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 Playing Both Sides of the Law by Skykomish Part 2

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royannahuggins
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Join date : 2013-10-13

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PostPlaying Both Sides of the Law by Skykomish Part 2

The morning sun brightened the lobby as Heyes, Curry, and Cammie left the hotel diner. No clerk manned the counter, so Heyes reached behind the desk and snagged their keys off the hooks. He turned around and handed one key to Cammie with a flourish which was stopped short by the sight of Ike Spencer rising from a chair.

“You waitin’ for us, Sheriff?” asked the Kid.

“That’s right, Mr. Jones. I’m anxious to know if you folks have come to a decision about stayin’ or leavin’.”

“Well, Sheriff, that offer of being deputies sure is tempting,” Heyes began with a forced smile.

“Yeah, we sure would love to be deputies,” added the Kid with false bonhomie.

“But the lady’s safety comes first. We’re leaving on Friday’s train.” Heyes laid his hand on Cammie’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze to emphasize his point.

The Kid added his enthusiastic agreement. “We’re gonna hafta pass on your offer this time.”

“Well, if ya change your minds, ya know where to find me.” He shook hands with both cowboys and tipped his hat to the lady in farewell.

“Thaddeus,” began Heyes with a question in his voice. “Can you look after Cam on your own for a bit?”

“Sure, but why?”

“I’ve got a hunch about something, and I want to check it out over at the bank.”

“A hunch that requires you to check out the bank? I thought you gave up that sort of thing,” Cammie teased.

“It’s not that sort of hunch. I’m trying to figure your bank robbery.”

“It’s not exactly MY bank robbery, but if that’s what it’s about, why don’t we all go?”

“Whatcha got in mind?” asked the Kid.

“Asking the bank manager a few questions.”

“Then I’d better come,” advised Cammie. “He’s more likely to open up if I’m there.”

“Hey, come on, Cam. Who’s got the silver tongue?”

“Who’s met the man before and was with him when his bank was robbed?”

“Oh. I guess you have a point,” relented Heyes.

When they exited the hotel, Heyes and the Kid insisted Cammie hug the walls of the buildings, while they stayed between her and the street. Curry continually scanned the surroundings as they hurried to the bank.

The front door was recessed behind a neoclassical facade of white columns, starkly out of place in the adobe architecture of Santa Fe. Curry entered first, probing for threats before ushering the others inside. The lobby was crowded and the lines were long.

A short man with sparse gray hair and a well-tailored suit walked out of an office when Camilla entered.

“Mrs. Taylor, how are you? I heard you were injured.”

“Thank you for asking, Mr. Rosenthal. It was only a scratch.”

“I’m glad to hear it, my dear. You are a brave lady to come testify with all of the troubles.”

“Mr. Rosenthal, I’d like you to meet my friends and guards, Mr. Joshua Smith and Mr. Thaddeus Jones. They came to ask you a few questions, to help apprehend the outlaws who robbed you, you understand.”

“Of course, of course.”

Rosenthal looked distractedly over his shoulder at a patron who was raising his voice. The teller spoke quickly, trying to quiet the man at his window.

“Excuse me a moment.” Rosenthal hurried over to the upset customer. Only snatches of the conversation could be understood across the room. The banker returned shortly, dabbing his brow with a handkerchief and running a finger between his neck and collar.

“Let’s talk in my office,” he suggested and led the way without waiting for a response.

The trio followed. Heyes and Cammie took chairs facing the banker, while Curry stationed himself by the door and closed it.

“What was the ruckus about, Mr. Rosenthal?” Heyes began.

“We’ve placed restrictions on withdrawals until this robbery is solved. Some customers have been more understanding than others.”

“So the theft has hurt your bank?” the dark-haired cowboy probed.

Rosenthal used his handkerchief to mop up sweat again and coughed nervously before answering. “The loss has depleted our cash reserves. We need to catch the thieves and retrieve some bonds and other investment notes they took as well as the cash, but we’ll squeak by. Samuel Pendergrath has offered to loan us money to help with cash flow until the outlaws are apprehended. I haven’t accepted his help, yet, but it’s a comfort to know the support is there if we need it.”

“Who is Samuel Pender…?”

“Pendergrath, Mr. Smith. He’s a banker over in Las Vegas. We’ve been competitors in the past, so I was particularly touched by his offer of support. Solidarity in the face of a common enemy, I suppose.”

“How have you been competitors?” asked the Kid. “Seein’ as how your bank is here in Santa Fe and his is in Las Vegas… Does he have another business here in town?”

“No, Mr. Jones, but he would LIKE to. He tried to purchase my bank, even after I explained that it wasn’t for sale. He was quite persistent, but never did offer a reasonable price. Not that it mattered, because I’ve no interest in selling.”

“So, this man, Pendergrath from Las Vegas, wanted to buy this bank?” Heyes verified.

“That’s right.”

Heyes looked thoughtful and then grinned. “Thanks for your time, Mr. Rosenthal. We appreciate you talking with us.”

They excused themselves with handshakes, and Rosenthal showed them politely to the door.

“So, you thinkin' what I'm thinkin' about that Las Vegas banker?” asked the Kid, as they shielded Cammie on their walk back to the hotel.

“Maybe. I need to find out more about this Pendergrath fella.”

“You mean, if we were stayin’ in town?” clarified Curry.

“You two aren’t planning on pursuing this, are you?”

Heyes stopped on the hotel porch, hooked his thumbs through his gun belt, and considered her question. “No, Cam, we’ll leave it be, but it just doesn’t sit well that you got hurt.”

The three ex-lawbreakers took the stairs to the second floor and filed down the hallway. They entered Cammie’s room first, and Heyes and the Kid inspected it before using the interior door to their adjoining one.

When Heyes lit the lamp, the Kid recognized a tall, lanky man reclining on the bed with a six-shooter aimed right at them. Curry placed a hand on his partner’s shoulder without breaking eye contact with the gunman.

“Heyes, we got company.”

“That’s right, Heyes, ya got company,” repeated an unfamiliar voice. “Put your hands up, real slow, and turn around. No sudden moves, or I might get twitchy. You too, Kid, hands up.”

The intruder had dark hair, hooded eyes, and a bushy mustache that hid his top lip. He wore a hat with a tall, rounded crown and a shallow brim. A well-kept revolver fit comfortably in his hand, pointed unwaveringly at the Kid’s heart.

“So you’re the infamous Hannibal Heyes! I thought you’d be taller.”

Heyes pasted on the wide-eyed innocent look. “You must be mistaken. I’m Joshua Smith, and my partner is Thaddeus Jones.”

“Don’t bother, Heyes. That’s Dave Mather.”

“Mysterious Dave Mather? The gunman? Is he as good as his reputation?”

“Yup.”

“That’s quite a compliment comin’ from you, Kid,” said Mather as he sat forward.

“You plannin’ to turn us in for the reward?” asked Curry, with narrowed blue eyes.

“Nope. Just can’t bring myself to collect on an old friend. I’m here to ask you boys to do somethin’ for me.”

“You got a funny way of asking for a favor,” snapped Heyes.

“If I give ya my word that I’m just here to talk, can I put my gun away?”

Heyes’ eyes slid sideways toward the Kid with a question. Curry met the look and nodded. Mather uncocked his gun. The ex-outlaws slowly lowered their arms.

“Someone’s been shootin’ at Camilla Taylor,” Curry said in a hard voice. “You got any idea who that might be?”

“Yep, I do. And I can give ya my word that it won’t happen again. Good enough?”

“Yeah. It’s good to see ya, Dave.”

The Kid extended his hand, and Mather holstered his gun before grasping it.

“Good to see you too, Kid. You’ve been real busy since I last saw ya in Kansas. Papers are full of your activities.” He nodded at Heyes. “Ya gonna introduce us?”

“Dave Mather, this is my partner, Hannibal Heyes. Heyes, Mysterious Dave Mather.”

“Ya know, I really hate that nick name,” he complained and then smiled.

“Well, I hate being ambushed in my hotel room,” retorted Heyes with a frown.

“Why’re ya here?” asked the Kid, leaning against the dresser and crossing his arms.

“Like I said. I need your help.”

“From what I’ve read in the papers, you’ve got plenty of help and a real sweet deal over in Las Vegas. Why do you need us?” asked Heyes.

“Because I’m not sure which of the boys in Vegas I can trust in this situation. You two want to keep Camilla Taylor safe, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“That’s right.”

“I can help ya with that.”

Heyes pulled off his hat and tossed it on the dresser before running both hands through his hair. “You know who’s behind the robbery,” Heyes surmised wearily.

“Yep. But I don’t know who did the shootin’. I’m not even sure who rode in the gang, so don’t ask me that. But I do know who planned the job, and who hired the boys to kill all the witnesses.”

“Let me guess,” said Heyes. “It’s that banker in Las Vegas, Samuel Pendergrass.”

“It’s Pendergrath, but that’s right. How’d ya know?”

“I’ve been asking questions and doing some thinking. Pendergrath wants the Century Bank here in Santa Fe, and he doesn’t want to pay market value for it. So he’s forcing the local banker into a crisis. After the cash situation gets real bad, he can play the hero by purchasing the bank and bailing out everyone’s savings. Am I right?”

“You sure are, but I’m surprised you figured it out so quick.” Mather played with the ends of his mustache while he considered the dark-eyed cowboy. “You might be as smart as your reputation claims, Mr. Heyes.”

“Yeah, my partner the genius,” muttered Kid. “So what do you want?”

“I want you to get the evidence to prove it. Pendergrath keeps his sensitive papers in a safe in his study on the third-floor of his home. I need you to get a sampling of the cash and the financial papers he took from the Century Bank and bring ‘em to the Federal Marshal here in Santa Fe. Give him a real good reason to come into Las Vegas and search Pendergrath’s home and arrest him.”

“You’re a marshal. Why not do it yourself?” asked Curry.

“It’s just not gonna work out that way.”

“Disagreements within the Dodge City Gang?” asked Heyes.

“You really want me to answer that?” challenged Mather.

The two cowboys exchanged a look before shaking their heads.

“But how are we gonna sneak into Las Vegas and break in to Pendergrath’s house? He’s bein’ real cautious, and I’m sure we’re bein’ watched,” added Kid.

“You’re right about that. But word’s got back to Vegas that your witness has lost interest in testifyin’. Pendergrath has a fancy party planned for Saturday night, and a weakness for pretty ladies. If Mrs. Taylor got herself invited, you could come to Las Vegas and be at his house. Is the lovely Mrs. Taylor a lady who can finagle herself an invitation to a rich man’s party?”

Both outlaws burst out laughing. Heyes stole a glance at the door to the adjoining room while the Kid answered.

“Oh, Mrs. Taylor can get an invitation. She’s real good at that sorta thing, but why should we take the risk?”

“Well, Kid, I can think of twenty thousand reasons why you might want to help me out.”

“Aww, Dave, are you gonna hold a little thing like wanted posters over our heads?” asked Curry.

“Not my first choice, but you two have the skills to do the job. Pendergrath is goin’ too far, and pullin’ some of my associates into more trouble than we can afford. I need your help.”

Heyes frowned. “If we agree, how do we set up a meeting between Mrs. Taylor and Pendergrath?”

“He comes into Santa Fe every Thursday for a meeting. Afterward, he has lunch at a restaurant on the Plaza. The lady can arrange to run into him accidentally while he’s there.”

Blue eyes met brown before Curry pushed back his hat with a finger and Heyes squinted one eye. The Kid nodded.

“We’ll talk to her. If she agrees, we’ll do the job for five hundred dollars apiece,” stated the dark-haired man.

Mather chuckled. “Ya got guts, Heyes.” His eyes turned flinty and his voice grew hard. “But you’ll do the job whether the lady agrees or not. Your payment will be the sun on your face and the free flowin’ countryside without big, black, prison bars marrin’ the view.”

Outlaw eyes met again in silence.

Several heartbeats passed before Heyes responded. “Okay. We’ll make it work, but I’m gonna need the layout of the house and the grounds by tomorrow.”

“You’ll have it. And you both should know,” Mather said with an uneasy glance at the Kid. “No hand guns are allowed in the city of Las Vegas, exceptin’ peace officers. I can make sure that you aren’t searched, so you can hide a small derringer if you want, but you’ll need to leave your six-shooters in the hotel.”

__________

The adjoining rooms at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico were light and airy with large windows and high ceilings. Heyes perched on a chair, pulling on his boots. Kid Curry grabbed his gray suit jacket and shrugged into it.

“I hate derringers, Heyes. They ain’t accurate,” Curry complained as he slipped one into his vest pocket.

“They’re accurate if you’re close enough.”

Curry scowled at his partner. “Only when you’re close enough to flatten the guy. When they’re accurate, ya don’t need ‘em.”

“Relax, Kid. We won’t be able to shoot our way out, anyway. We’ll be surrounded by guys paid to keep this banker safe.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Heyes answered with a closed-lip smile and a lift of his shoulders.

“Your clear thinkin’ about these things is such a comfort, Heyes,” quipped Curry. “But I still feel nekkid without a decent six-shooter.”

Heyes opened his mouth, but was cut-off by a light knocking.

“May I come in?” called Cammie.

The Kid opened the door. The blonde beauty arrived in a glistening swirl of low-cut emerald silk. She inspected both cowboys with a critical eye.

“Are those the only suits you could find?”

“What’s the matter with my suit?” Curry demanded with a pout. He tugged his lapels and straightened his jacket while challenging her with a glare.

Heyes snagged his brown derby and popped it on his head. “They’re the only suits we own, Cam. Besides, we shouldn’t be well dressed. We’re hired muscle, remember. You’re the one sporting an invitation.”

She drew a deep breath and blew it out in a disgruntled sigh. “I think you two wore those same suits when we were kids.” She adjusted the silk skimming her shoulders to cover the bandage over the bullet graze. “Remind me to take you shopping in Denver.”

“I doubt we could afford it,” grumped Heyes.

Curry treated himself to a long look at Mrs. Taylor. “Ya know, Cam, you’re even more beautiful now than when we were teenagers.”

Her face warmed with a dazzling smile. “Thank you, Kid.”

Heyes offered her his arm. She raised an eyebrow at him and waited.

“You do look lovely tonight, Cam,” he said with a laugh. “Pendergrath won’t be able to resist you.”

“Don’t forget that I’m married. He’s not allowed to get too friendly.”

“We’ll be there to back you up,” Heyes assured her. “Ya gotta have faith in the plan.” He led her out into the hall.

“I forgot my hat,” Curry exclaimed as they rounded the corner. “I’ll meet you at the livery.”

“Don’t take long,” his partner called over his shoulder.

Curry hurried back inside their room where he moved very near the dresser and slid open a drawer. The position of his body prevented even a glimpse of what he eased from the dresser. For few seconds, the Kid did something with the unseen object, then he adjusted the fit of his pants, grabbed his hat, and placed it on his head. With a last tug at the hem of his coat, the Kid left the room to rejoin his companions.

__________

Heyes guided the rented carriage to the front of the Pendergrath estate where Curry jumped lightly to the ground and helped Camilla Taylor step down. She held an envelope made from linen paper which she handed to the heavily armed man at the gate. He inspected the invitation before handing it back.

“Have a real nice evening, Mrs. Taylor,” he murmured as Curry and Cammie walked up the path to the brightly lit mansion.

“Where do you want me to leave this?” asked Heyes, referring to the carriage.

The guard indicated a field where many similar conveyances were already waiting. Heyes maneuvered it into the line and settled the horse. Grabbing his derby from the seat, he placed it on his head and walked back to the gate.

“I’m supposed to watch the outside of the house to ensure Mrs. Taylor’s safety,” he informed the guard.

The sentry’s biceps strained against the seams of his jacket when he crossed both arms over his chest. He sneered at Heyes and stepped in front of the path leading to the house.

The ex-outlaw donned his most charming smile and flashed innocent eyes at the thug blocking the entrance.

“You know how it is. I’ve got a job to do, same as you. The lady is nervous and was told that she could have one bodyguard inside with her and one patrolling the grounds. My partner and I flipped a coin, and I’m stuck out here in the cold for the evening while he’s inside sipping champagne and watching the ladies twirling in their fancy dresses. It was all arranged. Some deputy marshal cleared us for the job.”

“Ya done?” asked the scowling guard.

Heyes opened his mouth to try again when Dave Mather approached. “It’s all right Jesse,” he told the sentry. “This is Joshua Smith. He’s cleared.”

The large man frowned, but stepped aside so Heyes could pass. He scowled as the outlaw walked by, but made no move to stop him.

The dark-haired man sauntered up the path and inspected Pendergrath’s house. The Queen Anne mansion was an elaborate statement in excess and poor taste. Heyes marveled at all of the possible routes to the third floor provided by the fancy cut-outs in the decorations slathered across the exterior of the structure.

“Mather was right,” he chuckled. “This is gonna be easy.” He continued to the back of the house where he spotted his target—French doors on a third-story balcony. They opened into Pendergrath’s private study.

Moving only his eyes, Heyes checked the landscape to make sure he was unobserved before slipping behind the bushes below the balcony. He fished a pair of leather gloves from an inside pocket of his jacket and pulled them on for the climb.

The moon had yet to clear the horizon, leaving the backside of the home in deep shadow. Using the darkness for cover, Heyes inched up the side of the building. Clinging to the balustrade of the third-floor balcony, he used the decorative siding for footholds and boosted his body up and over the railing and landed silently on the portico.

Back pressed to the wall, he peered into the darkened room. Nothing moved. Sliding a hand down into his boot, he removed a lock pick. He crouched in front of the door, but found no keyhole. Stealthily reaching into his boot again, he returned the lock pick and retrieved a slim knife. After inserting the blade between doors and easing it upwards, he strained to hear the faint tinkling of the latch. Smoothly unfolding his legs, he turned the knob and ghosted through the doors.

Gliding across the room, Heyes felt his way to a painting on the western wall of the study. He removed his gloves and tucked them in his jacket before fingering the edges of the frame. Finding the fastening, he swung the painting away from the wall to reveal the safe. White teeth flashed in the darkness as his smile spread until it crinkled around his eyes. A sigh hissed through his lips as he placed his ear against the metal and delicately eased the dial forward.

__________

Downstairs in the expansive entry a string quartet played Chopin while the elegantly clad upper crust of Las Vegas whirled around the dance floor. Kid Curry leaned against a column watching Camilla Taylor glide effortlessly in the arms of Samuel Pendergrath.

The banker was tall and fit with a precisely groomed beard and a black tailored suit. When the music ended, he led Cammie to a table laden with champagne and desserts. Curry heard her low laugh. He watched as Pendergrath offered a glass of champagne, which she declined. They continued to talk. Pendergrath presented his arm and led her toward the sweeping staircase. When they passed the Kid, Cammie shot him a look brimming with troubled, green eyes and worry lines. He waited until they disappeared upstairs before he casually followed.

When he reached the second floor, Curry pressed his back against a wall and peered down the hallway. The rich sound of Cammie’s laughter drifted from above. The blond ex-outlaw reached for his derringer, then stalked around the corner and up to the third floor.

The top level was dim and still. A puddle of light spilled from a partially open door at the far end of the hallway. The Kid prowled silently toward it with the derringer held tight against his thigh. He stopped to listen several feet from the room and caught the sound of Pendergrath’s voice, though he couldn’t make out the words.

Cammie’s response was pitched to carry further. “You promised me a glass of fine brandy, Samuel. You’re a very wicked man to get me here alone. I’m a married woman, remember?” She punctuated her sentences with giggles.

Pendergrath’s reply was too quiet to overhear. Curry edged closer to the door.

“So this is your private study. I suppose you keep all of your most personal… papers… in here,” she flirted loudly enough to make sure that Curry was paying attention.

As he approached the door, derringer ready, his eyes widened in alarm. The press of cold metal against his spine froze him where he stood.

“Raise ‘em! What are ya doin’ up here?” a rough voice demanded as the derringer was pulled from Curry’s hand. “Mr. Pendergath, ya got company,” called the gunman. “Move slowly,” he hissed in the Kid’s ear and urged him forward with the barrel of the gun.

Curry entered the study with both hands held high. Cammie cuddled very close to Pendergrath with her arm wrapped around his waist. She stood between him and the French doors leading onto the balcony and moved against him in a way designed to keep his focus on her.

The gunman stepped into Curry’s line of sight. He was a stocky man with a scar over his right eye. His cheap suit looked like it had been painted onto his stumpy frame. “I found him skulkin’ in the hallway, Mr. Pendergrath. Whatcha want me to do with him?”

“Thaddeus,” Camilla purred, “why are you lurking in the hallway?”

“Your husband said to keep an eye on ya, ma’am. I’m just followin’ orders.”

“Your guard?” asked the banker.

Cammie nodded. “May he lower his arms, Samuel? He was just trying to protect my virtue. My husband can be so tiresome when it comes to fidelity.”

Pendergrath indicated that Curry could lower his arms. “Why did you follow us?”

“Like Mrs. Taylor said, her husband has a jealous streak, and I’m paid to see to the lady’s virtue.”

A calculatedly deep sigh heaved through Cammie’s cleavage and drew the focus of the men. Knowing the woman’s tricks, the Kid quickly looked up at her face. Using only her eyes, she directed his attention to the balcony doors where the tip of a familiar boot was barely visible beneath the curtains. Curry frowned.

“You’re gonna need to come back downstairs, ma’am. Mr. Taylor won’t be happy if you stay up here with this gentleman,” advised Curry in his best imitation of a bored employee.

“The lady isn’t going anywhere, unless it’s her idea,” the banker contradicted him.

Before Pendergrath’s gunman could react, Curry reached through the pocket of his pants and whipped out his hidden Colt revolver. “The lady is leavin’ the party now,” he insisted in a cold voice. His eyes flicked between the banker and his guard. “Over here, Mrs. Taylor. I don’t like doin’ this, but your husband pays my salary.”

Cammie ran a finger down the banker’s nose and then kissed him on the cheek. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “You seemed like such fun, but we’ve been caught. My husband does such a good job of paying the bills that I’m going to have to go.” She sashayed over to Curry.

“You go downstairs first, Mr. Pendergrath,” the Kid ordered. “I don’t want any surprises on the way to the lady’s carriage.”

“Don’t worry. You are both welcome to leave. In fact, I insist that you do. Mrs. Taylor is lovely to look at, but far more trouble than she’s worth. Come on, Jack,” he addressed the gunman. “Let’s escort our guests to the door.”

After everyone else left the room, Heyes slunk from behind the curtain and reopened the unlocked safe. Working quickly, he rifled through the papers. Smiling, he slipped a few documents from the middle of a bundle and grabbed a pile of banknotes. With the grace of a hunting cat, he flowed out the door and over the balcony railing.

__________

Rounding the building to the front of the grounds, Heyes spied Cammie limping and leaning heavily on Curry’s arm while Pendergrath oversaw their departure from the front porch. Increasing his pace, he met them at the gate.

“How did you get hurt, Mrs. Taylor,” he asked, taking her other arm.

“I twisted my ankle on the step,” she explained as they lifted her into the carriage.

The guard glowered at the trio until they left the property.

“Did ya get it?” inquired Curry once they were out of earshot.

“Uh-huh, the safe was real easy to open.” Heyes inspected the blonde con-woman. “Are ya really hurt, Cam.”

“No. We were just stalling to make sure that you had time to climb down the building.”

“Thanks for keeping Pendergrath occupied and then getting him out of the room. But, Kid, where did your revolver come from? I thought we agreed to leave it back at the hotel.”

“I agreed to carry a derringer, Heyes. I didn’t say I’d leave my decent gun behind.”

“What if someone had spotted that thing strapped to your leg.”

“It was under my pants. Who’s gonna be lookin’ under my pants. Besides, you would’ve been in a lot of trouble if I’d done what ya asked.”

“Maybe,” the dark-haired man conceded, “but I’d lay money on Cam getting us all out of trouble by batting her eyelashes.”

“Why thank you, Heyes.” She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.

__________

The hiss of the waiting steam engine echoed through the chatter of morning business at the Santa Fe train station. Hannibal Heyes turned away from the ticket window and strode to the bench where his partner sat next to Cammie. Mrs. Taylor was dressed in a sturdy traveling suit and checking a train schedule.

“Denver and Rio Grande straight through to Denver, right Joshua?” she asked without ever taking her green eyes off of the schedule.

“That’s right, ma’am,” Heyes answered politely. “But it looks like you’re prepared for any circumstances this time,” he commented on her clothing with a smirk.

She sighed, and Curry rolled his eyes.

“Smith, Jones, Mrs. Taylor,” called out Sheriff Spencer in his methodical drawl. He walked onto the platform and studied the lady. “You feelin’ better now, ma’am?”

“I’m fine, Sheriff, thank you for asking.”

“I’m glad I caught you folks before ya left.”

“Is there some trouble?” asked Heyes with an uneasy glance at his partner.

“No. No trouble, Mr. Smith. I just wanted to let you know that Marshal Morrison is real thankful for your help, and he has Samuel Pendergrath in custody now. We’re all mighty grateful to you.”

“Just doin’ our duty as upright, law-abidin’ citizens, Sheriff,” added the Kid.

Heyes compressed his mouth into a thin line. Curry shrugged.

“The marshal says that it was no easy thing you did. Not many men, or women, could have pulled it off. Pendergrath claims that somebody opened his safe and planted the evidence, but there were no signs of forced entry at his house or on the safe.”

All three reformed criminals shifted uncomfortably at the direction of Spencer’s observations.

“I did some checkin’,” the sheriff continued in a speculative tone, “and learned that the governor of Wyoming recommended you two, and all contact ran through Lom Trevors—the sheriff over in Porterville.”

“That’s right,” Heyes replied uncertainly. “Is that a problem?”

“No, just set me to thinkin’. How did you get the evidence away from Pendergrath?”

Heyes’ reply was cut off by Spencer’s raised hand.

“No need to answer, Mr…Smith. I was just thinkin’ how Trevors once, a long time ago, rode with the Devil’s Hole Gang. Man picks up some interestin’ contacts with a past like that.” He stopped talking and carefully studied both Heyes and Curry.

Neither outlaw spoke.

“Well, boys, it’s been real nice meetin’ ya. We’re mighty grateful for all that ya done, but I suspect we won’t be seein’ ya back here in Santa Fe anytime soon. Am I right?”

Heyes’ smile was knowing. “You’re right, Sheriff. We need to head elsewhere for a good long while. And thank you.”

“No need to mention it,” he said as he shook each of their hands and tipped his hat to the lady.

Camilla boarded the train, leaving the men to gather her luggage.

“Will we ever get to come back to Santa Fe?” Curry asked his partner as he hefted a suitcase.

“Sure we will. The way they swap out lawmen and outlaws here in New Mexico, the next time, they’ll probably make you a deputy marshal.”

“There’s no reason to get nasty, Heyes,” the Kid whispered with a frown.

Heyes just flashed his dimples with a hearty laugh.


Historical Note: the Dodge City Gang was a loose association of gamblers, gunfighters, lawmen, and outlaws that dominated the economy and politics of Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879 and 1880. Most of the Dodge City Gang came to Las Vegas during the Railroad Wars between the Denver and Rio Grande Line and the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Line over the passes in Raton, New Mexico and Royal Gorge, Colorado. The Gang included the following public officials: City Marshal Joe Carson, Deputy US Marshal Dave Mather, Peace Officers John Joshua Webb and Tom Pickett, and Justice of the Peace Hyman G. “Hoodoo Brown” Niell. Among the hard case outlaws in the gang were “Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh, Selim K. “Frank” Cady, Dutch Henry Borne, William P. “Slap Jack Bill” Nicholson, and others. They were scattered and out of business by the middle of 1880. I’ve stretched the timeline a bit to have them coincide with Heyes and Curry’s run for amnesty.


(Writers love feedback! You can let Skykomish know how you enjoyed the story with a quick comment. Just Post Reply to the Comments for Playing Both Sides of the Law thread below.)

_________________
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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Playing Both Sides of the Law by Skykomish Part 2 :: Comments

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Playing Both Sides of the Law by Skykomish Part 2

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