Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

Buckshot Enterprises Presents a site for posting and reading Alias Smith and Jones Stories
 
HomePortalFAQSearchRegisterLog in

Reply to topic
Share | 
 

  Keeping Up Curry: 24 Forgettable Hours by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
royannahuggins
Moderator
avatar

Posts : 419
Join date : 2013-10-13

20140223
Post Keeping Up Curry: 24 Forgettable Hours by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn



Starring
Ben Murphy as Kid Curry and Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes


Guest Starring
(in alphabetical order)

Robert Donner as Preacher


James Drury as Lom Trevors


Dennis Fimple as Kyle


Earl Holliman as Wheat Carlson


Bill McKinney as Lobo


Harry Northup as Hank



Keeping Up Curry: 24 Forgettable Hours
by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn



Mid-morning

Hannibal Heyes and Jed “Kid” Curry rode hard along a trail, passing through grasslands before heading up into the hills. Taking cover behind a copse of trees, they dismounted on a bluff overlooking the flats. Breathing hard, perhaps both from the ride and an adrenaline rush, they removed their hats and mopped their brows with their shirt sleeves. Both sported dust-covered clothing and dirty faces, streaks of sweat etching clean lines here and there through the grime, the several-day stubble on their chins all the more pronounced. If men could look exhausted, they did.

Each unfastened a canteen from his saddle and took a long swig. Heyes then undid a saddlebag and drew out a spyglass. Moving beyond the trees into the open, he lowered himself to a crouch. Using the glass, he saw a dust cloud in the distance. Bent low, he ran back to the trees and straightened up, in quick succession replacing the telescope and nodding to his partner. They remounted and spurred their horses on.


**

A few hours later

The boys arrived at a stream. Kid jumped down from his bay and handed the reins to his partner. Still astride, Heyes and the horses waded into the brook. After a brief search, the fair-haired man grabbed several broken branches and swept the ground clear of their tracks, backing toward the water as he went. Just beyond the creek’s edge, he tossed the branches aside and turned to remount. The partners meandered downstream at a more leisurely pace, no longer looking over their shoulders.

**

Mid-afternoon

The duo sat on rocks near water’s edge, eating jerky while the horses drank.

Heyes finished and took a long gulp from his canteen. Wiping his mouth with a shirt sleeve, he sighed.

Kid looked at him, questioningly.

Heyes glanced at him, “I think we lost them.”

“I hope you’re right, Heyes. I’m gettin’ too old for this.”

“You?!” The dark-haired man feigned mock disbelief.

Curry nodded. “Right. ‘We’re’ gettin’ too old for this.”

“Damn straight!” Heyes squinted at the sky. “We have another four or five hours of daylight. Maybe there’s a town up ahead.”

Kid whacked his hat against his leg, sending dust flying. He coughed and waved his hand through the cloud, diffusing it. “I hope so. Hard ground again. My back can’t take too much more of this.” With that, he grunted as he exaggeratedly bent backward, straightened, and stretched his arms.

Heyes mirrored the actions, albeit with more restraint. “I know what ya mean. A nice, soft bed is just what the doctor would order.”

Kid smiled. “Okay, Dr. Heyes – then what are we waitin’ for? Haven’t got all day.”

They mounted up.

**

Riding at a slow gallop, they stopped at a weathered sign – “Sinking Springs, 5 miles.” Grinning at each other for a brief second, the partners spurred the horses into a slightly faster gallop.

**

The main street of Sinking Springs bustled with life. Men and women went about their business, some walking fast, some slower. Several children rolled a hoop in front of a dress shop, and a few boys yelled, “Bang, bang,” “shooting” with a stick as one fell, lying prone.

Into this tableau rode Kid and Heyes, the former gesturing with his head toward the boys and chuckling. The latter smiled back.

They stopped and dismounted in front of a saloon. Surveying the scene, Kid nodded towards the sheriff’s office across the street and a few doors down. The partners strode nonchalantly that way, noting the plaque on the door – “John Q. Pratt, Sheriff.”

Two brows furrowed. The pair sauntered to the general store a few doors beyond and stopped to scan the window for several seconds.

Heyes, sotto voce, “So this is where John Quincy wound up.”

Kid, equally low, “Long way from Wichita.” Pause. “So much for soft beds.”

“Let’s go.”

Pulling their hats a little lower and keeping their backs to the lawman’s office, they returned to their mounts, regained the saddle, and unobtrusively and unhurriedly rode out of town.

**

Two hours later

The partners pulled into a clearing.

Heyes surveyed the landscape. He nodded in one direction. “Over there, that little gully. Good cover, off the road a piece.” He pointed from the gully toward the track. “Through those trees over there…”

Kid continued, “Yeah, we should still be able to see the road some, and hear anybody ridin’ up.” Pause. “More hard ground.” He sighed. “No time like the present…”

The horses started in the direction of the gully.

“Come on, Kid, look on the bright side – more soft grass out here than hard ground.”

Curry regarded his partner. “Heyes, ground is ground. Don’t go confusin’ it with a soft bed. Which, if ya remember, ya promised me.”

Heyes shrugged. “Sorry, Kid. Had no way of knowing we’d run into ol’ John Quincy’s town.”

Kid yawned. “I know.” Sigh. “It’s just that, what’s it been – three days almost?”

“Without sleep?”

“Yeah.”

The boys reached the gully and dismounted.

Heyes stood by his horse for a moment, seemingly in thought. “Nah, more like two days and a night.”

Kid rolled his eyes…Yawned. “Does it really matter? It’s been a long time.”

Heyes yawned. “Would ya stop that, Kid. It’s catching, and we still got a lot of work to do.”

“Sorry, Heyes. It’s just that – this must be the longest I’ve ever been awake.” He yawned lustily, mouth open, and stretched mightily. “I’m exhausted.”

The dark-haired man yawned again. “I am, too.” Thoughtfully, “But this isn’t the longest you’ve been awake.”

Kid’s brow furrowed. “No? Seems like it.”

“Maybe it seems like it, but it’s not. That was when you had that concussion up at the Hole.”

Kid frowned. After several seconds, “I forgot about that.”

Heyes chuckled. “Not surprised. You were pretty much out of it. We had to keep you awake for twenty-four hours after already being on the run for a couple of days without sleep before that.” Frown. “Hmm, never ends, does it!” Smile. “Anyway, ya got pretty ornery, part of it.”

“What would ya expect?”

Heyes nodded, knowingly, then smirked. “About that.”

The partners proceeded to relieve the horses of the tack.

Curry stopped, looked up. “Ya know, I really don’t remember that, Heyes. I mean, I know it took place, and you mighta told me a little about it, but I just don’t remember.”

“That’s okay, Kid. It turned out all right. I mean, you were fine. And it was years ago. About a year after Big Jim was caught, I think. And Lom was still riding with us.”

Kid yawned. “What happened?”

“Let’s see…I remember some, and the boys told me other stuff.”

“Uh huh.”

“Hmm…You and me’d been away, drumming targets for the next job, when we had to hightail it from a posse, like we’re still doing.” Roll of eyes. “You were right; we really ‘are’ getting too old for this! Anyway, if I recall, we didn’t have much time then to rest, either. I think it was a full moon, so we were able to make our way day and night for a coupla days, so we were already exhausted when we finally made it back to the Hole.”

Small branches in his arms, Kid interrupted his wood gathering to look up. He yawned. “Heyes, just hearin’ about bein’ tired is makin’ me sleepy.”

Heyes unloaded his saddle from his chestnut and heaved it over one shoulder, finally arranging it against a boulder. He chuckled. “Yeah, talking about it isn’t helping, is it?! But, the sooner we get camp set up…”

“The sooner we eat, and sleep!”

“Uh huh.”

Kid walked toward the center of the clearing and dumped the wood on the ground. “So, we made it back to the Hole…”

“And this part I’ll never forget, because I was furious with him – Harry Wagoner threw a stick of dynamite near us, and it made our horses rear, real sudden-like. We were both thrown. I landed on my ass, but was okay, and you landed on your back.” His tone turned serious. “I got up and lit into Harry, and one of the boys interrupted me – Kyle, I think. I said, ‘Not now, Kyle,’ and he said you were hurt.” The partners’ eyes met. “You were hardly moving – almost still. I went over to ya and shook ya a bit and was relieved when you moaned. Guess that hard head of yours helped.” A brief smile. “Anyway, it was obvious you were a little dazed, at least – hit the ground hard on your back and musta hit your head pretty bad, too, ‘cause…Well, you weren’t getting up right away.”

Kid grimaced. “It hurts just hearin’ that.”

Heyes contemplated the ground. Looking up, he sighed. “Yeah, well, it was no picnic for me, either. For a second there, before ya moved, I thought the worst…”

“Aw, Heyes, ya like me!”

Still serious, “Wasn’t funny, Kid. Once I saw you were moving and we helped ya onto the porch – you were pretty shaky – I really let Harry have it.”

Kid wore a thoughtful expression, then spoke, “I sure don’t remember that. What was Harry doin’ with dynamite anyway?”

“He had some lame excuse that Kyle’d been teaching him how to use it, and I lit into Kyle, too. But he came to me later and said Harry’d been lying, that he went into the shed and took it to try it out. He got startled when we were riding in and threw it by mistake – at us!” Heyes turned red with anger. His voice rose, “But, damn it to hell, Kid, that was ‘stupid!’”

Kid gestured as he spoke in a lower voice, “Heyes, keep it down.”

Sheepishly, “Sorry, Kid. It just makes me boil to even think about how stupid that was.”

Kid began to gather stones, arranging them in a large circle around the branches. “I never thought Harry was too smart. All those schemes he thought up – they’d never work!”

“Yeah. Not surprising he didn’t last long.”

“Nope.”

Heyes pulled cooking gear from their saddlebags. “Ya know, Kid, it’s a good thing we had a trial period. Made it easier to let him go with no hard feelings, at least on our part.”

Kid laughed. “Yeah, couldn’t say the same for ol’ Harry!”

Heyes scrunched up his face. “No. Wonder if he’s still in jail. Sure is the safest place for him.”

The fair-haired partner continued gathering stones. “So what happened next?”

“Gosh, Kid. Let’s see. Well, from the way you were complaining about a headache and all, I figured ya had a concussion. Not that I know a whole lot about doctoring.”

“Dr. Heyes.”

“Ha! Anyways, you had all the symptoms I’d always heard about a concussion – you know, dizziness, feeling like you want to throw up, ’cept ya didn’t, a little fuzzy seeing things…” He regarded Kid. “Well, I really hated to do it, but figured we’d better play it on the safe side and keep ya awake for twenty-four hours.”

Kid blew out a breath. “That sounds rough.”

“Yeah, well, it was for your own good.”

Curry rolled his eyes. “How many times have I heard that?!”

“Would you rather we let ya sleep and maybe ya don’t wake up?”

Kid, sheepishly, “Well, when ya put it that way…”

“Uh huh.”

The fair-haired partner was finishing the rock circle around the pile of branches, while Heyes started a fire.

Kid looked up. “So then what? You said ya lit into Harry?”

The dark-haired man raised an eyebrow. “Yep. Did I ever. Had him practically begging for forgiveness.” Pause. “You know, looking back on it, I almost feel sorry for him. Right then, he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, and a couple of the boys had to peel me off him as it was.”

“You had him good, huh, Heyes?”

“I guess. The boys got him out of there before I could finish what I started. Just as well, ’cause I had to look after you.”

Kid stood stock-still, regarding Heyes.

“After an hour or so, I was falling asleep on my feet and couldn’t look after ya all by myself. Figured if we were really gonna keep ya awake that long, we’d all have to take turns. So I called the men together at the leader’s cabin and asked who wanted to go first...”

**

Flashback

“I’ll do it,” a voice piped up from the back of the assembled members of the Devil’s Hole Gang.

Heyes turned towards the voice to see eager eyes hurrying towards him.

“I’ll do it, Heyes,” the outlaw with the lopsided grin repeated as he practically ran up to the dark-haired leader.

“Kyle,” Heyes nodded at the man. “You can start, and then I want a rotation of the rest of the men.” Heyes scanned the area until his eyes fell on the one he sought. “Wheat, I expect you to get a schedule together so everyone takes a turn.”

Wheat rolled his eyes.

Heyes’ eyes went dark and his lips thin. “Got a problem…Wheat?”

Stretching his neck, he responded, “No problem,” and then swallowed hard.

“Good, ’cause if you can’t handle it, I’ll get someone else.”

Wheat quickly stepped up. “Okay boys. Let’s get this schedule together. Kyle’s first, who wants to be…”

Heyes watched the men gather around Wheat. He turned to see his dazed partner sitting on the chair in front of the leader’s cabin. “Kyle, let’s get Kid inside.”

“Sure thing,” Kyle happily complied as he hopped up on the porch and grabbed Kid by the arm.

Kid pulled his arm back. “I can get up myself,” he insisted and began to stand, only to stumble forward.

Heyes reached out and grasped Kid by the shoulders, steadying him. “Hey, take it easy. You got a big bump on your head.”

“Just stood up too quick; I’m fine.”

“Sure, you are,” Heyes tried to soothe his partner. “We just need to take some precautions.”

“I’m fine, Heyes,” Kid adamantly stated. As he started to turn around, he grasped the railing of the porch to steady himself.

“Now ya gonna listen to me?”

Blue eyes glared at brown.

“Just for the night, Kid. Gotta make sure that head of yours is as hard as I think it is.”

Kid’s glare intensified.

“Still easy to rile; that’s a good sign.” Seeing a not-so-amused partner, Heyes tried to suppress the grin that was trying desperately to spread. “Let’s get you inside.”

Heyes reached out to grasp Curry’s arm, but a swift hand batted it away. Shrugging, he acquiesced, letting Kid enter the cabin in front of him, while Kyle followed behind.

**

“Coffee’s on,” Heyes pointed towards the stove. Turning to face Kyle, “I’ve gotta lie down before I hit the ground.” He blinked hard. “Keep him awake, no matter what he says.” Brown eyes gave a knowing look towards his partner. “We got a job coming up, and we gotta make sure Kid’s okay.”

“I’ll keep ’im awake, Heyes, I promise.” Kyle’s lopsided grin spread across his face.

“I’ll be in my room.” He walked into the bedroom and closed the door behind him.

“Hey, Kid,” Kyle looked at the blond man sitting at the table. “It’s jes you and me.” He smiled broadly. “Let me git ya some coffee, and then we can play some poker.”

**

Kid sat at the table staring at the cards in his hand.

“You want any cards?”

Kid slowly looked from his cards to the man sitting across from him at the table.

“Kid?” Kyle leaned in.

A light knock on the door had Kyle jump to his feet. As the door slowly opened, Wheat stuck his head in. Seeing Kyle and Kid, he walked in.

“Got the schedule,” Wheat stated. Placing a piece of paper on the table, he looked around the room.

Kyle picked up the paper and studied the list. “You ain’t on here, Wheat.”

“Pfft, so?”

“Heyes said we’s all supposed to…”

“Heyes told me to get the schedule.” Wheat puffed his chest as he hooked his thumbs in his belt. “I got the schedule.”

“But ya ain’t on it.”

“I didn’t go do no dang fool thing to get my head bashed in. I ain’t gonna waste my sleep tryin’ to keep this fool awake.”

“But Heyes…”

“Heyes ain’t no doctor. Just ’cause he thinks, don’t make it so.” Wheat sheepishly looked around, then whispered, “Where’s Heyes?”

Kyle motioned to the closed door, “Sleepin’.”

“See he ain’t takin’ a turn.”

“He done took a turn, Wheat.”

“Not for as long as he expects you all to do. What makes him so special? He’s his partner.”

“’Cause he’s been on the trail a long time.”

“Pfft, if Kid was careful, he wouldn’t ’ave fallen off his horse in the first place.”

“Weren’t Kid’s fault,” Kyle stated firmly. “It’s Harry Wagoner’s fault.”

“It’s Harry’s fault,” Wheat mocked. “If I were leader, it wouldn’t be anyone’s fault, ’cause it wouldn’t ’ave happened.”

Thud!

Both Kyle and Wheat jumped and turned towards the noise. Kid’s hand lay flat on the table, his cards were scattered. As Kid’s eyes slowly closed, he started to lean to his right.

“Ah!” Kyle exclaimed.

Wheat launched himself forward, grabbing Kid by the arm, yanking him up. Glaring at Kyle, “Great job.”

Kyle’s mouth dropped open.

“If ya ask me, you’re doin’ it all wrong.”

“But Kid likes poker, so we was playin’ poker to keep him awake.”

“A lot of good that did.”

“It was workin’ jes fine t’ ya came in.”

Posturing, “Is that so?”

“Sure. Kid was awake.”

“Barely.”

“Well, ‘barely’s’ still awake.” Kyle nodded.

Wheat rolled his eyes. “Ya gotta get him up; walk him around to keep him awake.”

“Walk Kid around?”

“Yeah, go on, help him up and walk him around. That’ll keep him awake.”

Kyle walked over to the blue-eyed leader. “Come on, Kid, we’re goin’ for a walk.” He leaned down to try to help Kid up, but ended up almost plowing his face into the table.

Wheat blew out a breath and gave Kyle a nudge out of the way. “This is how ya do it.” Wheat bent down, lifted Kid’s arm and placed it over his shoulder. Then with the other arm wrapped around Kid’s waist, Wheat stood up, bringing the blond leader to his feet. “Okay,” Wheat grunted, “Let’s go for a walk.”

“Where?”

“Open the door, Kyle.” Wheat stepped and then swayed. “Man you’re dead on your feet, Kid. Let’s get you some fresh air.”

Kid slowly turned his head to Wheat and groaned, “Just let me sleep.”

“If I let ya sleep, your partner’s gonna shoot me.”

“If you don’t, I’m gonna shoot ya.”

Wheat’s eyes got big. “Kyle, come help Kid out.”

“Whaaaatttt?”

“Here,” Wheat dumped Kid’s arm onto Kyle’s shoulder.

“But, Wheat…” Kyle whined.

“See ya later,” Wheat began walking to the door.

“Whhhoooaaaa,” Kyle stumbled as Kid’s eyes once again began to close. Trying to right himself, Kyle knocked Kid’s shoulder into the door.

Bang! The door slammed against the wall.

Wheat’s eyes got big as he darted back to help Kyle. “Ya tryin’ to kill him?” he looked around, “and us!”

“NO!” Kyle exclaimed and then quickly glanced at the bedroom door. After a beat or two, he let out the breath he was holding as there was no noticeable movement from the leader’s room.

“Come on,” Wheat helped Kid out onto the porch.

Kyle followed and quietly closed the door. “Now what?”

Wheat sighed as he looked at Curry.

The blue eyes looked back.

“Let’s go for a walk.”

“Why?” Kid asked as he tried to take his arm off Wheat’s shoulder.

Wheat pulled it back.

“’Cause your partner said you had to stay awake,” Wheat mocked.

Kid blinked hard and stretched his neck. He tried to pull his arm off Wheat’s shoulder again, but Wheat held on tight.

“Unless you want your partner on the warpath, I suggest you just go with it. Believe me,” Wheat sighed, “I ain’t happy ’bout it either.

“So where we goin’?” Kyle asked.

Wheat looked around. “I don’t know…We’ll just walk around out here. Get some fresh air.” He stepped off the porch with Kid next to him and Kyle on the other side.

**

The three men walked in unison around the compound, following the path that their many trips around had created.

“I’m gettin’ real tired of walkin’ in circles,” Kid complained.

“Tired!?” Kyle exclaimed, stopping dead in his tracks, pulling Kid and then Wheat to a halt. “Wheat, Kid’s gettin’ tired. He can’t get tired. You said walkin’ would keep him awake.”

“Well, I’m gettin’ tired of walkin’ too, and I ain’t got no bump on my head,” Wheat shot back.

“What are we gonna do, Wheat?”

“Sit down,” Kid replied.

“We can’t sit down, Kid. You gotta stay awake. Heyes said…” Kyle pleaded.

Kid pulled his arm away from Wheat and took a step. “Well, I say I’m gonna sit down.”

“Where’s he goin’?” Kyle turned to ask Wheat.

“How do I know?”

Panic raced across Kyle’s face as he watched Kid walk away from them.

“I’m goin’ to the barn. I can find a nice soft place to sit down and relax,” he stated as he zigzagged towards the building.

Kyle and Wheat looked at each other and then quickly took off to catch up to him.

“Kid,” Kyle started.

“Kyle, I’m sittin’ down, and if you try to stop me, I’ll shoot ya.” Arriving at the barn door, Kid reached out and slammed his hand into it. “Oww!”

“Ya okay, Kid?” Kyle asked anxiously.

Kid shook his hand and tried to grab the handle again, but he saw two blurry handles. He blinked hard, and his hand grasped at air.

“Watcha doin’? Kyle innocently asked.

“Tryin’ to open the door!” Kid growled as his hand flailed in the air.

“But the handle’s over here.” Kyle reached out and opened the door.

Kid blinked again, looked at Kyle, then proceeded into the barn.

Wide-eyed, Kyle looked at Wheat, who shrugged. They headed in after their wobbly leader.

Wheat stretched as he glanced around the inside of the barn. “Just exactly what I was lookin’ for,” he plopped down on a bale of hay and pushed his hat forward over his eyes.

“But, Wheat…”

“Kyle, I’ve done my time. You do yours.”

Forlornly, Kyle eyed Wheat and then turned his attention to the other blue-eyed outlaw.

“’Kay, Kid, what ya want to do?”

“Sleep.” Curry found a bale of hay and sat down on it.

“But ya can’t!”

“Sure I can. Just watch.”

“But Heyes…”

“Ya know I’m pretty tired of hearin’ what Heyes says since he’s in his bed sleepin’!”

“But he ain’t concussed.”

Kid pulled his hat over his eyes, “Kyle, if you don’t be quiet, I’m gonna have to shoot ya.”

“Ya wouldn’t really shoot me, would you?”

“Keep talkin’ and ya can find out.”

Dismayed, Kyle glanced between Kid and Wheat. Despair spread across his face and then a smile slowly replaced it. Quietly, Kyle tip-toed towards his intended target. He reached his hand slowly out and carefully put two fingers on the butt of Kid’s gun.

As the fingers touched the pistol, Kid’s left hand clamped down on Kyle’s wrist. “What do you think you’re doin’, Kyle?”

“Ha,” Kyle laughed nervously. “I…I…I…was jes gonna git your gun aaannn’…clean it.” Kyle stood up, looking proud of himself.

With two fingers, Kid pushed his hat back as he looked at Kyle. “You want me to believe you were takin’ MY gun, so you could clean it?”

Kyle nervously nodded.

“Where were you gonna clean it?”

Kyle’s eyes looked around the barn to avoid the icy glare.

“Kyle?” Kid forcefully asked.

“Well,” Kyle grinned sheepishly.

The glare intensified.

“Ya see...I…I jes didn’t want ya t’ shoot me and Heyes said t’ keep ya awake.”

Curry sighed. “Kyle, I’ll make ya a deal. You let me close my eyes for ten minutes and you can wake me up. Okay?”

“But, Heyes said…”

“Heyes isn’t gonna shoot you and I will,” Kid smiled.

Wheat had been peering out from behind the brim of his hat, until Kyle looked his way. Feigning sleep, a fake snore broke the silence.

Kyle turned his attention from Wheat back to Kid. “’Kay,” uncertainty was heard in his voice. “Jes ten minutes…’kay?”

“Ten minutes…” Kid sighed sleepily.

“An’ ya won’t shoot me when I wake ya?”

“I won’t shoot ya.”

“An’ ya won’t tell Heyes?”

“I won’t tell Heyes.”

“An’…”

Kid placed his hand on the butt of his pistol and glared at Kyle.

Kyle swallowed hard.

“Ten minutes and it’s just between you and me.”

“An’ Wheat.” Kyle shrugged towards the other outlaw.

“And Wheat,” Kid growled.

“’Kay.”

Curry pulled his hat over his eyes and crossed his arms.

Kyle looked around the barn and began to pace. He walked over to the open door, looked out towards the leader’s cabin and then back at the resting partner. As he looked back at Kid, Kyle walked towards Wheat. Plopping himself down on the same hay bale, Kyle shook Wheat’s shoulder. “Wheat. Wheat.”

“Kyle, if Kid don’t shoot, ya, I will!”

“But Wheat, ya gotta help me,” Kyle whined. “Kid wants to sleep, or he’ll shoot me, and if I let him sleep, Heyes is gonna shoot me. What am I gonna do?”

“Get shot.”

“Wheat! Yur always sayin’ ya know what’s better an’ ya should be leader.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, I was jes thinkin’, since ya know so much, ya can help me out.”

“Kyle,” Wheat pushed his hat back and sat up. He looked at the sad, droopy-eyed man next to him. Then he looked at Kid propped up on a pile of hay bales. “Go wake ’im up.”

“What?”

“Well, if Kid’s been sleepin’, he has no idea how long it’s been. So wake ’im up and tell ’im it’s been ten minutes.”

Skeptically, Kyle looked at Wheat.

“Go ’head.” Wheat made a shooing motion with his hands.

Hesitantly, Kyle stood up. Taking a breath, he stepped forward. A lopsided grin spread across his face. “Kid,” he quietly called out. “Kid,” he repeated. “Time to git up.”

There was no movement from the blue-eyed leader.

“Kid,” Kyle stepped closer and called out a little louder. “Kid, time to wake up.”

“Kyle, I’m gonna shoot ya!”

Stopping dead in his tracks, “But ya said ya wouldn’t.”
“I said ten minutes and I wouldn’t.”

Kyle turned to look at Wheat.

Wheat nodded at him.

Kyle turned back to face Kid. “It’s been ten minutes.”

“Maybe, ten seconds.”

“Nope,” Kyle tried to sound convincing. “Ten minutes, jes like ya told me.”

Sleepy eyes peered out from under the brim of his hat, as Kid pushed it back a little bit. “I need more sleep.”

“But ya promised, Kid. Ya gotta wake up or Heyes is gonna kill me.” Kyle turned pleading eyes towards Wheat.

Wheat shook his head.

Kyle’s eyes pleaded more.

Wheat rolled his eyes. Standing up, he announced, “Come on, Kid, time to get up and get movin’.”

“Wheat, this don’t concern ya.”

“Yeah, that’s right, it don’t, but ya made a promise to Kyle. So get your sorry…”

“Wheat!” Kid growled.

“All I’m sayin’ is you’re gonna be responsible for Heyes goin’ to jail for murder if you don’t get up.”

“What?”

“Yep, Heyes kills Kyle, that’s a hangin’ offense. Ya want Heyes to get hung, that’s on you.” Wheat puffed out his chest. “Kyle, I think maybe ya better hit the trail before Heyes has a shot at ya.”

Kyle’s eyes grew wide.

“Heyes ain’t gonna shoot ya.” Kid banged his hand on the bale of hay.

As the bale shifted, the pile behind began to sway.

Kyle lunged forward, but in the act, bumped a lantern that hit a rake that knocked a bucket off its peg and right into Kid’s lap.

Kid looked at the bucket, and his eyes slowly moved up to Kyle’s, who smiled sheepishly. Patting the bale of hay as he smiled, Kyle slowly stepped backwards, but his coat button was caught on the rope holding the bale together. As he pulled at it, the bale burst open and hay cascaded down all over Curry.

“Oh,” Kyle gasped. He swatted at the hay and tried to brush the hay off of Kid.

“Oww!” An angry Curry exclaimed.

Startled, Kyle bumped Kid in the head. “Now, Heyes is really gonna kill me! I concussed ya again!”

“You didn’t concuss me…You didn’t give me another concussion. You just hit the bump.”

“Sorry, Kid, I didn’t mean it, I really didn’t. I was jes tryin’ to help. I was jes tryin’…”

“Just go, Kyle,” Kid angrily stated and pointed out the door.

Kyle stopped trying to clean off the hay and stepped back. He looked at the ground before turning towards the door. “Be seein’ ya, Wheat.” He slowly walked out of the barn.

“Nice goin’,” Wheat stated.

“What?” Kid growled.

“Just scared the daylights out of the only guy in the gang that would do anything for you or Heyes. He worships you, and all you could do is yell at him and toss him out. How long you think Kyle’ll be able to survive on his own?”

“Survive on his own? What are you talkin’ about, Wheat?” Kid continued brushing off the hay.

“Kyle’s leavin…Didn’t ya hear? ‘See ya, Wheat?’”

“He left the barn.”

“Kyle don’t say ‘See ya, Wheat’ when he’s leavin’ the barn. He’s fixin’ to leave the Hole.”

“Why?”

“’Cause he tried to keep ya awake and you’re too ungrateful to see he was just tryin’ to help. Now he thinks Heyes is gonna kill him.”

“You’re not makin’ any sense, Wheat. And Heyes isn’t gonna kill him.”

“Easy for you to say.”

Kid tried to stand up, and he wobbled.

Wheat grabbed his arm and steadied him.

Kid closed his eyes, “Maybe Heyes is right. Maybe I do have a concussion. This just isn’t makin’ any sense to me.”

Wheat snorted. “We’re talkin’ ’bout, Kyle. How much sense does it have to make.”

Kid’s head drooped as he blew out a breath. “Help me get to the bunkhouse before he leaves.”

“Did you say ‘help’…”

The blue eyes threw daggers at Wheat.

“I’ll just grab you by the arm. Should steady you enough to get to the bunkhouse.”

**

Back to the “present”
Campsite

“I don’t remember.” Kid lightly rubbed his head. “I guess Kyle didn’t leave.”

“No. Wheat got you to the bunkhouse as Kyle was saying his good-byes. You told him you were just tired and didn’t want him to leave the Hole, just the barn.”

“Heyes,” Kid sighed, “I threatened to shoot Kyle?”

Heyes chuckled, “Yep, several times, and Wheat, Preacher…Basically the whole gang.”

Kid shook his head, “Preacher?”

“Yep. Preacher. Wasn’t one of your best moments.”

The fair-haired man’s countenance crinkled in an “ouch” frown. “Suppose not, from the sound of it.”

Kneeling in front of the campfire, Heyes measured a handful of beans and dropped them into the pot. He started to tie a string around the top of the bag, then stopped, looking up from his task. “You know, Kid, we all have moments we wish we could take back. But you did the right thing, going to talk to Kyle like that. And in front of all the men, too.”

Blue eyes met brown. Kid sighed. Thoughtfully, “Well, I hope I do the right thing by people – if they deserve it, anyway.” A sheepish grin, “Just tell me I didn’t embarrass myself any more than that.”

Heyes’ eyes danced as an impish grin overtook his visage. “Kid, you didn’t know any better that day.”

“Guess not, or I’d remember more.”

Heyes nodded. “I suppose.”

Kid’s face crinkled again. “Heyes…”

“Huh?”

“Are you tellin’ me the whole story?”

Heyes chuckled. “I’m telling you what I remember, Kid. Don’t forget, I was asleep through a lot of it, and it’s mostly what the men told me.”

The blond man stopped unpacking his saddlebags and regarded his partner. “Yeah, you get to sleep, and I’m forced to stay awake. Somehow, that don’t seem the natural order of things.”

Heyes sported a lopsided smile. “Maybe not. But I get tired, too – sometimes, anyway.”

“Sometimes. Except you don’t sleep for long, and then you wake me up in the middle of the night.”

“Well, I need someone to talk to, and what are partners for?” Heyes winked.

Kid rolled his eyes. “More like – someone to listen to ya ramble on.”

Heyes’ face screwed up. “Kid, you’re hurting my feelings.” A beat. “Nah, more like need someone to talk to.”

Kid chuckled. “Have it your way, Heyes. Just tell me I didn’t do anything else dumb, after that business with Kyle.”

The dark-haired man slowly nodded, as if considering the matter, then spoke, “Okay.”

Kid’s brow furrowed. “Okay – what?”

Grabbing the coffee pot, Heyes turned his back on his partner, hiding a big grin. “Okay, you didn’t embarrass yourself any more after that business with Kyle.”

Kid stood. “Heyes, you don’t sound convincin’.”

The ex-outlaw leader turned to face his partner, “impish” written all over him. “Okay, Kid, you didn’t embarrass yourself as bad as with Kyle.” Reassuringly, “That was the worst of it.”

Kid’s shoulders slumped, his tone cautious. “Well, that’s good news, in a way, I suppose. But, what else did I do?”

Heyes rubbed his chin. “Let’s see…When you were really cranky, toward the end, you plowed into Hank like a blind bull causing trouble in a china shop.”

Kid groaned. “No...”

Heyes nodded slowly, feigning seriousness as he tried vainly to hold back a grin. “Uh, yeah. Witnessed that one myself.”

The blond man sighed and covered his mouth with his hand. “Then what?”

Heyes shrugged. “Cracked rib.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Kid frowned “ouch” again. “I…think…I…remember Hank with a bad rib…”

“Uh huh.”

“I’m afraid to ask if there’s anything else.”

Heyes shrugged again. “Let’s leave it at that.”

“There’s more?”

Heyes stammered, “Uhhh…Nah.”

“Heyes.”

“Well…”

“Don’t pussyfoot around, Heyes. Just tell me.”

The ex-outlaw leader sighed. “Uh, Lobo.”

“Lobo?”

“Yeah, well, Lobo thought getting you to concentrate on something would be good, so he got you to clean your gun, then his, and mine, some of the others.”

Expectantly, “Go on.”

Heyes sighed. He was not smiling. “You shot him.”

Kid’s eyes went wide. “But, after you just told me I was threatenin’ to shoot everybody…”

“You finally did. At the very end of the twenty-four hours…You finally did.”

Kid gulped, stunned. He composed himself. “I don’t remember Lobo ever bein’ – shot.”

“Well, you didn’t hit ‘him,’ exactly. Came close, though – tore his sleeve. You’re just too good, Kid, even when you’re dead tired with a concussion.”

Kid stood stock-still, contemplating the ground, apparently deep in thought.

Heyes grasped his shoulder. “Come on, let’s get the horses watered and fed while ours cooks.”

Kid nodded.

**

Twilight

The two sat, relaxed, with tin coffee mugs in hand, empty plates in front of them.

Kid spoke, quietly, “Heyes?”

“Um?”

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but what else happened?” Sheepishly, “I mean, what else did I do?”

Heyes shrugged. “That’s the worst of it.”

Kid, skeptically, “You sure?”

“Uh huh.”

“Twenty-four hours is a long time. What else was there?”

Heyes wrinkled his nose in concentration. “Gosh, Kid, that was a long time ago.” Thinking. “Umm…Oh yeah, I heard about Lom and the Preacher.”

“Tell me.”

**

Flashback
Middle of the night
Inside the leader’s cabin

Kid sat at the table with Lom Trevors. The blond outlaw leader nodded off and quickly jerked awake.

Lom regarded him. “Kid, Heyes said we had to keep you awake. Nodding off like that, it’s not gonna help.”

The blue-eyed outlaw sighed. Tiredly, “I know, Lom. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.”

“Well, just trying to do right by you and Heyes. Don’t know what to do. Mind if we just talk?”

Kid straightened up in his chair, cleared his throat, blinked. “Sure.”

“Um, okay.” Pause. “How you doing?”

“I’m tired, Lom.” A sigh. “How ’bout you?”

The dark-eyed outlaw nodded. “Okay, maybe a mite tired, too.” A pause. “Umm, well…”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

Kid looked off toward his partner’s room. “I guess Heyes is just thinkin’ of my well bein’.”

Lom glanced in the same direction. “Yeah, I suppose.”

“Yup…” Kid chuckled. “Guess neither of us has Heyes’ silver tongue.”

Lom smiled. “Nope, suppose not.”

Kid yawned.

“Sheesh, and I’m supposed to be keeping you awake. Sorry, Kid.”

The blue-eyed man shook his head to keep alert. “Don’t be sorry. I’m just dead tired.”

Lom’s brow furrowed. “I know. And being the middle of the night probably isn’t helping.”

Kid shook his head. “Nope.”

“Umm, we can try having a real conversation.”

Exhaustedly, “Okay. What’ll we talk about?”

Lom blew out a breath. “Hmm, that’s a good question.”

“What do ‘you’ want to talk about?”

“Outlawing?”

Kid chuckled. “Outlawin’? Okay, it’s a livin’. What about it?”

Lom bit his lip, looked away, before facing Kid again. “Well, I’m not sure it’s for me anymore.”

“Oh?” Kid’s eyes opened.

“I don’t know, Kid. Maybe it’s not right – well, not right for me, anyways. Maybe the right side of the law is where I wanna be, where I belong. I wasn’t sure it was for me when I first joined up, but a couple of years in this business…Well, it just changes a man’s perspective, maybe.”

Kid nodded. “Maybe.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t be talking to ya like this – I mean, you being one of the leaders and all.”

“No, go ahead, Lom.”

“You’re sure?”

“Sure.” Kid stifled a yawn.

“Well, I guess it’ll keep us busy for a while.”

“Um hmm.”

“Well, ya see, Kid. I had my wild days, like any fella does…”

“Sure.”

“I mean, I am a little older than some of the fellas here and all.”

“Umm.”

“And I had some experience on the right side of the law, just jobs here and there – nothing special.”

Kid nodded.

“Well, I guess I needed something bigger. Ya know, more exciting.”

The blond-haired man cupped his chin on his hand, elbow on the table. He blinked to keep his eyes open. “Umm.”

“Then, I guess, when I met up with Heyes that one time and saw the fun you fellas seemed to be having, it kinda hit home with me – if’n you know what I mean?”

“Uh huh.” Blue eyes blinked furiously, and Kid snapped back to attention after nodding off for a brief second.

“And I thought, that’s an exciting life, this outlawing, and the more I saw you fellas having fun, all the wine, women, and money – I thought, I have to give that a try. So, when Heyes asked me, I had to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a try.’ And it was exciting – hell, still is. But, it doesn’t always feel right. You know what I mean, Kid?”

The fair-haired outlaw nodded off and just as quickly snapped back. “Huh?”

Lom seemed oblivious to his surroundings. “You know what I mean?”

Sleepily, “Uh…Sure.” Kid nodded.

“I mean, we’re taking from banks and train companies, but isn’t it ordinary folks we’re really taking from?”

“Umm…”

“Kid?”

The blond man opened his eyes. “Yeah?”

“You know what I mean?”

“Uh, sure, Lom. Whatever ya say.”

“Sheesh, I’m not doing a real good job here – of keeping you awake, I mean.”

Kid straightened up. “Nah, you’re doin’ fine, Lom.” He scratched his head. “Just tireder than I thought.”

“Coffee?”

“Sure.”

Lom rose and walked to the stove, his back to Kid. “Ya see, I wasn’t raised that way – to steal, I mean. And I’m not saying you and Heyes were raised that way, either. It’s just that…Well…It’s hard to put it into words exactly.” He poured coffee into two mugs. “It’s…I don’t know how to put it…”

Just then, the door opened, and Preacher walked in. “I thought you were supposed to be keeping him awake, Lom.”

The dark-haired man glanced over his shoulder as he finished pouring. Acknowledging, “Preacher.” Back to the coffee. “Well, we’re just talking.”

“Talking? Looks like you talked the boy to sleep!”

“Huh?”

A soft snore.

Lom’s eyes went wide as he turned to see Kid leaning on the table, his head resting on his crossed arms, sound asleep. “Oh, geez. He was awake a minute ago. I just got up to get coffee.”

Preacher shook Curry lightly on the shoulder. “Kid. Wake up.”

The blond man grunted and shook him off.

“Come on, Kid. Sit up, and let’s get some coffee in ya.”

“Nooo.”

Lom brought the mugs to the table. “Sheesh, Kid, I thought you were more awake than that.” He looked at Preacher. “I guess I got too caught up in what I was talking about.”

Preacher chuckled, “S’okay, Lom. Why don’t ya go on back to the bunkhouse, and I’ll just start my turn a mite early.”

Lom looked horrified as he glanced at Heyes’ bedroom door. “No, I, I really should finish my turn.”

Preacher, reassuringly, “No, really, he’ll be in good hands. You’ve had a long day, and I just rested up some. Leave him to me.”

“You sure? What about Heyes?”

Preacher shrugged. “Heyes won’t care so long as Kid keeps awake. Doesn’t matter who’s the one doin’ it.”

Lom sighed. “Okay. Thanks.”

Preacher clapped him on the back as he started for the door. “Go enjoy the sleep of the righteous. Ya done all that ya could.” Looking at Kid, then back at Lom, he chuckled, “Feel good that you can.”

Eyebrows raised, Lom nodded. “Thanks. I owe you one.”

“Nah. That’s what friends are for.”

With one more glance at an again-snoring Kid, Lom undid the latch and closed the door softly behind him.

Preacher crossed to the stove and sniffed at the coffee pot. He emptied Lom’s cup and poured some fresh coffee before opening and closing several cupboards. With a cabinet door open, he paused and removed a bottle of whiskey. “The Good Book warns that strong drink is ragin’,” he muttered while adding it to his coffee. “Maybe that ragin’ can keep me awake.” He smiled. “Who am I to argue with the Word of the Lord?”

He started to pour whiskey into the mug in front of the snoozing Kid, but stopped before any escaped the bottle. “Might’n be wise to give this to the afflicted.” He screwed the cap back on the bottle and set it on the table.

“Kid. Kid, wake up. You’ve had more’n enough sleep already. If ya got a concussion, boy, we need to keep ya awake.”

No response.

A frustrated frown and a slurp of caffeinated whiskey was punctuated by a snore from a drooping, blond head.

He gently shook Curry’s shoulder. “Kid – ”

Further words were stopped by a Colt revolver pointed directly at Preacher’s face.

He froze. “Kid, settle down. It’s just me. Preacher. Ya drifted off ta sleep.”

The blond man blinked myopically and tilted his head as he peered at the black-clad outlaw. He lowered his weapon. “Where’s Lom?”

“Was my turn next, so I sent him off ta bed. He wasn’t havin’ good luck keepin’ ya awake.”

Kid’s eyes drifted closed and then popped back open. Preacher frowned and placed a hand under his elbow.

“Come on. Let’s go outside. The night air just might help ya.”

He tugged the reluctant Curry to his feet and helped him shuffle woozily out the cabin door. Kid straightened and blinked as a cool breeze lifted his curls and ruffled the rough curtains in the cabin. Stars sparkled in the crisp night sky.

“Ya want to walk around some?”

Kid grunted something unintelligible.

“Was that a yes or a no, or somethin’ a mite less polite?”

An icy glare was the only response.

Preacher chuckled. “Like I thought. Yer takin’ the name of the Lord in vain again. Gotta watch those commandments, Kid. Ya just broke number three.” He paused. “Tell ya what. Take a seat here on the porch, and I'll get your coffee. Then I'll tell ya a few stories.”

“Sure, Preacher,” Kid agreed with a small smile. “I doubt that stories can keep me awake, though.”

“The Word of the Lord works miracles.” Preacher ducked back into the cabin and emerged with two coffees and the bottle of whiskey.

He placed a steaming mug next to Kid and poured more whiskey into his own.

“I'll take a little of that,” said Curry, presenting his cup.

“Cain’t do it. Scripture says that it’s the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps. I cain’t inflict that on ya when you're hurt.”

Kid snorted and sipped the un-doctored coffee. “So what kinda story did ya have in mind?”

“Ya remember David?”

“Who?”

“From the Bible.”

“The boy who killed the giant?”

“Same fella, but not exactly the story I had in mind. That blessed boy grew up and became king of Israel. The Good Book calls him a ‘man after God’s own heart.’ But that didn’t stop him from breakin’ the Lord’s commandments...”

Kid’s eyes drifted shut to the sound of Preacher’s rhythmic voice. Just as his chin nodded toward his chest, the words became louder.

“...So since David’s palace was the tallest building in Jerusalem, he could see the ladies bathin’ in their fenced gardens when he walked on the roof after dark. One night, he caught sight of a rare beauty, just as she stepped out of her bath, streamin’ water and naked as the day she was born.”

Kid jerked upright and his eyes flew wide. “He was a peepin’ Tom!?”

Preacher chuckled. “I suppose that’d be a direct way of sayin’ it.”

“That ain’t right!”

“A whole lotta things ain’t right. But David’s transgressions against the Word o’ God were only beginnin’. He had his servants find the lady. Turns out she was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his officers who was away at war. He sent for her one night, and then – well one thing led to another, and before long, David was tryin’ to figure how to blame Bathsheba bein’ in the family way on her husband.”

“Whatcha talkin’ about?” The new voice came from the shadows. “Is some girl at Rosie’s wearin’ the bustle wrong?”

“Ain’t it kinda late, Lobo?” asked Kid, as the outlaw walked up to the porch.

“I’m just comin’ offa guard duty, Kid. Preacher keepin’ ya awake?”

“Yeah. He’s tellin’ dirty stories.”

Preacher struggled to look stern. “Now, Kid, that ain’t the way to speak about the Word of the Lord.”

Lobo sat down on the porch steps. “So yer tellin’ some Bible story about a lady in the puddin’ club? I gotta hear this.”

Kid scooted forward and leaned his elbows on his knees. “What happened next, Preacher?”

“Well, like I was sayin’, King David tried to find some way to blame the comin’ child on Bathsheba’s husband, but none of his schemes worked, on account of the husband’s honor and faithfulness to his duty. Finally, David decided he wasn’t givin’ up the lady or her baby, so he ordered his officers to have the husband killed on the battlefield.”

“What?! I thought you said he was called the ‘the man followin’ the heart-a-God,’ or somethin’? That ain’t no Godly behavior,” protested Kid.

“True. But David did repent and promised to do better, so God forgave him.”

Curry snorted. “Right. I’m sure if I turned myself in to the law and told ’em I was sorry and would stop robbin’ folks that they would forgive me, too. Can’t see it happenin’.”

“Cain’t say that I could either,” added Preacher. “But lucky for David, the Lord is more forgivin’ than Wyoming law.”

Kid settled back in his chair and propped his feet up on the railing. He plopped his hat on his head and tilted it over his eyes, leaning back.

“Hey, ya got any more of them stories?” asked Lobo.

“Well, I just might be able to tell one or two more.”

A single finger pushed back a brown hat, and blue eyes peered intently as Curry’s feet dropped from the railing.

Preacher watched Kid and smiled. He poured some more whiskey, and took a long sip before beginning.

“Have ya heard about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife? Joseph was beaten by his jealous brothers and ended up in Egypt.”

“Beat by his kin?” objected Lobo. “Why that don’t hardly seem right.”

The others sagely nodded.

“While down in Egypt land, Joseph worked for an important man named Potiphar. It didn’t take this Potiphar fella long to figure that Joseph was smart and loyal, so he put him in charge of his whole spread. Things were goin’ great for Joseph, until Potiphar’s wife took adulterous notice of ’im. That wife was a Jezebel.”

“What’s a Jazzy-bell?” asked a puzzled Lobo.

“That’s a lady who’s got a lot in common with the doves at Rosie’s or the saloon gals,” Kid answered.

Preacher smiled. “Like I was sayin’, she kept trying to get Joseph alone and askin’ him to break the seventh commandment – well –ya get the idea. But Joseph wasn’t havin’ any of it.”

A pause.

“So what happened?” Lobo prodded.

Preacher eyed Curry. “Do ya need to walk around awhile, Kid? Ya havin’ trouble stayin’ awake?”

Blue eyes narrowed. “Just tell us what happened.”

Preacher smiled. “Well, Potiphar’s wife kept cornerin’ Joseph, tryin’ to get to know him in the Biblical sense. But Joseph kept tellin’ her ‘No thank ya, ma’am. Your husband trusts me, and I ain’t doin’ anythin’ to abuse that.’ Accordin’ to the Good Book, one day she’d had enough of waitin’ and grabbed his clothes and pulled him right up against her. ‘Come lie with me,’ she said. Joseph broke away and ran outta that house. But the lady had a tight hold on his cloak, and it stayed with her. She was angry as a nest of hornets at bein’ refused, so she started screamin’ and accused Joseph of tryin’ to force himself on her. Poor Joseph ended up in prison for somethin’ he didn’t even get. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. All things worked out for the good of Joseph in the end. He met some fella in prison who got him a job advisin’ the King of Egypt.”

Lobo shook his head. “Makes a man wonder what’s the use in doin’ the right thing.”

Kid held up a hand and leaned forward, peering into the shadows. “Who’s out there?”

“Uh – it’s jes me, Kid. Didn’t want to bother ya, so I was listenin’ over here. Sorry about hittin’ ya in the head with the hay.” Kyle stepped into the circle of light near the porch.

“Come listen to Preacher’s stories, Kyle,” encouraged Lobo. “They're real – uh – ’lightenin’.”

“Ya keepin’ Kid awake, Preacher?”

“Yup, with the help of the Word of the Lord.”

“Me and Wheat already done our turn.” Kyle smiled proudly.

Kid lightly rubbed the bump on his head and then his shoulder. “Come on up on the porch, Kyle.”

“Ya gonna shoot me?”

“He pulled a gun on you too?” asked Preacher.

Kyle laughed. “Ah-ha, it don’t matter, he’s concussed. ’Sides, he didn’t draw, jes said he would.” He grinned, hitched up his pants, and spat, before joining the others. “So what stories ya got?”

Preacher looked at the congregation of grimy and expectant faces, and took another slug of whiskey. “Have ya ever heard about Tamar and Judah?” No one answered. “Well, back then it was real important that a woman have children. It was her husband’s responsibility to make sure she had young ’uns.”

“Hoo ee,” whistled Kyle. “Wouldn’t mind havin’ me a responsibility like that.”

“Ya had to provide for them once they arrived, Kyle,” warned Kid

“But still,” added Lobo.

Preacher shook his head. “Anyway, Tamar married Judah’s eldest son, a man named Er. But Er died before gettin’ Tamar in the family way. Accordin’ to custom, Tamar was supposed to marry Judah’s next son, so that she could have children…”

“What kinda custom is that?” asked Kyle. “Gotta marry your brother’s wife?”

“An old Bible-times custom,” groused Kid. “Stop interruptin’.”

“So Tamar married the second eldest son, but he died too. So Judah figured that Tamar was bad luck, and sent her away. He promised to bring her back later to marry his third son, but he didn’t do it. Well, Tamar decided not to wait around until she was dried up and too old to have a baby. She came up with a plan.”

Preacher paused and studied Curry, who glared back at him from bloodshot eyes.

“I ain’t sleepin’. So what’s Tamar’s plan?”

“She dressed up in clothes that would’ve done a fancy woman proud. Then she covered herself with a veil and waited for Judah. She had heard that he was comin’ back from a long journey, and when he passed by, she asked if he might enjoy a little company. Judah perked right up – if ya know what I mean – and spent some time with the lady, never realizin’ that it was his own daughter-in-law.”

“HIS DAUGHTER-IN-LAW!!” howled Wheat in disbelief. “What in tarnation are ya talkin’ about?”

“Just tellin’ stories to pass the time while keepin’ Kid awake,” answered Preacher.

“That ain’t gonna work. Ya can’t keep him awake by tellin’ stories. Ya need to walk him around and keep him doin’ things.”

“I don’t know, Wheat,” soothed Lobo. “It seems to be workin’.”

“Kid’s awake, Wheat. Ain’t ya, Kid?” chimed in Kyle.

“Pfft!” commented Wheat. “I suppose ya could hit him in the head, like Kyle did. That surely lit a fire and perked Kid right up.”

Kyle’s shoulders drooped. “Aw, Wheat, ya promised not to say nothin’. It were an accident. Kid ain’t mad no more. Said I could listen to the stories.”

“Let it go, Wheat,” Curry ordered. To Preacher, “Finish the story. I want to know what happened to Tamar.”

After a fortifying slug of coffee, Preacher cleared his throat. “Like I was sayin’, Tamar and Judah were gettin’ ta know one another. But afterwards, it was time for Judah to pay up. That’s when he realized he was short on funds.”

“Ain’t that always the way of it,” concluded Lobo.

“Now, Judah was from a rich family, and he had a ring called a seal. It was used for important documents. Tamar told him to leave his seal, along with the chain it was on, and she’d hold onto it, until he could send someone with her money.”

Wheat snorted. “This Judah fella ain’t none too bright, is he? Now she can blackmail him.”

Preacher shrugged. “All true. But he doesn’t know it’s his daughter-in-law, and what’s a fella without funds to do?”

“Do what the Devil’s Hole Gang does,” suggested Wheat, and they all laughed.

The closing slap of a wooden door echoed through the night. A tall man left the bunkhouse and walked to the leader’s cabin, still shoving the tails of his shirt into his pants.

“Why ya awake, Hank?” demanded Wheat.

“All yer laughin’ and talkin’ kept wakin’ me up. Thought I’d see what the party was about.”

Preacher handed the newcomer the whiskey bottle. After taking a healthy swig, Hank passed it on to Lobo. The bottle made the rounds.

“So what are ya all doin’?” asked Hank.

Kyle spat and smiled. “Preacher’s keepin’ Kid awake, and we’re helpin’.”

“Ptch,” added Wheat. “Still think it’s better to keep him walkin’ around.”

Curry narrowed his bloodshot eyes, pinning Wheat with an icy glare. “Ya takin’ over and lettin’ the rest of the boys get some sleep?”

Wheat hitched up his pants and rolled his shoulders. “Didn’t mean no offense to the Preacher, Kid.”

After a few seconds, Kid lowered his gaze and sat back in his chair. He regarded Preacher. “What happened to Tamar and Judah?”

“Word got around in Bible days just like it does now. It weren’t more’n three months later that Judah heard that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, had been sellin’ her wares and was now in a delicate condition. Judah ranted about her committin’ adultery and bein’ faithless to his sons, but secretly he was happy. Now he could keep her from marryin’ his last son. He ordered that she be brought on over to him. He was plannin’ to have her burned to death, that bein’ the penalty for what she’d done.”

Hank’s mouth was hanging and his eyes were open wide. “Burned to death!! What kinda heathen savages are ya tellin’ stories about, Preacher?”

Lobo waved a hand at Hank and placed two fingers in front of his lips. “Shh, Hank. Ya cain’t be dis-re-spect-a-bull. Preacher’s tellin’ us Bible stories.”

“Well, I never.”

“Finish it, Preacher,” Kyle encouraged.

“Tamar had planned well. And bein’ burned to death, weren’t part of her plan. Before they brought her out to die, she sent a message to her father-in-law. In the message she placed the chain that Judah had given her, but she kept the seal. The note she sent him read, ‘By the man who owns this, am I with child. Discern, I pray thee, whose this is.’”

“What in blazes is she goin’ on about?” spluttered Wheat.

“That ole Judah’s landed in a heap a’ trouble.”

“Lobo’s right,” Preacher continued. “So Judah went to see Tamar, on the sly, and promised that she would be cared for and have a home, in exchange for his seal and her silence. He kept his word this time, and Tamar gave birth to fine twin boys.”

Hank shook his head. “Are ya sure that story is from the Bible? My ma never read me anything like that.”

“Genesis, chapter 38.” Preacher took the whiskey bottle from Lobo. “It’s not really a surprise that your Ma didn’t read it to ya, Hank. Not many folks are familiar with it.”

Devil’s Hole was quiet, and the first faint stains of dawn glowed on the tips of the peaks surrounding the small valley. The outlaws shuffled and squirmed, looking for a more comfortable perch on the chilly porch. Kid’s eyes slowly began to close.

“Kid’s driftin’ off! Tell another one, Preacher!

“Well, let me think.” Preacher took a last slug of whiskey and set the empty bottle beside him. “How about the story of how Lot’s daughters got their father blind drunk, so that they could spend the night with him and get themselves in the family way?”

The front door of the cabin opened. A barefoot Hannibal Heyes, wearing a Henley top and a pair of tan pants, walked onto the porch and yawned. “What are you all doing? It’s hardly sunrise.”

Kyle showed a wad of chaw as he grinned. “Preacher’s leadin’ us in a Bible study.”

**

Campsite -- “Present”
Night

Heyes and Kid lay in their bedrolls, next to each other, near the fire. Constellations bright in the dark night, both partners stared at the sky, then yawned.

Kid looked in his partner’s direction. “Gee, Heyes, nobody told us Bible stories like that when we were kids.”

“Nope, sure didn’t. Glad I woke up in time to hear a few of them. Preacher sure does have a way with the Good Book.” Heyes yawned and turned on his side.

The fair-haired man smiled. “Ya know, that whole story’s somethin’. Just wish I could remember it myself. Thanks for telling me, Heyes.”

Using his jacket for a pillow, the dark-haired man burrowed his face deep into it, muffling his voice. “Sure, Kid. It brings back memories. I was real worried about ya, and just glad you were okay.” Yawn. “Don’t ever wanna have to worry like that again.” Pause. “Lots of changes to the gang after that.”

“Yup. We threw Harry out, and then Lom left.”

“Uh huh.” Heyes yawned.

Kid also yawned, mightily. Then, “Seems the only ones around most of the time were Wheat, Kyle, Lobo, and Hank, I suppose. Preacher comin’ and goin’.”

“Hmm.” Another yawn. “’Night, Kid.”

“’Night, Heyes…” Yawning and shaking his head. “Can’t wait to get to sleep.” Another yawn. “Two days and a night, barely stoppin’, ’til now. And you’ve been right there, too.” Yawn. Tiredly, “The whole way...Right, Heyes?”

No answer.

“Heyes?”

Snore…


The end.


(Writers love feedback! You can let Storm Richards, Skykomish and Remuda know how you enjoyed the story with a quick comment. Just Post Reply - bottom right corner - to the Comments for Keeping Up Curry thread below the story.)

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

 Similar topics

-
» Scourge Of The Storm
» Storm of Magic - The magic of Monte Castello
» Arizona Storm Damage at Barrett Jackson
» H: Storm of Magic Spell Cards...W: What do you have?
» 24 Hours of Dubai
Share this post on: Excite BookmarksDiggRedditDel.icio.usGoogleLiveSlashdotNetscapeTechnoratiStumbleUponNewsvineFurlYahooSmarking

Keeping Up Curry: 24 Forgettable Hours by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn :: Comments

No Comment.
 

Keeping Up Curry: 24 Forgettable Hours by Storm Richards, Skykomish, and Victoria Quynn

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 

Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You can reply to topics in this forum
Stories: Alias Smith and Jones  :: Virtual Season :: Virtual Season 2011/2012-
Reply to topicJump to: