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 The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit

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Lana Coombe

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Posts : 33
Join date : 2013-09-27
Location : UK

20140409
PostThe Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit

A series of challenges, written as a continuous story, using the given monthly title - a challenge in itself!

Beating the Odds


The beat of their hearts echoed the rhythmic drumming of the horses’ hooves, as they pounded the dry, cracked ground. Clouds of dust rose into the air behind them, floating upwards, hanging for a moment, until they had passed, before descending and settling once more, showing the route they had taken. Every so often they pulled their horses to a stop, as one of them tried to disguise their tracks, by disturbing the dirt with a branch, before remounting and heading on their way, at a swift pace.



The last three days had been spent like this, with only an occasional reprieve, to drink some water and chew on some jerky. The continual exertion and eternal heat was beginning to take its toll, on both men and horses. 



Wordlessly, they had pulled their horses to a stop at the top of a bluff, each scanning the surrounding area in the hope that there would be nothing to see, but once again they were disappointed. The ominous dust ball on the horizon signalled that the twelve, strong posse was still on their trail. With heads hung low, the horses strained for breath, their flanks rising and falling, causing their riders to rock gently in their saddles.



“They sure are a persistent bunch, ain’t they?!”



It was more of a statement than a question and, as such, the man’s partner merely answered with a thoughtful, “Hmm!” as he narrowed his dark eyes, in contemplative thought.



“What d’ya think we should try next, Heyes? These horses ain’t got much left in them and it won’t be long until they get too close for comfort.” He looked hopefully across at the dark, haired man, hands resting on the horn of the saddle, in a seemingly relaxed pose. But neither man felt anything like relaxed, at this moment, each facing a possibility of twenty years in prison or even death. The wanted posters said ‘Dead or Alive’ and it meant just that and most posses weren’t too particular when it came to bringing in wanted outlaws. Especially ones with such a reputation and a substantial reward on their heads.



When no answer was forthcoming, Kid Curry reluctantly offered, “Do you think we should split up?”



He was taken by surprise at Heyes’ quick and sharp response of, “No!” but at the same time, relieved. Their partnership was what had made them so successful and it seemed only right that they should stay together. The Kid waited patiently, watching the approaching dust cloud, apprehension tightening his stomach, as it got closer and closer.



Heyes gathered his reins and gave his partner a reassuring smile, showing the familiar dimples in his cheeks. “Well, we can’t sit here all day waiting for them to catch us up!” he said with a false cheerfulness, as he wheeled his horse up the trail. The Kid sat for a moment, feeling amazed at his partner’s ability to keep good humour in their present predicament, before following faithfully behind.



By the time the skies had begun to darken, with the onset of night, they had reached the rocky foothills of some higher ground. Neither man had spoken for some time, exhaustion and strain getting the better of them.



Eventually, Heyes, who had been leading the way, stopped his horse and untied the bandana from around his throat. He splashed a small amount of water from his canteen onto it and wiped his face and the back of his neck. His partner sat motionless in his saddle, fighting to keep his eyes open, shoulders sagging and stomach rumbling, loudly.



Heyes proffered the canteen in his direction, asking, as he did so, “Reckon we might be able to lose them in the dark over this harder ground?”

The Kid took the canteen and took a small sip, knowing there was little water left and unsure when they’d have the chance to refill it again.



“At this stage, anything is worth a try,” he answered, wearily, passing the canteen back to Heyes, who took a small mouthful himself, before snapping on the lid. 



“Right!” he said, decisively, trying to maintain a positive attitude, as he prepared to urge his tired horse further up the trail.



The horses slowly dragged themselves up the incline, heads down, on a loose rein. Heyes and Kid both clung grimly to their saddle horns, as the horses stumbled their way forward, in the encroaching darkness. After about an hour of this tiresome task, the Kid’s horse finally gave out and stopped in its tracks, refusing to take another step. Its rider didn’t have the energy or will to drive it on and sat forlornly in the saddle, with chin drooped down to his chest. 



Heyes’ horse continued to plod on a little further up the trail, but sensing that the other was not behind it, stopped also. Its rider glanced over his shoulder, at his dejected partner. Heyes felt pretty much the same but he refused to give in now, not after all they had gone through, in the hope of getting amnesty. Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself to rally Kid for one last push up to the top of the ridge.



“What you waiting for?” he called down amiably. As he sat and waited for a reply, something caught his eye on the plain below. The flashes of light told him that the posse were still following, carrying torches, so that they could see their trail. Heyes cursed under his breath and then, in a more forceful tone, “Come on, Kid, we’ve got to keep moving!”



The urgency in his partner’s voice galvanised the Kid into action. Taking a deep breath, he gathered the reins and encouraged his horse onwards. They had only gone a short distance, when the trail petered out, to nothing but rock and scrub. The tired horses were finding it nigh on impossible to find space, between the rocks, to place their hooves and finally Heyes and the Kid conceded defeat and dismounted.



The Kid pulled at his horse’s ear and spoke soothingly to it, more to calm himself, than the animal. Heyes stared at the rocky terrain above them, thoughtfully.



“What d’ya reckon’s on the other side?” Heyes queried.



“Knowing our luck, another posse!” came the Kid’s despondent retort. Heyes gave his partner an appreciative smile. Their sense of humour was one of the things that had kept them going through all the troubles of their lives.



“Best not disappoint them then!” came the droll reply, making the Kid let out a small laugh. Without a further word between them, they retrieved what they needed and turned the horses loose. Hopefully, they would move off and leave a false trail that the posse would follow. Together they began to scramble up the rough ground, having to use their hands to steady themselves, in parts.



After about half an hour of climbing they stopped, to take a breath and check their back trail. They were unnerved to see the glow of the posse’s torches coming up the hill but had a brief moment of joy as they began to move off, in the wrong direction, following the horses’ tracks. 



“You reckon we lost ‘em, Heyes?” the Kid asked, breathlessly.



Heyes narrowed his eyes in the darkness, peering into the gloom, in the direction that the glow had come from, saying, “Only for a while, Kid. Posse like this don’t give up too easy.” He reached out in the darkness and gave his partner’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze before continuing his scramble up the incline. Kid Curry took one last glance down the hillside and then followed behind.



Onwards and upwards they climbed, hand over foot, in a desperate effort to distance themselves from their pursuers. Beads of sweat, from the exertion, chilled almost instantaneously, in the cool of the night, intensifying the misery at every step, but still they kept climbing. They neared the pinnacle of the ascent some time later, just as the cold light of dawn began to creep across the rocks, casting lengthening shadows. Finally, Heyes sank down on a boulder, bracing his hands against his knees, struggling to breathe. The Kid joined him, laying back against a larger rock, throwing back his head to rest against it. Both men were having to haul in every breath they took.



“We need to rest, Heyes,” the Kid gasped, between breaths.



“I know,” his partner rasped back, unscrewing the top of the canteen and lifting it to his lips. As he tipped it fully upwards, only a single droplet trickled out. Heyes shook the container with frustration, before tossing it angrily aside.



The Kid pushed himself off the rock and slid down to sit next to Heyes, letting his arms rest loosely on his knees, tipping his head forward, to shield his eyes from the rising sun.



“It’s going to be a hot one today,” he murmured in a soft, low voice. Then, in an equally quiet voice he added, “What we going to do, Heyes?” Memories of a small, tousled, fair-headed kid came back to Heyes, as he remembered the day that had formed their lives, when Jed Curry had looked to him for a reassurance that he wasn’t sure he could give. He felt the same now. 



Not wishing to let his friend down, he replied, “I think we should keep moving and keep as far away from that posse as we can!” Standing up, he reached out his hand and took the Kid’s arm and pulled him to his feet. Wordlessly they began to continue their climb. 



The air was warm and still and both men were parched. The only sound was the click of boot against rock and the draw of their breath. Suddenly, they heard a noise echoing from further down the hillside. It was the reverberation of men’s voices, calling to each other. Their trail had been found and the posse was continuing its pursuit on foot.



A resolute look passed between the partners before they, slowly, continued on their way. A sort while later they reached the top of the ridge, which was formed with vast, craggy rocks that rose upwards, with hard, blank faces. Heyes searched for a way through to the other side, so they could descend down into the valley below, but each way he turned seemed impassable. Panic rose into his chest as he scrambled about the rock face, trying to find a gap wide enough to squeeze through. The Kid looked too, but there seemed to be no way through at this particular point.



“There’s no way through, Heyes,” the Kid said, finally.



“There has to be!” replied his partner, trying to control the desperation he was feeling.



“I could give you a push up,” the Kid offered.



“And how would you get up?” Heyes answered, irritably.



“I’d find a way,” came the nonchalant reply.



“I know what you’re trying to do!” his partner retorted. “I ain’t leaving you, so you can get that idea out of your head!”



“Look, at least if one of us gets away then there would be a chance of helping the other. As it is, we’re pretty much cornered here and …”



“No! We’ll just to have to go back down and try in another place.” Heyes was already making his way down the rocks, hunting for another possible way through. The Kid gave a sigh and began to follow him again when he suddenly froze. A flash of light, a short way off, had caught his eye. He stilled himself and watched again. A movement to his left drew his attention. It was a little way down the hillside but he was pretty sure it had been a man, rifle in hand, moving between the rocks. Taking his own gun from its holster, he checked it was fully loaded. The coolness of the metal in his hand calmed and reassured him that he was still in control. Making his way forwards, he kept scanning the hillside for any further movement, until he reached Heyes, who was about to crawl across a large, smooth rock, making him a visible and open target to anyone who was following.



“Heyes!” the Kid called in a harsh whisper. Heyes looked over his shoulder irritably at his partner. “It ain’t safe to go across there. The posse’s right on our heels.”



Heyes’ eyes widened with this news. He took another desperate look up the rock face at the top of the ridge.



“We’ll never make it. They’ll be able to pick us off like bottles on a log! I think we gotta go back further down and try and make it over to that next ridge,” the Kid said, indicating another group of rocks with a nod of his head.



“And how we gonna make it across there, huh? You thought about that?” Heyes asked impatiently.



“We’ll have to make a run for it. You go first and I’ll cover you. Then you cover me when I run across.” The Kid purposefully did not meet Heyes’ eye, but instead concentrated on checking his gun once more. He did not need to look at his friend to know the expression that would be on his face.



“Oh! You’ve really thought that one through, ain’t ya?” Heyes raised his eyebrows in exasperation.



“You got any better ideas?” The Kid gripped the butt of his gun firmly.



“Nope!”



Heyes manoeuvred himself into a position where he would have a clear run to the other rocks, allowing the Kid to cover his back. He suspected that there were still twelve men out there, all too eager, to do their best, to stop him. His partner stood calmly by his side, with that all too familiar look of stoical concentration on his face. It was at times like these that Heyes understood why he trusted his friend so implicitly.



“Ready?” the Kid asked calmly.



Heyes swallowed hard, wishing they had some whiskey to settle the fear in his stomach. “As I’ll ever be.”



Their eyes met and the Kid nodded his head and gave a soft smile of encouragement. Heyes smiled back and turned to look at the ground he had to cover. It wasn’t that far but he’d be out in the open for a good few seconds, but he’d have Kid covering his back and have the element of surprise on his side. Even if he did make it across, Kid wouldn’t have the same benefits. They’d be waiting for him and Heyes wasn’t such a good shot. He turned to his partner and began to say, “You know, I’ve been thinking! Perhaps you ought to go first …” but the Kid stopped him with a stubborn look.



Heyes readied himself once more. As he made his move, the first deafening shot echoed around the surrounding rocks. He focused on the path ahead of him and began to run as fast as he could, feeling the motion of bullets as they whistled past him and ricochet off the surrounding rocks. Heyes had been a gambler all his life but, for once, he wasn’t sure they could beat the odds …

_________________
'If I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor.'


Last edited by Lana Coombe on Thu 10 Apr 2014, 6:23 pm; edited 2 times in total
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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit :: Comments

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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit - Part 2
Post on Thu 10 Apr 2014, 6:21 pm by Lana Coombe
The Lie


“Are you OK?” 

Hannibal Heyes was crouched down behind a large rock. His partner, Kid Curry was a little ways off, behind a similar rock. 



“Yeah! You?” Heyes sighed with relief at the sound of his partner’s voice.



“Yeah, I’m fine. Can you see them?”



Having been pursued by a relentless posse for the last three days, they had made a desperate attempt to loose them once and for all. Heyes had made a run for cover through the rocks, while the Kid covered him with his gun. Next, Heyes covered the Kid as he made the dash across the open ground. Once the again the crack and ping of bullets had resonated about the surrounding rocks. With a lunging dive, the Kid had found cover behind a nearby boulder.



Both men gasped for breath, winded by sheer exertion and breathless with anxiety. The Kid rolled himself on his side and peered around his rock. The sharp snap of a bullet ricocheting passed him made him draw his head back swiftly. He closed his eyes and found his head was swimming. Taking in several deep breaths he tried to calm himself.



Heyes pressed his back against his rock and closed his eyes also, so as to help him think more clearly. He reckoned that it would not be that much further to the top, so that they could descend into the valley below, giving them a little time to widen the gap between themselves and the posse, who would take a little while to climb to the top and find their tracks.



“Kid?” he called.



“Huh?” came the faint reply.



“I reckon we can make it if we go now and you cover me again. When I get to the top, I’ll cover you. I’m getting low on bullets though. How about you?”



The Kid swallowed hard as he shifted position to check his belt for ammunition. He counted about ten bullets - not many, but enough. “I’ve got a couple of rounds,” he told his partner. “Think we need to move as quickly as possible before they get too close. When I say ‘Go,’ you start running while I keep ‘em busy. You just keep running, Heyes. D’ya hear me?”



“Yeah, I hear you. I’ll take it up when I get to that rock at the top,” he answered. 



“No!” the Kid’s reply was sharp. “When you get to the top, you just keep going as I’m going to be right behind you and I don’t want to be tripping over you! You understand? You just keep running, Heyes. Head for the river, as that’ll be our best chance of loosing them once and for all.”



“Don’t you want me to cover you?” Heyes questioned.



There was a pause for a moment. Heyes smiled to himself, picturing Kid thinking this through behind his rock, checking every detail, ensuring the safest route for them both.



“No. I figure with both of us running we’ve got a better chance of avoiding getting hit as they won’t be able to track both of us.” The Kid bit his lip and wiped his shirt sleeve across his now perspiring brow and gritted his teeth. ‘Please, Heyes, don’t be stubborn about this,’ he pleaded quietly to himself.



“Well, if you’re sure that’s the best way to play it …” Heyes deferred to his partner’s superior understanding of these situations and always trusted him on such matters.



“Yeah - I’m sure,” came the definite response. “You ready?” he continued.



“As I’ll ever be! You?” 



Another pause. Kid Curry gulped mouthfuls of air before checking his gun was fully loaded one more time. “Yep, ready!” 



“Right!” The Kid heard the scratch of the dirt as Heyes shifted himself into position. He did not move but merely let his eyes drift slowly down his body to his left leg and the glaring, dark, red patch on his jeans that was now slowly spreading across the ground. The bullet was deep and he was beginning to loose feeling. His leg felt like a great weight tied to his body, one that refused to let him move. He winced once more at the throbbing ache, clenching his teeth as he tried to manoeuvre himself, so that he would have a clearer shot down the hillside.



Gathering his breath and squeezing his eyes shut against the piercing pain, he called out, “Remember, Heyes, just keep running. I’ll be right behind you!”



Heyes shoved his hat more firmly on his head and prepared himself for the next dash. Just as he was about to run, the Kid called out, “Heyes? You take care of yourself, you hear?”



“You too, partner,” came the reply.

As Heyes began to run, he heard the first few shots from the Kid’s gun ring out and him call, “Keep running, Heyes. I’m right behind you!”.
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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit - Part 3
Post on Sun 13 Apr 2014, 2:24 pm by Lana Coombe
No Love Lost

“Keep running, Heyes!”



The words echoed through his head but all he could see was swirling darkness. A groan. Realisation the sound had emitted from his own mouth. Aches and pains, shooting through his body. A resolute pounding in his head. A swallow, constricted by the dryness of his throat.



As consciousness slowly crept back, so did fragmented recollections.



The sharp crack of gunfire, the splinters of rock as shots ricocheted around him. His own gun clicking uselessly after firing his last bullet. The desperation and fear as he tried to crawl away, as they closed in and descended upon him, like a pack of dogs. His obstinate leg, which had refused to let him move. The searing pain as hands grabbed and pulled, twisting his body onto his chest. The wrenching, as his hands were yanked behind him and securely fastened with strips of raw hide, pulled so tight his fingers tingled almost instantaneously. The taunts and the clouts inflicted on him as he was dragged upwards, only to fall to the ground again, hampered by the bullet in his leg. The whoops of excitement and celebration at the quarry having been caught.



Then came a shout. 



Standing on top of a ridge, silhouetted against the sun was a lone, dark figure. A shot rang out, sending the men scurrying for cover behind various rocks. He remembered the air being driven out of him when he was pushed against a rock, landing heavily on his side. The feel of cold steel against his temple, as one of his captors pressed a gun to his head. The whistles, hollers and the sound of boot on rock as the rest of the posse spread out, towards the ridge. 



His breath had become laboured, as it was now, his chest tight as he tried to draw air into his lungs. The tension unbearable. More joyful cries as the men reappeared with a restrained man. 



Heyes! He hadn’t kept running!



More shouting. Heyes yelling about someone needing a doctor.



The Kid caught his breath as he remember the struggling form of his partner, being held by two men, while a third fisted him, first in the face and then in the belly. He groaned at the memory and stared into the darkness trying to recall the next events.



Heyes’ face, full of fury and turmoil, just like those times in Valparaiso, when he’d tried to stop him getting another beating. The Kid screwed his eyes shut, trying to remember. His leg ached. The bullet. Was it still in there? It hurt like hell but he couldn’t be sure. Someone had kicked him, or his leg to be more accurate.



Now he remembered. Heyes had gone berserk, lashing out and managed to strike one of the men, causing the others to set upon him like a gang of wild coyotes, punching and kicking. His useless leg kept him pinned to the spot and all he’d been able to do was watch as the violent assault on Heyes continued. He’d endeavoured to help, knocking the man standing over him, on the ankles with his good leg, toppling him to the floor. There hadn’t been much more he could do with his hands fastened behind his back. His memory blurred ….



The Kid’s head protested once more. A recollection of a sharp pain on the back of his skull filtered through. They must have knocked him out, he concluded. He had come to, from time to time, as he had some notion of lying across a horse on his belly, feeling the jarring pain course through his leg and invade his whole body and then …. darkness again.



But what had happened to his partner? Where was Heyes?



Turning his attention to his present surroundings, or rather, what he could see of them, he tried to focus his eyes and his mind. The gloom was receding and the dim light of dawn caressed the walls. He twisted his head a fraction to his left. Bars! Somehow that didn’t come as a great surprise. Beyond was a door, slightly ajar, through which the yellow, beam of a lamp glowed. He could just make out a chair and the edge of a desk -an office. 



Drawing a breath, he slowly rotated his head to the right. More bars. There were two cells. As his eyes adjusted to the low light, he could just make out a shape in the adjacent cell. The figure wasn’t moving. He couldn’t make out who it was too clearly but had a very good idea. The discarded battered, black hat, with silver trim, confirmed his suspicions. He studied the form intently, looking for any sign of movement. A faint rise and fall of the chest told him his partner was still breathing. He strained to see the extent of his condition but the shadows refused to reveal any visible injuries. It was then that he noticed the metal cuff securing Heyes’ right wrist to the bars of the cell, his hand hanging limply from its binding.



Kid Curry groaned quietly. The situation was going from bad to worse. This was one mess that he could see they’d have real trouble getting out of! His own guilt at having got shot, his inability to escape and protect his partner, played heavily on his mind. Now Heyes was in a really bad way too. His frustration and trepidation made him curse silently to himself and at his partner. ‘Damn you, Heyes! Why’d you come back? You should’ve kept running. You could’ve been outta there! Now we’re both stuck in this place!’



The jail appeared quiet so the Kid chanced trying to get Heyes’ attention. At first, he could little more than a soft grunt, his parched throat still protesting. Summoning what moisture he could, he managed a hiss. When he got no response, he hissed a little louder and called Heyes’ name, but still there was no reply from the figure in the next cell.



Suddenly he heard the scrape of a chair across the floor and the room darkened slightly, as a figure appeared in the doorway. Heavy footsteps echoed ominously as a man approached his cell.



“You ain’t dead then?” came the dispassionate remark. “Weren’t sure you’d make it after the Doc dug that bullet outta your leg!”



The Kid stayed silent, observing the man. He remembered him now. This was the man who had kicked him. This was the one who had beaten Heyes, while the other men held him. The Kid’s jaw tensed but still he said nothing. The man could not see his blue eyes blaze dangerously, in the darkness.



“Who’d have thought it? The notorious Kid Curry, caught like a rabbit in a trap! It was quite a chase you gave us and the end was disappointingly easy!” he said scornfully.



The Kid pressed his lips tightly together, trying to keep his mounting anger under control.



Not getting the rise he’d hoped for, the man continued, “Thought Hannibal Heyes was the smart one! Why in tar- nation he come back like that? Didn’t do his self any favours!”



The Kid knew the answer but did nor share it with the man.



“Your friend there put up quite a fight! Had to knock him out in the end. May have hit him a little too hard! Look at the state he’s gotten himself into now!” the man sneered, indicating the prone figure in the next cell with a jerk of his head, before turning and walking back to his office.



Disdainfully watching the retreating back, the Kid felt no love loss. In fact, at the first given opportunity he planned to settle the score with that ******* who had done this to him and his partner. He’d think of a way out, somehow. There was no way he’d lose the best partner he’d ever had because of that man! He owed it to Heyes for what he’d done, coming back for him the way he had and he aimed to pay him back - with interest. 



***************





Author’s note: This series of stories relies totally on the given writing challenge titles and I have no preconceived ideas of what will happen next, which makes it exciting and interesting to write. I hope to be able to continue to entertain the reader!
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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit - Part 4
Post on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 4:14 am by Lana Coombe
Bad Things Happen When We Separate



He wrapped his fingers around the iron bars and held them tightly. The cool of the metal felt good against his too warm forehead, as it rested against them.



It had taken Jed Curry a good deal of effort to raise himself from the bunk. It had not been the most comfortable of resting places, with its thin, hard mattress, doubled with the constant throbbing ache in his leg. He had taken some measure of tortured pleasure in the pain he felt, as he reckoned it was because of his injury that he and his partner were in their present predicament. He had to confess the doctor had made a pretty good job of removing the bullet and, although he had a fever, as he fought against the infection, it was mild in comparison to some he had experienced in the past.



A soft moan from the adjacent cell had caught his attention. His partner, Hannibal Heyes, had been out cold for the best part of the day - not that he had missed much. Little had happened within the four walls that enclosed them. The only interlude had been a quick visit from the doctor who had given Curry’s leg a cursory glance, deeming it satisfactory. When examining Heyes the doctor had done little more than place his hands on various parts of his body, with the occasional “Hmm” and “Uh huh,” before making to leave. The Kid had tried to elicit some information from him, as to his partner’s condition, as he made his way back towards the sheriff’s office but all he would say was, “Time will tell,” a response that was wholly unsatisfactory to Curry.



So, at the first signs of Heyes waking, the Kid was instantly alert. He gritted his teeth as he manoeuvred his body, on the bunk, so that his legs hung over the side. Next, using his arms as levers, he managed to push himself into a more upright position. By pulling against the bars of the cell, he finally hauled himself to his feet, swaying as he did so, as the blood rushed to his head. Still gripping the bars for support, he half limped and half hopped his way to the other side of the cell, where he could get a better look at Heyes.



In the small amount of daylight that had penetrated the inner realms of the jailhouse, the dark bruising to Heyes’ face was more evident. His left eye was red and swollen and tattered scratches crawled down his arm, from beneath the sleeves of his grubby henley.



The Kid tried calling his name, softly at first and was rewarded with a small movement of the head. He called again a little louder but this time there was no response, so, still clinging to the bars, he watched and waited. As he shifted his weight, to relieve the ache in his injured leg, Curry felt a sharp pain stab in his thigh. He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the bars and drew a breath through clenched teeth.

He stayed in this position for a good while until a familiar, yet rasping voice said, “You able to sleep standing up now?”



Curry’s eyes instantly flew open and met the steady gaze of his partner’s intense brown ones. Giving a soft laugh of relief and a small smile, he retorted, “Well, you can be pretty tiring at times!” His expression became more serious and his brow furrowed. “How you doin’, Heyes?”



“Feel like I’ve been hit by a train!” came the ironic reply. He shifted position, trying to ease the ache that seemed to invade his whole body, only to be pulled up short by his manacled hand. Frowning at the offending restraint, he sighed. “Guess they want me to stick around a little longer!”



Curry smiled weakly at his friend. He had a feeling they were both going to be staying put for a good time yet!



Both men lapsed into thoughtful silence until it was eventually broken by Heyes.

“Why’d you do it, Kid?”



“Huh?” responded a confused Curry.



“Making me leave you like that? You know bad things happen when we separate.”



Curry leaned his weight against the bars and looked down at the floor, not wishing to see any disappointment in his partner’s face.



“Thought it’d be for the best. Give you a chance to get away and come up with one of your plans.” He raised his head now and met Heyes’ gaze but saw no look of disapproval, only one of acceptance.



“Why’d you come back, Heyes?” It was the Kid’s turn to question his partner’s actions now. 



Heyes lifted his free arm and rested it across his forehead. “You know the rule. Never leave a man behind,” he said flatly.



“Seems to me it might have been better if you’d kept going. Bad things might happen when we split up but it seems to me we ain’t doing so good now we’re together!”



Removing his arm, Heyes turned his head to look at his friend. “I’ll think of something,” he assured him.



“Yeah!” the Kid said despondently, shaking his head and turning to limp back to the bunk.



Once again, Heyes tried to shift into a more comfortable position, only to feel a stabbing pain in his chest. “Think I’ve busted a couple of ribs!” he commented, through gritted teeth.



“You’re lucky that’s all you got, the way those fellas laid into you,” Curry replied scornfully. “You hurtin’ anywhere else?”



“Got a thumping headache. Could do with a drink.”



“You want me to call for some water or something?” came the concerned response.



“I was thinking more in the way of whiskey!” Heyes mumbled. “Leave it for a while. I’d like to be feeling a little stronger before I face anyone,” he continued.



Curry nodded in understanding, resting his elbows on his knees and linking his fingers contemplatively.



They stayed in companionable silence for a while, each assured by the other’s presence. No matter how bad things got, they both knew they were better together, working as a team. They’d wait and seize the first opportunity to get themselves out of this mess, whether it be by Heyes’ silver tongue or the Kid’s strength.



The sound of heavy footsteps interrupted their thoughts, as the sheriff entered the jail, gun drawn.

“On your feet, Curry,” he commanded.



The Kid exchanged a look with Heyes before complying, awkwardly standing up.



“Move to the back of the cell, face the wall and put your hands on your head,” he was instructed.



“Hey, what’s going on?” asked Heyes, unable to hold his tongue any longer.



“Nice of you to join us, Heyes,” quipped the sheriff, placing a key in the lock of the Kid’s cell, gun levelled at his back. “I was a little worried you weren’t never going to wake up, not that’d make much difference!” he added callously.



Moving into the cell, he produced a pair of handcuffs. “Alright, Curry, put your hands behind your back now, nice and easy.”



The Kid risked a sideways glance at Heyes who raised an eyebrow, questioningly in response, but saw no alternative than for the Kid to obey.



While the sheriff placed the metal bands about his partner’s wrists, Heyes probed again.

“I think we’re entitled to know what’s happening, don’t you sheriff? I mean, it isn’t as if we’re in any position to do anything about it but a person likes to know ….”



“You ain’t in a position to do nothing’ but shut your mouth, Heyes,” was the gruff reply, as the cuffs snapped shut with a resolute click, making the Kid wince at the implication rather than the physical hurt.



The sheriff took his arm and swung him round, unbalancing him, causing him to stumble as his injured leg refused to support him. Tightening his grip, the sheriff manoeuvred the Kid towards the cell door.



Heyes managed to raise himself onto his arm and called out, “Hey, what’s going on? Where you taking him?”



“I’ll tell you what’s going on,” the sheriff replied, a look of self-satisfaction on his face. “The Doc considers Mr. Curry here, fit for extradition to a more secure prison, pending trial. You, however are to stay here until he gives the okay for you to be moved, owing to your extensive internal injuries!” he said mockingly, a derisive grin on his face.

 “Now, move it!” he growled, urging the Kid forward with a prod of his gun barrel in the small of his back.



With one last look over his shoulder, his lips thin and hard in contempt, the Kid staggered through the door, while Heyes could only lie and watch him go.

 Bad things seemed to happen to them whether they were together or separate these days, Heyes surmised.
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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit - Part 5
Post on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 4:28 am by Lana Coombe

Fool Me Once ...

A sharp tug on his wrist and the scrape of metal against his skin, wrenched Heyes back to his senses, from a restless sleep. Clenching his teeth, glaring resentfully at the metal band, which secured him to the bars of the cell, he gave a deep sigh at the harsh reality of his present situation. Allowing his gaze to drift towards the now empty adjacent cell, he closed his eyes and drew a long breath through his nose. The stale air of the jail clawed at the back of his throat and he screwed up his face in sheer frustration. He yanked his bound hand angrily, making his sore ribs jar with the motion, causing him to gasp with the pain.



Steadying his breathing, he stared vacantly ahead, hoping some flash of inspiration would come to him. Life had never felt so hopeless. He was in a jail cell, handcuffed to the bars, with a couple of broken ribs and some further possible internal injury. This was bad enough but what galled him most of all was he was alone. The Kid didn’t say much but he listened and having no one to talk to bothered Heyes. He concentrated on the silence, straining to hear the slightest sound - a heavy wagon rumbling passed in the street, the scuff of a chair, the low murmur of voices.



“Hey!” he called out, unable to bear the hush any longer, tiring of the solitude. There was no answer, so he called again and waited. After a few moments one of the deputies appeared in the doorway, wiping his mouth with a chequered napkin.



“Quit your hollering’! What d’ya want?” he asked. Heyes looked at the man with disdain - or rather, he looked at the half-chewed food in his mouth.



“Any chance of removing the fancy wrist attire?” Heyes asked pleasantly, with only a hint of the sarcasm he wanted to hurl at the man.



“Huh?” his gaoler replied, emitting a spray of bread from his mouth.



“The handcuffs - can they be taken off? I don’t think they’re really necessary,” he stated, flatly.



“Sheriff said you weren’t to be trusted and that I weren’t to get too close to you so them cuffs will just have to stay on until the sheriff gets back,” the deputy replied earnestly.



“I need to go,” Heyes told him dispassionately.



“You ain’t leaving here for quite some time, mister!” the young deputy replied, astounded at Heyes’ assuredness.



“I need to go p***,” came the more blatant response.



“Oh!” The young, fair-haired deputy looked perplexed for a moment as he considered which course of action to take. He disappeared to the back of the jail room, reappearing a minute later with a tin washbowl. Placing it on the floor, before the door of the cell, he unceremoniously slipped it into the cell with the toe of his boot.



Heyes peered at it sceptically.

“I know I’ve impressed a few ladies in my time but I reckon I’m going to have some trouble reaching that!” he commented.



The deputy flushed at the remark and pondered the situation once more. 



“If you don’t mind, I’m in a bit of a hurry here,” Heyes goaded him. 



After a few more moments, the deputy went back to the main office, returning with a large bunch of keys. He fumbled with them before producing a single key. He advanced around the cell and neared Heyes’ cuffed hand.



“Don’t you make a move now, mister,” Heyes was told. With arms outstretched, the deputy cautiously placed the small key into the lock of the cuff.



“What’s your name?” Heyes asked, making the deputy jump with a start and almost drop the key. A plan, of sorts, was beginning to form in Heyes’ mind and, if this deputy was the fool he thought he was, the first part should be fairly easy. As the key turned in the lock and the cuff fell from his wrist, Heyes felt a gratifying sense of accomplishment. Releasing him had been his first mistake - more fool him!



“Name’s Tatler, Ned Tatler, not that it’s any of your business!” the deputy told him as he took a step back, away from the cell, concern and doubt at his own action written all over his face.



Heyes smiled at the young man pleasantly. “Much obliged,” he commented.



Ned Tatler sniffed, nervously, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. “I’ll leave you to your business then,” he said, shuffling towards the office door. Heyes nodded his head in response and waited until he’d left before attempting to rise from the bunk.



He knew moving was going to hurt but he hadn’t anticipated how much. As he manoeuvred his body onto his side, in preparation of swinging his legs to the floor, a searing pain shot into his chest, like a red-hot poker. He let out an involuntary cry, which he managed to stifle by biting his lip. For a few moments he held his breath, mouth gaping, willing the pain to relent and for his body to relax. Slowly he released his breath and in measured, deliberate breaths took in air once again. The grip about his ribs gradually yielded and he began to breathe more easily.



Swallowing hard, Heyes prepared himself for the pain that he knew was to come as he attempted to get to his feet once more. He decided to get it over with as quickly as possible, so, wrapping his left arm protectively about his stomach, with one swift movement, he swung his legs to the floor. Taking a sharp intake of air, through gritted teeth, he pushed himself with his right arm, into a sitting position. For a few moments, he stood rigidly, waiting for the pain to subside. Slowly it eased - just a little, enough so he felt he could take a breath again. With his arm still clasped about his belly, he took hold of the bars of the cell with his free hand, holding on so tightly, his knuckles turned white. He stared towards the floor, concentrating on a deep scratch in the stone, anything to distract him from the pain he was enduring.



He knew it was imperative to appear fit and well if he was to have any chance of getting out of this place and getting to wherever they had sent the Kid. Heyes felt that they would have a better chance of escape once back together again and in his present state of health, it was more crucial than ever, to have his partner by his side.




Calling for the pot had been a rouse to get the cuff removed, but to allay any suspicions he knew he’d have to use it, something he wasn’t keen to do. Carefully he took his arm from about his stomach, whilst still gripping the bars for support, and tentatively tried to release the button on his pants. His fingers fumbled uselessly, slipping over the metal of the fastening until his thumb finally got a purchase. Even that small movement caused him to wince. Heyes had never felt so inept, his usually dextrous fingers functioning so ineffectively, but eventually the button slipped through the hole. Having completed the ordinarily mundane task, Heyes peered discontentedly into the pot. The bright red streaks were not a good sign. With a regretful sigh, he slumped against the bars, rescuing the buttons of his pants with a now trembling hand.



He knew, in his present condition, there was little chance of his being moved to wherever the Kid was, but that was where he needed to be. It would take all his powers of deception to persuade them he was fit to travel. Just as Heyes was considering this quandary, he heard the door to the Sheriff’s office being opened and a voice announcing he was here to see the patient. The Doc! Heyes immediately roused himself, running his hand through his hair and planting a convivial smile on his face, suitably masking how he was truly feeling.



This was the image which greeted Doctor Crawley as he walked through the door to the cells. A brief look of incredulity crossed the medic’s face as he took in the appearance of the man he had come to visit.



“Well Mr. Heyes, I have to say I’m happily surprised to see you on your feet! I had you down as possible coffin fodder there for a while!” The doctor’s disposition was upbeat and Heyes fed off it.



“Take more than a few over enthusiastic lawmen to lay me in the ground, Doc!” he replied genially, giving the man the benefit of one of his best dimpled grins. As he did so, the deputy shuffled in, searching through the keys in his hand, looking for the key to Heyes’ cell. He too looked suitably stunned at seeing the prisoner on his feet and faltered in finding the key.



“You sure you want to go in there, Doc?” he asked. 



Frowning in response, the small, grey haired man merely said, “Just open the door, Ned!” 



Ned scuttled forward and placed the key in the lock and turned it. Nothing happened. Crawley gave a sigh of exasperation but said nothing, while Ned fumbled with the keys once more. Sheer determination was all that was keeping Heyes on his feet, as he stood waiting patiently, an impassive expression on his face. All he wanted to do was lie down again but the need to get out of this place strengthened his resolve to maintain his composure.



Finally, the lock clicked and the doctor was able to enter the cell. Ned stood warily in the doorway, his hand wrapped nervously about the handle of his holstered gun. Crawley glanced over his shoulder impatiently. “I think we’ll be fine, Ned,” he told the younger man.



“Think I’d better stay, if it’s all the same to you, Doc,” Ned replied, with more assertion than he was really feeling.



The doctor shrugged and turned back to Heyes to start his examination. “You want to sit down, son?” he asked.



“Just fine standing, thanks Doc!”



“Uh huh,” came the unconvinced response. “It’s just that you look a little peaky!”



With a dimpled smile, Heyes retorted, “So would you, iffen you’d been treated as I have and kept locked up in here!” A more serious expression came over his face as he continued, “What I need is to be allowed to join up with my partner.” The doctor was a little surprised by the sincerity of the outlaw’s request and the look of determination in his dark eyes.



“I see. Well, let’s take a look at you and see if that’s going to be at all possible,” he answered mildly. He indicated that he needed Heyes to sit on the bunk and was obliged by the younger man.



After he had completed his examination, the doctor looked Heyes straight in the eye, with concern. “How bad you want to get out of here, son?”



“Pretty bad.”



“Badly enough that it may kill you?”



Taken aback by the directness of the question, Heyes hesitated before replying “We’ve all gotta die sometime, Doc!”



Pressing his lips together in contemplation, the doctor pondered the situation. There were no guarantees that even if he kept the man here, that he’d be able to do much for him and as he wanted to be back with his partner so badly, it almost seemed the kinder thing to do, to let him go.



“Well, I guess sitting in a different cell isn’t going to make to much difference if you’re that keen to meet up with your partner. I guess I can pass you as fit to travel.” He gave a small smile to the dark haired man whose eyes sparkled with satisfaction. “Can you get me a pen, Ned, so as I can sign the release papers?” Crawley asked.



“Sure thing, Doc,” said the deputy as he went to fetch one from the office.



“Thanks, Doc! Means a lot to me to be able to see my partner again. Appreciate you signing those papers,” responded Heyes, as he buttoned his shirt with difficulty.



The doctor frowned at the man before him, still debating his decision. He felt it was his duty to do the best by the man, outlaw or not but there appeared no benefit to keeping here either.



Ned returned with the pen and the doctor pulled some papers from his bag. Pausing, with the nib just above the paper, he took another look at his patient before resignedly signing his name and saying, 

“Although I must warn you it’s not going to be an easy journey. You still have some internal injuries, which I cannot be sure of without a more comprehensive examination. I’ll wire ahead to the prison requesting another doctor sees you there,” he told Heyes, as he placed a firm dot after his name and handed the pen back to Ned.
 “Just take it easy for a while.”



Heyes was nodding his compliance with the Doc’s request when the deputy interjected, “There won’t be much chance of that where he’s going! Didn’t they tell ya? Curry got sent to Aurora!”



The doctor’s face paled visibly and became etched with concern. Heyes frowned, not understanding the significance of the statement.



“Doc?” he queried.



Ned laughed at the look of consternation on both men’s faces. “You not heard of it? Considering the hole in his leg your partner had when he left here, I’d be surprised iffen he’s still alive any ways! Aurora’s a hard labour camp with a reputation for low tolerance of any sort of slacking! Think you’ve just got the Doc here to sign your own death warrant too!” 



Ned might be a bit of a jerk but it was Heyes who was feeling mighty foolish now.
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The Outlaws that Wouldn't Quit - Part 6
Post on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 4:33 am by Lana Coombe
Another Hard Lesson

Crack! The hammer met the stone with a resounding smack, which sent reverberations up the arms and through the whole of his body. He lifted the hammer once again, letting its weight bring it down to meet the hard surface with another blow. He gritted his teeth as he imagined the heads he was striking - the sheriff and his deputies, the governor, Lom and…. Pausing for a moment, his thoughts turned to his partner.

Although he knew he was not to blame for the circumstances in which he found himself, Kid’s anger was so overwhelming that he couldn’t help feeling some irritation towards Heyes. It was irrational but then, things weren’t very coherent for him at the moment.

More than once, this grim day, he had thought ‘if only…’ If only he hadn’t got shot in the leg, if only Heyes hadn’t come back for him, if only he and Heyes hadn’t robbed all those banks and trains, if only he hadn’t allowed Heyes to persuade him to do those things, if only their parents hadn’t been killed in the raids. It was one helluva lot of if onlys to take in and it had only proved to provoke the Kid’s frustration, and ultimately his resentment, at his present situation. As the one constant factor in all of these situations was Heyes, it was logical that the Kid’s antipathy should be directed at him.

As he swung the heavy apparatus, yet again, a sharp stab in his thigh drew his breath and he let the hammer fall to the ground. Grasping its handle tightly, he bent over, trying to ease the pain. His red, sweat soaked henley clung to his body, dark damp patches spreading from beneath his arms and across his back and chest. The grit trapped between the fabric and his skin scratched irritably, causing him considerable discomfort. Now he had stopped working he realised how parched his throat was and swallowed, trying to create some modicum of moisture in his mouth. Just as he was drawing his forearm across his brow, to prevent the salty perspiration trickling down and stinging his eyes, the wind was knocked from his body, by a blow to the small of his back. Staggering forward a few steps, he nearly fell but managed to regain his balance just in time.

“No slacking, Curry! You got a whole lot more rocks to bust before you’ve earned yourself a break!”

Glancing over his shoulder, the Kid eyed Hacker dispassionately, who stood gripping a rifle provocatively behind him, a malicious grin on his face. It wasn’t often that a criminal of Curry’s caliber came his way and he intended to take full advantage of his position as line guard. With one last defiant look, the Kid turned back to the large lump of rock before him and sized it up as he would an opponent in a gunfight.

Curling his fingers firmly around the handle of the lump hammer, he drew a resentful breath and gritted his teeth, before swinging the tool. If there was one thing Heyes had taught him over the years it was to wait and watch for the right moment to act. Take your opportunities where you could and use them to full advantage. Now was not the right time.

“Iffen your gonna survive in this place Curry, you’ve got a lot to learn!” Hacker taunted.

Kid tried to block the sound of the man’s voice from his head. He wondered how much longer he had to endure Hacker and his jibes. It must only be a couple of hours until he could finish, although all he had to look forward to at the end of the day was a plate of some indescribable slop to eat and a hard, cold bunk. This was possibly one of life’s hardest lessons he’d had, apart from when his folks had died. That had been the hardest, closely followed by the time he’d been in Valparaiso. But on each of those occasions Heyes had been with him. Now he was alone. Perhaps it was better that way.


***************

The Kid had only been in Aurora for a couple of days but guards and fellow prisoners alike had certainly noted his presence. He had been treated both with disdain and animosity, as well as with awe and respect. Due to his notoriety and reputation, he had been given a cell to himself. Without his partner by his side, it was thought he would be more easily broken, once confined to solitary. Even when on the chain gang, he had been kept separate from the other prisoners, with only the constant guards for company. The solitude suited him just fine. He needed the time alone to gather his thoughts and contemplate his situation.

Later, as he sat in isolation, in the dark, dank cell, his thoughts once again turned to his partner. Now, there was a word! One simple word that meant so much. Within it was a lifetime of shared experiences, both good and bad. His and Heyes’ lives were so inextricably linked it was almost impossible to imagine a life without him. But it was looking mighty possible that might be the case now. Kid was only too aware of the state his partner was in when he had last seen him and the deputy, who had escorted him from the jail, had taken a great deal of pleasure reporting what he had heard the doctor say about Heyes’ condition. Although the details were sketchy, the one phrase which stuck in Kid’s head was ‘possibility that his injuries are life threatening.’

Throughout the years their lives had been threatened more times than Kid was willing to admit but they had been together. It was always Hannibal Heyes AND Kid Curry. From the moment he had arrived in this godforsaken place, almost everyone had asked ‘where was the great Hannibal Heyes?’ The man had a legendary standing amongst the outlaw community, as one of the most successful ever to have committed crime. The Kid had his own reputation, as notorious gunman, but where as his partner inspired admiration of his intelligent mind and quick tongue, he was acknowledged for his fast draw and marksmanship. The difference was Heyes was regarded with deference, while the Kid was treated as a challenge or with fear.

Kid stretched out his injured leg, carefully placing his hand on the grubby and tattered bandage, which the doctor had applied. He couldn’t see that it was doing much good now so started to remove it. As he slowly unwound the fabric, he winced as it stuck to the dried blood from his wound. With one assured movement, he ripped it away, letting out a small gasp as he did so. It was a mess but the Doc had done a good job and there was no sign of infection.

Consideration of his own ailments brought his thoughts back to Heyes. He’d tried to find a way to find out what had happened to his partner, by questioning the guards but none of them would give him the time of day, with the exception of Hacker, who seemed to think it his duty to try to antagonize him at every given opportunity. Kid thought maybe he could use this to his advantage. He couldn’t lose control now; he had to keep his temper in check. He had to think smart – like Heyes. Knowing he had few options, he goaded the man, in the hope he would let slip and tell him something. All he got in return were more cuts and bruises, from the jabs and blows from the guard, whose sole mission seemed to be to make his life more miserable.



The Kid was coming to the conclusion that perhaps the time had come to start planning his future without his partner, not by choice but necessity. It would be the hardest lesson in life he’d have to face but there was one thing he had learned from being with Heyes - nothing in this life ever comes easy.
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