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 The Murder of Maggie Green by Penski

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royannahuggins
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Join date : 2013-10-13

20140301
PostThe Murder of Maggie Green by Penski


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



Guest Starring

Henry Fonda as the Sheriff


Charlie Sheen as Tyler, the Deputy


Ian McShane as Harold, the Bartender


Jodie Foster as Vivian


Patricia Blair as Mary


Charles Durning as Mayor Kirkpatrick


Amanda Blake as Loretta Kirkpatrick


Kevin Hagen as Doctor Morse


Hoke Howell as Hank Page




Hannibal Heyes slowly opened his eyes and licked his dry lips.

“About time you came to, you drunken bastard! You’re under arrest for the murder of Maggie Green.”

“Murder?” Heyes pushed himself up on his elbows and looked around cautiously. A sheriff had a gun pointing down at him. In a bed a few feet away was the bloody body of a woman, who wore a red satin dress and feathers in her hair. Looking at his shirt, he saw blood stains and then noticed more blood on his hands. “Oh…” He lay back down on the floor and closed his eyes, fighting nausea.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry rode slowly into town, noting the name Dry Creek on the sign for the hotel and taking in the locations of the jail, saloon, and bank all the while appearing to be looking straight ahead. He stiffly got off his horse, yawned, and stretched. After tethering his mount to the hitching post, he patted the horse’s nose. “I know, it’s been a long trip. One more day until we meet up with Heyes and we can both rest a spell. I really need a drink to wash down the dust and a quick meal before I take you to the livery. Then it’s a shave and a soft bed for me.”

Curry strode into the nearest saloon and up to the bar. “I’ll have a beer,” he said as he placed a nickel on the counter.

“Coming right up!” The bartender, with muttonchops, put down the newspaper he was reading, wiped a glass clean and poured beer into it. “Here you go,” he said as he placed it on the counter and picked up the coin.

Curry took a long drink and wiped the foam from his upper lip with his sleeve. “Serve any food, by chance?”

“Steak and beans,” the bartender said absently. “Cost ya fifty cents.”

The Kid counted his change and put some on the counter. “I’ll have that and another beer.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

As Curry ate his food, the bartender picked up the newspaper and glanced at it. He shook his head as he read, “Man beat a saloon gal to death. Those poor girls have a bad enough life.”

“That’s a shame,” commented the Kid as he continued to eat.

“Oh, says here they caught the man passed out in the room with blood on his clothes and hands. A drifter. ‘Course he says he didn’t do it.”

“That’s what they all say.” Curry cut up more of his steak. “Where’d this happen?”

“Let’s see…” The bartender scanned the article with his finger. “In Cedar Flats, about a day’s ride from here.”

“Cedar Flats?” Kid Curry swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat.

“Yep. Heard of the place?”

“Supposed to meet my partner there.”

“Hey, if he’s lucky, maybe he’s already there. This guy is goin’ to trial tomorrow. They’re building the gallows now. Nothing like a good hangin’.”

Curry gulped the last of his beer and grabbed his hat. “Maybe I’ll leave now so I can get there for all the excitement. Thanks for the news.” He hurried out the door and untied his horse from the hitching post. “I know I promised you a night in the livery, but I have a bad feelin’ Heyes is in trouble. Again.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

A filthy, trail-worn Curry dismounted his horse in front of the Cedar Flats Livery.

“Stayin’ overnight?” asked the brawny older man, who came from the side of the blacksmith area.

“Maybe for a few days. He’s had a long ride; make sure you give him a good rub-down and oats.”

“That’ll be fifty cents a day.”

Curry nodded in agreement and handed the reins to the man with some money.

“Are you here for the hangin’?”

“Hangin’? Is the trial over already?”

“Well, no, but he was caught red-handed,” the man snorted. “Get it...red-handed? Had blood all over his hands so red-handed…”

“I get it,” sighed Curry. “Where is the trial?”

“Over at the church where there is plenty of room for the crowds. Hey, here they come now. That was fast!” The livery owner yelled out, “What was the verdict?”

“Guilty!” came back a response from the crowd. “There’ll be a hanging in two days!”

Kid Curry looked down the street toward the steeple and saw a crowd coming towards them. He pulled his hat lower over his eyes when he saw the sheriff leading the way. Behind the sheriff, handcuffed to deputies on both sides, was Hannibal Heyes, with his head down. As they were about to pass the livery, Heyes glanced up and caught his partner’s eyes. The Kid tried to give a reassuring smile before Heyes looked down again as they led him back to the jail.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In the middle of the night, the Kid stood with his back against the wall of the sheriff’s office, took a deep breath, and leaned forward to quickly glance in the window. Inside he noticed, by the dim light, a deputy with his head on the desk snoring. A door was visible, but he could see no cells from the front room. Curry crept through an alley to the back of the building, where high windows with bars could be seen. He picked up a stone and threw it at one of the windows. It bounced off the wall and back to him. He caught it and threw it again.

A face appeared at a window. “Thaddeus, is that you?”

“Yeah. Can you talk?”

“Door’s shut to the office, but I’m not sure who’s out there.”

“A snorin’ deputy.”

“Ahh… That’s what I guessed.”

“Do they know who you are?”

“Joshua Smith’s been convicted of murder,” came his despondent reply, "only, I'm the one who's gonna hang for it in two days! You can’t be seen talking to me. Can’t let anybody know we’re partners.”

“What happened?”

“I’m not sure…”

“We need to talk!”

“It’s too risky. You should go… Just leave town.”

“I’m not leavin’ without you!”

“Kid, promise me, no matter what happens.”

“Heyes…”

Curry heard a faint sound of a door unlocking and saw his partner’s face disappear from the window.

“Smith, are you talkin’ to someone?”

“No, sir, Deputy. Just talking to myself.”

“Quiet down!”

“Yes, sir.”

The Kid walked away from the window and back to the hotel. He tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep. “You didn’t give up on me in Santa Marta and I ain’t givin’ up on you now,” he mumbled. "If I could just get in there and talk to you." Then, a smile appeared.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Bartender, I want a bottle of your best whiskey and a glass.” Curry put a few coins on the counter, took the proffered bottle and glass, and then sat at a corner table.

A saloon girl sashayed over. “You drinkin’ alone, mister?”

“Not if a pretty thing like you wants to join me!” Curry smiled and kicked out a chair. “Get a glass.”

The young girl grabbed a glass from the counter and sat down, holding her glass as the Kid poured the amber liquid. They both downed the drinks and he filled them again.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Vivian,” she responded, as she gazed into his deep blue eyes. “And yours?”

“Jones. Heard you had a murder here, Vivian,” the Kid commented as he sipped the whiskey and then watched as the girl drank all of hers.

“Maggie… It was horrible!”

“What happened?”

“A drifter came in and was playin’ poker. Went upstairs with Maggie and…and when they didn’t come down after a few hours, Harold went upstairs.”

“Harold?”

She nodded over to the bartender. “That’s Harold; he keeps an eye on us gals. Anyway, he found Maggie dead and the drifter passed out on the floor.”

Curry scarcely shook his head. “Terrible! How’d he do it? Didn’t anyone hear nothing?”

“Beat her with his bare hands! Had blood all over the bed and his clothes. Poor Maggie didn’t stand a chance.” Vivian sniffed as she drank another shot of whiskey. “You wanna…” She motioned upstairs.

The Kid smiled. “Not right now, maybe later.” He nodded towards the whiskey. “Have a bottle to finish.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough, mister?” the bartender asked a swaying Kid Curry. “You’ve been drinking all afternoon.”

“Said I wanna ‘nother boddle,” the Kid slurred, as he pounded on the counter.

“No, you’ve had enough. Why don’t you go get some fresh air and come back later?”

“Fine! I’ll go to ‘nother bar.” Curry bumped into a table and made it slide a few feet. He threw a chair out of his way and then stumbled over another, hitting a poker table and making it tip.

“HEY, watch out!” yelled one of the players.

Once outside, the Kid pulled out his gun and shot it into the air a few times. Men came out of the saloon as the sheriff approached the drunk.

“Holster the gun, son,” the sheriff demanded.

“Jush havin’ some fun.” Curry put his gun away and swayed into the sheriff.

“He’s been drinking all afternoon, Sheriff,” the bartender shouted out.

“Looks like it.” The lawman took firm hold of the Kid’s arm as he led him to the jail. “I have just the place for you ‘til you sober up, so you don’t hurt anyone.”

“I won’t…hurt…nobody,” Curry slurred as he stumbled after the sheriff into the office.

“Deputy, take Mister… What’s your name, son?” asked the sheriff.

“Hones… Taddus Hones.” The Kid sat heavy on a chair and put his head down on his chest.

“Thaddeus Jones?” the deputy questioned.

His head popped up. “Thash wha I said… Taddus Hones.”

“Take Mr. Jones to a nice room. I’m going home for the evening.” The sheriff locked up his rifle as the deputy began escorting the drunk to the cells. “Um…Tyler…his gun?”

“Oh, yeah, I was gonna get it,” the deputy blushed. “Here now. Take off your gun belt, Jones.”

The Kid stumbled as he unbuckled his belt. “Here ya go!” he said as he tried to hand over the gun and belt.

“Have to untie it first.” The deputy took the belt and untied the thong holding it to the drunk’s thigh. “Hope you just pass out and don’t give me no trouble tonight.”

“He’s all yours, Tyler. Good night!” said the sheriff as he was walking out the door.

“Thanks, Sheriff,” the deputy said as he led the drunken man. “Sheesh, I hope you don’t get sick. Iff’n you do, you’re cleaning it up, once you sober up.” The deputy led the drunk through the door and locked him in a cell. “You have company, Smith.”

Heyes glanced up and saw Curry being locked in a cell. “What’d he do wrong?”

“Drunk in public. He’ll be sleeping it off in here this evening.” The deputy left the cell block and locked the door.

“Kid? What are you doing?” Heyes hissed near the bars separating the cells.

Curry looked up and smiled, all signs of drunkenness gone. “Needed to get in here and talk to you.” He sat on the bunk by Heyes, leaning against the wall. “Aren’t you glad to see me?”

“Yes… No… I told you to leave town.”

“And I said I wouldn’t without you.”

Heyes sat heavily on his bunk. “I don’t want you around to see me…to see me…”

“I’m not gonna stand around and let them hang you, Heyes. You’re innocent.”

Heyes buried his head into his hands. “How do you know? I woke up with blood all over me. And I don’t remember anything.”

“Because I know you, Heyes. Look at me.” The Kid paused a moment until his partner looked at him. “You wouldn’t do that. I’ve seen you mad, real mad, and you use your words, not your hands.” He gazed at his friend. “Ahh… You have blood on your clothes! They didn’t give you new clothes for the trial?”

Heyes looked down at the stained clothes and shook his head. “Sheriff called it evidence.”

“No wonder the trial was so darn short. One look at you in them clothes and any jury would’ve convicted you.” Curry put a hand out to touch his partner’s arm. “You need to hear me, Heyes. You didn’t murder that girl.”

“Maggie… Maggie Green… That was her name.”

“Did you know her before?”

Heyes shook his head.

“Why don’t you sit back and tell me what happened. That way we can talk quiet and the deputy won’t know.”

Heyes mirrored the position of his partner, leaning against the wall, so only bars were between them. “I remember playing poker. Maggie came over and brought me a drink of good brandy. Said it was on the house. You know how I don’t eat much when I’m playing cards.” Heyes glanced over and saw his partner nod in agreement. “Guess the brandy got to me since I didn’t have much in my stomach. Started feeling dizzy and sick. I excused myself from the game and headed for the counter. Maggie came up to me looking all concerned. Said I didn’t look right and asked if I wanted to come up to her room and lie down for a spell. I took her up on her offer and barely made it up the stairs. We got to her room and… And then I woke up with blood all over me and the sheriff pointing his gun down at me.”

“That don’t sound like you, gettin’ sick like that,” Curry commented. “Did you feel better when you came to?”

“Not really. I was real thirsty and confused. Felt sick to my stomach and dizzy.”

“When did you start feelin’ better?”

Heyes thought a moment. “Maybe five or six hours later, but then I knew I was up for murder and feeling sick about that.”

“Did you check the room when you got up there – make sure nobody else was in it?”

Heyes slowly shook his head as he pondered. “No… I don’t really remember her room until I woke up in there.”

“Gosh, Heyes, if I didn’t know better, you sound like you were drunk and passed out. Woke up with bad hangover.”

“Except I didn’t drink that much. Someone must have drugged me. But how and why…”

The door between the office and the cells was being unlocked. Curry closed his eyes, leaned his head against the bars, and began to snore. Heyes quickly sat up and buried his head in his hands.

The deputy opened the door and walked in. “Just checkin’ on the drunk. Seems to be passed out. At least he’s not gettin’ sick.” He went in front of Smith’s cell. “You need anything? Hungry?”

Curry snored louder.

Heyes shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I am kinda hungry.”

“Well, you haven’t eaten much since you’ve been here. I’ll go to the café and get you a plate. I’m hungry, too.” The deputy headed toward the office. “I’ll be back… Don’t go nowhere,” he snickered, as he shut and locked the door.

“Hungry, Kid?” Heyes asked, as he leaned back against the wall again.

“No, you need to eat. Didn’t think you’ve eaten much and that deputy just confirmed it.”

“Lost my appetite seeing Maggie and all the blood, and being accused of the killing.” Heyes ran his fingers through his hair. “But why Maggie? And why make it look like I did it?”

“I dunno; there has to be a reason. Meantime, we gotta get outta here. They’re fixin’ on hangin’ you in less than 36 hours.” Curry sat up and started taking his boot off.

“We can’t go anywhere until we figure this out.”

“What?!” The Kid pulled a lock pick from the bottom of his boot. “What d’ya mean we can’t go nowhere? I say we head down to Mexico. Maybe Santa Marta. Stay there until things quiet down again.”

“We can’t; our amnesty is in jeopardy.”

“Joshua Smith was convicted of murder, NOT Hannibal Heyes.”

“Kid, if Lom don’t know about this, he will. How will it look if we hightailed it down to Mexico?”

Curry sighed. “Didn’t think about that.”

“And what if the governor gets wind of it…”

“Well, we can’t stay here in town. There’s a gallows outside and it has your name on it.”

“You can.” Heyes smiled. “Glad you listened to me when I said they can’t know we’re partners.”

“If I’m stayin’ here in town, where are you gonna be?” the Kid asked.

“That’s where you come in. Tomorrow morning the sheriff will probably release Thaddeus Jones, who will have sobered up and be feeling bad.”

“Yeah…”

“You can scout out the area looking for someplace nearby where I can hide while we figure out who done it.”

“You’re gonna need supplies. I can have a horse ready to go and tied across the street, with saddle bags full of supplies, clean clothes, and a map of where you should go.”

“Sounds good. And tomorrow evening sometime I’ll use that lock pick and get outta here.” Heyes held out his hand. “Better give it to me now so we don’t forget.”

Curry handed the lock pick to Heyes, who slipped it into his boot.

The Kid smiled. “Glad to have you back, partner! I was worried about you yesterday. Sounded like you had given up.”

“I pretty much had. Thanks for coming in here and talking some sense into me.” Heyes grinned back. “Where’d you come up with the idea of pretending you were drunk?”

“From you. Don’t you remember pretendin’ to be a drunk durin’ Belle Jordan’s trial so you could help break me outta jail?”

“Yeah.” He smiled remembering. “That was a pretty good plan; glad I thought of it.”

“Since nobody knows me here, I didn’t need to grow a mustache so they wouldn’t recognize me.”

Heyes snorted. “That’s good. You looked awful with one.”

A noise came from the outer office and moments later the door was being unlocked. Curry, again, pretended to be passed out and snoring.

The deputy came in with a tray of food. “Here you go, Smith,” he said as he slid the tray under the bars. “About time you eat.”

“Thanks, Deputy.” Heyes leaned over and picked up the tray.

“Any noise, besides snorin’, from that one?” the deputy asked, pointing to Curry.

“Nope. Quiet as a mouse – a loud snoring mouse, that is.”

The deputy chuckled. “I’m just glad he ain’t gettin’ sick. Guess you are, too.” He yawned. “Think I’ll catch up on some sleep myself. Night, Smith.”

“Night.” Heyes removed the cloth and looked down at the chicken, beans and biscuits. After waiting for the door to be locked, he elbowed his partner through the bars. “Want any of this?”

Curry opened his eyes and looked at the plate of food. “Nah, you go ahead… Well, maybe one of them biscuits.”

Heyes handed a biscuit to the Kid and began eating. “Guess I was hungrier than I thought.”

“Pretty good.” Curry finished chewing. “Guess I’m gonna have to pay Vivian a visit tomorrow night.”

“Vivian?” Heyes asked before taking another bite of chicken.

“Yep. She’s the gal in the saloon who told me about you and Maggie while I was pretendin’ to get drunk. Wanted me to…you know. Think I’ll take her up on it and see what more I can learn.”

“Don’t want to make you do something you don’t want to,” Heyes chuckled.

The Kid grinned. "Well, we ARE partners. And if me spendin' time with Vivian would help YOU out, then... Sheesh, I guess I gotta!"

“Actually, that’d be good. You’ll be seen in the saloon with Vivian while I’m escaping. Can’t put the two of us together.” Heyes scooped up another spoonful of beans and ate it.

“So all we have to do is figure out who killed Maggie Green and why.”

“And why they made me look like the one who did it,” added Heyes. “And why they picked me to drug and frame for the murder.”

“Is that all?” snorted the Kid.

“Sure you don’t want to finish this?” Heyes pointed to the last of the food on the tray.

“No, I can go get some breakfast when I’m released. You finish it.” The Kid yawned. “Actually, I didn’t sleep much last night thinkin’ about you and how I’d get in here. I might catch up on my sleep.”

“Haven’t slept much myself since I’ve been in here.” Heyes put the tray on the floor and pushed it under the bars. “Think I’ll get some sleep, too, now that I know you’re here to watch my back.”

“That’s what partners do,” Curry said as he slid down on the bunk and got comfortable. “Night, Heyes.”

“Night, Kid.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The sheriff opened Curry’s cell door. “Time to get up, Jones. How are you feeling this morning?”

The Kid winced. “Felt better. Have an awful headache.”

“I can imagine, with all you drank yesterday. Seems you’re sober now so you can get your gun and leave. Don’t want to see you drink like that again while you’re in my town.”

“No, sir. I sure don’t plan on doin’ that again. Learned my lesson.” Curry walked into the office.

“I hope so.” The sheriff locked the door behind them.

Heyes grinned.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry rode through the countryside. “Have to find a place for Heyes to hide,” he mumbled to himself. He reined in his horse and stood up on the stirrups, glancing around. He smiled as he sat back down in the saddle. “This way, boy.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Kid glanced at the gallows, where they were testing the trap door, and shuddered as he tied his horse to the hitching post next to the bank, across from the sheriff’s office.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes stared out the jail window at the gallows, watching men put the final touches on it before the big hanging in the morning.

“C’mon, Kid. I got faith in you,” he said quietly.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry entered the saloon, looked around, and grinned when he saw Vivian at the counter. He walked up next to her. “Sorry about yesterday. I was wonderin’ if I could buy you a drink?” He put on his most charming smile. “Maybe later we can…” He shot a quick glance at the stairs.

Vivian hooked her arm around his. “I thought you’d never ask. Harold, two drinks, please.”

The bartender poured two whiskeys and brought them over. “Hope you’re not gonna drink like you did yesterday.”

“Nope. I learned my lesson,” the Kid assured them. “Nothin’ as soberin’ as wakin’ up in a jail cell.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“So what do you want for your last meal, son?” the sheriff asked as he entered the cell block.

Heyes looked up and swallowed hard. “Not sure I have an appetite, seeing you put it that way.”

“May as well have something. Deputy, go on over the café and get Smith a steak dinner with a piece of pie. I’m heading home soon. I’ll see you in the morning.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Kid lay in a bed, kissing Vivian. He reached over and adjusted the lamp wick so it burned brighter. “How well did you know Maggie?”

“Pretty well, I guess, since she arrived in town about a year ago." Vivian frowned. “What are you bringin’ up her for?”

“Just wonderin’… Did she have any enemies?” Curry caressed Vivian’s arm.

“Maggie? No! Everyone loved her, especially Mayor Kirkpatrick.” Vivian leaned over and dimmed the light.

Curry reached over and made the lamp brighter again. “Especially the mayor? What do you mean by that?”

“Just that Maggie was Kirkpatrick’s favorite gal.”

“Didn’t that make for problems?”

Vivian thought for a moment. “No, not really. Nobody says much about who is spendin’ time with who, if ya know what I mean.”

“So nobody wanted to see Maggie dead?” the Kid gently inquired.

She chuckled. “Maybe the mayor’s wife.”

“The mayor’s wife?”

“Oh, Loretta Kirkpatrick walked right into the saloon one afternoon, went right up to Maggie and slapped her hard. Told her to stay away from her husband. Quite the scandal!”

“And did Maggie?”

“Well, shucks, of course not! Just because the missus was extremely jealous didn’t stop the mayor from seeing Maggie or givin’ her gifts – nice gifts.” Vivian sighed. “Is that all you wanna do is talk about Maggie?”

“Nope! I’m all yours now,” Curry said in a husky voice, as he turned the wick of the lamp way down and leaned over for a deep kiss.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The sun peeked its head over the horizon, casting yellows and oranges into a sky of pinks and blues when the sheriff walked up to his office door. “Gonna be good weather for a hanging.”

He entered the office and frowned as he saw the sleeping deputy. “Good morning, Tyler. Sleep well?”

“What?!” The deputy jumped, as he awoke with a start. “Oh, Sheriff, you’re here early today. I must’ve just nodded off to sleep.”

“TARNATION! Where is the prisoner, Deputy?!” the sheriff shouted as he opened the door between the office and the cell and saw no Smith.

“What?! He was there a few hours back.” The deputy came over and looked with disbelief into the cell block. “Where could he have gone?”

“You must not have locked the cell when you gave him his meal! He probably slipped out while you were sleeping!” The sheriff unlocked a cabinet and pulled out several rifles. “You disappointed a lot of folks. Some came from quite a ways for the hanging!”

“Where you goin’, Sheriff?” asked the deputy, with his head hung down in shame.

“We have to get us a posse and find that murderer before he does it again!”

The sheriff, followed by the deputy, ran to the saloon. Entering, he saw men half asleep at the tables and the bartender sweeping the place.

“Smith has escaped! I want every able-bodied man to be part of the posse!” the sheriff shouted. “Deputy, go on upstairs and knock on the doors – bring the men down here.”

“Yessir!”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry woke up and grabbed for his gun in one fluid motion.

“What the…” Vivian stared at the man with a gun in her bed with a look of shock on her face and then heard someone outside her door.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

“Who… Who is it?” she stuttered.

“Deputy. You got someone in there with you?”

“Uhmm…” She looked at the man beside her, who nodded his head. “Yes.”

“Smith has escaped and the sheriff said all the men in town have to be part of the posse. Tell him to get downstairs on the double.”

“Great! Part of the posse,” the Kid moaned, as he got up and pulled up his pants over his long johns.

“You’re fast!” Vivian exclaimed, as she continued to stare at Curry. “Fast with your gun, that is.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Men, we have a dangerous murderer out there somewhere and it is up to us to find him before he kills again,” the sheriff addressed a group of men in the saloon.

Curry leaned against a wall, arms folded, and listened.

“We’ll spread out to cover more ground. Those who feel inclined can go in small groups. Any volunteers?”

The Kid looked around the room and saw few hands. He reluctantly raised his hand in the air.

“Good… good! Jones, are you familiar with any of this area?”

“South of here on the road to Hamilton. I know of a few places a prisoner might hide.”

“Okay, you head in that direction. Moore, you know that area, too, so you go with him.” The sheriff pointed out a man who had also raised his hand.

Curry’s eyes swept over the man as he nodded. He noted he was average-size with dark hair. Moore wore a gun, but it was not tied down.

“You two can get going while I send out the rest,” the sheriff dismissed them. “Now, Joe, why don’t you ride with…”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Moore and Jones rode in silence down a dirt road.

“I remember seein’ a deserted farm near here,” Curry said, as he shielded his eyes from the sun. “There was a path leadin’ to it around here.”

“You mean the old Wagner place. It’s that way.” Moore pointed to the left. “Let’s go check it out. That’d be the perfect place to hide bein’ it’s so remote.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“This is the place I was thinkin’ of,” Curry said as they approached the buildings. “You wanna check the house and I’ll look in the barn?”

“Sounds good,” Moore said as he dismounted and cautiously walked in the direction of the house.

The Kid went into the barn, his hand hovering over his gun. He glanced around the darkened room and saw a horse in a stall.

Heyes peered from around a corner and hissed, “Kid?”

Curry put a finger to his lips and mouthed, “Later.”

“Jones,” came a voice from outside. “Do you see anything?”

Heyes nodded and disappeared again.

“Nope,” Curry said, as he exited the barn. “Not fit for man or beast to be stayin’ in there.”

“House is infested with rats. No sign of anyone bein’ in there for a long time,” said Moore as he mounted his mare. “Let’s go check out that grove of trees by the creek.”

“Sounds good.” The Kid got on his gelding and followed Moore out of the yard.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The moon shone brightly in the sky. Heyes grabbed his gun and aimed it at the barn door.

“Just me,” the Kid called out.

Heyes smiled and holstered his gun. “Was wondering if you were gonna be able to make it tonight. So you’re part of the posse to find me, huh?”

“Yeah, didn’t count on that happenin’, but it turned out to be a good thing.”

Heyes poured two cups of coffee and handed one to his partner. “Did you find out anything yet?”

Curry took the proffered up cup and took a sip. “Sure did. Vivian told me Maggie was a favorite of Mayor Kirkpatrick and his wife, Loretta, was very jealous. The wife even came into the saloon and slapped Maggie.”

“Came into the saloon?” Heyes questioned.

“Yep, and told her to stop seein’ her husband.”

“Bet he didn’t.”

“Nope. He kept on seein’ her. Bought Maggie lots of nice gifts, too.”

“Hmmm…” Heyes took a sip of coffee. “Anything else?”

“Well, Vivian didn’t wanna talk about another gal all night.”

Heyes raised his brow. “I guess not.”

Curry shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

“We have to look at Mayor Kirkpatrick and his wife. Find out everything you can about them. And we have to figure out why I passed out. There had to have been something in that drink.”

“Oh, I brought you something.” The Kid pulled out a few papers from inside his sheepskin jacket.

Heyes took them. “Papers?”

“Grabbed a few old newspapers I found in the hotel lobby. Thought it’d give you somethin’ to read until I can come back.”

“Thanks. Now I can read about somebody’s prize hog.”

“And about Maggie’s murder.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry sipped coffee in the café as he stared out the window, watching the townfolks opening their businesses and scurrying across the road to avoid a wagon loaded with supplies.

A middle-aged brunette came up to him. “Here’s your breakfast – flapjacks, bacon, and two fried eggs. Anything else I can get you?”

The Kid flashed a big smile at her. “Maybe some more coffee…for two?”

The waitress looked at him, puzzled.

“It’s just that there don’t appear to be anyone else here but me and I wouldn’t mind some pretty company while I ate.”

“Well, I suppose for a few minutes…” the waitress blushed. She poured herself a cup of coffee and brought the pot over to refill the handsome customer’s cup. “I’m Mary.”

The Kid wiped his hands on a napkin and shook her hand. “Thaddeus Jones.”

“Where are you from, Mr. Jones?”

“Oh, just about everywhere. Go from place to place, wherever there’s a job. How long have you been in Cedar Flats?” Curry asked as he took a bite of eggs.

“All my life.”

“So you know everyone, I bet.”

“I know a little about most. Cedar Flats isn’t that big.” Mary sipped her coffee. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I was just thinkin’ about settlin’ down and this town might be a good one to do just that.” Curry was about to take a bite of bacon, but added, “Then I heard about this murder and now I’m not too sure.”

“Oh, don’t let this murder change your mind, Mr. Jones. We haven’t had a murder here since… Well, we haven’t had one. This is the first. And, if you ask me, it wasn’t just a random murder, either.”

“It wasn’t?” Curry put his fork down. “Why do you think that? I heard a drunken drifter did it.”

“Well,” Mary leaned closer to the Kid. “Maggie wasn’t exactly…innocent, you see. She was one of those saloon girls. And she was getting mighty uppity, if you ask me. Started wearing nice things and walking around town, like she was a respectable woman, and not a scarlet lady.”

Curry hid a smile behind his coffee cup.

“And the mayor was one of Maggie’s regular customers. Talk is that Maggie had hopes the mayor would marry her someday.” Mary shook her head.

“Is the mayor married?” Curry picked up a piece of toast and took a bite.

Mary nodded. “He’s married to Loretta.”

The Kid wiped his hands with his napkin and put it on the empty plate. “Did his wife know?”

“She sure did and even confronted Maggie about it – went into the saloon, mind you! Told her to stop seeing her husband. Speaking of Loretta, there she is.”

“Where?” Curry glanced out the window.

“The woman going into the mercantile with the basket on her arm.” Mary pointed across the street and then stood up when another customer entered the cafe. “It’s been so nice chatting, but I really do need to get back to work.”

Kid Curry stood. “Thank you for takin’ time out of your busy day to have coffee with me.” He fished in a pocket. “Oh, and here’s money for my bill.”

Mary smiled as she took the coins. “Any time.”

Curry left the café and walked across the street to the store. As he was about to enter, a lady was exiting, not watching where she was going.

“Bye, Mr…. Ooph!” the lady exclaimed as she bumped into the Kid and dropped her basket.

“Ma’am, I’m so sorry!” Curry bent down to gather the items fallen from the basket.

“Why, you clumsy…” The lady turned to see who had gotten in her way. Seeing a handsome man grinning up at her while picking up the merchandise, she smiled. “That’s quite all right. It was my fault – talking when I should have been paying attention.”

"There you go, ma'am. I don't believe anything's been damaged." He removed his hat and flashed a winning smile.

“I’m not sure we’ve met.” The lady held out a gloved hand. “My name is Mrs. Kirkpatrick, wife of the mayor of Cedar Flats.”

“Thaddeus Jones, ma’am. Pleasure to meet you.” Curry kissed the gloved hand.

“My, aren’t you the polite one! Men around here are usually ill-mannered.”

The Kid feigned a blush. “Just doin’ as my ma taught me, ma’am.”

“And where are you from, Mr. Jones?”

Curry lost his smile and looked down. “Not proud of this, ma’am, but I’m a drifter in your fine town, looking for a job.”

“What a shame! You must come with me.” She slinked her arm into his. “I’m sure my husband, the mayor, can help you find some place of employment.”

“Then allow me to carry your basket for you, ma’am,” the Kid said and allowed her to lead him down the street.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes sat on a rock with his bare feet in a creek while he fished. His horse was tethered nearby, in the shade, nibbling on the grass. The snap of a twig caused him to drop his fishing pole and reach for his gun.

Click. “Too late.” Curry walked down with his gun drawn, uncocking and then holstering it. “You really need to be more alert with folks lookin’ for an escaped murderer.”

“Are there still posses out looking for me?”

“Just the deputy. He rode out this mornin’ and he went north. I heard that a telegram went out to all the sheriffs in the area to look out for you.”

Heyes picked up the pole and dropped the line back into the water. “How did you find me?”

“Not too hard. When I didn’t see you or the horse in the barn, where you’re supposed to be hidin’, I looked around and saw this place. Figured you’d be goin’ crazy and wanna get out. Nice place, huh?”

“Yeah, it is. Nice to feel the sun and hear the creek. And some grass for the horse, too.”

“Catchin’ anything?” the Kid asked as he sat on the rock next to his partner.

“Nope, but that don’t mean I won’t.” Heyes wiggled his line. “Did you find out anything?”

“Sure did. Mary, from the café, lived here all her life, knows everyone in town, and loves to talk.”

"Mary and Vivian… Kid, don't you ever talk to men?"

Curry gave his partner a sardonic grin. "Sure, Heyes. I talk to you all the time, don't I?"

Heyes sighed. "Forget it. So, what did Mary from the cafe tell you?"

“That she thinks the murder wasn’t random. Said Maggie was gettin’ uppity and dressin’ as a respectable lady. Told me the same thing Vivian did about the mayor and Maggie havin’ an affair and that Mrs. Kirkpatrick told Maggie to stop seein’ her husband.”

Heyes glanced sideways at his partner. “Hmm... Sounds like you need to visit the Kirkpatricks now.”

“Oh, I did. You could say I bumped into Mrs. Kirkpatrick.”

“Bumped into her, huh?”

Curry smirked. “Then she insisted that I talk to the mayor about a job.”

“And…”

“They live in a big house on the east side of town. His office is on the first floor.” The Kid paused a moment. “The mayor wasn’t happy about me being there. They argued and he wouldn’t see me. Loretta sure has a temper! I can see her goin’ into the saloon to confront Maggie.”

“So no job, huh?”

“Of course I got one. Mrs. Kirkpatrick is havin’ me do odd jobs for her, like movin’ stuff and workin’ in her garden.”

“Hmm…” Heyes rubbed his chin. “I was reading in one of those newspapers about her rose garden.”

“Dang roses! I got scratched up tryin’ to prune ‘em.”

“Kid Curry pruning roses.” Heyes smiled and then became serious again. “Does it seem like the Kirkpatricks own most of the town?”

“I haven’t noticed that. Why do you think that?”

“Just reading between the lines in the paper.”

“Like Plummer owned most of Wickenburg?”

“That’s what I’m thinking.” Heyes nodded in agreement. “So all we know now is that Maggie had an affair with the mayor and was confronted by Mrs. Kirkpatrick.”

“And that Maggie was gettin’ uppity, accordin’ to Mary.”

“That might be a reason for murder, but we have to have more evidence.”

“I have an idea...” The Kid stared at the line in the water. “You got one!”

“What?! OH…” Heyes jerked on the line and pulled up a fish.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry read the plaque in front of the house, “Doctor Morse, M.D.” He stepped on the porch and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” came a voice from inside the house.

Curry opened the door and removed his hat as he walked inside.

A middle-aged gentleman came towards him from a back room and offered his hand. “Doctor Morse. How can I help you?”

“I’m Thaddeus Jones. I have a few questions about a problem I had a couple of weeks ago.”

“Sure, sure, why don’t we have a seat in here?” The doctor ushered him into a parlor and the men sat across from each other in comfortable chairs. “You’re new in town, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I arrived a few days ago.”

“So tell me what kind of problems you were having.” The doctor sat back in his chair.

“Well, I was playin’ poker when I suddenly got really tired and couldn’t focus on the cards. I excused myself and when I stood up, I almost fell down. Kinda felt like I was drunk, but I only had one beer I had been nursin’ and a shot of whiskey.”

“Had you eaten at all that day? Maybe you were drinking on an empty stomach.”

“No, I had a good lunch of fried chicken in the café before that.”

“Hmm…” The doctor furrowed his brow and rubbed his chin. “Any other problems?”

Curry ran his hand through his hair. “I guess I passed out. When I came to, I had a really bad taste in my mouth and was really thirsty.”

“And how are you feeling now?”

“I feel good. It took a while to feel better, though. It wasn’t like no grippe I’ve had before, Doc. Do you think it’ll come back? Do you know what might be wrong with me?”

“Well, from what you said, I would say you were drugged.”

“Drugged?! Wouldn’t I know if someone was druggin’ me?”

Dr. Morse shook his head. “Not if they put it in your whiskey. The alcohol would have taken away the taste and enhanced the symptoms.”

“What kind drug would do that?”

“I’m going to guess that it was chloral hydrate.”

“Floral hydrate?” the Kid repeated.

“Chloral. C-h-l-o-r-a-l. Would you like me to write it down?”

Curry sighed. “Would you? I don’t think I’ll remember that.”

The doctor stood up and went to a table where he wrote on a piece of paper. He handed it to the Kid. “What I’d be trying to remember is WHY someone wanted to drug me. Did you have a lot of money? Was it taken?”

“I think I was missin’ some money when I woke up, now that you mention it.”

"I've heard of a few cases where saloon owners, or the girls working for them, have used chloral hydrate to drug men and rob them. Usually the victim is so disorientated when he wakes up that he’s not sure what happened to him.” The doctor glanced away and mumbled, “Kinda like Smith…”

“Like Smith?” Curry asked. “Ain’t he the murderer who escaped the day of the hangin’?”

“Yeah…” The doctor shook his head. “Was there anything else I could help you with?”

“No, sir.” The Kid stood up. “I think you answered all my questions. Appreciate it.”

“Any time, young man. Anytime,” the doctor said as he escorted him out the door.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Vivian sashayed down the stairs as she surveyed the saloon for her next customer. Seeing a man with a sheepskin jacket and a brown hat at the bar, she smiled and went over to him.

“Thaddeus,” she caressed his arm as she talked, “I was wonderin’ if you wanted to join me.”

He grinned and deliberately looked up the stairs and then back to her.

“Uh huh.” She continued to stroke his hand.

“Show me the way, Vivian.” The Kid swallowed the rest of his drink and followed her up stairs.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“I was hopin’ I’d see you tonight.” Curry kissed Vivian as they lay on her bed.

“You were?” Vivian reached over him to lower the wick of the lamp. “I sure was glad to see you waitin’ for me.”

“Vivian?”

“Hmmm…” She kissed his ear lobe.

“Where were you when Maggie was killed?” The Kid turned the lamp brighter.

“In my room.”

He rubbed her forearm. “Is your room next to Maggie’s?”

“Yes.” Vivian sat up. “Why do you ask?”

Curry shrugged his shoulder. “Just wonderin’… Did you hear anything?”

“Just the fight...” Vivian gulped and bit her lower lip. She quickly smiled seductively and ran her fingers up and down his chest. “You want to talk all night or do you want to...”

“There was a fight? Between Maggie and the drifter?”

“I don’t know who was fightin’.”

“Did you hear what it was about?”

Vivian looked down. “No.”

“Did you see anyone leave her room?”

“No!” Vivian said, agitated. “Why you askin’ all these questions about Maggie, again?”

“Not every day you hear of a murder like this.” Curry lowered the lamp light. “Just curious.” He put a finger under her chin and leaned forward for a deep kiss.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry tiptoed past the sleeping hotel clerk and crept up the staircase. He pulled the key out of his vest pocket, inserted it into the lock and opened the door. A gun cocked as he entered the dark room and he slowly raised his hands.

"Oh, it's just you." Heyes uncocked his gun, holstered it in his belt hanging from the bed post, and lay back down. “You’re out late.”

"Sheesh... What are you doin' here?!" The Kid looked out the window. "Did anyone see you come in?"

“Of course not.” Heyes put his hands behind his head. “I was bored out there with no one to talk to and tired of sleeping on the ground.”

Curry shook his head. “You could’ve been recognized and strung up! You’ve already been found guilty of murder.”

“That’s why I wore these over my clothes.” Heyes lifted up a pair of large bib overalls and a straw hat.

“You backslidin’, Heyes?” Curry sat on the chair and removed his boots.

“Nah, just borrowed them.” Heyes dropped the clothes on the floor and picked up a newspaper from the bed. “You didn’t tell me the Kirkpatricks have a son.”

“Didn’t know.” Curry took the proffered paper. “How did you find out?”

“On page four there’s a small article about him going on a trip.”

The Kid turned to the mentioned piece, quickly read it and looked up. “Do you think he did it?”

“Maybe.” Heyes shrugged his shoulders. “Did you find out anything today?”

“Sure did! Talked to the doc sayin’ I had symptoms while in another town. Told him exactly how you said you felt. He said it sounded like I was drugged.”

“So I was drugged! How? Did he say with what?” Heyes sat up.

Curry reached into a pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “He said he’s read of cases where saloon owners or the gals will put,” he read the paper, “chloral hydrate in a drink. Can’t taste it in whiskey and you feel like you’re drunk and will pass out.”

“Hmm… Maggie did give me a whiskey just before I started feeling’ sick. Said it was on the house. Let me see that.” Heyes reached out for the note.

The Kid handed it to him and took off his shirt. “Can I assume you were gamblin’ and winnin’ that night?”

Heyes knitted his brow together. “I don’t remember much of that night. Didn’t have much money on me when I was arrested.” A moment later. “So Maggie finds someone winning big, drugs them, and then robs them? And because they’re disorientated, they don’t remember how much they won so don’t know if they’ve been robbed or not.”

“Sounds like that could be the case, like the doctor said. Can’t imagine you losin’ to the men I’ve been playin’ poker with in this town.”

“So now we have to prove Maggie used chloral hydrate on me.”

“Oh, and get this, Vivian started to say she heard a fight in Maggie’s room, but then didn’t want to talk about it. When I asked her if she saw anybody, she hesitated before sayin’ no.”

“That sounds like she’s lying.”

“Yep.” Curry yawned as he pulled off his pants and crawled in bed wearing his long johns. “My guess is we might find somethin’ in the mayor’s house.”

“Maybe he has a safe there that we can…”

“He does; I saw him puttin’ a book in there while I was workin’ in the garden.”

“What are we waiting for? Get dressed. Let’s go over there.” Heyes started to stand.

“Now? Do you know how late it is? Or maybe I should say how early in the mornin’ it is, Heyes?”

“They’ll be sleeping.”

“They’ll be wakin’ up soon.”

“I know. I read in the paper that there’s a church dance that the whole town will be attending tomorrow.”

“You just stay up here all day and then we’ll break into their house then.” The Kid yawned and snuggled down under the covers. “I’m too tired…” A soft snore followed.

“Fine. We’ll do it your way – this time.” Heyes turned off the lamp and went to bed.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry smiled as Mary poured him another cup of coffee. “Breakfast sure was good, Mary.”

“Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.”

“I heard there is a dance tonight. Are you goin’ with someone?”

Mary blushed. “Hank’s taking me. Hank Page. He’s a lawyer in town.” Mary leaned forward and quietly said, “I’m hoping to be Mrs. Page someday. I’m mighty proud of him. He’s one of the few men that the mayor doesn’t own.”

“Doesn’t own?”

Mary looked around the café and seeing only one customer left still eating, she sat down. “Guess being a stranger in town, you don’t know,” she whispered. “Mayor Kirkpatrick owns most of the town and even has the sheriff in his backpocket. Hank’s one of the few who doesn’t bow to the mayor’s demands or look the other way on his dealings.”

The Kid leaned forward. “The mayor’s a crook?”

“Well, there’s no proof of it, of course, but I don’t doubt that he’s involved in shady dealings.” Mary glanced around again. “Speaking of the… Welcome, Mayor Kirkpatrick! Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Curry discreetly glanced at the man as he sat down, before Kirkpatrick opened up the newspaper.

“Yes, Mary, and a piece of pie to hold me over before lunch.”

“Your face and hands are scratched,” Mary commented as she poured the coffee.

“Yes…” the mayor hesitated a moment. “I got cut while pruning Loretta’s rose bushes.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes holstered his gun when he heard the familiar tap on the door.

The Kid quickly came in and shut the door, then threw a sandwich to his partner. “Got you somethin’ to eat while I was talkin’ to Mary.”

“Thanks!” Heyes sat down to eat it. “Learn anything today?”

“Yep, you’re right about Kirkpatrick ownin’ most of the town. Got to see him today when he came in for coffee and pie.” Curry stared out the window. “Heyes, he has scratches on his face and hands. Says it’s from prunin’ the roses.”

Heyes put his sandwich down. “Scratches… You cut the roses. Think they could be from someone trying to defend herself?”

“Yep.” The Kid sat down. “And I heard about someone who might be willin’ to help us.”

“Oh yeah? And who might that be?”

“A lawyer in town – Hank Page.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

A half moon cast eerie shadows as two men crouched behind brushes to the side of a house.

“His office is that corner one.” Curry pointed to the front right windows.

“Figures it would be in the front.”

“Everyone is at the dance; we should be okay. Let’s go.”

They quickly made their way to the side of the house and Heyes peered through the dimly-lit window. “No one’s in there.” Pulling out a small knife, he inserted it into the crack of the frame and soon had the lock moved. He silently opened the window and crept inside, followed closely by his partner. Curry shut the window and closed the drapes of all the windows as Heyes looked for the safe.

“It’s behind the paintin’ of the mountains,” the Kid hissed as he made his way to the desk, lit a lamp, and began looking through the stacks of papers.

Heyes nodded and swung the picture from the wall. Cocking his head, he placed an ear on the safe and began moving the dial.

The Kid was looking through the desk drawers when he heard a sigh and a click as the safe door opened.

Heyes grinned as he pulled out a black book with the word “Ledger” engraved on the front cover. “Maybe we can find some shady dealings Mary was suspecting the mayor of doing in here.”

“I found a receipt for a one-way train ticket to Cheyenne. Bought on the day you were arrested.”

“I bet that’s when the son left. Maybe he killed Maggie and the mayor is covering it up!”

Curry shook his head. “I dunno, Heyes. In this family picture, the son looks young, like he’s in his early teens.”

“Let me see.” Heyes brought the ledger to the desk. “Picture could have been taken several years ago, making him older now.”

“And maybe it’s a current picture.”

Heyes rifled through the ledger. “Mayor owns the saloon… There’s an entry for chloral hydrate in here! He’s buying it and having the gals rob the customers! Why that…”

“We’ve been here long enough, Heyes.” Curry barely moved the curtain to look outside. “Sounds like the dance at the church might be endin’ soon.”

“Okay.” Heyes ripped a page from the ledger and placed the book back in the safe. He pulled out an envelope with money and quickly counted it, placing $200 in his pocket.

The Kid turned around just in time to see Heyes take the money. “What are you doin’!? You are backslidin’!”

“No! It’s mine! I figure it’s the money Maggie stole from me before getting murdered.” Heyes closed the safe door. “I bet I won at least this much.”

“If you say so, Heyes.” The Kid followed his partner out of the window.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Curry entered a storefront office. “Mr. Page?”

“Yes, I am Hank Page,” acknowledged the man sitting behind a desk.

“I was wonderin’ if I could hire you for a certain job.”

“Depends what the job entails.”

“You hold to clients sayin’ anything without gettin’ in trouble with the law?”

“If I was hired, yes. It’s called an attorney-client privilege.”

“Another question – how old is the Kirkpatrick’s son?”

“Sean Kirpatrick? I bet he’s about fifteen years old by now. Why?”

“Then he’s too young and his folks just got him out of town,” Curry mumbled as he pulled out $100 and placed it on the desk. “Me and my partner are hirin’ you. Will that be enough?”

“And you are?”

“Thaddeus Jones.” Curry shook hands and then walked over to the window where he tipped his hat. “My partner will be here in a…”

A tap came from the back door.

“Here he is.” The Kid went to the door and let Heyes in. “This is my partner, Joshua Smith.”

Hank Page stood and backed up. “He’s the murderer who escaped!”

“No, I’m the man who was set up to appear to be the murderer,” Heyes said as he came near the desk. “We heard the mayor doesn’t own you. Is that true?”

“Why, yes,” Page said nervously as he sat down.

“Good! You can help get me off for the murder and we can help you expose the mayor.” Heyes and Curry sat on the chairs facing the lawyer. “Here’s how we’re goin’ to do it…”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Vivian nervously walked to a back table. “You wanted to see me, Mayor Kirkpatrick?”

“Yes. I heard Thaddeus Jones has been asking questions about Maggie’s unfortunate death.”

Vivian looked down, wringing her hands. “Yes, sir.”

“You will give him one of our famous drinks on the house and invite him to your room. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Kid Curry entered the saloon and walked over to Vivian. “Well, hello, pretty lady!”

“Howdy, handsome! Can I get you a drink?”

The Kid pulled a dime out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Sure!”

Harold, the bartender, winked as he gave her a whiskey.

“Here you go.” She handed him the glass.

Curry took a sip and then asked quietly, “You have a few minutes? I need to talk to you.”

Vivian nervously glanced back at Harold. “How about we go upstairs, after your drink?”

“Sounds good!” Curry drained his glass and then followed Vivian upstairs.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes paced the hotel room and grumbled, “Where in the heck are you? It shouldn’t take you this long to ask Vivian a few more questions.” He glanced out the window and saw Vivian running down an alleyway crying. “Dang it!” He grabbed his hat and rushed out of the door and down the back staircase.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Vivian ran behind the livery and then stopped abruptly as Heyes appeared around a corner. She gasped. “You…”

“Where’s my partner, Thaddeus Jones, Vivian?” Heyes growled.

“He’s… he’s…” She turned to run.

Heyes grasped her shoulders and made her face him. “Where is he? I know he went over to talk to you about Maggie’s death.”

“I… the mayor… drink…”

He shook her. “Vivian, did you give him one of those drinks to knock him out? Like the one Maggie gave me?”

She nodded as her knees gave out on her.

Heyes helped her to a stool. “Calm down, Vivian, I’m not going to hurt you. Tell me what happened to Thaddeus.”

“Mayor Kirkpatrick told me to give him a special drink because he was askin’ too many questions. I gave it to him and when he passed out, I ran. I didn’t want to be there when they showed up. I didn’t want to end up like Maggie!” Vivian began to sob.

“You didn’t want to be there when who showed up?”

She shrugged. “Whoever the mayor sends to get rid of your friend.”

“Is that what happened to Maggie? The mayor sent someone to get rid of her?”

Vivian shook her head. “The mayor came himself. I heard him fightin’ with Maggie, tellin’ her she had to leave. His wife wanted her out of town. She said she wanted money or she wouldn’t go. He was so angry! I saw him leave her room…” She placed her hands over her eyes. “He had her blood all over him! Said if I told anyone, I would be next.”

Heyes put his hand on her back. “Is Thaddeus in your room?”

She nodded.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

“Ohh…” groaned the Kid, as he held his stomach.

Heyes smiled. “You finally woke up!”

Curry tried to sit up, but fell back on the bed again. “Where are we?”

“We’re in Hank Page’s room.” Seeing a confused look from his partner, Heyes continued, “He’s the lawyer that’s helping us expose Mayor Kirkpatrick.”

“I know who he is, but why are we in his room?”

“Things didn’t go according to our plan. Vivian gave you a drink with chloral hydrate in it and you passed out. I was watching for you and looking out the window when I saw Vivian run out of the saloon. It turns out she heard the mayor kill Maggie and he was threatening her to keep her quiet. The bartender and the deputy were in on it too. They were about to dump you into a wagon and haul you outta town. I guess they thought another murder in one of the rooms over the saloon would look too suspicious. Page put them under citizen’s arrest and took them to the sheriff.

Curry sat up and rubbed his forehead. “Is the sheriff going to do anything about the mayor?”

“Page thinks he will. Vivian is going to testify and the bartender and deputy want make a deal to tell everything they know about the mayor. With all of that going on, nobody will notice if two drifters slip away. Page is getting our stuff from the hotel and then will bring horses to the back door. Can you ride?”

“Like you’ve told me, you worry about stayin’ on your horse…” Curry began.

“And I’ll worry about staying on mine,” they said in unison.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Hank Page glanced around the saloon and smiled when he saw Vivian. He walked over to her. “Can we talk?”

Vivian looked at the new bartender who nodded at her. “Sure. Is this table all right? Can I get you a drink?”

“This table is fine and no drink for me, this time. I’m here on official business.”

They sat down at a corner table.

“Vivian, I want to thank you for coming out and testifying against Mayor Kirkpatrick. That was very brave of you! He won’t be controlling Cedar Flats or its citizens anymore.” Page handed her an envelope. “I was asked to give this to you after everything was over.”

Vivian opened the envelope and gasped as she pulled out $100 and a note:

   Maggie never got her second chance in life. She would have wanted you to make the best of yours. -
   Smith & Jones

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Heyes and Curry were sitting in a saloon playing poker when a saloon gal sashayed her way over. She handed them both shots of whiskey. “It’s on the house,” she said with a smile.

“A drink? On the house?” Heyes confirmed and she nodded her head.

The Kid and Heyes glanced at each other just before picking up their winnings. “That’s okay, we were just leavin’,” Curry said as he stood up.

"Yeah, thanks, but no thanks," Heyes said without any regret, following his partner out the bat-wing doors.





(Writers love feedback! You can let Penski know how you enjoyed the story with a quick comment. Just Post Reply to the Comments for The Murder of Maggie Green thread below the story.)

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