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 What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw

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royannahuggins
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Join date : 2013-10-13

20140503
PostWhat Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw




The polar vortex of 2014 had nothing on this winter of Heyes' and Curry's discontent.


Starring

Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry



Co-Starring

Claude Akins as the railroad bull


Rory Calhoun as Micah Roberts


Clu Gulager as Bart Wisehoff


Jean Parker as Violet Roberts


Charles Durning as Hiram J. Winston



What Goes Around Comes Around
by Inside Outlaw


The cattle car swayed and clattered with the pull of the train as it began to climb an uphill grade.  Its bovine occupants, legs splayed, steadied themselves to the motion of the car.  Occasionally, a large head would stretch down to the straw thickly strewn upon the wooden floor and gather up a small snack, munching determinedly.

The two human occupants were still settling in.  Hannibal Heyes broke open one of the bales of straw stacked alongside the far end of the car and scattered the clean bedding into a deep pile in the corner farthest from the animals.  

“There,” he said, “At least we’ve got a place to lie down and sleep.”  He dropped into the nest and rolled onto his back shoving his hands behind his head and looking up at his partner, Kid Curry, with a broad, satisfied smile.

His partner scowled back at him.  “That’s all we’ve got.  We’ve got no money, no gear, no horses, and no idea where this train is headed,” griped the Kid.  He fell into the straw next to his partner.

“Hey, we got away, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, and it took all day and a night to do it,” pointed out Curry.  

“Can you believe it?  The governor’s ‘good friend’, Mr. Winston, turns out to be a low-down, chiseling crook?  I never would’ve taken that job if I’d known he was planning to stiff us.”

“Yeah, not to mention claimin’ we tried to rob him and havin’ the sheriff chase us outta Fort Collins,” the Kid sighed.  “You know, we should’ve known better than to trust a banker.  What are we gonna do now?”

“I can tell you what I’m not gonna do; I’m not doing anymore thinking until I get some sleep.”  Heyes pulled his hat down over his eyes.  It took only a few minutes for his breathing to slow, and he began to lightly snore.

Curry rolled over onto his side, stared through the gloomy light filtering through the wooden slats of the boxcar, and watched their four-legged companions until he drifted off to sleep.


OOOOOOOOOO

The cold barrel of a sawed-off shotgun pressed against his cheek woke Curry in an instant.  His eyes flew open and he groaned.  He rolled over onto his back as Heyes stirred next to him.  Reaching over to shake his partner, he kept his attention on the pair of murky gray eyes staring down at him from above the intrusive weapon.  “Joshua, wake up!  We’ve got company,” hissed Kid Curry to his partner.  

“Shoo ‘em away, I’m trying to sleep,” said Heyes.

“You’re all done sleepin’ on my train, mister,” said the railroad bull.  Heyes opened his eyes and the shotgun swung to the center of his forehead.  “I wouldn’t move too fast if’n I was you.”

A throaty growl caught the attention of all three men.  Heyes and the Kid were horrified to see a huge mastiff glowering at them from behind his master.  The guard snapped, “Olly, stay!”  and the dog froze, but his hackles were up and his muzzle was disfigured by a threatening snarl.  “You two, get up nice and easy-like.  Keep your hands up and away from your guns.”

The partners got to their feet slowly and the man reached out and neatly confiscated their side-arms, tucking them into his own gun belt.  “That’s better; now get over by that door.”  He gestured with his shotgun.  Heyes and the Kid sidled over to the door, keeping their hands up and their eyes divided evenly between the man and his large, slavering dog.

“Mister, we didn’t mean any harm.  We don’t have any money and…” began Heyes.

“That ain’t my problem.  My problem is lousy freight-hoppers who try to bum rides on this here train and I know just how to take care of them.  Olly, hold ‘em!”  The dog made a lunge at the two prisoners and snapped at the air several times, warning Heyes and the Kid to keep still as the man slid the door open and a blast of arctic air blew into the car.  “Now, jump!”

“You want us to jump while the train’s goin’ this fast?!”  Curry glared at his captor.

“You’re a real quick learner, boy,” the man chuckled evilly.  “Don’t look so worried.  The fall ain’t gonna kill you.”

Heyes and the Kid both sidestepped to the open door and looked out.  “The man’s right,” said Heyes.  The snow was deep and the hillside sloped away sharply.  The train was already above the tree line and nearly to the summit of the mountain.  “We won’t be killed by the fall.  We’re gonna freeze to death.”

“Now go!  Olly, sic ‘em.”  The dog rushed forward ferociously snapping and snarling and the two partners half-jumped and half-fell through the doorway.  The cold air struck them as they flew through the air only to sink into a cloud of soft snow.  Their heavy landing precipitated a small avalanche and they rolled head over heels down the steep hillside until they slid to a snow-covered stop.

Heyes poked his head up out of the snow and gasped for air.  He looked around frantically until he spotted a hand floating on top of the white expanse that spread out before him.  Wriggling quickly out of the clutches of the settling snow, he crawled across to where his partner lay buried, and dug down along the length of the exposed arm until he reached the Kid’s face.  Gently clearing the snow, he patted Curry until his eyes opened and he stared wildly up at Heyes.  “Get me outta here!”

“Hold on, Kid, you’re in pretty deep.  Can you breathe all right?”

“Yeah, but hurry up, it’s gettin’ heavier.”

Heyes dug with his bare hands until he’d uncovered enough of the Kid’s chest to wrap his arms around him.  Leaning back, and throwing his own weight and all his strength into it, he slowly pried Curry from the hardening snow.  Helping the Kid to his feet, Heyes brushed the snow off his partner’s sheepskin coat and scooped more of it out from inside the woolly collar.

“Thanks,” said the Kid.  He pulled off his coat and shook as much snow off as he could before putting the heavy fabric back on and buttoning it tightly.  The suede exterior repelled the snow nicely, but he shivered.  “Dang it, the fleece is damp.  You’d better shake off, too, Heyes, before you start to cool off.”

Heyes took off his gray wool jacket and let the Kid brush the snow from the back of his shirt.  He, too, shivered as he put the coat on over his moisture-stained clothing.  The train had disappeared over the summit and all that remained of it was a dissipating wisp of sooty smoke.  “We better get off this hillside.  It’s too exposed, and the wind’s starting to pick up.  We’ll freeze if we don’t get moving,” said Heyes.  

The sun was shining brightly but scattered clouds were beginning to scuttle across the sky.  They became darker and more swollen with moisture as they passed over the ragged, snow-covered peaks.

“Looks like there could be some weather comin’, let’s get outta here,” agreed Curry.  He pulled his hat down low on his head and pulled his lightweight leather roping gloves on.  “Wish I had some better gloves.”  He watched Heyes put on his own gloves and then pull up his bandana, tying it snugly over his nose.  “You gonna be all right, Heyes?  That coat of yours ain’t gonna keep you warm if it gets much colder.”  

“I’ll be fine.  I pulled my bandana up; it’ll keep my lungs warm so that’ll help,” said Heyes, pulling his hat down low so that only a narrow slit between brim and bandana remained exposed to see through.  

“It’ll keep the glare down, too.  No sense in goin’ snow-blind if we can help it,” observed Curry.

Together, the two men began a direct descent toward the tree line far below.  They skirted the edges of the small slide and tried to avoid the drifts of deeper snow when they could, but it didn’t take long for their feet and legs to become numb from the coldness.

“Geez, you’d think he could’ve waited to dump us off at the next stop,” complained the Kid.

Heyes snorted.  “You’d rather be turned over to a sheriff and risk getting sent up?”

Curry stopped, put his hands on his hips, and glared at his friend.  “No, Heyes.  I’d rather be in a warm hotel room countin’ the money I didn’t get paid for the job we just spent two weeks doin’.”

“Me, too, Kid, but right now I’ll settle for some dry ground under a thick spruce,” said Heyes.  He began cutting over to the right.  A scraggly conifer stood nearby, bowed by the constant wind that blew at this altitude.  The mountainside below was dotted with twisted, dwarfed trees but the forest was still a considerable distance away.

“Where do you think we are?” asked Curry.

“Don’t rightly know for sure.  We hopped on just outside of Boulder and it seems like we only slept a few hours judging from the daylight.  Wherever we are, we’re about eleven thousand feet up.”

“Let me ask that question a different way,” said the Kid.  “How far are we from that warm hotel room I was talkin’ about?”

“Too far for you to be thinking about it.”

The Kid groaned.  “I hate the cold and it’s gettin’ colder by the minute.”

“We’ll be all right.  Remember that time we quit each other?  You went south to Texas, and that’s when I fell in with Plummer up in Montana.  Thanks to his poor planning, we were caught out in the cold more than once.  Lucky for us, we had an old mountain man riding with us.  He showed us all a thing or two about living rough in the winter.”

“How come you never told me that before?”

“I don’t know; guess we never had need of it before now.  I paid attention to the weather when I planned a job,” Heyes said smugly.  “See that stand of spruce down there?  We’ll shelter there for the night.”

“Why don’t we go a little further?  Seems to me like we’ve got plenty of daylight left.”

“We do, but we’re also cold and wet already.  We need to get outta these clothes and dry up.”

“I ain’t takin’ off my clothes.  It can’t be more than ten degrees out!” snapped Curry.

“You can and you will or you’re gonna freeze to death right off and I ain’t hauling your frozen carcass down this hill,” growled Heyes.  “I’ll leave you here for the bears and the coyotes come spring.”

“Some partner you are,” grumbled Curry, following along behind his friend.

The snow under their feet began to deepen as they neared the tree line.  The wind was scouring the snow from the open face of the mountain above them and sending it into the air in great puffs of ice crystals.  As they walked, the frozen moisture clung to the outside of their bandanas becoming thick ice crystals.  Their eyelashes and brows were soon encrusted with snow, too, and the small amount of skin still exposed had turned white with the cold.

The thick-branched spruce trees provided significant shelter from the wind and the two men trudged deeper and deeper into the forest.  Their clothes were frosted white with ice and snow and the crowns of their hats had grown significantly taller as the fluffy, white powder piled up.  As they moved, small drifts of snow fell off the brims and crept down their necks despite their bandanas’ meager protection.

Heyes stumbled and went down to his knees, his lightly-gloved hands thrust into the snow.  “I can’t feel my toes anymore.”

The Kid reached down and grabbed his partner’s arm, helping him to his feet.  “Me neither.  Hands are numb, too.  Heyes, this ain’t lookin’ good.”

“No, it’s fine.  We’re fine,” gasped Heyes.  “See that big spruce over there?  We’ll stop there.”

“Don’t much matter where we stop, we’re gonna freeze anyway.”

“Will you shut up?  I ain’t freezing and neither are you.  Help me over there,” commanded Heyes.

Curry put an arm around his partner’s waist and held onto him while leading him to the tree.  Heyes was stumbling badly and shivering hard.  “We gotta get you out of this wet jacket, partner.”

Heyes didn’t say much; he just continued pushing forward until they reached the full-branched tree.  He looked it up and down.  The branches were laden heavily with snow and the lowest ones were buried in the ground cover.  “This is perfect,” he said, letting go of the Kid and dropping to his knees.  “Start digging.”

Curry dropped down next to Heyes and helped him dig.  They quickly made a small opening through the snow under the lowest branches of the tree.  Heyes flopped face first into the hole and wriggled his way forward until his feet disappeared.  “Kid, come on in.”

When the Kid crawled in, he found that the short tunnel led to a fairly roomy open space under the canopy of the tree.  There was a ring of bare ground all the way around the trunk and he saw Heyes scraping the snow further away from the trunk and piling it up around the outside edge of the space.  

“Kid, keep clearing out as much snow as you can.  Pack it up good and hard.  I’m going back out to pack more snow up on the outside.  We’ll use the branches to build a wall.”

“You’re too cold, Heyes.  Stay here, I’ll do the outside, too.”

“No.  I’ve gotta keep moving.  The work’ll warm me up.”

With that, Heyes wriggled back out of the hole.  The two partners quickly built up snow walls that were solid enough to shelter them from the worst of the wind.  

“Heyes, looks good in here.  You better get outta the cold,” shouted the Kid.  There was no answer.  “Heyes?”  He crawled part way out of the tunnel and saw his partner walking towards him.  Heyes had a huge bundle of broken branches and twigs in one arm and was towing a couple of larger, needled branches in the other.  He plodded carefully to the tree and passed the kindling to his partner, who pulled it inside the shelter.  Heyes crawled in after the Kid and pulled the bigger branches in after him.  

Curry had scraped the entire shelter clear of snow and piled the spruce needles and powdery, decayed duff to one side.  “Do you want me to build a fire?”

“Not yet.  You still got your knife?”

“Yeah,” said the Kid, pulling a large hunting knife from the shaft of his boot.  “You need it?”

“No, you do,” said Heyes, pulling out his own knife.  “We’re going to dig down in the dirt about six inches.  Make the hole about six feet long and four feet wide.”

“What for?”

“You’ll see.  Just do it.”  Heyes began attacking the soil, driving his blade in and out in a stabbing motion and wiggling the hilt to loosen the dirt.  He used his left hand to pull away the loose soil and pile it up, and continued to chip away at the sides of his small hole, widening it.  Seeing that the Kid was watching him, he gestured for him to dig.  Curry did.  

When they finished the shallow pit, Heyes sat back.  “All right, now you build the fires.”

“Fires?” said the Kid.  “You aren’t plannin’ on burnin’ this tree down, are you?”

“No, make them real small.  Put one there and build another one right there; two more over there,” said Heyes, pointing to where he wanted them.

“Why do you want four fires?  I’ll just make this one bigger,” said Curry.

“We don’t want it bigger.  If it’s too big, it’ll melt the snow on the branches or catch them on fire.  Keep them all small.”  Heyes smiled at his partner.  Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a folded sheet of paper and handed to Curry.  “Here, burn this.  It’s the telegram from Lom about that job we didn’t get paid for.  At least we’ll get something out of it.”

The Kid tore it into several pieces.  He began constructing a small fire using some of the dried spruce needles, half the crumpled paper, and duff as his tinder and piling tiny twigs over it in a tepee shape. Picking up the larger twigs, he added to his stack then sat back on his heels and looked up at Heyes.

His partner was weaving the needled branches into the boughs above them, adding another layer of insulation over their heads.  Turning his attention back to the fire, the Kid pulled out his flint and, using the back edge of the hunting knife he’d tucked back into his boot after digging, he began scraping bright sparks into the tinder and blowing gently.  The tinder caught fire and a small tendril of smoke rose from it.  Curry laughed happily.  He waited until the flame was truly established and then added some heavier twigs to feed the small fire and began building the next one.  

Heyes finished with the roof and began to break the rest of the broken branches and twigs up into smaller pieces to feed the fires.  He then plugged up the exit with snow he pulled in from the outside.  The spacing in the branches would provide enough fresh air.  The temperature inside their shelter was starting to climb and he took off his jacket and tucked it, opened, into the branches above them.  “Kid, give me your coat so I can tuck it up next to mine.” he said.

The Kid looked up from his project and saw what Heyes had done.  Shrugging off his coat, he handed it to his partner and it, too, was tucked into the branches.  “Good idea, Heyes.  It’ll dry fast up there and give us more insulation.”  

It wasn’t long before the two men were warming up nicely.  Heyes stood up as best he could and pulled off his sodden pants and boots.  Unbuttoning his shirt, he tugged that off as well.

“Uh, should I be worried you’re strippin’ nekkid?” asked Kid with a lopsided grin.

“Take off your clothes, too, Kid.  They’re still wet and they’ll keep you from warming up.”  At the skeptical look on his partner’s face, Heyes clarified, “You can leave your long johns on, for heaven’s sake; just hang the rest of them up so they’ll dry.”  

Soon clothes were scattered around the shelter, steaming as they dried.  Heyes and the Kid sat in the center of the four small, hot fires in the depression they’d made.  

“You learn all this from that mountain man?” asked the Kid, holding his hands to the glowing coals.  His socked feet were nestled at the very edge of the heat.  

Heyes tossed a few more twigs onto each fire.  “Naw, my pa taught me some of it.  He taught you, too, but I guess you’ve forgotten it.”

Curry stared into the flames.  “No. I remember some of it.  I mean I remember him telling us about snow caves and not laying on the bare ground.   How come you didn’t put branches on the ground to lie on?”

“Because Old Zeke taught me something better.”

“Zeke?”

“Plummer’s mountain man.  He used to spend the winter up in the Tetons at the Hole there.  That’s when the trapping is the best.  He knew all sorts of things about keeping alive.”

“Like what?”

“Well, like what we’re doing here.  Using a tree well to build a quick cave, making a warm bed,” said Heyes.

“A warm bed?  I like the sound of that.”

“When we’re ready for bed, we’ll use the coals from the fire,” Heyes said.  “We’re gonna spread out them out in this hole and cover them with the dirt we pulled out.  We wait thirty minutes for the ground to heat up and we lie down.  Our coats and clothing will be dry by then and we’ll use them for blankets.  We’ll have to sleep close together, but we’ll be warm enough for the night.”

“What about water?  We ain’t gonna make it very far without water,” said the Kid.  

“I know, but I can’t figure out how to melt the snow without a mug or a pot.  Maybe we can find a flat rock or something tomorrow.”

“What about using our hats?”

“I thought about that.  They work well enough to scoop up water, but we need something we can melt the snow in.  It’s gonna melt slowly so the hat’s no good.  It’d just soak into it,” said Heyes.

The Kid stared at the fire and then looked up with a smile.  “Your oil can.  That could work.”

Heyes laughed and slapped his partner on the back.  “Good thinking, Kid.”  He reached up to his jacket.  From an inside pocket, he pulled out a small, copper oil can.  “I don’t know why I keep carrying this thing around.  Habit, I guess.  It’s not like we have to grease squeaky hinges anymore.”

“I don’t know; it came in kind of handy in Red Gap, Heyes.”

Opening the spouted cap, Heyes poured out the oil.  He scooped up some of the dirt and duff and pushed it inside the can, using a finger to swirl it around to absorb any remaining lubricant.  He shook out the debris, and using the corner of the Kid’s shirt, he wiped it out carefully.  It was small, but they had all night to melt snow into water.

“Hey, why’d you use my shirt?”

“It was your idea, Kid,” said Heyes, slyly.  He grabbed a small fistful of snow and packed it inside the can.  Sitting down again, he put the small can on top of several glowing coals and sat back.

“You know, Heyes, this ain’t half-bad,” grinned the Kid.  “I didn’t plan on being warm or dry tonight, but we are and I don’t think anyone’s gonna be shovin’ a shotgun in our faces while we’re sleepin’.”

“Yeah, we’ve been worse off, haven’t we?”

“Sure have.”  The Kid reached up and pulled some spruce needles off one of the branches, popping them into his mouth and chewing them contentedly.

“You look sorta like our friends on the train,” Heyes quipped.

“Hey, I’m hungry.  I reckon that pot’s too small to make spruce tea in, so I’ll chew some needles instead.”

“You know, old Zeke told me the early Pilgrims used to make spruce beer.  Don’t reckon we’ll be here long enough to try,” Heyes mused.

They’d had to throw away the first couple of pots of oily liquid, but soon the water was clean enough to drink and they took turns sipping from the tiny vessel.  After consuming several cans of water, and chatting idly for a while, the two partners sat in silent companionship until the Kid yawned and looked around the cozy niche before saying, “Guess we ought to get ready to turn in.”  He scooped the coals out of one of the fires with the end of a branch and rolled them a few feet away to where Heyes was spreading them out over the shallow depression they had dug and then covering them with the dirt they had removed.

“Should I add more kindling to the fires?” asked the Kid.

“No, we’ll let ‘em go out.  Can’t risk starting a fire while we’re sleeping.”

“Ain’t we gonna get cold when the temperature starts droppin’?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be warm enough.”  Heyes pulled down the coats and pants from the ceiling and handed the Kid’s clothes to him.  “Here, these are pretty warm now.  They’ll keep us comfortable until the coals warm up the dirt we put on top of them.”

The wind outside was starting to pick up and the upper limbs of the tree shook with the force of it, but the additional branches prevented any of the snow from filtering through the roof.  

“Well, I’m ready to call it a night,” said Heyes, rolling his neck and shoulders to loosen them.  He crawled over to the warmed ground and pulled off his jacket.  Lying down, he spread it over his legs.

The Kid removed his sheepskin coat and stretched out on the ground next to his partner, putting the heavy material over both of their shoulders and slipping his legs under Heyes’ jacket.  “Ahhh.  Goodnight, Heyes.”

“Goodnight, Kid.”


OOOOOOOOOO

Curry woke first the next morning.  The tree over them still shook with the wind howling through the forest, and tiny snowflakes had drifted down through the needles during the night and settled on their jackets.  “Heyes, wake up, I think it’s snowing,” said the Kid, shaking the snowflakes off his jacket as he sat up.  

“That’s all we need,” groused Heyes, rolling onto his back.  “Dang, it’s cold in here.”

Curry reached out and used a branch to stir the remaining coals in one of last night’s fires.  Putting his hand over the coals, he shook his head.  “They’re out.  Ground’s cold, too.  Should I start another one?”

“Naw.  We better get going before the snow gets any deeper.  Pass me my boots, will you?”  The Kid handed over the tall, black boots.  He scooped up some of the spruce duff and poured it into his own boots.

“What’re you doing?” asked Heyes.

“Your pa said to always keep something between you and the ground.  I figure it can’t hurt to add a layer under my feet if we gonna be sloggin’ through deep snow.”

“You know, Kid, sometimes I think you might just be a genius, too.”  Heyes filled his boots with duff and pulled his bandana up and tied it tightly around his face.  Grabbing his battered black hat, he put it on.  He picked up and held out his partner’s brown hat.

“I reckon it takes one to know one and I definitely know you,” grinned Curry, taking his hat and pulling it low.  

“Let’s just hope we’re both ingenious enough to get off this mountain alive.  Ready?” Heyes began clearing the snow away from their entry hole.  He leaned forward and poked his head through the short tunnel.  “Yep, it’s snowing hard.  Let’s go.”  He disappeared out the hole.  

Emerging, Curry stood up and looked around.  A pristine layer of whiteness covered everything.  Their tracks from yesterday had disappeared and he turned around a couple of times.  The mountain hovered above them through the thickly falling flakes.  

Heyes started off downhill.  Sighing, the Kid followed in his partner’s footsteps.

They took turns leading.  As one partner tired, the other would pass to break a new trail through deep snow.  By midday, the snow had grown heavier.  Despite dropping much lower in elevation, the day had cooled considerably, and both of them had to stop frequently to rub circulation back into their feet.  

Occasionally, they crossed the trail of a rabbit or fox, but they saw no signs of the creatures.  Curry’s stomach began rumbling loudly.  “How far are we, Heyes?”

“From what?”

“From anything.”

“How would I know?  I don’t even know where we are.”

“I’m hungry.”

“So am I, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Heyes.

“My feet are cold.”

“Kid!  Are you gonna gripe all the way out of here?  ‘Cause if you’re planning to, lying down and freezing to death is looking pretty good to me right now.”  

“Sheesh, no need to get proddy.”

By late afternoon, they were nearly down the mountain and a broad expanse of meadow bisected by a stream had opened before them through the curtain of snow.  The wind was picking up again and the snow was beginning to get even heavier, but the temperature stayed cold and the dry, frozen flakes didn’t cling to the two ex-outlaws.  

“I can’t go any further, Kid.  Let’s find a place to stop,” said Heyes, stumbling tiredly through the deep snow.  It was halfway up their thighs and they were wading more than walking.  

“I can’t feel my feet, can you?”

“Not for the last few hours.  I want to get these boots off and check for frostbite.”  Heyes blinked several times, and reached up with an icy glove, wiping his eyes.  The trees at this elevation were mostly spindly Lodgepole pines and scattered Rocky Mountain firs.  Heyes stopped and waited for the Kid to reach him.  

“We’re gonna have to build a snow cave,” said the Kid.  “The trees are too mature; their branches are too far apart for a shelter.”

“How do you plan to do that?  I didn’t bring a shovel, did you?” snapped Heyes, sarcastically.  “It’d take all night to dig one with our bare hands.  Besides, the snow’s not deep enough here and it’s too fresh.  It’d cave in before we could use it.  We’ll have to make our own shelter and we better do it fast.  The storm’s getting worse."

“You mean like the forts we used to build as kids?” asked the Kid.  

“Yep, just like that.  See that snagged Lodgepole?  We can use that.”  Heyes pointed to a tree hanging in the crook of another tree on the leeward side about two and a half feet off the ground.  “Spread out and grab anything you can find; twigs, branches, leaves; we’ll use it all.”

The two partners worked quickly and managed to build a reasonably solid structure.  Thicker, needled branches were wedged into the snow and the ends leaned up against the downed tree.  Smaller dry sticks and twigs were piled on top and woven within the branches.  Leaves and loose needles gathered from around the trunks of other trees were strewn over it all to fill in the gaps.  The inside of the space was lined with pine needles, small uprooted shrubs, and a layer of pine boughs.

The Kid dragged over several more pine boughs. “I’ll lean some of these up over the snow when you’re done.  They oughta give us some more insulation and help keep it from blowing away.  Here’s two branches to cover the entrance.”  He left two next to the opening and dragged the others over to Heyes who had built up the snow around the outside as best he could.  

“The snow’s drier today, Kid.  It’s not clinging to the branches,” Heyes said, exasperation tainting his voice.   He was having difficulty getting the snow to stay where he put it.

“Let me lean these branches up.  Maybe they’ll help.”  They packed the snow into the branches and, finally, the two men stood back and surveyed the structure.  

“Looks good to me.  Let’s go in. I’m freezing.” Heyes crawled in, waited for the Kid to join him, and then pulled the branches over the doorway and sat up.  “The floor’s packed deep enough with boughs to keep us from the cold ground and the whole thing is small enough it ought to heat up fast enough with our body heat,” Heyes said proudly.  

“Body heat?  What do we need that for?  Ain’t we buildin’ a fire?”  Kid looked around at the walls that tapered along the fallen tree from two and a half feet high to just over an inch or two.

“There’s not enough space to build a fire, but we’ll stay dry and out of the wind.  It’s not going to be as warm as last night,” Heyes said, “so we’re going to have to cozy up.”

“Fine by me; I’m cold enough I’m even willin’ to hug you.”  The Kid lay down and his partner stretched out next to him.  Awkwardly, he did his best to sidle up next to Heyes without getting too near to him.

As he tentatively reached around his partner, Heyes chuckled.  “That’s close enough, Kid. I said cozy up, not spoon me.”  Curry jolted away and rolled over, curled up his legs and arms, and pressed his back against Heyes’.


OOOOOOOOOO

It was a cold, miserable night.  When the two partners slowly and stiffly crawled out of the shelter, they found that the storm had intensified into a blizzard during the night.  Their shelter was covered in snow and it was nearly impossible to see for any distance.

“Maybe we should stay put until the storm passes,” yelled Heyes.  The wind was snatching his words away as quickly as he mouthed them.  He pulled his bandana up over his nose and ears as best he could.

“It could snow for days, Heyes.  If it gets too deep, we ain’t gonna be able to walk outta here,” hollered the Kid.  He pulled the stampede string on his hat up under his chin.

“I don’t know; it looks like it’s gonna be kind of easy to get lost.”

“What difference does it make?  We’re already lost.  I’d rather keep goin’ if it’s all the same to you,” said the Kid.  “We ain’t gonna last long without water, Heyes, and we can’t build a fire.  Let’s see if we can break through the ice in that stream we saw yesterday.”

“All right, I’ll follow you.”

Heads down, shoulders humped, and hands tucked into their arms, the two men walked in the direction of the big meadow they’d seen last night.  The driving snow caused them to constantly wipe their eyes and the lack of visibility made them keep within a foot or two of each other.  It was brutal out in the open with nothing to break the wind except the clothes on their backs and Heyes began to shiver in his wool coat.  

“Hang on, Heyes, we’re almost there,” said the Kid, turning his head so that his words would reach his partner.  “I think I see the stream up ahead.”  Heyes reached out and grabbed onto the hem of Curry’s sheepskin coat with his left hand.  His eyes were already sealed shut by the ice clinging to his lashes and he stumbled behind his more warmly-clad friend.

Arriving at the stream, the Kid dropped to his knees and pried up a rock from the frozen ground.  Using it as a hammer, he pounded the thick ice until cracks began to form.  Water rose through the cracks and spread across the surface of the ice.  Like an animal, the Kid sucked the water up with his lips and his tongue.  Sated, he sat back and shifted to the side so that Heyes could drink.  Heyes fell down, stretched out in the snow, and drank eagerly.  He pulled off one glove, and drew the small oilcan from his pocket and carefully filled it with water by pressing down on the broken ice.  His hand was freezing from the wetness but he managed to screw the cap on again and he sat up.  Nestling the can upright in his pocket, he pulled his glove back on and struggled to his feet.  The Kid reached out and grabbed his arm as he swayed with a particularly strong gust of wind.  The snow was blowing almost horizontally to the ground and cold ice crystals settled on the backs of their necks and ears despite their upturned collars.

“We gotta get out of this wind, Kid.  I can’t go much further,” yelled Heyes.

The Kid nodded and kept a strong grip on Heyes’ gray jacket as he began to trudge towards the trees.  Halfway across the meadow, the wind shifted directions several times and stirred up the snow at their feet, causing a whiteout.  Curry staggered in the onslaught and Heyes swung around, stumbling to the ground and pulling the Kid down with him.  Clutching each other, they wallowed in the snow for a moment before they struggled upright again.

“Sheesh, I got all turned around.  I can’t see nothin’.  Which way do we go?” yelled the Kid into Heyes’ ear as he clutched him to his chest.  “Heyes!”  He shook his partner several times, but there was no answer.  Heyes was no longer shivering and his lips were blue.  Curry gently wiped away the ice and snow that caked his partner’s face, but Heyes didn’t open his eyes.  He was still on his feet, but only semi-conscious.  Pulling Heyes’ arm over his shoulder, the Kid gripped him around the waist and began half-dragging his friend blindly into the storm.

It wasn’t long before Heyes sagged into the Kid.  Curry pulled his partner through the snow for another fifty yards before his own strength gave out and they fell again.  Instantly, a small drift of snow pushed up against his back.  The Kid spoke softly to a limp Heyes, resting peacefully in his arms, “I’m so cold, the snow’s starting to feel warm.”  He pulled Heyes against him, burying his partner’s frozen face into his chest.  Tucking his chin in, he curled up tight to his best friend and began to drift off to sleep.  

A loud groan roused him from his stupor.  He let go of Heyes and rolled over, trying to peer through the snow.  A large, dark shape loomed nearby and another moan escaped from it.  A cow!  The Kid pushed himself up off the snow and grabbed the shoulders of Heyes’ coat, dragging him through the snow towards the snowbound creature.  The cow had dropped to the ground and paid no attention to the approach of the two men.  The Kid knelt down on the leeward side of the large steer and tucked Heyes up against its warmth.  The cow didn’t move, but continued to groan piteously.

“I know, girl; we’re all in real trouble here.  Maybe we can help each other out,” mumbled the Kid.  He stretched himself across Heyes’ inert form, pulling his partner’s hands up and shoving them inside the gray jacket.  Holding Heyes between him and the cow, he tucked his head and feet up against the animal’s hide.  The cow offered no resistance, but lay quietly where she had dropped.  

“Easy now, girl, we ain’t gonna hurt you.  We’re freezin’ same as you so,” said the Kid, soothingly.  “We’ll warm your back if you warm ours.  Dang, you make a good windbreak.”

A short time later, another dark form drifted in followed by a lighter, browner one.  The herd was gathering together for warmth.  Curry nearly dozed off again as a second cow knelt to the ground just a few feet away.  He lay awake watching as more and more cows clustered around him and his unconscious partner.  “That’s it, ladies.  Gather round and warm us up.”  

Finally, he closed his eyes.


OOOOOOOOOO

_________________
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 03 May 2014, 1:55 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 03 May 2014, 1:30 pm by royannahuggins
“That’s already fifteen head we’ve lost, Bart.  We’ll have to butcher ‘em to cover the mortgage this month,” growled a raspy voice.  He looked out across the meadow at the strange, white lumps that dotted it until he saw a slight movement from one of the odd, snow-covered hillocks.  “Hey, there’s one that’s still alive.  I’ll get her to her feet.”  The man flung himself out of his saddle and ran towards the cow buried in last night’s blizzard.  The animal shifted slightly, and lifted her head wearily.  “Looks like she might’ve lost her calves,” he called to Bart before pointing at the two smaller, snow-covered shapes nestled next to her.  Kneeling by the shaggy beast, he stroked her absentmindedly before taking a deep breath and pushing away the snow at her side. He jumped back in shock as a human hand fell from the whiteness.  “Bart, get over here!  There’s a man over here!”

Bart galloped over and pulled up.  “Is he dead, Boss?”  He sat on his horse, stunned.  A light-haired man lay still next to the cow and the rancher was pulling a second, dark-haired man from the snow drift.  

“They’re both alive!  Give me your bedroll and fetch mine,” ordered the boss.

Bart dismounted and grabbed both bedrolls from the saddles.  Hurrying back, he tossed one to his employer, and gently wrapped the light-haired man in the other.  Strong hands gripped the Kid as he rose to consciousness until he struggled away and they let him go.  Sitting up abruptly, he wiped the ice from his eyes and stared at a blond-haired man with a bushy handlebar mustache.  

“Are you all right, mister?”  Bart held his bedroll around the Kid’s shoulder.

“Yeah, thanks, I think I am,” said Curry, reached up to tightly tug the ends of the heavy, canvas material together and he pulled away from Bart’s grip.  “Where’s my partner?”

“He’s right there.  My boss is looking after him.  Take it easy now.  Micah, is his partner all right?”  The Kid fought his way to his feet with Bart steadying him.  Staggering, he slowly made the three steps it took to reach Heyes.

Micah was wrapping Heyes in his bedroll.  “He ought to be fine once we warm him up.”  Glancing up, the rancher smiled at the frightened-looking man hovering over him.  “I reckon you both could use some warming up.  Where’d you boys come from and what’re you doing out this far?  And unarmed?”

The Kid stared at him blankly for a moment, looked down at his hip as though surprised to find that he was without his gun, and slowly said, “We were freighthoppin’; got thrown off at the top of the pass by one of the bulls.”

The older man stood and pushed the brim of his slouch hat up.  “When was that?”

“Not sure, maybe the day before yesterday.  We’ve been walkin’ ever since.  I have no idea how long we’ve been out.”  Curry dropped down next to Heyes, whose lips were still blue, and gently patted his immobile, white face.

“Not too long.  From the amount of snow on you, I’d say it wasn’t more’n a couple of hours.  Storm let up a little while ago.  You got real lucky.  Soon’s it broke, Bart and me came out to check the herd.  The cows kept the worst of it from you.  The snow, covering you quickly like that, probably saved your lives,” said Micah.

“Yep, you were darn lucky, mister.  Look around, we lost a lot more’n a few head,” added Bart.

The Kid did and he saw the still, snow-covered lumps scattered through the herd.  “That was almost us,” he said quietly.  “Where are we?”

“You’re on the Double Bar Y Ranch just southwest of Longmont.  I’m Micah Roberts and that there is Bart Wisehoff.”

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to meet you, Micah.  I’m Thaddeus Jones and this is my partner, Joshua Smith,” said Curry, extending his hand.

Micah took it and chuckled.  “Smith and Jones, huh?  Guess I can see why you got tossed off that train.  Bart, can you help me put Mr. Smith here up in my saddle?  I’ll double up behind him if you can take Mr. Jones.”

“Sure thing, boss,” said Bart.  He began to lift Heyes’ shoulders.  The Kid was too weak to help.

“We’ll get you two back to the ranch and warmed up in two shakes of a lamb’s tail,” laughed Micah.  “My wife’s gonna have a conniption fit when she sees the state you two are in.  I sure hope you’re hungry; my Violet is a feeder.”

“Yes sir, I reckon I am,” said the Kid, listlessly.  He watched Bart lift Heyes up into the saddle in front of Micah, who wrapped one arm around the unconscious man and steadied his gelding with his other hand.

It wasn’t long before they reached the ranch headquarters.  A small log cabin was nestled in the snow-covered valley, plumes of smoke rising steadily from its two chimneys.  Close by, the bunkhouse was obviously warmed as well by a stove or fireplace.  A barn towered over the smaller buildings and its adjacent stockyards were barren of animals.  The horses had been stabled against the worst of the weather and the cows had been left to fend for themselves as best they could.

A tiny, brown-haired woman burst from the door of the cabin and hurried down the steps, running across the yard to where they’d pulled up.  A shawl flapped loosely about her shoulders and when she stopped, a torrent of words flowed from her.  “Micah, good heavens, what happened?  Are they all right?  Get them inside where it’s warm.  Not the bunkhouse, bring them to the cabin.  I’ve got stew on.  They’ll warm up in no time.  Land’s sake, the poor things are turning blue.  Bart, you take the horses; Micah, I’ll help you with that one.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Bart with a shy smile.  He helped the Kid from the saddle and made sure he could stand on his own before leading the two horses to the barn.  

“You’re the boss, Vi,” Micah chuckled.  He hefted Heyes onto his shoulder and clasped both arms around his legs to steady his weight.  Violet hurried ahead of him, reaching the cabin door and disappearing inside.  The Kid stiffly followed behind them both.  “Smells good, sweetheart,” said Micah approvingly as he stepped inside his home.

The Kid looked around the cozy cabin.  It was sparsely furnished, but comfortable, with an old horsehide sofa and a stuffed side chair nestled by a roaring fire.  Another fire emanated from the cooking hearth in the kitchen.  A rough-hewn table dominated that space.  Curry trailed behind Micah absently.  

Micah could hear Violet in their room, rummaging around.  Pushing open the leather-strapped door with his shoulder he carried his burden inside.  The fireplace that serviced the living area also warmed this room and the loft above it.  He crossed to the double bed and gently lowered Heyes onto it.  Violet had opened the large trunk at the foot of the bed and was pulling her store of blankets from it.  She threw several to her husband.  “Cover him up good, Micah.  You, come with me,” she barked at Kid Curry, clutching the rest of the blankets.  He meekly followed her from the room and across to the kitchen.  “Set yourself down, young man, and I’ll fill you up with some stew.  That ought to take the chill off you.”  Once he’d sat down, she pulled the bedroll from his shoulders and tucked the remaining blankets around him.

“Thank you, ma’am,” said the Kid.  “My name’s Thaddeus, ma’am, Thaddeus Jones.”

“Now don’t go ma’aming me up one side and down the other.  I’m Violet and that’s all I’m gonna answer to.”  She turned from him and, snatching up a ladle and bowl from the counter, she crossed to one of the two large pots bubbling over the fire on cast-iron pot hooks and scooped out a large portion of her beef stew, setting the bowl in front of him and fetching him a spoon and a mug.

Micah emerged from the bedroom, took one look at his small wife hovering over the boy, and laughed.  “Vi, save some of that stew for me and Bart; I’m gonna go help him settle the horses.”  

Violet clucked at him, “When has anyone ever gone hungry in my house?  There’s plenty for everyone.”  As the door shut behind Micah, she turned to her guest and said, “Pay him no never mind.  You eat just as much as you like, those two don’t need it as much as you do.”

The Kid carefully blew on a spoonful, tasted the stew, and smiled.  “Violet, I reckon this just might be the best stew I’ve ever had the honor to put in my mouth.”

She tittered happily as she carried the coffee pot over to fill his mug.  “My, ain’t you the silver-tongued devil?”

“No, ma’am, that’d be my partner,” said Curry earnestly.

“Then I’m going to be in a world of trouble, ain’t I?”  She ladled a bowl of hot water from the second pot.  “Now eat up.  Help yourself to more.  I’m gonna go tend to your friend.”

“Ma’am, we don’t want to put you and Micah out.  We could sleep in the bunkhouse with Bart.”

“Nonsense, your friend needs warmth and our room is the warmest.  You’ll stay there and I won’t hear another word about.  Me and Micah will be right cozy in the loft.”  Violet bustled away to the bedroom.

By the time the Kid finished his meal, he could barely keep his eyes open.  Getting up from the table, he carried his dishes to the pump sink and rinsed them thoroughly; drying them with the linen towel he found hanging on a nail above the counter.  He pulled the blankets tightly around him again and went to check on Heyes.

Leaning in the doorway, he watched Violet gently bathing his partner’s face.  “How’s he doin’?” he asked as he came in the room and sat on the bed.  Heyes’ color had improved with her ministrations.

The Kid turned slightly as the cabin door opened and shut and looked through the doorway.  Micah and Bart were stamping away the snow on their feet on the braided rug at the threshold.  

“He’ll be fine.  He’s just all tuckered out from the cold.  I expect you’re tired, too,” said Violet.  “Lay yourself down here and get some rest.  I’d better go feed those two before they begin bleating for food.”  Picking up her bowl of water and the rag, she smiled at the Kid and left the room.

Curry pulled back the layers of blankets and placed the ones about his shoulders over the foot of the bed.  Crawling into the bed, he sighed contentedly.

“Is she gone?” asked a familiar, deep voice.

“Playin’ possum, huh?” said the Kid, smiling at his friend.

“Geez, she has no sense of privacy.”

“Not like you to stay quiet about that,” observed Curry.

“I was too tired to protest.  I figured the best I could do was to feign death.  How are you?”

“I’m still cold and my toes look a little worrisome, but I’m all right.  How ‘bout you?”

“I’ll be fine once I thaw out.  We got real lucky, Thaddeus.  What’re the odds someone would’ve found us out in the middle of nowhere?”

“Not good.  Guess we’re luckier than we want to believe.  Now shut up and let me sleep,” grumbled Curry, turning over onto his side and closing his eyes.

Heyes blew out the oil lamp on the side table and lay staring at the ceiling.


OOOOOOOOOO

A clatter of dishes woke him the next morning.  Next to him, the bed was empty.  He got out of bed slowly and pulled on his shirt and pants which were draped over a rocker in the far corner of the room.  Running his hands through his hair, he walked into the living area.  The Kid was seated at the kitchen table sipping a mug of coffee and Violet was stacking her breakfast dishes onto the rough wooden shelf over the counter.

“Good morning, Joshua.  Set yourself down and I’ll fetch you some coffee,” said Violet, turning to him.  “Are you hungry?   There’s soda bread staying warm on the hearth and I can rustle you up some ham and eggs.”

“That’d be real nice, ma’am,” said Heyes.  He longingly looked at the large plate of food that the Kid was enthusiastically shoveling into his mouth.  “We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for us.”

“Like I told your friend, don’t ma’am me, it’s Violet,” she said over her shoulder as she cracked several eggs into a skillet.  She forked a slice of ham onto a waiting plate.  Using a wooden spoon, she quickly scrambled the eggs and placed the hot platter of food in front of Heyes.  “So, just how grateful are you boys?”

The Kid and Heyes looked up at her, surprised by the question, and then glanced at each other and smiled.  “What is it you have in mind, Violet?” asked Heyes with a cheeky grin, “as long as it’s legal, we’ll be happy to do what we can to help you.”

She snorted at him, “Oh, it’s legal, it’s just messy.  Bart and Micah could use a hand butchering up those cows we lost.  No reason to let the meat go to waste.  Heaven knows, we need to make as much money back on those critters as we can.”

Heyes frowned at her words.  “We’d be happy to help.  This is a big loss for you, isn’t it?”

Violet wiped her hands on her apron and sat down across from them.  She poured herself a cup of coffee and topped off each of theirs.  “It sure is.  Ranching’s a hard way to make a living and the last couple of winters have been real tough on us.”  Her eyes filled with unshed tears.

The Kid reached out and covered her hand with his.  “How bad is it, Violet?”

“It’s bad.  We’ve been trying to get a small loan to tide us over, but the banks won’t help us.  They say it’s throwing good money after bad.  Can you believe that?  My Micah has always made the mortgage, this ranch is nearly paid for, but we’re gonna lose it because we can’t get enough help to tide us over.  It’s not like we’re asking for much, just enough to help us build up the herd again.  We’re honest people, we pay our bills, and we’ve worked hard all our lives.  Some dang fool banker decides we’re not worth his trouble and we lose everything we’ve worked so hard for.  It ain’t right.”

“Maybe you should try another bank,” offered Heyes.

Violet sniffed and wiped her eyes.  “Don’t you think we know that?  We’ve been to every bank around these parts.  We’re even made the trip into Fort Collins last week to try that real big bank there; said they’d have to get approval from their main office in Omaha.  It’s our last hope.”

“Fort Collins?” said Heyes, sitting up straighter.

“The answer’s always the same.  The banks all say small ranches like ours are not a good investment,” explained Violet.  “What they want to say is that they’d rather wait and take the whole thing when we lose it!”  Now the tears overflowed and she lifted her apron, hiding her face.

Heyes stood up and put a hand on her shoulder.  “Violet, tell me about the bank in Fort Collins.”

She stopped sobbing and looked up at him.  “Why are you interested, Joshua?”

“We did a job for a banker in Fort Collins.  Let’s just say he owes us a favor.”

The Kid snorted.  “A real, big favor.”

“Really?  Do you think he’d help us?” asked Violet, hopefully.

“Oh, we might have to persuade him, but I think he will.  Now who did you see in Fort Collins?” persisted Heyes.

“We saw a Mr. Winston at the First National Bank,” said Violet.  She looked at them skeptically as they smiled at each other again.  “He wasn’t a nice man.  Looked down on me and Micah like we wasn’t worth his time.  How do you boys know him?”

“We did a job for him.  A pretty big job and he still owes us some money.  Maybe we can work out a deal with him,” said Heyes.  The Kid looked at him sharply, but kept quiet.

Violet patted Heyes’ hand that was resting on her shoulder.  “Anything you can do would be a comfort to me, but we can’t let Micah know you’re getting involved.  He’s too proud to accept help.”

“It’ll be our secret.  Just you, me, and Thaddeus will know,” smiled Heyes.  “Now tell me what Mr. Winston said.”  He sat down again and picked up his fork.

“He told us that he couldn’t personally make the loan.  He had to send it onto the main office in Omaha and it wouldn’t go out until Monday.”

“So you still might get the loan,” said the Kid, trying to reassure her.

She frowned at him.  “Or we still might lose the ranch.  We’ll make enough from the butcherin’ for this month’s payment, but without that loan, we won’t make next month’s.”

“We’ll stop in and see good old Mr. Winston on our way through town on Monday.  Put in a good word for you.”

The Kid rolled his eyes, but Violet gave him a brilliant smile.


OOOOOOOOOO

The two partners stood outside the cabin holding the reins to two saddle horses.  

“Micah, Violet, thank you so much for everything; you, too, Bart,” said Heyes.

“You two take care.  If you’re ever in these parts again, please look us up,” said Micah.  “Just leave the horses at the Fort Collins livery.  Tell Jimmy, I’ll pay up when I get there to sell the meat at the end of the week.  He’ll recognize them.”

Bart shook each of their hands.  “No more jumping trains, you hear?”

The Kid chuckled, “Not if we can help it.”

Violet handed the boys a sack.  “Here, take this, there’s enough dried meat, baked goods, and dried fruit to last you a spell.”  

Heyes kissed her cheek as the Kid took the sack.  “Thank you, Violet.  We’ll miss your good cooking.”

“Oh, go on, you,” she said giving Curry a friendly push on his chest.

“Boys, I reckon you two did a week’s worth of work for us butchering those beeves.  Here’s a little something to get you back on your feet,” said Micah with a smile.  He handed Heyes a small handful of coins.

“Micah, we can’t take this.  Not after everything you’ve done for us,” protested Heyes.

“You can and you will.  I won’t sleep tonight thinking about you getting tossed off another train,” laughed the rancher, “Buy some tickets this time.

Heyes and the Kid laughed, too, and shook his hand.  “All right.  Thank you, we won’t forget it.  We owe you again,” said Curry as Heyes winked at Violet.

Once in the saddle, Heyes and the Kid rode quickly towards Fort Collins.

“I hope we ain’t makin’ a mistake goin’ back, Heyes.  That sheriff won’t be happy if he catches us in his town.”

“We’ve gotta help out Violet and Micah, Kid.  We owe them; I owe them.”

Curry chuckled, “Guess it is your turn to help the needy.”

“I’m not planning on hanging around any longer than necessary.  We’ll take care of Winston and then head to Denver.  Soapy’ll put us up for a night or two.”

“All right, as long as we don’t stay in Fort Collins any longer than it takes.  I don’t want to run into that sheriff again,” said the Kid.  “You got the glass?”

Heyes patted his coat pocket, “Right here, safe and sound.  Found it in the trash pile behind the cabin.”  


OOOOOOOOOO

It was an hour or two past dark, by the time they rode into town.  The two men liveried the horses and kept to the shadows of the back alleys of town.  They stationed themselves at the end of the alley across the street from the bank and stood quietly, enjoying the dinner provided by Violet.

“She sure can cook, can’t she?” said the Kid, wistfully chewing a fresh sweet roll.

“Micah’s a lucky man, and he’s about to get a whole lot luckier,” said Heyes.  “Look, there’s Winston!”

A portly man emerged from the front door of the bank and locked it carefully.  Slipping the key in his pocket, he hurried down the street with his collar turned up and his head ducked down, avoiding the cold air.

Heyes waited five minutes and then tugged the Kid’s arm.  “Let’s go around the back.”  The two partners crept down the alley and casually crossed the street at the intersection, continuing on to the next corner.  Rounding that, they picked up their pace until they reached the alley that ran behind the bank.  Running now, they hurried to the back door of the building.  It was a solid, steel-barred door.  Heyes pulled out his set of lock picks and went to work.  A few minutes later, the door swung open and the two men slipped inside.  

The Kid re-locked the door and took up his station by the barred window, keeping watch for the law, as Heyes lit a small oil lamp on the corner of an oak desk and shielded it from outside eyes by opening a large appointment book and setting it on end between the light and the windows.  He picked up a heavily-mounted nameplate and read the name engraved there.  Hiram J. Winston, Branch Manager.  He looked around the bank until he spotted the mail bag hooked behind the teller cages.  Walking over, he pulled the bag down and swiftly worked his way through the documents it contained until he found the one he was seeking; a loan application for Roberts, Micah and Violet.  He yanked it out and carried it back to the desk, sitting down.  

Stamped across the first page in bright red letters was the word “Denied” with Winston’s signature scrawled below it.  Heyes scowled.  “He’s already turned them down, Kid.  We gotta do this.”  He put the document down and picked the locks on the desk and slid the middle drawer open.  “Ha, now I know it’s gonna work.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the Kid from his position at the window.

“’Cause good old Winston’s got rubber stamps.”

“So?”

“So, all I have to do is forge his signature.  If I had to write anything more, it’d be a dead giveaway the document was forged.”  Several rubber stamps occupied the center drawer, and Heyes picked up each one and read the backwards lettering.  Putting the “Approved” stamp and an ink pad on the desk, he carefully removed the first page of the original loan documents.  Getting up, he walked over to one of the other desks upon which rested a typewriter.

Sitting down, he put a blank sheet of paper into the roller and positioned it.  He put the original first page of the loan on the desktop next to him so he could read it as he worked.  He slowly re-typed it, tapping the keys with his two index fingers.  Heyes was nearly finished when the Kid hissed, “Someone’s coming.”  Curry pulled his gun.  Heyes waited, his hands paused in mid-air over the machine.  Footsteps rang on the wooden sidewalk and the front door knob rattled.  The two partners held their collective breaths.  A moment later, the footsteps continued around the side of the building and that doorknob was also rattled.  They listened to the footsteps recede and when they were gone, Heyes resumed his labored typing.  

His task completed, Heyes ripped the page from the platen and pulled out the small piece of broken plate glass from his pocket.  He snatched up the first page of the original loan document and placed the copy on top of it and put both pages on top of the glass.  “Psst, Kid, come hold this.”

The Kid took one last look out the window and hurried over to his friend.  He took the glass from Heyes and held it, along with the pages, over the oil lamp so that Winston’s signature was centered on the glass and illuminated from below without harming either paper.  The signature could be easily read through the newly-typed page on top and the glass provided a solid writing surface.  Heyes picked up a pen from the inkwell on the corner of the desk and confidently traced Mr. Winston’s signature onto the new form.

“You sure this is gonna work?” asked the Kid, skeptically.  “I mean, ain’t someone gonna figure it out sooner or later?”

“Maybe, but it’ll be too late by then.  It’s going out in the mail tomorrow.  Once the loan is made, how will Winston go back on it?  His signature is on the loan.  He’d have to admit that he put the wrong stamp on it.”

“Or he just might figure out someone forged his name to it,” pointed out the Kid.

“It’s a good forgery, one of my best; I don’t think he’ll figure it out.  But, if he did, he’d also have to admit to his bosses at First National Bank of Omaha that the security at the branch was so bad some low-down, no-good crook waltzed right in here with no one being the wiser.  I don’t think he’d want to do that, do you?  Besides, First National’s taking the risk, not him; he’ll keep quiet.  Look, it’s the best we can do and I think it’ll work.”  

The two partners smiled at each other.  Heyes fanned the forged page to dry the ink and the Kid returned to the window.  Heyes slipped the glass and the original sheet marked “Denied” into his pocket.  Sitting again at Winston’s desk, he quickly stamped the freshly-signed page “Approved”, re-attached it to the other loan documents and carried it all over to the mailbag and put it inside, buried in the other documents.  He quickly re-locked the desk, and blew out the oil lamp.  


OOOOOOOOOO

Twenty minutes later, the two men purchased a pair of train tickets and boarded the southbound train to Denver.  They found a half-empty car, containing only a few sleepy passengers, and settled in the back row near the exit door.  

Curry sighed and leaned back, pulling his hat down over his eyes.  “I sure hope Micah and Violet make a go of it.  At least, we’ve given them a chance to.”

“Yep, and we got a chance to payback Winston.  Just goes to prove, Kid, what goes around comes around.”  Heyes smiled evilly.  

The train whistle blew, drowning out the sound of laughter in the back of the rail car.



Author’s notes:

Two immigrant brothers from Ohio, Herman and Augustus Kountze, opened Kountze Brothers Bank in 1857.  Omaha's first bank opened its doors and started trading primarily in gold dust and buffalo hides.  Kountze Brothers Bank received national charter #209 in 1863.  Today, theirs is the oldest national bank west of the Missouri River.  In 1863, they also began doing business as First National Bank of Omaha.  Since 1881, First National Bank has been doing business in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_National_Bank_of_Omaha


Rubber stamps became popular during the Civil War.  Early stamp makers tended to be colorful, and many frontier-like exploits dot the landscape.  Louis K. Scotford and his companion Will Day set off across Indian Territory to the settlements in Texas carrying their stamp-making equipment in an old lumber wagon.  The country was wild and rugged in 1876, frequented by bandits and Indians. L.K. and Will solicited orders during the day, made the stamps at night, and delivered the following day in time for the intrepid pair to harness up and head out once again.  It was a romantic adventure and not unprofitable.  At the end of their three thousand-mile trek, the two returned to St. Louis with two twenty-five-pound shot bags filled with silver dollars.
Source: http://www.tealdragon.net/rs/rshist.htm



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Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 03 May 2014, 2:05 pm by Penski
It's hot where I live, but you had me shivering while reading your descriptions of the cold, Inside Outlaw!  I learned so much about snow survival and love the historical notes at the end of the story.  Heyes and the Kid barely made it out alive this time.  My favorite bantering is when the Kid goes to bed and realized Heyes is really awake.  Wonderful story!   
 goodjob 
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Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Mon 05 May 2014, 12:25 am by CD Roberts
Fantastic story. It was almost excruciatingly realistic-I almost felt the cold reading it. The survival techniques were fascinating and informative and I hope I never have to use them. Lucky thing for the boys Heyes learned all that! Neat finish; I didn't expect this story would have such a twist at the end or that Hannibal Heyes plan would be needed. The additional photos are great. The picture of the winter stream is beautiful.
Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Tue 06 May 2014, 10:17 am by Rosieannie USA
My first impression - boy, was I smart when I turned down opportunities to go winter camping. Second impression - the railroad "bull" who forced the boys off the train is essentially a sadist. Throwing two men off a train in that kind of weather, men who have no protection against the weather and are unarmed, is murder. The bull can tell himself, he didn't kill anybody, because he didn't shoot them, but throwing someone out under those circumstances is murder. The boys were able to pay back the people who saved them, partly by getting around the evil banker. All's well that ends well, at least for the good guys. I'd like to see that railroad bull get his comeuppance, though.
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Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 10 May 2014, 9:35 pm by Ghislaine Emrys

Very enjoyable! What I liked was all the detail about how the partners survived in the wilderness. And then, of course, they do a good deed to help out the people who helped them. It reminded me of Posse in a way. But this story was kind of the opposite of that episode, in that more time was spent (it seemed to me) on showing the boys on their own trying to survive the snowstorms, with a shorter amount of time spent on how they helped their rescuers. And, of course, they needed to use their special skills in order to fulfill their promise to Violet—always nice to see them illegally inside a bank! I also really liked the references to Red Gap, which is my favorite episode, and the oil can, which always seemed kind of silly to me that Heyes would carry something like that around in a pocket—very clever of you to find a way to find a positive use for it!
Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Thu 15 May 2014, 6:55 am by CalicoMax
Inside, you are so kind – you are packing Heyes and Kid in snow to preserve them when you post them to England?  Yes?  Oh, No.   Okay.  
Oh, shivery shivery shivery – you’re channelling all our bad winters, huh?  Poor boys.
Well, who would have thought HH was such a good boy scout!  I’m taking notes for next time I’m trapped in snow by a spruce tree.  
Did they think of taking some ladies of a certain age to provide this body heat?  
They did!!!  The moo-cows to the rescue, hurrah.  
Aww, I’m loving HH playing possum.
Oooh, what is HH planning to do to the mean old banker?  Ahah, a little gentle forgery.   Bless.  
That was sweet Inside, our boys combining a grateful act with a little mild revenge.
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Re: What Goes Around Comes Around by Inside Outlaw
Post on Fri 13 Jun 2014, 10:57 am by Grace R. Williams
So GLAD the recent winter is finally behind us! Wonderful survival story seasoned nicely with a touch of revenge. Two thumbs up! thumbsup 
 

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