile like that flim-flam man who’d bilked him out of five dollars last month.  Damn snake oil had done nothing to help his rheumatism.  The other man was sporting a tin star that peeked out from inside his open jacket.  Guess he didn’t have to worry about his wallet this time.  “Howdy,” he said, slightly suspiciously.
 
 
“Hello, I’m hoping you can help me.  I’m trying to track down some information about a mare I bought.  I’m looking to breed her and I want to know more about her background.”  Heyes smiled, but for some reason, the man wouldn’t smile back.
 
 
“Buy her from me?”
 
 
“No, sir, but…”
 
 
“Can’t help you if you didn’t buy her from me,” The tall man turned away from his two visitors and plunged the hooks into the next bale of hay.
 
 
“Maybe you can.  Can you tell me who else was selling horseflesh around here ten years ago?” 
 
 
The man snorted and looked at Heyes as though he’d sprouted horns.  “Ten years ago?  Mister, she’s gonna drop dead of old age ‘fore she throws a foal for you!”  Joe laughed and Heyes gave him a dirty look.
 
 
“Your nephew seems to think you know a lot about your business, guess the boy was wrong,” said Heyes, letting the smile slide off his face.  Being nice wasn’t getting him anywhere.
 
“Now hold on a cotton-pickin’ second, I didn’t say I couldn’t help you.  Don’t you have a sense of humor, boy?”  The man stopped working and hopped off the wagon.  “There’s only three or four places it could be if’n it was around here.  Grevey’s over in Hoptown or Nelson’s over in New Wales.  Let see, ten years ago?  There was a place over in Guildford, but I don’t rightly remember the name.  Grizzled old coot ran it.”
 
 
“Guildford?  That’s it.  Joe, it was Guildford!” said Heyes, grabbing the man’s hand and pumping it up and down, excitedly.  “Thanks, Mister thanks so much.”
 
 
“Heyes, ease off; you’re gonna wear the man’s hand out,” chuckled Joe, “Can you tell us how to get there, sir?”
 
 
“Sure can.  Ride south outta town and take the first fork to the right.  You’ll climb up over that ridge yonder.  When you drop down into the valley, you’ll come to a crossroads.  Take a left, go about eight or nine miles and you’ll hit another fork.  This one’s a left.  Pay attention to which way you turn, Mr. Hayes, or you’ll end up back here in no time.  Good luck to you both.”  He pulled himself back onto the wagon and didn’t spare them another glance.
 
 
 
 
  Guildford
 
 
  The three travelling companions jogged their tired horses down the main street of yet another town along the route Heyes 'thinks' he stuck to while going to meet up with the Kid.  He was sure this was the right direction, considering where he had been coming from but none of the towns they'd come upon looked even remotely familiar.  Heyes was getting worried that this was turning into a wild goose chase but he was doing his best not to show it.
 
 
  “What do ya think Heyes?”  Jed asked sceptically.  “Look familiar?”
 
 
  “Yeah well, maybe,”  came the non-commitment.  Audible sighs from his two companions.  “It's in the right direction and it's about the right distance,”  Heyes reasoned in his own defence.  “Guildford did sound familiar, but maybe that wasn’t it….”  Another frustrated sigh.  “It's not my fault. I had other things on my mind.  Why would I bother to get the name of a town I was just riding through? I had bounty hunters on my trail and a tired horse under me; the only thing on my mind was getting a fresh horse and getting outta town!”
 
 
  “Well,”  Jed asked again.   “does any of it look familiar?”
 
 
  “No.”
 
 
  Groan.
 
 
  The three men rode past the sheriff's office and Joe turned Betty towards the hitching rail, effectively cutting off Karma and forcing her to turn with him.
 
 
  “Hey Joe!”  Heyes complained.  “Watch out.”
 
 
  “I gave you every opportunity to make the turn yourself Heyes and you were just going to ride right by,”  Joe told him.  “C'mon, let's just get this over with.”
 
 
  “I need a drink,”  Curry announced.  “I'll see you fellas at the closest saloon.”
 
 
  “Yeah, thanks for your support there, partner,”  Heyes groused.
 
 
  Jed sent him a flippant wave and continued on his way.  Joe and Heyes turned in to the hitching rail.
 
 
  “Do ya think you could let me do some of the talking this time Joe?”  Heyes asked his babysitter as they stepped onto the boardwalk.
 
 
  Joe shrugged.  “Go ahead.”
 
 
  The two men entered the office only to find it empty.
 
 
  “Damn,”  Heyes mumbled.  “Hello!”
 
 
  Silence.
 
 
  “What kind of a town is this?”  Heyes complained.  “A sheriff's office with no sheriff?”
 
 
  “He's probably out doing his rounds,”  Joe surmised.
 
 
  “Yeah, but then the deputy should be here,”  Heyes continued to complain as he opened doors and checked down by the cells.  “Believe me Joe; this is no way to run a sheriff's office. You can't tell me that Jacobs ever leaves the office un-attended.”
 
 
  “No, you're right there,”  Joe conceded.  “The sheriff always makes sure there's someone on duty.”
 
 
  “Yeah!”
 
 
  Over at the saloon, Jed had left a tired Gov snoozing at the hitching rail and had come in for a much anticipated beer.  He sidled up to the bar and, plunking some change onto the surface, he ordered his beverage and turned around to survey his surroundings.  He just about had a heart attack as he came up face to face with a familiar countenance and a hard look.  He also took note of the sheriff badge.
 
 
  “What the hell are you doing in my town, Curry?”  came the accusation.
 
 
  Jed smiled and tried to becalm his beating heart.  “Ahh, howdy Sheriff Kingsly.  I thought a fella named Hensley was the law here.”
 
 
  “Hensley died last month,”  Kingsly informed him.  “We haven't had time to change the sign yet.  I was asked to come up here and....what the hell!  I don't need to be explainin' anything to you!  I thought you were livin' down in Colorado—thank goodness—what the hell are you doin' here?”
 
 
  “Ah, well my partner is over at your office right now to explain all that,”  Curry told him.  “but since you're not there they should be showing up here any minute.”
 
 
  “Your partner?”  Kingsly growled.  “You tellin' me your partner is in town as well?  Last I heard about him he was on parole and had to stay in Colorado.”
 
 
  “Yeah well that's not entirely....”
 
 
  “Damn it all to hell!”  the sheriff cursed.  “What are you two up to?  You try and pull something in my town and I'll have you both in irons!”
 
 
  Jed leaned back against the bar a little more and felt his elbow knock into his beer.  He could really use a swig right now, but he didn't dare turn around to grab it.  He could tell just from his peripheral vision that the other patrons in the saloon were taking an active interest in this conversation.
 
 
  “It ain't like that Sheriff,”  Jed assured him.  “Just wait until Heyes explains it to ya.  We're not plannin' anything, we're just on a job.”
 
 
  “A JOB!?” 
 
 
  “NO!  Not that kinda job..”  Jed was feeling frustrated.  “we're honest, law-abidin' citizens now...”  snort from the sheriff.  “...no, honestly.  Just wait until....Heyes!  Just in time.  The sheriff's been lookin' for ya.”
 
 
  Kingsly swung around to find himself up against a pair of dark brown eyes and a charming smile.
 
 
  “Heyes...”
 
 
  “Well, howdy Sheriff Kingsly,”  Heyes greeted the law man.  “What are you doing all the way...?
 
 
  “Never mind!”  Kingsly cut him off.  “More to the point; what the hell are you doing up here?  You ain't allowed to leave Colorado.  I could arrest you right here and now...”
 
 
  Kingsly looked like he was about to go for his gun when Joe stepped deftly between the law man and the parolee.
 
 
  “No need for that sheriff,”  Joe told him.  “I'm Deputy Morin out of Brookswood, Colorado. I'm accompanying Mr. Heyes here while he conducts some business for a patron.  Were you aware that Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry have opened up a detective agency and have bona fide paying clients on the books?”
 
 
  “Is that so?”  Kingsly grumbled looking at Heyes over the deputy's shoulder, then turned back to Joe again.  “If he's all so legitimate now then what are you doin' with 'em?  Can't say as I approve of a lawman associating with the likes of these two.  That Trevors was bad enough....”
 
 
  “I can understand your concern, Sheriff,” Joe placated him respectfully.  “Sheriff Jacobs, down in Brookswood felt that it would be wise that an officer of the law accompany Mr. Heyes on this venture.”
 
 
  “Don't trust him huh?”  Kingsly almost sneered in satisfaction.
 
 
  “No, no that's not it at all, Sheriff,” Joe assured him.  “You're right in saying that Heyes isn't allowed to leave Colorado, but that's without escort.  And that's not because we don't trust him.  Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry have both proven their worth and their determination to turn their lives around.  No, it's because we're concerned that other people may not appreciate their situation.  Some people, like yourself for instance, may feel that they're 'up to something' and not be willing to take their word concerning their legitimacy.  Why, down in Wyoming we've already run into certain individuals who would actually cause Mr. Heyes harm because of his previous profession.  They were just not willing to accept that he had done his time and is now a free man.  Can you imagine?”
 
 
  “Well...”
 
 
  “So we felt that having an officer of the law accompany him on this business trip would help to alleviate certain fears,”  Joe continued.  “Indeed, we were both just over at your office to let you know that we were in town, only to find no one there.  I'd have a word with your deputy about that, Sheriff; leaving the office unattended like that.”
 
 
  “Oh yeah, well...”
 
 
  “Can we buy you a beer, Sheriff?”
 
 
  “Oh no, that's fine,”  the sheriff declined as he began to back out of the situation.  “I best be gettin' back.  But you fellas, make sure you stay outa trouble while you're here.”
 
 
 “No problem, Sheriff,” Jed agreed.
 
 
  “Sure thing, Sheriff,” Heyes seconded.  “Would you like me to accompany you to your office so that I can sign in and all that?”
 
 
  “No!”  came the retort.  “I know you're here, just don't cause no trouble.”
 
 
  The three men waited until the sheriff was well and truly gone and then they all turned back to the bar, laughing and slapping Joe on the back.
 
 
  “Hey, hey!”  Heyes  laughed.  “Let me buy ya a beer, Joe.  That was worth the price of admission.”
 
 
  “Yeah,”  Jed agreed.  “Who'd a thought Kingsly would be all the way up here.  I thought he was entrenched in Wyoming.”
 
 
  “Yeah,”  Heyes agreed.  “they must be really hurtin' for sheriffs up this way.”
 
 
  Two more beers had arrived by this time and all three men picked up the glasses and tapped them together in a toast.
 
 
  “Excuse me, are you really Kid Curry?”  Jed's heart sank.  He was tired and just wanted to have a couple of beers and relax.
 
 
  “Yup, that's me,” he admitted with a sigh.
 
 
  “Wow,”  the young man had Curry's right hand in a shake before Jed could do anything about it.  “It's a real honour to meet you Mr. Curry.
 
 
  “Uh, huh.”
 
 
  More saloon patrons were making their way to the bar and surrounded the two ex-outlaws.
 
 
  “You're Hannibal Heyes?”
 
 
  “Yessir.”
 
 
  “It's a pleasure to meet a real master,”  the man stated.  “We got a small poker game goin' on over here.  You're welcome to come join us.”
 
 
  “I don't think so,”  Heyes declined with a smile.  “We're kinda tired.  We just want to have a few beers and then head to the hotel.”
 
 
  “Well, how about we buy ya a round?”
 
 
  “Oh.”
 
 
  “Yeah, we can buy you fellas a round,” agreed another of the enthusiasts.  “Then we can say we had beers with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”
 
 
  “Well, thank you.”
 
 
  “Sure,” agreed another and he looked a Joe.  “Are you a member of the Devil's Hole Gang?”  Somebody hadn't been paying attention to recent events.
 
 
  “No,” Joe told him.  “I'm a deputy from Colorado.”
 
 
  Disappointment clouded the face of the patron.  “Oh,” he grumbled.  “So, Mr. Heyes is it true you can open a lock just by tapping on it....?”
 
 
   Half an hour and three rounds later the three travellers finally extricated themselves from their admirers and exited the saloon.  Heyes stopped short, his jaw dropping with indignant surprise.  Some old codger was standing beside his mare and running a speculative hand along her flanks.  Heyes' irritation rose as he approached the 'gentleman'.
 
 
  “Excuse me, the mare's not for sale!” he announced, probably with a little more heat than necessary.
 
 
  The old man straightened up and scowled at him.  “That's fine ‘cause I ain't lookin' to buy her!” he snapped back.  “I just come over ta get reacquainted.”
 
 
  Heyes frowned.  “What do you mean?”
 
 
  “Just that sonny,” he said.  “I saw her parked here and thought I knew her.  I just came over to confirm that.”
 
 
  All three men perked up at this statement.  This was promising.
 
 
  “You know her?”  Jed asked him.
 
 
  “Sure do,” he answered.  “This here is Karma-Lou and she was one of the nicest fillies I had go through my place.  Not easy to forget this one.”
 
 
  Heyes' jaw dropped even more.  “You're the livery man!”
 
 
 “Yeah, well, I was,” the man agreed.  “I'm retired now, my son's took it over.”  He walked up to Heyes, his eyes squinting in order to scrutinize him.  “Yeah, and I knows you too.  Mister 'I have no idea'--ha!”
 
 
  “What?” Heyes was confused.  What was this old codger going on about?
 
 
  “That's what you said to me!”  the old guy accused Heyes as he started poking him in the chest with his finger.  “You didn't even have a name for 'em, did ya?  Fine gelding that one—you oughta be ashamed of yourself!  I tell ya I almost took that filly back right then and there.  You didn't deserve her!
'I have no idea'!  Goddammit!”
 
 
  “You're the livery man Heyes got her from?”  Jed asked incredulously.
 
 
  “Yeah, ain't that what I've been sayin'?”
 
 
  Jed laughed and stepped forward to shake the man's hand.  “You have no idea how happy we are to see you!”
 
 
  “Really...”
 
 
  “Yeah,” Jed assured him.  “I'm Jed Curry, this is Joe Morin and that abuser of horses over there is Hannibal Heyes.”
 
 
  “Yeah, I know who ya are,” he admitted, “made me regret even more givin’ ya that mare.  We all know how outlaws treat their horses.”
 
 
  “Sir, ah...Mister...?  Heyes was fishing.
 
 
  “Logan, no 'mister', just Logan.”
 
 
  Heyes smiled, understanding that sentiment.  “Logan, I can assure you that Karma has been well looked after.  Even while I was serving time, she was with friends who treated her like a princess.  No reason at all for you to be concerned.”
 
 
  “Yeah, well,” Logan’s stance softened a bit.  “I gotta admit she do look good—and ya still got her, so that says somethin'.”
 
 
  “It does!”  Heyes agreed.  “I have to tell you Karma is the best horse I've ever had and I'm real attached to her if you must know.”
 
 
  “I'll say.” Jed commented.  “I think he'd sleep out in the barn with her if he was able to.”
 
 
“Uh, huh.”
 
 
  Heyes cut in before Jed could open his mouth again.  “Say, Mr.  Logan...ah, Logan.  Sorry.  You are actually the very person we've been looking for.  We'd like to talk with you for a few minutes if we can.  How about we buy you a beer?”
 
 
  The three men made to turn back to the saloon, but Logan simply stood there glaring at them.
 
 
  “You mean to tell me you're just gonna go right back into that saloon without tending to these horses?” he demanded with incredulity in his tone.  “These animals are tired and all you can think about is getting a beer for yourselves?”
 
 
  “Well, we don't usually...”
 
 
  “A man looks after his horse first, before his own needs or he don't deserve a horse!” Logan carried on.  “All three of these horses are fine animals and you're just gonna leave 'em standing out here in the sun while you go back into the saloon to drink your beer?”
 
 
  “Oh no, no!” Heyes insisted as he motioned the other two men forward.  “No, we're taking 'em to the livery.  I mean that's exactly where we were headed when we ran into you here.”
 
 
  “Yeah,” Jed agreed.  “We were just about to get 'em settled.”
 
 
  Logan looked from one man to another, and then settled on Joe.  “What about you?” the old man asked.  “I see you're wearin' a badge—lawmen are no better than outlaws when it comes to lookin' after their horses!  I tell ya, you should all be taken out and shot.”
 
 
  “Hey!” Joe was incensed.  “I was raised on a ranch, been looking after horses all my life.  I don't go neglecting....”
 
 
  “All your life!” Logan snorted.  “Damn, I got corns on my feet older than you.”
 
 
  Heyes and Jed exchanged humorous looks but quickly dropped them when Joe gave both of them the eye.
 
 
  “Oh, come on now, Joe.  Don't take it so seriously,” Heyes told him with a placating hand on his shoulder.  “Logan's right; we need to tend to the horses before we do anything else.”
 
 
  “Fine,” Joe snarked as he untied his mare and started leading her away.
 
 
  “Hey, young fella!” Logan stopped him.  “Livery stable's that 'a way.”
 
 
  Joe grumbled but, turning Betty around, he carried on in the new direction.
 
 
  “We still want to talk with you Logan,” Heyes reminded him as he and Jed got their horses organized.  “is there someplace we can meet up with you later on?”
 
 
  “Yeah, I suppose,” Logan agreed.  “Come on out to my place after supper.  I ain't invitin' ya for supper—my daughter-in-law has enough to contend with without me bringin' home three more mouths ta feed without warnin'!”
 
  “Oh no, that's fine,”  Heyes assured him.  “we don't want to intrude.  We just want a word with ya about Karma, that's all.”
 
 
  “About the horse?”
 
 
  “Yeah.”
 
 
  “Okay, I suppose that'll be alright,” Logan decided.  He was always willing to talk horses.  “Just ask my son over at the livery, he can give ya directions.”
 
 
  “That'll be fine,” Heyes agreed.  “we'll see you after supper.”
 
 
  “Fine.”
 
 
  The partners took their horses and followed in Joe's wake towards the livery.  Heyes was smiling with satisfaction.
 
 
  “See, Kid,” he pointed out.  “I told ya it was important for us to have Karma along.”
 
 
“Yeah alright Heyes.  Just don't go gettin' too smug about it.”
 
 
  Early evening found Heyes and the Kid walking the short distance to the residential area of town to track down the old livery man.  Joe had opted to just go back to the hotel after supper as he didn't feel his presence was necessary for their little excursion.  He was tired and had a bit of a headache so, with assurances from the partners that they would not get into any trouble; he took the chance and let them carry on without him. 
 
 
  It didn't take long for them to find the correct address.  Old man Logan was sitting comfortably on the front porch of a quaint little home that smacked of a lady's touch so the boys couldn't have missed it if they'd been trying.  Kid opened the small picket gate and they walked along the neat flower lined path to the steps and up onto the porch.
 
 
  “Evenin',” Jed greeted the old man.  “Nice place here.”
 
 
  “Yup,” Logan agreed as he puffed on his pipe.  “Set yourselves down.  I told Shirley not ta bother herself with ya, but she insisted on makin' coffee and and havin' some sweets for ya.”  he snorted. “Ya knows what women are like.”
 
 
  “Oh,” Heyes smiled, “well, that's very kind of her, but there wasn't any need...”
 
 
  “That's what I told her!”  Logan insisted and then shrugged.  “Shirley!  They's here!”
 
 
  Both men cringed slightly at Logan's booming announcement and then they quickly took off their hats and smiled a greeting to a young, rather plump woman who suddenly put in an appearance.  She was already laden down with a tray of coffee cups and a plate of sliced cakes and cookies.  Heyes quickly opened the screen door for her and offered to take the tray.
 
 
  “Oh, no need,” she assured him and smiled brightly.  “You just sit yourselves down there and relax.  There's lots more where this came from, so don't be shy.”
 
 
  Jed smiled.  “Yes, ma'am.”
 
 
  “Papa tells me you're here to talk about Karma-Lou,” Shirley commented as she set the tray down on the little table and handed out the coffee cups.  “I sure do remember that filly!  What a handful.  Of course, Clyde and I weren't married at that time—heavens I was still in school, not even thinking about wifely things.  But Clyde used to take me to the livery to show off the new horses and...well, other things.  Anyway, I just about dropped my drawers when I saw that filly—what a pretty thing!  I so wanted my Pa to buy her but after Clyde let me ride her a few times I realized she was too much horse for me.  I sure was heartbroken though when I heard that Papa Logan had traded her off to some no-good saddle tramp.  So how did you come to acquire her, Mr...?”
 
 
  Heyes smiled sweetly as he sipped his coffee.  “Name's Heyes, Mrs. Logan, and this is my partner, Mr. Curry.  I'm the no-good saddle tramp your father-in-law traded her to.”
 
 
  “OH!”
 
 
  Logan was snickering under his breath and shaking he head.  That little ditz always was putting her foot in her mouth.
 
 
  “Oh, dear me, I'm so sorry.  I didn't mean...”
 
 
  “That's alright, ma'am,” Heyes assured her.  “I suppose at the time I did resemble a no-good saddle tramp but, rest assured, once we got to know one another we got along just fine.  She's a real good horse.”
 
 
Shirley smiled with pleasure.  “That’s nice to know.  Of course the fact that you still have her, would suggest that it all went well.  Well, I have cleaning up to do before Clyde gets home so I'll leave you gentlemen to your chat.”
 
 
  “Yes, ma'am.”
 
 
  “Thank you, ma'am.”
 
 
  Both partners were quick to their feet as the lady left the porch.  Then they sat themselves back down again and took advantage of some of the cake.
 
 
  “You get them horses settled in alright?”  Logan asked.  “And don't lie to me cause I'll be askin' Clyde about them when he gets home.”
 
 
  The two men almost chuckled at the tone of voice being directed their way but they were too busy munching on cake.
 
 
  “Oh yessir,” Heyes swallowed and gave him the reassurance.  “they're all settled in.  Your son did a fine job of tending to them.”
 
 
  “He better had!”  was the snark back at them.  “I'll tan his hide if'n he don't, and he knows it!”
 
 
  “I can believe that,” Jed mumbled behind his coffee cup.
 
 
  “What's that!?”
 
 
  “Nothin',” Kid assured him.  “Just agreein' that's he's a fine hand.”
 
 
  “Hmm.  So what's so all fired important that you come all the way back to this town lookin' fer me?”
 
 
  “Well,” Heyes settled in, “a rancher friend of ours looked after Karma while I was, well—incarcerated, and he bred her a couple of times.  Got a real nice colt and filly out of her.  In fact, they're so nice that he's going to use the colt as his new foundation sire.  Now the colt is papered on his sire's side, but we have nothing to show for Karma.  It's obvious she has quality but you know how it is; people buying a papered horse, they want to know both sides of the lineage.  So, he hired us to track down where she came from in the hopes that we can discover her breeding and maybe even find papers for her, if any ever existed.”
 
 
  “Well,” Logan sat for a moment, puffing on his pipe.  “That's quite an undertaking, considerin' how much time as gone by.”
 
 
  Heyes' heart sank.  “So you don't remember who you got her from?”
 
 
  “Course I remember!”  Logan was insulted.  “I remember every horse that came through my place and most of the people too.  I remembered you, didn't I?  Mister 'I have no idea'!  Dang!  Albert turned out to be a real fine horse for me too.  He was real popular and I hired him out plenty of times, never a complaint—not like that damn filly of yours.  Pretty as she is, I got the better end of that trade for sure.”
 
 
  Heyes was feeling impatient, but he played along; they'd get to it in time. 
 
 
  “I agree he was a fine horse,” Heyes stated, “but I'm happy with the way things worked out.”
 
 
  Logan took a moment to spit in the spittoon.  “Good.  Satisfactory trade all around then.”
 
 
  “So,” Heyes tried to move things along, “who was it you got her from?”
 
 
  “Oh, a horse dealer I often bought offa back then.  He come through with a string of about five horses to see if I was interested in any of 'em,”  Logan explained and then shook his head ruefully. “Damn I got sucked into that filly right away.  I shoulda known better too, bein' in the business and all.  Just cause they's pretty don't mean they make good rentals.  And she didn't, that's for damn sure!  I can't remember how many times she came trotting back to the barn sportin' an empty saddle or haulin' a surrey with no driver. 
  “She ended up costin' me more than I was makin' offa her and that don't even take in all of the complainin' from customers!  Damn!  Then you showed up, a stranger in town, just passin' through and I saw a prime opportunity to unload her.  Your trade-in was sound and I figured he couldn't possibly
have had a worse attitude than that filly.
  “Even at that, though, I'd had my doubts about you.  If I hadn't a been so desperate to unload her I don't think I would have gone through with that trade.  I don't like handin' over a horse—any horse—to someone who's gonna abuse 'em, even a prima donna like her.  Yessir, I kicked myself over that trade.  I shoulda just offered ta buy that gelding off ya and let ya find yerself another horse elsewhere.”
 
 
  “Well I'm sure glad you didn't,” Heyes piped in.  “Not only was I in a hurry at the time, but like I said, Karma has turned out to be the best horse I ever had.  She just needed time to settle down and learn to trust again, that's all.”
 
 
  “Hmm.”
 
 
  “So, this fella you got her off of, he still around?”
 
 
  “Oh, I haven't seen him in years.  Mighta been hung for horse stealin' for all I know.  Some of them animals he brought in were kinda dubious.”
 
 
  “How do you mean?”
 
 
  “Well, he couldn't always show a bill a' sale and though he could produce papers when pushed, I suspected they were forgeries.” Logan explained.  “I never asked no questions, though.  Weren't my problem if he were sellin' stolen property as long as I covered my own backside.  That's why I never included any papers he mighta given me fer some a them horses.  I sell horses with forged papers then that's when it could come back onto me.  Doin' a trade and havin’ no paperwork is always the best way when dealin' with those kinda' characters.”
 
 
  “Why deal with them at all?”  asked Kid.  “If ya knew the horses were probably stolen, isn't that kinda supportin' their trade?”
 
 
  Logan sent Kid a look that would have shred bark.  “Most of my stock came from horse dealers comin' through town.  I'd a' gone outta business buyin' horses at auction or countin' on trade.  What do I care about their ethics?  If they're stealin' horses, they're the ones gonna hang, not me.”
 
 
  “You said Karma came with papers,” Heyes struggled to get the conversation back on track.  “You wouldn't happen to still have those papers, would ya?”
 
 
  Logan sat and puffed on his pipe.
 
 
  “Probably,” he finally admitted.  “I should a' destroyed all them papers as soon as I got 'em. I always meant to but they just kept pilin' up in the old trunk and I never did get around to burnin' them.”
 
 
Revelations
Post on Sun 10 Nov 2013, 12:08 am by Keays
“So, those papers might have this fella's name on them,” Heyes surmised hopefully.
 
 
  “They'll have ‘a’ name,” Logan agreed.  “can't say as it'd be his real name though.”
 
 
  “No, no I understand that,” Heyes assured him, “but it's still another lead.”  He sat back, taking another sip of coffee.  “I'm just surprised she doesn't have a brand.  A horse of her quality I would have thought...”
 
 
  “What are ya talkin' about?”  Logan snapped at him incredulously.  “I thought you said you were fond  a' that mare, 'I take real good care a' her'!  You said!  Geesh—don't ya never brush her!?”
 
 
  Heyes was taken aback by the onslaught.  “Of course I brush her, and I do take good care of her!”  He was feeling rather defensive.  “I've looked for a brand on her—I can't find any.”
 
 
  “Jesus!  You numbskulls!  You sure you got yourself a mare there?  Ya might have a gelding and ya just didn't notice!”
 
 
  “Now that's hardly...”
 
 
  “It's right there for anyone with a lick a' sense,” Logan continued.  “Course it's been tampered with so it don't really look like a brand no more.  That's another reason I think she was stolen.  No reason to tamper with a brand if it's all legit.”
 
 
  “Well, where is it then?”  Heyes was still stinging from the onslaught.
 
 
  “On her, it's on the inside of her right thigh, about half way up between the hock and crop.”
 
 
  Heyes considered that and frowned.  “Yeah, there is something there I'll grant you.  But I've taken a good look at that and it's just an old scar.”
 
 
  “Sure, that's what it looks like to anyone who doesn't know what they're lookin' at,” Logan informed him with a touch of sarcasm.  “That's the whole idea of tamperin' with a brand, ya know—so's people can't read 'em!”
 
 
  “Then how is that supposed to help us?”
 
 
  “Oh, for Christ's sakes!”
 
 
  “Papa, please!” said the voice from inside the house, “Don’t curse the Lord's name!”
 
 
  Logan snarled and rolled his eyes but he did quiet his tone.  “Have ya ever shaved off the hair and taken a real close look at it, or did ya just assume?”
 
 
  “Oh, no I guess I never...”
 
 
  “That's what I thought.  Bloody greenhorn.”
 
 
  “Well, not being a horse thief myself I don't know the finer tricks of the trade!”  Heyes was getting mad.
 
 
  “You tryin' to tell me that you two never stole horses?”  Logan was incredulous.
 
 
  Heyes and Jed exchanged slightly guilty looks.
 
 
  “Well, I suppose when we were desperate,” Kid confirmed with Heyes.
 
 
   Heyes kind of shrugged and nodded.  “And we did buy some a few times that we knew were stolen.”
 
 
  It was Kid's turn to shrug and nod agreement.
 
 
  Logan snorted.  “Just what I thought!  You just never got caught at it is all.  Lucky too, you don't have the knack fer it.”
 
 
  “Well, we were better at other things!”  Heyes felt the need to defend their chosen profession.
 
 
  “Yeah, whatever.” Logan dismissed his defence.  “I tell ya what; I'll meet you fellas at the livery tomorrow morning and we can shave off the hair and take a good look at that brand.  I can also look around in that old trunk and see if I can find her papers.  Will that suit ya?”
 
 
  Heyes smiled.  “Yes, it would.”
 
 
  “Fine.  Now be off with ya!  I wanna enjoy what's left of my evening in my own company.”
 
 
  Walking back through the evening summer sun, Kid was feeling pretty good about the information they had received.
 
 
  “That sure was a lucky chance, running into that old geezer,” he was saying, a big grin lighting up his blue eyes.  “I'll even give ya the point about needing Karma along.  This is gonna be easier than I thought.”
 
 
  “I suppose.”
 
 
  “We meet up with ol' Logan in the morning and take a look at that brand.  Hell, we just might be able to track her right back to where she was bred,” Kid was going on.  “We could be home in time for the 4th of July.”
 
 
  “We'll see.”
 
 
  Finally Kid had to acknowledge that his partner was not showing the amount of enthusiasm that should have been appropriate for the occasion.
 
 
  “Alright Heyes, are you gonna tell me what's buggin' ya?”
 
 
  “That old coot has gotta be at least thirty years older than us,” Heyes grumbled.
 
 
  “Yeah, so?”
 
 
  “He remembered Karma right off,” Heyes continued.  “It's been ten years or so since he last saw her and he knew her right away.”
 
 
  “It is his business, Heyes,” Kid pointed out.  “and even I have to admit that Karma is kinda memorable.”
 
 
  “He remembered me, too,” Heyes wasn't satisfied.  “right down to the comments I made and the horse I traded him.  Hell, he even remembered what I was wearing!”
 
 
  “What's your point?”
 
 
  “I wouldn't have remembered him,” Heyes admitted.  “I couldn't even remember the name of the town or where it was!  Even when we got here, nothing looked familiar.  If that old guy hadn't been checking over Karma when we came out of the saloon, I would have ridden right on outa here, confident that this wasn't the place.”
 
 
  Jed's smile had disappeared as he realized how upset Heyes was about this.
 
 
  “Like you said yourself Heyes, you'd had other things on your mind,” he reasoned.  “There's a lot of towns that you and I hurried through and I sure don't remember 'em.”
 
 
  “Maybe, but I used to always be able to remember where I was, what trails we’d used, what sheriffs we knew, who we didn’t.  I don’t anymore,” said Heyes morosely.
 
 
  Silence settled over between them but Jed wasn't convinced that the discussion was over.  The two friends walked quietly together but Jed noticed that Heyes had slowed down the pace considerably.  He was in no hurry to get back into the busy end of town and that could only be because he wanted to talk.  Jed walked along with him, and waited.
 
 
  “I went to see David about a month ago,” Heyes finally confessed.
 
 
  “Oh yeah?  You never mentioned that.”
 
 
  “No, I know,” Heyes nodded.  “And that was silly, cause you really need to know about this.  I mean nothin' has happened and it may never happen, but still if it does happen and we haven't even discussed it, well, even having the serum on me won't help cause you won't know what's going on and it would just scare ya.”
 
 
  “I'd say you're already doin' a good job of scarin' me,” Jed told him.  “Why don't ya just tell me what you're talkin' about?”
 
 
  A deep sigh from the dimpled one.
 
 
  “Okay,” he agreed.  “Like I said, I went to see David about a month ago.....”
 
**********
 
 
   “......Hannibal, how are you?”  David greeted his friend as he came into the study.  “Have a seat.”
 
 
  “Hi David, I'm okay I guess.”
 
 
  “Yeah,” David responded suspiciously.  “something's on your mind though, what is it?  Your shoulders bothering you?”
 
 
  “Oh no,” Heyes assured him, “they're actually doing pretty good.”
 
 
  “Okay.  Good.”
 
 
  Silence.  The two men sat across from one another, David's office desk sitting quietly between them.
 
 
  “Hannibal...?”
 
 
  “Yeah, ahem.  Sorry,” Heyes shook himself out of his trance and started talking.  “I've noticed lately that my memory isn't quite what it used to be.  Ever since I got released from the prison there's been little things that just won't come to me.  Used to be, I could remember names and faces, and places real easy.  But lately it seems like I'm trying to remember somebody's name and it just won't come.  These things used to come to me without my even having to think about them, but not now.  I don't know if it means anything or if it's just that I'm getting older or what, but I thought maybe you’d have some ideas.  You know, I hear older fellas talking about memory going on them and things like that, but I'm still relatively young for that, so....”
 
 
  David nodded and sat back in his chair.  “What about your poker?” he asked, “that takes a good memory but you seem to be able to still do that.”
 
 
  “Oh yeah!”  Heyes brightened up at that.  “No, my memory for numbers and dates and things hasn't changed, thank goodness.  I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't play poker anymore.  No, it's just names and places, ah, events even.  Kid'll start talking about something that happened twenty years ago and I don't remember any of it.  It's kinda frustrating.”
 
 
  “Yes, I can see where it would be.  But it's selective, though, not everything.  Your memory for numbers and things like that is still as it always was?”
 
 
  “Yeah.”
 
 
  “Okay,” David answered.  “I thought something like this might come up.  It's not old age; as you said yourself, you're not that old yet.  Let me just exam your eyes here.”
 
 
  “My eyes?”
 
 
  “Yes.” David stood up and, opening a drawer in his desk, he took out a small candle and came around the desk to stand in front of Heyes.  He lit the candle and tilted Heyes' chin up so that he could see into the eyes.
 
 
  “Just relax,” David told him.
 
 
  “Oh, I wish you hadn't said that,” Heyes commented.  “Every time you say 'just relax' it's right before you do something that hurts.”
 
 
  David smiled.  “Not this time.  Just keep your head still and follow the light with your eyes.”
 
 
  Heyes did as he was told, remembering back to the days of helping Doc Morin and becoming familiar with this procedure himself.
 
 
  “Okay,” David blew out the candle and returned to his chair, “everything looks all right but the trauma you suffered in prison was bound to have some repercussions.”
 
 
  Heyes looked worried.  “What do you mean?”
 
 
  “Every time the brain suffers a concussion a small amount of damage can be done to specific areas of it that can affect the way the brain functions,” David explained.  “How many times have you had a head injury?  I've noticed that scar on your forehead—is that from a bullet?”
 
 
  Heyes' hand subconsciously went to the scar just under the hairline.  “Yeah,”  he admitted.  “One of two.  Both times I was knocked out cold.”
 
 
  “Okay, how many other times can you think of?”  David persisted.  “Not just bullets, but anything that rendered you unconscious, even if only for a few minutes.”
 
 
  Heyes sat back and thought about it.   “Well ah, let's see.  I know I've been hit on the head about three—no, four times.  Beat up a couple of times.  Oh!  There was that one time when I knocked myself out when I rode into a tree branch.”
 
 
  “You rode into a tree branch?”
 
 
  “Yeah, well—I was busy thinking.”
 
 
   “Really?”
 
 
  “Yeah.”
 
 
  “Okay,” David had to accept that.  “Taking all this into consideration, I'm surprised you're able to function at all.”
 
 
  “It's really not that bad,” Heyes insisted.
 
 
  David gave him a look.  “Hannibal, the number of times you suffered  trauma to the head would have undoubtedly caused damage and I think this selective memory loss is an indication of it.”
 
 
  “Oh,” Heyes really looked worried now.  “Is my memory going to keep on getting worse then?”
 
 
  “No!”  David assured him.  “Actually just the opposite.  The brain is just like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it becomes.  I was pleased when you and Jed decided to open up your own detective agency because it meant that you would be putting your mind to work.  You would be pushing it to solve problems, thereby making it stronger.  Your memory for faces and names may not come back completely, but it should improve the more you use it.”
 
 
  “Oh, that's good then.”
 
 
  “Yes.”
 
 
  “Then I'm good to go?  No worries?”
 
 
  “Well....”
 
 
  The smile dropped from Heyes' face.  “What?”
 
 
  “I debated bringing this up.  I didn't want to worry you needlessly,”  David explained while Heyes started to look worried again.  “You haven't shown any indications and it may not even happen, but if it does happen at some point and we haven't discussed it, then it could be very frightening for you.”
 
 
  “You're doing a pretty good job of scaring me right now, Doc,” Heyes told him.  “What are you talking about?”
 
 
  “Have you heard of a condition called epilepsy?”  David asked him.
 
 
  Heyes creased his brow, trying to think.  “I seem to recall reading about that.  I think it was in one of the medical journals that Doc Morin loaned to me at the prison,” he sighed, shaking his head in frustration.  “This is what I mean David.  I know I've seen that word, but I can't remember what I read about it.”
 
 
  “It may be that the journals you had at the time didn't give much information about it.”  David told him.  “They weren't exactly current and more and more information has been coming out all the time concerning the treatment of the condition.  You may not remember much about it because there wasn't much there.”
 
 
  “Yeah, alright.  So do you think I have it and what is it?”
 
 
  “You're not showing any indications of it,” David assured him again.  “but that doesn't mean it can't show up later, or it may not show up at all.  Still, it's best I suppose that you be forewarned.”
 
 
  “Okay.  So what is it?”
 
 
  “It's a condition of the brain often caused by severe or repeated trauma,” David explained.  “We're not really sure yet why it happens it's just that a certain area of the brain is permanently damaged and it can cause seizures.”
 
 
  Heyes paled noticeably.  “Seizures.”
 
 
  “Yes.”
 
 
  Swallow.  “Like rolling on the floor, foaming at the mouth kind of seizures?”
 
 
  “Yes.”
 
 
  “Aw jeez—somebody shoot me!”
 
 
  “Now Hannibal, it's not that bad,” David assured him, “for one thing, you may never have one.  And for another, there is a serum now that can help control them.  Why don't you bring Miranda around with you tomorrow after dinner and we can sit down and discuss it.”
 
 
  “Does she have to know about this?”  Heyes asked, feeling nervous about disclosing this to anyone.  “Like you said; it may not even happen so....”
 
 
  “But if it does happen and Miranda isn't prepared for it, it'll just frighten her,” David explained.  “It's more likely that she or Jed would be the ones giving you the injection because you probably won't be able to tell when a seizure is coming on.  People who are with you a lot will learn to recognize the signs and administer the shot before the seizure even takes hold , but it's important your friends know what to do.  If you have a seizure, you cannot be left alone.  They can be very violent and you could injure yourself.  Miranda needs to know what to do and I strongly recommend that Sally be told as well.”
 
 
  “Aww, David she's awfully young to be dealing with something like this,” Heyes complained.  “Wouldn't it just scare her?”
 
 
  “It'll scare her a lot more if you have a seizure in front of her and she doesn't know what it is.”
 
 
  Heyes sat in silence while he tried to adjust to all this.  David waited for him to come to terms.
 
 
  “Jeez, David.  How do you know all this stuff?”  Heyes finally asked him.  “Do you come home after doing your rounds and read all night long?”
 
 
  David smiled.  “Sometimes,” he admitted.  “There is so much new information coming out all the time that I have to dedicate some of my attention to learning new things.  Take resuscitation for example.  There has been so much more information come out about new methods since that day with Jed.  Thank goodness I was able to get him back with what I knew then, but if I had lost him only to now discover other methods that could have saved him...that's the dilemma of being a doctor, there's always so much new information coming out and it's always going to be too late for some.”
 
 
  “Yeah, I know what you mean,” Heyes commented.  “I remember feeling that way at the prison.  I had lost a number of friends over the years simply because we didn't know what to do to save them.  Then I got studying some of those medical journals and learning things from Doc Morin and the answer was right there, all along.  We just didn't know.”
 
 
  “Yes, it's frustrating,” David agreed, “and heartbreaking sometimes, too.”
 
 
  Heyes nodded in agreement.  “But come on, David, how could you have known all this stuff about epilepsy?  I mean it's like you always know everything about everything, but that's not possible, so how come you knew about this?”
 
 
  David smiled a little sheepishly.  “Well, I kind of cheated.  I knew, with the treatment you had received at the prison, that it was a possibility you could develop this condition so I started reading up on it.  Over the last couple of years, any new information that came out about how to recognize it and how to treat it, I made sure I studied up.  I even ordered in some of the serum, just to have on hand in case something happened.”
 
 
  “Are you that sure it's going to happen?”  Heyes asked, still feeling unusually concerned.
 
 
  “Not to you, no,” David again assured him.  “It was your situation that prompted me to study up on the condition but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be you I'll be treating for it.  It could happen to anyone.  A fall off a horse could bring it on—anything.  No knowledge is wasted.”
 
 
  “Yes, I suppose that's true enough.”  Heyes agreed as he stood up.  “Alright. I'll bring Miranda and Sally over tomorrow and we can go over it all together.”
 
 
  “Good,” David stood up with him, “but don't get too stressed out over it.  It may not even happen.  I wasn't going to mention it to you at all but your concerns over your memory loss made it pretty relevant so I thought you should at least be aware.”
 
 
  “Yeah, I know you're right,” Heyes shook his hand.  “Thanks David, we'll see you tomorrow.”
 
 
**********
 
  Jed looked ashen.  “Jeez, Heyes, and you didn't tell me?  What if something had happened out on the trail?  I wouldn't have had a clue what to do.”
 
 
  “I know,” Heyes conceded, “it's not exactly easy to talk about you know.  And having to put Miranda through all that.  It did scare her, and Sally, too.  But once they both realized that there was something they could do to handle it, they both relaxed; like all of a sudden it was no big deal.  Actually, Sally handled it better than I thought she would.  But you're right; I should have told you sooner.”
 
 
  “So, you've got that serum with you all the time?”
 
 
  “Yeah, I carry it in my inside shirt pocket.”
 
 
  “Isn't that kinda dangerous carrying a needle inside your shirt?”
 
 
  Heyes smiled.  “Naw, it's in a case.  Here, see?”  He reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small compact metal case no bigger than his wallet.  He opened it up to a layer of cotton that he moved out of the way to reveal a small vial of liquid, a syringe, and a long narrow tube that safely contained the needle.  “See?” Heyes explained.  “You know how to give injections.  We've done it enough times with the horses and each other, too, when we're had to.”
 
 
  “Yeah,” Jed agreed.  “How much would I give ya?”
 
 
  “The whole vial,” Heyes told him, “right into the stomach.”
 
 
  “The stomach?”  Jed asked.
 
 
  “Yeah,” Heyes confirmed. “Ya don't even have to worry about finding a vein or anything, just inject it right into the stomach.”
 
 
  “Oh, alright,” Jed nodded, “sounds easy enough.”
 
 
  “Yeah,” Heyes replied quietly, reflectively.  He snapped the case closed and returned it to his inner pocket.  “Listen, don't tell anybody about this, okay?”
 
 
  “Ya sure?” Jed looked concerned.  “I would think the more people around you who know about it, the better.  At least Belle and Jesse should know.”
 
 
  “Naw,” Heyes shook his head, “at least not yet.  It's kind of embarrassing, ya know, and I must admit I'm having a hard time coming to terms with all this.  I even went out and got drunk after David told me about it.  I felt bad about it, because Randi had been waiting supper on me....but when I told her what had happened, she understood.”
 
 
  “Yeah, that's good,” Kid agreed.  “You alright with it now though?”
 
 
  “No,” Heyes stated bluntly.  “It scares me to death.  Jeez Jed, what if I go mad?  I mean....I've always counted on my intellect, on my brain working the way it should and now David tells me I might not have that anymore.  I mean, I remember reading things in prison about conditions of the brain and all the stuff that can go wrong and....”
 
 
  “Heyes,” Jed interrupted his cousin.  “See, this is what comes of all that book learnin' you do.  It's like you get an overdose of information and you end up knowin' more than ya need to.  I mean David didn't say you were losin' your mind, did he?”
 
 
  “No, not in so many words.”
 
 
  “Not in any words from what I can tell,” Jed pointed out, “and these seizure things; they might not even happen, right?”
 
 
  “Well yeah, but...”
 
 
  “And even if they do happen, it's manageable right?”
 
 
  “Yeah.  I suppose.”
 
 
  “Then what are ya worryin' about?” Jed chided him.  “So, your memory's not as sharp as it was, you're still miles ahead of the rest of us.  Join the club of us lesser beings, Heyes.  With all my practicin' and stretchin’ and everythin’ else, I know I'm not as fast as I used to be.  Never gonna be either.  That's just life I guess.  We do what we can.
  “Maybe it's God's way of tellin' us that we don't need those finely tuned skills anymore.  We can still get the same jobs done, but we got experience now and we're a bit wiser, I hope.  So maybe it all balances out.  Besides, we got friends and family now Heyes; we don't have to do it all on our own
anymore. The more people close to you who know about this, the more support you're gonna get. Just think about all the home cookin' and bakin’ that Belle will do for ya once she finds out.  Oh man Heyes!  Everybody's gonna be tripping over themselves to show their support—you got a real good thing goin' here!”
 
 
  Heyes chuckled; sure enough, his cousin was making him feel better.  “Yeah, okay,”  he finally agreed.  “Maybe if I do actually start having the seizures we can let a few more people know about it but for now I'd rather just keep it quiet.”
 
 
  “I suppose, but look at all that fine home cookin' and pamperin’ you'll be missin’ out on.”
 
 
  Heyes chuckled again and shook his head.  “Just give me some time to adjust okay?  I mean, you may
never have to use it on me.  It might never come up but David strongly advised that I at least inform the people closest to me, and well—you know what David can be like.”
 
 
  “Tell me about it!  What a mother hen,”  Jed agreed.  He smiled and gave his friend a slap on the shoulder.  “Don't worry about it Heyes, I won't tell a soul—that's what partners are for!”
 
 
  The following morning Clyde was down at the livery bright and early to greet his three patrons.
 
 
  “Mornin' Clyde,” Jed greeted him, “how'd they spend the night?”
 
 
“Fine,” the young man assured them.  “They're obviously used to being away from home, don't seem to bother 'em at all.”
 
 
  “Betty's not used to it,” Joe commented, “but she does seem to be settling in alright.”
 
 
  “Yeah, it's good for them to get out and about,” Heyes mumbled as he carried on into the barn to check up on his girl.  “Betty'll be real seasoned by the time we get home.”
 
 
  Curry and Joe followed Heyes into the barn and walked over to an indoor pen that had all three horses settled in together.  Karma nickered at her man as he approached and began tossing her head in anticipation of some attention.
 
 
  “What a ham,” Jed commented as Heyes scratched his mare's ears. 
 
 
  “Why don't 'ya bring that mare out into the sunlight?” Clyde called from the door.  “I brought an old razor with me this morning so we can shave off that hair and see what we got.”
 
 
  Heyes nodded, and grabbing a halter that was conveniently hanging by the pen gate, he slipped it onto Karma's head and led her out towards the exit.  Jed quickly closed the gate so the other two wouldn't follow and then everyone headed outdoors.
 
 
  Clyde had a bucket of water set aside and was getting his hands soaped up in preparation of the shaving job at hand.  Heyes tied Karma to the fence post and then everyone was huddled around her hind quarters all in anticipation of what they were going to find.
 
 
  “Move her tail outa the way,” Clyde instructed. 
 
 
  Heyes did so and Clyde rubbed his wet, soapy hands over the area of the scar and then took out his straight razor.
 
 
  “Maybe you better let me do that,” suggested a nervous Heyes.  “I don't want you to cut her.”
 
 
  “I won't cut her,” Clyde assured him with a bit of an edge.  “If I can shave my own face without nickin' it, I'm sure I can shave a horse's ass.”
 
 
  Clyde began to scrape away what little hair was in that area and though he did have to be a bit careful with the scar having caused the skin to wrinkle and ridge up a bit, it didn't take him long to produce a nice clean, bald spot.  He took a piece of burlap the wiped the area dry and then all four men huddled in around her hind quarters and were bent over and peering at the scar.  Karma herself tolerated this indignity with grace though she did keep her ears flicked back, wondering what in the world those humans were up to back there.
 
 
  “Now ain't that a sight fer sore eyes?!”  came Logan's snipe from the direction of the road.  “Ain't none of ya ever seen a horse's arse before?”
 
 
  “Oh, hey Pa,” Clyde greeted his father, obviously used to the old man's temperament.  “You were right, that for sure is an old brand.”
 
 
  Logan snorted.  “Course I was right; ya can't be in this business as long as I was and not recognize a tampered brand when ya see one.”
 
 
  The other three men straightened up and passed bewildered looks between them.
 
 
  “I don't see no brand there,” Jed finally owned up for them all, “it just looks like scarring...”
 
 
  “Ohh for....”  Logan grumbled, “How the hell did you two get to be so 'notorious'?  Ya can't see nothin' fer lookin'!”
 
 
  “Well, we....”  Heyes felt the need to defend their reputations but he never got the chance to finish.
 
 
  Logan grabbed him by the shirt sleeve and yanked him down to hock level.  The old man used his finger to trace out the older scar, totally ignoring the newer scar that had been slashed across it.
 
 
  “There!  See!”  he demanded.  “What does that look like to you?”
 
 
  Heyes looked and being a tactile person by nature, he ran his fingers over the scars but still was having a hard time seeing what the old man saw.
 
 
  “Oh, I can't believe this,” Logan complained but he did release Heyes from his grip and they both straightened up.  Heyes met the Kid's gaze and shrugged.  “Get me a piece of paper from the ledger and that pencil,” Logan ordered his son.
 
 
  Clyde went and got the items and Logan squatted down again.  “Get her tail outa the way,” he demanded, and he set about drawing out the lines of the scar as he saw them.
 
 
  Karma glanced back at these proceedings as far as her tether would let her.  This was very strange indeed.  Why couldn't these humans just go away and let her finish her breakfast?  Besides, she had to poop but with everyone clustered around her hind end like that she didn't think it would be appreciated at the moment.
 
 
  Fortunately, it didn't take long for Logan to draw out the pattern of the scarring.  He straightened up and Heyes released the mare's tail.  Finally!  Karma swished it a couple of times to get the kinks out of it, then lifted it and tended to her business.
 
 
  “Oh, crap!”  Logan complained as he quickly stepped out of the way.  “Clyde!  Get the pitchfork and clean that up!”
 
 
  Clyde went to attend to his duty while the other three men clustered around Logan to take a look at what he had drawn.  Logan flattened the piece of paper out against Karma's flank and then taking the pencil, darkened the lines that he felt constituted a brand.
 
 
  “There, see?”  He pointed out, “now don't that look like a horse shoe to you?”
 
 
  Everyone scrutinized the drawing.
 
 
  “Well....”  Heyes shrugged again and putting a finger on the page tried to follow the outline of a horse shoe.
 
 
  Logan impatiently slapped his hand away.  “Not that way!”  he snarked.  “Here, it's upside down with the open end at the top.  See it?”
 
 
  Three creased brows leaned in closer.
 
 
  “Oh yeah, I can see it,” said Joe.
 
 
  “Ya can?”  Jed questioned the validity of that statement, “all I see are a bunch a' lines.”
 
 
  “No, it's pretty plain now that he's pointed it out,” Joe insisted.  “It's an upside down horse shoe.”
 
 
  Logan grinned with pleasure.  “It's a good thing them two brung you along, young fella.  At least you got eyes in yer head ta see with.”
 
 
  Heyes and the Kid exchanged irritated looks.  Logan seemed to have latched onto Joe as the intelligent one of the group and brought him in even closer.
 
 
  “And ya see here,” Logan continued to explain the drawing, “inside the horse shoe?  Lookit that, don't that look like a backward ‘S’, or maybe a ‘Z’”.  Might even be a ‘2’.”
 
 
  “Yeah!”  Joe agreed, getting excited.  “Yeah, I can see that!”
 
 
  He went back to view the actual brand again now that Karma's morning toiletry had been cleared away.
 
 
  “Yeah,” he confirmed, “now that it's been pointed out, I can see that right here.”
 
 
  “Yeah, but still,” Heyes was feeling left out of the loop, “there's a lot of 'maybe's' in there.  If we don't know exactly what the brand is, how are we going to track it down?”
 
 
  “Well, Calhoun; that's the fella that brung them horses to me, he usually come up through Wyoming way.  If she were stolen, no self-respecting horse thief would try and sell her in the state that she was stolen in.  It might take some time, but you could narrow it down.”
 
 
  “We could send the drawing to Beth,” Jed spoke up.  “If anybody would know how to track down a brand, she would.  Being a rancher's daughter an' all.  Maybe she or Jesse might even recognize it.”
 
 
  Heyes nodded.  “That's a good idea.  She could track the brand from her end while we carry on following the trail—as cold as it is.  But, it’s going to take weeks for her to get it and then track it down.”
 
 
“So, we’ll still be workin’ on it from this end, too,” said Jed.
 
 
  “Well there ya go,” Logan crumpled the piece of paper into Joe's hands and started walking into the barn.  “I'll see if I can find them registration papers; I'm sure they're in that trunk somewheres.”  Then he yelled out from the interior of the barn, “Why don't you fellas go get yourselves some breakfast or something?!  Come back in an hour.”
 
 
  Clyde untied Karma and led her back to the pen where she hoped her friends had at least left her some hay for breakfast.  The three men suddenly found themselves abandoned.
 
 
  “Well,” Jed finally commented, “let's go eat.”
 
 
  “Oh, yeah.”
 
 
  “Okay.”
 
 
  An hour and twenty minutes later, Jed was arranging to get the drawing of the brand sent back to the Double J, and Heyes was back at the livery looking over the 'registration' papers.  Joe was scrutinizing them over the older man's shoulder.
 
 
  “They look authentic enough,” Heyes commented.  “Name:  Karma-Lou.  Date of birth: June 1880.  Breeder's name is down as Cole Stockyards, Wyoming.  Hmm.  Why would it be 'stockyards' and not 'ranch' or 'holdings'?  That's a bit dubious.  Anyway,...Name of sire and his lineage.  Name of dame and her lineage.  Her description is quite accurate.  They got her here as twelve years old so that's pretty close.  Hmm, brand: none.”
 
 
  “Exactly,” Logan mumbled, “we know that ain't the truth, so I doubt them paper's is worth the price of the printin'.”
 
 
  Heyes sighed.  “I've never even heard of Cole Stockyards; that could be anywhere in Wyoming.”
 
 
  “If the place even exists,” Joe pointed out.  “We'd be better off backtracking that horse dealer—what's his name, Calhoun?  Do you remember what route he would take?”
 
 
  Logan shrugged.  “I doubt he'd come through the mountains.  My guess would be Buffalo and Sheridan.”
 
 
  Heyes groaned.  “We just came from Sheridan and I don't think the sheriff there really wants us to come back.”
 
 
  Logan snorted.  “Not too popular with the local law, eh, young fella?”  he cackled in some delight and Heyes grimaced; this old man's attitude wasn't making him feel any better. “Ya want my advice?  Forget about trackin' names—they's probably all fakes anyways.  Head back through Wyoming and start talkin' to the livery folks.  I'm sure I ain't the only one who’s done business with him.  Yup, that's how I'd do it; town by town, askin' people as ya go.”
 
 
  “That could take all summer,” Heyes complained.
 
 
  “Yup,” Logan grinned.  “Do you wanna know where that mare come from, or don't ya?”
 
 
  Heyes groaned again.  “Well, let's get those horses saddled and ready to go,”  he grumbled, accepting the inevitable, “back through Wyoming.  Only this time we won't be able to do it in style on board a train.  This time we're gonna have to ride it town by town.  One good thing Joe, you're going to have yourself a well-rounded mare by the time we get back home.”
 
 
To be Continued
 

The Lineage Chapter four Revelations.

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