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 Detours by Ghislaine Emrys

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Join date : 2013-10-13

20140315
PostDetours by Ghislaine Emrys




On their way to Bisbee, Arizona, Heyes and Curry get sidetracked and then find themselves surrounded. They may be able to extricate themselves, but only after taking some Detours

Starring

Woody Strode as Sergeant Washington


Harry Morgan as Colonel Grierson


Denzel Washington as Corporal Seymour


Andre Braugher as Private Robinson


Angie Dickinson as the Saloon Girl




Detours
by Ghislaine Emrys



Acknowledgments: Many, many thanks to Fortitudine for her information about military speech and Army field competitions in the 19th century, and to Kwiltn and her Army JAG resources for their information about legal matters in the Army in the 19th century. Any errors that remain are solely those of the author.



“Kid, we’re going to Bisbee.” Heyes pulled his clothes from the dresser and started stuffing them into his saddlebag.

“Why?” Curry remained seated in the only high-backed chair in their hotel room, one leg slung over the chair’s arm as he methodically cleaned his gun.

“So you can be busy as a bee!” Heyes chuckled.

Kid groaned.

“C’mon, let’s go,” Heyes said, and tossed Curry’s saddlebags to him, along with a look that meant now.

“Heyes, what’s so dang important about Bisbee that we have to leave this nice, quiet, and very comfortable hotel only a day after we got here? Someone recognize us?”

Heyes shook his head.

“You recognize someone?”

Heyes shook his head again.

“Someone offer us a job?”

Heyes shook his head once more.

“Then what, Heyes? Why can’t we stay here a few days like we planned?”

“They got a lot of copper in Bisbee,” Heyes told his partner, as if that explained everything.

“I know that.” Curry slid the fifth and final bullet into his Colt and clicked the barrel shut. “I’m still waitin’ to hear something I don’t know.”

“Well, we’ve never mined copper before.”

“And you think we should start now? Because we had so much success with gold and silver minin’, is that it?”

Heyes ignored Curry’s sarcasm. “Don’t you want to try something new, Kid?”

“Nope. And what do you know about copper anyway? Would you even recognize it if you saw it in the ground?” Curry continued sarcastically, “Oh, wait. I forgot who I was talkin’ to. The genius who figured out how to blow a P & H ’78, just by readin’ books.”

Curry narrowed his eyes. Quick as an Arizona rainstorm, he grabbed Heyes’ saddlebag and slid his right hand inside. Curry triumphantly held up a newspaper, then spread it open to scan the headlines. A minute later, he read aloud, “Copper Queen’s monthly output exceeds expectations, more men hired.”

Heyes looked at his friend. “What have we got to lose?”

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

By the time Curry finished packing and met Heyes downstairs, Heyes had checked them out of the hotel and was waiting by the entrance.

“Ready?” Smiling at his partner, Heyes opened the front door and led the way to the livery.

Silently, the two men saddled their horses, mounted them, and headed southeast out of town. As soon as they’d left the buildings behind them, Kid turned to Heyes. “How long’s it goin’ to take us to get there?”

“Not sure. It depends on how we go. You want to take the main road or the less-traveled way?” Heyes stopped at the track that turned right and headed towards the mountains.

Kid observed the traffic on the road they were on: a Butterfield stagecoach filled with passengers, heading for Bisbee; several wagons filled with supplies, no doubt intended for nearby homesteads; and a few riders on horseback, heading who knew where. Without looking at Heyes, he pulled on the reins and guided his horse onto the track.

“Knew you’d make the right decision, Kid!”

“Since when do we do things the easy way? ‘Course we have to go this way; less chance of bein’ recognized.”

“Glad to see some of my logic’s rubbing off on you.”

“It ain’t logic; it’s common sense.”

“That too,” Heyes placated.

Mid-day, the partners found a thicket of mesquite and stopped to rest their horses and themselves. Breaking some beef jerky he’d rummaged from his saddlebag in half, Heyes handed one portion to Kid, who grimaced but took it anyway. They chewed in silence and then swallowed the dryness with sips from their canteens.

“I figure we’ve gone about ten, twelve miles. Not bad, huh?”

“Since you never told me how far we have to go, I couldn’t say, Heyes.”

“Well, I reckon it was about twenty-five miles by the main road so this way, it’ll be…”

“Longer,” Curry interrupted, when Heyes didn’t finish his sentence. “I know that. How much longer, Heyes? Are we goin’ to get there in time for dinner tonight or not until breakfast tomorrow?”

Heyes looked at Curry and scowled. “Now, Kid, calm down. We’ll get there, it’s just…” He hesitated.

Curry fixed his partner with a glare. “Tell me this is the right way. You do know where we are, don’t you?”

Heyes took a deep breath. “Well, when I was waiting for you at the hotel, the clerk said there were two ways to get to Bisbee. He gave me directions for the main road but he wasn’t sure about the other way. He said not too many people went this way since it was longer.”

“What else did he say? I know there’s more.” The glare remained on Curry’s face.

Reluctantly, Heyes related the rest. “He also said the way through these mountains was dangerous because outlaws hid out in them.”

Curry laughed. “I think we can handle that, Heyes.”

“And he said the Apache sometimes attacked people in this area.”

Curry closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them to look accusingly at his partner. “And when were you goin’ to tell me that?”

“What was the point in worrying you, Kid? Odds are we won’t come across any Indians at all; the clerk said there hasn’t been any trouble for a couple of months. And if we do get unlucky…”

“When are we not?” Curry muttered, then motioned with his hand for Heyes to continue.

“If we do get unlucky,” Heyes repeated, “and meet up with some Apache, then you can worry about it.”

“Gee, thanks, Heyes. It’s nice to be forewarned.”

“Anytime, Kid, anytime.”

Moistening their bandanas, each man squeezed some water into his horse’s mouth before wiping away the sweat on their own faces and necks. Heyes looked at his pocket watch, then announced, “There’s several more hours of daylight left. I think we can reach Bisbee by dark.”

“The sooner we’re there, the happier I’ll be.”

“See, I knew you’d want to go there, too!”

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

The horses plodded on under the relentless sun, moving ever southward. They picked their way through the desert shrubs, climbed up and over the hills they encountered, and detoured around rock outcroppings. Hours passed and the sun moved a fraction lower in the cloudless sky. Heyes was in the lead and Curry dozed.

A raven’s cry roused Curry. “What was that?”

Heyes came to a halt and Curry drew up alongside him. “I don’t know. But look over there.” He pointed to a spot about a mile away, where both men could see several birds circling above something hidden from their view by hills.

“How far you think we’ve gone?” Kid took a sip from his canteen as he waited for Heyes to answer.

“Not far enough for that to be in Bisbee.” Heyes also took a drink from his half-empty canteen. “Maybe a cougar killed something.” He looked questioningly at his partner.

“Maybe,” Curry said doubtfully. He turned his horse in the direction of the birds.

“Wait a minute! What are you doing?” Heyes positioned his mount in front of Curry’s horse, blocking him.

“Goin’ to find out what happened.”

“Why? It ain’t none of our business.”

“Heyes, if you were stranded in the desert, maybe injured, maybe runnin’ out of water, wouldn’t you appreciate some help?”

“Well…”

“And just ‘cos we didn’t get any don’t mean we can’t help someone if we’re able to.”

Heyes looked into the serious eyes of his friend, then nodded. He let Curry’s horse pass by him, then both men proceeded slowly towards the ravens and their quarry.

When they reached the top of the hill, the two men tethered their horses to an ocotillo bush, removed their guns from their holsters, crouched down and slithered to a point where they could see the desert below. A lone wagon lay on its side, the left rear wheel hanging off the axle. What appeared to be household goods and supplies were spilled all around.

Curry looked at Heyes grimly, then set off down the hill, taking care to make as little noise as possible. The dark-haired man sighed and followed. Scanning the area as they wound their way through the low-lying vegetation, Curry was on the alert for any sound that might indicate danger.

He heard nothing.

There was no sign of life but as they neared the wagon, Heyes saw an arm dangling from the back of it. Silently, he tapped Curry’s shoulder and they cautiously moved closer. Curry kept a lookout while Heyes climbed into the wagon.

“Kid,” he whispered as he backed out and jumped down, “she’s dead.” Heyes faced his partner. “She’s only about thirteen. Killed by an arrow.” He raised his hand to show it to his partner.

Curry kept his eyes on the perimeter. “See anyone else?”

“No.”

“All right. You check over there,” Curry jerked his head to the left, “and I’ll look around here.”

They separated, Heyes moving behind the wagon and Curry following some tracks he found in the sand. Since he wasn’t far from where they’d left their horses, he walked up the hill and led them back to where Heyes was waiting. They reported their findings to each other.

“There’s two more bodies here, a woman and a baby,” Heyes said grimly. “Looks like they were trying to hide behind some chests. They were both shot with arrows.”

“There’s a man dead about a hundred yards from here. He’s arrow shot, too. I’m guessin’ he was chasin’ after their mules. There’s a whole slew of tracks there; I’d say eight to ten horses. You know what that means, don’t you?” Curry looked at his partner sideways, one eye still on the horizon.

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

“Don’t you want to bury them first?”

“You want to stick around and meet the Indians that did this?”

“I think we should bury this family.”

“Kid, I know it’d be the decent thing to do, but…”

“Those Indians are long gone, Heyes. They got the mules, left everything else. No reason for them to come back here.”

“We don’t have any shovels. We’re buying our equipment in Bisbee, remember? How we going to bury four bodies?”

Curry looked at his partner. “Heyes, these folk were homesteaders; bound to have a shovel somewhere. We just got to find it.” As he spoke, he brushed back the canvas covering the wagon and searched inside. He held up one shovel. “See?”

They took turns digging and when all four people were buried and simple crosses marked the graves, Heyes and Curry wearily climbed onto their horses and resumed their journey.

After some time, Heyes said, “We have to report this, you know.”

“Yeah. I suppose that means the sheriff,” came Curry’s glum response.

“Don’t see who else.”

“Kind of risky.”

“Yeah.”

They rode in silence for a while, then Heyes ventured, “You sure we need to tell the law what happened?”

“No.”

“Because it ain’t going to make a difference to those people back there and…” Heyes stopped in mid-sentence. “Huh?”

“I said, no, I ain’t sure we need to go to the sheriff,” Curry repeated. “But, Heyes, what if someone else finds them, and our tracks, and tells the law, and then they think we did it. How we goin’ to prove we didn’t?”

Heyes grimaced as he wiped the sweat from his face with his bandana. “I hate it when you get logical.”

“Well, it’s gettin’ dark. You think we can make Bisbee tonight or should we camp here instead?”

Heyes looked at the sky to estimate how much time was left before the sun completely disappeared. Investigating the Indian attack had taken a couple hours. “I don’t like the odds of spending the night here and maybe getting attacked by Apache. But I don’t like the idea of riding at night in the desert when we’re not familiar with the way, either.”

“If we found some place defensible, you can take the first watch, and I’ll relieve you in a few hours. I’d rather not get lost in the desert; in fact, I think I’ve had enough of the desert to last me the rest of my life!”

Heyes grunted in agreement. They found a suitable campsite not long after that, under a rocky overhang that was partially hidden by mesquite.

“Dinner’ll have to be jerky and the biscuits we still got from breakfast,” Kid said glumly.

“You know we can’t make a fire and risk attracting unwanted visitors.”

“Yeah, but I don’t have to like it.”

After eating, Curry rolled out his bedroll and lay down under his blanket, boots still on. “Good night, Heyes.”

“Good night, Kid. I’ll wake you in four hours.”

Heyes spent the time gazing at the stars, unobstructed by any town lights in the huge expanse of the Chihuahuan desert. When the time came, he woke his partner and settled under his blanket for a few short hours of rest.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“Joshua, wake up.” Curry nudged Heyes with his foot. “C’mon, wake up.”

Heyes opened his eyes to a pale blue dawn and a carbine pointed at his chest. He sat up slowly and found himself staring at a Winchester. Then he saw that the brown weapon belonged to a black man, and his eyes widened.

“Good morning, Joshua. We got company.” Curry was sitting on the ground, his gun beside him.

Heyes retorted, “I can see that, Thaddeus. What happened?” He looked around at the group of men surrounding them, noting that all were black and all wore Army uniforms. All also held carbines competently in their hands.

The man pointing the Winchester at Heyes responded. “I’m Sergeant Washington, with the Ninth Cavalry of the United States Army. We’re on patrol. What are you doing here, gentlemen?” Although the question was asked politely, the weapon remained firmly in place.

Heyes quickly scanned the area. Their two horses were behind the five soldiers, effectively blocking any possibility of escape. His partner didn’t outwardly appear too worried but his posture indicated that Curry wasn’t happy about being caught by surprise by the soldiers.

Heyes lifted up his hands in a gesture of conciliation. “Sergeant, my name’s Joshua Smith and my partner is Thaddeus Jones. We’re on our way to Bisbee. We got a late start yesterday and decided to spend the night here instead of risking getting lost. That’s all,” he finished with a smile.

Curry nodded in agreement.

“We’re not trespassing, are we?” Heyes asked, trying to allay Washington’s suspicions. “We surely do apologize if we are. We’re strangers in these parts, maybe we got turned around on the trail when it got dark. Gosh, Thaddeus, you think maybe we got lost? I sure hope not! We need to get to Bisbee fast as we can. Sergeant,” Heyes implored the soldier, “could you point out the right direction for us, please? We’ll be on our way just as soon as we pack up.”

The other soldiers snickered. Washington turned to Curry. “He always talk that much?”

Curry twisted around to look at his partner, smirking when the others couldn’t see him. “Pretty much.”

“Ain’t necessary to talk so much in the desert. Could be dangerous makin’ so much noise, Mr. Smith,” Washington advised. “Don’t you know it ain’t safe out here? Where you comin’ from, Mr. Jones?”

“Oh, uh, Tombstone,” Curry replied quickly.

The sergeant scrutinized both men, who tried not to fidget under his gaze. The other soldiers waited patiently for their leader to decide what to do. Washington asked another question. “If you came from the north, that means you took the turn-off just outside of Tombstone. Correct?”

“Yes, sir,” Heyes said.

“Then,” Washington followed up, “did you see anything unusual along the way, sir?”

Although the question was asked casually, Heyes saw the soldiers under Washington’s command tense. Exchanging a glance with his partner, Heyes nodded. “Yes, we did. That’s why we wanted to get to Bisbee as quickly as possible.”

“And just what exactly did you see, sir?”

This time, Curry answered. “Some miles back, we came across a wagon that’d been attacked. Looked like it was Indians. We buried the family.”

“We found some arrows,” Heyes added. “We’re on our way to report it to the sheriff in Bisbee.”

Washington lowered his carbine and signaled his men to do the same. “All right, gentlemen. Could be you’re tellin’ the truth. But you’re a lot closer to Fort Huachuca than Bisbee, so you can make your report there. We’ll escort you.”

Curry silently communicated his unease to Heyes. His partner shrugged fatalistically.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“Enter!”

Sergeant Washington, followed by Heyes and Curry, walked into the small office where a colonel was busy writing notes in a ledger. Washington stood at attention in front of the desk while the two civilians nervously waited near the door, which an adjutant had closed behind him on his way out after admitting the three men.

“Sergeant Washington reporting, sir!” He saluted and then waited for permission to speak.

“Make your report, Sergeant.” The colonel flicked his eyes to Heyes and Curry, obviously curious, but waited to hear what his most senior enlisted man had to say.

“We was on patrol as ordered, Colonel Grierson, when we seen smoke in the desert. We moved closer and seen a wagon lyin’ on its side. It’d been attacked, sir. All the goods scattered all round. Man, woman, kids was all dead, sir. Looked like Apache. Weren’t no sign of horses but we seen tracks goin’ south.” Washington paused and the colonel nodded for him to continue.

“We followed the tracks a ways and came on these two. Said they was on their way to Bisbee. Claim to be miners but they don’t have no mining tools, sir. I thought it best to bring them back here, sir.”

The officer gazed hard at the two men standing behind his sergeant. “What were you doing out in the desert there?”

Just as Heyes opened his mouth to answer the question, the colonel pointed in Curry’s direction. “Well?”

Curry glanced at Heyes. “We, uh, like Sergeant Washington said, sir, we’re on our way to Bisbee. Goin’ to try our hand at minin’.”

“You don’t look like miners.”

Heyes interceded and with a smile of acknowledgment said, “As a matter of fact, sir, we ain’t really miners. We read about the copper strike in the newspaper and thought we’d give it a try.”

“Where are your tools?” Grierson asked.

“Oh, we plan on buying everything in Bisbee. Would’ve been too hard for our horses to carry so much equipment such a long way.”

Still suspicious, the colonel continued his questioning. “Where were you coming from, then? And why were you in the desert, instead of on the road to Bisbee? I’m afraid, gentlemen, your story doesn’t hold up.”

Heyes continued to use his most persuasive manner. “We came from Tombstone. I’m afraid we got a little lost. You see, there was a fork in the road and we took what turned out to be a wrong turn. We thought we were going straight but we ended up on a real crooked path and, well sir, I guess we just got confused there for a while.”

“Go on.”

“We decided to stop for the night. Didn’t want to get any more lost than we already were. Well, we came upon those poor folks in the wagon, but ain’t nothing we could do except bury them, so that’s what we did. We were going to tell the sheriff in Bisbee but your men found us first.”

“I see. Well, it’s our job to make this area safe for settlers and the Army takes its responsibility seriously. There’s been some trouble recently with the Apache and this incident will only make matters worse. Civilian travel is now restricted. You will remain here until a detail is going to Bisbee, when you can travel there under escort. In the meantime, you’ll be quartered here at the Army’s expense. Dismissed!”

Heyes and Curry looked at each other in dismay. Misinterpreting, the colonel said, “Sergeant Washington will make sure your stay is comfortable. Sergeant, please show these men to the guest quarters and make them familiar with post regulations.”

“Yes, sir. This way, gentlemen.” Washington saluted his commanding officer and led the way out the door.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

After detailing a trooper to see to their horses, the sergeant led Heyes and Curry along the western edge of the parade ground and then turned right to cross a small creek. The group passed the fort’s bakery and one of the post’s kitchens before arriving at the boarding house. The two civilians noted that their horses were stabled in the cavalry’s corral a couple hundred feet away.

Washington walked up the steps, unlocked the front door, and ushered Curry and Heyes into one of the rooms along the corridor on the first floor. “I trust you’ll be comfortable here, gentlemen.” He turned to leave.

“What about our meals?” Curry asked. “Where do we eat?”

“Dinner is at 1200 hours in the Cavalry Barracks in the building on your right. You don’t want to be late. Now, if there’s nothing else, I best be gettin’ back to work.”

Heyes thanked him and the soldier departed.

Curry dropped his saddlebags over the back of a chair. “Now what?”

Heyes shrugged. “Might as well unpack. Looks like we’re going to be here a while.” He started removing his clothes from his own saddlebags and laid them neatly in the top drawer of the bureau that was in between the two beds in the room.

“That’s not what I meant,” Curry grumbled.

“I know, Kid. What do you want me to say? We can’t very well sneak out of here. You want the whole Ninth Cavalry hunting us, too?”

Curry shook his head and sighed. “No.”

“We just got to make the best of it and hope Colonel Grierson finds out quickly what really happened to those people.” Heyes looked at his partner sympathetically. “I don’t like it any better than you but I don’t see as we got much of a choice.”

Heyes poured water from the pitcher into the bowl and washed his hands and face. “Let’s go look around. All these soldiers here, maybe you can learn something about guns from them.”

Curry ignored his grinning friend and after cleaning up, they left, Heyes carefully locking their door with the key Sergeant Washington had given him.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

Promptly at 1200, Heyes and Curry entered the soldiers’ mess hall and found themselves surrounded. About seventy-five black men were staring at them. The room was silent as the soldiers watched the two civilians get their food and sit down at a vacant table against a wall.

“How come we’re the only…?” Curry started to ask.

“The only what, Kid?”

“The only ones who ain’t soldiers.”

“I don’t know.” Heyes surveyed the room. The soldiers were looking at them and whispering, but too softly to be heard.

“What do you think they’re talkin’ about?”

“Us. Sure would like to know what they’re saying.”

Curry eyed the food on the plate in front of him. “Maybe they’re talkin’ about the food. This don’t look too fillin’.”

“Nothing wrong with beans, bacon, and bread.” Heyes raised a fork to his mouth. “Not bad.”

“It ain’t what it is, it’s how much there is. I mean, how little.” Curry had finished his meal while they were talking. He stood up.

“What are you doing?” Heyes asked sharply.

“Gettin’ some coffee. Want some?”

“No, and neither do you. Sit down.”

“What’s the matter with you, Heyes? Take it easy.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, we kind of stick out here. I don’t like people staring at us, memorizing what we look like.”

“That the only thing worryin’ you?”

“Ain’t that enough?”

Curry looked down at his partner, who was fiddling with the silverware on his now-empty plate. He sat down again and said seriously, “It never bothered you before. We even had a few blacks in the gang at times. You know they ain’t any different from us.”

Heyes looked at his partner and tried to explain. “It’s not that. I don’t care what color a man’s skin is long as he can do the job proper. It’s just…”

“What?”

“I don’t like the idea of taking orders from Washington.”

Curry started laughing. “Sheesh, Heyes, you don’t like takin’ orders from anyone, it don’t matter who they are!”

Conceding the point with a grin, Heyes said, “Go on, then, get your coffee.” He watched as Curry went and asked the cook to fill his cup, then raised an eyebrow questioningly when Sergeant Washington sat down next to him.

“Enjoy the meal, sir?” Washington asked with interest.

“It was, um, real good,” Heyes assured him.

Washington regarded him for a moment before speaking. Then he asked, “Why didn’t you two just up and leave when you saw who was eatin’ here?”

“Should we have? This is where you told us to come. We stayed because the food was here and no one bothered us.” Heyes paused. “You always tell visitors to eat here?”

“No, not all of them,” the sergeant replied cryptically, then rose when Curry returned. “Sir,” he said as he walked back to his table.

“What was that all about?”

Heyes was thoughtful. “I’m not sure, but I think we just passed some kind of test.”

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

The sun peeked over the horizon and all was quiet as the two civilians silently glided past the cavalry corral and walked northwest away from the fort towards the mountains. Once inside the cover of the forest, they made their way through the underbrush until Curry indicated with a gesture that he was satisfied with the location.

Curry set up six pine cones on a log, then walked back twenty paces.

Heyes moved in front of him. “This ain’t a good idea, Kid. You know that, don’t you?”

“I got to practice, Heyes!”

“I don’t know why you have to do it here, in the middle of an Army post!” Heyes threw up his hands in frustration as he shouted.

“What’s the matter with you? I haven’t practiced for two days; I’m goin’ to get rusty if I don’t keep my hand in it!”

“You’re going to drive me crazy, you know that?” Heyes rubbed his eyes. “You know what’s going to happen as soon as you start shooting? Someone’s going to hear and come looking. And you know what they’re going to find? Kid Curry, fastest gun in the West! Is that what you want?”

“No, that’s not what I want!” Curry yelled. “But a man’s got to practice, don’t he?”

“And when the soldiers find us, what do you think they’re going to do?” Heyes looked like he wanted to flatten Curry.

“I’ll just shoot for an hour. I’ll be finished before anyone finds us.”

“It’s a stupid idea, Kid.” But Heyes moved to stand behind his partner, shaking his head in annoyance.

Curry stood with his feet apart, facing the log, gauging the wind by tilting his head skyward, then sighting his weapon. The six shots sounded like four. Curry grimaced when he saw the results. “This is why I got to practice, Heyes.” He held up the one pine cone that wasn’t completely shattered.

“It ain’t a crime to miss one,” Heyes tried to console his partner.

Curry glared at the pine cone, then said, “It ain’t good enough.”

“Most everyone else’d be satisfied.”

Curry turned his glare on Heyes.

“All right. You’re not most everyone else.” Heyes found more pine cones and set them up, then watched for forty more minutes as his partner gradually regained his form.

“Feel better?”

“Guess so,” Curry replied, but his sigh indicated dissatisfaction.

“You do look faster now,” Heyes assured him.

“Another hour would be good.” Curry looked hopefully at his partner.

“If you’re that worried, we can come back tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so.” Sergeant Washington suddenly appeared from behind a hillock.

Completely surprised, Heyes and Curry exchanged a concerned look but stayed where they were.

“Have you any idea what you done? Don’t you know someone shootin’ off a gun around here is gonna get the Army all riled up? That mebbe the Army would think the post was under attack? Don’t you have no common sense?” The soldier looked at the two men, now standing sheepishly before him, and ended his harangue.

“It’s my fault, Sergeant,” Curry began. “Joshua…”

“Sorry, sir,” Heyes interrupted his partner before he could say more. “We didn’t think anyone would take notice. This being an Army post and all.”

“Well, you sure didn’t think, that’s true!” Washington told them.

“Sergeant, I’m sorry for the trouble I caused,” Curry said. “It’s just that I like to practice every day.”

Washington gazed steadily at the civilians until they shifted under the scrutiny. “That ain’t possible. You need to come with me, gentlemen.”

Another concerned look passed between Heyes and Curry. “Look, Sergeant, we’re really very sorry. We’ll make sure it don’t happen again,” Heyes said, glaring at his partner.

“Oh, it certainly won’t,” Washington agreed. “Let’s go.” He turned back toward the post and Curry and Heyes reluctantly followed.

Lagging behind, Curry whispered, “Do you think we should make a run for it?”

“Not yet. They got horses, remember? They’d find us in no time. I don’t know how much Washington heard, but I been thinking about what we said and I don’t think we gave ourselves away. No reason to make him more suspicious by running.”

“You think you can talk us out of whatever he’s got planned?”

“Pretty sure. Let’s just wait and see what happens.”

“All right, but I don’t like it.”

“For once, Kid, I’m in total agreement with you.”

They walked the rest of the way in silence.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“Here’s the source of the shootin’, sir.” Sergeant Washington pointed first to Curry and then to Heyes, who were standing in front of the colonel’s desk, hats in their hands, a repentant look on Heyes’ face and a defiant one on Curry’s.

“Gentlemen, have you any idea what the sound of unknown gunshots means on an Army post?” Grierson asked.

Mutely, they shook their heads.

“Fort Huachuca is in the middle of Apacheria. We are here solely because there is a problem with the Indians. When soldiers hear gunfire and don’t know where it comes from, they assume they are under attack. When they are under attack, half the infantry deploy as skirmishers and the rest assume defensive positions to protect the fort. The cavalry mounts up and rides out. The colored troops, whom the newspapers like to call buffalo soldiers, have been well trained. As soon as shots were heard and none of my officers could explain them, the entire fort did what it is trained to do and rushed to their designated posts.”

“We’re sorry, sir.” Heyes hid his irritation with his partner from the senior officer as he apologized, adding, “We figured this being an Army post, gunshots wouldn’t be a problem, what with soldiers training and all. I mean, they do practice shooting, don’t they?”

“I suppose civilians can’t be faulted for not knowing military regulations. But if you were officers, what you did would be punishable by death.” The colonel regarded the two men who visibly paled before him. “However, you may have actually done us a favor.”

Heyes cocked his head but neither he nor Curry said anything.

A trace of a smile appeared on Grierson’s face. “Yes. The men haven’t done a battle drill recently that simulated an attack so your blunder gave us the opportunity to determine how effective our training has been.”

“Glad to be of service, sir,” Heyes said, smiling himself. “But we’ll make sure it don’t happen again.”

Curry finally spoke, saying glumly, “No, sir, it won’t.”

The colonel nodded. “Good. The men have a lot of duties here and while an occasional disruption in their daily regimen can be accommodated, I do not want a repeat of this morning’s activities. Is that clear?”

Curry and Heyes nodded and turned to leave.

A cough from Sergeant Washington stopped them. “Sir.”

“Yes, what is it, Sergeant?”

“The competition, sir.”

“What about it?”

“Mebbe these two…”

The colonel leaned back in his chair. He appraised first the dark-haired man, so eager to oblige, and then the blond, the one who apparently was the cause of the morning’s activity. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, sir. I saw Mr. Jones shoot, sir. Didn’t see Mr. Smith, sir, but if he’s half as good, then we got the competition locked up.”

“Let me explain, gentlemen,” Grierson said, answering the curiosity in the men’s faces. “Tomorrow, Fort Huachuca has its semi-annual field competition to determine which company can lay claim to having the best soldiers. There will be contests involving various forms of shooting and riding. Prizes are awarded to the winners of each individual contest. Sergeant Washington is asking if you two would like to join his company and participate in the competition.”

Curry’s eyes lit up and he looked at his partner. Heyes shrugged. “What do we have to do?”

“Sergeant Washington will explain the details. But first, we have to put you on the Army payroll to make it legal.”

“You mean we have to join the Army for this?” Curry asked.

Washington grinned at his discomfiture. “Something wrong with that, sir?”

“Oh, no, not at all. It’s just, we, uh…” Curry looked at Heyes to resolve the situation.

“It’s just that we don’t want to miss out on the copper strike in Bisbee,” Heyes said, coming to his friend’s rescue.

“Don’t worry, gentlemen. Besides soldiers, people contracted to work for the Army are allowed to participate. We’ll add you to the payroll as,” Grierson paused as he thought a moment, “as teamsters.”

“And how much will we be paid as teamsters?”

“Joshua!” Curry remonstrated. “It don’t really matter.”

“If it has to be legal, then we have to be paid,” Heyes insisted.

“Quite right, Mr. Smith. You’ll be on the Army payroll for only one day so you will each be paid one dollar.”

Heyes’ eyes widened. “A dollar? For a whole day’s work?”

Grierson became serious. “Mr. Smith, my enlisted men receive thirteen dollars for one month’s work. You and Mr. Jones are being paid more than twice as much as that. The Army is not some bank that has an unlimited amount of money to spend. We are also providing you with quarters and rations. I suggest you consider that as well.”

Curry interceded. “That will be fine. Thank you, sir. We appreciate it. Don’t we, Joshua?” he asked pointedly.

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Good. Now, Sergeant, please give Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith the details about the competition and show them where it will be held. That will be all.”

“Sir.” Washington saluted and ushered Heyes and Curry outside.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

Colonel Grierson, as commander of Fort Huachuca, acted as master of ceremonies for the day’s activities. Surveying the crowd of spectators, he saw his wife seated at the front of the ladies’ section, holding a parasol like all the other officers’ wives to keep the hot Arizona sun from burning her skin to a shade of bronze like a savage Apache’s.

Addressing the assemblage, Grierson described the four events that the soldiers would compete in and explained the rules for each one. “The first event is designed to display the horsemanship of the soldiers as they compete to see who can maneuver through a set course first. As the distance is not long, the riders will traverse the course twice. Marksmanship will be showcased next. The following event combines riding with shooting, and involves competitors firing rifles at stationary targets as their horses gallop by. The final event requires each man to ride to a specified point, dismount, then fire over his horse’s back at a target.”

Grierson then introduced the teams participating in the day’s competition. “Today there are four teams, two from cavalry companies and two from infantry companies. Each team has five men.” One cavalry team and one infantry team were composed entirely of white soldiers, and buffalo soldiers comprised the members of the second infantry team. Heyes noticed that his team, Company C of the Ninth Cavalry, was the only one that included both black men and white men.

A soldier from one of the other teams objected when the names Smith and Jones were read aloud. “We ain’t never seen them two before!” His fellow teammates nodded.

“Good,” muttered Curry.

Heyes laughed.

Sergeant Washington said, “They just started working here. You prob’ly ain’t never seen them ‘cos they been busy haulin’ freight between here and Tombstone. But they’s on the Army payroll. You can examine the records if you want.”

“No, no. If you say so, we believe you,” the soldier backtracked.

Turning away from the other team, Curry said, “Not sure I like bein’ the center of attention here.”

“Now you tell me? You’re the one who was so all-fired eager to do this, Kid. You may recall, I wasn’t exactly keen on it.”

“You weren’t exactly against it, neither.”

Heyes scowled. “Well, can’t help it now. Just try and come in second or third. Maybe that way we won’t get noticed so much.”

Curry looked at his partner incredulously. “I can’t do that! Washington is countin’ on me. I can’t let him down. Besides, he’s already seen me shoot so he knows what I can do.”

“Well, he ain’t seen me shoot. I’ll pretend I’m not real good.”

“It wouldn’t be pretendin’,” Curry smirked.

Heyes narrowed his eyes.

Curry laughed. “What happened to your sense of humor, Heyes?”

Heyes sighed and, gesturing to all the soldiers who were walking towards the corral at the other end of the parade ground, said, “Come on, then. Let’s not keep them waiting.”

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

_________________
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.


Last edited by royannahuggins on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:22 pm by royannahuggins



“Mount up!” The order was instantly obeyed by eighteen soldiers and the only two civilians in the competition.

“Take your places!” Twenty horses were moved into position at the starting line.

“Go!” Twenty horses were spurred by their riders and, with varying speeds, headed to the first obstacle in the course that had been laid out around the fort. There were ten turns and five jumps, over natural streams and logs placed into positions simulating fallen trees.

After completing the first quarter of the circuit, several horses had fallen behind and were out of contention. By the time they had ridden the course once, about a third of the riders were bunched at the front and the rest were strung out behind them, trying unsuccessfully to catch up as they traversed the course again.

Then, with only a quarter of the course left before the finish line, it became clear the race was between the two civilians and one buffalo soldier on the other cavalry team.

Muted cheers followed Heyes as he crossed the finish line in first place, followed by the buffalo soldier and then Curry, who rode up to his partner. Heyes was grinning.

“You were right, Kid. This was a great idea!” Heyes patted his horse, whose flanks were heaving, as he caught his breath, too.

Curry smiled tightly. “I thought we weren’t supposed to show off, Heyes. I pulled up so as not to win. Why didn’t you do the same?”

“I’m sorry, Kid. I couldn’t help myself. I pretended a posse was following us and I guess I got carried away.”

“No wonder you were goin’ so fast! I didn’t think anyone was goin’ to catch you at the end,” Curry told him.

“Mr. Smith!” Heyes turned at the sound of Washington’s voice. “Well done. You earned us five points for our team score.” Washington grinned as he clapped Heyes on the back. “And you, Mr. Jones, earned us three points. We be in first place right now. I knew it was a good idea to get you on our team.”

“Where’s the next event takin’ place?” Curry asked.

“On the parade ground near the post hospital. Just in case someone gets hurt. That ain’t never happened before, and I don’t ‘spect it will today, but Colonel Grierson insists.”

“What about our horses? They’re pretty tired. I don’t think mine will be able to compete in the other events,” Heyes told the sergeant.

“Don’t you worry ‘bout that, sir. We got other mounts for everyone. Makes it more fair, too,” Washington added. “But you got to get your medal first, Mr. Smith. Follow me.”

They handed their horses off to Private Robinson and Corporal Seymour, the two other members of their team, and watched as they were led back to the corral. Then they followed Sergeant Washington as he led them to the grandstand where Colonel Grierson and the senior officers were sitting.

“Ah, Mr. Smith. Congratulations.” Grierson stood and spoke to the throng gathered nearby. “Ladies and gentlemen, your attention, please.” He waited until it got quiet. “It is my pleasure to present this medal to Mr. Joshua Smith for his first-place finish in the horsemanship competition. Well done.” Grierson shook Heyes’ hand as he presented him with a small medal in the shape of a horse.

“Thank you, sir.” Heyes was about to say more but catching a glance from Curry, he refrained. With a slight dip of his head, Heyes returned to his team’s side and inspected his medal.

Grierson addressed the audience again. “The next event is in marksmanship. Each man will fire two rounds with his pistol at targets set first at a range of twenty-five yards and then at a range of fifty yards. The winner is the man who shoots most accurately within the time limit. As we have a large number of participants today, shooting will occur in two cohorts. Gentlemen, your places.”

Curry, Heyes, and the soldiers waited at the relay line until the first ten men were called by the officials to the firing line. At the command to load and be ready, the first group of shooters, which included Heyes, prepared their weapons.

“Commence firing!”

A volley of shots rang through the air as the men rapidly emptied their six-shooters. Heyes finished in the middle of the group, then waited for the officials to score his round. The men were allowed to approach the targets to see their results and after inspecting his, Heyes made a slight adjustment in his stance prior to his second round. After the last man had fired his final shot, Heyes and the others went to see how they’d done in that round. He walked slowly back to Curry, who was waiting his turn on the ready line.

“You’re accurate, Heyes, but not fast enough. Plenty of soldiers finished before you.”

“I know, Kid. But I don’t have much incentive to be fast when you’re around, you know.”

“Hmmph.”

“It’s true, and you know it.”

“I ain’t always goin’ to be there to watch your back, Heyes.”

“You planning on going somewhere I don’t know about?”

“No, but…”

“You know I like it when you worry, Kid, but this ain’t the place for it.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the call for the second cohort to advance to the ready line.

“Kid,” warned Heyes, “don’t do anything fancy.”

“You don’t need to remind me,” grumbled Curry. “But I ain’t goin’ to lose this contest if I can help it.”

“Well, maybe you’ll get lucky and some of those soldiers will be faster than you.”

With a scowl at Heyes, Curry took his place, sighted his weapon, and waited for the command to shoot.

“Commence firing!”

Heyes groaned as Curry emptied his gun before any of the other soldiers managed to get three shots off. Curry did not look at his partner as he walked the twenty-five yards to see his results. The official inspecting his target beckoned another official over and they conferred a minute before regarding the man waiting patiently for them to announce his score.

“May we see your gun, sir?” one of the officials asked.

Silently, Curry handed it over. The man hefted it in his hand, sighted along the barrel, and opened the chamber to look inside. Pointing the gun at the ground, he cocked it, then slowly pulled the trigger.

“Something wrong?” Curry asked.

“No, sir, apparently this weapon meets all specifications.” The official sounded disappointed. “You may proceed with the competition.”

“Thank you.” Curry took back his gun and returned to the ready line.

“Did you have to make such a spectacle of yourself?” Heyes hissed.

“Can I help it if the Army don’t have fast guns?”

“Yes! You can shoot a little slower!”

“Well, how was I supposed to know that beforehand?”

“I don’t know. Just use some common sense!”

“Like I said before, Heyes, I ain’t goin’ to let Washington down.” Curry left his angry partner and took his place at the firing line when called.

The second round proceeded in the same manner as the first, and Curry again finished firing well before the others. When the combined scores for the two rounds were announced, no one was surprised that Mr. Jones was in the lead by a wide margin.

The officials marked off an additional twenty-five yards for the second stage of the shooting event and when that was done, Colonel Grierson announced, “In this round, men will shoot in reverse order based on their scores from the first round. Those with the highest scores will shoot last.”

Sergeant Washington instructed the members on his team. “Mr. Smith, that means you and Private Robinson go first. Mr. Jones, you, Corporal Seymour and me will shoot in the second group.”

The commands were given and shooting commenced. With the distance doubled, tallying the scores took a little longer but when it was completed, both Robinson’s and Heyes’ results put them towards the top of their cohort.

Then it was the second group’s turn. Again, Curry demonstrated his prowess by rapidly emptying the chamber of his gun into the center of his target. His results were announced and the crowd began to murmur.

Heyes was able to pick out what people were saying. He went over to tell Curry. “People are saying it ain’t natural you being able to shoot so well. They’re saying they ain’t never seen anyone so fast.”

Curry sighed. “Heyes, do I ever tell you how to play poker?”

“No. What’s that got to do with anything?”

“I don’t tell you how to play your game, so don’t tell me how to play mine.”

“This ain’t a game, Kid. People are talking, wondering how you can shoot so well.”

“I can’t worry about that now. I got to focus on the target.”

“You’ll worry about it if someone figures out who we are! And the target is our amnesty, not some stupid shooting contest!”

“It ain’t stupid, Heyes. It means a lot to Sergeant Washington and his men.”

“So now you care about a bunch of buffalo soldiers?”

“Yeah, and you should, too. They’ve treated us well and I want to do right by them.”

Heyes closed his eyes and rubbed them, conceding defeat. “All right. Go ahead and show them why Kid Curry is the fastest gun in the West!”

Curry nodded slightly and when he and nine other soldiers took their places for the final round of shooting, there was silence among the spectators. All eyes were on Curry but he only had eyes for the mound of straw fifty yards in front of him. There was a slight breeze now, and the fort’s flag fluttered in the wind. Curry noted the change in the air and adjusted his position accordingly.

To no one’s surprise, the last syllable of the command to fire had barely been uttered when Curry dropped his gun hand to his side, his weapon empty. His results were announced and there was a collective gasp from the spectators as they heard that his score was the highest ever recorded in the history of Fort Huachuca.

Sergeant Washington, as team captain, accompanied Curry to Colonel Grierson. Regarding the blond-haired man in front of him, Grierson smiled as he congratulated the winner and presented him with a medal in the shape of a bullet. Curry thanked the colonel and slowly walked back to his teammates.

“What?” Curry hadn’t heard Washington’s words.

“I said, it’s an honor and a privilege to meet a fella who can shoot as well as you.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

Noting the glum expression on Curry’s face, Washington asked, “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.”

“Ain’t you happy ‘bout winnin’?”

“I’m happy our team is still in first place.” Curry smiled and at that, Washington smiled as well.

Colonel Grierson announced the rules of the next event. “This contest combines cavalry and infantry skills. The men will shoot at clay pots filled with water using Army-issued carbines while guiding their horses around a set course. Competitors will start at five-minute intervals and be timed. Whoever successfully shoots the most pots in the shortest amount of time will be declared the winner. Each team will start one man, with the rest of the men following in turn. But first,” the colonel turned towards the spectators and with a smile said, “we will have a short break to allow the ladies to freshen up.”

While the ladies removed themselves en masse for the brief respite, the male spectators lit cigars and the soldiers in the competition drank water from their canteens and loaded their weapons. Washington pulled Curry aside. “You as good with a carbine as you are with a Colt?”

Curry shook his head. “No, my partner’s better.”

Hearing that, Heyes said, “Mr. Jones is being modest. He’s not as fast with a Winchester but he’s still pretty accurate.”

Washington pondered for a moment, then declared, “Corporal Seymour, you be first. I’ll go next. You, Mr. Jones, be third and Mr. Smith, you be fourth. Private Robinson’ll be last. He done won this event last year and I ‘spect he’ll do the same again today.”

The competition began and Heyes and Curry carefully watched the soldiers shoot the clay pots, which shattered and sprayed spurts of water into the air, soaking the riders as they galloped by.

“Kyle would like this,” Curry whispered.

“Kyle would think the pots were spittoons and try to shoot tobacco juice into them,” Heyes replied, grinning.

Both Heyes and Curry acquitted themselves well, with each man blasting the same number of pots. However, Heyes had the faster time and, combined with their teammates’ better results, they were still in first place at the end of the third event.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Colonel Grierson began. “For the past several hours, we’ve enjoyed seeing how capable the soldiers of Fort Huachuca are. Now, it’s time for the final event. Each man will ride to a designated point, dismount and make his horse lie down, then fire over his horse’s back at a stationary target.”

Heyes faced Curry and said, ruefully, “We do this all the time, don’t we?”

“Yeah, but our targets are usually movin’.”

“Sure would be helpful if lawmen would oblige us and stay in one place when we have to discourage them from following us.”

Curry snorted. “Would be more helpful if they didn’t shoot at us to start with!”

“Who knew being a soldier was so much like being an outlaw?” Heyes mused.

“Get that look off your face, Heyes. We didn’t get out of that business just to join up in this one.”

“We already got lots of skills they need.”

“And you’re goin’ to explain that—how?” Curry pointedly asked.

“Well, after seeing how well we did today…”

“And tell me you’ll be satisfied earning thirteen dollars a month, eatin’ only hardtack and bacon at every meal, and one cup of coffee only, and sleepin’ on a hard mattress, and doin’ work that’s real hard on the back like buildin’ them barracks over there…”

“Okay, maybe I didn’t take everything into consideration!”

“’Cos I sure ain’t satisfied with that menu!”

Heyes tried to placate his partner. “I said, all right! We won’t enlist. Besides, I doubt there’d be many high stakes poker games.”

“It don’t take a genius to figure that out!”

“You’re right, Kid.” Heyes paused. “Maybe I’ll become an officer instead. They need leaders in the Army, too, you know.”

Having gotten the last word, Heyes walked over to Sergeant Washington to find out that he would be the last on his team to compete.

When it was his turn, Curry mounted a fresh horse and waited for the command to start. As soon as it was given, he pressed his knees to the gelding and expertly guided it to the first dismount point. Smoothly sliding off and pulling the carbine from its scabbard, he took a moment to aim, then pulled the trigger. Without waiting to see the result, he remounted and galloped past the target, observing that the hole was slightly to the right of center. Continuing in the same manner, Curry effortlessly completed the course.

Admiration greeted him upon his return to his team. “That was real nice to see, sir,” Private Robinson said.

“You’re almost as good as the Sergeant,” Corporal Seymour concurred. “He won this event two years runnin’ but you did good, too.”

Curry shrugged. “Thanks. I hope it’s good enough.”

“Well, it’s up to Mr. Smith now,” Washington said. “But based on how well he did before, I think we can count on another good performance. If he does as well as you, Mr. Jones, we’ll win this competition.”

“I’ll do my best,” Heyes promised.

“I know you will, Joshua. Good luck,” Curry said.

Heyes confidently mounted his horse and once the command to start was given, he immediately urged his horse into a gallop. Reaching the first dismount point, he fluidly slid off, withdrew his Winchester from its scabbard, sighted along the barrel, then discharged the weapon. In contrast to Curry, he took a moment to see where his shot had landed before climbing back on his horse and dashing to the next target. With each shot, he was more accurate and yet his speed did not diminish. As he reached the end of the course, Heyes heard the cheers from the audience as he crossed the finish line. Grinning, he wheeled his horse over to his team and dismounted for the last time.

“Well done, Joshua,” Curry told him.

His teammates also congratulated Heyes, who accepted their praise with a smile. “Was it enough to win, Sergeant?”

“I reckon so. We’ll know for sure real soon.”

Spectators and competitors alike watched the officials huddle as they calculated each team’s final score. Ten minutes passed and then one man walked over to Colonel Grierson. Glancing at the piece of paper handed to him, he stood up and faced the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I have the honor of announcing the winner of Fort Huachuca’s semi-annual Field Competition. The team with the highest score is Company C from the Ninth Cavalry, led by Sergeant Washington. Congratulations!”

Applause rang out and the five men on the winning team, smiling broadly, went to receive their trophy from their commanding officer. Sergeant Washington, accepting on his team’s behalf, thanked first his teammates, then the officers of the garrison, and finally the audience.

Then, the winners heard even more welcome news from Grierson. “Sergeant, I hereby grant you and your teammates leave this evening to go into Huachuca Town to celebrate.”

Washington and the two other soldiers beamed. Heyes and Curry looked at each other, then simultaneously turned to the sergeant.

He answered their unspoken question. “Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, we’d like you to come, too. You’re a big reason we won today and it’s only right you join us.”

“We’d be real glad to,” Curry quickly said.

“As long as you’re sure…?” Heyes checked.

“Yes, sir, we’re sure,” Washington said, and Seymour and Robinson nodded.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

The three black soldiers and two white civilians draped the reins of their horses over the hitching post in front of the first saloon they came to.

“This one be new,” Sergeant Washington said.

“I don’t care. If it’s got cold beer and warm girls, it’ll be fine!” Private Robinson said, to general laughter.

They pushed through the bat wing doors and as they stood there surveying the scene, the room fell quiet. Curry and Heyes, followed by the soldiers, walked up to the bar.

“Five beers, please,” Curry said.

“We don’t serve fellas like you here,” the barkeep told him.

“Oh? You mean soldiers? Or civilians? ‘Cos I see both in here right now.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, I don’t. How ‘bout you spell it out for me?” Curry replied in a hard voice.

The barkeep pointed at the soldiers and said, “We don’t serve them here.”

“Why not? They can pay.”

“Thaddeus,” warned Heyes.

“I want to hear him say it, Joshua.” Curry didn’t look at Heyes and continued staring at the bartender.

The man behind the bar noted his other customers’ support and stood his ground. Defiantly, he said, “We don’t serve colored soldiers here.”

“Fine. We don’t want to drink here neither. Let’s go.” Curry turned and walked out the door. The others followed.

“Is there another saloon that’s more welcoming?” Heyes asked.

Washington shrugged. “They’ll serve us, if that’s what you mean.”

Heyes and Curry received hostile glances as they made their way down the main street in the company of Sergeant Washington and his men. When they reached their destination, Heyes pulled Curry aside before entering. “What was that for?”

“I don’t know, Heyes. I just didn’t like how they were treated back there.”

“Well, don’t get into any gunfights over it. It ain’t worth the attention we’d get.”

Nodding his acknowledgment, Curry and Heyes joined the others who were already sitting at a table, their beer glasses half drained. Curry waved a blonde saloon girl over. “Another round for us all.”

She returned with five glasses and deposited them on the table. “C’mere, honey,” Private Robinson said, and reached out to pull her towards him.

“I’m busy,” she said, resisting.

Robinson looked around. Another saloon girl, a redhead, was leaning against the bar, waiting for customers to call for her services. Four men played poker at the only other table that was occupied. Heyes wandered over to observe the action.

“Don’t look it to me,” the private said, grinning.

The blonde looked over to her friend at the bar, who gave her a pitying glance.

Curry saw that and asked, “What’s the matter? Ain’t you available when a customer asks?”

“I am if you’re the one askin’,” the girl told him coyly.

“Maybe after my friend here’s had his pleasure,” Curry said. “If’n he tells me he had a good time.”

The girl’s face fell. “It’ll cost a dollar.”

Curry narrowed his eyes. “You that good you can charge double the usual amount?”

Robinson slowly stood up. “I’ll let you know,” he said, and led the girl up the stairs.

Curry sat drinking with the sergeant and the other buffalo soldier, watching Heyes watch the game.

“Got room for one more?” Heyes asked after a few minutes.

“We don’t need your money,” one of the men told him.

“Money’s money,” a second man said. “It don’t change color depending on who’s holding it.”

“Or not holding onto it, as the case may be. Sit down. If you can afford to lose, you’re welcome here,” a third man laughed.

By the time Private Robinson descended the stairs, Heyes had a sizable amount in front of him. He bought the men a round of drinks, then took his winnings and went back to his teammates.

The blonde came over to Curry and, smiling, said, “I’ll give you a special deal.”

Glancing at the buffalo soldier’s face, Curry said coldly, ‘No, thanks.” She flounced away and Curry said to no one in particular, “She’s not my type.”

Heyes bought his teammates a round as well and after they’d been served, asked, “Is it like this all the time?”

“Pretty much,” answered Washington. “We protect them from the Apache, keep the roads to Tombstone and Bisbee clear, but we ain’t welcome in their town. That’s gratitude for you.”

The two other soldiers nodded. “Mebbe it’ll change one day but until then, we just do our jobs best we can and stay outta trouble,” Seymour said.

“Not all white folk are bad,” Washington said. “Some of them are right decent. Like Colonel Grierson.”

The men sipped their beers in silence for a while, until Washington stood up. “Excuse me, gentlemen,” he said. “I have some business to take care of.” He went out the back of the saloon.

About twenty minutes later, he returned.

“Everything all right?” Heyes asked.

“It is now! Jus’ took me a while, is all. Nothin’ to worry about,” Washington assured him.

Several drinks later, the group headed back to Fort Huachuca.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“How could this happen?” Heyes demanded the next morning. He and Curry were in Colonel Grierson’s office.

“Gentlemen, I had no choice. Two townsmen have accused Sergeant Washington of stealing a horse. Until I complete my investigation, I’m afraid the sergeant is confined to quarters.”

“Does he have a lawyer yet? I’d like to represent him if he doesn’t,” Heyes offered.

“Do you have any experience with the law, Mr. Smith?”

Heyes didn’t look at Curry as he answered, “Yes. I’m familiar with all aspects of the criminal justice system.”

Grierson regarded Heyes, who didn’t flinch under his scrutiny. “That won’t be necessary. The Army will provide a lawyer, should the case go to court martial. However, unofficially you understand, I doubt it will come to that.”

“We’re glad to hear that, sir,” Curry said, relieved.

Grierson nodded, as if making a decision. “Gentlemen, your behavior over the past few days, and especially now, proves to me that you had nothing to do with what happened to those settlers in the desert. A patrol will be heading towards Bisbee this afternoon. You are free to travel with them.”

“May we see Sergeant Washington before we leave?”

“Yes, Mr. Jones. He doesn’t have any restrictions on visitors.”

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

Heyes sat in a chair and Curry sat on the cot next to Washington in his quarters.

“Sergeant, we’d like to help.”

“Ain’t nothin’ you can do. But thanks for the offer.”

“Mr. Jones means that we know you’re innocent, and we’d be glad to tell a court that.”

“That’s real nice of you boys, but why would you do that?”

“”Cos we know you ain’t the horse-stealin’ type, that’s why.”

“Know a lot of folks like that, do you?”

Curry grinned. “No. But we’ve gotten to know you these past few days, and we know you’re a fine soldier.”

“You wouldn’t dishonor your uniform by stealing a horse,” Heyes said. “Besides, why would a soldier in the cavalry steal a horse? You have all the horses you need right here.”

“Seems that logic escaped the townsfolk,” Washington said dryly.

He was silent for a while, then asked, “Why are you two so willin’ to put yourselves at risk on my account?”

“What do you mean?” Curry asked.

“I mean, I know who you are.”

“Sure you do,” Heyes replied, looking warily at his partner. “I’m Joshua Smith and he’s Thaddeus Jones.”

“No. I know who you really are, and it ain’t a good idea for you boys to be in a courtroom.”

Curry and Heyes made no response.

Pointing first to Heyes and then to Curry, Washington said, “You’re Hannibal Heyes and he’s Kid Curry.”

The two white men looked at each other. At an almost imperceptible nod from Curry, Heyes asked, “Did you know that the whole time?”

“Nope. Not until I saw Mr. Curry shoot in the forest. That’s why I wanted you on my team. I knew we’d win if Kid Curry was on it!”

“Surely you could use the money. Why didn’t you turn us in for the reward?” Heyes asked, curious.

Washington’s eyes took on a faraway look. “I had a friend once. My best friend, actually. We grew up together, on a slave plantation in Mississippi.”

Heyes and Curry waited for the soldier to continue.

“After the war, we headed West. I joined the Army and wanted my friend to join, too. But he said no, he was done with takin’ orders from white men. He wanted to be his own boss. One day, ‘bout two years ago, I got a telegram from him. Said he was gonna be rich and we could finally buy that farm we’d talked about havin’ for ourselves.”

“Go on,” Heyes encouraged.

“The telegram said he’d captured two notorious outlaws, Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes, and was bringin’ them in. Said it was his biggest score ever.”

Washington swallowed, then said, “That was the last time I ever heard from him.”

Heyes asked softly, “What was your friend’s name?”

Smiling sadly, Washington said, “You know who he was. Joe Simms. He was a bounty hunter, professional.”

“He was a good man,” Curry said.

“He was a good judge of character,” the sergeant responded. “Later, I heard Joe had been killed by a white rancher. Two men told the sheriff in Big Butte what happened, but he didn’t do nothin’.”

“We gave him a decent burial. It was the only thing we could do,” Curry said.

“No, you tried to get justice for him. And that’s why I didn’t tell anyone who you two are.”

They sat there for a while, the buffalo soldier and the two civilians, reflecting on past events. Finally, Heyes asked, “Are you sure you’ll be all right, Sergeant?”

“Yes. The Colonel knows what really happened. It’s Army business. You don’t need to worry ‘bout me.”

“We’re glad to hear that. And if that’s the case, we’ll be on our way now,” Heyes told Washington.

“Good-bye, Sergeant, and good luck. It was a pleasure bein’ your teammate,” Curry said as he shook Washington’s hand.

“Thanks,” Heyes said, also shaking the soldier’s hand.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

“You know what, Heyes?” Curry asked, as he finished saddling his horse in the corral.

“What?”

“Remember that good deed we did?”

Already mounted, Heyes looked down at his partner and remained silent.

“I think we just did another one. Maybe it’s kind of catchin’, like bein’ law-abidin’.”

“Like catching a disease, more like,” Heyes muttered. Shaking his head, he said, “I wouldn’t go that far, Kid.”

“No? How far would you go, Heyes?”

“As far as Bisbee! Come on, that copper is just waiting for us to mine it!”

Curry groaned as he climbed on his horse and followed Heyes out of Fort Huachuca.






Author’s Notes:
This story was inspired by a visit the writer made to Fort Huachuca, a real Army post in southeastern Arizona, in July 2010. However, the writer has taken many liberties with the history of the fort. In 1913, the Tenth Cavalry, composed of buffalo soldiers, was stationed there under the command of General Benjamin H. Grierson. For the purpose of this story, Grierson has been transferred to the Ninth Cavalry, which served at Fort Huachuca beginning in 1898; since the timeframe is earlier, his rank has been changed to that of colonel. There was a real Sergeant Nicola Washington in the Ninth Cavalry but he was stationed at Fort Davis in Texas, as were Private Alexander Robinson and Private Abner Seymour, who was promoted to corporal on September 26, 1867; all three buffalo soldiers were in Company C. The names of all the soldiers in this story are used fictitiously and any resemblance to historical people is purely coincidental.


(Writers love feedback! You can tell Ghislaine how you enjoyed the story with a quick comment. Just click Post Reply - bottom right corner - for the Comments for Detours thread below the story. You don't have to sign in and you can be anonymous.)
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:46 pm by royannahuggins
BONUS FEATURES


Fort Huachuca Map

Source: The Smoke Signal, published by the Tucson Corral of the Westerners, Spring 1974 (reprinted 1984), No. 29.

~~<>~~<>~~<>~~


The photos below were taken by the author
during a visit to Fort Huachuca on July 13, 2010

Entrance to Fort Huachuca



History of Buffalo Soldiers at the Fort



Two Life-Size Models of Buffalo Soldiers





Map of Arizona Territory



Two Views of Modern-Day Fort Huachuca





What Soldiers Ate at Fort Huachuca



More about Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Huachuca


~~<>~~<>~~<>~~

Selected Resources Used for this Episode:

Online Resources

Finley, James P. (Volume 1, 1993). “The Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Huachuca.” In Huachuca Illustrated: A Magazine of the Fort Huachuca Museum.
http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment/huachuca/HI1-00index.htm

National Park Service, Fort Davis in Texas. Links to webpages about Buffalo Soldiers and general military history of the West:
http://www.nps.gov/archive/foda/Fort_Davis_WEB_PAGE/HOME.htm

Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Ethan Allen in Vermont:
http://personalweb.smcvt.edu/thefort/History/BuffaloSoldiers.htm

Scott, Robert N. (1873). An Analytical digest of the military laws of the United States. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co. Available online at: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6294250M/An_analytical_digest_of_the_military_laws_of_the_United_States


Print Resources

Rolak, Bruni J. (Spring 1974). “History of Fort Huachuca, 1877-1890,” in The Smoke Signal. Published by the Tucson Corral of the Westerners. Pages 206-224.

The Buffalo Soldier on the American Frontier. Compiled from The Buffalo Soldier by Donnie D. Good and The Post Civil War Army and the Black Soldier 1866-1898 by Anthony L. Powell. Published by Thomas Gilchrease Museum Association, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Undated.


Additional Resources
(The author has not verified the veracity of the information presented in these resources)

Detailed history of Buffalo Soldiers:
http://www.buffalosoldier.net/

9th Memorial Cavalry:
http://www.9thcavalry.com/index2.htm
(Click on links to History, Music, and Videos in the frame at the left)

YouTube video about Buffalo Soldiers (2 min 25 sec):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mEbEi5EnpY&feature=player_embedded
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:48 pm by royannahuggins
PENSKI - Wow - LOVE all the historical facts you had in your story! You can tell you did a lot a research. And I loved the bonus section with the maps and pictures. Oh, and the story ... they take a different route (a detour) and end up in quite the mess. Very interesting how Washington tested them in the dining hall and later wanted them on his team, knowing who they were. AND the tie in with Joe Simms and The Bounty Hunter ... PERFECT!

Great episode, Ghislaine!
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:49 pm by royannahuggins
NM131 - Great episode and bonus page. In fact, I looked at the bonus page first. All your research and your experience from your visit really added authenticity to the story. So many great lines and scenes between the partners. I liked how true to character the partners are with Kid more overt in his wanting to help and Heyes' frustration with that trait but in reality Heyes feels the same way. Washington was a nicely devolped character and the tie in to "The Bounty Hunter" was a good touch. In the midst of such a good story I have to admit the "throw away" lines regarding Kyle elicited the reaction for which they were intented - a hearty chuckle. And for a final note, you handled the race issue well plus I learned from your story and bonus page - Thanks.
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:49 pm by royannahuggins
SILVERKELPIE - I absolutely love the historical detail, that's always very important to me, but it's only a supporting act to a great story in which their charcters play out so true to form. Neither of them can help getting competitive when they get caught up in the action and it all ties in nicely as a follow up to an episope. Beautiful dialogue and a great characters.
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:49 pm by royannahuggins
LANA COOMBE - Another great episode for the series. The research gave the story real authenticity and I loved all the characters - the 'boys' were particularly well done.. Think you did a good job in handling the race issues without overplaying it. The reference to Joe Simms was unexpected but fitted in really well. Another winner!
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:50 pm by royannahuggins
FRISCOGIRL - Loved the story! Great phrase at the very beginning: "Quick as an Arizona rainstorm..." ! I knew Heyes would win the horse race...and could there be any doubt Kid would feel honor bound to win the shooting? The tie in to Joe Simms was icing on the cake...nice little moral lesson at the end about doing a good deed. by the way, I was in the area of Fort Huachuca a few years back...doing a story on the cruise missiles being tested there. I MUCH prefer to "visit" the area in its more historical time period. Thanks for the extra details and maps. Makes me want to return.
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:50 pm by royannahuggins
(This is Skykomish lurking as anonymous.) I was a history major way back in my college days, so I am a sucker for the historical detail. Your research really paid off adding authenticity and clarity. The story itself was fun and very entertaining. I liked the more serious note at the end with the references back to Joe Simms and the 'Boutny Hunter.' Thank you for taking the time to write this. I appreciate the hard work of all of you writers.
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:50 pm by royannahuggins
Really enjoyed this. Loved the tie in to the good deed from 'The Bounty Hunter' ( one of my favoritist ASJ episodes). Nice handling of the issue of race. The scenery descriptions were lovely. Very nice job!!! CA
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:50 pm by royannahuggins
This is Allegra being too lazy to sign in - Ghislaine - this is a super story. I am really impressed with the amount of research you did for it. The bonus page is a fab idea and it's wonderful to get a real picture of a place that really was then to tie that in with a truly excellent story. You've got the boys down perfectly, the competitiveness is fun to 'watch' - they can't help themselves can they. Also Kid's going over to help and Heyes' reluctance but going along with it because it's the right thing to do really... Love the tie in with the bounty hunter - the issues that it addressed are added to nicely here. An extremely well-written piece - and a lot of fun to boot!!
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:51 pm by royannahuggins
ANITAMS - What a great story! The research and authentic touches really added to the excitement.
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:51 pm by royannahuggins
Max here,
Ghis - that was wonderful. I enjoyed everything about it, absolutely everything. It was fascinating because of all your hard work on the history, and it was a warm fuzzy watching the boys bond and win their team medals, and then it was an unexpected heartstring jerk at the end. Never would have guess the Sergeant was an old buddy of Joes.
AND, anything with Wood Strode in it has my vote. So glad to have stoic Sergeant Rutledge - I mean Washington (smile) - as our hero. If you could have just worked him taking his shirt off and giving us a Spartacus moment I would have to give you eleven out of ten!!!
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Re: Detours by Ghislaine Emrys
Post on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 2:52 pm by royannahuggins
FORTITUDINE - Woody Strode and Harry Morgan! You did a great job with this story.
 

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