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 Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw

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Join date : 2013-10-13

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PostShips of the Desert by Inside Outlaw




Heyes and Curry are robbed and left in the desert, again?  Well, they're not going to walk out of it this time!


Starring

Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry


Co-Starring


Jack Elam as Shep


Larry Storch as Morgan




Ships of the Desert
by Inside Outlaw


“How much’ve you got, Heyes?”

“Don’t know.  Maybe three or four hundred; how about you?” chuckled Hannibal Heyes.  He grinned at his partner, who smugly smiled back.

“I got two hundred forty dollars and sixty-seven cents.”  Kid Curry patted his shirt pocket, laughing out loud.  “Who would’ve thought those Texas cattle barons would be such awful poker players?”

“You forgot rich; those rich Texas cattle barons.”  Heyes’ horse picked its way down the rocky slope, carefully stepping around the loose rock while staying on the narrow trail.  A broad expanse of desert opened below them as far as the eye could see.  Each of the two ex-outlaws carried several full canteens of water, a generous supply of food, and shade tarps.

“Don’t forget grumpy, they were very grumpy cattle barons.”

“Only after we cleaned them out of their pocket money.”

“Well, I know what I want to do with all this hard-earned cash.”  The Kid picked up a jog as his horse hit the valley floor.  The footing was sandy and firm, allowing his dark bay gelding to move out.

“What’s that?”  Heyes loped to catch up to his partner, settling his dun gelding next to the Kid’s bay.

“First I’m gonna buy me the biggest, juiciest steak in El Paso; then I’m gonna go find the prettiest filly that town has to offer; last of all, I’m gonna wire my dear old Uncle Mac and tell him, with as few words as possible since it’ll be a telegram, mind you, what he can do with his job.”

“I like the way you think, Kid.”  Heyes and the Kid both picked up a lope and the sound of their laughter drifted behind them.

OOOOOOOOOO



By the third day, all laughter had died away and the two men began stopping for longer and longer periods wherever they could set up their tarps to provide meager shade, often at the base of a canyon or beneath one of the large rock piles that littered the landscape.  The horses no longer traveled along eagerly, but plodded tiredly, their sweat-dried necks lowered and their ears flopping dispiritedly, the relentless heat bearing down on them.

“When do we have to be in El Paso?” asked the Kid.

“Five days.  Mac told Lom that he’s going wire us further instructions.”

“Do we have to take this job?  We’ve got plenty of money for a while and that cattle drive nearly did me in.”

“Me, too, but we still have to take Mac’s job to prove to the governor that we’re honest, law-abiding citizens.  If we start living off our poker winnings, how long do you think it’ll be before the governor and the law starts thinking we’re stealing again?”

Curry groaned, “I sure hope this job don’t have anything to do with that bust of Caesar.”

Heyes laughed.

As the temperatures continued to climb, the talking wound down until the two men rode side by side in silence.  Several hours later, Heyes’ gelding lifted his head suddenly and pricked his ears.  He tried to veer off the trails towards a stand of cottonwoods nestled against a cliff face and he nickered excitedly.  The Kid’s big bay pulled hard at his reins, trying to follow the other animal.  Heyes reined his horse up and swung him back to the trail, but the gelding resisted and tossed his head angrily.  “Hey, what’s the matter with you?”

“He probably smells water.  Those old cottonwoods must be growin’ in a seep.  Maybe we ought to fill our empty canteens just to be safe.”

“I guess it couldn’t hurt,” said Heyes, loosening his reins and allowing the horse to swing back towards the trees and the cliff that stood a few hundred yards to the left of the trail.  Both horses were getting anxious, whinnying repeatedly.  The sound echoed off the rocks, becoming a riotous cacophony of horse calls.

Heyes rode into the trees followed by Kid Curry.  There was a small, marshy depression in the center and it showed signs of being a popular watering spot for the folks who rode the trail.  Muddy, as well as dried, footprints and hoof prints surrounded the perimeter of the seep and the vegetation had been recently trampled.  Curry dismounted first, leading his bay to the water, while Heyes hung back and waited patiently astride his pawing horse.

A loud gunshot cracked the silence and Heyes’ black hat flew off his head a split second before he flung himself to the ground, rolling over and drawing his gun.  He came up to one knee and glanced at the Kid, who’d found cover behind a couple of sagebrush bushes and who was now blazing away in the direction the shot had come from, providing his partner with cover.  Heyes zigzagged his way to the bushes and Curry.  Their spooked horses had bolted away when the gunfire had erupted.


“How many do you reckon?” asked Heyes, falling to the ground next to the Kid and peering through the bushes.  

“At least ten, and they’re all usin’ the same gun,” said Curry sarcastically.  “Did you hear more than one shot?”

“Did you get him?”

“How would I know?  He ain’t shootin’ now.”

“It came from over there by those rocks.  Cover me while I circle around and see if I can get the drop on him.”  Heyes started to move away but the Kid grabbed his arm, causing him to turn back.  Concerned blue eyes drilled into Heyes’ brown ones.

“Make sure they don’t see you.  Last thing I need is you whinin’ you’ve been shot.”

Heyes grinned and nodded.  “Same goes for you, partner.”

A barrage of gunshots exploded from Kid Curry’s Colt .45 as Heyes ran crazily towards the largest cottonwood.  Putting the big tree between him and the shooter, Heyes looked back at the Kid and raised his hand, signaling his partner to wait.  He dashed behind a good-sized boulder resting about fifty yards away from the cliff face.  Heyes glanced at the cliff, saw no one, and began to slowly make his way to the other side of the rock.  The shooter was still returning the Kid’s fire.  Heyes could tell he was getting close to the attacker.  A few more trees and shrubs were growing in the shadows cast by the boulder and he used them to advance.  He flanked the shooter, slowly stood up, gun in hand, and drew down on the prone man in front of him.  As he opened his mouth to call out a warning, a gun muzzle jammed into his back and Heyes groaned.  

“Put your hands up, mister, and drop your gun,” said a gravelly voice.  Heyes turned slightly, looking over his shoulder.  A scruffy man with greasy brown hair smiled at him and he tried hard to smile back at the toothless face while he let go of his gun and raised his hands.

“I don’t know who you think we are, mister…”

“I don’t care who you are and if’n I hear one more word outta you I’m gonna shoot you dead.”

Heyes shifted his attention to the smaller, wiry man who’d been firing the gun and who was now standing in front of him, pulling a dirty bandana from around his neck.  He stood silently as the filthy rag was shoved in his mouth and tightly tied behind his head.  He shook his head at the sour taste of it while his hands were roughly lowered and snugly bound behind him.

“C’mon,” said the scruffy man, dragging Heyes forward by his elbow.  “Morgan, keep us covered.”

“Will do, Shep,” said the smaller man crouching behind the same boulder Heyes had used to conceal himself.

“Hey!  Hey, you out there!  Stop shootin’!  We’ve got your friend!” yelled Shep.

The Kid grumbled under his breath but he lowered his weapon, yelling, “What do you want?”

“Well, boy, right now, I want you to put down your guns and stand up.  Else I’ll be splatterin’ your buddy’s brains all over him.”

Curry slowly lowered his gun.

“Now don’t try no funny stuff, boy.  If you shoot me, my partner’s gonna drop your friend before I hit the ground,” said Shep with a chuckle.

Heyes shook his head vigorously, but the Kid threw his gun away and raised his hands, rising to his feet awkwardly.

Shep pulled Heyes forward and he began to struggle in earnest.  “Same goes for you, mister.  Stop fightin’ me or your friend’s a dead man.”  Heyes went still.  Shep’s pistol drifted over to cover the Kid and he raised his voice, “Morgan, get out here and tie this fella up.”

Morgan emerged from his hiding place, shoving his gun into its holster, and pulling out another piece of rope from his pocket.  He spun the Kid around and tied his hands tightly behind him.  “Done, Shep.”

“All right, boy, set down,” said Shep, gesturing to Curry.

The Kid did as he was told, keeping his eyes on Heyes.  “What do you want?  We’re law-abidin’ citizens.”

“Well ain’t that just too bad for you?  We ain’t,” laughed Morgan.  “That there is Shep McDonald and he’s pretty famous ‘round these parts.”

“Famous for what?” growled the Kid.

“Famous for robbin’ folks, you darn fool.”

Curry stared icily at Morgan, who backed away from his captive, dropping his hand to his gun.

“Check his pockets, Morgan.  I’ll handle this one,” said Shep.  Heyes glared angrily at the man, who smiled back at him and began pawing through his pockets, finding nothing.  Shep shoved Heyes hard and sent him reeling off balance until he fell backwards into the dirt.  He seized Heyes’ right boot and pulled it off, looked inside, and tossed it to the side.  Yanking the second one off, the thief crowed loudly, and pulled out a wad of large bills.  He put them in his own pocket and reached down, pulling off Heyes’ gun belt and tucking it under his arm.  Heyes sat up, growling angrily, a mutinous glare on his face.

“Best you watch your temper, boy.”  Shep turned and walked towards the Kid.  “Your turn.”  Morgan stepped back and covered Heyes as his partner emptied the Kid’s pockets, pulling a smaller wad of bills from the left breast pocket.  “That all you got, boy?”  He pulled each of the Kid’s boots off and shook them upside down, then yanked off the Kid’s gun belt, shoving it next to Heyes’ gear under his arm.  “Tie ‘em to a tree, but not together.  I don’t want them workin’ those knots loose too fast.”  

“Sure thing, Shep,” said Morgan, reaching down and pulling the Kid to his feet.  “This here’s your lucky day, mister.  You ain’t gettin’ robbed by no ordinary outlaw.”

“Lucky?  How’d you figure that?” said the Kid.

“Don’t you know nothin’?  You ain’t from around here, are you?”

“No.  I ain’t,” ground out Curry.

“If’n you was, you’d know that Shep McDonald is a real gentleman bandito.  He’s never shot no one while thievin’.”

The Kid and Heyes looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

OOOOOOOOOO



Shep tossed four canteens into the hot dust at the Kid’s feet.  “Just so no one can say, we killed you.”  He laughed menacingly, walked back to his horse, grabbed the reins to Heyes’ claybank dun, and mounted up.  “Hasta la vista, boys.”  He rode up next to Morgan, who was leading the Kid’s big bay horse.  The two outlaws laughed as they left the two ex-outlaws struggling with their bindings.  A thick, heavy length of rope bound each of the captive men tightly to the trees behind their backs.

It took several hours and several layers of skin, but, finally, Kid Curry managed to free his hands.  He soon loosened the rope tying him to the tree as well as the one around his ankles.  He stood up slowly and rubbed his hands.  A grunting to his left caught his attention and he looked at Heyes.  On wobbly legs, he walked over and bent down, freeing his partner’s hands.  While Heyes rubbed the circulation back into them, the Kid untied the ropes around Heyes’ chest and his feet, and removed the grimy bandana, tossing it away.  “You all right?”

“Oh, I’m fine.  I only swallowed a few mouthfuls of that guy’s old sweat and had my hands nearly sawed off, but I’m just dandy!” snapped Heyes.  “Where are you going?” he demanded as his partner walked into the bushes.

“That bandana’s got to be here somewhere,” said the Kid, threatening to re-gag his verbose partner.

“Very funny,” Heyes pushed himself off the ground and stretched, holding his back.  “I can’t believe you talked me into this.”

“Into what?!”

“I would’ve ridden on by, but no, you had to fill the canteens.”

“You agreed with me.  How would I know it was gonna be an ambush?”  The Kid stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at his partner.

“Didn’t I ask you how many shooters there were?  Didn’t you say…”

“Heyes,” said the Kid with mock hostility, holding up the filthy cloth he’d located.

Heyes narrowed his eyes.  “You wouldn’t.”

“I will if you don’t shut up and start thinkin’ about how to get us out of this mess.”

Heyes ran his hand through his hair, sighed heavily, and slumped, “Ain’t no way outta this one, Kid.  We start walking and hope for the best.”

“Ain’t much of a plan.”

“No, it ain’t.  Pick up those ropes, will ya?  We might need them later.”

The Kid retrieved the four pieces of rope that had been used to tie their hands and feet. He walked back to Heyes.  “What do you call it when something happens that you’re real sure has happened before?”

“Déjà vu.”

“Yep, that’s it.  What’re the odds we’d be stranded out in the desert again, Heyes?”

“Right now, I’d say pretty good.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“I have to stop,” rasped Heyes, leaning up against a rock and gasping for breath.  He pulled off his dusty black hat and ran a hand through his straggly, sweat-soaked hair.  He sank to the ground by his partner’s feet and flopped back into the hot sand.  “We’re gonna die,” he moaned.  

Curry reached down and grabbed Heyes’ hand, urging him up.  “No, we’re not.”

“I was afraid you’d say that,” groaned Heyes, getting to his feet.

OOOOOOOOOO



Night fell and the two partners huddled tightly together out in the open desert.  The temperature was dropping quickly now that the sun had gone down and it was turning cold.  There was no way to stay warm except to share each other’s body heat as they lay on the warm sand and wrapped their arms around each other.

“If you ever open your big mouth to tell anybody about this, I’m gonna kill you, Heyes,” growled the Kid.

“Likewise, partner, likewise.  Now shut up and get some sleep.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“Give me some,” panted Heyes, reaching out to grab the canteen from his partner.  He pulled it to his mouth and tipped it up, but no water came out.  Growling angrily, he threw it away.  The Kid held out the last full canteen and Heyes took it.  He gulped a small amount of water and closed it tightly.  “Who would’ve thought we’d survive Danny Bilson only to die in a desert after all?  You know, sometimes I think there’s someone up there getting a real big kick out of making our lives miserable.”

OOOOOOOOOO



It was late afternoon on the next day when the two ex-outlaws found a small shadow cast by a large rock out in the middle of nowhere.  “Where do you think this rock came from?” asked Curry, leaning back, trying to keep his face and as much of his body as he could, out of the sun.  “My feet hurt.”  The Kid pulled off a boot and rubbed one of his sore feet.

“Mine, too.  How would I know where it came from?”

“Odd, ain’t it, way out here all by itself?”

“Maybe the last guys who came this way hauled it out here so they could have some shade to die in comfort.”

“No need to get testy.”

“Sorry, Kid, dying does that to me.”

“How would you know?”

“Know what?”

“That dyin’ does that to you; you ain’t died before, have you?”

The dark-haired man looked at his partner in disbelief. “Is the sun addling your brain?”

“Maybe so.  Let’s get goin’.”

“I think we ought to rest here until dark.  We can’t keep traveling during the day, not without water.”  Heyes leaned forward and retrieved the empty canteen he’d tossed away, dragging it out of the sun to the shade next to his leg.  “Moon’s going to be full enough we ought to be able to follow the trail after dark.”

“I don’t know, Heyes, it might not be that easy.”

“You got a better idea, let’s hear it.”

“I think maybe we ought to leave the trail and cut over towards those mountains.  I’ve been watchin’ the clouds hoverin’ over them all day, could be they’re gettin’ a few showers.  Point is, there’s more likely to be water there and that’s our most immediate problem.”  Curry pointed to the dark shapes rising from the valley floor to the east.

“It seems to me we stand a better chance staying on the trail.  Someone might be coming this way.”

“We ain’t seen any one, besides those bandits, this whole ride.  What’s it been, five days?  We have to find water and food.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.  We’ll try it your way,” Heyes capitulated.

“Good.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“See, Heyes, I told you there’d be water,” grinned Curry, lying on his stomach next to his partner and burying his face in the small pool they’d found in a nearly dried-out gully.  Small shrubs and bushes surrounded them, providing a dappled shade against the rising sun.  The Kid sat up, wiping his face with his shirtsleeve. “In a few hours, we’re gonna need more shade and those mountains are further than we thought.  Now that we have water, I’m re-thinkin’ my plan.”

Heyes finished drinking and rolled over onto his back, flopping one arm across his chest and gazing at the lightening sky.  “From now on, Kid, I’m hanging on every word you say.”

“Good, ‘cause I’m thinkin’ we should cut back towards the road.  That way,” he pointed to the west, “we ought to be able to pick up the trail again.”

Heyes swiveled his head towards the mountains and the promise of water they held, then back in the direction his partner was pointing.  “I don’t think so!  I think…”

“You said you were gonna listen to me.  I’m talkin’ now,” said the Kid with a dangerous edge.

Heyes glared at him and shrugged, “What’s it matter?  Fine, you win, but next time I get to make the decision.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“Kid, I see something!”  Heyes stopped and grabbed Curry’s arm.  The Kid was hobbling along, but he was nearly asleep on his feet as he continued putting one foot in front of the other, dragging Heyes along with him.  It was mid-morning, they hadn’t slept all night, and they sorely needed shade.

Heyes yanked harder.  “For pete’s sake, hold up.  I think there’s a herd of wild horses over there.”  He pulled Curry around and, using his hand, turned his partner’s face in the direction he wanted him to look.  “See ‘em?  Must be a dozen or so.”

The Kid squinted and blinked for several moments, before answering.  “Don’t look like horses to me.  Could be cows or maybe one of those mirage things.”

“No, it ain’t a mirage; it’s real.  C’mon.”  Heyes released the Kid’s arm and started limping towards the blurry shapes he’d seen in the distance.  Curry watched him go for several minutes before grumbling softly, under his breath.  He followed in his partner’s path.

OOOOOOOOOO



“Geez, what are those things?  If those are horses, they’re the ugliest ones I’ve ever seen.”  The Kid wiped a hand across his eyes and looked again.  “They’re all humpty-backed.”

Heyes was laughing.  “They ain’t horses.  They’re camels!”

“Camels?  Like in Arabia?”

“Yeah, just like in Arabia.  Kid, I read about this.  The Army brought in a whole mess of camels from overseas back in the fifties.  The plan was to use them as pack animals.  It worked out real well at first when it was only the camels in a pack string so the army decided to start up a camel corps to try using them for combat.  They found out pretty quickly that the horses and mules were afraid of camels, so it kind of fell apart when the war started.  Some of the camels got sold to private buyers and a bunch of animals got loose in the desert.  The article I read said they’d been breeding ever since.  Folks have reported seeing them here and there every once in a while.”

“So?”

Heyes looked at Curry in exasperation, “What do you mean--so?  So, we’re going to catch us a couple of camels.”

“What?!  I don’t know nothin’ about camels, do you?”

“No, but I don’t see us having many options here.  Look, we’ve gotta try, it’s our only shot.”

“If we catch one, what are we gonna do with it?  Are they good eatin’?” asked the Kid, eagerly.

“We’re going to ride ‘em.  There’s a reason they’re called ‘the ships of the desert.’  Camels can go further and last longer without water than a horse or a mule.”  Heyes began un-wrapping his rope from where he had tied it around his waist.  He shook out the length and knotted it like a lariat, forming a loop.  “How’s your roping, Kid?” he grinned.

“I don’t know, Heyes, those things look mean.”

“We’re not asking them to dance, are we?”  Heyes walked quietly towards the small herd of camels.  Several smaller animals were lying down with their forelegs folded underneath their chests and their eyes closed.  Others milled around, nibbling at the sagebrush and rubbing their heads against their legs, trying to rid their eyes of flies.  There were several babies by their mothers’ sides.  One of the larger animals, a male, calmly watched Heyes’ approach.  He showed no fear of the human and almost seemed eager to see a man coming.  As Heyes drew nearer, the camel walked several steps towards him as though in greeting.  Heyes chuckled and spoke softly and encouragingly to the huge beast.  “That’s a good boy, easy now, boy.  I’m not going to hurt you.  Easy, easy now.”

Heyes closed the distance and his eyebrows rose in surprise as the big animal stood quietly when he stepped up next to it.  He slowly reached out a hand, putting it on the beast’s shoulder, and the camel lowered its head.  The dark-haired ex-outlaw slipped the rope around its neck and grinned from ear to ear.  He turned triumphantly to Curry.  “See, it’s not so hard.  Pick one out for yourself.”

Curry looked skeptical, but he held his rope out in his right hand and opened the loop he had put in it.  With painstaking slowness, he crept up to the next biggest animal, a female camel placidly munching on twigs, her baby dozing in the sand.  She turned her head once, glanced at him, and turned away again, having dismissed him as no threat.  Emboldened by her lack of fear, the Kid crept closer, coming in at an angle to her shoulder so she could see him but he wouldn’t spook her.  She continued to eat as he slipped the rope around her neck.  As the loop tightened, she raised her head and turned to him.  He grinned, reaching out to pet her.  “That’s a good gir…!”  The camel took off at a run, pulling the Kid off his feet and dragging him through the blazing hot sand, over a sagebrush bush and across several beds of cactus.  “Ow….sheesh….ow!  Stop….please stop!”

Heyes and his camel watched as the female ran past with the Kid trailing behind.  “Let go, Kid, let go!”

“No…oww!  I ain’t…lettin’ go.”  The camel slowed to a jog, tiring of the game, but continued to pull Curry forward.  He managed to get to his knees and leaned back with all his might.  “Stop!”  She kept going.  “Whoa!”  The camel stopped suddenly, regarding the Kid who was standing up shakily.  “Good girl, that’s my girl.”  She blew out a breath and put her head down.  Curry pulled himself along the length of the rope to her head.  “Heyes, I think she knows ‘whoa’.”

“Seems like it.”  Heyes ran his hand along the neck of the male and pulled slightly on the rope.  The big creature started to walk with him and Heyes led his captive to the Kid.  The female made a sound, “nuzzzzz”, as the male approached; and her baby ran up to her, hiding by her back legs.  “I think these camels might already be broken.  At least these two might be.  They’re the biggest ones in the pack; stands to reason they might be the oldest. I read these things can live forty, fifty years. These could be the Army’s camels.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”

“Yeah, a real hoot,” said the Kid, picking cactus needles out of his chest.  “Ow, geez, that hurts!”  He looked up and found liquid brown eyes with lush long lashes staring into his blue eyes.  “Aw, I think she’s sorry.  Are you sorry, girl?”  He scratched her under her chin, but she tried to bite him, and he quickly snatched his hand back.  “You nasty cow!”

“That’s no way to win her over, Kid.  You forget how to sweet talk a gal?” chuckled Heyes.  His camel was standing quietly by his side as though they were familiar friends.  “C’mon, Mo, let’s get going.”

“Mo?”

“Short for Mojave; like the desert.  We’ll get ‘em used to us for a while; kinda feel them out.”  Heyes walked away towards the trail, limping badly and leading his docile beast.  Several of the younger camels rose as he passed and followed along behind him.

The Kid tugged on the rope he held and the female allowed herself to be led along, her baby by her side, the remaining camels drifting along with them.  “That’s better.  Hmm, think I’m gonna call you Jezebel; ‘cause I’ve got a feelin’ you’re gonna turn on me the minute I’m not lookin’.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“There, that ought to hold you,” said Heyes as he knotted Mo’s lead rope around a tall desert willow.  The camel promptly began stripping off the lower leaves and small branches.  The Kid tied Jezebel to the other side of the same tree and she began to eat as well.  Her baby stood behind her and bleated as the other camels wandered in and began nibbling twigs.  Several dropped to their knees with loud groans and harrumphs, folding their legs under them.  “Check it out, Kid, shade.”  Heyes pointed to the dark shadow cast by his camel.  “If nothing else, they make great umbrellas.”

“Humpf,” was the camel-like response from Curry.

“Let’s rest here a while.  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting kind of light-headed from my empty belly.”

“You’re light in the head, all right, thinkin’ up a scheme like this.”

“Hey, cut it out.  What do you have to be grumpy about?”  Heyes sat down in the shade cast by Mo and squinted up at his frowning partner.

“Gee, Heyes, I don’t know.  Maybe bein’ stranded in the desert without water.  Maybe not havin’ my gun or my horse or all the food we packed.  Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s the company I’m keepin’.”

“Okay, Kid, if that’s the way you want…”  Heyes stopped talking mid-sentence and stared at Jezebel.

Curry looked over his shoulder.  “What?”

“She’s nursing.”  The baby had snuggled up next to Jezebel and had his mouth greedily latched to one of her teats.  She stood calmly, her eyes half-closed, a dreamy expression on her face.

“Mothers do that, Heyes.”  The Kid flopped down and pulled his hat over his eyes.

“Get up slowly, and give me your hat.”

“Why?”

“I’m going to try to get some of her milk to drink.”  Heyes stood up and dusted the sand off his pants.

“Why my hat?”

“Because mine has a bullet hole in it; now shut up and hand it over.”  Heyes held out his hand and the Kid sighed, pulling off his brown hat and handing it to his partner.

The baby finished suckling as the two ex-outlaws looked on.  Its meal completed, it wandered off to frolic with the other babies.  Jezebel appeared to be dozing, standing still with her head nearly touching the ground.  Heyes slowly crept up to her, keeping well clear of her enormous back legs.  Cooing softly and running his hand under her belly, he touched her teat.  Her foreleg swung out and caught him in the middle of his back, sending him face first into the sand, the hat wind-milling away.  He sputtered out sand and sat up.  Curry was laughing heartily, grabbing his stomach and doubling over, but Jezebel was unfazed and kept eating.  Heyes stood up and picked up the hat again.  This time he approached from a different angle, clear of the forelegs and facing the hind legs.  He talked soothingly as he ran his hands back and forth across her massive side.  Jezebel had begun nibbling the lower leaves on the tree, paying no attention to the man next to her.  He bent over and gently reached for a teat.  Her hind leg swung forward and out to the side catching Heyes in his chest and landing him on his butt, knocking the wind out of him.  This time, the Kid helped his partner up and dusted him off as Heyes coughed from the lack of air in his lungs.

“You okay?”

“She can kick out in all directions!  No way a horse could’ve gotten me from that angle.”

“She’s not a horse, you said so yourself,” chuckled Curry.

“It’s not funny.  We need her milk.  It’s been two and half days since we’ve eaten anything and we’re getting weaker.”

The Kid frowned, “I know we are.  Camel’s milk might not be my first choice if I had a choice, but it sounds pretty good right now.”

“I have an idea.  Let’s see if we can get the baby over to her; fool her into thinking it’s her kid she’s nursing and we can slip the hat under her.  I don’t think she’d kick at us with her baby in the way.”

“Us?  You mean, you, don’t you?”

It took the two men a while to get the youngster to allow them to gently tug it towards its mother.  Once in place, Heyes was able to slip the hat under Jezebel and milk her as gently as her baby would.  He emerged triumphant with a sodden brown hat full of milk and a satisfied grin splitting his cheeks.  “Aha, got it!”  Jezebel returned to her nibbling and her baby dashed away to join the other young camels.

Curry stared at his hat in dismay.  “You think it’s safe to drink?”

Heyes held the hat up and took a cautious sip.  He rolled the milk on his tongue as though it was a fine wine, swallowed, and grinned.  “It’s pretty good.  Tastes pretty much like cow’s milk only smoother.  Here, try it.”

The Kid took hold of his droopy hat, using the limp brim to hold onto it.  He lifted it to his nose and sniffed, stuck out his tongue, and cautiously dipped it into the white milk.  He looked at Heyes with raised eyebrows, and plunged his face into the erstwhile bowl, drinking deeply.

“Hey, c’mon, leave a little for me.”  Heyes reached out for the hat, agitated as his friend sated himself.

Curry handed the hat back to Heyes and wiped a grimy sleeve across his mouth.  “Umm, that was good.”

It was Heyes’ turn to drink his fill and he did, enthusiastically, before handing the hat back to the Kid who finished it.  “Ha, ha, ha, we did it, partner!”  Heyes was vibrating with pleasure and laughter.  “We’re going to make it out of here.  I know it!”

“I wish you hadn’t said that,” groaned the Kid.  “We ain’t goin’ anywhere unless we can ride these two.  I don’t know about you, but my blisters have blisters.”

“I’ve been thinking about how to go about getting on them.  They’re awful tall and I don’t think they’re going to stand around letting us crawl up the side of them.”

“Maybe we can find a rock or boulder to use,” suggested the Kid.

“Do you see any boulders around here?  I can’t walk much further, can you?  Look, see?  There goes another one.”  Heyes pointed to an animal behind the Kid.

“What?  What’s it doin’?”  The animal had folded its legs and was plopping down into the hot sand.

“It’s lying down.  These guys all seem to lie down a whole lot and they don’t seem to be too nervous about us wandering around them when they do.  I’m thinking we wait until Mo and your camel lie down, then we jump on them real careful-like and see what happens.”

“That’s a plan?  They’re pretty tall, Heyes; seems to me to be a good way to get your neck broke.”

“You got a better idea?”

“Yeah, it’s gettin’ late.  I’m gonna lie down and take a nap, maybe even sleep through the night.  You can try to kill yourself later.”  The Kid lay down in the shade cast by the two camels and the tree.  He pulled his wet, completely floppy, brown hat over his face.  Heyes shrugged and lay down next to him and, soon, two tired ex-outlaws were fast asleep.

OOOOOOOOOO



The sounds of coyotes yipping and howling over a kill woke Heyes as the glow of dawn peeked over the horizon.  He sat up and stretched, listening to the sounds of the animals surrounding them.  It was still fairly dark, but he could make out several camels lying down around them.  He stood up and walked towards the animals.  They paid no attention to him; all of them were lying down; most of them were asleep.  The ones that weren’t watched him walk by with absolutely no fear or concern.  He chuckled and walked back to his partner, kneeling next to him and shaking his shoulder.  “Kid, wake up.  C’mon, wake up,” he whispered.

The Kid stirred and opened his eyes, “What time is it?”

“Doesn’t matter what time it is.  The camels are lying down.  We have to get ready.”

Curry sat up, his hair rumpled and his eyes crusted with sand.  He took the end of his shirttail, cleaned out his eyes, and yawned.  “Ready for what?”

“We’re going to get on them.”

“You’re gonna get on them, I didn’t say I was gonna get on them.”

“Fine, you go ahead and walk.  I’m riding.”  Heyes stood up and glared at his partner.  Curry stood up slowly and stretched, watching his partner walk towards Mo, who was lying at the base of the tree he was tied to.  Jezebel was lying on the other side of the now barren, heavily-chewed tree.

Heyes untied Mo’s rope.  The other end was still looped around the camel’s neck behind his ears.  Mo lifted his head and looked at Heyes calmly while the dark-haired man deftly made another loop and slipped it over the animal’s nose, forming a rope halter.  Mo never moved.  Heyes tied the other end of the rope to the halter, forming reins, and looked back over his shoulder at the Kid, grinning widely.  He held onto the newly-manufactured reins and used his other hand to reach up and lean onto the hump centered on the camel’s back, prepared to jump away if necessary.  Mo was still.  Heyes pressed hard against the camel and there was no response.  Taking a deep breath, he clambered aboard the prostrated animal and sat up.  Mo didn’t move a muscle, but he was alert and turned to look at his rider.  “Okay, Mo, giddy up.”

The Kid grinned.  “Giddy up?  What are you, Heyes, six?”

“I ain’t the one too scared to try riding, partner,” needled Heyes, trying to urge Mo to his feet with his hands and legs.

Curry bristled at the challenge.  “Fine!” he snapped and walked over to Jezebel.  She looked at him with her soft brown eyes as he talked to her and appeared to be listening to his words.  Untying her, he followed Heyes’ lead, and tied a rope halter around her nose.  She seemed complacent and cooperative.  The Kid glared at Heyes and, without any precaution, climbed onto her hump, urging her to rise.  She, too, refused to move.

Heyes was kicking and rocking his body back and forth, trying to force Mo to get up.  The Kid chirped and kicked at Jezebel, using his hand to smack her rear end; nothing.  The two former desperados shared a glance and a laugh over their inability to rouse the beasts.

“Sure ain’t like busting a bronc,” said Heyes.

“What do we do now?”

“We sit and wait for them to stand up.”

“Then what?”

“Hope for the best.”

About an hour later as the sun rose higher in the sky, Mo shifted and groaned.  He lifted his huge head and bellowed, causing the other animals to stir.  Jezebel hummed and started to get up, lifting her hind end first.  The Kid slipped forward in front of her hump, holding on for dear life by clenching her thick hair.  She unfolded her forelegs and rising to her feet, threw him back against her hump, making him grab hold of her again.  His position was precarious.

Mo was rising, too, and Heyes had watched his partner, deciding that being ahead of the hump was preferable to sliding off the animal’s hips, so he let the camel’s motion slide him forward in front of the hump.  He pushed with his legs against the camel’s neck to avoid sliding down it and laughed as Mo stood up.  “See, it’s not so hard!”

“Jezebel don’t seem too impressed.  How do I get her to go?  We already know that giddy up ain’t gonna work,” grinned Curry.

“Jezebel?” chuckled Heyes.  “Well, ‘whoa’ worked yesterday so they know some commands.  Maybe they’re broke like driving horses.  Gee, gee,” said Heyes, kicking his feet.  Mo lowered his head slightly and started to move off to the right in a slow walk.  “Good boy!  Look, look, it’s working!” laughed Heyes excitedly.

Curry repeated the command for Jezebel and she ambled off to the right, falling in behind Mo with her baby jogging alongside her.  The Kid laughed.  “They walk funny.  I keep fallin’ from side to side.”

“Haw.  Haw,” commanded Heyes.  Mo quickly changed directions to the left.  Heyes patted him.  “Atta boy, Mo.”

The two riders worked with the two camels until they were confident that the animals were listening to them.  They settled the camels into a walk and directed them towards the trail to El Paso.

“C’mon, Kid, let’s go.  I want to catch up with those two yahoots and get my horse back.”

“The way these two walk, we ought to make up a little time.  Jezebel covers more ground in one step than my bay does in three,” said Curry, stroking the curly hair on the camel’s neck.  “This is kind of fun, Heyes.”

“That it is, partner, that it is.”

OOOOOOOOOO



The motion of Mo’s back shifting from side to side was lulling Heyes into a doze.  He started to rock forward only to hear his partner yell out.  “I see their trail!”  Sitting up, he glanced at where the Kid was pointing.  It was a long way down.

“I see it.  Good thing you didn’t get that nail replaced in that horse shoe.”

The Kid smiled.  “How do we get them to go faster, Heyes?”

Heyes began squeezing his legs and trying to urge the beast forward, verbally and physically pushing Mo along.  Mo picked up a jog and quickly launched into a gallop, catching Heyes by surprise.  He had to clench onto the hair in front of him to prevent a fall.   After several long, loping strides Heyes began to get the rhythm and enjoy the odd sensation of riding a camel.  He looked over his shoulder and saw the Kid on Jezebel loping behind, a wide smile arcing his face.  The other camels were stampeding along with them.  Heyes rocked back and let out a loud hoot.  Mo lengthened his stride.

“I guess there’s one good thing about all this,” yelled the Kid.

“What’s that?”

“The world won’t have to worry about the next generation of Currys and Heyeses.”

OOOOOOOOOO



“Whoa, whoaaa.”  Kid Curry leaned back and pulled on the reins, lifting Jezebel’s head.  She obediently slowed to a stop.

“What’s wrong?”

“I saw somethin’; pull up.”

“Whoa, Mo, whoa.”  Heyes wrestled his camel to a stop.  “What did you see?”

“Look over there, to the east.  Is that a campfire?”

It was the gloaming and daylight was fading away.  Heyes squinted.  He could see a small point of light in the distance and nodded.  “Yep, I think it is.”

The Kid leaned forward on his camel and tried to pull his leg over her back, but hung there, snagged, one leg and hip dangling off her side and the other leg hooked on her hump.

“What are you doing?”

“Gettin’ off and goin’ after those two crooks,” growled Curry, struggling to free his leg from the hump.

“Hang on, Kid.  It’s going to be kind of hard sneaking up on them without any cover.”

“I am hangin’ on, but I want my gun back and my horse.”  The Kid gave up trying to get off and managed to push himself upright again using Jezebel’s neck.

“That’s not what I’m saying.  Let’s wait until we can ambush them.  We’ll ride on down the trail for a ways until we can find some cover.  We can rest there for the night.  Let them come to us.”

“Makes sense; chargin’ them might be a good way to get shot.”

Heyes laughed.  “Don’t you remember?  They’ve never shot anyone.”

“So?  Neither have we, as far as anyone else knows,” said Curry.

“Did you get the feeling that was because they were basically nice guys being real careful like we used to be; or, do you think it might possibly be because they couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn?”

“Don’t forget we’re both ridin’ something as big as a barn.”

“Remember that once their horses see these camels, they’re going to have a heck of a time drawing a bead on us,” smiled Heyes with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Curry slowly smiled.

OOOOOOOOOO



“I’m gettin’ hot, Shep.  Can we stop for a spell?”  Morgan’s shirt was stained with dry sweat.  He opened one of the canteens and poured a little water on his face.  “We shoulda gotten an earlier start, it’s gonna be a scorcher.”

“Okay, I guess I could use another break, too.  Looks like that pile of rocks ought to have some shade around it.”  Shep urged his horse off the trail and after a yank or two, Heyes’ dun gelding followed along.  Morgan pulled his hat off and wiped the sweat from his brow.  It was almost noon and the temperature was skyrocketing.  He clucked to his mare and picked up a slow jog, leading the Kid’s bay gelding.

OOOOOOOOOO



“What do you see?” hissed Heyes.  “Where the heck are they?  They should’ve been here by now.”

The Kid had scrambled to the top of the pile of boulders towering over their last night’s camp and was lying on his stomach, peering over the edge.  “They’re coming and they’ve got our horses.”  He looked back down at Heyes sitting astride Mo, who was calmly chewing his cud.  The other camels were scattered around the sagebrush surrounding the camp, nibbling on twigs and branches.  One of them was chewing on a corner of Heyes’ bedroll.  Jezebel was untied and roaming freely with her baby at her side.

“Good.  I didn’t spend all morning planning this ambush for nothing,” groused Heyes.

“They’re about two miles out but they’re off the trail and cutting over this way.”

“All right, let me know when.”  Heyes patted Mo.

“You sure about doin’ it this way?”

“I’m sure.  The camels will follow Mo; I think he’s the herd stallion, or bull, or whatever you call it.”

The Kid shrugged.  “Okay, better you than me.”  He settled down to watch the riders drawing nearer.

OOOOOOOOOO



“I can’t wait to get to El Paso.  I’m gonna find me a lovely little senorita right off, then I’m gonna get somethin’ real tasty to eat; but it won’t be none of them mashed up beans they like in these parts.  I’m so sick of beans.  What’s the matter with those two fellas?  They had an awful lotta cans of beans.  And dried beef, what’s up with that?  Like maybe they was planning to be on the desert a long time.  Me, I want me a big, juicy beefsteak and all the trimmin’s.  What do you want, Shep?”

“I want you to shut up.”

“Aw, I know you don’t mean that.  You’re probably feeling the heat, too.  It’ll be better once we stop for a bit.  Those rocks looks tall enough to throw some real good shade.  Why I bet…”

OOOOOOOOOO



The Kid, from his perch, signaled down to Heyes to go.  Heyes dug his heels, started growling, and drove Mo forward.  The big camel picked up a lumbering gallop and Heyes started to yell.

OOOOOOOOOO



“Morgan, if you don’t stop running your mouth, I’ll stop it for you.”  

“Well, if you want to be that way…  Do you hear that?”

Heyes barreled around the rocks and drove Mo forward, his arm and legs flailing against the huge animal’s side.  He kept his head ducked low behind Mo and screamed growls of encouragement into the camel’s ear.  Mo drove forward with Jezebel galloping alongside him and the rest of the herd floating out behind him to form a broad wedge.

“What the…?” said Shep as his horse spooked and furiously shied away from the onslaught.  Morgan’s horse reared up and the outlaw reached for the mane, but missed and fell off, letting go of the Kid’s horse as well.  The unseated man rolled over and sat up, slightly stunned, watching the confusion.  The horses began bucking and jumping away from the frightening creatures.  Shep let go of Heyes’ gelding and it chased after the Kid’s horse, but he managed to keep his horse under control, despite its best efforts to shake him.  He kept the terrified gelding’s head pointed at the camels, although the horse’s hips nervously swung from side to side.

Morgan stood up, trying to run out of the path of the marauding animals.  He looked over his shoulder and saw Jezebel bearing down on him.  She was becoming agitated by all the confusion and she started flapping her lips as she ran after the fleeing man.  She made an odd popping sound, her lips bubbled with foam, and she stretched her neck out, long and low.  Morgan tripped and fell flat on his face, rolling over quickly and trying to cover his face with his hands before he was trampled.  Jezebel stopped in front of him, shaking her head up and down over him.  Morgan realized that she wasn’t going to trample him, so he lowered his hands and smiled at her antics.  The comical animal shook its head a final time and covered his head and shoulders with a big gob of spit.  He sputtered and choked at the smell, crying out for help.  Jezebel, still displaying her frothy displeasure, ignored him and wandered off to find her offspring.

Shep wheeled his horse around and slipped his pistol out of its holster, trying to take aim at the dark head bobbing on top of the monster bearing down on him.  His horse shifted its hips from side to side under him, trying to wrest the bit from him, and leaping up off its forelegs.  Raising his pistol for a clear shot, his horse bucked wildly and he lost his balance, dropping his pistol as he flailed around for his gelding’s neck.  Unarmed and unnerved by the massive beasts before him, Shep swung his horse around and cruelly dug in his spurs.  The animal leapt forward and took off in a dead run after the other horses with Shep desperately urging him to go faster.  Heyes and Mo galloped after them, further driving the maddened horse on, until finally the poor beast took a misstep and went down to his knees, pitching Shep over his head.  The outlaw hit hard and lay still while the horse struggled to its feet, unhurt, and ran off.  Heyes pulled up on Mo, jumping off as the big animal came to a stop.  He stumbled slightly, grabbing onto his camel’s reins.  Heyes reached out and cautiously turned over the prone man.  Shep groaned and sat up, looking dazed.  Mo leaned over Heyes’ shoulder and Shep backpedalled away from the huge, foreign face.  “What is that thing?!”

Heyes patted the camel fondly, “This is Mo.  Mo meet Shep.”  Mo harrumphed several times.

OOOOOOOOOO



Heyes snugged down the last knot and stood up.  Shep and Morgan were tied together face to face; their hands tied with their arms around each other and their feet bound tightly.  “That ought to hold them.  Let’s go find the horses.”

“Hey, you can’t leave us like this.  He stinks!” cried Shep.

“I can’t help it.  That…that thing spit somethin’ on me,” whined Morgan, watching the Kid lead Jezebel by.

“Mind your manners, boy, Jezebel’s a camel; a lady camel,” said the Kid, threateningly. “Did he hurt you, sweetheart?” cooed Kid Curry to his brown-eyed girl.  Jezebel blinked several times and lowered her head to his chest, snuffling his shirt and mouthing it.  “Aww, poor little gal.”  He patted her shoulder.

“A camel?  Like they have in Egypt?” asked a bewildered Shep.

“Exactly, like that.  C’mon, Thaddeus.  The horses couldn’t have gone very far.”  Heyes dusted off his hat, putting it on as Curry joined him.

OOOOOOOOOO



It took considerable cajoling to bring the four horses into camp.  The sight of the camels was almost too much for them and they balked, pulling against their lead lines.  The Kid tied the horses as far away from the camels as possible.  He checked his and Heyes’ horses over for injuries, running his hands up and down their legs and over their backs.  He opened his saddlebag and found his gun belt inside.  Smiling, the Kid buckled it on and settled it on his hips, tying it down.  He retrieved Heyes’ gun, too.

The dromedaries had already begun to settle down for the night, wandering off a ways and kneeling down, but the horses still eyed them fearfully.  Heyes stood by Mo and gently pulled the halter from around his head.  “There you go.  You go on now, boy.  Thanks for the help,” said Heyes, patting the big animal’s shoulder.

The Kid untied Jezebel, rubbing her neck and talking softly to her, and walked her over to where Heyes stood.  He loosened her halter and slipped it off her.  “Me and you got off on the wrong foot but I’m right glad I met you.  I’m gonna miss you.  I’ll never forget you spittin’ on that fella for as long as I live.”  He chuckled and backed away as she and her baby wandered out of the light of the campfire.

“Think we’ll ever see them again, Heyes?”

“I doubt it.  I think we were pretty darn lucky to see them at all.”

“I guess so.  You know, I kinda liked them.  They seemed real smart.”

“Yeah, I thought so, too.”  The two partners stood listening to the camels groaning and grunting in the darkness.  They stood quietly together as the sounds faded away.

“I’m guessin’ we’re less than half a day’s ride from El Paso.  Have you given any thought to what we’re gonna do with those two?” asked the Kid, gesturing over his shoulder at the two bound and gagged men lying trussed up by the fire ring.

“I want to take them in.”

“You’re kiddin’, right?”

“No, Kid, I’m not.  If we turn them loose, they’re going to start wondering why.  I wouldn’t be too worried about Morgan, but Shep is far from stupid.  How long do you think it would take him to figure out the reason we didn’t turn them in and why we’d pass up the rewards on them?  Once he does, it won’t take them that long to walk into town and get some help chasing us down.”

“They’re wanted, too.  They can’t go to the sheriff and neither can we!”

“C’mon, Kid, you think they couldn’t find some folks who needed money to help them run down a couple of wanted men?  All they have to do is avoid the sheriff and the marshals and not let on to anyone else that they’re wanted.  Who’s going to suspect?”  Heyes and the Kid walked back to camp.

“What do you plan to do with them?”

“I don’t know yet, but I’m working on it.  Right now, I want my money back.”

Heyes walked over and knelt down next to Shep and Morgan.  He frisked their pockets, finding his money and the Kid’s money in Shep’s pants pocket and another roll of cash in Morgan’s shirt pocket.  Heyes tucked his money into his own shirt pocket and tossed Curry his cash.  With a nasty little smile, he held up the third bundle.  “Tsk, tsk, looks like we’re not the only ones you’ve robbed lately; shame on you, Shep.  Sheriff’s going to have something to say about that.  Thaddeus, check their boots.”  He smiled at the worried expression that leapt onto Shep’s face.

The Kid pulled off Shep’s boots first and found a few gold pieces and more cash.  Shifting to Morgan, he yanked off his boots and found a few more bills.

Shep studied Heyes thoughtfully.  “I think you and me might be able to do a little business,” he said with a knowing smile.

Hard brown eyes leaned over the bound outlaw.  “And why do you think that?  Haven’t you realized yet that we have the upper hand here?”

“Look, I know we robbed you and left you in the desert, but you wasn’t hurt and we left you a pile of canteens.  I mean, we treated you decent enough and you ain’t dead.”  Shep was all smiles.

“Yeah, we sort of noticed we ain’t dead,” said the Kid.

“So, take the cash, the gold, too.  Just let me and Morgan go.  Easy as that.”

Heyes smiled.  “No, I don’t think so.  You see, me and my partner here are honest, law-abiding men.”

“Joshua, can I talk to you for a minute?” asked the Kid.  He seized his partner’s elbow and pulled him away from the two bound men, out of earshot, before whispering, “Why can’t we turn them loose and take the cash?”


“Wouldn’t be right.”

“When did that ever stop us?” hissed the Kid.

“Since we became honest, law-abiding citizens.”

“I’m serious, Heyes.  If we take the money, they’ll think they bought us and our problem’s solved.”

“True.”

“So, we’ll take the money?”

“No, we won’t.”

“Why not!?”

“Because I don’t like it that a crook like Shep thinks we can be bought.”  Heyes crossed his arms stubbornly.

“WE CAN BE BOUGHT!”

“Shh.  He doesn’t know that.”

“If we don’t let them buy us off, and we don’t let them go; what are we goin’ to do with them?  No, don’t answer that; I’ve figured it out.  I’m takin’ the money.”  The Kid tried to shoulder his way past Heyes, who stepped to one side, blocking him.

“Hold on a minute and listen to me.  Boy, your pig-headedness gets kind of hard to take sometimes, you know that?”  Heyes sighed.  “I was hoping not to have to bring this up.”

“Bring what up?” ground out the Kid, suspiciously.

“What happened the last time we got robbed and left in the desert to die?”

“We didn’t, but Seth did.”

“What else happened?”  Heyes searched his partner’s angry face.

“We hunted Danny Bilson down to make him pay for leavin’ us and takin’ our money.”

“Right, and how did that work out?”

“You know exactly how it turned out.  I killed Bilson.  You’d better make your point soon, Heyes,” growled Curry.  His fists were clenched in tight balls.

“We didn’t get our money back and Seth was still dead.  All that changed was that you now have to carry around the burden of Danny’s death for the rest of your life,” said Heyes softly.  “It still hurts and I can see it in your eyes every time his name is mentioned.  Are you angry it happened?”

“What kind of question is that?  Of course, I’m angry it happened.”  The Kid was bristling with fury.

“Well, so am I.  I’m mad Danny left us all in the first place and I hate that he forced you to kill him.  I’m not about to let a man go who tried to do the same thing to us.  Look at him over there, smiling like he’s already bought us off.  Who does he remind you of?  The only thing different here is that nobody died this time, but either of us could’ve.  Do you really want to turn a man like that loose to do the same thing to someone else, someone who might not be quite as lucky as us?”

Curry’s angry posture dissolved and he rubbed his eyes.  “You’re right.  I don’t want to let them go, but what are we goin’ to do with them?”

“Funny you should ask…”

OOOOOOOOOO



“Hold on a minute, Fred, while I grab that flyer,” said Dave Mather, the assistant marshal, unlocking the El Paso Marshal’s office door.  Swinging it open, he stepped in and stopped short at the sight that met his eyes.  Two scruffy-looking men were gagged and tied face-to-face with their arms around each other.  They were also each chained to the heavy oaken desk by a pair of the marshal’s leg irons.  Pinned to each man’s back was a wanted poster bearing a striking resemblance to the man wearing it.  The marshal’s stack of wanted posters sat on the desk in their usual place, but they were in disarray.  Mather tore the poster off the greasy brown-haired man, reading it.  He looked up smiling.  “Well, I’ll be, it’s Shep McDonald.”

OOOOOOOOOO



Kid Curry stood at the window overlooking the marshal’s office and let the curtain drop shut before turning to his partner stretched out on one of the hotel’s soft feather beds.  “Heyes, we did the right thing.”

“I’m glad you feel that way.”

“Maybe we really can do this.  Go straight, that is.”

Heyes smiled at him, “We’ve already gone straight, Kid, we just have to stay straight and do what any honest man would do.  It’s not so hard.”

The Kid smiled at his partner and sat down on the other bed, pulling off his boots.  “So what did Uncle Mac’s telegram say he wanted us to do this time?”

“He wants us to steal that bust of Caesar for him again.”

“What?!!”

Heyes laughed heartily until the first boot hit him.




According to my research, feral camels are easily approached and tamed.  They sleep lying down.  Camels are intuitive creatures, but are more difficult to handle than a horse because they are easily offended.  The last sighting of a wild camel in North America was in 1941 near Douglas, Texas, and the last sighting of a feral camel in British Columbia was in the 1930s.  The Canadian camels were mostly Bactrian (two-humped) and the U.S. Army primarily used dromedaries (one-humped).


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_________________
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.
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Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw :: Comments

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Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 01 Mar 2014, 8:03 pm by Penski
What a unique storyline and way to save Heyes and Curry from another desert!  Really loved all the scenes with them trying to figure out the camels and even getting nourishment from them.  And, of course, I love the historical note at the end of the story.

Wonderful way to start out the 2014 Virtual Season - thank you, Inside Outlaw!  goodjob
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Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 01 Mar 2014, 10:45 pm by CD Roberts
What a fun start to the season! I thought the camels were wonderful, and Jezebel is such a fitting name for one. IO, your development of the boys characters in regards to why they had to turn in the outlaws at the close of the story felt exactly right, and it picked up perfectly with where they would be emotionally after the run in with Bilson. Excellent story!clap 
But, boy, I had to wait a long time for a camel to spit on someone! biggrin
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 01 Mar 2014, 11:53 pm by joannb
Wow what a fun way to kick off the season! I really enjoyed this story--it had a good mix of humor, drama, and mystery (how are they getting out of this...what are they going to do with the bad guys). I laughed a lot at the conversations between Heyes and Curry! You really nailed their characters.

Thanks! goodone
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Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 02 Mar 2014, 10:46 am by Ghislaine Emrys

What a fun story!  Love the mix of the historical aspect of the camels, the action and adventure of chasing down the men who robbed HH and KC, and the serious ethical discussion at the end about going straight and turning in the outlaws.  This has something for everyone!   goodjob 
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 02 Mar 2014, 11:26 am by Lana Coombe
Great start to the season.  Had fun picturing Heyes and Kid rocking on the camels' backs!  A well rounded and entertaining story.  clap
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 02 Mar 2014, 2:54 pm by Keays
What a great start to the season InOut!  Loved all the bantering even when they thought they might die of thirst out there.  Kid's threats to re-gag his partner if he didn't stop complaining was great fun.

Loved the camels and the interaction between them and the boys.  No camels are not horses that's for sure and they cannot be too easy to ride, especially bare-back.  Good line from the Kid about the world not having to worry about future generations from either of them.
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 02 Mar 2014, 11:17 pm by AnnieB
Really enjoyed this story - thanks!   thumbsup
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Mon 03 Mar 2014, 6:36 am by NoraWinters
As others have said I/O great start to the season. The banter was excellent and you caught the character of the camels very well. Lucky for the boys that the camels were so accommodating. Liked the solution to the problem of what to do with their captors in the end.  clap 
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Tue 04 Mar 2014, 1:08 pm by HannaHeyes
Wonderful story IO and great start to the VS season! Loved Kid threatening to regag Heyes. Very original idea using the camels to help save the boys. Having ridden a camel before, I can attest to the fact that it's definitely different than riding a horse! Kid had the perfect name for his camel. Glad they caught back up with the two who left them out there. Loved it!  goodjob 
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 08 Mar 2014, 6:56 pm by Maz
What a great start to the new Virtual Season.
Camels...who would have thought of camels?
I have a soft spot for camels and I'm glad Kid does too. :)
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Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Wed 12 Mar 2014, 2:57 pm by Grace R. Williams
Your story is packed full as a camel's hump with humor! Lots of great lines! I particularly liked these:

“Because I don’t like it that a crook like Shep thinks we can be bought.” Heyes crossed his arms stubbornly.

“WE CAN BE BOUGHT!”

“Shh. He doesn’t know that.”


I enjoyed seeing the Kid search for a sweaty bandana to use on Heyes. Also, glad HH and KC changed their ways instead of ending up a couple of mean and nasty "smilers" like Danny Bilson!
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 9:03 am by Calico
Okay, Calico here. I’ve been a bad, bad VS member last month, but now I’m going to catch up. Bring out the mug of tea and let’s have a read.
Our boys can’t start out with money! The rule says they’re always broke. (Only teasing.)
Nah, it’s too close to winter to feel sorry for the boys being too hot!
I am loving our boys being robbed by gentlemen who never shoot no one. What goes around comes around, huh? Loving the ‘what are the odds’ lines – and the banter generally - too.

Something always gets me about folk throwing away their empty canteens in disgust. I’m not denying it is a perfectly evocative and traditional film/TV image, BUT, surely a sensible person would want to keep that empty bottle just in case you found water??
AH! Heyes agrees – he’s fetched his empty bottle.
I think Camels is a smashing idea for a story, Inside. (Of course, the title does kinda give us a clue!)
Ahah! Heyes tatty hat puts it out of service as a milk pail. He is a wily one – love it.
Go Jezebel! That ain’t no way to approach a lady!
Oh, bless. Wouldn’t we all have loved to SEE this episode. Can just picture our boys mounted on camels.
Very funny the way Shep and Morgan are basically echoing the Heyes Curry type banter. Don’t hurt them!
Wondered when we were going to get a camel spitting. They are wicked with it!
Also loving Curry pointing they CAN be bought.
Clever, clever story, Inside. And SO original.
Re: Ships of the Desert by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 18 May 2014, 2:19 pm by AllegraW
Now my story is done, I can relax and start reading others which is much less work and much more fun. This is a lovely start to the season and an excellent episode...and, despite everything, the boys start and finish winners. Love Kid threatening to re-gag Heyes, and worrying about future generations of Heyeses and currys. And it's always wonderful to have it reconfirmed that the boys can be bought. Well done!  sunny sunny 
 

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