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 3.7 Quarantine by JoAnn Baker and Dusty Boots

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Join date : 2013-10-13

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Post3.7 Quarantine by JoAnn Baker and Dusty Boots

by JoAnn Baker and Dusty Boots

"This can't be happening! This is unreal! It’s a nightmare! It's..,”

Hannibal Heyes stood on the sidewalk, searching for the right words.

"Well, that Reverend is a man of his principles, you gotta give him that!" Kid Curry sighed as he sank on a bench and leaned against the wall. “Too bad that ‘Feed the hungry’ isn’t one of them!”

The two former outlaws had been on horseback for a couple of days, running from a bounty hunter. When they thought they'd lost him, Heyes suggested they go to South Fork and either look for a job or a good game of poker. Unfortunately, the local Reverend had declared that poker was sinful and thus prohibited in his little town. Since the Reverend’s sister was the sheriff’s wife, people were fined if they were caught playing poker.

"I mean, we're just two honest law-abiding citizens, who would like to earn some honest money, without doing too much honest work. What harm could there be?" Heyes continued. "Next thing you know they'll be banning saloons—and saloon girls! What's the world coming to? No gambling halls, saloons, girls, all you'll have left is schools and churches and legitimate businesses..,”

Heyes walked off shaking his head in disgust. Kid Curry looked after him with an incredulous look and noticed that the subject of Heyes' tirade was approaching them.

"I am sorry sir, but I could not help but overhear your words and I am glad to hear you'd like to support our petition," a soft gentle voice interrupted.

"Excuse me, what?" Heyes shook his head confused and turned his attention to the man in front of him. The clothes said it all—it was the Reverend and Heyes just barely managed to hold his tongue. Kid suddenly noticed something very interesting happening at the other end of the street. He turned a bit, trying desperately to keep a straight face.

“I am Reverend Ethan Matthews, and we are currently petitioning to ban..,”

Kid noticed the small change on Heyes face and posture. He also noticed the sheriff approaching them from the opposite direction, just out of Heyes´ sight. Before his friend could open his mouth, Kid said,

“Joshua, we’d better take our horses to the livery,”

Heyes shot a glance at Curry, who nodded ever so slightly towards the approaching sheriff. It was quite a strain, but Heyes managed to compose himself and smile.

"Yep. Been in the sun too long. Come on, Thaddeus, first I need a beer,” With a smile to the reverend that did not reach his eyes, Heyes tipped his hat, turned and headed back toward the saloon.

Kid Curry turned and followed his partner.

The reverend watched them go with a troubled look on his face.

“The wages of sin is death,” he called gloomily after them, shaking his head.

“I’ll take any ‘wages’ I can get about now,” Heyes muttered as he walked through the two swinging doors. Kid glanced over his shoulder at the sheriff who was still eying them curiously. They found a table in the corner and settled down with two beers.

“Heyes, weren’t you always the one tellin’ me not to make a scene when there’s a sheriff watching,” Kid was holding his mug of beer close to his lips and peering over the top at his partner.

“Wha –“ Heyes started to defend himself, but then a slow grin spread across his face and he admitted sheepishly, “Yeah, I guess I was,”

“Yep, you sure were,” Curry agreed, taking a long drink from his mug.

A few minutes later Curry was returning to their table after fetching a second round when a conversation caught his attention.

“Heyes, listen, I think those guys I just walked by over there are talking about some jobs,” They both turned their attention toward the group Kid had indicated.

“I’m tellin’ ya Charlie, Mr. Welles hired two more hands just yesterday. I’m heading over myself tomorrow to see if he’s takin’ on any more. That storm last week took out a whole mess of fences and got his herd scattered all over his north field,”

Heyes looked at his friend and raised his eyebrows. Curry was already shaking his head.

“Oh no Heyes, I’m not chasing a bunch of lost cows. I’m not that desperate,” he said it with a finality that only locked Heyes into the challenge.

“Come on Kid, what could be easier, ride around in the mountains for a few days, and maybe fix a fence or two? We’ve only got enough money to last us through the week, and if I can’t win any more playing poker,” a brief scowl crossed his face at the thought, “then we’re going to have to find something pretty quick. It’s perfect, not much interaction with others, so not much chance to be recognized,” He smiled triumphantly at the resigned look on his partner’s face.

“O.K. Heyes, let’s ride on out there,”


Setting: A large ranch house with mountains and pine trees in the background. There is a lot of activity going on, with men walking briskly to and from various chores.  Horses are tethered to a hitching post out front, and a small group of men are standing in a group talking.

“Busy place,” Kid remarked, looking around. They were waiting on the porch for Mr. Welles to see them. “Maybe he’ll be too busy to see us,” he added hopefully.

“Sorry boys,” A tall muscular man of around forty-five had appeared in the doorway. “I’ve got all the hands I need,”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look. Neither was quite sure if they were disappointed or relieved.

“Thanks anyway, Mr. Welles,” Kid said as they turned to leave.

They noticed a commotion going on in one of the corrals near the house and saw a young man come running up. He called to Welles in an agitated voice.

“Charlie just got thrown by that new young stallion he’s been trying to break! I think he broke his leg, we’re gonna need to get him in to see the doc,”

Welles nodded at the young cowhand and then turned back to Heyes and Curry.

“Well—seems I can hire on one more man, which one of you wants it?”

Kid Curry turned towards his friend.

"Well, since it was you who found the job, I'd say it’s yours," Heyes declared, with a satisfied grin.

"Now wait a minute - you just said you'd love to work with cattle. You go," Kid countered.

The rancher was confused. First the two strangers came asking for a job and now
they were arguing about who was going to take it. Kid was the first to give in.

"Alright. Tails,”

Heyes dug a coin out of his pocket. Kid grabbed it for a short, but thorough inspection, before handing it back to his partner. Heyes took it with a wicked grin.

"Right.  Heads I win, tails you loose,”

Kid nodded, then it slowly dawned on him what Heyes had said.

"Now wait a minute!"

But Heyes already tossed the coin up in the air and caught it.

Welles was becoming impatient.

"You fellas made up your mind?"

The two ex-outlaws looked at the coin on the back of Heyes hand. Then they looked at each other. It was tails.


After saying goodbye to the Kid, Heyes headed back into town. Poker might be banned in this town, but experience had taught him that whenever something was forbidden, there were always those who found a way to get around it. He decided to wait until the evening. He found a spot on a bench outside the general store. Somebody had left a newspaper behind and, curious as he was, he started to read the local news. He was in the middle of an interesting story about a cow that had escaped from the butcher’s and walked around town.

“Excuse me,”

The cow trampled Mrs. MacFinnon’s flower garden and passed the saloon, greeting the man who sat there reading the latest dime novel.

“Mr. Smith?”

Being chased after by the butcher and an outraged Mrs. MacFinnon, Daisy, as the cow was called, happily headed straight into the grocery store, where she…


Someone hit the top of the newspaper and Heyes tumbled back into reality. He looked up, irritated, but the irritation disappeared when he saw who had disturbed him. It was a young woman, who had a small, apologetic smile on her face.

“I am sorry. I called you twice, but you didn’t respond,”

Heyes cursed himself for not paying more attention to his surroundings. It might well have been a deputy who recognized him! He quickly got up. He guessed the lady in front of him was in her late twenties, but the lines in her face showed that she had already met with the hardships in life.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I tend forget about the rest of the world once I start reading,”

She glanced at the page he had been reading and laughed,

“Ah—the amazing adventures of Daisy. The editor of the gazette has quite a way with words, he can make even the most boring tales appear as if they are world news,”

“Excuse me, ma’am, but you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name but I don’t know yours,” Heyes looked questioningly at the young woman standing in front of him.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Rebecca Hollis and I’ve heard about you,”

“Heard about me?” Heyes wondered what she’d heard and whether or not it meant trouble.

“Yes, from Daniel Welles, you just came from his ranch?” She paused and Heyes nodded.

“He told me that you might still be looking for work. You see, my daughter and I are alone, that is, my husband passed away last year. Well, we have a small ranch just outside of town, nothing like Mr. Welles’ place, but I have a few animals and—well actually there is quite a bit of work to be done. My roof has a leak, the stable –”

She stopped when she noticed she was rambling. A little girl with long braids at either side of her face raced down the sidewalk.

“Mommy! Look what Mrs. Bray gave me!” she held something in her hands and stretched her arms out so her mother could see what she was holding.

“It’s cinnamon stick. But she broke it ‘cause it was too big for me to chew,” the girl explained excitedly. Then she noticed Heyes and she hid shyly behind her mother. Mrs. Hollis smiled.

“Mr. Smith, this is my daughter Virginia. Ginny, won’t you say hello to Mr. Smith?”

“Hello.” It was barely a whisper.

“I asked Mr. Smith if he’d be willing to help us a bit on the farm,” Mrs. Hollis explained to her daughter, who looked at Heyes with big round eyes.

“Can you make a manger for Jed?” she asked, suddenly very interested.


“He’s our goat,” the girl said proudly, adding in a serious tone “Please? He does not like it when he has dirt in his breakfast and then he gets very grumpy,”

Heyes let a small grin escape at the thought of another Jedediah who insisted on having a proper breakfast.

“Oh well—we don’t want that now, do we?” He thought quickly. He wouldn’t last long on the four dollars and change he had left in his pocket. With Kid not around it might be too risky to join any illegal poker games. This job did not sound too bad. It was better than being bored, not to mention that if he stayed in town he might meet up with that reverend again. He turned to Mrs. Hollis.

“Ma’am, I’d be happy to come out and take a look at what you need done,”


Setting: A small campfire surrounded by five or six cowboys. Surrounding them is desolate rocky mountain terrain.

Kid Curry trudged in to the camp carrying his bedroll. After rubbing down his mare and seeing that she was fed and watered, he barely had the energy to bed himself down, let alone stay up telling stories and playing cards with the ranch hands. He chuckled to himself, if Heyes had known these boys ignored the ‘no gambling’ decree up here in the mountains, he might have taken the job. Curry missed having Heyes around. He was used to his partner’s chattering and even though he often complained that Heyes talked too much, truth was he was sort of lonely without him.


Setting: The Hollis ranch, just outside of town.

Rubbing his leg and glaring at the happily chewing goat in front of him, Heyes tried to find a way to solve the problem of Jed’s manger. The manger was split, but he had seen quickly enough that it only needed two new planks under the manger to repair it. Only problem was that as soon as Jed noticed anyone approaching the manger, the goat became as defensive as a banker guarding his safe. Too bad he had to find that out the hard way, Heyes thought ruefully as he rubbed his leg again. He’d been working at the ranch for a week now and he still hadn’t been able to get near the manger.

But for crying out loud—he got into the best safes, robbed the biggest banks, tricked sheriff’s and posse, surely he wasn’t going to be beaten by that darn goat!

Determined he stepped back into the arena. Only two more steps, one more...  Jed stood still in the corner, munching on some grass. Four inches, three, two...  Jed’s head went down and he charged. This time he missed Heyes, but only because he dove over the fence into safety. As he lay in the dirt, inwardly yelling some serious abuse at Jed, his anger changed into surprise when he heard giggles. It was Ginny, who was laughing at him. That hurt his ego even more than the bruise on his leg.

“This isn’t funny, you know!” he said grumpily, although he could not entirely hide his smile. The girl had been so quiet upon his arrival. It was only since yesterday that she dared to approach him without her mother being nearby. Rebecca had told him that since the death of her father, Ginny had not been friendly toward any men. But with Heyes’ constant presence on the farm, she had slowly warmed up. She seemed to trust him and the mere fact that she stood there laughing while he was eating dirt, proved that things were going in the right direction for her.

Heyes got up, hit the dust from his pants and shirt. He swallowed hard against the sickness that came over him. He reckoned it was the nasty result of something he had eaten at the saloon. His stomach had been bothering him for a couple of days now, but he reckoned it would be over in a day or two. He decided to ignore his stomach pains and glared once more at the goat and frowned, before turning to the little girl.

“Ginny—when you feed him, does he attack you?”

Ginny shook her head.

“Well, do you think you can help me?”

The girl nodded and then ran off, leaving Heyes behind in confusion. What was she up to? When she returned, he noticed that the pockets of her apron were filled. With a face that clearly said, “Follow me, I’ll show you the trick”, she walked to Jed’s place and stepped straight into ‘the arena’.

Amazed, Heyes watched as she got something out of her pocket. A carrot?
Jed started to nible on the carrot in the girl’s hand as she began to talk him.

“Hi Jed, you like your carrots don’t you? Mommy says that carrots are good for you. They make you run fast too. Just like a bunny,”

As she continued to talk, Heyes sneaked towards the manger, lifted it and got out as fast as he could. By the time Jed had his third carrot, Ginny had walked backwards toward the small door, gave Jed his last piece of carrot and then quickly slipped out too. Mission accomplished.

Heyes knelt down so he was on the same level as the girl and smiled.

“That was really smart! Thank you very much for your help. Does this work all the time?”

Ginny nodded, but then closed her eyes tightly with a pained expression on her face. Heyes frowned as he looked at the girl. Although it was still early in the morning and the sun was not yet high overhead, Ginny’s face was bright red.

“Ginny, have you been feeling sick?”

“My tummy feels very strange and my head hurts. But Mrs. Bray said that Georgia had a cold last week, so mommy says I might have caught it too,”

She swallowed heavily and to Heyes she appeared sicker than she admitted. Heyes pondered on what to do.

“Do you think your mother would have some of that delicious coffee left? Maybe she has some of those scones too?”

Ginny’s face brightened up by the prospect of a scone covered with some delicious homemade jam. But then her face changed. It seemed she was going to hiccup, but she started to throw up instead. This wasn’t good. This was not good at all.

“Hey..,” Heyes tried to comfort the little girl, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“Joshua, I feel so sick,”

Heyes took her up in his arms and carried her back to the farm. Rebecca, who was working in the garden, looked up as he approached the fence.

“Joshua, what is wrong?”


Ten days after taking the job for Mr. Welles, Kid rode slowly back into town. Rounding up strays for a week and a half and sleeping in the dirt had left him desperately longing for a nice hot bath and a big dinner at a real table. As he looked around the street seemed deserted. Only a few people were walking around, and they seemed to be in a bit of a panic. A knot began to tighten in his stomach. What was going on? He felt a growing urgency to find Heyes.

Dismounting near the hotel, he left his horse at the hitching post and walked in to ask about Heyes. The desk clerk informed him that Mr. Smith was still staying there, and that he’d been working out at a small ranch owned by a widow by the name of Hollis. The image that came to Kid’s mind was of a little old lady. He shook his head. That didn’t sound like Heyes. What was he up to?

Walking back out onto the street, he immediately became aware of a confrontation occurring between the sheriff and another man. He stepped back and waited to find out what was going on.

“No man tells me where I can go and where I can’t” the angry man was shouting at the sheriff.

“I’m telling you that you’ve been exposed to typhoid fever, and if you leave now and ride out of here, you could be taking it with you and exposing innocent people in the next town. Everyone who has been exposed is under quarantine until we know who’s got it and who doesn’t,”

Curry felt the knot in his stomach tighten again. Typhoid, that was bad.

The man in the street looked for a moment like he might try and draw on the sheriff, but then seemed to change his mind. “O.K. sheriff, anything you say,” he said coldly.

The sheriff turned and started walking back across the street.

Curry continued to watch, as, to his dismay, the man pulled his gun and aimed it at the sheriff, his intent clear.

Just as he cocked his gun, Curry’s fired, sending the other man’s gun flying out of his hand and scooting across the street.

The sheriff spun around, his own gun in his hand. A glance at the man clutching his hand and the gun in the street told him all he needed to know. Holstering his gun, he approached the man who’d fired. Curry drew in a quick breath.

“I’m Sheriff Cooper. It appears I owe you for stopping that fool from shooting me. I’m grateful to you, Mister?”

“Jones, Thaddeus Jones,” Curry replied, shaking the sheriff’s hand.

“Ralph will thank you too, when he comes to his senses, the talk of typhoid just makes some people a little crazy,”

Curry looked over at ‘Ralph’ who was examining his bent gun with a scowl on his face. He doubted the man would thank him.

“I should arrest you for attempted murder, Ralph,” the sheriff warned. “But I’ll settle for you just going on back out to your place and waiting out the quarantine,”

With a long hard stare at Curry, Ralph turned and walked back down the street.

“You’re a friend of that fella Smith, aren’t you?”

“That’s right, I was just looking for him, as a matter of fact,”

“He’s been doing a fine job helping Mrs. Hollis out, it’s a real shame about the little girl though,” Sheriff Cooper sighed and shook his head.

“What little girl?” Curry asked nervously.

“Oh, her daughter, Virginia, she came down with typhoid yesterday. Your friend’s over there now helping out,”

Curry stepped back as the full weight of the realization hit him. “Does that mean my friend is under this quarantine too?” Did that mean that Heyes had been exposed to typhoid?

“Well, yes, for two weeks, until the incubation period is over,”

“The what?” Curry asked.

“Incubation period. That’s how long it takes to know if you’ve got the fever. If you don’t show symptoms by then, you probably don’t have it and you’re probably not contagious,”

“Can I talk to him?” Curry asked, unsure just how contagious typhoid was.

“Oh sure, you can’t catch it just by talking. I have to ride out that way and check on a few more families. If you want to ride along I’ll show you where the Hollis place is. To be honest, I could use the help. I have a quite a few supplies to get to delivered out to those families and it’s a bit more than one horse can carry,”

“Sure, Sheriff,” Curry said with a practiced smile. He hoped the man couldn’t tell how nervous he was. Maybe he would misinterpret his nervousness as fear of typhoid, and not fear of being this close to a lawman for such a long time.


It was late afternoon by the time Curry rode into Rebecca Hollis’s yard after helping the sheriff with his deliveries. He suspected that Sheriff Cooper had also wanted him along as backup in case any of the other residents got a little ‘crazy’ like Ralph had.

He saw Heyes by the side of the house stacking firewood and called out to his friend. “Joshua!”

Heyes looked up and smiled when he saw his partner.

“Well it’s about time you got back. Look at all of this wood I had to chop by myself. My back is killing me. I’m tellin’ you Kid, I’m exhausted,”

“Hey, I’m the one who’s been in the saddle twelve hours a day for the last ten days,” Curry said defensively, then frowned, Heyes didn’t look too well.

“What’s this I’ve been hearing about typhoid? The sheriff says you’re quarantined or something?”

“Yeah,” His face turned serious. “Little Ginny came down with it, so I’m not supposed to leave town for a couple weeks. This could be a real problem. If I take off now, the sheriff might get suspicious,”

“Well we can’t stay here two more weeks,” Curry said irritated.

As Curry waited for Heyes to respond, a pretty brunette appeared in the doorway of the house.

“Joshua, is there any more—oh, hello, you must be Thaddeus. I must look a sight,” she said self consciously wiping her hands on her apron.

“Oh, no ma’am, I mean, yes I’m Thaddeus,” So this was what Heyes was up to.

“Joshua has been such a help, and my Ginny just adores him. She hasn’t really trusted any man since her father died, but Joshua has really helped bring her out of her shell. Children really are good judges of character you know. Excuse me, I need to get back inside,” She smiled over at Heyes and turned back into the house.

Kid had been smiling politely, but as soon as she turned to go back into the house he said out of the corner of his mouth to Heyes, “Let’s hope by the time she grows up she becomes a little better judge of character,” Heyes tried to look insulted, but neither of them could keep a straight face and they both broke into grins.

“Heyes, let’s just ride outta here, that sheriff has too many other things to worry about than where we are right now,”

“Yeah, you may be right, Kid, let me just get my gear,” As he reached to pick up his saddle and put it on his horse he staggered and let out a grunt.

“Heyes, you okay?” Kid asked nervously.

“Sure, I’m just a little tired. And a little dizzy…” He swayed and fell down clutching his stomach,”

“Heyes!” Curry shouted, forgetting his partner’s alias and ran over to help him up.

When he put his arm around Heyes to help him up, he gasped and stared at his friend.

“Heyes, you’re burning up,”

Kid’s head was swimming. Heyes was sick. There was no way he could ride out of here like this. He tried not to imagine the worst—that Heyes had typhoid, but the evidence was overwhelming. He stared at his partner, expecting him to come up with a plan, but Heyes only moaned slightly and squeezed his eyes closed tightly, trying not to be sick.  

Rebecca Hollis appeared in the doorway again and gasped.

“Oh no, Joshua, not you too? Bring him inside,” she instructed Curry, who wrapped Heyes’ arm over his shoulder and half carried him into the house. He layed Heyes down where Mrs. Hollis indicated, and then sat down beside him. Heyes’ face was flushed and sweaty, but his eyes were open.

“It looks like you won that coin toss after all, partner,” he said weakly, and then closed his eyes.

Kid looked startled, but Mrs. Hollis put her hand on his shoulder.

“It’s all right, he’s just sleeping. You look like you could use a good night’s sleep too, and a bath,” She raised her eyebrows slightly and Kid blushed.

“Why don’t you go on back to town. I’ll look after him here, there’s nothing more you can do tonight. He’s a strong man, he’ll pull through. I’m sure of it,” she said reassuringly. Kid looked up at her, wanting desperately to believe her.


The next morning, Kid walked out of his hotel and down the street toward the doctor’s office. He almost ran right into the doctor who came hurrying out his front door just as Kid was about to walk in.

“Excuse me, Dr. Lewis?” Kid called several times as he followed along behind the doctor.

“Yes, what is it?” The doctor turned and seemed to notice him for the first time.

“Doc, I was wondering if you were planning on stopping by Mrs. Hollis’s place today?”

“Yes, she’s on my route for today, why?”

“Well, it’s just that my friend is sick and she’s looking after him too now,” The doctor could hear that the young man’s voice was full of concern.

“Oh, I see, do you mean Mr. Smith?”

“Yes, I do,” Kid said slowly, surprised that the doctor knew Heyes.

“Well I’ll look in on him too then. First I have to get some beds set up in the church hall. That’s where we’re taking those that don’t have anyone at home to take care of them. Some entire families have become sick. Typhoid nursing is an arduous task, the patient must be tended to almost constantly. The proper care makes all the difference in the recovery you know. I could use a hand getting things set up, would you mind?”

“Ah, well doc, I was planning on going to see my friend this morning,”

“I’ll make you a deal, I’ll ride out and take a look at him myself as soon as we’re finished at the church,” The doctor turned and continued on his way, as though the matter had been settled. Kid sighed and followed him over to the church.

The church hall was busy with men and women setting up cots and dispersing bedding and towels. Behind the church, a fire pit had been built to heat water for cleaning and sterilizing. Kid saw several large kettles that held boiling water, and lines that had been tied to dry the clothing and bedding.

“All of the drinking water must be boiled first, and all soiled linens must be boiled and washed with lye soap,” He heard one of the women instructing several others near the laundry area.

He looked across the churchyard and saw the doctor talking to a small group on the other side of the building. As he approached he recognized Sheriff Cooper and the Reverend.

“Hello there Thaddeus, the sheriff called out when he saw him. You’ve met Reverend Matthews, and this is my wife, Mrs. Cooper. Dear, this is Thaddeus Jones, the one I told you about yesterday,”

Mrs. Cooper smiled warmly and he tipped his hat in acknowledgement. She was a plain looking woman a few years older than Kid. She had on a simple work dress and wore her hair knotted up in a practical fashion, but her features were pleasant, Kid noticed.

The doctor looked up briefly. “I was just explaining about proper sanitation. All chamber pots must be carefully handled and all contents buried in a deep trench. The sheriff is going to oversee this,”

Curry was quickly becoming aware of the immensity of the task at hand. Not only did the patients need caring for, but the containment of the disease would require diligent cleaning and proper handling of everything that they came in contact with.

“Sheriff, if you bring me a shovel, I’ll start digging,” Kid offered, resigned to the task.


It was late afternoon by the time Dr. Lewis finished with the patients at the church. Kid was more than ready to turn his shovel over to the next volunteer. The two men rode quietly out to the ranch, each deep in his own thoughts. The doctor thinking of all of his patients, and whether or not he could contain the typhoid before it became a full-blown epidemic.  Kid thinking of the sick people he had seen today and wondering how Mrs. Hollis was going to be able to care for both her daughter and Heyes all by herself.

When the two arrived at the house, they found Mrs. Hollis trying to get Ginny to drink a little chicken broth. Heyes was sitting up in bed, looking tired and flushed, but awake. After two brief exams, the doctor and Mrs. Hollis stepped out onto the porch to talk.

“What do you look so worried for Kid? I’ll be fine in a couple days, and we can ride out like we planned,” He sounded like he believed it, but Kid knew Heyes wouldn’t be riding anywhere in couple of days.

“Heyes,” Kid began cautiously, “you know this thing gets a whole lot worse before it starts getting better,”

Heyes looked up at his partner with a disbelieving look.

“Heyes, I saw some people down at the church, they couldn’t even get out of bed to…” he paused and looked embarrassed to continue, “and some of ‘em, they were talking out of their heads the whole time, delirious,”

Heyes forced a smile and casual glance. “What are saying Kid, that I might tell Rebecca who we are?”

“No, I’m saying you might just describe the whole floor plan to the bank at Fort Worth,” He grinned as he said it, but Heyes knew he was just trying to lighten the mood. He knew Kid Curry, and he could tell that his partner was seriously worried. He groaned as stomach pains and his aching head once again took his attention away. He closed his eyes and seemed to drift off into sleep again.

Kid stood and walked out onto the porch where he joined Mrs. Hollis and the doctor. Dr. Lewis was just finishing going over his instructions.

“And make sure to get them plenty of soup and liquids,” he was saying. “Try to get them to drink a little broth every half hour if you can. Everyone says feed a cold starve a fever, but with typhoid the fever can last for several weeks so they need nourishment,”

Kid’s eyes widened at that and he looked from the doctor to Mrs. Hollis. How could Heyes stay here for several weeks?

The doctor gave them both an encouraging nod and headed off to his next house call.

“Ma’am, I want to thank you for looking after Joshua, I know you must be awful tired, taking of your daughter too. I can take him into town if it’s too much for you,”

She gave him a small tired smile. “Joshua wouldn’t even be sick if he hadn’t been here working at my home. He didn’t really want to come, but Ginny…” she stopped and looked away.

“Oh, no ma’am, I mean it’s all over town. The doc isn’t sure where it started, but there are a whole lot of people sick. He mighta caught it anyway. Please don’t blame yourself,” He gave her a reassuring smile and she looked back at him thankfully.

“Please, call me Rebecca. We don’t have to be so formal, and it sounds as if we’re going to be spending a lot of time together for a while,”

Kid smiled uneasily. Spending time with a pretty woman was never something he objected to, but these weren’t the conditions he would have chosen.


Setting: One week later. Inside of the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Matthews is seated behind the desk as an angry man storms in.

“Sheriff, you get a response to that telegram yet?” Ralph snarled, planting his palms down on the desk and leaning over so that he was eye level with Sheriff Matthews.

“Now just be patient, Ralph, the Marshall is a busy man. I’ll let you know if I hear anything,”

“Remember, if he is Curry, I’m claiming that reward. I figured it out first,”

“Sure Ralph, if he is Curry. I’m not convinced though. I want to wait until I get that detailed description back from the Marshall, I’m not going over there and accuse a man of a thing like that without a little more proof,”

Reluctantly, Ralph turned and left the office.  

Sheriff Cooper let out a long slow sigh as he watched Ralph leave. Slowly he pulled open his top desk drawer and took out a piece of paper. He looked down at the telegram response with a troubled look on his face.


Kid Curry slumped in saddle as he rode wearily up to Rebecca’s ranch house. It was long past sunset, later than his regular arrival time but the work in town had taken longer than usual. The numbers of sick were continuing to increase and a few of the caregivers had even come down with the disease. With more to do and fewer to do it, the days were becoming longer for the volunteers. He would have liked to have gone back to his hotel room and fallen flat on his bed. He doubted that he would have even bothered to undress, but if he didn’t come out to Rebecca’s he knew she would get no rest at all. She spent every day caring for Ginny and Heyes, so Kid’s visits were a much needed respite. He knew she couldn’t fully relax without knowing that someone was keeping an eye on Ginny and getting the much needed fluids into her.

As Curry tapped softly on the front door he wondered if Rebecca had fallen asleep. Quietly he walked into the house and looked around. He found Rebecca sitting in a chair by Ginny’s bed.

“Oh!” She exclaimed looking up startled, “I didn’t hear you ride up,”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he apologized, suddenly wishing he had waited on the porch until she came to the door.

“Oh, no. I’m glad to see you. I was afraid you weren’t coming out tonight,” she admitted, looking pleased to see him.

“What’s that?” He asked, looking over her shoulder at a photo of a young man that she held in her lap.

“This is a photograph of my husband,” she answered. “You remind me of him, you know, Thaddeus,” She paused and a sad look came over her face. “He didn’t like ranch work either,”

“How did you know I–I mean I never said I didn’t like–”

She looked up at him with laughter in her eyes. “A woman can tell things about a man, Thaddeus,” She said it in a way that made him slightly uncomfortable.

“You like excitement, challenge, maybe even a little danger?”

Well, if your husband didn’t like ranching, why did he buy a ranch?” Kid questioned, in an attempt to steer the conversation away from himself.

“He didn’t,” she said brusquely, a shadow coming over her face again. “The ranch was my family’s, I inherited it when my father died. William wanted to sell it, but I thought it would make a good stable home for Ginny. Before we were married, William worked as a dynamiter for the railroad. He promised me after our wedding, that he would not take any more dangerous jobs,” She looked down and seemed lost in thought for a moment.

“The ranch hadn’t been doing well and we needed more money to fix things up. He told me that he was going to take a few head of cattle up north and sell them. He’d be gone a few weeks. He lied to me Thaddeus. He took a job working as a dynamiter again. I don’t think he was even going to tell me, but there was an accident…the mine where he’d been working contacted me…” Her voice broke off and Kid put his hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Rebecca,” he said gently. “Why don’t you get a little sleep and let me take over for a while?”

She nodded and slowly rose and went into her room.  Kid watched her go with a heavy heart. He knew this was the reason he could never let a woman get close to him. He couldn’t put a woman through that kind of loss.

One week later, the early morning sun is rising over the main street of town.

Kid Curry walked from his hotel over to the make-shift hospital to begin his usual routine of digging a ditch for the contents of the buckets that had been filled overnight. He noticed others starting fires to boil the water necessary for all of the daily washing of soiled bed sheets and towels. The town was already busy with activity. Glancing over at the Sheriff’s office he saw Sheriff Cooper standing on the porch with a cup of coffee.

Sheriff Cooper took a sip from his coffee and looked around as he stood outside his office. He saw everybody busily moving about, helping the sick as much as they could. It was comforting to see that in a crisis such as this, so many were rising to the occasion and helping out. But the smile on his face faded as he noticed the young man who had just begun digging out behind the church. Mr. Jones. What was he to do with him? If Ralph was right, and after that fast draw Jones displayed earlier he most likely was, it meant that his town was hosting one of the most notorious outlaws in the west. But whatever the legend told, it was in total contrast with what he had seen these last two weeks.

“Hey there, stranger,”

Cooper looked aside and smiled as his wife approached and gave him a comforting hug.

“You’re worrying,” she said, noting the frown on his face. When her husband did not reply she followed his gaze.

“You know, I heard some tales about that young man,” she said as they watched how Curry now dragged two heavy buckets to the pit he had just dug. Her husband still did not reply, but merely lowered his head and brought his gaze to the cup in his hands.

“Tom? What is it?”

“His name ain’t Jones. It’s Kid Curry,” he finally admitted, as much to himself as to his wife.

“Yes, that’s the rumor I’ve heard. What are you going to do?”

Cooper let out a heavy sigh as he looked up again.

“What can I do? If I don’t take him in, Ralph will get some men together and try to take him in himself, and lord knows what would happen then,” He didn’t even want to think about the possibilities.

His wife looked into his eyes with love and respect. “I know you’ll do the right thing,” she said confidently, and then left to go begin her own day of helping with the dauntless task of typhoid nursing.

Reluctantly, Cooper followed his wife over to the church.

“Morning, Jones,” The Sheriff greeted Kid as he walked over to him.

“Morning, Sheriff,” Kid noted the uneasy look on the Sheriff’s face.

“How’s your friend Smith doing?”

“Uh, not too good Sheriff, the doc thinks he’s probably going through the worst of it now,” The worry was evident in his voice.

“I’m sorry to hear that, I’ve noticed you’ve been spending more time out there. My wife was out to see Rebecca yesterday and she said you’ve been a big help to her. I’m—sorry that this quarantine has kept you here longer than you’d intended. The doctor tells me that he thinks the typhoid may be contained, if there are no new cases this week the quarantine can be lifted. You’d be able to leave town,” He looked at the other man to see his reaction.

“Well, that’s good news, but I won’t be going anywhere until my friend is well enough to travel,”

“You could always meet up with him later,” Cooper looked at him pointedly.

“Well, we’ve been partners a long time, I’m not going to run out on him while he’s sick,” Kid replied, wondering why the Sheriff would even suggest such a thing.

“No, I didn’t really think you would,” Sheriff Cooper said in a strange tone.

Every instinct that Curry had developed over the years was screaming that he should run, but he couldn’t—wouldn’t leave Heyes while he was sick. His body tense, he looked meaningfully at the sheriff.

“Is there something you’re not telling me?”

The sheriff sighed and shook his head.

“No, it’s just that I figured you’d need to be moving on, what with no work here in town. I have to say you certainly have been a big help here though. Well, speaking of help, I’d better see what I can do. See you around, Thaddeus,”


Kid couldn’t get rid of the uneasy feeling that his conversation with the sheriff had brought on. That afternoon, on his ride out to Rebecca’s ranch he was feeling particularly anxious.

When he arrived at the house, he noticed Rebecca out hanging her washing. She looked up as “Jones” approached and ran over to him as he jumped down from his horse. She had a big smile on her face.

“Oh Thaddeus, Ginny’s fever is down and she’s sitting up talking, the doctor was here this morning and he says she’s going to be fine,”

She looked so happy and relieved that Kid couldn’t resist giving her a big hug. They stood there for a moment, sharing the joy and also the comfort that comes from being held by another person.

As though suddenly realizing what she was doing, Rebecca pulled away and blushed.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me,” she said looking embarrassed.

“You were just happy about your daughter, that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Kid assured her, stepping back. “How’s Joshua this afternoon?”

The look on her face turned more solemn. “His fever is still high and he’s still out of his head much of the time, but I know he will come out of it in a few more days, just like Ginny did,”

Kid smiled and nodded. A few more days? They might not have a few more days if he was right about Sheriff Cooper.

Together they walked inside.

“Hello there Ginny, you sure are looking better,” Kid told her with a smile.

“Thank you Mr. Jones, and Joshua will get better too, I know it,” she said confidently.

Kid turned his gaze to the other side of the room where Heyes lay tossing and turning. Every now and then a small moan escaped his lips.

Kid closed his eyes. Heyes you just have to get better soon.

“Mr. Jones? Are you and Joshua train robbers?”

Kid felt like he’d just been punched in the stomach. Slowly he turned around and forced a small smile onto his face. “What did you say?” He asked sure that he had misunderstood her.

“I asked if you and Joshua were—”

“Virginia!” Her mother said harshly from the door. “It’s not polite to talk like that.

“I’m sorry, Thaddeus, she has a very vivid imagination,” Rebecca said uneasily.

“Oh, I understand, but Ginny, what gave you that idea?” Kid asked, trying to sound casual.

“Because it’s what he talks about when he’s feverish,” she said simply.

“Oh, well, it must be all those dime novels he reads, they just fill his mind,” Kid tried to laugh and hoped it sounded believable.

“I’m just going to finish this laundry,” Rebecca said as she went back outside.

Kid followed her out, not sure what he planned to say, but feeling the need to talk to her.

“Ginny looks like she’s feeling a lot better,” he said, trying to sound cheerful.

“Yes, I’m so relieved. Maybe tomorrow when you come by Joshua will be feeling better too,”

She seemed to have accepted his explanation and he was relieved.

Later that evening he sat at Heyes’ bedside and watched his friend tossing and turning in the bed. What on earth was he going to do? Leaving was no option—Heyes was still too sick to move, let alone ride a horse. But staying was no option either. Kid closed his eyes for a moment, to try and organize his thoughts. It wasn’t long before the exhausting days of work and worry took their toll and he drifted off to sleep.


Setting: Sheriff Cooper’s home, the next morning

After a short night’s sleep, Tom Cooper decided he might as well get dressed. He looked down at his wife who was still sleeping and then tiptoed to the kitchen. He made himself some coffee and sat down at the kitchen table, gazing through the window where a new day was about to begin. He appreciated the solitude of the early morning. His household had been a little busier lately since his brother-in-law had moved in with them.

He was still sitting there when his wife came down an hour later. She tapped lightly on the door to get her husband’s attention. As he glanced up, the worried frown on his face relaxed slightly.

”My, you’re up early,” she remarked as she took his mug and threw away the now cold coffee.

“I have a lot to get done today,” He answered, staring down at his hands folded on the table.

“When is that Marshall coming?” she asked as she filled two new mugs with coffee. She sat down across from her husband and regarded him sympathetically. She knew he didn’t want to see this happen, but she also knew that he had sworn an oath to uphold the law and would never do anything outright illegal.

“He will be here early tomorrow morning, bringing several men with him, I suppose. They plan to arrest Curry and take him back with them to Cheyenne. Evidently they don’t trust local jails—it seems he has a bit of a reputation for escaping from them. They want to go out and see his friend Smith too. If he’s who they think he is, they’ll leave a couple of men there until he’s well enough to travel,”

“We should warn them,” Mrs. Cooper suddenly stated. She turned to her husband, her face lightened with excitement as she came up with at a brilliant idea. “They could go to Ethan’s cabin,”

“What? That one he has up in the mountains?”  

“Why yes! If we’d warn them, they could hide out there. I mean, remember the last time we tried to find it?”

Cooper thought about it and considered the possibilities. His wife was right, the cabin was a perfect hiding place. It was well hidden and very remote. A person could easily spend several weeks there without being noticed. Then he shook his head.

“How are we going to warn them? I for one can’t go to Rebecca’s place. If that Marshall comes and finds them gone, they’d suspect me for sure. Which is also the reason you can’t go,”

“But what if someone else warned them?” Mrs. Cooper suggested, suddenly feeling less enthusiastic about her impulsive idea, but not yet willing to give up on it.

“Like who?” her husband asked.

At that moment his brother-in-law stumbled into the kitchen, his hair still messy as he buttoned his shirt.

“Good morning Tom and good morning, dear sister,” he greeted cheerfully as he kissed his sister’s hair.

“Boy, that coffee smells delicious. May I?”

As Reverend Matthews poured himself a cup of coffee, his sister and her husband said nothing, but shared the same thought. Silently they had an entire conversation, to which Reverend Ethan Matthews remained oblivious. When the couple did not reply to his greeting, Ethan looked at his sister and husband, who in return back at him with strangely satisfied smiles on their faces. It made him feel uncomfortable and cautiously he asked, “What is going on?”


Setting:  Bedroom at the Hollis ranch

Kid woke up the next morning when sunbeams hit his face. For a moment he wondered where he was. He looked around and noticed he had fallen asleep in the big chair, at the foot of Heyes’ bed. He was angry with himself for falling asleep like that. By the looks of it, it was already past eight and he had to get back to town. Irritated he got up and then bewilderedly searched for his hat.

“It’s on the table,”

Without thought Kid grabbed the hat, planted it on his hat and marched out the door. He took one step outside when the realization dawned on him. He turned around and saw Heyes smile weakly at him. Although he inwardly was bursting with joy and relief, Kid decided against a happy dance. Instead he leaned against the doorpost and smiled.

“Gee—about time you woke up,”

It sounded like a complaint, but Heyes knew what lay behind. It was clear to see that the long days of hard work and short nights filled with worry and little sleep had left their traces. Kid had aged several years in the last few weeks, it seemed. Not willing to let his friend suffer any more, Heyes heaved himself up a bit and gave him one of his best smiles. Or at least the best he could offer at that moment.

“Nice to see you too,”

Kid decided to inform his friend straight away.

“Heyes, I don’t mean to rush you but..,” he hesitated for a moment before continuing with a heavy sigh, “We gotta talk about when you can ride out of here. I don’t like the looks I’ve been getting in town the last few days. I think the sheriff tried to warn me, but I ain’t sure. ”

Heyes nodded and wanted to say something, but then someone grabbed Kids leg. He looked down and saw Ginny on her knees between his legs, peeking in. Her face was one big smile when she saw Heyes was awake.

“Hey, I sure am glad to see you up and about,” Heyes said cheerfully to the little girl.

“I’ve been better for two days now, we were just waitin’ for you,” She gave him a big grin.

Rebecca appeared next at the door, she brought a mug of chicken broth for Heyes and a cup of coffee for Kid. “I just knew you’d be better today,” She said smiling as she handed him the soup.

Heyes and Kid looked at each other and both frowned slightly. They both knew they would have to leave soon, but not sure how they were going to travel or where they were going to go. They were still sitting there trying to think of something to say when they heard a rider approaching. With a nervous glance toward Heyes, Kid went to look out of the window. To his surprise, he recognized the rider as Reverend Matthews.


“What brings you out this way Reverend?” Kid asked hesitantly, meeting Reverend Matthews on the porch.

“Just checking on the members of my flock,” the Reverend replied loudly, then leaned over and whispered, “and another matter that we need to discuss privately,”

“Mrs. Hollis, would you mind if I had a word in private with these two gentlemen?”

Rebecca started to protest, but noting the seriousness in the man’s tone, she took Ginny by the hand and walked outside.

“I have a message for you from my sister and brother-in-law,” He said as soon as they were alone. “You two must leave here today,”

“Oh now wait a minute Reverend, we’ve been following all of your rules and–” Heyes began.

“No, no I’m not trying to run you out of town, quite the opposite,” Reverend Matthews cut in. “You’re in danger if you stay here,”

Kid felt a familiar feeling of dread washing over him.

“What kinda trouble,” He asked warily, afraid he already knew the answer.

“Ralph figured out you are really…Kid Curry,” he paused and waited for a reaction, but Kid only stared back at him with an unreadable expression on his face, “and sent word to Cheyenne. A Marshall and some men are due in tomorrow morning,”

Kid closed his eyes, trying to hold down his rising panic.

“Heyes, we gotta get moving. We’re going to need every bit of this one day head start to outrun that posse,” He wouldn’t embarrass his partner by stating the obvious–that Heyes was in no condition to outrun anything.

“But then I don’t have to outrun a posse,” Heyes contradicted, in an icy tone, “because we’re staying here,”

Kid was baffled.

“Heyes, we can’t,”

“Sure we can. Because the way I see it–”

Heyes started to argue, clearly remembering the first time he met the Reverend and he was convinced that the man was not trying to be a Good Samaritan. The way he saw it, people like Reverend Matthews just didn’t help outlaws like him and the Kid unless they had some kind of ulterior motive. But unlike Kid, Heyes had not been in town regularly over the past few weeks. And when he had been there, he had tried to stay as far away from the Reverend and the sheriff as possible.

Meanwhile, Reverend Matthews was sensing the danger that he could be in if he had misjudged these two men. Heyes might not have his full strength back yet, but he was certainly beginning to sound dangerous. And Kid Curry–well his reputation was widely known.

“Mr. Heyes, I–” the Reverend tried to interrupt.

“¬What’s in it for you Reverend? Is this some kind of trap? Do you have some of your buddies just up the road waiting to ambush us and take the reward for yourselves? Maybe you’d like to finance a new church hall with-”

“Heyes, shut up!

Both Heyes and the Reverend stopped abruptly and turned around to look at Kid
Curry. He looked almost desperate enough to draw his gun on them.

“He isn’t lying. I heard people talk about it when I was in town,”

Heyes could only stare at his partner, dumbfounded that Curry would take this man’s side over his.

“Ralph has been suspicious of me ever since I drew on him when I first got back to town. I think the Sheriff even tried to warn me once himself,” He sighed, the urgency was weighing on him.

“Well, Mr. Heyes is right about one thing,” The Reverend began, with a hint of a smile on his face. “He won’t have to outrun any posses, he’ll only have to make a slow half days ride up into the mountains,”

“What good would that do, we got no supplies, we can’t camp out and besides, they’d search for us,” Kid looked skeptical. He was beginning to think the Reverend would be no help to them after all.

“No, they wouldn’t search the mountains because like you said, it would be foolish for you to head up there alone. They’d expect you to head toward a neighboring town, so of course they’d look in those directions. I have a cabin, an old hunting cabin that my father used to use. It’s just about a half days ride up toward–well I’ll draw out some directions–it’s actually very difficult to find. Rather hidden,” He gave Curry a conspiratorial glance. “I keep it fully stocked with provisions for at least a month. You never know this time of year, when a surprise snowstorm could catch you by surprise and block you in for a couple of weeks,”

When he had finished, Reverend Matthews held his breath and prayed he was right about these two.

Curry spoke first. “I believe him Heyes,” He said squarely, his eyes meeting his partner’s in a silent appeal for trust.

“Forget it, I’m not going,” Heyes stated bluntly.

“Heyes!” Curry almost shouted, “We’ve gotta get out of here. This is the best chance we’ve got,”

“No,” He said stiffly.

Curry stared at him is disbelief, more hurt that Heyes wouldn’t trust him than mad at him. Not willing to show his hurt, he merely said,

“Fine. You stay and I’ll go. We’ll meet up soon as you feel fit to ride,”

Heyes nodded and Kid and the reverend turned around, closing the door as they left. As Kid walked out, he thought about what had been said. Heyes was right, it probably was for the best they split. Then he shook his head. He told reverend Matthews to wait for him and went back into Heyes’ room. He grabbed Heyes’ pants from the chair and threw it at Heyes.

“I’m fetching the horses. Be dressed and ready when I get back,”

And then he left the room once more. He went to the stables, prepared the horses and then returned to the house to pick up Heyes. Kid handed the reigns to the reverend and then walked inside. But Heyes still sat on the bed, his pants on the chair next to the bed.

“Told you to get dressed,” Kid said.

“I ain’t going,”

“Yes, you are. Whether you want or not,”

“Kid, I’d only slow you down!” There he’d said it, maybe now Kid would realize he’d have to ride out alone if he wanted to get away.

Kid merely rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall.  

“If you want me to leave you here, you gotta come up with a better excuse. So far, you’re still coming,”

“How do you expect me to ride? Every time I start to sit up I feel like I'm about to pass out!" He hated revealing his weakness, but Kid just wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“Don't worry - I got some rope to tie you to the horse,” Kid said gruffly. Heyes stared at his partner.

“You know what? Right now I don’t know who I should be more afraid of; you or that posse!”

But Kid knew he’d won the battle when Heyes heaved a frustrated sigh and grumbled,

“Give me five minutes,”

Kid Curry stepped outside and found himself face to face with Rebecca, who had returned to the house and was standing on the porch. The look in her eyes as she glared at him told him she’d heard the conversation that had just taken place.

“Rebecca, I’m sorry, believe me–”

“Oh I believed you, Mr. Curry. I believed you when you told me your name was Thaddeus Jones. I believed you when you said you were out of work ranch hands. I believed you when you said Joshua read too many dime novels! Just like I believed my husband when he promised he’d never take another dynamiting job–” she broke off and looked away.

Emotions were churning inside of him. Fear of the posse heading out after them, worry over Heyes’ condition, regret for the hurt he’d caused Rebecca.

“Don’t,” It came out harsher than he’d intended. “Don’t compare me to your husband. Heyes and I lied to save ourselves. Your husband lied because he loved you, so you wouldn’t worry, so he could provide more for you and Ginny. He didn’t plan on leaving you alone Rebecca, it was an accident,” She stared at him for a moment, surprised by his abruptness, then turned and hurried inside.

Curry’s face was impassive as he joined Reverend Matthews by the stable and methodically checked over their gear and supplies. He half expected the Reverend to launch into a sermon on the evils of lying or some such thing, but the man simply handed him the hand drawn map that he had just made and began to quietly explain how to find the cabin.  

A few minutes later, Heyes emerged from the house fully dressed–including his gun belt and black hat. Walking stiffly, he slowly approached Curry and Matthews.

“Look, Reverend, I know I’ve been sick for a while, but there’s one thing I don’t understand. When did you start helping train robbers? Doesn’t that book of yours say stealing is a sin?”

“It does, Mr. Heyes, but that’s not all it says. It also talks about repentance—turning away from sinful acts and leading an honest life, becoming a new man whose past is no longer held against him. I don’t know too much about who you were, but the men I’ve seen here the last few weeks,” he glanced at Curry and then back to Heyes, “did a lot of good for the people around here. Those are the men I’m helping,”

Rebecca appeared on the porch just as Ginny rounded the house with the basket of eggs her mother had sent her to collect.  

“Joshua, please don’t go!” Ginny cried out as she dropped the basket and ran to Heyes, throwing her arms around his legs.

“Whoa, now it’s ok,” He said soothingly.  “I’d like to stay Ginny, I really would, but I can’t,” He knelt down and gave her an apologetic smile.

“Promise you’ll come back real soon and visit?” She looked at him with pleading eyes.

He started to give her his promise, but a glance at Rebecca changed his mind.

“I can’t promise that Ginny. I’d like to, but I can’t because I might not be able to keep it,”

“My daddy promised he’d come home and he didn’t. He didn’t keep his promise,” She said sadly.

Heyes swallowed hard. “Well, Ginny, sometimes things happen that people can’t change, and it’s not because they don’t want to. I know your daddy would have wanted to stay with you more than anything else in the whole world,” He wrapped her into a big hug. He could tell that she was crying and he had to blink several times to keep tears from forming in his own eyes.

“You take care of Jed now, I’m sure he’ll be much happier with a decent breakfast,” He smiled as he caught a glimpse of his partner staring at him with a bewildered look on his face.

“Rebecca,” Heyes said, turning to look at her finally. “I’m sorry we have to leave like this, and for not telling you the truth about who we were. I can’t begin to thank you enough for all you’ve done,” Her face seemed to soften slightly as she looked back at him. She gave him a small smile and nodded.

“You’d…be welcome here…if you ever get back this way,” She said haltingly and glanced over at Kid, who had been sitting on his horse quietly watching them. The look on her face implied that she meant both of them.

“Come on Thaddeus, let’s get going,” Heyes said in a confident voice, which he hoped hid his own uncertainty over his ability to travel. He slowly mounted and sat stiffly as he walked his horse toward the road.

Kid took one last look at Rebecca, who was standing between Ginny and Reverend Matthews. Their eyes met for a moment and he wasn’t quite sure what he saw there. Hurt? Confusion? …Concern? He turned his gaze back toward his partner and nudged his horse forward.

Curry followed Heyes out toward the road, eying his partner cautiously as he rode up beside him. “You going to be able to ride?”

“We’ve been over this before, Kid, you concentrate—”

“I know Heyes, I know,” He smiled remembering another time that he’d almost lost his friend. Nothing kept Hannibal Heyes down for long. He didn’t want to admit to his partner how worried he’d been.

“Heyes, do you think he knows about the amnesty?”

“Naw, Kid, how could he? Kinda sounded like it though didn’t it?” He looked ahead at the mountains with a contemplative look on his face. They rode on for a while, neither saying anything.


“Hey Kid?” Heyes asked after they’d been riding for about an hour.

“What is it? You need to rest?” Kid asked, his voice filled with concern.

“Naw Kid, I was just thinking. Do you suppose it would be too much to ask for that cabin to have a deck of cards and some whiskey in it?”

Curry laughed out loud. “Heyes—it’s good to have you back,” He rode on beside his friend with the first real smile he’d had on his face in what seemed like a very long time.


The End

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