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 Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy

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PostGoing Through the Motions by Maz McCoy



When gold panning proves nonproductive, Heyes and Curry are forced to explore other avenues.


Starring

Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry


Co-Starring


Sam Jaffe as Soapy


R. G. Armstrong as Hampton


L. Q. Jones as Victor


Glenn Corbett as Sheriff Hobbly


Jon Conley as Henry Stamp


Ralph Waite as Carter


Margo Martindale as Wendy


James Brolin as Doctor Pain


Going through the Motions
by Maz McCoy



The study, Soapy’s mansion in San Francisco

“Five diamonds,” Soapy stated as he placed five roughly cut rocks on the table in front of him. Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes, dressed in their best, if ill-fitting, suits studied them and smiled. Heyes reached out a hand to pick them up but Soapy covered the diamonds before he could touch them. “You’re sure this won’t get you into trouble?”

“We’re sure, Soapy,” Heyes assured him. “Besides, we’ve done this before.”

“And you know each mark is different. You can’t afford to relax,” the older man advised.

“We won’t,” the Kid stated, confidently.

“We owe Big Mac.” Heyes exchanged a look with his partner. “We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for him.”

“All right.” Soapy removed his hand and Heyes picked up the stones and placed them into the small velvet bag Soapy had provided. “I’ll need them back before the end of the month,” the older man reminded them.

“You’ll get them,” the Kid reassured him.

***

A field, out West, outside the town of Newton

A middle-aged man with greying hair and wearing a smart black suit and hat stood in the middle of a clearing in an area of temperate woodland. The sun cast shadows through the trees and across the boulders that lay scattered around him. The man’s eyes scoured the ground, clearly searching for something. Suddenly, he lit upon an object lying at the base of a watermelon-sized rock. Excitedly, he bent down and picked it up. He studied it and a smile spread slowly across his face. Turning, he called to another man, equally well-attired, if stouter in appearance, who stood several feet away. “Mister Hampton!”

Hampton looked up. “Have you found something, Victor?”

Victor held up a small rock between his thumb and forefinger. The rock caught the sunlight and sparkled. Victor smiled. “Diamonds.”

Mister Hampton yelped in delight and ran to Victor’s side. Both men studied the discovery. Both men beamed. Hampton embraced Victor in a bear hug, startling the other man, and then they began to dance around in delight.

Several feet away, leaning against a buggy, Hannibal Heyes smiled. “It warms your heart, don’t it?”

Beside him, Kid Curry turned his head, raising his eyebrows in query.

“Seeing two greedy men dancing in a salted diamond field,” Heyes clarified.

“It sure does Joshua, it sure does.”


Cue familiar music and opening credits.



***


A hotel room in the town of Newton


Nimble fingers spread five glistening diamonds on a wooden table. Hannibal Heyes sat back in his chair in the hotel room and smiled as he studied the gems.

“You are gonna return those to Soapy, ain’tcha?” the Kid queried. He stood by the window watching the comings and goings of the townsfolk in the street but turned momentarily to watch his enamored friend.

“Of course I am.”

“I jus’…”

“Just what?” Heyes looked up at the Kid.

“Just recognize that glint in your eye as you look at them stones.”

Heyes smiled. “They are pretty.” Picking them up, he rolled them in the palm of his left hand. “Beautiful, simply beautiful.”

“Big Mac better be grateful,” the Kid grumbled.

“Big Mac’s always grateful.”

“Yeah, until the next time.” The Kid’s eyes returned to the street.

“You’re getting real cynical in your old age, Kid, you know that?”

“Realistic’s the word I’d use.”

Heyes smiled and returned his attention to the gems in his hand. “Five tiny pieces of rock. Tiny precious gems. So small they fit in the palm of your hand and yet big enough to get Hampton to hand over Mac’s money and more.” As Heyes spoke, the Kid continued to watch the street.

“Assumin’ Mac was tellin’ the truth and Hampton did swindle Carlotta out of her family heirlooms.”

“From what we’ve seen of his business dealings I’m sure he did. Hampton paid her nothing compared to what those jewels were worth.”

“I still don’t understand why he asked us to get his money back.”

Heyes smiled. “I guess he trusts us.”

The Kid laughed. “In that case, I think we just did a good deed.” He smiled as he moved the lace curtain slightly, allowing himself a better view.

“I reckon you’re right, Kid. I reckon we did something good today. Warms your heart, don’t it.”

The Kid frowned as two familiar figures in suits crossed the street from the telegraph office.

Heyes continued to talk. “You know they’re made of carbon?”

The two men entered the sheriff’s office. The Kid’s brow furrowed. “Hmm.”

“Yep, the same stuff as you get burning a log makes up these precious stones. Isn’t that amazing?”

The Kid’s eyes narrowed. “Uh huh.”

“They lay hidden in the ground for millions of years.”

The men reappeared and the sheriff accompanied them. “Hmm.”

“Then someone kicks over a rock or digs a hole in the ground…” Heyes held the stones up and the light caught them.

The three men crossed the street towards the hotel.

“Heyes.”

“He wields an axe and a diamond locked up in the earth for generations…”

The men stopped in the street and Hampton pointed up at the very window the Kid stood by. He moved away, hoping they hadn’t seen him.

“…Tumbles into the world, capturing the light of day in all its glory.”

They stepped onto the boardwalk. The Kid’s hand rested on the butt of his gun as his partner continued to wax poetical. “Heyes.”

“Soon it’s draped around a delicate woman’s neck and dangles between her…”

“Heyes, we got trouble.”

Heyes was on his feet and swiftly at the Kid’s side. “What?” He peered out of the window.

“Our friends are on their way with the sheriff.” The Kid pointed to the diamonds now scattered on the table. “You’d best get them outta sight fast.”


***

In the lobby of the Newton hotel, adorned with a potted aspidistra, an oil painting of a sweeping prairie and a worn leather chaise longue, the sheriff, Mister Hampton and Victor strode up to the reception desk. Sheriff Hobbly hit the bell on the desk with more force than was necessary to make it ‘ting’. Ronald Flowers, the desk clerk, appeared from a back room and looked taken aback when he saw who waited for him. “What can I do for you, Sheriff?”

“Two men name of Smith and Jones got a room here?” the lawman asked.

“Yes, Room 5, at the front of the hotel.”

“They ask you to put anything in the safe for them?”

“No.”

“No packet? Envelope? Small bag?”

“No, Sheriff. Nothing.”

This appeared to satisfy Hobbly. “Room 5 you say?”

“Yes.” Flowers nodded.

The sheriff strode purposefully towards the stairs, with Hampton and Victor hot on his tail. An elderly couple watched them as they passed by.


***

In their bedroom, Hannibal Heyes crawled on all fours as he frantically gathered up the diamonds he had just knocked off the table. He picked up one from the carpet, then a second as the Kid stood with his gun in his right hand, his left ear pressed against the door.

Heyes spotted a third diamond under a chair, grabbed it and blew the fluff off. The fourth lay beside his boots and the fifth… Heyes searched for the fifth diamond.

“Heyes!” the Kid hissed and pointed to a sparkling stone lying at the foot of the bed. Heyes picked it up and shoved them all in his vest pocket.


***

In a corridor of the hotel, the sheriff, Mister Hampton and Victor stopped outside a room.

“Well?” Hampton demanded.

“I know what to do, Mister Hampton,” the sheriff informed him as he adjusted his hat, then hiked up his gun belt.

“Then get on with it.”

The sheriff appeared to count to ten in his head before looking away from Hampton and turning his attention to the door. He braced himself, then pounded on the door with his fist.


***

“Heyes!” the Kid hissed as he stood by the bedroom door, hand on the doorknob, gun in his right hand, as the pounding continued.

Hannibal Heyes had his back to his friend as his hand fumbled in his vest pocket. “Almmmight,” he mumbled and the Kid opened the door.

“Sheriff,” the Kid said with a smile and the lawman pushed past him. Victor and Hampton followed him into the room. “Gentlemen.”

“These are the men, Sheriff,” Hampton stated, waving a hand in the partners’ general direction. “If you search this room, I’m sure you’ll find the diamonds, both cut and uncut. There is no field!”

The Kid shot a glance at Heyes but his usually silver-tongued friend was uncharacteristically reticent. It looked like it was up to him to say something. “I don’t know what they’re talkin’ about, Sheriff.”

“These men tell me you sold them some land claiming it was a diamond field. They claim you salted the ground with uncut diamonds.”

The Kid laughed. “We don’t own any land so how could we sell it?” He shot his silent partner a look. Heyes looked pained and then he swallowed. The Kid sighed. “Do we look like men who can afford diamonds?”

Hobbly studied the blond man then turned his attention to the quiet dark-haired fella. “I have to admit I did wonder.”

“Sheriff!” Hampton interjected.

“Mister Hampton, right now all I got is your word against theirs.”

“Then I demand you search the room!” Hampton commanded.

The sheriff’s eyes narrowed. “It’s not wise to go demanding things of me, Mister Hampton,” he warned. “But,” he looked from the Kid to Heyes. “I guess it’s the only way to sort this out, seeing as the desk clerk told me you boys don’t have anything stored in his safe.”

“Make it a thorough search!” Hampton demanded and the sheriff shot him a look.

“You and your friend should wait outside.”

“I don’t think we…” Hampton began.

“That wasn’t a suggestion,” the lawman informed him. Victor and his boss left the room and Hobbly turned to the Kid and Heyes. “I’m gonna hafta search your things, fellas. I hope you understand.” The Kid looked at Heyes and he nodded. “Then I’ll need to search you.”

“Sheriff…”

The lawman held up a hand. “Which one are you? Smith or Jones?”

“Jones.”

“All right, Jones, here’s how it’s gonna be. You boys’ll turn out all your stuff on the bed and you’ll throw your clothes right on top of it.”

“What?” Heyes finally spoke.

“You heard me. Strip!”

The Kid and Heyes exchanged a pained look.


***

Hampton and Victor waited in the hotel corridor. Hampton paced up and down on the worn carpet runner, but Victor leaned casually against the wall beside another flourishing aspidistra.

“What’s taking him so long?” Hampton growled.

“Guess he’s doing a thorough search like you asked.”

“He’d better be.”

Suddenly the door opened.

“I’m sorry to have bothered you gentlemen,” Sheriff Hobbly said as he stepped into the hallway. Behind him, Heyes could be seen tucking his shirt into his pants. The Kid, seated, was pulling on a boot. The sheriff turned his attention to Hampton. “I didn’t find any diamonds.” He headed down the corridor.

“Is that it?” Hampton asked, following him down the stairs.

The sheriff stopped halfway down, clearly annoyed at having his authority questioned. “Like I said, I got your word, I got their word. You say they have diamonds. I didn’t find any diamonds. Unless you have something else, Mister Hampton, my investigation is over.” His eyes met Hampton’s, almost daring him to disagree.

“What about the paperwork?” Hampton persisted. “You saw that. It distinctly states that I have purchased…”

The sheriff held up a hand to stop him. “Mister Smith tells me you approached him with a deed for a diamond field, but he rejected it.”

“HE WHAT?” Hampton’s face turned red with indignation at this disclosure.

“You heard. Like I said, I got your word, I got theirs.” The sheriff touched the brim of his hat in goodbye then continued down the stairs.

“What d’you want to do now?” Victor asked.

Hampton’s shoulders dropped. “I don’t know. They have those diamonds on them; I know it. And I have a gut feeling McCreedy’s involved in this somehow.”

“Then maybe we should go see him?”

“No, Victor, I want you to watch these two like a hawk, do you understand?”

“Yes, Mister Hampton. Like a hawk.”


***

Heyes breathed a sigh of relief as he closed and locked the door. “That was close.” He picked up his vest off the pile of clothes lying on the bed.

“That was humiliating,” the Kid grumbled.

“Just be glad he didn’t find anything.” He shrugged on the vest.

“I’d rather he hadn’t looked.” The Kid shifted uncomfortably. “Where did you hide them?” He grabbed a handful of clothes and shoved them in his saddle bags.

“Somewhere safe.”

The Kid looked around the room. “Where?” He looked back at his friend when Heyes didn’t reply.

“Right now?” Heyes pointed to his stomach. “About here.”

The Kid’s eyes narrowed, clearly putting two and two together fast. “You swallowed them?”

“I didn’t see anywhere else to hide them.”

“All five?” the Kid asked incredulously.

“Yeah.” Heyes didn’t look too happy about it. In fact, it was beginning to feel less like a good idea. He held his stomach as if it caused him some discomfort.

The Kid screwed up his nose. “How long before you reckon we’ll see ‘em again?”


***

“You want me to get a what?” the Kid asked as he strapped on his gun belt later that day.

“A chamber pot.” Heyes sat on the edge of the bed pressing his stomach experimentally.

“Why don’t you use the one under the bed?”

“Because I am going to hafta…”

“Hafta what?”

“Search through it, what else?”

The Kid’s nose wrinkled in disgust. “I still don’t see why you want…”

“I am going to ride out somewhere quiet and attend to things there. Is that okay by you?” The Kid nodded. “If I take the chamber pot from under the bed, the maid might see it’s missing. I don’t want anyone asking awkward questions. Got it?”

The Kid nodded once more. Then a thought appeared to cross his mind. “What sort of questions?”


***

When someone knocked twice on the bedroom door, Hannibal Heyes got up from the bed, removed his gun from the holster hanging off the bed post and stood beside the door. “Who is it?”

“Me.”

Heyes opened the door. “Did you get one?” he asked as the Kid entered the room.

“Not exactly.” The Kid held up a metal dish, the sort you’d go panning for gold with.

“What the heck..?”

“It’s all I could get.”

“In a general store? They didn’t have chamber pots?”

The Kid looked sheepish. “They did, I just…I didn’t like askin’ for one. They all had flowers on ‘em or fancy words and stuff. Why’d they hafta have words on ‘em? And poetry. What’s with the poetry? I mean you’re jus’ gonna pi….”

“I know what you do in it! That don’t explain this!” Heyes grabbed hold of the gold pan.

“I thought after you’ve…You know…You could sort of swish it around and…”

“STOP!” Heyes held up a hand. “I am not gonna discuss this with you.”


***

A riverbank, some distance from town

“Anything?” the Kid called over his shoulder as he leaned in the afternoon sunlight against a tree.

From somewhere in the thicket beside a gently flowing river, Hannibal Heyes’ voice called back, “Nothing yet!”

The Kid drew his gun then dropped it back in his holster. He drew again a fraction faster. He twirled it several times then dropped it neatly into the holster once more. “Did you eat those figs I gotcha?”

“Yes,” came the reply.

“Doin’ any good?”

“Shut up!”

“Sheesh, Heyes, no need to get proddy.”

The bushes rustled and Heyes emerged carrying the gold pan. “How’s a man supposed to concentrate when his partner’s so darn gabby all of a sudden?”

“That one of them rhetorical questions?”

“Yes!”

The Kid followed Heyes to where their horses stood drinking on the riverbank. “What are we gonna do now?”

Heyes turned and looked the Kid in the eye. “We? We? I am going to go back to the hotel and wait for…” He searched for the right word. “Things to start moving.”

“Then you gonna ride all the way out here just to…”

A glare stopped him. “I am going to get some prunes and hot coffee.”

“Why don’t I ride into town and get them? That way if things start movin’ before I get back you can – pan for diamonds instead of gold.” He grinned. Two brown eyes narrowed; clearly the joke was not shared by all. “Well, sheesh, Heyes, I didn’t tell you to swallow them!” The Kid grabbed hold of the saddle horn and pulled himself into the saddle.


***

The general store in Newton

Kid Curry stood at the counter of the general store as the owner, Henry Stamp, added up the cost of his purchases.

“One can of prunes, two packets of coffee, two boxes of bullets…” Stamp scribbled in pencil on a note pad as he worked his way through the Kid’s order and then announced the total. The Kid reached into his vest pocket for some coins, paid the man, picked up his goods and exited the store. Once the door closed behind him, the owner beckoned another shorter man towards the counter. They spoke in hushed tones. Stamp pointed to where the Kid could be seen climbing into his saddle. Then he pointed to something in his shop and a thoughtful expression appeared on the other man’s face. Both men nodded.

As Kid Curry rode out of town, the man Henry Stamp had spoken to could be seen crossing the street carrying a gold pan under his arm.

In the shadows of an alley beside the general store, Victor stood watching.


***

The riverbank outside of town

“Anything?” the Kid called over his shoulder as he leaned against the same tree as before in the early evening sunlight.

From somewhere in the thicket beside the gently flowing river Heyes called back, “No!”

“You ate all the prunes, right?”

“Yes!”

“And you drank two cups of coffee?”

“YES! You saw me.”

“Well, sheesh, I thought you woulda gone by now!”

The bushes rustled and Heyes appeared once more carrying a clean gold pan and adjusting his pants. “Well, I am sorry to disappoint you! I guess I just have a highly efficient digestive system determined to get every last drop of nutrients from my food.” He huffed as he sat down under the tree and leaned back against the trunk.

The Kid lowered himself beside his friend. “Don’t imagine there’s much nutrients in diamonds.” Heyes closed his eyes, too exhausted to argue. “What about castor oil?”

“What about it?” the dark-haired outlaw asked halfheartedly.

“When we were kids, don’t you remember them tellin’ us that castor oil was good for us? They sure made us drink enough.”

“I remember.”

“Well, one of them things it was good for was – you know.”

Heyes turned to watch the Kid, squirming as he talked about – you know. “No. I don’t know. What you talking about?”

“You know – goin’.”

“Going?”

“Yeah.” The Kid turned his head and met Heyes’ grin. It seemed there was something to smile about in the situation after all.

“Going where?”

“You know what I’m talkin’ about, Heyes.”

“Not sure I do, Kid. Where would I be going?”

Blue eyes met brown ones. “You know what I mean. Do you want me to get some castor oil or not?”

Heyes smiled. “I guess it can’t hurt to try.”

“Never havin’ passed five diamonds before I wouldn’t know about that.” The Kid smiled as he got to his feet and headed towards his horse.


***

Newton

When Kid Curry rode into town later that evening, Henry Stamp was standing on the boardwalk outside his store sweeping the dust into the street with a besom broom. He beckoned to another man as the Kid approached, and lifted his chin in the horse rider’s direction. The man nodded. The Kid pulled his horse to a halt in front of the store, climbed down from the saddle and mounted the three steps onto the boardwalk.

“Back again I see,” Stamp said real friendly-like.

“I forgot something,” the Kid informed him stopping in front of the store. “You still open?”

“I was thinking about closing up but, come on in. Have any luck?” the store owner asked as the Kid followed him inside.

The Kid stopped in his tracks and shot the man an enquiring glance. “Luck?”

“I know what you’re looking for,” Stamp informed him, keeping his voice conspiratorial so no one else would hear.

“You do?” A Curry eyebrow rose.

“Yes, but don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

“That’s good to know.” The Kid approached the counter.

“I’ll admit there are some folk in town who’d like a cut of what you got.”

“They would?” The Kid’s hand rested casually on his gun.

Stamp noticed this and quickly added, “Yes, but don’t worry. Like I said, your secret’s safe.”

“Good,” the Kid stated bluntly.

“So what can I get you?”

“Castor oil, the biggest bottle you got.”

“Got something stuck?”

“You could say that.”

Stamp went to find the oil. The Kid looked around the store as he waited and found the man who’d been on the porch with the store owner grinning at him from behind a stack of metal buckets. “Howdy.”

“Howdy,” the man replied. “Name’s Carter.”

“Nice to meetcha.”

“You tried blastin’ it out?” Carter asked.

“What?”

“A small amount of blastin’ powder. You don’t want to create a big boom but it’ll shift anything enough for you to sort through.”

The Kid’s mouth fell open. “Blastin’ powder?”

“Yeah. I heard you were trying to shift…you know.” He winked.

“You heard, huh?” He shot a look in Stamp’s direction.

“Yeah and you should try it. Blastin’ powder. Darn sight better than castor oil!” Carter laughed at his own joke and before the Kid could respond Henry Stamp returned, holding a pint bottle of the elixir. The Kid paid for it, shot a querulous look at Carter and quickly left the store.

As Kid Curry rode out of town, Carter and Stamp stood on the boardwalk in front of the store, each man holding a gold pan under his arm.

“One of us should follow him,” Carter stated.

“I can’t, I got the store to close,” Stamp replied.

“I gotta get home ‘afor the missus comes searchin’.”

“He can’t have gone too far, seeing how many times he’s been back here.”

“Reckon he’ll be back tomorrow?”

“Wouldn’t be surprised,” the store owner replied.

“I’ll come back tomorrow then.”

They stood for a moment longer watching Kid Curry ride into the distance, unaware that Victor, too, had been watching the blond man’s exit from town.


***

Room 5, the Newton Hotel

The sound of retching woke the Kid. The lamp was burning. He opened one eye and squinted at the dark-haired shape in the corner of the hotel room throwing up in the wash basin.

“What are you doin’?” the Kid asked, sleepily.

“Wassit look like?” came the rasped reply from his partner.

“Yokay?” the Kid asked his partner’s back.

“No.” More retching followed.

The Kid threw back the blanket and swung his legs out of bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed in his union suit bottoms, he ran a hand through his hair as he yawned. “You sick?”

“Stop askin’ stupid questions.” More retching from the shape over the bowl.

The Kid frowned. “Reckon it’s the castor oil?”

“Castor oil, prunes, coffee. I feel terri...” More retching.

The Kid stood up and shot his friend a concerned look. “Anything I can get ya?”

“No. You’ve got me enough.”

“It wasn’t meant to come up this way.”

“I know.” Heyes took a deep breath. He looked at his friend, his face pale. He wiped a hand across his mouth. “We got any water?”

“Sure.” The Kid went to the table and poured a glass from a tall jug, then held it out to Heyes.

Heyes took it with a mumbled, “Thanks.”

“Maybe we should forget about helping things along? Maybe you should see the doctor.”

“Let’s see what happens tomorrow.” Heyes sank down on the edge of his bed. He looked exhausted. “Seemed like a good idea at the time to swallow them.”

The Kid watched him, clearly worried about his friend. “It got us outta trouble, Heyes.”

“Yeah.” He scooted up the bed and, lying flat, closed his eyes. “Yeah, I guess it did.”


***

The riverbank outside of Newton

“Heyes?” the Kid called over his shoulder as he leaned against the same tree the next morning. The horses grazed a few feet away, apparently content. “You okay?”

From somewhere in the thicket, that sat beside the river that continued to flow gently, Heyes called back, “Shut up!”

“Just askin’.”

“Well, don’t.” There was a moment of strained silence. “Oh, wait… I think…Kid!”

“What?”

“Two!”

“Two?” The Kid pushed off the tree.

“Yeah.”

The Kid smiled and scratched the back of his neck. Then his expression changed and he looked uncomfortable. “Is that a number or a description?”

“What?”

“Two what, Heyes?”

“Two diamonds!”

The Kid grinned. “Grandma Curry was right after all. Castor oil did the trick, huh?” He thought for a moment, then added, “You’re gonna wash them right?”

“Of course I’m gonna wash them!” There was a pause, and then a strained voice announced, “Three!”

“Heyes, I don’t need a runnin’ commentary, just come on out when you got ‘em all, okay?”

“Okay, sure ain’t easy.”

“I don’t need to know, Heyes.”

“Just want you to know I’m not exactly enjoying this.”

“Good thing they’re movin’ or I mighta hadta use blastin’ powder.” The Kid grinned.

“What?” came the reply.


***

“What do you mean you only got four?” the Kid asked as he looked at the diamonds, now thankfully washed clean, that lay in Heyes’ open palm. The men stood beside the tree.

Heyes looked queasy. “What do you think I mean? Only four came out! You can count ‘em, can’t you? Here.” He went to tip the diamonds into the Kid’s hand.

The Kid swiftly pulled his hand away. “I ain’t touchin’ ‘em!”

“If I hadta swallow them, you can darn well touch them!”

“Heyes, I know where they’ve been and I am not touchin’ them.”

The dark-haired man leaned against the tree. “Guess I don’t blame ya.”

The Kid looked at the four gems. “We hafta give Soapy five.”

“I know we hafta give him five.”

“So where’s the other one?”

“Where do you think the other one is?” Heyes looked incredulously at his friend.

“I mean, why hasn’t it come out?”

“I don’t know.”

“How hard did you push?”

Heyes glared at his partner. “Hard enough!”

The Kid considered this. “So what are we gonna do?”

“Wait.”

“Heyes, we can’t afford to stay in this town. Hampton’s gonna come up with something the sheriff can use against us, I’ve seen Victor watching me and…” The Kid looked away.

“And what?” Heyes eyed his friend suspiciously.

The Kid looked a little sheepish. “I think I may have started a gold rush.”

“You what?”


***

A dusty trail some miles from Newton

“You okay?” Kid Curry asked that afternoon, as he rode to the right and a little behind his partner along a well-worn and dusty road.

Heyes shifted in the saddle but did not reply.

“Heyes?”

“What?”

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.” He shifted again. Clearly he was not fine.

“Why d’you keep fidgetin’?”

Heyes pulled his horse to a halt and the Kid came alongside. “Why do you think I keep fidgeting?” he snapped.

“I don’t know; that’s why I asked.”

“Think about it.”

“I have been thinkin’ about it.”

“Then use that brain cell a bit harder.” Heyes wasn’t wearing his friendly face.

“Heyes, I was just ask’...Oh.” Realization hit the Kid. Heyes raised a knowing eyebrow. “Kinda uncomfortable huh?”

“A bit.”

“Wanna stop and rest a while? Maybe take your pan behind a bush.”

“No, I don’t need to stop. I need you to stop. Stop asking me if I’m all right and stop suggesting ways to get the diamond to move.” He kicked his horse forward.

The Kid patted his horse’s neck and watched Heyes’ back. Heck, that’s what he did best.


***

In the light of a glowing campfire

The campfire crackled and snapped. Kid Curry sat crossed-legged, bathed in the amber glow of the flames. He balanced a metal plate on one knee as he scooped a spoonful of beans into his mouth. On the other side of the campfire, Hannibal Heyes sat leaning with his back against a boulder, sipping a cup of steaming coffee.

“You sure you don’t want anything to eat?” the Kid asked.

“I’m sure,” Heyes said somewhat sulkily.

The Kid seemed oblivious of his partner’s mood as he scooped more beans from the pot that hung above the fire. Heyes rested a hand on his clearly uncomfortable stomach and grimaced. The Kid shoved more beans into his mouth and eyed Heyes over his spoon.

“Stop watching me,” Heyes snapped.

“I’m just concerned for ya.”

“Well, don’t be. I knew what I was doing when I swallowed them.” Eyebrows rose above blue eyes. “All right; maybe I didn’t, but it’s done now and I just gotta wait for the darn thing to pass.”

The Kid shoved more beans into his mouth and said nothing.

“Maybe I will have some beans,” his partner said as he reached for the spoon sticking out of the pot.


***

Squatter’s Rest

Two days later, the boys rode into the town of the prophetically named Squatter’s Rest. They slowed as they rode by the sheriff’s office and exchanged a look after seeing the name written on the sign above the door. Nope, they didn’t recognize the lawman. They pulled their horses to a halt in front of the hotel and when each man climbed from the saddle, he gave an audible groan. Dust covered their clothes and two days’ stubble grew on their chins. They stepped onto the boardwalk and scanned the faces of the passersby. No sign that anyone recognized them, either. They headed into the hotel.

The desk clerk was a middle-aged, well-endowed woman with masses of brown hair piled up on top of her head and held in place with a series of pins and feathers. She smiled when she saw the two handsome men striding towards her, brushed a stray strand of hair out of her eyes and plumped up her attributes.

“Good mornin’, fellas. Please tell me there’s something I can do for you boys.”

They smiled as they reached the desk and each man leaned an elbow on the counter.

“We’d like a room, at the front of the hotel if possible,” Heyes informed her as he turned on the charm.

“I have a room that I think’d suit you fine. Two big beds, clean sheets and a view of Main Street that’ll set your hearts a flutter.” She met Heyes’ brown eyes and he smiled back.

“That sounds good.”

She leaned closer giving Heyes the full benefit of her…benefits. “Name’s Wendy.” She held out her hand.

Heyes took it in his. “Joshua.”

“Charmed. I get off at six.”

“Imagine that.”

“I usually hafta eat alone.”

“That is no way for a woman to spend her evening.”

“I’m glad you appreciate that. I prefer a man’s company.”

The Kid stood and watched them, then rolled his eyes. He coughed. “Is there a doctor in town?” he asked.

As if suddenly remembering he was there, Wendy turned to look at the Kid. She still hung on to Heyes’ hand. “You have pretty blue eyes.”

“Thank you.” The Kid almost blushed. Heyes tried hard to suppress a smile. “A doctor?” the Kid prompted.

“Oh my, don’t tell me you boys are hurt? Cos’ if you are I am an excellent nurse. I can tend you in ways you wouldn’t believe.”

“Oh, we’d believe,” Heyes informed her and she smiled, tightening her grip.

“Is there?” the Kid persisted. “A doctor?”

“Doctor Pane has an office just down the street.”

“Doctor Pain?” the Kid queried.

“Yeah. Funny, huh?”

“Hilarious,” Heyes muttered unenthusiastically as he extracted himself from Wendy’s hand.

“The doctor has very skillful hands,” she informed them, knowledgably. “As do I.”

“Sounds like just the man we need,” the Kid remarked as he placed an encouraging hand on Heyes’ shoulder. “Come on, Joshua; let’s drop our bags in the room then go find the doc.”

“Y’all come back to me if he can’t help ya. Six, remember.”

“I remember,” Heyes called over his shoulder as they headed for the stairs.


***

Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes stood on the boardwalk outside the doctor’s office and looked at the name printed on the glass.

“Labor Pane,” the Kid read aloud. “It has to be a joke.”

“Why don’t I find it funny?” Heyes asked as he turned the door knob.


***

“Doctor Pane, La’bor Pane,” the young blond medic said as he shook first Heyes’ and then the Kid’s hand. “I know. A doctor named Pane; and Labor Pane at that. Except it’s La’bor. My mother was French. Came from New Orleans.” The young man stopped wittering and smiled at the partners. They stood in his office, hats in their hands, surrounded by all manner of bottles, potions and jars. The walls were adorned with a variety of posters, some showing parts of the body, others warning of the dangers of alcohol and the symptoms associated with certain recreational diseases. The Kid turned his head to one side as he studied one particular poster in which a smiling couple was…What the heck? He suddenly blushed and turned quickly away. Sheesh, were they allowed to show that stuff? Heyes rolled his eyes at his partner.

“So, what can I do for you gentlemen,” the doctor asked.

“My partner has a…” The Kid looked to Heyes.

“I have something that needs…shifting,” Heyes stated.

The doctor looked bemused. “I think you’ll have to be more specific.” Heyes looked uncomfortable. “If it’s of a personal nature you needn’t be embarrassed. I am a doctor after all and believe me after three years out here I doubt there’s any complaint a man could walk through the door with that I haven’t seen before.”

“Don’t bet on it,” the Kid mumbled.

“Perhaps it would be better if we talked in private?” Doctor Pane pointed to his examining room.


***

The examination room door opened a few minutes later and Kid Curry, seated in a hard wooden chair, got quickly to his feet. “What did he say?” the Kid asked when Heyes appeared. His partner was reluctant to reply. “Heyes?” the Kid asked in a whisper.

“Let’s go back to the hotel.”

“Is it serious?”

“Let’s just go.”

The Kid could do no more than follow his friend out of the door, across the street and into the hotel. A quick glance told them that the luscious Wendy was not at the desk, for which Heyes appeared grateful. They walked swiftly across the lobby and up the stairs.


***

Hotel room, Squatter’s Rest

Hannibal Heyes sat on the edge of the bed closest to the window. Standing by the window the Kid waited, allowing his partner to say what he had to in his own time. Heyes gave a sigh. “He wanted to know if I’d had an enema,” he stated.

The Kid scoffed. “Sheesh, you got lots.”

“What?”

“Enemies. You got lots of enemies. I can think of at least three right off and Wheat sure wasn’t your best friend, either. I reckon Hampton would happily put his name down on that list, too.”

Heyes took a deep breath as if mentally counting to ten. When he spoke, it was with strained patience. “Not enemies, en-e-ma.”

“What’s an enema?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Yes, I do. That’s why I asked!” The Kid was clearly confused.

“Well, I’m not tellin’ ya!”

“Why?”

“Cos’ I gotta have one!” Heyes stood up and began to pace.

The Kid watched him, knowing this wasn’t good. “Well, if you gotta have one, I should know what it is.”

Heyes stopped pacing. He looked at the Kid. He began pacing again.

“Is it serious, Heyes?”

Two brown eyes studied the Kid. “You know that arroyo back at Devil’s Hole that was dry all summer long and then when the first rains came it was filled with a torrent of water?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Well, an enema’s like that.”

The Kid’s eyes narrowed as he thought. “The doctor wants to flood your arroyo?”

“You could say that.”

“How’s a wash gonna shift the diamond?”

“Depends where you wash.”

The Kid considered this. He looked at Heyes. He thought. His brow furrowed. He looked back at Heyes. “Are we talking about your…?” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

“Yes.”

“Well, how’s he gonna…?”

“With a tube.”

Blue eyes narrowed and a brow furrowed deeper below blond curls. “Where does he…?”

“Where do you think?” Heyes snapped.

“You mean he has to insert…?”

“Yes.”

The Kid screwed up his nose. “And the flood…?”

“Yes.”

“What with?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, in the arroyo it’s rainwater. I don’t suppose he’d use that ‘cos for one thing it ain’t rained in these parts for a month. So what’s he gonna use for a flood?”

Heyes sat down on the bed. “Warm soapy water or something like that. I don’t know!” The Kid smiled. “What’s so funny?”

“Guess he’s sending Soapy in to get the diamond back.”

Heyes lay back on the bed and covered his eyes with his arm. “I’ll be glad when this is over.”


***

Doctor Pane’s office

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry stood outside the doctor’s office later that afternoon. Heyes looked green around the gills. The Kid placed a reassuring hand on his partner’s shoulder and opened the door. When Heyes didn’t move, the Kid pushed him inside then shut the door, from the outside. He turned and headed back towards the hotel. As he reached the boardwalk Wendy, the desk clerk, appeared in the doorway. She leaned against the door frame, one hand on an ample hip, blocking the entry way.

“I was just going to take a stroll,” she informed the blond man. “Seeing as how that handsome friend of yours is back at the doctor’s, I hoped you’d escort me.”

With one finger, the Kid pushed his hat back on his head, revealing blue eyes. He smiled. “You did, huh?”

“I did.” She wet her lips with her tongue. “In this town, a woman needs the protection of a man.”

“She does, huh?”

“Especially a silver-tongued one like you.”

The Kid smiled. “In that case, it would be my pleasure, ma’am.” He held out his arm and she looped hers in his.


***

Inside the doctor’s office, Heyes approached the examination room door. He suddenly turned away and headed back to the outside door.

“Mister Smith.” Doctor Pane stopped Heyes in his tracks. “I’m ready for you.” Heyes swallowed and turned to face the medic who stood with his hand on the open examination room door. The doctor smiled. “Shall we?” He stepped to one side.


***

The Squatter’s Rest cafeteria

The Kid sat at a table in the cafeteria; his hat rested on an empty chair, a cup of coffee and a plate covered in cake crumbs lay on the table in front of him. The delightful Wendy sat opposite him and smiled as she raised a cup of coffee to her lips and took a sip. She ran her tongue over her lips as she lowered the cup to its saucer, scooping up a smear of fruit cake as she did so. Wendy leaned forward and her ample…portions… revealed themselves in all their glory. She smiled and whispered something only the Kid could hear. A smile spread across his face and her foot touched his beneath the table.


***

Squatter’s Rest Hotel

That evening Hannibal Heyes lay on his bed, arms by his side, an uncomfortable, and somewhat nauseated, expression on his face. An oil lamp burned beside the table where Kid Curry was carefully folding a pile of clothes and stuffing them into their saddle bags.

“So how was tea with Wendy?” Heyes asked.

The Kid smiled at the memory. “Nice.”

Brown eyes cracked open and a sideways glance was shot in the Kid’s direction. “Nice?”

“Yeah, nice.”

“You just had tea, right?”

“Coffee. Wendy likes coffee.”

“So you just had coffee?”

“And cake.”

“You had cake?”

“Yep.”

“What flavor?”

“Fruit.”

“So that’s all you had? Coffee and cake?” The Kid folded a shirt and stuffed it into his bag. “Kid?”

“Hmm?”

“You have more than cake?”

“Heyes, let’s just say I got a sample of what Wendy likes.”

Heyes smiled. “I’m glad someone had a better afternoon than I did.”

“I guess we’ll just hafta tell Soapy the truth about the diamond and hope he believes us,” the Kid stated. “And hope it might still turn up.”

“Mmm.”

The Kid turned to look at his friend. “Still feelin’ sick?”

“Yeah.”

“Maybe you should eat something?”

“I’m never eating anything again.”

“In that case you’re gonna starve to death.”

“If I have to,” Heyes stated melodramatically. He picked up the newspaper that lay on the bedside table. Sitting up, he adjusted the pillows to support his back, then looked at the front page as the Kid rolled up their socks and shoved them into the saddle bags. Heyes’ eyes narrowed on a section of the newspaper. He read and a stunned expression crossed his face. “Kid.”

“What?”

“When you bought that gold pan, what did you tell the storekeeper?”

The Kid considered the question. “Nothin’, why?”

Heyes read the paper again. “You sure?”

“Yeah. I’m sure. Why?”

Heyes frowned as he remembered something. “You said something about a gold rush.”

The Kid chuckled. “Yeah. I reckon they thought I was prospectin’. I mean, I bought a pan and one of the men suggested I use blastin’ powder to shift it.” The Kid shot his friend a look. “Why?”

Heyes read aloud. “Henry Stamp, owner of the general store, has sold over twenty prospecting pans and refused to say where the information about the gold originally came from. However, the people of Newton can now be found along the riverbank scouring the bottom for the precious metal. The stores are closed. The school is shut and gold fever is in the air.” Heyes looked over at his friend, awaiting an explanation.

The Kid’s mouth hung open. “I…I didn’t…I swear Heyes, I never…”

Heyes chuckled. “You really are something, Kid.”

“I didn’t do anything!”

“Yes, you did, you started a gold rush.” Heyes laughed and then held his stomach.

“You won’t be laughin’ when we face Soapy.” The Kid picked up and folded Heyes’ dark blue shirt, then lifted the leather flap and shoved it into the nearest bag. “Still, it’s not like we haven’t tried to recover it.” No reply. A grim expression had returned to Heyes’ face. The Kid folded his own pale blue shirt, the one that the ladies said brought out the color of his eyes, and shoved it into his own saddle bags. “I mean we tried coffee, prunes, figs and one entire bottle of castor oil. And that doctor sure had a good poke about in your….”

“I know what he did!” Heyes lifted his head from the pillow and glared at his partner. “I don’t want to discuss it anymore. In fact, we will never discuss it again. Understand?”

“Well, sheesh, Heyes…”

“No! Never!”

“What are you gonna tell Soapy?” The Kid suppressed a laugh. “Sorry; I forgot we weren’t to mention soap either.”

“Laugh all you want, Kid. Just be glad it didn’t happen to you!”

The Kid nodded as solemnly as he could muster. “Guess this time we know what’s proddin’ you.” He grinned and received a glare.

The Kid returned his attention to the clothes. He sniffed a pair of socks then, clearly satisfied with their fragrance, rolled them together into a ball and stuffed them in beside his shirt. He picked up Heyes’ leather vest. “I mean, what else could we have done?” He shook the vest and…CLUNK.

“What was that?” Heyes asked.

The Kid looked down at the small shiny stone lying on the table.

“What was that?” Heyes asked again.

“You know how some things happen and even though they don’t seem too good at the time, we can still laugh about it later?” the Kid remarked casually.

“Yeah.” There was a hint of suspicion in the older man’s voice.

The Kid picked up the object and turned to face Heyes. A diamond sparkled between his thumb and forefinger. “This could be one of those times.”

Heyes shot off the bed and moved quickly to the Kid’s side. “Where’d you get that?” He snatched it from the Kid’s grasp.

“It fell out of your vest.”

Heyes looked at the vest. “It fell out of my vest?”

“Yeah.”

Heyes frowned. He counted silently, opening the fingers and thumb on his left hand as he thought. One. Two. Three. Four. He looked at the vest. “I didn’t check the pocket.”

“What?”

“When I took off the vest, I didn’t check the pockets and neither did the sheriff. I just assumed I’d got them all and I guess he assumed we couldn’t hide the diamonds in pockets that small either.”

The Kid’s eyes narrowed. “Are you tellin’ me we went through all this ‘cos you didn’t bother to count ‘em?”

“What do you mean we went through? I went through it all. I didn’t see you eating prunes and drinking castor oil. I don’t remember you having a tube shoved up your…” He glared at the Kid.

“Don’t give me that look. I’m not the one who couldn’t count!”

“No, you just started a gold rush!”

“For the last time, I did not start a gold rush!


Cue end credits and familiar theme tune.



(Writers love feedback! You can comment on Maz McCoy's story by clicking the "post reply" button, found at the bottom left side of your screen. You don't have to sign in and you can be anonymous.)

_________________
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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Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy :: Comments

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Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 7:41 pm by Penski
Great dialog for an... interesting topic, Maz! Gotta admit I was concerned when you told me your idea, but you handled the delicate situation tastefully and with humor. Betting Heyes doesn't swallow anything else but food. How come the Kid has all the good lines in this story while Heyes is obviously uncomfortable through the tale? Wonderful story - thanks for contributing to VS!
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Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 7:24 pm by Lana Coombe
Good old toilet humour! Handled with skill.  Entertaining and very funny.  What a great episode.  clap
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Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Tue 18 Mar 2014, 6:56 pm by Grace R. Williams
You were definitely not just "going through the motions" in writing this, Maz! Wonderful humor, great lines, and loads of fun! Loved it!
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Wed 19 Mar 2014, 12:21 am by Keays
Great episode Maz! Here I thought it was going to be yet another salted diamond field con but you turned it around and took us all on a very unexpected journey.

Poor Heyes! I thought I had been rough on him but you really put him through the grinder. Big Mac owes them plenty this time.
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Thu 20 Mar 2014, 3:50 pm by InsideOutlaw
Geez, the things we do to these poor boys! Lots of humor, albeit potty humor, and great dialogue. I'm surprised you didn't have the Kid telling his partner, that 'this too will pass.' Fun story, Maz.
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Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sat 22 Mar 2014, 11:13 am by CD Roberts
A most unusual story. Poor Heyes: especially: “It fell out of your vest.”

Heyes looked at the vest. “It fell out of my vest?”
After all that! Very funny, Maz. Congrats on your story!
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sat 22 Mar 2014, 6:58 pm by NoraWinters
I always love your sense of humor, Maz. Some great lines. Unusual and funny, what could be better.
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Thu 03 Apr 2014, 11:53 am by Calico
Hello, Hello!! The Calico here, catching up with another VS.
Oh, methinks I recall the bunny bouncing on THIS one – snirt.
Loving HH waxing lyrical about the wonders of carbon as THE Kid watches trouble approaching…
Very episode echoing of Butte as our boys are stripped and searched – did they get wrapped in blankies?
Gosh, THE Kid is a bit shy, huh? Can’t buy a device if it has words on. Snicker.
Also loving the general build up to KC having started a gold rush.
You have me giggling with the blasting powder advice.
Ditto with the number two joke.
Squatters Rest forsooth. You’re a bad girl Maz.
This Wendy with the skilled hands – that’s you, huh?
Hearty applause, Maz. Very well (pan) handled
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Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sat 05 Apr 2014, 11:18 pm by Ghislaine Emrys

This is so ROFL funny! Classic Maz banter, a great title, and a unique plot for an episode! Love the conversation when Kid comes back from his erstwhile attempt to buy a chamber pot, and all his subsequent attempts to discuss his partner's predicament. Great phrase here: …symptoms associated with certain recreational diseases. A terrific VS--thanks!
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Sat 26 Apr 2014, 4:13 pm by HannaHeyes
What an interesting story! I laughed the whole way through! Great name for a doctor! And Kid enjoying cake, coffee, and the company of a lady while Heyes was enduring...well,...a rather uncomfortable procedure. Then when the last one was found, I just loved it!
Re: Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy
Post on Thu 22 May 2014, 4:38 pm by AllegraW
Marvellous below the belt humour which had me giggling all the way through although I actually almost felt sorry for poor pld Heyes. Caster oil AND an enema!!! Well, if that isn't gonna clean you out from the inside, then nothing will. No wonder he was shattered...and then to learn all that sacrifice hadnt been necessary... Brilliantly written and great fun, Maz. Same as always.  goodone 
 

Going Through the Motions by Maz McCoy

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